Tag Archives: “Job Search Tips”

JST: A Few Guiding Principles

GuidingPrinciplesA few guiding principles

If these things are already obvious to you, great. If they are obvious to you, but you’re not living these principles, well, time for a gut check! Don’t let yourself get stuck being non-productive or doing unwise things.

  1. Accountability – you need it
  2. A job search is hard work
  3. Only employed people can offer you a job. Go where employed people go
  4. Get comfortable meeting people. Learn to introduce yourself
  5. Know what you’re looking for so others can help you. If you are at all confused, others will be more confused
  6. Be professional. In everything
  7. Be approachable (and be findable!)
  8. Drop any hint of pride. Be willing to ask for help

 

Last updated: 1/13/2015

You can find all my Job-Search related articles here. Please remember, a job search is normally an ordered set of steps. If you try to skip steps, it usually doesn’t work out well.

JST: Things to Avoid

Things to Avoid (like the plague)

PleaseStopYour attitude toward your job search can be your greatest asset. Beware of things that can come across as problems. Just a few quick mentions here:

  • If you’re just starting a job search, beware of “begging.” It’s natural to want to find something and quickly. Begging for a job almost never works. Think about how you would react. Yup, same for others.
  • No badmouthing of current or previous employer or people in the company. Never! Nothing good can come from that
  • First impressions: Be professional. Have a respectable email address. A quality LinkedIn Picture. How about your voice-mail greetings?

Negativity is the great killer of many things, including most hopes of getting a new job. If you don’t like your employer, or your manager, or where the company is located, or the commute, or how expense reports are handled, then maybe those are good reasons to make a change. But telling everyone over and over about those things you don’t like will kill your search prospects! Telling about those things the first time is bad too. Keep it for yourself. Or maybe your close friends, but why would you even want to load them down?

Beware the negative news. Sure, you want to be knowledgeable of current events, but watch out for over-doing it. Worth considering: turn off the TV entirely during your search. Use the time for more productive efforts, and catch your news in a few minutes of drive-time radio or a quick, repeat quick, daily scan of Internet news.

If you have family and friends who are generally negative, limit your time with them. You need positive influences through this process. (but not flattery. That’s a subject for another time. Focus on truth!)

And sometimes, you just need to stop it!

 

Last updated: 12/22/2014

You can find all my Job-Search related articles here. Please remember, a job search is normally an ordered set of steps. If you try to skip steps, it usually doesn’t work out well.

The Courtesy of a Response

The Courtesy of a Response

ResponseMost definitely stepping up onto a soapbox here – this is one of my pet peeves. Yes, I am directing this at a few friends as well as the world at large. I’ll put on my flak jacket if needed.

I don’t understand businesses who advertise their phone number, their email address, their twitter account, their Facebook page, and then when someone contacts them through any of those mechanisms, they don’t respond. Shame on them!

Likewise, I don’t understand when churches and other non-profits do the same thing. The irony of churches with sub-titles like “the friendly place,” or “we want to hear from you,” but it’s a one-way communication path into an apparent black hole.

Certainly, there are spammers and such, who don’t deserve a response. If somebody just wants to pick a fight, or argue, or are chronic complainers, OK, I can understand not responding to them. However, when dealing with a real person, treat them as a person. If you were talking face-to-face and somebody asked a question, would you just wander off and ignore them?

I’m very aware that my choosing to respond to almost all requests doesn’t obligate you to do what I do. You make your choices, I’ll make mine. Feel free to test me on this — responding is one of my higher values.

ZigTomZiglar

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.Then there is Tom Ziglar, head of the Zig Ziglar company. Zig has since passed on, and is very much missed. I had an opportunity to reach out to Tom back in 2010. Of course, his response was excellent.

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How does this apply to a job search? Or for an employer? What is one of the terrible things potential employers do? Jeff Haden thinks it’s the Worst Hiring Mistake!   If it’s a fact that most jobs are found through networking, then every contact may represent the creation, maintenance, or sudden loss, of a networking contact. How many can you afford to lose?

 

Last updated: 12/20/2014

You can find all my Job-Search related articles here. Please remember, a job search is normally an ordered set of steps. If you try to skip steps, it usually doesn’t work out well.

