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Get your job search tools sharpened!

So, you have your workspace and basic job setup well in place. Now you have to start sharpening the tools at your disposal and create some structure:

Resume:

  • If you have not updated your resume and have done a good once over to make sure it is relevant, articulate and compelling… do so now!
  • Have someone you feel would be an impartial judge critique
  • Proofread it again… and again!!
  • If you are looking for positions that have distinctly different “flavors” (e.g. Manager vs. Individual Contributor) make sure you have a resume that is laser-focused on each area instead of one that shows you as more of a generalist unless it makes sense to do so (you may be targeting smaller, start-ups where a jack or jill-of-all-trades may be more desirable)
  • Same as above for cover letters, have one for each instance ready. Your process will become much more streamlined and efficient  if you can keep the “customization” of covers to a minimum

Job Boards:

  • Make sure your new resume and covers are synced up to your job board profiles
  • Create job agents. These are automated searches the job boards will do for you based on your desired jobs and keywords and email you on a daily or weekly basis
  • Dead horse beating time: LinkedIN is a JOB BOARD too! Get an account if you haven’t yet. If you do, get your profile updated and start connecting. I should be on their payroll!

Goal Setting:

  • Figure a reasonable amount of jobs you want to apply for per day. Don’t fire off resumes willy nilly to every job that remotely looks like a fit. Then again, make sure you are applying enough to make it a numbers game – odds go up the more places that see your resume. If you are doing 6-8 hours a day, I would set a reasonable goal of 5-6 applications a day. This will give you the proper time to research the company and role to see if it is something you truly would like to do. It also lets you craft a well thought out, brief cover letter since you already have the templates
  • Network, Network, Network! Sort of like the equivalent of Location, Location, Location in real estate. Folks, this is your quickest path to your next job. Job boards serve a purpose but they are a supplement to networking. One of the most effective tools in your “swiss army knife” is the people you know. They will know someone or someone who knows someone who needs you!
  • Follow the 50-25-1 rule. What does this cryptic sequence of digits mean? This is a good networking rule of thumb for job seekers (active or passive.) On a weekly basis, you need to do:
    • 50 Networking emails
    • 25 Network phone calls
    • 1 Face to face networking meeting (one-on-one or group), this can be an office meeting, a lunch, a dinner or quick cup of coffee at your place of choice…they all count!

I know these sound like rigorous goals. However, the more process-oriented, organized and disciplined in your job search you are, the quicker you can quit.

There is one other side benefit of all this work. Can you guess?

OK, I won’t keep you waiting. Don’t think of yourself as unemployed, think more like you are an athlete who is doing off-season training. The job seeker who maintains a work-like schedule and mindset will interview better and have a much easier transition back into the workforce. Make sense? Good!

NOW GET TO WORK!

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Please Quit Your Day Job!

SLOUCHOne of the classic lines from Caddy Shack sums up the way I feel. This annoying thing called “work” has been consuming a lot of my time. The funny thing is while I have been lagging in my postings, my blog traffic stats have been consistent. Go figure. Sort of the story of my life, people are just as happy when I shut up as when I impart my pearls of wisdom ;-).

First, some housekeeping. My last post had all of you hanging on the edge because I mentioned my next post was going to address weighing the options of taking a job under the duress of impending parenthood. My apologies. I did respond to some people privately on this but I will give broad strokes on my feelings on the subject.

Everyone’s financial situation is different so I would never counsel anyone NOT to take a job just because they need the income immediately. However, if you are considering accepting an offer for a far less than desirable role, think about a few things first:

  • Can I wait it out a little longer (maybe after baby comes and be there 100% for my spouse) and then find the job I really want?
  • Will taking this job mean that I will have to be tied down to an office for 45/55/60 hours a week and can I commit to that with all that’s going on in my life?
  • Will taking this job take me far afield of my career path and may be hard to get back on because I will not be able to build the skills I need?
  • If I take this as a stop-gap measure and keep looking is this going to be an issue on my resume and how do I explain it? (Hint: Recruiters and Hiring Managers don’t look favorably on people who take jobs for the sake of having one and keep looking, it questions future loyalty and commitment although in this current employment climate you may get some leeway.)

