career advice

4 Ways To Reconnect With Your Career

by Jenny Yerrick Martin

Remember all those years ago when you first started down your career path, making steady progress or landing a job you were sure you would want forever? Or maybe you just accepted a job that seemed promising, or that you felt was the best you could do, and one thing led to another – leaving you stuck without even a honeymoon period to look back fondly on?

It happens a lot. We wake up and don’t want the job that we’ve got. It pays decently, or more-than-decently, and/or provides some other Holy Grail-type perks, such as flex time or, the Grail of all Grails, good group health insurance. And yet, we keep humming the old Peggy Lee song, “Is That All There Is?” as we toil away at our desks. Honestly, it feels like someone else’s job sometimes, even while we’re doing it.

But there are ways to reconnect with your career, to find the right path and course-correct, no matter what phase of your career you are in. Here are four exercises that will help you clarify what’s missing, so you know whether what you need is a little tweak or a complete reboot.

  1. Take Inventory

Really break down what is and isn’t working for you in your current position. You feel comfortable in the environment, for instance, but the actual work you are doing is a dull grind. Get specific and create two lists: “Like” and “Don’t Like.”

  1. Retrace Your Steps

Go to previous jobs and break down what worked and didn’t work for you in each one. Was there a job you had in the past that you loved? What was it that loved? Were you working in a field you were passionate about? Being challenged by big projects on tight deadlines? Again, get specific and break it down into “Liked” and “Didn’t Like.” Yes, even in a job you loved, there was something about it that you didn’t love. Don’t gloss over that. The pay was low, the hours were crazy, or the boss was a tyrant? Include it in your breakdown.

  1. Go Back To Class

Don’t despair if you’ve never had a job you loved, if you feel you got off on the wrong foot right out of school. Think back to your student days. What classes did you love? Was the Advanced Marketing class your favorite? Why? Was it the group projects, the psychology behind getting people to buy, the amazing mentorship by the professor? These are clues to help you discover what you are currently missing, and what could be the key to career satisfaction.

  1. Indulge In Envy

You know when you get together with your friends and one friend is always talking about her job? It sounds like she is complaining, but you know she is really bragging because it’s an AWESOME job that you would KILL for. You wish you had a job like hers.

Again, start making a list. What is it about your friend’s job that you envy? What would you not want from her job? You love the idea of giving presentations to rooms full of people, but not of flying to Timbuktu to do it. Once you’ve broken down that friend’s job, think about other people whose jobs you envy? Get specific. There is gold in that envy.

Once you have done these four exercises, you should have a better idea of what you are not getting from your current job and maybe more importantly, what you are getting. There may be a way to somehow change your current job to make it more of a fit (make a lateral move into a more dynamic department or with a boss who has less micromanagement tendencies, for instance).

Or, it may be that, as you suspected, the job is just the wrong fit in so many basic ways that you have to get out. Use the results of these exercises as a guide so when you make your plan, you have a more complete picture of where your career happiness lies.

Read the original posting on Careerealism HERE

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How To Handle Cancelling An Interview

In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a growing complaint among my friends who are small business owners. They’ve experienced an increase in candidates not showing for interviews or cancelling an interview at the last minute with wacky excuses. If you have been invited for an interview, but can’t attend for some reason, take the following steps to ensure that you don’t burn bridges to future employment.

Contact Them ASAP

As soon as you know you won’t be able to interview, contact your recruiter or the person who set-up the meeting. Most recruiters and hiring managers are understanding enough to realize that life happens and it sometimes gets in the way of even the best intentions. If possible, try to reach the person in multiple ways, via phone and e-mail, to ensure that your message is received. Politely request that the person call or e-mail you back with confirmation that your message was received.

Be Honest

There’s probably a legitimate reason why you can’t attend the interview at the established time. Be honest and convey that message. If your reason is legitimate, there’s probably a good chance that the interview can be rescheduled at a more convenient time. There’s really not a need to make up excuses or tell lies. Your honesty does not need to include specific details about an illness or family emergency. In fact, most interviewers won’t want to know the specific reason, especially if it’s something personal or medical-related.

Apologize And Move Forward

Recognize that you are causing an inconvenience, apologize, and determine next steps. If you still want an opportunity to be considered for the job, end your conversation by asking about setting up an alternate interview time.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to obtain a new position with another employer before the interview, it’s still best to call and share that information with the recruiter or hiring manager. No shows are very frustrating because the interviewers have blocked time on their calendars to meet with you. If you aren’t interested in being considered for the position any longer, you can help the employer by allowing them to resume the recruiting and interviewing process.

