Archive for the 'unemployment' Category

Your Weekly Job Search Calendar

calendarSome unemployed people spend less than four hours a week on their job search. Some work at it even less. How does 41 minutes a day sound (see the Princeton study with that statistic)? Will a job seeker be successful with so little activity? Probably not.

Recognize this for what it is. Finding work is often harder than being employed. The skills that you need to be successful in a job search (e.g., self-marketing, interviewing, active networking) are often not the skills you use in your profession. Remember, though, that this will not be forever. Soon you will be back doing what you do best, if you work your search diligently and consistently.

To keep this from falling into the 41-minute trap (what do these people do after, say, 9:30 AM?), here are some job search foundations that you should implement today. This will keep you moving and motivated in an environment where negativity and rejection are real and ever-present.

Create a weekly plan. Plot out your activities for the week. Plan for shorter bursts of focused activity, limiting the time to no more than 90 minutes per task. People cannot maintain strong focus longer than this, so plan your work in blocks. Factor in short breaks, exercise, family obligations, meals and all of the other distractions (Facebook, anyone?) and priorities. Remember to invest at least 30 hours a week in yourself with an intense job search.

Rotate through your activities, matching the task to the best times. I am an early riser, often on social media at around 6AM. This would be fine in a job search because you want to have a social media/online presence, and it is less time dependent than other priorities. Your people-centered activities – phone calls, informational interviews, cold canvassing – need to be done during business hours. Don’t be hanging out on LinkedIn when you should be meeting and talking with people.

Click Here For 21 Use-Them-Now LinkedIn Tips

Get dressed and out of the house. You will not find a job with online activities alone. Get going at the same time every day, get a shower, get dressed and be ready for the business of your search. If you are targeting a job or function where you can drop in and apply in person, do that. Join networking groups. Check for services, job search teams, workshops and seminars at your state’s employment office, public library or faith communities (many see this as a vital and viable ministry).

Track your results. They say if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. In this case, you have to manage yourself. Hold yourself accountable to your plan. Don’t accept your own excuses. If you didn’t make your calls today, add them into tomorrow. There is no boss hovering over your head to force a deadline. Instead, you need to be accountable to yourself and those who depend on you.

Celebrate and rest. When you get to the end of your week, review your results. How much time did you spend on your search? How many people did you contact who could help you find a job? If you are pleased with your effort and results, celebrate! Give yourself a high-five. Take the weekend off, rest, recharge, and do something else to restore yourself.  Get ready to do it again on Monday.

The job search does not offer much positive reinforcement. There is a lot of rejection. It really is no fun. But when the good things happen, they make all of the difference. Unlike so many other areas of life where there are degrees of success, the job search is more binary, more black/white, job/no job. Recognize it, face it head on and work hard. Good things will happen for you.

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Are you using social media to find a job? Here are some pointers on using it more effectively to manage your career.

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Bill Florin CEIP CPRW is President of Resu-mazing Services Company.

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You Are Not Your Job

“I thought when I lost my job, I had lost my lifeline.”

This thought was shared by a person in a social media group that I visit once in a while. Fortunately, the person who said it went on to say, “No way!” She realized that there was much more to her life than her job. It was a refreshing to witness her resilience.

As I work with people at all stages in their careers, including recent and long-term unemployed, I hear this concern. People say, “I thought I was going to retire from there. Then I got laid off” Or, “It was so devastating to be let go. My whole life was wrapped up in my job.” It’s understandable, especially as we work so hard and are asked to do more with less. Because we don’t have time to consider alternatives, we don’t. That can lead to soul-crushing experiences as these people described.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Work is just one part of our lives. It is also temporary and subject to rapid, disorienting change. What seemed like a secure position in a great company can become history after a bad year or quarter. A big customer leaves and headcount (that’s you) gets reduced. Do you want to be defined by something that can be taken away so easily, or by more lasting things?

Only you can define you, and there is so much more that makes you who you are besides where you get your paycheck. Yes, we all want to contribute and do our best for our employers, but that should not come at the expense of all else.

Our families, friends, activities, community involvement, and faith practices are all important. The way we treat each other and the good that we do to improve our world need to be in the mix, too. Those two in particular should fall higher in our priorities than our job titles and the name on the paycheck.

You job is something you do, not who you are. It’s something worth remembering on the tough days.

