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Category Archives: Tips for the Job Hunt

job hunt while working current job

It’s a common story. You desperately want a new job, but because of financial constraints, you’re unable to quit your current one and start searching. What do you do?

The simple answer is, of course, you have to search for a new job while you’re still working your current one. But that isn’t always easy. How do you balance your time between everyday work and job hunting? How do you field calls from potential employers? Or dash out for an interview? How do you maintain a positive attitude and a good work ethic, even when you want to get the heck outta dodge?

Great questions! Here are 5 tips for effectively job hunting while working your current job:

1. Respect your current job (and company)

First and foremost, don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re still employed by your current company. That means you still have to do your work and do it to the best of your ability. It also means that you should limit job hunting to your lunch break or to times when you’re not at work (before work, after work, on weekends). Consider taking a day off every now and then and dedicate it to job hunting.

REMEMBER: A future potential employer may call your current boss down the road. You don’t want to be remembered as a slacker!

ALSO REMEMBER: Every skill you build in your current position can only help you in the job hunt. Use that as motivation as you plow forward!

2. Set deadlines for yourself

Make goals and commit to achieving them. You might want to apply for a certain number of jobs each week or set aside an hour each day for job searching/applying.

3. Invest in your future

Job hunting may seem overwhelming, especially if you haven’t done it in a while. Think about taking an online course in effect job hunting, or enlist the help of a career coach. Career coaches, such as myself, specialize in résumé editing, cover letter writing, job search tactics, and interviewing best practices. Your job hunt doesn’t have to be a solo endeavor!

4. Set boundaries

When applying for jobs, make your availability clear. Let recruiters know that you will only take a call outside of normal working hours (or during your lunch break). If you have a separate home phone, give the recruiter that number.

And emails? Reply to any job hunt-related emails during lunch or during a designated break. Otherwise, reply after work. Most recruiters understand job applicants’ constraints and it is acceptable to let recruiters know that you’d like to remain discreet.

One other thing related to setting boundaries: Try not to get your coworkers involved. While it may be tempting to tell others about your job hunt, be careful who you divulge information to. Office gossip can spread quickly!

5. Network with care

If you attend a job fair, you run the risk of bumping into someone you know. If you update your LinkedIn profile to say “Seeking a new position,” you really run the risk of being exposed. What to do?

According to Liz Ryan of Forbes magazine, “Your best bet as a stealth job seeker is to network one-on-one with people you already know, and to allow or encourage the folks you already know to introduce you to other people — friends and colleagues of theirs.” Personal references are one of the best ways to find a new job, rather than taking your chances at a job fair.

 

Remember to be tactful, respect your current job, and set a regular job-hunting schedule. And don’t let your search distract you from doing the best work you can do right now. Best of luck with your hunt!

Do you have other questions about job hunting while still working your current job? Please post them in the comments section below or, if you’d like to remain confidential, please feel free to contact me.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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woman-1703834_1280

Hunting for and landing a job seems more complicated now than ever before. Most people hunt online for potential openings and therefore have to compete with, essentially, the entire world. It’s tough to stand out from the crowd with impersonal, uniformed job applications. Many online forms leave no room for creativity and, with many HR departments overwhelmed by the number of applicants, something as trivial as a certificate of completion or the college you attended can either make or break you.

How do you cut through the noise?

One of the solutions is to make the job hunt personal again. Here are four ways to do that:

1. Pick up the phone

The phone, you say? Like, an actual call?

Absolutely. With email and messaging, we’ve begun to develop a phobia of talking over the phone. Your phone call to an HR recruiter could make a huge difference. Just be sure to plan out what you’re going to say and put your best self forward. Don’t sound too “salesy;” be your wonderful, genuine self.

And don’t forget to have a purpose for the call. If you have a specific question, that’s a great reason to pick up the phone.

2. Tailor your resume to the position

You’re more likely to get noticed if your resume is tailored to fit the position for which you are applying. There is nothing wrong with highlighting certain parts of your experience, as long as the information is true. If you’re interested in a job and think it would be an excellent fit, take the extra time to refocus your resume around relevant areas of experience.

3. Find a referral

Most people now have a vast network of connections through social media. Use it! If a friend or acquaintance works at a company that you’d like to apply to, don’t be afraid to ask for a referral. A personal recommendation can go a long way and most HR professionals don’t mind getting them (personal recs can actually make the hiring process a little easier!).

Even if you don’t have any direct connections to an organization, you may have a secondary connection. You can see your secondary (or tertiary) connections on LinkedIn and ask a primary connection to introduce you to a secondary connection. This may seem like a stretch, but the generosity of others never ceases to amaze me.

4. Schedule an informational meeting

If you’re trying to break into a new industry, or would like to make a switch to a radically different company, consider setting up an informational meeting. Even if your company of choice isn’t currently hiring, reach out and see if someone will meet with you over a cup of coffee or lunch. Once you have the meeting arranged, be sure to prepare a list of thoughtful questions. Ask about the company, their mission, a typical work day, the ideal skill set someone in your dream position needs, etc.

