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Posts Tagged ‘surviving a job search’

Nothing Comes From Nothing

December 16, 2013 1 comment

HardWork_Header

At this time of year we are bombarded with advertisements trying to entice us to buy more, get this, give that . . . My favourite marketing strategy is the ‘buy one get one free’ or ‘buy two get two free’.  “Come listen to this presentation and get your free paring knife.”  We are led to believe that there is such a thing as free.

The reality is that nothing in life is free.  Someone is paying – whether it be the workers who are paid a pittance, the environment, or perhaps you are not paying with money but with your time listening to a marketing ploy. “Nothing comes from nothing and nothing ever could” (yes, I just watched the Sound of Music).  I have found that if I allow myself to accept this as a fact, I am much less easily manipulated.  If something seems too easy, if someone is telling me that something is free, I should be sceptical.

As a society we are constantly looking for the easy out, how we can get something for nothing.  We want to lose weight without exercising or solve financial hardship by winning the lottery.  The reality is, as Thomas Edison stated, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

When it comes to finding your ideal career, it is an upward climb; it is, indeed, hard work.  Just pulling together a decent resume can take days.  To be successful in a career search, you have to simultaneously be uncomfortably introspective and outgoing.  You need to take the time to understand yourself, your needs, skills, values, and passions, and then look for where those align with a company or a career.  You can get advice and tips, but ultimately no one can do the work for you.  You have to be willing to put yourself out there time and again and risk being knocked down.  Then you need to pick yourself up, brush yourself off and do it all over again.

Sound terrible?  Yes, indeed it may be.  There will be moments where you feel like you are a failure, like you have wasted your time, like you have done everything right and yet everything is going wrong.  You will feel that you deserve it this time around – and you might.  But still you don’t get the job.  And then, just when you think you can’t get up again, you can’t stand submitting another application or preparing for another interview, just when you are ready to quit, you try again because you remember those cheesy quotes that “nothing worth having is free.”

And in that moment between overwhelming exhaustion and opportunity is when things start to look up.  That is when you realize how hard it is to beat someone who never gives up.  (Babe Ruth)

So, in this New Year that is filled with cheap promises of easy comforts – do not be misled for nothing comes from nothing and nothing ever could.

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What Now? A Recent Graduate’s Success With Finding a Job

April 19, 2013 Leave a comment

end of ropeThis post is a follow-up post from a previous guest blogger Sonja Fernandes.

Growing up I was told, “Get an education and the job will come to you”. As it turns out, this is NOT the case. With that being said, I am sure I am not alone when it comes down to deciding what the best route after graduation is. I considered law school, teachers college, graduate school, continuing studies, post graduate programs, entrepreneurship and several job opportunities. After changing my mind almost as often as I changed my underpants, I decided to attain work experience in order to learn more about myself and to grow as a professional.

I have been employed in 3 different contract positions since graduating nearly one year ago and I wanted to share with you the obstacles that I faced and the tips that I learned along the way.

Where to look. I am always confused about where to look for jobs.  There are so many websites and databases out there that it’s difficult to know which one to use. What I have realized is that depending on what field you are interested in will determine where you should be searching. To get the search started, here are some websites that I found to be helpful:

  1. Being young. In my job search I’ve noticed that because I am young, I am able to take risks that I likely would not be able to if I had a family, for example. This is the positive side to being young but there is also a negative side. I have experienced various forms of ageism in my job search. The most notable is the fact that most jobs require 1-3 years experience. How am I supposed to get this while attending school full-time? My advice: get out there now! Even if it means volunteering at a place of work that you would like to be hired by one day. If it wasn’t for the work-study positions that I took in undergrad, then I would not be employed in the position I am today. Getting professional work experience in your field of interest while you’re a student is the key to landing a job after graduation.
  2. Uncertainty. There is a lot of uncertainty to deal with in the job search today. Our economy and society is going through constant changes yet educational standards have remained the same. There are so many options, projects, positions, jobs, careers that it can be overwhelming to think about. My best advice would be to embrace the change and educate yourself; find out what industries are growing, find out what jobs will be in demand when you graduate, find out what marketable/transferable skills are in demand ect. Go with your gut, follow your passions, and leave it to serendipity. Planning your whole life at the age of 20 ‘ish’ is so last century anyways.
  3. Google. In other words, the double edged sword. I have found Google to be an extremely helpful tool in my job search. I will use it to look up anything from employer profiles on LinkedIn to research about salary grades. With that being said, there is also a negative side to Google. Have you ever tried Googling your name? I recommend that you do and I also recommend that you look at the image section because I guarantee that there is a picture of you there that you were not expecting. Just as you will Google your potential employers, you should expect them to Google you as well and so make sure that the image you are portraying online is a positive one!
  4. Never stop looking. It is so important to search for jobs continuously. My favorite professor, Dr. Koehn, gave me this awesome advice: Even if you have a job, you should always be looking for other opportunities and that is how to achieve career related success. The students that he sees attain their dream jobs are the ones who never stopped searching. I try to check the job databases listed in #1 daily even though I am currently employed! I often see positions that I think would be a good fit for my friends or family members and they appreciate the time I take to help them and I like to think that this is good karma for me.
  5. Be an entrepreneur. Our society is in need of positive leadership, creativity and innovation. We no longer accept the conditioned belief that if we go to school, then we will be offered a job upon graduation. We are not in the industrial age; we are in the information age. It is time to stop relying on companies, governments, and educational institutions to provide employment solutions and instead take responsibility of our future. Being an entrepreneur helps you identify your skills, ideas, passions, core beliefs, fears and allows you to identify the direction you want to take your life and set powerful goals. In my third year, I started a volunteer training program called Volunteer YA (young adults) and I attribute my personal success to this entrepreneurial opportunity that I created for myself. There are also free resources on-campus, such as BizInc at Western and Fanshawe that will help you along the way!
  6. Seek help. The most useful resources students have are their on-campus career centres where services such as professional development workshops, resume writing and interview coaching are offered free of charge. And most schools allow their alumni to use their career services. Having that one-on-one attention should not be taken for granted because career counseling can cost anywhere from $75 to $450 in the ‘real world’

I understand that every persons experience in finding a job is unique and subjective. So, I am going to be honest, it was difficult for me to write this post. With that being said, my hope is that just one person who reads this post is inspired by my experience and will find opportunities in their field of interest. The fact of the matter is that it is difficult to find meaningful work in today’s world regardless of the sector, your age, level of education, social status or experience.

Take the advice of Thomas Jefferson, “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”

Sonja FernandesSonja Fernandes is 23 years old and graduated with an Honors Specialization in Philosophy from Huron University College on June 4, 2012. Feel free to contact Sonja at sferna47@uwo.ca or on LinkedIn if you have any questions or comments about this post

Overeducated and Underemployed?

February 20, 2013 Leave a comment

you-can-never-be-overdressed3There has been a lot of coverage recently of the high youth unemployment rates in Canada.  The national unemployment rate is 7.2% while the youth unemployment rate is 14%.  If these statistics have not scared you enough, what about the $23.1 billion in lost wages that Canadian youth will experience over the next 18 years? (According to a TD Economics report)  To make it even worse Martin Schwerdtfeger, senior economist with TD writes that “being unemployed at a young age can have a long-lasting impact on an individual`s career prospects.”

I read, hear, and watch these media reports and understand exactly why students are flooding into my office looking horrified about their future prospects.  I see why the anxiety, stress, and depression levels are high in this population.  Not only do we live with the constant threat of impending doom from terrorists and swine flu’s but, to top it all off, the current generation are going to spend thousands of dollars on an education and will end up unemployed or underemployed and broke.

If we send young people out into the world of work with expectations of disaster that is exactly what they will get.  I prefer a less defeatist approach.  After all, people are more likely to hire recent grads is they are full of energy and optimism.

