Tag Archives: career growth

Get your job search tools sharpened!

So, you have your workspace and basic job setup well in place. Now you have to start sharpening the tools at your disposal and create some structure:

Resume:

  • If you have not updated your resume and have done a good once over to make sure it is relevant, articulate and compelling… do so now!
  • Have someone you feel would be an impartial judge critique
  • Proofread it again… and again!!
  • If you are looking for positions that have distinctly different “flavors” (e.g. Manager vs. Individual Contributor) make sure you have a resume that is laser-focused on each area instead of one that shows you as more of a generalist unless it makes sense to do so (you may be targeting smaller, start-ups where a jack or jill-of-all-trades may be more desirable)
  • Same as above for cover letters, have one for each instance ready. Your process will become much more streamlined and efficient  if you can keep the “customization” of covers to a minimum

Job Boards:

  • Make sure your new resume and covers are synced up to your job board profiles
  • Create job agents. These are automated searches the job boards will do for you based on your desired jobs and keywords and email you on a daily or weekly basis
  • Dead horse beating time: LinkedIN is a JOB BOARD too! Get an account if you haven’t yet. If you do, get your profile updated and start connecting. I should be on their payroll!

Goal Setting:

  • Figure a reasonable amount of jobs you want to apply for per day. Don’t fire off resumes willy nilly to every job that remotely looks like a fit. Then again, make sure you are applying enough to make it a numbers game – odds go up the more places that see your resume. If you are doing 6-8 hours a day, I would set a reasonable goal of 5-6 applications a day. This will give you the proper time to research the company and role to see if it is something you truly would like to do. It also lets you craft a well thought out, brief cover letter since you already have the templates
  • Network, Network, Network! Sort of like the equivalent of Location, Location, Location in real estate. Folks, this is your quickest path to your next job. Job boards serve a purpose but they are a supplement to networking. One of the most effective tools in your “swiss army knife” is the people you know. They will know someone or someone who knows someone who needs you!
  • Follow the 50-25-1 rule. What does this cryptic sequence of digits mean? This is a good networking rule of thumb for job seekers (active or passive.) On a weekly basis, you need to do:
    • 50 Networking emails
    • 25 Network phone calls
    • 1 Face to face networking meeting (one-on-one or group), this can be an office meeting, a lunch, a dinner or quick cup of coffee at your place of choice…they all count!

I know these sound like rigorous goals. However, the more process-oriented, organized and disciplined in your job search you are, the quicker you can quit.

There is one other side benefit of all this work. Can you guess?

OK, I won’t keep you waiting. Don’t think of yourself as unemployed, think more like you are an athlete who is doing off-season training. The job seeker who maintains a work-like schedule and mindset will interview better and have a much easier transition back into the workforce. Make sense? Good!

NOW GET TO WORK!

Job Search Central, Day 2

controlThe first thing that you want to make sure of is your pay situation in your new job. Of course, in this case that means unemployment insurance. If you qualify for UI make sure you know the process and contact info in your area. It varies state to state, and with the economy as it is the Unemployment offices are overwhelmed by claims. Make sure you have a couple hours dedicated to opening your claim on the phone, and a half a day + if you go to an office.

OK, now to set up Job Search Central:

Workspace:

Unless you live alone or nobody else is home during the day, try to establish a workspace that is private and quiet. Have your desktop organized and if this is a place you also do other work (paperwork, bill paying, etc.), make sure that is put away when you are in job search mode. Only paperwork relevant to job searching should be around, everything else is just going to be a distraction. If you prefer to print things out instead of keeping folders on your laptop, make sure you have some color coded manila folders for things like: job descriptions (one for ones you have applied to, ones for consideration), resumes, cover letters, references, etc.

Work Day

Figure out how many hours you are going to dedicate toward job searching and stick to that. Where it is taking a little longer to find jobs these days, I suggest a minimum of 4-6 hours. I also suggest that you do no more than 8 hours either. It will become too much of a drain and you may start to lose steam. While you are unemployed, take advantage of having a couple hours to catch up on reading or doing something fun during the day.

