Monday, September 10, 2007

Recommit to what you want

It's easy to let exhaustion and complacency derail your job hunt.

It took me three years of on-again, off-again work to leave newspapers and embark on a new career. I would go through cycles of enthusiasm about what I could do next -- start a pet-sitting business! start a personal-shopper business! freelance as a writer and editor! move somewhere new and find another writing job! -- and do my research, only to give up when I was hit with a big assignment at work or a personal crisis. Other times, I made the deliberate decision to stick it out where I was, because the money was good (and I had bills to pay) and the devil I knew was better than what might be Out There.

Sound familiar? I've seen this happen among my friends and clients as well. It's human nature. But a successful job hunt requires commitment, dedication, determination, and hope; without those, you'll have a hard time motivating yourself to keep with it. It also doesn't hurt to have a catalyst or a reminder of why you want a new job.

My job search finally took first place in my priorities when I received a new work assignment that I just couldn't stomach. It was one of those assignments that was historically given to people to help move them toward the door. I took the hint, buckled down, worked my contacts, and within two months received an offer that would teach me a new field (advertising) and give me the excitement I was longing for. (I quit that job seven months later, but that's a story for another post.)

Advice for job-seekers recommends that you work your job hunt like it's a job in itself -- something you do for 20 to 40 hours a week, perhaps every day, with measurable goals. This is difficult to do when you already have a full-time job to juggle with your family life, chores, your community work, your time for yourself, etc. In the end, you need to decide what's most important RIGHT NOW. If your job hunt never makes it into that slot, maybe it's time to put your energy into making your current job the right place for you to be.

As readers of this blog have probably noticed, Make A Change Resumes has not been at the top of my priority list for some time now. I spent the summer working two jobs, six days a week, 50+ hours a week, in order to make ends meet. I was too scared to let go of the second job that brought in money I could count on, in favor of working on my business and my blog, which might not bring in any money for a while. I made excuses to myself all summer, and then over the weekend, I had my decision made for me: I was fired from my second job (in a bookstore, which paid little more than minimum wage) because my exhaustion, and my restricted work hours due to that exhaustion, were things that the store manager no longer wanted to accommodate.

Sometimes it takes an outside catalyst to help us make the changes that our hearts want us to make. I'm grateful to my managers at the newspaper for helping me out the door, and I'm grateful to the book store manager for doing what I could not bring myself to do. I liked working at the book store, but what I really wanted to be doing was blogging and working with clients on their resumes. Now I can. I am recommitting myself to Make A Change Resumes, and I'm excited about it.

Are you ready to recommit to what you want?

Monday, September 03, 2007

It's the little things that matter

Have you listened to your outgoing voice mail lately?

If it's funkier than, "Hello, you've reached X, leave a message," etc., then you might have a problem getting a job.

Kris Dunn, the HR Capitalist, has a great post that explains how your voice mail message makes a difference when he's recruiting:

If I am calling a candidate off a resume and get voice mail, I treat it like a freebie. Good energy and kind of dynamic sounding in your voice mail greeting? Cool, I'm more interested than I was when I called.

So check your voice mail message and change it if you need to. Your friends will forgive you for having an uncool message, and you'll get interviews and maybe even a job out of it. Not a bad deal.