“But it’s the end of the year… not great for job hunting?!”

The client said:

 “But it’s the end of the year … not a great time for job hunting.”

Did you know there are things you could be doing to land a job even during the holidays? Or are you planning to just goof off and pick it up next year? Can you afford that approach?

The client is in the supply chain field. He’s very well qualified and has good experience. He’s just completed his Honours and wants a job after working for himself for 2 years (while studying).

Here’s my reply (sent yesterday):

Consider this: somewhere out there there’s someone (let’s call him Jack) heading up a big supply chain intensive operation. And it’s not going well. His holiday period is going to be more about his ulcer than his kids. Sleep will be fleeting. He will not rest.

You may well be the solution he needs.

He hasn’t advertised for anyone, he’s too busy and he’s been burned by agencies who don’t deliver. And he’s struggling to define exactly what he needs anyway. He’s not sure himself.

All he can think is this: “I need someone with fresh ideas, someone youngish, strong, hungry.”

Now, if you knew that during the holidays, a close friend of yours was going to spend an evening with our Jack here, and a good chunk of it is spent discussing how difficult he’s expecting 2012 to be and how he needs someone with ‘fresh legs’ – wouldn’t you want your friend to introduce you?

So, the question becomes: what are you doing within your circle of influence to make sure they know what you’re up to (in terms of job hunting and what a brilliant solution you are). Do they have your mini-CV – a hard hitting one or half pager or your ‘guerrilla CV’?

Have you told them exactly what you’re looking for … with energy, focus, enthusiasm. Do they know you for your excellent career so far?

That one random contact could provide you with the opportunity you’re looking for. Your 2012 could start with a big bang – instead of a deathly silence.

Be careful of the “nothing happens in Dec/Jan” approach!

Just by the way: in my Career & Success INNER CIRCLE, I detail a process (with examples, samples, scripts and exact instructions) of how to do all of the above – including how to write your own very, very smart “mini-CV”.

Want to become a member? E-mail me and I’ll send you the application form – gerard@careerandsuccess.info.

On a Personal Note: 1) Sent out the first “Gerard’s Marketing Monthly” yesterday – if you’re in business, own a business, want to start a business, in the newsletter I outline some low cost, critical, highly effective marketing ideas. Want it? Get it at no cost. Just send an e-mail to mkting@getresponse.com

2) My daughter Zoe, is having her prize giving tonight. Grade 3. She’s a candidate for the “top student” award. But I’m torn. Does an award like this matter? If she doesn’t get it, what then? Are awards like this actually good? What message does it send to everyone else? Is competition like this at this age a good thing? What should be rewarded – hard work, effort; or natural ability? I don’t actually care what happens, I think she’s great. Hopefully she knows that no matter what happens.

Also, remember I have a special deal on my “Guerrilla CV / Resume Writing” for December. Either visit the Facebook page for more: www.fb.com/guerrillaresumeandcv or just drop me an e-mail request to gerard@jobsearching.co.za

Are You Facing Obstacles in the Job Market?

You may have credit problems. You may be on the wrong side of 50. You may be a white male in a BEE world.

You may not have a degree. You may have had 3 jobs this year already. You may have been fired or have a CCMA case pending.

These are all “obstacles” in the job market. And you can respond in one of two ways.

1) You can focus on that obstacle, look for how true it is in everything you do in your job hunt.

Someone doesn’t return a call? “Oh, it’s because of my credit record.” Don’t get response to your applications? “Oh, it’s because I’m white. This is unfair.” Don’t get a call back after an interview? “Oh, it’s because I’m over 50.” Or “Oh, it’s because I’m black and not English first language.”

Those feelings are real. And the situations feel hopeless at the time.

But … now let’s look at a proven truth:

When you have obstacles – some employers won’t hire you. And some will. Your job is to find those who will.

Those employers that will are out there. And there are many of them. In fact most businesses are small or medium sized. And they often hire less than perfect people. The hire ‘solutions’ who present themselves at the right time.

So that understanding helps us understand what “response 2” should be.

2) We can hammer hard at finding employers who will hire us.

And they are all around you. Don’t think for a minute that those companies hide behind employment agencies, job ads, or job website applications. Those companies have real people in them. People with problems. People who just need a solution.

So the best response to obstacles in the job market is to hammer hard at two things: 1) meeting people, anyone who is a decision maker in business, anyone who may be able to refer you to someone who is – even your Gran is okay!

And 2) figuring out what solution, what benefits you provide to a business – and hammering that message hard in your CV, letters, in every meeting, in every interaction, all the time.

Are you doing that? Be critical of your job search campaign: are you being overly affected by “obstacles” – responding negatively, blaming and complaining? Or are you taking what you’ve got, the good stuff, and nailing that?

