Let me start by saying I’m using a metaphor here. I haven’t hunted since I was a teenager in the Midwest. I love animals, so please don’t take my talk of “hunting” literally and miss the advice I’m trying to share in this article.
Human beings have been acquiring food to survive for millions of years. We’ve used a combination of active/direct and passive/indirect methods to find the animals and plants we eat.
Actively hunting, scavenging, and gathering food in the moment.
Building traps, nets, etc,. to capture animals and recover them later.
Planting crops to harvest much later.
Many modern-day humans have transitioned to a very different model of acquiring the meals we need. We work in jobs, get paid, and use that money to purchase food in grocery stores.
However, oddly enough, we can still leverage the three methods of hunting, trapping, and planting to gain what we now need to survive: a job. We even use the phrase “job hunt” to describe this process, which is rather telling.
Many job seekers focus almost exclusively on the hunt. They do everything necessary to hunt for a job actively (e.g., applying online and sending resumes). But they ignore the other two powerful methods of capturing and harvesting opportunities for the future.
This is a mistake you don’t want to make.
Only hunting for a job when you desperately need one is a risky move. People often make hasty decisions when the clock is ticking. You’ll be more empowered, less stressed, and more successful if you also trap potential opportunities and plant seeds that will yield an evergreen harvest of interest in you. You should always be looking for new and better opportunities, and methods 2 and 3 are much better suited for that.
When I work with clients who need a new job immediately, I recommend combining all three strategies with an emphasis on 1 and 2. But when a client is still employed and seeking a better job, I prefer emphasizing 2 and 3 with a careful use of 1.
Humans fed themselves and their tribes by hunting and gathering, dating as far back as 2 million years ago. They actively searched for whatever they could find to survive. They couldn’t passively wait around and hope food would land in their laps. Instead, they sought an immediate fulfillment of their needs.
Hunting is a valuable strategy when you need a quick solution to an urgent problem. You need a job ASAP!
However, I recommend a targeted approach vs. the clumsy “spray and pray” I see many job seekers using now. I’ve read more than one account of people applying for hundreds of jobs online and blasting their resumes to everyone they can find. Big surprise, it doesn’t work. One person lamented, “I applied to a hundred jobs and didn’t get a single request for an interview.”
Instead, I ask my clients to be laser-focused on the job they want and the employers they find most interesting.
What is your ideal next role?
Who is your ideal next employer?
Who is your ideal next boss?
You should have only 1-3 roles in mind for your next job. For example, you may ideally want a job as a Lead Designer, but you’d also accept a Senior Designer role if you were really excited about the opportunity.
Be clear about the job you want and focus your sales pitch on selling yourself as the ideal candidate. If you have a dozen roles in mind, your resume and LinkedIn will be all over the place and won’t appeal to hiring managers and recruiters.
Similarly, you should have perhaps 3-10 employers in mind for your next job. Be picky with the hunting strategy. Create a list of ideal employers, start tracking down the potential hiring managers, and find a way to get a warm introduction.
The market isn’t great for job seekers right now. Employers have their pick of thousands and thousands of candidates. Stack the deck in your favor and get introduced to hiring managers and recruiters. Find your inside champion, who will help shepherd you through the interview process. This makes all the difference in the world! It certainly helped me land all the jobs I had during my tech career.
Now, it’s time to move on to one of my favorite ways of lighting up your network to help find you a job.
About 9,000 years ago, humans began building traps to capture prey. Instead of actively hunting, we used these more sophisticated traps and nets to serve as an extension of our capabilities.
Think of it as an early creation of systems to automate food procurement. Now, instead of being limited to what you and your tribe could actively hunt during waking hours, you could deploy traps to work for you 24x7 in a more scalable way.
Similarly, you can deploy “nets” to attract and secure interest in you and your capabilities 24x7 in a more scalable way than panicking and scrambling to find a job at the last minute. When you activate key helpers in your network, each expands your reach and ability to trap new opportunities.
They’ll help you capture things you never could on your own. But the activity is still targeted. Your friends know who you are and what you are seeking. Contrast this with people who indiscriminately toss their net to the four corners of the earth. Their net gets stretched thin and tangled up in everything that comes by while a prime catch slips past.
I ask my clients to reengage and reactivate their networks, which I’ll recommend to you, too. It’s essential to do this from a place of honestly wanting to reconnect, since you shouldn’t only reach out to people when you need them for something. You can’t just contact people when you want to use them for an introduction or a job. No one likes that.
Resist the urge to add, “Oh, by the way. Can you also do me a favor and introduce me to Susan, the hiring manager for an open position at the company?”
Of course, during the conversation, your friend may naturally ask you, “So, what are you up to these days?”
If they do, you can mention what you’re doing now and what your plans are (e.g., “I’m working at company ABC. But, I’m actually considering my next move. It’s time for a change.”)
When you light up your network, you now have dozens of people recognizing opportunities for you, bringing your name up when someone is hiring, and keeping their eyes open for a job that seems like a good fit for what you are seeking. These “nets” are capturing and sending you jobs to pursue. Sometimes, they’ll be able to make the warm introduction you need.
This brings us to one of the most powerful methods, which is a gift that keeps on giving for years and years and years.
Besides hunting and trapping, humans also discovered the power and scale of agriculture. But farming requires more patience. Planning, investment, and work upfront to plant crops will only yield a bountiful harvest later (i.e., not tomorrow or even next week).
When you plant an apple tree, for example, it can take around five years to mature. But it will then provide you with fruit for several years, thanks to that initial investment.
Content creation and marketing is the last strategy I recommend for my career coaching clients and even job seekers. Planting the seeds from your excellent mind won’t land you a job immediately, but it will provide examples of your knowledge, expertise, way of thinking, and point of view on things relevant to your profession.
More importantly, as you create and publish hundreds of articles over the years, your harvest will yield evergreen inbound interest in you.
I’ve written 493 newsletters for Invincible Career.
I’ve published 92 episodes of my podcast.
I’ve written 228 articles on Medium.
I’ve tweeted over 18,000 times.
I’ve created over 170 videos.
It’s pretty amazing when a potential new client reaches out to me after reading an article I wrote seven years ago. I spent a couple of hours planting that “little seed” seven years ago, and it continues to bear fruit and attract people even today.
When you consistently put yourself out there day after day, month after month, and year after year, your harvest may come long after you’ve forgotten that you planted the seeds. But this is how you create an invincible career.
You want everyone to know who you are and how great you are. You want to become an opportunity magnet through trapping and—especially—planting, so you don’t feel forced to scramble and hunt for your next job.
Hi, I’m Larry Cornett, a Personal Coach who can work with you to optimize your career, life, or business. My mission is to help you take complete control of your work and life so you can become a more “Invincible You.” I live in Northern California near Lake Tahoe with my wife and our Great Dane.