Your Strategic, CAREER Plan That Works Effectively in Job Search

Compass-seaLWhile involved in ‘the challenging waters’ of career transition, the same chaotic, jobless, trying times are very productive times. Don’t waste them by floundering with lack of focus and direction, falling into the dark, depressive attitude of distractions and, worst of all, inaction…


NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, January 31st… Developing Your Personal Marketing Plan; Being fully prepared to conduct an effective job search


chalk1When we are employed, we tend to function under the guidance of our employer’s business plan, or, more specifically, our job description. Our ‘routine’ is defined by:

  • Personal accountability to a labyrinth of responsibilities, some structured— some not structured at all—but all contributing to productive work activities…
  • We create productivity and efficiency with our sense of time management…
  • And as ‘top talent’ professionals, we often take initiative, make process improvements, and contribute to the Company’s growth.

So, why not recreate all that with OUR OWN PLAN, a Personal Marketing Plan, to move toward job satisfaction, commitment, and appropriate compensation, for the rest of our careers… including any current, short term job search?

If an individual is under-employed, seeking a change, or actually unemployed, they must be visible to potential employers who are seeking their services. Creating this visibility is strategic, personal market planning and execution—in can be marketability without rejection!

And, employed or not, Modify and improve your Personal Market Plan’s implementation model as needed… As you move through your career transition or ‘job search campaign,’ make adjustments as you would a business model.

Personal Marketing is a contact sport.

Following the first three steps of our 12-Step Process, it may feel like you’re ready to take on the job market… but, THE Careerpilot encourages you to be totally prepared before you do.

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The Ghost of Holidaze Past

happynewyearsmalltolargeThe holidays are a fun time to share gifts, visit with friends and family, take a break from work, and, let’s hope, relax. The trouble is that they are over fairly quickly. And once those days are over, people return to their regular routines, which now seem dull, or worse, depressing.

The biggest difficulty in getting back to the disciplined grind of job search is seeing the rewards and joy in what we do every day.


This Week’s Session, Thursday, January 10th:  Achieving CareerFIT,  an exploration of the assessment process


chalk1The contrast between ‘happy holidaze’ and ‘disciplined job search’ can be dehabilitating if we think about it that way. People underestimate how exhausting even happy holidays are and how much rest we need to recover… The holiday hangover is real… Don’t expect to be 100% productive on your first day back at it.

Once people get some rest over the weekend after the first week back, the fatigue should ease up significantly. Be aware of the signs that you may be overworked or over-stressed. These include uncharacteristically negative thoughts and feelings, as well as not finding time for or no longer looking forward to things you used to enjoy.

Burnout is a serious issue and can lead to severe depression and even suicidal ideation if left unaddressed. Some of the physical symptoms include heart palpitations, gastrointestinal issues, and excessive weight loss or gain. But you don’t have to experience any of these.

Back in school, we used to refer to the time between Christmas break and St. Patrick’s Day as ‘the dark ages.’  On ‘the job search calendar,’ this is actually the most productive time of the year.

With some effort and a few tricks, you can make it through this stressful transition period right after the holidays and prevent it from dragging out.

1. Think of time as an investment

We spend so much time getting ready for the holidays and then they are over in just a week, which can be disappointing. The best way to deal with that feeling is to think about the holiday preparation as an investment:  The time you spend decorating, buying gifts, and making plans is really an investment in creating a special experience for you and yours that will continue to pay dividends long after the holidays are over. Like all investments, sometimes it doesn’t pay off in the way we hoped, but we can rest in the knowledge that we invested ourselves in something personally meaningful.

2. Don’t expect perfection

It’s important to have compassion for yourself and others about the transition back and not expect perfection.  You may want to disclose too many personal stories, giving out a lot more than just professional information.  If you want to keep things more professional, express empathy, and gently redirect your networking dialog to work related matters.

3. Know it’s unnatural to simply switch off from the “happiness of the season”

In a way, it is unnatural for people to completely compartmentalize their lives when they walk in or out of the disciplined structure of productive and efficient job search activity. While appropriate boundaries are important, it is unhealthy to stuff thoughts and emotions down or deny them just because the clock says it is time; finding that balance can be a real challenge for some.

Realistically, it takes a couple of weeks to really get back into a regular routine… People spend the last 30 to 90 days of the year winding down and letting go of all their good habits… It’s going to take time to re-establish healthy behaviors and get back on track.

