The Long, Long Search

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Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

A little over 8 years ago, I walked through the doors of WunderLand. Back then, WunderLand was a hungry, one-and-a-half year old start-up with a hand-crafted team of folks whose mission was simple yet fierce: provide the service of staffing in the manner of how we’d like to be treated, ourselves, as individuals. WunderLand’s green and white cheery logo in their temporary office space breathed ambition alongside the founding team’s mighty desire to hold true to treating others how we want to be treated. The afternoon of my interview I wanted to just set my bag down and start working: I accepted the job immediately. When you find the right role you simply feel it and it’s infectious across both sides. I speak with many people who are equally eager to dig in and get settled but despite today’s booming staffing climate, they simply can’t find a job.

Where Are All the Jobs?

Despite the low unemployment rate and all the boisterous chatter of how great the job market is, senior through executive-level candidates call me routinely feeling stuck in an extended search, struggling to find the right next job. These folks are frustrated hearing how wonderful the economy is yet the right opportunity seems impossible to find. They apply to numerous job postings but they never hear back. They get wrapped in a multi-week interviewing cycle that ends up with a corporate restructure bringing them back to Square One. They fall into a nebulous black hole. When these candidates finally do hear back for a role they applied to, the position isn’t as exciting or the pay is completely off base. Things aren’t matching up and they are quickly losing patience.

Patience and Trust

You are not the only one going through this. Searches are lasting a long time and there are more people stuck than you think. Patience and trust are two very important hallmarks to persevere through an extended job search.

As we progress along our path, our careers and job searches become more complicated. Our household budgets may increase while our need for flexibility grows…our careers become more robust and high-level. There simply are fewer higher-level roles making these desirable jobs more in demand which leads to a longer, more complicated search. Extended searches are emotionally taxing so here are some tips to maintain your positivity:

  • Define your individual contributions. How have you positively impacted an organization’s bottom line? What were the numbers and analytics behind your work? What makes you unique? Jot down your successes on notes and stick them all around your office…surrounding yourself with Post-Its of your achievements and successes will help keep you focused on your unique and valuable qualities during an isolating search.
  • Take stock of your personal evolution. Think about who you’ve become during your tenure and try to sort out what really matters to you right now. We can get stuck in a career track that can suddenly, and sometimes without warning, cause us to pause and take a look at winging it and going in a different direction. Yes it’s scary to look toward that unknown but staring into that void can open up amazing possibilities.
  • Stay in communication. Get out and meet people, call your connections to talk, keep in communication.
  • Trust yourself. The right role does come along. It will be scary and it will be frustrating when you see or read about others’ career successes while you feel stuck but keep focused on what you and you alone offer.

This year marks my 15th year within the recruiting and staffing industry. These years have afford me the great honor of helping companies and individuals through complex hiring and career decisions. It’s impossible to not be inspired by those who take the jump and go in a new path—or push through a grinding search to find just the right role. The best guiding lesson I’ve learned during these 15 years is the insight to see that the right person lands the right job. Allow yourself patience and trust. Meanwhile, I’m always here to help.

You Have the Courage

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Photo by Gabriela Palai from Pexels

I’m at the quarter-mark in reaching my goal to swing through the trees this summer with my girls. Making time to train and work out seemed impossible a few weeks ago–now, I can’t imagine not making the time to focus. I am carving the time for me and my goal,  one rep at a time.

Sure, doubt constantly creeps into my mind warning me that the trees will be too far apart or the rope will be too high for me to reach. Who do I think I am, now, to start this process? I shush the voice and instead reflect on every candidate I’ve worked with and watched traverse their own Career Playing Field. The folks who landed the raise, coveted title, and growth they deserved–they achieved those goals by defying the negative voice. They focused and took a jump. They left comfortable, tenured jobs for a risk. They stayed up late and plodded through the intimidation of updating a resume. They swore at their computer as they forced themselves to grind through coding their own website.

So each week I step forward toward my own goal. To every person who goes out on a limb applying for that next level job, who sits in a waiting room waiting for the interview to begin, and then chooses to accept the next thing, cheers to taking ownership and control.

Next steps can be scary but they all start the same. One action at a time. Plan a date, set your calendar, and watch how awesome you are at carving your new path. Believe in your ideas–you have the courage to make those ideas your reality.

