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Monday Morning Rx: Let the Sunshine In

 

On Monday May 3, 2010, I began sending out short messages of encouragement to my newsletter subscriber list. After a few months, other things got in the way, and I stopped. Last week I decided it was time to restart the process via this blog. My first Monday Morning Rx note said:

Monday mornings can be a tough time for some people. Just the thought of going out to work, probably to a job they no longer enjoy or a boss or coworker they don’t get on with. Or, it could be someone who has been unsuccessful with their job search and just can’t face another week. Whatever the reason, some people just dread Mondays. As a matter of fact, Sunday nights can be quite stressful for some, just thinking about the next day.

If any of this resonates with you, don’t worry. I have a prescription for you – the Monday Morning Rx. Starting today, and each Monday, I will be sending messages of encouragement taken from various sources to help you get over ‘blue Mondays’ and start your work week on a positive note.”

So, after more than a year, I will begin my Monday morning messages again. Today’s has been adapted from The Path to Positive Thinking is Paved With Positive Thinking by Wally Amos.

Let the Sunshine In

Are you the kind of person who lets rainy days and Mondays get you down?…If the sky is black and the rain won’t stop, grab a philosophical umbrella and let the sun figuratively shine in.  You can shop if you like to shop, spend time with friends who are fun to be with, or curl up with a good book.  Whatever you do, if you do it with a sunny attitude inside, you can beat the weather outside.  You’ll suffer from JOY instead of SAD. Joy comes from within. (Excerpted from Wally Amos’ The Path to Success is Paved with Positive Thinking).

“Stay out of yesterday, wait for tomorrow, and live in the present.”

 

Have a great day. It’s yours to enjoy!


How to Address Gaps in Your Employment

Several of my clients are professional immigrants, aka Internationally Educated Professionals. While they are trying to navigate and understand the job search maze, they are either not working or they are working in survival jobs. Invariably, these jobs are not related to their professions, and some prefer not to mention such jobs on their resumes. Those who haven’t yet found a job face the same challenge – how to account for their time away from the job market.

In a recent survey, a group of Canadian HR professionals and hiring managers were asked “How should candidates address gaps in their employment history?” Nearly thirty-six percent (35.9%) said they should include a statement in the ‘work experience’ section and twenty-three percent (23.4%) indicated that they should give an explanation in a cover letter. Sixteen percent (15.6%) said that candidates should explain (in a chronological resume) where the gap occurred, or they should fill the gap with professional development. From this statistic, it is safe to conclude that 75% of respondents want you to account for the gap.

While keeping the hiring managers’ preferences in mind, here are some additional ways to compensate for, or explain gaps in your employment:

  1. Prepare to tell stories about what you have learned in the survival job without focusing on the title
  2. Register with employment agencies to get some short-term assignments, or look for freelance projects
  3. Use the functional resume format to emphasize notable skills and accomplishments gained from a number of jobs
  4. Arrange practice interview sessions with a family member or friend and make sure you are prepared to answer the ‘gap’ question
  5. Reflect on some activities you have been involved in and see if you can link those activities to the company’s business strategy
  6. Remind yourself that unpaid work is ‘experience’
  7. Attend industry-related seminars, engage in professional development activities or gain an additional certification

Employers understand that there are various reasons why someone may have gaps in his or her employment history. Just be honest about it, and always steer the conversation back to the value benefits they would derive from having you on board.

 

 

Social Media Tools for Job Search is not Popular with Canadians

In a survey conducted by The Wright Career Solution in 2010, 65.6 percent of hiring managers and recruiters use social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) to look for candidates, yet in another survey by the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC), almost half (46%), of Canadians report that they do not use, nor are they interested in using social media to advance their career goals. What a disconnect!

Get a copy of The Wright Career Solution’s report here: Survey Results of Canadian Hiring Managers and CERIC’s at  Public Perception of Career Development and the Workplace.