Just some things to think about if this issue comes up.

Now, in my writing hiatus I have thought about many themes to speak about. One thing that’s has risen to the top is a result of the tough job market and that many people are in a long-term job searching process. So I am going to put together a series that allows you to structure your job search like a job, hence my clever posting title “Please Quit Your Day Job”. Get it, you would want to find a job so you can quit your job of looking for a job.

OK, I guess if I have to explain, it isn’t as clever as I thought.

 

Hey Recruiter, I thought you were on my side! Part II of III

perplexed2We have spoken about the circumstances around recruiters being less than cooperative with candidates and the many reasons. Yes, sometimes it is just perception on the candidate’s part that a recruiter is not acting in good faith as I outlined in the last couple posts, but  sometimes there is shared culpability.

Today let’s talk about the candidate taking preventative steps to insure themselves against an unresponsive or adversarial recruiter.

The first step is pretty basic but not always easy. When you have initial recruiter conversations, try your best to identify from the recruiter who will make the ultimate hiring decision. This is not someone in HR (unless you are going for a job in HR or a dept. that is overseen by HR) who may approve the amount of the job offer, but the person who truly has the power to say “let’s hire her/him!”

Recruiters will sometimes keep this info close to the vest for a couple reasons: A. They are doing their job in protecting the hiring manager from being harassed by candidates too early in the game when they haven’t yet been identified as viable or B. They have the fear of being circumvented and risk their performance being called into question.

So either way it’s not easy to get if you are only at the phone interview stage. It gets easier if you move into the in-person interview stage where you will usually get a lineup of who you will be meeting with and if you don’t get a direct answer you can usually figure it out from titles (whomever the senior most manager is usually the ultimate decision maker.) If this doesn’t work, the next way is ask who you phone interview with from the hiring team, they will be more apt to be forthcoming about the info. Maybe not the actual name but title. If you don’t have a phone interview and go straight to in-person, identify someone on the interview team who you seem to have a good rapport with to ask.

OK, I am going to leave it there. My wife has correctly observed I have the tendency to go long so I will finish this up tomorrow. I’ll talk about what to do with the information you obtained (the real decision maker), and also having an honest conversation with yourself to see if it warrants trying to go above the recruiter.

Networking Sites Reader Suggestion: Xing

networkreadersFirstly, thanks everyone for their feedback on this discussion. I got quite a few responses and wanted to share of couple of the reader’s inputs.

Sarah, who works as a recruiter in the healthcare/medical device industry suggested I check out Xing.com. She observed its model was similar to LinkedIN® but had a generally positive view of it as a complimentary resource to LI. I had heard of Xing before but never really spent much time on it, so I  revisited.

Sarah’s assessment was right on. It has very common features to LI, I would say the interface is a little bit more flashy. It has all the requisite connection processes plus company and job information. It was launched in 2006 and claims 7 million users. I didn’t research the revenue information, but comparing the growth trajectory of their database vs. LI they are about on par (LI had 8 million by end of 2006 and launched in 2003.) LI now has 41 million users. I don’t think Xing will experience that kind of growth given that LI was kind of the industry leader but also can’t count them out as evidenced by the MySpace and Facebook dynamic. They have a bare bones free plan like LI, and a premium membership as low as $5.95/month if you commit to a 2 year membership.

Next post will be my standard review of Xing and another suggestion to Zoom Zoom a Zoom!

5 Networking Sites to See!

siteseeMost of you know the major social networking sites (Facebook®, LinkedIN®.) Well, there are a few out there you may not know about that are starting to emerge as viable networking places (membership, hits, growth, etc.) even though they may not be what you would think as a social network. If you aren’t on or visiting these, you should check them out and get on at least a couple. By the way, I am not compensated in any way by listing these sites, these are unbiased opinions I am rendering. I have put a short description and rated them on certain criteria important to me on a scale of 1-5 (1 being the worst, 5 being the best.) These are in no particular order.

