One of the most memorable scenes from the film “The Karate Kid” occurred when Daniel has a “light bulb” moment. After begrudgingly doing laborious chores for his karate instructor, he discovers that he had been training all along. In one moment, all the moves he had been learning while painting a fence and waxing a car come to life. As the Sensei – Mr. Miyagi or Mr. Han, depending on whichever movie version you prefer – calls out motions to his sparring partner, Daniel realizes he is well-trained for his next match.
As a talent acquisition manager, I am often asked, “What is the best way to find my next job?” I always answer by examining what the job seeker is doing at this very moment. In other words, the job search and interview is not a stop-start process. It’s an ongoing process and future employers are taking notice, even if the job seeker doesn’t realize it.
This is the power of LinkedIn and social media. For the first time, professionals have a living, breathing resume viewable to every employer, from CEO to intern. The stigma of having a resume posted online no longer exists because LinkedIn has broken down that barrier. Twitter provides a real-time feed of what people are working on in their current role and can indicate how much an employer values that employee. This is where savvy recruiters come in; they are all about finding the next black belt in the crowd.
Having a positive online presence that showcases the skills you’re building is the easy part. The harder part is being mindful of building them by succeeding in each task and interaction with every customer and colleague. Not only does the “unintentional” job seeker build a network of endorsements both online and offline, he creates a story to tell. According to a Gallup survey, 71 percent of workers are either not engaged or not actively engaged in their work. If that is true, only a third of employees are creating a compelling story to help sell them as a candidate for their next job.
Who are these engaged workers? Take Rich Ropp. He started his career cleaning airplanes. It was grueling work with long hours, but it turned out he was training for a future role as National Sales Director for Jet Aviation. “Cleaning eventually led to fueling; fueling led to customer service; customer service led to sales; and sales led me along a path of ever-increasing professional sales roles. I never felt that I was above any role and always looked for new ways to add value,” he said.
Don’t wait until the moment you decide you want a new job to start thinking about the skills you can offer or the story they tell. Execute each component of your role impeccably with the knowledge that any given task might lead to a job you’ve always wanted, whether at your current firm or at the Fortune 500 company you’ve always fantasized working for. Your training begins now, and so does your interview. Wax on, wax off.
Editor’s note: Originally published June 14th on Forbes: You Are Interviewing For Your Next Job—Now
About the Author: Eric B. Smith,Talent Acquisition Manager for Dell, Eric leads a team of world-class recruiting professionals across the US for Dell. In this role, Eric works closely with the business to align workforce plans with recruiting strategy, ensuring Dell hires the best talent. He has a passion for employment branding, social media, and the candidate care experience. Prior to Dell, Eric worked at Amdocs, a global software company. During his time at Amdocs, Eric held a variety of roles including Corporate Recruiter, HR Generalist, and Recruiting Manager. Eric has been published frequently on topics related to recruiting strategy and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri.