Stephen Harris' JobStuff, a blog for Your career



Stephen Harris, your humble blogger
Welcome to JobStuff
Your Career Transition Blog

Welcome to Job-Stuff. I hope the information and musing here are helpful in your journey through the "Transition-Zone". Please also check out the "Zero To Network Blog", since Business Networking is a major weapon in your job seeking arsenal.

First and foremost, I have walked in your shoes. I had a senior level position at a Fortune 500 company and felt my career was invincible. In prior years, I merely wrote my resume, called a headhunter and posted my job on Monster. And the hiring executives came a callin!

When I was asked to step into the "transition" zone, I dreamt of double dipping on my severance package. Reality: Over a year later, with my severance a distant memory, I finally found a great job.

During my transition, I started a contract services company and also became an Executive Recruiter (aka HeadHunter). I learned a lot about myself during this chapter. And - oh the mistakes I made - which I will share with you here. I believe it is important to laugh at yourself, your mistakes and share them with others, so that you don't make the same ones (I am sure you will make your own, which is how we learn).

I hope you find Job-Stuff Blog helpful in your career transition. Stephen Harris

SPH Associates, Online Marketing Agency




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Career Websites & Blogs:

ZeroToNetwork, a Business Networking Blog

Edugree Career and Education

Work with Passion, Purpose & Profit; Worthwhile Magazine

Senior Success

Semi-Conductor Jobs

QuintCareers, Career Search Resources

Jim Stroud's Revenge of the Jobseeker

Women at Home Networking

BoldCareer, Take Control of your career

Business Opportunities Weblog

Jason's Recruiting Blog

George's Employment Law Blawg

Canadian Headhunter

Dr. Bamster - Career Doctor

Hire Works

AskTheHeadHunter

Occupational Adventure - A Career should light your fire!

Get That Job




Other Blogs you might enjoy:

Apprentice Views - TV Series

David Newman, Marketing

Lori Richardson's Sales Process Diva

FastCompany Blog

Strategize

Creating Customer Evangelists

Tom Peters (Brand Called You and much more)

Think eBiz, eBusiness Strategy News, Views and Ramblings

SPH Associates, An Online Marketing Agency



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Thursday, January 26
Resume Blasting: the story continues

Well readers, it seems my email address is back on the resume blaster spam list (or a purchased email list). Ok it's bad enough if you are out of work and have to resort to resume blast spamming, but alteast write a decent cover letter.

Both letters I received today did not even offer a opening salutation. Here is a snippet of one letter.

I am writing in reference to any executive search opportunities your firm is conducting with:

  • IT Application and/or Infrastructure companies
  • Emerging technology companies – e.g. Biometrics, wireless communications, mission critical networks
  • Defense and/ or Government contracting companies

Please find a copy of my resume pasted and attached for your review. In summary...

First of all, any executive reading this has very little time to figure out how you might fit in their organization (forget the fact that my company does none of the above!). 99.99% of all executives reading this email will delete it before they get past the snippet I have included in this blog.

Readers, remeber when  writing a letter to an executive, do so in a manner that is professional, personalized and focuses on the needs of the target company. Tell me, the busy executive, what YOU can do for ME - and do this within the first two sentences, and I just might read more. Don't ask the executive to figure out if "any" executive level positions are available that may fit my background.

Another example that I received had the same generic approach:

I currently serve as COO and Board member of the xxth fastest growing, publicly traded technology company in the country/second fastest growing in xxxx  ("DeLoitte Fast 500") as well as simultaneously leading several varied crisis/turn around engagements as CRO, COO or interim CFO (these activities allow me to maintain my "independent" status as a director)Previously I've functioned very successfully in the role of CEO in varied manufacturing, distribution and service businesses. I have extensive multi unit, International, M&A, public market and private equity experience.

Unfortunately, another poorly written, impersonal cover letter. What more can I say; don't use these services! If they are helping job seekers to write letters to executives, they are doing a disservice.

Please, don't spend your money on such services. And when writing to a professional recruiter or executive, create a strong compelling cover letter. It will pay dividends that go in your pocket. Because with these spam services, the only one that is profiting is the spammers - in my humble view.


Posted at Thursday, January 26, 2006 by sph001
What do you think?  

Saturday, January 14
Resume Blasting; Don't do it !

Recently I began to receive emails from people who assumed that I am an executive recruiter or a hiring executive. None of thes introductions had anything to due with my business, which made me wonder what was going on.

I found out: my email address was included in a resume blast service, which job seekers paid good money. In other words, someone included my email address in a list for job seekers.

Readers of this blog; my advice is not to pay for such services. Repeat - DO NOT USE YOUR MONEY to pay others to blast your resume out to executives and recruiters. Don't make me repeat myself!

