Tuesday, September 22

CAREEREALISM Q#293 – How Often Can I Use My Network for Help?

How often you can use your network contacts, is entirely up to you.  If it becomes “work” for them, expect it to be infrequent at best and short-lived.  If you manage it right, it’s forever.

Let’s agree in theory that most people like to help others. Given the opportunity and the wherewithal they will, and why? … Because it feels good!  That’s human nature.  Unfortunately, in some situations, like networking, we don’t know how to help.

Too often we leave it up to others to figure out how they can help and when they can’t, they experience disappointment – they offered but couldn’t deliver!  It’s a difficult position for both networking contacts and job searchers.  Time and again job searchers put their networking contacts in a position where they feel all they can do is ‘hold on to your resume and keep their eyes and ears open; that if something comes up they’ll give you a call’ it’s too reactionaryWhat happens if nothing surfaces?  Having to say “I cannot help you” is upsetting and people will avoid it altogether.  This can also occur with friends and relatives.  If for example your job search isn’t developing for you and over and again you have nothing in the way of progress to report, even they may avoid contact with you.  Face it – it’s discouraging for friends to hear you’re not getting anywhere.  A few weeks or months of the same old, same old, GETS old, and they too may respond less and less to your calls.

This all sounds very gloomy but … there is a simple fix.  So simple that is can be explained in a single sentence: Don’t ask “if” they can help, tell them “how”.  That’s all it is!  Don’t ask them to figure out how to job search for you; they probably know less about it than you.  Instead, tell the “how”.

Here are some practical ideas to help get your network started on helping you and keeping them engaged:

1. Have a clear objective for your conversation and your job search. Be ready for the question, ‘what are you looking to do?’ It can stupefy the unsuspecting person forcing a response that is weak or irrelevant and with new contacts, even fatal.

2.  Be an active listener and always follow up what you hear with a question or a response.

3.  Have a list of specific people you would like to meet.  There is a chance that they may know someone on the list or someone else who that may know someone on the list.  I call this a “trigger” list.

4.  Prepare another list with associations, trade organization, business clubs, etc. where they may also know others that are tied to your target market.

5.  Find out if they have done business with search, recruitment agencies, career consultants…and if they have personal contacts there to whom they can refer you.

6.  Ask if they are involved in any activities where they can help you meet people, strike up a connection and build a relationship, i.e. trade organizations, volunteerism, continuing education, or even social portholes such as a virtual book club.

7.  Find out it they have recently attended any conferences, workshops or seminars in your target area.

8.  Prepare a list of 10 to 20 target companies: Are they familiar with any companies and if so, do they have any contacts there? Do they know people who may have contacts there?  What other companies come to mind that they think should be added to your list?

9.  Provide a list of professions that consist of the people and roles related to your target market (i.e. Accountants, Sales Reps, Journalists, Consultants, etc) that could trigger other connections they have.

10. Lastly, provide immediate feedback. Let them know how they are doing.  You will be surprised how far a little affirmation and approval thrown their way will go you.

This is a great way to approach meetings.  You have a clear objective and a solid agenda making it easier for others to help you. 

Here’s a nice twist: Have your meeting agenda on a separate sheet of paper for your network contact to review during your meeting.  Also, create duplicates of your “trigger” lists, your objective in the form of a statement and have a copy of your resume, all neatly placed in a nice pocket-folder.  This is your “leave behind”.  After you have gone they may come up with more helpful info if they have something in hand to spur their thinking.

If you manage you network contacts like business relationships or strategic partnerships, you are likely to discover far more helpful, energetic and interesting people than you thought your contacts to be.  All it takes is a little “direction”.  Again, most people like to help others, they just don't always know how. Tell them how and with that, you can continue to tap your network as often as you like, because you make it easy for them to help!

Hope this helps!


Rob Taub of ResumePro PLUS and the
Job Search Corner

Sunday, September 20

Bullied On-the-Job…How Do I Fight Back?

