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9 Soft Skills Every Employee Needs, Regardless of Technical Skill

Business Team by Penn State on Flickr

Business Team by Penn State on Flickr

A brilliant scientist was hired at a pharmaceutical company and was let go six months after landing. He was challenging throughout the qualification process, and I thoroughly coached him during the interview process. He ultimately lost the position because no one could work with him. His brilliance could not be properly leveraged to create value for the organization. Because of his failure to succeed, I was unable to place him anywhere else. Unfortunately, there are a lot of brilliant technically skilled people whose potential for creating value in this world is inhibited by their lack of ability to integrate and collaborate with others.

Soft skills such as time management, relationship building, and communication allow employees to effectively leverage their technical skills and knowledge. These skills are the unsung heroes of the working world and can make or break a job search. A lack of soft skills can cause an otherwise talented employee to lose a job. A good grasp of soft skills separates an above-average employee who constantly brings value to their company from an average employee who only performs their day-to-day tasks. There are numerous soft skills, but I’ve narrowed down the list to nine of the most important skills employers demand:

 

1. Time Management

Effectively managing time allows you to take other people’s busy schedules into consideration.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Give answers that stay within a reasonable limit of time for the details asked.

Demonstrating in your past experience: Promote your ability to deliver assignments or projects on time, even in challenging circumstances.

 

2. Communication

Communicating effectively allows you to connect interpersonally with others via written and verbal means.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Plan and practice what you will say before the interview. Speak clearly and concisely, and listen to your interviewer.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Provide examples of written material you created, such as a memo.

 

3. Relationship Building

Good relationships are built on trust, positivity, and communication.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Listen and be respectful of your interviewer, and ask questions in order to build rapport.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Talk positively about your previous employers and provide examples of teamwork.

 

4. Attitude

Your attitude consists of a positive frame of mind that exudes hopeful optimism, and is focused on creating solutions.

Demonstrating it in the interview: You are positive and upbeat throughout the interview.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Discuss how your positive attitude raised morale, allowed you to easily participate in teamwork, and helped provide solutions.

 

5. Confidence

Confidence is the belief in your own skills and the ability to take on new tasks.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Give your interviewer a firm handshake, make eye contact, and maintain good posture.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Promote your achievements, especially the successful completion of tasks that were new or difficult.

 

6. Leadership

A good leader is constantly motivated to improve and acts decisively, even if you are not managing others.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Provide examples of how you faced a challenge and acted decisively to create a resolution.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Quantitatively speak about your accomplishments. How much money did you save the company with your actions?

 

7. Flexibility

Being flexible allows you to adapt to a variety of circumstances and people, and work through unexpected events.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Give your interviewer examples on how you quickly adapted to changing circumstances in the workplace.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Discuss how you used your flexibility to step out of your comfort zone and to take on new tasks.

 

8. Creativity

A creative employee offers suggestions or ideas on how to improve workflow, or increase work value.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Explain how you solved a productivity problem and how your solution benefited the company.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Promote the value you added to a company by introducing a more efficient work method.

 

9. Problem-solving

Effective problem-solving takes into account how you encountered a problem, and how you persisted until the solution was found.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Walk an interviewer through your problem solving processes.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Discuss how you solved a particularly difficult problem and how it positively impacted your employer.

 

Why soft skills matter

Employers use hard skills as criteria to ensure a candidate meets a job’s technical requirements. The interview determines a candidate’s soft skills. I spoke to Guy Fardone about how Evolve IP, a cloud services company, primarily hires candidates based on their emotional intelligence and aptitude. Questions the employer asks are “Do they look me in the eyes, and are they able to listen and then respond appropriately?” “Can they build rapport?” People who come in the door already having a baseline understanding of how to build relationships with people are going to be that much more successful in their career.

 

Many employers rate the importance of soft skills just as highly as technical skills. Your technical skills may open the door to interviews, but your ability to manage time, problem-solve, build relationships, and your creativity are what enable you to land and keep the job. Emphasize how your use of soft skills has to led success in the workplace, and how they can help you bring value to a potential employer. Successfully leveraging your soft skills and your technical skills can set you apart from other job seekers, and enable you to land faster.

Is Your Résumé Outdated?

Resume - Glasses by Flazingo Photos of Flickr

Resume – Glasses by Flazingo Photos of Flickr

Has it been more than five years since you searched for a job? Do you remember the last time you looked at your résumé? Do you still believe in the use of an objective? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it is time to update your résumé. Most people believe that adding a few bullet points about what they have done in the past five years is adequate. They make these small changes and start submitting their résumé. One major reason people hate going near their résumés is because it forces them to remember what they’ve done professionally over the past few years. It is a fact that the more time that passes, the harder it is to recall everything, unless you have kept track of your accomplishments somewhere.

The longer a résumé has not been reviewed, the more painful or frustrating it can be to update. Here is a more timely focus to consider- as the New Year approaches, assess your employment goals and take some time to be intentional about your career direction. Update your résumé based on where you want to be in the future as a reference for what to include about the past. Be conscientious about your BRAND. This is critical- we are not just taking about a few résumé updates, but reinventing your brand to fit your future goals.

If you have not been actively searching for a job in the last few years, the process of revising your résumé can be intimidating. Even if you are not actively searching for work, NOW is still the time to update your résumé. You may not need a job today, but your employment circumstances could change in an instant. Keeping an updated résumé is useful because an opportunity could present itself at any moment. You could meet your next boss ANYWHERE. A quality résumé branding and writing process takes five days for a first draft, and a comprehensive review process can take another three days. If a position is open, and you are given the opportunity to be the first in, be ready to strike! If 70% of the workforce is disengaged from their job, and you are one of them, this advice can help YOU.

 

What you need to know about the evolution of résumés

Résumés have evolved over the years. For decades the evolution has been slow, but in the last five-to-ten years there have been dramatic shifts in what résumés are and what employers expect from them. Mashable has tracked résumé standards throughout five hundred years of history. Here is what you need to know from the last three decades:

  • In the 1980s it was acceptable to include a fax number with a résumé because of the popularity of fax machines. It was during this time that formats with 1”+ margins, sub-headers in the left margin, and content indented to the right became popularized.
  • In the 1990s email became a popular way to send résumés. Still, résumés kept the formatting that became popularized in the 80s.
  • In the 2000s interactive résumés were popularized. By the end of the decade large margins were out, and the use of white space gave résumés a less cluttered appearance. Objectives were replaced by professional headlines and summaries, branding allowed job seekers to demonstrate their value to employers, and keywords made it easier for résumés to be found in applicant tracking systems and online databases used by employers.
  • 2010 to now- Résumés can be shorter, but it depends on the field. For years the myth that résumés had to be one page was prevalent. Actually, two-to-three pages are the standard for senior professionals and executives, and some fields require even more extensive documentation. Résumés now contain social media links and a LinkedIn profile can serve as a good companion.

 

What modern résumés require

Résumés must now be tailored to a particular job and company. The days where a general résumé would suffice are gone.  Thanks to the LinkedIn and the prominence of personal branding, you can no longer be everything to everyone. You can be dynamic, and wear many hats, but you also have to know which employers want that and to state what resonates with them. Then you have to make sure they can visualize how you will fit into their company and avoid applying to targets that do not fit. This next part takes people into a conversation I have most frequently with people who have searched for a long time. They have been advised and decided that they MUST make themselves as “employable” as possible. This often means applying to multiple positions in the hope of being seen as flexible. However, as I state in my article, “More résumés ≠ better results” taking this approach means that the job they really want will escape them. Instead of coming off as employable, you strike a potential employer as desperate. Tailor your résumé instead.

Crafting a tailored résumé requires you to put on a marketing hat and to research your targets. This means finding out what a company wants and needs for a position. If you do not believe us (per above), ask an employer if they want someone who is willing to take anything, or if they would rather hire the person who can clearly articulate where they want to add value and demonstrate how they add that value.

