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!