Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tick Tock Trap: Why the Unemployed Must Manage Time for Job Search Success

By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog 

Tick Top Trap: Manage Time for Job Search Success [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Manage your time for job search success!
If you are unemployed, managing your time may not be a priority. After all, your time isn’t consumed by a job and everything that goes along with it: dressing for work, packing up your electronics and other items, and commuting. For many people, even a normal 8-hour workday can take 10 or 12 or more hours when you add up all the tasks needed to get to work and back. So without a job, why worry about time? You may feel you have hours and hours to spare.

Well, without a time-management plan, the hours you should spend job searching can get gobbled up by errands, chores, TV, video games, the Internet, and naps. As an introverted or shy individual, you most likely enjoy time to yourself and, in fact, need lots of quiet time to recharge. So having endless time to yourself can be especially appealing. If you live alone or if others in your household are at work and school, you can read, journal, think, sip tea, and meditate for hours—all wonderfully refreshing activities for introverts. But beware of lulling yourself into a comfortable time-wasting pattern if you want to get reemployed. Remember the clock is ticking from the moment you become unemployed; research shows that employers shun job seekers who are out of work for a long time.

Here are 3 tips to consider for making the most of your day and for getting hired sooner rather than later. 
  1. Don't delay. Start vigorously looking for a job as soon as you become unemployed. Today's average job search takes a long time, so procrastination or half-hearted job seeking will stretch finances, diminish job skills and soft skills, weaken your network, and bring great frustration.
  2. Stay focused on your number one job. Your main job is to get hired. Create a daily job search schedule and protect it from distractions and intrusions. It also helps to be accountable to someone for your job search time, effort, and results.
  3. Be proactive. Use workday hours to network, to contact employers of interest, to attend professional association meetings, to research opportunities, to practice interviewing, to volunteer, to participate in a job club, to follow up on job leads, and to improve work skills and job search skills. Focus on these active job hunt methods, and not just on applying for jobs online.
Remember, the clock for getting rehired is ticking! Use evenings and weekends for your quiet time and for your introverted pursuits. But structure the work day to get back to work as soon as possible.

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, December 6, 2013

Job Hunting? Don't Take a Holiday Breather!

By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog

Keep Up Your Job Search in December to Get Hired in January [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Keep up your job search
in December--Santa may bring
you a new job in January!

Job seekers who slow down their employment search during the holidays miss a great opportunity to be first in the January hiring line. Here are some hints to help even the shyest or most introverted job seeker keep a job hunt alive and well in December:
  • Keep applying for jobs and following up. You may be first in the hiring line because competing job seekers took time off. 
  • Attend a holiday business event. You will network with new people who may be in a helpful holiday spirit. 
  • Thank people who helped you in your job search during the year. Take them for coffee, and you may gain leads and support that will reinvigorate your search.
  • Volunteer. Many charity events at this time of year are one-time commitments. You will be helping others and adding something new to your resume. Perhaps you will learn a new skill.
  • Spruce up your self-image. Job searching can be depressing, but don't let it define you. Find ways to improve your self-image through positive people, activities, and books. 
  • Resolve to learn about active job searching. Join a job club and take job search workshops at your local One-Stop Career Center/American Job Center.
Job seekers who avoid stagnating in December may be the ones who get new jobs faster in the new year! Do you have any holiday hints for job hunters?

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Overwhelmed by Job Search Advice? Here Are the Best Tips.

