Monthly Archives: September, 2013

Two-Way Networking

By Cynthia Sutherland

Do you find job networking productive? You may not be able to control others’ responses to your efforts, but you can guide and influence people. And you can learn how to be more effective by practicing two-way networking.

Hands put over another, from Wikimedia Commons, in the public domain

Hands put over another, from Wikimedia Commons, in the public domain

You may be uncomfortable with networking, that introvert/extrovert thing. But job search is a time when you need to step out of your comfort zone. And career networking must be ongoing these days. It’s a changed work world.

A key is that the target of your networking may not understand the value of networking, mentoring or “paying it forward.” So you need to guide the process. Alternatively, you don’t want to go overboard by using aggressive and self-centered tactics.

It’s helpful to understand what job networking is and is not. Networking is a comfortable conversation with a goal in mind, e.g., gathering job leads and learning how to reach insiders, hiring managers and recruiters.

Job networking is not a cold calling sales technique; that’s a one-way street. Like any interaction, networking is a means to converse, build a relationship, however brief, and provide something in return. It’s a two-way street that answers the “WIFM” – what’s in it for me, your target.

One of the simplest books I’ve read on job search, and networking, is by Orville Pierson. It’s called The Unwritten Rules of Highly Effective Job Search. The most important job search technique Pierson describes is networking, which he says is “just plain talking to people” in the context of a project plan and job target list.

Recently, I was part of a planning group. In a session, a leader surprised me by mentioning being uncomfortable when approached by people “in transition.” The leader I spoke to had risen quickly in a one-company career. (How typical will that be in the future?) “Why?” I asked.

I was told that job seekers cornered leaders at events to ask for help in getting a job. The leaders didn’t know the individuals or their circumstances, so the requests were viewed as awkward. That’s why a two-way conversation is important in networking.

To summarize:

Networking is a “two-way” street: Know when to give and how to take. Remember “WIFM.”
Guide networking targets: Even senior leaders may not be familiar with networking techniques. Plan the interaction; lay groundwork; make it a two-way situation.
Contact people you know first. Build your circle from that. That’s Orville Pierson’s advice.
Use common sense: Follow-up but don’t hound networking targets if they don’t respond.
Do your homework on the organization before contacting a network target.
Know targets’ knowledge of the search process. External/internal recruiters are savvy about the search process. Others may not be, even leaders and hiring managers.
When you land, don’t just move on. Pay it forward. Be open to networking in your new role. And use networking to advance your future career and job choices.

Cynthia Sutherland is a senior human resources professional, focusing primarily on diversity and inclusion and work-life.

© 2013 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved
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Riding the Rush!

by John Buckley

Interview Stress: How to Make It Work for You

As a salesperson, I know the first sale I have to make to every new customer is me. They are asking themselves, “Do I want to do business with this guy? Can I trust him? Do I believe he can/will deliver what is promised?” That sure sounds like an interview doesn’t it? I’ve understood and been comfortable with the need to establish trust/create confidence with prospects for (umm) a few years now.  So, why do I get nervous going on an interview?

Interviews are a sales call. No matter what your resume says, while you are in job search, you are a salesperson.  So, what’s different? Maybe it’s because I am the whole bundle for sale. In a job interview, I’m not just the spokesperson for a company with great products and services, and a seasoned support and service staff to back it up. It’s all… just…me. Just the thought brings the rising chill of stress.

I’ll bet you’ve been there too; sitting in the lobby waiting for your interview with a company on your target list..sweating bullets.  You’ve studied this company front to back, top to bottom. You know their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks. You know you have the skills and cojones to burnish the good and mitigate the bad. You should be stoked to go in there, pound your chest a little and prove it. Well, actually, you are. All that weird dancing in your veins is adrenaline.

Adrenaline is a hormone your body produces in response to stress. It prepares your body to respond to what you in the animal core of your brain perceive as danger. Interviews, while challenging, are not a fight to the death. Since we (hopefully) don’t have predators hunting us, and depending on your idea of fun (skydiving?), you may not be used to the rush of adrenaline or how to make it work for you.

The following tips are copied whole from a landing page for the Interview Success Formula, an online product that promises to make you more effective in an interview. I AM NOT PROMOTING THIS PRODUCT. I don’t know anything more about it than I read on this one page. That being said, their tips on how to handle pre-interview jitters are right on.

