Saturday, May 30, 2009

Put More Energy Into Your Job Search By Atul Mathur

If you are looking for a job, what is the way to stand out from the crowd and improve your chances of getting hired? The answer lies in understanding your conduct in your daily life.

You don’t climb the stairs to reach a higher storey when you can take a lift. You don’t walk up to the TV to flip channels when you can do so with a remote control. And you don’t visit a bank when a transaction can be completed over the Internet.

From dishwashers and washing machines to software, online reservations and ready-to-eat foods, most of the gadgets, technologies and services are aimed at a basic human quest: to minimise effort and time.

When it comes to the job market, however, the tendency to minimise effort and time can prove to be counter-productive. But, if you stay off the path of least effort during your job search, you could enjoy better prospects. Here is how it works:

The resume

The quickest way to apply for a job is to update an old resume and send it out to as many employers as possible. That is the path of least effort, often leading to not-so-favourable outcomes.

First, when you prepare a resume without spending sufficient effort and time on it, it is likely to be longer than necessary, vague, complex, unimpressive and may contain errors.

Second, when you send a standard resume to multiple employers, it fails to connect with their unique requirements and convey your true value. The likely destination of all such resumes is the rejection pile.

If you wish to open doors for interviews, make an effort to:

  • tailor your resume according to each potential employer’s unique needs;

  • keep it short — two or three pages is enough;

  • make the information easy to grasp by using bullets and headings/sub-headings;

  • use short and clear sentences;

  • support your credentials with specific examples and data;

  • and avoid grammatical and spelling errors.

These actions require more effort and time, but they are worth it, for recruiters pay attention to resumes that are relevant, clear and tailored to their unique needs.

Job opportunities

The conventional way to search for a job is to look for openings in the newspaper and on the Internet. In addition, you could try two more simple but proven strategies, which require extra effort.

First, go for networking! Get in touch with all your friends, colleagues and relatives, and seek their help in guiding you to new job opportunities. Networking is like adding 40 to 50 more pairs of eyes to your own to look out for a new job.

Another powerful strategy is to get directly in touch with potential employers even if they have not advertised any vacancies. This method requires guts, but it works if you can contact the right person at the right place.


If you present yourself at an interview with a mindset that an interview is about answering questions, you are part of the crowd. Most people expect recruiters to ask probing questions to dig out relevant information and then make an assessment of their suitability.

Now, imagine a job seeker who takes the lead during an interview to not only demonstrate an understanding of the employer’s challenges, but also shows how she, with her relevant credentials, could meet those challenges. Don’t you think recruiters would be inclined to go for such a promising candidate?

The key is not to present yourself in an interview as a bundle of degrees, certificates and designations. Instead, do your homework before an interview and present yourself as the best solution to the employer’s specific challenges.

The bottom line: Remember, the tendency to go down the path of least effort is natural, but the job market is more likely to reward you if you deliberately put in extra effort at every stage of your job search process.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Story To Share...

There was once a young man who's dad was a jockey and had won many trophies before. He was in awed of his dad's success, thus determined to be like his dad and be a jockey and to win many trophies and to be the best in what he does. He went up to his dad and said, "Dad, I want to be a jockey too, i want to emulate your success."

Since then, he has been training very hard everyday so that he is able to improve himself so much that he will one day, be as good as his dad. And his dad was the one who helped him everyday in his training. His dad, with all the positive intention, had been pushing him and pushing him very hard during the trainings.

There were times when this young man wanted to give up, but he always reminds himself of his dream and goal to emulate his dad's success and that pushes him on. He will be willing to do whatever it takes for him to be as good as his dad is, and to be the best that he can be.

During the trainings, he never understood what it meant, and whenever he asked his dad, the response will be, "Just do, and you will understand later." And so, he followed the dad's training, because he was told to trust what the training will do for him in the future. He knew that other than following the trainings, he is also responsible to find out more about what he can do better to achieve his goal at a faster speed.

