On April 22, we’ll have Fred Coon as our Ask The Expert guest. Fred owns Stewart, Cooper, Coon, an outplacement firm based out of Arizona, with clients world-wide.
Over the years I’ve chatted with Fred at conferences, over meals, on a bus, and on the phone. Fred is a great thinker, very astute, and continually looking for strategies and tactics that work. Just as important, he puts all of these things together to create plans for his job seeking clients and tracks their progress, and overall success, so he can further refine his systems and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t work.
In this Ask The Expert we’ll drill down into some of his systems, ideas, strategies, and experience, to learn from someone who not only has been doing this for a long time, but is always looking out on the horizon to make sure what he is doing is the best.
Here’s some fallout from my 2014 April Fools prank (where I laid myself off, even though I’m the sole owner of JibberJobber)…. on my LinkedIn Group I got this message:
My reply to her, and the group:
No one has to educate me on the real pain and suffering of job seekers. You see, I was there, but that was during an awesome economy. During a crappy economy (like that of the last seven (give or take) years, if you can’t get a job you can at least blame the economy. People might say “when the economy picks up…” But when you are out of work during a great economy, and can’t hardly land an interview or an offer, there is seemingly nothing to blame but you. That means a lot of self-finger-pointing, wondering how messed up you really are… which leads to unnecessary and unhelpful pain and suffering in abundance.
The bigger issue, for me, is coping with challenges and trials. How do you do it? I tend to gravitate towards humor. Not always, of course… but I’ve been doing this long enough (8+ years, since I got laid off in January of 2006), to know that there will indeed be an end to unemployment. That might be because you get a dream job, or you get a “step job” (that is a job that is a stepping stone as you continue to look for your dream job), or you start your own business, or you adjust your expenses and simply retire. I’ve seen this happen many times over the last few years.
I’m convinced that dealing with our temporary situation in a healthy way is critical to getting out of our healthy situation. Let me give you two examples:
Coping Strategy 1: eating what my tongue wants me to eat, without boundaries, and my stomach feeling satisfied a lot.
Coping Strategy 2: eating to provide nutrition to my cells, as abundantly as I want, with the right foods.
The question: what are the fruits of either strategy? Which strategy is better for the short-term, and which is better for the long-term?
So let’s go back to my humor thing. For me, I gravitate towards humor. Finding humor in things helps me put things in a different perspective that is, many times, easier to understand. It helps people I work with find perspective, also. When I’m in front of 100 job seekers, you better believe there is a lot of laughing. Probably some tears, too, because I get very raw and real. But there is humor throughout the presentation. We don’t get enough laughing when we are in a job search, and no one wants to touch our delicate situation with a ten foot pole… but I do. Because even after eight years, I still consider myself a job seeker. I am you. I am with you. And I know there is a time to let your frustrations out, and I’ll be a shoulder you can cry on, or an ear you can vent to, but I’m not going to go in front of my audience and start crying and venting for the entire time.
Maybe my coping strategy (laughing and humor) is different than your coping strategy (medication, nutrition, hobbies, reading and movies (escapism), soduko, doing the dishes, lifting weights, running, etc.). I’m not going to list them and say which are better than others, but I will say this: LOOK AT THE FRUIT. What are the results of your coping strategy?
Does it put you in a worse place, or does it prepare you to do the hard things that you need to do in your job search?
By March of 2007 I had gotten an idea of this so-called chicken list, which still scares me, and had been consumed by the idea of wasting time in a job search. Here’s a post I wrote in March of 2007 about making sure your honey-do list doesn’t take time away from what you should be doing in a job search:
Laura de Jong wrote an awesome post titled It Starts with a Vision. In this post she tells the story of a job seeker she was working with who had a vision of what kind of company she wanted to work for. Laura listened to this vision and thought of a perfect company, but it was on the other side of the country.
A few days later, the job seeker described her vision to someone else, and said “you need to talk about to this company in Boston!”
A few days later the job seeker talked with an executive recruiter who was commissioned to fill the Chief Sales Officer role for that very company, and get this, the person could be based anywhere in the US!
She had a vision of the idea country, defined that vision (not as easy as it sounds), shared the vision with others… and through what might seem like a miracle, she eventually got a CxO role at the very company that matched her vision – even though they were three thousand miles away!
Having a vision, and communicating it, is much, much, much more effective than being open to anything. Be focused and it’s easier for people to understand what you want and think of ways they can help you!
Many years ago I worked as a clerk at the FBI. I was bored beyond description. There really wasn’t anything to do, as our department was overstaffed. Some of my colleagues picked up projects from the analysts, but I was too low on the totem pole to do anything like that.
So I found myself organizing, and then re-organizing, and then re-organizing my file folder drawer.
You have to understand, as a clerk, I really didn’t have anything important in my file folder drawer. The exercise was about as useful as sorting, and resorting, and resorting the garbage. It didn’t help anyone or anything… it just burned time.
Do we, as job seekers, do this? I know I did. Here’s my ode to this wasteful, rut of a practice:
Julie Walraven of Design Resumes has a great post titled The Chief Cause Of Many Poor Hiring Decisions. She starts off with CareerBuilder’s new stat about how long hiring managers spend reviewing resumes…as we know, it’s pathetically low.
But then Julie takes her post in an unexpected direction: how long SHE, as a professional resume writer (she is certified and has been doing this, afaik, for over two decades): she will easily spend six hours creating a resume. Usually that is for an entry-level person. It’s not unusual for her to spend ten or more hours designing a resume.
