The Stupidity of the “40 Hour” Job-Search Week and Why it is a Waste of Time

When I was a kid time was my enemy.  You see, I was one of those kids that today would be labeled ADHD or “really really annoying hyper”.  My mother swore that I ‘could not sit still for five minutes’, but still insisted that I go to church every Sunday.  This was pure torture to me an everyone around me a learning experience.

When you work at a job, you basically get paid by the time you put in.  This is either direct via your hourly wage or implied in a 40ish hour work week.   Unfortunately, when I ask people about their job-search effort, I usually get an answer “I work 8 hours a day”. Continue reading

Your Credit and Your Job

A recent Google search for Credit Check and Employment produced over 91,000,000 results. This was prompted by my reading a post by John Self in his excellent blog called Healthcare Voice.

Below are a few of my thoughts and this is not an all inclusive view of the issue.

The first question that is often asked is “Is an employer allowed to check my credit?” and the answer in simple terms is yes. This certainly makes sense if you are going to be involved in any way with handling company monies.

There would seem to be two specific scenarios in which an employer may run a credit check.

  • Pre-employment, that is prior to receiving  a job offer or receiving an offer subject to a satisfactory credit report and usually references as well.
  • Post-employment, usually this comes in to play when an employee is being considered for a promotion.

Consideration #1, No employer can run a credit check without your explicit agreement. I believe that there are specific exclusions to this rule in respect of the Transportation industry. To refuse the option of a Credit Check is always a choice but probably not a smart idea.

Consideration #2, If the employer decides to reject your application based on the results of your credit report then you will need to be informed of that fact. You are also required to receive a “pre-adverse action disclosure” in the same way as you would if you were rejected for a credit application.

Consideration #3, The employer will view considerable information that you may or may not have supplied previously. This data can include; Your year of birth, all addresses, previous employers, Social Security Number and who else has been checking your report. If you are in negotiation with your bank regarding hardship this could also be displayed.

I can see no simple solution to how the employee can be protected. I certainly hope over time that there can be an improvement as to protecting information that could be used against an individual.

Top 10 Indicators that you didn’t ‘Ace’ the interview (job-search humor)

Top-10 Indicators that you didn’t ‘Ace’ the Interview

# 10 Interviewer admits to not reading your resume

#9  Interviewer asks if you have considered the Peace Corps

#8  Interviewer ‘remembers something important’ and proceeds to call his wife and ask her for a detailed re-cap of “John and Kate Plus 8”

#7 Interviewer gets ‘giggles’ when you tell him about your career plans

#6 Interviewer looks at his watch after 10 minutes and says “great – we’ll get in touch, need to do a few more interviews”

#5 Interviewer repeats the following question three times “tell me, again, why you are qualified for this role”

# 4 Interviewer’s eyes start to glass-over, then blink slowly, then close completely and starts to snore

# 3 Interviewer asks if there is any way that you could be considered a ‘diversity candidate’

# 2 Interviewer wants your opinion on which rejection letter ‘you like better’

# 1 Interviewer gives you your resume back with spelling and punctuation errors circled and the words “try harder” written across the top

happy Friday,

Not Putting Dates on your resume – BAD IDEA (Job-search tip)

I get asked a lot of weird questions….  “Should I talk about my time in jail?”  (generally no) “What do I do if I have to fart during an interview?” (cough, and ask the interviewer if you could be quickly excused to find a nearby water-fountain then get out of ear-shot and smell-shot(?)).  But those are for other posts… Continue reading

A Resume is like a first date

My basic introduction to job search when meeting clients for the first time always involves the resume that they have brought with them.

At its very simplest a resume is a document that is sent to a potential employer that says “please talk to me”. How we write that question and the reasons that we provide to encourage an employer to contact us are the key to our potential success.

We are often driven to write down every one of life’s experiences in the hope that there will be something that catches the recruiter’s eye. I often see resumes that are written in 8 point type and stretch from corner to corner of up to 4 pages. Th documents are so busy that it makes the Recruiter’s job almost impossible.  When we analyze the purpose and focus of a resume it becomes clear as to why sharing to much information is a flawed strategy.

