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Look for the Member icon of the International Association of Employment Web Sites. It signifies the Sources of SuccessÔ on the Web.


WEDDLE's Tips for Success
When Looking for a New or Better Job On the Internet

Please select the tips listed below that are of interest to you:

 

A Career Antidote to a Deep Recession & a Shallow Recovery

Today’s economic cataclysm has changed the world of work forever.

If you try to manage your career as you always have, if you use old fashioned techniques to look for a new or better job, you are likely to suffer career cardiac arrest or what most of us call unemployment.

And sadly, that’s exactly what a lot of people are doing. They haven’t kept their skills up-to-date. Their ability to make a contribution commensurate with their experience has atrophied. Even their network of contacts has all but withered away.

Historically, such an out of shape career didn’t matter much. You could be laid off and, with little or no change in your credentials, hit the job search trail and in relatively short order, find another, similar (or even better) position. Basically, we had a come-as-you-are job market.

Unfortunately, those happy days are gone and gone forever. Why is that? Remember the jobless recovery of the 2001 recession? Well, this recession built on that development to create the “less jobs” recovery. When things start to get better, there will still be fewer jobs—not more or even the same number—as there are right now, during the recession. Jobs aren’t being left open until things get better. They are being destroyed.

What does that mean for senior professionals and executives in transition? Now, you have to enter the job market in a very different way. If you want to find employment in the new world of work, you have to fix your career first. Or, at a minimum, you must be fixing it while you’re searching for a job. But, the point is that Step 1 in a job search today—not step 2 or 3 or 4—is to upgrade your capabilities and your credentials. From now on, you have to have a strong career if you want to conduct a strong job search.

What’s the best way to do that? Think of yourself as a career athlete, even better as a career Olympian. As I describe in my new book, Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System, Olympians have four attributes that will serve you well in the challenging workplace of the 21st century.

Career Olympians are:

  • Independent. They decide where and when they will work and under what conditions. It might be for one organization rather than another or as an independent contractor, but they determine the content and duration of their activity, not their employer.
     
  • Passionate about what they’re doing. They love what it entails and are energized and fulfilled by its execution. The accomplishment of their work actually strengthens and conditions their self-expression, exhilarates and rewards their personal growth, and leaves them with a pervasive sense of well-being. Indeed, the doing of it creates a pleasurable physiological response—what is sometimes called “flow”—that replenishes their spirit as well as their body.
     
  • Committed to achieving their personal best. A successful career athlete continuously strives to excel and then to extend the limits of their performance. There is no end to their effort because they believe there is no limit to what they can achieve.
     
  • Sure of themselves. Career development is a democratic activity. All of us have a mind, so all of us have the inherent ability to engage in and enjoy the work we do with it. Sure, some of us will perform better than others, but all of us can be career athletes, and all of us can reach for and attain the peaks of our own personal excellence.

We can’t become successful career athletes, however, by simply stating our intention to do so. We also can’t rely on serendipity or depend on fate or good fortune, and we certainly can’t look to our employers to make it happen. We won’t transform ourselves into career Olympians by wishful thinking or by being loyal and dependable and showing up for work every day.

In today’s demanding workplace and tomorrow’s, there is only one sure way to establish ourselves as career athletes, and that’s to practice Career Fitness. We must care for our careers the way we care for our physical health. We must build up their strength, endurance and reach. If we do that, we can alter the possibility in our jobs and in our careers from simple survival to prosperity and fulfillment.

How do you translate the concept of Career Fitness into a fit career?

As with physical fitness, you have to condition your career on a regular and repetitive schedule. You have to develop occupational strength, endurance and reach by working on your seven centers of career vitality. I call these loci of activity the Career Fitness “exercises.” They are:

I. Pump Up Your Cardiovascular System The heart of your career is your occupational expertise, not your knowledge of some employer’s standard operating procedures. Re-imagine yourself as a work-in-progress so that you are always been adding depth and tone to your workplace knowledge and skill set and memorializing that enlarged capacity on your resume.

II. Strengthen Your Circulatory System The wider and deeper your network of contacts, the more visible you and your capabilities will be in the workplace. Adding to your network, however, means exactly what the word says—it’s netWORK, not net-get-around-to-it-whenever-it’s-convenient. Make nurturing professional relationships a part of your normal business day.

III. Develop All of Your Muscle Groups The greater your versatility in contributing your expertise at work , the broader the array of situations and assignments in which you can be employed. Develop ancillary skills—for example, the ability to speak a second language or knowledge of key software programs—that will give you more ways to apply your primary occupational capability in the workplace.

IV. Increase Your Flexibility & Range of Motion In the 21st Century world of work, career progress is not always a straight line, nor does it always look as it has in the past or stay the same for very long. Moving from industry-to-industry, from one daily schedule to another or even from one location to another is never easy, but your willingness to adapt will help to keep your career moving forward.

V. Work With Winners Successful organizations and coworkers aid and abet your ability to accomplish your career goals, while less effective organizations and less capable peers diminish it. Working with winners enables you to grow on-the-job, develop useful connections that will last a career and establish yourself as a winner in the world of work.