JST: The Need for Accountability

The Critical Need for Accountability

AccountabilityFor most of us, a job search is hard work. Hours of dedicated activity. Research. Stepping outside our comfort zone. Reaching out. Connecting. Following-up. Staying on task. Yet, many, probably most, people in a search drift off path! They get busy. Yard work. House work. Spending extra time with family. A few trips that were never possible before. And suddenly you discover you haven’t done anything of significance in days, or weeks. I’ve watched people “forget” to work on their search for months!

Get help! Seek an accountability partner. Maybe even a whole TEAM! – your “AAA Team:” Attitude, Action and Accountability

  • To encourage you
  • To prod you forward; to make suggestions; to be your advisory counsel
  • To help you prioritize your time and activities
  • To lovingly chastise you when you’re not on track
  • NOT to ask questions like “so why haven’t you found a job yet?”
  • People who will let you ask questions when you don’t know what to ask
  • People who won’t let you stay in “stuck”
  • People who will respond when you’re in a crisis (however YOU define crisis)

ASK people if they’re willing to do this for you. Give them an easy out. Learn who your real friends are. Real friends will tell you what you need to hear, even when you don’t want to hear it. (Proverbs: “wounds of a friend”) If you don’t have a group who will help you with this, find a nearby career ministry and ask for help. It’s even OK to be choosy!

Per Peter Bourke, your spouse can be “your secret weapon.” If the world is down on you, but your spouse is supportive, you have an advantage. But, there’s a big warning that goes with this. Your spouse can also sabotage your search. If your spouse is NOT your biggest supporter, set some limits and make sure you have others to help you with the process.

Consider a mentor or a personal career coach [not necessarily paid for]. Whatever you do, don’t get stuck. If your search is not moving forward, and you don’t know what to do, change your direction to get some help to move forward. Your job may not be your life, but for most, if you don’t have a job, life tends to suffer, usually a lot!

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

“When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.”
-Japanese Proverb

Last updated: 12/4/2014

You can find all my Job-Search related articles here. Please remember, a job search is normally an ordered set of steps. If you try to skip steps, it usually doesn’t work out well.

JST: Are You Ready to Begin a Job Search?

Are you ready to begin a job search?

WaitDoes that sound like a silly question? It’s amazing how many people are desperate for a job, yet have a lot of baggage to handle before starting a search. It’s quite a paradox. Be sure you’ve “unloaded” any of that counter-productive baggage before you start your search. Desperate for a job or not, you can easily shoot yourself in the foot if you jump before you’re ready.

Crazy as it may sound, as desperate as you may be, you might not be ready to begin a search. A few considerations:

  • Make sure you have a “clean” story of why you’re not where you used to be
  • Are there life / personal issues that are impacting your job situation? Anger? Addictions? Is there anything “else” that was a factor in your being out of work?
  • Personality quirks? Hygiene? Clothing? Transportation?
  • Is your family supportive of your search? [Remember: your spouse can be your secret weapon, or your saboteur! Are you single? You might have an advantage.]
  • Are you disciplined to stick with a search process? Consider the value of some accountability
  • Are you current on your industry and the things that are likely common discussion among your peers?
  • Are you aware of current events? You don’t want to be too caught up in the media, but you don’t want to miss that there was a major disaster in the last day or so either!

Be sure, before you jump into a search, that you don’t have things that will prevent you from fully executing. Whatever those things are, tackle them first. If you don’t think this is serious, look around at people who have been out of work for many months to many years, with the primary reason being there were too distracted to dedicate themselves to a search. Don’t be that person!

Last updated: 11/18/2014

You can find all my Job-Search related articles here. Please remember, a job search is normally an ordered set of steps. If you try to skip steps, it usually doesn’t work out well.

JST: Connect, Connect, Connect

Connect, Connect, Connect

PeopleConnectNetworkNetworking is the key to a job search. You’ve heard it. Do you believe it? If you do, then a key is to connect with anyone and everyone you meet. Who are the best connections? Who are the people “not worth” connecting with? Not many people are accurate at predicting which are valuable and which aren’t, so why not try the idea of assuming everyone you meet might be the most valuable person you could ever meet? If you find out otherwise later, you haven’t lost much!

