Archive for December, 2008

Resolved: Effective Techniques for Job-Hunters in 2009

December 30, 2008

Are you waking up this New Year’s without a job? It is time to awaken also to the realization that 2009 can be the year to bring new energy to your job search.

Let me suggest a half-dozen resolutions for you:

1. Resolve to network more effectively. This is more important than anything else I can name. If you quake at the thought of making cold calls, relax. Networking is much more than that. Read Make Your Contacts Count by Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon. This book contains manageable examples of ways to network… how to explain what you do (or would like to do), how to arrange a follow-up meeting with an interesting person, how to say thank you to people who have helped you along the way.

2. Resolve to be positive. Boy, this one is tough. There is enough negativity around, and it’s contagious. Don’t be someone to avoid. Work on points like:

  • I was looking for a change in focus anyway when this reorganization came along.
  • I look forward to working more creatively in a small organization such as this one,

3. Resolve to develop work samples. For many people, this is a portfolio of writing samples (a research paper from school, a clipping of a letter to the editor, a print-out of a web article you did, or a reader review of a book, toy, or movie). For others it might be an album of your event photography or a few brochures you have designed. It might be a collection of thank-you letters from the people on a team you coached last summer. It might be a customer service award from a previous job.

4. Resolve to acquire a new skill or credential. Become certified as a human resources professional. Receive a credential in substance abuse counseling. Earn a certificate in project management or graphic design. Complete your GED. Get your AA degree. Tackle that doctoral dissertation. Your application/resume will be current and more appealing.

5. Resolve to restore balance in your life. This supports resolution #2, about being positive. When all parts of one;s life are in balance, you cannot feel like a total failure. Your body can be in tune, your home can be in order, you can improve your culinary skills, you can get your car tuned up, you can balance your checkbook and do your taxes. Success! Accomplishments in one area can give you confidence in other areas. Try it.

6. Resolve to put your spiritual house in order. Whether you adhere to humanistic ethical standards or belong to an established religious community, there is guidance for your job search. Gratitude is waiting to be expressed. Regret is waiting to be acknowledged. Growth is not only possible, but part of one’s spiritual journey.

I hope at least one of these resolutions is helpful to you. If you would like to speak with a career counselor about energizing your job search, feel free to visit my website at www.anneheadley.com for contact information. I’d love to hear from you. I wish you a happy new year, with much career success in 2009.

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Resolved: Creative Management for Employers in 2009

December 29, 2008

As the days of 2008 fade away, employers are  constantly being asked to do more with less. They may feel so stressed that they lose touch with their commitment to the Golden Rule. So here are a few resolutions for employers to keep in mind:

1. Resolve to communicate clearly and completely with your people. That includes information, rumors (labeled as such), and your own concerns and uncertainty.

2. Resolve to use your employees’ gifts to the fullest. These may include attributes not exactly included in their position descriptions, by the way. You never know what gifts reside in the person sitting next to you. And you won’t know unless you ask.

3. Resolve to consider your own people for in-house promotions. It is excellent for morale and loyalty.

4. Resolve to give effective feedback. It is not enough to murmur “great job” periodically. Learn what effective means. (Hint: specific, short, measurable, attainable for starts.) If you need to know more, you can consult any Ken Blanchard or Patrick Lencioni book.

5. Resolve to care about your employees’ lives, families, hobbies, ambitions, or other interests. If you know that someone is pursuing a college degree on week-ends, ask about it from time to time. Offer assistance in some form. Give recognition to family milestones.

6. Resolve to conduct lay-offs with gentleness and empathy. Because the news is so stunning and frightening, the kind things that you are saying may not be absorbed in the moment. So offer a follow-up meeting within a day or so to clarify what is going to happen next. Remember to include what kind of positive reference you will provide, along with any financial package you are offering.

If you would like to speak with an experienced career counselor about enhancing your skills as an employer, please visit my website at www.anneheadley.com for contact information.

Happy New Year!

Resolved: Improved Customer Service in 2009

December 27, 2008

Happy New Year! For those who are currently gainfully employed, congratulations, and may you keep that job in 2009. May your company flourish and grow.

It is time to look at a half-dozen new year’s resolutions that can help you keep your job and your organization keep its doors open:

1. Resolve to appreciate the fact that your customer has come to you. There are many choices out there.

2. Resolve to be friendly, using a voice that conveys warmth and interest.

3. Resolve to be a problem solver. If thrown a challenge, you will accept it and seek information and/or help in responding.

