Archive | December, 2015

Haven’t Searched for a Job in Years? Here are the Trends You Need to Know.

December 29, 2015

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5146901365_d1e00df0a5_zWorried you don’t have an edge like the others do? Concerned that you’re not going to do as well in the interview as your competitors? Maybe your resume is so old that you don’t know what employers are expecting anymore. Or, you check your closet for your interview suit and find it’s at least a decade out of style.

For all of these reasons, you may feel unqualified. But with a little research, you can get back on track. Give yourself a leg up by researching the following trends and hacks, and discovering what they can do to increase your job search success.

Career Coach/Life Coach: At the beginning of your search? A life or career coach can help define what direction you should take, what career you are most suited for, what specific tasks you most enjoy doing. Overall, what path is best for your personality and goals. If you’re stuck during your search, this expert will help redirect you and get you back on the right path. A life coach can serve as an incredible motivator during the job search process. They are terrific at helping you hold onto your confidence and power and keeping you inspired in your search.

Resume Writer: A resume writing expert will help you bring your resume up to date in a way that speaks to employers. Even if you’re a good writer, a resume writer knows how to express your experiences in the most desirable way. Employers scan resumes for relevant job history, key words, certifications and education. This expert will help you design your resume to get the most “looks.” In today’s world, you’ll want to find an expert familiar with the digital side of things who can think beyond the paper page.

Job Search Club: This type of club is the perfect way to gain support and feedback. Searching for a job can be very lonely and meeting with others dealing who have similar issues can remind you you’re not the only one on this journey. You could create your own club, or join a local Meetup.com group.

Industry Club/Social Media Group: With a simple Google search, you can find a plethora of industry-specific groups. Check out your industry online and you’ll find a social media group or a networking group that includes people like you with similar interests. Just socializing with people in your industry can bring about a fresh perspective, like new tools and tips you hadn’t thought of.

Image via Ross/Flickr.

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How Can A Mentor Help Me?

December 22, 2015

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22688606656_23cea10f95_zSo you found the perfect mentor—the one you admire and respect, the one who does the job you’d like to do some day, the one who is unflappable at their job, the one who seems to handle people and work like it’s as easy as pie. You’re a bit jealous and envious, for sure. But, the most important thing at this point is to soak up all their knowledge and secrets. Now, how do you make that happen?

  1. Ask them to lunch or coffee. Ask them out to discuss what a mentorship means to each of you. Set some boundaries around how often you’ll get together and communicate. Both of you need to agree to the mentorship going forward. Don’t force it. Be respectful of their time and gracious they have agreed to offer it to you.
  2. List what you like. You already admire this person for various reasons. Put together a list of characteristics and skills you admire and begin working with them on how you might also acquire these skills. The mentor can listen and give suggestions, feedback on past scenarios, or even give you some real-world homework that you can apply in the office.
  3. Share strategy. Discuss your long-range career plans with your mentor and give them a chance to chime in on your next steps.
  4. Get help navigating the organization. Your mentor may be able to help you understand the office politics and culture. He/She could introduce you to the influential players and help you learn how to communicate through the organization.
  5. Attend industry events together. Your mentor can bring you as a guest to company-sponsored events or industry meetings to help you learn about employees and the industry in general. Or they can suggest industry groups you should become a part of.
  6. Ask them to advocate your work. Your mentor can be someone that helps promote your skills in the organization. In larger organizations it can be hard to share your talents with those in different departments. Your mentor can be an advocate for you to get the ball rolling and point you in the right direction based on your pursuits. Your mentor, in essence, should be helping you build a reputation in the organization by supporting your growth, sharing your skills and abilities with others, and passing on their wisdom and knowledge.

As you see, this mentorship can look like a one way street. As the mentee, make sure you are routinely thanking your mentor and making sure he/she is aware of your appreciation and witnesses your growth. If you’re moving in the right direction, this should be empowering for them as well.

Image via Image Catalog/Flickr.

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A Job Search Club, Really?

December 17, 2015

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20654531182_7c4df489fd_zHave you ever run into someone who had a job search experience similar to yours, but treated it completely differently? You listened to their story and were surprised, but enlightened. Not everyone handles things the same way and many times it can be very helpful and motivating to hear someone else’s scenario.

Particularly during a job search, we can get stuck in our own little rut wearing blinders and only attacking the search in one way: ours! A job club can help you break free of this one-sided perspective and empower you to see more than one route to your goal.

