Archive for March, 2010

Three Golf Analogies That Might Help a Job Search

I live and work in the Baltimore-Washington corridor and we experienced probably the most brutal winter in our history this year. Needless to say, I was delighted to get away last week for a few days of golf in Myrtle Beach, SC. I not only love golf, but am an avid sports fan and make frequent life analogies to sports. One of the first comments my boss, Steve Gallison, made after reading my book was he couldn’t believe it took me more than 60 pages to present my first sports analogy. Well, I’m at it again. Here’s my take on common strategies one must take for both improved golf games and job searches. 

Success in both requires working hard at multiple, diverse skill areas. Successful golfing requires mastering long, medium and short range shots as well as putting. Similarly, a successful job seeker will need to create strong marketing material (résumés, cover letters, social media profiles) to attract employer and recruiter attention. Secondly, he must develop and nurture a solid network of contacts to discover potential openings that will not appear on public posting forums. Also, she will have to articulate good sales and interviewing skills to get hiring managers interested in bringing them on board. Both golfers and job seekers are prone to a common mistake when either their game or search struggle. When trying to improve, they sometimes focus on improving only one particular area; often the one they are most comfortable working on.  Such a strategy will lead to only limited improvement and results. Dedicate yourself to continuous work on all phases of your job search strategy.  

Keep the good or bad in proper perspective. Golfers often let one shot hurt the next several they make, whether it’s feeling too good about a great shot or beating themselves up about a bad one. It can affect their concentration level on several subsequent shots.  Sometimes, a job seeker can become so enthralled with a great interview with a particular company and put less effort into other job search efforts while awaiting results of that interview. Sadly, if that opportunity doesn’t pan out, other opportunities where minimal attention was paid in the meantime may wither away in the process. Similar problems can come after a bad interview, when job seekers spend excessive time beating themselves up, hindering  subsequent efforts for days and sometimes weeks. Treat each event or shot, good or bad, as history immediately after completion. Then proceed as though it never happened. This will assure stronger efforts on all shots and job events.

A golf philosophy that might help with cold calling. Little in job search can be as tedious and frustrating as cold calls, especially when the only time you ever need to conduct such them is in a job search. Sadly, this applies to most of the population. Yet you are aware that reaching out to people you’ve never spoken to before is part of the process, whether you like it or not. Kind of like hitting out of sand traps! I want to share with you a consolation that golfers of all skill levels have used after a bad round. They think of the one shot that worked perfectly. Golfers call that shot “that’s the one that brings you back for the next round.” Well, no matter how many cold contacts you plan to make in a given week, at week’s end don’t look back and think of how frustrating the process was. This will make you dread that part of next week. Look at the one call that produced the best results and move on from there.

Are You Overlooking These Sources for Job Leads?

An Information Technology professional recently approached me with a situation that puzzled her. While having work done on her car, her mechanic of many years advised her of additional recommended repair work needed. She told him she couldn’t get the extra work done at present since she had recently lost her job. He expressed his condolences to her, then asked if she wanted to leave a copy of her résumé with him. Since her field is IT, she wasn’t sure how her mechanic having her résumé could help her job search. What did he know about IT?

 Well the mechanic may not know a thing about IT, but I told her that should not deter her from giving him her résumé, provided she trusts him with her contact information. The mechanic offers a job seeker a great potential resource; a wide variety of contacts. Maybe one of the cars he regularly services belongs to a Chief Technology Officer that would love to see her résumé. The mechanic could be her link to him.

 Many job seekers overlook people they regularly deal with that offer the same potential as this mechanic. Think of anyone that provides you a service and has countless other customers from a wide variety of backgrounds. Someone they know might be just the right contact for you to meet. However, you will never find out unless you ask. And many of these people are folks we might not naturally think to ask.

 Who could some of these people be? Well, since it’s tax season, you can start with your tax professional. Along similar lines, your financial planner or banker fit the same mold. Branching out further, think about the diversity of people in your place of worship. Your link to them could be the pastor or rabbi. What about a personal trainer, cosmetologist, physician or other health care professional? The possibilities are endless. 

I realize many will read this and think they would never discuss something as personal as a job search with most of these people. However, one or two of these might be people you never thought of asking, but now realize they would be more than happy to help. You just hadn’t thought of them as a possible source of contacts or introductions. This gives you more possible contact leads than you had before.

My First Guest Blog Appearance

Using LinkedIn groups and replying to discussions lead to my first invitation to provide a guest blog post. Ilona Vanderwoude, author of the site Careerbranches.com started a group discussion on a series of networking articles she had on her blog. Once I posted a comment, Ilona contacted me and after seeing my profile invited me to contribute. Her full series of articles can be found at http://blog.careerbranches.com/ My post is below.

Networking and Its Place in the Hiring Process

A big reason job seekers struggle to network comes from the fact that most people don’t have to network, or engage in any job search or hiring-related activity, until they need to look for a job. Since most of us hate the process of looking for a job, once we find one, we cease any job search related activity, including networking. With this in mind it’s no surprise that few job seekers develop an understanding about how the hiring process works and why networking continuously ranks as the most effective job search method. They fail to grasp how much networking benefits both the candidate and employer.

Few job seekers understand that for an employer, listing an open job is one of the last, if not the final, strategies they will use to fill a position. They would much rather fill the opening with candidates the hiring manager or employees already know. This is why so many companies offer cash incentives to employees who refer candidates that are hired.

Another factor many fail to consider is the plight of smaller companies. Posting an opening on a job site today will easily result in the employer receiving several hundred résumés. For a company too small to support a Human Resource Department, just processing such a response would prove overwhelming. A much better option for them is to fill the job with someone they know. The Small Business Administration reports that over the past decade 60-80% of all new jobs in the U.S. have been created in small businesses. Networking may be the only way to discover such openings before they are filled.

Additionally, many job seekers don’t realize how networking can make them better candidates for positions. The more people you speak to that know a company, its hiring manager and employees, the better an understanding you can get about what particular needs each has when trying to fill a position. Contacts can give you insights as to new projects or contracts the employer just began, particular traits successful employees have or other information that can help a candidate prepare her résumé or script a job interview. Speaking to the needs and interests of a hiring manager as quickly as possible will go a long way toward getting her to like you. The more she likes you, the better the chances of receiving an offer.

Sadly, even job seekers that discover the power of networking and use it to land a new job make the same mistake after starting the job. They fail to understand that networking is about building and maintaining ongoing relationships that benefit both parties. Continue to exchange information with the contacts you developed while searching for a job and keep adding new people to your contact lists. In your mind, you may have incredible gratitude to the individual that linked you to your new employer. Well, the best ‘repayment’ you can give will be to assist another individual in a job search. Maybe then you can experience the joy of referring them to their next job.

One last thing to consider about continuing to nurture your network. The average tenures of jobs in the U.S. remain at just over four years. I advise people to estimate how many years they hope to work for the rest of their career. Divide that number by four and you’ll have an estimate of how many more times you will likely need to look for a job. Having an established network will make subsequent searches easier.