How should you play your professional hand when it comes to career poker?
A few months back, right before the holidays, I had received a call from a job seeker who was referred to me. She was rather distraught that she had just been laid off right before Thanksgiving. She had a great resume with good stability and I told her not to worry, that I would do whatever I could to help her.
The next day, we met for coffee in at a Starbucks in downtown. She proceeded to explain that she had never been laid off before and didn’t know how to handle it. She went on to tell me that she was the breadwinner in her family, and expressed that this was extra difficult, with it being around the holidays and having two children to take care of.
Does this story sound familiar? It is a story that many a
job seeker I have met with has faced. I see it all too often where an
intelligent, capable employee is laid off or let go for some reason or another
and it proceeds to break their bank and their spirit. When someone is laid off
around the holidays, it can occur as even more challenging for that job seeker.
So how is this story any different than all the others out
there about unemployed job seekers who are despondent and do not see any access
to having their old career or any career back? This story is about perspective.
It is about how one’s perspective can shift the way a circumstance occurs and
in turn, shift the outcome of that person’s future.
That day, I sat there and listed empathetically to the story
I had heard all too many times before, but on this very special day, I decided
to offer some coaching that I don’t always offer. I asked her how that
perspective was working out for.
She replied “What perspective?”
I responded “The perspective that your circumstances are
outside of your control and that your holidays are going to be miserable, you
are bad and/or wrong for having been laid off and that you will never find
another job or at least not as good or well paying of a job.”
She laughed nervously, and then took a moment to think
about. “I guess it kind of sucks.”
“Yes,” I concurred, “It does, doesn’t it?” I continued on,
“Are you open to looking at this situation from a different perspective that
could give you access to having one of the best holidays of your life.”
She looked at me incredulously but answered with a slight
I went on to discuss with her how her thoughts and her words
were going to create exactly what she feared most: no job and no money for her
family. The only thing we have in life is our thoughts and what we say about
them. In her case, she was saying what many unemployed people say: “It’s hard,”
“I won’t find a job,” “I cannot find a job,” “I am not as young as I used to
What happens when we use this language and think these
disempowering thoughts, I explained, is that we begin to create that
disempowering reality as the truth. Most people sit around hoping for a miracle
or some even go out and aggressively look for a job “hoping” that something good
will turn out for them, but the language they use and the thoughts they think
are counter productive to their intended outcome: getting a job.
“So what do I do?” she asked. Well that is the question,
isn’t it? What can you do to alter the way you think, act and speak so that
your thoughts and words align with your intention?
“What would it be like,” I asked “If you shifted your
perspective and saw this as an opportunity rather than an obstacle?”
“I am not sure I understand,” she replied confused.
“When was the last time you had a month or more off around
the holidays with your husband and children where you got to enjoy every moment
“I cannot remember,” she responded.
“What if…you were to look at this lay off as a gift. A
chance to spend a month off with your family and to cherish every moment you
have with them and know without a shadow of a doubt that you will have an even
better job come the new year?”
“That would be a miracle!” She exclaimed. “How would I
possibly do that?”
We sat down and went through how to put together an
intentional action plan, including a statement of intent and a daily
declaration. That day, we created a statement of intent and a daily
declaration for Jane. By the time we completed our interview, she had access to a new perspective on
her job search and a new action plan on how to be effective in achieving her
was Jane. She was in tears. At first, I was worried that something had happened,
but through her tears she managed to get out “Jennifer, I want you to know,
that these are not tears of sadness, rather, they are tears of joy. Thanks to
your coaching and feedback I have had the most amazing last few weeks
celebrating the holidays with my family and that wouldn’t have been possible if
you had not helped me shift my perspective. I also want you to know that I have
not found a job yet, but it does not event concern me. I have been doing my
daily declaration and focusing on my statement of intent every day and there is
not a question in my mind that I will have a job come the New Year. Thank you
for what you taught me.”
Less than two weeks later, I got a call a few days after the
New Year and it was Jane, “Jennifer, I want you to know that I got a job, and
not only that, it is closer to home and pays me more money. Thank you for what
you taught me. I will always remember you.”
This story is an example of what you can get if you are willing to shift your perspective and is the opening story of my upcoming book “Stop Hoping…Start Hunting!” Stay tuned, as the book should be widely available by the end of this year.
If you want someone to give you a good reference for a potential job, what is the appropriate reference etiquette?
Larry Benet, the most well-networked man on the planet, once told me that “Your Network = Your Networth.” Owning a staffing firm, I have found this to be very accurate. A lot of job seekers under value the resources that are right under their noses, primarily their social media accounts such as Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook. No matter who you are, or what your employment status is, chances are that you are attending a holiday party or two this holiday season. Networking is one of the best ways to find a new position, as 80% of jobs are found through word of mouth. That said, it is important to get a business card from each person who you meet at a party. I always recommend connecting with an individual within 24 hours after meeting them at a party via one of your primary social media accoutns. This shows enthusiasm and good follow up skills. Additionally, quick follow up makes you more memorable. So remember, the next time you are a holiday party, have a goal of getting at least 3 or more business cards and following up with those individuals via social media within 24 hours. Your social media accounts will keep you connected to them even after the holidays are over!
