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Planning a job search network

Networking isn’t as fancy as spaghetti

I had some far-fetched metaphor with a pot of cooked spaghetti I was going to use… yeah…

Plan your network strategy in advance

Who are you going to contact? How? Send an email to a large pile of people is a low effort way to do that. It’s not the most successful on an individual basis, but it’s a great place to start.

When will you contact them? Don’t wait long. “Later” becomes “never”.

Start contacting

Each contact can give you something new. Like with the Christmas lights in the last post, you can get new contacts from these. Don’t miss that opportunity.

Call people

People seem to have this idea that they will be rejected if they call someone up. I call people for a living, and people who get upset are one in a million. You’re calling people you know. They’re happy to help you, and you’re not wasting their time.

Call some of the people you’ve been emailing after 5 days. Talking on the phone can get you a lot more information, as well as contact people who didn’t respond.

Let the network WORK

Chances are, you won’t get a bite right that second. Give it a bit of time to cook (like the failed spaghetti metaphor). Send another email to check up on them. Wait a few days, see who responds and talk to them.

Follow up

Follow up with everyone who contacts you. Follow those leads to their end and see if they work out.

Plan your strategy again

Bites don’t always come on the first try. Take what you’ve learned from your first try and plan it out for a second go.

Don’t forget to continue to search for jobs in other ways. Job boards are always around. Check them periodically. Call businesses. Don’t forget the basics.

Something To Do Today

Make a networking plan. Write it down on a piece of paper. If you need more networking hints, look up “networking” at

http://www.howtoreallygetagreatjob.com/blog/archives.aspx .

Job search networking

Christmas, Lights, Twinkle, Lighting, DecorationI plug in a string of Christmas tree lights and they shine. The next set of lights plugs into that string, and they shine. String by string I build the decorations for a tree, the outside of my home, or a wedding reception. If one string isn’t working, I replace it with another. I won’t hurt the feelings of the string of lights that is not working.

Three things are relevant to your job search:

  1. You plug in strings of lights until you get the coverage you need.
  2. Just because the lights worked last year doesn’t mean they work this year.
  3. Replace the strings that aren’t working.

Your network needs to be big enough to get you a job. Your network starts with your friends. Ask each one, individually, for help. Next come your acquaintances.  Next are the people you work with or have worked with. Finally come all the people you meet while job hunting. For each one find out who they know at companies that might give you jobs. 

There’s a time and place for everything. Ask someone who is interviewing you! (well, after you get turned down for that job). They may tell you to apply for a different job in their company, or at a friend’s company. Build your network until you have the coverage you need.

Last time you looked for a job, it may have been someone from the synagogue or the Elks Club who helped you find it. Try that approach again! Keep asking people about who they know. Don’t rely solely on that single group of people this time. Be sure and expand your network. Use all your contacts.

People can’t always help. So what? Try someone new.

Plug in that network. Try another and another. Don’t let one person’s refusal stop you. For example: Our recruiting agency refuses to help half the people who contact us. That just means you contacted the wrong agency. We have a narrow focus on banking, accounting, computers and sales. We couldn’t help the two rocket scientists who applied for a job over the years.

You need to plug in enough networks to show a bunch of jobs to apply for. It is hard work for most people. It also pays great dividends. It helps you get into that huge pool of jobs that are never advertised anywhere.

Something To Do Today

Make a list of people you know well. Contact at least one of them, preferably over the phone or in person, and ask if they can help you. Find out who they know at companies that might give you jobs.

Finding jobs you can’t see

You get paid waiting for a job ad or a “Help Wanted” sign – in unemployment checks.

Hiding, Boy, Girl, Child, Young, Box, Hole, Torn, Eye

Jobs are hiding. You have to go looking for them. Don’t wait for them to look for you.

My friend wanted a dishwashing job. A dishwashing job. Yet, he was terrified to go into any restaurant and ask for a job unless they had already put out a “Help Wanted” sign. Unless they publicly display that they want help right that second, he won’t ask.

Companies only put out “Help Wanted” ads when they’re desperate

Not every company is desperate. Most jobs are filled internally – either by recommendations or by promotions. These jobs aren’t put in front of you. They’re hidden, and you have to put in the work to find them.

My friend wanted a job as a dishwasher. He struggled to get a high school equivalency diploma. You’re far ahead of him in most ways.

Are you scared like he was? You can’t wait for a “Help Wanted” sign either.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply there. People do get hired from job ads. When you apply for a job from an ad online, you get put into a large pile of resumes. They might not even see yours.