September 18, 2009 by sparktalk

Dear Experts,

I see workplace bullying as an increasing trend…especially, since it happened to me.

It happened at my previous job with my supervisor. She would humiliate me and degrade me, while upper management did nothing. I ended up getting laid off when cuts were made. What can one do to protect themselves from this?

September 20, 2009
Response by Rob Taub

You cannot easily protect yourself from being bullied. We have nothing to do with the behavior directed towards us, only the behavior we return. If someone in the workplace is out to harm you with words or action, they do so out of ignorance and you have no control over his or her ignorance. Confrontation or public condemnation may make matters worse. It can get quite messy. When it happens to you, still, there are things you can do!

On Bullying

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’re working for a boss who is very, very tough and extremely demanding to a point where h/she overwhelms you, or a bully who uses his power to hurt or take advantage of others who are not in a position to protect themselves. There are those in authority who may closely watch others with the sole objective of exposing errors and correcting them. We know this as constructive criticism, Sometimes the intensity with which they act can be interpreted as bullying, although that is not their intent. Too, there are those who criticize in others the things that are in fault in their own nature; sometimes for the purpose of improving themselves. But in the extreme, criticizing can degenerate to blaming and judging then to condemning, hurting and dragging someone down – destructive criticism, school yard bullying. How do you fight back? The only way is to throttle it when begins! “How” is the real question. The good news in any case is victims of bullies can ultimately take action to affect the relationship and extricate themselves.

Action and Consequence:

  • You can confront your boss who is bullying you ….. But it can also cost you your job.
  • Band with others ….. But if you are a lone victim you now may have more to deal with than just your bully.
  • You can tolerate it as if you are unaffected….. But this only validates the bully - you are agreeing to accept the abuse. More of the same only leads to more of the same.
  • Endure each encounter. Don’t argue and end it as quickly as you can….. But it takes two to tango. The bully is apt to increase the bad acts and behavior to draw you in further.
  • If there is an HR department, find someone with whom you can speak; if not, someone in authority….. Unless this is an aberration they are already aware of it. There may be some sanctioning and a short respite, but it may also continue.
  • Go on record (in writing) that you have been bullied and harassed. Protect yourself from what might be if it continues….. But you may have also a created your “scarlet letter” that can follow in your search for the next position if and when it come to that.

I once heard said that many physical ills can be cured with the right diet. Many mental disorders can be fixed with the right thinking. Therefore it seems logical to me that harmony in a relationship (alleviating the bullying) can be achieved by ‘right acting’; so don’t despair just yet. The bottom line is that you have to behave differently – “right acting” – in order to change the behavior and ultimately break the pattern. Changing your behavior and that of others is not a “quick fix”. It takes study, planning and application over time.

On Breaking the Pattern

The first step is to understand the bully’s viewpoint/perspective. It takes an open mind and a big heart, a VERY big heart, to view a situation through another’s eyes when h/she is you boss and wants to cause you hurt. Nonetheless, this is where you begin. Instead of an eye for an eye, we forge ahead and try to exchange a good deed for a bad one. Understanding, helping, forgiving, sympathy, patience…. these are all good deeds. You can understand why this takes a very big heart, yes? To understand a bully’s perspective, you need to first analyze the circumstances of your situation:

  • What brought on the bullying in the first place?
  • Was it “bullying” when the behavior first began?
  • Was there a precipitating event in the company that may have brought on the first encounter?
  • Did you do something to set the stage for the bullying?
  • Are there signs that bullying may be an accepted practice in your workplace.
  • What action or behavior direct, indirect or inadvertent might you have returned during an encounter that could have contributed to it?

Every situation is different so there’s no one question/answer or piece of advice that will work for everyone. The answers to these questions and others are a good start to understanding.

