Category Archives: Followup

How to get that job they don’t want to give you or don’t have

You may get a job by thorough persistence.  Don’t be pestilential and persistent, be pleasant, nice and thoroughly persistent.  Let me demonstrate.

My daughter Merrilee has Down Syndrome.  Her IQ is 43.  She has a lot of advantages over job seekers with down syndrome.  Job seekers with down syndrome accept what happens to them fatalistically.  My daughter with Down Syndrome got an extra half chromosome that makes it impossible for her to be fatalistic.  For example:

Merrilee loves cartoon videos.  We limited the time she spends watching them.  We locked them in the boys’ room so she couldn’t get them.  Yet she showed up with a cartoon video in her hand while I was at the computer or reading and handed it to me almost every day.

How did she get the video?  She knew that eventually one of her brothers would leave the door unlocked or the key down where she could get it.  She checked the door several times a day.  Not obsessively, just whenever she went by their room.

She can’t talk clearly, but I knew when she handed me a video that she wanted me to play it.  She gave it to me when I was busy so I wouldn’t go upstairs to lock the room.  I would hand it back and say, put it on the TV stand.  She did.   10 or 20 minutes later she brought another.  This went on until I played a video for her or put the videos away and locked the boys’ door.

She is how you should be in your job search. If I tell her, “No,” she’ll be back.  If I lock the boys’ door, she’ll be back.  She’s gentle and loving.  She’s quietly persistent.  She’s not unreasonable.  I want to help her.  She does what I ask when I tell her to put the video on the TV stand.

A job seeker with down syndrome sadly lacks Merrilee’s gentle persistence. Job seekers who feel down, just give up at the first, “No.”  There may not be a job today, but there might literally be one tomorrow.

Be persistent.  Don’t give up on the job or promotion you want.  Figure out how to gently and kindly get your qualifications before the decision maker.  Be reasonable, persistent, helpful and nice.  Take your resume to HR every time they ask.  Ask what you can do to qualify for and get the job.  Then do what they say.  After a month or two, try again.

If you make yourself qualified and have a great attitude, eventually someone will leave the door unlocked.  Someone will quit or the department will expand.  If you are kindly persistent and not irritatingly pestilent, you’ll have a great shot at the job.

You can’t have the blessing of the extra half chromosome that Merrilee has.  However, you can develop her persistence, love and patience.

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.  (Coolidge)

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Something To Do Today

Is there a promotion you really want?  Are there companies you really want to work for?  Go to your job journal and write a plan for getting what you want by being persistent in a nice way.  Decide how often you can try again.  Set appointments on your calendar to try again.

Tomorrow:  Down Syndrome vs down syndrome part 2

In a job search it feel like “It’s a blizzard! There’s nothing I can do.”

The most important step in winning is to show up.

If you are looking for a job, it always seems there is a blizzard going on.  You are stuck at home and nothing is happening because of the snow and cold. You send out a hundred resumes and get no calls back.  Recruiters won’t help you.  No one is advertising jobs with your skills.  There’s nothing you can do.  You feel cold, helpless, and can’t see any hope of success because of the blowing snow.

No matter where you live, the blizzard is over.  Spring is here.  The job market is hot.

How many US metropolitan areas were importing workers in September of 2006?  At a 4.5% real unemployment rate, metro areas start importing workers.  Take a guess, how many were below that?

195. Yes, 195 places in the US were importing workers.  And the situation has gotten even better in the last 2 months.  In the DC area the unemployment rate in some counties is well under 1%. As a matter of fact, the national unemployment rate is below 4.5%. There is a real scarcity of workers.  That means there is opportunity.

Does that mean you have to move?  No!  That means you have to continue to job hunt.  If you keep trying intelligently, you’ll get a better job.  Workers are getting imported from  low paying areas into higher paying cities all over the US.  They’re leaving jobs behind that have to be filled.

Having trouble getting a job?  Here are some areas to re-evaluate:

  1. My job skills.  Can I make them more attractive? Can I get certified?
  2. That pesky resume.  Its job is to get you an interview.  Is it working?
  3. Am I showing up?  Are you contacting people about jobs?  Sending resumes?
  4. Are you relying on the right sources of job leads?

Now may be the time to refresh your approach.  Take a look at where your industry is going.  Sharpen your job tools.  Then keep applying.  The blizzard and cold is ending soon.  Jobs are opening up all over, like daffodils in the spring.

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Something To Do Today

Use the 4 questions above to re-evaluate your job search.  I’ll go through them this week

Giving your way into a job.

Do you know how hard it is to get an administrative job with a symphony orchestra?

