Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Jobsearch Coach with a (motivation) Vision, and a Plan!

Today I have spent my morning voluntarily assisting a visually impaired former colleague complete a handwritten application form and typed up an electronic document. The good side of helping someone else out, is that I not only have a sense of pride in being able to help someone else, but knowing that my assistance is appreciated.

I was treated to a wonderful (normal for them but gourmet for me) home cooked traditional Singaporean lunch - which was absolutely delicious.  I hope I'll get an invitation to have lunch with this lovely family again one day soon.  It is so encouraging and delightful to see a functioning family unit in a environment where dysfunction is the norm.

Now that I'm home again, I'm ready to crack open my office supplies shopping bag following stopping in and purchasing a few items to create some motivational posters and colour for my work job search room - my new mission. My issues with management are still continuing, and my employer would never provide the money for me to do this, and my employer doesn't really deserve to have me doing this especially while they are being so vile, but I care about my long term job seekers.  I want them to shake out of their 'got to attend jobsearch' doldrums and instead become enthused and motivated to achieve their work goals - and I will do my best to help them get there.

So... the plan is.  I've now printed off about 35 A4 sheets of paper in 'landscape' mode, containing various job search related motivational quotes (all properly cited), which I am colouring the edges with highlighters (I'm now halfway done), and will soon be laminating (to keep the posters looking fresh for as long as possible).  And next Friday - which is Admin day, and also the last day of the month - I don't care what management say, I am ripping down all the boring tatty posters in the bland and boring jobsearch centre and sticking up my posters ready for the following Monday in a brand new month; at least one motivation poster in front of every computer and jobseeker phone, and anywhere else in every key visual areas for when clients enter and leave MY jobsearch centre (okay, it is used by all the other consultants, but I'm making it a reflection of me, I'm taking ownership!).

Next to the large whiteboard used for training, I am going to put up colourful cardboard posters, as the basis for implementing a couple of Recognition Boards... A client finds a job? Woohoo; well now instead of just saying congratulations to the person, we will recognise their great achievement for all to see; that clients name will be added to the poster, "Congratulations - Got the Job!". Someone gets an interview, which could lead to a job, they too should be recognised: they will now get their name added to the, "Congratulations - Got an Interview!" poster - once I've created them, that is.

But my most brilliant idea (well, I'm arrogantly proud enough to think the idea is brilliant) is that I am going to introduce a "Networking: I found a job opportunity that I can't follow, but maybe you would like to" poster where any client who finds a vacancy they can't pursue can write up on the poster so that other clients might be get to follow that opportunity...  I mean, last weekend I wrote about how clients don't use their network properly - and that is true - but rather than whinge about it, or criticise them for not doing so (which is my current management's style that I don't like and will not follow no matter how many written warnings they threaten to issue me) I am going to instead TEACH clients and encourage them to use their network more.

And to get the ball rolling, I am using my own money to buy something - I don't know what yet - as an incentive for my clients to change their tired and well tried uninspired jobsearch techniques and try the things that work.  I'm thinking a prize to the person who gains the most interviews in a month from undertaking cold calling during their jobsearch session is how they will earn a spot of having their name on the poster.

I just don't know what to buy as a gift - it is going to come out of my pocket not the companies - and I want it to be something useful and meaningful to the jobseeker (I know gaining a job should be its own reward, but some people are just so caught in their own rut they just can't seem to break free even though they would like to). I am thinking $25 will buy something decent without breaking the budget.

So, if you have any ideas or suggestions for what I could purchase, please use the comments section below, or the contact me page; think, what would I like to receive as a small gift if I was unemployed and looking for work.

And, if you would like to assist me help people to gain confidence and enthusiasm and have a few dollars to spare, then please donate - just make sure when you donate that you write "Jobsearch Prize" so I know that is how you want me to allocate the donation! And if you would like to financially assist then thank you very much, I welcome your assistance.

I'll update after Friday 31 May to let you know how the jobseekers reacted to the new posters, colour and incentives.

Update: 26/5.  Here are a handful of the Quote Posters that I created.  They are printed on A4 paper, with highlighter colour around the edges, and then laminated.  I have 38 in total.

