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Posted by Mindy Thomas on

Career Security – What Does That Really Mean?

If I remember anything from graduate school – way back in the day – it was this concept of career security.

So, I thought I would check out what would come up when I googled those words. Lo and behold, the words “job security” popped up. . . “Job security is when your job is secure and there is no chance of you ever losing your job.”

Hmmm. Today, not one person is “feeling” this.  Everyone, and I mean everyone . . .  is working on how to maintain career security which means working on how to stay employed more than 18 months. Why? Because according to Peter Weddles, one of the foremost authors on career development, technology is advancing at such an astronomical rate that everyone has to keep on finding ways to keep their skills up. This also means developing multiple skill sets. Skills sets that will support you in the position you are in, and that you can fall back on them if plan A does not work out.

I remember my Mom and Dad always talking about having a plan B in case some wild and crazy X factor was thrown into my life. I really couldn’t get that concept back in the late 70’s but know exactly what they meant years later. But, that’s life. With all the possible twists and turns of life, how can we possibly predict what will happen?

Well, you know we can’t. But, since we recognize that no one is going to bail us out, then we really need to become CEO’s of our careers and accept the long hard fact that  it is up to us to manage our careers.  Job security and career management are our responsibility, as it always has been for many of us. But, more than ever, we really need to work smart and manage even more closely.

In ensuring more security for yourself, you will have to do your due diligence. What that means is in making next your next move, be sure to talk to as many people as possible (information interview), research your grad school options (if that is one of your options-ask about their placement rate once you graduate), look up the Bureau of Labor Statistics (identify the market trends and what is NOT moving forward over the next ten years), check in with your university career center (they are there to serve you long after you are gone, but no one thinks to check in for the alumni services) and, most of all, be sure to really look at the market conditions. Every state is trending differently as well as every region in the country.

Be realistic. Think smart. Research. Read. Talk to people you respect. Network. Build those relationships. Go to networking events and work it. Take time to touch base with all of your friends. You never know who knows who.  The good news is that we have a blank canvas in front of us. With that, we can create a masterpiece for ourselves that incorporates our dreams with aligning our career values.  With ingenuity and your due diligence, you can win in this competitive job market. People are doing it everyday.

Posted by Mindy Thomas on

Learning How to Play the Game-Six Tips

Here are a few reminders on ways to play the game if you want to win in the job market today.

#1   Over 40,000 new resumes are posted to Monster.com each day. Yes, these are gargantuan numbers but do you realize most people are not landing jobs through posting to the internet? Accept this first factoid and you will start to climb out of the black hole you might be in. Understand that there are many other ways to get noticed and land a position. Take a look at Tory Johnson’s article on uncovering the hidden job market. There are completely new rules to the game and you have to learn them nowhttp://blogs.abcnews.com/toryjohnson/2009/12/unlock-the-hidden-job-market.html

#2   Google receives over 1800 unsolicited resumes everyday. Do the math on that (or don’t.)  But, one thing that is a MUST besides ramping up your resume and modernizing it is to increase your online presence as soon as you are able to. Many people are on Linked-In and doing nothing but waiting for a “hit”. Try to grab Jason Alba’s new book and sign up for his blog. It’s easy reading and chock full of information that will save you from the massive confusion that abounds everywhere.  http://www.happyabout.com/linkedinhelp.php

#3   Prospective employers and HR recruiters generally spend a mere 15 to 20 seconds reviewing a resume for the first time. Many of these folks are not career strategists. More importantly, you will need to prepare a compelling overview not a biography when writing your resume. This is one of the biggest blunders that candidates are making right now . . . TMI (too much information) is a real concern and can get you knocked out of a search in a nano second.

#4   A professionally prepared resume will increase the success rate of getting an interview in today’s competitive job market. I have seen numerous people reapply after they have invested in a professional resume and land the job. It is absolutely amazing. Don’t be afraid to reapply even after you applied to that company four months ago. The recruiter will parse your resume into their ATS and the old resume will virtually disappear.

#5   A finely crafted resume can command a higher salary. One of my clients had landed an interview with her old resume, and in the middle of the search process, presented her latest rendition of her resume. When she got the offer, it was 7K more than the range she anticipated. We were doing a happy dance – she was on one side of the phone and I was on the other. I had to push her on submitting that new resume.  In the end, I know that she was thrilled that she did.

