“Our patience will achieve more than our force.” – Edmund Burk

I wanted to share a glimpse into my personal job hunting process in the hopes of showing how playing it cool as an applicant can actually  help.

At the end of June I had an informal interview for a position at a local bank. Everything went seemingly well; the hiring manager and I seemed to hit it off, so I felt pretty positive about how it went. The position hadn’t been finalized so there was no telling when I would hear word about the next step.

Flash forward to a month later when I still hadn’t heard boo about the status of the position. Rather than panicking I sent a friendly, yet professional, e-mail to the person I interviewed with expressing my continued interest in the position. She responded by letting me know the final details were being ironed out, but she was glad I was still interested.

Still with me? Two days ago I had seen the position posted online. Originally I had been prompted to send my information through a personal contact so it wasn’t common knowledge the position was open. There was a little part of me that thought I was no longer in the running. I was also tempted to reapply to get my name in the circulation through a slightly different path. My gut prevailed and told me to wait. If they wanted me to know what the next step was, they would tell me.

So what was waiting for me in my e-mail inbox today? An e-mail from the hiring manager I had been working with! She said had encouraged me to fill out the application in the hopes of still being interested in the position.

Now I am not naive enough to think I am a lock for this position. It was just encouraging to know that a little patience can yield positive results in the interviewing process!

Positive Thought of the Day :
“Waiting and hoping is a hard thing to do when you’ve already been waiting and hoping for almost as long as you can bear it.” – Jenny Ninno

“He prizes ambiguity; he loves to keep you guessing.” – Lionel Shirer

I have one more rant about hiring manager quirks then I will return to the Land of the Positive.

Dear Hiring Managers:

If you’re going to require an application as part of the hiring process, please state that in the job posting. I know you probably hear from a great deal of people who say they hate filling out applications when they don’t even get an interview. However, it can be just as frustrating to develop a personalized cover letter, polish up a resume, wait weeks only to find out you have one more step before even being considered.

So I ask you to be mindful of our time, as well. We will gladly go through the necessary steps of your hiring process. We just want to do it as efficiently as possible.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely, Job Hunters Everywhere

Positive Thought of the Day:
“Neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity.” – Sigmund Freud

“Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.” – Drew Carey

   

Job searching can be one of the most isolating and confidence-crushing experiences a person can face. I know for me I tend to shy away from spending time with friends and family when I am having career troubles because of a couple of reasons. One, I don’t want to be a downer who is always droning on about my unhappiness. Two, it’s hard to have people who are gainfully and happily employed try and understand the tough feelings I am experiencing at the time.

I have come to the realization I have options in handling my frustrations about job searching.

So, Vanna, if you please . . .

1. Drink. Heavily. I do enjoy red wine, but this option is not good for my pocketbook, waistline, or liver.  It also does not produce any real, long-term solutions.

2. Suffer in silence. I’ve tried this, which tends to lead to option one.

3. Suffer in rage. Explaining during an interview why you spent a night in jail due to writing curse words into your boss’s front lawn with Round Up tends to be a buzz kill.

 4. Find others to commiserate with . . .

Which is why I have decided to start the Strategic Networking Group. The main focuses of the group will be to keep other professionals up-to-date on career opportunities, provide feedback on resumes and interview techniques, as well as providing support to others looking for a new avenue in their career. If you live in the Fargo-Moorhead area and would like to be a part of the Strategic Networking Group, please feel free to e-mail me at hangintheredante@gmail.com.

Meeting times and locations will be discussed once we get up and running. Skype options for those of you who are outside the F-M area may open up down the road.  Finding others going through similar experiences is always helpful.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Editor’s Note: I know I’ve used Drew Carey’s quote in an earlier post, but it was so fitting for what this is I had to recycle it. Normally I’m against reusing ideas. In fact, I wrote the rough draft of this post on first-growth rainforest paper.

Positive Thought of the Day:

“I’ve always thought that people need to feel good about themselves and I see my role as offering support to them, to provide some light along the way.” – Leo Buscaglia

Dating is pressure and tension. What is a date, really, but a job interview that lasts all night?" – Jerry Seinfeld

(Editor’s Note:  This is a post I put up awhile ago, but I am resubmitting for two reasons.  One, I was able to utilize WordPress’s reblog feature.  And, as unhumble as it sounds, it’s my favorite post so far!  Thank you for indulging me!  We’ll get back to job interviewing later this week.)