If you need help with the practical application of the above, please join my  Career & Success INNER CIRCLE – a members only website loaded with my best ideas, practical examples and step-by-step guides to help you. See it here: www.careerandsuccess.info. Or just e-mail me for more info: gerard [at] jobsearching.co.za

 

Survey Results

Dont’ you hate it when you find out you what you were doing was a waste of time? You climbed the ladder … but it was against the wrong wall! (To borrow a Covey analogy.)

You used the “Magic Drops” you saw advertised on TV to lose weight, but actually the “lose weight” part wasn’t in the drops, but in the “calorie controlled diet” mentioned the very small print – in the part where it said “Only effective as part of a calorie controlled diet.”

Your ladder was against the wrong wall!

And so it is with job hunting. It’s why I did a survey a number of weeks ago about how people actually find the jobs they’re in. In other words, when job hunting, what building or wall should you put your ladder up against.

Here are the results:

How did you find your current or most recent job?

  • Option 1 – Job search website (like CareerJunction, PNet, etc)
    8% Answered “yes”
  • Option 2 – Employment/Personnel Agency, Labour Broker
    17% Answered “yes”
  • Option 3 – From a newspaper job ad placed by the company
    17% Answered “yes”
  • Option 4 – Via a referral from a friend/colleague/family member
    51% Answered “yes”
  • Option 5 – Through you approaching the company directly
    7% Answered “yes”
  • Option 6 – Via LinkedIn or Facebook or other social networks
    0% Answered “yes”

I have to say I was surprised. For some reason I thought that more would have said “yes” to personnel agencies. You and others who receive and respond to this e-column are quite sophisticated with technology, educated, and most live in the corporate world. I would have thought that they have success with agencies more than most.

But instead the “via a referral from a friend, etc” option secured more “yes” votes than all other methods put together! Astonishing.

So are you looking for a job? What are you doing to canvas your contacts? It’s likely where your next job lies waiting for you.

By the way … in my Career & Success INNER CIRCLE members only website I have a programme called “Get a Job Fast” and it provides you with all the tools, examples, scripts you need to find a job via your ‘network’. It’s all made very easy for you, even natural, none of the awkwardness that many associate with it.

See an application form here.

 

Job Hunting Success Formula: Part 2 – Developed Skills, Section II of II

So yesterday (Section I) we discussed the importance of developed skills in an employer’s decision to hire you. Skills make a difference, they get his/her company from “A” to “B” or “Z”.

But in your career I think there are two set’s of “developed skills” –

  1. Those cultivated/learned in an academic/learning environment – like a learnership, apprenticeship or just by being guided by someone at work, or even just teaching oneself through trial and error. For example, I wrote a CV a few months ago for a Financial Manager of a major, high profile media organisation who has NO formal qualifications. Nothing. But he has been mentored, he’s been a good learner from more experienced people around him. So his “developed Accounting and Finance skills” are purely through experience and learning “on the job”. These are his ‘professional’ skills.
  2. And then there are other “developed skills” – these skills are of a more natural nature – learned over time – growing up, life, experience and somewhat built into our personality/natural aptitudes/character – skills that are not specific to a particular industry/job function. Like our Financial Manager – he developed an excellent knowledge of and skill with Accounting. Fine. But another skill that was as important a factor in his success was his ability to lead his team. That’s an entirely different ‘animal’. That’s not something that can be taught as successfully as the more rule driven Accounting. Leadership has much to do with character, personality, focus, courage, communication, clarity of thinking, personal confidence and mastery (excuse all the buzzwords!).

And I know that these sort of skills are underrated in a big way. How you deal with people, how you manage yourself [they (them that knows) call it “personal mastery”], how you organise yourself, how you communicate, how you learn, your attitude toward life in general – these are critically important and are also called soft skills.

Think about this: you CAN be successful with only these underrated skills with no formal/professional skills (’cause they can be learned pretty easily really), but it’s unlikely you’ll be successful with only formal/professional/hard skills with none of those other softer skills in place (which are really tough to learn).

Tip: many employers look just for a great attitude with strong learning ability.

So how do you develop these? Tough question. You can take all sorts of courses on these soft skills BUT as Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits” will tell you, it’s more about attitude than “ok, do a, b and c and you’ve got them.” Some would say you’ve either got the right attitude or not. But I think they can be learned. Here’s what occurs to me – it’s a bit ‘out there’ but believe me when I say there’s more than you can imagine in it: start by cultivating the rare quality of humility.

What do I mean by “humility” – bear with me here. It means you should be aware that there’s a lot to learn; it’s a big wide world and although you’re great, you’re not the centre of it; be willing to learn; be willing to follow instructions; appreciate what others teach you; ask questions; be eager to please; be somewhat in awe of knowledge and experience; show respect; treat people in a way that shows you think they have great value; be interested in them.