Even if your meeting doesn’t lead to something right away, it may help your dream company keep you top-of-mind when they are looking to hire. OR, if nothing else, you will have gained some valuable information about a company and/or position that you idolize.

 

Set yourself apart by making the job hunt personal! Even in our age of technology, the hiring process is still very much built on human connections.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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2 Minute Power Boost Amy Cuddy

Social scientist Amy Cuddy studies nonverbal communication and how it relates to power. Through her research, she’s discovered some pretty incredible things about power dynamics, nonverbal signals, and how we can actually modify our mentality through physical actions.

Just like in the animal kingdom, humans puff up their chests and make themselves “big” if they perceive themselves to be in a position of power. On the flip side, people shrink down, hug their arms to their bodies, and lower their heads if they are feeling weak and vulnerable.

When we see someone posed in a “power position” or in a position of weakness, our brains automatically react. We are drawn to enthusiasm, confidence, and ease. From political candidates to doctors, we tend to gravitate toward displays of power.

But what if you don’t FEEL powerful? What if you doubt your abilities and lack self-confidence? Let your body language change your mind.

In Amy Cuddy’s studies, she has found that people who assume a power pose (opened chest, relaxed, arms wide) for as little as two minutes have higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of cortisol, which translates to more confidence and less stress. These people are able to cope with high-stress situations, such as a job interview, and are usually well-liked by others.

When you take on a power pose, something uncanny happens in the brain—it begins to believe that you are powerful.

When people question the authenticity of “faking it ‘til you make it,” Cuddy responds that she prefers the statement, “Fake it ‘til you become it.” The more frequently you tweak your nonverbals to indicate power and self-assurance, the more you’ll believe in that power. Eventually, you won’t have to fake it at all. You’ll elevate your confidence and approach situations with more comfort and poise than you used to.

Try assuming a power pose for two minutes the next time you are about to face a high-stress situation. It IS possible for your physical actions to change your brain!

 

To watch Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk, please click below:

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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5 Minutes to a Better Cover Letter2If you’re on the hunt for a new job, you’re probably well-aware of the importance of a compelling cover letter. It’s how you can stand out from the crowd, how you can demonstrate a slice of your personality that you really can’t convey in your résumé. It’s also a great way to take a deeper dive into some of your past experiences and really highlight your accomplishments.

How do you write a cover letter that gets noticed? Seems like a daunting task, right?

It doesn’t have to be. I’ve laid out several simple pointers below that will guide you through the cover letter writing process and help you create something that is polished and memorable.

Remember: Cover letters are not just a repeat of your resume—viewing them as such will put you at a serious disadvantage.

Cover Letter Basics:

  • Name, address, and date at the top of the letter
  • Cover letter addressed to a specific person if possible. If individual unknown, send letter to the title of recipient (Production Manager, Technical Director, Human Resources, etc.)
  • State your interest in the position
  • Make note of special skills that qualify you for the job
  • Provide contact info and a time you can be reached
  • Thank the contact and close with “Sincerely”
  • Always ask someone else to proofread your letter and resume—don’t miss simple grammatical errors!
  • Sign your letter with either blue or black ink, NO EXCEPTIONS
  • Be concise and to the point (no cutesy statements or overbearing comments)
  • Use the same paper as your resume
  • Avoid using “I” too often or repeating the same words

Beyond the Basics:

  • Focus on two (or, at the max, three) major accomplishments in your career and really dive into them
  • Use concrete facts whenever possible. For example:
    • I saved XYZ Company $3.5 million dollars in their annual budget by…
    • During my time at ABC Inc., I trained over 200 people in…
    • I helped Company X grow by 4% through my….
    • I was the top salesperson at ABC, Inc., selling $$ annually
  • Let your authentic voice come through, but don’t sound too casual. It’s a fine line to ride and you may need a friend to weigh in.
  • Do your homework. Understand the company’s values and what they’re looking for in a new employee and make sure you highlight those parts of your experience.

Interested in learning more about creating an effective cover letter or interested in consulting a professional to ensure that you land that next job opening? Contact Me Today to learn about career coaching and UXL’s public workshops!

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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Margaret Smith Career Coach

I’ve worked with several people over the years who have told me they were hesitant, at first, to seek out a career coach. Some weren’t sure if it was really for them (only people who are desperate need a coach, right?). Others weren’t certain that they would feel comfortable discussing their dreams and fears with a coach. Still others had trouble admitting that they were feeling stuck (I can pull through this on my own!).

It’s true that not everyone needs a career coach. If you’re perfectly happy in your occupation, have a solid 5 year plan, and have your retirement plans all figured out, then you’re probably fine. The majority of us, however, aren’t quite so lucky.

Whether you’re struggling with something specific (a particular project, a troublesome co-worker, or an overbearing or inattentive boss) or a bigger-picture issue (figuring out your career path, working toward a raise or promotion, transitioning into a new career), it’s a good idea to enlist some help.

