Input OVERLOAD

roadsign-banner2Many 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 youSo, how can you ensure another ‘second opinion’ doesn’t cloud your judgement?


NEXT WEEK’s Session, Thursday, April 18th… Achieving CareerFIT: Understanding why Step #1, ASSESSMENT, leads to setting your career objectives, job search offer criteria, and determination of communication strategies.


bob-maher-4587-editFirst 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.  Lean on your A-List connections (people you already know)…

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!

 And that brings us to Step#4, once you are satisfied with a market-ready resume, share it with your references, coaching them to be in sync with your communication strategies.  Your references should know you well, better than any other editorial resource available to you.

Advertisements

Leave a STRONGER Digital Footprint

chalk1Creating visibility for yourself through posted “white papers” or blogging can be very useful if you’re looking for work. On the LinkedIn platform, such ‘activity’ will contribute to your serach page rank.  Blogging can give you that edge over other candidates…without taking any of the original fun out of it!


NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, March 28th… GUEST PRESENTER Locke Alderson will be exploring your use of LinkedIn, your GPS to networking… bring your laptop!


Here’s how blogging can land you your next job. It can help you:..

1. Stand out
When a recruiter or potential employer searches your name, your blog will be one of the first things to come up, increasing your online visibility.  Unlike your resume or cover letter, a blog presents tangible evidence of what you can do, or how you think. See it as your online portfolio, with examples of your work readily available to whoever wishes to see it…visible and tangible evidence of your strengths.

This kind of exposure constitutes a valuable addition to your professional profile and will make you stand out to employers.

2. Gain new skills
Blogging can help you develop many online skills. Besides the obvious – but extremely useful – ones like writing, research and communication skills, there are also more technical skills to gain.

You can gain hands-on experience working with a content management system by using a platform like WordPress; learn about the marketing side of things – for example how to use SEO – or try your hand at visual design creating your own, customized blog template.

3. Build your network
Your blog can help you to connect to others who are as passionate about the topics you’re writing about as you are, allowing you to build up a relevant network of contacts.  And, if you blog regularly, and people begin to ‘follow’ you, you’ll be developing a powerful, influential ‘networking machine.’

Following other bloggers and engaging with their content is a great way to attract visitors, while promoting your blog on your social media channels can also help to boost engagement.

4. Stay up to date
The more you integrate yourself within the online community surrounding your preferred field or topic, the easier it will be to stay in the loop of the latest news or developments.

Being able to show a thorough understanding of the state of the industry you are applying to will be looked upon favorably by employers while also providing a confidence boost for when you go in for an interview or start your new role.

5. Show rather than tell
There is only so much you can convey to a recruiter or potential employer through your CV or cover letter, and the emphasis tends to lie in key achievements and experience over strengths and personal attributes.

Blogging allows you to showcase those things that need to be seen to be believed. Your creativity, dedication and passion to learn can all easily be conveyed through your blog by how often you post updates and the care that goes into each one.

It may take more time than occasionally updating your CV and cover letter, but running a personal blog is definitely an investment worth making. As tangible evidence of your capabilities and personality, it can get you that crucial one step ahead of other applicants.

…and the by-product of your efforts…

You will be building your comfort and confidence in the use of social media, like more participation in LinkedIn Groups of your peers.

Your TOOLKIT For The OTHER Job Market

chalk1Embracing The OTHER Job Market does not require black magic, just a bit of confidence in yourself.  The best thing about this black-hole-free job search approach is that when you start to reach hiring managers directly, you’ll be in more substantive conversations right away than the typical HR screening process allows.

That’s because your hiring manager, a/k/a “The Person With the NEED to be addressed,” isn’t hung up on your certifications and years of experience with random tools.


NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, March 21st… an examination of the 3rd party world of recruitment: WHO Do You Trust?


bob-maher-4587-editWith the hiring authority, you have an opportunity to talk about what really matters, whatever NEED the job requisition was designed to alleviate, when you’re talking directly with the person who’s actually losing sleep over the budget shortfall or the customer exodus or whatever is rotten in Denmark.

Here’s your toolkit for stepping up from tradition, “Black Hole job-hunting” to take your career into your own hands, and reach out to hiring managers who are facing exactly the sort of business pain you can solve.

Having a GREAT Resume

There’s no sense creating a direct channel for your message if you’re planning to deliver a robot-speak “gag-me-with-a-spoon” -type resume to your hiring manager. In order to make your direct approach count, you’ve got to come across as human on paper.

An “Echo” Letter of Introduction

An echo letter of introduction is a snail-mail letter that goes directly from you to one hiring manager in one employer. It is personal, in the sense that you’ve learned enough to say something insightful about what the employer is doing, where they might be running into rough seas, and how your background relates to the hiring manager’s most likely business need.

Your ECHO LETTER of Introduction reduces the awkwardness of your follow-up, cold call… gives you BOTH something to talk about.  And the best part is that it doesn’t prematurely expose you to the more traditional YES-No-maybe judgement!

A Need Solving LinkedIn Profile

…One that is in sync with your resume to be requested and read.  If your hiring manager opens your letter and reads it, the first thing s/he’s likely to do is find your LinkedIn profile. (You will have listed your profile url at the top of your resume, just under your email address, so your LinkedIn profile will be easy to find.)

