Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Why You Need Alternatives — Even to Your Dream Job

Read Time: 3 minutes

Even though an opportunity may be just right for you — let’s say it’s a perfect match with your expertise; it’s a dream job — you need alternatives both to represent yourself effectively and to protect you from projecting your hopes and dreams onto the opportunity.

Projection is a real danger when our desires are in play. It can keep us from really examining the opportunity because, as they say, “love is blind.”

That’s one problem of not having alternatives. Here’s another:

When we fall in love with an opportunity we become vulnerable to the possibility of rejection. With only one opportunity on the line, the emotional stakes rise. The ensuing anxiety can be so powerful that it ruins your chances of getting the gig. And let’s face it, desperate candidates are not appealing candidates.

Creatives are particularly vulnerable to this level of anxiety. I sure am.

At this point you might be asking yourself, “How could I possibly have an alternative? This is my dream job.”

Here’s What to Do

Self-reflection is the best place to begin to deal with these fears. I like to start on the dream job itself. Ask yourself:

  • What does the organization do?
  • Who are the leaders?
  • What do I know about them?
  • Does the business make good sense at a glance?
  • What’s the buzz on what they do?
  • Who buys what they sell?
  • Do they help people? How?
  • What’s their future look like?

I’m not talking about in-depth analysis here, just superficial. You’re just examining this possibility so you can fully grasp what kind of opportunity this dream job is. Or is not. Get serious if it still feels right after this quick check. If all is good you can decide to consider the opportunity more seriously.

Thinking through this should help you think about what you imagine you’ll be doing if you accept. It will also help you remember that imagining what you’ll be doing on your dream job is just that, imagination.

Now to the Alternatives

In my experience, the best way to gain clarity is look at your alternatives. Alternatives that offer other paths to an exciting future. Opportunities that you can use to weigh your dream job against while you gain perspective on your initial rush of enthusiasm.

You may not have other immediate options. So think of steps you can take, things you can do that will advance your cause. Make a list and include things like:

  • People you need to connect with who could help you.
  • Other jobs or projects that you could pursue.
  • Ratcheting up your social media presence.
  • Creating that website you’ve been thinking about.
  • And of course, do include any immediate opportunities that you’re interviewing for.

In other words, activities you find engaging and that will help you move forward. Activities that will help you find your future.

Having gone through these steps prior to a meeting about your dream job will help you remember that you have options. Having those alternatives in mind will reduce your desperation, and allow you to focus on getting the information you need during the interview.

Remember, you are a creative. As a creative, you’re well equipped to bring your dreams to life. You’re hardwired for the chase and the win.

So, have alternatives.

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