Sunday, July 19, 2015

Keeping Up Your Job Search Vocabulary

The way we job search has moved to a new frontier. We have expanded our job search beyond the traditional methods of word of mouth, using the phone or mailing our resume. Now with a smartphone, you can be in touch or do research 24-7 from just about anywhere.

Like a Trekkie, we are moving our job search strategy to “where no one has gone before.” Change happens.  What was once cutting edge now starts to fade and is improved or replaced. You have to evolve and move forward too or risk becoming outdated.

Here is a primer to expand your job search vocabulary:

Netiquette - network etiquette. This is the Internet merging with Emily Post. The guidelines are a code of conduct for acceptable behavior for online communication.

Wikipedia - a web-based, free encyclopedia written and edited by volunteers. The site combines the word “wiki,” a type of collaborative website along with “encyclopedia.” Since Wikipedia is a collaboration, be aware that it contains some misinformation and bias. Consider it a starting point for research.

Googling - obtaining information on the Web using the search engine Google. You can google an employer during your research. Google your name. See how you show up.

Digital Dirt - An employer or recruiter can find information about you on the Internet that is not complimentary. It might show you as you lapsed in judgment with your words/actions or were photographed at a party. Remember what happened to Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps? Ouch!

Blog - a contraction of “web log” is a free, shared on-line journal where people can post diary entries about their personal experiences, expertise, hobbies, you name it. A blog is frequently updated and meant for public consumption and comment. Today, specific blogs are being created like corporate blogs (internal/external/ceo), video blogs (YouTube) and mp3 blogs (music/audio).

Social Networking - the way users build online networks of contacts and interact with personal or business friends. We have seen our sons and daughters on Facebook and now mature adults are using it too. Just don't go too far with your postings or photos as your reputation is at stake. Professionals can meet and be introduced to other business contacts through LinkedIn.

Microblogging - allows the subscriber to broadcast short messages to other subscribers of the Web service. Microposts can appear on a website and/or be distributed to a group of subscribers in real time as an instant message or a cell phone text message.

Microblogging is immediate, portable and brief. Presidential candidate Obama used Twitter on the campaign trail to the White House. The New York Times and the BBC are sending headlines and links. You can follow others as they tweet and you can tweet as well.  What possibilities can you create to forward your job search?

JibberJobber - Need to get more organized with your job search? If a spiral notebook or Excel spreadsheet doesn’t work, could aid your career management.

“E” - in front of any word, means electronic. We know about email, but the list continues with esignature, ezine, ecommerce, etc. Watch for more e-words as our e-world continues into new frontiers!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Ice Cream Flavors of Work

It’s been a long day—started at 7:00 a.m. and finished at 5:30 p.m. My day? Helping human resources at a Fortune 500 company with notifications for the downsizing of production and salaried workers. So, how was your day?

Some of us have had a day like this. Maybe you were notified once upon a time or recently notified—downsized, excessed, terminated or fired. No matter what it is called, there is a loss. The company lost you along with your skills, education, leadership, ideas, dedication, etc. You lost your career path along with your salary, insurance, 401k, co-workers, and a place to go 40 hours a week or more.

Life is filled with beginnings and endings and that encompasses our career. I always celebrated the beginning of  new employment. It was a time of excitement, electricity, new challenges, new people and new possibilities. And then, there are employment endings.

Endings come at different times and in different ways. Some endings are by choice and some are imposed.
Endings are like the flavors of ice cream. Some are smooth and predictable like your retirement day; maybe the flavor is Vanilla or Chocolate. Sooner or later, we will generally have one of these basic flavors.

Sometimes the flavor is Rocky Road. Remember a time when you had an off day at work, missed a deadline, had conflict with a co-worker, or a poor performance report. The taste of Rocky Road offers those big learning moments with its chocolate ice cream mixed with marshmallow and nuts. Soft and hard…Rocky Road is full of contrasts and gives us something to chew on.

