An exit strategy for the miserably employed

be strategic in your job search, improving your job chances, an exit strategy for the miserably employed,
I met with a job seeker recently who was in the midst of a miserable job experience. Perhaps you can relate. You may dread going to work at your current employer.

Sometimes it can feel like you are trapped by a bad work situation, but you aren't ... if you take steps to escape. 

Here’s how:

1) Decide if your work situation is really that bad or if you have let office gossip taint your perspective. Also consider if you are letting a fixable problem fester instead of doing something about it. Don’t skim over this guidance … and don’t take the good aspects of your job for granted. 

Make a list of what’s good and bad about your job and tally it up. Does the good outweigh the bad? If yes, then consider sticking with it and improving the situation. Jobs are hard to come by so don’t take leaving your job lightly, but if the bad outweighs the good or if you are in a crisis situation where you feel you could lose your job any minute …

2) Commit to fully engaging in a stealth job search … a search you keep on the down low so it won’t jeopardize your current employment. Note that I said “commit.” That’s important. Many miserably employed people are immobilized by fear or procrastination and don’t take action … staying in a bad situation for years … all the while losing their confidence, energy and joy. Stop that! 

Prepare now for opportunities that will come … it will build your confidence and restore your hope for a better career. One great way to prepare is to reach out to recruiters who specialize in your field or industry. Here's how.

3)  Refocus your mind from your bad job drama to the pursuit of a passion. Take salsa dancing ... design jewelry ... build a bookshelf ... write a book ... do something to free your mind from negativity (which can only make your work situation worse and make you less attractive to hiring companies). 

Pursuing such a passion may even lead you to a new business or career, but even if it doesn't, it can help you see that your job predicament is not your whole world.

4) Complete an action plan to determine the job you want and how to land it. Visit the Free Downloads page to find a Career Search Action Plan, as well as a Career Search Checklist and other free printable resources.

5) Carefully let the right people know that you are job seeking:
  • Don’t tell your coworkers that you are unhappy or job seeking. The word will spread quickly and can be used against you.
  • Don’t broadcast your job search or air your dirty laundry on your LinkedIn status bar or in LinkedIn group discussions, or on your Facebook wall, or any other social media site. Social networking can be useful, but if you want to remain employed while job seeking, communicate privately and confidentially to individuals who can help you; never in an open forum.
  • Do un-friend bosses and coworkers on Facebook and make your Facebook wall private if your conversations there could hurt your job prospects. Note: People do not receive a notice that you un-friended them, but they may notice they can no longer view your wall. Explain to them that due to problems you’ve had with the site, you’ve curtailed your activity on it.
  • Do disconnect with bosses and coworkers on LinkedIn if you plan to markedly change your status or join job seeking groups.

Here's how to disconnect from someone on LinkedIn:
- Log onto LinkedIn and visit the person's profile. 
- Click the triangle next to the blue "Send a Message" button near the top.
- Select Remove Connection.

Note: People do not receive a notice that you disconnected from them, but they may see your name in the "People You May Know" box on your Home Page as a potential person to connect with. Be ready to express surprise if they invite you to re-connect and comment that they thought they were already connected to you. 
  • Do temporarily change your LinkedIn settings to not show your profile updates (otherwise your connections will receive a notice of these activities in their network updates).
Here's how to keep your profile changes private:
- Go to your Edit Profile page.
- On the right sidebar, look for the white box that reads, "Notify your network". 
- Click the down arrow and select "No, do not publish changes". Note that I typically leave this option turned off, but you may want to change it to "Yes, publish changes" after you have completely finished profile edits to alert your network about your recent updates and career aspirations.
  • Do contact people who can help you. Send them your resume, tell them what kind of job that you seek, ask them to refer you for positions, and to send you job leads. Keep in touch so that they know your status and that you still want their help. Also remember to help those who help you by sending them job or business leads, by referring business to them, and by talking them up to their potential customers.
6) Improve yourself on your current company’s dime … This is a win/win deal for you and your company. Figure out your weaknesses … the things you need to improve before other companies will hire you and gain that knowledge now. Take classes, learn new software, ask an accomplished coworker to teach you things, etc. By learning new skills, you will become a better worker for your current company and perhaps, a more qualified candidate for a better internal job.

7) Become a leader in your field on LinkedIn by sharing your knowledge … Determine what aspects of your field you are most qualified to share wisdom. For example, if you are a fundraising professional who has been involved in a capital campaign, share that knowledge in relevant LinkedIn group discussions. 

A friend of mine became a thought leader on fencing, a sport that had been his passion for years. In a similar way, I was always good at helping friends get work, so I started sharing job tips on LinkedIn. From there the blog was born.

It’s easy to participate in a LinkedIn group … simply join a group, get accepted and either create your own posts or respond to other people's posts. Making these efforts can make a huge difference in how people perceive you. I toiled at progressive communications positions for 20+ years, but it wasn’t until I started participating in discussion groups that peers noticeably began perceiving me as a communications leader.

If you are wearing the battle scars of a bad job, decide today to take action ... after all, it can help you Get a Job! -- Kathy


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An easy way to get people to see your LinkedIn recommendations

Did you know? 

