Weekly Top 3 Job Search Tips plus a Bonus Post!

March 19, 2010

This week’s job search tips coming from the scores of blogs and articles I read have the usual 3 but I’ve added a bonus post you need to see to make your weekend!
Here they are:
First up is Jacob Share’s Poll on job seeker’s use of social media in their search with Which Social Media Network Are You Using MOST in Your Job Search?
While the sample size is not huge, the trend is interesting. Here’s an excerpt:

These results are nothing short of a wake-up call for many job seekers.
The poll results and what they mean

Here are the official results of the poll:

Which social media network are you using MOST in your job search?

* LinkedIn (53%, 71 Votes)
* Not using social media on my job search (16%, 22 Votes)
* Facebook (13%, 17 Votes)
* Twitter (12%, 16 Votes)
* Other (6%, 8 Votes)

Started: February 14, 2010 @ 10:00 am
Total Voters: 134

53% LinkedIn

No surprise here.

From May 2009 to October 2009, LinkedIn grew by 10 million users for a total over over 50 million, only half of whom are in the US. Massively popular and geared towards professionals, LinkedIn is terrific as a virtual resume and networking platform (and that’s just in its most basic form). There are even recruiters who work from home, spending all their time sourcing candidates just from LinkedIn.

True to this poll result, if you’re using any social network for job search, this is the one you should be using. For LinkedIn success, check out my LinkedIn archives or if you’d like something more structured, my friend Jason Alba penned a terrific book called I’m on Linked In, Now What???

16% Not using social media on my job search

Read more at: http://jobmob.co.il/blog/which-social-media-network-are-you-using-most-in-your-job-search-poll-results-and-analysis/#ixzz0ifYOcjEQ

Read here for the full article.

Next is Jason Alba’s post WRONG QUESTION: “Do you know a recruiter who specializes in….”

Here’s an excerpt:
Here’s one of my biggest job search pet peeves: asking for a recruiter who specializes in a particular industry or location.

Perhaps you’ve gotten emails like this:

* Do you know a recruiter who specializes in IT (or project management, or supply chain, etc.)?
* Do you know a recruiter in Seattle (or Houston, or D.C., or Podunk, USA)?

When I get this question I cringe. Not because the job seeker is doing the wrong thing (they are just trying to get a job), but because they are barking up the wrong tree. Here’s why I say that, based on my experience and observations. I’d love to know what your experience has been…

Recruiters don’t work for you and they don’t care about you.

Really. Maybe some of them do (okay, I know some of them who do care about you, as a human being), but their job is to match a company’s needs with a candidate who fits those needs. They work for the company, not you, and when it comes down to it, they get their multi-thousand dollar commission because they placed the right person, not because they spent the time to coach all of the wrong people.

Recruiters aren’t really good at networking.

In Never Eat Alone Keith Ferrazzi includes “headhunters” as that elite group called “power connectors.” The idea is they talk to people all the time, know everyone, know what opportunities are coming up, and can likely introduce you to the person you really need to talk to.

Wrong.

My experience with most recruiters is they (a) are so busy they don’t know which way is up and which way is down, and can’t take a second to spend any real time with you, (b) are very protective of their network because this is how they make a living (protective of your peers because they might eventually place them one day; protective of company contacts because that’s how they get those big-commission opportunities in the first place – not by charitably help you, rather by signing a contract with the company so they get a piece of the pie when you are hired).

Now, I say they aren’t good at networking, but in fact they are excellent at networking as it pertains to their job. Don’t expect them to put their networking mojo on to help you figure out who you should talk to – perhaps I should say “recruiters aren’t really good at networking for you.”

Here’s
the full article.

The 3rd post is from the WSJ’s Laid Off and Looking and gives a to-date summary of results of their bloggers in Laid Off and Looking Back.
In December 2008, we launched the Laid Off and Looking blog as a way for WSJ readers and job seekers to learn firsthand about how rising unemployment was affecting Americans.

We asked 29 laid off professionals with M.B.A. degrees to share what it was like for them to deal with suddenly becoming unemployed and having to search for a new job. Initially, we focused on those who had been let go from positions in finance and real estate. Then, as unemployment began to spread to other sectors, we recruited additional bloggers to weigh in on their own stories. Of our original eight bloggers, six have found permanent employment, while two have continued to take on long-term consulting assignments.

