Archives for job search help

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

Weekly Goals Setting by Cloud Planner of Flickr

Weekly Goals Setting by Cloud Planner of Flickr

What does your typical job search day look like?

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

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

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

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

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

jobsearchschedule01

 

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

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

jobsearchschedule02

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

5 SMART Job Search Goals That Will Get You Landed

SMART by Pshegubj of Flickr

SMART by Pshegubj of Flickr

The act of setting goals is not what moves you toward the ultimate reward of landing the job, but people who set goals are 42% more likely to achieve them when they write them down. My students write SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, Time-bound) goals for their career as part of an assignment. When the goals are specifically focused on job search activities, they tend to drastically underestimate the activity needed to create actual momentum. I have created five SMART job search goals that I have found adequately enables clients and students alike to build momentum week after week. This allows them to generate multiple viable opportunities, create demand that increases their market value and self-worth, and makes them feel empowered to make a choice that is best for their career and life.

 

  1. Spend 80% of your job search activity proactively pursuing leads in target companies. Identify 10 new target companies each week through networking, LinkedIn, business journals, and professional organizations.
  1. Add 25 new LinkedIn contacts each week by searching LinkedIn’s suggested “People You May Know” and exploring various realms and communities with which you engage. Send 10 customized (straight from the contact’s profile) invitations every day, knowing that not all invitations will be accepted.
  1. Have one meal or coffee a day with a contact or friend, even if virtually. In each conversation and correspondence (including LinkedIn invitations) invite the person to reconnect or get better acquainted. Use this time to share personal or professional initiatives or challenges with which you can both use assistance and to introduce each other to people who can move you forward. Procure five new job leads each week this way.
  1. By asking “superconnectors” in your network, leaders in your industry and checking event sites like Meetup.com and Eventbrite.com, identify 10 worthwhile events, and commit to attending six each month that work with your schedule. Share these events with other people to add value to them, and to see if you can partner with someone who can make the other four events. Acquaint each other with the network contacts that would add the most value and network on each other’s behalf. Add new connections from 20 of your target companies and make 20 introductions for your networking partners each month.
  1. Stay at the top of your network connections’ minds and establish thought leadership by posting one thoughtful social media post daily. Follow active LinkedIn group discussions, share and comment on the relevant posts of Influencers, and try something a little more advanced each week, working your way up to Facebook Live videos or Periscope broadcasts, with the intention of increasing followers/fans by 10% each week.

 

Professor Gail Matthews at Dominican University also found that 70% of people who shared their goals achieved them while only 30% of those who kept their goals private had that much success.

So, if you really want to achieve your goals of landing a great job, write down these SMART goals, or create some other ones for yourself, and share them with someone who can help you stay accountable. Check out our toolkit, designed to help you track, measure, and improve your activities and your results every week.

 

If you do not want to achieve the goal of landing a job swiftly, consider that the job for which you are looking may not be the right one and get in touch with us so we can help you identify something that excites you more.

 

Did Your Job Break You?

Hands and Head by Timothy Actwell of Flickr

Hands and Head by Timothy Actwell of Flickr

When you are in an airplane far above the ground, you often consider that if anything were to go wrong you would most likely plummet to your death. It is very easy to see the risk. It is also easy to understand why some fear traveling by air and yet we know statistically we are far more likely to be hurt or die in a car accident. However, this is everyday life. We do not think about the risks as much, even though they are there all of the time.

Similarly, when we are faced with an offer for a less-than-ideal job while confronting mounting bills and not knowing where the money will come from, the decision seems obvious. Unfortunately, many are unaware of the risk of accepting a bad job. Therefore we do not mitigate the risk of having a job that breaks us.

What do we mean by this? There are two ways a job can break you and often times these ways coincide. One break is spiritual and the other is pragmatic.

If you have been working for a while, you might have had one of those days where you feel broken, where you have had a bad day. A bad day is not the same as having a job that breaks you down bit by bit psychologically and spiritually every day. It is much harder to notice when this happens because it usually happens gradually. Sadly, most people do not recognize how they have changed until they have reached a point of resignation.

