Are You Professionally Mechanically Inclined Enough To Fix Their Problems?

I’m a limited care kinda girl.  When my son was younger we played the “slug bug” game; but we couldn’t add many other types because I would get them wrong.  So either I was slugging away for no reason or getting pummeled because I couldn’t recognize the right kind of cars.  So we stuck to slug bugs.

 

My dad was a diesel mechanic; he was the most mechanically inclined person I have ever known.  If it were broke, he could fix it.  I don’t care what it was; anything inside or outside that house he could fix it.  When I was married my husband was also very mechanically inclined.  He could build or fix anything inside or outside the house.  Very rarely have I ever in my lifetime hired a handyman or mechanic. 

 

The great thing about these two men, besides being able to fix anything, is they also taught me.  I learned about power tools from my dad and my ex-husband has helped me learn a bit about carpentry.  I love it.  I deeply respect their skills and knowledge and the fact that they took the time to teach me was awesome in my eyes. 

 

So imagine my shock when I dated someone who didn’t know the difference between a Philips and Regular screwdriver!  Wait, what??  Isn’t that a guy thing?  It honestly never dawned on me that some men never learned about mechanical things or fixing things. 

 

It was quite an adjustment and although not a huge factor in the demise of our relationship, I will admit that I have a whole new appreciation for my dad and former husband.  I break things.  I break cars, plumbing, flooring, walls – you name it I can break it.  Luckily I have learned enough to know when it is something I can figure out and when to call in reinforcement. 

 

I have come to realize that this is a quality that I appreciate in a man.  Right or wrong, it is something that I prefer he poses.  Judge me, whatever.  I think there is a thing about a man wanting a woman to cook so we just are not going to go down that road.

 

The point is, companies are a lot like this.  There are certain qualities that they look for in candidates.  You may not always know based on the job title all of these qualities.  However, if you can do a little digging you can start to get an idea of what these qualities might be.

 

Get to know the company.  Check out their webpage – beyond the home page.  Get a feel for the mentality of the company.  It is not just what they say, but how they say it.  Listen closely to the written language. 

 

Research people that work there.  Check them out on LinkedIn.  What do their profiles sound like?  Do they like their jobs, what are they bringing to the organization, what does the leadership sound like?  This gives you more clues about the environment.

 

Is it a progressive environment embracing and encouraging forward thinkers and those that think outside of the box?  Or are they a conservative organization who is very methodical in their approach and execution of all things?

 

If someone were to talk to me for more than a day they will quickly learn that I break things.  You won’t figure that out by just doing an initial meet and greet – i.e. reading the home page of a company’s website.  Take time to invest in investigating the company if you are truly interested in working there.

 

By doing so you will discover an opportunity to bring out those qualities you bring to the table that are in alignment with that organization.  They have broken things – be prepared to demonstrate that you are professionally mechanically inclined to fix them.

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach & Brand Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

www.CareerPolish.com

3 Things Not to Say Once You Have Started the New Job

not listening

Normally I talk about looking for and securing a job, but today I want to take a moment to give a gentle reminder of a few things you should not say after you land that job.

 

“That’s not how we did it at ______” (fill in the blank with your old company)

 

Guess what – you aren’t there any more and no one here cares how they did it there.  This is a clear sign that you are not willing to learn or be part of a new team.  Say this and you will create your own little island isolating yourself from everyone in the new company.

 

Instead, try saying “This is completely different than what I was used to; I’m excited to learn a new way.”

 

“That’s not my job”

 

Get over yourself.  You are on a new team and sometimes you have to do things outside of the scope of your “job description”.  Let’s take this back a step – how often does the job description match 100% of what the real job duties actually are…..exactly.

 

Suck it up cupcake and stop brooding and take this as an opportunity to see if you can learn something new, meet new team members or get a glimpse of something outside of your job scope.  By the way, nothing is beneath you.  I’ve served coffee, run errands and done dishes and had people tell me that I shouldn’t be doing that because I was the manager.  I was also a team member and if that is what needed to be done and I was available then I had no problem helping where I could.

 

Instead try saying, “I would be happy to help.”

 

“I don’t know, you will have to ask someone else.”

 

Way to be a supportive team player!  Why not just add on the end of that “and I don’t care”?  Whether it is how to run the copier to how to utilize systems or protocols it is an opportunity to do two things: help someone and learn something.

