If there is one thing a reluctant job seeker needs, it’s this: someone or something that deals with all the cruddy aspects of the job search.
No time for sifting through all the online listings to find ones that match your interests, skills and experience? Hate tailoring cover letters for each job application you send off?
No problem! There’s an app for that. Kind of.
While there’s no magic job search widget that is sure to secure you an interview for your dream job, there are a couple of different ways you can outsource your job search and avoid spending time finding and pursuing leads that might not work.
Some people will tell you that outsourcing your job search is a horrible idea. Others will encourage you to explore it. Ultimately, it’s your call. But if you do want to minimize the time you spend before landing interviews, here are some resources you should know about and anecdotes from people who have done it successfully.
Automate, Automate, Automate
MyJobHunter.com is all about automating. You sign up, search all the major job search sites from their interface, check the listings you like, add your resume and cover letter one time, and it will do all the applying for you. It also allows you to activate a feature that will automatically find and apply to new jobs on your behalf. Since a computer is doing the searching, the cost is relatively low — $39.95 for the first month and then $9.95 per month after that.
As you can imagine, the computer doesn’t always get it right. One unemployed sales guy signed up for the service, and MyJobHunter.com sent his resume for a stylist job at the hair salon where his wife works. But the service ultimately did help him land a job even though he was unaware he had applied for it when he was called up for the interview, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Your Man (Or Woman) in India
That same WSJ piece also mentions JobSerf.com, which has been around since 2006. If the idea of a computer sending your resume out willy-nilly irks you, this could be a good alternative.
The company simply outsources the online job searching and applying to its staff in India. Depending on the package you choose, it’ll cost you either $49 or $98 per week. You send them up to five cover letters along with your resume and they will ship ‘em out to jobs they identify based on a data request when you first sign up. Cultural misunderstandings can arise, as the Journal article points out. But the service worked for one About.com writer who got “a couple of responses from employers” after just two weeks.
Legit Jobs for the Gig Economy
The workplace is a’changin’. We’re in the midst of a freelance surge, full of job jugglers and folks who are creating their own jobs. If you’re in this category, FlexJobs might be the answer. Anyone who has looked for a part-time or work-from-home position knows that many times “telecommute” in a job posting actually means scam. FlexJobs aims to solve that problem, by doing the vetting for you and listing “real” flexible jobs.
Back in April, Chelsea Gladden used the site, which costs $14.95 per month, to find a part-time position. “With all the positions hand-screened for me, it was almost as if I got a lot of the ‘pounding the pavement’ part out of the way,” Gladden says, who did not have a lot of time for job searching with five kids at home. She got a freelance writing job “immediately.” Then just a week later, FlexJobs announced they were looking for a director of marketing and PR. The timing was perfect for Gladden who was hired for the position.
Ye Olde Social Network
We all know social networks can be an integral part of the job search — even if you outsource it. If you have the right connections, you can just crowdsource for your next position. Asking your Facebook friends for a job is certainly the lowest cost way to go about your hunt, and it can be very effective. Freelance screenwriter Natalia Lusinski says that working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles means she’s often seeking positions that are word-of-mouth. “I have found many through posting a Facebook status telling people I am searching and what I am looking for. Each time I have done this, it has worked – someone has always known someone else looking for just the job I am seeking,” she wrote in an email.
Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.
You have to work hard to develop the right skills
If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.
1. Make your presentation short and sweet
With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.
JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.
2. Open up with a good ice breaker
At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:
Tugging on their heart strings
Dropping a bombastic statement
Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons
You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.
3. Keep things simple and to the point
Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.
4. Use a healthy dose of humor
Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.
It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.
5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting
Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.
6. Practice your delivery
Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.
7. Move around and use your hands
Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.
8. Engage the audience by making them relate
Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.
9. Use funny images in your slides
Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.
10. End on a more serious note
When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”
As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.