Saturday, July 28, 2007

Career Tip - Work for Free

I am a subscriber to Keith Ferrazzi's e-newsletter. Ferrazzi is the author of "Never Eat Alone", a well-written, entertaining, and immensely helpful book in the networking arena...perhaps the best of its class.

In yesterday's e-newsletter, he wrote, "When you are unproven and starting a business or changing careers, working for free is an effective way of breaking in. By being generous and offering your time and expertise gratis, you will gain experience and the connections you're looking to create."

You can read more at his blog, but I wanted to comment on the ingenuity of this tip. It goes against conventional wisdom and it's a bit risky, but it is incredibly smart. What better way to break into the company/industry of your dreams than to offer your services and then outshine all competitors with your outstanding work ethic, your yet-to-be-proven talent, and your winning personality?

Ferrazzi notes that you shouldn't offer to work at a discount because this undervalues your skill. But, working for free is different. It's you giving to the community and taking in knowledge humbly from industry forerunners.

You may argue that this is an impossibility. After all, you have to pay the mortgage.

Realistically, however, the average job hunt takes 6 months. Wouldn't it be better to spend 6 months making connections and actually working in your chosen field than sending out resumes blindly online? Yes and yes. Your chances of landing a job are much higher and, even if you don't walk away with a job, you will walk away with new skills and new friends.

So, if you're in between jobs or a recent college graduate or looking for the job of your dreams, work for free.


Mom of a munchkin said...

Thank you so much for the encouragement on my "life lessons" post! I read your post as well and it was EXACTLY how I've been feeling. Thanks for sharing!

Mom of a munchkin said...

Thanks for your comment on "Suck it to me". I feel the same way...I love how comforted and reasured my daughter is by nursing but I really would like her weaned around her first birthday...mostly because I would just like a little more freedom. I'll keep you posted on how it's going. Good luck to you too!