How to Move Forward After Being Fired

May 4th, 2018

You’ve just been fired, and you’re ready to count this episode among the hardest you’ve ever faced in your life. You’re not alone; according to survey data, most respondents rank job loss among the ten most difficult life challenges most of us will ever encounter, almost on par with divorce, losing a home, or losing a loved one. Job loss is stressful in countless ways, some of which compound the difficulty of losing a paycheck. Breaking the news to family members, finding ways to pay the bills, and explaining the event to interviewers in the future are all difficult tasks, and there’s no way to sugarcoat the truth: the road ahead will be rocky. At least for a little while. But you can make it, and in time, you’ll be back on your feet with this rough patch well behind you. Here are a few ways to make that day come a little sooner.

You’re not alone.

You may feel embarrassed by this event, as if you’ve been exposed as a bad worker or a fraud. But that’s simply not the case. Firing (as painful as it is) is quite common, and the reasons can have little to do with your ability to make it in the world. There’s often a case to be made that the event wasn’t completely your fault. Spend two minutes thinking about that, and then put it behind you. You have bigger concerns then placing blame—on yourself or on anyone else.

Don’t wallow.

You may be tempted to spend weeks sweeping up the pieces of your broken heart, but don’t do this. As soon as you’re able, get outside, exercise, search for a new job, or plan your next adventure. The longer you sit still, the more your dark thoughts and ruminations deepen the hole you’re in. It’s healthy to ruminate after the loss of a loved one, and our memories keep loved ones alive and with us. But a job is not a person. Your ruminations won’t honor the past or help you heal. Bring the wallowing stage to a close asap. After a job loss, this stage helps no one.

Take the opportunity to change course.

Before you leap into a new job exactly like the last one, think of this moment as an off-ramp on an expressway. If there’s a chance that your previous jobs or career path weren’t quite right for you, act on that possibility before the moment passes and you miss your exit. Career pivots are always easier when your old job disappears involuntarily. It’s much harder to stand up from your desk and force the move on your own.

Get help.

Whether you’re changing direction or just getting back on track, you’ll benefit from the words and guidance of career experts who have seen it all before. Contact the Charlotte staffing professionals at PSU for perspective, tips, and job search resources that will help you regain your stride.

Successfully Preparing for a Career Fair

April 2nd, 2018

When you see an announcement for a career fair in your area, don’t just dismiss it without taking a closer look. Even if you’re happily employed, or you’re actively seeking work but you don’t think this particular fair has anything to offer you, look again. Some career fairs showcase a surprisingly diverse group of employers from different industries, and you never know when a job fair might light a spark or introduce you to an important new contact. Opportunities are everywhere! And career fairs often become sources of kismet and coincidence that can change lives. If you decide to show up on the scheduled date and time, keep these tips in mind.

Dress nicely.

Look sharp, since you’ll be interacting with lots of people who will see you for only a few seconds and will have little else to go on while gathering a first impression. Eye contact and a pleasant expression will go a long way as well.

Take it in.

Keep your head up and feel the vibe in the room. Scan for friendly faces and keep your ears open. If you overhear a conversation that intrigues you, it’s okay to drop in. As in, “Excuse me, did you just say you know Sally Johnson? I know her too,” or, “Excuse me, did you just mention the X corporation? I have a connection there and he has a position he urgently needs to fill.” Don’t stare at your phone and tune out the world. At a career fair, this can lead to missing out, missing the point, and missing your moment.

Be patient and calm.

Desperation is unfortunate, since it can actually keep the things we desperately need away from us instead of drawing them closer. Even a vague sense of restless urgency can come across poorly and can be off-putting. So relax. Prepare to wait in some long lines. Don’t demand anyone’s attention or validation, and don’t say “I’m sorry” when you actually mean to say “Hello” or “Here’s my resume” or “It’s nice to meet you” or “I’m looking for a full-time position as a senior market analyst.” Anxious people do this all the time at job fairs, but you don’t have to be one of them.

Bring lots of resumes.

You’ll probably distribute your resume to some employers via app, email, or the cloud. But bring a stack of old-fashioned paper resumes with you as well, and try to leave as many behind as possible. Again, stay open minded about the specifics of the job or company you’d like to work for. If a certain employer might be a good fit but you aren’t sure, err on the side of leaving a resume. You can always discuss your credentials with the company in detail later on.

