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Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Sort out the myths from common sense advice
I’m trying to sort out the myths from common sense advice as I look for work. We’re all hearing about the sluggish economy and unemployment numbers. Some of the news is good, some a little more dicey and then there are the stats that seem to get pulled like taffy and twisted into different shapes depending on who’s quoting them. It’s hard to know what to think, but I know that I need more work. Here’s a list of some of what I’ve learned about trying to land a job and the search itself.
1. Looking for work is harder than actually working. I wish I’d kept track of all the hours I’ve spent revising my resume, searching job sites and writing cover letters rife with keywords. There are also all the hours I’ve spent researching companies online before even submitting my application. It’s a lot of work. I dutifully scroll through every job search email that pops up in my inbox. Just when I think I’ve got all the settings right, I find more jobs I’m woefully unqualified for. It’s important to focus. I’m having more success now that I’ve honed in on the types of positions I really want and am qualified for. It’s quality over quantity.
2. Let friends know you’re looking for work. Think about it this way—you’d help a friend if you could, so reach out. I did get one sweet part-time position through a friend’s recommendation. I also scored a solid interview and a freelance gig through other personal contacts. Stuart Lander, CMO of CareerArc Group, had this to say:
One of the most impactful points we find is how much more likely you are to get hired if you are referred for a job opportunity. On average, one in 219 people get hired when they apply directly through a job board but one in 10 get hired when they are referred. That’s why if you can leverage a social referral tool (like CareerArc Group’s Who? Button) that is integrated into our TweetMyJobs, Internships.com and CareerBeam platforms you have a much better chance of landing your dream job.
More than one person confirmed this for me in my research. Eva Smith of Tech Food Life confirmed that she’s found this to be especially true in the tech sector. This all ties into networking via social media, but more on that later.
3. It’s easier to get a job when you’re already working. Erdolo Eromo is a Sr. VP at Payvia, a leading mobile and online payments company. He landed his position when he was working at the Cheesecake Factory. He served the CEO of Payvia with such aplomb that phone numbers were exchanged and his good fortune secured with this top company. He’s gone from restaurant worker to being considered the cornerstone of Payvia’s global sales and marketing structure. He’s an expert in identifying trends in the mobile commerce space. I’m ready to believe it’s not a myth that work begets work.
4. Be ready to handle disappointment. I spoke with Catalina Juarez, an LA blogger who has been looking for work for four years after a 13-year gap in her career. She’s reached out, tried to reinvent herself by applying her skills to other fields. Her persistence has to pay off at some point and when it does, think of the resilience she’s developed. It seems that would make her a great hire. Her advice?
Learn how to best manage rejection fast. Have a plan set-up in times when the rejection begins to beat on your ego. I usually let myself cry. Then pick myself up by doing something creative or creating something with my hands: cooking, photographing, reading or writing.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Gaining employment in today’s world
I have been hearing unusual stories from clients who are job-hunting these days. So I decided to consult a few recruiters for a new perspective and their advice for gaining employment in today’s world.
I first spoke with Jill Ikens, President of Atrium Staffing in Boston, which is a woman-owned staffing firm headquartered in New York City with multiple offices in New Jersey, San Francisco and Pittsburgh. She is seeing an uptick in new hires in Boston, especially in the fields of biotech, start-ups and new opportunities in human resources, especially on the benefits side, due to the constant and upcoming changes in health care laws. There is also a rising demand for human resource managers and generalists.
Jill finds that students who have worked their way through school and have solid work experience have a much better chance of finding work and are more marketable in employers’ eyes. She worries that candidates often rush through their resumes without making it clear what they have to offer or taking the time to tell their personal work story. As a former teacher, Jill is often shocked by the spelling and grammar on the resumes she gets, which can ruin a candidate’s chances for success. She advises candidates that it is imperative to do significant research on a company before an interview. Companies are looking to hire people who demonstrate uniqueness and creativity and can market themselves to match the company culture. She does see a trend towards video resumes in the future too. Jill also talked about the importance of good manners, such as hand writing notes to thank the interviewers, which job hunters may overlook.
Jill urges candidates to clean up their social media accounts of anything controversial and to be careful of what they are posting. She also recommends that job hunters complete their entire Linked In profile, including gathering excellent recommendations, as companies will be reviewing profiles very carefully. Use Twitter to follow companies where you are interested in working. Social media will give you great interview material and increased connections.
