Time to Re-Assess?
December 13, 2010
At some point in your job search you need to assess or re-assess your basic assumptions.
These are issues that effect your whole family but whether you are working and looking for something new or unemployed and frustrated that you haven’t found anything, you need to consider your options.
These assumptions are often the toughest to change, particularly as you get older.
For example, are you in the right field. Yes, you may have been working in an area for many years, but is it a growth area. Is it really the best option for new jobs. Is your chosen field expanding or it it the modern version of the buggy whip maker?
It might be tough to leave your field but you need to consider the skills you have and how they might be applied to another job. That’s why your resume needs to reflect your skills, not just your experience.
It’s also good to consider moving to another part of the country or at least expanding your search to areas which might require more of a commute. It’s no secret that not every part of the country has suffered equally in the recession. Maybe you should consider moving.
For example, Silicon Valley, south of San Francisco has been hurt just as badly as other parts of the country. But a recent Justice Department agreement on employee poaching, along with the maturing of major firms such as Google and Facebook, has created a lot more openings. Many people are openly shopping themselves and the resulting turnover will make 2011 a hiring hotbed in the area.
Do you need more training to switch fields or just improve your skills. You may not need to consider an advanced degree – although it’s not a bad idea if you can afford it – but certification programs and community college courses can introduce you to new careers or add skills to your resume.
These decisions should not be made in a vacuum since they impact the whole family, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t even consider talking things over before charting a new course.
Perhaps an even more serious issue, which I’ve touched on in previous posts, is assuming your family would be opposed to an alternative – like moving – before you even bring the idea up. Just don’t wait until you’ve gotten an interview opportunity from a company two states away, to talk about the issue.
That’s just not fair and is a recipe for disaster on a personal level.
Regardless of what stage of your job search you are in, it’s always a good time to re-assess.
Wikileaks and Coaching
December 9, 2010
I think one of the qualities that a coach brings to clients is the ability to see an issue from different perspectives. I was thinking about that as I read the continuing saga of Wikileaks.
What you think about the actions of Wikileaks leader Julian Assange depends on your perspective
Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of state, says the release of the confidential cables from State Department files, puts people in danger and harms the nation’s diplomatic efforts.
Many journalists see the release of the State Department cables as a freedom of speech issue, adding that Mrs. Clinton is just trying to deflect attention from the security of the State Department computer system.
Other journalists say it harms their work because the leaks have reduced the trust they built up with national security sources.
Many diplomats, worried about the security of their communication system, say it will make their memos less honest because they fear the information may become public.
World leaders are also split, depending on how they are pictured. Most of the descriptions are not flattering particularly when it comes to the personal peccadilloes portrayed.
Arab leaders, particularly in Saudi Arabia, are embarrassed because they are seen ‘begging’ the United States to do things they can’t admit they want done. (like attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.)
Iran thinks the memos, all 250,000 pages, are just fabrications.
Many pundits, both in the US and out, say most of the information wasn’t that valuable but at least the papers show that the United States does know what’s really going on it the world, an that’s probably a good thing.
So, is there a ‘coach-able moment’ here? I guess, next time you have a decision to make, be sure to consider as many perspectives as you can. The real truth depends on your perspective.
Tough Time for Job Hunters
December 6, 2010
If you’re looking for a job, December is a tough month. If you are among the 9.8% of the workforce counted as unemployed or the 17% that is under-employed you can’t help but be a bit depressed by the thought of trying to stretch what income you have, to buy presents.
If you’ve been out of work for a while, you now have to worry about losing unemployment benefits. (although it appears Washington politicians have worked out a compromise today) It’s tough to stay optimistic about the upcoming job-hunting season.
But, now is the time to summon whatever optimism you can and start working on possible strategies. Even if you think you’ve tried every method you could think of , it’s time to start again.
It’s a good idea to at least question your underlying assumptions on a regular basis. Basics such as career fields, location, pay level, or training should all be re-assessed regularly.
A few suggestions might be in order.
Try not to use the New Year as an excuse to wait a few more weeks. Traditionally few companies do much hiring around the holidays. It used to be that they didn’t do many layoffs either, but the pressure for quarterly results has ended that and the public relations disaster of being the Grinch who stole Christmas doesn’t seem to worry most companies. As a result, there’s a lot more movement this time of year.
Also, if you call now and the hiring administrator puts you off until January, that’s one step closer than calling in January and getting put off until February.
This is the time of year when most firms are doing their planning for the year ahead so they will know about possible openings.
Except for retail, things can be pretty slow for many businesses. Yes, that can lead to some “out of office’ replies on emails, but it can also give employers more time to get to know you.
While holiday parties and get-togethers can be uncomfortable when everyone asks what you’re doing, force yourself to go. It’s just networking with eggnog. Try not to turn down invitations because you’re embarrassed, you need to be out in public so people know you’re still looking.
I’ll repeat what you already know – 75% of jobs are not filled through the formal application process and more than half of the jobs are never advertised. Taking advantage of your network contacts can help you get an introduction, find out about a job or even meet someone who does the hiring. You never know what ‘friend of a friend’ might be helpful.
If you haven’t already, learn how to use online networking. It doesn’t cost anything to join Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn or any of the hundreds of other social media sites. Learn how to find school classmates and old friends. And find out how to use groups to broaden your list of contacts.
Don’t be bashful about telling people you are looking. How else will they find out. Your profile is your resume.
Finally participate in online forums in your field and consider starting your own blog so that potential employers can get to know you better. But don’t just ramble on about current events, comment on issues in your field. Avoid politics at all costs.
It’s tough to sugarcoat job hunting, and it’s tough to be optimistic, but you have to remind yourself that your attitude comes through to everyone you meet, so you’re better of believing that your new job is just around the corner.
What to Wear
The Boston Globe had a nice photo feature recently on what to wear to an interview.
The only thing I would add is the reminder that 85% of communication is non-verbal and clothes are definitely a key.
And secondly, you have to remember where you are interviewing, but even in Silicon Valley, where businesses casual is sometimes taken to a whole new level, it’s better to be over-dressed than the alternative.
That being said, I have to admit that the wrong clothes or hair style is not always a disaster. I can remember interviewing a candidate whose wardrobe and physical appearance raised more a few eyebrows as she walked through the newsroom to my office. Her resume looked great and once we started talking she clearly knew new her stuff. She was personable, knowledgeable, friendly, inquisitive and understood the news.
I considered the rather conservative environment of my newsroom and hired her on the spot. I thought a little disruption might be good. turned out I was right. She did a fine job.
But being unconventional often means you have to work extra hard in other areas to get your message across. You may not always be successful.
Take a look at the photos on the Globe website, some of which are over-dramatized to make a point, and take a look at what you wore to your last interview. If there’s any similarity – you might want to make a change.