Change – But Don’t

So, how goes your search? Have you been at it a while? Frustrated? Here is one of my favorite quotes (from Einstein), “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Can you apply this to your job search?

The secret to finding your next job is networking – meeting people, telling your story, learning from them, and asking them to introduce you to others so you can repeat the process – over, and over, and over. Sounds like insanity doesn’t it?

It can be, and it can be tedious, exhausting and frustrating; but you have to do it. So how can you change, and still stay the same? Here are some ideas:

  •  Shake up your “elevator speech” and try different variations
  • Meet at different locations
  • Hold some meetings virtually via Skype, chat or over the phone (face-to-face is best).
  • Try arranging the meetings via email instead of telephone
  • Try to meet with two people from the same organization at the same time (group networking)

Yes, networking can be draining, but it remains the primary key to the kingdom. So, shake it. Find some ways to make it fun. Make it a game and compete with yourself. Do whatever you need to do, but don’t stop – AND, don’t let those you are networking see that you are tired and frustrated. Your appearance of desperation will not improve the quality of your networking.

Now, take this Memorial Day holiday to step back, stretch, reflect, and remember those that have meant so much in your life. Then, tomorrow, let’s get busy and find you that next job.

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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. Click here for more details.


Feelings, Nothing More than Feelings … (redux)

(This post was first published in December, 2013. It’s been awhile and I think some of you need to read it for the first time and others need to read it again.)

Anybody a fan of the movie Big?  I love it when Tom Hanks sings this Barbara Streisand song to his mom to prove that he is really her missing little boy.

How does it feel to get fired?  Simple – it sucks.  It’s like getting punched in the stomach. Even when you know its coming it is an awful feeling.  I’ve been blindsided a couple of times. The boss calls you in.  You think everything is going great.  Then she says, “I’m sorry but we’ve decided to make a change.  We’re eliminating your position.  Your last day will be …”

You don’t really hear much after that. Your head starts to swim.  You feel a little nauseated.  Depending on how quickly you move through the stages I wrote about in an earlier post you may get angry. You may try to plead.  Your fight or flight instincts kick in and sometimes you just want to get the heck out of there.

You’re probably reading this because you’ve already been fired and know what I’m talking about. If so, then you may be wondering why I’m wasting your time recalling bad memories.

Here’s why.  You need to remember what that feels like.  I don’t know if you got fired yesterday, last week, or 10 years ago, but look at where you are today.  You’re alive.  The world continues to revolve, the sun rises and sets.  Life goes on, and no matter how bad you felt when that happened, you survived.

It might have been difficult to talk about – maybe it still is.  It’s always hard to tell your family – believe me I know that.  But you’ll go on.  Follow this blog. Read the book (soon I hope).  Build a network. There are people who can and will help you.

Now let’s get busy and find you that next job.

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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. Click here for more details.


Merry Christmas

Okay – it is the Saturday before Christmas – stuff is flying off the shelves in stores – presents are being wrapped – and you just watched It’s a Wonderful Life for the third or fourth time. So, how is this helping you find a job? It is – indirectly.

I know what it feels like. Twice I was laid off in late-November and I know that it sucks to be unemployed during the holidays. But I also know that in most situations there is not much you can do about it, so don’t fret.

In about two weeks, the job world will change. The New Year brings new budgets, new jobs, and new energy to the job market. Recruiters have new goals. And it looks like the economy is continuing to rebound.

For now, relax and recharge. Spend some time with your family. In your quiet time do your research, build your target list, and work on your resume. Now is a great time to write out answers to sample interview questions and practice saying them aloud. Get yourself ready, because January will be a sprint.

I wish you all the best for a most wonderful holiday season.

Are you trying to decide on the perfect holiday gift for an unemployed friend (or spouse)? Give them a copy of I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Click here for more details.


What Makes You a Unicorn?

Recently a friend was told by a recruiter that the reason his job search was taking so long was that every recruiter was looking for a unicorn. The economy is rebounding from several years ago, the number of workers is going up, and the unemployment is rate is going down. But that does not mean that things are going back to where they were before.

In the rescission, companies learned to do more with less, and that is a lesson they learned well. They may be adding staff, but they are doing it more selectively than before. They are looking for people that have exactly the right skills, knowledge and abilities that they need; and because the pool of unemployed workers is still large and diverse, if they wait long enough they can find their unicorn.

Now, you’re looking in the mirror. Only two feet, no glossy white hair all over your body, no long flowing tail, and especially no long pointy horn protruding from your forehead. You scream in anguish “I’m not a unicorn!” But I say, yes you are.

Every job seeker has a unique blend of knowledge, skills and abilities. And the great thing about people? They can be taught! If there is something you don’t know that you ought to know, learn it! If you can access this blog, you have access to a wealth of learning opportunities.

But, maybe your issue isn’t what you don’t know, it is that you’re not telling anyone. Maybe recruiters don’t know that you are the unicorn they are looking for. This is the primary reason you want to update your cover letter and resume every time you apply for a job. Make sure to highlight the skills and experience you have that fit the requirements they are asking for. Show that you do have four feet. Don’t just have one elevator speech, have 10; each one showing a different perspective on the glossy white coat and flowing tail. In the interview, answer the questions in such a manner to throw light on that long white horn.

