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Barack Obama: The ultimate job search

by Randall Craig on November 5, 2008

Filed in: Blog, New Job, Planning, Recruitment

Tagged as: , ,

Ten Career Planning Tips that we can learn from Barack Obama (and John McCain)
Now that the dust has settled with the American Presidential election, all of the pundits can begin prognosticating on how Obama will do once he’s on the job. For those in the midst of a job search, however, attention must return to more mundane matters – like getting a job. Yet, are there any job search and career planning lessons that can be learned from Obama’s historic victory? The answer, of course, is yes.

1) Anyone can grow up to be the President of the United States. And you can do any job that you want as well. Set a goal, make sure you are qualified, and “apply” for the position.

2) The road to success is long and hard. Obama didn’t wake up one day and decide to be President. First he got an education, then he worked in the community, then he was elected to Senate, then he ran for the Democrat’s nomination, and then finally, for President. While no one may know (including Obama himself) where a path might lead, working hard each day pretty much guarantees progress.

3) The value of Networking. Obama certainly didn’t do it by himself – by some accounts, he had over one million others helping him reach his goal. How are you using – and growing – your network?

4) The value of the Internet. Beyond the basics of a web site, he had Blogs, Videos, Social Networking, discussion groups, ecommerce, and email. You name it, Obama used it to amplify his message and reach out to his audience.

5) The power of a personal brand. More than anything else, his message was singular and on-track: a message of change and hope. While this might not be your Personal Brand, especially during a job search, this focus defined him to others, and helped these others amplify his message even further. Of course, it helped that his brand was completely congruent: the way he looked, the way he acted, the way he sounded, his message, his attitude – everything.

6) The importance of an interview. Each time he was in front of the camera, he was poised, fluent, and answered in an authentic manner. Most people don’t enjoy interviews, so consider: Obama did 5-10+ interviews each day. Practice makes perfect.

7) Support of family and friends. Often, a politician’s family is wrongfully seen as a prop, to appear when needed, and to be put away when completed. In reality, though, a public figure is also a private figure: with relationships, personal responsibilities, interests, and requirements. And their families are often the keystone to this private life, providing the support that allows them to work successfully in the public eye. Those of us who “merely” work – or are looking for work – sometimes forget that our family and friends are there to support us, and that it is our responsibility to reach out and ask.

8) The importance of thank you. Obama’s acceptance speech was both inspiring, and humble. He didn’t shirk from acknowledging all of the people who helped along the way. During the next month or two, this will continue with thousands (if not millions) of emails, letters, and phone calls. It isn’t hard to say thank you, yet sometimes we too easily forget.

9) The value of a rest before you start. Obama was elected on November 4th, but won’t actually be sworn in until January. No doubt he will use the time to pull together his team, but he may also take a few days break and recharge from his long campaign. If you are between jobs, take a few days – or even a week – before you start. That short break will leave you re-energized.

10) There really aren’t any losers when you step up to the plate. While John McCain and Sarah Palin lost the election, did they also not gain something from it? John McCain earned 46% of the popular vote – not too shabby. He built a team, and has become a greater influence within his party. Sarah Palin has put her name on the map, gaining valuable experience on a national stage. While neither won the prize they were seeking, they both are further ahead than before, and this will help them as they consider their own next steps. When it comes to your own job search, even if you don’t get the job – or the promotion – the fact that you were considered for the role says something about you. And the interview experience, networking, and research have even greater value.

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Randall Craig

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About 

Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at randallcraig.com and 108ideaspace.com.

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