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 – 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.

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.

Do You Know What Your On-Line Presence Says About You

Your Internet Presence

Virtually everyone today has an Internet presence. If for some reason you do not; you will attract as much attention as you would with a poor Internet presence. What story does your Internet presence tell people?

Have you ever taken the time to Google your name, enter it on Yahoo, or Bing? You must do this; you must know what is on the Internet pertaining to you! Go to Google.com and type in your name, press the enter key, and see what comes up. Are you happy with the result? Are you seeing, and therefore a recruiter or hiring manager seeing, what you would like them to see?

What Is Unacceptable Information

Things that are unacceptable include:

  • Pictures that show you in compromising situations.
  • Inappropriate language or posting from you or your friends.
  • Pictures or stories that include you in illegal activities, even as basic as under age drinking.
  • Discussions and stories that are derogatory to you or others.
  • Negative comments you have made about employers, businesses, other people
  • Negative comments about teachers, managers, supervisors, and other authority figures.
  • Insulting or disparaging comments about friends and associates.

Any of these items can be the negative that causes the recruiter or hiring manager to reject you as an employee. This is not discrimination, this is just business. Businesses cannot afford to hire employees that may bring discredit on the business, negative attention, or other adverse effects.

What employees and prospective employees bring to the business can be critical to the business success. You, as an employee, must bring positives; not negatives.

How Do You Clean Up Your On-Line Presence?

Cleaning up your on-line presence starts with your Social Networking. You need to remove any photos or information that is negative. If you started the discussion, you can delete the entire discussion. If you commented on a discussion, you can remove your comments. If you have friends or connections that are offensive you can unfriend or remove them.

Take the offensive information out of your on-line presence and do it now!

What If Your Removal Offends Your Friend or Friends

If the postings of friends and connections is negative, you can ask them to change their behavior because it jeopardizes your opportunities. If they are unwilling to help you, then they truly are not very good friends and you are probably better off without them.

If you are serious about having a good on-line reputation, then you must think of yourself first and make the necessary choices. Obviously your goal is not to hurt others or their feelings, but it is to ensure that you are presented in a positive light.

After the Clean Up

Once you have cleaned up those things that you can; what is left? If you still have negative or derogatory information, what can you do to eliminate or at least mitigate the impact.

One way is to create positive Internet articles related to you. Participate in events or organizations that generate positive information and get involved. Join organization boards, involve yourself in civic activities, write your own blog articles, comment on popular blogs and leave your name, join LinkedIn, Facebook, and other Social Networking sites that receive high search engine rankings. Build your connections and friends lists which will raise your rankings. Create a Google Profile, put positive postings and videos on YouTube.

If you have many negatives associated with a Social Networking profile, delete the profile and start over.

What If the Negatives Are from Someone with the Same Name?

If you are being haunted by someone with the same name that has negative information; do not despair, you can address that as well.

Some of the steps you can take include:

  1. Post a consistent professional picture with all of your profiles.
  2. Use your middle initial, middle name, maiden name, nickname, or something else that will differentiate you.
  3. Create an Internet Gravatar (picture) that can be used for postings on sites where you cannot add your picture.
  4. Change your reference on your sites to a consistent name. Use the username function on Facebook, the change profile name on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., to capture your identity. Choose a name combination that no one else is using.

    Cut, purge, erase, delete, replace, create, post, comment, participate, and do any other positive things you can to recreate your on-line profile in a positive manner.

Using LinkedIn to Get a Job

LinkedIn is an essential tool for all job seekers. See the full article – Use LinkedIn to Get a Job

There are a few important tips that must be clarified on this list.

  1. A complete profile is important as stated, but you should keep your job titles consistent whenever possible. If you led a marketing group and one position was the director of marketing and the other vp of marketing this will look different in the search results. What can you do to make these similar for a search? This is as important to optimizing the search as having many contacts. You also want to use the phraseology consistently within your job descriptions and summary areas.
  2. Inviting people into your network is important, but they should be quality people. What I mean is they should be connected. Inviting someone with only a handful of connections does little for extending your sphere of influence. Compare inviting someone with 5 connections to someone with over 500 or even a few thousand. It makes a world of difference in your connectivity and exposure.
  3. LinkedIn can have a lot of information on your target company in addition to people. Glean the information on dollar sales, number of employees, etc. Be especially watchful of the comings and goings of individuals. You can see who has joined recently, who has been promoted recently, who has left, executives, etc. Is there upheaval happening, LinkedIn could tip you off.
  4. Join groups wisely. You are limited to 50. If you have target companies find out which groups the people working for that company have joined and join them yourself and become a participant. When they see your name coming from multiple directions it adds to your credibility. Join active groups. Look at the number of members, the number of discussions, the number of jobs posted; if the group has no activity it will not be effective. That is a group of joiners, not participants.
  5. When you participate, really participate. Don’t think that an off-hand great post, means you are participating. You need to be sharing information that will resonate with the group.
  6. Remember there are two types of job postings on LinkedIn. Those posted by recruiters, HR departments, etc that are paid and found under the jobs search and those that are posted by group members. From my experience these are separate and distinct lists.
  7. Participating in the questions and answers is great. One caution, however, post based upon your expertise, don’t hang yourself out there as the expert. There is always someone that will want to prove that you are not the “expert”. I have seen some very long and boring conversations as someone tries to push someone else off their perch.
  8. The LinkedIn search has awesome power and most people barely scratch the surface. Get daring and experiment with your searches; I guarantee that you will be amazed at what you find.
  9. Great point on promoting your blog and website. You must change the name to something that is more descriptive. Remember there is a search process that goes on and anything on your profile page is fair game for the Search Engine.
  10. My tidbits – contribute, contribute, contribute, and be consistent! When you add value to your network and groups you build your credibility, reliability, and trust. Consistency shows that you are not just someone that jumps in because you have nothing better to do.
  11. Comment on promotions of others in your network. Those comments get displayed to everyone on the recipients list.