Signs You May Get Fired Soon

Many of our clients who have been fired say they were totally blindsided. But as they looked back, they realized they shouldn’t have been. The signs were there …

Need Assistance To Avoid This Problem? Let’s talk.  (847) 673-0339

 

Six Ways College Grads Botch Job Searches

It was so exciting to see your child walk across the stage wearing a cap and gown, but months have gone by and he/she is still looking for a decent job. What’s going on?

Former clients have sent us their recent college grads for help with jump-starting their careers. After all, some universities don’t provide much help to graduates transition to the work world. 

These are a few of the mistakes we’ve seen from the grads we’ve talked to.

1) Lack of Clarity About Their Skills and Contributions.  
I’ve seen many grads who have managed to make outstanding college years look dull and listless. 

Randy’s Resume Focused on the Wrong Things
“Randy” from Winnetka wrote much more about his job waiting tables at a pizza joint than he did about his outstanding work mobilizing students. When legislation detrimental to students was introduced in the statehouse, Randy acted like Paul Revere. He alerted everyone he knew and used social media to orchestrate a lobbying campaign that took the legislature by surprise. Legislators were impressed with the huge response from students, and the bill didn’t make it out of committee.  

Sarah Learned Not to Brag
Humility was a virtue at her home when Sarah was growing up. But it didn’t serve her well when she moved back home to Wilmette and started looking for work. She chose not to put her 4.0 GPA and her membership in a prestigious academic sorority on her resume because she thought that would look boastful. She never thought to mention the in-depth research she did for one of her professors—for which she received accolades.

Employers didn’t realize how good Randy and Sarah were. Consequently, they were hired into jobs that were beneath their abilities. Randy got fired because he was so bored. Sarah put up with it, but she’s wasn’t going to get a promotion. She showed little enthusiasm. 

2) Confusion About How the Job Market Works
“Ryan” returned home to Kenilworth eager to start his job search. He believed what many people do: hiring gets done to fill openings and vacancies. Consequently, he spent his time looking at the job openings listed online.

Of course, the truth is that hiring decision makers bring in talent because they want to get ahead in their own careers. They do  about the company, but they also want to look good, get noticed, and be seen as someone who can take on bigger responsibilities and deserves a raise. Sometimes, they are filling an opening, but often they are not.

We taught Ryan how to communicate about his experience in terms the boss wants to hear: cutting costs, creating efficiency, keeping customers satisfied, and getting favorable social media attention.

3) No clear goals
“Sandra” wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. She knew that she liked certain classes, but wasn’t sure what jobs would fit with her interests. She had some conversations with her parents’ friends in Glenview, but the conversations were unfocused and frustrating for both her and the friends.

4) No marketing plan
Even if she’d had a focus, “Sandra” had no marketing plan. She didn’t know what kinds of people she’d want to work for, how to reach them, or what to say to them. So, like Ryan, she spent her job hunting time sending resumes to online postings. She said it was much easier than going out and talking to people. That may be, but the easy way is not always effective.

We helped her to develop and execute a plan that got her in to speak directly to the hiring decision makers–and it wasn’t nearly as stressful as she’d feared.

5) Letting Their Networks Wither and Die 
“Randy” attended school close to his Glencoe home, at Northwestern University. He developed solid relationships with his professors, supervisors, alumni of his fraternity, and people he’d interfaced with in his internships and volunteer experience. Plus, he knew a lot of his parents’ friends. Many of these people would have been more than happy to help him in his search and to expand his network. He didn’t talk to any of the people because he felt like he would be “using them.” He had chosen to go it alone—with very negative results. Instead of building a vital network, he was letting his wither and die.

6) Neglecting LinkedIn
“Sam” loved social media, and he was really good at it. But he didn’t pay much attention to LinkedIn. He went through the motions of setting up a profile. He uploaded a (bad) picture of himself, wrote an uninspiring headline, didn’t bother to create a summary section, and only listed position, company, and dates in the experience section. Further, he wasn’t using it as a tool to find people in companies in which he wanted to work.

By addressing these issues (and some others), these grads transformed their searches and laid the foundation for a successful career.

Finding it painful to see your grad struggling? Let’s talk.  847 673 0339

 

Age Discrimination in Hiring: Are You Making It Worse?

These days, age discrimination is rampant. Many successful executives struggle to find decent jobs. While age discrimination is very real, many times, older executives can make the problem much worse than it has to be. They neglect job search fundamentals.

