Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Helpful, Miscellaneous Job Search Tips

Since April, Judi Adams of RightChanges “The Affordable Job Search Coach” has been publishing lengthy articles on essential topics related to the new job market. There are miscellaneous tips, however, that do not rate an entire article by themselves so we have been accumulating them to publish together. Here you go:

How to handle an unexpected phone screen or phone interview

You worked hard to network into the company and when you least expect it you get a phone call from a company representative to ask you a few questions. Some job seekers make the mistake of taking the call unprepared because they are concerned if they don’t speak right then, they will not get the chance again. This can be a fatal

Human Resource representatives and recruiters realize that if they call without an appointment, you may be in the middle of something. It is totally acceptable to say (without elaborating) that you welcome the chance to talk with them and propose alternate times asking which works best. Even if you are not in the middle of something, this will give you time to organize your materials and thoughts and get to a quiet room where you can talk without background noises. You will interview better with that moment of preparation.

Another use for your business cards

Personal / job search business cards are an essential job seeker’s marketing tool especially for networking. Even once you are employed you should have personal
business cards available as you continue to network.

If you want to change information on the card such as job title or brand statement, you may wonder what you can do with the old cards. If the contact information is still current consider using the extra cards this way: place a card in every pocket of your luggage and briefcase. Even if your luggage tag gets separated from your luggage during transit, the airline will have the information they need to reunite you with your valuables.

A great resource for identifying your target companies

If you live in one of the following metro areas, you have the great fortune to have a BizJournal as an invaluable source of information on what is happening in the businesses in your locale. Job seekers should subscribe or visit a local library and read cover to cover this weekly journal to find out what businesses are moving to town or starting a new project. If you are considering relocation to one of these cities, the BizJournal is a great source of information.

BizJournal publications:

Albany, NY
The Business Review (Albany)
New Mexico Business Weekly
Atlanta Business Chronicle
Austin Business Journal
Baltimore Business Journal
Birmingham Business Journal
Boston Business Journal
Business First
Charlotte Business Journal
Business Courier
Business First
Dallas Business Journal
Dayton Business Journal
Denver Business Journal
The Business Journal
Houston Business Journal
Jacksonville Business Journal
Kansas City
Kansas City Business Journal
Business First
Memphis Business Journal
The Business Journal
Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal
Nashville Business Journal
Orlando Business Journal
Pacific Business News
Philadelphia Business Journal
Phoenix Business Journal
Portland Business Journal
Raleigh / Triangle
Triangle Business Journal
Sacramento Business Journal
San Antonio
San Antonio Business Journal
San Francisco
San Francisco Business Times
San Jose
Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal
Puget Sound Business Journal
South Fla
South Florida Business Journal
St. Louis
St. Louis Business Journal
Tampa Bay Business Journal
Washington Business Journal
Wichita Business Journal

Another resource that is invaluable for identifying your target companies is the Book of Lists. BizJournal and other business publications (like Crains in Chicago) compile and publish on an annual basis a list of all companies in a metro area grouped by various categories. Job seekers should read this book cover to cover and list companies that are of interest to research further as possible target companies.

The following is a list of the available Book of Lists:

East Bay
El Paso
Grand Rapids
Kansas City
Las Vegas
Los Angeles
Minneapolis/St. Paul
New Brunswick
New Orleans
New York
Oklahoma City
Orange County
San Antonio
San Diego
San Fernando Valley
San Francisco
San Jose
Santa Barbara
Santa Rosa
South Florida
St. Louis
Tampa Bay
Washington DC
Western Michigan
White Plains

Make the most of these resources in your job search.

Naming your e-mail attachments

Too often job seekers name the resume and cover letter documents for their convenience without consideration for the person receiving the documents or what the name used may communicate.

Consider the following real file names: (note: MyName is the person’s name)

Resume1.doc – Hiring managers get thousands of documents with this exact name making it hard to store electronically

Resu.doc – Resu was not part of the person’s name. Were they too lazy to even spell out the word resume?

TheRightManager.doc – too cheesy

MyNameOct12007 – It may be handy to you to have the date you revised or posted the resume however, on the resume it indicates how long you have been looking. It will end up being your expiration date.

