Wednesday, December 30, 2009
On the half full side, I started Notes From the Job Search. I've met some amazing people! I have my first paying customer as a career coach, roughly 90 people on my mailing list, many of whom choose to remain on the list after going back to work. This blog is up and running! (Thank you to my 23 stalkers! :)
I've also been given some amazing help. Col Bob Jackson (USAF Ret) has been instrumental. He has a resume building process that is extraordinary and that he has shared with NFJS. Using his system as a key component, we now know how to help people create custom resumes very quickly and directly connected to opportunities. Kevin McClintic has been the unofficial sales manager for NFJS and been tireless in letting people know about the groups and the blog and how we can support each other. Shari Fox was an enormous help early in this process keeping us grounded in the realities of the hiring process and focused on how people can negotiate that. Gayle Rose has been terrific in sharing leads and ideas. When she's gone to trainings, she has been most gracious in sharing. Monica Cavagnaro for her eagerness to share. Stacia Polhonka and her willingness to be an example. Mike Montgomery for his the same reasons. Kerrie Schurr shared her training in "Dependable Strengths" which strongly reinforced where we are going with resume's. My brother Mike Paul, who has now joined me as part of the NFJS team. He has been incredibly generous with his time and ideas. His experience with Networking is a paradigm in how to make this work.
Matt Youngquist for his encouragement -- and one of the best blogs out there on job search and career success!
So we could surely look at the problems and declare the glass half empty, but there is just too much good that is going on to get stuck there. So goodbye to 2009, it's been a very good year, 2010 is looking even better!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
The result of posting an opportunity is that the recruiter will be bombarded with resumes. It has become common for me to be told that as many as 1,000 resumes can be submitted to a single posting. So when I say that a recruiter can be bombarded, that is really close to what they experience. And honestly, no one can review 1,000 resumes and no company wants them to.
For smaller companies that do things manually, the person will start at the top of the pile and go through resume’s until they find some pre-determined number of resumes that might be good fits, then files the rest and deals with the selected ones. Maybe it’s 50, maybe as much as 100, it’s just very hard to imagine the number getting much bigger than that. So lots of resumes aren’t even reviewed. Frequently not even logged in.
Larger organizations use some kind of software that allows them to do “key word” searches. A key word that is popular currently in IT is “Scrum”. It’s a development project management methodology. So the recruiter has all of the resumes entered into a database then scans them for “Scrum”. If your resume doesn’t use that word, then it is eliminated. If the number of resume’s left after this is too large, then the recruiter will add some other word, perhaps it will be C#. Still too many? Check to see if Scrum appears two or more times, check if C# appears more than two times, then three, etc.
There is almost no chance a human will look at more than 50 resumes for an opening. Even then, the first human scan will probably take less than 10 seconds, probably closer to 3. The recruiter will now have 20 to 25 resumes that are read in any kind of depth at all. Their job is to deliver between 3 and 10 resumes to a hiring influence. Worst case scenario, has 10 screening interviews extracted from 1000 resumes submitted. That is a 1% chance of a screening interview, let alone an interview for a job.
The result of this maze, from the applicant’s point of view is that resume needs to be built specifically for the opportunity. What are the key words? What is the emphasis? What is the required experience? Assuming you have them, then they have to be on the resume the way the job description describes them.
I am painting a couple of worst case scenarios here, that’s true and there certainly are exceptions. There are companies that commit to reviewing every resume, and there are recruiters that commit to that as well. Unfortunately, it is way too common for the scenario's I'm describing to be real, so even if your resume isn’t going through half of these hoops, and even if the number of resumes submitted is only 100, the resume itself must be prepared.
Monday, December 7, 2009
What makes writing a resume such a tough problem? Heck, there is a whole industry built up around writing them and it’s easy to spend 2 or 3 thousand dollars on one. Is that a good use of money?
The answer is tied up in the other end of the process, specifically the recruitment process. What does the hiring company go through in order to hire a new employee?
The hiring process works best for the potential employer at the same time it works best for the potential employee: When a potential opening and a potential employee meet up before HR gets involved. Sorry HR folks, but it does. The hiring influence and the job seeker talk about the problems that need to be solved, the job seeker is identified as compatible through mutual experience and common friends and interests, the quality of the work can be reviewed based on relevant criteria.
Bringing HR into the process requires that a fundamentally subjective process become objective. Step one is a “job description”. My background is IT and in IT terms, that is a “solution” or a “specification”. Solutions that are separated from problems probably represent the largest number of failed projects in IT and that is what’s required when hiring is turned over to HR. HR has a specification and then does it’s level best to fill it. They interview the hiring influence, get that person’s best guess as to what they need, translate into a series of questions, etc. etc. In the end they have a rigid set of criteria, questions with a rigid set of answers.
The reason for all of the time worked on resume’s is to negotiate that rigid path… In competition with some ridiculous number of other people doing the same thing. The resume is the first step down that path.
Monday, November 30, 2009
As near as I can tell, all of us have lots of strengths. I have certainly met people who didn’t recognize theirs, but they still had strengths. Equally, pretty much all of us have a wide variety of skills, unfortunately, these have a habit of becoming outdated, so it’s easy to feel like we don’t have much to offer, or what we have to offer isn’t what people are willing to pay for. So how do we build from current to future, using our strengths as a guide? How do we avoid being sidetracked, yet continue to move in a direction that keeps us employable?