Dating is a lot like landing that great job interview. You spend countless hours looking for the “right one.” You wear outfits that you would normally never wear. You rack your brain for the best possible answers to questions they might ask. You are constantly worrying if they might reject you. Most importantly: You spend the whole time trying to portray who you think they want you to be. At least with job hunting there’s always a chance you’ll end up with a really great dental plan.

I have to make an admission. As I was trying to tear down yet another writer’s block, aka procrastinating on my next cover letter, I was sorting through old online articles I had saved to my favorites. I came across an article on the 11 Dating Mantras to Live By I had found through MSN.com. As I was reading through each point to remember while dating I couldn’t help but notice how many related to job searching.

So, I can’t take credit for today’s list. Authorship rights go to Erin Meanley of Glamour.com. Vanna, if you please, the list . . . (Editor’s Second Note: The numbered list was written by Ms. Meanley. The clarifications below each one were written by me. I know you’re a smart bunch, but just in case there’s any ambiguity . . .)

1. I can’t control his behavior; I can only control my reaction to it.
To steal another dating cliché: “He’s just not that into you.” Calling repeatedly after sending a resume or an interview isn’t going to help your chances of getting the job. Follow up one week after and leave it at that. Being too eager can actually hurt your chances. Plus, HR is super-busy with HR-y stuff. There’s a fine line between showing interest and being a job stalker.

2. I am a human being worthy of love.
Just because they aren’t calling you back doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be a great employee. The hiring process always takes longer than everyone thinks. If a job isn’t calling you back, put your hook back into the water. There are plenty more fish in the sea who would love to hire you.

3. Everyone is responsible for guarding their own heart.
This is the age-old trap that gets even the most cynical of daters. “I had a great time tonight. Can I call you sometime?” We spend the rest of the night looking at our phones to make sure it isn’t on silent. You may have nailed the interview. They may even tell you nailed the interview. Yet, that is no guarantee you’re the one they’re going to hire. Why? Who knows? The point is to pat yourself on the back, but stay diligent in your search. We all know what happens when we assume.

4. Big picture, big picture.
Every resume that doesn’t get read or interview you don’t land is just practice for the getting the right job. Don’t dwell on the things you don’t get. A job may look perfect on paper and you really, really want it, but who knows? It may have a toxic work environment. The boss may smell like tabasco sauce. Everything we go through is a lesson to be learned to help us see the big picture.

5. Life never ceases to surprise me.
There have been jobs I never thought I had a chance at that have called me for an interview. There have been jobs where I thought I would be a shoe-in for at least an interview that didn’t call me at all. Throw your hat into the ring. If you don’t even try your chances still stay at zero.

6. I am lucky to be alive.
Remember this when you’re counting all the things you don’t have or the jobs you’re not getting.

7. It’s okay to be sad.
You’re going hear ‘no’, and you’re going to be disheartened. It’s okay to be bummed out.

8. I’m taking it one day at a time.
This is a good reminder to not wish away your life until the job posting date closes on your dream job. Take time to step away from polishing your resume and combing through Monster.com. Go to the movies. Read a chapter in your favorite book. Take a shower. Your psyche and your family will thank you.

9. This too shall pass.
You will land that great job you’ve been pining after and the heartache you went through to find it will be a distant memory. If what you really wanted was easily attained, how fulfilling is it really?

10. Everything will work out fine in the end.
It’s easy to fall into the pit of despair when job hunting. You tell yourself awful things that destroy yourself confidence. When you hit that point tell yourself everything will work itself out. Yes, Pollyanna, it will. One thing that has helped me to keep my chin up is I take a dry erase marker and write nice things about myself on my bathroom mirror. What I write ranges from my ability to engage people to my shiny hair. It doesn’t really matter what it is, and I don’t really read it once it’s up there. The important thing is when I see the list grow I remember I will be okay because of all the great qualities I possess.

11. Serenity now!
Whenever I say this line, I scream it like George’s dad on Seinfeld. It doesn’t always calm me down, but it makes me laugh.

Positive Thought of the Day:
“Employees make the best dates. You don’t have to pick them up and they’re tax deductible.” – Andy Warhol

Single-ish Sex, Love & Life: glamour.com.

"Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant." – Mitchell Kapor

Now that you have your grocery list written it’s time to go shopping. Shopping for jobs is a lot like shopping at IKEA. There is a lot to look at and you have to put some work in to get a finished product, but if you can find the right colored track you can at least get started. And, with any luck, you’ll get to meet Ace of Bass.

Big Task; Little Steps. Vanna, if you please . . .

1. Human Resources would love to see your face . . . when you come in for your scheduled interview. While it is easier to remember a name when there is a face attached to it, dropping in unexpectedly and requesting an interview is not the way to get remembered. If you have the time to pick up an application or drop off a resume, that’s totally fine. Any more than that is presumptuous. I once had a co-worker say to me, “I wish I could work in HR so I could have a job where I do nothing.” HR may not look very busy since a lot of what is done is on the computer, but make no mistake: HR’s day is jam-packed just like everyone else’s. Dropping in unannounced for an interview is disrespectful to their time. Also, HR doesn’t want to hear a sad story about how you drove 7 hours to see if you could be interviewed. That just shows a lack of planning on your part. Don’t call us; we’ll call you. Literally. Don’t call on the phone and ask for an interview either.

2. EXTREE, EXTREE! READ ALL ABOUT IT! It helps if you’re wearing a newsie outfit while reading this point. While the classified ad of your local newspaper is not completely dead, it is on life support. More and more companies are opting for the more convenient, and sometimes more cost-effective, online ad. This is where your list comes into play. Some online job search engines can produce over 2,000 postings. Who has that kind of time and energy to sift through that many ads? Much like IKEA, once you can narrow your search down to either the green or yellow line, the easier it is to get to your dream job/futon.

Whether you are utilizing Jobshq.com, Monster.com, or Idealist.org, utilize the categories and parameters to cast out your net. Remember: The wider the net, the more fish you’ll hopefully pull in. If you have very specific criteria in terms of type of job or company you do/don’t want to work for, salary, or location, that’s fine. However, just be forewarned that having very narrow specifications may lengthen how long it takes to find a job that meets your requirements.

Don’t always rely on online classified or search engines either. Sometimes companies will only post openings on their website. So, if there is a certain company you have your eye on, check their website frequently. Also, start to notice trends and patterns in the types of job openings you want so you’ll have an idea of the likelihood of finding a job. For example, teaching and admissions positions tend to open up in the Spring and are usually filled by the time school starts in the Fall. So, if you would really like to break into academia at good ol’ Alma Mater University, start looking when you dust off your capris and t-shirts.

3. ‘Cuz we still like seeing fossils at the museum. Even though we are in the Age of the Computers, some companies will still only post job openings in the newspaper. The Sunday paper is going to be your best bet in finding the most amount of listings.

4. Trees are overrated. Just because more and more companies are utilizing the Internet to find their applicants doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have resume paper handy. Some online postings will still request a hard copy of your resume and cover letter. Also, as mentioned in point three, if a company only posted their job opening in the paper, more than likely they’re going to want any application materials sent to them. A box of 24 lb resume paper will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 – $10. You won’t need to go with anything that’s much more expensive than that. You want your resume to say, “I’m professional.”; not, “I got duped into spending $30 on paper.” Use the full-sized catalog style envelopes. Trust me. Maybe I’m too picky but folded resumes and applications are the worst.

Best of luck in your shopping endeavors. Don’t forget to pick up milk!

Positive thought of the day:
“I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity.” – Oprah Winfrey

“The trouble with unemployment is that the minute you wake up in the morning you’re on the job.” – Slappy White

Whether or not you are employed while job searching the biggest step is getting started. I know. Just call me Captain Obvious.  One of the reasons why we put off finding a new job or tell ourselves the job we’re in isn’t so bad is because job hunting scares the bejeebers out of us. Yes, it is daunting. But, just like eating an elephant, all you need to do is take it one bite at a time.

Vanna, if you please, bring out the list . . .

1. Find your heart’s desire. Grab a notebook or Post-It and write down what types of jobs you would like to do or companies you would like to work for, even if they’re seemingly out of your reach. Saying you want to be a movie star or a world famous belly dancer may sound silly, but it may also be that tiny little voice you’ve been shushing urging to take a look at your inner entertainer. You need to be your own biggest cheerleader. If you don’t believe in your dreams, who else will?