So let’s turn it around.  Great News, 86% of youth are going to be employed soon after they graduate!  That seems like a not so bad number and the chances of ending up in that category are likely pretty high if you are taking the time to read this post.  It means that you are dedicated to doing something about your future, taking action, and getting results.  In fact, a report from the Certified General Accountants of Canada entitled “Youth Unemployment in Canada: Challenging Conventional Thinking“, points out that:

  • The highest level of youth unemployment (15.2 per cent) during the recent recession was noticeably below that experienced during previous recessions when youth unemployment swelled to 19.2 per cent in 1983 and 17.2 per cent in 1992.
  • Nearly half (46.8 per cent) of unemployed youth were able to find a job within 1 to 4 weeks in 2011 while the average duration of unemployment experienced by youth did not exceed 11 weeks in that year. In fact, the average duration of youth unemployment in 2011 was well below the shortest average duration ever experienced by young and mature workers over the past 30 years: 12.5 weeks in 2006 and 16.2 weeks in 2008 respectively.

The truth of the matter is that there are people without jobs and almost as many jobs without people.  What we need to do is educate youth on emerging markets and required and desired employability skills.  So rather than sit back and wallow in self-pity, blaming the baby boom generation for not retiring already, do your research.  Take a look at where the jobs are.  What are the growth industries? What personal and technical skills do you need to succeed? And then start planning.  Be strategic, focused and dedicated.  Take a couple technical courses, volunteer with an organization to gain practical skills, attend networking events and, most of all, stay positive.  You are more likely to be motivated by working towards a positive outcome than by trying to avoid a negative one.

And when you have just been turned down for a job and are starting to feel defeated, take the advice of Napoleon Hill that “most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.”

A New Year Is A Great Time to Dream

January 3, 2013 7 comments

dreamsI asked my 4 year old son what he wants to do when he grows up and he said “sleep in hotels and go down water slides.”

The first question I ask students when they come into my office is “If you could get paid to do anything you want, what would you do?”  Shockingly I find that often the answer to this question seems to have very little to do with their so-called ‘real’ career goals.  When did they stop dreaming?  Perhaps they have been brought back to ‘reality’ by a parent or counsellor or friend who, out of a sincere desire to ensure their ‘success’, has encouraged them to focus on getting a secure job with a big company rather than actually pursue their passions, strengths, motivations, and preferences.

No matter what the state of the economy, however, there are people who get paid to do what they love: hockey players, sports announcers, sommelier’s,  marketing executives, lawyers, counsellors, teachers, doctors, authors, chefs, computer programmers . . .Unfortunately, on the flip side there is the majority of the population who spend 94,000+ hours of their life doing something they dislike.  In fact, according to Forbes magazine 71% of employees are disengaged from their work. What a horribly depressing thought.  No wonder there is so much road rage and so many grumpy people at the grocery store, bank, Tim Horton’s, Dollarama, movie theatre, dog park, shopping mall, Boston Pizza, walking down the street, . . .   we are subjecting ourselves to lives of misery on a massive scale.

So how did those other individuals end up getting paid to do something they love?  If you look at what it was that got them that job you will find that it was not just luck, but a combination of dreams, determination and serendipity.  If we remove any one of these elements from the equation, we are certainly going to be one of the 71%.

Instead, let’s allow ourselves to dream for a moment about a future where we are not slaves to a weak economy, but instead optimistic and excited about our future.   Take some time and watch Professor Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture.  Professor Pausch, who was dying of pancreatic cancer, gave his last lecture at the Carnegie Mellon University on Sept. 18, 2007. His talk, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” highlights his lessons learned and provides advice for students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals.

waterslideI am not suggesting that my son will actually become a hotel and water-park consultant when he grows up but, if he is determined, I would certainly support him.  However, I am saying that we need to pay more attention to our dreams if we want to end up leading a healthy, happy and balanced life.  If you are going to spend thousands upon thousands of hours doing something, why not at least try to make it something that you love?