Feel free to add your thoughts here

Embarrassing Moments at Work: Offer Letter Sent to the Wrong Candidate

OfficeTeam recently conducted a survey asking executives to recount their most embarrassing moments. One fell asleep while interviewing a candidate, another sent the offer letter to the wrong candidate, and yet another answered the phone using the wrong company name. One even went to work with two different shoes on. I can relate to that as it happened to me years ago one dark winter morning.

These moments can happen to just about anyone, and while the executive may be forgiven, as a candidate vying for that coveted position, you might not be so fortunate. That embarrassing mistake could cost you the job of your dreams.

Here are four tips from OfficeTeam to help you rebound from embarrassing mishaps:

1. Remain calm. It’s easy to lose your nerves after a slipup, but try to keep your composure. Take a deep breath and collect yourself.

2. Own up. Acknowledging a blunder before someone else does can alleviate any awkward tension that may arise. If appropriate, address the situation in a humorous way to make everyone feel more at ease.

3. Make amends. If your accident affected another person, immediately apologize and take steps to ensure a similar mistake does not happen again.

4. Move on. Rather than dwell on a misstep, focus on getting back on track. The faster you recover, the less memorable the incident will be.

What has been an embarrassing moment for you? Share it here.

*Post courtesy of OfficeTeam

6 Job Search Tips from Ted Williams – “The Homeless Man with a Golden Voice”

Have you heard of Ted Williams? He is the homeless man whose Youtube video has captured the hearts of millions of people around the world, thanks to a Columbus Dispatch videographer Doral Chenoweth III.

Williams is an ex-radio announcer who fell on hard times, but two years ago he changed his lifestyle and began looking for help and for work. Since the Youtube video went viral, he has received so many job offers that he is still trying to determine which offer to take.

As a job seeker, what can you learn from Ted?

1.       Know yourself and what you are good at. Although homeless, Williams knew he had (and still has) a “God-given gift of voice”.

2.       Craft a clear, concise and compelling branded message that’s unique to you. Williams’ crisp cardboard message read, “I have a God given gift of voice. I’m an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times. Please! Any help will be gratefully appreciated. Thank you and God bless. Happy holidays.”

3.       Look for opportunities to demonstrate your value proposition. Williams didn’t just hang out his cardboard sign, but he demonstrated his rich, radio-announcer delivery whenever he got a chance, and he caught Mr. Chenoweth’s attention.

4.       Follow Williams’ example and revamp your resume to make sure it has the right message that will grab attention. Notice he didn’t have a long laundry list of job descriptive statements, but a short and compelling message.

5.       Brush up on your interview skills to be ready to articulate the value you can bring to your next employer. During his subsequent TV appearances, Williams articulately demonstrated his value when asked to do impromptu voice-overs. He was ready!

6.       Never give up, even when the going gets rough. There’s light at the end of your job search tunnel.

Have you hit rock bottom in your job search? Reflect on the Ted Williams’ story, realize your circumstances are not as bad, then pick yourself up and try again!

Sharpen Your Negotiation Skills and Get the Salary You Deserve

Salary Negotiation

Salary negotiation is not an easy task for many people, but it’s even harder when you are a newcomer to a country. The case study below shows how a little bit of research and some coaching strategies led to job search success for one client.

My client and his family arrived in Canada two months ago – July 2010. We began working together months before he left Asia, and by the time he arrived, he had had his professional resume, cover letter and other related resources ready to begin his job search.

His first interview was in response to a job posting for a temporary position as Senior Research Advisor with a major Canadian institution. The position required a Masters Degree or a PhD, and he has the latter. After his second interview he was sent an email with a preliminary offer, but there was one glitch; the hourly rate was not quite what he was expecting. He asked me to help him prepare a negotiation strategy as he wanted to accept the offer, but at a higher pay rate.

I asked him to consider questions such as: What’s the minimum he would be willing to accept? What was most important to him – the money or the experience? How important would the experience be for him as he moves his career forward? What would he do if they stuck to, or withdrew the offer? I advised him to research the pay rate for similar positions so he would know where to start his negotiations. I also advised him to have a Plan B just in case they said they couldn’t raise the offer. He was also concerned about hours of work and benefits, considering it was a six-month temporary position. We brainstormed on how he would handle those issues if and when they came up. At the moment, the money was the sticky issue.

