Why PLAN?

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If you are not absolutely clear about what you want as that NEXT STEP in your career, envision an ideal position that will value you for the main characteristics and experiences you want to be hired for.


This Week’s Session: Thursday, October 3rd… Developing Your Personal Marketing Plan


Since you need to be concise and clear when developing your Personal Marketing collateral materials (resume, BIO, verbal communication, and your LinkedIn profile),  it’s important to figure out what you best offer in your next position, so you know exactly what skills and experiences to highlight.  Make FIT happen!

SELF-Assessment: Find Your Fit, Focusing on CAREER Objectives

With your knowledge of your target industry, it’s time to figure out how you fit in (or want to). Identify, describe, and refine your key selling points with your end goal in mind. Then, craft them into 4-6 bullets, shooting for statements that are vivid and that clearly illustrate what you bring to the table over anyone else.

Ask Yourself

  • What is the intersection of your ‘value proposition’ and what your target industry, or specific Company, needs?
  • What are your most impactful areas of experience, knowledge, or skill?
  • What critical problems are you well suited to solve?

RESEARCH: Analyze Your Target Industry

Once you know what you want to do, your next step is identifying where you want to be—think industry, city, and companies. Then, research your industry and key trends affecting it now: Read relevant industry news articles, research companies, and analyze job descriptions you’re interested in.

Pay Attention to the Nitty Gritty

As you begin to think about the type of career transition you want to make, what IS the next appropriate employment for you… start out by documenting what you already know to be true about your professional self.

  1. Give specific attention to what you spend the most time doing, those functional details of your work that have the greatest impact on your employer’s success, and, especially, what are you uniquely providing that gives value to your role?
  2. Take notes about when you’re feeling particularly unmotivated or unenthused about your job. Write down the tasks that bring you down as well as those that get you excited.
  3. It may seem like a tedious exercise, but if you stick with it, patterns will start to emerge. And it’s in teasing out these patterns that’ll help you build a picture of the role that’s right for you.

Schedule  Informational “Interviews” With Key Contacts

In addition to being introspective, it’s also important to get out there and start becoming your own best CAREER Coach, learning about satisfying next steps, the career moves you’re interested in.   And what better resource than the very people already in, or connected with, those you seek?

As an active job seeker, especially in the first few months of a job search, networking your way to one informational interview per week is essential to your campaign’s success.  This may sound like a lot, but initially quantity is more important than quality as you want to get a sense of a wide variety of roles in different industries based on the results of your introspection.

The more people you speak with, the more you’ll be exposed to fields you might wish to pursue. With that said, you don’t want the person on the receiving end to feel that way—so always make sure to come prepared and send a thank you.

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Unlocking The SCREEN Door

Your Career CompassOne job search technique for both traditional job search AND embracing The OTHER Job Market, is using the services of a third party recruiter.  The term “third party recruiter” goes by many names including contingency agencies, executive search firms, retained search firms, employment agencies, headhunters, recruiters, and temp agencies.  These all fall under the umbrella of the “staffing industry.”

Contingency Agencies are paid by the company after the agency’s candidate is hired…their sourcing process is a paperwork mill.

Retained Search Firms custom locates candidates for a company and are paid upfront or on a progress basis (retained basis). Their sourcing process is often more focused and conducted on a more personal level.

Employment Agencies are contracted by companies to find candidates for temporary or permanent positions.  Often their sourcing and screening activity is conducted in parallel to Corporate recruiting efforts.

Temporary (Temp) Agencies find candidates to fill temporary jobs and “temp to perm” positions.  This includes the Lease2Perm TECHNICAL firms.

The number of temporary employees is growing and this trend is expected to continue.


This Week’s Session:  Thursday, September 26th…A Recruiter’s Eye View of Your Resumewith guest presenter Locke Alderson providing a different look at the issues of resume development.


chalk1Temping can help you learn new skills and experience, build your network, open up options you had not previously considered and bridge employment gaps.  The goal is to get inside a company.  Here is my TOP TEN list of things you should take into consideration when working with staffing agencies.

