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)

2 Approaches to Writing a CV, Inspired by Seth Godin

Your CV is a pretty critical document. It goes ahead of you. It tells a story. It influences. It persuades. It gets you found. But your CV can be the opposite of all that too. It can be a powerless.

Here’s one idea inspired by Seth Godin (marketing guru)  to make an improvement.

Seth Godin wrote a few days back about 2 approaches to marketing. One is where you say to the customer: “What do you want?” And then give it to them. The other is: “Here’s what I have for you. Choose.”

Which is best? He used the analogy of a restaurant to explain.

Say you go to a restaurant. And instead of offering you a menu, they ask, “what would you like?” As – amazing – as that sounds, actually, for me, that wouldn’t be that great. It requires too much thinking. Suddenly when faced with all that choice, the offer isn’t that compelling, I’m not sure what to do. I hesitate.

Instead restaurants offer a menu. Like this (droool!):

  • Black Forest Double Chocolate Cake – decadent, rich chocolate cake packed with brandy soaked cherries.
  • Peach Melba – Peaches sautéed in rum over vanilla ice cream topped with fresh raspberries and sauce.

Yes, droool! So the choice is limited. But, man, it catches the imagination. So much better than, “what would you like?”

So when job hunting, with your CV, in job interviews, what’s your approach? Do you …

1) Present your experience, qualifications and then say, “what do you think, can I do something for you?”

Or do you …

2) Present a small number of really exciting benefits / results you can deliver – backed up with examples:

    • how as an Administrator you implemented a process that sped up customer service by 50%;
    • how as an Engineer your idea for a new design / product led to an 37% increase in sales so that the division exceeded budget by 23% in the 1st year and by 63% the 2nd year;
    • how because of your organizational abilities as a PA, your boss has never missed a flight or mislaid a single document;
    • how because of your relationship building skill, as a Sales Rep you’ve often won new accounts away from the competition (even though your prices are higher).

Is your CV a ‘menu’ of benefits to the employer? Quicker service; increased sales; total reliability; business growth? Or is it a list of personal details, duties and responsibilities – hoping that the employer will – somehow?? – get turned on by it enough to pick up the phone to call you.

[It’s this kind of ‘entrepreneurial’ thinking I teach within my member’s only INNER CIRCLE called Career & Success. It’s cheap to join. Go here: www.careerandsuccess.info]

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]

What Your CV Needs to do For You to Be Taken Seriously – 9 Specific Things

Background: someone sent me their CV for review. It was written by a recruitment agency. The individual is looking to make a career change from the military to private sector. This is entirely do-able, but the CV really needs to ‘hit’ hard for them. Here’s my answer to her:

For an employer reviewing your CV, really, they must:

… see benefit to themselves, they must see that you have skills they need, they must see that you are someone who can work hard and well for them, that you can provide the benefit they need, and more.

So, you want to highlight things you’ve achieved –

  1. how you’ve reduced backlogs,
  2. how you’ve worked with difficult people successfully,
  3. how you’ve provided accurate, on-time services,
  4. how you’ve kept an organized, up-to-date office,
  5. how you’ve ensured compliance to regulations,
  6. how you’ve done the work of 2 people (saving money, etc),
  7. how you’ve streamlined processes (again, saving resources),
  8. how you’ve learned new things quickly, etc, etc.
  9. You want to show people have trusted you with much and you’ve delivered, on-target, on-time.

All of this needs to be highlighted and detailed in various ways in the CV in order to get attention and to be taken seriously. If all you have is a list of “duties”, you could be in trouble.

(Recruitment people often have no idea of what a CV can be, they just use the same old approach, one that they’ve been using for the last 40 years.)

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.

Warning: My CV Writing Service May Not Be for You!

It’s true.

I’ve just added this warning to my CV Writing Service details:

This is for your protection. And mine.

If you’re looking for a traditional CV – 10 pages long, a cover page with a clip-art image of two people shaking hands on it with your name in big bold type and enveloped in scrolls … if you’re looking for a CV that begins with your “Personal Details” followed by your “Secondary School Details” … a CV that has long lists of your “Duties and Responsibilities” … then let me be clear, my service is NOT for you.

However … if you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone a little, if you feel it’s time to ‘push the envelope’ in your efforts to market yourself, if you’re willing to take a bolder, fresher, more to the point approach in which you distinguish yourself (in a competitive and cluttered job market, not a bad idea!); if you view yourself as a ‘business’; if you want to present yourself as a ‘business solution’ to a company (whether you’re a PA or CEO) – even though you’re employed …

… then you’re the kind of person I LOVE dealing with. You’re the reason I do what I do. And together we’ll get great results. My service very definitely IS for you.

