Job Interviewing: Positive Spin or Just Plain Lies?

After a very long Presidential campaign, it's fair to say that we're all tired of political ads, debates, lawn signs, and "news" programs focused on the election and candidates. More than anything, I'm tired of all the different versions of the "truth" cast about by those fighting to win. How could any of us discern the "real" truth amidst all the contentious babble? I know I struggled, but I did vote.

"Why You Need to Run Your Job Search Like a Presidential Campaign,"  an article published by by Andrea Murad at FOXBusiness on Election Day (November 06, 2012), got me thinking about how the campaign was more than just a job search – it was a very long job interview. Have you ever had those job interviews that go on for weeks where you have maybe six or more interviews with individuals, committees, and then individuals again? At the end of the ordeal, do you even still want the job?

After so many job interviews for the same position, you may begin to wonder if you told each interviewer

Perfectjob_12 the same version of why you wanted to leave your current employer – why you wanted this particular job – why you were more qualified than your competition. Or do you begin to reflect on what you said at different times and hope you didn't contradict yourself? Everyone wants to create the best possible impression when interviewing for a job. But there is a fine line between positive spin and just plain lying.

When asked why you're leaving your current employer, it's fair to say that you want a job or career change where you can build on new skills you've developed. What you don't want to say is that your current boss holds you back and refuses to give you new responsibilities, although you've acquired new skills. Never blame your boss for anything, even if true in your own mind! It's not a lie to omit this information from your reason for leaving. In other words, give your reason a positive spin focused on you, not a negative one that shows your stressed relationship with your boss.

So what is classified as a job interview lie? If you claim to have graduated from college when you've completed 120 credit hours, but not actually graduated, that IS a lie. Just as political candidates are fact-checked for their claims, you will also be. College graduation is easy to check, so don't put yourself in that position. Instead, in a job interview, explain why your combined college courses and life/work experience exceed the qualification of college graduation. Sometimes that will work!

Another easy-to-check fact regards your references. Accept that your references WILL be checked, so don't ever lie about knowing someone you don't. Furthermore, ask your references permission to list them and send them a copy of your resume so that they can feel more at ease with your potential employers when discussing why they support you.

Job interviewing is an art based on facts. If called for an interview, go – even if you have mixed feelings about the job. Yes, you need lots of practice, but more than that, how can you really know anything about a job until you've spoken with a hiring authority at that company? You may surpise youself and get an offer when you don't feel the stress of dearly wanting this particular job!

Wishing you career success in 2013!

Meg

Ready to Change Jobs? Follow 6 Top Tips for a Smooth Transition

The buzz among hard workers today is that they're exhausted and ready to make a career change in 2013. Are you one of them? Here are a few tips to help you move forward:

1. Know what you want in a new job.
A05

Make sure you’re moving toward a better job and not just running away from one you don’t like. What are your values and how do they align with a new company’s culture? What will make this new job better than the old one? (Money is not the most important reason to change jobs.) A coach can help you work through the confusion.

2. Create a professional resume.

Your resume acts as your introduction to a company. It makes your first impression for you. Find books with resume samples to guide you or hire a professional resume writer who is trained, experienced and certified in this field. Make sure your resume reflects your work achievements. Don’t forget to send cover letters and interview thank you letters to show that you understand business etiquette.

3. Evaluate your network of contacts.

The job search process is a lot like dating – prospects usually don’t come knocking on your door! You have to get out and meet people. More people get new jobs through networking that any other activity – up to 80% according to several surveys. Look at the business relationships you already have and what you do to cultivate them. What professional, civic, and social groups do you belong to? Where do the people hang out that can introduce you to the right job opportunities?

4. Prepare for intervieiws with storytelling techniques.

Most hiring authorities use “behavioral or situational” interviewing methods. Write down examples from your work experience of specific challenges or situations, the actions you took to resolve those challenges, and the positive results or outcomes of your actions. Be ready to discuss these in any interview to demonstrate the value you have to offer an employer.

5. Test for business reality before saying “yes.”

Know the salary, benefits, overtime expectations, relocation/travel requirements – you don’t want any surprises after you start a new job. Some executives negotiate exit agreements before signing acceptance letters – kind of like pre-nuptial agreements!

6. Revisit old opportunities.

If the job you really want doesn’t choose you, check in with the employer 6-8 weeks later to see how the new hire is working out. Sometimes – not always – you can head off your competition and get a foot in the door before a second job vacancy notice is issued.

Wishing you career success in 2013!

Meg

Boost Your Job Search Effectiveness

Has a state of exhaustion overcome your good intentions to stay focused on a job search? Many job seekers have been unemployed for months, if not years. Many are burned out, burned up and just plain tired. If that fits you, now is the time to re-examine your job search strategy and kick it up a few notches! Imagine a tired long-distance runner nearing the finish line. What does he do? Fall out of the race or dig deeper for the extra spurt of energy needed to cross that finish line?

Let's look at some ways to enhance a job search that will help speed up your reemployment.

Boost Your Activity

How do you track your job search activities? Do you have a system in place to keep your contacts organized so you can methodically follow up on a regular basis? Do you set goals and reward yourself when you meet them? Organization is the only way to stay on top of all the activity surrounding a professional job search. Utilizing technology can save time and the support of a Career Coach can keep you on track.Perfectjob_12

Challenge yourself to increase the weekly contacts you make. If you currently reach out to three per day, raise it to ten. For anyone with sales experience, this tactic should be familiar. You up your chances for success by increasing your calls – it’s a numbers game. Track your average rate of return…you will need to collect your "no's" to get a "yes," but it only takes one "yes" to get a job!

Boost Your Visibility

Now is not the time to stay home. When you are unemployed, looking for a job becomes your full time job. How many people do you meet in a week? If it's fewer than 20, then you are probably contributing to your state of unemployment. Most people (some career experts say as high as 85%) are getting their jobs today through networking – the kind of face-to-face interaction that involves building personal, ongoing relationships. Sure, money is tight, but try to consider the cost of breakfast and luncheon meetings as an investment in your career. Don’t forget the networking you can do on-line, such as through LinkedIn. It is mandatory that every professional has a LinkedIn profile – you must boost your findability on the Internet.

Of course, when you meet and greet people you’ll have to pull yourself out of that "black hole" into which you may have fallen. Put a smile on your face, even if you don't feel it in your heart. Get to know others by asking questions to find out what you can do for them and their job searches. When you leave meetings, you will feel reconnected with humanity. You will be remembered for what you have to offer which will result in others wanting to return the favor. Watch how many job leads begin to come your way! You are probably only 3-4 degrees removed from someone who has the authority to hire you, and you don’t even know it!

Boost Your Creativity

When small business owners launch their enterprises, they are advised to publish articles and deliver presentations to increase public awareness of their new ventures. And it works! So, what would happen if you did the same? Try writing and speaking about your expertise to attract interest in your personal brand. It would be interesting to see how many responses you receive due to this new found notoriety, and how many of these might turn into bona fide employment offers.

How do you reach your target markets through publishing and presenting? Do your research to discover what potential employers are reading, then write and submit articles relevant to their interests and your expertise. Printed periodicals and on-line publications can both work to your advantage. Use the same approach in scheduling presentations. Where does your target market go to learn more about your expertise? (Hmm, are we back to networking?) Contact event organizers to offer your speaking skills. Most professional groups welcome presenters who don’t charge fees.

Boost Your Knowledge

Visibility and creativity will work to your advantage as long as you stay current in your field. As learning is a lifelong process, take advantage of your unemployed status to attend seminars and workshops that keep your skills fresh and up-to-date. (You may even be able to do this on-line, but don’t miss out on more in-person networking.) This rings particularly true for anyone in the information technology field. However, people in most industries would agree that change is occurring at warp speed…don't get left behind! While you continue your learning, remember to read business journals, nonfiction bestsellers, and current events periodicals.

What business trends do you spot? How can you position yourself as a change agent? Companies seek drivers of innovation to impact their bottom lines. Does your resume portray your successes in such a way that hiring authorities can easily see the value you offer them as they try to not only cope, but thrive, in an ever-changing marketplace? Ask a Career Coach or professional resume writer to critique your resume to ensure all your bases are covered.

Boost Your Chances to Succeed

With most things in life, history repeats itself and change challenges the best of us. The status of work in the 21st century is changing as this article is being written. It will continue to evolve as more baby boomers retire and are replaced by their children and grandchildren. For those currently out of work, today's angst will eventually fade into the past as new positions are obtained and careers move forward. What role do you want to play in your overall career satisfaction? Do you want to take charge of your own destiny or surrender your control?

You don't have to do it all alone. "At a time when companies are downsizing and out-placing…at a time whenOver50 boomers are facing 50, coaches are easing traumatic transitions." This quote is from "Career Coaches Offer Help in the Game of Life," Long Beach Press-Telegram, July 9, 1996. Let's see…that was almost sixteen years ago. Now boomers are facing 60 or already there! Isn't it about time to hire a Career Coach to help you map out the rest of your career? Career Coaches can help you with job searches as well as help you with career reinventions.

Job search exhaustion is real. It affects your attitude and your motivation to stay engaged. Get a handle on it now to find that next job. Better yet, take the time to reinvent yourself for a better career for the 21st century.

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

(Updated from April 2, 2009 post)

New Grads: How to Do a Smart Job Search

An Open Letter to My Stepdaughter

Dear Kate,

You've worked hard the past four years. A lot has changed – around you, for you, and most of all, YOU! Now you're facing one of the biggest changes of your life – landing your first job in your new career. While theCollege student economy has been brutal as you studied and played during your college years, signs are pointing toward an improvement for new graduates. But don't let this influence your need for a smart, focused job search! You still have stiff competition.

Now that we've created your career marketing materials, what are you going to do with them? It would be so easy to sit in front of your computer just scanning job boards, copying and pasting your resume into on-line boxes, or attaching it to emails and sending it to HR professionals. However, a smart job search is doing so much more! You don't want to get lost amid the crowds of recent grads applying in your field. That can easily happen if all you do is use the job boards to seek out job leads.

Instead, build your career network. Who do you know who can put you in touch with someone who can introduce you to a contact wanting to hire a new grad in your field? You see, networking is not easy. In fact, remember your most difficult college course – calculus? The energy and effort you mustered to pass that course you now need again to build your job search network.

You've already made a good start by creating your LinkedIn profile. But LinkedIn isn't a "Field of Dreams;" you must "work" it or "lose" it. Connect to professional groups in your career field, as well as professional local groups that hold "meet-ups." Then spend at least an hour per day answering and asking questions in those groups to put a spotlight on your expertise and how you build relationships.

Let everyone in your life you know what kind of job you're seeking. Job leads come from the least expected sources. Stay social, on-line and in person.

When preparing for job interviews, role play tough interview questions with a friend. Watch your face in a mirror as you speak your answers out loud. What will an interviewer see? Anything you need to correct in your mannerisms? We discussed how to dress, but just remember to dress for the job. A watch and small earring studs are OK, but no other jewelry. Light make-up and lip gloss are OK, but no heavy eyeliner. Thank goodness you have no tattoos to hide!

Since you enjoy using MS Excel, create your job search tracking record with that program. Perfectjob_12You'll want to track job leads, what you do with them, when you need to follow-up, and then repeat this for job interviews. If you submit a resume, it IS all right to call the employer in a couple weeks if you don't hear back right away. During a job search, you must be proactive and keep moving forward! Don't let rejections get you down. A job search is a numbers game of averages – the more "no's" you get, the closer you'll be to your "yes!"

As you work through the job search process, know that I'm hear for you. Email or call with your questions, and I'll guide you down the right path. While you will have to maintain your self-motivation, I won't be shy in giving you a push when you need it.

Most of all, know that you are unique. You have a great education and preparation for the job you want. You deserve it. Go get it! I am confident you will be successful!

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

A Few LinkedIn Pointers for a Job Search

Do you have your professional LinkedIn profile posted? Even if you're not in an active job search, you still need a LinkedIn1787141145781871883 profile. Some people feel that all social media is an invasion of privacy. However, a LinkedIn presence has become a requisite career cornerstone. You may update your LinkedIn profile anytime you wish – and should. But there is so much more than your profile available to you through LinkedIn to increase your "findability" on the Internet.

Recruiters use LinkedIn as their Number One way to source job candidates for their client companies. Their preference is to find "passive" candidates; i.e., candidates not in an active job search, but interested in the "right" opportunities should they present themselves. Even if you are very happy with your current position, in this ever-churning economy, it is a good idea to have career options. You never know when your company may be sold or file for bankruptcy. You don't want to go down with a sinking ship! Your LinkedIn profile is a type of career insurance. With it, you'll always be "findable" on the Internet for hiring authorities seeking to fill new positions. (Did you realize that having no presence on the web is just as bad as a negative presence?)

Treat LinkedIn as your friend. Use it to build business relationships. Invite people to connect with you if you share a common career bond. Using the Groups feature helps you showcase your career expertise, as well as make new contacts. The Groups tab is found in the LinkedIn top menu line. Answer Group questions, and also ask your own. Besides joining and participating in Groups related to your career field, join a few local LinkedIn Groups where you may meet people face-to-face, even if they are not in your field. You never know who knows someone who knows someone. By the way, you'll find that many groups are open – meaning you don't have to be approved to join. Others are only available to you upon approval of your request to join. There is value for you in both types of Groups.

As a Kansas City Career Coach, I recommend the following LinkedIn Groups for relationship-building online and in person in the Greater Kansas City Area. Contact me if you know of others:

* Kansas City Live Networking
* Linked to KC
* Kansas City Networking Society

If you want to relocate to another part of the country, look for online LinkedIn Groups to join in that area. You may get job recommendations from Group members to pave the path to your new job before you physically relocate. When you make LinkedIn a part of your everyday social networking, you'll be surprised at the rewards you reap.

I would love to hear your comments on how you have used LinkedIn for your career. Please leave your comments below. For more great information, check out Inc. magazine's, "6 Steps to a More Marketable LinkedIn Profile." Another great resource is the book, I'm On LinkedIn, Now What?, by Jason Alba. This book can be found at Amazon.com.

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

Find Career Solutions By Taking Time to Process!

About six weeks ago, one of my career coaching clients took the leap of faith to work with me for three months. Treadmill3Ben (not his real name) had been feeling like a hamster on a treadmill as his head spun in circles trying to figure out what he wanted from a career, or even a job. All he really knew was that what he was doing now was eating him alive. A man of many talents, he couldn't decide what he wanted to do, where he wanted to do it, and how to become successful in his quest. He'd been spinning out of control for months.

Like so many floundering career change wannabees, Ben wrestled with mixed messages all around him. He gave me permission to share his struggle with you in the hope that others could more quickly overcome their own career barriers and make a satisfying career change. One exercise we did was to assess Ben's negative beliefs that have held him back. We all harbor assumptions based on personal past experience or external messages. Here is one of Ben's beliefs and how he processed through it:

Message: My background and experience aren't good enough to find the work I desire.

Source: Hiring managers pile on rejection letters following my job interviews that reinforce that I'm not good enough, that I lack something.

Assumption: I lack the right skills, or I'm not presenting them well enough.

Analysis: I know this is true because I haven't been able to find a job I enjoy. Also, I see the struggles of so many people trying to find work. And the media keeps saying that the economy and the job market are tough.

The Shift of Ben's Belief:

Is it productive to believe this? No, since this limits what I can do going forward.

What is more productive to believe? While my inability to find work may be blamed on the economy and glut of unemployed talent, it could be the result of my needing to learn new job search skills.

What is probable? That my beliefs are a combination of my unrealistic conclusions and the economy in general.

What is possible? I need to find ways to promote myself better, either through a better resume, networking, more nuanced job interview responses/techniques – or all of the above.

What models show me this is possible? I've seen other job seekers succeed at finding employment. Their preparation and dedication paid off.

What action can I take? Remind myself that I am not alone. Every time I receive a rejection letter, I know there are hundreds also receiving similar letters. Understand that the job search search process is a numbers game – I first have to collect my "no's" to get my one yes! And, I have to turn off the television and talk radio; instead, put myself only into positive learning environments.

Wow! And this was just one message! Ben had more to work through, but this one shows you how it is possible to create your own beliefs and not become a passive receptacle for the messages and pontificating around you. Don't get sucked into the prevailing head winds. Stand up and face your beliefs. You decide what you want to believe. The easy way out will not move you down the road to successful career transition. Quit blaming others and start seeking honest answers from within you. Take the necessary time to process. (Not widely known fact: for college graduates with experience, the unemployment rate is only 4.4% – so forget that 8.9%.)

