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5 Must Do’s for a Successful Job Search Week

Job Searching by NJLA of Flickr

Job Searching by NJLA of Flickr

 

I have received a lot of feedback and many of you found the sample schedule to be very helpful. As a result, I decided to outline five major components of a successful job search activity that you can integrate into your schedule every day or, at least, every week. This will help build competencies toward your expertise in job searching.

Why would you want to be an expert in job searching? I know most people find it rather dreadful. However, when job searching is done right you can feel as much like a rock star in the flow, or in a groove, as you did when you were on top of your game in your job. The major benefit of gaining this critical life skill is reclaiming power over your destiny.

 

1. Research

The research you will be conducting every day or every week will be to identify new target companies, find out what major initiatives, challenges, and potential setbacks your target companies are experiencing. Discover how you can add direct value, and identify people who can either be internal sponsors for you or be your next potential boss. If you are really adept at research, you can even find out some personal things about these people that will enable you to build rapport and hit their hot buttons.

The resources that you will use to conduct this research include the obvious search engines like Google or Bing, as well as local business journals and newspapers, niche authority sites, business directories and databases such as leadferret.com and zoominfo.com, and your network.

If you are really bold and adventurous, you will try feet-on-the-street research. This means that you attend events or “stake out” the location of various popular breakfast, lunch or dinner spots in the vicinity with the intention of procuring intelligence from strangers.

2. Bold Action/Experimentation

The above can be considered bold action. I encourage you to experiment with this approach, if not for the adrenaline rush, for the fact that it can get you further faster than waiting for friends and acquaintances to take action on your behalf.

The activities that fall in this category very well might be outside your comfort zone, and thinking about them as experiments may help you detach from an investment in the outcome. I encourage you to celebrate everything that you try, whether it turns into an opportunity or not. Do keep track of your results so that you can repeat the experiments that produce great results such as pivotal introductions and interviews.

Everyone has a different comfort zone threshold. You know yourself best. If incremental progress works best for you, then take baby steps. A good example is trying out a new social media platform that you recognize some of your potential bosses are using and sending them a direct message. Some of you may thrive on taking a big leap and testing your limits. This could look like a creative gesture such as sending an unusual gift with a hidden meaning.

An example of a successful gift attempt that led to an interview and a job offer was a candidate who was demonstrating his attention to detail by creating and sending intricate origami eagles. I heard a story once about a candidate who sent a shoe with a note that he was hoping to get a “foot in the door.” I’m not sure how that went over, but the results of any of these attempts are going to vary from person to person. This is where it is critical to know your audience.

Being bold can also look like attending a keynote where an executive leader is speaking and asking the best question. The key, really, is to garner POSITIVE attention that you can use as an opening to create intrigue, build rapport, discover needs, and promote yourself as a solution.

3. Network Nurturing

I saw Ellen Weber of Robin Hood Ventures speak at a TedX event in Philadelphia and she forever changed the way I advise my clients to offer help to their networks. The eye-opening insight she shared was that when we ask someone generally, “How can I help you?” we put a burden on them to figure out how we can help them. She talked about a very personally challenging time in her life, and how her closest friends made that time easier simply by taking the initiative to find ways to help, as opposed to waiting for her to direct them, which felt uncomfortable. One friend would drop off meals, the other would help fold and put away laundry, and another even cleaned her bathroom while some friends whisked her away to get a pedicure.

Think of consultative sales, where you are not pushing a product, but asking really great questions and listening earnestly to what the client’s actual needs are so that the solution that you propose sells itself. In a podcast interview between Larry Benet, CEO of the Speakers and Authors Networking Group (SANG), and Vishen Lakhiani of MindValley, I learned some really great questions that are simple to ask and easily uncover some of these needs, such as, “What is the project you are working on right now that excites you the most?” followed up by “What would help you complete it sooner or better?” Another question, which can be quite personal, is “What keeps you up at night?” or “What wakes you up in the morning?” Vishen actually starts all of his interviews with this question, and, of course, he already has a good rapport with guests and relates to them on a personal level prior to the interview.

Once you know what you can do to help, the next thing to do is to follow through. If you cannot identify a need, the next best thing you can do is to share some relevant news, resources, or tools that you think may be of assistance. If you have ever wondered when and how to follow up, now you know.