 

Why your old résumé needs updating

Chances are if you have not taken a look at your résumé in several years the format is dated. Most hiring managers only spend an average of seven seconds looking at a résumé. If your résumé is difficult to skim, it increases the chances of an employer passing over your résumé in favor of a candidate with an easier to read résumé. Just imagine if this article had huge indentations, and was poorly aligned. You probably would not make it halfway through before you stopped reading. The same can be said about your résumé.

Poor spacing between lines, extra indentations, and typefaces that are not compatible with both Mac and PC make for difficult-to-read résumés. The most impactful changes you can make are to remove all of your indentations so the document aligns perfectly, and to decrease your margin size. LifeClever has an excellent visual tutorial.

The content matters just as much as the format. Résumés filled with clichés such as “hard working,” “team player,” “proven track record,” or “motivated” are so overused that they have become meaningless buzz words to most potential employers. Employers want to SEE these qualities in their candidates. Instead of telling a hiring manager that you have these qualities, demonstrate them. State HOW these particular qualities have manifested value throughout your career. Think of your achievements and how your particular attributes have helped you accomplish those achievements. Expand on those specific attributes in the experience section of your résumé.

Specific attributes also form the foundation of your personal brand. In fact, your personal brand is the foundation upon which the powerful content of your résumé is built. Branding allows you to better market yourself and to stand out from the competition. A brand communicates who you are and the value you bring to an employer. A brand also allows you to demonstrate to an employer what you offer above and beyond the qualifications listed on a position, how you are a good fit for the company, and the numerous ways you have made significant contributions to previous employers. To create and infuse your brand throughout your résumé consider your talents, your skills, your most valuable personal attributes, your passion, and what makes you stand out from other potential candidates.

Many résumés are read online. Keeping that in mind, it is important to use keywords in order to ensure your résumé is found by potential employers, but they must be used in context. Keywords are a series of words related to your skills, your experience, and the position you are seeking that employers use to find your résumé among other applicants. Some résumés without keywords are never even seen. While these words are literally the key to being seen by potential employers, using too many keywords can raise red flags and cause an employer to reject your résumé. Use these words with care.

 

Updating your résumé

If you have decided your résumé is in need of an update, we can help. Check out our video series “Scrap your résumé if it has these 10 things,” to guide you in the revision of your résumé. We also offer branded résumé writing services, including semi-branded low-budget options. If you want to update your résumé yourself, we have a DIY Résumé Summary Builder (it requires Microsoft Word 2010 or newer). To be ready for an opportunity at any time, tailor your résumé for your next ideal position, and update it at least every year, if not twice a year. Keep that file of achievements handy.

 

The purpose of your résumé is to entice employers to invite you for an interview. An old résumé may garner some responses from employers, but the response will be much higher with a résumé that is current with the times. The task of updating a résumé can be daunting, especially now that you know what is required of an effective résumé, but the more often you go through the process, the faster it goes. After all, having a powerful résumé will pay dividends when you are able to shoot it right over to your next boss that same day, and you are quickly invited to interview. Have the peace of mind knowing that your résumé is ready to go at any time, even if you are not actively searching for work. Consider it a critical component for your self-generated job security.

 

5 Reasons Why Most Job Searches Take 2X Too Long

Sails Aback by Don McCullough

Sails Aback by Don McCullough

One of the questions on our needs assessment form asks how long a prospective client can sustain themselves financially while they are in transition. Unfortunately, too many answer a few weeks or they are not currently sustaining themselves. They navigated their job search without a captain and became lost at sea, drowning in debt and despair. By this point, there is nothing left to invest in services such as mine (which is why we developed a whole suite of low-budget DIY tools). What’s worse, they don’t have the energy or attitude to give what is necessary to get back up to speed. Their spirit and hope are broken, watching the safe harbors of income and opportunity drift further and further away.

Job seekers who are granted unemployment compensation or severance may decide to ride the transition out, which is very much like using up whatever gas is in the tank figuring that the wind will blow you back to safety. How predictable is the wind? About as predictable as your job search results without a captain.

There are five main culprits of job search delays, which cost job seekers critical income each extra day they spend searching in vain.

 

Lack of Clarity

I’m going to keep this simple, because I’ve covered this extensively in the past and it probably deserves its own post in the near future: What you want matters to great companies. American companies lose $300 billion annually due to disengaged workers, so they aren’t going to believe you’ll take anything and be satisfied. They want to know why their position will satisfy you. Gone are the days where you can be everything to everyone. You have ONE LinkedIn profile, and if it doesn’t jive with your résumé, you are perceived as a risky candidate, and move down in the ranks.

 

Stray Bullet Résumés

Yes, most résumés fall below my standards, and many are FAR below. However, sending your résumé through online career portals is actually the bigger cause of delays. We aim to understand what kinds of results our clients had been getting with their résumés, and many take multiple interview invitations as a sign their résumé is working for them, and that can be true. That said, I sometimes find after little digging that the jobs are not at all in alignment with what they want. They are executing a reactive job search. Job seekers put their résumé out there, wait for responses, and then go on interviews because they’re offered, not because they are a fit. This leads to a lot of false beliefs about what’s possible. After a few failed interviews, they will start to believe that they don’t have the skills that are in demand right now because the feedback they constantly receive is that they are looking for something different. That’s when job seekers think they have to change their target and that they have to be to be more open and flexible, and perhaps take a step backwards in pay and level. They believe this is the faster path to employment because they’re now going for what is in demand. However, if they were more proactive in pursuing what they wanted and networked to uncover opportunities, job seekers wouldn’t have to worry about “keyword calls,” when recruiters or sourcers call candidates for skills that are buried deep within the past. Job seekers would be proactively uncovering opportunities that require the skill sets and strengths they offer. When evaluating whether your résumé is written well, don’t just evaluate whether or not you are receiving offers for interviews; evaluate how closely those jobs align with what you want and how successful you will be.

At Epic Careering, we measure success as happiness and fulfillment. You will need more than just the right keywords in your résumé to be found for the right job. Nevertheless, it takes more than a résumé to generate momentum. You may receive fewer offers for interviews from job boards and recruiters when your résumé is written for a target role and employer, but that’s not reflective of a lesser viability or availability of opportunities. Your time is valuable, especially when you’re out of work. Your outlook is invaluable. It’s dangerous to engage in job search activities that lead you to feel disappointed in the results and in yourself. If you’re spending most of your time on job boards, you’re setting yourself up for a longer transition that will not have an ideal outcome. If you are saying right now, “But I need a job, so I’ll take anything,” please refer to my last blog to understand why you’re limiting your possibilities with this approach. In the same time or often faster, you could find yourself with a really great opportunity.

 

Negligent Networking

Job seekers are taking the advice of the experts and are going out to network. Even smarter still, are the people who go out to network while they are not in transition. When the time comes to look for an opportunity, these people are already in a stage of momentum. However, successful networking doesn’t look like shaking a lot of hands and making superficial contacts, meeting strangers with whom you have nothing in common, and wasting your time getting to know people who have nothing for you. Please understand that I’m not telling you to be closed off to networking with anyone. I’ll be the first to tell you that you never know where your next opportunity is going to come from, and if someone is willing to sit down and talk to you and get to know you, open yourself up and see what opportunity may come. Again, when it comes to managing your time and being proactive, don’t go to just any networking event because it’s happening. You have some really good options and what is good for another job seeker may not be as good for you. I encourage you to go to events for job seekers, because employers are actively recruiting, but keep in mind you are competing with everyone else attending and it will take that much more to distinguish yourself. Make sure a bulk of your networking occurs at events related to your industry and they are attended by hiring managers from your target companies. If an executive in your target company is receiving an award at an event, buy a ticket. I promise you that a $125 ticket to a gala will give you more traction than five $25 job seeker events. Why? You will appear as someone of high caliber. You will have a level of credibility that you will not be able gain at events designed for job seekers.

