Archives for January 2016

7 Ways to Leave Your Current Job without Burning Bridges

Rusty Bridge by ThreePinner of Flickr

Rusty Bridge by ThreePinner of Flickr

Steven Slater, a JetBlue Airways flight attendant, was frustrated with his job. He had enough one day and quit on the spot. He cursed at the passenger he had been arguing with, grabbed a beer, and slid down the plane’s emergency chute. Slater was hailed as a hero by many, but quickly landed in trouble. His method of quitting burned a lot of bridges, to say the least. Workers who are unhappy deserve to find a better job, but how you quit affects your job search. If you leave your employer in a bind, you may jeopardize your professional future as a reputation for quitting suddenly may follow you. Exercising patience and leaving on good terms will make it easier to land future jobs.

 

  1. Keep your job search confidential

Revealing you are looking for work can cause you to be terminated immediately. Many employers fear that job seekers will depart and take confidential information with them, or they may not give the job their best effort. Ask former employers, co-workers, and clients for recommendations to avoid being discovered during your job search. Be aware that updating your LinkedIn profile may alert employers, but do not let that fear keep you from optimizing your profile. It is a small world and word of your search could travel. Explain to your trusted contacts and potential employers that your job search is confidential. When it comes to references, use previous supervisors. They may ask if your current employer will be a reference. The response to this question depends on how confident you feel that, in spite of your leaving, your employer will sing your praises. Let your prospective employer know that upon receipt of an offer, you will ask your current employer to be a reference. You can be honest if you are uncertain. All too often previous employers are spiteful, though there are laws in most states to protect employees from references that prevent them from landing viable new work.

 

  1. Do not make a dramatic exit

If you have a toxic work culture, or boss, it may be tempting to heed the siren call of gleeful abandonment once your next position is secured. There may be an urge to slap a letter of resignation on your boss’s desk, or to tell your co-workers what you really think of them as you make your exit. Keep your exit civil and classy regardless of your working conditions. You do not know when you may need someone at your company as a future reference. They may hesitate to help you depending on how you departed.

 

  1. Give ample notice

Turn in your notice at least two weeks before your departure. Two weeks is standard, but give a longer notice when possible to be considerate toward your employer. A sudden exit greatly inconveniences your boss, colleagues, and customers, and ensures you leave on bad terms as they scramble to find a replacement. Again, it is a small world and the reputation that you left your employer in a bind may follow you. While being considerate, you also want to protect yourself. Some employers may send you home that day when you give your notice, and you may even find yourself escorted by security. This is a policy sometimes borne out of concern that departing employers may take proprietary information, especially if you accept a job offer with a competitor. Still, give them the consideration of two weeks’ notice.

  1. Train your replacement

Training new employees is time-consuming for many employers. Make the transition easier for your boss by offering to work with your replacement, or to create a training manual. These actions create a win-win-win scenario for everyone involved. Your boss does not have to spend time training a new employee, your replacement is empowered to move into your position with minimal effort, and you leave a reputation of reliability.

  1. Finish your existing projects

Finish your existing projects and tie up loose ends. No one wants to be saddled with the burden of trying to complete someone else’s project. If it is not possible to complete a project, create and keep ample documentation. A finished project or detailed instructions makes it easier for your replacement to move into your role.

 

  1. Connect with co-workers

Let your co-workers know of your departure and offer to keep in touch. Informing your co-workers in advance gives them time to prepare for the transition, though you want to use discretion about who you can trust. Send a farewell message via mass e-mail and give co-workers your contact information, such as a personal e-mail address and a LinkedIn profile. Prepare it before you leave, as you may only have 30 minutes to pack up your belongings and leave the premises. Make sure your colleagues are in your LinkedIn network and stay in contact. You never know where a co-worker may end up, if he or she may be your next boss, or in a prime position to hire you at a future job.

 

counteroffer

  1. Do not accept a counteroffer

Your boss may make a counteroffer once they discover your intent to leave. There are good reasons to deny this offer. It is designed to stop you from leaving, but you may be fired within a few months as they devise a plan to replace you. Additionally, the dissatisfaction that caused you to seek a new job will remain, even with a pay raise. Remind yourself of the reasons you are leaving and stick to your decision.