You also want to try to do your hourly work all at one time and minimize interruptions and breaks except for lunch. Set a firm start time and COMMIT to it! If you set 9 am, then you have until then to check email, Facebook, ESPN, etc. but after 9 those pages should leave your browser and not come back until your work day is done. (OK, you can look on you lunch break, but no more than 1 hour!)

Work Attire

OK, think me crazy but I believe if you take job searching seriously you need to feel like it is a regular job. Don’t work in what you rolled out of bed in. You dont need to put on a suit (unless that’s comfortable for you), and even jeans are OK. Just think if you were going to be going out in public and what you would wear that day.

Atmosphere

If you want to put on some soft music in the background, that’s cool. No headphones though, because you WILL need to be working the phones and headphones hamper phone activity. And absolutely NO television or computer games. If you IM with people a lot, try to minimize that activity unless necessary. You can put a status: “job searching from 9-12, available 12-1”

Next time, we will get into getting the tools you need for the job in shape, daily metrics, and making job boards and networking sites work for you!

Setting up “Job Search Central”

searchcentralYes folks, job searching is serious business and needs to be treated as a job itself. Today, I am going to talk about the basics to start setting up your “job search office.”

First you need to start with some administrative tasks and then move to the more specific searching tactics. When you first find out you have this new “job”, some of the actions you need to take:

  • Make sure you have agreed on severance and your pay/severance has been properly settled (commissions and some bonuses may be not be settled at time of separation)
  • Make sure you have the proper paperwork to go on COBRA if you choose to do so (it is cheaper than it used to be)
  • Analyze your 401(k) if you have one. Make sure you have the proper information to log on to access your account. See how it is performing and understand how long you can leave it in the employer’s account if it is performing well. If you want to remove it from you ex-company’s plan, Fidelity offers rollover IRA’s for 401(k)s so that you are not penalized for withdrawal
  • Notify any personal contacts who used your company email that you have left and not to send email to you there  because it will dump into a catch-all account and you don’t know who will view it
  • Contact your network (LinkedIN, etc.) to let them know you are no longer working there and to please keep their eyes open for positions that may suit you. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, you are a little behind the game but you can catch up and obviously didn’t listen to my earlier post of social networking!
  • Review your resume and get it updated, spend some quality time on it so it reflects what you really want in your next job, I have many tips on this blog
  • Upload your updated resume to job boards. I recommend you should be on at least Monster and CareerBuilder. Technical folks need to be on Dice. Make sure all your contact information is current and your “years of experience” in your key areas of expertise are updated.

I know these things seem obvious but sometimes the stress and shock of being out of a job  can hinder your path to moving on to the job search.

Congratulations, you have got a lot done on your first day and that much closer to leaving this job! 🙂

OK, next post we will start to talk about the “game plan”.

Please Quit Your Day Job!

SLOUCHOne of the classic lines from Caddy Shack sums up the way I feel. This annoying thing called “work” has been consuming a lot of my time. The funny thing is while I have been lagging in my postings, my blog traffic stats have been consistent. Go figure. Sort of the story of my life, people are just as happy when I shut up as when I impart my pearls of wisdom ;-).

First, some housekeeping. My last post had all of you hanging on the edge because I mentioned my next post was going to address weighing the options of taking a job under the duress of impending parenthood. My apologies. I did respond to some people privately on this but I will give broad strokes on my feelings on the subject.

Everyone’s financial situation is different so I would never counsel anyone NOT to take a job just because they need the income immediately. However, if you are considering accepting an offer for a far less than desirable role, think about a few things first:

  • Can I wait it out a little longer (maybe after baby comes and be there 100% for my spouse) and then find the job I really want?
  • Will taking this job mean that I will have to be tied down to an office for 45/55/60 hours a week and can I commit to that with all that’s going on in my life?
  • Will taking this job take me far afield of my career path and may be hard to get back on because I will not be able to build the skills I need?
  • If I take this as a stop-gap measure and keep looking is this going to be an issue on my resume and how do I explain it? (Hint: Recruiters and Hiring Managers don’t look favorably on people who take jobs for the sake of having one and keep looking, it questions future loyalty and commitment although in this current employment climate you may get some leeway.)

Just some things to think about if this issue comes up.

