Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Becoming Aware of December’s Challenges



By Alicia Pozsony

According to Amy Lundgren of Prototype Career Service, a career consulting firm in St. Paul, Minnesota, “December is perhaps the most challenging and the oddest of all months for job seekers. Not only do you deal with the distractions in your own life, including holiday preparations on an ever-shrinking budget, but you have to deal with the distractions in the lives of employers as well.

“You really shouldn’t drop your job search just because you think it won’t be fruitful. You can’t afford to lose that much time. In a search that lasts four or five months, skipping December is like adding 20 percent to your period of unemployment.” Therefore, remember the motivation strategies Lundgren offers: “People still need to get hired in December. Some companies would like to start the new year with their new employees in place, while others can’t wait until after the holidays to hire; and yet other companies are always hiring.

“To keep your momentum going and stick to your job search routine, you should be aware of your challenges for the month ahead. Your recruiting and hiring personnel will have either relaxed or hectic schedules depending on the product or service your company provides. Routine meetings are sometimes replaced with holiday events, and some companies are even closed, while others give employees unpaid time off.” Therefore, being able to adapt is your number one guideline this month.

Lundgren’s tips include the following, which I hope you find helpful.

* Attend parties and networking events, including bank open houses, association meetings, and friends’ office parties. Take advantage of opportunities for such business socializing.
* Greet contacts with a holiday card by licking envelopes that enclose actual paper cards. An e-mail greeting will not suffice, because in this case, you’re trying to make a lasting impression.
* Send out résumés until the 15th; then take a two-week break if you think your materials might get lost in the holiday shuffle.
* Ask a trusted adviser to review your job search. Look for weak areas to strengthen, and create new ideas to try out in the coming year.
* Catch up on research in your industry, and plan ways to use the new data.
* Fill your schedule for January with meetings and with connecting with networking contacts.
* Plan something for every weekday for the first two weeks of the year, to hit the ground running.

Lundgren says, “The most important thing you can do in December is to review your job search timeline. Don’t go into the new year wondering when you’ll be reemployed. Instead, set a date and work backward from it to develop your schedule of steps. The earlier the date you set, the more aggressive your job search will have to be, so use these December weeks to set the stage.”

So, take a deep breath, and while enjoying your eggnog or hot cocoa, reflect on what a great job you’ve been doing and the good things that are around the corner in the coming year 2010!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Don’t take it personal.

This month I found myself asking myself “What do jobseekers need?” Allright ... A job. Okay, okay, we all know that all too well! So what kind of things can you do to stand out? Use a landline, make sure your resume matches the job description, make sure you are using the right keywords, demonstrate how you can make them more profitable, follow up without a typo, all the usual things that can be found on any google search, bing result, or career coach list.

Well, maybe, just maybe, instead you need to fit in to land a job. But don’t take it personal. How many of us are professionals who have a good bit of experience under our belts? We have degrees, certificates, recent education, and experience in a specialized skill set, or two. We have 10 years, 20 years, 30 years experience. We are dependable professional and dedicated. We made our last employer more profitable. We added productivity. We did all that. Stand out if you must, but I am thinking another approach might work.

If scaling yourself down to fit in doesn’t quite work for you, then keep prodding ahead at the goal in your sights! Sometimes you need to take a step back, and see yourself in a new light. Make a paper list written in blue or black ink of your accomplishments, take the phone off the hook, power off your mp3 player, PDA, home phone, cell phone, fax machine, unplug your doorbell (if you can), and take some time to revel in your own goodness. Above it all, don’t take it personal.
Four short years ago we were all in a different place, maybe one much better than we are facing now. We may have never thought we’d be facing this crushing economic time. I drove past a billboard that said “Bill Gates started his business during a recession,” and it made me wonder how many others were started during a recession. So I looked and behold! The research was already done. Thanks to Inc.com and AOL Small Business online, we learn that Coors, Wrigley, IBM, UPS, General Motors, Herman Miller, Walt Disney, Zippo, HP, Toys”R”US, Domino’s Pizza, Super 8, Microsoft, Symantec, Wikipedia, Nantucket Allserve and newegg were all started during a recession. I am sure their founders did not take it personal. So when you are waiting for that next job to call and give you your start date, keep in mind all these success stories and think about an idea you have for a business you want to start!

Wanting to just hold on to everything I have and wait ‘til this storm blows over… but I might check out this interesting site instead: http://www.inc.com/multimedia/slideshows/content/10-businesses-you-can-start-in-your-pajamas-in-2008_pagen_1.html

Be well!

Your Editor,
Alicia Pozsony

Sunday, October 11, 2009

CHALLENGE YOURSELF!


By Alicia Pozsony, Editor in Chief, Mercer County PSG Monthly Newsletter

I recently picked up a printout of The Seven Phases of Job Loss, which I found in the PSG room. I recall liking that chart ever since I first entered the room and thought about becoming a member. When I first saw the chart, I thought I’d experience all of the phases once and eventually get hired. I never imagined I’d be out of work as long as I have been. As some of you may know, I’m still unemployed. I seem to be taking a different course from the one I originally planned--five years married and 20 years as a professional; it shouldn't be too hard to take the usual A-to-B route of landing a job. And for someone who’s been a professional for 20 years, it wasn’t easy to change my course of action. Maybe this is something you can relate to.

Shock. Denial. Anger. Depression. Acceptance. Explore options. Develop plans. I never thought I’d be going through these phases multiple times during my unemployment period. Nor did I imagine I’d be dragging my family and friends through them too.

