Try

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Guest post by Jamie Soo

Like you I was a job searcher up until three weeks ago.
I have a lot of empathy for the situation you find yourself in.
It’s important to acknowledge your disappointment and other feelings you may be feeling.
But after that it’s time to try to move on, even a little bit.
You may not like (or possibly hear) the suggestions that I make about possible jobs to look into.
But maybe you can file my suggestions away and look at it again when you’re ready to explore some new possibilities?
I know it may be hard to believe, but there are people who want to help you.
In Ontario there are government-funded agencies that will help you in your job search.
Ask for informational interviews.
Tap into your LinkedIn network for advice and support.
If we are connected, I would love to help, if only to provide suggestions.
Try to find some inspiration to think a little more positively.
For me, I find inspiration in Pink’s song “Try”, particularly this line:

“You gotta get up and try, and try, and try”

Maybe think of a quote that you find inspiring.
I heard Tim Cork give a speech a couple of years ago.
In that speech he said this quote that I find inspirational:

“The past is history, the future is a mystery, today is a gift that is called the present”

We don’t have control over what people think, but we do have control over our own thoughts, feelings and perceptions.
It’s important to manage the impressions that others form of us.
How are you coming across in interviews?
Are you coming across as a positive person who can help with an employer’s pain?
Or are you holding on to perceptions about how others may have treated you in the past?
I came across a Forbes article today called “How workers in their 50s and 60s can thrive in today’s fast-changing world.
Notwithstanding the headline, this article is of interest to all job seekers, whatever your age.
The article suggests that job seekers seek to continuously learn, be open to change and to re-inventing themselves.
I know it’s difficult, but when you’re ready, try to set aside the past and think a little more positively.
Reflect on your skills and what you like to do.
Be open to learning and thinking about how you can apply your skills in this fast-changing world of ours.
My friend once said to me “maintain the persistence.”
And I for one know you can do it.

(Jamie Soo is a Human Resources professional who is interested in the future of work and building great workplace cultures.  He prides himself on being a relationship builder and positive communicator. Jamie writes a LinkedIn blog in his spare time.)
This article/picture was published in LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/try-jamie-soo?published=t

 

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Using LinkedIn – another approach

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A friend from a networking group was going crazy. His job search was going nowhere. He was doing everything right, or so he thought. He was networking furiously, seeking out networking meetings, scanning the internet for posted jobs, contacting agencies/recruiters/head hunters and checking his cell phone every now and again for job leads being sent to him by friends, online groups etc. He was sending out resumes by the dozens…. After about 9 plus months of job searching he had sent out at least 400 resumes!

His resume was perfect  🙂  He was going for interview after interview. But, he was not getting the job! What could possibly be wrong?

Now, I know what an experienced recruiter would say. If your resume is getting you interviews, then that is probably not the problem. But if the interview is not getting you the job, then look at the interview process again. Perhaps you are not interviewing well and you ought to dissect your interviewing skills to perfect this part.

But my friend was adamant. His interview skills was also perfect 🙂 In fact, for some jobs he had reached the 3rd, 4th and even the 5th interview but usually lost out to internal candidates. My friend was not happy! He just couldn’t understand the job market anymore. Actually, to be honest, he was mighty ticked off. And, in this state I would caution everyone to do nothing until you’ve had a moment to reach that calm inner place.

But my friend was not to be deterred. He was highly accomplished, had just completed an international assignment. He had plenty of good experience and was confident of his expertise in the field he was in.

In this ticked off mood, he took a second look at LinkedIn and decided to do the following:

He sent a note to about 10 contacts, all at VP/Director level. LinkedIn filters work well! In this note, he asked them a simple question. What value do I bring to the table with all my experience and accomplishments? Because if you don’t think I have any value then everything I have done to date amounts to nothing.

Now, my words are a crude attempt to get the message across but the gist was exactly as per the above. I know my friend carefully drafted the message, personalized each one and sent out the email more as a ‘seeking advice’ kind of note. He was feeling unsure of his value and was upset by his inability to connect with companies and showcase his skills set. I sat wide-eyed while he related this. I would not have sought to define myself like that, leave alone think it. But apparently this novel approach paid off.

Three people responded to his email, a back and forth ensued, he received a conditional offer from one company which was subsequently confirmed. My friend is no longer unemployed. But the experience humbled him. He gained an appreciation for the job search effort and resolved to keep in touch with his newly found networking group buddies.

I love successful job search stories because they give invaluable practical advice that adds to the job search portfolio. Another tried and tested method. It may not work for all but hey, this worked for him. LinkedIn is an amazing tool and has enormous potential for a job seeker. Go ahead, use it. Just don’t be ticked off, when you do. I really wouldn’t recommend that 🙂

 

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Involuntary separation – an employee’s perspective

2 termination woman-828886_1920.jpgYou walk into your office building, your head is buried deep in ‘work’ thought. You say good morning to everyone you meet on the way in, reach your cubicle, complete your computer logins and start the daily ritual. You check your emails, respond quickly to the no-brainer ones; thank you, thank you and thank you, accept meeting invites, leave the ones that require longer responses and get up to grab a coffee.

