Job hunt tips older (no, for all) professionals

Your age can be a problem.  It can also be an asset when job hunting.  Whether you are in accounting, computers, or engineering, age discrimination exists.  You can also use your age to your advantage.

Do you remember Ronald Reagan saying that he wouldn’t use his opponents youth and inexperience as a political tool?  (here is the clip)

In this posting there are some things mentioned that can be big positives for older workers.

Your sunshine collection can get you a raise or a job

Memory is a fickle thing.  When you are depressed, you can hardly remember cheerful times.  It is a good thing you know how to write.  Keeping track of little things can change your entire career.  Your job journal can be a lifesaver when things get rough. It is your sunshine collection.

Every time someone compliments you, write it in your job journal.  If they like your smile, clothes, attitude, car, clean desk or hard work, write it down.  When someone thanks you for your help, write it down.  Joe Smith says you are more expert than a CPA with a PhD?  Write it down.

Take a second to write down what they said, who said it, and what the circumstances were.  That is sunshine collecting.

Every Friday you should be writing in your job journal what you accomplished this week.  You should also record problems that relate to your job so that when the problems stop, you can show how well you fixed things.

That’s good, but not enough.

Emails and letters that compliment you should be put in your job journal too.  Sunshine collecting is taking the time to collect and write down what others say you do well.  Then when you are mad at Bob, you can go back and find out what he likes about you.  That can change your whole day for the better.  It can keep you from exploding or quitting.

Sure, your sunshine collection can be a big help in a job performance review or job search.  But if you collect sunshine it will do great things for your career whether or not anyone else knows about it.  It will help you remember how good you really are.  It will also help you remember how good other people are.  That’s important too.


Something To Do Today

Listen for compliments, kudos and attaboys.  Write them in your job journal.  They’re stored sunshine so get a yellow highlighter and mark them too.


Tomorrow starts easy networking week.  Low effort, high return network tools. One high effort, incredible return networking tool also included.

Tomorrow:     A job and a promotion networking

Later:              A scissors for jobs network

100% exposed job networking

Double your chances after an interview

Linked in

The international manager roundtable method of getting a job.


How to close an interview

Good job interview basics

I occasionally get to work with really bad candidates.  Ones with an interview problem.

This one could not get a job.  He was sure it wasn’t his fault.  So, I did a mock interview with him.  He leaned back in his chair, steepled his fingers in front of his face almost as if in prayer, and put his feet up on my desk.  He was looking around my office as I talked.  He glanced at me for a second when he started to answer my question. He was so pleased to allow me to be in his presence.  I was sure that if I offered him enough money and time off he would consider working for me.

You will be proud of me.  I resisted the urge to strangle him.  I taught him a few basics about interviewing.

Interview basics

Impress the interviewer with your alert, hard working attitude.

Sit on the front half of your chair, back straight, no slumping.

Listen intently.  Look the interviewer in the eye as he talks.  Break eye contact occasionally to look at his mouth or hands.

Do not put your hands in front of your face.  Put them in your lap or on the table.

Don’t ask about vacation, benefits, salary or paid time off until they offer you a job.

Never talk for more than two minutes at a time.

When you are done talking, stop.  The interviewer may need a minute of silence to think.

He learned

Okay, I admit I exaggerated a little on my example.  But it is much less of a stretch than you think.  This person learned quickly and did get a job.  A strong desire to be of help is the greatest asset you can bring to a job interview.  Make sure it shows through in your every word and action.


Something To Do Today

Watch for people who look around as someone is talking to them.  Watch their eye contact and body language.  How does it make you feel?


Tomorrow:  Sunshine collecting

Later:  A job and a promotion networking

Scissors for jobs

How to close an interview

Double your chances after an interview

The international manager roundtable method of getting a job.

Give the right answer in your job interview

In a job interview it is easy to give the wrong answer.  You can also get in the habit of checking to see if you gave the right answer.  It can get you a job.

Well, if I called the wrong number, why did you answer the phone?  (Thurber)

What time is it?  Wrong answer.

I swear that if I ask 10 people, “What time is it?”, that I will get at least one person who will tell me in infinite detail how to build a watch.  Every day I talk to someone who answers the wrong question.  And I can’t get the right answer no matter how hard I try!

Stop thinking of what you need and want all the time.  Concentrate on what the person you are talking to needs to know.  The man interviewing you needs to know how you will help him.  The best way to show that is to listen to his questions and answer them simply.

After the last of 16 mounting screws has been removed from an access cover, it will be discovered that the wrong access cover has been removed.  (De La Lastra’s Last Law)

If you are asked, “How did you save your company money?”, you probably want to give a brief example.  Don’t say, “I used time and motion studies. Under Deming and standard TQM it is SOP to…..” That’s too long and not at all specific.   Say, “In one case we shortened a two hour process to 15 minutes by cutting out unnecessary steps.  It saved $24,000 the first year.”

Any answer that takes more than two minutes in an interview is too long.  If you think you may have talked too long, STOP.  Ask if you have told them what they want to know.  Then listen.  Stop and listen.

What time is it?  7:25 a.m.  It is time to go to work.  Two good answers.


Something To Do Today

Just for the fun of it, when someone asks you, “What time is it?”, give them the answer and ask them why the need to know. You may be surprised at how little you knew of their motivation.

9 ways to get hired in a highly technical job

Getting noticed and hired in a new job as a Tax Partner, Audit Manager, Hadoop DBA, Android Programmer, or SEC Compliance Manager can be tricky.  You may hear how hot your field is, but you just can’t seem to get noticed.

Here are 9 things that may help.  Make sure and go past the first page. The first idea applies, but is not critical at all.

Here is the article.

Fixing your career and job search: As intense as possible is more

The harder I work on me, the better my life gets.  But I can only improve a little each day.  So I focus intensely on one or two things that I want to be better at. That makes my career much better with the least effort for the reward.  It also improves your job search.

Light is very intense in a laser.  Laser pointers are under 1/200th of a watt.  Focus that pointer laser’s beam to the size of a period and you can burn paper.

Intensity at one small spot is the secret of lasers.  Intensity at one spot can also be the secret to advancement in your career.

Some examples:

  1. Some programmers study 20 different programming languages.  As a recruiter, it is almost impossible for me to find a job for someone who has only worked a month or two in 20 different programming languages. It is easy for me to find a job for someone who has studied and worked in one programming language for two years.
  2. In accounting it is easier for us to find a top paying job for an internal audit specialist CPA, than a job for an uncertified general accountant.  Finding a high paying job for a legal secretary is easier than finding a high paying job for a regular secretary.

You cannot get better at everything at once.  An hour a day carefully spent studying a single skill that is in high demand will turn you into an expert in a few months. An hour a day studying new subjects each day won’t help your career nearly as fast..  Now is the time to start narrowing your field and increasing your intensity.

I had learnt to seek intensity – more of life, a concentrated sense of life.  (Berberova)


Something To Do Today

What is the hottest skill in your profession?  What is the most important bit of that skill?  Study it an hour a day for a month. You will be an expert.


Next week:  When I ask what time it is, how can someone look at their watch and give me the wrong answer?

Later:  Put your feet up on his desk.

Sunshine collecting

Like your job search, even lasers have to focus

Careers and lasers are not naturally focused.  Your career focus will determine whether you have the career you want, or the one that is most convenient for your boss and coworkers.

Lasers, by nature, are also unfocused. A common misconception is that the light comes out of a laser in a tight beam.  It does not.  If you take a laser pointer apart you will see a simple lens just in front of the laser. Because of the light’s coherence and origin, the light can be focused into a tight beam. Coherent light waves all marching in step come from a laser naturally.  Focus has to be designed into it.

Most people laugh at the idea of a company president becoming a janitor.  I know two people who decided to do it.  They decided to change the focus of their lives.  Both make a lot of money as janitors because they are focused.

Do you need a focus for your career and job search?  You may be capable of being a manager, worker, company president, and janitor.  With 4 resumes you could apply for each job in a coherent manner.  You could also interview for each and present yourself as the perfect employee.  But should you?

What are your talents?  What do you do better than others?  What do you want to learn?

Inability to get ahead in a career is often caused by a lack of purpose or focus.  You are happy to float to wherever there is an opening today.  Everyone always tells you what a great team player you are.  The trouble is that your raises are small and you get passed over for promotions.

So you decide to get another job.  You apply for every job you can.  Your new job is outside of the field you were in before.  Once again you float into whatever needs to be done today.  Your career goes nowhere.

Do you WANT to go nowhere as fast as you can?

Stop today.  Focus on a goal.  What is the next job, responsibility, or promotion you want?  Turn down urgent requests to do something else.  Stop letting the minor inconvenience of other people decide what you will do.  Focus on a goal.

One way to tell if you are focused is to count how many people YOU ask to help YOU reach YOUR goal.  Ask for help.  Network.  Talk to people doing what you want to do next.  Get their advice.  Focus on one goal.

But what if you are unemployed?  It still works.  Decide on a specific job, title or assignment you want the most.  Find people doing that job.  Ask them to help you figure out how to get to that job.  That’s networking.  That’s laser like focus.


