Are You Afraid of Networking?

The Networking Challenge

I wrote Networking May Be Right Up There with the Fear of Speaking article in another of my blogs and thought you might find it interesting.

Networking can be a challenging and slippery slope, especially for the job seeker. As a job seeker you encounter the “no” answer when you apply for jobs which leads you to avoiding other situations where the answer may be no.

Getting “hung up” on no; is a problem that stands in the way of your success in getting a new job and moving forward. You cannot take the no answer as rejection, because it will stop you in your tracks.

What Does NO Mean?

No does not mean no, it simply means that this particular route may be blocked and that you need to take an alternative route. When you have a goal (which is imperative), you must always keep your eye on that goal. You may have to take alternative routes, but you can never allow yourself to lose sight of your goal.

One of the keys to goals is not to picture the goal, but to picture yourself from the goal. When you picture yourself from the goal you strengthen your desire and commitment.

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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.

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!

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 Search – Keeping a Low Profile While You Actively Search

You Are Employed; but You Know You Can Do Better

Social Media and Networking can be a great way to search for a new job or career; but there are definitely drawbacks when you are currently employed. It is a fact, there are many, many people that have taken positions below their skill levels, abilities, and interests during the current recession. The problem is how do they get back to where they were OR MORE?

You Are Connected and You Cannot Hide

The ubiquitous nature of the Internet knows you. You are no longer able to hide. You have an Internet presence and people can see what you are doing. If they are one of your contacts, connections, friends, followers, viewers, or whatever they have an even greater insight into your activities. Does this mean that you have no hope? Absolutely not; it just means that you must be more creative.

The Advantage of Being Employed

The truth is that being employed is an advantage during these lean employment times. Being employed means that you have survived the cuts, the layoffs, and the failed firms meaning that your value continues to be recognized and desired. This does not mean that those currently unemployed do not have value or are not desired. It just means that those that are employed have been more fortunate and right, wrong, or indifferent; it is an advantage.

It also means that coming from a position of employed to employed has an advantage over coming from unemployed to employed. Again, this is just a fact and not meant to demean anyone.

The second advantage to being employed is that you have the opportunity to create a situation where you are being sought, rather than you doing the seeking. The benefit is that it puts you in the driver’s seat for negotiations and gives you a better opportunity to say “no” when the opportunity is not to your liking. It is great when you are not desperate!

Keeping a Low Profile

How do you keep a low profile while carrying out an effective job search? The first way to keep a low profile is to avoid announcing that you are searching. Strange as that may sound, there are people that profess to want a low profile, but blatantly announce their intention to change jobs. This is not a wise tactic if you want to keep your job until you find the new opportunity.

I will use LinkedIn for the second example, but this would apply to any Social Networking site with similar capabilities. In your LinkedIn profile you have the ability to identify your reason for networking. Your answers should be networking, connecting, collaborating, answer questions, research, etc. None of your answers should have anything to do with looking for opportunities.

Next you must have a complete profile. You cannot expect success when your profile simply lists the places you have worked. What did you do there; what were your accomplishments? As Caesar said Veni, Vidi, Vici; I came, I saw, I conquered. What did you see, what action did you take, and what were the results of those actions? Let the reader know what you have done and what they can expect?

Your next focus should be getting the word out about your expertise. Join and participate in relevant groups. Ask and answer questions, offer advice and information, share your knowledge so people get to know you. Do not hide what you have to offer. Successful networking starts with you giving of yourself, your knowledge, and your expertise. Build your credibility and trust; so people will seek you out.

Join the answer boards and respond to posted questions. Give excellent, thoughtful answers; on LinkedIn people vote on your answers; work to get recognized for the quality of your answers. You are building your presence, reputation, and your brand. This must be a focus of yours.

Following these steps can help you create a presence without necessarily exposing your intentions. If you have not been very active on the Social Networks; make this a somewhat gradual process so you do not attract too much attention immediately. Let your presence grow so that you demonstrate reliability and consistency. You cannot jump out there one day with a flurry of activity and then disappear. You must create a consistent presence for the best success.

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?