Tag Archives: job search

5 keys to a successful mock interview

One of my clients told me recently that the mock interview I conducted with her was the best experience she’s had preparing for interviews to date. This was after a session where I reviewed her performance with constructive criticism, at times brutal honesty.

mock interview2

I understood my client’s sentiment, because I also think a mock interview is extremely effective, if done correctly. I’ve conducted hundreds of mock interviews over the course of my tenure at the urban career center for which I work.

You don’t have to be a career advisor in order to conduct a mock interview. You can be a friend or relative. But to successfully conduct a mock interview, you must cover the following four components.

1. Keep the interview itself short

The length of the mock interview should be no longer than 45 minutes; you’ll want to give yourself time to play back the recorded interview. The playback gives the client and you the opportunity to address the strengths and weaknesses of her performance.

The goal of a mock interview is not to make it the length of a real interview. Where the real interview might be a marathon, the mock interview is akin to a sprint. It is intense and just long enough for the client to get the idea of how she performed. Additionally, the interview part itself can be exhausting if it is 90 minutes long.

2. The mock interview should be filmed and played back

If possible, you should should film the mock interview with a digital camera. The old saying the camera never lies is true. Not only is it important for your client to hear the content of her answers and the tone and inflection of her voice; she also needs to see her body language and other nuances.

Your client, and you, may forget the answers she gives. Filming the interview allows both of you to hear her answers again. You can comment on her answers intelligently and accurately. For example, “Your answer to this question asking why you left your most recent position is a bit too long,” you may comment. “And refrain from blaming your supervisor if possible.”

Seeing her body language can be even more important to your client than hearing her answers, particularly if her body language is extremely poor. One of my clients came across so stiff that he didn’t move his hands the whole time. His eye contact was extremely poor, as well. He recognized this because of seeing the recording and vowed to correct his body language and eye contact.

Usually I don’t have the time to get through the entire playback, but this is fine. I ask participants to bring a thumb drive with them so they can review their mock interview at a later date.

3. Clients must take the mock interview seriously

Be sure to make this clear before a few days of the mock interview. Tell your client that it will be treated as a legitimate interview. Setting this expectation will ensure that the atmosphere will be professional.

This begins with something as simple as dressing the part. I can tell when a client is serious about his mock interview by the way he dresses. If he comes dressed to the nines, this is a good sign. On the other hand, if he comes dressed in a tee-shirt and shorts, this is a turnoff.

The participant must also have done his research. For example, if you ask, “What can you tell me about this company, and why do you want to work here?” it is unacceptable for him to tell you he will know the answers in the “real interview.” No, he must see the mock interview as a “real interview.”

Your client must be an active participant. I will ask for my client’s input during the playback of the mock interview. This is his opportunity to comment on the content of his answers, as well as his body language. As the interviewer, you don’t want to give all the feedback. It’s important that the participant does some self-critique.

4. You must also take the mock interview seriously

This means being prepared. If I show up for a mock interview unprepared, it doesn’t go as well; and I sense that my client knows this. I might ask canned questions.

Before conducting a mock interview, ask your client to provide two documents, her résumé and a recent job description. From these you’ll write the questions for the interview. You don’t necessary have to stay on script; you might fall into a more conversational mode if the spirit drives you.

The questions must be challenging, without embarrassing your client. It’s also important to come across as friendly in order to put her at ease. On the other hand, if you know your client will encounter stress interviews, make the mock interview stressful. Generally speaking, the mock interview must build confidence, not demean your client.

At times you might experience resistance from your client. Hold your ground. She doesn’t need to agree with everything you say; and you might want to preface this at the beginning of the critique. Keep in mind that she will know more about her occupation, but you know more about the interview process. However, if you are unprepared, your authority goes out the window.

5. Ask challenging question

As mentioned above, when conducting a mock interview, make the questions challenging. Ask questions that 1) determine the interviewee’s self-awareness, 2) her understanding of the position, 3) her knowledge of the company, 4) and even her take on the competition.

My preference is to ask more behavioral-based questions than the typical no-brainers. The “What is your greatest weakness,” “Why should we hire you,” and even “Why did you leave your last company” questions are ones the interviewee’s can rehearse.

Focus on the job description she’s provided and ask questions like, “Tell me about a time when you managed a team of more than 5 people. How did that work out.” This will require her to come up with a thoughtful story using the Situation-Task-Actions-Result formula.

Even though behavioral-based questions take longer to answer, they reveal many more skills than you ask about. To determine if the interviewee demonstrates self-awareness, ask questions that require a negative result, such as, “Tell me about a time when you led a project that didn’t go well.” Will she blame others or take ownership of her faults?


Mock interviews can be the most valuable job-search tool for a candidate. I encourage my clients to participate in them as much as possible. Many express discomfort at the idea of being asked questions, let alone being filmed. When you have the opportunity to conduct a mock interview with a client, don’t hesitate. You’ll be doing your client a great favor.

6 important tips on a successful job search

And what Dad said about baseball

When it came to baseball, my dad used to say, “You won’t get a hit if you leave your bat on your shoulder.” This was his way of saying to try. He also said a big league ball player who bats .333 was considered a very good hitter. “That’s 3 hits out of 10, Bob,” he said.

Here’s the thing, you sure as hell won’t get even close to batting .333 in the job search if you don’t try. Here’s the other thing about the job search; you probably won’t nail every land the jobs for which you apply, but that’s okay. If you interview with 9 companies and get 3 job offers, Dad would say that’s a great batting average.

Try

Dad’s advice on trying wasn’t just about baseball. He was a brilliant man and offered advice on academics, but I didn’t heed what he said as much as I should have. That’s neither here nor there. In the job search you need to try, but more importantly you need to be smart in your search.

Research

The best big league hitters know who they’re batting against. They’ve either faced them many times or they watch film. The ones who’ve faced the pitchers before are more likely to succeed because they know when and how well their opponent can throw a curveball; slider; change-up; or worst yet, a knuckle.

Or they could strike out every time because some pitchers own opposing batters.

Researching a position, company, competition, and even the interviewers is the most underutilized method in the job search. Why? Because it takes grit and the rewards aren’t immediate. Many job seekers don’t see the value in it. But if you don’t do your research, it comes back to bite you in the ass.

You know it and the interviewer/s know it come interview time that you haven’t done your researched. You’re asked simple questions like, “What can you tell me about this position,” or “Why do you want to work for out company.”

You struggle to recite even the simplest requirements of the job or the products and services the company offers. It’s embarrassing for you and the interviewer. It’s like when a ball player swings at a pitch in the dirt and walks back to the dugout with his head hung low.

Apply online

Dad was an excellent baseball coach; my coach, in fact. What made him so great was his strategic mind. Applying online takes a strategic mind. One thing recruiters would say is don’t apply for jobs for which you’re not qualified. It’s a waste of your and their time. This is my first piece of advice.

Not to belabor the point, but if you’re applying for jobs through job boards and company websites, make sure you’ve done your research (first point) and that your resume is tailored to each job and speaks to the employer’s needs.

Additionally, when you tailor your resume, recruiters find it easier in their applicant tracking system (ATS) by entering a Boolean search. Therefore, it’s among the first read. A resume with the proper keywords and density of keywords gets more attention.

Perhaps most important is that a tailored resume will show the employer you understand their needs whether it’s reducing costs, improving processes, or other ways your can help the company. You also should prioritize statements by listing the most relevant experience and accomplishments closer to the top of the resume.

Network

When I ask my clients if they enjoy networking, the majority of them are either uncomfortable doing it or downright hate it. Dad’s other advice about baseball is that the season is long. A great hitter might start the season with a .235 average but by the end of the season is hitting .333.

The thing about networking is that it takes time. There’s an amount of relationship building that needs to take place. For example, here’s the way it might go:

First: ask one of your first-degree LinkedIn connections to introduce you to introduce you to one his first-degree connections. If you’re more of the in-person networker, pick up the phone and ask one of your closest contacts to facilitate a phone call with your target contact.

Second: when an introduction is made, begin a light conversation with said person, while also fitting into your experience and the value you bring to companies. Ask the person if they’d like to have a follow-up correspondence and when you should call them.

Third: after a certain number of conversations, ask if your contact would like to meet for coffee providing they feel safe in this current environment. If they don’t, video conferencing is always an option.

Fourth: by this time you and your new contact are on the same page in terms of the mutual value you and they can provide. It’s time to make “the ask” for an informational meeting where you can discuss their company and the role you’re seeking.