A symphony administrator told me how to do it.  A woman called him and asked for a job.  He said, “I can’t hire you, there is no budget.”

That’s not the end of the story.  She said, “I’ll work for you for free.”  It was a wage he could afford.  She did a great job for 3 months and went back to school.  What do you think will happen when she applies for her next job and has experience and great references? 

You can’t afford to work for free.  Not forever, anyway.  Can you do it for a few hours or days?  Over the weekend?  Helping people out of a bind is a great way to network your way into a job.  They will feel compelled to let others know how much you helped them.  In the programming and computer networking field it is a very common way to work yourself into a company.

I can point to specific examples where this worked for accountants, secretaries, company presidents, salespeople, office managers and more.  These were jobs worth anywhere from $6/hour to $250,000/year. These people all helped someone who mentioned they were snowed under with work.  After a few hours they offered to come in the next day.  After 2 days they said they’d help out the next weekend.  The boss, owner or chairman of the board heard about it and hired the person.

If you are unemployed, what’s the damage?  If you have a job, why not spend some of your evening and weekend time helping out with something you don’t normally do?  I know people who got promoted because they came in a few extra hours to their regular job to help their boss out on the boss’s project.

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Something To Do Today

Do you know someone who needs help?  Seize the opportunity.  Go on in and see if you can help.

Tomorrow:     Giving 30 seconds away can get you a job too

What if there are 6 ads and you really want the job?

You see 6 ads for one job you really want.  It is so good you would quit you’re your current job just to apply.  What do you do?

High Priority Jobs

Getting your resume into the hiring manager’s hands is your quest.

First gather information. 

Is there anything that makes you think the writer of one of the ads knows the hiring manager personally?

Check the date on all those ads.  When were they posted?  What day did they appear?  List when the company and each agency first advertised.  Did an agency advertise before the company itself?  They may have a close tie to the hiring manager.  Have the ads been going on for months?  The company is either getting a little desperate, has decided not to fill the job, or the job is full but recruiters haven’t bothered to pull the ads yet because they are still getting lots of calls.

How are the ads different?   Does one include a lot more in-depth information?  Is another extremely short?  Look closely.  Do any of them make you feel like the writer talked to the manager?  You want to talk to someone who has the hiring manager’s ear.

Second work your network.

Call the people you know at the company, or invite them out to lunch.  Call up recent employees. Connect on LinkedIn to everyone at the company you can.

What can you find out about the job?  Is there someone who can personally take your resume to the hiring manager?  How about to the hiring manager’s boss?  This is still the research phase.  Don’t give anyone your resume yet.  You only get to submit it once.

Is there a recruiter you trust?  Find out what information they have.  If they can bypass HR (Human Resources) or have other great connections then work with them.  For instance, there is one company I work with that requires all recruiters to submit resumes through their online system.  But I call the HR manager and tell her when my candidates go in so she can immediately extract them.  She is afraid of missing a truly hot candidate.  Other people who submit themselves are first sorted through by the receptionist.

You really do have to quiz recruiters about their connections.  If you answer a particular ad when there are 6 ads out there, you have a right to ask why you should send a resume in through them.

Third decide how to apply.

If the job is not exciting, it doesn’t matter how you submit your resume.  Just do some quick cosmetic changes and submit it through an agency or the HR department.

For the job that really turns you on, figure out who should submit your resume.  For any company it could be you, a friend, a recruiter or an acquaintance.  Choose in this order:

  1. Someone who can hand your resume to the hiring manager and personally recommend you.  It doesn’t get any better.
  2. Whoever can get your resume past HR and talk to the manager.
  3. The person that can talk to the HR manager or screener and get you past the first cut.
  4. At this point all submissions really are equal. Do it yourself, have an employee there submit you to HR or let a recruiter you trust and who gets back with you do it.

Fourth get your resume perfect

Put the bullets on your resume in order of importance.  Put a few key words in bold to make sure the screener and manager sees them.  Get rid of bullets, lines and sentences that do not apply to the job!!  A two page resume is fine for most jobs, but the second page may never get read.

Do the 10 second test with several people.  Hand your resume to a few friends and ask them to read it for 10 seconds.  Time them.  Take it away in 10 seconds.  Ask what they remember.  Do they mention your most important qualifications and accomplishments? If they do, it’s a winner.  If not, change it.

The 10 second test is critical because most screeners and managers give all the resumes a 10 second review to try to find the best ones first.  They will probably throw out your resume without further reading if they can’t see what they want in that first 10 seconds.

Fifth submit and follow up

Submit your resume.  Call up and find out what happened two days later.  Did your resume arrive there?  Did the manager see it yet?  When will he decide?