 

Instead try saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t know but that is a great question,  however (a) great question, let’s see if we can ask Mary/find someone who knows so we can both learn (b) I can help you find someone who knows more about this than I do: or (c) I don’t know but I will find out for you and get back to you.”

 

If it is running some contraption at work, you never know when you might need to know how to do that task one day.  If someone is coming to you as a resource answer (c) makes you even more of a valuable resource.  No matter what the situation you will build good working relationships with your team members by being available.

 

Starting a new job can be a little intimidating and scary and sometimes our natural reaction is to drawn within ourselves, not admit we don’t know something or are afraid to look foolish by not having the same skill set.

 

Give yourself a break and remain open.  Instead of looking at everything as a challenge or task, try looking at it as an opportunity.  There are opportunities abound to learn, grow and be a more valuable team member.  They just might be the things that take you from the start within a new company to the next level within that company.

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

www.CareerPolish.com

 

 

Don’t Craft Your Resume Like an Online Singles Profile

Computer FlowersAbout me: Hard working, honest, trustworthy, simple person looking for someone who can have fun, go to a ballgame or dress up for dinner; no drama from past relationships or relationships that are not fully over; must be open, honest, trustworthy, genuine, love family, having fun and being affectionate. Blah, blah, blah….

 

Likes: Long walks on the beach, spontaneous outings, holding hands, great conversation

 

Looking for: Friendship with possible long-term if it is the right connection, let’s meet soon and see if the sparks fly!

 

I have a friend that joined an online dating service.  The above pretty much summarizes about 90% of what she has seen so far.

 

First of all – no one is buying any of this.

Second of all – it really says nothing.

Lastly – really?  This is the best you could come up with -the same as 9 out of 10 others?

 

And stop putting a picture that you took of yourself in the bathroom!

 

Your resume is not a personal ad, it is not about what you are looking for and will make you happy.  It is a sales statement to be focused on the employer answering the question what can you do for me.

 

Starting off your resume with a summary that is close to: “Looking for an opportunity with a progressive company to lend my talents and abilities to help them grow” is following the personal ad tactic.

 

No one is buying it

It really doesn’t say anything.

They don’t care what you want.

 

Look at it from the employer’s perspective: why would they want to read your resume and how are you going to generate enough interest to have them pick up the phone?

 

Focus on them.  What needs or challenges do they have and how can you solve them.  Explain how you have done this in the past to show a pattern of consistency.  Utilize demonstrative statements to tell not only what you did but how you did it, who you worked with and the results you achieved.

 

Revamping your resume away from the personal ad will take you from lonely single to happily employed!

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

www.CareerPolish.com

 

You Are Doing It Right

christmas listA friend of mine recently posted a picture of her daughter’s Christmas wish list, which was made and displayed in her elementary school classroom throughout the holiday season.  (Yes, I did ask her permission to use and post in my blog.)

Number 4: My mommy to be nice.

See the accompanying picture – I’m not making this up.

My thought was – yep, you are doing it right.

When I was growing up my parents followed a simple philosophy: I am your parent, not your buddy.

As a parent you have a job.  In a very basic sense this job includes teaching them right from wrong; protecting them from the evils of the world and sometimes themselves; to think of a world beyond themselves; how to learn, grow, love and be independent; how to be a responsible person; how to be a respectful person – all so many different factors that you have to cram into such a short period of time.

Often as a parent you will be qualified as the “mean” one because you are actually doing your job.  If you get called mean or anything of the like then you know you are doing it right.

Display that list proudly, Natalie, all us other mean mommies applaud you!

When I saw that picture I immediately made the connection to interviewing.  Yes, this is how my mind works.

I will hear people talk about how the interviewer should call them, they should lead the interview, they should give them the job just because “given the opportunity I can do anything.”

And that would be a nice interviewer – but that is not their job.

Their job is to read through countless resumes, sift through fact from fiction, prepare for the interview and take time to talk to candidates.

They take time away from their job, billable hours, clients that need them and countless responsibilities to conduct the interview.  They have prepared, set a specific time and are giving you undivided attention and a shot.

Sometimes you are not that lucky and you get the interviewer who is, well, clueless.  They glanced over your resume but didn’t really read it, do not have questions to ask other than, “tell me about yourself” and seem distracted.

Whether you get good interviewer A or poor interviewer B you still need to respect the fact that outside of spending a little time with you, they have a job to do.