Or you might want to indicate through your research that you see the possibility of making a contribution to their company. If the former isn’t possible, always try to leave the conversation with another person with whom you can speak.

Outcome: after developing a network of decision makers or strong allies, when jobs are developing in companies, you’ll be one of the first to know. Or if a job is advertised, you could have your resume delivered to the hiring manager of the department for which you want to work.

Note: it might take more conversations before you’re comfortable making the ask. Some believe it takes 7 points of contact before a relationship is truly established.

Or, networking can be as simple as handing your resume to your neighbor, who hands it to the hiring manager of the department for which you want to work, many talks ensue, you’re interviewed for the job, and you’re hired.

This happened to a customer of mine who told me he hadn’t networked to get the job. I didn’t want to bust his bubble and tell him he had. Networking comes in many shapes and forms.

Prepare for the interview

This leads us back to research and a bit of networking if you can. My dad got me good one time. It was when the Russian national hockey team came to play our hockey teams. Dad bet me five dollars that the Russians would beat the New York Rangers–the first team they met.

When I watched the game and saw the massacre, Dad laughed at me saying he had heard about the victory on the radio before the game was televised. He had done his research…in a way. But this is how you will have a leg up on the competition who, for the most part, won’t do their research.

You can research the position by reading the job ad. You can research the company by going to their website. And you can research the competition by going to their website and Glassdoor. But a far better way to research the aforementioned is by talking with someone who works for the company. Leading us back to networking.

Practice hard. Great baseball players will practice with the team, of course, but they’ll also practice on their own, taking hundreds of additional at-bats and fielding ground balls. Along with researching the position and company, practice answering the questions you think interviewers will ask.

Another area you’ll need to prep for is your background and other important factors when being interviewed via video. What is an appropriate background, you might wonder? Anything that doesn’t distract the interviewer. A bookshelf or wall with tasteful paintings are fine. Also make sure the lighting is right.

Land the job; do well in the interview

“Teams win when batting, fielding, and most importantly pitching are doing well,” Dad would say. “Teams must have all three.” Dad also said errors will be the downfall of a team. “Mental errors are a killer.”

Try hard to get all in place and don’t make mental errors. This can sum it up when it comes to interviews. This means your interview road started with research. Smart job seekers will do anywhere between four to 10 hours of research.

Let’s touch lightly on first impression. As interviews are being held in person and via video platforms, eye contact is essential. Look at the camera, not the interviewers’ eyes. Smile as much as you can without overdoing it. In other words, don’t come across as fake.

You’ll be asked three types of questions, traditional, and behavioral-based. Technical questions follow under traditional types. A question like, “Why did you leave your last job?” Is also traditional.

Note: most traditional questions are predictable; you should know the answers for them before arriving at the interview.

Situational questions are a little more difficult, as they make you think of how you would solve a particular situation, such as, “What would you do if two of your employees were having a dispute?” You should answer this one successfully if you’ve read the job ad and know questions about leadership will be asked.

Behavioral-based questions are asked because interviewers believe how you behaved in the past is a true predictor of how you’ll behave in the future. They’re also asked to measure your emotional intelligence.

An example of a behavioral-based question is, “Tell me about a time when you came across two of your employees having a dispute.” See the difference between this and the situational question? To answer this question successfully you must have experienced this situation.

You also have to have your S.T.A.R story ready. Explain the situation, your task in the situation, the actions you took to solve the situation, and the final result/s.


Don’t settle

Know the kind of company for which you want to work

Earlier I said batting .330 in the job search and landing only 3 out of 10 jobs for which you apply is pretty damn good. Well, it’s only good if you land the ones you desire.

Go after companies that support your values. Don’t simply apply for jobs that are advertised–that’s reacting. Reach out to the ones for which you want to work, which brings us back to research and networking. Identify those companies and network your way into talking with people in those companies.

Photo by Michael Morse on Pexels.com

3 career strategists provide tips on how 50+ job seekers should approach their search

I won’t deny that ageism exists. I’ve heard of hiring managers who’ve told their recruiters that they don’t want older candidates. Some recruiters demand to see every job you’ve held since 1984. You might have been asked on an application when you graduated from high school.

One of my clients told me as the second question in an interview he was blatantly asked about his age. He shook his head in bewilderment as he told me about this.

Another one of my clients was told in an interview, “We don’t typically hire people your age.” Who the hell is stupid enough to say this as an interviewer? These are two poignant examples of ageism.

There are other examples of ageism that 50+ job seekers experience, which makes me wonder if I were to lose my job, would I experience ageism. After all, I am in the 50+ category. I’m an older worker, but I could become an older job seeker.

While age is just a number — not an indicator of performance, education, productivity or skill — ageism is still widespread in the workplace. It can be experienced by both younger and older workers, but most frequently to those who are 45 and over.

Indeed.com

This is the grim reality, especially when we consider that older job seekers comprise the largest population of long-term unemployed, defined as those unemployed for 6 months and more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the LTU rate for December 2021 reached a record 45.5%.

But all is not lost. As the pandemic is waning and employers are hiring at a greater rate, the older job seekers are increasingly seeing more opportunities. I see this effect in the Job Club I run at MassHire Lowell Career Center. People who’ve been out of work for more than six months have had multiple interviews and they’re landing.


I asked three of the most revered LinkedIn voices—Marc Miller, Susan Joyce, and Hannah Morgan— their thoughts on older job seekers who are looking for work. They answered five questions that address the struggles and strengths older job seekers possess. (Learn more about these thought leaders at the end of the article.)

Does ageism exist, and if so, where is it most obvious in the job search?

MM: Ageism has existed for a long time. In fact, many older workers practice ageism towards younger workers. This is a problem that goes both ways.

I think the most obvious example of ageism is asking for a range of year of experience, like 5-8 years of experience in digital marketing. Knowing how many years of experience one has is not a qualifier or dis-qualifier for a position.

This is a simple way to filter out older job seekers who have more experience but isn’t relevant on whether they are qualified.

What employers should be looking for is relevant experience and not trying to quantify this by length of time someone has worked in any single discipline.

Another example of ageism is when recessions occur this is the time that employers have to cull out who they think, notice I say think, will not be as valuable in the future. This is why older job seekers traditionally make up the bulk of the Long Term Unemployed (LTU). Employers have determined they will be less valuable in the future and therefore, will not hire them back first when the recession ends.

SJ: Unfortunately, there is no question that ageism exists. Numerous studies have documented and quantified it, noting that discrimination begins when people hit their 40’s.

It is most obvious in a job search after the interview when the job offer is not made to the 40+ job candidate, even after a great job interview.

HM: Yes. Job seekers convey their age and mindset in how they write their resume and LinkedIn profile. From using outdated resume formats to including References Available Upon Request to including all dates of employment to dates on education older than 5 years.

Older job seekers also may tend to apply for jobs they have significantly more experience than required. They may not have a good idea of how much they are worth in today’s marketplace.

They may not have the most current skills or demonstrate an understanding of current methodologies or trends. During job interviews, older job seekers may come across as arrogant, inflexible or condescending, or unable to relate to younger interviewers.

What is the most obvious stereotype employers have of older job seekers, and why do you think this is?

MM: Employers look at many older job seekers as not up to date with technology and slow to change. Some might say that older seekers can be stuck in their ways.

Is this universally true? Of course not!

I worked for IBM for 22 years through some very exciting innovative times. After I left I worked for 2 extremely innovated and successful tech startups. I am not a model baby boomer but I am no unicorn.

One of the challenges is the adoption of technology which has accelerated in the last 20 years, and the pandemic has supercharged that adoption. On top of that, if you are keeping up with the new innovations, it is not about just keeping up but getting online and engaging to prove your knowledge.

I will readily admit I hate getting on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and regularly engaging to promote my “personal brand.” I was raised to work hard, keep my nose to the grind stone, do what is right and I will be rewarded. The world today is counter intuitive to the way I was raised. It is in this way that I am not terribly unusual.

All of this frames how employers see older job seekers on a macro scale. Unfortunately, hiring is very personal and if an employer believes an older job seeker is A, B or C then they will filter out some of the best candidates.

SJ: The most obvious stereotype I encounter is that older job seekers are less up-to-date with technology. Employers probably make these assumptions based on the behavior of an older relative or an older colleague or manager who was not up-to-date.

The best way to overcome this assumption is to have a complete and robust LinkedIn profile plus relevant professional activity on LinkedIn (posts, comments, and articles) that display both current knowledge and communications skills. This visibility and activity will demonstrate their understanding of how important LinkedIn is and how to use LinkedIn effectively (up-to-date!).

