Later this afternoon I will be competing in a Corn Hole tournament. For those of you not familiar with the sport, it involves trying to toss a 1-pound bean-bag through a 6-inch hole that is about 30 feet away. To be clear, this is a charity event. I’m not any good at corn hole, in fact I’ve only played three or four times. But, I support Rebuilding Together – Kansas City, a fantastic organization that repairs homes for those who cannot afford to pay for repairs. I fully expect to lose big and lose early, but I also expect to have fun.
I’ve been thinking about this game and this tournament, and how I can relate it to job search. I’ve think I’ve found a few parallels.
- Corn hole involves repeating the same process over and over. You might throw as many as 40-50 bags in one game, depending on the skill level of both you and your opponent. Networking is like that. You need to keep meeting people, telling them your story, and asking for their help by referring you to others.
- To be good at corn hole (which I am not) you need to practice and you’ll get better (which I am). Again, the same holds for networking. The more people you meet, the easier it is to tell them your story and to ask for help.
- Corn hole utilizes cancellation scoring. For each inning you add up the total score for each team, subtract the lower number from the higher number, and the net is the number of points the team scoring the higher number gets. Interviewing for a job is like that. In the end, it does not matter how applications you submit, or how many interviews you have. It only matters that for at least one job, you have more successful interviews than the other candidates, and you get the job.
- Corn hole is a social game (especially at my level). Competitors talk, laugh, have an occasional beer, and get to know each other. Networking should be like that as well. While the end result is to find a job, the process is about getting to know people, making new friends, and personal growth.
I understand that some of this may be s stretch, but I think they hold together. Have fun, don’t take yourself too seriously, enjoy meeting people, stretch yourself, grow a little, and you’ll come out on the other end, not only with a new job, but being a slightly better version of yourself. If you are struggling with your job search, try this: https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/.
There is an old joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer, “Practice, practice, practice.” The same is true to the question, “How should you prepare for an interview?” but it’s not as funny.
All kidding aside, here is what I encourage you to do. Find a list of the most common, or the best interview questions. You can Google it, or there is a list of my favorites in the back of my book. For each question, write our answers. Really. Don’t just think about them. Write them down. Work on your answers until you like the way they sound. Then, and here comes the strange part, say them out loud, over and over.
Several things are happening. When you read the question and think about your response you being to create a short-term memory. The more you roll that answer around in your head, the more you are likely to remember it. But, if you then write it down, the writing part engages different parts of your brain because now it’s not just a thought, now, you have to cause your hands to move in relationship to the words. FYI the research supports that hand-writing is even more effective than typing so tell that to your student who is taking notes on their laptop.
Now you’ve thought about that answer, and written down so you’ll have a better chance to remember it. The next step is to practice saying it. The act of speaking the words out loud will do two things. One, as you hear what you wrote, you will probably find that you need to change a few words so it sounds like you. More importantly, you’ve now engaged more parts of our brain and that answer will locked in concrete. The more your practice, the more comfortable you’ll get.
It is very unlikely that an interviewer will ask you exactly the questions you have prepared answers for, but you will know the material well enough that you’ll easily be able to put things together on the fly. You will come across as thoughtful and well spoken. You’ll be ready for any interview.
This is all about the power of practice – not just thinking about things, but writing them down and then really practicing them out loud. Your dream job is out there and waiting for you. Get ready for it by practicing. If you are struggling, this might help. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/
Recently I was reading a magazine article and was blown away by concept. I live in the Greater Kansas City Missouri area. Located in the Midwest, our labor market has been shielded from much of the craziness that seems to happen on both coasts. Our cost of living and cost of labor are much lower. From an HR perspective, this is good news.
Then, the pandemic happened, and everyone learned that they could work from home and be just as productive. Unfortunately (at least for me) organizations learned that they no longer have to hire staff in their geographic area. Now we have companies located on the coasts who are recruiting in my lower-wage labor market for employees who want to work remotely. These companies are able to offer higher salaries (because their cost structure is based on a different labor market) along with the ability to work from home, while you continue to enjoy our lower cost of living. Yikes!
Okay, as a Midwest employer this is bad for me, but this is great for you, the job seeker, wherever you are. While you are looking for jobs in your area, also spend some time looking for jobs in your chosen field, but with firms located in higher cost of living areas like Chicago, New York, California, Washington D.C., etc. who are offering remote work. In job-search engines, use “remote” as a keyword. As a test, I looked on indeed.com and searched “Human Resources Remote” for Chicago and got 179 hits. For New York I got 367!
Remote work is not for everyone. You need a higher level of focus and discipline. You need to have a place where you can work, be organized, and have good internet access. But, if you are able and interested, the pandemic just opened a new door to your job search. Don’t be afraid to walk through it – after you get vaccinated.
If you find that opportunity and need help with your resume or interviewing, this might help, https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/
I am not sure anyone really understands what’s happening with the economy or the labor market. I have a PhD in business and 35 years of experience in human resources and much of what’s happening does not make much sense to me.
According the May unemployment report form the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is hovering around 6.1%. There were hopes that it would have dropped more, and lots of talking-heads are suggesting why it hasn’t. But, here is what bothers me. In February 2020, before the pandemic, the unemployment rate was 3.5% and there were 152.5 million people who had jobs (this number excludes military and farm workers). That means that the total workforce (working plus unemployed) was approximately 158.1 million workers.
The May, 2021 numbers (6.1% unemployed and 144.3 million working), indicate that the total workforce was 153.7 million workers. Where did the 4.4 million workers go? If unemployment should drop to a pre-pandemic level of 3.5%, there will still be over a 4 million workers who appeared to have disappeared.
Rest assured, most of them are still with us. The overall population is still growing. The reality is they quit working and stopped looking for work. Many are Baby Boomers who just decided it was time to retire. Some are parents who decided to stay home with their children. Others simply just gave up.
But this is a blog about job search, not geeking out on the economy, so what does this mean to you? It means, there are jobs. In fact, there are likely to be labor shortages in some sectors. As “unprecedented” as these times are, the economy is rebounding, companies are hiring, and there are jobs. They may not be exactly what you were looking for, but those jobs may still lead to fulfilling and successful careers.
Bottom line: take hope, keep pressing ahead, work your network, tell your story, and you will be successful. If you need help with your jobs search, try this https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/.