What happened to Ben? Here are some sound clips from his email to me just this week:

"Meg – I think I may have had some sort of epiphany!"
"I started thinking about all of the big ideas from our previous coaching session…"
"The above will sound rambling and disjointed but this idea of [blank] is sticking for some reason."
"I also started thinking about potential applications."
"Anyway, I've been thinking about it a lot. We can discuss this more in depth during our next career coaching session. Just thought I would share." 

I just smiled. I so love it when my career coaching clients discover their "it." A05That's what makes my own career one I truly enjoy.

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

Take a Chance: Let Your “Snowflake” Shine

"Know Thyself." William Shakespeare

As the first chilly day of fall arrives, my thoughts wander ahead to the snow to come – not too far into the future, I fear. Have you ever seen a magnified snowflake? Or compared two magnified snowflakes next to each other? While appearing the same to the human eye, when examined under a microscope, each Snowflakesnowflake is very different from the other. Look closely at the design and makeup of each – can you see the unique pieces?

Like snowflakes, each of us is unique, though similar, to all others. It is our uniqueness that we celebrate while honoring all people's similarities and diversity. There's so much discussion these days about "fitting in" and "being part of a team." Yes, we operate in many societies – family, workplace, associations, clubs, churches, and more. Being able to blend smoothly is a big part of success inside these groups. But don't forget that there are still some things that we have to do alone, things that require us to call upon our uniqueness. While birth and death first come to mind as totally alone activities, another that requires our unique abilities is changing careers or finding a new job.

I think that's why job seekers find job search such a challenge. Job search is a lonely activity. It requires self-motivation, perseverance, and commitment with little reward from anyone but yourself. YOU have to research companies; YOU have to choose the companies for resume submission; YOU have to prepare for job interviews and then go to them alone!

Just for fun, try doing a mind map of your personal "snowflake." Start with listing your values – those things that must be honored at work for you to be happy with your job. Then, list your motivators – what makes you want to get up and go to work in the first place? Finally, what are your deal-breakers – those things that are non-negotiable at work (e.g., overtime hours, benefits, paid holidays, minimum salary, travel, etc.)? Now, what does your snowflake (mind map) look like?

NOTE: Be careful when listing your deal-breakers. Make sure they are really non-negotiable. Sometimes we have a tendency to feel we can't live without something, when in reality, that's just a preference, not a deal-breaker.

If you discover that your current career or job does not match your snowflake profile, zero in on those things that need to change in order for you to have a complete fit. If you can make those changes by yourself in your current role, fine. If not, it's time to start your discovery process to find your ideal career or job. For most of us, we are our worst enemy when it comes to change. It's easier to blame outside conditions rather than accept the responsibility to proactively change. Even if we hurt, that feeling is familiar, so therefore, comfortable. Change is risky – not at all comfortable – but very doable.

A career coach is your ideal partner when it comes to career reinvention. And Fall is the best time of the year to invest in the career change process. Get your career in gear for the new year! When 2012 arrives, you'll be glad you took this time.

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

Five Key Resume Writing Fallacies Revealed

OK, let's face this issue head on – professional resumes written by trained, credentialed, professional resume writers do NOT cost $50. Overwhelm There, I've said it – not so hard to do. If you want a well-crafted, marketing tool to help you get a job interview, you'll need to invest time, energy AND dollars into the professional resume writing process. That's the only way to develop the most important document you need to have to conduct a successful job search.

1. Resumes should only cost around $50 – NOT. (See above.) Get over the resume sticker shock. If you get a good job, what percentage of your first year's income would be your investment? One percent or less? Now, isn't it worth it to invest that much in a professional resume? Added bonus: wouldn't it be a relief to not have to stress out over drafting your resume all by yourself?

2. Resume writing is just a typing exercise – NOT. C'mon, do you really want to use a template you found on a computer to create the most important document used in your job search? To compete as part of today's saturated candidate pool, you must stand out! Your resume has to make your case for you, or you'll never get a job interview.

3. Resumes are easy to create for yourself – NOT. Even a resume writer struggles to create one for himself/herself. It's much too difficult to be objective about your own career experience and accomplishments. You need an unbiased eye to dig out what's most important to include in your resume based upon your current target market. Remember, the best resume is the one that's most narrowly niched. Employers never want to hunt for the reason why you submitted your resume to them. Actually, they WON'T do that – they'll throw away any resume that's too general and you'll never find out why.

4. Resume writing is just recording your work history – NOT. Resume writing is a form of technical writing – not reporting, essay, or poetry. It is a skill, craft, talent that is finely honed with frequent practice – after the "rules" are learned. Your "story" must be told in reverse chronological order, painting the picture of how you want to be perceived today in the world of work. It must include examples, accomplishments, and results that demonstrate your value, your problem-solving ability, and why you should be hired above anyone else. Your resume represents your career brand.

5. Resumes should be written by the job candidates themselves – NOT. This is a fallacy perpetuated by human resources. (Please – no fair throwing darts at me for this remark, HR, but your comments are welcome below.) Usually, how successful is a defendant who doesn't hire an attorney but represents himself/herself in court? Do you try to extract your own tooth to save money by not going to the dentist? How about diagnosing your own illness by researching on the internet instead of going to the doctor – how does that work for you? You are probably very good at what you do for a living and have a lot experience with talent to back up your actions. So, if you aren't good at writing your own resume – what's the big deal? Hire the best professional resume writer to partner with you on the project and I know you'll be happy with the resulting product.

I'm fully aware that my opinions expressed in this post may ruffle some feathers. However, based on 12 years of owning my boutique career services firm, I know this information to be true. Most of my clients are walking testimonials to the credibility of my remarks here. If you don't hire a professional resume writer to craft your career marketing materials, I wish you all the best and hope you prove me wrong. Tell me about your success (or not) in the comments section below. I want to hear it all!

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Pet Peeves of a Ranting Career Coach (Me!)

As a Career Coach, every once in a while I just have to blow off steam. It seems that I've reached that place today. Don't get me wrong – I love my clients – I love my work – I love working my passion. BUT, sometimes frustrations find their way into my career of helping others master their careers. Usually, it's the obvious to me, but not to my clients, that gives me the most reason to pause. I realize that I have lived my career for so many years, while my clients aren't as focused on the minutia as I. However, other career pros, such as hiring managers, recruiters, and HR professionals, also seem to spot these tiny things, and they have the power to pitch your resume or reject you after your job interview. Or worse, if you're working, fire you. So, let's just get it right! As always, I welcome your comments below.

1. If 5 years ago you "led" a project, you don't say you "lead" it. Huh? The present tense of the verb "to lead" is "lead," the past tense is "led." When you use "lead" in the past tense, I'm looking for my pencil to red line your resume error. Get it? There is NEVER a valid excuse for an imperfect resume. It can get tossed out of competition for - wait for it – incorrect minutia!

2. If you are going to give your best effort to finding a new position, how difficult is it to create a professional email address? I've seen everything from bubblegumbaby @yahoo.com to footballfetish @hotmail.com – and a lot of others in between. Ideally, you want an email address that includes your name with as few other characters as possible. Even my husband, who is a self-employed carpenter, is changing his email address from scoot### @emailaddress.com to something more professionally appropriate. The days of cutesy email addresses are gone – time to get with the program!

3. Do you want a potential employer who calls you to schedule an interview to have to listen to your 4-year old kid's 3-minute answering machine greeting on your home phone? Or cell phone? Hmm, how much do you really want a new job?

4. So you don't want to add your photo to your LinkedIn profile (assuming you even have a LinkedIn profile) because you're afraid of discrimination or privacy issues. Gosh, haven't you heard? Privacy is passe – it doesn't exist anymore, thanks to the Internet. If you have ever given a recorded speech, shared a pic with friends on Facebook, volunteered or participated at a media-covered charity event, or had a friend send you your photo in a text message – your picture is already out there! Cover your professional bases with a professional photo on LinkedIn. You'll be glad you did. And you will boost you chances for being targeted for good job opportunities.

5. Speaking of the Internet, what do you think your boss will say when he or she reads your hastily typed comments about him or her on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, email, or any other online program? Please, remember that anything you type becomes a permanent record. People have been fired for saying work-related things they they had thought they were sharing privately with co-workers and friends. Again, let me repeat, "There is no privacy anymore!"

BONUS: Please tell me you already know that you are being researched online by Traffic lightprospective employers and current employers alike.  Just as that red light camera snaps your picture to send you a traffic ticket when you don't stop in time at an intersection, your work activities are being constantly monitored. Quit using work email as a personal email! Stop using the company's computer for non-company activities (shop from home!). In these trying times when jobs are really hard to come by, protect yours by following smart online practices. Find a job by exhibiting the highest ethical and moral standards. Whether we like it or not, the age of Big Brother has arrived – and we're all caught up in it.

OK, this coffee pot has finished brewing. All the steam in gone, for now, except for one last spout-off: Respect is the first expectation any potential employer will have of a candidate, and the ongoing expectation any current employer will have of you. Prove you are reliable and can be trusted by the way you conduct yourself with your professional best practices, and that includes the Internet. 

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Is Your Career Canvass a Triptych?

During the first weekend in August, I visited Kansas City's Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to see the Impressionist painter Claude Monet's triptych painting, "Water Lilies." Monet While Kansas City has hosted 1/3 of this masterpiece for many years, the other two panels have each resided, respectively, in Cleveland, OH and St. Louis, MO. This was the first time in 30 years that all three panels were brought together for a unified viewing. As a big fan of Monet's work, how moving and exhilarating it was to see this in person! For those who have not seen the Water Lilies painting, I suggest you visit the Nelson's website to get a vague idea of what you're missing: http://bit.ly/i5Br4U.

For me, this was also the first time that I'd encountered the word, triptych. As a resume writer wordsmith, I am always intrigued by any new word. When I researched its definition, I saw how this word could also be applied to the job search process. Let me explain.

Wikopedia defines triptych as the following: "A triptych is a work of art (usually a panel painting) which is divided into three sections, or three carved panels which are hinged together and folded." Each panel can stand alone, but when connected, they will provide a more powerful and enhanced expression.

When you consider a successul job search, it normally consists of three main components: 1) clarifying your job goal, 2) writing your resume, 3) interviewing for the right position. Of course, several other activities figure into the process: seeking job opportunities, networking with key players, completing job applications, researching companies, and more. But at its core, the job search process is incomplete if one of its three main components is missing. And like the triptych, each of these components is a stand-alone on which the other two hinge.

The take away here? The next time you sit in front of an artistic masterpiece contemplating life, listen to your heart as it reflects your thoughts and feelings about everyday life. It's not always about what's in your brain that matters most.

Hugs and wishes for your career success in 2011!

Meg

5 Tips for Fighting Summer Job Search Blues

Phew! Another hot day in Kansas City – when will this heat wave end? It's exhausting, boring, and keeps me from doing the outdoor activities that I enjoy in the summer, like going to Starlight Theatre in the park.Summer fun

Perhaps you're feeling the same way right now about your job search? Depending upon how long you've been looking for that next opportunity, you could be approaching burnout similar to what an employee feels when he's overworked and under-appreciated. But now is not the time to give up! Instead, challenge yourself to stay motivated by using new and different ways to conduct your search. In other words, make it fun!

Here are five tips to help:

1) Got a buddy? Job search can be a lonely, thankless activity. If you can share it with a buddy, you'll find the process less tedious. Schedule a regular weekly time to connect with your friend. Listen and encourage him as he recounts his successes or drags his feet on completing his self-made commitments. You'll find that when he returns this favor for you, you'll perk up and feel renewed in your own commitment. Maybe a few email check-ins between you during the week can further your progress.

2) Got a smartphone? Add your job search activities to your I-phone. Besides accessing your email, you can do your online networking with the device. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook – all have download-able apps for your phone. Now you can join your friends at the beach, go on a hike, or take your kids to the zoo. Stay in touch with the online piece of your job search while not missing out on all the summer fun!

3) Got a clear career goal? After awhile, job goals can get fuzzy. When discouraged, you may begin to doubt your own intentions. Stop it! Just because you're not landing on your feet as quickly as you'd anticipated or planned, it doesn't mean that you were wrong in choosing your original goal. It does take longer these days to get a new job. Circumstances abound as to why. Maybe it's you, but more likely, it's the tough bottom-line mentality that companies adhere to due to the economic climate that we all live in. Do a little soul searching to confirm your reasons for choosing this goal. Chances are you will still come up with the same thing. 

4) Got a job search plan? I know, it doesn't sound too sexy, but it's mandatory for tracking all your job search activities. Be thorough in recording the who, what, when, and where of networking contacts, job interviews and job inquiries. Then you'll be able to know when it's OK to check back with someone without becoming a pest. Maybe this is not as easy to make fun as other ideas, but consider it critical to staying on course with your job search process. Try to turn it into a game.

5) Got a career coach? Besides being a professional cheerleader for you, a coach will gently push you 009 forward to meet your goals in a timely fashion. She serves as your careers resource, your brainstorming partner, your co-designer of job search action steps – always there to support you, give you insight, and help you stay accountable to yourself for doing what you say you want to do. Your career coach works with you to paint a vision of what you can become and accomplish. She will always be on YOUR side, no matter how the world tries to treat you. And, a career coach shares your pain, your tears, and your laughs. She really cares!

Now, get up off that couch, turn off the television, and find that job search buddy! Get your job search organized with a clear goal, an action plan, and a way to track your progress. Finally, hire a career coach! Make this process easier for YOU so you can become successful and find the next best thing for your career.

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Please follow our hash-tag on Twitter – #careercollective – as well as follow each expert's individual tweet on this month's topic of "Mid-Year Job-Search Checkup." You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these professionals in the careers field!

4 Summer Strategies to Step Up Your Job Search, @DebraWheatman, #CareerCollective

Putting Your Job Search Up On The Rack For Inspection, @dawnrasmussen, #CareerCollective

Mid-Year Job Search Checkup: Are you wasting your time? @GayleHoward, #CareerCollective

What is your unique value proposition? @keppie_careers, #CareerCollective

It is Time for Your Check-up Ms/Mr Jobseeker, @careersherpa, #CareerCollective

Mid-Year Career Checkup: Are You "On Your Game?" @KatCareerGal, #CareerCollective

How to Perform a Mid-Year Job Search Checkup, @heatherhuhman, #CareerCollective

Reposition your job search for success, @LaurieBerenson, #CareerCollective

Mid-Year Job Search Checkup: What's working and What's not? @erinkennedycprw, #CareerCollective

Mid-Year Job Search Check-Up: Getting Un-Stuck, @JobHuntOrg, #CareerCollective

Mid-Year Check Up: The Full 360, @WalterAkana, #CareerCollective

5 Tips for Fighting Summer Job Search Blues, @KCCareerCoach, #CareerCollective

Are you positive about your job search? @DawnBugni, #CareerCollective

Where Are The Jobs? @MartinBuckland, @EliteResumes, #CareerCollective

Mid-Year Job-Search Checkup: Get Your Juices Flowing, @ValueIntoWords, #CareerCollective

When Was Your Last Career & Job Search Check Up? @expatcoachmegan, #CareerCollective

Is Summer A Job Search Momentum Killer? @TimsStrategy, #CareerCollective

Is It Time for Your Resume Checkup? @barbarasafani, #CareerCollective

Sink or Swim in Social Media

>>Social media is instrumental in changing lives around the world. Country revolutions have been organized using Twitter, birthday parties are overrun with guests who see an invitation someone forgot to make private on Facebook, and yes, even jobs are being landed through LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. While Gen X and Gen Y (and even younger) persons have smartphones attached to their bodies like a new appendage, Baby Boomers and others are asking, "What's all the hoopla about?"

>>We've entered a new age: no longer the age of Aquarius, now the age of "being found." In other words, in order to connect with anyone for almost any purpose, you need to have an online or Internet presence. This is particularly true for job seekers who just want a new job. When a recruiter or hiring authority has a job to fill, they first go to the Internet to look for viable candidates. Recruiters notoriously go to LinkedIn, human resource personnel will do a Google search, even Craig's list is being used as a candidate source.

