Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Networking Strategies

A big part of a job seeker's search strategy must involve networking. Networking utilizing social media is something I’ve discussed in previous blog posts; however, with the holidays quickly approaching, holiday parties can actually be prime opportunities to network as well. A job seeker should never miss an opportunity to network. So when you are attending holiday parties for both Christmas (or any other holiday you observe) as well as New Year’s, be sure to seize the opportunity to network. Here is a well-timed article I found to be very informative (below).

Happy holidays!

Networking Strategies for Holiday Parties

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nearing The End Of Another Year...

As we near the end of another year starts a time when people begin to re-evaluate their goals and objectives. Thoughts often turn to starting a job search. Or for many of course continuing the job search. A very common question I get is about resumes. What’s expected in today’s market? You could ask 100 different people and possibly get 100 different answers. In brief, my response is to follow these very simple guidelines:

1. Resumes can be longer than one page though going over three is getting a bit long.

2. Resumes should include two basic elements. They should provide a timeline including dates of employment & employers. They should include success stories &
achievements/accomplishments with each employer. This tells the potential employer what you can do for them.

I would also recommend checking out this article. It includes some very good advice.
Wall Street Journal's Updating a Resume for 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Job Search Tool Box - Social Media

Not a day goes by without me becoming engaged in a conversation with a job seeker, or soon to become job seeker, about launching a search. Over the years that conversation has remained the same with the only change being with the evolution of how the process is conducted. One of the first things a person must do is go to their networks. Take some time to create a list of people within your industry that you’ve come in contact with in the last ten or so years. Years ago it meant digging out all the business cards one had collected over the years. While this is still true today, often times contacts are in the form of email address books.

Social media has become a significant tool to pull out of the job search tool box. Networking with social media should be a well-planned process that can be very effective. However, some people I’ve found are very hesitant about using the power of social media networking. I ran across this article that addresses some of the hesitation. If you wish to discuss your specific job search please feel free to contact me.

View Article: 3 Myths About Online Networking in the Job Search from Business Insider

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Back to Business

Last week was a light and fun week for many. Yesterday it was all about getting back to business. While coaching a candidate as they prepared for a face to face interview this week, they brought up a couple very good questions. These questions are applicable across the board. I thought that in this week’s blog I’d get back to business and share this coaching experience.

The questions...

1) Do you know what the starting salary is for this position?
2) Is it acceptable to inquire about health insurance, 401K, and other benefits at this interview?

The answers...

At this stage I would avoid any questions regarding salary or benefits. While I realize these are important to you as they are to anyone, it can give an impression to the interviewer that the person asking is more interested in what the company can do for them. While that is true you are interested in knowing that, what they want to hear is what you can do for them. This is not just applicable to this company, this is true with any company and any interview situation. A candidate should concentrate on presenting themselves in the very best way possible. Focusing on how you can help the company achieve their goals is positioning you for a successful interview.

Now if these things are brought up by them, then it is fair game. Otherwise it is something that can be addressed later.

Regarding the salary on this position. The salary they are targeting exceeds where you were in your last role. It will be a financial gain for you should you progress to offer. So please rest assured if you are offered a job after the entire process I’m confident you will be pleased. I don’t like to get into specifics on salary ranges as there are just too many variables involved. And I’m not the one deciding what the salary will be. So I’ve found it best over the years to be certain two things are achieved going into a situation:

1) The opportunity presents a financial gain for the candidate, or
2) We are in what I call the “okay place” where the candidate’s expectations and company’s expectations are in an area where it makes sense to talk.

In your case, again, the salary targeted would present you with a financial gain from where you were at most recently.

Now if someone were to bring up the topic of salary and let’s just say they ask you what your expectations are. Your safest bet is to answer by saying something like, while salary is important to me just like it would be to anyone, I’d first like to be certain I’m the right person for you and this is the right opportunity for me. If after the entire process you are interested in bringing me on board I’d seriously consider your fair and competitive offer for the position.

Hoping you all have a successful and productive week getting back to business.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Turkey

This Thanksgiving is going to be a bit “unusual” for our house. While my wife is off cruising to exotic locations such as Cozumel & Key West, I am home being super dad making certain my daughter gets to school and her basketball tournaments. However, come Thanksgiving Day I won’t be attempting to cook a turkey. We will be eating out to avoid the same fate as William Shatner in this light hearted video (below) about safety with frying turkeys. I know my limitations.

Have a great holiday!

William Shatner & State Farm® present "Eat, Fry, Love," a turkey fryer fire cautionary tale!
(Click to view video)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Damage Control for a Forced Exit

How do you maintain your reputation for future employment if you have gone through a “forced exit”? Damage Control for a Forced Exit by the Wall Street Journal (click on article title to view) has a few strategies to follow in order to “preserve your reputation” in hopes you can land new employment in the relatively near future. Is there anything you would add to the list? Anything you would reconsider?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Watch The Details

Basketball season is now in full swing with my daughter’s team playing in their first tournament of the season this last weekend. While they performed well, the games still could have gone either way. A bad pass here, missed lay-up there. So in practice last night their coach no doubt focused with them on the details. Back to the basics in some respects.