  1. Plaxo. Has been around a while. Started out as a web based contact management site but has morphed into more of a true networking one.
    Value of “free feature” vs. having to pay for account upgrades: 4
    Ease of setting up a an account: 4
    Ease of Navigation/accuracy of searches: 4
    Depth of contacts: 4
    Value Groups feature on site: 3
    Spam factor (do you get a lot of spam from company to upgrade, etc.): 5
    Overall Job Seeker value:
    4
  2. Spoke. They market more to the B2B crowd, but for the job seeker truly using networking, it is a powerful resource to get directly to your potential boss.
    Value of “free feature” vs. having to pay for account upgrades: 3
    Ease of setting up a an account: 4
    Ease of Navigation/accuracy of searches:4
    Depth of contacts: 4
    Value Groups feature on site: 3
    Spam factor (do you get a lot of spam from company to upgrade, etc.): 5
    Overall Job Seeker value:3
  3. Jigsaw OK, so Jigsaw doesn’t fit in the classical definition of social networking site (if there is such a thing), but it meets my criteria in that you put your info up there and find info on others. It is a definite business lead generation site more than a job seeker one, but like Spoke, it has its value to savvy job seeking networkers. It’s like an old fashioned business card swap. You actually earn points (and thus access) to other peoples’ direct contact info (phone number email, etc.) if you contribute to the site’s database of contacts. The bad news is that the “free” component is pretty limiting, which isn’t great for people out of work.
    Value of “free feature” vs. having to pay for account upgrades: 1
    Ease of setting up a an account: 4
    Ease of Navigation/accuracy of searches:4
    Depth of contacts: 5
    Value Groups feature on site: 1
    Spam factor (do you get a lot of spam from company to upgrade, etc.): 3
    Overall Job Seeker value:3
  4. GoBig Network I personally love GoBig. Again, not a classic social networking site. They were built with the start-up entrepreneur in mind and that’s what the site is geared to (start-ups seeking funding and funders seeking investments), but they list jobs with these companies that pay in money and promises (equity). If you like the start-up environment and are not risk averse, this could be a treasure trove.
    Value of “free feature” vs. having to pay for account upgrades: 5
    Ease of setting up a an account: 5
    Ease of Navigation/accuracy of searches:5
    Depth of contacts: 4
    Value Groups feature on site: 3
    Spam factor (do you get a lot of spam from company to upgrade, etc.): 5
    Overall Job Seeker value: 4
  5. You tell me! Is there one that you feel is great from a job seeking, networking perspective that you want to share?I know there are ones I don’t know about, maybe they are for a certain industry and that’s OK. Send me the website and I will review. I will post the ones I like in the near future.


Bill Meirs is the Managing Principal with the Church & Palfrey Group, a search firm specializing in Technology and Sales Searches. Bill has 11+ years experience in corporate and agency environments. He frequently consults companies and individuals in the areas of talent acquisition, recruitment process improvement, recruitment advertising and branding, resume writing, and salary negotiation.

Two-Face book

networkFBObviously I am not the first to weigh in on the pros and cons of using social networking sites like Facebook ®, etc. I was actually late to the party getting on FB because I thought it was more for the much younger crowd, but it has become quite a useful tool for me to re-connect with people and also to get the word out about my business and blog and has yielded rewards.

I am much less an “open networker” on FB than on LinkedIN®, since LI is strictly business focused. I don’t accept friend requests from I people I don’t really know. I keep my info fairly private.  Even though I try to be as private as possible on personal info, I still need to be cautious as to the content that I have up on FB. I still treat it like a business site, but with more of the “after work at the bar with co-workers” flavor. I proudly post about family and the stuff going on personally.

I don’t need to go into too much detail on why you need to be careful as to what you post about yourself and what your friends post about you. Just know that even if you keep your profile exclusive to just friends, prospective employers who are good at finding info on FB will be able to find an avenue to get to that information.

My best advice is not to post any photos that could call your character into  question. The picture of you doing keg stands from a party back in college is an example. Although most employers understand that everyone had their indiscretions during college, unless it is clearly obvious there is some time between now and when the incriminating picture was taken, err on the side of caution. This is not going to solve the problem completely. Most of you know that friends who have pictures on their site that you are in can “tag” you within the pictures. Simply meaning they can indicate within the picture caption and by mousing over your face in the picture your complicity in bad behavior. In your settings you can control this to ensure that you are if you are tagged in someone else’s FB site, you can remove it.

