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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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.

Yes, There IS An-OTHER Job Market

bob-maher-4587-editIn every marketplace, there are buyers and sellers.  In the traditional job market, the one that our Department of Labor measures for us, job seekers are the sellers and their potential employers are the buyers.  The commodity is productive work and the competition is fierce.

In the OTHER Job Market, buyers and sellers hold equal responsibility for the recruitment process.  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.


This Week’s Session, Thursday, September 5th… Embracing The OTHER Job Market: This is our overview and introductory session, covering all 12 steps of the process and basic philosophies.


The JOB Market The OTHER Job Market
Characterized by “requisitioned” jobs being filled by chosen job seekers.  

Characterized by available/needed work being fulfilled by job seekers, contractors, internal candidates, third-party consultants, retirees, part-timers, temporary workers, etc.

 

JOBS rigidly defined by requirements and qualifications… reflected by the screening process aimed at identifying key candidates. Work expectations are subjective, defined by mutual agreement, fulfillment of need or contract… reflected through the identification of qualified candidates.
Process overseen by Human Resource professionals, regulated to consider minimally qualified candidates, hopefully within salary guidelines. Process directed by hiring authorities seeking best available talent at marketplace salary expectations.
JOB Seeking PUBLIC is screened for most desirable candidates. Qualified and available candidates are sourced and recruited, often through process of endorsement or internal referral.
Screening defined by KEYWORDS, often accomplished through computer/internet job banks and resume databases. Screening accomplished by word of mouth and endorsement, often supplementing the organization’s formal process of recruitment.
Recruitment process subject to scrutiny of regulation and political correctness. Often selection process has occurred before active recruitment has been fully engaged.
Actual selection still subject to formal process and subjective choice. Actual selection often a rubber stamp formality to satisfy regulation requirements.

 

On the other hand, 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!  Personal Marketing is a contact sport.

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!

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.

Embracing Effective Tactics In The OTHER Job Market

roadsign-banner2The traditional job seeker spends most of their time on job boards…and trying to figure out the “right” KEYWORDS.  It starts by taking the path of least resistance… applying for those jobs that you feel ideally suited for.  After all, this approach  comes with a low risk of direct rejection.  In fact, it also comes with a low response ratio… The Internet’s ‘black hole.’   Instead of being told “no,” you’re told nothing.

Or you receive the automated “thanks but no thanks” emails that come seconds after you submit your application… not once touched by a human hand!


NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, June 27th… A LinkedIn Primer: an overview of your push/pull choice and your three tasks within fully utilizing this GPS to networking.


Ready+aim+fireThat’s why it’s important to look for your next employment opportunity outside job boards… Don’t limit yourself to posted jobs, or even un-posted jobs in the ‘hidden job market.’ Learn to embrace the OTHER job market, the one where employers are seeking your ‘top talent.’.

Many real opportunities exist outside job boards … in abundance. So if you’re willing to do the work that almost no one else wants to do to unearth your ‘next right employment opportunity,’ here are the TOP TEN tactics to create connections within the OTHER job market:

  1. USE THE JOB BOARDS, but before you apply for a specific job…network your way to the opportunity presented you!

Often, this approach will identify individuals who request your resume, either for forwarding, or, best yet, for their endorsement.  A requested resume is read more frequently…your reward for embracing the OTHER job market.

  1. Take the word ‘JOB’ out of your vocabulary until scheduling actual interviews.

An appropriate replacement would be to consider the acronym ‘A.I.R.’  When networking your way to the interview process, seek Advice, Information and referral activity to interact with connections regarding the ‘next right opportunity’ you desire.

  1. Never prematurely create the chance for rejection that you want to avoid

It’s absolutely OK to be perceived as a qualified, motivated and available professional!  JOB seekers  command a yes-no-maybe choice.

  1. Reach out to the majority of your LinkedIn contacts.

Just remember to keep it professional yet personal. See if you can relate to something they’ve written or the job they do to increase your chances of building a solid relationship. You want to be professional in how you respond, but personal so it doesn’t feel so much of an inconvenience or sales pitch to them.

  1. Check with your college alumni network.

Everyone knows someone.  Often, this approach can lead to connections that bring forth new opportunities that lead to your next job. You already have something in common (your alma mater), so it can be easier to connect.

  1. Search for corporate alumni where you used to work and connect with those new individuals.

Again, since you have something in common (previous place of employment), this can work to your benefit. Make this a regular task of your job searching and you’ll be amazed at the new connections you can achieve.

  1. Explore business news stories.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If a company launches a new business, there’s often hiring happening to support it. If a company downsizes, believe it or not, that creates opportunities. Position yourself as a solution and reach out.

  1. Research industry conferences and conventions.

Whether you attend or not, conferences, trade shows, and conventions are nuggets of opportunities to capitalize on. Get familiar with the major ones in your industry and do your due diligence to make connections…a nice little sideline are the hospitality suites many Companies sponsor.

  1. Look up educational and career/professional development events.

Relish in your own personal development.  People who grow and stick together help each other. Do your research to find these but also reach out to others in your industry to get ideas. Simply ask them which events they plan on attending in the near future.

  1. Find professional association members.

Members normally take care of each other. So join these groups, but do more than just joining them; get active. That’s the best way to get noticed and build solid connections.

There are many other ways to secure the next right opportunity for employment and stay off job boards, but these are the most important. And all will require you to get your resume updated and in order.

In every marketplace, there are buyers and sellers.  In the traditional job market, the one that our Department of Labor measures for us, job seekers are the sellers and their potential employers are the buyers.  The commodity is productive work and the competition is fierce.

Remember, in the OTHER Job Market, buyers and sellers hold equal responsibility for the recruitment process.  Each plays an important role in the process.  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 can identify key candidates, sell their Company to new employees in the marketplace… in order to attract the best of the lot.  Once identified, they simply select the ‘top talent’ and buy their services.