#6   You can save money by focusing your job search through targeted cover letters instead of a “blanket” approach. Everyone hates the truth about this one. And, I have to tell you that you MUST customize every cover letter. It is a royal pain, I know. But, do it well and understand that even though 50% of the recruiters do not read these letters, there’s a whole lot of folks that do. Bottom line is if you blow that cover letter in anyway, you are never going to get to the table for an interview.  These recruiters will simply not turn the page. I know because I always ask this question when I come in contact with one of them.

Embrace the market as it is. This is our new reality. Tackle this new job market with the support of books, tools, empowering and motivational CD’s and new strategies. People are landing and I know you want to as well.  Boomers, college graduates, mothers returning to work and even teens that may have dropped out of college due to lack of funding and are working . .  . they were all where you once were. So, let’s get started and begin navigating your job search with less frustration by embracing these tips and changing your approach to ensure a more rapid path to success.

Posted by Mindy Thomas on

No One Is Going to Bail You Out In the New Economy

Tough words to accept in these times. I feel the pain of accepting that, we the people, will never receive a bailout like corporate America.

Every time I meet a new career counseling client, I am genuinely interested in how their career choices were shaped from early on.  I can’t help it.  I really do wonder how people end up in their chosen occupations. I am curious whether their parents played any part  in defining their career and what their dreams were for them.  Sometimes when I ask that question, I get a clear response.  Sometimes I don’t.

Other times, like last week, the response went like this . . .  “Well, Mindy . . . I was the oldest of six children and my mom was on welfare her whole life. My Dad had no career and was incarcerated for ten years.” I asked, “who influenced you?”  She shrugged her shoulders and replied, “I don’t really remember anyone being there. I just knew that there had to be another way of life out there for me. I found my way to a ‘magnet’ school in Philadelphia and that’s when it really began.”

I was stunned, frankly. This young woman showed up in my office ready to invest in her career and had such a “fire in her belly” — you could see it in her instantly.  She had overcome the extreme adversity of not having parents who saved for her college education and lovingly guided her through Temple University and, now she is graduating from Drexel University in March with an MBA.  The only bailout to speak of is . . .  my client bailing herself out.  She knew no one was coming. She knew that only she could move herself up and out.  Someone once said that “a woman who can move on is invincible.”

I sit in amazement when I think about my client. There are so many people who get this PLOM disease. It’s called poor little old me. They become victims and they carry it through their whole life. Unlike my client who is reinvesting in herself, I have no doubt that she will succeed in her life. Why am I so sure?

She will not allow herself to think that there is a “bail out” coming.  If you have a second, take a look at this utube video of  – Susan Boyle and think about how much courage it took for Susan to show up.  Half of the battle is just showing up. Like my client, Susan Boyle went with her “gut” and marched on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxPZh4AnWyk

If only we could allow ourselves to dream big and manage to let go of the FEAR we have.  Have you ever thought of  looking at this description of FEAR?

False Expectations Appearing Real.

What would happen if you changed the way you thought and felt about fear? Where would it take you if you let go of  the paralysis analysis that we all have experienced?

The fact is . . . if there is no bail out coming, we need to bail ourselves out. This means taking our head out of the sand, marching forward and taking complete responsibility for our own career management. If you cannot figure out what comes next, maybe you are a candidate for career counseling.

Posted by Mindy Thomas on

The Job Market is a Big Game of Musical Chairs

With unemployment still reaching an all-time high and many believing it to be much higher, job seekers continue to scramble to compete in a big game of musical chairs, where fewer and fewer jobs are available.  Many people are turning to entrepreneurship as a way of digging out of this black hole. In fact, that’s exactly what I did.

After being laid off from my job as a legal recruiter on January 26th, 2008 . . .  the largest layoff in modern-day America, I decided to start up a career services consulting company. On the day I got laid off, over 100,000 people lost their jobs. I had no other choice but to get off the bleachers and launch something.  For years, friends told me that I should put out a shingle. Finally, I was forced to jump off the high wire, and I prayed all the way down.

As a  professionally-trained career counselor and certified résumé writer, I knew for sure . . . that résumé writing was an interesting art and skill that most people don’t have.  What also became more apparent after spending time as a legal recruiter, was that many attorneys couldn’t put together a well-written, succinct résumé that showcased their brilliant achievements. I set my sites on the legal arena and quickly found out that I was completely drawn to writing more than just legal resumes.