Furthermore, there may be a time in the future that you will again want to be considered for a position with that employer. If that’s the case, it’s best to handle interview cancellations professionally and with tact. Many companies maintain candidate files and would be able to refer back if you re-submit a resume or application for consideration. If you’ve blown off an interview once, it could hurt your chances of being asked to interview again in the future.

Read more interviewing tips at http://www.careerealism.com/cancelling-interview-how-to/#hEoe7eCbYOWZ7Wc8.99

What Are Employers Discovering About Candidates Through Social Media?

Recruiter 1: “So, how’s your Facebook investigation going?” Recruiter 2: “Oh, you know — finding the usual: Some inappropriate photos, tons of really poor communication skills, misspellings across the board. Recruiter 3: “Really? I’ve been all over Twitter, and I’m finding that most candidates are showing a ton of creativity in their tweets and have a have really wide range of interests that would fit in great with our company culture.”

 

No, I didn’t overhear this conversation at my local watering hole last night (I know, shocker!). Chances are you didn’t, either — but I’d be willing to bet more than a few of you are using social networking sites to research candidates, whether you’re looking to find the best people–or weed out the worst. How can I be so sure? Well, 37 percent of employers reported they’re using social networking sites to research job seekers’ every online move, according to a new CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers and HR professionals. But the motives for doing so are, just like job seekers’ reasons for using social media, extremely varied, and the number of employers and recruiters who admit they screen on social media versus those actually do is, I suspect, also quite different. Let’s take a closer look at what employers are looking for… and what they’re actually finding.

(SEE THE INFOGRAPHIC)

What kind of dirt are they digging up?

Though 12 percent of hiring managers say they’re using social media to find reasons not to hire a candidate, most say they’re trying to dig deeper than the traditional interview to find out:

  • Whether the candidate presents himself/herself professionally – 65 percent
  • If the candidate is a good fit for the company culture – 51 percent
  • More about the candidate’s qualifications – 45 percent
  • Whether the candidate is well-rounded – 35 percent

Who’s using social media recruiting most, and where?

 
  • IT is the industry using it the most, at a whopping 52 percent. The least? Health care, at 28 percent.
  • Employers are primarily using Facebook (65 percent) and LinkedIn (63 percent) to research candidates; 16 percent use Twitter.

Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, cautions employers not to get too cozy with candidates’ online personas:

“Because social media is a dominant form of communication today, you can certainly learn a lot about a person by viewing their public, online personas. However, hiring managers and human resources departments have to make a careful, determined decision as to whether information found online is relevant to the candidates’ qualifications for the job.”

 

Are job seekers their own worst enemy when it comes to social?

Job candidates are using social media — that’s obviously not something that’s going to change anytime soon. However, things aren’t looking so good for many of them when it comes to employment: a third (34 percent) of hiring managers who currently research candidates on social media said they’ve found information that’s caused them to stop short in their tracks and run the other way.

There is a great opportunity for job seekers to become more aware of the public information they’re putting out there for the world — and their potential future employer — to see, and to start taking control of the message and use it to their job-seeking advantage rather than their detriment. After all, this type of behavior or information has already cost many candidates a job.

34 percent of employers said the following social media discoveries led to a candidate not getting the gig:

  • Candidate posted provocative/inappropriate photos/info – 49 percent
  • There was information about the candidate drinking or using drugs – 45 percent
  • Candidate had poor communication skills – 35 percent
  • Candidate bad mouthed previous employer – 33 percent
  • Candidate made discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, or other – 28 percent
  • Candidate lied about his or her qualifications – 22 percent

Getting employers to “Like” them

OK, OK, so many of you (ahem) may have found things that have caused you to shy away from hiring a candidate. And maybe you were looking for something to validate an opinion about a candidate you’d already formed. However, you likely don’t always use social media to screen candidates out: 29 percent of hiring managers said some discoveries have led to them extending a candidate an offer:

  • They got a good feel for candidate’s personality – 58 percent
  • Candidate conveyed a professional image –55 percent
  • Background information supported candidate’s professional qualifications – 54 percent
  • Candidate was well-rounded and showed a wide range of interests – 51 percent
  • Candidate had great communication skills – 49 percent
  • Candidate was creative – 44 percent
  • Other people posted great references about the candidate – 34 percent.

Again, this is a great opportunity for job seekers to tailor the message to their advantage, and it’s also great for employers, as they may actually be able to get a view into not only the strongest aspects of a candidate’s professional reputation but also their personality. As Haefner stresses to job seekers, “Filter out anything that can tarnish your professional reputation and post communications, links and photos that portray you in the best possible light.”

Source: CareerBuilder

2012 study on social media

Do You Manage Your Career Like A First Date?

First date.. Career… You heard me correctly!

Do you manage your career like a first date?