If you go in and individually to somewhere that isn’t directly asking for help, you’re not only on top of the pile, you’re the only resume in the pile. Yes, they might not be looking for someone, but it’s also risky to be in a pile that’s getting sorted by a robot. Call businesses that are in your field, even if they’re not actively searching to fill a position.

I plan to start talking next week about ways to get a job at companies that aren’t publicly asking for help.

Something To Do Today

Right now, write down a list of companies that you would like to work at.

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Sorry again that it’s been a while! Hectic week up here, just getting back into the flow of things.

Short term rewards – motivate yourself

An actor asks himself, “What is my motivation?”  The rest of us laugh at him.  He’s trying to figure out which way to face on a stage.

Ice cream used to motivate me. I’d walk on hot coals to get it.  I still like ice cream, but it won’t get me to detour 100 yards to a store now.  Sometimes leaving work early is a great motivator.  Some days a chance to go for a walk will get me to work hard.  Winning is a great motivator at times.  Sometimes letting my kid just barely win is a motivator. What motivates me changes hourly, daily, weekly and monthly.

Getting a job is often not enough of a motivator in your job search.  To avoid pain, unmotivated people spend hours in front of a computer “playing” with job boards. There is no need to call people and admit you want a new job. Lack of real motivation is behind taking friends out to eat instead of creating a network by eating with more helpful strangers.

I have come to the conclusion that my subjective account of my motivation is largely mythical on almost all occasions. I don’t know why I do things. (Lloyd Dobens)

Use motivation in two ways.

  1. Figure out what motivates you to avoid a job hunting method
  2. Use motivation to get you to work harder.

Real networking is difficult for many.  Calling up a company and asking for the manager, VP, CFO or President is impossible for many people. Try to figure out why that call is difficult, while a call to HR (Human Resources) is easy.  HR knows less about jobs than the VP of Operations does.  If fear or embarrassment keeps you from making calls to real decision makers, admit it.  Talk about it with someone.  Make some commitments and work your way through it.

Making a few MORE contacts can also be difficult.  Find rewards that will get you to make a few more calls and submit more resumes.  It can be that you will only watch your TV show if you get 3 more resumes out or make 3 more calls.  Set a goal of only going golfing if you are taking a potential hiring manager from another company.  Decide you won’t turn on the computer until you have made 4 follow up calls where you have submitted your resume.

Think of what motivates you today.  Admit roadblocks and work around them.  Find little incentives you can give yourself to do just a little more in your job search.

Something To Do Today

Choose one activity you avoid.  Give yourself an incentive to do it.  Now do it.

Stay enthusiastic on repetitive and boring work

Pull a lever, check for quality, repeat

I couldn’t force myself to do this job. You do the same thing for hours on end, sitting on a bar stool or standing. You insert a small disk, pull a lever, and then do a quality check. It sounds horrible to me.

How do they get people to do it?

The way they get people to do it is by paying them over short intervals. They give them free drinks, breaks, flashing lights, and short term rewards.  As a matter of fact, people pay to do the job. It is more commonly known as playing the slot machines at a casino.

How does this apply to my job search? My life?

No one would play a slot machine if they were paid nothing and got negative feedback and only frustration all day.  Your job search wears you down if you only give yourself negative feedback all day.

In your job search, figure out how to reward yourself for a job well done.  A job well done can be calling 5 businesses, sending out 7 resumes, going on one interview or having lunch with someone. Don’t wait until you get a job to celebrate. Reward yourself for small victories.

I am a professional job hunter. For the last several years, when I make a call to a brand new person, I get to toss a dollar coin into a cup and hear the ring of the coin. I really do. I get to go for a walk when I hit 20 coins.  When I get to 30 coins, I have hit my goal for the day.

I celebrate. Every day.

Pick the hardest part of job searching. Reward yourself for doing something essential that you would rather avoid. You may not be able to make it fun and exciting, but I bet you can at least make it tolerable. Short term rewards can help you break through walls of resistance in your job search.

Something To Do Today

In your job journal make a list of things you need to do, but sometimes avoid.

Now make a list of rewards to make those activities more palatable.

How to Job Hunt Efficiently

This is an addendum specifically for job hunters to the previous post. I thought of some more information I wanted to share.

A huge mistake I see is people using exclusively one resource to get a job. There are a lot of good options to use to go job hunting nowadays. Monster, CareerBuilder, and Indeed have all been huge at some point. In the ancient past of the dinosaurs, job ads were big in newspapers. There are even recruiters and staffing companies like myself.

Use your time efficiently and you can get twice as much done in half the time (and I’m serious).

Some research says only about 25% of job board ads are filled.  Spending 25% of your time on those methods makes sense.  The rest of the jobs are filled before they are advertised. So if you want to get a really great job you have to look where most of the really great jobs are filled.

