I’ve become disillusioned multiple times over the concept of a secret weapon, silver bullet, etc. While reading some comments about this article, which mostly say “um yeah, that is not a secret weapon, it’s just a tool,” I’m also replying to an email in my inbox by a guy who had the interview of his dreams, for the job that would be “IT!!!”, and he didn’t make it past the interview. He was, in my own words, devastated.
I say my own words because I’m reminded of the interview of MY dreams. This was the one I really wanted, in my job search. It was at a company that was funded, and doing cool stuff. I would work with other people who had more depth than me in project management, and learn a lot from them. The hiring manager was a lying narcissist, which I found out later, but he had worked at Microsoft and was apparently an awesome person to have association with, professionally. Everything about this job was right (except the pay was a little lower than I wanted, but I could live with that). What I didn’t know was that the company would fail in a few months, but the founders would move on to found the hottest company to come out of Utah in a long time and wealth would follow for many people.
I’ll never forget the devastation the morning I checked my email, expecting a “we’d like to meet with you again,” or “you are the one – here is what we are offering.” I wholly expected the get a job offer. In my dreams, literally, I started doing the job already. I was already planning projects and working on things…. but the email I got was very short, something along the lines of: “We’ve decided to go with someone else.”
I thought… no, I KNEW the job was mine. And then that single email took it all away. It was the lowest, darkest part of my job search. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t function. I couldn’t stand to look at my stupid tracking spreadsheet one more time, or make a call, or send another email, or even look at the rest of my inbox. I couldn’t move forward. I put on my walking shoes and got on my treadmill… and was numb. I tried everything, did everything, and was sure it was mine, and it wasn’t… with no explanation, and no reason.
Of course, I eventually pulled out of that dark place. And now, eight years wiser, I can see that if there is any single silver bullet, or secret weapon, it is the mentallity that you have. Perhaps you’ll call this “attitude.” You know, the “Never, never, never, never give up” type of attitude.
It’s hard for a depressed person who seems to be taking three steps back for every step forward to think about the never giving up. It’s hard to think about just keeping your chin up while you wonder if you’ll ever land a professional job again. It’s hard to not focus on how many days or weeks you have left before your pitiful savings dries up, and then you lose what… your home? Cars? Stuff? Family? It’s hard to think about your accomplishments when you are mentally struggling to survive, like a diver who’s lungs are about to burst, but they are too far away from the surface of the water, and all they want is oxygen. The only thing that matters to the diver is breathing. I felt like that… all I wanted was respite from worrying about whether I’d ever get a real paycheck again.
Where I was mentally, or my “mentality,” was so harmed and dark that it effected my ability to do a real job search. My networking sucked because I didn’t draw people to me. And they didn’t think I was mentally healthy enough to get an introduction or referral.
I could list all the things that this effected, but if you have read this far then you know. Personal relationships, your work ethic, your ability to move to the next task… it was all hampered.
If there is a secret weapon, it is to somehow adjust your mentality, or attitude. The secret weapon is not in technology.
I don’t know how YOU will shift or change your mentality. I know how it happened for me: one day I found a little bit of HOPE. I had lost all hope, and when I got the idea for JibberJobber, I got hope. And it came abundantly.
HOPE is the reason I wrote 51 Alternatives to a Real Job. I don’t expect you to do any of the 51, but I want to give you HOPE so that you might say “I’m ready to step out on a limb and do something… empower myself, and not have one job be 100% of my income.” When you have control over a tiny bit of your overall income, even just 1% of your income, you can have HOPE. When you give control of 100% of your income to your employer, you can’t have hope in anything more than they will treat you right.
I learned, the hard way, that hope is misplaced.
Some of you will find hope in a coach or counselor. There is NOTHING wrong with this. Find that person who knows the paths better than you do. Find a specialist. It might be a friend who will coach you for free. It might be a professional coach that charges you money. Either way is OKAY.
I think this is the best, and most important, secret weapon and silver bullet. The change in mentality.