 

If you work at a less-than-ideal employer, it may be tempting to burn bridges as you exit. We hope you are leaving your employer because you have big plans to become happy professionally. We encourage you to take control and plan your exit. If you really have days that are SO bad that you fantasize about going out in a blaze of glory, what you are really seeking is the ultimate feeling of empowerment. This does not come from that blaze of glory moment- that moment can burn you forever. It comes from intentionally and strategically planning your next move and exiting with class. Chances are there are others at your job having the same fantasy who will be inspired by and perhaps envious of your moving on to bigger and better. This is really the best revenge against employers who have proven undeserving of your talents, effort, and time.

 

How to Use Twitter and Facebook to Land Your Next Job Faster

Facebook Website Screenshot by Spencer E Holtaway of Flickr

Facebook Website Screenshot by Spencer E Holtaway of Flickr

According to the 2015 Jobvite Recruiter Nation survey, 92% of recruiters use social media for recruiting. While it is clear recruiters rely on LinkedIn, you might be surprised to know that 55% use Facebook and 47% use Twitter for recruiting. A strategic presence on multiple social media networks is a way to distinguish yourself from the competition and to land sooner. Social media can be used to catch a hiring manager in the flow of their day, and to grab their attention while your competition waits for their friend to forward an introduction request.

 

Generated by MemeGenerator

Generated by MemeGenerator

Adding Twitter and Facebook to your arsenal of job search tools can be thought of as visiting a secret fishing hole. Except, that hole is not so secret. In fact everyone knows about its location, much like a highway in plain sight. While everyone is using Facebook or Twitter for personal purposes, you can cast your line, attract, and reel in hiring managers and recruiters through these networks.

In Tales from the Flipside, Jack shared his skepticism, bordering on disdain for Twitter. Part of him becoming a Job Search Jedi was expanding his comfort zone, and trying Twitter was a big stretch for him. Much to his delight, and chagrin (because I was right), Jack made contact with an executive at his target company within minutes. This led to a job opportunity within days. This is after Jack tried Linkedin, e-mail, and the phone without success.

 

Complete your profiles and make them interesting

On Twitter show your profile by including professional information as well as nuggets of personal information that add intrigue to your persona. Ask yourself: What is it about me that would make someone stop and say, ‘Interesting! Let me find out more about this person?’ Consider the little things that make you unique. Do you have a secret obsession with bacon-flavored baked goods? Do you crochet tiny animals? Consider your overall uniqueness. What is your mission? What is extraordinary about you? Let people in and give them a sneak peek of who you are.

Facebook provides more characters to create your profile. Create a complete profile that includes your education, work, interests and hobbies. Add details of your work duties and your accomplishments to round out your profile.

On both sites, use an appropriate picture for your profile. Unlike your LinkedIn profile photo, these sites do not have to be professional, but make at least one of the pictures on each site of you (there are usually two- a profile photo and a banner photo). People trust you more if you are confident enough to put your face out there, and they will make a stronger connection with you and your voice. Of course, avoid using a profile picture that is blatantly offensive, something that would earn you a pink slip at work.

 

Engage with relevant industry people and reel them in

Search for relevant people in your industry and follow them on Twitter, especially if they are at a company where you want to work. Use search engines to find them and follow who Twitter suggests. Keep your ratio of following-to-followers close. If you follow many more people than are following you, you may be perceived as a spammer by others.

Add value to your Twitter followers by sharing content on interesting topics outside of your industry and profession; encourage and request input and start discussions. Many industry leaders post about their interests as well as their professional missions and the challenges they confront. Keep track of this by creating a file for each company and thought leader. Provide them with information they like or need in order to solve a pain point. If you are unsure of their pain point, ask them directly! Private message them or publicly @mention them. Go further by asking them what their clients’ pain points are, so you can refer clients to them. Nothing makes a great impression like solving a problem. Tweet Chats are another excellent way to engage with industry professionals or with others on various topics and to grow your network.

