Mark Anthony Dyson
Founder, The Voice of Job Seekers
Mark Anthony Dyson is the founder of the award-winning blog and podcast "The Voice of Job Seekers." We recently caught up with Mark Anthony to hear his thoughts on getting the most out of a job search, and also learned some tips on using networking, social media, and blogging to help improve your employment prospects.
Tell us a little about your background. Why did you decide to start a podcast and website?
After several careers, I was intrigued with using my experience in helping people find jobs. I started a resume writing company, but I dissolved it because it wasn't the path I wanted and (creatively speaking) was limiting. One day on my old resume blog, one of my friends and Twitter followers said, "Thank you for being the voice of job seekers." That one comment inspired me to start the blog. After two years and more than 100 articles came the podcast, which was the next natural step.
Despite the rise of user-friendly online job sites, what are some of the biggest challenges that today's employment seekers are facing?
Job seekers focus so much energy on their job in the near-term that they neglect the whole picture. Networking is the single differentiator of job success, because most people find jobs through referrals as a result of their network. Most of your career with or without a job should be connecting with people in one form or another. Although everyone won't be able to refer you to a job, you should be adding value. People remember who has added (and constantly adds) value in their connection experience with you.
Job seekers focus so much energy on their job in the near-term that they neglect the whole picture.
What are some of the things that today's job seekers are doing wrong (or failing to do) that are substantially affecting their chances of getting hired?
Many job seekers don't realize the many components to take care of during the length of their career. There are many strategies to employ to continue success. If you are relying on one component, the frustration will continue. "I just want a job" is not a strategy or a sustainable value to an employer. You can't bring value if your career aspirations are compared to a hired hand. A hired hand only works for the paycheck, does enough to say the job is done, and doesn't realize other opportunities at their fingertips. So stop being a hired hand!
Instead, be like the shepherd who has a holistic view of his or her responsibilities and will take responsibility for everything affecting the proverbial herd. There are many components to your career, and you cannot afford to let anything get away from you.
What advice do you give to underemployed people who are having to juggle a part-time job while also looking for full-time employment?
There are things you want to implement for now and the long term of your career:
- Constantly network and foster relationships related directly and indirectly to your career aspirations. Even while working and pivoting to a new career, connect with people who have jobs you want. Build a large network of hundreds (and thousands).
- Volunteer. It can change the game as you pivot industries and careers. As you obtain new skills, you can hone them with organizations looking for help. You can shape how often, how long, and how much you wish to engage your skills.
- Collect testimonials and recommendations and don't forget to document them. Linkedin is the ideal place for people to brag about you, but whatever the method, keep them in a place where you can post them (Evernote, Dropbox, website, etc.).
- Document and publish ideas and thoughts, via audio, video, and writing. Offer potential employers value and start shaping the hiring conversation.
- Target companies that fit your desired position. Find ways to get referred.
Do you have any strategies to combat the feelings of discouragement and hopelessness that come with lengthy job searches where applicants are constantly getting turned down for jobs or are not hearing back from employers whom they've contacted?
- Try many different strategies and concentrate on the work. Employers want to see you being purposeful and mission-minded. You have to throw yourself into your skill/industry/career, but draw lines at potentially crossing into your family/health/fulfillment areas.
- Don't discard employers who have been either unresponsive or have said no. "No" at times means "not yet." Show them you're persistent and resilient. Those are personal attributes valuable to everyone, including employers.
- Make life better for your family, whether it's mom and/or dad, your spouse, or your kids. If you have more time, be a servant. I remember when I was employed and it hit me that if I am not useful during unemployment, how will I be useful (other than paying bills) if employed? The job search should continue, but if you are making people happier, you will be seen less as unemployed and more as needed. It will also take your mind off of the stress caused by waiting and rejection.
When you were a hiring manager, what were some of the biggest turnoffs or taboos that bothered you during an interview with a job candidate?
Two things turned me off as a hiring manager: someone who didn't listen well, and someone not asking questions during the interview. Listening is the key to everything that impresses an interviewer. The intel you gain from listening forms useful questions. If an interviewer is incessantly repeating questions, the meeting is essentially over.
To what extent can blogging or social media help a person find job prospects?
Blogging on your own website is a powerful way of showing the world (and potential employers) your value proposition over time. I've seen people leverage their blogs to get raises, offer their readers value, and secure interviews or even contractual work. Mostly, it is the social proof offering a preview of how you'll contribute to an employer. Ultimately, original thoughts and content intrigue people. Even if someone is wrong about what they wrote, people are wondering how you arrived at your destination.
What do you foresee for the future of the job market, and how do you think the job search process will evolve?
As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more prominent, job seekers will need to learn to disrupt the process to get noticed. If you apply to dozens of positions online to companies using the same software, it can work against you. Predictable elements can exclude you from candidacy before you finish an application. Job seekers will need to rely on creativity, personal branding, and content creation to stand out.
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