Make the extrinsic intrinsic in your job search

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1. Not part of the essential nature of someone or something; coming or operating from outside.


1. Belonging naturally; essential.

While engaging in the weekly #careerchat a few weeks ago, I was once again reminded of how much has changed in the work world over my last 25 years as a worker and careerist. We were discussing networking for job leads and career development and a lot of the advice seemed old fashioned to me. There was a discussion of setting up informational interviews, resumes, references and such and it seemed that many people were missing the deep changes that have taken place in the work world. After chatting for a while, I was finally able to put my finger on the nature of these changes.

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We used to think of job hunting as an extrinsic activity — one outside the normal realms of work and life. We only really engaged in networking and resume development when we were actively looking for a job. Once happily ensconced in a company, all our focus turned to moving up the ranks with little thought towards what might be happening at other companies or even, more dramatically, in other careers. We stayed happy in our cocoon until something forced us to once again enter our job search mode.

Today that world no longer exists. Job search and career building are not something we do just when we are out of work, it is (or should be) intrinsic to our lives. In today’s hyper-connected world we never know where our next job, project or even career is coming from. We could just as easily find a new job through a Facebook contact as a classified ad. We might make a connection at the coffee shop that changes our entire life. You never know, so you must always be engaged and aware of opportunities. Career building is not something that exists outside your daily life — it is a deep and dramatic part of it.

In the chat, we discussed setting up informational interviews with people who work for companies, or in careers, that might interest you. I would say, though, that you don’t need to do that in some formal way based more in the 1960’s than 2011. Every person you meet potentially has some information you want or need. If not, they might have a friend that works in a business that deeply interests you. Instead of making the networking process extrinsic, make it a part of your everyday life and more importantly a deep part of you.

This can be a big change for some people who like to compartmentalize their lives. In the past, work was work and life was life, but for better or worse, those lines have blurred. Instead of trying to keep them apart, you need to learn how intertwined they truly are. Once you understand this integration, you will be better prepared to take advantage when opportunity strikes — better prepared to respond intrinsically — when an opportunity appears.

Starting today, abandon the concept of job search as something you only engage in at specific times and places. Building the career you deserve is an intrinsic part of your everyday life, not some outward set dressing you put on when needed. You don’t need specific times and places to network, to hand out resumes to engage possible employers. The fact is that is happening around you every day whether you are aware of it or not. Become more aware of these basic changes in the work world and open yourself more to them. In this way, I think you will find that your opportunities will grow, your contacts will deepen and your job search will be much more productive.

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One Response to Make the extrinsic intrinsic in your job search

  1. I would say, though, that you don’t need to do that in some formal way based more in the 1960’s than 2011. Every person you meet potentially has some information you want or need.

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