And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7
We all know the story of Jesus’ birth as told in Luke 2:1-20. The Roman emperor Augustus ordered all the people to be counted in a census. As part of that count, all males had to return to their ancestral homes. Joseph, a descendant of King David, traveled from his home in Nazareth to Bethlehem with his pregnant fiancée Mary in tow. While in Bethlehem, the time for baby to be born came. With the town teeming with people for the census, lodging was not available. The only place Joseph could find for the birth was a manger “because there was no room at the inn.”
The word “No” is a constant in the lives of those seeking employment. Think of the many times and many ways you have experienced “The “No’s” during you job search.
…”No – We don’t have a job for you.”
…”No – You are under qualified.”
…”No – You are over qualified.”
Relentless and persistent, “The No’s” can sap our strength, our confidence and our will during the job search. Learning how to take “The No’s” with the confidence, grace and humility demonstrated by Mary and Joseph that day in Bethlehem can make all the difference in successfully weathering the “The No’s” in the job search storm.
3 Ways to Fight “The No”
Career expert Molly Cain, writing in Forbes Magazine, says that with the employment rate hovering around 7.5%, competition is at its highest right now, which means there can be lots of reasons you were told “No” about the job. Molly recommends 3 things that we can do to fight “The No”.
1. Your Resume
Take a look at what you gave your prospective employer. If they’ve got any sort of head on their shoulders, they can typically read through lies, they can read through “elaboration” and they can read where you’ve panicked and tried to insert just about anything to lengthen the word count. Consider these resume “No No’s:”
- Sticking your entire 20 year career on 1 page – Forget what your college career counselor told you – 2 or more pages is commonplace and is expected.
- Failing to adequately explain breaks in employment – Due to the Great Recession, long breaks in employment is the new normal. In my e-book the Smart Job Search, I show how savvy job seekers use the resume to highlight job productive things they have been doing while out of work. List volunteering, freelancing, classes taken and other industrious stuff you have done while you have been unemployed.
- Nonprofessional email address – An email address saluting your favorite Justin Bieber song is charming. However, the email address on your resume should reflect the seriousness that you are bringing to the job search. So while it is much more boring, use your name in your email address, such as: email@example.com. It will be far more effective.
2. Your cover letter
Take a fresh look at the cover letter you sent. Does it have typos? Was it addressed “To whom it may concern? Or, was it not captivating enough to get perspective employers to open the resume attachment? I have an admission to make– I hate cover letters–they are filled with potential to bite you–but we have to do them. Alison Doyle, the brilliant job search and employment expert, says that there are 3 general types of cover letters:
- The application letter which responds to a known job opening
- The prospecting letter which inquires about possible positions
- The networking letter which requests information and assistance in your job search
Go to Alison’s website: www.about.com/carrers for examples of the cover letters listed above. I did. and now I have taken the “No” factor out of writing cover letters.
3. Your Networking
Are you getting “No’s” when submitting resumes to online job postings? Well, you are not alone. With nearly over 1,000 job seekers for any one job, it is easier to win Powerball than to get a call back from an online posting. Now, I’m not trying to dissuade you from posting for jobs online, however a survey from the top end job search site ExecuNet reveals that 80% of all jobs are obtained via networking. The vast majority of job openings are never advertised; they’re filled by word of mouth. That’s why networking is the best way to find a job. Unfortunately, many job seekers are hesitant to take advantage of networking because they’re afraid of being seen as pushy, annoying, or self-serving. But networking isn’t about using other people or aggressively promoting yourself—it’s about building relationships. Tapping the hidden job market may take more planning and nerve than searching online, but it’s much more effective. Adopting a networking lifestyle—a lifestyle of connecting and helping others in good times and bad—will help you find the right job, make valuable connections in your chosen field, and stay focused and motivated during your job search. Several of my best networking friends have given me these 3 tips to pass along:
- Figure out what you want before you start networking – Networking is most effective when you have specific employer targets and career goals. It’s hard to get leads with a generic “Let me know if you hear of anything” request. Asking for specific information, leads, or an interview is much more focused and easier for the networking source.
