Finding yourself

Create something of value to the world

To hear Joy read this post in English, click here.

From The New Yorker magazine

Readers often ask me questions like:

  • How do I show that I’m more than what’s shown my resume?
  • How can I set myself apart from the hundreds of other candidates applying to the same jobs as me?
  • How can I overcome cultural barriers and show Westerners my full talents?
  • What if I’m too good for the menial, mindless entry-level jobs available to people at my level?

If you’ve ever wondered any of those things, then I have good news for you. There is one thing you can do starting today to address all these issues. You tell the world how great you are by showing them.

Create something of value to the world

In my last blog post, I showed you how to find your voice by creating something. Well, some creative projects should be made public and some should not.  I see blogs filled with long-winded catalogues of personal gripes, and wonder if those bloggers ever wonder why they never get a job interview or a date. Look no further than the cautionary tale, sad but true, of the American girl who committed career suicide using nothing more than a webcam, a pushup bra, and two minutes fifty-two seconds of too much free time.

Nobody – no employer, no man – enjoys being around such heaps of negativity.

To find your voice, create something. To find meaning in your life, do good for others. We’re all busy.  So, consolidate your efforts, and create something of value to the world.  And shock them with how special, how luminous is your contribution.  Because it’s a reflection of you.

When you create something of value, immediately you transform yourself from someone who needs something (a job, a promotion, new opportunities), into someone with something to offer (expertise, help, wisdom).

Center your personal brand around your creative works of value

I’ve written before about how, in life, hard work alone will get you nowhere, and that to get anywhere, you need a combination of Performance-Image-Exposure (PIE).

Center your image and exposure around how unique and special YOU are. Do this by using your creative work as a base from which to promote yourself. Comment on top industry blogs, join online forums, always identifying yourself with a link to your project. Put a link to it in your email signature. At every job interview, talk about your project.

Your creative work is the perfect talking point for you to the world

When I was a politician, each day I had “talking points,” that my team and I developed for what I should talk about.  Wherever I went, if I had a press conference, or a one-on-one interview, or other public event, my talking points were what I tried to focus on. If a journalist tried to uncover (or create!) a scandal, or asked about my love life, I’d go to battle to ease the conversation back to my talking points.

Make your creative project your talking point to the world:

  • If want to make a career transition, a creative project is the best way to get in the door. Recruiters will be impressed at your initiative and savvy, which sets you apart from 99% of candidates who do nothing more creative than email their resume around the Internet.
  • If you’re at a dinner party and conversation turns to whether you’re married and why not (how dull!), smoothly shift the conversation over to the work that excites you. Your conversation partner will be pleasantly surprised at what an interesting and independent woman you are.
  • If you want to find the man of your dreams, your creative project is the best possible siren song.

Don’t know what to create? Start a blog.

One American student from a middling law school turned himself into the nation’s most in-demand law student by starting a blog analyzing the high-profile divorce of the couple owning the Los Angeles Dodgers and then became the go-to expert for ESPN and cable news. He skipped a lot of classes and didn’t have time to do much homework, but all that became irrelevant when he found a way to show off his talents by creating something valuable.

Closer to home, check out the beautiful website and blog of Global Rencai designer Yingying Zhang, here. I asked Yingying to share with us her thinking behind the site. She said:

The reason I built my website is to:

1. Show people my skills in website design and development, UI/UX (user interface/user experience)

2. Write down my ideas and thoughts regarding UX (the area that interests me most)

3. Practice my English writing skills.

I originally set up my current website to find a job.  After seeing so many job postings and applying to so many jobs, I made the serious decision to build a formal and professional-looking website for myself.

This world needs more culture-makers.  The best way for you to shock the world with the greatness of YOU is to contribute something new and wonderful.

Now that I got my dream position, I think my target visitors should shift from recruiters to UI/UX community. I will focus more on the blog part of my website, and write some ideas regarding UX.  I believe that with these thoughts, I can gradually improve myself as well as help others to get great UX ideas.

And that’s how Yingying leapfrogged ahead of the thousands of other young people graduating from engineering school to launch herself on the career of her dreams.  Smart woman!

Your turn

By creating something new and fresh and unique and of value in this world, you’ll:

This world needs more culture-makers.  The best way for you to shock the world with the greatness of YOU is to contribute something new and wonderful.

 

NOTES:

 

Comments welcome, in Chinese, on the Chinese version of this post, here.
To hear Joy read this post in English, subscribe to the GlobalRencai podcast on iTunes, or hear or download the MP3 here.