Then there is what you say when you network that makes a difference. Don’t introduce yourself as a job seeker; that’s your status, not your identity. Your identity is your brand. You want to leave an audience with an impression of who you are and the value that you have to offer. You want to talk about the solutions that you offer and the people to whom you offer them. Maybe they will identify themselves as someone in need of what you have to offer, or even better, you can have them think of three other people who need what you have to offer. Wear a nice suit– you will walk a little taller and stand a little prouder. Show your audience that you take care of yourself and that you see value in yourself. No one else is going to see value in you unless you see value in yourself. You’re worth the $125 black tie event ticket!

 

Unprepared Interviews

Emily Allen of Seer Interactive, a highly sought after employer due to their trusting culture and unlimited vacation policy, stated in our Epic Career Tales podcast interview that one thing she wished every job seeker knew was how important it was to research the company. A company like Seer Interactive takes pride in what they do and they want to hire people who are going to be just as enthusiastic. Enthusiasm isn’t something you state; it’s something you demonstrate. The only authentic way to demonstrate your enthusiasm for a company is to take the time to research what they’re up to, who their thought leaders are, what their challenges are, their plans to overcome them, and how you fit in with their solutions. If you fail to do this research, you fail the interview. Too many of these failed interviews lead to frustration, a diminished sense of self-worth, and false beliefs about what’s possible in your job search. It doesn’t matter how many interviews you earn if you’re just racking up failures. You would rather have three or four successful interviews than a dozen failed interviews. If you follow this track record, you also become susceptible and fall prey to companies that don’t care about you or what you want.

 

The Shoo-in Trap

We’ve addressed before how easy it can be to stop your job search efforts once you have one or two great opportunities, but that is a trap. You might have received strong indications that you’re the front-runner for a position, and still anything can happen. You better believe that the company has continued to make sure they have a backup candidate just in case anything happens to you, and you would be wise to continue your job search efforts. Killing your momentum by quitting your job search activity will mean that you have to start over from scratch should anything fall through, and in my experience as a recruiter, things fall through most of the time. As much as you want to believe you are a shoo-in for a job, you cannot just go by great feedback. It only takes one person’s feedback to alter the course of a hire, and any type of organizational shift will change what they need and want. Until you have an offer letter, have decided to sign and accept an opportunity, continue your QUALITY job search efforts.

 

Consider me your career captain, experienced and trusted to make sure everything is ship-shape– the weather looks good, the provisions are stocked, the fuel is planned out, and the destinations are mapped. If you hire me as your captain, you will avoid many travel risks that can cause delays in your arrival. Additionally, you are sure to have all you need to enjoy your voyage and your destination.

Without me, you will either have to spend your time prior to departure learning the equipment, relying on questionable meteorological instruments, shopping for the provisions, checking the motors and sails, and planning out your navigation. Or, you can learn as you go, risking big mistakes that will take you far off course.

Now imagine that your voyage is a professional one, and each day you spend lost at sea instead of in port, you lose money. What investment do you think is worth arriving safely where you can make money? One day’s pay? One week’s pay? If you land one week sooner, that’s one more week’s worth of income. What if you land in half the time? Based on the generally accepted industry formula, you can expect to be in transition one month for every $10K of salary. I’ve never found this formula to be accurate, as my clients have landed in half the time, and often sooner. I have had many executive clients land within a month, and I have had clients with serious challenges who spent 8 months or more searching prior to engaging me as their captain land within 2 months after we set sail.

Time is money. Land ho!

Quickly Land Your Next Job in September

Life's Paradox by Stefano Corso of Flickr

Life’s Paradox by Stefano Corso of Flickr

Summer traditionally means slow days at work and vacation time. As the days lengthen and heat up, fun and sun beckon like the call of a siren. The last thing a majority of people are thinking about is the job search. But as summer winds down, companies ramp up their efforts to fill open vacancies and achieve fourth-quarter goals. This is the perfect opportunity to land a new position.

Hiring may appear to slow down in the summertime, but our economy is in a state of recovery, and job growth continues.  It can appear to be deceiving that there are fewer opportunities during the summer because open positions take longer to fill. Human resources and hiring managers have increased challenges bringing stakeholders together to make decisions as people go on vacation. This delays the hiring process because there are fewer managers to conduct face-to-face interviews. Additionally, companies fill a large number of positions during the beginning of the year, so they don’t have as many positions available summer months.

According to ERE.net, the average time for an employer to fill a position is at its highest at 27 business days. This costs companies money. You can save the company money by being ready to promote yourself effectively for an open position. The candidates who are ready to strike with effective branding, a smart strategic plan to be visible, and the ability to articulate how their value presents a solution will get interviews and offers.

Perhaps you’ve put your job search on hold for the summer. Maybe you’re just jumping into the search. You may dread spending another day in your current office. Or you may want to secure your financial future by landing the right job as soon as possible. Starting your job search with effective tactics can accelerate your transition. Wouldn’t it be great to land at your next employer before the fall chill hits the air? It’s not too late pull ahead of other job seekers. As recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, September is a month where hiring typically surges. With some preparation, you can capitalize on employers’ needs to land your next job.

 

Aid your job search with these seven stages to landing

The seven stages to landing can help greatly aid in your job search. Instead of starting your job search by hitting job boards or filling out applications, you can take a methodical approach to your search. This introspective approach can help you identify your strengths, skills and the value you can offer potential employers. Mastering these seven stages can take a long time, but you can also accelerate these steps in order to land your next position faster. Visualize attracting your next employer instead of hoping they notice you.

As you explore the list, rate yourself in each area from one to seven, with seven being the highest number. Keep those numbers in mind for now, we will revisit them later.

 

  1. Job Discovery

Think about your ideal career or position. Do you have a target position or employer? Think about aligning your career with contributions you are passionate about. For example, if someone is concerned about sustainability they can align themselves with an employer that has the same concerns. How can you use your talents to make these contributions? What opportunities will the job market present? What are the logical steps you’ll take in order to get there?

If you are going for the right target, you may be a little scared, but overall you’re very excited. You find yourself becoming enthusiastic about developing your plan, and you have confidence that you want the position enough that you’ll be able to overcome challenges as they present themselves.

 

  1. Branding Development

Think about the four to six things that uniquely qualify you for a position. It could be your worldview or perspective on problems, a certain approach to providing solutions, the way you go about working with other people, insights from other industries, an unconventional education, life skills, or even your attitude. Then use these qualities to form your branding points and connect the dots between your qualities and the value that can be realized by an employer. By having these branding points before you start the development process, you can ensure the content you create has meaning for your audience. These materials communicate your strengths and advantages to potential employers, people in your network, and everyone else. Each target requires a different approach:

 

  • Corporate targets require a résumé or biography.
  • Academic, scientific or international targets need a CV. A CV is more comprehensive than a résumé.
  • Create a one-page networking infographic for network contacts.
  • Wow your prospective clients with a website brochure or advertising copy. This isn’t just replicating your CV or résumé, it is powerfully branded, reader-friendly and is filled with effective content that inspires action.

 

  1. Networking/Social Networking

Occasionally, the hardest part of this step is actually recognizing your network. A lot of clients tell me they don’t have networks, but it’s usually because they aren’t thinking about all of the people who would really want to help them. The ideal networking process can be fun. Think of finding ways to be around people you enjoy and inspire them to help you be a solution for your next company. When your network is properly trained in how to develop leads for you, your momentum becomes exponential. It’s like having a sales force you don’t have to pay. Have you effectively trained your network to develop leads for you?

