Category: Career Etiquette


How to Answer, “What Do You Do?” When Unemployed

It’s the question we all get when first meeting someone. “So, what do you do?” Although it’s not specified in the question, we know the person’s asking what we do for a living. But how do we answer this when unemployed, and without feeling like a failure?

A lot of people are currently unemployed due to the pandemic. They dread this question. Maybe you also dread it, even if you’re not unemployed.

Being unemployed doesn’t define you

First, we have to let go of the false idea that our worth is based in our work. Our careers and jobs don’t define us.

And while our worth also doesn’t come from our skills and talents, we can better answer this question by looking back to see which God-given skills are the common thread in our past experience, including paid work, volunteer work, and what I call “fun work.”

A personal example of “fun work” is when I filled in at the local paddle board shop when they were short-staffed. This job was fun because I got to be on my paddle board, and I got to be outside on the water. Plus, it was a nice way to add some variety to my regular career coaching schedule. But it was also fun because I got to use my gifts of teaching and encouragement when training new paddlers.

These God-given talents in encouraging and teaching others have been a common thread throughout my experience. Not only do I currently use them in my career coaching, I’ve used them in my past work in higher education while advising college students, and when working with aspiring recording artists in the Nashville music industry. I’ve also used them when volunteering in organizations like Project Connect. I’ve even seen how these talents have been used in my personal relationships to help friends and family.

I love encouraging others. It’s a natural, God-given gift and talent I can use whether I’m employed or not.

A new answer

After looking back and realizing this, I now answer the question “What do you do?” differently from my previous usual answer of, “I do career coaching.” Instead, I now say, “I encourage others.” This response  leads to more meaningful conversations.

What about you? What natural gift or talent have you used throughout your past experience and other areas of your life? You can use this to answer the question, “What do you do?”, both when your employed and unemployed.

If you need encouragement, or if you’d like to discover new and creative ways to use your own talents in helping others, let’s talk. I’d be happy to schedule a complimentary initial consultation with you. Click here to get started.

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Who Needs a Day Off From 2020?

I know I sure could use a day off from 2020! For the first time in a long time, I’m experiencing writers block for this blog, and I just need a little time off from trying to come up with my next topic.

This year has been so eventful, but not in a good way. Therefore, I’ve had plenty to write about, especially on the topic of doing a job search in the middle of a pandemic. But I’m burned out right now.

I love to write, and I’m passionate about sharing my expertise for those who are in need of career help. But for next week’s holiday I’m going to spend some time doing some other things I’m passionate about. And hopefully by the time I return from Thanksgiving, I’ll be refreshed with new topics to help you in your career.

If you have any specific topic requests, please email them directly to me or include them in the comment box below. This will help me to know what information you need most.

In the meantime, even though it’s not the end of the year yet, we can all agree we’re ready for 2020 to be over. Therefore, I’m going to go ahead and share my top 10 blog posts of 2020.

Enjoy!

Top 10 paNASH blog posts of the year (because we’re ready for 2020 to be over!)

1. How to Answer These Important Pandemic Interview Questions

How to Answer These Important Pandemic Interview Questions

Your next interview could include questions like:

  • What did you do with your time while furloughed or laid off during the pandemic?
  • Did you draw unemployment when you could have found work?

These are all very legal questions, so you need to be prepared for them and know how to answer them! Click here to find out how.

2. What Happens When a Pandemic Disrupts Your Career?

What Happens When a Pandemic Disrupts Your Career?

Do you have a back-up plan if an event like a pandemic disrupts your career? Click here to learn how to adapt and pivot in your career.

3. How to Make Phone and Video Interviews Run More Smoothly

How to Make Phone and Video Interviews Run More Smoothly

The number of Zoom and phone interviews will continue to rise even after the pandemic due to their convenience and cost effectiveness. Click here to learn how to ensure things run smoothly for your next remote interview.