For more on how to make the most of your job fair experience, whether you stay for three hours or three minutes, contact the staffing and job experts at PSU.

Should You Hire a Candidate Who Will Play it Safe or Take Risks?

February 16th, 2018

You’ve completed your first few rounds of interviews, and you’ve narrowed your candidate pool down to two final contenders. Both hold the necessary qualifications for the job (the right training and adequate years of experience), and both seem perfectly reliable and pleasant to work with.

There’s just one big difference between the two. Candidate A (Let’s call her Bold Betsy) jumps into new situations without hesitation, pushes all her chips onto the table when she sees a potential reward, and takes decisive action when she has all the facts…and sometimes even when she doesn’t.

Candidate B (Nervous Nora) holds back and avoids taking decisive action, even when she has all the information she needs. She always wants “more data”, and even if the risk is small or the wrong decision will bring minimal fallout, she hesitates. She wants to play it safe or not play at all.

Bold Betsy speaks up in meetings and owns the room, even if she might be wrong. Nervous Nora stays quiet, even when she’s clearly right. Which personality do you need on your team? Here are a few moves that can help you decide.

Ask the team.

When it comes to risk-taking tendencies, there’s no “right” or “wrong” personality type. These are just two different ways of living, and both are perfectly healthy, smart, and productive. But each one is a better fit for some situations than others. So what does your team need right now? If you already have plenty of one type on board, maybe it’s time to balance things by hiring from the other end of the spectrum.

Where is this role heading in the future?

If the role is limited right now, a bold personality type might get bored and seek greener pastures before the company and the team have a chance to grow and expand. But in the future, when a bold type can accomplish more, do you want to be held back by the shy soul you’ve hired? What you need now might not be a fit for later, so prioritize the future, not the present.

Where do you fall on the curve?

If you don’t mind taking risks, close your eyes and roll the dice. Choose the candidate with whom you feel a stronger connection and a greater sense of innate trust. But if you yourself are a Nervous Nora, then do what Nora does: exhaustively comb your available data until you’re one hundred percent sure that your chosen candidate is a perfect fit. If you need to, schedule more interviews. Don’t be afraid to hold out for a while in order to get what you want and feel satisfied with your choice. Trust your instincts.

For more on how to make the right decision during the final round of the selection process, contact the expert recruiting team at PSU.

Battling Job Search Burnout

January 5th, 2018

Job search burnout: the struggle is real. Even when the job market is booming and unemployment is low—in fact, ESPECIALLY when these conditions are in effect—an extended job search can be morally, financially, and even physically exhausting (ask any anxious person who hasn’t slept in a few days). After a seemingly endless series of rejections or disappointing feedback from disinterested employers, it’s natural to start looking around for other ways to spend the day, and if job seekers don’t recognize the signs of burnout, they may be tempted to simply stop looking for work and abandon the process, regardless of the consequences.

But giving up isn’t the answer, especially if it means a stalled career or remaining trapped in an unrewarding job that adds no value to your career. Before you’re overtaken by burnout, recognize the signs and fight back.

Don’t be relentless.

If you berate yourself for every minute that you spend awake and not looking for work, stop doing that. The job search is NOT a full-time job, counter to what you might believe. Set aside one hour, or four, or 30 minutes every day to work on your resume, and when that period ends, pack it up. Recharge your battery, turn your attention back to your current job, or spend time with friends and family.

Drop the pressure or you may be tempted to drop your standards.

If you’ve decided that your job search is a “failure” after a month goes by and you don’t have a new gig, the artificial deadline you’ve imposed may push you to make desperate decisions, and desperate decisions are rarely smart decisions. Don’t accept an absurd commute, impossible hours, or a salary that’s less than you deserve. Settle in for a long climb; you’ll get there when you get there. You won’t get there at all if you panic, give up, and accept a job you don’t want.

Get help from a recruiter.

If you feel like you’re getting tired and losing the energy and optimism you had at the beginning of your job search, it may be time to seek help from an expert outside source. An experienced, established recruiter with wide and deep connections in your industry and your geographic area can help you find and impress the employer who’s looking for you right now just as urgently as you’re looking for them. In the meantime, your recruiter can help you polish your resume and your pitch until they’re tightly targeted to your ideal opportunity.

Contact our Cleveland County career management experts at PSU to learn more!