 

  1. Prospecting

Do you have a plan of action to reach your ideal position? Have you sourced hiring managers from potential employers? Are you in position to uncover advertised and unadvertised opportunities? While some information can be easily obtained from the internet, most likely more of the critical criteria for your next position and company will be better divulged by someone who is or has been on the inside. Prospecting is also tied to our next step because what you learn about your target company will help you get noticed, be memorable, and market yourself as exactly what they need. This step is critical to helping you land at a desirable position and location (as opposed to just obtaining any job), and beating out the competition by pursuing jobs that may not even be posted, also known as the hidden job market. Most people skip this step and spend more time getting fewer results. These actions, along with the next step are the most self-affirming stages because once you master them you will have generated job security.

 

  1. Distribution/Follow-up

You’ve met people with whom you had quality interactions. Are you prepared to follow up? This means being prepared to track your contacts and consistently keeping in touch without being overbearing. A great outcome is to deepen relationships with your contacts. Many job seekers fear they are imposing, when actually this is where more meaningful relationships are revealed, though some relationships may end. In this part of the process, the time you invest in people starts to payoff in more ways than just job leads. These are relationships that will withstand a job transition, as well as future job transitions. You can consider these relationships like money in a high-yield account. Sometimes just one meaningful strategic relationship can alter the course of your life.

 

  1. Interviewing

You’ve made it far enough in the hiring process for an interview. Being ready looks like thoroughly researching a potential employer, knowing the qualifications for the job, and how your skills and abilities are a match for an employer. Ideally, you’ll be excited to meet with prospective employers and know how to authentically address the hard questions. If the fit is right, you’ll start with an open and comfortable conversation about what’s possible for both parties, although it’s always about the employer first. The best outcome would be an offer that you are excited to accept and knowing it is what’s best for your career and life. Have you reinforced the values you bring and why you’re qualified for the opportunity? Are you ready to close the “deal?”

 

  1. Compensation Negotiation

Have you researched the market value of your position? How much are perks and benefits worth to you? Are you prepared to consider a counter-offer from your current employer, or another potential employer? Are you ready to accept an offer letter? Part of compensation negotiation is also knowing when to ask about salary and benefits. This process ideally looks like two parties who appreciate the value the other has to offer, and they respect each other enough not to enter into a power struggle. The outcome is determining a win-win package where both parties feel like they are receiving a good deal.

 

Remember the scale I mentioned at the start of this list? Rate yourself in each area of the list. If you are less than a seven in any of these areas, you may risk prolonging your job search. Think of this process like climbing a set of stairs. If any of the steps are loose or broken, placing your weight on them can send you tumbling down, forcing you to start over again and delaying time as you repair the broken step.

 

Take advantage of just-in-time training

If you want an edge in your job search, consider our “7 Stages to Landing in September” webinar. It is a free online event that will teach you the best way to start your job search, entice employers, maintain job search progress, and make sure your conversations lead to inspired action. These steps can cut the average job search in half. We’ve had clients fix their “broken step” and land within a month. A small time investment can yield tremendous job search results.

 

September is traditionally the second busiest hiring month of the year and is only surpassed by January. By using better methods to entice employers, you can get out ahead of the crowd and land faster. Imagine what an ideal change in your career would look like. Share your ideal change in comments and then join us on Thursday evening for our free webinar!

 

Your Heroic Job Search

Simply-become-who-you-are

David is a programmer at a small company. One day he received a promotion to management. He used to love programming, but lately it feels like everything is going wrong at work. He’s learning a tremendous amount about the business side and loves to interface with the C-level: but, at the end of the day he is exhausted from all of the people-problems he has to deal with on the job. Drama between co-workers, scheduling issues when people call out sick, confronting his staff about missed deadlines, and their failure to meet performance expectations are just a few of the issues he has to resolve.

This affects his usually-pleasant disposition and he becomes a grumpy person at work and home. David is now irritable and impatient with his family. His relationships with his wife and kids suffer. His son’s teacher now recommends that David and his family see a therapist weekly. His problems begin to extend beyond work and his immediate family. Even though David knows that he only has so much time with his ailing parents, he resents how they depend on him. He has no energy to take care of his health, and now his doctor wants him to start taking cholesterol and blood pressure medication. David also didn’t take care of his car. He forgot to get it serviced and inspected, so he was pulled over and fined for driving with expired inspection stickers, and the mechanic identified major engine problems due to his failure to get regular oil changes.

As David’s expenses grow, he has to cancel plans for vacations, which further disappoints his family. He starts to feel like there is no reprieve from his life. David is getting a month older with every day that passes in his life. He feels hopeless. Nothing is going the way he wants. It is as if he’s walking toward the abyss and nothing can correct his course. He knows he has to do more to save his health and to reignite the passion in his career. The desire to search for a new job, and to leave the stresses of his current job behind are calling to him. David has to answer the call.

David wants new adventures and excitement in his life. He wants to feel as if his work matters, instead of feeling like a cog in a giant machine. Each night after work, he applies for new jobs on various job boards and on company websites. Most of the time, he submits his résumé and never hears back from potential employers. Other times, David’s interviews are torturous, as he tries to explain why he would be a good manager. He then tries to go back to programming, but receives even fewer responses, and is told he is over-qualified, and addressing his failure to be an effective manager continues to make him feel inadequate and embarrassed. He knows he’s not making a great impression with employers.

A year passed and David is still miserable at his job as a manager, unable to find anything new. He needs change NOW. David asks a few of his friends for advice and one of them suggests reassessing his job search. The manager knows he wants more from his job search. He doesn’t want to waste any more time and energy at his unfulfilling job. He begins the reassessment by attempting to identify his strengths, assess his skills, and tries to assume a new professional identity while carving out his own personal niche in the job market. David has a difficult time trying to achieve the vision he set forward. He reaches out to a career coach who can help him relay those findings into a vision of his new professional identity.

With the advice of a career coach, he is able to learn how to apply his strengths as a business analyst, has a new résumé written, and even learns how to connect with others in his desired industry. The career coach helps him develop a three-month plan to close the skills gap he needs to be considered a Business Analyst, and helps him enroll in online courses that he can take while he searches and works full-time. David learns how to demonstrate his value and passion to others. He also revamps his LinkedIn profile, and it is rewritten to promote the transferrable skills and innate talents he has been using all along. He is able to show how he will apply his skills in a new way, in a new role. The the results are almost immediate. Within three months of hiring a career coach, David receives job offers from multiple companies and discovers his negotiating power. David lands a job as a Business Analyst at a company he loves, while earning a higher salary than he did at his previous job as a manager.

David’s journey from a job he hated to a job he loved is not unlike the journey of a hero– a term used in fiction-writing. The call to adventure is often ignored or refused by the hero in his or her journey. The refusal might be because of a sense of fear, insecurity, or obligation. Refusing the call means feeling stuck in a place of hopelessness and being a victim to circumstances. Joseph Campbell, an American writer, helped summarize the concept of the Hero’s Journey in his 1949 book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. In his concept of the hero’s journey, the hero’s tale only takes a turn for the positive when he answers the call of adventure:

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder. Fabulous forces are encountered and a decisive victory is won. The hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

 

Think of it this way: the decision to search for a new job, whether you’re unemployed or seeking a better job, is a journey. In your job search, YOU are the hero: but thankfully, you are also the AUTHOR of your own epic journey. Like the hero in many stories, your journey never really goes anywhere until you heed a higher calling. In the case of a job seeker, this would be the call to leave the job you’re dissatisfied with, or avoiding taking just any job if you’re unemployed. Heeding the call means you’ll be victorious in your journey. But many of us (at first) choose to ignore the call. What does this look like? More importantly, how can we get our heroic journey started?

