Opportunities

Don't Have A Job? It's YOUR Fault.

I'm not pulling any punches here. Why? Because I think most people who are looking for a job need a dose of reality instead of 'good thoughts' and 'quick tricks'.

Here are Rich Gee's 10 Commandments Of Looking For A Job:

1. It's going to be HARD.

You will push yourself farther than you've ever pushed yourself before — into areas that are uncomfortable — networking, connecting, selling, negotiation, schmoozing, etc. Get used to it.

WHY? Most job-seekers are afraid of the process. They want the limo to pull up to their house and whisk them off to their next position. Guess what? It's NEVER going to happen.

2. You must work 30-40 hours a week on your search.

It's a job to find a job. Any less is just fooling around. You have to put serious time into your search — if you don't you will just prolong your unemployment — turning it from a 3-6 month process to a 12-18 month ordeal. I have my clients do a simple math equation: Take your yearly salary and divide it by 12. That is how much you are costing your family for each month unemployed. Stop focusing on your severance package — go out and find a job!

WHY? Clients that dive into their search and spend a reasonable amount of time (30-40 hours a week), get a job. It's that simple.

3. Stop the whining.

Okay, you lost your job — get on with life. Stop navel-gazing and blaming yourself.

WHY? I encounter a number of clients who are wounded and use their loss as an excuse to bypass the difficult actions of a job search. If you are so damaged, it's time for you to seek help with a therapist. If not, get off your ass and move on. You're an adult and you have bills to pay and mouths to feed. Stop the pity party.

I hate to be blunt here — but you're an adult with responsibilities — get out there and make things happen!

4. Don't focus on your résumé every 5 seconds.

Get it done, keep it concise and powerful (and well-written). If you need help — spend the money and have it written for you. You can modify it for certain positions, but don't obsess about what other people say.

WHY? People get so attached to their résumé. They ask every friend and recruiter for advice and guess what? They tell them it stinks and that they have to totally modify it. Get it done and get it out. Stop looking for distractions.

5. Get out and meet people.

If you stay in all day and surf the web, that's not looking for work. It's vacation. To find that perfect position, you must be visible and expose yourself to A LOT of people.

WHY? It's a very simple equation: If you meet new people, you will make new opportunities, you will connect with hiring managers, you will be introduced to hidden positions, you will be offered a job. On the other hand, if you don't meet new people, less opportunities, less hiring manager interaction, less position options, and less job offers. It's that simple.

Hit the library. Make friends with the librarians — they can help you find information on organizations, industries, and people not found on the web. And it's fun — they start rooting for you to find that next position AND it gets you out of the house. One suggestion — try the smaller local libraries — they tend to focus on the serious researcher and not have a 'get em in/get em out' attitude to the masses.

6. Make yourself extremely marketable.

Hit the gym everyday. Eat well. Get an up-to-date haircut. Get new glasses. Dress in style and dress up every day. Act as if you are going out on a first date — first impressions are SO important.

WHY? Be Your Best — you are selling a product . . . YOU. You have to polish it until it shines and catches the light. Any less and you might be passed over for a single errant, inconsequential reason that you could easily fix. Take a few dollars and improve your wardrobe, your body, and your look. You want to hit them hard when they first see you.

7. Study your industry and market.

Don't sit around and surf. Immerse yourself where you're looking for a job. Learn what has happened, what is happening, and begin to predict what will happen. So many job-seekers look for positions but neglect to fully understand what's happening in their industry. When you have a job, you live in a bubble. Take the time and seriously dive into what is happening out in the world. It will come in handy during interviews.

WHY? People forget that this time is for you to apply and work for a BETTER company.

8. Pick companies you would LOVE to work for.

I get so much grief for this one. When looking for a job, so many people give in and make themselves like a company/position rather than targeting organizations they would kill to work for.

WHY? It's easier to find open positions than to LOVE a company, target key individuals, and build your own position.

9. Learn how to interview, ask questions, and negotiate.

Don't wing it. You need to practice and get out there and interview. The more you hone your image, your patter, your answers, your body language, your questions, and your negotiation skills, the faster you will land that primo position.

WHY? So many applicants feel they can rely on their strengths and forget when they're in tense situations, their weaknesses start to show. You need to be 'buttoned-up', secure, and ready for anything a key interviewer throws your way.

10. Be Positive, Smile, and Watch Your Body Language.

This is a big one. Get up every day and start out by rewarding yourself with a motivation.

HOW? Work out, listen to music, do yoga, read, meditate . . . anything. You have to begin each day with a positive mindset. Too many job seekers hit the snooze alarm or get indexed into multiple family responsibilities (not that it's a bad thing) in the morning. Make sure you have time for yourself. Get up early (I get up at 4-4:30 every morning) and make time for yourself — stop staying up late and watching reruns of The Mentalist. Go to bed early (I hit my pillow at 9:30 PM) and get in some real sleep time.

Smile! Stop frowning at everything — remind yourself frequently to smile with people, on the phone, and in unexpected situations. You'll find it brings up the good juices within and you actually feel more positive.

Take an proactive stance on your body language. Walk 20% faster (catch any Bourne Identity movie - watch how Matt Damon walks) - it livens up your system and tells everyone you mean business. Lean forward when you speak and use your hands — it engages the listener and shows them you are passionate about what you do.

11. Surprise! Extra Credit.

Focus on four areas. What are they?

1. Job Boards/Company Sites - This is the easiest area to attack and the most frustrating area to encounter. There might be jobs here, but most of the time, it's a major time-suck for higher level positions. But don't discount it — do it — but don't hold yourself back — access all four areas.

2. Recruiters - Reach out to them, but don't expect a lot to happen. They are focused on obtaining the best employed candidates, poaching from the competition, and keeping their retainers healthy and growing. There might be a perfect alignment of your need and their deliverable, but it rarely happens. I'm not down on recruiting, just don't put all your eggs in this basket. And don't get frustrated when they don't return your calls — it's the nature of the beast.

3. Connecting/Networking - As I said before, a good bet is to reach out to strategic friends, family, and colleagues who might connect you to the right people. You need to move up the food chain and play tennis with the big boys and girls. Don't make all your stops with unemployed networking groups — you're trying to sell a car when everyone else in the room are selling cars too. You need to mix with accomplished, employed, and upwardly mobile people who GET IT. You've hit a road bump in your career (we all have), stop holding yourself back and reach for the gold ring.

4. Targeting - You need to pick the best companies that you would LOVE to work for (remember this?). Act like a private investigator — research what's going on, who's making headlines, where they're going, and who you need to target. Then build a dossier about that person — where they went to school, what do they do, where they worked, are they on social media, etc. Then go after them and introduce yourself to them. Now the hard part begins.

I know this has been a rough post to read — but my goal isn't to sugar-coat my coaching, but to tell the truth and get you to take action ASAP. Let me know if you found it useful.

 

Top 10 Reasons Why You're Not Getting A Job.

As a business and career coach, I run into so many different people every day. I attend conferences and events, I run workshops and webinars, and I host team masterminds for all types of professionals. And guess what? When I talk to the unemployed, I've heard all the excuses why you don't have a job. Here are the top ten realities of your job search today:

1. You're waiting for the phone to ring or the limo to pull up to your house and whisk you off to your new position.

This is my #1 pet peeve when I host job-search workshops. People say they are busy, they're sending out resumes, but the reality is they are mentally waiting for a knight in shining armor to whisk them away to a new cushy position. Guest what . . . it's never going to happen. NEVER.

Unless you're a recently fired CEO with massive connections to firms who want to hire you and subsequently ruin their company, no one is going to call and no one is driving up with a black stretch limo. Once you realize you are on your own and only YOU can change your situation, it's time for a mental ass-kick to get your head on straight.

What To Do: You want an mental ass-kick? Start listening to motivational speakers to keep your mental energy level up and constant. Check out Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, Jeffrey Gitomer, and my favorite Bennie Hsu at Get Busy Living Podcast. He's the best!

2. You rarely go out.

You get up at 9 AM, you probably don't take a shower, you get dressed in your old geriatric Adidas sweatsuit, and sit in front of your laptop. WRONG!

What To Do: Get up at 5 AM, go for a walk/run outside, take a shower, and get dressed in real clothes. You don't like it? TOUGH. This is your workday and for the next 8-10 hours, I am your drill sergeant and you will deliver 110% looking for a job every Monday through Friday. Set up a schedule which takes you outside every single day. Meet people for coffee, hit the library, go to the gym, walk around the park. Strike up conversations with people — you never know who you will meet.

3. You check the web for postings, send out a few resumes, and watch Ellen, Rachael, and Jerry the rest of the day.

Unemployment is not a vacation. You have to attack your job search like any project you've ever delivered at work.

