Thursday, August 18, 2005

Career Changes: A 1000% Better Chance of Finding a Job

Want to increase your chances of finding a job by at least 1000%? Read on.

When you're seeking a job, how you communicate makes a big difference. This is not rocket science, so down deep you probably already know this. The hierarchy of effectiveness of communication modes is the same as for everything else:

1. Face to face communication.
2. Telephone conversations where you actually talk to a live person.
3. Physical mail.
4. E-mail, voice mail, or fax.

Face-to-face conversation most effectively establishes trust between two people so that what is said is heard. It also is the best way to capture another's attention. Attention may be the most precious commodity in America, and especially when you're seeking employment. Nothing substitutes for an in-person conversation. Statistics on job search strategies continue to show that those which rely on face-to-face approaches greatly outperform those which rely on virtual approaches.

Having a telephone conversation, if you absolutely can't get face-to-face, can also be effective. You can develop a level of trust and gain a level of attention with a phone conversation, but it is a magnitude less effective that an in-person conversation. That's because communication is highly visual -- body language is extremely important in establishing trust. We're more likely to be understood and believed when people can see us as opposed to just hearing us.

Physical mail is a big step down from even a telephone conversation. But it does have the physicality of paper and ink that makes it more real and that captures more attention that email, voice mail, or fax. It's a one way communication, which you should attempt to avoid if at all possible. But in those situations where you absolutely can't make your approach in person or by phone, this is next best. It's most effective when sent to a decision maker by name, rather than something general or something sent to H.R. And for sure use physical mail for thank you notes.

Least effective by a long shot are email, voice mail, and fax. They are too easy to ignore. You know that, because you do it all the time. Use these techniques only to provide additional information after you have established trust with your recipient through in-person or phone communications. That way they have a much better chance of getting attention.

Most job seekers use the communication hierarchy in reverse order. They'll use email, voice mail, or fax as a first step. Or they'll mail out resumes with cover letters. Few will begin with in-person approaches or telephone conversations. There are a couple of reasons for this ineffective behavior:
  • We perceive that there's less risk of personal rejection from using email or a mailing. It's a one-way conversation, and we don't face the risk of the person on the other end rejecting our effort to our face and having to hear "I'm not interested." But in reality, we need to understand that we're unlikely to get even enough attention for the person to make such a decision by just emailing or mailing them something.
  • It's easier to email, apply online, or mail a resume than it is to make a phone call or get an appointment to see someone. We like taking the easy way out. But it's precisely because it's the easy way that it's so ineffective. Potential employers are looking for people who show an extra level of iniative, and nothing shows that more than approaching them in person, or as a fall back, on the phone. It's definitely worth the extra work.
If you're still questioning the validity of what I'm saying, just dig out your long lost copy of What Color is My Parachute and look at the statistics of the five best and five worst ways to find a job. And if your copy is dated, and you think that email and job sites have become more effective and replaced the necessity of in person and phone approaches to be successful, drop by your local bookstore and take a look at the statistics in the 2005 edition.

If you're relying on job sites and emails and mailing resumes to get you a job, you need to know that you have a 95% chance of not being successful. Making the change to communicating in person will immediately increase your odds of success by at least 1000%. What are you waiting for?

Jim Hughes is a Christian Life Coach helping people make successful career changes. To learn more about coaching or to contact Jim directly, visit Mapmaker Coaching.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Career Changes: From Healthcare to Art or Teaching

Here are two great stories of people who have made career changes to do something they love, although in both cases, it meant less pay.

The first story is about a guy who left healthcare and became a coach and teacher. "I got into teaching because I wanted to make a difference," he says. Lots of people share that purpose.

The second story is about a guy who was an R.N., and changed careers to become an artist. When both of his parents died, he thought about how short life is, and decided to make the change.

Often we follow career paths that are not our true passions. They may be financially attractive, but often we find that something is missing. If you identify with these stories, then maybe you should spend some time getting to know yourself better to see if a career change might be right for you. The exercises in What Color is Your Parachute are a good start for helping figure this all out.

Jim Hughes is a Christian Life Coach helping people make successful career changes. To learn more about coaching or to contact Jim, visit Mapmaker Coaching.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Career Change: Becoming a Stay-at-Home Dad

Tom Golata, after being laid off from his customer service and support roles in high tech, made the career change to stay-at-home dad, while his wife began work as a consultant (read full story). While not an easy transition, he's thriving in this career change, getting to spend time with his children and starting a photography business as well.