Why is this service a waste? For one, your introduction and resume are going to people like me that are not recruiters nor hiring in positions you seek. Case in point; I received an introduction from an out of work Waste Management Exec, but I am in the Internet Online Marketing space.

Secondly; even if I was hiring - I would most likely ignore each and every email I received (I received 14 emails). I find all my candidates through business networking. Business Networking rules - email spam just makes you look bad.

Please - use business networking techniques, including LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) to find your next great position. And leave the spam in the can.


Posted at Saturday, January 14, 2006 by sph001
What do you think?  

Sunday, January 1
Jobstuff; how to use this blog

Typically blogs are forums for frequently updated news and content. However, I'd like you to consider the Jobstuff blog as a directory of tips & suggestions. Review the past articles for information on resumes, business networking, interviewing techniques and more.

In 2006; I will update the site at-least twice a month with new stuff, so please keep coming back and best of success in your career pursuits.

Stephen Harris

 


Posted at Sunday, January 01, 2006 by sph001
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Monday, September 26
Worthwhile Magazine

Recently I was turned onto an interesting magazine; Worthwhile. Yes, interesting name; their focus is on work being Profitable, with purpose and Passionate. Without these principles of work; why bother?

With Worthwhile Magazine' permission in hand, I will review and copy segments from their magazine to share with you - with the Jobstuff spin. Perhaps we will agree, perhaps we will not. Stay tuned.


Posted at Monday, September 26, 2005 by sph001
What do you think?  

Friday, August 19
Risky Business. Join a Start-up?

I received an email from Auren Hoffman posing the question: Is it more risky to join a start-up in todays economy, or a big corporation? Read his blog then come back and read my thoughts on this important subject.

 

Auren's Blog: Summation will make you think


------ 

Well readers, what do you think? Please add your comments to this entry. What follows is a lengthy (sorry) reply, my thoughts on this subject.  

----

Auren, this is such an important subject in today's economy. When my dad went to work for Exxon (Standard Oil, Esso back then); it was considered a job for life. He worked there for over 30 years. When I graduated from Grad school (1981  ouch looong ago and many lifetimes ago); the aspiration of most of my fellow students was to land a job at a major corporation and ride the escalator up. I landed at Nabisco during the "Barbarian at the Gates era"). Big Corp was big, secure and fun.  At the time, I probably couldn't name a single small company or start-up. I eventually moved on the ADP, where I rode the escalator up very well, till I fell off (we'll get back to this in a moment).

 

While I was gainfully employed at ADP, the internet was at full boil. I watched many an executive jump to exciting internet jobs, with money to burn and no clear business model. And then they got burned when the internet bubble exploded.

 

But something funny happened; the entrepreneurial experience these "risk taking" folks gained at these VERY RISKY start-ups' was valued in BIG Corp. It was also widely believed that after they were properly chastised for leaving the BIG Corp nest; they would be dedicated to their Cubicle jobs forever.

 

Yes, I was tempted to try this crazy market. I recall meeting with some fantastic wide-eyed entrepreneurs mostly in Silicon Alley (NYC). What chutzpah these guys had. I remember one such meeting, a well funded ICG start-up. His quote to me; "Stephen, it will be a bloody war for two years as we beat back our competitors and then we'll sell out and live in beach homes on Cape Cod!  Beachfront!!" 

 

WOW! Sign me up; I am ready to take that hill! This exciting statement was delivered by a middle-aged executive whose venture was also partially funded by a well established Brick. This wasn't some pimply teenager.  Ah but reality struck. I had a child and a mortgage; responsibilities.

 

My point; my financial situation made it compelling for me to dream of the bloody war and beach front homes; but to stay with Big Corp for safety and benefits and steady paycheck and my 3% raises. If I was without responsibilities, I would have signed up on the spot - no doubt!

 

Fast forward; I decided to stay with ADP, the Big Corporation. I felt safe. The company then sent me to Atlanta, paid my way, put walking around dollars in my pocket; helped me get a big ole southern McMansion and life was good. A few months later, oops the escalator stopped and I was downsized!  Big Corp restructured me out the door. Wow, didn't see that coming.

 

But this was in 2000; the job market was terrible! Thousands of people, some great, some deadwood, were being released. What happened to the safety of Big Corp? Yes it is true, I did feel betrayed.

 

I was out of work a year; and learned to business network and began to meet a whole new generation of entrepreneurs. And for some; their ventures really weren't any more risky than what Big Corporations offered. I began to actually look at my exodus from ADP as a good thing - a positive thing! Thank goodness that I was downsized?!

 

>>>--- Readers, there will be a point coming up soon, hang with me.

