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The Wise Job Search aims to provide the "Best of the Best" information, resources, and ideas to help you go from "I didn't get the job" to "I start on Monday!"
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It's Not Easy!

imageAs part of the Job Networking group I help lead in the Minneapolis area, we present a quarterly All-Day Job Search Workshop. It's a full Saturday that includes various presentations on effective job search strategies, resumes, interviews, and networking. We also then bring in several local executives, HR pros, and recruiters to allow workshop participants a chance to meet with someone that can give them individual coaching, resume help, or mock interview practice.

We always get high-marks on our feedback forms at the end of the day. However, we also often get someone that feels it's too hard to put the information to use. They wanted easy "plug and play" solutions for their job search and feel discouraged when they realize it will be a lot of work.

The fact is… a job search is not easy!

It's seductive, when you watch commercials for job boards on TV, see a myriad of books and online resources on effective job search, and hear people tell of their job search success, to think that it's been narrowed down to a science. Do steps A, B, and C, and a job offer will pop out of the other end of the process.

Unfortunately, it's not that easy. There are no "one size fits all" solutions. Everyone's situation is different and something that works incredibly well for one person will not work so well for another. While there are certainly common strategies any job seeker would benefit from applying, some will produce better results than others depending on the individual circumstances.

Similar to anything else in this world that involves people and relationships, it's not an exact science. People respond in unexpected ways at times and nothing is foolproof. The frustrating part for many job seekers, and why they feel it's too hard, is that they don't want to have to manage their way through relationships and personalities. They would rather fill out the facts in an application online, hit 'Enter', and get the offer. A job search, and life, don't work that way. It requires us to step out of our comfort zones; to do things that don't necessarily come easily or naturally to us. It requires effort and a willingness to try new things.

It can be done… by virtually anyone… but it's not easy.

If you're in a job search, take a look at your own attitude and activity. Are you simply going through motions that aren't producing results, or are you doing what's necessary to get a new job?


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What's your calling???

imageMost everyone would like to be in a career that they feel is their "calling". The career that most utilizes their strengths, skills, passions, and knowledge. A career that they feel they were designed for.

For some it may be a spiritual calling... a task, job, or career that they believe God is calling them to do. For others it may be a calling of their passion… a career that satisfies a deep desire they've had for a long time. An example may be a calling to be a Doctor or Olympic Athlete. For some it may be a calling out of a great desire to serve… perhaps in civil service, the military, or in social services.

Statistically, the large majority of people have no idea what their "calling" may be, and feel they are not in a job that they would identify as a calling. So… do you have a calling? Do you know what it is? Are you following it? Is it necessary to have, and work in a calling???

Each person has to decide that for themselves. However here are some observations…

The idea of a calling for everyone's career is a relatively new idea! It has really been mostly in the last few generations that people in western countries have focused on the idea that everyone should pursue their calling in their careers. For most of history, people viewed their work as a means to provide for their family's needs and perhaps create a better lifestyle. Certainly they could still find meaning and satisfaction in their work, however, the idea of their work being the career they were meant to pursue was seldom considered.

There have always been some people that felt they had a calling or specific purpose in their work. However, that was more an exception than the rule. As western culture has progressed, and more career choices have become available, conventional wisdom has gradually changed to say that each person ought to pursue what they feel most passionate about. Sounds good… however most people feel their own life falls short.

Many people find their calling IN their career! Through recruiting for nearly 25 years, and leading job search classes, my observation has been that the vast majority of people have no idea what their calling may be. They either don't know what they'd really like to do in life, or don't know how to have a sense of purpose in their work.

In my own case, I "fell" into a career as a recruiter 25 years ago. I simply took a job that was offered to me at the time. I never had a dream of becoming a recruiter or felt that this career would fulfill my purpose on this earth… even after I had been in it for a few years.

However, over time, I came to realize that this career really had become my calling. In it, I've been able to help companies find solutions to their problems by finding the right people for their circumstances. I've been able to help people find the job of their dreams, often helping them fulfill their calling. I've had the opportunity to talk to people about their personal concerns and worries as they make one of the more difficult decisions of their lives… a  job or career change. I've been able to offer advice and solutions to people who didn't know what options they had. I've had the privilege of impacting people's lives for the better!

As my career developed, I found that I really loved my job! I found purpose and meaning in what I do. And I found that by doing my job! Not by looking for a job that might fulfill my purpose.

Find your purpose where you are! It may be easy to point to my job, or someone else's and think… "Sure, I can see how that job can be a calling, but not mine, I'm a _________."