I’ve written about calling, and the Chicken List (that list of people you are too scared to call) plenty of times… here and here and here and here and here. I get it, I really do. I’m afraid of the phone, too. Sometimes I wonder if the person will punch me through the receiver, or take away my first-born, or some other horrific thing. The phone tends to paralyze job seekers. I’ve heard “the phone weighs five hundred pounds!” or “my tongue weighs a thousand pounds!” I get it all. I live it, just like you do.
But there is something special about the phone. I challenge you to get good at it. Instead of envying others who seem to do it well, instead of blaming your personality profile and saying if you had a different personality you would do it, JUST PLACE THE CALL.
A mentor in my job search, John, is the one who introduced the Chicken List phrase to me. His advice was priceless: start calls with the hardest person on your Chicken List. Get the hard people CROSSED OFF. Get through those. Let me add, if you are still alive after those calls, then calling other people will be a breeze!
Check out the Just Place The Call video, and after taking the two minutes and twenty three seconds to watch it, PLACE THE CALL! I haven’t downloaded the 501 Telephone tips from that page but if you do it, and like it, let me know! (apparently, this is their blog, with lots of cool looking blog posts about improving your phone skills)
Robert is a friend of mine who I met at blog dinners many years ago. While I haven’t seen him in person for years, we keep in touch mostly through chat and email. Robert is a busy guy, and has had some crazy-cool recruiting jobs. When I met him he was a tech recruiter at a staffing firm. Since then he has been in-house at Novell (which was “kind of a big deal” here in Utah for a while), and is currently a senior “engineering and technical recruiter” at Fuision-io, which I think is the greatest thing to come out of Utah’s tech space in a long time.
Robert is a … how do I say this,… a geeky nerd. Let me clarify – he has great people skills, and can communicate very well (which you’ll figure out on Tuesday). But he LOVES to learn. He loves technology and dabbles in it all the time. He is also one of the better recruiting bloggers out there… check out his blog at Connected Well. Click the link below to see his LinkedIn profile:
Anyway, join us on Tuesday. And put your questions in the comments below, or shoot me an email so I can list them and be ready with YOUR questions.
Everyone knows that your resume is the end-all to your job search, right? Well, you would be surprised at just how much can be accomplished without ever handing over a resume. Now, many readers may be gasping with anger at this very moment, but let me explain how you can overcome resume hurdles.
Networking is Everything
One of the most underrated areas of a job search is networking. When you know recruiters or have friends in human resources, this can open doors that would otherwise file away your resume. While it is unfortunate, the business world is much friendlier when you know someone.
This can be done through the typical social networking avenues, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, but let’s go down to a local level. Perhaps you have found that everyone wants experience. Oftentimes, you may be lacking in one or two skills listed. What can be done in this case? You can either learn a new skill, or you can start going local.
By going to local recruiters, you can find temporary work that will be able to push your skillset further. If there are local networking groups, attend them and start to make friends with recruiters. Do you speak another language? There are many language-specific networking groups teeming with opportunity.
The goal is to tackle your job search as if you never had a resume in the first place. You can even go one step further and start analyzing your top 10 potential employers. These are the ones you would love to work for. I know that I have had many companies I wanted to apply for, but I never dug deep enough.
Now, do your research on these companies and really reach out to the right people. If you already know a recruiter, whether it be on a social networking site or their children attend the same school as yours, you have an instant benefit over someone they do not know. With the majority of job openings being filled with referrals, your biggest opportunity is not your resume alone, it is who you know.
Revise Your Resume
Obviously, you will want to go further than just networking. While networking can boost your chances greatly, why not perfect your resume at the same time? You want to be able to open all of your opportunities. These simple tips will ensure your resume stands out from the rest.
Be Concise: Studies show that recruiters spend 10 seconds overviewing a resume. If you do not make your resume concise, add bullet points and headers, you will lower your chances dramatically.
Links: Not only can you add your LinkedIn link, but adding past employer links is very helpful as well. This way, recruiters will be able to quickly learn about your past employer.