Colourful Quote Posters

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Jobseeker Skills: Accessing the Hidden Job Market

In a slightly related to yesterday's post about delusional management, one of the key problems for me is that I understand the necessity to access the hidden job market - but can't because I am office  bound, which is making it hard for me to find an alternative position. By the time I am not in business hours, the businesses for which I would want to approach are all closed too, and I'm not allowed to make personal calls during business hours either.

As much as I hate my current employer, I still very much love what I do for work though - helping unemployed clients develop skills and confidence to gain work.

On Monday, I will be teaching my clients about the hidden job market, in the hopes that more of them will start seeing the benefits that gaining referrals, networking and undertaking cold calling will improve their chances of gaining work more quickly than their current vacancy hunting job search methodology.

For those of you who don't understand the hidden job market, here are a few basics:

The Open job market is where employers job vacancies are advertised to the public - in newspapers, in online job boards such as Seek, Career One, My Career etc. Employers go where the job seekers will go, to ensure their vacancy is found to give them the best chance of filling it.  The more common the role, the higher the number of applicants the business will receive, so more likely the right candidate will be found (eventually).

The Hidden job market is where employers job vacancies are not advertised to the public. There are many reasons why the business doesn't advertise including: job seekers are always dropping their resumes in to the business so they already have plenty of candidates to choose from; the business is undergoing growth and needs new staff but no duties or position has actually been created yet; an employee is retiring later in the year and the employer is considering finding a replacement before they actually go; some small businesses owners are actually intimidated by the recruiting process so put it off; to name a few reasons. According to many large career coaching organisations and government departments in Australia (and America), the hidden job market is sizably larger than the open job market, with most suggesting that at any one time the hidden job market lies between 60 and 80% of the total available job market. That's huge!

Don't believe it? Have you ever gained a job without applying for the role? (I know I have, at least twice that I can think of.) If you have, then you have experienced accessing the hidden job market already! It is surprising, when I ask clients if they have ever gained a job that wasn't advertised nearly everyone in the group has two or three examples within their history too.  And how they gained access to the hidden job market (even though they didn't recognise that this is what they had done) generally falls into one of three ways:  networking, gaining referrals, or cold calling.

The best way for me to tell you about networking, gaining referrals and cold calling is to provide you with an example of how I gained a temporary part time job in the printing industry even though I had no experience or interest in doing that type of work...

Back when my children were young, and I was still married to my ex-husband, money became a little tight and we needed me to earn some part time cash without me having to put our three children in expensive childcare (which defeated the purpose of why I would be working) so we could cover the car rego when it came due in three months. 

I tried to find part time positions during the day, but didn't find much suitable, and when the work was suitable I was unsuccessful in getting the role. 

I told (complained to) a friend about my need to find some part time work (networking) and mentioned that I needed to find an after hours job like she had recently found, and she immediately got excited and told me her boss needed someone extra for about two hours per night, two or three nights per week and had not been able to find anyone willing to work  7 pm to 9 pm as needed for months. My friend told me she would get off the phone and talk to her boss to let him know I was looking for those hours, and see if he would like to meet me (referral).  He did. She rang back twenty minutes later and asked me to come at 7pm that night to meet him. The next night I started six months of part time employment working in the printing factory manually collating 30 piles of printed pages into booklets, while my friend did her printing and binding work. It was just us working together, and we were allowed to turn music on and chat while we worked, as long as we worked, which we did.

This wonderful little role got my husband and I through our tough period and then got us ahead a bit too, so when the role came to an end after six months, it was nothing to worry about. I no longer needed to work, and we had enough savings to see us through any unexpected bills.

Now, I'd like to point out that when I gained that job, I did not have any printing industry experience.  The employer only needed someone to manually collate printed materials to become bound booklets. It was not hard work; it did not require any skill; five minutes of training, and anyone could do the work.  I got the job because I wanted those horrible hours that nobody else wanted. And that is the benefit of being referred to a vacancy - the employer needed someone who would reliably show up at 7 pm and collate the piles manually. I only wanted to work a couple of hours per week in the evenings and didn't care what type of work I performed (so long as it was legal and ethical), so my husband was home to mind our children. I didn't need to have experience in that type of work because I was referred (and accepted) for when the work would be done - that was the basis of my being hired, not my capabilities.

