When do you give your notice?

Are you interviewing?  Are you anticipating an offer?  The time it takes to receive an offer letter after a series of interviews can seem like an eternity.  And the anticipation can be excruciating.

Your potential future manager may have told you “I want you” or “We’ll get an offer to you” or some other significant buying sign.  That’s great.  But be sure not to jump the gun.  Now is not the time to be so anxious you potentially derail the prospect.  Continue to manage your job search process to the end.

Understand there is still a process to complete.  That process can take time.  Offers can take a few days to go through the approval process.  At some point you will need to go through a drug and background check.  Do not be so anxious that you rush to give notice to your current employer at least until you have a written offer from your new company.  I have seen it several times through the years that a candidate is told an offer’s coming and then immediately give their notice only to learn later there will be no offer coming.  Now they have no job or are forced to ask for their old job back. That is a situation no one wants to be in.

The business climate within a company can change quickly.  What if your offer isn’t ultimately approved?  What if their situation changes and they lose the spot?  What if an internal candidate applies at the last minute?

Until you have an offer in your hand I strongly suggest you refrain from giving your notice.  Many people choose to not give their notice until their background checks are completed.  One decision you get to make through the entire job-search process is when you give your notice.  As freeing, gratifying or significant as it may be, don’t be too quick to do it and lose an opportunity.

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Thought for the day: Day 2

What are five of my strengths?

This one could be a bit tough.  But grab your sheet from yesterday and add this to the list.  Again, don’t stop at five if you can help it.

Thought for the day . . .

Years ago I started the practice of writing motivational quotes on a note card and carrying the card with me.  Several times throughout the day I would take out the card and read it.  That practice kept me focused.  When I started to feel down or was getting knocked off track I would pull out the card and reflect on it.  The topics of the cards ranged widely.  That’s what made it so fun and easy to do.

I want to share this daily practice with you.  Over the next sixty days I will be posting a motivation.  While they won’t be listed in a specific order, they will fall roughly into the following categories:

1) Taking Stock 2) Facing Your Fears 3) Being Courageous/Taking Risks 4) Taking Action.

My desire with this daily exercise is that you will reflect on the words and what they mean to you.  If a particular quote strikes you and you want to comment, please do.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  If the quote makes you think about something new or about something in a different way, that’s great.

The quotes come from a variety of places.  Many are from books I’ve read, some are from famous people, some are from speakers at conferences I have attended through the years.  When I know the source, I will cite it.

See you tomorrow.

Confront the obstacles

“Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.  And you don’t do that by sitting around.” – Katherine Hepburn

Conducting a job search is hard.  Candidates face a multitude of issues and obstacles that make it more difficult.  There are gaps in employment, age bias (whether real or perceived), too much experience, too little experience, not the right kind of experience, you live too far away, salary disparity.  All of these issues (and many more) are significant obstacles to finding your next opportunity.

I believe the first step in beginning to confront, then overcome, these issues is to control the things you can control.  No sense wasting your precious resources (time, energy, mental outlook and attitude) on things you have no hope of impacting.  Instead, put your valuable resources to work for you.

Did you have an in-person interview with a company and you have not received feedback?

Did you get the feeling you are being ignored or ruled out because of your age?

Did they tell you that you don’t have the right industry experience?

Did they tell you anything at all?

Don’t wait around.  Follow up professionally once a week for three or four weeks and move on.

The best way to overcome all of these obstacles is to take Katherine’s advice and not sit around.  Action.  It’s the cure you’re looking for.

Focus your energy and talents on the next opportunity.  Focus your energy on making new contacts each week no matter where they are located or what industry they are in.  Focus your energy on sharpening your interviewing skills.  Focus your energy on learning new skills.  Focus your energy on how you will overcome the interviewer’s objection of your lack of or too much experience.  Focus your energy on uncovering new and better opportunities.  Focus your energy on what it is going to feel like when you get the offer of your dreams.  Focus your energy on all the blessings in your life.  There are infinitely more than you are aware.  Focus your energy in thoughtful, deliberate, daily prayer because you know everything begins and ends with Him.  Focus on those things and your attitude will take care of itself.

Happy hunting!

A heart filled with gratitude….

I have had a remarkable year.  As it winds down I can’t help but continue to feel incredibly blessed and humbled for all that I have.  And today, as I prepare to spend the day with my extended family and eat an incredible meal, I want to share a few thoughts with you.   Thank you so much for being a part of my life and helping me on my journey.

