How Embracing Play Can Help You Land Your Next Job

We have entered a new normal. A once in a century pandemic that will alter the course of history and change the way we interact in the world. So, why are we choosing to solve the same problems with old, antiquated solutions?

For example, the job hunt. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. unemployment rate is 6.9%. That does not include all the people that are currently underemployed doing part-time jobs or gig work.

Applying to jobs the standard way just doesn’t work in this new, chaotic environment. If you have been in the workforce for quite some time and haven’t had to look for a job and all of sudden, you are laid off and now have to compete with recent college grads, as well as your peers, that can be really tough.

So, we first must look at this job search process through the lens of play.

How can make this job hunt be more fun? So, let’s break down how we can do this.

Before starting your job search, I recommend looking at your finances and seeing how much time you have to search for a new job, so you can find one that pays you to be you.

My Business Mentor, Stephen Warley, would always say this to me:

“Don’t you want to be paid to be you?”

Yes, more than anything. If you think of most people that we admire in the world. They are getting paid to be themselves (I.e. Thought leaders, performers, inventors, etc.), so shouldn’t that be the goal. So, let’s explore how to get there and recognize it’s going to take some time.

So, let’s start with giving yourself the freedom and time to figure this out.

If you are a recent graduate living with your parents, utilize this time to explore what you really want to do with your life. It’s a huge benefit that you don’t have to pay rent and be pressured to get a job immediately. So, instead of using that time to binge-watch Netflix, play Among Us, and scroll through TikToks all day, explore who you and what you really would love to do. I break down in my #1 suggestion, which you can jump to now.

If you were recently laid off, have a quality severance and/or unemployment that can keep you going for a certain period of time, use this opportunity to explore what job would make you happy.

If you are in a predicament where you need to get a job immediately, relook at your finances and see how much time you can give yourself. Even if it is a month where you take the pressure off of just running to get the next job out of desperation, this will save you so much time and heartache as rarely do we get jobs out of desperation. If you do need a pay check, find a job that gives you the freedom to figure out what you are passionate about in your spare time. The most important step is the following one.

#1. Identify what type of work makes you come alive

I talk about this in my Play Experiment To Remind You Who You Are.

Ask yourself these two questions to 3 to 5 of your friends:

  • What value do I bring to your life?
  • When have you seen me most alive?

The reason why this is so important to find out is you can’t find the job that is the right fit for you if you don’t even know what the “right fit” feels or looks like.

This work that makes you come alive is referred to by Marcus Buckingham as your Red Thread work. Gay Hendricks refers to it as your Zone of Genius or Ikigai.

This is where you should spend most of your time before starting your job search. Even if you just get a glimpse of what type of work gets you excited about life, that can help you tremendously in getting clarity about what type of work you want to do and what type of organization you want to be a part of.

If you want additional ways to explore what drives you and what makes you come alive, try out these three amazing assessments to remind you of who you are:

#2. Stop Trying To Get ANY Job…Focus On Finding A Job & Organization That Is The Right Fit For You

I know so many individuals that are so desperate to get a job, that they are willing to take any job and say anything to get that job. The problem with this approach is that you are in a constant state of stress. You spend all of your time trying to adapt who you are so that someone else will like you enough to offer you a job, that you lose who you are and what you want. That inauthenticity and desperation come off in applications and interviews, and you end up getting rejected anyway being someone that you are not.

Spend more time figuring out what you want, what type of organization/company you want to work for, and what feels right to you.

Learn to listen to your intuition to guide you through this process.

Go into the interview process reminding yourself that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. They need to be the right fit for you.

Someone’s response is “well, I can’t be picky. I just need a job.” Yes, but compromising yourself just to get the position may cause you to take a job that you aren’t a good fit for. Then, you may end up either having to quit, them letting you go, or worse, you stay at a job just to have a job and 5 years pass and you are still there wasting away.

So it is more important for you to do the internal work before you start applying.

This will also save you a ton of time, as you won’t be applying to every organization, but figuring out the ones that fit what you are looking for.

#3. Don’t Just Apply The Standard Way. Show Who You Are Through Your Work.

