Mighty Forces

Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.

Welcome to the new Mighty Forces

Sticky post

“May you live in interesting times.”
-Ancient Chinese curse

We certainly live in interesting times, don’t we?

I decided to start Mighty Forces because I saw so many qualified, enthusiastic, talented people struggling to get a job. Even if you manage to find your way into the interview process, it can be a punishing affair that seems to drag on forever. It’s easy to get discouraged. I know the feeling all too well.

The truth is, job hunting is a game where most of the people you encounter don’t want you to learn the rules.

The good news is, you can do it.  It’s not easy or fun, but it can be rewarding, and even exhilarating at times. I’ll do my best to show you how to play the game; the rest is up to you. If you’re new here, you should probably start with “It’s not about you.”

I’m not a professional job counselor, and I don’t play one on TV, either. (More details on the About page.) But I think we can have a conversation that will take you a little further down the road you want to be on.

Just to get that conversation started: what has been your biggest challenge in your job search? Let me know in the comments. Thanks!

The art of asking

This is a cool YouTube TED talk. On the surface it has little to nothing to do with job hunting. It’s about a musician who wanted to figure out a better way to have fans pay for her music, so she could keep making it. Take a look – it is worth your time.

Proofread. Proofread.

My mother used to say that I had what she called “the curse of spelling.”

It basically meant that I seemed genetically predisposed to finding errors in text. One example: I can open a complex restaurant menu, something I’ve never seen before, and within a few seconds, my eyes will inevitably zoom in on the one or two misspelled words in that giant mass of text. It’s almost a brain condition.

Day to day

So you’ve got that interview for that great job. You worked hard to get to this point, and now you’re finally sitting in the room with decision-makers. You are impressing them with your expertise, and everything seems to be going great.

Before you leave the room, ask yourself: what questions are you asking them?

Nothing personal

I want to talk about emotions.

No, I haven’t turned into Dr. Phil or Oprah. But trying to find a job, no matter your circumstances, is by definition an emotional task. You are putting yourself out there, and setting yourself up for potentially a lot of rejection. That’s a minefield that everyone doing this confronts.

[Probably the funniest and saddest rejection line I ever heard someone get from a job application was: “We encourage you to apply for positions for which you qualify.” Ouch.]

Show, don’t tell

Anyone who has taken a freshman composition course has probably heard of “show, don’t tell.” In fiction writing it means, for example, to let a character’s actions, appearance and speech explain their personality.

THIS: “Larry is lazy.”

OR THIS: “Instead of doing dishes, Larry has his bulldog Albert lick them clean. The ones Albert won’t lick, Larry throws away.”

What does this have to do with job hunting? Too many cover letters and resumes are filled with phrases like “well-organized” and “innovative” and “problem solver.” When you describe yourself like that, how does an employer know whether or not to believe you? Or whether your definition of “innovative” is even in the same ballpark as hers? They can’t – so your materials go immediately to the “no” pile.

It’s not about you

The most important thing about job hunting is to remember: it’s not about you.

Employers don’t care about your goals, your dreams, your five year plan, or whether you can make next month’s rent. All they care about is that they have a problem, and they are looking for someone to solve that problem.

That sounds harsh, but it’s true. And everything you do in job hunting that isn’t laser-focused on solving an employer’s problem is wasted time.

Written in ink

In “The Social Network,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is dressed down by his ex-girlfriend for his misogynistic comments about her on his blog.

“The internet isn’t written in pencil, Mark,” she says. “It’s written in ink.”

It’s an important idea – one that sometimes gets lost as we immerse ourselves in Facebook and Twitter and political blogs and all the rest of the digital footprints we leave around the web on a regular basis.

Ditch the laundry list

In “Show, don’t tell,” I talked about telling stories in your cover letters and resumes. In addition to lots of empty phrases (“people person”), another enemy of getting your point across is the impulse to list every single task, every single award, every single college club on your materials, in the hopes that all that accumulated stuff will be impressive.

Kill on the cover letter

Great post by David Heinemeier Hansson of 37 Signals about the importance of the cover letter in today’s job market.

So much time and energy is spent on resumes, that people often forget the cover letter. It’s crucial – it’s the first thing your prospective employer will read, and it’s often bad enough to get your materials put into the “no” pile instantly.

David’s post inspired me so much that I ended up writing a whole guide to “killing on the cover letter.” If you’d like a free copy, just subscribe to my email list.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén