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Monday Rx: Change Your Job Search Strategy If…

You have often heard the saying, “If you always do what you have always done, you will continue getting what you have always gotten”, or something close. If that sounds like you and your job search or your career, then you may want to reconsider your strategy, regardless of your status or what stage of the job search game you are at.

Consider this story:

A Mom wrote me on September 8, and said, “My daughter has taken a year off before going to college and she desperately needs a job.  She has been job hunting, but her lack of experience is a real hindrance.  She is now very discouraged.  Could you spare some time to talk to her on the phone in the next few days?”

On September 10, I contacted the young lady – all of 17 years old – and asked her to explain to me what she had been doing. After our initial conversation, I suggested she did things differently. Since she had never worked before, I gave her a research assignment to visit several locations in her area – Tim Hortons, McDonalds, Starbucks, Canadian Tire, among others. She was to observe the surroundings, how the employees behaved, how they treated customers and generally be alert for other things that were taking place. She was also to make notes of her observations. In addition, she should write down comments that people frequently made about her – her punctuality, reliability, leadership skills, etc. Lastly, she should create a list of some of her own qualities.

With the information from her research, we created a one page hybrid of a cover letter and résumé and I asked her to customize each to fit the companies she was targeting. She was to write what she observed on her visits, what was going well and how she could add value as their next employee. Remember, she had little to go on in the first place.

On September 15, she responded by saying: This is incredibly helpful! I’ve been applying to places all week so tomorrow I will follow up with all the companies to which I applied. I will keep you updated on how that goes.”

What a difference in her mood in five days! On September 23, she wrote: “Hi Mrs. Wright, I just want to say thank you for all your advice and help. I really appreciate it. I received my first job yesterday – full time hostess at Red Lobster. I’m ecstatic!”

Entry-level students are not my usual clientele, but I deviated from the norm with this young lady. What I found is that a change of strategy works, whether one is an entry-level job seeker or a more seasoned professional, but it requires commitment and perseverance. Who would’ve imagined that in a such a tough job market, a 17 year-old who had never previously worked could change her job search strategy and find success within 13 days?

How about you? Is your job search strategy working for you, or is it time to go back to the drawing board and tweak it a bit? Contact me if you need some assistance!

 

Image source: Google

Google+…What is This?

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with 30+ Internationally Trained Engineers at Humber College about marketing themselves to employers. After I had touched briefly on the Big 3 social networking platforms – LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook – I introduced Google+. “Google what?” they asked. If you haven’t heard of it yet, Google+ is the new kid on the social networking block that arrived on the scene in June. Think of it as a blend of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Now, you may already be suffering from social media fatigue and do not want to hear about another one. However, Google+ is worth exploring. Why? Recruiters and hiring managers are there. Some are already using the Hangout feature to conduct interviews and meetings. Career coaches, resume writers, HR and public relations professionals, and marketing and communication experts are using this same feature to network with each other.

If you are an early adopter, you have a chance to follow these professionals and get to know who the other players in their circles are, who they are connected to and who are connected to them. You will have an opportunity to network with other users who, as they get to know you, may be able to help you in your job search or career transition. Remember, networking is key!

Speaking of early adopters, blogger/author/speaker, Chris Brogan is writing a book on Google+. Imagine that, and the platform is not yet 3 months old. As a job seeker or career changer, you need to be acquainted with all these social networking tools, and they are basically free. Explore and see which one aligns best with your interest and goals, then dive in. As the saying goes, “The early bird catches the worm.” You need to be leading the pack ahead of your competitors.

Years ago when blogs weren’t that fashionable, I suggested to a colleague that she creates a blog to showcase her expertise and distinguish herself as a communications specialist. Of course, it was the intent that someone would notice her extraordinary writing capabilities and contact her. She told me that blogging was a fad that would soon wane! Well, the would-be fad is now main stream.

Don’t get left behind. You already know how difficult it is to find job opportunities through traditional means. The use of social media in your job search is critical. Whether or not you jump on the Google+ bandwagon, you owe it to yourself to find out what it’s all about. Here  is a link that explains the basics of Google+:  Introduction to Google+. Once you have reviewed it, post a comment to tell me your thoughts.

