Tag Archives: job search

Are you caught up in a job transition wormhole…

 

wormhole

A wormhole is a theoretical passage through space-time that could create shortcuts for long journeys across the universe. Wormholes are predicted by the theory of general relativity. But be wary: wormholes bring with them the dangers of sudden collapse, high radiation and dangerous contact with exotic matter.

The whole product space for career transition and job search services can be daunting. With so many off the shelf and overpriced products on the market in a variety of offers, you could be excused for thinking it’s overwhelming. Just about everyone in the recruitment and human resources business seem to have a career outplacement, job transition or career planning system that will help navigate your journey through the unknown void of a job wormhole. Nobody really knows what is on the other side of a wormhole and career transition is one of those services that can not guarantee an outcome or result for every individual.

When I wrote my book, How to Find a Job in 6 Weeks, I did so with the view that job search is about your life in a practical sense. With this in mind I focused on the everyday person and the challenges we face with every day life. Very few people can afford to put their career on hold for three to six months and go through an in-depth exploration of their career options. Some call it a sabbatical and others a career break, either way, the financial backing required to support such a notion are beyond most people.That is because for the majority of people we have families to support, responsibilities, bills to pay and the mortgage. When we lose our job we need to get back to work soon and continue to derive a steady income. In fact, if you surveyed 50 people who have lost their job right now and you ask them what they want to achieve with their career, 95% will tell they want to get back to work as soon as possible. Very few will tell you they want to embark on a long term career exploration and wait for the right time to re-enter the workforce.

A successful job search systems needs to be;

  1. Practical in its application and execution
  2. Understand the realities of every day life challenges
  3. Affordable to the majority of people
  4. Not time-consuming or overbearing
  5. Deliver a high impact in a relative short period of time

So how do you create a model for job transition that achieves that? You simply put a reasonable time frame on it…I did so with the 6 week job search system. People are their most enthusiastic in the first 6 weeks of job search with a lot of energy and positive feelings about their future. If we harness that energy with some practical job search tools and provide an effective toolkit….most people will be successful in achieving their new job relatively soon. The 6 week job search time frame is a guide and should not be generalised as a one size fits all solution…its also not a guarantee. The system has been effective it practically putting people on the right track with a level of enthusiasm, committeemen and confidence. The 6 week system is a target, guide, benchmark for success and something to strive for.

There are 5 key critical success factors that make the 6 week job search system effective when transitioning into another job. It represents the toolkit of knowledge everyone should be competent with:

  1. Successful job search skills knowledge
  2. Strong financial management initiatives
  3. Flexible and open career re-assessment
  4. Mental toughness and a strong belief system
  5. Managing your current job.

To learn more about the 6 week job search system follow the link below to a dynamic PowerPoint slide;

http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/jobwebco-1643043-find-job-6-weeks-presentation/

 

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About your resume…so who are you really?

I often get asked the question, “How much effort should I put into my resume to make it more personal?”

It’s a really good question because there are personal traits about us that get missed in resumes. Too often resumes are written in such a boring and bland manner, focusing solely on high work achievements and strong occupational skills, forgetting to portray who you really are. So who are you really? Everyone has a different side to them and that is what makes us different. Sometimes the workplace culture puts you in an environment where it creates, an artificial you. We are playing a part, trying to fit-in, and modelling to suite the perfect organisational fit. However, does it come naturally to you and if I met you jogging on the beach, is that how you would present yourself…your true self?

There are three events that occur with your resume when applying for a job that may impact on your personal profile;

  1. Not all recruiters care about you personal achievements and some may not even read the last page of your resume where usually your personal achievements, hobbies and other interests are noted
  2. Whether a recruiter will spend time reviewing the personal achievements on your resume will depend on the volume of recruitment they are processing  and the type of job you have applied for
  3. Personal traits come into play further down the track when you are at the shortlist stage and when the hiring manager imposes his views and values around the candidate in trying to determine fit for the organisation.

My approach to resume writing is to note personal high achievements in your resume for a number of reason. They provide a snap shot of who you are outside of work, your values and what you stand for. It may provide an insight into the person that we often don’t see in a controlled workplace culture…who you really are.

Resume

So what are good examples of personal high achievements? They can be a number of things and there is no limit. The only rule to observe is that the personal achievement must be significant enough to get noticed and normally related to a milestone achieved in the community and outside of work.

