Category Archives: Finding jobs

Exploit your “excuses” for your advantage

You are not trying to get the job of “minion” or “muscle”. Don’t pretend that exploiting your life experience is wrong. It is not the same as mugging someone in a back alley. The real reason most people don’t want to exploit their advantages is that they “want to stand on their own two feet”. It is a lovely macho phrase that means very little. Our society, families and personal lives all rest on the shoulders of those who came before us. Admit that no matter what you do, others have helped you. Get on with using the advantages that parents, teachers, friends, clergy and God have given you. 

Here are some excuses people use and reasons to exploit them for your advantage.

  • I will not exploit my family connections to get a job.

Acorns don’t fall far from the tree. Employers need reliable hires. Getting someone from a good family is a much better bet than hiring a complete stranger. If they can’t hire you, but they suggest someone else hire you, they get brownie points from that other person. They win as much as you do.

  • My friends are too close to my heart for me to ask them for help.

If your friends object to helping you get a job, they don’t trust you with THEIR reputation. If you are going to let them down, you are not a friend. If they trust you and you will follow through, helping is what builds friendships.

  • I refuse to manipulate their emotions.

People always hire based on emotion. Always. Even if no one talks to you and they only give you a paper test, they hire on emotion. Paper tests are put together based on what people FEEL will give them the best employee. Your pay will be based on emotion – how well they FEEL you will do. Promotions are based on emotion – how do they FEEL you will do in the new job. Don’t be dishonest. Don’t be an actor. Tell the truth simply. The emotions behind the truth will help you Use them.

  • Inviting them to lunch is brown nosing and sucking up.

Actually it is called networking. In many companies senior partners and executives can be fired for not having lunch with enough different people. They are evaluated on lunch. Literally.

  • I won’t tell them I left because I was sick. I don’t want their sympathy.

You are fine now and it is relevant to understand your resume. If it will substantially help you get the job, tell them. Talk to a couple of job experts and get their opinion. If it will help, exploit it. 

  • I want the job, but I don’t feel right pressing them to choose me

They want to hire the person with the best attitude. They want the person who will work the hardest. They want someone who they can promote. They want someone who is excited. They want to hire the hungriest person. How can they tell that about you unless you keep asking them, “When will you decide?”, and, “When can I start?”

  • It is greedy asking for more money.

If the offer is very good, take it. Don’t argue. Otherwise, ask for more money. If you really are worth it, get the money. If they pay you more, you will be less likely to leave for another job because of more pay. They win too.

  • Taking this job to get experience, when I plan to leave later, is wrong.

Hiring and training you does cost money. Companies that invest that money have already figured out how to profit from it. They will either give you a raise and promotion, or expect you to leave. They will make money. You won’t cost them a thing.

  • I’m a veteran, but it is not fair to use that to get a job.

The leadership, teamwork, calmness under fire, discipline and fortitude veterans develop is uncommon. Bring it up.

Your life experience makes a difference. Whatever that experience is. You need to use it and exploit it.

Something To Do Today

Think of these “excuses”. If there are any that you use, how can you use it to your advantage?

Hurt employees are bad employees

If you are hurting, you are a terrible employee

Alone, Being Alone, Archetype, Archetypes, Expression

A woman moved into a new neighborhood and asked the man next door what the people who lived there were like. He answered, “They’re just people. What were the people like in your last neighborhood?” She told him exactly what she thought. He replied, “I think you’ll find people around here are exactly the same kind of people.” It is mostly what you take with you, not the neighborhood, that determines how you will like where you live or work.

Laid off, fired, divorced, or the death of family, friends or pets can all make you hurt badly. The trouble is that many people take those pains to work. There they perform poorly or not at all. Bosses understand a few days of mourning. The trouble is that some people don’t get back in the saddle. Those people are horribly unproductive or counterproductive for months or even years.

The people who hurt the most have the toughest time finding a new job. It is obvious when someone is suffering that we often tell them to take a week or two off to recover before they apply for another job. Why blow a great opportunity because you are in pain? Some people are so badly hurt we won’t even try to help them get a job.

In other words, don’t expect to get a great job while you are hurt or mourning. If you really are hurting you need to change and get back to normal or no one will want to work with you.

