Category Archives: job search strategies


White noise nonsense on job search and recruitment

Do you have nonsense fatigue?

I’m starting to see some backlash on the volume of white noise on LinkedIn and other platforms. One writer Cory Galbraith sent out a post which resonated. He has even taken a break from his own writing.

He suggests that people write for a number of reasons – to sell a product, enhance a reputation or ego, and some even to be genuinely helpful. What bothers me, is the level of information which is either inaccurate, wrong or an opinion shared as a truth.

I’m sure it is the same for all sectors, but nowhere is it as prevalent as job search and recruitment. The search term “How to create a successful resume” produces 72.2 million resources in 0.61 of a Google second. 

We all have opinions on the way people do these things and many are more than willing to share them, regardless of their knowledge level or qualifications. Even if they haven’t applied for a job in 20 years or worked in recruitment, sometimes ever!

Myth Creation

The advent of social media has created a whole new culture of people who can send out what are essentially opinions, rather than fact, to large audiences interested in job search and recruitment. Very often this commentary is couched in click bait headlines which confuse the life out of readers. Coming from so-called “influencers” these nuggets carry additional weight for a very susceptible audience.

I published a post on LinkedIn Pulse  on this topic 4 mystifying professional profile myths on this topic. Jesse Lyn Stoner of the Seapoint Center, suggested that one way to deal with trying to make people accountable was to write a post about it! So here it is!

Factually incorrect 

A post from a really sweet contact, who is not in the career coaching or recruitment business, gave  “top” tips for creating an effective CV. 4 of them were probably completely wrong and others were pretty dubious. I have seen posts suggesting cutting certain words out of resumés. In the real world seeing the word “etc.” really makes no difference at all.  There are times when etc. will be appropriate and others where perhaps fuller detail will be required. It will certainly not impact the recruitment process.

I saw another post suggesting that the word “actually” be scrubbed from our professional vocabularies in emails, as it is rude and implies a correction. Here is a definition of actually:

actually ˈaktjʊəli,-tʃʊ-/ adverb adverb: actually
as the truth or facts of a situation.
“we must pay attention to what young people are actually doing”
used to emphasize that something someone has said or done is surprising.
“he actually expected me to be pleased about it!”
synonyms: literally, to all intents and purposes, in effect

I’m not sure when “actually” morphed into something impolite, but there is  now a whole slew of readers who think it’s not a good word to use in a professional context.

Calling it out

Is it worth calling it all out?  I have nonsense fatigue and can no longer be bothered.  Others are more vigilant in making others accountable. A tweet came through my stream recently from @NeilMorrison  suggesting to a well-known influencer that some copy was potentially misleading about the hiring process, possibly to meet a deadline. I actually had the same thoughts when I had read the post earlier.  His words were  “what a load of rubbish on the hiring process”

Perspective not truth

This quote from Marcus Aurelius sent out  from @Avid Careerist, Donna Svei, confirmed my ideas. She was focusing on conflict, but I think it applies to many situations.

marcus aurelius

How to convey that anything we write is an opinion and a perspective, not a fact, is not difficult  in itself, although writers are always exhorted to write with conviction and audience attracting headlines. With the growing volume of columnists and pundits churning out content, as well as people who know nothing about the sector adding their two cents worth, the volume of white noise is now mind-blowingly confusing.  

My opinion is that separating this white noise of nonsense on job search and recruitment, from valid and helpful commentary is getting increasingly difficult for the average reader.

How do you think we should deal with it? Do you have nonsense fatigue?

art and science 2

Career managers understand the art and science of recruitment

Job search, like it’s counterpart, recruitment, is both an art and a science.  It needs to be a successful combination of the strategic leveraging of technology (the science,) with advanced influencing skills, via personal branding and networking (the art.)  Like the planets, when these elements are in perfect alignment, then hey-ho mission accomplished for both sides.

The universe can’t help you

But neither end of the spectrum can work on a one-off opportunistic basis. If recruiters invest time and energy learning their craft and developing both deep and wide networks, it makes sense that a job seeker would need to do the same.  But in so doing, it means that job seekers have to actually stop being one-off job seekers and shift to becoming longer term career managers. Most job seekers seem to trust the universe to kick in. If a job seeker is sending out 100s of CVs with no response, the answer is that they will certainly be doing almost everything wrong.