VI. Stretch Your Soul A healthy career not only serves you, it serves others, as well. A personal commitment to doing some of your best work as good works for your community, your country and/or your planet is the most invigorating form of work/life balance. It regenerates your pride in what you do and your enthusiasm for doing it.

VII. Pace Yourself A fulfilling and rewarding career depends upon your getting the rest and replenishment you need in order to do your best work every day you’re on-the-job. The human body and mind have limits, and those limits cannot be extended by multitasking or even a Blackberry. Instead, you have to discipline yourself and your boss to set aside time to recharge your passion and capacity for work.

Understanding what’s involved in these exercises and then performing them on a regular basis is the foundation of a ”system” for building Career Fitness that everyone—mid-career professionals, executives and managers and those just embarking on their careers—can use effectively. It is all laid out in my new book, Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System. Think of it as a plan for preserving and protecting your future in the world of work.

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The Language of Success Online

Millions of job openings are now posted on the Internet, but every one of them is invisible. They’re open and available to you, but you can’t see them. How can you uncover these opportunities and spot the ones that interest you? It's easy … if you'll learn a few simple rules for speaking to computers.

When you open the classified ads in a newspaper or professional journal, all of the openings appear right in front of you, on the printed page. Jobs that are posted on the Internet, in contrast, are stored in computerized databases. Nothing is visible until you tell the computer what kind of jobs you'd like to see.

While all job board computers are different, the vast majority accept instructions that are based on a single set of rules. These rules were devised by a 19th century British mathematician by the name of George Boole. He established the logic by which factors are presented so that their relationship to one another can be clearly and accurately understood. In job databases, these factors are the characteristics you seek in your dream job.

For example, if you're looking for a facility manager position in the hospitality industry that pays a salary of $50,000 and is located in Milwaukee or Green Bay, Wisconsin, Boolean rules will enable you to present those criteria so that the computer understands exactly what you want. Thanks to that clarity of expression, you can be sure that you won't waste a lot of time uncovering positions in which you are not interested or, even worse, overlook one or more positions in which you are.

The following list summarizes the most important Boolean rules. To get the best results from any specific job database, however, study its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and use its online tutorial, if one is provided.

Rule #1. The characteristics (i.e., the individual words, terms or phrases) that you use to describe your dream job are called “key words” on the Internet. They are normally entered in all lower case letters because capitalization makes them case sensitive. In other words, if you capitalize a key word, the computer will identify only those jobs where that word is capitalized. If you use all lower case letters, the computer will identify every job that contains the word, whether it is capitalized or not.

Rule #2. To link two characteristics together, both of which are required in your dream job, use the Boolean operator AND. Boolean operators are normally expressed in all capital letters. In the example above, you might use the following expression to tell the computer what kind of job you want: $50,000 AND hospitality. This expression tells the computer that you want it to identify any job in its database that offers both characteristics. It must pay $50,000, and it must be in the hospitality industry. If either one of those factors is missing, you do not want to see the job.

Rule #3. To tell the computer that the characteristic for which you are looking is a phrase rather than a single word, use quotation marks. For example: "facility manager" AND $50,000 AND hospitality.

Rule #4. To link two characteristics together, either one of which is acceptable in your dream job, use the Boolean operator OR. For example, Milwaukee OR "Green Bay". Note that using capital letters with city or state names is acceptable as they are seldom expressed any other way.

Rule #5. To link two characteristics together when they are part of a longer set of characteristics, use parentheses. For example, "facility manager" AND $50,000 AND hospitality AND (Milwaukee OR "Green Bay").

Rule #6. To account for the fact that different people use different terms to express the same idea, always include any synonyms of your characteristics and, wherever possible, use a Boolean operator called a wildcard.

  • To identify other terms that employers might use to describe the characteristics you seek in a job, review the vocabulary in their print employment ads. For example, you may find that some employers use the term Property Manager synonymously with Facility Manager. Hence, you should instruct the computer as follows: ("facility manager" OR "property manager") AND $50,000 AND hospitality AND (Milwaukee OR "Green Bay").
     
  • Sometimes the variability in expression is simply a derivative of the same word. For example, an employer might use the term "facility management" to describe the "facility manager" job for which you're looking. The wildcard enables you to tell the computer to look for any and all terms that are based on the same root word. Hence, the term "facility manage*" (the asterisk is the wildcard) would tell the computer to find any job with a characteristic that is expressed as a derivative of the root word, manage.  
Using Boolean expressions is a little like learning to speak pig Latin. It’s not an elegant way to communicate, but it can convey information so that is accurate and comprehensible. Equally as important, anyone can do it, and with even a little practice, become expert enough to find their dream job and make it visible on the Web.