That Conversation”…

The next step is to have a private conversation. Your body language is very important here. You are engaging in a conversation with someone who’s agenda is not a rational one but emotional one, and as such feeds on weakness, fear and despair. Acting submissive or apologetic just throws fuel on the fire. You may not be able to control what your boss might do but you can control what you do. Focus on what is, and not what might be and keep it short and concise. It can be as simple as this:

  • Explain in fewer than 30 seconds how you feel
  • Suggest that there may be a misunderstanding and you would like to correct it, and
  • Ask for advice on how you might improve the relationship

The Short-list of Options

1) Band together with others and make a case against the bully.

2) Take it to HR or in the case with there is no HR department, to “higher-ups” to either sanction or remove the bully.

3) Quit at the first sign you’re being victimized.

4) Have “that conversation".

5) Tolerate it as long as it takes you to get prepared to leave the company.

In sum, we understand that there may not always be others with whom you can (1) band, and (2) complaining to HR or other may only stoke the fire for in the end you still have to deal with the intrinsic behavior of an irrational and emotional mind; so, I’m inclined to auto-nix Number 2, wouldn’t (3) quit just yet. Have (4) “that conversation”. If that doesn’t work, make haste with Number 5!

Hope this helps!


Rob of RésuméPro PLUS and the
Job Search Corner: JobSearchingwithRob

Wednesday, September 16

Is My Personality Killing My Chances?

If you feel that your enthusiasm and focus on being the best you can be, either in an interview or on the job, may be working against you, you may want to rein in your enthusiasm - moderate the intensity to some degree, but more often than not, it is a matter of developing good communication sense.

High Self-expectation + Tenacity ≠ Arrogance.
On the other hand, ‘high self-expectation + tenacity’ minus a well-developed ‘communication sense’ might.

"Communication skills" and "communication sense" are not the same. Good communication skills is the foundation, underpinnings, for developing communication sense, just like knowing the functions of the pieces on the Chess board is ultimately necessary for executing strategy. Pieces don’t win the match, how you manage them does; and perhaps that's all you need - a better strategy for managing your communications or Sound Communication Sense.

Here are some tips to help:

1. Truism: You create a more meaningful connection by becoming interested in others than by first trying to interest others in you.

2. Don’t oversell yourself: Talking to much is perceived as over-selling. Focus and listen and show the interviewer that h/she matters.

3. “Two ears, one mouth blah, blah, blah…”

4. Don’t bury your listener with incidentals and unnecessary details of a situation. When showcasing your value if it is not relevant to a result, drop it!

5. Use simple language when talking with others. Don’t make your listeners plow through jargon. If they recognize it they’ll be turned-off; if they don’t they’ll take out a book and read.

6. Use brief anecdotes to communicate your value and strengths; keep each under 90 seconds and invite interviewer questions. (People will remember your anecdotal stories more than a litany of duties and responsibilities).

7. Don’t rush. Stop and wait to see if there are questions after your response.

8. Choose your words carefully. Mark Twain once said, “The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightening and lightening bug".

I will make 3 final suggestions:

1. Set up "informational interviews" with knowledgeable and/or influential people with the specific intention of gaining job information. Informational interviews are also great low-risk practice grounds for developing your communication sense.

2. Seek out “referrals” which results in less stressful interviews for all parties. When you are referred you enter the interview “pre-sold” to some degree and thus less burdened.

3. Finally, t
arget "spot opportunities". Spot opportunities are typically unadvertised, unpublicized opportunities that are triggered by some activity or event in the business community: Plant openings; new business developments, diversification or product introductions; mergers, acquisitions, divestitures; IPO’s, LBO’s, etc.

Informational interviews, referrals & spot opportunities can all result in other networking opportunities, leads to jobs or actual openings that you can get to before of the crowd; and always a more comfortable meeting when you arrive, but only if you have sound communication sense.

Hope this helps!


Rob Taub

of RésuméPro PLUS

Wednesday, September 9

10 Signs Job is Dead-end

OR … Top 10 Reasons to Run For The Door!

Number 10: The position for which you are interviewing is vacant. Well run companies don’t create vacancies. Before letting someone go or sensing if someone wants to go, they will be ready with a replacement

Number 9: When asked how the company measures its success in the market, the Interviewer offered a self-constructed analysis based purely on unclear assumption, meaning … he was making it up!