 

The Journey and ignoring the call:

If you’re failing to find purpose in your job and your job-search journey is stalled, these are symptoms of a much greater problem– you are out of sync and out of alignment with your purpose and passion. Living against this grain causes splinters and calluses, much like how you can go into numbness and resignation. Until you surrender to the calling, EVERYTHING goes wrong.

If you’re dissatisfied with your job and you feel your life has a lack of passion, it’s not too late to start on a new journey. Bill Walsh, America’s Small Business Coach, said it best: “If your why is strong enough, the how will come.” Consider your own “why.” That is, what are the things that give you passion, drive and purpose in both your professional and personal life? Why have you chosen your particular career? Did you do it just to draw a paycheck? Or do you want to help others succeed: give back to your community: and enjoy your life to the fullest? Your “why” is something only you can answer. I created my own “why” video as one of my first assignments from Bill’s Rainmaker Summit.

Landing a job that helps fuel passion and purpose is a critical part of the hero’s journey. Remember, ignoring the call-to-adventure means being stuck in a place of stagnation and unhappiness.

 

Heeding the call:

At this point, you may feel like our hero who is on the cusp of embarking on the adventure. Right now, you may feel stuck, but you’ve found your reason for wanting to achieve greatness. Perhaps you were meant to read this very post, at this very time. It may be your time to STOP and listen to the call-to-adventure, start your hero’s journey, and accept the call to adventure. Don’t navigate it alone. Every hero has allies he or she can depend on. Those allies may be family, friends, alumni, co-workers and even acquaintances.  They are your network and they are willing to aid you in your journey.

There’s also the option to seek out professional help, if you feel your network can only take your journey so far. A career coach can help you discover the direction you need to take in your journey. Our own book, “Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint Your Purpose and Passion in 30 days” is a journal guide that can help you discover your passion. Whether the future is completely open or you know you need to make some major shifts, but keep a few things in place, our services will help you formulate a clearer vision of your future, so that you can build a strong foundation for a brand and campaign that manifest your ideal future.  We also recommend Derek Rydall’s programs to help you see what is in you already and to help bring it OUT, so that you can become who you are.  We suggest starting with Rydall’s “Best Year of Your Life Podcast” and then considering his Emergineering Program.

 

Decide that NOW is the time to answer the call-to-adventure. This will mean no longer being stuck in a mediocre job, and having the to power to change a career path. Discover what your “why” looks like and how it can help guide your job-search journey. As I said earlier, it could be finding a job you’re passionate about, finding your own financial freedom, earning a better salary, or even helping others in your community.

In your hero’s journey, once you find your “why” you can draw your sword and attack your job search with a renewed sense of purpose. No more job boards. No more torturous interviews. You’re going to be intentional about your future. You may decide that you want to enlist the help of a mentor, a career coach, or you may read about ways to discover and apply proactive methods to your job search. Creating a plan, choosing and targeting employers, networking, building your personal brand, hiring a résumé writer, and crafting a new cover letter are just a few of the many proactive methods you can use in your job search. Remember “why” you want to change your current circumstances and the “how” will come.

Epic adventures ahead!

 

11 Ways to Identify Your Next Employer

To Do List for 2009 by JD'na on Flickr

To Do List for 2009 by JD’na on Flickr

Having a target company list is not just nice to have in your job transition; it is a critical step to a strategic, proactive approach that accelerates and optimizes your transition. Having a criteria list, as well as a target company list ensures that your time is well spent pursuing opportunities that you have prequalified as good fits.

Think of it this way: do you think that recruiters spend their time looking at the larger candidate pool for anyone who might be available for a job? Or, do you think that they look for candidates who first meet their basic qualifications and possess skills that are necessary for success and then dig further to make sure that a candidate is also a cultural fit for the organization? Why shouldn’t you do the same during your job search? Doesn’t it make sense that if recruiters are specifically targeting potential candidates and you are specifically targeting particular opportunities and companies that you’ll meet sooner in the middle?

I would really love to eliminate from job seekers’ belief systems that the wider you spread your net, the faster you will transition. This proves time and time again to be inaccurate, and job seekers continue to experience frustration as they find themselves working that much harder to achieve even less traction. Then depression, resignation, and anxiety set in. These emotions are not good states of mind to be in when making decisions about the future. Assumptions are made about what is possible, and they become self-limiting beliefs. We’ve discussed this time and time again.

These self-limiting beliefs and assumptions can all be prevented by being more proactive than reactive during a job search. Last week we talked about criteria that you can use to qualify your next position. We demonstrated why creating a list of criteria can mean the difference between taking any job offered and landing the right job. Once you develop this list using the 11 categories we suggest, you can use it to identify companies that meet your criteria so that you can proactively and effectively market yourself to them, and beat out the competition for opportunities.

 

 

1. Workplace environment:

Choosing a workplace that you will like is just as important as the job itself. If you don’t like the workplace environment, it could quickly become a drag on your happiness and productivity. Consider what types of environments you like to work in. Do you need a large and well-lit office? Do you prefer a window that you can easily look out of from your desk? Do you prefer an urban setting with a visible city skyline, or a more suburban setting? Determining a potential employer’s location and type of workplace environment could be one of the easiest ways to look for target companies. But, this does require you to physically be in the environment that you want to wind up in and see what’s at a location.

 

2. Management:

What is the boss like as a person? Does he or she clash with employees? Or, are they loved as a leader by the staff? Ask specific questions of your network. It makes for a good, short agenda for phone calls that you can parlay into introductions and greater traction once you identify a company as a fit. Visit Glassdoor and Vault.com to get a general sense of management from employees, even as you call contacts within your network.

 

3. Passion and interest:

This is more internal. You can use a number of personal assessments tests, such as the passion test, strength indicator, Myers-Briggs personality test, and the DISC Profile to help you determine your personality and passions. But, all of these assessments depend on your ability to be introspective. Chances are, you’re going to have to ask yourself questions you might have been afraid to answer, or reluctantly answer because you believe those answers not real possibilities for your life. Answer them anyway, because the ideas you may have created about yourself may not be based on truth. After all, our thoughts and our ability to tell ourselves untruths is more powerful and common than we think. We all have a negativity bias because our brains are wired to think this way. Recognizing the untruths we tell ourselves and making a conscious effort to overcome these lies go a long way in realizing what is possible in our lives.

 

4. Flexibility:

Will you have the ability to telecommute? This one is pretty easy because most job descriptions for a company will include whether the position is remote. However, just because the company has flexibility for one position does not mean they’ll allow other positions to have such flexibility. You want to validate whatever your findings are by asking people in your network. If a company doesn’t offer the ability to work remotely as a policy, it doesn’t mean they won’t. You’ll also want to understand if the policies are written based on cultural decisions or security decisions.

 

5. Job structure:

Does your target company give you the freedom to work at your own pace? Or, will your supervisor always look over your shoulder? This is also information that you may be able to identify through Glassdoor, job descriptions, or your network.  Some companies experiment with their structure, and may even write case studies about things they have tried and if it has been successful.

 

6. Public perception:

What does the public think of your target company? When companies win awards it usually implies that there is a positive public perception of them. If this is important to you, check award lists. Awards may be granted by professional organizations, at conferences, and even industry publications to particular companies. Business awards run the gamut from local to international. Some prominent examples include the Best in Biz Awards (judged by members of the press and industry analysts), The American Business Awards, and the SCORE Awards. You can also search your local business journals, newspapers and magazines for companies in your area that may have won awards.

 

7. Force for change:

If you’re looking for a particular affiliation, look at companies that sponsor events like 5K’s, Black Tie events, or conferences. Attend these events whenever possible because the chances of you being able to ask questions of someone within the organization about your list of criteria are very high. If the company has a blog, a Facebook presence, or a Twitter presence, they will be promoting their change initiatives through these outlets and seeking engagement with the community. You will also want to check if they have a press page.

