Archives for unemployment

Could a Simple Shift Produce Breakthrough Results in Your Job Search?

 

Even though most job seekers have heard that job boards are not a very reliable resource to create momentum in your job search, it’s still a default activity for most job seekers.

I know it’s very hard to resist the seduction of low hanging fruit. It may seem counter-intuitive to NOT apply when you see a great job posting show up in your job board results or among the postings sent directly to your e-mail, but are you happy with the results you get?

There are dangerous, not just detrimental, impacts of spending most of your time on these job boards, which include:

  • Negating the potential for a current employee to earn a referral bonus for sponsoring you.
  • Haphazard applying can sometimes lead to multiple submissions into a company, which can disqualify you; companies don’t want to get in the middle of placement fee disputes.
  • Believing that job board search results are good indications of the viability of landing the position you want, then…
    • Deciding that the job you want isn’t viable when the results show few postings
    • Deciding that landing will be easy and is just a matter of playing a numbers game when many postings show up
  • Expecting a response or any kind of return on the time you take applying through job boards, then…
    • When a response does come that lets you know your application was seen, believing that you are getting somewhere with that job
      • Then spending more time preparing for something to happen with that job instead of spending time generating new opportunities
        • Letting momentum slip and then when that job falls through having to start back at 0.
      • When few responses come back believing that there is something wrong with you, that you are not an attractive viable candidate
        • Questioning your self-worth
        • Devising a plan B (or C or D) believing that plan A isn’t feasible
          • Falling into depression as hope slips
        • Finding it hard to stay motivated
          • Being even more likely to continue doing what is easy, not what’s effective, but requires you to be brave
        • Putting a lot of pressure on yourself to perform in an interview.
          • Making you even more nervous, less confident and ineffective at inspiring the confidence of prospective employers
          • Increasing the likeliness of you having to take the first job that’s offered rather than the job the represents your best chance of success
            • Having to swim upstream every day to keep your head above water
            • Feeling like you’re not able to be your whole self at work
              • Increasing your chances of illness and chronic disease

This is not hyperbole! This cascade of negative consequences happens all the time, and it’s something I would love to help everyone avoid!

Have you been here? I have!

Here’s some good news – avoiding it is simple. It’s not easy, as creating new habits is a challenge for many (unless made easier through hypnosis.) However, with a conscious shift in how you spend your time, you can reverse your fortune and enjoy exponential momentum that leads to multiple, attractive, competing offers and your ability to take control of your career destiny!

If you don’t believe me, great – try this 14-day experiment:

Every time you would normally be compelled to check the job boards or the agents send directly to your inbox, go on LinkedIn and do any one of the following instead:

Monday:  Make a list of 10 target companies

Identify your top 5 criteria for your next company, team, or boss and enter a search in the search bar for related keywords, like “social responsibility.” Try filtering results to search content first, but try all of the search categories until you get a hit.  Add the company name to the list. That’s it today – just focus on making the list. Don’t check them out – yet.

Conduct what I call spider research to identify additional companies. This is where you follow “bread crumb” trails. This can mean following the prompts that LinkedIn offers, such as “People also searched for:” or evaluating the profiles of people who work at a company to see where else they worked.

Stop when you have identified 10 prospective companies.

Tuesday: Deep dive into your target companies through LinkedIn

Make it a mission to uncover all of the content available.  Put the company name into the search bar, but go beyond the company’s LinkedIn company page.

Search for content related to that company. Evaluate the employment history of leaders and employees.

While you’re doing that, make a “hit list” of people who seem approachable, people who seem like avid networkers and people who share content and engage.

Create company reports, a place where you can compile relevant information you find, such as the company’s goals, mission, challenges, stances on industry trends, and key people.

If they happen to have a job opening that seems appropriate for you, copy and paste that in the company report as well, recording any contacts that may be connected to the job opening or the company.

Don’t apply. Remember, this experiment is designed to show you how you can make something happen and take control instead of taking the “short cut” that doesn’t actually get you any closer to landing the job.

Wednesday: Take massive action and do it in bulk  

This may sound odd, but pump yourself up physically before doing today’s experiment. Lift weights, do pushups, go for a brisk walk or jog, do yoga etc. This neurohack of the mind-body connection tends to make you feel a bit bolder and braver. It will increase the oxygen to your brain which will help you make good decisions and think more creatively.  The endorphins running through your body will put you in a good mood, which will make you more magnetic to your prospects.

Your primary goal here is to start a conversation. Getting a job is your end goal, and a noble, if not necessary one, but initially you need to get the attention of your prospective employers and potential sponsors. This means knowing, or at least guessing, what will incite action. It could be a pain they need relieving, or a contact you know will help move them forward, competitive intelligence, something related to a personal passion, or flat out asking them for help.

Most people will default to sending a LinkedIn Inmail or invitation. But, when a phone number is available among a contact’s contact information, try it. This is an experiment intended to help you understand the most impactful ways to invest your time in your job search. There’s a reason people put phone numbers in their profiles – they want people to call.

Thursday: Follow up promptly and nurture your network

It’s possible you will have responses that you’ll want to respond to immediately, but even if you don’t, you can still use today’s reallocation of time toward expanding your network and visibility by spreading the love.  Comb through content worth sharing. Make introductions for people. Give people recommendations and endorsements. Share other people’s status updates or posts. Make thoughtful comments on high-engagement articles and posts in your home feed or those from specific thought leaders in your target industry. Direct message job leads to people. As you share, let them know that you are concentrating on connecting with [enter potential boss’s title] at [target company/companies] so that you can [value proposition.]