I remember what it was like to be single. That was over thirty years ago but I remember the awkward feelings of trying to find someone who would just go out with me on a date.

When I graduated from high school I was 6 feet 4 inches tall and a mere 145 pounds. I had a big head of red hair. I was no chick magnet!

I was an awkward nerd.

I tried to make myself attractive to the opposite sex. I picked clothes so that girls would notice me.

Now you wordsmith your LinkedIn Profile so that recruiters will notice you. You are establishing your brand just like I was trying to be stylish.

When I asked a girl out, I was just hoping not to be rejected. You submit your applications and pray that the recruiter calls you.

When I got a date, I was just trying to make a good impression. Was she the right girl for me? I was not worried about that I just wanted her to like me. When you go for an interview you are just praying that they call you back for a second interview. You just want them to like you.

Does this sound familiar? It should because this is how many of you manage your career.

  • You scour job boards looking for a date…. oh I mean a job
  • When you find a girl….  a job that meets your requirements you send in your resume and pray you will hear a response
  • When she calls…. I mean the recruiter calls you put your best foot forward hoping not to get rejected
  • When you get the first phone interview you try to sound like a nice guy… I mean like a experienced professional but still hoping not to get rejected
  • When you get the first interview you put you really try to show your stuff off… I mean you try to demonstrate your outstanding skills and talents
  • When you get the second interview, you are thinking will I get to second base with her… no I mean get an offer.

Are you concerned that this might not be the job for you? Heck no! You just want to get the next step!

You should be concerned on whether there is the right chemistry between the boss and you. Are you going to be happy in this next position?

Your job search is just like dating! You have to date to get married. Not every date turns into marriage. In the job search you have to interview to get the job. Not every interview turns into a job. Half of all marriages end in divorce.

Your career is very much like a marriage. It is about finding common ground, compromises, happiness, successes,….

Have you gone on a date that you just wanted to walk out? I hear there are strategies for that now.

Have you gone into an interview prepared to ask all of the right questions? Is this the right job for you?

Do you even know what the right job for you is?

What kind of boss do you want?

What kind of team do you function best on?

How do you want to be rewarded? Most of us want a combination of the following:

  • The bonus check
  • Public recognition
  • Pat on the back from the boss
  • Pat on the back from your team
  • Pat on the back from your client

How much variety do you want in your day?

Do you know what you need in a work environment and then how to determine whether you are going to get what you need?

Have you taken a job and suddenly said — what have I gotten into!

Finding your next job is serious business just like finding a spouse. There must be the right chemistry to make the relationship work… oh I mean the workplace fun and rewarding.

Go find that perfect match. Go find the perfect job for you. One that meets all of your requirements and reject those that do not.

By Mark Miller: Original Posting via Purzue

What’s “Fit” Got to Do With It?

Companies today are looking for more than just education, experience, and transferable skills.  With an increasing price tag on turnover, recruiters and hiring managers are looking deeper into the intangibles.  The article below gives good perspective on what “fit” has to do with anything.

How often have you heard something like this when you’ve been rejected for a job: “We found someone who we feel is a closer fit.”

When you know in your heart that you have all the skills, experience and education that the employer seeks, it is only natural to ask: “How can they say that I’m not a right fit?”

You might reprise Tina Turner’s song with modified lyrics: “What’s fit got to do with it?”

Using “fit” can be a fudgy kind of excuse that employers give when they don’t want to risk revealing the real reason someone else beat you out for that prized opportunity. Employers aren’t under any obligation to reveal the reasons that they reject any given candidate. And, they are reticent to do so lest it open them up to unwanted protracted discussion, or even to a lawsuit.

“Fit,” however, often really is the issue. Employers are rightly concerned these days about more than just melding a candidate’s skills and a job’s responsibilities. In a landmark survey, Leadership IQ determined that a shocking 46 percent of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months, and that technical competence was only related to 11 percent of those failures.

Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, contends that the managers who fared significantly better than their peers in their hiring decisions focused their emphasis on interpersonal and motivational issues. The survey suggests that the key elements of fit that make for long-term employee success include “coachability,” emotional intelligence (or “the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions, and accurately assess others’ emotions”), motivation, and temperament, which includes one’s attitude and personality.

So what is a job hunter to do?

1. Search for a great fit, not just a great job. While the need for an immediate paycheck can be very real and pressing, remember that signing on now to a job with a poor fit can be very costly for you later on. Each time you apply for a job you’ll likely have to explain all the transitions from one company to the next on your resume. If at all possible, you want to avoid in future job hunts having to explain why the job you take now just didn’t work out. Even if you’re successful in obtaining and taking an ill-fitting job now and becoming one of those 48 percent who fail within the first 18 months, you can create a red flag in your own future.

