A Great Job Search Begins with You Knowing Yourself, with Mark Allred

Listen On:

You’re ready to find your dream job, so you’re sending out hundreds of applications every week. But is that the best strategy? Find Your Dream Job guest Mark Allred says no, it’s not. Mark’s advice is to take some time to get clarity on what you have to offer, what your dream job would look like, and which companies can offer you the work environment that meets your top priorities. Once you know the value you can offer the employer and what you need from them, you can go into any interview with more confidence. 

About Our Guest:

Mark Allred is the director of talent development and growth for the recruiting firm  Reveal Global Intelligence. Mark also hosts the  Career PROgressions Podcast

Resources in This Episode:

  • Career coaching can be the difference between finding an acceptable job and your dream job. Learn more about how career coaching can help you by visiting Reveal Global Intelligence.
  • Find out how to build a successful career by hearing from others who have done it on Mark’s podcast, Career PROgressions Podcast.
  • From our Sponsor: Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster. Get a free review of your resume today from one of TopResume’s expert writers. 


Find Your Dream Job, Episode 399:

A Great Job Search Begins with You Knowing Yourself, with Mark Allred

Airdate: May 17, 2023

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.

Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume. TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster.

Get a free review of your resume today.

Go to macslist.org/topresume.

You might believe the best way to start a job search is to apply everywhere.

And do it every day.

Think again, says today’s guest.

Your first step should be to ask yourself what you want and what you offer.

Mark Allred is here to talk about how a great job search begins with you knowing yourself.

He’s the director of talent development and growth for the recruiting firm Reveal Global Intelligence.

Mark also hosts the Career PROgressions Podcast.

And he joins us from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Well, let’s jump right into it, Mark. Why shouldn’t you send out applications on your first day of your job search? Why isn’t that a good idea?

Mark Allred:

You know, it’s a funny thing, Mac. I work with a lot of people, and that’s what most people do. I’d say eighty-five percent of folks start jumping on job boards and getting things rolling. But here’s the thing, you’ve got to understand who you are first. You’ve got to understand what role you want if you want your career proactively moving in the right direction.

So, here’s the thing, you can learn a lot about how self-aware someone is by how they answer this simple question, what do you do? When I work with folks, that’s what I generally will lead with. What do you do? And what I find more often than not, people are either giving me their title or they just don’t know how to describe it.

Mac Prichard:

I want to dig into more about why you need to know yourself and how that’s gonna help you, Mark. But, let’s, before we do that, I know there are a lot of listeners out there who think, but, Mark, it’s a numbers game.

I’ll improve my odds of getting a job sooner if I start on day one and I send out a certain number of applications every day, and some people track it, and they think, well, it’s like direct mail; if I send out a hundred applications and I get one job, that’s a good rate of return. Tell us more about why that’s not a good idea.

Mark Allred:

Well, it’s funny, and no question numbers are gonna play into this. But you need to put yourself into position for those numbers to be working for you because the last thing you want to do is end up in the wrong place. There’s an old adage that so many people have spent so much of their lives climbing the ladder of success, but once they get to the top, realize they’ve put that ladder on the wrong wall. They don’t end up where they want to be.

So these numbers, if you’re just going into it without any awareness about what you want to accomplish, how you want to grow your career, where you want to end up, you may end up in a job. But you may end up in a job that you’re not gonna be in more than a few months, and that’s problematic, and that’s what’s happening with a lot of job seekers. That’s what reacting to your career tends to be about. You wait for things like a layoff or, I just don’t like this job, to point you in the direction of moving into new work.

So, whether you’re in a job that you’re not happy with and you’re wanting to start a job search, or you’ve experienced an unfortunate life quake, and now you’re forced to be looking into new work, it’s always good to take a beat and start with understanding who you are, and what you want to do. It’s not only gonna help you look for the right jobs and apply to the right jobs, but once you get into those interviews, you’re gonna be more keenly aware of the way to answer questions that are gonna be more relevant to how the hiring managers are gonna want to understand you, and we can talk more about that.

Mac Prichard:

I do want to talk more about that. When you get into that interview room, though, if you don’t know what you want, what kind of impression do you make on an employer?

Mark Allred:

Oh, you make a horrible one. And I know sometimes job seekers get into this mindset that, hey, I’m capable of a lot of things. I want to cast a wide net. But when you get it too wide, then who you are gets diluted, and a recruiter or a hiring manager finds it harder to understand who you are.