 

Organize your social networks

Organize those you follow on Twitter into categories by creating lists. Lists will allow you keep your industry contacts separate from friends, and will ensure that you can easily follow their tweets. In addition to people from your industry, add friends, family, people who amuse or excite you, companies, magazines, and people from other industries.

Tap into your existing network of friends in your industry on Facebook. Create a Friend List and add professional contacts from among your friends. You can add contacts to your list, but they must already be your friend. This will allow you to target your status updates, instead of sending them to everyone. Make sure your friends understand the value you are driven to contribute in your next job, who you want to meet, and where you would like to work.

Expand your network on Facebook by using the Follow option. Unlike Twitter, a person has to have the Follow option turned on in their profile. If this is option is not turned on, you will have to send that person a friend request. Like others’ posts and engage them with thoughtful comments, perhaps even directing them to other thought leaders and resources to keep the conversation going.

 

Create, share, and post interesting content

Update Twitter frequently with useful industry information and content from industry leaders. Three to five tweets are the ideal number to post, but anything over 50 tweets per day and you risk losing followers. If you write, tweet links to your articles or blog posts. Ask questions of others and start conversations. Try to avoid emotionally-charged debates, and stay away from political arguments, as they are a turn-off to potential employers and followers. 55% of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate (with 61% of those reconsiderations being negative) because of off-color posts. There are exceptions- if you are seeking a mission-based profession that requires raising awareness to be successful, you’ll need to prove that you are not afraid to be vocal and informative. This is while still being tactful, influential, and appealing enough to inspire people to action. Do not bash your employer or complain about your co-workers. Your future employer will envision being on the receiving end of those comments.

Update your Facebook status with career-related activities, industry information, and what you are looking to give to your next employer. Facebook status updates are less formal and longer than LinkedIn status updates, but briefer than LinkedIn published posts. Use humor whenever possible and include pictures, as they statistically increase views and engagement. The more you post, the more you appear in your friends’ newsfeeds. However, two posts per day will suffice. Strike a balance in your posting frequency. You can always save content for another day. Be responsive to those who do comment and share your posts, and make sure you are spending time doing the same for others.

 

Be consistent and reliable

Consistence on your social networks allows you to be reliable. Earn the loyalty of your followers by being loyal to them. Do not take ignored comments personally. People are busy and news feed algorithms change all the time. If you want a request urgently from someone, call or text them. Social media is regarded by most as a non-urgent venue of communication, and they may have a preference toward another social media platform.

Try finding them on another social network such as Google+, Tumblr, or Instagram. Engage them directly by commenting on an article they have written or in the comments section of a personal blog. Your persistence will pay off when they take notice of you and a virtual contact becomes a real-life contact, opening job opportunity doors. This does not happen all the time, but if one venue of connecting is not working, experimenting with other venues can pay off with personal attention. I have successfully used social media to engage with my favorite speakers, best-selling authors, and even celebrities.

Social media is where you can make a virtual connection with people, but you need to convert this conversation into a real-world exchange. Once you have the engagement (picture the fish on the hook) you have to real them in (this is the adding of value- asking them their pain points, what their most important initiatives are, and what their clients’ pain points are).

Adding Twitter and Facebook to your job search arsenal enables you to tap into a vast job search network hidden in plain sight. Build your tribe through two of the most popular social networks rather than just focusing on the professional networks, to add additional value and to make your network more dynamic. Instead of trolling the job boards where most find frustration and overcrowded avenues to job openings, you could be enjoying the exchanges you have. Even after you land, these networks will enrich your personal and professional life, enabling you to stay on top of new opportunities. You will be more aware of where new opportunities are as long as you stay visible and engaged. Use Twitter and Facebook as tools of the trade to bait potential employers, reel them in, and land your next job.

 

Are You Too Picky in Your Job Search?

Job search by Aaron Gaines of Flickr

Job search by Aaron Gaines of Flickr

Is there such a thing as being too picky in your job search? Is it possible to have standards, expectations, or criteria so high that it becomes difficult to land?

