Living in a ghetto, slum or trailer park does not make you trash. Mother Theresa lived in a slum. Her resume was good enough to get a Nobel Peace Prize.
I get some REALLY bad resumes. They say:
I can’t do this job. I have no skills or training. The reason I have the nerve to apply for it is because I really will work hard. I know I was fired from my last job. It wasn’t my fault. The job really was terrible. The job before that was terrible too. I’m not a freak.
We get at least one of these resumes or cover letters every week. Yes, this bad. Okay, only close to this bad. The resume is trash. It is literally worse than nothing.
Being laid off or fired tends to get workers, salespeople and executives to focus on the negatives from their previous job. They feel they have to explain things in their resumes. That is a mistake. Your resume has only one job, to get you an interview. It is not a confessional. It is not investigative journalism.
Here are 4 signs your resume will be thrown away in record time:
- Explain that you are part of a group that would normally not be hired (I want to learn to be a…)
- Tell why your boss was an idiot in your last job (I was not allowed to fix…)
- List excuses instead of accomplishments (Due to lack of…)
- List skills way below those really required for this job (As a carpenter I sawed boards…)
Are you sure you don’t do any of these? Usually these errors are hidden in a cover letter or large paragraph.
Something To Do Today
Seriously look at every line of your resume and cover letter. Every single line. Do you make excuses? Do you subtly or openly put down your previous boss or job? Were you smiling as you wrote it because of the subtle needle in a paragraph? Is a skill you list so basic it shows your lack of higher skills? Do you put yourself in a group of losers accidentally?
Job death is NOT a bad thing. It is a part of your progress. Once you are dead, just get on with your life.
Rigor Mortis – signs of job death – job CPR fixes
When your job is dead you have a decision to make: keep it or leave? If you keep it, perform CPR on your job whenever possible. If you decide to leave, check for rigor mortis before you give up hope.
Signs of job death and rigor mortis:
- Dilbert cartoons posted over the company goals
- No one notices your 2 hour bathroom breaks…3 times a day
- Facebook used more than all other applications combined
- No raises in more than 2 years…even for your boss’s mistress
- You try to organize a union and there already is one
- Surgery required on bitten tongue after your annual review
- Quality program of the month comes from a federal agency
- A job with the State Department of School Taxes sounds exciting
- Members of the beef and whine lunch club get food poisoning
- Spouse uses an electric cattle prod to push you out the door in the morning
CPR for your job:
- Learn new skills…pay for it yourself
- Turn in weekly, monthly and quarterly job reports to your boss and possibly his boss
- Go to lunch with enthusiastic people, find out why they are that way, contribute
- Get involved with Toastmasters…guaranteed excitement and comedy, some of it on purpose.
- Find out everyone’s birthday and decorate their cubicle
- Ask the people everyone respects how you can make a bigger difference
- Help a customer without permission
There is always something you can do. What is it?
Something To Do Today
Time to write your weekly report in your job journal if you didn’t do it Friday. Make a copy in a format your boss can use to send to his boss. Give it to him even if he protests he doesn’t need it. There is no way he can know all the good things you have done unless you tell him.
Check out www.toastmasters.org . Go to a meeting at 2 or 3 different clubs.
When I was in Spain in 1977 I knew of no supermarkets there. You had to go to a small store and ask for exactly what you wanted. The owner would bring out what you asked for from behind the counter. There were no food aisles to roam.
By 1979 supermarkets were taking over the country. Huge places filled with choices. You could literally make shopping an all day event, and forget to come home with what you needed. Then you would go to that local store and ask the owner for what you forgot, if the store was still in business.
Now let’s talk about the job supermarket.
In 2003 and 2009 jobs were few and far between. Candidates were happy to accept any job offer if they were unemployed for a few months. Employers were being very picky. Salaries were often dropping.
In 2005 and 2014 a job boom started. Employers were starting to beg for workers in 2007 and 2015. People who couldn’t get a job in 2004 or 2010 were getting multiple offers. People fed up with the way they have been treated for years are changing jobs.