Julie is an “expert,”having investing more than 10,000 hours in her trade to claim expertise. When I lost my job I spent a couple of weeks fumbling around trying to piece together my own resume. I had no expertise, experience or training… just an attitude that if I could put myself through two degrees, I could certainly write a one or two page document!
I didn’t understand that a resume was not simply a list with work history, dates and some “cool” action verbs. I thought I could easily put that document together… but what I didn’t realize was what a great resume really is.
A great, even an excellent resume, is a marketing document. Coincidentally, a sucky resume is also a marketing document – it just screams: don’t hire me!
A resume is not a standard business document for filing away in a three ring binder, simply to be forgotten. Your resume has a very specific purpose. What’s more, the “judge” of your resume is going to take your days, weeks, and for some of you, months of work and give it a cursory 30 or 120 seconds… it’s almost an atrocity!
But really, spending less than two minutes really is NOT an atrocity.
You see, it’s not about YOU. It’s not about the amount of work you put in. It’s not about how amazing you are, how clever you are, or how dumb the viewer is for not “getting” how brilliant you are.
This is all about THEM. Pursuing you will reflect on them and could have an impact on their career. Are they capable of hiring the RIGHT person? Can they hire the BEST person? Or will they hire a dud, or a lemon? This could cost them their job! Hiring the wrong person could sink the entire company!
If an expert, like Julie Walraven, spends six hours to develop the most basic of resumes, which she can only do because she has over ten thousand+ hours of writing resumes, what makes you think that you, or I, without this expertise, can “throw something together” in a few hours, and have it be good enough (much less great!)?
The mistakes I would make would undoubtedly cause my resume to be in the “under-ten-seconds-and-then-throw-away” pile. Whether that is a typo or a grammar mistake, or not using the best word(s) to put us in the right light, it will cost me.
I know there are people out there, including one of my favorite recruiters (Steve Levy… read his blog!) who say that we must write our own resumes, and hiring a resume writer is as good as hiring a charlatan (those are my words, but that’s the message I hear from him). I agree that we should do a lot of work to help get the resume done. We should put our hearts into it. We should spend time going through our past, listing our accomplishments, and doing the very hard work of self- and career-evaluation.
But I still think we should run it past a real resume writer who will polish our final marketing document so that it gets more time, and more respect, from the person evaluating whether they should bring you in for an interview or not. (professional resume writers are not merely polishers. They are experts in creating perhaps the most improtant marketing document at this point in your career)
Convinced you need resume help? I suggest considering either of these two options:
We’re working on creating an list of specialized resume writers that you can reach out to on your own… stay tuned
The point is, make sure that you are putting enough time and resources into getting this marketing document put together the right way.
I actually hear this question a lot when I’m on the road, speaking to audiences of people in transition. What I’ve found is that people are okay with their day job (if they have one), but they have some really interesting passion that they also want others to know about. Or, that they think will become a significant revenue stream down the road.
In the post I give you two scenarios, one where you have a main brand (like, your day job) and the other is mostly a strong passion…. the other scenario is where your other brand is at least as important as your main brand, especially when you aren’t at work.
Check out the post and leave a comment over there – If you do, I’ll answer your questions on the Pluralsight post.
A user from Europe asks some questions (slightly reworded), which I will answer below:
At my level and with my expertise, I usually go through a headhunter to get hired. How does the system handle this?
He gets more specific below, but just to clarify, if you only work with recruiters, I would use JibberJobber to track the recruiter (as a Contact), the recruiter’s company (as a Company – and only if it is not a one-person-company), and each job (as a Job) I learn about from the recruiter. More below…
How do I enter a job opportunity that is being proposed by a headhunter, and where I have both the headhunter contact as well as company contacts?
And here is where it gets really COOL, although I’m a little embarrassed to write this now, because we should have designed this in 8 years ago. Soon, really soon (I’m told this week) we are going to do a release to JibberJobber where we add a few more features. One of the features is the long-overdue ability to have multiple contacts and multiple companies associated to each job record. This reflects the real-world scenario of pursuing a job with a recruiter, then getting introduced to three people at a panel interview… you will be able to associate that job with all four of those people.
It gets better… see my answer to the next question…
Sometimes the headhunter does not disclose the company name or company contact. How do I handle this in the system?
This is the same issue, with a different record. We will also be able to associate multiple companies to the job. So, associate the recruiter’s company, and then when you find out what the hiring company is, add it and associate it to the job. You will even be able to prioritize the contacts and companies.
So, to let the cat out of the bag, we are doing this thing for contacts, companies and jobs, which means:
This is a great enhancement, and should make your data make a lot more sense.
Lisa Rangel is a career coach who I’ve met, had conversations with, exchanged emails, and trained in my webinars. I trust her. One week from today she is hosting this free webinar titled How to Double, And Even Triple Your Job Leads Using LinkedIn. You have nothing to lose, and hopefully will pick up some great ideas. Here’s her list of things she says you can learn:
Why the profile you currently have is costing you thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, and what you need to do to fix it.
4 little known and often misunderstood ways to find leads and opportunity using LinkedIn.
9 proven techniques for making your LinkedIn profile attract the exact type of job you want.
7 actions you must take if you want to be found by your target audience/hiring manager.
How to create your own custom target list of the exact people you want to hire you.
The one feature of LinkedIn everyone should use to manage their career, but hardly anyone knows about.