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.

Advertisements

Job Search – What Are You Made Of?

Are You a Survivor?

I recently finished listening to “The Survivor’s Club” by Ben Sherwood. This should be mandatory reading for anyone that is unemployed or under employed and looking for work!

The book is not about employment and there is nothing in it employment related; it is simply stories about survival against the greatest of odds. Some of the important characteristics that are made by all of the survivor stories include:

  1. Faith
  2. Courage
  3. Commitment
  4. Determination

As I listened to these stories the parallels that can be drawn to the challenges faced by job seekers is easy to see.

Faith

Job seekers must have faith and know that the right job is out there for them. So many job seekers are susceptible to the negative thoughts of their own and others; that they forget about the importance of faith. Whether that faith is placed in a supreme being or faith in themselves is irrelevant. Faith is a critical characteristic necessary to overcome the influence of the negatives.

Courage

The unemployed and under employed must remain courageous throughout their ordeal. Yes, I said ordeal, because that is just what it is. Finding that next opportunity is a challenge and especially in this job market. Regardless of what they say in Washington and elsewhere about things improving; if you are out of work or under employed – you just do not see what they are seeing.

It takes courage to maintain your faith and your persistence, but you absolutely have no choice. Courage can help you stay positive and committed; which you must. Without these traits prospective employers and recruiters may see through the veneer and realize that you are desperate. Employers do not want desperate employees; they want people that are in control and will be productive.

Commitment

Are you committed to your job seeking process? I mean are you really committed to the process? Many job seekers profess to be committed but when “push comes to shove” it is a half-hearted commitment. Where are you in the process?

One of the first things that you must be ready to do is to change. No, not change someone else, but to change yourself. What is your mindset when it comes to describing yourself?

      Do you see yourself as someone that changes as necessary or are you set in your ways?
      Do you see yourself as possessing a set of skills or do you see yourself as the job title you previously held?
      Do you see yourself as someone willing to learn new things or as someone who is too old to learn?
      Do you see yourself as someone with too little experience or someone willing to work to gain experience?

Commitment says that you have moved past these self-limiting beliefs and that you are ready to progress. To progress in your career and job search requires that you have a willingness and desire to change. Without change you cannot progress; in fact, you cannot even tread water. Without change you will drift with the current and it will take you over the waterfall, through the rapids, or out to see. When you drift you are powerless to control your destiny.

Determination

A successful job search requires determination that will see you through any setbacks or negativity. If you do not get the job, there is a reason. You may not agree, you may strongly disagree; but if you cannot put it behind you – you cannot progress.

Progression is they key and to progress you must move all of the negatives, your own or those of others, out of your way. You must have a strong belief in yourself, you must love yourself, you must be willing to continue moving forward, in spite of the negatives.

If you have people that are telling you that you cannot do it, that you are ridiculous to think you can do it, and any of the other negatives; get rid of them! You do not need that in your life. If they cannot pick up on your vision and support you in your efforts; what good are they? Some will say you need a dose of reality; maybe so, just not their reality. Do not let others put the box around you and do not box yourself in.

Commitment says that you will not allow yourself to be boxed in by yourself or anyone else. You are committed to making it through to your desired goal.

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.

The Value of Your LinkedIn Connections

The Value of Your LinkedIn Connections.

Here are four ideas that you can put to use immediately to make LinkedIn work for you.

  • The use of keywords in your profile, job titles, summary, current position, etc are key to great search results. Make those keywords consistent as long as they do not change the accuracy of your profile. If you were an IT Security Consultant; you should try to avoid having other entries as an IT Security Project Manager. The repetitiveness of the keywords will raise your Search Ranking and therefore your placement in the results. Read my Blog Post The Value of Using Keywords in Your LinkedIn Profile.
  • Build your connections – when you add LinkedIn connections you are increasing your sphere of influence. Your LinkedIn connections are just the tip of the iceberg; you know the part that is out of the water. As with icebergs, the strength lies in the part that you cannot see. If you have 100 of your own connections you are connected to a several thousand below the water line.
  • LinkedIn’s search capabilities are an untapped resource for most job seekers. For a simple experiment go to the search box, pull down and select companies, and click search. I guarantee you will be amazed at the number of companies that come up. You will only see those where you have contacts of current or previous employees. Next select a company and look at the details. You will find the names and level of contact for each of those companies. You can also find the open positions within that company.
  • For the companies that you have targeted; look at the profiles of current employees and find out the groups they have joined. Join the groups and be an active participant so your name has the opportunity to get in front of the current employees. If you see something in the news about that company; you can use this group connection as a means to reach out to the individuals and share what you have learned. Just because they work for the company does not mean they hear all the news. A good way to get the latest is by setting up a Google alert on the company and even key employees.
  • Stay tuned for more ideas on how you can use LinkedIn or other Social Networking sites to enhance your job search.