Something To Do Today

Talk to someone doing the job you want for your next job.  Ask them the steps you can take to get the same job.


Tomorrow:  Why lasers work – part 3

Later:  What time is it?

Put your feet up on his desk.

Sunshine collecting

What a laser like focus means in your job search (part 1)

Your job search and resume have to have a laser-like focus.  But what does that really mean?

Light waves first marched in step half a century ago.  The laser was born.  A 10 watt laser will burn you from a mile away.  A 100 watt light bulb will only burn you if you touch it.

Light waves marching in step is called coherence.  When light comes out of the laser it is one pure color.  Each bit of light created inside a laser merges into more and more powerful light waves.  The waves of light get stronger, more intense.  A simple lense focuses the light into a narrow beam of light.

Coherence, marching in step, and being only one color are keys to lasers.  In a resume and in an interview coherence is also a critical key.  Hiring managers always look for attitude and experience.  Let me give you an example of lack of coherence in each.

Attitude:  I love my job.  I give it everything I’ve got.  I will do whatever is required to get the job done.  Can I leave early on Wednesday and Friday?  You can just pay me for a 34 hour week.  Okay? (He’ll do what it takes? Why not work a full week?)

Experience:  I’m a pure manager.  I lead.  My people get the job done under my direction and I don’t have to do the work.  I installed the server software over a weekend myself.  I also designed and programmed the billing software.  I supervise 2 part-time people. (Pure manager? He’s a worker with a title.)

If something you say cancels out another thing you said, you lack coherence. If you apply for three different jobs, you should have 3 resumes.  Each should tell one story.  You need to drop information from your resume that is not important to the job you seek.

In an interview make sure you stay on track.  Talk about exactly what suits you for this job.  If the interviewer asks you a question that doesn’t apply, give an extremely brief answer.  Then ask her, “Will that be part of my responsibilities in this job?”  It is always a good idea to find out why a strange question is asked.

Hiring managers notice when your resume and your interviews all march in step.  It makes them feel safe.  Pay attention to what you say and how you say it.  Be coherent.


Something To Do Today

Do you give the same message on the job, in an interview and on your resume?  It may be time to change and get laser-like focus.  Do you need 3 different resumes?


Tomorrow:  Why lasers work – part 2

Later:  Why lasers work (3 part)

What time is it?

Put your feet up on his desk.

Ruling throws out some Noncompete’s in PA

if you are asked to sign a non-competition clause after you are hired. they have to give you a substantial raise, check, promotion, cash, or something valuable.  If not, you are free to go anywhere you want.

A court case in PA just confirmed that.  All the details are in this article.

Basically, if they threaten to take away your job and make you sign something saying that you waive the compensation, they have no contract.  The actually have to give you some compensation or they lose, no matter what they had you sign.

Make sure you check out the details.

If you want a general review of PA noncompete law, try this article..

Newspapers sell (like your resume should)  

Is your resume as interesting as this movie summary?

Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets and then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again. (Marin County’s newspaper listing for The Wizard of Oz)

Headlines sell newspapers.  Short, bold, snappy paragraphs suck you in.  Then advertisers convince you that you will be inferior without their help.  Sounds like the perfect resume to me.

Grab a newspaper.  The columns are under 3 inches wide.  Paragraphs are short. They are written at a fifth grade reading level.  All of these things make them easy to digest.  They don’t challenge a reader’s skill.  They soothe your eyes and intellect.

Notice the headline in your newspaper, an attention grabbing subject.  Now just read the title of every story.  The titles entice you to read the first sentence.  The first sentence gives you enough information that your curiosity makes you finish the first paragraph.

Newspapers aren’t mystery stories.  Newspapers are written in a top down style. You should be able to stop after the first paragraph and know the critical facts of the story.  The next paragraph clarifies a detail.  Each succeeding paragraph clarifies another detail.

Is your resume written like a newspaper?  Can a secretary see in 10 seconds that you are qualified?  Can she pick it back up and see you have some depth with a 45 second read?  When she passes it to the hiring manager will he decide it is worth keeping after his 10 second review?

Your resume only has one job, to get you an interview.  Do the headlines and titles sell? Do short, bold, snappy paragraphs suck you in?  Does your resume convince the hiring manager that you alone can get him his next bonus?  Is your resume doing its job?


Something To Do Today

Grab a newspaper.  Notice how you read it.  Where do your eyes naturally focus?  What tricks do the editors use?  How do advertisers get you to focus on the ads?  Can you use any newspaper techniques in your resume?