I am a member of the Career Collective, a group of resume writers and career coaches. Each month, all members discuss a certain topic. Please follow our tweets on Twitter #careercollective
This month we are discussing helping job seekers stay positive during the job search process. I encourage you to visit the links below to read other members’ posts as well! +++++
They say life’s not about making it through the storm, it’s about learning to dance in the rain. Well if you’ve ever been “between jobs,” or “unemployed” for the more realistic of us, this saying has probably inspired and/or discouraged you at some point. We’ve all heard the statistics—unemployment rates are flitting on the edge of 15%. That means that more than likely, either you or people you are close to are unemployed. Heck, you probably know several unemployed people at the moment.
For those of you who directly relate to this predicament, you’re all to familiar with the uninspired words of supposed comfort from your loved ones—“let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.” Meanwhile your inner voice is screaming “give your boss my resume!” or “let me mow your lawn!” depending on your current length of unemployment. But here’s the rub: you can sit there letting your inner voice make all the assertions, or you can take some proactive steps towards bringing some positive energy back into your life.
The first step to keeping afloat during your job search woes is to stay on top of your game. This means to remain in touch with your industry (or preferred industry, if you’re looking into switching careers). This will not only distract you from your lack of work, but will actually boost your self-confidence, expand your knowledge base, and possibly lead to job opportunities. If this technique doesn’t automatically lead to a traditional job opportunity, you can also take initiative and create an industry related project of your own. For example, if you’re in the marketing industry, take an example of a crisis situation a company in the field is facing at the moment and write up a proposal on how to solve this problem. If nothing else, it is a piece to add to your portfolio and might lead you to become more aware of technologies and resources out there that you haven’t looked into yet. You can also use this time to become an expert at a technology or system you didn’t know of before. Look at it this way—if your resume isn’t getting you a job as is, then add to it. There is no better way to distinguish yourself than to become an expert at something your competition is not proficient in.
Secondly, use this time to establish a good life habit that you can continue when you do land that dream (or just-for-now) job. Take up old hobbies or healthy habits such as exercising. Not only will the endorphins kick your blues, but a set schedule will allow you to set reachable goals which will help your self-esteem in a situation which would otherwise bring you down. But make sure your goals are logical for both the time-being and the future (read—when you have a 9 to 5), as you don’t want to set up any system which defines that you won’t have a job for a while. Always live as if you could have a job tomorrow, and this positive frame of mind will lead you to the manifestation of these thoughts, if by no other means than confidence alone.
Lastly, enjoy! Yes, it is horrible to be a part of the 15% statistic. And yes, you’re probably tired of hearing that you should enjoy these days, but people say it for a reason. When you’re sitting in that office looking forward to your next paycheck, don’t let yourself ruminate on the things you wish you would’ve done when you had more time. Visit family and old friends, even if you spend time job searching while visiting, any time spent is better than none. Go for a walk in the middle of the day and enjoy the sunshine those 9-to-5ers are envying right now. And if the sunshine turns to rain every once in a while, dance. You won’t regret it.
Please visit the links below to read what other Career Collective members have to say about struggling with job search.
