So how goes the job search?

Its been a while since I last posted about looking for work and conducting informational interviews.  I’ll bet you are wondering…so how goes that job search?  Well, its had its ups and downs.  Meeting someone who inspires me during an informational interview is definitely an UP experience.  Being invited to interview for a position is positive, too.  Waiting to find out if I got the job—hmmm, not so much.  Through it all, I’ve experienced fear, self-doubt, excitement, exhilaration, and disappointment—and not necessarily in that order.  One thing about being unemployed is that it gives one ample time to reflect.

This week, I received the nicest “no thank you email” from a prospective employer.  In addition to letting me know that I just wasn’t quite right for the position, they also said they found my qualifications “impressive” and would like to keep my resume on file.  Knowing, that the position was not my heart’s desire, I thought, what a relief they didn’t want me.  So I mentally said thank you for the lovely complement and by all means keep my resume on file.

In my moments of spiritual optimism, I believe that my future workplace and I are destined to meet each other.  Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay, The Over-Soul, says, “The things that are really for thee gravitate to thee.  You are running to seek your friend.  Let your feet run, but your mind need not.  …For there is a power, which, as it is in you, is in him also, and could therefore very well bring you together, if it were for the best.”  Truly, that’s what I wish for, that my next work situation is the best for them and for me.

I’ve heard people describe how they felt a gravitational pull toward another person who then became their best friend or lover.  I’ve certainly experienced meeting new friends and knowing somehow they were meant to be a part of my life.  In that case, finding my new job is just a grown-up version of hide and seek.  The days   I am enjoying this adventure instead of being afraid, I can see each moment as an opportunity that is taking me closer to the organization that says “Wow, your qualifications are really impressive and we would love to have you come and work with us.”  Ready or not, here I come.

Friends Forever

Advertisements

Why Make Informational Interviews Part of the Job Hunt?

I am back in the job hunt after 24 years, and what I notice is that the experience is like entering the dreaded dating game after you suddenly find yourself single again.  The idea of forwarding my professional-looking resume and carefully worded cover letter to potential employers, who, if I’m lucky, will only give it a cursory glance, can feel downright depressing.  Just like dating, it feels like a desperate attempt to get someone to notice me.  How does one stand out in the crowd, if you’re not tall, dark and handsome, or a pretty, slender blond?

When I found I would soon be out of work, someone loaned me a small book titled, “Want a New Better Fantastic Job?” by Pam Gross and Peter Paskill (2001).  My friend suggested I read the section on informational interviews.  I’d heard of informational interviews before, but knew very little about it in practice.  When I read the section she referenced, the vision of me taking charge of the interview process to find a new career immediately felt liberating.

In contrast, the way most of us learned to conduct a job search by filling out an application and submitting a resume on line feels passive and anonymous.  We all know that employers are flooded with hundreds of resumes for every position they advertise.  Culling through all those applications to find the group of 3-5 best candidates boils down to checking education status and seeing whether the stated prior experience matches what the employer is looking for.  Today many organizations use computer systems to perform a key-word search on the applications they receive to make the initial cut.  The goal is to unearth that small, elite, group of people blessed with:

  • The appropriate college degree (Hmmm.  You say you have a Russian history degree?);
  • Unique job skills (paralegal who can read and write Mandarin); and,
  • A record of employment stability with a history of varied, yet somewhat dissimilar and progressively more responsible positions (I ask you, is all of that experience absolutely necessary?).

While HR recruiting efforts are certainly important to having an open and fair process; from the perspective of a new job hunter it feels like a massive wall between me (a well-adjusted, creative, smart, and service-oriented professional) and my potentially fantastic workplace.  As I learned more about conducting informational interviews, I knew I would have a better chance at being seriously considered for a position I wanted and have fun at the same time.

I understand that for many the idea of approaching someone and asking them to spend some of their valuable time with you may seem presumptuous, even arrogant.  However, I have three main reasons why I believe it is one of the best tools for finding a new job.

  1. I would much rather be the person asking the questions.  Next time you watch a TV show or movie, pay attention to who has the power in the conversation.  An ardent Closer fan, I’ve noticed that when Brenda Leigh Johnson begins interrogating her suspect everyone immediately recognizes who’s in charge.  Regardless of how big and bad the criminal sitting across from her may be, because she is asking the questions, Brenda has the power.

Informational interviews should never resemble harsh interrogations.  However, I certainly feel more at ease being the person driving the conversation.  I get to ask the questions, listen to their answers and take notes about anything I may want to research further.

  1. It’s impossible to know for sure if a potential employee will “fit in” with the organization just by reading a resume.  Employers want to hire someone who is intelligent, creative, adaptable, a system-thinker, disciplined, committed, dependable, and emotionally mature (and that’s not all…).  The only problem is that few of these character attributes are found on a resume.  It is only through personal interaction that one can observe the soft-skills of a potential employee.  Do they present themselves well?  Is the person well-groomed, attentive, polite and self-aware?  Can the person listen and respond intelligently?  The blessing of doing informational interviews is that the other person can observe and get to know you without you going through the stress of being in front of a hiring panel.

Success in nearly every situation requires “soft-skills,” and these behaviors can be learned.  If you don’t feel confident about your ability to smoothly interact with people, work to improve yourself.  The more you grow as a person, the greater your self-esteem and self-confidence.  The internet is filled with valuable information, and many great books and audio programs are available on the subject.  A book I really appreciated is, Emotional Intelligence:  Why it can matter more than IQ, (Goleman, D., 1995).  The book explains why having a high IQ and quality education is no guarantee for success.  Instead, employees who possess emotional maturity cost the company less to manage and usually raise productivity, too.  Another book I recommend is Social Intelligence (Albrecht, K., 2006).  Someone with strong social skills will find their careers moving forward with minimal effort.

  1. Many jobs are filled without ever being advertised.  Instead, someone knows someone else, who knows the perfect person for the job.  And voila, the position, that was never advertised in the first place, has been filled.  The more people who find out that you are looking for work, the better your chances to be the person someone else knows is perfect for the job.

The people you meet while doing informational interviews will likely become part of your expanding network—important professionals who can support and mentor you along your career path.  In nearly every instance, the people I’ve interviewed have asked that I let them know where I end up when I reach the end of my journey.  I believe the reason they make this request is because they are now a part of my future success.  Their desire to see me do well is far more encouraging than waiting for the Dear John automated email after submitting my resume in response to an ad on Monster.

Parenting And Stuff

Not a "how to be a great parent" blog

The Bully Pulpit

(n): An office or position that provides its occupant with an outstanding opportunity to speak out on any issue.

Rockin' the Purple!

Living the Colorful Life: In Which I Give an Account of Myself

Beth Wangler

official blog

To Be Aware

It's all about disbelieving your thoughts

Mosaic Art Retreats

Explore . Create

Dreams Incognito

“Health is the ability to realize our avowed and unavowed dreams.” –Moshe Feldenkrais

The Better Man Project ™

a journey into the depths

Dummy Zero's Blog

Dedicated to the Flash of Original Genius from Creative Thinkers, Writers, Entrepreneurs, Inventors, and Tinkerers.

fourwindowspress

creative writing, pastel art, and essays