Top Ten Gifts for Job Seekers

It’s that time of year again – the time of year when we fill the malls looking for the perfect gifts.  Is there a job seeker on your list?  It’s unlikely you can find them a job to wrap up and put under the tree but here are some gifts that they might really appreciate.

  • A new dress shirt and scarf/tie – these are things that are bound to make them feel better as they step into their next interview
  • A month of LinkedIn Premium – you can read about that here.gift
  • A couple of hours with a career coach
  • A compilation of the best career podcasts or TED Talks
  • A gift subscription to a magazine. A real magazine that comes in the mail.  That way when they go to the mailbox, there will be something good to look at instead of just bills.
  • A gift certificate from Vistaprint for business cards or personalized thank you notes
  • Resume review with an experienced resume editor
  • A fancy pen or folio to complete the accessories for their interview outfit
  • Guest passes to a couple of yoga or meditation classes
  • Coffee gift cards. There will always be time to use up before interviews and wrapping your hands around a hot cup of coffee or tea is a lovely way to deal with that.  As an added bonus, if they meet someone randomly, they can offer to take them for coffee without worrying about having cash.

Have fun shopping!

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Tooth Fairies, Hogwarts and Comics – Get Ready for the New Year

I was talking with one of my friends the other day and she was bemoaning the state of her career.  She felt like she was at a cross roads and she did not know what to do.

Naturally, I asked her what she really wanted to do with her life.

“Well”, she said, “I want to move to Palm Springs and be a Disney Princess but that’s never going to happen.”

That was a bit of a shocker for me.  I never really pictured her as the “princess” type. But then, I have also had people tell me that they would like to be the Tooth Fairy or take up residence at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Sure, when you get to a certain age, you feel like writing off those seemingly far-fetched dreams, but you don’t have to.

There are, for example, quite a few wish-granting charities.  They hire people in all kinds of professions.  That would be kind of princess-like wouldn’t it?

J.K.Rowling did not start out as a writer.  She came to it after doing other things (like having a child).  Maybe there is a novel in you.  How do you know if you don’t try?

Enriching your life outside work often has unexpected and positive benefits for your day job.  I took a course in stand-up comedy because some day I want to be a comedian (a real one that gets paid).  That really was the only goal – to get a better understanding of how the business works to prepare for later.

Here’s the funny thing: after I took the course, I started doing my job in a more effective way. The things I had learned had an immediate and positive effect on how I presented material and suddenly, my work was more exciting, and I felt more successful.

I had no idea that was going to happen, but it did.

So, keep the dreams coming and take some time to figure out how to move towards them.

If it helps, I will send a sparkly wand to anyone who comments on this post.

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Yay! A holiday party!

I don’t know about you but the next two weeks on my calendar are sprinkled with pot lucks, lunches and cocktails. This is generally the time of year where I roll my eyes and find other things to do.

But this year is going to be different. I am looking at each get together as an opportunity to learn new things.

I am going to try not to gossip about people in other departments or complain about the weather. Instead, I am going to share positive and interesting stuff about my work.

For example, when someone asks me how things are going, my response is not going to be “so busy”. Of course I am busy. Everyone is busy. We would not have jobs if we were not busy.

Instead I am going to talk about one of the search projects I am working on. This opens the door for much more interesting conversation than “I am so busy”.

I am also going to avoid asking about people’s plans for the holidays. There are lots of people who are not going skiing in the Swiss Alps or dining with celebrities. While it can be fun to hear about those adventures, it can be depressing too.

I am going to ask about Netflix instead.  I plan on some heavy binge watching over the holidays and I need some recommendations.

If I can stick to this plan, I should be able to come away from this holiday season with lots of new ideas and information which will be an excellent foundation for my big plans in the next decade.

Cheers!

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Job Search: Not a Fairy Tale

I have often said that I talk for a living.  Well, this week, it really has been true.  I talked to a lot of people over the past week.  Some of them were interesting. Others, not so much.

One of the really great stories came from a gentleman who had a long career in the world of finance and accounting.  He was really keen on a role that I have working on for one of my clients.

As he was recounting the chapters of his career, I stopped him. He had just mentioned taking something new after more than 10 years with an organization.

I asked him how that happened.  He said that he had been on the website for his professional association paying his dues when he decided to take a look at the careers page.

One of the postings caught his eye.  He decided to apply right then.  He did not go home to think about it or talk with a million people.  He just applied.

(Kudos to him for keeping his resume up to date so it was ready to go.)

