Welcome to the new Mighty Forces

Recently I had a conversation with a good friend, someone with many years of experience in his field. He’s a hard worker, innovative and knows how to solve problems. Despite all that, he’s one of the so-called “99ers,” people who have been out of work for more than 99 weeks.

This site is for him – and for all the people struggling to make their voices heard above the din of thousands of other job-seekers.

The good news is, you can do it. The bad news is, job hunting is a game where most of the people you encounter don’t want you to learn the rules. I’ll do my best to show you how to play the game; the rest is up to you. If you’re new here, you should probably start with “It’s not about you.”

I’m not a professional job counselor, and I don’t play one on TV, either. But I think we can have a conversation that will take you a little further down the road you want to be on. Let’s go.

Adjectives vs. Verbs

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When writing cover letters and resumes, words mean things.

Diligent. Trustworthy. Reliable. Dynamic. Enterprising. Professional. Detail-oriented. Organized. Enthusiastic. Passionate. Creative.

Recognize these words, or words like them, from your resume or the resume of others?

I have some simple and direct advice about including these words in your job-hunting materials: Stop it. Stop it now. I’m serious.
[Read more...]

Riding your bike to work

Just a quick story for today. A friend of mine told me about when he was on the interview panel for a job in his division of the company. One of the interview subjects, a guy who seemed eminently qualified on paper, was quite distracted during the interview. He kept looking out the office window; my friend wasn’t sure why.

“This job would be perfect for me,” the candidate said after he finally finished rubbernecking out the window. “I would be able to ride my bike to work!”

Not once did the man mention why and how he could solve the employer’s problems. He even brought up the “riding his bike to work” concept again at the end of the interview.

It probably doesn’t need to be said, but he didn’t get the job.

Please remember and never forget: It’s not about you.

Information interviews

I’d like to talk about a job-hunting technique that can bring tremendous results, but one that very few people actually take advantage of: information interviews.

Unlike traditional job interviews, information interviews aren’t the usual headache-inducing, clammy-handed stress tests. Because the difference here is, you’re the one doing the interviewing! You’re in control, not them. Sound good? [Read more...]

The personal touch

Want to know a simple, inexpensive way to increase your chances of getting hired?

Go to a bookstore or museum gift shop and buy a box of small note cards with matching envelopes. Don’t forget stamps, in case you don’t have any of those around the house.

Now, after you have an interview, instead of sending out thank-you emails to the people you met, sit down with a real pen and write a short note to each person. The same rules apply: make it short and to the point, but always include something unique to that person so they know it’s not a canned response.

It’s best if you do this the day of your interview, so the note(s) can go out in that day’s or at the most, the next day’s mail.

I think you’ll be amazed at the impact a real snail mail note can have. Think about the last time you received a personal note or letter in the mail. See what I mean?

This technique works for lots of situations, not just after job interviews. Send notes to contacts you met for coffee, past employers, freelance clients you haven’t worked with in a while…this real-life communication has tremendous positive impact. You’ve shown that person a level of personal engagement and regard that’s quite rare these days.

Just try it a few times – magic can happen.

The dark side of HR

As research for this blog, I read a lot of job hunting and resume advice, most of it on the web. A lot of it, to be blunt, is trash. But I read something this week that really “angered up my blood,” as Grandpa Simpson would say.

It was from a blog on the Harvard Business Review site, of all places, innocently titled “Job Seekers: Get HR on Your Side.” If you’ve read this site before, you probably know that there’s no love lost between me and the vast majority of the Human Resources profession. But this article went above and beyond. [Read more...]

‘Not eligible’

Just a quick little story today.

A while ago I applied for a job in the state system. I filled out the online application, which basically involved restating my resume in prose form by filling out a series of online form boxes. It was a job that I was extremely qualified for, and my background exactly matched what they said they were looking for.

Well, man plans, God laughs, as they say. [Read more...]

Interview secrets – Part Deux

Last time, we dealt a little bit with the psychological side of job interviews. But I left out what I think is the most important thing to elevate your performance from good to great:
Do the job in the interview.

What does that mean, exactly? It means several things.

Preparation
First, it means that before the interview (really, before you sent in an application for the job) you were convinced that you could kick ass in this job. Not “yeah I could probably do that,” or “I guess I could manage to work there for a while.” It means after looking at the job description, and doing your research on the job and the company, you’ve come to the conclusion that if they don’t hire you personally, they will regret it for the rest of their miserable lives. [Read more...]

My interview secret(s)

Job hunting books and websites are packed with checklists that are supposed to help you succeed at interviews.

Maintain a firm handshake! Be on time! Be positive! Don’t answer your cell phone during the interview! Dress appropriately!

Thanks – how helpful! You left out how I shouldn’t wear nothing but a shaving cream bikini to that interview for the bank manager job.

The fact is that job interviews are largely horrible, tremor-inducing affairs that rank right up there with visits to the dentist on the “stuff I want to be doing right now” meter. They are the gauntlet of the job interview game. And no simplistic checklist is going to really help you get through it. [Read more...]