If possible, take a LinkedIn Skill Quiz for one or more of the skills in the Skills & Endorsements section of the profile (perhaps the Skills with the fewest endorsements). Or take some of classes that result in professional certifications relevant to the job seeker’s target job.

HM: That their skills and knowledge are not up-to-date and they will be slow or hesitant to adapt or change. Older job seekers may not address the changes they’ve recently had to adapt to or may not have needed to use new technology or update skills in their last roles.

This doesn’t mean they can’t adapt or aren’t interested in learning. Stereotypes exist because of someone’s previous interactions. So if an interviewer or hiring manager has spoken to or worked with an older job seeker who lacked current skills or was hesitant to change, that cements the stereotype.

What is one major strength older job seekers demonstrate, and why do you think this is?

MM: The one thing that an older job seeker has is years and years of experience. I like to think of this as 30-40 years of big data.

We have seen a lot of problems, and solved a lot of problems.

Years ago I developed and taught a problem determination workshop for IBM’s support staff. The more problems you experienced in any given domain enhanced your ability to solve the next problem in the same or adjacent domain. My job was to help them experience and solve as many problems as possible AND understand how they did it.

The issue is our ability to use that database of knowledge called experience and then being able to communicate in a coherent, easy to understand way so that employers see the value.

Remember it was not that long ago that CEO of Facebook said “I want to stress the importance of being young and technical. Young people are just smarter.”

What they do not have is that database of big data that comes from experience.

SJ: Contrary to the “set-in-their-ways” assumption, I think that older job seekers have more options available based on having more experience. Because of their age and experience, they have a bigger “window on the world” and can see more alternatives than someone with less experience.

For example: If you need someone to drive you to the airport in a busy city at a busy time with the flight leaving soon, would you prefer a young driver who followed the route given him by his boss or an older experienced driver who knew all of the short cuts and alternate ways to get to the airport even if a traffic jam on the primary route stopped other traffic? Not hard to conclude the older driver would be a better choice!

Maybe the employer has always done a process in one specific way, or viewed a customer or an opportunity in one specific way. An older employee with more experience may see—and have more experience with—using other methods to accomplish that (or similar) tasks with different processes that may ultimately be more successful.

HM: Older job seekers tend to be more loyal, possess a stronger work ethic, and have stronger leadership and decision-making skills from experience and training. Their work ethic was formed early in their career when hard work and dedication was rewarded. And their life experience and access to training over their career have given them tools and experience to draw upon.

How can older job seekers improve their written and verbal communications in order to land a job?

MM: This is all about doing new things before you are ready.

To quote one of my favorite and irreverent journalist Hunter S. Thompson,

“Anything worth doing, is worth doing right”.

When you do something for the first time you will rarely do it right!

I have helped many start blogs and podcasts. I always tell them that what they produce may suck at the beginning. You will have to exercise the communications muscle to find your voice. That may mean producing material that is not very good.

Early blog posts on the Career Pivot blog were pretty bad. That is why I hired people to help me in areas where I was not very good. I am not a good writer but I have learned how to leverage people, like a virtual assistant, who edits my material, and technology like Grammarly.

Over time the communications muscle has gotten stronger through repetitive action. However, this requires taking chances, taking some criticism and admitting that you do not know how to do everything.

You have to move forward and do new things before you are ready.

SJ: Observe what people are writing and saying in social media and elsewhere. Focus on those people who are the most successful (in a positive way). Then, practice, VERY carefully by asking and answering questions on sites like Quora, Reddit, Digg, etc. When ready, start a blog or write articles on LinkedIn (relevant and professionally), Medium, or a personal/professional blog.

For verbal communications, join Toastmasters. The meetings may be virtual now, but the training, experience, and network are invaluable.

Possibly, take some classes in writing and speaking. Free classes are frequently available online. Or read some good books about those topics.

HM: Being active on social media, older job seekers can show that they don’t fit the stereotypes. Posting and commenting about new trends in their industry can demonstrate an interest and understanding. Comments should be respectful and convey an understanding and tolerance for others viewpoints.

The act of being active on social media also shows a willingness to embrace new technology.

What advice would you give an older job seeker who’s hunting for a job?

MM: In post-pandemic recovery, every older job seeker needs to reassess what he or she really wants to do. This is not about what you used to do because what you used to do may be gone or changed significantly.

Did you actually enjoy doing what you used to do?

If you did, what was enjoyable?

If not why were you doing it?

You really need to look at the disruption that COVID-19 pandemic has created. There will be a lot of good that will come out of this black elephant event called the COVID-19 pandemic. Where do you want to fit in?

What problems do you want to solve? Who has those problems?

If you are going to continue to work because you either have to or want to, you will have to reassess where you fit in this new world and what will energize you to keep moving forward at the same time.

To quote the famous executive coach Marshall Goldsmith, “What got you here, won’t get you there”.

Your first choice, are you willing to evolve and grow in the 2nd half of life.

Then it is your choice how to evolve and grow.

SJ: I have 2 pieces of advice for older job seekers who are job hunting now.

  1. FOCUS!

Know the job wanted next and, preferably, at least 10 or 20 target employers. Being an either-this-or-that does not work today when LinkedIn profiles are so visible! Recruiters avoid someone who doesn’t seem to be really interested in the job they are trying to fill. And an either-or candidate looks undecided.

In addition, the undecided job seeker does not usually effectively demonstrate their professional expertise in both kinds of jobs. Their LinkedIn profiles are “watered down” because they cover multiple topics superficially—not very convincing and not including a sufficient quantity of the right keywords to be found easily by recruiters.

  1. NETWORK!

The fastest, inside track to landing a new job is being referred by an employee. One of the biggest advantages of being an older job seeker is all the people the job seeker knows and has worked with over the years. From family, friends, and neighbors to co-workers, bosses, and employees—that network is one of the biggest benefits of being an older job seeker.

Reaching out and reconnecting to people from the past using Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. to find current location and contact information is a great start.

My favorite tools are LinkedIn Company pages for the target employers and the School pages for the colleges, universities, and other schools the job seeker attended. To find them, just click on the logos beside the employer and school names in the LinkedIn profile.

The benefits:

■ Company pages for target employers provide excellent information about employees. What they do, where they work, where they went to school, and how the job seeker may be connected to them. Click on the “See all people highlights” to find those details.

■ School pages for colleges and schools the job seeker attended provide information about where alumni work, where they live, what they do, and how the job seeker may be connected to them. Again, click on the “See all people highlights” to find those details.

The biggest benefit of being an older job seeker is that great network that provides an inside track to a new job.

HM: Before launching a job search, evaluate the marketplace to understand the skills required at the level you are interested in as well as understand pay ranges for those types of job. You should review lots of job postings to look for technology and skills frequently mentioned. Also ask for honest feedback from people you talk with about what you may be lacking or how you communicate. Finally, maintain a life-long-learner mindset.


Marc Miller is a champion of older job seekers. He writes of his award winning podcast: “Repurpose Your Career, brought to you by Career Pivot, is a podcast for those of us in the 2nd half of life to come together to discuss how to repurpose our careers for the 21st century.” Marc has dedicated his life’s work to helping Baby boomers.

Susan Joyce’s well-known Job-Hunt.org blog has millions of views and is considered one of the most popular sites for the job search. Since 1993, Job-Hunt.org’s genuine experts have shared advice that helps job seekers shorten their job search, including advice on resumes, job interviews, LinkedIn, Working from Home, and much more.

Hannah Morgan’s blog, CareerSherpa.net has gained great acclaim as one of the best job-search blogs out there. Hannah has written for major online publications like BusinessInsider.com, USAToday.com, Money.com, Forbes.com, HuffingtonPost.com, and others. Hannah is truly considered an influencer on LinkedIn.

Photo by Gary Barnes on Pexels.com

5 ways my job search can be a learning lesson for other job seekers

By Bob McIntosh

Most job-search articles, posts, videos, and podcasts offer tips on how to succeed in various components of the job search. This article is different. Different because it’s based on the failures of my job search. I’m writing it because I believe one can learn from the successes, as well as the failures of others.

Since my failure of a job search in 2003, I’ve coached thousands on how to do it properly. In a few situations, I was successful in hunting for other jobs because I practiced what I preach. This article’s purpose is to tell readers not to do what I did.