Indeed, with all perseverance and initiative, this young man is moving towards his goal steadily. He is flexible enough to be able to change his strategy whenever one doesn't work for him. He is taking every obstacle as his learning experience for him to improve himself further.

With all the refining and testing and measuring all the strategies, he has slowly found what works for him. And with that, he is enjoying what he is doing, and is moving towards his goals..

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Don't Always Run For Cover By Mark Ronez

To succeed at anything, you have to take some risks. Remember the saying: "Nothing ventured, nothing gained"? The trick is to know how to be an effective risk taker. Once you learn how to do this, you can bet on an improvement in your life and career.

Risky business

While you may admire famous successful entrepreneurs and risk takers, when faced with risk, most people play safe and run for cover. This is because people are fearful of making a wrong decision, and focus instead on protective mechanisms, such as avoiding risky activities or delaying difficult choices.

However, risk is a natural part of life. When starting something new, such as a business or project, there are uncertainties and problems involved. For example, there may be little demand for your products, stiff competition or production issues. However, even routine activities involve risk.

Can you ensure you will never lose your job, have an accident or run into difficulties? Of course not! While we can mitigate risks to a certain extent, it is impossible to eliminate them from our lives because risk is inherent in life.

Making decisions

You have to make decisions every day. These range in importance, from deciding whether to take an umbrella with you to which business project to select. For less important issues, you usually do not deliberate much. However, when faced with more important choices that have a major impact, you invest more time and effort in analysing the situation.

Making a rational decision is often tempered by personal biases, emotions and cultural influences. Additionally, insufficient information and time pressures will also affect the final outcome. The ability to make good decisions will affect your success in your private and professional life.

This is particularly true for difficult decisions that can create value for yourself, your organisation or both. Risk and opportunity go hand in hand. You need to limit potentially negative consequences, while optimising the potential benefits of new opportunities.

Risk-taking types

People can be classified according to the following risk-taking profiles.

1. The gambler

Everyone knows someone who makes risky decisions by relying on his gut. This is not proper risk management, but gambling! Gamblers may be lucky a few times, but sooner or later, their luck runs out.

Many start-ups and new ventures are in this category - their managers take high risks with little risk management knowledge, which leads to failure. Over 95 per cent of new organisations created each year are gone within five years of operation.

2. The over-cautious pessimist

At the other extreme, is the guy who believes in Murphy's Law, "If anything can go wrong, it will". Organisations in this stage have a hard time making decisions, because they want to play safe and over-analyse opportunities and issues.

While this mitigates risk to a certain extent, it also prevents creativity and innovation. Organisations often end up missing the opportunities presented to them.

3. The avoid er

This is an unfortunate person who constantly tries to avoid risks by not dealing with reality. Individuals and organisations that adopt this approach ignore problems that eventually blow up in their faces. An example of this is someone who refuses to learn new skills or to make himself more employable by pretending that the workplace has not changed and that his job is for life.

4. The effective risk taker

This is the person who manages risk and makes good decisions. This is a skill set that can be learned and improved upon. By using a logical, systematic and practical approach, individuals and organisations can integrate risk management in decision-making.

Managing risks

When making decisions, it is important to be informed, emotionally aware and rationally capable of analysing seemingly conflicting information and risks to arrive at a sound decision.

Risk management helps you to understand the impact of your decision on all operations. It creates the models and tools to predict outcomes and build countermeasures to prevent unintended and undesirable consequences. The final outcome is minimised risk and higher returns.

As a start, you should:
  • Improve your risk awareness and understand how your ego, emotions and culture influence your perception of risks and the way you make decisions;
  • Change your mindset about risk. Since risk is inherent in the nature of life, learn to become comfortable with taking risks. Risk presents us with new opportunities and makes life exciting;
  • Always do a potential risk analysis when making important decisions; and
  • Learn risk management methodologies and tools to improve your effectiveness as a decision maker.