- Improve your communication skills – Effective communication is a cornerstone of job networking. As simple as communication may seem, much of what we try to communicate—and others try to communicate to us—gets misunderstood. Effective communication combines a set of learned skills, such as: attentive listening, recognizing and using nonverbal cues, managing stress in the moment, and understanding your own emotions and those of the person you’re communicating with. Toastmasters is the best place I know of where you can both enhance your communication skills and build a network. Go to www.Toastmasters.org to find a club near year.
- Focus on building relationships – Networking is a give-and-take process that involves making connections, sharing information, and asking questions. It’s a way of relating to others, not a technique for getting a job or a favor. You don’t have to hand out your business cards on street corners, cold call everyone on your contact list, or work a room of strangers. All you have to do is reach out.
What are you saying “Yes” to?
Clearly as a job searcher we are going to hear the word “No”…. repeatedly. However, we have plenty to say “Yes” to and those “Yeses” can be parlayed into a job. Your days of unemployment should not be idle time. There are only so many episodes of “The Price Is Right” or “Sports Center highlights” one can endure before your mind turns to mush. This may sound strange, but your time of unemployment should be a joyous time, a time of personal growth, a time of rejuvenation, a time to get your groove back, or a time to discover a new groove, or a time to give your groove to others.
In my e-book The Smart Job Search, I profiled Leslie Ross, a truck driver by trade, but out of work due to the post-traumatic stress caused by an accident where a young mother was killed. Leslie, who was not at fault for the accident, couldn’t drive any more. However, she had a broad and impressive, almost encyclopedic, knowledge of topics that ranged from the Dalai Lama to the origins of Honky Tonk, gained from hours listening books on CD’s in the cab of her 18-wheeler. After a year of job searching “No’s”, Leslie said “Yes” to a volunteer gig at her local library reference desk. In the weeks that followed, Leslie assisted a struggling author with an obscure factoid from a book that she heard on an early morning drive from Modesto to L.A. She helped a young student with a term paper about molecular biology, a topic that Leslie happened to hear about one day while listening to the leading expert on the subject interviewed on a late-night, call-in show as she drove from Destin, Florida to High Point, North Carolina. And, she astonished an executive with her insightful knowledge about his company gained through years of overhearing conversations at the loading dock of his company’s main factory.
Saying “Yes” to the volunteering proved to be Leslie’s eureka moment. She didn’t need to volunteer for the library…. she needed to work for it. Leslie the trucker reinvented herself into Leslie the librarian. She enrolled in the library science program at the University of Pittsburgh. There, she thrived in the environment of knowledge, discovery, and arcane facts, and in two years, this former trucker from Indiana became a librarian. Today, you can find her in the streets of Indianapolis serving the city’s neighborhoods. With her newfound confidence, Leslie, the librarian, has started driving big rigs again. Only this time, instead of the books being on CD’s, they lined the shelves of her new 16-wheeler — the city’s bookmobile. Leslie, our hard-driving, trucking librarian, found her new gig through the magic of saying “Yes.”
You have experienced enough “No’s” in your job search…..what are you saying “Yes” to?
The Bottom Line – Jesus said “Yes” to us
The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!”
Luke 2:8-11 NLT
Jesus’s birth in a manger was “No” accident. He was born in these humble circumstances to demonstrate to us that the word “No” should not deter us. If the king of kings, our Lord and Savior was told “No”, what should being told “No” mean to us? Instead, Jesus said “Yes” to us. He said “Yes” to our sins so we can live lives of significance, lives of dignity, ….and “Yes” lives of work in service to Him.
My gift to you in this joyous season is the hope you will be like Jesus and say “Yes” to not being defeated by the “No’s”