Tag Archives: career transition

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29 Mar

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Mental Health Day

29 Mar

Clearly, you need a break from your job search.  Where are you going to find it?  I am so glad you asked.  You know I am music fan.  I tend not to gravitate to the genre that engages the likes of Yanni and Zamfir – but that would seem to be a miniscule subset of the music arena, yet I do have an affinity to Andreas Vollenweider and Enya.  So..maybe..anything will do.

Here is today’s career advice – head down to your local electronics dealer and purchase an Ipod, or a Zune, and the really expensive BOSE headphones right now.  Today.  If you already have one, treat your self to a gift card for tunes, tunes and more tunes.

But I thought you said – Monster,  Careerbuilder,  or some niche job board?  Indeed… dot wrong!!  We are talking a mental health day, Jobseeker.   Remember those when you were employed?  A fun-filled melodic, frustration escaping, head banging or not so much, anti-jobsearch diversion-filled afternoon on the lawn at a Lilith Fair/Ozzfest direct from Itunes or the Zune Marketplace where you won’t find a career opporunity but you will find a well-deserved getaway. 

Why?  Because you and I occasionally need to grab hold of a big ol’ dose of Sublimation.  What?  Look – not only has this blog saved my life on occasion, I consider it my no cost Employee Assistance Program and… sublimation?  Well, sublimation is my personal therapist at a buck and some change per song.  Most therapists are by the hour, mine are like – by the mix tape.

I almost forgot to share the definition of the day –

Sublimation is the transformation of unwanted impulses into something less harmful. This can simply be a distracting release or may be a constructive and valuable piece of work.

When we are faced with the dissonance of uncomfortable thoughts, we create psychic energy. This has to go somewhere. Sublimation channels this energy away from destructive acts and into something that is socially acceptable and/or creatively effective.

How could you not want some significant milligrams of that?  Being self-employed – or unemployed with a business card and a website as I like to think of it, I have my share of frustrations and I need an outlet – for instance, a place to channel my urge to hang up the phone violently after leaving the nineteenth slightly, different worded positive voicemail about a great candidate in a salesy voice with a question inviting a call back that is coming at I time I wish I knew.  While waiting for the call, I simply dial up Linkin Park’s – In The End and find out “it doesn’t really matter.”

Perhaps I find solace in an oldie but a goodie by Limp Bizkit when I want to “Break Stuff” or simply try to answer everyone’s oft asked rhetorical question “Who’s Gonna Give Me Some Sugar Tonight?” with solid counsel from Kid Rock.  I don’t have to schedule an appointment and even though there is a CVS or Walgreen’s on every corner, or one currently under construction – this is over-the-counter laced musaceuticals and I am happy to participate in the clinical trial.

Whew – enough of my rant.  Seriously, step away from it for a few.  You need to disengage and realize this job seeking is tougher than job having.  We talk alot about personal branding  – just accept that right now.. you are more of a brand competing for a position than a person that holds one.  I know that is tough to soak in sometimes – it is just a reminder that your resume, your online profiles, your cover letters, your written communication and the interwoven touchpoints need fine tuning. 

While the selected tunes above are on the raucous side – on the lighter side, we look at a Paul McCartney and Wings song from back in the day and I offer a paraphrased, parody perspective – right now – you are a – Brand on The Run.  What direction are you heading?  Get your clarity from a mental health day or two and head that direction.  Maybe Paul wasn’t talking about your job search – but imagine he was – know that YOU will not be “stuck inside these four walls, sent inside  forever.”

In A New York Minute

23 Mar

This networking thing is tough, isn’t it?  What if you just up and moved to a city where you knew no one?  Then it gets tougher.  I know I am always talking about my job search group but they are so worthy of being written about.  Why?  Because these people understand this job search is THEIR job, they have developed a process and all are on the cusp of a solution to their season of transition – a meaningful gig is within their grasp.  

