So, Who DO You Listen To?

AjustDaSailsThe “challenging waters” of career transition, specifically a lengthy period of un-employment during a typical job search campaign, can be quite stressful. And part of that stress is the constant fear that you may have positioned yourself for something that’s just not available in the marketplace.

When is it time to give up on, or change your approach, to a desired result? When do you stop pursuing a desired career outcome? When do you walk away from a negotiation or quit trying to make a relationship work?

Do you give up when you get frustrated? Or when you’ve tried everything you know to try? Or when a better option becomes available?

How do you know when your persistence goes from an asset to a liability?


THIS Week’s Session, Thursday, October 17… Implementing Your PMP:  Bob leads a discussion of coaching YOURSELF to greater performance, a “wave theory.”


Pilot Onboard

Many people talk about “information overload” and “decision fatigue” when it comes to how to conduct your job search, or write your resume, or develop your LinkedIn Profile…or answer those challenging interview questions. THE Careerpilot believes there’s another side to the coin… Receiving options is actually motivational and liberating, with the right mindset.

Asking for someone else’s advice isn’t about getting the right answer out of them. Rather, it’s about adding perspective to your view so you can choose the right answer for you.

So, how can you ensure another ‘second opinion’ doesn’t cloud your judgement?

First and foremost, understand that your ‘core personality,’ defined by your unique strengths, skills, interests, preferences, and values (Step#1: ASSESSMENT), drives your “gut feel” on matters of choice. TRUST that!

In THE Careerpilot’s 12-Step M.A.P. for career transition, Steps #1 and #2 are in place for one simple reason: If you don’t have a grip on what you want to do next in your career, work toward giving yourself that grip!

Your core personality should be represented in your offer criteria BEFORE development of your Personal Marketing collateral materials, like your resume!  If you cannot connect your motivated skills and strengths to supportive and confirming episodes from your actual experience, you should be utilizing your first wave of implementing your Personal Marketing Plan (Step#9) to identify and resolve this vital issue.

Only then will it become effective to proceed with Step#3 in the development and practice of your collective communication strategies (keywords) in the design of your collateral materials, both verbal and written.

Remember: Perfect practice makes PERFECT!

Persistence leads to many successes but at some point, can serve to point you in a different direction. Persistently pursuing a specific job search objective, in the face of resistance, lack of opportunity, or competition, can be a waste of time and money. You can miss many alternative opportunities while tirelessly investing energy into a dead-end approach or new relationship.

Never prematurely equate re-positioning your efforts with broader changes in your Personal Marketing Plan. Market conditions can be very dynamic… those “challenging waters” may call for a change in course.

Knowing when to stay the course, change course, or quit isn’t easy. Knowing when ‘enough is enough’ isn’t always clear. The best strategy isn’t always certain even after the dust has settled on a situation and time has gone by. Hence regrets remain for many people who tried for too long as well as for those who gave up too early.

To help you when deciding whether to continue, stop, or redirect your resources, ask yourself “Did you …..
• Truly give it your best? Did you perform your best and to a level of excellence defined by most objective standards?
• Try every reasonable approach or tactic that fit within your chosen strategy or Personal Marketing Plan?
• Give it sufficient time? Did you practice patience and allocate enough time for your efforts to be recognized, evaluated, and acted upon?
• Consult with people qualified to give you advice? Did you seek wise counsel from people willing to challenge your thinking rather than merely talking to people who validated your thinking?
• Manage the other realities in your life? Did you think objectively rather than rely on your instinct replete with its subjectivity? Did you cave in to emotion or unsubstantiated financial pressures?
• Look in the mirror? Did you take your share of responsibility for the issue? Do you have a Plan, and did you identify and correct the areas you had control over that contributed to the impasse… so you aren’t merely running from yourself?
• Use rational thinking as well as your feelings? Did you follow both your mind and your heart? Did you evaluate the facts and statistics as well as the impact on people?
• Consider the unique nuances of your particular situation… rather than blindly follow accepted norms?

If you can’t honestly and objectively answer “yes” to these questions, take action on those topics you can’t. If you can answer yes, consider it time to redirect your resources. You may be in a hole that is only getting deeper with time.

You may be wasting your energy and money. Your persistence may be at the point of foolishness. Change your strategy, tactics, or approach. Or pursue your better alternative.

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Your Digital “Footprint”

chalk1Networking is a primary means of finding and landing  that next position. Social Media is an internet phenomenon that has become a very important tool for job seekers to use in their networking efforts. It is an extraordinary method for self-marketing. In fact, I like to call it your “GPS for Efficient Networking Activity.”