Number 8: Interviewer could offer only vague generalizations about where the company would like to be, concluding with “hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. The correct thinking: Better improve it before someone else does.

Number 7: When you bring up Internet Marketing or SEO his or her eyes start to close

Number 6: When asked who they feel are their main competitors, you’re fed you the old unsubstantiated line, we don’t have any

Number 5: When you ask how the position has changed over the years the response is “it hasn’t”

Number 4: When you ask the interviewer to tell you something about the particulars of the job you hear “very steady work; lots of job security”. In other words, you’re not going anywhere from here!

Number 3: When you ask if the Interviewer has any tips before you leave and he or she says, “Just make sure you have some fun out there”

The Number 2 reason you know you are interviewing for a dead-end job: When you ask the interviewer, your would-be boss, how long he or she has been in their job and you hear “since the company started”


When asked if happy with where the company is today, he or she replies “Hey, it pays the bill at the Club and keeps the kids in tennis lessons!”

Hope this helps!


Rob Taub

Tuesday, September 8

Are Career Experts Just Feeding You A Lot Of Rubbish?

Someone asked recently, "Are career experts full of it?" this was my answer: I can only speak for one – me; but YES! Absolutely! That is of course if “it” refers to substance as in a body of knowledge and not substance (eh-hem) as in matter.

Although I can only write as one Career Expert, I am sure there are others like me who will say “we are full of it”. For starters, when advising an individual, the “Positioning” as I like to refer to “it” is where I begin. Positioning is identifying a job or career focus. This covers not only what one’s talents, background and qualifications are, but the job role that should fit them best, the field or industry, and target employers–the specific "customer" for his/her talents, experience etc. Positioning is determined by probing interests, credentials, background, personal attributes, success factors, and values too. “It” is done through the use of various profile systems, any number of assessment tools… and a great deal of discussion.

There is also the “Marketing”. “It” consists of advertising tools - the written and verbal communications conduits that will be used to promote, as we say in marketing, your value and benefit to an employer. Some examples of “it” may include the development of a resume, letter, resume/letter combo, marketing letter, executive bio/summary, value-proposition and lots more.

Finally, there is “Exposure” to the marketplace. “It” may include various marketing channels (i.e. events, job fairs, online portholes, public forums, associations…) and multiple strategies (i.e. networking, targeted mail, referral marketing, database reports, setting up job alerts, spot opportunities, writing articles, volunteerism …) all coordinated to gain maximum exposure. The end-game is the right position, with the right organization; and “it” happens sooner than later, with the least amount of pain involved. So, Yup … speaking for myself, perhaps some others, “I really am full of it!”

Hope this helps!




Thursday, September 3

Job Satisfaction

[Having discovered the link in this Post from Thursday Sep 3 was broken , I have posted it again with a working link so you can read it in its entirety...here it is]

A friend once said, “If I knew that job satisfaction was so elusive, I wouldn’t have spent half my life looking for it.” I asked him to define what job satisfaction for him would be and he responded “I’ll know when I find it.”

By Rob Taub

Job satisfaction for some stems from the challenges in the job or a sense of purpose while for others it's more extrinsic and may be measured by the money they make. For others it may come from the learning that takes place or from knowing that their work matters. For some, simply having a job to go to everyday in order to have "other" things in life is fine, and it's from accepting that they can derive their satisfaction. Read on... http://bit.ly/3diKGM

Hope this helps!



Gotta Love That Rejection

How to use rejection to improve your job search.

Clearly, there are many more rejections in a professional job search than there are offers. And there should be. After all, if you are not getting rejections than you are not seeing many opportunities. Read the story »

CAREEREALISM: Because EVERY Job is Temporary! Career advice, job search news and perspective. Job seekers get cutting-edge career, job search, and personal branding advice to help them advance their professional lives. Focus on work-life balance and generational issues as well as expert resources and tools for career advancement. ...


