I spoke to college students who are interested in HR about my career this week. When I asked what to talk about, the organizer just said, “well, what’s your story?”
I sat down a few hours before the session to write down highlights and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. As I tried to distill a theme, I thought, “this was all an accident.”
Hey, at least I have my book title now.
I know I’ve shared bits and pieces of my story in this letter, but I don’t talk about how it transformed me into the person you know today. So here we are.
If you know someone looking for a job or in school right now,
you might want to forward this. There are a few lessons here that anyone can use, whether they’re looking for their first job or have 10+ years of experience.
If you look at my resume, you’d probably be a little confused. I grew up in a military family and moved 13 times before I graduated high school. I don’t say that so you feel bad for me. I say that because moving that many times and military parents meant I had zero connections. I found my first job on a job board.
It was by all definitions a lousy job. I had a few offers and ultimately picked this one because it was the closest to being a teacher and a marketer at the same time. Funny how it all turns out, right?
Here I learned the first lesson in my career: be extra kind and always pay it forward. You never know who can change your life.
A parent of a little girl that I taught to read started an HR Tech company. He offered me a job on the spot during a sales meeting, introducing me to an industry I ultimately fell in love with. When the company dissolved during the dot com bubble, I didn’t know what to do. I thought this was my forever career.
I made a forever career out of HR Tech, or so I thought. I worked my way up to a chief marketing officer role. It all made sense on paper. I was climbing the ladder. I thought that was why you went to work - to become the boss.
I figured out pretty quickly that I had 0 interest in just being a boss. I like to do work. Lesson #2 came after I quit that CMO job. That lesson? Success isn’t following the prescribed path. Success is defining your dreams and writing a plan that makes you proud of your life.
That’s why my next gig wasn’t a CMO job in the same tech bubble. I left marketing behind to be a managing editor of a blog. I joke that I earned a Ph.D. in the reality of recruiting and HR by studying, researching, and truly learning philosophies before taking on the tactics.
My next job title surprises people even more. How many people do you know that go from CMO to copywriter to CEO? Now you know 1.
I took the copywriting job because I spent almost five years studying how HR and recruiting work. I wanted to write it. After writing the recruiting voice for some of the world’s biggest brands, I had a light bulb moment.
I never met a writer on a recruiting team, yet everyone needed writing support because they either didn’t have the energy, time, or skills to write something well. That’s why I started Three Ears Media, a company of writers who specialize in recruiting.
As hiring teams, we deal with one of the most unpredictable variables in the world - humans. The one thing we can control? How we write to explain our culture and jobs - whether that shows up on job postings, career sites, or automated candidate emails.
We can change someone’s entire life with a sentence. Why wouldn’t we?
I’m sharing my job search story with you this week to remind you there’s no prescription for success. Your path is meant for you. What’s right for you will happen in due time. The only golden rule? Treat others as you wish to be treated.
That’s what the Job Seeker Bill of Rights blog is all about - how we would create candidate experiences if we were genuinely applying that golden rule. Add your suggestions in the comments. More links to interviews and ideas from my week’s conversations are below, too.
Stay healthy and please vote -