Combatting Job Hunt Stress & Overwhelm (and how I lost the skin off my feet)

Are you the kind of job hunter who – like me – struggles to focus on anything but the problem at hand. Do you get overwhelmed by the job hunt … you’re anxious … everything suffers – health, relationships, kids, personal growth, sleep?

And this at a time when you really need to be at your best. To be strong, confident, bold, bright. (For job interviews, etc)

Keeping yourself ‘together’ during a challenge is hard. It’s easy to feel like this one problem has taken over one’s life. But one has to realise that you’re better equipped to cope and to smash the problem when you’re feeling strong, together.

A few years ago there was a show on TV called EcoChallenge. It was created by the Survivor guy, Mark Burnett. Basically teams of 4 race cross country, on foot mostly, to an end point. It takes elite teams 3 or 4 days, others it takes 10 days.

In one race, 2 teams were neck-and-neck. One stopped to sleep, just for an hour or two. The other didn’t. It made all the difference. While the non-sleep team stumbled around exhausted toward the end of the race, the other team quietly & steadily overtook them. And won.

The lesson? There are certain things that keep us as humans, ‘together’. Sleep, good nutrition, exercise, positive relationships, positive thoughts (an incomplete list). When we neglect them, we pay! Performance suffers. Results suffer. We suffer.

So, pay attention to this stuff. Plan your week. Keep timeslots open for walks, exercise; eat healthy; take time to think of the good things in your life; be kind.

Just this week I’ve added a new resource to the Get a Job Fast programme. It’s called “6 Secrets to Staying Strong when Facing the Job Hunting Fire.” When you join for just R75 you get it as well as a bunch of good guidance aimed at helping you ‘get a job fast.’

[If you want to become a member, you can download the application form here: www.careerandsuccess.info; or if you’d like me to e-mail it to you, I’m at gerard@careerandsuccess.info.]

Personal thought of the week:

Made a huge mistake yesterday. My daughter (11) and I have been running, and I’ve been running barefoot (there’s a whole barefoot running trend and I figured it’d help my squash and toughen up my feet since I’m in the office all day).

But yesterday was around 30 degrees C. It was 5pm. The road was hot. But I didn’t think much about it. So now I have these massive flaps of loose skin / blisters on my feet. My wife says it’s what I deserve for being so stupid. Maybe she’s right. The lesson: I’ll learn from my mistake. The painful lesson is useful.

In a job hunt often we make the same mistakes over and over. Like thinking recruiters/agencies are really interested in us. It’s not a mistake to use them. It’s a mistake to have that strategy as your MAIN strategy. You’ll get burned.

Share your thoughts here:

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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)

3 Ideas to Go from “Blah” to “Buzz” in Your Career

Is this you?

“I’m in a job, but I know I’m capable of so much more. This job is a road to nowhere. I’m bored. How can I get to the next level?” 

If you identify with this question, here are 3 ideas on making yourself more marketable. More attractive. So that when someone looks at your CV and you, they see the potential, they see you as superior and they’re persuaded to give you the chance you’re looking for.

[By the way, join me on Facebook for daily ideas: www.fb.com/gerardlerouxonline]

Here Are the 3 Ideas

ONE – Collect and add testimonials from your supervisor, your colleagues, even clients – collect positive comments such as: “Joe is a positive, skilled, hard working professional.” “Joe can handle pressure well.” “If there’s a crisis, I’d want Joe by my side, for sure.”

 Include excerpts of these in your CV. They’re persuasive. They show you’re a valuable team player who’s not just another bum-on-a-seat to the employer. You make a contribution.

Hey, and if your performance isn’t up to this standard, then work on it. Get it there. Be that great person that everyone likes to work with. Start where you are. Don’t wait for the new opportunity to be the person you can be. Be it now.

 TWO – Continue learning – go to the library and read 1 book every month – see that it relates strongly to your field of work. It could be focused on what you do, how you do it, who is doing it, where it’s being done. For example if you’re in the medical field, say a paramedic, you can read books/websites on: improving your knowledge of medicine, physiology, pharmaceuticals and methods; books on famous people in the medical sector; websites or blogs of people who do what you do; etc. Get it?

Take any opportunity to learn something new – either via a course, or when you work with someone more qualified than you. Ask someone at work to teach you something new. Document it. What did you learn? How will it help you.

This shows you’re serious about your career. Newsflash! Not everybody is! Show that you are. This can be your competitive advantage – what makes you special.

THREE – Put the list of books/websites etc. in your CV. Even include and addendum (a CV add-on) where you list them and write a brief summary of what you learned and how you’ve applied what you’ve learned in your job.

Keep a log of incidents you’ve worked on, like a diary. At the end of every day, write a brief description of what you experienced that day. Explain the situation and then explain what your role was in assisting. How are you now a better qualified/skilled person, more valuable to your employer.