Today’s career managers, like recruiters, have to be sophisticated influencers, with more than decent levels of  digital and social savvy. This is why many job seekers struggle and some fail. It’s also why career managers rarely need to become job seekers and when they do it’s generally easier for them.

The art

The art of career management is rooted in soft skills, in those intangibles that are the cement to the hard skill bricks. It’s about relationship building and branding both on and off-line.

Career managers are on the ball. He/she will have and understanding of at least their medium term goals and their strengths and personal development needs. Plus, they will have a complete and even strong online presence, an updated CV ready to go on their smart phone and be an active and skilled on-going networker, both on-line and actually.  Yes, this will mean going to events and interacting with network connections. They will have their 30 second commercial and 15 word intro practised to perfection, suitable for use in a wide range of different situations.

Career managers will not be panicked into spamming total strangers in desperation telling them they are now on the market. They will already have a good reputation and high visibility in their network and a few well placed calls or mails will suffice.

The science

Recruitment assignments are usually set up and structured on the basis of hard skills and key words. I have personally never worked on a search where the preliminary triage is based on soft skills. They tend to come in later down the line. After a sweep through an immediate and known network, candidates are identified via tech-based online searches, including LinkedIn and other professional and social platforms, using complex Boolean search strings. Key words would include education, professional, and sector skills and terms, plus location. In addition we look for the scope of a job, so metrics are important, budget and team size are helpful, plus the scale of any big wins.

If job seekers fit a very specific profile then the chances of appearing in searches for their industry, sector and location are high. If they have a hybrid background, or are career changers, then it’s going to be more challenging. This is when the science really kicks in and job seekers will need to position themselves for a specific type of opening, using transferable skills.

Career managers will have been situating themselves strategically over time and in advance, with network connections in their targeted field. They may even have worked with a coach.

Wheat and chaff

With millions of job search tips on the internet it is easy for job seekers to get confused. Some of it is misleading and other stuff is truthfully just complete nonsense, written using click bait headlines. If a job seeker has the right skill set, trust me, a career will not tank because of certain vocabulary choices on a CV or LinkedIn profile, provided they are spelt correctly. CVs don’t get people jobs, but they do get interviews.

If job seekers are competing against career managers, candidates who have better resumes or a stronger online presence, then the likelihood of the hiring manager having an unconscious preference (in addition to any pre-existing unconscious biases) are stronger. This means the interview performance has to be spot on, which is a pressure a job seeker could avoid.  Career managers understand this, and have it in hand. Why make a difficult life, even more difficult?

To shift from being a job seeker to a career manager, means taking a longer term view and combining the art and science of career management to meet individual goals.

The less that is left to chance the better.

job fairs

Gen Y recruitment: How to make the most of job fairs

It’s the season for job fairs. These are mechanisms for companies and candidates to screen each other and for both sides to get a feel for the market. They are an interesting combination of informational interview, actual interviews and networking. The skill is identifying which is which and applying the correct strategy.

Today, there is discussion about how useful they are for employers. Many are finding that college graduates lack basic skills for white collar jobs and are considering other forms of assessment.  But if there is one for your sector or in your region, as a job seeker it’s an additional opportunity to make contact with organisations and therefore worth doing.

Here are 7 tips on how to make the most of job fairs

1. Register for the Fair

Some job fairs allow candidates to register for the event, usually online, when they can pre-submit a CV. This gives companies an opportunity to screen applicants and identify the individuals they want to meet. There is no guarantee that this will take place, but if offered the chance, take advantage of the process. Always check for late company registrations – this can happen.

2. Be strategic

Many job seekers don’t treat job fairs seriously or strategically and attend and wander around in ” go-see” mode. This can be unproductive and waste huge amounts of time. Attendance at job fairs is usually high. Lines get long, especially for high-profile companies. If you can get the layout of the exhibition centre, plan a route around the fair. They can also be very tiring.

Identify target companies before hand, and if possible connect with recruiters and hiring managers. Generally the ones attending job fairs tend to be more junior and not final decision makers. Nevertheless, they will be influencers and will make a difference to whether candidates are advanced in the process.

Devise a plan for the day, perhaps going to see your top choice companies in the morning before the recruitment team get hiring fatigue and while you are at your sparkling best. You can always call by at the end of the day to make sure they remember your face.