Simply, submitting your application for a job and waiting to hear back is an antiquated approach from the past. You now have to figure out ways to show people who you are and what work you can do.

A. Do research on the team you will be applying to and find out what problems they are trying to solve and where you can help

How can you do this? Through LinkedIn, you can find out who works for specific departments that you are trying to get a job with. Do research on the individuals in that department and see what they are posting on LinkedIn. You can do similar research on them via Instagram, Twitter, even TikTok. Find out as much information as you can and see what challenges they are going through. Can you help solve these challenges? Awesome. Now figure out a way to communicate this to them through the next method.

B. Based on what job you want, display your work firsthand.

For example, let’s say you are trying to get into the marketing department for a large Fortune 500 Tech company. Come up with a few fully fleshed out marketing campaign ideas that you could pitch and make a video to submit with your application. Create a few TikTok videos of what your marketing approach might look like and ask your friends and followers to repost your video and tag the company on Instagram, Twitter, FB, and other social media platforms to get their attention.

Show them who you are in a creative way.

Need another example? You are a coder. You have done the research on the company and you know what they are struggling with right now. Can you put together something through code that actually helps address their problem? Even if you are just building the framework, having them see that you are trying to solve their problem is impressive. The added benefit is if you don’t get the job, you can still add this to your portfolio.

C. If You Are Going To Do Informational Interviews, Then Do Your Homework On That Person

People love when someone had put in the work to understand who they are. So, you reaching out with a cold email asking for an informational interview is not interesting for them. Frankly, they don’t have time especially in this new normal.

But if you approach it from the standpoint of trying to help them solve a problem or noting that you have been following them for quite some time and fascinated to talk to them about a certain subject they are interested in, that is intriguing.

The LinkedIn Message/Email could go something like this:

Hi Samantha,

I love the work you are currently doing at Space X. I actually watched the launch of Crew-1 just a few days ago. I noticed on your LinkedIn that you are looking for new ways to outreach to students at low-income schools around the country in an effective, engaging way so that kids of any socioeconomic background can also believe they can be astronauts one day. I love this cause and brainstormed a few different solutions that might resonate with you.

(Share In-Depth Solutions with a step by step approach to doing it. If you want to wow them, add a budget to it and how this idea can be rolled out.)

If any of these resonate with you, I’d love to be able to hop on a call to talk about it in more detail. It has been a dream of mine to work in the space industry and I’d love to keep this conversation going.

You send this out to 10 people, altering the email to fit their interests, and you may get 1–2 people that write you back. Don’t be discouraged as that is the standard success rate. If you know that going in, you’ll be able to deal with the rejection as just part of the process.

#4. Become Your Biggest Advocate By Practicing How To Talk About Yourself

Many of us don’t have a lot of practice talking about ourselves. Who we are, what we love to do, and what type of work we want to do in the world. The more we can speak about it into existence and be our biggest fan, the more likely, it’ll actually happen. This is an interesting exercise to come up with the sentence that explains how who you are and what you love to do in the world:

So, find virtual happy hours, networking groups, and/or associations to not only surround yourself with people who are doing the work you want to do in the world, but be able to talk to them about who you are and what impact you want to make in the world. Practice talking about yourself in a positive way. Be your biggest cheerleader, which will only help when you are in an interview and someone asks you “why should we hire you over the hundreds of other applicants we have?” The person who has practiced answering this the most is going to be most successful. If you are able to do this, you’ll be feeling this way about your next interview.

#5. Embrace & Celebrate Failure

You are going to get rejected a lot in your job search and the quicker that you can learn from the failures, and actually celebrate them because you were meant not to get that job because something better is coming down the line, be thankful for that.

Looking back on my career, if I had gotten a job at some of the places that I thought were my dream job, I wouldn’t have actually been able to pursue my real dream of building a business from scratch. It’s the blessings in the silver linings that help you clarify what you really want in this world.

Once you are able to figure out what you want and how you want to show up in this world, everything else becomes much easier.

Positive Psychology Play Speaker & Coach / Find Ways To Rediscover Your Play at

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