What To Do: You have to:

  • Focus on the marketplace - What companies are doing well? Where are the growth areas? Who are the movers and shakers?
  • Analyze your attributes against your competition - Do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis on YOU. Figure out how you leverage your strengths and opportunities.
  • Develop key targets to go after - Analyze your commuting radius, find out all the potential industries and organizations within your circle, and begin to make a hit list.
  • Execute - Go after each one incrementally in a cascade pattern to ensure you are not inundated with tasks, but your search is progressing in a healthy fashion.

4. Your industry has changed.

You actually thought people were going to buy slide-rules FOREVER. Yes, that's right, you're industry is changing. And guess what? Everyone's industry is changing. Some are morphing into other forms, some are merging, many are shrinking, and a lot are just plum going out of business. If you thought you could keep your job or profession for 30 years, I have a DeLorean to sell you.

What To Do: Figure out where your industry is going and either stick around for the very bumpy ride or jump off at the station for the next train. Get to thee library, my dear young minstrel and start understanding what is really happening in the marketplace. Read the WSJ, Medium, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Inc, and Foundr. Also meeting with industry luminaries doesn't hurt either.

5. You're too old.

Where did the time go? You were having so much fun as an executive in a corner office working on strategy and mergers, you never saw the axe coming for you until it was too late. Now you're 55 and no one wants you. Let me rephrase that — no 20-year old in HR wants you. The minute they do the college graduate math in their head (or on their calculator), your résumé is flying faster than a 767 into the circular file. And the funny thing is you keep doing it.

What To Do: Stop repeating something which doesn't work and expecting something different. You have to get out of the HR/Recruiter trap and move up the ladder and meet/engage/schmooze the hiring managers. Go to industry events, reach out to them via LinkedIn/Twitter, and google their name to get to know them. Then reach out and try to meet them.

6. You're too young.

Where did the time go? You were just in college wowing them with your 4.0 GPA and now no one will take your calls because you have no experience.

What To Do: It's time for you to get some experience! You need to call in every chip on the poker table of life and have them connect you with possible paid intern/entry level positions. Let's get real — you might have a little bit of knowledge, but your don't have the experience to hit deadlines consistently, run a meeting, handle an angry client, manage a boss, or run a complex project. You have to take a small hit position/salary-wise and build up those talents before you really hit the big leagues of life.

7. You're unrealistic about your position and your salary.

"Look, I was Vice President of Strategic Initiatives with a yearly base salary of $275K. Why doesn't anyone want me?"

What To Do: There are a finite number of positions out there which might fit your position/salary requirements, but you will never find them in time. I know, you might run into them, but most likely, NOT. You have to be a bit flexible on the Who/What/Where/How Much in the current marketplace. Try to broaden your scope and see what else is out there. It might not be a VP position, or one drowning in strategy. It might be a bit lower than $275K a year — but then again, it's higher than the $0/year you're pulling in now (great tax benefits though).

8. You have a glass-half-empty mentality.

No one likes a whiner. I just spoke with a prospect this week who could not stop talking about all the bad bosses and decisions they've made in the past 10 years. The first rule of your job search: Never, ever, say bad things about your past. Not only does it cloud anyone's opinion of you, it brings your mental state down into the basement.

What To Do: Start imagining what life would be like if you had that wonderful position RIGHT NOW. Where would you be? Who would you be working with? What would you be doing? How would you get there. Stop thinking and feeling guilty about the past and start preparing for your glorious future. Get your head half-full immediately.

9. You're afraid of Thinking Big and reaching out to the real power-brokers.

No one is going to think big for you (except me). You hamstring your search and actions by being risk-averse. You're afraid of rejection and will never put yourself in a position of actually touching key movers and shakers in your industry. No . . . you will continue to interview with 20-year-old HR reps who text more than they think and wonder why you don't have a killer position.

What To Do: Get a piece of paper and write down what would be your PERFECT job. Now actualize it in your universe — find those companies who fit the bill and reach out to the key people who run those positions. The funny thing is . . . these same people are always on the lookout for new talent. You're just not putting yourself onto their radar.

10. You've given up.

You've tried again and again to get a job offer, an interview or even a solid connection and it seems the cards are stacked against you. It's been years since you've worked and you're draining your savings account to keep your household afloat.

What To Do: You can always try again. Take a different tack, work on an alternate strategy, reach out to new people. In fact, I just worked with a client who was unemployed for two years and within three months, he had a number of offers and took an incredible job. You never know where your next break will occur.

Free image provided by iStockPhoto.

Looking For Light At The End Of The Tunnel.