By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog

Job search advice abounds, to the point of being overwhelming. Here are my best tips to keep you focused:
  • Make a list of your top skills and stress them in every part of your job search. It's easy to take your skills for granted, but employers need to know what you can do.
  • Create a job search schedule and stick to it. You will increase your chances of
    Stay focused on your job search to get hired faster!
    getting hired faster.
  • Build your job search network through former co-workers, volunteer activities, professional associations, online sites like LinkedIn, and friends. Tell network contacts that you are looking for a job, and briefly describe your skills. Ask if they know of suitable openings, possible employers, and other contacts.
  • Use more than one job search method for the best success—network in person and online, attend job fairs, respond to ads, and call potential employers directly. These methods will help you uncover both advertised and unadvertised jobs. Don’t just apply for jobs online and think you are doing all you can do.
  • Keep up and enhance your job skills through classes, workshops, reading, trying new things, and volunteering.
  • Target employers who hire people with your skills and who are growing. You can search for employers by industry, occupation, and location at this site from the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Become an insider at your target organizations: freelance, consult, volunteer, intern, mentor, ask for a tour, work part-time, or request an informational interview.
  • Learn about the job search resources and help available at a One-Stop Career Center/American Job Center. It’s no longer just the unemployment office.
  • Develop a positive, 30-second introduction that mentions your skills and your desired job. Use the introduction when you meet new people, network, and call for interviews.
  • Treat job fairs like job interviews. Dress professionally, bring copies of your resume, and know your top skills.
  • If networking is intimidating, think of it as asking for information or as requesting a meeting to learn more about a company.
Even the shyest and most introverted job hunters will find success if they take these points to heart and take action!

Image courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, November 15, 2013

Afraid You'll Be Forgotten? Follow Up in Your Job Search to Get Hired!

Follow up is an often overlooked part of a job search. You may be so focused on sending resumes that you neglect to follow up with people who help you, show interest in you, and interview you. Here are a few follow-up reminders. Most of these actions are easy for even the shyest and most introverted job
Follow Up in Your Job Search to Get Hired [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Follow up in your job search to
stand out and get hired.

  • Send a thank-you note via e-mail or regular mail to everyone who helps you in your job search and to everyone who interviews you for a job.
  • Be sure to follow up with employers after interviews. Ask about next steps and any other questions they may have. Express strong interest in the job. If you want the job, say so! If you feel intimidated by the idea of making this phone call, write a script and practice it until it sounds natural. Then take a deep breath and make the call.
  • Record all follow-up actions and appointments on your calendar or smartphone. If you promise to send an employer your references or examples from your portfolio, for example, be sure to do so. If you promise to take someone out to lunch for helping with your resume, don’t forget to do it. (I am still waiting for a few lunches.)
  • During an extended job search, consider recontacting potential employers and others in your network. They may know of new opportunities.
Following up may mean the difference between getting a job and not getting one. Following up will help employers remember you over the competition. Employers view candidates who follow up as more assertive, more energetic, and more on the ball! And it’s so easy!

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Only Unemployment Rate That Matters

The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases
national unemployment data once a month.
On the first Friday of the month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, releases its latest unemployment data. The nation’s unemployment rate now stands at 7.3%.

So what does the unemployment rate mean to you? NOTHING. The only unemployment rate that matters is YOURS. When you get hired, your unemployment rate will be 0%. Zero. Zilch.

A high national unemployment causes many job seekers to throw up their hands and wonder if it’s worth putting the time and effort into a job hunt that won’t bring results. They hear story after story of unemployed people applying for hundreds of jobs and getting no response. Why put yourself through it, they ask? Perhaps it’s better—or at least easier—to coast on unemployment insurance for as long as it lasts, to do the minimum required amount of job searching, and to wait for the economy to improve.
That sort of thinking will trap you into long-term unemployment. The longer you are without a job, the less likely it is that employers will find you of interest, according to studies. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) is 4 million. These individuals accounted for 36 percent of the unemployed. Don’t become one of them! Your skills will atrophy, your network will fade, and your ambition to work will dwindle.
So what are you supposed to do when so many people are competing for jobs? DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. That’s right. Don’t worry about it. Here’s what to do instead:

1.     Focus on your unique skills and talents.

2.     Research and find employers who need your skills and talents.

3.     Connect with these employers.

4.     Convince these employers that you are the person they need to solve their problems, to better serve customers, to meet all their deadlines, to bring speed and accuracy to their processes, to organize their business, or whatever it is you do best.

In other words, don’t apply endlessly for jobs, even though as a shy or introverted person that’s in your comfort zone. Target employers based on how you can fill their needs and meet their demands. If you do this, you will most likely apply for fewer jobs but get more interviews and ultimately a job offer.

