Tag Archives: Job Search

“Born For This” Book Review

BornForThisbook

Do you ever feel unsure about what you’re  doing with your life? Wake up in the morning and think, “Am I really doing what I’m supposed to be doing?”

Whether it’s where you live, your choice of partner, or your career path, there are many things that can cause a sense of dissatisfaction or restlessness. We all feel these things from time to time—but what we choose to do with these thoughts is what sets us apart.

Some people are dissatisfied, but feel stuck, so they don’t change anything.

Others choose to do something about their discontentment, and they look for ways to change the things that are making them unhappy.

Chris Guillebeau is definitely a man of action. He set a goal to visit every country in the world before he turned 35—and he achieved it! He gathers thousands of people every year in Portland for the not as scary as it sounds World Domination Summit. And he regularly seeks out people who are doing inspiring things and shares their stories through his writing (his other books include The Happiness of Pursuit and The $100 Startup).

Born For This is Chris’s newest book, and it’s all about helping readers find the work they were meant to do.

This topic is especially interesting to me since I spent over two years writing about jobs and career paths when I worked at AfterCollege and oversaw the AfterCollege Blog.

If you see someone who loves their work, it’s easy to think that they were just lucky, or as Chris puts it, they “won the career lottery.” And it’s true that some people have an innate sense of their calling and everything just seems to fall into place for them. But that’s only a small percentage of people.

The larger percentage of people have to experiment, trying different jobs and industries before they find something that’s a good fit.

In the past decade or so, there’s also been a shift in the types of jobs that are available. There are now so many more options for people who want to start their own business or freelance.

In Born For This, Chris offers anecdotes and advice for every type of employment, whether it’s a side hustle, firefighting, or DIY rock star. I love the stories and quotes from real people that appear throughout the book. These are further proof that there’s no single way of finding your career path—you can step in gradually by trying out small projects or jump in head first.

The book also features a few suggestions for activities and exercises you can try to help find the answers to some of these big questions if you don’t already know what you should be doing. I took the short quiz online and found the results to be surprisingly accurate and enlightening!

Chris’s writing style is clear and engaging, so Born For This is an easy and enjoyable read.

I think that ultimately, experience is the best way of assessing whether you’d be suited for a particular career, and reading a book won’t give you the same insight that an internship, informational interview, or job shadowing session would. But if you’re at the stage where you don’t even know where to start (or you just want to hear some entertaining and inspiring stories about other people’s quests for career happiness), Born For This is the book for you.

Editorial Calendar Basics for Lazy People, Part 1

What time is it

We’ve all been there: Staring in front of an empty screen, trying to figure out what we want to say. Some may call it “writer’s block,” some may call it “Writer’s Evasion,” like Ann Handley who explains in this hilarious interview on Copyblogger, “I believe in Writer’s Difficulty and Writer’s Procrastination and Writer’s I Wonder If There’s Any Donuts Left I Should Go Check.”

I currently oversee two blogs at work, where we publish seven posts a week. If left to my own devices, I would probably spend at least 70% of my time freaking out about not having enough content.

But there’s a funny thing about that. If you spend approximately 42 minutes out of every hour fretting about how much content you have, that leaves you with very little time to actually create the content.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to get over this conundrum is to have a plan. In my case, I refer to it as the “Editorial Calendar,” though I suppose you could refer to it as “The Plan of Awesomeness” or the “Anti-Procrastination Toolkit” or whatever else gets you fired up.

This is how it works: I started by coming up with a list of all the possible ways I could write about my topic. (This was not an exhaustive list, since I would still be in the list-making stage if that were the case!) Rather than come up with specific topics, I thought more about broader categories.

It can be tempting to get caught up thinking about very specific posts you’d like to write, and there’s nothing wrong with making a list of those as well. But in the early stages, it helps to think in these broad categories.

To give you some concrete examples, when I was starting the AfterCollege Blog, I thought of all the types of posts that would be helpful to student and recent grad job-seekers, and came up with things like the “Résumé Teardown,” which is where a hiring manager critiques a real job-seeker’s résumé, or the “A Day on the Job,” where we interview someone about what they do on a daily basis at work.

These types of posts serve as templates that we can use again and and again but with different topics. So for example, we have résumé teardowns for sales, front-end development, PR positions, etc.  And we do the same with “A Day on the Job,” “The Hiring Manager’s Perspective,” and many of our other categories.

In my next post, I’ll talk about organizing and maintaining your Editorial Calendar/Plan of Awesomeness/Anti-Procrastination Toolkit.

Until then, happy writing!

How I Landed a Content Marketing Job (Without Knowing What it Meant)

Back when I was getting ready to go to college, finding a job was admittedly not a huge thought weighing on my mind.

But at some point I did sit down with my dad and ask for his opinion about whether it made sense to go to the small liberal arts college I had my mind set on, or whether I should attempt to do something more “marketable” (though I’m sure at that stage I had no idea what that word even meant).

In his infinite wisdom, my dad said, “Melissa, most of the jobs that will exist when you graduate haven’t even been invented yet. So forget about training for a specific job.”

Now, my first real job after college was teaching English in Japan, which was not exactly a new profession, but flash forward a few more years, and, like always, my father was right.

My current job title is “Content Marketing Manager,” which I get a big kick out of, since when I started I had never even heard of content marketing before.

So what exactly is content marketing? And how did I get a job doing something I didn’t know anything about?

Let’s start with the definition: The basic idea of content marketing is that you create blog posts, infographics, videos, and other types of “content” to help educate potential customers. You share information with them freely to establish yourself (or the organization you represent) as an authority figure, educate them about the problem they’re experiencing, and present your goods or services as a possible solution.

And how did I manage to get a job in this field I’d never even heard of?

Well, it just so happens that I actually already knew a lot about creating content from my years working as a writer and editor.

It turns out that all those blog posts, articles, podcasts, and other things I’d been doing in my previous jobs were examples of “content.” And the journalistic training I’d received in interviewing, fact-checking, and proofreading helped to ensure that the content I created lived up to a certain standard.

I was also really lucky that the person who created my position and hired me (Teresa Torres) already understood that, so even though the job title was “Content Marketing Specialist,” she spelled out very clearly that it was a full-time writing position and used writing samples as the main way she evaluated candidates.

This is not to say that I already knew everything about content marketing—far from it! There’s always more to learn about analytics, headline writing, SEO, social media, and tons of other related topics. And I’m grateful to companies like Copyblogger for leading the way—not only do they write about content marketing in an educational and entertaining manner, but their entire business is built on content marketing, so they provide an excellent example to aspire to.

There are a few takeaways from this post:

  • Don’t assume that you’re not suitable for a job just because you’ve never heard of it!
  • If you’re the one hiring someone, be open-minded about the hiring process. Think about which skills the person will already need to possess, and which ones they can learn on the job.
  • Father (or at least my father) really does know best.

Thanks for reading! Have you been hired for a job you’d never heard of? Want to talk to me about content marketing? Feel free to reach out!

I originally published this post on LinkedIn. You can find it here: “How I landed a content marketing job (without knowing what it meant).”