"When it is dark enough, you can see stars." Received this in a fortune cookie Friday night at our favorite asian restaurant in downtown New Haven (date night with my beautiful wife, Silvia).

After a small amount of research, I found it's attributed to Charles Beard, one of the most influential American historians of the 20th century.

Facebook Postings Close Doors For Job Candidates.

More employers than ever are researching job candidates on sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter in order to find out more about their activities and character. And, it turns out, many candidates are doing a great job of showing their potential bosses poor communication skills, inappropriate pictures, and even how many workplace secrets they can leak.

The Future CIO - Are You Prepared?

CIOs are under more pressure than ever. The job is incredibly challenging. Despite recent arguments to the contrary, we believe information technology is at the heart of corporate strategy. IT must deliver more systems faster and operate them in a fail-safe environment. Being successful as a CIO requires an unusual combination of technical know-how, business acumen, and organizational leadership skills. It's a job with a sometimes short life cycle, and it takes a seemingly superhuman to do it effectively.

5 Stages of Grief When Looking For A Job.

frustratedHere's a fun list that I saw on Madatoms: Denial I've got plenty of money! I'll start looking next week!

Anger Craigslist and Monster sucks! I've got a college degree! Jobs should be looking for me!

Bargaining I'll just drive around looking for help wanted signs. I hear that Starbucks has health insurance!

Depression Why did I major in Communications? I have no useful skills.

Acceptance I didn't know I qualified for unemployment! I love this country!

I Cried Last Night And Learned A Powerful Lesson.

upI saw one of the most touching and inspiring movies of my life last night. Sitting in the movie theater with my family wearing 3D glasses, I was actually tearing up during many scenes of Pixar's new movie UP (by the way . . . don't walk - run out to see it TODAY. It will change your life and the way you look at life).

I'm a softie, but I NEVER cry at movies. And let me also state that I religiously see every Pixar movie. I will argue to my dying day that Pixar puts out the best movies for any age in theaters today.

But the best part - UP has a number of powerful messages. My favorite, and the one that should stick with you forever is: You are never too old to start your second adventure.

Many people go through life thinking that they only have one good 'adventure' in them. It might be their career, their marriage, their kids, college, etc. But let me say this - your life can be full of MANY new adventures! And here's the best part - they could get better and better!

So just when you thought it couldn't get better - go out there - grab life by the collar and make a new adventure for yourself. Take a risk, step out of your comfort zone, and push yourself to new heights. You can plan - or don't plan - just do. You might just surprise someone that is never surprised . . . YOU!

P.S. In posting this story, I just saw that I have no tags for the words "Adventure" or "Fun". Time to rectify that! More "Adventure" & "Fun" for Rich Gee!

How David Beats Goliath or When Underdogs Break The Rules.

Gladwell again uses history to reinforce his argument that with the proper planning and doing something different (something that your opposing team (i.e., competition) isn't expecting) even though you are the underdog — you will succeed.

To Succeed, Sometimes You Need To Change Your Game.

Now to your career. Sometimes when faced with an unmoveable obstacle, you need to change what you are doing. The more hard-headed you are - the bigger the obstacle will become. You need to try something new to either go around the obstacle or not deal with it at all.

Out of Work? Here's How To Socially Network & Get That Job!

robertscobleBy Robert "Scobleizer" Scoble at Scobleizer.com. Robert is the KING of Twitter, Facebook, All software, and social marketing in general. This article hits so many personal points I discuss with clients that I just had to post it. So let's all lift our glasses - here's to Robert!

I’m getting a LOT of chats from people who have been laid off. Most of the time I find that they just aren’t presenting a good face to me for me to help them find a new job.