These contributors, along with numerous career experts and guest writers, helped to create a dynamic discussion on the challenges of job hunting after a layoff in a down economy. They explored issues ranging from ways to network effectively and deal with unresponsive recruiters to how to stay upbeat after a long-search and what it feels like to finally get re-hired. Our most popular post was by a blogger who deliberated whether her expensive M.B.A. was actually a hindrance to getting back into the work force. Another topic that sparked intense discussion was how age discrimination impacts the search.

The comments on many of the posts were a genuine reflection of unemployed life. In the early days of the economic collapse, many blog readers (outside of the finance industry) still felt like it couldn’t happen to them. As the blog continued amidst rising unemployment numbers, the commenters became more empathetic to the plight of fellow job hunters. Commenters began to use the blog to share their disappointments with what seemed like a never-ending own job hunt or asked for advice, but many more offered words of support when reading about the problems of our bloggers. Everyday problems were discussed including the role of a spouse during the search, how to manage time during the search, the merits of job boards and even detailed financial questions. And when one of our bloggers would land a job, there were always a few dozen congratulatory comments.

Today, 20 of our bloggers have found full-time jobs, while several others are working on long-term consulting assignments. Overall, it took these professionals a year on average to get back to working.

The opinions on this blog helped readers understand the difficulties of finding a job after getting laid off during a recession. To all of the readers and bloggers, thank you.

Now for the bonus post. This is from Polly Pearson’s Blog, which is a summary of Jacob Share’s, which – oh, never mind. Just check out these pictures and the original http://www.pollypearson.com/main/2010/03/humor-employee-engagement-gone-bad.htmlfor even more.

Humor: Employee Engagement Gone Bad

Saw these photos today via @DailyCareerTips’s link to this blog post on JobMob, and thought I’d share the laugh:

Posted with full respect to the value of McDonald’s employees — the details posted on the sign is the indication of engagement gone bad.

The photo below has nothing to do with Employee Engagement gone bad, but was certainly funny in a Dilbert sort of way. At EMC, we continue to pray to the cost leverage God, and are making our facilities more efficient at all times. On that note, I sent this photo to our CFO with a suggestion that he is perhaps, still a bit too easy on us:

This office must stink.

That’s it – enjoy your weekend!

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF Examiner.com.

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF Examiner.com, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/jpmcdermott
JP Headshot1


Success Teams – The Way People are Getting Hired in the East Bay

March 13, 2010

Those in transition know how difficult it is right now trying to land the next job. It’s even harder trying to do it alone. Sitting in front of your computer, gazing at the same old job postings on scores of job boards is depressing. Worse, those positions you absolutely know you are the perfect fit for, that you’ve crafted the perfect cover letter, tuned your resume to match it, got on their site and spent 30 minutes applying, then… nothing! So what do you do? Repeat the process.

Here’s a better idea, and one that has been working among those who attend Job Connections on Saturday mornings at Danville’s Community Presbyterian Church: Success Teams.

Success teams are groups of 4-7 people who meet regularly each week at a Starbuck’s, library, someone’s home or any designated place. They are usually formed by industry group, age, level, geography or just about any other way people meet.

There are C-Level teams, sales & marketing teams, finance teams, IT teams, Danville (or any other town where members can conveniently meet) teams, or people of a certain age.
It doesn’t really matter what the name of the team is – what does matter is that the people who meet are the ones who get jobs.

Why? There are probably several reasons, but here are a few: The people who get up from their computers and go out and meet others have just raised the odds for themselves. 70% of the jobs offered today are to people who found out about them from someone else, not a job board (that’s the N word – Networking).
Meeting your colleagues on the success team regularly means you are sharing your networks, supporting each other’s searches, and holding each other accountable.

Just like having a work out buddy, you don’t want to let them down, so you show up and keep pushing, sparring and encouraging each other.
In Keith Ferrazzi’s latest book, Who’s Got Your Back, he talks about creating informal networks of people will not let you fail. This is exactly what a success team looks like…these people can become lifelong friends from this shared experience who will be watching your back.

Are you on a success team now? If so, is it one that is positive, supportive and energizing? If not, charge it up yourself. If that doesn’t work, go find another team, or better yet – start your own and handpick the members you want.
Either way, the results speak for themselves: they work.
For information on success teams and where to find them, go to http://jobconnections.org/ or better, attend a Saturday session at 9:00 AM at Community Presbyterian Church, 222 W. El Pintado, Danville, CA. 94526.

