An epiphany hit me recently after reading an article about the current status of job loss in Washington State. Reporting “no jobs” does not necessarily mean there is “no work available.” The term “jobless,” doesn’t have to mean “without work.” When I think about it, passively waiting for a job to open up when there is so much work around us to be done may not be the best approach to what could be a dire situation. Too many people are trapped in the mindset that a job is the only way to find income. I think there is another way we all could be looking at a “jobless” economy.
This “ah, ha!” moment happened after a frustrating week of searching for a contractor to replace the bathroom floor in a rental unit. Of the five people I contacted, two said they would call back and never did, another two said the job was too small for them, and one remaining contractor promptly returned my call. After an onsite visit, he committed to doing the work. When the project was completed, the contractor was promptly paid for his work, even though it wasn’t a “job with benefits.” Later, when we found out the carpet also needed to be replaced, the same contractor was given more work.
This experience prompted me to consider everything else that seems to be falling apart around me: my car needs vacuuming, our yard needs attention, the gutters need to be cleaned and our sink needs a new faucet. From what I see all around me, there is still a considerable amount of work that needs to get done, by and for others. This kind of work may not come with a job description, top dollar pay, medical benefits and paid time off, but I am guessing it could produce enough income to equal a paycheck and pay some bills. I’m not saying I have THE answer. It is just another approach that could keep people from tipping completely over.
The exercise of looking for work—compared to looking for a job—is a new concept for some people. It requires a different approach and a different mentality. Rather than spending the day passively looking at job postings, people could proactively invest their time looking for work, which involves talking to people to learn about their companies and “what hurts” or “what is broken.” By listening for business challenges and problems, they can be the first to offer appropriate solutions and be further ahead of those who are just waiting around for a job to be posted online. This is a simple concept, but not necessarily easy to execute. It may require training and additional support to make sure you get the results you are after.
Looking for work is a process that involves focused and intentional networking. Not the kind of random, opportunistic schmoozing that many people consider networking. It is far different than “liking” a friend’s post on Facebook or reaching out to random people on LinkedIn. It requires targeted outcomes, planning and thoughtful execution. If you aren’t finding “work” by reviewing job postings and playing with social media, there’s a good likelihood that you need to alter your mindset. It’s possible that while you search for your next job, the work you discover may even end up leading you to the job you’ve been hoping for.
Leading up to each New Year, it is common for people to establish a long wish list and/or a list of resolutions. The problem is that neither is typically tied to a plan of action and rarely is either list completed by the year’s end. Funny thing is, year after year, people repeat the same behavior and end up with the same results.
This year, make sure your wishes come true and your resolutions become habits, by starting out with a plan for success. Consciously think through what you want and what it will take for you to get there. This year, take control of what you can do to make things happen the way you envision. The following are some steps for getting started.
Create goals vs. resolutions or wish lists. The difference between making a resolution and establishing a goal is setting time lines and creating accountability. You are the one with the most invested in whether or not you achieve your goals, so it only makes sense to develop your own timelines for accomplishing them. When looking at personal goals, no one else is going to do it for you. (And if someone else is creating your personal goals for you, there may be some co-dependency issues that need to be addressed.) If you have professional goals that are mandated by your employer, don’t stop with those. Incorporate your own ideas of what you want to accomplish in the plan. Once you have a good idea of what it is you want to accomplish, then go ahead and make a commitment to each on a specific date in your calendar. If you want to lose weight, identify how much and by when. During the planning stage and setting objectives you will further break this down into measurable and achievable goals
Eliminate fear. Change is scary. If you are experiencing trepidation about doing something new, know that you are not alone. Everyone is uncomfortable with change to some degree. The key to overcoming it is facing the obstacles now, not later. Typically fear is a greater barrier than the actual perceived barrier turns out to be. Get past it by breaking down your concern item by item. List why you are scared, or why you think you may fail. Then address each point one at a time. It is likely you will find out that most of what you thought was true is mostly in your head. The concerns that are only thoughts need to be tested by taking action or researching through others who may have relevant experience (see “don’t make assumptions” below). If you want to change careers or add a new line of business, write out a list of everything running around in your head that is telling you that you can’t. One way or the other, you will be able to shorten the list if you simply get started.
