What’s the Secret to Landing a New Job?

Published in CareersConnect, February 2012

By Matt LeBlanc

Have you ever been to Cairo? Georgia, not Egypt. Chances are, probably not. Could you show me where it is on a map? Chances are, you probably couldn't. Can you tell me anything about it without using Google? Chances are, you probably couldn't.

So how can a town you have never been to, never heard of, and know nothing about impact your job search? You'd be surprised.

Cairo (pronounced "care-oh," like the syrup, not Cairo, Egypt), known as "Syrup City," is a small town (population: 9,000) in south Georgia that is 30 miles north of Tallahassee, Florida. For being such a small town, it has produced its fair share of people who have helped shape the world, including baseball player Jackie Robinson, Olympic Gold Medalist Teresa Edwards, country music singer Daryle Singletary, and the lead singer of Jefferson Starship, Mickey Thomas. Most importantly, however, it is the home town of Christina, my much better half.

Yet the question still remains—how can a small town in the middle of nowhere affect your job-search?

They Have Created an Identity and Brand for Themselves That Makes People Want to Know More
If you look at any list of the best high school mascots put out by Sports Illustrated, ESPN, or anyone else, you will find the Cairo "Syrupmakers" (yes, you read that right) always ranked high on the list. They could have gone with the wildcats, rebels, predators, bears, tigers, lions, or any other popular name out there, yet they chose someone who makes syrup as their namesake and a pitcher pouring syrup as the mascot of their high school athletic teams.

My wife has a Syrupmaker pullover, and without fail it is a conversation magnet every time she puts it on. People want to know what a "syrupmaker" is, what it means, where it's from, and everything else about it. If by chance they know the meaning behind it they beam with pride like they are part of a special club that has exclusive membership.

The take away—What is the brand you have created for yourself? Are you a lion, rebel, or bear just like everyone else, or are you a Syrupmaker? Do people remember you and want to discuss you and what you are about?

They Take Pride in Themselves and Their Product
If there is one thing that residents of Cairo all have in common, it is being proud of their Syrupmakers. If you drive around town you will see signs everywhere that say "Go 'Makers" or "Syrupmaker Pride." On Friday nights during high school football season, the town nearly shuts down to watch the 'Makers play. In fact, this football season they played a state playoff game near Atlanta (nearly three hours away) and had more fans in attendance than the home team.

The take away—You have to take pride in your craft (both your function and your search) and be your biggest cheerleader, because no one else will be. If you are not excited about what you do and your quest to find a new opportunity, why should anyone else be?

They Have Created a Community
In Cairo (and in small towns everywhere), people know one another, generally care for each other's wellbeing, and help each other out, because it's the way they do things and their way of life.

The takeaway—From a job-search perspective, if you do not build a community that you can call on for networking purposes, support, and help, you are going to find yourself in bad shape very quickly.

So does Cairo hold the secret to you landing your next opportunity? Maybe; maybe not—but it sure does have the roadmap for laying a good foundation.

Until next time—good hunting and good luck!

About the Author

Matt LeBlanc is a human resources professional based in Nashville, Tennessee, with expertise in full life cycle technical recruitment, sourcing, research, training, and workforce and career development. He writes about job search/career-related issues on "Recruiters Guide to the Universe" and recruiting/sourcing-related issues on "12recruiters." You can connect with Matt on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/mattleblanc and Twitter at www.twitter.com/matthewjleblanc. 

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