Are we there yet? Are we there? How about now?

What parent hasn’t heard this chant before?  Don’t you remember as a kid going on a road trip…. impatience consuming your every moment.

I’ve found myself  asking the same question about our economy.   And I know I’m not alone.

Are we there yet?   Are we finally on the up swing?  Has the bottom come and gone?

The good news;  YES companies ARE beginning to hire again. 

YES they ARE creating NEW jobs…. and while all this is encouraging news, the unemployment rate is still very high – however you chose to spin the numbers.

The high unemployment rate means the competition for each open job is tighter than it has been in the past.  Companies have a great selection of candidates which they can match their hiring requirements.

So who are the companies that ARE hiring?  And who’s getting the jobs?  

Obviously not all industries are coming back the same as they were.  There has been a lot of verticals hit hard.  This makes a larger segment of the population who are now having face something they haven’t had to do in the past. 

“CAREER CHANGE”

For those facing the hard truth about what to do for future prosperity, it’s difficult.  And accepting that a career change is the answer may be the hardest part.  If you’ve been working in a field for 10+ years the thought of making a change is gut wrenching and can be scary. 

It’s difficult to figure out what to transition into next.    And once you identify what you want to, figuring out HOW to make the transition can be frustrating, but NOT impossible. 

Whatever you do, don’t panic.  Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

1. Join a local networking group.  Start by gathering information about what people do and their skill sets.   Find out where people work and see if any of those industries seem interesting to you.  You may notice a few people with the same skill sets that you have but doing something different.  You might even find it’s  easier than you think after you learn more about what other’s do in their daily career. 

TIP: If you don’t have a local one to join, form one with the folks that were laid off with you.  It’s a good way to pass job leads to one another and give moral support.

2. Another good way to prepare yourself for a switch is by finding a good career coach or counselor.  Make sure you find someone good and experienced with “career transition”.  Interview them first so that you find the “right” fit for YOU.  It’s a good way to take control of YOUR own career situation as well.   It might seem like a big investment in the short-term, it’s a solid one for long-term. 

TIP: If you’ve been laid off by an employer, see if   offer any outplacement services for people like you.  Sometimes your former employer will cover a certain amount of career coaching services within a certain period after your lay off date.  But don’t delay because there is typically a time frame that you are bound by.

3. Another great way to transition into a  new career is by working with a staffing agency (or two or three!).  Often times staffing agencies will take a look at your overall skill set to better match you for their assignments.  Be flexible so that you can gain a level of experience and build up your resume.   I recommend you also take advantage of any computer based training staffing agencies offer typically at no charge.  It might mean you spend a few hours in their office but it could be a huge leap in your skill set AND building a relationship with the office recruiters.

TIP: Be NICE!  The easier you are to work with the better your chances of them calling you for their assignments.  It pays to build good rapport with the branch recruiters and it could take you a long way if they like you.

4. If you are a more introverted career change candidate there are TONS self-help books and blogs on the subject.  Check out the reviews before you buy books and ask others for their own personal recommendations.  There are A LOT of people who have gone through career changes in their lifetime, so remember that you are not alone.

I know a lot of people landing jobs right now.  Some of them are back doing what they’ve done for years. But a huge segment of people are choosing to do new career things not by choice…. and you know what?   It’s working for them; it’s been a good thing. 

So are you there yet?   How about now?

May 16, 2010 at 11:58 pm 1 comment

A funny thing happened on the way to my blog….

…… a funny thing called “pocrastination” ….

This year my New Year’s resolution was to blog more “regularly”…. Yep, I got off to a really good start now didn’t I?

But here’s the deal, we all procrastinate to some degree. 

And it’s not that we are only put off the things we don’t want to do, but we also put off the things we WANT to do.  It’s some sort of  “internal roadblock” or fear of success.  

I talk with so many people actively job hunting and running into major road blocks.  Typically what I hear is that they aren’t doing A LOT of things that they should be doing to land a job.  Not everyone is on LinkedIn for instance.  Or they are on LinkedIn but they don’t know how to properly use it.

The other day I met a guy who worked for years in Finance.  He had been laid off last year by a large Fortune 500 company.  When I asked about his job hunt he told me that his resume was ALL over the job boards:  Yahoo, Monster, Career Builder…. You name the job board he was there. 

My next question was “Is it working?”

No, he’s still unemployed and his inbox is full of Spam and Phishing emails.

This guy is a Senior Accountant with years of experience.   His background makes for a hot candidate in the recruiting world. Any Finance Recruiter would love to market his skill set and background PLUS he’s formed a networking group with the other finance folks that were laid off with him.

