There’s no doubt that today’s job market is daunting. But as with any challenging situation, it seems less daunting to those who create and execute a strategy. From my perspective the best strategy treats searching for a career like farming.
My wife grew up on an apple farm in North Carolina, and I’ve heard a lot of stories over the years about farm life. Interestingly, relatively little time on a percentage basis is spent on the harvest. Sure, the harvest is the ultimate goal, but a lot of work needs to take place before the fruit can be picked. The ground has to be prepared, seeds have to be planted, and the future bounty must be watered and fertilized. Those are not tasks to be taken lightly. Get one step wrong and your crop simply won’t grow.
The other piece of farming that often gets overlooked is the help that others provide – the farm hands. Family, friends, suppliers, and workers all play a vital role in creating the conditions that may lead to a bountiful harvest. A farmer just can’t do it all alone. Great farmers know this and treat those around them like partners, not property.
And notice I said may lead to a bountiful harvest. No matter how well you plan, prepare, and execute, external forces may prevent success. Weather is hard to predict, especially on a micro or local basis. Drought or freezing conditions can erase a lot of hard work. In short, there’s no guarantee that executing a well-designed plan will lead to success. But not planning will most likely lead to failure.
How to career search like a farmer:
Prepare the Ground – Get a rich education, be it liberal arts or a technical degree. Know your field and continually find ways to learn and improve.
Plant the Seeds – Develop your personal story told through your elevator speech, LinkedIn profile, resume, and internships.
Recruit Farm Hands – Create a network of mentors, family, friends, and professional contacts and manage it constantly. Ignore your network and it will ignore you.
Water and Fertilize – Nurture you network via phone calls, emails, face-to-face meetings, and thank-you notes. Neglect your network and it will die.
Reap a Bountiful Harvest – After months of hard work, your crop will be ready to harvest in the form of a job offer. One job offer is a good harvest but set your sights on a bountiful harvest… multiple job offers.