What I learned about job searching from LOST

I admit it – I’m a “LOSTIE”.  A friend suggested I rent the first season after it was over and I did.  I was hooked.  I’ve watched every show since and have never been disappointed.  If you’re a fellow LOSTIE you know what I mean.  If you haven’t watched it you probably know someone who has.  I don’t like to promote too much TV watching because there’s much better things to do with your time.  But LOST is worth the time.

For those who are familiar with the show you’ll be able to relate to a lot of this post.  For those who don’t watch the show some of this might not make as much sense, but I think you’ll still get the general message.

LOST starts with a plane crashing onto an island that turns out to be much more than your typical island.  Gilligan wouldn’t have lasted 3 episodes – he would have been eaten by the polar bear in episode 2.  Which leads me to the first thing I learned about job hunting from LOST.  When your career plane crashes you need to keep your wits about you and look to other people who can support you and help you survive.  A job search is not something you can do solo.  Like Jack said in the first season “We either learn to work together or we die alone”.

The second thing I learned within the first few episodes is if you plan on sitting on the beach waiting for rescue you’re going to die.  That means you have to go out into the jungle, with all it’s dangers, and get water.  When you find yourself with a pink slip your new full time job is to find a job.  That means you are going to be getting out of your comfort zone to call people you don’t know and ask for help.  You’re going to run into roadblocks.  You’re going to feel angry sometimes, you’re going to lose hope at times, you’re going to wonder if it will ever end at times.  That’s the jungle.  You need to get comfortable with those emotions, you’re going to need to learn they’re natural and not let them defeat you.  The only way to survive in the “job search jungle” is to know that there’s eventually going to be a rescue.  Its up to you as to when that rescue comes.

As LOST progressed there were many, many twists and turns in the plot.  It left LOSTIES with a lot of questions.  We speculate a lot on what is going on.  During a job search there are TONS of twists and turns.  There is no linear element to finding a job anymore.  You have to flip every switch, turn over every rock and ride every wave to be successful.  You will speculate about why you’re not getting any action.  You might think it’s your resume.  You might think it’s your age.  You might think it’s how you interview.  The truth is you don’t know.  All you can do is continue to persevere.

The cliffhanger last season was Juliette hitting a nuclear bomb that was supposed to “reset” the time / space gap that brought Flight 815 to the island in the first place.  This season opened with a bombshell – it worked.  And it didn’t work.  The plane made it without crashing, but the characters on the island are still on the island.  So there’s two Jacks, two Sayids, two Kates, etc…  One with knowledge of what happened over the past 5 seasons still stuck on the island and one that flys over the island with no incident and lands as expected at LAX.  There is no “reset” button to change your past.  But there is a “reset” that can change your future.  Today is the first day of the rest of your life – you have a choice to fly over the island and get on with life or you can stick around on the island and the The Others take you hostage.

Finally there’s something that you can learn from LOST that will help you network.  I’ve talked about how important small talk is early in a relationship.  LOSTIES love talking about LOST.  If you’ve been into the show over the past 5 seasons ask your new networking partner what their favorite TV show is.  If they say LOST you probably have at least 20 minutes of relationship building time ahead of you.

See, island John Locke is dead.  But LA John Locke is alive and still in a wheelchair.  Jack offered to give him a free consult in the lost bags area while waiting for his father’s coffin.  And the other island John Locke is really an entity of some sort parading around using his image who also happens to be the smoke monster.   I think Ben’s time of ruling that island are over.  Then there’s a hippy in the temple.  It’s going to be a great season…

What's in a Name?

What’s the secret to real estate?  Location, location, location.  What’s the secret to a successful job search?  Networking, networking, networking.  Even if you’re not looking for a job you should ALWAYS be networking.  You never know when someone is going to need your expertise.

Do you look at networking as a group activity?  You attend Chamber events, job clubs, participate in professional associations, and hit the monthly meeting of the Kansas City Online Community.  I know a lot of people who keep themselves busy 3-4 nights a week with these activities.  And there’s no doubt this is an important piece of the networking puzzle.

