Overwhelmed by all of the job seach advice? Do this …

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Have you ever attended a job search meeting and felt bombarded by all of the various advice and recommendations? Do you hear something different from everyone you meet to the point of being overwhelmed with what to do?

Recently I attended a highly valued networking meeting of management level job seekers that also included several representatives from respected recruiting/retained search firms.

During the meeting the representatives from the recruiting/search firms had the opportunity to answer questions and provide many tips, tactics and approaches they believed vital to landing a job. Some of the information was valuable. At the same time some of the other advice provided in particular by one representative who has a considerable number of years in his field to me wasn’t valid and actually counter-intuitive . Having conducted a job search a few times in my career I have learned what works consistently, what works some of the time and in certain situations, and what only sounds good in theory. Equally important, I learned what works for me may be slightly different than what works for someone else.

No one has all of the answers, all of the right tactics, or all of the right approaches and methods to a job search, and yet this person presented his ideas as of if only those approaches worked. No one approach or person can state there is only one approach in job search. Why? Because quite simply every person is different and therefore, every hiring manager is different. Therefore, no two interviews and hiring processes are the same, no matter how many you have experienced. I have learned not to trust, or rather, question every job search approach or tactic no matter the source. Yes, consider it, evaluate it, but also question it.

What is the right course of action for you in your job search?

Question everything you hear or are directed in a job search. Why? Because what worked for another person may not work as well for you. You have your own style and may excel at one job search tool or approach than another. For sure, you must have a solid resume and practice at being able to convey who you are and your talents. Attempt to use all tools available and yet use what works for you and feels right. I have also discovered much of job search is not about a tool or tactic and rather comes down to using your own skills and trusting your intuition as to how to conduct a job search.

There are a myriad of job search tools and tactics and I do recommend you consider at least reviewing them. Then decide what works best for you, or rather, how to use the tool, but in your own style and ability. For example, I believe networking is a vital component of a successful job search. Initially I failed miserably at networking fearing it was like cold calling someone and I simply was not comfortable with that approach. Once I learned how to network through a referral process, I excelled at it because I had the opportunity to learn about someone in one-on-one. This approach has proven to be much more comfortable to me and fit who I am and my style. Meeting someone in person continues to be an extremely valuable venue for effective networking.

Further, and most important, I found for me, that simply, some tactics touted by many, are not effective. Specifically, having spent years researching personal development I discovered that many tactics touted as being effective often lacked an understanding of the way people think, act and believe.

For example, I don’t believe in elevator speeches as they are too rehearsed and say little. Sure, understand how to explain to someone what makes you a special hire, but I have found other approaches to delivering that information. The human element behind the concept of producing an elevator speech is partly about you being able to state what you do, what you excel at, and how you do it, all in 30 seconds. The real importance is for you to decide what you want to be when you grow up. What do you want to do, what matters to you, where do you want to go and why are you good at it? Most people struggle with those questions. Once you answer these questions, then an elevator speech isn’t an elevator speech at all. Instead of sounding rehearsed, your information will flow smoothly in a relaxed style. If you want to turn someone off, just start spouting an elevator speech. If you watch the recipient’s body language, it will strongly tell you that they stopped listening a few seconds after you began your speech.

I also don’t believe in target lists, although it is a constant promoted approach in every job search meeting. Some people believe they work great. But I have seen how they hindered many candidates. (But that concept is for another day as I will soon publish another article and post on this specific topic.)

One key I learned is our own inner thought process, our beliefs and actions determine our job search success more than any tactic or approach. To put this in perspective, when we are employed we are making decisions every day regarding what project to work on when, who to meet with to collaborate on a project, and much more. Conversely, when unemployed, it is easy to feel as if someone has grabbed the TV remote control from us. Hence, we feel out of control. We are at the mercy of when someone returns our call, or responds to an email, or simply waiting to hear on the status or outcome of an interview or potential job offer. As you have discovered, there are some factors you can control and impact, and there are some factors out of your control. Knowing how to manage the factors you can impact and understand mentally and emotionally how to deal with the factors for which you have no control is the essence of a job search.