Here they are:

First, focus on the job ahead of you. Think about the main points you want to convey during the interview. Anticipate potential questions. Then envision yourself successfully responding. Imagine yourself asking specific questions, and the interviewer’s positive response to them. In short, review what you want to do, and envision yourself being successful while you do it.

Second, believe in your message. When people are fighting for causes they believe in, their passion helps them to overcome their nerves. You too can embrace passion. Believe in how this job will benefit you.* Recognize the opportunity you have, and believe this opportunity is worth fighting for.

Believe in your ability to deliver on the job. You have the talent to perform, or you wouldn’t have even made it to the job interview.  Prove it in the interview. Don’t let your nerves cause you to give up without a fight.

Third, take back control of your body. Concentrate on your breathing by keeping it deep and slow. Calmly breathe in for a slow count to five, then slowly breathe out for the same five-count. Do this for a full two minutes. Move your body to a confident position. Sit up straight and tall. Let your head match and be straight and forward. Move your hands into the power-pose. Let your finger-tips touch and push your palms apart.

Fourth, try to break the tension. Smile to yourself. Think of a funny situation and have a private laugh. Before you walk in, do the ‘hokey pokey’ or ‘shake it out’. In the waiting room, look around you and try to find humor in the situation. For instance picture every person in the room being a type of dog and what that dog would look.

Finally, never let the nerves be an excuse to under-prepare for your interview. Never say, “why bother trying? I’m just going be a nervous wreck the minute I walk through the door.” Invest the time to prepare the right way, and you will find yourself like the athlete in the big game. Your mind will know what to do, and you will know what to say.

* ”Believe in how this job will benefit you.” OK, fine. But, you also want to believe in your heart and be ready to articulate how you will benefit the job/company/boss. You are the answer to all THEIR problems!  You will make all THEIR wildest dreams come true!

“…opportunity is worth fighting for.”  “Don’t…give up without a fight.” Or, “Why bother trying (Run away!)?”

You’ve heard the term “fight-or-flight.” That’s what adrenaline prepares your body to do. That’s why you think the thoughts above. Most animals respond by instinct. We, being the highly evolved species we are, get to choose.

If you know what you want, if you have prepared for it, and, now that you know what the hell is going on in your belly, the choice is easy.

Go knock ‘em dead!  Figuratively, please!

 

So, how do you feeeel about this? I’d love to hear from you.  Please comment below.

John Buckley is a senior sales and marketing professional with experience in lead generation, business development, account management, sales training and support, and customer service in technology related businesses and services.

5 REASONS TO JOIN A JOB SEARCH WORK TEAM

What is a job search work team?  Those were my thoughts several months into my job search.  People would talk about them but not really explain why they joined, or why I should too.

Job Search Circle (JSC) had a training session about the time I decided my job search wasn’t working too well and I needed to make changes.  I contacted Shelley Reiger for information on the training session.  I am VERY glad I made that call.

Here is what I learned, and why I decided to join the JSC job search work teams.

Process to the job search.   The job search can be very long and lonely.  There will be hours spent on the computer searching the job boards, finding former co-workers on LinkedIn and just trying to figure out the best place to try to find a job.

But are these the best uses of my time?   That’s what a job search work team helps you figure out.  There is a “process” to the job search that will have you focus on the most productive ways to spend your time…and it may surprise you that the computer may not be your best friend in job search!

I was all about learning how to do the job search more effectively.  That’s the primary reason I joined!

Commitment.  The job search work team will help me stay committed to the search.  There will be anywhere from 5-10 people that “have your back”.  They can be on the lookout for interesting jobs/job boards or help you get contacts within your target companies.

Most groups will ask a few things in return.  Come to the meeting on time, or let them know you will not be there. Most people only cancel for family or job interviews.  Privacy and openness….what you discuss in the group, stays in the group.

The group becomes your support group.  I know my family and friends mean well, but they usually don’t get the new job search methods.   I know that my job search work team gets it and will help me when I need it!

Land a job faster.  It is a proven, well documented fact that people who join a job search work team will land a job faster than those that go it alone.   The group really wants you to succeed.  They work with you to overcome weak areas in your job search.  And, they help you celebrate when land.

 Idea Generator.   A  job search work team calls this the “parking lot”. The parking lot is a list of questions, comments, problems that came up during the week that I need help getting answers to.

Chances are that if I am having a problem with an issue, there are others in the group that struggle with the issue too.  The topics range from easy (“what events are coming up for networking” ),  to hard (“should I go back to school?).