@MartinBuckland, Job Search Made Positive
@GayleHoward, Job Search: When It All Turns Sour
@heathermundell, Help for the Job Search Blues
@heatherhuhman, 10 Ways to Turn Your Job Search Frown Upside-Down
@WalterAkana, Light at the End of the Tunnel
@resumeservice, Don’t Sweat The Job Search
@careersherpa, Mind Over Matter: Moving Your Stalled Search Forward
@WorkWithIllness, Finding Opportunity in Quicksand
@ErinKennedyCPRW, Dancing in the Rain–Kicking the Job Search Blues
@keppie_careers, What to do when you are discouraged with your job search
@DawnBugni, It’s the little things
@ValueIntoWords, Restoring Your Joy in Job Search
@LaurieBerenson, 3 Ways to Keep Your Glass Half Full
@JobHuntOrg, Just SO VERY Discouraged, http://www.job-hunt.org/job-search-news/2010/02/25/just-so-very-discouraged/
@expatcoachmegan, Dealing with Job Search Stress: Getting to the Source of the Problem
@BarbaraSafani, Making Job Search Fun (Yeah, That’s Right), http://www.careersolvers.com/blog/2010/02/24/making-job-search-fun-yeah-thats-right/
@GLHoffman, How to Overcome the Negativity of a Job Search, http://blogs.jobdig.com/wwds/2010/02/25/how-to-overcome-the-negativity-of-a-job-search/
It’s no secret that we are all in the middle of one of the most dismal job markets in decades. Many people have been out of work or underemployed for record periods of time, and there are also record numbers of job seekers vying for almost every job that opens up. Craigslist, Monster.com, eLance and all the other job or freelance sites are overwhelmed with resumes and job seekers, with nowhere near enough open positions to go around. It’s a scary time to be looking for a job.
That’s why networking is more important now than it ever has been before. And with the rise of social media sites like Facebook (for casual users) or LinkedIn (for professionals), networking has taken on whole new dimensions in recent years. Here are some things to consider:
- Get an early start. If you’re fresh out of college or if you’re trying to get a foothold in a new career move, the sooner you can start making those connections, the better off you’ll be. If you’re freelancing, cultivate more connections whenever you possibly can, from fellow freelancers or from your clients themselves. If you’re in school, hook up with your classmates or find student chapters of professional societies.
- Choose your associates carefully. Unfortunately, a down job market also brings the scammers and fly-by-nighters out of the woodwork. They know that there are job seekers (and sometimes clients) who are bordering on desperation. They might be out to take advantage of you, or they might be looking for a pawn to help advance a cause of some sort. You don’t want that hung on you, so tread carefully and make good decisions.
- Cast your net wide. Don’t limit yourself to just your field, or to people with tastes, interests or skills to your own. It’s easy to make this mistake and to just have associates that are in your “comfort zone,” but remember that the wider a network of people you have, the more resources you can have to fall back on if things go sour.
- Quid pro quo. Networking is a two-way street. If there’s anything you can do for your associates in return, whether it’s job referrals, professional references or anything else, don’t hesitate to do it. It will pay off for you in the long run.
- Go online. A staggering 84% of Americans now are engaged in some sort of online social networking, whether that means forums, newsgroups, social networking sites like LinkedIn, dating groups or what-have-you. This has been a true game-changer in many ways, helping build networks among people who may never meet face-to-face. But if you’re new to a site or forum, bear in mind the culture and environment of the site, don’t be pushy and don’t be rude. You may need introductions to get your feet wet and to be accepted. Trust your better instincts in these cases, and those connections can take you far.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d post something on love at the office.
The workplace is a fertile ground for relationships. Co-workers, after all, spend most of their day together in a safe environment, working towards similar goals. The office’s abundant bonding makes dating very easy, and almost inevitable. Despite the ease of entering into an office romance though, actually being in one and ending one can bring about a mess of complications.
If you’re part of an office romance, you should assess the relationship early on. You and your partner will need to discuss a few things. Of course, nobody enjoys having that particular talk, but you need to think objectively for a minute in order to avoid losing both your job and lover. You’ll need to figure out how serious the relationship is and, from there, whether you should stay quiet or go public. You’ll also need to prepare for whatever catastrophes might arise.
In office romances you’re dating either a colleague, subordinate, or boss, and each has its own issues. If you’ve paired up with a colleague, think about how well the relationship might stand up to rivalry. How will you deal with competing for the same promotion? If you’ve paired up with a subordinate, you should prepare yourself for accusations of favoritism. Other subordinates might frown upon this relationship and you should work hard to remain objective in business affairs. The same caution against favoritism is true if you’re dating your boss. Jealous coworkers may attribute any promotion or raise you receive to the fact that you’re hooking up with the primary decision maker. Another thing to think about when dating your boss is his/her temperament. Are they ruthless in business? Think about how easy it’d be for your boss to make things miserable for you after a break-up.
