If you are out there looking for a new house to haunt, wouldn’t it be a huge help to know the right ghosts and goblins? They could make some introductions for you, get you a meeting with the right ghoul. You know the one – the big ugly one who is guarding the gate to that amazingly rundown house you really want to haunt.
So, what do you do, shuffle off home thinking it’s hopeless and your cauldron probably has too many cracks anyway?
You don’t have to! This Halloween treat yourself to some goodies and snack on these job search essentials that are certain to give your search a sugar high!
What is the scariest part of searching for a job right now?
Looking for a job right now certainly can be scary! We are in the middle of a pandemic and high unemployment rates aren’t going away anytime soon. Add to that the most chaotic presidential election any of us can remember and civil unrest and we have a job market that is influenced by culture, health, politics, and the economy. If you are looking for a job right now, the one thing you’d better be is prepared. Being prepared means knowing your unique value. “You have to be not waiting for somebody to determine that your skills and experience could be what they need to get them from point A to point B,” said Saundra Botts, an ExecuNet Career Strategist. Job searchers who cannot effectively articulate their unique value will find this job market very scary indeed. Companies will not try and determine how you could fit their needs. It is up to you to understand your value and to explain how you are the solution to their problem. This is the single biggest challenge job seekers have, as they do not even realize just how much work they actually realize they need to do in this area.
How do you explain what seems like a career of wandering through a cornfield maze?
Don’t think of yourself as a wandering zombie! It’s all about storytelling, and if you don’t fill in the gaps you can be certain the recruiter or hiring company will. Don’t leave it to chance! Own the move and explain how the assignment came to an end because you accomplished your goal and left to find your next challenge. It took many jobs to accumulate all the experience they are so interested in — why be ashamed of that? Everyone knows executives tend to move around. If along the way you were a casualty of downsizing or a company’s pivoting in a different organizational direction, that’s okay. It happens and people understand it, especially since the ’08 recession and the pandemic.
Your perspective is key. Your perspective is the story you tell. “If you are responding to the topic as a deficient, then it will be perceived as a deficient,” says Andrea Briscoe, an ExecuNet Career Strategist. If you tell a story of job hopping or employment gaps as a problem, then those things will be a problem in the ears of anyone listening to what you have to say. But if you instead are telling a positive story of a journey of leadership and achievement, of challenges met and skills and abilities acquired, then your listeners will hear the job hopping as wise stepping stones in a journey and the gaps as necessary transitions of no consequence.
Ghosts and goblins are everywhere! Who is going to help you find the right job?
At Christmas time, people get together to give gifts, while on Halloween people go to people’s houses to get candy. Networking is more like Christmas. If you want to be good at networking the best thing to remember is to approach it with a mindset of giving. With a giving mindset, you’ll find people will be pulled toward you. People who approach networking with a “me” mindset do not elicit much help. Give and help others, without keeping score, and they will seek to return the favor more times than not. “If you pay it forward, it will pay you back,” says Pat Romboletti, an ExecuNet Strategist. You will create better, more valuable connections if you simply try and be helpful to other people.
How should you deal with the skeletons that come out of your closet during an interview?
The gatekeeper at the old, broken-down haunted house you to want haunt wants to know about a mistake you’ve learned from. Your pumpkin patch didn’t grow very big pumpkins last year. Do you give the details of how you didn’t do a very good job? According to ExecuNet’s Director of Coaching Services Harriette Lowenthal, you can shine in this situation. She suggests outlining the challenge that was in front of you, what action was taken/not taken, what was the target that was missed, and what you learned from it. Once you’ve done that, Harriette says, it’s key to “immediately plug in a different example that’s somewhat similar where you were able to apply that learning.” Be prepared to show multiple examples like this, as they demonstrate your adaptability, judgement, tenacity, analytical skills, humility, introspection, etc.
Do they want younger witches?
So what if your cauldron has a few cracks in it?! You cannot control your age. However, you can control where and the way you apply for a position, and how your network supports you. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated for SEO with the correct search terms and an engaging message that consistently speaks to your value. Identify your market niche and target those companies where you have experience and contacts. At your level, the first contact should not be the resume; it should be a trusted mutual contact. Target smaller companies and those with leadership close to your age. Companies like that are much more open to people who can address their pain-points, regardless of age.
Control what you say and the tone you create. All too often candidates bring a defensiveness about their age into an interview, creating an issue that didn’t have to be there. The best thing candidates of any age should do is focus on the value they can bring right now, on the problems they are the solutions to right now. Highlight that you bring functional expertise, a global perspective, recognition of obstacles and opportunities, the ability to deal with crises, solid accomplishments and the ability to work with all generations. “Have marketing materials that brand you, pre-package and pre-sell you so that you and your accomplishments stand out. Don’t worry about hiding your age on your resume. You can downplay age a bit by listing only your last 20 years and chunking your experience into sections – but it’s so easy to determine age today that trying to hide it is not a good idea,” says ExecuNet Career Strategist Susan Blazer.
Get in shape. Buy a new suit. Get familiar with the latest technology. And one last thing: do not use “seasoned” on your resume…you are not a meatloaf!
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