An Open Letter to Job Seekers
Most people will tell you to follow your passions. I’m here to tell you how taking an opportunity for a good reason can lead to new passions.
Dear Job Seeker,
Searching for your next position is overwhelming and sometimes paralyzing. I know, because I’ve been there. Most advice out there will tell you to “find and follow your passion” to figure out what to do. In my experience, doing that will leave you waiting for an ‘AHA!’ moment that may never come. Finding your passion, in addition to being a lot of pressure, narrows your search and leads to inaction. Inactivity means longer unemployment. Instead, start with a good reason you would take your next opportunity. Write a reason statement — something that will broaden your search but also give you enough focus to get your networking efforts in gear.
What’s a reason statement? Here’s a simple format I borrowed from Simon Sinek that I find useful: To ____, So That ____. One sentence that has an action and a why.
In 2011 I joined a startup called KYCK. The initial idea was to build a social network for soccer fans — basically, Twitter for soccer (yes, I know that’s just Twitter now). This move surprised most people who know me. I wasn’t a soccer fan. In fact, I played just about every other sport growing up but soccer. I also didn’t know anything about technology. Most of my career to that point was in Finance. But regardless of the raised eyebrows, I felt great about the move. I knew my reason statement. It looked something like this.
To join a startup in the Idea Phase so that I can experience the challenges of building a company from scratch in order to be better prepared to start my own company in the future.
Notice that there’s nothing about a specific role, a specific industry, or any of my “passions”. I had a long-term plan to start my own company someday. Taking a job for this reason fit into my plan.
Starting and growing KYCK was really hard. Mac Lackey (the Founder) and I stressed over every payroll for years. But I stuck with it, through all of the ups and downs and anxiety, because I knew my learning wasn’t done until we saw KYCK through to an end result. I’m so glad I did, and I am a more prepared entrepreneur now because of it.
Your reason statement doesn’t have to be lofty. Just knowing your why will help you make a good decision in this time of uncertainty. To earn money so that you can pay your bills is a good enough reason if that’s the position you’re in. But if that’s your reason, you have a lot of options to consider, and your network will be able to help you more if you tell them that.
Nail your reason. Tell your network. Take meetings (yes, over Zoom, and yes, even if they’re not hiring right now). Ask the people you meet with for more introductions. If you get an opportunity that fits your reason, take it. Don’t wait. It’ll lead to places you’d never expect.
In 2013, two years after joining KYCK, I asked our Board to support me moving to London. Two weeks after landing in London, I met my now-wife, Joanna, and we have a 15-month old son. The two co-Founders of Rabbu, where I now work, are former colleagues from KYCK. I’m an Arsenal (European) football fan.
All of that was possible because I had a good reason. I didn’t take the job because it was my passion. The job gave me new passions.
You got this,