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What You and Justin Bieber Have in Common

Posted on the 08 April 2011 by Candacemoody @candacemoody

Okay, I created theheadline just to draw you in.  But now that you’re here…

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it would be like if your job search were like a musician’s search for work. Here’s what you can learn from their approach.

First, most musicians don’t look for long term jobs; they understand from the beginning that their work will be a series of gigs. While doing their very best work on their current jobs, they are always looking for the next opportunity. Many musicians enjoy the idea of playing gigs; each one presents a fresh venue that may inspire or change your work. Your music is interpreted by a new audience, and their feedback (read: applause) may change the way you think about or perform a piece. Good musicians never let their work become stale, and changing venues (gigs) is one of the elements that contributes to that.

Musicians also have to be able to describe their work and market themselves in a way that makes them interesting; it helps someone who wants to book them determine whether they’re a fit for the venue. Ask any musician what his or her style is, and you’ll get an instant answer. “I cover classic jazz standards with piano accompaniment.” “I play lead guitar in a country western trio.” Can you identify your skill set that succinctly?

Musicians also know that their work is what speaks for them in interviews. When they try for a job, they audition. For most of us in white collar jobs, the way we get hired is through an interview – we talk about what we have done and what we will do. Musicians, like many other hands-on professionals, have to demonstrate what they can do before they get hired.

Think about what that might look like in your job search. What could you do to demonstrate your skills before you get the job? If you’re in marketing, you might create a marketing plan for a new product launch. If you’re a project manager, you might create a sample project plan, using some of your favorite tools or resources. If you’re a social media manager, your previous company’s Facebook page provides a sample of your work. If you’re a graphic designer or architect, you’ll have a portfolio.

Internships provide opportunities to audition your skills and they provide you with experience for your resume and references. Volunteering also provides the same opportunity to use and build on your skills and add experience to your resume. Volunteering is one of the best ways to expand your network and fill gaps between paid employment. If you’re planning to volunteer, here are some things to keep in mind. 

  •  Find a position that will use your professional skills. This will give the organization a chance to see what you can really do, and help them craft a strong reference for you.
  • Within your skill set, offer to take on jobs that will stretch you. It’s a great way to build skills in a low risk environment. When you gain confidence, add these skills to your resume.
  • Treat the volunteer job as seriously as you would a paid opportunity. Be punctual and diligent; this is an audition, after all. Give notice when you know you’ll be leaving the position. If you’ve done a good job, you’ll be missed, and the organization may need some time to plan to replace you.

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