There are two fairy tales that simply charmed me when I was a child. One was “Cinderella” and the other was “The Sleeping Beauty”. Today’s career marketing fairy tale takeoff is from The Sleeping Beauty”. To review the story…
nce upon a time there lived a childless royal couple who lost all hope of ever having a family when the queen discovered she was pregnant. Upon hearing the great news the entire kingdom went into baby-overdrive. The preparations for the new arrival were lavish and everything surrounding the pregnancy done with painstaking care.
Now, these were the days when belief in the fae was rife and fairy folk moved about between the human and the fairy realm unrestricted. The fairies were overjoyed about the new baby, so when the little princess arrived, three fairy godmothers attended her baptismal party.
Each one in turn went up to the crib and laid her gift on the child. The first fairy godmother gave the princess beauty; the second gave her love, but the third cursed her. “She will prick her finger on a spindle when she turns sixteen and die!”, the blackgaurd pronounced over the crib. Acting quickly, the second fairy godmother mollified the death sentence and turned it into “she will not die, but sleep for 100 years. Only a true prince will be able to awaken her”. After that, all spinning wheels were banished from use in that kingdom.
The years went by and the princess grew into a beautiful, kind and sweet young woman. The king and queen rested in the security that no harm would come to her since no spinning equipment was allowed within the borders of the kingdom. The princess was kept very close and had no knowledge of the weaver’s craft, so a crone who came into town with a loom on her cart aroused the princess’ curiosilty.
Apparently, the old woman had no knowledge that spinning was disallowed in that kingdom, so she set up the wheel in her cottage and began to make the raw materials of her product from wool she brought with her.
The princess was taken with the song of the spinning wheel and asked the old woman, “what are you doing?” “Spinning, my dear”, the weaver woman answered. “Would you show me how you do that?”, asked the prinecess. “Of course, little one. Come here and hold the spindle”. The weaver handed the princess the spindle so she could spin the thread as it came off the wheel, but the inexperienced girl took hold of the instrument the wrong way and cut herself.
Suddenly, the old woman changed into a dark fairy–the same one who had cursed her at her birth. As the princess fell to the floor the fairy-woman shrieked with anger when she found out that her curse did not kill as expected but only produced a deep sleep. The king, the queen and everyone in the village around the castle fell asleep as did their princess who could only be awakened with a kiss of pure love from the lips of a true prince…
…And that’s the way I conducted my career in the early days. As did many young women, I thought all I had to do was be a “good girl” and wait to be “discovered”. The university is very good at what it is built to do, but beneath it all, the attitude seems to be that any smart student will “find her way” into a good job somehow. Yes, there are entire departments dedicated to helping students find their way in the world after college. The better ones pull in the odd group of company recruiters on occasion, but none of all that expensive education includes a single “best practices techniques to finding employment” or even a “life/career management/” course.
It is embarrassing to tell you how long I held on to that fairy tale. Hidden in the bowels of the companies that temporary agencies farmed me out to, I quietly buried myself in my work having confidence that someone would notice. I thought that some day, some executive with a pure heart would see me, become my mentor, and give me the “kiss” of a successful career. I would be “discovered” just like in the stories about famous screen ingénues (some of those “discovery” tales are manufactured, you know).
My first job hunt after leaving college was simply a shotgun resume send (pure numbers game) of 100 resumes. It produced several responses, two in-person interviews, and one job offer, which was withdrawn the very next week.
Waiting to be “discovered”? Waiting around for a magnanimous executive, a prince, to notice a quiet, “good girl”? There is an interesting article from Careerealism about managing a career by playing the Sleeping Beauty role and how to snap out of it.
Wake up, Sleeping Beauty!
The one, most important lesson I ever learned in the business world is that Sleeping Beauties are left behind asleep. That is where having an effective career marketing plan comes in. As threatening, vulgar and unromantic as it may sound it takes an effective marketing plan– well planned with plotted action steps and logistics to get Beauty before the eyes of her target audience–fashion editors of Vogue magazine or before the eyes of a future king.