The flavor of the day during the recession would have to be Elephant Tracks. The flavor of chocolate ice cream with a swirl of chocolate and peanut butter cups was a gooey mess and we struggled to eat our way of it. The elephant like the recession had a heavy impact on our lives, careers and businesses.

I have had the privilege of meeting wonderful, talented people who are making the most of the recession, working hard to have a rebound or new direction. I am amazed to see people who are coping, networking and supporting one another to find innovative ways to keep moving forward.  It’s so true, tough times call for a tough attitude! I have seen people volunteering, updating their education, thinking outside the box and using creative self-marketing to move through uncertain times.

We are amazing human beings. We continue to look forward and not backward. We fight the role of victim and self-pity. I wish you well as you persevere in your job search or recreate your career path. What’s your ice cream flavor?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Life is like MahJongg

I have read all of Amy Tan’s books starting with the Joy Luck Club, Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, and more. Each book carries the reader to the Far East and often, the author mentions people playing the game of Mahjongg, an ancient Chinese game of skill, strategy, and calculation with a certain amount of luck. I usually paused and thought, what’s that?

Recently, a friend invited me to learn how to play MahJongg. I didn’t know anyone who played Mahjongg, no matter how you spell it (Mah-jongg or Mah-jong). I thought the game was no longer played in China, let alone in America!

Reaction & Reflection on Learning Something New
I wondered, do I have time to learn the how to play the game? I felt insecure, out of my comfort zone. I wondered, would I catch or would I need remedial MahJongg for the slow learner. I decided to take a risk and show up for the first learning session. I got hooked and committed to show up and practice weekly for two hours. After five sessions, as Professor Higgins would say, “By jove, I think she’s got it!” And the added bonus, I made a new friends and had a few laughs. Just like playing cards, there’s an amount of memory, concentration and strategy involved. I think I stimulated a few brain cells.

Steps to Learning
Most of us would like to say we are life-long learners. That’s good. Yet, when we are asked to step up to the plate to learn or try something new, we often find an excuse like:
  • I’m too busy, no time
  • I’m too old
  • I’m not coordinated
  • It’s too expensive
  • I'd feel guilty

When is the last time you learned something new?
As a life coach, I tell people I coach clients to get in the Game of LIFE and not merely be spectators. I think it is easy to get sidelined in our lives and become spectators rather than participate when we get stressed, get overwhelmed, get older, get complacent in life or work. We think being on the bench will be easier and safe. Yet, I think, most of us want to get reinvolved, but don’t want to fail.

What has been calling to you?  Do you feel like you want to try something new, but something is holding you back?  Maybe it's a new exercise, a new hair style, a new job. Take some time to sit down, check in with yourself and write it down.

What am I curious about? What have you been thinking about, but put it on the back burner. Remember the movie, The Bucket List? We don’t have to wait until we are running out of time. Maybe it’s reading a book, joining the church choir, learning to knit, taking an online class, visiting a yoga class, meeting a friend for coffee or trying out snowshoes. Raise the antenna on your life for better reception. Maybe it’s about fun/recreation, career, health/exercise, home, relationships with family/friends, or spirituality/personal growth.

What gets in the way? Usually it is time, money or fear. These familiar items seem to multiply and feed on each other. Yet, we find ourselves stymied by them time and again. Like a broken record, these items replay in our lives. How can we become bigger than the obstacles? How can we shrink the items and regain control rather than let the items control us?

Gains vs. Losses
What do you have to gain? A lot. This is about what you value, what you find important, what you find meaning in? If you are resisting and saying “no,” you continue to live your life small by sitting on the bench. The excuses become the default in your life.

Who losses? You. It can become habitual to play life small by letting the obstacles hold you back. Are you happy in this place? Are you fulfilled? Are you tired of the broken record of excuses? Are you ready to regain control?

