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End of Year Job Search

ANYTIME is a good time to job search especially at the end of the year…ESPECIALLY around holidays….parties….get togethers…presents…volunteering…etc.

Of course things do slow down during the holidays including hiring.  That doesn’t mean there is no one hiring it just means the entire machine slows down.  That can mean good or even bad.  Let’s unwrap both.

The Good:

1. A slow down means both job seekers slow down and hiring slows down.  That also means there might be less competition for those open slots you find online.  If you are using online sources, this should be music to your ears.

2. Hiring managers are less bombarded by calls and emails about potential job openings.  That means you can probably get through for requesting an informational interview or to inquire about opportunities they might have opening in January.  Make the calls today.

3. January and February are very strong hiring months and this is the perfect time to get your name out there.  Contacting employers to get into their “tickler file” is an excellent idea.  The tickler file is one they use to save resumes and contacts for a future hiring need.

4. Parties, get-togethers and volunteering activities increase during this time of year.  It is a perfect time to get out into the community and with friends to explore if they know anyone in the field you are looking into.  Remember that ANYONE is a potential lead to finding a new job even people who are not in the industry you are looking at.  Anyone and everyone is a “target” for your conversation.  So go hit if off with people and see what you can help them with and what they can help you with.

The Bad:

1. Slow down…this is the only negative I can think of.  There is a slow down in the volume but always remember hiring managers are ALWAYS in search for good people.  That is one of their primary jobs so even though there is a slow down, it doesn’t mean you are out of the race.  Go find a race that is alive and well.

Getting hired means finding an edge in your job search activities.  This is the edge you might be looking for.  An end-of-year job search is perfect timing.

Let’s Get Started!

5 More Job Search Myths

Myth 1:  Job search is difficult.  Ok bear with me for a second on this one.  Yes job searching is difficult I agree but I do think you might make it that way because of your fears.  Having a plan on who you are, what you are excited about doing (work you would love to do) where you are going in your career and who can best help you is the tough part.  But once you have that info figured out and straight in your head, you should be excited to get out and job search.  It should be exciting and easy because you know where you want to go.  So if you think the job search is difficult, you may want to spend some more time trying to figure out what excites you and then go search it out.  It might surprise you how fast you find something when you are excited about it.

Myth 2:  Your job search will take a long time.  Many people think their job search will take a long time because they are not sure what the future holds.  Actually, a job search can be something that doesn’t take long at all.  If you are let go from your current job, don’t take time off to find yourself or go on a mini vacation.  Get right in your chair and start looking immediately.  Any delay can derail your long term efforts.  Make your new passion finding your new job and then go on your mini vacation as a celebration once you have a starting date.  Plan to work six to eight hours a day for four full days a week.  Take one day off for other things and to keep yourself motivated but keep up a very healthy pace.

Myth 3:  Just finding a job with a paycheck or health insurance is a good stop gap.  I think this is a mistake.  I think you have to be careful you don’t get stuck in something you hate doing because at the end of the day you are affecting your future and your overall health when you are doing something that is unsatisfying.  If you truly are working hard and smart to find a new job in a great field, settling is taking your backup plan.  I am ok with backup plans but be very careful with this one.

Myth 4:  You think if you can just get into the interview you will get the job.  This is a tough one because the job market is so competitive right now.  Just getting the interview is not going to cut it like it used to.  Yes you might be better in face-to-face situations but you are still going to have to show value to the hiring manager on why they should hire you over someone else.  Long gone are the days when you can charm your way in.  It takes a lot more effort, planning and “selling” than every before.  Be prepared especially in the interviews.

Myth 5:  Since the economy is tough, I may have to take a pay cut.  This is a fearful cop-out.  You can find the same pay you were making and probably even more if you take a more planned approach to your job search.  It might require you to finish some course work or do a great job selling what you bring to a company but you can make more money in a new job EVEN if you were let go.  Pay is about perception and economics.  If they think you are the right person for the job and you have demonstrated they need you, your income can rise.

Let’s Get Started!

Jeff

Short Job Search Poem

One of my obsessive compulsive activities I do consciously and unconsciously is to rhyme or riddle.  It is something I have done for as long as I can remember.  This can be viewed as both a negative or a positive.  Maybe I should have been a rapper because I can insert most any word into what I am saying or find something that rhymes with it.  My kids think I am a bit strange but fun.

