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Oh no. Not the phone!

Career Collective post: Once a month, a group of career professionals blog on a subject topical and timely for a job seeker. We’ll post our thoughts on our own blog and link to the post of our colleagues on the same topic.

This month’s topic: How to avoid scary career/resume mistakes? How to ensure your resume/career “costume” fits you / attracts your target audience?

Responses from others contributors linked at the end. Follow the hashtag #CareerCollective on Twitter.

Photo by patrickcoe via Flickr

I’ve been “writing” this post in my head for months now. When I saw The Collective’s Halloween topic, I knew it was time to get it out of my head and on to my blog. (Gee I wish I had a USB port for that.)

The scariest thing I see people do in a job search and throughout their career is ignore offers of help from people with a smidge more knowledge than them about a specific topic. They ask questions, expecting “easy” no effort answers but when it requires {HORRORS} dialing the telephone, they disappear. Where do they go? What evil force sucks them into a land of no phone access bringing an inability to follow up and gather the information they so desperately needed before “THE PHONE” reared its ugly head?

Example One:
A young man on Twitter sent a public request to an HR follower and me asking for our impression of his LinkedIn page. I try to be gracious when I get requests like this from complete strangers. Depending on my workload / schedule, I’m not always able to help, but I do what can. I had a moment, so I looked at the page. It needed focus and a clearer presentation of value. Rather than attempting to give helpful feedback in 140-characters or multiple tweets, I sent him a Direct Message* (DM).  I told him the profile could be improved and then offered to have a brief conversation with him to give more specific feedback. He sent back a surprised DM, “Really? You’d talk with me about this? Let me check my calendar and get back to you.”

~I never heard from him again.

(*For you non-Twitter people, a DM is a private message sent from one Twitter user to another.)

Example Two:
I got an email from a former client asking the best way to approach a specific company. She gave me minimal information. There were so many unknown variables, I didn’t want to answer the question without more detail. I sent her an email letting her know I needed a bit more information before I could give her a good answer. I told her to call me and we could “hatch a plan” together. I let her know my schedule for the next two days and said call at your convenience.

~I never heard from her again.

Example Three:

A follower on Twitter made me aware of one of their follower’s questions asking if they should let an employer know their salary expectations in the early stages of the interview process. The questioner was a recent college graduate. I replied to her inquiry (NOOO) and said I’d happily share some resources with her; give me a call. True, I didn’t give her my phone number outright, but a quick trip to my Twitter page and on to my website would yield that information in about 20 seconds.

~ I never heard from her.

I have plenty more examples of “spooky” disappearing questioners, but you get the point. I don’t understand why otherwise intelligent people freeze when it comes to picking up and dialing the telephone. Is having a conversation really that scary? I (absolutely) don’t know everything, but I do have wonderful career resources through professional organizations and an extensive Twitter community. Usually, if asked a question and I don’t know the answer, I know of a resource or can tap into my network and at least point the questioner in the right direction.

Originally, these people were hungry for information, but when it meant they had to do something other than type 140-characters on Twitter or click the send button on an email, they disappeared. No matter where you are in your career, given the opportunity to hear a fresh, new perspective, or garner insights from someone who might know, especially given a “free, no obligation, I just want to help” opportunity, JUMP on it. You don’t know what you don’t know until you follow through.

(Lest my phone start ringing off the hook, bear in mind this is my profession. I’ve grown accustomed to living indoors and eating regularly, so have to earn a living. I can’t always accommodate requests for free advice and don’t always time for “quick” calls to “pick my brain.” (Ewwww.) However, if I offer, it’s sincere and I’ll make the time. I’m sure other professionals operate the same way.)

Career Collective

Here’s what my colleagues have to say:

Where Are the Wild Things, Anyway?, @WorkWithIllness

Is Your Job Search Making You Feel Like a Smashed Pumpkin?, @DebraWheatman

Hiding in Plain Sight, @WalterAkana,

Don’t make these frightful resume mistakes, @LaurieBerenson

How Not to Be a Spooky Job Seeker, @heathermundell

A Tombstone Resume:Eulogizing Your Experience, @GayleHoward

The Top Ten Scary Things Job Seekers Do, @barbarasafani

Oh, Job Search Isn’t Like Trick or Treating?, @careersherpa

A Most Unfortunate Resume Mistake No One Will Tell You, @chandlee

Oh no. Not the phone!, @DawnBugni

Halloween Caution: Job Seeker Horror, @resumeservice

Boo! Are you scaring away opportunities or the competition? @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

