Job Seekers: Can You Adapt

Adaptability

The ability to adapt and respond is a critical skill for both the individual and businesses. As we have seen over the past two to three years; change is coming at an incredible speed. Our ability to adapt and respond is a critical skill for our own personal survival as well as the survival of the organizations where we work.

Everyone must assess their ability to adapt and respond. Joshua Cooper Ramos in his book The Age of the Unthinkable compares businesses and individuals to a plastic ruler. How far can the ruler bend before it snaps? Likewise, how far can you or your organization bend before snapping?

Unthinkable Change

Not only is change coming at an incredible pace, the change truly is UNTHINKABLE! We may not like it, but we always know that change is a significant part of our environment. The piece that makes this period different is the type of change and the extreme nature of the change.

While it is true that jobs and even careers come and go; it has previously never happened this rapidly. We have more unemployed than ever before in the history of our Country. Yes, the percentage may be less, but the sheer number is greater.

We are in an UNTHINKABLE period and therefore we must think even harder to survive!

How To Adapt

People must adapt to the changes if they are to recover from the turmoil that has been created. How is that done? What must people do to start putting their lives back in order?

  • Stop looking to others to solve your problems.
  • Assess your skills and abilities and write them down.
  • Record the goals that you have accomplished over your career and with each work situation.
  • Examine job postings relative to your skills and abilities assessment.
  • Recognize when the things that you thought were true have changed.

Do you have the flexibility to adapt or are you so set in your ways that you will snap? If you are the latter, then you must make the changes that will provide you the flexibility you need so you can adapt to a world that is going to change regardless; so you have no choice but to be a part of the change. We are accountable to ourselves for our actions!

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Job Seekers – Are You Sabotaging Your Job Search?

Do We Sabotage Our Own Job Search?

Speaking for myself, I know the answer is yes. We may not mean to do it but many times we subconsciously sabotage our own success. You may wonder how we do that and here are my thoughts.

We allow self doubt to creep into our minds. We tell ourselves that maybe we are not good enough or the right person for the job. When we have those thoughts, whether we are conscious of them or not, they will affect our product; whether the product is a resume, cover letter, or ourselves during an interview.

Where Does Our Sabotage Come From?

We may have our own self doubts as described above. We may have doubts placed by others; e.g. former employers and co-workers, friends and family, society in general, even our spouse or significant other can plant these thoughts.

When we allow these things to creep into our mind our confidence takes a hit and it shows. We second guess the things that we do or want to say; which results in hesitancy and does not inspire the person with whom we are talking. They can sense our hesitancy and regardless of how things have gone to that point, this becomes their most recent perspective.

What Kind of Sabotage Do We Perpetrate?

Maybe we feel that we are not worthy of the opportunity. Maybe we feel that we have not earned or do not deserve the salary, title, or benefits. Maybe we have a lingering doubt from a previous work experience. Maybe we were fired and somewhere in the back of our minds we feel it was justified.

There are many, many different things we can do to harm our prospects and we must be aware of them, so that we can prevent the harm they can do.

What Do We Do to Prevent Sabotage?

One of the first things we must do is stop beating ourselves up and even more importantly stop allowing others to beat us up! As long as we allow these things to happen we cannot move past what is holding us back. We must be proactive on our own behalf.

Take some time, when you are not preparing a product, and think about those things you or others say about you and write them down. Then look at the list and say to yourself; “Realistically are these things true; am I really like that or do I really do that?” The honest answer may be yes and if it is you must learn how to change that behavior and how to mitigate its impact on your job prospects.

That idea of change will be tough, because most of us do not like to change and we will, in fact, do everything we can to fight the change. However, change we must; take on the battle and make the change. Your ability to change will set you apart, because 90% of people are unable to make changes; they would simply rather stay in their situation and complain.

Another thing we can, and should, do is keep our own little notebook or diary of our accomplishments. In fact, you should always have it with you so you can record those special things you do and the results of your efforts. You should be writing in this book at least two or three times per week about the things inside and outside of work that you have accomplished.

When you or others are getting down on you, pull out this little book and start reading about the things you have done and accomplished. This little brag book can serve many purposes.

