Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dust Off Your Elevator Pitch

“Tell me about yourself, what do you want to do?” You won’t only hear this in interviews, but you will get this from people in your network as well. You have to be able to answer this question quickly and on point. If you can’t then you won’t get a job because people won’t take you seriously. In 30 seconds you should be able to:
a.      Clearly describe what your good at
b.      Explain what you want to do
c.      Say something interesting about yourself that people will remember
It’s not complicated, but you job search won’t go very far without it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Build Your Network (2)

Most people will land a quality job through someone in their network. You have heard it a million times, “It’s not what you know, and it’s who you know.” Start thinking through all the people that are in your network and build a list. Reach out and start having coffee or talking on the phone with them. A lot of people are willing to help others in today’s job market. Take advantage. I have landed every single one of my jobs through my network, never by applying to a job online. The problem with applying online is that there are a million people with the same exact resume as you. A referral will go a long way. Take a look at my Job Toolkit for some resources to get you started.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Learn About Yourself

Looking for a new job is the best time to reflect on what you really want to do. You have a fresh start and can do anything. But in order to know what you want to do, you need to take some time to learn about yourself. If you are like most people, you have been in the workforce working a job just to pay the bills for so long; you have forgotten what it is like to do something you really enjoy. You don’t want to take this opportunity that has been given to you and waist it by just taking another job that isn’t really a fit for you (now when push-comes-to-shove, you need to pay bills, you need a job). There are a number of tools out there to help with this. I personally don't like the formality of those tools and prefer to sit, think, and plot some things out. However you do it, it needs to be done.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Learn Your Rights / Unemployment Benefits

When you are unemployed you need to get to know your rights as an unemployed citizen. You are in a new pond now, you need to learn it.
File for unemployment benefits with your state. You can do this by going to your state's website for unemployment benefits (a Google search will pull up the site). The application process is extremely easy. We like income, so let’s get this flowing ASAP. If you have received a severance you typically can’t file for unemployment until after that time is up.
If you had insurance with your previous employer you might want to consider COBRA. It is pretty expensive though. An alternative that you might want to look at is governmental insurance (Medicaid). You have to fit into a unique demographic to qualify. Go to your states Medicaid website for more information (a Google search will pull up the site). Honestly, if you are single and healthy. You might want to consider forgoing insurance until you find employment. If you have a family, the choice can be difficult.
A number of the things that you will do when you are unemployed will be tax deductible. However, these change yearly so you need to check with the IRS website when you go to file your taxes. Mileage to and from interviews, job fairs, etc… are typically tax deductible as well as various fees and resume related expenses. The point is you need to keep all of your job search related receipts so that when you go to file your taxes you can add the appropriate ones up.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Temp Agencies and Staffing Firms

Working with a Temp Agency is an interesting experience (I’m using temp agency and staffing firm interchangeably here). It will either go really well, or be a complete nightmare. This largely is determined by the recruiter. Keep in mind that when working with a recruiter that their interest is not in seeing you get a job or helping you in anyway. They are only interested in keeping their client happy, the company they are staffing for. Sometimes there is a misconception among job seekers that the staffing firm is working for them. The only interest they have in getting you a job is driven by the commission that they will get off you. There is nothing wrong with this; it’s how they are paid. But you’ll want to keep that in mind when they start calling.
Staffing firms are a great way to get exposure to what is in the market place. They have a number of jobs that they are trying to fill, and will act as your advocate if they like you (again, they want $$$). This can sometimes make getting your foot in the door a lot easier. Once you are in a company, there is sometimes a chance for the company to buy you from the staffing firm (these positions are called temp to perm). They will pay the firm an outrageous amount of money to do this. A number of companies would rather pay this crazy fee then try to find someone themselves. Temporary jobs typically pay (after you subtract out the bad benefits) just below what you would make if you were hired straight from the company. If you are in need of cash flow, this might be the quickest way to get that started. Remember, you can always keep looking for a permanent job while you are working at the temp job.

Develop an Action Plan

You have tasks and timeliness at work; you need to have them when you are unemployed as well. It will help keep you focused and you’ll be able to measure progress in a way other than if got a job or not (which should not be the measure of a successful job search). Some things to include in your action plan will be the items listed later. Further, you should include things like … how many people to have coffee with each week, how many jobs you're going to apply for, how much time you are going to spend looking online … etc…  And a word of advice, only spend 4 days a week doing your job search. It is exhausting work. Get up in the mornings when you normally would for work. Start working on resumes, cover letters, applications, your industry research, what you want to do, etc… By the time Friday comes, you’ll need a break. You don’t want to get burnt out. This doesn’t mean you don’t work hard at finding a job. Or that you don’t take on a part-time job to supplement your income. But you have to be in the job search for the long haul. Trust me, it will make you more successful.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lost Your Job? Relax!