You really want that job? After your two day follow up call send a thank you note. Give them a nudge, short and friendly.  It is amazing how a thank you note can get someone to personally try one more time for you.

Keep calling back at least weekly.  Sometimes it does take a couple of months to fill a job.  Keep your candidacy alive until it is pronounced dead by someone who knows.

Take Your Best Shot

If you really want a job.  Go all out.  There may be 100 applicants.  In some cases there may be 1000.  Use personal contacts to set yourself apart from the herd.  Make sure your resume instantly says, “I’m qualified.”  And follow up in case you somehow get missed.

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Something To Do Today

Start prioritizing all the jobs you can apply for.  On your written list make sure the jobs you crave stand out.  Treat them differently.  It is worth the extra effort.

Next week:  Recruiters and the hair on the back of your neck.

What to do if there are Six Ads For One Job – part one

You see 3 job board ads with almost identical wording for a job in the same suburb.  You go online and find 3 social network ads that are almost identical from 3 more different companies.  It has to be one job, not 6 different ones. What do you do?

First decide how much you want the job, then give it the time it deserves.

You have to set your priorities first.   Would you quit your job just to apply for it?   Then it will be worth a few phone calls and some research.   Is it so marginal you would NOT quit your job if it paid 5% or 10% more than you are earning today?  Treat it differently.

Low Priority Jobs

Look at all the ads.  Are any by a recruiter you know and want to work with?  Give them a quick call.  Often you can get more information from a recruiter than from the company itself.  Ask them if you have a chance at the job.  Do you want the job?  Commit the recruiter to submitting you for the job.  Then call up in two days and ask what they have heard back.

If you can figure out who the primary employer is and don’t want to work with any recruiting agencies, just apply directly.  For low priority jobs it isn’t worth stressing out about whether an agency or a direct submission will work best.  Call the company in two days to see what happened.

High Priority Jobs

This is more involved.  We’ll talk about it tomorrow.

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Something To Do Today

Look online and find a job with more than one ad. Figure out which ones are from agencies and which is from the actual hiring company.  Make this a habit.

Tomorrow:  Job Boards:  What if there are 6 ads for the same job? – part two

Hallowe’en and your job search, really.

I know it is not Hallowe’en.  Humor me.

Tips for job seekers and Halloween trick or treaters are just about the same.  Think about how each of these directly applies to looking for a job.

  1. If you are scared, get your dad (a coach) to help on a few doors.
  2. Dress for success.  Look the part from your hair to your shoes, bag and greeting.
  3. The neighborhood you call on defines the size of the treats you get.
  4. Not everyone is giving out one pound candy bars, but they are all worth visiting.
  5. The more houses you call on, the more likely you will get a one pound candy bar.
  6. Go BACK to the biggest house with the best candy later.
  7. The most successful trick or treaters plan their routes and run from door to door.
  8. If you don’t knock, they won’t answer.
  9. If the porch light is out, you won’t get any candy, but you may get advice.
  10. Some of the scariest houses give the best treats.
  11. You get more treats if you start early and work late.
  12. Asking for candy in the traditional way works, ingenuity may get you more.
  13. Helping a little kid can double your take.
  14. Always say thank you.
  15. Sometimes they just ran out of treats, sorry.
  16. Going with friends (groups and social media) can make a scary neighborhood safer.
  17. It is a night of cold calling, even if you know the people.
  18. Trade candy (leads) afterwards to get what you really want.
  19. If you go to a party instead, and complain, you won’t get a big bag of candy.
  20. Don’t blow out the candle in the pumpkin.
  21. Do it again next year, only better, now that you have experience.

Wow!  I could write 21 articles based on those points.  Let me make a few quick points instead.

  1. Planning and preparation.  If you want the best chance of quick success, take 15 minutes each day and an additional 4 hours each week to review results, make lists, THINK, and plan for the coming week.  And make sure you have resumes that are attractive and get people to call you.
  2. Work hard and fast.  Actually do what you plan.  Make calls and contacts daily.  It is amazing how often luck follows hard work.
  3. Go back again.  You should be talking to your best prospects at least monthly.  If you spend 15 minutes thinking and looking for a reason to call, you can usually come up with a helpful reason to call almost anyone.
  4. Work together.  Share leads.  Offer to critique other’s resumes.  Suggest websites, books, and other job search ideas.  A lot of people find the perfect job in the castoffs and contacts from someone else’s search. Go to someone else’s house and both of you make calls at the same time.
  5. Be polite. Just because they say “No” doesn’t mean they hate you.  Say thank you and contact them again if it is a company you really want to join.  Never burn bridges or “blow out the candle” with anyone.