 

4. Self Nurturing/Wellness

I considered putting this before network nurturing, as we have all heard the analogy of putting the oxygen mask on yourself before you assist others. What good are we unconscious? Well, similarly, as we have written before, science has proven that you are at your best when you are taking care of yourself. Do not skip the workout, but get at least a couple minutes in to increase your oxygen levels. You will actually work faster and more productively. What you produce will be better with fewer errors, meaning you won’t have to re-do that work. Have a cover letter to write? Go for a brisk 10-minute walk or do some jumping jacks. Eat a diet rich in the healthy fats your brain needs to be at its best. Cut out the carbs that cause brain fog and sluggishness. Once you start to treat yourself better, you will perceive yourself as more valuable and be better able to promote yourself as such.

 

5. FUN!

There is a lot more to these start-ups with their ping pong tables and video games than just hoping to attract elusive millennials. Fun is known for increasing creativity, building more cohesive teams, making employees more receptive to bad news or constructive criticism, and, if you believe in the law of attraction, it is apparently responsible for bringing good things into our lives.

You can leverage fun activities for your job search such as organizing a happy hour or bowling night with your friends so that you can catch them up on how they can help you. Moreover, you can also just have a good old-fashioned good time and still reap the benefits in your job search. As we wrote last week, happy people tend to achieve higher levels of success than people who simply work hard. Really! Harvard says so.

 

If you are in a full-time job search mode, I recommend doing each of these daily. If you are working full-time while searching, I recommend that you designate a day of the week for each of these activities.

As an experiment, try these activities for four weeks. Then share with us how intentionally integrating these critical components into your transition helps you build momentum and opens new doors of opportunity.

 

Celebration…And Stress Management

September has just whizzed by, and so has the past year, hasn’t it?

I just celebrated my 1st wedding anniversary … Yay! It’s another big milestone since my divorce a few years ago, after my 26-year marriage fell apart. I’m so much happier now … happier than I ever thought I could be! It’s amazing how life can be so much brighter after navigating a life-shaking transition. (I hope those of you currently going through a tough transition will take comfort knowing how wonderful life can be on the other side.)
A major factor in my happiness is how I’ve learned to manage and reduce stress in the past few years. I’ve been sharing many of these techniques with my coaching clients. Last week, I took the time to compile my stress management tips into an article.
In celebration of my 1st anniversary, I’m sharing my article with you:
10 Tips to Manage and Reduce Stress … Without Alcohol, Drugs, or Chocolate
Relax by Scarleth White from Flickr

Relax by Scarleth White from Flickr

As busy people, stress has become such a huge and omnipresent factor in our everyday lives. At work, we’re under more pressure than ever to get results because of the stagnant economy and because downsizing has resulted in fewer people available to get the work done. Our email boxes are overflowing.
At home, we’re spending less time having fun and doing activities that we love, and we’re getting less sleep than we need. We’re addicted to our mobile devices delivering messages to us 24×7. Crankiness abounds. It’s affecting our physical health too. And the stress is even higher if we’re going through a life-shaking transition such as a career change, relocation, separation, divorce, or death of a loved one.
Sound familiar? OK, then take a deeeeep breath. Here are 10 tips to help you manage and alleviate stress … without alcohol, drugs,or chocolate. 🙂
1. Recognize the difference between pressure and stress.
Pressure is imposed by external sources such as events or other people. Stress is created by internal sources, i.e. it’s self-imposed. We generate stress by the way we react to the pressures in our life. This is an important distinction because we may not be able to do anything to eliminate the things causing the pressure, but we can certainly learn to control it maybe through yoga, meditation, or some greens (those interested can click here to learn more), thereby alleviating its effects. The following Tips #2-6 are about how to manage how we react to external triggers.
2. Stop beating yourself up.
The biggest cause of stress is when we beat yourselves up over something we did or didn’t do. We are our own harshest critics. If you find your inner critic shouting “I shoulda,” “I coulda,” or “I woulda,” that’s a sign that you’re beating yourself up.
Separate yourself from your inner critic. Know that your negative self-talk cannot undo the past. It’s only making you feel bad. Use positive self-talk and affirmations to shift your mood and energy. Know that you did the best job you could, based on the information and resources you had at that time, and that you learned your lesson and will do better next time. Be gentle on yourself, and move forward. If you are having hardship in managing your negative internal voice, you can also look for options such as cbd gummies and chocolates or oils for assistance. Cannabis products can help in managing and streamlining negative thoughts.
3. Accept what is.
Is cross-town traffic grid-locked when you’re late for your appointment? Are the jackhammers across the street so loud you can’t hear yourself think? Is the mother of the screaming toddler on your flight doing nothing to calm him down? Is your ex-husband taking calls from his new girlfriend while you’re trying to have an important conversation with him? Is your blood pressure rising, just reading this paragraph?
An ancient Buddhist proverb says: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” It means that sh++ happens and you can’t do anything about it … but you can choose whether you’ll let it bother you or not. Things bother us when we tell ourselves that “Something’s wrong” or “It’s not supposed to be this way.” Re-frame the situation. Don’t let those things bother you. Just accept them as being “normal,” even if they’re not. Maintain an even keel.