Over the years I've seen people find meaning and purpose for all kinds of jobs. No job is so insignificant or trivial to be meaningless. A Farmer may find their calling in feeding the world. An Accountant may find meaning in ensuring efficient and ethical practices in business. A machinist may find purpose in providing products that make life easier or production more efficient for others. Even a fast-food worker can find satisfaction in providing food and cheer to people seeking to satisfy their cravings.

There are no careers that can't have an aspect of calling or purpose for those that do it.

Don't let the culture minimize your calling! People become disenchanted in many areas of their lives because they buy into lies that the surrounding culture seems to tell them. They come to believe they have to be a certain weight, exude a certain style, live in a certain neighborhood, or have a certain kind of career to be valued. They come to believe that there is no purpose in their job because others don't seem to consider it worthy. I believe each job is defined by the person doing it, and how they view their role, rather than by what others think.

A janitor with a sense of purpose in their work, with an understanding of the importance of what they do for the greater good, has a much greater sense of calling than a Doctor who goes through the motions each day simply for a large paycheck. It's never a good idea to base your career choices on what others tell you are worthy ones or not. I met with someone recently that feels he is less than he could have been because he dropped out of medical school and became a teacher. Each person has to decide for themselves what they really want to do, however, I view his ability to teach and influence the next generation as a very high calling in life. He's had people tell him he 'blew it', and he bought that lie. Don't let the world set your self-worth!

If you know yours… Just Do It! For the minority of people in this world who truly do have a calling, clearly know what it is, and have a passion for it… it's a shame when they don't pursue it. Certainly, for many people there are realities that make it difficult. Perhaps you have to support a family and can't afford to make a change that would not allow you to pay your bills. Perhaps your calling requires schooling, relocation, or to overcome other obstacles that make it seem prohibitive. However, anyone, in any circumstance, can begin planning and taking steps to reach that goal. Ultimately, people are so much more effective, happy, and usually more prosperous when they are doing what they believe they are called to do.

I know someone that had been a successful Vice-President at a large insurance company, but felt called to be an Optometrist. He was already middle-aged and had a mortgage, small children, car payments, and all the typical "chains" to keep him in his current job. However, over a period of a few years, he made plans and took steps to arrange his finances and other aspects of his life to quit his job, go back to school full-time and gain his Doctor of Optometry license. He went on to build a great career and much happier and fulfilled life. It was extraordinarily difficult, but he made it happen and is glad he did. Are you willing to do what it takes?

 

What is your calling? Do you have one you know you should pursue? Is it a matter of finding purpose in your current job? Are you finding that what you do now has greater meaning than you originally thought? Or have you let others around you snuff out your hopes and sense of purpose? Examine yourself and decide!


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Whose Responsibility Is It?

image"If it's to be, it's up to me!"

That's a line most of us have heard expressed many times in our lives. It has shaped much of the thinking in this country. While we certainly always should seek and value great personal and business relationships, ultimately it's up to me whether I reach my goals or not.

Unfortunately, that is not the case with what I perceive to be a growing number of job seekers in this country. So many people I talk to are waiting on circumstances to change or someone else to do something before they think they can land a new job.

 

They are waiting for…

  • The economy to improve
  • Their last company to start re-hiring
  • The government to provide re-training
  • The right company to find their resume on a job board
  • A recruiter to find them on LinkedIn
  • A company to call them back after they applied to a job online
  • or worse… For their unemployment checks to run out
    (I'm always surprised at how quickly many people find jobs after their Unemployment Benefits expire)

There's no question that it's more difficult in the current job market than it has been at other times. And although most of these factors can make it easier for people to land a new job, in the end, it's up to each individual to do all they can to get to the finish line themselves.

Relying on external circumstances leaves them as victims, feeling like they have no control over their circumstances. But they DO have control! MANY people are doing it every day. People do land jobs, even in industries and cities where there "are no jobs", and the biggest hurdle for them to overcome to get one is taking personal responsibility.

Once someone decides that they are the only one that will get it done, then they work harder, get more creative, and learn and apply what's necessary to reach their goal. As long as they really believe something externally has to change first, people typically just go through the motions without any real drive or effort. They don't exert themselves because they believe it's only futile anyway.

There is plenty of excellent free advice on this blog, and many other online resources about how to conduct a Wise and effective job search. If you've been thinking that your job search is out of your control, change your thinking! Then learn what you need to, and be more proactive in your search!