>>What's interesting is how Twitter has taken off as a place to find candidates. My belief is that hiring authorities, in all their wisdom, want to get to know the "real" person before scheduling a job interview. So, they read a candidate's tweets which often reveal personal information that cannot be asked in a formal job interview. Scary, huh? (If you don't know what digital dirt is, Google the term and learn how to clean up yours if you are in a job search.)
>>Twitter encourages you to join special groups for online chats, find new people to follow with your interests, create lists of these people organized by categories for easy access to their tweets, share digital photos of whomever or whatever you wish, and much more.
>>LinkedIn and Twitter are my social media tools of choice when it comes to job search. LinkedIn is a very professional program where you post your profile including employment history. This service may be utilized for no cost. To "get found" there by hiring authorities, you'll want to join a few relevant discussion groups where you ask and answer questions related to your field of work – spotlight your expertise. Also, take advantage of the "answers" feature which everyone can see, not just your official connections. Books have been written about using LinkedIn. One of my favorites is: I'm on LinkedIn – Now What? by Jason Alba.
>>Twitter is more informal than LinkedIn. You set up your account with a brief public profile, and now you're ready to share all kinds of information with anyone who will follow you. If you want to use Twitter while in a job search, be sure your tweets are on the professional side, not too opinionated, and never, ever full of inappropriate language or photos (just ask Rep. Weiner about that!). Make sure you choose a branded approach to your tweets to enhance your reputation. Look for people to follow that will help you with their careerist expertise, company connections, and job search leads. Make sharing your goal – not always asking for help. Social media is somewhat of a passive activity, so remember that what goes around, will come around back to you. One of my favorite books on using Twitter is the Twitter Job Search Guide, by Susan Britton Whitcomb, et al.
>>So what's holding you back from getting on the social media bandwagon? Don't be afraid to jump on – you really need to get involved to enhance your job search activities. And don't forget to download your social media programs to your smartphone where you may access them at any time. Happy tweeting, and all that other stuff!

Wishing you career success in 2011!
Meg

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Please follow our hash-tag on Twitter – #careercollective – as well as follow each expert's individual tweet on this month's topic of "Social media – how to use it in a job search, how to get started, do's and don'ts." You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these professionals in the careers field.

Make Your Career More Social: Show Up and Engage, @WalterAkana

You 2.0: The Brave New World of Social Media and Online Job Searches, @dawnrasmussen

How to Get a New Job Using Social Media, @DebraWheatman

Social Media: Choosing, Using, and Confusing, @ErinKennedyCPRW

How to Use Social Media in Your Job Search, @heatherhuhman

Updating: A Social Media Strategy For Job Search, @TimsStrategy

Your Career Needs Social Media – Get Started, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland

We Get By With a Little Recs from Our Friends, @chandlee

Expat Careers & Social Media: Social Media is Potentially 6 Times more Influential than a CV or Resume, @expatcoachmegan

Social-Media Tools and Resources to Maximize Your Personalized Job Search, @KatCareerGal

Job Search and Social Media: A Collective Approach, @careersherpa

How Having Your Own Website Helps You, @keppie_careers

Social Media: So what's the point?, @DawnBugni

Tools that change your world, @WorkWithIllnes

HOW TO: Meet People IRL via LinkedIn, @AvidCareerist

Effective Web 2.0 Job Search: Top 5 Secrets, @resumeservice

Jumping Into the Social Media Sea @ValueIntoWords

Sink or Swim in Social Media, @KCCareerCoach

Social Media Primer for Job Seekers, @LaurieBerenson

How to Handle Five Common #Career Skeletons

We all have them – situations, that if openly discussed, may have a negative impact on our lives and/or careers.

Several years ago I was surprised by one myself. WillardjohnMy aunt had been tracing the family tree on my mother's side when she came across information about a distant relative who had been hanged over three centuries ago after being convicted of murder. Wow! Although this unearthed family factoid (we believe it was a truth, but not quite sure) did not directly affect my life, it made me stop in my tracks and ponder the question: what else did I not know about my family?

When it comes to a job search, it's more likely that a personal situation a lot closer to home will present a potential roadblock to getting your next job. Following is a list of five possible barriers that may pop up for job seekers, barriers requiring your tact and skill to address in a job interview – if you want a job offer. One recommendation is to hire a professional career coach to help you present yourself in the best manner possible. Please share your comments below, especially if you've experienced these or any other job-busting situations.

Common Career Skeletons

1. Bad Credit Report: It's a sad fact, but today's employers routinely ask your permission to pull your credit report before offering you a job. For anyone who was laid off several months ago, chances are your credit report has taken a few hits. Since you will usually be interviewed before your credit report is pulled, the best action to take is to bring up this problem in the interview. Don't be ashamed – you've been trying to survive! Just offer at the end of the interview a very brief synopsis of the truth of why your report has been dinged. Many employers will be understanding about this.

2. Termination from Previous Job: If this termination was from your last job, you will need to address it more purposefully than if it was from a job way back in your work history. Try to keep from mentioning the situation until you are interviewed as you can soften the situation better in a face-to-face encounter. Briefly sum up what happened, assume the blame yourself (don't blame your old boss), and be ready to discuss what you've learned that will keep this from ever happening again. Once more, don't blame your past employer!

3. Conflict with Previous Boss: If you and your last boss just didn't get along, be ready to weave a story about that relationship into your interview conversation. Address the problem, what actions you took to resolve it, and whatever positive results came from those actions. Don't leave the story hanging in the air – be sure to offer the resolution. Even if the question doesn't arise, it's better to gently discuss it as there's a good chance your old boss will be contacted for a "reference" whether you name him/her or not on your reference list.

4. Criminal Record: Now this is a serious situation, not insurmountable, but very challenging. The whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is your only option here. As with most barriers to employment, put the emphasis on what you've learned through this experience and how it will positively shape your behavior going forward into the future. There are career coaches who specialize in working with people facing this roadblock. It's probably a good idea to seek professional career advice to maximize your chances for getting a job.

5. Non-visible Disability: It's easy for an employer to see if you're blind, deaf, or in a wheelchair. Many employers consider these "low-risk" disabilities when it comes to hiring. They feel they can make the necessary accommodations to support persons with these disabilities in a competitive work environment. However, if you have an emotional or mental illness, beginning stages of Parkinson's disease, or have been recently diagnosed with cancer, no one may know about it but you. You always have the choice of whether or not to disclose your disability and you can weigh the advantages vs. disadvantages to you in doing so. But if you have, say, ADHD and need any employer accommodations to perform the essential functions of your position, it's best to disclose your disability before accepting a job offer – probably in the second interview. Disability disclosure is a hugely personal thing. I suggest working with a career coach who specializes in the area of disabilities, such as Rosalind Joffe of Working with Chronic Illness, to get the support you need to get the job of your choice.

Perfectjob_12 Landing a job is a huge job in itself in today's economy, even for those with no career skeletons. When you have special barriers, it can become a more daunting task. Just stay focused on your goal, adapt your job strategy to meet any special situations, and get help from a professional career coach. Employers hire self-confident candidates who can solve problems. Know your value and your strengths, and become an expert at demonstrating both. The rest will follow.

 

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Remembering Mom’s Green Mashed Potatoes

When I was a child, I always anticipated St. Patrick's Day with the wonder of what my Irish mother would do this year to help us celebrate. Sitting down to a hearty farm breakfast, I'd begin my day listening to the Irish folk songs she had playing on the radio. Of course, she sent us all to school wearing something green with a shamrock pinned to each of our collars.

The most fun of the day was at dinner when she'd serve green mashed potatoes. Just a drop of green food coloring made the dish festive. Of course, Dad, a third generation farmer of Dutch descent, would shake his head and ask, "Where's the meat?" Usually the serious parent, his sense of humor often lacked the spontaneity of Mom's, although he did surprise us on occasion.

Mom made each holiday special and memorable. Most were celebrated in traditional ways: Easter baskets fullMargery-1945   of eggs and candy, Santa Claus and the Christmas tree with lots of presents, and Independence Day with flags and stories about her WWII service in the U.S. Navy. One April Fool's Day she sewed the tableware to the tablecloth. I won't even repeat what Dad said about that!

So, you say, what do my mother's holiday celebrations have to do with careers or job search?

More than these happy childhood memories, these fun times will always remain precious as I recall what Mom did with her life for us and my father, the husband she dearly loved. Marrying at 28, she gave up her teaching career to become a farm housewife, making a commitment to a new way of life. Yes, she chose this new life, but it's important to acknowledge the many changes she had to make – from baking bread to tending chickens to growing fresh vegetables in a big garden.

I see her holiday celebrations as one of her ways of maintaining her personal identity and not letting herself become lost in this different culture. When Dad was struck down at the age of 51 with a series of strokes and heart attacks that caused permanent disability, Mom returned to her teaching career to keep the family going. Always adapting and changing, she taught me the importance of being flexible in my life and my work. She also taught me that a woman CAN do it all: have a career AND have a family.

Lessons are here for all job seekers and careerists:

  • Don't fear the unknown.
  • Keep your eyes open for opportunities that can enrich your life and give it meaning.
  • There is no good reason to stay year after year in a job you hate – get proactive!
  • Find that career that lets you work from your life's purpose.

Thanks, Mom, for the life and career lessons you taught me!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Meg 

How to Revitalize a Stale Job Search

Whether you've been in a job search for a week, a month, or a year, you probably feel like it's been forever. ForOverwhelm most, job searches are no fun – they are hard work! But more than the work, it's the overwhelm due to isolation coupled with periodic rejection that compels many job seekers to lose self-motivation to persevere. So, what  can you do to refocus and re-tool your job search? What can rekindle your energy to keep you moving forward to attain success?

The biggest energy boost of all comes from human contact, especially if it is coupled with acknowledgment, recognition, and support. This is why so many job clubs have been launched since the recession began with all its layoffs. Most job clubs cost you nothing to attend. Many are held in church basements or activity rooms and are led by caring community members who volunteer their time. Depending on a job club's purpose, you may get peer reviews of your resume, discussion with peers and local guest experts on how to hone your job interviewing skills, perhaps even a presentation on improving your social networking skills, and more. All of this career advice is great and you would be wise to pay attention. Of course, you will need to get it all organized, scheduled, and incorporated into your job search plan. (You do have a job search plan, don't you?) When you Google 'job club' you will get a large number of sites to explore.

If there's no job club close to you, then look for another person who also is in job search mode to become your buddy. Take on the role of each other's booster. Talk daily – or at least weekly – to share your goals, successes, and rejections. Learn from each other about what works and what doesn't. However, if you begin to notice your conversations turning into "pity parties," STOP – take the time to correct the situation or replace your "buddy."

While having a spouse or partner to share everything with may seem ideal, it really isn't. Of course, your significant other will want to know and help you the best they can, but remember, they have a vested interest in the outcome of everything you do in your job search. What will work better for you is a more impartial individual who will put your needs first. Many relationships can't survive the stress caused by a layoff. Please reserve your relationship time for sharing your "normal" life activities with your loved one.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the best option for getting the job search support you need – hiring your own career coach. As a trained and credentialed professional, this individual can help you keep your job search on track, will listen without judgment to everything you say, offer sound advice, and challenge you to stay focused on doing the job search activities critical for success – in other words, getting the right job offer! Sure, you will need to invest in this service, but you wouldn't go to court without a good attorney or build a swimming pool in your backyard without a reputable contractor – or would you? Career coaching services are an investment in your future. An experienced career coach can help you reduce your job search time. After all, what percentage of your first year's salary would some career coaching actually be?

So, here are some options for getting your job search rekindled. Do you have other ideas? I'd love to hear them in your comments – please share!

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

 
Career-Collective-original-small SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Please follow our hash-tag on Twitter – #careercollective - as well as follow each expert's individual tweet on this month's topic of "How to Re-tool or Refocus Your Job Search." You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these professionals in the careers field!

Personal Branding to Fire Up Your Job Search, @DebraWheatman

Succeeding in a “Final Jeopardy!” World, @WalterAkana

5 Steps to Retool & Jumpstart Your Job Search, @erinkennedycprw

Your Job Search: Let's Just Start Again Shall We? @GayleHoward

Checklist for Spring Cleaning Your Job Search, @careersherpa

5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Job Search, @heatherhuhman

Ten Surefire Ways to Organize Your Job Search, @KatCareerGal

Put Spring Into Your Job Search, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland

Toes in the Water, @ValueIntoWords

How to Revitalize a Stale Job Search, @KCCareerCoach

How to re-think your job search, @Keppie_Careers

Wake Up and Smell the Flowers: Spring Cleaning Your Resume, @barbarasafani

Spring Cleaning and Your Personal Brand, @resumeservice

Spring clean your mind clutter first, @DawnBugni

Managing Your Career 2.0: On Giving Something Up To Get It Right, @Chandlee

Clean up, Chin, up, Shape up, @LaurieBerenson

Career Strategy for Grads: What’s Your Plan B?

For many people, careers by default have guided their lives. What's this? "Having no plan or road map for what you want to do in your life." This process gets kick-started in college when you feel pressured into choosing your major. The pressure may come from parents, peers, or the college counselor – even from inside you. No matter where it comes from, you find yourself facing a decision that you may not be ready to make. So what do you do? You choose anything – just anything – so that you may finish your coursework and get on with your life. Sound familiar?

After graduation, more decisions need to be made. What kind of job can you get with your degree? OMG! The jobs in your field have gone away while you were studying. Now what? Either you move back home with your parents, or you bunk with friends also doing a job search while you all work in fast food restaurants, retail sales, or if you're lucky, entry level office jobs. What happened? Why isn't your life turning into the great experience you were promised in your teens? (Another option is to return to school – but do you really want more debt?)

"If only" becomes your cry – if only I'd given my career choice more thought; if only I'd researched career options before choosing my major; if only I'd paid more attention to what I really enjoy doing – who knows? I may not have even gone to college at all, but studied while working in some kind trade instead.

I remember in high school when my mother (a former high school teacher) advised me to take a semester of typing even though I planned on getting a bachelor's degree. Honestly, typing really didn't appeal to me, but like a good first child, I listened and followed her advice. Today I look back and realize how important that one semester of typing has been to my entire career. In my first full time job I used typing and have relied on my keyboard skills ever since to manage whatever tasks that my jobs dictated. For me, typing was my Plan B. Today it is my tool for facilitating all my other skills and talents.Plan B

What is your Plan B?

If your career isn't quite working out right now, do you have a backup plan to go to? Even it's just a part time job, it's important to have something to supplement your living expenses while you continue to pursue your dreams. Sometimes a Plan B is your current position while you work on defining and exploring a career change. After all, you have to eat, right? If you're not working at all, what can be your Plan B? Perhaps something as simple as selling your services for cleaning houses, walking dogs, building websites, or even acting as a companion for an elderly neighbor.

The ideal Plan B job will be a temporary, short lived thing. It needs to help you survive while you make the transition into your chosen career, a career where you achieve your goals and meet your working wants. And a Plan B doesn't have to be job itself, it can be a skill you utilize while holding down a job.

What's most important here is that you do have options. What do you choose for your first – or next – career? What kind of Plan B can you come up with to give you the time to get what you really want?

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

How Blizzards, Dogs and Job Search Relate

Cal_and_Zeva My dogs are a lot of fun to watch on the ice and in the deep snow.

After the Kansas City blizzard last week, we had to "throw" them out the back door to get them to do their "business." Brrr! The icy cold wind hit them in the face, so unfamiliar to their senses.

The first time out, my 20-pound Zeva proceeded with her normal drill, wrapping up with the ritual of pawing the ground and then scooting her bottom. Yeow! She jumped up quickly and turned around to see what was that ice-cold thing she'd scooted on – certainly not dirt and leaves! The surprised look on her face was priceless.

Zeva's 17-pound brother, with the stand-up comedic ears, entertained us with his own show acting like a newborn calf trying to get up and walk for the first time. No matter what he did, Cal couldn't find his three-legged footing on the ice covered patio. His legs splayed in all directions! I could see his brain whirring – this whole thing was a lot more work than it was worth! But he persevered until he was successful, choosing to improvise and squat like his sister. I don't think dogs know how to give up.

As a job seeker, do you ever feel like my dogs – blindsided from the back and/or shaky on your feet? If you do have these feelings, do you forge ahead anyway – or do you give up? These feelings are all quite normal, as far as anything in a job search can be labeled normal. As much as you try to prepare for this new and uncertain landscape, you will get surprised many times along the way. Some experiences will teach you lessons that will help you to not repeat mistakes, while others will make you feel as if you have absolutely no control – and you don't!

For instance, job interviews are great training sites. With each interview, you'll gain more skills with the process. This is one example where practice does make perfect – or at least a lot better. Never say no to a job interview! In fact, going to an interview about which you are lukewarm will let you "practice" with little investment on the line.

But after the interview, you have no control over when the employer will make the hiring decision. That is so frustrating! Just hang in there and keep moving toward the next interview. Never quit the job search until you have accepted a real offer.

