Tag Archives: Job market

Alternative Avenues to Search

We all know about networking, LinkedIn and job boards as regular methods to seek out a new job.  Plenty of people are making these rounds.  One person at the last networking event that I went to, which I mentioned in a previous post, reminded me of these two alternative avenues to test out.

 

Twitter is mentioned daily in connection to this or that celebrity which makes most of us see it as a light entertainment directed venue.  But there is more to it, once you start to look into this particular social media format.  Plenty of companies have jumped on this band wagon and some have started to use this as a means to search out new talent.

 

public domain vintage image of 5th Ave by Karen Arnold

public domain vintage image of 5th Ave by Karen Arnold

Now you don’t have to be out there tweeting away, you just need to set up a profile that sketches out the most pertinent of your skills.  You are ready to start searching for company tweets of job postings.  Oftentimes these jobs haven’t been shared with other mediums yet because the companies are testing social media savvy of candidates.  You can get a jump on the pack by having a presence on and searching this arena.

 

(It is also a great place to research a company by checking out their Tweet feed.)

 

Toastmasters is an international group with local clubs that helps people to foster speaking and leadership skills.  Many larger companies have set up corporate clubs which are closed to outsiders, unless you are a Toastmaster.  As a Toastmaster member of your own local club, you can ask to be a guest at any other Toastmaster club.

 

The benefits of Toastmasters then, are at least two fold – you can work on important job related skills like speaking and leadership as well as get the opportunity to personally get to know Toastmaster members at a company where you would like to work.  How great is that?

 

You never know how you will get your next job.  My own most unusual method was the time that I went to get a library card and wound up with a circulation desk clerk job too.  I just happened to have been talking about how much I love libraries with the head librarian.  I know people who have leveraged Toastmaster guest visits to turn into contract positions.

 

Additional avenues to search are a plus.

 

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

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

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Cracking the Code

Mysteries often involve a code of some kind, to keep information secure so that only the ‘right’ people will know the meaning.  In a mystery story, a code is interesting and a fun part of the plot.  Code is also important during times of conflict – I really enjoyed the movie Windtalkers about the Navaho code talkers in WWII, very clever on our part to make sure our plans would be successful.  The Allies of WWII also successfully cracked the German’s Enigma code to gain valuable information which thwarted Axis plans.

 

photo credit: Wikipedia

photo credit: Wikipedia

Each industry has its own jargon, or code too.  This is mostly just a short-hand way to convey information quickly and not really meant to protect information from those outside-the-know.

 

Sometimes code is just tiresome and fuzzy.  Perhaps at one time it served a purpose but it has become something else entirely.  Ask any group of job seekers about code words within the hiring process and ‘overqualified’ is sure to come up in this category.  What does it really mean if you look closely?  We think that you are older than our ideal candidate, we think that you will want too much money, we think that you won’t stay very long (therefore wasting our time) should you convince us that you are the right candidate – in short you don’t fit our outline of our ideal candidate.

 

There are code phrases – we’ve decided to take this position in another direction, etc.  Notice most of the code is centered on turning a candidate down.  It is human nature to want to avoid conflict and handing out rejection is difficult on both sides.

 

Job seekers want to get it right, to be the successful candidate, to stop being a job seeker and be a worker.  Often they feel that if they could get detailed understanding of what went wrong in the last effort, they could correct it for the next.  I understand this urge, but also feel like I have a nugget of insight because I have been on both sides of the table.

 

Sometimes there is something specific and it would be wonderful as a hiring manager if I could offer a tip to the candidate for their next application or interview.  (Psst, make it clear that you want our job not just any job.  Or, don’t ramble so much in your answers that we both forget the question.  Or, be on time.  Or, breathe and center yourself because your nervous energy made us both jittery.)  Sometimes the candidate just didn’t suit our idea of the successful candidate as well as someone else – and this could be a very close second, but we only have one position open.  (One time I was able to snap up my second choice weeks later when my team suddenly had a new opening – and both people were good members of our team.  But that is rare.)