Friday: Find another way

While the purposes of this experiment is to find ways to leverage LinkedIn to get further faster than you would with job boards, it’s not the end-all/be-all resource. If someone lacks a picture, 500+ contacts, recent activity, and a summary or job descriptions, LinkedIn is probably not going to get you visible to this person because they are not using it in the flow of their day. You want to interrupt the flow of their day and get their attention, so look for other venues where they may be more active – non-profit involvement, other social media platforms, directly in their e-mail inbox, or even in their social circles.

Identify and follow up on a potential new venue to get the attention of your prospective employers or sponsors.

Track the time you spend, and track the results that you get as a result of the time. Results look like introductions offered and made, meetings scheduled (even if by phone), interviews (of course), and leads shared.

Tony Robbins said that there’s a millimeter of difference between success and failure. Usually, it’s the small shifts that cause the most significant breakthroughs.

Please share the results of this experiment, some of which may not be instant, but may be results nonetheless.

Best wishes and happy experimenting!

Oingo Boingo – Weird Science

1985) For most of the 80’s Oingo Boingo was to L.A. and Orange County what the Grateful Dead was to San Francisco. Oingo Boingo developed the kind of fan following that made every appearance an event. They were “our band”, and we believed they knew and appreciated our enthusiasm.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Plans A Through D for Getting Noticed by Employers

writing business plans by informedmag.com

Flat out– I cannot guarantee even a cover letter I write is going to be read by human eyes. Even though I identify and research my client’s most logical next boss, find out what is most important to them, target their hot buttons, and write a subject line that cannot be ignored for an email sent directly to them AND instruct my clients to send a printed copy snail mail in a letter-sized envelope labeled “CONFIDENTIAL” (a technique that goes back before e-mail, but what is old has become new again as fewer people use the technique), there is still no telling if the intended recipient will receive the communication. There certainly is no insuring that, as compellingly as it is written, that it will be read.

That is pretty frustrating, right? I mean the investment to have me write one deeply researched, highly targeted cover letter is $125. Even though our clients recognize that the letter could not be written any better, and if the recipient is not going to read it, there is nothing we could send that would be any more compelling to open. It is still a crapshoot.

So many people perceive the importance and relevance of cover letters so differently that there is no one right answer to whether they are read or not. This depends on multiple factors, including how many cover letters the individual receives, whether they feel anyone could say anything distinctly enough to make reading a cover letter a good investment of time, and whether they really care who is above and beyond the résumé. There are a lot of things that I and you can do, however, to increase the chances that you will be able to use a cover letter to stand out among other prospective employees and land an interview.

All of these things are already covered in my very popular YouTube video.

Far too many people still think of a job search as a numbers game. Think about this, though– why do marketing experts tailor messaging to niche audiences?

The answer is because they increase their chances of converting prospects into customers or clients by appealing to what motivates different individuals to make an investment or purchase. This is a big part of branding.

Let’s assume that makes sense to you and you now see how campaigning to a select group of companies that represent your best chance to thrive and succeed will get you closer to your next great career move faster than what is called the “stray bullet” approach. This approach is also known as throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. I don’t know about you, but when I see stuff stuck to a wall, I don’t want to keep it.

Instead, you create a target list of companies and decide each week which ones you are going to focus your efforts on.

Plan A is actually to identify and engage an internal sponsor who will make sure that your interest in working for the company gets to the right person with a strong recommendation. These efforts can be ongoing, but in the meantime if Plan A does not work out immediately, Plan B is to engage me to write a deeply researched, highly targeted cover letter, or you write a letter of your own. Let’s say there is no response. Then what?

A critical part of each letter should be the expectation that you will be following up via phone the very next week to confirm receipt. Since you always want to be perceived as someone who does what they say they are going to do, follow up promptly. If I am able to identify the recipient’s direct phone number, obviously that is preferred, however nowadays dial-by-name directories are available on nearly every switchboard. Call the main number. Then what do you say should you reach the person or get their voicemail?

Obviously, you tell them your name and you tell them that you wanted to confirm receipt of a letter you sent last week (do not say it was a cover letter), then identify one thing – a pain, initiative, or challenge that you strongly suspect they are experiencing. This should be something that you also know based on what you have been able to achieve in the past, in which you can alleviate or accelerate. You really just want to tease them, so you do not tell the whole story – just the outcome. This will compel them to want to know more. You may also share with them a resource, such as an article, that you thought could be helpful.

If this is a live phone call, stop there and invite them to schedule a 20 minute phone call, in which you can share more. This assumes that you have consideration for whatever they were right in the middle of, and that you will not take up too much of their time. Should they be so interested, this phone call instantly turns into a phone screening. However, you will aim to ask questions, like a consultant. Do you understand better what is most important to them, what problems are causing the most pain, what initiatives are the most exciting, and what challenges are the most daunting?

If you happen to reach their voicemail, let them know you were also going to follow up via email in case that is the most convenient way for them to get back to you, and share the resource in the email. As with the live call, invite them to speak further for about 20 minutes.

Plan C is to try to find out what other media, social media, professional events, or social events enable you to capture their attention where few others will be vying for it.

Plan D, which is most job seekers’ Plan A, is to apply online.

If you identify yourself as one of those job seekers, I challenge you to do a little experiment– time how long it takes you to fill out an online application. Hopefully you are already keeping track of online submission activity. Add up how much time you spend each week applying online, and next week use that same amount of time to pick two-to-five companies you think would be ideal employers for you, and use the recipe in my YouTube video to write and send a deeply researched, highly targeted cover letter right to the person to whom you would report directly.