Their job isn’t to be nice and lead you along the way to the right answer.  It isn’t to fill in the blanks for information that is right in front of you.  If the posting has the job description do not ask them, “what does the job entail?”  It is right there!  Now, you can ask questions beyond the stated but for crying out loud make sure that you convey that you actually read the darn thing!

Sometimes they spring on a group interview on you; sometimes they even bring in a higher up for you to talk to.  It is not their job to say, “Now Sally, don’t be nervous, just be sure to say this, that and the other and you will be fine.”

No!  They are seeing how you deal with pressure.  Do your homework and you will be prepared for the test.  Have mommy do the homework and fail the exam.  Pretty simple.

Hiring managers are not your buddy – they are doing a job.

You can have a great rapport with them in an interview and not get the job.  Do not stomp your foot and say “that’s not fair!”  Maybe, but that’s life kid.

I can like someone and not feel that they would be a good fit in the organization.  I can take your rapport building as trying to be my buddy so I want to hire you rather than recognize the fact that you have no qualifications whatsoever.  Nice try.  Next.

It would be wonderful if after an interview you got a call back immediately to tell you if you got the job or not.  If you did not get the job it would be even better if they would tell you why, really, honestly why.  Alas, they don’t.  Throwing a fit and stomping your foot while saying, “but it isn’t fair”  or “but I deserve to know!” isn’t going to help.

And here is where I can insert one of my mom’s favorite sayings when we were kids: “If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candies and nuts oh what a wonderful Christmas we would all have.”  Yeah – try growing up with that logic and sing-song phrase stuck in your head.

Rarely will they tell you much, maybe a “we went with someone with more qualifications” or “we decided to go in a different direction” or something along those lines.  They should call, I mean, don’t they realize the stress this is putting you under?  You just want to know!  You just want them to call!

Well, mothers all across the country want their child’s room to be clean and actually stay that way – let’s see who wins in that race.

For your next interview remember, that hiring manager is not your buddy.  They have a job to do.  Your job is to convince them that you are the right candidate.

That means knowing what your skills are, how they translate to that position, how you can add value and be able to demonstrate all these things.  Clean the room – don’t just shove everything in the closet or under the bed.  Mommies know that trick, we were kids once too, you know.

Do your homework: know the company, the position, the industry – as much as you possibly can.  Do not waste valuable time asking the interviewer to fill in this information.  Keep asking me how to do load a dishwasher will not get me to do it for you, it will make me find reasons to dirty every single item in the cabinets and drawers until the dishwasher is not only full but you have to do the overflow by hand.  Yeah, mommies know that trick too and we have learned how to fight back.

This is your shot – don’t blow it.  Don’t waste time sucking up – spend it demonstrating.  You have one real chance to ask for the car for that big date or event; don’t use a lackluster strategy.  Asking if you can do something for mommy because she has been so busy or telling her how pretty she is just got you a one way ticket to “what do you want and the answer is probably no if you are being that lame in approaching it”.

Take responsibility and recognize that there is another person involved here.  Sure mommies can be mean, but those are the ones that teach you the most.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

www.CareerPolish.com

The Ones That Know Us The Best Sometimes Know The Least About What We Do

I had a wonderful day yesterday – I took the day off and spent it with my mom and her one of her best friends.  It was kind of like Thelma & Louise plus one on a much less grand scale – but in our minds we were there.

 

At one point my mom’s friend said my mom had tried to explain what I do, they know I do resumes, but did not really know what else I do.

 

I realized I had two opportunities here: one to help educate my mom and family on the entire collaboration of what I do and also here was a blog post!

 

So often we focus on our sales pitch and networking elevator speeches for friends, contacts and strangers that we forget about those that know us the best – our family.

 

These are the ones that know us sometimes better than we know ourselves yet we forget to actually talk to them about what we do and what we need to get to the next level.

 

This is when you have to take off the blinders of family and see them as friends, wanting nothing more than the best for you and really wanting to understand what you want, where you want to go and most importantly how they can help get you there.

 

Sometimes our family is hesitant about selling us.  I know I have talked to my mom before and she said there was someone at work who’s relative was looking for a job.  I asked if she told them that they were in luck because your daughter is a professional resume writer and she said no.

 

Okay, seriously mom?!  But then I realized, it might have been awkward for her because not having a full understanding of what I do so she could have felt that she was just bragging on her daughter.

 

I get that.  And it is on me, not my mom.