One more thing – if you're happily employed, don't be like my dogs and become so comfortable in your surroundings that you don't see the tumultuous blizzard right in front of you! Things do change. That's what this world is all about.

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Your Photo on LinkedIn – Breaking a Cardinal Job Search Rule?

Do you have a LinkedIn profile? I certainly hope so since this is the first place recruiters go to find their ideal candidates. SilhouetteDo you have your photo on that LinkedIn profile? Again, I hope so – as today it is expected that you should. If you don't, get a professional pic up there now! What you don't have on LinkedIn says more about you than what you include.

But did you know that only three-plus years ago a big debate broke out over whether or not it was appropriate for LinkedIn to let its users have a photo anywhere close to their career qualifications?

Today most professional resumes still don't include photos, exceptions being professional bios in the entertainment and public speaking fields, maybe a high-level executive resume. This job search "rule" is due to the Human Resources concern over liability regarding interviewing a candidate based on appearance, race or age.

(Maybe it's time to change this rule, too? Please share your comments below.)

In doing research for this post, I found an interesting article, "A Photo Is Worth a Thousand Words" by Adam Nash on the LinkedIn blog. In this article the following announcement was made: "We’re excited to announce that starting tomorrow LinkedIn members will have a new option available: the ability to add a professional photo to their profile." (9/27/2007)

Business publications raced to cover this revolutionary change in how HR and recruiters might be swayed on whom they would choose to interview. In fact, Bloomberg BusinessWeek printed the following: "As recently as an August interview, LinkedIn's co-founder and president, Reid Hoffman, said 'photos and business don't go together,' partly because images could unduly influence recruiters. To lessen that threat, LinkedIn is letting HR reps turn off the feature so they can screen candidates without regard to age, race, and appearance."  (9/27/2007)  — Turn it off? Hmmm…. Does that ever happen?

ZNet conducted an informal survey asking the public if adding a photo was a good or bad idea. Results: 70% said it was good, 30% said bad.

The Wall Street Journal published an article about recruiters using social networking sites (e.g., LinkedIn and Facebook) to check job references on candidates before getting their permission, before even referring them to an interview with an employer. (I believe this topic warrants another post.) They went on to say, "LinkedIn, which already has a similar recommendation feature, plans to announce today that it will allow users to add photos to their profiles – a feature that could help make job seekers more recognizable to industry recruiters who may know them." (9/27/2007)

What a lot of hoopla! What do you think – can having your photo on LinkedIn enhance your chance for illegal discrimination? There was concern about this in 2007 – has that concern faded away in 2011? Or maybe everyone has just come to terms with the fact that there is no privacy anywhere since the Internet has become everyday SOP – notably where job search is concerned.

I would particularly like to hear from HR professionals and recruiters on this topic: How do LinkedIn photos on candidates' profiles affect your decision to conduct interviews? Pros and cons, please!

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Career-Collective-original-small

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Please follow our hash-tag on Twitter – #careercollective - as well as follow each expert's individual tweet on this month's topic of "Job Hunting Rules to Break." You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these professionals in the careers field!

Juice Up Your Job Search, @debrawheatman

It's not your age, it's old thinking, @GayleHoward

Want a Job? Ignore these outdated job search beliefs, @erinkennedycprw

Job Search Then and Now, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

Break the Rules or Change the Game?, @WalterAkana

The New: From The Employer's-Eye View, @ResumeService

Job Search: Breakable Rules and Outdated Beliefs, @KatCareerGal

Job Hunting Rules to Break (Or Why and How to Crowd Your Shadow), @chandlee @StartWire,

Shades of Gray, @DawnBugni

3 Rules That Are Worth Your Push-Back, @WorkWithIllness

Your Photo on LinkedIn – Breaking a Cardinal Job Search Rule?, @KCCareerCoach

How to find a job: stop competing and start excelling, @Keppie_Careers

Be You-Nique: Resume Writing Rules to Break, @ValueIntoWords

Modernizing Your Job Search, @LaurieBerenson

Don't Get Caught With an Old School Resume, @barbarasafani

How Breaking the Rules Will Help You in Your Job Search, @expatcoachmegan

Beat the Job-Search-Is-a-Numbers-Game Myth, @JobHuntOrg

25 Habits to Break if You Want a Job, @CareerSherpa

What’s Wrong with the Spouses of #Jobseekers? (My Saturday Rant)

Several unemployed individuals have recently reached out to me seeking information on my services. For various reasons, they wish to discover what kind of career would really make their lives richer. They need assistance to make a transition back to the workplace. Theirs is a real cry for help! But their spouses just aren't listening. Maybe it's time for couples to go back in time to what they signed on for when they got married.Marriage

One has chosen to stay at home with a disabled child for the past three years while his wife earned a paycheck in a field she enjoys – making enough money to let the family survive, but not thrive. She now wants her partner to get a job – no matter how menial – to help out with expenses, but she does not support his investing in professional career-related services, such as a career coach, to help him return to the job market in a professional fashion. (The family has finally qualified for the assistance of an aide for the disabled son so the man is able work outside the home between 9 AM and 3 PM.) He misses his profession and would like to find a way to get back into it.

Another caller is facing an "empty nest" as her youngest goes off to college. She would love to get back into the field she enjoyed before choosing so many years ago to stay home to raise her family. However, the world of work has changed so much that her self-esteem is weak and she is afraid that her skills are stale. She really needs a career coach to help her evaluate career options and get her "mojo" back. However, her husband sees no need for this. He's happy with his career, so her needs don't appear all that important. After all, he has the financial bases covered and doesn't see a real reason for her to go back to work.

There are more stories from those wanting career coaching, but unable to afford it unless their working spouses loosen the family purse strings. What's up with these spouses? Do they feel threatened by loss of control of the family money if their partners go back to careers they enjoy? Are they acting selfishly in not approving the expenditure of career coaching? Or is it a real financial barrier if their partners to seek professional help?

And then there's the laid off professional who chose to start his own business instead of returning to Corporate America. He was the major wage earner in the family with his wife working part time dabbling in a "fun" career. Since he controlled the money, he was able to hire me as his career coach to help him. But, by the time he found me, he defined his career need as how to "get back into the rat race." His partner had declared that she'd had enough of his business failures and she wanted him to get a real job, just any #$%& job, so the family could maintain the lifestyle they were accustomed to. Needless to say, this career coaching client's heart wasn't truly into the job search process. But he declared that keeping the family peace was most important to him.

I wish all couples would revisit their marriage vows when faced with career and job challenges presented by their partners. "For better or worse" is a phrase that appears to be forgotten. Everyone needs to find a way to work together for the benefit of both partners, but more importantly, for the benefit of the family. Career change isn't easy, but even more challengin when a spouse or partner protests the other's need for help.

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Over 50 and Intimidated By a Job Search?

Finding a job over 50 is an "individual" process, not a group one. If you are a job-seeking boomer, quit paying attention to all the surveys and statistics! Instead, focus on your attitude, put a smile on your face, and build those critical business relationships. Sure, polishing your appearance can help with your face-to-face encounters, e.g., a professional hair style, fashionable clothes, weight loss, etc. And projecting your self-confidence with technology is important. But otherwise, it's still about the unique value you have in order to solve a potential employer's problems – what employers seek from every job candidate regardless of age.

After reading "4 Ways to Stay Employed After Age 50" (US News & World Report, 1-13-11), I once again felt annoyed by all the statistics. When job seekers' lives are boiled down into numbers, hope drains from the collective psyche of boomer readers everywhere. I see here another reason to turn off the tube and dial back the volume of media. Statistics are only numbers – numbers that include EVERYONE in a certain class, not reflective of individuals.

Each person is unique in who they are and what they offer to a potential employer. Become an expert at selling your potential as well as your experience. Research business trends and get comfortable discussing them in terms of your career target. Know that we exist in a rapidly changing world and embrace that fact! The over 50 job seekers who refuse to change, insisting that their way is always the right way, will NOT get where they want to go. They will be labeled as dinosaurs as they live up to their stereotype.

Age advantage book A great resource to help you, the boomer job seeker, is a book by Jean Erickson Walker, The Age Advantage: Making the Most of Your Mid-life Career Transition. Buy it or get it from your library. This is a must-read to help you clearly see all your options for finding a job, the right job for you.

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

A New Job Thanks to the Elephant

When I interviewed for a business developer position in the early 1990s, I answered one question that I credit with getting me the job. At the time, I thought it was an odd question, but I answered it instinctively – and it was the response the interviewer was seeking.

What was the question? "If an elephant showed up in your front yard, what would you do with it?" My immediate Elephantresponse was that I would sell it to a zoo. I discovered later after I was employed in this organization that other candidates had responded with "donate it to a zoo" or "find a home for it where loving people would care for it." These responses were more philanthropic oriented than what the interviewer wanted to hear.

My instincts had guided me correctly – this organization was looking for someone who knew how to promote and sell, even though they were a nonprofit. Once on the job, I bought a small ceramic elephant that I sat on my desk. The interviewer, Ron, and I would chuckle whenever he dropped my office to visit, referring to the question he had asked me about what to do with a surprise elephant.

Even in the 1990s, behavioral/situational interview questions – like the one I answered – were popping up in job interviews. Today, it's all about behavioral and situational interviewing. Furthermore, storytelling is now woven into the process. For example, instead of just explaining how I'd sell the elephant to a zoo, today I'd go further and say, "In fact, let me tell you about a time when something similar to this really happened." Interviewing is all about positioning yourself, about selling yourself, about proving your uniqueness.

Storytelling creates pictures in the minds of interviewers that help them remember you and your brand. Storytelling helps you create bridges from what you did that provided value for former employers to how these experiences can help a potential employer solve their problem(s). Storytelling also offers you a way to demonstrate what you've learned from possible negative situations about which hiring authorities will inquire.

Marketing Master, Patsi Krakoff, discusses the art of storytelling on her blog. Her post has many elements in it that can be applied to job interviewing. I love her quote, "Stories impose meaning on chaos and organize and give context to our sensory experiences." My advice to you is to remember that job interviewing is your opportunity to sell yourself, so most of what works in sales and marketing can be applied to your promotion of YOU in your job search.

Anyone in a job search today needs to be prepared for typical behavioral and situational interview questions. However, no way do you want to memorize responses. In a job interview, you must appear conversational and have knowledge of your topic, never spouting off rehearsed responses. The key to job interview success is mastering the storytelling process. Train your memory to bring the right responses forward based on keywords you have embedded in your answers. Although not a quick skill to master, storytelling in job interviews does produce positive results and worth all your effort to learn.

One of my career coaching programs with the biggest demand is Job Interview Preparation. A two-session program, it all takes place by phone and customized to a job candidate's needs. Homework is offered to help you develop your own storytelling skills. You may learn more by visiting my website

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

2011 Employment Trends Supercharged with Twitter

One thing I always advise my career coaching clients:

"Don't assume a hiring authority will understand your company-speak. Use generic words to spell out your skills and experience. On your resume and in your job interview, demonstrate your job hisory with terms that are easily translated into how you can meet an employer's needs."

Even though I espouse "don't assume" in my professional career coaching advice, I sometimes catch myself doing just what I advise against. Let me explain.

Active on Twitter for two years, I tend to assume everyone else knows all about Twitter and its far-reaching capabilities. Wrong! Some career coaching clients have never heard of it, and many don't see its value in helping them with their careers. Last year "The Twitter Job Search Guide" by Susan Britton Whitcomb et al was published. It offers to help you "find a job and advance your career in just 15 minutes a day." If you don't have this book, get it! You won't be sorry! (A few of my tweets even made it into the final draft!)

My 2011 career coaching prediction:

***Twitter will become one of 2011's most-used job search tools – online or off.***

Not only can you find tweets that offer a wide-range of information on job search strategies from careersTwitter1gif  experts, it has many users who post quality job openings in a wide range of fields. Recruiters tweet, as do career coaches and consultants, job board owners, and job seekers themselves. The key to Twitter success for a career changer or job seeker entering this new online world is to quickly determine the best "experts" to follow. Then, create specialized lists for each group of experts that you can easily track. And when you start to post your own tweets (which I know you will want to do – it's contagious!), make sure you act as a true professional to keep all that digital dirt at bay.

I spent this morning reviewing my December 2010 tweets with the intention of sharing some predicted 2011 trends with you. But I've come to the conclusion that the real story here isn't the list of employment trends below, but the online technology that enables me to quickly produce this list! (Follow me on Twitter @KCCareerCoach.)

Here are 15+ of my tweeted career-related trends moving into 2011:Happy.new.year

1) 84% of working individuals plan to find a new job in 2011. http://bit.ly/gjKo8l
1a) Almost half of British workers are fed up in their jobs. http://bit.ly/ejIgwa

2) Companies may lose top talent as economy recovers. http://bit.ly/gMVsNi

3) 86% of Recruiters Use Social Media. http://bit.ly/9l2BhC

4) One third of U.S. workforce now composed of non-traditional contract workers. http://bit.ly/eMomtr

5) Baby boomers drive change to career services. http://bit.ly/h60bGf

6) Why U.S. companies are reluctant to start hiring. http://bit.ly/dXycOs

7) Survey results: Of workers laid off earlier in 2010 & found new jobs, 61% took pay cuts. http://bit.ly/e06Opt

8) Prediction & hot IT jobs: "In 2011 expect (digital resumes) to become standard for hiring short or long-term employees" http://bit.ly/hnxAB9

9) Companies hire detectives to check out employees playing "hooky." http://yhoo.it/gaSiPz

10) Digital Dirt continues to strike! "Happy about getting laid off? Don't tell Facebook" http://on.msnbc.com/f3X9lx

11) 72% Americans expect to work through retirement, 39% because they have to & 33% because they want to. http://bit.ly/ictjAS

12) Detailed 2011 professional trends report: "Robert Half Professional Employment Report" http://bit.ly/ff2PFh

13) Rising unemployment among less-educated U.S. men part of longer-term trend. http://bit.ly/fmBLW3

14) Fewer people insured by employers. http://on.today.com/dFoHFI

15) Employers Won't Hire The Jobless Because Of The "Desperate Vibe." http://huff.to/e7Fl8t

What you do with this employment and career information is up to you. Please just keep in mind that it is all based on generalities. You are a very unique individual. As such, you have the power to defy all odds when you work from a carefully constructed career plan. Just take the first step and make that plan!

Wishing you ultimate career success in 2011!

Meg

Career-Collective-original-small SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Please follow our hash-tag on Twitter – #careercollective  as well as follow each expert's individual tweet on this month's topic of "Things job seekers should keep an eye on in 2011 (trends/tools/hiring practices). You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these professionals in the careers field!

Social Media Recruiting to Grow Further in 2011, @debrawheatman

Another Year, Another Job Search Begins, @GayleHoward

In 2011, Increase Your Prospects With Better Differentiation, @WalterAkana

4 Lessons Learned From Job Search in 2010, @Careersherpa

Your Career Action Plan for the New Year, @KatCareerGal

Trends Job Seekers Should Look For in 2011, @erinkennedycprw

Things Every Job Seeker Should be Thinking About in 2011, @expatcoachmegan

Let your presence be known or send out a red flag, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

How to find a job in 2011: Pay attention to emotional intelligence, @Keppie_Careers

2011 Employment Trends Supercharged with Twitter, @KCCareerCoach

3 Traits for Facing Weather, Employment and Chronic Illness, @WorkWithIllness

Everything old is new again @DawnBugni

Career Trend 2011: Accountability + Possibility = Sustainability, @ValueIntoWords

Career Tools to Check Out in 2011, @barbarasafani

What Was in 2010, What To Expect in 2011, @chandlee

The Future of Job Search: 3 Predictions and 2 Wishes, @JobHuntOrg

Career Digital Launches Huge Career Site

I am so proud to be an affiliate of Career Digital, a new online site featuring "Career Insights and Advice," a comprehensive compilation of blog posts by today's careers experts. Offering all of the important categories for CareerDigitallogo job seekers and careerists, this site will help you conduct your job search and manage your career. 

With navigation ease, you may search by pertinent topic and get linked to careers experts blogs. Headlines clue you in to the information each blog post presents. No need to look further – now you may find answers to all you career questions in one place.

Career Digital launches today! Do yourself a favor and check it out!

You may even search the site from this blog! Just scroll down a bit.

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Who Cares About What You Want in a Job? Only YOU!

OK, folks, let's get real about job search – seriously!

I appreciate that you've put many stressful hours into resume preparation. That's not an easy project to complete. Hopefully, you hired a professional resume writer to ensure that your resume is letter perfect. When it comes to your resume, there is absolutely no room for error.

