The greatest tragedy

“You know what the greatest tragedy is in the whole world?” asks novelist Terry Pratchett. “It’s all the people who never find out what it is they really want to do or what it is they’re really good at. It’s all the people who never get to know what it is that they can really be.”

If that description applies to you even a little, what are you waiting for? Now is the perfect time to fix that problem! How? Open your mind to the possibility that you don’t know yourself as well as you think you do. Take interest based assessments; ask friends and family members you trust what they think your special aptitudes and unique abilities are, you might be surprised by their answers. And don’t forget to be wildly honest with yourself about what truly excites you.

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How to job search like an Olympian!

With the 2014 Winter Olympic Games under way it’s tough to imagine the grueling work each athlete had to endure to get to where they are today. I know I could never do what they do … I get wobbly just trying to walk to a skating rink yet alone trying to skate! But at the very least we can learn a few things from their mindset and how thinking like a champion is half the battle.

Expect to win

When you enter an interview, as hard as it may seem, try not to think “I hope to get this job” instead practice saying to your self “I’m going to get this job” it does make a difference in the confidence you’ll project.

Set your self up for small wins

The many small wins that qualify an athlete for the Olympics are just as important as the BIG event. So for example, if cold-calling a potential employer seems daunting, try calling a friend who’s an employer or try calling businesses you’re not as interested in first. This will give you practice and confidence when you make the more important calls.

Don’t make excuses

It’s rare to hear interviewees take ownership for why they didn’t get a job, but for those who do, 9 times out of 10 they’ll get hired much sooner. Why? This is something that most Olympians are all too aware of, human error is inevitable but instead of laying blame they use it to improve their technique make corrections and ultimately become better athletes.

Focus on what you can do

Does a figure skater bemoan the fact they can’t bobsled? NO! They focus on what they can do and make the most of the skills they have. It’s perfectly normal to focus on the negatives as to why you won’t get a job, but you can overcome this attitude. For example: Look at the job posting and list in bullet points all the ways your skills and experience fulfill the company wish list, this not only builds your confidence but it’s also good interview practice because you’ll be prepared when the employer asks “Why should we hire you?”

They don’t give up

Many athletes have an inner tenacity and desire to win that is admirable. Whether it’s called the “X” factor or “Heart” it’s clear, that after all the training and hard work this sometime it can mean the difference between gold and silver. Cultivate your passion and purpose and you too can experience victory!

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The nitty gritty of a “YOU” centred job search

Now that we’ve covered how to start a “YOU” centred job search, sticky notes, relying on your memory or your email sent box just won’t cut it! You’ve gotta get organized! 

Here’s what you’ll need:

1.    Network tree

2.    Job vision board / Mind map

3.    Application and company research spreadsheets

4.    Calendar

1. Network Tree

This is a list of contacts. It could include people from your last job, friends, neighbours and/ or family members who might be able to help make connections. Make sure to include on the spreadsheet how you know them, their contact info, date contacted and follow-up date.

2. Job Vision Board or Mind Map

You need to clarify what you need out of your new position; these can be both logistical and value based. Logistical might include: the location, hours, and benefits, while value based might include: what the company does, and the corporate culture. If you aren’t clear about these things you may apply to a position only to find out later that the “fit” wasn’t right and you’re on the hunt again.

Here’s a youtube video on how to create your own  Mind Map

3. Application and Company Research Spreadsheets

Each row in your table, whether electronic or handwritten, should have a line that represents a job opportunity. It is important to list in the columns the company, position name (this helps you focus your search if  titles tend to vary, for example: customer service rep or sales rep) where you saw it, deadline, your application date and follow-up. If you want you can include a comment column as well. A similar spreadsheet should be created to track specific companies within your industry so you can check their websites on a regular basis.

4. Calendar

If you’re promising to get back to an important contact you definitely don’t want to forget and lose out on a job or informational interview. Remember your future is on the line!

Once you’ve sorted out which tools you’re going to use and how you’re going to use them it’s time to organize your week…remember job searching is a full time job. Here’s a great example by Brooklyn Frontiera of Michigan Works on how to do this: Job Search Weekly Schedule

Organizing may seem painful at first but you’ll be thankful later when you get a call for an interview!  

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How to create a job search that “fits” YOU!!

So you’ve lost your job, it’s scary isn’t it? So where do you start? If you’re like me you want to dive right in…checking the job postings, modifying your resume and basically driving yourself crazy right out of the gates!

