The job monkey

Today I’m writing just to calm my mind. Tim Ferriss talks about the “monkey mind” and how committing its thoughts and impulses to paper can exorcise them.

One of the main things on my mind is my job. I work in the civil service as an entry level senior bureaucrat. There are things I like about it: I don’t have a very busy schedule and very often have entire days to myself to read, listen to podcasts, use social media etc. What I don’t like about it is that the work isn’t challenging and it also doesn’t pay that well (there are no incentive bonuses).

What’s been wrecking my serenity these past two weeks is the drive that I have to do better financially and get back into the bigger private leagues in terms of employer. The question is how to do it. My CV is not a typical one that neatly ticks off boxes like most recruiters want to see. I’ve almost never spent more than a year doing exactly the same thing although I’ve worked in a major bank for 8 years, consulted for 18 months and spent the last 3 and a half years in the same government department. I’m just too curious and eager for new learning experiences to stick in one area of specialization once I’ve figured the challenge out. But most corporates like to see a candidate having landed a job and played out that hand for years until they are considered real specialists in that one thing.

Despite my mixed bag of experience I’ve got some real successes on my CV – two projects for example where I initiated the whole thing and executed it without anybody else telling me to do so or even recognizing the opportunity. Then I have examples, mostly from my investment banking days, where I introduced small innovations on deals that ended up making noteworthy differences to the bank and its clients. My leadership track record is quite strong and goes back to my student days. I know I can make a great positive impact in any job I’m put in, but hiring executives don’t really think like that. Instead they want to see that you’ve done the job you’re getting hired for a million times over and will continue to do it the same way. The talk about innovation, creativity, outside the box leaders etc is just lip service the companies think they have to pay to sound like cool places to work.

My plan to get into the corporate space again is to leverage my vast network of LinkedIn contacts (mostly in financial services). I don’t want to try the recruitment agent route again because I don’t want a cookie cutter type of job description – I’d rather have a senior executive say we need this guy’s brain in our camp and not worry too much about what exactly it is I’ll be doing on a day to day basis (because this will change all the time). I thought of a LinkedIn messaging “campaign” where I would target those connections who can give me work in the companies I want to work for. It was very simplistic and basically went like this: an original very personal intro message where I build rapport with the person followed by one where I highlight my past experience and achievements followed by one where I asked for a job basically. I would do that to dozens of individuals in 20-50 big companies. Luckily I knew this was a flimsy plan and before going right into execution mode I dropped a line to a friend of mine who is a marketing guru with his own web-platformed consultancy and who has decades of experience hawking investment funds all across the world. He is a creative thinker, good writer and definitely at the forefront of using technology to achieve more in business and in life. He gave me some great advice which now shapes the way I’m thinking about this whole career transformation thing. First he told me in no uncertain terms that three messages over three months would never cut it – I needed five to ten times that. Secondly he pointed out that I should think deeply about how I want to position myself (he suggests that I do it as potential adviser to companies instead of a full time hire – I totally agree now). He advised I give away as much as I can for free (which was part of my idea to begin with) and build relationships where I in the process show them what I’m capable of doing. He also highlighted the importance of finding the client’s “pain points” in their businesses and targeting my interactions towards those areas. Who I chose to engage with is also critical and why I’m choosing them.

I’m now working on identifying people from a few companies to start off which and I’m planning how to word my first communication to them. I will have to limit myself to a specific, manageable number of people/companies to begin with and carefully track my communications with each (though I’ll be using standard form messages from number 1 up to number 20 – 50. My job will be to get them to interact with me on the platform or off it so I can build rapport, confidence and find out what it is they may want from me.

OK, now I’ve written enough about that and hopefully my mind will be quiet for a while about this until I have the time to actually start doing it. My target is to have one to three clients for whom I’ll consult within the next year. Let’s see.


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