**I am a member of the Career Collective, a group of resume writers and career coaches. Each month, all members discuss a certain topic. This month, in honor of April Fool’s Day, we are talking about how we fool ourselves about the job search and/or being tricked by common job search blunders. Please follow our tweets on Twitter #careercollective
Unless you are independently wealthy, you’ll be on the job hunt at some point in your life. If you’re lucky, you won’t find yourself looking for a job very often. That also means that when you are seeking a job, you might be out of practice. It’s also possible that you may be inadvertently doing things to sabotage yourself while job hunting. Take a look at some of the common lies people tell themselves about their job search, and how you can avoid them.
I can wait a few weeks to look for a job. I have money saved up.
This is a very dangerous job hunting mistake, mostly because it’s a slippery slope. It starts off as a few days of rest, and then a week. One week of sitting at home turns into two, and before you know it, you find that you’ve lost the motivation to look for a good job. Maybe you’ve gotten accustomed to sleeping in, or perhaps you’ve moved in with a relative who is allowing you to mooch without demanding payment. Whatever the reason, this can quickly lead to depression, and worse, the longer the amount of time that lapses from one job to another, the more potential employers want to know why you weren’t working. Do yourself a favor, and start looking immediately.
My Resume is just fine – I don’t need to re-do it.
If you’ve sent in your resume to multiple places, and you haven’t gotten a response, it’s probably time to tweak it. Add new experiences, play with the format, or have a professional resume written for you. Ideally, you really should be tweaking your resume every single time you send it out. It should always reflect the job you’re applying for, and it should also use the keywords that were in the job posting.
I don’t need to look for a job every day.
Yes you do. You should be treating your job hunt as a 9-5 job. There are several reasons for this. First, by waking up early every day, networking, visiting businesses, dropping off and printing resumes, and scanning the job listings, you’re setting up a good schedule and work ethic so that you never get out of the habit of working hard. It’s also important, because if a month later you still haven’t found something, you know it won’t be because you aren’t trying. That can help stave off joblessness depression.
I can do all my job hunting online.
While the internet is a huge resource for finding a job, it’s certainly not the only one. If fact, the best way to find a job is to get a face to face meeting with someone. Dress in your best every day, and while you’re not scanning online job listings, you should be on the road. Visit every company you think you’d like to work in, and have a chat with whoever is at the front desk. Explain that you’re a skilled person at doing whatever it is you do, and ask politely to see the HR manager, or hiring director. If you’re not allowed to meet with them, leave your resume, along with a handwritten note saying that you dropped by, and you’d love to have a chat with them about filling any needs the company has.
The April, 2010, Career Collective Links
10 Ways to Tell if Your Job Search is a Joke, @careerealism
April Fool’s Day – Who’s Fooling Who?, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes
Avoiding the Most Common Blunder, @jobhuntorg
Are you fooling yourself? Bored at work? Is it your own fault?, @keppie_careers
Hey, Job Seeker — Don’t Be a Fool!, @resumeservice
Job Search Is No Joking Matter, @careersherpa
Is Your #Career in Recovery or Retreat? (All Joking Aside), @KCCareerCoach
9 Ways You Might Be Fooling Yourself About Your Job Search, @heatherhuhman
Don’t get tricked by these 3 job search blunders, @LaurieBerenson
Trying to hard to be nobody’s fool?, @WorkWithIllness
It’s not all about you, @DawnBugni
Mirror ‘their’ needs, not ‘your’ wants in #jobsearch, @ValueIntoWords
Same as it ever was – @walterakana
Don’t be fooled. Avoid these – @kat_hansen
Job Seekers: You Are Fooling Yourself If...@barbarasafani
Ed’s Note: Here he is again! Back by popular demand. In this article, Jack Canfield, Success Coach, talks about expanding your ‘prosperity consciousness’ or becoming more comfortable with money. As always, Jack’s articles really open my own mind. Hope you enjoy!
by Jack Canfield
Understanding the relationship among consciousness, action, and prosperity is crucial to your success.
In my seminars I sometimes stand in front of the room and hold up a $100 bill, state that I’m wiling to give it away, and ask if anyone would like to have it.
Usually lots of people raise their hand – and do nothing else. I keep waiving the dollar bill until someone finally jumps out of his or her chair, walks or runs all the way up to the stage and reaches up to take the bill.