Poor social skills and terrible work habits have the same symptoms as debilitating emotional pain. Some symptoms are that you think, and it is true, that everyone at your last job was HORRIBLE. The boss was a lunatic. All your coworkers avoided you. Promotions and pay raises were denied because someone hated you without any reason. People were talking behind your back. Everyone wanted you to leave. 

The problem with that debilitating pain (or the other problems), is that you refuse to take responsibility yourself. When things are going that bad at a job, it is always your fault. You are bringing that anger upon yourself by something you do. Your attitude, reactions, the chip on your shoulder, or lack of listening, may incite the problem. Occasionally, very rarely, you have the wrong job. The problem is you.

Don’t bring those problems to your next job. If everywhere you go smells like crap, check the bottom of your shoes before you blame someone else. 

Something To Do Today

Think about your job search. Just think. And then take notes about your conclusions.

A Helium II attitude

Do you mistrust “Positive Attitude” mentors? Do their programs sound good but make you depressed after a while? 

The answer is found in liquid Helium vs Helium II.

Girl, Balloons, Child, Happy, Out

Helium II is a very unusual liquid. In the next paragraph I’ll use two people to show the difference between liquid Helium and Helium II. 

Jim applied to be a space shuttle astronaut. He practiced his positive mental attitude and visualizations twice a day for an hour. He knew that would get him the job. Somehow he ended up getting a rejection letter. Jim thought that being a 35 year old, out of shape, high school dropout out without a job or a desire to get one should have been overpowered by his “positive attitude”. A 77 year old man had more of a positive attitude than Jim, so he got the job. John Glen flew into space as an old man because he figured out a way to overcome the huge obstacle of age. It involved getting a job in congress and deciding how much money NASA got.

Attitude is really about preparing, contributing and finding your way around obstacles. Jim did not have a positive attitude. He just liked to think he did. John Glenn had a positive, unstoppable Helium II attitude.

Norman Vincent Peale, Maxwell Maltz and other attitude masters always said that attitude is NOT everything. Attitude just helps you figure a way around obstacles or a better direction to go with your energy. Positive attitude was never meant to be a replacement for reality and effort.

Helium II is an example of gas with an attitude. Helium II is supercooled helium that is not just a liquid, but a very special liquid. It will slip through molecule sized cracks in a container. If you leave it in an open beaker, it will climb the walls of the beaker and get out. Swirl it into a little whirlpool and it won’t stop swirling because it has no internal friction. It is practically unstoppable in many ways. The only way to really stop it is to let it warm up just a little bit. Then it becomes a normal liquid and all those fascinating behaviors stop.

You can have a Helium II attitude. Use your positive attitude to look for ways to escape the container you are in. Is there a crack you can exploit? If necessary, can you climb out of any career pit you have fallen into? If nothing else, you need to keep moving while waiting for your next opportunity. Don’t ever stop improving yourself and doing outstanding work. If you let yourself get hot under the collar about what has happened to you, you may become stuck right where you are, or slip even lower. Prepare and grow while keeping your eyes open for the next opportunity.

A while ago I helped a man get a much better job. For years he has been struggling with jobs that were below his skill level. The reason they were below his skill level is that he has always been educating himself. He has been spending his own money to better himself. His jobs have not measured up to his constantly growing skills. Since he was overqualified he decided to do the jobs he had exceptionally well. It wasn’t easy. But with his preparation I finally found him the perfect opportunity. I doubt he will stop now. He’ll keep studying and preparing. Pretty soon he’ll be too big for this job and have to find an even bigger opportunity. For now he’s just grateful he kept on moving and kept up a really positive attitude. The kind of attitude that always finds a way.

Something To Do Today

Writing in a job journal is a great place to start, you can write about what you want to do better. Writing it down rather than saying it reinforces your decisions.

11 vital clues about the Art of Job Hunting

I was asked, “I have been studying to get my programming certification after being out of IT for 5 years. People want to hire youngsters, not a grandfather from the Philippines. What do I have to do to get a job?”

It won’t be easy, but you can get that job. 

Checkmate, Chess, Board, Chess BoardFirst you have to understand the way competing for jobs really works. The concepts are not “fair”. In many ways they are not “nice”. They are all based on character, reality and results. 