Unless employers or customers are your 1st or 2nd degree connection or have paid for a premium account, they can’t see your full profile … or all of the splendid written LinkedIn recommendations that you’ve racked up. 

To fix that limitation, send them your LinkedIn recommendations as a document. It’s easy to do and so effective.

Create and share a document featuring your best LinkedIn recommendations.

Simply copy your LinkedIn recommendations into a Word document and format it to look clean and easy to read. Add a nice headline and perhaps your picture. Consider saving it as an easy-to-read pdf (Adobe Acrobat) file. And voila! You have an impressive document that you can use to …

  • Attach to emails when you are applying for jobs or convincing a prospect that they should do business with you.
  • Upload the document to online job application systems (aka Application Tracking Systems) when the system asks if you would like to upload documents in addition to your resume.
  • Include the sheet in a portfolio that you present at job interviews.

Need more LinkedIn recommendations to make this work?
Encourage your 1st degree LinkedIn connections to write a recommendation for you by scrolling to the Recommendations section of your Edit Profile page and clicking “Ask to be recommended”.  Follow the prompts to invite select people to recommend you. Only ask people to recommend who you know well enough to vouch for you.

To request recommendations, scroll to the Recommendations section of your Edit Profile page and click "Ask to be recommended".

To help people write recommendations about you, give them a general idea about what you would like them to say, or send them your resume and/or the job description from the job that they are recommending you for.

Seek to have at least two recommendations for each of your current and past companies because that’s how many can appear on your profile without visitors having to click to view more.

Recommend others! To encourage people to make recommendations about you, make thoughtful recommendations about them first. Many people will gladly return the favor.

To recommend people, visit a person’s profile and then click the arrow next to the "Send a message" button. Click "Recommend" and follow the prompts.

Develop a LinkedIn recommendation sheet and share it with others! Doing so could help you Get a Job! 

What ideas do you have about this subject? Share your thoughts. If I can be of help to you, please let me know. Invite me to connect on LinkedIn and then feel free to ask me questions. -- Kathy


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How do I keep an employer from calling my old boss?

Question: How do I keep potential employers from calling my old boss? I fear he will say something that will ruin my job chances.

Answer: Just because a potential employer asks for your former supervisor's name and contact information on its application form doesn't mean that you have to give it to them. In fact, most companies forbid their employees from taking such calls. They tell their employees to refer all questions about a former employee to the Human Resources department. 

Why? Because a former boss could say something that could not only hurt your job chances, but put your former company at risk. That's because you could sue your former employer for defamation of character because of what your old boss said about you. This article from provides details about what constitutes defamation.

What should you do? 
When asked to provide your former supervisor's name and contact information, handle it this way:

Supervisor's First Name: Company Policy
Supervisor's Last Name: Call HR
Supervisor's Phone Number: [HR DEPARTMENT'S PHONE NUMBER]
Supervisor's Email Address: [HR DEPARTMENT'S MAIN EMAIL ADDRESS]

Why this works: You are abiding by your former company's rule (I guarantee that they don't want people to call your former boss!) while providing the potential employer with the appropriate contact at your old company. 

Fortunately most Human Resources departments are trained to only give neutral, basic information about your employment with the company, such as ... 

  • Beginning and ending employment dates
  • Beginning and ending job titles
  • Beginning and ending salary or wages
  • Occasionally they will also answer the question, "Is this former employer eligible for re-hire," to which the HR representative may answer yes or no with no reason given for the answer. 
Even if the HR department says that you aren't eligible for re-hire, that answer in itself is not necessarily a deal breaker because companies often make those who paid to go away (such as through a layoff or "voluntary" separation) ineligible for re-hire.

It's important to note that it is not illegal for past employers to say more about you than just "name, rank and serial number". As this article on Monster explains, they can and sometimes do say more ... and that "more" could be negative. But your chances of the company sticking to the neutral basics are better when you direct them to the Human Resources department rather than sending them to your old boss who wishes you harm. 

Other Tips

  • Confirm with your past employers' Human Resources departments to see what they plans to say about you. Seek to get such statements in writing.
  • Make amends with former bosses. Even if you tell people to call HR, they may try contacting your former supervisors anyway. You'll sleep better at night knowing there aren't old bosses out there trying to destroy you.
  • If you learn that a former employer is bad mouthing you, call the HR department and tell them that you will seek legal action if they don't stop. That will usually solve the problem.
  • If you know a former boss will speak positively about you, by all means direct the potential employer to that person!   

Be smart about how you direct potential employers to your former company ... doing so can help you ... Get a Job!

What thoughts do you have about this topic? 
Has a former employer trashed you to a potential employer? How did you handle it? Share your questions or comments! -- Kathy


Why speaking opportunities can lead to a job … or a better one

Why should you speak publicly while in job search mode? Because the perception of someone who delivers presentations, and who does it really well, is that they are an expert. Companies like to hire and promote experts.

Research shows that speaking engagements are:

1) Business opportunities
2) Career opportunities
3) Leadership opportunities

Merely being in front of a group and presenting sets you apart from the crowd, particularly if you do it well. To be a strong presenter, consistently study, practice and apply the art and science of public speaking and presentation skills.

