A-Z guide to finding work you love - letter U
U stands for understanding
In the words of Steven Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, seek first to understand, then to be understood (habit 2). When you are at the stage when you can identify your ideal work, your focus should be on understanding the industry and the company that you wish to work for before you launch into selling your key attributes. The more you can impress the employer with an understanding of their needs, suggesting how you can help to meet those needs, the more impressed they will be with you.
So how can you find out such information? Of course, you can visit company websites, but you should also network on social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter to speak with people within your chosen industry. It should be your aim to speak to at least two people who can give you the information you need.
Now this may sound daunting to the introvert who feels a little uncomfortable talking to strangers, but it doesn't need to be so awkward and cringey. An ideal starting point can be to speak to people you know already, to find out if they know anyone that you could speak to.
In fact, you could even put something out on your social media to find out if someone knows anybody that works in your chosen industry. You never know, someone, somewhere may have an ex girlfriend's uncle who is happy to talk to you (provided you are still on friendly terms with said ex!). It is far easier approaching someone who has a mutual connection rather than starting out with 'you don't know me, but....'. The benefit of LinkedIn is that you can use it to find useful contacts who went to the same university as you, if applicable.
All you need to start off with is 10 minutes of their time, perhaps by phone or video call. It's important that you stick to the time limit. Quite often they will be happy to run over, but that ball should be firmly in their court.
Before your conversation it's vital that you have some prepared questions, the answers to which will be extremely beneficial to you. The easiest starting point is to introduce yourself and then mention your mutual contact or some other common ground. Here are 12 questions you can use:
- How did you get into this field?
- What do you like/dislike about your job?
- Would you recommend your job/company to a friend?
- What projects are you working on right now?
- What does the future hold for the industry/company?
- What has been the impact of Brexit/the pandemic on the industry/company?
- How do people normally get to work in your company?
- Are there any other routes into your company/industry?
- What qualifications/skills/experience are needed to get in?
- What would you suggest I do next if I want to work in your company/industry?
- How can I stay on top of industry news?
- Who else can you suggest I talk to if I want to find out more?
Once you've had a couple of conversations you will have a far greater understanding of the company and industry. You may even have enough knowledge to help you conclude that this is perhaps not the right path for you now, or ever.
So if you're on a journey to help you identify the right career path, seeking to understand is a crucial stop off point.
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