“Global Talent”?

“Global Talent” is a big buzz phrase these days, isn’t it? Yet the more I talk with companies, the more I find this buzz phrase only applies to the really big firms…if at all.

When you go looking for work, do you limit yourself to a small geographic area, say about a half-hour radius around your home? Many people do.

Also, almost every job interview I went to in the greater Vancouver area included questions about my living in North Vancouver (accessible only by a couple bridges and backed up a mountain range across an inlet from the rest of the region): (Strategic Pause) “…Two bridges? Are you sure you can handle that?” In Vancouver, it’s two bridges to practically anywhere else, and the single highway is terrible. Yes, I’ve had to spend about an hour each way on the road every day for my entire professional career. So what. That’s where the good opportunities are, not in my nice safe bedroom community.

I guess to other people this matters. You’re limiting your opportunities to those within a very small distance. And most employers—they’re waiting for the perfect candidate to drop in from down the block! “Oh, this guy doesn’t live in Surrey, where we are. Cross him off the list.” Isn’t this ridiculous?

My personal recent favorite was a guy looking to build an international business, connecting North Americans with Europeans for something called dental tourism…and he was expecting to find an appropriate, talented partner in his small, inland town. In fact, he wouldn’t consider anyone from outside of his little burg. Riiiight. (He’s still looking.)

How much are you limiting your opportunities by searching only within a tiny region? Are you really in the “global talent” pool?

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Feeling ‘Disabled’ In Your Job Hunt?

I saw something that made me want to continue on from the last post. Random surfing on cnn.com turned up Aimee Mullins. I hadn’t heard of Ms. Mullins before. Her story is fascinating.

Thanks to a birth defect, she had, from the shin down, both her legs and feet amputated. She was told the usual thing: that she would never walk, run, bike, swim etc. like other kids. Her determination, however, opened up so many doors for her that she learned how to become an athlete on prosthetic legs. Now on carbon-fiber feet modeled on a cheetah’s, she’s also an inspiring speaker.

Here’s the article and video. If you’re interested in seeing an example of someone turning adversity into a very valuable life–to the point of saying, if she could magically be given normal legs and feet, she’s not too sure she’d say yes at this point–take the ten minutes and check it out.

What do we take away from this to the job search?

The first thing that leaps to mind is this: keep knocking on doors, getting involved in conversations, being very clear about what you want help with. Ms. Mullins didn’t invent those prosthetic cheetah-like legs & feet…but she was banging on the door to ask the right people to invent them. And look what use of them she’s made!

Seeking killer job hunting tips for a really low investment? Check out my ebook, “Get Hired FAST!


How Well Are You Combating Fear In Your Job Search?

I was talking to a young woman a couple of days ago who was looking for work as a horn player in an orchestra. She complained to me of her lack of experience, and how the orchestral industry was too traditional, stuck in its ways and wouldn’t give her a chance.

My suggestion was that she try something different: figure out a new arrangement on an old piece, or a new (or at least rare) way to show off her skill with the instrument, and youtube it. In other words, create something different, of value, and get it out there for people to see.

Her response was full of fear: oh no, the industry wouldn’t care, nobody would listen, it would make her look weird. We had a bit of back-and-forth about this, but there was no changing her mind…at least for now.

I hope she reconsiders someday soon. Seeing the lack of hope in someone so youthful was depressing. When you’re looking for work, you are not hoping to appeal to everyone. You simply cannot. You are trying to appeal to the 10 or 20% of the market that will not be prejudiced against you (for your age, your skill level, or what have you–too little or too much in their opinion), and will be interested in the unique (or rare) attributes you have to offer. If you look and sound like everyone else, you’re going to be treated like everyone else: a commodity.

To get the good job, or the promotion, or the key spot ahead of everyone else, you must have some special attribute that makes you stand out. Experience, skill, personal qualities…could be anything, really, but it has to be what that 10 or 20% of potential employers in your market are searching for. And believe me, they are desperately searching for it.

If you develop a rare or unique talent, get the word out there: show it, let people see. Sure, they’ll judge. I hope you won’t be too afraid of that judgment. Most of their judgments will be off-the-cuff, by people who aren’t qualified to say anything, who would never be brave enough to do something so unique themselves–and they aren’t your target audience anyway. Remember, you’re speaking to the focused minority that is out there, just waiting to stumble onto someone like you.

If you find you need some help defining what is rare or unique about what you do, drop me a line.

Seeking killer job hunting tips for a really low investment? Check out my ebook, “Get Hired FAST!