Staying Motivated During Your Job Search While in a – Hello! – Freaking Pandemic!

We don’t have to tell you that it’s rough out there: about 31.8 million plus folks are out of work nationwide (as of early July).  In fact, Los Angeles County itself had an unemployment rate of 19.4 percent in June.

So it’s understandable that, if you’ve been looking for work for two or three months, that your job search motivation might be, shall we say, “lagging” a bit.

Yes, it’s rough, but if there’s one thing to focus on, it’s this:

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You are a job seeker of one. There’s one of you; you need just one job. Don’t worry about ALL the other people applying to the jobs available. Instead, focus just on getting the job you need.

That said, even if you’ve been looking for work for weeks with no luck, even if you feel beaten down and just can’t bear to look at a job board ever again, let alone send in an application, you definitely can get your motivation back. Here’s how.

Set short-term goals

You’ve done tough things in your past. Perhaps you’ve:

  • Given birth/gone through labor
  • Run a marathon
  • Lost 50 pounds
  • Saved up money for a new laptop (rather than put it on a credit card)

What do those things have in common? They were relatively short-lived and you looked forward to a specific outcome when you finished them. You knew “the end” was coming.

Looking for work, on the other hand, has no set timeline. You don’t know when “the end” will come. You have a goal – get a new job – but it has no set endpoint that you can control.

So set short-term goals. Goals such as:

  • You will reach out to 15 people by Friday.
  • You will apply to 15 jobs by Friday. (This is a different goal than the one above because reaching out to people is different than applying for jobs. In addition, you will tweak your resume/cover letter to be specific to each position to which you’re applying.)
  • You will post at least one comment on the LinkedIn groups to which you belong by Friday.
  • And so on.

Give yourself rewards for meeting each goal.

And we do mean EACH goal! Looking for work is hard (as you well know). It’s definitely “not fun” (putting it lightly). You definitely should celebrate when you reach a goal. You truly deserve it!

Focus on processes, not results

Your goals shouldn’t be, “I’ll get a job by the end of September.” “I’ll get 2 interviews a week in August.” Why shouldn’t you make these types of goals? Because you have no control over whether the goal will “be met.” (For example, you have no control on whether a hiring manager will call you in for an interview.) Instead, focus on what you can control: the process. Send out X resumes a week. Reach out to X people per week. And so on. Work the process and the process will work for you.

Keep looking and you WILL land a job!

It’s amazing what consistently “working the process” does when it comes to just about anything (weight loss, exercise, learning a new skill, etc.). It’s the same with the job search, no matter what the “conditions” are surrounding your efforts, setting small, process-focused goals – and meeting them – will help you get your job-search mojo back and land you a job sooner than you may think.

Helpmates has several job opportunities available right now and many of them need people to start working immediately. Take a look at our current openings and follow the instructions for applying to the ones that interest you.

Looking for Work While Following “Safer at Home” Guidelines

Life sure feels and definitely looks different here in Southern California than it did just two weeks ago. Many of us started working from home just a few days ago and, as the days passed, more and more of us lost our jobs. And others among us soon may lose ours, as a recession already is here.

There IS hope; Jobs ARE available!

Right now (the last week of March) not only are some companies such as Amazon (to handle the increased need for workers in their distribution centers), Walmart (people are shopping for more food for at-home meals) and Domino’s Pizza (it needs more delivery drivers as people practice social distancing) actually hiring thousands of workers, many employers of all types are still hiring.

The vast majority of these jobs are either those that can be performed remotely, or are for what are deemed “critical” jobs that can’t be performed at home.

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Job Hunting during “Safer at Home”

The City of Los Angeles’ emergency order is called “Safer at Home, Stay at Home,” yet no matter whether you live in LA, Orange County or anywhere in the Golden State, you’re no doubt hunkering down at home now because many employers’ brick and mortar locations are closed to the public.

Rest assured, employers want to hire people as much as you want to be hired. Businesses still up and running are exceptionally focused on ensuring their operations remain steady. Yet with employers still hiring but not being able to meet candidates in the office, at job fairs, etc. what does that mean for you, the job hunter?

Virtual job hunting and interviewing!

And while that may “seem” really new and, well, odd, it’s not really, because you will – and should – continue emailing with recruiters or hiring managers who have reached out to you, just as you did before. (Tip: While we know you’ll no doubt really, really, really, really want to, we recommend that you don’t email or call a company to make sure it received your application. Contact an employer only after its reached out to you.)

