Searching for Your Next Job?

A person with a backpack in the mountain look out for a direction
Photo from NEOM

I have been contemplating this subject because a few of my friends and students have sought advice from me. Before I share any “advice,” I always make it clear that I am by no means an expert, so it shouldn’t be blindly followed. Like many others, I have found that finding a job can be daunting, especially when considering other life factors such as visa requirements and family obligations, which often depend on job security. The uncertainty and unpleasant experiences of rejection and being ghosted without any reply or feedback can be incredibly frustrating. I understand this, particularly as an expat living in a different country. Therefore, I hope to share my reflections and provide some comfort and ideas for those on this journey.

This article is incredibly insightful and helped me during my quarter-life crisis when I was about to graduate. Every time I revisit it, it strikes a chord with me. It provides a holistic perspective on life and happiness, placing job search in the broader context. I won’t spoil it for you, but I highly recommend reading it directly from this esteemed author. Professor Clayton Christensen has always been my idol, and his works and talks are phenomenal. You can find more about him by googling or searching on YouTube.

Many years ago, I read an inspiring article on HBR that claimed your capabilities are roughly the average of the six people you spend the most time with. This has proven true for me over the past decade, during which my knowledge and skills grew significantly due to the people around me. I owe much of my personal growth to my mentors, supervisors, and peers during my PhD. Similarly, in my professional career, the colleagues I worked closely with played a pivotal role in shaping my practice and future. I often feel fortunate to have stood on the shoulders of those giants, enabling me to think and act differently. Jonathan Harper also shared with me a similar concept that a workplace can have good or bad years, just like different eras in sports and teams (think of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls team, for example). This resonates with me deeply, and I always seek to be part of a world-class team.

During my job search journeys, I have realised that sometimes it’s not possible to reach your desired destination directly due to market opportunities at that particular moment. It’s similar to not having a direct flight to your dream destination. And that’s okay. I have been inspired by many friends who have shown tenacity and perseverance by crafting their career journeys step by step when there was no direct path available. Indeed, taking transitional flights with multiple stops requires more effort and time than a direct one. However, just like traveling, life becomes enriched by the experiences along the journey rather than solely the final destination.

Why? Because if you don’t give your all, people may assume that’s the best you can offer. This is a lesson I learned the hard way. In many job interviews, employers only have 60 minutes to assess you, and that’s it. It’s akin to being on a blind date. Sometimes, this assessment can be superficial and subjective. My lesson is to always give 120% if you genuinely want the opportunity. Of course, this also means prioritising and continuously improving how you present yourself and your work. But remember to enjoy the process, especially if you’re already there, just like on a blind date.

If some of you are still in university and got a bit more time before job hunting, here is 10 rules of being a student from John Cage (the famous American composer in 20th century. If you don’t know him, check out his work called 4’33). Without paraphrasing it from the giant and diminishing your learning directly, I just want to say it was really useful to guide my practice when I was a student. Hopefully you may find this inspirational too.

Those are five top reflection of mine on this topic. How do you search for job? Any tips and tricks you found useful. Looking forward to learning from you too!

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