 

8. Culture:

There’s no better way to observe a company’s culture than by observing its people. Sit outside the company while people leave for lunch. Check to see if there are many cars outside when 5 o’clock comes around. You can gain insight into a company’s culture by observing how employees dress and what kinds of cars people drive. Do only the executives drive nice cars? Or do the employees also have nice cars? If so, the employees are doing well, too. Of course if you’re in the city, people may not be driving at all. You’ll still be able to get a good sense of what kind of culture a company has by observing the people who enter and exit the building.

 

9. Values

Values take more work to identify, because you’ll have to take a cross-section of people who work there and look into them a little bit further. See if your target company employees have social media profiles, and observe what they’re making public and posting. If the company employees are not posting anything sensitive such as politics or religion as a group, you may come to the conclusion that people are not going to be very verbal about these beliefs in the workplace either. Another way to learn about a company’s values is to look directly at its leadership. Is the CEO outspoken about his or her religious or political views? Does a company website directly state its core values? Check news articles, publications and other forms of press to gain insight about a company’s political views. Do CEOs regularly contribute to political organizations? Have they ever voiced support or opposition to a major political issue? It is possible that employees may not share their employer’s views, but learning about them can give you a better glimpse into a company’s values before you pursue a position.

 

10. Co-worker relationships:

You can make a lot of observations at 5 o’clock. Do multiple people get into one car?  Or do they all go their own separate ways? If there is a pub or restaurant in the vicinity, are coworkers going there together? If employees constantly gather after hours, it implies that co-workers have social relationships that extend outside of the workplace.  Dig a little deeper. Do the employees seem to just be executives? Is it a boys club? There’s a lot you can observe this way.

 

11. Best methods:

You can use a variety of organization methods to keep track of your target company list. Create a spreadsheet, use one column for your list of criteria, then add a column for each company, and cross-reference your criteria for each company. If a target company matches your criteria, further expand your spreadsheet with columns for contact information, companies you’ve sent a résumé to, interview dates, and times to follow-up. Make sure to add and remove companies from your list on a regular basis. Tools such as DropBox, Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive will allow you to access and instantly update your documents on any internet connected device. Block out a period of time each day to work on your list and keep to your set schedule.

 

Creating a target company list allows you to take an informed approach to your job search. Instead of applying for a position at any company, being selective allows you to focus on what you really want from a potential employer. Casting your job search net too wide doesn’t yield better results; it just takes up more of your time. In the same way, recruiters and hiring managers focus their attention on a few promising candidates. If this approach works for them, it can also work for you. Don’t search harder for more employers- use your time to search smarter. The time you spend targeting and researching companies will pay tenfold in the future, as you land a job faster, negotiate the salary you really want, at an employer you know will be a good fit for you.

 

If you need or want more help developing a list of criteria, we’re here for you. Our Criteria Identifier and Target Company Evaluator is a great tool to aid in your employer research.

 

10 Creative Ways to Choose Your Next Employer

Day 291_the Big List by Ana C. on Flickr

Day 291_the Big List by Ana C. on Flickr

 

Alex loves being a Software Engineer, but he has been grumpy about work. The idea of going into work no longer excites him and the passion he once had is nearly gone. Deep inside of himself, Alex knew it was time for a career change. Logically, his current employer looked great on paper: but, he didn’t have a good gut feeling about the job. The work at Alex’s current company wasn’t what he expected based on the interview and he didn’t look well enough into the company before accepting the job. So, he approached his job search from a different angle. Instead of only looking at salary and benefits, Alex wrote down a list of criteria his new employer had to satisfy before he would accept the job. Much of his list focused on the workplace environment, workplace culture, his enthusiasm for the company, and his values. Using the criteria he developed, Alex found an employer that satisfied him. He landed a job with the company and his passion for work was rekindled.

You may be like Alex, dissatisfied with your current employer and ready to make a transition. Or, you may be looking for work, but you don’t want to choose just any employer. Which is wise, even if your are in need of a job, as per our last article. You want an employer that will pay you well, but your job is more than a source of income. You want flexibility, satisfaction, a culture that reflects your personal values, and to be fully engaged on the job. We all intuitively have a list of criteria that we want an employer to fulfill. Sometimes we dismiss our ability to land a job that meets these criteria, but this is seldom based on truth. We use a logical approach when we take a set of facts and form our reasoning based on those facts. An intuitive approach is based on our perception of facts and/or truth and isn’t always based on reasoning. Think your intuition as a split-second “gut feeling”, as opposed to a longer and more reasoned approach with logic. When you don’t use a logical and intuitive approach you wind up in the wrong jobs, which sets us up for failure, ultimately, and wastes your time when you could be fast-tracking your career and income.

When searching for their next job, people often fail to develop a list of criteria. In my article “The Correct Response to a Job Lead” I wrote about how a company needs to meet about 80% of your criteria before you create a connection with them. In that article, I also discussed how to research a company after asking a few practical questions such as company size, location, employee happiness, and how well you could fit a potential position. It is important to develop a criteria list because it will aid you in your development of a target company list.

 

Criteria to consider:

 

  1. Workplace environment:

A workplace environment encompasses everything related to the location of an employer. This includes a geographical location, immediate surroundings (an office park in the suburbs, office building in the city, being near a construction site or surrounded by a small forest), noise levels and even air quality. Would you prefer to work amid the hustle and bustle of a large city, or do you prefer the quieter life in the suburbs? Would a location with very few windows and lots of re-circulated air bother you? Or do you need constant access to fresh air?

 

  1. Management:

Will you like your boss? This is the person you will report to on a daily or weekly basis. If his or her attitude or demeanor is concerning to you, you may eventually clash with their personality. You will have to weigh the benefits of their leadership against their personality. By that, I mean that your potential boss could be difficult to like, but might be an amazing leader. Think of Steve Jobs or Jeff Bozos.

 

  1. Passion and interest:

Will your next job excite you? You may have the skills and qualifications to do a job, but will you feel passionate about your work with a new employer? If you only go through the motions with your job, it won’t be long before dissatisfaction catches up with you. If you don’t care about the work you’re doing it will become evident for everyone to see. Clients, co-workers and subordinates will notice the lack of interest in your work. A job you feel passionate and interested in can challenge you in new ways and provide you with the opportunity to expand your skill set. Will your next employer enable you to be exposed to the areas of interest that you want to further explore? If you find yourself at a job that doesn’t incorporate your abilities, you’ll eventually yearn for a new employer that will put your skills to use.

 

  1. Flexibility:

Will you have the ability to work remotely when needed? Can you take time off when needed? Balance between personal-life and work-life is important. If you have the freedom to create flexible work arrangements, you’ll find yourself less stressed out at home and on the job. Conversely, some people feel that working in a remote and flexible workplace is more challenging and need people there physically to complete the job with a certain quality. If you would be bothered by your co-workers taking advantage of flexible work arrangements, don’t torture yourself by working for a company where these freedoms are extended.

 

5. Job Structure:

How much freedom do you want at work? Are you fearful of micromanagers who are constantly looking over your shoulder? This boils down to what type of worker you are. If you like constant input and feedback, you should consider an employer that works closely with employees. If you prefer to do things on your own terms, you may want a more laid-back management style.

 

6. Public perception of the company:

Will your next employer be a high-profile company? Will you work for a household name, or would you prefer a company very few people know about? If your company is a household name, do they have a positive or negative image? For example, are they a well-loved hardware and software maker? Or are they a notorious monopoly in constant litigation? You may have to ask yourself if the perks and benefits at the company outweigh a negative public perception.

 

7. Force for change:

Will your new employer be a force for good in the world? Do you want your future employer to give back to local communities, donate to charity and place an emphasis on people and profits? And if so, with what non-profit organizations do you align with and that you also want your employer to align?