Your Career Brand: A Scary Trick or an Appealing Treat?, @KCCareerCoach

How to avoid mistakes on your resume, @Keppie_Careers

Sc-sc-scary Resume Mistakes, @erinkennedycprw

A Flawed Resume is a Scary Prospect, @KatCareerGal

Job Search Angst: Like Clouds Mounting Before a Storm, @ValueIntoWords

Does Your Career Costume Fit You?, @expatcoachmegan

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20 Comments

  1. Gayle Howard says:

    Love this Dawn. You make me laugh! You know what I think it is? Not that they think they’ll be pulled down the phone against their will, but they think that the minute you get them on the phone, you’re going to use some Halloween concoction that you’ve been working on there to take away their free will and force them to buy thousands, no wait, millions of dollars worth of your services. They’re scared that once you have their telephone number you’re going to gaslight them into revealing their innermost secrets or their ATM PIN in a witchy form of mind control. Or, you know, you may just help them as a nice thing to do. Sometimes our greatest fears are just irrational and so self-sabotaging!

    • Dawn says:

      Gayle –

      YOU make me laugh. 🙂

      You are so right about our own fears being so self-sabotaging. Add to that how frequently we forget that last extra ump can mean the difference between success and failure and we become our own biggest obstacle. I’ve done it to myself before too. We all have. It comes with being human.

      I always love it when you visit. THANKS!!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dawn Bugni and Meg Montford, Gayle Tabor. Gayle Tabor said: RT @DawnBugni Oh no. Not the phone! http://bit.ly/94K4zW […]

  3. Clare says:

    It’s the magic wand syndrome. Someone, somewhere can be entrusted to fix all your problems – and that includes getting you a job!

    • Dawn says:

      Clare –

      SOOOOOO true. The most frequent response I give to job search/career questions is: “It depends.” There just is no magic wand, one-size-fits-all, yes/no way to go about this.

      Thank you for taking a moment add to the conversation. You’re welcome any time.

  4. Dawn,

    I see the same thing as well. It’s as if by making the phone call, the person is acknowledging that there is a problem and committing to solving it…and that’s scary. Great post.

    • Dawn says:

      Barbara –

      EXCELLENT point about acknowledging a problem and committing to solve it. That really is scary. It’s easier to sit and lament a circumstance than take a step forward toward resolving it. We’ve all been there.

      Wonderful add to the conversation. Thanks!!

  5. I think what you and Barbara said really nailed it for me. I’m amazed when people don’t follow up when I offer my time – as in when they buy my workbook and get a free call with me. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of this? But many people prefer the ask or the anonymity of the ask and are too afraid to stick their necks out.Thanks for the food for thought!

    • Dawn says:

      Rosalind –

      I didn’t even touch on the number of people who never take advantage (like your clients) of the after-delivery consult included as part of all my resume packages. All it takes is a moment to schedule and the commitment to make the time. I know we all get busy, but when given the opportunity for knowledgeable guidance, I don’t get passing it up — for any reason. Like I said … we don’t even know what we don’t know until we ask.

      Always thrilled to see you drop by. Thanks!!

  6. Dawn Lennon says:

    Sorry,Dawn, I was a tad slow getting to the sadly hilarious post! Scary but true…every word of it. The examples are like a vampire bite…small tooth marks that doom the victim forever. If a job seeker can/won’t/doesn’t talk to experts/contacts/resources voice to voice,yes on the telephone, imagine how they will perform in a phone interview or live! These are the same folks who often can’t understand why they don’t get hired. It’s a matter of their boooo and our hoooo! This was great fun, Dawn. Thanks. ~Dawn

    • Dawn says:

      Dawn –

      There is no “slow” in commenting. 🙂 I’m always happy to see your smiling gravatar in my comments section — regardless the timing.

      I like your vampire bite analogy. Get enough little things gathered together, and voila, you’ve got a huge honkin’ road block to success. Individually, one or two fears may not be a big thing, but start letting them build and multiply and a job seeker hits the blame and frustration wall, stalling forward movement.

      Wonderful insight. Thank you!

  7. I don’t like to talk on the phone very much but if someone offered to help me out I would call them in a second. Plus, a phone call from Dawn is super fun and they have no idea what they are missing out on 🙂

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