Author Archive: AC365

Eight Positive Aspects of Being in Job Search

Although you may need to remind yourself of them, there are some positive aspects to being in job search.  Have you experienced these yet?

1. Everything you learn in this phase will remain helpful to you(after you land your next role).

Any credentials you earn, any new contacts that you meet, anyone that you’ve spent time with and shared “what you are looking for,” remain valid and useful for as long as you keep them active.  If you (unfortunately) find yourself unemployed again soon, your new job search will start from a much stronger position than your prior search.

2. You have more time to develop yourself by either fine-tuning old skills, or learning new ones.

In addition to bringing your skills up-to-date, any classes, or certifications you complete demonstrate how you have kept busy while unemployed.

3. You recognize that every day’s effort is important to your progress.

Although this is true every day of your life, in job search you need to be strengthening your network, skills, and/or visibility each day to prevent inertia from setting in.  “The status quo” is not welcome in job search: consistent activity is needed to influence the change in your employment status.

Public Domain Image.

Public Domain Image.

4. It is easier to spend more time with family and friends. 

I was able to spend several days helping a friend package up and move  boxes and home items as he prepared to move to another state.  We had many laughs as we worked on this, and I would not have spent as much time there had I been working.

5. You learn more about you really are. 

I heard so many folks say “I’ve learned so much about myself” after being unemployed for awhile.  Being presented with a challenge which affects so many areas of your life, for a duration you cannot predict, will force you to determine how you approach each day.  (For me, this point separates you from your resume, skills, and work experience, and identifies the qualities that make you unique. )

6. Any preventative steps that you’ve taken will pay off. 

If you’ve taken steps to set aside some funds for “a rainy day,”  kept your medical/dental/vision health strong, you’ll be able to rest a little easier during your job search.

7. You will be exposed to new sources of inspiration.

For me, the book “Escape from the Box: The Wonder of Human Potential” by Col. Edward L. Hubbard was especially inspiring.  The way he (eventually) approached his multi-year situation resonated with me.  I probably wouldn’t have come across this book, if not for attending a job search forum (and now I have an autographed copy)!

8. You can wait a little longer in the morning to shovel the snow from your driveway.

Although only a seasonal benefit, I did see a positive side on those cold, snowy mornings, to not having to get up extra early just to shovel snow, in order to drive into work as soon as possible.  (Seriously though, in job search, it is easier to opt-out of driving through rush hour traffic on dangerously bad-weather days, and it is fine to appreciate those moments when they happen.)

Were there positive aspects to your job search that I haven’t called out above? Feel free to list some in the comments.

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

© 2015 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

How can others help you in job search

In job search, always be prepared to answer the question “How can I help you?”

When so many parts of your life seemingly falling behind because getting a weekly, stable income tends to take priority, you may feel tongue-tied the first few times you hear this.  It took a while for me to accept that most help will be found from people that you do not know well.

Many helping hands are in front of you.  Public Domain Image

More helping hands are in front of you than you can see.
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Part of the difficulty may be in carving out only one specific request to the offering party.  Acknowledging that you would appreciate some help, is not acknowledging that you are helpless, or that no one else is helping you.  Knowing how that person could best assist your search, is very handy.

For all of your contacts: 

Since no one can help you unless they are aware that you could use it, you need to tell them.  The best way to do so is to send an email out to them, letting them know that you are now (or are soon to be) unemployed, and are seeking roles in your industry, within such-and-such a geographic area, and some company names that you are interested in pursuing.  List some titles of your desired roles, and say that you’d appreciate being put in contact with anyone who may be looking to fill such a role.  Finally, let them know how they can contact you.  From my JSWT experience, you get approximately a 10% response rate from doing this.

For folks you don’t know too well (or have just met):

Get to know them better.  Ask them about any industry knowledge they may have.  (Provide your elevator speech, and then see what they have to share.)  Ask for general feedback upon your resume.  What jumps out to them?  Learn about the industry that they were in, for that knowledge may come in handy later.  Always, ask how you can help them.

For folks you have gotten to know:

You can ask for a bit more of their time.  Ask for feedback upon your resume, elevator speech, or even to ‘spot interview’ you to see how you answer questions.  Practice interviews are great to do with three people, as the third person can observe the interviewer and the interviewee objectively.  Always, ask how you can help them.