Have a great Halloween, and an even better job search.  Good luck finding that one pound candy bar!

5 things I do to stop procrastinating

Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work. (Peter Drucker)

An old friend laughed when she read my article on procrastinating.  She knows I am a king at procrastinating.  She mentioned how I paid my kids to help me stop procrastinating.  The first one to call me after 3 p.m., and ask if I had met my goal for telephone calls that day, got paid.  It was cheaper than having a boss take 50% of my commissions.

I am an expert at procrastination.  The only way I have been able to beat that problem is to think about it….then set up motivators.  You need to do the same thing with your job hunting duties.

There are certain things that help me stop procrastinating:

  1. Guilt
  2. Rewards
  3. Getting checked up on
  4. Momentum
  5. Brain games

Guilt

If I make a plan that I know will succeed, and don’t follow it, I feel guilty.  Simple.  I pray for help, come up with a plan to reach my goal, and am goaded by guilt.  (Why don’t you write down a plan for finding a job. You’ll feel guilty for ignoring it.)

Rewards

One month I earned a membership at the Climbnasium by making a placement.  I basically don’t buy much of anything unless it is a reward for reaching a goal.  At the end of this month, I get a “prize” if I call 30 new people every work day.  I’ve used trips, shoes, clothes, a car, computer accessories, a camera, lunch, and leaving before 5 p.m. as rewards. (You can set up a reward for sending out 10 resumes, or making 5 calls.)

Getting checked up on

I mentioned paying my kids to call me and check up.  I’ve had my wife call at noon when I was having a lot of problems procrastinating.  I have kept daily charts of how many new people I call, how long I am on the phone, and other important daily accomplishments. Having a helper or just having to check up on myself every day is a big help. (Try making a chart for how many ads you respond to, or how many networking lunches you have in a week.)

Momentum

Funny thing about starting, it’s easier to keep going after you get some momentum.  The first 3 calls I make every day are to people I already know who are actively looking for jobs.  That gets the phone to my ear.  After those 3 calls, it is much easier to make the other calls to people I have never talked to before. (To start your day you can send out two resumes thru Monster first, then send out two resumes to companies with no openings, then call the two companies you sent resumes to yesterday.  Get momentum going.)

Brain games

The most effective thing I have done to get me to make calls is a simple brain game.  I have 50 dollar coins – 40 are gold colored, 10 are silver.  Every time I call a new person I noisily drop a coin into a cup.  Silver coins are for sales calls, gold are for recruiting.  It reminds me that every call means money.  It works for me.  At the end of the day, if I only have 20 or 25 calls, I can see how close I am to my goal of 30. It is a brain game that really motivates me. (What is a brain game you can use for job hunting?)

 

Procrastinating the most important parts of your job search can be a major problem.  Figure out what you can do to get working on the important things every day.

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Tomorrow:     Mental hygiene

Cover letter anesthesia

3 reasons to procrastinate in your job search

Procrastination isn’t the problem, it’s the solution.  So procrastinate now, don’t put it off. (Ellen DeGeneres)

What to learn from procrastinators

My son and daughter put off doing their summer homework.  When they only had 3 weeks to get it done there were more problems.  They also had band camp taking up 10+ hours a day. After they procrastinated the hard part of summer that long I was telling them…..

“Procrastinating can be a good thing.

“First of all, I hope you procrastinated to get important things done.  If you did, then you used your time wisely. Use this experience to learn to do first things first.  (That is very important for job hunting.)

“Second, you should be letting less important things stay undone now that you are up against a nearby deadline. Learning to NOT do good but less important things is just as important as doing “first things first.”  (Job hunters often do repetitive, less productive, easy tasks. Stop it. You don’t have to do them.)

“Third, your quality should be high now, and you should pay attention to what works and doesn’t work for shortcuts.  Now is when you learn how much research is essential, and what research is just being done to avoid the hard work. Now is when you find out you really can do a quality job in 8 concentrated hours rather than 4 full leisurely days.”  (Job hunters often research a company for hours when all they need to know is that it is in the same industry.  They do heavy research so they can make less phone calls and send less resumes, which is more painful than surfing the internet.)

Think about all the schoolwork, studying, and commercial work you have procrastinated and gotten done at the last minute.  How much time did you save by having your back to the wall?  How many tasks that were more important have you gotten done?  What tasks just disappeared with time?

Now apply those lessons to job hunting.  Give yourself tight deadlines to get tasks done.  Instead of procrastinating, give yourself too little time to get tasks done, then fit them in the time you have given yourself.  Learn from the times you procrastinated.