Now, in my writing hiatus I have thought about many themes to speak about. One thing that’s has risen to the top is a result of the tough job market and that many people are in a long-term job searching process. So I am going to put together a series that allows you to structure your job search like a job, hence my clever posting title “Please Quit Your Day Job”. Get it, you would want to find a job so you can quit your job of looking for a job.

OK, I guess if I have to explain, it isn’t as clever as I thought.

 

The dilemma for daddies to be (and some mommies too), part 2

momdadbabyI guess I should have called the first post, “The dilemma for daddies to be, (and some mommies too), so I corrected my error. In the last post we talked about how impending fatherhood can be as much of a tricky dilemma as  for expectant mothers. Obviously it is easier for dads to delay the discussion a little longer than moms and not be subjected to any possible discrimination in that regard. The exception of course are moms to be who are adopting, and hopefully they can get some useful information out of this too.

Let’s break down some scenarios and talk about what may be some solutions:

You are expecting a child fairly soon and are interviewing for a position. When do I tell the prospective employer?

If you are having the initial discussions with people (recruiters, hiring managers, etc) and have not gotten into serious interviewing and they tick off some standard questions, one of them is usually “if you were to be offered a position here and you decided to accept it, when could you be available to start?” Things are in the early stages here and I see no reason to show your hand about anything yet. I would respond with what you would normally respond with, depending on your current work circumstance. If you are working, you must say you can’t start for at least 2 weeks after you accept and give notice. If you say anything less, it is a red flag for future employers about your professionalism and loyalty, but that’s a different discussion.

If through further discussions, you find that there is a very good chance the timing will coincide, you will need to evaluate telling versus the opportunity and how you feel they may react.

When I do think it is appropriate to bring it up is when you have completed first, second or more rounds of interviews as dictated by their process and the feedback is all pointing to you getting an offer. They will usually start talking about more specific start dates.

How do I bring it up?

You want to make it seem like an easy issue to resolve, first and foremost. I would say “since we started speaking about the job, some timetables have come into play with regard to my (partner/wife/birth mother) giving birth. As we all know the due date is not always accurate but I will need x time off prior to the baby arriving and x time off after the baby arrives. I am very interested in the position and believe I am a great candidate. I also will do as much self-learning about my duties while I am out as I can (don’t commit if you don’t think you can do that!) as to minimize my ramp up time. I hope this does not affect my candidacy for this position”

It would be best if you could also get this statement and their response in an email. Although it would be hard to prove that they passed on you because of this, it’s harder to do so if they emailed you their commitment to be OK with your situation.

Shouldn’t I just wait for when I get the official offer, that way it would be harder for them to pull it back?

Yes, it would be harder and they could open themselves up for discriminatory practices claims if they did, but is this the way you want to start things off with them? They will feel slightly deceived but will still commit to the offer and that perception may not go away ever. Will this affect future opportunities from within the company? Once there is a little distance from you getting back to work, will they start the search again because they have trust issues with you? Just some food for thought.

OK, next post will be the dilemma about accepting a less than desirable role because you feel you need to be working at all costs!

The dilemma for daddys to be, part 1

newdadMuch has been written about the complexities and legalities for expectant moms and interviewing. The laws are pretty clear about discrimination and allowing time off without fear of recrimination (losing your job.)

It seems to be much less clear for the dads. When our parents were having kids, things were more defined. Mom’s job most of the time was being a mom (the most important job in the world), and dad was in the workforce. When it was time for the new baby, mom being self-employed as it were, didn’t have to ask for any time off or worry her job wouldn’t be eliminated (although she may wished as much!) Dad drove mom to the hospital and paced around the waiting room smoking and commiserating with the other expectant dads. The baby would come and dad would proudly announce it to everyone and dole out cigars. The extended family would engage to support the new mom’s chores and help with other children, etc. Dad would be back to work the next day.

As we all know now, modern day parenting has changed that paradigm significantly. Dads are more involved with the pregnancy and birth. With the great new advances in pre-natal medicine, there are more appointments and involvement along the way from pregnancy to post birth. As they should, the dad is going to Dr. appts, tests, ultrasounds, procedures, etc. He needs to be a more involved and informed partner. A lot of people these days don’t have the extended and immediate family around them so the many tasks around having a newborn falls on the parent’s shoulders.