Qualifications: Tailor your qualifications to a specific employer. List 3 – 4 great qualifications that will be added to your cover letter. Being specific will be the key to success.
Keywords: Applicant Tracking Systems are used to filter through resumes, but keywords are not reader-friendly in some cases. Instead, use these keywords as headers.
Now you will be able to tackle your job search from all fronts. Not only will you have a solid network of friends to help you along the way, you will have a resume that sticks out as well.
About the author: Helen Evans is marketing manager for job search site jobtonic.com.
I saw reference to this article on Business Insider: Here’s The Best Way To Answer ‘What’s Your Greatest Weakness?’ Of course, the best way to answer this is to ditch the longstanding advice of taking a strength, then making it your faux weakness, then showing that it’s really a strength again. Like:
Wow, if your greatest weakness is that, and you’ll save me money and frustration, why shouldn’t I hire you, right?
But the BI article says that is NOT the right answer. The right answer is to “be honest about what you need to work on. Better yet, describe how you’ve already begun to address the issue.”
Here’s the problem with this “best way,” which sounds like it is definitive. And therein lies the problem.
See, you can have a “best way” for some things, but when human nature is involved, all bets are off. Maybe this is the best way for the person giving advice (he is a senior level HR person), but what if the hiring manager doesn’t want to really hear about your weaknesses, and he only asked the question because he googled “how to interview a job candidate” and found that question, which seems a little stupid to begin with? He hasn’t been a part of this dumb game before, and your honest might shock him.
So maybe the seasoned interview veterans are ready for a change… all 30 of them, but pretty much every other human being that does a hiring interview isn’t emotionally ready to handle your weakness, or they don’t know that they are really supposed to want to know your honest issues.
Are you, Mr. Interviewer, ready for that?
See, the problem I had with interviewing was that I went through an interviewing workshop. After the workshop I had a chance to try out the tactics they explained… and found that I was grossly overtrained for the interview. The interviewers were not prepared, or trained, and didn’t know what they were doing. This was for a mid-level project manager job at a well-funded start-up (that eventually failed). The main interviewer was an absolute butt-head egotistical and probably narcissist from Microsoft. He flaunted the “I worked at Microsoft so I’m way more awesome than you’ll ever be” attitude. He was also a liar. He interviewed me, and he had two other project managers interview me. When I asked them questions about the job they said “we didn’t even know there was an open position…” Turns out, there wasn’t.
Like I said, maybe this new-fangled advice of “just be honest and lay it all out” is right… for about a dozen people. But for the most part, because of the nuances of human beings doing the interviews, I would say there is not one best answer. The best answer will vary based on type of organization (stuffed-shirt corporate vs. high-tech flip-flop-wearing casual), the person (traditional vs. millenial), the industry (government vs. automotive vs. chemicals), your level (executive vs. front-line burger flipper), etc.
This concept applies to a lot of things in the job search – how to network, how long your resume should be, how to use LinkedIn, how to create a killer 30 second elevator pitch, etc. There are many clever pieces of advice out there, but you have to consider who you are and who your audience is before you take one tactic and apply it to everything. That’s one reason why you’ll see resume writers and career coaches who specialize in a certain industry or with a certain client. They know their stuff works for that industry or client, but not necessarily for other industries or clients.
And, in light of all that, maybe my advice above … doesn’t apply to you :p
I’m finishing up a webinar with the Publicity Hound on how to write better… the guy writes at ExpertWebWriting.com.
I’ve been writing for YEARS. I’ve written three books and thousands of blog posts. I’ve written articles and been paid to write white papers. I’ve loved writing since I can remember, in high school.
And from this webinar, I learned a ton. I have a lot to change. And it made me think, even though I’m “accomplished” in writing… I need to keep “sharpening my saw.”
Writing, and communication, is about persuasion, and I have more to learn, and have to get better.