My story begins when I was laid off from marketing, where I was unhappy. My unhappiness wasn’t due to the people with whom I worked; it was due to a lack of purpose. I was peddling software I didn’t believe in.

Daniel Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, claims that purpose is a key motivator. He’s correct. I saw my purpose as helping people land jobs, not marketing document storage media.

After being laid off, it took me seven months to land a job which was a gap filler at best. Looking back on it, I can see clearly what I could have done to make the journey shorter for me and my family. Here are my failures.

The beginning of unemployment wasn’t too bad, but it became worse

When I was laid off, I wasn’t devastated; it was more like I was relieved. I was called into a conference room where my boss and our “HR” person was sitting with papers spread out on the table. “This isn’t good,” I thought. Sure enough, I was getting laid off.

My boss, who happened to also own the company, was weepy-eyed, a little upset, and constantly apologizing for having to lay me off. During the meeting I was the one who was consoling him, not the other way around. “George,” I said, “It’s business, nothing personal. I’ll be alright.” He seemed relieved to hear me say this.

I found comfort in getting together with a former colleague, who had been laid off with me, by drinking beer at a pub down the road from where I live. Our times of commiserating became increasingly more frequent; so frequent that I had to call a halt to it. I realized that it was destructive behavior.

Two months after I was laid off it became apparent to us that we needed more than what Unemployment Assistance was providing, $565 which included allowance for three dependents, and that using credit cards was not the best option

My wife had to return to work full-time at a nearby town. Now raising the kids became my full-time responsibility. This wasn’t a bad thing necessarily; it was unfamiliar territory for me. I now had to tend to their every needs. Our oldest daughter was 7, followed by our 4-year-old daughter, and the baby boy was 1.

Looking back on it, I was grateful for the opportunity to spend quality time with our kids.

Quality time included bringing the two youngest to play group while the oldest was at grade school. I was also responsible for driving the kids to their locations and grocery shopping. In all instances I was the only male present, which was embarrassing. I once witnessed a woman at playgroup breastfeeding two children at once.

I felt trapped at home while my wife was doing what I wanted to; she insisted she didn’t want to work full-time, but she was growing happier with “real” responsibilities as I was growing miserable with unfamiliar responsibilities. Was I jealous of my wife? Yes.

My temper grew increasingly moodier and at times angry. I lashed out at my wife who was only doing what had to be done. There came a time when she demanded that I see a therapist. I agreed and met once a week with a kind gentleman with whom I couldn’t relate.

If there was one thing I could have done better, it was not turning into an asshole.

My time management skills sucked

To say raising the kids impeded my job search would be an excuse. The second failure that comes to mind was the inability to schedule job-search activities around caring for the kids. I could have risen early in the morning to job search and continue the process when my wife got home from work.

When I had some free time away from the kids, I could have done some administrative work, e.g., written resumes and cover letters. But my mind was consumed with making sure the kids were fed and entertained.

Instead of using the evenings to call people who I could have met while networking I walked the streets of my city for hours. I had to clear my head of the frustration that was building inside me. I often tell my clients that walking is good medicine, but in my case it was a way to escape the family.

One of the good things that came from being home with the kids was creating a website and maintaining it for my oldest daughter’s school. I asked the director if she would allow my child to attend school free of charge in exchange for the website. Apparently she didn’t know how easy it would be, because she happily agreed.

I didn’t network

I said I should have contacted people I met while networking, but the sad fact is that I didn’t network as much as I should have. The extent of my networking was sending a group email to everyone I knew, letting them know I was out of work and attaching my resume to the emails.

This method was ineffective, as I hadn’t clearly indicate what kind of work I was looking for. My resume was sound but not targeted to the career I was pursuing, career development. This explains why group emails are not the best way to network.

What I should have done was reach out to people individually and asked to meet for coffee or simply have a phone conversation. I should have asked for advice on where I could pursue positions in career development. I should have gathered information on the labor market by talking with said people.

Who did they know that I didn’t? Who would they suggest I talk with? One of my contacts might know people in the nonprofit world, perhaps in a municipality. That could have led to connecting with people in social services. I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how to ask for information.

Networking groups? I had no idea what they were and that they even existed. I hadn’t visited my university’s career services, where they would have told me about job seeker networking groups. Perhaps they would have mentioned professional associations. When it came to networking, I was totally in the dark.

The bottom line: I should have been more proactive

To preface, the first job I landed in marketing was through a referral from my university professor. The second position was an interesting story. Briefly, I was laid off from my first job in marketing. The same day my president introduced me to the marketing manager of the second company for which I started that day.

These jobs were essentially handed to me. This time around I didn’t have help like this.

I sent close to 40 resumes and cover letters for jobs which resulted in two interviews. Even in 2003, the way to land interviews for rewarding jobs was not to send a generic resume and a tailored cover letter to employers, especially if you weren’t qualified for said jobs.

The shotgun approach wasn’t working. I became increasingly more discouraged. The one thing I had going for me was knowing what I wanted to do, as well as what I didn’t want to do. (To the chagrin of my wife, I wasn’t applying for marketing positions.)

This must have made employers wonder why a marketing guy wanted to work in career development. Had I asked for informational meetings I would have built a more focused network. My one attempt at asking for an informational meeting was a complete failure.

I only landed two interviews and one job

The first interview after my marketing career ended was as painful as it could get. It was for a Development position at my alma mater. I was ill prepared and insulted one of the interviewers by asking her why she was on the interview panel. To my defense, I phrased my question wrong, but the damage was done.

My second interview was the winner…in a way. I landed a job that was a two-year gap filler as a program manager for technical training for people with disabilities. There were enjoyable aspects of the position, but I was yearning to get more entrenched in career development.

The most important skill I developed in this program manager position was the ability to speak in front of groups of people, explaining the purpose of the program. It was during one of the speaking engagements that I employed my networking skills. I presented to my current employer directing my attention to my future manager.

Whether directing my attention to my future manager was the reason I landed the job is debatable, but it certainly was intentional. The interview had with her was a formality because it lasted 15 minutes. Half an hour after the interview she called to tell me she was forwarding my name to the city manager.


Lessons learned

My suggestion to people who’ve lost their job for any reason is first, think about the others around you who are probably struggling as well. I should have been more cognizant of my wife’s feelings; rather than thinking only of mine.

Second, don’t let caring for children or elderly adults be an excuse for not getting things done. I had a client who said he would rise at 5:00 am to conduct his job search until his children would rise at 7:00 am. He would grab any moment he could during the day, including attending my Job Club in the afternoon.

Third, be more proactive in your job search. Simply sending out resumes won’t do it. Implement networking into your routine and follow up with those you network with. Again, the resume shotgun approach will not yield great results.

Lastly, anyone you run into can be a potential boss. Do your best to impress people who have the authority to hire you, like the person who became my boss after my presentation.

One more: don’t be an asshole during your job search.

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

The 6 principles of a successful job search

As someone who’s on the front-line of helping job seekers gain employment, I see the frustration on their faces. Most are stoic and not outwardly emotional, but I know they’re struggling with a very difficult situation. Some are beyond frustrated; they’re bordering on hopelessness, wondering how they’ll land their next job.

jumbing

I’ve learned throughout the years that there’s a mindset job seekers need to adopt. They need to believe that, through their mental preparation and subsequent actions, they can positively affect their job search. A critical aspect of their success is practicing the art of persuasion.

Persuasion is often used in the sales arena, but it also applies to folks who are looking for work. Brian Ahearn, one of only 20 Cialdini* certified trainers in the word, often tells audiences, “Getting people to say YES to you is critical to your professional success.”

I agree with Brian’s philosophy and have read many of his articles as well as his book, so I elicited his help to write this article. What’s good for salespeople is good for job seekers, I reason. Today, we’ll take a look at each in the context of your job search.

  1. Liking
  2. Reciprocity
  3. Social Proof
  4. Consistency and Commitment
  5. Authority
  6. Scarcity

Liking

It’s easier for people to say Yes to those they know and like. That means you need to be likable. Liking starts with presenting a positive demeanor, even if you’re struggling with your job search. But there’s more.

We like people we see as similar to ourselves and those who pay genuine compliments. If you know some of the people you’ll meet during your interviews then do a little research using LinkedIn or Google beforehand. Find out what you have in common and how you might pay them a sincere compliment.

If you can’t do the research before the interview, then be very observant during your interviews so you can connect and compliment. You might not land a job just because someone likes you…but I guarantee you’ll never get a job if they don’t like you.