4. LinkedIn Etiquette You Need to Know When Networking Remotely

LinkedIn Etiquette You Need to Know When Networking Remotely

There is an etiquette to building your network on LinkedIn. If you fail to follow this etiquette, you’ll likely turn off the people you want to connect with most. Click here for six LinkedIn etiquette rules to help you make a good first impression.

5. How to Avoid These 5 Career Mistakes During a Time of Panic

How to Avoid These 5 Career Mistakes During a Time of Panic

“Emotions are the worst advisors,” says Serena Williams’s coach Peter Mouratoglou. Letting emotions like fear or panic guide your career decisions can lead to some big career mistakes. Click here to learn how to avoid these mistakes and not panic.

6. How to Write the Best Thank You Notes for Your Interviews

How to Write the Best Thank You Notes for Your Interviews

Are you one of the 90% of job seekers who don’t send a thank you note after your job interview?

A thank you note should be part of your job search strategy, but there’s a certain way to write professional thank you notes, which look and feel different from personal thank you notes.

Click here to learn how to write them, when to send them, and more.

7. What Are the Best Alternatives to Online Job Boards?

What Are the Best Alternatives to Online Job Boards?

Are you using the same old job boards everyone else uses but never find what you’re really looking for? Click here to learn about five alternatives to the oversaturated job boards so you can find more relevant opportunities.

8. Getting Laid Off? The #1 Thing to Ask for When You Leave

Getting Laid Off? The #1 Thing to Ask for When You Leave

When you’re getting laid off, you no longer have anything to lose with your employer. As a result, there’s something you should try to negotiate as part of your severance package to help you get back on your feet quicker. Click here to find out what it is and how to negotiate for it.

9. How to Stop Looking Desperate on LinkedIn

How to Stop Looking Desperate on LinkedIn

Recruiters are turned off by desperate job candidates, and they can recognize desperation just from your LinkedIn profile. Click here for the four things you should stop doing on LinkedIn so you won’t appear desperate.

10. How to Improve Your Career During a Pandemic: 15 Resources

How to Improve Your Career During a Pandemic: 15 Resources

Click here for ten more posts on how to manage your career and job search in the midst of a pandemic.

Stay tuned

My posts will return following the Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully, as 2020 wraps up and we transition to a new year, there will be less need to write on the topic of job searching during a pandemic.

Again, if you have requests for other career-related topics, please send them my way or include them in the comment box.

I hope you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. When necessary, be physically distant but socially proximate with your loved ones.

2020

How to Write the Best Thank You Notes for Your Interviews

Update: I failed to clarify early on in the original post that a type written thank you note should be sent via snail mail. Thank you to one of my readers for bringing this to my attention!

This is the month we celebrate thanksgiving. Therefore, it’s only fitting to have a blog post about thank you notes for your job interviews.

I remember my senior year of high school was when I first learned the art and etiquette of writing thank you notes. For each person who gave me a graduation gift, I sent a handwritten thank you note.

I also was a debutante at the time. Every debutante was required to write a thank you note to each hostess of every party thrown for us. There were probably about 25 or more parties over the course of a few months, with about five to ten hostesses for each party. When you do the math, you can guess how much my hand was probably hurting from all that writing.

In fact, I think I spent more time those last few weeks of senior year writing thank you notes, than I did preparing for final exams.

But in recent years, I’ve noticed a significant decline in the practice of writing thank you notes. I have several friends I’ve bought wedding and baby shower gifts for, but I’ve never received a thank you note from them. It doesn’t bother me personally. It just makes me sad how some forms of thanksgiving are dying out.

Thank you notes are a job search strategy

Not only do most people not send thank you notes for gifts anymore, they also don’t send them for job interviews. In fact, when I first started doing career coaching 21 years ago, only 10% of job seekers sent thank you notes following their interviews. And guess what? This statistic hasn’t changed much since then, even though most job seekers know they should send a note.

But when it comes to your job search, you shouldn’t view thank you notes as a formality. Instead, view them as a strategy to further market yourself to the employer, even after the interview is over.