Maintaining Work-Life Balance

September 25th, 2015

Sometimes the pressure to maintain your performance at work can interfere with other aspects of life, including health, relationships, and the general quality of your days and years. If you understand what this feels like, there’s a strong chance you also understand the temptation to pull resources away from these other aspects and invest those resources in fully into your job. After all, our families aren’t going anywhere, but if we give less than our best at work, there’s a chance our jobs will disappear. Before you start burning your candle down the nub and letting your job consume a disproportionate and unhealthy share of your attention, keep these tips in mind.

Stay in the Present

Tackle one problem at a time, one issue at time, and one task at a time. As you listen to your friend, help your spouse solve a problem, or treat your child’s banged up knee, don’t simultaneously worry about the report that’s coming due at work. There’s nothing you can do about that report right now. When you carry a five minute problem away with you, it becomes ten minute problem, and then a three hour problem. The same applies to a five minute task. When you aren’t working on it, put it down.

Take your Vacation Time

You own your allotted vacation and break time for a reason: because many workers who came before you fought hard to earn this right. They did so because these employees understood the steep toll that relentless work can take on the body and the mind. Learn from their experiences, and make the most of what they struggled to secure for you. Don’t give it up.

Say No when You Mean No

If you know that you don’t have the bandwidth or resources to handle a certain task or assignment, say so upfront. Don’t cheerfully accept the task if you won’t be able to deliver without paying a price you can’t afford. Be honest. Describe the forms of support, time, and training you’ll need to complete the task adequately, and if you don’t realistically expect to finish the job within standard work hours, don’t make promises you can’t keep. It’s your boss’s job to provide the staff, money, and time you need in order to succeed without compromising your non-work time or your mental health. It’s your job to make these needs known.

Plan Ahead

Before you step into your car each day, make sure you have everything you’ll need to make it through your various appointments and obligations. Make the most of the list and calendar features on your mobile device, and if you rely on a network of other people (include your spouse, your colleagues, or your family members), stay in touch and don’t hesitate to ask for help and updates.

For more on how to survive the most productive years of your life– and even enjoy them—without losing your mind, reach out to the staffing and career management team at PSU.

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Don’t Brand Yourself as a Desperate Job Seeker

August 28th, 2015

You’re doing absolutely everything you can to impress employers, and hold onto their attention once you’ve made a grab for it…But are you coming off as desperate? There are obvious and also subtle ways to avoid this. Make sure you’re staying on top of both, and recognize that it’s easy to become blind to the implications of our own behavior when we really want something. Steer clear of common moves like these.

Misrepresenting yourself to “get your foot in the door”

For perpetrators of this move, the logic is simple, and it sounds something like this: “If I can just get a few minutes of the hiring manager’s time, my charm and credentials will take care of the rest”, or “if I can just manage to get her on the phone, I’ll be able to find out where my application stands.” Or the most dangerous of all: “If I can just manage to snag an interview, that’s all that matters, so I’ll go ahead and say anything I want to in my resume.” This is a questionable assumption, and if you lie about who are you are or what you can do, the end result can be rejection, humiliation, or worse.

Being a “Yes” person

If your boss asks if you’re available on Tuesdays and you aren’t, just say so. If you can’t speak French, if you’re a follower instead of a leader (or vice versa), if you don’t want to travel more than 50 percent of the time, or if you don’t want to work for less than 50,000 per year, just say so. When the answer to a question is no, say no. If you lie and eagerly answer yes to everything, you’ll only be telling your interviewer what you think they want to hear, and this won’t benefit either of you. Besides, they can probably tell. And the effect isn’t becoming.

Excessive follow up

It’s good to follow up and be persistent, but one voicemail or email per week will more than suffice. Calling every hour and spamming your employer’s inbox won’t help you reach your goals any faster. And it might derail your chances altogether.

Claiming vague, generic goals

Younger job seekers and recent grads often don’t know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Goals can be somewhat abstract at this early stage, since candidates haven’t had much exposure to the world or much time to develop specific passions. But if all you want is a job, any job, and all you care about is grabbing the bottom rung of any ladder at all and collecting a paycheck while you work your way up, reconsider. Most employers have more respect for candidates with a sense of self-direction.

For more on how to land your dream job while keeping your dignity intact, reach out to the staffing team at PSU.

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