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You Don’t Need A Time Machine To Find A New Job

September 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Still trying to find your next job in the classified section of the local newspaper? If so, then you probably fall into one of the following categories: a) You were stranded on an unchartered island for the past 10 years with a volleyball named Wilson, b) You’re rescinding all previous comments about computers being pure evil after seeing your neighbor’s new iMac, or c) You haven’t used social media platforms because you could care less what people are eating for breakfast and fear getting junk email from job search websites.

Given the technology of today, finding and applying for jobs should be quite simple. However, how to find solid job prospects without wasting time chasing random leads is the biggest hurdle for most job seekers. Many unemployed professionals spend 30 to 40 hours a week just looking for new job postings, which indicates that they don’t really know what they’re looking for and/or they lack discipline in their job search approach. I spent over a year actively seeking a dream job doing what I love (which came true this summer). During this time, I also coached 24 unemployed professionals on various aspects of job search effectiveness (21 of them landed a new position in less than eight weeks). The following summary provides a few ideas on how you can be more focused during your job search.

I. Determine Your Job Preferences

First, define one or two specific job titles/roles that match your level of education and experience. Next, identify one or two industries of which you have a strong interest. Finally, identify specific companies that you consider highly desirable places to work. Simple, right? Although it sounds easy, this process takes longer than most people anticipate. One helpful resource for this third step of the process is Glassdoor.com, a website that provides salary information, company reviews, information, CEO approval rating, competitors, etc. Another reference that can help you determine which company characteristics are important is Fortune 500’s list of the “Best Companies To Work For” (published annually). Finally, checkout the blog article section on the website PikesPeakASTD.org. The current President, Brenda Middle, just published an article about finding your strengths that may also help you prioritize your job preferences.

II. Search The Job Search Engines

With literally hundreds of job search engines to choose from, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed with the process. Discouraged too. I recommend sticking to three primary job search engines, as most of the postings are duplicated across many websites.

Job search engine Indeed.com is one of my favorites (apparent sister of SimplyHired.com, which has a different storefront but essentially the same content). This online resource compiles job postings from many sources enabling you to search listings from thousands of websites, job boards, newspapers, and career pages. You can customize your search query by industry, salary range, location, company, etc. Best of all, this website is FREE!

TheLadders.com is an excellent resource for professionals seeking jobs that pay $100,000 or more (note: not all of the listed postings are at that level of compensation). This resource also provides website extensions that are more specialized for particular industries, such SalesLadders.com, MarketingLadders.com, HRLadders.com, TechLadders.com, etc. Sign-up for a free basic account, or upgrade for around $15 to $35 per month to access detailed job descriptions. If you’re tight on cash, I suggest that you just go with a basic account. When you click on any job posting, it will immediately take you to the “upgrade now” page. However, you will see a map on the top left of the screen with the position name and (usually) company name. Free account users can then visit the company’s website to find and apply for that particular position. It takes time to go through these extra steps, but it’s a great way to find great job leads at no charge. Best of all, this website has a fantastic library of articles (such as “How To Write A Great Cover Letter”) that will help a job seeker be more effective in landing their next job.

The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) connects professionals to various job openings within their industry at jobs.ASTD.org. Training professionals can sort results by title, state, ASTD member preferred, CPLP certified, and more. Joining a local chapter (such as Pikes Peak ASTD in Colorado Springs) can also generate local job opportunities through email notifications, new postings listed on their website, and/or networking opportunities.

III. Use Social Media Platforms

Are you “linked-in” to LinkedIn.com? If not, STOP and DO NOT PASS GO until you setup a free professional profile. Use the “Help Center” of the website if you need assistance. Even better, you can register to participate on a live training session via KevinKnebl.com for only about $50. Done? Great, let’s move on… LinkedIn has a variety of job postings, many of which are exclusive to this website. A recently added feature is the option to simply click “Apply”, instantly transferring your information directly to the hiring director, HR representative, or recruiter who originally posted the job. No online questionnaire, cover letter composition, or uploading of your current resume. It’s FAST and FREE.