    Avoid LinkedIn Mistakes by Doing the Following

    Do Not Waste Your LinkedIn Presence

    I recently read an article on the 13 LinkedIn Mistakes You Should Avoid by Suzanne Vara.

    In her posting Suzanne reinforces points that I have made regarding the importance of your LinkedIn Profile.

    I am adding my additional commentary on Suzanne’s points.

    1. You must personalize your profile using the profile edit capability and changing the default URL.
    2. Identify your personal and company websites with the specific name, do not use the defaults of “My Company” and “My Website”.
    3. Do not flag your profile as private, unless you really do not want to be found. You should have a public profile that can be found by the Search Engines.
    4. Join Groups – this is the way to reach your target community. You can join a maximum of 50 groups, but sub-groups do not count toward that maximum.
    5. Participate in group discussions – Groups are your opportunity to establish yourself as an expert and to spread your sphere of influence. The more people that you reach the greater your chance of accomplishing your goals.
    6. Ask and Answer Questions – Your goal should be to again establish yourself as an expert and as someone that recognizes that you do not know it all and others can help. Graciously give and receive.
    7. Do not link every tweet. This is a hard one, because you want to give your connections a complete picture of yourself, but because this is a business community you want to keep somewhat of a business focus. Connect to your Twitter account and if you want your status on LinkedIn add #in to the end of the Tweet.
    8. Connect to your company page – If your CURRENT COMPANY does not have a page you can create one. The caveat here is to use the OFFICIAL name that other employees will use. You cannot create a company page for a company where you no longer work.
    9. Create a complete profile that tells your story. Make sure you add your picture so people finding your profile will know that it is you. You do not want your brand scarred because you failed to differentiate and somebody less reputable was associated with your brand.
    10. LinkedIn is for connecting; not blatant selling. Do not turn people off with an immediate sales pitch. This is where discussions and Q&A are so important. When you have a solution that will help with a problem; then the selling can start.
    11. Keep your status current. Do not let it sit idle for months on end. That practice shows that you are not involved or committed to LinkedIn.
    12. When you start a conversation and someone comments; you must comment in return. Do not leave your participants hanging waiting for a reply.
    13. Give recommendations and once given you may ask for recommendations. Make sure that the recommendations you give are relevant and help to tell the individual’s story. “Jack is a great guy and you will be lucky to have him in your organization” is not a powerful recommendation. Tell people what Jack accomplished so they can get an accurate picture of Jack. Also, give Jack a chance to comment and request changes to your recommendation. You do not want the recommendation to become a fabrication, but you do want to work with Jack; so he will be willing to work with you on your recommendation.

    My Additions to Suzanne’s List

    1. Increase the value of your network – “Weak” connections constitute the primary value of your network. Yes, your first level connections are valuable, but the real value are the connections belonging to your first and second level connections.
    2. The use of keywords in your profile, job titles, summary, current position, etc are key to great search results. Make those keywords consistent as long as they do not change the accuracy of your profile. If you were an IT Security Consultant; you should try to avoid having other entries as an IT Security Project Manager. The repetitiveness of the keywords will raise your Search Ranking and therefore your placement in the results.
    3. Suzanne pointed out that you have a limit that you can only join 50 groups (again not including sub-groups). Considering that limit do not waste your group options. If a group is not actively discussing topics and contributing information; find another group! Belonging to an inactive group will not build your brand or increase your sphere of influence.
    4. Create your own groups; as the group owner you have more opportunities to communicate and increase your sphere of influence. Make sure, however, that your group is active by your own and other’s posts.
    5. If you attempt to join a group and it takes an eternity for approval; do not waste your time. Find another group or start your own group on the same topic.

    Read Suzanne’s post for her perspectives on the subject.

    Email Tom and visit UPPROACH to receive more Social Networking tips for businesses and job seekers.

    Copyright UPPROACH, 2010