3. Updated CV

For job fairs use a CV with a photo so the interviewer will connect you and your CV when he/she is back at the office. Take multiple CVs  – very often you will need a different one tailored specifically for each organisation. There may also be several people at the stand.

You can send  it on the spot if necessary.

Back at base these CVs will be inputted into a data base, so strong key-worded resumes are vital for easy future retrieval.

4. Interview attire

Dress as if you were going for a formal interview or smart casual.  What seems like an informal chat is an interview by another name. Most students don’t dress to impress and become a blur of T- shirts, jeans and the ubiquitous back pack. Stand out from the crowd.

5. Prepare, Perfect, Pitch

Preparation is critical to success.  You may only have two to five minutes to sell yourself to really need to make the most of your time. Use your 30 second commercial to create a dialogue. You may need multiple versions. Don’t forget general common courtesies and body language, especially eye contact, handshake and smile are key! As are all the usual common courtesies. If you are going to practise anything at all  – make sure your basics are in place.

Prepare your own questions to show that you have researched the company and ask what they are looking for and what you need to do to make the cut. If you feel the interview is not going as planned – perhaps they are not looking for candidates in your discipline for example, you can always ask for a network referral.

Some companies offer a “Golden Hello” to candidates they are really interested in and offer signing on bonuses. Check this out beforehand rather than raise it at the interview, unless you already have a similar offer from another organisation. Discounts on student loans or other financial incentives, are great perks at the start of a career.

6. Network

Job fairs are great opportunities for networking and informational interviews. If there is a programme of career workshops or other presentations sign up. You can get a lot of excellent tips and maybe network with the presenters. If you see a stand with no one in line but not on your target list, you can always chat to the company representatives. It helps build up your general market knowledge and networking skills in a low-risk environment.

Yes, of course it’s more fun standing in a queue with your friends, but you risk becoming part of an amorphous group. You want to stand out! Do not take a parent. If a parent does drive you – leave them in the coffee lounge while you take care of “business”.

Have some business cards printed to distribute. If you are studying, use your USP under your name.

7. Follow-up

Many job-seekers fail to follow-up after interviews or connections made at job fairs. Ask for a business card of the company representatives and if you can connect with them on LinkedIn. That’s another way to re-enforce an impression. Your own profile should be impeccable, carrying the same photo as your CV.

You can send any contact a thank you email with a copy of your CV. Use that email to reposition yourself and  to re-confirm your interest, re-iterating your main skills. I have seen recommendations to leave a voice mail on a mobile phone.  I suggest that would depend on how well you connected with the interviewer. Some may find it intrusive. If you know the next steps also confirm those  – especially timeframes. Strong candidates are being courted early and fast by top companies, so it’s important to have an understanding of  the process, especially if you receive multiple indications of interest.

Good luck!



Why there’s only one new year’s resolution to make in job search

Make it a big one!

“In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.”  Tony Robbins

I’m a well documented contrarian when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. I think particularly with job search that goals should be ongoing and strategic. It’s no use setting any goals  in January and only to forget about them during the rest of the year. But there is a lot of hype associated with the start of a professional new year and this week is the first back to work after a protracted break for many.  It’s perhaps better to tap into the momentum of the zeitgeist than ignore it.

So instead of setting multiple potentially short-lived, minor goals  – go for  just one. But think big.

Commit to taking control of your job search.

This is particularly important for the behavioural and serial procrastinator who avoids taking on any tasks because of the complexity of choice, perfectionism, or fear of failure.  Procrastination is ‘the art of keeping up with yesterday and avoiding today.”  says Wayne Dyer.

I worked with a client this weekend for the first time who bemoaned the inequities in the recruitment system, only to find that two days before a major interview he was not familiar with the content of the hiring company’s website.   His lack of past success and confidence,  I suspect can be attributed to the fact that he was simply inadequately prepared.

That is his responsibility and totally within his control. 

But with a new year and new challenges,  the task can seem daunting. To avoid falling into the trap of  “in one year out the other” what can be done going forward?  Simply make a basic commitment to taking control of the elements of your job search where it’s feasible and possible to do so.


So much of this process  is in the hands and at the whim of others or  impacted by happenstance.