You follow the same routine, more or less for the last 5 years. Except that it’s not a normal day. But you don’t know that yet! You take your first sip of coffee, brewed just right and the phone lights up, ring, ring… Oh gosh, who calls at 8.30 am? The Manager. He must have something really urgent on the go. He’s asking you to come to his office. Nothing unusual, so you take your coffee and a notebook and saunter on, nodding along the way at your colleagues. Your office is not close to his.

You reach the doorway and stop…. The Manager is in there with an HR Rep. and now your heart drops to the floor. The feeling is familiar. You felt it once before when you went up in the Drop Zone at Wonderland. An odd thought at an inopportune time. You toss it aside, the coffee mug becomes a lifeline as you clutch it harder. You look at the somber faces and feel a blow to the gut. You know!

You know what’s next and your brain goes into a mad scramble, your heart feels the pressure and your mind is screaming; be calm, be calm, retain the upper hand. You don’t hear all the sounds, but you follow the motions and struggle to maintain protocol. You sit down, and an envelope/letter is presented to you. You force yourself to pay attention.

You are not a hyper person, not argumentative usually, just calm and professional. You can feel the sting of tears as you strive for control. Anger, sadness, regret and resignation flit through in quick succession. But the voices drone on as you bring your mind to the present.

termination-woman-1253485_1920Done – it’s over. The finality of the moment is unmistakable. You are out of this job. The moment feels surreal. Even though you are in a blurry haze, your mind is actually video-taping the whole incident and it will replay every agonizing detail minute by minute, over and over again at a later date. Believe me, you will go over everything in your head and will be astonished at the things you remember. Should I have said that? Why didn’t I say this? It’s okay. It is what it is and hindsight will always be 20/20.

You take the letter, get through the questions and answers and are ushered out. You can take your bag and belongings, pictures etc. Your Manager stands over you and you have 5, 10, 15 minutes to pack up. Mysteriously a box appears, you can take the things on your desk and the rest will be shipped later.

And then you walk out. Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? Could you have anticipated the layoff? Maybe, maybe not. It doesn’t matter anyway. The fact is, in today’s world we are more apt to go through a layoff, for any reason. A job for a lifetime went out of style a long time ago. The average person moves through a number of jobs and possibly careers in his/her life time.

So what should one be prepared to do? Reactions differ and emotions are unpredictable things. However, once you’re in this situation, your reaction is in your boat and you have the wheel. Take the wheel firmly and steer this boat to shore, gently.

Tips to handle a layoff (from an employee perspective):

  1. You’re in the office and are requested to be seated and the dreaded ‘layoff’ words are sounding off.
  2. Listen, hard to do, but this is one time when you just need to be quiet and really listen, or appear as if you are.
  3. Typically a letter is presented to you and your Manager and /or the HR Rep. will go through the details. The essentials of your severance should be in the letter.
  4. If you have been in the company for a while, or even if you haven’t, the letter should outline all the details about compensation and benefits.
  5. In addition, it should list the company’s and your responsibilities, including the timeline to discharge your obligations.
  6. Do pay attention, if you can 🙂 I say this light heartedly because if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you are relaxed, have the time to take it all in and are obviously not in the hot seat at this very moment!
  7. If you think you cannot respond to the company within the timeline stipulated, you may mention it now, but you don’t have to. Remember a timeline for a specific period is given so that you have the opportunity to consider (and consult others) the package given to you. And there should be sufficient time for a back and forth in communication.
  8. Your letter should give you a contact name and number that you can come back to.
  9. At this point, you probably have questions. It can’t hurt to voice them. But, I have to reiterate, this is a done deal and nothing you say can change it.
  10. Keeping this in mind, try and leave on a good note, with dignity and your head held high. There are many reasons for a layoff, but a job done well is something you can be proud of.

You’ve lost a job. But you still have your skills, knowledge, competencies and experience. You still have YOU! And the best part, you get to take it all. That’s the most important thing. And the next job or career is somewhere out there. But all in good time 🙂

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A professional resume is worth every penny!

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A good many years ago, if you’d asked me to pay someone to do my resume, I’d have looked at you with some bemusement and scoffed at the idea. I mean, I am reasonably educated, have a university degree, a good command of the English language and forking out $….. for something I could do myself. Ah, no!

Now in full disclosure I admit that I am in the HR business but I assure you this is not self-promotion. Just an honest discussion of a topic that came up when I met a friend for coffee recently and which really set me on a thinking spree.

Now my friend has been working in the IT field for a long time and has decided that he wants to move to project management. As we were parting ways, he casually mentioned that he had an appointment with a resume professional who agreed to do up his resume for $…..

I said my goodbyes and walked away in amazement. No, the money didn’t faze me, rather it was the fact that he wasn’t doing it himself. Why not? He was perfectly capable of doing his resume, but he still wanted to avail the services of a professional. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense, seeing it from his perspective. I knew this already 🙂

  • For one, it would be done a lot faster. No more procrastination.
  • It definitely would be professional and would take into account current resume trends and formats.
  • You have one chance to get noticed. Typically, a recruiter spends an average time of 5-7 seconds per resume. A well put-together resume makes all the difference and can be immediately noticed.
  • A resume writer has the experience and know-how to craft words together. They know what recruiters are looking for. Buzz words, key words – are important and specific to different occupations.