So I went on to ask him if he was using social media to find a new role.   The answer was obvious an obvious one.  No he wasn’t. 

He told me that he was frustrated by all the fake jobs and spam solicitation that have been coming his way from the job boards and no good job roles. 

And guess what?  He can’t be found on LinkedIn… he’s not using the corporate pages on Facebook or following some of the great job search blogs… he is relying solely on job boards.

This finance guy is smart.  He knows he needs to try something new if he wants to achieve a different result.  But something is stopping him from achieving a successful job hunt.  What that is I can’t tell you, but it’s definitely there.

What’s holding you back from achieving your goals? 

My own procrastination ends today with this new blog post!

May 7, 2010 at 4:43 pm Leave a comment

The Outdoor Shower

flea market finds 054

It seems like every where you look these days its doom & gloom….

… foreclosures, jobless reports, retail sales down, property values decline, bailouts, unemployment rates, divorce, plant closures, tax increases, politics, crime rates…..

Feel yourself getting consumed?  Over whelmed with bad news & forecasts?   

STOP for minute. 

It’s far to  easy to let all the bad news get to you & this will only show during that important interview.   Or it will come out in your job performance or worse yet your personal life.  

Sometimes it helps to go back to your roots.  Something that grounds you, gets you out of the bad news rut.   This takes me back to the VERY old farmhouse where I grew up.    A farmhouse with the shower outside.  Rain or shine.

As primitive this shower is, there is nothing more liberating & refreshing than warm water hitting the chill of your skin under the moonlight.   It takes you back to a simpler time. 

Reaching for shampoo, you pray that thing you just brushed off the bottle was just a leaf….. you may have seen a huge garden spider earlier in the day. 

My point is simple; if YOU let stress rule your life it will control YOUR situation. 

It’s up to YOU to get it back.

I realize that things might not be going your way.  It’s really bad for a lot of people right now, but what YOU can do today will ultimately dictate a good outcome.    You might not be able to make that perfect job materialize but you can control your attitude & action plan.

Go to YOUR outdoor shower.

What YOU can do is take a step back, clear your head & regain your professional and/or personal footing.

Sometimes this means taking a “job” that’s not your “career”.   It pays those monthly bills so that you can take a financial breath while you continue your “career” hunt.   Or maybe it’s taking a trip back to mom & dad’s house for an emotional break & some good home cooking. 

OR It’s a great time to have coffee with that old friend you haven’t had time for in years.  That old friend takes you back to a simpler time & place which helps you regroup with a little inflection.

Maybe YOUR outdoor shower is an art class that you’ve been too busy to take.  Art can be an excellent form of expression & it may just provide you with that sense of accomplishment you need right now in your life.  OR you could find a new career path develop out of a hobby.

I’m thankful my mother finally put a door up.

What does your outdoor shower look like?

flea market finds 057

November 1, 2009 at 7:14 pm 3 comments

Is it just me or is it Halloween already?

 

gold bug mine trunk or treat 2009 044

Trick or Treating is a lot like job hunting.

It’s already Halloween time and I haven’t written my usual blog postings for the past two weeks. I’ve been busy planning for the infamous BOO holiday. All Hallow’s Eve is my absolute favorite time of year and it takes a lot hard work and time getting the festivities ready to go….

You’re wondering what the heck this has to do with job hunting.   The analogy’s coming…..

…. Kids costumes, trick or treat candy, holiday décor, Halloween crafts with the kids, treats for the kids teachers, gathering pumpkins, making the Jack O Lanterns….. and at the last minute volunteering a decorated minivan for the school’s “Trunk or Treat”…… BOO!

….. Glitter is strewn from top to bottom, a dozen trips for more glue sticks, skeleton heads, plastic spiders….. extra candy cause you might not have enough…. And now Halloween is finally here so I’m sitting here writing this blog post in between door bell rings.

Here it is!

We spend so much time and energy preparing for the holidays or our vacations or whatever in life consuming our time, but we don’t always do the same in the job hunt and/or interview.

You have to step it up a notch. Do your homework. Are you looking up the hiring manager(s) on LinkedIn? Are you reading all the company and/or product information BEFORE your interview date? Did you prepare a 30/60/90 action plan? Are you as ready as possible for the big face to face?

Have you called your friend or former co-worker that works there now to find out a little more about the company culture and what to best prepare for? Have you done a “bing” or “google” search on the folks you’ll be meeting with or the company – get over feeling like it’s stalking!  Preparing as much as possible and gathering backgrounds on whom you are meeting with could give you the upper hand over your interview competition.

Did you read the company’s annual report?  If I asked you what the stock price is, can you answer me?  Have you figured out what backgrounds they might be looking to hire? Who are their biggest competitors? Do you understand their greatest business challenge(s)?

