Being creative is a huge asset in a job search – but being unable to ask for help can weaken it. Find out the pros and cons of being a intuitive job seeker, and how to play to strengths.
I made the case in a previous article, The Challenges of Left-Brained Job Seekers, that job hunting tends to be a pursuit better suited for right-brained individuals.
But being primarily right-brained is not necessarily the fast track to gainful employment and job bliss. Instead, anecdotal evidence suggests that right-brained people have a variety of job search challenges as well. Some of these challenges spring from the way right-brained people think.
On the positive side, right-brained people tend to be among the most open-minded about combining skills and experiences in interesting ways. For example, I once worked with a concert violinist who successfully leveraged her natural leadership and project-management ability to land advertising jobs — despite the fact that she had no experience and had never taken a marketing course. In this case, we used her role as the creator, leader and promoter of a virtual chamber orchestra to position her as a natural marketer who happened to be a violinist. Once she saw the connection and how it related to the needs of potential employers, she embraced it enthusiastically because she knew intuitively it would work.
Intuition is key. After all, every one of us has probably had, at one time or another, a gut instinct we didn’t follow and later wished we had. We just need to trust. That’s what right-brained people do well.
However, there are two specific areas in which right-brained people struggle:
- They sometimes have trouble admitting when they need help.
- They believe their work should speak for itself.
Trouble asking for help
To cite one professional example, many marketing professionals are right-brained, creative thinkers; thus, they are especially inclined to avoid seeking help or even admitting they need it. It’s common to think that the marketing profession automatically bestows the level of expertise necessary to help someone market herself effectively.
Perhaps it should, but it doesn’t.
The truth is, there’s a greater challenge to marketing yourself; you are both product and salesperson. Attempting to do both is difficult because it skews the objectivity to do the job well. For this reason, the smartest marketing people routinely hire outside experts to help them market themselves inside and outside the job search.
Your work speaks for itself
As a coach, I routinely encounter designers, copywriters and other highly creative people who feel that they don’t need to explain great work. It is a challenging objection because there is a certain level of truth and logic to it. Outstanding results do speak for themselves to some degree. But, no matter what the end result — whether it’s a print ad, clothing, furniture or a yacht — it rarely tells the whole story.
It is rarely possible to look at the result of a successful idea and see the obstacles the person faced along the way. Obstacles aren’t nearly so apparent after the fact. The limited budget, the tight schedule and the extraordinarily difficult client don’t — and shouldn’t — show up in the final product.
Nevertheless, these obstacles are important to describe in personal marketing because they help tell the story.
Smart hiring managers don’t just want to know that you can solve problems; they want to know how you solve problems.
That level of detail requires a more logical, left-brained, process-oriented approach as you create an inventory of accomplishments and stories.
To address this issue, consider creating a portfolio — even if you are on the accounting or business side of the marketing process.To be effective, however, the portfolio must include details that describe the scope of the project and the challenges you encountered as well as the results. Otherwise, the hiring manager reviewing the portfolio, who can’t connect the dots the way you can, will be left thinking, “So what?” You’d be far better off spending a little extra time filling in the gaps so they truly appreciate the importance and effort behind your accomplishment.
Get another brain
With all of this in mind, there are two keys to success with respect to right- and left-brained job search challenges.
First, be respectful of what your thinking style does and doesn’t do for you. If you are primarily right-brained, don’t neglect the logical components that will help you tell a compelling, memorable story.
Second, even if you happen to be one of those relatively rare individuals who display right- and left-brain abilities, get another brain involved in your job search. There is no substitute for an objective perspective.