Where Do You Want to Work? Make a List of Target Employers

When searching for your next job, you’re probably focusing your efforts on postings you see online or opportunities pitched by recruiters who find your resume on LinkedIn or major job boards like CareerBuilder or Monster. However, you can be more proactive and broaden your employment possibilities by creating your own target list of 30-50 companies. 

Before making this list, consider these important questions:   

  • What types of positions are you suited for? Where have you gained most of your work experiences and cultivated your knowledge?
  • Which industries will get the most value from your skill set?
  • What industries, companies and products match your personal interests and passions?
  • Where are you willing to work, in terms of preferred cities and states?
  • What size of company do you want to work for, i.e., a large corporation, smaller privately-held company, mid-sized firm or start-up?
  • Which companies would be on your “dream employer” list?

By answering these questions, you’ll be establishing a solid foundation for your list, which makes the list-building process less daunting. With this criteria in place, you can search for specific companies with greater ease. For example, if you’re a lawyer in Southern Wisconsin, you can search for firms (in your area of practice) that have a significant presence in the greater Milwaukee area.

Here are some free resources that will help you find target companies:  

1. America‘s Career InfoNet Employer Locator: This comprehensive database offered by CareerOneStop.org is searchable by industry, occupation, location, and keyword: https://www.careerinfonet.org/select_occupation.asp?next=occ_rep

2. ReferenceUSA.com: This resource is available in most libraries, which allows you to access it from home using your library card and PIN number. Companies can be searched by name, industry, region, sales volume and other specific criteria: www.referenceusa.com

3. Inc. 5000: This is a list of the fastest-growing privately-held companies in the U.S. Considering that large corporations are usually the first to have massive layoffs in troubled economic times, these smaller, privately-held companies will allow you to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. http://www.inc.com/inc5000/list/2016/

4. Regional business journals: These often overlooked publications provide a wealth of information about what’s new in companies within your local area, which will expand your scope of employers beyond what you’ve seen on job boards. To find a regional business journal in your area, check out: http://newslink.org/biznews.html. (Side note: There’s usually an annual fee for print publications, but many offer free, abridged online versions.)  

5. LinkedIn: Scan through your LinkedIn contacts to see where they are employed and where they previously worked. You’ll get more ideas for target companies, while setting a foundation for future networking. If certain companies appeal to you, add them to your list. Then, consider reaching out to your contacts for referral meetings, networking conversations, or informational interviews, to get a “feel” for what it’s like to work in those companies, as well as for possible connections to hiring managers.

When you have your list together, you can also use it to create targeted direct mail campaigns or to make outreach calls to hiring managers. One of my CPA clients compiled a list of small accounting firms in her area, sent a letter of interest to each one, and made follow-up phone calls to these firms’ managing partners. This effort landed her a job just in time for the January tax season!

Whichever way you plan to use your target list, you’ll have an effective and practical alternative to relying on Internet job boards or recruiters. 

© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach 2017 All Rights Reserved. www.career-success-coach.com

Job Hunting Tips for the Holidays

Holiday-Job-SearchMany people will put their job search activities “on hold” between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, because they believe that companies don’t hire during this time of year...and this couldn’t be further from the truth! 

Employers hire ALL 12 months of the year. Many new positions are funded to start with a new budget year, which often coincides with a new calendar year. Other companies have hiring budgets which must be spent before year-end, so hiring managers have the choice to either “use it or lose it.” 

Sometimes, it’s even easier to reach decision-makers directly during November and December; in some companies, key personnel and decision-makers will stay in the office during the holidays, while other staff takes mandatory paid time off.

Besides this, continuing your job search during the holiday season will you an edge over candidates who are “timing-out” until January, which means less competition for you!   

One aspect of the holiday season is that there are many opportunities to get out there and spread the word about your job search, like company parties, social gatherings and end-of-year professional association events. You never know who you’ll meet who could connect you to your next opportunity. People are also likely to be in a generous spirit and will have more time to help you.