BUT, no matter how much work and money you put into your resume, keep in mind that it will probably be glanced at by a Recruiter or HR professional for maybe 10-15 seconds on its first pass when you submit it for Suit and resume any job opening. Ouch! That may make you stop suddenly in your tracks – but don't let it. Most recruiters and HR personnel receive many, many resumes for each job opening they post. There's just not enough time in a day to study each document carefully. So how does your resume become the one considered for final review? And an interview for you?

Keywords! Most resumes are stored in electronic databases where they rest until pulled up for review on the basis of keyword search. Your resume writer knows how to embed the right keywords into your resume to enhance its chances for final review. If you're working on your resume yourself, take a look at relevant postings on job boards. That's where you may get some hot keywords to use in your resume.

The other critical factor is having a crisp, clear target that is expressed through the experience and skills listed on your resume. No employer has time to figure out what you're looking for. Make it easy on them – leave nothing to chance! So, guess what, this means tailoring your resume for each job opening you apply for. Yes, a lot work, but well worth it. There's no such thing as a general or "I'm open" resume – be specific if you want the employer's attention.

Now, let's assume your resume makes it to the final cut and you become one of 10 or fewer people called in to interview for the position. How do you prepare for this opportunity? It's a given that you NEED the job, but, again, who cares? Only YOU! Your task when you get to the interview is to demonstrate your highest value to solve this employer's problems. In other words, focus only on what you can do in this position to contribute to this company. Remember, what YOU need doesn't matter – only what the employer needs is important, especially in your first interview.

So, how do you prepare? Start by thoroughly researching this company. Learn as much as you can from your Internet detective work about this company's products and/or services. Read this company's press releases. Check out this company's website, plus go to LinkedIn.com for information about this company and its employees. Know anyone who works there? Reach out to them professionally to see if you can get some inside scoop. It helps if you can learn why this job is open – is it a new position, a replacement, or was someone let go?

Once you have insight into why this job is open, take stock of your experience and skills to figure out what you have to contribute that can be of benefit to this compnay. Think in terms of what challenges you've faced, what actions you've taken, and what results you've attained. This critical information will help you "tell stories" in your interview to demonstrate your "best stuff." Storytelling is important as it will leave pictures in the minds of your interviewers to make you memorable and a stand-out among your competition.

During the interview, think in terms of sell, sell, sell! Your interview is your opportunity to sell your Suit and smile qualifications to the employer (or its representative). Just like your resume is your marketing brochure, your interview is your sales presentation. Try to de-personalize yourself a bit from the process. Think in terms of selling "Brand Me, Inc.," to the employer. You are your own product!

Don't worry. There will come the time when your needs will be considered, usually when a job offer is made. Until then, only be concerned with how you can help a prospective employer want you and only YOU! Always put the employer first!

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Career-Collective-original-small

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Follow our hash-tag on Twitter – #careercollective  as well as follow everyone's individual tweets on this month's topic of common misconceptions many have about the hiring process. You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these experts in the careers field!

 

5 Misconceptions Entry-Level Job Seekers Make, @heatherhuhman

How "Interview Savvy" Are You?, @careersherpa

Employers Don't "Care", @ValueIntoWords

Misconceptions about Using Recruiters, @DebraWheatman

15 Myths and Misconceptions about Job-Hunting, @KatCareerGal

Are You Boring HR? @resumeservice

Job Search Misconceptions Put Right, @GayleHoward

Who Cares About What You Want in a Job? Only YOU!, @KCCareerCoach

How to get your resume read (sort of), @barbarasafani

The 4 secrets to an effective recruiter relationship, @LaurieBerenson

Job Interviews, Chronic Illness and 3 Big Ideas, @WorkWithIllness

The secret to effective job search, @Keppie_Careers

Superstars Need Not Apply, @WalterAkana

The Jobs Under the Mistletoe, @chandlee

8 Common Sense Interview Tips @erinkennedycprw

Still no job interview? @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

Misconceptions about the Hiring Process: Your Online Identity is a Critical Part of Getting Hired, @expatcoachmegan

Cyber Monday Promo: Give a Special Gift to a Loved One

Where has 2010 gone?

While signs exist that the recession is over, many unemployed workers are still struggling. Those who are working also struggle, though their challenges are different: extra long work days, no pay raises or promotions, stressful work environments, political posturing with peers and bosses. Some surveys point out that over 50% of all workers yearn for the opportunity to move to a different job or employer, and plan to jump at the first chance they get!

Hope for a dream career has been replaced with a longing to just work in a happy environment. Next year things could change. In fact, I believe 2011 will become the Year of the Worker. However, for the worker, career change won't come easily. It definitely won't come without planning and preparation. If you are someone wanting to change jobs or employers, do you know what it takes to be successful? Do you know a friend or family member stuck in the same spot who needs help with creating a career plan?

One service that we offer at Abilities Enhanced is the Career Power Hour. If you have a single career issue toForus  resolve fast, during this 60-minute highly intensive hour I will do laser career coaching to get you to the heart of the matter and help you move forward quickly. (Not for the timid or very talkative or anyone with complex career challenges.) Some have used this service for choosing between two job offers (nice problem to have, huh?). Others use it to get clues on what means the most to them in a job and how they should begin their job search.

Sixty minutes go fast, but it's amazing how much can be accomplished in this time frame. Don't you owe it to yourself to be ready when the right career opportunity pops up?

Normally $200US, I'm participating in Cyber Monday by discounting this service 25% – yes, only $150.00 until Tuesday, November 30! This is a Cyber Monday deal you may use for yourself or give to a friend or family member as the service may be scheduled until January 31, 2011. (However, this "deal" must be claimed by December 31, 2010.)

Click here to purchase the Career Power Hour

After you purchase, you will receive a follow-up email, "AE Career Power Hour – What to Do Next."  Follow the instructions carefully. If you purchase this service for another person, then forward the follow-up email to them with instructions to claim their "deal" by December 31.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at mailto:meg@abilitiesenhanced.com.

Turnlifearound_19 Get the help you need to make 2011 your best career year yet!

Click here to purchase the Career Power Hour

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Creative vs. Traditional Job Search: Got What It Takes?

Should you employ creative job search strategies, or do they  just fall flat and make you look like a fool?

That depends. In a recent careers column by Eve Tahmincioglu at MSNBC.com, the author quoted a workplace consultant who said in regard to the practice of informational interviewing that employers don't like a "bait and switch" or, in other words, you need to be up front with your intention and purpose when sitting face-to-face with a hiring authority. If what you really want is a job interview, then getting your foot in the door based on your request for an informational interview is being insincere.

I don't completely agree with this opinion. While I don't advocate being anything less than authentic, you can choose when to exercise full disclosure. In fact, my personal work history includes a time when I landed a new and better full time position, all because I took a risk using my creativity.

Here's what happened:

I was working as a Job Developer for a non-profit organization that strove to get laid off workers reemployed. My role was to set up meetings with potential hiring authorities where I introduced our non-profit program and how it worked. I then tried to solicit job openings for which our job loss clients could apply. Building rapport was key to the success of my efforts. A reason I was offered this job was my background in recruiting and staffing.

One day a faxed job opening hit my desk. It was for a position with another non-profit organization requiring very similar skills as the job I was currently doing – but offering $5000 more per year to start! As a single parent of two sons, I instantly knew that I had to get that job – but what was my best strategy? The job posting asked for one area of experience that I didn't have – working with a specific client population type. Would that become a deal buster? Hmm, only one way to find out.

I picked up the phone and scheduled an meeting with the organization's director on the pretext that I wanted to learn more about their position for my laid off clients. No problem – an appointment was immediately set for later in the week.

The day of the meeting I dressed in my best suit as if I were going to a job interview. I made sure I knew the location (actually, another benefit if I could only get the job was that the site was located five minutes from my home!). I arrived five minutes early with my questions in hand. I planned to conduct myself as if I were being true to my stated purpose – learn more about the position for my clients.Interview

The moment I met the director I was completely at ease. She was very personable and easy to converse with. We meandered off topic a bit and got to know each other as real people – definitely building rapport. Of course, I got answers to all my questions, and the meeting went beyond the allotted 30 minutes to over 45 minutes.

When it was time for me to leave, I looked the director straight in the eye and said, "I've really enjoyed our talk. Your position sounds very challenging and rewarding. I have no doubt I'd be a perfect candidate for you. You will have my resume in the morning." She replied, "I certainly hope so. I look forward to seeing it."

Wow! I was halfway there! That evening I updated my resume and delivered it, as promised, on my way to work the next morning. I was called for an official interview within the week. So, I got a new suit and went to the interview prepared to ace it.

Yes, I was hired. During the seven years that I worked for her, the director commented periodically that she never would have considered me for the position based on my resume alone as I lacked that specific client population experience. She had liked my assertiveness in setting up that first meeting. She also realized that I could learn about her client population from her, but my recruiting and job development skills were priceless and she couldn't pass up the opportunity to hire someone who really knew how to do the leg work.

Will this strategy work every time? Of course not. But I do encourage you to be professionally creative as you conduct your job search. Be true to yourself and others while keeping an open mind to trying out-of-the-box possibilities. Make your networking work for you, build your rapport, and take a few chances.

Wishing you career success as 2011 races toward us!

Meg

Your Career Brand: A Scary Trick or an Appealing Treat?

Ghosts and goblins and witches – oh, my! Have you gotten into the spirit of Halloween? Ghosts_DSC2516 We at Career Collective have, but, of course, we see this "trick or treat" time through the lens of career management and job search. What fun metaphors this holiday provides us! 

Does your career "costume" attract your target audience? I'm not talking about the clothes you're wearing, but the career brand you project by the way you talk, the professional groups with which you associate, and the kind of work behavior you exhibit on the job. While you have to be true to your authentic self, there is never a right time at work to be totally informal. Opinions of others of you do matter, so keep your politics to yourself, don't bash your boss or co-workers, and NEVER go into work with a hangover. Crying on the job is usually inappropriate, no matter how difficult it may be to hold back the tears. Habitually long lunch hours and other mismanagement of your time indicate a careless attitude toward your job responsibilities. And whatever you do, remember that your work computer belongs to your employer – don't use it for personal shopping, surfing porn sites, or goofing off because you're bored with your job. (Do I even have to mention why you don't use it for job search? Duh!)

Finger OK, I hear you – you're not currently looking for a job, so why must you project any career brand at all? NEWSFLASH: No matter how secure you believe your job to be, you are always "on stage" auditioning for your next career role. Do I really have to re-hash the "no job is permanent" speech as we continue to crawl out of a crippling recession? Every worker wants security and stability, but these elusive conditions no longer exist, if they ever did. You must take charge of your career, making decisions and choices while still employed as you now is when you have emotional wherewithall to exercise sound judgment.

So, going back to your career brand, take a look at how you can build and weave yourDigital_spider_cobweb_2010  career plan for the life of your career, not just for filling the space between your jobs. At work, everything you do and everyone you meet become part of your career plan in some way. Be strategic – decide how you can integrate both into your next career move. Guess what – this means you need to discover what your next career move should be. Or do you want another career by default instead of by choice? (Note: A Career Coach can help.)

Cultivate your database of contacts. When you collect business cards, note on the back of them a connective word to trigger your mind to remember the individual. And then reach out to them later. A quick email, coffee break, or a lunch can start to build the rapport you need. Recently, I had a client who faced very little challenge in getting a new job when she was unexpectedly laid off. She went to her database and contacted everyone she knew. Voila! She was back at work – in her chosen field – in 30 days. Her lifelong, on-the-job networking paid off big time.

Constantly working on your career brand can become tiring. You will have to consider it your second job, deserving of your time, attention and hard work. I suggest keeping a tracking file – on your HOME computer – of what you do, when you do it, and with whom you connect. Keep it simple, but well-organized. Stay connected to the world outside your workplace by reading about current events, white papers from your field, and global business news (as well as local). We are entering the annual holiday season when you can make networking more frequent – take advantage of this time!

Bottom line: Discover your own way to set your career brand on fire. Jack_DSC2886cut%20copyWhen you light it up, others will notice. Carve out your goals, then go after them by staying involved and engaged so your next job search is an easy one.

Wishing you career success in 2010!

And a safe Happy Halloween!

Meg

 

Career-Collective-original-small SPECIAL NOTE:

I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Follow our hash-tag on Twitter - #careercollective  as well as follow everyone's individual tweets on this month's topic of Halloween. You'll be surprised at all the free career advice and knowledge that is availabe to you!

 

Where Are the Wild Things, Anyway?, @WorkWithIllness

Is Your Job Search Making You Feel Like a Smashed Pumpkin?, @DebraWheatman

Hiding in Plain Sight, @WalterAkana,

Don't make these frightful resume mistakes, @LaurieBerenson

How Not to Be a Spooky Job Seeker, @heathermundell

A Tombstone Resume:Eulogizing Your Experience, @GayleHoward

The Top Ten Scary Things Job Seekers Do, @barbarasafani

Oh, Job Search Isn't Like Trick or Treating?, @careersherpa

A Most Unfortunate Resume Mistake No One Will Tell You, @chandlee

Oh no. Not the phone!, @DawnBugni

Halloween Caution: Job Seeker Horror, @resumeservice

Boo! Are you scaring away opportunities or the competition? @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

Your Career Brand: A Scary Trick or an Appealing Treat?, @KCCareerCoach

How to avoid mistakes on your resume, @Keppie_Careers

Sc-sc-scary Resume Mistakes, @erinkennedycprw

A Flawed Resume is a Scary Prospect, @KatCareerGal

Job Search Angst: Like Clouds Mounting Before a Storm, @ValueIntoWords

Does Your Career Costume Fit You?, @expatcoachmegan

Flipping the Job Interview

I can't believe that I've been blogging for five years!  As I took some time to read some of my past posts, I came across the one below from 2006 that still rings true today.

Hope you enjoy this gem from the Career Chaos archives:

Cracking Your Next Company's Culture is a must read for anyone embarking on a job search. Instead of spending all your prep time rehearsing your answers to tough interview  questions, read this article and note what you need to do to ask the right questions.

One strategy that grabbed my attention is to ask the interviewer to give an example of how  the company "lives and breathes its value statements." Of course, you have to know  what the company value statements are, so your research here is highly critical.

Tired of all those behavioral and situational interview  questions? Turn the tables by asking the interviewer to "walk you through a recent initiative." Wow! This is great stuff!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

How to “Stage” A Successful Job Search

While I was channel-surfing recently, I discovered HGTV, a cable TV station that offers programming on topics related to buying, selling, and renting homes. Not having sold a house lately, I am learning a lot about working with today's real estate market.

Mathouse3274 One topic I find particularly fascinating is the concept of "staging" rooms to sell a house. The way I understand it, staging refers to updating a house's rooms to make them attractive and appealing to prospective buyers who want to be able to walk into a house and immediately "see" themselves in the space. This updating could be as simple as painting the interior walls with a neutral color that blends with the furnishings. It could mean replacing a kitchen's appliances, counter top, or even knocking down walls to enlarge the space.

One might ask, "What's the point to investing money into a house that you're trying to sell? Won't that just decrease the profit you make on the sale of the house?" Yes, it will, but keep in mind that today's home buyer's market requires sellers to work harder to make the sale happen.

Staging is a technique that job seekers can utilize to make themselves appear more employment-ready to prospective employers. I see it applying to your resume, job interview preparation, and attitude adjustment.

When it comes to your resume, think, what does a potential employer want to see? What will make you stand out among all competition? Niche your resume as tightly as you can in order to brand yourself as a unique expert in your field. A resume shouldn't be designed to appeal to the world, but rather to a narrow slice of the employment market.

Job interview preparation should help you learn how to answer interview questions to demonstrate that your past experience and accomplishments can be translated to solve the problems of a potential employer – remember, it's always about the employer, not you. Before your interview, research the employer so you are able to prepare. You need background information to help you discover the employer's needs, and then, frame your work stories accordingly.

Your attitude adjustment may be the most challenging aspect to engage into staging your job search. I would never ask you to surrender you authenticity, but rather, boost your opinion of yourself and the job search process. Each job interview offers you a new chance to show how you are the perfect pick for the job. Make the best of this opportunity by leaving your grudges, prejudices, job seeker weariness, and overall disappointment behind you. Stage your attitude with enthusiasm, hope, self-confidence, and faith in the job search process.

Employers want to meet upbeat candidates – so become one!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Job References: A Few Tips to Help Them Help You

OK, I know you know that a job seeker needs to provide references to a prospective employer. But do you know all the fine points for ensuring that a reference really helps you get the job?

