Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Are You Your Own Worst Job-Search Enemy?

What is your
job-search attitude?
Yes, the job market is still tough. Yes, you have been unemployed too long. But you may be making it tougher on yourself through negative behavior. For example, do you
  • Have a bad attitude?
  • Make excuses?
  • Blame the economy or others for your unemployment?
  • Avoid networking?
  • Put minimal time and effort into your job search?
  • Procrastinate?
  • Lack follow through?
  • Give up?
If these behaviors sound like you, you could be your own worst job search enemy. Of course being shy or introverted may hinder your job search, but you also have job search strengths. So shyness or introversion alone doesn't have to hold back your job hunt.

Shaking the Job-Search Blues

Here are a few suggestions for shaking job-search negativity:

  • Change your attitude by associating with positive people, joining a supportive job club, reading uplifting material, and listing your strengths and accomplishments.
  • Start moving. Even a short walk will lift your spirits.
  • Get connected. Volunteer, meet with colleagues and friends, and help others. You will feel better for it.
  • Begin something new. You have the time, so start a blog, learn new skills, or take on a project around the house or for personal improvement.
  • Understand that job searching is a process; it takes time and work. A job may be around the corner, so you must persevere and follow up with contacts and employers.
  • Take daily job-hunt action and find someone who can help you stay accountable to move forward.
  • Know that rejection and lack of response are part of the employment-search process.


Keeping Positive for a Bright Future

It’s easy to develop negative job-search behaviors. But stay aware and don’t let feeling down keep you down. You may be shy or introverted, but you can be positive and take action for your exciting future ahead.

How do you keep a good attitude during a job search? What can you do to lift yourself up in the face of job-search rejection? Please offer your ideas and thoughts.

Friday, August 23, 2013

How to Stop a Downward Spiral When Unemployed

Shy Job Seeker Blog: Avoid Downward Spiral When Unemployed
Avoid a downward spiral
when unemployed.

If you’ve been unemployed for a while, you know a long job hunt can cause you to lose what little confidence you may have had. You may also lose optimism, motivation, hope, and energy.

As an introverted person, you need quiet time and alone time to recharge. But when you are jobless, those activities can lead to isolation if you are not careful.

As the job rejections pile up, keep these tips in mind for stopping a downward spiral:

  • Have a plan. Create a plan with target jobs, target employers, goals, and accountability.
  • Have successes. Connect with someone new, find parttime work, volunteer, and improve your skills.
  • Find support. Reach out to people who will encourage you, listen, and help you stay positive.
  • Find outlets. Exercise, journal, meditate, and get outdoors.
  • Get help. Visit your local American Job Center for free services sponsored by Uncle Sam. You can usually obtain career guidance, resume help, labor market information, and more at these centers.

Remember: You are so much more than unemployed. Don’t let unemployment define you. Avoid a downward spiral and keep doing your footwork. You will eventually find a job.

What suggestions can you share for steering clear of a downward spiral while unemployed?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Be a Proactive Job Seeker and Hit the Job Jackpot

Shy Job Seeker Blog: Map Out a Proactive Job Hunt Strategy
Map out a proactive job hunt strategy.
As a shy or introverted job seeker, you find it very comfortable to sit at home and apply for job after job online.


The Insidious Part of Relying on Online Job Applications

But focusing on online job applications as the main part of your job search can be insidious: You think you are accomplishing a great deal, but you really are not. You think you are taking action, but you are most likely spinning your wheels and not moving your employment search forward.

People often say they feel as if their online applications go into a black hole. Most applicants get no acknowledgment, no response, and certainly no phone call for a job interview. Perhaps you are feeling the same. Every time you hit SEND, you are transmitting your resume to a virtual trash bin. This method of job hunting is no different than in the past when job hunters would mail hundreds of resumes in the hopes of hitting the job jackpot.

How then, are you supposed to find a job? You have quite a bit going for you as an introvert or as a shy person. You can do well at the following parts of the job search because they take thinking, planning, and writing skills, at which many introverts excel. These aspects of job hunting are also proactive, which means you are taking action rather than passively applying for job after job with no plan or strategy.