So stop worrying about the unemployment rate. Become a smarter job seeker. Start identifying your skills (use myskillsmyfuture.org) and learn how to actively job search (check out www.reemploymenttips.com). Get going!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

5 Ways You Are Eliminating Yourself in the Job Search

Getting noticed by employers is difficult. Yet many job seekers eliminate themselves from consideration--often before human eyes see their resume or their online application. Here are 5 ways you may be ending your hiring chances, plus what to do about it. 

5 Ways You Are Eliminating Yourself in the Job Search [Career Action Blog]
You may be eliminating
yourself in the job search
and not know it.
1.     No targeting. Are you going after any and all openings? Stop! Find the right opportunities for your skills and experience by researching careers with the Occupational Outlook Handbook or mySkillsmyFuture.org.

2.     No tailoring. Customizing a resume to match job openings is quick and smart. In many cases, all you need to do is change a few words to match an ad or rearrange details to highlight an employer’s desired qualifications. Make it easy for employers to see how you suit their needs.

3.     No keywords. If a resume or application does not contain the right industry- or job-specific words, it won't get through automated systems. Be sure to add these keywords to your resume.

4.     No attention to detail. Employers want to hire the best people. If your application materials are sloppy, disorganized, or have typos, they go into the trash.

5.     No human contact. When interested in a company, you need to reach out to an inside contact first or follow up with a hiring manager. An insider can pull a resume out of the pile. While I know this step is difficult when you are shy or introverted, it’s one of the biggest reasons you aren’t getting called in for interviews. So take a deep breath and make that contact, even if you do it by email first.

Go the extra mile in your job search by taking these five actions. It will pay off with more interviews and eventually a job offer!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Don’t Lie But Don’t Be Shy: Tips for Resumes and Cover Letters

Don't be shy
on your resume!
A solid resume and cover letter are important for your job search. Notice I didn’t say they need to be perfect. Although resumes and cover letters are significant for job hunt success, please don’t agonize over them. Why? Because you’ll get hired only through job interviews. A good resume can help you get a phone call from an interested employer, but it’s unlikely that a great resume will get you hired if you flub the job interview.
As a shy or introverted job seeker, it’s likely you have strong writing and organizational skills, so your job search material probably is going to be better than average.

That said, here are a few quick but critical tips to keep in mind when writing your resume and cover letter:
  • Quantify your accomplishments and skills. Use numbers and percentages when you can.
  • Include information that shows you are problem solver who takes ownership of his or her work.
  • Do more than one version of your resume. Don’t make employers guess how your skills fit their needs. Take the time to tailor your resume to each job opening and target job.
  • Include key words from job ads to help automated systems find you.
  • Keep your resume current. Volunteer, take classes, freelance, consult, find part-time work, blog, learn social media, and do anything else you can to enhance your job skills.
  • Don’t lie but don’t be shy. Tell the truth on your resume, but now is not the time to underplay your accomplishments and skills.
  • Avoid listing references on your resume. Instead, add a brief endorsements section to your resume. These endorsements can be quotes from people who love your work, such as comments that others have published about you on LinkedIn or quotes from past job reviews.
  • Proofread your job search correspondence. Don’t rely on spell-check. Ask a detail-oriented friend to proofread your resume as well.
  • Be as concise as possible. I think it’s OK to have a two-page resume, but make sure it’s easy to read. I’d avoid more than two pages because hiring managers have very little time.
  • In cover letters, be sure to go beyond “my resume is enclosed.” Summarize how your key skills fit the employer’s needs to catch attention.
  • Include an action-oriented ending in your cover letters by saying how and when you will follow up.
A good cover letter and resume are the pillars of any job search, especially because you will be applying for jobs online and will need to be chosen by automated systems as a first step in the hiring process. But once human eyes see your job search materials, proving that you have the background to get the job done is all you need to do to get to the next step: the job interview!

