The first time I looked for a job I did it like everyone else.
I perfected my resume, scoured the classifieds every day, followed up with HR.
I did it over and over again.
It took almost a year, but I finally got a job in my field of broadcast news.
My pay? $5/hour.
My hours? 2am – 8am.
The work? Typing reporter names on the screen.
About 18 months later, for more than a few reasons, I decided to move on.
But this time I decided my strategy would be different.
My eyes were set firmly on the TV station down the street. A friend got me 15 minutes with the news director.
And so I sat down across from him, looked him squarely in the eye, and said the following:
“I’m here because I believe your station is going to be #1 very soon. I want to be working for you when it happens.”
He raised his eyebrows and nodded slowly. There was no job open right then, but one month later there was. He called and offered it to me.
I recently told this story to a group of emerging leaders eager to learn how to get what they want in life…and how to stand out from the others going after the same thing.
I told them it all boils down to two simple words:
When we are hungry for food, we go and get it. We act.
Every day, more than once, we are hungry. And we make sure we are fed.
We don’t just sit…and wait… and hope the food will come.
We ensure it will, we play an active role.
We do it every day, without apology.
When it comes to getting the other things we hunger for in life, we are often much more passive. We do not act hungry. We do not go and get them.
A few examples:
- When you find an ideal job, then send a cover letter to HR that begins with “I’m writing to express my interest in position XXX”…you are not hungry.
- When you learn about the perfect class and then tell the administrator that you’d like to be considered when a slot opens up…you are not hungry.
- When you hear about someone you should connect with – someone who could introduce you to your next job, spouse, circle of friends – and you hope you run across them at a networking event…you are not hungry.
When you are hungry…
- You find a great job opportunity and figure out who you know that can get you to a decision-maker… then let that decision-maker know what you bring that nobody else does.
- You come across influential people who can connect you to other influential people, and you tell them they are important. You tell them you want to be part of their circle.
- You are told there are no slots left in the training you need and you find the person who can make an exception…then explain why the opportunity is critical to you, and what you can bring to it in return.
Now, this isn’t a perfect formula. Sometimes you can be hungry, you can go after what you want with passion and drive…and it won’t matter.
When you are hungry for something, when you act on it, when you help the decision-maker understand why you are the perfect fit…you stand out from the crowd.
Which means you increase your odds of getting what you want.
Most people do not do this. They let life happen to them.
- They wait to be noticed.
- They take no for an answer.
- They express their interest and wait to hear back.
Those who are hungry go after what they want. They speak differently. They act differently.
They also…and this is just as important…know when to pull back.
Nobody wants to be seen as a stalker or fake or arrogant. Nobody wants to be seen as pushy, annoying, or just plain whiny.
Being hungry is about figuring out what you want and going after it with passion.
It’s about finding those who can help you get it, and getting them to understand why they should.
I learned this lesson early on. And I’ve used it ever since.
Remember that news director? A year after hiring me he told me he wanted me to work the assignment desk full time.
I didn’t want to do it. I wanted to be a news producer.
And so I sat down across from him, looked him squarely in the eye, and suggested the following:
“How about I work the desk four days a week and then train to be a producer on the fifth day?”
He raised his eyebrows and nodded slowly. Then, he agreed.
A few months later, when a producer slot opened up, I was ready. I got the job.
It happened because I knew what I wanted. It happened because I was hungry and went after it. It happened because I thought differently, acted differently, stood out.
This week, think about what you really want…your next great job, relationship, activity.
Then figure out how you can go after it differently, show that you are hungry…that you are special.
Do it right, and you’ll stand out.
Stand out, and you’ll get what you want.
Get what you want, and be full…of life.
Now, go do good…and do it well.