So here is a little diddle about job searching:

Every day is a struggle
Getting out of my bubble
I roll over once again
Ignoring the need-to-do.
I do like to do and do and do
I feel like I accomplished
Not a big thing today
But I did accomplish.
 
I look back on my week
And wonder where the time has gone
I should have done X
I REALLY wanted to do Y
Instead I accomplished
What I got done.
I will do better next week
When I am fresh again.
 
No one knows
Just me, myself and I.
Maybe others know
But do they care?
Do they care about what I hide
Or do they keep passing by
Without a nod or wink.
Why should they help me think?
Why should they volunteer?
I am hidden, in my own world
Far away because I like it that way.
Maybe I should not…or maybe I should just try and speak.

Let’s Get Started!

Jeff

Do You Need More Career Advice?

I don’t think you do.  You probably already know what to do with your job search.  You have heard all the news about it being tough out there, how you need to network, how your resume should say your accomplishments and how it might take a long time to find what you are looking for.  So what are you waiting for….more advice?

Let’s cut the garbage and get serious.  You are in charge of what is next not anyone else.  Maybe you are frustrated.  Maybe you are depressed.  Maybe you are confused.  I don’t know but what I do know is you won’t get any better by surfing websites all day and chasing rabbits down rabbit holes.  Chasing rabbits is what I term you reading stories, checking email, checking Facebook or spending more than an afternoon on redesigning your resume.  Get serious.  Get going.

My wife read me a Chinese proverb last night while we were driving back from getting some dinner at the local Whole Foods.  It said:  “Be not afraid of moving forward, but of standing still.”  Stop standing still and start moving forward.  Even if moving forward doesn’t work or is wrong that is ok.  You are smart and will figure it out along the way.

Chasing rabbits is standing still.  You don’t need more career advice, you need to start moving forward.  Here are 10 ideas to get you moving forward:

1. Volunteer your time to help someone out or a small business in need.

2. Call five people who you have been meaning to call and ask to meet them for lunch or coffee or invite them and their family over for dinner.

3. Call three of your old co-workers and see what they are doing.

4. Plan to leave the house every day and try to meet one new person.  Go where you are comfortable and talk about the weather.

5. Start a hobby you have been meaning to do for years.  Take a class, join a group, lead a program and go meet other people.

6. Make Christmas cookies for five of your neighbors and invite them over for an afternoon no matter how you feel about them.

7. Dress up in moderately nice clothing and go visit two companies you would be interested in working for.  Ask them for a brochure of their services and introduce yourself.

8. Take someone elses dog for a walk (if you don’t have one).  Take her to a dog park and introduce yourself to one new person.

9. Ask your five closest friends or family members or neighbors how they found their last job and listen to their answers.

10. Plan your next day the night before and STICK with it.  Planning and sticking with it is more important for your emotions (head and heart) than your job search.

Stop looking for more advice and start moving forward…right now.  Get out and get moving no matter where it takes you.

Let’s Get Started!

Jeff

Career Planning 1, 2, 3

Career planning comes in many forms and fashions.  Let’s first discuss what makes a great career.  A great career provides you with the right mix of pieces that make your working life perfect for you.  Not perfect for your mother or your spouse or your situation, but perfect for Y-O-U.  You are what matters here pretty much not anyone else.  You are going to be spending over one-quarter to one-third of your life (120,000 hours) doing “it” (your job/career) so you better make sure “it” is centered on what you want out of your life and not someone else.

I have been hearing a great song lately that I think you should read one of the main lines.  It states:  “…don’t close your eyes.  This is your life.  Are you who you want to be?”  It is by a group named Switchfoot and it really hits home to remind you that yesterday is over and you are determining your own path.  You should not close your eyes and just let life happen to you.