Unfortunately in 2007 and again in 2015 some people are going job hunting, changing jobs, and forgetting to improve their situation. Employers get very wary of people who hop between jobs.
The moral: Be careful you don’t make it impossible to get a great job because you were seduced by sparkling packaging on inferior jobs in the job supermarket. If you aren’t careful the stores you could have gotten a job in will be like the stores in Spain, they’ll be out of business as far as you are concerned.
If you go out and quickly change jobs only for a small salary increase, you will probably be disappointed. By the time you figure out why you are disappointed, it will be too late to switch jobs again. Two new jobs within a year just doesn’t sit well with most employers.
Don’t lose your head. If you want a raise, tell your boss without threatening him. Show him what others are earning. Educate him. Don’t forget to listen to him. He may tell you a few things you need to fix to be worth a raise. Giving your boss a month or two to fix a problem gives you more time to improve your marketability. Figure out what will really be a job improvement. Take control of where you want to go instead of letting 50 sparkling job ads seduce you.
As the next few years continue to heat up, use the opportunities available to get where you would like to be. Don’t settle for a raise. Demand an opportunity in your current job and your next job.
The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created, created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them, changes both the maker and the destination. (Schaar)
Something To Do Today
In your job journal make two lists. 1. The things you like about your job. 2. The things about your job that could seriously be improved.
Next write down what can be done in this job and in searching for a new job to seriously improve your situation.
Next: Rigor Mortis – signs of job death
Later: Resumes: trash or treasure
Goliath was the best thing that ever happened to David. (Weed)
Okay, Goliath tried to kill David. But it was how David reacted to Goliath that made him famous.
How horribly bad stuff can eventually help you have a great job
Some people claim that the best thing that happened to President George W. Bush, was that terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center towers. There is even an apocryphal account of Bill Clinton saying, “If only that attack had happened on my watch, then I would have been a great president.”
How about these:
- Not getting a job you really want.
- Someone else getting the promotion you worked for.
- Being laid off.
- A terrible job performance review.
- A letter of reprimand in your file.
Disasters? Yes. Setbacks? Yes.
Setbacks make me think of the two richest families in our neighborhood when I was a kid. One ran a gas station. The other was a plumber. They couldn’t get great jobs, so they took opportunities no one else wanted. The gas station manager now owns 10 car dealerships. The plumber started his own company and employed a host of people. They took stock of their situation and decided to move forward.
Evaluate why you really suffered a setback. Ask the easy questions and the hard questions. What did they do to me? What did I do to me? Where can I go from here?
One of the oldest books on the subject of success is Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. Every other book on the subject just steals his material and puts it in different words. His book can help you gain perspective and focus on what you can do.
Are you dealing with a Goliath? Then make sure you DECIDE how to react.
Today is always the time to start your future. Yesterday is past. Today you can make tomorrow a little better. Focus on what really caused your current situation. Then go forward with a plan. The world will change around you.
Something To Do Today
Get a copy of Think and Grow Rich and read through it. It’s a classic.
Later: The job supermarket
Rigor Mortis – signs of job death
My passions were all gathered together like fingers that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today, I knew it then as purpose. (Davis)
Can your job search be like General Grant’s assaults on the Confederacy? You certainly can’t start from a worse personal position than he did.
Robert E. Lee said, “We all thought Richmond, protected as it was by our splendid fortifications and defended by our army of veteran, could not be taken. Yet Grant turned his face to our Capital, and never turned it away until we had surrendered.”
Abraham Lincoln was strongly urged to remove Ulysses S. Grant from command by Grant’s two senior leaders. Lincoln replied, “I cannot spare this man, he fights.”
Grant’s first army unit as a General had driven away two other Generals in the previous month. The unit was insubordinate, untrained and outright rebellious. Yet they followed Grant.
The year before the US Civil War, Grant was an alcohol abusing store clerk who only kept his job because he worked for his father-in-law.
