Look, Taste and Smell Like You
When making your next career move, the first thing you should do is find people who look, taste, and smell like you who are doing the kind of work you want to do.
This is particularly true if your industry is in decline and you need to make a shift in industries. COVID-19 is disrupting so many companies and industries that this kind of shift will become necessary.
You will want to look for people with specific characteristics like:
- Past Job Titles
- Ethnic Makeup
- Language Skills
- Past Industries
You are looking for people who look like you. Find out where they are working. That will give you hints for companies that might be interesting in hiring you. These same people could also be mentors or sherpas in guiding you in your transition.
Note: This post was originally published in February of 2017 and was updated in June of 2020.
Let me give you some examples.
Look, Taste and Smell Example #1
I was approached by a gentleman who had been overseas for about 10 years. He has a Ph.D. in Linguistics and had been doing some very specialized translations of religious materials. He was very mission-driven. The translating work he accomplished had an impact on changing people’s lives.
He had returned to the U.S. with his family due to family issues and needed to find a job, but was lost as to how.
I suggested he get on LinkedIn and search for people who had a Linguistic Ph.D. from the university where he attained his degree, and then look at other institutions of higher learning. Where were these individuals working? Next search those profiles for keywords like religion, Bible, Christianity…
He needed to find people who had a similar degree and were working on missions that resonated with him.
I know this is an extreme example but it illustrates the process.
Look, Taste and Smell Example #2
I have an over-50 female client who recently finished a Ruby on Rails boot camp. She was much older than everyone in the boot camp and was one of the few women.
I told her while she was in the boot camp to search LinkedIn for everyone who had “Ruby on Rails in their profile within a 100-mile radius of where she lived. There were over a thousand profiles listed. Almost all were young guys.
She started manually going through the profiles to find those that “looked” older in their picture or were female. What she discovered was that most of the men were older (probably over 40), were ex-military, and worked for government agencies.
BINGO! Government agencies generally are fair in hiring and are willing to hire older, less qualified workers.
She also found a number of younger women who accompanied her to “Women Who Code” meetup groups.
In the end, she found contract work through one of these women and by driving for Lyft. You might be saying, “What does driving for Lyft have to do with this topic?”. Well, she met the fiance of a tech company founder who was intrigued by her story. The company founder’s fiance did a lot of consulting work for government agencies and was comfortable using an older junior-level programmer.
Look, Taste and Smell Example #3
Another example is a gentleman who was reinventing himself to be a big data guy. He took numerous courses from Coursera and DataCamp and listed all of these courses on his LinkedIn profile.
I had him search on LinkedIn for others who had taken the same courses in his home area in the last year AND had been at a similar stage in their career. This required a fair amount of digging in that he had to look at each person’s profile.
He found that most were working for a small number of companies, including his former employer. His former employer hired him back after being unemployed for 18 months.
Look, Taste and Smell Example #4
I had a gentleman approach me just the other day. He was an American living in Italy and was married to an Italian woman with a teenage daughter about to graduate from high school. He wanted to return to the United States so that his daughter could attend a U.S. university. He had worked all over the European Union for the last 2 decades but had been in Italy for the last 10 years. Italy has never recovered from the great recession and it’s has been the epicenter of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe.
We discussed how he might locate employers in the United States who would desire his multi-lingual and multi-cultural skills in his current industry – finance.
I suggested he search for individuals who are in the finance industry, with job titles that are appropriate to what he wants to do, and list Italian, Spanish, or German as languages that they are fluent in. This will take a lot of digging but if he can find someone with the finance and language skills he already has, this should give some real hints to the kinds of companies and roles that he might be suited for.
What Do You Look, Taste or Smell Like?
What characteristics define what you do?
Are there characteristics that define what you would like to do?
Once you understand those characteristics and the keywords associated with them, you can search out people in different industries and companies.
Can you find people who like, taste, and smell like you?
Where are these people working?Marc Miller