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When is the best time to look for a new job?

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Guest post by David Gordon

I believe that the best time to sell something is when you don’t have to sell it. I also believe that the best time to buy something is when you don’t have to buy it.

Is there a relationship between this concept and finding a job?

In fact, yes. There are numerous traits in common with the above statement as it applies to career management or, finding that new job.

When we really need to sell something,  say a car for instance, because we can’t afford it anymore and the payments are stacking up, we’ve placed ourselves in a position of weakness and need. Weakness and need always compromises options and, almost always gets in the way of objectivity. It also undermines your control over timelines and actions.

Conversely; let’s say we’ve promised the family a vacation on a certain date. As the date approaches you realize that, as a result of procrastination, the date is two weeks away. Are your choices the same? Is your urgency of need the same; are you in control of the best options?

Managing your career is no different. If the best time to sell something is before you need to sell, then the best time to job hunt is before you become disillusioned with your current position or more seriously, believe that termination is imminent.

Job hunters are human beings and generally speaking, human beings share some certain traits.

1) We tend to procrastinate

2) We are change adverse

3) We can be lethargic about applying effort if the status quo is bearable.

Status quo, is that how you want to spend your career?

Managing your career starts with being pro-active, not re-active.

Re-active is “I hate my job and am miserable” or “I’m pretty sure I’m about to get laid off” and I need a new job, NOW!

You are now in a position of need. You loose objectivity because you can no longer remain emotionally detached and you have an urgent need with a short timeline. What happens, you settle for any job.

You no longer have the luxury of “shopping” and your decisions are clouded by stress, anxiety and urgency of need. You get a job, but is it the best job?

The best time to job hunt is when you like your job, when there is only a small puff of smoke with respect to job security versus a raging fire.

Finding the BEST job is different than finding any job.

To find the best job takes time. It takes objectivity and impartiality, almost indifference.

If you don’t really need something, you take your time; potential employers are trying to recruit you versus you trying to get them to hire you. In other words, you shop carefully.

Managing your career and next job is largely a practice of networking.

Real networking doesn’t mean attending industry functions or surfing Facebook. Real networking means identifying the industries, companies and decision makers within those companies whom you believe could enable the next logical career move on your behalf.

Conclusion: Take the time now. Identify who these companies/people are and make contact; turn that contact into a face to face meeting because that’s what works. Be  reasonable; ask for a ten minute sit down so you can learn more about their industry and their company’s aspirations and, let them know your intent isn’t “to get a job”.

Taking the time to invest in this strategy before you really need a new job takes the pressure off and allows total objectivity. Even more importantly, you won’t have that “odor” of really needing a new job and from that, you will be in a position of power.

Be process centric instead of results centric. The time to embark on this task is now, not at the moment of need.

David Gordon is an internationally recognized leader in The Pursuit of relationship Capital ® and through First Approach, has helped numerous corporations secure more and better new client relationships. Follow David @ www.firstapproach.biz  or twitter @salescallcoach.  

That’s a know, know!

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Tactics can win a battle, but strategy wins the war.  As you consider your career branding or job search efforts, it is important to separate the two.  Career Branding should be strategic while job search is often more tactical.

Too often people in business (and job search) get very anxious for results.  The reasoning is simple. There is always short term pressure for results.  So how do you avoid this pitfall and stay focused on a strategy?

Let’s look at two opposite perspectives.  Actions to lose, contrasted with actions to win.

1)     Some of the actions that will help you lose “the war” (and job search tactics to avoid):


  • Proceeding without a plan (rewriting your resume every day  or week should be avoided.)
  • Not having clear goals (Waiting to see what’s out there for you will lead to failure.)
  • Following the herd and easy path (Focus on job boards and waiting for the perfect job listing is a fools game.)
  • Submitting resumes online (Almost always required, it will almost never get you an interview or job.)
  • Positioning as a generalist (The workplace is looking for specialists, not generalists.)

2)      So conversely what actions help you win?

 Try a know, know strategy

Know what you want.   Know how you plan to go get it.

At what level you enter the paradigm is up to you.

If you are working on a high level personal branding goal, define your stated goal and work backward?

What do you want your brand to resonate:   world class expert, thought leader, a results oriented manager or a quality technology salesperson?

Once you’ve defined this, you can begin assessing and executing against your know-know strategy.

  •      Know your marketplace (industry)
  •       Know the positioning of others with in the marketplace (competing company strategies)
  •       Know the issues facing companies or hiring managers (pains, current and future)
  •       Know how you can bring insight and a better future state (your view, your value proposition and your differentiated state)
  •       Know how you can best articulate and reinforce your knowledge and points (your messaging)
  •       Know your daily, weekly and monthly plan to execute everything above.