Here’s a harsh reality; I’m not interested in your previous title. I was a hiring manager for many years. I’m not interested in your previous title. I’m interested in what you do or what you’ve done. And how good are you at it?

Let me give you an example. I mean, just because you have a hammer and you say that you’re a carpenter, that doesn’t mean you’re a good one. And you could visualize that, I think, and if my neighbor’s three-year-old son comes over to my house and tells me he’s a carpenter, I can promise you I’m not letting him get anywhere near my house with a hammer. I want to understand your skill set. I want to understand how you do things. But here’s the thing, I can’t, as a hiring manager, understand that until you have full clarity on it. So, that’s why I encourage folks to start their job search with that clarity.

Mac Prichard:

Well, let’s talk about how to get that clarity, Mark. How do you recommend a job seeker who is just starting their search understand who they are? What’s a good first step?

Mark Allred:

So here’s the thing; you begin with awareness, right? So you face that life quake, you’re now looking for work, and you take some time to really get awareness about who you are, and there are three critical areas that you really need to focus on, and here they are. The first one is, how do you bring value? What are your gifts and skills? And we can break that down a little bit more but let me get through the three there. It’s how you bring value.

The next one is, well, what are your priorities? And remember, we’re complete human beings.
It’s not just about the professional we are at work. We have whole lives, and it’s important for us to understand, not just in our role as whatever role we play, our priorities there. But what are our priorities across our lives as a whole? So that you can be looking for those jobs that align well with that. So, that’s number two.

Number three, you need to get real clear awareness about how you are motivated about working. Now, at Reveal, we refer to that motivation as career drivers. So, career drivers are the things that tend to motivate professionals about what they do. Our CEO has been in recruiting for over thirty years, and over that time period, he’s really learned that there are really five areas that tend to motivate people about their work, and the order of those five is different for different folks. So, as a career coach, and even when I’m helping recruit, I’m always talking to folks about, tell me what your career drivers are. And how do you rank them?

Mac Prichard:

What I’d love to do before the break, Mark, is have you walk us through those first two or, at least, the first one, the importance of knowing your value. How do you do that? And then, we can, in the second segment, talk about priorities and then the five career drivers.

So, let’s start with value. What’s the first step?

Mark Allred:

With value, this is where you really need to understand what are the skills you bring to the table. If you’re a sales manager, and that’s what you do, well, what makes you a good sales manager? And there are gonna be hard skills, and there are gonna be soft skills that are a part of that. But when you look at the breakdown of what you’ve done in your career that has made you a valuable asset as an employee, what does that come down to? And it’s taking some real time to think through that.

These are not only the things that you want to be able to talk about in an interview, but these are the things that need to show up on your resume and show up on your LinkedIn. These are the gifts that you were given when you were born, but they’re also the skills that you’ve learned as you’ve grown. So, taking some time to really take an inventory of those things and be really clear about what those are makes all the difference.

Mac Prichard:

Talk about that difference, Mark. What difference does it make when you know your value, especially when you’re planning your job search?

Mark Allred:

Yeah, so if I’m a sales professional and I understand networking is a big deal for me, and I can articulate clearly how I go about organizing how I network with folks and how I get in front of the right people; when I’m talking to a hiring manager, it’s really going to help me to be able to clarify that kind of skill that I could bring to the role. I should be ready at any given time to be able to tell- whether it’s somebody I’m networking with or it’s a hiring manager- I should be able to tell them these are the key things that I’m gonna bring to the table that are gonna make a difference in your business.

So, if you haven’t had time, and I talk to a lot of folks that don’t take the time to really dig into that, then you find yourself in an interview kind of making it up as you go along. You’re trying to answer the questions without really having a deep thought of how all of this stuff ties together.

Mac Prichard:

Well, terrific. We’re gonna take a break, Mark, and when we come back, I want to talk more about your priorities and then get into those five career drivers, and what they are, and how to rank them.

So, stay with us. When we return, Mark Allred will continue to share his advice on how a great job search begins with you knowing yourself.

Understanding yourself well helps you write a great resume, too.

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Mark Allred.

He’s the director of talent development and growth for the recruiting firm Reveal Global Intelligence.