Reciprocity 

Reciprocity is that feeling of obligation to give back to someone who’s first given to you. When someone has done something for you, make sure you reciprocate in some way. It might be as simple as a sincere “thank you.”

Not reciprocating will put you in a bad light because it offends the sensibilities when people don’t give back in some way.

As was the case with liking, to be most effective you want to be proactive. Be the giver and the chances of getting what you want—that next job—will go up. This begs the question; how do you give?

Do what you can to help your fellow job seeker with their search. In other words, practice the six tenets of giving, some of which includes sharing information, mentioning a possible lead, providing moral support, among others. This will yield positive results because those people are likely to help you when you need it.

Social Proof

Social proof is key to creating a strong personal online brand, which can be seen by thousands of people. Some job seekers have the misconception that posting updates 10 times a day on LinkedIn is effective social proof. It’s not. Posting fewer quality updates is the ticket.

The person you interview with will also be impressed if they see you have lots of recommendations. Here’s where your prior influence is so important when asking for recommendations. The more they like you (Liking) and the more you’ve done to help them (Reciprocity) the more likely they are to give you a recommendation on LinkedIn.

Social proof is becoming increasingly more important for job seekers, as employers are primarily looking for talent on LinkedIn, Facebook and even Twitter. When I tell job seekers this in my webinars, some of them express looks of concern on their face because they have no social proof.

Consistency and Commitment 

Consistency and Commitment is all about the person you’re trying to influence. In your case, it would be the person who is interviewing you and the organization they work for. This principle says people feel better about themselves when your words and deeds match theirs.

Gandhi put it this way, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.”

The more you understand the person and organization you’re interviewing with the easier it will be to engage this principle. For example, if a core tenant of the organization is learning, your ability to show you’re a life-long learner will make it easier for the interviewer to see you as a cultural fit.

Do some homework so you know the organization’s mission, vision, and values. Next, give thought to how you align with each. Finally, be ready to demonstrate how you’re the right person for the job because your beliefs and experience are in line with all that you’ve discovered.  

Authority 

images

It’s easier for people to say YES to individuals they see as wise or having expertise. That’s the principle of Authority. This means you have to be viewed as an expert.

Make sure your LinkedIn profile highlights your expertise then be ready to back it up with stories and insights. For example; the best writers, speakers, and curators know what’s trending, and they report on it in a timely manner.

People are more likely to follow the advice of experts when what they’re writing, speaking, or curating is relevant to them. Once again homework is key because it’s essential that you know your audience well. Once you, as a job seeker, become known as an expert or “authority,” what you share will carry more weight.

Scarcity

The less there is of something, the more desirable the object is. This doesn’t only apply to iPhone upgrades when they first hit the market. If you possess a talent, or a skill set, that employers find hard to come by, you will persuade them because you’re a scarce resource. You need to help them realize if they don’t hire you, they’re missing out and might be worse off for the decision.

Don’t worry; this doesn’t mean you have to be a rocket scientist. When it comes to people it’s rare that there’s only one person for the job. There might be combination of things you bring to the table are what make you the most unique candidate. Once you understand that, you need to be ready to talk about your uniqueness in a way that an employer feels they’ll make a big mistake by not hiring you.

I think of job seekers who have the sought after job-related skills, as well as emotional intelligence, as an example of scarcity. If you can persuade employers that you are the full package, your chances of landing a desired job are greater.


Persuasion is not a one-off thing; it involves all six principles. When job seekers visualize each principle, they will be able to master them. One who wants to master Authority, for instance, must put effort into demonstrating through social media their expertise in a topic like digital marketing.

When job seekers use persuasion, they control their destiny. Their situation may seem dire, but it can be turned around. If you’re struggling with unemployment, look at the six principles and see which ones you must improve.

This article was a collaborative effort with a valued LinkedIn connection and friend, Brian Ahearn. Brian teaches Dr. Cialdini’s methodology to salespeople nationally and internationally.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical was named one of the Top 100 Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His second book on Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents will be available on Amazon starting January 27th.

In addition to his writing, Brian has recorded the following LinkedIn Learning courses: Persuasive Selling, Advanced Selling: Persuading Different Personality Styles, Persuasive Coaching, Building a Culture of Coaching Though Timely Feedback.

*Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., is the most cited living social psychologist in the world when it comes to the science of influence and persuasion. In his New York Times bestseller, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, he lays out six principles of persuasion which are scientifically proven ways to hear YES more often.

Photo: Flickr, bm_adverts

How to Leverage LinkedIn Posts for Your Job Search

This guest post was written by Ed Han, a recruiter known for his excellent job-search advice. It first appeared on Job-Hunt.org.

Of the four sites typically considered major social media sites, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are vying for second place behind Facebook.

When it comes to professional visibility, LinkedIn is the clear winner.

Taking a page from the Facebook playbook, LinkedIn added status updates, also known as posts, to the options available for LinkedIn members.

Judiciously leveraging these updates — making posts, comments, and clicking on the “Like” button — can increase your visibility on LinkedIn.

Posts on LinkedIn allow members to communicate with each other and the world — LinkedIn’s version of the Facebook feed.

LinkedIn HOME iconTo create a LinkedIn update, LinkedIn offers several options for members on the member’s home page (the house icon visible on the left). From that page, a member may “Start a post,” or, by clicking on the appropriate icon, share a photo, a video, or a file from their computer.

LinkedIn also offers the option to “Write an article on LinkedIn.” So, five options are available to members from the top of their home page, as shown below.

3 Main Benefits of LinkedIn Posts

A LinkedIn public profile — the profile visible to anyone — can tell a viewer your experience, list your skills, and announce your professional effectiveness through Recommendations.

Posts provide additional essential elements in your online visibility. Posts will:

  1. Demonstrate You Are Reachable on LinkedIn  

If a recruiter wants to contact a LinkedIn user about a position, he or she has no idea whether or not the candidate is going to see the message, to say nothing of when they might see it. This is not good — recruiters are always in a hurry to find the right candidate.

For a recruiter, many possible job candidates may be qualified and could be contacted, but the candidates more likely to respond are are the candidates more likely to be considered. When recruiters see that you are active on LinkedIn, you are demonstrating that you are likely to respond if they reach out to you.

[NOTE: Read How to Safely Include Your Contact Information on LinkedIn so that recruiters can reach you quickly and easily.]

  2. Increase Your LinkedIn Visibility  

Posts remind people of your presence and your field (expertise and interests). Check out the posts from others to “Comment,” “Like,” or “Share” them with your network.

LinkedIn Like OptionsWhen you hover over the Like icon, you can choose one of several other reactions: Like, Celebrate, Love, Insightful, or Curious.

When you react to someone else’s posts, LinkedIn sends them a message about your actions, which helps you to expand your network.

Another benefit of the posts is that it is an easy, non-pushy way to stay top of mind for those in your network who are inclined to render assistance in the form of introductions.

  3. Reinforce Your Professional Image  

Obviously, the things one posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are typically not ideal for sharing on LinkedIn. This goes back to the core purpose of LinkedIn, why founder Reid Hoffman created it: professional networking.

Therefore, posts should be focused on professional career-enriching steps:

  • Shared news articles.
  • Skills development.
  • Actual networking events.
  • Helpful comments on the posts of other members.

These posts reinforce your image as a professional. See the examples below.

Making and Sharing LinkedIn Professional Status Updates

Facebook offers this critical lesson for the savvy job seeker looking to maximize the effectiveness of his or her LinkedIn profile: the post (also called the status update)..

The LinkedIn status update can be up to 1,300 characters in length, perfect for letting your network know what you are doing or introducing something you are sharing.

Updates typically stay “live” for 14 days before they disappear from view. And, remember that your most recent posts are visible on your LinkedIn profile.

Share your thoughts and interesting things you find several ways:

  1. Use the “share box” near the top of your LinkedIn home page.  

LinkedIn Profile Homepage Status UpdateYou have 5 options from your LinkedIn “home” page, as you see on the left.

Choose your option. To begin a discussion or ask a question, click on the words “Start a post.”

To share an image, video, or file from your computer, click on the appropriate icon.

Click the “Write an article on LinkedIn” link, and publish an article on LinkedIn (most effective when an image is included).

After you click one of the links above, a box, like the one below, opens allowing you to type in your update, including a URL, if appropriate, or add the image, video, or file. Ask a question or share good information.

You may even create a poll or share that you are hiring, as shown below.

Starting a LinkedIn Post share

To increase a post’s visibility and participation by other members, “tag” the members who would be most interested.

