Welcome to … The Holiday Zone (redux)

This is an update to a previous post        

For those of you old enough to remember this – imagine some twinkling music in the background and Rod Serling’s voice saying …

“Job seeker, you’ve noticed something has changed – there are fewer openings – no one returns your calls – everyone seems distracted. It’s because you have entered —— the Holiday Zone.”

I don’t have any factual data to back up what I’m about out to tell you, but I do have 30 years of experience. The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is a frustrating time to be a job seeker. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but it is reality.

From an organization’s perspective, this is not the time to try to fill a job. They know that people who have jobs, stop looking for new jobs during the holidays. They likely have spent their recruiting budget, and they wont’ be buying any new advertising or creating any new jobs until after the first of the year. Everything slows down until January.

The same is true for the employed job seeker. They will spend their weekends and evenings shopping, wrapping, and attending holiday parties, not looking for jobs.

So, if you are unemployed, what do you do? Just put your search on the shelf for a month? No, you keep working, but you work smart.

Use holiday parties as networking activities. Meet new people, tell them your story, and ask if you can connect after the first of the year to exchange information and contacts.

Take this time to do some more intensive corporate research. Look at the local news websites to find which companies are in the news for charitable giving or other social outreach; then add them to your Target list and make plans to contact them in January – and when you do, mention how you support their good works.

Volunteer to work for a community organization that helps families over the holidays and do some networking with other volunteers. If you do schedule a networking meeting, take a few holiday cookies as a thank you gift.

Spend some time on your resume, maybe it is time for a complete resume makeover; reorganize, rewrite, and refresh.

The point is, you can’t control the calendar, you can only control how you respond to it. You can curl up in a ball and wait for January, or you can spend your time productively. You won’t see as many postings, you won’t get as many interview, and people won’t be as available to network; but that does not mean you can’t keep looking and making yourself better so that come January, you are ready to knock their socks off.

Enjoy the season, recognize your blessings, and get ready for a fantastic 2016.

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


Attention Holiday Shoppers!

Just in time for your holiday shopping, I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another is now available in print! Whether your company calls it a layoff, a termination, or a reduction in force, the bottom line is that you are out of a job and need to find a new one. So how do you do that? There are no easy answers or quick fixes, but there are some straightforward techniques that in the end may mean you don’t just find a job, but you build a career.

Buy the book here for a great stocking suffer for the job seeker in your life. Or, if you prefer the ebook, buy the Nook version at Barnes & Noble (also available in other formats from Smashwords).  If you want advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out the I’m Fired?!? blog.

Happy Holidays!


I Want You To Want Me

In 1977 the band Cheap Trick first sang:

I want you to want me
I need you to need me
I’d love you to love me
I’m begging you to beg me
I want you to want me

While this is a great classic-rock song, it should not be your mantra as a job seeker.

Too many times, I have talked with a candidate and I could hear the desperation in their voice. They really wanted me to offer them this job. Maybe it was the perfect job for them. Maybe it was an okay job that they though could grow into something better. Maybe they had just been out of work too long and were ready for anything. I don’t know, but their desperation did not help get them the job.

Success in job search, as in much of business life, is about self-confidence. As Max Ehrmann wrote in Desiderata, “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

If you are reading this blog, it is likely you are involved in a job search. Please remember that you are a unique individual, who is not defined by your job or your employment status. If you don’t get this, you’ll get the next one. I understand the financial need to be employed. I understand the emotional needs to be connected to an organization and to find value in working and providing.

You may really want this job, or you may really need this job. But you need to make sure that as you interview, the interviewer hears a calm, professional voice that tells them why you are the best candidate they will find for this job, and not a voice that sounds like three-year old who really, really, really wants another scoop of ice cream.

Believe in yourself. Work hard. The next job won’t be too far away.

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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. Available soon in print! Click here for more details.


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.


What are you afraid of?

I have a friend who lost his job following an acquisition. He was over 55 and had 30 years with the company. He hated networking. He tried it and then he simply refused to do it anymore. He mailed resumes, and mailed resumes, and mailed resumes. Ten months later, he took a job that he hated. Two years after that, he simply retired. The reason that he hated networking and his search failed was fear. He was afraid of rejection and did not want to put himself in a position where someone would have to tell him “no.”

Any Star Wars fans out there? What did Yoda say to Luke Skywalker when they first met on whatever jungle planet that was? That Luke was filled with hate and fear. He would have to control or release that fear or he would not be able to control the force, and the dark side would get him.

One more movie reference – what was one of the top songs of 2013? Let it Go, sung by Elsa in the movie Frozen.

So, what’s the connection here? If you’re reading this it is likely that you’ve lost your job. You may be angry with your former employer for putting you in this position. You may be upset with your former boss who wouldn’t listen to you. You might have issues with the last company that said they were going to make you an offer, but didn’t. You might be concerned that you are going to run out of money before you find a new job. You might be angry with your spouse who thinks you aren’t trying hard enough. Maybe you have been rejected so many times you just can’t take one more! There are lots of emotion during the job search process, and not many of them are helpful in finding a new job.

I am an NPR addict and listen every morning and evening. A few weeks ago, they aired a story of a man paralyzed by fear. To help himself he invented a game called Rejection Therapy. Click here to listen to that story. I’m not recommending that you start playing this game, but I’m also not saying you shouldn’t. It worked for him.