Again, the group decides the topics each week.  Some of them may come up often, others may be once and done.  These discussions are meant to help the members move forward in their job search.   I have found the different perspectives within the group to be very valuable.  The group has helped me with interviewing, the best way to reach an unknown contact and examples of writing a great cover letter.

Re-enforcement.  The job search can be long and lonely.  I know that the group is there to re-enforce the strengths I have already developed and tell me that I am not my job search!   I have a lot to give any organization that hires me.  It’s a question of finding the right opportunity.  It’s just one more place I can go to for support.

While there may be many reasons to join a job search work team, these were my reasons!  Consider joining a JSC job search work team today!  Check out the website for specific days and times, or call Shelley Reiger to find a team near you.

DSC01418-ed2-small

Janet Harlow is an active member of JSC and belongs to the Arlington Heights Friday morning JSWT.   She has been a co-leader for 3 months.

Impending Acquisition or Merger and Your Job Security

By: Susan J. Anderson, CC – Communications Specialist

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/susanjanderson1/

Listen to your inner voice if your senses indicate changes are coming in your workplace. The owner of a small business is regularly escorting guests through the building. In a corporate setting, multiple visitors are on site long-term in a conference room. Members of upper management exit a business.

Frequently, the next step is to gather everyone into the largest space on premise for a major announcement. A change has occurred and everyone hearing this message still has a job. Even if you were able to decipher the telltale signs, this news is alarming. There is comfort in the current routine – a familiar commute, likeable co-workers and the same cubicle. “Please, not this!”, you might think.

As a veteran of four mergers or acquisitions, I would counsel anyone in this situation to be wary and update one’s resume. Experience has made me wiser. A trend I’ve noticed is that middle management and the sales force are the first to be culled. They are replaced with individuals chosen by the new organization. Face the fact that your position could be eliminated or changed.

A decision could be made that you must re-apply for the job you have in order to stay in the organization. Should you be “re-hired”, your salary may be lower and your workload increased. The new group is spending substantial amounts of money for the business transaction just announced. Saving costs elsewhere is their objective. You don’t want the savings to be at your expense.

I would urge anyone in this position not to remain in a job with an uncertain future. Will you be employed tomorrow?

The solution is to take control of your destiny and begin your job search sooner rather than later. The winds of change are blowing through the organization. Be prepared. If your job is spared, good for you! Should you secure other employment, a fresh opportunity of your choice will be the reward for making the decision to act.

Susan J. Anderson, CC is a Communications Professional, Blogger, Business Writer, Copywriter and Speaker.

2013 Blog to Work – Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

The Rest of Our Story

By Deb Bryan

Following the 1929 stock market crash and a severe drought that withered crops and killed farm animals, it made life on the farm exceptionally brutal through 1939.  Farmers by the scores lost their farms.  Fortunately, by being constantly frugal, Louis and Norma managed to save their farm.  This experience marked them and their children for life.  Spending money was done cautiously from then on.  The breadth of experiences we had on the farm has served us well.  We can improvise at the blink of an eye.    – Norma Jean (1975)

Following the 2007 economic downturn, companies lost the ability to support their product and employees so they asked them to leave.  Suddenly, a steady stream of people found themselves without a place to be Monday through Friday, 9 to 5.  Life became confusing and pitiless to folks of all ages, educational background, and status.  Families, communities, and cities lost their way of life.  Homes became houses that were simply liabilities, or worse, objects for those who preyed on others during bad times.  Professionals and blue collar workers struggle with subsistence living and work whatever job they can find.  And here is the rest of their story _______________.

Similarities between 1929 and now are striking.  The only thing left for each of us is to fill in the blank of our story.  So we are going to train our eyes not on what we see, but on what is yet to come as the leaders we are.  From our history books, we see this time period will not last forever.  It is only temporary.  The future is yet to be but it will be our story history books and families will write and tell about.  You and I need one strategic decision before us; not grand sweeping plans because the future is too complicated.  And then we need to work the plan.

We are Americans; the prodigy of those who came here for freedom and a chance to do something for theirs and their families lives.  People, who are still coming here just for those very same reasons, find this place amazing with opportunities that stretch before them.  Despite media bad mouthing, this is still the land of possibilities and freedoms yet to be understood by other lands.  Come on, let us who are American sons and daughters of freedom lovers light the way.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

I found a penny the other day.  On it the words, “In God We Trust” was written.  Daylight’s burning.  Get your work shoes on and let’s get going.