I am not suggesting you should go ahead and quit a job or make a drastic change if you are not in the right situation now.  I am suggesting if you are not in the right situation for Y-O-U then you need to start planning your steps to change your career and start experiencing the life you dreamed of.  Here are three easy steps to help you get started with planning your career no matter where you are at with it:

Step 1:  Pick one career path you want to explore and go explore it.  You can only do one thing at a time anyways so just pick one path and start learning if it is right for you.  So maybe you have three or four or even ten areas you want to explore.  So what?  You better get started now otherwise you will never do it.  One at a time now…

Step 2:  Learn and experience everything you can about that new direction.  This is the easy part because you can find people who are doing what you want to do, visit them, ask good questions and learn from what they did right and what they did wrong.  Take classes, visit businesses or places where you can see this job being done.  This is where you research if this is the right choice for you.  Take as much time as you need.

Step 3:  Once you find a new career path, find a way to transfer your current skill set to this new path.  Most of the time there is a way to do it but you might have to take a pay cut or move down a rung or two on the ladder.  That is ok.  This is normal and most of the time a temporary situation.  Take on a second job or sell some stuff on Craigslist part-time.  Find a way to make it work.

These three easy steps will help you determine if a particular job path is right for you.  This is career planning 101 and should not require too much thought.  Your fears and current living situation might try to get in the way and create a roadblock to your success.  That is normal too.  Roll with each of the roadblocks that come up and smash through them.  In career planning, I think of roadblocks as things put in the way to determine if you are serious about your decisions.  Everything has a good and a bad component.  The roadblocks will help you decide if you are willing to handle the tough part of this new career.

Let’s Get Started!

Jeff

What Career Should I Do?

This is a great question for both young and old.  My guess is if this is a question that is swirling around in your head, you are probably early on in your job search.  You are contemplating where you should go with your working life.  It can be both exciting and a not-so-exciting time depending on how you look at it.

So if you are in the beginning of your career and trying to figure out what direction to go in, my first words of advice are:  “DON’T GO INTO DEBT”.  This is not a financial blog…I know.  It is a blog for job search and how to build a career that you can enjoy and pay you dividends throughout your life.  The reason I start with the debt-free-phrase is because if you get too far in the hole (too much debt) your career decisions will be pushed aside so you can make enough money to “live on” or to “make ends meet”.

Debt can really alter how you answer the question:  “What Career Should I Do?” because it reduces your choices down to instead:  “I have to make X amount of money to pay for my __________________ (fill in the blank with car, school, house, rent, lifestyle, etc.).  Se how it works?  Your debt will start making decisions for you instead of you making them yourself.  It is like the guy (or gal) at the bank (where you loaned your money) is telling you what career you should do.  Yikes…don’t let them do that to you, ever!

So instead when you are starting out your working life Or if you have gotten yourself into a pickle as you have gotten older), spend a few years at home or sharing an apartment with others or whatever you can do to pay off all your debts first.  Once you do then the noose around your neck that tells you what direction to go in will be gone.  You will be free to roam out there in the world and explore career options to your heart’s content.

It is really a great feeling and truly one of the most important things you can do to help you decide what career should to do.  Once you are free from any financial pressure, you can start to explore your options by starting low in a company to see if it is right for you.  Try to start a small business and make a difference in people’s lives.  You can travel the globe and explore what is beyond.  You can stop and smell the roses a lot more than the average worker.  You decide and not anyone else.

If you don’t know what career you should do, then unpack why you are unsure.  If it is because of the pressure you have created, then get rid of it.  Finding the best career for you to do is a life long exploration.  Explore without anything tying you down.

Let’s Get Started!

Jeff

Job Search Tips

Today I have to post this blog post by another blogger/writer/marketing extraordinaire.  His name is Seth Godin and if you have never heard of him, I think you might want to review his writings.  He is geared more for the marketing or business professional who is thinking about customers, clients and how to run a business more efficiently.

He also tackles job seeker topics.  This one is really good and want you to read it.  It is not the “everything you should know” post for job seekers but he hits on some very important parts that every job seeker needs to think about.  The one part I think is important is where he describes the job landscape out there and the difference between Fortune 500 jobs (declining) and small business opportunities (increasing).  The best jobs are ones you can make a difference at not be a cog in a wheel.

Enjoy…

How to get a job with a small company

Most advice about job seeking is oriented around big companies. The notion
of a standard resume, of mass mailings, of dealing with the HR department–even
the idea of interviews–is all built around the Fortune 500.

