Can’t Someone Just Do This For Me?

A friend of mine recently left his job – Director Level – over ten years with the same organization – had not looked for a job since he graduated from college.  We were talking about the job search process and he looked at me and said “can’t I just hire someone to do this for me?”

There are people in the world who will offer to do just that.  There are recruiters (aka head hunters), search firms, employment agencies, placement firms, placement consultants, staffing agencies, and temporary placement firms.  All of these want to help you find your next job.  You just have to understand the risks.

The primary thing to keep in mind, is that virtually all of these are for-profit businesses that make money from either you or the organization that hires you.  Therefore, their goal may not always be to find you the best job for you, their goal is to fill the job so they get paid.

There are two basic types of head hunters – retained search firms and contingency search firms.  Retained firms are hired by the organization to find the best candidate for the organization.  They are typically paid a percentage of the new hire’s annual salary (usually 30-35%) plus expenses and they typically do good work.  Because of the expense, retained search firms usually are only hired for bigger jobs (executive level jobs).  The best ones know that their long-term success comes from placing candidates who will be successful, which will garner them additional business.

Contingency search firms are not “hired” by anyone.  They attempt to match candidates with jobs, but they are only paid if the organization hires someone they introduce to the organization.  For many of these firms, the key to their success is volume and they will send as many candidates to an organization as possible in hopes that one of them stick.  Contingency firms usually charge a fee of 20-25% of the new hire’s annual salary.

Placement firms, temporary firms, and contacting agencies are the other major players in the employment market.  They hire workers and place them in positions with their clients.  Depending on the nature of the work, those placements could be for several hours and up to several years.  The understanding could be that the employee will always work for the agency, or that they are temp-to-hire, meaning the organization can “test drive” the worker, and if they are successful, hire that person from the agency.  These firms may provide a full benefit package to the employees, or they may simply pay them.  For temporary placement and/or temp-to-hire, these firms will typically mark the employees’ salary up 50% to cover their cost and margins – so if they are paying the worker $10 per hour, they charge the company $15.

Depending on the type of job you are looking for, the urgency of your search, and the industry that you are in, any of these options might be right for you.  The higher you are in your organization, the more likely it is that you should introduce yourself to both retained, and contingency search firms so that they might be able to match you with one of their clients.  If you work in IT, contract-to-hire placements are becoming the normal method for find a job.

My primary message is for to understand that while any or all of these organizations might help you, their goal is not to help you, but to make money from that transaction.  Using an agency can be a great arrow for your quiver, but it should not be your only arrow.  Talk to recruiters and agencies and understand your options, but don’t wait for them to find you a job.  Instead, network, research, apply and conduct your own search, while they do theirs, and hopefully everything will come together quickly.

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another.  Now available in both print and eBook formats!  Click here for more details.


New Years: Remembrances and Resolutions – Part 2

Yesterday we talked about remembering 2015.  I hope you did that and celebrated how far you’ve come in life.

Okay, now spin your chair around 180° and let’s look into the future.  What does 2016 hold and how are we going to be prepared for it?  Inc.  Magazine asked people what they wanted to accomplish in 2016.  The number one answer was to enjoy life to the fullest (read the full list here).  Your resolution might be to find a job -not just any job – the right job.

If finding that new, better job is one of your resolutions, allow me to make a few suggestions to increase your likelihood of success.

Make a plan – Regardless of what your resolution is, there are three things you can do that will help you live it: 1) write it down, 2) include milestone dates and measures, and 3) make it public.  For your job search, set goals for how many people you are going to network with each week, how many emails and phone calls you will need to set up those networking meetings, how many new companies you will to research, etc.  Remember, looking for a job should be a full time job.  Make a plan that uses 8 hours a day – productively – two finding that best job then share that plan with a few key supporters – maybe even post it on Facebook.

Network – I can almost guarantee that you will not get that next BEST job, unless you network.  My suggestion is that each week you meet 5-10 people you have never met before, tell them your story, and ask for their help.  You will be amazed and what happens.

Be prepared – Every time you go to a meeting or an interview, be prepared.  Have your polished resume and target list with you.  Know as much as you can about who you will be talking to and the job/company you are interviewing for.  Be sure to have and practiced (aloud) your answers to common interview questions.