Put this log in your CV – well, perhaps only include the biggest events (maybe a collection of 10). This again will show thoroughness and passion on your part.

Easy to do, no? So instead of applying for jobs, coming across as jaded and as someone having lost interest in your job or career, you come across as a learner, with energy and passion, as someone who’s always making themselves more valuable, as someone serious about making a contribution.

Don’t be amazed when you start getting more and better paying job offers.

Food for Thought: Summer is coming here in the Cape. Just brilliant days in between the rain. As I’m looking out of my office window, the sun is lighting up Jet’s (my wife’s horse) back as he cruises around the paddock nibbling on tufts of grass. Just a perfect picture. What’s the food for thought? There are many simple moments in life that pass us by. Let’s slow down a minute here and there to notice them. They refresh us.

I’m here for you.

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9 Ideas to “Fire” up Your Job Search or Career

Too often we wait. We give up. We make excuses.

As a result we remain stuck. In our “lousy job”, in an “impossible” job market, or in an “unfair” country.

But imagine if you do some of this stuff below – only takes a few minutes – how would your life / job search / career change?

[This is inspired by a post on Seth Godin’s blog today.]

 Send a handwritten and personal thank you note to a … Colleague, interviewer, networking contact, previous employer for giving you a good reference.

Write a blog post about your job, the products you work with, how you’re improving … If you sell copiers shouldn’t you be an expert? Why not have a blog? If you’re a PA, why not share what makes you a great PA on your blog? Write about how you helped someone at work, a client, a colleague, what problems you’ve helped solve?

Research and post a short article about how something in your industry works … Job hunters: what about researching and doing a 1 page write-up on a special challenge facing the industry you’re in, your thoughts/research on what could help. Imagine leaving that with an employer after an interview as an impression maker.

 Read the first three chapters of a business or other how-to book … Or just one chapter, and ask, how can I apply this NOW in my job? Brainstorm it, take definite steps to apply it.

 Take a map, draw a 5 km radius circle around where you live. Make it a mission to discover – over the next month, every company that you could perhaps work for within that area. Make a list. Use Google Places / Local.

 Toss aside your CV. Write a half page mini CV for yourself. Hand it out. Post it up on my FB page, get comments and input. www.fb.com/gerardlerouxonline

 Arrange 5 interviews in the next week with anyone you know – actually sit down with them, present who you are, what you do … make it professional, quick, slick and ultra well organized … and ask: “considering what I’m looking for, who do you know that could be of help to me in getting where I want to be?” Make another 5 such appointments. Fill your diary.

 Set a few definite goals and take action – lose weight, get fit, clean up the house, paint a room, tackle something biggish. Be busy, feel productive, have something to be proud of.

 Go for a ten minute walk and come back with at least five written ideas on how to improve what you offer the world … Or just think of what value you offer the world … put it in words, what difference do you make?

 So, what do you think? Action saves us. Action gets results. Action inspires a positive spirit. Action impresses others. Actions make us feel good. Action motivates us. We get hired because we’re people of action, busy getting ourselves unstuck.

Have you done something like the above made a big difference? Share it with me on Facebook: www.fb.com/gerardlerouxonline

Food for Thought:

What new thing are you building? What new approach are you using? What are you experimenting with? What bold thing are you trying? How are you trying to make things better?

Oh, and know anyone who needs more straight talk like this on their job hunt: Get my free course here, just send an e-mail to 12jss@getresponse.com. It’s the best help they’ll get. For nothing.

1 Idea to Make Your CV More Exciting

Do you think of a CV as exciting? Interesting? Absorbing?

Here’s an idea to help you make your CV more exciting – to employers, even recruiters. And if it’s more exciting, it’ll get more attention. And with more attention likely come more job interviews, more and better job offers.

 Are You Trapped on This Road to Nowhere?

So, do you think of a CV as exciting? Probably not. And especially if you’re in accounts, admin, finance, law or engineering. Even IT. Yawn! And yawn again!

And yet … in a hectic, busy, cluttered, crowded job market, we expect to send out a 5 page CV full of technical detail about our “duties” and “responsibilities” and expect it to be read?

Yes, recruiters get faced with CVs containing sometimes identical bulleted lists (if they’re lucky) of duties. No-one seems to be putting their hand up and saying: “Hey, I’m your guy!” Instead they give 5 pages of bland, repetitious detail and effectively say to the recruiter or hiring company:

 “I could be the one, I could be special, but I’m not going to tell you why or how – in fact I’m not even sure why or how myself – so here’s 5 pages, maybe you can figure it out.”

It’s a road to nowhere.