“Connecting” means more than saying ‘hi’ and talking about the weather. Can you in a few words describe your search? Not a 30 second elevator pitch, just a few very short words. Do you have business cards to exchange? Do you regularly follow-up with a custom LinkedIn invitation? Make this all habit. Every – single – time! After you connect, do you send a follow-up thank you note? Every time! It’s not hard. Be intentional.

 

Last updated: 11/11/2014

You can find all my Job-Search related articles here. Please remember, a job search is normally an ordered set of steps. If you try to skip steps, it usually doesn’t work out well.

JST: Job Search Strategy

Job Search Strategy

StrategyA very important early step in a job search is to have a strategy. Even better, have a great strategy. Haphazardly applying for every job you see, calling everyone you know and saying “do you know of a job?”, or whining about the lack of jobs available, are far too often what job seekers do. I guess that’s a strategy, but not much of one.

A high-level overview of a search strategy would cover these basic items:

  1. Define specifically what you are looking for
  2. Know where you want to look (region, city, maybe even area of a city)
  3. Find companies that need what you’re looking for where you want to work
  4. Develop contacts within, or related to, those companies
  5. Craft your various messages for how to approach people
  6. Network, network, network

Certainly, you will need to build systems for how you’ll manage contacts and follow-ups. You’ll need a resume. You’ll need to build a quality LinkedIn profile. You’ll need business cards, a professional email address, and much more. Don’t let these actions become your strategy.

Here’s an interesting article from CAREEREALISM that addresses job search strategy, The 3-Step ‘Beat Unemployment’ Plan.

Do you have a strategy? Do you have a great strategy?

Last updated: 10/14/2014

You can find all my Job-Search related articles here.

JST: Job Search vs. Career Search

Job Search vs. Career Search

JobOrCareerHopefully this is so obvious that you never need to read about it. Really, I’ll be fine if you skip this post. If you’re in a job search, you must first know what you’re searching for. Funny thing, the more specific you are in what you’re searching for, the easier it is for others to help you and in the end, the easier it is to find. Some people don’t think so. They think you must be flexible and open to anything.  You find a lot of these flexible people at Career Ministry meetings, month after month after month.

If you don’t know specifically what you are searching for, then you are actually in a career search. This is not a bad thing, it’s just different from a job search. A career search is one of the greatest learn-about-yourself experiences ever. There is one small complication: not many people will pay you money to discover what you want to do.

An ideal career is the intersection of skills, passions, and market needs. This is one of those cases where two out of three is terrible. You have to hit all three, solidly!

PassionsSkillsMarket

Tony Morgan wrote a post on Finding Your Dream Role that addresses this same idea a little differently.

If you don’t know what you want to do, spend the time to find out. If you think you don’t have time to find out, don’t be too surprised if months from now, you’re still looking. There are many books and on-line assessments to help you determine a career fit. You can find free resources, or low-cost, or very expensive. Be careful how much you commit to pay if you aren’t sure the value of the results.

One risk: what if you discover you don’t really have the credentials for your ideal career. That is a serious problem. Too bad this country has give up most of the idea of apprenticeships.

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Last updated: 10/14/2014

You can find all my Job-Search related articles here.

 

JST: Other Resources

Other Resources

The Job Search Tips on my blog are offered as a resource for Job Seekers. They are my writing, but rarely are they original ideas with me. There are many other great job search resources available, some free, some affordable, some, well, way beyond what I’d consider paying. Unfortunately, what you pay does not always represent what you get, so be very careful and choosy.

ReferenceLibraryI’m certainly biased, and my opinions don’t work for everybody. So, with that in mind, here are a few alternate resources and some commentary.

Career Focus Consultants. Especially if you’re in the Nashville area, this is one to check out. Rich Leipzig is one of the most personable Career and Job-search consultants anywhere. Through Career Focus, he offers one-on-one coaching, some classes, accountability, networking, and more. He has even extended his reach and now works with Lipscomb University on career coaching.

