Posts Tagged ‘job seeker’

X-Men, Coaching & Rewriting the Future

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

x-men-days-of-future-past-professor-xMany moons ago when I married my husband, I was NOT a sci-fi fan. It was about last on my list of favorite movie genres, right above horror films. Give me a British drama or chick-flick any day of the week, but “no thank you” to sci-fi.

 

How things change. I soon learned that if I wanted to see a movie with my husband, I needed to be open-minded to what he liked. And so I’ve learned to appreciate movies like the X-Men and Inception and 2001 Space Odyssey. Last weekend, the whole family went to see X-Men’s latest release, Days of Future Past. Without spoilers, the movie points out how our choices today can impact not only our lives but many others’ lives in the days to come.

 

shutterstock_29017780(1)As a coach, you can imagine that “I’m all over that!” Choices create change. We all know that choosing to eat healthy today (and every day) will help create health in the decades to come. For business owners, choosing to spend time on marketing today will help create new business in the months to come. For job seekers, choosing to pick up the phone and have meaningful conversations with networking contacts today will create trust and more job opportunities in the weeks to come.

 

For change to happen, we need to create an environment conducive to change (the “helpful how’s”), and we need “inspiring why’s” associated with the change. Let’s start with the latter. Let’s say you want to change your financial situation for the better.

 

  • shutterstock_88446508(1)The Inspiring Why’s: We all have reasons for why we want something. To achieve significant change, go beyond the obvious. For example, perhaps you want to boost your finances because your child needs braces for her teeth. That’s a valid reason.

    But stretch a bit to think beyond this. What do those braces represent? Is it a life of greater confidence for your child? More opportunities for her? Better dental health down the road? Or maybe some of the “inspiring why” has to do with you: The opportunity to feel like you have provided well for her? The ability to learn something new (how to market better, how to provide a new service, etc.).

    If you really, really want to create change, go deep with your “why’s”!

 

  • shutterstock_150769385(1)The Helpful How’s: How does your environment need to change to help create change? Is it that you need to surround yourself with experts, mentors, and role models who inspire you? Is it that the television or Netflix needs to get turned off? Is it that your calendar needs to get rearranged so that activities that bring the highest income and highest impact take priority? Is it that you need to clean your desk so you’ve got room to create and hear yourself think?

    All of the inspiration in the world (the “why’s” above) won’t create change. It must be paired with meaningful action!

 

So think about what you want in the future. Then consider: What’s your “inspiring why”? What’s your “helpful how” to conduce change? Share your story!!

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What’s your Wiring–Growth and Gain or Drought and Drain

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

garbage-in-outGIGO. Garbage In, Garbage Out. The same can be said about the wiring in our brain. Wiring that we have created over the decades, whether intentionally or unintentionally, may be good and helpful, or it may be bad and draining/disruptive.

The good news is that if you’ve got a negative habit or thought pattern that you’d like to get rid of, it’s just a matter of creating new wiring. That allows us to change the GIGO acronym to Good In, Good Out. Sound good?

So how do you create new wiring? Here are four ways to flip the “on” switch in your brain. There are 2 F’s and 2 R’s, or F2R2 for short:

 

shutterstock_1327892121.       Focus: What we focus on grows. Research showed that participants who were blindfolded for 30 minutes began growing new neural pathways in the auditory processing areas of their brains.  So choose where your focus will be this week: is it on growth and gain or is it on drought and drain?

 

shutterstock_1047168292.       Future: Looking into the future kicks our brains into the prefrontal cortex where we can envision the future, see possibilities, explore options, and create a picture of what we’re moving toward. Whether you want to look  years down the road or 6 minutes into the future, think about what you want to create.

 

shutterstock_1265292593.       Reward: When you are expecting a reward, your brain will be more attentive. What’s the reward you want as a result of your future focus? Is it more income, more clients, more job opportunities, more peace? Name the reward. Explore it. Flesh it out in your mind. What’s your reward?

 

shutterstock_929713214.       Relevance: To create new wiring, the topic must be relevant to your needs. Learning how to speak Chinese (if that’s a goal) will not be easily attained if there isn’t some relevance attached to it. It (learning Chinese) will quickly be drowned out by the barrage of other competing priorities. So make sure your goal is relevant for this time-and-space in your life. Rate it on a scale of 1-10. If it’s not a high score, what needs tweaked in order to make it higher?

 

If you’re working with job seeker clients, this one question can encompass all four of the above F2R2 elements: What do you want to focus today that will you move you toward your rewarding and relevant goals?

The question can also work for us individually as coaches. So what’s your focus?

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Networking Even Works for 17-Year-Olds

By Emmeline Whitcomb | 1 Comment »

Guest blogger Emmeline Whitcomb

Emmeline_Whitcomb_Photograph

Emmeline Whitcomb

Growing up as Susan’s daughter, I’ve heard her ‘preach’ networking over and over again. At 17, I tried some of these techniques for myself and, no surprise, found them to be successful. Here’s the story of how I landed my first job as a Marketing Intern. There are lots of details here, which shows that networking to land a job isn’t a straight, simple line. And if you just want to jump to the end to hear what I learned about networking, feel free!