At the moment, you can only join Google+ by invitation, and I have been allotted 150 invitations.  If you would like to test-drive it, send me an email with ‘Google+’ in the subject line and I will send you an invitation. View my profile-in-the-making at http://gplus.to/careertips2go. Remember, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Google+ is F.R.E.E.

7 Job Search Do’s and Don’ts

 

DON’T send a cover letter with “To Whom it May Concern”. It portends laziness and lack of interest.

DO the research to find the name of the person responsible for hiring.

 

DON’T use “References Available on Request” on your résumé.

DO use a quote from your performance appraisal or a testimonial that highlights your value.

 

DON’T replicate your job description when developing your résumé.

DO include powerful accomplishment-based statements that address the employer’s buying motivators or needs.

 

DON’T spend too much of your job search hours on the computer.

DO arrange more face time with people in your network.

 

DON’T send a generic Thank-you note after the interview.

DO send one that recaps key elements of the discussion and reiterates your interest in the position.

 

DON’T ask for a job at an informational interview.

DO ask for one or two names they recommend you contact.

 

DON’T relate your life story when asked “Tell me about yourself”.

DO talk about your education, work history, and what you have recently done for your company.

 

 

Image Credit: Dirjournal.com

Monday Morning Rx: Who Can You Network With Today?

Are you someone who believes that networking doesn’t work for you? If you do, then you may have the wrong concept about the process. It is not schmoozing or ‘brown-nosing’, it’s not about handing out business cards, and it’s not about asking for a job. Networking is about building relationships. Getting to know people who can offer you assistance and who you can also help, and…there are many people out there just waiting to be asked for help.

It is said that between 65-80% of opportunities – job or business – are found through networking. Networking opens the doors to the hidden job market, but most job seekers use it the wrong way. They believe networking is all about asking for a job, and so they irritate people by telling them, on first meeting, how long they have been unemployed and can they help them find a job. They miss out on the relationship-building piece.

Author Job & Success Expert Harvey McKay said, “If I had to name the single characteristic shared by all the truly successful people I’ve met in my lifetime, I’d have to say it’s the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts.” 

What are your networking plans today? Make an effort to contact someone you have always wanted to meet and start the relationship-building process.  Nurture that relationship and see what happens!

If you are stuck in a career or networking rut, pop into our CareerTips2Go Cafe, and let’s talk!

Monday Morning Rx: Know Your Value…Promote Yourself

Today’s post is about recognizing your value and asking for what you want, whether you are a man or woman!

Over the past several months I have become a fan of Morning Joe on MSNBC, with Mika Brzezinski, Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist. After watching Mika interview some of the women profiled in her book “Knowing Your VALUE – Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth”, I decided to buy a copy. It’s an excellent read. She talks about how difficult it is for women to ask for what they want, especially asking for a raise or a promotion. While men are comfortable promoting themselves, and almost demanding what they want, women prefer to work, work, work hoping the boss will take notice.

While reading the book, I was struck by a couple of quotes from Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s senior advisor.

“I felt like if I was deserving, then my boss should recognize that I was deserving.”

After one of her mentors said to her, “You can’t sit around waiting for people to recognize your work, you have to ask for it”, she gathered her courage and went to her then boss.  Soon after that discussion, she got the promotion and the front office she had wanted.

That bold, courageous move prompted Jarret to say, “If you’re not asking for a promotion…you’re not going to get the gold ring”.

See, even high profile people like Valerie Jarrett, Mika Brzezinski and others quoted in the book, found it difficult to ask for what they truly deserved, and when they did, they got what they wanted. You are no different! You are ‘high profile’ in your own right. What is it that you would like to ask for, but are fearful about? Are you afraid to ask for the job during the interview? Are you worried that in the current economy you can’t ask for a raise? Are you waiting on your boss to give you the promotion that you know you deserve? As a small business owner or a coach, do you feel uncomfortable charging the fee you deserve for the services you provide?

Whatever it is, you owe it to yourself to ask for what you want…today! Go ahead, promote yourself, and see what happens!

Have a productive Monday!