If we are seeking response from an email, voicemail, or interview we begin to think like waiting to hear from someone after a first date: Will they call back, when will the call back, what should I say when they contact me, how long should I wait to contact them if I don’t receive a response, and does no quick response mean they are not interested? Spending time on these questions can distort our view of reality potentially making you appear too aggressive, or impatient or potentially bothersome to the hiring manager. At the same time understanding that the hiring manager during the interview potentially was more focused on meeting an urgent deadline or responding to an important email after the interview are challenges few discuss yet every interviewee encounters. You are sure to hear all sorts of suggestions from others on how to manage this challenge. Sort through the potential options and do what works best for you.

But if someone tells you that it should only take a certain amount of days for you to land a job or not to use a tactic for which you found value, such as not talking to anyone you meet at an networking meeting outside of the meeting, then don’t follow that advice. Consider it, question it, and then decide for yourself.

The confusion in job search and requirement that we question everything is best demonstrated by asking someone for advice on a resume. Ask 20 people and you will receive 20 answers. Instead when I first conducted a job search 15 years ago, I asked for a copy from everyone in which I met, especially from those who landed a job. From there I pulled what struck me as highly effective as well as incorporated some of their input.

In your job search, listen to everyone, but determine what makes sense to you. Often people providing job search advice have never been on the other side of the table; your side as being interviewed. Sure, you can ask many a hiring manager why they didn’t hire someone. We all hear many stories, of crazy answers to questions, not being prepared, mistakes on resumes, and much more.

But in the end getting hired boils down to what really is the most nebulous factor of all: that you are a good fit. Only the hiring manager can describe what a good fit is to them. At yet every hiring manager will have a different belief on what constitutes a good fit. The greatest challenge in the interview is seeking to determine and convince the hiring manager that you are a good fit – and I would contend this can be more important that being able to fix their immediate problems which is often stated as the key to interview success.

From my experience there are 2 vital components of a job search that have the greatest impact on landing the job. These 2 components can’t be provided or directed by someone else. Only you can determine and must decide what exact type of job you want; you must know exactly what you want because often a hiring manager isn’t sure. Hiring managers often are not sure exactly what they need other than someone to fix an immediate problem. And often that problem is not revealed in a job description and rarely fully conveyed in a job interview. I often discover from researching a company, talking to my network about the company and officers you can determine how to help the hiring manager. Having worked a many size companies, I have found that your experience can often provide you insight into what the hiring manager needs, sometimes before they do.

The other vital component is self-confidence. You radiate your self-confidence of lack of it, to everyone you meet. Everyone can feel if you are cautious or confident. When confident, you will be much more relaxed and the real you will be revealed to each person you meet. Answering interview questions and projecting your knowledge will flow easily in words and body language.

Most likely some of you will not agree with some or all of my suggestions. And I can say, good! Question what I have said and determine what works for you. The key is to understand no one has all of the answers. Determine what works and feels comfortable and use what intuitively feels right. Tactics don’t land you a job, you land a job. Believing in your ability sets the stage for an effective job search. And you can question everything, and even question yourself. And when you answer with confidence you are ready for landing a new job.

6 reasons why the unemployed will be your best performers

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????We hear many stories that companies shy away from hiring someone who is unemployed, especially if they have been unemployed longer than 6 months. Some companies may only consider candidates that are actively working or at best unemployed for 1-2 months. A recent newspaper article said the average duration for those unemployed is 9 months. Bypassing these candidates is often eliminating those who will most likely be your best performers

The belief has been if someone is unemployed for a long time that there might be something wrong with them or their inability to network, job search, or they are lacking other skills. There is also the mindset that a company wants someone with immediate relevant experience to their industry or the open position and someone unemployed does not meet that requirement.