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How to Tell the Good, From the Bad & Ugly in Job Postings

Over half of all U.S. workers now say they are either looking for a new job or intend to do so in the next year. They will also undoubtedly make the Internet a central component of their search. But, once they get online, what exactly will they do? There is certainly a wide array of job search tools available on the Web. They include:

  • archiving a resume in an online database for employers to review,
  • reading the advice and information that’s available at career portals,
  • networking with peers in association discussion forums, and
  • reviewing the jobs posted on employer Web-sites and commercial job boards.
  • While all of these activities are popular, the last has truly caught the public fancy. According to an 8+ year survey we at WEDDLE’s have been conducting, the one thing most Internet job seekers do when they go online is look at job postings.

    These announcements, however, are very different from traditional employment ads. They don’t appear in the format of a print classified and aren’t restricted to the tight space constraints imposed by newspapers and journals. As a result, you’ll need a new set of rules for reading and evaluating job postings if you’re to avoid wasting time on mediocre employers and focus your attention and efforts where they can best advance your career. I’ve devised he following five rules to help you do just that

    Rule 1: Look at the level of effort the employer has devoted to writing the job posting. Most commercial sites allow employers to use up to 1,400 words (the equivalent of two typed pages of text) to present their opening. That’s plenty of space to describe both the key characteristics of the position as well as the organization’s mission and culture. If an employer is too lazy or unwilling to take advantage of that space and simply re-posts classified ad copy in cyberspace, you have to ask yourself whether it really values the people who work for it. Informed candidates make smart employment decisions, and keeping you in the dark simply increases the likelihood that you and/or the organization will make a mistake.

    Rule 2: Evaluate what the posting says the position can do for you. Employers that focus exclusively on a position’s “requirements” and “responsibilities”—what the job will do for them—fail to understand that employment is an agreement between two equal parties. Both have to get something out of the deal, or it’s unlikely to last. What should you look for? The best postings will describe a number of key factors:

  • What you will get to do,
  • What you will have a chance to learn,
  • What you will be able to accomplish, and
  • With whom you will get to work.
  • That’s what a job will do for you.

    Rule 3: Check the “candidate friendliness” of the posting. Employers that write helpful postings are implicitly saying something about their culture. If an organization goes the extra distance to help virtual strangers (i.e., online job seekers), it’s likely to go even further to support and advance its employees. How can you spot that kind of employer with a job posting? Look for those that:

  • provide all of the information you need to make an informed decision about the opening,
  • anticipate your questions about the job and provide complete and candid answers before you even ask,
  • offer a question and answer feature with which you can address any issue not covered in the ad, and
  • include detailed instructions—written in English, not techno-babble—about how to send your resume over the Internet when applying for the job.
  • Rule 4: Look carefully at the details. The best job postings are rich in data. They include specific information about the organization, the opening and the way you will be treated should you choose to apply. You, in turn, can use these details to assess your fit with both the position and the organization. What data do you want to see?

  • Salary information in numbers, not empty phrases like “competitive” or “based on experience,”
  • A detailed description of the skills and experience you will need to be successful in the position,
  • Complete information about the organization’s benefits, advancement policies and work arrangements (e.g., is telecommuting or a flexible workday possible), and
  • A statement that indicates how your privacy will be protected should you decide to apply for the position.

    Rule 5: Return the favor. Don’t become a “graffiti candidate,” one who sprays their resume out to every job posting they read. It takes time and effort for an organization to write a good job posting (which is informative, detailed and helpful to you), and that investment deserves a quality return. So, don’t respond to ads when you’re clearly not qualified for the opening or don’t live in the area where it’s located. All that does is undermine the employer’s satisfaction with the results and diminish its commitment to writing a good job posting for its next open position.

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    What to Leave Out When Leaving the Nest

    Stay-at-home professionals are a new kind of worker. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 105,000 men and 5.2 million women who had opted out of their profession, craft or trade to serve as their family’s primary care-giver in 2002. Whether it was a matter of choice or was dictated by circumstances in the labor market, they went from working in their career field to working on the soccer field. Experience shows, however, that many of these stay-at-home professionals will eventually decide to reenter the traditional world of work. When they do, it’s important to provide the right description of their home front stint on their resume.

    Some career counselors believe that breaks in traditional employment should be camouflaged on a resume. The thinking here, of course, is that employers will consider such “interruptions” in your career to be a disqualifying factor for employment. They will assume that you are not up-to-date in your profession, craft or trade and that you have lost touch with the key issues in your industry. To prevent such conclusions, therefore, these counselors suggest that you omit dates of employment altogether from your resume or use broad enough time bands to conceal your absence from the workforce.

    The truth, however, is that hiding a break in employment on a resume does not keep an employer from discovering it. In most organizations today, the interviewing process is going to probe your background in detail and will almost certainly uncover the time you spent at home. Then, you will be in the position of having to explain why that information was not on your resume. Recruiters and hiring managers will begin to wonder if you have something to hide. Was your absence from the workforce based on a personal or professional decision or was it caused by a jail sentence, an illness or something else even worse?