MyNameVersion99.doc –version 99 indicates the person has gone through a lot of revisions and is not confident with the resume.

Naming the file using your name, the job title, and the word “resume” in any order is a safe way to go. Be careful when abbreviating words such as assistant so you don’t spell something unintentionally.

A step toward corporate independence

One of the truths about the new job market is that your next job will not be your last; you will be on the job market again. The job market has gone the way of the home phone. In the past, the phone was hard wired in the house and there was usually only one phone that served the entire house. Today, if there is a home phone, it is modular and there is an outlet in every room. You plug the phone into the outlet, it works well and if needed you unplug it and plug it into another outlet where it works equally well. This is an analogy for the new job market. No longer do people have only one company or job. It is estimated that in today’s job market, people will have 4 careers and 18 different jobs in their life.

One of the aspects of corporate life that makes the transition harder and more complicated is benefits. If an employee or family member has a preexisting condition, the employee may feel handcuffed to the company. Since longevity at a company is now not as likely, and as companies are cutting back on benefits such as pension plans and 401K company match, employees have already started creating their own retirement plans. Everyone should consider going one step further and get independent life and health insurance. Do not let dependence on company benefits keep you from making a move that benefits you, your career, and family.

It can be the little things that make or break your job search or make you more productive. If you have other ideas and are willing to share them for possible publication by RightChanges, send them to

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Truths About the New Job Market

One of the first things a job seeker must do in finding a new job is to understand how the job market has changed. Most job seekers quickly learn that the market is different; they just don’t take the time to understand the ways in which it has changed and what they must do to be successful in it.

Entering the job market without an awareness of the changes is like walking into a dark room and being told to go to the other side. You can’t even see your hand in front of your face so you surely can’t see where the other side of the room is, less how to get there. Most job seekers stumble around in the dark and, although they are working as hard as they can, they are getting nowhere.

Understanding the new truths about the job market is like turning on a light in that room. Although it is not a place you want to spend a lot of time, you can see where you are going, avoid the obstacles along the way, and you can get where you are going faster.

Here are some of the major changes that make up the new job market.

1) The day of the gold watch retirement is over

In the past, companies rewarded loyal employees who performed well with assurances of a job and retirement benefits.

Fast forward to today: Most companies are no longer rewarding longevity with pension plans; many are even discontinuing the company match for 401K plans. Industries that have never done so before are laying off people and even good performers are being “right sized” or “downsized” purely for financial reasons.

2) Your next job will not be your last

In the past anyone who changed jobs every 2-3 years was considered a job hopper and not favored for employment. Today, anyone who has worked for one company for over 10 years is at a disadvantage. The belief today is that the skills and experiences of anyone with that type of longevity with a single company are probably limited.

When asked what one word of advice he would have for recent graduates, a famous author recently said ”Do not spend 5 years getting 2 years worth of experience”. The new statistic being quoted is that most people will have 4 careers and 18 different jobs in their lifetimes.

Consider the home phone as an analogy for the job market. Your grandparents or great grandparents probably had only one phone in the house hard-wired in a central location such as the kitchen or at the bottom of the stairs. If the phone was ripped out of the wall, it would leave a hole in the wall and loose wires.

Today, if there is a home phone, it is modular and there is an outlet in every room. You plug the phone into the outlet and when needed, you can cleanly unplug it and plug it in elsewhere. In the new job market, you plug into your new job, you work well, and you unplug cleanly when the time is right, leaving nothing behind, and cleanly plug into another company and work well there.

3) Although not a new approach, networking is THE way to find and land a job.

Networking has always been a successful approach to finding a job. In the past though, responding to ads in the paper also worked.

Today it is rare to find a newspaper job advertisement since most companies have their own on-line job boards. There are also hundreds if not thousands of general and industry specific job boards. The job seeker needs to understand, though, that only 15% of the available jobs are listed. 85% of the available jobs make up the “hidden” job market and cannot be found on any of the job boards.

It is through networking that job seekers will find the hidden job market and it is through networking that a job seeker will be able to stand out from other job seekers who just mailed in their resumes.

