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Guest Blog: The Whole Person Job Search: Rethinking How Americans Get Work

by Liz Ryan

I grew up as a child and then as a corporate HR person in the Age of Lifetime Employment. Of course, we didn’t use that terminology, but the expectation was the same. My dad worked for one company for 35 years. I started working full-time in the early 1980s, and most of the people around me fully expected to retire from the jobs they were in. Employment in America has undergone massive changes since then.

Working people can’t expect to stay in the same career path for more than a few years, much less stay with one employer. The new skills job seekers need are not the same as the job search skills we taught 20 or even 10 years ago. Today, job seekers need new muscles, and they need ways to fill their emotional fuel tanks. Depleted self esteem is the elephant in the room for workforce developers and career coaches. At Human Workplace we call the phenomenon The Mojo Drop™. When a job seeker’s mojo is gone, what’s the point of continuing to talk about job applications and interview attire? The mojo-less job seeker is not going to try, because he doesn’t feel up to the task. You can see it in his face. 

Our career development centers have been slow to catch up to the shifting of tectonic plates in the American employment  ecosystem. That’s why we started Human Workplace – to put human energy and spark (we call it mojo!) back at center stage in any conversation about job search, where it belongs. Once a job-seeker’s flame is relit, he or she can take on the challenges that a 21st-century job search requires.

We mentioned that job seekers need to build new muscles for the new-millennium workplace, where jobs change frequently and job security is something you carry around with you. We tell job seekers that the more secure a job looks, the more dangerous it is, because the traditionally "secure" jobs with slow-moving organizations give a working person the least opportunity to grow the self reliance and try-anything muscles this new working world requires.

What sorts of muscles am I talking about? Here are a few examples:

PAIN-SPOTTING is the process of looking around your environment to notice which organizations might have the types of problems (or “business pain”) you traditionally relieve via your efforts.

FRAMING is the technique of shifting the way you describe your background, to make your experience especially relevant to a given employer.

STORYTELLING is the nearly lost art of explaining what you did that made a difference on a past job, not in a boring list of Tasks and Duties but in a flesh-and-blood story that will show how you get things done.

PERSPECTIVE-TAKING means putting yourself in a hiring manager’s shoes. What sorts of business pain is a hiring manager likely to have? By the time you’ve worked a few jobs, you know what all the movies look like. We need to use our knowledge of a hiring manager’s movie to start a conversation.

INTERVIEWING – Interviewing in Human Workplace language means asking questions as an active participant in any conversation, including a job interview. It means learning more about an opportunity. We use the same technique when we’re networking, and everywhere we interact with people.

It is a new day. The job-search mindset and methodology left over from the Age of Lifetime Employment cannot help us now. Job seekers need to learn to fish, not eat fish sandwiches.  Employers need to grow new muscles, too! Workforce developers and job club leaders have a critical role to play in the evolution of the American career education system, from a transactional mentality to a lifetime-skill-building one. Now is the time to empower America’s job-seeking public with mojo!

Liz Ryan is the CEO and Founder of Human Workplace, a coaching and publishing firm whose mission is to bring a human voice into business and career development. Liz was a Fortune 500 Human Resources VP for 20 years before becoming the advisor to millions of readers, listeners and members of the Human Workplace community.

Listening to Workers
Posted on August 19, 2013 by Ben Seigel
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Insights from the Long-Term Unemployed

Earlier this year, I wrote about the innovative work of community-based job clubs across the country that work specifically with mid- to senior-level baby boomer professionals who have been unemployed for six months, a year - sometimes even longer. These support groups provide networking opportunities, job search tips and fellowship to individuals, most of whom have never before been out of work for an extended period of time.

To better understand and address the needs of these job seekers, Eric Seleznow, the new acting assistant secretary of labor for employment and training, myself and other leaders from across the Labor Department recently sat down with about 20 long-term unemployed professionals who attend similar job clubs in the Washington metro area. Our aim was to learn more about their experiences, including how they meet their financial obligations, how their job searches progress and how they upgrade their skills. We also wanted their insights into what types of services and supports would help them the most in returning to work.

To read the rest of this blog please visit the DOL blog (Work in Progress) at:

And, if you are on Facebook, feel free to "Like" it to express your support of helping the long-term unemployed.