He also hosts the Career PROgressions Podcast.

And Mark joins us from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Well, Mark, before the break, we were talking about how a great job search begins with you knowing yourself, and you talked about the importance of knowing your value, as well as, a second point you brought up was setting priorities, and there are also five career drivers that you recommend candidates consider when planning their job search. I want to go through both priorities and those career drivers.

Let’s start with priorities. Why is it important to have priorities set when you’re starting a job search?

Mark Allred:

You know, there are so many kinds of jobs out there. There’s so many different ways of working. I mean, and, of course, nowadays the popular thing is remote work and things like that, and we all lead different lives, which is always interesting to see, and when I meet new people and see just how differently sometimes we’re living our lives, and how your life aligns with the work you have impacts so much. It may impact the future of your career in very significant ways because your life priorities may come to odds with your work priorities very often. So, when you can gain a greater awareness of what your priorities are holistically and understand how you see life through your priorities at work and at home, it makes a big difference.

One of the things we do with a lot of the folks we work with is we do a priorities exercise. I give them a list of about fifty-some-odd priorities and challenge them to slowly reduce that list down to seven. And it’s a challenging exercise because there’s a lot of things you leave along the way, but ultimately, the goal is to get down to the important things that you want to keep as priorities in your life, and a lot of times, there are things like family and things like that. But then the challenge becomes on a weekly basis- setting aside some intentional time in the beginning of the week is always good- to ask this simple question: how can I keep this priority a priority in my life this week? And you go through that question for all of your seven, and you plan your week accordingly.

So, that not only helps you stay more balanced as a person but when you’re in a job hunt, and you’re aware of your priorities, it’s gonna help you ask the right questions in an interview to make sure that the roles that you’re going after are going to align with the kind of things you want to do in life. But let me talk specifically about just some of the work priorities, too, because you want to make sure you end up in roles that are gonna line up well from a priority standpoint there.

So, many years ago, Tony Robbins came up with an exercise called “more of, less of,” and more of, less of, gives you an opportunity throughout the day to examine as you’re going through a typical workday of your life, what are the things that you’re doing that you want to do more of? And then, what are the things that you do, or you’re doing, that you want to do less of? And it helps you become more keenly aware of the kind of environments you want to work in and the kinds of things you want to do in work. So all of those things will help you kind of get a stronger focus on your priorities, so when you’re interviewing, and you’re learning more about roles, and you’re putting yourself into the process of interviewing, you’re going to be more keenly aware.

Mac Prichard:

What’s your best advice for taking that list of maybe forty, or fifty, or thirty priorities and cutting them down to seven? That’s hard, Mark. How do you see people do that successfully?

Mark Allred:

Well, you know, and you take it at your own pace, and for some folks, you get down to the seven that you have there, but then you can take that list and maybe morph some that you really hated, that you need to leave behind, and morph those together. But, let’s just be realistic about this, you can’t juggle fifty priorities. You just can’t. You owe it to yourself to set aside, and maybe it’s difficult, time to really pare that down and to get it down to a manageable amount that you can feel good about in your day-to-day life.

And, I guess, the best advice with that is, commit to the process. I have some folks we give that to who really get it done in ten minutes. I had one guy tell me it was over an hour. I mean, he just labored with it. But, the value of what he got from taking that time has had an impact on him ever since.

Mac Prichard:

We have about five minutes left. Let’s go through those five career drivers. Why don’t you take us through the list, one through five? And then, let’s talk about each driver and how it can help you have a great job search, particularly when you’re starting your search.

Mark Allred:

So here’s your five. So number one is leadership and management. Some folks are motivated by who they’re working for, and that may be because they’ve had horrible leaders in the past and they never want to do that again, or they just want to be around people that inspire them. So, that’s one of the career drivers.

Number two, let’s go ahead and get compensation out of the way. Compensation and benefits, it’s important. It’s gonna drive folks. Some people are very money motivated. So, that would be number two.

Number three is the meaning of the work. Some folks want to be able to go to work every day and experience some kind of meaning, whatever that is to them. But that’s an important thing for them. They want that to be a part of their job.

Number four is the environment, and this is a pretty big category. It encompasses a lot of things. But one thing that’s been very popular these days has been remote work. I want the ability to do that. So that might be an environmental factor, but it may also be your co-workers, it may be your commute, it may be where you want to work, large company, small company.