 

Six Crucial Job Search Tactics

With so many job search options, where do you start? That was a question I received from a client yesterday, and one that’s worth a few lines of digital ink. After all, with the many job search sites showing duplicate content, often the same jobs scraped from other sites, it can be confusing and frustrating. Here is what I offered him, and I hope it helps you.

First, start with people you know. If you have a new résumé, you have a terrific reason to contact everyone in your network. Try this: “Hi Mary! I just reworked my résumé and I was hoping that you could take a moment to look at it. I respect your opinion and will appreciate any feedback you have. Thanks!” You can do that by email or phone. If your contact in your network is real, she probably won’t mind doing this for you. Follow up with a thank you and ask her to keep you in mind or pass your résumé along to anyone she thinks would be appropriate.

Identify target companies. Pick some companies that you want to work for. Make a list. Follow them through LinkedIn, Twitter and their corporate sites. Work your LinkedIn network to find someone inside the company you know, or a 2nd level connection to whom you could be introduced. Use Glassdoor and news searches to learn as much about the company as possible. Expand your list as you consider similar companies that you come to learn about in your research.

Pick a single search site, and work it. This is probably going to be your least productive tool, but an effective job search is like our national energy policy: All of the above. Decide which site you like best (See Resu-mazing’s useful sites: http://www.resu-mazing.com/Useful_Sites.html) and get to know it well. Set up search agents. If you are not currently employed, consider posting your résumé to make it searchable and findable by recruiters.

Don’t forget your LinkedIn profile. When your résumé is fresh and new, use it to update your LinkedIn profile. Set your privacy settings to allow you to be found by recruiters.

[See my LinkedIn e-booklet for tons of useful information to create a better profile.]

Remember keywords. As you search and read job postings, you will see the same words and phrases in the descriptions and qualifications. Do your LI profile and résumé reflect what employers need? If not, tune it up. Find different ways to describe your work and results, incorporating the key words that you identify.

Identify recruiters in your field. Remember that recruiters are paid by the employers, not by the candidates, so they are not going to work hard to find you a job. It is up to you to monitor their web sites and establish relationships so that you can present your résumé when they are working on a placement for which you are a credible candidate.

Here’s the straight story. Jobs can come from any of the channels described above. While it is true that personal connections and networking (social recruiting) will produce the best results, companies still find and hire people coming to them from advertising. If they didn’t, why would they spend the time and money doing it? I see good things happen all the time.

Work hard at your search, keep your activities going in each of the areas and stay positive. The interviews and opportunities will come.

Bill Florin, CPRW, is President of Resu-mazing Services Company in Monroe, Connecticut USA.

Your Résumé is Foundational

60 Minutes ran a piece profiling the Platform to Employment program in Fairfield County, CT. In one clip, a lecturer tears a résumé in half, proclaiming it obsolete. Ironically, the same piece shows job seekers practice interviewing with the interviewer reviewing the résumé. Go figure. Articles appear from time to time proclaiming the death of the résumé. Did you waste your time and maybe some money creating and optimizing your résumé? No! It is a foundational piece of your search. Here’s why.

Your résumé is your mandatory ticket into meetings with recruiters and hiring managers. Can you imagine what would happen to the candidate who shows up empty-handed for the interview? “Do I have a résumé? No. You can Google me instead and find my web presence.” This would likely be the shortest and most awkward interview of all time.

[See my series of interviewing advice stories: Questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, One Question and Awareness & Adaptability.]

Your résumé is a marketing document. The document tells your story and allows others to present and introduce you to others. I frequently get requests that sound like this: “A friend of mine asked me to send him my résumé so that he could pass it along to his boss.” A LinkedIn profile address might work in this scenario, but maybe not. Note that people are asking for résumés, not Klout scores.

The résumé writing process forces you to clarify your experiences and accomplishments. This, in turn, makes you better prepared for interviewing. The hard work of thinking about your career, identifying the most important results and accomplishments, and putting it all into your résumé forces you to reflect upon, rank and organize your thoughts.

LinkedIn profiles are built off of your résumé. Let’s keep this simple and talk about LinkedIn. You can either upload your résumé and have the system automatically build your profile, or you can fill in blocks that look very much like a traditional chronological résumé. The “obsolete” résumé is the foundation of your profile.

[Get your free e-booklet: LinkedIn Start Up & Tune Up]

Keep that résumé sharp, polished and up-to-date. Be sure that it grabs the reader’s attention in the first few sentences. Don’t worry about it being obsolete. The old-fashioned résumé still has a lot of life and many uses.

Bill Florin, CPRW, is President of Resu-mazing Services Company in Monroe, Connecticut.

