The job of jobhunting (4)

September 9, 2014

The fourth element of the jobhunter’s day is one which can draw on the activities of the three previously-discussed realms.  I refer to your social activities.

Social needs no definition.  It is that people stuff.  Networking.  You are supposed to do it, many of you love it, most of you fight it.

This is the realm of truth-in-cliche: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

You can become better connected, starting today.  Improving your people quotient really must be part of every job seeker’s day.

Go where the interesting people are.  That might be in a class, at a coffee shop, at a clean-up-the-park day, at the gym.  Or at the pool or your back alley.  Meet someone new or reconnect with someone you haven’t seen in some time.  Just once a day.  

Actually, social activities can permeate the entire day of the successful job seeker.  As you are reading up on happenings in your field, you could be reminded of someone you know who would like to read this article.  Contact that person now!

As you are filling out a job application, you might think of that casual acquaintance who works at that firm.  You could contact him or her and ask a question.

There is little room for depression or inactivity in the life of a job seeker.  You’re so busy preparing for the new opportunity (yet to be determined, I know), that after all that conventional activity, the academic research, the creative projects and the socializing, that you will realize that you have taken steps on the structured path toward tomorrow.  Your knowledge, your availability, your involvement and your network will support you and make you a keen candidate for that next opportunity.

Here’s a final thought from Harper Lee:

If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.

So how are you spending today?






The job of jobhunting (3) – what’s new?

September 2, 2014

I’ve been thinking about how a jobhunter can spend the day being effective and positive.  I’ve previously written about being conventional and academic, meaning doing obvious things like posting on job boards, responding to ads, and keeping up one’s skills and knowledge.

So what else is needed?

Creativity now comes into play – every single day.  I suspect that this part of the job search is the primary reason people seek career counseling.  Without it, you will get what you have always had, and you probably don’t want that.

Creativity means – following impulsive thoughts, paying attention to your dreams, reading something different, doing something really unusual in your community, acknowledging your intuition.  Here’s where you allow those scary thoughts about what you’ve always wanted to do.

Do you see the connection between what you seek professionally and random ideas?  Probably not, but – please trust me – a connection may come to you.

Here’s an example of the randomness (and effectiveness) of creative thinking:

Yesterday I listened to a story by a friend.  She goes to an exercise program for women, and there she heard a story about an acquaintance (age late 50s) who recently lost her job and was facing a long, difficult search.  The next day my friend heard another tale of woe from someone in a private school who needed to hire a new (……… – it doesn’t really matter).  Lightbulb flash!  Same field, two different stories, two workouts at the gym.  If my friend had not gone to work out that day, if those two acquaintances had not also gone to the gym … the magic would not have happened.

Yes!  My friend, a wonderful networker, connected the dots, put one person in touch with the other, and magic happened.  The job seeker went to the school, applied for the job, and was promptly hired.

Moral of the story:  Go where the people are.  Share your creativity.  Don’t confront anyone with your need, but rather share it.  Most of all, get out of the house, get out of the doldrums, and let creativity lead you into unexpected connections.

The job of jobhunting (2)

August 30, 2014

How do you spend your time when you are unemployed?  In a previous post,  I reviewed the conventional techniques (job listings, online bulletin boards, classified ads, a resume honed to perfection) that should occupy a portion of your day.

What about the academic tasks that can nudge you on your way to a more successful outcome than you have had before?

Please don’t make that immediate link between academic and going back to school.  I’m all for keeping your education current.  Finishing (or starting) that degree is great, but not a guaranteed ticket to success.

I’m thinking of academic in the sense of reading/studying/learning more about your chosen path.  Here are a few options:

  • websites of companies or associations you are drawn to,
  • YouTube segments of presentations by leaders you admire,
  • newspaper or journal articles,
  • books written by superstars in your field,
  • TV specials or documentaries about your area of interest.

Does academic suggest that you take notes?  I hope so!  You will need to remember a few impressive points you gleaned from your research. You could dedicate a special notebook or a file on your laptop to this targeted note-taking.

You will need these fresh ideas and facts to make sure your resume is relevant to the positions you seek.  And you will have wonderful nuggets to share in interviews.  Let your conversations reflect your learning.

An hour a day on academics will keep you informed and inspired as you go about your job search.  I invite any reader who has gained knowledge through research to share a suggestion or two about keeping up to date.


The Job of Jobhunting

August 29, 2014

If you are looking for work, what does your current workday look like?  How do you spend your time?

I want to suggest something I’ve learned after listening to hundreds of people who were searching.

Think about a combination of conventional, academiccreative, and social approaches.


What is the conventional element of the job search?

It is what you already know.  Job listings, employment services, headhunters, classified ads.  These conventional techniques have worked for a long time and they will continue to be effective.  Most people will acknowledge that they have gotten at least one job this way.  I know I have.  Find an ad that sort-of-kind-of matches your experience, submit a resume, and wait for a phone call. Sometimes it works.  So please continue to put some time into conventional job search techniques.  I’d suggest an hour or two a day at the most.

But wait!  It doesn’t always work, and it doesn’t always produce a great work opportunity for you.  I’ll be exploring other elements of the job search in the next few postings, so stay tuned.

Perspective on Pain

August 12, 2014

Who knew that a beloved actor and comedian was living with so much pain that he couldn’t take it any more?

Those in the inner circle of Robin Williams knew, cared, worried, and tried to help.

But the outer circle – that’s us, his fans and admirers – did not know beyond tabloid gossip.  We just wanted more of his gifts.


Is there a lesson for the rest of us?  I think of two things that can begin to make a tiny dent in the tragedy of Robin Williams:

  1. Draw closer to the suffering of people in mental pain.  They can be your colleagues, relatives, classmates, or neighbors. It’s the right thing to do, and you can do it to honor Williams.
  2. Never EVER take tomorrow for granted. A brilliant life ended at only 63 years.