If you are consumed with fear and anger, it will deeply effect you, and your job search. You will be unable to convey confidence and positive energy if you are angry at the world or desperate for someone to hire you. As Elsa says, “let it go.” I’ve been in your shoes and I understand the frustration. But whatever has happened has happened and there is nothing you can do to change that. The only thing you can control is your behavior right now. In this very moment, you can act in the manner that is most likely to move you forward in the direction you want to go.

The poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann says, “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

You will find a job. Accept that as a given. Let go of the anger of whatever happened to put you in this situation. Face your fears of rejection or failure and put them behind you. Move forward with confidence and purpose. Embrace the future and you too, may become a Jedi.

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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.


Happy Anniversary!

Wow, how time flies. I just checked and realized that my first post on this blog was in October, 2013. Now, 13 months and 56 blog posts later, here we are. Hopefully, if you are job seeker, you haven’t been reading since last October.

This is Thanksgiving week. Take a break from your job search and reflect on the things for which you can be thankful. In my many searches, I have been blessed with a supportive family and friends, the generosity of my networking contacts, and the confidence that I would find another job and continue to build my career. I am confident that you will too.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.

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.


Volunteer

So, you’ve been out of work for some time; you have (you think) exhausted your network; you have applied for every job you can find; you regularly attend one or two job clubs; and nothing is working? I know it is an incredibly frustrating feeling. Maybe a solution is to try giving rather than taking…

An excellent way to spend some of your now available time is to give some of it away. I suggest you consider four categories of volunteer work:

Based on your profession – find ways, possibly through the local chapter of your professional association, to use your skill set to benefit a not-for-profit. Find a local social service agency where you can relate to their mission and ask if they would be interested in some free professional assistance (I can almost guarantee they will be). If you are an HR person volunteer to conduct an HR audit. If you are an IT person volunteer to install computers. If you are a marketing person volunteer to help them with social networking. You get the idea – give to them what you really want someone to pay you to do.

Based on your community – find a need in your community and see if they need some additional workers. Regardless of your professional training you can most likely pick up trash, serve at the reception desk at your local hospital, read to children at a Head Start, or help direct traffic for a local 5k run.

Based on your passions – find a need that with an agency that does what you love. If you love animals volunteer at an animal shelter. If you want to be outdoors work at a nature sanctuary. If you love art become a museum docent.

Based on your faith – find a need at your house of worship that fits you. You can teach Sunday school, lead a mission trip, coordinate a community garden, or paint the nursery.

The bottom line is that there are better places where you can spend your time other than on the couch watching soap operas or surfing the net hoping to stumble on a new job posting. Volunteering does wonderful things for you. Volunteering can help you keep your skills sharp, learn or practice a new skill, meet new networking contacts or maybe uncover new job opportunities. Just as importantly, volunteering can meet the needs of others and help your community be a better place. Volunteering keeps you keep busy and stay physically and mentally active. Finally, volunteering helps you feel good about yourself and provides energy to help you sustain your job search.

If you can’t find anyone to hire you yet, get up and find a way to give away what you have. Others will benefit, you’ll feel better and it just may help you find that next opportunity.


Pray for Whirled Peas

I have a friend who has a t-shirt that intrigues me.  The shirt has a graphic of a round green and blue swirled ball that vaguely resembled the view of Earth from space.  The caption is “Pray for Whirled Peas.” It is great! She also has one that simply says (in large letters) HUMANKIND (and in smaller letters) BE BOTH.

These two shirts have, rather obliquely, spawned this post.  I’ve worked with a lot of job seekers and the key to finding a job remains networking.  For many, if not most people, networking is difficult.  You have to put yourself in some uncomfortable positions to tell your story over and over.  You have to make yourself vulnerable and ask for help (now I’m starting to sound like Dr.  Phil).  Bottom line – it’s not fun, but it has to be done.

But what makes networking even harder is when you run up against someone who refuses to help.  Someone who doesn’t want to hear your story – or even worse, who makes you go through your whole spiel an then says “Sorry, I don’t know anyone who is hiring.” HUMANKIND people! BE BOTH.

If someone asks you to help them with their network, say yes.  Listen closely to their story and be empathetic to their position.  Always refer them to someone and in those rare instances where they’ve already talked to everyone you know ask to see their Target list.  Encourage and support them in any way that you can.  Make sure they always get something from you: a name, an organization, a job search tip, something.  Do what you can so that when they walk away 15 minutes later they feel better about their job search.

I can hear some of you thinking … “Why?!? The job market is crappy and sometimes these people just need a dose of reality.  They need to wake up and smell the coffee.  This is no land of fairies and rainbows.  There are no jobs like they want, they need to step off their high horse and just get back to work doing anything.”

And my answer to you is “Put a sock in it buddy.” You do not know everything.  You cannot predict the future.  Your job in the networking process is to be helpful and supportive.  Reality will take care of itself.  There are two reasons that you need to behave like this.  One – it’s the right thing to do.  Two – you just might find yourself in this situation in the future and you’ll need friends.  You’ll want to go to the people that came to you and you’ll want them to be helpful and supportive.  It’s a small world and what goes around comes around.

Now, your take way from today is when someone asks you for networking help – give it to them.  And in your spare time, pray for whirled peas.