In summary:

Know what you want.  Know how you plan to get it.

Or expect the undesired no-no.

 No personal brand and, potentially, no job.

Kindergarten Lessons applied to Career Branding

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All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten was published in the late 1980’s by Robert Fulghum.  It is an amazing reminder of how much everyone complicates life, goals, and rules to live by. (If you haven’t read it, get the book.)

We are deep in the age of information overload and people must find a way to clear away the clutter and simplify their lives for success.  As we think of career branding, I think Fulghum’s learning’s serve as great reminders as to how to conduct ourselves.

Below I have highlighted 11 kindergarten learning’s that really are applicable to personal branding, job search, and online identity management:

Share Everything: Sharing is central to social collaboration and may be the greatest value of the Internet.  Done properly it helps you establish your personal brand, build relationships and trust. (Personal branding + Relationships capital = Career branding)

Don’t take things that aren’t yours: In business, we equate this to original ideas. Too often business people consciously, unconsciously or coincidentally put forward thoughts, observations or strategies that are not their original work.  Give credit, where credit is due.  Think about blogging, things can get muddy with close to 500 million blogs currently active on the Internet.  Charles Caleb Colton said “Imitation is the sincerest form of flaterry” That said, as you build your brand online, be sure to credit others where appropriate.

Play fair: Integrity, honesty and strong moral values remain central skills to being successful in any corporate culture. (and life)

Never forget the first word we learned was not ‘Mom’, but ‘Look’:  Keep your eyes open at all times. Observe changes in your marketplace, your role, your companies operational efficiency and even your own skill set.  These observations and how you react to them are critical to successful career pathing.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you and/or take a nap every afternoon: The pace of technology, the pace of life and the pace of business have created new stresses unimaginable 20 years ago.  Never forget to give yourself a ‘decompression moment’ in every day.

Hold hands in traffic: Is there a better analogy for someone unemployed?  Remember the friend, neighbor or former colleague out of work in the current jobs recession desperately needs help navigating the traffic. Everyone else is buzzing by them on their commute.  Take time to hold hands! An important piece of career branding is helping others even when they may not be able to help you.

Flush: An obvious kindergarten teaching, I have also heard it used often in coaching kids sports. Bad things and mistakes do happen. Setbacks will occur.  Flush them and move on.

Don’t hit people: Alienating co-workers with different points of view will not help your career. Always be respectful and keep negative energy internal as much as possible. Career Branding is a multi decade process and by not ‘hitting people’ you will keep more doors open as you move through your career. Also remember, “Say you’re sorry if you hurt somebody”. 

Live a balanced life: Fulghum suggests; learn, draw, paint, think, sing, dance and play every day.

A career coaching line I have used for decades is: “When things feel overwhelming at work, remember: Health, Family, Fun and Work.  In that order.”

The recession, The Internet, The pace of change are complicating factors in everyone’s careers.  Step back and simplify your career branding strategy.

Remember what you learned in Kindergarten. Then apply it.

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After writing this article, and researching a title, I discovered Heather Huhman wrote a brief article linking job search to kindergarten lessons in January 2012. Similar concept with different observations, Check it out here

Seven Deadly Sins of Job Search-2012


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The article title is not an original.  It’s been used in many other career articles. We followed the pack on this one, because we are seeing too many individuals not optimizing their time to meet their goals.

A funny thing happened when researching what the original 7 deadly sins are.  There were more than 7 on the Internet.  The following were listed on different sites: Lust, Greed, Gluttony, Acedia, Hubris, Vanity, Lechery, Boasting, and Sloth to name but a few.  Still we move forward with our article because as we meet and strategize with the unemployed, we too often  hear of behaviors that creep into job search campaigns that can be traps.  They are tempting to spend significant time on, but low on true benefits.

1.       Starting one’s career branding when you are out of work. 

Let’s be clear, career branding is critical to a successful job search.  That said, if you are already out of work, it’s probably too late to truly impact your current job search in quick order.  Personal Brands take time to build and so do relationships.  These are the key ingredients to successful career branding.  (PB+RC = CB) You can start today, but do not expect this to be a quick results path.  Successful career branding simply takes an extended period of time.

2.      Over engineering a resume

The resume remains a key hiring document, but it is more an application than a selling document. It is not the key ingredient to getting hired.  It can serve a role of helping get through HR or recruiting, but in this day and age a LinkedIn profile is probably more important.  Despite these facts, an informal interview by Career Brander suggests the unemployed are changing their resume almost every week looking for the magic mix of words.  This is not a good use of time.  However, to be clear we do support customizing or tailoring a resume to a specific opportunity.  We just think this should be a quick ‘to do’ as opposed to a laborious regular part of your day.

