I Should Write a Book!

Your job search is slowing down and you’re thinking, maybe I need a different kind of job. Then the lightbulb clicks on, “I’ll write a book.”  Okay, good idea.  But as one who has written a book, knows several people who have written books, and read lots and lots of books, please allow me to give you some free advice.  (Remember, you get what you paid for.)

  1. Don’t plan on getting rich. While Stephen King and Patrick Lencioni are getting by on their royalties, don’t write to make money.  It takes multiple best sellers to truly generate cashflow you can live on.
  2. Don’t do it yourself.  It is now possible to write a book, publish it and have it available an Amazon all by yourself.  But, many (if not most) of those books are bad.  You need a good editor. You need a good proofreader.  You need someone who understands the business and can advise you on content, cover art, etc.  I was fortunate to get associated with Lighthouse Point Press and my book is 10 times better than if I had done it alone.
  3. Don’t think it’s easy.  Good writing is a skill that takes practice.  It is a craft.  You need to write a lot to practice your craft, to find your voice, and get comfortable with the process.  Start with blog and see if you can generate content that people want to read on a consistent basis.  Work your way up to writing a book.
  4. Don’t neglect your competition.  Let’s say you want to write a book on leadership.  If you search Amazon for books on leadership, you’ll get over 60,000 hits.  Books on Job Search – 20,000, Job Networking – 3,000. There is a lot of competition – and again, much of it is bad – but you can’t tell that from looking on Amazon.
  5. Don’t think it ends with publishing.  Finally, the reality becomes that writing the book was the easy part, now you have to sell it, and you will be the one who is in charge of marketing.

I don’t want to discourage you from a life-long dream to be an author.  I did it, I’m proud I did it, I think I did on okay job, and, I’m thinking about doing it again.  But, I’m not getting rich and it was a lot of work.  So, keep looking for your day job, and make time to write in your off hours.  If you are struggling to find that day job, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


How Long Should My Search Take?

I understand, really. You lost your job. You have bills to pay. You’re ready to go back to work.  The economy is still wonky. What you want to know is “how long will it take to find a new job.”  You better be sitting down, because you may not like my answer.

Long ago I learned a simple rule-of-thumb. You should be prepared for your job search to take one month for every $10k of annual salary you want to earn.  A lot of things have changed since I first heard that, so maybe now it is one month per $15k, but that math is harder to do.  Be prepared for a search for a $30,000 annual salary job to take 3 months and an $80,000 job could take 8 months.  I’ve been fired/laid off/RIFed/what-have-you six times.  The fastest I’ve ever found a job was about 4 weeks and the longest was 13 months.  

Your search may not take that long.  Some people are in the right place at the right time. If you already have a strong and well-maintained network, you may be able to speed up the process.  But, for the 1-month rule to be a rule, it has to be an average.  That means that for many of you it will take longer.  Unfortunately, recent experience by several of my friends, says the rule-of-thumb is still be pretty accurate.

What this means is that you need to be patient, persistent, prepared.  If you think you are at risk for losing your job, evaluate your assets.  If you have no other source of income and will rely on unemployment and savings, figure out how long they will last.  If you don’t have enough money for the rule-of-thumb, you may want to change your search process. You may need to settle for a lower paying job just to get some income flowing.  You might have to lower your standards, or look in another geographic area.  You just need to be prepared.

If, like me, you have a loving spouse with a good job and you can get by, then be patient and work the process.  Know that it probably won’t happen overnight, but it won’t happen on its own either.  You have to do the work, build the network, and get the system to work for you.

Patience may be a virtue, but when it comes to finding a new job, impatience often is just as important.  If you are struggling, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


Where Should I look?

It’s a question I get a lot.  Where is the best place to look for a job?  Is it Indeed, Monster, Zip Recruiter Workable, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and the list goes on and on.  The good news is that I have a very easy answer for that question.  Everywhere – and more.

As the Internet continues to grow, technology expands, and innovation is in the wind, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of places you can look online to find job postings, and you need to look at as many of them as you can.  Look at some of the biggest boards, especially Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn on a regular basis.  Some sites contain only the jobs posted there, while others are aggregators, collecting links to jobs posted on other sites.  On many sites you can create an account and the site will send you alerts when a job that matches your criteria is posted.

