As you may remember from last week, I found myself unemployed after asking for my salary to be increased to be more in line with that of my coworkers. That means it is time to begin looking for a job. I recently finished reading “What Color is Your Parachute” and find myself drawn back to the chapter that discussed the various ways that people look for jobs versus how employers hire candidates. I was reading a copy from the library, so unfortunately I cannot refer to it for accuracy, but it went a little something like this: The order of importance that we give the various methods of getting a job are directly opposite that of employers.

With that in mind, I know that too much time spend on Monster or CareerBuilder will be rather worthless.  First things first, I signed up for unemployment. There is a one week waiting period, which is interesting to me since so many Americans are supposed to be only one paycheck away from financial Armageddon. Hopefully I will find out my benefit amount by early next week.

Next up on the to-do list is updating my resume. Since I already had my then current job on there all I had to do was adjust the end date. Then I put it up on CareerBuilder and Monster but did not look for any jobs there as of yet.

If I remember correctly, the ways that employers find candidates to fill open positions are as follows:

  1. Internal candidates
  2. Candidates referred by someone at the company
  3. Unsolicited direct applications
  4. Applications on the company website
  5. newspaper/internet ads

Clearly I cannot utilize #1 as I am not employed. I have asked around and found one person that has an accountant opening at their job. I submitted my resume for that. I also looked up some local companies to see if they had any jobs listed on their websites and then applied to those.  And thus far I have not looked at any newspaper or internet ads.

Guess what? I have two interview lined up.  Each company came across my resume on CareerBuilder. I never contacted either place on my own. The exciting thing about these opportunities is that they are direct hire jobs, as opposed to staffing agencies. I really despise staffing agencies and would rather work two jobs in fast food than work for a temp agency.

Landing an interview presents its own problems though. References. In my mind, I would think it is not such a good idea to use the place that just let me go as a reference. However, an article on CareerJournal says to not assume that a boss that fired you would give you a bad reference. I think that is quite a big risk so I will not be trying it.

Here are my tips for preparing for finding and obtaining a new job:

  1. Tweak the resume. It was already mostly updated and just involved a little tweaking.  The important thing to remember here is that it is a tool. Once I get an interview I can go into loads more detail about what I did and why I’m so awesome.
  2. Put out your feelers. I asked around in my network and found out that someone I knew had an open position at their office. They were able to hand deliver my resume, which may give me a bit of an advantage over other candidates.
  3. Get your resume out there. While you do not want to waste your time searching on Monster immediately, it can’t hurt to have a resume out for everyone to see. I got two interviews that way!
  4. Work on a snazzy cover letter. If there is one thing I have learned over the past few years it is that cover letters make all the difference. Since you are trying to keep your resume to a page a lot gets left out. That is where the cover letter comes in handy. I usually do a search online for examples and then combine the best elements of all of them into one kickass cover letter.
  5. Prepare for the interview. Practice how you will sell yourself. I have found that being able to tell short little stories is helpful for me. It’s also a good idea to think of how you will answer those lame questions that almost every interviewer asks….”Can you tell me about your weaknesses?” “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
  6. Research salary and prepare to negotiate.  You want to make sure you are getting paid what you are worth, so look up salary information for the job you are interviewing for. Then use that information to your advantage when you are negotiating salary. And remember, the first person to name a dollar amount usually ends up the loser of the negotiation.

As I make my way through the sea of temp jobs, I have been exposed to many different types of environments and managers. Having had so many jobs, I have begun to identify what makes companies run well and what doesn’t, what types of managers and management techniques are the most effective, what are and what are not good motivators for employees and so on.

At my current position, I am in line for a bit of a promotion. I would go from being a peon to a senior peon. Terribly exciting prospect, no? Supposedly, myself and a co-worker are the only people being considered for such a step up in the world. Our boss is one of the decision makers on who gets to pass go. This brings me to  a common gripe that I have about the workplace.

People in positions of authority that make hiring/firing decisions should not be going to lunch with lower-level employees.

They just should not. I don’t care if it makes them look snobby and bitchy. As you climb up the totem pole of power in the workplace, you should be forbidden from fraternizing from those holding up said totem pole as it is bad for business.

If she gets the promotion, everyone will say that it was because they are lunch buddies. If I get the promotion, everyone will say it’s because the boss couldn’t promote her because it would look bad since they are lunch buddies.

Not being lunch buddies is an easy way around this.