If you are laid off, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Your blog is your resume. You need one and it needs to have 100 posts on it about what you want to be known for.
  2. Remove all friends from your facebook and twitter accounts that will embarrass you. We do look. If we see photos of people getting drunk with you that is a bad sign. Get rid of them. They will NOT help you get a job.
  3. Demonstrate you are “clued in.” This means removing ANYTHING that says you are a “social media expert” from your Twitter account. There is no such thing and even if there were there’s no job in it for you. Chris Brogan already has that job and he’s not giving it up.
  4. Demonstrate you have kids and hobbies, but they should be 1% of your public persona, not 99%. Look at my blog here. You’ll see my son’s photo on Flickr once in a while. But mostly I talk about the tech industry, cause that’s the job I want to have: talking to geeks and innovators.
  5. Put what job you want into your blog’s header. Visit Joel Spolsky’s blog. He’s “on software.” That’s a major hint that if he were looking for a job that he is totally, 100%, thinking about software. If you want a job as a chef, you better have a blog that looks like you love cooking.
  6. Get rid of any 'smart' name/acronym like "LOLCats". Do not argue me on Twitter about this. Google finds Twitters. Do you want your future potential boss noticing that you post LOLCats all day long? Believe me, you do not. It will NOT help you.
  7. Post something that teaches me something about what you want to do every day. If you want to drive a cab, you better go out and take pictures of cabs. Think about cabs. Put suggestions for cabbies up. Interview cabbies. You better have a blog that is nothing but cabs. Cabs. Cabs. Cabs all the time.
  8. Do not beg for links. If you did the above, you can Twitter me and say “check out my great software blog” though. Include @scobleizer in the tweet so I’ll see it. I’m an egotistical person so I read all Twitter replies that include my @scobleizer name in them. Hint: I haven’t met a blogger yet who is not an egotistical person. Take advantage of it. But no begging.
  9. If you want to be a plumber, look for other plumbers to add to Twitter, friendfeed, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Remove all others. Be 100% focused on what you want to do.
  10. On Twitter you can tell me what you had for lunch, but only after you posted 20 great items about what you want to do. Look at Tim O’Reilly’s tweet stream. Very little noise. Just great stuff that will make you think (he wants a job as a thinker, so do you get it yet?)
  11. IMPORTANT: Invite influentials out to lunch. Getting a job is now your profession. If you were a salesperson, how would you get sales? You would take people out to lunch who can either buy what you’re selling, or influence others who can buy. That means take other bloggers (but only if they cover what you want to do) out to lunch. That means taking lots of industry executives out to lunch.
  12. Send out resumes. Make sure yours is up to date and top notch on LinkedIn and other sites where employers look for employees. Craig’s List. Monster. Etc.
  13. Go to industry events. I have a list of tech industry events up on Upcoming.org. If you want to be a plumber, go to where contractors go. Etc. Etc. Make sure you have clear business cards. Include your photo. Include your Twitter and LinkedIn addresses. Your cell phone. Your blog address. And the same line that’s at the top of your blog. Joel’s should say “on software.” Yours should say what you love to do. Hand them out, ask for theirs. Make notes on theirs. Email them later with your LinkedIn and blog URLs and say “you’ll find lots of good stuff about xxxxxxxx industry on my blog.”
  14. When you meet someone who can hire and who you want to work for - Follow them on Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. Their blog. Stalk them without being “creepy.” Learn everything you can about them. Build a friendfeed room with all their stuff. That way when they say on Twitter “I have a job opening” you can be the first one to Tweet back.
  15. Tell others where the jobs are. One thing I learned in college is by helping other people get jobs you’ll get remembered. So, retweet jobs messages (if they are relevant to your professional friends and to you). Blog about job openings. Help people get jobs. Hold lunches for people who are jobless. Some of them will get jobs and they’ll remember you and invite you along.
  16. Do what you want to do. Let’s assume you’ll be laid off for a year. Are you going to lay around on the couch waiting for a call? No. You will do exactly what you want to do. Want to be an engineer at a great startup? Go and volunteer to work there for free. Make sure you do a blog post about every day you do what you’re doing for free. Say “I could do this for you, call…”
  17. Do some work on SEO. Make it possible for people to find you. THINK about how people would search for someone with your expertise and skills. Here’s how, Visit the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Do a search on a word that you think represents best what you want to do. I just did one for “Electrical Engineering” and it brought up a ton of great info about what people are searching for. Include those terms in your blog. And, even better, blog about those things!
  18. Remove any hint that you hated your old job from all your online things.

Good luck. It sucks. I know that. I was laid off last time and, who knows, might be laid off again, but if you’re doing all this stuff and you aren’t finding a job, let me know. You know where to find me.

Leadership Blind Spot: Recognizing Your Team.

We all forget to do it. You focus on work, meetings, reports, etc. and ignore the most powerful leadership tool you have in our arsenal - recognition and acknowledgment. When you neglect it, your teams tend to wander and lose focus. When you regularly insert it into your leadership practices, you'll have the best performing and energized team money can buy.

Stay Alive: 10 Career Tips to Win in Bad Times.

I know - things are bad out there and you're worried about your position. Firings are capricious and no one knows where the axe is going to fall next. Based on many of my client sessions and 20+ years of management and coaching, here are 10 productive actions you can put into practice to solidify your position.