One warning: As you get more familiar with LinkedIn, you may join various interest groups. Most group pages have a “Jobs” tab, which is essentially a list of links where anyone with a computer can post a new position based anywhere around the globe. I strongly suggest that you avoid searching for a new job here. Most people who post jobs on group pages do not create an informative subject line. Plus, there is no way to filter job titles, location, industry, or anything else for that matter. My advice? Stick with the job postings on the official jobs page of LinkedIn.

Another option that you may have heard about is Twitter.com. Although you probably don’t have a Twitter account (nor will you need one), this is an additional avenue to discover job postings real-time. Instead of going directly to this website, however, I recommend using Twitter job search sites such as TweetMyJobs.com, TwitJobSearch.com, and/or TwitterJobCast.com. The verdict is still out on the quality level of positions posted here. Thus, only spend extra time using this approach if you find these websites to be truly beneficial.

IV. Stalk The Corporate Websites

Remember when I suggested that you identify a few highly desirable companies? With a bit more research, you should be able to name at least 50 companies that relate to your short list. From visiting their websites and speaking with people who work there (through your brand new LinkedIn network), filter your list down to your top 20. Now bookmark the job search page of every one of these websites and check them regularly (with the same frequency that you check the others mentioned above). I’m amazed at how many job postings listed on corporate websites never show up on any of the search engines. This step is very important to ensuring success with the job search. You will discover many otherwise “hidden” jobs, leading to more first interviews.

V. Keeping Track

You don’t have to spend over 30 hours a week looking for your next job. However, you do need to institute a disciplined approach. Commit to reviewing job postings for two hours, at least twice a week. If you are a night owl, the best days are Monday and Thursday nights. Or, for the early risers, Tuesday and Friday mornings are generally best. Either way, the most important part of this process is that you are consistent. Great, you now have a plan. But how do you keep track of your job search efforts? A good old-fashioned Excel spreadsheet will do the trick. For the more computer literate professional, I recommend JibberJobber.com. Trust me and check it out.

The economy isn’t great at this moment, but there are thousands of job openings in every state. You can find a new job tomorrow without using a time machine by consistently applying a focused, disciplined approach. There are many career coaches out there if you need more professional direction and attention. If so, I recommend a coaching session with Don Strankowski at AscendCareers.net, author of “New Strategies for a New Job Market.” If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me directly through the Pikes Peak Chapter of ASTD. Thank you!

To Your Success,

-Tom

Thomas Crouser, Jr.

VP Marketing/Social Media

Pikes Peak ASTD

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Dare To Soar: Inspired By Eagles

July 31, 2011 1 comment

Do you enjoy going through the routine of life? Have you ever felt like you were created for so much more? The fact is, most people just don’t know how to leverage their true potential. This blog post is the first in a series about rising above the status quo, finding passion, and increasing personal effectiveness each day…

Eagles are fascinating creatures! They stir our adrenaline and captivate our attention like no other bird in the world. When we see an eagle flying high in the sky, time just seems to stand still. These “King of Birds” overcome the law of gravity simply by stretching their wings. Next thing you know, they’re soaring effortlessly through the sky. While all other birds are busy flapping their wings trying to get from place to place, the eagles just soar through the mist of every storm.

For centuries, the eagle has been the symbol of royalty, power, and authority. Eagles are referenced at least 32 times in the Bible, and they have appeared on statues, flags, and currency for centuries. While Benjamin Franklin strongly supported the turkey, the Founding Fathers ultimately selected the Bald Eagle as the national emblem of the United States of America in 1782. The eagle also has symbolic meaning for most Native American tribes, who still perform the traditional Eagle Dance when they have a need for divine intervention.

A bald eagle.

Image via Wikipedia

Eagles are known for their strength, size, keenness of vision, and gracefulness in flight. An interesting fact is that eagles almost always feast on fresh food. Unlike a vulture, an eagle does not eat what it finds, it finds what it wants to eat! In the same way, we have to be careful when choosing what we consume (remember, we are what we eat!). Our diet has a direct impact on our strength, energy, attitude, and effectiveness. Thus, discernment for our appetite must be clear: we must hunt, find, and consume that which we most desire.