Be thankful – Say thank you – send thank-you notes – let people know how much you appreciate their time, their energy, their encouragement.  Even when you don’t think they were very helpful, thank them.

Be persistent – The economy is rebounding.  There are more jobs available, but I still tell people to plan for their search to take one month for every $10,000 in annual salary they hope to earn.  A $50k job might take 5 months to find.  Not any $50k job – but the right $50k job for you.  Plan the work, and work the plan.

If you are reading this blog thinking “but I don’t know how to do these things,” then you’ve come to the right place.  Search this blogs for tips on all of these subjects.  Or, buy the book (see below).  Or read someone else’s book or blog.  The help is there – the jobs are there – we just need to get you connected with one of them.

Speaking of resolutions – I resolve to help you find that next-best job in 2016.  Happy New Year!

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another.  Now available in both print and eBook formats!  Click here for more details.


New Years: Remembrances and Resolutions – Part 1

Looking back – wow!  Its hard to believe that 2015 is over.  I encourage you to take a few minutes and reflect on this year – the good and the bad.  For me, this was a good year professionally.  It was a good year educationally as I’ve finished my coursework and begun working on my PhD dissertation.  I can celebrate having a wonderful and supportive family.  That family celebrated the life of my father who passed away in May.  My respect for him and the impact he made on so many people’s lives continues to grow.  Editorially, I’m Fired came out in print and for the second consecutive year over 1,000 people visited the website.  If you are one of those people, thank you.  I can confidently say I am a fortunate man.

So, how about you?  If you’re reading this blog it is likely that you are a job seeker.  Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe not, but there is more to your life than your job.  Use this opportunity to take it all in, and appreciate what you have, and make time to let others know that you appreciate what they mean to you.  If you are in job search, reflect back on what you know and what you’ve learned.  You will need a good sense of where you came from before you can clarify where you want to go.

Take time today, before the celebrations tonight, to look back on 2015.  Enjoy your successes, remember those who you lost, accept what you have, and know that you are not alone.  One of my favorite poems is Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, and I encourage you to read it.  When I was in college, the Dean of Men had poster-sized version on the wall behind his desk and he would regularly recite it to young men who were struggling.  The final lines are:

“and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.  With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.  Be careful.  Strive to be happy.”

Happy New Year!  Come back tomorrow and we’ll talk about resolutions.

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another.  Now available in both print and eBook formats!  Click here for more details.


Welcome to … The Holiday Zone (redux)

This is an update to a previous post        

For those of you old enough to remember this – imagine some twinkling music in the background and Rod Serling’s voice saying …

“Job seeker, you’ve noticed something has changed – there are fewer openings – no one returns your calls – everyone seems distracted. It’s because you have entered —— the Holiday Zone.”

I don’t have any factual data to back up what I’m about out to tell you, but I do have 30 years of experience. The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is a frustrating time to be a job seeker. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but it is reality.

From an organization’s perspective, this is not the time to try to fill a job. They know that people who have jobs, stop looking for new jobs during the holidays. They likely have spent their recruiting budget, and they wont’ be buying any new advertising or creating any new jobs until after the first of the year. Everything slows down until January.

The same is true for the employed job seeker. They will spend their weekends and evenings shopping, wrapping, and attending holiday parties, not looking for jobs.

So, if you are unemployed, what do you do? Just put your search on the shelf for a month? No, you keep working, but you work smart.

Use holiday parties as networking activities. Meet new people, tell them your story, and ask if you can connect after the first of the year to exchange information and contacts.

Take this time to do some more intensive corporate research. Look at the local news websites to find which companies are in the news for charitable giving or other social outreach; then add them to your Target list and make plans to contact them in January – and when you do, mention how you support their good works.

Volunteer to work for a community organization that helps families over the holidays and do some networking with other volunteers. If you do schedule a networking meeting, take a few holiday cookies as a thank you gift.

Spend some time on your resume, maybe it is time for a complete resume makeover; reorganize, rewrite, and refresh.

The point is, you can’t control the calendar, you can only control how you respond to it. You can curl up in a ball and wait for January, or you can spend your time productively. You won’t see as many postings, you won’t get as many interview, and people won’t be as available to network; but that does not mean you can’t keep looking and making yourself better so that come January, you are ready to knock their socks off.

Enjoy the season, recognize your blessings, and get ready for a fantastic 2016.