With all bases covered, I helped him to craft the following response:

Dear Mr. ________:

Thank you very much for your email indicating that you would like to offer me the temporary position of Senior Research Advisor. While it would be a privilege for me to work for ___________, and contribute my knowledge and experience to the position, I find the hourly rate of $24, lower than I had expected. Having met with me twice, I am sure you have recognized the value I would bring to __________. Would you consider raising the rate to $28? If you could do that, I would accept your offer.

Not only did they consider his request, but they offered him $30 per hour – $2 more per hour than he had asked for, and $6 more than their original offer.

Careful research, understanding his value, and a little bit of coaching helped him to ink the deal. He could easily have accepted the first offer on the basis that he was new to Canada and should take what was offered, but he did a few things right. First, he researched the salary range for similar positions. Second, he sought help, as this was a new arena for him, and third, he presented a counter-offer, knowing that his offer could be rejected.  He took a risk and his efforts paid off, and he will start his new job in two weeks.

What do you think of this approach? What additional advice would you have given him? Please add your comments below.

If Facebook Were a Country…

Whether you are a job seeker, you are in a career transition or you are an entrepreneur, it’s impossible to ignore social media these days. Career and business opportunities are aplenty via Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter, but are you taking advantage of them? If you are not already convinced, read the following stats taken from an email from John Assaraf, of OneCoach:

Did you know that…

  • If Facebook were a country, it would be third-largest in the world, and growing faster than #1 and #2 combined?
  • YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world. Every minute, 24 hours of video is uploaded to it.
  • LinkedIn is the largest network of business professionals in the world, with over 70 million users in 200 countries. 12 million of them visit daily, and a new one joins every second.
  • Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers. 96% of them have joined a social network.
  • 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations about products. Only 14% trust ads.
  • 93% of all business buyers believe all companies should be on social media platforms.

Although these questions were geared to business owners, it applies equally to job seekers and those in a career transition.  Arm yourself with the tools of the social media revolution. Test the waters and swim in the one that appeals to you. Do something, will you?

The Ups and Downs of Job Hopping

Last week I was sourced by Globe and Mail columnist, Wallace Immen, for his article on Job Hoppers Need to Look Before They Leap. Some recruiters or hiring managers will toss a resume if they notice too many short term jobs; others will be realistic and look for contributions made or value added in these positions. Although there’s a stigma attached to those who ‘job hop’, job hopping has its pros and cons.

Pros

  • It is not frowned upon as it was in the past, given the upheavals in the economy and the rippling effects on the job market.
  • It broadens one’s skill-set and makes the individual more marketable.
  • It allows the person to work in different environments and bring different perspectives of how things are done in other companies.
  • It gives the individual a wider network of people to tap into when seeking other job opportunities.

Cons

  • Because of the cost involved, employers are not going to spend time and money to hire someone they suspect will only be with them for a short time.
  • The potential employee could be seen as a bad decision-maker, a bad fit, or uncommitted, if he or she  is unable to give an explanation for the short tenure of these jobs.

It’s unfortunate that a lot of focus is placed on job seekers, because the reality is that more employers are hiring people on short-term contracts, which then contributes to higher incidences of job hopping. This common practice also breeds disloyalty as the employee develops this ‘one foot in, one foot out‘ mentality, because they know they can be laid off at any time without notice.

It is time that recruiters and hiring managers take a different approach to job hopping based on these realities and, instead, look for what each individual has accomplished during these short job stints. Job hoppers, on the other hand, who have a high performance record should ensure their resumes reflect the significant contributions they made at these different jobs. This will certainly help to divert attention from the number of jobs, to the accomplishments. Another strategy, though loathed by recruiters, is to use a functional resume format.

One thing that’s often overlooked is that job hopping is a choice for some individuals who consider themselves ‘free agents’ and who enjoy the flexibility to work from project to project then move on. What are your thoughts?