My second expert is Jenna Bayard, an Executive Search and Assessment Consultant at Russell Reynolds Associates in New York City. She has worked in the field since college. She finds that she and her colleagues are spending more time than ever coaching their candidates to communicate clearly and effectively in interviews. She says that too many candidates are talking in circles, not listening or following directions, and rambling when they are asked how they can add value to the hiring company. I mentioned that it sounded like candidates need “media training” where they can learn to speak in bullet points and synthesize information to convey quickly with impact. She agreed.
Like Jill, she says that LinkedIn In has radically changed the field of job-hunting for candidates and companies alike. She highly recommends that executives invest in the Premiere Edition of LinkedIn. She encourages people not to apply blindly for a job, but to use the LinkedIn tools to get to the hiring team. It is good to have 500+connections. She says that if you are looking for work and currently working at another job, do not fill out the Job Seeker Application, as your current employer may see it. Jenna declared that audio phone screening is dead and that companies are now using Skype or Face Time for interviews. If you have anything controversial on your digital footprint, i.e. Google, Facebook, etc. that you cannot remove; you need to address it openly with the hiring company.
Jenna says that while hiring has improved, many companies are quite gun-shy about making a poor hire. Therefore, the interview process is more complex and takes much longer. Companies are road-testing executives and digging deeply into their strategic skills, their problem-solving talents, and whether or not they match the company culture by requiring multiple interviews, more time connecting to people at the company, and more evidence that this candidate can come in as a change agent. Companies are looking to hire people who are not just going to do their job description, but demonstrate new ideas and the capacity for innovation. Job-hunting, especially on the executive level, requires lots of patience for candidates since companies keep evaluating them from all angles. Jenna says that some candidates actually withdraw from the hiring process in exasperation or because they are out of vacation time from having so many interviews with one company.
Lastly, Jean Kripton Dunham has owned Jean Kripton, Inc. in Chicago for over 25 years now. She rode out the recession and now sees lots of requests for new talent. She sees three major trends. Candidates, who lose their jobs due to a lay-off or other reason, need to completely re-evaluate themselves before they go back on the job market. They need to be certain that they have the skills required for the new workplace, especially in technology. Plus they need to update their network and understand how their field has changed and be strategic about how to sell themselves into the positions they seek.
Secondly, Jean says that companies need help getting crystal clear on exactly what kinds of competencies are needed for a posted job. Part of her job is to try to get the hiring company to zero in on real specifics. She also says that many hiring companies are still rigid about candidates in transition. For example if someone has changed jobs frequently, but can demonstrate an upward career path, that should not be held against him or her. Sometimes when people are out of work, they need to work part-time anywhere they can just to pay the bills. So candidates need a solid explanation for each career move.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Figure out what works
Director of Career Management at Duke University and Author of “The 2-Hour Job Search”
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1 If You Wouldn’t Eat Cereal With a Fork, Why Would You Use Social Media for a Job Search?
Posted: 08/14/2013 3:13 pm
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Chances are in coming days someone will write an article touting the benefits of Snapchat for finding a job.
If you haven’t heard of Snapchat it’s a photo sharing service that allows users to send photos for a limited time before they are destroyed. How would that help you find a job? I have no idea. However, neither Twitter nor Pinterest are useful job search techniques, and still they are recommended by some.
Some social media tools simply do not apply to the job search. It’s like using a fork to eat cereal—theoretically it could be done, but neither effectively nor efficiently.
The job search of 20 years ago was fairly straightforward. Print out your resume and cover letter on nice paper at Kinko’s and then mail them to potential employers. It took time, effort, and money, but it was clear-cut. Career coaches generally agreed on what to do and in what order.
That’s no longer the case. Technology has given job seekers many more options, but frustratingly none are as effective (or as trusted) as the old mail and wait approach from a couple of decades ago.
As the technologies have multiplied, career advice has as well. More notably, it diverged. All career coaches still agree on some basic principles, like the importance of resumes and informational interviews, but ask a group of career coaches about Twitter and you’ll get a host of different opinions.
As a career coach at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, I see firsthand the mental toll this decision anxiety takes on job seekers. They are given a stream of tips and new resources to consider when all they really want is one proven solution. It’s exhausting and it fills job seekers with self-doubt at a time when projecting confidence is crucial. All the advice can also lead to procrastination as job seekers try to figure out what works. That is time that could be better used by actually searching with proven techniques.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Gain a Competitive Edge by Establishing a Personal Brand
Brands from McDonalds to Google have all claimed headspace in the minds of their spectators, so why can’t you? You can, by establishing a personal brand that allows you to differentiate and position yourself from the competition and claim your job. In this case, your audience is the hiring managers and recruiters that deal with thousands of resumes each day. Candidates are viewed as commodities, unless they provide some unique value, which competitors do not share. Your goal is to stand out and in doing so; you will land your dream job.