You can fight the principles just like you can fight the law of gravity, but gravity and these principles still apply. Contemplation of the principles may give you great insight. This is “The Art of Job Hunting”.

Over 20 years as a recruiter have taught me these basic principles, and I will do a post about each one of these.

  1. Nothing beats a positive unstoppable Helium II attitude
  2. People who are hurting are terrible employees and everyone knows it
  3. You have to know your advantages and ruthlessly exploit them
  4. The people competing against you must be known, measured, and either beaten, eliminated or enticed elsewhere
  5. You can’t make a silk purse out of a buggy whip
  6. You have to be worth more than you are being paid
  7. A man dying of thirst will still want a bargain on a bottle of water
  8. Perception isn’t important, it is everything
  9. Character really counts
  10. Diamonds in the rough don’t stay that way
  11. Relax and you will get cleat marks up your back

Guess what I am going to be writing about for the next few weeks? 

Something To Do Today

Think about your job search. Just think. And then take notes about your conclusions.

What to ask a recruiter who is going to help you

“I’ll help you get a job. Trust me. Give me two weeks.”

When a recruiter says something like that, ask him, 

  • What exactly will you do? 
  • Which companies will you be submitting me to?
  • When will you report to me on what you have done? 
  • Which companies am I likely to get an interview with?

If the recruiter gives you a list of companies you will be submitted to, that’s perfect. Also acceptable is a specific industry group he will be calling. Not just “local companies.” The recruiter also needs to give you dates you will get progress reports. If a recruiter really is going to “make a hundred calls”, then he should be happy to tell you when the calls are done.

Don’t let your job search be like in the movies where the car driver, you, takes their hands off the wheel and has the person in the passenger side steering the car. It’s not the recruiter’s job they are choosing, and it’s not their future. You need to be the person driving in your job search. No one else has your interest in your career.

You are building your career. The recruiter is looking for their next sale or placement. It is the difference between the commitment a cow and a chicken make when they volunteer to be part of a steak and eggs breakfast. For the cow it is a life and death decision, but for the chicken it is just a day’s work. For you it is a multi-year commitment, but for the recruiter it is a few day’s commitment. Who do YOU think should be in charge?

It’s your career. Make sure you are driving the job search. Only trust recruiters who tell you who they are calling, and report back when they are done.

Something To Do Today

Time to update your job journal with your accomplishments this week. Give a report to your boss in a format he can use.

How to get your resume noticed online

get noticed online to get a job

How to get your resume noticed.

How to get your resume seen online could be a book. That book hasn’t changed in the last 5 years. Here are the basics:

  1. Include every keyword that is in the job listing
  2. Figure out a way to repeat the most important key words
  3. Resubmit your changed resume occasionally

Keywords are critical

Computerized filters are being used more often. CareerBuilder, Ladders, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and all the others have them. If your resume does not have every important keyword or acronym, the computer eats it and spits out a form letter. No human sees your resume.

Put a list of certifications, education, software used, tools mastered and techniques employed at the end of the resume. Include every abbreviation or keyword in the ad. If you are missing a minor keyword, consider saying at the end of your resume, “I understand CDF and JCL but have never used them. It may get you past the computer filter. If you are submitting your resume directly to the hiring manager, you might take the list off.

Repeat important keywords

Your resume will be ranked by keyword usage. When my query brings back 300 hits, I want to see the most likely resumes first. I sort on “relevance” and cherry pick the top resumes. The best way to be ranked highly is to intelligently use the keywords multiple times.

Resubmit your resume

Job boards usually show the most recently submitted resumes first. If your resume has not been submitted for 3 months, it is at the bottom. Worse, recruiters may assume you have a job if your resume is that old. They won’t call you. Refresh your resume every week or two with a minor change.

Just these three things may change your invisible resume to a real interview magnet.

Something To Do Today

Go read the job description of the last job you submitted your resume for. Did your resume have all the keywords? Did it repeat the most important keywords?

Guts and Glory Job Search

Knights charging into battle

Do you want what you earn from a “guts and glory” job search?

A 5000 email spam campaign may get you a job.  That’s why there are people who will legitimately email or fax your resume to a boatload of recruiters.  If you want to spend the money on it, go ahead.

But the risk and reward are small.

Putting your resume on a hundred job boards may get you a job.  I used to have a link to Resume Rabbit, who would do it.  If you want to spend the money, go ahead.