Kick Your Job Hunt into Proactive Mode

So kick your employment search into proactive mode by doing the following:
  • Get organized. Think about what you want to do for your next job, what your top skills are, what you can offer an employer, and how you can get the job you want. Jot down your ideas; consider making an outline or diagramming out your thoughts. Then create a schedule with proactive job search work you’ll do every day, such as reaching out to networking contacts, looking for suitable job openings and contacting employers before blindly sending resumes, and writing or calling  employers you admire even if they aren’t advertising jobs.
  • Create a superb resume and cover letter. Make sure your job search materials and correspondence brim with skills, accomplishments, and details on how you can best help employers fulfill their needs and grow. Write to your audience—the potential employer. Remember this is not about you; it’s about how you can solve employer problems and help them achieve goals.
  • Do your research. Make a list of ideal employers, what they want, want they need, and how you can help them grow. Find this information in newspapers, company websites, social media, trade publications, blogs, and through online research. Perhaps you know someone who works for the organization and can provide firsthand insight.
  • Do soft networking. Networking can be tough for shy and introverted job seekers. So if it’s difficult to call people you don’t know, try email and snail mail. Or perhaps someone can introduce you to an employer of interest so you aren’t making a cold call. Networking through LinkedIn and social networks can also be effective.
  • Prove just one point in the job interview. When you meet with an employer, be sure to keep one point in mind. You must prove you can do the job, do it well, and do it better than anyone else the employer will interview. So focus on that point by giving example after example of how you will solve the employer’s problem. Preparation and rehearsal are key to job interview success.
  • Follow up. Be sure to send thank-you notes and to follow up after interviews.
Although being shy or introverted makes job searching a challenge, by taking a proactive approach you will soon hit that job jackpot!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tooting Your Own Horn As a Shy Job Seeker

When looking for a job, it’s important to know your skills and how you can best use them. It’s equally important to be able to communicate your abilities to employers and to prove you can excel at the job.

Shy Job Seeker Blog: Toot Your Own Horn
Learn to toot your own horn
while job searching.

You Don’t Want to Brag

When you are shy or introverted, you may think that presenting yourself as skilled, accomplished, and capable will sound like bragging. In addition, it may be your nature to downplay your strengths, to attribute your accomplishments to luck and to others, and to not speak up when you need to stand out.

Holding Back Will Hurt You, So Use These Horn-Tooting Tips

Restraining yourself will hold you back in your job search and career. Here are some tips on how to toot your own horn during the job hunt. This advice applies to all job search communication, including resumes, cover letters, emails, phone calls, and interviews.
  • Sharpen your skills language. Rev up ho-hum descriptions of yourself so potential employers understand what you will bring to the job. For example, instead of saying “I can do data entry in your accounting software,” say “I can manage all aspects of your accounting software quickly and accurately. You won’t have to worry about your accounting and data entry again.” Not only are you telling employers what you can do, you are explaining the benefits to them as well.
  • Don’t think of it as persuasion. If you use sharp, action-based, and results-oriented wording to describe yourself and what you bring to the table, you won’t need to cajole a potential employer into hiring you. So instead of saying “I can do receiving at your warehouse,” say “I can unload a large volume of freight quickly and safely, accurately record the items received, and immediately flag discrepancies.” The right employer will be eager to get you on board.
  • Know you are telling the truth. If you are worried about sounding like a braggart, remind yourself you simply are being truthful.
  • Understand the difference between bragging and explaining. The following sounds like bragging: “I was awesome at my last job.” This sounds like explaining: “I completed every project on time and under budget.”
  • Let others speak for you. Use strong references, present compelling letters of recommendation, and add endorsements from others to your cover letter or resume.

Your Work Won’t Always Speak for Itself

Remember, your work won’t always speak for itself. Busy employers need help in seeing just how perfect you are for the job. So go ahead and toot your own horn in the job hunt.

What tips can you give to shy and introverted job seekers who fear tooting their own horn? Please share.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Letter to Shy Young Person in Search of a Calling

Students Are on a Career PathSeveral young people I know are embarking into adulthood and careers. They do not know what they want to do with their futures. They have worked at low-paying jobs. They want more for their careers and their lives. They don't know where to start, and they are shy about asking for help. Here is my advice.

Check Out a Nearby American Job Center

First, I suggest you visit this U.S. Department of Labor site and locate the nearest comprehensive American Job Center. American Job Centers (they are called different names around the country) are supercharged unemployment offices with free job search and career services sponsored by Uncle Sam. It may help to make an appointment first, letting the center know you are a young person in need of career and job search help.

You may be able to
  • Take career assessments to learn what you are best suited for.
  • Get labor market information to discover jobs in demand now and in the future.
  • Obtain resume help.
  • Take job search and interviewing workshops to learn how to stand out to employers.
Most centers should have a career coach on site. If you can talk with one of them, all the better. Spend some time before your meeting to write down questions for the coach such as "How can I discover the right career for me?" "What career and job search help can you provide?" "What advice would you give me?" and "Do you have any programs for young people?" Any guidance is free because it's sponsored by the government.

