Archive for February, 2010

Avoid the Temptation of Severance Sloth

You’ve received a Lay Off, Down-Size, Reduction in Force, Job Elimination, or whatever term your now former employer chose. Part of your package includes anywhere from a few weeks to several months’ severance pay.  BE CAREFUL about using this to rationalize delaying your search for a new job with full commitment and energy.  Rather, view the package as a unique opportunity to “play with house money.”

Starting a job search process is a frightening and overwhelming under any circumstances, let alone following an unexpected and perhaps emotional job separation. Human nature can encourage us to avoid difficult tasks, especially when grieving something as difficult as a job loss. The knowledge that we will still receive a steady paycheck for a set period of time may tempt the new job seeker to take a brief vacation, so to speak.

YES, you will need to allow the pain to heal. Losing a job, especially unexpectedly, can be as devastating as the loss of a loved one. It will require a grieving period. Read articles on stages of grief as a resource.

YES, you will need to take the time to inventory your skills, polish up your résumé, target the type of employers you want to target and reach out to your network. Starting a job search parallels introducing a product or service to the market. You want to have everything ready for the launch and avoid starting out in the mode of “Ready, Fire, Aim.”

However, when you adapt a “vacation” mind set, you tend avoid or delay more difficult tasks. In a job search, these include self-assessment, targeting desired employers as well as building and reaching out to your network list.

If you have a decent severance package and feel the temptation to take things easy for a while, consider these factors:

  • Will the tasks you avoid become any easier once the severance money runs out?
  • Do you feel better marketing and selling your talent with the added financial stress of only receiving unemployment compensation?
  • What evidence do you see that the labor market will improve right around the time your severance package expires?

So once you’ve relieved the pain of your job loss and planned out your strategy, tackle your search as the full-time job it is. Maybe you’ll get the chance to earn double paychecks for a while.

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Improve Job Interviews with Scripts and Tape

I discuss job interview strategies regularly during meetings with customers, mock job interviews and seminars. Some recent experiences of my own have given me new perspectives on the topic.  To publicize my book, I have conducted several interviews on radio beginning in December. Several were taped for future broadcasts, so I was able to listen at air time. Others I have downloaded to save and replay on my own.

In my initial interviews, I simply answered the questions of the host, many of whom encouraged me to speak as long as I wanted. After a few interviews,  another author (my sister Maureen Dezell) advised me that she always prepares  bullet points prior to a radio interview, so I began doing this. My most recent interview was one hour for the Career Catalyst show on BlogTalkRadio. The host, Kenrick Chatman, has sent me a script of questions ahead of time. Here I outlined my answers prior to air time.

As I listen back to my interviews, I’m struck at how much better I sound in the interviews where I had bullet points prepared. People that have heard me on multiple shows agree. What concerned me was that in some instances of longer answers, while speaking freely, I heard myself either make mistakes or confuse my message.

I will now always emphasize anyone involved in a job search to find a way to tape yourself in a mock interview setting.  You will discover many things of your delivery that you will want to improve. Plus prepare a list of bullet points you want to make. Interestingly, I need to encourage this more in extroverts. Many of them feel that they don’t need such preparation since they are comfortable talking to people. Since most interviews involve  open-ended questions, extroverts are more prone to ramble and not get to the point.  I saw that problem in myself after hearing a tape of my answers to such style of questions.