Dad’s are taking paternity leaves now to spend as much time with the new baby as they can and help out or go to followup appointments, etc., and some progressive companies are even including that into their benefits package. Some are taking up to 3 weeks off using leave and vacation, some are invoking FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) which I believe is up to 12 weeks unpaid but will preserve job security with some caveats. These events usually are well planned out with employers and cause no major headaches or ill will between employee and employer.

That’s all great if you have a job but what if you are an expectant dad in job search mode? As a fairly recent new dad, I know there is a another whole set of stress factors in play besides the normal ones that come with pregnancy. Not long after you hear the wonderful news you can’t help but start to think about the financial ramifications of a new baby to the point of ridiculousness (how am I going to pay for their college expenses?? If I have a girl, how will I pay for her wedding??) Couple that with looking for a job. Especially if you don’t have one and it gets all the more fun.

You will start to worry about when and if you should tell prospective employers you have a baby on the way or accept a position you probably A. don’t really like or B. pays much less than you deserve because you feel you need to be a provider at all costs.

Well, sit back and relax and let’s talk about and get through this…next post! (Deep Breath! Deep Breath!)

Interview with Greg Chenevert, Author of “7 Minute Interview”

Greg Chenevert is one of the most effective Career and Business coaches around. Greg approaches his craft from a very different angle than most coaches which gives his clients a unique advantage in job interviewing, selling or in business dealings in general.

If you don’t believe me that Greg is any different than any career coach, all I can say is “numbers don’t lie”:

Greg has been engaged to teach Career development at a company. His first class of 23, all got placed in 4 weeks. And oh by the way…his second class of 26 all have gotten placed too!

I had a chance to speak with Greg recently about some key aspects of interviewing to get the job you want. His recent Audiobook, 7 Minute Interview provides some indispensable information on how to make yourself the top candidate in the first 7 minutes of the interview, when the hiring manager actually makes their yes or no decision on you.

BillTheRecruiter: What is the most common mistake a job seeker makes that knocks them out within the first 7 minutes?

Greg Chenevert: Bill, job seekers who don’t know or appreciate their audience believe they need to convince managers to hire them and pursue this based solely on technical or intellectual logic. This concept generates a false comfort zone for a candidate, which cascades into series of self-defeating behaviors.  One example is the job seeker who explains a technical reason for employment and doesn’t receive the expected feedback will then repeat their statement with greater vigor. Detailed technical descriptions appeal to only a limited group, often not including the HR manager, marketing or other non-technical personnel. Job seekers fail to understand that when they push information they conversely diminish the rapport. They lose the connection with the other person in the room, who is a decision maker for hiring. Without the rapport that is maintained through specific behaviors, everything the candidate says becomes unimportant because the interviewer is no longer listening.

The most effective interviewing method is to maintain and balance rapport while weaving your information into the listener’s context. The combination makes both the job seeker and their information readily understood.

BTR: Are most mistakes ones that the majority of people interviewing for a job would never even realize they are making?

GC: Yes, most people have trained themselves to follow behaviors without conscious examination. They don’t realize or recognize habitual mistakes. For example, everyone goes to an interview wants to be ‘the best person’ for the job, which is the perfect approach. However, upon arrival they discard this motivation and attempt to be the best: medical device domestic distribution manager, the best Java developer, or the best defense software project manager. They should stick to the first statement and be the best person, the individual who listens, engages listeners and is also a competent manager or developer. Job seekers who behave in this fashion are often the hired candidates.

BTR: How important is the non-verbal part of interviewing to the hiring manager’s decision making process?

GC: The past sixty years of research in human communication can be distilled to the following information that every job seeker can use. The words that you speak during an interview comprise 10% of your message, your tone, cadence, and inflections comprise 40% of your message. 50% of the interview communication is body language, including facial responses and projecting emotions through facial movement. Hiring managers use these channels and weightings to take in the candidate’s information and develop a decision.

Job seekers who rely on logic, rhetoric and words alone are at a severe disadvantage. Consider Ben Stein, the man who does the Visine commercials. His television delivery is possibly the baseline of interviewing. Readers might recall listening to his flat delivery, lacking inflection, connection and body language. Imagine listening to his Visine commercials for a half hour, but instead have it as an interview. Is this an effective approach and behavior to assisting a manager to form a positive decision?