 Consider a Career Counselor

If you want to ramp up your counseling, you may want to consider a paid career counselor. You can find a list at the National Career Development Association's website. Be sure to ask about fees ahead of time. True career counselors have degrees and experience in counseling. While the cost may seem expensive, remember we are talking about your success in the long future ahead of you.

Think About More Training and Education

You may want to consider more education, even if you don't feel like it. Consider talking to a counselor at a community college. Ask if the counselor can help you assess your career interests and provide information on in-demand careers that pay well without a lot of training. Such careers exist, and you could be working after six to twelve months of training.

Find Career Clues in Past Experiences, in Books, and Online

Look for career clues in your school, work, and volunteer experiences. What did you like? What did you do well in? Perhaps some clues exist about your future career.

Spend time reading books. Many people like What Color Is Your Parachute? Go to the library and take out a career exploration book. Spending time with a career book may be very helpful.

Of course the Internet offers tons of information, some of it not so good. I suggest you try these sites:

These sites include government data on jobs, tasks, training, pay, demand, and outlook. The sites are sponsored by the federal government, so they require no registration, are offered at no charge, and are scam-free. 

Talk to Others and Try Volunteering

Then ask yourself this question: Do you know anyone in jobs that interest you? These people could be friends' parents, neighbors, and even your peers. Talk to people with different jobs to learn what they do and what kind of training they had. This step may even help you network into a job.
If a certain field interests you but you aren't sure about it, try volunteering to gain work experience and to test out the career.


Expect Career Planning to Take Time--But It's Worth It 

Most people spend more time playing video games and reading Facebook than they do planning their careers. Career planning is a process, so you should expect it to take some time.
Feeling shy about talking to people about your future? Don't be! Most individuals are happy to help sincere young people seeking advice.
Make an effort to find the right path, even in your shyness. The prize will be a career you love, and that will make a huge difference in your life.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

6 Steps Help Introverted Job Seekers Prepare for Phone Calls

Shy Job Seeker Blog: Prepare for Phone Calls in Six Steps
Prepare for job search phone
calls in six steps.
Making phone calls can be difficult for introverted and shy job hunters, especially if you are calling people you do not know and asking them for something.

In the job search, that "something" can be a job lead, an interview, the status of your job application, a meeting, a connection to another person, the status of a job opening, whether an employer needs more information about you, or whether you are still being considered for a job.


Making Calls Can Be Scary

Calling employers, networking contacts, headhunters, and others is probably one of the most difficult parts of a job hunt for introverts and shy individuals. If it is a cold call--one where the other person is not expecting your call--the situation can be even scarier for you.

Calls can be easier if you are returning a call, but some challenges remain for introverts who are frightened by the prospect of connecting with a mysterious and perhaps gruff or uncommunicative person on the other side of the line. We don't want to bother the person! We don't know how he or she will respond to us! We are not sure we can think fast enough on our feet! We might get tongue-tied or forget what to say!
Not making these calls, however, can stymie your job search in a major way. E-mails can help bridge the gap somewhat, but often it's best to pick up the phone and make that call. This is especially true because most online job applications never make it to a hiring manager's desk and because networking is still the best way to find a job.

Six Steps to Prepare for Job Search Phones Calls

Here are six steps that introverted and shy job seekers can use to make important job search phone calls:
  1. Decide on the goal for your call. This focus will keep you from worrying about anything other than your purpose.
  2. Decide what you want to say. Write down what you want to say and polish your "script" until you are happy with it. Listing the key points you want to make may be better than writing a script because you will sound more natural, warm, and friendly.
  3. Practice. Memorize your script or the main points you want to make until they flow and don't sound stilted.
  4. Prepare for responses. Think about the various ways the other person might respond, and jot down how you might answer back. You are essentially role-playing the call. Consider how you might respond to a hurried, unprofessional, or unfriendly person--they all unfortunately exist in business. This step can be very effective in taking the fear out of the call.
  5. Keep perspective. Remember that most calls take just a few minutes. The sooner you make the call, the sooner it's over. Most likely neither you nor the other person will remember the call in the future. I've been hired for many jobs throughout my career, and I can vaguely recall one or two conversations before I was hired. The rest of the calls are no longer in my memory bank.
  6. Just do it. After you've prepared for the call, just make it. Of course you may get voicemail, so be ready to leave a smooth, professional message.

One Day You'll Get a "You're Hired" Call

Phone calls usually are not easy for introverts and shy people. But in your job search, preparing with my six steps can make them go more smoothly until you get that "you're hired" call.

What tips do you have for making phone calls when you're scared? Please share!