This friend doesn’t use video at work, but he and two other IT guys are creating a YouTube channel. This is the second project for the team, who also recently started a podcast, to learn about podcasting.
This occurrence isn’t an uncommon one in the technology world. Techies are creating new social work groups on Meetup.com every day. They gather together and learn how to use software like WordPress, Python, Java, Oracle and PHP. They bounce ideas off of one another about how to start a podcast, how to build video games or how to make mobile apps.
They organize breakfasts, lunches and weekend-long coding sessions called hackathons. They host events for younger generations to teach them about programming.
The thing that’s interesting is, technology professionals do all of these activities in their free time. Their companies don’t sponsor these events. They aren’t compensated for participating.
But, the time they devote helps to keep their skill set up to date. Technology is a field that’s constantly evolving. In IT, if you want to keep up, you must keep learning. It creates job security.
In addition to beefing up their resume, this time builds their network. If there’s a job opening, you can bet someone will look inside these groups for candidates.
Lastly, it allows these professionals to cross-pollinate ideas with those outside their company’s four walls. They aren’t confined to the traditional thoughts on how to do things and can compare notes with others.
Although your industry may not change as often as technology, there are a number of great lessons to be learned from this group. First, don’t wait for your company to keep your skills up to date. It’s your responsibility. Be sure not to neglect your continuing education.
This may mean you may have to use some personal time, or even some of your own money. Think of it as an investment in yourself and your future value.
Once you’ve decided to give this strategy a try, you may wonder where to begin. Meetup.com is a natural place to look for special interest groups. You may also check the colleges in your area for continuing education courses. They often offer abbreviated courses at reasonable prices. Professional organizations can also be a great place to look.
Don’t have time to get out? Or can’t find anyone near you to network with? Search online. Many universities such as Harvard and MIT are placing some of their course materials online – for free. And, there are many other online resources such as LinkedIn and website forums where you can network with others in your field.
At the end of the day, in the world of work, learning is the new loyalty.
Over the holidays, hiring slows down. Although it doesn’t completely stop, some companies put off hiring new employees until the New Year. First, there are many employees who are on vacation during December. This can make the interview process more difficult with only a partial staff.
But, when January begins, all bets are off. Companies start to hire again in full force.
The first step to getting ready is having your resume prepared. You also want to update your LinkedIn profile and have a sample cover letter handy just in case.
But once you have the basics down, what else should you do? Well, one of the biggest issues that may cause problems is not having a clear direction. Having a perfect resume is just not enough anymore. It’s important that you can explain to your friends and network what type of job you’re looking for and why.
If you aren’t sure what you want to be when you grow up, start with a list. Write down all the things you’re good at within the scope of your current job. Include things you did at your previous job. Then, add in skills you’ve picked up through hobbies. For example, you may have a business on the side that not only generates income, but also teaches you new things.
Compare your list of transferrable skills to various job descriptions. Start a list of possible new careers. Once you have five to 10 new ideas, begin to search within your network for people who work in these career fields. Send them an email and ask if you could take them out for coffee in exchange for picking their brain. You’ll be surprised at how many people will say yes.
These coffee meetings are often referred to as informational interviews. They’re a chance for you to learn more about another career through networking. They aren’t a chance to interview for a job, but to learn about one. And the good news is, most people enjoy talking about themselves – and helping others.
Oftentimes, I’ve found that just a few informational interviews can help my clients to narrow down what they don’t want to do, or to get a better idea of what they’d like to do. It’s surprising how quickly a short conversation can give you a window into another profession.
As you begin to narrow down your career choices, revise your resume, LinkedIn profile and cover letter to match. Begin putting together your elevator pitch. This is a quick summary of what you’d like to do. It helps those around you to recommend opportunities – and it will leave you prepared to dominate your search in the new year.
Now’s the time to get started on your resolution to find a new job in the New Year. The holidays are the perfect time to begin your search. Yes, many HR departments are on vacation and hiring appears to halt. But, it’s a great time for you to lay the foundation to stand out in 2020. And with a little luck, things are slowing down a bit at work.
First, you should revise your resume. Update it to include your professional accomplishments from 2019 such as a project you just completed or a promotion you received. If you’ve served on nonprofit boards or have volunteer experience, include it. It paints a fuller picture of you as a person. This can be helpful when you meet with someone who may not relate to your industry specific expertise.
You will also want to update your cover letter and your LinkedIn profile. The best part about updating your LinkedIn profile during the holidays is that your boss and coworkers are less likely to notice changes that may tip them off that you’re looking. Be sure you include a photo of yourself on LinkedIn, along with a summary about your background.
Next, move on to your biggest opportunity: networking. Holiday parties are an ideal way to reconnect with friends and colleagues. Learn about what they’ve been up to this year, and share the latest on your life and career. Make sure to dress appropriately and keep indulgences in holiday spirits to a minimum.
If you have the chance, you may want to hint at your future goal of finding a new opportunity. With closer friends, you can be more direct in your approach. Have discretion however and realize that it’s easy for others to pick up on your conversation in this environment. The last thing you want is for your current employer to get wind that you’re looking for a new job.