  • If you’re just starting your job search, the rules still apply: if possible reach out directly to a hiring manager when you see a job opening and send your resume directly to their email address. (Make sure you’ve sent your application in online, as well – most companies require this today.)
  • If you were scheduled to come in for an interview before the stay-at-home orders took place and if you haven’t heard from the recruiter or hiring manager, it’s perfectly OK to email and ask if the interview is still on (the employer may have put things on hold for a bit). If the employer does want to postpone, ask them when it would be good time for you to check in again and place the date as a reminder on your calendar.
  • If you don’t have video conferencing on your own computer, laptop or smartphone, don’t worry: most recruiters do on their end and will send you a link you can use to have the interview via video.
  • Make sure your clothing and grooming looks job-interview appropriate for the video interview (at least from the waist up). Set up your computer in a spot that’s quiet and ask family members to be quiet themselves while you’re online.

Finally, don’t worry if you don’t have a laptop or computer at home: we can interview you via video on your smartphone!

Also, because our Helpmates offices are closed right now, we’re interviewing everyone via video: even people who will be working at an employer’s physical location.

We’ll all get through this together

Employers still need you. If you’re looking for work, take a look at our current opportunities and follow application instructions for those that appeal to you and for which you are qualified.

We look forward to hearing from you. Stay well.

Never Refer to Yourself as Unemployed. Here’s Why.

Most of us will be unemployed at least once in our working lives. Employers are aware of that. So it should be okay to describe yourself as unemployed on LinkedIn or on your resume and cover letter, right?

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Well, no! Unfortunately, there is still a stigma that is attached to the word “unemployed,” a stigma that still prejudices hiring managers, even if they have been unemployed at some point themselves.

It shouldn’t be that way.

The fact is that many people these days have gaps in their work history for a variety of reasons. Employers are always looking to streamline their workforces and so layoffs have become more common. Those who remain are expected to shoulder more of the workload, and companies are filling the gaps with contingent labor.

In this day and age, according to some career experts, people can have multiple careers and multiple jobs within those careers. It has, in fact, become much more commonplace for people to have gaps in their work history.

But old ways of thinking die hard, and the prejudice against the unemployed still exists, although it may not carry quite the negative connotation as in the past. But research has shown that it doesn’t matter how someone lost their job, whether they were fired or laid off, the stigma still attached to his situation.

The unemployed are looked at less favorably than those who have a job, even if their skill levels are the same.

For this reason, some career experts advise people to avoid using the word “unemployed,” instead substituting something such as “between jobs.” The word unemployed has too much negative psychological baggage, denoting defeatism. Because of this it can even affect the job candidate’s self-image and self-esteem, impacting their job search.

What to do If You Are Unemployed

If you are unemployed and looking for work, don’t try and hide it. Many job candidates try to disguise the fact or equivocate about it, but they don’t fool employers and they only come across as dishonest. The fact is, you shouldn’t be embarrassed about it.

Explain what happened, and then focus on how you have been using the time since you became unemployed, how you have maintained your skills and knowledge. For example, have you volunteered your time doing work-related projects, taken classes or attended conferences, traveled, or something else in the meantime?

This will help to achieve two things – the first is showing your tenacity and resilience in the face of adversity, as well as your dedication. Even though you have lost your job, you have continued to work to advance your career and prepare for the time when you are rehired.

Lessen the Fears of the Employer

One of the main concerns companies have about the unemployed is the erosion of their skills. By emphasizing the work you have been doing during your unemployment, you also help to reassure the employer that you have maintained your skills.

Another way of keeping up your skills if you don’t have a full-time job is through temporary work. Working as a contingent employee has several benefits. As mentioned, it helps you maintain your skills. But you also will be working at companies that could be future employers if they like your work. And you get to meet new people in your profession who may also be able to offer leads on jobs.

So if you now find yourself between jobs, contact Helpmates as part of your job search. We can help you find temporary work while you look for full-time employment. We also can help you find full-time work.

Take a look at our current openings and apply to those that interest you.

Why Are You Interested in this Job?

This is one of the top standard job interview questions, so expect to hear it at your next interview. Employers ask it because they want to know why you want to work at their particular company, as opposed to simply doing it to make money.

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This question also helps the hiring manager learn about your career aspirations and how the job fits into that, as well as what you know about the company.

In answering the question, there are two issues you need to address – why you want to work at this particular company, and why you want to work at this particular job at this company.

Why the Company?

In order to answer why you want to work at this particular company, you naturally need to know something about the business. That means you need to do research. There are a number of sources for this, beginning with the company website.