4. Use technology with purpose

It’s not about permanently switching off your computer or television and throwing out your smartphone. Absolutes may not be the answer.  Instead, it can be helpful to think about how you choose to use social media and other available technologies… what purpose you want it to serve for you.  Is it serving that purpose?

If not — and especially if it takes more away from you then you get out of it — it might be time to be more intentional about media consumption and only use it for the purpose you want.

5. Give yourself a ramp-up period

“Maybe use a couple of days to figure out your new goals and professional expectations for this year,” Taylor said. “Let yourself slowly (but steadily) get back into your routine.” You can burn out if you try to jump back in too quickly, so take one task at a time and set a rhythm for yourself, she added.

6. Stay away from unmotivated people

They can be contagious… If you’re around folks who haven’t gotten back into the swing of things, it’s easier to follow suit. They may actively be telling you that ‘there’s always tomorrow’ or ‘just start on a Monday,’ or it may just be something you feel is easier when no one else around you is moving forward. Avoid these people for a while, if you can.

Network and develop your network with employed people.

7. Go on short walks

After the holidays, our minds might wander and we might be thinking about places we’d rather be or things we’d rather be doing than staying engaged in SMART jo search activities. By spending just five minutes quietly focusing on your breath, you can bring a sense of calmness and clarity to your day and increase attention to your work-at-hand.

8. Exercise

THE CareerPilot recommends regular exercise — and especially outdoor exercise if the weather permits…  It helps regulate levels of cortisol, the “stress” hormone, and adrenaline. It can be very effective at getting our bodies and moods regulated again for countless reasons.  If you haven’t had a regular practice…START ONE!

9. Be mindful of the good times ahead

Remembering the good memories from the holidays, while also being mindful of the good times in the coming weeks, months, and in the new year can be helpful in beating the post-holiday blues. Being stuck in the past makes a person less open to and appreciative of the next big thing that may come along.

Physically active people are also more productive and motivated in all areas of their lives.  You can get more energy, and the same chemicals released from an antidepressant medication, when you’re working out.

10. Practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude is very helpful but not in a hit-and-run way… It is more helpful if a person spends some time reflecting on why he or she is grateful and how it is meaningful.  Spending time regularly practicing gratitude rewires the brain by gradually shifting what we pay attention to and are aware of.

You get bonus points if you express your gratitude in depth to another person and build it into your home or job search dialog.

Accountable To Whom And For WHAT?

happynewyearsmalltolargeThe leading cause of long job searches is low marketability or like-ability…Rather it is the lack of ACCOUNTABILITY to appropriate time management and regular implementation of productive activities.  That said, what are YOU going to DO about it?

At the end of the day, the significant developmental issue, here, is to develop your own sense of SELF-Accountability… it really doesn’t matter whether you do this as part of a team, or part of a partnership, or even by yourself if you have the prerequisite knowledge, self awareness, and DISCIPLINE.


This Week’s Session, Thursday, January 3rd at 8:45 AM… UNDERSTANDING The OTHER Job Market…An exploration of why activity in this parallel marketplace is critical to overcoming common challenges of job search in the more traditional marketplace.


This is not for the feint of heart.  Most job-seekers miss the accountability of time management and commitment to specific, result-oriented activities that employers instill in you.

TOP TIPS: Creating EFFECTIVE Accountability

Create a Goals Worksheet/ TEMPLATE… You’ve heard the cliché “What Gets Measured Gets DONE.” Very true for jobseekers who put themselves ‘out there’ on their own.  Work SMART at your job search PLAN…

Specific time and activity goals for each process prep and implementation step. Measurable goals so that progress can be analyzed and diagnosed  Actionable goals that allow you to ‘own’ your job search accomplishments   Realistic goals that are attainable on an average, weekly basis… and keep them Timely.

Have goals that are time-specific to keep you moving FORWARD!