Here are some ideas to get you started: 

  1. Accept all invitations you receive for holiday celebrations.Use these opportunities to make new connections and to reacquaint yourself with people who could be helpful in your job search.
  1. Reconnect with old friends and colleagues. Get back in touch with former co-workers and supervisors, high school and college classmates, former neighbors, etc. These people can be untapped sources of information, job leads, and referrals.
  1. Host your own holiday party which doesn’t have to be anything formal or elaborate; it can be as simple as a Sunday afternoon open house where people can mix and mingle. While your job search shouldn’t be the central focus of the party, you could mention it during individual conversations at the appropriate time.
  1. Volunteer. There are many opportunities during the holidays to give your time to charities and organizations. Some of these opportunities can help you build your network, make new connections, and bolster your resume with some value-added experience.  
  1. Send out holiday cards, if this is part of your end-of year tradition.  If you’re on a tight budget, e-cards can be more cost-effective than those sent via postal mail. Whichever method you choose, you’ll set the stage to contact the people on your address list after the holidays, to tell them you’re job searching and would appreciate their help.
  1. Update your social media presence. If you don’t yet have a LinkedIn profile, now is the time to create yours. If you have one, give it a fresh look. Invite new people to connect; then give and/or ask for recommendations.
  1. Look for opportunities to get your foot in the door. If you’re currently unemployed, look for temporary or seasonal jobs that may lead to full-time positions.
  1. Reconnect with recruiters. Many are trying to reach year-end recruiting goals at this time of the year, and you may have just the skills they are looking for.
  1. Be reachable. You might be asked to interview at unusual times, even the day before Christmas. Keep your phone turned on. Check your voice mail and  email (including your spam folder) daily, so that you won’t miss important messages about potential job opportunities.

So, think carefully before deciding to postpone your job search during the holiday season. A job search that continues through December will give you the opportunity to get hired before the end of the year…or a head start over other candidates when the calendar turns over on January 1, 2016.

© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach. http://www.career-success-coach.com

The Power of Face-To-Face Networking

When I moved from the Chicago area to Worcester, Massachusetts in June 2007, I networked like crazy, to meet new people, which has been great for my business and social life. Some of my activities included joining Toastmasters, serving on the sisterhood board of my synagogue, and belonging to a bi-monthly business networking group.

Networking was challenging for me, being new in town, along with my introverted personality, which means that I need “downtime” after being with groups of people. Just to clarify: introverts get their energy from spending time alone; extroverts thrive from interactions with others…and introversion has nothing to do with the ability to socialize with people. So, you can say that I’m a well-socialized introvert who can bring out my “inner extrovert” at will. :)   

Over time, I began to burn-out from too many activities, besides dealing with personal and family issues which needed my attention. So, toward the end of 2010, I began to gradually excuse myself from networking obligations and limited my activities to an occasional event, as long as it fit my budget, interest and schedule.

Eventually, my networking activities dwindled down to nothing...and I became “lazily” comfortable, working at home behind my computer, with limited contact to the outside world, except for public speaking engagements, routine medical appointments, and traveling to visit family for holidays and special occasions.

Along with my slow-down in networking activities, I noticed an equally slow time in business and felt like I’d gotten myself into a rut. I also realized that I wasn’t practicing what I preach to my job-seeking clients: that most opportunities come from networking, which is also true for business owners and private practitioners like me.   

So, in August and September 2014, I decided to break out of my rut and get back out there! Even though I’m not a fan of after-hours mixers, I attended a Worcester Chamber of Commerce mixer at a local antique mall. I also participated in a public speaking seminar led by a PR expert and former Worcester TV news anchor, as well as an all-day women’s event (Respect Her Hustle EntreprenHER Summit) sponsored by a Boston-based film producer.

