Find a Champion

Who lights your fire?

"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." -  Albert Schweitzer

When we attempt new things in life, the first thing we normally do is turn to friends and family for support and guidance. So why, when it comes to job hunting, do most people try to figure it out all by themselves? I actually know the answer: so much of our identity is wrapped up in what we do for a living that when our job security is threatened (or worse, if our job goes away), our self-confidence gets badly shaken. That can leave you feeling vulnerable, and unsure of where to turn. If you're still trying to sort out what just happened to you, fielding questions from people about it can be really uncomfortable. I get it. I really do. But I also know that you need other people to help you find the job you want. Less than 10% of people find jobs by applying online. Over 80% find them through their network of friends, family and other acquaintances. But they cannot help you if they don't know you are looking. You have got to let them in.

Terry's success story: A job in just 2 weeks 

“Unbelievable! Just 2 weeks ago, I was in high anxiety about whether I could make a living, and I just accepted an offer! It worked! Thank you!” – Terry T., Regional Vice President

Terry was at her wit's end when she turned to our program for help. She'd been unemployed for over 6 months and had not gotten one single interview. Over the age of 60, she was convinced that her age was the issue. We turned her loose in our online system, and she didn't need to go any further than this little section. It turns out, she hadn't told any of her friends or former coworkers (the people who know her and know how great she is!) that she had lost her job. After watching this video, she found the courage to start calling people who she had worked with in the past. Three phone calls later, she got a job. I'm not kidding! Just three phone calls, and she got hired! That could happen to you, too! 

Jennifer's success story: A new job in just 2 days!

"It worked! In just 2 days! Can you believe it? I can't. Thank you so much." - Jennifer F., Design consultant

Jennifer knew that she should call her former coworkers to find a job, but she had been too uncomfortable to make those calls. Our "What to say" networking section gave her everything she needed (scripts, tips and tricks). The best part? She only had to make three phone calls before one guy said to her "Are you kidding me? You're available right now? My company is hiring! When can you start?" Our networking videos and tools gave her the confidence (and courage) to make those scary phone calls. 

What if your friends don't have jobs for you right away?

Not everyone can be that lucky that fast. Your job search might take a little longer, and the people you reach out to may not know about a job for you right now. That's okay! They might hear about something for you tomorrow. 

Your friends can do much more for you than just find you open positions. They can boost you up on the really hard days. Quite frankly, the hardest part of finding a new job is keeping your confidence and enthusiasm up. Champions ... the people who you specifically ask to help you through this ... will be a fabulous lifeline for you on those hard, hard days (like the day you get turned down for a job you really wanted). 

On the power of friendship: Do not underestimate the importance of having positive people to support you during your job hunt. Surround yourself with people who adore you and support you. Get rid of those who don’t—at least for now (if not forever). It helps if you have friends who believe in you. Many times your champion will believe in you and your dreams, even when you have your doubts. You need that during your search for a new job.

Here are some tips on how to find a great champion (coach):

Be specific when you ask someone to be your champion or coach. He or she will need to know what you want and need from them to be there for you in the right way. This is the person you can trust to let you know when you are straying from your goal; someone who will be there for you on the really tough days. Set clear expectations on both sides and plan to connect regularly for updates. More suggestions for you:

  • Find a friend (or two, or three!)
  • Ask that friend to be your coach or champion 
  • Set clear expectations of them and you
  • Plan regular meetings
  • Don't ask for too little
  • Don't ask for too much

Professionally, you can ask for support from someone who has worked alongside you. Choose someone who understands your strengths, weaknesses, and passions as they relate to your work. This is usually not someone with whom you can voice your anger and frustrations. (Save those feelings for your personal champion.) Ask this person to help you tell your professional story, remind you of what makes you great, review your resume, and to help you figure out where you’ll find the job you want and need.

Do not try to do this alone. Lean on people and they will be there for you. Everything in life is easier with other people by your side. You will return the favor, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. But make sure you ask.

How can I ask someone for this much help? I hate asking for help!

It is never easy to ask for help. But you need to do it. The sooner you ask for help, the sooner you’ll find a job. One view of asking for help is this: people actually love to help. Call it the human condition. We each get tremendous satisfaction in helping others. But you have to ask to get that help. If you do not ask, most people are afraid to offer their help— afraid they may offend you by suggesting that you need help.