    My advice, therefore, is that you include the period at home on your resume and that describe it just as you would every other employment situation. You were working, after all, just not in the office. Indeed, the vast majority of recruiters and hiring managers relate just as well to the work that’s done in the family as they do to work performed in the office. They know something about the challenges that are faced and the effort that is required to care for children and manage a household. Therefore, it’s not only appropriate that you should acknowledge your time in the home, but that you should also provide an appropriate description of the work you performed there.

    What is an appropriate description? I don’t think you should itemize the daily chores on your resume. On the other hand, I do think you should list anything that might demonstrate skills, knowledge and attributes that would stand you in good stead when working for an employer. For example:

  • Any time spent reflecting on your career and reaffirming your commitment to your profession, craft or trade,
  • Any study programs in which you were involved or reading that you did to keep abreast of your field and industry,
  • Situations or events where you were able to demonstrate leadership and other work-related skills (e.g., managing the budget for a youth group, organizing a fund raiser for a local charity),
  • Steps you took to stay connected with your colleagues and others in the workforce (e.g., attendance at local chapter meetings of your trade association, networking you did at professional listservs online).
  • The goal is not to make your time spent at home sound as if you were in the office, but rather, to demonstrate that, on top of all of the other responsibilities you had as a primary care-giver, you also kept yourself “office ready.” Now, there are two points that should be made here:

  • First, you must, of course, tell the truth; don’t say it unless you did it. Embellishing your record in the home is just as dishonest as embellishing your record in the office.
  • Second, if you haven’t done anything to keep yourself “office ready,” now is the time to get started. Doing so won’t make up for the time you didn’t spend, but it will at least demonstrate your commitment to catching up.
  • “Interruptions” in your career are only truly interruptions if you did nothing during them. Working at home is just as much a job as working in the office (and a large and growing number of our associates in the world of work recognize that). Indeed, I believe it is a noble and worthwhile occupation that should be proudly displayed on your resume. Admittedly, it does not keep you at the cutting edge in your profession, craft or trade, but you can take steps to address that situation. And, if you describe those steps with candor and confidence, you are likely to distinguish yourself as a candidate and put yourself ahead in the race for a great job.

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    Research with a Purpose

    Research has always been a key element of any successful job search campaign, and the Internet is a dream source of employment-related information. There’s both good news and bad news when it comes to conducting research online, however. The good news is that the Internet is rich in easily accessed and helpful information. The bad news is that so much information is at our fingertips, it’s hard to know what to focus on.

    How can you organize your online research to make sure that it generates the information you need to find a new or better job? Recent studies suggest that you should concentrate on two key areas:

  • preparation for interviewing, and
  • networking.
  • This column is the first in a two-part series that will explore how to tap the Internet’s information sources in these key areas.

    Interview Preparation

    Despite urban legends to the contrary, an astonishing number of Internet job applicants actually get an interview. The only way to capitalize on that happy outcome, however, is to be well prepared. Your preparation should include acquiring information about both the organization with which you will be interviewing and your current “value” in the labor market. The more you know about the employer, the better able you will be to assess its fit with your goals and preferences. And, the more you know about the salary and benefits currently being offered to others with your skills and experience, the better able you will be to negotiate an appropriate compensation package for yourself, should the organization follow up the interview with an offer.

    The Internet has many sources of information about employers. They range from simple descriptions of an organization’s industry, product or service lines, executives, facility locations, stock price and recent news releases to much more detailed assessments of its financial stability and subjective assessments of its culture and practices.

  • For company summaries, try Hoovers Online (www.hoovers.com). You’ll be able to access some information for free, but will have to pay for in-depth research;
  • For descriptions of individual companies and even a list of the interview questions they typically ask of candidates, study the Company Profiles and Company Interviews posted at Wetfeet.com;
  • For press releases issued by a company as well as references to it in business analysts’ reports and the media, search Google.com and Yahoo! using the company’s name and the names of its executives;
  • For financial information about publicly traded companies, check out the Edgar database of the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (www.sec.gov);
  • For a specific company’s perspective on its business prospects and employment opportunities, visit its Web-site, paying particular attention to its Careers area; and
  • For opinion and commentary about what it’s like to work for an organization, take a look at what its current and former employees are saying around the “Electronic Watercooler” at Vault.com. Although the postings can be insightful, recognize that some are heavily influenced by personal agendas.
  • The more prepared you are for an interview, the more likely it is to go well. That being the case, it only makes good sense to be equally as ready to discuss an offer. Happily, there is also a great deal of salary-related information available on the Web.

  • For the latest compensation and benefits trends in your profession or industry, visit the Web-site of your professional association or trade organization. The easiest way to find these sites is to use the free, worldwide Association Directory at my site (www.weddles.com);
  • For current salary information in your occupational field and region of the country, visit the Salary Wizard at Salary.com, the Salary Info links at Job Star (www.jobsmart.org) and SalariesReview.com, which lists salary information for 5,800 U.S. and Canadian locations. You’ll have to pay for some of the information at Salary.com and all of the information at SalariesReview.com, but the fee is modest compared to the financial impact of selling yourself short when negotiating with an employer; and
  • To compare the cost of living in your current location to the cost of living somewhere else, check out the Moving Calculator at Homestore.com and the Salary Comparison Calculator at Monstermoving.com.
  • As in the real world, research on the Internet can be time-consuming and marginally helpful or it can be efficient and very productive. To make sure that your research pays off, focus on acquiring information that will help you interview effectively with prospective employers and secure a compensation package that reflects your true “value” in the labor market.

