Have you been looking for a new job for some time, only to repeatedly get turned down? Or worse yet, apply and apply online only to hear nothing? I’ll warn you up front that this is a longer than usual blog, but I hope you find it valuable.
The length of time it takes to get a job is getting longer. I read an article in US News & World Report that explains why. There are many factors, and for those who have not been in the job market for some time, it’s a difficult reality. More people in the market, more reliance on technology, longer interviewing cycles, and the list goes on. Read the article to get some great insights.
I’ve coached hundreds of job seekers. Most land jobs fairly quickly due to experience and skills that are in high demand. They are the lucky ones. For the rest, not so much. Whether it’s a specific skill that’s not currently in demand, your length of time unemployed, or any number of mitigating circumstances, it can be difficult to land that next great job.
One of the biggest obstacles I’ve seen is the inability or refusal to take a good long look in the mirror. If you are educated, highly skilled, have recent work experience, but are still not landing jobs; there could very well be something you are overlooking. Here are a few that I’ve seen many times.
RESUME. Yes, it all starts here with the resume. You think you have a great one. People like ‘the way it looks’. But, remember, the resume is about telling the EMPLOYER what THEY need to know about you. People get very attached to their resumes, their stories. They want to include EVERYTHING, resulting in a 4-page monster. Keep it simple. Include only what’s pertinent for the job you seek. Make it easy for THEM to read and make them want to learn more about you. The resume’s job is to get you invited in for an interview. Don’t leave it all to paper. Only you can tell your story best!
NETWORK. You’ve been working hard for years, thinking your job is secure or you are simply happy where you are at, so you’ve neglected your network. Bad idea. You should ALWAYS keep your network alive. Be available to help others. You never know when the shoe will be on the other foot. Grow your network on LinkedIn. Having a large and healthy network can SIGNIFICANTLY reduce the length of your search. People like hiring referrals.
INTERVIEW. Ok, let’s get real. You’re getting interviews. Yay! That means your network and your resume are working for you! You’ve passed the first two steps. But why are you the one getting the email telling you that while you were a strong candidate, they’ve gone with another candidate? The reality may be the competition was internal, or someone’s friend, but the stark truth may simply be that you aren’t interviewing well. There is an art to interviewing. It takes work, practice, and confidence. If you aren’t doing all three, you’re like to continue getting those emails. Practice your stories, review the job description, read up on the company, PREPARE GOOD QUESTIONS. Figure you’ll spend several hours preparing for each interview.
APPLICANT TRACKING SYSTEMS. This has become an ugly term to many job seekers. An applicant tracking system is a software package that allows companies to filter through hundreds of resumes and applications online. The numbers vary, but in general, if your resume is not at least an 80% match to the criteria assigned by the employer, no human eyes will ever see your resume. Don’t rely on sitting at home behind your computer to land a job. Get out. Network. Ask for informational interviews! If you think sitting at home will land you your next job, you’re in for a very long search.
JOB FIT. Sure, there are jobs out there that you’d love to do, that are sexy or interesting. But be real. Do you have the skills and experience to support your candidacy? If not, you will pale in comparison with the hundreds of other applicants to do have what’s needed. If you really want to change careers, be prepared to do the work required. That might be to go back to school, or do an internship to gain some real experience. Do not expect a company to hire you because you ‘know you can do the job’. They need evidence to back you up.
RESEARCH. You can’t expect companies to hire you simply because you are skilled. Companies are hiring you to help THEM make their business a success. You aren’t doing them a favor, and last time I checked, companies weren’t doing that for you. Do your research. Find out WHY you want to work for them. Culture? Pay? Mission or Values? Technology? Take the time to have this answer. If you don’t, I’ll guarantee you your competition does.
The point is, if you’re not getting interviews or if you’re not winning the job, stop and look in the mirror. What is missing? What aren’t you doing? If you can’t figure it out, seek advice – from a trusted friend, a professional, an advisor. The right job IS out there for you. Once you figure out what the obstacle is and resolve it, nothing will stop you and you WILL land that perfect job!
Read this article today out of San Diego on networking. Good information.