But networking does not stop there.  Networking is not just going to where people are gathered to meet someone new.  Actually I think the most significant networking you can do is one-on-one meetings.  Think about it, if you are at a networking event the person you meet will pr0bably meet at least a half a dozen other new faces.  Interaction at an event like that is commonly done standing up and lasts just a few minutes.  It’s a great place to start, but its by no means the end.

An effective networker will be an effective name gatherer.  Events are a great place to meet someone new and look for mutual interests.  They’re also a great place to gather names and numbers because names and numbers are leads.  In sales this process is referred to as prospecting.  I believe in the 10-3-1 rule.  I’ve been in sales my whole career with a number of different employers selling everything from pianos to people and this rule has held true in all situations.  If you get 10 leads, 3 of them will be of some value.  One of those three will be of great value and could turn into a sale.   You can check out my post on goals and the seven habits which goes into this process in a little more detail.

Ken VanBooven recently spoke at our Crossroads meeting and shared one of the most innovative methods of gathering names I’ve seen.  He simply asks questions about who you might know that possesses qualities he’s looking for in the person he wants to meet.  In his case he asks who is the most enthusiastic person you know, the person you know that is best at sales, the person that you know that is entrepreneurial, etc..  He then follows each answer with “who else do you know…”  I suspect when Ken sits down with someone he leaves with a minimum of 10 warm leads to call.

If you are looking for a job a good place to start would be with targeted companies.

  • “Who do you know that has worked at XYZ?”
  • “Who else do you know that might have worked there?”
  • “Do you know anyone that has worked for a company similar to XYZ?”

But don’t stop there.  Find out who they know that is well connected.  Find out who they know that likes to lend a hand.

  • “Who is the person you know who knows everybody?”
  • “Who do you know that really is good at networking?”
  • “Who is the most generous person you know?”
  • “Who do you know that really likes to help others?”
  • “Is there someone that you think anyone looking for a job should talk to?”

If you ask these questions of everyone you network with you’re going to end with a lot of names.  Remember that the 10-3-1 rule states that 30% of the calls will be fruitful.   In terms of job search that means 30% of the people will be willing to give you more names or give you some time over coffee.  One call in ten should land you a solid job lead.  Networking means working the phones.  Networking means paying for someone’s $3 cup of Scooters coffee in exchange for their time and expertise.   (Read this post before making these calls.  Please don’t ask them for an “informational interview”, just invite them to coffee).

The 10-3-1 rule also works for the next stage.  For every 10 solid leads you’ll end up with 3 interviews and somewhere in there is one job offer waiting for you.  One suggestion:  read last week’s post. It’s not about you  – it’s about them.  Look for ways to give to that person first and they will want to give back.

So, why are you still reading this?  Get off the internet and get on the phone!

Give First

If you ask Chad Snider what the secret to networking is, his response would be “Give First, Give More, Give Often”.  If you want to build strong personal and professional relationships you need to bring something to the table that the other person needs.   Anyone that has ever been to Gates BBQ can take a lesson from the first words you hear when you walk through the door – “Hi, may I help you?”.

We all know someone that is a taker.  They are people who tend to take advantage of the generosity of others and withhold what they have to offer.  For the most part they are not fun people to be around, they have a negative energy that effects even the most upbeat person.  After a call or meeting with a person like this you almost feel drained.  These are not people who you want working on your team.

When things get tough at work our instinct is to protect what is ours, to claim our territory and to give no quarter.  This is a very normal and human reaction to stress or fear.  I’m not saying that you automatically become a taker, but you need to teach yourself to react differently when your instincts tell you to start protecting your position.  When the chips are down and everyone is scrambling for their piece real estate it is the real leaders who give their slice of the pie to someone else.

