To find a job, expose yourself to new ideas

There are lots of people right now who are unemployed or about to get a redundancy because of the state of the economy. I was that person last year who lost their job. It hurt like hell and it was a long battle fought in my head every day.

I came out on the other side, but I was not the same person.

During these uncertain times, I feel for people who are going through unemployment and facing the difficult task of finding a job.

The typical advice to find a job, I found, is unhelpful. That advice puts you in the same category as everybody else who is also trying to put food on the table. There are record numbers of people looking for a job and you want to at least separate yourself a little bit.

What helped me to find a new job and discover a different career, last year, in a new industry, was exposing myself to new ideas. Here are a few of those ideas.

Intentionally Look for One New Idea Each Day

There are ideas all around you that can help you get through this career challenge. Committing to finding those ideas and setting time aside to explore new ideas can help. An idea can seem useless.

It’s not the initial idea that matters though; it’s where an idea leads you.

Ideas are not endpoints. Ideas are starting points. And you want to start somewhere other than where you are. Where you are right now is looking for a position with your desired job title and if you stay there, you’ll find yourself blaming your former boss, or the company, or your former colleagues. These thoughts will lead you to dark places you don’t want to go to.

New ideas are different. A new idea I explored during my period of unemployment came from this question: “What if my unemployment journey could be documented and could help others?”

This then led me to publish a post on LinkedIn, mentioning how embarrassed I was to become unemployed and showing the raw emotion and manly tears that followed. That post became a magnet. People jumped out of the shadows and into the light to help me.

The invisible became visible — because of my vulnerability.

After the idea for the initial post, I created more articles. I turned my unemployment journey into something people could Google for years to come. It took the focus off myself and made me feel like slightly less of a loser.

A Different Kind of Coach

People expose you to new ideas, too.

I made a decision to seek coaching from people who are not like me. I came into contact with a few recruiters (the supposed enemy) and let them right-hook me to the face with resume and interviewing advice. They told me harsh truths such as:

  • You sound a little entitled.
  • Your writing career could be to your detriment.
  • Talking about a bad boss might be closing doors.
  • You need to look beyond your current industry.
  • Your resume has too many humblebrag stats.
  • You don’t sound real.
  • You haven’t done enough interviews yet.These new ideas were exactly what I needed to hear. It was me who was blocking many of the opportunities I found, not a company or another person.

Go Back to the Old Days

Another new idea was to look for the future in the past.

I went and met as many people as I could who I’d worked with or dealt with in my career. Suppliers, vendors, old bosses, colleagues, recruiters, HR personnel — anyone who had stepped into my career for more than a minute was on the list. The agenda for these conversations was to catch up over coffee.

It started with “where are you right now and what are you doing?” and led into conversations about the past.

By talking about the past, we found rapport again. I then used that rapport to explore the future, and that led to introductions and further conversations.

Finding a job is like solving a crime. You gather evidence, investigate, talk to everyone, and go where the case takes you. Eventually, you find the truth. In the context of my career, the truth looked like this: You are enough.

Experiment With Usefulness

Through talking to different people, one gentleman asked me if I could run a social media session for his team. He didn’t offer to pay me, but I figured, “I’ve got nothing else to do right now.”

So, one Melbourne afternoon I showed up to their office in a 35-floor skyscraper and ran the session free of charge. I gave them all of my strategies for blogging online and shared a few experiences. Most of the time was spent letting them ask questions and looking at practical examples.

The next day the person who asked me to run the session said: “The team found your presentation very useful.”

He didn’t give me a job. What he gave me was several more introductions — we later became friends too.

Start Conversations on LinkedIn

Conversations lead to money.

If you need to find a new job, start a conversation that will lead to one. The more conversations you start, the closer you’ll be to finding a career that helps you earn a living.

LinkedIn is the best place to start conversations because it’s where all the business people hang out. One of these businesses is going to end up hiring you. Last year, I messaged as many people on LinkedIn as I could.

The easiest conversation starter was to talk about something they had posted. I clicked their profile and looked at “recent activity.” This section of someone’s LinkedIn profile helps tell me what they’re up to and what they care about so I can start by asking one question. That one question led to many more, and often to a Zoom call to have a conversation.

I then tracked all of these conversations in a spreadsheet, even though my spreadsheet skills were worse than a monkey in a zoo who has never operated a computer before.

Use conversations to find your new job, rather than relying on job ads.

Meet People With Zero Relevance

When it comes to finding a job, the people who look like they have zero relevance know the people that have all the relevance.

I spoke to an accountant about my tax return (even though I don’t ever want to be an accountant) and they gave me a few new ideas and a brand new contact to speak with. I mentioned my situation to a person in a call center while talking about banking and they too had some ideas, and you guessed it, more contacts.

Everybody has relevance when you’re unemployed.

It’s people that get you out of the darkest of places when you’re unemployed.

If you don’t expose yourself to new ideas while finding a job, you’re going to experience the pain of job ads, rude hiring managers, and recruiters. These are the things that destroy your soul when you’re looking for a job.

The traditional way of finding a job is crowded and it’s exhausting. What helped me was to use the traditional approach coupled with open-mindedness and the desire to hunt down new ideas.

You can find a new job and get there faster when you expose yourself daily to new ideas. These ideas will come from people you least expect and that’s how you’ll find the job that will look like a dream looking back.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

This article originally appeared on Medium.