  • Are you the president or secretary of a successful sporting organisation that competes at the highest level in its code
  • Have you published a book and have achieved status as an author
  • Do you compete at a high level representing your State or Country in sport or any other activity
  • Have you been involved in missionary or voluntary work to support the disadvantaged, whether at home or outside your country
  •  Have you raised money for charity that attracted media attention for your efforts
  • Have you received an honor or merit from Government and been recognized for a significant achievement to the community

There is much more I could add to this list as long as it follows the golden rule that the personal achievement must be significant enough to be noticed. So be creative and don’t be afraid to list your significant personal achievements on your resume. We are not just creatures of our work based environment and organisational cultures but also real people with our own unique personalities, belief systems and values. That’s what makes us who we are.

Do you warm up before a job interview?

warming-up

Your on your way to an important interview first thing in the morning and navigating through some stiff traffic. Your listening to your favorite morning radio program and having some laughs along the way. Some drivers have cut-in front of you inappropriately, while trying to steal the last meter of territory you have managed to obtain through some tricky and skillful driving. You share your opinion of their driving standards in the usual manner by sign language and other unpleasant expressions of the not so kind variety. No need to worry about the interview for now…you will cross that bridge when you arrive at the employers premises. In the meantime, you have some personal objectives to achieve such as testing the limits of your road rage and the amount of points you have scored against inferior drivers.

The interview is worth a major promotion to you and a 10-20% increase in salary with a highly reputable company. It’s the third and final meeting with the CEO, and as far as you are aware, there are 2 candidates remaining for this highly regarded and well sought position. Have you prepared appropriately for this meeting? Have you given yourself every chance to succeed or are you just going in cold and hoping your personality and experience will pull you through? Anyway, this employer really wants you and how could they not resist hiring some one of your reputable professional talents.

Sports athletes prepare meticulously before an event. Musicians and television performers go through a managed routine to ensure they are stage ready to deliver an immaculate performance. Stunt drivers plan every centimeter of their task execution in intricate detail to ensure they survive the dangers of their harrowing ordeal. However, I have lost count the amount of times i have seen job candidates come to an interview unprepared thinking their smarts is going to wing-it through the process. Why do they think they are so good that they can outperform at the interview with very little preparation?

Lets go back to the early morning driver and reverse the situation. You have turned off the radio and left home 20 minutes earlier, driving patiently in a reasonable way, and not concerned too much about other drivers.  You have prepared a number of practice interview questions and have jotted them down to trigger your memory and activate your thought processes. Preparing your mind about what’s ahead at the interview and silently role-playing answers aloud or in your thoughts will give you an edge. Elite athletes use this method of role-playing and visioning in preparation for the real thing when the match commences.

Here are a list of ten warm-up questions you can role-play on your way to the job interview to stretch the mind and put you in a state of readiness whether it’s the first or final interview;

  1. What attracted you to this position and why do you think you are a good fit for the role?
  2. What do you know about our Company?
  3. Provide me with a brief overview of your work history by focusing on your key areas of expertise?
  4. Provide me an example of a difficult situation at work and how you resolved this issue? What were the key steps you took to achieve a satisfactory outcome?
  5. What are the 3 things you enjoy doing most at work and why?
  6. What are your career objectives for the next 5 years?
  7. Why are you seeking to leave your current job?
  8. Can you give an example where you have made an improvement to a process at work and how you went about achieving this?
  9. How would others describe your work style and work ethic?
  10. Are there any questions you would like to ask about our business and the job?

Warm-up before the interview…when travelling to work in the car, bus or train. Alternatively, grab a coffee before the interview and find a quiet location to sit down. Warm-up by jotting down bullet point answer to the warm-up questions provided. It should not take more than 20 minutes…and be in a state of ultimate preparedness that will give you the edge and outperform at the interview.

‘Jobs go to those that are good at getting jobs’ – Job Myth of Fact?

Interview Outfit 1

Interview Outfit 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what are the secrets to job success? Do jobs really go to those that are good at getting jobs?

Lets bust this job myth open and uncover some key ingredients that elite job hunters use in their skill set to propel them to the top of the pile.

How critical it is today for employers to ensure they can achieve a quality match during the recruitment process when screening possible candidates. Your projection and profile may be the only thing left standing when applicants of equal ability are key contenders for a job. Your ability to align with corporate values and mission statements is essential. Companies will want you to be an extension of their corporate profile and you will be measured on your ability to fit the mold.

If you can obtain information on the corporate values of the company you are attending an interview for and can translate that into your profile, then you have a definite edge.

Research the founder of the company and what type of person they are. See if you can obtain articles on the company and write-ups on the CEO. Is the company older, traditional and more conservative or is it a new, vibrant and an entrepreneurial business? Do your homework and get that edge on other candidates.