 

So I took the opportunity yesterday to explain to my mom’s friend what I do – in a way that both of them could understand and relay.  Like using the example of using our sense of humor in an interview is probably not a good idea.

 

This weekend it might be a good idea to take some time when spending time with your family to ask them if they really know what it is you do and if they feel comfortable referring people to you.  You might be surprised by the answer.  Just remember – if they do not know it isn’t their fault, it is on you to communicate your value to all your audiences.  They may love you but they still can’t read your mind.

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

www.CareerPolish.com

Time Just Keeps Dragging On

Sometimes finding that right next job takes a little, or a lot, longer than you anticipate. Often I hear from people, “It used to be so easy, just submit a resume or fill out an application and you got a job – it’s a lot harder now!” Yes, it is.

Days turn to weeks, weeks can turn into months. It is frustrating and humbling. It is not like you want to sit around and eat bon-bons all day – you want to work but the work is hard to find. So how do you communicate the fact that even though the time period has been long you really do want a job?

1. Make sure you are participating in activities that are geared toward employment. Volunteering, taking classes, networking – anything that is expanding your contacts or giving you additional skills. Sitting at home in your sweats perusing the online want ads is not a plan. It can be a piece of your overall plan, but not the sum of the whole.

2. Know what type of job you want. When someone tells me they just want a job they do not realize it but it makes them unforgettable. No one will take just any job. You want the job of the guy that scrapes road-kill off the road? How about a cow enema specialist? You can be looking for different jobs – but at least know what they are.

3. Adapt to your audience. Not everyone knows what you do or did or how well you did it. This is why you need to adapt to your audience. If you are speaking to people from your industry then you can use the key words and phrases that you both understand. If you are talking to someone who is unfamiliar with what you do then you will need to adapt your communication in a manner in which they will understand your message clearly.

4. Give your value not your title. Another sure fire way to be unforgettable is to tell people that you are a specific title or you are looking for a specific job title. Manager, Director, Supplier, Banker, Driver – these are all vague and, well, forgettable. It is not just your value, but who is your audience, who do you serve, how do you help and how have you succeeded in the past that are important aspects to delivering the right message.

5. Look for the link. Do not be afraid to ask people if they might know someone in the transportation, health care, financial or whatever your field happens to be. People will want to help; sometimes you just need to provide a little push to get them to see how they can.

What is you are in an interview and the question comes up why you have been looking for so long. Although this is a humiliating question and can naturally put you on the defense – don’t. One thing you can say in response is, “Just as you are looking for the right candidate I am looking for the right company. I have been interviewing several to ensure I find the right fit.” Then be prepared to explain what you have been doing in the meantime and what your qualifications are for that right company.

Keep putting one foot in front of the other and don’t give up. With every step you take remember to think about how this can help you, how you can turn it into a positive for a prospective networking opportunity or how you can use as an example in an interview. It is not just that first step that begins the journey of a thousand miles; it is all the little steps after the initial one that make a difference.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Coach-Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.
http://www.CareerPolish.com

Job Searching – Stay Flexible and Protect Those Eggs!

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – do you remember that phrase? When I heard it as a kid it did not make sense to me because the only time I thought about putting eggs in a basket was on an Easter Egg hunt and, well, wasn’t that the point to make it easier to carry?

Now that I am older I understand the phrase, still not sure of the origin but I will be looking that up as soon as I finish this blog. However I get it now and that’s my point. And since I now get it, I have to share.

Generally I find people who are putting all their eggs in one basket have one of two baskets: the first is hoping for just one job and one job alone. This is the one they want: they know it is going to come through for them so there is no need to look further.

The second basket is settling for one job and one job alone. If an opportunity comes up after accepting a position they do not consider it because they have already piled their basket high and wide.

I am here to tell you to stop carrying around that one basket and loading it full of eggs. People are talking and the eggs are starting to stink. When you are in transition you must learn to do one thing that is extremely uncomfortable – be flexible.

Regarding the first basket – I know an opportunity will present itself and you really want that position. I mean really, really, really; stomp your feet; close your eyes and silently say, “pretty, pretty please” want it. Been there, done that.

It is wonderful to get excited about an opportunity, it really is. You get jazzed for the first time in who knows how long; you see yourself in the position; you know you can do that job better than anyone else. But remain flexible and open. You may think it is perfect but that does not mean hiring managers think the same way you do. And alas, there may be disappointment.