 

It comes down to this, these code words are the words that are chosen to let a candidate down as firmly but pleasantly as possible.  HR probably talked to a legal representative at some point to help to craft these messages – to sanitize them.  Which also means that they are meaningless in terms of helping a candidate understand what to do better next time.  That is a mystery that each candidate must solve on their own.

 

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

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

They Can’t Tell You

You most likely didn’t chose to be in job search, though I read that the numbers of disengaged workers who are actively looking for their next job while still in the current position is on the rise again.  This particular post applies to that category of job seeker just as much as the one who would have been perfectly fine to stay in their last position had it continued to be available.

 

There is plenty of data flying around and experts to tell us what we should think of all this data.  The number of jobs created, the number of unemployed, the number of folks newly pounding the pavement, the number of people who set up a new LinkedIn account in a given week.  On and on.

 

But none of this data can describe the new situation where you will feel valued, where you will want to take root and grow.  How far should you consider commuting before your costs will be too great?  (Both financial and emotional – few were meant to spend so much time in their car in traffic…)  What sort of company will offer you a good fit?  Small, medium, large – one location, many – family owned, publically traded.

 

Do you work better on a team or on your own?  Do you like to do the same thing with little variance or do you prefer greater variety in your tasks?  Do you like a hands on manager or someone who gives you space?  Do you want to see a potential career path or are you just looking for a steady position?

 

The better that you know the answers to these questions for yourself, the better that I or any other potential new manager will be able to tell if you are the candidate who we want.  A candidate who clearly just wants any job doesn’t capture our interest.  A candidate who can show that they see themselves on our team, at our company really does.

 

public domain image

public domain image

There are plenty of other defining questions that you can consider – many that relate to your particular job experience/skill set, or to your family situation.  Knowing how you will answer these questions for yourself will show through when you are answering questions in an interview.

 

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

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

What Size are You?

When we are shopping for clothes or shoes, we need to pick the right size.  When we are investing, we need to understand that there are different advantages and challenges to the size of the company in which we are investing – small cap, mid cap or large cap.  The large companies are the ones that we have all heard of regularly.  Medium and small companies might be completely unknown to us.

Getting the right size requires measurement.  (Public domain image)

Getting the right size requires measurement. (Public domain image)

 

When we are looking for a job, we also need to ask this question about size.  Similar to investing, there are differences – potential advantages or disadvantages – based on company size.

 

When I started blogging, I realized that I would need to be constantly on the lookout for good topics.  Getting in the right mindset meant that almost anything could be seen as fodder for a blog post.  Similarly, a job seeker should be always looking for the right job opportunity – there are so many companies.

 

I’m sure that you have already come across the advice that a job seeker should develop a list of target companies.  Many people populate their target list with those well-known large companies, with perhaps a few medium sized local favorites.  If you are in the mindset that your opportunity might come in any size, then you might add a few small company gems to that list.

 

This idea, as almost everything in job search does, comes down to understanding yourself and your own needs.  The size and shape of your skills and temperament, your goals, will help to determine whether you are better suited to a certain size of company.

 

With a broader view or an alternate angle on things, perhaps you might consider widening your size choice for your target list of companies.

 

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

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

All I want for Christmas is a ‘Good’ Job

The unemployment numbers are coming down and a collective sigh of relief can be heard across the nation.  We can easily forget that these numbers represent people, lives, families in our pre-Christmas hustle and bustle.  Each individual number represents a very personal story.  Once a person has been counted in those numbers the sound bite offering up the latest iteration of this number will forever have a different ring to it.

DSC03636

The overall size of the number, the volume of people behind it mean nothing if you are on the wrong side of the figure.  One is too many if you are that one.  And being on the other side of the figure means a job, but is it just any job to pay down your bills or is it The job for you, a ‘good’ job?