4. Re-set your expectations.

Annoyed because your employee missed another deadline? Upset because your sister never returns your phone calls? Feeling overwhelmed because you thought you would be much farther along on your big project that you committed to have done by next week?
When your reality falls short of your expectations, you feel disappointed, unhappy, overwhelmed, or stressed. Sometimes, the best way to deal with that is to re-calibrate your expectations:
  • Realize that your employee works at a slower pace than others. You can either give him more time, or take other actions to manage his performance.
  • Accept that your sister may not value staying in touch as much as you do. Don’t take it personally when she doesn’t call you back.
  • Forgive yourself for your project delays and allow more time in the future for unexpected obstacles. (And stop beating yourself up.) Take big projects and break them down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Don’t be such a perfectionist. Other people don’t expect you to be perfect, so don’t pressure yourself to be.
5. Notice what you’re worrying about.
What are the things you most worry about? Which of them are things you have some control over? Which are things you truly cannot control? What benefit are you getting by worrying about these things?
There is a famous prayer that goes “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Focus on the things you have control over, and take actions to make them better. Let go of worrying about things that you can’t control, including trying to change other people’s personalities or behaviors.
6. Avoid people and situations that upset you.
Notice what triggers you. Is it rush hour traffic? Or certain people who exude negative energy? Your ex? The maddening crowds? Store employees who don’t understand the meaning of customer service?
The more aware you are of what triggers you and how you react, the more you can avoid those situations. Set boundaries to protect yourself and your sanity. Learn to say “no” when people demand your time. Take a different route to work to avoid heavy traffic, even if it might take a little longer. Minimize contact with people who are toxic, even if they’re family members. It’s not worth the aggravation. Instead, surround yourself with positive people.
7. Write it down.
Our brains are running at light speed all the time. We get brilliant sparks of genius at the most inopportune times. We’re constantly thinking of all the things we need to get done or all the things we need to remember. Our mind is in a constant swirl,even when we’re trying to sleep. No wonder we get stressed out.
Carry a small notebook everywhere you go. Keep it on your bedside table. When you think of something you want to remember, write it down. By downloading it from your brain, you have more mental space and calmness so that you can focus on being present.
8. Give yourself the gift of peace and quiet.
Give yourself some quiet time every day to rest your mind. Focus on the positive things in your life, and be grateful for them.
People who practice Transcendental Meditation say that they can re-set their minds with just a 20-minute deep meditation twice a day. Even if you don’t practice TM, you can benefit from meditating every day or just engaging in quiet time. For more tips on meditating, see our February 2013 article:
http://wingsforwomen.net/3809/manage-stress-through-meditation/
9. Take care of your body.
Prolonged stress will tear up your body and upset your natural rhythms of health. Your body will rebel by getting sick when you’re on overload, forcing you to rest. Your immune system will suffer. You’ll get high blood pressure or ulcers. In extreme cases, you’ll be susceptible to serious diseases or even cancer.
Commit to a regular sleeping schedule so you can re-charge your batteries. Drink lots of water. It’s amazing what water does to enable your body and brain to function properly. Eat well balanced, nutritional meals. Cut back on caffeine and sugar to avoid mood swings and energy crashes. Keep your body moving with regular exercise, especially yoga or cardio exercise. Take an invigorating Zumba dance class. Vigorous exercise generates endorphins, the natural “feel good” chemicals in your brain. Take a relaxing hot bath. Get a soothing massage. Most importantly … Breathe!
10. Engage in fun and enjoyable activities.
Even if you don’t have much time to spare, devote some time each week to do things you enjoy. Have fun. Celebrate small successes. Keep a sense of humor about things that are going awry. Laughter is the best medicine! People have even been known to cure themselves of cancer by engaging in serious laughter.
Life is too short to be stressed out all the time. Breathe. Smell the roses once in a while. Keep a positive outlook on life. Take care of the #1 VIP … YOU!!
I hope you found these tips to be helpful, especially Tips #2-6, which are about how to manage how you react to external triggers. If you feel challenged in this area, consider investing in some coaching.
For a complimentary consultation to explore how coaching can help you, fill out a brief request form here: http://bit.ly/WFWStrategySession
To a joyful and more fulfilling future,Keiko Hsu
Award-Winning Certified Life Coach,
Business & Executive Coach, and Transition Mentor
Wings for Women
San Francisco, CA