  • Talk to live people rather than relying on email and the internet
  • Make a call rather than wait for a call
  • Pursue new contacts rather than responding to job postings
  • Ask for networking referrals and leads rather than waiting for introductions
  • Follow up after meetings and interviews rather than waiting for them to respond

Don't wait for things to change… take control of your job search and you will get better results!


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Can YOU get a new job in 2 weeks?

imageAs I talk to hundreds of job seekers through a job networking group I help lead and through my career as a "Headhunter", every now and then I find someone that got a new job in a matter of a couple weeks of starting their search.

Some, certainly just got lucky. They happened to apply for the right job at the right time and virtually stumbled into their new career. Some have had experience in a particularly "hot" skill or technology and got snatched up as soon as they let people know they were available. However, for most of the others, it was the result of doing things differently than most people do.

So what did they do? Invariably, these "Sprinters" have behaviors and activities in common…

 

They don't fish at the same hole as everyone else. Most job seekers start by going online to job boards, company websites to see relevant job postings, run Google searches for jobs in their field, or look at newspaper want-ads or other traditional sources. And why not? That's where the jobs are! Right? Well, yes, but since it's where most job seekers go, you're automatically "one of the many"… tough to get noticed!

"Sprinters" go where most people don't. They make personal contact with everyone they can, whether they think the contact knows of jobs or not. They network and follow referrals and leads far beyond what others are generally willing to do. Primarily, they chase people, not jobs.

They are exceptionally professional! Professional is not defined by appearance, or dress, or vocabulary (although each of those factors contribute to it). It's also defined by attitude, tenacity, appropriateness, and a sense of "being on the ball". They present themselves at their best in each of their contacts and exhibit polished enthusiasm in a way that sets them apart. Read: Are You "Professional"?

They don't just work '9 to 5'! It's a well worn cliché to say that "Looking for a job is a full-time job in itself". The truth is though, that the vast majority of job seekers don't even put in part-time hours. Some studies suggest that, on average, job seekers spend less than 2 hours per day of concentrated effort into their job search.

"Sprinters" tend to be very focused and have a great sense of urgency. They manage their time so that they are on the phone and contacting people as much as possible during "prime time" business hours, and doing all the digging, prep work, and planning in their evenings and weekends. Typically, they are putting in at least 40 hours per week of concentrated effort, and usually much more.

For Example… I recently got to know someone who was laid-off from his job of the last 6 years. The day after his lay-off, he signed-up for my 8-week job search class (he was done before the 2nd week). He didn't once look at job boards online, or surf company websites for job postings.

Instead, that first evening, he gathered together his personal phone book and made lists of every friend, family member, business contact, other parents of his kids sports teams, church acquaintances and anyone else he could think of. He created scripts for the conversations he would have with people. Scripts for direct conversations, and scripts for the inevitable voicemails. He also found his college alumni directory online, targeted people locally, and created scripts for those conversations as well.  Over the next 3 days he sat at his phone from 8:00 in the mornings into the evenings getting in touch with as many of those people he could.

His scripts were relatively simple. All he did was let his contacts know he was looking for a new position, and that his "job" during the job search was to expand his network as much as he could. He gave them a very simple and brief description of what he was looking for, and asked if they knew of anyone else that would be worthwhile for him to talk to. He was intentionally up-beat, prepared, and exuded competence, enthusiasm and professionalism! Who wouldn't want to refer someone like that to their best business contacts?!?

His list kept growing, and he ended up literally making hundreds of calls. He got leads, and meetings set up. But didn't quit making calls when he got them. He kept calling through the whole list to get as many leads and meetings as he could before he followed up on them. He set up several meetings over the next few days, which led to 7 interviews at 5 companies, and accepted a great job offer by the end of the 2nd week.

He didn't have a stellar career history, or "hot" skill set, and in fact determined (and succeeded) in making a career change into a new field… a particularly difficult feat in this job market.

He is not alone! There are others I know that essentially did the same thing as well!

The keys were: Determination. Making hundreds of calls. Being upbeat, enthusiastic, and professional on every call (easier to do on the first 10 than on the 200th)! Being prepared (created scripts, and after he finished his calls he stayed up most of a night preparing his resume). He went "all out", working long hours. Presenting himself as positively and professionally as he could in each meeting and interview. Not getting slowed down by the "No's"… and there were a LOT of them!

Unfortunately, the reality for most job seekers is that they are not willing to put in that kind of effort or work at presenting themselves in the best possible light. Are you?

Certainly it's possible to do all this, and not end up with a new position quickly. However, with enough determination and effort, you will certainly land a new job much more quickly than the average job hunter.
Resolve to be a "Sprinter"!


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