Fodder for your Echo Letter of Introduction

You’ll need to find the name of your hiring manager on LinkedIn, an easy thing to do unless the firm you’re approaching is IBM or another corporate behemoth. You can use LinkedIn to search on the company name and the title of the person you’d typically report to (Materials Director, e.g.) and get your hiring manager’s name quickly.

Need a HOOK?  Get one from the Company website.  Lastly, you’ll need the company’s mailing address, which will be on the company’s website, too.

Embracing The OTHER Job Market

The last thing you need to approach The OTHER Job Market effectively is a willingness to step out of the standard “I’m a Good Little Jobseeker” frame. Sometimes, this is the hardest part of the process.

Once you realize that even if the hiring manager hates your letter or if a fearful HR person, affronted by your direct approach, blacklists you from employment in that firm forever, you will still be fine. No one is going to come to your house and slash your tires because you sent a guy a letter that said “Maybe you have this kind of issue going on. A lot of people do. Maybe I’ve run into that kind of thing before. Maybe we should talk.”

But Bob, I was told not to contact the hiring manager directly!

You are an adult and a professional. Are you taking orders now from people you don’t know who also aren’t paying you?

But, Bob, what if my failure to follow the rules gets me in trouble with that company?

Would you consider for three seconds working in a place where the act of sending a fellow businessperson a letter with a stamp on it gets you cast out and exiled? If you were banished from the kingdom for that heinous infraction in business etiquette, you would have dodged a big old bullet.

NETWORKING is a contact sport!.

We know that lots of employers have to step up their game and bring a human voice to the recruiting machine. The good news is that it’s easy to do.

In the meantime, job-seekers can sidestep the dysfunctional, traditional system and have pain-and-pain-solving conversations with hiring managers any time they’re

 

WAVE TWO: Networking IN To A Company of Interest

JigSaw-partnershipWhat is the most critical skill to one’s  CAREER success – yet also the most elusive? Time management? Discipline?  Professionalism?  Reliability?  Yes, these are all desired personal traits and work habits, but rarely SEARCHED for.

How about the more functionally significant skills, like Strategic thinking? Decision making? Business acumen or intuitive ability to forecast and budget effectively?


This week’s Session, Thursday, February 14th… Turning Opportunities Into INTERVIEWS: Networking IN to a targeted organization


bob-maher-4587-editNo. While these are all important, they pale in comparison to communication skills, BOTH personal and professional: Attentive listening, asking relevant questions, showing empathy, and knowing how to handle difficult communications are the most critical to career success.  They are vital to building healthy relationships, exchanging ideas, sharing feelings, gaining buy-in, setting clear expectations, and working collaboratively.

The lack of these skills is at the root of most conflicts, employee performance issues, failed projects, and lost opportunities…JOBS????

You can be a subject matter expert, but if you can’t communicate your ideas, your ideas are of little value. You can have a great value proposition, branding, for the future, but if you can’t get people to buy into it, your vision doesn’t matter. You can be a masterful manager, but if you can’t reassure or empathize with your clients, they will seek help elsewhere.

You might have a skill set/experience to sell, but if you can’t articulate a compelling value proposition, you won’t find many takers. Your ability to communicate determines your success at work or home.

How do you rate your current communication’s skills?  And, more importantly, how do you improve them to enhance job search or career transition SUCCESS?

A famous coach, of Green Bay Packer fame, spoke frankly when he said, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” Mr. Lombardi’s intent was CLEAR. He wanted his players to concentrate on PRACTICE, drilling on the “little things”, the basics, so that they became instinct during the heat of real life.

Such is productive mindset during any career transition, specifically related to your ability to relate your well positioned “story” to others, answer questions effectively, conduct productive negotiations, and, fine tune your personal marketing skills.

THE BASICS

So what are those basics that will allow you to effectively network to identify appropriate opportunities, and then secure the requisite INTERVIEWS in order to “close the deal?”

  1. “Tell me about yourself.”  Practice your two minute drill every chance you get…. it’s the fundamental building material of your communication strategy–your verbal personal marketing collaterals!
  2. Practice your exit and qualification statements… most all potential employers and networking contacts will want to know your current situation and why you are available.
  3. Practice answering both common and tough questions… including pre-offer negotiation tactics. The most asked question during career transition is, “Tell me about yourself.” Appropriate use of your two-minute drill and related verbal strategies, your “verbal collaterals,” is a key ingredient to personal marketing…
  • A verbal resume… A tightly focused, upbeat telling of “your story” told in a high impact two minute format. With practice, can be easily personalized to your listener.
  • An “elevator pitch”… A succinct summary of your qualifications for a specifically positioned function or opportunity. With practice, can become quite spontaneous.
  • A qualification statement that can be used in introducing yourself

Let’s not forget a couple of additional ‘collaterals’ that will help you round out your ability to ‘get the word out’ and serve as evidence of your qualifications.

  1. Brag bytes… Wordcraft various collections of words, phrases and sentences to capture memorable moments or accomplishments–the best you have to offer. “…saved 80% cost-perhire…” Used in MSWord, ‘Quick Parts’ can be quite efficient when building high impact correspondence as well.
  2. Personal Portfolio… Your collection of certificates, examples of work, reference letters, etc that can bring life and interest (not to mention PROOF) to your story.

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!