The most dedicated support will be from...the people in your job search work team.

Upon joining a team, you essentially agree to spend a few hours each week helping other members of the team.  Over time, you’ll be surprised at the amount of support (and experiences, and contacts, and feedback) provided within the team.

 

In my project management experience, I’ve always found that the most organized teams were the best at identifying areas that could be improved with some external help.  The question ‘How can I help you?’ is certainly one that you want to be able to answer well.

Were there other ways that you’ve answered this question while in job search?  Have folks given you a great response when you’ve asked them this question?  I’d love to hear about it.

 

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

© 2015 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Helping Others in Job Search

“Helping others become more effective” is a result claimed by many mentors and coaches.  To be perceived as someone who is effective and influential in job search networks, spend time trying to improve your contacts’ job search.

On job-search mornings, when I wasn’t networking or exercising, I’d find myself sitting in front of a monitor, coffee in hand, needing a few minutes to warm up before getting into heavy research.  For my brain’s warm-up, I’d often spend 10 or 15 minutes checking my best contacts’ LinkedIn profiles, and provide endorsements for any newly listed skills.  I recall almost falling off my chair laughing when I saw that one friend had added “Dangerously Handsome” as a skill.

Do you know what your contacts are looking for in their job search?   If not, then you’re unable to effectively refer people to them.  Discussions over coffee, or networking, provide you a forum to share your background, and current goals, with each other.  These talks are not meant to make you feel bad if you do not have an immediate contact or reference to offer the other person.  If you understand each other better after the discussion, then it was worth the time.

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Public Domain Image

Over time, you’ll build a knowledge bank of people with skills in different industries, etc.  With this, you’ll have a larger set of names available when a recruiter contacts you with opportunity that isn’t a match for you, but could be a match for one of your contacts.  You’ll know this is the case, because you’ve already spent time talking with that person, and you know the types of roles she is looking for.

This was precisely how my first job search ended.  One of my job search work team members mentioned my name to a recruiter, and eventually, this resulted in a phone screening, then interview, then a job offer.  How great did it make my day, to get the offer.. .and how great did it make her day, knowing that it began from a referral she’d provided?  It was an awesome day for each of us.

Helping others, in a tangible way, shows that you continue to make a positive impact on those around you, even while unemployed.   By connecting a person with a certain skill, with someone who has a corresponding need, you are helping them (both) be more effective.  As this continues, the circle of people helped by your efforts will become larger, and they will be able to refer YOU to someone who is looking for your skills.

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

© 2015 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

What Most Surprised Me in Job Search

For over ten years, the cycle of workforce reductions continued until my position was eliminated.  Although no two job searches are the same, I believe no one goes through their job search without experiencing a few surprises along the way.   As I was unable to rank one item as ‘the most surprising’ here are five items that caught me by surprise during my ten month job search.  Do any of these surprises resonate with you?

What surprises will be in your job search? Public Domain Image

What Surprises Will be in Your Job Search?
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1/ Being informed, through an HR panel, that having been with one company for over 20 years was generally considered a detriment.  The first concern in a reviewer’s mind would be “Can this person work somewhere else?”

I thought that having made it through the many rounds of reductions, would have demonstrated that I was able to provide a lot of value (as I was kept on for so long).   I was wrong.

2/  The level of support, shared experience, advice, and honest feedback that I’d receive (and provide) through my job search work team was beyond my expectations.

3/ Realizing my (helpful and expensive) outplacement agency was not trying to get me an interview.  They offered help in many other aspects of job search, but although I heard that “Often, companies contact us for candidates,” I never heard of anyone in our outplacement program having been referred for a phone screening.

4/ People that you don’t know very well will end up being the most helpful to you.   I observed this many times.  For whatever reason, your good friends, and long-time colleagues tend to not be where the contacts and job leads come from.  (Perhaps because the contacts would have been extended prior to you being unemployed?)  The contact which led to my first hired position was made through a fellow job search work team member.

5/ Fully believing (embracing the fact) that the unemployed person is 100% just as successful as the employed person.  This took me some time, experience in talking with a lot of unemployed folks.  Although prior to job search, I “kinda-sorta-could” agree with that statement, it was clearly not a position that I fully owned.

What surprises did you experience in your job search?