 1 Idea Can Turn You Around

Now, just because you’re in Finance (or law or engineering, etc) doesn’t mean you have to be boring. Money isn’t boring. You get hired not because you can “do” auditing, accounting, engineering, legal stuff or admin etc. – BUT – because you do it well, you provide a benefit, you improve things, you’re a doer, a results getter.

You’re a cog in a money making machine: you get clean audits, you save money, you eliminate risks, you eliminate backlogs, you provide quality financial data to the CEO, you build bridges on-time and on-budget, you prevent law suits, you make sure invoices go out on time, you make sure money is collected.

This is exciting stuff to a business owner who needs it. So …

  •  If you streamlined the dept from 12 people to 6 and increased productivity – people need to know
  • If you recovered R2m from SARS last year – people need to know
  • If you set up BI systems that have improved data availability from 4 weeks to ‘real time’ – people need to know.
  • If you improved on-time invoice send outs from 74% to 96% – people need to know
  • If you improved collections, reducing 120 day accounts by 73%, say so, people need to know

Not coming out and saying that in a crisp way, not putting these facts in the spotlight in your CV helps no-one.

Metrics … figures … tangible results … these are the things that make a CV exciting to an employer. And to a recruiter they mean that they have the ammunition to sell you with. Spotlight them. Feature them. Highlight them.

Food for Thought:

 “Success comes from focus. Winners focus. Losers spray.” Steve Chandler

My 7 year old son, Ethan dropped his Lego pirate ship this morning. He was upset. Inconsolably. But he managed to focus, and before long had rebuilt it. And even better one. With 8 cannons! Focus is cool.

Join me on Facebook: www.fb.com/gerardlerouxonline.

2 Magic Job Search Stories

Hi, let me tell you 2 quick – magic – little stories. And a lesson.

Stefan did it. Brent did it. Both out of work and running out of cash, they did what they knew would work to change their situation. They took a streetfighter approach. They knocked on doors. Yes. They rocked up at businesses unannounced, presented themselves as useful and asked for a job.

Both got jobs within days. Almost like magic in a tight market. Stefan’s job came with a brand new Quashqai. Brent’s job was within a 5min drive from home.

It takes guts. BUT when last did you take a streetfighter approach? Neither Stefan or Brent went to the Internet. Neither spoke to agencies. They just said to themselves: who could use someone like me? who would I like to work for? what can I offer them? And then the took immediate action.

So, when last did you make a list of businesses in your area that you’d like to work for?

And have you formulated a message to tell them?

An Example

Here’s an example:

“Hi, my name is Thabo. I’m an NDip Engineering graduate … I can calculate how much steel you need in that new bridge you’re building, I can do the CAD drawings, I can check your drawings for mistakes, I can double check your calculations, I can go on site and measure up, I can carry the tools, I can watch the sub-contractor — what would you like me to do? When can I start? Take me on for a week free. If I’m good – I will be – we can talk about pay.”

It may not work on the first try, but let me tell you this, by the time Thabo shows up for the 4th week running – well dressed, confident, willing, organized – eventually he’ll have more job offers than he knows what to do with.

OR we can sit behind our PC applying for jobs online, sending CVs into the air. But easy often doesn’t cut it and it leaves us feeling uncertain.

For this kind of ‘streetfighter’ approach I recommend a “Guerrilla” CV – it’s usually one page, it’s designed for quick, powerful impact when meeting people and for handing out to your contacts. Let me know if you’d like to know more. I specialise in writing them – I’m the only one in SA that does.

Food for Thought:

“Light the fire, don’t warm yourself by it. What you are being, the stand you take in life, creates what you’re experiencing. Not the other way around like 98% of all people think.” Werner Erhard

I’m here for you.

Gerard le Roux
CV Writer | Job Search Coach
gerard@jobsearching.co.za
www.wowCV.net | www.careerandsuccess.info
Ph 083 7445454

Ways I can assist you:
Writing strategic personal and business CVs / resumes / cover letters / profiles (with the aim of getting more job interviews, more job offers) (www.wowcv.net)
My coaching ‘inner circle, “Career & Success” (www.careerandsuccess.info) (helping people achieve their job search, career and personal goals)

Ready for a Bold Approach, Tired of “NO Reply at All”

Took this from my Jobsearching.co.za site:

Got a mail from a client who wants to return to SA, but is having a tough time. She’s getting no response to perfect positions for her, there are delays, long bureaucratic processes, etc. (she’s in the public and NGO sector as a highly qualified Lawyer).

Heres my reply:

Thanks for the update. Job hunting can be strange. Frequently it’s a process that ‘has to be followed’ by employers even when they actually already know who they’ll be appointing. An unfortunate truth. Ads are also placed erroneously. Hiring decisions are changed midstream.

And it all adds up to chaos for the job hunter, who can get disillusioned, confused and even start to think it’s actually them that there’s something wrong with.

