One of the worst mistakes job seekers make is to stop looking for work during the holidays. In fact, the holidays are a great time to re-establish ties with networking contacts. The best way to do this is to set a plan: Who do I want to contact? What do I want each person to know about me? What do I want to learn about them? Since many of these contacts will be friends as well as colleagues, it is perfectly acceptable to ask about family and other personal matters.
Keep the contact friendly and loose. Start by wishing your contacts a happy holiday season and ask first about their lives and careers. When you talk about your career goals, don’t be too pushy about asking for direct help unless there is a definite opportunity that a contact can help you with. A better way is to set up a meeting or call just after the New Year. In other cases, your goal is to let your contacts know what is going on in your life and career. That opens the door for them to help.
Don’t waste the holiday season on shopping and parties. Enjoy yourself, but do so in a way that keeps your network pot simmering. With the right contact and a little luck , you could find a new job.
One of my favorite writers is the marketer and blogger Seth Godin, author of The Dip, Poke the Box, and several other books. Godin frequently urges his readers to “ship,” to do their work and get it out to customers. Similarly, Jason Fried, Co-Founder of 37Signals, wrote an essay in Inc. about the importance of knowing when to stop “tweaking”a product and put it out on the market.
I’ve seen similar issue with a few clients. People pay me to rewrite their resume, and then they rewrite what I’ve written. I ask why. The response is always some form of “It’s not ready. It’s not right.” The problem here isn’t the resume. It’s the problem of being perfect, which is really an excuse we use to avoid doing what we fear. When we begin to network and post for jobs, we know there will be rejection. It’s easier to say my resume or cover letter isn’t ready.
What’s the solution? When Jason Fried and his colleagues were blocked in their first release, he called an adviser, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, who broke the problem down to simple questions: What the biggest missing piece? What’s the next biggest problem? Fried and his team identified one problem, which they fixed. It was time to ship. It’s that easy. Find the problem. Fix it and ship.
In a recent post, I described a client who is being laid off because of a trend to make employees buy their trucks and routes. We could debate this managerial strategy. As I wrote, I’m not a fan of making employees carry most of the risk. However, my client faced a different, more immediate problem. He needed a job.
My client assumed that that all trucking companies were following the same model. Maybe more are, but not all. We quickly identified four companies that pay drivers as employees and do not require that they own their trucks. I also talked to him about other ways he could use his skill as a driver to earn a living.
My client’s initial problem was that he faced a career roadblock without thinking about alternatives, ways to work around a problem. In the face of job loss, most of us go through a similar type of despair or denial.
What should you do if you or a friend are facing a career roadblock? First, analyze the situation calmly and rationally. Ask this question: What kind of employers need my skills? Make a detailed list of your professional skills and start thinking about what kind of industries and companies employee people with those skills
Another good way to get around road blocks is to talk with people you’ve worked with in the past, especially supervisors or managers who appreciated your work. Don’t ask them to help you get a job. That’s a big turn off. Instead, ask them for advice. What skills do they see as your strongest? Where do they think you should look for work? Do they have any insight about how you might change careers? Humans love to give advice (especially bloggers). Take advantage of that resource.
There are other ways around career roadblocks, too many to list here. The key is to recognize that you are stuck and find a way to move forward. Keep a positive attitude and stay open to new ideas. For many successful professionals, a career roadblock offers an opportunity to find a new, better job. The first step is always to believe in yourself and know that you can move forward.
We take certain things for granted in the age of smartphones and iPads. Technology is great, but we have to be sure that it works properly. Two times this week, I called clients and found it impossible to reach them. In one case, the client had a new phone and had not set up voice mail. In the other, the phone simply gave a message that the client was unavailable.
Be sure that the contact information on your resume is correct. Check your voice mail. If employers call and cannot reach you or leave a message, the odds are very good that you will not get a second chance.
No answer + no message = no job.
Over the last week, I've made three follow up calls that ended badly. In two cases, prospective clients had not set up their voice mail boxes. In the third, the mail box was filled.
What if I had been an employer looking to schedule an interview? How many interviews and job have been lost because of such mistakes?
Don't let such simple thing derail your job search.