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Talk Time

The number one way to find a new job is to talk about it. Talk, talk, talk is all you really need. Talking about your job search will help you in three ways.

The first way is it will start getting you comfortable with selling yourself. When you first tell someone you are looking, it may seem a bit like new ground you are walking on. It may feel uncomfortable because many times you start receiving advice from people who you may not really want it from. A job search sometimes open up the door to a person who has been wanting to tell you their opinion for some time. This can be good if you take it with the right mindset. It may give you a peek into what other people think of you and how to best position yourself for that new job.

The second way talking about you job search helps is by opening doors. This is the general idea of networking. When you talk about yourself in a way to ask for assistance, good natured people will respond with ideas, suggestions and connections they might know. Sometimes people you tell don’t respond with connections right off the bat. They may hold on to the thoughts until another person they know or meet tells them they are looking for a certain person to fill a job opening. Good natured people try to think about who they know in order to help people find others. Your name may be popping up all over town right now.

The last way that talking about your job search is helpful is you get a chance to see if you are really serious about it. When you put your thoughts into words, the words tend to have a way of bringing reality into the picture. Reality is what everyone needs to get the job search process rolling. Talking about a job search give you a chance to determine how serious you are and play our scenarios with other people. This process will aid you in the direction you want go.

Talk about your ideas of your job search with anyone who will listen. It is good practice and practice makes perfect (mom always said).

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Fail To Plan or PTF

Do you really have to plan out everything in your life? This question get batted around in my brain along with many others. I love to plan. I love to write plans, think about planning, anticipate all the possible angles of what might happen in any given aspect of a plan. This is me. It is what I have always done and I really don’t want to change that very much. This is how I keep all the balls going in the air every day.

What if I stopped planning? What would happen? I think I would shrivel up and die but would I?

I am sure I would not really shrivel up and die but I might learn a solid lesson that has been used by some job searchers forever. Many, many people don’t really plan for their careers. A career just happens to sneak up on them when they least expect it. Once it does, some people are then relatively or extremely happy for the rest of their working lives. Others are not. The career takes them down a path they don’t really like and they put up with it in misery for the rest of their careers.

To plan or not? I say no and yes. I think it is very important to plan out a direction you want to go in or try out. With this in mind, it will help you steer your career car in a direction. You won’t really know if it is right direction until AFTER you have been doing it for a while. This after-the-fact / hind-sight perspective is really what directs great career choices. If you have tried out a new gig for a while and you like it, keep going. It will probably turn out to be a great future as long as it is not centered on the amount of money you are making. If you don’t like what you are doing, then move on to something else. This type of planning is a balance between doing it ahead of time or after the facts are all in. Both are planning. Both will help steer your career in the right direction.

The moral of this story is: if you plan too much, you will loose the flexibility of “chance happenings.” If you don’t plan enough, you will loose control. The sweet spot is in the middle, somewhere determined by you. If you are a planner like me, stop planning as much and let some things happen to you and see where they can take you. If you are not a planner, start planning a little more and see where this structure takes you. Both ways are good.

I know I seem to be advocating balance here, that was not my intention even though it is what I am saying. Sometimes it is good to get your career out of whack for a while to help assist you in finding what is right for you. So balance, yes and balance, no.

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Sniff Every Scent

Job search 101 states that every situation is a possible opportunity. You never know where your next opportunity will come from. It could be a chance meeting with a complete stranger. Most of the time it is a chance meeting with someone who is somehow loosely connected with you. Maybe this person is a friend of a friend or a distant family member or some other type of connection. These things just happen when you put yourself out there.

The main reason things just happen is because life has a way of throwing you a curve ball when you least expect it. Putting yourself out there gives life a solid nudge to send the ball your way. If you never put yourself out there, you really never experience life to its full potential.

If you are nervous about putting yourself out there, that is normal. It is so normal, I would think that nine out of ten people feel some type of anxiety with putting themselves out there. Of those nine, some enjoy the anxious feelings and the others absolutely HATE it. If you are in the hate it camp, this time you need to do what you HATE doing and find a way to enjoy it. If you go into it with this attitude, you will eventually find out that you may not hate it as much as you thought you did. You may just needed time to get over the fear of it. Once you are on the other side, it may be exhilarating.

Put yourself out there and see where it takes you. Enjoy the ride.

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Recruiter Pick Me, Pick Me

Today I want to spend some time on the subject of working with recruiters/headhunters during your job search. This is a topic where I believe a lot of confusion or misunderstanding arises. Let’s get one thing straight: THE RECRUITER WORKS FOR A COMPANY NOT YOU. This is the most important fact to keep in mind when working with recruiters. If you keep this at the forefront of your mind you will loose most of the frustration you have with them.

Recruiters are hired by companies to find people. Most recruiters focus their searches and time in just a few areas. They are specialists in particular industries like Health Care, Technology, Non Profits, Manufacturing, Construction, Real Estate, etc. If they don’t recruit in an industry you are in, don’t waste your time or theirs by calling weekly or emailing all the time to see if anything new has come up. They are busy on their specific search not yours.