My goal for these events was just to get out, meet new people and have fun…and that’s exactly what happened! Besides this, I feel re-energized and out of my rut…PLUS, I’ve seen a noticeable up-tick in new business and inquiries about my service. 

Now, I can’t exactly say that the new business and inquiries are the direct result of my activities. However, what I HAVE noticed is that the more I’m “out there,” the more new opportunities come my way, whether from people I meet at events…or from somewhere or someone else, completely unrelated to these activities. 

I call this phenomenon: “Shaking the Trees of the Universe” - my own “spin” on Newtonian physics, about a body at rest and a body in motion: “Action Begets Action – Inertia Leads Nowhere.” In other words, the busier you are, the busier you’ll get! 

So, whether you’re a job-seeker or a business owner looking for new clients, I strongly encourage you to get out from behind your computer and attend live, local events where you’ll meet like-minded people. These can be seminars or summits like the ones I attended; or even educational programs sponsored by professional associations you may belong to.

You’ll learn about these local events through listings in the business calendar of your town’s newspaper, chamber of commerce newsletter, or regional business journal. Just go, have fun…and watch what happens. If you are lucky enough to meet someone who connects you with your next career opportunity or new client (whether directly or indirectly) this is icing on the cake!     

Well, that’s it for now! I hope you’ve enjoyed my insights about networking and that you can apply the lessons I’ve learned to your own work/life situation

Nine Mistakes That Can Derail Your Confidential Job Search

When conducting a confidential job search, be careful to avoid making these top nine mistakes, to ensure that your search stays off of your employer’s radar: 

1Attending job fairs. You might think that job fairs are “safe” activities, especially if your employer’s name isn’t on the roster of participating companies at a job fair. This is what one job seeker thought. However, as he made the rounds of the booths, his current boss spotted him, leading to an awkward conversation and his departure from the company sooner than he had originally planned. Don’t let this happen to you! Review the list of participating employers and note the recruiters’ contact information. If you are interested in working for any of the companies, reach out privately, instead of at the job fair.

2) Responding to “blind ads.” Avoid submitting your resume for positions where the company name isn’t listed. More than one job seeker has applied for “the perfect job” only to find it was their job being advertised! Sometimes, you can find out the identity of the company behind the blind ad, if responses are to be sent to a US Post Office Box. If you can identify the company, you can reach out privately…as long as the company isn’t YOUR employer.

3) Job searching at work or on company time; this includes making calls from your employer’s landline or cell; or listing these phone numbers on job search materials. You might get unexpected incoming calls on your work phone from recruiters or prospective employers who find you on LinkedIn or through your company’s directory; but you want to avoid making outbound job search calls on your work landline (or cell) because these calls can be tracked and traced. To be safe, make job search calls from your personal cell when you’re on break or at lunch. Be sure that you are speaking from a place where no one can eavesdrop on your conversation.

4) Using your employer’s computer for job search activities. You can be “outed” by your online search history and inbound / outbound email activity, which your employer could be tracking, unbeknownst to you. Avoid storing your resume on your work computer, using company printers or copiers to make copies of your resume, or connecting to your company’s Wi-Fi to conduct job search activities on your personal cell phone or tablet. And never use your company email address on job search materials. Do your job search activities after-hours from your home computer or through your local library.

5) Posting your resume online. Not only is it likely to be found by someone at your current company, but will also stay out there forever; even removing contact info might not help you from being identified. It’s better to apply only for positions you’re interested in and qualified for, directly on the company website (or through the recruitment staff in that company) instead of through a job board.

 6) Scheduling interviews during work hours or at work. You will have to be creative about when – and how – you interview. So, schedule interviews on your day off, before work, during lunch, or after work. Phone or Skype interviews should be conducted offsite, preferably from your home.

7) Posting about your job search on social media. Be sure that you NEVER post ANYTHING on social media about your search or about being unhappy in your current job, regardless of how locked down you think your privacy settings are. Anyone can take a screen shot of your post and share it with someone else.