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” – Marianne Williamson

“Be on the lookout for mercies.  The more we look for them, the more of them we will see…Better to lose count while naming your blessings than to lose your blessings to counting your troubles.” – Maltbie D. Babcock

“Every dog has its day, but it’s not every dog that knows when he’s having it.” – Winifred Gordon

“Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.” – Elizabeth Aquith Bibesco

“Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do which must be done, whether you like it or not.” – Charles Kingsley

“When I first open my eyes upon the morning meadows and look out upon the beautiful world I thank God I am alive.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Most of my major disappointments have turned out to be blessings in disguise.  So whenever anything bad does happen to me I kind of sit back and feel, well, if I give this enough time it will turn out that this was good, so I shan’t worry about it too much.” – William Gaines

“You will never be the person you can be if pressure, tension and discipline are taken out of your life.” – Dr. James G. Bilkey

“God brings men into deep waters not to drown them but to cleanse them.” – Aughey

“Failure changes for the better, success for the worse.” – Marcus Annaeus Seneca

“Too many people miss the silver lining because they are expecting gold.” – Maurice Setter

“Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.” – Henry Van Dyke

“Thank God for dirty dishes; they have a tale to tell.  While other folks go hungry, we’re eating pretty well.  With home and health and happiness, we shouldn’t want to fuss; For by this stack of evidence, God’s very good to us.” – Anonymous

 

Plant your flag

“A straight path never leads anywhere except to the objective.” – Andre Gide

If you want results in your job search get specific.  I know, I know.  You believe if you cast a wide net you think you will be more likely to land an interview and a new position.  This thinking is wrong and takes you down many paths that lead to nowhere.

The more focused you are the more people will be able to help you.  They can either send you potential opportunities or send you to people with similar backgrounds that can help you network.  If you spread yourself too thin; trying to be a jack-of-all-trades that places you in a position where people feel they can’t help you because you have no concrete target.

Have a concrete target.  It does a couple of things.  First, it gives you focus in your job search.  You know what you want and can articulate it to others.  Secondly, it saves you time and trouble.  Knowing what you are after will save you the headache of chasing opportunities that don’t fit.  You can save time by not responding to job postings that fall outside your scope.

Take a look at the following two examples of objective statements taken directly off of candidates’ resumes.  What do they say?  What do they tell you?

Example #1

To obtain a growth oriented leadership position where I can bring my 12 years of experience managing projects and offering solutions to companies for a reputable company that has a good product.

Example #2

To obtain a challenging position within an organization that will allow me to utilize my management and customer service skills and provide an opportunity for advancement.

After reading those statements do you have a clear idea of what those candidates do?  What industry are they in?  What position are they after?  It would be helpful if they let the reader know.  Why are they using precious real estate on their resume for wasted words that do not get to the heart of things?

If you are going to have an objective statement on your resume make it count.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m from the school that advises not to use an objective statement at all.  I’ll explain why in a future post.

If you feel compelled to use an objective statement use something like this: To apply for the Java Developer position #2013-51674.  At the very least, that objective lets the reader know your background and what you are after.  It also references a specific position.

Imagine taking your objective statement off your resume and instead using it as your elevator speech.  Does that thought scare you?  Does it bring to a clear, sharp focus the purpose of using either the objective statement or the elevator pitch?  I hope so.  In a million years you would never dream of telling someone “I hope to find a challenging position with an organization that will allow me to utilize my management and customer service skills and provide an opportunity for advancement.”  It says nothing and wastes everyone’s time.

If given the opportunity you need to be prepared with something like:

“I design and build web sites for small businesses that don’t have the ability to hire their own staff full-time to do it.”  Or

“I’m a CPA focusing on working for companies in the oil and gas industry.”  Or

“I’m an executive assistant with 10 years of experience supporting senior staff: directors/VP’s/CIO’s in the telecom industry.”

Use those kinds of initial statements and then build on them so you can fill 10, 20, 30 or 60 seconds of time explaining what you do and what you are after.  If you are unable to do that, your search will last much longer than it should.

Happy hunting!