  • Choose your PARTNER or TEAM Members wisely… your sense of accountability is built when you can be open and honest with each other during your scheduled sessions. There’s no room for negativity.
  • Have a set STRUCTURE of what will occur during each session. I encourage each meeting to start with a brief practice of verbal collateral, followed by a reporting of last week’s ‘numbers.’  Identify obstacles to your progress, requesting specific ‘help’ as appropriate.  Commit to next week’s numbers.  Close with an open and frank discussion aimed at removing obstacles… including action plans!
  • Keep your Group’s Membership and attendance consistent. Remember, these sessions can be effective with anywhere from 2 to 10 Members.
  • Create a hard copy binder with a tab for each Member… contents should be everyone’s tracking sheet, current resume, and a business card (several might be useful). Each Member is in this TOGETHER.
  • Generate a sense of TEAMSMANSHIP… Give yourselve’s a NAME. Create some sort of reward system for the week’s most contributive or successful Member.
  • Build EARLY SUCCESS by inviting a skilled and experienced facilitator for your first few meetings… then carry-on with a personal accomplishment of helping each other with resolution and action plans to overcome all obstacles.

A Little ACCOUNTABILITY Goes a LONG Way!

JigSaw-partnershipA good accountability partner can make a major difference in one’s job search. I have seen many job seekers flounder because they launch their search efforts before they are totally prepared for the unique adventure ahead.  The power of partnering comes in to play when two well prepared job seekers come together to hold each other accountable for the activities and time management involved in productive search efforts.


THIS Week’s Session, Thursday, December 13th… Developing your personal ACCOUNTABILITY partnerships


bob-maher-4587-editYou can call this coincidence if you want, I did for a while until I saw it happening over and over, and the people using the accountability partner were giving them the credit for their success. Or you could call it peer pressure … but whatever you call the ‘fuel.’ The resultant energy cannot be denied… it works.

Too many times, we fall victim to distractions from the job search. The trap of sleeping late, watching TV, and playing on the Web can ensnare us. With no one but ourselves to hold us accountable for our job-search goals and plans, time can just slip away. It’s so easy to lose balance between personal needs and wants and our job search.

The other end of the spectrum is becoming a “job search-aholic.” For many of us, our identity is tied up tightly in our career, while others need a job right away just to make ends meet. No matter how great the need or desire for a new position, conducting a job search 24/7 non-stop can actually be a detriment to a successful campaign.

Once burnout sets in and enthusiasm begins to wane, how can you be at your best when you interview or even network?  The buddy system is an ideal way to protect against burnout while keeping on track!

3 GREAT Reasons You Need An Accountability Partnership

A partnership can be you and one other person, like how we start at DFWCareerpilot…or it could be a group of 3 or more like minded individuals. We start with each grouping being facilitated by a skilled and experienced facilitator.  Having had a lot of experience with facilitating accountability teams and partnerships over the years, I offer the following reasons why such activity will boost your individual job search efforts…

1) Someone to bounce around ideas with… It can be productive when you’re stuck and not sure how to proceed on an idea or maybe with a target organization—or an individual you’re having trouble connecting with.  Sometimes you just need that extra little push. Connecting with someone who does understand is a big deal.

2) Someone to share accomplishments with… Did you research and identify a great opportunity? Land that big interview? Get your first offer?  An accountability partner is the perfect person to share those exciting times with.

As Corporate citizens, we are used to being on productive teams, surrounded by resources, and encouraged to succeed.  However, as job seekers, it is easy to lead a very isolated existence and appropriate resources are not always available.

3) Someone you can stay accountable to

Again, it’s really rewarding to have someone to tell when you have accomplished specific goals and/or tasks. Or on the flip side it’s nice to have someone there if you’re starting to feel overwhelmed and they can bring you back to reality. It’s great to know you have someone there that is counting on you to take action!

The ‘Dark Ages’ in The JOB Market

roadsign-banner2Pick your favorite cliche’ … “It’s always darkest before the storm…” or “Red in the morning, sailors take warning…” or, “When life hands you a lemon, make and enjoy some fresh lemonade!”  Career transition history shows that the ‘Dark Ages,’ the time between Thanksgiving and early January is horrible for actual job placements… but a terrific time for pro-active networking!  WHY??


THIS WEEK’s Session: Thursday, December 6th… Embracing the HO-Ho-holidaze in The OTHER Job Market: Our introductory session overviewing the 12 Step process, STARTING during the holidays!… a great place for new-comers to start!


chalk1Conventional wisdom is that company’s speed up their hiring to use up year-ending budget dollars.  Nearly forty years of ‘reality therapy’ has shown me that company’s…

  1. have a challenge in scheduling interviews through the holidays, and,
  2. due to less actual hiring, relax their ‘guard’ considerably in the screening of potential new hires, thus…
  3. are more ‘open’ to relaxed, pro-active networking (can you spell holiday spirit?)
  4. New Year optimism, and fresh budget dollars, make January through to ‘the kids coming home for summer break’ the most active hiring time period!