A job club is a a group of people who are each searching for their next job and come together with the goal of supporting one another during this time. Here are some reasons why you might want to join one:

  1. Accountability. Sending out those resumes and filling out the online applications stinks, so it’s good to be a part of a group that will keep you motivated.
  2. Celebration. It’s always good to have go-to people to celebrate the little things with. Cheers to that awesome interview!
  3. Encouragement. You need support during the tough times. Rejection letters stink so it’s nice to have someone you can talk to if/when you receive one.
  4. Education. Why pass up the chance to share and learn about job search tools and resources? There are so many helpful tools out there that it’s impossible to know all of them–but your job search group can help share reviews and tips.
  5. Enlightenment. Share your own experiences and advice, but also learn about other’s unique approaches. There’s more than one way to skin a cat!
  6. Improvement. In a job search group, you’ll have built-in resume editors—lots of them! It’s hard to see your own resume clearly after you’ve been looking at it for days on end. Let somebody else give you some suggestions.

Image via Aaron Gaines/Flickr

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How to Transform Time-Wasting Meetings

December 15, 2015

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2630713127_09d09f8a99_zThey seem like such a time suck, but sometimes meetings can’t be avoided. You dread them because there is a certain cast of characters that will show up every time. You’re already ready to cut them off, shut them up, or even make them open up. In some ways, office meetings can be similar to showing up to a family holiday dinner: exhausting but mandatory.

There’s got to be some way to cut through that feeling of dread that wells up in your stomach in the half hour before the meeting begins. Here are some ways you can change the meeting format so you head into it feeling charged up and come out of it feeling a sense of accomplishment and direction.

Pre-meeting recon. It’s very likely there are topics and issues that could be dealt with outside of a larger meeting. Have one-on-ones before the meeting or e-mail certain team members to reduce the agenda items.

Set parameters. Having a set of rules going into your meeting can do wonders for productivity. For example: no interrupting, everyone gets a chance to speak, etc. Immediately, the naysayers and the debaters don’t have a platform.

Establish a facilitator. A facilitator manages the parameters set above. It’s best if this is an objective person who is not involved in the agenda items. Each meeting should also have a leader who tracks time as well as monitoring and managing the conversations by making sure people are heard and that the participants stay on task and move toward the goal.

Agenda, Agenda, Agenda. Have one ready to go and if possible, e-mail it to members before the meeting so items can be added or removed beforehand.

Vocalize the meeting’s goal. Having a clearly established goal will help all parties know the reason for this meeting. (It’s not a group time-waster!) A goal also keeps everyone accountable for their part in the meeting.

Limit invitees. Only invite those who need to be involved. Most people would prefer to resolve typical meeting agenda items outside of a meeting if at all possible. Give them what they wish!

Image via Office Now/Flickr

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Turn Rejection Into Something Better

December 10, 2015

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2476059942_f7ee6b2b09_zThere’s no doubt about it: rejection hurts. We’ve all been faced with it in some form. On the job front, after you’ve read the rejection letter and reacted—by going shopping, treating yourself to your favorite sweet, or indulging in a night out—regroup and gather yourself for the second act. When it comes to a rejection letter there are a couple things you need to realize in addition to the obvious:

Be thankful you got a letter. At least it’s a form of communication that keeps you in touch with the company. Receiving this means they are aware of you and your skills–they had to make a decision about you! They’re thinking about you! You are on their radar.

Use this letter as fuel for your next move: getting feedback from that same company that rejected you. You now have a chance to solicit their feedback about your resume, the interview, the skills they are looking for, what you could improve on, etc. Craft a letter that asks these types of questions, or even better, call the hiring manager or person you interviewed with and ask for 15 minutes of their time.

If you are given specific feedback, act on it. This is now a new contact for you. If they forward helpful information onto you, you should follow up on it! The last thing you want is to have two great resources discussing your lack of follow up. This will definitely cut off your future opportunities at two organizations.

Ask for a referral from those hiring managers that rejected you. In other words, find out if there are other jobs in the same organization that you might be a fit for. A simple, “What other positions might be a good fit for me?” can go a long way.

Keep in touch on a regular basis. Don’t lose them as a contact. Instead, use them as a new contact and keep them close. Disregard all thoughts from your head about “bugging” someone and picture the job you’ll be getting instead. Offer them something, too. They may need referrals for job candidates from you. Your contact list could help them, but in turn it will also be helping you.

Image via Abhi/Flickr.

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Having Trouble Being Productive? Stop Working.

December 8, 2015

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4831501753_2d14101d26_zYou’ve stared at the screen an hour too long. Or, maybe you’ve gone down the rabbit hole that is the internet looking at completely unnecessary things. But that idea or inspiration you’re looking for is just not presenting itself.