Don’t make assumptions. Make a list of all you want and need. Methodically go through the list to make sure you are completely aware of what is necessary to proceed in the direction you desire. Make sure you have the required time and resources to invest and plan time to investigate options. Ask others who have had experience in the area you are focusing (e.g., new business, new career path, weight loss). Someone will have information and experience to share. You simply need to ask. The results of a thorough investigation of what you want will allow you to more accurately identify realistic timelines that will lead to success.
Plan ahead instead and avoid passively reacting. Taking a fatalistic view of circumstances you want to change isn’t going to get you anywhere. Creating a plan to deal with potential obstacles will allow you to more effectively approach bumps in the road. Passively reacting to resistance from others, obstacles or challenges isn’t going to get you what you want. Health, family or financial issues are all part of life and may surface at any time. Think through what could or might happen and develop strategies to overcome situations that are not ideal. Plan for adversity; don’t wait until it is too late to take corrective action or make changes to your plan.
Be realistic. Make sure whatever behavioral changes that are needed to accomplish your goal are easily integrated into your life on a daily basis. Setting unrealistic expectations will only set you up for failure. If you want to lose weight, make it obtainable without starving yourself or creating such aggressive goals you are likely to fail. Taking on one change at a time is much more likely to lead to success. Introducing one behavioral change at a time and doing it every day for 30 days is much more likely to make it hard wired action. If you want to lose weight, then being aware of what you take in and the activity you are presently engaged in (calories in, calories out) is the first step. Cutting back on one particularly unhealthy or high calorie food while adding ten minute walks each day are both much easier to handle and gear up from than reducing your calorie intake to 500 a day and running laps. One behavior is easy to do every day. The other is much less likely to be sustainable.
Set objectives/milestones to track your progress. Break the big stuff into smaller bites and track your progress. Set realistic due dates that take into account everything else you are juggling in your life. Don’t allow yourself to spin out of control because you ended up in a ditch on one aspect of your plan. Stay on track by developing new objectives or realistic time lines for what you need to accomplish when new elements get thrown into your life.
Set up contingencies. Think through what could or might happen and develop strategies to overcome situations that are not ideal. Don’t become a victim to circumstances because you haven’t prepared. Think through what you want and develop alternatives to your initial goal just in case things change. As you research your goals you may learn things that will cause you to change your plan. Don’t be afraid to adjust things as you go. If you have an idea for a new career, allow time for a test period. If it isn’t successful right off the bat, you may want to extend your timelines or adjust the amount of resources invested. Making adjustments to your plan is much easier if you think it through ahead of time, and can be addressed much like risk management is prior to the implementation of new projects for a company.
Be flexible. Stuff happens. Life throws us some curveballs sometimes. It is important to make sure your plans will adjust easily to anything that could develop without notice. Goals don’t have to be all or nothing. It’s possible an illness or a family related issue interrupts your momentum. An event doesn’t have to cause you to stop everything; it just may require you to change your plan a little. Adjusting to changed circumstances to achieve part of what you want and extending timelines to accomplish the rest, will bring you much closer to the desired result than throwing up your hands and declaring defeat. Be open to new information and new ideas. Adjust your goals and your plan according to what is working so that you are always clear about what you are doing and why.
Avoid procrastination. The longer you wait to get started thinking through your goals, the more likely another year will go by without having achieved them. Are you daydreaming right now? Wishing for something new? Get started now! Prepare a plan of attack and get in motion by January 1 so you can look forward to a great New Year!
What will you do differently to make things stick this year?
Nailing the job is just the beginning. It’s always a great celebration when someone lands the role of their dreams. Then the real work begins: keeping it.