What changed in Grant? Passion, focus, and high purpose.
Do you have a career plan? A job search plan? One that really suits your talents and skills? If one plan of attack fails are you willing to immediately switch to another? As the job market changes are you ready to take advantage of previously unseen opportunities? Are you constantly preparing?
Your passion may be your family, church, job, or club. It is probably a combination of them. If you take the time you spend on your job, concentrate, plan and execute, you can do wonders. If you slackly follow orders, give the minimal possible and expect to get a raise before you work harder, you will stagnate.
Where can you go to succeed? What can you do? Do you have to relocate your family? Do you need a new job? A new career path? What can be your great purpose at work?
Acres of Diamonds can give you some directions along that path. You can read it or listen to the author tell it at this link.
Something To Do Today
Read or listen to Acres of Diamonds . Read it.
Later: Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Eventually every great plan deteriorates into hard unexpected work. The trick is to get credit for it, and a raise.
A newly minted Psychologist went to a new elementary school. Her job was to help children develop strong characters, overcome problems, and become fulfilled individuals. At 11:15 that morning the Principal poked her head in and said, ”Come with me. We need your help.” A crisis intervention? Her training would really pay off now. They both went to the lunchroom. The Principal took the Psychologist over to the milk cooler and told her, “At lunch you sell milk to the children who bring lunches from home.” That Psychologist said she nearly quit. It took her weeks to realize that every job has some work that just needs to be done. Someone has to sell the milk.
She works for the children. She really does change their lives, just not always the way she expected to.
You work for people. Your boss is one. He is a customer. Your coworkers are customers. The people who see and use your work are customers. The people who buy your company’s products are customers. Are you giving them what they need and want? Are they satisfied? Can you prove it?
In a job journal you can keep track of how you have served your customers. Tracking what good you have done will improve your performance. Telling your boss exactly what you contribute each week will get you a raise as you improve. If your boss doesn’t give you the raise you have earned, your job journal will help you get a new job.
So, who did you help? What was their problem? Did your answer save time, money or frustration? Write down and report on your expected duties. Also report on the times you just have to sell milk.
It is not hard. It’s a great plan. It just takes a little work.
Something To Do
Do you have a job journal? Create one for as far back as you can remember if you don’t have one already. Unemployed? Create one for your last job. Write down what you accomplished. What things are better because you were there? Did you save money, earn money or keep a customer? Write it down.
Here is the gutsy part if you have a job. Managers need to know what you accomplished, but most are afraid to admit they don’t know what you do every day. Submit a report to your manager in a format he can use to show his boss. Do it every week. Give your manager something to brag about every week.
Write down your failures in your journal too. That way you can show how much things have improved later on. Report failures along with how you have fixed them and how much money your improvement will now save.
A job? No. This is war.
My old partner Karen Woodworth was accused by a candidate of ”Just being in this for the money”, and submitting other candidates.
She wrote the following email to describe exactly what she did to fill that job. Changes to protect privacy have been made.
I have a client (an HR Rep) who calls me out of the blue with a problem. She needs to fill a position in her IT department, a position that they have been trying to fill for several weeks/months with no success. When I try to get some of the unwritten needs described I’m told that I need to talk to the department manager who’s out of town. Oh yes, and the HR Rep is going out of town next week as well so I’m to chat with Phyllis (someone I’ve never spoken with) when she gets back.
In the meantime, I search my files. (Picture this! Resume by resume I go through several hundred, maybe a thousand, each file is opened and examined page by page.) I actually have not spoken to Phyllis yet, so I am searching without full disclosure of her needs. I find a number of candidates who can do this job. I narrow it down to what I feel at this time are the best from which to select my finalists and begin to contact them for further qualification. Now, all this time I’m thinking Julie Beck, Julie Beck… I gotta talk to Julie Beck, I think she’s perfect for this but I know that Bryan’s been marketing her to Arizona. Out of respect for her desire to go to Arizona and Bryan’s working in that direction I hold off contacting her. (“Hell, Julie and her husband are ready to become permanent snowbirds, she won’t be interested.” I tell myself for days.) And I’ve not yet spoken with Phyllis.
