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.

A Top New Year’s Resolution- New Job!

It never fails, when the calendar turns over into a new year general optimism is at its prime.  Most people are optimistic or at least hopeful that this new year will be better than the last.  They vow to be fitter, trimmer, more organized and more financially responsible and hands down happier in their jobs and careers.

This is the year they vow that things at work will be different, things will be better.  They promise themselves and their families that they will  balance work and  life demands better,  find their passion or leave an all-consuming job.  They have been down this road before.  They have secretly made these promises to themselves throughout the year and even envisioned what a better job or career looks like.   Now it’s the new year and now is the perfect time to take action.

So where should they begin?  The first step is to clarify for yourself what “better” means.  Is it a job or role that better aligns with your strengths, or is it a place that feels like a better fit, or is it making a bigger difference, or is it rediscovering a fire in your belly that makes you excited to get up and go to work?  Maybe its many or all of these things.

Next is asking yourself, what are you willing to do about it to make things better?  Are you willing to commit to the time to gather information, enlist resources, assess your options, and create a plan? Change requires a commitment to do the work to make it happen.  Without it getting a better job will only show up again on next year’s list of resolutions.

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Proof in the Power of Likeability

Job seekers become excessively focused on “checking all the boxes” before applying for any job, making sure they meet each and every job requirement and qualification, it almost becomes an obsession.  Frustration builds as they come up against what they call the “purple squirrel” which is a combination of job requirements that no true mortal could possibly fulfill.  Even when they get in the door and into the interview room they work tirelessly to convince an employer that they meet each and every qualification of the job.

Ironically what is often overlooked is the power of likeability.  It is how they connect and engage with the prospective employer.  It is how they convey they can be trusted and fit in seamlessly with the existing team.  What they often forget is that people hire who they like and trust above all else, even all the “must have’s” on the job description.

We have seen this play true even for the biggest most important jobs in the country.  As the new President elect selects his cabinet, team and advisors, qualifications and credentials have become secondary to the power of the  likeability.  Politics aside,  this is a lesson and good reminder to all job seekers, likeability is truly what gets people the job.

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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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