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Oct 28

Breaking Through Long Term Unemployment

Posted in Career Article, Tips & Tricks, Workforce Issues/Update at 11:52 am

The news is filled with grim reports about long term unemployment. With the length of the average job search getting longer, job seekers are finding it increasingly difficult to get back to work. Yet there is still plenty of hope. Today, the stories of three workers who were long-term unemployed but eventually found work. For each of them, there was a key turning point that made the difference.

 Discovering a Job Search Weakness:  As a mid-level sales rep Carlin wasn’t worried when he was laid off in the economic downturn. He had confidence in his ability to sell himself and felt his skills were versatile enough that he would quickly find something new. Despite his great connections, and the many job leads that came his way, Carlin was frustrated to not be offered a job even after a number of interviews that felt very positive to him. Troubleshooting his job search we realized:

  • His skills were in demand and he was finding job leads
  • His resume effectively communicated his value because he was getting invited to interviews
  • Following interviews, he was often told he was the runner up for the position

Conclusion: Carlin was not interviewing as effectively as he thought. Though he had a lot of faith in his communication abilities, being consistently invited to interview but not getting the job indicated a problem. Carlin focused on improving his interview skills including doing practice interviews, learning to listen more carefully before speaking and correcting body language issues. Uncovering and fixing this trouble spot was Carlin’s turning point and he was soon offered a position.

Lesson learned: Don’t assume you have mastered any given component of job search. Look carefully at your success at each stage and practice and improve in areas that may be stalling your search.

 

 Banishing the Perception of Stale Skills:  Sharon decided not to jump right into job search after she was laid off her job as a project manager. Instead she enjoyed a little time off before deciding to return to work. Unfortunately her 14 month work gap classified her as “long term unemployed” and she was told by a recruiter that her skills were perceived as “dated”. Sharon got little or no response when submitting her resume and quickly realized she had a problem. Though her skills were as sharp as ever, she was perceived as stale. Here is what she did to turn things around:

  • She volunteered to manage a fundraising campaign at her son’s school and documented her success at managing a large team of volunteers and raising and impressive amount of money.
  • She took a course at a local community college to gain new certification in project management. Some of the course was review, given her experience, but she picked up some new techniques and got new certification to add to her resume.
  • She offered to mentor a recent college grad who was just learning the ropes in project management and documented her success and coaching and leading others.

 Conclusion: Sharon added her new productivity and achievements to her resume to cover her employment gap with successes and a certification. In the course of her new activities, she made a number of direct professional connections, including one who led her to the job she ultimately landed.

Lesson learned: Say busy, and productive while looking for work. Demonstrate continued growth, learning and achievements so you don’t have a gap on your resume.

 

 A Change in Focus:  In 15 months of job searching, Sandra estimates she applied to more than 2000 jobs. That got her 12 phone interviews, 3 in person interviews but not a single job offer! Discouraged, she couldn’t figure out what she was doing wrong. She worked hard to locate and apply for jobs found on job boards, industry bulletin boards, print sources, and Craig’s list. She was determined not to be overly selective in what she applied for and, as the months went by, she resolved to apply for anything remotely related to her work experience as a network administrator. Despite her hard work, Sandra had no job. Her job search was missing a key component: Networking!

  • She was sending out applications blind with no connection or insider edge.
  • She was focusing her time exclusively on locating and applying for open positions.
  • She was measuring her productivity based on number of applications sent out.

 Conclusion: The turning point for Sandra was when she began to focus on networking instead of advertized jobs. Measuring her success based on contacts made, instead of jobs applied for was new for her and she initially struggled with this new way of gauging productivity. But soon she began to receive tips about hidden job opportunities and when she applied for jobs, she had contacts who could introduce her to the company and help advance her candidacy. Her rate of interviews went up even though she was applying to fewer jobs. Two months after her turning point, she was hired and back on the job.

Lesson learned: Focus on networking! Don’t count how many jobs you apply for. Instead, work to make connections that will help you find the right one.

 

 If you are part of the “long term unemployed” or supporting someone who is, there is a turning point that will change your job search and put you on the path to employment. Don’t give up hope. Instead focus on examining each aspect of your job search for weak spots and blind spots, leading you to your turning point.

Oct 28

9 Ways to Bounce Back After Losing Your Job

Posted in Career Article, Tips & Tricks at 11:43 am

Rebuilding your confidence after a job loss can be difficult. It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself, which can cause you to doubt your ability to land a new position. If that happens, make bouncing back your top priority.