There are two lessons here. One is that money goes to the person who takes the necessary action. The other is that a certain state of consciousness makes it possible to take action – or to avoid it.
When I ask people what kept them from walking up to the front of the room to claim the money, I always get the same answers: they felt shy. They worried about what other people would think. They thought it was a trick. Those answers come from a consciousness dominated by fear, scarcity, and cynicism.
The same forces can operate in our daily lives. In each moment we either feed those forces – or replace them with something better. Following are some essential ways to expand your prosperity consciousness and claim the wealth you deserve.
Monitor Your Conversations
We swim in a sea of conversation. Every time you attend a meeting, make a phone call, or send an email, you start up a conversation. Whenever you listen to an audio recording or pick up a book, you start a conversation with an author. And whenever you write in your journal or just a take a few minutes to sit and think, you start a conversation with yourself.
Consider the combined effect of those conversations. My friend Jim Rohn liked to say that we are the average of the five people with whom we spend the most time. The quality of our conversations creates the quality of our lives.
Who are the five people that dominate the “conversation space” in your life? What did you talk about the last time you saw each person? And did that conversation build up your prosperity consciousness or tear it down?
Stay in Prosperity Conversations
Make it a point to drop out of the “aint it awful” club – toxic conversations with people who dwell on resentments or complaints. Instead, get engaged in conversations that support your path to prosperity.
For example, spend more time with the people who are already doing the kind of work you want to do. Ask them how they entered the field and what it takes to succeed.
In addition, read at least one book per week. Focus on uplifting stories and biographies of successful people. Read more and learn ways to build your skills at managing money, raising happy children, creating loving relationships, and maintaining your health. Feed your prosperity consciousness with a constant stream of useful, positive ideas.
Keep Catching Your Dream
Have you ever shared your dream with someone who then doubted your ability to achieve it? This happened to Mark Victor Hansen and me during a conversation with the publisher of Chicken Soup for the Soul. We asked him how many copies of the book we should expect to sell. The publisher said that we’d be lucky to sell 20,000 copies.
Believe me, that was NOT our dream! Our goal was to sell 150,000 copies in six months and 1.5 million in 18 months. Our publisher just laughed out loud and said it was impossible.
We ended up selling 135,000 copies in six months and 1.3 million in 18 months. We didn’t quite meet our initial goals, yet we sold much more than our publisher estimated. That first book went on to sell over eight million copies in America and 10 million copies around the world.
Whenever you have a dream-killing conversation, you have two options. Give up your dream or return to your original intention with even more energy and commitment. Focusing on your original intention sends an urgent message to your mind: I am going to persist until my dream manifests. Starting right now!
Support this deeper level of intention with affirmations, such as:
- I always attract the perfect people to work with me.
- No matter what is going on in the economy, I attract people I can help – and who can help me.
- Our customer base is expanding.
- Repeat business and referrals keep coming my way.
Then add supporting visualizations. See yourself holding bigger paychecks, rent checks, or royalty checks in your hands. Visualize people handing you cash.
Round out these images with visions of sharing the wealth. Many of the world’s wealthiest people are dedicated tithers, meaning they give 10 percent of their income to charitable organizations.
Visualize yourself doing the same thing. Those who give also receive, and service always comes back multiplied.
© 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…
* * *
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
Have you ever had a workplace that was completely gossip free? Yeah, right, of course not. Gossip seems to be an unavoidable product of socially interconnected people talking amongst themselves. In the broadest of terms, gossip is defined as anything said about a person when they aren’t around. The most infamous (and, unfortunately, common) form of gossip is malicious. This isn’t always the case though; sometimes gossip can be a positive force. It is not always easy to know just how to respond to gossip.
The number one rule of the grapevine is to question everything. There may be a kernel of truth to most gossip, but things can easily spin out of control and become mangled. It’s a good idea to confirm that what you’ve heard is true before you pass it on (or, when in doubt DON’T SAY ANYTHING). This precaution will help keep your reputation in good regards. Remember, though, that gossip tends to trickle around and alter from one telling to the next (did you play that game when you were a kid? Sit in a circle, whisper something in someones ear, wait for it to come back to you, then see how different it became?). This distorting effect can make gossip difficult to rely on.
