When finding yourself without a job you can only feel depressed if you don’t want another job. Well OK – may be you spent more than 5 years with the company and got so comfortable you pictured all your life there. You have a lot of friends still working there and you really felt free to express yourself and your creativity. You were really happy at your prior job. Well – in that case I will make an exception and give you half a day. Take the afternoon off, drink, cry, sleep – do whatever you do to grieve. By the evening I want you back here with me. You need to start building the rest of your life and I want you to feel happy, motivated and enthusiastic. Because the rest of your life will be happy and full of good energy – right? I am sure you want nothing less. So take the afternoon off – then come back here, but without any anxiety, stress or bad moods. You are your own boss now and it’s time to tell yourself: “This is the drawing board for my future and it starts with finding the right job.”a
#2 Failing to Focus
Your routines are changing and all of a sudden you have all this free time. You can actually smell the roses, go for a walk, fix the car/garden or finally get to the mall… WRONG! You only have free time if you have created a detailed plan for your job-hunt, listed all the daily activities (8 hours is like a minimum) and if your to-do list for the day is complete – then it was too short. That’s right! Focusing and getting organized from the beginning will preserve some of your good work habits and will help you cut the time you are without a job.
#3 Disregarding Definition
Before contacting employers, you need to know what you’re marketing and to whom. Defining yourself as the ‘Best possible candidate’ for a job requires you to learn how your education, skills and experience apply to the expectations of the hiring managers. For each application you should know to what extent your background can be presented as the ‘perfect fit’, or at least a good-enough-to-call-for-an-interview fit. Because if you don’t know that and you are just sending a resume with the hope to get ‘lucky’ – then you are playing a lottery and this is simply wrong. It is wrong not because you can’t get lucky, but it is wrong because you are consciously wasting your time. So stop doing that. It is better to spend 4 hours preparing a customized resume and cover letter for one position that you see as a great fit than to spend these 4 hours sending 40 standard resumes to random positions from a job-board.
#4 Skipping Inventory of Your Assets
The assumption that you know all your marketable skills is partially true and this is what makes it such a bad trap. Let me give you an example. A very good friend of mine – Joe, with whom I went to grad-school, was on my team for a project in database design. We learned together how to do the databases, and as a side exercise we also played around with how to link databases with an Internet interface. Because this was in the late 1990-s and all the Internet stuff was still relatively new we had a lot of fun with it. Years later Joe called me for career advice. He had gone to a series of interviews but was getting desperate because there was no job-offer. I asked him for the inventory of his marketable skills and it turned out Joe had not compiled this list. So we went through the exercise and among the other things he listed our school project – creating and interfacing databases with the Internet. This was something he had completely forgotten about and it just came up during our conversation. The very next day he went to interview for a Marketing Manager position and his interview went just like all the others until the end. The interviewer asked if Joe had anything else to add at the end. Joe remembered the list and gave a few items, including the database-to-Internet skills. In Joe’s words – the interviewer almost jumped from his seat. Because of that ‘minor’ expertise, Joe was offered the job in a couple of days. His success came only three days after we did his Inventory of Marketable skills. Make sure you let us know how long it takes to for YOU to reap success from this exercise at: Contact is below
#5 Neglecting to Investigate the Industry, the Job-Market, the Company
These days the winds of change are blowing through Healthcare, Automotive, Banking, and Government to name a few. How about in the field where you want to apply? Are you familiar with the latest industry trends? Do you know how these trends are affecting the job-market in you area or the company where you want to apply? You should. So get on Infotrac, Google, the Wall Street Journal – find the latest news, read the analysis, educate yourself. Putting your job-application in perspective could be a critical strength that will put you in front of the pack.
#6 Ruling Out Opportunities too Early
So this is a director or VP position, but you were a manager. You skip to the next one. Or do you? Should you? You should read each job description carefully before making a decision. Quite a few smaller companies are willing to give the right candidate a step-up if he or she has the right mix of skills and attitude. In some organizations all the client-interfacing employees are with the title ‘Vice President’. Other companies avoid hierarchy by labeling everybody ‘associate’.
#7 Avoiding Job-Hunting Support and Services
The Job-hunt is a learning process and getting help from resume-writers, career counselors, and recruiting specialists will only speed up and improve your chances of getting you to your next job. Working with someone on your career will not only bring you the sense of teamwork, it will enrich your perspective and ultimately will improve your end-result. In all fairness to you – you don’t need to just get to the next job – you need this done faster and you need this job to be better than the previous one, no matter how good the previous one was. So… email me and schedule your personal consultation.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Imagine you are an entrepreneur who wants to build a new hospital in a village in Botswana, Africa. However, the local rules require you to meet with and get approval from the local tribal chief, who happens to have no formal education and does not speak English. So how do you prepare for this?
As a person who spent 8 months in a provincial village in Botswana, helping build the local telephone system, I can tell that no amount of preparation can be useful when meeting with the local tribal chief (and yes – they do have the last word according to the law). The chief was smart, self-educated, old man, who while listening to my translated arguments looked at me carefully and evaluated me as a person. I was about to ‘invade’ his community and he wanted to know if I would be a good fit as a person, to the culture of his village.
This is pretty much what happens with every good hiring manager – you can be the best at what you do, and yet the manager may find a better fit.
As an international student at Babson and associate at the MBA career office in 1997, I encountered these cultural issues and decided that it must be because I am from Bulgaria – a different culture. Then I discovered that a fellow Babsonite from Iowa had the same issues. Then another born-in-the-USA job-hunter shared she had the same issues. After careful analysis we believe it is all due to the fact that there is no homogeneous culture among the US companies. Each one of them is a tribe of its own.
So this is how I decided to put the DVD “Mastering the Job Interview” together. And I am greatly encouraged by the positive feedback I am getting from many college professors and career specialists. Check it out and let me know what you think.