Now that’s a headline to get excited about. Although I cannot provide all the answers in a single post, Shawn Graham’s new book “Courting Your Career” may help you. The same dating game that we all go through is similar to our job search. For you to stay at a company for over a year, there needs to be some kind of match.
If you treat your career like you do the opposite sex, maybe you will find the right man or woman. Getting on the right career path isn’t simple. Finding your dream woman or man is just as complicated, but today you will learn some tactics from the man who has cross-linked both to make it easier for college students to understand the job search game.
Shawn Graham is an Associate Director with the MBA Career Management Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenana-Flagler Business School. He also has a personal blog and blogs for Fast Company.
Me: Shawn this book is genius and perfect for college students who can relate to dating and falling into the wrong relationships. Did you have any situations in your own life that helped you develop a book relating dating to one’s career? This question almost forces you to be transparent.
Shawn Graham: In a word…plenty. Especially the similarity between pre-date and pre-interview jitters. Early in my career, I would always let my nerves get the best of me during an interview. I’d be totally prepared and confident until the moment I walked in the door. That’s when I’d fall apart. It reminded me of how nervous I used to get before a first date with someone I was totally into and how nerves and a lack of confidence would squash any chance I had for a second date. One day I finally realized that, looking back, dating seemed to get a whole lot easier as I went on more dates. And knowing that gave me an added boost of confidence going into job interviews.
Me: I think every career development book should talk about “getting to know yourself” which is in Chapter 1 of this book. I call this “discover your brand” and feel like it’s the cornerstone to all things career and life related. What do you recommend people do to learn about themselves and what resources are out there to research careers and industries?
Shawn Graham: Start with friends and family. Where do they work? What do they do? Think about what you like/dislike about their jobs.
Think about your major. Did you choose something that will almost certainly lead to a job directly after graduation like engineering? Or did you major in something you like (for example philosophy), that won’t necessarily lead to a job without an advanced degree.
Make a list of jobs you think you’d like. Then consider the reasons why you’re interested in them. As you gather more and more information about yourself, you’ll eventually reach a deeper understanding of what you’re looking for—both personally and professionally.
A ton of online resources are available to help you research careers and industries. Start with sites like Vault.com and Wetfeet.com. You’ll also want to visit the websites of companies you’re interested in so you can get a better understanding of their business and gather information on possible jobs or internships.
Me: How do you compare casual dating with internships, projects and volunteer work?
Shawn Graham: They offer you and the company an opportunity to get to know each other better without being locked into a long-term commitment. They’re a great way to gain valuable work experience you can put on your resume and can also help you choose your career path. Since these options are short-term in nature (8-10 weeks), you don’t have to worry about making a long-term commitment as you learn about different career fields. However, you still need to make sure you put your best foot forward by delivering high quality work.
Me: In Chapter 3, you mention networking and relate it to meeting other singles to expand your network. I assume that if someone is in a relationship, they don’t have a job opening, but do you think that should stop you from flirting with them?
Shawn Graham: That’s a loaded question. When you’re in a relationship, flirting will almost certainly get you into some serious trouble. But, when it comes to your career, it’s definitely important for you to continue to expand your professional network. You never know what doors you might be able to open up for someone else or when you might need to leverage their expertise or perspective.
Me: How many “dates” do you have to have with a companyg in order to seal the deal? I had to casually date 6 people for my first job at my company.
Shawn Graham: Two to three rounds of interviews are typical for most companies. Once you get past the first round, the interviews get more in-depth as the interviewer is trying to further evaluate your knowledge and degree of fit with the company.
Me: When you get serious about dating and are ready for the relationship, what do people need to know? Can you please touch on “it’s not you, it’s me”?
Shawn Graham: Calling an organization to say you’ve accepted a position with another company is a lot like breaking up with someone. In both cases, the other party will feel rejected, disappointed, or even angry.
When breaking up with a company, it’s best to call the person who extended you the offer directly to let them know. Don’t burn bridges. Keep your conversation short and to the point. Thank them for the opportunity. Let them know (in general terms) why you’ve decided to turn down the position. For example, are you rejecting it for a position that is more in line with your long-term career interests? Are you doing it to be closer to family? You want to be general to avoid making negative comments about the company. In the world of dating, you probably wouldn’t like it much if somebody pointed out all of the reasons he or she didn’t want to go out with you. The same holds true when you’re turning down a job offer.
Me: What inspired you to write this book and what do you want people to get out of it?
Shawn Graham: I was finding that most job seekers didn’t relate to online and print resources and, as a result, were having a difficult time navigating their job search.
I hope readers will find that even the most difficult career-related issues can be broken down and resolved using the comparisons and strategies detailed in Courting Your Career. I hope readers will leverage the advice and strategies contained in the book to help them find career success. And, if it helps them in the love department, even better.