Introduction
We are no longer operating in a job based economy. We have transitioned into a Free Agent Economy in which the rules are completely different. If you are attempting to find a job using conventional approaches such as sending your resume to companies and hoping to get interviews, you are likely to have a frustrating experience.

This does not mean that you are not qualified for the positions you are seeking. However, it does mean that you need to rethink your strategy and approach your career in a different manner. The aim of this article is to provide you with a recipe, i.e. a step by step method that will allow you to succeed in the new Free Agent Economy.

What is a Workable Method?
My definition of a workable method for accomplishing a goal is that it works most of the time. If a method works less than 25% of the time, or, if it takes a very long time to produce the intended result, it is NOT a workable method.

The traditional job search model, i.e. resume, cover letter, blanketing companies with your information and hoping you will generate interest, going on interviews hoping to get a second one, etc. is a model that works too infrequently to be a workable method. Many people are aware of this but they cling to it anyway because they simply do not have an alternative. Now, you do!

People cling to outdated methods because they are terrified of admitting they don't have a real answer or solution. This includes recruiters, HR professionals, resume writers and other employment professionals. They may advise you to do the same things you've always done and they may even tell you the economy is getting better and jobs are returning. Not true.

In the steps below, you will learn a real, workable method for locating, creating and solidifying profitable opportunities. Some of these may turn out to be traditional salaried employment and others may take different forms such as consulting, independent contract work, projects, partnerships, paid internships, freelance opportunities, etc. The bottom line is that they all have one thing in common—putting cash in your bank account. Isn't that what you are seeking?

Utilizing a Systems Solution
By embracing and applying the steps below, you will also transform how you think about yourself, your value in the marketplace, your communication and relationship skills and your level of confidence. You will no longer be at the effect of economic conditions.

This is an example of a systems solution where all aspects of a situation are carefully considered rather than using Band-Aids which aim to solve a large problem with a superficial, one dimensional solution.

I recommend that you print the 10 steps for success in the Free Agent Economy, and use it as a checklist as you progress through your career transition process. If you would like some assistance in completing these steps, we're available to help.

Step 1: Give Up the Job Seeker Label
Declare yourself to no longer be a job seeker and stop telling people you are looking for a job. This is perhaps the most difficult step, but it is the most important.

There may be a temporary vacuum caused by not knowing how to think and speak of yourself but not to worry, this gap will be replaced very quickly with a new, refreshing and empowering sense of professional identity, one that restores a sense of clarity, dignity and sense of personal power to your professional life.

Step 2: Adopt a New Empowering Identity
Declare yourself to be a problem solver, solution provider, fulfiller of unmet needs, consultant, advisor or mentor, whichever name appeals most to you. Choose a name you really like and one that you can identify with easily.

If you cannot think of a good name, brainstorm with your friends (or coach if you have one) but most importantly stop talking about getting a job and being hired.

Labels are a form of branding or positioning which either open doors or close them. The employee label is often a limiting one that results in giving your power away. This is ultimately damaging to your self esteem and self respect.

If you feel you must continue to use this job seeker label, get yourself two hats, like two baseball caps. On one of them place the label "employee" and on a second one, place the label "The Real Me." Then, when you are functioning in the capacity of job seeker, wear the employee hat and at other times wear your Real Me hat.

To make this exercise really powerful, confine your actions with each hat to behaviors that are consistent with that label. Now notice the feelings you have when wearing each of your hats. What are your feelings telling you?

Step 3: Get to Know the Real You
You will need to spend some time getting to know the Real You, the person associated with the Real Me Hat. With support, you will find this to be a fun, exhilarating and immensely validating adventure.

Your challenge is primarily to let go of old outdated ideas and beliefs that no longer serve you and which are no longer effective in the marketplace. The world has changed and it is time to wake up.

Acknowledging the truth about this to yourself may be difficult in light of the fact that so many advisors continue to tell you to revise your resume yet again and to do more networking.

Networking is a meaningless term unless you know precisely what it means and have the tools and skills to produce the desired end result. Without having all the tools, you are likely to get yourself more frustrated.

Principle: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Step 4: Translate Your Accomplishments into Solutions and Value
You may be aware of your accomplishments but unclear how your skills, talents and experiences translate into solutions and value to organizations. Since it is critical for you to become clear and articulate about your unique value, it will be important to extract your unique problem solving abilities from your accomplishments.

The easiest way to do this is to start with one recent and important accomplishment. Go back in time to just before your accomplishment happened and take a visual snapshot of the state of affairs in the organization or environment in which you were working. Then ask yourself: what were the chief problems or needs that existed? Write them down.

Now fast forward to right after you completed your accomplishment and once again, take a snapshot of the situation and environment. Ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers.

What changed from one picture to the next?
How did the change occur?
Utilizing a problem-solution framework, what were the solutions that made the critical difference?
What previously unmet needs got fulfilled?
How did YOU personally create and implement these solutions?
Instead of focusing on your talents and skills that you usually take for granted, focus instead on the value that you brought to the situation. Now continue this process with your remaining accomplishments. When you have done this exercise with all of them, take a step back and look for the pattern of solutions and value that you repeatedly bring to each situation. If you look closely, you will find this pattern. This will then become the focal point in your letter of introduction in step 6 below.

