How a job search support team can help you find work

job search support teamLooking for a job can be lonely, and you may get easily discouraged. But it’s not something you have to do entirely on your own.

You can get some help from others and improve your chances of finding employment by creating a job search support team.

What is a job search support team?

It’s pretty much exactly like it sounds. Put together a team of carefully chosen people who can support you in your efforts. Doing this can help you dramatically expand your reach and find more opportunities. In fact, the late Richard Bolles author of What Color is Your Parachute? states it is one of the four best ways to hunt for a job.

This team will be your troop, your eyes and ears on the ground as you scour the landscape for potential job opportunities. Members can support you in many ways, from hearing about job openings and connecting you to their contacts to reading your resume and critiquing your elevator pitch.

The group should have no more than 10 members – but even one or two could make a viable team – and you should choose them carefully. Make sure that they are people who would likely be willing to take the time to help you achieve your goal of finding a job. Ideally, one or more of your team members should be working at the type of job you want to do, because they will be more likely to hear about openings that are appropriate for your talents and skills.

Create an action plan

Put together an action plan, or outline of steps, focusing on how you will approach each potential member. The best way is face-to-face. Call them up and invite them for coffee, if you can afford it. If they happen to be a hiring manager, make it clear when you call that you just want guidance. You won’t ask them for a job.

When you get together be very specific about the type of work you’re looking for and why you are good at it. Ask them, “Do you know someone who might know someone who might be looking to hire a person with my experience and abilities.Having your JIST card to share with them could be very useful.

If they say “no,” ask them to let you know if they hear of any opportunities they think you would be interested in. And also ask them if it would be OK to check in with them in a month or so. Since these are people you’ve chosen because you sense they are the supportive type, they will no doubt agree.

Once you’ve assembled your team, make sure you keep a record of when you talk to each of them and what they told you. You can use a file box with index cards or a pad of paper. First write each person’s name and contact info at the top of the index card or piece of paper. Then make a list of the dates of your discussions and what you talked about. If you have a computer you can do the same thing using a Word doc or Excel spreadsheet.

You’ll also want to have a calendar, so after you talk to each person you can schedule a time to call them again a month later.

Creating a job search support team will take time and effort, so don’t be concerned about having one in place before you start your job search.  But the assistance of its members should help to provide you with extra confidence, contacts and encouragement that may make a difference.

Son of What Color is Your Parachute author Richard Bolles expands his father’s work with eParachute

eParachuteAlthough Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute, passed away more than a year ago, his book continues to be published and his work continues to be honored by his son Gary.

Bolles operates the website eparachute.com, which, like the book which inspired it, can help you learn more about yourself and what you’d like to do with your work life. You will be able to discover your strengths, explore hundreds of career paths and see how well certain careers match what you most love to do.

The site, which costs $4.95 per year to access, will take you through a series of exercises that only take a few minutes to complete. You will choose:

  • The type of people you’d like to be around if you were at a party
  • Fields you love – from building and construction and sales and marketing to geography and public safety and security and many, many others in between
  • Skills you like to use

After completing the exercises, eparachute will give you a list of featured ideas for possible types of work. You can explore each of your chosen fields, skills and people types for more work ideas.

For those leaving prison

Bolles has some advice on how to make the most of your days in prison, as far as a future job or career is concerned:

The time in prison can be well spent by doing homework on yourself – understanding your favorite skills, knowledge, and other unique things about yourself,” says Bolles. “It’s also a great time to study new topics that can be useful to you in the work you want to do when you’re back in society.”

“Of course, society isn’t always as welcoming as we’d like to those who were formerly incarcerated, so you’ll need to be really creative in your search. Doing small projects and part-time work through various online markets, like TaskRabbit and UpWork, can provide a way to do work without having to immediately find a full-time job.”

He also recommends being entrepreneurial and possibly starting your own business. That way you can build a work track record.

“But if you’ve done your homework on yourself, and you can describe your best-loved skills, including ways you’ve used them before, you’ll be in a far better position to tell a prospective employer why you can be the one to help solve their particular problems,” Bolles adds.

