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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Down, But Not Out

Rocky BalboaImage by radiospike photography via Flickr

I came across these words of advice from Tory Johnson, CEO of Women for Hire and workplace contributor on ABC's "Good Morning America." This is adapted from her new book, "Fired to Hired" (Berkley Books).

Good Tactics & Advice For Your Job Search
  1. Keep the pity party brief. It's normal to wonder, "Why me?" Whine for a week - to get it out of your system. Then put a lid on it so negativity doesn't hold you back. All jobs are temporary, and whether by choice or circumstance, eventually we all must move on.
  2. Remember: You're more than your job title. In a society in which everyone asks what you do and where you work, turning in your corporate ID and losing your company-provided business cards can leave you feeling vulnerable. But a pink slip can't strip you of your skills and successes. You own those forever.
  3. Don't trot out the "nobody's hiring" excuse. On "Larry King Live" earlier this year, a caller asked how he could possibly find a job when 90 percent of the local employers weren't hiring. The answer: Focus on the other 10 percent. You need only one to say yes.
  4. Focus on the blessing -- not the curse -- of a blank slate. Unemployment allows you to move in any direction -- which can mean a chance to finally do what you've really always wanted. But don't let unlimited options lead to indecision; figure out where you want to go, then map a course to get there.
  5. Play to their needs. No employer will hire you because of what you want -- such as an "opportunity for growth in a progressive company." Forget generic blather; you'll only be hired based on what the company wants. Figure out what that is, and position yourself as an ideal match.
  6. Embrace the 60/40 rule. Until a year ago, I recommended spending 70 percent of your job-search time offline and 30 percent online. But now that social media rules the recruiting landscape, go for it: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, plus industry blogs, are ideal ways to connect with decision makers. There's one key caveat, though:
  7. Don't spray and pray. Only a fraction of your time online should be spent on the giant job boards, which lead to a false sense of accomplishment. You submit hundreds of resumes and assume someone out there will respond. A logical assumption -- and a wrong one. Job searching in a recession is more about quality than quantity. If you're not following up and reaching out directly to decision makers, your chances of being discovered in that big black hole are slim.
  8. Volunteer or extern every week. Devote a portion of your week to gaining new skills, strengthening existing ones and meeting new people on the job -- even if it's unpaid. When someone asks what you're up to while you're out of work -- and you know they most certainly will -- volunteering and interviewing offer a respectable response.
  9. Overcome shyness. If you're terrified of picking up the phone or you're not authoritative when selling yourself, invest $10 to become an Avon rep. Training with a leader in direct sales, which ranges from watching videos to tagging along with a successful seller, may help you quickly gain the confidence to speak up. If makeup's not your thing, try Toastmasters.
  10. Never allow fear of failure to hold you back. If you're convinced that nobody's hiring, that the competition is too steep or that someone won't return your calls, you won't even make an attempt. Forget potential rejection and focus on what you can control. Make that cold call, send that e-mail or apply for that position.
  11. Come out of hiding. When my single friends groan, "Oh, when will I get married?" I answer: "When you start dating." The world has to know that you exist and that you're interested. That's true with dating, and it's true when looking for a job.
  12. Celebrate often. If you wake up each morning assuming you'll get hired that day, you'll go to sleep most nights feeling like a failure. Getting hired is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep a job journal to focus on one thing that went right daily. Your call was returned, an e-mail didn't bounce, you met a new contact. Teeny victories keep you motivated and lead to the big success.
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