  1. To build you up when you or others are down on you.
  2. To provide you with ideas for your resume or on-line profile when you need to demonstrate what you have accomplished.
  3. To review just prior to going into your interview so that you have a positive feeling about yourself.
  4. To review just prior to going for your annual or semi-annual performance review.
  5. To serve as a reminder when your boss is preparing for your review and asks you to list some of your accomplishments over the past year. (Yes, the boss should know, but more often than not, they do not remember key accomplishments. Help them out, do not lament that they do not remember. Show them that you care.)

So my questions to you are;

  1. What are you doing to yourself?
  2. How are you or others beating you up?
  3. What are you doing to stop the beatings?
  4. What work have you undertaken to solve the problem?

If you need help find a Career Coach that will address issues honestly with you. Find someone that will be your Accountability Coach and engage that person to help you.

Job Seekers – Who Are Your Five Closest Friends?

What Do Your Five Closest Friends Say About You?

Most people do not understand the importance of their five closest friends. What they typically miss is; this group will greatly influence your goals, your ideas, and your achievements.

The average level of achievement within this group will parallel your progress. If they drive average cars; you will drive an average car. If they have an average house; you will have an average house. It is not that average is bad; it is just that if you aspire to more – this group of friends may not be the proper launching pad.

Look at the successful people that are around you; who do they keep company with? Are they running in the same crowd as you; if so then you are probably doing well because you will be close to the average of a higher income group. If you are not in that group then you are probably somewhere below their economic position.

The questions are:

  1. Where do you want to be?
  2. What are you doing to get there?
  3. When will you get there?

Social Networking and Your Five Closest Friends – Are Your Friends Right for You?

Let’s move this examination to your job search. The truth is that 80% to 85% of jobs are found through networking. This begs the question then as to how successful you are as a networker? If your group of close friends are not effective networkers, chances are that you are not an effective networker.

If your friends are on LinkedIn or other Social Networks and they have the average number of connections, then you probably have the average number of connections as well. If they are not on LinkedIn; then you are most likely not on LinkedIn.

People that are progressing in their careers have more connections than those that are not moving. People that are progressing in their careers are adding higher caliber connections; which brings higher caliber second level connections.

This concept may be familiar to you or maybe not, but there have been studies performed on friendships and this is exactly what the researchers found. We are heavily influenced by those around us and often times to move forward we need to break out of these relationships.

Are your closest friends supportive of your efforts, ideas, and goals?

The next question is whether those around you are supportive of your aspirations. If they do not share your vision and are not excited for you; then it may be time to change friends.

For you to be successful you need people around you that share your dreams and some that have obtained the level of success you are seeking. Without that support the negativity of your friends will can be a barrier to your achieving the success you desire.

Maybe you have heard of Zig Ziglar. When he was starting in his writing career he wrote that he was 165 pounds; the problem was that he was not 165 pounds. He was close to 200 pounds. Immediately he recognized that he had a credibility problem. Does he change his weight to 200 pounds in the book or does he lose 35 pounds.

He decided to lose the wieght. He wanted to do it properly so he went to his doctor for advice. Once there he realized that this was a problem because his doctor was over weight and decided right then that he needed a new doctor. A doctor that believed in what Zig wanted to accomplish.

The moral of the story is that you must surround yourself with people that share your goals and ideas. If they do not they will not be supportive and, in fact, they will be negative and detrimental to your efforts.

Job Search – Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs

Do You Believe in Yourself?

When you are unemployed one of the biggest challenges you face is the lack of belief in yourself. I constantly encounter job seekers that are full of self-doubt and lack confidence. Why are they like that? Have they always suffered from those issues? In some cases yes, but many times it is something new for them.

The sad part is that when you get down on yourself, there are many people that are more than happy to reinforce what you are feeling. How do you remove yourself from that situation? What can you do to get yourself on the right track?

Recognizing Your Self-Limiting Beliefs

You are dealing with some type of self-limiting belief that is holding you back. Whether you believe that your skills are out of date, that you cannot network because that is not who you are, maybe you believe that you are too old, it could be that you simply believe you do not know the right people, or whatever. You are dealing with the problem of some self-limiting beliefs and it may be killing your chances.

So what is it the challenge that you are facing? What are your self-limiting beliefs? What is standing in the way of the success that you deserve?

It is critical that you go through the exercise of self-evaluation to honestly identify the belief or beliefs that are holding you back. Until you complete this process you will continue to be stymied or at least experience less than satisfactory success in your job search.