Frankly, I am in complete awe after interviewing my clients because they teach me at the deepest level about their occupations and what it takes to make in their business. And, there is no better way to learn about  an industry, or a specific occupation or about the internal landscape of a company than to interview someone for a couple hours. As you can imagine, the networking is phenomenal, to say the least.

People ask me all the time …. how did I get it going?  The whole concept of volunteering is right on the money. As a way of introducing myself, I did pro bono résumé review work with Villanova University School of Law, took a Project Consultant position with Right Management, a global leader in outplacement and career transition services and a family friend developed my website to get me up and running.

After that, I nailed down additional certifications — amazingly, so many boomers will not reinvest in themselves but I think it’s essential in today’s economy.  From there I entered a very competitive market and am constantly working at staying on top of the latest trends in this new economy.  I also visited the SBA (Small Business Administration) at Widener University to see what they had to offer. And, I consulted many friends about everything except what skill sets I was going to offer in my new business. First and foremost, I knew what I loved and what I didn’t.

I did not do it alone. And, I am eternally grateful for everyone that helped me along the way. And, yes, the man upstairs was called upon when I was scrambling to figure it all out.  It’s pretty amazing when you really start playing the game of musical chairs, where you might land.

Posted by Mindy Thomas on

People Are Winning in the War for Jobs

“I just went for it,”  she said.

I mentioned that I know a woman who won her dream job by following Tony Robbins Ultimate Success Formula unconsciously. She knew absolutely nothing about the formula I described in my last post. And, here it is . . . the New Year is around the corner and she pulled it off. She will march into this New Year – happy, proud and empowered by changing her approach until she got what she wanted.

What kind of chance did she take?  What was that approach? It was real simple. And, it took guts. Big time.

She pulled up her bootstraps and made a phone call directly to the CEO of a company she was interested in. She told the CEO about an article she had cut out of the paper in June because his company was exactly what she had been looking for. This is AFTER  she applied for a position at this same company and it was filled! When she got the CEO on the phone, he asked her to tell him about herself and in her best twenty second elevator speech, she did.  The CEO invited her in for a visit with the VP of Sales. She still did not know if there was even a position available, but she went with the flow.

After that call to the CEO, they sent her an outline of the job and a 20 question open-end questionnaire which took her 8 hours to fill out.  When she finally met with the VP of Sales, they offered her a Director’s position and the money she asked for!

Everyone back at the old company practically went into cardiac arrest. What was even more stunning, was they counter offered and matched the exact salary!  And, what do you think happened? You guessed it. This gal moved on and “ain’t” looking back. I am so inspired by people who can move on. It just fires me up.

In the coming New Year, think about how you can change the approach you’ve been using with your job search. Pull out all the stops. Dig down and become creative. Enlist your higher power. Make a concerted effort to look at what’s working and what’s not. And, for heaven’s sake, take a chance and change your approach (to your job search or anything in your life you are challenged with) . . . until you get what you want. Just go for it.

Posted by Mindy Thomas on

Winning in the Job Market Today

I love success stories, don’t you?  Just last week I heard from my client out in Pittsburgh that she “landed” her dream job. I started thinking about how she was able to win in this treacherous job market.

What makes the difference? What else does it take besides a dynamite resume, a strong network and an optimistic attitude to land a new position in today’s job market?  Harvard Business School Press ranks Tony Robbins as one of the Top 200 Business Gurus in the world and he has helped scores of celebrities, politico’s and people — just like you and me.

Frankly, I am convinced that Tony’s Ultimate Success Formula is a fabulous game plan.  In fact, this particular formula is one that successful people follow . . . either unconsciously or consciously.  So, here is the low down . . . it’s really rather simple.

#1   Decide what you want. Clarity is power.

You must become clear on what it is that you want.  In the world of resume writing, we mean . . . be clear on the actual position you are seeking within your industry.  Resume writers love when they find a job seeker who is focused and has a target to shoot for. So do employers.

#2   Take action. It is not enough to know what you want.

You actually need to do something about it. This does not mean just talking about landing a new job or advancing up the ladder. It means working at it. Working at it — like your life depended on it. How much more energy would you put into it if that were the case?  Many people know what they want, but they don’t take action. You know what I am talking about. It’s sort of like saying you want to lose 10 lbs. and never beginning to exercise or reduce the food intake.