Becoming a stay-at-home dad can be a great option for the family, especially when your career leaves you. Would this work for you? Here are a few things to consider before choosing this option:
  • How much of your self-esteem is tied up in being in the traditional bread winner role?
  • Do you have a hobby or a business idea that can be turned into a part-time business to provide the fulfillment of working? While being a stay-at-home Dad is a full-time job, just as being a stay-at-home Mom is, the most often asked question in America is, "So what do you do?" If answering, "I'm a stay-at-home Dad" is too much a blow to your self esteem, having a part-time business can help.
  • Is your spouse willing and comfortable with role reversal? How much of her self esteem is tied up in being the primary caregiver for the children?
  • As the children grow up and become increasingly independent, what would you like to be prepared to do career-wise?

Jim Hughes is a Christian life coach helping people make successful career changes. To learn more about coaching or to contact Jim directly, visit Mapmaker Coaching.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Making Career Changes to Something That Makes a Difference

A growing trend in our generation is to make a career change that results in order to do something that makes a difference. Here's an interesting article from the Times Online that says that nearly three-fourths of recent graduates in the UK plan a career change before age 35, and that for many, it will be to do something that makes a difference such as teaching. My wife, who's an education professor here in Houston, has many students who are leaving corporate positions to become teachers, so this is certainly not limited to the UK.

Bob Buford, founder of the Halftime movement, coined a phrase that describes this well, "moving from success to significance." Bob talks about having success in career, but having a growing feeling that there must be more that one could achieve than serving themselves and their company. That more is serving others -- doing something significant, not merely successful.

What is it that your skills, ability, and experiences could enable you to do that would make a difference in the lives of other people -- that would add significance to your life in place of mere success?

Jim Hughes is a Christian life coach helping people make successful career changes. To learn more about how coaching could benefit you in making your career change or to contact Jim directly, visit Mapmaker Coaching.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Making Career Changes: First Impression Do's and Don'ts

We've all grown up on "dress for success," and certainly, how we dress during our employment application process is a significant piece of how people judge us. First impressions are huge factors. Making a good first impression goes a long way, and making a poor first impression is hard to overcome.

That's why you should pay careful attention to other things that give first impressions:
  • Your email address
  • Your phone greeting
  • Your business card
  • Your resume
  • Your cell phone ring tone.
Do use an email address that looks professional, preferably one with yourname@somedomain. DON'T use one that is cute and designed for your intimate friends (partyguy, dogsbestfriend, etc.)

Do use a phone greeting that identifies you by name, and make it very business like. You don't want to leave a perspective employer guessing if they got the right number. DON'T use some cute greeting or one your 4-year old has recorded that's really nice for the grandparents but hard for others to understand.

Do have personal business cards. They can be ones you print yourself on the computer or free ones such as from VistaPrint or ones you have printed at your local printer or office supply store. Do keep them simple and businesslike. DON'T get cutesy.

Do print your resume on good paper using a standard font and a simple, readable layout. A good white ink-jet or laser paper is fine. A serifed font such as New Times Roman is a good choice because it says "business." DON'T use colored paper (buff or light grey if you must) to try to attract attention or use a font like Comic Sans or add decorations.

Do keep your cell phone either turned off or on vibrate while meeting with potential employers. DON'T EVER let it ring with your favorite rap or rock cell tone.

The opportunity to make a good first impression is priceless. Don't blow it by being cute.

Jim Hughes is a Christian Life Coach helping people make successful career changes. To learn more about coaching or to contact Jim directly, visit Mapmaker Coaching.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Making Career Changes: Keep Your Integrity

Show Notes

Podcast Title: Making Career Changes: Keep Your Integrity

Host: Jim Hughes, Christian Life Coach

You've all seen stories about people making career changes who have lied in an attempt to make themselves look more qualified. In fact, it has just the opposite effect -- no one wants to have an employee whose character has been demonstrated to be untrustful. Trustworthiness is priceless, so avoid even the hint of stretching the truth on your resume.

For a more detailed discussion, see my earlier blog post.