My Story

A few years ago I was let go from a job and I believed the action was unjustified and more a response to my asking too many questions, that were proving to be embarrassing for the CEO, than anything to do with my performance. I had a hard time letting go of the situation and I know that it contributed to at least one lost opportunity. In fact, the hiring manager mentioned to my recruiter that I seemed to be having difficulty discussing the job loss.

Subsequently while I still labored trying to find my next opportunity I started questioning my skill set, my age, and countless other things. None of those were my actual problem, my problem was my belief system. I heard people raising these issues and chose to subscribe to their negative thoughts; instead of believing in myself.

It was a very difficult period and my self-limiting beliefs were not helping. I allowed anyone and everyone to reinforce those beliefs which caused me to spiral even more. It wasn’t until I came to grips with what I was doing to myself before I could finally move forward.

So What Is Your Story; What Is Holding You Back?

I have told you my story, what is yours? What are the self-limiting beliefs that you are allowing to stand in your way? Can you identify them? Are you even willing to identify them? When you can step up to that challenge and face those realities; you will then be ready to overcome your self-limiting beliefs.

As you go through the analysis do not be afraid or surprised if you identify multiple self-limiting challenges; it is not unusual. Face them, do not hide from them; you cannot overcome the issues if you cannot acknowledge them.

If you have difficulty identifying the issues or they seem to difficult to overcome; you may need to enlist the help of a career coach or someone that you can trust to be honest and open with you. Whatever the case; you must take the necessary action so that you can move forward.

Using LinkedIn to Have the Job Find You

Using LinkedIn in Your Job Search

The first question that you must answer is: are you trying to find a job or are you trying to be found? Put another way are you pursuing an opportunity or do you want the opportunity pursuing you.

There is a huge difference in the success you will achieve if others are pursuing you. If you are being pursued it means that you have created a brand, that people know you by what you have done and are capable of doing. You are recognized for the value that you offer. Is this important? Absolutely, you want to be in the driver’s seat!

So You Want To Be Found

Obviously you are in a much stronger bargaining position if the employer has done the search and is now pursuing you. To me, this is the situation I prefer.

Wanting to be found, however, requires that you have the right mindset. You must not only feel that you are worthy of being sought after, but you must believe that you deserve to be sought after. You must also have the experience to back it up.

To be the object of the search a person must have a very strong profile. You must understand the skills and abilities that you possess. These aren’t the ones that you think you possess, but the ones that others believe you possess.

Descriptors Others Attribute to You

Developing this list requires you contact former co-workers, managers, customers, subordinates, vendors, and others with whom you have interacted and ask them for an honest assessment of your skills and abilities. Ideally they will include examples of situations where you displayed the skills and abilities that they identify. Assemble the list and look for the recurring theme in the lists. Obviously the more lists that you have the better picture you can develop.

Next research advertised jobs based upon the skills and abilities that you have compiled from the above exercise. Find out what job titles are associated and what additional skills are desired. Check your lists and see how the assessments you received can compliment these additional desired skills.

Use the Google SEO tool to find out the frequency the skills on your list are used as search criteria and factor that into your choices.

Develop Your List of Keywords

Once you have completed these tasks build your profile to include these keywords. Seed these words, as appropriate, in your prior work experience, your professional headline, your summary, and your interests. Ask the people that provided you with your skills inventory to write recommendations that include these words as well.

To get the best attention, not necessarily the most attention, you want to be very focused in your process. Employers like to know what they are getting and where they will be able to use your talents. There is nothing more frustrating to an employer than to have someone say “I will do anything”; most businesses do not have “anything” jobs.

If you are pursuing the job and doing the looking you still want to have a detailed understanding of what skills and abilities people attribute to you. Build your profile around those skills and abilities. Again do the Google search to see which skills or abilities were desired by the most prospective employers.

Your resume must showcase these same talents; consistency is important. Do not make your resume a duplicate of your profile; instead your profile is your opportunity to expand on the resume and tell more details of your story. It is critical that resumes and on-line profiles tell your story. People like reading stories; they don’t want to simply have a bunch of facts shoved at them. Ideally they want the story that bears out the facts.

Use LinkedIn to search for the key skills and abilities that you possess to see who and what job titles were unearthed. Continue doing searches on the key skills and abilities, but also do searches on the job titles that you uncover.

Study the profiles of the individuals that you find with positions that had appeal to you and assess those profiles compared to yours to see how you could improve.

