Sunday, January 24, 2010

reBlog from Why Al Gore Shouldn’t Be This Year’s SHRM Annual Keynote Speaker

BERLIN - OCTOBER 23:  German Chancellor Angela...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Michael VanDervort invited me to take the opposition view to the announcement that SHRM is hosting Al Gore as the keynote speaker this summer at the annual conference. He posted my article yesterday on his site And it's since been picked up by other sites. The Human Capital League is one of them. Here it is:

It’s been a few days now since SHRM proudly announced that Al Gore will be this year’s keynote speaker in San Diego.  And my mind is still swinging so wildly from befuddlement (in the benign moments) to outright outrage (in moments of clarity) that I’m having a really hard time focusing on my work. Since a large part of my work is writing (specifically writing about HR), I’m thinking that if I get it out of my system this way, I can return to more pressing matters at hand. But then again, maybe this exercise will put me in an even bigger (I just typed, “bitter,” Freudian?) swivet.  I guess time will, Why Al Gore Shouldn’t Be This Year’s SHRM Annual Keynote Speaker, Jan 2010

In the ensuing article, I list a large number of reasons why I think it's a really bad idea.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Best Resolutions for HR in 2010

No matter what the year, not matter what the economy, this is traditionally the time for introspection; looking back and looking forward to the months ahead of us. And this past year is certainly one to put behind us as quickly as possible.

Every year I enjoy putting together this list of Best Resolutions for HR, primarily because each list is an advance peak at the tone and concerns of the year ahead of us. And, because HR is the custodian of the experience of most people who work around the world, what you have to look forward to is an accurate reflection of what working people everywhere have to look forward to.

So I wasn’t surprised that this year’s round of Best Resolutions have taken on a distinctly philosophical point of view.

Resolution 1: I will learn like I’m going to live forever, but live like I’m going to die tomorrow. Says Mary Cheddie, senior vice president of HR for Interval International: “In the macro-economic environment we’re all experiencing, it’s critical that we in HR understand what’s in every nook and every cranny of our business. As HR professionals, we must continue to learn. We have to get out into the organization and with other business leaders and professions.”

For the many HR professionals who have lost their jobs this year, Mary has this advice around the second half of her resolution: “It’s time to stop and consider what’s important to you personally. What do you love to do? What do you want to do? What do you need to do? I’ve known many people who, when they find they’re out of work, use this as an opportunity to change the direction of their lives and do something they love to do. If you’ve lost your job, find your passion. And go for it. Love what you do every day. That’s the secret of life.”

Resolution 2: I will not let a job description define who I am and all that I have to give to the world. Tiane Mitchell Gordon, AOL’s senior vice president of diversity and inclusion, says, “We often only think of ourselves in a singular dimension. And then we judge our successes and failures by that one dimension. We shouldn’t define ourselves by one little thing.”

This singular point of focus is unhealthy in the best of times. But in this era when people are losing their jobs without notice, it can be particularly devastating. Says Tiane: “Because so many people are tied up with their paying job, that’s how they think of themselves, without considering their greater worth beyond their job roles. But that’s not their only identity that they should be focused on.

“It’s very hard for me to separate who I am at a personal level from who I am at a professional level. The two intertwine for me. And in our roles in HR especially, it’s so important that we bring all aspects of who we are to the work we do. Then, not only do we have more to give the people we work with, but we have more to give the world outside of our jobs.”

Resolution 3: I will redouble my efforts around employee engagement. For some employers (but certainly not you, right?), the notion of employee engagement might sound quaint and dated, especially given the current climate of layoffs and unemployment. The last time I heard, "they should just be glad they have a job" was back in the late 70s. And even though several recessions have come and gone between since, never has the employment climate been this brutal as it is right now. So, where does that leave the discipline and practice of employee engagement -- all those wonderful efforts to make sure the corporate culture sustains an environment in which your people can invest their best efforts?

