New Years: Remembrances and Resolutions – Part 2

Yesterday we talked about remembering 2015.  I hope you did that and celebrated how far you’ve come in life.

Okay, now spin your chair around 180° and let’s look into the future.  What does 2016 hold and how are we going to be prepared for it?  Inc.  Magazine asked people what they wanted to accomplish in 2016.  The number one answer was to enjoy life to the fullest (read the full list here).  Your resolution might be to find a job -not just any job – the right job.

If finding that new, better job is one of your resolutions, allow me to make a few suggestions to increase your likelihood of success.

Make a plan – Regardless of what your resolution is, there are three things you can do that will help you live it: 1) write it down, 2) include milestone dates and measures, and 3) make it public.  For your job search, set goals for how many people you are going to network with each week, how many emails and phone calls you will need to set up those networking meetings, how many new companies you will to research, etc.  Remember, looking for a job should be a full time job.  Make a plan that uses 8 hours a day – productively – two finding that best job then share that plan with a few key supporters – maybe even post it on Facebook.

Network – I can almost guarantee that you will not get that next BEST job, unless you network.  My suggestion is that each week you meet 5-10 people you have never met before, tell them your story, and ask for their help.  You will be amazed and what happens.

Be prepared – Every time you go to a meeting or an interview, be prepared.  Have your polished resume and target list with you.  Know as much as you can about who you will be talking to and the job/company you are interviewing for.  Be sure to have and practiced (aloud) your answers to common interview questions.

Be thankful – Say thank you – send thank-you notes – let people know how much you appreciate their time, their energy, their encouragement.  Even when you don’t think they were very helpful, thank them.

Be persistent – The economy is rebounding.  There are more jobs available, but I still tell people to plan for their search to take one month for every $10,000 in annual salary they hope to earn.  A $50k job might take 5 months to find.  Not any $50k job – but the right $50k job for you.  Plan the work, and work the plan.

If you are reading this blog thinking “but I don’t know how to do these things,” then you’ve come to the right place.  Search this blogs for tips on all of these subjects.  Or, buy the book (see below).  Or read someone else’s book or blog.  The help is there – the jobs are there – we just need to get you connected with one of them.

Speaking of resolutions – I resolve to help you find that next-best job in 2016.  Happy New Year!


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.  Now available in both print and eBook formats!  Click here for more details.

Talk to Yourself

Many years ago I attended a two-day “Train the Trainer” workshop. You may not be planning on becoming at trainer, but this experience also made me better at job interviews.

I conduct a lot of training but I don’t like to be called a “trainer”. Those people are too out-there for me – too extroverted – too theatrical. I’m an engineer at-heart so many of training techniques just seemed really odd and uncomfortable to me.

One of the assignments in that workshop was to prepare and present a 5-minute training session. One step in our preparation was to practice that training session out loud. I remember thinking Out Loud? Are these people crazy? Do they really want me to sit here, surrounded by other participants, and talk to myself?

The answer was yes and later that day the room was flooded with sound as fifty or more people talked to themselves – ignoring everyone else in the room. Some stood, some talked to the wall, some closed their eyes, but they talked.

I was blown away. Partially because I learned there that a good trainer can get the participants to do just about anything, but more because it worked – at least for me. I was used to practicing my training in my head. I would look at my PowerPoint slides and think about what I would say for each one, and it worked, kind of. What I learned at that session was that talking to myself paid off.

In earlier posts I advised you to have an “Elevator Speech” – a 30-second summary of who you are and what you are looking for. I also advise that you find lists of common interview questions and write out the answers to those questions. Both of these exercises start with writing, but should be followed with talking to yourself.

When you practice your material aloud, several things happen. You get a sense of pace and timing. What you thought would be a two minute response may turn out to be twenty seconds or five minutes long. You’ll find word combinations that are hard to say (so you can find easier words). By hearing the material you’ll better understand if you’re making sense.

Maybe most importantly, speaking engages a different part of your brain. The process of seeing the word on the paper and then translating that to speech will help you retain them. Repeating that process several times will make you more comfortable with the material. Soon you are able to give that elevator speech, or answer those questions easily and comfortably. When that happens, the interviewer sees the real you, not the nervous you, or the I’m-not-sure-what-to-say you.

Talk to yourself and don’t pay any attention to those funny looks you get from others. I will caution you though, this may not be the best technique to practice in public. 🙂