Why do we get so uncomfortable with things we haven’t experienced before? Because, at the very core of our nature, we don’t like change. Yes, I said it: we don’t like change. We spend way too much time conforming, when what we should be doing is transforming! Many of us have wings, but always seem to be flapping them all over the place. Some of us lack passion and act as if our wings were clipped. We are neither hot nor cold, and we splash around in a bird bath of lukewarm water. We want more excitement in our life, but don’t know what we are really passionate about. What do we really need to focus on? To find out, answer these two questions:

1) Each day, what do you primarily spend your time and energy on?

2) Where would you like to spend most of your time and energy each day?

How you answer question #1 will help you to identify the priorities in your life. The answer to question #2 will help you define the gap between where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow.

There is more to come in this blog series, including the topics of Eaglets, Vultures, Molting, and Soaring. If you enjoy this blog, please share it with others. I welcome your questions and appreciate your comments. Thank you!

To Your Success,

-Tom

New Year 2011: Welcome to JOBAPALOOZA!

January 5, 2011 Leave a comment

The New Year of 2011 was welcomed with open arms. Around the world, we saw fireworks explode above Sydney Harbour, watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle like a Christmas Tree, and were entertained by a dropping ball in Times Square (sponsored by Toshiba, in case you didn’t notice). 2010 was put to rest without winning the Best Year Ever award. Nor was 2010 the runner-up. I don’t think there was even a consolation prize! 2010, R.I.P.

It is true that a high unemployment rate has continued to negatively impact thousands of professionals including ourselves, our family members, and our friends. However, I have good news: the big event is almost here! Near the start of each year, the flood gates of job postings open. This fabulous event takes place in late January and includes every industry, almost every job function, and virtually every bracket of compensation. I have taken the liberty to coin a title for this grand event: JOBAPALOOZA!

Organizations freeze the publication of many new job postings late in the year primarily due to corporate budgetary constraints. All of these about-to-be-released job postings create the framework of JOBAPALOOZA. With this  exciting event comes responsibility: each and every professional conducting a job search must be completely prepared to answer the call! Included on everyone’s Job Search Effectiveness Preparation List should be:

  1. A weekly schedule with specific times blocked for conducting online job searches, networking, and follow-up;
  2. Fresh, updated resumes that are customized to specific job titles and industries;
  3. A completed LinkedIn profile that is professional, interesting, and inviting;
  4. Positive energy and enthusiasm, knowing that a new job is just around the corner;
  5. Ability to immediately respond to any employer extending the opportunity to interview;
  6. Readiness to make a high-impact, positive first impression that sticks!

That, my friends, is a start (there’s much more to it, of course). JOBAPALOOZA is going to be incredible, with MANY professionals landing that new job. This window of opportunity will last only a few short weeks, and the biggest difference between those who WILL get the job and those who WON’T will be LEVEL OF PREPARATION. So what are you going to do? Act like a Boy Scout and BE PREPARED!

To Your Success,

-Tom

 

The Joy of Job Offer Negotiation

December 4, 2010 Leave a comment

I received a call from a job search client yesterday. After hearing his question, I realized that many job search clients will need to know how to handle this situation. It went something like this, “Great news, I’m going to receive a verbal offer for the job I interviewed for last week. I’m very excited about the opportunity and will make even MORE than I did at my last job. However, the standard vacation time is two weeks and I need three. Should I try to negotiate for an extra week of vacation?

I’ve been so focused on developing content about how to FIND, APPLY TO, and INTERVIEW FOR a new job that I almost forgot to add how to NEGOTIATE favorable employment terms. As a result, I’ll be developing  “Negotiation-Acceptance-Transition” content for upcoming job search effectiveness workshops. (Side note: I’m planning to launch the complete Job Search Effectiveness training series in an on-demand video format January 1, 2011. The new website is to be located at PersonalSuccessNetwork.com. The content will focus primarily on helping professionals become much more successful in attaining their job search and career development goals).