The premise here is that in order to identify the ongoing strengths that we want to depend on, that we want to be hired to use, we need to look at our work history and our successes. As we identify those successes and identify the patterns of success, we also identify our “brand”. This allows us to recreate our resumes, profiles etc to emphasize what we are passionate about. This allows us to look at jobs where we will be able to build on our strengths. It also helps us understand the idea that we are creating a partnership with a potential employer.
Let’s face it, we all want a job where we can pretty much guarantee success, where we normally create high expectations that we then exceed. It’s just fun to do. The key is knowing enough about our own strengths and skills so we apply for work that fits that profile. Understanding and documenting a brand that allows us to focus our search and get the job we want.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
One woman who has been a participant started out completely desperate for work. While coming to NFJS we helped her articulate what her dream job was and how to accomplish it: Creating an Art School. Eventually her desperation won out (or so we thought) and she took an admin job for the Feds. Within one month, she quit, rented some space and started her school. It’s been about a month since I’ve heard from her, but at that point, she had four classes going and was paying herself enough to stay afloat. It took her about four months to create her dream job at a level that supports her minimum requirements. She won’t buy a BMW this year, but then she doesn’t want one. What she wants is to teach art, and what she’s doing is teaching art. For her this is the “best of times”.
Another member of NFJS came to us looking for manual testing contract at Microsoft, testing hardware or software and complaining about how Microsoft has cut the compensation for contractors. This man did his homework while with us and developed a much better understanding of his own experience, his capabilities and his passions. What he got was an FTE position for AT&T at about 1/5th more than he thought he would be able to ask for as a contractor and doing precisely what he wanted: Leading a team doing automated hardware and software testing of devices.
The point of these two stories is to recognize that we have opportunities in spite of what we might read or hear. It always requires work to become what we want to become, but if we can articulate it and the steps necessary completely, if we can imagine it and the steps to get there completely, then we can do it. For most purposes, we get to choose if this is “the best of times” or “the worst of times”. Creating “the best of times” is hard work, but so is creating “the worst of times”.
Amazingly, the Green Bean Coffee house has been resurrected! Wayward Coffee House has been a great answer for the last month, Thank you, thank you Wayward Coffee House!
The Green Bean is now housed in the “Sip N Ship” on Greenwood Ave. 8560 Greenwood Ave N. Being back at the Bean will be great.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Living Life Opportunities Speaking of parts of the job search that are really on-going, networking is a process that requires continuous nurturing. Fortunately, it’s also a completely normal, integral part of our lives. At least two of the members of NFJS have gone back to work through contacts developed in their children’s sports. They weren’t doing something strange, like shouting “I NEED A JOB”. They were volunteering, being themselves and consistently providing the kind of quality that is their norm. They also worked on their elevator pitch hard enough so that when someone asked what they are doing, they responded easily and naturally with the pitch. Sooner or later conversations about work led to understanding, combined with watching how these people conduct themselves as volunteers and “voila” a job offer materialized.
Networking Opportunities There are also times when we have specific opportunities to meet people who might be especially important in our search. These are “networking” opportunities. Maybe it’s a Job Search Social, or maybe it’s a Job Fair. Who we are isn’t going to change, and what we’re looking for isn’t changing. These events may seem to be pretty artificial and when you meet someone there, it is difficult to develop a lot of enthusiasm for them. We don’t really know them, and we don’t really understand what they are doing, or the quality of it. So it’s easy to dismiss these as quixotic – a waste of time.
They don’t have to be though. In order to make one of these events useful, the key is focus on yourself, what you bring; then, how well you follow up.
For instance, there’s a local job fair you see advertised for next week. Preparation includes investigating the firms being advertised as participating. Do they recruit for your industry? If not, then don’t go. If they do, then do they ever have openings for someone with yours skill set? It’s a job fair, then it better be a current opening, or don’t waste your time. If it’s a job social, then current is good, but go either way. Job fairs are a grind, what you want is the card of the person recruiting for your position. It allows you to follow up and separate yourself from the stack they got at the fair. Job socials are better, but the goal is still the card of someone who will be recruiting for your position.
Follow Through What you have now is an opportunity to create a relationship with someone who might be able to help. If there is a current position, then start with an email, then follow up with snail mail. Include in your initial communications an invite to meet and a time when you’ll follow up. Something like, “I appreciated meeting you at the job social last night and would love to follow up in a less frenzied atmosphere. I’ll call you Thursday morning to set up a time for a brief meeting.” Do some more research on the company and then call Thursday Morning.
I understand that this kind of socializing is hard. It’s hard for me too, but the job social/fair isn’t a time when you can get the other person’s undivided attention, nor can you give them yours. Finding a way to represent yourself as you are is your real goal. It’s also an opportunity we won’t get without asking. We may not get it then either, but we at least have a chance this way.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Until further notice, the Wednesday Meeting of Notes from the Job Search will be meeting at the Wayward Coffeehouse Around the corner and half a block further north. (8570 Greenwood Ave N).
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I distinguish between good sales and bad sales. “Good sales” is when we identify real problems and offer a solution that addresses it successfully. We’ve all experienced it, and we tend to remember the person or people that helped us with it. It’s amazing how many processes look like this, for example: In IT, a good job of analysis and development fits. It is also what we’re doing in job search.
