How to Find a Job by Becoming T Shaped

The job hunt is hard--really hard.  

That's why I'm doing my small part by sharing some wisdom that helped me to understand my strengths which then helped me to articulate my strengths which then helped me get hired.  

Full Disclosure: 

I am a millenial who recently acquired his first job so don't take this as sage like wisdom, but rather a bit of perspective from someone who is just barely a step ahead.   

Step 1: Research Yourself

When I started my job hunt, I made the mistake of running before I looked at the map. In my hurry to make sure that I got a job by the time I graduated college, I sprinted through job applications like they were mini bagels (you can't eat just 30). Literally no field or career was too outside my wheelhouse to submit an application for. The result was not more phone calls. 

I learned that before you can market yourself, you must understand yourself (go ahead and call me Mr. Muyagi)  

Instead, I rarely (if ever) received phone calls because I was throwing together resumes in an attempt to make myself fit molds for jobs I just wasn't cut out for. Hopefully you're not like me and you started thinking about jobs before your last year of college, but if you didn't--or you're stuck in your career--this next bit is extremely important.  

The One Thing

Examine your strengths, hobbies, interests, passions, and weaknesses and find the one thing that you are best at (hopefully this also aligns with what you're most passionate about). This is the long vertical part of your T. 

For some people, this one thing is a hard skill--like computer coding or biology (vomit!). In my experience, my one thing was/is communication which is a bit more of a soft skill. Whatever you do, think long and hard about this first thing because it is the basis of the way you're going to present yourself to employers. This is also just a great exercise in understanding your strengths.  

The Many Things

People are not robots--duh. So I know that you are way better than that one thing that you listed in the first part. Now is time for many things. Start to think about all the things that you are proficient at. Just because you have an interest in graphic design does NOT make graphic design one of your many things.  

The Many Things can include hobbies, skills, passions, interests, or whatever really.

Just make sure that these are tasks you are comfortable being tasked with. Don't just fly through these because they are very important to the interview process. 

Step 2: Make Yourself into a T

Ok now we're going to take both the elements from Step 1 and make them into a pretty visual because that's what the internet loves. While this visual is primarily for illustrating my point, you might seriously want to consider putting this in your interview packet. I did and it worked wonders.  

Here's how to make your T: The "one thing" from the previous section is the long skinny part of the T, the "many things" are placed on the horizontal top of the T. Like this...


Step 3: Practice Explaining Your T-Shaped Skills

If you haven't already caught on , the idea here is to present yourself as being very deep in one skill set and comfortably competent in others. 

The reason this method worked so well for me is because it made me reevaluate my skills to realize that the way I was presenting myself was completely inaccurate.  

Before I ran across this concept in  Hey Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan, I used to talk at length about my abilities without ever really having any direction and I suspect it was unimpressive to employers. The T Shaped model helped me to say, "I'm really good at this one thing and pretty decent at this other stuff." 

My current boss told me that even if the packet I prepared had been worthless, which he clarified it wasn't, my effort was impressive nonetheless.  

Step 4: Screen your Jobs--Then Try Really Hard

I suggest spending a large amount of your time researching the careers that are geared towards your skills and that you're passionate about--that's the sweet spot.

Then find a few companies you would love to work for and try really hard to get an interview. Be creative, be fun (if applicable), but mostly--be you. 

Everyone is on the job websites, not everyone is making interview packets and offering to take hiring executives to lunch.  

My advice is that you're better off spending 5 hours on one interview than 5 hours spamming out your resume.  

So there it is, that's my advice.  


photo credit: Kieran Bennett via photopin cc