A new day

Self Employment Tax Form - Schedule SE

Self Employment Tax Form – Schedule SE (Photo credit: Philip Taylor PT)

“Not to dream boldly may turn out to be simply irresponsible.” – George Leonard

Changing the wallpaper.  That’s how I used to describe the job changes I’ve had over my career.  I would start a new position being very excited about the possibilities and before too long, the old way of thinking would creep in.  Just like changing the wallpaper in your home, at the beginning of a new job, it’s exciting and different.  But over time, you begin to realize it’s still the same room in the same house in the same neighborhood in the same town.  Before I knew it I was out looking at samples again.  I was changing the wallpaper hoping for a different outcome but I was neglecting the structure I was living in.  The very foundation of my career is what needed to change.  I thought another new position would be enough.  But it was never enough.  It was only enough to quiet the yearning in my heart for a year or two or three.  No matter how long it took, that little voice in the back of my head would start whispering again.

And in moments when I was truly honest with myself, it wasn’t merely a little voice whispering in the back of my head.  It was what God had written on my heart that was speaking.  How long did I want to continue to go through life ignoring what God has written for my life?  Not much longer than I already have.

So I took a few small steps that have changed everything.

When I was unemployed earlier this year (fortunately only the months of March and April) I attended several networking groups regularly.  During one meeting, one of the facilitators was speaking and he said something to the effect of “You are all here looking for a job.  Many of you have gifts that can be used in other ways.  Maybe it’s time you stopped looking for a job and you BECAME the job.”  For those of us in attendance with a certain mind-set or inclination, we knew he was talking to the aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners; those wanting to step out on our own.

The seed that had been planted in my heart long ago had just been fertilized.  And that seed sprouted.  Over the next several months that sprout continued to grow almost to the point it became a weed.  I couldn’t stop it from growing and sprawling.  I knew well enough I wasn’t going to pull it or cut it back.  I was going to let it grow.  And before too long I had created a LLC for my own company.  I was talking to attorneys and accountants and health insurance brokers and I was out looking for clients, building a web site and creating marketing materials.  Most importantly, I submitted my resignation.  That small act was actually huge and incredibly significant.  I am no longer an employee.  What I am now is a free agent and business owner.

All the fears I had carried through the years about being my own boss held me down.  They prevented me from acting.  They prevented me from liberating my gifts and sharing them with the world.  Taxes?  Healthcare?  Insurance?  Company-formation documents?  In a previous life all those factors tied me down.  All it took was a few phone calls and asking a few questions of people I already had in my life and trusted.  You would be surprised what it takes to start a company.  The short answer is not that much.

My 7-year old son asked me several weeks ago as I was tucking him into bed “is your company going to be a big building?”  I love the perspective kids can provide.  His question brought me into his world and how he sees it.  I value that perspective.  I told him a company isn’t necessarily a big building.  A company is simply a few signed pieces of paper sitting in a file folder in some office somewhere.  The reason there are big buildings is that some companies have lots of employees and they all need somewhere to work.  I won’t have lots of employees so I won’t need a big building.

The person I am today is not the same person I was even 4 weeks ago.  The switch that gets flipped in your brain when you make the decision and change from employee to business owner creates a whole new paradigm.  The changes I have gone through have been profound.  The way I view and think about things are what have changed the most.  How I view myself has changed.  I’ve had to get comfortable and re-acquainted with who I am in my new role.

Up until several weeks ago my wife and I were talking about how difficult Christmas was going to be.  Money has been very tight and two of our kids have December birthdays.  We were wondering where the money was going to come from.

What a difference a few weeks and a little preparation make.  Now, we’re having discussions on how we’re going to get Gustafson Power Recruiting, LLC to be a $500,000 company.  When we get that figured out and reach that goal, the next step is a $1,000,000 company.  With a company like that I can bless many people in many ways I could never dream of in my previous life.

Being an employee with an employee mindset was restrictive.  Now, the possibilities are limitless.  Now, I get to spend time thinking about the person I must become to create a million dollar business.  I like that thought.  I like the idea of the person I will be when that day arrives.  Clearly, the person I am today is not the same person I will be years from now.

I walked through my fear.  I let it fool me almost my entire life up to this point.  Shame on me.  Now I know better.  Fear is a vapor.

I’m under no illusions there won’t be storms and rough water in the days and years ahead.  But I’m prepared.  Louisa May Alcott said it best: “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

Be abundantly blessed!

And please let me know how I can help you on your journey.