CAUTION:  USE TECHNOLOGY to save time and access information, but NEVER allow technology to replace person-to-person networking and relationship building.

NETWORKING is a (very personal) contact sport!


NEXT Session is Thursday, October 10thA LinkedIn Overview with guest presenter, our own Jim Parker


bob-maher-4587-editThe “top three” social media sites for job search are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  There are many others.

LINKEDIN

LinkedIn is the most used social media site for business and professionals. Thus, it is an excellent site for job-search purposes. Recruiters and the more sophisticated companies use LinkedIn to source potential candidates for their open positions.

LinkedIn is like a multi-faceted “diamond” for networkers.  In fact, it might be helpful to see the multiple functionalities of LinkedIn in three “tasks.”  Your TASK#1 Is to have an account and create a high impact Profile that is in sync with your resume.

Already you need to make an important decision.

Will you be using LinkedIn to PUSH your message outward, creating visibility for you availability?… or using LinkedIn to PULL people to your KEYWORDS?

… or, my favorite, using both approaches together…  Here’s an example of what I mean… A Headline and SUMMARY that allows you the best of PUSH and PULL marketing tactics…

YOUR HEADLINE…

BUSINESS ANALYST: Operations Accounting | Database Administration | Financial Analysis | (more if space allows)

 YOUR SUMMARY…

 (Start by copying and pasting from your resume… then personalize by putting the nouns back in and adding KEYWORD accomplishments…)

I am a resourceful and productive Business Management professional with over twenty years of diverse and progressively responsible experience in a fast paced dynamic environment.  My proven strengths lie within the areas of accounting and administrative assistance. I am used to the dynamic demand of operations accounting, customer service, database management, data collection and analysis, and prioritizing workload.   I’ve been reviewed consistently for having a pro-active attitude, focusing on the customers and their needs.

Managers seem to value me as a detail-oriented, critical thinker who thrives in a team environment with diversified stakeholders and clientele, focused on personal development and process improvement. Proficient within proprietary and other systems, as well as Microsoft Excel.

OPERATIONS ACCOUNTING: I was promoted to continue previous retail billing duties with the addition of commercial billing duties for commercial and retail platform.  I coordinate with customer service and manufacturing to obtain information related to customer’s account and orders.

DATABASE ADMINISTRATION: I’ve prepared detailed invoices per customer contract for commercial accounts, including credit allowances to customer as required by account contract.  I have also assisted with individual account budgets, providing data input of pricing, cost, VAR information.

FINANCIAL ANALYSIS:  I prepare detailed invoices, including credit allowances to customer as required by account contract.  This requires knowledge of customer contracts, pricing list, invoice discounts and rebates when applicable.

Available for immediate contact at phone# and email address

TASK#2 is to learn the various functionalities that allow you to find new connection, grow and focus your network, and find useful information.

  1. Join LinkedIn groups and post comments
  2. Post relevant content in groups
  3. Post questions
  4. Promote events in which you are involved

 TASK#3 is to exploit the JOBS and job seeking functionalities.

Achieving CAREER “FITness”

roadsign-banner2In order to market yourself, you must first know yourself.  The job search process is essentially a highly personalized marketing process.  The process starts with your candid self-assessment, which allows you to gain a thorough and workable understanding of who you are in product marketing terms.


This Week’s Session: Thursday, September 12th… Achieving CareerFIT:  An exploration of the “two flavors” of assessment, decision-making (positioning) and word-crafting of your resume and LinkedIn Profile.


JigSaw-partnershipEspecially if you are starting a resume “from scratch”, or if you are truly unsettled on next steps along your career path, this becomes a necessary first step in the process.

What YOU Do Best, and are motivated to do for a future employer…

What do you do best?  What are your strongest transferable skills?  Think broadly in terms of managerial and technical/ functional strengths involved in what you have to offer.  Discovering your “pattern of success and satisfaction” is your goal, here.

Your ability to express the collection of your functional strengths will measure your marketability.  This collection of keywords and their supportive evidence creates your communication strategy, the basis of your value proposition.

The old “round peg in a round role” theory of career planning is dysfunctional.  In the typical professional environment today, job descriptions are changing faster than ever before to keep up with the challenges of an economy in transition. In the traditional job market, job seekers are the sellers and their potential employers are the buyers.  The commodity is JOBs and the competition is fierce.

In The OTHER Job Market, buyers and sellers hold equal responsibility for the recruitment process.  The commodity is available, productive WORK… When employers have a need for someone to fulfill a specific role, often the most desired candidates are employed individuals with the credentials they seek.  Thus the employer must sell their Company to potential employees in the marketplace in order to attract the best of the lot.  Once identified, they simply select their choice and buy their services.

