Career Calling

September 13, 2015

Employer Computers, Phones, and Your Job Search

 

I was reading a local publication in which a job coach was giving people advice on when and how to use employer resources during a job search.  My approach is different:  Never use an employer-owned computer, tablet, or phone as part of your job search.  In many states, including Illinois, an employer can fire you if it learns that you’re looking for another job.  Does that every happen?  Rarely — but it can happen.  More likely, an employer who knows that you’re looking for work would make your life miserable and try to make you quit.

What’s the solution?  Never use an employee-owned device for you job search.  Purchase a computer and phone that you can use for private matters.  Another reason to do this is ethical.  Put yourself in the employer’s place:  How would you feel if an employee were using your devises and paying for service that lets you look for another employer?  A final thing to think about, if you were terminated without notice, what would you do to keep your job search going.  You’d have to buy a phone and computer.  Start by doing that, and you’ll have no worries about what your employer will do.

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September 1, 2015

Going Back to an Old Employer

 

Bloomberg is reporting on the rise of a new phenomenon, boomerang employees who return to former employers. The article cites a survey of 1,800 HR professionals, managers, and employees that indicates that 76% employers are more likely to rehire former employees. Other surveys show that one of employers’ biggest concerns right now is retention. These surveys are further indicators that the hiring market is changing in workers’ favors.

If you’re looking for a new job and have good relationships with a former employer, it might be a good place to look for an opportunity. They know you, and you know them. If you don’t like an offer, you can always look somewhere else. Sometimes it’s good to be a boomerang.

Keeping a Job Search Focused and Targeted

 

One of my clients called me to ask about her job search. Mary (not her real name) has not looked for work for more than 10 years. One source of her frustration was the time it took to fill out applications on line. Unfortunately, there are no short cuts if you wish to apply on line. I talked to Mary about budgeting her time and not trying to do too much in one day.

Mary was also doing something that hurt her chances of getting hired. I asked her to give me a sample of the jobs she was applying for. 70% were in line with the focus of her resume, which was administrative support. The problem was that 30% were for positions that Mary was not qualified for. She has done some work in meeting planning and editing, but neither of those functions has been her primary duty. When she applies for jobs in those areas, she wasting her time and increasing the frustration that is part of every job search.

We talked about how to keep her job search focused on the kinds of job for which she is most qualified. It’s hard enough to find a job. It gets much more difficult when we begin pitching resumes and applications at any job. After Mary focused her job search, she began getting called to interviews. After about a month, she had a new job.

August 17, 2015

Make Time to Take the Next Step

 

I have a client who is very anxious to leave his current job. He works 60 hours a week and is grossly underpaid. He called me this week to discuss his job search. His problem is not uncommon: How can I find time to look for work?

In addition to his professional duties, my client and his wife have three young children. When he’s not working, he’s often driving a child to some sporting event or a sleep over. He also helps his wife with upkeep of the house, cleaning and cooking. He feels trapped and sees no way out.

I worked with him to set up a schedule for his job search. It’s not set in stone from day to day or week to week, but the target is to devote 10-15 hours each week to finding a new job. Some weeks he many only put 5 hours toward his goal. Other weeks, it might be 20 or even 25 hours. We also set a goal of 5-10 significant actions per week. This means applying for jobs, networking calls, or networking at industry events.

In most cases, the job won’t find you. It takes time, effort, and patience to make the transition, especially if you’re going to find the kind of job you really want. Hold yourself accountable. Track your time and what you are doing. If you are consistent and focused in your job search, your chances of landing the kind of job you want are very good. The first step is to manage your time and make it work for you.

July 23, 2015

Regret as a Job Search Anchor

 

When I’ve encountered a client who is stuck in her job search, the problem is almost always that she is stuck in the past. Rather than focusing on the future, such people frequently fixate on why they were let go from a job. For others, they are still employed at a bad job. They say they want something new, but do little to make it happen. Instead, they waste their time reliving what went wrong, imagining a world that will never be.