When I was a recruiter, I had a consultant with a unique set of challenges, and very valuable niche clinical trial skills. She lived within five miles of a major pharmaceutical company for which she completed an 18-month contract, and then she was not allowed to return or extend her contract due to the company’s strict policy. The policy was designed to eliminate the risk of having any consultants misconstrue their employment relationship with the company and any claim to employee benefits. We wanted to place her again, because she was a very presentable candidate and her skill set was high in demand. However, her job criteria was to work for another pharmaceutical company within a five-mile radius of her house. This did not exist. In spite of her criteria, any time a position opened up in another company, we called her to try and convince her that she would not find what she was seeking.

She was also collecting unemployment compensation from my firm. As you can see, this became an issue that did not just impact the consultant’s ability to land something new, but it became costly to us. It was a lose-lose-lose situation. Our clients lost a good prospect. She lost her ability to make a great rate and to gain additional experience that could help further develop her skills; and we lost money on unemployment compensation and the margin we would make for placing her.

This brings up a good point about the other stakeholders in your career. Who else has an investment in whether you land and what you earn? Are you borrowing or living off of someone else while you search for something better? They will want to tell you to take anything, to be fair to them. However, taking anything could put you back on “their couch” within six months.  Many people perceive their challenges as being too great, and as a result, settle for less. Adjusting your criteria and your strategy will help you overcome a difficult job search.

It may take a little longer to find the right position that will return you to a good standard of living long-term, and then again, it may not take as much time as trying to market yourself for anything available. Those stakeholders want to make sure you are making an effort. If you need to educate them on why you are being more selective, you can show them this article, but make sure you are seeking something achievable. (If you have doubts, contact us for a consultation.)

It is possible to have standards and expectations that are so high that it may take longer to land at your next employer. The challenges may not be as specific as the consultant we tried to place, but a few common challenges do exist.

 

Challenge: Age

Age is one major example with its own unique set of challenges. Hiring managers may assume senior professionals are out-of-date when it comes to technology, or that they may command a higher salary than a younger worker. It is true that especially during the poor economy, some companies replaced experienced workforces with fresher, cheaper talent, but they also suffered from their staff not getting the benefit of experienced professionals’ wisdom, trial and error, and their ability to navigate VIP relationships. The value of experience can be sold!

Another perceived risk of hiring an older worker is more related to health and vitality. How many more years do they have in them? Are they half out the door into retirement? Do they have the stamina to keep up with younger staff? Are they “with it” enough to relate to the millennial workforce? These challenges and perceptions can be overcome by being the picture of health and energy. Take care of yourself- exercise and eat well. Promote activities outside of work on your LinkedIn profile that prove you are dynamic and have the stamina to maintain a full plate and thrive. Most importantly, keep up with technological trends by reading tech blogs, following tech authorities, and experimenting with new technologies and social media platforms.

 

Challenge: Lack of qualifications

You may not have all the qualifications needed for a position. Many great companies would RATHER hire someone who has the aptitude to learn the skills rather than someone who has the skills mastered. This is especially true if they already have a master of skills on their staff, and if that master is looking to move upward, and they want to create growth and development opportunities. One way to overcome being underqualified is to build rapport and establish a relationship with hiring managers, or employees at your companies of choice. It is not just about the relationship here, but more about the unique value you can bring to the table. Yes, a hiring manager wants to hire someone they like and feel comfortable with, but hiring is a business decision, and the hire is going to make the manager look good; so an applicant better bring something unique to the table.

An interesting statistic I learned at the PA Conference for Women is that women will apply if they have 7-out-of-10 qualifications, while men will apply if they have 3-out-of-10 qualifications. If it were true that the most qualified candidate obtains the job, women would be landing at these jobs, but only if they threw their hat into the ring. Does this make you rethink your applications?