Job Search Survival – 3 Tips For Maintaining Motivation

July 5, 2012 Leave a comment

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.”  Confucius

I try to teach this to my children when they are learning to skate or running on the soccer field.  It is not easy to get up and get back at it especially when your ego and your knees are bruised and scraped; but, if you want to succeed, that is exactly what you need to do.  The same applies in a job search, particularly these days when the economy is in tough shape.

The people I admire most are those that have the determination and resilience to keep going even when times are tough.  Often I find that those who are most deserving of success are the ones that complain the least when things do go wrong.  They are not the students that are in begging for leniency, but instead, are the ones that are rallying themselves, using resources to get things together and then moving forward.

Our ability to do this stems from our capacity to set goals, look at things from a positive perspective, and find the motivation to move on.  Overall, having a positive outlook and approach to life will help to carry us through difficult times.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a researcher at the University of California, has conducted studies that illustrate that although a percentage of our happiness and resilience is determined by genetics and circumstance a significant portion, about 40%, is within our direct control.  Furthermore, in their book Positive Psychology Coaching, Robert Biswas-Diener and Ben Dean assert “you can manifest your own happiness by making smart choices.  Time and again goals, relationships and positive thinking have been shown to be important contributors to individual fulfillment and a life well lived.” (61)

When you are on the job market, faced with putting yourself out there and facing rejection time and again, you will need to stay focussed on what matters to you, set smaller attainable goals, and find internal motivators that are sustainable.  If you are going to have the ability to pick yourself up, you will need to manage the 40% of your propensity for happiness and resilience that is within your control.

To do this, focus on 3 main strategies that will help build the stamina you need to keep going.

1)Set Modest Goals:  Rather than striving for a potentially unattainable dream job, set your sights on something that is within your grasp and see it as a stepping stone rather than a final destination.  Also set goals that relate directly to the search and not just the final outcome.  This way, even if you don’t get a particular job you can still feel a sense of accomplishment in making it to the interview stage, or making a new contact, for example.  You need to give yourself some credit for the effort if you have any hope of sustaining yourself throughout the process.  Set the goal of making 5 new contacts this week, or conducting 3 informational interviews.  Developing those relationships will help to build your confidence and broaden your network.

2) Focus on Intrinsic Rather than Extrinsic Motivators:  Think about what makes you feel satisfied, interested and rewarded (intrinsic factors) and set your sites on those jobs.  Because those sorts of goals are based on your values and things that you care about you are going to find that it is easier to motivate yourself to work towards them.  If you are looking for a job that is going to impress others or make you the most money (extrinsic factors) then you are less likely to be genuinely motivated to achieve those goals and may burn out sooner.

3) Frame Your Goals Positively: Rather than striving to avoid something negative like unemployment or being dissatisfied at work, (“avoidance goals”) think of yourself as moving toward something positive such as finding a fulfilling job (“approach goals”).  As Biswas-Diener and Dean explain, “There is a preponderance of research evidence linking avoidance goals to increased distress and anxiety, decreased levels of happiness, lower levels of social satisfaction, and poorer perceptions of health.”(66)  By focussing on moving toward something positive rather than avoiding something negative you will find that you have more energy to focus on action and you’re using less energy on worrying.

No matter how you approach it, searching for a job is hard and potentially disheartening work.  You need to do all that you can to look after yourself and find the motivation to keep going.  As hard as it is, try not to take the rejection as a sign of your failings.  Many times, there may already be someone in mind for the position or there just may be really stiff competition.  Do, however, ask for feedback so that you can improve with every attempt and bring yourself closer to getting that job.

For more on this topic check out:

How to Survive Looking For a New Job:

http://expertbeacon.com/how-survive-looking-new-job

How to Survive if You Cannot Find a Job:

http://www.wikihow.com/Survive-if-You-Cannot-Find-a-Job

Sonja Lyubomirsky

http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~sonja/

Positive Psychology Coaching:

http://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=JJmYN9ZYSgsC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=positive+psychology+coaching&ots=mX7a4anMFi&sig=XSVg6AmRjoD3Cx5HoXoZEhHe0bM#v=onepage&q=positive%20psychology%20coaching&f=false

 

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