3.      Not embracing technology

There is no doubt, technology and the internet in particular is critical to a modern day job search.  This is where recruiters (external and internal) begin their search for candidates.  Additionally there are lots of social sites, research sites, web tools and optimization software at the job seekers finger tips.  To not use them is like playing a round of golf with only a few clubs.

4.      Utilizing a one-dimensional plan

There are dozens of ways to go about a job search.  To market yourself, you need to utilize multiple channels.  This means networking with friends, former co-workers, former clients, neighbors etc… It means being visible online, being active in your professional community, connecting with recruiters, researching target companies and executing an outreach campaign.  Nurturing every contact and meeting on a consistent basis until such time as you land a job.  Similar to marketing departments at large companies, individuals cannot simply bet on only one go-to market strategy or they will diminish their likelihood of success.

5.      Replacing meetings with screen time

Every sales force in America strives for more time in front of prospects and customers and less time researching, pushing paper and or doing other ‘administrative tasks’.  Job search should be no different.  There is more one can do from their computer than ever before, but the reality is face time still rules the day.  Challenge yourself to spend over 50% of your search time in front of people.  Multiple face to face meetings a day, 4 days a week is a good goal.  Hard to achieve over a prolonged job search, but it still should be your goal.

6.      Missing your value statement

Generalists in business are not getting hired in this market.  Specialists are getting hired.  There are too many resumes, particularly for middle/upper middle managers that all look the same with folks claiming to be good at 6 different areas of business.

In the simplest terms, you solve a pain for companies. It could be work through put, client satisfaction, new revenue, quality oriented or many other things.  Understanding what you solve for and how you then package yourself in a clear concise manner to be the best choice to relieve that pain for a hiring manager is critical.

 7.    Getting discouraged

In the 1992 movie, A League of Their Own Tom Hanks’ character Jimmy Dugan says, “There’s no crying in baseball.”  The same can be said for sales or job search.  There will be setbacks. There will be disappointments.  However, perseverance and resilience must rule the day.  Discouragement is a disease that can eat away at a successful job search.  Do not let it happen to you. In the face of adversity, “flush the negative and stay positive.”

Unemployment as discussed by Abbott & Costello

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Not sure how to provide literary credit for this parody.  It arrived via email from Outplacement Tools Southern sales manager, with no author listed.  (A political statement weaved in at the end  has been removed.)

The message is real.  If you are unemployed or  looking to make a career change, competition is much greater than the national unemployment statistics suggest.  To win, individuals should map out a well constructed process to create their message, package it properly and deliver in a very targeted manner. Career Branding has never been more important.

Enjoy the 2008 recessions version of Who is on first? for the unemployed.


COSTELLO: I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America.

ABBOTT: Good subject. Terrible times. It’s about 9%.

COSTELLO: That many people are out of work?

ABBOTT: No, that’s 16%.

COSTELLO: You just said 9%.

ABBOTT: 9% Unemployed.

COSTELLO: Right 9% out of work.

ABBOTT: No, that’s 16%.

COSTELLO: Okay, so it’s 16% unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, that’s 9%…

COSTELLO: WAIT A MINUTE. Is it 9% or 16%?

ABBOTT: 9% are unemployed. 16% are out of work.

COSTELLO: If you are out of work you are unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, you can’t count the “Out of Work” as the unemployed. You have to look for work to be unemployed.

COSTELLO: But … they are out of work!

ABBOTT: No, you miss my point.

COSTELLO: What point?

ABBOTT: Someone who doesn’t look for work, can’t be counted with those who look for work. It wouldn’t be fair.

COSTELLO: To who?

ABBOTT: The unemployed.

COSTELLO: But they are ALL out of work.

ABBOTT: No, the unemployed are actively looking for work… Those who are out of work stopped looking. They gave up. And, if you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.

COSTELLO: So if you’re off the unemployment roles, that would count as less unemployment?

ABBOTT: Unemployment would go down. Absolutely!

COSTELLO: The unemployment just goes down because you don’t look for work?

ABBOTT: Absolutely it goes down. That’s how you get to 9%. Otherwise it would be 16%. You don’t want to read about 16% unemployment do ya?

COSTELLO: That would be frightening.

ABBOTT: Absolutely.

COSTELLO: Wait, I got a question for you. That means they’re two ways to bring down the unemployment number?

ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.

COSTELLO: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?

ABBOTT: Correct.

COSTELLO: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?

ABBOTT: Bingo.

COSTELLO: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to just stop looking for work.

ABBOTT: Now you’re thinking like an economist.