According to Craig Ramsay, former Director of Workforce Research for the famously engaged company, Intuit, and now Vice President Business Development and Managing Director, SF Bay Area, Sirota Survey Intelligence, "It's more important than ever to demonstrate to employees that they're valued assets of the company. Employees have to feel and experience engagement on a daily basis," regardless of what the economy is doing. And, if the economy is perhaps on the upswing, this is definitely an essential time to recommit to the principles around building an engaged culture in which your people know that their talents and efforts are still important to you and your enterprise. This is the time to regain the confidence and trust your people have for your business so they will invest their best in your objectives.

"It's HR's job to make engagement a reality for employees during their daily lives. Work with your leaders to define and commit to what that experience should be and then help them change their behaviors to shape that experience. This isn't about installing elaborate new programs. It's about ensuring that your people -- all the survivors of these last few years -- feel valued. Help them reconnect with the goals and interests of your company."

Resolution 4: I will resolve to do what’s necessary to keep high performers engaged and passionate about the organization. Says Lynne Zappone, senior vice president, Americas HR and Global Learning for the Intercontinental Hotels Group, “We have a big commitment and focus on high-potential talent. We have to constantly be looking or opportunities to help them grow and develop….We have an employment brand that says we make a commitment to give our people room to grow. And we want to stand by that and deliver on it."

Resolution 5: I will tell the truth as an act of respect for my people. Says Kristin Kelley, HR Leader, Owens Corning, “Having respect for people goes hand-in-hand with having the heart to tell them the truth. So often we don’t want to give people feedback because it makes them uncomfortable or we don’t want to hurt their feelings. But you’re not respecting someone by not confronting what needs to be confronted inside the organization. Sometimes telling someone the truth is the nicest thing you can do for that person.

“Having the right people in the right roles has never been more critical, especially if we’re ramping up this year. It’s not acceptable to settle for any talent that’s not performing at the level you need them to perform at. Helping people be really clear around what their job is and setting really meaningful goals is truly the biggest impace that HR can help an organization make.”

Resolution 6: I will seek to inspire others to strive for greatness. Says Arte Nathan, president, Strategic Development Worldwide, “HR has always been more inspirational than technical. It’s the inspirational stuff that helps organizations be great. The world in which we live is full of things to do and rarely leaves time to dream. So someone has to remind others to take that time. This includes helping others remember that the best days are ahead of us.

“Part of inspiration is believing in tomorrow. Organizations need to be filled with people who are not only good at what they do but who also believe that they will always be better. In HR we have to dream. We have to help others to dream.”

My dream for you is that you have a wonderful 2010.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Really Crappy Advice -- And How to Keep It From Killing You

In recent weeks I’ve been watching events unfold in Sedona — that whole James Arthur Ray thing and how people died in an ersatz sweat lodge. I suppose for many people, a terrible event such as this (where people paid $9,000 for the privilege of dying a horrible death, surrounded in the gloom by their vomiting and fainting companions) is so exotic that most people might think, “that could never happen to me.” And that would probably be true.

However, this whole clutch of motivation and self-help teachers has been bugging me over recent years. Most of them are pretty small potatoes. But they promise big, and encourage people to take risks with their money, relationships, future, and careers that they might not otherwise take. The cumulative effect of little damages everywhere can be very destructive indeed. I’m worried that the general public might be even more at risk as the economy continues its stagger, stagger, crawl mode. These are emotional frontiers we’re in, folks, and the woods are lousy with snake oil salesmen – people who promise to give you a breakthrough secret to life in a week or a weekend, for the price of a semester of college or a small car.

I have had in my bookshelf for a couple of years now the book, SHAM, by Stephen Salerno. And I’ve been really reluctant to read it. Primarily because I knew he would blow the lid off of the mechanics behind self-help gurus and their business models. And at the time I was also reading Martin Seligman (the very legitimate founder of the very legitimate positive psychology movement), and I was also dabbling in more than a little Jack Canfield, Tony Robbins, Marianne Williamson and even Joel Osteen. And, frankly, I still like the way their messages make me feel. And while I certainly didn’t buy The Secret’s promises hook, link and sucker (I mean, sinker), having grown up in a family whose mantra was mainly, “ain’t it awful, ain’t it tragic,” I knew there is definitely something to be said for willfully focusing on the positive side of things. A positive attitude is more conducive to creative thinking and endurance during a time where everything seems to be hitting the fan. At least it makes the ride a little more tolerable.

