Saturday, December 3, 2016

On Being "In Transition"

Nowadays, we have all-too-easily adopted euphemisms (such as "collateral damage") that keep us at a safe distance from uncomfortable realities.

One such reality is job loss.
The phrase "in transition" is commonly used these days to refer to those who have lost a job and are now in search of another. Or to those who have decided to leave a career path in search of a new one.
A colleague of mine here in New Jersey, who is dedicated to helping professionals in Finance who are "in transition," is fond of saying "We are all in transition."
Now that is a true statement we would do well to ponder.
As a "career transition consultant" who provides one-on-one coaching support to clients who are "in" career  "transitions," I find it a helpful metaphor. It is about change. Sometimes it is even about transformation.
Just as our organizational clients struggle with change, individuals who are "in transition" may struggle. Sometimes for years.

Terrence Seamon helps individuals and companies in their struggle with change. His company is Facilitation Solutions. Follow him on twitter @tseamon, and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The 3 Types of Questions in Interviews

There are three types of questions in interviews:

1. the questions they will ask you

2. the questions you ought to ask them

3. and the questions you should ask yourself

Let's look at each type.

Much is written and said about Type 1 Questions. This is as it should be. A key part of preparation for an interview is to think in advance of the questions the employer is likely to ask you.

One of the goals of the employer is to determine if you can do the job. So they will ask a variety of questions about your skills, experiences, and accomplishments. Be ready to tell your CAR stories as a way to convey your capabilities and value.

It is also vital to anticipate the "tough" questions they may ask, such as 'Why did you leave your last position?' Another tough question deals with gaps in your work history.

Since there are many excellent resources for this type of question, we will leave it there.

As for Type 2 Questions, these are ones that the savvy job candidate asks. They come from the homework she has done on the company, including online (and library) research as well as tapping her network for information. She has studied the job description and annotated it with comments and questions about the role and what appears to be expected.

Such pre-work is a must! The more you have delved into the Job and the Company, the more you will feel ready to engage in a conversation with the employer. And it will provide a basis for preparing a list of questions to ask the interviewer.

What sorts of questions? Questions about the job and the role, about the business, and about the culture.

Why are Type 2 Questions so important? There are several reasons. They show you have done your homework. They demonstrate your interest in the company. And they help You to gather vital information that will help you decide if this company is right for you.

Which brings us to Type 3 Questions, the ones you must ask yourself. Questions such as...

Am I ready for this interview?

Have I prepared my CAR stories?

Do I know my value?

Do I want this job?

And after the interview...

How did that interview go?

Do I still want this job?

Do I want to work for this company?

What must I do next?

Terrence Seamon helps career transitioners to achieve their goals. Follow him on twitter @tseamon and on LinkedIn.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Five Hacks for Risk-Taking Transitioners

Some job hunters are impetuous. Understandably so.

They want to get back to work so fiercely that they are willing to take project work as a "hired gun" to assist a company that is desperate for some help.

Typically, these job hunters are highly experienced and accomplished. They may have attained a high level in their career progress. Or they may be a deep expert in a particular field.

Highly motivated, they tear into the search so aggressively that they generate opportunities quickly.

In the past year, I have had several such clients. When they reached out to their connections, they were presented with appealing (and financially attractive) short-term consulting opportunities. So, needing the work, they took the plunge. Now several weeks/months into the consulting assignments, they see that "the end is near" on the work, and they are no closer to their next job. 

So I reached out to some of my network contacts to "crowd source" some hacks for this dilemma:  

How can a job hunter, who is consulting, keep their job searches active when they are very busy and don't have much energy left for the search at the end of the day/week? 

Terry, good morning!

Consulting can be a challenge in its own right, as can running a job search. So here are a few hacks that come to mind:
  • Make the time over the weekend to update the resume with the experience and skills gained/used in the consulting assignment
  • Schedule time in the middle of the day to review possible opportunities and engage recruiters or other parties presenting attractive options
  • Network with everyone possible on the assignment and keep the eyes open for opportunity
  • At the midway point of the gig, evaluate the likelihood of the assignment being extended and increase the mid-day window where possible
I hope these are helpful.