How about you? Are you doing the fundamentals right?  For some of you, this article might seem elementary. But we see seasoned executives neglecting these fundamentals all the time. 


Focusing on Online Job Postings

A lot of people spend countless
hours responding to online job postings because it’s easier than getting out in
the trenches and networking.  

Given that many employers
are screening out older workers, it makes sense to use the best strategy and
tactics to overcome this. Studies repeatedly show that most people get their
jobs from personal connections. So, go with the percentages. Spend 80-90% of
job search time in a person-to-person campaign.

In-person meetings provide better opportunities to make a case for yourself-and to discuss how you produce more value than a younger worker does. 

Retched Resume
A woman from Winnetka complained that she had applied to over 100 jobs online without a single interview. She was indignant about the age discrimination she was experiencing.

But chances are that no one was discriminating against her. She was applying for the same job that dozens (or maybe hundreds) of others were seeking. Her resume didn’t have the “right stuff” to be found by the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), the software that many employers use to screen resumes. It was likely that no human being ever saw her resume.

The ATS pulled out
several candidates who were interviewed; the rest languished in the “dungeon”
of the company database.

Her resume was the unremarkable kind we often see. No accomplishments. Lots of trite phrases and job hunting jargon. Old fashioned format. No attention to keywords and other ATS issues. Should the ATS ever find this resume, it would not get even a second glance from an employer.

Lifeless LinkedIn profiles
“Joe,” a CFO from Highland Park, committed the job hunting “sin” that is common with people of all ages. He didn’t take advantage of LinkedIn as a marketing tool. Some don’t have a profile at all. Others have nothing more than their titles, companies, and dates of employment. Still others have written more, but their copy is dull and lifeless. They say they are “problem solvers,” just like millions of others. They top it off with a poor-quality photo, don’t ask for recommendations, and don’t pay any attention to keywords. It all adds up to a lost opportunity to advance the job search.

Inarticulate Verbal Presentation
Can you tell a networking contact or an employer how you provide value for a company? No? That’s going to hurt you.

Why would anyone refer you to a trusted associate if you’re not able to do this? Or if you can’t clearly describe your accomplishments — that’s a problem. Employers crave candidates who can make them feel confident that their problems are solved.

Inept Networking
You’ve been around the block a few times and understand that networking is the key to getting hired, but somehow, your networking isn’t getting you anywhere. 

It’s critical to have a
marketing plan. Do you know which companies you’d like to work for? Do you know
who at those companies you need to talk to get hired? Do you have a plan for
getting in to talk to those people? Supposing you do get into their offices, do
you know what you will say to them?

One key part of making a good impression is treating networking like a two-way street. Think about what you can do for the other person, either now or in the future.

What ARE you wearing?
That suit served you well twelve years ago, but these days, it’s looking a bit frumpy. That tie … sure, you like it, but no one is wearing those any more. Women: same theme, different details.

Be sure you look sharp and up to date. Think about this at networking meetings as well. We are living in times when casual dress is much more acceptable, but don’t get too casual. Be sure you make a good impression when you go out in public.

Neglecting the details can kill you. A while ago, I met with a client from Kenilworth to prep him just before his job interview. He looked great. The suit, the shirt, the tie all worked. But he smelled! His suit had been in storage and it just reeked. His sense of smell wasn’t the best, so he hadn’t noticed. I sent him rushing home to change.

BIG Interview, No
Preparation

One of our clients had a big interview coming up with a company in Evanston. When we suggested that she prepare, she said, “I’m good at interviewing. I don’t need to prepare for the interview coming up in a couple of days.” Yes, you do!

Age discrimination is real, so don’t compound the problem by neglecting sound job search fundamentals.

Want to find out if the fundamentals are killing your search–and how to fix them? Call us at 847-673-0339


Is Depression Beating Your Job Search Down?

Depression can kill your job search—and it can kill you.

When you’re out of work you need to do all you can to get on top of depression and keep it from hurting you and those you love.

Toxic Isolation

A lot of people react to depression by falling into toxic isolation. A while ago, one of our clients dropped out of contact. We had no response to emails and voicemails, and we grew very concerned. When he finally called, he admitted that most days he was too depressed to get out of bed, for what felt like forever.