But I also know a manipulative head-game when I see one. (At least I hope I do.) I certainly learned to recognize the signs when I bought into one, much to my ever-lasting regret pretty quickly thereafter. So, I thought I’d lay out a list of danger signs for you – with the hopes of helping you keep your money in your pocket. (I get the fact that this could mean that I might miss out on a few sales of my own books – but at the end of this post I’m actually going to offer you my first book for free. I won’t even ask you for your email address as one of those cheesy quid pro quo gambits.)

Avoid any course with titles containing such words as “breakthrough,” “success,” “transform,” “dream,” “vortex”and whose tuition includes a comma. Speaking from personal experience here. These kinds of courses are mostly warmed over material drawn directly from the texts of books that you can purchase for $20 to $30. There will be much playing of John Denver and hugging of total strangers — most who look like they either haven’t been hugged in decades or they’re really really really looking forward to hugging you. The break times are dedicated to urging you to sign up for the advanced course at twice the price (but today – and only today – slashed to the same amount you just paid for the basic course). My memories of those break times involve softly trance-inducing singing from the stage and a certain zombie-ness of the people moving to the back of the room where tables are conveniently set up, where staffers cheerfully accepted credit cards. Did I get anything of value from that basic week? Yes…my mastermind group is still intact after almost five years. We meet on the phone every other week and have become supportive friends. But have our circumstances changed significantly since we met that that “breakthrough” week? Nope. (As you can imagine, I’m usually the cranky one on our phone calls.)

If you go to any course with a title that includes the words “spirit,” “warrior,” “vision quest,” make sure there is an EMT on call at all times before laying your money down. Most spiritual quests are flat-out scary. Who are these people to say they know the way, and will lead us there through a regimen of fasting, meditation and bodily deprivation? The way people refer to spirituality as Spirit, as if Spirit is their next door neighbor with handy cable piracy skills, is revolting. And the way white Americans romanticize the mysteries of Native American life and traditions is deeply hypocritical or willfully shallow. If they’re so enchanted by the Native American way, how about coming out to the Southwest, don’t stop at the spas or casinos, and spend that week teaching Native American children to say no to crystal meth addiction and alcoholism? Share the inspiring benefits of your own education, skills and privilege, rather than trying to siphon off a few sips of mysticism from authentic traditions that you will never get anyway?

If someone wants to teach you how to be rich (for whatever price), first find out how he got rich himself. Look at the frequent fliers of this particular line of work, and you’ll find out that most of them got rich by sticking their hands into pockets of people just like you (and me). And they’re getting richer. Did he ever grow a company, other than the staff of eager minions he has working for him now? Did he turn around a major corporation? Did he emerge from his own family of alcoholics and desperados to blaze his own trail by making something or contributing something useful to society (that is other than an ultra-expensive retreat)? Is he an unimpeachable researcher who has the gift of translating esoteric, hard-to-understand information into immediately useful ideas that anyone can have for the price of a book? That might be someone worth paying some attention to.

When someone tells you that you’re nowhere without his secrets or gift, laugh and walk away. Need I say more? Okay, I will. I know of one so-called Buddhist guru (she’s American) who actually replaced the words “Higher Power” in the 12 Step Program with her own name. That’s amazing. But what’s even more amazing is that hundreds of otherwise intelligent people said, “Duh, okay.”

Just say no to any product marketed to you via email by someone you’ve never heard of but endorsed by someone you have. These people exchange mailing lists, knowing full well that purchasers of self-help products are the most likely to come back for more and more. The cynicism is mind-blowing.

Avoid self-help books that were Number 1 on Amazon for, like, three hours one day. Again, it’s the lists at work. These people know how to game the system and they use each others’ lists to snag that coveted spot, even for an instant. This way they can call themselves “bestselling authors.” Big whup.