A tool I use to organize this process is “OGOOALS”.
OGOOALS system for thinking about job search (and sales)
Orientation: “Hi, How are you” portion. Very short, especially the first time you meet. Standard pleasantries… you know the things, weather, Mariners, Seahawks, stuff like this. Meaningless, mostly used to initiate the conversation and cover the ourselves as we measure each other physically
Gather: Asking about the company, the job, the environment, the tools, etc. This is the meat of the time and the meat of your approach. Orientation only happens in person, Gather starts way before you meet. It’s reading the job description, the web page, etc. The purpose is to find out what problem is being solved. Are they expanding? Did they just fire someone? Are they changing direction? Why are they looking?
Offer a solution: Once you understand the problem, look at your history and provide a way to solve the problem based on your experience and your strengths. If they advertised for a Java developer, but the problem is a poorly designed web page, address the Java, but focus on the problem. What of your strengths will allow you to redesign this web page so that it solves whatever problem it was intended for.
Offer proof: You proposed a solution, now show them proof that you can implement the solution. What in your work history qualifies you to do this? How can they be certain that you are the one who really can implement this solution.
Ask for the sale: “I would love to work here, what’s the next step in that process?” or “I would love to be the person that tackles this problem for you. What needs to happen for that to occur?” Then listen. Let them tell you how to move forward. Wait. If they need to think their answer through, respect that silence.
Leave the premises. You know you have the job or you know the next step, so say “Thank you” , and leave. Don’t ask about the wife/husband or the Mariners or the weather. The interview is complete, Leave.
Send a thank you note. Hand written. Email works as an add-on, but the hand written is what counts. If you can walk it in, do so. It’s another touch. People are hired, not resume’s and not skill sets, so as you become more of a person, you are more likely to be hired.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Early in NFJS one of our groups had 3 high level IT folks. All of us had been in IT for a while, we had managed teams and all of us have experienced success with projects. At the simplest level, it would be very easy to see us as competitors. When you dig just a bit deeper, we all have very different strengths that have led to our success, and each of us has a very different focus going forward. The key to each of our brands are those strengths. My brand is focused on my team building and moving a team forward to complete projects, “D” is exceptional at developing solutions to problems that seem intractable, “V” will bring a focus on communication between the various stakeholders.
The marketing folks tell us that a brand starts by looking at a product from the customer’s point of view. Looking at the skill sets of the three program managers this suggests each of us should think about the problem a company is trying to solve that will give us that ideal opportunity. I’m the guy when a team has become rudderless, or is experiencing conflict. “D” will be the person for a situation with serious technical problems and “V” will be a great choice for a company that wants to focus on understanding between its users and its development team. Each of us needs to build our brand around these problems, and if we find ourselves competing for a position, we should look a lot deeper into the problem the company hiring us is trying to address.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
• Definition: Targeted (around career) making of friends.
• When: Throughout our careers. While we are working may be more important than when looking. That's when the foundation is laid.
• Where: Pretty much everywhere. Sometimes it's about handing out a business card, sometimes not, it is pretty much always about getting names and following up
---- Note that the purpose of a business card is at least as much about getting theirs as it is giving ours. It allows us to initiate the follow up. -----
• Who: People connected with our profession and the businesses that might employ people like us.
In simple terms, we network pretty much everywhere and all the time. It's not about becoming somehow different, but about being ourselves. The hard part is emotional, not skill or technique, it requires that we start things and we follow up. Someone compared it to being a high school boy asking for a 1st date and it's apt. The risk though is pretty much all in our heads and somehow, we still need to drive through. We need to remember that as hard as it was for the boy who did ask, he had a date that weekend, the boy who didn't ask, didn't.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
· Use bullets,
· Start each bullet with one or more active verbs
· Leave lots of white space
· Use numerals unless there is some specific reason to use the number names
· Use your spell checker
Others have added unknown billions of bytes about what to say as well. Frequently they recommend that each job being applied for requires a different resume. When we look at a job description, we should line our experience up with their requirements then submit this unique resume.
At Notes From the Job Search we agree with most of that, but we also recognize that it’s much easier said than done. Who has the time to rewrite their resume 3 or 4 times a week? Who remembers all that stuff we did 5 or 10 years ago? If I tell someone that I wrote an inventory system for a company that maintained inventory for about 100 smaller companies, do I also tell them it was in Cobol? That I did it 15 years ago? How about the fact that it was for a logging company?
One of the volunteers at NFJS is Bob Jackson (Colonel, USAF ret) and he came up with a process for making those individualized resume’s possible. It starts by separating the resume build process from the application process, so when an interesting opportunity surfaces, we’re ready. It’s still a challenging process and takes time. First to figure out what to include, then to figure out how to phrase it, then to figure out what to extract for a specific opportunity.
So what is this magic process?
· Create a resume database including: everything.
· Phrase accomplishments such they can be cut and pasted into a new resume.
· Include all of your recommendations
· Cherry pick the good stuff out of evaluations
· Write short (2 line max) descriptions of jobs held.
· Focus on what you did, not what you did it on. (in the example above, what I did was write the “inventory system”, what I did it on was “logging”)
The place to start is a simple chronological list of jobs you’ve had. If you are just entering the job market, then add an entry for every year of school from your freshman year in high school.