When I lost my job, I slightly panicked, updated my resume, got online, and started applying. This is the WRONG approach. If you are doing this, please stop. Below are some tips on how to handle your first few days in your new job, finding a job. You need to develop some structure around you approach to your search. Taking the time to do this work during the early days of your job search will increase the chances of you getting the job that you want in the time you want.
Over the next few days I will be posting some tips on how to handle the early days of unemployment. The first thing you need to do is relax.
Losing your job can be traumatic. When I recently lost mine, my wife was 7 months pregnant with our second, we were a few weeks away from closing on our first home, and I was in grad school. My career counselor gave me the best advice … “Relax, take a deep breath, everything will be fine…your life is not going to stop.” She was right. Because of my stress I wasn’t thinking clearly. How can you make the right decisions if your head is foggy? And who is going to want to hire someone with a chip on their shoulder? You aren’t going to be pleasant to be around. Take a minute and enjoy your new freedom. It won’t be long and you’ll be back to the 8 to 5. And let’s be honest, the American working life ain’t that great anyway. Enjoy being away from it while you can. Take a day (or two) and just don’t do anything. You aren’t going to get a job tomorrow (or the next day). Relax.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Build Out Your Network

You’ll quickly discover who your true friends are when you are looking for a job. The people that told you to give them a call if you are in a bind will bail. Some won’t even return your phone calls. I had one SVP that I worked with sing my praises to the COO the SVP of HR and others within the company. About three weeks later I moved departments and was swooped up in a political mess and was let go. I reached out to the SPV (twice) who just weeks earlier was saying how awesome I was. Silence. Best friend one minute, enemy the next (I had another VP who never said I was awesome not hesitate to be a reference for me. He returned my email in 10 minutes!).
Make a list of all the people you know. You should have an inner circle of a few close friends/associates. In the first 36 hours of your job search, you’ll want to have this list completed because you are going to start reaching out. Call them. Go to lunch or have a morning coffee (they are still employed, so get with them during a day they are in the office. There is a better chance they will follow-up once they get back to the office). When you talk to them, please don’t tell them that you lost your job and you are in desperate need of help! Remember, these people are now your potential employers, or at the very least they may put their neck on the line for you. You’ll need to put your guard up a little. Also, don’t spill the beans on dirty details of your past job. Swallow it, it’s in the past, move on. Again, there is a thin line between a friend and someone you are going to work with.
So what’s the purpose of reaching out to your network? The goal is to get the contact information of 2 more people! That’s right, not to get a job. You’re primary purpose for meeting with them is to continue to build your network. Ultimately you want to get your resume in the hands of a hiring manager of course. But to increase your chances, you’ll need to get more people in your network. Each time, you are moving closer to that job.  
As I said early, you’ll need to be careful with how you reach out to you network. Here is one way to do it, “I’m exploring new career opportunities and wanted to pick your brain a little about the industry you work in and your company.” If they need to know you lost a previous job, just add in that you were “laid-off” and continue the line. They won’t ask you for details. They aren’t going to care. If they dig for details, be careful in what you say. If they keep digging, move on to the next person in your network.
Now, the truth is you aren’t going to want to have coffee with everyone in your network. As you are building your list of jobs you are targeting, you can take your network and plug them into your job list. For example, if you are going to apply to a job at Bank of America. Who in Bank of America is in your network? Reach out to them. Tell them that you saw a job and that you want to know if they know anything about what the hiring manager is looking for. If you feel comfortable with this person, ask them to coffee to get more information about the company.
Most new jobs come from your network, not search engines!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Building The Job Blog - Day 1

Pheww…there has been a lot going on at The Job Blog over the last couple of days. I have been messing a lot with the design of the blog and adding content. The goal is to make a site that looks somewhat legit, but is not stuffy and overly professional. I want to provide followers and subscribers with easy to access content and advice for their job search.
Today I added a page that includes the best job search engines out there (I’m going to blog more about search engines soon). I also added a page were that provides an email address where you can email me your resume for advice and feedback. I’ll will do this for free (charging to review resumes for a people looking for work is just wrong). My commitment is to get this back to you in 3 days. Finally, I added a few bullets about myself. I’m not trying to be narcissistic in what I said (like some out there), but just providing some comments to show you that I’m somewhat legit and can be trusted.
Lots more to come….

And so it begins...

I’m starting this blog because I’ve been unemployed 4 times in the last three years. Each time I reached out to the internet to find some free help and advice in my job search and came up empty almost every time. The internet is a frustrating place when you are looking for a job. If you are like me, you have waisted hours on the internet looking and looking… not even sure what you are looking for half the time! Resume advice, connections, any advice, just give me a job! The best part is when you spend hours looking for a job, spend an hour applying to it, and 10 minutes later spend 10 seconds reading the reply email “thank you for your application, unfortunately we found other candidates with experiences that better meet our needs.”

My goal is to build a site that the job seeker will want to set as their home page (I actually don’t care if you do). The point is, the site should be a toolkit. Part of your arsenal. Providing you with quality information, useful tips, and links to vetted resources.

In order to make this site useful, it will undergo many changes in its first few months. Please feel free to provide feedback that will make it better for you. It is your site!
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