If you get a response, you know that you have used a much more effective method of making sure that you are visible and noticed. If you do not get a response, use my follow-up protocol and go to Plan C.

 

This might be way out of your comfort zone. I get it. But I want you to consider how uncomfortable looking for new job is when you are at the mercy of so many unknown and unseen forces. You will become more comfortable using this approach when you realize that you can make things happen.

 

Unemployment in Review

Balloon Release by Greg Williams of Flickr

Balloon Release by Greg Williams of Flickr

 

Statistics reported by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics

The national unemployment rate has trended downward all year and is now at 4.7% with 7.4 million unemployed. Unemployment has not been this low since November of 2007. It peaked in October of 2011 with 15.3M unemployed, more than double today’s unemployment rate.

There are 9.5M people not in the labor force at all. This has trended upward since July 2006 when 7.6M people were not in the labor force. Only 5.5M of these people not in the labor force actually want a job. This peaked in May 2013 with 7.2M not in the workforce, but wanting a job. So, while there are more people not in the labor force, fewer of them today want a job. 1.9M of those not in the labor force and wanting a job actually searched for work and were available to work.

So you might be thinking that the people who are not in the workforce and not interested in work or have not searched for work are the discouraged workers. Not necessarily. They have their own designation, however that number peaked in December of 2010 with 1.3M discouraged, disengaged people. Since then, the numbers have trended down to less than half at 591,000.

I do not know specifically why there would be such a population of people 16 years or older (the legal working age) not actively working right now and not interested in doing so, but I can list some possibilities: They could be caretakers, students, permanently disabled, mentally ill, ill, addicted, incarcerated, retired, or self-employed.

8.1M of the EMPLOYED population hold multiple jobs. This number had been trending upward, hitting its peak in July 2008, and while it has gone up and down, since August of 2015 it has been rising.

9.5M of the EMPLOYED population are self-employed, but unincorporated.

The number of persons experiencing long spells of unemployment (over a year) decreased steadily to 1.2M from its peak in July 2011 with 4.5M unemployed for over a year.

1.9M individuals have been unemployed for 6 months or more, a huge decrease from its peak in April 2010 of 6.8M, and the lowest it has been since August of 2008.

The average number of weeks that job seekers are staying unemployed has decreased over the months to 26.3, which has also gone down significantly from its peak in July 2011 when the average unemployment period was 40.7 weeks. The median unemployment period is now 10.1 weeks, which is the lowest it has been since November 2008.

 

Such a difference between the mean and the average may reflect that for most industries and geographies, job seekers may be able to transition within three months. However, a greater majority are either not be able to effectively execute a transition campaign or may be in adversely impacted geographies or shrinking markets, creating challenges to transitioning that lead to extremely long spells of unemployment.

 

How to Tell if You’re About to be Laid Off

CIMG6096 by Daniel of Flickr

CIMG6096 by Daniel of Flickr

 

It is always worse when a layoff comes out of left field, isn’t it? There is definitely something to be said about being mentally prepared to find a new job. Of course there is even more to be said when you are fully prepared with an updated résumé and a branded LinkedIn profile that will position you for what’s next.

I can relate to being in denial; I certainly should have seen the signs coming before my first layoff after 9-11. Even though I had been yearning for greater responsibility and wanting to either move up or move on, I took my layoff very hard. When it took ten months to find something new, and that something new was a step back, I regretted not being more prepared.

That was the first of three times, so I feel like I have learned a little something about how to tell when bad news is coming. The more warning you have, the higher the chances that you can turn the bad news into a positive next step.

 

1. News of future plans grows quiet

Any company doing well is going to want to generate excitement about the future. If projects are suddenly put on hold, or high-priority projects that your manager had previously told you were coming down the pike suddenly don’t seem as important, something is about to change.

This treatment could even seem like being given the cold shoulder. You may be starting to consider whether you should just confront your boss directly. If you do, be prepared to hear no news or to receive bad news. Ultimately and unfortunately, when bad news is impending there is a pecking order for who is told first.

 

2. Your employer no longer spends money on certain things

This could refer to perks, travel, technology, training, or even bonuses. Even if there are no immediate plans for the company’s leadership to sell or close, and you can see that the focus is more on cutting costs than growing, it is only a matter of time before they lose market share or become obsolete. If you want to be noble and go down with a sinking ship, that is your prerogative, but simultaneously prepare a life boat. Read over any non-competes, decide what company you want to target, update your LinkedIn profile and start reconnecting with people in your network, update your résumé, and decide how you are going to tell people about why you are looking for something new. (Do so in that order.)

 

3. Other people are being let go

This sounds pretty obvious, but I have seen some professionals insist that those who were let go were logical choices, whereas they were top performers. This is who gets hit by the news the hardest. You might have done everything right, you might have established that you are irreplaceable, and still be the victim of a workforce reduction. Does it have to do with your salary? Maybe. You will spend days and weeks trying to figure out what you could have done differently and the answer could be nothing. Instead, act immediately to position yourself as a rock star and a thought leader in high demand. Promote everything that you have done to add value to your employer and promote your résumé through social media. Consider publishing posts and responding to calls for speakers at industry conferences. Set up lunch meetings. Organize happy hours.

 

Being uncertain of the future and being in flux are very uncomfortable for most people. The best way to ease your worry is to make something happen. Start to build momentum. Even if you are wrong and your job is completely secure, you might open new doors to unexpected opportunities.