These are the elements outside your control:

  • The number  and quality of  other applicants
  • The organisational structure
  • The recruitment process
  • The perception of others
  • The personalities of others
  • The questions posed
  • The decision-making process

So that means we should firmly take control of the things where and when we can.

Within our control we have:

  • —Our mind set
  • Our personal appearance and image
  • —CV content and presentation
  • —Online presence & content
  • ——Non verbal communication
  • Verbal delivery
  • —Responses and pitches prepared
  • Constructive and effective interaction

If a job seeker struggles with any of these critical components in  job search on an ongoing basis,  and can’t  or doesn’t take control,   then some basic questions need to be asked perhaps with professional help.

The hard truth about soft skills


The hard truth about soft skills -they can make or break your career
Great quote from Peggy Klaus – The hard truth about soft skills they can make or break your career


Hard skills are the foundation of a successful career.  But soft skills are the cement

Five years ago it was normal to have a line at the top of a CV just stating a professional objective. What we are seeing now is a marked shift. Most companies are less interested, in the early stages of a hiring process at least, in what a candidate wants personally.

Hiring managers are more focused on the needs of the organisation. What does this candidate do well and can he/she do that for us? Usually followed by  “how quickly?”   To successfully convey that message  a succinct synthesis of your career path is required, joining the dots between hard and soft skills distilling it into a coherent story with a snap shot of any achievements.

I read hundreds of CVs and professional profiles a week. It is my job to identify potential talent behind quite often poorly written presentation.  Even though I have many years’ experience  I am sure I miss excellent candidates. Others who are less experienced and don’t know what to look for can do this consistently.  It’s not that there are typos ( those resumes are immediately cut) but these profile simply don’t tell a compelling story, giving their background and career coherence.

Hard skills

Their resumes will come to my attention (or other executive search specialists) probably because of the high incidence of hard skills in the text which will carry a heavy weighting in terms of keywords. This could include: education, job title, professional training and so on.  That CV would make the 3% of CV which are read by a human eye.  But unless that resume or professional profile tells an engaging account, the chances of the phone being picked up are slim.

If you do get lucky and speak personally to someone in the hiring process, but are not able to articulate those success stories verbally, you will not continue through the  remainder of the process.

It is therefore imperative to bring clarity and show coherence around your career story as early as possible. You should be able to do this effectively both in writing and orally.


  • Lack of self insight  – they simply don’t do the hard yards and take the time to look into their own careers. It’s a lot of work and probably the most significant career management  exercise anyone will do. Ever. It’s a life skill and once mastered can be used regularly as part of an annual career review and goal setting exercise.
  • Arrogance  – this is not what they have always done.  The “old way” might have worked well once, but times and expectations are changing.  Panic sets in when  a problem  is encountered (e.g. job loss, professional disappointment)
  •  Fear of bragging  – many simply don’t want to appear to brag. This is very common but particularly  noticeable with women. I coached a woman recently and based on her CV I thought she was   “communications counsellor”. The reality was that when she retold her story personally and somewhat circuitously,  this is not her function at all. She is actually a senior political media and government relations strategist,  and in one role  launched and led communication campaigns for one of the world’s most renown leaders. This tapped into a whole host of soft skills she is still in the process of naming.
Soft skills cement a career

Soft skills cement a career

Risks of not doing this

Candidates who fail to pull their career history into a coherent story suitable for delivery in writing can appear to have what one senior HR Manager in Belgium  recently described as ” a collection of short-term moves, which can be a symptom of professional instability and/or lack of ability/willingness to make and hold long-term commitment to a team/company and/or to a mandate with a set of heavy challenges requiring significant time investment into a definite position“.

This takes on greater significance if in a five generation workplace where Boomers, very often in hiring roles,  struggle to understand that for younger candidates,  the length of time spent in any position is shorter today than it was thirty years ago. Economic circumstances have also resulted in general churn between 2009 -2012 and will need explanation.  One CV was recently cut from a process for having seven positions in fourteen years. Some see that as job hopping for others this is strategic career advancement. 

There is no short cut to being able to perfect this process. It requires insight to pull the threads of a career together and present them in the best possible light. Hard skills also date over time. So although they tend to be the foundation of a successful career, it’s the soft skills required to achieve results that provide the cement.

A professional summary that can be delivered in writing and person is a vital tool, not just in today’s job search market but as part of a long-term career strategy.