I’m guessing you do to. I know that as a job seeker you are anxious to get a job, and anything that is not related to getting a job feels like you are stealing time from yourself and your family.
I felt like exercising was stealing from my job search. How pathetic is that?
You know what I’m talking about. Let me suggest that you, like I, have much to learn, and you can grow and get better in whatever your area of expertise is.
TAKE THE TIME. Any time you spend on YOU is not stealing from you. Doesn’t that make sense?
Get on the webinars, and don’t multitask. Take classes from people, start a better exercise or eating program, meditate, etc. Do what you have already been inspired to do.
I think taking the time to make yourself better, and listen to what your body and mind need, will make you a better job seeker. I double-dog dare you to really take care of yourself, instead of neglecting yourself until you have landed. Don’t wait. Do it now.
I’ve had a dream lately that there is a new kind of job description. I’m specifically talking about the postings for hiring candidates, not the “I have a job, here is my description so I know what I’m supposed to do.”
Steve Levy wrote Pick Me…Pick Me! (Steve is one of my favorite recruiting bloggers) In his post he says:
As a job seeker I wasn’t astute enough to pick through postings and see the boring and generic… I simply saw a list of requirements and hoped to match my skills and experience to that list. So that didn’t bug me as much as it bugs people who are in-the-know.
I’ll tell you what did bug me. TO NO END. I hated, loathed, detested, abhorred (yes, I can use online synonym tools) seeing a job description that fit me “to a T,” but didn’t have any compensation information.
Many years ago hiring companies went from disclosing how much they would pay to not telling anything. The problem is, I might see a title and description that I’m well-suited for but not realize you are paying 50% of what I’m expecting to make.
Can’t we just cut to the chase and get that out of the way?
Let’s say that I have to make $80,000/year. I find three job openings that are practically identical, and somehow find out that one pays $50,000, one pays $85,000, and one pays $240,000.
The problem is that the first one is simply too low, and I can’t afford to live on that. I would like the job, but it is just too far off and I don’t want to get a second job to bridge the gap.
The third one is three times what I’m hoping to make… of course, anyone would love to make three times what their need is, but if I see you are paying $240k, and I’ve not made more than 100k before, I’m going to wonder if you aren’t looking for someone with a lot more depth of experience than I have. I can use this number to determine that I’m really not the right guy (but hey, I met someone who might be a perfect fit – can I introduce you?).
This now-secretive number makes it so much harder for a job seeker to look at a posting and try and figure out if it is even a possibility.
What if we could go back to the olden days and JUST SHARE THE SALARY RANGE!
I know, I know, it’s really too much to ask. But a guy can dream, can’t he?
I have recently spent hours interviewing JibberJobber users across the world, as well as career coaches and resume writers. I am very interested in hearing what they think about JibberJobber, and what they would like to see… I’m also completely intrigued at what their experience in the job search is like, and what frustrates them.
These calls are exhilarating and exhausting at the same time.
One thing I’ve learned is that people use JibberJobber quite differently. Based on the input, I wanted to share tips on how to really get the best out of using the premium JibberJobber level. (we just lowered the upgrade by 40% from $99 a year to $60 a year… tell me that isn’t awesome. See what you get in the upgrade here)
Guess what – those are all the reasons anyone would upgrade! We moved the other features to the free side… which means if you don’t upgrade you get a ton of value for free…!
But, upgraded users are still not getting all the value they could… I know, because I talk to them on the phone! Here are six more tips for anyone who uses JibberJobber, whether you are on the upgraded account or not!
A user recently said there is a lot of magic in JibberJobber. I wish I could simplify it and say “we do this, and we do it well!” But it is hard to define the “this” because JibberJobber’s breadth and depth have expanded over the last almost-eight years. Now we are suffering from what I call Excel Syndrome. I argue that most people use 5% of Excel’s amazing features, and that is really enough. BUT, there is so much more that they could use.
