Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

The audience for today's column is a little different. I want to share a little advice for people who are between jobs and who are perhaps frustrated with the seemingly endless process of finding a new role.

My advice comes from an old friend and former employer, Peter Lehrer (who may have stolen it from Winston Churchill.) Simply put, "Never give up, never give up, never give up!"

If you have been out of work for a while then you already know jobs, particularly at the more senior levels, are very hard to come by. There are a lot of people competing for a small number of opportunities. Recruiters and HR department staff are ruthless and exclude candidates for the slightest deficiency. There is such an overabundance of highly qualified talent that companies can afford to be extremely choosy about who they interview and ultimately hire. And so they are.

It is imperative that you constantly network, stay current and keep a positive outlook These are the three key elements of my strategy which will not only keep you busy and sane, but will also help to keep you moving towards your next job.

There are so many organizations, social networks and events that the opportunities for networking are virtually endless. You could spend all day (and night) communicating with the people you already know and, importantly, expanding your network by meeting new people. Do not be afraid or embarrassed to let people know you are looking for a job. You are in the same boat as 14 million other people in the United States, even more worldwide.

At the same time, do not ask them FOR a job. Rather, engage them in a conversation highlighting your strengths and value add. Ask for feedback (if they know you) or explore what they know about a company, an industry or the market where your interests lie. Have them refer you to others who they know might be in a position to help to you.

Equally important, particularly in these lean times, is to stay in the game. Become a thought leader and speak at conferences, write articles or participate in on-line networks. Use tools like LinkedIn to advertise your strengths and make sure you post updates and participate in groups and discussions. The idea is to make as many people as possible aware that you are out there and still very relevant. Some people even start blogging. These activities force you to remain current and engaged in your industry so when you do land that all important first interview you can talk about something other than what you did years ago.

Finally, and in my view most important, you must remain upbeat and positive at all times. If you are angry or depressed you must find a way to shake it off and do it fast. No one will choose to interview, let alone hire, someone who seems mad at the world, frustrated or down. Always show your upside, exude energy and display enthusiasm when talking about past, present or future. Highlight the good things about past jobs, employers and life in general.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. It may take a long time to get back into the kind of role you had before or the one you now seek. But if you follow these simple guidelines it will be easier to bear and you might even have some fun along the way.

Captain Joe

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