COSTELLO: I don’t even know what the hell I just said!

 


Job Search Technology for LinkedIn

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 LinkedIn is now growing at 7500 MPH.  That’s Members Per Hour.   Speed like that, is really powerful, but speed can also kill, so be careful. 

Below we examine several pieces of job search technology that are applicable to LinkedIn.

1.      Card Munch

 Card Munch is an App that scans business cards through I phones and turns that business card into a contact and shows you that individual’s LinkedIn profile, their credentials, as well as the contacts that you have in common. The output creates a “rolodex” of business cards matched to LinkedIn profiles.  One of the greatest features here is you now not only have a connections profile email address, but their primary business email.

 2.      LinkedIn Resume Builder and/or Visualize.me

The power of presentation is often not fully embraced in the job search process. A classic chronological resume or Linkedin profile often does not capture your story and message.  Lots of career promotions, parallel roles/positions or concentrated company movement can get very confusing for a reader to interpret.  The Linkedin resume builder and Visualize.me, both try to tackle this problem, but from very different angles.

LinkedIn’s resume builder is essentially a formatting tool that attempts to capture your profile then, re-tag and structure it into a quality well formatted resume. The tool certainly grabs the content, but its ability to understand the content and properly structure it is limited. This problem is heavily exasbarated if you have customized your LinekdIn profile.  If your profile is brief and straightforward, the application has much greater utility and does save re-keying time.  That said, while LinkedIn allows very limiting structural creativity within an individual’s profile, a resume building tool can actually provide a myriad of opportunities for more creative layouts, descriptions of roles and accomplishments.

Visualize.me takes the process further by attempting to take your LinkedIn profile and turn it into a timeline Infographic. Conceptually this is really powerful and helpful.  If your data is straight forward, it provides a great visual representation of your experience, education, skills, interests, and recommendations.   The key to the tool is to then invest 30 minutes cleaning up your Infographic information and the application also allows for plenty of presentation options around color, font, theme etc..  Like LinkedIn’s resume builder, the more straight forward your chronological job history, the better the tool performs.

3.      Wordle

Not normally a Linkedin application, but one commonly used in creating a dynamic resume is the inclusion of  a word cloud.  Word clouds essentially capture “keywords” that are relevant to scanning software’s search queries.  Word clouds allow you to create strong personal SEO (search engine optimization) by attaching them to your resume.  Wordle is a well known tool to quickly and easily establish one.  The twist is to apply use the Wordle tool to your LinkedIn profile or sections of your LinkedIn homepage that you feel best match the types of positions you are targeting. One word of caution is the dynamically different results you will get by “cloud capturing” your recommendations versus your job history versus your executive summary and specialties. Here is an example of a word cloud captured using my LinkedIn profile.  It is fascinating to look at the frequency or repetitive words and thus correlate how this might impact application tracking software or LinkedIn searches by recruiters.

 

 Conculsions on all of these applications is they all can save time in preparing comprehensive personal marketing package.  If this were a contest, Card Munch would win for utility and Visualize.me would win for coolest. Card Munch is definitely the highest value and the only application that does not require extra manual configuration to be of value.  Hope this article was helpful in exposing you to available LinkedIn job search technology. 

Sometimes technology can be really cool and of low utility, and other times they can be less cool and of higher utility.

LinkedIn Job Search Technology

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LinkedIn technology for job search, two part series

In our next article we will show you free technologies available to leverage  your LinkedIn profile and connections.

Sometimes technology can be really cool and of low utility, and other times they can be less cool and of higher utility.

Personal LinkedIn Heat Map

One of the more advanced tools that salespeople utilize is something called heat maps.  For sales, they are effectively a visual representation of target markets that help one visualize where opportunity exists.  By visualizing opportunities you can strategize on potential areas that offer a greater likelihood of success and then allocate time and effort appropriately.

LinkedIn is now offering what they call an InMap which is effectively a heat map of your connections and clusters them to show you network clusters and their intra-connectivity.

Below is my personal heat map as of early November 2011. Each dot represents someone in my network.  By hovering on any circle, I get a secondary window showing me; who that dot represents as well as their base LinkedIn information. Larger circles represent more shared connections.  For my heat map, the blue cluster is my current employer, the green cluster my “home community”, and the purple/orange cluster is my old employer split between regional offices versus national headquarters.  Those closer to the center tend to be professionals that I have done business with, or network with, on a regular basis.

My conclusion after playing with this for a while is that this is very cool technology, but I struggle as to how actionable it really is.

Try it yourself and let us know what you think. Maybe you will find greater utility than I did.

Our conclusion on LinkedIn InMaps. (Personal Heat Map)

Cool technology, low utility.



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