Don’t send handwritten thank you notes

The job seekers who do send thank you notes, often send handwritten ones. And some career coaches will even tell their clients to handwrite them. I don’t recommend this at all for a couple of reasons.

One, this is not a personal friend you’re sending a note to. You’re sending it to a professional business contact. The look and feel of your thank you note should reflect this.

Two, and most importantly, a handwritten note doesn’t give you the space you need to further sell yourself.

A typewritten note, on the other hand, gives you the space and opportunity to reiterate the things you want the employer to remember about you. This is especially important if you’re one of the first people they interview, or if you’re the one who falls in the middle.

A typewritten note also gives you the chance to mention anything you didn’t get the opportunity to discuss in the interview like you’d hoped.

How to format your thank you notes

So how should you format your typewritten thank you note?

You want it to be in the same format as your cover letter, which includes all the necessary pieces of information before the greeting. And remember, your thank you note is actually a business letter, just like your cover letter is. Therefore, you should have a colon after your greeting instead of a comma. A colon after the greeting distinguishes a business letter from a personal letter.

Who to send thank you notes to

Not only should you send a thank you letter to the main person you interview with, you should also send one to everyone from the company who participated in your interview. For example, if you interviewed with a search committee, you should send one to each person on the committee, and not just the chair of the committee.

Slightly edit each letter to personalize it so the reader knows you didn’t just send the same form letter to everyone.

When to send thank you notes

Always send your thank you note within 24 to 48 hours of your job interview.

In the meantime, you can also send a thank you email immediately after the interview. Just always make sure to follow up with a thank you letter via snail mail.

Conclusion

It’s important to show your gratitude for the opportunity of an interview. Doing so will make you stand out from those who don’t.

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How to Stop Looking Desperate on LinkedIn

Most professionals have a LinkedIn profile, but typically say they don’t do anything with it. That is, until they need to start looking for another job.

After their profile has sat dormant for months or even years, they will dust it off, update it, and do one of two things.

Either they will go back to ignoring it after they’ve made their profile updates. Or, they’ll go overboard with their use of LinkedIn, to the point of appearing desperate to recruiters.

Neither strategy is a good one.

I’ve already written several posts on the importance of utilizing LinkedIn to its fullest, instead of taking a “set it and forget it” approach. But today I want to highlight some of the things you should avoid when using LinkedIn so you don’t look desperate to recruiters.

And trust me, recruiters can sense desperation from a mile away!

4 ways to stop looking desperate to recruiters

1. Stop using the word “seeking” in your headline

I know recruiters who say they immediately avoid LinkedIn profiles with the word “seeking” in the headline. Not all recruiters do this, but a lot of them do. They say it indicates desperation on the candidate’s part.

You’re not limited to the default headline listing your current or most recent position. Your headline can be anything you want it to be. So why not make it grab the reader’s attention, in a good way?  And always include keywords relevant to the type of work you want to do next. This brings me to my next point.

2. Stop being too general in your headline

At least once a week, I come across a LinkedIn profile with the headline, “Looking for new opportunities.” That’s it. I want to scream, “Looking for new opportunities in WHAT???”

If you don’t clearly state what you’re targeting, the right recruiters will never see your profile when they do a keyword search on your chosen field or role.

And if by chance you do pop up in their search results, they’ll bypass your profile for the ones clearly and immediately indicating their professional goals and what they have to bring to the table. Recruiters will not spend their time digging through your profile to figure out why you’re on LinkedIn.

Make it easy for readers to know exactly what you’re looking for, and how you can help solve their problem.

3. Stop joining job search groups

Yes, you should always join LinkedIn groups to improve your networking efforts on the platform. And yes, you should be in a few job search groups when between jobs if you find them helpful.

But if the majority of your groups are those just for job seekers, you’ll really appear desperate to recruiters. Plus, when you do this, you’re not putting yourself in front of the right people.