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    Research With a Purpose Redux

    This column is the second in a two-part series dealing with how to use the Internet for employment-related research. There is an almost overwhelming array of information available online, so it's best to focus your research on key areas where it will help you the most. Recent surveys suggest that two such areas are interview preparation and networking. The first dealt with conducting research on an organization with which you have an upcoming interview; this column will explore the research you can do online to expand the reach and the effectiveness of your networking.

    Networking has never been more important and potentially more useful than it is today. Making contact with friends and colleagues has long been recognized as a vital part of any job search campaign, and the Internet dramatically increases the number of people you can reach and the speed with which you connect with them. The key is to use the research resources available online to locate people with whom you have lost touch and to reinvigorate those relationships.

    Most of us have college classmates, former associates at work, and friends from professional organizations with whom we are no longer in touch. These contacts can help you open the door at more employers, introduce you to a new circle of hiring managers, and acquaint you with individuals who have special insights on or knowledge of the job market. Equally as important, they are also inclined to be helpful to you because of your prior relationship.

    How can you track down these former friends and colleagues on the Web?

  • To find a former friend's address, telephone number or e-mail address, use the meta-search engine at www.theultimates.com. It enables you to look through seven different online directories of contact information, all from one easy location and at no charge.
  • If you’re looking for a former business colleague, check out the database of individual dossiers at Eliyon.com. It holds records on over 20 million people, all of which you can search for free, simply by entering the name of the previous employer where you both worked.
  • If you think your contact may still be a member of some professional society or trade association, you can check with it to see if they are still listed on its membership roster. To find association sites (and, potentially, an online roster), use the free Association Directory at my Web-site, www.weddles.com.
  • To reach a former college classmate or roommate, check the alumni association site of your alma mater. If you're not sure of its Web-site address, search the college and university directories at:

  • Google and
  • Yahoo!.
  • To reach a former friend or colleague who once shared your interest in a particular hobby or activity, check newsgroups (which are nothing more than online discussion areas) and the homepages of virtual communities that might have online discussion forums on that topic.

  • There are over 100,000 newsgroups or "virtual water coolers" where people chat by e-mail about topics ranging from astronomy and astrology to zoology and playing the zither. To find a specific newsgroup, look through the Groups directory at Google.
  • Among the largest virtual communities are Yahoo! Geocities and America Online’s Hometown. You can search their member homepages at no charge.
  • Finally, a word of caution: Once, you've located a former friend or colleague's contact information, make sure that you re-connect with them carefully. Although you may remember them well, it's possible that their memory of you might have faded a bit. So, begin by reminding them of your previous relationship, and then, be short, polite and to the point:

  • If you're actively looking for a job, briefly bring them up to date on your career (since you were last in touch) and ask for their suggestions or assistance.
  • If you’re networking for the future (and, that’s never been more important to a successful career), indicate that you are simply trying to re-establish contact and ask about what they've been up to.
  • As in the real world, networking online can be an effective way to increase your visibility in the job market and your awareness of interesting employment opportunities. Best of all, the research resources available on the Internet enable you to expand your "address book" of contacts exponentially and, as a consequence, power up the effectiveness of your networking.

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    An Average Guy or Gal in Poughkeepsie

    As many of you know, Thomas L. Friedman’s book The World is Flat has occupied the top spot on The New York Times best seller list for several months now. In it, he recounts a discussion he had with Microsoft chairman Bill Gates about what Gates calls the “ovarian lottery.” Gates describes it this way: Thirty years ago, if you had a choice of being born a genius in Shanghai or an average worker in Poughkeepsie, the rational person would have chosen the small town in New York. Why? Because even a worker of average capabilities would have had a better life in Poughkeepsie than the most brilliant person living in China’s leading center of commerce.

    Thirty years ago, the rules of the game were clear and well understood by everyone. In fact, there were just two:

    • You had to work hard; and
    • You had to be loyal to your employer.

    If you played by those rules, you could expect to enjoy decent employment compensation and genuine employment security for the whole of your career. As a consequence, you would be able to have all of the trappings of the American Dream. You could afford to buy a home, drive a late model car, eat out occasionally, take a vacation every year, and still have a little left over for a Valentine’s Day gift.

    This good living was available to the best and brightest among us, and in the United States of America at least, it was also within the budget of the average guy or gal. To put it another way, you could enjoy the highest standard of living on earth, while producing an average level of work. Whether your “C” level performance was a matter of inherent capability or personal choice, you could count on being able to find an employer willing to hire you and a job with a decent paycheck. It was the best of times … and it ended in 2000.