There are times when you may want to actively engage gossip- to spread the word about your success on a recent project, for example. Although gossip can be a fast communication method, you should always (even with positive gossip) proceed with caution. You never know what details might be added or removed. Refrain from spreading the latest tidbit if you have any doubts over it.
If you’re office is suffering under the rule of a gossip queen (or king), the best solution is to simply confront this person. Don’t be violent or mean, rather provide them with an ear, ironically, to which they can say what’s actually bothering them. The majority of gossip is about getting attention and, often, there’s a deeper issue at the heart of things. Ask your resident gossip what’s really going on and, hopefully, you’ll get an honest response. Either way, it’s worth mentioning to them the stress their antics are putting on you and the office. If conditions don’t improve, consider telling someone higher up. Be aware though that this news isn’t likely to travel through the grapevine too well. Make sure, then, that if you choose to rat out the gossip, you have the correct source and the rumors are truly defamatory.
Likewise, if you’re planning to take a cue from Machiavelli and build your own gossip throne in order to get ahead, remember that tracking the source of everything in a smaller environment (like an office) can be pretty easy. If found out, not only will your coworkers feel betrayed and disdainful, there could be serious legal repercussions. Defamation lawsuits may be presented to anyone who diffuses lies about a person verbally, transcriptually, or online.
With a little effort, you can also avoid the entire circus altogether. To minimize the amount of gossip you’re exposed to, try listening to music at your desk (at a non-disruptive volume low enough for you to still hear the phone ring). You might also want to try stopping the few rumors you do hear. If someone says something out-of-line about a coworker, openly question it and express concern. Remember that there is a distinction between all the negative gossip and the general social realm of the office; avoiding the former shouldn’t mean excluding yourself from the latter. Plus, nothing shuts down a mean gossiper quicker than a nice person. Be the nice person. You will always get ahead.
Writing an executive resume has become an extremely complex art. Executive resumes generally are far more detailed than regular resumes. To compete for the high paying, high powered positions, you need to create a resume that doesn’t just inform, but excites, entices and extends the invitation to learn more about your skills, competencies and all the right reasons why you should be the next CEO, CFO or President.
Begin by remembering that very few of the executives in charge of hiring will actually read your resume in full. These days, with the high level of competition and well qualified applicants, even executive resumes need a special polish to attract those hiring. The idea is that this will lead you to the interview, where your other skills will then be examined. To get that interview, your resume needs to be sharp, direct, and catch the eyes of those in charge early.
You want to come across as a well-rounded, exceptionally professional and highly skilled applicant who is the best choice for the job. Don’t be afraid to outline all the skills and experiences that make you so desirable. Still, keep the summary brief, concise and up front, but allow for more details of some of the more important skills and experiences that will prove you are the best.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of your executive resume is establishing your value. Since the corporation or company will be paying you top dollar, you need to prove that you are of the greatest worth and unique attributes that are rare and can only be found in you (sell yourself!). Your specific talents for solving complex problems can be outlined, but describing the challenges you faced and the actions you took to solve the problems as well as the results of those actions will convey your worth in clear and undeniable ways.
Your focus needs to very targeted and clear. As an executive–a leader— you need to show the reader what you’ve done and what you can do for them. I have my clients get very detailed and accomplishment-focused. It may take some time to gather all the facts of what you’ve done, but it is ‘homework’ worth doing. Nothing says, ‘I’m hesitant about my skills’ like a vague, unfocused resume. These kinds of details will show them you didn’t just step off the truck, but that in fact you have been building your skills all along. Examine all your experiences carefully and pick the ones that best show the timeline of how you learned what you learned that will make you the best choice for this job.
Be very thoughtful about what personal information you include. While board memberships and professional associations might be relevant, certain religious or free time activities might not be pertinent (i.e. less is more). Some personal information can be used as an ice breaker (rock climbing as a hobby?), but be aware that some personal information may work against you and be used to screen you out of the running.
Many years ago, this day–St. Patrick’s Day–was a day I looked forward to all year. Of course, that was when I was in my early 20’s… when my friends and I would start our day out at some Irish pub and then continue with the ‘pub crawl’ throughout the day. When I look back, I have no idea how I did that (I am sounding old). Fast forward 15+ years…
The significance of the day always stayed with me, even intensified since having my own children. I was explaining to my kids this morning why they are wearing green and why it is especially important for us to wear green because we are Irish. I could see their eyes sort of zone out when I went into our ancestry, but I figure one day they would feel proud, like I do.
