“The end of labor is to gain leisure.” – Aristotle

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Take some time off to relax. Whether you’ve been working, job hunting, or both, you deserve a break! Fire up the grill and have a Happy Labor Day!

Positive Thought of the Day:
“Before the reward there must be labor. You must plant before you harvest. You sow tears before you reap joy.” – Ralph Rarson

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“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

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here…

That’s what it feels like when entering the realm of job searching. Job hunting can wrench the gut of even the most experienced job seekers. Do not despair, friends. We can work (no pun intended) through the process together!

My two main goals of this blog are to be informative and encouraging. Looking for a new job; let alone finding a career, can be confusing, isolating and disheartening. I have waded through the drudgery of crafting resumes, trying on suits, and smiling through interviews. I feel your pain . . .

However, being in human resources, I have also sat through interviewees’ stories of cut up underwear (yep!), received applications completed with glitter pens, and Xeroxed notebook pages submitted as cover letters. My posts will hopefully offer some insight into the minds of those working through the hiring process as human resources (HR; I have been surprised at how many people do not what HR stands for) representatives. Maybe this insight will help smooth out some of the bumps in the road along the way to reaching your dream job.