Be careful what you post! Whether or not you know it, employers are Googling you. You need to be aware of who you are connected with on various social media sites and what others can or cannot see on your profile.
What are the things you need to know about how to effectively work with a Recruiter:
1. Don’t be afraid to use your recruiter as a resource to find out information about the market. Recruiters have their fingers on the pulse of what is happening with their niche market.
2. Always be 100% honest with your recruiter about everything from your academic credentials to your past employment. If a recruiter finds out you lied to them, they will likely not work with you again or worse, black-list you.
3. Work with your recruiter to help them understand your ideal job that way they don’t waste your time by sending you out on positions that are not the right fit. Come up with your own “Wishlist” and work with your recruiter on making sure they understand what is on your “Wishlist”
4. ALWAYS keep a running list of where your resume was sent and by whom it was sent. This includes even your own resume submissions. The only time you should not know where your resume has been sent is if it was submitted for a confidential position.
5. SCREEN YOUR RECRUITERS-there are good recruiters and there are bad recruiters out there. It is fine to work with more then one recruiter, but be careful who you choose to represent you.
6. Expect that your recruiter will likely call you anywhere from a couple of times a week to once a month depending on how hot your industry is.
7. Most recruiters should prepare you for interviews by giving you inside information about what to expect and interview tips, but not all do.
8. You will be expected to meet with a recruiter in person and in some cases they may test you if you are more junior or if the client requires it. If you are looking to get a position out of area then you should get Skype so that you can interview with out of state recruiters.
9. DO NOT waste your time or your recruiter’s time by going on interviews that are not of interest to you. If a recruiter presents an opportunity to you that does not interest you, DO NOT have them submit your resume in the first place. Also, if you are confirmed for an interview, you must give at least 24 hours notice to cancel the interview (unless an emergency comes up), however, cancelling interviews in general can make you appear flakey and unreliable. If you cancel or reschedule more then one interview, a recruiter may not want to represent you again.
10. Recruiters will negotiate your salary and will present you opportunities as they arise. Be clear with your recruiter about your current compensation and what you expect to be compensated in your next position.
11. Do not expect your recruiters to always call you. There may be 100 or more recruiters in Los Angeles, however, there are thousands of job seekers. The phone goes both ways and don’t be afraid to check in every now and again.
12. Do not take it personally if you recruiter does not call you for a position that they called someone else for. They may have not gotten around to calling you yet or they might not have thought it was the best fit for you based on your “Wishlist.”
13. Call or email your recruiter once a week to check in if you are unemployed or every other week if you are employed.
14. Always check your recruiter’s website for new postings and email them if you see something that might be a fit or that would potentially interest you.
15. RECRUITERS DO NOT WORK FOR YOU THEY WORK FOR THE COMPANIES WHO ARE PAYING THEM. It is important to remember that recruiters work for free for the job seekers and that we do our best to accommodate everyone that we can. Please be considerate and respectful of a recruiters time when working with them and if you treat your recruiter well they can be your best ally.
I am always getting asked about what a good cover letter should look like. Below is a sample you could use as a reference when drafting a letter:
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am very interested in working with XXX in a XXX position. Enclosed is a copy of my resume for your consideration and review. I feel that my X and Y skills could be a tremendous asset to your company.
I have spent the last 10+ years xxx and xxx as a Title Here in the xxx field. Though I thoroughly enjoyed my time in my last position, I am ready to pursue new horizons.
I am committed to contributing my expertise to XXX, while learning and developing new skills that will facilitate company growth and expansion. My combination of in-depth skilled training and practical experiences at various companies makes me a unique candidate to contribute to the efficiency of the organization. I pride myself on fostering a positive mental attitude both in myself and the team around me.
Should you have any additional questions about my background, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to meeting with you in person to discuss my qualifications and to discuss how I can be a resource for your team. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Making a good first impression is important on any occasion, but one of the most important first impressions you will ever make is the day you start a new job. This is true for both temporary assignments and for full time positions. I have had people get hired on their first day of a temporary assignment because they made such a great first impression, and I have also had people get fired after only a few days in a full time position because they made a poor first impression. What are a few rules of thumb when it comes to making a good first impression when starting any new job be it temporary or permanent?
1) Always dress professionally your first day (I recommend wearing a suit) unless otherwise informed by the company or your recruiter. It is better to be over-dressed then under-dressed.
2) Show up at least 15 minutes early. The worst thing you can do the first day of a new job is to show up late.
3) Be prepared! Find out in advance what you need to know before your first day. For example, finding out if there is any paperwork that needs to be completed.
4) Be polite to everyone in the office from the receptionist to the executives.
5) Listen attentively to everything that is said to you.
6) Take notes if and when necessary regarding your new job duties.
7) Stick to the allotted break time and lunch time until otherwise informed.
If you don’t know what is appropriate when it comes to office etiquette, then don’t be afraid to ask! Each company has it’s own policies and procedures.