Archive for November, 2010

I Just Want A Job “With a Short Commute” – Part 5 of 6

Monday, November 29th, 2010

I don’t want to commute more than 30 minutes.

This is the fifth of the series that deals with the job hunting obstacles.  A long commute is not attractive for most, but many make it a “bonus” time when they can read or listen to books, catch up of news, do their planning,  or practice their opera arias (if in your own vehicle). So, if a job opportunity is a bit further than you prefer, think about how you might use that bonus time.  Even sharing a ride (carpool, train, bus) can have its bonuses.

Another option is to pursue the work-at-home or telework options that many organizations now have available.  It may not be listed in the job description or the benefits.  You need to first determine if working at home is viable for you and the type of work you want to do.  It takes discipline, a proper work area  and often some tech savvy.

A third option is to search for the opportunities are within that 30-mile geographical radius of your home. Some of this can be done on the web. But it is best done by getting out on the street.  Near where I live are several “industrial” developments – a strip of small storefronts with big warehouses.  Small businesses and regional offices of larger organizations are housed there. Some are manufacturing or distribution, others are some type of IT or contractors to government or other larger businesses.  When you know what is there, you can then do your homework to learn about he organizations and what type of work needs they have. Occasionally, walking in and asking about work opportunities has worked for a few people. Offer the type of skills you have (such as accounting, human resources, project management, assembly, operations, computer and others) to help them think about their needs. Also, ask about what needs they do have, and if different that your first set, perhaps you have options of learning the skills. Or maybe you know someone who has the skills and you can pass on the opportunity for them!

If you work for yourself, you can set your own commute time.  Many people use their administrative skills to support other small businesses – Virtual Assistants are a growing profession. Many small franchises are managed form a home office.  Personal services such as driving, food preparation, child/elder care, cleaning, home repair can be managed within a manageable commute.

What other ideas do you have for working with a short commute?

I just Want a Job, “No One is Hiring” – Part 4 of 6

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

The companies in my area that would hire me have all gone out of business.

While many, many businesses have closed their doors, other doors are opening if you know where and how to look.  Are you still looking for jobs using the same job title you’ve had for years?  Are you only looking for a specific type of work? Is your search limited to a narrow geographic area?

Take a new look at your job requirements:

1) Is your job title outdated? As organizations have had to reinvent and restructure in this recession, many jobs have been combined or tweaked and have new titles.  Do you homework so you don’t sound out of date.  That means finding people who work in the organizations you want to work for, and ask them how things are structured now. Organizations have the basic infrastructure, but often skills and roles are in new marriages.  Many people are able to use their skills and experience in a different industry.  They may call what you do by a different name. And it may be found in a different part of the organization.

2) If you don’t need the the traditional work environment and hours, you’ll find opportunities to work at home, or work in more creative ways.  Are there others nearby that you could form a skilled consortium?

3) What skills could you develop or refresh? Are there things you like to do that you’ve never been paid to do? Think about looking for work that uses the talents that come naturally to you.  If someone isn’t hiring for this talent, this may be the time to explore self-employment. Check out your ideas with the Small Business Administration.

When “no one is hiring” is the time to take a look at what skills and knowledge you can offer that others are willing to trade or pay for your services.  Be Smart. Trade your expertise and time for money.

I Just Want A Job – Part 3 of 6 – Translation, please

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

I have experience and skills – why can’t they see that and just hire me?

Think of yourself as a shoe.  Are you a running shoe, a fashion boot or a rugged sandal?  What size are you? Employers see resumes and candidates and they have to have a way to determine if they are the right “fit” for the organizations.  How often do the shoes you order online fit well if you’ve never worn them before?  Why should an employer pick you off the shelf?  We have to let the employer know why we are the best “fit” for their organization.

The basic need is for us to be able to tell a potential employer why they should hire us.  We need to turn around what we want (“opportunity to use my experience and skills,” salary and benefits, “challenge”) and concentrate on what we can do for them.  Your resume and conversations need to clearly show how your skills, knowledge and experience is a benefit for them.  Don’t make them try to guess.

Organizations, professions and fields have their own internal language for job titles and roles.  We have to translate our accomplishments and expertise into a way that they can easily see what a great asset we will be for them.  Too often opportunities are missed because we weren’t speaking the same language, especially when it comes to job titles and responsibilities. This is a big challenge for folks making military to civilian transitions, private to public sector changes, and across industries. You don’t need to ‘dumb down’ your resume or descriptions, just be ready with examples. There are some helpful websites starting with http://www.myskillsmyfuture.org and http://www.careeronestop.org/competencyModel/ Then look at the niche (profession) website job descriptions and begin to match your knowledge and skills with their terms.

If you want them to hire you (buy you) you have to show you are a good fit.

I Just Want a Job! Part 2

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

In this series, I’m tackling some of the  frustrations of job seekers I hear.

“I don’t want to call strangers and ask for a job.”

That’s right. You don’t call strangers. Even effective “cold calling” begins with having something or someone in common with the person you are contacting.  When we hear the name of someone we know and like or respect, it gets our attention in a positive way.  So you’ll get an extra second of someone’s attention if you can say, “Jane Smith, my cousin’s boss, suggested that I contact you.”  They’ll immediately want to know why and perhaps if you’ve actually talked with Jane (which is a darn good idea to get the referral in the first place).

And you don’t ask for a job. Bluntly asking, “Are there any job openings?” puts them in an uncomfortable spot. First, it’s easy for them to say ‘no’ especially if there aren’t any openings in their area.  But they may not be aware of openings in other area of their organizations, or in your field. There is a better way to find out.

Do not email a resume to your friends and say, “Do you know of any jobs?” It’s too easy for them to say “no” or, at best, just forward your resume to the mountain of resumes in HR.

When you have targeted of the type of work you want and your location preferences, its easier to tap people you know with a few easy-to-answer questions. Contact your friends with specific questions that will help you find the people who have hiring authority.   Ask if they know someone who does similar work you do in their company. Ask for a few minutes to ask 2-3 questions about their organization/profession/current issues and to let them know what you offer a potential employer.  Don’t get stuck on out-of-date job titles. Translate what you can do into how it can help the organization.

Translation tips coming up next, in Part 3.

I Just Want a Job! – Part 1 of 6

Friday, November 5th, 2010

I just want a Job, not a &*!# Career!  The desperation is real and, unfortunately, clear. And its getting in a lot of folks’ way of getting that job. With so many people  looking for jobs, employers have more to choose from – basic supply and demand.

Why not just take any job? Because you’ll be job hunting again in a few months (if not weeks) because you hate the job. Or worse, they don’t want or need you any longer.  Either way, that doesn’t help your outlook one bit!

This series covers things I’ve heard from every age – new grad, retiree, those that have been laid off. Here is the first of several job search approaches that are major stumbling blocks:

– I only want to throw my resume at a company and hope it sticks.

Sure, posting your resume on job boards, and even specific-company job boards works for some, and it should be a part of your strategy.  But not your whole strategy. You need a strategy that keeps your eye on a target – not just any job, but THE job that you will want to stick with because you like the work, the people, location, opportunities, challenges and yes, the $ and benefits. This means you still keep your options open and reduce wasting time on jobs for which you are over/under qualified or on activities that don’t get you closer to your goal.  Focus.

Then you create your plan that keeps you actively looking for opportunities. These include not only job board websites, but also finding people who know who else you should talk with and find openings.

Next, talking to people about your job search…the right way and the wrong way.