Don’t Neglect Long-Term Financial Goals

By Tim Klepaczyk

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/timklepaczyk/

Most people are unable to contribute to long-term investments when in career transition.  More often they’re scrambling to find the funds to cover expenses.  Few people have such a low overhead that it is not a concern.

public domain image

public domain image

However, you still need to pay attention to your long-term financial goals.  If you have the means and have been smart you will be prepared beforehand with a “rainy day” fund – several months of ready cash in a money market or savings account.  This helps avoid selling any investments or cashing out of a 401k plan, which only adds to the cost of a jobless period.  Unfortunately, not everyone is so well-prepared.  Even if you are, there are still more financial tips to consider.

A company-sponsored 401k plan that matches a portion of your contribution is generally one’s best investment option while employed.  One should take advantage of such a plan first.  Your second-best option is generally a Roth IRA.  Any additional savings should go to a Roth IRA next.

While loss of a job will end a company-sponsored 401k plan, and cash flow needs may require suspension of Roth IRA contributions, the Roth IRA is still available to you.  If you have additional after-tax investments you should consider selling and transferring enough to continue maximizing your Roth IRA contributions.  Although your net worth (disregarding investment returns) will remain flat, you gain the benefit of no tax on the investments in the Roth IRA.  Remember though if possible to sell investments that will balance capital gains and losses to avoid extra taxes.

These are a couple of valuable investment lessons I have learned from transition periods.  Put them to good use to minimize the impact of a career transition period on your financial situation.

Tim Klepaczyk is an RF & microwave engineer with over 20 years of experience in applications & sales and product design & validation.  He also loves writing.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Lean In to Job Search

I have not read Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, but I have read enough about it that I feel I can safely play off of her concept for my purpose in this post today.

We deeply dislike uncertainty, we find comfort in knowing where we are, what is expected of us, and where we are going.  Job search then, is a state that we loathe for this reason alone let alone all of the other reasons.  We lean away from it, do our best to pretend that we are not in it.

DSC03321

The thing about avoidance, leaning out, is that it closes our minds and hearts.  We just want ‘normal life’ – a set place to go to work, money to pay our bills, etc. – to resume.  But avoidance in this state could quite possibly lead to prolonging it.  So here is where I put my own spin on the Lean In concept.

Find some means within yourself to open up, just leave some little space to the idea that you could learn and grow during this period.  Resilience is a characteristic that you want to cultivate within yourself right now.

Sure there is plenty about job search that is hard to take, but now isn’t the time to grumble about it.  If you are competitive, use that to get through one of the tasks that you find most onerous – do it better, or faster than the last time that you did it.  If you are the person who knows how things are done – read up, talk to folks in the know and get back into your preferred position of knowledge.

You’re a smart person, you get where I am going with this – I know that you do.  Make mincemeat out of this job search stage – own it.  I know that you can – and by owning it, you might not be in it quite as long.

Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

“Up in the Air” – A Good Thing?

By Cynthia Sutherland

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Michael Jordan

(Michael Jordan Statue, United Center, by T.H. Shriver, from Wikimedia Commons, in the public domain)

(Michael Jordan Statue, United Center, by T.H. Shriver, from Wikimedia Commons, in the public domain)

I’m not really a professional team sports fan. But I’m from Chicago. So I learned a little about the talent and success of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. I was also fortunate to personally see Michael Jordan up in the air. I saw him play in person several times during his winning seasons.

There’s nothing like experiencing someone’s skills, and success, first hand – unless they’re your own.

And when I read Jordan’s quote I also thought of my current job search – and life planning – activities. My search is affecting my whole life (and my choices). It certainly makes me feel like I’m “up in the air.” Yet that’s been more positive than not.

I identify with Michael Jordan’s efforts to hone his skills AND his courage to follow his dream. Do many of us do that as we go along in life, or do we just adapt?

Jordan was told early in his career that he would never become a great basketball player. Like him in this way, I was striving to succeed and move forward with the career and life I wanted. But with a job change, I’m making voluntary shifts in my thinking and preferences.

At the beginning, I pursued professional education and certifications to update my human resources professional skills. As current as you may think you are, there’s always more to learn about your profession. It felt good to achieve that.

But being in job search provided more time, and the will, to plan what I really wanted next, not just seek my next job or sameness. For me, my job search effort has become more about the journey than the destination.

Yes, I am spending time re-tooling my job skills and competencies. And I’ve learned some necessary job search techniques. That’s a constant process. Beyond that, I’m re-calibrating my life goals, or maybe the timing. Change changes you.