There is no doubt that the best person to help any business is someone who is unemployed, especially if they have been unemployed more than 6 months. I am not referring to a job seeker who barely has a resume, comes unprepared to an interview and demonstrates all of the other classic mistakes job seekers can make. Those job seekers are at best a tiny percentage of all job seekers. To the contrary most job seekers that have previously been employed more than 10 years are extremely talented people who have sharpened their skills while unemployed.

Here are 6 reasons why someone who is unemployed that you hire will end up being one of your top performers:

1. Ability to face adversity: Why is a job seeker who has been unemployed for many months the best person to come in and make a powerful impact on your company and business? Because someone unemployed has obtained the ability to face adversity, get up every day to sell themselves again, deal with the emotional, mental and physical stress of the unknown, and take another step toward their goal each day. And isn’t adversity, constant change, the biggest challenge businesses face every day? Job seekers possess the capacity to remain balanced and keep moving forward with a clear and even mindset to deal with ever changing market conditions, threats to the business, setbacks of projects and turnover within a company. Someone unemployed develops the capability to remain emotionally balanced while under stress.

2. Motivated to learn: Companies today are often looking for someone with industry or specific technical skills that match the company’s needs and can consider job seekers as lacking these vital skills. Whatever a job seeker may be lacking in technical skills or industry knowledge is more than compensated by their over whelming desire to perform at their highest ability for the company and desire to learn in a new job. Most managers will agree that the key to building a great team is to hire someone who is motivated as you can teach them about the business along the way. This is often in direct contrast to hiring someone with the necessary skills, but lacking the desire to be the best they can be.

3. Tenacity: These dedicated job seekers rapidly acquire the skills of perseverance, patience, persistence and tenacity. They have learned to face rejection and continue on toward their goal. They have acquired this major skill because of the tenacity required when in a job search, waiting on the phone to ring, not being called back with no reason given, dealing with rejection, and getting back up on their feet easily 30,40 or even 100 times in their job search. And they do so with a smile, faith, confidence and belief they will succeed.

Job seekers face rejection and setback on a daily basis. There is no better teacher in life than rejection and failure. From each experience, job seekers evaluate what worked, what didn’t work, remix the formula and try again. Job seekers have the resilience to get back up and potentially face rejection again, yet keep adjusting their sails, their mindset, their approach and their skills all to be the best employee a company will ever have.

4. Presentation skills: Job seekers aren’t just polishing their resume, tweaking their LinkedIn profile, and rehearsing an elevator speech with other unemployed people. In reality, they are continually growing and learning, taking courses, attending seminars, and especially receiving feedback on their speaking, writing and presentation skills. Most important they are improving their skill on how to sell an idea, a concept and approach – selling a hiring manager that they have the ability, passion and desire to make an impact on that company. It is said that the number one fear of all people is public speaking, yet these people learn to excel at presenting every day, and selling one of the most difficult things to sell – themselves. Given the opportunity, job seekers are some of the best at selling to anyone.

5. Been there, done that: Technology has changed business to some degree, but challenges companies face remain the same. Standing in the way of achieving goals and growing the business, companies and managers continually face not having enough resources, time constraints, tight budgets, an ever-changing economic and political environment, supply chain logistics and providing excellent customer service. Unemployed candidates with more than 20 year’s experience have battled through all of these challenges. They didn’t just save the company money, they did it with limited resources or with deadlines and little budget. This valuable experience will quickly provide your ROI.

6. Staying current: A hiring manager may require current experience which is understandable. Yet, some people in her/his department are not current on technical skills such certifications, degrees or instructive seminars. Quite simply, they often just do not have the time nor the budget. At the same time many job seekers are expanding their skill set automatically. They have taken courses, obtained a degree, added new certifications, CPA credits or learned the latest in social media. They come to the interview and a company armed with the skills, mindset and business perspective ready to make an immediate impact.

You may ask if these job seekers are this talented why have then not been hired? They can be quickly overlooked when submitting a resume as too old, over-qualified or not having current experience. And yet they have extremely valuable experience, the knowledge of having been there before, knowing the problems companies will face, and the emotional and mental fortitude to get the job done.