Tag another member by adding their names to your post, preceding each name with an “@” sign. Tagging another user has the bonus of pushing your post into the feed of that person’s LinkedIn network. Do this sparingly, and only when you have good reason to believe he or she would be particularly interested.

  2. Create posts by liking, commenting on, or sharing someone else’s post.  

Build your reputation as a good source of information by reacting to or sharing good information other LinkedIn members (those you follow) have published on LinkedIn as updates or articles. LinkedIn offers several types of reactions beyond Like, as seen above.

When sharing, if you use the originator’s name in the text of your update, LinkedIn will usually notify them that you have shared something they created.

LinkedIn Post or Update options

Be very careful making comments. Don’t share something just to make fun of it or highlight a mistake. Stay professional or your updates will create a negative image for you.

Please do note that commenting is considered the gold standard of engagement by LinkedIn’s algorithm, and therefore is most helpful to the poster.

When you have reacted, LinkedIn then prompts you to comment.

Adding comments to a LinkedIn post

  3. Like or share someone else’s post in a Group.  

When you find good information in someone else’s Group post, “Like” or “Comment” on it. LinkedIn will notify them of your action, which can be the start of a discussion or at least put you on someone’s radar for possible future connections.

LinkedIn Group Like or Comment

This can be a good way to become visible to an employer you are trying to reach. Again, stay positive and be professional in your comments.

Finding Your Updates

You can find your updates by scrolling down your LinkedIn Profile until you find a box labeled “Activity,” as you can see in the image below. This section is usually the fourth or fifth box down from the top of your Profile.

At the top on the right, as shown below, you will find a link to “See all” above your four latest shares or comments. Simply click on “See all” to see the update tracks you are leaving on LinkedIn.

Viewing Your LinkedIn Updates

This section is on everyone’s Profile, so you can see what others are sharing and writing on LinkedIn, too, by clicking on that link on their Profile.

Make Appropriate LinkedIn Posts

If you are in a job search, what should one say in a post on LinkedIn?

For example, consider the logistics professional who shares a new article discussing another way of viewing costs associated with Daylight Savings Time and minimizing disruptions in truck deliveries or train schedules.

I found this eye-opening article about the change in DST and a hidden impact on costs and scheduling [link].

And, imagine an aspiring project manager pursuing the PMP certification. Perhaps he or she has two peers who also plan to sit for the exam in 3 months. A post our project manager could share is:

Looking forward to catching up with John and Mary tonight to prepare for the PMP in 3 months. The discussion is always informative!

Maybe another professional is attending a networking event later in the day. The post could be:

Should be a good time tonight at my local Toastmasters chapter, I think I have turned the corner on projecting my voice powerfully.

Another example that is particularly current during the pandemic:

Excited to volunteer my time making masks and other personal protective equipment to donate to my friend, a first-responder with RWJ Barnabas Health. Please stay safe!

Updates about training you may be receiving, furthering your education, or other proactive steps to help enrich your professional value, are all valuable and tell people viewing your profile something important about you.

Each of the examples communicates that you are engaged in professional development or self-improvement, in addition to letting people know that you are on LinkedIn.

For more on tips on sharing good updates, read How Your LinkedIn Activities Impact Your Personal Brand.

Facebook Sharing Is Inappropriate on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is fundamentally different from most other forms of social media. LinkedIn is professionally-oriented. This means that many of the things one might do on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook are not suitable for LinkedIn.

Yet each of these sites has adopted new capabilities originally introduced on Facebook. Instagram is on the cusp of introducing advertising, Twitter’s targeted ads, and, on LinkedIn, the skill endorsement.

However, these Facebook activities are not appropriate on LinkedIn:

  • Discussions of politics.
  • How you binge-watched a television show over the weekend.
  • Cheering for your favorite sports team and/or making nasty comments about other teams.
  • Personal information like birthday parties, dating, and other family news.
  • Discussing religion and other non-business issues, etc.

While LinkedIn is definitely social media, the focus is not on sharing everything you are doing and thinking, particularly when the subject is not relevant to your professional image.

The Bottom Line

The LinkedIn status update is a powerful tool, and the savvy job seeker can use it to great effect. It can help you to communicate your ongoing professional endeavors and interests, skills development, and further networking by sharing content with your network, all while telling people that you actually do spend time on the site. And it helps keep your name and headline in front of the people in your network.

6 ways to give when you’re networking for a job

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a gift (four delicious pumpkin cupcakes) from a member of a networking group I facilitate. Prior to bestowing upon me such a kind gift, Marie had asked me to critique “only her LinkedIn profile Summary.”

give-help

This gift was hardly necessary; although, I have to admit I had forgotten to look at her profile. So I sat with her that day for a brief time and offered some suggestions like, “This paragraph is a bit dense….

“I like the content a lot but perhaps you’d want to reorganize it to match your headline….

“I like your tag line a lot….

“The rest of your profile is great, but you might want to copy and paste some symbols for bullets to spiff it up.”

This interaction is an example of how to give to people when you’re in the job search. Do you have to give baked goods like Marie did? No. You have to reciprocate, however. Here are some ways to give back.

1. Share information

Had Marie sent me a link to an article that could provide fodder for a workshop I lead or a blog post idea, it would be a great way to give back. I’m one who is constantly trolling LinkedIn for information to learn more.

Very little effort required here. For a job seeker it could mean a great post on how to write a resume or some great interview tips. I think sharing information is particularly important for after an informational meeting. You receive information from the person granting you the meeting; now it’s time to return the favor.

2. Make an introduction to someone who could possibly help

You know the saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime?” When you make an introduction, this is what you’re doing. You’re telling your networking partner to take the ball and run.

Note: providing an introduction in person or on LinkedIn is the same concept. LinkedIn may be the way to go for the busy people you know, but an in-person introduction is more expedient and, perhaps, more efficient.

3. Tell networking groups about your happy landing

Don’t think your networking partners won’t be pleased to learn about your Happy Landing. They will be pleased. However, don’t return to the group to gloat. Tell them how you landed your job.

Many times people have returned the group I facilitate to tell us about the journey they traveled. Have they always landed due to networking? Not always. But networking has played at least a small part in their success. Tell people what worked…and what didn’t.

4. Provide leads after you land a job

Some people who’ve landed a job have contacted me about advertised or, better yet, unadvertised positions at their new company. They get the point of networking. This is one of the best ways to give back after your job search.

Do you know someone who’s still looking? Keep that person in mind when positions open in your company. Be smart about it, though. Your new company might offer an employee referral bonus; this doesn’t give you full range to tell everyone you know about the opening, particularly if they’re not qualified.

5. If you don’t get the job, recommend someone else

Sometimes you curse a recruiter for not helping you land a job. You’re so upset because the recruiter delivers the bad news that the company felt you weren’t qualified. There was empathy in their voice as they told you.

Instead of holding it against the recruiter, think about how you can possibly help a networking connection. It may hurt but think about the main tenet of networking; provide help before expecting it. And if it works out for your networking partner, you gain the satisfaction of helping that person.

As well, you help the recruiter who can possibly help you in the future. Remember that recruiters have a network of employers who need to fill jobs. Don’t discount them.

6. Provide moral support

In times like these–with unemployment rates high due to the pandemic–it’s important to provide moral support to your fellow networkers. Things have drastically changed from the days when you met one-on-one with other job seekers. Now group networking is done via Zoom or other online platforms.

This alone has isolated people which for many leads to despondency or even depression. People are social animals who enjoy the opportunity to be with others in one form or another.

In one of my job club meetings, a woman led the icebreaker part of the event. She was upbeat and encouraging to her fellow networkers, so much that I applauded her for her enthusiasm. This type of support is an important element of giving.


These are but five ways you can help your networking partners. As I said, it’s not necessary to bring delicious baked goods to show your appreciation, but it does help. Thank you, Marie!

Photo: Flickr, the man at the front desk said i’d find you here

Job-search from home with children: 6 tips on how to do it

Articles on working from home abound. There’s even a hashtag for working from home, #WFH. But there aren’t as many articles on job searching from home, #JSFH. Throwing dependent children in the mix adds a new dimension. Now we have a new hashtag, #JSFHWC.

Photo by Yan on Pexels.com

For those of you who fall under this hashtag know the complication of trying to find a job while also tending to children who are preschool age and demand your undivided attention, or are of school age and were home taking online classes. With school out, a whole set of issues present themselves.