My great, great grandfather, Michael Hankerd and his brother, Dennis, came here from Ireland in the 1830’s. They eventually settled in Jackson, Michigan, on an unoccupied lake. Michael married Margaret who came here as a nanny with another family from Ireland. Michael and Margaret began their family who would eventually make their way down to my grandparents, my mother, and then me.
My favorite part of the story is that even though through the years, bits and pieces of that land were sold off, we are still on that very same lake, though, now it’s completely occupied with year-round families. My grandparents bought a summer place on the lake 60+ years ago that is still in my family to this day. I look forward to going there every summer. That is where my roots are, where my history is, where it began… as my mom tells my children, “Your great, great grandparents swam in this water, in this very spot, too!” When I think of how my children’s children will be swimming there, I am just blown away by the connection of it all.
Everyone has a family history like mine. We all have ancestors who were settlers from another country– who came here with very little, and made a home and a family. We all have roots and we are all bonded together. Even though sometimes family drives us nuts, they are who we are, and where we come from.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Does the sound of ‘group interview’ make you cringe? Does it immediately bring to mind Will Smith in ‘Men in Black‘ and the weird egg shaped chair? Did you think, ‘Uh-uh. No way!’? I did too, until I did a little research on it.
Group interviews are held when multiple applicants are seeking a limited number of positions, which they interview for together. The interview typically involves a company presentation, group discussions, and role playing exercises. Usually if a company is conducting candidate group interviews, it’s because they have a large group of applicants and are looking for the simplest, most cost effective way to reject the majority of them.
While this is unlucky news for most applicants, it’s great news for you, the informed interviewee . Group interviews are the perfect opportunity to stand out and define yourself as a leader, and you should have plenty of time to prepare, since human resources almost always informs applicants of the group interview format beforehand. Follow these few tips to ensure a successful, stress free group interview experience.
Before your Group Candidate Interview
• Get ready well in advance, and be a few minutes early. Dress nicely, as you would for a one on one interview. There may be individuals who show up to the interview dressed casually, but their sloppy appearance will only highlight your professional attire.
• Bring a light briefcase or portfolio with you resume, a writing tablet, and two working pens.
• Greet the other candidates warmly and genuinely, even though they are your competition. You will need a good rapport with the other applicants to really shine during the role playing exercises and other group activities, and, anyway, you never know who may end up your coworker or even superior.
During Your Group Candidate Interview
• Expect the group interview to start with an introductory greeting from the human resources or hiring manager, who may be joined by other members of management. Do your best to remember their full names and faces.
• Be confident and try to stand out as a leader during group activities. You can expect to have to work in teams and speak in front of audiences, so do your best to overcome any social anxiety. Even if someone else takes the leadership role, still remain engaged and active. You cannot do the bare minimum and succeed.
• If you are able to lead, make sure you lead well. Involve all team members, even more reserved ones, criticize constructively, encourage and take into account feedback, and praise when praise is due. These are the qualities interviewers are looking to see in potential employees.
• Expect to be watched at all times and judged. While you can particularly expect to be evaluated during group exercises, where interviewers will drop in on each group as well as observe from around the room, you can also count on your casual conversations during breaks to be analyzed as well. Always stay professional and friendly.
Typical Group Interview Activities
• Role playing: Group interviewers frequently plan this activity for candidates. Typically, the interviewer will give two or more people in the group a scene to act out, which is often related to workplace expectations.
• Presentations: Applicants, often working together in groups, are given a topic and a number of materials and are expected to create presentations. Sometimes candidates are given a hypothetical problem to resolve and create a presentation around.
Now that you know what to expect, doesn’t it feel a little less painful?
It’s an old adage, and it’s true: there are no second chances when it comes to first impressions. Your interviewer will make on-the-spot judgments about your capabilities within the first few minutes of meeting you, based almost entirely on your personal appearance. Negative initial impressions will be difficult if not impossible to reverse during the interview, even if it goes well. The clothes you wear to the interview say so much to your potential employer: how well you’ll fit in, if you pay attention to little details, and whether you understand professionalism, to name a few.