I bet you’d like to know the answer to my client’s question. Remember that almost every answer to almost any question is SITUATIONAL. So, let us first consider the scenario: the client had been terminated from his former position as an IT Engineer about 6 months earlier. He had a total of 20 years experience with just two companies. The new job responsibilities would align nicely with his skills and experience, PLUS the client would be working for a highly desirable company. The hiring manager at this new company informed him that a formal job offer would be coming within 24 hours. During the short conversation, the hiring manager also indicated that two weeks of vacation was one of the many standard benefits.

Now what? Should my client attempt to negotiate for one extra week of vacation? My “off-the-cuff” response was a very firm YES! Are you surprised by my response? The key to being successful in this situation lies in HOW my client negotiates for the extra week of vacation. Since my client was presently out of a job, he was less leveraged than had he been employed. If he is too AGGRESSIVE with attempting to gain the extra week of vacation, he  will certainly jeopardize the job offer. However, there’s nothing wrong with my client being ASSERTIVE with his request (while simultaneously expressing his gratitude).

My recommendation? During the official verbal-offer phone call, he should first express his excitement and appreciation. Next, he needs to acknowledge the two-week standard vacation policy and politely mention that his former employers allocated three weeks to him each year. Thus, to continue with his family tradition, could he somehow earn the additional days during the upcoming year?  Even if the answer is NO, do not fret: there IS a fallback position. He would simply ask if it would be acceptable to take an extra week off each year without pay.

This is a WIN-WIN situation for the client. Why? First, he has a new job. Second, he just may end up with that extra week of paid vacation. “But what if the employer does not grant the extra week?” you may ask. Well, it’s certainly not a deal-breaker! Refusing this highly desirable position would result in waiting several more weeks before another job offer. If the client makes $52,000 per year, why would he hold out for what is essentially $1000 when he would lose much more than that for passing on this opportunity? He wouldn’t… and there it is!

To Your Success,

-Tom

Bridge The Generational Gap

October 19, 2010 3 comments

“DUDE, YOUR BLOG IS SICK!” This statement was a serious contender for the title of this week’s blog. As we all know, TITLE is everything in attracting readers. Since my intention is to attract people from all generations, I decided to tone it down a bit… but that’s where it ends! The rest shall have flavor for everyone: Hot & Spicy for the Millennials, Exotic & Colorful for the Gen-X‘ers, Low-Salt or Sodium-Free for the Baby Boomers, and Bland with a bit of Honey will be served to the Traditionalists with a smile.

Bridging the generational gap is very important to enhancing communication, effectiveness, productivity, and profitability across all levels of an organization. In reviewing The New Map of Adult Life (Sheehy 1995, 10-11), I first thought I was looking at a map of Middle Earth (ref: Lord of the Rings trilogy). Many of the descriptions and diagrams under Provisional Adulthood and First Adulthood hit home. Suffice to say, I have dipped my toe in Middlescence with the recent purchase of a bright red BMW. Manual transmission, all-wheel drive, and tan leather interior.

It’s PHAT!

Could I possibly demonstrate a better expression of an early midlife crisis than this?

I don’t think so!

But how can we more effectively work with “The Others” (people from other generations, I mean)?

Today I propose one unique approach that may help bridge some of the generational gaps. The concept is Informal Mentoring. “Informal mentoring is about being in the right place at the right time and fostering boundless professional support and guidance within organizations” (Lois J. Zachary). Young employees often struggle with finding a perfect mentor match, while significantly tenured employees struggle with swallowing their pride and asking for help (often with technological challenges). Informal mentoring is casual, spontaneous, self-initiated, personal, unstructured, and self-managed. The success for implementing an informal mentoring strategy is dependent upon how effectively an organization trains all employees on its benefits. After all, every unique individual is motivated by the question of WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)?  This is a question that drives engagement from all employees, regardless of their generation.