Sometimes the joy of securing the role clouds the need to pay attention to what is happening in the moment as time goes on. Complacency may set in. Things get overlooked. Verbal cues are missed. Then things can start to go downhill.
Working with my clients over the expanse of their careers allows the good, the bad and the ugly to surface. In the beginning, we are dedicated to identifying the fit with the best employer, best role and best culture. Unfortunately, things change, and all the ducks that were in a row in the beginning may be thrown completely out of kilter. The situation can turn into a damage control mission to maintain a stable footing in a company or end up in the next big search for an alternative.
It’s critical to keep your eye on the ball. The following are some key points to pay particular attention to if your goal is to stay with an employer and grow with a company.
Pay attention. Make sure that details regarding your deliverables are not slipping through the cracks. A series of little mistakes creates as much of a lasting impression as one BIG mistake. Watch for verbal and nonverbal cues from others when speaking or presenting information. Are people smiling? Are they responsive? If no, then ask what you have missed. Don’t pretend nothing happened.
Avoid complacency. Doing what you always do the same way you always have is no longer good enough. The really valued employees are those that learn, take risks and seek out process improvements. They are always on the lookout for new ways to get things done faster, cheaper. To stay ahead of the pack, you have to deliver more than just enough.
Ask for performance reviews. If your company doesn’t schedule regular performance reviews, ask for one. It is impossible to know what needs fixing if you are unaware that anything is broken. It is impossible to meet invisible expectations. Don’t rely on anyone else to be forthcoming with expectations- it may never happen. Ask!
Document your performance. Perception is everything. You may think you are doing a stellar job. You may even have been told you are doing a stellar job. But unless it is writing, or there is a record of on-time deliverables, perceptions/memories of others down the road can skew what really happened.
Be aware of your image or status with others. Do you know what people think of you? Do you have allies? If you are assuming that you are loved just because you have not been told otherwise, it could be a recipe for disaster. If others are being asked to complete special projects when you are just as capable, it’s time to learn why you are being passed over. If you are being shut out of conversations that lead to changes or decisions when you had previously been included, something is amiss.
Take the initiative to learn and grow. Don’t wait for others to point out mistakes or areas for improvement. Own your errors and make quick recoveries. Take the initiative to learn new skills if you need to. Find others outside of the company to serve as mentors if you need help.
Stay connected to your network. It is easy to get settled into a routine and believe you will never have to look for another job. Don’t be fooled by momentary comfort. The world continues to change and there are no guarantees for anyone’s job security. Your network will keep you on top of what’s new, what’s outdated, relevant needs in other arenas and in-demand skills. Don’t leave your network behind just because you think you have your “dream job”.
Some days, I just shake my head when I watch how people approach their job searches or career planning. After 15 years, I would say I have developed a pretty solid recipe for getting people where they want to go in regard to employment. No matter how many times the process is described by yet another successful candidate (now new employee), someone always thinks there is a short cut and wants to put their own spin on it. It made me think of an analogy that might make it a little clearer:
So, there is a bank in the middle of town, where at the end of the day, a back window was mistakenly left unlocked. No one noticed until three bank robbers wandered by and discovered it. To their amazement, in addition to the window being unlocked, the gates at the front of a long hallway leading to the vault were also wide open, and no external security lights were lit.
Now, one of them just happened to have had a connection inside the branch, and had been able to secure the 57-digit combination to the bank vault a month earlier. Although he had scouted the bank every night for three weeks, this was the first time he had brought his buddies, and the very first time he had come across an unsecured opening. He was really excited because this was the moment he had been waiting for.
It was just before dawn, so they know they need to move quickly. One false move and they could be delayed, which means they should have a greater chance of being seen and getting caught. They discussed what they should do to get inside and how they could best get to the vault in the dark without drawing attention to them. The plan to get to the window and down the hall was anticipated to take 20 minutes. They determined they would only have two minutes to open the vault and three to get back out of the building.