I've been reading and hearing a lot about employee engagement recently. It pleases me to see so much attention focused on what I've long believed to be an important factor in an organization's success. One article I read from 2014 in Forbes discussed the issue of what employee engagement really is. Gallup shared an article in April, 2015 on Manager engagement. Recently, there have been a flood of posts on LinkedIn about the topic. So, what is it, is it important to your business, and how do you make it happen?
So, what is employee engagement? Businessdictionary.com defines it as: Emotional connection an employee feels toward his or her employment organization, which tends to influence his or her behaviors and level of effort in work related activities. The more engagement an employee has with his or her company, the more effort they put forth.
I concur. Whether or not your employees are engaged has a significant impact on your organization's success. Survey after survey has proven this. I've even experienced being both an engaged and a disengaged employee. I know first hand how much more I care and produce for a company with which I feel a connection. When I'm engaged, I WANT to do my best work for my organization. By the same token, when disengaged, I clearly felt myself slipping into the apathetic realm. It's not a great place to be and I didn't stay there long.
So, how do you make it happen in your organization? One way I've worked with organizations to improve employee engagement is through action learning. The process of action learning is deceptively simple. There are just two rules: 1) You can only make a statement in response to a question and 2) The action learning coach has the authority to intervene for learning and process interventions. When brought together to resolve a problem, this process fosters sharing of ideas among ALL members of the team, creating more innovative solutions that evolve from the collective wisdom of the team. Through this, members develop trust among each other, respect and value are increased, and the successful and creative solutions that result create a shared sense of accomplishment. This is a real experience, solving a real problem with real solutions. No team-building exercise or role-play situation can energize a group better. And, when employees share this kind of success and see their ideas come to light, their engagement skyrockets. Give it a try. You'll see amazing results!
Pavarotti was someone who LOVED his work. I always got the sense that he was doing just exactly what he wanted to do. He knew his gift, he knew what pleasure it brought to others, and that brought him great joy. Does that describe your work life? Do you LOVE what you do? Does it bring you and others joy?
I read an article recently by Nancy Werteen that speaks to this very topic. In her article, she speaks to the subject of doing work you love, that allows you to take the big step and make your career one of joy and satisfaction. How often have you heard someone say, "I hate Mondays" or "I dread going to work every day". Most of us have something we'd love to be doing. Many of us spend a lot of time thinking about it. But just thinking. That was me for several years. But slowly, over time, I came to see that there was no choice. Taking that risk, making the move, BELIEVING in what I knew, in my core, was my true vocation, was the only choice I had.
My tagline is 'Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It'. It's at the heart of my work with clients. I believe everyone has a sense of what they'd really like to do with their lives. Often, when meeting with a client working through this challenge, I'll ask, "If money, education, all obstacles were removed, what would you do with your life?" It may be a challenge to answer that question, but I believe you can come up with an answer. And that answer can lead you to the freedom they seek. Yes, freedom. When you've found the work you want to do, that makes you leap out of bed every day eager to get to work, it doesn't feel like work. It makes you happy and being happy, contributes to your wellness. I know many people like myself, who LOVE their work and the joy and satisfaction it gives them. We all know what contributes to wellness: a healthy diet, exercise, and less stress. The latter is where being in the right job for you can really have an impact. If you're not stressed from work, you sleep better, you avoid binge eating from frustration, you might even avoid that after work alcoholic beverage. In other words, if you love your work and you're happy doing it, it can have a very beneficial impact on your wellness.
I love this idea of career wellness. So, how does one get there? Werteen's article spells out the starting touch points well, so I won't repeat them here. What I would like to share are the first steps that I think are critical to getting started.
1. Skills. What is it you do well? What is the work that would involve that skill? Spend the time simply collecting your thoughts, writing them down and taking inventory.
2. Values. If your work is not aligned with your values, you will never be happy, content, or successful. So take the time to identify your top 5-10 values. Those that are key to who you are and how you want to live your life. Your work life should match the values you hold for your personal life. They are NOT independent of one another.
3. Workstyle. What is your preferred workstyle? Alone? In a team? At home? In an office? These are all very important things to know about yourself. Do you like to work evenings, weekends or a regular 9-5?