Depression is different from the blues we all feel at one time or another. It can interfere with your ability to work, read, eat, sleep, and have fun. Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting. Many describe it as feeling like there’s no way out of a dark tunnel. They can’t see a light at the end.

Constant rejection

It’s not surprising that unemployed people get depressed. Until you get that offer, there is one rejection after another, leading to crushing negativity. Without occasional positive feedback, it’s hard to put one foot in front of the other. Money issues create stress, and tension with spouses and kids.

Worse, one of the first things people ask when they meet us is “What do you do?” Who wants to admit, “Uh…I’m out of work at this point”? So it’s easier to stay home alone.

So what do you do to ward off depression—or climb out?

Be effective

First, let’s address the root of the depression – your unemployment. Unfortunately, for those lucky enough to have been out of the job market for many years, re-entering it and finding how the rules of the game have changed is a rude awakening.  Make sure that you are doing the right things to get hired.

Don’t waste time

Many people spend most of their time on the least effective activities, like job boards. Polish your personal presentation: how you dress, your resume, an updated LinkedIn profile and other marketing materials and that depict you powerfully. Thus, you will improve your first impression while adding efficiency.

Remember, job hunting is like boxing. If you don’t do it well, you get beaten up. If you’re spinning your wheels, call a career coach. If you feel you can’t fit it in your budget, do an internet search for free career counseling services in your community. Being ineffective will, in the long run, cost you dearly.

We are what we eat

To maximize energy and a sense of well-being, cut down on red meat and unhealthy fats, and replace them with vegetables, fruits and nuts. Watch out for “sneaky depressants” like caffeine, sugar/sugar substitutes, and alcohol; sure, there’s an initial boost or jolt, but the aftereffect is a sense of letdown. Ultimately, you will experience an uplifting transformation that carries over to your entire life and relationships.

Watch what you put in your mind

Resist turning into a TV zombie. While it’s good to keep a finger on the pulse of major news, avoid the “downers” that many news program churn out. Studies have shown that a daily bombardment of every fire, rape or murder that happened in your city actually weakens your immune system, and common sense says it brings your spirits down. Read or listen to inspirational books and recordings, and be selective about newspapers and magazines.

Volunteer

Find a place to contribute. Keep your skills sharp, be around other people, and get that satisfaction of a job well done that you don’t experience when you’re out of work. And here’s a helpful hint: you may be surprised to find out that when volunteer work is a good match, paid jobs often grow out of it.

Develop a cocoon of positive people around you

Spend time with upbeat friends, join a support group, and network with others. Stay away from negative people who swamp you with naysaying and whining. There’s no shortage of people who will continually complain about everything from the job market to the weather; you can’t afford to be around them.

Get out of the house 

Every day, get out of the house. Enjoy nature and spend time with other human beings. You can’t rise above depression by sitting around the house all day.

Work out

Being sedentary isn’t good for your body or your mind. On a daily basis, pick an activity you enjoy, e.g. bike riding, the gym, long walks, a sport, etc. and go do it. Think of benefits: looking and feeling more energetic, sleeping better, potential weight loss and more. Also, vigorous exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, powerful neurotransmitters that resemble opiates in their abilities to produce a feeling of well-being. Yes, the “runners’ high” is real!

Consult a professional 

Talking with a counselor can do wonders to lift your spirits. Further, some people greatly benefit from anti-depressants. They’re not for everyone, but they have helped a lot of people to kick a debilitating depression.

In summary, keep your spirits up and keep in action. Best of luck to you–and call us if you’d like to discuss your career/job search:  847-673-0339.

Age Discrimination: Getting Hired When You’re “Too Old”

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Many employers have a lot of opinions and stereotypes about older workers. They think:

  • They are over the hill
  • They cost too much
  • Their skills are out of date
  • They can’t work with younger workers
  • They won’t take direction from less-experienced bosses

No one wants to hire me–I’m too old

 

I run into a lot of older workers who have been out of work for a long time: six months, a year, two years, and more. Many have given up, though they’re still technically in the hunt. A lot of them feel bitter. I often hear them say, “No one wants people over fifty anymore.”

So what can you do to make sure that you’re not one of those who languish in long-term unemployment?

1,  Be sure you’re handling the fundamentals well

Many of the long-term unemployed aren’t running very good job campaigns. Their resumes are mediocre—or worse, they don’t have a credible LinkedIn presence, they don’t speak about themselves well, and they don’t have a solid marketing plan. Sitting at home in front of the computer sending out bad resumes all day is highly unlikely to get you hired.