Even if you think you are a shoe in (another phrase that I am curious about) for the job remember: do not stop networking, searching and keeping your opportunities open. Life happens; people make mistakes and hire the wrong person. It happens.

If happens to you, and I am so sorry if it did, here is another way to remain flexible and open. Call them back after about a month. There is nothing wrong with calling someone you interviewed with and were in the final running for the position to just check in. Tell them how much you really liked their company and to see if there are any other opportunities available because you really want the opportunity to work within that firm.

What are they going to do, tell you not to call back? Seriously. Swallow the pride a little bit and give them a call. I have actually done this and although when making the call I felt like I was begging I was so glad I did. The woman I interviewed with was delighted that I called and the first thing she said was, “Thank goodness you called back, the other candidate is not working out at all – when can you come in?”

As to the second basket – once you have a job and another opportunity comes you way, it is perfectly acceptable to check it out. If you were just throwing your resume against the wall to see what would stick odds are it may not be greener on the other side of the fence. However, if this is an opportunity that you would really like to pursue, then you should consider it. Do not, and I repeat, do not disrespect your current employer to investigate another opportunity. This means do not take long lunches to meet with people, do not call in sick two weeks after starting the position, and do not walk out thinking you have the new opportunity made. Remember, someone did hire you, they found value in you and this new opportunity might be great, but it also might be basket number one. Be flexible, be willing to listen but do not jump ship just because someone else caught your eye.

Sometimes it takes people a while to be able to seriously consider you for a position, whether they just got approval to hire, the right people just got back in the office or the need is now a priority. Timing is not always perfect so you cannot hold that against them. So hear them out as to what they have to say and you can determine for yourself if it is a right opportunity to consider, while you are still employed. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush you know. I’m not sure if that applies or not, but I am on a roll with these sayings today!

Job searching is frustrating and the timing rarely works out the way we want it to, but that is where being flexible comes in very handy. We just have to keep reminding ourselves that the world does not work on our schedule. I have to remind myself on a daily basis so trust me, this I know. Think I’m just saying that? Does the fact that years ago my brother once gave me a shirt that said, “I want it and I want it NOW” tell you anything?

Just remember what your priorities are, what is important to you and what is not, and what you really want to do. There is nothing written in stone that says you have to take the first job that is offered to you or that you have to remain on a path that is not conducive to your goals. Take a breath or two, weigh your options, remain flexible and it will all work out in the end.

Job Searching – Stop Looking for Your Ex

I took my son and his dad to the airport yesterday. Throughout my day I keep waiting for a Jake sighting, as we call it at my house. Then I have to remember, he is not even in the state! I hate when I do that, I get in such a habit of something that I completely forget when things have changed. I find a lot of people do the same thing.

We keep expecting things to happen as they always have. We get comfortable in habits and it shocks our systems when things change. Sometimes we do not want to accept or even recognize that there has been or needs to be a change. Here are some quotes to demonstrate:

“I’ve never had to write a resume, I always made a call and I had a job”
“I don’t need to re-write my resume, this worked just fine for me 10 years ago”
“I’m not taking any position under Sr. Vice President, I’ve worked too long for a lower job”
“Using online job banks have always worked for me before, I’m sure I’ll find something soon”

Yes, and I just looked out the window for Jake’s car, too. Just because things have always happened a certain way in the past does not mean that they will continue to do so. I used to be blond and able to leg press 275 pounds. Things change.

I compare cover letters to love letters, resumes to first dates, interviews to second dates and here is another one for my list: jobs are like relationships: namely marriages. There is a dynamic involved, although it may not always be healthy, it does exist. We used to joke at one of my old companies that I was my boss’s work-wife. You get comfortable with the way things go, the way they run, your role and position. Things may not be great, but they weren’t bad. And you are looking for that comfort in your next relationship (job). Here is a thought: there is a reason it did not work out…

When looking for your next position, realize that the old relationship is over and you cannot simply replace what you had – there are no two jobs or relationships that are exactly alike and nor should they be. What were the positives in the last relationship – those are the things you want to focus on. What were the challenges – you want to make sure those are not in the next relationship. If you keep going back to where you were and failed then that is where you will always be.

What value did you bring to the last relationship and how did it serve you well? Those are the things you want to continue to strengthen. What things did you do or not know that negatively affected your last relationship? Those are the things that you want to work on, improve, get more education or training, or change your mindset so those challenges can be made into positive.