Next take your resume as it stands now and cut and past them into the list aligned with the job where they took place.
Add the stuff back in that you took out because it happened too long ago.
Add all of the recommendations you’ve received. If they are in hard copy, type them in.
There are people who can do this without a support system, Bob did it that way, but most of us need someone to check in with and compare notes with, so if you’re in the Seattle area, check out the NFJS schedule and join us. If you are outside the area, find some kind of support system. Maybe just a friend you can get together with every week, maybe it’s your spouse, maybe it’s a support group like NFJS, but getting support is very important. Perhaps the best part is the mutual re-enforcement, but there are amazing numbers of benefits.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
o Short 30 seconds
o Part A, what are you looking for
o Part B, What makes you special (with specifics)
Key is to focus on your audience and to think out expectations before starting
o The neighborhood block party has one presentation
o A corporate CEO has a different presentation
o Core elements need to remain -- the brand is still the brand
When describing your history, describe what you did, not what you did it on.
o Your job in the Army was "Supply Officer". What you did your work on would be scheduling trucks and truck drivers and munitions and rations.
o What you did was work task breakdown, schedule coordination, critical path analysis...
Be specific about your role (thinking of what you did, not what you did it on) the example above might include:
o Trained and Managed crew of 24 working round the clock under adverse conditions
o Designed, wrote and implemented policies that provided for the safety of full crew
It needs to be developed with the audience in mind and it changes based on the audience
It does not answer all questions, better if it generates questions/discussion
In other words, our "brand" is always our "brand" but it can be expressed lots of ways.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The point of view is pretty easy to state: All of our job search materials will be informed by the statement, “How does this appear from the point of view of a hiring manager?”
The curricula will include work on:
· Elevator pitch
· Networking sites
Next post will be Elevator Pitch
Monday, July 6, 2009
Simply stated, it's engaging others in your job search: Getting other people (your friends, family and associates) to be your eyes and ears, to be your advertising campaign. We all understand the definition, unfortunately, "understanding" is different than actually doing it.
What are the tools of networking? There is no definitive list, and there is no limit. One friend of mine moved the needle a lot. When she found out she was going to be laid off, before she left work for the last time, she found all of the people she had shared the elevator with over the previous 10 years and let them know her change in status and engaged them in her search.
A partial list of networking tools includes:
· An elevator pitch – 30 second description of what you are looking for and what you bring that is special, what you bring that adds value to a prospective employer.
· Interviews for Information
· Social Networking sites
o LinkedIn – this is probably the most important tool in this category.
o Plaxo, Biznik, Spoke, etc. These are also business oriented internet networking sites. Each has value and is worth considering
· Affinity groups (professional organizations, church groups, soccer team, workout locations, etc). This is any group you spend time with that you aren’t being paid for. Your best ones are the ones you spent time with before you started looking for a new job.
· Volunteer work
In other words, your primary network is everyone you know. Your secondary network is everyone they know.
Social Networking sites are ways to document your network, mine your network for opportunities and facilitate ongoing communication.
Your “elevator pitch” is your intro to new people and a way to update people you know. An “Interview for Information” is a tool to find deep knowledge about a profession or a company or a particular stage in a profession or maybe just more about an individual; it can have the consequence of moving someone from your secondary network to your primary network, and that is normally one of the goals.
Given the simple number of places to spend time (including the myriad of job boards etc.) one of the great challenges in job search is spending time efficiently and effectively. So while every contact is networking, it is necessary to evaluate your networking time for usefulness. I’m not suggesting that you stop spending time with your in-laws, or that you only spend time with them as it relates to job search, I am suggesting you are honest with them regarding your situation (update them with your elevator pitch) and that you make time for the former boss you haven’t seen in the last few years, but that you enjoyed when you worked for him/her.
There is an especially important question to ask with every contact, “Who else should I talk to?” Write down the name and contact info you are given, then follow up. If you get the opportunity to meet, the meeting is an Interview for Information and at the end, you should have an additional member of your primary network.
One last thought: Always thank the people that help.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Some things that seem sure:
· Be complete. Fill out the whole thing, including a good picture. If you need to have a pro take the photo, do it.
· In the “current” field, be honest. If what you are doing is volunteer work, put it down. If you left your last gig 4 months ago, be honest. It will be noted and you are not fooling anyone.
· Connect with everyone that seems appropriate. Becoming a Linkedin ”lion” is great for the Marketing Manager, but if you are a developer, then 1000 plus connections is probably not a good idea. Everyone does have more than 25 real connections and most of us can break over 100 while including only people we really do know.
· Recommend folks that you believe in and ask them for recommendations in return. Recommending others extends your visibility and being recommended provides you with credibility. Both need to be honest and both are important.
· Your connections are your network. If you have connected with people that you are comfortable forwarding an introduction for, then you can assume they feel the same. Understanding that you can’t recommend everyone on the list, you are not asking that of them. You are asking what you are willing to give.