This might get you calls for commission-only sales jobs or multi-level marketing schemes, but not good jobs.

I recently worked with an over-fifty client who had been laid off after working for the same company for over 18 years. Since then, she had been out of work for nine months, despite her impressive credentials and solid track record. But she didn’t know how to sell herself. For years, she’d kept her nose to the grindstone and did great work, but never tooted her horn. She didn’t have to because everyone at work knew how good she was. But when the company let her go, that changed. She had to sell herself.

After I helped her upgrade her marketing materials and self-presentation and develop a solid marketing plan, she quickly got hired – and avoided the stigma of “long-term unemployed.”

2.  Be sure your skills are up to date

It’s hard to compete if your skills aren’t current. Get training if you need it, so you’ll have the “right stuff” employers want. Low on cash? A lot of excellent training is available free or very inexpensively. If you’re near a community college, they may have affordable courses in what you need. Your local community center or public library may have free courses, and there is a lot of good material online. Just one excellent online resource is Lynda.com, with many offerings in software training and more. You can access it for a low monthly fee – or check with your public library. My local library gives cardholders free access to Lynda.com, and you can even access it from your home computer.

3. Address the technology issue 

Let them know that you’re not a “dinosaur” and you know something about technology. If you’re on social media, put your social media links on your resume. Likewise, be sure your command of technology is visible on your resume. Many younger hiring decision makers prefer texting, so communicating with them this way shows you know how to do it. You might take a tablet with you to the interview. You don’t even have to open it; just have it with you. Borrow one if you don’t own one. You may want to confront this issue proactively in job interviews.

4. Use a job interview strategy that works: Look for “pain”

It’s not good enough to handle job interviews like everyone else. If you do, the boss may think, “Why should I hire this expensive guy/woman (meaning YOU) when I could hire that college grad I met with yesterday for cheap?”

It is important to do what good sales reps do. They know that people usually don’t buy unless they are in some kind of pain. People might say, “My car works just fine. I don’t need a new one.” But if that sales rep asks good probing questions, they may uncover some pain. The sales rep might find out that the prospect:

  • Was very embarrassed when she couldn’t attend a party at a friend’s house because her car broke down.
  • Lives next to a family that just got a new sports car–and HATES being shown up by this neighbor.
  • Wants to visit family, but doesn’t trust the car on a long trip.

Aha! PAIN! Now there may be room for a sale!

So act like a good sales rep. Probe to find the employer’s pain. They’re not hiring just because there’s an opening. The pain may look like this:

  • The Public Relations Department is in hot water for bungling a sensitive call from a major newspaper. It made the company appear clueless, and the company president is LIVID.
  • An ace project manager is moving to Alaska, and the boss is worried about all those upcoming critical deliverables.
  • Sales are down and the boss is under the gun to turn things around-FAST.

After uncovering the boss’s pain, you can talk about how you’ve solved similar problems in the past and how your experience and talent will make an impact far beyond what recent college grads can do.

You’ve been around the block a few times, and have deep knowledge of how things work. Your database “cup” of useful contacts runneth over. You’ve demonstrated that you can be cool under fire and fix disasters. You’ve got good judgement. Plus, unlike the 20-somethings who often change jobs every couple of years, you’re a stable kind of person whom the boss can count on to stay around for a while.

5. Convince the boss that you can work with younger people

The boss may very well be wary of you, concerned that you’re not going to take direction. She may think you’re going to be another arrogant SOB, like the last older guy she interviewed who didn’t want to take orders from a younger person – especially not a woman.

Smile at the boss and put her at ease. Reassure her that you enjoy working with younger people and the great synergy that comes from teams composed of workers from different generations. If it’s true, you might say that you’ve done the high-level, high-stress jobs like hers, and at this point, you’re content to work under her.

Be sure to have a conversation with her about what you can do to make her look like a superstar.

Is it time to take control of your career? Let’s have a no-obligation conversation about your situation. Don’t procrastinate, call today at  847 673 0339. 

Remember, though age discrimination presents a tough challenge, people can – and DO – overcome it and finish their careers doing satisfying, well-paid work. According to an AP-LifeGoesStrong.com poll of baby boomers, 61 percent surveyed said their age is not an issue at work; 25 percent called it an asset.

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