Job Seekers – Are You Turning Down Opportunities

Crisis in the Making

Obviously we are in a job crisis situation, but there are actions being taken by some of today’s job seekers that will lead to an even bigger crisis.

I was just reading a newsletter article that quotes some job seekers that said they have turned down job offers. There reasoning is that they can make more on unemployment. Sad to say in some situations that is the case, but is the problem with the pay rate being offered or the largess of our government?

I see turning down jobs as a crisis in the making! The further someone gets from productive employment the more difficult it becomes getting hired. It is a fact that to go from a job to a job is much easier than from unemployment to a job; regardless of the type of job that you are coming from.

Extended Unemployment Benefits Encourage Prolonged Unemployment

The reality is that if you are receiving unemployment benefits the incentive to take a job is less than if you have nothing coming in. That’s a pretty obvious statement, but the next statement is not so obvious. The longer you have not been working; the harder it becomes for you to exchange your leisure time for productive time.

This happens for two reasons.

  1. You become more complacent and accepting of your non-job status.
  2. Hiring Managers become more suspicious of your ability to adapt back into a normal routine.

Obviously both of these reasons work against your future employability.

Many people think that they can just “jump” back into the grind or routine when they are ready and that is typically not the case. You have become accustomed to the “lazy” life and changing that is not easy.

What I am saying is not true with everyone, but, unfortunately it is true with many; and today’s job situation only makes it worse. There are many job seekers becoming despondent and simply giving up on the idea of finding a job. This is not good for the individual and it is not good for the well-being of our country.

Conclusion

The conclusion that I have come to is: Job seekers cannot afford to turn down opportunities. Yes, the pay may be less than what you expect or deserve; but being in a job and striving to advance within that company or another is a much stronger position for improving your job outlook. Sitting back and accepting a handout; yes, I said it a handout – will never work in your favor. You must be actively seeking employment and simultaneously be willing to accept opportunities.

If you ever watched the movie “October Sky”; there is a lesson that you can learn. When the struggling space explorers first started their experiments their launching pad was a dirt patch. As they progressed they learned that a solid platform controls the thrust of the rocket engines and makes the launch more powerful. Having a job is that solid foundation for you to use to launch your career.

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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!

Job Search – For Profit Education Alternatives

Federal Government Crack Down

I read on the front page of today’s USA Today (July 23, 2010) that the Federal Government is imposing some new guidelines or requirements on for profit schools. I have not been too happy with a lot of things our Government has been doing for the last 10 years, but I do have to say I like this.

Working with the unemployed and under-employed, as I do, and having children in college makes this a very salient topic to me. I have watched some of the unemployed people that I work with struggle to complete and pay for some of these programs to only find out that the promised jobs either did not exist or the training was inadequate to get the job.

The article does not adequately address these issues, but it does address the reality that many of these programs cause the student to incur debt that the promised job holds no hope of providing the income necessary to repay the debt. It is sad to see these people misled and their hopes dashed because of some unscrupulous so-called educational institution.

Some feel that the legislation goes to far and others feel that it does not go far enough. I am certain that there is some accuracy to both sides. Interestingly, however, this issue of USA Today, did not provide the content of the legislation, just a reference to it and then hearsay as to what it does and does not cover. Like so many pieces of legislation today, our representatives will not take the time to read the legislation, they will simply vote on it after being pressured by the leadership, lobbyists, or other invested parties and give us another bureaucratic malaise that solves nothing and costs more.

If I sound cynical, that is because I am. I am thoroughly disappointed that our representatives do not have enough interest in their constituents to read and understand what they are signing, before doing so.

Job Seekers – Is Your Search In Idle Mode?

Sometimes We Think We Are Doing Things

Quite often job seekers get caught up in the “I’m doing something, so therefore I am productive mode”. I can relate to that. There have been times during my job searches where I spent hours doing something: e.g. rewriting my resume, perfecting my cover letter, sending resumes to a black hole, searching the job boards, etc.; the problem was that it was not getting me any closer to a job. The activities were unfocused and, to tell you the truth, a waste of time.

The only thing I could say was; “I am doing something!” When you reach this point and these are the things you are doing; your job search is on idle! It is not moving forward and, in fact, it is probably moving in reverse because you are getting further and further away from your previous job and your next job.

Getting Out of the I Am Doing Something Mode

Getting yourself out of this mode, is not always an easy thing to do. The primary reason is that we do not recognize that we are in that mode; because we think we are doing something.