And let’s not kid ourselves, in every ending of a relationship we had a part to play. Even if you are sitting there saying, “I didn’t do anything, they had cutbacks, it wasn’t my fault!” That may have been the main factor, but I bet if you took a long hard look at your relationship history you would find things that you could have done that would have improved the relationship.

Here’s the bottom line, kids: Do not expect your next position to be your last. That relationship is over, the divorce is final and they have remarried. It is time to move on. And if you look at the last relationship, was it really all that it could have been? Could there have been things that would have made you more excited to go to work every day? These are great insights to have when interviewing for the next position. You have the opportunity to ask those questions to make sure the next one is the right one, to make sure it is a good fit before committing. It is a commitment and you have to know what you are willing to tolerate and what you are not. What is important to you and what can you tolerate? If the position is a little further away than you wanted, but you work less hours – is that a good compromise? Life is all about compromises so make sure you are clear what is important, what is negotiable, what you are not willing to tolerate so that you can go into your next relationship with open eyes and a stronger sense of self. It can make all the difference.

Gaps in Work History – What have you done for YOU lately?

“So tell me what have you been doing since you left your last position?” That can be such a daunting question during an interview. Please, please, please do not answer, “Looking for a job.” If you have answered in this way I am sending you a mental head slap! How you answer this question is important. Of course, that is, if you get to the interview.

When a potential employer is reading your resume and cover letter, if they see gaps, they are asking the question: what have you been doing. Are you adequately explaining gaps or even acknowledging them? Putting your head in the sand does not make an uncomfortable situation go away – I’ve tried, it doesn’t work.

I recently saw something on CareerBuilder the other day that stated over half of the countries unemployed have been without a job for 27 weeks or more. While six months may not seem like a long amount of time during this economy, what about those who have been looking for 12 or more months? No matter what the time period, this is a challenge and there are two things that can help you.

First and foremost: Invest in yourself. I’ve said it before and I will say it many more times: if you are in transition you are now officially in the business of sales. Your company is you, your product is you and your market is the employment world. Welcome aboard! Welcome to one of the most difficult jobs you will ever have full of frustration, doubt, insecurity, rejection, unknown – and that’s just a Monday!

So how does one invest in oneself and how much is this going to cost me you ask? Well, first, shame on you – that is the wrong attitude. Do not approach this as a negative; investing in oneself is a positive thing! The cost can vary monetarily but there is a heavy price of your time, effort and mental energy. You cannot slack on this, you must commit!

1. Take classes. Your public library has a plethora of classes available (I love that word plethora and am so excited that I can use it!); WorkOne Centers offer classes; there are community colleges, online resources: just look around you and you will see the availability. You may not be able to go back to get a college degree at this time but that does not mean you cannot take a class to help expand your skills. This can cost money, but you are worth the investment!
2. Network. Look in your community paper to see what networking groups are meeting and when and get your caboose there. Practice, learn, try – the more people that know you and what you can do the greater the chance they know someone or a friend of a friend that might be able to help. This can be low or no cost, do your homework and get moving.

3. Ask. If you are looking to get into a new industry, do your homework, research companies and reach out to ask for informational interviews. Generally I find people do what to help others, but how can anyone help you if you do not ask? This is free!

4. Volunteer. You can think of this as paying it forward, putting others before yourself or an opportunity to meet new people with whom you have something in common. You will be expanding your horizons and network, giving back to your community and building information to be able to put on your resume. This is free but the rewards are priceless.

5. Hire a professional. Sometimes you must realize there is only so much that you can do on your own and even that might not be working. There are professionals in all areas that can help you: life coaches, career counselors, etiquette consultants – you name it there are resources available to you. Yes, this costs money but again, aren’t you worth the investment?

5a. Go to a professional. Utilize the services of professionals that can assist you in your job search – staffing firms or recruiters. Many do not charge the employees but rather the employers so this is another free option in terms of money. But be forewarned – you must be worth the investment for them to try to sell you so I suggest you employ one or many of the above options.

Now, let me back up and say first that I completely understand the anger and frustration of losing a job and job searching. At some point it is akin to the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression then Acceptance. You are allowed to feel any or all of these emotions and it is perfectly normal.  Keep in mind; however, there is a difference between allowing oneself to feel these emotions and being trapped by them.

Before you can invest in yourself you must believe in yourself and the benefits of taking action. To be blunt – stop fighting everything in your world! I once knew a gentleman that was in transition for well over a year. He would show up at networking events, seminars and workshops and had quite the reputation. And not the reputation that one would like to have.