Regardless of whom you’re dating, you’ll want to make sure there’s no policy against the match-up. You can risk sneaking around quietly if there is, but be aware of the possible repercussions. Apart from policy restrictions, you may want to keep the relationship under wraps indefinitely if either of the partners is married. Note that if you do decide to keep your romance clandestine, you may have to see other coworkers trying to flirt with your partner. If you are the jealous type, make sure this won’t lead to a nasty grudge that’s bound to puzzle the target. Keeping quiet about this relationship while it’s still developing and you’re both attempting to figure out what it means can also be a wise choice. This should help maintain a degree of professionalism and prevent a potential break-up from destroying the positive atmosphere of the office.
If you decide to make your relationship public, take a few steps to ensure your coworkers don’t have a backlash against you. Avoid public displays of affection, using company funds and time for personal uses, and blatant favoritism.
Open or secret, bear in mind that you and your partner will be spending a lot of time together. While this is obviously great for some reasons, it might create some friction in the relationship. Make sure you have a little alone time every now and then to avoid this.
Factor in how entwined your lives will be and prepare for the worst. If you break-up, make sure you’ll be able to act civilized. Handling a split poorly will be nothing but detrimental to both your careers.
Office affairs may not be as taboo as they once were, but it’s still important to tread carefully for the benefit of both love and work.
OK first off…you know this is a terrible business climate right now, and a lot of people aren’t getting raises, so it’s not just you. The one thing you should absolutely NOT do is get in a snit and go storming out of your boss’s office. That will do nothing for your next evaluation, your next shot at a raise or your standing at the company.
You do, however, have the right to know why your raise was turned down, and there might be a number of different reasons:
- Company finances. With things being what they are right now in the business world, there’s a real good chance that this is going to be the case. And if they tell you that, there’s a real good chance that they are being honest with you, especially if nobody else in your department is seeing a raise. If that’s the case, there’s not much that you can do but accept it, get over it and move on. Not much point in getting upset, especially since 1 in 10 Americans are out of a job right now, and 2 in 10 are “underemployed”, with all that entails.
- Poor timing. Lots of companies only are allowed to hand out raises once during a fiscal year, or only after evaluations. If that’s the case, once again, there’s not much you can do about it. Of course, that doesn’t do you much good if your own expenses are going up, your spouse lost a job or your kids need braces. Depending on the nature of your job, maybe you can at least see if you can work overtime or get incentive pay of some sort. Unfortunately, if the company is feeling the pinch (as in the above scenario) they may also be cutting back on bonuses, overtime and incentive to scale back on payroll expenses. So…if you’re going to have to wait until the next quarter, next year or next evaluation (and overtime isn’t an option) your best move is going to be to keep the nose to the grindstone and do the absolute best job you can manage so that when the time comes, you’ll get that raise after all!
- Poor performance. If your raise was declined due to performance issues, this is when you need to be proactive, stand on your own two feet and find out the specifics. Chances are you’re going to find this out when it’s evaluation time anyway, but regardless, ask your supervisor or department head what areas need to be improved. Find out where your weak points are, and do your dead level best to improve on them. Or, your alternative might be to start looking for another job elsewhere, with better pay and better opportunities. But a word to the wise here: if you’re moving in that direction, keep it to yourself. Nothing can sabotage your future at a company quicker than making it known that you’re thinking about moving on.
Ed’s Note: Here is another wonderful article by my favorite success coach, Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul and the Dream Big success series.As most of you know, applying the Law of Attraction has completely changed my life. Jack explains it in a simple, easy-to-use way. Hope you have some takeaways from this article that you can apply to your life. As always, enjoy. ~ Erin
“How to Turn Limp Affirmations into Mantras for Success!”
To affirm something is simply to declare that it is true. So, creating and using affirmations should be a breeze, right?
Actually, the true art of the affirmation is both subtle and profound. Despite the popularity of this technique, some people use affirmations that are bland and perhaps even self-defeating.