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

© 2015 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

The D’s of Job Search

I know my vocabulary changed while I was in job search.  Certain words became more prominent in my networking, as well as my self-discussions.  As I approach a full year since my last job search, I realize that many of these terms remain in my daily speech.  For some reason, many of them start with the letter ‘D.’

Here is the list of these terms, with an explanation of how the word inspired me.  If this list reminds you of terms which have helped you, please consider sharing those terms in the comment section.

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Public Domain Image

Dare to hear others’ honest opinions of I present myself.   The most valuable opinions are from those who’ve decided to take a pass on me: I may disagree with each one, but if a common theme evolves from unconnected sources, I need to understand and embrace how they arrived at that perspective.

Demonstrate my skills and abilities to people I haven’t met yet, and to those I have.  What matters is that these skills provide value to others, regardless of who, or how it is provided.  This will support my self-confidence, and shows others what I am capable of doing well.

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Public Domain Image

Discuss my efforts, progress, and obstacles with others, and learn what they have found useful (or not so useful) in their job search.  Do this on a scheduled, weekly basis, preferably within a job search work team.

Distance myself from negative influences as much as possible.  Anything can be shown in a negative light, and being unemployed tends to lower the lights anyway, so try to stay away from those who focus upon a pessimistic view.  Be especially aware of folks who are negative not just about their own situation, but also about mine.

Do remain active during this job search.  (In a Yogi Berra-ish way, “The one thing to do, is to always do more than one thing.”)  Be outside the home; exercise, network, meet, talk to people, and help others in their endeavors.

Donate my time to others in job search, and to endeavors that I support.  This will help keep my mind fresh.  Don’t worry if this doesn’t clearly establish a path to a hiring manager.  This provides a place for me to contribute value, and I can reference this in future phone screenings and interviews.

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Public Domain Image

Depend upon my own abilities, and remember that I can provide value to an organization.  My abilities and efforts had brought me success before I was unemployed, and I need to trust that these are still within me.  (Do not underestimate the importance of this point.)

Delight in my job search efforts, and of those around me.  With many contacts trying to make inroads into the unknown to generate their next paying role, there is a lot at stake every day.  At the very least, it is an exciting time.
Dive in to get the results that I seek.  I’ll never get hired for a job that I do not apply for.  I am fully engaged during my job search activities, for I am a person of action and results.  (I help to introduce my contacts with people, or forums, that can be helpful to them.  To do this, I first need to know what they seek.  Learning this is necessary.)
I’m interested in hearing the terms that became more meaningful for you in your job search, or as you pursued a major, risky achievement.

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

© 2015 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

You learn from being with others who pursue similar goals

If you are focussed and committed to achieve a goal, you generally try to surround yourself with people pursuing the same, or a similar, goal.

In martial arts, you work out together, to achieve the next belt color (level).

In training for a marathon, you establish a routine to follow (with others). (How many miles to run?  Which days?  Which route to follow?  What diet to follow?  What time to meet in the morning to run?)

In SCUBA diving, it is always recommended to stay with a companion while underwater.

Yet, many unemployed folks don’t embrace this approach regarding their job search.

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

For job search, the most effective ways to decrease the duration of your job search, is to routinely meet with others in job search, as a group, to discuss their progress and activity toward finding their next job.  (Reference R. Bolles, ‘What Color is Your Parachute?’, 2012.)

I often heard folks, who’d been in job search for a long time, say “The people that I talk with are all unemployed: I REALLY need to be talking to employed folks!”

Friends of mine have trained for marathons as part of a group, and it took months of preparation.  Over that time, some group members encountered situations which kept them from training one day, or forced them to run a shorter distance than scheduled.  For others in the group, uphills were more of a challenge, while downhills were more problematic for a few.  No two people had the same set of challenges throughout their training, and this is expected.  It was how each person approached, and then worked through each challenge, that determined if she was successful or not in reaching (first the starting, then) the finish line, of the marathon.

Similarly, no two people in job search should expect to see similar progress from their efforts.  If someone’s LinkedIn profile is not generating as many hits as desired, it is a temporary situation that can be tweaked: it should not be seen as a personal judgement or failure.  It is important to seek out help from those in your group, for those areas that you want to improve.  Most importantly, keep being active within your job search network!

I found that being amongst people interested in my success helps helps me to be my best.  The value of being within a group of people who actively share your goals, remains just as important in job search as it is in any other undertaking.

