Tag Archives: career search

I apologize to the young adult workers

Because the majority of the jobseekers who attend my workshops are mature workers—40 years and older—I spend a great deal of time talking about the benefits they offer perspective employers. We’re easily spotted with hair that is graying or has gone completely white. We dress conservatively and usually appropriately for the job search. We prefer to talk on the phone as opposed to texting–imaging that.

I harp on how dependable we are, our extensive job-related knowledge and excellent interpersonal skills. I impress that we want to work and put in a day’s work, earn our dollar. Our ability to handle difficult situations or accept loss is second nature, as we’ve lost (people, jobs, finances, etc.) in the past.

But I have to apologize. What I have been neglecting are the growing number of young adult workers who are slowly but surely occupying seats in my workshop rooms. They’re attentive and respectful of my and others’ opinions. In a sense, they have matured in a very short period of time. To say they’re apathetic about their job search is incorrect. From what I see, they’re putting as much effort into their job search as the mature workers.

I’m apologizing to these folks who are among the 18% plus unemployed, who face a daunting task of finding work in a competitive work environment, who question their abilities to fit in with the 30 somethings and Baby Boomers. These are young bucks, wide-eyed and hesitant, not knowing what to expect after graduating form college or high school.

It makes me sad to have to apologize to these deserving folks. Why? Because they should be working. All my customers should be working. But now I’m presented with people who dress differently–not entirely professionally like my older workers, more Abercrombie, The Gap, Red Sox paraphernalia. They don’t yet have the workplace lingo, don’t quite understand how to show their dependability. They may not understand how to interact with the highest of upper management.

More to the point, I need to develop a vocabulary for “younger workers” and intersperse it with my mature-worker speak, so the younger workers can feel part of the workshops and see themselves as valuable additions to the workforce. I’ll be working on it in the future and pay attention to the college career advisors who have a way of marketing their customers, who have no become my customers.

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For those of you who are trying, hang in there and have hope

I’m going to preface this article by saying plenty of jobseekers I know are conducting a proactive job search but to no avail.

They’re not relying completely on the job boards, placing all their cards on recruiters, sending out cookie cutter resumes, and wasting their time on more ineffective job search methods. In other words, they’re trying. I and other career trainers see your efforts and applaud you.

A recent article on wjs.com called No Market for Lazy Jobseekers, Ruth Mantell, might give you the impression that we career search pundits think conducting the proper job search will guarantee you a job. That we don’t understand the emotional and financial difficulties that consume many people who have been unemployed for one month or one year.

The article notes 10  lazy job-seeking habits. And while they may be accurate, the article doesn’t take into consideration the complexity of finding a job in today’s economy. It doesn’t feign empathy for those who have done what has been asked of them in terms of conducting the proper job search.

But our mission as job search trainers is to give guidance. It isn’t to dwell on the unfortunate realities of unemployment. To that end, we can only point out obvious mistakes, as noted in the article, and offer up suggestions that make for a more productive job search.

Some career trainers like me have lost a job, or two, and understand the despondency heightened by day after day of activity with little progress. The words “it sucks” don’t quite cover the emotional rollercoaster you…I’ve…gone through.

To say, “We get it” is accurate. We understand that telling jobseekers how to find work is often easier said than done; but, at the same time, to conduct a job search based on blasting out hundreds of résumés a month does not constitute a viable campaign.

Point two of the article, Using a Stock Résumé, is very sound advice. Violating networking etiquette is not cool, and asking only what your network can do for you is asking for trouble. There’s no arguing against Ms. Mantell’s advice. To honestly say, “I’m doing everything right but nothing’s working” is fair and should be rewarded.

For what it’s worth, I appreciate you following through on writing targeted résumés, cover letters, and approach letters; going to the interviews prepared for the tough traditional questions and even tougher behavioral question. I’m thrilled to see your efforts on LinkedIn. Glad to link up with you when you send invites to me (even with default invitations). All of this is not for naught.

When you get a job, I’m thrilled. I don’t attribute it to my advice, because you’re the one who did the leg work and sat in the hot seat. You sent the thank you letters. Some of you came back after a short stint, while others made the temp-to-perm job a permanent one. (Pete, you still owe me a cheesecake.)

I still assert that there are proper methods to use in the job search and will continue to point them out. I will not provide the slightest window of opportunity for self-pity, as this is behavior for you to harbor and not let it surface in workshops or while networking or at an interview.

I’m fond of saying, “Hang in there” when other words escape me. So that’s what I’d like you to do. Never give up. Never question your abilities, even if you’ve been off the horse for a while now. And know that you have the support of career trainers, because our mission is to help you to find work. If you read this and feel that I feel you, drop by to say, “Hey” or send an e-mail to confirm you’ve gotten my message. Hell, tell me to jump off a cliff with my condescension. Whatever works…works.