You will be asked questions at interviews that seek to project your personal, business and professional profiles. Employers are always interested in your profiles as part of trying to establish a key match. For example does your professional profile match the organizational profile and corporate culture? Here are questions you may encounter that focus on your profiles:

  1. How would you describe yourself?
  2. How would people you work with describe you?
  3. How would your superiors describe you?

During the interview process, try wherever practicable to reflect on your personal and professional profiles in your responses to interview questions.

Personal Profile

Professional Profile

 

Reliability

Drive

Honesty

Motivation

Pride

Communication skills

Dedication

Team-player

Analytical skills

Energy

Listening

Confidence

Integrity

Determination

During the interview, it is good practice to add to your personal and professional profile by reflecting on your business profile. Your business profile is an indication of your work ethics. Companies are always interested in the prospective candidate’s work ethics and will consider various behaviours such as getting to work on time and working late if required.

Interviewers will test your ability to get tasks done more efficiently and economically by thinking of improved ways of doing things. Companies also have rules and standards called procedures and they expect employees to follow these rules all the time whilst performing their daily activities. The bottom line is about money and companies are profit-making organisations, so your ability to contribute to business profit growth will be considered positively by employers.

Build your business profile into your answer to interview questions wherever possible. The following is a list of the key business profiles you should consider:

  1. Efficiency
  2. Economy
  3. Procedures
  4. Profit

So there you have it…what elite job hunters practice as their key ingredient for success…they have a self awareness of their projection and profile and how it translates into a compelling business profile. Its about seeking a quality fit with the organisation and its culture. This is how jobs go to those that are good at getting jobs.

Exposing the hidden job market…elaborate marketing myth or fact?

So what is the mystery of the hidden job market that has us in raptures and clinging to a sea of job opportunities undiscovered to the naked eye? Jobs go to those that are good at getting jobs and the secrets of elite job hunters  are revealed in an invisible jobs paradise.  A Shangri-La of employment opportunities that only career transition experts hold the keys to good fortune.

Let me bust this discussion right open with a bout of controversy that will inspire you senseless into believing its nothing more than an elaborate marketing hoax! That’s right, there is no such thing as the hidden job market.

When I wrote my book, How to find a Job in 6 weeks, almost 7 years ago, I dedicated a whole chapter to the hidden job market and I researched this phenomenon to find proof of this sea of jobs. I attended seminars and even paid good money pretending I was out of work by attending career transition programs, at a lofty expense.

What I found was incredible and consistent throughout; an elaborate sales training program re-packaged into a networking platform for job hunters to generate leads. And leads for what? It was leads to people, by way of referral, who are in the know about untapped and hidden jobs. Wow! It was a sales lead and networking program that also involved cold calling prospects that have the ability to make hiring decisions.

So there is no hidden job market and by definition it can’t exist. To assume one does exits would be saying that employers are deliberately disguising or hiding their job vacancies. That is, jobs that are not advertised by internal job boards, newspapers, online or anywhere else. For a small proportion of jobs, employers may ask a recruitment agency to research candidates confidentially or perhaps the hiring manager has knowledge or a relationship with someone containing specialist skills that goes back many years. However, that is not a hidden job market but a select and very small proportion of jobs that are recruited outside traditional advertised means. Hardly the sea of jobs referred to as the hidden job market.

So how big is the hidden job market? 70%, 75% or 80% I hear you say? This is nothing but statistical  nonsense of the best kind that cannot be justified. The hidden job market is no way as large as proposed. US Government Bureau of Labor  Statistics in a regular report called JOLTS stated in 2010 that 40,831,000 hires were made. Of this number 25,490,000 were advertised positions.  The difference is 15,341,000 or 38% that falls into the category on unpublished jobs. This is significantly lower that the touted 75% hidden job market.

So, is there a place for networking in your job search tool kit? The answer is yes, and concept of networking as a job search tool must be part of your toolkit when looking for work and not discounted. It should work together as part of a suite of job search methods, and more importantly should be targeted at high value contacts and  people who are genuinely interested in helping you.

Looking for a job by networking is about relationships you have built over time with people in your industry and profession you trust. These are people who are more likely to assist you or direct you to job opportunities that you are not aware because there is a mutual concern for you. The solution to the hidden job market is to engage in sensible networking principles that may assist you in tapping into a less inflated number of unpublished opportunities.

Resume Resurrection…bringing it back to life?

If you have come to this page thinking you are about to discover a new age religion that was lost and found within the depths of the deep Amazon jungle…I’m sorry…you may have to move on to another category!

This post is truly about resumes and how you can dust the cobwebs of your existing template and bring it back to life…resurrect them as part of an ongoing career plan. That is, im assuming you can remember where you keep your resume? Is it In a forgotten file path on your PC or dusting away in the confines of a cabinet draw with other unrelated documents?