Let me give you an example of why giving something away works.  Chad runs a company called Clear Marketing Design.  He was asked to come to a meeting with a potential client that was struggling.  They recognized a need for Clear Marketing and Chad’s ideas.  He spent time with them shared his thoughts on how they could be more effective with their message.  They liked what he had to say and had a second unpaid meeting where he shared more information and clarified some of their questions.  Most companies charge for this service.  After all, Chad’s “product” is his expertise and ideas.  But Chad wanted to give first.  And then he was willing to give more.   His willingness to give himself away turned into a paid consulting gig which ultimately turned into a full time job with the organization.

If Chad had said “I’ll come talk to you and share my ideas – my rate is X” he may not have even got a meeting.  If Chad didn’t bring value to the company (paid or unpaid) he would not have been asked back.  Chad was willing to give his services away – with no expectations of getting something back.  And because Chad was willing to give himself away someone wanted him on their team.

The next time you’re networking with someone ask this question – “How can I help you?”.  Be sincere about wanting to help someone else get to where they want to go.  It will make you feel good, it will make the other person feel good and you never know, it might lead to something that gets you where you want to go.

Give First.  Give More.  Give Often.  It’s a great motto to live your life by.

It's going to be ok.

I had a very pleasant conversation today with a gentleman who serves job seekers at COR in Leawood  It’s not a networking or “back to work” strategy group.   His group is far more important.  It’s a group that helps you cope with the emotional and spiritual pain experienced when you lose a job.

When it comes to things that cause pain in our lives the top three are the death of a loved one, divorce and number three, the loss of a job.   In each case you are ripped from your comfort zone and put in a position where you have to deal with loss, anger, depression, fear and uncertainty.

In all three situations you have a choice.  You can choose to linger in the pain and self-doubt.  You can choose to dwell on what could have been.  You can choose to think about what you are now going to miss out on.   Here’s the good news – you can choose to look forward to the future.  You can choose to grow from the experience.  You can choose to not be angry or bitter, but to be thankful.  Please don’t think I am minimizing the need to grieve, I think that is very important.  But you cannot let your grief consume and paralyze you.  It’s going to be ok.

I pray that I never have to go through the experience of losing my wife, but I know people who have, most recently a very good man who lost his beautiful wife much too early to cancer.  Michael Irvin (not the football player) wrote a GREAT blog post about his experience of losing his wife suddenly several years ago.  You need to read it because it encapsulates what I’m trying to say here.  It’s going to be ok.

A well known Bible verse says that In all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  (Rom 8:28)  It doesn’t say that “all things are going to be good”, bad things are going to happen, it just says that God works for the good of those who love Him.  It’s going to be ok.

If you have lost a job its normal to grieve.  Its normal to be worried.  Its normal to be scared.  What you’re feeling is not weird.  Its not abnormal.  You’re more likely to be abnormal if you’re not worried or scared.  But you MUST look at this as an opportunity.  Give thanks that you now have a new start.  I heard a great line in Lemonade “It’s not a pink slip, it’s a blank slate”.   Losing your job allows you to embark on a new adventure.  It’s going to be ok.

As a believer I know that God is going to take care of me.  Jesus told us that we are more important to God than anything in His creation.  He said that God is going to take care of me.  “Give us this day our daily bread”.  Here’s what Jesus told us about worrying.  If the Bible was written in today’s vernacular that passage would most likely include “God’s got your back”.  Really, it’s going to be ok.

So get up tomorrow and take a breath.  Give thanks for another day on the right side of the grass.  Give thanks for a new beginning and go out there boldly and confidently and find the door that God wants you to open.

You want me to do WHAT?!

Have you ever been sitting at your desk when your boss unexpectedly asks to speak to you in their office?  In this economic environment even that simple “may I see you for a moment please?” can raise your blood pressure 20 points.