So when Phyllis returns I get to ask some questions and find out that I really like this lady. I like her upfront simple responses and lack of playing games. I begin to submit what I think are the right kinda folks and she steers me into a finer appreciation of what she’s really looking for and I’m not on the mark. (God, I want to do this right. I want to serve the HR Rep that called me for help, but more than that, this opening is becoming a full time search. No, more like an obsession. I’ve set my mind on it… Other recruiters have failed at filling this and I wanna do it! Damn, I want to be the one who heard and understood and succeeded.) And, if I could only talk to Julie, oh hell, she’s working on something for $135 an hour, she won’t even talk to me. Geography’s wrong and salary’s too light. Don‘t even bother to call her… But she’s so perfect…
So I begin to refine my search and submit a couple more guys who can do the job. Telephone screening goes badly, I’ve not hit the mark but I’m still thrashing around the files and putting it out on the net and sharing my needs with cooperative recruiters I trust…
Now Phyllis’s sister-in-law dies and she has to go out of town again. I’ve submitted a couple of guys that she’s not seen cuz she’s gone. And in desperation, I finally screw up the courage to call you, Julie. (If you tell me to get lost, I deserve your rancor… I know you’ve got bigger fish to fry.)
You and I decide to look at this… And I feel like I finally have a serious candidate in for consideration. At this same time, if you don’t get or take this job I’m still, and even more committed to filling it! Damn am I committed! Intellectually and professionally I need to succeed here because others have failed.
And all at once, I’ve managed to give Phyllis three serious candidates… I haven’t told the others, but my money’s on you.
And, girl friend, the money has nothing to do with it! This is personal! It’s my ego!
Do I want you to get the offer? YUP! Do I want you to get the best offer I can get for you? YUP! Do I expect to do the negotiating? YUP! I have 25 years of experience in this job that has proven to me time and again that I can and will get for my candidate a better offer than my candidate can get for him/her self. In that you’ll need to trust me.
And, at some point, I would like you to believe in me, and not compare me to another recruiter you’ve dealt with before. This is my profession, not my job. I’m here because I can do what others fail to do.
I’m not here for the money! That happens to be a by-product not a score card.
Would you trust the above recruiter with your resume? I would. That is the kind of recruiter you want to find and keep in contact with for your whole career. She may not help you get every job she submits your resume for, but if she finds you a job, you will love it.
Something To Do Today
Write down what you got done this week. What things are better because you were there? Did you save money, earn money or keep a customer? Write it down. Submit a report to your manager in a format he can use to show his boss.
It’s not who you know, it’s who will help you that counts.
New networking techniques triple effectiveness
I have tripled the effectiveness of my network in the last week. I have gotten more referrals than I have been able to process. Here are the basics:
Yesterday I wrote about Nebraskan networking. Key points are:
- Ask the right question
Always ask: Who do you know that can get me closer to the individual I need to talk to? People want to help. This is a non-threatening way to give help without being 100% correct. You’ll be surprised how this gets people to relax and help you.
- You get more help from higher income people
Ask for help from people above the level you are working at. Managers, experts, directors and CEO’s use networking every day. They know the importance of sharing help. Often they will do much more for you than you ever expected.
- A driving purpose or important result is necessary
In the Milgram study an extremely impressive document was being sent. The perceived importance made people want to help. Carefully script your request. Make your need critical, important for others to help with, and non-threatening. Make sure they know that the next person in their network chain will feel honored to help.
- Give people a way to report back
Make sure the person you ask for help has a way to tell you how they helped. Send them an email with your request.
Here’s an example of an email I have sent that got me more help than I have been able to keep up with:
Subject: I need your help …
I need your assistance. I know you’re not geographically placed right for all these, but you know people
If you don’t know of someone you can refer to me, would you pass this on to a friend, colleague or associate whom you consider to be closer to this person? Then they can open the door of opportunity for the right person.
