Posts tagged: job search strategies

I Hate Networking

 - Taken at 7:42 PM on May 05, 2007 - cameraphone upload by ShoZu

Strangers are Strange

If I never attend another networking event in my life, I’d be happy. But modern living (and working) requires meeting people. Why do I hate networking? Is it because…

  • I don’t like people? No, I like people.
  • I have to make ‘small’ talk? No, I figured out that if you ask a few questions, the other person will start talking and I won’t have to say much.
  • I have to enter a room full of strangers and pretend to feel comfortable? Now we’re getting warmer.

Make a Plan, Work the Plan

Ok, so I know I have to go and do it. The plan I have is to:

  • Go to the venue and pretend that I’m happy to be there
  • Meet 3 people. If after I meet 3 people I want to leave, I can
  • Make sure I hand out business cards to those 3 unless it seems inappropriate
  • If there’s a pre-event sign up list, I review the list. Is there anyone going to the event that I will know? Is there someone from a company or organization that I would like to meet? If so, I write down the name and go to LinkedIn and look for their photo.

Work the Plan

I’m there, I’m talking to 3 people. Here’s what I have on my mind:

  • Practice active listening. Learning to listen – really hear what someone is saying is one of the most important life and business skills in our toolkits. If you learn to really listen to your family and friends; I predict you will find it immensely rewarding.
  • See how I can help someone. Sometimes the best gift you can give someone is just to listen. Sometimes, I can help in other ways. Do they know of a job opening? Maybe I know a candidate.
  • Learn something. Everyone has something to teach us, if we have an open mind.

The Reward

Most of the time, I meet someone pleasant and interesting. I find I can offer a something of interest to someone. Bottom line, I have had a much better time than I expected. I’ve attended 100’s of networking events and 95% of the time, it was far better than I anticipated. Either way, ice cream when I get home makes it all worthwhile.

Image credit: Glen and Al

Oh, Oh… I Got Fired

Image result for getting fired

Oh, Oh… I Got Fired

If you’ve been fired in the past year or two and it was your first time, you might still feel bad about it. I was fired 3 times (well, technically fired twice and laid off once). The first time, I worked in a shoe store in high school. They wanted me to recommend other stuff when people bought shoes. Couldn’t do it. So, I was fired. The next time,  I had been promised by my boss’s boss that things would change in the workplace…they didn’t change, I was insubordinate. The third time, I had pre-negotiated a leave date so technically it was a lay off. (I was never fired for cause!)

The first time I was devastated. The second time I thought the world would end. The third time was, no big deal. Every time I left a job involuntarily, something better turned up next.

I’m In Good Company

For inspiration, glance at this article, “21 Great Successes Who Got Fired.” The list is pretty impressive …

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Walt Disney
  • Truman Capote
  • Lady Gaga

The list of athletes who failed is long but one stands out… Michael Jordan. He was cut from his high school basketball team. Think about Jennifer Hudson. An American Idol loser who went on to win Oscar.

Whatever is happening with you right now, know that good things are going to happen for you. Hold on for one more day. I believe in you.

Image credit: Getting Fired: A Blessing

Develop Unconventional Skills

Beach of maria flour. Paulista. Janga. Pernambuco.<br /><br /><br /><br />
Artur jumping.

I studied French and German as an undergrad. I always thought I wanted to be a French teacher. Once I became a secondary school teacher, I realized I liked the kids, didn’t like ‘school.’ Ok, so now what?

I had worked in the University Library for my work-study money and I loved it. So next thing I knew, I was in a Master’s of Library Science program. I didn’t have any idea what I was going to do with this degree. I didn’t really seem like all the other ‘librarians’, but I loved all the adult learning, bringing order out of chaos, etc.

I moved from Washington, D.C. to Rochester, N.Y. and finished my degree at SUNY Geneseo. Now what?

The point of the story is not… what I did. The point is that it’s surprising and amazing how all the skills I learned along the way, helped me gain my future positions. Whether it was teaching that turned into training, or knowing a foreign language that turned into translating; I had a background that others didn’t. That brought me opportunity. That brought my skills and personality to the attention of people who could help me in my career.

Just when you think your weird/odd range of interests could be of no possible benefit to anyone… suddenly you find that you are the person who can get the job done. Make your career long by doing the following:

  • Constantly be learning
  • Learn different things than other people (stamp collecting? uni-cycling?)
  • Expand your network by deliberately including people of various ages, ethnicities, professions, etc.

Do not be discouraged if you are in a job (or looking) that isn’t exactly what you want or if you feel that your diverse skills aren’t appreciated. Hang in there and never give up. With patience if you come to see where you fit. The world needs you just the way you are.

Photo credit: Somersault Netjer-Lelahell

Building Your Business

When I say your ‘business’ I mean whether you HAVE a business or whether you ARE the business. Today, being prepared for changes is what required.

I work with several entrepreneurs and meet with new ones regularly. It is such a joy because each one is excited about their business. They have energy and a hunger to learn and grow. It is infectious and wonderful.