Some people have been working long enough to know their own patterns; when they are most productive in the day and when they aren’t. It’s good to be aware enough to know these, but if you don’t, here’s a secret. Just stop.

What? Yes, just stop your work, walk away and find something else to do for a while. Relaxing your brain and giving it a much-needed break breeds creativity. That break allows you to refresh and regenerate. If you’re a creative type you may know this trick already.

Willing the work out of yourself is just not going to happen. Having alternative activities you can do when you hit this roadblock is key. If you’re someone with tons of hobbies and workplace flexibility, it’s easier to walk away from work for a bit. However, if you’re in an office environment with limited flexibility, you’ll need to get a bit creative.

Here are some options for a way to take a break and boost your creativity:

  1. Take a walk, outside if possible, alone or with a partner.
  2. Workout. If you have a place to do this at your place of work, or nearby, that’s optimal.
  3. Walk or run up and down the stairwell.
  4. Meditate. Find a quiet area, if not in your office, at a park or nearby green space.
  5. Take a drive somewhere inspirational.
  6. Meet someone for a 1/2 hour chat.
  7. Read a book (or listen to one!).
  8. Run errands or shop, which is easy to do during the holidays.
  9. Listen to music.
  10. Call and talk to a friend — someone that makes you feel good, preferably!
  11. Flip through a magazine for 15 minutes.

Image via Lucas Cobb/Flickr

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7 Reasons You Should Continue Your Job Search During the Holidays

December 3, 2015

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22382343465_686a7314a4_zThe retail holiday tunes have begun and you’re determined to never shop again after hearing “Jingle Bells” one too many times. But you can’t ignore this sign that the holidays are here and you are powerless to the retailers and their musical choices.

Look at this another way though: while everyone else is busy shopping and planning, you have an opportunity. What is it? To take advantage of this time of the year for a job search. Here are the top reasons why ramping up your search right now is the way to go.

  1. The competition is taking a break. It’s your chance to sneak right in and be the one the organizations see. Most job searchers go on hiatus during the holidays or even take a seasonal job to help pay for bills. So ramp up your search rather than scaling it down!
  2. Holiday parties. There are many, many chances to network within your own organization and during all of those other parties you are invited to (or invite yourself to). Take every opportunity to network during this time.
  3. Holiday spirit. People are generally feeling more thankful and helpful around this time of the year. Take advantage of the season of giving when asking for an informational or coffee meeting.
  4. Holiday cards. Send out a holiday greeting to your contact list, but also include your current status and what you are looking for in a new job. Two birds with one stone!
  5. Old friends. The holidays are a time to reconnect with your friends from high school and college. Find out where theses folks are employed. They may very well be gainfully employed in your industry or have colleagues to refer you to.
  6. Hiring continues. Despite popular myth, organizations are still hiring during the holidays. Many times, they want to hire before the end of the year so new employees can start January 1.
  7. Sales, sales, sales! The retail industry has everything on SALE! Use this time to buy your interview clothing and any office supplies or technology that’s necessary for your search.

Image via Image Catalog/Flickr.

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Is Pinterest a Job Search Tool?

December 1, 2015

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6137341753_a85103a434_zIf you thought Pinterest was only for sharing DIY projects, recipes and pretty pictures, I’m sure you’re not alone. But, alas, this is one more social media app (or “catalog of ideas” as the founder likes to call it) where you can promote yourself and your body of work. Here’s how you can use it for personal branding and job search success.

Post your resume. What words would you search if you were looking for an outstanding candidate like yourself? In the caption, use hashtags and words that are attractive to recruiters or organizations.

Gather job advice. Search many job-related words and you’ll find all kinds of helpful information. Pin the best advice to a job search board or interview advice board that you can refer to for inspiration and motivation.

Create a board for your personal brand. A personal board can explains who you are, and help prospective employers learn more about your experiences, personality, and brand beyond your resume.

Visualize your job search. Are you a visual learner? Then you’ll love Pinterest. Try pinning infographics, motivational quotes, inspiring career images, advice, and more.

Search other professional’s boards. Research others in your industry and find out what they are doing, what they are posting, how they are promoting themselves.

Remember, like any social media app, you need to pay attention to what you are posting. Your personal information, opinions and values are now out there for potential employers to view. If you craft your boards with this in mind, it’s no different than writing a resume.

This could be your favorite job search tool. You won’t know until you start pinning!

Image via Bunches and Bits {Karina}/Flickr.

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