When creating your affirmation, remember that even minor variations in wording can make a huge difference in the results you get. Since your words literally have the power to create your circumstances, invest a few minutes now to take your affirmation skills to a higher level.
Consider the following statement:
I will quit smoking with ease and joy, remembering the effects on my physical and mental health and preparing to live a longer life.
By using the guidelines found below, you can transform limp affirmations like that into mantras for manifesting a huge change in your life!
The following points are key:
FIVE GUIDELINES TO FOLLOW
1) Enter the “now”
Start your affirmation by entering the present tense. Take the condition you desire and declare it to be already true.
2) Be positive
Our sample affirmation keeps the focus on smoking—the condition that you do not want. Instead, shine a light on what you do want—to be smoke-free.
A related reminder: Our subconscious mind skips the word not. So, delete this word from your affirmations. “I am not afraid of public speaking” gives us the message that you are afraid. Use, “I feel at ease as I speak in public.”
3) Be concise
Shorter is better. Affirmations with fewer words are often easier to recall, especially in situations when you feel some stress. Rhyming makes your affirmations even more memorable. For example, “I am feeling alive at 185.”
4) Include action
Whenever possible, affirm yourself as a person who takes action. For example: “I am gratefully driving my new Porsche along an open highway.” Action engages the Law of Attraction, creating new results in our lives and opening us to further inspiration.
5.) Include a feeling word
Powerful affirmations include content and emotion. Content describes the specific outcome that you desire. Emotion gets to the heart of how you feel about that outcome. For a more potent affirmation, add both elements.
Consider this affirmation:
“I am supporting my children to fully come forward into the world.”
The content of this statement is clear. Yet it lacks an emotional charge. Breathe life into this affirmation by adding an active expression of feeling:
“I am lovingly supporting my children and encourage them to fully express their unique talents and gifts.”
You will know that you have a powerful affirmation when you feel a surge of emotional energy. The force of feeling jumpstarts you into action.
AN AFFIRMATION MAKEOVER
Now get some direct experience with “affirmation transformation.” Return to the first example mentioned in this article:
“I will quit smoking with ease and joy, remembering the effects on my physical and mental health and preparing to live a longer life.”
Playing with the guidelines listed serves up some more exciting options, such as:
“I am breathing effortlessly with lungs that are pure and clean.”
“I am celebrating how easily I breathe through strong, healthy lungs.”
Also consider the following affirmations on a variety of topics:
“I am joyfully celebrating my graduation from college with a master’s degree.”
“I am effectively delivering my first talk to an audience of over 1,000 people who affirm my message with a standing ovation.”
“I am confidently checking the balance of my bank account as I make a deposit of $1,000,000.”
“I am walking up on stage to receive my first Emmy award and receiving a roar of applause.”
When you’re satisfied with the wording of your affirmation, start using it right away.
Repeat your affirmations at least three times daily—first thing in the morning, midday, and just before you go to sleep. Regular repetition will gently return your focus to manifesting the life of your dreams.
© 2010 Jack Canfield
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Are you “stuck” in this area?
If you’d like me to personally help you clarify your vision for the year, align your goals with your purpose, and develop a detailed action plan to turn your dream into reality, you can meet with me in Dallas, San Francisco, Seattle or Boston.
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Jack Canfield, America’s #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul© and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you’re ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get your FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com
With unemployment rates still looking dismal, it’s important to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward. One easy way to do this is to learn what the biggest mistakes job seekers make are, and how you can avoid them. Paying this extra attention to each part of the job seeking process should increase your appeal dramatically.
One of the biggest mistakes made early on is failing to network. It’s important to know that networking isn’t a simple cold and impromptu request for work. It’s building relationships that will be beneficial in the long run, if not the immediate future. Since the majority of jobs aren’t actually listed, networking can be a great gateway into the workforce. And while it’s very important to network, it’s just as important to remain tactful. If you meet or know someone who works for a company you’re interested in, for example, ask them about the hiring process and the work environment; don’t ask them for a reference. Throughout the entire job process you’ll want to be creative. Networking is no exception.