Many of these recommendations can be summed up as common sense (hopefully)– wear clean, tidy looking clothes, dress professionally and conservative, go for understated over bold. The right clothes might not guarantee you a spot with the company, but the wrong clothes almost certainly will disqualify you. The way you dress for your interview should send a loud message that you will fit in with the company culture and that you understand what it means to be a team player. When planning your interview outfit (preferably days in advance in case repairs need to be made or items professionally cleaned), reference this checklist to ensure that you are dressed for success.
Yes, we know all of this, but lately I’ve had questions from clients that make me think a refresher course is needed.
- Go with a simple, well fitted suit every time. For men, wear a dark suit with a light shirt and silk tie; for women, a suit or a dress and jacket combination work. Even if the corporate culture is laid back, you still need to dress for the interview as if you really are going to an interview.
- Consider wearing blue, preferably navy. To many, blue symbolizes calm, trustworthiness, and confidence. Otherwise, stick to the business neutrals: black, gray, beige, brown.
- Dark dress shoes are best. Ideally, men should wear black lace ups with dark socks. Women should wear low heeled, close toed pumps. Ladies, this is not the place to try out your new stilettos.
- Wear something you’ve worn before and you know you look great in. You want to exude confidence and know you’ll be comfortable.
- Go easy on perfume, cologne, or aftershave. It can seem obnoxious and in a worst case scenario (your interviewer is sensitive or allergic) they can derail the interview altogether. You don’t want to leave your scent on the person’s hand when you leave. Ick.
- Trimmed, styled hair and groomed nails. If you can, get a professional cut before the interview. A fresh cut will also make you feel more confident and put together. Men, make sure your 5 O’clock shadow isn’t showing.
- Go easy on the jewelry. Less is more.
- Pay attention to detail. Everything should be clean, hemmed, ironed, and look well put together.
- Bring a light briefcase or small portfolio; make sure it is in good condition and does not clash with the rest of your outfit.
- Lose the gum, cell phone, MP3 player, and other distracting items. Do not bring a drink, even coffee. Nothing says,”Please don’t hire me” like slurping your non-fat, Caramel Macchiato while texting your BFF. Keep pockets empty to avoid the sound of jingling keys and change; this will also keep pockets from unattractively bulging.
- Cover tattoos and take out piercings, even if you are already aware that workplace policy allows them.
Stick with these simple tips and you’ll do just fine.
Your cover letter is your first impression with a company, even before an interview occurs. There is some debate among job seekers now about the importance of cover letters, now that email and online applications have replaced postal mail. However you apply for a job, though, a cover letter is still very important, and making yours stand out from your competition is equally important. So how can you make your cover letter unique, without looking desperate for attention? Here are a few guidelines to writing an effective cover letter that presents your personality in a way that sets you apart from the competition.
Don’t use a template : The most effective way to write a unique cover letter is to avoid templates or form letters. Not only will the reader be aware that you’ve put some thought into your introduction this way, but it will also open you up to different formats that will allow you to express your thoughts in the most concise manner. Maybe you want a bulleted list of keywords at the top, or you have particular experience in an aspect of the job, and want more time to explain – don’t pigeonhole yourself into skipping it because it doesn’t fit a pre-made template.
Make the cover letter appropriate for a quick scan : Sure, you want to tell a potential employer all about why you’re the best, but chances are the HR staff doesn’t have time to read 50 individual cover letters. Make your letter easy to digest with a quick 5 second eye scan. Include your skill set in an easy to read bulleted list at the top, or format your letter with the main points in bold text. People start skimming when they hit a block of text, so tell their eyes where to go. Make sure they can see all the most important information within 5 seconds of opening your email.
Remind them that this is just a highlight of your full resume : The point of the cover letter is to tell the employer at a glance why they ought to bother looking at your resume. So don’t forget to remind them that it’s attached.
Include links to your information in a clickable format : You may not have your own website, but you probably (and should) have a LinkedIn profile. Even better, you may have a work appropriate, or industry related blog. Use these to let employers get to know the real you. Let them see that you’re an expert in your field by sharing a blog you’ve created, or an article you’ve written. Let them get a glimpse of you that’s deeper than the resume. This is important though, make any links clickable. They probably won’t bother typing in a URL.
Make your text catchy, just in case they do read it : If you have interested an employer enough that they read your full cover letter (keep it short, though), then make sure that what you do write is well written. Aside from making sure it’s grammatically perfect, make it an interesting read, too. Add a bit of humor, or a clear opinion about something. If your cover letter is just rote information, then it’s no more informative than your resume.