You also need to look on industry sites based on what you do – or want to do.  You need to look on company websites.  You should even look at your state’s unemployment website where they usually post jobs.  I’m sorry, but the short answer is everywhere.  As I’ve said before, if you are out of work, you need to make looking for a job a full-time job, so start clicking.

But, and this is a HUGE BUT, the odds are pretty good that you will not find the job you want if all you do is search the web and apply for jobs that appeal to you.  According to Matt Youngquist, president of Career Horizons, 70 to 80% of jobs are not published.  According to Payscale.com, that number could be as high as 85%.  The first time I heard this statistic was in the mid-1980’s and way back then it was 75%.  While technology has changed, it appears that people haven’t. 

So, if 70% or more of jobs don’t get posted, then how do you find out about them?  Networking.  The cold, hard fact is that if you want to find that perfect job, you need to talk to real people, tell them your story, ask them for help, and ask them who they know that you could talk to, and then repeat that process, over and over.  It may make you uncomfortable, but your option is to spend days and days searching the internet and fighting for jobs against hundreds of other job seekers who are doing the exact same thing.

In job search, almost always, when the question is, “Should I do A, or should I do B?”, the answer is do both.  You need to look online, you need to apply for jobs, and you need to research companies and their openings.  But you also need to network, meet people, and spread your story. 

Your dream job is out there and waiting for you.  You need to look for it on the net – everywhere, but you also have to ask people to help you find it.  If you are struggling, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


And so was Albert Einstein (or Maybe it was Jane Fulton)

In my last post I quoted Henry Ford who said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”  I support this idea and believe you need to believe in yourself and go forth with confidence. But, I suspect that some readers might have felt “Yeah, right, six months ago I would have believed you, but now I’m not so sure.” 

I hear that.  I once had to look for 13 months to find a job. So let me suggest another famous quotation.  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  This quote is widely attributed to Albert Einstein, but according to this site the author Rita May Brown originated the line in a novel. Regardless of the source, I believe it to be a true statement.

If your job search seems to be going on and on, and you are not having much success, you need to do something differently. Spend some time volunteering so that in addition to doing good work and clearing you head, you can meet some new networking contacts.  Take a course at the local community college to learn some new skills and meet new people. Consider looking in a different geographical area.  Get a part-time job working retail to give yourself something to do, make some money, and meet new people. Spend more time with your family. Whatever – just change things up.

Sometimes, you get so focused on your search that you lose sight of the bigger picture. Take a step back to examine and alter your process.  Maybe you need to change your goal, or maybe you just need to go about it in a different way. The economy is coming back.  Soon it is quite possible that there will be more jobs than people who want to fill those jobs.  You will find one, and while it might not be the perfect one, it may be the change you need to help you take the next step forward in your career. 

Life does not often follow a straight line.  One of my friends likes to say, “Man plans and God laughs.” None of us can predict the future.  We know what we want to happen, but it usually doesn’t turn out exactly that way.  If you a struggling, change things up. Do something different for a while.  Alter your search process.  Look in in different places.  Hopefully, change is what you need to get things moving in the right direction.

If you are struggling with your job search, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


Henry Ford was Right!

It can be difficult to be unemployed and to find a new job.  It is hard, frustrating work. You have to put yourself out there, swallow your pride, ask for help and take rejection – a lot.  You have to sell yourself.  You have to talk to strangers.  You have to make looking for a job a full-time job in itself.  How’s that for a depressing way to open a blog post?

But, people do it every day.  You have probably done it more than once already. There are lots of harder things you have done and will do in your life.  While challenging, the job search can also be a great learning experience, and if you do it right, you’ll come out at the other end with not just a new job, but with step up in your career, a number of new network contacts, and hopefully you’ll even learn something about yourself.  You will know that you stepped up, met the challenge, and were successful.  To sound like Polly-Anna, every cloud has silver lining.

