Top 5 Notes From A Career Workshop

On June 28th, I had the privilege of being part of a panel at the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill. The topic was Employment Coaching and the ever-popular how to succeed in today’s job market, but it quickly turned into an open forum, Q/A session. This suited me just fine as I’ve always felt the best way to get something useful out of workshops like that is to have an open dialogue with the speaker(s) rather than just listen to them prattle on for two hours. Many issues and questions were raised, however the main overriding theme of the night was this: People are frustrated. The combination of a slow economic recovery and high unemployment has left many in the dense thicket of a job hunt feeling depressed, discouraged, and demoralized. Besides the physical toll this takes on people, another unfortunate side effect of this overall sense of “why bother?” is that it severely hurts your chances for actually landing a job, which creates one nasty little self-fulfilling prophecy. So, rather than rehash all of what was discussed that night for those of you who couldn’t attend, here’re a few bullets relating directly to perking yourself up whenever that orange Careerbuilder homepage comes on:

  • Stay positive! Obvious and easier said than done, I know, but if you want to make a good impression whether it’s in a resume or an interview, you have to remain upbeat and positive. At the very least, if you’ve been so beaten down you just can’t fathom wearing a genuine smile, you have to at least fake it real good. Remember, negativity will taint every interaction you have with a prospective employer.
  • Whatever you do, don’t sign up for that Careerbuilder feature that shows you how many other applicants have applied for the same job. If you apply for something via the LinkedIn jobs section, avert your eyes from those same statistics (located under the job description) as if it was a solar eclipse. There’s no better way to crush your spirits than to apply for what looks like the ideal position only to find out 587 other people applied in the time it took you to read this sentence. If you’re the best candidate, trust me, they WILL find you so why complicate the impending interview by developing an ulcer?
  • Focus on what’s in it for them. Everybody who’s unemployed wants to go back to work. You know that, I know that, and employers know that. Telling a hiring manager how badly you want to return to work won’t impress her. What will impress her is telling her why you want to go back to work with HER COMPANY. And you have to mean it, so research the company and look for things that interest you and then mention them when she asks, “So why do you want to work here?” It sounds so much better than, “I’ve been out of work six months and really need a paycheck,” even if both are true. Same thing goes for your cover letter and/or email accompanying your resume. No two of those should look the same. Focus each one on the company you’re applying to and mention specifics about why you’re interested in—and more importantly would succeed at—that particular position. Takes a little more work, but it ups the odds of your resume getting in the hands of a hiring manager tremendously.
  • Talk to people. Join LinkedIn groups. Go to meetings of organizations within your industry. Let people know how good you are and that you’re available—and do it with such energy and enthusiasm that it sticks long after you say goodbye. Inevitably one of those people will be in a position to help you. Maybe not tomorrow, but somewhere down the line. And when the time comes to recommend you for a position, will they remember the skills you said you have or the titles you’ve held? Maybe, maybe not. But I guarantee they’ll remember the way you delivered that information, as long as you did it with passion and a smile.
  • Lastly, remember that everybody involved in this process is a person. It’s easy to demonize big corporations and over-worked HR departments as the bad guys when you’re on the outside looking in, but at the end of the day they’re just people trying to do the best job they can so they don’t find themselves in the thicket too. Rejections are not personal—they’re part of the process. Keeping plugging along, and eventually you’ll get that one, big YES.

posted by Gregg Podolski