Job seekers must be paying attention to how they spend their time! It is extremely easy to put valuable activities off in lieu of worthless activities; because we have convinced ourselves that we are doing something, anything, and therefore that is good.

How Do You Keep Yourself On Track

One of the best ways, although not the easiest, is to make yourself accountable to you. Keep a log of your activities that shows when you started an activity, what you did, what you accomplished, and when you stopped. As part of this process you must record your distractions as well so you can see where you squandered your time. This is particularly tough because we do not want to admit our faults.

If you cannot hold yourself accountable, then you must get someone who will. This is typically not a family member or even a friend. Friends will be too understanding and family members, who have a vested interest, will either be too harsh on you; or they will accept your excuses. None of these is of any help to you.

Your accountability process needs someone that will gently keep you on track. Your accountability coach will also get tough when you continue to vary from or continually fail to achieve the agreed upon tasks. This person is much like a personal trainer that holds you accountable for your training regimen.

A job search requires focus and intention. The lack of either will continue to keep you and your job search on idle.

Job Seekers – Working Day Labor

A Day Labor Primmer

First a little day labor primmer. In most of the medium to large cities there are businesses that supply day labor to employers. Day labor, as the name implies, is working for a full or partial day and getting paid that day.

Either the evening before or early in the morning an employer will call these organizations and tell them how many workers they need and at what time they should report. Most of the jobs are manual labor and in many cases things that no one else wants to do.

The day laborer shows up and signs in and then as calls arrive they are assigned to the workers on a first come, first served basis. The laborer may sit there for a few minutes or a few hours; if the calls end before everyone has a day job, the remaining laborers are sent home.

There are different types of day labor companies; most as stated above are manual labor, but some are also oriented toward office work. The ones providing day labor office workers can be a little better, because they may be looking for additional skills. These skills could include typing, MS Office, spreadsheets, or more. As the skills requirements go up there may be a corresponding increase in the hourly rate that is offered.

Succeeding at Day Labor

If your situation and needs are pressing, day labor can be a short-term answer for anyone. In fact, I did day labor for a couple of weeks when things were particularly tight. The point I want to make is that you can be successful at day labor.

Much of your competition for these jobs are people that are really down and out and in many cases have given up. Sorry to say, some may even be there to support a drug or alcohol habit. Because of the competition, if you are industrious, you can have an advantage.

When I did my day labor stint I was fortunate to be called the first day when I was there. My first advantage was that I arrived shaved, showered, and presentable. I was not there for very long before I was called for an assignment. It was working at a “Rent-to-Own” business.

As with most of these businesses my assignment was something that no one in the organization really wanted to do. I was assigned to put together furniture that would be going on the showroom floor and ultimately to the customer. Most of the stuff was of the kit variety with an assembly instruction sheet.

Being reasonably intelligent I went through the task list and assembled everything they put in front of me. It was not too long before I was asking for the next assignment. They had me clean up the back room and get rid of furniture that was damaged or missing parts; which I did. The back room was a cluttered mess so it took a while to complete, but I was finished by day’s end.

Later that evening I received a call from the Day Labor company asking if I would be there the next day and saying that the Rent-to-Own company had requested me for the next day. I said I would be there and now I did not have to show up early to get on the list. Yes, I had to sign-in, but it was sign-in and go.

Again I did as asked. This time it was cleaning up the parking lot behind the store. When the employees opened something they just threw the boxes and packaging out the back door. If there was something broken, they threw it out the back door. There were piles and piles of junk sitting in the lot.

I was told to clean it up the best I could and put whatever I could into the dumpsters and neatly pile the remainder. So I started. With some good planning and organizing I was able to get everything into the dumpsters, sweep the area, and have it very presentable. A couple of hours into the project the manager came out and asked me what I had done with all the garbage, because there were no piles. I explained that I was able to get everything into the dumpsters and he was amazed. In fact, he did not believe me. The reality is that he had no choice because there was no other place to go with the junk.

The point is that even with the crappiest of jobs there are opportunities to stand out and even better if you are down in the dumps and thinking that you have no value. Just doing something as simple as day labor and doing it well, can get you some recognition that will help you rebuild your self confidence.

Take pride in what you do and regardless of how menial it may seem, people do take notice and you can have a sense of accomplishment.

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.