So why should you bother? Have you not got enough to think about already? Now the author wants you to develop a career plan amongst all other things. Let me bring this terrible tragedy of the resurrected resume to an end and encourage you to at least consider the benefits of keeping your you profile document up to date.

I have been resurrecting my resume for many years in a way that is less time-consuming than you think…I will explain how to go about it…The best time to resurrect your resume is when you are on leave from work and usually during the Christmas break. You are relaxed and not in constant demand from work and other activities. All of a sudden you have some time up your sleeve to ponder about your future. Yes…its New Year and everyone becomes retrospective about what they did and what they want to be doing better. Your brain is fertile ground for reviewing you resume with the future in mind because you are in the zone, and heaven forbid, you may even be creative and adventurous.

Resumes

Resumes (Photo credit: jdlasica)

Find your old resume document, wherever it is, print out a hardcopy, grab your favourite drink and just look at it for a while. It’s probably out of date, and does not have your current achievements listed. Be critical…is it a true reflection of your projection and profile? If you were a recruiter in your field would you give this person a job?

Spend no more that an hour and pencil in your changes. We all have to set objectives at work every year and then measure our performance against them during the performance review process. This is where you will find your new achievements for your resume.. You only need 2-3 significant objectives that can demonstrate how you contributed to solving Company problems each year. So you don’t even have to think about developing new achievements for your resume. They already exist during the course of your work and all you need to do is to paste them into your resume. So the job is done and it only took around an hour of your time.

So you are still sceptical about this and need more convincing. Let me offer some words of wisdom which is about as close as you will get to a new age religion from me today. Expect the unexpected in life, one day during your career, either yourself or your boss will decide that you need to part ways and move on. It may not happen today or next year, or maybe not for the next 5 years, but being prepared with you career plan will grow your confidence during this difficult time. Because you are in a state of preparedness rather than panic-stricken and anxious.

And how can we not be prepared for ambitious recruitment consultants that head hunt candidates for a living. Maybe you will be approached one day, and I can assure you that the first thing they will ask you for is an updated resume because they need to move quickly on your candidature. Again, it’s about your state of preparedness.

Stealth Performance Management – When you don’t see it coming…

stealth

 It’s cloak and dagger stuff. Or at least, this type of behaviour went out of fashion during the dark ages of autocratic and control freak management. However be warned, not everything is what it seems to be and you should always twist your head sideways  from your computer to see what’s around the corner. Maybe you can’t see it coming…

In my book, how to find a Job in 6 weeks, I discuss the importance of trying to hold onto your job and resolve issues that may plague your portfolio from time to time. That is because its better to be gainfully employed when seeking work rather than unemployed and having to provide a half baked reason why it was imperative you resign from your job. In this context though, we have to be fair also and understand that some actions are beyond your control, and despite every good intention you may have, when your manager decides to go stealth and apply unethical means to push you out the door, that becomes a difficult proposition for anyone to contemplate.

I had a call from a colleague that was distressed about a conversation he had with his boss. He was called into a discussion at short notice disguised as a chat. He was told, its just a chat, and not a performance discussion, however, they wanted to discuss some aspects of his work. If it’s not a performance discussion then why is someone else in the room taking notes? This is when the lines get blurred and stealth management sets-in. The discussion did not go well and my colleague was dragged into a performance review unknowingly. Several aspects about his work performance were raised. He was caught unaware and did not see it coming. There had been no prior performance discussion or concerns raised by his boss.

The best way to protect yourself against stealth management is to follow some guiding principles;

  1. Ask you boss if you are having a performance discussion?
  2. If the chat metamorphosis into a performance discussion you have a right to stop the meeting
  3. You also have a right to have the performance concerns addressed in a formal letter with examples and evidence of poor performance so that you may respond accordingly
  4. You need to check if there is a policy for managing performance, performance improvement plans, in your business and whether your boss has followed procedure
  5. If you do meet again for a formal performance discussion you have the right to a support person
  6. You may need to seek advice from a lawyer or employee advocate to understand your rights during the process
  7. Stay calm and don’t panic during the initial chat, it will hurt you and you will feel let down,however you should maintain your composure.

If you follow these basic principles, your boss will recognise that his conduct in managing the process is now being questioned. Your boss is not above procedure and needs to tow the line also. It just so happens that every once and a while they think they can apply pressure techniques outside a fair process and get away with it. Who knows, maybe they have done it before and got away with it?

And don’t be hard on yourself, sometime these carefully orchestrated events are hard to detect, and we don’t see it coming…