So, as you can see, referrals are when someone refers another person to the vacancy - a warm lead, and networking is when you build and maintain relationships for mutual benefit. In my example above, I made contact with a person in my 'circle' (my friend) who connected with a person that was in her circle but not mine (her employer), which brought the employer and my own self into each others circle. The employer benefited: he gained an employee who reliably turned up for the two to three shifts each week. I benefited: I gained enough part time hours that suited my availability and was paid enough to meet my bills and then save.  My friend benefited: she gained the much needed help she needed at work, and we maintained our ongoing friendship.

Now, for readers of my blog, I've already shared how a fellow classmate approached me to work in his business in a previous post - so that post and situation is an example of networking in action.  I wasn't looking for a job when he approached me with a job offer. The employer benefited: he gained an employee who could do the work.  I benefited: I didn't need to work, so was able to work hours and days that best suited me.

In my experience as an Employment Consultant, too many job seekers spend their job searching time
applying for advertised jobs, and too little spend time undertaking job seeking tasks that they feel uncomfortable in doing: cold calling and talking to people.

But if networking and referrals don't help you gain a job (- too many people don't utilise networking and referrals to help them gain work though) then the last way to access the hidden job market is to cold call employers - that is by attending as a walk in (face to face contact) or by phoning potential employers.

Cold Calling is when you contact someone who doesn't know who you are, who you've never spoken to before, and who is not expecting your call (or your visit).

Now, I can hear your protests already - I hate cold callers!  Yes, we all do when telemarketers phone you at home right when you are sitting down to dinner after a long day at work and they just want to sell you something you don't want or need. We hate pushy people and the hard sell.

But cold calling does not have to involve being pushy or putting on the hard sell. Actually, the best results come when you phone a potential employer to ask for their assistance rather than ask them outright for a job.  Take the following three real phone calls I assessed my job seekers make this week.

Call 1

Hello, my name is Susie.  I am an experienced Childcare Cook, and looking for part time work.  Do you have any positions going at the moment?

Sorry, no.

Okay, thank you.

No result here.  In her effort to not be pushy, Susie was hoping to hear 'no vacancy' so she could not 'trouble' the employer any further. Poor Susie will become highly demotivated in her jobsearch if she continues to make calls that get her the 'sorry, no' result each time she makes a cold call. I advised her she needs to make some changes to how she makes her calls. Also, Susie hasn't done her research, because most of the Childcare Cook positions that I cold-called to hired full time staff not part time or casual.

Call 2
Hello, my name is Peter.  I have ten years experience as a Forklift Driver, and am fully proficient in using high reach and low reach machines and moving pallets, and meeting the demands of the job. Would you like to meet me?

Why are you calling?

Oh, I'm looking for a job? I have experience, would you like to meet me?

Sorry, we're not hiring.

Oh, okay.  Thanks anyway. 

Too pushy, and he didn't state the purpose of his phone call. Peter was nervous about making the call, and didn't have a script prepared, so he sort of just blurted things he needed to say out. I worked with Peter to develop a script, so he could become more comfortable in making calls.

Call 3

Hello, my name is Wendy.  I was wondering if you could help me.  I am an experienced Waitress, looking for part time work. Are you able to advise me if your company is in need of additional staff at the moment?

I’m not sure. The best person for you to speak to, Wendy, would be Patrick.  He’s our hiring manager.

Great, thank you!  Sorry, what was your name?


Thank you, Helen. Do you know if Patrick would be available for me to speak to him now, or if not, what would be the best time for me to contact him?

Patrick only comes in, in the afternoons.

So, would it be best for me to try calling him at around two o’clock, or do you think four o’clock would be better?

No, don’t call him at two, that’s still our peak lunch hour period.  Around four o’clock should be fine though.

Thank you for all your help, Helen.

Wendy didn't call back at four p.m. because she had done her job search for the day. Another client also cold-called to this same business and gained an interview, so Wendy has probably just missed out on getting a job, because she lacks the ability to keep her promises and or undertake follow up. But Wendy had the best script of the three job seekers, and got the best result.