Go to www.wowcv.net/professional-cv-writing for more. Or contact me direct on gerard [at] jobsearching.co.za

The Two Roads to Your Next Job – Why You May be Stuck, How to Get Unstuck

[This is an excerpt from my Get a Job Fast programme]

The job searching road you’re on may have started out smooth and free flowing. But likely it deteriorated fast. And now you’re stuck in traffic with no end in sight. Is there an exit? Is there another way?

In job hunting, there are two roads. Road A. And Road B. Here’s a quick synopsis of what they are. Try to figure out 1) which you’re on; and 2) which one you should be on. One leads to frustration. Another to freedom … or at least another job options, sooner, quicker, faster.

Job Hunting Road A:

Road A has a dedicated lane for perfect people (qualifications, experience, race, age, etc). For everyone else, it’s congested, slow, frustrating, with plenty of breakdowns along the way.

Road A is the world of employment agencies, job adverts and junior HR people filtering you out in a pile of many other similar looking people. It has a tick-box mentality and if you don’t immediately appear to meet a few criteria, you’re don’t get a look in. It’s known for poor service.

On Road A, people easily become demoralised. Even angry. It’s a congested, frustrating road. So use path A, but be warned. What’s your experience been?

Job Hunting Road B:

Very few know about it. But with it you always have a way forward, you can get unstuck. You have more control – it’s not a passive “apply and wait and hope for the phone to ring” type approach.

You can decide what to target. You can go after what you want. You can take ‘massive action’. You can take the initiative. You can follow up. You can set your own schedule. You can make things happen. You can land dream interviews.

But of course it takes guts. And preparation. And focus. And willingness to step outside some comfort zones. Road B is what Get a Job Fast is all about. It’ll give you alternative strategies. So instead of the helplessness of Road A, you’ll be equipped with smart, ‘guerrilla’ style, highly effective tactics to put to work. And they work fast.

[Get a Job Fast is a learning programme which will help you discover the ‘ins and outs’ of a job hunt in which you take control, where you don’t sit, wait and hope, but in which you make things happen. The end result is more job interviews, more job offers, faster. It’s an approach that cannot fail. Visit www.careerandsuccess.info to apply.]

 

5 Ways to Break Out of the Rat-Race & Become Financially Independent

If you’re disillusioned with what you thought would be a promising, exciting, rewarding career … but where it’s turning out to be a more of a Guinea-Pig-cage-tread-wheel-like-existence, then here are some ideas.

You may feel frustrated at how your company has no interest in your advancement, they just want to keep you where you are. Or you may feel depressed at how you spend more time in traffic than with your kids; how although you may live comfortably, you’re deeply in debt.

And you’re wondering whether you can keep this up!

Okay, so here are some options to consider. Please join the conversation, if you have ideas place your comments below! This article will be added to as fresh ideas come up. Please note none of this should be considered “financial advice.”

1) Start your own business.

This involves planning, networking, identifying products, developing products, testing the market, seeking funding, building a client base, talking to potential partners, etc.

Obviously the downside to this is that there’s a lot of work to do and there’s always risk. But when one takes a long term view, focusing on a 2 year plan for example, where you make slow but consistent progress toward your goal this is an exciting route to take.

My credo personally has for a long time been: “what am I building?” Instead of just living hand-to-mouth, spending what I earn every month, I like to know that I’m building something that will free me later on.

Often we just sit, overwhelmed by the prospect of building something, so we do nothing. Yet when we look back, we did have time, we did have an idea, but we did nothing much to pursue it. That’s a pity.

Like the saying goes: “when’s the best time to plant a tree? 20 Years ago. The next best time is today.” Bill Gates started from a garage.

My experience:  the above is, by the way, was my route out of the rat-race back in 2000 – 2002. I was doing well working for a personnel agency business. I had clients such as Old Mutual, Shell, Deloitte, Pick ‘n Pay, Shoprite, and BP. But man, I was stressed out. And I asked myself – as always! – “what am I building?”

All along I had an idea. During those 2 years I developed it and made the break in 2002. It started out slow – nerve wracking! – but ultimately as I adapted, it shaped up to be a business that is doing better than ever now in 2013, 12 years down the line.