A couple of great sites for volunteering: WWW.idealist.org and www.volunteermatch.org.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
· Job Boards
· Bots/RSS feeds
· Social Networking sites
· Web pages
There are more than a hundred job boards, a few that are worth special note:
· Dice (especially for tech jobs)
bots of note:
Social Networking sites
Obviously there are lots more in all categories. The question is how to be efficient and how to use the tools effectively. In particular, how can you use them to drive networking? The bots and feeds are key to efficiency. They allow you to set up a search of the boards that runs automatically and gives you a daily feed of opportunities. Once you have that, the social networking sites are the tool of choice with Linkedin being the most important. Linkedin is designed to be a business focused social networking site. As you set it up for yourself, this business focus becomes totally apparent. It all but requires an historical resume, and it doesn’t have nearly the friend focus that Facebook or Myspace has. I’m don’t believe you even can enter a slideshow/gallery. What it does provide is a bunch of ways to connect with folks. The key is their search We explored a few. Most notably how to find someone you know or can be introduced to in a company you are interested in. It's also a tool that rewards exploration, so fuss with it and you'll find multiple ways to do pretty much everything. :)
It’s easy at this point to ignore Facebook etc. but your friends are the people who know you and want to help, so the rest of the social networking sites should be on the list. I know that my cousin who lives in Bolivia won’t be much help, neither will the one in Melbourne, but my niece who works for the Downtown YMCA here in Seattle could very well be. The point is our networks need to extend as far as possible, and while there will be lots of folks that can’t/won’t help, our success will be from the person that does.
I’ll work on Web Pages next entry.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
What is Notes from the Job Search (NFJS)? Obviously, it's a blog, but mostly, it's peer support groups for professionals seeking work. Currently there is a group meeting in West Seattle and one in North Seattle. The qualifications for joining are: You are looking for work and you need a resume to get the job you want. That's the list. Well coming counts too. :)
We focus on what's working for us and our strengths as people, beyond that our agenda is:
> A high from the week and your elevator pitch
> A work item
> Goals for the week and feedback on the mtg
The work items are iterative:
> Elevator Pitch
> Strengths identification (based on Now Discover your Strengths)
> Online Tools
---- Job Boards (and programmable bots such as http://www.indeed.com/)
---- Networking sites (focus is LinkedIn)
---- Interviewing for information
---- Screening interviews
---- Job interviews
All of the above get very specific and include questions to ask and ways to answer, how to figure out what clothes are appropriate, etc.
- Job Fairs
- Job Socials
- Friends and neighbors
The premise is that collectively, we as job seekers know more about job search than pretty much anyone. Not to dismiss the many books and online tools etc, just to acknowledge it’s more important to us. We’re the ones that need to do it and as such the ones who know what’s working today. All of our work is collaborative, while NJS leads these discussions and frequently will provide resources to help people in the group bet started, we work as a group. We share leads, we share our networks and we share knowledge.
So that’s Notes from the Job Search.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I got there early, which seemed to be a pretty good strategy as it gave me an opportunity to identify the recruiters and chat with a couple in a non-pressured way. Find out what they were looking for and how their businesses were doing.
In the end, I went away thinking that expectations and goals were the critical element in getting value from the social. From the job fairs as well.
From a strategy point of view, finding a time when a conversation can be had with a recruiter has to be the goal. I’m going to guess that very few people were hired from the job fair I went to. Too many folks! The recruiters didn’t have a chance to even screen, let alone evaluate. The job social had ebbs and flows. Getting there early was useful. I didn’t stay late, but it might have had opportunities as well. Being fashionably late would eliminate the opportunity for value…. At least as far as the recruiters is concerned.
Which leads to another possible set of goals for the social and that’s networking. Just meeting others on the job search. Connecting with them and developing enough of a relationship to reduce our isolation. Maybe it’s getting their card at the social and following up. Maybe it’s migrating the conversation out of the social. Whatever it is, we all need to understand our own competence and a very important part of that is the reflection we see when we meet others going through this craziness called a job hunt. Increasing your network has so many benefits, it’s just amazing. My current understanding of the job market is that something like 3/4s of all hires come through networking. My guess is that when we talk about good fits, jobs we want to keep for a long time, then the number is much higher.
Back to the “mixer” metaphor, when I went to those, on a good night, I would make a few friends. Some of those might become more, but it sure didn’t happen at the mixer, it happened because of the follow up.
Friday, May 15, 2009
The Job Search Social is a straight networking gig, that I've been hearing about. They schedule something every month. At a minimum it's a chance to connect with other professionals, increasing your network. Bring business cards.
C & P coffee is where the West Seattle Pink Slips meet, and is the 2nd group bing led by Notes from the Job Search. So it's an additional chance every week to work on job search skills as well as another chance to increase the size of your network. Besides they sell great coffee. :)
Monday, May 11, 2009
Most of the fear is hype. We personally need to be prudent and we need to be skeptical, but we do not need to be especially frightened by this. We live in a capitalist country and world, and one of the first rules of capitalism is “Caveat emptor”…. Let the buyer beware. If it seems to be too good to be true, then it is. Many of the scams floating around the net are just about as old as the net. We have all been offered opportunities by “African Generals” to make lots of money if we just send them quite a bit of money now. I first saw this scam in the early 90’s and while it’s changed from country to country and I recall it as an Asian prince and a South American family, it’s always been the same offer, send X dollars now and it will allow us to withdraw our fortune from some bank and we will pay you 10X dollars back in 6 months. What I have never heard of is someone actually getting 10X dollars, or even X dollars returned. Then of course there are offers to refinance your mortgage and jobs that will pay you 6 figures for 3 hours a day at home and….