Don’t give up your own dreams. Life is full of true mysteries. My personal favorite one is the mystery of synchronicity. I’m a total sucker for those stories, and I have true, first-hand stories of my own that would curl your hair. But I wouldn’t bet the ranch on a synchronicity that I perceive to be an omen. (Even though, in my heart of hearts, I kind of hope it is.)

We all need fresh infusions of inspiration now and then. And personal growth does involve keeping your mind open and venturing into uncomfortable zones now and then. But no breakthrough experience should involve group puking or even close bodily contact with strangers to the strains of “Sunshine On My Shoulders.”

Keep your wallet in your pants. Or purse.

(Now for the free offer: I will give you a free copy of my very first book, Find Your Calling, Love Your Life. For absolutely nothing. Not even your email address. Just click the green button on the home page of Unlock the Hidden Job Market, and it will lead you to free downloads. You can also have a free sample chapter of our new book, Unlock the Hidden Job Market. Naturally, Duncan and I would love it if you also purchased that book. But you know what? You don’t have to.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Are You Too Shy To Network?

My friend Patricia is probably the only person I would call a natural networker. Her worldly possessions have been in storage for most of the last 10 years as she goes where her heart tells her to (always beautiful places: Hawaii; Aspen; Naples, FL; San Diego; hey! Why not?). Jobs and projects fall into her lap no matter where she goes (and right now she’s in Austria after having spent a couple of weeks in Spain). She always has friends to stay with or a house to borrow. I would say she’s female version of Tim Ferris. But she’s her own self. And she makes her way in the world through relationships she builds along the way.

You ever have one of those right-words-at-the-right-time moments that blasts all your illusions away? Patricia gave me the right words at the right time and showed me the way to think about networking. It was a few years ago while she was visiting me on Cape Cod. I was feeling rudderless, pitiful, unnecessary, unwanted, all those un’s that make it such a drag to get up in the morning. Patricia and I were sitting in the livingroom wrapped in blankets and drinking coffee (well, she was drinking herbal tea, of course). I was saying that I just couldn’t bring myself to knocking on Cape Cod businesses begging for a job. And she gently said this:

“It’s not about what you need, it’s about what you can contribute.”



I’d been thinking about networking all wrong! It wasn’t about what a pitiful needy, loser, user I was. It was about letting the world know that I was here to help. Patricia certainly isn’t a needy, loser, user. She moves through the world like a queen (in a good way), and people take their cue from her – treating her accordingly. And she benefits a lot of lives as she goes. She may not have a permanent address (other than her Naples PO box). But she has real friends who love her, and she earns an honest living (thanks to laptops and cell phones), growing spiritually, emotionally and professionally along the way.

You may not want to live the life that Patricia has (although, for me, every time she breezes through Santa Fe, where I live right now, ever fiber of my being screams ROAD TRIP!). And you may not have the flexibility of treating the entire planet as your own personal marketplace.

But then again, maybe you do. At the very least the marketplace that you most naturally belong to needs you! But it may not know you’re there. If your resistance to networking is keeping you shy, I don’t blame you. So maybe the thing to do is examine your beliefs around networking. And maybe change your mind just a little.

Networking is a waste of time. It could be, depending on what you expect from your networking activities. If you want a job right this very minute (of course you do, just bear with me here for a minute), you’re probably going to think that networking activities are a waste of time because what are the chances that any given networking encounter will result in a job offer? To be honest – practically zero.

Yes, I get that you need a job – right this very minute. And networking will eventually bring you that job. But it’s a cumulative effect kind of thing. One person leads to another who leads to another who leads to five others. As my coauthor for Unlock the Hidden Job Market, Duncan Mathison, says: Networking is about planting seeds. Lots and lots of them. Some will sprout. But the more networking you do, the more of those seedlings will sprout. And some – not to drive a metaphor in the ground or anything – will bear fruit.

Still not convinced? What are the chances that staying at home will result in a job offer? Guaranteed: Zeeee-roe.

Most of the people I meet at networking events are people who are out of work themselves. That's probably true. Those networking events are the worst. They suck the life right out of you. They waste your time. And feed your growing sense of despair and overwhelm. So. Stop going to them.