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

© 2015 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

When Being Overwhelmed is a Good Sign

During your job search, you may feel overwhelmed.   This is a good sign, for it means you are trying to do the following 20+ activities:

1/ Create, or update your resume,

2/ Create/update a LinkedIn Profile,

3/ Apply to posted jobs,

4/ Visit libraries to create lists of target industries, so that you can create lists of target companies,

5/ Network to build your contact list

6/ Touch base with your existing contact list,

7/ Draft your stories to be used in phone screenings and interviews – strengths, weaknesses, and experiences,

8/ Network with currently, and recently unemployed people, to learn from their experiences,

9/ Join a job search work team, and become an active member,

10/ Map (plan) out your immediate, short-term, and longer term finances,

10.5/ Hit the ‘Find Job’ button to locate and sign up for your next gig. (If only….)

We all know that this key does not exist.  Public Domain Image

We all know that this key does not exist.
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11/ Apply for COBRA (track progress, and follow up if/when coverage doesn’t appear on time),

12/ Apply for new health insurance,

13/ Apply for unemployment (and begin tracking activities in job search in case you are audited),

14/ Discuss unemployment situation with people you have known for a long time,

15/ Discuss your unemployment situation with people you do not know (such as folks within your doctor’s office, financial advisors, your children’s teachers, etc.),

16/ Read up on how to conduct an effective job search (and then contemplate the contradictory advice),

17/ Create a handbill,

18/ Create and order business cards,

19/ Assess “what you could have done better, or differently” to avoid being unemployed,

20/ Assess ‘what you could have done better, or differently” to have generated more call-backs,

21/ Exercise and/or increase involvement in other activities to help keep your mind “fresh” and your self-confidence solid, and

22/ Take confidence in yourself and your ability to make a positive impact for those you interact with. 

If you have been in transition, the length of this list did not surprise you. (And it is by no means an exhaustive list.)

I didn’t even list out topics that deal with your day-to-day activities such as cooking meals, paying bills, maintaining your home/car/laundry/relationships, picking up/dropping off kids, mowing the lawn, or shoveling snow, etc.

If you had a similar sized list for your “paid work” job, there’d be no question that you had a lot of work to do, and that some assistance and guidance would be very beneficial.   Being unemployed does not make this list any easier to accomplish.  Asking for, and accepting, help shouldn’t be seen as a ‘weakness’ nor a ‘sign of helplessness.’  It shows that you are actually engaged in trying to achieve something, and so you are involving the people you feel may be able to help you to that goal.

I often told folks who were newly unemployed, “If you are feeling overwhelmed by your transition, that is a really good sign!

So,… if you are in job search and feel overwhelmed?  Good for you for feeling overwhelmed!

You are in job search and are letting folks know how they can help you (when they ask)?  Great!!

You are in job search and are letting people know that you’d appreciate some help finding your next role?  AWESOME!!!    

Feeling overwhelmed is reasonable in job search.  It demonstrates that you have sized up the “job” in front of you, and are working through all those aspects as best you can.

 

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Is your job search agile?

There are valid, non-linear approaches to projects that are used every day in many businesses. Could such a structure assist you in your job search?

In an Agile methodology, people are valued over process, change to the initial plan is treated as a ‘given,’ and iterating back (and back again) to update and improve a deliverable (such as a resume, LinkedIn profile, etc.) is expected.  You aren’t expected to know how useful something will be, until you first make use of it.   If you’d like to bring more of these dynamics into your job search, please read further.

Agile’s first tenet is that “People are valued over process.” This means that people should not be put under too much stress, as that will make them less productive.  Although you won’t get away from all stress in job search, the emphasis is that YOU (and your sanity,  well-being, etc.) are valued over, say, staying up extra late just to update your resume for the 10th time because it may not be perfect.

Also, a team-based approach, and being physically co-located with people on your team, are highly valued Agile aspects. These types of work environments enable the high amount of communication and information-sharing necessary for a successful Agile approach.  You may have heard that staying in touch with other members of your Job Search Work Team, and “networking”  with others to share information, is critical to helping your transition.  Those points are very consistent with Agile.