For most of us, there are some jobs we want, but we really are not the unicorn they want. But for lots of other jobs, we are just what they want – they just don’t know it. We just need to work a little harder, polish up your horn, throw back your head, and make whatever noise a unicorn makes. Be the unicorn and make sure they see the unicorn in you.

For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.


The Seven Ps of Job Search

I had an idea – a blog post about persistence. I talked with a friend of mine not long ago and he told me that he was 0 – 60 in applications. He’d applied for 60 jobs and had yet to get an interview. Then, not more than a month later, I saw his LinkedIn update that he had a new job – and a good one. He had shown persistence and not given up.

Then I thought, maybe he had also shown perseverance. Not only had he needed to keep going looking (persistence) but he had also faced challenges. Over that time, he had income pressures. After an extended period of unemployment, it is easy to lose confidence, and he’d worked through that. Yeah, perseverance was a good word.

Positivity is another good word for his situation. During an extended search it is easy, and understandable, to get depressed. The problem is that depression feeds depression. If you allow yourself to feel down, it shows. The people you interview or network can feel it. They are less likely to hire you or share contacts if they sense you aren’t really interested. That interest jumps when you are enthusiastic and exude positive energy.

My friend also understood power. He knew that his attitude affected others and he knew that when you feel powerful, you are more confident and successful. Check out this amazing Ted Talk.

Planning was another constant in his search. Every week he planned his calls, follow-ups and thank you’s. He made plan for finding a new job and he worked that plan.

Another strength was praise. Throughout his search, he showered praise and encouragement on others. He did not miss an opportunity to thank someone for their time or support. He spoke well of his former employers and opportunities.

Finally, he was at peace. It’s easy to get angry. Angry at those who fired you and those who don’t hire you. However, anger is generally not a very helpful emotion. Peace, on the other hand is calming, reassuring, and steady. Peace is not passivity, indifference, or acceptance. It is a calm, controlled, assurance of good things to come.

So, persistence led me to perseverance, positivity, power, planning, praise and finally peace – the seven Ps of job search. Spend some time today thinking about your search and how you can put these Ps to work for you.

For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.


Time to Reconsider?

If you lost your job in the last 30-60 days, this may not be the post for you. About 30 years ago, my outplacement counselor gave me this rule of thumb and even as the economy has gone up and down, it still holds true. If you’re looking for a job, you should plan for your job search to take about 30 days for every $10,000 you want to earn in annual salary. If you want a $40,000 job, plan to look for 4 months – $60k = 6 months. That isn’t a law, it’s just an average and I’ve seen it repeat over and over. If you have an active network, it can go faster. If you’re starting from scratch or if you are in a particularly competitive field, maybe it will take longer. As I’ve said before, I’ve done this 7 times and it’s taken between 2 weeks and 13 months.

This post is directed to those in who are approaching or have passed that average. If you’ve been looking for months and months and are not having much luck, maybe you need to reconsider a few things. The popular press suggests that kids coming out of college today will change jobs every few years and will change careers 4-5 times before they retire. Those of us old enough to have children who are out of college find that hard to comprehend. I’ve been an HR guy for 30 years and I really can’t imagine doing anything else, but if I’m out of work for more than 6 months again, you can bet I will be thinking of what else I could be doing.

In the midst of an extended search is a great opportunity to be introspective. Who are you, and whom do you want to be when you grow up? Is there a passion in your life that is not being met? Is there an area where you can serve that will bring out something different in you? Would a little schooling help you to find a new spark and a new direction?

I’m not suggesting you abandon all hope and take a leap of faith into a new field, but I am suggesting that you open your mind to it. Network in a new direction. Volunteer where you can learn or use a different skill. Take a part time job that lets you explore a new industry.

You may find that you know who you are and you need to keep your career search on your original track. You may also discover a new energy, passion, and direction. Be open-minded. Let the search take you where it takes you. You just never know what you might find – or what might find you.

For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.


Take a Break

If you’ve been reading this blog, this advice may sound a bit out of character for me. You’ve heard me advocate that if you are out of work, you need to make finding a job your new full time job. You need to spend just as many hours each week looking for a job as your plan to spend working at your new job. Being unemployed is not an opportunity to catch up on your reading, make some house repairs, or get back up to speed on The Young and the Restless. Being unemployed is your opportunity to dramatically expand your network, to overhaul your resume, to practice your elevator speech, and to stop being unemployed. That is the advice you should be used to (and that you’ll hear again).

But, you also have to recognize that you cannot work that hard continuously. Most employers offer you paid holidays and vacations. Maybe not a whole lot, but some, and you need to treat your job search like a job. That means that every once in a while, you need to take a break. Step away from the keyboard, turn off your phone, and relax.

There are amazing benefits to rest, recreation, and recuperation. I know, you’re unemployed and don’t have any extra money to take a vacation. That’s okay. For two or three days, just don’t go “to work.” Hang around the house, putter in the yard, go to the park, visit the zoo, watch a movie, read that book, whatever. Let your mind and body relax and decompress.