And the list of information to gather goes on and on….

The more prepared you are, the better you’ll be on your interview. The better you are on the interview the better impression you’ll leave the hiring manager. And you want that good impression on the hiring manager in order to take the next step.

Look, kids ALWAYS know the good neighborhoods to Trick or Treat. There’s always that ONE house that stands out because they give out the BEST candy or goodie bag.  It’s the house the kids insist on going back to it year after year – they REMEMBER it well.

You want to be “that” good Trick or Treat house.

….. to this day, I remember that one house in my grandmother’s neighborhood that handed out these giant lollipops from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.  They were AMAZING treats that year …. it’s been 25+ years and I haven’t forgotten.

Same goes for that interview you just had. Which means even if you don’t get the job, make sure to send a “thank you” follow-up. Maybe you made a great impression on the hiring manager, but lost the job to an internal candidate – this happens and it happens even when we best prepare.   Do the smart thing and leave them with a lasting good impression ….. just like the good Trick or Treat house.

The next time the hiring manager has an opening, they may think of you!

I leave you with a side Trick or Treat note; Trader Joe’s has the BEST little chocolate bars this year! They are in the cutest little carnival style packaging and taste amazing dipped in fresh peanut butter…

…. how about we do a little Trick or Treating together?

halloween 2009 022

November 1, 2009 at 3:47 am Leave a comment

Keeping up with the Kardashians during the job hunt

Keeping up with the Kardashians

He completely lost me at “sir”.

 
It was his first chance to make a lasting impression and he totally blew it.

 
Clearly stated in the job description was “accurate, detail oriented, excellent communicator…” and “please contact Heather Gardner direct for immediate consideration.”

 
Had he taken the time to look me up, he would have known…. Oh “Bing” or “Google” me please!

 
It’s so easy to lose out on an opportunity by making a simple yet costly mistake. In this example he assumed Heather Gardner was male, he was being lazy or he just wasn’t paying attention.

 
Applying to open jobs is an important thing to do during an active job hunt.   Keeping track of who you respond to is even more important!  Get the name wrong might just cost you the job.  Which resume version you sent and when will help you be prepared so when the recruiter pre-screen call comes, it will likely turn into an interview.

 
You can’t over do “attention to detail” when corresponding with a perspective company, hiring manager, recruiter or human resource professional. It could make or break your chances of being considered for a role.

 
AND ….

 
SEND a “Thank you” regardless of whether you got the job.  Not only is it key to make an excellent first impression, but that last bit of communication is important as well. Keep yourself on top of mind with that hiring manager that didn’t offer you the job, because who knows what doors that might open in the future.

 
Having trouble keeping track?

 
Are you sending out introduction letters with the person’s wrong name? Get help! I always recommend http://www.jibberjobber.com/login.php as an excellent CRM tool for the active job seeker. JibberJobber.com has some pretty sophisticated components and offers webinars all the time. There’s a free and premium version.  I suggest you get on track because an excel spread sheet only goes so far…

 
What tools are helping you to keep up with the Kardashians during your job hunt?

October 13, 2009 at 8:39 pm Leave a comment

Would you hire Gladys Kravitz?

Gladys

Would you hire Gladys Kravitz?

Gladys Gravitz was the infamous “know-it-all” snoopy neighbor on Bewitched.  If you are unfamiliar with her character, you can read more about her here.

I was channeling Gladys Gravitz the other day when I read this Job Posting:

“Seeking super smart person to join our wildly successful global team.  Proven track record of brilliant thinking, complex problem solving and must be absolutely fabulous in most ways.   Needs to have great fashion sense, superb innovation skills and be a good communicator with others.  Team player, bright and overall a really nice person.

For immediate consideration send resume with salary expectations and cover letter to: hiringmanager@super-secret-company.com 

No phone calls please, this company is confidential”

As I read through it I kept thinking…

 “OMG, that’s ME. I’m perfect for that role!  I’m the perfect candidate!!!!”

Now let’s back up here.  How did I really know I would be the BEST suited for that role.  Honestly, would I make the ‘perfect’ candidate for that job?    How do I really know?

In reality, here’s what I DON’T know:

  1. Company
  2. Industry
  3. Role exactly, title, etc.
  4. Pay Range
  5. Benefits
  6. Travel required
  7. Size of company
  8. Public or private
  9. Company location
  10. Who does this position report to?
  11. Expectations
  12. Company culture
  13. Duties
  14. Requirements
  15. Experience level
  16. Growth path
  17. Financial stability of company
  18. Product/service… what does this company do exactly?