I live in the country, I work from a home office (a converted horse stable), we have a 4 dogs, 2 cats, a rabbit, a hamster and a horse cruising around our property. The kids have a good, large, healthy environment to grow up in. They’re 11 and 8 now.

Also note: small businesses often fail by trying to apply big business marketing tactics that just drain cash and don’t work. Check out sites like this one (there are many, but this one is a little passion-project of mine!): www.gerardsmarketingideas.info – there’s a free offer there and a bunch of good ideas that will help get more customers.

2) Invest in property.

This is where ultimately the rental income you earn from a property investment  will outstrip your monthly salary. At which point you quit! You also benefit by the growth of the capital asset’s value (eg. a house or flat bought for R350 000 today will grow in capital value by maybe 10% pa PLUS all the while you’ll be earning a rental of perhaps R2 500 pm for it.)

You can similarly invest in equities/shares or unit trusts where also earnings grow to eventually outstrip your salary.

This approach requires very disciplined saving, limiting one’s lifestyle and lots of patience. It also requires having a long-term outlook, this is not for making a ‘quick buck’.

They call compound interest a “miracle” considering how money multiplies over time, how a little becomes a lot given the passage of time and with this phenomenon of interest on interest.

Every house is built brick by brick. The longest journey starts with a single step. A fortune is built little by little. It’s important to make a start. To take action.

3) Write a book.

It’s actually not that complicated! Anyone can do it. Write about your own life experience, keep it focused on “how to.” For example:

  • “How to cope as a single parent”,
  • “Kicking ass at work as a PA”,
  • “How to manage events, the checklist book to make sure you don’t miss a single detail”,
  • “How to analyse your manufacturing company’s accounts and immediately identify how to save 20% in costs and raise production by up to 25%.”

There are so many topics to cover – where of course you aim to help the reader in some way – that it’s impossible not to find some niche of interest.

Look at your work environment: what could be done better? what solutions have you come up with to get things done better, simpler faster? what ideas have you collected from your reading of books or mentoring or seeing others work that can be collected together in a book or guide.

And then initially just publish it yourself – really just finding someone to do the layout (get help at Fiverr.com) and then offering it for sale to people who’ll be interested. You don’t have to go the route of going to a big publisher. It’s a draining process with only a very small possibility of success and actually only a small financial reward in most cases.

Here’s a resource I recommend if you need some guidance on this, you have to pay for it but it’s a small investment considering how this project may free you and that you’ll have step-by-step help. Click Here

Also don’t underestimate what kind of effect this can have on your career – if you write a guide on topics related to your work, how to do it well, how to make a difference – you’ll be taken more seriously, perhaps be paid more because you add value, secure better paying jobs and certainly have more options to follow.

4) This is perhaps the easiest of all.

It’s easy because it means plugging into an already successful system. Try out a system offered by the likes of Multisure, It gives you the opportunity to build a small team that promotes in-demand product offerings. And where you benefit by earning commissions earned by the team (this is very cool because it’s not just you on your own).

This is the kind of opportunity that requires very low start up (as low as R150) and provides excellent training & support, can be done in one’s own time (sometimes just using e-mail, the phone and internet) and has very good earning potential.

Join this kind of program under the umbrella of a good coach who’ll guide and motivate you and this could be a great opportunity.

The downside is that it’s hard work and requires discipline. The likes of Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Dad) highly recommend it though. He recommends it for the training one gets and for the fact that you’re building a business that works for you (ie. you benefit by the team’s effort).

Other opportunities include Herbalife, AVON & Tupperware. But I prefer an opportunity where there’s no physical stock to carry and demonstrate. That way I can work from home and all hours. So this is something that can work as either a full time or part time business building exercise.

[Drop me an e-mailgerardlr@gmail.com – and I’ll send you more info on what I recommend. Tell me a little about yourself (your current job and qualifications, what you’re looking for) and I’ll send you some more info on what I recommend.]

5) Start a small consultancy.

This is where you offer some service that you can perform for clients after hours. It could be some business service – like writing business plans, designing logos, typing transcripts, bookkeeping – or even offering a personal service like organizing (garages, home storage, cupboard space – y’know just like you’ve seen people do on Oprah, etc).

This is obviously a tough choice because of the time involved. It’s intense. But it may be a possibility for you.

There certainly are other opportunities, and I’ll be adding further ideas right here. Please add to the conversation, comment below here and I’ll try to add your ideas!