8) Attending professional association meetings or networking events in full-out job search mode. Instead, go with the purpose of learning something new and making new connections.  It’s a good idea to volunteer at the registration desk, so that you can meet all of the attendees, without appearing to be an overly-eager job seeker.  If you get good vibes from some of the attendees, you can contact them individually, for an informal networking chat or coffee, outside of the event. Avoid discussing your job search with your new connections, unless know for sure you can trust them.

 9) Being deceptive about looking for a job. This is especially important if the question comes from your current boss. If you’re asked, be honest…and this could actually work in your favor, as it did for one of my clients. When her boss found out she was searching, my client used this opportunity to have an open and honest discussion with her boss, about why she wanted to leave the company. Surprisingly, this resulted in a pay raise and better working conditions, because the company didn’t want to lose her.

When you avoid these nine mistakes, you’ll protect your privacy,  maintain professionalism at your job, and convey to hiring managers that you respect your employer by keeping your job search separate from your daily work responsibilities.

(c) Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach www.career-success-coach.com. All Rights Reserved

LinkedIn Tips for a Confidential Job Search

LinkedIn is the top social networking site for passive candidates who want to be found. But simply having a LinkedIn profile might draw suspicion from your current employer, so you want to be careful how you use the site.

First, find out what your current company’s policy is about LinkedIn. If there isn’t one, consider approaching your boss about the strategic value of company employees having a presence on the social networking site. As LinkedIn itself points out: “Just because you use LinkedIn doesn’t mean you’re looking for a job. Many people use LinkedIn to keep in contact with others and help them succeed in their current position.”

Your employer may even encourage development of your LinkedIn profile. Here are some reasons your company may support employees involvement on LinkedIn: 

  • Your employer’s company profile will be more robust if current employees are on LinkedIn.
  • Employees can connect with potential customers.
  • Employees can demonstrate thought leadership and expert positioning for the company through involvement in LinkedIn Groups related to the company’s work.
  • Potential candidates can reach out to current employees through LinkedIn.

Even if your company supports employee involvement on LinkedIn for business purposes, you still need to deflect being perceived as an active job seeker.  So here are some specific actions you should take on LinkedIn to support your stealth job search, while still being visible for business connections and to facilitate unsolicited job opportunities:

  1. Turn off your activity broadcasts. This is an important first step, as it will ensure that your entire network isn’t notified every time you make a change to your profile. If you don’t turn off this setting, all of your connections will receive notifications of every change you make to your LinkedIn profile. So do this before making any changes! Click here for a quick screenshot tutorial, which explains how to turn off activity broadcasts.
  2. Select who can see your list of connections. The choices are: Your Connections or Only You. Who you know is actually valuable information for future employers who are considering hiring you or searching for you on LinkedIn, so leave this as “Your Connections.”
  3. Select the type of messages you’re willing to receive. Do not click the “Career Opportunities,” “Job Inquiries,” or “New Ventures” boxes — these will show up on your Profile. However, you can check “Expertise Requests,” “Business Deals,” “Personal Reference Requests,” and “Requests to Reconnect.”
  4. Complete the “Advice to People Who Are Contacting You” section on that page. In particular, include your personal phone numbers (home and/or cell) to facilitate employment-related contacts.
  5. Manage your Recommendations. Cultivate these over time; suddenly adding several Recommendations at once may raise suspicion. So request Recommendations over a period of time (for example, one per month), so that they appear more organically.
  6. Avoid revealing proprietary information about your employer on your LinkedIn profile. You want to quantify accomplishments, but not disclose company secrets. Focus on how you’ve helped the company stand out and be successful, not how you stand out and are successful.
  7. Don’t participate in LinkedIn Groups for job seekers while you’re employed. Instead, participate in LinkedIn Groups where you might be found by recruiters or future employers. Contribute your expertise (and carefully considered comments) in job function-specific or industry Groups.
  8.  Build your network of contacts slowly. Do not send out multiple connection requests within a short period of time. If your number of connections jumps from 20 to 120 in just days, that’s suspicious to anyone who might be checking out your profile. You definitely want to get your connection number above 100. But do it over a period of time, not all at once.
  9. Do not use LinkedIn’s profile blocking feature to minimize your LinkedIn visibility to your current boss or colleagues. This will only raise red flags if they know you have a LinkedIn profile but can’t access it. (They can simply ask a friend or colleague to log into their own LinkedIn account and pull up your LinkedIn profile.) If you had previously blocked supervisors or colleagues for this reason, LinkedIn now allows you to “unblock” these individuals. Instructions and your list of blocked individuals can be found athttp://www.linkedin.com/settings/member-block-list
  10.  Don’t upgrade to the paid job seeker membership level. The last thing you need in your confidential job search is a job hunting icon on your LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn is a vital tool for job search, professional development and networking. Just be sure your employer only sees the activity you want them to see.  In my next post, you’ll learn about nine big mistakes that can derail your confidential job search.