4) Credentials are not sufficient, STARs are needed as well

In landing the next job, it is not only important what education and certificates you have, it is also important to be able to communicate your previous accomplishments and abilities using the details of actual stories (STARs). Find out the problem the company is looking to solve by hiring the right person and use your STARs to state what you bring to address that need.

We were not asked if we wanted the changes that have occurred to the job market; they just happened. To survive and thrive, job seekers must adapt and the first step to adapting is to understand how the market has changed.

Written by: Judi Adams, founder and senior job search coach of RightChanges, “The Affordable Job Search Coach”.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

When You Can’t Find Something – You Change Your Perspective: Try it With Your Job Search Too

Remember back to a time when you dropped something small onto the floor. If you didn’t see it immediately, you changed your perspective to see if you could find it looking at a different angle. Your efforts are usually met with success. Try it with the job search, too. If you can’t find a job using the same old approach, change your perspective and you may find it.

Here are some different perspectives to consider:
Assess the new rules. I don’t have to tell you that this job market is different than ever before. The important point is that you find out how the new job market works and how to navigate in it. Don’t try to fake it or use the same old approaches.

One of the truths of the new job market is that your next job will not be your last; you will be on the job market again. Therefore you want to be good at finding a job. Learn to do it correctly now and learn what you have to do once you are employed to make the next transition easier.

For more information you will want to read RightChanges’ July article “The Truth You Need to Know but May Not Want to Hear” and the August article “Action Items Once You are Employed”.

Assess your attitude. Is your body language telling prospective employers not to hire you? If you don’t have a positive attitude it will show in your body language, your word choice, or the energy you need to conduct a job search.

Body Language: Communication is 85% non-verbal. You can say all of the right things. If you have a bad attitude your body or tone will give you away. Attitude is a choice. You must process the loss, go through the various stages of grieving, then get to the stage where you accept the loss and look forward to the opportunity before you.

Word Choice: The word “but” means everything said before this point is not true. Did you know the word “why” has a negative connotation? It makes the recipient feel they have to justify themselves. There are ways to word the same idea without using these and other words that are considered negative.

Energy: In the job search you will hear “no” or worse silence. You don’t want to start in a hole by starting out with a negative attitude.

Get help with pressure points (keeping the roof over the head, food on the table, and the car in the drive way). You can’t find a job if you have life issues in the way.

Did you know there is a phone number dedicated to helping those who need it? We have 911 for police and fire. We have 411 for information. Here in GA we have 511 for traffic updates. The phone number 211 is the United Way. When you dial that number, they will ask for your zip code and the type of assistance you need. There is a network of resources plugged in to help. Don’t wait until it’s too late because it will limit the options that are available. Since all of us will be on the job market again, there is no shame in being unemployed. There is no shame is asking for help when you need it. Many of us give to the United Way so it’s there to help when there is a need. The Department of Labor knows of other resources that can help as well.

Assess your accomplishments & abilities. Do you know and can you articulate why a company would benefit by hiring you? What makes you unique and better than your competition? Are there gaps in your skills making you less marketable that you can address while you are in transition?

For more information you will want to read RightChanges’ April article “You Have to Know You to Sell You” and the June article “The Power of Your STAR Statements.” “Mandatory Requirements are Not Always Mandatory” published in May illustrates how your previous accomplishments can help overcome obstacles.

Assess your marketing materials. Do your marketing materials concisely and immediately illustrate your competitive advantage?

For more information you will want to read RightChanges’ articles “The Most Powerful Cover Letter” (May),“Resume Tune Up” (July), “An Extra Tip Regarding the T Cover Letter” (July), “What Document is as Valuable to a Job Seeker as a Resume” (August) and “Another Item in a Successful Job Seeker’s Marketing Tool Kit” (August).

Assess your approach. Are you spending 75% of your time networking and are you productive in your networking efforts?

For more information you will want to read RightChanges’ articles “Top 3 Things to Know in Your Job Search” (July) and “Metro ATL area: As Powerful as the Book of Lists” (July), June’s “The Underutilized Job Search Tool: The Informational Interview”, and September’s “How to Network if You are Not Good at It”.

Assess your interview skills. If you are getting to the interview and “not closing the sale” there may be aspects of the interview you can improve.

For more information you will want to read RightChanges’ September article “How Will You Answer the Interviewer’s Question…”.

