I have to say that this may be the strangest job market I’ve ever seen. We are coming out of the pandemic (hopefully) and businesses are doing well. Unemployment is almost gone, yet through pandemic over 4,000,000 people left the job market and now we have critical labor shortages. In my area many restaurants are offering only take-out service because they are unable to find enough wait-staff to open for in-dining services. Then, there are still people standing on street corners asking for help because they can’t find a job – right in front of signs that say “We’re Hiring”. It is all very wacky.
Right now, if you want a job, you can get a job. It might be working in a warehouse, in the hospitality industry, or in retail, but you can work. Now, if you want to find your dream job, well, that might be a little more difficult.
The message I try to share with this blog, and book, is that if you want a vibrant career where you work for a company you love, doing things you like to do, the best way to find that job is through networking. Meeting people, telling them about you, asking them to introduce you to others, and repeating that process, over, and over, and over. When you do that, you’ll eventually meet the hiring manager who has been looking for someone exactly like you.
Yes, that takes work and time. Yes, it can be uncomfortable for many people. Yes, you will have to face rejection on a regular basis. But it works. And I believe that it is the only thing that works on a consistent basis for virtually everyone who does it (and I mean really does it.)
In this labor market you can find a job tomorrow, and if you need one badly then you should do that. But if you really want to find the right job for you, you need to network. It is as simple as that. If you are struggling, this might help. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/
As you sit down to write your elevator speech, or practice your potential interview questions, one thing you have to be clear on is: who are you? You need to know yourself, what you are good at, where you need to improve (you don’t need to tell others that), and what you want to do. One thing I highly recommend is that you learn, or confirm, these things by taking some tests. Here are a few of my favorites. There are many, many more on the web.
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. This is a great little book that explains what emotional intelligence is, provides an excellent online assessment of your emotional intelligence, and then provides exercises to improve.
Strength Finders 2.0 by Tom Rath. Strength Finders is an outstanding assessment that helps you find out what you are good at, so you can do more of that. This book by Tom Rath explains the assessment, has a link to an online test, and then helps you better understand your top five strengths and how to make the most of them.
DiSC – Since the ancient Greeks men have been creating personality assessments that evaluate your personality relative to four components. The Greeks used water, wind, earth and fire. My favorite simple assessment is the DiSC profile which stands for Dominance, influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. You can pay from $0 to $100 for a DiSC online. While you may take the same test, the more you pay, the more information you generally learn about yourself. I’ve included a link to one quality vendor – there are more.
Enneagram – the Enneagram is a very different form of personality assessment that may help in day-to-day living as much as in the workplace. Check out the Enneagram Institute for lots of information.
o*net Interest Profiler – this is an online career interest assessment offered by the US Department of Labor. While it will take more than just a few minutes to take the test, it may help you identify a career area you had not been considering.
Take some time, assess yourself, learn to talk about your strengths and passions. They will lead you past your next job and into a satisfying career. If you are struggling with your job search, this might help. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/
When my parents went to work after college they could reasonable expect to work for one company for their entire careers, and they did for 42 and 54 years respectively. When I graduated college, it was assumed that my generation would work for 2-4 companies over our careers, predominately in the same field. But as my children entered the workforce, it was predicted that they would have 3-5 different careers over their lifetime.
Organizations are much better today at recognizing strengths and transferrable skills. The best organizations look past your specific experience and instead focus on talent, skills, and fit. Do you have the ability to do what they need? Do you have the skills required to be successful in that organization? Do you fit with their culture and their team? Those things, in that order, are way more important than where you worked or what you were responsible for.
On your resume, spend the most energy on your accomplishments. What did you get done and how did that impact the organization? If you did it for them, you can do it for the next company too. Update your Summary and Accomplishments sections for every job you apply for, and tailor them to that job at that company.
And don’t be afraid to look outside your field and/or industry. Sell your talent and skills, not your history. Work where you find passion. I know two people who had good, successful careers, and dropped them to attend coding bootcamps and both are now successful coders. I started out as an Industrial Engineer, and now I’m a human resources guy. Don’t plan for your career to move in only one direction.
The bottom line is that you should not define your job search looking backwards at what jobs you’ve done. Direct your search towards what you are good at, and what you are passionate about. Be prepared to talk about your strengths and skills, more than your former job titles and responsibilities. You’ll find a job that will be more satisfying and fulfilling. If you are struggling with your job search, this might help. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/
It’s summertime, time for vacations, right? But, if you don’t have a job, should you be taking a vacation? Well, like the answer to most good questions, it depends.
I strongly encourage you to treat looking for a job like a full-time job. Get up at the same time every day, shower, get dressed, have a cup of coffee, and get to work. Then, spend the next 8 hours looking for a job, every weekday. Work some on the weekends as needed. While every day might not be jammed packed, you should be able to fill the majority of every day with search activities: looking for jobs, researching companies, working on your resume and target list, practicing your interview questions, and filling every other minute networking – setting up, attending, and following up on meeting new people. Finding is a job is hard work, and you won’t find your dream job just watching TV or playing video games.