But there is no hard work and little reward.

The Guts and Glory way

How to REALLY get a great job is personal contact. Here’s why: if I put an ad in LinkedIn or on a job board, 50 to 1000 job seekers will reply.  Most of those will be unqualified for the job.  Basically, I have to wade through spam to get a few gems. Similarly, last week the same resume was sent to me 5 times.  It was from a guy in Texas who tries to hide where he is from so I will call him with a job “anywhere in the US”.  It is spam.  I delete a lot of spammed resumes.  I call 1 out of 50 of them.

The people who get my attention every time are:

  1. Recommended to me by their friends, or
  2. Call me personally and introduce themselves, or
  3. Are recruited by me when I call them directly at their jobs.

All three are guts and glory ways of contacting someone.  Getting a friend to recommend you or calling yourself is a very high risk and high reward way of looking for a job.  Sending an email or applying online is a no risk and very low reward way of looking for a job.

Cowardice is too strong of a word, but an effective one.  Email is not cowardly, it is just the least effective avenue of attack you have.

Personal calls and recommendations from friends are the most effective way to get that job you really want.  Hiring managers insulate themselves from job hunters so they aren’t bothered by unqualified and ill prepared job seekers.  If you are absolutely qualified and prepared why not use the absolutely most effective job hunting techniques you can?

Do a search for “networking” on my blog site archives.  I have written a lot of articles on how you can find the people you need to contact.  Look for a title that includes “networking”.

The easiest way, however, is just to call the company.  Ask, “Who is in charge of US sales?” or, “Who is the head of computer programming?”, or “Which VP runs commercial lending?”  Then call that person and ask them what you can do for them.  Say, “I’m Jim Tarrington.  At my company I report to the guy who does your job.  I’m looking for a job.  Is there a place I would fit into your group?”  Then listen.

Try a high contact, high risk, and high reward way to job search.  Give it a shot.

Something To Do Today

Which 3 companies would you most like to work for?  Or, which 3 advertised jobs do you want the most?  Get a friend to recommend you, or call in yourself.

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Tomorrow:     Absolute proof it is time to leave your job

When failure is successful

failure can lead to success

Failure can be an outstanding success.

Being in an exciting startup company that fails can be great.  First a couple of success stories, then what happens with massive failure.

Success Stories

A handful of people I know have become multimillionaires.  People I have placed at their companies have gotten bonuses as high as half a million dollars.  Two companies were started and sold in less than 10 years.  One was for $200 million, the other for $400 million.  Not bad money if you can get it.

One company sells ads on the internet.  The other started out processing healthcare claims but quickly changed to selling prepaid credit card processing.  The company founders and key employees made a lot of money because they found “the next big thing.”

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it) but ‘That’s funny’ (Isaac Asimov)

When FAILURE is successful

For each company that reaches this level a hundred startups fail.  Still, half of the startups are absorbed into the successful companies that put them out of business.  The best people in ALL of the failing companies find jobs in the best companies.  People with experience in “the next big thing” are rare and not wasted by their industry.

The way to find what “the next big thing” is in your field is to ask.  When you have one minute alone with managers, top technicians and salespeople, ask them.  I guarantee that they have spent a few minutes trying to figure it out themselves.  They also will want to show their expertise by sharing their vision of the future with you.  In your job journal write down what you are told.  You can review the lists you come up with occasionally and extract some gems.

Another way to find the next big thing is to subscribe to weekly and monthly trade journals.  Most are free.  Again, go to the managers, top technicians and salespeople.  Ask them, “Which trade journals do you get in your email?  Which do you read?”  Have them forward a copy so you can subscribe.  Get your own subscription.

Once you have a few choices for the next big thing, exploit your knowledge.  If you are an adventurer, get involved in the beginning stages of “the next big thing.”  If you are more security oriented, look for an opening where there is already solid revenue, but lots of growth potential left.   The job you take could be at your present company.  Find out if they are planning to fund a startup division or if they already have something going.   The other alternative is to get a job in another company.

Chasing “the next big thing” is not an easy life.  There are fantastic rewards and great challenges.  There are also company bankruptcies, mergers, acquisitions and layoffs.  But, I’ll say it again, the best people in those hot expanding fields are always absorbed into the competitors.  It is scary, but not as dangerous as it sounds.