Terry-Thanks for reaching out about this.  I tell my clients that they need to stay engaged with their network by sending them a “newsletter” every 6 weeks or so about what they are doing and what new skills they are learning, etc.  I also encourage them to stay active on social media with their connections.

Hi Terrence,

What I have is a question. Was the job seeker not keeping up with the job search because they were tired as you stated or did something else get in the way?   Is a lack of energy the result of being overworked, down in the dumps or was the consulting engagement time-line left too open?   

I tell job seekers to keep the future in mind, understanding what they have is a consulting engagement with a beginning and end date perhaps.   Keeping up on the social media side might prove energizing and engaging for the job seeker and help overcome the lack of energy. 

What the “experts” are currently saying is by the year 2020, 40% of the workforce will be contractual, temporary, contingent, etc.  Where does that leave everyone?  It’s a concept that requires a mindset and planning change.

To sum up this wisdom, here are five hacks to use if you decide to take on a contract assignment:

1 Make time to update your resume (and LinkedIn profile) to reflect what you are currently doing.

2 Stay engaged with recruiters and other sources of opportunity such as job search groups.

3 At the mid-way point in the gig, evaluate your options. Can the gig be extended?

4 Keep engaged with your network. Send out a periodic "newsletter" via email to let them know what you are doing. Stay "visible" so that you will be "top of mind" for people who are looking out for you.

5 Keep the future in mind. Be ready for contingent work to become the New Normal.

Lastly, don't let the contract work drain all your energy so that you have no bandwidth for your longer-term objectives.

Terrence Seamon helps career transitioners to achieve their goals Follow him on twitter @tseamon and connect on LinkedIn.

Monday, September 26, 2016

"And the award goes to..."

An interview question, inspired by the Emmy awards, occurred to me the other day:
"If you were to receive an award in recognition of an accomplishment of yours, what would it be?"
I don't think such a question is asked much if at all. But it would reveal some things about the applicant including their humility and self-awareness. 
Whether you are asked this question or not, if you are a job hunter, you would do well to ponder it. How would you answer it?
What have you done that is worthy of distinction?
Not everyone receives recognition for their work. Few of us get accolades that we can proudly point to.
And many of us are modest and tend to put our "lamp under a bushel."
But if we are honest with ourselves, we all have done something in our careers that we feel good about. Some accomplishment that we worked hard to achieve. Maybe even despite obstacles that we encountered.
Before your next interview, take the time to review such accomplishments. Write it out. Be descriptive. Set the scene. What was the goal, or project, or problem? Who was the customer? What actions did you take? Why? And what was the outcome? Be sure to finish with the results you achieved.
Take pride in what you have done.
Believe in yourself.

If you are sold, you can sell.

Terrence Seamon advises job hunters and career changers. Follow him on twitter @tseamon, and on facebook Facilitation Solutions.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Potential Job Market

It's commonplace in the job search field to speak of the "hidden" job market. The term "hidden" refers to the jobs that are not on the job boards.
They may be jobs that are currently posted on internal job boards. Or they may be identified positions that are not yet approved requisitions.
One of my clients recently landed and he met with me to say, "Terry, You were right about the so-called 'hidden' job market. But that word 'hidden' is not exactly correct."
Here's what he meant.
In the course of his job search, he reached out to colleagues in his network, even those from years ago.
One of those, from over ten years ago, was happy to hear from him. They reconnected.
They started to talk about stuff they were doing and stuff they were both interested in.
It became clear, as the conversations went on, that there was mutual interest in working together again.
Eventually the conversation became a job offer and my client went back to work.
My client then said to me:  "There was no hidden job. There actually was no job at all! Just a desire to work together again on an exciting new venture."
So what just happened in that case?
My client discovered the "Potential Job" Market, a market place of relationships where employers meet people they may already know and discover new possibilities for joining forces. 
Terrence Seamon assists people in job search and career transition. Follow him on twitter @tseamon

Friday, May 20, 2016

Is it time to Get Out of the Box?