Be sure to exchange business cards. After the party, follow up with your contacts via email and ask to set up a time to connect via the phone or over a coffee. You will find that although many folks are out of town near the end of December, they will gladly schedule a time to catch up when they return. This will put you before everyone else on their 2020 calendar.
The bottom line is to keep pushing ahead on your search, even during the holidays. Updating your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile now will prepare you for interviews next year. When the holidays wind down and managers are ready to get serious with hiring, you will be ahead of your competition. In fact, you will already have phone calls and coffee meetings set up.
For most candidates, a successful job search is built on preparation and networking – both of which are at your fingertips during this holiday season. And don’t forget: it’s a great job market!
For years, one of the hardest challenges I’ve seen with the job search is what I’ll call broken promises. These broken promises can happen anywhere along the job search journey. And honestly, they have the ability to be pretty upsetting to job seekers at every point of the process.
Let me give a few examples. Maybe you’ve submitted your resume and the hiring manager has promised you an interview. Then, they drop off the face of the earth. Or, you’ve had an interview and are told you’ll know something in a week, and then radio silence. Or, perhaps you’ve gone through an interview or two, and you’ve been told you’re advancing to the next round. Then, poof! The company ghosts you. Or, you’ve gotten to the very last round of the entire process and you’ve been told you’re the one, and the company decides not to hire anyone. Or, perhaps they offer you a contract role when you interviewed for a full time job. Or, maybe they offer you a lower title or a different job than you interviewed for.
Unfortunately, most companies look at the process of hiring as a business transaction. It’s not personal. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. No big deal, right?
Wrong. If it’s been a while since you interviewed, you may have forgotten what a job seeker sacrifices to interview. They may give up money from their existing job when they miss work to come to your interviews. They may risk being fired if they’re found to be interviewing. Or, they may turn down other job interview opportunities to pursue yours. They’re making choices, based on the feedback you’re giving them.
Job seeker, the best advice for you I have is this. Until there’s a job offer on the table, there’s no offer. Don’t assume the company will move you forward. Don’t put your other searches on hold until you have something in writing. Don’t reorganize your life plans until you have a contract. I know, this can be hard. When a company tells you they love you, they’re convincing. They may even be telling the truth. It’s not unusual for a company to love you and then have a reason they can’t hire someone new.
Hiring manager, I know, you can’t hire everyone. Lots of things happen that are outside of your control. Budgets change, timelines change, priorities change. But, there is something you can control. You can be transparent. You can let a candidate know directly when you’ve moved on. You can do it quickly, not months later. If the timeline changes, you can give the job seeker an update.
Job seekers care much less that they weren’t hired, if the rejection comes from a company that was honest and transparent. They may even apply again when a new opportunity comes along that’s a better fit. Now, that’s a positive business transaction!
Have you ever had a date with someone who had recently been through a bad breakup? There’s a good chance they were nervous to go through the same thing again. You can practically see the fear in their eyes. In relationships, we call this sort of thing emotional baggage. And, it can be tough to overcome. What’s interesting is that companies can have emotional baggage too.
With companies, the baggage starts in the form of a bad hire. It’s a bad hire that happened long before they met you. It’s like an ex-spouse. It’s someone who is long gone, but whose emotional damage still remains. The company hasn’t forgotten them, years later.
You may wonder what exactly I’m talking about. Here’s an example. An interviewer may say to a job seeker, “We hired an entrepreneur once before. That person was really controlling. He was hard to work with. Ever since, I really don’t like hiring anyone who has ever been self-employed.” (Disclosure: Yes, this really happened.)
For a job seeker who’s currently self-employed, for example, this statement is a hard one to overcome. How can you combat worries about problems caused by an employee that no longer works at the company? In this example, it might be best to be friendly and understanding, and try to reassure the interviewer. Show them you can get along well with others. Quiet their fears.
In reality though, it’s possible that old employee wasn’t difficult because they had been self-employed at some point. Perhaps they were difficult because they are just a difficult person. Wouldn’t that make a little more sense?
These types of generalizations are biases, plain and simple. It’s like assuming that because you dated a chemist once who was very rigid, all chemists are rigid people. But, that’s not true. Each person has their own unique personality, with positive and negative features.
Just like in the world of dating, if you want to find your perfect match, you’ve got to stop looking at things through an old lens. You can’t assume every relationship won’t workout. Otherwise, you’ll never get anywhere. Similarly, you’ve got to judge each job seeker on their character and their individual experience. Don’t hold them up to a standard set by someone else long ago.
Ask the job seeker about their skills, and their past jobs. Ask them why they’re interested in the role. Learn about them. Find out if they will get along with your team. Evaluate them, based on what’s important today – not something that happened before. Try your best to look at them as a unique person.
If you can drop off your emotional baggage, you might just find that you pick up a great new hire. The more that biases drive your decision making process, the less you’re evaluating the current candidate. You’re allowing the old employee who isn’t even there anymore to continue to run the show.