Networking is not about going to networking events. It’s meeting people one-on-one, showing sincere interest in what they do, your shared industry or profession, your community, future trends, ideas, etc.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t network with other people who are out of jobs. But still make those one-on-one events, high-quality conversations where both of you end up with a growing list of ideas, connections, phone numbers, companies, introductions.

People don’t want to meet me. How do you know? Somewhere someone needs you. And that will only happen if you get the heck out of the house.

Just because you don’t have a job, that doesn’t mean you don’t have value and that you have nothing to contribute. People need you. To use Patricia’s philosophy: Get out and find out who they are. Under other conditions would you let negative self-talk prevent you from lending a hand where your unique strengths and gifts can really make life easier for someone? Of course not. So why let the inner gremlins have the power now?

People only want to hire to people who already have jobs. That’s a myth. If you’re unemployed right now, you actually have some advantages working for you. You’re available now. You’re not coming in with that entitled “what can you do for me” attitude. You won’t be taking their offer back to your current boss to try to snag a sweeter offer. Everyone knows that really great talent is on the loose right now because of the massive trend of lay-offs. The fact that you’re between jobs right now is not a black mark on your record. It’s just one of those things.

There’s no point in starting now, since the holidays are around the corner. Wrong. This is absolutely a terrific time to look for a job. Budgets are being formulated for Q1. So while you might not start until January 1, you’d be making great use of your holidays by networking your brains out. And just think, if everyone else thinks that there’s no point in job hunting right now, you are out there with very little competition.

For a great article on this subject, check out: T’is The Season To Follow the Money.

I look like hell. That might be true. If you’ve been stuck at home all day, not having seen the business end of a razor in weeks, it might be time to put on your go-to-meetin’ clothes (assuming they still fit) and see if your car will start.

Not judging here. In recent months I’ve been stuck at home writing books. Yoga pants and t-shirts have been my friends. My business clothes have been on the floor, serving as bedding for the cats. And just yesterday I spotted a coyote sauntering past my windows. And, while I was admiring its glossy coat and bushy tail, the thought came to me that it is better groomed that I am. I picked up the phone and made an appointment. For tomorrow. Can’t wait.

If you look like hell, you know what to do. You probably won’t look like Heidi Klum, once you’ve spruced up. But you won’t look like Tom Hanks in Castaway either.

People will know that I’m only networking because I need a job. So what? You’re not the only one looking for a job. The question is: are you the person they’re looking for? It’s up to you how they’ll regard you. They’ll take their cues from you. If you act ashamed or frustrated, they’ll pick up shame and frustration and treat you like you have a contagious disease. Figure out what it will take to behave with confidence, calm and professionalism. And do that.

Focus your conversation not on what you need but on what they need, what they think, who they might introduce you to, who you might introduce them to, etc. Remember: It’s about contribution, not need.

I’ve already done everything I can think of to get my resume into circulation. No you haven’t. Networking is not about bugging your family, friends, the Rotor Rooter man. A reader actually wrote to me saying that she gave her resume to her mail carrier.

Networking is about expanding your circles of contacts, acquaintances, colleagues. It’s about making lists of people and their phone numbers. Then picking up the phone and calling those folks. It’s difficult, I know, especially for people who don’t enjoy calling strangers. But remember, you’re calling colleagues and peers…people you have something or someone in common with.

These are people you might be able to help.

And that’s what it’s all about.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why "Job Clubs" Are Bad For You

Not that you need the assist, but let’s make this really simple anyway. If you were desperately looking for a gallon of milk, where would you go? To a place where other people who were desperately looking for milk are hanging out? I’m guessing probably not. You’d probably go where there’s milk. Or at least talk to someone you’re pretty sure would know where to find said milk.

So what’s with this trend of job seekers joining job clubs — groups of other job seekers – all equally frustrated in the fact that they’re having trouble meeting people who might have a job possibility up their sleeve? That is not networking. That is wasting your time.