 Here are nine ways to regain confidence after a job loss:

 1. Develop a routine:  Not having control of your job search can have a negative effect on your self-esteem. Instead of wallowing, treat the job search process like a full-time job and be thorough and deliberate in your search. “Develop a routine each day to regain control,” says Jayne Mattson, senior vice president of Keystone Associates, a New England-based career management firm. “There are so many activities of a search that will keep you busy and that you have control over, so use your time wisely.”

 2. Find a supportive network:  Being surrounded by supportive circle can help rebuild your confidence, Mattson says. “The people who believe in you really do want you to find the right fit and they will be your best advocates to others,” she says. Anyone from former colleagues or acquaintances to family members can help boost your self-esteem after a layoff.

 3. Help others:  Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, use your new free time to help others. Establishing new connections and applying your skills to other areas like volunteering or taking on leadership positions in your community can help you to bounce back, Mattson says. “It will keep your skills sharp, make you feel better, but will also give you something to talk about when meeting others,” she says.

 4. Use positive affirmation:  While getting support from others is key, it’s also important that you believe in your own skills. Use each day to verbalize a positive affirmation and remind yourself that you possess valuable skills, Mattson says. “Self-talk becomes an important part of rebuilding self confidence,” she says.

 5. Take time to do something you love:  “Filling part of every day with something you love to do will keep your engines going longer,” Mattson says. It can be as simple as reading a book or listening to your favorite song, but make sure it’s a part of your day that you can look forward to.

 6. Exercise:  Exercise is a natural endorphin booster, so you’re bound to be in a much better mood post-workout. If paying for a gym membership is prohibitive, keep costs low by jogging outdoors and doing an at-home yoga routine. Since you’re no longer tied to your desk for hours each day, use the new flexibility to get back into shape and feel better about yourself.

 7. Allow time to heal:  Especially in a tough economy — when job interviews are harder to come by — it can take time to regain confidence and no one expects you to recover right away. “Don’t beat yourself up,” Mattson says. “Recognize that you will have good and bad days.” Going through a job loss is never easy, and there’s nothing wrong with allowing some time to heal.

8. Meet other job seekers:  Knowing that you’re not alone can go a long way in helping boost your mood. Seek out networking events in your industry or attend job search lectures to get out and mingle with other job seekers. With less interaction in your day-to-day life, meeting others can play a big part in boosting morale.

 9. Be ready for a tough road ahead:  Being prepared for the less-than transparent interview process can go a long way in protecting you from further disappointments and plunges in confidence. With high unemployment rates, being out of work has become standard for many professionals and isn’t a reflection on your abilities.

Oct 28

3 Ways to Safeguard Against Ageism on Your Resume

Posted in Career Article, Tips & Tricks at 11:25 am

Often, jobseekers are so eager to establish industry expertise within their resumes that they neglect to consider potential ageism issues. It’s not a pretty subject, but the truth is ageism DOES exist in today’s marketplace, and if your resume contains one of the “red flags” recruiters and hiring agents look for, such as a work history stretching back 20+ years or highlighting outdated skills, you might be inadvertently opening yourself up to rejection. Here are 3 expert tips to safeguard against this:

 1) Create an Opening Paragraph that Highlights What Employers Are Looking For

The days of beginning a resume with an “Objective” line stating personal goals are pretty much over. Instead, think in terms of giving an employer exactly what they’re looking for. Analyze relevant job postings to pick out 3-4 in-demand skills (which you possess) and highlight them. Include professional certifications and memberships. Additionally, if you’re currently taking an advanced training course in your field, mention it! This approach shows that you’re up-to-date on what the industry’s looking for and willing to adapt to succeed in a new position.

 2) Emphasize Positions Held Within the Past 10-12 Years in Your Work History

Recruiters and hiring agents primarily focus on the past 10-12 years of a candidate’s work history. Make their job easier through emphasizing these positions, separating each job into a brief paragraph listing unique responsibilities followed by a “Key Accomplishments” section listing concrete successes. Older positions can be placed within an “Additional Experience” section with 1-2 highlights per job, no dates.

 3) Utilize a Current and Visually Appealing Format

Nothing screams “old jobseeker” quite like a resume that looks like it was composed on a typewriter. In today’s job search marketplace where readers typically spend less than a minute on a first pass of a candidate’s resume, VISUALS MATTER. Avoid using creaky MS Word templates and create a simple, visually appealing format that supports the text. If you’re having problems, don’t hesitate to consult with a professional resume writer. The time you invest in creating current and effective job search documents will pay off exponentially in the form of a shortened job search.