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Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

economic crisisSo one day it’s a sunny Fall day and you’re watching children play football and soccer, and the next, 60 mph gusts are launching tree branch projectiles at your home, snapping massive tree trunks in two like so many toothpicks, and driving record tidal surges into coastal homes and businesses.  The storm’s aftermath is a period of shaky calm as people try to assess the damage and contend with life without running water, power, phones, Internet access, the ability to get to work or school or the grocery store (if it’s open and if it has items on the shelves), or even worse…

So just what does a hurricane have to do with losing your job unexpectedly?

It’s not so much the storm that brought you to your “here and now,” since that storm has come and gone.  It’s the aftermath that matters….how you pick yourself up from the devastation, dust (dry?) yourself off, and begin moving forward to stabilize and rebuild.  Recovering from a hurricane and coping with an unexpected job loss are very much about clearing out the debris (the wreckage of your home, yard, career) and focusing on the essentials you need to have/do to move forward to a better place.

You need to:

Stay positive — believing in yourself and a positive future outcome,
Have the necessary tools available and functioning (e.g., Flashlights, Batteries, Resume, References)
Roll up your sleeves and work hard to rebuild, and
Reach out to people for mutual support (aka network)
And all this is done, one step by one step at a time.   So, what are the detailed steps you have to take to power up your job search and find your next job?  Be ready to do some:

Soul searching – It’s time for some healthy introspection.  How did I land here? What went wrong? What went right? What am I good at?  What can I become good at?  What am I lacking?  How can I fill any gaps?  Where do I want to be?  What do I really want to do?
Researching – What’s the current job market like?  What companies would I like to work for? Are they hiring?  Do I know anyone who works there?  What other companies are out there that I might have overlooked with my first pass?
Packaging – Think of yourself as a “product” to be packaged and marketed.  Your primary tools are: your resume, your cover letter, your LinkedIn profile (and other social media pages), and your own blog.  Each of these elements needs to be mindfully constructed so it is clear, crisp, and consistent.  Ideally, working with an experienced resume writer is the best way to devise “stand up and be noticed” marketing materials.  But even if you can’t afford specialized help, you can do-it-yourself with help from Ivy Exec’s numerous webinars on the nuts and bolts of creating “wow” career documentation.  Above all, do not work in a vacuum or your resume will never make it to the top of the pile.
Applying  – Use company job boards and job boards offered by premier career resource companies.  Ivy Exec’s job board posts over 60,000 premium jobs that have been hand selected for our elite members.  Our premium level members receive daily job alerts tailored to their search specifications directly in their inbox. Only apply to jobs you are well qualified for, otherwise you are wasting your time.  Make sure you submit a customized cover letter with every job application that clearly delineates why your skill set and experience map perfectly to the job’s requirements.
Networking – Network! Network! Network!  Reach out to colleagues from prior jobs, friends of friends of friends, and classmates you’ve lost touch with.  Be very open to renewing contacts with people from your past.  LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter are all ways to connect and re-connect.  And these social networks can be used to uncover and connect with company insiders if you are patient, yet appropriately persistent.  You just never know, but someone, who knows someone, who knows someone MAY be able to help you.  Additionally, reach out to the alumni offices at schools you attended.  Alumni offices often have networks of alumni who are more than happy to meet with job seekers for informational interviews, and alumni just might have job leads to share with a fellow alum.
Interviewing and Closing… – If it has been awhile since you interviewed, be sure to sharpen those skills before your first interview.  Scheduling informational interviews can help you polish up rusty interview skills.  As a starting point, Ivy Exec offers member access to a library of webinars on Interviewing.  Our premium members have access to a Mentor Network comprised of seasoned executives who can help you prepare tough interviews.  Ivy Exec also offers career coaching services.  Though it may seem “quaint,” make sure you follow up with every interviewer in writing to thank them for their time,  and to reaffirm your interest in the position.  Ivy Exec’s webinar library also includes materials on Negotiating – a key skill you need to master that will help you ensure that your compensation offer is in line with your expectations/requirements.
…and Working Again! — Once you’ve regained your professional footing make sure you nurture your career by growing your skill set and remaining plugged-in to the bigger picture.  Most successful careers require constant care and feeding.  Careers that are going places don’t “coast” there…

Greg Olsten is an Associate in Professional Services at IvyExec.com.

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We are all familiar with the hardships involved in being an unemployed job seeker.  Not only is it frustrating and depressing when you can’t find a job, but the feelings become magnified as the length of time unemployed increases.

Rather than be depressed over what you can’t have today, career expert Elena Bajic, founder and CEO of Ivy Exec, is telling job seekers to think of the jobs they can have tomorrow. Bajic is offering eight tips on how to become smarter job seekers and be better equipped for the future job market. Here are her suggestions:

1. Take a hard look at your finances: If you’re currently searching for a job or are about to start looking for a job, immediately look at your finances to see where you can curb costs and expenses.