Here are a few tips:

  1. Professional references rank as more important to an employer than personal references.
  2. Select your references as soon as you know your job target. Choose wisely – make sure they will speak well of you and your work. A personal phone call from you is required with your request for them to serve in this role.
  3. Your references need to be prepared to speak to your prospective employers about your work history, skill set, qualifications – all in relation to the job for which you are applying.
  4. Ask several professionals to be references for you. Then you won't have to use them all every time you interview for a job. You don't want to become a pest.
  5. Never offer references to a prospective employer until after you interview – unless specifically requested before your interview. Again, you don't want to ask for help from references until absolutely necessary.
  6. Send your resume to each of your references. This will make their job easier when speaking with your potential employer.
  7. Create a professional reference list to leave with prospective employers following your interview. Do this by making a letterhead template using your resume as a model and typing your reference list beneath your letterhead after deleting the resume content. Include all means of contact for each reference along with their job title and how you know them.
  8. Most references will let you know when/if they are contacted on your behalf. Be sure to send them a thank you note.
  9. Stay in touch with your references, particularly if your job search is taking longer than you had originally expected. You don't want your references to become stale – keep them fresh!
  10. When you do land your new job, contact every reference individually by phone to thank them again for their help. A small professional gift, such as a business card holder, is also a nice touch.

Treat your references with your best customer service manners. They are like gold and can make or break your chances for getting the job!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

A Self-Empowering Job Search Resource

When job seekers think of resources to help them find a job, they usually focus on external options, such as job boards, LinkedIn, Twitter, career coaches, resume writers, and more. However, after trying and not winning the game of finding a job after an endless length of time, despair and discouragement can set in. Maybe now is the time to look at resources to assist your internal process.

Journaling is such a resource. When frustration and defeat dominate your thoughts, they can overflow into your actions causing inactivity – the biggest enemy of your finding a job. If you want to work on your inner thoughts and feelings, start keeping a journal. Writing about what's going on with you – inside and out – can help you manage it all so much better. Journaling is an easy-to-use self-empowerment tool – give it a try!

Here's a quote from Steve Pavlina's blog, "Personal Development for Smart People," that summarizes quite well how journaling helps:

"While your brain is technically capable of processing a great deal of input simultaneously, your conscious thoughts play out in a certain sequence. One thought triggers the next, which triggers the next, and so on. Sometimes these sequences have a few branches, but they’re still subject to linear time, and at any given moment, you’re following one of those branches. These thought sequences have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and it’s nearly impossible to see the big picture overhead view of a sequence while you’re stuck in playback mode.

This is where journaling can provide huge advantages. Journaling allows you to break free of sequential thinking and examine your thoughts from a bird’s-eye view. When you record your sequential thoughts in a tangible medium, you can then go back and review those thoughts from a third-person perspective. While you’re recording the thoughts, you’re in first-person mode. But when you’re reading them, you can remain dissociated instead of associated. This dissociative view, when combined with what you’ve already learned from the associative view, will bring you much closer to seeing the truth of your situation."

Until recently, there were only a couple of ways to journal – write by hand in a notebook or type a Word document and save it on your computer. Now there is a third option: participate in an online community where journal topics are even provided for you to help sort out your thoughts.

Last week Abilities Enhanced launched a free Career Community where after you join you will receive a free 52-week journal. A public forum and Abilities Enhanced newsletter are also included in the program. Of course, Career Coach comments from me are part of your membership. You may choose the level of privacy you wish to maintain and how much you want to interact with your peers.

As our career community grows, I will be adding paid options to enhance your experience. But for now, there's a lot to do that doesn't cost a dime – perfect for the unemployed job seeker. However, journaling is really for everyone involved in career management.

To join, click on the link below that will take you to a shopping cart where the purchase price is $0. Following a couple of thank you's, you'll receive a "Next steps" email from me with a link that takes you to the actual AE Career Community site where you'll need to set up your profile to become a member. This is a critical step – you have to set up your profile before the career community will let you participate.

(Note: if you are a career coach and want to join, please do! The free option is open to all.)

Here is the link to get you started:

http://tinyurl.com/29osgno

Happy journaling – hope to see you in the AE Career Community soon! And, please, let me know if you have any questions.

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who will each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to   their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Follow our hash-tag on Twitter - #careercollective  as well as follow everyone's individual tweets on this month's topic: "Favorite Resources for Job Seekers."

 Career Collective Posts for September 2010:

Career-Collective-original-small If your industry does not participate online, you can lead the way, @Keppie_Careers 

6 Ideas to Put In Your Toolbox, @WorkWithIllness,

Your Best Job Search Resource? You!, @WalterAkana

In a Job Search, Knowledge is Power, @barbarasafani

Jump Start Your Job Search Now!, @resumeservice

Favourite Resources for Jobseekers, @GayleHoward

The Best Job Search Tool Ever, @careersherpa

Find What You Do Best, Know Your Stuff, and Connect, @chandlee

27 Recommended Blogs for Entry-Level Job Seekers, @heatherhuhman

Invaluable Resources for Job Search Success, @heathermundell

Favorite Social-Media Resources for Job-seekers, @KatCareerGal

Canadian Resources for Job Seekers, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland

A Self-Empowering Job Search Resource, @KCCareerCoach

Covering your bases: 5 ultra-useful online career resources, @LaurieBerenson

Favorite resources for Job seekers, @DawnBugni

Top 3 Resources for Job Seekers to Position Themselves as Experts and Increase their Visibility, @expatcoachmegan

Time as a Career Resource: How "Not" to Squander It, @ValueIntoWords

Favorite Internet Resources for Jobseekers, @ErinKennedyCPRW

The Facts Behind Why LinkUp Is the Most Revolutionary Job Search Engine Available to Job Seekers, @GLHoffman

Career Check-in on Your 2010 New Year’s Resolutions

Have you forgotten your 2010 Career New Year's Resolutions? Not much sense in doing anything about them now. WRONG! It's never too late.1972280  

Here's the list of seven that I posted December 30, 2009. Take a look and see which ones you've mastered this year. Pick at least one that you can work on today! Refresh your job search; pick up your pace on career retooling toward your career change. And pat yourself on the back if you've mastered at least two of these!

2010 Career Resolutions

** I will make it easy for recruiters to find me. Recruiters work for their client companies – not you – and few appreciate your seeking them. However, when they need qualified candidates, they want them NOW. So, facilitate their need by maintaining high visibility on the Internet. Many recruiters claim that LinkedIn is the first place they look – how findable are you there? Yes, your resume needs to be posted, but do you also participate in discussion groups related to your field?

** I will spend no more than two hours per day in front of my computer. Get out of the house! Undoubtedly, you've heard that the majority of new jobs are gotten through networking. But beyond that, you must keep your social skills fresh while building and maintaining professional relationships. It's amazing how one's perspective can improve just by interacting with fellow human beings.

** I will give before taking. While networking, offer your help to fellow job seekers. Volunteer at food pantries or church. Just the act of giving will make you feel valued again. This will enhance your self-confidence and get you going again in the job market.

** I will devote at least one hour per day to self-care. Keep your mind smart and your body toned with exercise. Reward yourself for any job search success, no matter how small, by reading a chapter in that novel you're enjoying or watching a TV program that lets you briefly escape. Better yet, read your kids a story or have a late candlelight dinner at home with your partner (after the kids are in bed).

** I will invest time (and money) into perfecting my resume. Your resume must be PERFECT to stand out above your competition. Does yours do that? Does your resume brand you according the position you seek? A professionally written resume can get your foot in the door. Can't afford it? Just look at what percentage of your first year's income it will be to hire a professional resume writer. How can you NOT afford it?

** I will get support to stay motivated in my job search. You need a job search partner with no vested009 interest in the outcome of your job search. Yes, a Career Coach can help, not only with keeping you motivated, but also providing job search resources, tips, and strategies. Slash your job search time when you invest in a Career Coach.

** I will get over my Internet phobias. Hard to believe that in the 21st century there are still job seekers with no home email accounts, let alone LinkedIn, Twitter, or blogging savvy. But there are! If employed, PLEASE don't use your work email for job search purposes. This is so wrong on so many levels. Get up to speed on critical Internet applications (job search and others) – employers will assess your value to them accordingly. 

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Unemployment: An Emotional Roller Coaster

Fear and despair – doom and gloom. Yes, it's a depressing work world right now. If you have a job, you cling to it for dear life and do everything your employer asks no matter how much mandatory overtime or how many extra responsibilities assigned. If you don't have a job, you frantically search job boards, blast out resumes, and squeeze every penny until it shrieks.

For those in a job search, there are good days and bad, highs and lows. Besides working through the stages of grief over your job loss, you probably face overwhelming feelings of isolation. Gone are the co-workers you bantered with during the day and relaxed with after work. In their place, is a computer screen that you keep asking, "Where are the jobs?" And it doesn't talk back.

Everyone advises you to network, network, network to find your next job. And you ask, "Where?" If like most, you didn't cultivate a robust network of contacts while you were working – who has time for all that? And now you wish you had. Oh, please, just tell me where to begin…

Family and friends try to be understanding. They offer support, but you worry they're becoming impatient with your continual lamenting, "I can't find any job leads." They send leads for dog walker and lawn maintenance your way, all in the spirit of trying to help. Some friends get bored with your situation, and move on to others who still know how to laugh and have fun. Immediate family members begin to wonder how their lives are going to be affected – can I keep playing soccer? Can I keep getting my nails done every week? Can we keep HBO and cable TV? What about our vacation?

Then, when you get a real job interview, your hopes skyrocket. You tell yourself not to have high expectations in case you don't get the job offer, but you just can't help yourself. Will this be the one?!

So what can you do to manage your emotional roller coaster? Building00001p_small

First: Turn off the television. Don't let yourself buy into the media madness. Sure, the unemployment rate is high, but over 90% of the country is still employed. In fact, if you have a four-year degree, only 4.7% of your peers are unemployed.

Second: Find a job search buddy to share your job search process. This will assuage your isolation as well as provide you the moral support of someone who's going through the same challenges as you. Job clubs (usually free) have popped up across the country to offer support plus job search tips – find one and join!

Third: Invest in a Career Coach.If you want to speed up your reemployment, this is your best bet. I know money is tight, but if you get sick, you go to a doctor, right? When you hire a career coach, you get the best career advice, resources, and support at your finger tips. Your Career Coach becomes your partner as you navigate through the murky waters of the job search process. Instead of taking months, you may take only weeks to achieve your goal. Don't short change your career by trying to do the hard work all alone.

Whatever you do to manage your emotional roller coaster, it's important that you do it now, before despair takes over your life. The longer you wait to face your unemployment fears, the deeper you'll fall into the black hole. You owe it to your family and yourself to take charge of your situation – get this mess figured out – NOW!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Ace the Job Interview with “Why?” – Not “How?”

Interoggatory_questionmark_preview While catching up my on reading this past weekend, I found a good article in the June issue of Inc. magazine, Never Read Another Resume. Written from the hiring authority's perspective, the author (Jason Fried, a small business co-owner) offered some sage advice that job seekers need to heed. What really caught my eye dealt with job interview questions, specifically those from the candidate.

Mr. Fried said that "red flags" go up when candidates ask "how" questions, such as, "How do I do that?" or "How can I find out this or that?" He said, "A 'how' asker is not used to figuring things out for himself/herself. 'How' is a sign that this person is going to be a drain on others. Avoid (hiring) 'hows.'" Wow! What honesty!

Instead, Mr. Fried wants to hear "why" questions. "'Why' is good – it's a sign of deep interest in a subject. It signals a healthy dose of curiosity." As a career coach, I might add that "why" also shows that a candidate is thinking in terms of problem solving, an ability every company is looking for in their hiring mix these days.

Actually, all this makes a lot sense. If a candidate does due diligence in his/her pre-interview research, there shouldn't be too many "how" questions left unanswered by the time of the interview. On the other hand, by assembling a list of "why" questions the candidate can demonstrate that he/she is already thinking like a team member before he shows up for the interview.

So, as a job seeker, your challenge becomes: do you want to appear to be on the "outside" (a "how" asker) or already in the "inside" (a "why" asker) of the company where you next interview? The choice is yours – prepare wisely for your next job interview.

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Summertime – and the Job Search Ain’t Easy

Even during "normal times" summer job searches can bump into barriers from company vacation schedules and slower hiring processes. However, our economy is not in a "normal" time these days. This is all the more reason to "turn up the heat" in your job search.

How can you add sizzle to your job search? Take advantage of the warm season to ramp up your networking efforts at all outdoor social events. (I worked with one coaching client who got a job lead from another soccer mom at their kids' game.) Make sure everyone you know has been informed of your job search. Being out of work is not a shameful matter anymore. Ask for help and ask for introductions. Statistics have proved over and over again that more jobs are gotten through networking than by using the Internet job boards.

That being said, revisit old job postings and your old applications. Was a job filled more than six months ago? Then now is the best time to reconnect to inquire as to how the new hire is working out. You might get lucky and catch a company needing to re-post a position but hasn't yet done so. Push gently for another interview and be ready to plead your case for why you're still the best candidate.

Silly as this may sound – I shouldn't even have to say it – don't put your job search on hold until September. Some job seekers do and later regret it. Jobs ARE being filled now. You just have to find them. Redouble your efforts and use all available avenues. Get creative in your outreach. Leave no possibility untapped.

A03 And most importantly, you don't have to do your job search alone. Get help from a professional career coach and you'll see that your job search is doable and your goals are attainable!

My sister, who'd been laid off since March 2009, defied the odds and  accepted a perfect job offer to start June 21. She had applied for a position posted on a major job board, went through three interviews, and proved herself to be the ideal candidate in her field. She got her asking salary (she was reasonable in her request) plus a great benefits package and the promise of a very good job with a stable, growing company.

My son, who'd been furloughed from his conductor position with a railroad in January 2009, was called back to work full time a month ago. He even got based in his preferred location – here! No more moving, at least for now.

If you're in job search mode, it may appear that there's "nothing out there." But there are definite signs that the economy is recovering. Companies are beginning to hire in many fields. Persevere and stay motivated – your next job is just around the corner!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who will each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Follow our hash-tag on Twitter - #careercollective  as well as follow everyone's individual tweets on this month's topic: "Heating Up Your Job Search."

Career-Collective-original-small

Turn Off The Computer, Tune Into What’s Happening, & Heat Up the Job Search, @chandlee

Heating up the Job Search-How to Stay Motivated During the Summer, @erinkennedycprw

Light the Fire Under Your Feet, @careersherpa

Cool Job Seekers Heat Up Their Search in the Summer, @barbarasafani

Some assembly required, @DawnBugni

Summertime, Sluggish Economy Provide Strong Motivation for an Updated Resume, @KatCareerGal

9 Ways to Heat Up Your Job Search This Summer, @heatherhuhman

Getting Out From Under Chronic, @WorkWithIllness

Upping Your Job Search Flame; Be 'Needed, Not Needy,' @ValueIntoWords

Is Your Career Trapped in the Matrix? @WalterAkana

Put some sizzle in your job hunt – how to find a job now, @keppie_careers

Summertime – and the Job Search Ain't Easy, @KCCareerCoach

Heating up your job search. 5 ways to dismiss those winter blues, @GayleHoward

Hot Tips for a Summer Job Search, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

Heat Up Your Job Search: Avoid Job Boards, @JobHuntOrg

Heating Up Your Job Searching Skills: Networking 101 and 102, @GLHoffman

Treasure Hunt—Yo-ho-ho! Heat Up Your Job Search, @resumeservic

#Jobsearch Tips from Curious Places

Does art does imitate life? Perhaps. Entertainment venues can imitate life, too. A year ago I compared the movie, "Julie and Julia," to contemporary job search. If you haven't read that blog post, I suggest you do so to grab some tips on putting blogging into your job search mix.

A colleague of mine, Robyn Greenspan of ExecuNet, recently wrote a column comparing the "Lost" TVLogo_Web08 series finale to a job interview. With her permission, I'm reprinting her article here. I hope it gets your mind thinking as it adds a little humor to your Friday.

So, in the end, "LOST" turned out to be a helluva long job interview. For those who didn't spend the last six years alternately fascinated and frustrated by the series, I'll translate it into corporate language:

Like many good leaders, Jacob, knowing his tenure was coming to a close, had a succession plan. Well in advance of retirement, he started filling his talent pipeline and selected his top potential replacements. Due to the "unavailability" of some of his recruits at the last stages of the interview, very few candidates made it to the final slate.

