Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Adopt Audacity and Humility as Values in Your Job Search

Finding meaningful work is extremely difficult, even in the best of economic times. The process, from the initial identification of an opportunity through (hopefully) the acceptance of an offer, is fraught with peril at best and designed to frustrate even the most level-headed among us.

Countless personal experiences in looking for work, melded with my effort to advise others, inform my belief that the two most critical personal attributes for a successful job search are audacity and humility.

The audacious job seeker considers no door closed to a potential opportunity, and continues to knock (and even bang) until a response is received. Mindful of personal experience, skills, the particular needs of a position, and the culture of the organization itself, this individual pursues relevant opportunities with the white-hot passion and boundless creativity that's fundamental to building relationships with myriad touch points at any successful enterprise.

At the same time, the job seeker is humble. He or she embraces the complexity (and occasional incomprehensibility) of the process and remains ever respectful of individuals and institutions encountered along the way. There's simply no place for arrogance or grandiosity; confident humility serves the ultimate purpose far better than any other approach--and speaks volumes about the kind of employee you undoubtedly envision yourself to be.

I clearly needed to muster all the audaciousness and humility I could access during my latest job search, which ended when I joined Presidio Graduate School on July 1, 2012 as Associate Dean, Student Affairs and Career Development. My path to this position began in 2006, when one of my University of San Francisco MBA students introduced me to someone she knew there. In September 2010, as I began considering my plans after completing my doctorate, I reached out to that Presidian who in turn introduced me to a member of the institution's board of directors. That person, in turn, introduced me to two faculty members with whom I met that fall. I maintained contacted with various individuals at the institution throughout 2011, and through yet another contact was introduced to the current Chief Operating Officer in late 2011. That meeting led to two consecutive contracts in early 2012, followed by the offer of a full-time position.

The total time between my initial contact in pursuit of a position at Presidio Graduate School and the acceptance of a full-time offer was 22 months. While many other factors contributed to this successful conclusion, I have little doubt that had my attitude been guided by values other than audaciousness and humility the end result would have been different.

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