 

A Winning Job Search Day: What It Looks Like to Be In the Groove

Weekly Goals Setting by Cloud Planner of Flickr

Weekly Goals Setting by Cloud Planner of Flickr

What does your typical job search day look like?

Usually when I ask that question, the answer is, “Searching and applying for jobs online.”

We have all heard by now that networking is the number one way to land a job, but still, the siren call of the low-hanging fruit is too tempting to resist.  Forming new habits is already a challenge for our brain, but what I have found keeps most people from moving into JoMo (Job Momentum) is that they do not have a clear picture of what a day looks like when you are truly in the job search groove.

Below is a sample schedule of a job seeker who most likely has multiple viable job opportunities in progress, or will very soon.

I guarantee that if you spend even three of five days a week executing this schedule, as long as you have an effectively branded résumé, LinkedIn profile, and call to action, within two weeks you will have opened the door to an opportunity that you could consider to be the next great step in your career.

As we have stated many times before, it is not about the QUANTITY of time as it is about the QUALITY of time.

jobsearchschedule01

 

Are you working full-time and wondering how your day would look if you were WINNING at job searching?

That is actually a very common question. Again, even if this is your day three days per week, with the right tools and conversations, you will soon find that you are building JoMo.

jobsearchschedule02

Most importantly, I want you to know that it is okay when life happens. This guide is meant to serve as a model and is not intended to make you feel guilty. As we shared last week, studies prove that the worse you feel, the worse you will perform and vice versa.

Do what you can. The point we really want you to take away is that it is not how much you do or how hard you work that makes the difference in your results, but what you do when you have the time to give to your job search. Job boards may seem easy, but they too often lead to a spiral of frustration and disappointment, time wasted on anti-user interfaces, and a lack of response that seems to mean that you are not wanted or valuable.  Also, people seem to underestimate the number of viable opportunities that are available by depending too heavily on job boards to uncover opportunity.

You do not have to be the victim of a broken hiring system. You CAN make things happen, and when you do, you realize that your EPIC future is yours to design.

 

So, your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to try this schedule three days a week for two weeks. Report back to us with your results.

If nothing has happened for you, let us evaluate your résumé, LinkedIn profile, and campaign.  We will help you diagnose what may be holding you back and propose a roadmap to get you back on track.

 

Unemployment is NOT Easy Money

Unemployment Office by Bytemarks of Flickr

Unemployment Office by Bytemarks of Flickr

If you are on unemployment and doing contracting for temp work, you need to know this…

Honesty is always the best policy. Sometimes being honest can hurt you financially in the short-term, but being dishonest can certainly hurt you worse in the long-term. Learn from my experience.

I have received unemployment benefits from two states throughout my career, in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. My first career was in radio, and I tried to make a go at a full-time career, but also needed to afford living on my own. I discovered that a better financial decision was to work long-term temp assignments full-time while working nights and weekends in radio.

A company that I had worked at for 10 months was reorganizing and laying off people, and I was relieved from my assignment. It was usually no more than two weeks in between long-term temp assignments, but this particular gap was longer than normal. I had no idea that I could receive partial unemployment benefits until a co-worker at the radio station informed me.

So, I filed for partial unemployment, which enabled me to pay my bills. I picked up extra hours at the radio station doing voiceover projects, and continued to lobby for a full-time position there while pursuing other full-time jobs in broadcasting, sales and marketing both in New Jersey and back home in Pennsylvania.

The temp agency was fully aware of my intentions to find a full-time, permanent position, but that I was willing to work another long-term assignment. After all, it was really a great way to test out different companies, different industries, and different roles. This is how I discovered recruiting and decided to pursue it eventually. The assignment they offered me, however, were one to two week stints. There was also a critical need for augmented staff and because of that, I would not have been permitted to take any time off to have an interview for a full-time position, so I turned it down. That’s when I realized that unemployment is not easy money.

The temp agency reported I had turned down work to the state of New Jersey. I received notification that, not only would my unemployment benefits halt immediately, but they were billing me for all of the unemployment benefits I had already received– the money I had already spent on bills.

Thankfully, there were a couple of opportunities that were in progress. One was door-to-door sales, which was very outside of my comfort zone, but I knew I would gain great training and skills that I would apply to my eventual recruiting career. It was commission only, and was back in Pennsylvania, so I had to move. The other opportunity was advertising sales for a newspaper, and it required that I work six days a week including holidays, and didn’t pay as well as most of the temp jobs that I had worked. Additionally, it offered very little room for growth (I doubt if this newspaper is even still around).

While I relocated myself back home to live with my bachelor father, I complied with the appeals process for the state of New Jersey. If you have ever moved you know how chaotic that time can be. Imagine the additional administrative burden of dealing with state government, learning and starting a new job where income is only earned if you make a sale, and I was wrapping up a nearly two-year relationship that had gone south.

I am so thankful that I kept great records of every company to which I applied and every follow-up action that I took, because I was attempting to prove to the state that I was only denying short-term work because it inhibited my ability to look for long-term work. Being able to show the state all of my efforts proved my case.

I was about a month into my new job already when a trial-by-phone with a judge finally occurred. I was very straightforward. “Yes, I did deny work with X Staffing Company.” I was able to show them that I had an interview already scheduled with an employer for a full-time permanent position. I empathized with the judge, stating that I know many people take advantage of the system. However, I had taken on extra hours at the radio station whenever possible, had documented very well how actively I was seeking full-time permanent positions, and had eventually landed so that I was no longer a burden to the system. I was no longer dependent on unemployment benefits. The judge found in my favor. I was not required to pay back the unemployment compensation.