One of my top clients is looking to expand its sales channel by hiring three people:
an Employee Benefits/Health Insurance Producer in Harrisburg, PA;
a Property and Casualty Insurance Producer in the Harrisburg area;
and a P&C Producer in north Philadelphia.
Sales opportunities are “teed up” for these producers by telemarketers and rainmakers.
P&C producers at the company over 3 years are all earning in excess of $200,000 per year. EB are all well over $100,000/yr. Base salary, benefits, etc. like you would expect.
Can you get this request closer to the right person?
I sure appreciate your help.
That’s a simple letter and has been extremely effective. You can create one as effective for your urgent need.
Something To Do Today
Figure out how to follow the 4 steps above and ask for help to get closer to someone who can help you.
Next: Who do you work for?
Before computers, 196 people in Nebraska were sent a package and asked to forward it to anyone who might be able get it closer to a named stockbroker living near Boston. All they had was a name, an occupation, and a very general location. Milgram, a researcher, assumed: 1. Nebraskans know no one in Boston, 2. they would never complete the task. Amazingly, those Nebraskans eventually got the packages to the stockbroker.
It took an average of 5 mailings to get each package to the right place. Each mailing was to someone they thought might be closer to the final intended recipient. That step is called a degree of separation. This experiment is the basis that people use to claim you can get to anyone in the world in 6 steps.
Here is some more information that makes this study usable in a job search, sales or your career.
Milgram stacked the deck in his studies. In previous experiments, lower income people often ended sending chains. Milgram recruited higher income people to start these chains. He made the package as impressive as possible by using a fancy Harvard document richly signed. He asked each person in each step to send a reply card to him to track progress. This was an experiment in getting strangers to help.
Tomorrow I will show you how I have been using these facts and results to expand my network effectiveness dramatically.
Something To Do Today
Go over your network list. Who do you know. How many people do you know. Tomorrow I will show you how to dramatically increase your network effectiveness.
You might have fun reading about Milgram’s studies. This article is the closest to the original documents that I can find. Wikipedia has information on the the different iterations of the experiment.
The first step to making your job search 50% more effective, is to really know what is happening. Yes, get a job in half the time. Let me give you an example that changed my life that applies to your job search.
I was overspending by 20% every month. I had an absolutely fixed income. So I bought a notepad and kept track of every expense. In one week it was obvious where the money went. In a month it was unavoidable. The truth? 20% of my very limited income was going for lemonade from cozy little shops in Murcia, Spain.
Your time is very limited. You only get 24 hours a day. You can’t buy more time. Do you really know how you use it?
Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace. (Sawyer)
Buy a small notebook. Exert incredible discipline for one day each month. Every time you shift tasks, write it down. A phone call is a shifted task. An internet link can be a shifted task. Write it down.
It may help to create 15 minute intervals on the paper and write down what you did for each 15 minute period.
Now get out the chainsaw. What was really REALLY productive? Do you spend 2 hours daily trying to avoid offending people by chatting amiably or reading their useless emails. Cut out the unproductive stuff.
Make sure you do what is important. Education is essential. Networking is critical. Talk about the NCAA tournament with Larry—don’t kid yourself. That email of funny things kids do—delete it.
I tried it. I found I was spending hours each day with candidate email that wouldn’t do any good. I did a 2 month experiment. I took all my job openings off the internet. Instead I started calling up people. In the recruiting business that is taking a chainsaw to your daily schedule. Nothing neat and clean, I just cut 25% of my time wasted. I have since added back some job ads, but not where everyone else advertises. Now I get better candidates and less time wasters.
Create the log. Keep it for a day or a week. Get your chainsaw out. Cut off the termite riddled, least productive part of the log. Use the time you save to get the most useful things possible done.
Something To Do Today
Create a time log. Use it for your job or your job hunting. Keep it. Analyze it. Chainsaw it.
Next: Unbelievable networking facts.
Later: Take unfair advantage of those networking facts.