Today is a huge day on the #90DaysToMyDreamJob journey. One of my greatest Influencers read the scariest post I’ve written yet and took the time to encourage me further with this comment. Thank you, Seth Godin! You inspire millions of people with your words and actions to do work that’s necessary even if it feels really, really scary.
So with this encouragement I’ve decided to go through with the idea I wrote about a few days ago. I’ve been writing on the back of photo prints for over an hour to hand out to Hiring Managers when I’m in Phoenix, AZ next week. My hand is starting to hurt, but as my friend Agi commented, ‘…what do you really have to lose?’
Wish me productivity and a pain free hand!
I would be remiss if I didn’t address during this #90DaysToMyDreamJob challenge the unique issues a diverse candidate faces in the job hunting process.
What do I mean when I write ‘diverse’?
Its definition has certainly changed throughout the decades, but most companies today would agree a diverse candidate is anyone who falls in one or more of the following categories: Women, African Americans, Hispanics, Individuals with Disabilities and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Individuals.
There are certainly more people that come from different cultural and religious backgrounds that add to our understanding of the human experience, but they aren’t as represented in company diversity employee groups as the ones mentioned earlier.
Perhaps some assume that falling into diverse categories buoys a candidate’s confidence in applying since companies frequently claim their commitment to diversity and their denial of discriminatory hiring practices. But as a job candidate who is a self-coined ‘triple whammy’ of the corporate diversity world: I am a woman, I am Hispanic (on my mother’s side hence the Italian last name) and I have a physical disability that’s highly visible, I’ll admit that what I feel when I apply isn’t boosted confidence. What I experience instead is a subtle sense of paranoia.
Just a few days ago I wrote about an idea of handing out my photo to Hiring Managers to get the attention of my targeted employers in Phoenix, AZ and one of my dear cousins left this thoughtful response on my blog, ‘… it's NOT a good idea to include photos anywhere in the process. Reasons vary, but include gender bias, skin color bias, facial expression impact, reverse discrimination possibilities, etc.’ When I read the comment the paranoid thoughts that have plagued me not only during the last few months of this job hunting process, but also throughout my entire career came flooding back. In this highly visible and hyper-connected world that we live in today, the concern isn’t so much anymore, ‘What if they find out all these things about me before I apply?’, but rather, ‘How will they evaluate me knowing already that I’m a woman, I’m Hispanic and I have a disability?’
I have worked alongside HR employees for nine years and within HR for the last four years of my career. I’ve seen Recruiters and Hiring Managers actively dismiss candidates based on what they assume a candidate with a disability can or can’t do and avoid candidates (either consciously or subconsciously) with too ‘ethnic’ names. These are just a few of the discriminatory practices that exist.
Why do companies still do this despite their claims that they don’t?
The reason comes down simply to fear. Fear of the unfamiliar, fear of the unknown. We like and trust that which we know. It’s no surprise then that hiring and firing decisions often involve a team of lawyers to guide the process (the bigger the company the bigger the legal team), but this approach only perpetuates the fear.
What will ease the minds of both potential employee and employer? It’s certainly not a hush-hush and litigious attitude, but rather an openness and transparency to the hiring process. Honest (often difficult) conversations about company needs in relation to applicants’ abilities and unique perspectives will be what get us to truly diverse workplaces.
Some employers understand this, while most others don’t.
Here’s hoping that this #90DaysToMyDreamJob challenge leads me to those that do.
Today is a short post because I need to keep focused on sending 40 pain letters to Hiring Managers at my targeted employers in Phoenix.
And painful they are. Each takes me about an hour to research and write because I’m trying to guess at what their HR issues might be then showcase an experience from my career where I solved that very issue.
They feel like a shot in the dark just like cover letters do, but the claim is that pain letters are more successful at getting a response than conventional cover letters. If I send 40 pain letters I should expect approximately 10 responses.
I continue to write them along with talking with new people and keeping in contact with my existing network—gotta work all strategies, not just one.
Wish me productivity.
I love the phrase, ‘Go big or go home.’ I’m drawn to it because it’s exactly the good humored verbal cue that I need to take risks.
Doing this #90DaysToMyDreamJob challenge was a risk, but I’m doing it anyway. Getting married and moving across the country to Arizona where there’s no family or friends is a HUGE risk, but we’re making it happen. Why? Because we’ve learned that to live remarkable lives means we often have to do things that initially feel uncomfortable—sometimes very uncomfortable.