Your Personal Brand
Defined: Your total perceived value, relative to competitors, as viewed by your audience.
Personal Appearance - Including clothing, hygiene and attractiveness.
Personality - Your values, goals, identity and behavior.
Competencies - These are cognitive, business, communication and technical skills that enable you to perform your job responsibilities.
The Differentiator - Offering a unique value proposition or benefit to your target audience.
Constructing a brand with a mixture of these elements will have a positive effect on the people around you and your future. After producing a personal brand, with these elements, you must weave them into a story or message that can be consumed by your audience.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Tips for Successfully Networking Your Way Around a Room
Working a room isn’t easy, especially when your personality doesn’t lend itself to talking about yourself. However, it’s worth the extra effort it can take to work the crowd when you’re job searching. You never know who may be able to help you with your job search and it’s not as hard as you might think.
Most people are happy to help, but they can’t help you if they don’t know you need assistance. It can be as simple as mentioning your job search at the appropriate time and not monopolizing the discussion.
Here are some tips for how to work a crowd - the easy way - when you’re job searching. These tips will work if you’re at a professional networking event or even at a party or other gathering.
How to Work a Crowd
Go to Every Event You Can. In these days of online communications, you would think that meeting in-person isn’t necessary - it is. That personal contact can make all the difference in the world. The more networking events, professional conferences, job fairs, parties and other gatherings you go to, the better your chance of meeting someone who can help you job search. It’s a numbers game - the more contacts, the more job leads.
Bring a Friend. If you’re not brave, like me, when it comes to crowds, bring a friend with you. It can be much easier to have a conversation when you’re not the only one trying to think of what to say.
Don’t be Shy or Embarrassed. If you’re unemployed, so what? So are millions of other people. Don’t be embarrassed to let others know that you’re out of work. They or a family member or friends, or all of the above, have been in the same situation at some point. You’re definitely not the only person who needs a new job, even though it can feel like that sometimes.
Smile. Even if you’re not having fun (yet) pretend that you are. Smiles are contagious and the more you smile the more pleasant the reception you’ll get.
Step Outside Yourself. One thing that works for me when I’m in a big crowd is to take a step back and pretend it’s not really me doing the talking. If you can detach a bit, it may be easier to watch yourself networking than it is to think about what you’re doing.
Introduce Yourself. Start a conversation by introducing yourself. It’s much easier to converse when you’re on a first name basis with the person you are talking to.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Professional networking is one of the most powerful tools job seekers can use to find their next job.
Because almost everyone has a lot of connections on LinkedIn and friends on Facebook, you would think that it would be easier than ever to land a job via networking.
It’s actually harder than it seems, in part because of the accessibility of contacts on social media which can lead to overusing those resources. It’s so easy to connect that it can be tempting to ask anyone for help.
It also gives job seekers who aren’t networking correctly the opportunity to waste time connecting with the wrong people - those who aren’t willing or able to help or don’t even know you.
If I get a request for a job referral, for example, from someone I barely know I won’t recommend them. It’s not fair to them, to the potential employer or to me. I’ve got to be sure that someone is well qualified for the job before I’d consider recommending them, and I can’t refer you unless I know you.
The Biggest Networking Mistake
Often the outreach is electronic, and networking targets may have little exposure to those who are seeking help. That’s biggest mistake that job seekers typically make - relying on email or second hand referrals to conduct their networking campaign. For it to work effectively, you need to up your networking efforts a notch or two.
Taking Networking to the Next Level
Networking is work. It’s not simply sending a LinkedIn message or a request for an introduction. In order to be fully motivated to make a strong referral (and put their reputation on the line) most people will need to feel comfortable with a prospective candidate. Your resume and LinkedIn profile will need to be in order, of course, but the intangible also needs to be in place. That’s the people part.
Most people will have difficulty being genuinely enthusiastic about a candidate based on an email endorsement of a friend or colleague. So, the ultimate goal for your networking targets should be direct contact, preferably in person. It’s much easier to refer someone you have met in person or have chatted with on the phone than it is someone who has simply sent, for example, a LinkedIn request for an introduction.