Alas, the Fortune 500 has been responsible for a net loss in jobs over the last
twenty years. All the growth (and your best chance to get hired) is from
companies you’ve probably never heard of. And when the hirer is also the owner,
the rules are very different.
1. Learn to sell. Everyone has sold something, some time, even if it’s just
selling your mom on the need for a nap when you were three years old. A lot of
people have decided that they don’t want to sell, can’t sell, won’t sell, but
those same people need to understand that they’re probably not going to get a
job doing anything but selling.

Small businesses always need people who can sell, because selling pays for
itself. It’s not an expense, it’s a profit center.

2. Learn to write. Writing is a form of selling, one step removed. There’s more
writing in business today than ever before, and if you can become a persuasive
copywriter, you’re practically a salesperson, and even better, your work
scales.
3. Learn to produce extraordinary video and multimedia. This is just like
writing, but for people who don’t like to read. Even better, be sure to mix
this skill with significant tech skills. Yes, you can learn to code. The fact
that you don’t feel like it is one reason it’s a scarce skill.

Now that you’ve mastered these skills (all of which take time and guts but no
money), understand the next thing about small businesses–they aren’t hiring to
fill a slot. Unlike a big company with an org chart and pay levels, the very
small business is an organism, not a grid. The owner is far more likely to
bring in a freelancer or someone working on spec than she is to go run a classified
help wanted ad.

And many small businesses are extremely bad at taking initiative that feels
like risk. They’d rather fill orders than take a chance and go out prospecting
for a person who represents a risk. And that’s your opportunity.

When you show up and offer to go prospecting on spec, offer to contribute a
website or a sales letter or some sales calls–with no money on the table–many
small business people will take you up on it, particularly if they are
cash-strapped, profit-oriented and know you by reputation. (Please don’t
overlook that last one).

Hint: don’t merely show up and expect a yes. It’s something you earn over
time…

The rest is easy. Once you demonstrate that you contribute far more than you
cost, now it’s merely a matter of figuring out a payment schedule.

This is probably far more uncertainty and personal branding than most job
seekers are comfortable with. Which is precisely why it works.

Let’s Get Started!

Career Planning – To Plan or Not To Plan

If you look back on your career to date in terms of what direction it has taken, what do you see?  Do you see a well thought out program where you decided on a job in high school or college and that is what you have been doing ever since?  I don’t know about you but when I look at my career (now 42 years old) I see an ever-changing shift in direction.  Does all that mean I am a flake…well maybe…but probably not.

There are two lines of thinking on this subject.  One group thinks you should plan out every step of the way and keep to that plan.  The other group thinks you should plan a little but let the “winds of change” take over and move you through uncharted territory.

I don’t know the answer to this question.  What I do know is both seem to offer different and wonderful experiences.  In talking to job seekers over the years I know both groups have their issues.  The group who had it all planned out many times made those plans with an immature mindset.  The decisions were made early in life when they had not experienced all that much.  Later they wished they had done something else.  All the while the ones who let changes happen to them felt like they were out of control with their career and wished they could have planned better so they weren’t thrown back and forth from one job to another.

Now these groups are not as so well-defined as I portray them.  There are many missing pieces to each but the one thing that holds true is both groups may not be satisfied with where they are (in their career) as they are getting older.  Priorities change, desires change, and needs change over time.  It is virtually impossible to plan for all the changes that happen in one’s career…and I don’t think you really should.

So should you embark in a serious career planning project or not?  I say yes and no.  At all points in your career you should be assessing if what you are doing and who you are working for (or if self-employed – working for yourself) is helping to take you to where you want to go.  If they are then a big “high-five” (slap) to you.  You are on the right track.  If you are not moving forward but feel stagnant and possibly moving backwards, then maybe it is time for a change.

I personally get about three to five years out of a job for another company then poop out.  I am ready to make a change.  When the “thrill is gone” wall hits you, sometimes you need to change.  On the other hand what you might need to do is push through the wall.  Sometimes people cut and run when they hit a wall.  If you run away when the going gets a little tough, that will continue to happen throughout your life.  Maybe now is the time to push through to the other side and see what it feels like.

No one can answer this question for you.  But at each stage of your career you give yourself honest feedback on where you are heading and if the job you are currently doing isn’t taking you there, then maybe it is time to move on.  Quitting and moving on is ok and actually really important.  Quitting is more important than winning.  If you cannot quit the things (or jobs) that are not working for you, then you might not ever win in the end.

