You’ve determined the job that you want, done your research, so what’s preventing you from getting your dream job? Often there are many factors out of your control, but there are still actions and attitudes you can take that could bring you closer to your vision.
Here are some common obstacles and how to deal with them:
Fear: This is the sneakiest obstacle. It works mostly at night under cloak and dagger, but it also manages to lurk in your subconscious in the light of day. Yes, fear is an important emotion that keeps us out of danger, but our bodies don’t always know the difference between fear of an oncoming car and fear of the unknown. Both can seize your stomach, shorten your breath, and busy your mind with alternate plans. The trick is to recognize the fear and handle it with your inner daredevil. Don’t let it paralyze you. We’re all scared of something. The trick is to feel it and do it anyway because that results in sweeter feelings like pride, accomplishment, enthusiasm, excitement, and passion.
The economy: Yes, the economy stinks. It’s completely out of our control. What’s in our control is how we handle the current economy. First, stop listening to, watching, or reading the doom-and-gloom stories. You’re not going to miss anything except your own anxiety. Second, don’t feel so powerless that you just sit back and wait for it to pass. Embrace the one opportunity in being unemployed -- more time. When you were working, weren’t you always complaining about how little time you had? Now, you have some time to work on a personal project, self-development, or to learn something new. If you’re a creative person, what dream project have you always wanted to do? If you don’t have one, why not? A brilliant creative director I once worked with would ask candidates their dream project, and if they couldn’t think of one, he didn’t hire them. Whether you agree with that tactic or not, he has gone on to have a very successful career leading strong, creative talent.
If you are working but want to leave your employer, you’re most likely short on time. You will have to figure out a way to create more of it. Don’t expect too much of yourself by saying you’re going to come home and find another job. Instead, be specific about what you will do and realistic about the time you have. Fifteen minutes a day is a start (and better than nothing).
They’re not seeing my vision: If someone isn’t seeing your vision, you’re either not communicating it well enough, or you’re not talking to the right person or company. This is a good example of why it’s important to specific and clear with your goals. When a potential employer isn’t seeing your vision, it could also illustrate the importance of seeking out the companies you want to work for, rather than the companies that have openings. Creative people want to work for agencies that are doing great work and are innovative thinkers. Show them you’re those things with your presentation, your ideas, and your work.
Nobody is calling me back: Everyone is overworked and stretched thin, so don’t assume that they hate your portfolio. They might not have been able to get back to you yet. Follow up at least once. If you originally sent an e-mail, follow up with a phone call. If you get voice mail, be sure to leave the link to your portfolio and your phone number and e-mail address. If you really, really want the job, maybe try once more a week later and then move on. Don’t wait around for a response. Don’t completely shut the door on the prospect yet, but move on to the next contact on your list.
They’re not hiring: When you do go in for an interview, and it goes well, and they finally give you the disappointing news that they’re not hiring, ask for a referral. This might seem odd, but think like a recruiter and ask for the lead. When they say everybody liked you so much but have decided to go in a different direction, respond with, "I have enjoyed meeting everyone, too, and would love to work for you. Since you’re not hiring, do you happen to know of anyone else that might be looking for someone with my skills?"
Also, let them know you’ll stay in touch in case anything changes. Do that every couple of months, but ideally, have a reason to contact them, like a new campaign in your portfolio or an event or conference they might find interesting.
These are just a few obstacles to your dream job and if you’ve found others that I haven’t mentioned, please comment -- especially if you’ve found a way to overcome them. The main thing is to stay positive, keep your momentum going, and focus on what’s within your control. Life’s full of things out of our control, but it’s how we handle those obstacles that brings us closer to our dream job.