The first robber knew that with a steady hand, and a small pocket flashlight, he could use the combination and get into the vault. The 2nd robber didn’t think they had time to enter all 57 numbers, so he suggested trying a shorter series of numbers to save time. The third robber was pretty confident that with one hit, a sledgehammer would open the vault and they could get out much faster. Their dilemma: should they use the combination or try a shorter sequence of numbers to see if it will open faster? Or should they just use the sledgehammer?
Now, the choice may seem obvious to you, but it isn’t much different from the scenarios I see when time after time, candidates apply for higher level roles only because of a title and promise of more money, or job seekers resort to passive searches. To clarify, a passive search is when someone trolls for job postings and throws their hat in the ring. They may even use the same overstated, nonspecific resume for every “interesting” position they see, thinking “more is better”. Or, maybe they end up reviewing many job board sites and even tailor their resumes a little each time, thinking that will make all the difference this time. After all, researching and networking to learn what companies actually need takes time, doesn’t it?
Regardless of the quality of the resume and cover letter sent, a passive search is one that instantly puts someone in competition with literally hundreds (if not thousands) of candidates. It makes the odds closer to one in a zillion that they are the “fit” the employer is looking for, or the culture is what the candidate is looking for. Even though the resume may get them into a conversation, and once there, they are still at a disadvantage over someone who knows about the company from the inside. A passive search won’t reveal the insight needed to know what to say in an interview. And these days, candidates just aren’t going to be successful if they try to bluff their way through.
All in all, blindly applying for roles that have no more clarity than the badly worded job description found on a job board makes it pretty tough to know what you are up against, what is really needed or what will be necessary to say to be competitive. The desire to shorten the process by doing less, or waiting for that one “perfect” opening to show up, makes it less and less likely someone will close in on the position of their dreams.
If you have been reading my blogs, then you know by now that the methodology I promote is to investigate prior to applying, through networking. By digging up leads and reaching out for conversations with people that already work for an organization, or in a specific department, a candidate is much more likely to get some traction. They are also much more likely to have time to develop stories that use past examples of their work to illustrate similarities with the company/department/role they have researched and have targeted.
No need for sledgehammers. The winning combination is: using information to illuminate the way + being ready to pursue a need (even before it is announced) + tailoring your resume for the specific need + investing in careful preparation for the interview. It’s not the fast way- but it is a proven way to get where you want to go.
The internet is seductive. It is so much easier to believe it holds the answers to life’s mysteries, than to imagine what it would be like without it. Granted, it really does hold a HUGE amount of information, but it still cannot replace our feelings, values or perceptions of what we hold dear. You might be thinking: what in the world does this have to do with business? And I would have to say: almost everything.
Whether you are looking for candidates, employers or service providers, making assumptions about their ability to fill a need can get you in hot water if those assumptions are not checked out. Trusting the words without evidence can backfire. Leveraging established relationships with trusted resources can help point a candidate to the right company, an employer to the properly skilled and personality matched candidate and a customer to the right service provider. In order for the recipe to work, each source needs to be accurate about their skills or needs and stop relying on “key words” as the answer.
Relying solely on information and processes devoid of real human connections tends to leave us at a disadvantage when we are attempting to build relationships. Although the written word can explain a great deal, proof comes from observable action. It is the evidence of consistent behavior that builds trust in relationships. Being able to thoroughly articulate skills/abilities, then substantiating them with evidence goes much further than using “key words” or SEO to get someone’s attention.
Candidates that are unclear about their direction or are unable to articulate their value accurately may end up in roles that are a complete mismatch. Likewise, employers that inaccurately or incompletely describe the roles they need to fill may end up wasting considerable time trying to identify the correct solution. A company that describes a culture that is contrary to what people actually experience is another source of potential conflict. The internet can provide a vehicle, but passively using it as the destination without digging for input from real, live people can lead to huge wastes of time and resources.