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Now available as in both print and eBook formats! Click here for more details.


Attention Holiday Shoppers!

Just in time for your holiday shopping, I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another is now available in print! Whether your company calls it a layoff, a termination, or a reduction in force, the bottom line is that you are out of a job and need to find a new one. So how do you do that? There are no easy answers or quick fixes, but there are some straightforward techniques that in the end may mean you don’t just find a job, but you build a career.

Buy the book here for a great stocking suffer for the job seeker in your life. Or, if you prefer the ebook, buy the Nook version at Barnes & Noble (also available in other formats from Smashwords).  If you want advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out the I’m Fired?!? blog.

Happy Holidays!


Follow the Rules

Lately, I’ve been recruiting to fill a job in my department, and I can’t tell you how frustrating it is when job seekers don’t follow instructions. Before they click the “apply” button on the website, applicants are advised that they must be prepared to upload a resume and a cover letter and that their cover letter should express their salary expectations.

My estimate is that less than ten percent of applicants meet all three of those simple requirements. Because the system requires two documents, about half load their resume twice – once as a cover letter and once a the resume. No more than one-in-ten mention salary.

Job seekers – when you fail to follow simple and explicit directions in the application process, it makes it extremely hard to convince the employer that you will follow simple and explicit directions as an employee.

You must read and follow all directions in the application process. Even if you think the directions are silly, if you think they ask for information they don’t need, or if you think answering the question will negatively affect your application, you must follow the rules. If you don’t, you run a strong risk that your application will not even be considered.

I’ve written before about the importance of a cover letter, and you should never submit a resume without a cover letter (unless they specifically instruct you NOT to submit a cover letter – which I’ve never heard of).  A cover letter is a necessary tool in framing your resume.

Now, you don’t just have to follow the rules. For example, if they don’t require a cover letter, you should still send one. They might tell you to apply via human resources – and you should – but you should also attempt to get your cover letter and resume directly to the hiring manager. You may need to explain why you can’t supply something they have requested, but at least that is better than simply ignoring their request.

So, simple lesson for today, follow the rules. And then find ways to expand the rules in your favor.

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Available as an eBook and soon in print! Click here for more details.


But Do I Have To?

I talked to a guy last week who had recently lost his job and was struggling with finding a new one. His former company had provided him some outplacement assistance, but he told me, “All they want me to do is this networking stuff and talk to all these people that I don’t know. I don’t really want to do that, do I have to?”

If you’ve followed this blog, you know that of course my answer was “No, you don’t have to do that. It’s hard, and I know you don’t want to do it. You don’t have to. I’m sure that if you put ‘new job’ on your Christmas list that Santa will hook you up. Plus, if you expand your financial investment strategy via playing the lottery, that will easily provide enough income for your to live on. And didn’t your parents just finish off their basement?  I’m sure they won’t mind if you sleep on the couch for awhile.”

Okay, I recognize that sarcasm may not be an effective communication tool. My apologies.

The real answer is; if you want access to the best jobs, and if you want to find your next job as quickly as possible, then yes, you need to network. And the more you do it, the faster it will work.

To maximize your job search, you must use every available avenue, simultaneously. You need to look at job boards, you need to look at company websites, you need to read the want-ads, you need to do volunteer opportunities, you need to use social media, and you need to network. You need to make sure that as many people as possible know who you are and what you do best. You need to create the situation so that when a job comes open, somebody in that loop already knows about you and calls you, rather than posting that opening online.

Networking will do much for you beyond finding you a job. Networking will build your self-confidence, improve your communication skills, and allow you to meet a whole lot of wonderful people who are willing to help you. And then, when you flip that around and become a networking resource for someone else, networking allows you to teach, guide, and give back.

For many people, networking is uncomfortable and unnatural, but I’m afraid it remains the biggest and best key to effective job search. No, you don’t have to do it, but be prepared for a longer and less effective job search.

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Available as an eBook and soon in print! Click here for more details.


Anticipation Redux

(This is an update to a post from August, 2014.)

What are your great memories of anticipation? Trying to go to sleep on Christmas Eve? The last day of school? The last day before school started? How about right before you got married?

Now think again about some of those times. Mixed with that excitement, was there also a touch of fear, or a note of doubt. You were sure that whatever was going to happen was going to be great – or at least you were pretty sure – right?