I enjoy words.  I love songs more for the lyrics than the melodies.  I like to hear how someone can turn a phrase and make a complex idea simple, or provide that brief shot of motivation.  One of my favorite quotes is from Henry Ford.  Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” This quote is all about attitude and confidence.

Looking for a job can be hard work, and if you get up each day thinking, “I can’t do this – I’ll never find a job – no one wants to hire me,” then Ford would say “you’re right,” and you should probably go back to bed.   But the fact is, you’re wrong.  There are jobs. You have skills, and you can learn new ones. There are people who are willing to help you.  The opportunity is there for success.  Grab it!

But it starts with you. Think, “I can.”

If you are struggling with your job search, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


Where are you aiming?

When I network with job seekers, many are more adept at the search process than I was when I first had to do it.  They have good looking resumes; they know how to network; and they are getting better at being prepared and doing their research.  But most still have not prepared one of the most important job search documents.

If you are job seeker you need a Target List.  This is a list of 20-25 organizations where you think you might want to work.  You may not know if they have job openings, but they are organizations who might be a fit for you due to their industry, location, size, reputation, what-have-you.

Inevitably, during a networking meeting you ask, “Do you know anyone that I should talk to?”  All too often your host says, “No, I can’t think of anyone.”  The prepared job seeker then pulls out the Target List and says “Here is a list of organizations that I’d like to know more about.  Do you know anyone who works at any of these?”  Now the conversation can begin anew.

That list of companies will spark some potential contacts, “Oh, my next door neighbor works for XYZ Company.”  You may also hear, “You don’t want to work for that company; they’re a sweat shop.”  Whatever the feedback, you’ll have more information that you did at the beginning of the conversation and that’s what networking is all about.

Target Lists should be updated continually, adding new organizations and removing those that aren’t the fit you’d hoped they were.  Format the list to look like your resume – same headers, fonts, paper, etc.  You want this to be a professional looking document that has the same feel as your other search related papers.

If your networking is not yielding the success you need, add a Target List into the mix.  I guarantee it will make your networking sessions more productive and speed you on to that next career adventure.

If you are struggling with your job search, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


Hunting for Easter Eggs

Tomorrow is Easter.  Spring is here, the pandemic appears to be waning, and there is an atmosphere of hope in the air that we haven’t felt for a long time.  Hopefully, you will be able to spend some time with family and friends this weekend, and maybe you’ll get to hunt for Easter eggs.

In my family there is a tradition of hiding plastic eggs in and around the house, supposedly left by the Easter Bunny, and then allowing the children to hunt for those eggs.  Inside the eggs might be candy, money, small toys, or maybe stickers.  For me, the best eggs had chocolate in them, next came those with money (pennies and nickels), and then toys, and way at the bottom of the list were stickers.  I never was much of a sticker kind of kid.

Networking can sometimes feel like an Easter egg hunt.  You race around, looking in every corner, under every branch, and under every rock, hoping to find an egg (a new contact).  And then you find someone who is willing to talk with you and you arrange a meeting.  In your mind, you hope that when you open this contact they will pour out a mountain of chocolate eggs (new contacts).  It will be glorious!  But, when you finally crack open that egg, you find a wrinkled SpongeBob sticker.

Networking is a process. Every contact you meet will not hold the key to your future. But somebody does. If you work hard enough, there is a high likelihood that someone that you meet will lead you to your next job. Somebody will introduce you to somebody, who will introduce you to somebody, who has been looking for a person just like you. So, if you happen to open a whole carton of eggs filled with stickers, don’t stop.  Your chocolate egg is still out there.  Keep hunting.

I hope you have a wonderful and relaxing Easter Weekend.  If you are struggling with your job search, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


Burning Bridges …

Johnny Paycheck sings “Take this job and shove it, I ain’t workin’ here no more.”  There is something liberating about just writing those words, much less being able to say them.  But walking into your boss’s office and doing your best Johnny Paycheck interpretation probably isn’t great career advice (unless you can do it in style, go viral and get an offer from Queen Latifah).

Burning Bridges has some very different connotations.  In this post, Rebecca Thorman says that if burning bridges means cutting ties, then by all means, there are many good reasons to cut ties and move on.  I agree.  But she also says, “You shouldn’t just walk out. You should give notice and finish your projects and be polite (if for no other reason than your own sense of pride and accomplishment),” and that’s really where I come in.  

