Guest columnist Sheila Nielsen discusses applying creativity in your job search

nielsen052809Sitting in for Meredith Haydon this issue, we welcome Sheila Nielsen as our guest columnist for Your Career. This is an interesting take on the value of creativity in your networking efforts. Sheila is a believer in making your own luck, a theme that runs throughout her new book, now available at Amazon, titled: “Job Quest for Lawyers: The Essential Guide to Finding and Landing the Job You Want.”

Why Steve Jobs’ Ideas About Creativity Are Important for Your Job Search

“There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat. That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘wow’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”

– Walter Issacson quoting Steve Jobs in his biography, Steve Jobs.

Brainstorming is a creative and exciting process. People get together, think about a problem, and come up with ideas and solutions. When it comes to your job search, you want to brainstorm with a lot of people and you want those creative juices flowing.

Good networking involves a process of in-person interactions with many people who are in the realm or the industry you are trying to learn more about so that you can move forward in your search. You need to find out what is going on in the industry you want to join so that you can navigate your search and move closer to your goals. Where is the work and why is that sector busy? What are the trend lines? Who is at this particular company or firm you think could work for you? What credentials are valuable in a particular niche? Which workplaces have experienced growth? With your current skill set where could you fit in? If you wanted to move into another niche, what additional credentials would help you? Who else could you meet with to learn more?

If you are already part of the professional community in which you are conducting your search, and you want to transition within it, you need this kind of brainstorming and information about places that are busy, active, growing, and where people report that they like working there. To be sure that your efforts pay off, you have to meet in-person for the same reason Jobs talks about when it comes to creativity generally; you are trying to ignite the person you are meeting with to percolate or bubble up with thoughts both for you and with you to help you learn more.

That’s why it is so important to articulate your dream and your dilemma. When you do that, you get engagement from the other person that lights the fire of creativity and brainstorming. “My dream is to work at an energetic, new company doing marketing. My dilemma is that I don’t know anyone in the start-up sector here in Chicago because I just moved here from California. Do you know anyone in this sector here in Chicago who might spend some time talking with me about what’s going on locally? Knowing what you know about this market, if you were me, what would you do and who would you want to talk with?”

The simple act of telling everyone your dream and dilemma in in-person meetings or get-togethers can jump-start your success at not only hearing about opportunities, but landing them as well. When you meet in person, you engage another human being one-on-one, which helps you to create trust and friendship. The mixture of trust and friendship together are a powerful cocktail that might help you to be endorsed to the workplace by the person you are meeting with.

Steve Jobs was right not only about creativity in the workplace but creativity to gain access to a workplace.

Sheila Nielsen is the president of Nielsen Career Consulting, which helps clients assess career direction, coaches them on job search, and works with them on optimizing workplace performance. Nielson is a trained social worker and lawyer, and has been a leader in the field of career counseling for 25 years.

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