Friday, October 18, 2013

How to Leave a Professional Voicemail in Your Job Search

How to Leave Professional Voicemail in Your Job Search--Career Action Blog
Leave a professional
in your job search!
I’m always amazed by the poor voicemail messages left by many professional people. Here are examples of the errors people make when leaving voicemail messages:
  • Not speaking clearly
  • Speaking too quickly
  • Not properly identifying themselves by name and (if applicable) by organization
  • Not stating the reason for their call
  • Not leaving a phone number with area code
  • Not stating the best time to call back
  • Being unprofessional in tone and approach

These mistakes cause many problems by making it difficult for the person you called to
  • Know who you are
  • Understand why you called
  • Discern how and when to get back to you
  • Prioritize a return call amid other demands of the day
  • Prepare for a return call by having the necessary information or an appropriate response at hand
  • Regard you as a professional

So why do people leave bad voicemail messages? Perhaps they are rushed, are trying to multitask, are nervous, are taken off guard by needing to leave a message, or are not clear about the purpose of their call. They do not put themselves in the other person’s shoes and realize just how busy he or she may be. The person you called may get many voicemails. The person isn’t waiting for your call and doesn’t always know who you are. A lack of clarity and detail in your voicemail may confuse the person you are calling or result in the call not being returned.

As a shy or introverted job seeker, your inclination when needing to leave a voicemail message is to get it over with quickly. So you may be prone to speaking quickly, not leaving all the needed information for a person to return your call, and sounding unprofessional. When you are leaving a voicemail as part of your job search, you may kill your chances of getting hired if you aren’t clear and professional.

To leave good voicemail messages during your job hunt, whether to a hiring manager, human resources person, networking contact, and others, always be prepared and take the following steps:

1. Think through the purpose of your call. Are you following up on a resume? Are you returning a call to set up an interview? Are you trying to set up an informational interview? Jot down the reason for your call. You may wish to write a little script to help with nervousness.

2. Decide how you want to identify yourself. Is your name alone sufficient? Consider adding information, such as “I am the job candidate you called this morning” or “I am Joe Smith’s colleague, and he suggested I call about your job opening for an accountant.”

3. Think about how and when the person can best reach you. Leave your phone number, including area code, and state the best times to call back. You may also state that you will follow up the voicemail with an email if you have the person’s email address.

4. Practice three scenarios before making the call. First scenario: What will you say if the person answers? Second scenario: What will you say if you get voicemail instead? Third scenario: What will you say if someone else answers the phone?

5. Get ready to make the call. Calm any jitters by breathing deeply, getting to a quiet location to avoid background noise and distractions, having your purpose in mind, gathering any notes and a pen, and remembering to sound upbeat and professional. All of these points will help to allay your shyness or introversion.

6. Then call!

If you follow the above steps, I know you will leave great voicemail messages and make a good impression. You will have a leg up on other job seekers.

What if the person doesn’t return your voicemail? Swallow your fear and try again! Also send a follow-up email if you have the person’s email address.

What tips do you have for leaving good voicemails? Please let me know.

Friday, October 4, 2013

When Job Searching Stalls

As jobless days drag on, you are probably feeling desperate and hopeless. Here are three quick ways to get back on track in your job hunt.
When Job Searching Stalls [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Have no idea how to get your
job search back on track?

1.     Create a job search schedule. Be honest. Is job searching your top priority? Are you using your time wisely to reach out to employers, to keep your skills up to date, and to find ways to stay motivated? Or are you cleaning the house, running errands, and watching TV or surfing the Web? Create a daily job search schedule to get back on track. The more time you put into your job hunt, the more likely you are to get interviews and get hired.

2.     Pinpoint your top skills--and then contact employers who need those skills. What are your best skills? How can your skills help employers? Once you know your best skills, it’s easier to contact companies and describe how you can benefit the business: “Mr./Ms. Employer, Here's what I can do for you.” Introverts have many special strengths that employers value, including attention to detail, good writing skills, patience, and strong thinking skills.

3.     Take advantage of free job search services.  Are you attending job search workshops at your local American Job Center? Did you graduate from a program or a college that has a career center?  Are you using the library and the Web for employer research? You may be shy or introverted, but you don’t have to go it alone.

What other ways can you put your job search in gear? Think about it and let me know!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Do You Need a Mindset Makeover for Your Job Hunt?

During the job search, many job hunters lose confidence and view themselves in a negative light. Does that sound like you? If so, here are some hints and tips to improve your mindset. 