Now that we have a basis understanding of how a recruiter functions, it is time to briefly overview the challenges in working with them. The first challenge is their motivation. If you have the background they are looking for, you will stay on their radar screen. They are motivated by getting you hired if you have what they are looking for. What this still means is they are not looking out for your best interest. So if you are looking to move in a new career direction, recruiters are not the first people you should call. Why…glad you asked. They are normally looking for experienced people. So if you have been doing a certain job for more than 2 or 3 years there is a good chance they may want to talk to you. The reason they look for experienced people is because there are tons of inexperienced people looking for a career change. The experienced ones many times are happy where they are at, hence more difficult to find, hence the need to hire recruiters.

A potential downside to recruiters is they will not normally tell you why you did not get the job. They have a list of excuses but are limited on how honest they can be. There are many reasons for this but it is safe to say they only have time to prepare the good candidates for interviewing not coach and counsel the ones who didn’t make it. It is a fact of the profession. But remember they are not paid by you and owe you nothing.

Job searching is somewhat of a game. The game is can you beat out the other people playing the game. The challenge of this type of games is you typically don’t know many of the rules of the game or your opponents very well if at all. There are general rules to finding jobs and interviewing but not rules on how to win. Because of these facts, you need to be ready with good questions to uncover any limitations you may have BEFORE you get to the interview. This will increase you chances of being picked for the final round or the job. As always, good communication and questioning skills are most crucial.

There is a lot of unsaid information within this post. I know it but wanted to get out the most important details in hopes of expanding in future posts. In summary, recruiters work for companies not YOU, they look for experienced people and recruiters can assist you with the job game, however, it is very important for you to develop your communication skills on your own.

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Fear. Friend or Foe?

Are you fearful of anything? Maybe you hate speaking in public, maybe you are scared to die, or maybe you are scared to find a new job. What fear are you grappling with today; in this season of your life? We all have fears. Sometimes we know them, sometimes we don’t . Many times we need a close friend or family member to point them out to us.

I want to talk about fears to do the tough things to find a new job. Job searching is tough for many people, really tough. Sometimes the reason it is tough is because the cycle to find a job is so long. What I mean by that is by the time you decide to look for the new job, develop the resume, send it out to a bunch of listings and companies, talk to recruiters and friends, get leads, follow up, interviews and eventually acceptance, it can be months of work. It can be a difficult and tough process.

So why is this post on our fears? The main reason is because many times our fears will keep us from making a decision. Whether it is decision to look for a job or what the resume should look like or cold calling employers and recruiters or interviewing, these fears (even in the tiniest way) will slow down progress. These fears will creep up when you least expect it and derail your efforts.

The best way to determine if these fears are friend or foe is to be honest with yourself. Think about what is keeping you back from doing an job search activity. If it is fear, you have found a pressure point. Now you know it and it is your responsibility to work on it. If you don’t work on the fear it becomes your Foe. If you acknowledge its existence and begin to work through it, it becomes your Friend.

Working on a fear is not easy to do. What I can tell you is if you work on the fear, it will probably become your greatest asset. Our fears tend to keep us from doing difficult things. We build a safe wall around us and when a situation arises and a fear is awakened, it begins to scream louder and louder until we either deal with it or allow it to deal with us. Fears are deeply entrenced and many times got that way because a person has allowed it to become stronger and stronger by not dealing with it.

If you work on a fear and resolve it, you are well on your way to working on others. Many times there are more than one. When you resolve one fear your conversations and interactions with potential employers will be easier to conduct. You won’t have to work so hard to steer a conversation as to not expose what you are trying to hide. It’s one less thing you have to hide from.

Work on a fear this week. Let me know how it goes.

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Networking…Why Do It?

Last night I went to a networking meeting here in Phoenix. There was time set aside for networking so everyone in the room knew why they were there. In addition to the set aside time, there was a 1 hour presentation regarding yearly awards for the society. There are many, many types of networking. There are scheduled meetings like this one, informal groups of like minded people, casual gatherings at a friend’s house or park, dinners with family/friends, office settings, coffee shops, etc. There are so many ways to network, many times it doesn’t really feel like networking; but it is.

When I use the work “network” many people get nervous as to the pressure they feel to introduce themselves to total strangers. That is a form of networking. That is not the ONLY form of networking. If you are comfortable with that type then great. If you are not, don’t sweat it. So why do it?

One of the main reasons to network is to get to know more people. Simple. Networking is all about you connecting with the other person. It is not about pushing yourself on someone. Isn’t it so much easier to get to know someone if you are face to face with them. It may be more nerve racking but it is much more effective.

Let me give you a basic foundation for networking when you are nervous. Don’t talk about yourself unless asked. Be ready with a couple of good questions to ask someone else. Keep the focus on them. Eventually the conversation will come back to you. If it doesn’t, there is a good chance that person would not have ever helped you. They might have been too caught up in their own stuff to reach out. Networking is about helping each other not what you can get for yourself.

Network for people first and connections second. This rule will get you through the “squirmish” feelings you may have of networking.

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You Are Not Who You Think You Are

Communication is crucial in any job search. Poor communication with a resume, telephone call or interview will hurt your chances of getting a job. Good communication skill will help you get a job. These two points are obvious. The problem is you don’t know which one you are; poor or good.

