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149. Hitchhiking — an unexpected way to do job hunting

This story isn’t one of mine. It doesn’t even belong to someone I know, but it’s so great that I wanted to tell it anyway. Suffice to say that the details aren’t super important, but the rationales and insights are.

Hitchhiking can be used for job hunting.

Now, I guess that you’re now thinking one of three things.

  1. Interesting. I’d never thought of that. Tell me more.
  2. Of course! I don’t need to read on. It’s self-evident why.
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The premises: Don’t try this at home if this isn’t you

Premise #1: You need to have job skills that are easy to understand

Ok, premises understood — go on…

Now you need to forget about yourself for a moment, and put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Let’s talk a bit about your ride. Because you obviously don’t want to ride with just anyone. No, you’re hitchhiking tactically, and getting from A to B is the least of your worries.

So who should you try to hitch a ride with?

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  • The car is a nice one. Not necessarily flashy, but definitely not cheap.
  • Someone in a suit scores higher than someone in gym pants.
  • You need to have chemistry the moment the door opens.

The reasons for this are quite simple.

While there are plenty of people in this world with power, money and influence, there’s an overweight of them in the 40-55 segment. Likewise, there are millionaires who drive old Volvos, but there are more who drive Audis and BMWs. The same goes for clothes. Casual clothes don’t mean that you’ve got a rich hobo on your hands, but few people drive alone in a suit (or something similar) unless they’re business professionals dressed for work. Finally, if you are offered a ride by someone where you feel that it’ll be strictly hitchhiking but with no conversation, then pass on the offer.

Enter you, the clean-cut hitchhiker.

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Once you’re in the car, don’t talk about what you do

I know, I know. I’ve said that this is about job hunting, and it is. But it’s also about people, and while you can fake interest in people, it’s a lousy thing to do and a lot of sharp operators will see right through you.

Instead, just talk and have a good time.

You’re in a car with a stranger. You’re going somewhere that makes sense to both of you, and a certain spirit of generosity has already been established. Don’t try to sell the poor (wo)man the vacuum cleaner right away!

“So, what do you do?”

And this is where things get interesting. Because the worst thing you can do now is to try to sell yourself. Don’t. Just tell what you do as if you were at a party and someone asked you while waiting in line for the toilets. It shouldn’t be a long and detailed answer. It should just be enough to make the other person want to know more.

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And THAT is when you talk about what you do

If you’ve served it right, the response should be a slightly raised eyebrow and a “That’s interesting. How does THAT work?” or “That sounds interesting.”

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Rome wasn’t built in one day, though

Chances of you landing a job by hitchhiking once are low.

But do it ten times? Twenty? Fifty?

I’ve talked with plenty of people who have been job hunting for months (or even years) with little success. At least this way, even if it doesn’t lead to a job, you get to have new experiences and meet (probably interesting) people. Searching through job index websites and writing unanswered applications is a lot less fun, I’d wager.

“Yes, because in fact, that’s also MY son…”

General hilarity ensues, as the people in the conversation discover that Eric Jul’s (step)son is Anders Raasted’s (biological) son. But the reason they found out about the parental circumstances was because the guy was relating a story about larpers who had hitched a ride with him. Sure, it was through a friend and not on-the-road-thumbs-up-hitchhiking, but that’s just details.

Director at The College of Extraordinary Experiences, Coach at McKinsey & Founding Partner at The Global Institute For Thought Leadership. Author of 31 books.

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