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Golden Guide Career Advice: Get in the Game!

Lydia Lazar

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Golden Tip No. 15: You Can’t Turn Down What Hasn’t Been Offered

Golden Guide Career Advice is a series from the AMA in partnership with Lydia Lazar, author of Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People. A new tip in the series will be posted each Tuesday—all tips are available here.

Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

You have to get in the game and pro-actively seek out job opportunities for which you are qualified and interested. Don’t spend time worrying that you won’t be chosen and talk yourself out of applying.

As Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” The same advice applies to your career. You should be applying for opportunities where you can make a credible argument that you are qualified. People constantly talk themselves out of applying for perfectly possible jobs and school programs, but in order to keep progressing, you must seek out opportunities throughout your career—especially in the early years.

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Even when things are going well at work, the truth is that both you and your work environment are changing all the time, so being proactive about scanning for opportunities is just common sense. Consider how you would feel about discovering an ideal job too late.

Networking is the critical skill to develop to ensure that you will be lucky in your career, but you should simultaneously identify and apply to relevant opportunities.

How can you find them?

  • Search internet job boards (e.g., Indeed, LinkedIn, AMA) by job titles and location. Don’t forget internal HR sites where your company posts jobs.
  • Narrow your search by reviewing open positions on company websites and postings on your college/alumni career sites—remember that employers posting there are looking for you.
  • Explore your social media network to identify people and companies that interest you—for example, using a filter such as “school alumni,” you can search LinkedIn for people working in particular cities, companies or industries.
  • As you conduct informational interviews and continuously meet new people, remember to keep track of their affiliations and referrals on a spreadsheet. Over time, it will fill up with websites of interesting companies that you can explore when you have time—and if you find an opening, you can circle back to your contact for advice and a possible internal referral.

The right combination of networking and applying to jobs online will depend on where you are in your career. However, keep in mind that according to most experts, applying online to postings you find on job boards or company websites is only successful about 5% of the time. So, you definitely don’t want to spend more than 10% of your available job-hunting time applying to jobs you see posted. Plan to allocate as much as 90% of your career development time to networking, reading and investigating new ideas and organizations.

Image courtesy of Pexels.


Dean Lazar's Golden Guide

For more career tips, read Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People, available on Amazon and at your local bookstore. Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

Lydia Lazar is founder and president of LHL Consulting. She is the former associate dean for recruitment and career services at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and previously, dean of international law and policy overseeing international student admissions (LLM) at Chicago-Kent College of Law.