  1. Working with a staffing agency does not guarantee placement in a job.  It’s one of many techniques to use in your job search.
  2. Staffing agencies do the initial screening, saving the employer time and money… they are an extension of the employer’s recruiting and screening process.
  3. Don’t abdicate the tasks of the job search to a recruiter who is busy working with lots of job seekers.
  4. Reducing or stopping your networking efforts once you start using a staffing agency is a huge mistake. Recruiters have contacts in the business community which only extends your networking outreach.
  5. Companies are using staffing agencies to “test drive” the performance of a temp before offering a permanent position.  Having a temp gives the business a chance to evaluate how the person will fit in with the corporate culture and other employees. Ask what areas/fields the staffing agency specializes in.
  6. Network with your LinkedIn connections to learn more about the right staffing firms to use; use more than one agency. “Reach out” to at least two firms each week within your Personal Marketing Plan.
  7. Check the phone book or Internet for a list of staffing agencies; also use the Internet to find additional information…CAUTION: There is no directory of the ‘good ones.’ THAT is a matter of your personal relationship with them.
  8. Build a relationship with a staffing representative; they will more likely want to fill a position when they know who you are.  If possible, pick up your paycheck at the staffing agency.  It’s an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with the staff.
  9. Understand that a staffing agency’s primary goal is to fill a position.  Don’t confuse their role with the role of a career counselor.  A staffing agency is serving their clients, but offering you an assignment.  Be sure you represent them professionally.
  10. Temping can give you experience in careers you might not have otherwise thought of trying – without a long-term commitment.

Having the flexibility from temping can work well for your job search and personal priorities.  Temping is not a step down.  It’s money, connections, a resume gap stopper and an opportunity to get your foot in the door.

IF You KNEW Your Next “Job”…

JigSaw-partnershipIf a job seeker KNEW their next employer, the responsibilities they’d have–the title, and were assured of that terrific “cultural FIT…”  Then, all they’d have to do to create productivity and efficiency in their search efforts is to “reverse engineer” the desired result into successful approaches.

Easier said than done… but underlying that fantasy we see the infrastructure for turning opportunities into interviews to secure their next right employment opportunity.


This Week’s Session, Thursday, August 15th… Turning Opportunities Into Interviews


chalk1This topic represents what most people call ‘active job search, but, as you can learn, the HOW –TO is what creates your success in networking. It professes strategies and tactics that will generate more effective networking.  In your ‘first wave’ of networking you had the opportunity to:

  1. Reconnect with people you already know or have cause to know…
  2. In a non-threatening environment, confirm your positioning and get valuable input to your assessment and objective setting…
  3. Broaden your networking base, and gaining confidence in the process–a neat by-product that will serve you well for the rest of your career…
  4. Identify attractive opportunities, and targeted organization!

You’ll be the first to know when you’re ready for ‘wave 3’ of networking… which, simply put, is networking your way in to attractive opportunities.  You will focus your activity and time management to the business of creating INTERACTIVE COMMUNICATION with employees, customers, and vendors–the “stakeholders”– within and surrounding any targeted organization.

 RESEARCHING: TARGET Organizations

Step six in our 12-step Process, first level research, will help you to identify attractive trends and targeted companies.  But, in THIS context, I suggest digging a bit deeper in order to help secure an interview… Learn as much as possible about the company, the potential opportunity, and the hiring authority–This is usually your next boss, but could be even higher in the chain of command.

Your research goals ought to include developing information about the company’s products, people, organizational structure, successes (and failures), profits (and losses), capital spending, strategic plans, philosophy and labor climate. Showing your knowledge of some of this information can give you added credibility over other candidates networking to, and actually interviewing for the job.

  • Research the company web site, looking for information relative to your function and level… a company’s financial and annual reports can provide clues to their stability and market share. Don’t forget directories, trade journals, the “business press,” and databases of articles and other news.
  • As part of your ‘second wave of networking,’ ask a friendly recruiter, business acquaintance or stockbroker what they know about the company… and by extension, call people with whom you have networked and ask what they know about the company
  • Check with the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.
  • Call the company directly; request a sales brochure, annual report or other company information. Companies have to market themselves, too, you know!

 Telephone and Networking Skills

On a scale of passive to assertive => to aggressive, let’s take a look at how we could communicate direct to contacts in and surrounding a targeted organization…

 Email…safe, but too easy to be deleted before a relationship is established. Requires follow-up.

LETTER of introduction… also safe, but read more often. Paves the way for a first call to a referral… creates dialog. Requires phone follow-up.

Phone call…direct… often a cold call… requires risk. Establishes contact, interaction and, worst case, VISIBILITY.

There’s only two reasons to be on the phone during active job search…

  1. Reconnecting with valid contacts, seeking their advice and information, sharing your communication strategy, and seeking referral activity…
  2. Securing actual interviews

Cover NOTE and resume… Rather than mindlessly applying to countless jobs, playing the numbers game; develop your networking style to motivate a person to request your resume.  When requested, resumes get read more often, AND…

  • Establishes relationship.
  • Requires follow-through.
  • Leads to face2face office visit!