He got a call the next week and met with the hiring team.  Everything went well.  He got an offer that he liked.  He resigned and the rest, as they say, is history.

This is not a fairy tale story. He was not an exceptional person.  He was nice and all but he did not have extra sparkle or a fancy pedigree. He saw a job, applied for it and got it.

When something catches your eye, take action.  You can always hit the brakes if something that smells bad in the process but you won’t be in the process if you don’t apply.

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The Myth of the Forever Job

Let me just put this out there:  there is no such thing as a forever job.  Too many people, candidates and hiring managers alike keep talking about this idea.

Candidates tell me that they are looking for their last job until they retire.  They want to settle in and have stability.

Hiring managers are rejecting candidates because they might not stay in a role for five or more years.

Get your head out of the sand, people.

The world is changing and so is work.  The Canadian work landscape changed dramatically just last week and there is more change ahead. Can we predict it?  Not really.

In realistic terms, we should not be looking for a job or an employee for life. We are looking for a role where we can learn, grow, develop and contribute while we earn a living.  That’s about what it boils down to.

When you are examining your job prospects, these are the factors to consider:

  • Is there room for you to expand your skills?
  • Are there opportunities to move into other roles?
  • Will your contribution add value to the company?
  • Will that value be a point of pride for you?

Hiring a managers need to consider the same factors.

  • Can this person grow beyond the role they are hired for?
  • Will they add value on day one, day thirty and day ninety?
  • Will you be proud to take the credit for hiring them?

We need to stop looking at five to ten year employment windows. Think about what you were doing ten years ago. Could you have predicted that people would be earning tons of money developing ipad apps in their basements?  Or blogging about their dogs?

Keep your eyes on the horizon and your resume ready because you never know what’s around the corner.

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My Day is Craptastic – and yours?

Things don’t go well all the time.  Even when you work really hard to do the right things the right way, shit happens. People who are angry or unhappy lash out and toss around mistruths or accusations. Sometimes the crap lands on people who have nothing to do with the problem.

When this happens, our tendency is to get bug eyed and then close the door and cry.

And that’s okay.  Crying is good.  It gets the shock and awe (how could they say that?) out of the way so you can move on to dealing with the problem.

We can’t control people who throw crap at us, but we can control how we deal with it.

Yesterday, when I asked a good friend how she was, she replied “Well, I spent yesterday crying but now I’m getting constructive.”  Brilliant.

How you react behind closed doors is one thing.  What you do in public, is quite another.

Sure, take moment to vent, cry, swear, whatever, but then sit down and make a list of damage control items.  Consult a trusted advisor.  Take a deep breath and take action.

While you may have to accept that you did not get that job or that your colleague took credit for your idea, you do not have to let it end there.  You can send a gracious note to the hiring manager letting them know that you respect their decision and that you would be open to considering other roles in the future.  You can find a way to mention your contribution to the project while your boss is listening.

But it takes clear thinking and a desire to rise above it, to let the world know that you really do care about what you do and that a little crap thrown your way is not going to change that.

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Today’s Veterans are Tomorrow’s Business Leaders

Do you have any military veterans in your work group?  Are there any in your company?

As we stop and pause on Remembrance Day at 11:00, we need to think about not just  the veterans from the Great Wars but from the more recent wars.

Every year more than 4,000 men and women leave the military and transition to civilian life.  Their average age is 37 and they have a lot to contribute.

Veteran Affairs Canada has a really neat guide  that describes some of the resources that are available to help employers reach these great candidates.

Did you know that a Combat Engineer is responsible for building and maintaining roads, airfields and bridges?  We may think that road work is tough in our hot summers. I bet it is nothing compared to doing it in Afghanistan.poppy

Supply Technicians take care of purchasing, warehousing and inventory control of food, fuel, tank parts, clothing and a host of other items required to keep a large group of people at optimal performance in crappy conditions.

These are big jobs being done far from home with pressures and obstacles that can be daunting.

We would be hard pressed to have employment conditions that are as difficult no matter how fast our company is growing or how much pressure we feel from the investors.

You can check out the Veterans Affairs web page for more details and for information on different programs being offered to employers to help connect them with former military folks.

There is a really cool program called Helmets to Hardhats that is supported by construction companies and unions.  The program works to remove barriers and increase awareness of the skill sets that are available in this remarkable group of people.   You can read more about it here.

We owe to veterans and to our companies to talk more about this.  They have already served us.  Now it is our turn to serve them.

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