2. Take inventory & do a full and honest self analysis: Take time to understand who you are and what you can bring to the job table. Really understand your strengths and weaknesses.

3. Set realistic and achievable goals and review them daily: Make your time count when it comes to finding the right job. Make a specific to-do or checklist each day to make sure your job search is productive. Set goals such as “I need to make at least five calls today” or “I’m going to reach out / network with four people today.”

4. Treat your job search like you’d treat a job: Finding the right job requires the same commitment as one would commit to a full-time job. 

5. Network to build relationships, not to find a job: Networking is about building relationships with people who can connect you with people who can help you find a job.

6. Focus on self improvement: For those who are currently unemployed, dedicate time during your job search to acquire new skills and to improve your candidacy. Use this time as an opportunity to build on your existing skills and experience. Make your time fruitful.

7. Develop a job search with professional help: if you can afford it, hire a professional who can offer objective advice and help anchor you so that you’d avoid making common job search mistakes (ie. take the first job offer that comes through, start interviewing with any company that shows interest even if it is the not right fit, etc.) .

8. Stay positive – Interviewers can read negativity pretty quickly, and nobody wants to hire a negative person. By following the first seven tips, you will be a more confident job seeker with more focus, and with a clear picture of the right job that’s the right fit.

Greg Olsten is an Associate in Professional Services at IvyExec.com.
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Over the years I have deepened my understanding of the human experience and improved my skills as a therapist by listening closely to clients.  Recently, while conducting a workshop on coping with the emotional turmoil of unemployment, a participant offered a great suggestion to the group.  When her children were young, she sometimes felt housebound.  She started volunteering to get out of the house and connect with people, as well as make a social contribution.

Once she returned to work she was too busy to continue volunteering.  Unfortunately, because of the downturn in the economy she found herself unemployed and spending hours everyday looking for another position.   After a few months, she started to feel socially isolated.  Remembering the sense of community she got from volunteering years earlier, she decided to try her hand at it once again.

It worked.  She looked forward to working with other people and helping the less fortunate.  Her motivation improved as well as her sense of self worth.  As a result, she encouraged other members of the group to volunteer.  When we met as a group a week later, she had inspired four other people to take on volunteer positions.  One person reported that she was learning new computer skills.  Someone in another workshop was hoping the skills she was gaining volunteering at an animal shelter would lead to a job at a privately owned dog kennel.

Our society is richer and more humane because of millions of volunteers across the country.  For those seeking jobs, it not only enriches their lives but also adds to their resume.  It shows perspective employers that you have a cooperative, sociable nature and are willing to give generously of yourself to support a greater cause.  It helps answer the question “What have you been doing while unemployed?” Interestingly, a recent blog post on Ivyexec.com reported that 20% of hiring managers relied on volunteering as part of their hiring decisions.

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Many of my unemployed clients tell me that even when someone gives them a referral, they struggle to call for an appointment.  For them, the telephone weighs 500 pounds.  I hear comments like, “I get a lump in my throat,” “It seems like my heart is going to jump through my chest,” “I feel like I’m running out of breath,” “I’m afraid I’m going to say something stupid.”  Sound familiar?  What makes calling strangers so tough?  What can we do about it?
We are all built with an internal signal system that begins to prepare us for danger; namely anxiety. As anxiety and fear intensifies, we can begin to experience physical symptoms like shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat and/or sweating.  At work is the signal system that triggers the “fight or flight” response.  If we truly faced danger we could respond with a stronger and faster response.  Unfortunately, anxiety can arise when there is no real danger.  If you are becoming anxious before calling perspective employers, your signal system is alerting you to the potential for danger but it is a false alarm.  Start by recognizing that the anxiety you feel is a false alarm.  If you stop to think about it, there is no physical threat.  I suggest you ask yourself,  “What is the worse that can happen”?  Do you really think the person will be mean or just hang up?  If they are rude, it is on them.  I would bet the individual you are calling will be courteous and, if in their power, helpful.
The best approach is practice, practice, practice.  Develop some openings sentences like,  “I’m interested in the position you advertised and would like to tell you how I can help your company,” or “I’m a good friend of Jane Doe, who works in such-and-such department, and she thinks I’d be a great fit with your company.”
Be sure to say something positive about yourself without bragging.  Avoid big words.  Sound upbeat, confident, and conversational, but not bubbly.  Make your opening comment brief and simple.  Sample your opening statement with your spouse or a friend.  Remind yourself that any feelings of anxiety are really a false alarm.  You have nothing to lose, and maybe, just one of those many calls will pay off.

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