In talking with my users I’ve realized some of the things I depend on and love are unknown, almost hidden features for them. That’s why I encourage you to jump on any of the weekly user webinars… otherwise, use the Contact form and give us feedback and ask us questions. We are just as committed to making JibberJobber more valuable to you as we have been every day since we launched in 2006.
Yesterday someone asked me how to find all of the status updates from one person over a period of time. I did a quick search and found there was really no hope (link 1, link 2).
Let me put this into perspective a little. I remember when Twitter was becoming very popular, and people were calling it “micro-blogging.” The idea is that you don’t have to write a long blog post, you could just write approximately one sentence and you would be good! Writing concisely even meant that you got right to the point, and you became a better communicator, some (like me) would argue.
The bigger problem I saw, though, was how hard it was to refer back to a past tweet (or post). If you asked me a question, and I had already blogged about it, I shoot you the link to my blog post. Finding a past tweet was really quite difficult. They were actually simply gone, after a period of time.
As a blogger and business owner (who deals with customer service), it was clear that there was value in being able to reference a past post. And going to the trouble to post something, and then have it lost, would be horrible.
This is exactly what is happening on LinkedIn. Finding something on Facebook isn’t that much easier. Yesterday my wife asked me to look through the history to see a really cool quote that a friend put up… last Fall. We looked… and looked, and … gave up. It was too hard. The quote was there, I’m sure, but finding it was a pain.
As you communicate your brand, knowledge, passion, epiphanies, etc., I encourage you to consider how you’ll reference those things in the future. How will others find what you have said?
Having a blog gives you more control over what you get on the social networks. I can go back to my very first blog post, or find all the posts about depression, or JibberJobber How-To’s, etc. pretty easily. I can even use Google to help me go through blog posts.
My blog posts are not fleeting, like my tweets and status updates are. Maybe that’s a good thing (that those are fleeting)… but you should consider THE TOOL, and the purpose of the tool, before you invest time.
Well, I finally did it – I finished the recordings for the fourth edition of LinkedIn for Job Seekers. This edition will be streaming only, which will cut the cost down on producing DVDs as well as make it easier for me to do updates.
The most apparent change in this series is the layout change. The third edition is, I think, almost two years old, and there have been a lot of changes to LinkedIn’s layout. The most notable would be the header/menu, which has significantly been pared down (some of the favorite things are missing ), and the huge, massive overhaul to the LinkedIn Profile.
Functionally, the biggest change would be the absence of LinkedIn Answers, which for many years had been my #1 favorite feature. Most of the functionality that you found in Answers can be done in Groups, but not as easily, and perhaps not as effectively. We go into that.
There were other functional changes… most of which had to do with stuff either disappearing completely or moving from a free to a premium feature. I have a free account and focus on helping you get more value from the free account.
In this video series, which is appropriate for job seekers as well as business owners (who probably feel like job seekers every morning!), I want you to learn out to OPTIMIZE.
Optimize your chance to be found when someone is searching for you – this has to do with your Profile, and somewhat what Groups you (a) are in and (b) participate in.
Optimize how you share your brand – what message are you sharing, where, how often, etc.
Optimize your Profile, and the messaging you give there. I was finally inspired to update my Profile (which is a fluid, changing project) and made some really important enhancements.
Optimize your results – we’re on LinkedIn for a reason, right? Make sure you understand that reason and work towards that reason, instead of just being there because everyone else is. I’m not about herd mentality… I want you to purposefully seek, and get, value.
The cost of this training is $50. You have access to it as long as you wish. I ask that you do not share access with others, and you don’t show it in “public settings,” like at a university. However, if you want to show a video or two at a job club, feel free to do that.
Finally, did you know we’ve been working hard on enhancing JibberJobber and making it more value-add to you? Not only have we added new functionality, and cleaned up some stuff, we dropped the price of the optional premium level by 40%… to $60. If you are interested in the awesome premium features (including the oh-so-useful Email2Log feature), you can get both the 12 month upgrade and the LinkedIn video series for only $99.
Let me know if you have any questions, and if you want me to add any other trainings into the LinkedIn series.