(c) Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach www.career-success-coach.com. All Rights Reserved

Getting Started with a Confidential Job Search

One of the best times to look for a new job is when you already have one. Employed candidates are usually more desirable to some hiring managers than those who are unemployed. Some employers have even stipulated that applicants must be employed to be considered; although I’ve heard that some states have banned this practice in recent years.

Searching for a job while employed also has practical benefits. Your current salary can help offset job search investments, such as purchasing new suits or other business attire for interviews, hiring a career coach to help you get clear about your most ideal work, or enlisting the services of a professional resume writer to have your resume and LinkedIn profile updated.

Yet there are drawbacks to searching for a new job while you’re still in your current one. The biggest concern is that your current will employer find out you’re looking. Some bosses consider this disloyal behavior, even if they themselves would have no issue with poaching a candidate from a competitor.

Some companies even have internal or unwritten policies that if an employee is discovered to be looking for a new job, they should be replaced, to avoid having to quickly fill a key position when the employee’s two-week notice is given.

So, here are some key strategies to use when conducting a confidential job search, to keep it off of your employer’s radar:

* Choose carefully who you tell. If you tell anyone you’re looking for a new job, ask them to keep the information confidential. Be especially careful with co-workers, who might accidentally let it slip, or who may see you as disloyal. When in doubt, tell no one.

* Let recruiters know you’re conducting a confidential job search. Ask to be informed before you are presented as a candidate for a specific opportunity, so that you can know ahead of time, if your boss might know the people you’re interviewing with.

* Tell prospective employers that you are conducting a confidential job search. That will explain why you’re not listing co-workers or supervisors as references.

* Set up a free generic Gmail or Yahoo email account. Choose a simple and professional email address such as your desired job title; for obvious reasons, do NOT use your name in that email address.

* Create a confidential version of your resume, starting with putting “Confidential Resume” on top:

  • Remove your name and contact information, except for your generic email address and personal cell phone number.
  • Leave off your home phone number because a reverse phone number lookup may reveal your identity.
  • Provide a generic description of what your employer does instead of listing it’s actual name.
  • Omit the dates from your education section; having your degree, school, and year makes you easier to identify.
  • Save your resume file with a name that does NOT include YOUR name, e.g. “Sales Candidate for Sales Position with XYZ Company.” Be sure you check the “Properties” box in MS Word under the File menu and delete your name and contact info.

* Watch what you wear. If you typically work in a business casual environment and you show up in a suit because you have an interview over lunch, this is likely to arouse suspicion. Plan enough time to change before your interview, preferably NOT at your current workplace or the company where you’re interviewing; better yet, use your personal or vacation time for interviews; or schedule them after-hours.

* Keep up your efforts at work while you conduct your job search. In fact, go above and beyond with what you’re doing in your current job. Companies want employees who are committed to their job, not their job search.