Most sweet jobs are filled by networking, calls to managers at companies that aren’t advertising, recruiters, and getting famous.  I’ll be talking about these methods in a few days.

People tend to use a resource until they can’t squeeze anything more out of it. If you have access to more resources, use all of them at once. The more you use a resource like Indeed, the less useful it becomes because you’re looking at all the same jobs that were on there before.

Split up your time between your resources. It lets you get the best of each.

In the same vein, split time between days/weeks. It gets you the top each time. This is particularly useful with online job boards.

 

Something To Do Today

Try something new to look for a job. Use new job boards (easy), or start calling up businesses that you’re interested in working at. Don’t bother with whether or not they say online that they’re hiring. Most jobs aren’t being advertised online.

I don’t have enough time!

The average person requires 8 hours of sleep. That same person (probably) works 8 hours per day. The last 8 hours of their day are filled with Facebook intermixed with eating.

Time is your scarcest resource. Every minute you use or waste is gone. You can’t save time and use it later. The next hour is gone in 60 minutes, regardless of what you do.

There’s very little time, so use it the best you can. Six hours of sleep severely hurts productivity in the rest of the day. Get your 8 hours. Some people need more. Less than 1 of out 100 can manage on less than 8.

“How did she get so much done??”

She didn’t waste time. I’ll admit I spend time browsing the interwebs while at work.  Not a great use of my time. There are also “productive” time wasters that I tend to get stuck on. I’ll list a few of them here.

  1. Email

I love checking and cleaning out my email. It’s a huge waste of time to keep doing it. A good practice is to check your email at SPECIFIC times each day.

  1. Checking statistics or metrics

I like checking the response and open rates on emails I send WAY too much. I can stare at them for 15 minutes easy without learning anything new or useful. Don’t check unless you’re going to do something with the information.

  1. Waiting for responses

“I’m waiting to hear back from my boss” so you should do something else that’s productive in the meantime.

There are a lot more time wasters disguised as useful because they’re work related. Think for a second: is what you’re doing really that important and useful? People who get important things done get raises.

Something To Do Today

Write down everything you need to do. Not necessarily needs done today, but if you’ve put it off, needs done this week, or more. Break down any larger projects into multiple items that can be done in less than a day. This is everything you could do during work today.

Write five things from that list that need done down on a separate, full size sheet of paper, in order that they need done the most. Stick that paper in the middle of your desk. Bonus points if you tape it in place.

This isn’t just a To Do list. Don’t work on that list out of order. Start with the first item, and don’t work on anything else until you finish. You’re only allowed to work in order.

Office Politics and Networking

Cat fights are petty and mean. Stay in the game, and build a network instead

Office drama: it’s like high school, but with smarter people and thousands of dollars on the line.

There’s someone in the office (say, Joe) that you need to stay on his good side if you want your projects to go through. Joe has connections beyond what you have, and that enables him to do a lot.

Important people have lots of connections

Joe can be frustrating, especially if he doesn’t like you. His boss gave him the power to make these decisions. The CEO of a company can’t make every decision, so he finds good people to make decisions. When they get overwhelmed, they get someone they trust to make some decisions for them. Each layer must trust the lower layer to make good choices.

Joe knows enough people to delay the project. He either directly controls the project or has the influence to get it delayed, or to push certain projects through.  People like him know the most people, the most projects and information, and the priorities of the higher-ups. That’s how they got into that position.

Their boss believes they will try and do what’s best for the company

Doesn’t always work out like that. Other times, either decision is equally good, so the deal breaker is whether they like you.

Anyone in a position like Joe is has a powerful network. They know the right people in the company, and those people like him well enough. Generally, they also control a limited resource. There isn’t enough of something, so they have to make decisions on what does or doesn’t make the cut.

Not enough sales space? Not enough programmers? Money? Lack creates critical people because they have control over something essential and have to make decisions on what gets cut.

Important people control limited resources like money or workers

Everyone in the business needs what Joe has because there isn’t enough to go around. Joe ends up as the center of the network.

There are several things to learn from these people.

  1. Controlling scarce resources gives you power
  2. Dealing with that power can get you entrenched, promoted or fired
  3. You always control one scarce resource, your time

Your time might be the scarce resource. If it is, use it wisely. The system changes wherever you work, what department you work in, and more. Create a network and it can enable you to get your projects done better and faster.

As you learn the politics, it you can learn who you need to worry about and avoid. Networks and politics are nearly the same, but politics is where personal grudges get involved. Stay out of the mess and build a network. Get to know the important people. Ask what you can do for them, so they will trust you.