Set Up a Meeting
The best approach, when it is geographically possible, is to try to arrange a face to face informational consultation or informational interview. You may be surprised at how easy it is to set up a meeting, especially if you emphasize that you are seeking advice and assistance. Having a general conversation first, and not asking for a referral too soon, will provide your contact with a way to get to know you better without having to feel obligated to recommend you.
The best option, if feasible, is to set up an informational consultation in the workplace with your contact. That way you may get some introductions to other colleagues, managers or Human Resources staff while you are there. Mentioning that you would benefit from scoping out the work environment is often a convincing way to present the option of meeting at your contact’s office.
Meet Up for Coffee
If a workplace meeting isn’t an option, invite the person for a cup of coffee. I know one job seeker who got her last job by simply asking people she connected with on LinkedIn if they could meet up with her for a few minutes over coffee to share their advice. Every single person she asked said yes. Even if they couldn’t help her directly, they were willing to refer her to someone else who might be able to help.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Networking at Holiday Parties
The holiday season provides a perfect opportunity for job search networking. Even if you’re out of work and out of holiday cheer, it’s important not to miss out on any opportunities to meet people who can help you find a job.
Accept all the invitations you receive and consider the networking you’re going to do as a key part of your job search. Even if you don’t feel like going to a party or other holiday celebration, you’ll not only meet people who can, and would like, to help. You might even have much more fun than you expected!
Phil Haynes, Managing Director of AllianceQ, the group of Fortune 500 companies, and over 3000 small and medium sized companies, that have collaborated to create a pool of job candidates, shares his tips for holiday networking at parties, so you can get the most out of the events you attend.
Holiday Party Networking Tips from AllianceQ:
Don’t turn down invites to holiday parties. The more contacts the better even if contact is minimal. You never know who you’ll meet and the goal is have a contact who remembers who you are and what you do.
Everyone you meet could be a potential lead, so introduce yourself well. Practice and perfect the art of introducing yourself. Again, clearly and simply. Figuring out your “sound bite” is worth it. It gets that conversational ball rolling!
Ask for advice. Ask for information. While it’s not really appropriate to ask for a job at a holiday party, speak the language. Use phrases such as “I’m interested in learning more about.” or “I respect your opinion and wanted your advice about this career or job.” People are more receptive to being a resource than a means to an end!
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
How to Use the Holidays to Job Search
Are you about to start a job search or are you in the midst of looking for a new job? Are you thinking about waiting to start or putting your job search on hold? If so, think again. Contrary to popular opinion, this is a good time of year to find a job. Employers don’t stop hiring just because it’s the holidays. In addition, the holiday season is a perfect time of year to network your way to a new job.
Why Hiring Continues
Executive Dave Harshbarger explains why hiring continues, regardless of the time of year. “For many of us, the holiday season is a time to sit back and relax, to take a break from business, to focus our attention on friends and family. For businesses, the needs that drive hiring throughout the year don’t change just because the paid holidays are bunched up on the last pages of the calendar.”
He explains that at many companies hiring and personnel activities continue at all times of year, because the needs that drive hiring - competitive pressures, growing markets, strategic initiatives - don’t take a break.
Harshbarger adds, “Hiring during the holidays is sometimes complicated because key decision makers are absent. In the case of hiring, arguably the most important decision companies make, it is common for key individuals to interrupt their vacations (where feasible) to meet with short listed candidates. In all cases, we understand that to meet our goals in the New Year, it is critical that we stay focused on our staffing plans even as we turn our gaze homeward.”
Tips for a Holiday Job Search
As you can see, employers continue to focus on hiring, even though there is a temptation to do otherwise. The same should hold true for job seekers. It can be easier to say “I’m not going to bother, it’s a bad time of year for job hunting.” than it is to move forward with a job search. However, for those who do keep plugging away, the adiitional opportunities are worth the effort.
Don’t Slow Down Your Job Search
Some people give up job searching between Thanksgiving and New Years. Don’t be one of them. Employers are still hiring and there may be less competition from other job seekers this time of year. In addition, companies that budget on an annual basis may have jobs that they need to hire for now.
Use Down Time
If you’re working at company where the holiday season is a slow one, take advantage. If you have vacation time you need to use up, schedule some networking meetings. It’s an ideal time of year to connect with acquaintances you haven’t been in touch with in a while. Both to celebrate the holiday season and to let them know you’re in the market for a job.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
It doesn’t take a big raise or lavish gifts to make employees happy. Instead, bosses and managers who foster a culture of inclusion and openness with their employees will reap the benefits resulting from an engaged and happy workforce.