The key to all of these is that we need to respond. Don’t respond and you are not at risk. Phishing is a bit more subtle, but has the same defense: Your “bank” asks you to “confirm” your credit card number or social security number or something else, just so they can verify their records. Don’t respond. Companies you have a relationship with (your bank, your credit card company, etc ) already have the information they need. They do not now, never have and never will send you an email asking you to “confirm”.
Years ago, I was IT Director at a company and there was a virus being sent out in a picture of a popular tennis star. One of the Department heads in this company opened it and it took roughly 200 staff hours to un-infect all of the computers that it impacted. This “picture” came to him from an unknown email address, to his business email. If it wasn’t infected, it would have been inappropriate, and clearly unsafe. In fact he knew better. He was very publicly humiliated and he put his company and job at risk because his fingers moved faster than his brain. He wasn’t safe because he didn’t apply “let the buyer beware”. This is a man that would never buy a used car without having it checked out first, he just didn’t think it applied on the internet. It does.
Of course there are still risks, so keep your anti-virus software current, use the firewall(s) that you have. When you set up Facebook, set your privacy settings to only allow established “friends & family” to have full view, same thing with Linkedin. On Monster you can set it up similarly, although I’ve forgotten what they call these settings. Think of all of these services as parts of your house. We are all more than happy to allow others to see the outside of our house, we are very selective about who we invite in.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
In other words, research is finding out stuff we don't currently know in a focused, disciplined way. For those of us looking for work, it's our life blood.
We all know that the job boards are less than rewarding route for getting interviews, at least in today's economy, so what's our alternative? That's what and why we research. A couple of tools that are important in this are http://www.indeed.com/ and Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts?hl=en ).
Indeed allows you to search a ton of job boards without spending 12 hours a day. I know, I know, I just said that job boards aren't the answer, but they are due diligence, and they are a constant source of information. It is very possible to find something where you do have a connection, and that connection will help you get to the interview, and something more than 25% of the people being hired, do go through job boards, so they count. Indeed is a tool for this to be an efficient process.
So what do you have Indeed search for? A particular job title? maybe. How about a company? That might work as well. How about using a key word search? That’s my suggestion. For example: I’m looking for a job as the Director of IT for a moderately sized company, say 500+/- employees. What my search is set up for is “information systems” and “information technology” (with quotes) and within 25 miles of zip code 98117. The reason is that there are at least a dozen titles that translate to Director of IT, but pretty much all of them will have one of those two phrases written out in them. I was sent two emails this morning that in combination identified 63 new jobs posted that fit my criteria. Of those, at least 60 don’t matter to me, but a few do. Today there was a position titled: “Data Center Operations Lead”, a title I never would have thought of, but which I do want to investigate.
The question becomes what would you look up that will point you to relevant opportunities? What word or phrase will highlight potential opportunities for you?
Now for something that is even less direct, but has more potential. Google Alerts . There’s an earlier post on Google Alerts, Adam Green commented on it and added a URL to his Google Alerts tutorial.
Google Alerts searches the web for new posts that meet the criteria you set up. The key question you need to establish criteria for your search is having enough stuff to make it useful, but not so much that nothing is found. Think of it as a google search run every day for new stuff based on your criteria. For example, if I search for my name, “Steve Paul”, I get almost 100,000 hits. If I add Seattle, it’s down to 2600, add 98117 and it’s down to 19 hits, all of them about a local divorce attorney (not me). Using “Stephen Paul” Seattle 98117 – I get 117 and several are about me.
My point is that using google alerts is likely to be a bit of a trial and error process. It is very easy to be overwhelmed, so as too much info comes in be prepared to cut back and modify until there is a useful result.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
As previously mentioned, we have a weekly group that meets every Wednesday (3:00 at the Green Bean coffee shop). One of the participants came in a week ago with report of a phone conversation with a potential employer who is considering opening a new office in the Seattle area. As you may well guess, we wanted to understand how that happened and so got him to describe his process. It went like this
· He started by setting up a Google Alert on his industry with results delivered to his email daily.
· While reading through this about a month ago, he discovered an article from a Kansas City Paper that documented a company from KC that was considering opening an office in Seattle.
· He followed up with an email to the company
· And added an Alert on the company to his Google Alerts
The email was followed up with first one and then a second extended phone conversation, then a product demo and this week he’s scheduled to have coffee with the individual responsible for opening the Seattle Office.
Our guy does not know for a fact that he is the only person talking about a Seattle office, but he is one of the very few, and there has not been any kind of advertisement yet about a potential position or asking people to apply. Instead, he is developing the kind of trust relationship that great jobs are built on.
I’ve set up my own Google Alert on job search and a couple of great sites were identified.
· Discover your Winning Ways – Handling your emotions
· Let’s Get Going – this is a group in North Carolina doing stuff similar to what we do. Been at it longer, so has some great learnings to share.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Start with a recognition of risks. Stress is one of the biggest challenges we face while we job search, in many ways it could be or become the biggest. The consequence of stress is the body breaking down. There’s an article on resilience that I posted in March on the blog, and it has several ideas about managing stress, but stress always take a toll. There is a “stress point scale”, designed in the 60’s and refined since that assigns points for various life events. The events vary from Death of a Spouse (100 points) to Christmas (10 points and now referred to as “Winter Holiday Season”). Add yours up and it gives at least some indication of how likely you are to get sick. 300 points apparently gives something like a 95% chance you’ll go to the hospital.