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF Examiner.com.

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF Examiner.com, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/jpmcdermott
JP Headshot1


Senate Votes to Extend Unemployment and Cobra Subsidies

March 11, 2010

The Senate voted Wednesday to approve a bill that would, among other things, extend jobless benefits through the end of 2010. In a 62-36 vote, the Senate approved a $150 billion bill that provides an extension of tax benefits targeting businesses and individuals.

In particular, this bill extends the federal Cobra subsidy of 65% through the end of the year and extends some unemployment benefits as well.

Either the House will accept the current Senate version the bill or they will have to meet to reconcile the different versions before it can go to the President for signature.

A previous article just before Christmas described an extension that President Obama signed that extended the Cobra subsidy by 6 months. However, as the unemployment rate still hovers just below 10%, many unemployed workers were facing huge increases in their health care coverage once the subsidy expired.

This bill will keep the subsidy in place until the end of 2010.


Weekly Top 3 Job Search Tips

March 8, 2010

So the recovery sputters along, but the jobs are lagging. There are some signs of large companies in the Bay Area starting to ramp up after a couple of years of downsizing and freezes. In particular, Cisco and PG&E have announced that they are hiring. Look for other large companies to slowly start making offers as well.

Here are the top 3 job search posts from the past week. Enjoy!

First up this week is from Interns Over 40 and a very timely 10 Simple Ideas to keep your resume out of the Black Hole.
Here’s an excerpt:
Whatever Happened to my Resume?
Astronomers define a black hole as a region of space from which nothing, including light, can escape. I have often heard job seekers refer to the application process as a “black hole where resumes go, never to be heard from again”.
Here are some simple ideas to keep your resume out of the black hole:
1. Apply only to those jobs where you possess 85% or more of the requirements
2. Customize each resume to include every key word that is mentioned in the job description
3. Develop a headline that provides a “wow factor”, uniquely defining your area of expertise
4. Create 3 or 4 key sentences at the top of your resume to highlight your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
5. Focus on promotions, results and direct contributions, not responsibilities and tasks

For the entire article, click here.

Next up is from the WSJ’s Laid off and Looking blog and After 16 Months, Finally Starting a New Position.
Last Monday I was (finally) offered a job. A good friend recommended me for a position that was never advertised. A couple of interviews later, I am back among the employed.

As far as I can tell, there is nothing remarkable about this position. Other jobs that I had applied for were closer fits for my experience, and I had gotten recommendations for similar positions from friends and business acquaintances. At the time, I was interviewing for two other jobs, which was more interest than I had received during the previous 14 months. I don’t think that market conditions had improved, the positions were not related, I hadn’t recently changed my resume or approach, and it didn’t feel like Divine intervention. It was simply my time.

I never thought it would take as long as it did to find a job. Months of networking, internet job board searching, resume matching, applying, calling, emailing, waiting and hoping were dreadful. I was shocked at the lack of respect potential employers had for me as a job seeker, as 90% of my applications were never given the simple courtesy of a response. Employers seemed unconcerned about the quality of their applicants, as almost none even asked for my references let alone checked them out. I have no idea how they evaluate things like work ethic and leadership skills from a resume, often not even written by the applicant but by a professional resume writer. It seemed that aligning with internal Applicant Tracking Systems was much more important.

I also had many positive experiences. Networking put me back in touch with friends and business acquaintances I hadn’t talked with in years. My family and I have never been closer — I spent time with my wife and kids that I will treasure forever. I got to pretend to be a writer for the WSJ. A few fix-it jobs around the house even got done. I learned about myself and take a new and improved attitude into my new job. I believe that I will be more helpful and understanding of others when they are unemployed or facing their own obstacles.

A total creature of habit, I still look at job openings every day. Instead of worrying about my future, I think about others who find themselves in the same place I was two weeks ago. My advice is to stay positive, level out the good times with the bad, protect your personal brand, nurture your professional entourage, and be patient. Your time will come, just as mine has.

Lastly, You Rock, from Seth Godin:

This is deceptive.

You don’t rock all the time. No one does. No one is a rock star, superstar, world-changing artist all the time. In fact, it’s a self-defeating goal. You can’t do it.

No, but you might rock five minutes a day.

Five minutes to write a blog post that changes everything, or five minutes to deliver an act of generosity that changes someone. Five minutes to invent a great new feature, or five minutes to teach a groundbreaking skill in a way that no one ever thought of before. Five minutes to tell the truth (or hear the truth).