 

People like to use the phrase ‘good jobs’ – particularly during election season.  It sounds good, don’t you think?  But what does it really mean when you get right down to it?  Some parts of the meaning can probably be generally agreed upon, but other details most likely vary widely based on the person answering the question.

 

Decent pay is a part of the definition that all would include.  But dig deeper and what is decent pay?  What one person thinks is an embarrassment of riches would mean subsistence to another.  Perhaps it is based on your skill set, the region where you live, the scarcity or abundance of people who can fill the necessary position?

 

Feeling valued – providing value to your team and employer is part of the definition of a good job, too.  Each worker should have some sense of accomplishment, that their effort meant something in the overall scheme.  I’ve written on my personal blog about the dignity of having a vocation, regardless of the tasks which are performed within the scope of your particular job.  This has nothing to do with cache or the latest ‘it’ professions.  It has everything to do with pride in a job well done.

 

Knowing what your personal definition of a ‘good’ job entails will hopefully help you to fulfill the wish in the title.  This is my hope for every person who represents a tick inside that unemployment percentage mentioned so briefly but regularly in the news.

 

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

The Job Search Game Board

Job seekers are laser focused on that last step, crossing over the line and landing on the new job.  Success!  The series of moves that each seeker makes during the search are often taken as a means to this end, not as a means of their own.

When I was growing up we had a game called Go to the Head of the Class and the board was set up as rows of school desks leading to the finish line, progressing through each grade.  A player had to answer more and more difficult questions to move ahead.  Other games, Chutes and Ladders comes to mind, have a more haphazard back and forth motion.  Job search has similar elements – some steps seem to add up to something more, and others seem to land you at the top of a chute.

Job search is like playing RiskMonopolyClue.

Job search is like playing RiskMonopolyClue.

Job seekers see every step as leading to the job, though.  The right resume will get the job.  A well worded cover letter will get the job.  Networking with the right person will get the job.  Being prepared for the interview will get the job.  When it is really a combination of each of these steps which will create success – and the combination is quite different for each company or position.

Plus many of these elements are not meant to get the job, but to get the seeker closer to the job.  Networking will help you to build your identity with people at the company beyond facts on a paper.  A clear resume, with pertinent skills will get you an interview.  A well-constructed cover letter will reinforce the resume in getting an interview.  And so on.

I said in the first paragraph that some of these steps – resume, networking, and cover letter – should be considered as means of their own.  We don’t know which element will be the most striking for the employer, but any that are not thoughtfully done can be a detriment.

Successfully achieving a new job takes very different paths for each job seeker, what led to success for one might be a chute for another.  We owe it to ourselves to own the strategy that we choose.

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

Creating Your Future

By Cynthia Sutherland

“You can’t create the future by clinging to the past.” So says a recent Delta Airlines TV commercial. I agree. We create our future by defining desires, setting goals and moving toward them. You create with small steps or a big leap.

In job search, the goal is often to find a new job – quickly. But since a job choice has implications for your future, it pays to be clear about what you really want going forward.

A fork in the road, by Nicholas Mutton, from Wikimedia Commons (in the public domain)

A fork in the road, by Nicholas Mutton, from Wikimedia Commons (in the public domain)

You may believe that this job market limits your choices. At the same time, you do have leeway in choosing your career (and life) direction.

I have friends on various career paths, those who:

Deliberately retired early to be true to their desires. I know, they could somehow afford to, and many can’t. But those I know who adjusted their lifestyles stayed true to their life goals. I admire that, knowing and holding to your life goals.

Took the first job that came along. It’s scary to be out in the job market. They responded to time and financial pressures. Some of those job gambles paid off; some didn’t. They or their new employers miscalculated “fit.” Or the new employer reorganized (again) and eliminated their jobs after a short time.

Waited and angled for the same or next level job. Some achieved those goals of “more of the same.” Good for them. But did they think about what they wanted? And some are still looking because the job market re-defined the value of a lot of careers.