Staying Focused

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The start of the New Year is exciting–it’s a fresh start, a blank calendar, a new page. For some people it’s hitting the gym. I am part of this group of people–the New Year, New Work Out folk. Santa brought our two girls a backyard obstacle course and I’m committing myself to being able to scale the rope that will be hanging in between our two very old and (hopefully) very sturdy maple trees. When I watched our girls unwrap that gift I could see their minds spinning, imagining themselves propelling across the trees to make it to the other side. In that moment I knew for sure that I didn’t want to be watching from the ground, looking up, and wondering how it felt to be suspended by your own strength. So, I’m going to work to get myself across those trees.

Some of us may be facing obstacles: a job that doesn’t fit right, unemployment checks not covering the mortgage, or feeling stuck and not knowing how to take a next step. While you watch your LinkedIn Feed ripe with So-and-So’s New Opportunity it’s important to stay focused on who you are and what you contribute to the world around you so that you can stay focused on your next step. Look beyond the job to the ways that you impact your community, friendships, and family. Make a list of these contributions and tuck that list away in a place that you carry with you every day. Becoming intimately familiar with your impact on the world will carry you through uncertainty.

Stick with your plan–even if you are not quite sure what that plan is. Find a goal that resonates with you inside or outside of work and set a small plan to achieve it. I’ll report back at the end of August to see if my plan carried me through the trees. Let’s rally each other to help us achieve what we’ve each set forth…professionally and personally. Here’s to a fantastic year.

AMA Career Smart

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Chicago’s American Marketing Association continuously offers high quality, valuable networking and enriching events for both job seekers and hiring managers within the marketing space. Their Career Smart events are no exception! I’m excited to be speaking at their upcoming Career Smart event taking place this Thursday, November 15.

2018’s job market is super competitive for both job seekers and hiring manager searchers. Whether you’re hiring for critical positions in the midst of the lowest unemployment yet–or thinking of launching a job search of your own, come join me in learning about effective tips, helpful trends, and valuable resources to help you stand out. I’ll be speaking with Jess Moyer, SVP of Marketing and Operations at Gibraltar Business Capital. Jess brings a fantastic career leading marketing initiatives from both large-scale organizations and mid-sized companies in the financial sector.

The event is at the IIT Stuart School of Business at 565 W. Adams on Thursday, November 15, starting at 5:30 PM. Members of the AMA can register for free and there is a charge of $50 for non-members. I’d love to see you there! More details can be found on the AMA Career Smart website.

Job Search FOMO

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What if you’re happy in your current job? You are satisfied with your pay…you make enough to cover your essentials, sock away for tomorrow, and even sign up the kiddos for park district activities. Heck, you even have the flexibility to coach soccer. You know the players on your team, you have seniority, and you’re quite, well, comfortable…but the rumbling freight train of today’s stellar job market shouts, “It’s a candidate’s job market!” “These are the highest salaries we’ve ever seen!” “It’s the lowest unemployment rate, in, like FOREVER!” If you’re not part of this action you may, well, feel like you’re missing out.

Reading the constant stream of New Job Alerts on LinkedIn can also really make you feel like you’re the jokester for not bailing from your great gig. You’re not rapidly applying for jobs but you may chat with a recruiter from time to time. You may entertain an interview for something that sounds really enticing but the next morning you realize you’ve got it pretty good so you stay put. You’re happy…but you feel a tug and are unsure if staying put is silly when there’s all this great opportunity out there. Is it OK to be OK in your role?

We hope–especially those of us who make our living in the staffing industry–that unemployment will forever stay as low as it is today, in October of 2018. It is thrilling to see so many folks gainfully employed while those on the market actually have roles to choose from…but will this high last forever?

Refer back to your list of priorities and be assured that the role you are in meets what you need to feel satisfied. Comparison is the thief of joy–revel in where you landed yourself in your career and allow yourself to feel satisfied in the path that you walked. When it’s time for you to take your next step, you’ll know because your list of priorities will shift, change, or flow–and when they do, I’ll be right here to help.