4. Lifestyle. What? We're talking lifestyle while we're talking work? Absolutely! If it's important to you that you are home evenings with your family, or have time mid-day to work out, or anything else that is key to your happiness, you want to ensure the work you choose doesn't get in the way. So, yes, take your lifestyle into account. If you love living in the country, how can you find a way to work that allows you to do that?
So, start there. Figure out these essential elements of who you are. If you struggle with these tasks, find a career coach. We all have assessment tools we use to help you collect your thoughts, review them and we'll help you figure out your answers.
Once you have this information, it will lead you to the next step of determining what you should do with the rest of your life. For to do so, you'll have your work aligned with your life, you'll do better work, you'll be happier, and those around you will benefit.
Are you seeking a new job? Each month I host a MeetUp group where people can network and help each other in their search for a new career. I hope you'll join us this coming Monday in Seattle at 6:00pm. Please click HERE for details and to RSVP.
You're looking for a new job and you're trying your best to figure out which tools are best for your job search. You already know you don't have time to tend them all. Just as it's important to narrow the focus of the kinds of jobs you want, it's important to narrow the number of online sites you use for your search. I regularly recommend the following sites for my clients. Sure, there are many, many to choose from, and other coaches may have their preferences, but these are mine. I've chosen these based on three factors: they are all free, I have clients with proven success with them, and they are easy to use.
1. LinkedIn.com. LinkedIn is THE tool for your search, hands down, no argument. Create a strong profile and use the system regularly and frequently. This is your public facing resume. Recruiters use LinkedIn, reportedly, 95% of the time to find great candidates. Be sure you're there, with a great brand, and easily found! I'll be writing a blog in the coming week on best tips for your LinkedIn profile. Using the Advanced Job Search allows to you to find jobs AND who you may know in your network who has a connection there. Remember, MOST people get their next job through a personal connection, not an online job application. Like most sites, you can set up a feed for daily emails with new job listings.
2. Glassdoor.com. Glassdoor has most of the information you want to know about a company. I like to describe it as the Wikipedia of job searching. People contribute information from jobs they have had in the past based on their personal experience. This includes company reviews, salaries, and job interviews. It also includes current job openings. Want to know about a company's culture? Salaries? All of this can be found. Like most sites, you can set up a feed for daily emails with new job listings.
3. Indeed.com. Hands down the #1 tool for looking for a job posting. Indeed is an aggregate of most online job posting sites, allowing you to a single point to search. Like most sites, you can set up a feed for daily emails with new job listings.
4. Simplyhired.com. Another site for job listings that many of my clients have preferred, and have been able to find jobs not listed on the other sites.
5. Salary.com. This is a great source of salary information. Been in your job a long time and not sure what your market rate is? Or new to a profession and curious what you can expect? This site can help you identify average salaries for your level and chosen profession. This is a critical piece of knowledge from the very beginning of your search, through to negotiations!
6. Angel.co. Interested in start ups? This is the site for you. Angel lists start up jobs across North America.
7. USAJOBS.gov. Interested in working for the federal government? This is the central job posting/application site for all federal jobs.
8. Snagajob.com. This website is dedicated to hourly employees, a nice niche in my eyes. Works much like the other sites, but focuses just on hourly positions.
9. Jobscan.co. (yes, just .co, and not .com) This is another site you must explore! You get 5 free uses of this site. Jobscan allows you to test your resume against a job description to estimate how your resume will rank against other candidates. You simply copy/paste your resume in one window and the job description in the other and click Analyze. Shoot for 80% or higher. It will tell you what key words are missing from your resume. Remember, your network is the way to get your next job, but it's still good to get your resume past the applicant tracking system!
10. JibberJobber.com. No, this is not an animated toy. This is a free tool to keep your job search organized. It tracks your contacts, emails, applications, etc. Some clients have loved it, while others did not, so take a look and make your own assessment. I know when I was in the job search, I could have used something like this!
That's it. My top 10. Check each one out, and I'd love to hear your thoughts as well as sites not listed here that you prefer. Maybe I'll include them in the 2nd edition of this list!
Andrea's passion is to see you achieve your professional dreams. Whether you are a corporate leader seeking leadership development for your employees or an individual seeking guidance in building your career or preparing for retirement, she will coach you to success.