Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Summer Is a Hot Time for Job Search Networking

By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog

The weather is warming up, and it’s time to heat up networking in your job hunt. Although some job hunters want to slow down their employment search efforts in the summer and take it easy, I don’t recommend it. Why? Summer, with all its events and activities, is a great time to meet and be with people. And people hire people. If you can sidestep some of the faceless tech
nology (such as endless online applications) in today’s job hunt, you may find yourself getting a job more quickly and easily. 
Heat Up Your Job Search Networking This Summer [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Heat up your job search networking this summer.

As introverts and shy individuals, we often find it difficult to approach people we don’t know, especially in the job search. But summer makes it easier, because gatherings are more frequent, often bigger, more informal, and often outdoors. Although you may avoid direct networking because it is intimidating, the summer often makes it more relaxed and approachable.

Take this example: At a baseball game or a wedding, the person sitting next to you casually starts a conversation about your town. She mentions that her company is expanding. You mention that you are looking for a new job. Perhaps you see a potential match and can ask your new acquaintance a little more about the potential opportunity. Before you know it, you may have a contact name and a new job lead. So easy!

To make your summer networking for a new job most effective, keep a few tips in mind:

  • Relax. Unlike traditional networking settings (conferences, for example), summer events are meant to be nothing but fun. Stay open to networking, but don’t make it the only thing on your agenda at an event. 
  • Keep business cards handy. Bring along business cards that you create just for job searching. The cards should list your name, contact information, and key skills. You don’t need to hand them out to everyone, just to people who seem interested in helping you with your job hunt or with whom you’d like to establish a professional relationship.
  • Take notes. Carry a pen to jot down the names and contact information of people you meet and with whom you want to follow up. Or be ready to record the information in your phone. 
  • Look in the mirror. Summer is a time for super-casual clothes. Just don’t look sloppy, however, because first impressions count, no matter where you are.
  • Be friendly and don’t push. Don’t try to turn every introduction into a networking episode. You may meet many people at an event, but most will not lead to job possibilities, become networking contacts, or even become friends. Smile, shake hands, trust your gut, and see where things go. 
  • Be open to helping others. Remember that networking is a two-way street. If you meet someone you can help professionally, be open to it.
  • Give it time. Most first meetings will not immediately lead to a job. Give a relationship time to build, perhaps by asking a person to meet you for coffee at another time to discuss your careers.
  • Follow up. If you do meet a person who offers to give you a job lead or introduce you to a hiring manager, be sure to follow up and thank the person.
So enjoy the summer. Let it heat up your job search networking.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Let’s Start a Mindful “Slow Job Search Movement”

Let's Start a Slow Job Search Movement [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Let's start a "slow job search movement," advocates
Susan Pines, author of the Shy Job Seeker Blog.
By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog

Many people would like to slow down. That’s why “slow movements” have caught on. I hear a great deal about “slow food,” which is a response to fast food and emphasizes locally raised food, sustainability, and eating for social connection.

“The slow movement advocates a cultural shift toward slowing down life's pace,” according to Wikipedia.

Other slow movements include slow travel, slow gardening, slow fashion, slow parenting, slow science, slow goods, and slow aging. The movements focus on mindfulness, reflection, connection, appreciation, sustainability of natural resources, green choices, and quality over quantity.

Why a Slow Job Search Movement?

“Direction is so much more important than speed. Many are going nowhere fast,” states an unattributed quote I see often on Twitter.

So I began wondering about the slow movement in relation to job searching. A slow job search is considered undesirable because it connotes a long job search. A long job search can deplete your energy, enthusiasm, skills, self-image, motivation, self-confidence, employability, and bank account.

A slow job search movement is counterintuitive because no one wants a job search to drag on. Publishers of career materials focus on quick job searching, speedy resumes, fast cover letters, finding a job in half the time, and getting hired in 30 days or less. The public workforce development system encourages laid-off individuals receiving unemployment insurance to find jobs quickly to end unemployment checks.

Still, I think slow job search movement has merit because it would build on many points that are part of other slow movements. To me, a slow job search movement encourages a better, more personalized, and more thoughtful job search that results in the best job for you.

Traits of the Slow Job Search Movement

So what are the traits of my slow job search movement? Here are some possibilities:
  • Taking time to reflect on who you are and what you want to do. Many people have general or vague ideas of what jobs suit them or what they are interested in doing. Other people have no idea what career or job to pursue. In the slow job search movement, your first step is to take time to explore and reflect on your career direction, interests, and skills before applying for jobs. How can you best develop your talents and abilities? What is important to you? How do you want to spend your workday? What don't you want to do? What work do you want to do in your one precious life? 
  • Focusing on the right job opportunities. Instead of rushing ahead and applying for as many jobs as possible, the slow job search movement encourages you to seek only the right jobs. So although you will apply for fewer jobs, you should be able to find the right one easier and with less hassle because you will be targeting jobs that suit you and fit your skills, qualifications, and ideals. You are not wasting time and energy on job openings that are unlikely to pan out or do not match your talents, values, and goals. That's great news for introverts and shy individuals as well as for all job seekers, because you aren't twisting yourself into something you are not. The irony here is that the slow job search movement may help you get a job more quickly because you’re stripping away the usual job search busyness and franticness and staying focused. 
  • Mindful job searching. The slow job search movement asks you to think about what you are doing in your job hunt and to enjoy the journey. So instead of stressing out about your job search and frantically looking for work, you slow down and consider what you are learning about yourself, what direction you are heading, and how your work can best enhance your life and the world. You stay in calm control and keep a placid perspective. You decide how to make the best use of your time in the job hunt instead of dashing in a dozen directions. The job search process becomes, dare I say, enjoyable and part of your personal development.
  • Choosing jobs that are close to home, good for the world, and not all-consuming. The slow job search movement advocates making job choices that avoid long commutes that generate pollution and suck time, that include telecommuting, that are complicit in harming the earth and its population, and that exhaust your life energy and time so you have little to give to yourself, at home, to relationships, and to your community.
  • Networking to develop relationships, make friends, support others, and do good. Networking during the job search focuses on finding job opportunities through connection with others. In the slow job search movement, networking also becomes something to savor throughout life as a relationship builder and as a conduit for getting to know and support others and finding ways to do good while doing well in your field and occupation.
  • Developing a sustainable career. By a sustainable career, I mean a career that uses your talents and skills, holds great interest for you, does not create life-disrupting stress, fits your values, is safe, and does not lead to illness or injury. It is a career you can sustain throughout your life if you so desire or for as long as you want to pursue it.
In summary, here’s how I define the slow job search movement: “The slow job search movement focuses on careers and jobs that fit and cultivate your talents, skills, interests, and values; encourages you to reflect on and enjoy the job hunt journey; advocates for work that is good and positive for yourself, the earth, and others; allows for substantial time and energy outside of work; develops community and relationships; leads to personal development; and is sustainable throughout your lifetime."

So, I’ve just started the slow job search movement. Who’s with me? Please share it and spread it! #slowjobsearch   #slowjobsearchmovement