Friday, May 1, 2009

Job Search Revisited

Last week I facilitated a workshop for a group that has just been laid off from a well known Bay Area company. May of the participants had been with this organization from 10 to 30 years, and several had been there since graduating from college. Suffice it to say, what most of them knew about work was connected to a company that will very possibly soon be out of business altogether.
As you can guess, most of the participants were overwhelmed and felt ill prepared for the impending job search. Their resumes, besides looking and feeling dated, were loaded with industry jargon and acronyms. They had almost no understanding about the transferability of their skills or how to begin articulating their accomplishments in terms of added value for a potential new employer. And, needless to say, the concept of networking was something they were dreading with a fear that was almost palpable.
Our two hours together was to help them begin tuning up and getting ready for an efficient and effective job search. Their major expressed concern was the state of the economy and it took them awhile to realize there were a number of things they needed to do regardless of how the how high the unemployment rate was. Once they began to accept the reality of their situation, they went to work on updating and upgrading their resumes. We talked about how to reframe their skills in language that others would understand and they learned how to build an accomplishment-based resume that highlighted both their skills and the results they achieved.
As they began to realize that most people get their jobs through the connections they have (or are willing to make), the power and importance of networking became apparent. They discussed about how much networking they would need to do and the consensus was: do as much as necessary to get in front of someone who has the power to hire you. For some, those already well connected, this might be several, and for others, who have few meaningful contacts, networking might need to become a near full-time effort. Many in the audience were not happy with that prospect.
The last part of the workshop focused on interviewing. Most of the participants couldn’t recall the last formal interview they’d had and when I asked if they’d ever heard of a “behavioral” interview, you could almost feel the panic in the crowd. After calming them down and assuring them that a good interview, regardless of style, consists of telling your story in a clear and compelling manner while emphasizing what you can and will do, you will more often than not, conduct a strong interview. With that as our final topic, they went on their way, better equipped to conduct an effective job search.
Best wishes.

Mark Guterman