I recently had the privilege of speaking to Alexandra Levit, who is undoubtedly a career queen in the traditional and new media streams. She just sent me her book, entitled “How’d You Score That Gig?“, which helps you learn more about yourself and about the coolest careers available today. She’s done the research, is the expert and this book tells all. Alexandra is the founder and president of Inspiration @Work, a career consulting firm. She is a blogger for The Huffington Post, which is rated as the #1 blog in the world by Technorati and has her own blog as well. Below is our interview and have a great weekend!
Have you taken your own passion profile? Since you are an author, does that automatically qualify you for the “creator” profile?
Well, not automatically, but when I took the quiz I scored highly in the creator and networker profiles. This makes sense, since I’m an author but began my career as a marketing executive.
In your book you profile 60 of the coolest careers on the planet by 20-year-olds. How did this survey come about and how did you collect and analyze the data to make conclusions. Do you feel the answers would have been significantly different if it were baby boomers or gen-x?
I selected the cool jobs via an online survey in which I asked nearly 500 twenty and thirty-somethings to tell me about their dream careers. I encouraged people to take the survey by putting everyone who responded in a lottery to win a $50 Amazon gift card. Based on the responses, I generated a list of the top 60 careers and constructed a fairly comprehensive profile of each using the information I gathered from written sources and in-depth interviews with more than 100 individuals currently holding the jobs.
A lot of my survey responders are Gen X, since they were/are in their 30s. I think that older workers – boomers and traditionalists – might have been slightly less creative with their choices, because they were raised to believe that cool jobs were ones with ancient prestige – like law and medicine. I’m hoping my book opens their eyes to new possibilities, though!
You cite each person in your book by their age. I spoke about the personal brand stereotype of ageism on my blog. What role does age play in your book and how do you feel people can benefit from their age to secure a job?
The book was initially written to target just twenty and thirty-somethings, and that’s why I refer to people by their ages. Ageism in the workplace is unfortunately alive and well, and it can both help and hurt individuals. Millennials on the job market, for example, can leverage their reputation for being savvy, ambitious, and expert at handling new technologies, but at the same time have to combat the stereotype that their parents run their lives and that they will approach the job with a sense of entitlement.
I like how you transition from your first book to your second book. You wrote “They Don’t Teach You Corporate in College,” which I obviously agree with or I wouldn’t be speaking to colleges about personal branding. This book takes that a step further and now you are examining how to get jobs that college students actually want. How did you come up with the idea and why are you so passionate about the younger generation?
The idea originated as a result of several conversations I overheard at friends’ dinner parties. It seemed that someone at every event always had a job that totally intrigued the rest of the group. People were completely captivated by this individual, and were always curious to know how s/he scored the gig, and what exactly it entailed.
Today’s twenty-somethings aren’t content just to work for a paycheck – even for a few years. They want to find a career that they’re passionate about TODAY. I love the energy and determination I see in so many Millennials that I meet, and it makes me want to do everything I can to help them on their journeys.
How does one come up with a self-assessment?
In the case of How’d You Score That Gig?, with the help of a licensed clinical psychologist…my husband. We researched existing personality type measures to come up with the passion profiles, and then tested the questions on our friends and family. It’s not super-scientific, but it seems to be accurate enough.
I didn’t just want the book to be another boring job reference guide, where you flip through, read a bunch of vague, one-paragraph descriptions, and put it down. Right off the bat, I wanted to engage my readers so that they could learn about themselves and identify a few intriguing but very real possibilities for careers they could go out and explore tomorrow.
If you could pick your top 5 careers that you mention in your book, what would they be?
Some of my personal favorites – besides book author and marketing executive – are futurist, forensic scientist, travel journalist, bed and breakfast innkeeper, and computational linguist!
How have you managed to get cited in 800 media outlets? Any advice for my readers on forming relationships with the media?
The 800 number came as a result of being cited in a few Associated Press and Reuters articles that got picked up everywhere, as well as the advice column I used to have with Tribune Media Services, which was syndicated nationally. And over the years, I’ve been very fortunate to be quoted in high profile outlets like the New York Times and CNN, and visibility begets visibility.
As for forming relationships, let reporters in your area of interest know what you do and be a reliable source for them no matter what story they happen to be working on. Don’t hound them, and never openly pursue your own agenda. Find out what the reporter needs to know, and then do what you need to do to help him/her get that precise information, even if you don’t directly benefit.