Instead, you need to join the groups relevant to your industry so you can be in front of the industry’s decision-makers. Your participation in these groups is how you get noticed.

Also, if you’re planning to relocate, you’ll want to join some groups based on your targeted geographic location. This not only can be a great networking resource, but also an information source for relocation logistics.

To learn the etiquette of LinkedIn group participation, check out my post, “LinkedIn Etiquette You Need to Know When Networking Remotely.”

4. Stop spamming recruiters

No one likes to be spammed on LinkedIn, recruiters included. Be sure to always personalize any InMail messages you send recruiters.

You don’t want to send the same standard email to every recruiter, for the same reason you don’t want to send the same cover letter for every job application.

How to get help with LinkedIn

LinkedIn is ever-changing and can be confusing and cumbersome to use. paNASH has taught classes, led group sessions, and individually guided clients on how to maneuver and leverage LinkedIn for a successful job search.

Now, paNASH has added a new coach, Dr. Denisha Bonds, who is a nationally certified LinkedIn strategist. She can help you optimize your LinkedIn profile to increase your responses from recruiters.

Click here to schedule a complimentary initial consultation.

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How to Keep Recruiters Interested in You

This Wednesday is the virtual Amazon Career Day. Amazon recruiters are looking to fill more than 30,000 technology and corporate job openings, 500 of which will be located here in Nashville.

Whether you’re in the market for a job with Amazon, or with another company, there are some things you can do to keep recruiters interested in you as they sift through all the potential candidates.

Don’t do the things that annoy recruiters

In the past, I’ve written about how recruiters annoy job seekers, like ghosting candidates after an interview, and more. But there are also things job seekers do that annoy recruiters.

Here’s a perfect example: A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a colleague of mine who’s a human resources and recruiting expert. She was clearly frustrated with some of the job seekers she’s been recruiting to fill the open positions at the companies she represents.

She asked me to remind all job seekers who read my blog of two things if they’re serious about finding a new job:

Check your email spam box, and answer your phone!

1. Not paying attention to your spam folder

At least three times a week, I get an email from a potential client in my junk folder. This is why I check my spam box daily. If not, I could miss out on potential work. You could too!

If you’re applying for jobs, most recruiters or hiring managers are going to first reach out to you via email. Make sure their emails aren’t going to your spam folder. If they are, mark them as “not junk” so they’ll start going directly to your inbox. You should especially keep an eye on this if you’re using Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook.

Check your folder daily. If you don’t respond to a recruiter within 24 hours, they’ll likely move on to the next qualified candidate.

2. Not answering your phone

I have to admit, I myself am bad about this one. I usually don’t answer my cell if I don’t recognize the number. I’m guessing you might do the same because of all the robocalls you probably get on a daily basis.

But if you’re in the middle of a job search, you can’t afford not to answer your phone. It could be a recruiter calling to schedule an interview with you!

Familiarize yourself with the area codes and prefixes of the numbers for the various companies to which you’re applying. Add this info to your notes about each company, so you can have a better idea of who it is on the other end of your ringing phone.

Set yourself apart from other candidates

Imagine how boring it must be for recruiters to read through a ton of résumés and LinkedIn profiles that all look the same. Or having to listen to over-thought and over-rehearsed elevator pitches, which don’t lend well to a natural conversation.

Every interview they conduct probably feels like Ground Hog Day to them. They interview so many candidates who use the same canned answers, and ask thoughtless questions they could’ve found the answers to on the company web site.

How do you keep from blending in with these candidates? By following some of the out-of-the-box career advice I’ve shared over the years in this blog and in my on-demand programs. In fact, I’ve just created a new blog category to gather together everything I’ve written on out-of-the-box career advice. Click here to find advice guaranteed to set you apart and make you stand out from other candidates.

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In honor of National Online Learning Day on Sept. 15th, paNASH is offering a 35% discount on all paNASH on-demand programs/online job search classes. Click here and enter the discount code NOL2020 on the check-out page. (Discount good through Friday, Sept. 18th.)