So let's be clear. To access the hidden job market, you should follow each of the five steps listed below:

1. Identify businesses that interest you.
2. Make a short list of businesses that you will contact.
3. Approach your target businesses - in person or by phone.
4. Take any immediate actions required - such as emailing your resume
5. Follow up on all leads, don't let opportunities go - if you need to call back later, and it is not your jobsearch time, call back later anyway.

Some final tips for making cold calls:
* be prepared and have a script handy for you to refer to if you are nervous, struggle or lose focus
* keep pen and paper close by to take notes
* know why you are calling
* know who you want to talk to (the person or the position)
* sound confident
* enjoy making the call - your smile will be picked up on by the listener
* briefly explain the purpose of your call
* be polite throughout the entire call, and thank the person for helping you

* call if you are going to be distracted or interrupted
* 'um' and 'er'
* lie about who you are or why you are calling

Hopefully you now have the skills and knowledge to start accessing the hidden job market and increase your cold calling success.  Happy, motivated job searching! Let me know if this advice has been useful to you.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

No progress against delusional management

I wish I could say that I have been busily working on my novel works-in-progress as my excuse for not having written any posts over the last few weeks, but the reality is that all I have been doing is going to work, then coming home absolutely drained, having dinner, chilling out for a while then going to bed early only to have to get up and go to work again the next day.

Weekends, seem to take forever to arrive, and when they finally do arrive, in a blink of an eye they are over, and I face having yet another long week ahead of me.

Management called a meeting on Wednesday afternoon to tell us (once again) we are not good enough in our jobs, even though we are the best performing site of all the sites the company has, and that because of this 'abysmal performance' upper management is now going to start micro managing us.

Start?  Is it just me, because I have a good grasp on the English language because I am a writer, or does management not understand that they have been actively creating a demoralised workplace with their micro-management style so the word 'start' is a joke of pathetic delusional proportions?

A couple of months ago, our office endured hectic mornings where we saw clients back to back from 9 am to 12 pm, with little (if any) breathing space between appointments; but the upside was that when then had all afternoon to complete our administration required as a result of having seen so many clients in a non-pressurised way.  Now, management have decided they don't like that and have booked additional appointments for the afternoons, and given everyone additional tasks to complete in the afternoons as well, which results in staff members needing to have high concentration levels throughout the entire day (with NO recovery time) and no time to complete everything required of them. Not only are staff unable to complete their work, but you can actually see staff are wearing out physically because of the lack of relief from high-pressure. It doesn't help when we have full days without computers, which puts everyone even further behind, and impromptu staff meetings cutting into the precious little administration time now allotted. It is only a matter of time before the next resignation is submitted in anger - hopefully it won't be me (though if I find another job I'll be happy to be the next resignation!).

Just how does this micro-management and over-working of staff result in increased performance?  And how can a person effect change in this type of negative workplace, when management seem intent on maintaining the attitude 'if you don't like it, leave'?

I can honestly say I have never hated a company like I hate my current employer!  And I hate that there are hardly any jobs going at the moment for me to apply for to gain my escape.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Product Review: Sunrider SunSmile Toothpaste

As part of my series of Sunrider product reviews, today I would like to discuss Sunrider SunSmile Herbal Toothpaste.

Having had so much success with the products I was purchasing from Sunrider Australia, and having read that commercial toothpaste's contain ingredients that can be harmful to your teeth and mouth, I decided to try out Sunrider SunSmile Herbal Toothpaste. Again, the product was expensive and my budget was limited so I purchased the smaller of the two sizes available, figuring that if I didn't like it, at least I hadn't wasted my money on buying the family size one.

I don't know, I must have misread something when I ordered it because instead of receiving the Herbal toothpaste I instead had ordered the Whitening Gel.  Oh well, I reasoned, my teeth could probably do with a bit of herbal whitening.

Pleasant taste, teeth looked cleaner, but they didn't feel as clean as they could - but I remained mindful that I was using the whitening gel not the toothpaste.  So next order I was a bit more careful and this time ordered the herbal toothpaste.

Now I have tried herbal toothpastes before, and I haven't liked them, but the first thing I liked about Sunrider SunSmile Herbal toothpaste was that it smelt 'fresh' and looked like a pale mint coloured toothpaste - which is more natural than red and blue and white or orange of some of the commercial toothpastes I have tried.