I am going to try this again though – honestly, I realize these people do not control when they get an offer but they do control their daily plan.  They make their own success, they make their own luck.  One of the ladies in the group, recently relocated from Manhattan to the Indianapolis area.  Not as big of a move as Indy to New York City but a big move when you only know two people in town.  While Indy is no NYC, it is the 12th largest metro area in the country. 

She has been here 5 weeks.  She has been to every meeting.  She is slicing and dicing Indy’s north side and is a networking phenom.  She shows up, she contributes and most noteworthy and impressive, in my mind, is that she quickly got rid of her Yankee pride and said – I need some help. 

LEARNING – Job seekers – shed your pride.  Recently downsized – purge your bitterness.  This is an opportunity.  You control the process. 

I barely advertise this group because I want people to want to show up.  I set a time – they know to be there and we will discuss something.  Most of what we discuss is their search, their frustrations, their approach, and try to pull the answers out of them that they already possess. 

Back to, let’s call her…uh… Jill – I have seen Jill have some good days and bad days.  She has had some interviews, attends networking events, applies online and also utilizes some unconventional approaches to get herself in the door.  She is working it.  I reminded her, just this morning, to stop and reflect on what she has accomplished in the last 5 weeks.  Maybe it is that extra time she has saved commuting, but I swear she appears to have extra time in her days – plenty of time to reflect. 

I know this – Jill WILL prevail because as Rick Pitino (a famous New Yorker) said in his book – Success Is A Choice – “When you work hard, money and opportunity will find you” – and what YOU can learn from Jill’s starting over networking experience is:  

1.  You Need to Quickly Lose The Pride, People 

2.  Show Up Somewhere and Make a Contribution 

3.  You Will Have Good Days and Bad Days 

4.  Have A Process, Work Your Process, Refine Your Process 

5.  Reflect On Your Accomplishments (weekly) 

So for Jill,  a 710 mile move, 5 weeks in a new city where she now knows more than 2 people, a much larger living space, a simpler life, a car for the first time in years, free parking, a park but not a Central Park, new surroundings, new neighbors, new friends, no skyline, no Broadway, some panic, some perspective and no job YET –  but as the great philosopher Henley uttered, “In a New York minute, everything can change.”  This season will soon be a faint blip on Jill’s radar screen.

Learnings. Winnings.

15 Feb

I was talking with a gentleman that has been out of work for 13 months.  13 months.  A year and a month.  He attends my weekly meeting for job seekers.   One of my favorite parts of the meeting is where we discuss what everyone learned this week and where were the wins.  LearningsWinnings.  In the previous meeting, we discussed LinkedIn.  This guy had done little more than piddle around in it at that point. 

He goes home last week and completes his profile.  He applied what he learned.  So back to this week – his time to share.  He shares with us that he completed his profile.  Picture and all.  Great.  I was glad he shared that. 

We move to Wins and he speaks up again.  His win?  He has an interview this week.  13 months out and he has an interview.  Someone had found him on LinkedIn.  No job posting, no ad to reply to, just someone saying “I’d like to talk with you.”  Imagine that.  Do I think it happens that fast?  It certainly can. 

I followed up with him after the meeting with an email – here is an excerpt: 

________, if I may, make sure they understand you have put this time off in to perspective.  You know – “it is part of the plan” stuff.  I think employers want to know you are in the game and have examined this.  Hope that makes sense. 

He responded with a thank you and “he would address it.”   I clarified with: 

HR professionals hear people complain all day long about this kind of stuff.  To get their attention you should come in with a fresh perspective on YOUR experience.  Don’t draw attention to it, or have a monologue about it;  just know if you can convince them you have gained some understanding of the benefit of having this time – you are better than the rest.  And ..of course you are. 

My point here is that employers are tired of hearing the complaining of candidates in interviews.  Interviews are not family counseling.  I know this sounds insensitive but you have to shed the “woe is me – I never saw it coming” mentality or interviews can turn in to therapy sessions.  HR quickly goes from “Human Resources” to “Has Reservations” – we don’t want that. 