Wednesday, September 2

Hey! You Gotta Problem?

First post in my series of Tough Interview Scenarios
by Rob Taub

From blatant … “Greatest weakness”; “weakest attribute”; “most significant failure” … to soft … “what might your previous employer say …?” … even softer …“you certainly seem to have a lot of strengths, but we understand no one is perfect…” The question will come one way or another, everyone knows it, yet still befuddled by it.

There have been many Rules of Thumb developed over the years, from making light of the question with an answer like “Pizza!” (Do not pass go; do not expect a job here) to true confessions, putting a cloud over everyone, to developing a response that actually demonstrates a strength: “I tend to be a workaholic” or “perfectionist” (Yuk!) In principle, Rules of Thumb are meant to have very broad application such as when in doubt, get out. Great advice if you are in the middle of an intersection and the light changes. Would it apply in the final seconds of a game, you’re down 3 points and have the ball? What, you’re going to walk off the floor? I don’t think so. I find many R.O.T. (pun intended) to be off the mark and misleading. What may be good for one may not be for another. That is not to say there are no rules that can be applied; there are. Just choose your medicine carefully.

“What’s your greatest weakness” is your opportunity to shine. One way is to demonstrate that you are a positive person by nature. Everyone likes a person with a positive nature, right? Remember you are in the interview to make yourself desirable for hiring, so you might say, “I rarely sit there and think of myself in those terms, nevertheless, I do want to respond to your question” or something on those lines. Notice by the way I did not say “I rarely sit there and think of my weaknesses”. Okay, I take it back. Here’s a rule of thumb that always applies: Do not use or repeat negative terms, even if the interviewer throws it out there.

Here are three other rules I suggest you do follow:

No Superlatives! Keep it singular. Superlatives such as “weakest” or “worst” or “biggest” indicate the greatest degree of whatever is it describing. “Worst weakness” is the weakness of the highest degree implying there are other weaknesses of varying degrees but weaknesses nonetheless. That begs the question “what are some others?” Likewise, “need most to improve” implies there are others areas for improvement. In any case, try this as an alternative: “If I had to come up with one…” (No negatives; no multiples)

No Absolutes! The absolute, as in “my weakness is…” states that the weakness exists unconditionally: Utterly fixed and not likely to change. WOW! Wouldn’t it be better to be a little less restrictive, something more conditional like “it could be that I am…” Conditional responses suggest you yourself are not completely convinced of it. This type of response also accomplishes what the bungling technique of using a “strength” to describe a weakness consistently fails to achieve – that your “weakness” may not be a weakness after all.

Keep it real! Your “weakness” should be one that is subjective – of your person. Humanize it! “If I had to come up with one (singular) it might be (non-absolute) somewhat (qualifier) of a lack of internal patience (human)”. Continuing … “I seem (unconvinced) to have strong tendencies to expect the same from others that I do from myself (human). Not just in terms of results – I’m smart enough to realize that not everyone has the same level of skill, abilities and education (real) ... I do however, expect others to give their best effort, and if that’s not there, then yes, that might (conditional) bother me to some degree” (Ah! … “bother me to some degree” … human, non-absolute, qualifier, and conditional … Don’t you just love it!) Another tact, similarly keeping it real, could be an incident resultant of some area where improvement was needed (potential weakness) that turned out to be a learning experience and later grew into a personal asset, thus giving you, once more, an opportunity to showcase strength.

Do your homework. Think critically and be honest with yourself. Ask friends or colleagues the same: Critically and honestly, what they think may be your one weakness. When you have the answer, internalize it. In other words, take it to heart. If you don’t, your response may come across like a sound bite, no matter how long and hard you practice sounding unpracticed. When you speak from the heart, you won’t sound “rehearsed”, you will sound “aware” – conscious of yourself, a characteristic we all value.

Hope this helps!


Look for the next posting in my series of Tough Interview Scenarios:

It’s the 3rd interview. Everything about the job has been discussed. “We would like to offer you the position; it pays $xx per year.” How will you respond?