You don’t know because it is tough to see yourself through other people’s eyes. It is not only tough but almost impossible to do it. It is impossible because you are too close to the subject matter. Many of us think we know how other people see us. If we are right it is because we have listened to people who have volunteered constructive criticism. Many of us don’t listen to it unless we have to.

Take this simple test to see what style you have. Write down five words that would describe your personality and how you think others see you. Write these down on a piece of paper. Now ask 5 friends and/or family members who will be honest with you to each write down 5 words that best describe your personality and how they see you. Don’t give any more details just ask for the 5 words.

Once you get the words they write, see how many of them compare to what you wrote down. If you have picked honest people and have more than 4 of the same words with most of them, you have a pretty good idea of how people view you. If less than 4, this is your reality check.

Try it and let me know what results you get.

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Rising Star

Whether you are just starting a new business or a job search the bottom is not far away. When you embark on a new venture like these you really are swimming upstream for a while. You will start thinking different, seeing things different and planning different. You can count on all your deepest and darkest fears and frustration to creep into every part of your life. This is all normal. This is required.

It is required to mold you into the new person you want to become. If you have been let go from an employer, you will eventually loose touch with those whom you worked with ever so closely. They will be a distant memory in a very short period of time. They might not see it but you definitely will. This is required.

If you are looking for a new job and hit the proverbial brick wall or glass ceiling over and over again, get used to it. It is going to keep happening maybe many times over before it is done. This is required.

All the above scenarios are just a few of the examples of the challenges you will face when looking for a new job or starting a business. When they really start to hurt is when you are almost at the bottom. The bottom of the learning curve or the end of the experimental phase. This is when it gets serious. This is when you need to kick up your activities even more than you have been.

When you get to the bottom (and many of you will) this is when the only way you can go is up. This is when you become a rising star.

The best way to analyze your present situation is to compare yourself to a previous time period. I met with a friend today who is starting a law practice. The guy is sharp as any attorney out there. His only problem is generating more revenue, now. He knew the business would be tough to start and take about two years to really get going. He knew what he was in for. He is almost at the bottom of his trial. He is feeling the pain.

We met for lunch and I had him describe what he was doing last year in his search. He did and remembered the challenges he faced. This recollection was a good reminder to show him where he came from mentally and business wise. He was a much stronger person now than before. Six months from now, he will be even stronger with 5 times as many contacts. He wants it now, but cannot have it. It will come if he can find a way to stay with it.

You stick with it too. You will find a way and learn a great deal about yourself in the job search process. Keep at it especially when it hurts. You will get on the other side of the pain if you just keep going. The risk is worth the reward.

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Oh The Places You Will Go

If you are open to other peoples help you WILL GO PLACES. Sometimes they are not where you want to go and other times the places you go will blow you away.

I want to encourage you to meet up with three new people for coffee, lunch or activity this month. You can do them all in one week or one per week or wait until the end of the month. Just try it out. You can even make a goal of one new interaction each week. See where this type of activity takes you. Tell them about your goals and dreams. Ask them about their own goals and dreams.

This reaching out only takes a very short time to do. You don’t have to make it a big to do; just try it a few times and see where it takes you. I have seen people go from having a bleak outlook on what job direction they want to go in to having the a clear path to follow. Many times it just took them taking some time out of their “normal” schedule/contacts to open up the flood gates.

Don’t be shy and if you are, find shy people to hang with. At least you will have something in common with them. There are no shy people in this world, only people who have not practiced reaching out. Stop being shy/reserved/nervous/cautious/or whatever you call yourself.

I keep spilling my coffee today. I think I spilled it 4 times. I must have a brain synapse issue on the hand moving part that is geared for coffee drinking. I wonder how you fix it????

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6 Days On, 1 Day Off

It is Saturday and I was doing some early am work today. I thought I would make this post on the importance of taking a break from your job search work. The reason for this reminder is because it is vitally important to “get away” from your activities even for a short time each week. I believe in working yourself at least 6 out of 7 days per week. This is normally only a temporary requirement and will pay good dividends in the end; a new job/path. The “get away” I am referring to is not really getting totally away. This time away is from the active pursuit of the new job.

In all of us, there are two ways to view the activities we engage in. There is our conscious mind and our subconscious mind. Break away from the conscious one by not being involved in planning or conducting activities of a job search nature. These include rewriting resumes, letters, searching online, contacting people, practicing interviewing, etc. These are examples of activities you engage in to pursue the new job. Stop these.

What taking a day off does is allow your subconscious mind to have the freedom to process all the activities you have been engaged in most recently. As it processes these activities this part of most people’s minds will begin to piece together thoughts and ideas that either support or contradict previous thoughts. This processing is vital to success. Anyone can have success based solely on activities but the great success comes from going in the right direction for you. Your subconscious mind will help design this path without you even knowing it. It will keep your activities in check with your previous intentions. In addition, this part of your mind is most effective in resolving problems.

Let your inactivity be the most important activity you do in a given week for your job search. Keep strong, today is a tough one.

It is only temporary!

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