10 Gifts Job Searchers Need But Won’t Ask For

Sometimes the best gifts can't be wrapped.

Sometimes the best gifts can’t be wrapped.

Ask a job searcher what they want for Christmas.  From my experience, the answer is “a job.”  The last thing a job searcher needs is a scented candle or a box of chocolates.  While these gifts are delightful, they don’t give the job searcher what he/she really needs—meaningful employment and a paycheck.  You can be assured a job searcher won’t want to impose.

Some of the best gifts don’t cost anything at all.  The most thoughtful gifts are ones that show the recipient that you are aware of their needs and likes.  Most of the items in the following list can’t be wrapped and placed under the tree, but they can be given sincerely to help someone succeed.

  1. Introduce the job searcher to one or more of your contacts.  Over 85% of jobs are obtained through networking. The one you introduce them to could be THE ONE.
  2. Offer to practice the interview and offer constructive criticism.  Interviewing is stressful; practice helps to reduce some of the stress.
  3. Volunteer to proofread their resumes and cover letters before they send them out.  Be willing to do this often as job searchers need to send a separate resume for each position.
  4. Keep in touch.  Contact and socializing are beneficial to everyone.  The relationship with other people is vital at this time.  Their confidence and dignity have been reduced, and spending day after day on the computer alone can take its toll.
  5. Bring them as a guest to your gym.  Exercise relieves stress and keeps the mind sharp.   Or offer to be a walking buddy.
  6. When job searchers get discouraged, they find it difficult to keep up the job search.  An accountability buddy will keep them on task.  However, you want to be firm but patient
  7. Take the job searcher out for coffee/lunch to brainstorm search strategies, companies, contacts and such.  Or just let them vent without judging them.  They need someone to listen to them.  You don’t have to give advice or say anything meaningful.  Moral support during this difficult time is critical.
  8. Give an order of business cards on quality cardstock or a pad folio for a professional look when networking or interviewing. gift card/cash comes in handy in so many ways.  Buying food, gas, clothes, and paying bills is hard at this time.
  9. Provide some time with a career coach to evaluate their job search and make recommendations for improvements for quicker success.
  10. A gift certificate for personal grooming with a barber or hair stylist. A job searcher can use it before an interview or networking event.

It isn’t too late; there is still time to get the job searcher you know what he or she actually wants.  It will help to know that it can be a touchy subject to offer unsolicited advice.  So proceed carefully and tactfully.   Be assured that the support you give will be highly appreciated.

How can I help you in your job search?

Less is Success When Searching for a Job during the Holidays or Anytime

Less is success

Less is success

During this holiday season, you are combing a job search with holiday preparations. At this point, you are probably stressing yourself trying to get everything done. I don’t have advice on how to cut your stress about your holiday preparations, but I do have some advice about your job search.

If you are like most people, you are trying to get a job as quickly as you can. There are many ways to accomplish this task but only some are successful. One method that isn’t very successful is the spray and pray approach. It involves applying to everything and anything you see that you are qualified for, are interested in or are willing to do.

It sounds like a good idea for getting a job a.s.a.p. However, it isn’t a very good plan for many reasons. But for my purposes here, I want to discuss two sources of job search frustration resulting from the spray and pray approach.

The first is “the black hole.” Ever heard of “ the black hole?” That is where your résumé goes when you apply for positions that don’t match your skills and experience. Even though you are willing to learn how to do the job or are prepared to take a lower level position, the employer doesn’t see it your way. He/she is looking for the person who best fits the needs of the job.

The second is silence. Job searchers complain about the lack of communication from companies. When too many people apply for open positions, it creates an overwhelming number of resumes. It makes responding to each one an impossible task, and you feel frustrated because you haven’t heard from the company.

The way to avoid job search frustration is to target your job search. Only apply for jobs that you are absolutely qualified for and have experience. Of course, this will significantly cut the number of resumes you send. It’s a time saver as you are not spending the time to tailor your résumé to highlight your skills and experience for a position that you won’t be considered. And you won’t feel frustrated that you haven’t heard from the company.

Targeting your job search activities to only positions that are relevant for you saves time and frustration during a season when there are many other things taking your attention and causing your anxiety. Don’t let your job search be one of them. Success will come quicker when you are only looking for jobs that you will have a chance of obtaining. You will be able to spend more time with family and friends and enjoy the holidays.


How can I help you in your job search?

Holiday Networking Success for Introverts Part II

I can network.

I can do this.

In my last post, I shared with you steps you can take to prepare for a networking event and that you should practice so that you will have an easier time when you get to the event. Tips on what to do when you are there and after are below.

While you are there, step out of your comfort zone and build relationships with people who will benefit from knowing you. You have prepared and practiced, and now it’s show time

  • Arrive early before the bulk of the crowd arrives. You will feel less intimidated with only a few people in the room.
  • Bring a trusted friend/colleague to introduce you to others, provide emotional support, and tips for success.
  • Look around the room for someone who looks like you feel. Engaging in conversation with this person is a low risk way to start the event.
  • No matter how many people are at the event, you don’t have to connect with all of them. You have set a goal. Once you have reached your goal you can either continue or stop the choice is yours.
  • It’s a good idea to take a break from networking to restore your energy. Every venue will have a restroom where you can retreat to. Find a quiet corner to check your email/voice mail or reread your notes and goals. With a boost of energy, you can continue to work the room.
  • Fake it until you make it. Walking around the room with a smile, firm handshake and welcoming body language no one will see the terror that is raging throughout your body.
  • Once you have engaged someone in conversation, you can take on the role of listener. Allow them to do what most people enjoy-talking about them while it takes the pressure from you to keep the conversation going.
  • Know when and how to end the conversation. There is something to be said about less is more. Instead of getting to the point where you start rambling or fumbling for more conversation, thank them for taking the time to talk with you; acknowledge they must have many people they want to see; you appreciate their time; and you would like to continue the conversation at a mutually convenient time.
  • Ask for a business card or contact information so that you can follow-up.

