Thursday, January 31, 2013

Flipping The Communication Switch

Communication can be defined as an exchange of information. That's nice, general and easy to understand. I don't like it, at least when it comes to job search. It's too blurry and non-specific. No need to flip any switches, just exchange information. Yuk.

A better definition for the job seeker is: an act or instance of transferring. An act. Doing. Perhaps even pro-active doing. Yes, this is much better.

Effective job seeker communication is more than changing clothes and being polite. Something internal needs to happen. A re-calibration of sorts must take place affecting the usual way of doing things.

What's this mean for you? That your typical way of communicating needs replacing by a method that is targeted and objective based.

Natural experts at communication know this stuff instinctively. These are people with really effective people skills. They are able to influence and motivate. People pay attention to what they say and do because of their ability to transfer information effortlessly.

Not everyone comes out of the blocks with these skills. Those without have to find other ways to shine, such as technical ability, organizational skills, reliability, etc. Once on the job they may do exceptionally well but getting there can be a challenge. Consider that the very skills that don't come naturally are in effect used against them by those that can breeze through introductions and interviews simply because they have always possessed a full communication toolbox.

Adding these tools doesn't come easy. Change is difficult and real change takes time. Given the hard-wired nature of our personalities, adaption or outright acting may be the most effective options. Okay, so how is it done?

It begins with realization. You need to know that communication, especially interpersonal communication, isn't your strong suit. Once there, look to your job search objective for guidance. Ask yourself if you look the part you wish to play? After all, a large part of communication is non-verbal. What about your speech? Is it consistent with the role you are auditioning for?  Seriously, wouldn't you expect this if you were approached by someone looking to work in your organization?

If acting the part isn't working, take a long hard look at your objective. Is it right for you? If not, head back to the drawing board. If it is, find ways to polish your delivery. Do this by practice. Seek professional help and coaching if available.

You don't need to be a people-skills dynamo to succeed but your communication (all-in) must align with your job search objective otherwise you will appear "off." Aligning doesn't come by magic, you need to work at it by learning to act the part.

Keep things simple, streamlined and to the point. Remind yourself frequently of what it is you are out to accomplish. Be methodical. Stay inside the lines with your delivery. Be patient and let it come about. Repeated doing leads to new behavior over-writing old behavior.

Somewhere deep a switch will turn on and change will occur. This could be a massive switch. But don't look for or expect it. Just get on with things and let it happen.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Using Craigslist, Down & Dirty

First of all, if you don't have a solid Job Search Objective, don't go on Craigslist. Start first by developing your objective so it can lead the way to disciplined use of job posting sites of any type. The alternative is wasted time and energy looking at things that have absolutely nothing to do with what you are trying to accomplish.

During your first visit determine which job category best aligns with your objective. You may find more than one but be picky, limiting the number to no more than two or three. The overarching goal here is efficiency - the ability to quickly pop in and check the lists that best suite your needs before popping back out, without wandering all over the site.

A more specific goal is to find the low hanging fruit. These are job postings that match perfectly with your objective. Here's where it pays to be picky and discriminating. Look first for the ads that are obviously right up your alley. If there aren't any, you have a choice - move on or look for close-but-not-quite postings.

If you decide to move on, which is to say STOP right there, you'll probably be making the right choice. If you do hang around, do it consciously employing a dash of Genghis Khan - be brutal and brief - otherwise you can spend considerable time mired down applying for jobs that others are better positioned to get. Yes, there's always a chance but if the odds don't favor success don't invest the time.

Once a job ad is selected, follow the contact and application directions exactly. Repeat, exactly. Typically you will be asked to do one of three things - apply at a separate website, fax your documents, or respond to the ad by email.

When responding by email, I recommend the following.

Begin by giving your response a title that matches the ad so it is easy to spot in a full inbox. Next type a short cover-letter like paragraph, three or four lines in length. Keep it short and sweet, mentioning any requirements or qualifications listed in the ad and how you stack up. Conclude by mentioning that you are looking forward to introducing yourself in person and then sign off with a sincere thank you. From there, drop down a couple lines and paste your resume right in the body of the email (unless the ad instructs you to attach it separately). This way your brief cover-letter-esque reply and the top portion of your resume can be seen easily in review mode, the way most of us scan through unread emails.

As a general rule, the strongest job leads are created by job seekers themselves. This is not to say there isn't a place for job sites and postings - but - they can be black hole time suckers, consequently their use needs to be managed or they will manage you.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Saturday, January 5, 2013

10 Ways To Manage Job Search Stress

Here are ten things you can do to reduce stress while searching for a job. Individually each has value. When combined into an overall approach, the value increases many fold.

01. Have a clear and realistic Job Search Objective
Seriously, how can you hit the target without aiming at it? How can you aim if you don't know what the target is? What exactly are you out to accomplish? This is your first proactive step as an Independent Free Agent.

02. Operate in the Present
Be awake and operate in real time, in the moment, in the NOW. Too much past leads to regret, resentment, and anger. Too much future leads to worry, angst, and stress. Stay present.

03. Don't skip on Rest, Nutrition, and Exercise
Maintaining your physical machine allows it to perform efficiently and effectively resulting in less stress because of performance. The best way to deal with any stress that does develop is by R, N, and E.

04. Stay Organized
Plan for a campaign not an afternoon. Assume there will be some scrap of information about a prospective employer that will make or break you somewhere down the line. You must be able to find it in three moves.

05. Be Methodical and Consistent
As a practical matter you cannot make anyone else do anything, so give it up. This does not apply to you. Endeavor to play your part the same way each time, tweaking and adjusting your performance to align with your objective.

06. Be Proactive
If being proactive doesn't come naturally, address it ASAP. Find ways of adapting or acting the part. You compete in the marketplace with others that are action takers. Therefore suit up and get in the game on your own terms.

07. Accept
One definition of stress: I'd rather be somewhere else, doing something else, but I'm stuck here doing this. So you fight it, which of course guarantees poor performance in the here and now and delays getting "there". Accept today and position for tomorrow.

08. Don't Isolate
Stay connected and plugged-in with society. Seek interaction but no whine sessions. Avoid extended periods of searching online which can magnify your sense of isolation - log on, do what you have to do, and get off.

09. Don't Personalize
This is a tough one. Self concepts are internal notions of how we are. They are private, multi-layered, complicated, and mysterious. Touchy stuff. Still, deal with it. See this as a process. It is about you but it is NOT actually you.

10. Treat the search process as An Actual Job
How many times have you heard this, approaching job search as if it were a real job? This classic speaks to the heart of being an Independent Free Agent worker and perhaps should be the first item on the list.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell