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Career Leadership Forum

Taylor Jacobson

Are you looking for more direction in your career and life?

Be wary.

When we’re unhappy or in transition, we easily fall prey to the shiny object syndrome – we’re drawn to the excitement and passion of others, and don’t pay enough attention to our inner compass.

The way this shows up in a job search is that you limit your possibilities by focusing on the specific job you want, rather than how you want to contribute to the world.

Here are seven steps to take to broaden the scope of your search and land the gig that will not only pay the bills but will also put you on the path to long-term success.

1. Figure out how you want to contribute.

Forget about where you are now, and where you’re going. Put aside the plan for a moment. Who do you want to BE? Don’t worry about the exact job you’ll have. Focus on how you can use your strengths and passions to create value for people.

2. Identify the barriers.

If you want to be a fiction author, your barriers might be “Writing an outstanding novel” and “Getting my novel discovered by publishers and the public.” Going forward, frame all of your decisions with this question: Does this address one of my barriers?

3. Research 10 people who have already have the kind of career that you want.

Note the steps each person took to success. Pay attention to the different paths that can lead to the life you want. If you’ve done your homework in no. 1 and aren’t limiting yourself to one job or function, you’ll discover there are more paths than you thought. This research can also validate your intentions, even if no one among your friends and family understands what you want to do and why.

4. Identify the specific skills, credentials and relationships that are necessary to overcome the barriers to achieve your mission.

Your research will come in handy here. How did your 10 people go about acquiring the skills, credentials and relationships that made them successful?

5. Spend time with people who are more successful than you at doing what you want to do.

It’s tempting to network with other “strugglers” or job-seekers. While emotional support is important, focus your networking efforts on events where you will meet people who are ahead of you on the path. They’re the ones who can inspire, teach and hire you.

6. Be friendly and seek to give before you get.

In order to network effectively, you’ll need to demonstrate value. One easy and hugely undervalued kind of value is being genuinely and enthusiastically friendly. That doesn’t mean you should be a brown-noser; an understated compliment and thoughtful question goes much further. Also, resist the temptation to ask for favors. If you are kind and generous, karma will look after you – people will offer to help you, and they’ll feel better about doing so because it was their idea.

7. Introduce yourself “as if” you are that which you aspire to be.

The moment you say, “I’m looking for …” or “I’m an aspiring …” the person you’re speaking with will begin to lose interest. You’ve set up your value as something that exists in the future. What can you do for me now?

Introduce yourself in a way that reflects the contribution you want to make. Don’t exaggerate but see yourself now as the person you are becoming. Once the conversation gets going, you’ll have the opportunity to fill in the details.


Are you a talented, motivated professional looking for career or life direction? Do you know someone who is? Check out the Career Leadership Forum.

The Forum is co-hosted by Taylor Jacobson, life coach, blogger and adventurer, and Michael Miller, President of Culture Adapt.

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