Fast forward years later, I was recruiting for an IT consulting firm. Consultants in between assignments sometimes filed for unemployment compensation, and we kept records of when a consultant receiving benefits “on us” turned down “reasonable” work.

What I have learned from both this experience and two other experiences with unemployment, is that not only is honesty the best policy, but also keep great records of all of your activities (we offer our Epic Careering Tool Kit for just this purpose) and make sure you do not have to rely on unemployment benefits for very long.

I know a lot of out of work job seekers perceive that investing in services like ours is like spending money that might be needed to pay bills. In reality, and all too often, the investment isn’t made, and money runs out because a job is not landed, and I hear, “I should’ve engaged you last year.” I literally heard these very words twice this month.

I will not let you invest your money in our branding services if it is not going to pay off in a job; it is why we offer free consultations. You get to try us out, but we also make sure that the challenges that you have are ones we can help you overcome. Download, complete and send us your needs assessment and résumé to receive an invitation to schedule yours.

 

Four Experts Agree: Smart People Engage Coaches

Time is Money

Time is Money

 

If I had a nickel for every time a client told me…

“I would ask them what they think of my new resume, but I don’t want them to think I’m crazy for spending the money to have it professionally written.”

Or

“I don’t know if my spouse is going to go for this. I mean, I need a job, and what I’ve been doing isn’t working, and he/she definitely wants me back to work, but what if we need that money to pay bills if I wind up still looking for a job three months from now.”

Or…

“I would really love to give you a testimonial. You did a fantastic job, but I don’t know if they know I didn’t get here on my own.”

Of course, my clients have every right to keep our relationship confidential, and I completely respect that.

However, in response:

If you haven’t landed or come close to an offer three months after engaging me and you took advantage of everything that I proposed (through a formal proposal process), you get your money back. That is my guarantee.

Also, smart people engage experts, and the experts will tell you that they got where they are because they engaged other experts to help teach them.

Here are four experts who advise that if you want to achieve your goals, don’t spend eight hours doing adequately what an expert can do well in half the time.

 

“The only difference between a rich person and poor person is how they use their time” -Robert Kiyosaki, businessman and author of Rich Dad Poor Dad.

“Today is your day to take total control of your future! Everyone needs a great mentor!” -Bill Walsh, business coach, CEO and founder of Powerteam International.

“Time well spent results in more money to spend, more money to save, and more time to vacation.” – Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker, salesman and author of Better Than Good.

“Effectiveness is doing the things that get you closer to your goals.” -Tim Ferriss entrepreneur, public speaker and author of The 4-Hour Workweek.

 

Time is money, especially when you are in transition. Every week you spend unemployed or without a job is another week spent without optimal income. I know that it is scary to spend money when you do not know how long that money will last. But if the money you spend in transition is not increasing your chances of bringing in income in the future, then once it is spent, it is gone.

I really do not mind at all if a client wants to take all the credit and keeps me a secret. It is ultimately their wise decision to invest in their success and they were smart enough to choose me.

 

Create a Vision that Pulls You Out of Bed

SteveJobsVision

 

It is not always an inevitable job search stage to find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, or even the afternoon, but it is very common– too common. I know exactly how this feels. When I was out of work going on 10 months, with four offers pending financial go-ahead for two months, I wondered what the point was. It was no longer about finding my next great opportunity to grow my career; it was about survival and saving face.

World-renowned New Thought minister Michael Beckwith propagates the idea that, “Pain pushes until the vision pulls.”

Unfortunately, many job seekers’ reality is that the pain of job search disappointment and frustration does not push them out of bed. In fact, it pushes them back down.

So if the pain is not effectively pushing you toward a solution to your job search situation, what do you do?

Create a new, inspiring, and energizing vision about what your ultimate career adventure could look like.

We have written many blogs about how spring symbolizes reinvention, and I share a throwback from our newsletter further below. We have offered a variety of tips, tricks, tactics, and techniques. While creating a vision may not seem like practical job search advice, and you may be wondering what kind of pay off the investment of time in this exercise offers you in relation to being in action. I PROMISE you that this exercise does not take a lot of time, and it will make all of your efforts more successful and effective.

 

Envision your future:

Simply create a vision of your career future that makes you want to dance. Use all of your senses to imagine moments where you are offered your dream job, working for your dream boss, being paid your dream salary, while at your dream location. Allow yourself to fully indulge in feeling that you just want to squeal with excitement; you just can’t contain your joy any longer. That opportunity you have been picturing, perhaps dismissing as something you’ll never have– imagine it is YOURS. What will you do first? Once you are done dancing, that is. Who will you tell? What will you buy or pay? What will feel the best to take care of first? Imagine yourself checking off the things on your list that you have removed from your “to-dos” because they were too costly or extravagant. Use all of your senses and imagination to picture doing those to-dos, making you want to squeal and dance all over again.

 

The power of imagination:

In Emotional Memory Management: Positive Control Over Your Memory, Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D., chronicles an experiment with basketball players to demonstrate that your mind cannot discern a real memory from an imagined one. This is what makes mental rehearsal a very popular and highly effective exercise for professional athletes to hone their performance when they are not physically training. It is also the reason this exercise has scientific merit in you job search to-do list.

 

A practical application of your vision:

Where does this activity fall on your list? First and frequently, do this exercise as often as needed, but certainly wake up and visualize your ultimate future first thing in the morning. When you hear those doubtful voices that will instruct you to be more realistic, say: “Thanks for sharing– now shut up. I’m visualizing, here.”