Another risk is “pre-existing conditions”. These are the things that are ongoing, and Insurance Companies really hate inheriting them. So if they can disqualify one of these they will. The law stipulates that if you have continuous coverage (“catastrophic insurance” doesn’t count as insurance here) then a new employers health coverage can’t exclude the condition. Maybe you have a bad kidney, it was diagnosed while working for Mega Computers Inc. You are laid off, then 2 months later get a job and Mega-Temps Inc. If you kept your Cobra or you were covered by a spouse/partner for the two months, then no problem; you will still be covered. If you went without for the two months, then Mega-Temps health carrier can exclude your kidney problems.
The point is that maintaining coverage is critical; it can also be ridiculously expensive.
Surprise, surprise, there is a major pot full of information on the net and everything is incredibly dynamic. COBRA is being subsidized by the feds right now, Washington State has its Basic Health Care plans (which will change with the state budget) and there are individual insurance plans.
Cobra is (as we all know) the continuation of insurance that our employers used to pay for. When we are laid off/fired/quit it is critical that we at least evaluate this option. The current bail-out legislation allows for as much as a 65% subsidy. I’m sure there are a ton of resources that will give you the 411, this one seems very clear and with a minimum of extraneous junk.
Washington Basic Health Plan info is here. We all know how to do a Google Search on “Individual Health Care Washington State”, which will give you something close to 4000 responses. Remove the quotes and the number balloons over 21 million. There are lots of choices, they just get expensive in a hurry.
One last choice to bring up is the Alliance for Affordable Services. This is focused on very small businesses, so if you are doing even a minimum of freelancing, it’s an option to check as well.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
A terrific resource is Consumer Credit Counseling Service. It’s a non-profit that’s been around for a while and has tools that are effective and time tested. There are a bunch of pretenders and even a bunch of scams talking about how they will “Fix your credit problems!!!” When you see these, quote Nancy Reagan and “Just say “No.”” Call Consumer Credit Counseling Service.
One of the pages on the CCCS site is a long list of ideas about the mechanics of reducing costs while keeping your life under control. Talks about budgeting, entertainment, travel… even has a section on throwing a wedding on a budget! All of the ideas start with being conscious about how you spend money and what you spend it on. Good luck to all of us.
CCCS web page is now added to my link list.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Fortune Magazine has an interesting article as well on job search and how to find a job. They have a vested interest in saying things aren’t as bad as they seem, but, they also have a point: “Some people are getting hired”. We need to keep working on this till we find ours. J
Monday, April 6, 2009
Looks like Craigslistwatch is at least temporarily non-functional so dropping from the link list. Unfortunately, that means this is one place that we still need review manually.
I didn’t include the link to the King 5 story on folks looking for work. Primary focus is kids looking for summer jobs, but Kevin got some airtime as did Keri Robinson of Ladies and Lords of Leisure.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Mostly it reinforces the focus on getting better at the hunt. We're smart people. We can figure this out. We're not going to change the statistics, but we will figure out how to get jobs.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
The group on Wednesday has been working elevator pitches for a couple of weeks now and we actually read examples to each other yesterday. My last post had our definition, I think there's more to it. A clear tight elevator pitch becomes the organizing subject for a resume. Everyone over the age of about 20 has more experience than can possibly be captured in writing, some of it relates to work, and some of it has nothing to do with it. The older we get, the more work experience we have making it even more difficult to choose and edit what we include on a resume.
For example, I've been in IT for more than 25 years. In that time, I've been a developer, analyst, resource manager, director, etc, etc. Just describing each role would take at least a couple pages, before I got to experience that is specific to me. All that will do is bore everyone who sees it and threaten an additional forest every time it's printed. Not a useful exercise.
My elevator pitch for jobs in IT is, "Every organization struggles with getting what they need from their IT department at a price they can afford. I've been building teams that deliver on this for more than eight years and would love to have the opportunity to continue." This tells me what events and roles and accomplishments to include. Time as a dev? it's a footnote. Time as an architect? it's abreviated, but bigger than the dev stuff. What I focus on is experience where I have built teams and the team has delivered.
The point here is not that mine is the only kind of pitch, but that by being clear with my pitch, I can write a cooherent resume that supports my goals and my pitch. If I have other parallel goals, then I can write other pitches and focus the experience in my resume around those goals and that pitch.
Monday, March 30, 2009
An elevator pitch for a job hunter has two parts:
- Problem statement
- solution as it will be implemented by the job seeker.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Do you bounce back? What happens when something goes wrong? Do you collapse? Do you hide? Do you find a way to deal with it? Resilient people find a way to deal with it. They find a way to work through problems, whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a job, illness or any of the many other challenges that life confronts us all with. Resilience doesn’t make the problems go away, it is simply the ability to work through them and find the things in life that help us handle the next stressor. If you aren't as resilient as you'd like, you can teach yourself.
§ Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress, such as family and relationship problems, health problems, workplace stress, and financial stress. Resilience is “bouncing back” from difficult experiences. It is a skill, something that can be learned.