Awareness & Adaptability

Here is the tough truth about interviewing: every interviewer, company and day is different. The personalities of the people in the interview – whether in person, on the phone, or by video conference – will sway the encounter. You may have done all of your research and feel that you know the questions you are going to face, only to be disappointed and surprised by an unanticipated angle or a completely different line of questions. That’s where your awareness and adaptability become critical.

Awareness of Your History. Having a detailed awareness of your career history and accomplishments is mandatory. Only you know your story. If you have carefully reviewed your history as you wrote or refined your resume and have updated your LinkedIn profile with your best stuff, you have made a tremendous step in the right direction. By thinking about and reflecting on your accomplishments for these career marketing activities, you will help yourself to have the awareness, memories and stories ready to go for an interview.

Awareness of the Organization’s Culture. This important step is one that is often overlooked by job seekers. Most companies share a lot about their culture and priorities in very open and public ways. Read everything on the company’s career/employment web sites. If possible, get to know people in the organization and learn from them. Then take the step of thinking about how you can best craft your stories in a way that will resonate with your interviewer. Here is an example. Target Corporation lives by the motto “Fast, Fun & Friendly.” If you know this, you could consider how your career stories could be told in a way that show your quick and determined action to resolve a business problem or to exploit an opportunity while staying focused on customer service or employee engagement.

Adapting to the Question. You will have to take your stories and adapt them quickly during an interview. For example, you may be prepared with three stories of accomplishments and you might even have some thoughts of the order in which you would like to tell them. Your interviewer may ask a situational question that changes the order of your stories and the angle you take. Only by knowing your stories well will you be able to adapt. Your interviewer may ask, “Tell me about a time that you saved your company money and please be specific.” If you have a story that fits the question, you can tell the interviewer about the situation, your specific actions and the outcome. If you don’t have the stories memorized and ready, you may stumble through this question and give a weak or poorly told example.

Adapting to the Atmosphere. As mentioned earlier, every interview will be different, and you need to be ready. You could face a one-on-one interview, a small group or a large panel. The interview may be conversational or very formal. It might even include numerous introductions and short interactions. Your emotional intelligence receptors must be on full alert to understand the dynamic and to adapt as needed. By knowing your material and your stories very well, you can devote more of your energy to this critical element and less to the hard work of recalling your stories.

You need to know your stories and must be ready to share them in detail and in a way that addresses the question you face and in a way that is appropriate for the environment. Make the effort to review and reflect on your performance so that you will be ready to adapt as needed. The work that you do will be worth it.

Other articles to help you prepare to interview:

Question 5: Why did you leave?

Question 4: When have you failed?

Question 3: Your greatest accomplishment?

Bill Florin, CPRW is the President of Resu-mazing Service Company.

Question 5: Why Did You Leave?

Chances are that this will be asked sooner rather than later in your next interview. It’s a natural and obvious query, especially if you left your last job without having a new one. Here are some pointers based on different situations.

Layoff. This is the easiest of the bunch, especially if the job loss happened because your employer failed or shrunk. I recently worked with a client who was caught in the 6,000 person layoff from BlackBerry maker Research in Motion. If this is your situation, no worries! Tell the story in a sentence or two. Then describe how you can apply what you learned in your last job to help your new employer. If it was a large layoff – either in absolute numbers or as a percentage of the company workforce – tell the numbers. 6,000 is a big number. 10 is a big number, too, if the company only had 18 people.

You Quit – Personal/Medical. People quit for many reasons. Family and medical issues, spouse’s job change, changes in family status (e.g. divorce) and other personal reasons are all drivers in the decision to leave. If this is your story, tell the truth, but be brief.

Here is an example of what to say: “I had to deal with some medical issues in my family that required full-time attention. That is now behind me and I am ready to focus my energies on my career once again.” Note how this positions your story. You are telling the interviewer that there was a medical (or family) issue, but you are not saying that it was you. A professional interviewer will take that answer and move on.

Here’s what not to say: “I was diagnosed with cancer and when through six months of radiation and chemo treatments.” Do not share these details! Your interviewer does not need to know and you do not need to share.

Be concise. Be brief. Keep it high-level. The more detail you are giving, the worse you are doing.

You Quit – It was the Job/Boss. This will require some creative thinking, with the requirement that you do not lie. Employers dig and dig, checking with your references and reviewing social media. Have you ever complained about your boss or job on Facebook, your blog, LinkedIn or in some other public forum? If so, you have to assume that the employer has already seen it. Deal with it.