After the event you are finished the hard part, but there is still some work to do. But you will be more comfortable connecting one-on-one and have had time to relax and recharge.

  • Look at your goals and see if you accomplished them. If the answer is yes, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. If not, don’t beat yourself up It isn’t about the quantity of your network it is the quality. You stepped out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there.
  • Follow up in the way you said you would. You worked hard to get the contact, don’t lose it by not following up. Networking is about building a relationship not just collecting connections. It will serve you later down the road.

You have something to offer everyone you talk to, and they want to meet you. These tips are meant to help you in doing what is uncomfortable for you. Don’t hide in a quiet corner, got out there– mix and mingle your way to success.

How can I help you in your job search?

Holiday Networking Success for Introverts Part I

I hate networking

I hate networking

It seems that the road to success is networking.  It can be career suicide if you fail to network in this day and age.  Everyone is doing it and needs to do it.  But for many, networking is more painful than anything imaginable.   For introverts, shy people and those who are socially challenged, it doesn’t mean the end of the world.  With the helpful tips found here, you can build a network to match any extrovert.

Before you go to the event, prepare and practice.   Having done this ahead of time will take some of the pressure off while you are in the situation.  You will know what to say, how to say it, and when to quit.

  • Prepare:
    • Write 3-5 open-ended questions that are appropriate for everyone in the room.  Questions about the venue, food, weather, upcoming holiday, etc. act as a lead-in to a conversation.
    • Know what’s going on around you and in the world so that you are can keep up with conversations by reading the newspaper, listening/watching the news, and keeping up with other current events.
    • If possible, find out who will be there ahead of time.  Do a Google/LinkedIn search on people you are interested in meeting.  When you have some background information, you can prepare questions and have some knowledge about the person so you won’t be at a loss for words.
    • Assemble a list of goals you would like to achieve at the event.  Find a reasonable number of people you would like to connect with at the event.  You don’t need to talk to everyone, but having a number will keep you focused on continuing the networking.
  • Practice:
    • Ask family and close friends to help you prepare for the event by allowing you to practice your questions, rehearse body language that is welcoming, friendly and social, and prepare general chit-chat.   Ask them for honest feedback and take their suggestions for improvement.
    • Go over your elevator speech many times so it comes out sounding natural and not over-rehearsed.
    • Practicing while you are in a safe environment will give you confidence.  The more you practice the better and more self-confident you will become, which makes networking so much easier.

My next post will help you when you are at the event and after the event.  In the meantime, start preparing and practicing.  It’s never too early to be ready.

How can I help you in your job search?

Five Things You Should Know About Networking during the Holidays

laughing at a party

It’s the best time to be looking for a job.   It’s a highly social time of the year. Everyone is hosting a party to celebrate a holiday or the end of the year.  Due to the nature of the holidays, people are in a giving mood.  Attend as many events as you can and meet as many people as you can. 

Here are five things you should know to make this holiday season’s networking successful for you.

Networking isn’t about getting the job.  It’s about establishing relationships with people.  It’s about being giving and taking with you doing quite a bit of giving while establishing a relationship.  Give with a sincere and generous spirit instead of “I’ll give now but you will have to give later.”  That’s a one-sided relationship.  While networking in this way, you need patience.  Things will not happen overnight.  But, you are laying foundations and planting seeds that will pay off in the long run.

Know how to start conversations.  People are not going to events looking for you.  You are looking for them.  Before the event, take a look at the news to see what people are talking about.  Some good starters are the weather, the venue and the refreshments, the event sponsor/host, or local sports teams.  Avoid hot topics such as politics and religion. 

Follow up.  Building a relationship requires contact after the first conversation.  Remember to continue the relationship after the holidays. During the conversation, note the things that interest them or some problem they want solved.   When you follow-up, include where you met and a little about your conversation.

Some tips. 

                      Dress—You don’t want to be remembered for the “outfit” you were wearing.   Keep your apparel festive but conservative.

                      Food—Don’t over indulge at any party.  It’s a long season with delicious, tempting food resulting in holiday weight gain you will regret in the New Year.

                      Alcohol—Avoid alcohol; stick to soft drinks or club soda.  You reduce your inhibitions and run the risk of not remembering the people you spoke to and what you said you would follow-up on. And you don’t want to embarrass yourself.

                      Business cards and resumes—Bring plenty of business cards with you; you don’t want to run out when you meet “the” person.  Wait for a request for your résumé before sending it out and don’t give it at networking events.  

Final thoughts.  Your mindset will go a long way in determining how successful you are during the holiday season.  People like friendly, positive people.  They will be more willing to help you if you are a likeable person. 

The holiday season is the best time to build your network.  Family, friends, companies, schools, associations and clubs celebrate at the end of the year.  Be prepared to meet people and add to your network.  Enjoy yourself, be positive and a new job will be waiting for you in the New Year.

How can I help you in your job search?