Your job search will probably be filled these times. Maybe you’re a finalist for job, going in for your last interview. It would be great to get back to work, this sounds a like a good place to work, the people have been very nice, but … the work seemed a little tedious – not exactly what you’d like to do. What if you take the job and it starts off great, but after a few weeks the newness wears off and now it’s just a job. Did you make a mistake? Should you keep looking?

Recently a friend of mine had a similar “problem.” He was getting ready to interview for two jobs. He was more interested in Job A than Job B, but both were better than his current job. He had sleepless nights trying to figure out what to do if Job B made him an offer before Job A did.

Here’s the deal, you need to control what you can control – and that is you. Rather than stress before (or during) the interview about what you’ll do if they do (or don’t) offer you a job, be in the moment. Put 100% of yourself into the process and wait to see what happens. If you are in a new job and feeling a bit of buyer’s remorse – set it aside and do your job the best you can do it.  If, after you’ve tried it you decide you made a mistake, look for a new job.

I heard the phrase once that worrying was “borrowing trouble” – taking tomorrow’s problems and making them issues in your life today. As best you can, don’t do that. Live in the present, do what you can to be successful today, and let tomorrow take care of itself. Take it from a guy who’s lost his job six times. Things work out. Control what you can control and let the rest take care of itself.

BTW – Here is some real life anticipation. In 1998, I had an idea for a book and started writing. In 2015 I’m Fired?!? was published as an eBook. Last week I held a proof of the paper version in my hands and it should be available in about a month. Sometimes you just have to learn to be patient.

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Available as an eBook and soon in print! Click here for more details.


I Want You To Want Me

In 1977 the band Cheap Trick first sang:

I want you to want me
I need you to need me
I’d love you to love me
I’m begging you to beg me
I want you to want me

While this is a great classic-rock song, it should not be your mantra as a job seeker.

Too many times, I have talked with a candidate and I could hear the desperation in their voice. They really wanted me to offer them this job. Maybe it was the perfect job for them. Maybe it was an okay job that they though could grow into something better. Maybe they had just been out of work too long and were ready for anything. I don’t know, but their desperation did not help get them the job.

Success in job search, as in much of business life, is about self-confidence. As Max Ehrmann wrote in Desiderata, “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

If you are reading this blog, it is likely you are involved in a job search. Please remember that you are a unique individual, who is not defined by your job or your employment status. If you don’t get this, you’ll get the next one. I understand the financial need to be employed. I understand the emotional needs to be connected to an organization and to find value in working and providing.

You may really want this job, or you may really need this job. But you need to make sure that as you interview, the interviewer hears a calm, professional voice that tells them why you are the best candidate they will find for this job, and not a voice that sounds like three-year old who really, really, really wants another scoop of ice cream.

Believe in yourself. Work hard. The next job won’t be too far away.

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Available soon in print! Click here for more details.


Summer Doldrums

I don’t know about you, but where I am it is HOT. Everything slows down in the summer. Don’t be surprised if the same thing happens to your job search.

The employment process is usually cyclical. At the first of the year companies are launching new strategic initiates, have new budgets, and job postings explode. Managers are anxious to fill new jobs and things can happen quickly. As winter turns to spring, other interests take over and the process moves to less frantic pace.

Then, as spring becomes summer it is as if someone throws a switch and everything goes into slow motion. Fewer jobs are posted. It takes longer to schedule interviews. Vacations, retreats, and conferences occupy more time, and the hiring process is set aside.

Around Labor Day that mysterious someone will flip that switch back and the activity will be frantic again, trying to make up for the time lost over the summer. In October, it will level off and come Thanksgiving things will virtually shut down until the first of next year.

As a job seeker, these cycles can be very frustrating. You can hardly keep up in the busy times and in the slow times, you can’t get anyone to even return a phone call or look at your resume. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to alter the cycle.

Know that you are not alone, and it’s not just you. Be diligent; follow up periodically to make sure they know you are still interested – but not so much that you become annoying. Be as flexible as possible to accommodate other’s schedules. Practice patience and understanding – these can be great life lessons.

Summer will be ending soon. Use the slow time to perfect your resume, practice your interview questions, and research your targets. While summer is slow, early fall can be frenetic. Get ready. That job you’re looking for will be here soon.

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Available soon in print! Click here for more details.