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

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Weekly Roundup of Top 3 Search Tips

November 20, 2009

It’s Friday and time for the the top 3 job search tips I’ve found from the scores of blog posts I see and pass along. Also, I will be looking for your votes on which is your favorite. Feel free to forward this link to your friends in transition.

1. My first choice is related to a recent one I wrote on Know What You Want. Here Nance Rosen takes the next step (and the hard work) to putting into words what it is we want. Here’s an excerpt:

If You Can Say It, You Can Live It

* By: Nance Rosen on November 17th, 2009 at 5:15 am
* In Networking, People, Personal Branding, Success Strategies | 3 Comments

If you can’t tell people what you do, then you won’t be doing it much longer. If you can’t articulate what you want to do, then you won’t ever be doing it. But, if you can – well, I found out you are one in about 150 people who can complete this sentence:

I am: ______________________ .
On Sunday I spoke to an audience at an event sponsored by the LA Urban Beauty Connection, supporting two philanthropies and drawing a cool, professional crowd that came out to hear experts present on the latest trends in fashion, technology and business. My topic was The Real Secret to Success in Careers and Business, How to Stay Up in a Down Economy. Of course, I was there to talk about personal branding.
Personal branding foundational work.

Typically, I stand on a stage and talk at people (it’s more exciting than that, but basically I’m the show until Q&A or the workshop portion of my personal branding presentations). But, this forum was much more “theater in the round.” I was given the opportunity to do interactive, live coaching for people who had considered but never really hunkered down to do the foundational work of personal branding.

So, I opened with my signature line: “Everyday you have the opportunity to say the one thing that will change your life. I guarantee by the time we’re done today, you’ll know what to say, and where and when to say it.”

Five statement in the personal branding process

What a great way to spend a Sunday, I thought. It was like magnifying the coaching that I do with one person, but having all these people learn from process. I started as planned, by picking one person, but when she seemed a little lost, I move to another. I wound up challenging five people in the audience to complete these 5 statements that are requisite for the personal branding process:

1. I am:
2. I excel at:
3. I do this via these methods/approaches/tactics:
4. Here’s an example:
5. Here’s what I’d like to do more of:

Obviously, I want the answers you’d give in a business setting, or at least an environment that would make an impression on people attending an event like the one we were at. This is a networking opportunity. This is when you’re going to meet strangers; people whom you suspect are candidates for developing valuable relationships. If you do nothing else: you’ve got to have a crisp, clear and compelling way of communicating what you do, how you do it, and what you’d like to do more of (or what you like to do that is a departure from what you’ve got going on now).
Read here for the rest of the article.

2. Next Up – From WSJ’s Laid Off and Looking Blog, an interesting alternative to the search titled:
Postponing the Full-Time Search for a Contract Assignment

By Geoff Hibner

Geoff Hibner lost his job in 2007 after working as the CFO of Banta Corp. The entire executive team was let go when the company was sold. Previously, he was an independent consultant as well as a senior vice president and CFO at The Timberland Co. Mr. Hibner earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1977. He lives with his wife in Neenah, Wis. and has two adult children.

Geoff HibnerIt’s been a number of weeks since I last posted to this blog. I’ve been really busy. Not busy making contacts, that could lead to my next full-time job; instead, I’ve been really busy working as a consultant.

In several of my earlier postings I mentioned making a contact while interviewing for a certain CFO position. Although that introduction was too late for me to be considered for the CFO position, it did lead to the CEO of that company deciding he wanted to meet me to discuss other possibilities. To make a long and complicated story shorter, a series of discussions led to a full-time corporate strategy and financing consulting assignment that began in late August.

The assignment is extremely interesting. I work with solid and dedicated people, and the compensation is good. But, I’m away from home from Monday morning until Friday night, working 55 to 60 hours a week (I’m paid by the week, not the hour), and have little time for activities which might lead to another full-time position.

I’m certainly not complaining. I made the decision to take on this assignment knowing that it would affect my job search activities. I didn’t expect to work quite so many hours per week, but it can’t be helped when there are deadlines to be met.

This assignment could stretch out for several more months, or it could end within the next few weeks. There could be other projects when this one is completed. Even if the opportunity exists to remain in a consulting role for months to come, I’ll really need to decide soon if continuing as I have been is in my longer-term best interests. Some readers will say that to have a full-time position, even as a consultant, in these tough economic times is to be in a great position and that I should continue to devote all my energy to creating value for the company so that there will be follow-on projects. Other readers will observe that consulting positions are often the first to go if a company decides it must cut expenses; even if the position has been created to address a very specific, time-sensitive issue (as mine was), and they’ll insist that I need to somehow find the time to continue my job search. Both will be valid comments and I’ll need to decide sometime soon which way to lean.

Readers, are you postponing your full-time search to keep up with a less-stable contract position? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

3. My last choice today is from Meg Giuseppi and reports on some things you probably already knew but now have statistics on the generation born between 1946 and 1960…

Boomer Career Trends: The Graying of America’s Work Force

By Meg Guiseppi | November 20, 2009

We’ve all been hearing lately that boomers are staying in the workforce longer because their retirement accounts took such a hit recently, and that we can expect the trend to continue well after the economy recovers.

According to one government estimate, 93% of the growth in the U.S. labor force from 2006 to 2016 will be among 55 and older workers.

But you may be surprised to know that the majority of those over 55 stay at work beyond retirement age because they want to stay active into their later years, not because they need the money.

According to a September 2009 nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project:

“A majority (54%) of workers ages 65 and older say the main reason they work is that they want to. Just 17% say the main reason is that they need the paycheck. An additional 27% say they’re motivated by a mix of desire and need.”

The reasons older workers gave included:

* “to feel useful”
* “to give myself something to do”
* “to be with other people”

Conversely, younger adults are staying out of the workforce longer.

Of Americans aged 16 to 24, 57% are in the labor force today, compared to 66% in 2000.

Two factors impacting the youngest working group:

* Instead of diving into full time jobs, they’re getting a college education under their belts to get ahead, and
* Discouraged by dwindling opportunities in this economy, they’re dropping out of the job market entirely.

The Pew report is based on analysis of long-term trends in survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Pew Research’s own survey of a representative national sample of 1,815 people ages 16 and older conducted from July 20 to Aug. 2, 2009.

Other key findings:

* Security trumps salary.
* Despite tough times, job satisfaction remains high.
* Older workers are the happiest workers.
* Retirement is not always voluntary.
* Even so, retirement gets high marks.
* The public is skeptical about full-time working moms.
* Most working moms would rather have a part-time job.

You can grab the full report here: Recession Turns a Graying Office Grayer.

JP Headshot1JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. He is also a career and financial coach, has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations, most recently helping those in transition. His philosophy is to help others be more successful and to enjoy the benefits of meeting new people.

JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

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