How to Stay Positive in a Tough Market

It can be hard to stay motivated in a job search when we all know what the current job market is like. Plus, so many others we know are worried about their job security or maybe even recently downsized…which makes us feel worried, too! There are industries with no jobs, companies shutting down, and bills piling up. So, how can you stay positive and keep on searching during a difficult economy?

Sometimes it helps to vent, to complain, and yes, to whine……to “let it out” and get it out of the way. So – go ahead and commiserate with your friends…..and then MOVE ON! Sitting around brooding is not going to get you a new job. In fact, continuing to focus on the negative will affect your mood, your efforts, and the way you come across to others. I recommend you consider the following steps to help you feel more POSITIVE which will help with your search in the long run:

  • Be sure you are realistic in your search – Are you targeting positions that you are qualified for? If not, explore your options.
  • Enjoy a hobby or fitness activities – It may help to have a release for any negative energy and will probably put you in a happier, healthier frame of mind when you meet others.
  • Enlist the support of friends and family – Let them know how they can help you. Be frank if they are pressuring you unreasonably. Include them in what steps you are taking to reach your goals.
  • Learn something new – Learning new things can motivate you to feel excited about yourself, and could potentially help you in some way.
  • Be interested in others – Listen to what is going on for them and see how you can help in any way.
  • Consider a part-time position – Perhaps there is something part-time or flexible that would bring in some money to help with the bills in the meantime.
  • Check out job transition groups – These can be a wonderful support to you during these times, and most likely can help with effective, productive strategies for your search.

 

I hope these tips help you in some way! Best of success in your search!

Are you thinking of making a Career Change?

Many job seekers are exploring new careers right now because they need a change or the economy is forcing that change. This is a scary thought for most people. What are your options? What else are you good at? Where do you start?

Why is change so scary? Well, change means going into the unknown. You know your job, your expertise, your contacts, processes, and more. Now you will have to be the “newbie” and that’s always stressful. It also means rocking the boat – staying where you are is much more comfortable than delving into new waters. On the other hand, change can be exhilarating and can lift you out of a stagnant situation. When we have many years left in the workplace, there’s no reason to remain stuck in a job or industry that is personally unrewarding.

So, take a deep breath! Before undertaking any ambitious goal, it’s a good idea to do some research, some exploration, and some reflection to help fine-tune a goal that you will be comfortable going after. Be realistic about whether the goal is attainable for you and what the financial impact of any change might be.

Assessment – If you have absolutely no idea, you might want to start with a skills / career assessment. Some are available online but I recommend working with a trusted career counselor to guide you in the use and interpretation of these tools. Assessments should be viewed only as a starting point to do further research on the careers suggested. Another idea is to be creative about turning a hobby or other passion into a possible career.

Research – Look up information on sites such as www.online.onetcenter.org, www.careeroverview.com, or www.careers.org. Look at current job boards such as monster, careerbuilder, indeed, and linkedin to see if there is hiring going on in those careers. Use www.salary.com to help you ballpark compensation ranges. Find people who do these careers to see what they think of their chosen field – do they like it? What is a typical day / week like for them? What is the potential for growth? What type of training or education do you need to succeed in this field?

Action – Now it’s time to make a decision about direction. Be realistic about your choice. Would enjoy doing this job? Is it attainable? Do you have the appropriate credentials? If needed, check out programs that offer these. Perhaps you can work a part-time or in a temporary position while you earn these credentials. Maybe you can find a position that will give you some entry level experience in your new field of interest. Perhaps you can volunteer somewhere to gain insight and experience. Once you are prepared, the final step will be to begin an active job search in your new field.

Success – Network with people in your new chosen field to develop relationships and to learn everything you can about your new area. Create a resume that repositions you for the new career. You must highlight the skills, experience, and any credentials that relate to the new career. Write a cover letter that gives a compelling reason for employers to consider you as a great candidate. Above all, be sure that everything you state is honest. Then be sure to be persistent and positive. I’ve seen enough successful career transitions to know that it can be done. Wishing you the best of success in your search!

Job Hunting in a Tight Market

As you can imagine, I speak to a lot of people these days who are out of work. The challenges of job searching have multiplied in this economy – the high rate of unemployment is causing steeper competition for fewer jobs; many over 40 workers are being told they are “overqualified” (translation: the employer does not want to pay too much); and it’s easy to spend time feeling depressed or commiserating with others. The reality is that the employment scene is likely to be tough for a while. So, is there any hope? Yes, there are things that you can do to increase your odds of getting to the top of the pile. They require being realistic, knowing your budget, keeping an open mind, and having a positive attitude…even if that is a challenge. Wishing you all the best of success!