Embraced a different mix of volunteer efforts, part-time or temporary jobs, and even internships in mid-career. Some enhanced their skills or changed direction by going back to school, adding certifications or degrees, or even started entrepreneurial ventures.

Defined what they wanted in a career as they went along, trying things to see how it would go. They refined from what worked and discarded what didn’t. I think Generation Y is known for this attitude toward serial jobs and careers. But other generations are learning from them AND the economy.

More often, though, we toddle along and stick with a job choice because it’s comfortable. We settle.  But some have a clear and undeniable talent that must be pursued. Or they nurture a desire for a different path that just bubbles up at some point.

And when a career choice is made for us, e.g., being disconnected from a job involuntarily, passive styles suddenly change. Now we need to actively make choices; that’s really an opportunity. You can feel the elation when you deliberately set new goals.

Where am I in all this? Job change led me to a process of reinventing myself. It’s ongoing. I previously chose a career-oriented path that was satisfying, very typical for baby boomers. But a job shift caused me to re-think my life goals, not just job choices.

That led me to adopt the mixed path: some volunteer work, looking for part-time or temporary work, and moving into some new directions, like doing a little consulting, and writing for fun.

Mine is not a unique path, but it responds to the times, the opportunities, and activates new possibilities.

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

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

A Worthy Read in Job Search

by Beth Anne Reed

Every job seeker comes to this status in a different way.  Every job search is a highly individualized journey.  The term job market is an over-simplification of a complex grouping of potential jobs within a region, an industry, a specific job title.  So how does one become an effective job seeker?  Despite the individualized journey, the best way to be effective is to share; to join a group of job seekers, to read books and articles, to find seminars and workshops.

Poking around on the web just now, I found a commenter in an article on CNN who mentions all of the advice to be found is more ‘conceptual’ than concrete – Stuck in a Part-time Job.  And certainly he has a valid point, but go back to my first paragraph.  Each job search is specific to the person, the means to solve the problem will be specific to the person, making most suggested solutions conceptual.  This is the nature of complex issues that intersect with the human wish for simplicity and formulaic solutions.

There is still a wealth of information out there that can help the seeker to make conceptual or general help fit the specific needs of the seeker.  One such book is Richard Bolles’ classic What Color is Your Parachute? Which he updates every year.  I have the 2013 version and have found it useful in different ways, depending on the issue of the day.  You don’t have to read it cover to cover, you can just pick and choose the section to read at any given time.

What Color is Your Parachute - amazon.com

What Color is Your Parachute – amazon.com

What have you found to be most helpful in your search?

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

 

What I Didn’t Expect in Job Search

By Beth Anne Reed

I liked to troll through Yahoo periodically to read the latest advice to job seekers as a hiring manager.  It gave me the opportunity to check and see if candidates that came in for my open positions where up on the latest trends.  I needed folks who could think on their feet and adapt to change, so this was a pretty good barometer.  People who didn’t know that an objective on a resume has been tres passé for some time were going on the no pile.

But finding myself in job search this year, I was amazed to discover that there is a huge industry built around the job seeker, we are a class of consumer (and a lucrative one at that).  And let me further just mention, caveat emptor (buyer beware) really applies here.  We are seen as rather an easy mark by a good sized chunk of the providers in this market.  The thing is that much of the services and products offered are also available for no cost through wonderful job search groups run by churches and other organizations.  And of course, books at your local library.

Medieval scene of workers (public domain image)

Medieval scene of workers (public domain image)

The job market has changed considerably since the last time that I found myself in this space in 1999, luckily so have I.  Where it has gotten much more uncertain, I have become more certain.  Where I might be a bit thin, I have found allies to assist me in my quest and I can return the favor.

I might be in the job seeker class of consumers, but I will treat this status just as I treat my overall consumer status – on my own terms.  I’m going to make you work for any of my dollars or cents – wow me with your sense.

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