The competition is tougher now than ever. So when you secure an opportunity to interview for a position focus on the details. It’s these details that can make the difference and set you apart from the others.

Research. Get to know the organization and their product portfolio. Being knowledgeable shows the company you are interested.

Prepare questions. Being ready with questions also lets the company know you are interested.

Dress the part. Leave nothing to chance. Wear nice interview attire. Make sure your shoes are clean. Get a fresh haircut.

Non-verbal communication cues. Good eye contact. Firm hand shake. Good posture while seated. If appropriate lean slightly forward at times. Stay engaged in the conversation.

Keep to the point. Don’t go off on a tangent. Stay on task. Answer questions clearly & concisely. However if the question is open ended be sure to provide a thorough answer.

Wrapping up. At the end of the interview ask them what you can expect next. Even if it is a canned response on their end, you are always best to ask.

Thank yous. Yes, still very appropriate. Electronic or hard copy are both acceptable.

So just as the competition in basketball gets tougher and tougher, and the need to focus on the details becomes ever increasingly important, so it does in the job market. Competition is tougher than ever. Get the edge. Do your homework. Be prepared. Don’t get edged out by your competition because you failed to prepare properly.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Scary Insurance Claims

Scary Insurance Claims from Fox Business

Halloween may be over, but the above article (click on title to read in full) still makes you stop and think about the exposure we face as individuals when decorating for Halloween, and what coverage we have for trick or treat pranksters. It makes you think about what the "scariest" part of Halloween really is.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What to Say on LinkedIn When You’ve Been Laid Off

There are unfortunately lots of people faced with layoffs, and when it comes to creating their LinkedIn profile, where do they start? I can’t imagine how many people steer away from LinkedIn because they don’t know where to begin, and how to “broadcast their new job status”. Forbes' article What to Say on LinkedIn When You've Been Laid Off (click article title to read full story) has some great ideas/pointers on how to spice up your LinkedIn profile from experience, to education, to descriptions, etc. (helpful even to those who haven’t been laid off). Just as the article says, it is a tough market out there, and it might “exude confidence by not being ashamed that you’re between jobs”.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Social Network Data Used in Underwriting

I came across a very interesting and thought-provoking article. With all the recent hype surrounding social media, I was intrigued to find an article titled “In few years, Social Network Data May Be Used in Underwriting” (click article title to read full story). This article discusses how social media can help “crack the data” in investigation of claims, and how it could potentially be factored in to the underwriting process. It fosters the idea about whether or not mining social networking sites is ethical, or legal for that matter, for insurance purposes, and to what extent they should be used. Has this gone too far? Or should everyone just be that much more aware of what they publish on the internet?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Self-Doubt Kills Ability

“Self-doubt kills ability.” My daughter works twice a week one-on-one with a basketball trainer on skills development to help her continue to improve and further develop her game. One of her biggest adversaries is her own self-doubt. LC, her trainer, told her the other day, “remember these words, self-doubt kills ability”. These simple words made me reflect on how this is so true in so many parts of our lives. And today, more so than ever given the job market, these words apply so well to the job seeker. As I’m counseling candidates, one of the things I am certain to discuss with them is to not start doubting yourself. Once you doubt yourself and start wondering “what’s wrong with me” other people will notice your lack of confidence. This will come out in an interview situation. You must remember that there are many outstanding professionals seeking jobs. So the problem is not you, but the very challenging job market we are faced with. So don’t allow self-doubt to affect who you are. Go into each interview with confidence and prepared to demonstrate the value you can bring to that organization. And remember, “Self-doubt kills ability.”

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How to Select a Recruiter

As a job seeker your strategy is more important than ever in this market. Part of your process should include the use of a recruiter(s). So how do you select a recruiter to partner with? There lies the keyword, partner. A recruiter should be a partner in your search. And you in turn need to partner with the recruiter as well. Here are tips in making it the most beneficial partnership.

1. Research to locate a recruiter that specializes within your industry. A recruiter that is a generalist will likely not be able to effectively represent you to the market in the same way that an industry specific recruiter can. Not only will they be limited in understanding who to speak to and how to best represent you, but they will likely lack the industry networks to get you seen by the right people.

2. Once you identify a recruiter, ask around. Check with people you know in your industry to see if they have any background or knowledge of this recruiter. Of course never place your decision on one person’s opinion. Just like anything, you are always better to gain multiple experiences. If the message is consistently bad perhaps it makes sense to start your search over. If it is generally good, then it’s time to reach out to the recruiter.

3. Contact the recruiter. If you leave a message or send an email and don’t hear back, don’t be quick to drop them as a possibility. Give them another try. If they are not responsive on the second try then this is likely not someone you will want to work with. If it takes them a couple days to respond that’s okay. These days recruiters are inundated with job seeker calls & emails.