But you need balance. You need to make sure you are taking care of you. Looking for a job probably has a more flexible schedule than a regular job, so take the opportunity to exercise more, lose some weight if you need to. Do mindfulness exercises to reduce your stress and improve your mental health. If you have extra time, don’t wile it away on the couch, invest in in yourself, your family and your community.
And, like with a regular job, you need a break every once in a while. Depending on your finances, if you can afford a vacation, take it. If you can’t afford to go away, take a staycation. Work on projects around the house, take the kids to the zoo, or just go play in the park. Handle it just like you would if you were working. Plan for it. Use the out-of-office message on your email. Maintain your disciplines just like you were working a full-time job, but get away, relax and recharge. Then, come back refreshed and get at it.
Throughout the job search process, you need to take care of yourself so that when you land that new job you can be at your best, not exhausted and worn out. Work a vacation into your plan. Rest and recharge, then hit it hard when you get back. If you are struggling with your job search, this might help: https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/
To get a good job you’ll probably need to go through a criminal background check, a drug screen, and maybe a check of your credit and/or driver’s license. It is a perfectly legal and extremely common practice to run background checks and/or drug screens on either all applicants, or at least on the finalist, for many, if not most jobs. You need to be ready and to recognize that your past behavior may affect your employability.
Typically, a company requesting a criminal background check is looking for evidence of violence or theft. If they are an organization that deals with children or youth, they are specifically looking for crimes against children. A credit check is typically only used for those people who might be handling finance or accounting. They want to know if you can manage your own money before they let you manage theirs. And many jobs involve operating a motor vehicle (yours or theirs) on company business, so you need to have a valid drivers license and not have a history of multiple accidents/tickets/etc.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a perfect record. We all make mistakes, some just bigger than others. If you believe your background could make it hard to get a specific job, you have two good choices and one bad choice.
The first good choice is to simply not apply for jobs you know you can’t get. If you are a registered sex-offender, don’t even try to work at a school. Bank robbers won’t get jobs at banks. Huge debt or multiple bankruptcies may keep you from being a CFO. Those are pretty cut-and-dried.
The other good answer is to be up front. Let’s say five years ago you got in fight in a bar and were convicted of aggravated assault. Be up-front about it. Before you give them permission to run the criminal background check, tell them what happened. Help them to understand the situation, hopefully that was a one-time thing and what you learned from that. Admitting that there could be things on your record is way better than the recruiter being surprised to see them there.
The bad choice is to lie, deny, and deflect. Blaming someone else for your bad behavior or trying to explain to a recruiter how you were a victim of circumstance, or of poor law enforcement, is probably not going to help you get the job.
So, if you have things from your past that might show up on a criminal background, credit, or driver’s license check, be up front about them rather than letting the hiring manager be surprised. Honesty really is the best policy. If you are struggling, this might help https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/.
First things first, right? Let’s think backwards from when you start your new job. What steps did you have to take?
1) Pass the background check, 2) Interview (several times), 3) Apply for the job, 4) Find the job, 5) Network, 6) Write Elevator speech, 7) Work on Resume, 8) Get fired…, okay – that’s far enough.
Wait a minute. Number 6 – Write Elevator Speech? What’s that?
A key component of networking is to be able to tell your story. You need to be able to do that quickly and consistently. That story should be rich and compelling. It needs it to make people want to learn more about you. Nancy Collamer does a fantastic job of describing how to develop this 30-second gem in this blog post, so I don’t want try to top her. Read her post – twice!
I’ve said before, you should customize your resume for every job you apply for. To an extent you should be prepared to do this with your elevator speech as well. Point out your skills and accomplishments that best fit the job you are applying for or the industry you are interested in.
Being able to tell your story in around 30 seconds is critical to your job search. Learning how to write and deliver a good elevator speech, is a fantastic skill that will help you throughout your career. If you are struggling in your job search, this might help. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/
Happy Independence Day! This weekend we celebrate the 4th of July, the day that the United States declared independence from England. We’ll have barbeque and fireworks. Bands will play and families will gather. A great American holiday. Hopefully, we’ll also take some time to reflect. If it were not for the women and men of our Armed Forces, we wouldn’t be celebrating Independence Day. If not for their sacrifices, and their willingness, when necessary, to give their lives for our freedoms, we would live in a very different county. If you are member for our Armed Forces, a veteran, or a family member, thank you for your sacrifice. We can never adequately repay that debt.
But, many can also to celebrate independence from more than just England. Maybe you’ve broken the grip of chemical dependency. Maybe you’ve left a toxic relationship, or a really bad job. Maybe you’ve finished your formal education (at least for now) or maybe your last child has moved out of the house, and you are an empty-nester. Independence is phenomenal. The ability to do what we want, when we want it is one of the greatest gifts you can be given. An effective job search can help you find the right job and that job might put you one step closer to independence.
But, with independence, comes responsibility, to assist those who have not yet achieved independence. Look around you and find those that need your help. I believe it is that willingness to help others that has made our country great and will continue to propel us into the future.
Enjoy Independence Day, for whatever you are now independent of. If you are struggling with your job search, this might help. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/
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/