Although a profile can present descriptions of a person’s competence or skills, and a website can expound on an organization’s culture, learning about real life perceptions of a situation or actions requires a conversation. The proof of the pudding comes from people that have engaged with the person or business in question. It requires advance research over time, not a click and a quick connection. Passing on referrals or chasing job postings because “key words” sound familiar is insufficient. To thoroughly understand the needs of all parties and make real matches requires more thoughtful evaluation; otherwise it ends up the same as throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.
If you have been engaged in a passive search (mining databases for job postings), or if you are a recruiter relying on databases to solve your staffing needs, or if you have a business and are trying to find the right customers, it might be time to take a different course:
- Try asking tough questions of hiring managers, team members and customers to learn what’s really under the surface before you proceed. Find out where the real pain is generating from.
- Get out and talk to people, or should I say, listen to people. Networking is more than schmoozing. Prepare thoughtful questions to ask people at networking events.
- Show interest and concern. It isn’t all about you.
- Pay attention to what people/companies need before you ask for something or try to “sell” something.
- Help others. Find ways to pay it forward.
If you have received a job announcement from a recruiter that had nothing to do with your skill set, a resume from a candidate with few skills related to your needs, or spam from a business offering a service that you nor anyone in your network would be interested in buying in a million years, then I think you know what I am talking about.
Tell them to stop throwing spaghetti at the wall.
Much of my work involves helping people become more effective at work, and if they are not working, more productive in their job searches. It is necessary for me to observe behavior and identify the ways people may be setting themselves up for disappointments or mis-communications so I can help them avoid them in the future.
Over the years I have observed and interacted with people from all professions (healthcare, IT, engineering, manufacturing, finance, marketing, sales) and have found some interesting behaviors often shared by people within specific occupations. Some behaviors are often overwhelmingly consistent. You most certainly could accuse me of stereotyping in my thinking and you would be accurate.
An example of what I see within some occupations is what most people might think when they visit a hair salon and the stylists are all having “bad hair” days. That image doesn’t really make one feel comfortable getting help with a new style, does it? Or, when we drive by a mechanic’s personal residence and see six broken down cars. I think you can catch my drift here. Regardless of the labels, my point in sharing my observations is to remind people that anyone’s behavior off the job is often seen as a reflection of what their behavior would be on the job.
That said, my intent is for readers to consider the impressions they create when interacting with others outside of the context of their “jobs”. In order for anyone to feel comfortable enough to refer you, there must be trust in the fact that you will perform well and as promised. If you exhibit any of the following behavior, please consider how that behavior impacts others’ impressions and their ability to refer you.
- If you are a Project Manager, how organized do you appear? How often do you find yourself over booking or forgetting appointments? How reliable are you? How often do you lose information or records of conversations or events? How well do you manage your time? Do you show others that you typically exercise good judgment?
- If you make a living by writing, are you proofing materials before you submit for job applications to ensure there is not one typo? How well do you communicate with others?
- If you are presenting yourself as an expert in technology, how many times do you use your “malfunctioning technology” as a reason for not completing a task or communicating in a timely way?
- If you are in science, how much effort do you put into research before you ask others for information that could be easily found on the web or through other simple research? How often do you lose important emails or important reference material?
- If you are a project coordinator or provide administrative support to others, how well do you adhere to deadlines? How often do you allow procrastination to get in the way of your accomplishing more? How well do you adapt to competing interests? Are you on time for meetings?
- If you work in a creative field, how well do you solve problems? How often do you allow outside influences to control what you do, perhaps preventing you from following through with commitments? How good are you at crafting creative solutions to obstacles that allow you to stay on task?
These examples are intended to prompt some thought, not create debates. Beyond that, I hope at least one person is compelled to work on their “professional image” before asking for their next referral.
Having worked with employment issues through some of the worst economic times and some of the best, it is difficult to ignore some of the seemingly obvious reasons people stay unemployed. In tough times, the following behaviors can make the difference between saving your home and car, and in better economies, they can make the difference between securing an ok job and the job of your dreams.