Add to that a plethora of agencies vying for the same business and the picture gets even worse. On top of that add the ‘stories’ they tell you if you don’t get the job – anything but the truth, just to get you off their back – and you end up really confused.

Here’s what I suggested instead:

I’d suggest taking a more direct approach. Make it a project, over the next month, to research ‘cool’ organisations that do the stuff you want to be involved in. Find out about them. Find out about the people working there.

Define what it is that you could offer them in terms of skills/expertise – value. Find out who the decision makers are. And send them a personal letter (NO CV at this stage).

When you think about it it’s a logical common sense approach, yes? You effectively pre-empt. You get in on things way ahead of the game. Not many do it properly (they just send a CV and hope). They’re scared.

What do you think?

I say, take back control, take back the power. Be bold. Ask for what you want. Target it. Be smart. Get it.

By the way, the entire spirit of my coaching and learning programme Career & Success INNER CIRCLE is like what you’re reading here. And it provides step by step, practical methods for you to take this bolder, more proactive approach.

Go here for more: www.careerandsuccess.info

What Certainty is There in an Uncertain Job Hunting World?

In getting into shape – enough is enough after all – and doing it this way: click here for the program I’m using (5kgs and 8cm off my waist, feeling strong, fit and pretty ooh, ah) – reminds me of a job hunting lesson that’s pretty critical to understand. Here it is:

“Nothing guarantees success” (in job hunting at least).

You can try getting 5 degrees (busy writing a CV right now for someone who has an LLB, LLM, PGDip, MComm, MBA and is now in the process of getting a PhD). But you may still have job market challenges. You can try clever tricks (which sometimes work … and sometimes don’t).  But, again, there’s no guarantee of success short term. No magic bullet, y’know:

“If you do THIS, you will succeed. Guaranteed.”

Because it’s not true with fitness for example. If you do 20 mins of push ups, squats, hill sprints and sit ups daily; and you eat more veggies and less sugar and mashed potatoes or pap and gravy, you’re pretty much 100% guaranteed to lose weight and get strong and fit.

And it’s not true with life in general. If you plan well, if you are diligent, generally things work out pretty well. With job hunting however it seems there are too many uncontrollable factors at work:

  • Ill informed recruiters. HR people with tick-box mentality
  • Line managers who want a blond
  • MD’s who have a niece for the job
  • Personal power plays, where the hirer needs a lamb, not a tiger
  • Interviewers who woke up on the wrong side of the bed
  • Personnel agents who want to see your  salary slip otherwise: “the interview’s off!” – leaving you in a weakened negotiating position.

Is there any certainty to be had?

  • Yes. It’s in the persistence. Persisting with doing the right things. Over and over and over again.
  • Yes. It’s in being willing to try new ways of doing things.
  • Yes. It’s in applying advice.
  • Yes. It’s in realising that you can get a job without the help of a recruiter, agent or job ad website.
  • And it’s sometimes realising that you have to make some personal adjustments to attitude.

It’s not a straight line. It’s an obstacle course. But if you persist you can win. Go for it. Keep at it.

Here’s something free to help you along the right job hunting roads: “12 Job Search Secrets – End your frustrating and stalled job hunt now” – just send an e-mail to 12jss@getresponse.com

A forgotten key to interview success

Had an interesting meeting with a client yesterday. She has a top government post (non-political) and carries massive responsibility working with Gov. ministers.

She mentioned something interesting:

When she recruits people she looks for “likeable” people.

Why is this exciting? And it is. Because it means that the playing fields are much more ‘level’ than we think.

It means that your “likeability” – smiling, looking people in the eyes, being relaxed but well organised, professional but still with a sparkle in your eye – can win the job for you in the face or better qualified competition.

Make It Even More Powerful

And this factor is made even more powerful when you don’t only rely on recruiters for job opportunities (they put a greater emphasis on exactly the right qualifications and experience.)

It means that if you’re meeting people, attending seminars, participating in forums, keeping contact with colleagues in your industry and on LinkedIn.com and you’re being “nice”, “likeable”, “agreeable”, “amiable”, “kind”, “polite” there’s a MUCH better chance of early success in the job market.

Another Interesting Fact

Oh, and by the way this high performing client – has no degree, no diploma – and yet has served 3 Presidents. The playing field indeed is flatter than we think.

By the way … see a copy of a CV I wrote that got the client (who had no qualifications and patchy experience) 3 job interviews immediately, a choice of offers, and the highest seniority position (Group Procurement Manager) he’s ever had. Go to www.wowcv.net/johnjonas.pdf

PS Being likeable isn’t that easy when all you can think about is how tough things are and you’re feeling unhealthy and stressed. Exercise is often a key to turning this around. I recommend this: click here