Part of the problem is that this supervisor has a cubicle out amongst us peons. This only contributes to the problem. It puts the supervisor in a position to be buddies with the peons because they surround her.

This kind of thing, the whole supervisor buddy system, also leads to a lack of respect for the supervisor. How can the supervisor be viewed with respect as an authority figure when she lunches with the peons as well as gossips with them when they are gossiping?

“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air”

John Quincy Adams

This is the partner post to the idea of thinking like an entrepreneur. If you play rugby, there’s a phrase they use called “making the hard yards”. This is making progress through a pile of defenders who are trying to stop you, its far from easy, but will result in setting up a successful platform from which you can attack and make bigger progress.

This philosophy applies in business and blogging as well. In fact any task you take on. If you want to make the hard yards, the most important thing when you hit the resistance is to keep your feet moving, never stop them, just small steps, keep driving forward. If you ever stop pumping your feet then the defense is going to get on top and start pushing you back. Once you are going backwards then you are always going to be on the back foot and struggling to make progress.

How does this apply in Business though?

Any time you hit resistance in a project it’s necessary to remember this philosophy. Let’s take the example of blogging. So many bloggers know the feeling of suddenly hitting the wall. It’s why so many blogs die and fizzle away. You can’t think of what to write or how to boost visitor numbers or another problem. You stop. Once you stop you find it’s difficult or in fact “impossible” to pick it up again.

The solution here is to realize you have hit some resistance and then make an action plan on how to progress. The action plan needs to involve lots of little steps you can take forward. You want to keep moving.

So let’s take our blogger. They hit a wall. They can’t think of any solutions. Here is my 6 step solution to making the hard yards.

  1. Identify the problem: write down what it is – you can’t solve anything you aren’t clear on
  2. Write down 3 little things you can do right now: to keep the momentum and continue making progress, no matter how small. And do them
  3. Write down what’s on the other side of the obstacle: You need to know what you are aiming for
  4. Brainstorm ideas: ask “what if I____” or “how could I____?” questions. i.e. what if I wrote 100 comments every day on other blogs for a month?… how could I develop an easy method to write new material AND make it fun? Create possible solutions
  5. Seek Advice: look for answers from people who have been in similar situations. I always check the copyblogger or problogger websites when I am looking for that nugget of inspiration on blogging or ask for help on websites or in forums… you never know who will be willing to give some great adviceAGAIN.. create possible solutions
  6. ACT: Keep experimenting and keep moving forward. You will succeed

The key:

Keep testing, keep experimenting and remember that baby steps add up.

“An entrepreneur assumes the risk and is dedicated and committed to the success of whatever he or she undertakes”

Victor Kiam

Does an entrepreneur think differently from your average Mr. Smith on the street? You bet he does. When it comes to the point where things start to get difficult that is where the entrepreneur stands up and makes it count.

What is the difference? Basically it’s how they view a challenge or a problem.

Let’s say for example you start up your own project or a business. You get a lot of information and start off all gung-ho. You’ve sorted out all your marketing, all your costs, you have your product ready etc.

Everything starts off great but then suddenly you hit a wall. Things start to get difficult and it’s not so fun anymore. You decide to fold your cards before you get in too deep and keep any cash you have left. You go back to your safe and tested way of life as before.

What stopped you? Well simply you decided there was no way you could deal with all the problems. You saw the giant obstacles ahead of you and it didn’t look like fun. You didn’t have the time or desire to get over the bump. You asked yourself “why can’t I do this?” or “why don’t I want to do this?

The entrepreneur continues though. He sees the obstacles as just a challenge and it’s going to be fun finding a way around them or over them. It’s a different perspective and a far more powerful one. Learn to use this perceptive of challenges being fun.

It comes around simply because he asks the question “how can I do this”. He looks for solutions despite the troubles. He looks to succeed. He knows how good success and overcoming challenges feels.

This basically comes down to the idea of comfort. Most people like being in their comfort zone, however, an entrepreneur likes feeling uncomfortable. He knows that is when things happen. That’s when lives change and money is made. He knows that there is always a way and he is willing to take risks and experiment until he finds the way.

Welcome to the mind of an entrepreneur. The moral of the story is to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Its the sign you are learning something and expanding. Look to experiment, take risks and challenge yourself and your thinking.

If you want to know more about asking questions that will give you positive solutions then read this post. It will open your eyes to a more positive way of looking at problems.

Just remember, discomfort is the sign of learning and growth. Think like an Entrepreneur.