Yes, this is a very personal and sensitive topic. Yes, it is uncomfortable at times to ask for and get the feedback you need. But what would be worse? Getting direct and honest feedback from someone you know and trust, or getting it from some stranger in an interview, after you bungled the interview for your dream job?

Now ... go call your friends and colleagues! Right now!

If you are still working, you need to be very careful who you trust with the information that you're looking for something new. With acquaintances, the best way to couch it is this: "I'm working on my career plan and I'm starting to explore possibilities for my next career move. I'm particularly interested in seeing what's out there in the (name a job, industry or career that intrigues you right now). Do you happen to know anyone in (that area)?" That delivers a very different message from "I hate my boss, and I want to quit right now." That's a message you should save for people you know and trust very well. That last thing you want is for your boss to hear second hand that you're looking for a new job .. before you're ready to quit. Once you find what you are looking for, you need to quit with your boss first, and let others know about it second.

If you have just lost your job, you need to be much more bold about what you tell people. There are probably some people you’ll want to notify right away. 

Yes, you can wait! But if you want to let people know, here are some tips on how to do it:

Family and friends: Let your close network know immediately. Chances are, you occasionally receive personal emails and calls at work. You don’t want your family and friends to call your old work number. Send a quick email letting people know that you are no longer with that company and give them your new contact details. Then, follow up with phone calls. If you are not sure what to tell people, just keep it simple. When they ask you “What do you want to do next? How can I help?” say, “Thank you so much for offering. This is new (if it is) and I have not had a chance to sit down and make a plan yet. Once I do, I’ll be sure to share it with you.”

No matter how angry or bruised you are (if you got laid off, for instance), keep the message simple and positive. Practice if you have to. Do not send out negative messages, as it will only hurt you in the long run.

Professional acquaintances: Make a list of the business people who should know about the change. You want them to know you are leaving and you also want their help finding something new. If they don’t know, they can’t help you.

Are job clubs a waste of time?

A friend of mine keeps inviting me to go to a job club with him, but I’m not sure it’s a good use of my time. He goes to a couple of them every week, and he says they really help him, but he is still unemployed after 7 months! So, I gotta wonder: are the job clubs really helping him? Will they help me? - Betty

Well, like so many things in life, the truth is this: it depends. It depends on the job club (who runs it, what their mission is and how they run it), but it largely depends on you (what you’re looking for, and how you choose to engage with the group).

When approached correctly, job clubs can be a terrific place to go during a job search. I’ve been running one since 2008, and over 2,600 people have come through our doors since then. 1533 of those folks liked the Easter Job Transitions Group so much, they stay actively connected to us through our LinkedIn group.

At their best, job clubs will help you …

  1. Learn new job search skills
  2. Get job leads & lots of personal introductions
  3. Practice telling your story – clearly and concisely
  4. Build your confidence and courage
  5. Lift you back up again when you get knocked down

At their worst, I’m afraid job clubs can …

  1. Give you ill-informed advice. Did you ever play “telephone” as a kid … where you whisper something in a friend’s ear, who whispers it in another friend’s ear and on and on through 4-5 people? I used to play the game with my three brothers and my sister on long car rides. The message became so diluted by the time it got back to me, we all had a great big laugh. I’m afraid the same thing happens with job search advice, and it is not funny when you are on the receiving end. People really do have the best intentions, but you need to consider the source before acting on any advice.
  2. Discourage you. The truth is, job search can be tough. Some job clubs have started out as a safe place for people to share their war stories (worries and frustrations), but turned into a discouraging vortex of negativity and complaining … without any focus on moving forward. That kind of a group is neither healthy nor helpful. The good news is, these groups are not common.

There are different kinds of job clubs

• Some job clubs are really focused on providing prayer and support during job transition. If that appeals to you, it can be really nice to know you are not alone and join others in guided prayer.

• Other job clubs, like the one I help run in Eagan MN, is focused on providing expert career and job search advice, strong career connections, a forum for sharing job leads and a healthy dose of inspiration. We work very hard to make sure we bring in reputable speakers who actually know what they are talking about, and to keep the spirit of the group positive. We are rather fierce about protecting that culture, and nipping negative tangents in the bud.