Did you outgrow the position? Were you being challenged and allowed to contribute to your potential? If not, these are valid reasons for seeking other opportunities. Try this: “I realized that I had developed to the point that I needed to seek opportunities that were not available in that company. Rather than trying to find a new job while being employed there, something that would have distracted me and would have been unfair to the company, I decided to leave and launch a full-time search for my next position where I can contribute my best every day.” You will have to put this is your own words, of course, but this should give you a launching point for your thoughts.

Was your boss a jerk? Keep it to yourself. Never speak poorly of your past company or the people, no matter how much you may want to.

You Were Fired. If you were fired for performance, you are going to have to do some work. Is it possible that your performance suffered because of one of the issues above? If so, maybe you need to think about the experience, how your personal issues may have contributed to your termination, and what you learned from it. Guess what? People who have been fired find jobs. The trick is to learn from the negative experience, reflect upon the situation and what you did or didn’t do that led to that outcome, and what you can do differently in the future.

Here is one possible answer. “My performance was not what it should have been as I was dealing with some family/personal concerns. Frankly, I don’t blame the company for letting me go. I am happy to say that all of that is behind me, I learned a great deal from it, and I am excited to get back to work.”

Don’t forget that your whole career is much more than your most recent experience. If you had a solid history before, use that. “My most recent position was a stretch that didn’t end the way that I wanted, but I learned from it and have so much to offer from my entire career, including promotions and career advancement. Let’s talk about how I can contribute and make a difference here.

In the end, you have to decide on the story you will tell and the words that will sound best.

Finally, keep smiling and answer the questions honestly and directly. You can anticipate these questions, so you must prepare and practice your answers. Preparation will keep your stress under control and you will seem more confident to the interviewer. Be ready!

Here are other useful interview question articles. Good luck in your search!

Awareness & Adaptability: Be ready to pivot. Know your stories.

Question 1: Tell Me About Yourself

Question 2: Why Do You Want to Work Here?

Question 3: Tell Me About Your Greatest Accomplishment

Question 4: When Have You Failed?

What If There’s Just One Question?

Social Media Inventory: Unfriend a Few?

LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media can kill your career search. Or, they can be a profoundly helpful. The contributions to your search and the arch of your career are very much up to you. Understanding the importance of these platforms (see this CNN story for a reminder) should give the job hunter the motivation to do some repair work and to take a more proactive stance for future use before it’s too late.

First, understand that it is too late when you have already started an active job search. Should you be fortunate enough to have your résumé get past the applicant tracking system (ATS) and seen by a human, there is a good chance that your social media presence will be reviewed before you get a call for an interview. Your LinkedIn profile and Facebook page are just the beginning. Consider every social media tool that you use, including any comments or interactions that you use with your real name. All of this is very discoverable by drilling down past the first Google search screen.

The time to start is before you start a job search. At the least, review your pages on the big platforms (LI, FB, etc.) Use this criteria as you consider what your presence is saying about you: “If I did not know me, would I want to add me to this employer’s team based on what I am seeing?” If there are posts and pictures and links that leave you uncomfortable with the answer to that question, delete them now.

Next, consider how some of that material got there in the first place. Are your friends and family taking pictures of you and tagging you in ways that will not help your job hunt? If so, ask them to refrain. If they can’t or won’t or just do not understand the reason why, consider blocking or deleting those people during your search so that they can’t continue. If these people are true friends, they will understand. If not, well…

Set some rules for yourself on how and why you will use social media. Those rules may vary from platform to platform. I use LinkedIn and Twitter only for professional uses. Facebook is where I have fun and goof around with my friends and family. No matter what, think long and hard before posting anything that could be controversial or uncomfortable. You may have strong political views. Fine. Choose another outlet for your passions while job hunting. Facebook will be there after you get the new gig.

Finally, be strategic in the future – starting today – with your use of the social media. If you have rules set for yourself on what material goes to which channel, take it to the next step and plan the quality, quantity and timing of your interactions. If you are working to build your brand as an expert in a field, think about and develop content that helps achieve that goal (this blog is an example). If it doesn’t do that, don’t waste your time and that of others with low-value material.

Social media is our new reality. Be diligent and consistent in your interactions in this part of your professional ecosystem. The standard is simple: If your online presence is not helping you, it is hurting.

Bill Florin, CPRW is President of Resu-mazing Services Company. Contact Bill for help with your job search, career management and personal brand questions.