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13 Things To Do When Your Job Search Drags On

13 Things To Do When Your Job Search Drags On

Ah, unemployment! It’s so interesting to observe how individuals respond to losing their jobs. The normal emotions of panic, shock, anger, bitterness, and dejection all set in. For most people, the emotions pass, and the task of a job search sets in. Personally, I have been in this “limbo land” three times during my career, and each time my response and response-time changed. By the third time, I had this whole process mastered because I had learned some important lessons.

1. Limit Pity Time

My third time without a job garnered the anger and bitterness response, but I gave myself 24 hours — literally. I poured myself a drink (maybe two), I wallowed in my anger, and just let it roll on. Funny thing is, when you do this, you will actually be over it before the 24 hours is up. Then, you begin to focus on developing a plan for a job search.  And that job search can drag on and on, so you have to prepare yourself in advance for all of the things that are headed your way and develop some pretty thick skin.

2. Fine-Tune And Add To Your Hard And Soft Skills

Take a hard long look at the skill sets of your profession. Are they hard or primarily soft? If you intend to stay in your field, then do something that will add to those skills. Take a class (even if it is mid-semester, there are plenty of online courses you can begin anytime) to add to your hard skills. You must stay current in your field even if you don’t’ have a job.

If your skills are primarily soft (like HR, management, or sales), then get a couple of the newest books on the subject. Not only will you get some fresh ideas, but it will be great if you can mention a couple of authors or titles during an interview!

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3. Clean Up Your Social Media Presence

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, get one and make it shine. If you don’t know how to do this, there are plenty of people out there who do this for a living — spend the money to make it stunning. Once you get on, join groups in your career field, participate in discussions, and build a network. You never know where an opportunity might come from.

Potential employers will probably look over your profile, so keep it up to date. The nice thing about LinkedIn these days is that it is fast becoming a clearinghouse for jobs. Employers are posting positions and actually looking for candidates who fit their requirements. This is why you want that profile to be just right. It should contain all of the keywords about your skill sets because employers search for those keywords.

Those off-color jokes and other inappropriate stuff that your friends are posting to your Facebook timeline? Get rid of them and learn how to set your privacy settings so that there are only certain things a non-friend can see. And don’t you dare post anything on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else that bashes a former employer or company — that’s a perfect way to never get an interview!

4. Keep The Right Attitude

This is a tough one, especially when you keep getting ignored or rejected. There is no magic wand to keep out the negativity, but something that worked for me was this: Every time I found myself sinking into negative thinking, I literally slapped myself in the face, and that was my signal to stop and to immediately put my thought elsewhere or do something that made me feel good.

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Surely, you can find things in your career that were great successes — pull those up from the recesses of your memory. Think about what you have achieved so far in your life; get out and do something that is altruistic. For me, it was volunteering two mornings a week at the animal shelter. There was just something about caring for helpless creatures that made me feel really grateful for all that I had, and I would always return with a renewed spirit to press on. You need to remember this: When your attitude is poor it shows up in your cover letters, in your email correspondence, in your phone conversations, and in your interviews.

5. Consider If This Situation Is An Omen

I don’t mean omen in the spiritualistic sense, but I do believe that sometimes we unconsciously set up situations to force us to do what we probably would rather be doing anyway. I mention this only because, after my third round of unemployment, I began to engage in some serious self-analysis about what I really wanted to do for work.

My answer was to take my great skill set and strike out on my own. It was not particularly easy, but it was amazing how motivated and excited I was, and how much time I was willing to devote to getting my own business started. Don’t get me wrong. This is not an easy endeavor, but if you really want to give this a go, you can get all kinds of help and support and guidance available online and in books for free. For example, I could have hired an attorney at $300 an hour to get myself incorporated, but instead I was able to set up my own limited liability corporation for a fraction of the cost.

6. Hire a Resume Specialist

You may be nervous about finances, but you will be a lot more nervous the longer your unemployment continues. So spend the money and get a local resume specialist, and make sure that they either have graphic design skills or have someone on call for that. The average resume is reviewed for only five to seven seconds, so how do you think yours will stand out if it is the same boring template as everyone else’s? There are lots of unique templates and classy but captivating designs these days — try out one for yourself and see what happens!

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7. Stop Using Stock Cover Letters

If you are too lazy to do the research about a specific company and to write a cover letter that speaks to both the company and to the exact responsibilities of the open position, then you don’t deserve an interview. Get online and research the company; read the job description several times. Create a cover letter that will engage! And if you don’t know how to do that, get the information and take it to that resume specialist.

8. Develop And Maintain A Support System

You are going to have bad days — accept it. But you need supportive people with whom you can talk when you do. These are people who can pump you up, who can get you in a good mood, who will meet you for a drink, and who will spur you on to keep searching and sending out those resumes.

9. Use Only Niche Job Boards

If you get on those huge job boards (e.g. Monster.com), your resume will be among hundreds for the positions in which you are interested. Get on job boards that are specifically for you career niche. The number of applicants will be far fewer and the chances of having your resume actually read will be much greater.

10. Take A Break

You may not feel as if you can take a beach vacation right now, but how about going out of town to visit a favorite cousin or friend for a few days? Just getting out of the job search environment will give you something else to focus on, and you will come back with a better spirit. If you don’t have someone to visit, register for a conference, or take a day trip.

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11. Stay Physically Active

Whether you join a gym or not, there are ways to get in good exercise. Ride a bike, jog or power walk, swim, get rid of your lawn service and mow it yourself, get outside and engage in physical labor around the house. Plant a garden, pull weeds, trim bushes, paint — do all of those things that you thought you might get to at some point. Physical exercise releases endorphins, those feel-good hormones that keep your thoughts positive and give you energy. And you do want energy right now.

12. Eat Well

Just as physical activity is important, so is your diet. Make certain that you are getting plenty of fiber, fruits and veggies, and healthy protein. Not only will you feel better, but you will have good energy.

13. Seek Advice From A Career Coach

If you are just not getting the interviews or the call-backs, you may need to meet with a professional career coach. A good one can conduct some great assessments of your strengths and weaknesses, can evaluate your skill sets, and can develop a personalized program of improvement and career search.

If you don’t do that, at least look to those you know in your career field and ask for job search advice. But remember this: Career coaches do not have any history with you, and they will be brutally honest. Others you know may not be.

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Elena Prokopets

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

More Resources About Achieving Business Success

Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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