Be 35% Better

Starting a new job typically brings a monetary increase–what if you applied that money to personal growth?

alone-back-view-blonde-247195You got the job. The one you applied for on a whim at midnight after you reached your breaking point. Well, they called you back. And you went to three onsite interviews. And you got the job. Along with that job came a whopping 35% raise. That job is paying you 35% more than you were making in your current job. Let that sink in for a moment and then think about how you can be 35% better as a person when you walk through those new doors.

Leaving a job to start another gives you the chance to redefine yourself. Negotiating that pay bump isn’t just about adding to your take-home pay. Think about translating that bump into creating a more enhanced version of you.

A Crafted Life

Starting a new job, at a new company, means more than swapping out one Keurig for another. You’re embarking on meeting a whole batch of new people, navigating an entirely new commute, and figuring out the Office Politics Dance. There’s a reason that folks who jump to new jobs typically net an increase—it’s to help pad the stress and offer enticement to wandering into new territory.  Starting a new role is your chance to jumpstart a new habit, pick up a new tool, or modernize your appearance. People you worked with for five, six, or seven years knew you. Your predictable one-liners were always good for a groan at lunchtime. They knew your commuting backpack, your schedule, your routine. Now is your moment to choose to craft a New You. Instead of sitting at your desk every day glued to CNN while scarfing down lunch you can be the one making healthy choices that truly benefit you in the long run, like running off to the gym or going for a walk.  What an opportunity! Visualize a new way to present yourself to the world. Your habits, image, conversational ability, stress management tactics—pick an area and give yourself the gift of reflection to make yourself that much better.

Don’t stress about piling up a mound of debt registering for costly certification programs to help you realize your reinvention. Plenty of free options exist including  downloading thought-provoking podcasts that present new, timely perspectives. Checking out a book from the library on a current trend or new communications style is another way to flex your transition muscles.

A day, week, or short span of time is enough to download a new Podcast, pursue many of the fabulous, inspiring TED Talks,  or to visit Lynda.com to peruse numerous courses on business leadership, communications, and tools. Shifting your focus to enhance your skills instills a strong sense of accomplishment and confidence as you bust into a new office wondering who do I sit next to at lunch?

Reinvention is Free(ing)

Whether your overhaul is cosmetic, spiritual, or toolbox -oriented, you can control its cost and financial output. Maybe you were in your last role for over ten years—your choice of outfits and self-care was on auto-dial as you knew all of your colleagues and felt very comfortable in your decade-old desk and office environment. However, breaking out of that mold is a great time to yank open your closet doors and pitch the outfits you hated or the pants that really never were quite the right length. Get things tailored, shop sales, pitch items that didn’t work and come up with your unified closet that puts your best foot forward. You don’t have to run out and drop a ton of cash to realize your modernized outward presentation. Tossing outdated pieces and tailoring what you already have are great ways to modernize without breaking the budget.

Revel in YOU

Finally, look your next transition squarely in the eye with confidence. Yes, this new role may seem (several) ladder steps above your comfort zone. Yes, this new commute weaves you down unchartered highway lanes. But you got the job! An entire panel of experts brought you in and in today’s uber-selective job market that is amazing! Revel in the knowledge that YOU ARE THE ONE THEY SELECTED and face this new experience with confidence.

Take a few moments to remember why the company hired you. Jot down those reasons in a place you can quickly visit when you feel challenged or doubt that you have what it takes to be 35% better. You are who the company needs. This is the right job for you—you are exactly where you are supposed to be. And, you’ve got a new pair of boots to, well, boot!

WunderLand is always here to help you navigate this exciting—and daunting time of transitioning to a new role. And I’m here to help you as you build up your team, too once you get situated! Good Luck!

 

 

Sharon’s List: Top 5 Quiet (Enough) Places in The Loop

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Nothing’s more awkward than scrambling to find a quiet (enough) spot to conduct a phone interview. Duck into a Starbucks and you’ll compete with the baristas’ Dave Matthew’s playlist. Dodge into a hallway and sure enough, your boss will end up strolling right past. Working in the ‘burbs may afford you the luxury to retreat to your car cocoon–but if you work downtown it’s tricky to find a quiet place to chat. Well I’m here with the rescue–check out my list of top 5 places to have a phone interview in Chicago’s Loop!