Monday Morning Rx: How to Be Happy at Work

In May 2010, I began sending little picker-upper nuggets called ‘Monday Morning Rx’ to my newsletter subscribers. Sometimes it was a quote, sometimes something longer. You see, Monday mornings are tough for a lot of people whether or not they are in the job search. Anyway, I got busy and stopped a few months afterward. I believed then, as I do now, that everyone of us, at some point, needs a picker-upper when the going gets tough, so I recently restarted the Monday Morning Rx. Some posts have and will relate to career and job search, others will not.

Reflect on Today’s quote taken from Jon Gordon, author of The Energy Bus, and other books.

“Don’t Seek Happiness – Ironically if you want to be happier don’t seek happiness. Instead share your strengths and decide to work with passion and purpose and happiness will find you. The research shows that people are most energized when they are using their strengths for a bigger purpose beyond themselves. Whatever your job, decide to bring passion to it and find purpose in it. I’ve met bus drivers, mortgage brokers, janitors and fast-food employees who are more passionate about their jobs and happier than some professional athletes making millions of dollars. Every job will get mundane and “old” if you let it but purpose and passion keep it fresh and make you happier.” ~ Jon Gordon’s Positive Tip: 5 Ways to Be Happy at Work

Pass it along and help someone have a happy Monday.

Have a productive Monday.

 

It’s a Business Card…It’s a Resume…It’s a QR Code

It is (or used to be) the norm that a business card would include a name, title, phone number, email address, website and sometimes a tagline. That was yesterday. Today, in addition to the elements mentioned, the business card could contain one’s elevator pitch, branding statement or mini resume, thanks to the arrival of the QR (or Quick Response) Code.

A QR Code is a collection of symbols that when scanned by someone’s mobile device provides more detailed information about an individual. See the sample below which was created from my LinkedIn Profile using Pingtags:

 

 

As trendy as a QR Code may be, it could present a challenge to those without a  barcode scanner or mobile device with a QR Reader App. That said, from a job search or business perspective, it could be seen as another way for someone to set him or herself apart from their competitors and enhance their brand. What will they think of next?

 

What are your thoughts?

 

Related Website: Skanz

Is the Résumé Really Dead?

Every so often I read a blog post or hear comments about the death of the ubiquitous résumé, and I am sometimes tempted to believe it. After all, it draws its competition from the overabundance of social media tools and, to a lesser degree, from individuals with the ‘gift of gab’ who can talk themselves into any job without a résumé.

But, let’s pause for a moment! Probably, the résumé isn’t dead after all. A few days ago, one of my clients was interviewed for a Senior Vice President position by the top three honchos of a company. They were impressed with the content and structure of his résumé because after the interview, he sent me the following note:

The Top Guy stated he had never seen a better résumé and appreciated the time and effort I put into it.  I was straight up and told him I solicited assistance. I said, “No one stands alone but draws on other people’s expertise as required”. He loved that.

Naturally, I was happy for him that things went well, and by the looks of  it, he may be getting an offer soon, but I also reflected on the CEO’s comment. This couldn’t have happened if it was a collaborative effort between the client and me. Before crafting the résumé, I put him to work by having him complete an assessment to uncover his strengths and the work environment in which he strives best. It was a worthwhile exercise for him as he wrote to say, “I want to express how important this process has been for me to re-evaluate my worth and experience. I have a fire I have not had in a while!”

The next step was to delve into his background, unearth his success stories and formulate them into a cohesive value proposition that articulates what he is good at, what he consistently does well, and how he delivers tangible results. He was stunned when he received the draft document and remarked, “To say we are blown away (the wife and I) would be an understatement. This is GOLD!”

Before meeting with company officials, we also discussed interview strategies – what to say, when to say it, and what to hold back.  This brings me back to the question, “Is the résumé really dead as some would have us believe?” Not really! Hiring managers and recruiters usually request one; job postings ask to submit one, and CEOs sometimes want to see one before agreeing to meet a candidate. What is on its way out is the résumé as it used to be. The one devoid of value-based scripts, filled with ‘responsible for…’ statements and does not address the employer’s needs or buying motivators. Such a résumé cannot stand up to the competition and will certainly meet its demise if it hasn’t already. On the other hand, the one that tells stories, focuses on major strengths, and promises value, that’s the résumé that will lead to interviews and then to a job offer.