So, if you have finally come around to embracing the OTHER job market, or if you’re at least willing to ‘kick those tires,’ then the job market’s ‘Dark Ages’ is the time to do it!

Using JOB BOARDS Efficiently

All job databases, regardless of type, look and feel, operate on the same premise – the job seeker enters specific criteria to generate a resulting list of matching positions. It is recommended you actively search a variety of sites, both generic and niche, to determine which sites yield attractive positions for you.

To Implement this Search Strategy, some sites offer very detailed criteria, while others offer very general criteria. There are some commonalities that are fairly consistent from site to site. These commonalities, along with specific strategies are outlined below:

  • Boxes with multiple selection choices– These boxes allow the job seeker to select multiple choices at one time by holding down the control key on the keyboard as each selection is made.
  • Keyword boxes – most sites offer a field in which to type keywords. This is a powerful option to refine searching. Never fear “advanced search” option.

Some strategies for maximizing this tool are:

  • Quotation marks – placing quotation marks around specific words will generally cause the search engine to return jobs containing that exact phrase.
  • Skip Using Common Words – omit words like as, a, an, of.
  • Lower case letters – as a rule of thumb, lower case letters are more universally accepted on the Internet than upper case letters. If in doubt, use lower case letters.
  • Periods – generally periods are not found in job titles on the Internet. Use vp not v.p., or cfo not c.f.o. If you have extra room in the keywords search box, adding the title formatted with the periods can’t hurt.
  • Root titles – entering root titles will also source jobs with the same titles that have prefixes.
  • Asterisk * For Sourcing Multiple Forms of Words – using * after a root word will generally return words which contain a variation of that root word.

Now, to solve the dysfunctionality of keyword filters, NETWORK YOUR WAY to an attractive opportunity instead of simply applying for it!  Once invited in to the process, your resume will get actually read more frequently.  Learn to embrace this approach to the OTHER job market!

Job Search Agents

Job Search Agents continually look for jobs based upon specified criteria, and notify the candidate by email when matching jobs are found.

Precious time – this is what Job Search Agents save candidates. Instead of having to regularly remember to visit job boards to search for new jobs, candidates simply can visit these sites once.

The majority of sites allow candidates to set up more than one Job Search Agent. Entering a job title in the keywords criteria is one of the best ways to set up an Agent. If the titles of a specific job vary, it is best to set up a separate Agent for each title.

Taking the 5-10 minutes to set up a Job Search Agent can ensure a regular flow of potential opportunities, and free candidates up for more important activities such as networking.

Company Research

Generally, there are two types of Company Research related to a job search:

  1. Creating a list of companies to target for your search
  2. In-depth research on a specific company of interest, perhaps in preparation for an interview.

In-Depth Research on a Specific Company:

  1. Start with the corporate website
  2. Look up the company in business directories for corporate profiles on websites such as Hoovers or Vault.
  3. Search the local newspaper, business journals, or magazines for recent news.
  4. If it is a publicly traded company, search EDGAR for their SEC filings.
  5. Use a search engine like Google or Yahoo.

Industry Research

With respect to Industry news, set up electronic news alerts via email based on keywords on the topic of your choice. The majority of news alerts are free and most will send alerts to your cell or PDA as well. There are four main types:

  • Industry-based
  • Company-based
  • Product-based
  • Person-based

People Research

Recruiters and companies often perform quick internet searches on their candidates and you should also consider researching potential contacts as well as researching those on your interview team.

To research an individual:

  1. Search the company’s website especially if you’re seeking background information on an executive.
  2. Use Zoominfo to search for an individual.
  3. Use a search engine like Google or Yahoo.
  4. If you’ve created an account with an online networking community, try searching for the individual there.

Results from these searches can help you make a connection or discussion point.

Protect Yourself Online

In any job search, it is important to circulate a resume. However, job seekers need to minimize privacy issues related to resumes and personal data while still maintaining appropriate exposure to employers.

It is important to understand that employers, commercial job search sites, and resume databases vary widely in privacy practices and controls. Learn to choose a quality job search site and resume database with good privacy practices. And discriminate between valid job search-related email and other offers and unhelpful maybe even fraudulent solicitations for your resume or personal data.