SunSmile isn't a thick or dried looking when you add a small blob to your toothbrush; it squeezes easily, is more 'fluid' sort of like a tube of condensed milk in consistency.  But the best thing about SunSmile toothpaste is that it gently but powerfully cleaned my teeth leaving them feel like I had just been to the dentist. They were freshly cleaned of build up and my mouth felt pleasantly refreshed.  I had just discovered the toothpaste that I will now always use!

My little tube lasted a long time (I think about 2 - 3 months) despite my twice a day brushing routine so when it came time to  re-order, I didn't hesitate to purchase the family size - which is about the size you find in the supermarkets for all the commercial toothpastes.

I like using the whitening gel occasionally to give my teeth an extra and purposeful 'boost' in looking naturally whiter, but for the most part I only need to use the toothpaste only.  And, only needing a tiny blob is more than enough to do the job well so I am still using the same tube which I purchased months ago.

As always, Sunrider products are available to purchase at here, or you can purchase via a consultant or by joining Sunrider as a Customer or Consultant by visiting
If you need a sponsor, then you are welcome to contact me to gain details.

With so many harmful chemicals in commercial toothpastes, you won't go wrong switching to SunSmile Herbal toothpaste as a fantastic alternative; actually, I encourage you to make that switch today!

Try this product and let me know what you think in the comments section below, or find me on facebook:

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Interview Question: What did you dislike about your last job?

Many Human Resources Managers use set questions during their hiring process to work out the most suitable candidate for their skilled or semi-skilled vacancies.  One question job seekers report back that they have been asked is the question "What did you dislike about your last job?"

This is a trick question that leads the candidate to start talking negatively, which in turn will cause  a negative impression about the candidate to be left in the mind(s) of the employer. And the trouble is most job seekers do not think about the answers they are giving and or the impact their answer is having upon the employer - and later wonder why they missed out on the job.

In an employers mind they are immediately asking themselves one question the moment the person starts rattling off their list of complaints: if the person is happy to trash their previous employer in such a mindlessly loose-lipped fashion, then that person certainly won't have the discretion or decency to not trash our business - after we have spent years carefully building up our business brand, do we want this person potentially doing untold damage to our good reputation that we have worked so hard to build? Ah, no. The employer might still continue with the interview, but there mind is already made up.

As a job seeker, you can't avoid being asked this question if the employer has this question on their list of questions to ask, so before you attend your next job interview you instead need to develop a strategy on how you can answer the question without making yourself look bad - in case you are asked this question!

Some tips to help you with that strategy:

Firstly, you are not being honest with yourself, and therefore cannot be honest with the potential employer, if you simply answer the question "There isn't anything I disliked about my last job" for the simple reason "well why aren't you still there then?" if the job was that perfect.  As a hiring manager, if a candidate stated this to me, I would immediately assume that the person just lied to me; and if the person is this dishonest in the interview, I could reasonably have doubts about your level of honesty if I were to employ you.  In my mind: you either are a blatant liar - who cannot be trusted; or, you don't know your own self very well - and if you don't know your own strengths and weaknesses, then you aren't instilling me with any confidence in your abilities to do the job.

See, told you it was a trick question!

Every person has something that they disliked about their last job; not all of those 'dislikes' are major complaints, some are just 'small things' like too far to travel, or I would have liked higher pay. So to say, "There isn't anything I disliked" is a lie.

One small technique that has good effect in an employers mind is when candidates pause after being asked that question so they can stop to think.  And the longer you need to search for an answer to that lingering, unanswered question, the more an employer can interpreted (albeit correctly or incorrectly) that you are struggling to come up with any negative aspects about your last job - and this is a good thing. Who cares if the employer makes a positive assumption about yourself?

I'm not encouraging you to lie or manipulate the employer, but pausing from immediate answering the question to give yourself time to come up with a way to turn the question around and to remove yourself from demonstrating your negative qualities is a good line of defense in working around the question so that you remain showcasing your positive attributes.