Having trouble writing your LinkedIn profile; look at the experts’ profiles

My contacts must think I’m stalking them. Every Wednesday they see my name appear in their “Who’s Viewed My Profile” on LinkedIn, and I feel guilty in a voyeuristic way.

My guilt derives from the fact that they may assume potential customers are reviewing their credentials; when, in fact, someone (I) is leading a workshop and showing their profiles as examples of how they should be written. I suppose my contacts should feel honored; I’m very selective. Nonetheless, I want my contacts to know that they’re helping the jobseekers who attend my LinkedIn workshop. And for this, I’m grateful.

To clear my conscience about using my contacts’ profiles I’m writing this entry to come clean. I want the following experts to know that I’m revealing their profiles to groups of jobseekers who appreciate seeing how constructing a LinkedIn profile is done right. I haven’t heard back from any of my contacts regarding my activity, but I’m sure more than one of them wonders why Bob McIntosh, CPRW shows up without fail every Wednesday.

I’m also writing this entry so you can emulate a good profile–not copy one verbatim; I have a contact whose profile she felt was plagiarized. That’s not the intent of visiting other’s profile. One types in their occupation in Advanced People Search and is presented with a list of people who fit the first-time profile writer. Some of the profiles may be great, some may be poor. You have to be the judge of what you consider to be a strong profile. This is how you get ideas for how to construct your profile.

On with my “confession.” One of my contacts, Louise Kursmark, told me that her profile is public, so it’s no big deal. She’s an author of many search-books and Founder and Director of Résumé Writing Academy, so I’m sure tons of people are looking at her profile anyways.

Wendy Enelow, another author, a colleague of Louise, and Director at Career Thought Leaders Consortium  graciously gave me her blessing. She was the first of my contacts who gave me the permission I sought. So I wouldn’t receive a nasty note, I decided to be safer than sorry and timidly asked her permission. She wrote a note essentially saying, “why the hell not.”

Another contact of mine, Darrell Dizoglio, a professional résumé writer, told me to “go for it.” After all, he’s getting publicity from people seeing his profile up on the wall. (In fact, one of my customers asked for his business card after my workshop, which I had handy.) I thought that was awfully noble of Darrell, and smart.

I’m sure some of them have forgotten I display their profile, even though I asked them…years ago. Howie Lyhte, PMP receives kind words from me for his extensive Experience section, as well as his handsome photograph. He’s a program/project manager who’s also known around these parts for his volunteer work for the unemployed.

Lastly, Ken Masson, my hero because of his volunteer activity and founding The New England Job Show is another profile I show to my workshop attendees. His is a great example of diversity through strong community service.

I find it necessary to share all these great profiles with my customers as a way to back up what I say. Great photos, strong Summaries, excellent Experience sections, examples of volunteerism. It’s all good. If you are struggling with your profile, check out the ones in this entry. Also, visit profiles as I suggested earlier on in this entry.

Tailor Your Résumé: It’s Not a Swiss Army Knife

Recently a jobseeker in my Résumé Writing workshop surprised me with an explosion of frustration. It bordered on anger. He certainly was incensed. I was talking about the importance of writing a tailored-made résumé for each job. He said, “You mean we have to write a separate résumé for every job? You can’t be serious.”

This was a moment for pause—pause is good when you want to make a point. “Why yes,” I said to him. “Because here’s the thing. Employer A has different needs than employer B, and employer C, and D, and E, and so on.” Your résumé needs to talk to the needs of each and every employer or it’s really doing you no good.

Whatever you to call it: “Cookie Cutter,” “Résumé in a Box,” “One-Fits-All,” this lack of concerted effort demonstrates to the employer that she’s not special. You fail to highlight the outstanding accomplishments related to the job she’s offering. Sure, you list some outstanding accomplishments, but you’re making her hunt for them, making her work.

Martin Yate says it nicely in his blog . “Have you ever looked at a Swiss army knife? It’s got knife blades, bottle openers, screwdrivers…it does practically everything. But companies aren’t hiring human Swiss army knives. They are hiring human lasers, with exceptional skills focused in a specific area.”

Some jobseekers believe that employers want to see everything they’ve done in their many years of work, when in fact employers are more interesting in knowing that you can meet their specific needs, address their specific problems.

The only way to offer them a human laser rather than a Swiss Army knife is by understanding the nature of the job and the nuances of the company. This will require thinking like the employer, who when writing the job ad has some very important requirements in mind for the next candidate she hires.” This will require you to carefully dissect the ad and decipher the accomplishments.