That’s where a career coach comes in.  Kathy Caprino is a career coach and author of “Breakdown, Breakthrough: The Professional Woman’s Guide to Claiming a Life of Passion, Power, and Purpose.” She says, “You know you need outside help from a career coach when you’re stuck in any phase of the pipeline of bettering your career or changing it.” Exactly. When you’re feeling caught and don’t know how to proceed, it’s best not to slog forward and hope for the best. Have the courage to reach out and contact a professional.

Another piece of great advice comes from career coach Nancy Collamer. She suggests that it’s best to hire a coach before a “kind of bad” situation turns into an all-out tsunami. She says, “I believe that the best time to begin using a career coach is before you need one. I realize that’s not always possible (you could get blindsided by a layoff), but most career issues brew for a long time before boiling over. So it’s best not to wait until you are in full crisis mode before seeking help.”

A good coach resembles a mentor. There are several areas a capable career coach can help with:

  • Defining goals and creating an action plan to achieve them.
  • Job search, résumé, and interview prep
  • Working through significant career transitions
  • Developing confidence, competence, and promotion-worthy skills
  • Building leadership attributes
  • Planning for the next phase of your career (or retirement)
  • Creating a personalized plan for success

If you’re wondering if a career coach is right for you, let’s talk. You might be amazed by what a little guidance can do for your career.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Have you ever considered sending your resume to a company that wasn’t hiring? Or applying for a position that didn’t have any current openings? It may sound crazy, or even like a waste of time, but applying for your dream position—whether it exists or not—shows courage that other job-seekers don’t have. When taking the initiative to send an unsolicited resume, you convey the message that you’re not just looking for a job and a paycheck, but rather a career with a company that excites and interests you. If you take this plunge, here are a few things to know…

Use the Element of Surprise to Your Advantage

Your email to the company’s HR department or recruiter should explain why you’re contacting them, what you know about the company, and how you would fit into their current operation. Research the company and learn about their strengths and potential challenges they face. Show them how your skills and experience could remedy, or even prevent, future issues. For those reviewing resumes, seeing something like this can be a refreshing and welcomed surprise, and that can create a lasting impression.

Don’t Hold Your Breath, But Do Cross Your Fingers

When you invest your time and energy into submitting an unsolicited resume, know that you may not receive a response right away, if at all. Don’t take it personally. If the company has current job openings that you aren’t applying for, recruiters or hiring committees must fill those positions first. Follow up a few weeks later, but don’t be too discouraged if nothing comes of it.

When you submit your resume, send it to a real person, not just the generic catch-all email for the company. Don’t be afraid to drop off or mail a copy of your resume, too. Call their office to follow up. Since it’s so easy to email your resume without much thought, you can distinguish yourself by putting your face or voice to the name they see.

Think of This as an Investment in Your Future

When a job opening does occur, that recruiter may have a spark of recognition when they see your name among the other applicants. Better yet, he or she may contact you to let you know that a position is opening up. Perhaps you may be considered to take on some freelance work or they may contact you down the line for a job your talents are more aligned with.

In the end, putting your name out there and trying to make new connections is not going to hurt.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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Colleagues Applauding Senior Businessman

Since we spent the last month talking about Millennials, I thought it was time to flip the coin and address a topic that exclusively effects those in the Baby Boomer generation. (I’m also gathering information about Boomers in the workplace, so if you’d like to participate in my survey, please do so!)

So, you’re 45, 55, or 65 years old and looking for work? Don’t let all the younger faces in the workforce intimidate you or make you feel unworthy of nailing your dream job (it’s never too late!). Instead, freshen up your strategy and approach the job hunt and interview process with optimism and vigor.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of some helpful reminders for the older worker’s job hunt that will help you keep your best foot forward at all times:

> Never forget what you’re worth: Older workers are dependable, have advanced problem-solving abilities, and are just as productive as younger workers

>Stay enthusiastic and excited: No matter what your age, if you come off as exhausted, bored, resentful, or frustrated, you’ll give interviewers a bad impression

> Keep your exchange respectful, no matter your age difference

> Offer examples of your work that demonstrate your creativity

> Emphasize your past loyalty to your company

> Edit your resume: Avoid the “too old” impression by limiting your relevant experience to the past 15 years, excluding graduation dates, and paring down your list of employment experience by saying “5+ years” instead of “30 years.\”

> Share examples of your ability to learn quickly

> Take advantage of your expansive network—it’s still the best way to find work

> Keep all mentioned accomplishments current

> Make sure your dress is up to date, instead of dating you

> Avoid feelings of defeat or apology for your age—this is not a topic that should be on the table during an interview, nor is it relevant to the conversation

> Don’t limit your job search to exactly what you were doing before—consider a career change, why not?

> Don’t mention upcoming retirement hopes

> Stay current with new technology

If you’d like help relaying your skills, interviewing, and branding yourself during the job process, contact me today to learn how I can help.

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