Now I’m taking the opportunity to pursue a variety of jobs that I was drawn to previously but didn’t really consider, including working on my own. I’m also re-evaluating if/when I prefer to retire, how I can give back to my community, looking at short-term jobs, writing (always wanted to do that), and taking more time with key relationships. Re-invention is fun and invigorating.

It really is freeing to review your life in mid-stream. I’m sure that you’ve heard that once the job search is concluded, people say that “I’m in a better place than I was before.” Or they hope they are. Sometimes that’s a better or different job, small personal shifts, or it can mean deliberately jumping toward a different career or life choice. That’s what I’m doing now.

Cynthia Sutherland is a senior human resources professional, focusing primarily on diversity and inclusion and work-life.
© 2013 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Business Cards and Pockets

Many things about the job search are difficult and challenging. On some days, they can be intimidating and make you want to take the day off. So for a day when you don’t want to take on the whole ball of wax, here is something small. Something that, yes, you can do today. To get yourself ready to move forward.

 P1010165 business card in pocket - smaller

                         

By Cynthia Simmons

I heard a good tip: When you are going to a business meeting, have one pocket where you store your business cards, and another pocket to store the cards you receive. And maybe even practice removing your business card from your pocket and handing it to someone.  (Like a gunslinger, I wonder? Practicing a quick draw? But at any rate, you will be prepared to deliver your business card wherever it may be effective!)

Women may need to give pockets some extra thought, because we often have fewer of them.  Pockets can interrupt the smooth lines of a nice business dress. They can create bulges and wrinkles and because of that pockets are often sewn shut, for fashion’s sake.

But consider, ladies, pockets are essential in your job search. Whether employed or not, selectively or actively seeking your next employer, an immaculate cut and tight tailoring may leave you with no place to store the business cards you hope to be giving out and receiving back.

So, ladies, where will you keep your business cards? In a case inside of your purse? Could you find yourself suddenly excavating a myriad of embarrassing grooming and personal items. Perhaps you’ll find yourself living the song “Shit” by folksinger Kat Eggleston, where she lists the many lost and forgotten things now residing in her purse. (Hopefully, she exaggerates!)

Gentlemen too need to consider their pockets. Hopefully for them, it will be less cumbersome. But it is equally important.

Circuitous and frivolous language aside, consider your pockets and your business cards. This is important. Much of the process of seeking a new job is serious and difficult. Make this one thing that is easy. Be prepared and always have your business cards with you, wherever you go.

Cynthia Simmons is a writing professional with a background in publishing, non-profit marketing communications, and public relations. She received a Copyediting Certificate from the University of California (online), December 2012 and an Editing Certificate from the University of Chicago Graham School, June 2011.

It’s Construction Season! Signs

By Deb Bryan

Reconstruction Program

There are times when you choose change and there are times when changes are forced upon you, and, your attitude is really the only thing you have control over.  So if you like choice, decide for choosing your attitude.  And match those attitude changes to give you the best cotton pick’n, determined, all American go-get-em attitude you can muster up!

Expect Delays

Delays and ambiguity are an essential part of life.  Little gets done in the exciting moments of the breakthrough.  The delay is just the creative work phase.  Fight for originality, be imaginative, and use your genius to keep the vision exciting.  Don’t give up, for who knows the highways that are just about to open up.

Curve Ahead

Bet on it!  Businesses hire us to solve problems.  If we don’t solve problems and overcome obstacles we are not worth the hire.  Right now, they can afford to be picky but if we learn to deal with the curve balls and the long stretch, we will be the picky ones next time.  Plan for it, pray over it, and decide, “I eat problems for snacks”.  Bet you can’t eat just one?!

Work Zone Ahead

Get yourself dressed for success by putting on your work shoes.  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart.  Take courage, take risks and make the shrewdest choices possible, knowing that success is inevitable if we don’t cave.  “It ain’t over until it’s over”, said Yogi Berra, Manager for the NY Yankees.

Approve of yourself.  Give yourself permission to be what you see or make changes until you can see value.  Don’t live another person’s life.  Stop trying so hard to have an impact on others and start working on beliefs you want to be held accountable to.  See the value in the life you are constructing.  When you reach the point where you hold yourself personally accountable, your road will open up for infinite possibilities.

Public Domain

Public Domain

Highway’s Open?   When you reach the point where you hold yourself personally accountable, your road will open up for infinite possibilities.