Another way a job can break you is by breaking your path to prosperity. I understand that when faced with no income, accepting a lower income seems like a better choice, but please recognize that a setback in your income usually is not temporary; it impacts your trajectory for the rest of your life unless you know how to recover.

Spotting an employer who contributes to breaking you is not easy, even with sites like Glassdoor.com. It requires you to have the confidence to qualify them.

Furthermore, if you have not acquired the life skill of career transitioning, then you also lack the confidence to know that you can make something better happen. In turn, this makes you susceptible to being a victim of a bad employer.

If you do not think looking for a job sounds like fun or is something you would enjoy, I understand. It is like budgeting, not everyone enjoys it or finds it fun, but if you want to reach your financial goals it is worth doing. Additionally, there are many teachers and products to make the process less painful.

The same applies to your job search. Most people struggle to make something happen in their job search because they are unaware of the best ways to produce results. They make decisions based on fear and wind up in jobs that break them. However, everyone has the ability to learn and the capacity to apply better tools and techniques to produce greater momentum and better job offers. In fact, that is why we are here.

 

If you have found yourself broken by your job, or you balk at the process of job searching, check out our do-it-yourself tools or fill out a needs assessment form to have a free consultation and to explore one-on-one branding and coaching.

 

The Career Revival Concert Is Born. Will You Be My Monday Morning Quarterback, Please?

Waldermere Revival by Parke Ladd of Flickr

Waldermere Revival by Parke Ladd of Flickr

 

It is ironic that when I was a young girl I learned the rules of football so that I could bond with my dad, only to find as an adult he is the person with whom I like watching football the least. He is not just a Monday morning quarterback, he is a “in the game quarterback,” much like a backseat driver, and he does that from the front seat. He is infamous for his last minute, “Turn left here now. Aw, you should’ve turned left there.”

“Dad, there was a car coming straight ahead, a car behind me, and I had no turn signal on.”

“You could’ve made it.”

As much as I dislike hearing his critiques of the plays, because watching the game does not make you an expert even though he had his days of glory, spectators’ opinions matter. If there were no spectators, there be no sport. Or rather, there would be no business around the sports that would sustain its survival.

How did people know Quidditch, Ultimate Frisbee, or team building corporate retreats would take off? They recognized a growing interest, gathered and implemented feedback about the event or sport involved.

The Career Revival Concert was born many years ago, actually.

Much like I knew my broadcasting background would eventually boost my entrepreneurial efforts, I began producing marketing videos and podcasts, and I also knew that some day my music penchant and my life’s calling would collide. Then I read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, and he talked about a revival. Suddenly, I had a very clear vision of what this would look like.

However, now that I’ve finally brought this idea into the world, there is a lot of information that I need to gather, in order to figure out what the next steps of this event are. If you have found yourself bored by seminars, or disappointed that your enthusiasm to follow through after seminars waned, and you didn’t implement what you set out to achieve, then please take a few minutes to watch at least one of the songs and review the “What I know/what I still need to know” lists below and tell me what you think.

Take into consideration that hearing popular songs infused with inspirational and educational messages and lessons might spark and re-spark a motivation to get back on track toward your goals.

Here are the things I know about the event based on surveys we handed out, my own observations and feedback from my closest inner circle who were in attendance:

  • Most people want more.
  • Some people want less talking, but again they were there for open mic night and music, not talking.
  • People with diminished hearing could not hear me at all, so I would need a very good sound guy or girl to adjust the levels of the music so that there is a low sound bed underneath me while I’m talking. This means I would not want to talk over amazing guitar solos (or sax solos, or piano solos, or harmonica solos, etc.).
  • The pants I wore were not flattering.
  • The performance would have been better if we had done even a little practice.
  • The material would have been better if the integration between the lessons and music were planned and practiced.
  • There were things that I could have said and asked the audience to better engage them in the experiment.