A resume should be like a first date, you share enough (truthful) information to be interesting. You provide details of your history that places you in the best possible light and you focus your attributes and skills on those areas that complement those of your prospective partner. You don’t tell everything on Date Number 1, what will you have left to talk about? Make it easy for your date to say YES to another meeting and a potential long term arrangement.


Expert or good enough, which is better for your job search?

Ben at Jobacle has an interesting post today about experts and the fact your probably not!

I’ve often wondered if being good enough (not perfect or an expert) is the best way to be. As the David  Foster story in  Bens’ post illustrates being good enough but not a “one trick pony” let him be many things.

As for job searching I think this is equally true. For each job you need to show you’re good enough, not necessarily perfect. Though  you still have to be better than the other candidates. (though the final decision will take into account how you’d fit into the company not just your skills and achievements!)

So if you are a job seeker and you don’t want to limit yourself to just one type of job, it does give you some flexibility to apply for (and get)  a number of different positions, rather than being constrained to just one.

Unless of course you’re the happiest just doing this one thing.

Starting from Scratch

Today was not unusual; I reviewed resumes before meeting clients, evaluated some LinkedIn profiles and prepared for the first session of the day.

My first appointment was a financial controller who has been consistently employed, albeit with different companies for 18 years without ever having once going through a formal interview or job search process.

All was going well as we discussed the basics of job search until I asked the fatal question, “How are you doing?” At that point the flood gates opened, the tears flowed and the fears came bobbing to the surface, “I’m scared”, “I’m not sure that I can do this” and “I’m not a youngster anymore” were three of the many phrases I heard. I abandoned my plan for the rest of the session and devoted my time to talking about the positive side of the Outplacement while never diminishing the difficulties or challenges that lie ahead.

I explained that starting from scratch is not necessarily the worst thing that could happen and between us we could certainly build towards success.

Having an experienced guide and mentor who has a successful track record of guiding people through the difficult times that face people in transition is without doubt one of the most valuable benefits of the process. The next best thing is having a virtual coach to provide guidance through the process. Try

Job search stalled? 10 signs and how to kick re-start your job search.

On Monday marathon-runner-wallI met Mary, a job seeker,  for coffee. An introduction  from a mutual friend who asked if could chat with her and help with her job search. Naturally, since helping someone, having coffee and getting out of the office for a while were involved I jumped at the chance.

Mary had been searching for a few months but her search and she had hit “the wall“.

Her motivation was at a low and getting herself back into a positive frame of mind, was a struggle each day.

The more Mary and I chatted it became more apparent the reason her job search had stalled was because she had started before she was ready.

Here are 10 signs you started your search without doing enough ground work, and as ‘they’ say, failing to plan is planning to fail.

1. You can’t define the job title or industry you want to work for. We all have great skills we acquire (even in school) that we don’t want to go unused. But if you don’t have your target job and industry defined, how will you know what to look for and what makes you the best candidate

2.Your still tweaking your resume.  This can be a result of: a) not knowing what job you want and therefore why writing your achievement statements to match anything doesn’t seem to cut it. Or b) actually needing some professional help or advice on how to write a achievement statements.

3. You’re motivation is low. This is one sure sign something is wrong, sure the economy is bad right now, but people are still getting jobs. If you’re finding it hard to do the search let alone expend a full day at it, then time to re-start your job search.

4. You don’t have an elevator pitch. OK so you may not agree or like using elevator pitches, but consider creating one so that it forces you to decide what job you;re looking for. If you can’t articulate that to yourself in 30 seconds, how is anyone else going to know how to help you?

5. You aren’t doing any Networking. If you haven’t heard it a million times already, let me say it once more, about 75% of all jobs are found through networking. Enough said.

6. You spend 80-100% of your job searching on Job boards. if 75% of jobs are found through networking why are you spending 80% of your time on the internet trawling job boards? Sure people do get jobs this way, but you should limit the amount of time to no more than 30%.