You cautiously sit down expecting the worst and your boss drops a different kind of bombshell on you.  Rather than losing your job you’re being asked to do something that goes against your sensibilities.   I won’t use the word ethics or morals (yet).  Regardless, what they are asking you to do doesn’t make a lot of sense and is contrary to how you would handle the situation.

So there you sit – nervous about the future, perhaps a bit relieved that you still are employed, but not liking your job too much at the moment.  Your first words will determine how the rest of the conversation will go so choose them carefully.

“Why do you want me to do that?” will be your internal instinct & possibly similar to what you’d normally say, but let me suggest something different.  “No problem” would be a good start.  “I can handle that” would be another good response.  Your boss probably knows that what they’re asking is uncomfortable for you.  Your response will either raise or lower their defenses and open or close the door for dialogue.   If they know you’re willing to handle it you can probe for the reasoning.  A good follow-up is “Do you mind if I ask you why we’re going this direction?  It would help me explain it to….”.  You’ve already told them you’re on board.  Using “we’re” reinforced that you’re in it with them, you just would like some clarification.

Once you understand why, you can open the door to having some influence on the situation.  “Can I suggest an alternative?  Have you thought about…. ”   Maybe they have, maybe they haven’t.  Regardless, the more you discuss it with your boss the more you will be a part of the decision, even if you have no influence on it at all.     The bottom line is we all have to do things at work that aren’t any fun.   You’re going to be asked to do things on behalf of the company that are for the good of the company, even if you don’t agree with what’s being done.   Owners and managers are responsible for the health of the company, if you disagree with how they handle that responsibility you can (and should) start looking for someplace else to work.

With that being said, if your boss asks you to do something unethical, immoral or illegal it is your responsibility to say no.  Don’t be nasty about it.  Don’t act upset or insulted that they would ask you to do such a thing.  Simply say “I’m sorry, I can’t do that because….”  If they threaten or pressure you (which is likely because that is the typical MO of a boss that would ask you to do such things) calmly re-state your position.    “I’m sorry, I can’t do that because it does not align with my values”.  Be respectful and stand firm.  You should never be strong-armed into doing something that goes against your moral compass or lands you in a courtroom.    It might cost you your job, but it won’t cost you your dignity.  Which is more important to you?

Haiti

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I’ve been watching the news this week with a broken heart.  The images and stories coming out of Haiti are almost too much to bear.  The photo above was eerily reminiscent of pictures I’ve seen after the Katrina disaster in New Orleans, a group of hungry, thirsty and frightened people waving desperately for help as a helicopter flies over.  I’ve much worse.  If you’ve been watching you have as well.  I’ve seen a picture of a man, the lower half his lifeless body crushed and trapped by concrete, the upper half reaching out in his last moments for help.  I’ve seen photos of bodies stacked in a pile, awaiting a mass burial.  I’ve seen a photo of bodies being dumped into a mass grave by a dump truck.

There are possibly hundreds of thousands of dead.  Tens of thousands buried alive.  By the time rescuers get to them many will be counted among the dead.  Millions are homeless and hungry.  The suffering and pain in that country is beyond measure.  Many are thinking “why did God do this to us?”.  Pat Robertson does not have the answer to that question, regardless of what he thinks or says.  My God did not do this to Haiti.  My God loves each and every one of His children, even those who have gone astray (you might want to check Luke 15:11-32 if you don’t believe that).

God does not punish us with His wrath anymore.  Certainly there are many natural (and un-natural) disasters in the Old Testament that speak to God’s intervention in the natural world.  But nothing lately.  See, we’re not under the old rules.  God has sent His Son to die for our sins.  We are to love one another as God loves us.  We are to love our enemies.  We are to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, give the thief our tunic and robe.  God did not cause the suffering in Haiti.  It was an earthquake, a natural disaster.  The rain falls on the just and unjust.