BTR: If you realize things are starting off badly, what things does the book tell you that can turn the ship around quickly?

GC: If job candidates follow the steps in the audio book, they will more likely never encounter this problem, because the dialogue shows how interviews should proceed. However, there is a chapter that demonstrates to listeners how to recognize these situations while they are still manageable. They next hear how, through specific steps, to resolve the tensions or misdirection and re-establish the rapport and information flow of the interview.

BTR: Is there such thing as over preparing for an interview? For example too much role-playing, practicing, etc. that may seem like you are just being an “actor”?

GC: We can train easily ourselves; this is part of being human.   Everybody can over prepare by adopting a delivery, and effectively training themselves to properly respond in a training situation. The interview is a different emotional context because you’re dealing with strangers and have no control over the direct or follow up questions.  Under this stress the job seeker will engage their rehearsed answers as a reaction to the stress, making them sound all the more canned or artificial. Your readers may recall hearing an elevator pitch from a networking meeting that had all the right words, yet was devoid of personal connections. These are similar to the political ads and sound bytes that bombard us during elections.  We forget these within seconds of hearing them, because listeners instinctively tune out ‘canned’ messages within seconds. Hiring managers and HR people hear over-prepared statements so frequently that they tune out faster than most. They have trained themselves to recognize and avoid the rehearsed response.

BTR: Is it better to try and answer the interviewer’s questions with a response you think they want to hear, or just go with your “heart”?

GC: This question drives right to the heart of successful interviewing. Interviewing is a process meant to arrive at a mutual fit for the job seeker and the company. Job seekers need to discover two pieces of information: Does the hiring manager believe that I fit this job, and does the job and company fit with me. Responding the way that you think the interviewer wants to hear may answer your first need, but it subverts the second. This is how people end up in their job-from-hell. Employment is a long-term commitment, requiring mutual acceptance. If you answer from ‘the heart’ you will be certain to find what fits and more importantly benefits both you and your potential employer for a long-term engagement.

BTR: I noticed in the sample chapter the second example of responses there was a probing question posed in response to a question from the interviewer, why is that so important?

GC: The open-ended, probing question is another critical element for any successful interview because it allows the candidate to lead the conversation and demonstrate interest. Without these questions to engage the other person during your interview, every job seeker is structuring an interrogation, something that neither of you really wants. The second part of asking the question is to condense your answer, limit your speaking time, and provide a conversational shift to the interviewer. This prevents any confusion and awkward silences between the two of you. When done effectively open-ended questions are a mechanism to bond the two of you into a conversation that builds for a purpose, getting hired.

BTR: After listening to 7 Minute Interview, how easy is it to change your interviewing habits to be more successful in getting that job offer?

GC: Bill, it’s surprisingly easy for job seekers to achieve and retain constructive changes in interviewing behaviors and stand out from the hundreds of candidates vying for the same position. The book shows how to eliminate the emotional and behavioral habits that have destroyed past attempts, while also hearing how to establish winning habits. As a matter of fact, I include an entire chapter that shows some direct, simple exercises. When job seekers that I’ve trained practiced these exercises for a week and used them at the next interview, they changed from also-ran to hired.

BTR: What in general do you want people to take away from 7 Minute Interview?

GC: There are many things in this book that I that can make the difference for people. I want each to get a few tools to fulfill their needs. Interviewing well isn’t mysterious; it is direct and straightforward. That’s important knowledge for readers to understand, and this fact comes out many times through dialogue and examples. Another beneficial take-away is that there are only a few steps that separate success from failure, and these too are readily learned and adopted. Most importantly I want your readers to appreciate the fact that what they learn from this audio book isn’t how to interview well, it is how to converse well with everybody. When they take these conversational and communication skills to an interview, they work. When employees use them at work, they succeed, and when job seekers use them to network, they get results, because these skills motivate people to listen to you.

Again, if you would like to listen to a free sample chapter of  Greg’s Audiobook and buy the entire book, it is a great investment to improving your chances of getting the job you want go to: http://www.self-help-books.biz/