Your golden ticket to career success!

22 May 2024

“Sir, my name is Tom and I have 10 years of experience as a safety professional. Can you please review my profile and let me know if you have any suitable vacancies for me? Thanks for your time.”

Sound familiar? I get a message like this at least twice a week on LinkedIn. As a matter of principle, I take it upon myself to reply to every comment and message I receive across all my social media accounts. And though I respond with empathy to people inquiring about job opportunities, even when performed in the awkward manner displayed above, it strikes me as rather odd that there are some out there who actually believe that such a strategy stands a chance of success. Not only will the recipient probably feel uncomfortable being approached by random strangers, but asking someone to invest their valuable time to review your profile or CV and then get back to you with some recommended openings is quite the expectation.

We all want to grow in our careers and it can definitely be frustrating when we’re not getting anywhere despite the hundreds of job applications we apply to. And Covid-19 has only exacerbated the situation. But if we want to increase our chances of landing our next opportunity, then we need to employ more tactical schemes than simply sending our CVs to newly made connections.

One such strategy I have personally used that hasn’t directly landed me a job perse but has served me in ways that I can’t even begin to enumerate is asking experienced and influential professionals for mentorship. Many years ago, I was in the same frustrating job-seeking limbo, and I couldn’t seem to get any interviews despite my strong qualifications and experience. I knew approaching random people with my CV wouldn’t bear any fruits, so I decided instead to try a new technique. How about I ask targeted individuals for guidance and advice on how to move forward in my career? Now I’ll be honest, my intention at the outset was to try and draw attention so that these folks would perhaps consider me for an opportunity if they had any on their radar screens. It seemed like a smart ploy and one that had a higher likelihood of earning some notice than the other more direct way.

So that’s what I did. I logged onto LinkedIn and hunted for my prey and after a couple of hours, I spotted the most suitable nominee for my operation. He oversaw the safety department for one of the biggest projects in the region and was a PhD and an author as well. Perfect! I made contact with the individual and wrote a short but effective message asking for guidance and lo and behold, I was invited to visit this person at their place of work for a quick coffee and chat! So I prepared for the occasion as if it were an interview and I had my CV ready just in case I was asked for it.

I arrived at the company a half-hour early and made my way to the reception 5 minutes before the agreed upon time. The meeting went very well. I started off by giving the individual an impressive brief about myself for context which was the whole point of the exercise going into this. I then asked for their advice on how I could grow further in my career and the individual started to speak about their journey to the top. The meeting ended on a very positive note but my objective was not met: he never approached me for a job. Now it may seem like I wasted my time and that I added another line to my long list of failures, but this gentleman’s advice was an eye-opener and I actually implemented much of what he suggested. Though he did not offer me a job, his guidance had a huge bearing on where I am today. That one meeting played an instrumental role in my career forever.

I now believe wholeheartedly that I went into that meeting with the wrong intentions. I would encourage everybody to search for an appropriate mentor(s) because these are individuals who have treaded the path to success long before you and they will provide you with the right guidance so you can avoid some painful mistakes and have a clear understanding of what you need to do to grow. Consider it a free shortcut to eventual success. And trust me, people will be much more inclined to offer their 2 cents when approached by a random stranger than read a CV. This exercise may or may not land you a job directly, but I can assure you that it will set in motion the actions that will give much more value to your career in the long run.

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