Those in reentry have a very special skill

It may not be easy to find a job if you have a record, but Bolles is convinced that many of those leaving jail or prison have a very useful skill.

“Especially for those who were formerly incarcerated, it’s important to know that the world of work is changing rapidly. The people who will be successful are those who are very proactive, constantly adapting to do new kinds of work. If you’ve been in prison, you know how to hustle. Put that hustle to good use in the work you do, working hard to solve problems for the people you work for and with, and you’ll do well,” Bolles says.

But before you get to that point, you still need to figure out what kind of work you’d like to do and find employment. Eparachute is one way to jump start your job search. It’s an introduction to the process of discovering what you like to do. Those who want to go one step further can take a more extensive course on Udemy.

Note: While Bolles mentioned TaskRabbit as a way to ease into the job market, TaskRabbit does require a background check. We’re not sure what types of crimes would prohibit people from working TaskRabbit gigs, however.

You may also want to check the Gigs section of Craigslist or other part-time work opportunities. Another way to work your way into employment is to register with a temp agency, many of which are ex-offender friendly.

Richard Bolles outlines What Color is Your Parachute’s key principles

Richard BollesOn his website Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, with 10 million copies sold, said that some career counselors who say they’re teaching the principles of his book are not.

In order to clarify those principles, Bolles lists the 25 key ideas of his book. And it’s worth repeating them, so that readers will have a better idea of how an effective job search can be done. Here they are in a nutshell:

  1. Sending out resumes is not the best way to find a job. In fact he says that only 1 out of 270 resumes actually results in a job.
  1. Google is the new resume. It is, because most employers use applicants’ names to search the web to see what they can discover about them. And that information may be very different than what people include in their resumes.
  1. The job-hunting system is broken. In fact there is no real job-hunting system, so many job openings are not filled effectively.
  1. There are more job vacancies than people think there are. Forget the federal government’s monthly unemployment report, says Bolles. That doesn’t tell the real story. Instead pay attention to the government’s Job Opportunities and Labor Turnover (JOLT) Monthly Report, which details the unfilled job vacancy numbers at the end of the previous month.
  1. Job hunters and employers search for each other in opposite ways.
  1. Best and worst ways to search for a job:
  • Best ways: Conducting a self inventory, joining a job club, searching for companies to target in the Yellow Pages (or whitepages.com), visiting potential employers (especially companies with 50 employees or fewer) and asking for job leads from all of your contacts.
  • Worst ways: Searching internet job postings, sending out resumes and going to government employment agencies.
  1. Conducting a self-inventory, in which you really discover what type of work you are suitable for and learn more about yourself, is more effective than researching the job-market.
  1. Tests like the Myers-Briggs are not an effective way to discover the job that might be right for you.
  1. It is not just skills that matter but the skills that you love to use the most. These show your passion.
  1. Rather than trying to shape yourself to “fit” a certain job, you should look for a job that will “fit” you.
  1. Look at a job hunt as a career change. Try breaking down past jobs into building blocks and rearranging them to create a similar job or an entirely new one.
  1. Answer what? where? and how? What are the skills you like to use, where would you like to use them and how do you discover the titles of jobs that use these skills. You must also determine the type of places that offer these jobs and the name of the hiring managers in those places.
  1. Using Bolles’ prioritizing grid offers job seekers a chance to prioritize such assets as skills, experience and knowledge.
  1. Avoid the human resources department if at all possible. Its work is to eliminate applicants. Contact the manager in the department you’re interested in working in instead.
  1. Make a list of the negative working conditions you’ve experienced in the past and pair them with their opposites. Rank these to find the type of conditions that will provide a suitable workplace.
  1. Conduct your own:
  • Interviews with people who share common interests with you to practice interviewing.
  • Informational interviewing to learn more about the type of work you might be interested in.
  • Interviewing for hire – the real deal in which you’re interviewing  employers to see if there might be a match between you and them.
  1. Contact any employer that interests you, even if they may not have any job openings.
  1. Small companies – those with less than 100 employees – are the best to approach.
  1. The best alternative to a resume is to get in touch with an employer directly – through a mutual contact if possible.
  1. There are only five things hiring managers are really concerned about when they interview you:
  • Why are you here?
  • What can you do for us?
  • What kind of person are you?
  • What distinguishes you from other applicants?
  • Can we afford to hire you?
  1. In an interview for hire, pay attention to the time and don’t talk more than half the time. Also limit answers to questions to no more than two minutes.
  1. If at the conclusion of the interview you decide that you’d like to work there, ask for the job.
  1. Always send a thank-you note to everyone you talked to during the interview.
  1. It’s all about the numbers. Every “no” you hear brings you closer to the eventual “yes.”
  1. Always have alternatives in terms of places to target and techniques to use.