Apart from networking, there are other ways to expand your options. There are the classifieds, of course, but you should also keep in mind that employers often post job listings on their websites. To find these you can go directly to a company’s website or perform a search for the company name and the word job, career, or employment. If the company you’re interested in doesn’t have any listings, consider either mailing or dropping off in person your resume and cover letter.
Resumes are, unsurprisingly, another source of huge mistakes. It’s important that your resume is focused and detailed. People often send out the exact same resume to every posting they see, but this is ineffective. To avoid this mishap take a little time to tailor your resume to each position you’re interested in. Familiarize yourself with the language used in the job listing and on the company’s website and then use it in your resume (and cover letter). This will help convince them that you are familiar with and, maybe, an ideal match for the company. In the very least, it demonstrates you’re applying out of a genuine interest in the position and company, not out of desperation.
Another way to keep your resume focused is to avoid listing broad job responsibilities and activities on your resume. Instead, you want to list specific accomplishments, contexts, and quantities. It’s much more impressive to hear that someone increased profits by 7 percent in a period where competitors all saw a decline than to hear that the same person “helped avoid unnecessary expense.” Objectives, though not necessary, can be a great resume unifier. If you do decide to list an objective, make sure you state how you’ll benefit the company and not vice versa.
The mistakes made during the interview fall into the same category as those made in the resume. Too often people just aren’t specific enough or knowledgeable about the employer they’re applying with. The interview is your chance to drive home the fact that you are the solution to the company’s problem. You should know in advance how you fit in with the company’s future plans and adequately express this in the interview.
Finally, don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re alone in this. There are plenty of resources available. There’s probably at least one support group for jobseekers in your area. These groups can be a great way to network and keep focus. Focus and common sense are, after all, two traits to keep strong during your search.
After talking with so many people, I know many of you work and work to create the perfect resume, only to look it over when you are finished and realize your resume doesn’t say, or reflect, just what you want it to. And often times, that keeps you from being called for interviews.
I’ve included a list of “deal breakers” that might hinder your chances for an interview:
1. Mizspelld Words or Bad Grammar
While spell-check is good, it doesn’t catch everything – there could be a word that’s spelled right, but not the right word for the context of the sentence. Keep that spell-check in action but don’t rely on it exclusively. Misspellings can be the death of your application, no matter how qualified you might be. Think of how embarrassing it would be if you have been a mechanical engineer for 30 years and spell it ‘michanical’ engineer on your resume. Lots of times we accidentally misspell words that are actually words themselves i.e. “manger” instead of “manager”.
There can be other consequences, as well–misspelled words could interfere with resumes being found in the key word search of a resume database. So, proofread your resume yourself – it’s important.
*Be sure to keep tenses consistent and check for the correct word usage (such as “counsel” versus “council”).
2. Using a Vague Job Focus
Be clear on the type of position you want to target – your resume should be geared toward that. If you just say “Medical Field” or “Manufacturing,” the reader does not know what type of position you want, so your resume will probably not be considered. Make sure you are specific as to the type of job you want, such as “Accounting Professional”, “Senior Management Executive”, or “Educator.”
3. Not Including your Personal Brand, or your Value
In today’s challenging job market, showing your uniqueness – your personal brand; and letting potential employers see the value you bring to a new position is essential. Your resume must reflect why an employer should pick up the phone and call you for an interview over the hundreds of other resumes sitting on their desk. You ultimately get hired for the value you contribute to a company, so make sure it shows on your resume.
4. Including your References on the Resume
YOU NO LONGER NEED TO ADD REFERENCES UPON REQUEST on your résumé. It is a given that you will bring a list of references to the interview. Only provide references when they are asked for. Never include them on your resume. It’s understood that if a company wants your references, you’ll provide them.
5. Adding Pictures to your Resume
This might sound like a good idea if you are good looking, but it can also work against you. Unless you are applying for a job as a model or actor, pictures on your résumé is not a good idea.