Many of them, like me, have had plenty of ups and downs. In fact, most of them will experience more downturns that they believe they can stand! What separates a successful ‘business owners’ from the unsuccessful, is flexibility. The ability to pivot.

So how do each of us, whether we starting a business, reinventing ourselves or invigorating our career, take the “just do it” train?

Ideas are easy to come by, in fact, very easy. What’s not easy is making that idea into a business (or career) that works. Here are some rules for navigating the terrain:

  1. Build skills. In my corporate years, I looked for assignments that would allow me to learn new, specific skills.
  2. Try on different roles. Find ways to test out various roles, tasks, assignments. Volunteer, talk to your boss, be specific about what you want.
  3. Fail fast. This one sounds the worst. Most of us don’t want to ‘fail’ at all. What we don’t realize is that we learn the most from our failures. It is what propels us to do new and better. It is what helps us learn quickly and meaningfully.

Are  you excited about your work? Do you wake up ready to learn? If not, perhaps it’s time to pivot.

Photo Credit: Empowering Startup 

Single Best Piece of Career Advice

People at all stages of their careers look for work that ‘fits’. But most of us don’t know how to find it. This is as good an assessment tool as I have seen. The intersection of these 4 things is probably where you’ll be productive and happy.

1. What you’re good at (Ability)
2. What makes money (Financial security)
3. What helps others/society (Altruism)
4. What you enjoy

This is why when you go to a career counselor, they give you some tests and talk to you about your goals, what you like to do in general, etc. They don’t start with… what do you want to do for a living?

For many of us, we’re pretty good at #4. We’re sketchy on #1 and pretty clueless where the intersection of #1 and #4 meet #2.

This is why we need to try new things. But most of us get hung up at a very young age on #2 and then end up miserable. Sometimes this is our own fault. We don’t live within our means so we get used to spending and having ‘stuff’. If you want to make money — great. But finding the intersection of all of these is not easy for most of us.

Also, we are very quick to judge others (and ourselves) when it comes to careers (and lots of other stuff). Just for today, try to look at a career path in new way. Which of these 4 are you working on?

Reminder of my 3 criteria for how I spend my time: 1) am I having fun? 2) am I learning? 3) am I appreciated?

 

The basis of this post came from: Yermie Cohen’s dad (med student, engineer, start up founder) Quora.com

Photo Credit: 42 to Know about 42

 

 

Key Hiring Question: When & Why Will You Leave?

When you are interviewing for a job… probably one of the last things on your mind… is why and when you might leave. You’re thinking… I don’t even have the job… why would I think about when I might leave?

Great companies make this complex question part of the interview process.

In an insightful article by someone I admire, Charlene Li of Altimeter Group, How I Hire: Figuring Out Fit — And The Exit Strategy… she outlines the criteria and process for assessing candidates based on culture, skills and my favorite and what I consider relatively unique…  sense of purpose.

“As part of the hiring process, I also talk with people about how they will leave Altimeter one day. The idea of lifetime employment is dead, so why not face up to the reality that this person we’re hiring will one day leave? It’s a core part of us living the value of Integrity — that openness and transparency develops trust.” Charlene Li

The last regular, ‘show up in the office’ job I had, I actually negotiated my departure date as part of my hiring package. When they offered me the job, I told them I would stay one year.  It allowed me to focus on getting the job done without worrying about how I’d leave. It was very empowering.

I am not suggesting that every time you take a job, you should negotiate your exit. What I am suggesting is that you think about what you want to get from the assignment… even it it’s just to earn some money or stay for 6 months.  Be conscious of what it will look like when you have reached that goal.

By the way, this takes courage and it puts the responsibility for finding your next ‘step’ right where it belongs; with you.

Image credit: Diane Arbus Moving On

The Facebook Nightmare – Lost Job Opportunities…

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I have a very healthy skepticism of Facebook. I am not alone. We have 3 grandchildren under the age of 5; 2 are “on” Facebook, 1 is not. I support a parent’s right either way.

But I also know how much joy and connection Facebook brings to so many people and I respect and appreciate that.

When I read, Facebook’s Generation Y Nightmare,  the article put into words what I sometimes feel is the dilemma of sharing your ‘present’ on Facebook and illustrating it with photos.  The author of the article imagines a young lady, Tina, at 18 in 2012. The items she posts now will effect not only her future career opportunities but also her alternatives for health care.

Yes, it’s imagined and yes, this assumes that ‘nothing changes”, but it’s not hard to imagine judgements/decisions being made based on incomplete or ‘what’s readily available’ data.

So, I encourage you to review your Facebook ‘timeline’ – assuming that privacy settings didn’t work… (which I think is the reasonable thing to do these days)  — what would your future employer or insurer learn about you might prefer that the whole world NOT know.