What are your thoughts? Have your say below.

 

But, let’s pause for a minute! Probably, the résumé isn’t dead after all. One of my clients met the top three honchos of this particular company when he interviewed for a Senior VP position a few days ago. After that meeting, he sent me an email from which I quote:  

The Top Guy stated he had never seen a better resume and appreciated the time and effort I put into it.  I was straight up and told him I solicited assistance.  “No one stands alone but draws on other people’s expertise as required”, I told him. He loved that.

In order to come up with the client’s résumé, I had him complete an assessment. After he had reviewed the results, he said, I want to express how important this process has been for me to re-evaluate my worth and experience. I have a fire I have not had in a while!”

The next step was to delve into his background, unearth his success stories and formulate them into a cohesive value proposition that articulates what he is good at, what he consistently does well, and how he delivers tangible results. All this was necessary to craft the résumé that caught the attention of the CEO. Even the client was stunned when he received the résumé. He said, To say we are blown away (the wife and I) would be an understatement. This is GOLD!”

So, which résumé is dead? The one devoid of value-based scripts, filled with ‘responsible for…’ statements and does not address the employer’s needs. Such a résumé cannot stand up to the competition, and will certainly meet its demise if it hasn’t already. However, the résumé that tells stories; focuses on major strengths and promises value, that’s the résumé that will lead to success.

What are your thoughts? Have your say below.

Monday Morning Rx: What Can You Do for Your Job Search Today?

What is the one thing that you could do TODAY that would bring you closer to your career or job search goal?

  • Do you want to reach out to someone for help?
  • Should you research companies you would really want to work with instead of spending more time on job boards?
  • Have you completed your LinkedIn Profile to make it more attractive and easier for hiring managers and recruiters to find you?
  • Is your resume ready for your next opportunity, or are you waiting on the next opportunity before getting your resume ready?

Whatever it is, it only takes one small step, and you can start right now. Confucius says, “It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.”

Now get working on it, and have a great Monday!

Can My Dad Come to the Interview With Me?

 

When my son was in high school I often told him that if he went away to college, I would be moving next door. He hasn’t moved away, so I have no need to do that. That said, most of us as parents are very protective of our children and sometimes we go way overboard and become known as ‘helicopter parents’ – always hovering around! Of course, this can sometimes have a negative impact on the children, especially when they are in their early adult years.

 

In a recent survey of Executives by Officeteam, they witnessed some unusual parental behaviours:

  • “One parent wanted to sit in during the interview.”
  • “A parent called a politician to push me to hire his son.”
  • “A mother submitted her daughter’s resume on her behalf.”
  • “Someone stopped an employer at a grocery store to ask that person to hire her child.”
  • “A parent called to ask about a job applicant’s work schedule and salary.”
  • “A parent called during the interview to try to push me to hire her daughter.”
  • “I received a call from a father asking about the status of his son’s application.”
  • “A parent came by my desk and told me that he expected his daughter to get preference for a position since he was a manager at the company.”
  • “A mother called to ask how her child did in the job interview.”
  • “A parent called to find out why we did not hire her son and why we felt he was not qualified.”

Whether you are a helicopter parent or not, these five tips from Officeteam will equip you to help your son or daughter navigate the job search maze:

 

1. Branch out. Networking is still one of the best ways to find a job. Your friends and colleagues can help set up introductory meetings with employers and alert your job-seeking child to opportunities.

2. Give it another look. Review their resume and cover letter. Most times you can spot typos and other errors and make sure the most valuable information is included.

3. Do a test run. Offer to conduct mock interviews with them to practice responses to common questions. Give them constructive feedback on their answers and delivery.

4. Weigh the options. Offer to be their sounding board about potential opportunities. You can provide a different perspective and bring up points they could consider in their decision.

5. Offer encouragement. Looking for a job can be difficult, and it’s important to remain positive. Offer your parental advice and support throughout the process to keep them on track.

 

Read the full Officeteam article here