Something To Do Today

Be your own boss.  Set a goal for how many companies you will call today.  That is a high priority job search activity.  How many resumes will you send out on ads?  How many resumes to companies in your industry or geography?

Learn from your prior procrastination.

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Later:                   More procrastination

How to deal with a senile, blind, unthinking, incompetent boss — like yours

If you can get your boss to repeat what you say, there is still only a 50-50 chance he understood or thought about what he repeated.  There is only a 10% chance he will remember it in a week. Harsh?  No. Guys who get PhD’s in education will agree.

Have you ever felt like your boss was from a cartoon show?

How could you?!  Haven’t you learned anything from that guy who gives those sermons at church….Captain Whatshisname? (The Simpsons)

How many times do I have to tell them?

Your sweet boss is a senile, blind, unthinking, incompetent, well meaning person. Treat him that way, without offending him, and you’ll do well.

I only exaggerated a little. Here is why:

Everyone hears, but no one listens.

My wife and I were in charge of various activities at church, but very few people came.  Then we were told the key.  If a person at church is reminded of something 3 times, there is a chance they will consider it.  If they are reminded 6 times, it is likely they will remember hearing it once or twice.  So we started letting people know by announcements from the pulpit, notices on the bulletin board, a poster in the lobby, announcements in each Sunday School class, and an announcement at the Wednesday night meeting.  We did the notification for 3 weeks preceeding each event.  Suddenly people started coming.  They finally got it. They finally remembered. You have to repeat things over and over.

Again, if you can get your boss to repeat what you say, there is still only a 50-50 chance he understood or thought about what he repeated.  There is only a 10% chance he will remember it in a week. The studies have been done to prove it.

So the key to getting your boss to really understand is to remind him repeatedly.  How often? Every single week.

Forever?  Yes, forever. Yes, every week.

Your boss really only wants to think about your competence as he puts together your annual performance  review.  Otherwise, he just wants you to be excellent and not cause him any extra work.  You have to treat him like we treat the congregation at church.  He needs to be told over and over about what you have accomplished.

I suggest you submit a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual progress report to your boss.  Submit it even if he says, “You don’t have to.”  Tell him, “I hope you don’t mind.   I just want to be sure you understand what is going on.”  If he still objects, tell him you are gathering documentation for your annual review for him.  Keep it brief, but make it regular.

If you get those reports to your boss each week, I’ll bet he starts to file them in a special folder for you.  Then when he has to do pay reviews, he’ll open that folder and bless you for helping him out.  And your pay raise will be higher than it would otherwise.  When he is planning to promote someone, he’ll open that folder and know more about what you have done than about what anyone else has done.

Every Friday remind your leader why he loves having you work there.

Something To Do Today

Start giving your boss regular reports on what you do.

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Later:              A Korean attitude

What to learn from procrastinators

How often to call about that job you want

Waiting is fine, if you want life to pass you by and spend its time with someone else.

So how often should you call? 

You will become invisible in 2 weeks if you just wait.  You will become a leprous outcast if you call 3 times a day.

To stay in competition you need to stay in contact and be remembered positively.  Here is how often to stay in touch.

If you just sent a resume.

Call a few hours after you send your resume, or the next morning, to make sure the resume was received. This is a great chance to reintroduce yourself and ask if they need more information.

Call 2 days later and ask, “What else can I do to help the process?  When can I come in?”

Then you should call every one or two weeks.  Set a time to do call backs and do them. Every time you should ask, “Have other jobs opened up that I’m eligible for?”

If you just had a phone or in-person interview.

First: send a thank you by email and another by snail mail.  Each should be a one or two line thank you.  Don’t ask questions.  Don’t bleed all over the message.  Just say, “Thank you for talking with me.  The opportunity you presented is exciting.  When can we get together for the next step?” The email will immediately cement you in the hiring manager’s mind.  The snail mail will get there a couple of days later and let him know you really want the job.

Second: stay in touch with the person who set up the interview.  Call the recruiter, HR person, or secretary at least weekly. Calling more than every 2 days is too aggressive unless they have said they expect your call..

Third: try to contact the person doing the hiring every week.  Call and at least leave a message.  You might send an email instead. Coordinate this with the recruiter who is representing you. It should be a brief call or email asking if there is anything you can do to help move along the process. Make sure they remember who you are.

You wait by pushing people gently and pleasantly to remember you and hire you.

The difference between being ignored, being the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, and being a leper is not very great. Occasional pleasant reminders work best to keep you in the running.

Something to do today

If it has been more than a week since you heard from anyone who talked to you by phone or in person, call them.

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