 

8. Workplace Culture:

A workplace culture is a big factor to take into consideration. A company may have a flexible management style, a causal dress code, and may be geared toward younger workers. Or the workplace could be traditional, with a business professional dress code and workers may be accustomed to greeting each other formally. If you scream for tradition, a culture that embraces a causal style may not be for you. Just as you would consider a company’s culture and if it matches your personal values, a potential employer is just as interested in making sure you’re fit for their culture.

 

9. Values:

Will your job align with your values? Do you care if your employer or your immediate bosses have strong religious beliefs? For example, your employer may insist on adhering to Christian values, especially if they are a smaller company. Does that idea excite or horrify you?  Are you okay with an employer who has different religious beliefs from your own? Or do you prefer an employer not to embrace any religious beliefs? There are also other values to consider, such as political alignment. Many of my clients scratch their heads when I ask them what they believe in, because they wonder why that would be relevant to a job search. However, if you hold your beliefs close to you, and it causes you conflict and stress to be around people who are staunchly opposed to the things you believe strongly, it can impact your quality of work and life. Even if you don’t talk much about these things, if other people do, conflict will be hard to avoid, and while differing views can be a source of growth, it is not always welcomed in the workplace.

 

10. Co-Worker Relationships:

How will you get along with your new co-workers? Unless you’re working remotely, your co-workers are going to be a major influence at your workplace. Will you socialize with them inside and outside of the office? Or do you believe that business and pleasure should not mix? Does your personal life stay at home or do you engage others about life outside of work? You’ll have to consider if your next employer will sponsor activities such as a softball or bowling team and whether you want to attend those events. Would you be comfortable working for a company that believes in team-building retreats and workshops?

 

Tapping into the subconscious to know what’s right for you:

 

Once you have idea of what criteria you want your employer to fulfill, you can use physical and mental exercises to help reflect on your list.

Muscle testing (also known as Applied Kinesiology) is great way to diagnose specific nervous system problem or nutritional deficiencies, and restore energy. Dr. Jeff Echols has a great video that demonstrates how muscle testing is done and its benefits. Some new age career coaches promote muscle testing as a way to help determine if a decision is in alignment with your inner wisdom. This practice can help calm your mind in order to better focus on an important decision. You can use muscle testing to help elicit a true “yes” or “no” answer on whether you should pursue a career opportunity. A sound body helps form a sound mind, and a sound mind helps make important decisions.

Meditation is great way to tap into your subconscious mind, reduce stress and improve concentration. By sitting and concentrating on your breath, you can keep your attention focused. It allows you concentrate on one thing and to block out other distracting thoughts. Once you’re able to sit quietly, focus on your breathing or even chant a mantra (a phrase to help you focus), you can tap into your subconscious mind to reflect on your work-related criteria. It may take some practice but your subconscious mind can help guide you that “yes” or “no” job-related decision.

 

Creating a list of job criteria is one step that far too many job seekers skip. Yes, good pay and benefits are extremely important, but a satisfying career consists of more than pay. Do you love what you do at your job or are you just there to draw a paycheck? Can you imagine waking up each morning and being excited by the work you do? How about the pride that comes with working for an employer who makes a difference in your community? Are you willing to take less pay for a more personally fulfilling job? For example, choosing employment at a non-profit company that directly works with a disadvantaged population, versus employment at a larger for-profit company in the tech sector that may only donate to charity. Your need to make a difference in the lives of others may outweigh superior compensation and benefits. Or you may strive to work at an organization that can provide you with a great salary and the ability to directly help others. We all intuitively know what we want from our lives and how our professional choices will reflect our desires. By developing a list of criteria and tapping in your subconscious, you can choose an employer that will personally satisfy you.

 

If you need or want more help developing a list of criteria, we’re here for you. Our Criteria Identifier and Target Company Evaluator is a tool to help you with your employer research.

 

Save Time, Effort and Money by Starting Strong on Your Career Transition

"Time Flies" Photo courtesy of h.koppdelaney of Flickr creative commons. http://bit.ly/16TSfDb Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

“Time Flies” Photo courtesy of h.koppdelaney of Flickr creative commons. http://bit.ly/16TSfDb Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

 

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” John Wooden was one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all time, and was well known for his motivational quotes. In this particular quote, Wooden relayed to his players that time is precious and of the essence, we may not always have a second change to optimize our efforts. The world of job-hunting is filled with missed opportunity, but taking the time to start the search  in a smarter-not-harder way can go a long way in finding success. Recognizing the ways in which opportunity can be missed means you won’t waste your time on job search efforts that yield poor results. The cost of searching for a job can be expensive. Depending on your needs and the services you opt for (resume writing, traveling to events, a career coach, etc.) could cost you at least $2,000. If you are currently employed and make $100K per year, your gross income per day could be around $260. A prolonged job hunt could easily burn through much of your daily income, especially if you spend more than 5% of your time searching and applying for jobs online. Think of the hours you waste per day by filling out impersonal job applications, when you could spend the time creating meaningful connections with people through networking and researching target companies. Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker said it best: “Days are expensive. When you spend a day you have one less day to spend. So make sure you spend each one wisely”.

The conclusion I’ve come to is many job seekers skip out on the activities that get them the best results because they perceive that they require more time and their efforts have a questionable pay off. Networking and personalizing your search also requires facing people, and for some reason we find the thought of facing people to be scary at times. The best jobs and the best opportunities to find those jobs can’t be obtained by the simple press of an “easy” button. Developing relationships with people isn’t the difficult part of a job search. It takes a couple of weeks to generate momentum before you can powerfully articulate your value and the contribution you want to employers with straightforward requests. The TIME is the part that requires some patience, perseverance, and self-assessment to arrive at the clarity necessary to develop those messages. People are the EASY part, as long as we can hurdle our fears; many people have been in the similar position of seeking a foot in the door and are willing to give advice. The work may be time-consuming at first, but the payoff means more job leads, references, interviews, and even landing the job. Furthermore, once these connections are established, it will become much easier to utilize your network to help find your next opportunity.

 

Growing the Network:

Establishing or growing your personal and professional network is the first step in generation the momentum you need to articulate your value to employers. It is a necessary step because very few job seekers land a position without networking. In fact, about 80% of jobs are landed through networking. This is true for most positions where personality is just as important as skills and qualifications. This means connecting with former friends and colleagues you might not have talked to since your previous job, or even since college. Don’t count these people out just because you didn’t keep in touch. That IS the purpose of social media. It is completely acceptable, if not expected, to reconnect with people with whom you lost touch through social media. Friends and family may be able to provide you with valuable leads, or they may connect you to someone who can provide you with these leads. A quote from Sesame Street defines personal connections perfectly: “The people in your neighborhood, the people that you meet each day.” These connections can be anyone with whom you are on a first name basis—dentists, mail carriers, hair dressers, clerks at the bakery or deli are just a few examples. Your professional connections can consist of alumni, co-workers, hiring managers, recruiters, and even former bosses. Through these connections you can discover job openings, and obtain referrals.

If you have yet to tap into your personal and professional networks, or if you have, but have not been able to gain any traction with your network I cover these topics in two vlogs. The first vlog is “How Does Your Garden, uh, Network Grow?”. The second vlog is “Job Help for the Discouraged Job Seeker”. All of your connections are important because they could lead you to your next career opportunity. You can also optimize your network by prioritizing contacts, and by creating lists sorted by relevance. Have meaningful interactions with contacts in your field. The quality of the interaction is important. You won’t get far by reconnecting with someone just to ask them for job leads. Make it about a genuine interest in finding out more about them, how they’ve been doing, and what you can do to help THEM. For some, this will feel like less pressure than making it about asking for favors. Don’t ask for favors. Watch my vlog, “Get Interviews Through Your Network” for a better way of obtaining an interview. For others who have been experiencing an emotional tailspin, facing people means having to show how vulnerable you have become. Facing people when you feel embarrassed or less than is the LAST thing you want to do. I recommend you watch Brene Brown’s TED Talk on the power of vulnerability. Relationships are a give-and-take. If you help someone out in your network, it demonstrates how valuable you are, and they will naturally want to extend help to you.