Although informal mentoring is still regarded by many organizations as both less significant and less legitimate than formal mentoring, it is a much better approach to helping employees who need mentoring actually get it when they need it. Why? Because the employee is personally investing their time and energy into their own growth and development (as opposed to doing something they were TOLD to do). More importantly, it can be a catalyst for effectively breaking through the generational walls of misunderstanding and foster more effective communication across wide variances in tenure. By creating an action plan to support and enhance informal mentoring in an organization, generational gaps will shrink and all types of mentoring will be enriched.

So what’s the word, POPS?

In the words of President Ronald Reagan:

“Tear Down This Wall!”

(June 12, 1987)

Sincerely, Cheers, Yours, Dude, CU L8R, I’m Out,

-Tom

Mile High and Taking It Higher!

October 4, 2010 5 comments

Attitude Determines Altitude!

Attitude Determines Altitude!

Attitude Determines Altitude! It’s a phrase that has been used many times to highlight the impact attitude can have on individual behavior, learning, and success. Have you ever been amazed by how quickly your attitude improves after achieving a small success? Or how a complete stranger with a poor attitude can drag you down in a matter of minutes? As much as we try not to admit it, the truth is that our attitude is constantly shifting and can be dramatically affected by external forces.

But why is ATTITUDE so important? Because the more positive our attitude towards gaining new skills, stretching our creativity, and enhancing our perspective, the better we learn as adults. The better we learn, the more we retain. The more we retain, the more effectively we apply. Effective application leads to increased competence. Increased competence enhances our self-confidence. Enhanced self-confidence leads to personal success. Personal success leads to increased motivation to succeed again, which positively influences our attitude towards learning. Simply put, our attitude plays a key role throughout the cycle of adult learning, motivation, and success!

ALTITUDE: How high can your motivation to learn and succeed take you? Denver sits at approximately 5280 feet above sea level and is appropriately labeled the “Mile-High” city. While leading high-performance teams in the past, I consistently reinforced the importance of each team member’s attitude towards learning and how motivation can help everyone succeed. Attitude really does determine altitude, which is why our slogan was “Mile High and Taking It Higher!”

-Tom

Motivation from the Inside-Out!

September 20, 2010 5 comments

The sixth principle of the Andragogical Model is Motivation to Learn.

What motivates you to learn? My initial response to this question was, “To further develop my skills in order to attain a job promotion, make more money, and/or because of others’ expectations.” However, I quickly came to realize that these external reasons aren’t the most important factors. As I continued to ponder my individual learning motivators (as a adult learner), one thing was clear: I am very focused on changing myself from the inside-out, not nearly as much from the outside-in.

Congruent with my own realization, Malcolm Knowles points out that the most potent motivators that make adults respond come from “internal pressures” (Knowles 2010, 68). Internal pressures include, but are not limited to, improved quality of life, enhanced self-confidence, increase in self-esteem, and higher job satisfaction. Knowles challenges us to consider the intrinsic value and the personal payoff. My personal internal motivators include: personal happiness, sense of accomplishment, recognition, increased awareness, and expanded perspective.

Motivation is not simply an on/off switch- there are many layers to motivating adult learners. Last year, at the University of Denver, I met a (surprisingly) non-traditional professor named Greg Giesen. “Geese” was my instructor for a graduate course entitled, “Leading High-Performance Teams.” My personal motivation for taking this course included personal interest and experience, plus it was a requirement for my Masters program (external driver). The classroom learning activities were structured in a way that they fostered a highly interactive environment. This made the course fun and somewhat competitive as well! I believe being able to experience a sense of accomplishment and reinforce internal intuition on various projects led to a higher degree of personal learning and real-life implementation than had the course been structured in the more traditional sense (lecturing).

When teaching adults, I believe setting the tone through personal connection and helping training participants feel important can be effective methods in addressing the principle of motivation. At the very start of a training session, it is wise to welcome the group, introduce yourself, explain why you are training the course, and reveal what your personal payoff will be. By asking the participants to do the same, you communicate that you are interested in them and can learn more about what motivated each of the participants to sign up. Once you more about why each individual is attending, you may be able to leverage this information during the training to more effectively connect the learning to the participants.

From the Inside-Out,

-Tom