I know a young man who lost his job as a student teacher because of his ‘drinking a beers with his buddies’ photos on his Facebook page. He was over 21 and the pictures were harmless and yet the school district’s policy on ‘public comportment’ took away his future career. You may think this is unfair but the truth is… this is happening. The nightmare hasn’t even begun yet.. for those who can’t tell their parents… please don’t put me on Facebook!

Thoughts?

Photo credit: Jack Skellington-O-Lantern  randysonofrobert

9 Deadly Sins of Job Hunting

Ok, these may not be deadly but they can slow down your search. Take care of these and your search will go smoothly because you’ll be building relationships and learning during your entire search.

You may not want to address these issues… but you’ll be glad you did.

I borrowed some of these from 7 Deadly Sales Sins.

1. You don’t know who you are so you can’t concisely tell others. Seems simple enough but trust me, if it’s been a while since you’ve looked for a job… you probably don’t know yourself as well as you need to. Look into those dark corners, root out your foibles and shortcomings and learn to say great things about yourself and your capabilities.

2. You don’t know what you want. If you don’t know where you’re going; any road will take you there. How can others help you if you don’t know what you need or want. I know it’s easier to define what you don’t want. Start there.

3. You don’t know how to easily help others (or worse you don’t understand why it’s important.) Being of service, listening, making referrals, introducing like-minded folks, etc. it’s not hard but you do have to stop thinking about yourself long enough to consider what to do.

4. You don’t understand what recruiters, hiring managers or human resource people need. If you put yourself in their shoes for a minute, you’ll be much more effective at getting their attention.

5. You’re afraid. We all are, you are not alone. Some of us just “fake it ’til we make it.” Take a page from that book.

6. You stay in your house and tell people you can’t network because you’re: shy, introverted, technical, a geek, blah, blah, blah. Get over it. Most of us don’t want to meet a bunch of strangers, but we do it.

7. You don’t follow up. You know, thank you notes you talk yourself out of.

8. You don’t have a process for your search. Do you have a spreadsheet of your contacts, companies and connections? Do you have a plan to meet 7-10 new people a week? Do you have a job search ‘buddy’ who can help you? Are you learning new skills?

9. You don’t ask for the job or you ask for every job. Be clear about what you want, who you are and when the time is right, be sure to be clear that you believe this is the job for you and why.

Bonus: You don’t have a complete LinkedIn profile with at least 200 contacts. sigh… what are you waiting for?

I believe in you. Go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: MelB Handovermouth

 

Is Job Hunting Really Just Sales?

If you are successful in sales, you’ve either had training or you’ve learned what works through trial and error . For the rest of us (90%!), we don’t really have any idea how to sell. Sure,we may have personal communication strengths that make us more or less persuasive, but without training, we’re flying blind.

As job hunters, we can learn a lot of from the steps to effective selling; especially if we think of finding the job we want as a similar process: prospecting, qualifying, negotiating and maintaining the relationship and we think of closing a prospect at each step along the way.

When sales people are required to make ‘cold calls’ — that is, talk with someone without an introduction… they use a process that can be helpful to job seekers. Check out …Cold Calling: How to Ask for an Interview.

Excellent sales people learn:

— not everyone is a fit for what they are selling

— not to take disinterest or rejection personally

— to focus on value and building relationships for the long haul

— to stick to the process and follow through

What separates a good sales person from a great one is how they:

— understand their target (research and listening)

— focus on the value of their offering to that particular customer

— are politely persistent in their follow through

 

 

 

 

 

 

No matter where you are in your job search process… I guarantee you will learn something valuable by learning more about sales. Take a great sales person to coffee or lunch and pick their brain about staying even, goal setting, follow through, etc. It’ll be money well spent.

Photo credit 1: borissey  working women3

Image credit sales process graph: Peaksalesconsulting

Seek and You Shall Find

People often ask me about my career. The details are not as important as my attitude towards work. I believed I could shape my career to what I wanted and what my family needed. The “rules” were meant to be bent…

Background — started out as a French and German teacher, earned an MLS (yes, I’m a librarian), moved to Rochester, worked 17 years at Kodak. I’ve had jobs in government, non profits, small business and I’ve started 2 companies.

I never had a job that someone had before me. I am good at making order out of chaos.

I was a single parent and raised my children alone from when they two and four, so money and time were equally important to me. This meant that I needed to find part time work that paid well.

I was one of the few part time managers at Kodak in the early 1980’s. My approach was to find something I wanted to do, find a place in the organization to do it, convince the person to hire me and THEN talk about doing the job on a part time schedule. No boss ever said no because I made it a “no brainer” for them. I said, “I will do the job… you can pay me less.”  In return I got the flexibility that was so important to me.

The last time I took a ‘regular’ job — as part of the hiring negotiations — I told my employer I would work there for one year and then I’d leave. I ended up staying almost two, but I had planned my exit and it worked out great for me.

In case you’re wondering,  my gig today is part time college professor (grad school), speaker, consultant and oh yeah, a blogger.

Are you getting what you want? Do not be afraid. Go for it.