I was giving a workshop once on resumes and throughout the entire workshop he was very negative and challenging. Not to me personally, but to most things that any of the presenters said. He would say things like, “I tried that once, it didn’t work,” or “I personally do not think that employers care about that.” Negativity oozed from his pores and others around him started to roll their eyes. You see, every positive thought or suggestion that was given to him he rejected. Every suggestion on investing in himself was met with volatile denial, “I can’t afford to do that, I don’t have time. I don’t’ want to – I just need a job!”

You cannot afford to invest in yourself, just by becoming involved in activities that are free? Seriously? Think about that thought for a minute. To me it says I can afford to be unemployed for as long as I want to poison my world with my negative attitude. Seriously.

Now, one might think he picked up on this clue as to why he was in transition so long, but unfortunately, he did not get the connection. He created such a physical wall around himself that others were no longer willing to assist him to the point that they turned the other direction when they saw him coming. Learn from this, please.

I have talked to several recruiters, HR professionals and managers who state that they understand that there will be a time between positions; however, if it is any length of time they want to see that the individual was proactive in investing in themselves. Yes, they literally use this phrase: “I want to see that they have invested in themselves.” Do you start to see the connection?

Investing in yourself in any of the above ways shows that you are proactive in your search, in yourself. My uncle, when he was a teenager, was told my grandfather to go get a job. He came home after about an hour and told his mother, “I walked up and down the street and no one offered me a job.” True story. Your next employer is not going to run out of their building and say, “Oh, thank goodness you walked by, you’re hired!” nor are they going to come knock on your door!

Investing in yourself also means opening your mind to other possibilities. You want to be doing X, but cannot obtain that position right now. Sometimes the best roads are the ones that are not a straight shot to where we think we want to go. My path has taken some crazy turns but as I look back, I see that every step was a step in the right direction. No matter what job I did or what the title was or duties performed, I learned something and I moved forward.

If you are not willing to invest in yourself, why would an employer want to? Keep an open mind; get off your duff; put the time, effort, energy and possibly money into the most important person in your company – you. Oliver Wendell Holmes said it best, “I find that the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.”

Tips to Help Stay on Track When Looking for a Job

Delay, avoid, procrastinate, ignore….then you need something NOW. I see this time and time again with those in transition. I have had numerous clients that apply this approach with their resume. They delay or hesitate on reviewing the resume I have prepared, or avoid giving me pertinent information and it just lingers. Until I get the call late in the day or evening that, holy cow, I need to send my resume to a company TOMORROW, can you do it tonight? Where were you last week when I was asking for the information?? One of my favorite phrases is, “Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part”. Seriously, did you forget you were in transition and an opportunity can happen any time any where?? (And yes, I always get it done)

So for those of you that are going through this little traumatic experience at the time you are reading this, shame on you! You should know better. For those of you that have been there, let’s see what we can do to make sure this does not happen again. Here are some things you can do to make sure you are prepared for that opportunity at any time.

1. You should make sure your resume is updated and appropriate at all times. You should have more than one resume and it will be modified for the job and skills for the position for which you are applying. For example, you may be a manager but there are different types of managers. Some management styles fit better with certain organizations rather than others and you will need to decipher what skills and qualifications each company feels are important for their organization. For example Company A may be seeking a very hands-on manager who is skilled at team building, open communication and being able to perform the work as well as lead it. Company B may be seeking a very analytical, time and information sensitive leader who is skilled at direction, delegation and oversight. Completely different perspectives and having a one-size-fits-all resume will not benefit you in the least.

2. You should make sure you understand your resume and can sell it – i.e. sell you. Your resume is your sales brochure. Have you ever encountered a sales person who constantly has to refer to a manual or sales brochure to tell you the highlights of the product? Not very convincing, huh? If I am in the market for a new digital camera, I do not want someone to read me the manual, I want someone who can explain it in my terms, show me the best features – in other words sell me on it. Then I can glance through the brochure to get further information and reinforce my “need” to buy that camera. You, in this little example, are the digital camera and the sales person.

3. You should have your sales materials with you at all times. Sales materials: that means resumes, business cards or skills cards. No, I do not suggest that you hand out your resume at networking events (unless it specifically requests that you bring them), but you should have your resume with you to read through again before you go into a networking event just as a refresher and boost. When you are at casual networking (i.e. ball games, concerts, gatherings, picnics – wherever) you should have your skill summary cards or business cards with you to be able to hand out to someone if they would like to contact you.