I didn’t check back with my friend, but the next time I came across him in Linked-in, I saw that he did get the position he wanted. So the new professionally done resume worked.

If you can do it, go for it – but don’t let a shoddy resume be the stumbling block in getting that next great position you are aiming for!

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Should I stay or should I go?

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I couldn’t resist using the title of the song by the English punk rock band, The Clash, from their album Combat Rock. It has a nice catchy ring to it and the song was the band’s only number-one single on the UK Singles Chart.

But I digress, to come back to the article, there comes a point in people’s careers when they ponder the question, should I stay or should I go? There are several scenarios but today we’ll focus on the ‘You want to stay in the same field, but are just looking for another company’.

This thinking doesn’t come overnight, it’s the little things that bug you, and you finally reach a point where you are seriously contemplating your next move. Little things like;

  • Feeling underappreciated. The pay doesn’t cut it anymore.
  • Benefits and perks are being cut.
  • You’re overworked. Too many multi-tasking events where prioritization just doesn’t work.
  • Your manager is a ……… and you can’t work with them anymore.
  • The job is too stressful.
  • Management just doesn’t understand! They are too restrictive.
  • Your colleagues aren’t helpful.

And the list goes go on and on. Suffice to say, when you reach this point, something has to give. Feeling this way is not conducive to your well-being.

Consider this before you head off in this direction.

  1. Make a list of the pros and cons of staying in your current job. This could include:
    • Timing – does the morning time still suit you. Do you stay too late?
    • Current compensation, benefits, vacation and perks. Will another job pay you more? Research the market for trends.
    • You might have to start all over again. Presently you may be the senior most employee. Does this matter to you?
    • You know everyone, you are comfortable. You’ve built up a reputation. In the new place you probably have to prove yourself. Are you okay with this?
  2. The cliché, the grass is not always green on the other side of the fence, still holds true. Ask yourself what would be different in the next job – refer to your pros and cons list.
  3. Are you just wanting to move because you’re bored? Or because truly, you don’t see any opportunity to grow? Is emotion getting in the way? Is the job impacting your health and well-being? Stack your reasons in the pros or cons columns.
  4. Do you need a new challenge? Is this not possible in the same job?
  5. Have you looked at the current company you are in? Can you move laterally or be promoted?
  6. Check the positions in the job market. Go on job sites, look at the ads. Talk to people in the field, do your homework.
  7. Write out ‘what if’ scenarios if you were to stay or go. Which alternative is acceptable to you, in keeping with your goals and objectives?
  8. At the end of the exercise, compare your reasons for moving or staying. If you have considered all options, you should be able to see a clear contrast that should assist you in your decision.
  9. Chalk out a clear plan of action including next steps. Map it all out. The more detail you put on paper, the better.

At the end of the day, you have to do the best thing for YOU. Make your choice and follow your plan.

Remember, as life happens, things may change, outcomes are never guaranteed. But if your choice is based on good reasoning you should be able to move forward, confident in the knowledge that you made the best decision given all the information available to you at the time.

Image courtesy David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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360 Degrees Profile of an HR Professional

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At the outset, let me say this is meant to be a lighthearted expose` of the consummate HR professional. Take it with a grain of salt! Any resemblance to the real thing may or may not be true :-). Sometimes it’s nice to step back from our ‘oh so serious selves’ and have some fun in the HR world. There are just too many things happening with people, people and more people…..

 

So here’s a 360 degrees profile of an HR professional.

The Good

  • It’s a terrific career. If you are a people person, the satisfaction you get from seeing a happy employee is tremendous, especially when you’ve just called someone with a job offer. Yay….
  • You can be an agent of real change through policies and programs you help to implement, within limitations of course.
  • You have power! You make decisions that impact people. You can influence people for the greater good.
  • Management likes you!
  • HR is a positive place to be.
  • Your day is never the same. Unexpected, unpredictable are adjectives that describe your job.

The Bad

  • People are unpredictable and you have to deal with some unpleasantness, especially when you are involved in disciplinary meetings, conflict resolution or terminations.
  • You can be underappreciated. Work and more work awaits you and some employees are just not appreciative of your efforts. People are never satisfied!
  • All that power can go to your head. You can become arrogant or smug. And the human resources department can be perceived as the ‘in-human department’.
  • Burn-out happens. You get tired of dealing with cranky employees.
  • You have to listen to everyone even if you are having a bad day!
  • HR people can be quite sceptical. You’ve seen it all and heard it all.

And the Ugly….

  • Employees tend to associate HR with unpleasant or unpopular decisions.
  • HR people are sometimes scapegoats for management decisions and can become the ‘hated’ department.

But…in spite of it all, I wouldn’t change my career for the world!

Image courtesy: sheelamohan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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A New Blog is born!

… and a new Human Resources Blog is born!

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