But you know where I see God’s goodness and grace in this?  It’s in the pictures of the people from all over the world who have dedicated themselves to responding to events such as this.  They could still be sitting in their comfortable homes across the globe watching the events unfold.  But they have dedicated time to train as a first responder and are risking their lives to serve others.  They are sleeping on tennis courts and suffer from the same shortage of food and water as everyone in Haiti.  Voluntarily.   Its the pictures of the orphans who are being expedited out of the poverty of Haiti.   Its the pictures of the people being pulled from the carnage hungry & thirsty but alive.  Earthquakes are bad, but God is still good.  All the time.

So what does this have to do with jobs?  Perspective.  If your job sucks and it’s making you miserable be thankful you have a paycheck.  If you don’t have a job be thankful you have a faucet that dispenses drinkable water on demand.  I’ve said this before and I will continue to say it.  If you are a citizen of the United States of America you have won the lottery.  Opportunity abounds.  God has blessed America.  Be thankful for the abundance that we enjoy.  Even when terrible things happen in this country (i.e. Katrina) we are much better equipped to respond and rebuild.

Pray for the Haitian people.  Pray for the people serving in Haiti.  Pray for the families who have lost loved ones.  For the newly orphaned children.  Pray for those still trapped.  Pray for those living in tents.  Pray for the people in the pictures.  For now, that’s enough.

God Matters at Work

I’ve been doing this newsletter for a little more than half a year now, and it just dawned on me today that every single post has focused on job seekers.  Well, it’s time for “thatjobguy” to branch out a little bit and put some focus on making our professional lives better.   Today I want to start where I draw a lot of my comfort and strength from – my Christian faith.

I’ve never hidden my faith from anyone.   But I don’t want to beat people over the head with it either.   I got a great email today from a newsletter I subscribe to called “Faith and Work News”.   It posed some very good questions that I thought were worth discussing over the next few posts.

So, before we get to the questions I want to discuss today, let me give you some insight into my faith and evangelism in general.  For many years I was what I call a “complacent Christian”.  I went to church on Sunday, but I did not know how to apply my faith outside the 4 walls of the church.  More accurately, I chose not to apply it.  As I have grown my relationship with God I understand that there’s much, much more that He wants me to do.

The term evangelism may conjure up images of people like Pat Robertson who was quoted this week saying the devastating and tragic earthquake in Haiti was caused by some sort of “curse” because the people of Haiti made a “deal with the devil”.   His comment was irresponsible, callous, and the polar opposite of what an evangelical Christian should be thinking given such a horrific event.  Pat Robertson is wrong and comments like this hurt the body of Christ (speaking of the church).

There are far too many people who, in their zeal to save souls, forget that people who have been hurt by,  scared away from, or have avoided the church by people like Pat.  You aren’t going win souls for Christ through fear, intimidation, wrath, guilt, or punishment.   I believe a good evangelist should simply live their lives in a way that shares the grace and mercy God has shown us.

Everyone’s faith journey starts small – the Bible references a mustard seed with regards to how much faith you need to start.   It also says that we start as infants, only able to drink milk, unready for solid food.  Evangelism needs to understand that.  That is why Jesus asks us to live by His example.   In the great commission of Matthew 28 we are charged to “make disciples” and “teach them to obey everything that I have commanded you”.   I see a 2-part charge, the first being to make disciples.  People are drawn to those who are content in life, those who are happy, those who give to others.  Those people have an influence on lives.  They are not drawn to those who use fear and foreboding doom.  I’m not going to make any disciples by telling them that they’re going to Hell or that they’re cursed.

Evangelists are called to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   Jesus asked Peter & Andrew to drop their nets and follow him.  They did and they witnessed first had His love, grace and mercy.  He touched the unclean, He talked to the Samaritan woman, in His last moments He forgave a thief.  He did not strike people dead, He raised them.  He did not curse them, He blessed them.  That’s what being an evangelist looks like.  In my never to be humble opinion, any individual who is not sharing the message of grace is not an evangelist.  I’ll admit that many times I’m a terrible evangelist in that respect but I’m working on it.