As I listen to people complain about the economy, I am struck by the fact that I receive new job announcements daily, and, that many of the people that are in such desperate need for paying work may take hours or days to respond when I forward information to them. It also continues to baffle me when people that have been unemployed for more than a year (maybe even 2 or 3 years) compare their past salary with an opportunity, and won’t pursue it because it is less money than they consider themselves to be worth. (Mind you, it may 20-30% less, but that is still 100% more than making nothing.) In the mean time, what they are worth continues to decline, the longer they are out of the market.
Now, none of this is new behavior. It just seems to be more obvious when we are in severe economic times, and more people are losing their homes or filing for bankruptcy. I am not suggesting that the behaviors listed below will guarantee a change in employment status. But I can easily say, they provide a stronger likelihood something can or will change.
1. Get up and get started. This means starting a work day when others start the work day, not when you feel like getting started. Many hiring managers are rolling by 7:00 AM or earlier. If you are not getting started until 10:00 AM, (or in some cases I see, 11:00, 12:00 or 1:00!) you are missing several hours of productive time that others may capitalize on simply by being accessible if something comes up.
2. Pursue any opportunity that is in line with your skill set. If you have been unemployed for over a year, then your market value has already dropped. You are no longer considered “current” or necessarily “competitive” compared to someone that was doing the same thing yesterday or last week. You have a stronger chance of negotiating for more money if you show up and are able to illustrate your value. It isn’t always possible, but not responding pretty much ensures nothing will happen. You can’t turn down an offer that hasn’t been made.
3. Follow up! Many of my clients complain that hiring managers or networking contacts don’t follow through with promises to return calls or provide information. Ok, that might be true. Since when is your priority supposed to be theirs? If it is important to you to know something, then set yourself up to get what you want by defining touch back times when the promise is made, to ensure you get what you need when you expect/need it. Own the process. Don’t rely on others to keep track. Waiting days to follow up after something was a hot topic will most likely kill any possibility of something coming through.
4. Ask for clarity. If someone says something that is left to interpretation, then ask then to clarify or specify their intent. So many times I watch people drop the ball because they “thought” someone meant something other than what they intended. The result was that nothing was done because the party that was expecting to follow through believed the person requesting the information or action was no longer interested, since they didn’t follow up or answer a question that had been posed.
5. Be available. You don’t need the most advanced electronics to do that; you just need to be responsible. Check email frequently. (Can be done at the library or WorkSource). Get a voicemail box you can access from anywhere. Oddly, the people that seem to be most delinquent in responding are people with the latest technologies – palm pilots, iPhones, etc, yet their responses might come hours after the opportunity was already lost. And, I also find many entries on Facebook or Twitter during a time I have tried to reach someone, yet emails and phone calls about immediate opportunities may have gone unheeded.
6. Improve your communication skills. Communication is vital to moving opportunities forward. Answer requests from others in a timely way. If a question has been posed, then answer it. Reading an email and thinking through a possible answer is only half way there. A reply is still required. If you need more time to think about something, then say so! Ignoring a request or question is simply rude. Is that how you wish to be treated when you need something?
7. Stop pretending. Get real about your situation and what you are really doing about it. Be honest with yourself before you tell someone you have “done everything you can”. Is that really true?
Harsh you think? Perhaps not. Minutes before posting this blog I received this email from a client:
“Wow, you sure are keeping me busy! I am looking forward to you going on vacation.”
Perhaps this will spur some people into changing behaviors that have been creating self defeating circumstances. Please share where you can make (or have already made) some simple changes in behavior that could lead (or have led) to different results.
There is a tendency for people to get very complacent once they have landed their new job. After months (sometimes, years) of searching, many people think their work is over once they land their new job. Or, that once they have nailed the offer, it is time to let down their guard and relax. After all, the pressure is over, isn’t it? And, strong performance will ensure positive recognition, and surely, promotion opportunities, right? The short answer: No. That isn’t the full picture and sitting back at this juncture might lead to outcomes that are far less than a person hoped for in a new employment situation. Although the road to where you are today might have felt like the biggest challenge you will face, it isn’t over yet.