Many ways to climb the mountain

Many ways to climb the mountain

Building something that is ‘good enough’ for now, realizing that you can return to improve it later, is another dynamic of Agile.  To me, editing an existing document is always easier than trying to make the first draft perfect. For your (Agile) job search, you first have to complete an iteration of something before you can go back and improve upon it.  Trying to “hold something back until it is error-free” tends to hide errors that you aren’t seeing yet (because you aren’t using the deliverable).  Only by completing an iteration can you learn what works, and what isn’t working, so complete an iteration, no matter how small it may seem.

The more traditional form of project management is called ‘waterfall,’ and is much more linear in approach.  Here, a full project plan is created for the project, and  the emphasis is upon executing to the initial project schedule, and large changes to that plan are discouraged.  Waterfall works best for projects that have been done previously, such as building a house, or planning a banquet. Although you may led a job search previously, the dynamics can be significantly different each time.

Agile is recommended for projects whose details are not sufficiently clarified at the beginning of the project or journey.  We know that job search, and uncertainty are very good friends.

I witnessed many folks in transition beat themselves up for not having the ‘perfect’ resume format, credentials, or interviewing techniques.  Agile methodology may provide a good structure to build your job search efforts and progress, as it seems more aligned with handling the dynamics of job search.  You can find out more on Agile with an easy online search.

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

There’s no laughing in job search!

During the upcoming holidays, several job search networking groups will focus one or two sessions on enjoying the camaraderie of the group. Be sure to take advantage of these sessions, for they are not held often enough.

I admit that when I first encountered such a session, I was somewhat taken aback. “WHY aren’t we focussing on job search topics? I REALLY need to be generating more call-backs and interviews… Aren’t these folks taking this job search seriously?”   (I had so much to learn… )

Honest discussion, and laughter, are signs that you are not only connecting, but also interacting with the people around you.  As the meeting’s discussion topics may not focus primarily upon job search, your time can be spent getting to know the people for who they are (and not just what they are looking for in their next role).

Having fun during job search is allowed

Public Domain Image                                                                     Having fun, and laughing, during job search is allowed

Do you demonstrate an interest in helping the people you already know at these sessions?  If so, your relationship will become stronger than had you simply exchanged business cards.  And, always be prepared to let others know what you are looking for, and how they may be able to help you. Discussions on an individual level are often more detailed than those presented to larger groups.

At these meetings, there is always the opportunity to greet new attendees, and introduce them to those (in the room) who share similar experiences or goals.  Helping people make new connections is another way to strengthen your network.  The ability to develop conversations quickly, with others you’ve just met, is a useful skill to have for networking.  (More on this in a future post.)

These are ways to exercise your networking skills.  In my first transition, as my networking skills improved, I noticed that my phone screenings tended to last longer, and that I more often stayed until the ‘final round’ of hiring discussions.   Was this a coincidence?

So, allow yourself to be more relaxed during these holiday networking sessions, and appreciate them for the opportunities they provide.

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

Even More Than Witches

The skills most recently used in your last role – the ones that are first in people’s minds when they hear of you- may not be the skills sought by your next employer.  Make sure you represent your full set of skills and abilities.

 

I grew up near Salem Massachusetts. (Yes, the ‘witch trial’ city of Salem.)  During that time, Salem seemed challenged to appear more appealing, welcoming, and friendly, as “The Witch Trials” tended to contradict that ambiance.  Starting in the 1980’s, Salem decided to invest in its underutilized waterfront (and other areas of the city), and emphasize its large, rich role in early American history.   For over the last 20+ years, tourism has boomed.

 

Salem offers more than witch history  National Park Service Photo (Public Domain)

Salem Offers More Than Witch Trial History
National Park Service Photo (Public Domain)

 

The Witch Trials were not the only noteworthy happening in Salem’s history.  Before New York City superseded it, Salem was the main trading port to Asia.  Many Revolutionary War events occurred in Salem.  The National Guard was founded there.  Evidence of these events had been available, but they became much more visible, and easier to appreciate, after the town decided to emphasize these other historical aspects in its advertising and renewal.

 

For individuals, being without a job can seem so all-encompassing, that it can be awkward to separate your personal identity (and personal sense of value) from that employment status.  While you are in transition, are you refreshing your other skills and abilities that may have been under-appreciated?  Make sure that you are able to advertise all of your previous experiences and skills, and not just the one or two skills that may initially pop into people’s minds.  You may be surprised at the warm reception you receive.

 

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.