Taking The ‘PULSE’ Of Your Job Search

AjustDaSailsA lot of individuals with a rebellious streak resist structure, snub the idea of a schedule, and then find that their lives and creative output aren’t nearly as harmonious as they hoped. As job seekers, they may find it quite difficult to get in to a productive and efficient routine, the implementation of their Personal Marketing Plan.

If you fall at this end of the spectrum and find it hard to accept — and even harder to follow — a standard routine, maybe it’s time to stop thinking about managing your time and effort as developing a set of strict rules to follow. In fact, implementing your PMP wisely is to commit to averaging your activity counts and time management ‘numbers’ over a longer stretch of time.


NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, August 8th… Implementing Your PMP,  Exploring THE Careerpilot’s ‘wave theory.’


bob-maher-4587-editStart thinking about increasing productivity as a process of finding and cultivating your unique creative rhythm — your cadence, your implementation beat… your job search “PULSE.” Create a personal discipline for yourself, a way of being, where there’s a realistic goal (your next right employment opportunity) and recognize the need to maintain a consistency of fruitful activity to propel our 12-step process of career transition forward… all while allowing room for improvisation and job search/ LIFE balance!

If this sort of approach sounds appealing to you, here are some ideas based on my own anecdotal experiences with thousands of unemployed people over my 39 years of experience in consulting with job seekers around the U.S.of A.

Monthly Cadence

Job Seekers can typically get more done in a month when they plan for less. Most people have a natural rhythm where they can accomplish about one major professional project or one personal milestone in a month. As an example, think about developing your resume and related personal marketing materials.

1. Resume
2. “Tell me about yourself” or your ‘elevator pitch’ or even your qualification statement
3. Your digital footprint: Branding yourself in your LinkedIn Profile

If you tell yourself that you’ll do three items of this stature in a month, you’ll probably make little progress on any of them. If you commit to one specifically for the month, there’s a high probability that you’ll accomplish it or get close to finishing within the four weeks. Honor that monthly project cadence, and you’ll feel much more satisfied.

What’s more, it’s also essential that you honor your personal and emotional energy cadence over the course of the month. Of course, there are exceptions, but as a general rule, one or two distractions a month are the max that most individuals can take without getting thrown significantly off rhythm.

Also, consider pacing yourself in regard to events you host or visitors that you have in your home. All of these events add a nice sense of variety to life, but can make you lose the beat if the exceptions become the norm.

Weekly Cadence

I would never attempt to define a “normal” week of job search…there are simply too many variables! But, I do encourage those Candidates that I serve to commit to AVERAGING the numbers they select in the Personal Marketing Plan.  You can think about this in the same way you would a design template. It’s a format that you can then build and modify as necessary for any given project — in this case, your job search week.

1. Include ramp-up time on Monday morning, so that the first few hours of the week are blocked out for weekly planning and processing after the weekend.
2. Schedule focused practice or research time on Wednesday afternoons.
3. Get out of the house on Tuesdays and Thursdays… go to a coffee shop and get quality, uninterrupted work done. This turns moving a major initiative forward into something that feels like a nice mid-week mini-break from the normal day-to-day.
4. Wind down on Friday afternoons. I block out about three hours to wrap up anything that took longer than I anticipated or to work on non-urgent administrative tasks that are nice to get done before closing up for the weekend.
5. At least one weekday evening, accomplish personal to-do items and recharge. I’m very involved in my community and lifestyle, but even extroverts need a day off.

NORMAL? … Don’t hold your breath, but you can, of course, adapt, adjust, and amend all of this as necessary. But this rhythm is what I suggest, and I find it leads to a productive week with closure before the weekend… and plenty of time for those “normal” distractions!

Daily Cadence

There is no one right formula for having a productive day of job search activities. The trick is to be honest with yourself about what works best for you to get the most of your 24 hours.  Personally, I spend the first hour to hour and a half planning, answering e-mail, and completing small to-do items, and then I jump into more in-depth work and client calls by 8:30.

With some of my Candidates, the best daily rhythm is to check e-mail very quickly in the morning and then focus on in-depth work until lunch. After lunch they have meetings or respond to emergencies that have come up. No matter which you prefer, you want to have clarity on when you do your best focused work, when you prefer to have meetings, and when you’ll make space for the processing and planning that keeps everything moving in the right direction.

Back-to-Center Cadence

Finally, it’s important to know what pattern can help you to get back on track when there are major variations to your Personal Marketing Plan. Being honest with yourself and giving yourself permission to spend time reorganizing when you need it keeps you from feeling perpetually behind and guilty.

For example, you will experience the least pressure when you block out a few days before and after any significant time away from your job search so that no one can schedule meetings with you on those days. That gives you the flexibility you need for wrapping up work and getting your head back in the game after being away…maintaining your visibility in the job market.

