Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Just Flick Him Off Of Your Shoulder!

You know that little guy sitting on your shoulder whispering all sorts of negative stuff in your ear? Flick him off! Seriously. He's not doing you a lick of good. It frustrates me to no end when I meet someone more willing to embrace the opinion of an imaginary person than a seasoned professional. What gives this little guy so much power? Even if he knows some deep dark secret about you, it's not like he can hold it against you. He doesn't have a Twitter account at the ready where he can send the world messages of your short comings and obstacles. You're the only one who can hear him. The only way his view of you or your situation can be revealed to the rest of us is if you take his words to heart and allow them to come through in what you say and do.

I talk about this little guy with many of my clients. I can't see or hear him, but I know when someone is carrying him around. While discussing strategy, leery eyes stare back at me. The head twitches to the side to take in what he has to say. A quick rub of the shoulder hints to the weight of this little guy's negativity.

Be gone with him! Only you can make the choice. Others can help brush him off, but as long as you offer him safe harbor, their efforts won't be enough. Bring your index finger to your thumb and set him sailing. Then step on him. Splat! Uh-oh, I'd better stop. My violent side is emerging.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Job Seekers Missing In Action

As a resident of the state with highest level of unemployment in the nation, you'd think I'd be tripping over job seekers right and left. Not so. Except for my clients, who actively network with me, I rarely encounter the unemployed in business circles. It's astonishing to me how hard it can be to find a job seeker at times. The few who cross paths with me because of their own efforts to be seen by the business community stand out.

Where are the rest? Hiding in their cave of despair? At home waiting by the phone for the call that's unlikely to come? Surfing the net so they can apply to a job 500 other people have spotted as well?

For those looking for a job, I can't stress how important it is to be visible. It really shouldn't be a rarity for me to rub elbows with a job seeker at, say, a Chamber of Commerce event. I understand those on a limited budget do need to be strategic in how and where they get out. What concerns me is the number of people not getting out at all. If you are missing in action at business events, you are missing THE action when it comes to being in the loop of opportunity.

My challenge to those of you on the hunt for employment is to get out there. The business community wants to know who you are. They want to put a face on those looking for work. There is a desire to band together to find a path to solutions.

Job seekers frequently tell me they feel forgotten. It's a tough place to be, but you have to ask yourself if you are doing what it takes be remembered.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Cure For "Me-Me-Me" Cover Letters

Do you want to avoid your cover letter being more about you and less about your reader? I have an easy solution. As a rule, I encourage all of my clients to make sure the first thing the cover letter says is the name of the company they are writing. For example, "Smith & Sons is currently recruiting for a Director of Communications. The desired skills emphasized in your company's posting include blah, blah, and blah." By starting the letter that way, the focus is immediately on the reader's needs. Starting a letter with something like, "I saw your ad for a Director of Communications and would like to submit my resume for consideration," makes the letter more about the candidate's needs and increases the chances the rest of the letter will follow the "me-me-me" pattern.

Once you've started your letter with a focus on the company's objectives, it's easy to highlight the skills and abilities you have that satisfy the job's requirements while still making it about the reader. "My background in blah allowed me to develop and refine the skills Smith & Sons noted to be crucial for this opportunity." Go on to give a concise account of the skills/abilities you have that would be most relevant to the opportunity. Concise is the operative word. Be sure whatever you note either ties directly to the job posting or indicates a way you are able to improve the bottom line of the company (efficiency, cost savings, diversity of skill, growing/recapturing/retaining business).

All that is left to do is to close the letter in a confident and gracious way. Thank them for reviewing your resume, stress your interest in the opportunity and state you are looking forward to an interview where you can discuss, in greater depth, how your background compliments the position's requirements.

There is no written in stone way cover letters must be done, but I can tell you many of my clients have had great results by following this simple formula.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Greatest Man I Never Hired

John was one of those people you just fell in love with instantly. I'm not talking romantic love. His spirit, energy, warmth and humor made itself known immediately. Those drawn to vitality were easily pulled under his spell.

I first met John when he interviewed with me to be a recruiter on my team. Though I recognized how special he was as a person, I also saw how he was not a fit for the job I had available. All of John's strengths could not save him from his greatest weakness, the absence of a poker face. Every thought and emotion played itself out on John's face without restraint. In the world of third party recruiting, you encounter all sorts of unusual situations and need a reliable poker face to get you through those experiences without additional drama.

So, I did not hire John. When I gave him the news he did something that was so John. Without skipping a beat, he asked me to have lunch with him so we could figure out how to connect one another to more people. My verdict on him not being a fit for my company wasn't personal to him in the least. For those of you who are thinking he was making a move on me, think again. Without being too personal, I'll tell you a romantic lunch with me was the furthest thing from his mind. John felt a connection between the two of us and wasn't about to let the fact he wasn't right for my job kill any other chances we had to have a positive relationship.

The lunch John and I shared was the beginning of a fantastic friendship. It was a friendship that paid off for me in spades when I said goodbye to the company I'd been working for and struck out on my own. John referred my first corporate client to me. He was my cheerleader in so many ways. In return, I found ways to help him with his dreams and goals too. I was the sounding board when he had an unreasonable mortgage client and the strategist filling his brain with different ways to market himself.

I learned this week that John passed away. Sadly, we'd lost touch several years ago and I chalked it up to John no longer being interested in maintaining a friendship long distance. How stupid for me to think that. Just as I tell all of you not to jump to negative conclusions over someone else not following up with you, I should have heeded my own advice and realized that was so far from John's true character. He wasn't ignoring my emails. They were going unread by a friend who'd made his mark on this world and left it a better place.

To honor his memory, I wanted to share a piece of John Solis with you. That was his real name. In my heart, I know he'd of been tickled to be a part of helping others in their job search. Follow John's lead and don't let rejection distract you from life's possibilities. Show your interest in people even when things don't go your way. Realize there is more to a person than what you may see when sitting across their desk. Always ask yourself what potential is out there still unrealized.

I love you, John. You are missed and I feel immensely honored to have been on the receiving end of the light you brought to this world in your life. Rest, my friend. I won't say "in peace" because peace bored you to tears.