We are never perfect; we can always improve; but we don’t want that improvement process to cloud our true objective of getting a job.

Job Seekers – To Pursue or Be Pursued

Some Job Seekers Pursue, While Other Job Seekers Are Pursued

There are many different ways to seek new opportunities but all of them will fall into one of two categories: to pursue or to be pursued. A job seeker that is pursuing is the person that is out beating the bushes looking for the next opportunity.

The pursuers are targeting employers, sending resumes, filling out applications, searching job boards, networking and making contacts, responding to want ads, etc. They are working to find that next opportunity.

The Pursued

The second category are the pursued. Those are people like Lee Iaccoca in the 1980s, when Chrysler was looking for someone to save the company. Iaccoca’s performance record with Ford made him not only a logical, but a great choice. Iaccoca was the father of the Mustang and that innovative mind was just what Chrysler needed; a person with talent and vision. Iaccoca was pursued by Chrysler.

This is what today’s job seeker should be looking to accomplish with their career.

  • What have you done in your past that you can do in your future to make people seek you?
  • How are you presenting your skills and abilities?

The pursued have a brand and a reputation that is known by some or even many. The more that know your brand the greater your appeal and the greater your opportunities.

Develop Your Brand

Success requires that you develop, build, and promote your brand. Do you have a brand? What is your brand? How can you promote your brand?

These are important questions that you must be able to answer and then act upon. What can you do to establish your expertise and gain the visibility necessary to promote your brand?

Developing your brand requires that you have visibility. In the past this was often difficult to accomplish. There were limited places where you could promote and there was tremendous competition to get your information placed. Today that has all changed.

With the advent of Social Networking. Blogs, and other Internet capabilities; you can get your word out. There are numerous outlets (magazines, ezines, blogs, websites, etc.) where you can gain tremendous visibility and credibility. These outlets suffer constantly from the lack of quality information and ideas. They are experiencing increasing competition for materials and therefore they are always looking for new material and differing perspectives. If you want to get the recognition; the possibilities are unlimited.

Are you pursuing or being pursued? Most job seekers fall into the category of pursuing; what can you do to change yourself from pursuing to being pursued?

Is Thinking Out of the Box the Correct Advice?

Maybe Thinking Out of the Box Is All Wrong

I just finished reading “The Age of the Unthinkable” by Joshua Ramo and it has made me reflect on this topic. It is a great book and I highly recommend it.

We hear frequently about the idea of thinking outside the box and I’ve come to realize that maybe outside the box is not the correct term. In the book Ramo uses the example of a picture. Many pictures have a foreground object and then the background. Since reading the book; I now look at the foreground object as my current job and the background as my skills that put me in that position.

Your Job May Be Obsolete, But That Does Not Mean That You Are Obsolete

When a current job disappears, I mean becomes obsolete; if we are focused on the foreground then we have become obsolete as well. But if we look at the background as our skills, abilities, and talents that put us into the job we will see that we have many things working in our favor to continue moving us forward.

Personal Experience

When I discuss issues pertaining to job searches; I speak from experience. I have had numerous occasions over the past fifteen years where I have had to search for a job. Sometimes it was because a contract ended, sometimes it just was not the right fit, and sometimes I was too honest and people did not like it. Whatever the reason I have experienced many of the same situations as you. I have walked into the office and been told that today was my last day on more than one occasion. No preparation, no advance notice, nothing, just you are done.

Here’s an example; I’m in IT and after 9/11 my projects which were all new infrastructures, just dried up. I had been working for a local firm for a couple of years and things were going well. 9/11 changed all that and their business just came to a standstill. I was a contractor and they had to cut costs immediately. I was expendable and quickly out of work. They told me to come back after the first of the year and see where things stood. They did not pick up and eventually the operation shut down. Although not permanently obsolete it was devastating enough to be a challenge.

I lamented and mourned and went through months of not moving forward. Finally I stepped back and looked at all the things I had done (the background of my picture) and realized that, although I was not an IT security expert, I had over 20 years of IT security experience. I had grown up with IT security from four letter passwords to what it was at the time.

Restructure Yourself Based Upon What Made You What You Were; Not For What You Were

I restructured my resume to focus on this experience and lo and behold I found a job. Everything I needed was in the box, I just had to get past the foreground picture to find it.

We do not need to go off the deep end, we just need to be willing to look beyond the obvious.