Sometimes when you drop something and can’t find it, you call in someone else to help look for it. If you need a fresh perspective, hiring a job search coach can greatly help.

They say the sign of insanity is trying the same thing the same way 3 times and expecting a different result. If what you are doing to find a job is not working, it is worth looking at it from a different perspective. You may just find what you are looking for.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

How to Network if You are Not Good at It

The current wisdom is that networking is the best way to find a job. Not only do you stand out from the competition that way because you are now a known entity, you also find the hidden job market, the 85% of open jobs that are not posted on job boards.

If you are like me though, it is intimidating to walk into a room of strangers and have to strike up a conversation. When I was out of work in 2002, I would go to networking events but I caught myself talking with the people I already knew and in this case, since I met most of them at other networking events, they too were unemployed. I knew I had to meet other people but I was not comfortable doing so.

At that time I was a Business Analyst so I turned to research to help identify a way to conqueror or at least reduce my fear. In the books and articles I read and from my own experiences there are a few basic principles that are true in other aspects of life:

• When faced with a daunting task – like eating an elephant – do it one bite at a time

• People say the most interesting conversationalist is a good listener

• Most people do not enjoy networking

• You will receive back if you help others

• A handshake does not a relationship make

The Networking Principle of Eating an Elephant

I am now a keynote & motivational speaker so people find it unbelievable when I share that I am an introvert. To me that is not odd at all. I am very comfortable among strangers if I have a job to do whether it is as a host or speaker. If I am just one of the participants, I prefer to watch people than have to strike up a conversation.

In many of the books I read, they suggested giving yourself a goal or task. An example would be to meet everyone in the room who has on a splash of red, or meet everyone who is facing east. I put this principle to work at one such event. At this particular event, there were significantly more men than women so I decided to meet all of the women.

I approached the first lady, introduced myself, and told her I was not comfortable with networking so I was going to meet all the women in the room and she was the first. I then asked her to tell me about her. After she told me about herself, she asked if she could come along on this journey because she too did not like networking. Before we were done, we ended up with all of the women on one side of the room because all of them asked to join us as we met other women.

The Networking Principle of Being a Good Conversationalist by Listening

Most people are flattered when they are asked about themselves if the person asking seems sincerely interested. At networking events though, too many job seekers go with their agenda in mind and forget to ask other people to share their story and spend the time listening with interest and sincerity. Instead too many job seekers listen with their agenda in mind, without any sincere interest in meeting the other person, just listening for how the other person can be used to forward their own agenda.

Ask them what attracted them to this meeting. Ask about them, listen with your complete attention, and end with asking them what you can do to help them.

The next time you are engaged in a conversation with someone else, audit yourself on your listening skills. Do you interrupt the speaker? Do you change the subject to you (“I did that too” “I am from there.”)? Do you look about the room as they are speaking? If so, you are not a good listener.

Do you ask questions to get the person to expand on what was said? Do you make and hold eye contact – giving your full attention? These are signs of someone who is really listening. If you are not a good listener, Google or read books on active listening.

The Networking Principle of Most People do not Enjoy Networking

As illustrated in the Eating an Elephant Principle, most people do not enjoy networking. The people at these events who stand in large groups are in those huddles because they know each other and that is their comfort zone. Look around the room and see how many people are already seated by themselves or standing alone.

A technique for networking is to approach someone who is already seated alone or standing alone and introduce you. Draw in anyone else who is nearby and also alone, asking her to join your group of two. Introduce yourself and the person you just met and ask her what it was that brought/drew her to this event and ask her about her. You soon will be known as a fearless networker.

The Networking Principle of You will Receive Back if you Help Others

Think about the time people helped you. Don’t you feel appreciative and more willing to help them should the occasion arise? Instead of approaching each networking opportunity as an event that is all about you, go with the idea that you may be able to help others. Spend time in each interaction trying to determine how you can be of assistance to others.

The Networking Principle of a Handshake does not a Relationship Make

Too many job seekers network with the misconception that just because you met someone, that person will be forever committed to helping your search. Even if he said he would help, it does not mean it will remain in the forefront of his mind. Life happens.

It is your responsibility to follow-up with the people you meet at an event even if they offered to get back to you. Regardless of what they said, the responsibility is yours.

