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December 6, 2012

It may seem that the holiday season is not an ideal time to be looking for work — people are distracted with family vacations or preoccupied with holiday parties while winter weather can wreak havoc with the best laid plans… However, I encourage you to think otherwise. People also tend to be open minded and festive at the many parties and holiday gatherings this time of year. The spirit of giving back is in the air. It is the perfect time to make new contacts and sell yourself in a non-threatening way.  

Seeking more encouragement to job search over the holidays?  

Check out these articles:  

The first is by Mary Eileen Williams from Huffington Post, “Holiday Job Search: 4 Reasons to Make Merry and Land Your Next Job.” 

Another timely and informative piece is this post from Dr. John Sullivan entitled, “Tis the Season for Recruiting — 20 Reasons Why December is a Powerful Recruiting Month.”

While you get gussied up for those holiday parties, be sure to brush up on your people skills. Here are my picks of three useful articles to read before you step out and make merry: 

Networking Skills ~ How to Power Up Your Networking Skills [Top 10 Tips] by Mary Hope

Communication Skills ~ Five Tips To Be A Better Communicator by Paul Morin

Listening Skills ~ The Discipline of Listening by Ram Charan

Wishing you a very happy and productive holiday season.

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August 3, 2012

The Summer Olympics 2012 are in full swing.  Is there anything more exciting that seeing the best athletes in the world compete for their chance at a gold medal? As I have been watching the Olympic events unfold over the past week, it dawned on me that there are several lessons we can take from the Olympics that can apply to a job search.

I. Perseverance in the Face of Adversity ~ In an interview with Gabby Douglas, the gymnast who won gold, she explained how she made huge sacrifices to train to become the best. She endured grueling workouts in the gym, terrific homesickness, and her single mother made huge financial sacrifices for her training. Through it all she persevered and reached her dream. Obviously getting a job may not feel as magnanimous as winning a gold medal but it is still an important achievement.  In today’s competitive market, it is absolutely essential not to give up. You may need to try different tactics, reach out to more folks, hire a coach, or get additional credentials. Don’t give up.

II. Focus on the task as hand ~ All of the Olympic champions seem to be able to block out all the noise, cheering, commentary, and competitors during their competitions.  They are able to focus with discipline and do their thing.  Don’t let the distractions of modern life keep you from completing your job search tasks.  Step away from the tv, don’t check the latest Facebook status of your friends, let the twitter stream flow by, let your phone roll over to voicemail and get it done.  Focus on what you need to do: set up the informational interview you have been putting off, draft the cover letter, submit the grad school applications.

III. Be a gracious loser ~ There are far more competitors than gold medals available in each sport. Some competitors will go home with the gold and some will not. In today’s uber competitive job market the situation is similar.  You will not be offered every job you seek. However, if you are gracious, even when rejected, you never know what might happen. There is nothing wrong with seeking input on what you could have done differently in an interview. Or asking what differentiated the candidate who was hired from you. Seeking input in a gracious, respectable, kind manner is always acceptable and can yield great lessons.

IV. Dream Big ~ As the saying goes, “Every expert was once a novice.”  There was a point in time when Michael Phelps did not know how to swim. Take a moment to marinate on that reality. So much of what we do in the workplace is learned through trial and error, education, mentors, and observing others. We all have innate talents that we can tap. However, these talents must be cultivated in order for us to shine. Don’t give up on your dreams. If there is a job that you want, figure out a path to getting it. It may take time, and sacrifice but there is a way to pursue the kind of work that you were born to do.

You may hear people talk about the importance of having a LinkedIn profile.  Many folks add people to their list of contacts when convenient or the mood strikes. Sometimes I will search LinkedIn for a person I meet at an event (whether its business or social) to get a better idea of their work background and interests. It helps flesh them out.

There are many ways to strategically use LinkedIn as an important career development tool. Whether you are actively seeking work, or just trying to maintain your network and stay on top of the curve, I recommend you read this excellent blog post by Guy Kawasaki (co-founder of Alltop.com, founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures and well known author), entitled,  10 Ways to Use LinkedIn. It will give you great insight into more sophisticated ways to use this popular social media tool.

Did you ever volunteer for a cause or event with an ulterior motive? Yeah, you were excited to do something to benefit the community, but secretly you hoped to meet a new friend or maybe even someone interesting to date?

I think this can happen with job networking groups too. Folks may join a group thinking that if they boost their career a bit from gleaning something the guest speaker shared at the breakfast that would be great, but secretly there is the hope that more might come from it.

I suggest you do a gut check on why you are joining a networking group, then read this candid and useful entry written by Anne Brenoff entitled, “Five Things You Don’t Know About Job Networking Groups And Should,” on Walletpop.

There is no harm in exploring one’s job options even if you are happily employed (and in this economy grateful). This entry explores the idea of seeing if the grass is truly greener on the other side of the fence so to speak. I encourage you to read this interesting entry from Vault.com‘s blog on Three Reasons Why The Happily Employed Should Take That Interview.