I challenge you to try something new, push the envelope for yourself, and move forward. I’d love to hear from you. Tell me what you are saying “yes” to. Good luck!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Big Picture vs Detail Oriented

Are you a Big Picture person or Detail Oriented person? Some of us have a natural instinct to be one or another, we have a preference. We need both kinds of people in the world. Both skills are beneficial.  Neither one is better than the other.  Both skills are needed on the job, needed in life. We often feel more comfortable with one versus the other, but being able to develop both and call it forward when you need it is a worthwhile exercise. Can you move between the two?

Like me, you might find one easier than the other, but wait…there's hope! Yes, we usually have a preference, but with awareness and intention to improve on a skill, you can increase you ability to think big picture or detail orientation.

Here are a few suggestions:

1. Form the big picture in your mind and let your life be guided toward it. It often helps to write or sketch what you see or sense. People who are big picture thinkers focus on the future. They can visualize the end product in their mind. They might orchestrate or employ the people they need to connect the dots and fill in the detail to accomplish the goal.

2. Need more big picture thinking? Let the big picture be the lighthouse that sends out the beacon of light to guide and direct your boat to shore.  Look around, look at the horizon.

3. Now for the detail. Adjusting the sail and moving the rudder will bring your boat to safe harbor. The tacking and making small adjustments help you to move forward and accomplish your goal. Keep your eye on the beacon of light and not just the waves lapping at your boat.

4. You need a destination or plan to move forward, otherwise your boat can move in circles. People with a preference for detail need to know what the plan or goal is or need to create the plan before getting into action. Once the plan is laid out, they are generally able to move it along. Forward the action, deepen the learning!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Be Like Gumby in Your Job Search!

It's still a rather tight, fickle job market out there, no question about that. It looks like there are job openings, but many remained unfilled and reposted. Finding the right fit to fill a job opening is a bit of luck, timing, persistence and having the right stuff. Tough times call for a tough, flexible attitude. There isn’t time for self-pity or feeling like a victim.

Remember Gumby, that pliable green guy made of clay? Just the thought of Gumby makes me smile. I encourage you to find the emotional support you need to keep you from spiraling down. These are trying times, but remember, this is not All About YOU, it's been about the economy, the global economy. Take charge of yourself! You can’t change the economy, but you can change your attitude and take control of you. You can work on bending, swaying and learning to be adaptable.

Here are some ideas to consider:

Self-Preservation - Walk, read, go to the library, go to the park, go to the Workforce Centers, go fishing, plant a garden (seeds are cheap), go to church, call a friend, go to a work support group...just go. Refuse to get stuck, become rigid, breakable and fragile. That sense of desperation will not fuel your ongoing job search. When you get to an interview, you will have a better "state of mind."

Volunteer - It is often a true that we get more than we give. Now you might have the gift of time of your hands. Look around. Where could you use some of your talents to assist others? Maybe it’s a week working on a Habitat for Humanity building project, serving a meal for the homeless, tutoring a student or helping an elderly neighbor. Volunteering can help us stay connected and there might be some unexpected networking that results.

Work Smart, Not Just Hard - Make sure you are working your job search in the most efficient way. I encourage all of you to "think outside the box." Write an IMPACT Letter not merely a flat, traditional Cover Letter. Add interest, appeal and a “hook” to your letter. Be genuine and enrolling. Informal

Networking - In the meantime, you might connect with a temporary employment agency, become a coffee barista or work retail. When you are around customers, there is a chance to talk with people you don’t know and expand your circle of contacts. These kinds of jobs expand your casual networking and can lead to an informational/referral meeting to expand your work and training options.

Your Sense of Humor - Laughter can lower your blood pressure and kick in natural endorphins. You need several laughs a day and most of us don’t get that. We all need to lighten up to help cope with stress.

Retrain or Diversify - Be realistic. Are your skills “cutting edge?” Are you in a saturated field? Has your job been outsourced? Is it time to get reinvested? Online classes or an additional certification might unlock some doors to opportunity. Learn how you can transfer your skills or expand your skills with an informational meeting with another professional or schedule a visit with a college advisor or career center.

Be Gumby-like! Stay flexible and don't get bent out of shape!