Saturday, September 1, 2012

Are you Ready for Some Football and a Job Search?

Labor Day weekend signals the end of summer and the beginning of football...oops, I mean, Fall. In the South, football is almost its own religion. Some people can quote player stats. and team standings quicker than a Bible verse.
Both men and women stay abreast of college football, high school football and the NFL. Everyone has a favorite team. Life stops when the game starts.  Now, now... I'm not criticizing this, it simply fascinates me. Football fans across America often show support by wearing their team's colors. On game day, many come out in full team regalia. You will see people wearing team jerseys, caps, and more just to encourage their team.

Since I was born and raised in Wisconsin, I consider myself a Green Bay Packer fan. When I lived in Wisconsin, I even went to a game or two. The excitement and energy in historic Lambeau Field was contagious. Packer fans were over-the-top. Even during below-zero cold weather, some men would strip down to display "Go Pack Go" painted in green and gold on their beer-filled bellies. I even sported a cheesehead once. Thankfully there are no photos to prove it. As I observe football mania, it made me think, how could we apply the same energy and focus to a job search?

1) Get a cheering section. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you to stay in the game. I've heard people say, "There are no jobs out there," so they avoid trying. They listen only to family, friends and the news--then do nothing but complain. It is indeed a tough job market and you must be even more flexible and creative in your search. Few people work in a job that is the same exact major they chose while in college. The perfect job may not be your first job. Avoid taking advice from people who are not in the know about today's local and national job trends, recruiting methods or interview practices. If that ideal job does not come along, do you have an idea for a business? Get professional advice on how to write a business plan and start that business.

2) Show your team colors. Don't be afraid to target a few organizations. Use to find them. The majority of recruiters and companies are recruiting on Linkedin. Be sure to use the six Linkedin etiquette tips I've previously recommended. Make sure your marketing tools are consistent and compelling. Yes, you STILL need a good, clean, resume and a strong elevator pitch. Use the resume to help tell the story about your experiences. When networking, a resume is your "business card" and your elevator pitch is the concise, verbal introduction about what you bring to an employer and why you are interested.  If you are a college student, the career services office can help you refine your resume, develop a great elevator pitch, and it's usually a free service.

3) Practice your plays. If you get an interview, practice basic interview questions with a career services professional or other professional. Make sure it is someone who knows what employers or investors want in your industry or field. Make sure they will give you honest feedback on everything from your word choice to your energy level when answering.  The words you think you are saying don't always sound the same when you speak them aloud. Be sure to dress appropriately for the industry and organization. If you are unsure what to wear to your interview, ask someone.

4) Cheer for someone else. Finally, always give back. If someone refers you, interviews you or otherwise helps during your search, send them a thank you note or email within 24 hours. While you may focus solely on what you need during a job search, remember someone else might need something you already have. Help another person and expect nothing in return. It's the right thing to do and it feels good to take your mind off of yourself when helping someone else.

As the football season comes into full swing, I expect to see even more people wearing their team colors, cheering wildly, tailgating, and gathered around large t.v. screens. If you are searching for a job or starting a small business, make sure you have the right tools and use smart plays. Even if you have more losses than wins, don't give up. Just step away and rework your game plan. Get good coaching. Then get back in the game!