Make the effort. Yate states that your résumé is your most important financial document. It determines the rest of your life.

Think Before You Write!

How would you, as a recruiter or employer, react to a Professional Profile on a résumé that states: I’m a young man who has been out of work for 10 months, has little skills to offer, but really needs a job? After getting over the initial shock and wondering if this is a joke or a cry for help, I imagine you’d quickly dismiss the résumé.

I recently read part of a LinkedIn profile that displayed a blog entry which was not as obviously inappropriate; but it prompted me to immediately leave the user’s profile. The author of the blog entry spoke of being unable to get out of bed because of her despondency over being out of work. While this may have been true—and I am sensitive to the plight of the unemployed—LinkedIn is not the platform to express feelings such as these.

I’ve similarly read answers on LinkedIn’s Answers feature that left me wondering why the authors were so free with their opinions. Like the blog entry I’ve described, I’ve been dismayed by the audacity of some of the answers, and questions, I’ve read. It’s a known fact that employers who are seeking additional information on jobseekers will venture into a person’s answers. Some of the answers I’ve read would certainly turn me away as an employer.

Jobseekers aren’t the only ones who express negative sentiments on LinkedIn. Business owners and the gainfully employed are also guilty of spewing trashy statements that immediately cast them in a negative light. This group of LinkedIn users shares its negativity with impunity. Although their ill thought-out comments may not affect them now, the comments may come back to bite the employed in the arse.

Why do people expose their “inner soul” on LinkedIn? Perhaps it’s out of anger or depression or hopelessness. Maybe they don’t understand we’re all judged on everything we write—as I am being judged now. They may be self-absorbed and want for an audience that will listen to their complaints or unhappiness.

I believe that everyone deserves to be listened to, regardless of the nature of their message, but only in the proper forum. Most LinkedIn users feel that this highly regarded networking application is professional and self-policed by people who want to keep it this way.

I asked a question on the Answers feature regarding LinkedIn maintaining its professionalism, to which Traci Thompson, NRWA answered: “I rarely stumble across unprofessional content or users on LinkedIn. Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the system functionality and its ability to bring job seekers and employers together.”

Would you submit a résumé or cover letter that is full of self-pitying verbiage or dripping with anger? You wouldn’t think of it. Your online written statements are worthy of consideration, as well. 

Think before you write is my advice. Every part of your LinkedIn profile will be scrutinized from your Snapshot, Summary, History, Blog entries, and even the recommendations written for you. Jobseekers and the gainfully employed, be aware of what you write. You’re being judged.

Let’s Walk: Having a Routine is Important to Your Job Search

It was raining the other morning at 6:00 AM, so I did what felt natural—I went back to bed. That was a mistake I discovered later in the day. I was sluggish and not on top of my game. My workshops were uninspiring, and I noticed a monotone in my voice. All day I was looking forward to my walk the following morning, regardless of rain or snow in the forecast.

My walking routine offers me the alone-time to think about the day ahead, planning exercises for a workshop, thinking about the workshop I’m designing; or simply time to take in the beauty that surrounds me as I ascend and descend hilly roads.

Why am I writing about walking? It’s not only walking I’m talking about; it’s any kind of exercise we should engage in when we’re employed or unemployed, but especially unemployed.

There are many self-help articles on how to stay motivated the job search. One article I ran across in my Internet surfing offers suggestions on how you can do to stay motivated if you’re out of work. I saw this article on the New England Job Show. The author, Randall Davidson, gives 10 ways to stay motivated, but number eight is the one I allude to:

Establish a routine. One thing a job offers you is structure. In the absence of a job, it can be difficult to find structure and that can contribute to depression. To avoid this, deliberately establish a daily routine. Take a class at the gym, drop your kids off at school, etc. Make sure that you schedule something for yourself that takes place early in the morning, as that’ll help you get up and going.

Walking, for me, gives me a routine that I’ve followed for over two decades. Yes, I’ve been unemployed, and yes I followed some of his other advice, such as dropping the kids off at school or taking them grocery shopping with me. Having a routine didn’t make being out of work a happy occasion, but it made this difficult time in my life easier to handle. The point I’m making is that Randall Davidson is correct when he says to get yourself out of bed, just as you would when you’re working.

Walking isn’t for everyone. You may decide to tackle a home project. (I attempted to re-tile the bathroom floor, which was a complete failure.) Or go to your local career center to take workshops, use its resources, or network with other jobseekers. Volunteering at a company or organization of choice is another way to establish a routine. These, of course, are addition to your hard-driven job search; but they’re important in keeping you off the couch and improving your physical and mental wellbeing.