 

Things I still need to figure out:

  • I still need to test whether there is a better way to integrate the talking with the music, or maybe I need to sing what it is I want to say.
  • If people know there is going to be talking within the song, would they still want less talking?
  • Would I charge for this and how much? (I was told by one of my business coaches that people pay for music, and I do, and I have to weigh what is more in alignment with my mission. If I use this event to generate revenue, I would have more capital to reinvest in improving our products and technology.)
  • It if were free, would I be wiling to find musicians, sound people, event staff, and venues who would volunteer their time and resources? Would I find sponsors or would I start a non-profit and apply for grants?
  • Should I partner with a big name in speaking or music? (That one seems obvious, right? But whom?)

 

Please watch the videos and answer the questions posed below, either in the comments or you can e-mail me directly at Karen@epiccareering.com (or LinkedIn message me).  You can be honest; I can take it!

What do you think of the mini Career Revival Concert?

____ Yes, I want more.
____ It was okay. Not my cup of tea.
____ I prefer the traditional seminar.
____ Yes, I would pay for more.
____ I like the music part best and don’t want talking over it.
____ If this was part of a bigger event, maybe.
____ I wouldn’t go, but I’d recommend it.

 

You’re the best!

 

 

 

3 Ways to Overcome Having Been Overpaid

All in a Day's Work by Damian Gadal of Flickr.jpg

All in a Day’s Work by Damian Gadal of Flickr.jpg

 

While research shows and some politicians feel that most workers, particularly women and federal employees, have been underpaid for far too long, some have been blessed to be very well paid. If this is you, I hope that you are taking full advantage of it and, rather than increasing your standard of living, are using the money to pay off debts and saving for the future. Experience has proven that being paid above market value puts you on the chopping block if your company ever decides that the money is better spent elsewhere.

To boot, if you are separated from your company it can be that much harder to find a job above market pay or even to convince employers that you are willing to take a pay cut.

Employers have justifiable concerns hiring somebody above market range. You could be asking for more than your boss is earning, which usually does not produce strong rapport to build a good relationship.

As with most situations, this poses a challenge, but is not necessarily an obstacle. There are ways that you can conduct your search and mitigate any potential perceived risk you pose by being someone paid above market.

 

  1. Know your numbers

If you are someone who excels at managing personal finances, you probably have strong accounts of what your monthly expenses are, and you also probably have very clear-cut savings goals for retirement. Evaluate whether there are areas of your living expenses or entertainment expenses that can be downsized.

If you have not been keeping very clear records of your monthly expenses and do not have clear-cut retirement, or other savings goals, now is the time to meet with a financial advisor.  (I know a few great ones, if you need a referral!)

If this task seems daunting to you, I can relate, and it can be tempting to guesstimate, but this is potentially very dangerous for you. If there is something you do not account for, like if you own a home and you are not accounting for an emergency fund for all the unexpected, very expensive repairs that come along with owning a home, you could be underinsured for some acts of God. Another example could be that you need to increase in your life insurance coverage if your standard of living has increased over the years. If you had a 401(k) with your previous company, a financial advisor will help you determine the best way to reinvest that to match your desired level of growth, risk, and future life needs. This is something you want to expert help on. Even if you are an expert at these things, it is wise to obtain a second opinion. Just make sure that, whatever decisions are made and whoever makes them, you are fully educated on the options and apprised of the ongoing status. Always maintain control and awareness.

If you genuinely are able to take a pay cut because you are earning above your means, coming in with specific substantiation of that will show an employer that you are fully prepared, and not guessing. Many employers have personal experience with this that they will trust over your word. You can convince them that you are not a flight risk by taking a salary cut if you write or say something specific, such as, “My house is paid off, my kids’ college is paid for, I have no debt, and I can afford to take a $43,000 pay cut.” You can do this from the get-go in an approach or cover letter, you can empower your recruiter to negotiate this on your behalf, or you can state it upfront in conversation when you have a chance to speak one-on-one with your next potential boss.

By the way, just because you are willing to take a pay cut does not mean you should not try to negotiate your package, especially if in your role you are expected to be a strong negotiator. Focus on some of the perks of a package, like a corporate car or car expenses. Perhaps you already have health care through your spouse. You can either negotiate for them to replace some of the perks they would have offered you with compensation, or where they cannot provide you with compensation, ask for perks. Come in knowing which perks have a monetary value to you.