During my job search, I first lowered my salary expectation and then widened my willingness to commute a distance. I then reached out to those I hadn’t connected with in a long while to network even further. Still, no results. No tangible results anyway: no direct matches or near hires. Just a lot of churning and no closer to getting a new job.

I began questioning myself, as we all do, so I revisited the chart and found there had to be other things I could do. I explored freelance work, temporary jobs, and contract assignments. Was there some grave error or misspelling on my resume? No, but I figured anything was possible, after six or seven revisions. So, where did this leave me? I needed to do something more than I had been. Luckily, I qualified for a tuition waiver through the state and am now continuing my studies and aiming higher. I have goals I hope will put me in a better position after completing my course work.

Challenge yourself to reach higher goals: this is something I hope to convey to you! My article is not an uplifting, feel-good piece this month—or wait, maybe it is. My point is that we should never box ourselves in by thinking we can do only the same job we were doing before. We shouldn’t limit ourselves to the notion that getting hired under the same title as before is our only option. In these challenging turbulent times, we should, rather, focus on how a situation can allow us to change for the better and see what new challenges life throws at us! We just may surprise ourselves.

In the meantime, let me know if I can help you network. Visit me on LinkedIn!

Friday, July 31, 2009

CLOSER TO YOUR NEXT JOB WHILE PAYING THE BILLS

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By Alicia Pozsony, Newsletter Editor Mercer County PSG

I hate rejection letters. You know the ones I am talking about: “…we have decided to continue our search…”,”…although you have impeccable qualifications and recommendations, we are sorry to inform you…”. I still get them nearly every day, despite the numerous resume revisions and workshops I have attended. It’d be easy for me to fall prey to depression and just give up. Perhaps instead of being focused on how many rejections we received in one day, we should focus instead on the fact that we are that much closer to getting the job that is right for us. Remember to apply the following:

To find a job in tough times, focus on these To-Dos:
• Hone Your Skills • Get Yourself Up to Date • Reinvent yourself • Market Yourself • Make yourself a brand • Perform business networking in person and online • Research • Read the job posting carefully • Give yourself a break

Use job listings to fit your skills to the job requirements.
Utilize all of your Job Search Sources: Retirement Boards, Union Halls, State Employment Services, the "Help Wanted" ads , Government Personnel Offices, Job Fairs, Private Employment Services, Vocational Schools, Community Colleges or University Placement Offices, "Yellow Pages," libraries & Chamber of commerce.
Ask yourself the questions to expand how you see yourself and your skills to develop your backup career. What are you doing when you lose track of time? What job has always interested you? If you could get paid to do anything, what would it be? Then make a list of your areas of interest. Start by asking yourself, "What am I doing when I lose track of time?" to get to the heart of the matter. Make a list of the jobs that interest you. Describe your fantasy job.

How to pay the bills: Ask yourself questions to identify a part time opportunity: How have you earned money in the past in or outside your current field/occupation? Maybe it's dusting off your retail skills or getting re-certified as a teacher. Can you be a consultant in your same field or something different? If you have expertise, there is often someone out there who will pay you for your insight. Look on Craigslist to see the kinds of skills individuals are offering to corporations and what kinds of skills corporations are soliciting. Are there part time opportunities for you? There are websites that list short-term project work like iFreelance.com. And don't wait on checking out this site: http://www.careeroverview.com/temp-jobs.html.

It’s almost impossible to make oneself recession proof, and as we have become victims to this economic situation, remember to stay positive. Stay active. Use the PSG as a vessel to help yourself by helping others while boosting your confidence in the process. Ω
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Monday, June 8, 2009

April Showers Bring May Flowers


“April Showers Bring May Flowers”
By Alicia Pozsony, Editor PSG Newsletter
… a quote often heard this time of year. It’s exactly what I think of when I observe the activity of the Trenton PSG members both individually and as a group. Think of the showers as the things we cannot control that tend to make us uncomfortable and sometimes leave us feeling down. The flowers are the changes we help each other make from the direct contact, workshops and sharing of our own personal experiences with other PSG members.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to see myself in a different light after having a conversation with another PSG member, perhaps a light similar to that of an interviewer of a prospective job. I hope we will all help each other to keep growing from the support our peers here at 26 Yard Avenue.
Life sometimes drops things on us that sometimes feel like that of a rainstorm, only to be followed by the flowers of our next success and accomplishment. Do not let the daily ebb and flows of life get you down. Focus on your own accomplishments and remember the “Pay It Forward” concept of helping someone else so that they will in turn return the favor to another person, making all our lives a little more positive.

Too Nice Out to Job Search?


“Too Nice Out to Job Search?
By Alicia Pozsony, Editor PSG Newsletter

Someone said to me recently, “It’s too nice out to job search”. I agreed, but the more I thought about it, the more I contradicted myself. Throughout the week that followed, I quickly discovered that the places I visited and people I encountered were all good opportunities to network. I recalled one specific action that is key when networking: Help someone else so that they might remember you and repay the favor.

You never know who you are going to meet. So this summer when you are out and about, doing more activities, visiting outdoor places, festivals, carnivals and gatherings of friends and family, be aware of how you can be of help to those around you – where appropriate, offer advice, see if they are accepting of it, and welcome their paybacks to you later. Always have your business card handy.

Networking is the best way to land your next job, so even when the weather is cooperating and the sun smiles down on you, and remember you can still be active in your job search. Searching doesn’t have to end after time on the computer; human interaction is one of the best ways you can job search. Last month I wrote about Paying it Forward and May Showers and Spring Flowers and this month take time to smell the roses. Take a breath and know that things will improve, given enough time and initiative.Ω

Wednesday, March 4, 2009