In your career, things don't always work out the way you plan them to.
I first learned this lesson myself in college. I went to one of those fancy private schools to study computer engineering in the late '90s. I knew that an investment in such a degree would guarantee me a job – and not just any job, but a great-paying job – when I graduated.
I couldn't have been more wrong. The dot-com crash came along right in the middle of my studies, putting a halt on hiring in the industry. Even the recruiters who normally came to our school to scout out students canceled their visits. It was a situation I'd never seen before and couldn't have predicted.
This experience took me down the path of finding my transferrable skills and learning about new careers. I also learned how to interview for all sorts of jobs in many different industries – and I got over my fear of reaching out to strangers. This was a skill set I developed out of survival; I needed to pay the rent.
I know it sounds strange, but when you learn to approach job interviews from a different angle, they become less scary and much more interesting. I looked at (and continue to look at) interviewing as a chance to make new professional contacts and learn about new jobs. I see interviews as networking meetings, not as opportunities to be rejected by strangers.
Another benefit of this new skill set and outlook is I no longer care as much if I meet every little minimum requirement listed in a job description. You know why? Because, truth be told, many employers don't really care if you do. If an employer brings you in for an interview, it's because they think you can do the job. Why not submit your application and let them decide?
If we could all spend a little less time worrying about being the perfect candidate and a little more time just being the best candidates we can be, we'd all go a little further, faster. When I learned this lesson, my own career path changed dramatically. I went from being an engineer to a project manager, and then from a project manager to a digital marketing executive. Now, I'm a career coach. I could have never guessed in the '90s that my career path would have been so winding.
I was recently invited to share my story of career success at a TEDx talk. My talk, titled "How I broke the rules and found my perfect job," shares my story of not waiting for permission – and a little obsession I developed along the way. You may have already noticed: It turns out, I really like interviewing.
I invite you check out my TEDx talk below. It's my hope that you will be inspired to bend the rules in your own search, so you, too, can find your perfect job.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.