 

  1. Know the market

Indeed, Glassdoor, and Salary.com are all places that will give you some good numbers around what the market is paying for particular roles in particular geographies. However, you may bring with you some niche skills or experience that has additional value in the market. A niche recruiter can be a very good resource in these situations. If you are going to ask for a higher salary than what the market seems to be paying generally, you need to bring with you some substantiation of your requests, and know that even if you are able to educate an employer on why you are worth more than the average candidate and are offered what you ask, ultimately if they have not budgeted for such things,  you risk the chance of being the first to go should the financial constraints of hiring you prohibit their strategic plans to invest or spend in other areas. You are also going to be held to a higher standard and had better not only deliver the goods, but continue your campaign to promote that you are delivering the goods; do not assume it will be acknowledged. People are usually very skeptical of an “overpaid suit.” You will have the stigma to combat until you earn people’s trust.

 

  1. Have a Plan B

If you really cannot afford to take a pay cut, or you really do not want to lower your standards of living, you can find other ways to make up the difference in your salary, such as investing in real estate, businesses or other financial products. You could do some consulting or coaching on the side, pending it will not be a conflict of interest with your employer. You could write a book or develop an online course. You could become a paid speaker. Let’s face it: you have managed to earn more than your professional counterparts, others will want to learn how you did it – you have something very valuable to teach.

 

You might not have thought being well-paid was such a detriment until you find yourself justifying it, defending it, or even wanting to hide your pay. (I do not recommend hiding your pay. People have their ways of finding out and you pose an even bigger risk as someone who is not forthcoming or even deceitful.) Keep in mind the employer’s perspective. Chances are if you have been on the hiring side you can completely empathize with their concerns, and, if this is so, definitely express that.

You may have to address your salary upfront, which is contrary to other negotiation advice, to get the chance to interview and establish your value, and then, once you have them interested in your value, you will have to address it again when it comes time to design a compensation package that works for all parties. Keep in mind that most employers want you to be a creative problem solver, so think of this as one of the things that you can creatively resolve in partnership with your employer to further demonstrate that you are exactly who they want.

 

Everything You Need Above the Fold of Your Resume to Get an Interview in 6 Seconds

Phone Talkin' by Martin Cathrae of Flickr

Phone Talkin’ by Martin Cathrae of Flickr

WARNING: This article is chock-full of expert space-saving tips. Shhh. Don’t tell the other professional résumé writers I shared this.

You used to have a whopping seven to ten seconds to grab the attention of the reader and elicit an interview. Tracking studies of recent years suggest that you may only have six seconds, perhaps even less. Whether these studies are scientifically credible or not, my practical experience has taught me that the more time you can save the reader in making a decision about whether you make the short list of candidates or not,  the less friction there is between you and sliding into your next job.

The prime real estate of your résumé lives above the fold, in other words, what the reader can see on their computer screen before they have to scroll down. They most likely will take a few extra seconds to scroll down, check through the dates of your work history, and examine your education and training, but it is what they see first that determines if they scroll down with a perception of optimism or skepticism. Your mission throughout the qualification and interview process is to inspire the employer to be more focused on your value and contributions and less focused on any potential risks you pose.

Here is what you can do in the top fold of your resume to compel recruiters to put their hand on the phone to call you for an interview before they even realize they’re making the call.

 

Contact information

This may seem very obvious. Of course, you want your future employer to be able to know how to contact you after they excitedly see your resume and understand your value. You also need to know that your contact information should not be stored in a header. Very often, applicant tracking systems do not extract and store data from headers, footers, or tables.

Expert space-saving tips:

  • Fit all your contact information on one line.
  • You do not need to include your street address (unless you are filling out a government application that requires it). City, state, and zip are enough.
  • You do not need to identify a phone number as a phone number or email as an email.
  • If you have a very long LinkedIn URL (even after customizing it), use a link shortening tool like bit.ly.

