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I have heard them all. I have heard them repeatedly. I have heard them repeatedly from people who have, how shall I say, a certain modicum of success, but certainly not the kind of success that dreams are made of.

I’d love to stop hearing them.

Because that would mean that less people are believing them.

And that would be good for everyone. Especially you.

Because after you stop believing it, you’ll stop the behaviour that the belief causes.

And when you change your behaviour, your career will change.

1. It’s all about the work.

No it isn’t. It’s not even close to all about the work. If it WAS all about the work, this is what would happen:. You would send your online book to the Executive Creative Director, they would look at it and send you a job offer.

Does that happen? No.

It’s about your personality. And your energy. And do you know the business. And are you articulate. And do people on the ‘street’ like you, or do they think you’re a flake/idiot/diva/douche/alcoholic who likes to send hate emails late at night. And do clients like you. Have you ever done anything odd in public that demonstrated a lack of judgement. Are you a good presenter. Can you hire. Have you burned through partners like a Summer brushfire, or are you great to work with? Can you win business? AND… is that portfolio of yours.

Important, but not everything.

It’s not all about the work. It’s also a LOT about your personal brand.

2. When they want me, they will call me.

Oh right. You’re the Jared Leto of the adbiz now? So famous after winning a couple of awards that the world is beating a path to your door?

I bet a few people are calling, some headhunters even / charged by some of the sexy agency brands to go and hire up this year’s fresh crop of Cannes winners. See the problem with that is, the market is dictating your career, not the other way around.

Don’t choose from the handful of agencies that express an interest. Choose from all the agencies in the world. You decide. You pick. You figure out what agency you want to work for, and then go and get noticed by them using your stellar marketing skills and creativity to get on their radar, get an interview and then get hired.

3. They didn’t call back, I guess they’ve changed their mind.

Sometimes, yes. Most of the time, no. Everyone gets busy and the noisiest thing in front of them on any given day is the thing that gets the most attention.

If you want the job, make more noise.

Make it clear that you want the job, BUT make them want you as much as you want them. Demonstrate over and over and over that you would be a great hire. The key here being to demonstrate it, not just tell them.

4. The headhunters control the market.

Headhunters don’t control anything. They facilitate a process. They get the job of hiring done. If you believe that a headhunter is giving you a bad reference when your name comes up, then call that headhunter and ask the question point blank and be prepared for the answer you are going to get. If it’s an answer you don’t like, ask more questions, and find out what you can do to change that reputation, and fix that headhunter’s impression of you. And then do it, and fix it and check in regularly. People change their minds, you can change a headhunter’s mind, careers are long, people change, don’t take any of it personally.

Think of it this way. If you had a client who had a business problem that being, that consumers believed something untrue about your client’s product, what would you do? You would fix it. That’s your job. Fixing perception. Manage your perception. If it’s not what you want it to be, fix it.

5. Putting your career in a headhunter’s hands.

This is nuts and this is lazy and this is career suicide. I will tell you this again. HEADHUNTERS DO NOT FIND PEOPLE JOBS. It’s convenient to believe it, because it’s easier to believe it. But it’s not true. Don’t let ANYONE be in charge of your career except you. It’s far too important. Use the skills you use every day to market yourself to potential employers at the agencies you want to work at. Get on their radar, get that interview, when you do, make it count.

Of all the points above, I would say that #5, is the most important. And that is the distinction that I notice the most often between people who create the careers they want, and those that coast until they coast into a swamp, or they hit a sandbar, or they run aground with a bad motor, and less energy than the started with, and the sun is quickly setting. (That’s my boating metaphor from the weekend, we hit a sandbar, holy smokes did that scare me.)

But you know what I’m saying. Take control. Get expert help. Stop screwing around. Make it a priority. Do it today. Don’t waste another year.

The best quote I’ve heard in a very long time is this: The problem with you is, you think you have time.

~ heidi