4. Resolve to treat your co-workers as the customers that they are, and extend the same courtesies and friendliness to them as you do to the walk-in.

5. Resolve to keep your life in balance, so that you arrive at each work shift refreshed and ready to do your best.

6. Resolve to thank each customer who comes your way, whether it’s a stranger, a colleague, or someone who reads your blog.

Thank you, readers, for giving me a minute or so of your time and attention. Thank you for sending notes, posting comments, and alerting me to resources that I should know about.

I will be posting some suggested New Year’s Resolutions in the next few days for employers and also for job hunters. Feel free to share your own thoughts on the coming year, with its complexities, challenges, and opportunities.

The Courage of the Job Hunter

December 18, 2008

The old Christmas carol refers to these dark days as “the bleak mid-winter”. And try as we might to deny the short, cold days and long nights by filling  them in lights, candles, wreaths and eggnog, it is hard for the job hunter. I’m talking about people who are unemployed as well as those who feel it coming through rumors or outright brutal information. I’m also talking about people who are unhappy in their employment situations. If times were better, they would be looking for a new job. If the unemployment numbers weren’t increasing almost daily, they would be more confident in their networking and researching of options.

Work goes on. Very few work sites will disappear totally, although belt-tightening is happening in most places. It may be the bleak mid-winter, but you are still a person with skills and experience. You are a gifted person who wishes you were using your gifts to better advantage. You are still the person who wishes to make a contribution to the world.

Here’s a thought. Stay in touch with your confident self. During this month, do something remarkable that gets your name out there. Publish a helpful book or movie review. Volunteer in a shelter. Write a letter to the editor. Shovel snow or brew soup for a shut-in neighbor.

Maybe your name will be in print. Maybe you’ll just get talked about in a positive way. And you’ve already reached one of your career goals of making the world a better place.

And you accomplished this during the shortest days of the year!

Party on, Job Hunters!

December 5, 2008

Feeling gloomy and discouraged? Feel like hiding because your situation is embarrassing? Thinking of skipping the neighborhood caroling party or the New Year’s Eve party at your in-laws?

Think again. People will be there. People who work, who know other people, and who have heard of openings you might find interesting.

Don’t drag yourself in there. Frankly, no one wants to deal with your dejected, depressed, hopeless-feeling self. But those in your life who love you and care about you will be delighted to see you working hard at being fun. You’ll be dressed in a festive manner (you can skip the antlers), smiling, and sounding optimistic about the new year and its promises.

Of course, you’ll have business cards in your pocket. You’ll have a pen at hand for reminders or new phone numbers.

You’ll eat and drink in moderation, aware that someone significant to your job search might be watching and assessing you as a candidate for a position.

If you see someone else who is unemployed, you will offer support and encouragement, never creating or participating in a pity party, which is embarrassing to all who witness it.

You can mean it when you wish others a Happy Holiday or a Merry Christmas. You can wish everyone in sight a Wonderful New Year.

Is this hard? Yes, emphatically it is. It’s challenging to find the middle ground – not showing your depressed self, not faking holiday cheer so much that it alarms people. Rather, go to festivities in an optimistic, confident mindset. That’s the person that others want to chat with, listen to, and maybe even open a door to an opportunity.

Okay, practice with me now:

  • Thank you for inviting me!
  • Happy Hanukah!
  • Merry Christmas!
  • Happy Holiday!
  • Happy New Year!

The recession and your career: survival tools

December 2, 2008

It is official: because of some statistics, we can now state that we are in a recession and have been so for some months. You and I already knew that. Anyone who watches the news, reads the newspaper, has conversations with neighbors, or makes plans in the workplace knows that.

Now that we have moved from maybe to actually, it is time to look at career survival.

If you have a job, now is the time to:

  • acquire a new skill or two,
  • be a problem-solver,
  • present impeccable behavior,
  • excel at customer service,
  • remain optimistic.

If you are unemployed, now is the time to:

  • revisit your resume and add examples of problem solving and customer service,
  • make every day count in your search activities,
  • volunteer in the community in a related field (keeping skills and work history up to date),
  • form an informal alliance with another seeker or two for mutual encouragement and goal-setting,
  • drop by the library and read an article in a current publication in your field,
  • remain optimistic.

Also, remember that this uncomfortable period we are in will someday be in the past. How will you remember it? With a shudder? With a smile, because something great came of it?

Could you use some support? If you would like to meet with a career counselor to structure your job search, please visit my website at www.anneheadley.com for contact information.