 

Attending Networking Events:

Networking events are a great way to further expand your network. Professional conferences, job club meetings, community service groups and career fairs provide opportunities for job seekers to meet employers, hiring managers, and recruiters at local events here: U.S. News & World Report Money has compiled a list of common professional networking events. Obtain a list of employers prior to attending the event, so you can research the companies beforehand. Doing this will allow you to narrow down the employers in your field, or the companies you’d really like to work for in the future. You will be able to tailor your conversation and questions to the individual company, which will leave a lasting impression on recruiters. Even if they’re not hiring, they could remember you when positions do open.

Often I have heard from people who have landed exactly the job that they wanted, that it was all due to one event that turned into several meetings, which generated several more meetings. In this way, JoMo (job momentum) can build VERY quickly. The key is making sure that all of your conversations cover a small agenda:

  1. Find out what the other person needs.
  1. Offer to help (and do so within a week).
  1. Let them know what contribution you want to make for your next employer.
  1. What qualifies you to make the contribution.
  1. Who your ideal employer is, either as a profile or name specific companies, then explicitly ask if they know anyone who works in a company like this.
  1. Ask them to make an introduction within a week.
  1. Schedule a follow-up.

Networking events are about creating and maintaining connections. Take some time to talk about your background and find shared experiences. If you have any great work-related stories to tell, share them. It could be about the time you saved a major project or exceeded your company’s goals. Some of these stories may seem like another day at the office to you, but they can illustrate your best qualities as a person and employee. On the flipside, take time to learn about the recruiters you meet at networking events, and ask them what they like best about working for their company. Don’t linger with one recruiter for too long, as they are eager to meet other job seekers. This can be a balancing act. While you don’t want to monopolize someone’s time, it can be awkward to cut a conversation short when there is evident synergy. If you find this is true, offer to meet up with someone after the event. When the event is over, take the time to write a “Thank You” note to the recruiter to demonstrate you’re interested in their company. The stronger the impression you leave on recruiters, the more likely they are to remember you.

 

Make LinkedIn Work for you:

A 2014 Jobvite survey discovered that 73% of recruiters plan to increase their investment in social media recruiting. LinkedIn is the social network of choice to help find and recruit job seekers. In other words, LinkedIn is one of the best places to find and establish a relationship with recruiters, HR managers, co-workers and others in your professional network. If you haven’t used the social network in a while, give your profile a nice cleaning. Differentiate your LinkedIn profile from your résumé, customize your default headline, and carefully craft your keywords. Taking the time to make these adjustments to your LinkedIn profile will ensure that you stand out from the crowd and that you grab the attention of people who you want to create a connection.

Once your profile is spruced up, take the time to join a few industry groups. These groups will allow you to show off your industry knowledge, and you’ll expand your network with new connections. If you find articles or blog entries relevant to your industry, comment on them and engage in meaningful discussions. You can also add to discussions by writing your own articles, or sharing the articles of others within your industry. You’re an authority in your field, and you want to be a go-to person for knowledge. Putting a few hours of work into your LinkedIn presence each week will demonstrate your passion for your industry, and make it easier for you to connect with others. If you need or want help strengthening your LinkedIn profile, we’re here for you.

 

Keep Track of your Goals:

Creating a list of measurable goals can help you maintain your career transition effort by staying focused and disciplined. More importantly, you’ll be able to keep your momentum going. Some examples of goals to set and meet are: making three calls to contacts per week, scheduling two meetings per week, and helping two people in your network per week. Do small things such as spending an hour each day engaging with industry groups on LinkedIn. Do bigger things such as reaching out to two or three contacts a week, and taking a day out to network with at least one of them. Go even bigger by attending two industry events per week. Start with one per month and work your way up! Ease yourself into these events by starting small, and increasing the number of events you attend each month. If you find yourself losing a lot of money every day you spend searching and not landing a job, you may want to go big from the get go. In my article, “Break Out of Your Comfort Zone and Accelerate Your Job Transition,” I wrote about the strategies for trying new things in your career transition. Having goals and sticking to them will help you get out of your comfort zone and out of the house to network with people. Don’t stop networking just because you had a great interview and you expect to be offered your dream job. ANYTHING can happen, and it usually does. Plus, having a great job offer is a great position to be in, but an even better position is having two or three great job offers and having the employers compete for you. This can make a $20K+ difference in your salary.

 

Starting off your job search by networking is the most effective way to begin your career transition. Think about it. Spending your time applying online is time-consuming and expensive. You spend your time searching without a payoff. Networking can land you a job faster by leveraging your personal and professional connections. Making connections through social networking sites liked LinkedIn is a great start, but attending networking events is also important. You can learn about your local employers and meet local professionals in person. You can add them to your network by connecting with them on a personal level. It is through your network that you will learn about job openings before they’re ever posted to job boards (if they are ever posted), and gain important referrals that get you to recruiters, and ultimately interviews with hiring managers. Taking the time to do it right means building your network and creating goals for yourself. Doing these steps will save you time and effort. The money you save is by landing sooner and by making more! The larger and more relevant your network is, the easier it is to utilize it when you start a career transition.

 

 

Are you martyring your dreams?

Photo courtesy of Rowanhill--"Spring Path".

Photo courtesy of Rowanhill–“Spring Path”.

“I never want to work for a mean boss, like you, mom,” a client’s daughter said.  Following the conversation with her daughter, she asked me how I ended up in career coaching. I told her that I identified with her daughter because my own parents’ careers and their attitudes about work disenchanted me in my childhood and adolescence. I did not want to be held down and under-appreciated by management, but I also did not want to be management, who I thought was some evil, power-hungry scrooge. This made it really tough to envision a future where I could be fulfilled, paid well, and happy.

I later realized that there were, in fact, some people who followed a career path that they loved and got paid well. But there were far too few. Wondering why, I sought to understand how the happy, successful people got where they were. Why did it seem so easy for some people? One major factor stuck out to me. The people who pursued professional happiness did so because they believed that it was possible for them. What a concept.

I’ve been a professional career coach for eight years now. I have helped my clients confront belief systems that hold them back. I have had many clients who were taught that work cannot be fun and pay the bills. I’ve even had bosses who believed that pursuing a profession based on passion is “idealistic,” or in other words, unrealistic. I see parents all the time explain to their children that they had to give up their dream so that they could provide for their families.

[Click to tweet: Are you martyring your dreams? http://ctt.ec/FTcS4]

Now that I have kids of my own, I’m very careful to consider what I teach them about work, income, and choosing a vocation. I don’t want my kids to feel like they are a reason that I had to sacrifice my dreams and spend my time working. I want them to feel exhilarated about the possibilities and potential for the future using their God given talents. I want them to feel like they can have it all – everything that is important to them can be possible. I don’t want anyone to ever try to convince them otherwise. I want them to know that mommy wants to do some really important things to help other people.  And I want them to be inspired and feel a part of that.

In addition, I want other moms to know that their choices and commitments do not have to limit them. I mean, we all have limits to our time, but more than ever before in the history of the world, there are tremendous solutions available to get more done with less time.

A 2015 career manifesto for you and me: 

I will remain open to what is possible, even if I’m not sure it is. I will make decisions based on what I want most, not based on fear or skepticism. Instead of saying why me, I will say why not me? I will operate as though the world supports me and wants me to be successful, and I will look for evidence of this everywhere.

Imagine – The Beatles – John Lennon

Imagine de John Lennon. The Beatles. Imagine there´s no heaven, it´s easy if you try….