….. and the list can go on and on…..

If I send my resume, cover letter and salary expectations I may actually position myself “out of consideration”. 

How?

By presenting myself in a way that they “aren’t” looking for.    

To give you an example.  If I chose to divulge my salary expectations and it’s 100K and the job pays 50K, what are they going to think?  My resume will go into the “out of the price range” pile, better known as the trash basket.

It’s easy to believe that you would make the perfect candidate, but it’s also important to realize that YOU have to position yourself accordingly during your very first contact with this company.  

Qualifying an opportunity before presenting yourself as the right candidate gives YOU the leg up on everyone else who applies blindly.   AND you will show that you care about the role by researching and doing your homework.  There is nothing worse than a “I have no questions” candidate.  It’s okay to ask questions, as long as they are smart and show you’d make a good hire.

For an ad like this, try to figure out as much information before hand as you can.   You can do key word searches in Bing and Google and see if you can find it posted somewhere online WITH the company name.  If that doesn’t work, try replying to the blind email address with a clever “call to action” that will entice them to reply back.  This is something that takes a little ingenuity.   Sometimes if you’re lucky, the true email address may show up or you might get a reply with a name attached to it. 

Think of yourself as a job search DETECTIVE (hey, cool blog title there).  Find and gather as much information as possible.  Knowlege is key.

If all else fails, you might have nothing to lose by applying blindly, but don’t feel bad or rejected if no one replies to you.   Since you have no clue who/what/where or when about this ad, it’s kind of a crap shoot.   Like a slot machine – but hopefully without losing money ;-)

Remember it makes sense to QUALIFY the opportunity as much as possible before positioning yourself as the PERFECT candidate.  You just might be, but the more information you can find out ahead of time the better your chances are of making sure your first line of contact says so too.

Would you like to hire Glady Kravitz?

October 8, 2009 at 10:05 pm Leave a comment

What would Batman do?

maisy 013

What would Batman do?

Gotham City just had a major layoff.  Batman is now unemployed and actively looking for his next gig.  Superman and Spiderman got their pink slip a week earlier.

 

Because Batman is an “out of the box” thinker he knows that he needs to try something different in order to find employment during these extraordinary times.

 

Personal (Professional) Branding:  This is something that a great many of us miss when we are job hunting.  It’s really a simple concept, but it can be a difficult thing to enact and master effectively.   Ask yourself this question:

 

“How do I want someone who has no clue who I am to see me as?”

 

In Batman’s case, he decides that he will formulate 4 different versions of his resume using all of his trademarks skills and experience, but tailoring it to specifically branding himself as:

 

  1. Crime Fighter
  2. Gadget & Weapon Inventor / Tester
  3. Billionaire Philanthropist
  4. Manager

Networking:  This is the time to use your contacts.  And if you can, don’t wait until you NEED a job to build your network, start it NOW.   The best way to get your foot in the door is by networking.   If you are uncomfortable about attending face to face events, drag along your social butterfly friend.  This may help you ease your way into feeling comfortable around folks you don’t know yet.  Master this skill and it will help you for decades.

 

Target Company List:  Job board leads stale?  Create  a Target Company List.  You can use LinkedIn’s new sophisticated “companies” tab.  This will not only pull up all the cool companies you’ve listed, but you can see by what corporate path people migrated to and from.  There may be a company or two that you hadn’t yet thought of that is listed within the company profile.  It will also identify folks in your network that work there and how you know them.

 

Try joining some of the larger Meetup.com groups.  Not only will you see the company list of presenters,  but the groups members as well.  You’d be amazed at some of the cool companies you can cyber sleuth your way into.    A few of the more technology based companies even Live Video stream their Meetup’s so that you can watch them back without attending. 

 

Business Journal Book of Lists.  Great way to find out company information by region.  I landed a great job using these lists by targeting companies rather than openings.    But don’t just limit yourself to these lists, Fast Company, Inc 500… and other major business publications all seem to put out great lists throughout the year.  

 

Add New Superpower to your resume:   Don’t discount all the stuff your doing and learning to find your next role.  Highlight the good stuff on your current resume.  If you are finding leads via Social Media, networking, etc. add as appropriate to your resume.  Remember you are BRANDING yourself not as the job seeker but as the professional.  The wording you choose is VERY important here.  If you are in sales, you can put something like, “experience with lead generation using Social Media tools.”  You may even decide to volunteer at some of the professional networking groups and add that to your resume to make up for a gap in employment.

 

Hopefully channeling Batman will help you gain new ground in your own job hunt.  What other Super Hero would help?

maisy 010

October 6, 2009 at 6:56 pm 3 comments

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