Unemployment is no fun.  It can be devastating and can have an impact on every facet of your life.  I understand.  The good news is that you have time to reinvent yourself.  You have time to take a look,  examine the situation and make peace with your new found perspective.  During this time, take note of learnings and winnings.  Write them down.  Record them.  Journal. 

As far as LinkedIn goes – you gotta get on there.  A MUST along with your professional resume.  Here is the takeaway – he knew he needed a resume because he was looking.  He never really got the fact that people were looking for him.   They found him.  And, THAT is a learning and a winning.

What a Touching Influence

8 Feb

As I shared with my job search group, I have been looking for jobs, for now on 13 years.  That is a lot of phone calls, a lot of emails and a lot of touchpoints with my clients. 

Being self-employed is closer to unemployed, I guess that is why I have a natural connection with the job seeker that is seeking a solution.  How can you not want to help someone that is genuinely looking for a new gig, that is really looking for a solution?  This is my threat to the employed out there – an unemployed friend or former colleague calls you – give them a minute will you?  Listen.  Encourage.  Assist.

Let’s focus on touchpoints, job seeker.  A quality job seeker understands the value of touchpoints.  These are the interactions in any form you attempt to or actually have with colleagues, hiring managers, anyone that is part of the interview process or is assisting you in your search.

Touchpoints are where you go to selling YOU without looking like you are selling and simultaneously shield the world from what you are dealing with privately, you know – all that maintenance in your life.  You have to have quality touchpoints because this job search is relational not transactional.  Sorry, canned thank you note guy- it was nice to meet you though.  Thanks for your time.  Stop looking forward to hearing from me soon.

I think you can employ a variety of tactics and strategies to get to the end you so desire.  I also believe touchpoints are individual.  We need originality here, folks.  They need to be professional yet an extension of your personality.  And while I hate the talk – job search is a game and one that you need to be in and serious about.  Some of you show up projecting  – I am no fun – and you think it doesn’t show.  We are out here on the playground and you over there going sudoku on us.

A few years ago I attended the Indianapolis 500 – you know the greatest spectacle in racing.  Makes you think there might be something there to see.  The lady in front of me was actually studying.  She had a textbook on her lap.  After she got done studying, she was knitting.  At the 500, between her 4th turn study hall she is knitting a sweater in the month of May.  Who would invite her?  The place to be yet not really wanting to be there and making herself the spectacle.  Look, she is not getting invited next year and with that attitude you are not getting hired.  Besides, no one hires people that knit at  car races.   I thought everyone knew this.

I can say –  do this and do that when you attend a networking event.  I can say when you call, have the next question – and actually ask it.  When you write a note or email, proofread it.  I can give you my 5 keys to better touchpoints but I am not feeling all – here is a panacea laced checklist – I am more of a – let’s build a system together that works for you guy.  If you would like help – call me.  If you want to respond below with something you did in a certain situation – lay it out for us.

You need a process that you can follow in this campaign of yours.  Improving your touchpoints improves your chances of getting an offer.  You can’t control it but you have far greater influence then you think you have in this game.

3 Tough Questions

22 Jan

They are coming.  The questions – the big 3.  The three questions you can’t stand that they always ask.  The questions you hope they don’t ask.  Those questions.  The questions you better own.

What are they?  You tell me.  C’mon, job seeker – you tell me what they are.  If the competition for jobs is greater than ever before and I believe it is – then the candidate (this is you) better be prepared better than EVER.   You gotta prepare.  You have to take the time on these 3 questions.

Meaningful work is hard to find – meaning you better mean it when you prepare.  Your opportunities to present your skills can be few in this market.

The questions are coming.  Why did you leave your last job, by the way?  A new level of empathy exists for the job seeker but you still are going to have to answer this.  Why did you leave?  What did you learn while you were there?  Yes, that is a question too, but it is where the answer to why you left ends up.  You gotta answer why (brief) but I suggest gravitating quickly to something that reveals the perspective you gained.  Potential employers like your acknowledgement of the bigger picture.