Job seekers help yourselves! 8 back to basics tips

Back to basics I have been conducting a search for a position in a geographical region in Europe that is hard hit by recession. I read in the press that unemployment levels are high, so I anticipated being overwhelmed by job seekers with difficult selection decisions to make.

I was wrong

To my astonishment I have found that even the most basic job search tips are not being implemented. So, as with any activity it’s sometimes  necessary to re-visit the  fundamental tenets simply to get the basics right. Perhaps they were never there to start with, or perhaps for some they have slipped by the wayside.

8 back to basics tips

Here are 8 of the most basic tips that seem so obvious that you would think that all job seekers would be doing them. I can assure you they are not!

  1. Be visible –   a complete online professional profile is mandatory on one of the main  international networks: LinkedIn, Viadeo, Xing – or any of the more local ones. This is especially relevant if you are unemployed.
  2. Check who has viewed your profile –  if it’s a head hunter or recruiter – contact them.
  3. Be easily contactable  - make yourself easily reachable with as a minimum an email address on your professional profile. If you are afraid of spammers – open up a separate account for job search. If you want to post a phone number so much the better.
  4. Check your mails  – if you are looking for a job or unemployed you should be checking your emails multiple times a day even at weekends and holidays. This applies also to your professional profile mail box.  I came across a LinkedIn profile that said “looking for new challenge” which is job search speak for unemployed. The individual responded to me after 3 weeks because he had been on vacation and the search was finished.
  5. Respond  promptly to contact requests.
  6. Have a current CV instantly available  to send immediately to any prospective recruiter.
  7. Be available for interview –  different parts of Europe have any number of public holidays and close for periods in July and August. If you can’t forfeit a public holiday, or don’t want to be interrupted on your time away to engage in a job search process now,  you may find yourself taking a much longer vacation than intended and one that you can’t afford.
  8. Pay it forward – if you are not interested personally share with your network. Do someone else a favour.

If you know any job seekers looking for a new opportunity or unemployed, share this post with them. It might help!

Are you a job search bore? Story telling and job search

Craft an interesting story!

Craft an interesting story!

Story telling is a talent.

There are some natural raconteurs who have the gift of the gab. Most of us with less ability have to work on developing those skills. Many will wonder why that matters at all – but the reality is that it does.

Don’t people just want to know where we’ve worked and what we’ve done? Yes and no. They also want to hear what we’ve achieved,  but delivered in such a way that we don’t sound arrogant and pompous, or make them nod off into their coffees in utter boredom.


Being able to synthesise and take an overview of our own lives and deliver it in digestible soundbites,  that promotes engagement and creates dialogue takes a lot of work, especially to do it well.  Our story line,  whether this takes place in a networking event, in  a social situation,  in a formal interview or even on a date, is going to be very different each time.

I like to use the metaphors of hats. We wouldn’t wear a fascinator to the office or ski helmet to a cocktail party (at least not unless we were a little weird). There are times when we need to take one hat off and put another one on.   The type of information we highlight will also vary according to the context.

Just as if we were beinfascinatorg introduced to someone at a dinner party we wouldn’t  deliver our life story in historical order,  but pull out nuggets of interest, because to do otherwise would be really dull.  We have all been cornered by the sports bore who will give detailed, blow  by blow accounts of their last match or game. Or the doting parent who discusses their children ad nauseam. Or the divorcee who rants interminably about their ex.

Job search  

Anyone involved in the hiring process will tell you that the casual ” Tell me about yourself ” is a trick question!  Most responses will cover a chronological account of professional lives backed up by  the detail of the tasks carried out   “….in 1996 I joined Better Company as a Sales Executive  servicing accounts in x region.. and then in 1998 I moved to ” and so on.

Almost immediately eyes will glaze over as the hapless candidate delivers a 5 minute monologue,  giving a task focused chronology of their career,  rather than extracting key elements of interest.  I’ve also seen good story tellers be unable to transfer their verbal energy into the written word.  This is why many are disappointed about disappearing into a cyber black hole and not getting that vital call to an interview.

But even when that does happen, an interview can seem to be give us permission to deliver a soliloquy.  But this is a false impression. What is being looked for is an indication of what we are good at and whether we can bring that success into a new business environment.

How compelling is your job search story ?

7 thoughtful job seeker details I would thank you for

Thoughtful details count!