 

What you want do

Let people know what you WANT to do. Employers will not assume that you are automatically going to be pursuing a title that was identical to your last position. In fact, if you were in your last role for three years or more, a company offering strong career development would more likely want to assume that you are ready for the next step. Do not make the reader invest time trying to figure out where you fit in their organization. It is true that titles can vary from company to company, so it is best to find a two to three word phrase that best describes the function, role, or contributions that you AIM to make. Only list your current title if you are hoping for a completely lateral move.

While this may seem obvious, the positions for which you are applying (or, preferably, for which you are getting recommended), have to correlate with the role you identify in your headline. If they do not correlate, you can either not expect a call back, or expect that when they do call back you will spend more time talking about what makes you think you can do this role, and less time on how successfully you can fill this role.

Expert space-saving tips:

Place your role at the very top of the résumé, perhaps even on the very top line across from your name, like below, rather than using an extra line in between your contact information and your summary. Once you identify this role, you can use the first few words of the summary to offer an alternate title, or an even more clever “Noun Action Verb” phrase* that visually depicts the impact you make. See the example under the next section.

* We offer mad-lib-like DIY content building tools for your summary, résumé, and LinkedIn profile.

resumeexample-05162016


Make sure you’re qualified

When you read job descriptions you can see very clearly, usually, how many years of experience an employer wants and what the required skills are needed to succeed in that job. Make sure they know right away that they are getting what they want. Quantify the years of experience that you have or the level of expertise that you possess in the top three to four skills that are required to be successful in the job you are pursuing.

Expert space-saving tips:

  • Start out with your overall years of experience, and if it is niched to particular industry you are pursuing, say that right away.

E.g. “Profit Optimizer offering 20+ years of pharmaceutical experience.”

  • When you mention your other skills in the summary, put them into the context of the value they have enabled you to offer throughout your career, and take it EVEN further by depicting the impact of that.

E.g. Utilize vast knowledge of hundreds of financial products to customize packages that meet very specific client needs and cultivate rapport and loyalty among the client base.

  • You may also want to include a list of three to twelve key skills associated with the job. Instead of tables, (which as I stated may not be stored in an applicant tracking systems) use columns.
  • Some people use functional breakdowns.

 

How you do it better/different

You can see from the example above that is very possible to use fewer words and yet paint a compelling picture of what it would look like to have you adding value versus any other equally qualified candidates. Additionally, you can assume that while candidates usually come to the table with a unique blend of experiences, they will not be interviewed if they do not meet the minimum qualifications. In order to move past them, you will need to sell a unique brand. You will receive interviews based on meeting qualifications, but you will receive offers based on how you mesh with the people and culture of the organization. Do not just say you do it better; let the reader know HOW you do it better. What is your unique approach, experience or perspective that enables you to deliver in a way others do not?

Expert space-saving tips:

  • Use words that will pack the most visual punch, and you will not have to use as many words. In a little less than two lines in the example above, we qualified this candidate as deeply knowledgeable about financial products, a required skill for the position.
  • We also DEMONSTRATED rather than STATED this candidate is customer-focused and that she maybe able to bring clients with her. Clichés have little meaning to the reader, but clients have great value!

 

Your most recent experience

Regardless of what components and sections you include above the fold, do not exceed the fold. Leave room to start your actual professional experience. Some recruiters will even tell you that they do not read your summary at all and to exclude it. That is because summaries are hardly ever compellingly written – TRUST ME. If you are adding value by branding yourself with this section, AND you are providing content that the recruiter can use to write the candidate marketing summary for their client, it is worth including. The point is, though, getting to the point. All of the space-saving tips above are meant to help you utilize as little prime real estate as possible while adding the most value.

The faster you can help the reader complete their agenda, the faster they can pick up the phone. Here are some bonus expert reader-friendliness tips:

  • Use a font of at least 10.5.
  • Do not overuse formatting enhancements (bold, italics, underline).
  • Some studies suggest that color in résumés attract the most attention and many other recruiters will tell you that the content is all they care about (unless you are a graphic designer).
  • For that reason, do not use pictures– they can visit your LinkedIn profile to see the person behind the résumé.
  • Put the company and city on one line, the title underneath, and put all dates along the right margin using columns (you may need to go to formatting settings to make sure that the columns are not of equal length and can be adjusted to accommodate longer company names/cities).
  • Start bullets all the way over at the left margin.
  • Do not use abbreviations, even for months.
  • Use numerals whenever possible, but strike a balance and put numbers into context of challenges and skills applied, as well as the impacts. People remember stories, not numbers.