There is no, “What if this doesn’t happen?” There is only, “This is real and it’s what I’ve been waiting for my whole life!”

Some of us have bought into very dangerous beliefs that celebrating prematurely for something that could never happen is somehow harmful to us. As I mentioned in my throwback blog and in “Are You Martyring Your Dreams?” we have adopted a self-defeating paradigm. We believe that it is more painful to hope for something that never comes than to just live your life excepting that what you want will never be yours. This is what Vishen Lakhiani, founder of MindValley, calls a BRULE– a bullsh*t rule. How many of these rules are you living by? How many are stopping you from actually living the life you want?

I suppose this isn’t very different from the motivational and renewal blogs we have written during previous spring seasons. If you have not actually tried to envision the emotions that would come with realizing the utmost success in your profession, then allow yourself five minutes, even 17 seconds to experience that joy. If you notice a difference in how you feel, increase your investment of time. Then notice how many more of your efforts produce results that fall into alignment with that vision.

Rejoice! That is what we Christians do this time of year. Why does that seem so hard? It seems hard because it does not feel like what are supposed to be doing when our life does not resemble what we want. However, rejoicing in what can be and reveling in gratitude for your blessings is exactly what every sacred text, happiness expert, and success coach agree is the most effective way to turn around a slump.

We might consider it much more serious than a slump if we are experiencing physical and emotional pain, which continues to get worse as we consider our own powerlessness. This visualization exercise is something that is within your power to do, and while you may need practice at silencing the skeptical, perhaps even cynical, thoughts that our brain thinks are protecting us, you will experience a powerful, positive shift. The most beautiful thing about this shift is not just what occurs in your life as a result, but it is the formulation of a new belief that in our own minds is a tremendous power. We can learn to harness and apply this power to create a life by design, simply by creating a vision that excites us each waking day.

A sidebar: If your vision of your most ideal future has little semblance to what you are actually pursuing as work, it might be time to check out “5 signs that a Change is Necessary.”

To celebrate this theme of rebirth, here is a retrospective post in honor of my daughter’s sixth birthday, originally posted in April 2010:

I hope you will all excuse my delay in sending out the spring edition of the newsletter, but for me the subtitle of this issue is quite literal.  My daughter, Daisy Eledora Huller, was born on Thursday, March 25th after four days of labor.  I had hoped to get this newsletter out prior to her arrival, but now that I am on the flip side of such a surreal and miraculous experience, I am so glad I waited.  My intention for this issue’s foreword was to relate my experience of preparing for childbirth to the preparation and anticipation of career transitioning.  I had been taking classes, getting a ton of advice (mostly unsolicited), consulting with experts, setting goals, tracking my progress, monitoring results, assessing risk factors, reading up on everything from traditional wives’ tales to new trends, and following as many best practices as made sense for my life and my belief system.

However, those were just the things I could “control.” What was beyond my control frequently surfaced concern and even anxiety.  There was so much to be excited about and yet so many known and unknown variables that were bound to impact the outcome of this experience, which is certainly THE most important experience of my life.  As part of my preparation, I created a birth plan for natural childbirth (drug-free).  I faced many skeptics, even those who love me dearly, but chose to surround myself with support and made a conscious effort to keep any thought opposing my plan at the surface, quickly replacing it with visualizations of the birth experience that I wanted.  It was not always easy!

There was no way for me to know if what I feared would transpire or if everything would go in my favor. The best I could hope for, in spite of the experience itself, was that I would deliver a healthy baby.  I believe some wanted me to be prepared for disappointment.  I really don’t see much value in this, though. I was confident that should the uncontrollable variables occur, and there were definitely a few, I would keep faith that the outcome would be a healthy baby and the experience would be natural.

I had many reasons for wanting my experience to be this way, and none of them included that I could congratulate myself for enduring the pain, though I am very proud of myself for staying true to my plan in spite of a few factors that could have easily dissuaded me.  I have a new appreciation of every mother regardless of how they brought their babies into the world.  I also have a greater appreciation and respect for OUTCOMES– those unpredictable, often unexpectedly wonderful in ways we could not know, results that change our lives.  Everything that has transpired over the last 10 months has taught me that staying present and empowered in life requires intention, but it also requires surrender.

 

Happy spring! Here’s to your new beginnings!

 

The #1 Most Critical Thing You Can Do After an Interview

Thank You Notes Greeting Card Set - LilyWhitesParty of Flickr

Thank You Notes Greeting Card Set – LilyWhitesParty of Flickr

 

Your last interview seemed to flow really well. You were at the top of your game, knew all about your potential employer, and you asked plenty of questions. Still, there is a little bit of doubt eating away at you. Perhaps you should have asked more questions, or you forgot to mention one of your better achievements. It does not matter how well you performed, or did not perform during your interview. Send your interviewer a follow-up within 24 hours of the meeting, regardless of your performance. A follow-up is your chance to stand out from other applicants, and to remind your interviewer why YOU are the best candidate for the position.

 

Why the follow-up counts

A follow-up after an interview can convey three major points:

  1. Your follow-up informs interviewers that you are thankful for the interview and are serious about the position. Thank them for not just the interview, but the opportunity to learn more about the company culture, the people, and the initiatives.
  1. You can reiterate why you feel you are the right candidate for the position. Use your follow-up to remind them how your experience and skills are a good fit for the company.
  1. A great follow-up demonstrates your interest in the company. Often the hours of reflection after an interview can bubble up really good ideas as to how you can add value to a company. Capitalize on those ideas and send an interviewer what you envision to be your best approach at helping them achieve the objectives you now better understand.
  1. All of those things you wish afterward you could have said, you can now say. Sometimes you do not know where you missed the mark, or afterward you might feel as if you forgot to mention an experience that was directly applicable to what a potential employer is trying to achieve. Use this opportunity to turn things around if the interview did not go as well as you think. Make an employer want to know even more!