The process started 6 months ago. Back in March of this year, I was on the Southern Methodist University (SMU) campus interviewing for a prestigious scholarship. During the two-day interview event, there were multiple panels featuring different types of programs and activities on campus. One panel in particular included the Career Center, represented by the director and one of his employees. After the panel and open-floor questions, Susan pushed me to meet with the director immediately after the session. I asked if it would be all right to come in the next day and meet with him to ask a few questions. But my main goal in setting up the meeting was simply to make a connection with people at one of the most important places on campus.

shutterstock_99172223The next day Susan and I met with him. It was a little uncomfortable for me due to the fact that I was still a senior in high school and not very far along on my career path. Still, I was glad to be able to ask him questions about what employers wanted from college students. At the end, I gave the director a signed copy of my book, Wisdom Without the Wrinkles, full of inspiring bits of insights and wisdom designed for tweens and teens. A few days later, I sent him an e-mail thanking him for his time and connected with him via LinkedIn with a personal message, rather than the LinkedIn default message. Nothing happened immediately, but it was a connection I was extremely grateful to have later on.

Fast-forward three months to June at the 2013 MBA Career Services Council Conference in Washington D.C. During my time attending as an intern (and daughter) with Susan and The Academies, I was able to connect with multiple people in the career and recruiting world. While sitting down with two recruiters from national companies during dinner the first night, I asked if they had any advice on how to be exceptionally successful during my first year of college. One recruiter mentioned that it would be good to look into a work-study job at the Career Center because, in addition to the experience, I might also be able to get a first look at new jobs and meet recruiters.

Later during the conference, I was able to meet several people working at SMU in their MBA program, including the Career Center Director for SMU’s Cox School of Business. Now, it might have been normal for me to think, “She’s so high up on the academic ladder. How could she possibly be interested in talking to me?” But, I didn’t let that scare me into not talking with her. I told her I was planning on majoring in Marketing, which is in the SMU Cox School of Business.

She was gracious enough to offer to connect me with the Associate Director in the Cox Business School who specializes in coaching marketing students. At the end of that same day, I sent the MBA Career Director and other helpful people I had connected with a follow-up e-mail thanking them for their advice.

Jaymin_Patel_Emmeline_Whitcomb (By the way, I followed the tips in Jaymin Patel’s book, The MBA Guide to Networking Like a Rockstar. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it—and it’s not just for MBAs!)  Here I am on the right with Jaymin Patel.

 

I made sure to ask the MBA Career Director about connecting me with the Associate Director. About a week later, I received an e-mail from the Associate Director saying that the MBA Career Director had told her about me. I replied professionally and promptly to set up a time to meet with her in-person when I was going to be on campus for Orientation at the end of July.

During my Orientation, I made sure to go back to the undergraduate Career Center to ask about job opportunities, as suggested by the recruiter I met over the summer. I walked in and stood in line for only 30 seconds before I noticed the Career Center Director, whom I met with back in March, casually walking down the hallway. After we exchanged “hellos” I told him I was exploring internship opportunities at the undergraduate Career Center. He quickly responded with a friendly “Well, sit down!” for an impromptu meeting, where he told me about all the positions available for students. He mentioned a Marketing position (my intended major!) and said I could come in the next day to talk about the job with him and some of his colleagues.

That next day, I first had a meeting with the Associate Director for the business school (the marketing expert), whom I had been emailing with over the summer. Before I said anything, she showered me with praise over my e-mail skills. (Mostly because I had made sure to be prompt and professional—again, thanks, Jaymin!)

shutterstock_110884730When we met, I made sure I had a few on-point questions prepared—asking for her advice on the things she specialized in. Other than that, I allowed the time to be a period that I could simply make a connection and get to know her. At the end of our meeting, I told her that I had previously looked her up on LinkedIn and found that she had worked at the undergraduate Career Center where I was headed next for my informal interview. Once I mentioned that I was about to go meet with the Director and a few of his teammates, she immediately became excited for me and said that she would send them a short recommendation via e-mail as soon as we were done talking.

I then went straight from the Associate Director’s office to the undergraduate Career Center for my informal interview. Before I could even sit down, they mentioned that the Associate Director had just contacted them with a positive reference of me! When the three interviewers at the Career Center asked me if I had any questions, I made sure to ask some! I stayed engaged and inquisitive during the entire conversation.

shutterstock_116237026Three days later, the formal listing and written application for the job would be available. By the fourth day, I got an e-mail from the Career Center asking me if I would like the student marketing position. My obvious answer: YES!

To me, the amazing part of this story is that it happened because I forced myself to be courageous and talk to successful people who I thought were “too high” for me. But, that’s exactly what got me the job: a trickle down of references.

