Empower yourself to make a change: Use passion, gumption, and maybe even anger as fuel for getting better results.

I recently read a story on CNN.com entitled Both parties abandon the jobless. It’s an interesting take on the political stances (or not) of both parties regarding assisting the unemployed.

The current economic recovery is weak and job creation is slow.  I also think we’re an eyelash away from another financial meltdown as everybody’s trigger or panic point is set much lower now than it was just a few years ago.  But here’s something that we don’t think about enough: Isn’t it strange that in this tepid economic situation, neither of the two U.S. political parties is offering a plan to do anything about the job(less) situation?

It also raises an interesting question: Just how much is the government responsible for keeping former worker’s afloat and how much lies on the side of the workers themselves?

For the past 25 years we have been living in a global economy.  Add the advent of the internet over the past 15 years and you have business that is now being done at light speed.   The companies that are hugely successful today (Apple, Disney, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart) figured this out a long time ago and adopted the change.  The companies that didn’t (Commodore, Schwinn, Polaroid, Ames Department Store) have since become extinct.  Need cheap labor?  Look overseas.  Low overhead?  Employ a web-centric presence as opposed to the old-fashioned brick and mortar.  Many of the new business principles being employed by successful companies today are a result of adapting to the changing marketplace—with some companies even completely reinventing themselves (…And the Award goes to Apple).

Is it our responsibility to keep our career flexible and to reinvent oneself, ala Apple, allowing for changes in the economy and marketplace or is it the government’s responsibility to take care of its citizens—promote the general welfare of the people if you will—while new jobs emerge or benefits are extended?

My recommendation is this: Don’t wait around for Washington to help out because they probably won’t.  I’m not being a defeatist, just realistic given the current economic and policy-making challenges our country faces.  Plus, if you’ve logged on to my web site and are reading this blog, I know you have all the necessary tools within you right now to make a change for the better!

Don’t wait for things to change, change them yourself.  Even in today’s challenging job market and lukewarm economy, you can still win the job you desire if you do things differently than the average, homogenous job seeker who is reactively waiting for things to change.

Here are 7 Action Items you can implement immediately to get better results in your job search—and career.  These are not theory or hypothesis, they are proven techniques that will work if you commit to doing the heavy lifting.

1- Stay positive, stay focused, and develop a proactive mindset.

I know this may sound cliché, simplistic, and self-evident, but it’s the NUMBER ONE success factor for you achieving your goals—personal and professional.

For many people, shock, anger, resentment, negativity, and sometimes even depression can all be byproducts of a layoff or firing.  But the bigger problem are the devastating effects that becoming habitually negative and pessimistic can have on our attitude towards work, the job search, and our life.

Stay positive by embarking on productive activities that give you the greatest levels of pleasure and boost your self-esteem.  Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage you.  Take some time to write out new goals.  Use positive affirmations and read motivational material on a daily basis.  You need support right now, not critics, so try to minimize your exposure to pessimistic people.  Ditch the negative mindset and employ an attitude of positive expectancy.  This is the step one in making any successful job, career, or life-altering change.  Get involved in a volunteer activity as a means of keeping your skills sharp, networking, and giving back to your community.  You’ll feel terrific when you feel like you are making a difference!

2- Approach the job search as a full time job.  Set daily goals, to-dos, and make a schedule.

Most people put more thought and planning into a 5-day vacation than they do in their long-term career goals.  Approach your search as a full-time job, listing and planning out all the key elements of a successful job search.  They may include things like researching companies, networking, tuning up your resume, looking for viable positions, assembling cover letters, portfolios, and business plans, and devising an interview strategy.  There is a lot to do and stay busy with when the job search is done right!  Block out days and times when you’ll accomplish each task.  Regularly schedule meetings and lunches with old coworkers and networking contacts and develop momentum.  You’ll feel better about yourself and how you are spending your time when you stay productive and maintain a regular schedule.

3- Contact Companies of Interest

How do you locate positions that exist only in the minds of directors, vice presidents and company leaders?  Seventy to eighty percent of all jobs are never advertised according to the U.S. Department of Labor.  By assembling a target list of companies and then detailing a strategy for reaching and selling the hiring manager, mining the hidden job market can be a powerful job search technique. Employ a solid social media strategy using sites like Linked In and Twitter to reach out to and follow key company representatives and to network your way to informational and job interviews. Use sites like www.ZoomInfo.com, www.WetFeet.com, www.Vault.com, and www.GlassDoor.com to conduct company research and get the inside scoop on what people are earning and saying about their employer.

4- Use the V-Letter

One cover letter strategy to lessen your chances of ending up in the “discard stack” is called the V-Letter.  This document is a short letter that compares your qualifications with the employer’s requirements for the job.  It uses the same concept as a cover letter with the only difference being that you are replacing the middle paragraph (the “body” of the cover letter) with a “skills table” drawing parallels to the company’s requirements and what you have to offer.  It’s brief and concise enough to catch the reader’s eye with highly relevant material within those first crucial seconds.

V-Letter Sample

5- Customize Your Resume

It is absolutely imperative that your resume be customized for the specific position that you’re applying for.  Do not allow the hiring manager to make the assumption that you will be a good fit for the position.  Work in relevant keywords and buzzwords (provided you have them) taken directly from the job description to increase your chances.  Make it crystal clear that you are a solid fit for the job.  Customize your resume and sell them—on paper!

Branded High-Impact Sample Resume

Don’t have a resume or need an update? Look HERE

6- The Job Businesses Plan

A Job Business Plan is a two to three page mini-business plan you present to the prospective employer during the interview or, in certain cases, before the interview phase.  It is designed to show them that you took the time to assess their business needs, perhaps by speaking with an inside coach or the hiring manager, and have used your creativity and business intellect in designing a results-based action plan to offer solutions.

Sample Job Business Plan

7- The Brag Book

A Brag Book is a professional portfolio—usually a three-ring binder with page protectors—that details documented academic and professional achievements.  By employing this strategy and presenting it during an interview, you are stating to Company X that you are someone who always does more than expected, are a high-achiever, and approaches your job in a very well-organized and pragmatic manner.

Brag Book Content Ideas

For the job market and your career in 2011, more than anything else, you need to distinguish yourself from the masses.  Many published job openings on the Internet can receive hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of responses. The bigger question is are these posted openings still available or even legit?  You need to package, bundle, and market yourself as the ideal fit for the position you’re applying for.  You need to market yourself as a specialist at what you do.  You need to pay special attention to details and show the prospective employer that you are not simply your average run-of-the-mill employee.  You need to employ 2011 Rules like sending a customized resume and using social media to uncover the plethora of unadvertised jobs.

Unfortunately, Spiderman, General Patton, General Custer, donkeys or elephants are not going to be riding to the rescue.  Determine what you want and what stokes your passion.  Sixty percent of your entire adult life is spent in some sort of work-related activity. Don’t just “settle” when you can HAVE.  Take the first step—today!