The Career Buzz blog is Karen Kodzik's frequently updated source of news, information,
tips and insights concerning job search, career management and planning, and human resources.

The Time Factor: Friend or Foe

It continues to amaze me how quickly time flies in the second half of our lives  as recollection of events are in decades not just years, and how slowly it goes on the front half of life as things like  – obtaining a driver’s license, being old enough to… (date, drink, vote, ?), waiting to hear which college we are accepted to just can’t come quick enough.

As I help professionals either navigate internal career decisions or navigate the job market the themes around time are resounding.  Regardless of what stage people are at in their careers, time is certainly a factor.  So I’ve captured some them here for you today:

“Time flies” – here are some common quotes, thoughts or sentiments.

  1. “I can’t believe how long I’ve stayed in this unfulfilling job”
  2. For people in transition ” I can’t believe how the day flies by and I get nothing accomplished”
  3. “I’ve already been off of work for a month and am just starting to think about my job search. Where has the time gone?”
  4. “I’m already 55 years old and am just now asking what I want to be when I grow up?”

“It takes such a long time” – sentiments, quotes and thoughts.

  1. “I never thought I’d be job searching this long, I thought I’d find something in a month.”
  2. ” I worked on my resume for days and it still isn’t done!”
  3. “I sent an email to a networking contact yesterday and still haven’t heard back.”
  4. ” Is it possible to figure out my passion in 3 hours or less?”

Whether time is racing or inching by it seems to consistently be a source of frustration and angst for people. The advise I can offer is to stay focused on the amount of effort you put in each day to move towards your goals and let time do what it will.

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The “Dragnet” Factor

At the risk of dating myself I couldn’t resist referencing the 1960’s sitcom about a pair of detectives, led by the infamous Joe Friday who sought tirelessly to obtain “just the facts”.

Data driven facts are essential to any career decision.  Too often I see job seekers and career changers prematurely eliminate options based on speculation, hear say, rumor and bias.

Whether it be about a specific job, profession or potential company  I see people quickly and unjustifiably discount possibilities.  For example when brainstorming options for career direction people will quickly assume moving into to public or non profit sector will mean a cut in pay.  The fact is larger non profits can pay wages competitive with the private sector.  And often large public entities have very rich benefit programs that when looked at as part of a total compensation package can very competitive.

Secondly when people are assessing potential employers or companies they will rely on a single point of view or a single persons opinion.  Career decisions are  too significant to make them base on a single data point or opinion.

The key is to use many different types of data when assessing options.  I advise people use a combination sources including annual reports, press releases, websites, economic data and even input from others.  When enlisting other people’s input make sure you get at least 3-4 people’s opinion on a single employer or job before determining if it will be a good fit.  Also be sure when talking to others to ask very specific questions based on what is important to you, then ask those specific questions to every person you ask so that you can compare the information.

There is no small decision when it comes to jobs, professions and careers.  Don’t bank on just one data point or something someone said once.  Get just the facts!

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Navigating The Interview Process – #1 The Prescreen

Landing an interview, especially when search has gone on longer than you had hoped or planned for, is certainly exciting.  Months of hard work, dozens of applications, and tireless networking meetings have now paid off, you’ve gotten “the call”.  Understanding how to navigate the interviewing process is essential in making it through all the steps along the way to eventually get the offer.  Here are some insights about each step to keep in mind as you step into the process so to avoid any missteps.

#1 – the prescreening call

These calls often come to you seemingly out of the blue and can be received while you are in the grocery store or even sitting down to dinner.  Be sure to take the call and get to a place where you can have a quiet conversation, even if you have to pull over while driving.  Remember that if you ask to call them back, you may lose your chance, as they will continue to call other applicants in the meantime to schedule them for interviews.

Prescreening interviews are typically made by recruiters, either internal or external.  On occasion a hiring manager makes the call.  That being said be sure to ask the person calling what their role is.

Prescreening interviews are short, typically 15-30 minutes.  They go very quickly meaning you will have to keep your answers concise.

The goal of the prescreen is to simply and quickly determine if you as an applicant meet the minimum qualifications to move forward to an in person interview.  That being said you can expect a lot of questions rooted in clarifying your experience and background.  Remember the interviewer is on the other end of the phone holding the job description and your resume looking for answers that check the “must have” boxes.

You can also expect to be asked 2 key questions.  Why are you looking and what do you expect to make?  Do not dodge or dance around these answers.  Applicants who are evasive in answering these questions more times than not do not move forward in the process.

Rarely will you be given a chance to ask a lot of questions of them, remember this is a short and quick exchange.  If you do get an opportunity, at least ask what is next in the process.  Avoid getting into the nitty-gritty in this step.

Next month I will address the next step in the interview, the in person interview.  But to summarize the prescreen it is important to remember it will go quickly so will need to be concise and be sure to answer the questions as directly as possible so to make as easy as possible for them to determine you have the basic qualifications to do the job.

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Emotional Fatigue

Whether you are in a job or in between jobs there is an undeniable force that professionals find themself reckoning with more and more as their careers progress.  I see this begin to creep in sometimes as early as the late 30’s but more typically it becomes more pronounced as people enter into their mid 40’s and early 50’s.

It is the feeling that comes after years of draining your emotional energy bucket repeatedly down below the empty line without appropriately replenishing it.  Sleeping in on weekends or long weekend get always no longer do the trick.  The first sign of this emotional fatigue setting in is that you lose the spring in your step, you find it more and more difficult to get excited or motivated to take on the mini battles at work or shift into that optimal RPM to tackle your job search.   You find it increasingly difficult to repeatedly dig deep to make that extra effort.  You are growing increasingly more and more emotionally fatigued.  Initially you try to shake it off or dismiss it as a temporary state of mind but you find that it becomes a more frequent occurrence.

My theory is that the speed of life and work coupled with persistent information overload taxes the system over time unless people take the time to rest, reset and recover their stamina. The key is that this needs to occur on a regular and ongoing basis not just when your energy level becomes depleted.  As we enter into the second half of summer, it is the perfect time to grab a tall glass of lemonade, a seat in the sun, and a calendar and sketch out for yourself a plan of activities, big and small that you will employ on a regular basis to keep emotional fatigue at bay.  This is an investment in being able to bring the best of yourself back to your work (or job search), your family, and your community.

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A Job Seekers Worst Enemy

Ask any job seeker who is their biggest foe in job search is and the majority would say Human Resources who don’t return calls, acknowledge applications or post jobs with seemingly impossible requirements.

But truth be told a job seekers worst enemy is themselves and it’s because of what’s called Defensive Pessimism.  Defensive Pessimism is a defense mechanism employed to safeguard against rejection.  It is when you tell yourself things like: “I won’t get that job, so why apply” or ” why bother networking, there aren’t any jobs open anyway,” or “no one is hiring, so why bother.”  All these examples are typical of the internal scripts that run through a job seekers mind that immobilize them in job search and becoming a job seekers worst enemy. These defenses are put up as protection from feeling disappointed or let down.

To overcome Defensive Pessimism it is important to acknowledge it exists and the power it can hold over you.  Yes rejection is an inherent part of the job search process however to moving past it requires two things. One is let your job search be driven by facts not speculation or fear and two, remember that amazing things  happen just by showing up and making an effort.

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