After your break, you’ll have more energy, be more creative and be ready to get back to work. Make sure to take day or two off every month. The job search can be a long and difficult process. If you don’t take care of yourself and let being unemployed beat you down, it will make the process longer and harder.

Step back, take a short break, relax, rejuvenate, and then get back to it. We need to get you back to work!

For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.


Persistence

One huge key to job search success is persistence. Here are two real stories.

One day I was at work, doing normal stuff and my boss, the company president, came in at sat down. He said, “Roger, I’m afraid I have to use one of things you’ve taught me. We’ve decided to eliminate your position and today will be your last day of work.” I was blindsided – I had absolutely no idea that was coming. He went on to tell me about a meager severance package and then I was done. That was in early September. The following May a friend told me about a new company that was just starting – maybe they’d need an HR person. I networked into the President and met him. He felt I would be a good person for that job, but they needed to complete an acquisition first – he’d be in touch. I followed up with him about every 30 days while I continued to look for other opportunities. Finally, in October – 13 months after I’d been fired – I started with this new company. That turned out to be a great job for me.

Here’ another – in 1999 the company I was working for was struggling. The family that had owned the business for 3 generations was trying to turn in around and had brought in a turn-around specialist. Then one day the President gathered the senior team and announced he’d sold the company to our cross-town rival. The new owners would decide if they needed us or not. (In the end, they decided not.) But, during that transition I had an idea. I would take my experiences of finding jobs and write a book. My plan at the time was to be leading edge and publish the book along with a CD-ROM of resources. I wrote that book and then put it in a drawer because by then I had a new job and no time to work on it. Ten years later, I took the manuscript out and brought it up to date. Then I started shopping it to publishers. After three years and over 20 rejections, I found Lighthouse Point Press. There were some other issues and delays, but in August, 2014, I’m Fired?!? was published. My 15-year-old baby was finally born.

My message is that I know being out of work sucks. And I know it is hard to wait and to keep looking and looking. I know what it feels like to be rejected, to have your resume ignored, to be a finalist but not get the job, and to have to come back and try to explain to your kids why you don’t have a job. But I also know that good things come to those who wait. Not wait by sitting on the couch, but wait by working to find those good things. Persistence pays off. Tenacity is an excellent character trait.

Make the plan, work the plan, and keep the faith. The right job for you is out there. If you work for it, you’ll find it. Now, let’s go find that job!

For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.


Anticipation

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 your wedding ceremony?

Now think again about some of those times. Mixed in 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 shine is off and now it’s just a job. Did you make a mistake? Should you keep looking?

My advice is to do your best to ignore that little voice of doubt. 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 interview 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.

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. Check back to this site soon. I expect I’m Fired?!? to be available as an eBook in the next few weeks with a paper version to follow not too long after. Details soon!


Torn Between Two Offers

It doesn’t happen to every job seeker – but it happens more often that you think. You’re out there networking and interviewing and suddenly you have two opportunities coming up at the same time. What are you going to do?!?

Maybe you get an offer from a job that is okay, but you really are hoping for a job that would be great. Or maybe you just get that “okay” offer but you’re not sure you really want that job.

There are several conflicting decision points at play here.

1)      A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

2)      Be true to yourself.

3)      How does the pay, benefits, duties and potential compare you your wants and needs?

4)      If they liked you enough to offer you a job, so will someone else.

5)      If I take the first one and the second one calls – can I quit the first one?

I can’t answer these questions for you – especially without knowing the situation. Here is what I do know. Don’t take a job you don’t want. Even if you’ve been unemployed for a while taking a job you know you’ll hate will not make you happy, nor will it advance your career. Plus it will take time away from your job search. But, I also understand the need to feed your family so when you reach that stage find a job that provides an income and gives you the opportunity to keep looking.

There is a great story about a man who was stranded on his roof during a flood and three times boats came by to pick him up. Each time he send them away saying that God would provide him relief from the flood. When he drowned and met God in heaven he asked God why he didn’t save him. God’s response was “who do you think sent the boats?” The moral here is that if you keep waiting for that perfect job it may not come along.

Do not feel you have to take the first offer you get. If that job is not going to provide the right mix of rewards then keep looking. If you accept a job, then you’ll have to use your own moral compass to decide how long you need to stay with that job before you quit. While your new employer might be disappointed or even angry if you resign after just a few weeks or months, they’ll be okay.

I don’t like games or attempts at manipulation. I don’t like it when a candidate – or an employee – says I need to pay them more because someone else has given them a better offer. I want people to be honest and direct. But … I don’t always get what I want either.

There are no easy answers here. Look inside yourself. Make sure you know both what you want and what you need. If you don’t think a job offer meets most of those things then walk away – there will be more. If you think this looks like good job take it – and throw yourself into the job. If it turns out you were wrong, start looking. I will tell you this – it’s easier to find a job when you have a job.

These are tough decisions to make, but if you have to make them then you are doing the right things and your search is progressing. Keep it up!