Thoughtful details make a difference!

Or why the devil is in the details!

I don’t have a great eye for detail so it’s something I have had to be mindful of throughout my career.

But, I have found, there are two types of attention to detail in job search.

This detail can make a difference between you and the cyber black hole or the job seeker’s trash can.

The first is self sabotaging carelessness : Much is written about the mistakes that job seekers make with long list of careless errors and cautionary caveats. If those errors get to bother me, then you can be sure they are glaring. For my detail focused colleagues you have already induced bouts of frenzied perfectionist palpitations. Result – you have been cut. But I’m not going to focus on those. I’m going to focus on the other kind of details!

The second is value adding detail : These are the extra details that are thoughtful and considerate, those additional elements that add value. These are the details I (and others) will THANK YOU for. Why? because they make my life easier and smoother. They can even help me avoid making mistakes myself.

  •  File saving for easy retrieval: Thank you for naming your file so it can be saved and retrieved easily by the recipient,  not some generic incomprehensible code for your own system : JNV_CV_Jan2013 is one I saw this week. Who is JNV?   Try: JohnNVaughan_CV_ MarketingManagerXcompany. I saw one suggestion of using a Name + USP as the file name.  That’s not a bad idea. Just make sure you have a short USP. Please use both names too!
  • Easy copy pasting: Thank you for not using a pdf format. Someone like me may need to copy/paste your details onto a data base or into an address book.  We can’t carry 8 numbers in our head for 20 seconds. This could lead to mistakes in transferring the information and is one reason why you get lost in job search space. Job seekers worry that someone might alter their CV. If you are sending your document to a reputable person this will not happen, unless it’s to improve it for a client. Otherwise, trust me we don’t have time.
  • Sensible email address – firstname.lastname@provider, thank you for facilitating easy retrieval. If you have a common name something as near to possible as you can manage.
  • Insert  hyperlinks: into your text so we can click-through easily to your LinkedIn profile and email address.  Thank you for saving me time.
  • Connect with me on LinkedIn:  it puts you in the forefront of our minds, shows you are switched on and another thank you for that time saver.  
  • Send a thank you mail:  I’m not one of these people who would expect a hand written note. In fact personally I would prefer not.  But a thoughtful email goes down well and sets the scene for another opening. Thanks for that too and for not adding to my paper recycling pile!
  • Source - not the right candidate?  Offer to share with your network. In these tough economic times that is helpful and considerate to any number of people. We will all thank you!

What other extra details are important to you? 

Get out of the job search advice maze

Navigating the job search maze

Create your own Job Search Advisory Board

If you  Google “job search tips” there are 460 million entries. Now I haven’t looked further  than the first 3 pages, but I can imagine they contain some widely differing nuggets of advice.  Add to this,  the well intended input from friends, family, colleagues and bosses, it’s hardly surprising that the average job seeker is scratching his/her head in bewilderment.

Only last week I heard that one client had been advised from someone in Germany not to create his own web site when he was actively looking for corporate opportunities, as well as freelance consulting work.  Another was told to dumb her resume down  by a university friend,  so not unsurprisingly was getting cut after either the first screening or interview.   Another was advised not to connect with people he didn’t know personally on LinkedIn by a colleague nearing retirement. Another was advised by a neighbour that a certain professional networking event wasn’t worth it!

So what can you do when there are so many different opinions and how does the average job seeker navigate his/her way through this veritable maze of job search advice? The answer is with considerable difficulty.

 Get on  Board
One way to get over this problem is to strategically create your own advisory board to give you varied, but focused access to a range of opinions.

But how do you go about this and who should you include?