So, on to the question that sparked this thread:

Does the product or service that I provide, and the way I provide that product/service offer value to the culture that is consistent with God’s moral principles?

I think the essence of this question is “Does what I do make a difference to others that is consistent with God’s values?”.   This question applies beyond Christians, Jews & Muslims (who all believe in the same God of Abraham).  Buddists, Hindus, Taoists and other polytheists can ask themselves the same question.  Atheists and agnostics can ask the same question.   Am I contributing to society in a way that is consistent with my beliefs?  If the answer to that question is no it might be time to find something that is consistent.

If you want to be truly great at what you do, you need to be passionate about it.  If you want to be happy your profession needs to be consistent with your interests and desires.  If what you do is in opposition to your moral compass its time to move on.  Sooner than later.

Are you uncomfortable with the way your boss expects you to treat a co-worker, vendor or customer?  Is the business your company is in taking advantage of people?  It is unfortunate, but it seems that the quest for money (greed) overrides the need to show compassion to others.  The desire to please shareholders overrides the desire to please customers.  I could go on.

The bottom line?  Find a profession where you are contributing to the well-being of others.  Show a little grace in the workplace.  Don’t gossip about one another.  Don’t hold people back to secure your position in the organization.  Resolve conflicts.  Treat everyone as you want to be treated.  Follow the greatest commandments, the summation of God’s law – Love God with all your mind, heart and soul and love your neighbor as yourself.

7 years down the drain….

Animal House is one of my favorite movies.  It’s a classic.  Maybe it’s because of the antics of the Delta’s.  Maybe it’s the Omega / Delta rivalry.  Whatever the reason it’s the movie that put John Belushi, Kevin Bacon, Tim Matheson, Peter Reigert and Otis Day on the map.  (Otis actually was played by DeWayne Jesse, but he’s changed his name and continues to perform as Otis Day to this day).

So what does Animal House have to do with this post?   Nothing really, other than the setting was college and that’s what I want to talk about today.  College.

One of the LinkedIn groups I follow had a LOOOONG thread on how important a college education was to a job seeker.  There were many posts from people with 20+ years of experience who could not understand why they would not be considered for a job in their field of expertise due to the lack of a degree.  Posts that were almost caustic in their tone. 

How could I, someone who has been doing nearly the identical job for 20 years, be disqualified right out of the gate just because of the lack of a degree?

The answer is simple.  Or maybe not.  Did you reach out to the organization, make a personal connection or even apply for the job with a well-written cover letter that overcomes the potential education objection?  No.  Ok, well I promise you won’t get the job then.

Just because it says a degree is required doesn’t necessarily mean its a hard and fast rule.  If its in a field that requires a degree to ply the trade (i.e. doctor, lawyer, CPA, RN, etc..) then yes, you will be DQ’d out of the gate no matter what you do. If it is in a field that doesn’t require special degrees or licensing then you should at least TRY.  I’m not saying you’ll be successful but I know you won’t be successful if you don’t try.

We’re looking to hire a salesperson right now and I want someone that has a degree.  I’ll get into the reason in a minute.  Does that mean I automatically disqualify a person without a degree?  No.  I have several customers who won’t hire you unless you have a degree.  It’s not because of any legal or licensing issues, it’s because that’s what they expect.  That’s just the way it is.

I prefer candidates with degrees for our positions.  If they’re software engineers a CS degree is ideal.  If they’re analysts an MIS or business degree is awesome.  But I don’t DQ candidates that don’t have a degree unless the client specifically wants a degree.   Our next salesperson probably will have a degree.  If they don’t they’re going to have some pretty specific and compelling experience that is going to trump the lack of a degree.

I heard a lot of banter in the group about requiring a degree might be a form of age discrimination.  I don’t agree with that.  See my posts on age discrimination v1 and age discrimination v2 if you want to know my feelings on that issue.  If you have 30 years of experience and no degree it will be a barrier to a job you might be well qualified for in some organizations.  Nothing illegal or discriminatory about that.