Five minutes a day you might do exceptional work, remarkable work, work that matters. Five minutes a day you might defeat the lizard brain long enough to stand up and make a difference.

And five minutes of rocking would be enough, because it would be five minutes more than just about anyone else.
Which of these tips are you going to employ?

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF Examiner.com.

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF Examiner.com, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/jpmcdermott
JP Headshot1


The Top 30 Fastest Growing Careers

March 5, 2010

In the last article, Good news for workers over 50: Demographics are in your favor, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there will be plenty of quality jobs in the next 8 years. This report highlights the top 30 fastest growing careers over that same time period.

Here’s the list:

1. Biomedical engineers
2. Network systems and data communications analysts
3. Home health aides
4. Personal and home care aides
5. Financial examiners
6. Medical scientists, except epidemiologists
7. Physician assistants
8. Skin care specialists
9. Biochemists and biophysicists
10. Athletic trainers
11. Physical therapist aides
12. Dental hygienists
13. Veterinary technologists and technicians
14. Dental assistants
15. Computer software engineers, applications
16. Medical assistants
17. Physical therapist assistants
18. Veterinarians
19. Self-enrichment education teachers
20. Compliance officers
21. Occupational therapist aides
22. Environmental engineers
23. Pharmacy technicians
24. Computer software engineers, systems software
25. Survey researchers
26. Physical therapists
27. Personal financial advisors
28. Environmental engineering technicians
29. Occupational therapist assistants
30. Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors

As you can see, these are not WalMart greeter positions. Most require a bachelor’s degree and some require masters and doctoral degrees. For those looking for their next career chapter, here are the areas where there will be a high demand for these jobs over the next 8 years. College students take note also – while jobs are scarce right now, the demand will come back quickly for these professions.

What are you doing to sharpen your skills and take advantage of the next job recovery?

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF Examiner.com.

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF Examiner.com, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/jpmcdermott
JP Headshot1


An Olympic Bolt from the Past – Seth Godin

March 1, 2010

I mentioned recently how much I enjoy reading Seth Godin’s writing. Here’s another – just as the the Vancouver Winter Olympics have ended, and what a finish for the Men’s hockey team! – he has one of those uncomfortable questions we need to ask ourselves in our jobs, our lives and especially for a new career seeker: Are you a torchbearer? Here’s the post in it’s entirety:

I’ve never been a big fan of the Olympics. To me, most of the pageantry is hackneyed and off-putting — and I’ve never forgiven them for not including Ultimate Frisbee as a sport. Most of all, what’s the deal with curling?

But one part of the Olympics that fascinates me is the torch relay that kicks off the event. Apparently a riff on some legend from ancient Rome (or ancient Greece, I can never remember), the torch relay involves carrying a single flame from one spot to another — preferably a spot that’s pretty far away.

Unlike every other moment of the Olympics, this one focuses all of our attention on a single person, a single detail. No multiple-event, three-ring circus here. It’s one runner, one flame. If the torchbearer falls, it’s a big deal. If she doesn’t make it to the next runner, she lets down everyone ahead of her in line, as well as all of the runners who carried the torch before her.

When people in the workplace confront shift, rift, zooming, and all of the other challenges that make up business life, there is one thread that runs through all of the choices that they make: Either they’re torchbearers, or they’re not.

In 2000, I spent some time working with friends at Flatiron Partners, one of the biggest Internet venture firms on the East Coast. Entrepreneurs think that the selection process used by VCs is a big mystery. They’re dying to know how VC firms decide who gets the big bucks and who gets nothing. The answer is surprisingly simple.

When venture-capital firms look for entrepreneurs on whom to risk their money, they aren’t searching for a great idea, or even great credentials. No, what they’re searching for is this: the certainty that the person who brings them a business idea is going to carry the torch for that idea as long as it takes, that the idea will get passed on, and that the business will make it across the finish line.

The really great startup companies in Silicon Valley, the ones that overcome every obstacle and manage to persist, even when it looks as if they’re going to fail — those companies are run by torchbearers. If there is one thing that separates Silicon Valley from almost any other place I’ve been, it’s not the technology, the traffic jams, or the lack of a decent Italian restaurant — it’s the culture. The place is teeming with torchbearers, with folks who are willing to take responsibility for carrying a flame.
As more and more of us emigrate to Free Agent Nation, a place where more and more people are their own chief executives, the trend toward rewarding torchbearers will only increase. The biggest chasm in our society has become the gap between people who embrace the torchbearer’s responsibility to customers, investors, and companies, and those who are just there for the job.

