3 Job Hunting Tips Learned From Searching For Catlanta
One weekend, probably back in 2010, I went to visit a friend in Atlanta. She and I were both huge fans of the then-anonymous folk artist, Catlanta, who designs and drops little cat paintings and magnets around Atlanta, tweeting about them when he does so, inspiring his fans to go on frantic scavenger hunts for adorable, themed, painted cats. We showed-up at the record and comic book store where he was doing the drop this time and it was hosting “Free Comic Day,” so the crowd was intense. And in that time waiting for the alert that the “kittens” had been “set loose,” searching for the art pieces, and talking to other Catlanta fans there, I learned some interesting lessons that apply to your job hunt, as well!
Look everywhere! Sometimes jobs, or leadership opportunities, or speaking engagements, like Catlanta’s cats, are hiding in plain sight. We searched every nook and cranny that we could, and you should do the same searching for the thing you crave – look even where you think, “Well, it probably isn’t there – I won’t bother.” What if it is? What if the perfect job is just one more job board, mouse click, or networking event away? Keep trying. If you really want it, show it with your vigilance.
Get help from friends. I got my friend Katie onboard with helping me search, and two sets of eyes are always better than one, whatever you are searching for. Someone else has a different way of looking than you do, which amplifies your searching ability.
Ask around – one girl found a little art cat just by asking someone if they’d seen them. The same works with jobs – ask people, even people you don’t know, if they know of anyone who might be hiring. Start their brains working on the task, too, and maybe they have already seen exactly what you need and want.
Wait it Out. After a while, the store started to empty as people gave up on the search. Finally there were only 3 small groups of us still looking, and we knew one more “cat” was on the loose. If you don’t find it right away, don’t give up and walk away. Keep trying. Sometimes it really is just a matter of being the last person patiently looking.
2. Make a market for yourself
The whole idea of Catlanta is intriguing to me. Here is an artist who just started painting one specific thing – cats. No one knew who he was then (although we do now). And he has created a cult following of people, searching high and low in Atlanta for his artistic creations, jealous of other people who have them. This is the ultimate in creating your own niche. It is entirely possible that there is an untapped niche out there doing exactly what you love to do – making unicorns, training dogs to speak like people, or some type of high-concept glitter body art. Start doing it, even if you think right now that there isn’t a niche. Maybe the market will grow-up around you and what you do because no one knew your great idea existed. Maybe it is something you do on the side, like Catlanta, who apparently has a regular day-job, but maybe it can really be something. You don’t know until you try.
3. Don't give up your creative outlet
Sometimes you have a job you have to do just to pay the bills and sometimes you do what you love on the side but you aren't any less valued in your talents because of this. I know a lot of creatively-minded people struggle with this – the idea of doing what you love versus loving what you do. Sometimes it is impossible to do what you love and make money at it, so you just have to buckle down and do what you love AND what you have to do. This is okay, and there are other people out there doing the same thing. The intrinsic value and creative fulfillment can certainly come from the thing you do on the side, just like good old Catlanta, who has that day job and is the fine purveyor of much-loved cat art and fun-filled frantic scavenger hunts in Atlanta. And, in the overall, isn’t that just as awesome as loving what you do?
And for those of you who are curious, we didn’t find a cat then, but my friend Katie ended up buying me a stuffed Catlanta cat for Christmas that year. See? You never know how the thing you are searching for will show up.
For more information on Catlanta’s next kitten drop, check out his Instagram feed! @Cat_lanta