• Some job clubs aim to strike a balance between providing strong spiritual guidance (with frequent prayer) and expert job search advice. Networking with Grace in Eden Prairie does a beautiful job of achieving both.

All job clubs are run by volunteers

Set your expectations accordingly. All group leaders and volunteers have great intentions, but like all volunteer efforts, there are bound to be some challenges associated with the clubs. Few job clubs have any money behind them, either … so all the speakers come in there on a pro bono basis and coffee and food is by donation.

What you get out of a group is up to you

How you engage with a group makes a big difference in what you will get out of it. If you show up as a gracious, hungry learner and a generous networker, you can expect to get all the best a job club has to offer (new skills, excellent connections and real job leads, as well as a bucket full of inspiration). As I said, my job transitions group has over 1500 people who were walking in your shoes not too long ago. They are excited to help other people with their job search, which means reaching out to them for networking help and advice is easy. Most job clubs have active and former members who feel the same.

I do highly recommend you try out some groups in your area (most of them are positive and very helpful). Give them each three tries before you decide if it's worth going again or not.

How to find job clubs

If you’re in the Twin Cities, MN do an internet search for “Bruce Hanson Master networking list” and you will find a recent list of local networking groups. If you’re in the Dallas – Fort Worth area, go to CareerDFW.org. Anywhere else, do an internet search for “job clubs” and “networking groups” and see what you can find. Otherwise, ask other people for advice about what networking groups they like to attend.

Brag Book

Hot Tip: Get a little brag book

It is a great idea to get a little brag book you can use to write down your small wins. Yes, a little diary to capture the small successes and big wins during your search for a new job. Learn to see and celebrate the little things. This may sound silly, but it really works. On those tough days when you are feeling discouraged and deflated, you can pull out your little brag book and remind yourself of all the positive things that are happening in your job hunt.

Example

  • Made it through first money conversation (about salary) without stumbling!
  • I made a cold call to XYZ Inc. (called the Chief Financial Officer) and she called me back the next day!
  • Five people returned my calls this week!
  • I went to one of those networking groups.
  • I made 20 calls every day this week. Consistently! The first five made me want to throw up, but after that they got much easier.
  • The VP of IT at 123Company told me I have a fantastic message. Yippee!

Find your happy place

"As mental attitude improves, so does confidence!" - Author unknown

During your job hunt, you need to know how to find your smile. I do not need to tell you that some days and moments are going to be tough. You already know that. You will need something to get yourself through the setbacks and prep you for the tough or scary phone calls and meetings. I like to call that place your “happy place.”

Your champion(s) will not be there for you every minute of every day. For instance, when you are about to walk into an interview, you need something to ground you, to get you over your anxiety and into your strong zone. Find something that makes you happy, that eases the tension. For some of you, it might be a picture of your kids. For others, it might be your favorite music or a motivational speaker you listen to in your car.

If you're hearing voices in your head ...

I often meet job seekers who are so frustrated, they start to believe the stories their media and their friends hype up. Pretty soon, there are voices in their head chanting "I'm too old" or "I'm too female" or "I'm too quiet" or "I'm not good enough" or "Those companies don't want me" or "It's all their fault" ... to name just a few. Any of those voices ring a bell for you?. Put a stop to them right now! The minute they start chirping in your ear, just stop. Do something to change your scenery. Do not let them suck your energy and confidence. 

I've been collecting stories from job seekers for years now (stories about what they do to boost their mood). Here are some of the most popular:

Great ways to boost your mood

  • Call or write a friend
  • Go for a walk
  • Crank up your favorite song
  • Play with your kids (or someone else's)
  • Do your hobby on a regular basis
  • Volunteer. Helping others ALWAYS makes you feel good (and often puts your tough situation into perspective). 
  • Eat yummy and nutritious food
  • Make sure you get a good night's sleep
  • Make sure you get some exercise - somehow (take the stairs, etc.)
  • Watch late-night comedy
  • Avoid the "negative nellies" in my life.
  • Turn off the negative news.
  • Dance!

It really doesn't matter what you do, as long as it fills our gas tank.

Yes, you can do what you love for a living ... but it won't just land in your lap.