Do you ever hear stats about recovery from depression?  Would these numbers offer hope for sufferers?  If not, where are the rainbow ribbons to wear to support mental health research?

About that federal job …

August 4, 2014

I just discovered a wonderful resource for those of you who are seeking federal employment.  You already know it is a daunting task.  So you will welcome yet another source of information and inspiration.

Do you know Karol Taylor and her work?  Karol is one of the nation’s experts in this subject, having worked in career development from within a government agency for many years.  Now, in what we laughingly call retirement, she has published two books (Guide to America’s Federal Jobs and Find Your Federal Job Fit, both published by Jist) , teaches, coaches, and speaks on the topic.  She writes and tells it like it is.

She is also a blogger, sharing her subject in bite-sized chunks.  Job seekers, you should follow this:  You won’t be sorry.

Start by checking out the distinction between being eligible for the job and being qualified.  Who knew?

What have you been doing this summer?

July 29, 2014

The question is not just for kids.

It’s not only a written exercise for the first day of school.

It’s for you – for your upcoming job interview.

Reading, volunteering on stream clean-up in your neighborhood, making sandwiches for the shelter.  Canning peaches.  Brushing up on your Spanish.

Looking for a job.

How do you phrase it?

Not –  I’ve been on a number of job interviews.

Rather – I’ve been speaking with some fascinating people about work possibilities, and I’ve learned a lot along the way.  

Then, of course, you’ll have to be ready to share what you have learned.

Now let’s try it – What have you been doing this summer?

The job search must go on …

July 24, 2014

Job hunters – how on earth do you do it?

Planes are being shot down or just plain disappearing.  War, terrorist threats, and nasty politics are all around.  Fresh summer fruits are being recalled and discarded because of a threat of listeria.

And you are asked to get dressed professionally, go forth, and sell yourself, while tv news, the morning paper, and your favorite news websites, are screaming unending disaster.

I wonder if any job seeker is being asked questions about coping in the summer of 2014. Such questions might sound like this:

  • Thank you for coming in this morning.  Did you hear the latest news?
  • Did you hear about the food recall in our major supermarkets?
  • You didn’t have any overseas travel plans this summer, did you?

If this happens to you, how will you respond?   I know what I hope I would say.

It is hard not to be overwhelmed with the troubles of today.  But I try to focus on what I can do, and that includes sharing my skills and experience.

I am indebted to (experienced writer and new blogger) Paul Roberts Abernathy for an excellent take on the need to summon forth optimism in these troubled times.  If you would like a shot of perspective that is expressed far better than I can say, I suggest you follow the link.  Thanks, Paul, and welcome to wordpress blogdom.

New Interview Question – Be Ready!

July 1, 2014

Someone I know had a job interview recently, and he felt confident and prepared.  He prepared for all kinds of questions, focusing on his skills and experience.

When I asked if there had been any unexpected questions – well, yes, there had been.

Have you ever been treated badly as a customer?

He responded with a story about slow service in a retail establishment.   He connected his brief story with a message about how hard he works to address customer needs.  Sounds good to me.

It seems to me that the only way you could blow this question is if you went blank and said it had never happened (no one would believe you!).  Or if you got involved in a rambling narrative, blaming everyone in sight.

As with most interview questions, answer it briefly and thoughtfully, and bring it back to the job requirements.

Another Graduation Gift

June 10, 2014

Someone asked me recently what skills or knowledge might be the most useful for today’s graduate.  And I’ve been thinking, starting with what do I wish I had known?  Here is my reflection for you new grads.

Grade point average?  Interesting for a while, but then you grow up.

Volunteer activity?  Sure, it says something good about you, but is it related to the job?

Hard work?  Yes! I hope your interview stories are filled with challenges you have overcome.

Examples might sound like this:

I started my beginning Spanish class with a bad attitude.  I have been told that no one in our family can do languages.  But I liked the teacher and I agreed with the goal of being a better world citizen.  So I bought a Spanish  CD and started listening. Yes, it was hard.  Yes, I probably sounded foolish.  I made friends with a girl from Central America who was learning English.  We agreed to have lunch together and just name things we were eating.  And it helped!  I’ll never be a world-class language specialist, but now I know what it takes to learn something new.  It starts with shedding a bad attitude.  It continues with being resourceful.  And it ends with success.  That B in Spanish is something I really earned, and I will get better.  I’m not stopping.

I wanted to take an advanced art history class because I had heard great things about the professor.  But first, there was this pesky requirement of a basic art class.  And yes, you occasionally had to draw something.  I can’t draw!  Really!  I took the course, and as predicted, got a really low grade on the first assignment (drawing a tree on campus).  Kindergarteners could have done better than I did.  So I made an appointment, went to see the teacher, and told him that my drawing did not look like it, but I had really, really worked.  I just didn’t know how to do better.  I told him why I was taking the class, that I would do well in every aspect except the sketchy stuff.  He smiled and listened.  He told me to focus on some little aspect and capture a few details.  I really did not think much had been accomplished, but my grades got better. I’m still not an artist, but what I learned was to ask for help.  People are glad to offer a suggestion, and they do take note of your effort.  

And here is one further suggestion:  If you are declaring yourself a hard worker, how about mentioning something that is ongoing?

Although my classes have ended, I am committed to maintaining and enhancing my computer skills.  I recently found a free online course in Microsoft Office, which will keep my skills current and competitive. (Try checking out the free offering at

Wow! While your classmates are lounging at the beach in recovery mode, you have been upgrading your skills!

Hard work triumphs over privilege, opportunity, or special talent in success on many jobs.  So graduates, as you prepare for your job search, think about your challenges and how you continue to address them to achieve a measure of success.