  • Enlist support – if you are depressed, angry, or distraught, be sure to get the help and support that you need from your family, friends, or a professional. Let them know how you are feeling and what would be helpful for you to go forward. Sometimes taking a little break from your search can help you to reenergize and provide the confidence you need. Do something fun to reward yourself with each step in your search.
  • Be flexible – the work is just not there in all fields. You may need to consider a change in the type of work that you do or in the level of the position. Or, perhaps you may want to do the same type of work but for a different type of company.
  • Be creative – keep an eye out for opportunities and how you can be helpful. Read the local business journal to learn of new businesses, new services, or something different in an existing company that may relate to your area of expertise.
  • Target your résumé – today’s times call for a résumé that is very focused at your target. For example, if you are a senior teacher applying for a Director position in a small day camp, be sure your resume does not just reflect your teaching abilities. It must also show how you have coordinated programs, hired staff, worked at a camp, and managed a budget. And of course, it must all be true.
  • Network – reach out to recruiters, to friends and family, and to professional associations. Establish relationships and get involved to demonstrate your skills and talent.
  • Positive Attitude – employers want employees who exhibit an open, friendly attitude with troubles left at home. Use breaks, rewards, friends, exercise, and healthy eating to help keep up a good attitude. Be sure you are conveying that when you network with others and when you interview.
  • Are you accused of being overqualified? Practice saying the following: “I am FULLY qualified; I want to contribute to your company.  I am looking to be productive in your organization and willing to be flexible with my compensation package.” Focus on the value that you can add to the company in a short amount of time.
  • Persistence – it may take more effort to get an interview or an offer when there are less jobs out there.  Remember to follow up after an interview with a thank you note. Emphasize how you can contribute to the firm.  See if you can get any feedback as to how you did. Network and see how you can help others so that they remember you. Volunteer to add to your experience and your connections.
  • Read – keep up with professional journals in your field. Here are some free sites to check out: www.HighBeam.com and  www.thefreelibrary.com/Professional+journals-s17657

Free Services – there are many free career services available thorough the Department of Labor. To locate the nearest Career One-Stop, visit http://www.servicelocator.org/

Combatting Ageism…Can It Be Overcome?

Sadly, one of the challenges in job search today is having to deal with Ageism. And even sadder, is age discrimination for people who are about 45+. Not that it is fair to discriminate based on any age, but the problem has expanded to the “younger, older” people if you will. To complicate matters, many people who are now classified as the “long-term unemployed” often fall into this category of 45+ and must endure the biases about being out of work for a long period as well as the fact that they are “mature” workers.

Sometimes the discrimination is somewhat discreet, with a job seeker sensing the problem in action… or via awkward questions during interviews.  Other times, the bias is very direct with an interviewer stating the age concern as a reason the person is being ruled out. Even better, I have seen a couple of emails where a candidate is told that they are too old! (Can you imagine that someone would be foolish enough to put that in writing?!)

Is it possible to overcome ageism? Well, as I always say, there are some things we can control and other things we cannot, whether we are talking about ageism or anything else in life. The priority is to focus on what you can control and do whatever you can to increase the odds that people will see you for your VALUE and not focus on your age.  After that, commend yourself for a job well done and take pride in your efforts.  So here are some ideas that may help:

  • Physical Appearance:  It is important to present a professional, up to date image – is your haircut dated? Is your clothing in style? Your wardrobe does not need to cost a fortune but it should be in sync with the times.
  • Technology: Be aware of what today’s standards are and what is accepted as general knowledge. If you do not know what a tablet, iPad, or kindle is, then you appear dated. Are you using a smartphone of some sort? Do you know what FaceBook is? Do you know what LOL means?  Do you know how to use email? You do not need to be an expert on all of these but if you want to be viewed as cutting edge, then you need to understand the jargon and usage of such items.
  • Résumé and LinkedIn Profiles: How far back do you go? More than the last 15 years is usually not necessary, unless there is older experience that is relevant to your current target. If that is the case, there are a variety of ways to present that information without reflecting how old you are. (And please, delete words like “seasoned” from your résumé!)
  • Energy: Do you reflect an energetic image or a tired one? Be sure to regularly participate in physical activities that improve energy levels and foster a youthful image.
  • Salary Flexibility: Sometimes employers and recruiters fear that older workers will want too much money.  And while it is always nice to have a salary increase, job seekers need to show flexibility. Keep in mind that your paycheck is not just about salary – there are usually various other benefits that you may be able to negotiate (health benefits, vacation time, etc.)
  • Market your strengths: Be targeted. Focus on your strengths and how you can help the employer. Showcase the value you bring to the table. It is about what you can do for THEM.

Do you have any other ideas? Please share them!

 

Time to refresh your elevator speech!

Most of you have heard of an “Elevator Speech,” right? The story goes something like this – let’s say you have an interview for a job you really want. You get into the elevator on the first floor of the building and find out the other person in the elevator is the head honcho who is going to have the final say in whether you get hired.  You now have about 60 seconds to ride in the elevator with her to the top floor.  When she finds out that you are the candidate under consideration, she seems curious about you. What “speech” can you give her in that elevator ride to peak her interest and ensure that you get the offer? Ahhhhh! If you don’t know, then you need to figure this out – and fast!

You meet people all the time, especially if you are networking, attending professional organization meetings, and actively pursuing job leads. Sometimes, you really only have about an “elevator ride” worth of time to impress someone or not. So what can you do? Try to identify what you really want to market about yourself and what sets you apart out there.  What value do you add? What do you want other networking professionals to remember about you? Practice your “elevator speech” out loud. Listen to other people’s answers when you ask them what they do – what impresses you? Who do you remember and why? These are not easy questions to answer – but investing some time and careful thought into your “elevator speech” can create a lot of opportunities for you.

If you are at a networking event, be sure that your interaction is not “just about you.”  It’s important  to focus on building relationships, too.  So show interest in the other person and ask how you might be able to help them. You will certainly be remembered for that!