 

E.g.

 

resumeexample-0516201602

[This is where a role/company summary would go, where you can explain your functions and save the bullets for achievements.]

 

Remember, if implementing these tips (while designed for the avid do-it-yourselfer) becomes a large investment of your time, consider allowing us to take over. These are not the only tricks up our sleeve. The sooner you get into your next job, the sooner you can bring in income, and our résumés have been known to maximize salary offers, so they are worth the investment.

 

Create a Vision that Pulls You Out of Bed

SteveJobsVision

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Envision your future:

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

 

The power of imagination:

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

 

A practical application of your vision:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Happy spring! Here’s to your new beginnings!

 

The 6 Best Time Hacks to Create More Fun and Success in Your Life

Procrastination by Ffaalumni of Flickr

Procrastination by Ffaalumni of Flickr

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if you had more time in the day to accomplish all of your tasks so you could enjoy life more often? Procrastination is one major roadblock to completing tasks. About 20% of adults reported being chronic procrastinators, while 95% of people admit to being occasional procrastinators. The causes of procrastination are complex and numerous. The time hacks shared here are a way to overcome procrastination and will allow you to accomplish the important tasks in your life, so you can spend more time doing the things you love. The weight of putting off important tasks robs you of energy as you stress over the inability to focus on completing those tasks.

  1. Micro-movements: Author Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, better known as SARK, coined the term in her book Make Your Creative Dreams Real. According to SARK, micro-movements are a way to break down overwhelming tasks into much smaller tasks that take as little as five seconds or up to five minutes. Breaking down a daunting task into smaller steps makes it easier to accomplish.

Author Allyson Lewis suggests a similar approach in her book, The Seven Minute Difference. Lewis argues that spending seven minutes on small actions, or micro-actions, can lead to amazing changes. In short, small movements serve as a way to accomplish large tasks bit by bit and to build momentum.

  1. Activation energy: Activation energy is a term Mel Robbins, an author and motivational speaker, described in her TED Talk. It is the force or effort required to switch from auto-pilot, driven by your habits, to doing something new so that you can create something new in your life. According to Robbins, change does not come naturally, so you must force yourself to change. It is taking action within five seconds of an impulse. If you do not act within five seconds, your mind ultimately “screws you,” and the motivation to do something is lost. By practicing the five-second rule and tapping into activation energy, you will discover the motivation to accomplish more tasks.
  1. Time expansion: Time expansion is completing the things that weigh on your mind, recur in your thoughts, and rob you of energy first. Many experts talk about the benefits of doing this first in order to raise your energy to complete the rest of your daily list. Completing unwanted tasks first make you more effective because this “energy vampire” will no longer intrude on your thoughts. Mark Twain famously referred to this action as “eating a frog.”
  1. Batching time: When you batch tasks together, you to get into a grove and accomplish more in less time. Batching time is a favorite method of author Tim Ferriss (The 4-Hour Work Week). Ferris also proposes that when we allocate less time to a task, we take less time to complete the task. The reverse is also true. An effective strategy is to give yourself an early deadline. For example, if you have a project due on Friday, make Thursday your personal deadline. Bill Walsh, America’s Small Business Coach, recommends you make a list of the ten things that will move you forward faster toward your goal every night to complete the next morning before 10 AM. This list consists of strategic (important, non-urgent) items. Then wake up as early as needed to complete these ten items before 10 AM.
  1. The Four Quadrants of Time Management: Stephen Covey, a self-help and business literature author, famous for his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, introduced the idea of using four quadrants to determine the priority of a task. The tasks within the quadrant allow you to determine if a task needs to be completed immediately or scheduled for later. The quadrants allow you to question if doing an activity will bring you closer to your goals and how to prioritize your time.
Stephen Covey's Four Quadrants of Time Management