The questions are coming and they are individual in their focus.  Here is the exercise – Look at your resume like you are hiring “you.”  What would you ask you?   What would you want to know about you?  Now give you an answer – a great answer that flows.  Practice it.  Say it.  Ask your significant other, spouse, close friend, an HR professional in your world to listen critically.    The HR pro will have no issue listening critically.  One last thing, does it make sense?  Do your references support it?  It has to flow.

We aren’t talking about how I can better develop sociopathic tendencies during my career transition to allow me to not flinch mid-interview.  After all, the sociopath always gets the job – they just don’t keep it.  I am simply saying, do your answers flow?  Are you properly framing the discussion?  You control their interpretation.

It isn’t just the words either – it is how you say them.  Your abrasive tone that exists because of your bitterness needs to be harnessed.  You gotta deal with that crap and the interviewer does not care about ALL THAT.  This is not a time to take a shot at their hiring process either – you can resent it, just don’t express it in any way.

The questions depend on you, your career history and where you worked, how long you were there, what will you wear, the title that you had, the location that was bad, the travel you’ll accept, the hours you’ll work, the boss was a jerk – the questions, they lurk.

I don’t really know why I am rhyming – the job search is certainly about timing – maybe I am bored with my post – it is longer than most  – yes, the questions will vary and I don’t mean to be arbitrary – so take this to heart and here’s a good place to start – with one that will definitely be asked by more than a few – TELL ME, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?


15 Jan

I attended a meeting last Monday night with 169 other men.  A meeting at my church focused on being a better Dad to daughters.  Record attendance for the “Pursuit” series, a series of meetings focused on how we can  “do life” better.  Along with the attendance, record puzzled looks, record note taking, and record roundtable discussion.

I came away from this meeting somewhat scared, maybe overwhelmed (I only have a 3 and 7 year old) yet thinking “what an awesome, incredible responsibility I have as a Dad.”   Huge responsibility and fortunately still time to focus on intentionality in parenting as we seek to raise two ladies to contribute to society.

This wasn’t men telling men how to manage their daughters – this was mostly heartfelt content and insight supplied by daughters – the experts.  Here we were – a group of individuals that are supposed to have all the answers, hearing the answers from ones like our own and wow – did it make for a quiet room.   When do they get a cell phone?  I still don’t know that but I will text you between getting their ears pierced and their first date.

A meeting series entitled “You Have What It Takes”.  Right.  Thanks for the manufactured optimism to offset my ingrained cynicism.  Hey, maybe I do have what it takes and if I don’t maybe I can steal yours for a moment.  Can I?  Yes, unless I am holed up in my basement, my job search cockpit.  What I am saying is the content was invaluable but the sharing with others completely enhanced the content.

Mr. Unemployed or Ms. Unemployed, I am writing to you.  You need a roundtable filled with a few of your peers.  You need to be quiet and listen like you have never listened before yet you also need to speak up.  Do you have a safe roundtable in your life where you can pull up a chair?  You have something to contribute even if you think you don’t.  You do.

Perspective, affirmation, reassurance – all the intangibles we rarely, if ever admit we need and then some – that you only gain from getting out there and mixing it up with others in a similar situation.   By the way, we aren’t talking a bitch session – we are talking about a finding solutions together session.

Plenty of information out there to consume, take in and process but how about this.  What about the discussion?  I don’t mean you need to sign-up for more webinars rich in content – I am talking about showing up so your fellow man and woman can pull that rich content out of you.  I am convinced there is a wannabe thought leader inside all of us if we just let it out.  You have a sphere of influence.  They need influenced – so go activate that sphere.  They need your thoughts, they need your perspective.

Find some people to manufacture some optimism with right now.  Do this job search better with others.

(I put this into practice yesterday with a group of men in career transition and in the next blog post – I will share my observations.)

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