Have you noticed that those tenacious, reanimated “Walkers” from AMC’s hit show The Walking Dead are usually more successful than not? They remind me of the mythical motto attributed to postal carriers: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Perhaps that description (or epitaph in this case) also applies to our Walkers. So begs the question: Can we learn anything from them regarding the job hunt?” I think we can.
If we think about the Walkers’ goals, we see that they know what they want and are singularly motivated. It’s simple; they “live” to eat. The living dead have a hunger that can’t be satisfied. Whether you are looking for a job because you aren’t happy with the one you’re in or you don’t have a job and you want one, the strategy is easy: Be The Zombie.
Tip 1: Increase self-awareness.
Take some time to answer this question: What are five things that I can bring to a company? Jot those down (or better yet, add them to your job-hunting Notebook in Evernote—an indispensable job searching tool), then begin to view these five abilities of yours as marketable assets. Next, hone your search in terms of these keywords as you scan for job openings in newspapers, online job boards, or wherever you scavenge for flesh, er…I mean employment. For example, if one of your assets is “strong communication skills,” look for terms and concepts in a job posting where communication is key.
Once this process is finished, it’s time to beef up your resume (while remaining truthful of course) so that it will reflect those communication skills as well as the other four strengths you identified. If your education strongly supports your five abilities, put it at the top of your resume and list some specific ways the time you invested in school helped develop your talents in these areas. If your work history more strongly highlights your five assets, lead with that and make sure you pepper those keywords into a vivid description of the work you have done. Finally, before you land an interview, research the companies you most want to work for and do your best to understand what they need and how your skills are a match. Prepare interesting stories from your professional history that showcase your five areas of strength.
Knowing who you are and what you are about is important but remember this: The stray Walker almost always loses his head in the end. Keep reading to maximize resources such as your friends, family, and community.
Herd Mentality (a.k.a. Networking)
Do you remember the scenes from the Walking Dead’s Season 2 finale, “Beside the Dying Fire?” The farm that had served as a semi-safe haven was overrun by hoards of Walkers. The sheer number of hungry undead was a Game Changer that scattered the fierce band of heroes. To get the best job at the best salary rate, you need a village, your village, to help you.
Tip 2: Prepare your references.
Keep your head in the game with a Walker-like mindset. Keep your five assets handy when you talk to people in your social circles. Ask your closest friends, family, and colleagues for examples of how they have seen you live these five skills in your personal and professional life. When you ask them for letters of references or for permission to put them on your resume (and you should get permission), ask them to speak to these strengths with clear examples when they write your letter or speak to the recruiter/interviewer.
Now that you’re hungry and you’ve surrounded yourself with others who can support your career goals, you need to stand out—but not too much.
How many times have we witnessed that tense moment when a character is walking down a dark hallway all gussied up with corpses that appear to be dead, really dead, and then one of the Damned lurches with outstretched arms, open-mouth, gurgling, and lands a fresh meal. Sure, Walkers who prey together, stay together but in the end, it’s your mouth you’re trying to feed. The true art of finding a job is balancing the ability to appear normal and safe but at the same time show that you have an edge that makes you stand above the rest.
Tip 3: Curate your brand.
Way back in Season 1, Rick and Glenn adorned themselves in zombie flesh in order to pass through a Walker herd undetected. Why? Because Walkers are wholly uninteresting to each other. When you are job hunting, you need to lose the stench of unfamiliarity and be able to be recognized by the person who is pursuing you.
Make sure you have good online hygiene by using Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the rest to promote the five assets that you identified back in Tip 1. Blog and post about those interesting stories where your five assets came through. Share noteworthy content and connect to influencers in your field so that you make social media work for you and not against you. And take heart, even if your online identity is currently a little shaky, it is easier (and cheaper) to control what potential employers will find about you by populating the web with what you want others to see rather than trying to erase the older, embarrassing content.
Thankfully, we don’t live in a post zombie apocalypse but it is a dog eat dog world out there. Get to work on these three tips, stay relaxed, and enjoy the hunt!
Featured photo credit: pallid zombie against dark background via Shutterstock