* Look for other ways to get found and increase your visibility, such as opportunities to write, speak, volunteer and advise in your area of expertise, through professional association or club memberships. When you connect with the right people, the right opportunities will find you.

One of the best ways to connect with other professionals is on LinkedIn. While you want to make sure you have a robust LinkedIn profile, you must also be cautious about what your employers and colleagues will see. Read my next post in this series, which offers specific LinkedIn tips for your confidential job search. 

New Year – New Job!

If your goal is to get a new job in the New Year, here are eight “prep steps” to get you started: 

1.    Update your resume. While your resume should be customized for a specific job, having an up-to-date resume targeted for a specific type of position is the next best thing. So, if you’ve taken on extra responsibilities in your current job, changed your job goal, or have earned new certifications or educational credentials, now is the time to add this content to your resume. It’s good to get the content “out of your brain and onto the paper” while it’s fresh in your mind. You can always edit your resume later, for a specific opportunity. 

2.      Develop or update your LinkedIn profile. A LinkedIn profile doesn’t replace your resume; rather, it complements it. Hiring managers seeking candidates with your skills and expertise might search on LinkedIn and find your profile. As well, someone in your network can easily forward your LinkedIn URL when referring you to a hiring manager. Be sure your LinkedIn profile is complete AND up-to-date. 

3.    Conduct salary research to know what you’re worth. One of the most common reasons people consider job changes is for a salary increase. But how do you know what you’re worth? Check out ww.jobsearchintelligence.com and www.Glassdoor.com to see how your current salary and benefits stack up, so that you’ll have a baseline for negotiating your next offer. 

4.  Build your network. It is estimated that 40-80% of jobs are found through networking with professional and personal connections. Networking isn’t just about who YOU know; it’s about who your CONTACTS know. Many times, it’s the friend of a colleague who can help you land your dream job. One of my clients had a goal to reach 500 connections on her LinkedIn profile. Shortly after that happened, a recruiter she had never met arranged an interview for her in her niche and she is close to negotiating an offer.

5.   Manage your online reputation. More and more, hiring managers are checking you out online before they interview you. What will they find when they type your name into Google? How about Facebook or Twitter? Now is the time to clean up your online profiles. Delete any postings hinting about complaints with your current job or employer. 

6.    Define your ideal job. “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” This famous quote from Yogi Berra is important to remember in your job search. If you don’t know what your ideal job looks like, how will you recognize it when it comes? What job titles fit you? What tasks do you enjoy doing? Do you want to work alone, on a team, or both? Do you like short- or long-term projects? Answer these questions to start defining your ideal job.

7.    Create a target list of companies you’d like to work for. Like your ideal job, you probably prefer a certain type of organization as an employer. Things to consider are: company size, industry, workplace culture, location, and structure, e.g., public, private, family-owned, franchise, nonprofit, etc. Once you’ve made your list, look for companies that fit your criteria. 

8.  Decide if you need help with your career plans. While the steps above seem simple enough, you might be feeling stuck on one or more of them, which could be blocking your progress. If so, feel free to request a private call with me. We’ll discuss your situation in more detail and determine what the next steps are, so that you can finally land an ideal job that is both fulfilling AND financially-rewarding!

© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach 2015 www.career-success-coach.com

What You Need to Know About Working With Recruiters

Working with recruiters can be one way to land your next job. However, it’s important to understand the reasons why companies invest in recruiters — and what recruiters’ roles actually are in the hiring process.

Companies usually have four main reasons for investing in recruiters: 

  1. They’ve been unable to find the right candidates through ads or their networks.
  2. They want candidates with long tenures in specific professions — not career changers.
  3. They want to lure a talented candidate who is working for a competitor.
  4. They have high-turnover positions and want to build their pool of applicants.