To me, burning bridges means a scorched earth policy.  It means trashing your former boss or company, or using confidential information inappropriately.  (Can you hear Johnny Paycheck in the background?) These are career limiting decisions and can have horrible effects on your job search.

Regardless of how you leave a job, leave it with as much dignity and grace as possible.  Follow Ms. Thorman’s advice.  After you’re gone, my advice is much like your mother’s was long ago, if you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything at all – especially in an interview.  No interviewer wants to hear you bash your former company or complain about how poorly they treated you. Be a grown up, highlight the good parts or stay quiet.  

I strongly support not burning your bridges, because you may need them.

If you are struggling with your job search, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


Your resume needs more than content – it needs context

Let’s talk about your resume.

Most resumes I see contain a career history; a list of jobs where the person has worked, and often some description of their duties or responsibilities.  But what is missing is context.  Someone may tell me they managed this, or implemented that, but there is nothing to suggest that they managed it well or what impact the implementation had on the organization.  Without the context, their “responsibilities” are interesting, but not particularly helpful.

A list of accomplishments tells the recruiter what you’ve done and how successful you’ve been. It provides context to your work history.  The premise is that what you have accomplished for prior organizations, you can accomplish for the next one.  The good news is, that premise is usually accurate.

Separate your career history (which you still need) from your accomplishments.  Include a section where you quantify what you’ve accomplished.   A “responsibility” might read: “Responsible for managing a staff of 14 with an operating budget of $500,000” which is impressive.  But imagine instead that the “accomplishment” said “Successfully managed a staff of 14 with an operating budget of $500,000 with turnover substantially below the organizational average and expenses within budget,” then we’d know a lot more about you.

Put together a list of 10-15 of your career highlight accomplishments, then pull the 5-7 that really fit the job you are applying for, and sort them by order of importance to the job you are applying for. Now you have a customize resume for a specific position.  In your cover letter, highlight the top one or two accomplishments.  Tell the hiring manager how much you increased sales or profits, reduced expenses, expanded market share, etc.  That is what will open their eyes, and get you the interview.

If you are struggling with your job search, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


Does Networking Really Work?

Maybe you’ve been looking for a job for a while, and you are getting frustrated?  I can understand that, but I need to stress networking really is the key.  I have worked for 14 different organizations in my life. Three were before I graduated from college and the rest make up my professional career.   I have applied for at least one-hundred jobs, online or via mail, and I’ve had lots of interviews; but I have never been hired because I responded to a job posting. 

I got my first job at age 14 by asking about a help-wanted sign in the window of a fast-food restaurant.  One time I found a job through a professional recruiter. Every other job I’ve had, I found through networking.  Each time, someone I knew suggested that I talk with someone they knew, and those introductions led to an interview, and to a job offer.

It’s also important to understand that I don’t quit jobs very often.  Seven of the organizations I have worked for asked me to leave due to position eliminations, business closings, or changes in ownership.  Once, I was recruited away, and once, I left a part-time job for a full-time job.  And twice, when I couldn’t find a job, I became a one-man consulting company. So, I needed to learn to network.

You should also know that some of my transitions were quick, and some were not.  The first time I got “fired” was my first job out of college. The bank I worked for was about to be sold and I was told on the Monday before Thanksgiving that my department was being eliminated and my job would end after Christmas.  The good news was that I got to be a stay-at-home dad with my infant daughter for a month.  And, I networked into a better job before my severance ran out.  Twice, I was able to identify a new job before the current job ended, so I easily moved from one to the next.  One time I looked for three months before deciding to give consulting a try full time.  One time it took me 13 months to land a new job.

So, I get it.  Job search can be frustrating and exhausting.  You may find a job quickly, or your search could drag on, and on. And, while you need to work with search firms and to apply for jobs you see advertised, networking is the key. Through networking you can learn more, reach more people, and find jobs that are never advertised (six of my jobs were never posted).

From my experiences I wrote a book.  If you are struggling, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/