You know why I like college degrees?  It’s not so much the knowledge – we don’t hire recent grads.  Frankly, I’ve forgotten more about what I learned in college than I care to admit.  It’s the fact that someone achieved a significant long term goal.  You don’t get college degrees in 3 months.  The commitment to get that diploma is significant.

Let me tell you something not many people know.  I am a high school dropout.  My priorities in high school were completely out of whack and education was not on my list of things I thought I needed.  I will be forever thankful to my parents for sticking with me through those very tough years and encouraging me to get my GED and go to college.  I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in December of 1986.  I would not be where I’m at today without that experience, good and bad.

I will leave you with this thought.  If a job posting says “college degree required” and you think you fit all aspects of the position with that one exception you should give it a shot.  (Unless it’s necessary to have that degree to perform the duties).   If you have the experience, aptitude, attitude and demonstrate that you’ll be a valuable asset to my team I’ll hire you.

Goals & the 7 Habits

If you have read the Steven Covey “7 Habits” book you know that goals are a big part of the habits.   Being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, “sharpening the saw” are all habits that are goal-driven.

For those of you who still carry around planners (I was one of those people for many years) you know that each one has a “system” for writing down and tracking short and long term goals.  Goals are really important.   The experts suggest that written goals are very, very important.

Let me admit something – I’ve never written down long term goals.  Actually I take that back, I did write down some long term goals in the last planner I used.  That was about 1995, right before the Palm Pilot hit the market.

I don’t write down long term goals because frankly I’m not sure what the next 5-10 years is going to throw at me.  I remember one of my long term goals I wrote down was to be a good father and husband.  Not really a “SMART” goal, but it’s one that I like to think I achieved.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have goals.  My goals tend to be more operational than strategic.  For example, I have a goal every month to place 3 people.  To make this happen my daily goal is  to manage the workload that I’ve set up for myself in Outlook and our Applicant Tracking System which is designed to meet a weekly goal of making 50 calls.  Those calls will turn into 4-5 candidates that I can market a week, and I place 20% of the people I market.

If I average 4.5 people to market a week and there’s 4.2 weeks in a month and my placement averages hold I will place 3 people consistently, each and every month.  Guess how many people I placed in 2009.  36.  I don’t write that annual goal down (maybe I should), I don’t write the monthly goal down and I don’t even write the daily goals down.  I simply know what it’s going to take.   The numbers are tracked in our ATS and I do keep an eye on them to make sure I’m on track, but I don’t write “Place 3 people this month” at the top of my calendar.

The point I’m making is Steven Covey is right – you need to begin with the end in mind.  Maybe you do have a 5 year plan.  Break that down into 5 separate years.  How far should you be along your path after 12 months?  24 months?  Now break each one of those 12 month periods into quarters, what should you have accomplished by the end of March?  June?  Oct?  Between now and March what do you need to get done on a weekly basis?  How about on a daily basis?  The bottom line is we live day-to-day and we need to know what we should be doing when we get up in the morning.  What do I need to get done TODAY that will get me where I need to go?  Whether the end game is the end of the year or the end of the new decade, you need to have a daily plan of actionable items that are taking you down the right path.

What are some good goals for a job seeker?  How many networking events do you have in your planner for January?  How many new contacts have you made since the New Year started?  How many cups of coffee have you drank gathering information from those contacts?  What company have you targeted and what steps are you taking to get them to talk to you?  How many resumes have you sent out and (more importantly) how many follow up calls have you made on those resumes?  What additional training are you seeking?  Have you even identified what you want to do when you grow up?  Each one of these action items can be broken down into a daily regiment.

Like it or not, you’re now in sales.  Prospecting, product knowledge, market research, following up, giving your “pitch” and closing the deal are all part of the job search process.   Set some goals around these activities.  You’ll be surprised by the results.

Don't be "That Guy"

A little humor for you today…..