In a recent article in Psychology Today, Peg O’Connor, a professor of philosophy at Gustavus Adolphus College, points to two words that kill our progress: “If only.” When we use those words, we’re getting lost in regrets rather than looking forward and working to make things better. O’Connor does say that some people can use this word to change their behaviors. However, for most people, “if only” is a waste of time and energy. It’s a much better strategy to set a goal for where you want to be and work hard to achieve that goal. As Satchel Paige put it, “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.”

 

May 12, 2015

Put Your Assets before Deficits

I recently met someone who spent ten years managing a small organization.  He had to leave the position after suffering a stroke.  Now, after two years of rehab, he’s ready to go back to work full time.  During his recovery, he was able to work part time as a consultant.  The gap in his resume is short, not significant.  Still, his first question to me was, “How do I deal with my deficit, my health condition?”

My advice was to flip the coin:  Demonstrate your strengths.  I definitely think we all need to be able to answer questions about our weaknesses, but we should spend twice or three times as much time thinking about our strengths.  I told the man who was worried about his health issues to start with these two questions:

1.  Why are you good at what you do?

2.  How will you bring value to the employer who is interviewing you?

No one will ever be hired because of their deficits.  We need to be able to put potential employers at ease about them, but it’s more important to know and promote your assets.  Practice interviewing by focusing on your assets and strengths, not your deficits and weaknesses.

February 5, 2015

The Most Important Question in Getting a New Job

 

“What can you do for me?”

That’s what employers really want to know when they are hiring a new employee. Too often job seekers worry so much about what they’ve done – and haven’t done – in the past that they don’t answer the employer’s big question. In writing your resume and presenting yourself at an interview, stay focused on what the employer needs. How do you know what the employer needs? Look carefully at the job post, and adapt your resume to the requirements and qualifications. Before going on an interview, look at the job post again. Ask yourself: Why will I be an asset to the company? Show how your strengths will make you the best candidate. No employer will hire you just because of what you did in the past. They will hire you because of what you can do for them. Answer the question:

“What can you do for me?”

 

January 14, 2015

Imagination and the Job Search

Albert Einstein said:  “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

This quotation made me think about the advice I give as a career coach.  Knowledge is vital.  As job seekers, we need to know our skills and strengths, our industries, and potential employers?  But, to play with the famous words of Donald Rumsfeld:  “How do we know what we don’t know?”  That’s where imagination comes in.  When we’re stuck and don’t know what else to do, that’s a good time to start thinking about new ideas, time to get creative.  Imagination lets us find new ways to approach employers, find job openings, and network more effectively.

Here’s a simple way to engage your imaginative power.  Take a blank page, give yourself 15 minutes of quiet time, and write down all the new ideas that come to your head.  Don’t worry about how the ideas sound or if you are using correct grammar.  No one will see this page but you.  Repeat this exercise whenever you get stuck.  Sometimes you might end up with a blank page.  That’s part of the process, and you should not worry about it.  If you let your mind wander and discover, it will lead you to new paths.  That’s how geniuses like Albert Einstein achieved wonders that no one had imagined before.

January 13, 2015

Don’t Waste Your Time Looking Backward

 

Nothing hurts worse than being rejected, and it happens all the time during a job search. Nicolle Pelletiere of Good Morning America reports on Amanda Mester, a job seeker who edited a poorly written rejection letter and sent it back to the employer. Mester says that she wanted the company to follow proper grammar rules. She also posted her message on Twitter, where some commentators said she was jeopardizing her career. I wouldn’t go that far. Some employers might see this action as an indicator of a bad attitude. Others might see it as a sign of an employee with good communications skills, attention to detail, and a sense of humor.

My problem with what Mester did is that she is looking backward. Her response to the company and tweet did nothing to move her career forward. I advise clients to give rejection letters the time they are worth: none. Getting hired is a numbers game. It takes time, positive energy, and much patience. Use your time to network and apply for new opportunities. Look back only to look forward.

 

December 26, 2014

Look for a Good Employer

 

If you are looking for a new job, you might want to consider how a company is rated by its current employers. Last month, The Chicago Tribune published its annual list of best places to work in metro Chicago. This list offers great information on small, medium, and large employers. I recommend that you follow these companies and jobs they have available. Salary is always an important factor, but it’s just as important to be at a place where workers are happy. Check out the Tribune’s list, and you might find an employer who will make your new year very happy.

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