The 5 C's of job hunting (for diamonds in the rough)

Yes, yes, I know I said this post was going to be about why someone should hire cute, nice, big-ball-of-fluffy-hair me. But that's self-serving and -- let's face it -- not really that interesting (hairball aside).

So instead, we're going to talk about why people should hire YOU -- or rather, what makes you stand out as a diamond in the rough. And what better way to gauge your uniqueness that by evaluating your C's -- the essentials you should bring to the table, no matter your field, to make sure yours is the signature on the offer letter.

1. A clue.
Understand what's going on in your industry. How does the economy, the government, the political climate, technological developments, etc. affect the organizations you're interested in working for? This shows the company you grasp the forces at work outside your cubicle, AND insulates you from making stupid career moves (i.e. becoming an investment banker the day after we plunge into our next depression).

2. A crystal ball.
Nostradamus would have quite the round of interviews today if he were available. While none of us are at that level, we can still posit where we think our fields -- and roles -- are going and could be going. What experience do you have that situates you well not for your dream org's current needs, but also its future ones? Articulating this demonstrates you think long-term and are prepared to adapt. The good news: You won't be 100% accurate. So don't fret about it. Just worry about making an informed prediction.

3. Common sense.
This rare and precious trait should manifest itself from the details (you know everyone's names, you give reasonable/achievable answers) all the way to the big picture (you understand workplace and organizational realities). Do you approach challenges with a cool, clear head? Do you think through a situation before making a decision? Can people trust you, and do they entrust decisions/tasks to you? In short: flighty people are fun at the holiday office party and nowhere else. Show you're not part of that group.

4. Confidence.
Dead fish handshakes drive me bonkers. They scream "mamby pamby" to me. That said, I have found them to be a helpful indicator of a person's approach to his/herself and a position: if they're that weak at the outset, chances are they're shrinking violets the rest of the time too. That's why it's imperative to project strength, poise, and polish from your cover letter to your interview to your first day to your first review ... and beyond. If you don't have faith in yourself, why should others? Note: Do not mistake confidence and character for charisma. Confidence is much deeper and more innate. Charisma might get you the gig, but confidence will keep you there.

5. Connections.
We get by with a little help from our friends ... and from our colleagues, our relatives, our neighbors, our associates, etc. So ask for help. It's called networking. It's common, acceptable, and even encouraged. (Yay!) Call, write, share lunch or coffee, go to meet-ups -- whatever works for your personal style. Making appointments is only half the battle, though. You gotta ask the questions and share the info once you're together. And you should be doing this even when you're employed so you're not caught flat-footed should that blessed state of being change.

Case in point: I chatted it up with lots of lovely people at conferences and over Twitter as part of my organizational blog preparation. Now that I'm back in the hunt, these lovely people (Jocelyn Harmon, Andrea Michniak, Chris Fowler, Mark Miller, Henri Makembe, to name a few of many!) have already helped me with contacts, postings, advice, and all-around affirmation.

So there you go -- 5 C's with a C example to boot! What am I missing?

P.S. My apologies for the delay in posting something new. As you might have guessed, getting a head start on the job search has occupied most of my time this week. I'll be in the swing of the new routine soon. Thanks for loving me anyway!!

Photo by Monster Pete