The position came with tremendous responsibility and Jacob elected the candidates undergo an arduous series of situational interviews to assess their skills and qualifications. Plane crashes, death, destruction, explosions, polar bears, time travel, electromagnetism, good Locke/bad Locke, and a smoke monster — all to determine who was most qualified for the role of island caretaker.

An interview is an opportunity for candidates to evaluate if the role is a good fit for them too, and of those remaining — Jack, Hurley and Sawyer — two seem less certain they want the position. So Jack selects himself as Jacob's replacement, and when he inquires about the length of his employment contract, Jacob tells Jack he must do the job as long as he can.

Instead of a handshake, Jack drinks from Jacob's cup, and immediately begins onboarding into his new role by accompanying the evil John Locke on a business trip into a cave. But Jack is among the 12 percent that ExecuNet-surveyed recruiters report don't complete their first year in a new job and during a hostile takeover, he learns this role was only for a turnaround specialist on an interim assignment.

Before his exit interview, Jack expediently manages the institutional knowledge transfer to Hurley, who, with his servant leadership qualities, turns out is better suited for the longer term role.

The end.

Robyn Greenspan

Robyn Greenspan
Editor-in-Chief
ExecuNet
Robyn.Greenspan@execunet.com
twitter.com/RobynGreenspan
295 Westport Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06851
800.637.3126

Thanks, Robyn, for sharing your wit and wisdom.

Wishing you all career success in 2010!

Meg

#Jobseekers: A Job Search Tip

You've had your resume professionally written. You've posted it on job boards and sent it to target companies. And now the phone is ringing! You schedule an interview. You prepare for the interview, including polishing your shoes and role-playing tough job interview questions. The big day is tomorrow and you are ready!

Wait a minute – haven't you forgotten something?

Hopefully, you have contacted several people who will act as professional references for you. But did you send them your resume? Yes, resume. Even if you worked side-by-side with your references and they have first hand knowledge of your work performance, it's critical that you send them all your resume. Why?

When potential employers contact your references, they will have your resume in front of them. Don't your references deserve the same? Believe me, it will be much easier for your references to sing your praises if they have had the opportunity to brief themselves on what you've shared with hiring authorities.

And one more thing, please let your references know when you've interviewed and given their contact information to a potential employer. A prepared reference will act so much better on your behalf than a reference who receives a surprise phone call.

Now go get that job offer!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Some Basic Job Search Tips for You

Here are a few tips to help you during your job search:

Numbers Game

Throughout your job search ponder this – You must collect your share of “No’s” before you get your “Yes”. And it only takes one “Yes” to get a job!

Mind Your Manners

Your mother was right. Please and thank you do count. It’s amazing what a well-timed thank you card or letter to a potential employer can do for your job search. It may not guarantee a job, but it will bring your resume and application to the top of the stack! As one employer said, “I may not hire the person with the thank you card, but I will definitely keep his resume for future reference. I will also keep him in mind if I hear of any opportunities with other companies.” (Note: Sometimes an e-mailed thank you is appropriate – know your potential employer to know if this is the case.)

Read My Lips

Interviewing for a job is not just a question and answer session with a potential employer. Body language plays an important a role in the job interview process, too. Shake hands with the interviewer, sit up straight, look the interviewer in the eye and SMILE! Smiling relaxes your muscles to make you appear at ease and receptive to what the interviewer is saying. Remember to dress the part. Experts say that an interviewer makes up his mind about you within 15 seconds after you enter the room. That’s before you’ve said a word! Make your job search preparation count by developing your style and poise.

Tell Me About Yourself

The dreaded interview question! What do you say? Keep in mind the purpose of this question. Usually, it is asked after you sit down facing the interviewer. You may see it as an “ice breaker,” but beware. The employer is looking for a couple of things. First, does your answer show how you qualify for the position? Second, how comfortable are you in thinking “on your feet?” Stay away from the long-winded history of your life. Stick to the facts of your job performance and accomplishments. Use this question to sell yourself! (Note: Watch for my next post which will cover this question in depth.)

Prepare for your job interview and you will get closer to getting the job!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

You Can Beat the Job Search Blues: 5 + 3 Tips to Get Re-energized

Let's face it: job search is a tedious task, even during the best of times. When you're used to being motivated by others in a team work environment, it's so very difficult to motivate yourself while conducting a job search on your own. Particularly if you're a layoff survivor, you know that the longer you're out of the work, the harder it gets.

So, what can you do to keep up your spirits – to stay on track with your job search? To keep moving toward finding your next job?

Noah Blumenthal, best-selling author of "Be the Hero: Three Powerful Ways to Overcome Challenges in Work and Life," offers his five tips in a CareerBuilder article posted on CNN: 1) Go online; 2) Separate yourself; 3) Have fun; 4) Set a big goal; 5) Go to work. Jump over to the article to read all the details.

While I agree with everything Blumenthal says, as a career coach, I have three more tips (or variations on his themes) to offer you to overcome job search discouragement:

First, get in touch with your personal spirituality and get strength from an inner anchor. For believers, this is probably your God. For others, this may be your connection with nature and all its wonders. (Yes, a pet counts as nature! Pets offer a great source for unconditional love.)

Second, plan your escape time. Now, I don't mean sleeping around the clock. But everyone needs to take purposeful breaks in job search to jump start your creativity. Examples could include a short weekend trip to clear your head and make room for new ideas; take in a free concert; or invite friends over for a potluck dinner.

Third, join free job clubs for face-to-face social interaction with others who understand what you're going through. Empathy is good, as long as it doesn't turn into a pity party. Remember, you're seeking positive energy for rejuvenation. (Read about how "life rewards action" from Rules for Unemployment.)

Bonus tip: I'd be remiss if I didn't encourage you to hire a career coach. The special relationship you form with your coach can do much to help you stay energized and focused.

Whatever you do, some action is better than no acton. If you can stay connected to the "who" that you are, you will project a more powerful presence to all you encounter in your job search.

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of career experts who will each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Follow our hashtag, #careercollective, on Twitter, as well as follow everyone's individual tweets:

Career-Collective-original-small@MartinBuckland, Job Search Made Positive

@GayleHoward, Job Search: When It All Turns Sour

@chandlee, Strategy for Getting “Unstuck” and Feeling Better: Watch Lemonade

@heathermundell, Help for the Job Search Blues

@heatherhuhman, 10 Ways to Turn Your Job Search Frown Upside-Down

@WalterAkana, Light at the End of the Tunnel

@resumeservice, Don’t Sweat The Job Search

@careersherpa, Mind Over Matter: Moving Your Stalled Search Forward

@WorkWithIllness, Finding Opportunity in Quicksand

@KatCareerGal, Job-Hunting in a Weak Job Market: 5 Strategies for Staying Upbeat (and Improving Your Chances of Success)

@ErinKennedyCPRW, Dancing in the Rain–Kicking the Job Search Blues

@keppie_careers, What to do when you are discouraged with your job search

@DawnBugni, It's the Little Things

@ValueIntoWords, Restoring Your Joy in Job Search

@jobhuntorg, Just SO VERY Discouraged

@barbarasafani, Making Job Search Fun (Yeah, That’s Right!)

@GLHoffman, How to Overcome the Job Search Negativity

@LaurieBerenson, Ways to Keep Your Glass Half Full

@ExpatCoachMegan, Dealing With Job Search Stress: Getting to the Source of the Problem

New Must-Read Resource for #Jobseekers: The Twitter Job Search Guide

#Jobseekers are always asking me, "How do I use Twitter for my job search?" Some have a difficult time believing that a staggering number of jobs are posted on Twitter every month. In fact, some career experts claim that Twitter is the fastest-growing opportunity for employment, even ranked as high as #1. TweetMyJobs.com has over a million jobs tweeted each month (enough to make a Monster tremble?).

[Newsflash: 48,099 jobs were tweeted on TweetMyJobs.com just in the last 24 hours.]

OK, so are you a believer yet? I can hear the moans now, "I don't have time to do Twitter." Or maybe you think LinkedIn or Facebook is enough in the way of social media tools for you. But wait! Aren't you still job searching? Maybe one more tool could really help? Consider this: Twitter is the "barrier buster." It's the only social media tool that doesn't require permission to network. There are no gatekeepers! On Twitter, you can as easily read the Twitter stream of a CEO as that of a college student. And connecting with anyone you want to follow is easier, too!

Twitter is really one of the fastest ways to find others who share common interests – to exchange job search practices, professional ideas, and resources for your job search.

41P4dyv16IL__SL500_AA240_ With a vision ahead of the curve, career management authors Susan Britton Whitcomb @SusanWhitcomb, Chandlee Bryan @chandlee, and Deb Dib @CEOCoach have collaborated to publish The Twitter Job Search Guide – to be released in March (reserve your copy now!). Their book is a practical tutorial in Twitter tools and best practices including pioneering Twitter-inspired techniques with step-to-step guides to:

>>> Creating your "160me" – your 160-character Twitter bio

>>> Writing cover letters in 10 tweets

>>> Developing your "Brand to Land Plan"

>>> Engaging with networking contacts, recruiters, employers, and more

>>> Tweeting in "Day Tight Compartments" for as little as 15 minutes a day

This book includes more than 100 contributors: 13 successful job seekers, plus an all-star cast of respected authors, recruiters, and career management experts (including me – @KCCareerCoach).

If you're not using Twitter, you're missing out on a cutting-edge job search method. Take a chance – dip your big toe into the pool – you won't drown, I promise. Nothing to fear here!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Anyone Can Write a Resume (Sorry – Time to Rant)

A past client called me this week. She had hired me to write her resume 10 years ago and now wanted an update. We discussed her work history for the past 10 years, what her current goals were, and how resume writing strategies had changed over the past decade. Then I gave her a quote on the resume face-lift she needed. She was speechless! She just couldn't understand how my prices could have gone up in 10 years.

Considering that I had started writing resumes professionally 11 years ago, I'm surprised she couldn't grasp that my knowledge and expertise had grown to warrant the price increase – not to mention that prices for everything else have increased in 10 years. The resumes I write today are better and more powerful for my clients than the ones I wrote as a "newbie." But when a person has something fixed in their mind, they usually aren't open to other possibilities. How human nature resists change!

Anyway, my past client said she'd work on her resume herself, just adding verbiage to the one I had created for her in 2000. That's fine, but my amazement grew when she said, "After all, anyone can write a resume." Goodness, I'm totally baffled when people don't appreciate the study, practice and dedication that go into becoming a professional resume writer. No, not just anyone can do it, no more than "just anyone" can build a profitable business, fly an airplane, speak Chinese or transplant a kidney. Skills are learned. It takes time to become proficient in any occupation, including resume writing.

Job seekers in job search mode for any number of weeks know what I'm talking about. If "just anyone" could do it, there wouldn't be unemployment! Job seekers must prove their skills and abilities to land a job. Savvy job seekers know that a professional resume can open doors for them and get them interviews. And that's the way it should be. Professional resume writing is a profession – those who use the service will usually agree. The service exists to help those wanting a way to stand out among their competition – to move closer to their next job – to give them an edge in the job search game.

Thanks for listening to my rant. I feel a lot better getting this off my chest!

Wishing you career success in 2010,

Meg

The Art of Being Gracious: Much Needed in Today’s Job Search

"Being gracious in life will carry you far," espoused Ted Kooser, a Pulitzer Prize winner who served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 – 2006. When my son graduated from college in 2004, I had the honor of listening to this wise man deliver the keynote address at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Speaking to the graduates, he assured them that his words would be brief and forgave them in advance if they didn't remember much of his speech. Attracted to the speaking manner of this 35-year-career insurance man turned poet, I hurriedly reached for a scrap of paper to scribble a few notes. I felt that I was about to hear a great speech, and I did.

Kooser shared with the graduates a gem of wisdom that all job seekers would be well advised to follow. He said that when these young people left with their diploma in hand, they needed only one other thing to enter the world – a box of blank thank you notes. Yes, they needed thank you notes to acknowledge their graduation gifts, but much more than that, they would need thank you notes throughout life's journey, especially throughout their careers.

While in a job search, expressing your thanks is critical. Besides demonstrating good manners, it can keep your name and face in the forefront. Of course, the most obvious time to send a formal thank you is following a job interview – even a not-so-good interview. But there are other times when a thank you is not only good manners, but also an important career strategy:

  • You receive a referral from a networking contact / colleague / business associate – send a thank you note to show your appreciation, or sending a token thank you gift is even better.
  • You ask a colleague / peer / VIP for assistance or advice – send a thank you with a brief follow-up as to how the advice helped you.
  • You work with a recruiter who refers you to an interview with an employer – send a thank you note that will help keep your name on the recruiter's desk.
  • You get a rejection letter from an employer – send a thank you letter thanking him again for the opportunity to interview, and let him know that you would still like to work for him someday.
  • You land the job – send a thank you to each of your references no matter how many times they were or were not contacted by your prospective employers.
  • You land the job – send a thank you note to each networking contact with whom you connected throughout your job search, even if you've already thanked them in some way.
  • You land the job – send a thank you letter to your new employer reiterating the terms of your new position. This confirmation may serve you well in the future.

One debate around thank you letters centers on email vs. direct mail. I equate direct-mailed letters and cards with being gracious; email with being perfunctory. You decide how much regard you want your message to express. Make it personal and you'll make it memorable.

I'm sure you can think of more times when saying "thank you" is a good idea. I'd love to receive your comments. In conclusion, I just want to say, "Thank you," for reading my blog!

P. S. Within the past four months my son was one of nine candidates hired out of 300 applicants. Having been laid off for 10 months, he really needed this job. I wonder if his thank you note – that he hand carried to HR following his interview - had any influence in his being hired. Hmmm…

Wishing you much career success in 2010!

Meg

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of career experts who will each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and appreciated. And follow our hashtag #careercollective on Twitter:

Career-Collective-original-small@MartinBuckland, Elite Resumes,  Career Trends and Transition 2010

@heathermundell, life@work, Kaizen and the Art of Your Job Search

@barbarasafani, Career Solvers, Looking Into the 2010 Careers Crystal Ball

@resumeservice, Resume Writing Blog, The Resume and Your Social Media Job Search Campaign

@kat_hansen, Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog, New Year: Time to Assess Yourself and Your Career

@keppie_careers, Keppie Careers, Help for job seekers in a rut

@heatherhuhman, HeatherHuhman.com, Job seekers: 5 tips for making the most of 2010

@DawnBugni, The Write Solution, Ya, but

@ErinKennedyCPRW, Professional Resume Services, Advice to Job Seekers in 2010–learn Yoga?

@Chandlee, The Emerging Professional Blog, Starfish, JobAngels, and Making a Difference

@ValueIntoWords, Career Trend, Is Your Job Search Strategy a Snore?

@debrawheatman, Resumes Done Write, Making the most of a new year

@walterakana, Threshold Consulting, Starting anew – tips for truly managing your career

@careersherpa, Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa, The Year of the Tiger

@WorkWithIllness, WorkingWithIllness.com, Dogs Can Do It, Can You?

@JobHuntOrg, Job-Hunt.org, Lifelong Learning for Career Security

@AndyInNaples, Career Success, What Are You Getting Better At? Make This the Year You Become the Best You Can Be!

@GLHoffman, What Would Dad Say, A Flash of the Blindly Obvious

@GayleHoward, The Executive Brand Blog, How are those New Year's Resolutions Panning Out?

Jump-start Your 2010 Job Search with 7 New Year’s Resolutions

It's that time again – the end of one year and the beginning of another. Many make New Year's Resolutions fully intending to keep them, but seldom do. Whether it's to lose weight, save more money, be nicer to in-laws, spend more time with your kids — speaking your intention is only the initial step to success. Creating a plan and then working it will bring you much closer.

This is particularly true when it comes to your job search. If you've been out of work or laid off for any amount of time, overwhelm and apathy may have set in. Yes, it's difficult – very difficult – to keep going. Rejection is the most painful emotion to feel, even when you try so hard not to take it personally. Now, more than ever, you need a job search buddy to keep you motivated and moving forward.

Hopefully, you took some time off during the holidays to focus on YOU and your self-care. You'll need every ounce of this renewable energy as you renew your job search in January.

To help boost your job search as we enter 2010, I've made a list of recommended New Year's Resolutions. Not in any particular order, each offers its own importance to assist you.