Do You Need a Mindset Makeover for Your Job Hunt [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Do you grimace
at every job search task?

·        Talk about yourself in present tense instead of past tense. For example, say “I am an office manager,” not “I was an office manager.” 

·        Instead of calling yourself “unemployed,” refer to yourself by your desired job title.

·        List your top skills and focus on the value of these skills to employers. This point is especially true for transferable skills, such as organizing and problem solving.

·        Take daily positive action, such as calling contacts, doing employer research, building skills, and networking with employers. It will help your attitude to feel as if you are accomplishing something.

·        Get out of the house. Although sitting at home behind the computer is comfortable, especially for introverted and shy people, it won’t do much for your spirits if you do it day after day. So take a walk, have coffee with a friend, volunteer, take a class, or go to the library or to the bookstore.

·        Learn about effective job searching. Empower yourself by learning the dos and don’ts of job hunting. Follow job search blogs like mine, explore good career sites, and read job search books. You will be amazed how this information will improve your job search and your attitude.

·        Expect rejection and don’t take it personally. You won’t hear back from most employers. You may not get hired immediately. It’s today’s reality. Expect it and keep going.

Because today’s job search is likely to be long, don’t let a negative mindset take hold. Take action and inoculate yourself against disappointment and a bad attitude. You eventually will get hired if you keep doing your footwork and stay positive.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How Accountability Can Help Your Job Search

Job searching is a solitary pursuit. Most job hunters sit at a computer, hammer out a resume, and then apply for openings. After a while, when you don’t hear back from employers, you may slow your search, apply for fewer jobs, and go through the motions. After all, who really knows what you are doing?
Being accountable to someone can help your job search [Career Action Blog]
Being accountable to someone
can help your job search.
If you are receiving unemployment insurance, you most likely need to report your job-search activities. But no one is checking up on you for the most part. Job searching can become so passive that you almost forget its urgency.

You may get sympathy, encouragement, and expressions of concern during your employment search. People may be willing to listen to your job-search saga and nod understandingly. Such support is important and can help you feel less alone. This is especially true because you are a shy or introverted job seeker.

But if you are having difficulty maintaining a strong level of enthusiasm and activity in your job hunt, you may need to become accountable to someone. Accountability works in other situations. For example, people lose weight in programs like Weight Watchers. Being accountable to a boss keeps many workers performing at a high level. So accountability can help you become a better job seeker.

Here’s how it works: You find someone to talk with regularly to review your job-search activities and progress. Ideally this person listens and gives support but also offers feedback and questions such as these: Did you follow up with Employer X? How many hours did you put into your job search this week? Did you make a networking contact for Employer Y? Did you apply for a job with the new company in town? Did you call the company that interests you? Knowing you need to report your progress to someone puts the onus for action on you; your accountability partner may not need to ask you many questions in the end.

So how do you find a person to be accountable to in your job hunt? Think about someone who knows you fairly well and who is not afraid to speak the truth. Perhaps this is a friend, a relative, or a past co-worker or boss. Ask this person if he or she could help you in your job search by regularly listening to your job-search updates and offering you feedback. Make it clear that you want to be challenged to do your best in your job hunt. You do not want the other person simply to agree with your difficulties. You want him or her to keep you on your toes about your job-search progress.

Offer to buy this person coffee once a week for a month as you kick your job search into high gear. To respect the time of a busy person, make it clear you need just 15 or 20 minutes and could do the update by phone if needed. Also give the accountability relationship a time limit of one month to make it easier for the other person to agree. If things go well, you will get hired within those 30 days. Offer to help the person in some way in the future.

By being accountable to someone in your employment search, you are more likely to be proactive and make progress. Let me know how it goes.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Liven Up Your Cover Letter by Appealing to Employer Needs--Part 2

Shy Job Seeker Blog--Appeal to Employer Needs in Your Cover Letter
Appeal to an employer's needs
in your cover letter.
In the preceding post, I discussed the importance of writing a cover letter that appeals to employer needs and wants. By taking this approach, you will stand out, which is especially important because you are shy or introverted.