Subsequently, companies will hire recruiters to fill specific positions for them. As such, recruiters work on behalf of client companies – NOT as job-seeking candidates’ agents. In other words, it’s NOT a recruiter’s role to find a candidate a job.

There are two types of recruiters:

  • Retained search firms are paid upfront to handle exclusive searches for $80K-$500K positions, usually for high-level academic posts or C-level positions in public or private companies. The client companies’ requirements for candidates are very explicit, such as a degree from specific school or past employment at a certain company.
  • Contingency recruiters get paid only upon presenting the candidate who is hired. Usually, contingency recruiters get an assignment from a client company; then they’ll search for a candidate who matches the qualifications by placing ads, calling competitors or looking through their résumé files for candidates. They function as a “middle man/woman” between the company and the candidates they present.

Whether or not you decide to work with recruiters depends on your situation. Either way, your job search plan should include a list of 50+ target companies where you’d like to work and the names of people you want to meet. With good networking skills, it’s valuable to meet hiring managers through your own efforts, without the help of recruiters.

Here’s why: If a contingency recruiter presents you to one of your targeted employers where you already have inside connections you’ve just added thousands of dollars to your potential employer’s hiring process. For example, you could cost $85K ($65K salary + $20K recruiter’s fee) to hire. If this employer really has an $85K budget to hire for a $65K position, why not get an extra $20K for yourself as an increased salary or a sign-on or performance bonus?

On the other hand, if there are companies you simply can’t reach on your own, recruiters can be helpful. In retained searches, they are the gatekeepers you must go through and are usually accommodating if the position is a fit for you.

One major downside of working with recruiters is feeling like you are no longer in control of your search. Recruiters seem to “call all the shots,” are very guarded about what goes on behind hiring managers’ closed doors, and usually won’t allow you to communicate directly with hiring managers in between interviews. You have to decide if giving up some of this control will be worthwhile in the long run.    

There are pros and cons to working with recruiters. If your skills are rare and in demand, you have substantial experience in your field, or you want to work for a competitor, recruiters may be able to lead you to your next job. Otherwise, you are better off conducting your own job search through your own network and resources.

For additional information about how things work behind the scenes with recruiters, read this content-rich article: “Working with Recruiters”, masterfully written by Jim Pawlak, career columnist and workforce development expert.

© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach 2014 All Rights Reserved www.career-success-coach.com 

The Secret Ingredient of Job Search Success

There’s an abundance of information out there about how to find an ideal job. Multitudes of Twitter tips, blog posts and articles galore tell you how to create a targeted job search, tap the hidden job market, reach out to your network, build a great resume and LinkedIn profile, and ace the interview.

Unfortunately, the KEY ingredient for a successful job search – one that brings you interviews leading to job offers – is often missing or easily overlooked. You might have noticed this yourself. For example, you may believe you’re doing everything RIGHT in your search, but you don’t seem to be getting much traction and you don’t know why.

Clues about this missing ingredient can be found in the acronym PROD – coined by one of my colleagues, Susan Whitcomb. With this acronym, successful jobseekers can prod, nudge and motivate themselves daily with:

  • Perseverance: Abraham Lincoln said, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.” Feeling discouraged? Persevere. Feeling fatigued? Persevere. Feeling apathetic? Persevere.
  • Resilience: This is the ability to recover from disappointments, such as when you don’t get the job offer you were expecting, you learn that a past employer hasn’t given you a great reference, or you got “stage fright” at an important interview. When these events happen, see what lesson you can learn for the future, so you can shorten your bounce-back time and get back on track.
  • Optimism: Optimism is hope personified. There are solutions waiting to be discovered, and insights and learning to be leveraged. Things can get better in the next day or even the next hour or minute, as expressed by the legendary band Fleetwood Mac in their most upbeat, popular song: “Open your eyes and look at today, you’ll see things in a different way! Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow, it will soon be here, better than before, yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone!”
  • Discipline: Discipline is becoming a lost art. Most people associate discipline with pain or punishment. As the biblical saying goes, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Yet, imagine how things could things be different for you if you amped up your level of self-discipline by 5-10%!

