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.

To Tweak Or NOT To Tweak, THAT…

Compass-seaL THAT’s a huge question to address as a job seeker’s search wears on.

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.


Thursday, September 19th…WRITING’s For The READER… what’s YOUR story?   guest presenter, Joy Perkins, will be digging more deeply into the what to tweak when you tweak your communication strategies.


bob-maher-4587-editSo, 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.  This part of the process HAS TO HAPPEN before you launch you job search…

And it could happen if your initial strategies are not well received in the market… Your “story” may evolve as your search plays out… Time to TWEAK!

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!

Within your network, as you seek Advice, Information, and Referrals… NOT a j.o.b., you will get a LOT of direction, sometimes creating conflict and chaos… You can let it overwhelm you, or you can pick and choose what you want to factor in, and let everything else fall to the wayside…

This is an over-simplification, but it’s truly that simple. Once you see others’ advice as something you can take rather than something you have to take, the pressures off, and you can make decisions that align with your values.

This also frees you up to make the more challenging decisions based on cumulative feedback that you have heard and listened to from the job market…  specifically influencing tweaks to your original communication strategies…

The more collective ‘advice and information,’ the better!  Keep your written and verbal strategies in sync and dynamic, an evolutionary process.

Remember, too, that the traditional marketplace’s over-reliance and obsession with keywords is what drives your dynamic need for feedback on your resume.  Besides, you should be constantly tweaking your market-ready resume to stay in sync with actual job descriptions and other opportunities.

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.

Beyond Your NOTION of FIT

A Good ScoutBe prepared!  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  After all, the Boy Scouts have been teaching this idea to kids for over 100 years.

So why in the world would most job seekers show up for an interview unprepared? You see it all the time—they dash in from the parking lot with no particular plan on how to engage their potential employer. Or they relentlessly work the phones only to discover that they’ve offered nothing more than hollow chitchat.

So why IS it that job seekers fail to prepare?


THIS WEEK’s Session, Thursday, August 29…  Closing The Deal II:  Discussion and PRACTICE of good interviewing tactics, including POST-Offer negotiation


chalk1Because it is easier to talk about you, your company and your products than it is to prepare to have a conversation about THEM!

Here’s the big question: what are you doing to prepare that if your next employer knew you were doing it, they would be more inclined to have an open and honest dialogue with you?  The next time you meet with a prospect or client, open the conversation with this simple phrase:

“In preparing for this meeting I took some time to discover a few things that would allow me to succeed in this role…” Then simply highlight the two or three critical things that you did to prepare and watch what happens to the atmosphere of the call. You will blow away the last interviewee (your competition) who opened their meeting in silence, waiting to be interrogated!

The less you talk about yourself, the more you have to prepare to talk about them. In the nine-box matrix, it’s about meeting their expectations!  And the more you talk about them, the more likely they will be interested in you. Back to our matrix, it’s about creating the allusive BUYING SIGNAL, and mitigating any risks about a good FIT.

Not exactly the secret formula you were hoping for. But it is an obvious formula—so obvious that most job seekers ignore it.

Here are ten keys that you can use to create your own successful interview habits:

  1. Learn about their business—their products/services, customers, industry trends, key initiatives, financial status, and competition.
  2. Discover something about the person you are meeting with. Google them, talk to their colleagues, or call others in the industry who have insights. Use a targeted organization networking approach.
  3. Plan questions that establish your expertise and get them to think in new ways. The more thought provoking your questions are, the more your prospective employers will respect and remember you!
  4. Identify the benefits of your value to this potential employer. Your value proposition needs to be clear, concise, credible and compelling!
  5. Prepare ideas that hold value for your ‘next employer.’ Your language needs to reflect a focus on solutions…meeting their needs!
  6. Communicate an outline of your meeting prior to the actual interview. Ask them to review and provide you with feedback. Getting their buy-in before you walk in the door is critical, and it demonstrates your commitment to delivering value.
  7. Identify the resistance that you are most likely to encounter and prepare ideas, case studies, testimonials or expert opinions to help reduce their reluctance to move forward.  OVER-qualified?  No INDUSTRY experience…
  8. Plan how you will close the interview appointment and decide what agreements you need to ask for.
  9. Remind yourself to be friendly and courteous to everyone that you encounter. Your potential employer is constantly deciding how much they like you, how much they trust you and how much confidence they have in you.
  10. BE CONFIDENT in your PRE-Offer and POST-Offer negotiation approaches.  It takes time—often a long time—to build your personal brand. And it takes only a few seconds for it to be destroyed.

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.”