I think I can get even more uncomfy in the #90DaysToMyDreamJob challenge…
A few weeks ago I found on my desk wallet sized prints a very talented photographer had taken of me. These are the photos that I’ve been using on my social media profiles, but since my need is solely digital, I complained to my mother that I didn’t know what to do with the remainder. She joked that I should hand them out to prospective employers.
A light bulb went off. YES! Why not?
This Sunday my fiancé and I are flying to Phoenix for a super short trip. I have about 30 of these photos. I can write on the back simply: #90DaysToMyDreamJob, www.violaminicozzi.com and hand them out to people walking out of the offices of my targeted employers (just typing that idea makes me anxious!) or put them in little envelopes and address them to the Hiring Managers I’ve been hemming and hawing to contact.
What do you think? Is it too off the wall?
Or is it just the ‘go big or go home’ risk I need to take on this trip to Phoenix?
I haven’t uploaded new items to my eBay store for a while so today I’m devoting the hours it takes to photograph, edit and upload the images, write descriptions and post on the site. I’ll listen to some Christmas carols to keep my energy up because this will go well into the evening.
Wish me lots of productivity!
P.S. Keeping to the shameless self-promotion of this #90DaysToMyDreamJob challenge: if you like vintage men’s watches check back by 11 PM EST to see the new items.
Just as I’m fascinated by self-made business moguls such as Richard Branson, Ray Kroc and Oprah Winfrey, I’m equally taken by those whose literary and poetic talents seem to come so easily. I’ve learned, however, that this ease I envy is an illusion. Success in both business and writing is an arduous journey.
I’ve come to accept my place in the journey and commit myself to continued practice. Yesterday’s events inspired me to write something with a poetic flair. I can’t formally claim it as a sonnet, haiku or ballade since my attempts at understanding the basics of iambic pentameter left me with a headache, but I figure I should write something than nothing at all.
Besides, today’s Sunday and I needed a little break from the job hunting process.
Two little girls sat in a meadow.
An old man came to them and said, ‘Look up! See the beautiful birds above you?’
In that instant a skein of geese soared overhead,
Outstretched wings and regal formations imparted only clues to their grand mystery.
The first little girl glanced up and replied, ‘I’ve seen a 1,000 more birds than that’ and returned her gaze to the ground.
The second little girl looked up and exclaimed, ‘Hello, birds!’ and kept her gaze to the sky.
The old man knew then who was open to the wonder that’s always above us.
Today I give you a book recommendation on The Joy of Less by Francine Jay or, in other terms, a book on minimalism.
What does minimalism have to do with job hunting? We’ll soon learn quite a bit, but first let’s think back to when humans started caring about living a minimalist lifestyle or a lifestyle in which you only own and do things that are useful and/or brings you joy.
I suspect humans have been looking for ways to control the anxieties that can come with owning lots of things for centuries, if not millennia. Even our nomadic ancestors likely carted just as much stuff (if not more since tools weren’t as advanced) than what current Mongolian nomads do today.
Though minimalism has been a lifestyle ideal of ours for a long time, I’ve only grown to understand and actively practice it over the last five years. The Joy of Less book has helped me to provide structure around what it means to live simply. She not only explains the philosophy behind it, but also takes the reader through a typical Western home room by room (no Mongolian gers here) breaking down the de-cluttering process.
Five years ago when I was still in business school, I started an eBay store selling items I bought myself years before or were given to me to sell as way to pay off my student loans. Today I’m still running that eBay store to not so much pay down my loans, but rather keep me afloat during the drawn out job hunting process.
What may be surprising to a lot of people is that as I continue to pare down my belongings I don’t feel like I’m missing out or deprived of my things—and I owned some beautiful things (still do). On the contrary, with each item that’s sold or given away that I’m no longer responsible for, the lighter and less burdened I feel. I’ve become more focused on what it really means to live a full life.
I now apply the same minimalist approach when I consider future employers. Years prior I would have clicked ‘apply’ to any HR Specialist role within an organization that had a Phoenix presence without asking myself the eight [highly adapted] questions the author proposes before buying a new item:
These questions are powerful and should be asked not only of the things you consider to buy, but also of the most important time commitment you can make in your life—your work.