I’ll continue to walk in the morning no matter what employment state I’m in. God forbid I lose my job, but the first thing I think I would do is start a walking club for people who are also out of work. I wouldn’t see this as a networking occasion. It would be more for helping others to create and maintaining a routine.

Tell me what your routine is, employed or unemployed.

I Need Your Advice

A colleague and I mentioned awhile ago that it would be a cool idea if I started a blog for my organization, a blog about job search tips. I have one problem with this idea. Or maybe two. My first problem is that I can’t talk about my family who include my outrageously funny and insightful son; my middle child, a quiet yet personable daughter; and my eldest daughter, a smart and engaging character. I also can’t mention my beautiful and intelligent wife who keeps me on my toes and tells me to look for things, even though she knows where they are (see my blog, It’s an Employer Thing).

Why is this important to me, you may ask. Simply put, my family is everything to me, and I like to write. So combining these two values, it makes for some entertainment and, hopefully, some learning value to people who read my blog.

So instead, I’ll probably write about something mundane like 5 tips to creating a successful résumé. Now who says there are only 5 tips? There could be 7, or 10, or 50. This all depends on who you ask. Not for nothing, but I have been following a discussion on LinkedIn where one person says every résumé should be targeted, while others say targeting a résumé to each and every job will only cause confusion. The jobseeker instead, it’s argued, should write one résumé—or two at the most—and tweak it to fit the values and key words the employers require. So, how can there be 5 outstanding tips on how to write a successful résumé when two people can’t agree on the positioning of a résumé?

I might also write tips on how to create an effective LinkedIn profile. Already I see a problem with this. I hold dear the value of the Summary section on LinkedIn, believing that it should be written in first person with the personal pronoun “I.” But there’s also something to be said about writing the profile in third person, if…the person is accomplished, as in an author or actor or comedian. The other thing about a LinkedIn profile is that no one can come to an agreement as to what the most important component of the profile is.

  1. Is it the Snap Shot which includes one’s name and title? Think key words and stunning photo.
  2. Is it the Summary? You know my feelings on this.
  3. Is it the (Work) History?
  4. Is it the Specialties section, which is really part of the Summary?
  5. Is it the Honors and Awards section, or the Recommendations, Blog, Website, Reading List…?

I’d write about Career Networking, of course. On this topic I’ve come to the conclusion that networking is a lot easier than people say it is. You’re told to get out to networking events and shake hands with folks, look them in the eyes, collect business cards, deliver your personal commercial, be sure not to spill your drink, etc. I see it differently. I think networking is a natural progression that is done best in informal settings. In fact, the majority of job opportunities are gained through acquaintances. I think people are far too uptight about networking than they should be.

Salary negotiation would be another topic on which I’d write. I honestly believe that all the advice in the world gets thrown out the window when push comes to shove. We’re supposed to avoid the issue as best we can by first deflecting the discussion altogether, then asking the employer what her salary range is, then telling the employer what our range is, and finally stating an exact figure. Most people I’ve spoken to have gone directly to stage 4. Another thing about networking is that the goal for the jobseeker is not to “beat up” the employer, as one would a car salesman; rather it’s to come to a “win-win situation” where the deal is only sealed if both parties are happy. This, to me is the major theme.

I couldn’t forget interview techniques. Now how do I break this down? Do I talk first about traditional interviews, followed by behavioral interviews? The two are very different but are usually combined. I run a workshop called the Complete Interview Process, which combines the two types of interviews for this very reason. What great folly it would be to draw an analogy between interviewing and interrogating one of my kids, only to end by saying, “Hey, it’s really not that bad, Mr. jobseeker.”

I suppose my second problem with writing a blog for my organization is that I’m way too literal in my views. In MBTI speak, I’m what’s called a Sensor—yes, I know, there are only Introverts and Extraverts—which means I see things as black and white. So, if there are a number of outstanding tips for writing a résumé, there has to be a specific number. Five, 10, 15, 20, 23, 33, 44, 55….There are different opinions on every aspect of the job search, I realize this; but I like things nice and neat. LinkedIn, Career Networking, Salary Negotiation: they’re all very complex, messy topics that can’t be covered in one sitting. As far as I can see, no one agrees 100% on any of this, and in my world, this concerns me.

I know that as I look at my bobblehead collection Dwight Schrute is the man, not Michael Scott, Jim, Pam, Creed, or Andy. You may disagree. I guess I’ll just have to bite the bullet and tell it how I feel the career search should be conducted. But it would be really cool if I could draw comparisons between The Office and Things Career Related.