    By then, several factors had begun to change the World of work forever:

    • There are now many more people around the world who are willing and able to do some or all of the work we do;
    • These workers are easily connected to our employers by new telecommunications, more powerful computers, and the Internet; and
    • They can deliver the same caliber of work (or better) that we can and are willing to do so for less pay than we will.

    As a result, if you had a choice between being born a genius in Shanghai and an average worker in Poughkeepsie today, the rational person would opt for Shanghai every time. Does that mean we are destined for a dramatic decline in the American standard of living? I don’t think so. It does mean, however, that we are destined for a dramatic change in the way we work in order to achieve that standard of living. We can no longer deliver mediocre work or work for employers or in industries that produce mediocre products and services and expect to earn a paycheck that will support the highest standard of living on the planet. The rest of the world is now competing for what we have, and they’ve changed the rules of the game in the process. To put it another way, the competition has made the average or “C” level performer obsolete.

    If you want to enjoy the American Dream, you have to adapt to the World’s new rules. Working hard and being loyal to your employer will no longer ensure your ability to find an organization that will hire you and a job with a decent paycheck. Instead, you have to:

    • work smart, and
    • be loyal to yourself.

    These are the new dynamics of a successful career, whether you live in Poughkeepsie, New York or Pomona, California.

    Work smart

    The sole source of success in a highly competitive World is performance. It is the key to both decent compensation and genuine employment security. We have to be at the top of our game, and we have to play for winners. It’s our individual responsibility (not our employer’s) to ensure that:

    • Our skills and knowledge are at the state-of-the-art in our profession, craft or trade. No less important, we must deliver those skills and that knowledge on-the-job every day. In short, we have to work as “A” level performers.
    • and
    • Our work must be done for an employer and in an industry that have a future. We can be superior performers and still find ourselves without a job, if what we produce is no longer competitive in the world’s marketplace. In short, we have to work for “A” level employers and industries.

    Be loyal to yourself If success were enough to guarantee happiness at work, then working smart would be all that’s required of us. Happiness in our workday, however, is built with both on-the-job success and from-the-heart accomplishment. It requires that we be the best we can be in a role that engages and fulfills us. In other words, we must not only do good at work, but we must do what we believe is good work. And the only way to achieve that goal is to be loyal to ourselves. Self loyalty means that:

    • We are loyal to our employer by delivering the highest possible level of performance on-the-job. This loyalty to an organization, however, is also a form of loyalty to ourselves because it’s up to us to put ourselves in a position where we can do our best work. We have to stop accepting the wrong jobs and/or the wrong employers and complaining about them, and start finding the right jobs and the right employers and doing work that fulfills us.
    • and
       
    • We regularly seek new opportunities to expand and express our capabilities. This unceasing quest for self-improvement is the way we compete and win in the new World of work. Sometimes it will mean a move within the same organization, and other times, it will dictate that we move on to another employer. In every case, we make the decision, and the goal is the same: to protect the American Dream for us and our families by outperforming those who want to enjoy the Indian or Chinese or Sri Lankan Dream.

    Whether the World is flat or not, it is certainly a more competitive place. We cannot survive in this environment by holding ourselves above the contest or by wishing it will go away. No, the only way to endure in this new World of work is to win, and the only way to win is to be better than the other guy or gal wherever they may live.

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    Feature: If All You Hear Is Silence

    If you’ve done everything you should, and nothing has happened. If you’ve conducted research on employers in your area, written an up-to-date resume, networked with colleagues and friends, and replied to the openings for which you’re qualified, and still all you hear is silence, then it’s time to reinforce your job search. Sure, it’s frustrating and dispiriting, but the situation can be improved if you take action. In fact, the one course you must avoid is simply to continue doing the same old things over and over again. If you’ve given the standard methods your best effort and they aren’t working, then you have to adopt a new approach. Think of it as a power bar for your job search.

    This “pick-you-up” has just six steps. It’s important that you do them all. Don’t cherry pick the steps you like and ignore the rest. Do every one, even those that may push you a bit out of your comfort zone. That’s how this new approach works. It energizes your job search by sharpening strengths you already have but are not using effectively and adding new capabilities that will enhance your position in the job market. They’re all essential, however, if you want to hear something other than silence. The six steps follow.

    Stay confident.
    Today’s job market is one of the most competitive in history. It’s not easy to capture a good position, let alone a great one, even if you’re doing everything right. Yes, you will hear stories about others who landed a dream position fifteen minutes after they started looking. Remember two things about them: they’re the exception to the rule and the next time around they may not (and probably won’t) be so lucky.

    Don’t get overconfident.
    To be truly competitive in this job market, you must be ahead of the state-of-the-art in your profession, craft or trade. How can you do that?

    • If you haven’t taken a formal education or training program in your field within the last five years, you’re at least partially obsolete. Enroll in a developmental program right now—there are many offered online that you can take in the comfort of your own home—and then promote your commitment to staying up-to-date on your resume. List the institution at which you’re enrolled and the name of the course you’re taking, followed by the phrase (In Progress). That tells recruiters you’re committed to self-development, a trait most employers love to see.
       