A lot of folks whom I talk to speak wistfully about what they would do if they were “in charge.” I’ve got news for them: If they’re willing to be in charge, people will put them in charge! In my view, the huge rewards that we’re seeing for people who are brave enough, crazy enough, and talented enough to carry the torch for a new business are entirely justified. Why? Because there aren’t nearly enough torchbearers around.

In 1999, more money was spent to fund new business ventures than in any other year in the history of the world. Yet a huge amount of money sat uninvested, because there was no place to invest it. Are we really out of good ideas? No way. I’ve got a file cabinet filled with them, and you probably know of a few as well. Is there a shortage of engineers who are capable of implementing those ideas? Nope. There are plenty of engineers too.

So, if it’s not a lack of money, ideas, or engineers that is slowing down our shift to the new economy, what is it? Exactly the same thing that’s holding up your company’s transition to a new way of doing business — the absence of someone who is willing to stand up, look everyone in the eye, and say, “I’ll make it happen.”

Here’s how I know that I’m talking to a torchbearer:

First, torchbearers don’t make excuses. Our current economic good times won’t last forever. You won’t always be able to found a company and go public in less time than it takes to have a baby. At some point, the venture-capital funds will dry up. And, when those tough times come, they will present a perfect opportunity for the pretenders to fold their tents. Filled with vitriol and busy looking for a lawyer so that they can sue someone, these entrepreneurial also-rans will find a way to blame their troubles on other people. Real torchbearers run uphill with the same grace and style that they bring to gliding downhill.

Second, torchbearers often attract a crowd. People are fascinated by folks who are willing to carry responsibility. All too often, people add their own burdens to those that their leader must already carry — but, in any case, they’re usually delighted to follow along. And sometimes these folks are loyal and hard-working enough to follow a torchbearer uphill as well as downhill.

Third, most torchbearers don’t realize how unique they are, how powerful their role is, or how hard their task is. Even though they could make outrageous demands and insist on all kinds of special treatment, most of them are happy just to perform their role and to handle their task.

Fourth, torchbearers often care more about forward motion than they do about which route to take. You won’t find them tied up in endless strategy meetings, looking for the perfect solutions. Instead, you’ll find them out on the road, picking their way through boulders and weeds — moving, moving, moving, because they realize that moving is often the best way to get where they’re going.

Fifth, and most important, real torchbearers don’t stop until they finish. In the life of any torchbearer, there’s a balance between devotion to duty and the pursuit of joy. A torchbearer never forgets about or shortchanges a duty, even when that means postponing joy.

In established companies, the refrain that I hear most frequently is “Well, we’d be doing great if [insert person or department, along with pejorative adjective] would just get [his/her/its] act together.” Many previously great companies, both big and small, are having a lot of trouble dealing with all of the changes and rifts that the new economy is bringing to their doorsteps. Why? Because in many companies, the torchbearers have left the building. Either the folks in charge have forgotten what it takes to practice true leadership (after all, they’ve made it, the company has hit its marks, and now it’s “Miller time”), or they’ve left and been replaced by a different kind of management.

The point here isn’t that people in top management are unwilling to embrace change. The point is that the people who are busy pointing fingers and whining about “those guys” are demonstrating that they’re not torchbearers.

If you’re waiting for someone else to lead you to a better way of doing business, then reckon with this Olympic-size news flash: Settle in. It’s going to be a long wait.

All of a sudden, in every company in every country, torchbearers are in high demand. Everybody is trying to figure out where to go. And, much more important, they’re trying as hard as they can to find someone who will take them there: someone who will walk through walls and over hot coals, someone who won’t give up until the job is done.

Intrinsic to being a torchbearer is recognizing that you bear the torch for someone else. In our increasingly “me”-centered society, it’s easy to worry about increasing the value of the Brand Called You, while letting someone else carry your company’s or your investor’s torch. Torchbearers do both.
In a small town in Georgia, a woman named Karen Watson faced such a challenge head-on. Several years ago, her friends and neighbors were complaining about the way that blacks in that town were treated. There was an undercurrent of racism, and, in particular, blacks were being tracked to lower-level classes in school.