 

A follow-up can become a later opportunity

Intriguing an employer may be enough to keep you in the running as a candidate. A follow-up is also your opportunity to remind an interviewer about an important topic you discussed during the interview. You may feel as if you made a great impression by describing a particular problem you solved, or an interviewer might have been impressed by your professional achievements. This allows you to stand out among the many applicants applying for the same position, especially those who may not follow-up. Format also counts. E-mail is more than sufficient for your follow-up. A hand-written note is an extra step, but may remain with an interviewer longer, if he or she keeps a copy of it on their desk. If you are going to send a handwritten note, send an e-mail to be prompt AND a handwritten note. If you know a position needs to be urgently filled, go with e-mail. An actual letter could be too much. Send a note and an addendum if you have extensive information to relay.

If you weren’t right for the position, you can keep your name in the mind of the interviewer with a follow-up. The point of this follow-up isn’t to ask for reconsideration, but to keep your options open, in case another opportunity with the company should arise. Do not just send a simple “thank you,” but also send articles, whitepapers, and other resources. Not all at once- drip the content on them over time to maintain the relationship and let the employer know you’ve been thinking about them, their needs, and their goals. This demonstrates that you really took to heart what an interviewer said, and that you want to add value to a company.

In case you were wondering if following up might seem desperate: taking a moment to thank an interviewer is NOT desperate! You may be tempted to address any concerns you had during the interview in your follow-up. Proceed with caution here. Make sure an interviewer is interested before you start addressing any concerns such as a period of unemployment that you could not easily explain. In fact, if you are working with an outside recruiter, address your concerns with them. With an inside recruiter or the hiring manager, wait for the second interview to bring up any issues with your prospective employer.

 

Customize your follow-up for multiple interviews

You may have been interviewed by a panel for a position, instead of a single interviewer. Take a few moments to follow-up with all of them. Each person involved in the panel of interviewers represents a different area of the company, such as a department manager, an HR manager, and team leaders. Send each of your interviewers a customized note, not a template, to avoid embarrassment should they compare their follow-up notes.

 

If there is silence after an interview

At the end of your interview ask “If I don’t hear from you by X-date (next week, perhaps), how would you like me to follow-up with you?” A phone call is the best method, but some interviewers may have their own preferences. If you have not heard back from your interviewer within a few days, take the time to follow-up by phone, unless they have indicated otherwise. Silence can mean it is possible that you may have lost out to another candidate, but were not informed. People spend too much time contemplating why they aren’t getting a response when they could be taking it upon themselves to check in.

If you did not get the job, ask them why, this is valuable information for your next interview. That said, do not be surprised if you are not given the opportunity to receive feedback, or if you do not receive an answer. In my experience as a recruiter, as much as I thought this was valuable information for any job seeker to have, not every person was truly open to hearing or accepting constructive criticism. If an interviewer or recruiter takes the time to offer you feedback, be open to accepting that constructive criticism and thank them genuinely. When the time arrives for your next interview, you will be better prepared.

 

Following up after an interview can be the difference between landing the job, or being the runner up. It may not guarantee that you will land, but it can leave a good impression that could lead to future opportunity. Just imagine if there are two equally qualified candidates in the running for a position. One candidate sends out a thoughtful follow-up, where he or she thanks the interviewer for their time, reiterates why they are perfect for the position, and provides ideas on how they can offer value to the company- all within 24 hours of the interview. The other candidate is completely silent. Which scenario leaves a better impression on an interviewer? You want to be the candidate that leaves a positive and lasting impression on a potential employer. The time you spend on a follow-up can greatly increase your chances of landing.

 

How to Turn Being Fired Around

Failure-should-be-our

Netflix is a company that is notorious for firing people if they’re average, under-performing, or no longer needed at the company. In September, NPR’s Planet Money ran a story about Patty McCord, Netflix’s Chief Talent Officer. McCord was famous for helping to pen the company’s HR policies and designed a culture where a manager isn’t afraid to fire employees. Netflix had a product tester who was exceptional at finding software bugs. Automation tools were introduced to the company, but the product tester wasn’t adept at using them. Instead of shuffling the worker around, McCord decided the best course of action was to fire her. The meeting was painful for the woman and she found it to be incredibly unfair. McCord didn’t see it as firing a person, but instead helping them to move on. Eventually, the culture she helped create at Netflix turned on her and she was let go from the company after 12 years of service. Since then, McCord moved on to form her own leadership consulting group.

The loss of a job can be shocking, painful, and depressing. However, the loss of a job doesn’t mean the end of your career. A job loss can mean that a new chapter in your life has begun, and being fired from one position may be a blessing. The event can serve as a valuable learning opportunity on what not to do in the future and how to become a better employee. It can be what you need to finally find a job that truly excites and inspires you.

 

Not your true calling

The job you lost may not have been your true calling. Being let go from your position could be the opportunity to do something you are passionate about. People stay at jobs they don’t like, or outright hate, because they’re afraid to move on to something better. In fact, according to Dr. Travis Bradberry, 59% of people stay at jobs they don’t like. Being let go can be your chance to put your professional life into perspective. A career transition may require additional training, or going back to school, but the new skills you obtain can create new career options.