If you are confused or don’t know what to do, find a great career counselor and coach to help define your interests, skills and values. Then, explore your options.

If you’ve been out of the job market  for awhile and fearful about getting started, there are scores of  great books out there like Peter Weddle’s Work Strong, Job Search Magic by Susan Britton Whitcomb and What Color is My Parachute by Dick Bolles.

#3   Notice what’s working and what isn’t. Here’s where the meltdown happens.

Many job seekers really miss this third and very important step. They keep doing the same things over and over again.

The operative word is noticing. Be mindful of how you are finding work.  Analyze your process, yourself and try different approaches. Distinguish yourself.  Think about how you can stand out from the crowd.  What would stand out to you?

I know a police lieutenant who not only emailed his resume into the HR department for a Chief of Police position at his local district, but he also got “suited” up and outright walked his “hard copy” over to the Mayor’s office. He never breathed a word to anyone at the office that he was doubling down on that application. In the finale, that lieutenant was promoted to the Chief’s position.

#4   Change the approach until you get what you want.

This last concept is the most important. Flexibility is power. It is this final piece of the formula that will help you to be triumphant.

Become creative. Pull out all the stops. Talk to your trusted friends and family. Step back and think about your process. Interrupt the pattern you are in right now. Think about the competition and take a different approach.

Being agile in a chaotic, often frenzy world is not an easy feat but candidates are winning the war every single day. And, I am convinced that they are following this formula — either consciously or unconsciously.

Next time we’ll look more closely at the success story of  this Pittsburgh woman who landed her dream job during this holiday season when supposedly no one was “hiring.” She didn’t give up even after she was told the job was filled. I believe she unconsciously followed this formula to a T.

Posted by Mindy Thomas on

American Workers Do Hard Time

Every time I hear another story about employee abuse in corporate America or even small companies, I get a knot in my stomach. These stories surface daily in my work as a career counselor and resume writer. I often wonder how the American workers are supposed to sleep through the night when they live in fear . . . day after day of supervisors that mistreat them, organizations that lie to them and then give them the “boot.”  Moreover, what about the employers that are taking advantage of the masses by paying the lowest wage possible?  When will it stop?

I have to tell you that when I read a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about the “defectors,” my heart sang. I exhaled and felt supremely proud of the workers who are now able to break free of the noose around their neck. In the article titled “Keeping Overqualifieds on Board – Recruiters Say Desperate Workers in a Down Economy Now Seek Greener Pastures,” it talks about workers defecting for greener pastures. They are actually leaving the employers who hired them and paid them horrendous salaries during the darkest time of the recession.  “Yay! Hip Hip  Hooray!” I said to myself, “Bring it on and God Bless those who are able to say “I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore.”

Yes, there are many Americans who are doing hard time. Just yesterday, I heard another one that woke me up and summoned that empty feeling inside me once again.

A manufacturing executive was told he was doing a great job . . . just super. Three weeks later, he was let go with no reason. What’s worse is that he was so stunned, he couldn’t even ask why he was being let go. He landed in the hospital for stress and spent nearly a week trying to regroup. Every day he woke up with the nightmare of what the heck happened and how could the boss have handled the situation the way he did.

These are certainly desperate times for many, but there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel. Even if you are not in this state of mind, one thing is for sure . . . you must “act as if” and believe that hope exists for you.

American employees might be suffering psychologically right now, but I am seeing them fight tooth and nail to make it. There are many people who are landing in better jobs or obtaining their first job in many months. There are others that are getting up and out of jobs they hate with employers that mistreat them. Still, there are others that are leaving organizations that don’t support their values systems. Most of all, they are all creating their destiny by taking action. They are saying to themselves, “there is no option to fail.”  And, I am going to pull out all the stops. Now. I am not waiting around for the “upturn” in the economy.

Maybe one of the things we all need to ask ourselves right now is . . . What could we be doing to open up more possibilities for our career? Are we really working every angle right now to change our current reality? Are there other actions we could possibly be doing to make a difference in creating a new pathway for something better?

Next time, we’ll cover the The Ultimate Success Formula that highly successful individuals use . . . either consciously or unconsciously to get what they want.