Another small technique is to be consciously mindful at all times throughout the interview about how you answer the questions asked.  So you've paused, but are now ready to provide them answer.  Your goal is to remain presenting yourself in a positive way:

* pick a neutral aspect (beyond yours and the former companies control) that the employer in front of you would fall into agreement with or relate to. For example, "I disliked that our suppliers were always late with their deliveries because it caused us lost productivity. As they were the only local suppliers, we were unable to get our supplies elsewhere, and unfortunately overseas suppliers were not a viable option for the company."

In the above example, you have shown that you value being productive - without you having to claim that you are productive.  You also have shown that you kept abreast of trying to resolve the issue of lost productivity even if you weren't instrumental in trying to find alternative suppliers so productivity could be boosted - demonstrating that you valued contributing to the best interests of the business, again without you having to make sure claims about yourself.

(Some employers might assume a level of the frustration you felt, but unless they ask you about it, they are more inclined to see that although frustrating you tried to do something positive about it - so no points lost here.)

Never answer the question by telling the employer that you didn't get on with the previous manager or other staff members (this just tells the employer that YOU don't know how to get along with people) or that you didn't like how the business did things (this just tells them that YOU don't know how to take direction or fit in with the culture of the business or work within a businesses policies and procedures). It doesn't matter if your previous manager was a complete jerk or the management stubbornly refused to streamline processes so that staff could work smarter not harder; as soon as you state those issues to the potential employer you make yourself look like you were the problem not the other party (and, who is to say that you simply don't realise that you were in fact the problem not the manager or process you complain about!)

If you do start answering the question, and then realise too late that you are showing yourself in a negative light, ensure you rescue the situation by stating you gained something valuable from the experience, for example, if you revealed you had a problem with a manager but you have worked to overcome this weakness, telling the potential employer that you learned that you needed to work on your people skills, so you undertook Conflict Resolution training so you are better equipped to handle a similar situation the next time you face it - if you undertook a conflict resolution training course - demonstrates that you value self-development and gaining new skills.

If you do answer the question, then whatever you do, don't let your tone sound whinging or you won't be able to rescue your answer no matter how hard you try.

Hope this helps.

Friday, May 10, 2013


I finally get time and opportunity to go online and write a blog post and my internet goes down!

(Lucky I have smart phone and app as poor backup to use to share my complaint)

Monday, May 06, 2013

Interview Question: Tell me about yourself

Today I ran jobseeker Interview Question training for a group of my clients, and this has left me on a natural high.

I started the training by requiring my fifteen member strong group to first answer the question, "Tell me about yourself". As suspected, these unemployed individual's almost all answered the question by mentioning their own interests, and making unprovable (and highly challenge-able) claims (such as I am honest and reliable).

Employers often ask this question first up when meeting a candidate (once everyone is settled into their seats) to encourage open communication and to get the interview going.  Employers are professional entities and they are seeking to gain perspective about the candidate's professional background, not their personal one.

But job seekers, upon hearing the above words, tend to answer on a personal level something like "Well, I'm [X] years old, and have three kids..." 

Job seekers need to be mindful that every word they say can leave a positive, negative or neutral impression on the employer.  They don't want to accidentally give an employer any reason to discriminate against them; they want (and need) the employer to judge them completely on their ability to do the job, and have the interviewer come to the conclusion that they would be a good fit with the business.

So how should candidates be answering that question? They should answer something like "I have 5 years experience as a [type of work]..." and the rest of the two to three sentences that the candidate says should include information such as duties performed which are related to the job on offer - to encourage the employer to want to know more about them and their suitability to the role.

Remember, every job seeker thinks they are able to do the job they are interviewing for; but employers need them to prove this to them -- not with claims but -- with examples of skills, knowledge and experience that leads the employer to believe the candidate is capable of doing the job for them.

My group today went from "I'm [X] years old, have three kids and live in [name of suburb]..." to "I have 5 years experience as a [type of work]..." and mention the related skills and qualifications they gained or are the holder of that would be of interest to the employer. 

I am so proud of my group today; especially seeing as we had no computers for the entire day due to a system meltdown, and were given permission by management to leave early but instead chose to participate in this impromptu training session. It was so pleasing to witness the boost in confidence, and motivation, that these job seekers gained just from understanding things from an employers perspective which allowed them to improve their tell me about yourself pitch.