Courage is another trait that is essential to success, but that doesn’t mean you always have to feel courageous. Everyone experiences some level of trepidation when they’re going out of their comfort zone to do something big and new. The fear never goes away. But we have a choice, to either be fearful and frustrated, or fearful and free.  

Now, why aren’t these mindset practices emphasized as much as the mechanical techniques of a job search? Because they’re difficult! They don’t come easy. As human beings, we typically want easy, quick fixes to our problems. When these fixes don’t seem to work, we want to quit.  

That brings me to the secret ingredient. Want to know what it is? Look in the mirror. Surprise! It’s YOU – the visible YOU and the YOU underneath, which is the sum of your ACTIONS, fueled by your thoughts, perspectives and beliefs.

So, to bring a better YOU to your job search, add perseverance, resilience, optimism, discipline and courage to your toolbox. When you do, you’ll be that much closer to landing your dream job.

© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach. 2014 All Rights Reserved www.career-success-coach.com

Surprising Career Lessons We Can Learn from Watching Movies

Even though I’m not much of a movie buff, my husband and I usually watch one together on the weekend. One movie we saw a few years ago was an indie film – Tenure – which at first I thought was a so-so, run-of-the-mill comedy. However, as the story unfolded and led to a surprise ending, Tenure carried a meaningful message (which really resonated for me, from a career coaching perspective) about how to make smart career moves.

Tenure takes place at a fictitious liberal arts college located in Pennsylvania. The main character, Charlie Thurber (played by Luke Wilson) is the most popular English Literature professor on campus. He loves his job and his students adore him. He even coaches a new female professor named Elaine Grasso (played by Gretchen Mol) to loosen up in the classroom and bond with her students. Even so, Charlie longs for tenure, which he believed would bring him job security and a large pay raise.

There’s just one catch: to qualify for tenure, Charlie has to write and publish academic articles — an area where he struggles – while academic article-writing comes much easier to his tenured colleagues and to Elaine Grasso who is also competing for tenure. During his employment at the college, he hasn’t written or published a single article, despite his halfhearted attempts to do so.

With just three months to his tenure review, Charlie devotes his energy to writing a literary article, and submits it to as many English literature journals and publication outlets as possible. When he learns that his article has finally been accepted for publication in a “little- known-but-adequate” online resource, the Dean and the academic committee grant him probationary tenure, with ONE condition: he works closely with a designated colleague to get more articles published; otherwise, his tenure would be revoked.

I wondered: would Charlie accept the conditional terms of his tenure? is he going to become a prolific academic writer, while continuing to be a great teacher?

The answer came to me in a surprise ending: Charlie is strolling down a school corridor which appeared to be at the college; but I quickly realized he was entering a classroom of a local high school, as the new English Literature teacher. When he introduces himself to his students, his winning personality has them at “hello.”

Clearly, Charlie took a leap of faith by rejecting the university tenure track in favor of what he did best and enjoyed: teaching English Literature and making it meaningful for his students. He knew literary article-writing was not his strong suit and that he would be fighting an uphill battle to get articles published. He would have exhausted himself in the process, compromised his teaching abilities, and put himself at risk for losing tenure and his job.

So, the “career lesson” to be learned here is this: when you’re working in a career and job you excel at and enjoy, you bring your professional best to your employer, coworkers and clients. No one wins when you struggle to be someone you’re not, doing tasks that burn you out, in exchange for a paycheck and the lure of job security.

The next time you want to change jobs or careers, do this exercise: go through your career history and create a list of all the job tasks you’ve ever done. Put an “X” through your least enjoyable activities and put a circle around your favorites. Keep this list top of mind before accepting your next position, and you’ll choose wisely like Charlie.

© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach 2014 All Rights Reserved / www.career-success-coach.com