 

Challenge: Being overqualified

Hiring managers may assume if your education and experience are more than what the position requires, you will command a higher salary as well. Or they may fear you will quickly become disengaged and will leave as soon as the next job opportunity arrives. However, some people legitimately want to take a step back. I have had many clients that for heath reasons no longer want the stress and responsibility of their executive jobs. They want to assemble widgets. They want to do something monotonous and cathartic. Yes, they can bring a certain something with them from their executive experience that could be very valuable in developing the team as a whole- this is where you have to be careful, though. If you want to assemble widgets now, sell your ability to make widgets, not your previous executive experience.

You cannot refute the personal experiences other people have had. Hiring managers and recruiters have already experienced more senior workers underestimating the challenge of NOT being the manager, not having input into how things are done, and not being able to mesh with a younger staff. You cannot easily overcome this perception by promoting your executive experience as a value-add, and you cannot just convince someone that it will not be a problem and that you will be satisfied with a lower position. Recruiters and hiring managers have heard these reassurances before and have lived to regret them. Before jumping into a major career shift, take a few moments to consider what you really want from that shift and your overall goals.

Too many others have sought lower opportunity because they had challenges looking for work at their level that they could not overcome because of their limited knowledge of job search strategy. Being more flexible is advice many people get, and it seems logical – if you cannot land something suitable, settle for something less. Seeking work at a lower level can be a good opportunity, but only if a company is willing to offer growth opportunities. It is similar to taking a position for which you are underqualified. That said, beware of not so great companies that only want to take advantage of desperate workers willing to accept lesser pay.

Do not underestimate the cost of working for a not so great company. You will have found employment, but consider the detrimental costs to your health, quality of life, and your self-esteem. These companies are often bullies who create a toxic work culture and make you feel and believe over time that you are somehow lucky to have work, fostering a fear of leaving. This is essentially mental abuse. No one has to ever settle for this!  Searching when overqualified often takes LONGER as you get invited for interviews, think you have better experience than other candidates, only to find out that you did not get the job. This cycle can affect your faith in yourself and in your chances of finding work, but there is nothing wrong with you- just your strategy and system. We can help!

 

Our take

Having high standards (within reason) may make it slightly more difficult to land, but it is possible. Know what you want, map a plan out to achieve it, and pursue your goals. If it is not viable as the next step, fill in the steps in between. What steps do you need to take to achieve what you want? More training? Acquiring new skills? Discovering how you can apply your existing skills, if you are not completely qualified? There are ways to overcome these challenges* and we have already helped our clients through many of them.

*There are challenges we are not adept at handling (see the FAQs on this page), but we do have resources and partners who do specialize in helping you overcome unique challenges.

Overcoming challenges sometimes requires shifting tracks or retraining. Grit, or your perseverance and passion for long-term goals, is a key ingredient in your job search, but you could also run the risk of spinning your wheels and burning out with the wrong strategy and job search system. We have devised the perfect system that will help you do this in 90 days or less, guaranteed, if you find that you are wasting valuable time (and potential income) figuring this out for yourself. We are here to be your partner.

 

Is your search filled with unique challenges that make it more difficult to land? Are you being too picky in your job search? It may be tempting to lower your standards and settle for less.  However, a shift in your criteria or a change in your mindset will help you overcome these challenges. If it is possible for someone else to land their desired job, you can certainly do the same. If you are having a difficult time creating a road map, we can help! Do not settle for less because your criteria and standards are higher than most. If you are hesitant with a difficult job search, here is some advice to consider from comedian Jim Carrey: “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance with what you do what.”

 

 

Create Your Best Year Yet, Part 2

Goal Setting by Angie Torres of Flickr

Goal Setting by Angie Torres of Flickr

Do you feel as if you lived up to your potential during the last year? Are you still playing catch-up from the hits you took during the economic slump? Are you ready to make big changes in your professional life? Your previous year may not have been the best in terms of job success, but now is your chance to make a rebound and create the breakthroughs you desire. You are no longer bound by the shortcomings of the previous year. New job search adventures that enable you to put your life on an upward track await you. Now is the time to create your best year yet!

