Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My job hunting tips

BE POSITIVE This is alpha and omega, both for the purpose of having a successful job search and for your own personal health. Nobody wants to hire someone who's down, and if you don't think your attitude shines through in an interview you're fooling yourself. Being positive on a daily basis isn't always easy, but it's a hell of a lot easier than trying to dig yourself out of the kind of a hole you might auger yourself into if you let your negative feelings dominate. Fake it if you have to. Science has proved that if you display the outward signs of a positive outlook for long enough you will eventually genuinely get that attitude back, even though your feelings were not authentic at the outset. SMILE ON THE PHONE People can hear the difference even if they can't see your face or your posture. EXERCISE To me this goes hand in hand with a positive outlook. Be strong. Be confident. APPLY, APPLY, APPLY A couple of years ago I applied to over two hundred postings on line and only got two automated receipts in return. These days it's been my experience that more companies are doing a better job of monitoring who's applying to positions, and some are quite prompt in getting back to the candidate. This includes large companies like Chase Paymentech. POST, POST, POST Put your resume out there in as many places as possible. Another recent trend I've noticed is that rather than posting a job a recruiter just goes out to try to find a good resource from online resumes. This is actually how I got the position I'm in now. FEED YOUR EGO While money is obviously a factor when you're out of work, there are still small things you can do to make you feel good about yourself when you're heading into an interview. Get a haircut. Get your nails done. Buy a new tie. Get your shoes polished. Dye your hair. You should know yourself what makes you feel better about yourself. BE PREPARED TO ANSWER THE "SO TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF" QUESTION Early on I would just more or less reiterate what was on my resume; my job experience in reverse chronological order. I found that the conversation went a lot better after I decided to not stick to this "script" as much. I grouped my experience into three areas (IT Compliance, Technical work, and IT Generalist work), and summarized it that way. Then I went on to outline three personal traits that I would bring to the new position (problem solving, customer service, writing). I found that this flowed a lot better and gave me a much greater sense of energy than just starting "Well, in my last job I ...". SHORTEN YOUR RESUME. THEN SHORTEN IT EVEN MORE. Managers just don't read them. Make sure the right keywords are there. I had a recruiter complain that I hadn't highlighted my certifications enough in my resume. They were a standalone bullet in the second paragraph. MAKE YOURSELF BETTER Job-related training is obviously ideal, but there are significant benefits to your attitude even in non-job efforts. Watch the Spanish channel an hour a day and see how much more you can pick up this week compared to last. Sit down at your kids keyboard and see if you can pick out a song from the dusty stacks of sheet music. Work on your golf game. WRITE THANK-YOU NOTES Common courtesies aren't all that common any more. It's another way to make yourself stand out. One of the job offers I got was a direct reply to the thank you note I had written several weeks earlier, after my interview. It may or may not have made a difference, but at a minimum it made it very easy for the hiring manager to contact me. KEEP A JOURNAL I kept a blog on blogspot where I journaled every job I applied for, every email I received or sent, every call I made or received, every time I updated my resume online and every interview. I found this to be very helpful for a number of reasons:
  • At the end of the day I could look at the list and feel like I accomplished something.
  • I sent the link to my wife, and it served as additional motivation to know she may be looking at it any time.
  • It made it very easy to truthfully answer TWC's questions about the number of job search activities I had in a week.
  • It served as a reminder by allowing me to go back in time to see who I hadn't heard from in a while, so fewer opportunities slipped through the cracks.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Be aware, be very aware

The mental aspects of golf is something that appears to hit home and strike out equally with all levels of golfers. There are pros who consider themselves "old school" and not in need of stuff like that, and there are 30-handicappers who swear by it. My own maturity in this area has been slow, but thanks to books like "Zen Golf" I have started to improve in this department myself, and for this hacker the benefits have been significant. It's a wonderful journey to start being aware and able to manage the things that go on in your own noggin, and the non-golf implications to this maturity may be even greater than what it does for me on the course. I'm not a teacher, nor a writer in this area, but what I can share with you is a concrete example that has helped me significantly. To demonstrate, I will discuss the three phases of awareness that I migrated through in order to make progress. The problem is related to the thoughts you get popping into your head when you're partway through a better-than-average round. You start to think about what your final score might be. Maybe this will be the first time you break 90. You think about what your handicap will be after this round, or whether you have a chance to win the tournament you're playing in. Invariably, your level of play drops drastically and irrepairably. Phase 1 - Not-so-blissful Ignorance At this point, you usually don't realize these thoughts are getting into your head until it's too late and the round is over. Looking back you sort of have an idea what was going on, but at the time you were way too busy and you had way too many things going on in your head to notice these warning signs when they first pop up, much less actually do something about it. Phase 2 - "Oh, shit" Awareness As you start to read about these topics and think about what's going on in your head you eventually get to the point where you notice when your head starts drifting in the wrong direction. The problem is, you don't know what to do about it other than to go "Oh shit, here come these thoughts again." Phase 3 - Awareness and management You will notice that at no point will I discuss what to do to avoid these thoughts, or how best to get rid of them. That's because you can't. So what to do, then? You need to train yourself to recognize your thoughts and emotions without labeling, judging, or fearing them. You just observe what's going on just like you would observe a car driving in and out of your line of sight. The second part is to be able to get your mind into the right state before the next shot. Advanced methods include just clearing your mind, but most of us have not practiced enough meditation to be able to do that at will. What has worked for me is to have a pre-swing routine and a swing thought specific to the shot I'm about to play that I focus on. The bad thought doesn't go away, but by having something positive and productive to think about it's of less consequence and of less impact on my game. It may or may not be for you, but I highly recommend you at least take a look. Keep'em in the short stuff.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

February Practice Log

Well, February started out with a couple of weeks of ice and snow, but as usual in Dallas it melted off quickly and the temperatures got into the 70s in no time.

  • Fri 2/11 - 30 minutes putting indoors
  • Sat 2/12 - 30 minutes putting indoors
  • Sun 2/13 - 50 balls (9i)
  • Mon 2/14 - 50 balls (Driver)
  • Tue 2/15 - 45 minutes chipping
  • Wed 2/16 - 50 balls (8i)
  • Sat 2/19 - 45 minutes putting
  • Tue 2/22 - 50 balls (PW), 30 minutes pitching
  • Wed 2/23 - 100 balls (D, 6i, 3-ball, PW)
  • Thu 2/24 - 30 minutes chipping, 18 holes on Pitching Course.
  • Fri 2/25 - 18 holes at Oak Hollow, from the blues. Shot an 89 (42-47). Walked and carried. My game was fairly consistent, but fell apart a bit on the back nine. Got around 18 holes in two hours and 50 minutes. My handicap stayed at 12.2.