Jim Hughes is a Christian Life Coach helping clients make successful career changes. To learn more about coaching or to contact Jim, visit Mapmaker Coaching.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Resumes, Mail Order Degrees, and Integrity

I once had a boss who suspected everyone of cheating on expense accounts. This was back in the day before everyone issued corporate credit cards, and anyone making a trip would receive a cash advance from the company to finance the trip. Most folks would take the check to the bank to cash it and then buy travelers' checks. My boss, though, was not a travelers' check guy, and thought that anyone that put the fee for travelers' checks (a couple of dollars at most) on their expense account had to be cheating.

Someone said in response to those charges, "My integrity is worth too much to me to trade it for a few dollars I might get for cheating on an expense account." I think this sentiment also applies to ways one might lie to get a job.

We're all familiar with high profile cases of people who have lied on their resumes or bought mail order diplomas in order to look better when applying for jobs. These are blatant cases of individuals trading their integrity in hopes of gaining financial reward. The only explanation for their behavior is that they must not value their integrity very highly.

So how much do you value your integrity?
  • Would you trade it for a few dollars on an expense account?
  • How about for a few hundred dollars on your tax return?
  • How about trading your integrity for a promotion or a new job?
A couple of thoughts if you're sometimes tempted to embellish your resume or add a mail order degree:

1. Your integrity is much more valuable than any job you might get by doing so. Your integrity defines who you are.

2. Your chances of getting caught are actually pretty high. Then you'll either not get the job, or if you get it, you'll be fired. You offer resumes and diplomas as proof of your qualifications. Employers nearly always take steps to verify that these are true and accurate. False information provided in the employment application process is always grounds for dismissal. No one wants to have someone work for them whose integrity has been demonstrated to be flawed.

So, when preparing your resume, do tailor it to highlight your strengths and experience that offer proof that you can do the job that the employer needs done. Don't, however, ever succumb to the temptation to shade the truth or outright lie in an attempt to make yourself look more attractive to an employer.

Your integrity is worth to much to trade for anything, even a job.

Jim Hughes is a Christian Life Coach helping clients make successful career changes, including retirement. To learn more about how coaching might benefit your career change or to contact Jim, visit Mapmaker Coaching.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

If you're thinking of starting your own business

Here's an interesting career change story from Pittsburg. I think the writer was trying to extract some advice for career changers, but what I saw was a guy forced to make a career change who saw possibilities for a new business and who was fortunate enough to develop the skills and something that differentiated his way of creating video from the competition to become successful. It's worth the read and doing some thinking about what led to his success, especially if you're thinking about starting a business as your career change. What would differentiate you from everyone else out there who is doing the same thing?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Money Considerations for Baby Boomer Career Changes

Here's an interesting short article on some financial questions Boomers who are considering career change should think about before leaping from the Baby Boomer Blog. While there you may be interested to note that they are shooting a TV series on Boomers to air next year.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

What's Jim Hughes have to offer?

If you prefer to listen, click below

Show Notes:

Host: Jim Hughes, Christian Life Coach

"What's Jim Hughes have to offer?"

I think that's a good question, so I'll try to give a brief answer: Experience in recruiting, hiring, and resource development from several perspectives.
  • I worked for Texaco for 32 years before my early retirement in 2002. While most of my career was in research management, it seems like I was never far from also being involved in recruting, managing the hiring process, or helping others with career development. So I have a lot of insight about the hiring process from inside a large corporation.
  • After leaving Texaco, I started my life coaching business, and have often worked with clients whose goal is a career change.
  • I've also led a ministry for people who are between jobs for the last several years, helping people make the transition from being laid off to finding new employment. So I've also developed a lot of perspective from the other side of the table.
So what I have to offer is my experience and my insight developed over the past 35 years.

Another good question is "Why am I doing this blog and podcast?" Here's the short answer:
  • It's a way to help people looking for help in making a career change.
  • It helps me process and preserve some of the things I've learned.
  • It's a viral marketing strategy for my coaching business. Some who read the blog and listen to the podcast just need some information and guidance. Others need help developing and executing their career change strategy -- coaching.
To learn more about me and my coaching business, just follow this link to Mapmaker Coaching. If you'd like to have a conversation with me to determine if coaching might be right for you, you'll find an email link on the Mapmaker site.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Career Changes: Resume Must Be Tailored for New Career

Following up on my two previous posts, here's a link to a good discussion of why your resume needs to provide proof that your can perform in the new career you've chosen and some hints on how to write it.