P.S. One thing that stood out like a sore thumb in the book is the author's take on gifts--it's downright sketchy and deceptive! You've been forewarned...
Do you feel more optimistic about your life in the mornings? Do things feel less heavy at the start of the day than they did the night before?
I never realized how much my perception changes throughout the day until I’ve been on the job hunt. In the mornings I feel energized with a renewed sense of hope about the outcomes of my job hunt strategy. My goals are more vivid in my mind’s eye and I carry myself with a quiet determination to: Get. Stuff. DONE.
Then lunch time hits.
My eager morning expression of eyebrows slightly raised and a slight smile on my face is replaced with a stoic mouth and a furrowed brow. While my body is busy digesting food, I feel my energy dampen, but the changes aren’t just physical. The biggest shifts are psychological.
During the break, I learn from an article that as a job seeker ‘it will take one month of job searching for every $10,000 of salary that you were earning…’ and my thoughts go into a tailspin. I do the quick math and groan, ‘Nooooo, at least X months to find a new job?!?’ (I also learn from another article that I shouldn’t publicly disclose my last salary even though I’m in favor of transparent pay practices, oh well…).
My morning self would have likely reacted with an enthusiastic, ‘YAY! Only a few months left! I couldn’t have scheduled the #90daystomydreamjob challenge better if I tried!’But that chipper attitude feels light years away as I try to recover and get back to work. I sense it: my confidence is officially shaken. It takes longer to write a sentence and doubt creeps in as I vacillate between hitting ‘send’ on an email or waiting another day to ensure it’s ‘perfect.’
Realizing these ups and downs of emotions I experience has helped me prioritize the tasks of the day: now I try to squeeze in as many of the intimidating items in the morning (ex. cold emails to hiring managers, networking emails, writing these blog posts (!) and informational interview phone calls). The middle and end of my work day is spent researching potential employers and their current openings. I try to wrap up all job hunting work by 8pm.
I shut down worrying about it for the rest of the evening and divert my attention to other activities because another thing I realized about myself in this process? I don’t learn as much when riding roller coasters at night.
Today I’m pushing myself to send more cold emails to Hiring Managers at my targeted employers.
Wish me luck!
I’ve been targeting employers in Phoenix for almost a year now, but only since this past July have I focused full-time on connecting with employees from these firms. The #90daystomydreamjob challenge has led me to re-evaluate my top five dream employers. I now more seriously consider company size, culture and where they are in their growth phase with my preferences which all helps me make an educated guess whether they’d have an HR need that I can fulfill.
I’ve spoken to a lot of wonderful people from a few of these companies and they help confirm that I’d make a great fit.
Here’s my top five as of 12/9/15 and my reasons for choosing them:
1. PetSmart-I could talk all day about my love for pets, especially dogs, so a company that recognizes how much pets enrich our lives is up there on my list (there’s even video evidence of this!). Since it’s headquartered in Phoenix there likely are more opportunities to do HR specialist roles. Oh and after my fiancé and I do make the big move, we’re getting my first dog together—I could even take the dog to the office with me at PetSmart!
2. Intel- I have a deep respect for technology that aims to do good by making life easier for everyone. After talking to a lot of employees there, I believe that’s what Intel strives to do. They also have a well-developed HR department that’s integrated with the business. I could add a lot of value with my unique perspective and background while also learn a ton from the employees that would be my peers and mentors.
3. Arizona State University-I told my career counselor from business school over the summer that I see a lot of similarities in what she did for me as what I loved to do for my team members when I was a manager at various companies. I thrive on the coaching and development aspects of management and could positively influence a lot of W.P. Carey or Thunderbird business students entering the work force.
4. LifeLock-Another Arizona headquartered company doing great work in Tempe! LifeLock makes it their mission to ensure our identities are safe while we enjoy the magic that is the interwebs. Because this is a headquartered location, there will likely be more HR needs and in turn HR opportunities offered at this company.
5. Wells Fargo-This would be like coming home in a way. I used to work for Wachovia Wealth Management during the year they were acquired by Wells Fargo. I grew the majority of my career in the financial services industry so I know well its opportunities and challenges. Wells Fargo has a large presence in the Valley and I’d be happy to ‘come home’ again.
So there you have it, my top five targeted employers in Phoenix. I’m working to build a total list of 40 employers to contact so that I increase my chances of landing my dream job within the 90 days.
Viola. Vi. Vivi.