4. You should have a tracking sheet. Job searching stinks. You can get to the point that you feel as though you sent out one hundred resumes last week and did not get one single response. I have literally heard this line numerous times. Keeping a spreadsheet of your activity not only helps you gain a bit of perspective, it also helps you keep track of who you have spoken to, what companies you have applied to, when, what positions, what follow up actions you need to take and any important information relevant to your search. Knowing that you sent a resume to Company A last week, perhaps it is time to follow up – you would know this if you were keeping track of your activities.

5. You should be training your friends and family as Sales Associates. One thing I ask people when I teach classes is, “Do you friends and family know you are looking for a job?” Of course everyone looks at me like I am an idiot and say, “Yes, of course”. So my next question is, “If I were hiring and met them casually, would they know what key word I might say that would let them know immediately to give me your name and number?” Normally, those in my class now have a bashful look on their face for thinking I was an idiot only moments before… The point is, if you tell me you are an IT person looking for a job that means nothing to me. And quite frankly it would be a weak introduction to someone looking for a programmer to tell them that I know someone in IT, but no idea what they do. You need to be specific and make sure people understand that. If I were going back into the financial industry telling you I was a manager tells you nothing! But if I were looking to go back into Compliance, now you have a better clue. If I told you that I would love to work for a mid-sized financial company rather than one of the big boys in banking, investments or insurance there is another clue. And if I told you that I was looking to work in the area between and including Indianapolis to Anderson, there is another really good clue. You now have several key words: Compliance, mid-size, investments, insurance, banking, Indianapolis, Anderson – see where I am going here? Never assume everyone knows what you mean, make it clear.

6. You should make sure your references are prepared. Here is another question I ask during class, “Do you have your references ready, you have asked their permission” Again, normally a yes. Then I ask, “Have you asked them what they would say?” The answer to that one is almost always no. In fact, in between 60-80 classes I have only heard two people say yes. The purpose is two-fold. One, you want to make sure what they say and how they say it will be perceived correctly. I am a sarcastic person, it is who I am and I know it. I have to temper it and keep it under close supervision. If one of my references said I was a great leader, motivator and trainer with great sarcastic wit, the prospective employer may not like that whole sarcasm thing. The second reason is those references may see something in you that you may not see yourself. What if one of your references told you that no matter how stressful a situation got you were always cool, calm and collected and they always looked to you at those times. That sounds like great things to emphasize in a resume or cover letter don’t you think?

7. You should only offer what you can produce. Undersell and over deliver is an old motto. In this situation what I mean is do not get so involved in the job search and networking that you have booked yourself out of quality time for self, family, friends, and quality leads. I have seen people get so wrapped up in networking that they are professional job seekers with no real ability to make real connections and possible inroads to future opportunities. Do get out there and meet with people, do not make it a practice that you have no real results or you neglect the things that are important in life. If you are meeting with so many people at all times and if you are promising to follow up, are you able to keep up with the schedule you set? Sometimes we are our worst enemy. Here’s another old motto to help with this one: work smarter not harder – i.e. network smarter, not harder.

8. You should look at alternative ideas to building connections and seeking opportunities. Volunteer. Give yourself a chance to do something you love, help other people, animals or the environment and enjoy it. By doing something that you enjoy, you will meet other people with similar interests and you can get to know them through this common connection. From there, you can find out what they do when they are not volunteering and maybe they work for a company you are targeting or knows someone who does. You just never know.

9. You should be keeping up to date. I emphasized your resume earlier, but now I am expanding on this concept. You should make sure your skills and techniques are up to date. Not just job skills, but networking and interviewing skills as well. Make sure if you have a business social media page it is up to date. Are their groups or discussions you can join or be a part of, and if so, are you active and up to date in what they are discussing? Are you up to date in what is going on in your town, city, state and nation? Events outside our immediate life impact everyone and you certainly do not want to be caught off guard. It would be disastrous if in an interview the interviewer makes small talk and says something to you about the terrible oil spill and you reply, “Yes, the Exxon situation was very sad”.

These are just a few things that you can do to make sure you are prepared and ready when that wonderful opportunity comes your way, or even a maybe/iffy one shows up. If you are in transition your job right now is to get a job – don’t fire yourself by being unprepared!