Archive for April 2009

Disengaging from Job-Search Crisis Mode

April 21, 2009

Do you know that person? The one consistently in crisis? The one whose voice is always a pitch or two above their normal when explaining their day to day challenges? Someone who is never quite satisfied and always  the victim or simply the sad sack with little hope?

Though we all, as humans,  share a given fact of life — we WILL endure a crisis (or crises) at SOME point in our existence  — it is not necessary to perpetually hang around a crisis, befriend it and make it a way of life.  It is possible, in fact, to convert a crisis into a journey that unfolds into a more beautiful life than we previously knew.

Every week, I encounter job-search clients, some who who appear to be in crisis. Many times, because of the point in time during which they engage me, as well as my pragmatic and creative role in their marketing process, I am not directly touched by their crises — am not the brunt of their emotions. Many, I’ve noted, have risen above their crisis, created and implemented an action plan to re-frame their negativity into positivity and hope and are fueling their own traction, gaining momentum as they reinvent their path.

How did they manage to progress to this better, more positive place? I’ve got a few ideas.

a) Sought out emotional support from friends, family members, partners, spouses. Engaged listeners to hear their story, then vented a bit. As well, allowed others to console them, to cry with them, to laugh at the absurdity of life with them. Gained perspective through holistic emotional therapy.

b) Detached from negativity. Separated themselves from disruptive  influences, personalities and dead weights that may otherwise have dragged them down into a deeper abyss more dire than that in which they began. Chose not to engage in a regularly scheduled whine fest. Sought out “the good.”

c) Made a plan. In the case of my clients, that plan included hiring a partner writer and career strategist to help unearth their unique value and articulate it to a target reader.  Beyond hiring a career consultant, they revamped their personal budget, revisited short- and long-term personal and business goals and stemmed any bleeding so that they could move forward with a semblance of health and calm.

d) Executed the plan. Day by day, step by step, breath by breath.

e) Allowed the plan to morph – to ebb and flow  – to expand and contract. When Plan A wasn’t working, shelved it and moved into Plan B. When Plan B didn’t work, looked on the shelf, and revisited the timing and validity of Plan A. When Plan A and B resulted in zip, took a walk in the country and rested their mind, only to dream up a new plan that took half the time to Plan A or B but netted double the return, or at the least, got them back on a forward-moving path.

f) Stepped away when the overwhelm began mounting. Laughed daily. And if laughter escaped them, chased down a resource for new laughter and lingered in it as long as needed to heal and refresh.

g) Recognized and declared, “I am valuable!” Reinforced this by writing it down – via career documents and online social media profiles. Reinforced this by talking to others, hiring career coaches and resume strategists trained to help them reclaim and crystallize their value, gaining heightened perspective. Custom built their value proposition; then believed what they built.

h) Empowered themselves to make their own decisions about their vision, their plan and how to execute the plan. Listened, respected and responded to the experts and friends from whom they sought advice. Knit together a plan that threaded the best of the advice through their own personality ‘fabric,’ and ultimately tailored their own decisions. Didn’t play the blame game; instead, embraced their options and their own ability to choose. In doing so, found they chose wisely a majority of the time – a winning proposition.

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It’s a bit noisy for job searchers

April 7, 2009

Despite the desire to be coddled on a restful Sunday morning, I was  revved up when I read GL Hoffman’s reference to resume writers in his Weekend Rant blog post. I won’t go into the details of my comments, only to say that I aspired to articulate the difference between a career historian and  resume editor, versus a career writer, strategist, clarifier and fitness coach.

As to a few other points I thought GL expressed ever so well and poignantly, as well as some comments generated by a consortium of careers experts, job searchers and others (Twitterers @dawnbugni, @dianaejennings, @artsmonkey, @conhake and more), I’d say it was a much needed rant on a timely subject.

The bottom line, I think, is that there are many job-search related  issues to be addressed: with HR and employers; with careers consultants; with big job boards; with job searchers themselves.

Diana (who’s in job search mode) commented her weariness from the noise iterated by  life coach and brand specialists. I get that – pragmatic, hit-the-ground running advice that will help gain real traction in her very REAL job search is needed. Those of us spewing advice need to constantly keep in mind our target audience’s bottom-line needs.

GL commented on frustrations with HR paying the big job boards but for what ROI? As well, he asked, is HR looking for  “easy choices versus difficult options?” I know, from my interaction with some very passionate HR professionals and executives how much they care; I also know how many of them are battling with doing more with many fewer resources and their burden to continually prove their ROI. Conversely, I have listened to a few HR pros who espouse their system of job-search screening and the (what seems like hoops) processes required to communicate with them, only to get no response, even after an interview has been held. Like any field, there are the good apples, and bad apples – and even with the good apples, there are bad trees (companies) whose roots infect the overall health of an otherwise good system.

“How do you know which companies to network with?” posed GL. Good point – with the globalization of our careers,  the same-old networking methodologies are not working. And his further declaration that if you have a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse then you HAVE networked, resonated! I’ll admit it, I met my husband online, via one of the large-name dating sites. (Note: I’m NOT a believer that if you aren’t looking, you’ll find your man/woman, etc. And I’m an introvert who gains energy from working solo as well as through select collaborations versus being involved in large group networking situations. Those drain me.)

We ALL network – and our unique ways of doing so are OK – whether we’re extro- or introverts, no matter. Find what works for you and continue doing it. If you’re comfortable, you’ll present yourself better.

Job searchers – please know, we get your pain. Most people in their lifetimes have experienced major loss – or will. Death, the loss of a job, divorce, major illness or debilitation, etc. When I was smashed in the face with divorce eight years ago, I was devastated. Did I say ‘poor me?” Some of the time, yes! I learned to reach out, after years of ‘doing it alone’ and feeling too proud to ‘need’ to bare my needs so openly. I learned that not everyone cared, but some people cared a whole lot. Most people have lives of their own to manage first and foremost (I get that – I have to focus on my homefront first and foremost), but  if I was proactive and maintained positivity, I would attract solutions and people with whom synergies flowed. Indeed, I had to give to get, even if at times I was crying silently, amidst personal pain.

It wasn’t just about me and my tragedy, but how I dealt with it. One time, my mentor and business coach, who’d listened patiently to my woes for several months, stopped me in my tracks, saying “Yes, yes, we all have problems with <insert my problem>, so we’ve got that on the table, now lets move on.” VERY enlightening – she heard me and my pity party once too much and gently, but firmly, nudged me on to proactive thinking.

This is what I suggest to job searchers – your situation is not unlike many in the world undergoing life-changing, DIFFICULT turnaround. The time it will take to change your course may be longer than it has been for job searchers in recent years, but you WILL get there. It seems bigger partly because of the economy’s challenges and the larger number of job seekers out there than a year ago. But it is fix-able. If the noise and frustration level peaks, then turn off some of that noise – or turn down the volume.

Keep seeking and working with what ‘works’ for you! Do NOT despair – do not harbor anger and resentment. Look for and follow the light.

HR and others impacting the course changes – take a few moments in your busy, stressful schedules: I DO GET how many HR folks really do care and wish they had the time to respond effectively and efficiently and to really take great pains to care for the job-searchers soliciting them or responding to their postings.

Job Boards – take heed of the GL Hoffmans out there providing information rich, quality-centric and job searcher-focused services like LinkUp; they ARE changing the job-board landscape.