Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Competency #12: I can find 10-20 hours a week to conduct a part-time job search

 My mentor-emeritus, Dick Bolles, author of many books, but most known for the What Color is Your Parachute books, is always so wise when it comes to all facets of the job search process.  This holds true for one of my favorite books, his The Job Hunter’s Survival Guide – a fast read at 96 pages.  It’s packed with facts, hard truths, and no-nonsense advice, including this competency.

Did you know the average length of unemployment is 20.1 weeks and climbing?  Lots of people have been out of work longer than 27 weeks. As Dick says, “if you’re out of work, better be prepared for the long haul. Better to be safe, than sorry.”

Conduct is a verb, an action-oriented word.  This means your job search is an active process.  The reverse would be true (right?)- it is NOT a passive process.

So….think about how you spend your time.  Do you have a spare 10-20 hours to devote searching? Of course you do.  Yes, it’s true.  That’s about 1-3 hours a day. Can’t do it?  Well, take a look at how the average person over 15 years of age spends their leisure time on an average day at the bottom of this post.

Assume that finding work in your job. Work as though everything depended on You.
Even if you are currently employed, and looking for another job, you can find time in your day to search, network and prepare for your next job.  After all, it’s much easier to find another job when you’re employed.

In Dick Bolles’s words,
“Be willing to work hard on your job-hunt. Don’t just give it ‘a lick and a promise’, and then give up. Working hard means time and persistence.  Lots and lots of time. Days, weeks, months. And be smart in your use of time.  Learn a lot during this period.  Learn which job-hunting methods have the highest success rate, and which have the lowest.  Invest your time accordingly.”

Besides, if you are unemployed, what’s your excuse?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Competency #11: I can gain support of family and friends for making a job or career change

Nothing is more important than the support of your most trusted “inner circle” as you navigate your future.  Most people think they are in this process alone, but in actuality, “no man (woman) is an island” and this is never truer than when you’re considering a career change.   You can’t and shouldn’t do it alone, people!

In this age of social media where seemingly everyone is connected seamlessly (and unknowingly), your ability to both seek and find career opportunities has never been easier.  What will be necessary, though, is to understand how to seek and ask for support. Also, know and accept that this is part of managing your career. You are your own best friend, remember?

If you’re like so many people, you may be reluctant to ask even your closest friends for advice, information about careers they’re familiar with, or people/family/friends who may know about or know someone who does know about a job/career area you might be interested in- let alone strangers! FEAR NOT! There are many low-risk ways to go about this.

I once attended a workshop designed to assist job seekers that included the most amazing activity that I must share it with you!  Dick Gaither (look him up- he’s pretty special) was discussing how to find contacts, even when you know no one in your community.  We discussed how FEAR and pride keep most people from contacting strangers (or friends/relatives) for advice, information and support, so he directed every participant in the workshop to spend the afternoon, locate a local company, and ask to speak to the hiring manager.  If we were asked why, Dick explained, we were simply to say that we’re on assignment for a class we’re taking and that we need 5 minutes of the manager’s time so that we could ask a couple of questions.  Dick said that 99% of the time, we would be successful.  We were instructed to ask the manager one question:  what do you most look for when hiring people at your company?

Of course, everyone was from “out-of-town” and didn’t know where go.  Dick left that up to us- get in our cars, and drive until we found something.  To assuage our fear, he promised to meet up with us later at the bar for a beer and a debrief, AND casually mentioned something about not accepting a job offer if our hiring manager offered us a job. (Yes, it really does happen).

I found K-Mart down the street.  I was able to easily access the manager, and not only did I complete my assignment, but I made a great contact.  I sought out support. The manager was so impressed that he asked me if I knew anyone I could refer.

So…you get the point.  Simple. Low-risk. High reward. I occasionally “assign” this activity to my more reticent clients.

Family is often a different matter.  Expectations, obligations, fear, pride, and self-confidence all play a part in the dynamics of asking for support.  What are you afraid of? Support doesn’t have to be much.  It can be as simple as a pat on the back, and as complex as a series of telephone contacts to people-who-know-your-people.  (Of course, that’s the principle of LinkedIn- professionals helping other professionals). 

Take a dive into the deep(er) end of the pool and seek/obtain the support (guidance, counsel, job leads, devil’s advocate, etc.) today.  You owe it to yourself, and you can’t do it alone.  It’s the right step towards moving in the right direction.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Competency #10: I can specify why employers should hire me

This competency speaks to the essential question and lies at the very foundation of your value to any organization.  Yet, most job seekers cannot answer that question.  Why?  Several reasons come to mind: haven’t done the thinking work, haven’t tried to write it down, want someone else to tell them, and haven’t internalized their worth- haven’t believed in themselves. Additionally, listening to the media tell us that there aren’t any jobs (absolutely not true- there are always jobs for those with the skills employers are looking for!) doesn’t help and almost always adds to a sense of despair.

First and foremost, you have to believe.  Believe you are “hire- ready”. Believe you are a super hero.  Believe you walk on water, run with the wolves, tell the best joke, win the championship, best your score, win the bake-off, be the American Idol, create a masterpiece, and…..nail the interview- be the last one standing!  Almost every client I’ve worked with has marveled at how much HOPE I have for them. And once permission is granted to believe in themselves, and come to recognize their unique talents, an amazing thing happens: people start believing in themselves, too.

Beyond the certainty that you can do it, you’ll need to become your own coach, and chalk it, talk it, then walk it.

Chalk it- write it down.  Why should you hire me?  I’m ____, have done _____, want to do______, can’t live without_______, why you’d kill to hire me_______

Talk it- say the words out loud.  Sing them, cry them, shout them, and announce them

Walk it – practice by working them into conversations with whoever will listen- hairdresser, neighbor, friend, relative, coach; then conduct low-risk informational interviews to practice walking it

Most employers also want their candidates to ask for the job. Who knew?  Employers say most candidates don’t act like they want the job, so if you ask, you’ll let them know you really do want them to hire you, the Superhero.