Some key tips:

  • Look to see if the site is a member of the International Association of Employment Web Sites. Members are required to adhere to certain requirements.
  • Read the privacy policy paying attention to the length of time the resume will be stored.
  • Make sure the resume can be deleted.
  • Omit references on your resume to protect their contact information.
  • Avoid responding to vague offers.
  • Keep good records.
  • Pay attention to business affiliates.
  • Limit personal information and protect your Social Security number.

Practice Makes Perfect, Right?

Ready+aim+fireWRONG… but, perfect practice gets you headed in the right direction.  Ever made a mistake?  Ever shoot yourself in the foot because you failed to exercise the READY-AIM components of implementation?  Maybe you did something careless, without proper planning or sufficient attention?

Unless you were just born, you surely have. So, the more important question is “are you better off as a result?” As painful as mistakes can be, they can provide great benefit.


NEXT SESSION: Thursday, November 15th at 8:45 AM @ The Egg & I Restaurant in Addison… A PRIMER on Headhunters and Other 3rd Party Recruiters


bob-maher-4587-editThere is no teacher better than adversity. People do their best learning through tough times, mistakes, and failures. Prosperity is great, but not a good teacher. Those who live a privileged, sheltered, and adversity-free life miss life’s education.

In contrast, those who deal with tough bosses, demanding clients, relationship conflicts, and their own bad decisions, learn many valuable lessons. Counter-intuitively, the extent of adversity people have been through is a better determinate of their future success than how much prosperity they have enjoyed.

But adversity is only beneficial if it is properly processed.  When people make a mistake, they have three fundamental choices on how to process it. Two of the choices lead to no benefit and the other to significant benefit.

  • Choice #1 is to be frustrated by or dismissive of the mistake.
  • Choice #2 is to blame others or circumstances.
  • Choice #3 is to reflect on and find the learning in it.

Intellectually, people see choice #3 as the correct choice, yet regularly practice choices #1 and #2. Rather than embrace the opportunity for change, they stay in their comfort zone. Rather than learn what they can and make adjustments, they get frustrated until they “get over it” or worse—blame others or circumstances.

They may be quick to correct others, but unable to see the need for change in themselves. Mistakes are like road signs… you have earned the opportunity to learn from and be better for them. Don’t waste a good mistake.

Studies find that successful and unsuccessful people both have generally the same experiences in life. The key difference is that successful people grow through their experiences, particularly their adversity. They accept responsibility when things don’t go well, reflect on what happened, and make adjustments in how they think and act.

In contrast, unsuccessful people tend to dismiss their role in their misfortunes, blame others, blame circumstances, or simply ignore what happened. Studies also find that professionals’ learning primarily comes from their on-the-job experience (52%) with mentoring, coaching, and reading being second (27%), and formal training (21%) third.

Yet people’s on-the-job-experience only translates into learning if they take time to reflect on their work and learn from it rather than just perform the work. Learning to the fullest extent, whether from normal daily work or from adversity, is an intentional activity.

Whether in your professional or personal life, your future success largely depends on how well you learn from your experience, especially your mistakes. Here are seven principles to follow to get the most benefit from your mistakes:

  1. Acknowledge the mistake. Don’t let the good qualities of being calm, resilient, and forgiving prevent you from seeing that a mistake was made. Confront reality.  Don’t be so positive and forgiving that you foolishly miss the opportunity to see that a mistake worth understanding was made.
  2. Take responsibility. Don’t be quick to fault external influences. There are always contributing circumstances. Rarely is anything all your responsibility.  Whether your role was limited or significant, accept responsibility.
  3. Reflect on the mistake. Consider what happened and your role in it. Assess the root cause. Get to the real issue. Most mistakes are symptoms. Ask “why did this happen?” Again… And again, as needed, until you’ve exhausted the likely root causes that deserve your attention.
  4. Involve others. Seek input from others who can help you objectively think through your assessment. Share your reflections with someone you trust who can help you understand the nuances of your situation.
  5. Record your lessons learned. After assessing the root causes, consider what you can do going forward to mitigate or avoid the mistake in the future. Take note of the thoughts and behaviors you need to adopt and practice.
  6. Process your feelings. It’s alright to be frustrated and even angry just as much as it is to be excited and happy. A mistake doesn’t define you any more than an achievement does. Allow yourself to go through a healthy ‘grief cycle.’
  7. Look forward. Forgive yourself and others. Realize that you are not perfect and its okay. Recover and move on. Embed your lessons learned into your plans, processes, and daily habits. Don’t ruminate any longer.