Monday, November 29, 2010

The Theory

After a great conversation with Steve prior to Thanksgiving, I was raring to go on my own two-hour job search! Although I can be a terrible procrastinator at times, Steve's method put me in a more proactive frame of mind for three reasons:
  1. The method cuts away the job search "fat," thereby allowing my mind to focus on the truly important tasks. (Check out David Allen's Getting Things Done for a great explanation of why human minds weren't designed for multi-tasking and the stress that our brains suffer when trying to do too much at once!)
  2. It breaks those tasks up into manageable chunks (no single item is more than 20 minutes). How many times have you added something like "Finish the XYZ project" to your to-do list? If you're anything like me, these kinds of tasks are paralyzing, especially when compared to specific, bite-size tasks like "Take out the trash." And thus, because Steve makes each step so short and simple, even the most ADD job searcher can visualize the end-goal and get it done.
  3. The steps are sequential and easy-to-follow. In addition to being an efficiency junkie, I'm also addicted to self-improvement books. But self-improvement books, alas, tend to be addicted to the intellectually lazy bullet point format. As in, "Consider the following as you try to reach your goal:
* X
* Y
* Z
* Etc."

The result is that your mind starts to wander, overwhelmed by all the possibilities and not knowing where to begin. While this might be an easier format for an author trying to get down as much verbiage as possible, it's hell on the reader in terms of real results! On the other hand, Steve's approach is much more like a board game - Start at Step 1, Go to Step 2, Collect $200. In other words, simple as pie to get started with! After all, when was the last time that you opened up Monopoly and gave up because it wasn't clear how to begin?

With this simple but brilliant framework supporting my efforts, I was ready to dive in!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Who Am I?

In a society where people often define themselves by their work, I guess you could call me a tad schizophrenic. I’ve been a newspaper delivery boy, a cancer pathology research assistant, a pizza maker, a bouncer, a drugstore cashier, a newspaper editor, a web entrepreneur, a kindergarten teacher, a nonprofit recruiter, a venture capital screener, and a techie product manager. And most recently, I’ve found myself in that lowest-paid of all professions: Student!

But the one thing that’s defined me more than each of these occupations individually is my approach to all of them. You see, I’m a bit of an efficiency nut. Whether figuring out faster ways to deliver newspapers or the most cost-effective method for marketing software, I hate to waste time and resources when there’s a shortcut that delivers better results quicker, cheaper, and more easily.

And that’s why I was so excited to learn about Steve Dalton’s approach to the job search. Through years of experience – both in his own searches and counseling hundreds of others at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business – Steve has figured out a basic efficiency formula for getting a great job:

• There’s literally millions of pieces of advice deluging would-be job-seekers:
o Use social media!
o Talk to your crazy aunts!!
o Work on your cover letter until your eyes bleed!!!

• But there are only a few things that actually matter for getting the job:
o Figuring out the firms you want to work for
o Connecting with people who work there
o Nailing the interview

Thus, having the aforementioned few resources to pursue my job search, I’m excited to employ Steve’s method in my hunt. And this will blog will chronicle the adventure – the good, the bad, and yes, even the inefficient!