Also, consider blocking out at least a half day after a conference or major networking event to tie up loose ends, follow up, and sort through your notes. This will give you the ability to extract the value from what just happened. The more disruptive the event, the more time you’ll want to allot to resettle in and get back on a rhythm.

Rhythm on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis can create the order, productivity, efficiency, and flexibility you need for the implementation of your Personal Marketing Plan to flow productively and efficiently… It’s time to “take your pulse.”

So, WHY Plan?

Ready+aim+fire‘READY… Aim… fire’ is only as good as knowing what you have to offer (your positioning) and knowing which organizations could use a person like you (target organizations).  BOTH items are enhanced with a little PRO-Active PLANNING.  One of the most important skills a job-seeker can learn during a job-search is research skills. The quality of your research skills will dramatically impact both short term job search and longer range career continuity. Information is a critical commodity in job-hunting; the more you know and the easier it is for you to find information, the better your chances of success.


THIS Week’s Session, Thursday, August 1st… Your Personal Marketing PLAN


Pilot OnboardSo, make the commitment to improve your research skills. In fact, hold yourself accountable to research time each and every week. Employers value job-seekers who know key information about the company because that knowledge demonstrates your interest and enthusiasm for the company and for the job.

Finding information on a company’s competitors, company financial stresses and major lawsuits can counterbalance the positive information portrayed by the company’s own website, the most positive view of available information…

WHEN to Do Research

If attaining and maintaining career continuity is your realistic goal, you’ll find four specific times during which researched information will be important to you… First and foremost should be your commitment to knowing your marketplace for the rest of your career. This FIRST LEVEL RESEARCH implies setting aside a reasonable amount of time on an on-going basis, whether you’re employed or not. Often research leads to “spot media opportunities” that may lead you to your next right work.

Second, and another permutation of First Level Research, is when you are just starting a specific job-search and looking to identify attractive trends or key companies in your profession or industry, or even in a specific geographic location. I have always found this single factor to be the most under-utilized way to prepare for an effective job search. This is perhaps the most common use of first level research.

The third possibility is when you are applying to a specific employer; it’s always best to relate yourself to the company and tailor your cover letter and resume to each employer. This SECOND LEVEL RESEARCH probes deeper for specific info.

The fourth — and when most job-seekers finally do some research — is when you have been invited to a job interview; you’ll want to showcase your knowledge of the company and the people interviewing you.  This THIRD LEVEL RESEARCH probes still deeper and extends the breadth of your knowledge.

 WHAT Information Fits Your Offer Criteria…

You are usually seeking two sets of information. The first set of information deals with general company information. The types of information you might gather here include: products and services, history and corporate culture, organizational mission and goals, key financial statistics, organizational structure (divisions, subsidiaries, etc.), and locations.

Of course, you may also research the industry, key competitors, and countries where any specific, targeted, companies have offices.

The second set of information deals with personal and employment issues, and includes such things as career paths and advancement opportunities, benefits, diversity initiatives, and other human resources functions.

The sooner you get started, the better off you’ll be.

Remember, both objective (factual) and subjective (word-of-mouth, opinions) information can be of value. The following “OFFER CRITERIA MATRIX” will help you keep this all straight…

Information Desired Location Industry Business Climate Company SIZE Mgt Philosophy
Researchable FACTS X X   X X
SUBJECTIVE Info     ??   ??

You can analyze as many columns of information as is important to your definition of next right work. The Matrix will serve you well in all three levels of research mentioned previously… and when completely “filled in” can put the objectivity back in to the emotional process of accepting your next position, or taking the next step.

What’ll IT Be… Push or Pull?

Your Career CompassSocial media is a great place to learn about and create a digital conversation with your market.  However, potential employers do not want to be talked-to, or worse yet sold-to on these platforms. Your followers want to know they have a place to come learn, to ask questions about things THEY care about, and to know they are being heard.

Here are some things we’ve learned from listening to those we’ve served since the advent of LinkedIn, the preferred place for professional level job seekers to leave their “digital footprint.”


THIS Week’s Session, Thursday, July 25th… A LinkedIn PRIMER: Exploring Tasks #2 & 3, developing your network and finding JOBS via LinkedIn


Pilot OnboardIn “PUSH Marketing,” you need to take a low-key approach and offer 90% of insights and education to your market, with only 10% of things that would be seen as a sales pitch. Of course, ALL your social media content is “selling” in one way or another, but your market will be turned off if it comes across as a hard sell.

On the other side, don’t just post silly photos or motivation quotes. Position yourself as a subject matter expert and a source of real help to your followers, by sharing valuable information your market cares about (using UPDATES to post white papers…or sprinkle them in to your Profile).