 

Ten Reasons why you should search for a job in December

Job Hunt jpg Cover for Blog (2)While it may seem counter-intuitive, looking for a job during the holidays is actually a great idea. Employers don’t stop hiring during December. In fact, statistics show that it is a time that many hiring managers spend searching for staff in order to be ready for the New Year. And many job seekers take a break during the final weeks of the year, so there may be less competition.

So polish up your resume, upgrade your list of companies to contact, and pick up the phone. As we recommend on our website and in our book, Jails to Jobs: Seven Steps to Becoming Employed, calling hiring managers and talking to them either by phone or in person, is the best way to find a job. You can also take advantage of all the parties you attend to network and collect contacts that might be able to help you in your efforts.

But back to December. We’re not the only ones who think that this is one of the best months to search for a job. Check out an excellent ebook, “New-Year-New-Job,” edited by Susan P. Joyce, president of NETability, Inc., and Meg Guiseppi, CEO of Executive Resume Writer.

It includes 101+ tips to help you conduct a productive end-of-year job search from the likes of Richard Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute, and 26 other job search experts.

Here are what we consider their top 10 tips, which have been rewritten, condensed and consolidated, with a few of our own ideas thrown in as well.

Top 10 holiday job search tips

  1. Keep in mind that many hiring managers are scrambling to fill positions by the end of the year, so they don’t lose the budget they have for those jobs.
  2. Also be aware that people tend to be more relaxed during December and may be more available and receptive to phone calls.
  3. Attend as many holiday parties as possible, whether they are professional affairs, or put on by the local chamber of commerce or a friend or relative. You never know who might show up at one of these events, so talk to as many people as possible, letting them know what type of position you are looking for and even some of the companies you are interested in possibly working for.
  4. Develop what one expert calls a “magic week” strategy, meaning the week between Christmas and New Years, when many executive assistants and other gatekeepers take vacation, and middle managers are often in charge. Take advantage of this situation by calling those people in the companies you are interested in.
  5. Let people who you exchange gifts with know that you would like something to help you in your job search, whether a particular book or two, a shirt or tie to wear to interviews, or even help with creating your resume or JIST card.
  6. Send holiday greeting cards to hiring managers you have interviewed with, contacts you’ve made through networking and just about everyone who has helped you in your job search. You may want to send New Year’s cards that will arrive after the holiday rush and receive more attention.
  7. Consider a holiday season temp job. Many employers, especially those in retail and shipping, hire extra employees during the holiday season. You can earn a bit of money and test out new opportunities.
  8. Encourage and assist other people who are also on the path to employment. It will not only help them but make you feel better as well.
  9. Volunteer during the holiday season, whether it’s serving meals at a homeless shelter, helping with a fundraising event or delivering presents to families in need. You will meet wonderful people, have new experiences, get out of the house and make a difference in the lives of others. Keep in mind that no matter how little you have, there are others who have less.
  10. Practice gratitude. Think of all the things you are grateful for, all the people who helped you on your job search this year and the progress you’ve made so far. It will boost your spirits and help you appreciate the holiday season even more.

Please contact us if you’ve tried any of these tips. We’d love to hear which ones worked for you.

We wish all of our readers a happy holiday season and success in their job search.