2. Find a pattern. Take your list and group any job or company into as many relatable groups as possible. If you have a list of, say, ten items and the top three are the humane society, Red Cross, or youth director, maybe a shift towards the non-profit sector is in order. Or, if you are leaning towards such positions as development director, recruiting, or even accounting, take a look breaking into education. Ivy covered walls look pretty, but they don’t bring in money from donors, give tours to potential freshmen, or allot financial aid to thousands of students. Getting a handle on what career paths you want to travel down now will help your actual career search later.

3. Find jobs to apply to. That’s all for tonight, folks! You’ve been a wonderful audience . . . Okay. Seriously. Now it’s time to do the leg work. Times, they are a-changin’. Gone are the days when you would get spiffed up to pound the pavement in hopes to land an on-the-spot interview. As someone who has worked in human resources (HR), do not assume that just because you dropped off your resume you will get an instantaneous interview. Just because it looks like we’re just sitting at a computer playing Angry Birds doesn’t mean we are. Presumptuous interrupting of the workflow of HR is not the best way to get your foot in the door. It’s actually a great way to annoy the gatekeepers of the hiring process.

Next we will cover how actually take that focused energy and actually search for jobs . . . Onwards and upwards!

Positive Thought for the Day:

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.” – Henry Ford

"Trying is the first step to failure." – Homer Simpson

Job hunting is a perpetual ego-kicking machine.

It doesn’t matter how many gold stars you received in school. Or, how many times your picture went up on the Employee of the Month wall. Unless you’re extremely lucky you’re bound to suffer through the sting of rejection at some point in your job search. Even the most talented, qualified, and experienced job seekers are told “no” sometimes.

Hopefully you have a strong sense of self, a healthy dose of self-confidence, and supportive people in your life. Rejection can still suck even if you’re armed with an arsenal of all three. It can shake us to the very core and cause us to question why we are even putting ourselves out there in the first place. We tell ourselves, “What’s the point? I might as well stay at my lousy job. At least it pays the bills.”

But, rejection does not have to be a job hunting death sentence. How does one pull themselves up by their proverbial boot straps?

I’m a big fan of lists. So, Vanna, if you please . . .

1. Admit that it sucks. You don’t have to rent a billboard. You don’t even have to tell your friends and family you received a rejection letter. In this day and age you don’t always receive that. You have every right to keep your lips sealed. What you need to do is reconcile any raw emotions you have with yourself. Moxie and gumption are great things, but it’s okay to say, “I’m angry/sad/frustrated/etc. I didn’t get that job. I think it would’ve been perfect for me.” Beating yourself up for being bummed is only going to make you feel worse.

2. Have a short memory. You feel bad. You realize you feel bad. Guess what? The sun will still come up tomorrow unless you’re Mayan and December 2012 is fast approaching. After drowning your sorrows in a vice of your choice throw that rejection letter in the trash. Open up the classified ads. That fantastic job isn’t going to wait for you to get back on your horse.

3. “Don’t drive angry” – Bill Murray, Groundhog Day. This may seem contradictory to point two, but make sure you are in the right frame of mind before you saddle up your horse again. Moping around for days isn’t going to help you, but neither is sending out applications when you feel dejected. I once sent off an application without proofreading at all because I was still reeling from a rejection letter I had received earlier in the day. At the time I didn’t see the point of putting my best foot forward since it didn’t seem to matter anyway. You’re good enough. You’re smart enough. And, doggonit, people like you. Remember that before clicking the submit button on your next application.

4. Take a closer look at your resume and cover letter. Rejection can be a push towards creativity. Whether you wrangle family, friend, foe, or you take a hard look yourself, make sure what you’re sending out is truly a great reflection of what you have to offer. I know rehashing through resumes and cover letters can be painstaking and mind-numbing, but it is completely necessary. Sometimes you have crafted a really good cover letter but a tweak to a word here or cutting out filler there can turn it from good to great. Sometimes you hit a patch of bad luck and a resume dipped in gold won’t do the trick. Just make sure you have laid all your cards on the table, including a well-polished cover letter and resume.

Always remember one positive thought each day: “Life only demands from you the strength you possess.”- Dag Hammarskjold