On the website you can find out all the basic information about the company – its history, mission, products, and recognition it has received. Check out the press releases from the company as well as the company blog if there is one. Another place to look is social media to see what you can learn about the business.

Research online as well to see what pops up in your search. Finally, can check to see if anyone in your network has information about your potential employer.

All of this research should enable you to come up with specific reasons why you want to work at the company. These reasons could relate to the reputation of the business, its leadership, the products or services it offers, its culture and values, its growth or success, or particular programs, such as its marketing efforts, community involvement or training programs.

What you need to avoid are answers that are too vague or general, things that could apply to any company, or answers that show you haven’t done your homework.

Why the Job?

You have told the hiring manager what you like about the company. Now you need to focus on why you want to work in this particular job. You have to show the hiring manager why you are the best qualified person for this job.

To formulate an answer, first take another look at the job description. What caught your interest about the job? Why did you decide to apply for it? You need to talk about what really turns you on about the job because hiring managers want to hire people who love what they do and are excited about doing it.

Your answer should also explain why you would excel at the job, what skills and knowledge you have acquired that will allow you to deliver an exceptional performance  and value. Your answer should cover both why you are interested in the job and why you would be good at it.

Again, you want to avoid answers that are too vague or general, ones that could apply to any job. You don’t want to give the hiring manager any reason to believe you only want the job because it’s available. You need to convince him or her that you are the perfect match for the position.

You need to show enthusiasm also, explaining why you find it interesting using particulars about the job. If the hiring manager senses a lack of interest, your chances of getting the job are gone.

If you need help finding the next job at which you can excel, contact the recruiters at Helpmates. We have many direct-hire, temp-to-hire and temporary assignments just waiting for your special skills. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

No Job is a Dream Job: All Jobs are WORK

We often think that getting our dream job will make our lives all rainbows and unicorns. But dream jobs are, plain and simple, myths. All jobs involve doing tasks we don’t like – we have to take off the rose-colored glasses and accept that all jobs have both the good and the bad.

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You may think you have found your dream job, but it’s just impossible to get a clear, complete picture of any job until you are actually doing it. The job may look wonderful because of the type of work involved or the particular company you will be working for, but that feeling of euphoria could dissipate rapidly if your supervisor turns out to be narcissistic and unreasonable, or your coworkers are unfriendly, or the company culture is not a good fit.

The Downside of the Dream Job

In fact, psychologists and business experts agree that believing in and looking for that dream job is actually a harmful mindset to get into. You are more than likely just laying the groundwork for disappointment. Or you may be so convinced you have found your dream job that you refuse to acknowledge the warning signs for trouble. Others, in a similar state of stubborn denial, refuse to acknowledge their so-called dream job is more of a nightmare because they cannot face the prospect of being wrong about it.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with wanting to do work that you truly enjoy. The problem begins when you develop an idealized version of the job in your mind, which seldom comports with reality. And when you have to confront that reality, it can lead to confusion and setbacks, which may end up leading you further away from what you really want to do rather than toward it. We see in our dream job all of the plusses without thinking about the minuses, all of the struggles and sacrifices that are inevitably involved in any job.

The Dream Job Changes

Another reason the dream job is a myth – our vision of such a job is always evolving and changing because we are growing and maturing. Our attitudes, values and beliefs are changing, so what we consider to be the perfect job changes as well. We gain experience and our perspective alters. For example, as a child, a person’s dream job may have been that of a fireman, but as the person matures, it may become a robotics engineer.

The job may change also as the parts that form the job change. For example, you may love your job, but you may get a new boss or new coworkers, or there may be changes in company operations or policy that affect your job, and suddenly it is no longer a dream job.

The march of progress may also change your image of a dream job. Technology is creating new jobs all the time, while rendering others obsolete.

It’s natural for your dream job to change over time as you move through your career.  There is nothing wrong with that. What you need to avoid, however, is chasing after a chimera, something that doesn’t exist, except in your mind.

Rather than focusing on some mythical dream job, strive to grow and develop in your career, to enhance your opportunities and options. Even if you don’t land a job you love immediately, as you advance in your working life, you will move closer to your dream job. Every experience is valuable if you learn from it and grow from it. Finding the perfect job is more of a journey, one that is not a straight line, but one that involves trial and error, and testing things out.

Speaking of trying things out, if you’re not sure what type of career you want, consider working as a temporary associate at Helpmates and give different types of jobs and industries a shot. Take a look at some of our current openings and if one or more piques your interest, following application instructions or contact the Helpmates branch nearest you.

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