Different people will have differing degrees of availability and interest in helping you. Determine who to stay in touch with. Make it more than a single meeting or an e-mail relationship. Offer to treat them to coffee/soda or lunch so you can develop a rapport with them. The better they know you and the closer you are to them, the more likely they will be to open up their network of close contacts to you or recommend you to a colleague.

Even if you do not enjoy networking and are not good at it, these steps will make your networking events more productive and maybe even a little more enjoyable.

Here are some wonderful books that will help with networking:
* How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less by Milo O. Frank
* How to Work a Room – Your Essential Guide to Savvy Socializing by Susan RoAne
* The Art of Mingling by Jeanne Martinet
* Reading People by Jo-Ellan Dimitrius Ph.D. and Mark Mazzarella
* The Definitive Book of Body Language by Allan and Barbara Pease
* How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How Will You Answer the Interviewer’s Question: What Else Have You Done Since You Left Your Last Job?

In today’s job market, many job seekers are on the job market for months, not weeks; some are even on the job market for years. What will you answer when the interviewer asks you “what else have you done since you left your last job?”

“What else?”, you ask yourself. “Isn’t finding a job enough”? The answer is actually no. Even though hunting for a job should be a fulltime job, it is not the only activity a good job seeker should be doing.

Your first and primary responsibility, of course, is looking for job leads by networking. Just like when you were employed though, your primary responsibility was not your only activity. You also took classes to improve your skills, you participated in community activities, and you did “all other duties as assigned”.

Let’s look at the other activities you should include in your schedule while you are in a career transition.

Increase Your Marketable Skills

While you are between jobs, you are not using on a daily basis the skills that make you marketable. In most industries the required skills change: there are new technologies, new approaches, and new concepts. So not only are your skills starting to atrophy because you are not using them but unless you are intentionally staying on top of the new trends and skills in your industry, you are falling behind.

• To stay on top on your game, identify the skills you need to be competitive.

• Read everything you can to stay on top of the trends and changes in your industry.

• Take classes or self study. There are numerous free courses on-line. Also check out the options available through the Department of Labor.

• Participate in webinars (seminars held via the web). Many are free. Check with vendors of the technology you use in your industry for a schedule of upcoming webinars.

• Offer to intern for free at one of your target companies in exchange for the experience. There are sites that help coordinate intern opportunities especially for recent graduates and for more experienced (older) job seekers.

Volunteer / Assist Others

There are numerous benefits of volunteering during your job transition.

• You will feel a sense of accomplishment which will help heighten your good attitude

• You will help others; there is nothing like being a hero even in a small way

• You will expand your network of contacts

• You may develop new skills or exercise the skills you have not used in a while

Improve Yourself

A good attitude is the most important step in a successful job search. Your confidence will increase as you make self improvements

• Lose weight

• Increase your strength

• Develop new interpersonal skills

• Address that bad habit you waited to address

Establish and Meet Other Goals

At work you had a set of goals and a daily schedule. During a job search, a management / company imposed schedule does not exist. It is easy to let time fly by without getting a lot done and this usually has a negative impact on that good attitude.

Instead set your own goals and make a daily plan to reach those goals. End each day with a sense of accomplishment.

Increase Your Network

Networking is the best way to find the hidden job market and to land an interview. Increase your network. Go to events and industry meetings you have not been to before. When you go to a network event, do not just talk to the people you already know. Give yourself an assignment of meeting a specific number of new contacts; meet them and then follow-up with them after the event. Remember to ask them how you can help them and then follow through.

Maintain Your Marketing Materials

As you increase your marketable skills, add that to your inventory of skills, abilities, training, and accomplishments. These inventories should be maintained the rest of your working life (if not beyond). Some of these items will go onto your resume; others will be used to help answer interview questions. All of the inventories will remind you how valuable you are.

These are the same activities you should continue when you land that next job since your next job will not be your last. (Read articles "The Truth You Need to Know but May Not Want to Hear" and “Job Seekers: Action Items Once You are Employed” on

Be ready for the question about what else you have been doing while you are in a job transition by getting out and doing it now. The only time it is too late to start is when you are asked that question and do not have a good response.