Now, go do some dreaming.  It never hurts.  In your field what is “the next big thing?”

Something To Do Today

Do a survey.  Ask everyone you have a one minute conversation with what “the next big thing” will be.

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Next:     Psychobabble and usable psychology

Later:              Facts would be nice

Wrestlers in feather boas

He ignored $100,000,000 to get a new job – it’s magic

ace up his sleeve

Resume magic may get you a job.

I turned a $100,000,000 food scientist into a Java programmer. Seriously, I did. I used resume magic to give him a career change.

It wasn’t as easy as it sounds.  He was proud of his PhD, and that was hurting him.  He had to stop emphasizing the $100,000,000 product revenue stream he had generated for his company.  Instead he had to emphasize his work in developing computer systems.  He had to finish getting his Java programming certifications. He also agreed to a 40% pay cut.

When we finished, he found his own job.

Writers fall in love with their work.  Every word is a work of art.  When you put together your resume, you are even more in love with your work because it is about you.  You can’t possibly leave out how you gave CPR to a chipmunk and saved its life. Leave it out anyway.

Now do something even harder.  Stop looking at the things YOU find most interesting.  Look in your career for proof that you can do the job you are applying for. Make a list of all the duties of the job you want.  Now make a list of all of the times you have done those duties.

That food scientist had helped design computer systems.  He had put together a few small applications to help him track data.  He passed the Java certification test.  We expanded those programming related accomplishments.  It took him a year, but he got the job.

Magic is the art of misdirection.  Illusion is achieved by getting people to concentrate on what you want them to perceive.  Put a little magic into your resume. Get rid of the things that don’t apply, even if they are your proudest achievements.  Emphasize what is important.

You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true.  You may have to work for it, however. (Bach)

Something To Do Today

Just for the exercise, take a job you want to apply for and create a ½ page resume for it.  Only leave your greatest accomplishments that apply towards that job.  I’ll bet you cut out a lot of fluff.

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Later:  Imperfect and highly paid

How fast can you find a new job and get your career back on track?

steam engine crashed out of a building

Getting your career back on track? It depends on where you are right now.

How fast can you find a new job?  Let’s talk about the Beatles.  They were an overnight sensation….except for the years they spent playing clubs in Germany and England.  Years lost to the world.

I bet you know a guy who quit and had a new job a week later.  He wasn’t even looking when he quit.  He told you so, and he wouldn’t exaggerate.  So how long will it take you to get a new job? No one knows.

The best way to find a job (It actually speeds things up)

The best thing to do is keep your current job and start looking.  Use your network.  The first thing to ask them is not, “Find me a job,” but, “How’s the job market?”  Get the people you know to tell you how long it took for their acquaintances to find a job.  This will tell your network to keep their eyes open.

Be careful how widely you let it be known you are looking for a job.  If you are employed, use your network, recruiters and respond to ads.  LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, and others are great places to put your resume. You have to understand that you will be getting calls for a year or two if you put your resume on the internet.

How long will it take?

Executives often look a month for every $10,000 in income they want.  If they are earning $120,000 then they may search for a year.  Technical experts are often either hired within days of their search beginning, or they take 12 months and then get 3 job offers at once.  Why?  They may have critical skills, but there is no job until someone else quits or a project starts. Then openings pop up as a mass of people all change jobs at once.

Your job search will be over much more quickly if you will commute a long distance or relocate.

The modern steam locomotive can cross the plains at the lightning speed of 15 mile per hour.  The only thing faster is a telegraph. (circa 1870)

Let’s get serious about money.  Are you overpaid?  Do you have golden handcuffs that will keep you from leaving?  Then you may never find another job without taking a pay cut.  If you are underpaid, you’ll get a new job quickly.  That’s just a fact.

How fast will you get a new job?  No one knows.  So it is probably best to start looking while you are still employed.

Again, here is the first step to finding out how fast you can find a job.

Don’t just ask your network to help you find a job.  Ask people how long it took for folks they know to find a job.  Search for stories of quick searches and also ask for horror stories.

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Next:      Daydream

Audible

Down by 20 at halftime

Feel the fear, and¼

Signs you will be laid off or fired