Seize control of such challenges.   Understand the nature of FIT.  

What is a Good, Career FIT For You?  To achieve a good “fit” between you and any future opportunity, you have to ask yourself some basic questions about yourself and your prospective employers. The fit depends on how well the jobs meets your needs and how well your skills and abilities meet the employer’s needs. The employer will make a decision and extend an offer to you: now it is time for you to make your decision.

Write out the factors that are important to you in a job… actually write out your list.  During your career transition, learn the value of setting your offer criteria, a key element of your Personal Market Plan:

  • Creates an objective target for your efforts ahead;
  • Gives you a meaningful set of questions to ask during research (factual information) and networking (more subjective information);
  • Provides an objective way to analyze and react to offers as they occur.

 OFFER CRITERIA

Write out the factors that are important to you in a job…actually write out your list. During your career transition, you learn the value of setting your offer criteria.

1. Creates an objective target for your efforts ahead;
2. Gives you a meaningful set of questions to ask during research and networking;
3. Provides an objective way to analyze and react to offers as they occur.

To manage your career wisely has you extending the same concept.

  • Keep your “offer criteria” in that dynamic state of change that allows you to adapt to market conditions.
  • If your current goal is to find a new position, then you should prepare your search as a “business model”, manage it accordingly, be flexible, and be ready for the unexpected.

You understand that managing your own career involves three key ingredients:

  1. Confidence in knowing that your career is on the right path;
  2. Continuous research and networking leading to awareness of potential “next steps…” to keep your career moving forward;
  3. Competency with job-changing skills.

To manage your career wisely has you extending the same concept.  Consider some of the factors listed below … Examine each factor through the questions listed – and then ask “does this opportunity fit me?”

Go Into EVERY Interview With a Notion of FIT… A GOOD FIT!

JigSaw-partnershipEvery step in the job search process is aimed at obtaining interviews.  It is at that point, a potential hiring manager decides if you are right for the job, and, just as important, it is your time to evaluate whether the job is right for you. Most interviews follow a predictable format, with steps that both the interviewer and applicant follow to decide if both will benefit from working together.


THIS Week’s Session, Thursday, August 22… Closing The Deal I: Interview Strategies, including MoneySpeak… and a look at PRE-Offer negotiation.


chalk1The best interviews are ones in which both participants are equal and can have a mutually beneficial, interactive conversation regarding the opportunity at hand.

Think of an interview as the natural extension, the successful result of your effective networking.  Many networking conversations actually become screening interviews, where influential contacts are assessing your qualifications, skill sets and experience relative to an opportunity at hand.  “Perfect practice” of the basics builds the confidence necessary to perform well in formal job interviews.

Let’s break down the basics into four areas…

  1. pre-contact preparation/ research,
  2. greeting and rapport,
  3. questions/answers, and …
  4. meeting closure.

All four stages are equally important and deserve your consideration and preparation.

The Three Phases of Every Interview

 There are three things that must be discussed in every interview:  First, the Candidate, a discussion usually conducted in the past tense to assess experience, knowledge, and skills… do they meet the potential employer’s REQUIREMENTS?

Second, the job itself.  Beyond meeting requirements, each Candidate must be judged for their potential to meet EXPECTATIONS.  As important, will the Candidate “fit in” on the team and Company culture?  This discussion occurs in the future tense… very obvious transition in a “good” interview.

Last, but certainly not least, is the quality of FIT.  While this is the most subjective and dysfunctional part of the process, it is where both sides must come together for a desired outcome.  When both sides like and find the other to be attractive, a “right” employment opportunity can result.  This is also where the QandA can become more defensive in nature.

 Research the company/position

Second level research will help you to identify attractive companies.  But, this is third level (in-depth) research.  Learn as much as possible about the company, the position and the individual who will be conducting the interview.  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 interviewing for the job.

 Use the following research strategies:

  • 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.
  • Ask a friendly recruiter, business acquaintance or stockbroker what they know about the company… and by extension, call people with whom you have networked (Customers and Vendors, remember them?) and ask what they know about the company and/or individual conducting the interview.
  • 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!

Once your basic research is complete, you must next identify how your abilities, experience and expertise can meet the needs of the interviewer, the company and the job.  This point cannot be over-emphasized.  It is the company’s needs that you must fill, not your own.  Surprisingly, however, by meeting the company’s needs, your needs also will be met.

Your VALUE PROPOSITION

Prepare for your interviews (and networking meetings) by fully understanding the value you bring to a potential employer and hiring company.    Incorporate portions of this information into your interview responses, or use some of the material in your interview closing remarks.  Tell them why you are good at what you do!

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.”

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.