Something To Do Today

If you dare, ask around about politics in your current job. Who runs the show? Who’s really in charge, even if they don’t have a title to show? Ask if you can speak to them over lunch and how they got where they are.

There’s a lot you can learn, and it can take you on your next step to a promotion.
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Sorry for the late post! Got busy rebuilding the PC. I’ll be posting again tomorrow, back on schedule.

Reading for –dummies– people with too little time

My tagline is “the more I work on me, the better my life gets” and the best way to work on yourself is reading books.

In school, I’d always feel guilty if I skipped part of the reading. Summaries are all online nowadays to make things worse. Teachers always tell you to read the whole book. Often, they’re wrong.

In a college class I only needed to get two answers right on an extra credit test about a book to convert my grade to a solid “A”. There were 10 questions.

I picked up the book and looked at the cover.
That was everything I needed to read.

I realized I had heard a review of the book and its contrarian theme the week before. I decided to take the test without ever opening the book. I got 6 questions right. It was an easy “A”.

Did I cheat? No! I knew the important part: the author’s bias. I knew his opinion in advance of reading anything. There wasn’t much I needed to know from the book. Only two questions and I got what I wanted. I didn’t even need the “Cliff Notes” version.

You’re out of school. You don’t need to get a perfect score on every test. I’ve heard that you only use 10% of what you learn in college, but you don’t know what that 10% is going to be. That’s why you read the whole book in college.

In the real world, read that 10% (maybe 15% if you want to make sure) and barely skim the rest so you can find it in the future if needed.

Easy 1-2-3-4 to read as much of a book as you actually need

  1. Start with the front and back cover. Is this in an area you really need to learn more about? Read the intro if the book has one. It’ll give you a better idea of what you’d be diving into.
  2. Onto the table of contents. What chapters are useful, especially for the current situation?
  3. Try reading the first and last page (or even paragraph) of every chapter that you’re unsure is useful. Look at any charts, graphs, or other images.
  4. Only read the short list of chapters that you’ll learn the most from. Cutting out half a book is common, especially if you’re well versed in the larger subject area.

“But Bryan, I just don’t have time! Even for that!”

 Me either. So, buy audiobook versions of your books. Then listen to them in the car while you drive. You can’t trim out as much but hearing it in passing isn’t going to hurt if you weren’t using that time already. There is so much time available! Get reading in while you’re driving.

Train yourself. Over the decades, I’ve spent well over $15,000 on training books and videos. That’s before the at least $50,000 I’ve spent on live training. I have no doubt they’re the only reason I’m still in business as a recruiter.

You don’t need a lot from a book. One page, one line. One little idea is all it takes for you to learn enough for a raise or a new job. If you run your own business, one idea can make you millions. You only need to find that one idea.

Admittedly, sometimes that idea is to read the whole book! And maybe several more. It can take a lot to learn a new skill, but it can make you a lot of money in return.

Something To Do Today

 Go find a book related to something you’ve wanted to learn more about. Scan through it like I said. If it’s the one you want, get it as an audiobook and listen to it every day as you travel to and from work.

Working doesn’t make you successful. Working on yourself makes you successful.

Quit or be fired?

“You can’t fire me, I quit!” Why yes, you did just quit. You also just quit your chances at unemployment checks while searching for a job.

Get fired with enthusiasm instead.

People have this idea in their head that by quitting, it will look better for potential future employers. They will still call up your old company and hear about why you got fired (or rather, were going to get fired). No one’s going to say “He resigned right before we fired him” and it wouldn’t make a difference anyway.

 NO ONE cares if you quit instead of getting fired.

Between jobs, most people end up strapped for cash. It ends up pushing them to accept a worse job than they want. Quitting removes their chance at getting an unemployment check without going to a hearing to explain why they deserve them. A little extra cash can go a long way. No one cares if you quit. It only keeps you from getting unemployment.

Get fired with enthusiasm. It pays better than quitting with enthusiasm.
There is no real benefit to quitting. None!

 Quick exception: if you can get a sweet severance package, do it. Try to get in writing that you’ll receive a big fat wad of cash with benefits. In this case, get a lawyer. A few hundred dollars will go a long way to make sure you’re getting what you’re promised. It will be money well spent.

Get fired with enthusiasm. Please.

To get past all of this, get a job lined up before quitting. “I’m good enough, I’ll find a job right away” said everyone who quit. And 6 months later, they’re hired by the local McDonald’s. Check out your non-compete if you have one, first (hint: avoid one at your next job!). Try contacting people you know who could help you find an opening. Get your resume out there, and contact a recruiter.

Something To Do Today

Do you expect to be fired or laid off?  Start searching for a job now.
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Short one today, hope you have a great weekend!