7. You haven’t been to a networking event. Networking events are great places to meet at least two new people each time, and expand your network quickly. At this time of high unemployment, the more people who know you, what you do and what you’re looking for the greater your changes of finding that “hidden job”.

8. You don’t have your list of target companies. If you’ve done the prep work an now know what job you want and the industry, rather than waiting for the job to cme to you, why not go to it.  Creating a target list of companies and using that list while you network, will help you focus your networking and find suitable jobs faster.

9. You didn’t even consider associations’ meetings. Birds of a feather flock together and so do professionals. There’s a really good chance there’s a local chapter or association you can attend full of people from the same job or industry your looking to work for. And they’re more likely to know of who’s hiring, who’s not, and who to avoid.

10. You don’t have or haven’t ‘pimped your liknked in profile. Whether you use it to network or not, having a linked in profile is an important tool in your job search (just like your resume is). Having a good profile is a must.

If a some or all of these resonate with you, I suggest you go back and re-start your search. Spend the next week defining the type of job you want and the industry. Create your elevator pitch and revisit your resume focusing on the single job and industry you’re targeting. The get out and do some serious networking.

Good hunting

Simon at VirtualJobCoach

Are you virtually and physically organized?

VirtualJobCoach keeps your virtual job search world in order, but what about your physical space?

When I created VirtualJobCoach it was to help me keep everything to do with my job search all organized. Making sure I had all the jobs I had applied to, or wanted to review, in one place together with the version of the resume I sent. (I tailored each of my resumes to the job in question and that meant I had loads of resumes some just slightly different from another.  Knowing which version I had used for which job become really difficult – hence VirtualJobCoach came into existence).

There was one aspect of my ‘organization’ I couldn’t fix with a computer program and that was my physical space – my desk etc.  I don’t know about you but I fluctuate between being very organized, and very cluttered, usually the clutter accumulates over time until I can’t stand it any more. Then I have to spend 30 minutes organizing it so it doesn’t resemble a train-wreck anymore.

Then came the epiphany that approach was just crazy, so I came up with some rules that I try and keep to most of the time.

Create space for yourself. I found I can focus better when I have fewer distractions. When I’m working on something on my PC, I close everything else down so I don’t get distracted by emails, twitter etc (my twitter id is @wsimoncm). Same is true for my desk, I’ve noticed if I have paperwork all around me, I tend to see something, realize I meant to.. and before I know it I’ve distracted myself, again!

Everything in it’s place. Something I noticed about the way I work, is to have certain things be in a certain place. the things I reach for most frequently are always within reach and always in the same place, for example, my coffee cup is always to my right, and my phone is always to my left. My scribble pad for my random thoughts sits to my right (I’m right handed so it makes sense to be there), and any papers I need that day are pulled out and put on my left.

Have a dumping ground for your  keys, phone, etc… those things you need but not until the end of the day. There are still times when I walk in with something, get a little distracted and then spend ten minutes looking in around for it, before I realize I left it in the kitchen next to the coffee maker.

Flock together, that’s what ‘birds of a feather’ do, and so the suggestion here is to keep same stuff together, stamps next to the envelopes, printer paper near the printer, you get the picture.

Get comfy, you’re going to be spending quite a few hours here so make your space as comfortable as you can. There’s nothing more distracting as a bad or squeaky chair, and having a space you dislike going to each day will just make you want to delay starting and finishing sooner. (sounds familiar – like the cubicle you just left ??)

Change your environment not behaviors, this one I recently learned from a job seeker who gets really distracted by all the stuff around her when she’s job searching, you know the radio, T.V. cat etc.  So much so that she’s cleared out the space under the stairs, put in a small table, chair and light and runs in an extension cable and closes the door. A little extreme you may think but for her she gets three times as much work done in two hours that way than she does all day in the other room.

What have you done to your space to make things a little easier on yourself? would love to hear from you.

Simon at