 

Auren, I would have disagreed with you in 1998 and even in May 2001; that taking a risky start-up could be more favorable than the safety of Big Corp. However today I am in FULL agreement with your premise. Heck, no job is permanent.

 

Someone recently asked me if I was seeking a consulting or permanent position; I said: "what's the difference?" 1099 or W2? Paid medical or Cobra - but in the end - what is the difference?

 

I interviewed with large and small companies, and turned down a Big Corp to experience a small and growing interactive online marketing agency, which was founded by a mentor from my ADP days. The founder of this start-up left Big Corp on his own, exiting his escalator while still moving up.

 

I was employee 21 and learned how to do everything and I loved the energy and passion. I used to say that when we kicked the ball at Big Corp; even with a solid wind-up, success was measured in inches. At this marketing agency; success was measure in miles. And once someone kicked the ball, everyone ran after it at top speed to kick it again!

 

So long story... well long: Auren, I do agree with you 100%. Each person needs to do a lil soul searching before they make such a decision. However, in today's economy - you are correct - Big Corp is just as risky; maybe more so; with less upside than a smaller company or start-up. The experience I have gained from DigitalGrit (which I left recently) has opened incredible doors for me.

 

In speaking with other start-up's and small agencies, I was told they specifically were seeking people that with risky start-up experience, rather than a Big Corp lifer.

 

So in conclusion, in today's economy a start-up that is paying a reasonable wage and offering benefits is no more or less risky than joining a Fortune 1000. And the experience at these smaller operations is well worth the risk.

 

These are my thoughts and I am sticking with it. However, besides telling me how long this blog entry is - please let me know your thoughts on Auren's blog entry. Go for it!


Posted at Friday, August 19, 2005 by sph001
What do you think?  

Friday, July 15
JobStuff: so quiet here

Wow; has it been this long since I have made any updates. To my readers; I am sorry. Over the past few months I have joined a company; then left it - and then started SPH Associates, an Online Marketing Agency.

It has been exciting to say the very least; and at the same time, have been in deep discussions with a number of companies for a possible full time role.

JobStuff, and its sister site ZerotoNetwork, a Business Networking blog, was never really meant to be a site updated with news; just advice and suggestions for business networking and career transitioning. If you are new to JobStuff, explore the content; as it is meant to provide help with many aspects of this important time in your life.

I wish Blogdrive had categories; so you could quickly find resume help, for instance. I am exploring how to do this, so that Jobstuff becomes a resource.

I'll be back soon with more information; including tips on starting your own biz and why this might be a great way to traverse the transition zone!

Stephen Harris


Posted at Friday, July 15, 2005 by sph001
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Tuesday, May 10
Older Workforce Blues: Fortune Magazine Article

Fortune Magazine's article about the aging workforce, "Permanent Vacation, 50 and Fired", May 2, 2005 By John Helyar discussed some important points that anyone even below 50 should consider. The article begins by discussed the state of employment affairs for the 50+ set; a somewhat depressing view of work prospects for the highly experienced. However, the article progresses into a discussion of the end of the baby boom, where the supply of 35-44's decreases significantly.

 

"From 2002 to 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of 35- to 44-year-olds in the labor force will decline by 3.8 million, while the number of available 55- to 64-year-olds will increase by 8.3 million."

 

For me, the biggest takeaway from this article (although I am not yet 50; however it's not that far away either) is what one executive calls the "multi-revenue stream model". Said another way; turn your experience and age into an advantage - consult. Or as this same executive states;

 

"Nobody wanted to buy him, but maybe they’d rent him."

 

Leverage your experiences and background to help smaller companies to improve their business plan, their strategy; show them how they can grow. Not many 30-somethings have this ability.

 

This is the pathway that I am considering for myself; while I am still employable and not yet 50.


Click here to read this article.

Posted at Tuesday, May 10, 2005 by sph001
What do you think?  

Friday, May 6
Mothers: How to begin your career again

Just in time for Mother's Day, my frient Gladys Kartin (GKCareers) has allowed permission to JobStuff to reprint one of her excellent articles. Enjoy - and thanks Gladys. If you wish to contact Gladys, who has a career developmemt/coaching company, please let me know.


Mothers, Do You Remember Who You Were Before Children?

How To Begin Again Where You Left Off?

 

I consider myself to be a successfully transitioned mother in a solo practice specializing in helping individuals to discover their best career or work fit.  I am one of those mothers who made an attempt to return to the workplace many years ago.  I felt confident at the start, but that slowly morphed into great discouragement and then I retreated to the safety and comfort of my suburban life.  I didn’t understand why openings for college grads were my only option.  Of course, I did not even know what I wanted to return to, and the thought of working five days a week was a big concern, hence the even bigger dilemma.