Steps to strong presenting

  • KNOW your subject.
  • STUDY to develop a higher level of expertise on your topic than others possess.
  • KNOW the structure or outline of your presentation and follow it.
  • HAVE A POINT - Have you ever seen and heard a speaker talk and talk and not say anything? Don’t be that person! Download FREE Speaker’s Template
  • KNOW your content so that you can convey it seamlessly. Delivery trumps content.

If you don't have excellent presentation skills, you can learn them. Check out Toastmasters and consider hiring a professional presentation coach.
There are speaking opportunities off line and online. Let’s look at each.

Off-Line Speaking Opportunities
Many groups, associations, and companies have guest speakers. You can find contact information for most of these groups online. The majority of such groups do not pay a speaking fee, but they may offer you a meal and a table to sell your books. (You have a book or are working on one, aren’t you? … being an author also encourages people to think of you as an expert).

If asked what you charge (and your research tells you they don’t pay), tell them you’ll “waive your regular fee for them.” Eventually you may work your way into paying gigs.

Groups that often seek speakers include:

  • Chambers of commerce
  • Meetup groups
  • Professional and trade associations
  • Rotary clubs
  • Lions clubs
  • Optimists clubs
  • Colleges
  • Companies that have “Lunch & Learns” with guest speakers

TV and Radio
Pursue opportunities to appear as an expert on a local TV news shows or on locally-produced shows like Good Morning, Cleveland or Show-Me St. Louis.

  • Become the go-to person to comment on a trending news story. Continually let TV and radio producers and reporter know of your topical expertise by calling, emailing, and mailing them information about why you are the go-to expert. (Producers keep a list of experts … be on their list for your topics!) The better you do in these interviews, the more often that they will reach out to you when your topic comes up in the news.
  • Consider TV stations’ paid programming option. You pay to be on their show, but it looks like a real interview, which can help you spread the word that you are an expert. 
  • Look into being a guest on someone else’s Internet Radio program, such as on Blog Talk Radio, or host your own show on such sites.

Book Promotion
If you’ve written a book, seek to make presentations about it or have a book-signing event at:

  • Book stores
  • Libraries
  • Specialty stores that sell products related to your book subject

Online Speaking Opportunities
The Internet provides a variety of speaking engagements. Let’s look at a few:

Most people are visual learners. The next most popular way people process information is by listening. YouTube delivers the best of both worlds! 

  • If you don’t have a YouTube Channel, get one! Regularly post short, informational videos on the site to build a following. 
  • Link the video to your website and to your dedicated landing page for a particular offer. 
  • Add the web address into the description section of the video, reached by clicking on Video Manager. View my YouTube channel.
  • Produce good videos. They don’t have to be professionally produced, but by spending a bit of money, studying the craft of video production, and practicing, you can produce quality videos. 
  • Search DIY Video Production on YouTube. You will find lots of help.

Here are my recommendations for producing quality videos:

  • Your cell phone video camera may work adequately, but it is best to invest in an HD video camera.
  • Good lighting is essential. DIY videos on this topic are worth your time investment. The kind of lights and where they focus is critical. My preference is infinite white lighting, because it is nothing but bright white with no distractions, which puts the focus on me, the speaker, where it should be.
  • Editing software is mandatory for a good video production. ScreenFlow for Mac and Camtasia for PC and Macs are excellent, moderately priced choices.
  • Sites like SlideShare let you embed your video into a PowerPoint presentation or upload video clip links onto your LinkedIn profile and web site. SlideShare gets great traffic so posting your videos there will help you build a following.

Since many people are auditory learners, add an audio (only) option in addition to a video link at the top of your blog posts. View related article.

  • Invest in a good microphone. I use a Rode Smartlav Lavaliere microphone that plugs into my iPhone.  
  • Use audio editing software such as Audacity, which is available for free for Macs and PCs.
  • Link your audio to your iTunes Podcast Channel. Doing so provides another way for Google to find and promote your content.

In conclusion ... work it!

  • Tell everyone that you are looking for speaking engagements! List your topics and provide them with your contact information so that they can easily pass on your information to others. Refer other speakers to your interviewers or event hosts. Many will repay the kindness by referring you!
  • Call, email, and continually follow-up with groups to secure speaking opportunities. Getting booked may take a while at first, so be patient and persistent.
  • Your talk should not be a commercial, although with permission from the host, you may be able to touch briefly on what you offer. Your presentation should provide valuable information that the audience can use. If all you do is sell, you’ll lose speaking opportunities because your presentations will be considered too sales-focused.

Pursue Speaking Opportunities! Doing so can help youGet a Job!

Prepare for your speaking opportunities by getting your FREE Speaker’s Template HERE!

Guest post by Fred E. Miller, Speaker, Author, and Presentation Coach

The title of his first book is “NO SWEAT Public Speaking!”

Thanks, Fred! You just made learning to pursue speaking opportunities No Sweat! Consider contacting Fred to learn how to speak publicly. Businesses, individuals, and organizations hire Fred to improve their networking, public speaking, and presentation skills. -- Kathy

Fred's contact information:


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