So here’s a recap of what I learned about networking:

  • Take initiative and look for opportunities.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to people, even if they are far above you in rank or position.
  • Ask people for their advice—be willing to admit that you don’t know everything.
  • Keep up with people over time. It takes more than one email to build trust.

I hope my networking success story will encourage the job seekers you work with!

—————

Emmeline Whitcomb is currently a freshman attending Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, pursuing a Marketing degree as a Hilltop Leadership Scholar, a Hunt Leadership Scholarship Finalist, a Career Development Ambassador, and for personal enjoyment, a member of SMU’s well known a capella group! At 16, Emmeline wrote a leadership book designed for teens called Wisdom Without the Wrinkles: A Teen’s Insights on How To Be a Successful Leader, Earn Respect, and Create an Amazing Life. Emmeline highly values joy and accomplishment in life and has dedicated much of her time to mentoring others. Her message that perspective changes everything has inspired teens to find confidence and success despite life’s challenges. She is also a co-author of Girls Lead, written by Julie Marie Carrier and the BeYOUtiful Club and will continue to write and speak at events to be able to share inspiring and positive messages to young teens around the country.

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Pumping Up the Interview Pipeline: The Difference between Openings and Opportunities

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

If you’re working with clients who are in job search mode, they’ll want to be sure to have enough interviews in their pipeline! More interviews mean more options. Too often, people in career transition pin all their hopes on just one interview, thinking their ship has come in, only to see it turn into a sunken dream. If you see clients who are experiencing this scenario, you know it can really take the wind out of their sails. On the other hand, there is nothing more empowering than having options.

To help your clients increase their options, increase their opportunities. Notice the emphasis on opportunities instead of the more common terms, postings or openings. There’s a world of difference between the two. Let’s take a look!

Definition:

Openings: An advertised position soliciting a predefined skill-set to perform specific tasks.

Opportunity: An unadvertised position or situation where a job seeker’s skill-set can contribute to company/shareholder value.

Job Seeker Positioning:

Openings: In openings, the candidate has a tendency to come as a “supplicant” on bended knee, positioned in a role to sell and convince others of his or her worth.

Opportunity: With opportunities, the candidate has the ability to come as a “value proposition,” positioned as a business solution or service.

How Accessed:

Openings: Candidates comb through online postings and print want-ads to apply; human resources then winnows to make the volume of resumes manageable, eventually conducting a formal, structured interrogative interview process.

Opportunity: Candidates target companies, then read, research, and conduct “focused networking” with people who will lead them to conversations with decision makers; needs are uncovered and value-based solutions offered through an informal, fluid inquiry/discovery process.

Materials Needed:

Openings: Traditional resume and cover letter.

Opportunities: Knowledge of company/hiring manager needs and how the candidate’s strengths and brand can deliver a return-on-investment; targeted resume or SOS (solution or service) letter; project proposal.

Quantity:

Openings: Limited and restricted to those companies in hiring mode.

Opportunities: Potentially limitless and unrestricted, as the focus is about building long-term relationships while exploring opportunities and innovations that will benefit the company’s bottom line.

Competition:

Openings: Typically stiff when advertised broadly.

Opportunity: Minimal; the candidate is often competing only with himself/herself.

Who Controls the Process:

Openings: Controlled by human resources; usually a predictable process 2-6 month process.

Opportunity: Controlled by hiring manager and decision makers; less predictable process.

Human Resources:

Openings: Actively soliciting and screening applicants.

Opportunity: The human resources department is often unaware that a “job seeker” is even on the premises.

Connections:

Openings: The candidate is typically anonymous and an unknown commodity.

Opportunities: The candidate builds relationships that lead to being trusted and gaining insider status because of recommendations by colleagues, employees, and/or friends.

What the Employer Looks For:

Openings: Features (an ideal “wish list,” such as number of years of experience, degree, skill set, and so on).

Opportunities: Benefits (solutions or services offered) that will make the company money or save the company money, making the candidate a valuable asset that boosts the bottom line.

Employer’s Preferred Method of Contact:

Openings: Anonymous submission of electronic or paper resume.

Opportunities: Often email or telephone to start, and eventually face-to-face exploration, although it can start with face-to-face in informal business networking or social networking situations.

Effectiveness:

Openings: Leads to jobs 5-8% of the time.

Opportunities: Leads to jobs 58-62% of the time
(source: Drake, Beam, Morin).

Understanding and embracing these differences will give your clients an edge in their search! You, as an experienced coach, already know this. The challenge is helping the client be open to this as well.

  • Start with some discussion to increase awareness around the difference between openings and opportunities,
  • Ask how effective the client has been focusing only on openings (probably not very!),
  • Inquire about what an opportunity would look like, and then
  • Explore how they can start looking for opportunities, as well as openings.

Clients will see a major shift in their search when they do!

Interested in learning more job seeker tips to share with your clients?  Join us for the next Certified Job Search Strategist class beginning November 29, 2012.  Register now and save $400 (use promo code SEARCH).

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