  • I will make it easy for recruiters to find me.Recruiters work for their client companies – not you – and few appreciate your seeking them. However, when they need qualified candidates, they want them NOW. So, facilitate their need by maintaining high visibility on the Internet. Many recruiters claim that LinkedIn is the first place they look – how findable are you there? Yes, your resume needs to be posted, but do you also participate in discussion groups related to your field?
  • I will spend no more than two hours per day in front of my computer. Get out of the house! Undoubtedly, you've heard that the majority of new jobs are gotten through networking. But beyond that, you must keep your social skills fresh while building and maintaining professional relationships. It's amazing how one's perspective can improve just by interacting with fellow human beings.
  • I will give before taking. While networking, offer your help to fellow job seekers. Volunteer at food pantries or church. Just the act of giving will make you feel valued again. This will enhance your self-confidence and get you going again in the job market.
  • I will devote at least one hour per day to self-care.Keep your mind smart and your boday toned with exercise. Reward yourself for any job search success, no matter how small, by reading a chapter in that novel you're enjoying or watching a TV program that lets you briefly escape. Better yet, read your kids a story or have a late candlelight dinner at home with your partner (after the kids are in bed).
  • I will invest time (and money) into perfecting my resume. Your resume must be PERFECT to stand out above your competition. Does yours do that? Does your resume brand you according the position you seek? A professionally written resume can get your foot in the door. Can't afford it? Just look at what percentage of your first year's income it will be to hire a professional resume writer. How can you NOT afford it?
  • I will get support to stay motivated in my job search. You need a job search partner with no vested interest in the outcome of your job search. Yes, a career coach can help, not only with keeping you motivated, but also providing job search resources, tips, and strategies. Slash your job search time when you invest in a career coach.
  • I will get over my Internet phobias. Hard to believe that in the 21st century there are still job seekers with no home email accounts, let alone LinkedIn, Twitter, or blogging savvy. But there are! If employed, PLEASE don't use your work email for job search purposes. This is so wrong on so many levels. Get up to speed on critical Internet applications (job search and others) – employers will assess your value to them accordingly.

While writing these resolutions, I see that there are so many more that could be added. What are your comments? What do you consider to be the most important New Year's Resolutions for job seekers?

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Wishing You Job Search Success and a Happy New Year!

Meg

 

 

The Gift Every Laid Off Job Seeker Needs

If you use the Internet for any reason these days (like a job search?), you can’t help but notice all the advice swirling around on how to capitalize on this holiday season for your job search.

Sure, you can find all kinds of networking events to attend – professional and personal; some employers may still be hiring this year and you don’t want to miss out, so submit that resume now; stay up-to-date on your LinkedIn discussions and professional Tweets; research new industries that may get government grants in 2010 and will need to hire, so be ready – and on and on. Getting dizzy? I know I am just watching these info clouds race by – and as a career coach, I’ve been spouting off some these things myself!

But let’s get real. What’s most important right now?

Of course, paying the bills and putting food on the table take priority. Hopefully, you’re still able to do that. Some traditional, seasonal temporary jobs are still available (e.g., UPS) if you hurry. But if you are getting by – however weak you’re safety net is – I suggest taking a break from full time job search this month.

“Whoa! What’s wrong with her?” I can hear you all say. Pleeeez, I’m not advocating total irresponsibility here, just taking a break. If you’ve been laid off for any period of time, you are fully aware of how all the money matters pile up. Either you’re staying on top of it now or you’re not. A one-month job search break is probably not going to make a big difference. So stop worrying, OK?

Instead of busting your chops on your job search during this traditional month of giving, devote the time to self-care – give to yourself!

I recommend spending this month renewing your energy and your spirit. Get reacquainted with who you are as a person. Discover what it is about life that you love. Engage in the activities that will help you like yourself better, build your self-confidence, and strengthen your resolve to attack this job search process again in January – full steam ahead!

Mindful of cost, here’s a brief self-care list to get you started. But don’t just use mine – make your own. Self-care is only meaningful if done on your terms – do stretch a little, please:

  1. Read that book you’ve wanted to open, but just couldn’t find the time. Use your public library instead of a bookstore to find it.
  2. Call a friend and set a date to meet for coffee. Promise yourself you won’t mention your job search (good or bad) at any time while you’re together.
  3. Schedule time with your partner to play – you fill in the “how.” Again, no job search talk allowed. Give all your attention to him/her unconditionally.
  4. Find a new place to walk your dog or jog – even if you have to drive a few miles to get there. The new sights and sounds will open your mind to nature’s gifts to you.
  5. Listen – really listen – to your children as they share their life stories. See them in a new light as real people, not just as your kids. Amazing people, aren’t they?
  6. Start a journal of your thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams. No, this isn’t corny. Once on paper things take on a new perspective. You don’t have to share this with anyone.
  7. Sing songs in the shower or car – who cares if someone hears you? Belt them out!
  8. Seek out opportunities for belly laughs – those uncontrollable, hard-to-breathe, tears-in-the-eyes kind. They are so soul cleansing and make you feel truly alive.
  9. Befriend someone less fortunate than you. Give something small to make them feel appreciated. Yes, believe it or not, there are people worse off than you. (Even a canned item to the food pantry can uplift you in the spirit of giving.)
  10. Attend the worship services of your choice and enjoy being part of a community that shares its spirituality.
  11. Invite a gathering of friends to celebrate the holidays with you – potluck style and no gifts.

I hope my list helps you get going. Just remember, your goal is to enrich yourself by giving non-materially to you as well as to others. If you really can’t let go of your job search for the entire month, try doing so for a couple of weeks. Believe me, the shift in your focus will do wonders for healing your mojo, rebuilding your self-esteem, and getting you motivated for tackling the new year’s challenges, whatever they may be.

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of career experts who will each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. And follow our hashtag #careercollective on Twitter:

Career-Collective (3)

 

 

@MartinBuckland, Elite Resumes, "Season’s Greetings and your Job Search”

@GayleHoward, The Executive Brand, It's Christmas: And a ho-ho-ho-hum?" 

@KCCareerCoach, Career Chaos, “The Gift Every Laid Off Job Seeker Needs"

@resumeservice, Resume Writing Blog,Holiday Resume Sparkle: Outshine the New Year Job-Search Mob

@heathermundell, life@work, “Have a Holly Jolly Job Search”

@sweetcareers,Sweet Careers, “Holiday Job Search Tips for College Students 2009″

@careersherpa, Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa, “Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa Cheers”

@careerealism, CAREEREALISM.com, “Holiday Tip for Job Seekers: 4 Ways to Impress Others with Your Professionalism”

@heatherhuhman, HeatherHuhman.com, “4 Tips for Making the Most of Holiday Job Hunting”

@LaurieBerenson, Sterling Career Concepts, Three Resolutions to Take It Up a Notch”

@KatCareerGal, Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog, “Avoiding the Holiday Blues in Your Job Search”

@WorkWithIllness, WorkingWithillness.com, Avoid this Minefield: No Holiday Here!”

@DawnBugni, “The Write Solution Could that sound really be opportunity? During the Holidays?”

@andyinnaples, “Shift Your Focus to the Highest Impact Job Search Activities During the Holidays to Leverage Your Time”

@erinkennedycprw, Professional Resume Services, How to keep up the Job Hunt during the Holidays”

@keppie_careers, Keppie Careers, “Four tips for effective networking follow-up for the holidays and the rest of the year”

@ValueIntoWords, Career Trend, “Navigating the Mistle Toe of Job Search”

@GLHoffman, What Would Dad Say, “Merry Christmas! Can I Buy You Coffee to Talk About Me?”

@BarbaraSafani, Career Solvers, “Holiday Networking Can Facilitate New Year Opportunities”

@expatcoachmegan, Career By Choice Blog, “Expat Networking: Holidays Are a Great Time to Nurture and Grow Your Network”

@chandlee, The Emerging Professional Blog, “Footprints & Associations: Job Search Tips for the Holidays”

@JobHuntOrg, Job-Hunt.org, "(Holiday) Party Your Way to a New Job"

TOP 5 INTERNET JOB SEARCH TIPS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

Gone are the newspaper classified ads – so we go to the Internet to look for jobs. How you use the Internet will impact your success in landing your next position. While a new medium for many job seekers, the Internet should not scare you. Many reputable businesses operate online. As you conduct your job search, it’s important to remember that you are CEO of Me, Inc. and responsible for your own success. The job search process is a lot like marketing and sales – your resume is your marketing brochure representing your brand and your job interview is your sales presentation. You are your own product. And job search success depends on how well you connect with everyone..  
 Connect

  1. Create an eye-catching, professional LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) profile with industry specific keywords to boost your findings in the search engines. Invite people to join your network. Post your resume on this website.
  2. Join industry/role specific LinkedIn groups as well as general LinkedIn networking groups in your city. Build your visibility inside these groups by participating in discussions and posting your own questions. Showcase your expertise and make yourself a “go-to” person.
  3. Start your own blog where you demonstrate your expertise and share good resources with others in your industry. Develop a blog theme and stick to it. Again, make your blog keyword rich for find-ability purposes.
  4. Learn how to use Twitter (www.twitter.com) professionally. Set up an account and post several times a day. Ensure your tweets show up on your blog and LinkedIn profile. Cross-promotion enhances online visibility. Tweets need to be about 80% career-related and 20% personal to show your human side – beware of your digital dirt!
  5. Apply for jobs on the job boards, but also make a list of jobs that have recently closed for applications. In six weeks, send your resume to these companies along with a cover letter commenting that you appreciate that this position has already closed, you hope the new hire is working out, but if not, here’s your resume to review. Track the responses your get.

BONUS TIP: When looking online for professional career services (resume writing, career coaching, etc.), “shop” no more than three businesses at one time – too many will just confuse you. Request free phone consultations and references – your comfort and others’ satisfaction should figure highly into your decision of choice, more so than the final cost. Cheaper is usually not better. Ask yourself, “Who will help me the most for what I need?”

Now, go make connections! Get that job you want!

HOLDING A GRUDGE AGAINST YOUR PAST EMPLOYER?

If you have a grudge against your former employer, you’re just being human. Of course, you want to blame someone for being laid off – it wasn’t your fault, right? Maybe – maybe not.

While you may not be fully responsible for your job loss, you may own a piece of it. If so, it’s important to accept whatever you could have done differently and change your behavior before you move on to your next position. What part of your layoff could you possibly own? Most layoffs are decided after management rate employees for certain factors: productivity, interpersonal relations with boss and co-workers, job knowledge and skills, job apathy vs. creativity – and a few other things probably beyond your control. Any of these resonate with you?

Whenever a person does the same job for a few years, it’s easy to start approaching it in a routine way. Apathy can replace creativity and productivity can suffer. The boss who hired you may leave and his replacement is someone whom you find difficult to get along with. If you don’t keep training and learning, your job can outgrow you – not something you want to happen, but what have you done to prevent it?

Before you launch your next job search, do an honest self-assessment. Choose which behavior(s) you want to change – and then do it! If you don’t change now, you will probably repeat your negative ways and possibly set yourself up to be laid off again. Yes, I said laid off again – if you blatantly mess up, you could even be fired instead.

When it comes to that grudge you hold against your past employer for laying you off, is your desire for revenge really valid? And even if you still feel it is, you need give it up and stop living in the past. Put all your energy into fine-tuning and improving your work attitude and skills so you are more than ready when opportunity puts itself in your way. The past doesn’t matter anymore. Focus on the present with an eye to the future to move forward self-confidently with a positive attitude.

FIND YOUR “JOY BUDDY” FOR JOB SEARCH MOTIVATION

Do you struggle with finding your creativity when exploring new career possibilities? Some of my career coaching clients do. They let the overwhelm of money worries, coupled with the facts and fears brought on by high unemployment rates, get in their way of productive introspection and career clarification.

As a dog lover living with three rescued canines (I only get rescued dogs – but that's for another post), I regularly watch Cesar Milan's "Dog Whisperer" TV show. One of his frequent lessons is to explain that dogs live in the present, not the past or the future. We can all benefit from living in the present. Instead of dwelling on the past (why was I laid off?) or fearing the future (I'll be living on the street with a tin cup in a year), job seekers can help themselves more by focusing on the present.

"Present" questions to ask yourself:

  • What are my core values and why are they important to my career?
  • What makes me want to get up in the morning and go to work?
  • What job skills am I good at AND love to use?

If you let your emotions, or fears of the past or future, cripple your creativity, you will freeze your ability to act. And you have to act to change your job situation for the better!

I found an inspirational article that I recommend to anyone trapped by their worries: "How to squash worry and grab more happiness out of life in tough times". Please read it and discover things you can do today to get your job search back on track once you make room for creativity to flourish again. And while you're at it, find a "joy buddy" – dogs make great "joy buddies," by the way.

FINDING YOUR “MOJO” AFTER A LAYOFF

JobActionDay2009Logo (2)

NOTE: Job Action Day was initiated by Quintessential Careers. Look for other career-related blogs that display the above logo. Hope you enjoy my contribution.

Wonder where your MOJO went?

It seems like every day I pick up my phone to hear a job seeker cry, “Help! I feel so lost. The layoff crushed my self-esteem and I can’t find the energy to start looking for a new job. What can I do?” My first response is “Breathe!” Then, “Please tell me your story.”

Usually the layoff was not your fault. However, knowing that fact may not provide comfort if your identity is tied up in your career. Please try to remember that the layoff wasn’t personal – chances are you were doing a good job. The company just needed to cut back. To conduct an empowered job search, begin by accumulating baby-step wins to enhance your self-esteem. Don’t try to recover your “mojo” in one giant leap.

With unemployment hovering around 10%, we tend to forget that 90% of the country is still employed. Furthermore, the “10%” includes all occupations in all industries. Experienced workers with college degrees enjoy a lower unemployment rate. Many of us are looking at the glass as 10% empty instead of 90-95% full!

Panic and self-doubt can dominate a job search when fed by the media. So tune out and turn off the news! Beware of all the advice you get from well-meaning friends and family. Don’t let yourself be influenced by matters beyond your control. Yes, I said, “control.” There are still ways to control your job search and career.

Begin by taking inventory of your skills, talents, knowledge, interests, experience – and toss in a healthy dose of values, those things that are must-haves in your life. Do online and off line research to find the fields that ARE hiring. Determine how your “best stuff” can be a match for open job opportunities. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s a lot of work – which is why you need to make looking for a job a full time job in itself. Scheduling job search tasks in a daily planner can help you stay on track – make appointments with yourself and keep them.

Surprisingly, the most difficult task is the research. (You thought I was going to say networking, didn’t you? Gotcha!) Research is where many job seekers get stuck. They try to stay with what they are familiar with instead of branching out. For example, if you’ve been part of the corporate scene all of your life, have you even considered exploring federal government work? Take a spin around www.usajobs.gov and see if anything there catches your eye. At last glance, this site had over 32,000 government jobs posted on it. Don’t let the government application process discourage you. It’s somewhat different from the process you’re familiar with, but it is doable.

As part of your research, try to find someone to talk to who is actually doing (or has done) what interests you. It helps to get the scoop first hand. LinkedIn, where you should already have a robust profile, is a good place to make these connections. (Did you know that this web site is where recruiters go first when looking for candidates?) LinkedIn is also best web site for online networking. (Yes, networking IS a critical part of the job search success equation.)

Finding “anything, just anything” isn’t the best solution to getting reemployed. While you may need to take on a temporary position for a little while, hold out for the permanent job that will challenge your mind and feed your soul. Yes, it’s a jungle out there, but it’s still possible to land on your feet when you trust your instincts and know you deserve the best.

Now, go get your MOJO back!

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of career experts who will each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. And follow our hashtag #careercollective on Twitter:

Debra Wheatman: Plan B from outer space; or what do you have in case your first plan doesn't work out

Heather Mundell: Green Jobs – What They Are and How to Find Them

Erin Kennedy: Cutting Edge Job Search Blueprint

Gayle Howard: The Enlightened Jobseeker

Grace Kutney, Securing Your Career While Navigating the Winds of Change

Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa Why Our Job Search Advice is the Same but Different

Heather R. Huhman: Take Action: 10 Steps for Landing an Entry-Level Job

Laurie Berenson: Making lemonade out of lemons: Turn unemployment into entrepreneurship

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter: You Can Thrive In, Not Just Survive, an Economic Slogging

Rosalind Joffe: Preparedness: It's Not Just for Boyscouts

Rosa E. Vargas: Are You Evolving Into The In-Demand Professional of Tomorrow?

Dawn Bugni: Your network IS your net worth

Miriam Salpeter: Optimize your job hunt for today's economy

Barbara Safani: Where the Jobs Are: 2009 and Beyond

GL Hoffman: The Life of An Entrepreneur: Is It for You?

Katharine Hansen: Job Action Day 09: His Resume Savvy Helped New Career Rise from Layoff Ashes