So, on Facebook, I’ve taken to posting the song “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba every time I get a significant interview. A ’90s pop-rock anomaly, the lyrics of the song of course are a simple, gibberish repetition of “I get knocked/but I get up again/You’re never gonna keep me down.” I do so to signal positive job search movement to my fans (read: my dad and aunts and like 3 friends), but also to make light of a difficult process. And, mostly, to have fun.
I’ve had a few interviews recently, so Chumbawamba has been on repeat; these new paths forward have come from recruiters and random applications and networking connections. They’re all solid opportunities, and I feel safe and secure that I will land something in the near future.
In the light of all of this fun, I want to take time to highlight the kindness of people, sometimes of complete strangers, people so removed from your situation…
There’s the soon-to-be chief marketing officer of a medical equipment company, a friend of a pharmacist who works with my sister, who went way out of her way to give me the scoop and the premier content marketing agencies in Chicago. She had no reason to reach out and work so hard on my behalf–the networking connection was tenuous at best–but she offered reams worth of notes and gave me inspiration to develop a bizarrely creative version of my resume, which you can view here: Jake_of_All_Trades_Resume. (Read it, it’s funny). She also put me in touch with a head of HR at her former employer, all of which was way out of her way.
I received help from a recruiter who was laid off on the same day I was set to speak with him. This person no longer had financial incentive to put me in touch with the person from his LinkedIn professional network, yet he did. And his consistent pushing of job hunting advice and other content has provided insight and advice.
There are multiple friends who spoke well about their organizations, their approaches, offered many ways to get my career moving. The search has been so varied, one friend indicated his pitch to his employer included that he once “wrote 3500 words on the life cycle of lobsters,” and another indicated back from my political organizing days who had so many possible avenues and connections that I was left with my head spinning.
Additionally, about a half-dozen recruiters have dipped in to offer services as well.
I’m beyond blessed to have all of these opportunities and wonderful conversations and amazing people in my life. It can be difficult to ask for help, to lay bare who I am, what I’ve done, and where I want to go to a variety of people.
But, in fleshing these thoughts out, I’m reminded of the words of the musician, performance artist, and overall cool person Amanda Palmer. In her acclaimed Ted Talk that eventually morphed into a book called “The Art of Asking,” Palmer speaks of her days as a human statue and her eventual founding of the indie-rock band “The Dresden Dolls.”
I highly suggest watching the video at the link or, if you have time, reading the book. Palmer is brilliant in the sense of creation and community building around her art–she would take her band’s early tours into random new cities without housing accommodations, and tweet out that she needed a place to stay, and a fan or just a kind stranger would let her stay on the couch.
She would connect with local street performers, as she had once been, and have them play to the people waiting in line, and then later have those performers come on stage and play with her band, which would create, in her words: “a rotating random smorgasbord of circus guests.”
The art she created was straight up brilliant, and the sense of community was beyond describing.
But after years of growing a bit defensive, I’m back to listening to her advice.
When crowdfunding an album, Palmer was asked, “How did you make people pay for your music?”
Her response: “I think we are asking the wrong question. What if we started asking, ‘ “How do we let people pay for music?’ ”
Based on Palmer’s eclectic experience, and my own short set of networking and searching experiences, that’s the train of questioning we need to follow.
People want to feel valuable. People want to feel useful. People want to feel connected to others. People have opportunity to give.
So, go out there and ask. Go out and analyze what you what you want from people, and connect and see what people can you can get. It will be more than you thought.
You might end up with a circus of people on your proverbial stage. You might end up with more connections than you can possibly manage.
Or you might up exactly where you want to be.