It's not unusual for a job search to stretch on for months. There are many possible reasons why this is often the case. One of those is that job hunters can develop some "bad" habits. The one I want to address in this post is Staying Inside the Box.
By Staying Inside the Box, I mean doing everything right but not taking risks.
In recent months, some of my clients have ventured Outside the Box and have achieved success. Here are some of the risky things they tried...that worked.
Display your expertise - One of my clients wrote a Pulse post here on LinkedIn that demonstrated his knowledge and expertise in his field. Soon thereafter, his phone rang. It was a former colleague calling, triggered by reading the post. The two started talking and it culminated in a job offer.
Hang out with hiring managers - The phrase "hang out" comes from wise job search adviser Nick ("Ask the Headhunter") Corcodilos who often says, Hang out where the likely action is. In other words, where are You likely to find the employers you are most interested in? If you are in the pharma or chemicals industry, join ChemPharma, a networking group dedicated to that industry. If you are a Project Manager, join PMI. By joining the relevant industry organizations where your target employers hang out, you increase your exposure to them.
Talk shop - When it comes to networking conversations in professional organizations like the ones above, every job search coach recommends "Don't ask for a job." Instead, talk shop (again a 'hat tip' to Nick Corcodilos for this). Talking shop means asking the other person about their business. Show interest in them. Ask questions. Engage them in talking about what matters most TO THEM. It will become apparent, as the conversation goes along, that you have something of value to offer.
Offer to advise - Sometimes, you will be talking shop with a potential employer, but finally the employer will say something like "Gee I wish I could have you join my company, but we have no money/no opening/ no budget." Your response could be, No Problem! Consider me an adviser. I'll come in, take a look at your operation, and give you my recommendations. If you like them, you can offer me something (i.e., compensation) in return. If you want, I can come in on a regular basis (i.e., a retainer).
Contact your rejecters - Most job hunters get turned down. It's to be expected. But how many job hunters go back to those rejecters and offer a counter-proposal? I recently read about this idea in a Pulse post where the author said that he re-contacted all the companies that had turned him down. He offered to consult with them in case they needed extra help. Out of all that he reached out to, he heard back from only a small handful. But of those, several said Yes.
Have you heard of any other out-of-the-box ideas for job hunters? Please write them in the comments.
Terrence Seamon works with career transitioners. Follow him on twitter @tseamon

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The RASDA Cycle

What is the RASDA cycle, you ask?
The letters stand for:  Rage, Anger, Sadness, Desperation, Acceptance
After reading the heart-breaking post by Kim Williams, about being fired from Intel after 28 years of dedication and hard work, it occurred to me that these feelings --Rage, Anger, Sadness, Desperation, Acceptance-- may capture the essence of what many go through when they are involuntarily terminated from their employment.
Rage may be the first. "How dare you take this from me!" Job loss is a drastic thing. You lose a lot:  your identity, your status, your office, your team, your customers.
You lose your income.  As a client of mine said to me the other day, "I went from six figures to zero in an instant."
I have often said that anyone who is thinking of firing somebody ought to go through the experience themselves in order to know first-hand what they are about to inflict on another human being.
Anger may come next as the fire of Rage subsides somewhat.  Anger at the Company, at the Boss, at the way the termination was handled. This is often a phase of blaming, of hurt...and for some, anger at one's self.
When I read how Kim Williams was escorted off the site like a criminal, my heart broke for him. That is no way to treat someone who moments before was a solid employee of the company.
Sadness and Desperation may come next as the days turn to weeks, and the weeks turn to months, during a period of transition where nothing seems to go right. No interviews, no call backs, no offers.
If you are lucky, the feeling of Acceptance may arrive at last. Acceptance can mean many things. It may mean that you have decided to "let go." Holding on to the past will not bring back what was lost.
Acceptance may mean that you have decided to face the facts without blinders on. Ask yourself, "Here I am. Now what?"
Acceptance may mean that you have shifted your gaze to a focus on the future. Ask yourself, "What next?"
Acceptance may mean that you have opened up to new and different possibilities. Ask yourself, "What else can I do with the skills I have, with what I am good at?"
Acceptance may be the doorway to your next chapter.
Terrence Seamon has been through the RASDA cycle several times. Follow him on twitter @tseamon