After you craft a personalized opener and a benefit-oriented first paragraph as described previously, you are ready for the second paragraph of your cover letter. This paragraph should summarize the skills, experience, education, and traits you will bring to the particular job. This paragraph of your cover letter, like the initial paragraph, should be slanted toward the benefits you will bring to the employer. In other words, while the information is about you, it should relate to how it will help the employer function and flourish.

Here is an example of a strong second paragraph in a cover letter written for an editorial job with a nonprofit organization: “With six years of diverse editorial experience in a nonprofit organization, I offer proven writing and editing skills plus have great sensitivity to communication efforts that are part of a unique mission like yours.” Notice how the job applicant ties his background to the employer’s focus. Rather than simply say, “I have six years of editorial experience,” the job candidate takes it a step further by connecting to the employer’s needs. Not only does the applicant possess the needed skills for the job, his skills are proven and are an ideal fit for the organization. What hiring manager wouldn’t call the candidate for an interview?

Here’s a little secret: Employers want to hire you. They want to find the right person. They don’t want to spend weeks and months wading through resumes and interviewing people. If you seem like a good fit, an employer is rooting for you to prove it and to not screw up during the application and hiring process.

The final paragraph of your cover letter should focus on a strong, action-oriented closing. So, write something like this: “I am eager to talk with you soon to learn more about your needs. I will follow up with you next week to set up a time to meet.” With this cover letter closing, you are not being passive or hoping the employer will contact you. You are expressing your eagerness to learn more about the opportunity, so much so that you will contact the employer to follow up. After you write this paragraph, be sure to put a date on your calendar to follow up, preferably with a phone call but email can be a first step if desired.

So stop writing boring cover letters! Connect with employers with your very first words. You will almost have them at “hello”!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Liven Up Your Cover Letter by Appealing to Employer Needs--Part 1

For many job seekers, cover letters are somewhat perfunctory, even unimportant. While job hunters may spend hours trying to write and perfect their resume, cover letters usually get little attention. And with online applications, submitting a cover letter with your resume may be optional.

Liven Up Your Cover Letter by Appealing to Employer Needs--Part 1 [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Write a great cover letter by
appealing to employer needs.
Cover letters, however, are more important than ever. Today’s job seekers need to stand out as much as possible, so you need to use every tool in your arsenal, including a great cover letter. As a shy or introverted job seeker, creating an attention-getting cover letter should be easier for you than for extroverts because of your ability to focus, to write well, and to persevere to achieve a goal.
So although other job search tasks such as cold calling employers and networking with strangers may be difficult for you, writing an impressive cover letter is in your wheelhouse. A cover letter, like all job-search material, is a marketing document.
As a former hiring manager, I’ve seen many bad cover letters. The worst ones usually start this way: “To Whom It May Concern.” Stop. Right. There. So many things are wrong with this opener. It’s archaic, stuffy, impersonal, and unfriendly. If you know the name of the person who will read your cover letter, then use it. Sometimes you can learn the person’s name through a networking contact or by making a quick phone call and saying something like this: “I am applying for your accountant opening, and I want to address the correct person in my cover letter. How do you spell the hiring manager's name?” Although this approach may not always get you a name, on occasion it might. If you can’t obtain a name, use something friendlier for your opening, such as “Good Morning.”
Warning: If you are modifying a cover letter you used for another application, be sure to change things like the addressee’s name and company name. I’ve seen too many cover letters where the sender didn’t change this information. You won’t make a good first impression if you do the same.
Next comes the opening paragraph. Most cover letters start with a variation of the following: “Enclosed is my resume for your sales associate job”; “I saw your ad for an office assistant and am applying for the position”; or “I am interested in your warehouse receiver opening and have uploaded my resume for your perusal.” What’s wrong with these openers? They are boring. They have no punch.
A stronger opening connects to employer needs. Here are some better examples: “As a call center associate with five years of experience in resolving customer problems beyond expectations, I am interested in your call center staff position.” Or, “With a passion for animals and an empathy for pet owners’ concerns, I am interested in the front desk position at your pet boarding facility.” These opening paragraphs convey a benefit to the employer and to the business.
My next blog will continue this topic and explore the other parts of a great cover letter. Come back soon!