Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 9, Issue 30;   July 29, 2009: Finding Work in Tough Times: Communications

Finding Work in Tough Times: Communications

by

Finding work in tough times entails presenting yourself to many people. You'll be conversing, interviewing, writing, presenting, and when you're finally successful, negotiating.
The male red-capped manakin

The male red-capped manakin. A native of Central American and northern South American forests, the bird is perhaps best known for the male's unusual courtship dances. Studied and filmed at high speed by Kimberly Bostwick, they were the subject of a PBS program, Deep Jungle: New Frontiers. The dance bears a striking resemblance to Michael Jackson's moonwalk.

The red-capped manakin's courtship dance is a communication that emphasizes the dancer's assets, because the strenuousness of the dance demonstrates the health and vitality of the dancer. So it is with the communications activities of the job search. The content of the communication is important, but the style, energy and poise of the communicator are important, too. Prospective employers do want to hear what you have to say, but they also want to see and hear how you say it. Photo by Lois Knaggs courtesy Eagle-Eye Tours.

Earlier in this series on finding work in tough times, we examined strategy, infrastructure and marketing. In this part we examine communications — written, telephone, digital and face-to-face.

Even in tough times, the goal is to find a job that is the best fit you can find within the time you can afford to keep looking. To do that, you must let prospective employers know what they need to know, and you must learn from them what you need to know. Here are some tips for doing just that.

Polish your phone interview skills
Phone interviews are more common now because employers have so many candidates to choose from. Practice answering questions, record yourself, and listen to the recording. If the interviewer isn't a prospective supervisor or co-worker, fret not about the interviewer's manner or style. Reflect on the interview afterwards. What did you learn? Get tips from the Web.
Polish your in-person interview skills
Convince the interviewer that you're able and likable. Practicing and reviewing video are very helpful, but preparing responses for anticipated topics is essential. Get tips for enhancing performance in face-to-face interviews.
Have a dynamite resume
Customize your resume to every opportunity. Promote your assets, but don't try to defend liabilities. Get tips for resume writing.
Prepare for interviews
Most people peruse a company's Web site before interviewing, and some even read relevant news stories, but that's just a start. When preparing, use Web search or business and social networking sites to find whatever you can about the people who will be interviewing you. They'll be doing the same about you.
Clean up your social or business networking act
Get a professional-sounding email address: Abraham.Lincoln[at]gmail.com, not HonestAbe271[at]gmail.com. If you already have social or business networking accounts in your name, clean them up to make them professional. Move any unprofessional content behind the "curtain" if there is one, or move it to another, more personal account.
Clean up your email act
If you've Customize your resume to
every opportunity. Promote
your assets, but don't
try to defend liabilities.
been using a personal email address to contribute personal material to publicly visible Internet discussions, get a new address for job search purposes — something of the form <FirstName>.<LastName>[at]DomainName.com. This might be difficult if you have a common name, but try to avoid cuteness and numbers.
Use email signatures to state your value proposition
Use your email signature to broadcast your value proposition. Beyond your contact information, add a line or two about your assets. Have a signature on all devices from which you send mail. Consider having different email signatures for different situations.

During the mutual explorations that lead to the offer decision, instead of communicating your needs, communicate what you have to offer, and try to determine what they have to offer. The time for negotiating arrives when the offer arrives. Trying to negotiate before that — about duties or compensation or almost anything else — makes any offer less likely. First in this series  Go to top Top  Next issue: Hyper-Super-Overwork  Next Issue

Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunLove the work but not the job? Bad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? This ebook looks at what we can do to get more out of life at work. It helps you get moving again! Read Go For It! Sometimes It's Easier If You Run, filled with tips and techniques for putting zing into your work life. Order Now!

For more on finding work in tough times, see "Finding Work in Tough Times: Strategy," Point Lookout for July 8, 2009; "Finding Work in Tough Times: Infrastructure," Point Lookout for July 15, 2009; and "Finding Work in Tough Times: Marketing," Point Lookout for July 22, 2009.

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenWURCeNrrofoayAbwner@ChacyYGYPgxGEmPzAGYJoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:

A can of sardines — what many of us feel like on board a modern airlinerChanging the Subject: I
Whether in small group discussions, large meetings, or chats between friends, changing the subject of the conversation can be constructive, mischievous, frustrating, creative, tension relieving, necessary, devious, or outright malicious. What techniques do we use to change the subject, and how can we cope with them?
The George Foster Peabody AwardIllusory Incentives
Although the theory of incentives at work is changing rapidly, its goal generally remains helping employers obtain more output at lower cost. Here are some neglected effects that tend to limit the chances of achieving that goal.
Six kids on a PlayPumpThe Questions Not Asked
Often, the path to forward progress is open and waiting, but we don't recognize it, or we convince ourselves it isn't there. Learning to see what we believe isn't there is difficult. Here are some reasons why.
A dwarf apple tree typical of modern commercial varietiesWacky Words of Wisdom
Words of wisdom are so often helpful that many of them have solidified into easily remembered capsules. We do tend to over-generalize them, though, and when we do, trouble follows. Here are a few of the more dangerous ones.
Elephants fightingHow to Waste Time in Meetings
Nearly everyone hates meetings. The main complaint: they're mostly a waste of time. The main cause: us. Here's a field manual for people who want to waste even more time.

See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) speaks at a recent Senate hearingComing October 17: Overt Belligerence in Meetings
Some meetings lose their way in vain attempts to mollify a belligerent participant who simply will not be mollified. Here's one scenario that fits this pattern. Available here and by RSS on October 17.
A man, standing, explaining something to a woman, seatedAnd on October 24: Conversation Irritants: I
Conversations at work can be frustrating even when everyone tries to be polite, clear, and unambiguous. But some people actually try to be nasty, unclear, and ambiguous. Here's Part I of a small collection of their techniques. Available here and by RSS on October 24.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenuSvkXpzAQEScNXtaner@ChacBAnUZpMkMeFPbSpCoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Follow me at Google+ or share a post Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
Technical Debt for Policymakers BlogMy blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!
Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunBad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? Learn what we can do when we love the work but not the job.
303 Tips for Virtual and Global TeamsLearn how to make your virtual global team sing.
101 Tips for Managing ChangeAre you managing a change effort that faces rampant cynicism, passive non-cooperation, or maybe even outright revolt?
101 Tips for Effective MeetingsLearn how to make meetings more productive — and more rare.
Exchange your "personal trade secrets" — the tips, tricks and techniques that make you an ace — with other aces, anonymously. Visit the Library of Personal Trade Secrets.