I’ve been fortunate to keep my job (fingers crossed) thus far throughout the pandemic. I’m also fortunate to have two independent children living at home with my wife and I. My daughter goes to work at a farm and my son goes to work (at 12:00 pm) as a lifeguard.

When I’m on a Zoom call or delivering a webinar, they know well enough to be scarce. But this article isn’t about me. It’s about the millions of people who have to look for work while also caring for their children.

I conducted a poll on LinkedIn asking people who are looking for work at home with children if they have a more structured schedule. Not surprisingly more then half of them said they don’t, only 33% said they do, and 14% said sort of.

I also asked the voters to comment on their situation. A valued LinkedIn connection who just went through a job search with her husband offers this sage advice:

My husband just spent the past 2 months job searching – with our kids at home. He had a very structured schedule which included time for job search, time for kids (as I remained working full time), time for himself, and time for other/home activities. It worked well as it ensured we all knew what/when was going on and could respect his focus – and he landed a new role 2 weeks ago. Was it always easy? No.

Adrienne

Fortunately for my valued connection, all worked out well for her husband and their family. He was one of the 33% who was able to structure his job search with some help from her, I’m sure.

One voter writes that structure can go out the window with children in tow. There are brush fires that always need distinguishing when JSFHWC.

I’d say one of the biggest things is permitting yourself to let go sometimes. If the kid’s laptop crashes, then you are IT support. Now! You have to let go of the idea that you can control your day like you can when you’re cocooned in an office with various types of support. Pair that with focusing on a limited list of “Gotta Dos” and you have a shot at meeting your goals for the day, week, whatever. (I use the hierarchy of “Gotta Do”, “Needta Do” and “Nice ta Do” for determining which tasks get done and in which order.)

Adam

These are but two examples of how #JSFHWC? has gone with two job seekers—one positive, the other not so positive. If you are struggling with this situation, here are some tips that might be of assistance.

1. Prioritize: set aside time for yourself

As my connection said, her husband prioritized his job search. This is essential if you want to stay sane and land a job. The first point she makes is that her husband made time for his job search.

It’s important to plan time for your job search and more important to stick to it. This might not come easy to you, but it’s a make or break situation.

A client of mine told me he gets up before the sun rises, gets on the stationary bike, and then dives into the job search almost before his children are screaming for breakfast.

Biron Clark, a career coach and former recruiter, reiterates the importance of setting some time aside for yourself:

Develop a plan and schedule that works for your life. You’re going to get better results in your job search if you’re able to put in consistent effort for at least a couple of hours per day without distractions. This can be difficult when you’re at home with your family, though. If you have children at home, think about whether you can wake up before them to get a few uninterrupted hours each morning. If that’s not an option, then think about another time of day. Either way, set a schedule and try to stick to it as much as possible.

2. Reach out to your support system

It’s also important to develop a network of people who can support you in your efforts. Another voter who commented said that he has support for the times when he has interviews:

I treat my job search as a part time job right now. Both our children are very young and not in school. My job search starts at 5:00 am to 7:00 am then picks up again at 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm 6 days a week. When I have an interview I have help from my neighbors to watch the kids. It takes a lot more planning and time management but we have found this structured schedule has worked best for our family.

Darrick

You might not be fortunate enough to reach out to your neighbors. Call on your family to see if they can entertain your children via Zoom or Facetime. What about your former colleagues, ask if they’d like to do some Kid Share; they entertain your children online or in person and you return the favor. Make sure to physical distance.

3. Rely on your network

Marie Zimenoff, who trains career coaches and resume writers, says when you’re networking to leverage them; don’t do all the work. You have to be explicit in what you’re looking for, including the companies with which you’d like to work.

If you are job searching at home with kids, start with the people that already know, like, and trust you (your Champions). Share your target list with them and ask them if they know anyone there (or who used to work there), if they have other organizations they’d add to the list, or if they have any other insights on the companies on the list. Don’t discount people before you give them the opportunity to help! You can use systems like Facebook or LinkedIn to help connect the dots between those Champions (who won’t mind if your kids are wild in the background) and the “weak ties” who are key to landing your next role.

Don’t let the fact that it’s difficult to reach out to your network in person deter you from contacting them. This pandemic has taught us that using modes of communication like the phone, video platforms, email and LinkedIn are essential. Those who don’t grasp it will have a hard time networking.

4. Use LinkedIn for more than its job board

What many people don’t realize is that LinkedIn is a powerful research tool that can help you locate people in your target companies. Your goal is to connect and develop relationships with as many people as you can in your target companies.

Sarah Johnston, an executive career coach, produced two LinkedIn Learning videos—one that explain the importance of making an extensive list of your target companies and the key players you need to connect with—and a second one that explains how to use LinkedIn’s search capabilities to find said people.

Also use the little time to make changes to your LinkedIn profile. You might be new to LinkedIn and haven’t polished your profile. This article gives you some ideas of how to update your profile during the pandemic.

5. Use the job boards sparingly

Too many people consider applying online as their primary/only method of searching for jobs. This is a huge mistake, as it’s been proven that the success rate is extremely low—5% is a conservative estimate.

This said, I tell my clients to use the job boards, e.g., Indeed, Monster, Dice, etc. sparingly. Set aside time to get on your computer and access your favorite sites. Or if you’re with your children outside, use the apps while keeping one eye on them and the other on the apps.

Couple your job-board use with LinkedIn. Like Sarah says in her video, LinkedIn can be a great way to find people on LinkedIn before or after you’ve applied for a position at a company.

6. Get outside

More than ever people are walking and running in my neighborhood. Fresh air and exercise do wonders, not only for your body but for your health as well. This is an acceptable part of your job search. When I was out of work, I increased my walking from 45 minutes to an hour. It was a great way to clear my head.

Take care of yourself. One of my LinkedIn connection, Vincent Phamvan, says it well:

Spend some of your time on activities outside of your job search. Spend time with family, take walks, try to eat healthy meals. This will keep you mentally fit and ready to rock your upcoming interviews.

Use this alone time to strategize about how you will tailor your resume to that position for which you’re perfect. Listen to books on tape regarding the job search or podcasts from my valued connections, Mark Anthony Dyson and Virginia Franco.


I have heard from job seekers that the pandemic has made it impossible to job search from home with children. Some have abandoned the job search entirely, relying on unemployment plus the $600 provided through the CARES act, which at this writing has stopped.

Career coaches can’t change the mind frame of people like this. Job seekers need to realize that unemployment benefits will eventually run dry, so they need to adamantly dive into their JSFHWC.

14 Resume articles that will help you in the job search

This compilation of resume writing articles is based on my and others’ knowledge of writing resumes that will get you to an interview. Read one or many of these articles. As I publish articles, I’ll add them to this compilation. Enjoy, and I hope the resume articles help you get to your next interview.

To bold or not bold text on your resume and LinkedIn profile: 63% of voters opt for bold text

I’ve been a proponent for a long time of writing some of the text on job-search documents (resume and LinkedIn profile) in bold. I stress some of your text, not all of it.Because to bold all the text would diminish the impact of your sentences. It would be like having too much frosting on a cake.

6 ways to make your resume easier for hiring authorities to read

Hiring authorities read hundreds of resumes per week. You need to make reading your resume as easy as possible for them. Making it easier for them to read your resume depends on six obvious factors.

How a resume should be written and comments from 12 resume writers

It’s a fact that if you hire 10 resume writers to write your resume, you’ll get 10 different resumes. It’s also a fact that there are some traits of a resume that are universal. In other words, they are a staple of a resume. In this article, I talk about the traits that stand out for a resume.

It’s the LinkedIn profile over the resume by a landslide: 3,338 voters decide

Like a lopsided political race, this one is a landslide. I’m talking about a LinkedIn poll asking 3,338 voters to chose between keeping either their resume or LinkedIn profile. Which one wins by 72%? Why, the LinkedIn profile, of course. I’m not at all surprised by the result.

The ultimate comparison of the résumé and LinkedIn profile: a look at 12 areas

Occasionally I’m asked which I prefer writing or reviewing, a résumé or LinkedIn profile. To use a tired cliché, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. The first fact we have to realize is that each has its own purpose.

The Summary is the loser out of 3 resume sections. More than 2,000 people have voted

Would you have guessed that out of three resume sections—Skills, Summary, and Education—the Summary is the least necessary? I wouldn’t have. So much has been written on how to write the Summary, how to brand yourself, keep it brief, and show your value to employers

Does resume length matter? A poll and 13 career authorities say it does

Just when you thought the debate was over, a poll and 13 career authorities prove differently. Should a resume be one page, two pages, or three pages long? Or does it depend?