One of the simplest ways for businesses to ensure the happiness of their workers is to make sure bosses and managers use certain words and phrases when talking to their workers. Some of the best words and phrases bosses can use include the following:
That was my fault
You can guarantee your team already knows who is responsible for failure; you will gain more respect by owning up to your mistakes than by ignoring them. — Brad Lomenick, president of Catalyst and author of “The Catalyst Leader” (Harper Collins, 2013)
I’m glad to have you on the team
This is one of the most powerful and motivating phrases employees can hear from their boss or superior. — Robert Denker, managing partner at r&d partners
Here is a road map of our company and our future goals
Employees want to know what is going on, and organizations need to clearly communicate with workers before final milestones hit. — Halley Bock, CEO and president of Fierce Inc.
The words “thank you” make people happy — but to make employees even happier, bosses should tell them specifically why the thank you is due. This shows that the boss is paying genuine attention. For instance, saying “Thanks for handing in that financial report a day early,” or “Thanks for working late yesterday to solve the computer problem,” can go a long way. — Gordon Veniard, founder and training and development consultant at The Ven Works
This is why
Employees want to know why companies are doing what they’re doing — in an open and honest way. Sometimes, the “why” can be difficult, but they need to hear and understand it. Other times, the “why” is big, and they’ll be motivated and excited by it. — Reid Carr, president and CEO of Red Door Interactive
I know I can always count on you for_____
The key is to be specific. People (not just employees) love to be recognized for their unique strengths and talents, for those things that we notice they do better than anyone else. Any phrase that can hone in on the specifics of the employee’s gifts is going to be a winner. It sounds simple, but you would be amazed at how difficult it is for bosses, managers — those in charge — to pay close enough attention to the employee to give those specifics. — Liz Trotter, owner of American Maid Cleaning in Olympia, Wash.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Answering the question of what makes a good leader is made infinitely more difficult by the fact that there is no one-size-fits all definition of leadership.
To help, BusinessNewsDaily spoke with 10 business owners, leaders and entrepreneurs to help formulate a defintion of leadership. Here’s what they had to say:
Leadership is inspiring others to pursue your vision within the parameters you set, to the extent that it becomes a shared effort, a shared vision, and a shared success. Steve Zeitchik, CEO of Focal Point Strategies
Leadership in the business world requires harnessing the energy and efforts of a group of individuals so that their outlook is advanced from an unremarkable Point A to a very desirable Point B — from bad to good, slow to fast, red to black. During that process, leadership manifests in projecting your expertise in a way that gains the confidence of others. Ultimately, leadership becomes about trust — when that confidence inspires them to align their vision and level of commitment for the betterment of the company. Phil Blair, president of Manpower Staffing Services of San Diego
For me, Leadership is an act — a decision to take a stand, or step, in order to encourage, inspire or motivate others to move with you. What’s more, the most effective leaders do not rely on their title, or positional power, to lead. Rather, their ability to use their own personal power combined with their use of strategic influence are what make them effective. Kendra Coleman, a consultant at Sheppard Moscow, a firm that specializes in business transformation and employee engagement
Leadership is the ability to take an average team of individuals and transform them into superstars. The best leader is the one who inspires his workers to achieve greatness each and every day. Jonas Falk, a chef and the CEO of OrganicLife, a startup that provides nutritious school lunches
Leadership is influencing others by your character, humility, and example. It is recognizable when others follow in word and deed without obligation or coercion. Sonny Newman, president of contract manufacturer EE Technologies
Leadership is actions committed by a person or group that produce an output or result. It simply helps people to get things done. It is not based on position in a hierarchy.Robert Preziosi, professor and past chairman of management at Nova Southeastern University’s Huizenga School of Business
Leadership is the collective action of everyone you influence. Your behavior – your actions and your words – determine how you influence. Our job as leaders is to energize whatever marshals action within others. David Casullo, president of Bates Communications and author of “Leading the High Energy Culture — What the Best CEOs Do to Create an Atmosphere Where Employees Flourish” (McGraw Hill, 2012)
Leadership is the ability to inspire motivation in others to move toward a desirable vision. While management is focused on tasks, leadership is focused on the person. All in all, the best leadership drives change and long lasting motivation. Josh Kuehler, president of Internal Consistency, a firm that helps to improve employee performance.
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