This Could be Your Edge in a Cluttered Job Market

Perhaps this could be the “edge” you’re looking for in your job search. The thing that differentiates you from the crowd.

With it you’ll make a better impression. You’ll help yourself stand out. You’ll show that you’re not just a qualification + skills – you have the spirit, attitude and mindset to produce more, to achieve more, to be of more value in a business.

What is it? Learning.

On the one hand, it can be a R150 000 MBA. On the other hand it can be a free online course or just a book.

Here are some ideas that can be free (and ideas on how to use them):

* You read a book. Think library, 2nd hand bookshop, or $0.00 ebooks from Amazon.com – read them on your Kindle for Android / mobile phone or Kindle for PC – both free.

* You read a book, then write a blog post about what you learned. Your blog is free, hosted at wordpress.com, you have a link to it in your CV and on your LinkedIn.com page.

* You read a book, then develop a “5 Step” strategy to apply what you learn in your work environment, you track the results. You put it in your CV – “My 5 Step Strategy for Motivating People”

This way you SHOW an employer you’re not just a backside on an expensive ergonomicly correct seat. You’re there to make a difference. To help produce results. To help the enterprise improve.

[Many, many of my CV writing clients say they read books. Some say, “I read 5 business books every month.” Okay. Good. But what have you learned? What have you applied? What have you put to work? What results have come as a result? What difference has it made to your performance, to your value to your employer, to your value as a little one-man business?

Everybody’s read “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. But what’s more interesting is this: how has it made you more effective, more efficient, more valuable?]

  • You can take a free course, like full diploma courses on www.alison.com
  • You can read blogs of experts in your field of work. You can comment & participate.
  • You can read trade/industry magazines. You notice trends. You have an opinion.

Learning does not = university, college, certificates only. It’s an approach to life. An attitude. It reveals a person who always wants to improve. And when what’s learned is APPLIED (put to work in achieving measurable results), then it becomes a major differentiator  in your job search (iow: it makes you look better than other applicants, set to land more job interviews, more job offers.)

Learning can make the older look young and fresh. And can make the young look wise. And not just “look”, rather actually be: “young and fresh” and “wise”.

Note: within my member’s only website – Career and Success –  is a Library of books and guides, on career and improvement topics (including “Think and Grow Rich.”)

The main program of learning in it is “Get a Job Fast”.  Becoming a member is R75. Go to here to get the application form:  www.careerandsuccess.info.

How to Hack Back at Job Market Intimidation

Intimidation is a major roadblock to success in the job market. It hacks you down. Keeps you down. Here’s how it works: because of it … you don’t. Yes because someone, somewhere said something or gave you a look that instilled fear in you, you don’t. You don’t do the things you need to do to get that job fast.

  • You don’t take action.
  • You fear looking “unprofessional”.
  • You fear that “that’s not how it’s done.”
  • You don’t take the bold steps.
  • You don’t confidently (but with due humility) explain your achievements: “30% growth in 6 months, 8 new accounts”.
  • You feel that because you have no degree, you’re worthless.
  • You conclude that because you did just an ‘average’ job – which you may have – you don’t have a place, you can’t be bold.

Because a personnel agency treated you poorly, perhaps were rude or uncomplimentary about your work history and qualifications … you start doubting yourself.

Because a friend said: “You can’t do that!?” (when you mentioned your plan to set up a meeting with a local business leader to explain how you could improve an aspect of his/her business) … you hesitate and then you just don’t do it.

Because the HR Officer was abrupt, aloof and quick to point out your faults … you don’t follow up on your plan to start out the follow-up interview for Admin Manager with this: “Before we start, I’ve prepared a 3 minute presentation: “The 3 biggest admin department melt-downs I’ve solved, and how this may help your business, Jones & Jones.”

You get blocked by fear. You take a conservative approach. You play it safe. You’re passive. You sit and wait instead of ‘going and fetching’. You hope things will happen, instead of making them happen. Who are these people who can make us feel this way? You allow them to of course, but also:

  • That HR person who’s aloof. Maybe she’s just insecure. Or longing to be in another job, perhaps to be a lawyer or accountant. But he’s stuck with people. Yuck.
  • Or that friend who says: “you can’t do that!” Are they the one unemployed? Or are they rather speaking from their safe little space where all is well for now? Will they pay your bills?
  • Or the personnel agent who’s rude. Maybe they’re just stressed over that sales target they’re not making. Or maybe the guy’s wife wears the pants at home and this is his chance to feel powerful.