    • If you have kept yourself up-to-date in your field, get ahead of others who may have done so, as well, by taking supplemental courses that will make you an even more attractive candidate. For example, if you speak English as a second language, enroll in a business English class; if you speak English as a primary language, enroll in a Spanish class or in a business writing class. The ability to communicate effectively in a pluralistic business environment is a potent competitive advantage in today’s job market.

    Modernize your networking.
    Traditional face-to-face networking is still an important component of any job search, and you should continue to invest time and effort in both making connections and contacts that can position you for a successful search and improving the skill with which you do so. However, it’s now equally as important to stretch your networking into a new dimension—the Internet. Networking online enables you to expand the number of people who know you and thus may be able to assist in your job search.

    Where and how do you do it? By joining the discussion forums that are available on sites operated by your professional association, your alumni organization and/or affinity group (e.g., sites for veterans, women in technology, African-Americans in finance). Limit your time investment to no more than 30 minutes a day, but do participate. The Golden Rule of Networking is the same online as it is in the real world: you have to give, in order to get. Share your knowledge and experience with others so they will be inclined to share theirs (and the jobs they know about) with you.

    Stop using a generic resume.
    Recruiters know your resume was written on a word processing system, so they are well aware of how easy it is to modify the document. That fact has radically changed their expectations. They are longer satisfied with a generic resume accompanied by a cover letter that relates the resume to their specific opening. Instead, they want the resume, itself, to be tailored to the position and the cover letter to highlight the key competitive differences that are described in the document and make you the candidate they should select.

    Tailoring a resume to each opening for which you apply obviously takes time, so adopting this approach necessitates another change in your job search strategy. In essence, it forces you to abandon the scatter-shot method of application—applying for any opening where you are even partially qualified—and replace it with a more focused strategy in which you limit your efforts to those opportunities where you are truly competitive and most likely to be engaged by the work involved.

    Start making better use of job boards.
    There are more than 40,000 job boards currently in operation. No single one of these sites can bring you every employment opportunity for which you are qualified and in which you are potentially interested. For that reason, it’s important to use a range of these sites regularly. I suggest that you put at least five of them to work for your job search:

    • 2 general purpose sites or job boards that post openings in a broad spectrum of professions, crafts and trades. These might include the employment section of your local newspaper site (e.g., BostonWorks.com, NJ.com) or such sites as Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com and Yahoo! HotJobs.
       
    • 3 niche sites or job boards that focus on a specific career field, industry, geographic location or affinity group. These sites might include JobsinLogistics.com, JobsinME.com (the state of Maine), Medzilla.com, VetJobs.com, NVJobSearch.com (the state of Nevada), Jobs4HR.com, and TrueCareers.
    • A word of caution is in order here. With so many options available to you, it’s important to be a discriminating consumer. Not all job boards have the same capabilities and, unfortunately, not all are operated in accordance with good business practices. How can you tell the difference?
       
    • To evaluate the various features and services at sites, you can use The Guide to Internet Job Searching by Margaret Riley Dikel or my own WEDDLE’s 2005/6 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet. Both are available in most bookstores.
       
    • To select sites that have agreed to operate by the best practices in business (e.g., protecting the confidentiality of any personal information you submit to the site), I recommend that you focus on job boards that have joined the International Association of Employment Web Sites. This organization is the trade association of job boards, and its logo on a site is your “Good Housekeeping seal of approval” that indicates a well run organization.
    • Finding a great opportunity and winning the race to capture it is a tough challenge for anyone in today’s highly competitive job market. If you’re not having the success you want, it’s time to move to a new approach … and add some power to your job search campaign.

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    Feature: The 7 Bad Habits of Ineffective Job Seekers

    Habits can be good for you. As Stephen Covey pointed out in his landmark book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the right behavior patterns can propel you to great success. Unfortunately, however, there’s also a dark side to habits. Habits can be good, and they can be bad. And, the wrong behavior patterns can constrain your opportunities and, ultimately, derail your advancement in the world of work. What are the bad habits of online job search? With a nod to Dr. Covey, I think there are seven.

    I call them The 7 Bad Habits of Ineffective Job Seekers. They are:

  • Habit #1: Limiting the time and effort you invest in your job search
  • Habit #2: Limiting the research you do to plan your search campaign
  • Habit #3: Limiting your search to a handful of the same job boards
  • Habit #4: Limiting your application to clicking on the Submit button
  • Habit #5: Limiting your use of the Internet to reading job postings
  • Habit #6: Limiting the care you take with your communications
  • Habit #7: Limiting the preparation you do for employer interactions
  • As is readily apparent, bad habits are all about limitations. These self-imposed constraints curtail the jobs you see, the impression you make, and the opportunities you’re offered in the job market. Let’s look at them in more detail so you can be sure to avoid them.