Stephen Covey’s Four Quadrants of Time Management

  1. Our Time and Resource Allocation Tool: There is a saying in corporate America—you can’t manage what you can’t measure; you can’t measure what you don’t track. You might have heard to treat your job search like your job, which some people interpret to mean wake up at the same time as your work day and search for 40 hours per week, but that is not really the best application of that advice. How we advise you to apply that advice it is to make sure that your performance is producing results. Manage your time to become increasingly efficient because once you start to build momentum, you are busy meeting with more people who are able to open doors of opportunity. There are a lot of people and follow up actions you will want to stay on top of to maintain and leverage that momentum.

The Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule) is a theory maintaining that 80% of the output from a given system is determined by 20% of the input. This principle is always at work, and we have found it true with job searches as well. 80% of job seekers are spending 80% of their time on the resources that produce 20% of the results, IF THAT! Our tool helps you flip the results so that you spend 80% of your time on the resources that produce 80% of the results. Not only are job seekers who use our tool producing better momentum, they are cutting their “job search work week” down, enjoying more of their time, which as a by-product actually helps steamroll momentum even further. Within two weeks of learning how to use the tool, they are realizing much better time management and starting to form better habits. Their confidence soars, they feel more in control of their destiny, they perform better in interviews, they can afford to hold out for the RIGHT offer, and feel bold enough to negotiate an even higher offer.

 

Just imagine what overcoming procrastination and effectively managing your time looks like. It is a sense of accomplishment, a feeling that you have done enough, that you are successful enough to allow yourself to REALLY enjoy your life. The truth is we are never really DONE with our to-dos. However, time hacks help manage the most significant tasks, so they do not completely absorb your time and energy, allowing you more room for joy and fun.

 

60 Minutes to a LinkedIn Profile That Gets You Interviews

Passe partout by Wies Van Erp of Flickr

Passe partout by Wies Van Erp of Flickr

You are ready to land your next job, you know what you want from your next employer, and your résumé is polished to a shine. Before you venture out, or continue your great job seeking adventure, take a moment to review your LinkedIn profile. Are you getting the results you want? Do you receive messages from recruiters, and introductions to VIPs? Or has you inbox been quiet?  By now, I am assuming you know the importance of having a LinkedIn profile if you are job-seeking.

According to the 2014 Jobvite survey, over 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn when searching for job candidates. In part of an interview for my Philadelphia Magazine article, Jennifer Ghazzouli, QVC Director of Global Talent revealed that her hiring staff heavily relies on LinkedIn to discover talent. Given the heavy emphasis on LinkedIn by hiring managers, a powerfully-branded profile puts a wide gap between you and your competitors for jobs. Evaluate your LinkedIn profile again. If you have not been seeing the great results you want in your job search, it may be time to overhaul your profile.

In her Muse article, “How to Get Your LinkedIn Profile Ready for Your Job Search in 30 Minutes” Jenny Foss created a fantastic LinkedIn profile creation guide. Having your profile up and running is a great first step. However, if you want recruiters to call you first and excitedly invite you to an interview, then take another 30 minutes to further customize your content for your target audience.

Here is how to get your LinkedIn profile up and running and ready to attract employers. (A quick note: If you need further help with creating your LinkedIn profile, we have the tools to help. Our LinkedIn Profile Builder will guide you through creating a powerfully-branded profile that enables you to land twice as fast.)

 

Change your headline

The LinkedIn headline is automatically created when you enter your job title.  A customized headline grabs the attention of employers, recruiters, and anyone else who views your profile. An effective headline depicts the function, or role of your job, instead of the title. A job title is the name of position, while a function explains your daily tasks and activities for a position. A great headline helps employers see how you will fit into their company. In my article, “Increase Views: Ditch the Default LinkedIn Headline” I go into depth on how to create an attention-grabbing headline.

