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How to Find a Job When You Have an Unusual Background

When you are a square peg looking for a square hole, life is good. But when you don't fit neatly into a job search box, you might need to change the questions you ask. Get-It-Done Guy explains how.

By
Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #350

Don't Look for a You-Shaped Hole

"Fine," I told her, "Capabilities. Got it. But can't I just find a company with a Stever-shaped hole?"

"You're whining," she pointed out. I shut up. "You're also being inefficient," she said. 

What? Me? Inefficient!?!?!

"You're looking at companies and asking if there's a Stever-shaped hole. Most companies only have holes that are shaped like Katy Perry or Joe the Plumber. Or Kim Kardashian"

Oh.

"You're not likely to find Stever-shaped holes at any random company."

She explained a better search strategy: Start by asking, "Which people need Stevers?" Then look for companies and opportunities to serve those people. If my capabilities include bringing a group together to do awesome stuff, who needs that? If I can help people identify and overcome their limiting beliefs, who needs that? If I can keep people on track, moving forward, who needs that? If I can co-write an educational musical about zombies, Oreo Ice Cream cake, and personal productivity, who needs that?

(You do. Check out WorklessAndDoMore.com to see a short promo video for the musical.)

Don't Ask What You Want to Do

Of course, my list of all the things that are awesome about me is several pages long. I began to despair. "There's too much! I can do strategy, team-building, professional development, and educational comedic preforming. There's no one who wants all that." She agreed. And pointed out that I'm asking the wrong question.

When you're young, asking "What do I want" helps you broaden yourself, follow your interests, learn new things, and hopefully become an awesome person instead of a mindless drone whose personal development ends at age 23.

Once you have some experience, however, it's unlikely you'll be able to use all of it at once. Debra suggested changing the question from "What do I want to do?" to "What am I willing to let go of?" And that question is brilliant! Because even though I want to do many different things, I'm willing to let go of an awful lot, to make room for something better.

I thanked Debra for her help. Because that last question really did it. It turns out I'm willing to let go of my reputation around entrepreneurship, life coaching, and career coaching. But not my love of learning and teaching. Or my love of business and strategy. Or my desire to have a big impact on the world. Or my love of having a manly-man body that can metabolize an Oreo Ice Cream cake in one sitting.

I'm revamping my coaching practice around a single specialty. But I'm not quite ready to say what it is yet. At the end of the day, it's an audience that can get the most value from my skills, it's a fit for my skill set, and I'm wiling to let go of the other areas of my expertise.

It feels right and thanks to Debra, "the job whiz," I realized this by changing my questions.

Change your questions, too! See what happens: From "Who am I?" to "What can I do?" From "Does this company have place for a me?" to "What kind of people need what I can do?" And from "What do I want to do?" to "What am I willing to let go of?" My coaching practice is now focused on CEOs, and behind the scenes, I'm...well, let's just say that there are more ways to take over the world than just using a zombie army.

This is Stever Robbins. I advise and consult with...well, I'm not going to tell you just yet. But if you want to hear when I'm ready to announce it, just sign up for notifications at SteverRobbins.com.

Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!

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About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.