2010 FIFA World Cup & the ‘No Canadian Experience’ Myth

Imagine this…A team of professional soccer players arriving in South Africa all eager to participate in the 2010 FIFA World Cup series. On reaching the stadium they are told they cannot play because they had never played in South Africa before. In fact, they are told they do not have any “South African Experience”, notwithstanding that many of them previously played for teams such as Man U, Juventus, Ghana, Team Canada and Team USA.  What a shock! What are they to do? Some will quickly pack their bags and head back to their former teams, but others won’t have that option. They cannot return, neither can they tell their family and friends ‘back home’ that they didn’t have South African experience and therefore, could not participate in the games.

They are perplexed and start asking questions among themselves. How different can playing soccer in South Africa be from playing in the UK or Italy? Don’t they kick the ball the same way? Don’t they have goalies at opposing ends? Doesn’t each game last for 90 minutes with a break after 45 minutes? Don’t they hand out yellow and red cards for the same infractions?

The above analogy is played out time and again when many internationally-educated professionals (IEPs) arrive in Canada. Every year, Canada accepts approximately 250,000 new immigrants from all over the world, most of whom tend to settle in the MTV hubs – Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver.  Many of these newcomers are highly-educated and usually gain permanent residency status under the Independent Category, meaning they applied on their own and were not sponsored by family members. Although their educational qualifications and work experience play a huge part in determining whether or not they are approved for residency, once they arrive, these same qualifications appear to play a less significant role in helping them find good jobs. This is when they are likely to hear that they lack Canadian work experience.

Why is there a disconnect between employers and IEPs?  The reasons vary. Some IEPs come with a set of expectations only to discover a different reality. Employers, on the other hand, are not aware of what IEPs bring to the mix. They struggle to understand if a degree from India, Venezuela or Moscow is comparable to the Canadian standard. They are concerned about the inability of some IEPs to converse effectively in one or both of Canada’s two official languages. They are afraid to take a chance with someone they don’t know, and if a resume indicates that the person’s last job was in another country, it’s automatically relegated to the ‘No Canadian experience’ file.

While the discourse is taking place, Toronto is losing billions of dollars because employers are failing to tap into the IEP’s skills. A recent study by the Toronto Board of Trade states, “Economists estimate the Toronto region is losing as much as $2.25-billion annually because people are unable to get jobs in keeping with their training and qualifications, or because they find these jobs, but aren’t getting paid as much as they could be.”

The next post will shed more light on this challenging situation, look at how the needs and expectations of employers and IEPs differ, and offer some strategies to bring them closer together.

The E.A.S.Y Way to Ace Your Next Interview

As career professionals, we can learn a lot from our clients. They come to us because of their perceived belief that we have all the answers. They believe we have the expertise to help them when they are seeking a professional resume to distinguish themselves from other candidates, or when they are looking for interview coaching to help them tell their stories and get hired.  Little do they know how much they also bring to the coaching relationship and how much we learn from them.

I am coaching a young man who is interviewing for a position in law enforcement. His contact at the agency suggested he retains a Career Coach to help him prepare for the interview. After our first session and I had given him his homework assignment, he sent a note to say someone in his network heard of an E.A.S.Y. way to practice for this particular type of interview. I was intrigued! After all, I had coached other law enforcement clients before and always used the S.T.A.R. or C.A.R. interview technique. Was this something new?

When I reviewed the concept, I found out it operates on the same premise as the C.A.R. technique we had agreed to practice. Now, we wouldn’t have to ditch our original plan, except that we would now be working with a different acronym – E.A.S.Y.Event, Action, Step taken and Yield (or Outcome). Once we got that straightened out, it was easy to get back on track to prepare for the next session.

If you are a job seeker and would like to ace your next interview, or you are a career coach and would like to incorporate another acronym into your interview coaching toolkit, it’s E.A.S.Y. :

E – Event:                           What event did you face?

A – Action:                         What did you do?

S – Step taken:                  What steps were involved?

Y – Yield:                            What did you get? What was the outcome?

So, Miss or Mr. Job-Seeker, the next time you are preparing for your interview, suggest to your coach that you use the E.A.S.Y. way to tell your success stories and get hired.

What are your thoughts? Please leave your comments below.