This is a post from one of my other blogs that fits the category of resumes and career planning for college and even high school students.
Job Search Challenge
Are you struggling with your job search? Does it seem that around every corner is another dead end? Are you receiving advice upon advice, but none of it is helping? Have you written, rewritten, and written your resume over and over?
If there is any comfort in this; you are not alone. Job searches are challenging, frustrating, and full of disappointments. Even sadder is that there is no quick or sure answer; except perseverance.
With all of this appearing to be stacked against you; what do you do? How do you move forward?
There Are No Easy or Guaranteed Answers or Solutions
I am not about to tell you that there is some easy solution, because there is not. What I am going to tell you, however, is that you will survive. How do I know that you will survive? Because I have survived!
I have a great education, excellent work history, I have been in a great industry full of opportunities; but that does not mean that I was protected from unemployment. In fact my unemployment has never included unemployment benefits.
I have had unemployment or underemployment periods from two or three months to 30 months over a four year period. You can lose your home, you can lose your cars, I have even slept in a car. I have gone from $125.00 per hour to $8.50 per hour. Every time, however, I have pulled through and you can to.
By nature we are survivors; we are born to succeed and to win. It may not seem like it; but it is the truth. You need to do whatever you can legally do to pull yourself and your family through.
Tom Staskiewicz is a survivor of multiple bouts of unemployment. He understands that you cannot get down on yourself, you must keep pushing forward, and you must have perseverance. He did it and you can do it too! Tom is a Career and Accountability Coach. He helps people through the tough times. If you need help contact Tom.
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.
- You become more complacent and accepting of your non-job status.
- 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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
- To build you up when you or others are down on you.
- To provide you with ideas for your resume or on-line profile when you need to demonstrate what you have accomplished.
- To review just prior to going into your interview so that you have a positive feeling about yourself.
- To review just prior to going for your annual or semi-annual performance review.
- 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;
- What are you doing to yourself?
- How are you or others beating you up?
- What are you doing to stop the beatings?
- 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.
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.
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 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.