Blog Archive - November 2013
One of my clients wants to get out of Chicago. She’s looking for a warmer climate and asked me how to find a job in a new city. I gave her this advice: Act like you live in that city.
Learn about the companies in that city that need your skills. Find local professional associations and groups that will help you identify potential employers. It’s not enough to use the same old job boards like Indeed, Monster, or CareerBuilder. The more you learn about the place where you want to live, the better you will be able to manage a career transition.
Today is America’s shopping holiday, Black Friday. Bargain hunters scour print ads and websites to find the lowest prices and best values. They make lists and plan routes to go from store to store. We need to follow a similar method in managing our careers and looking for work.
1. Write down your professional goals for the next year and next five years. Start with salary. Then dig into how you want to work and what kind of responsibilities you want to have.
2. The next step is strategy and planning: How can I achieve my goal? Use your list to develop a strategic plan. For example, is it logical to achieve my salary goal in my current position with my current employer, or do I need to change jobs and possibly take on more responsibility? Do I need to go back to school or get a certificate? Who can help me achieve my goals (networking)? What resources do I need (LinkedIn, career websites, professional associations, alumni groups)?
3. Here’s the most important lesson from Black Friday shoppers: Go for it. We’ve all heard stories of mobs, fist fights, and arrests. None of this is good. However, behind all the negative news lies something very positive. Tens of thousands of people are going after what they want as consumers. What if they did the same thing in their professional lives? A motivated person is more likely to succeed. When looking for a new job or changing your career, take a lesson from the people packing the malls today: Have a goal, make a plan, and go for it.
Tony Rohr managed a Pizza Hut Restaurant. He worked for the company for more than 10 years. When the corporate office ordered him to open on Thanksgiving, Rohr refused, arguing that his workers deserved to have the holiday off. Corporate didn’t agree, and they fired Rohr. Asked if he has regrets about his actions, Rohr answered, "No, not at all," he said. "I'm glad I did that."
Tony Rohr should be an example and hero for us this Thanksgiving. Pizza Hut is a turkey.
A new jewelry store has opened near my office. Every day the store owner puts a sign in the window saying what she is thankful for that day. We need to do something similar with our careers, and there is no better time to do this than Thanksgiving. Take 10 or 15 minutes and write down everything you are grateful for as a professional. Even if you are unemployed, think about your strengths and be thankful for them. Psychologists have found that expressing gratitude helps us stay balanced and keep a positive outlook. My wish for you this Thanksgiving is that you find many reasons to be grateful, especially when it comes to work and your career.
According to the good people at Demos, Walmart could easily give its low wage workers a raise, and, with a little sacrifice by corporate leaders, all of the company’s workers could earn a salary well above the poverty line. Where do they get the data to make this claim? From a presentation by Walmart CEO Bill Simon. Check out this infographic to see how Demos finds a happy solution that would please both Walmart workers and customers – no prices need to be raised. The rich heads of the company would still be rich, just not as rich.
I often warn clients that they will see fewer and fewer jobs during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That’s the bad news. The good news is that your competition, other job seekers, are less likely to be looking for work. When you see a job that interests you over the next few weeks, apply for it as quickly as possible. Some employers need new workers now, and they will hire as soon as possible. Expect to see fewer job posts over the next four to six weeks, but keep looking and applying. You might find a new job under your Christmas tree.
Too often resumes simply convey basic qualifications for a job. This information is important, but it is equally vital to show the value you will bring to a new employer. Describe the achievements that will set you off from other candidates. Think of achievements this way: How have you been a hero at your previous jobs? If possible, quantify your success stories, but you should tell them even if you can’t represent every success with a number. Here are a few examples of how you can present achievements on a resume:
• Won several accounts from a major competitor (Symantec).
• Achieved year-over-year growth of 25% for license renewal.
• Increased market share from $100,000 to $900,000 in one year.
• Reduced cell phone costs for 500 units by conducting detailed research of market and price trends used in negotiation.
• Cleared a back log of 50 overdue performance reviews.
• Ranked #1 of 75 Account Executives.
• Completed an average of 500 projects per year.
• Established protocols and procedures for a new PET CT Department.
• Recognized by supervisors for providing outstanding customer service.
• Consistently exceeded goals for productivity.
• Achieved 110% of goal in the first year; planned and delivered 500 events.
• Launched social media and email marketing to reach younger consumers.
• Played a key role on a team that improved workflow in the Emergency Department by 20%.
• Entrusted with customers’ confidential data during computer repairs and data migrations.
• Achieved +$1 million in saving by negotiating price reductions outside of the market.
How have you helped your employer or former employers? Find a way to make these hero stories part of your resume.
Laura Clawson of Daily Kos contrasts retail stores that will be open on Thanksgiving and those that won’t. She quotes statements by an executive from Costco, who says that his company respects its employees, and an executive from Walmart, who says something about employees being excited to work on a “high energy day.”
While I think the companies are wrong to be open on this day, we as consumers bear guilt for this circumstance. If consumers valued the holiday over bargains, the stores would not be open. Corporations may be vile in their love of profit, but we are too often complicit in beating up our fellow workers.
Sarah Lazare, a staff writer at Common Dreams, reports that Detroit’s bankruptcy is not the fault of pension funds. A report by Demos has found that bank deals, including “swaps,” have put the city in its current hole. The deals never should have been made given the city’s shaky standing. It’s almost as if the banks wanted Detroit to go bankrupt, so they could sweep in and clean the carcass. Another factor fueling the city’s failure was corporate subsidies, which the weak city gave to corporations that are flush with cash. Given all this, it makes perfect sense to blame pension funds and the workers who will lose all of their pensions. What’s going on in Detroit is criminal, but as we saw in the Banking Crisis of 2008 and its aftermath, bankers cannot be held responsible for their wrong doing. They get a bail out. Detroit gets the shaft.
I often help clients prepare for job interviews. Almost all start by talking about what they don’t have. They are afraid that the interviewer will immediately detect their weakness and dismiss them as potential employees. Nothing could be further from the truth. Smart employers will, of course, address potential red flags like gaps in work history or a lack of experience. However, they are more interested in what an applicant has rather than what she lacks.
Instead of worrying about what you don’t have, start by focusing on your strengths. I tell clients to prepare for interviews by answering this question: “I will be a good fit for this position because (reason).” If you can convince employers that you have the knowledge, experience, and skill needed to do a job, they will be more likely to overlook what you lack or they will be more willing to train you in that area.
Before every interview, look carefully at the job post and company’s website. List ways you will be an asset to the firm. Practice talking about how your previous work experience is similar to what you will do for the new employer. Demonstrate that you will be able to do the job and that you want to do it. Every employer wants skill. What will set you apart is your ability to show motivation and interest in the company.
After you define your strengths and how they will benefit your prospective employer, it is important to practice how you would address any weak points. Keep these answers short and clear. Whenever possible, demonstrate how you are working on overcoming any problems. But remember that this exercise should not take even half the time you practice different ways to present positive reasons why you should be hired. Employers want the best person available. You are more likely to be that person if you know how to sell your strengths.