Now that you are where you want to be (or perhaps, you only think this is where you want to be), whether it is in a “foot in the door “ role, or your “A” job, it is necessary to ensure you start your new job on the right foot. Showing up on time, being enthusiastic, and showing willingness to learn are basic, good beginnings, but there is much, much more involved. Securing the job is only the beginning. Keeping it and growing within it, or positioning oneself to grow to places beyond the initial role, requires thoughtful planning and the establishment of time lines.
Key elements to an auspicious beginning involve a thorough understanding of your role in the organization and your value to the company. It involves the development of allies and planning ahead, using specific time lines to ensure you make the most out of this opportunity. Keep in mind, in the company’s eyes, this “new beginning” is about what you can do for the company, not what they can do for you. You will be scrutinized closely, and someone will record even the smallest behavioral aberration. What happens next is based on the company’s needs, not necessarily yours.
Keep in mind, the company doesn’t need to know all aspects of your plans for your future. They only need to know/see what is relevant to them. Whatever your agenda is for your time with them, or for after your employment with them, it needs to be managed by you. It is important to take responsibility for your growth and development from the beginning. Take charge – do not assume they have your best interests in mind, or frankly, that you are even on their minds at all.
Assuming your professional growth and recognition for your accomplishments are your supervisor’s or the company’s responsibility is an old school notion that went by the wayside decades ago. It is important that YOU have a sound plan and time lines for growing professionally, and for maintaining or increasing your value. It is important to know what your value is not only to the company, but also in the industry as a whole, just in case the company faces lay offs, or becomes involved with a merger or acquisition. Careful planning in the beginning is far more likely to set you up for success in the long run. Don’t wait until you are midstream.
If you have recently accepted a new position, please share how you will be approaching your first year.
Finding work will happen faster if you are realistic, forward thinking and active. Likewise, you can improve your chances, if you planning ahead for future possibility to searching for a new job.Face reality. With the downturn in the economy, jobs are fewer and competition is more intense. Be sure you don’t waste time and energy following people who lay blame for the bad economy or company layoff. Those things won’t change the tough market or your ability to stay employed or get reemployed.
Though obvious, remember that jobs are fewer and competition for openings is intense. There’s no time to waste under these conditions. Don’t look backwards on your circumstances or dwell on things you can’t change. Your best defense and hope for recovery is to be forward thinking. In fact, whether you’re unemployed or might become so, you should act now with preparation, planning and execution! Rest assured, getting ahead of a possible crisis will help you ride the wave much better.
Things you can do right now:
- Make goals. Have long-term employment goals that mesh with personal goals
- Be wise. Make sure your daily activities are consistent with these goals–current and future ones
- Be ready. Always know the immediate things you could do to adjust as your environment and circumstances change
With dramatic shifts in the economy, needed skills and roles will change just as dramatically. To keep up, you should audit your skills and assess your marketability. Then adjust accordingly in conjunction with your personal and financial goals.
Here are the steps:
- Be realistic and open. Your current marketability might be dramatically different than your expectations.
- Research and listen. Scour job postings of interest. Talk to recruiters and hiring authorities. What do they tell you about skills in demand, especially compared to your skill set? Are your experiences useful to new opportunities?
- Find your options. With this knowledge, determine the positions and industries you can and should realistically pursue.
- Don’t overstretch. In this kind of job market, hiring managers can get exactly the skills they need without taking a risk on someone that doesn’t have proven experience–don’t aim for a position that’s a stretch for you.
Some encouragement for your future goals
Facing the down job market might make you feel like you’re abandoning your goals. Know that you can straighten back out as the economic climate changes. This is all the more reason to have goals that can weather economic storms, and employment changes. Stubbornly holding to your old expectations without flexibility will likely lead to severe emotional and financial set backs.
What issues or surprises have you encountered in the job market?
What personal expectations have you had to let go of in order to be competitive?
Tags: new jobs