 

Leaving toxic working conditions

The working conditions at your previous employer may have been unfair, and being fired can allow you to escape from a toxic environment. High levels of stress, low morale, a poor work-life balance, and poor leadership may have been a constant part of your workplace. Attempting to address or change a dysfunctional workplace ended with you being fired. Toxic work environments can deeply impact your self-esteem, your outlook, and are detrimental to your mental and physical health. Dealing with toxic workplaces and leadership can be a form of emotional abuse. If you’ve found yourself in such a situation, you may want to consider talking to a professional (we can refer you). These symptoms can be similar to PTSD in extreme cases.

Being terminated from a toxic environment is a chance to start anew. Imagine working with an employer who values your input, your time, your well-being, and presents you with opportunities to grow. Optimize your job search by identifying the criteria you want from your next employer, and carefully researching them.

 

When being fired is your own fault

It may have been your fault you were fired, and it’s worth considering because any prospective employer will wonder. If being let go was due to your own actions, you can still turn the situation around and restore your integrity. I learned a new respect for integrity through Landmark Education. Having integrity is not exclusive to being moral and ethical: it also means keeping your word and being authentic. I realized with unprecedented clarity how messy life can become by being out of integrity; recovering can seem like an insurmountable task. While it can be challenging to stay in integrity in our lives and relationships at all times, and though people can forgive, they rarely forget. Integrity CAN be restored by being fully accountable for your actions, recognizing your mistakes, identifying how you can improve, and committing to acting as your higher, wiser self in the present and in the future.

 

Lighting a fire

Being fired may light a fire you never knew you had. It’s possible become comfortable at a job and to stop growing in your career. Being fired is a way to turn this around, prove your doubters wrong, and to improve yourself all at once. That said, please don’t use being fired as a tool to start growing in your career. If you are in a position where you find yourself receiving a warning or facing probation, it is time to make a decision to resign or redesign your career. A few times in my career, I didn’t move on until change was forced upon me. The times I took it upon myself to create change were when I knew it was needed, and I felt more empowered as a result. Don’t wait until an employer makes the decision for you.

 

Failure as a chance to grow

Failure, or what may be perceived as failure, is an opportunity to learn and grow. Many entrepreneurs believe failure is the key to success. Failure is a constant threat in the business world, but it also allows for growth. A fear of failure can often cause entrepreneurs to shy away from risk and new opportunities. Failure is a chance to learn from your mistakes and to grow.

 

Famous people who were fired but bounced back

There are people who are so wildly successful that it can be hard to believe they were terminated from their jobs. Not letting failure hold them back, they went on to create exciting opportunities in their professional lives.

 

Oprah Winfrey strived to be like Barbara Walters from an early age and took steps to make her vision a reality. At the age of 22 she co-anchored the evening news at a Baltimore TV station and was removed. She took over a Chicago talk show in 1984 and the rest is history. By rebranding herself as a talk show host, Oprah discovered her true passion and became one of the most influential people in the world. Through The Oprah Winfrey Show she touched millions of lives. Oprah is now a media mogul with the to power promote authors to the top of The New York Times Best Sellers list, has made the careers of other talk show hosts, and is one of the world’s richest people.

Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary learned his first employment lesson in high school. He was fired from his first job at an ice cream shop after refusing to do a particularly menial task. Being fired convinced O’Leary to become an entrepreneur. He raised $10,000 to fund his first big idea, Softkey Software Products. He would go on to acquire other companies, and to star on Shark Tank (also gaining the name “Mr. Wonderful”). From an early age, O’Leary knew he wanted to be his own boss.

Mark Cuban, an entrepreneur and a star investor on Shark Tank, started his first job as a salesman at a computer software store in Dallas in 1980. He was supposed to open the store one morning, but met with a potential client instead. He was fired and decided to start his first company, MicroSolutions. Less than a decade later Cuban sold MicroSolutions and made millions on the deal. Since then, he moved on to own the Dallas Mavericks, Landmark Theatres, and Magnolia Pictures. Cuban wasn’t afraid to task risks, even though it cost him his first job. He continued to take risks and eventually that attitude led him to become a billionaire.

Steve Jobs helped co-found Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1975. After a disastrous launch of the Macintosh in 1984, Jobs began to clash with Apple’s board of directors. By 1985 he was stripped of all his power on the board and resigned. Undeterred by being pushed out of the company he helped found, Jobs would go on to co-found NeXT Computer Co., buy Pixar Animation Studios from George Lucas, and return to Apple in 1997 when the company was in serious trouble. Under his leadership, he turned the company around. Jobs’ visionary ideas may not have been well-received at Apple in the 1980s, but he never compromised his revolutionary visions of technology, nor did he stop striving for innovation and excellence.

Madonna was destined to be a star. She studied dance in college and dropped out after two years, before moving to New York. Madonna took a job working at Dunkin Donuts, was fired on the same day, and took several more fast food jobs. She never forgot her original vision. By 1982, she had her first club hit, “Everybody.” Madonna had to take jobs to keep from going broke, but she had a passion for singing and never lost sight of her true goal.

 

Being fired from a job is a difficult life event. It can be an anxious time filled with grief, anger, and embarrassment. However, being fired can also be an opportunity to change your life and your career. What do you want most from your career and your life? Is it time to change industries? Is it time to pursue that dream job that seemed out of reach? This could be the push you needed to start your own business, to transition into a new career, or to discover your dream job. Many people have turned their professional and personal lives around after being fired. Frank Sinatra sums it up nicely: “The best revenge is massive success.”