Career Handler. By far my favorite recommendation. If you are choosing exactly one source for information, this is the one I’d suggest, no reservation. There’s a very modest cost of about $25 for the workbook, and you get some other benefits included. Use this link to save a few dollars. If you are in the greater Atlanta area, also check out Perimeter Jobseekers, a small group format gathering for job-seekers, usually hosted by Eric Handler, the author of Career Handler. Career Handler is a concise, step-by-step, guide to a career search, with great how-to guides.

Crossroads Career Network. Crossroads has been the foundation for many churches and their job and career ministries. They provide resources, they create a network of organizations (churches) who have services, and they provide many of the materials for a modest fee, or free. Generally, you will connect with a church who uses the Crossroads materials, but there are some resources directly available from the Crossroads website. A caveat. Different churches use Crossroads materials different ways, some well, some not as well. If you have multiple Crossroads-connected churches in your area, it is worth your time to check out more than one.

C3G. C3G, or Christ Centered Career Groups, is the brainchild of Peter Bourke, who is also involved with Crossroads. C3G is much more focused on networking than on job search techniques, although through networking you may find many techniques. C3G originated at North Point Church near Atlanta. Others elsewhere have begun to use the concept. If you attend a meeting, be sure to go through the registration process which allows you to join the mailing list.

Joel’s List. Joel’s List isn’t really a job-search resource. This is an Atlanta and vicinity list of networking  opportunities. On the basic assumption that networking is a key to finding a job, and that it’s better to network with people who have jobs, Joel’s list gives you quite a few such opportunities. I wish I knew of similar lists for other cities.

Keith Warrick. Keith is a very active business person who just happens to occasionally teach on how to better use LinkedIn. I mention him here NOT to invite you to connect with him. Actually, I suggest you read his profile for instructions on inviting him. If you ever have an opportunity to be at one of his presentations, I highly suggest it!

Occupation Professor. Occupation Professor is one of the several business activities of Dan Whitenack, who is also the leader of the Cross Pointe Church Career Ministry (CPCCM) where I volunteer. Occupation Professor is focused on helping you find what career best suits you. If you are in a Career Search, it’s a great starting point. There is often useful Job Search advice as well.

Others: Jeff Haden who writes for LinkedIn, Inc, and others, often has great articles related to job searches. So does Seth Goden. And Stacy Zaper. And Liz Ryan. LinkedIn Pulse is a great resource. There are thousands of great resources. And thousands of not-so-great ones. See if my sampling above gives you a good start, then consider being very selective about adding others. Note: don’t be like me and get distracted reading “just one more” article. Set a time limit.

Last updated: 10/14/2014

You can find all my Job-Search related articles here. Please remember, a job search is normally an ordered set of steps. If you try to skip steps, it usually doesn’t work out well.

JST: Your Many Messages. Start Simply

In the course of a job search, you will have many messages to deliver. Cover letters. Resumes. Introduction emails. Voice mail messages. Thank you notes. The list is long. But your story needs to be consistent, and once you have a few paragraphs you like, you’ll find it easy to mix and match and re-use without having to keep developing something new.

NewspaperBreakingNewsA newspaper and TV anchor friend had a suggestion for any and all writing or story-telling:

Start with just two or three words.

If you can’t do that, you don’t know your story yet! In the news business, maybe that’s easy:

  • Man shot
  • Building opened
  • Car crashed
  • President elected

OK, can you use that same concept to describe your ideal position? Try for two words, fall back on three, or even four if you have to, but fight for just two!

  • Develop [mobile] software
  • Hire people
  • Enhance user-experience
  • Make life easier
  • Save money
  • Make music
  • Tell stories

Your turn. Now, make sure any message you tell clearly refers back to your two or three words. If you can do this, your story will be so much easier!

Or is this just the KISS principle?

Compare to: 5 Tips for Explaining Your Job Description to Your In-laws

Another thought on shorter messages, Ditch the Elevator Pitch. Expecting that many will disagree here. Give it some thought.

Last updated: 10/14/2014

You can find all my Job-Search related articles here. Please remember, a job search is normally an ordered set of steps. If you try to skip steps, it usually doesn’t work out well.