2. Look for companies that fit your personality and work style. Rather than randomly applying to a large number of jobs at many companies, look beyond job descriptions. Slow down and take the time to learn something about each company to which you want to apply. What do current and former employees say about its corporate culture? Does the company encourage teamwork and camaraderie, or is it every person for him/herself? It is a company that cares about its employees enough to have mentoring programs, and are you open to them? Are managers hard to access, likely to be available when you need them, or are they ever-present micro-managing one’s every movement? Which management style do you need to be successful? Learn about these and other fit issues on sites like Glassdoor.com, Vault.com, etc.

3. Use your interview to demonstrate your fit. You can do this in a couple of different ways if you’re well prepared. First, weave in things that demonstrate your fit into your interview. For example, if you know that a company wants to mold their employees through mentoring, you might talk about how much you appreciated being mentored in some past experience and how it helped you to grow professionally. This can be especially powerful if you can use it in answering a question, “Tell me about an area of your weakness.”

Second, if you haven’t had an opportunity to weave your fit stories into the early part of an interview, use your research when you ask your own questions at the end. You might pose something like: “I thrive in an environment where [fill in the blank with something about yourself that matches with the company’s culture]. If I were to work here, is that what I would likely experience?”

Sometimes fit really is a wimpy excuse used in rejection letters. Yet, if you can demonstrate your fit for a role in addition to showing that you have the right skill set and experience, you increase your chances of hearing: “We think that you would make a great addition to our company, and would like you to start within the next two weeks.”

Happy hunting!

Source: US News, by Arnie Fertig

5 Ways to Become an Efficient Job Seeker

Are you the kind of job hunter who feels that the search is taking over your life? Perhaps you sense that you’re spinning your wheels, putting in lots of hours looking for that new job and never gaining traction. Maybe you can relate to the person who stays up ’til all hours of the night, prowling job boards and sending a resume to anything that looks remotely interesting. If your job hunt consumes every waking moment, it is time to put it into perspective and more effectively utilize your time and energy.

Here are some things that you can do to gain control of your job hunt, save time, and allow you to appropriately balance it with the other parts of your life:

1. Treat your job hunt as a job. Define and schedule your “on” and “off” hours. Work hard and be productive while you are “on,” but also carve out guilt-free “off” time for proper work-life balance. As you gain that balance, you’re likely to find that you’re working more efficiently and productively.

2. Organize your time. Determine in advance how much time to allocate to each task, and focus exclusively on one thing at a time according to the schedule you lay out for yourself. If necessary, set a timer on your computer or phone to prompt you to go on to the next thing. While many people feel that they thrive on multitasking, studies have repeatedly shown that this doesn’t work as well as we tend to believe that is does.

Whatever puts you closest to nailing down a job offer should get top priority, and dealing with people always trumps impersonal online activities. Top priority goes to preparing for and following up actual interviews. Next is following up with networking opportunities, then comes creating new networking opportunities, etc.

Make time in your schedule for in-person business networking, researching new companies and their openings, participating in job hunter networking groups in person and online, and expanding your personal brand on LinkedIn.

3. Organize your desk. It can be altogether overwhelming to come into your home-office and see piles and piles of disorganized papers. Allocate some time each day to throwing out or shredding whatever you can part with, and putting everything else into a file or folder.

Rule of thumb: Only touch each piece of paper once. Deal with it, and don’t just keep shuffling paper or creating piles that you plan to deal with later.

At the end of your job-hunting business day, clear everything off your desk so that you can start fresh the next day.

4. Organize your computer. Create a filing system that works for you. You will benefit by having a folders for research, applications sent, each company with which you’re actively speaking, each recruiter you’re actively working with, networking groups, etc.

5. Don’t bother reinventing the wheel. There are many repetitive tasks that you can automate so you don’t have to “rethink” them time after time.

Examples:

a. You can save the URL of search results on Google, Yahoo, and Bing as a hyperlinked cell in your spreadsheet. Make each one a separate line, and in the next column remind yourself of what the search was for. On a regular basis, repeat the search by clicking the link and your results will be updated. In a similar way you can track company websites, specific job postings, etc.

b. Use Google Alerts to follow people, companies, or topics of interest and get a note in your inbox automatically. For example, if you follow a person, every time his/her name comes up in the news or a web posting, you’ll immediately receive word.

c. Within LinkedIn you can also follow people or companies of interest. When you do, you will get ongoing updates whenever their status or something else about them changes.

Central to the effectiveness of any time management strategy must be your desire and commitment to manage your time. When you begin the process, you may be amazed to see how much more productive your time can be, how your job search process can be enhanced, and how you will enable yourself to engage in a healthy work-life balance.

Happy hunting!

US News    Arnie Fertig