For a while, Watson and her neighbors appealed to civil-rights organizations, waiting for some big shot to come to town and save them. Then it dawned on Watson that maybe, just maybe, nobody was ever going to come — and that the person who could make a difference was her.

So she stood up and took charge. She taught herself what she needed to know. She made a commitment. And the organization that she built, the Positive Action Committee, has made a huge difference in her community, generating change in several areas. Watson took responsibility — for her town and for her neighbors’ town. She is a torchbearer.

So could you be a torchbearer? Are torchbearers born or made? Here’s my guess: Many of us have the torchbearer gene, but for some of us, it lies dormant until something awakens it. Some parents raise their children to be torchbearers from birth. Others do whatever they can to persuade their kids to hide it. We’re certainly not organizing our schools or our society to reward children who demonstrate torchbearer qualities.

But I think that you can awaken the torchbearer within. I think that most people, given the right reason, can find the intestinal fortitude to carry a flame across the finish line.

Now, I’m not talking about working hard, or being dedicated, or putting your mission first. Being a torchbearer has nothing to do with how late you work at night, or whether you give your cell-phone number to your boss. No, I’m talking about the people with that rare skill, the ability to dig deep when the need arises — to get past the short-term pain and to pull off an act that few would have believed possible.
In the new economy, people are doing things that have never been done before. Faced with the unprecedented, in an environment that’s unstable, many people say, “It can’t be done.” The torchbearer is the one who does it. Roger Bannister did more than set a record when he ran a mile in less than four minutes. He showed the world that anyone else could do that as well. He broke a time barrier, and he changed the way that everybody trained for a race.

Are you a torchbearer? Probably. The challenge is to find the right project, the right challenge, the right moment — and then to do it. Once you’ve shown that you can do that, the world will beat a path to your door.

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF Examiner.com.

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF Examiner.com, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/jpmcdermott
JP Headshot1


Small Needle, Big Haystack – from Seth Godin

February 27, 2010

I’ve become a big fan of Seth Godin’s blog – mainly because he’s so refreshing and…right.
Here’s a terrific post from his book Small is the New Big that fit’s any job seeker looking to be remarkable.

Needles, haystacks & magnetism

Last month, I posted a bunch of notices looking to hire summer interns (yes, we’re set, thanks). The ads asked people to send in a three page PDF, describing their background, their goals and giving applicants a chance to really stand out and make their case.

This, of course, should be the dream opportunity for most job seekers. Instead of being treated as a piece of paper, a list of stats in a dry resume, here was a chance to actually tell a little about yourself.

HALF the people sent in a resume. Just a resume.

“Here’s my resume” was the total content of at least 20% of the cover notes I got.

Part of this is the result of being beaten down. Most of the system is about following the rules, fitting in and not standing out. But a lot of it, it seems to me, is that people are laboring under a very mistaken impression about what works–in life, in seeking a job and in marketing in general.

Most people, apparently, believe that if they just get their needle sharp enough, it’ll magnetically leap out of the haystack and land wherever it belongs. If they don’t get a great job or make a great sale or land a terrific date, it might just be because they don’t deserve it.

Having met some successful people, I can assure you that they didn’t get that way by deserving it.

What chance is there that your totally average resume, describing a totally average academic and work career is going to get you most jobs? “Hey Bill! Check out this average guy with an average academic background and really exceptionally average work experience! Maybe he’s cheap!!”

Do you hire people that way? Do you choose products that way? If you’re driving a Chevy Cavalier and working for the Social Security Administration, perhaps, but those days are long gone.

People are buying only one thing from you: the way the engagement (hiring you, working with you, dating you, using your product or service, learning from you) makes them feel.

So how do you make people feel?

Could you make them feel better? More? Could you create the emotions that they’re seeking?

As long as we focus on the commodity, on the sharper needle, we’re lost. Why? Because most customers don’t carry a magnet. Because the sharpest needle is rarely the one that gets out of the haystack. Intead, buyers are looking for the Free Prize, for that exceptional attribute that’s worth talking about. I just polled the four interns sitting here with me. Between them, they speak 12 languages. No, that’s not why I hired them. No, we don’t need Tagalog in our daily work…. but it’s a free prize. It’s one of the many things that made them interesting, that made me feel good about hiring them.

What’s your Free Prize?

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF Examiner.com.

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF Examiner.com, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/jpmcdermott
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