§ Being resilient does not exempt someone from problems and challenges, it simply is the skills necessary to continue through them and to minimize the amount of time they take out of life.
§ Resilience isn’t about “toughing it out” or living by clichés such as “making lemonade out of lemons.” It is not ignoring your feelings of sadness over a loss. It does not mean that you always have to be strong and can’t ask others for support. In fact, reaching out to others is a key component of developing resilience.
§ Resilience is not a “trait” that people either have or don’t have; it’s a “skill”. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.
Factors that promote Resilience
§ Connectedness; Caring and supportive relationships inside and outside of the family. Relationships that include love and trust, and that provide role models, offer encouragement and reassurance thus bolstering one’s confidence and resilience.
§ Planfulness; The ability to make realistic plans and act to carry them out.
§ Self-confidence; positive view of yourself and belief in your strengths and abilities.
§ Skills in communication and problem solving.
§ The capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses.
Become more Resilient
§ Get connected. Build strong, positive relationships with family and friends, who can listen to your concerns and offer support. Share with these people. Being connected means that you share with your friends and they share with you. When things are tough, your friends and family help, if you are connected. Get involved in civic groups, faith groups or volunteer organizations that give you an opportunity to help others. Relationships like these can also fulfill your need for a sense of belonging and help banish loneliness. "A sense of connectedness can sustain you in more difficult times.
§ Use humor and laughter. Remaining positive or finding humor in distressing or stressful situations doesn't mean you're in denial. Humor is a helpful coping mechanism. If you simply can't find humor in your situation, turn to other sources for a laugh, such as a funny book or movie.
§ Learn from your experiences. Recall how you've coped with hardships in the past, What worked? What didn’t? Build on what helped you through those rough times and don't repeat actions that didn't help. Figure out what lessons you learned and how you'll apply them when faced with similar situations.
§ Remain hopeful and optimistic. When you're in the middle of a crisis, use the resources (your friends and family, your humor, your strengths) to remain hopeful and optimistic. It will allow you to remember what’s working. It may seem as though things will never get better and while you can't change the events, look toward the future, even if it's just a glimmer of how things might improve. Find something in each day that is working. Find something each day that signals a change for the better. Expect good results. Believing things happen for a reason may help sustain you.
§ Take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs and feelings, both physically and emotionally. This includes participating in activities and hobbies you enjoy, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and eating a well-balanced diet.
§ Accept and anticipate change. Be flexible. Change and uncertainty are part of life. Try not to be so rigid that even minor changes upset you or that you become anxious in the face of uncertainty. Expecting changes to occur makes it easier to adapt to them, tolerate them, and even welcome them.
§ Work toward goals. Do something every day that gives you a sense of accomplishment. It doesn't have to be a major goal, such as getting the college degree you've been meaning to pursue. Even small, everyday goals are important, such as finishing a work project or making a difficult phone call. Having goals helps direct you toward the future. Accomplishing them builds your self confidence and feeds your optimism.
§ Take action. Don't just wish your problems would go away or try to ignore them. Chances are, they won't disappear on their own. Instead, figure out what needs to be done, make a plan to do it, and then take action to resolve your problems.
§ Learn new things about yourself. Look back on past experiences and think about how you've changed as a result. You may be stronger than you thought. You may have gained a new appreciation for life. If you feel worse as a result of your experiences, think about what changes could help. Also explore new interests, such as taking a cooking class or visiting a museum.
§ Nurture your strengths. Identify and congratulate yourself for your real successes, no matter how small. Be proud of yourself and your success. Trust yourself to solve problems and make sound decisions. Think positive thoughts about yourself. Nurture your self-confidence and self-esteem so that you feel you're a strong, capable and self-reliant person who can withstand hardships and criticism.
§ Maintain perspective. Look at your life. Recognize that you have had better times, and worse. Recognize that you made it through the worse times before and you will make it through this. Comparing yourself to others is self defeating. There are always good things in the world and always bad things. There is always someone doing better than you and someone else that is having more problems. Comparing your events with others in the world doesn’t change what happened, it simply allows you to reinforce whatever you choose. If you want to feel poor, then compare yourself with Bill Gates, if you want to feel rich, then head off to Africa and find someplace that doesn’t have drinkable water. Both are meaningless. Your situation is what you must deal with and that’s enough.
Becoming resilient is something each of us learns in our own way. These tips provide simple tools, or really just the pointers to tools that can help you become more resilient..
Monday, March 23, 2009
Both of these come are very entrepreneur oriented. That's because I think finding a job is an entrepreneurial job. That said:
There's lots of these on the net, for examples look at this:
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
AARP sponsors seminars through the Washington Employment Security Department, multiple churches have groups. The Seattle Times has a "jobs calendar" every Sunday. The online version (www.seattletimes.com) is kept current. The column "ask the Headhunter" sites a web page and study of particular interest. http:\\CareerXroads.com.
At any rate, lots of things to look at.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
- What was done in the last week?
- What had a positive outcome (no matter how small)?
As part of 2. diving into a particular area/skill/tool each week to understand how to use it and how to optimize it. Some things are really intended to allow us to spend more months looking without loosing our homes, and some things are designed to get us in the door and some things are designed to identify the right doors, so which of these should be considered and how often?
The first meeting is intended to validate this and start to create a list of specific topics inside of part 2.