Creating your best year starts with attainable goals that allow you to achieve your dreams. Take a moment to reflect on your highs and lows from the previous year. If any attachments from the previous year are holding you back, take the time to release them. Where have you been and where would you like to proceed? Remember, where you have been does NOT limit where you can go. What are your biggest career goals? What have you done to achieve them? If your biggest goal is to simply land a new job, it is time to dream and plan bigger. Now is your time! Now is your greatest year! However, you will not obtain your best year yet without planning, especially in your job search. What do you want from a future employer? What are your long-term career goals? How quickly do you want to land? How do you want your job to enhance your life? Once you have your goals in mind write them down and create a plan of action, and commit to that action.

 

1. What are your counter-desires?

Once you have decided what your career goals are, and what you do and do not want from your next job, it is time to consider your counter-desires. As Esther Hicks, an inspirational speaker, puts it, “Any time you decide what you don’t want, a counter-desire is born.” This is a logical place to decide what you want. Approach your counter-desires with the mindset that achieving your goals is possible, and that you deserve to complete them. Think about it in this manner- if anyone else has completed it, you do not need any further evidence that it is possible. Why not you? We know that plenty of people search for and land jobs. There are no reasons why you cannot do the same. Most people have challenges; all you need are solutions (we have those!). Look for inspiration from others who are already where you want to be.

 

2. Sit down and decide what your career goals are

Career goals are more than just settling for the first employer that will hire you, or finding a new position with a higher salary. Sitting down, figuring out what is best for you, and writing those goals down are critical first steps. Evaluate and reflect upon what you want from an employer in order to feel fulfilled. If you plunge head first into a job search without goals, or a plan of action, you risk being dissatisfied in the long-run. This could be in the form of a continued job search that extends for several more months, or landing a position with an employer you are not passionate about. Take the time to set goals to ensure that you have a solid vision of how your job search will flow and that you have a desired end-goal in mind, beyond landing.

Setting goals can consist of creating micromovements as a way to get started. Think about setting smaller goals that can be done in five minutes or less, as you move toward your larger goal. These goals will propel you forward in your job search, help you determine what you do and do not want, make a seemingly difficult task less difficult, and will help ignite your drive during your search as you build goal-achieving momentum. Who can’t find five minutes to move toward their goals?

 

3. Develop your S.M.A.R.T. goals to form a plan of action

I fully believe in the phrase, “work smarter, not harder.” S.M.A.R.T. goals are an excellent way to begin setting realistic goals that are achievable. I was impressed when I learned that Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business teaches their seniors how to develop S.M.A.R.T. goals for their job search in the mandatory Career Management course I teach. S.M.A.R.T. goals are defined as:

Specific: Do not be vague. Exactly what do you want?

Measurable: Quantify your goal. How will you know if you have achieved it or not?

Attainable: Be honest with yourself about what you can reasonably accomplish at this point in your life- along with taking your current responsibilities into consideration. It has to be doable, real, and practical.

Results-oriented: What is the ideal outcome? How will you know you achieved your goal?

Time: Associate a timeframe with each goal. When should you complete the goal and/or the steps associated with completing the goal?

S.M.A.R.T. goals, as opposed to common goals, enable you to be optimally effective in developing and achieving your goals.

For example:

A common job search goal may be to land a job soon.

A S.M.A.R.T. job search goal would be to land at one of your top five choices within two months, by contacting ten people each week, and setting up at least two meetings each week.

Goals2Go has an excellent tutorial video and worksheets on how to develop, set, and apply S.M.A.R.T. goals.

 

 

Goals-Theres-no-telling- Jim Rohn

 

 

Your previous year may not have been your best year. You may have felt as if you did not live up to your professional and economic potential. Or perhaps you are still recovering from the economic slump. Now is the best time to create your best year yet. Leave the difficulties of the previous year behind by starting the New Year with attainable career goals. These are goals you have taken the time to carefully develop in a  S.M.A.R.T. way, these goals are an obtainable plan of action, and they form a vision for what your job search will look like. You will dream big, land quickly, and obtain the position you want at an employer that excites and fulfills you. Can you feel it? This IS your best year yet!