Should we be intimidated by these people? No. Hack back. If you have a valuable skill – even it it’s just average – then some business, somewhere, will hire you. If you can provide a benefit then offer it confidently, persistently, creatively. Many will say “no” to you. Some may even make you feel intimidated. But in the end someone will say, “Wow, you’ve come just at the right time! When can you start?”

[Note: this is why I’ve added on a Support Group to my member’s-only “Get a Job Fast” programme. So if you become a member of my CareerAndSuccess.info ‘inner circle’ site (now a R75.00 no-brainer) then you can also join the Support Group where you can keep a positive vibe going on. Where you can improve your efforts and engage with others who are applying what they learn. Go to www.careerandsuccess.info for the application form (bottom of the page). Or e-mail me for it.]

Thought of the week: Ethan (my son, Grade 3) comes home with 45 mins homework. And he moans. So I sat with him to do it. We were done in under 10 mins. We made it fast and fun. Makes one wonder what – as adults – we could do if we just had the right guidance, mentor, coach? (BTW, this guy specializes in helping: www.siekin.co.za)

Q&A On Following Up with Employment Agencies

Q&A from a reader regarding following up with a recruitment agency. Here’s the question:

“Dear Gerard: I got an email from an agent just before Christmas saying that they had sent my CV to a client whom they would make a follow up with week beginning the 13th of January 2014. They have not been in touch with me since. Should I call them?”

Here’s my answer:

Hi [Reader]. There are 2 things you should know:
1) Agencies are notorious for just never getting back to you – sometimes with valid and often with poor reasons. So you should absolutely follow up with them. Badger them. If they made a promise you are within your rights to follow up. In a cluttered job market you can’t leave these things to chance.
2) You should however also manage your expectations. Don’t expect too much from agencies. Most often you won’t even get an interview. It’s just a fact. So definitely follow up… BUT … you also should never be waiting for them to make a move, never rely solely on them to make things happen in your job search. You have to be proactive in finding work for yourself. Using agencies should be only one means by which you search.
[Note: there’s a lot more on alternative job search methods – some of them are so simple and clever – in my member’s only and very low cost members only site, see more here: www.careerandsuccess.info]

Can a 73 Year Old Get Work? Here’s my Answer.

So I got a question from “X” today:

Hi Gerard, how do u go about finding a job if you are 73 years old, but perfectly capable?  No one will hire whether on a casual, temporary or part-time, etc., basis.

Here’s my reply:

Hi “X”, thanks for your question. And of course you have challenges. Not many 73 year olds are looking for work. Many are not what they once were in terms of health and strength and even mental alertness – I know, my father who died at age 74, 3 years ago, was in no fit state to work anywhere. He had severe dimentia and cancer!

So certainly there are stereotypes and prejudices and doubts that employers may have. And we can’t wish that away. However if you still have value – business value – skills that you can use to benefit a business, then someone, somewhere will give you an opportunity.

If you follow the basic recipe I outlined in my e-mail earlier today, then with persistence you can succeed in finding work. You may have to adjust your expectations, you may have to be flexible, you may need to develop a new skill or two. But if you focus on offering employers what they need, you will find someone who offers you an opportunity.

Do not however think that employment agencies will help you. They won’t.

Don’t judge the job market based on the response you get from them!

Also, don’t think that you’ll be successful answering job ads either in newspapers or online. You likely won’t. Although one exception may be using the likes for Gumtree to both find job ads from local businesses and to advertise yourself.

Start where you are:

  • Define exactly how you can be valuable to a business, what skills can you employ to help them, what do they need that you have?
  • Then target local businesses, visit them every 2 weeks to offer what you have, be boldly persistent. If you’re healthy, well spoken, are “together” then word will spread.
  • Network amongst your friends and neighbours. Are you a member of any associations or clubs? Network with them, explain what you’re looking for and what benefits you have to offer.
  • If you read about business personalities in the local newspaper, pay them a visit – repeatedly – and explain how you think you can offer their business some skill and benefit.
  • Look after yourself physically, keep fit. Read a lot – keep up-to-date with technology as far as you can (there are many free courses on the internet).

If you persist with this kind of positive approach … your results will be guaranteed.

Hope this helps! Keep in touch. I’d love to hear how you’re fairing.

End of Year Job Hunting – is it just a ‘dead’ period?

Joe 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?

Joe 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:

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 2013 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 2013 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”.

You should join the INNER CIRCLE now. See more here www.careerandsuccess.info – there’s an application on board.