In these things are the roots of greatness. Humility – not allowing everyone to just tramp all over you or being cowering – but having a plan to improve your situation and understanding that learning from others, communicating with others, showing appreciation and respect is a key to that.

It’s the key to those softer skills that underpin true success. By the way, our Financial Manager mentioned above – what a great, humble guy, full of praise to the people who’ve taught him what he knows. No wonder he’s done so well. And no wonder people have been willing to give him a chance and been willing to teach him.

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Job Hunting Success Formula: Part 2 – Developed Skills, Section I of II

In the search for an employee, obviously, an employer looks for skills. Not just skills in word. But skills in deed. Actual work you are able to do (preferably well). You can do something, something of some value. You can drive. You can operate a forklift. You can inspire and motivate a team. You can keep the company’s books of account. You can sell.

Whatever career skill it is – you can come in to their company and solve a problem or help the company to progress toward its targets in some way – or prevent it from going under in some way.

A Plumber will make sure that water runs to the factory to cool the machines. A Financial Manager will make sure debtors pay up, creditors are paid in time, money is wisely invested, finance is secured, profits are protected, costs are kept low, etc.

Some careers/positions focus more on expert knowledge – but in any case applying that knowledge is a skill on its own.

The ‘nub’ is this: your ‘skills’ must translate into benefits to your employer. Having said that, it is true that some employers look for potential – with prior learning/qualifications being a strong indicator that you have the needed potential – and then they train you in the actual doing of the job to meet their requirements. To be honest however, they usually look for some developed skills to already be present.

Okay, it all starts then, by having skills in the first place. So … do your utmost to learn some! You could take a course in your desired field, get some qualification. But as much as theory has its place, remember the employer is looking for skills – you coming in, doing a ‘job of work’, making a difference, taking some task from “A” to “B”.

Develop a career mindset of always learning. But don’t forget that knowledge isn’t skill. Developing skill takes practice. Field work. Getting your hands dirty. Trial and error. Being in the trenches. Making mistakes! Learning from mistakes! Correcting mistakes! Trying not to make the same mistake! It means being involved in something on a regular basis. And it also means having some successes to speak of.

So when you’re learning, ask: what skills am I developing?

Here are some examples:

  • If you’re studying Accounting, are you doing the books for 2 or more small businesses in your neighbourhood part time?
  • If you’re studying motor mechanics – are you busy ‘pimp my ride-ing’ a ’78 Chevvy, just for the experience?
  • If you’re studying Financial Analysis – are you keeping track of your own JSE/NYSE/Nasdaq portfolio of shares?
  • Are you studying HR Management? Are you working part time to assist 2 or more small companies with their HR issues?

Or … if you’re already in a job or career: what new skills are you developing? What skills look like they’re going to be needed in the future? What skills are in short supply? Are you adding to what you’ve got? Or are you looking for ways to do what you do better than ever?

By doing the above you’re developing skills. And because skills are valuable to employers – you’re making yourself more valuable to them. And if you’re more valuable, you’re more marketable – you’ll find it easier to find and keep work, and you’ll earn more.

But there’s another kind of skills you also need to develop. More on them tomorrow.

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Have you enjoyed this article? If so please do 2 things: 1) Share it – click the ‘green thingy’ button below and you’ll easily be able to send it to friends via email or even Facebook; 2) And join the exclusive Career&Success community – the place for info, ideas, support and a network of friends to give you the spark you may be lacking right now. www.CareerAndSuccess.info

The Job Hunting Success Formula #1

So you may be wondering what different factors make up YOU landing a JOB and especially a job you really want.

Here’s my list of factors the make up the formula. Would you like to add any? I’ll be writing an article on each of these in the days ahead. In random order (each one’s importance changes situation by situation, so it’s impossible to weight each one):

Developed Skills + Knowledge + Common Sense + People Skills + Personal Marketing + Reasonable Price + Timing + Uncontrollable Factors In Your Favor (some call it luck) + Emotional State + Ability to Adapt + Ability to Translate Skills and Knowledge into Value + Persistence + Willingness to do What’s Necessary + Intellectual Capacity

= JOB

What have I left out? What shouldn’t be there? Add your comments below or e-mail them to me at gerard@jobsearching.co.za

What will a better understanding of these factors do for you? It may help identify what’s going wrong in your job hunt. Or it may make you a smarter job hunter. It may help you work on some weak areas. It may help you to stop banging your head against a wall and try a different approach. It may help you see that there’s more under your control than you think. It may make you feel more focussed and optimistic, like you “CAN” instead of “CAN’T”.