Does that sound harsh? Surely you’ll meet some very interesting, valuable people in these groups. Of course you will. But meet them under different circumstances (like a local volunteer endeavor where you gather to give back to the community, for instance), not when the only thing you have in common is a sense of expiring hope that somewhere in this world there might be a job with your name on it.

This is why these groups are bad for you:

* The time you’re spending with these people is time you could be actively meeting people who actually have leads and introductions that will eventually land you the job you’re looking for.
* They’re convened based on the commonality that everyone in the group is out of work.
* They often do not benefit from the leadership of a professional, such as a truly excellent job search advisor. A well-meaning one, maybe. But that won’t get you the job you want.
* The loudest woe-is-me’er tends to dominate the group’s culture, sending everyone into the Pit of Despair.
* The people there know less about finding a job than you do (you’re here, after all!). And pretty soon your beliefs will be skewed toward hopelessness.
* You will start to think of these meetings as actual networking events. They’re commiserating events. Commiserating events won’t get you where you want to go. No!
* Job club members are likely to be more interested in handing you their resume than really doing anything productive with yours.
* You’re likely to get a lot of stupid advice on how to create the perfect resume (there is no such thing) or put your best foot forward in a job interview (let’s make this simple too: Blow your nose, straighten your tie, be on time, be yourself, be genuinely curious about the person you’re speaking with, no pat answers, no goofy gimmicks, no begging [even subliminally], remember you’re a grown-up with tons of value to offer the world).
* You’ll feel really bad when you do land your job and you have to leave these folks behind.

So what should you be doing with your networking time? Meeting working people in their offices. Your counterparts in companies where you might like to work, preferably soon. Local professors whose expertise is your industry or profession. The membership director of the local chapter of your professional association. Your peers at companies that used to be your competition. People who work for companies or industries you’ve always been curious about but, up until recently, had been too busy working to really set aside the time to explore.

Stay away from groups – especially leaderless groups – where the only thing you have in common with these people is that you’re all looking for your next gig. You’ve got much better things to do with your time.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Feeling Discouraged? How to Re-Energize Your Job Search

Did you happen to see yesterday’s NY Times article about how the nation is flooded with millions of would-be job seekers who have just plain given up? No? Well. Don’t bother. It’s a bummer. (But I linked this article to the online page anyway, just in case you’re like me and you just have to take a look.)

Probably someone somewhere said something along the lines of “Fate favors those who don’t give up.” That only seems to make sense when you’re flying high and everything seems to be clicking in your direction. But when you’re in stagger, stagger, crawl mode, you’re thinking something else. Probably something that includes words that my mommy taught me to never say.

While I can’t change your life for you, maybe I can help you restore your faith in fate and your own future. The name of the game here is to re-energize yourself and your search. Put faith back in the saddle (hey, I live in New Mexico, what do you want?). Since I’ve been dedicating myself to the issue of finding work in rock-hard terrible times, I thought I’d share these tips with you:

1. Adjust your expectations. Ugh. Not helpful, is that? Okay. So let’s look at this just a little more closely: Depending on how old you are, your internal clock that tells you that you should have some hot prospects by now may have been set during recent boom times when all you needed as a pulse and preferably no prison record. One reason why you might be feeling the gut-punch of discouragement at this particular time could be that your clock is out of synch with the mud-slow slog of today’s job market. Know that it will take significantly longer this time to find that great job that really is out there waiting for you, and you’ll be able to handle that one-day-at-a-time approach a little more easily. Every “no” that comes your way takes you one “no” closer to that ultimate “yes.” Salespeople will tell you that.
2. Keep your funnel full. Salespeople will also tell you about how important it is to have a full and busy calendar of appointments with prospects, networking partners, information sources, etc. Knowing that you always have new opportunities coming up will keep you relatively relaxed as you deal with the one currently on your agenda. A dud meeting won’t feel so apocalyptic when you have more appointments to look forward to. Don’t let an empty calendar catch you flat-footed and discouraged. It’s awfully hard to get that funnel flowing again when it’s gone bone-dry.
3. Lay off the sugar, fat, and booze (I don’t have to mention the other stuff, right?). Comfort eating will suck the life and spirit right out of you. You’ve seen people eat crawfish in Louisiana right? It’s like that when you eat for coping. Buh-leeve me, I know. Plus, glazed-over eyes and gaposis don’t count as business casual.
4. Expand your networking. My coauthor, Duncan Mathison, for our new book, Unlock the Hidden Job Market, says that the first wall of discouragement that job seekers hit is when they’ve handed their resume out to all their friends and business contacts with the request that they pass it along to their contacts. And then they wait for a job interview to come back like a bottle in the tide. As Dr. Phil says, “How’s that working for you?” Bust out of your immediate clusters of social and work contacts and reach out to people you might not have thought of yet. Professors. Reporters. Your employed counterparts in other companies. The membership director of your professional association. Even Mom’s church friends. In our book, Duncan tells the story of one guy who got his new great job because a church friend of his mother’s had a daughter who…. You just never know.
5. Seek out networking relationships with people who truly have something to offer. Now is not the time to be codependent. You don’t to be a heartless user either, of course. (But you wouldn’t do that anyway, right?) Just like the tip from #3, keep your networking diet filled with healthy, positive people who are functioning in society. You might feel like you’re being compassionate and understanding listening to someone’s problems for the umpteenth time. You’re not. You’re being enabling. And look where it’s getting you.
6. Expand your ideas of what a great career and/or industry might be out there. The steam might have run out on your current professional train. Don’t rage against the wind that no one wants what you do anymore. What good will that do you? Think about all the different ways you can put what you do into good use. Perhaps another industry? Another customer base? Another part of the corporate organization? Maybe the government? Strip away all the external contexts that surround your skills, look at what you offer in terms of the value you bring to a potential employer. And speak to that. Who you can be, not who you once were.
7. Always be ready to talk to strangers. If you follow this blog, you know the story about how I met a guy on a plane from Albuquerque to Dallas, found out that his wife was threatening divorce if he didn’t find a job in Albuquerque. When I reached my hotel room in Connecticut that night, I sent off an email to an HR person at a big manufacturer in Albuquerque. Long story short, he got the job. And it wasn’t ever advertised. You just never know who knows whom. By the way: The missus still divorced him. Can’t win ‘em all.
8. Remember that any conversation can turn into a job lead. I once met someone in the ladies room on the 32nd floor of a mid-town NY skyscraper. Why I was in my underwear at the time is beside the point. But I was. She was the office manager of The Cousteau Society. The position of membership correspondent had just opened up. One thing led to another, and soon I was drinking Perrier and eating brie next to The Captain himself. You just never know.
9. Stop relying on the system. Online job boards are good but they should only take up a fraction of your job search time. Maybe a few years ago, they spat out job leads like tennis balls out of those scary machines. But not anymore. You’ve got to be proactive in your job search. You say you are being proactive? Good. Now. Be more proactive.
10. Be grateful that you’re unemployed. Pretty sick, huh? The thing of it is: In this terrible market, you have to use all your time to search for that next great job. This isn’t a spectator sport anymore. You’ve got to be out there swinging. It’s said that 70% of all job opportunities are never published, so plumbing the hidden job market is the way to find that great job that’s out there waiting for you. If you were holding down a job (probably one that you wouldn’t like but would be too afraid to quit), you wouldn’t have the time to meet the people who will ultimately introduce you to the people who will have the job you would really be happy with.
11. Redesign your goals. The job will come. But it probably won’t happen today. But you can still be successful today. How many phone calls can you make today? Can you set three up more appointments? Can you research 10 new businesses or industries that might be a good fit for your skills and values. Of course you can. Every day you’ve got a job. And this is a job you can do. And once you realize how much control you really do have, you’ll start to feel re-energized.

Note from Martha: These principles were borrowed from my new book, Unlock The Hidden Job Market: 6 Steps to a Successful Job Search When Times Are Tough, which I coauthored with Duncan Mathison, who spent nearly 20 years at outplacement firm Drake Beam Morin helping executives land their next great jobs. Please pass this on to everyone you know who is out there hammering away at the job market!