Why your LinkedIn profile resembles a combination resume

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">What is a combination resume? Simply put it's a functional resume and chronological resume combined. Your LinkedIn profile About section satisfies the first component and, well, we know how LinkedIn's Experience section is a chronological format.What is a combination resume? Simply put it’s a functional resume and chronological resume combined. Your LinkedIn profile About section satisfies the first component and, well, we know how LinkedIn’s Experience section is a chronological format.

Hot resume trends for 2020: What the experts say

A decade has ended and now a new one is upon us, so what will 2020 bring in terms of résumé trends? One thing is for sure; if you plan to submit the same tired résumé for all positions, your chances of success will hover around zero percent. Some résumé trends will stay the same as they did in 2019; whereas others will change, or at least be reinforced.

Is it time to declutter your resume? 10 items to consider

I’m not a proponent of limiting the number of résumé pages to one, or even two. But seven-pages is definitely overdoing it. Now, I’m asking you what has to go when you declutter your résumé. Here are 10 items you should remove from your document before submitting it for a position.

Store your resume and 6 other documents on your phone

Consider this situation: you’re hundreds of miles away from your computer, where your résumé is stored. A hiring manager from a desired company sends you a text that reads, “Saw your LinkedIn profile and am impressed. Trying to fill an operations manager position. Like to see your resume today.” The only device you have is your phone.

3 reasons why your resume alone will not land you a job

One of my close LinkedIn connections told me that a client of hers would only pay her for writing his résumé if she would guarantee he’d land a job. Needless to say, she didn’t take him on as a client. I think most rational individuals would agree that she made the correct decision. There are NO guarantees that a resume will land you a job.

Is the resume Summary dead?

In this article, we take a look at the resume Summary and if it’s even useful. Experts weigh in. Result, most find the Summary a useful section to sell yourself early on. Others say to leave it off the resume, as they go directly to the Experience section.

45 resume words that need to be made extinct

There are a lot of words that should be left off your resume. Check out the list. Does your resume have some of the words on the list?

Updating your LinkedIn Profile during COVID-19: 5 major areas

We’re in the midst of COVID-19 which has forced many of us to stay at home. To make matters worse, unemployment has risen to unprecedented levels. On the surface, things aren’t looking good. But I don’t need to tell you this if you’re out of work.

serious adult bearded worker using tablet near window in workshop

I also don’t need to tell you that being stuck inside probably leaves you sitting in front of your computer searching for jobs online; checking your LinkedIn and Facebook streams; or worst-case scenario, watching Netflix and the good ole tele. You have some time on your hands.

Now is the time to work on your LinkedIn profile, especially if it needs a lot of work. Not for nothing, I’ve reviewed and written hundreds of LinkedIn profiles, so I know there are some great ones, average ones, and downright poor ones.

Writing a profile is hard work and time-consuming; but if you want to separate yourself from the poor to average, you’ll have to dedicate some effort. Take advantage of the time all of us have on our hands due to COVID-19. Let’s take this step by step.

First, think about your accomplishments

Now is the time to think hard about your accomplishments. Easier said than done, you think. You think everything you did while working was just part of your job. Nothing special. I get it. But you have accomplished more than you think.

I tell my clients, who claim they can’t think of any accomplishments, to reach out to people with whom they worked for help thinking about their accomplishments. Like my clients, you might be too close to your accomplishments to recognize them as such.

For example, you led a team of five people that always delivered assignments on time despite tight deadlines. You don’t think of it as a major accomplishment. But if you were to reach out to members of your former crew, they’d tell you how your leadership made all of it possible.

The question is how do you reach out to your former colleagues? Put your computer to better use; set up a time to meet with video streaming platforms like Zoom, Skype, and Facetime. In some ways it’s easier to communicate with people than getting together for coffee.

After you’ve accumulated accomplishments you didn’t realize you achieved, you’re ready to go to work on your LinkedIn profile.

Your profile

Countless articles have been written on how to create an optimized profile that brands you. Take a look at yours and if it doesn’t accomplish this, now’s the time to make it right. I’m going to point out the most important sections on which to focus. Once you’ve nailed these, work on the others.

Snapshot area: background image, photo, headline

This is the area is at the top of your profile. It should include a background image first and foremost. Make sure your background image brands you by illustrating your industry and/or occupation. An image of a mountainscape or seashore is acceptable, as it describes your personality.

You might consider this statement to be too strong: you must include a photo because without it you won’t come across as memorable, trusted, and liked. What’s most important about your photo is that it’s high quality. This might be a tough order, as many photographers aren’t open for business.

Fix: have someone with a smartphone take your photo. I’ve seen some really great photos taken with an iPhone and Android.

A strong headline is essential. If your Headline is about your situation—you’re unemployed—it adds no value to your profile. This is where you want to tout your areas of expertise. Make it keyword rich like this:

Marketing Manager ~ Collaborative Planning | Customer Business Management | Brand and Product Marketing | MBA

A branding statement will also work but it won’t draw as many searchers, e.g., recruiters, as a headline that includes industry-related keywords will.

About section: the why, how, and what

The most important lines in your About section are the first three, where you need to entice the reader to continue reading. This is approximately 50 words, so make them count. Look at your opening paragraph as the Why. In other words, why should they click “see more.”

The “What” you do (to solve the “Why”) can be the next paragraph. Finally, “How” you do what you do rounds out your About section. Throw in some accomplishments here. As mentioned above, if you’re having trouble thinking of your accomplishments, ask people you worked with or your spouse.

Note: Don’t forget your call to action: your email address and telephone number (if you want to include it.

woman working at home using her laptop

Experience section: be more descriptive

The Experience section has been much neglected, in my opinion. Again, take some time to think about what you’ve accomplished at your previous jobs. Many people simply list their company name, title, and years of tenure. This is a shame. Even if you are/were the CEO of a company, at least describe what the company does.

Another thing people don’t realize is that you can add more to your title. For example, you are a Financial Analyst at Biogen with areas of expertise in Data Analysis, Project Management, Contract Negotiations, and Renewable Energy. Your title should read:

Financial Analyst ~ Data Analysis | Project Management | Contract Negotiations | Renewable Energy

You’ve been told not to simply copy and paste your résumé’s Experience information to your profile. I agree…to a point. While you won’t want to include everything from your résumé everything, including the kitchen sink, you will list only the highlights from your résumé.

And don’t be hesitant to show some personality in your Experience section. This is another place where you can tell your story. Here’s the job summary of my profile:

I’m more than a workshop facilitator & designer; I’m a career and LinkedIn strategist who constantly thinks of ways to better market my customers in their job search. Through disseminating trending job-search strategies, I increase our customers’ chances of finding jobs.

Read: 5 reasons why you shouldn’t ignore your LinkedIn profile Experience section

Education section: continue to tell your story

This is another section that can be expanded to tell your story. Sure you earned a Mechanical Engineer degree at MIT. Impressive, but that wasn’t all that you did while there. You were also an editor of the engineering newspaper. You also rowed Varsity crew.

I always ask my clients if they earned a degree while working full-time. Hands go up. “Do you have this fact listed on your profile,” I ask them. Hands go down. I reprimand them saying this factoid shows diligence, time management, among other skills. It’s not easy. Ask my wife who’s earning a Masters in Project Management.

Skills and endorsements/recommendations: help others

I want you to take some time to endorse your connections for their skills in the Skills and Endorsements section. A close connection of mine, Shelly Elsliger, prompted people to do this for a day. I thought it was a great way to get people active. Now that you have time, endorse your connections.

The same goes for writing recommendations for people you managed. Take this time to make their day and send them a recommendation out of the blue. Don’t wait for them to ask, because they probably won’t. This is a great way to show your authority and the values you hold in employees.

If you need recommendations, ASK! I find this is one of the hardest parts for people who are developing their profile. Fear of rejection. Afraid of putting people out. There are a number of excuses. Take this time to write your own recommendations and have someone approve it.


The rest

The easy part is done. What, you’re thinking? That’s right; you have reacted to what I’ve suggested. Now it’s time to activate your profile by reaching out to like-minded people to create a focused network. Once your network is established, you need to engage with them.

I won’t tell you that what we’re going through is a blessing, but I’ll tell you that you need to make the best of this unfortunate situation. Begin with your profile and work from there. One more thing, your profile doesn’t need to be perfect in order for your LinkedIn campaign to be put to use.