 

I have learned that the key to finding work is simple, you need to know who you are in several key categories, it is only then, coming from a place of self-knowledge, that a meaningful search can be conducted because clarity on what you are seeking can be easily communicated and assistance is easier for others to provide.

 

One of my early marketing efforts targeting mothers asked this simple question, Mothers, do you remember who you were before children?  Do you know what your interests are?  Do you know what your skills and strengths are?  I soon discovered that while I thought working with mothers would be a good target market, it became apparent that mothers feel too much ambivalence about returning to work unless circumstances force them to and everyone will have a different list of circumstances to propel that motivation.

 

Mothers serious about returning to work in need to have a written plan as to how this can occur.  It serves two purposes, one it is a guide for the mother to begin to actualize the plan and two it provides the prospective employer tangible evidence showing how to successfully re-enter and utilize their talents.  Acknowledging the gaps that may exist due to the time out of the workforce can easily be accommodated with a plan to minimize the gaps.

 

First Things First…You Can Begin With There Actions…

 

  • Take thinking about working into doing something towards achieving that intention?
  • Break down the steps to needed to manage this process into a manageable, achievable goal with measurable checkpoints.
  • Create your requirements based on your personal and work values
  • Identify the employability criteria needed to successfully attain your goals
  • Maintain flexibility to keep what is working and let go of what is not working
  • Maximize your networking efforts with informational conversations
  • Create contact cards with a positioning statement
  • Establish your unique competitive edge by identifying your strengths and creating the necessary data supporting your past use of these strengths.  Define whom this will benefit?

Posted at Friday, May 06, 2005 by sph001
What do you think?  

Thursday, May 5
Job Seeking with a Criminal Record

While attending a Business Networking meeting recently, a participant disclosed that they had recently been convicted of a misdemeanor (no not me!) and is also in a job search. So how do you handle this when seeking employment?

 

First and foremost, you must not lie or be deceptive about this situation. A basic background check will uncover this and if you lied, you can be fired immediately. However, a couple thoughts on this subject:

 

1) If you have a misdemeanor, and are asked if you had a felony, you do not need to respond.

2) If you are not asked, you may not need to share this information.

3) If you were NOT convicted, no worries - no mention or disclosure is required.

 

I found an interesting article that discusses this subject in more detail. There was one paragraph that caught my attention, regarding a "Certificate of Relief from Disabilities". "As an ex-offender you can restore your rights to engage in certain types of employment by obtaining a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct.".

 

Consult with your attorney to learn more, and to determine how this may benefit you in your search.

 

However, in the same light as being asked why there is a gap of time in your employment record: have a concise and short response ready to explain the offense. Don't caste blame, owe up to your offense, stay positive and explain how you may have learned from the situation. You might even consider carrying a brief statement document that outlines the offense and any supporting statements from a lawyer or law enforcement officer. Naturally, if you suspect the position will require a clean record (security guard, law enforcement, security clearance positions), shy away - why subject yourself to a negative situation.

 

Lastly, if the offense is of a serious nature; use this opportunity to seek another line of work that may be more accepting and beneficial. Stay positive, think creatively and you will find something great - no matter your situation.

 

Readers: If you have thoughts or experience or successful methods for handling this situation, please leave a comment or email me. I will keep responses confidential but know you are doing something positive for someone in need.


Click here to read the article mentioned previously.



Posted at Thursday, May 05, 2005 by sph001
What do you think?  

Sunday, May 1
LinkedIn works, even if the job didn't

Dear Bloggers, what a strange trip this has been.

Indulge me for a moment as I catch you up on my own career. Recall (by reading the left side bar) that this blog is about learning to navigate the career waters. And what better way to share than through my own career.

I have been added as a case study, mentioned in a press release and interviewed by Business 2.0 discussing how I landed "my dream" job at Audible.com using LinkedIn and networking. Well, yes LinkedIn works as does business networking - both a powerful combination. But - well the position did not work out and I have left the company. The reasons are not material to this blog, but suffice to say it was ultimately a mis-matched position. BUT LinkedIn does work, and my experience does NOT reflect on this business networking platform.

I reflect back to the interview process and - with hindsight being 20-20 - can see a few minor red flags. The lesson for those going through the interview process is:

  • Ask all the questions you have, including those relating to the culture and organization landscape
  • Look around while walking through the office, look at the desks and the people
  • Trust your gut; If there is something lingering in your mind, resolve it before you sign on.

And if it doesn't feel right after you sign-on, it is not a personal failure to make a break and move on. In conversations with other companies, since determining that this was not the best opportunity for me, I did not experienced any negative affect.


Posted at Sunday, May 01, 2005 by sph001
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