Well, I can tell you from experience this strategy is based on fear and will ultimately take you in circles. To proceed you need to ask yourself the following questions:

What am I comfortable doing?

What position(s) am I looking for?

In what sector/industry am I looking?

Then you can organize your search…

A “you” centered strategy

1.Sometimes it’s good to stretch outside of your comfort zone however, it has to make sense. For example, if you’re not comfortable with computers tying to track your job search using Excel will only result in frustration. Use a paper copy instead, lots of employment centres offer sheets that you can use.

What do you want?

2. What kind of job are you looking for? Are you staying within your field or are you making a career change? You have to identify this information or you’ll stretch yourself too thin and try to grasp at anything that comes along…

What’s your industry/field?

3. Your strategy has to fit the industry. If you are looking for a 9-5 office position, then your in-person cold-calling and networking will generally revolve around those hours. On the other hand, if you’re looking for work as a server, you’re not going to drop by a restaurant to talk to the manager on a Monday or during the dinner “rush” on a Friday?

Now that you’ve answered the 3 main questions, it’s time to get organized. Trust me you’ll feel a thousand times better when you’re controlling the process and it’s not controlling you!

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How to create unexpected opportunities

With the Superbowl this weekend and everyone, myself included, speculating about who’s going to win it’s easy to forget to be present and let the excitement unfold. The same goes for job seeking. Even though you definitely need a game plan, if you’re too set on the end goal you may miss unexpected opportunities.

The paradox of creating these opportunities is summed up in what John D. Krumboltz calls “Planned Happenstance.”

As an example of this theory, Krumboltz uses the story of high-powered professional sports agent, Leigh Steinberg. You remember the movie Jerry McGuire? Well it’s based on Leigh’s life and career, most of which he chalked up to “pure, random chance.” But was it really random? Did he in fact manufacture his future career, albeit unknowingly, through a series of circumstances and choices?

In an interview, Leigh recounts how it all started while attending the University of California at Berkeley while studying environmental law in the early 70’s. As luck would have it a freshman football team moved into his dormitory and after befriending several students he ended up eventually representing Steve Bartkowski, at his request, in contract negotiations with the Atlanta Falcons and well the rest as they say is history…. If you look closely at Leigh’s story you’ll realize that what happened wasn’t really “pure, random chance” but a set of circumstances that Leigh choose to act on, setting aside his own fears, he grabbed the opportunity before him.

You’re probably asking yourself how do I create these types of opportunities? Well, first you’ll need to develop 5 important skills:

Curiosity

Explore new learning opportunities. Take a course, try a new idea talk to insiders you would never have talked to before.

Persistence

Even when things get hard you need to re-exert your efforts and try again.

Flexibility

With emerging technology and changes in the workplace you need to adapt. For example, if a strategy in your job-search isn’t working, change your tactics.

Optimism

You need to keep positive and believe that you can attain your goals.

Risk-taking

Take a page from Leigh and go for something even if it’s risky, sometimes it’s in the process of trying that opportunities happen.

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Here’s hoping an unexpected opportunity helps me win my Superbowl bet this weekend! 

Don’t read this blog!

Everyone is more of less aware that while job searching you need to watch what you write or post online. I’m sure we’ve all heard horror stories of people not being hired or fired because of embarrassing or incriminating things (most often involving the 3 A’s – alcohol, anger and adult content) they’d done. But did you know that employers aren’t just looking at what you did online but also what you aren’t doing online?

Let me explain, for example you’re applying for a job with the word  “outreach” in the title or description, more often than not this includes some involvement with the companies website or social media presence, so it makes sense that your online profile reflects this. You need to watch for “stale” or inaccurate information, spelling mistakes and infrequent updates. Now this doesn’t mean that you need to constantly be on the computer updating your information every few minutes, it just means that frequent, engaging and professional interaction with potential customers will show awareness of emerging trends and that you’d positively represent the company to it’s stakeholders.

As well, outdated or “stale” material can also show a lack of care about your industry and particularly if the main aspect of your pervious job was social media then this can be career suicide. And no, simply liking something  or repining it doesn’t count….sorry!

If you do want to know more about managing your online presence and protecting yourself here are two useful sites to check out. The first is an internet safety overview, while the other is targeted for older job-seekers:

 Internet Safety

6 Social Media Mistakes for Older Job Hunters

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