Independence Day

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/


Are There Jobs Out There?

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/.


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/


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/


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/


Networking is NOT Job Search

Okay, I know this sounds strange, especially coming from me. Especially since this is a blog about how to find a job and I harp on networking all the time.  To be clear, networking is a fantastic job search technique – quite possibility the most important job search technique.  But networking is about more than job search. 

When you network, your goal is to meet people, learn more about them, and help them to learn more about you.  Then, you ask them to refer you to others so you can repeat that process, and learn more about others, and have them learn more about you. 

You should use networking to:

  • Learn about people – what they do and who they are (they are people – not just contacts),
  • Learn more about companies – what they do and what it’s like to work there,
  • Learn more about industries – what is booming and what is about to bust,
  • Learn more about communities – where is a good place to put down, or strengthen roots, and
  • Learn about volunteer opportunities – where you can use your skills and make the world a better place.

And yes while that is happening, you may also use networking to:

  • Learn about who is hiring for what jobs,
  • Learn about hiring managers and what they are looking for, and
  • Learn what jobs you do NOT want to apply for.

It’s a subtle difference, but if you make networking as simply a means to find a job, you might miss the bigger opportunity to truly build a network, rather than simply endure a string of meetings that may, or may not, lead you to the next job.  Invest in your network and it will pay dividends.  Make your networking be all about finding your next job and you may find yourself struggling.

If you need some help, read this. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


Do I Have to Network?

Simple answer.  No, not if you are not in any hurry to find a good job.  Feel free to search the internet and apply for every job that might fit you.  Practice telling yourself that it’s not your fault.  Blame in on the economy, or maybe on the corona virus.

Here’s the bottom line.  For whatever reason, you lost your job, and you need a new one. From my experience, the best way to find a new or better job is networking.  Networking means talking to people and getting to know them. Make sure they know about you, what you do, what you’re good at, how you’ve been successful before.  Then, asking them for names of people they know who you could also meet and tell them the same things.  Then, thank them for their help, and finally, be willing to do the same for others.

Networking requires you to be vulnerable.  It requires you to interact with people you don’t know.  Networking may be uncomfortable for some.  But it is the only way you’ll be exposed to the 75% of jobs that are never advertised.

Now, let’s get out there and knock on some doors.

If you need some help, read this. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/