Tag Archives: Career services

There Are Two Types of Americans: Employed and Unemployed

9imagesThe title of this blog is of course oversimplified but I wanted to emphasize the vast difference between the two sides. As a career coach, I spend a lot of time with people who are not employed, whether they’re my private clients or attendees at the various job-search networking groups I support and frequent.

On one hand, I certainly understand the self-imposed pressure or the family pressure or friends’ pressure on these people. It can be debilitating, devastating, and, as time goes by, more and more depressing. On the other hand, many of those who are currently employed simply don’t understand those on the other side. While the unemployed have to succumb to the reality that the money that used to come in has stopped and while they have to make very painful and unprecedented lifestyle changes, those who are employed and therefore unaffected by the 8 percent rate of unemployment live their lives as well as ever they did. The restaurants in my area are always very busy, and my neighborhood’s Lotus dealer is selling those $75,000 cars; I can tell by the dealer’s parking lot.

So, what’s the solution for those in transition?! NETWORKING is the solution. Having an excellent résumé is a must, of course, but a good résumé is not good enough in today’s competitive marketplace. Most important of all, finding someone to hand carry your résumé to a hiring manager is certainly a huge plus. How do you make that happen? By sliding into the company through networking via, say, LinkedIn, other social media, and networking meetings–and finding the right person to help you.

A recent executive client of mine had been a stellar performer throughout his career but was out of work for five weeks through no fault of his own. Similar to the pattern of all of those in transition, he was down and upset and frustrated about his new situation. I implored him to increase his networking activities, and he did. Last week, I bumped into him at a networking meeting. Later, he told me that while there he was asked by one of the other networkers for a copy of his résumé. The next day, the wife of that other networker called him to invite him to interview. The way it looks now and with a little bit of luck, this job seeker will be extended a job offer. What a wonderful story, hopefully having a happy ending that will prove my point. Networking is the answer.


While in transition you must stay informed

Photo by Stuart Miles

Photo by Stuart Miles

Your status while in transition is that of a consultant, especially when you’re interviewing for a job. The would-be employer needs you because you might be able to solve certain company problems. To prove that you can, you must stay on top of things and demonstrate that you’re knowledgeable about the employer’s industry in general, about the sector the company is in in particular, and even about the most current issues and developments in the hiring manager’s field. So, how do you do that?

I’m a career coach helping people in transition every day. I, too, must demonstrate to clients that I’m on top of my industry. To achieve that, at least one hour a day seven days a week I read about general subjects in daily papers (mostly online), about business subjects in several business magazines I subscribe to, and about current events via the Internet when such news flashes onto my screen. Naturally, I focus more on issues that pertain to jobs and the like by reading articles by people I follow on Twitter.

I find an equally important source of information at various networking forums by meeting and chatting with people in attendance. For example, the other day I was the presenter at a job search networking group, but because of the inclement weather, the turnout was significantly smaller than expected. The situation allowed the presentation to turn into more of a focus group chat, which was even more appropriate because the presentation was called How to Be Effective When Networking. Most of the attendees had basic familiarity with job search networking, but they had special interest in the comparison between classical, or traditional, networking and social networking.

People in transition should learn, embrace, and actively participate in social networking. This is admittedly a totally new, up-and-coming element in the job search armamentarium, and those who master it benefit the most.

On another subject during that meeting—but an especially pertinent part of the group’s learning—a participant recounted an interview situation he’d recently experienced. The interview was with a human resources representative half his age, who blatantly and repeatedly violated the age discrimination law. Frustrated and furious, the job seeker ended the interview, later reporting the experience to higher-ups in the company. The interviewer was fired three days later and dared to call the candidate on the phone to complain to him. For me, this certainly sounded like a learning experience.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as a tool in your career search

Woman Holding Broom and DustpanThere are a number of very good tests of personality type on the market, and as a career coach I always recommend that people in transition explore the results of such tests and apply those results in their decision-making processes. Being in transition is an opportune time to assess where you are and what you want to pursue in the future. For the purpose of this article, I focus on one of the most popular tests: the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI.

Let’s face it: we are what we do. When casually asked, “So, what do you do?” we typically answer with our title or we identify our industry. We reply, “I’m a vice president at XYZ Bank,” or, “I teach in special ed.” However, neither answer gives a clue about whether the person is good at the job or enjoys doing it. If you probe a bit further with a second question, ”How did you get into that profession?” the answer in most cases proves that it was a coincidence. When deciding on a profession, we took into consideration what we thought we could do, what others such as parents and friends thought we should do, and what our own intuition said regarding what we wanted to do.

A few years ago, I took the opportunity to sit for several personality tests, and while all of them gave me clues and insights beyond what I see every morning in the mirror, I found the MBTI intriguing. Most of us are not clear regarding what it is that satisfies us, but we know well what we don’t like doing. The MBTI personality test can reveal the secret of which career choice might fulfill and satisfy you and enhance the quality of your life.

The traditional approach we take in selecting a career path focuses on our values, interests, and abilities based on skills. None of those assures us that we’ll enjoy what we’ll do and that we’ll have fun with it. Each person has an individual personality type—an issue that usually is neither recognized nor properly addressed in the choosing of a career path. The MBTI deals with personality types. It deals with how we interact with the world, how we focus our energy, the kind of information we instinctively notice, the ways we make decisions, and whether we prefer more structure versus spontaneity.

The MBTI suggests that there are 16 personality types. It differentiates between extroverts and introverts, between people who sense and those who make decisions on intuition, between those who are thinkers and those who are more gut-feeling types, and between those who judge and those who perceive. The completed test needs to be interpreted by a qualified person for a nominal fee. My results were pretty accurate, but the likely profession that the MBTI recommended I would enjoy was a far cry from what I can associate myself with.