Step 5: Stop Using a Resume
A resume is a fundamentally limiting tool because it promotes the label of you as a job seeker. The resume is also an ineffective marketing tool because the expectations and formal rules of resumes prevent you from selling yourself on paper in a compelling and effective manner. Professional resume writers may disagree but their "improvements" are still limited to a defined context.

If you decide to actively pursue advertised job openings, use a functional resume only and keep a chronological work history separate from this document. Only provide your chronological work history if requested in an interview but otherwise do not even speak about it. Why?

Chronological resumes are NOT effective marketing tools no matter how well they are written. They will also tend to pigeon-hole you into a stifling corporate mindset. A good example is the familiar gap in your resume, used by interviewers all the time to disqualify you.

Do you really want to play this game? Do you insist on punishing yourself in this manner? Here is a good response to the question "what were you doing between job A and Job B?"; "I was living my life, how about you?"

Step 6: Develop and Use a Letter of Introduction
In the place of a resume, learn to use an amazingly powerful document called The Letter of Introduction. The advantages and applications of this tool are vast. The longer you use it, the more you will marvel at its many applications and level of effectiveness.

Even the act of writing this letter is transformational because it opens the door to a freely expressive channel in you which allows you to convey who you are, the greatest value you have to offer and what you are seeking.

The letter of introduction works equally well as a prelude to a serious business conversation and a networking interaction which can put you in touch with key people very quickly. You may want to have a few versions of your letter for different purposes. Learning to write and utilize a letter of introduction begins to awaken you to the world of effective marketing, something usually absent in most job seekers.

The Letter of Introduction has several main components which are as follows:

Opening paragraph to establish rapport and your reason for writing
A Second paragraph honing in quickly and powerfully on your major value to organizations
A short bulleted list of examples where you implemented solutions, validating your assertion
A Third paragraph briefly summarizing the most ideal projects for you.
Final paragraph expressing why a phone conversation would be beneficial to both of you. This is virtually always the intended outcome of the letter.
Important: Never use the words job, employment, interview, getting hired or salary anywhere in your letter!
In the Career Crafting program, clients acquire tools for writing and utilizing their letter of introduction. You can learn more about this in our career assessment session.

Step 7: Use Social Media Strategies to Identify Matching Problems and Needs
Once you know your specialty as far as solving problems and satisfying needs, your next step is to use all online and offline resources to identify potential sources of these needs. A good way to start this process is by asking a series of marketing questions that will allow you to effectively hone in on your target market and speed up the process of locating key people that match your profile. Here are some sample questions to get you started:

What is your major targeted industry?
What is your ideal company or organization?
What are the primary problems or needs you've have identified which match your greatest strengths?
What are the people within organizations most likely to have direct involvement with these needs or problems?
Once you have answered these questions you can then start your search and sorting process. You may want to concentrate on LinkedIn to establish connections and also take advantage of industry specific networks and contacts.

Step 8: Begin Conversations With People Matching Your Profile
As soon as you locate people who are connected to your target market or industry, it is important to be proactive, to reach out and make contact. If you have an inkling that a person has a need you can address, it is best to make contact right away but be sure to establish rapport and make a connection before diving into the specifics of the situation.

You will find that you can share your goal and directly ask people for referrals to people and organizations that match your profile. Sending them your letter of introduction is usually ideal at this juncture especially if they give any indication of interest or receptivity.

Be sure you have a clear plan on how you are going to present yourself and the best way to interact with new contacts. You can work out these details with your coach if you have one and if not, you can do role plays with friends or family. The aim is to get comfortable and confident with your approach and get it refined to the point where you can carry the conversation forward to completing a financial agreement if appropriate.

Step 9: Complete Profitable Agreements With The Best Organization(s)
Once you have started a conversation and identified the need or problem which matches your area(s) of expertise, you are ready to move into negotiation and make something happen.

This can be a very quick and straightforward process when you have really clicked and have what the person needs. In other situations it may take a few meetings to complete the deal.

Either way, you will want to be clear on the entire conversation and sales process and also clear on how you will take the person through the important steps. This is a stage where having a support partner or a coach for brainstorming is important. Role playing is the perfect tool for gaining clarity, skill and confidence in presenting yourself.

Step 10: Utilize an Effective Support System to Ensure Your Success
I want to urge you to not undertake these steps in an isolated manner. There are many individuals who have completed them and who can be helpful to you.

The most significant growth and learning in life takes place in the context of supportive relationships. No matter what your circumstances may be, working in partnership with others will have profound impact and value.

If your tendency until now has been to operate as the 'lone ranger', it is time to reach out and connect with others. My blog post Moving Beyond the Lone Ranger Syndrome will help expand your perspective about this.

Feedback, Comments and Questions
I hope that these steps have been helpful to you. Please send me your feedback and questions to howard@breakthroughcoaching.cc. This allows me to continue refining the materials so it helps more people!

Author's Bio: 

Howard Sambol is the founder and director of Breakthrough Coaching and author of the Career Crafting program, http://www.careercrafting.com.

Howard is a Transformational Coach, Certified NLP Practitioner, Trainer and Program Designer. For the past 30 years, his passion has been facilitating breakthroughs for people.

In the area of career/job transition, Howard has been a major innovator. One of his significant contributions is the Recipe for Success With the Free Agent Economy.

Howard speaks frequently at organizations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and also works privately with professionals with his Career Crafting program.