And then, finally, it’s personal and professional development. Some companies are a lot better at doing that than others. Some will lay out a clear development plan that leads to promotions and things, and others just kind of let you fly by the seat of your pants. So you need to understand with the companies you’re interviewing how much importance they place on that.

So, I always ask my folks to really take some time with those five and prioritize them. What’s your number one? If you could only get one in a company that you would be working for next, what would you want it to be? And then, if you could only get two, only get three? You see how that goes. And by knowing that, boy, it makes you much better positioned to ask great questions in interviews and do your research differently so that you find that company that lines up well.

Mac Prichard:

We started our interview with a conversation about the people, and I did this too, Mark, who send out X number of applications beginning on day one. When you go through this process of knowing your value, assessing your priorities, and then you rank these five career drivers, what do you do differently in your job search from day one?

Mark Allred:

The first thing is you’re just more intentional. You put more of the better options in front of you, and I want to be realistic really quickly. For some listeners out there, some of you, your runway’s just not long. I mean, you need to get back into making a living soon. So, you may have to be more aggressive about looking at things that aren’t necessarily that perfect fit. But the danger is, if you just continue to end up in the place that’s not gonna fit.

So, particularly, the longer your runway gets, the deeper you need to commit to this, and truly, even if it’s a short runway, you owe it to yourself to get more awareness, so that you just improve the companies you’re putting in front of you. The applications that you’re sending just, they’re to better places that will be better fits and, more likely, align better with who you are, and hiring managers recognize that.

Mac Prichard:

And what kind of response have you seen your clients get when they are clear about their value, their priorities, and their career drivers when they send out those applications? What happens then versus someone who is just following the spray and pray approach?

Mark Allred:

The biggest thing, I would say, is confidence. It changes the confidence about how they go in the interviews and everything about their job search, and they need that. Because here’s the thing with every job search, it tends to, when you get thrown into this life quake and your life is now changed because you know you’ve got to do something else because a career change is imminent, you’re faced with that question, now what? And it can fill you with fear, and it can really do a number on your confidence.

But I want you to try to visualize this. It’ll be a little tough to do on a podcast, but if we take this idea of knowing yourself, and let’s just represent it with the letter k. So, knowing yourself is the letter k. I want you to get a visualization of the words now what, in your head. So, if you’re looking at the words, now what, and then we bring this knowing yourself into it. So we take that k, and we put it in the very front of the word now. How does that change now what, when you put a k in front of now? It changes it to know what.

So, you very simply all of a sudden going from this mentality, oh my gosh, now what do I do, to know what you need to do. Because you understand yourself, you understand what you want, and you’re beginning to understand what companies align with that. So, that’s my job, and I think any career counselor, expert, whatever, is to bring folks from this now mentality to knowing what they need to do.

Mac Prichard:

Well, it’s been a terrific conversation, Mark. Now, tell us, what’s next for you?

Mark Allred:

We’re working a lot right now with the younger generation, Gen Z, making the transition from college, and so we’ve got a real passion for helping them to get there. A lot of them are struggling to go from that learning environment into the work environment, and they’ve got a lot of things they need to develop, LinkedIn, resume, networking, which is a challenge for them.

So, we’ve built a great program called the Career Pro Pathway. So, our Career Pro Pathway is laid out to help folks coming out of college make that transition, and it’s like a seven-session coaching session with some video content that they can do in between. It just really helps them make that transition smoothly.

Mac Prichard:

Well, I know listeners can learn more about that program and your company’s other services by visiting your website, revealtalent.com, and I know you also invite listeners to connect with you on LinkedIn, and if they reach out to you there, I hope they’ll mention they heard you on Find Your Dream Job.

Now, Mark, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about how a great job search begins with you knowing yourself?

Mark Allred:

Know yourself, but be proactive, be intentional, and always keep moving forward.

Mac Prichard:

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Next week, our guest will be Kisha Hicks.

She’s a career coach who helps HR professionals shift mindsets, move up in careers and increase earnings exponentially.

Kisha also hosts the Morning Mindset podcast.

You walk into an interview room. You want to show that you’re the right person for the job.

How do you do this?

Join us next Wednesday when Kisha Hicks and I talk about the power of knowing your audience in a job interview.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List.

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer is Matt Fiorillo. Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.