“Every morning you have two choices; continue to sleep with your dreams, or wake up and chase them.” - Author Unknown

Disney teamed up with CareerBuilder a few years ago to find out what a dream job really looks like. Most people expected money to top the list as most important to people, but it wasn't. In fact, money was #3 on the list. It turns out that what makes people love their jobs is something entirely different: fun. The survey went on to say that 

"What defines a dream job is surprisingly reminiscent of childhood wishes for many workers. Workers said they want to enjoy their work experience, apply their talents and feel like they’re making an impact. Having fun at work was the most important attribute of a dream job for 39 percent of workers, which heavily outweighed the 12 percent who said salary was most important."

The thing is, what's fun for you is different than what is fun for me. For example, I absolutely love change and variety. You might love consistency. We might even do the same kind of work, but like very different kinds of companies. I know this is true in recruiting. Recruiting for a global IT consulting firm was incredibly different from recruiting on the inside for a huge healthcare company. I was miserable in that corporate recruiting role, even though I was fascinating by the industry (healthcare) and really wanted it to work. 

Only you can decide what is fun for you, and where you want to work. This section is going to show you how.

Key learning objectives in "Explore & Plan"

  • Find your fun (discover where you thrive & where you have the most fun at work)
  • Figure out what you want (isolate your target)
  • Identify the gaps between what you want and your qualifications
  • Name your fears
  • Rank the things that matter most (the job hunt scorecard)

Modules in the Explore & Plan section

  • Step One:  Know what you want (video)
  • “Help! I don’t know what I want!”
  • Meet Joe (How to stand out from the herd) (video)
  • Self-discovery: How to find out what you want (video)
  • Remember your dreams
  • When I was a kid (worksheet)
  • Other people thought … (worksheet)
  • Did you chase your dreams (worksheet)
  • Recapture your passion (video)
  • My passion in life (worksheet)
  • Your work history (video)
  • Assessment: The Career Happiness Chart (worksheet)
  • My favorite teenage job (worksheet)
  • My favorite adult job (worksheet)
  • Know what you do NOT want (non negotiables) (video)
  • The job I hated most (worksheet)
  • My non-negotiables (worksheet)
  • Isolate your target: Now do you know what you want? (video)
  • What I want (worksheet)
  • My “perfect job” (worksheet) 
  • Wait! Is the grass really greener out there?
  • Money matters
  • Identify the gaps (are you really qualified?) (video)
  • Identify the gaps (worksheet)
  • Name your fears (worry and concern) (video)
  • Name your fears (worksheet)
  • So, why do you want a new job? 
  • Job hunt scorecard: Pick the right job for you! (video)
  • Other options to consider
  • Consulting and the new world of work
  • 10 great reasons to consider consulting
  • 6 risks to consider before taking a contract gig
  • You need to know how to get paid
  • Want to start your own business?
  • Top 10 traits of a successful entrepreneur
  • 5 ways to start your own business
  • Top 10 entrepreneur mistakes
  • How to write a business plan
  • 10 ways to boost your success

Stop rewriting your resume!

Then ask yourself: "Is my resume really my problem?" It might be ... but chances are good that something else is causing much more trouble. Most job seekers spend hours (or weeks ... or even months!) fretting over writing the perfect resume, networking and interviewing. While those things certainly are important, the truth is that there are four other things lurking in the wings, stopping you in your tracks.

These four barriers are at the root of procrastination and worry. They will drive you to rewrite your resume ten times, stop you from reaching out to a former coworker and leave you frozen in your tracks ... if you let them. The great news is this: once you know what they are, you can knock them out of your way and get on to a productive job search.

The 4 biggest barriers to job search success

  1. Lack of focus
  2. Lack of action
  3. Fear
  4. Isolation

Next time you start to feel overwhelmed, irritated or unproductive, just ask yourself: which of the four barriers is rearing its ugly head? Once you put your finger on it, you'll realize that it is much easier to stop the madness. Not sure which way to turn? Stop and get re-focused. Make sure you end each day with a list of goals for the next day. Start each day by reviewing that list and updating it as needed. Most of all, make sure you continue to connect with others. You are not alone. There are plenty of people who would love to help you. Stay connected and reach out to friends and acquaintances for suggestions and advice (or even a pep talk on the days you need that).

"Facing your fears robs them of their power." - Mark Burnett