    Habit #1: Limiting the time and effort you invest in your job search
    As the old axiom goes, looking for a job is a full time job. That’s true whether you’re conducting your search online or off. A job search on the Internet, however, exposes you to many potential distractions that are not found in the real world. There’s e-mail and browsing, chats and discussion forums, online poker and other games, and a host of other forms of entertainment, exploration and communication. And the key to job search success is to put them all aside. You must dramatically limit the time you spend on such activities and maximize the time you spend using the Internet’s job search resources.

    Habit #2: Limiting the research you do to plan your search campaign
    The #1 reason people don’t work out when they’re hired by an employer is not that they can’t do the job, but that they don’t fit in. In other words, they take the right job with the wrong employer. Doing careful, thorough research helps you avoid the negative consequences of such a situation: When you go to work for the wrong employer, your performance goes down which can, in turn, hurt your standing in your field; you waste time that could have been spent searching for your dream opportunity—the right job with the right employer; and you risk losing that opportunity to someone else who’s active in the job market. To put it another way, inadequate research virtually guarantees an inadequate work experience. And the alternative is right at your fingertips. Use the Internet to assess alternative employer’s culture, management, values and performance, and the focus your search on those organizations where you’re likely to feel comfortable (and do your best work).

    Habit #3: Limiting your search to a handful of the same job boards
    There are over 40,000 job boards in operation on the Internet. In addition to the ones that you’ve seen advertised, there are thousands and thousands of others that you may not have heard about. Collectively, they post over two million new openings every month. To find your dream job online, therefore, you have to use enough sites to cover the job market and the right ones to satisfy your search objective. The formula 2GP + 3N + 2D will ensure you do that. It involves using two general purpose sites that offer opportunities in a broad array of professions, industries and locations; three niche sites, including one that specializes in your career field, one that specializes in your industry, and one that specializes in the geographic area where you want to live; and two distinction sites that focus on one or more of your personal attributes (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, college, military service). I call it the 7:1 Method; use seven of the right sites to find the one right job for you.

    Habit #4: Limiting your application to clicking on the Submit button
    The competition for jobs today, particularly the best positions, is simply too tough for you to do nothing more than show up online and submit your resume. If you find your dream job and want to position yourself for serious consideration by the employer, you have to practice the “application two-step.” Step 1 involves submitting your credentials exactly as specified by the employer and exactly for that job. It’s a test to see if you can follow instructions and will take the time to tailor your resume for the position you want. Step 2 involves networking to set yourself apart from the horde of other applicants who are also likely to submit their resume for that opening. Your goal is to find a personal or professional contact who works for the employer and will walk your resume in the door of the HR Department and lay it on the desk of the recruiter assigned to fill your dream job.

    Habit #5: Limiting your use of the Internet to reading job postings
    As in the real world, recruitment ads posted online reveal only a portion of the job market. There are many more openings, including some of the best positions, that aren’t advertised. To find this so-called “hidden job market,” you have to make contact and develop relationships with others online. That’s called electronic networking. It’s done by participating in discussion forums and bulletin boards hosted on the sites of such groups as your professional association and college alumni organization. To get the most out of your involvement, practice the Golden Rule of Networking: Give as good as you get. Share your knowledge and expertise with others in these online discussions, so that they will be inclined to share their knowledge of job openings and their connections in the workforce with you.

    Habit #6: Limiting the care you take with your communications
    E-mail is often viewed as an informal communication medium where typos and slang are not only appropriate, but expected. When you’re looking for a job, however, e-mail is strictly a business communication. Every message makes an impression on the recruiter and other representatives of the employer who receive it, and that impression becomes a part of the data used to evaluate you. To make the right impression, carefully edit and proofread every message before you send it off. Don’t use stilted or flowery language, but do be formal and professional in what you write. Take the time and make the effort to eliminate grammatical errors and misspellings and ensure that your points are clearly and accurately expressed. Doing so tells the employer that you take pride in what you do, and that attribute makes you a stronger candidate.

    Habit #7: Limiting the preparation you do for employer interactions
    In today’s highly competitive job market, the interview begins in the first nanosecond of the first contact with an employer. That means you have to be well prepared and at the top of your game virtually all of the time. What does that entail? First, make sure that you thoroughly investigate each employer to which you apply. Visit its Web-site, use a browser to search for information published by other sources, and check out the commentary and research available at such sites as Vault.com and Wetfeet.com. Then, use the formal and informal educational resources on the Internet to stay at the state-of-the-art in your field and up-to-the-minute on your industry. Finally, use the information and insights you’ve acquired to hone your ability to articulate the contribution you will make to the employer, during every interaction you have with its representatives. All of us get into a rut from time-to-time. We put ourselves on autopilot and fall back on habits. It’s a benign way to relieve some of the workload and pressure in today’s demanding business environment. When you’re looking for a new or better job, however, those ruts can be harmful; they can lead to behavior that limits your opportunity and potential success. They are the 7 bad habits of ineffective job seekers—the ruts in the road to your dream job.

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