Here’s a GPS — guidance planning solution — for your job search. Your GPS starts with attitude and ends with communication. Why? Your success directly relates to: 1) not quitting on yourself, and 2) effective written and oral communications.
Attitude is everything. Karl Menninger, an American psychiatric guru, said, “Attitudes are more important than facts.” Based on the latest statistics, more than 800,000 people, (i.e., equivalent to the population of San Francisco) had their attitude shaped by the high unemployment rate.
These discouraged people decided that “couch potato,” a non-paying job with no future, was preferable to hearing “no” when sending out résumés, networking and interviewing. Quitters never win.
Conversely, winners never quit. Harlan Sanders, of KFC fame, heard “no” over 900 times before a restaurant agreed to use his “finger-lickin’ good” recipe. Thomas Edison found more than 10,000 ways not to invent the light bulb.
Rita J., a single mother raising two kids, lost her customer-service job 15 months ago. Last week, she found a job after sending out 322 résumés, networking with everyone she could, and going on 15 interviews before receiving an offer. She urged me to tell readers that they should “never quit on themselves.”
Yes, the employment landscape bears more than a faint resemblance to a wasteland. Yes, the competition is fierce. Yes, it takes longer to find a job — and that job might not pay as much as the one you had. Nevertheless, hearing nothing, or hearing “no,” is a bump in a bumpy road, not the end of the road.
Tips: Relative to written communications (e.g., cover letter, résumé), don’t mince words. Make your point as quickly as possible. Employers usually receive more than 100 responses for each job ad. The cover letters with short bullet points that stress “I fit” are page-turners; they get the screener to at least look at your résumé.
When it comes to résumés, you’ll need two types — one for job applications, one for networking. The preferred job-application résumé uses a chronological format. For those whose search has been longer than six months, you can list “looking for a job” as a job.
In that job description, you can list all the things you’ve done to find work (e.g., online and snail-mail applications, networking, researching companies, skills development, staying current by reading trade publications, etc.).
On the other hand, your networking interview lists information by functions and accomplishments, not by date.
Some things to remember about résumés: Replace “Objective” with a two-sentence “Professional Summary” that states what you can offer an employer. Below that comes the “Skills Summary”; it’s two columns of three bullets that show the skills that support your “Professional Summary.”
The “Accomplishments” list should use industry keywords, because résumé-screening software searches for them. Include dollars and percentages wherever possible so that readers (i.e., potential employers) can see the positive impact you’ve made on prior employers.
Focus on the last five years — a company won’t hire you for what you did “ages” ago. Never include personal information.
Some research shows that 55 percent of communication centers on body language. The eyes observe bearing (nervous, confident, etc.). In other words, your listeners’ eyes confirm your words.
When it comes to words, tone and inflection “say” more than the words themselves. But choose words wisely, because the 500 most common words have more than 15,000 meanings. Speak the language of your audience.
To ensure that everyone is on the same page, ask questions to get feedback. Also, don’t say “Yes, but …” which means “no.” Instead, use “Yes, and how …” or “Please share more about your perspective.”
Use the job-search GPS to keep you on the path to opportunity. Good luck and don’t give up!