PULL Marketing,” on the other hand, requires a concerted effort to optimize your keyword concentration (SEO) to attain high page ranking in keyword searches.  This is where most beginners start as they learn and gain confidence with the various functionalities offered by LinkedIn

The challenge is that either approach, when taken to an extreme, could be viewed as manipulative or ‘gaming the system’ (extreme pull)… or just too much narrative fluff (extreme push).  WE will be taking a down the middle-of-the-road approach which will give both beginning and intermediate users of LinkedIn the ‘best of both worlds’ in LinkedIn utility.

In-Sync, NOT Duplicate Personal Marketing Collaterals

While one’s resume is all about wise use of two pages worth of ‘vertical space,’ your LinkedIn Profile has no such limitation, but contains the very same elements of content: A clear positioning statement, a concise qualification summary, evidence of your supportive experience, and your education/ training.

In SYNC With WHAT?

chalk1What we used to refer to as ‘job security’ can be tough to ensure in a time when every position seems temporary. LONG gone are the days when you worked for one employer your entire lifetime. Remember when…?

JOB SECURITY = Good Performance + Loyalty

We learned in basic math that when one side of the ‘=’ sign changes, the other side must change as well.  Today, every job is temporary and most new jobs are gotten via referral.  Our performance ethic and our ‘loyalty value’ are regularly and significantly challenged by times of change…those “challenging waters of career transition…”

  • Recession… hard to predict but are as inevitable as high economic growth and low unemployment (sound familiar?)
  • Corporate restructuring or down-sizing, or the related effects of…
  • Merger and acquisition activity

THIS Week’s Session, Thursday, July 18th… Developing In Sync Personal Marketing Collateral Materials:  An exploration in value of your communication strategy


AjustDaSailsThe best way to build a strong ‘safety net-work’ is to offer value now… and for the rest of your working lifetime.  Identify and develop a sense of branding in the marketplace… what IS your story… and can you stick to it?

Your work in Achieving CareerFIT led you to the determination of your career objective, exactly what is the best next step for you in your career transition?  It also suggested strongly that you set your straw-man offer criteria to guide you in moving forwardKnowing what your next right employment  is.

This will help focus your actual search. With clarity in your positioning and targeting goals, you can write a great resume to convey “your story.”

Your Personal Market Collateral

WRITTEN COLLATERAL… 

  1. A GREAT Resume that positions you clearly as a terrific FIT with your career objectives… and in today’s technologies, a database-friendly, asci version;
  2. A correspondence template package that consistently carries your communication strategy, your message… and in today’s technologies, a reformatted, text only version of your resume ready for email needs;
  3. A high impact, personal biography and/or NETWORKING PROFILE that you can lead with in your referral based networking strategies.
  4. A clear and complete LinkedIn Profile, one that is based on your communication strategy and in sync with your other written collaterals.

VERBAL COLLATERAL… 

  1. A well rehearsed “two minute commercial,” your answer to the most asked question during career transition, “Tell me about yourself.”
  2. Several, well though out, “elevator speeches,” examples that support your primary, positioning, key words. These are usually your representative accomplishments under the SUMMARY of your resume. (30 seconds to 1 minute)
  3. A succinct “qualification statement” that you can use as an introduction at networking events. (usually 20 – 30 seconds)
  4. An “exit statement” which explains your availability, to address the second most asked question during career transition.

Having your collaterals prepared and rehearsed prior to active personal marketing is central to your success and builds confidence.

Consistency in the delivery of your message is what creates memory… and frequency of your message helps you get there… strive for top-of-mind awareness where it relates to your candidacy.

Your personal marketing COMMUNICATION STRATEGY, your story, must be built around keywords and phrases that best describe your unique value proposition. These words come from your concerted self-assessment process. The challenge is matching the words that best describe your next right employment with the words that best describe a potential new employer’s needs.

A communication strategy that does not achieve that is doomed to otherwise controllable difficulties—and, worst…failure. So, understand that getting recruited involves two distinct elements…

  • Being screened for meeting a JOB’s requirements… a subjective process created by the potential employers of the marketplace. They set the bar HIGH, defined by functional experience, skill set, and knowledge standards so they don’t have to interview every JOB applicant.
  • Being selected by the hiring authority… another subjective process which now involves their assessment of a job-seeker’s FIT with their needs, including personality, work habits, and other ‘cultural’ standards. They cannot hire all qualified candidates. They must choose.

A job-seeker, then, can give themselves choices when they choose to embrace the OTHER Job Market. They improve their probability of success by nearly eliminating the pre-mature screening and rejection process.