6. Making Reference to Political or Religious Organizations
A GIANT NO-NO!! Don’t scare off prospective employers by referring to your political or religious opinions or affiliations that do not directly relate to your ability to do the job. An employer might not agree with your politics or might feel that the workplace is nowhere to display attitudes that might alienate others.
7. Including your Salary Demands
This should not be put on the resume – it’s only used to screen a candidate out of the running or influence the employer to offer less money. Salary should not be discussed until you have had the opportunity to explain your value – in person or over the phone
8. Creating a Resume that’s Too Long
People do not have the time to go over resumes that state everything you ever did in your career. Edit your profile down to the most relevant experience for the job at hand. Employers often gauge whether an applicant can deliver information about themselves in a quick, clear and concise manner to sell themselves.
Your resume must be long enough to show your value, but not too long, or the reader will lose interest.
9. Using Incompatible File Types and Formats
Electronic resumes should be created in the most readable file for most [Internet-recruiting] systems, which is plain text or Microsoft Word.
Today’s resume needs to be readable by machines, which means text needs to have a font size between 10 – 12 and a simple font style, such as Arial, Verdana, Helvetica or Microsoft SansSerif.
10. Stick to the Truth
We’ve seen what happen with CEO’s who embellish on their résumés. If you lie on your resume, you will have to defend yourself and your résumé in an interview. Employers also do background and even credit checks, and inaccurate info could come back to haunt you.
Plus a few more…!
11. Don’t Put your Reasons for Leaving on the Résumé
Save this for the interview. It doesn’t need to be on the résumé.
12. DO NOT Make Changes to the Résumé in Pencil or Pen
Add it to the document on your computer, not jotting it down or crossing something else out. This is never acceptable on a résumé.
13. NEVER send a résumé without a cover letter!
You must always have a cover letter. It states your intention to the reader. It’s expected and is important in job search etiquette. This is a powerful tool that can give you the competitive edge.
Your cover letter is one of the most important documents you will write in your job search. Some argue that it’s equally as important as the resume. Of course, every job will place a different amount of weight on the cover letter, but however important the cover letter is to an employer, there are some mistakes that you absolutely should not make. Here are some of the common pitfalls to avoid when writing your letter.
Mistake – Bad spelling or grammar
This mistake is the most common, and what makes it so grievous is the fact that it’s completely avoidable. There is no excuse for bad spelling or grammar in a cover letter. If you’re not sure it’s perfect, have someone read over your work before you send it. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression, and grammar mistakes in a cover letter tell an employer that you aren’t paying attention at best, and that you’re uneducated at worst.
Mistake – “To Whom It May Concern”
While some form letters are written very well, they won’t really help you show that you’ve done your research on the company. Never let your cover letter be generic. Use a last name in your address if at all possible. The ‘To Whom it May Concern” intro just shows you don’t know how to pick up a phone and call to see who the hiring manager is, or you don’t know how to use Google. If you absolutely cannot find the name of a person in the company, make sure the address at least fits the position. For example, if you’re applying for a sales job, try “Sales Team Hiring Manager”.
Mistake – Using the company to further your own goals
Remember, that any employers wants to know how you will be an asset to the company, not the other way around. Don’t use your cover letter to explain how the company will help you achieve your dreams of being a clerical assistant. Explain how your particular skill set will increase productivity, and how your work in the past has demonstrated this.
Mistake – Leaving it all up to the employer
Don’t end your cover letter with a line like “I hope to hear from you soon.” This takes things out of your hands. You want full control over the situation. Instead, say something like “I will email again on X day to arrange an interview.” If you’re not bold enough for this, at least make a commitment to follow up with the employer. Just be sure that if you set up a time for follow up, you comply without fail.
Mistake – Ignoring the job posting
The job posting ad may have important instructions about how to submit a resume, and what needs to be included. If you ignore the ad, you run the risk of missing critical information, and having even a perfectly written cover letter ignored.