 

Use the summary section to shine

Far too many people use LinkedIn’s summary section to create a carbon copy of their résumé, when it is so much more. An effective summary tells the audience your story and is an opportunity to brand yourself. You have 2000 characters to illustrate your professional life and to sell your value to potential employers. A good headline hooks an employer, but your summary is what reels them in. The summary is also an area where keywords are listed to attract employers. Employers and recruiters often use keywords to search for talent. By including keywords relevant to your industry, it makes you easier to be found. That said, it is possible to use keywords incorrectly.

Also avoid using clichés in your summary, as these words are uninteresting and overused. Are any of these 10 words found within your summary? These words are so common that they mean very little to recruiters who read them day in and day out. Anyone can list them, but those who can prove they have these qualities are the ones who obtain the interview, or land the job. Any time you find yourself wanting to write one of these words, or any subjective adjective, ask yourself, “How would I prove this, and how do these words translate into value for an employer?” Instead, use more specifics and demonstrate them, rather than stating qualities.

 

Update your skills

Skills are a list of your talents and your hard skills. LinkedIn allows you to list 50 skills. Employers can view them at a glance to see how your qualifications match up with an open position. Additionally, skills are also another way to list keywords and to increase your chances of being found by an employer. Place the skills most vital to your position at the top of the list. Once you have your vital skills listed first, politely ask your connections to endorse your skills. Remember to also do the same for them.

 

Fill in the small details

The visual aspects of your LinkedIn profile have a big impact on how you are perceived by employers. Did you upload a photo? The lack of a photo is a turn off because employers or recruiters may ask “what are they hiding?” This is especially true for recruiters who want to submit candidates who present themselves professionally to hiring managers. Display your professional image. If you are self-conscious about your appearance for your age, invest in a photo shoot with a professional photographer and a make-up artist who will bring out your best features. If you are on a budget, you can still find a friend willing to donate their time and talent. Man or woman, you can visit make-up counters at department stores. The perception is that if you do not put your best foot forward online, you cannot put your best foot forward at an interview, or on the job.

LinkedIn is a professional social network, so use a professional photo. About Careers has great tips on how to take and choose a professional photo. A few things to keep in mind are that backgrounds should not be distracting. Your wardrobe needs to be business formal, not wedding formal. Lighting is complimentary, not halogen office lighting, or lamp lighting from a party scene. Do not include alcohol, unless you work in the beverage industry.

Also consider adding multimedia to your summary to further stand out from your competition, and to give your accomplishments some visual flair. In addition to talking about your accomplishments, you can provide your audience with specific examples. Such examples could include a picture of yourself in action on the job, slide decks of presentations you have given, video, audio, and your portfolio.

Take a minute to customize your URL. A custom URL is easy to remember and makes it easier to publicize your profile. Update your status once or twice a day with articles relevant to your industry. This shows employers you take a keen interest in your industry and that you are willing to share news and information. Go a step further and list your personal website or blog (unless they are irrelevant to your industry). Also make sure to add all social media profiles (that are of a professional caliber) to your contact information.

 

Action to take after customizing your profile

Once your LinkedIn profile is complete, consider participating in a few activities while using the service. The Social Media Hat contributor Mike Allton has created an extensive free resource that covers the features, benefits, and activities that make a huge difference in your visibility and lead generation on LinkedIn. Also try our 7 Day LinkedIn challenge. Our challenge is a way to identify and research potential employers, to make new connections, and to expand and strengthen your network.

 

Creating and maintaining a powerfully-branded LinkedIn profile increases the chances of landing your next job faster. LinkedIn is the go-to source for the majority of recruiters and employers. Having a profile that illustrates your brand and demonstrates your value allows you to stand out from the job-seeking crowd. If you have started your job search or are in the middle of a job search, updating and polishing your LinkedIn profile is the best way to give your search a boost.

 

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

Thank You Notes Greeting Card Set - LilyWhitesParty of Flickr

Thank You Notes Greeting Card Set – LilyWhitesParty of Flickr

 

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

 

Why the follow-up counts

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

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

 

A follow-up can become a later opportunity

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

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

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

 

Customize your follow-up for multiple interviews

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

 

If there is silence after an interview

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

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

 

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