And, most job seekers will have researched your company, contacted people who worked or work at your company, and learned about the company culture, all to determine if they are a great fit for your company AND that the company is a great fit for them. They are looking for the best opportunity as well.

I have met hundreds of job seekers at networking meetings and a host of other venues and they all have one thing in common: a burning desire to be the best they can be, motivation to never stop learning and growing, and determination to prove once again that they can and will add massive value to another company.

Pay It forward and Thank You backward

 

Bearing Gifts

A good business friend of mine loves to reference a scene from the movie “The Mexican” where Julia Roberts screams from the window to Brad Pitt, “It’s all about you!”

When in a job search it is human nature to not only feel it is all about us, but feel the urgency to make it work for us now.  Although there are millions of people unemployed everyone’s specific circumstances are different. Therefore, we feel as if our situation is unique and because of its uniqueness, it must be resolved immediately.

When we face any challenge in our life it is very natural from a human behavior perspective to lock in on the challenge, almost with tunnel vision. Every waking minute is used thinking about this challenge accompanied by a long list of emotions leaving us with only one constant thought: We must do something as quick as possible to remove this pain and frustration of being unemployed.

Our reaction to all of this frantic and complex mental energy and exertion is the desire to overcome this problem immediately. We set out as good students to learn everything we can, diagnosing the issue in hopes of quickly coming to a resolution. During this activity we become sponges, soaking up every bit of information and ideas from everyone and everywhere.  We hope to be able to condense the information and put together the right formula to instantly land that job offer. Our urgency and push is to be relieved of the anxiety, stress and frustration that goes with being unemployed.

In our haste to gather this information, we may forget the very fundamental principles involved in building long lasting personal relationships, confidence, gratitude, appreciation, the power of putting others first:

Pay it forward, and Thank You backward.

Most everyone has heard of the concept of paying it forward. Paying it forward is in essence, passing on the good deed someone did for you. You in turn now do a favor for someone else. This method is never more important than when in a job search. Why? Because just as I alluded to earlier, becoming self-focused is extremely natural when in a job search and it can work severely to your disadvantage. For most people, there is nothing more important that landing a job for all of the obvious reasons. 

However, the more you focus on yourself, the less you may focus on others.  Often one of the biggest mistakes job seekers makes is to be so immersed in their own plight that they lose interest in helping those around them, paying it forward and saying thank you backward. 

Yet, there actually is a magical result that occurs when we focus our attention on others. Why? When we focus our attention on others, and truly seek to find ways to help them, we not only feel great in the process, but our self-esteem rises as we recognize our value in the world. This increase is self-esteem and self-confidence is not lost in helping someone. We carry that self-confidence into our next meeting with a new connection, the next email we send, the next smile and handshake we deliver and of course, in our next interview.  In addition, paying it forward opens you up to receive, yes, receive, because when you give help you will find more help will come to you. Hoarding actually by its nature is that of constriction and contradiction – the exact opposite effect you might have attempted to generate.

At the same time, a thank you backward – thanking someone who helped you so you can then pay it forward on to someone else is just as vital in a job search process. You again recognize and are grateful for someone taking the time to help you. Be absolutely sure you follow up with an email or even a phone call specifically thanking that person for any help or support you were provided. If you met in person, did you buy your new networking connection a cup of coffee? If they paid for yours, take the time to mail them a gift card as a special way to thank them for taking the time out of their busy schedule to help you. Do you think you will be remembered?

Taking the time out of your busy search to specifically thank someone who might have taken the time to send you an email checking on you, providing emotional support or describing recommendations is just the right thing to do. Taking the time to say thank you says much about you, that this job search is not “All about you”.  Paying it forward is important, but when you say thank you to someone in words or actions, it is perceived as something special by the recipient. Saying or taking action to provide a thank you demonstrates your character.

One of the unique benefits of a job search is the wonderful people met along the way. Some of these relationships will last many years, and continue to provide support and assistance in many ways.  As you radiate the real you in all directions, more people will see your value.  Your value is seen at its best when you pay it forward and thank you backward.