4. Once you have an exchange with a recruiter this is an opportunity to gain a comfort level. There should be a feeling of good chemistry. You should feel as though the recruiter is knowledgeable and that they understand what value you can bring to a client company.

5. Be skeptical of a recruiter that requires an exclusive arrangement with you. Now if you are looking at a small market that is the exception as you don’t want recruiters tripping over themselves in a small market. However if you are looking at a large market such as Chicago, or are open to relocation to various locations, be leery of the recruiter requiring an exclusive arrangement with you. It’s okay to use more than one recruiter. The fact is, no one recruiter has relationships with each & every company. However I believe that using too many recruiters is not a good idea either. You stand the chance of losing the commitment from a good recruiter if they feel as though you are using too many.

6. If you do use more than one recruiter, require them to contact you before ever sending your information anywhere. And make certain they will disclose the client company name as well.

7. Stay in touch with the recruiter you partner with. Unfortunately the days of recruiters being able to routinely touch base with candidates is a thing of the past. A recruiter's time is best spent marketing your background. So touch base every couple weeks to check in.

These are the main points to remember when you enter into a partnership with a recruiter.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Words to Avoid and Include in Your Resume

This is a great article by Alesia Benedict.

Writing a resume is definitely a daunting task, and deserves your utmost attention, but do we spend too much time trying to identify which keywords we should include, and then letting them stand alone? Keywords are definitely a must, but the keyword alone might not be getting your message across effectively. We spend all of this time coming up with the best adjective, but does it really do any good to let those adjectives, or keywords, stand alone without capturing the essence of what each accomplishment really means? How do you make your resume more compelling?

Words to Avoid and Include in Your Resume

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC

Your resume needs to communicate the value you can add to a company and show your unique qualifications for the positions to which you apply.
In order to stand out from the crowd, you don't want to use the same kind of hyperbolic language that 50 other candidates have adopted in a vain attempt to rise above the competition. If the words you choose in your resume weakly represent your individual talents and work experiences, take them out!

Using action words in your resume is an effective strategy for highlighting accomplishments as well as for making you a stronger candidate. However, many job seekers tend to overuse certain words so that they become meaningless.
Take a moment to review your own resume for any of these words:

1. Innovative
2. Hard working
3. Results-driven
4. Good communication skills
5. Effective
6. Exceptional
7. Highly motivated
8. Outstanding

Now compare the above list with the following "action" words and phrases. You may even be able to sense the difference as you review the list.

1. Created new employee orientation program
2. Initiated cost-saving procedure
3. Secured 5 new accounts worth $2K each in monthly revenue
4. Negotiated contentious labor contract successfully
5. Increased line productivity 23%
6. Ranked 1st in sales among peers
7. Pioneered new employee incentive program
8. Achieved Employee of the Year for breaking existing sales record

The second list of phrases is much more compelling because the descriptions use action words while telling a story of your accomplishments. Unique talents and skills are described in a meaningful way that also makes the reader want to learn more about you. Building that interest is a key factor in obtaining an interview.

Both the resume and cover letter should be like a good book: hard for the hiring manager to put down! Don't consider the words in the first list as off limits, but be strategy if you choose to include them in your resume. To be strategic, you have to back the words up with specific examples. With this approach, you can think of the two lists an à la carte menu, taking an item from list one and supporting it with an explanation from list two.
But only use them in tandem. Using the first list alone leaves the reader thinking the words sound too good to be true. Without an explanation of the specific accomplishments associated with each of those list-one superlatives, the phrases will be seen as less than accurate and the reader is unlikely to want to know more about you.

Another factor to consider is whether the words you are using to describe yourself are assumed in most candidates at your level. Consider examples such as "highly motivated" or "dependable."
Not only can these general descriptors take up valuable resume space, but they can also sabotage your first impression because they are considered so basic.
You also want to avoid words that might indicate you are putting a spin on your experience or a job gap. For example, candidates who may be worried about their age often use "seasoned" or "energetic" to describe themselves when their real concern may be that they will be perceived as too old or too young.

Or if you had to be out of the job market to care for an ill family member or due to your own medical issues, be upfront about it. Don't suggest that you were attending professional development when you were actually in the hospital. Finally, use industry specific keywords whenever possible, but avoid using jargon. Keywords not only emphasize your familiarity with the field, but can also help bring your resume to the top of a search conducted by electronic scanning.
For example, did you expand marketing efforts to include "social media?" What about "continuous improvement" measures? Be certain to include relevant keywords throughout your resume.

Choose your words wisely when writing your resume. The words on the page are the most critical factor in getting called for an interview. Use the language in your resume to demonstrate your expertise as well as your experience and you will soon be hearing the phrase, "You're hired!"

Friday, September 23, 2011

Job Ads - How closely do you really read them?


Do you read between the lines of a job ad?  Or better yet, did you know that it was important to read between the lines of a job ad?  Don't worry, you're not alone.  This great article from the Wall Street Journal has some tips on what you should take from a job ad, and how it could potentially help you maybe even land an interview.  Do you think there is some logic to the madness?