So what if you are not sure where you are heading?  That is a tough one because I do understand that challenge.  Knowing “what you want to do with your life” is a daunting challenge we all face.  Maybe stop taking about that very heavy question so seriously and just look for your next step.  Push yourself to find a new situation (or expand your current one) and see where that takes you.  Career planning to get out of a poor situation and into a good one is not the biggest of plans but it is still planning.

Don’t stop planning…you can do it in bite-sized chunks or on a large-scale.  Both work very well.

Let’s Get Started!

Jeff

Online Careers Advice

Where do you typically go for advice?  Do you go to your parents, your spouse or a friend?  Does it depend on what you are looking for?  It does for me.

Watch out for Online Careers Advice from just anyone.  There are tons of websites out there with good things to say about what you should do with your life or how you should do it.  I am guilty of that as well.  Instead of seeking online advice for what career or careers you should consider, stop.  Stop looking for advice.  Instead, spend some time listing the top two or three things you want to do.  Then go find them.

Stop looking for someone to wake you up or tell you what you should be doing or give you some generic list of “top five things you need to find the perfect job” advice.  Stop, stop and stop doing it right now!  Do I sound like your mother?

I want you to spend your time doing and not looking for advice, help or assistance.  Go out and do something.  Meet new people.  Volunteer to help out with a program at your church, neighborhood, your office, wherever.  Get out and meet new people and put yourself in new situations.  Once you are there talk to people.  Ask about the weather or what they do for a living.  So it sounds cliche…who cares.  It is part of creating connections.

Once you pick the one or two things you most want to do with your working life, then talk to other people who are doing it or talk about it with other people who are not doing it and ask if they know anyone doing it you can talk to.  Talk to people.  Make phone calls.  Ask good questions to learn and expand your horizons.  This is what a job search is all about…or n-e-t-w-o-r-k-i-n-g.  (I still hate that word btw)

I care about you and your job search.  I care so much it hurts me to see you just spinning your wheels and thinking and asking for advice.  I don’t think you need anymore online careers advice.  I think you are ready to get out there.  Push yourself out of the nest and…

fly…be free…explore….make mistakes…learn….repeat.

Let’s Get Started!

Jeff

Objective For Resume

Does anyone use and Objective for their resume anymore?  The answer is a Big Fat No.  No way.  No how.  Objective for resume are the “old school” way of building a resume.  If you are still using them.  S-T-O-P!

Sorry to be so rough on the poor little objective statement but I want to be clear if you are thinking you should add one, you are probably a little out of touch with what is required in an updated resume.  Resumes are not about you.  I keep saying this over and over again but I truly want you to understand that resumes have changed in their form and function over the years.

A quick history lesson…

Most jobs in the 1800′s and early 1900′s were found within your family or friend network.  If you were born into a family of farmers, there was a pretty good chance you were going to learn that trade from and early age.  Once the industrial revolution came about the factories and plants were looking for good people they could trust to consistently put in their time at their post whether it was in an assembly line or at a desk.  The work was consistent, mundane and required a certain skill to do it over and over again.  Factories and plants were interested in what you wanted to do with your life because their work was consistent and were looking for you to want to be there.

As the industrial revolution migrated towards a more “international” and technology focus on jobbing, less and less of the mundane work was required.  Employers were not looking to make sure you were happy but to make sure they could survive AND how you can help them survive and prosper.  They didn’t and don’t want to know what your objective in your career is as much as they care about their objective and needs.  So an Objective For Resume was and has not even been looked at.  What was needed (and still is) is someone who can fix a problem or fill in a knowledge/experience gap they have.  Resumes moved away from you being part of an already well-oiled machine, to one with increased competition which needs innovative thinking and experience.  Your objective doesn’t matter much anymore…but theirs does.

So stop thinking about your resume as about you.  It is not and probably won’t be until we get back to the mundane work again (I seriously doubt it).  Get rid of the objective for resume, pick one job title and brag about yourself with as much detail and facts as possible.  Then put the resume on your desk and go out and meet people.  You will more effectively find a new job that way and possibly without a resume.  Not everyone needs one these days.

Let’s Get Started!

Jeff