  • Set job search goals and create a strategy:  for most jobs seekers this key first step alone gives necessary focus.  It cuts out the scatter gun approach of “asking around” and sending your CV to a group that is simply too wide.
  • Research – your sector and chose companies thoroughly. Target them.
  • Create a strategic network -  identify a number of  individuals who can mentor you and answer your questions. Choose different age ranges,  locations, backgrounds and personality types to create your very personal Job Search Advisory Board. As the CEO of your own brand you can synthesise the results and take your own decisions Who do you need?
    • An up to date source -  A group of connections with more opinions than experience of job search will not be helpful. You need someone who has been in the job search market or associated with it in some way during the last 3-5 years, otherwise the chances are they are out of date. The market is changing at a rapid pace and it is very hard to keep up with,  even for those who work in the sector.
    • Age  range -   people tend to network and seek advice in their own age demographic.  Some are strongly bound to the way their age group does (or has done things) things.  Get a cross-section of input.
    • Cultural differences - there can be marked differences between corporate, sector, professional, regional and national cultures.  Someone seeking a job in the construction sector in Germany,  will have and need a very different approach to an U.S. based Marketing Manager. Once again get a cross-section advice.
    • Personality types  – We all have different styles. If you are an introvert, the approach of your extroverted advisor may fill you with horror and bring you out in a cold sweat,  but there could still be some lessons to learn. Likewise the extrovert could profit from some lower key approaches of a more reflective personality.

Whatever you do:

  •   Monitor your results –  if you are not getting any results at all, something needs to change even if it means going out of your comfort zone.  We can all get stuck and caught up in rigid thinking. Experiment.  Create a web site, put professional details on Facebook, connect with someone you don’t know personally, attend networking events you were told may not be useful.
  • Trust your gut  – if something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t, at least for you. Go back to step 1! Find what is right for you and don’t be afraid to change.
  • If all else fails seek professional help.

How do you filter  job search advice? 

Are you ready for a professional emergency landing?

Many of us sit on aeroplanes, especially frequent flier business trips and watch the cabin crew go through the emergency procedures with tuned-out indifference. We know the drill because we’ve seen it possibly hundreds of times in our lifetimes. Despite the commentary that all should pay attention, we dutifully turn off our electronic devices as instructed, read our books and magazines, chat to our colleagues and fellow passengers or simply settle in for a good movie, a nap and perhaps an inferior meal. After all the odds that anything will happen to us are slim. Right?

Workplace parallels
Sadly, despite the pace of unwelcome change which has become a hallmark of our economies, this is not too dissimilar to the view many take of the workplace. We have all seen many excellent people blindsided and ill-equipped to make an emergency landing which causes us to flail around in search of life-vests and oxygen masks.  This can be because of redundancy,  a merger, a take- over or any other unforeseen business circumstance. As the cold winds of recession blow through our economies, the reality is that having a professional emergency landing procedure in place is now taking on increased significance.

This is the professional equivalent of knowing the exact location of the emergency exits.

Need support during a difficult transition? Check out the individual coaching programmes.

So how can we do this? Here are 7 strategic career contingency measures:

  •  Up to date professional skills - it’s important to be current in this area. Many people take their feet off the pedal in terms of professional development , quite often in mid-career and find themselves lacking particularly in relation to newer (read cheaper) employees. It’s important not to become complacent and to view education as an ongoing exercise.
  •  Work on your network – many job seekers tap into their networks only when they have a need, by which time it’s too late. Networking should be an ongoing effort.
  •  Pay it forward – the more you can do for other people when you are in a position to do so makes it easier to ask for reciprocation at a critical time.
  • Create a financial reserve – it’s hard to define in precise terms how long it could take to find another job. You could be lucky – but generally executive searches take about 3-6 months. Today the suggestion is that it can be as much as 9 months. So although it is hard in today’s economic climate, sound advice would be for all of us to have a reserve  “disaster fund“ of a minimum of 6 months to cover critical  expenses. One of the most terrifying aspects of job loss is the gnawing anxiety of how to meet fixed overheads.  It’s a good idea to make sure that key financial contact details are in your address book.  How well do you know your bank manager?
  • Invest in professional support – many individuals seek career support when they are desperate: it might be when they have already lost their jobs or are facing any other sort of career blip. It is important to treat a career with the same strategic analysis as one might any other housekeeping exercise. In the words of John  F. Kennedy “ The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining”. 
  • Look after you -  Job seekers with family or other obligations worry about letting down their families and their ability  to support their nearest and dearest.  But just as a cabin attendant will exhort  passengers to put on their own life jackets and oxygen masks first and then look after their dependents,  the same is true for the person looking for a job. Putting your own needs first will ultimately be in the best interests of the people who rely on you.
  • Leave your luggage behind  – this is always one I imagine I might struggle with if tested,  but the logic resonates nevertheless. Sometimes our baggage gets in the way and we have to let it go and take that step into the unknown to protect ourselves.

So are you ready for a professional emergency landing?