Other things to keep in mind if you choose to be more public about your FB profile and are job searching:

  • Try to be as apolitical as possible – if you have causes that are near and dear to your heart, that is fine but if there are things that would paint a picture of you being particularly hardcore in any political direction you may want to think twice about being so open. Everyone is entitled to their opinions but that also includes the people who may be hiring you for a job so remember that while they can’t explicitly say they don’t want you because of your political views, it still may happen
  • Try to optimistically flavor your FB postings. If you are currently employed, don’t use it as a profane soapbox about your current boss or company. Focus on the good things in life and your ambitious, upstanding character who has an incredible work ethic
  • Don’t be afraid to put it out there that you are looking for a new career (unless you are currently working and this could jeopardize things in your current job of course.) Be specific on what you are looking to do. Try to briefly underscore the skills you have. Often times, friends and friends of friends may see this and think of you for an opportunity in a particular job or industry you never thought of, but you may be very qualified for and could be a job you end up loving
  • If you have a blog about something in which you are a subject matter expert, make sure you push the posts to your FB page
  • Have a handy link in your profile to your resume
  • Network, Network, Network. See who your friend’s friends are and if you see someone who you know works at a company you are interested in, ask them for an introduction
  • See if there are any groups out there that would benefit your search (people who do the same job or worked for the same company as you) You can find members there to network with

There is so much more information out there. Here is a link to an article from Slate that I found pretty comprehensive.

Next post we will talk about the top 5 “social business networks” you should be on that you probably never heard of.

Bill Meirs is the Managing Principal with the Church & Palfrey Group, a search firm specializing in Technology and Sales Searches. Bill has 11+ years experience in corporate and agency environments. He frequently consults companies and individuals in the areas of talent acquisition, recruitment process improvement, recruitment advertising and branding, resume writing, and salary negotiation.

Networking using LinkedIn®, part 1 of 2

pic_logo_119x32Most people have heard of LinkedIn® (LI) and may even have an account. What I want to discuss today is if you are looking for a job and don’t have a LI account (a basic account that is free is all you need), get one. If you have one, some easy things to make it work better for you.

First, a brief (well, we’ll see about that) history of LI. It started out as a business to business networking platform where people selling products and services could connect to people needing said products and services by leveraging their “connections” (people also on LI that you officially connect to – business acquaintances, former colleagues, friends & family, etc. You send a request to connect and they decide to accept or not or they request to you to connect.) The thinking is that these connections know folks who may be potential customers of yours and can provide anything from a simple intro making an otherwise “cold” call a little warmer all the way to setting the foundation for putting together a bona fide business deal. It probably still does this today to some extent, but I believe the larger part of LI’s activity is around recruiting. Using the same principles of the business deals, it is a way of connecting potential employees to employers/recruiters in a less intrusive way than traditional “headhunting.” This is why you need to be on there and be current in your profile.

After you have created an account, the first thing I suggest you do is have your resume open too. You want to replicate your resume history back about 10 years or however long it is relevant to the jobs you are looking for today. You needn’t be as granular in LI as your resume. A one or two sentence “snapshot” will suffice, more of a teaser than the whole story. If you work with any specific technologies that make you very valuable, do mention those in the LI profile. It will help people find you in keyword searches.

After your profile is set, you can do a few things that will connect you to people hiring:

  1. There is a place in your profile to put website links. Make sure you have a resume online for someone to click to. You don’t need to pay web hosting charges to do this. Get a Google account, upload your word resume to Google applications and hit a button that says “publish to the web” and you have created an online resume. It will have  bizarre URL with a lot of mumbo jumbo characters, but just copy that URL into your websites listings (you can have 3 i think), and simply name it “my resume”. Recruiters will click right to it without needing to know the long URL. Alternatively, LI has a 3rd party application you can add called box.net. You can create file cabinets right in your profile and assign who can see them and who can’t. You can upload your resume in its native state there.
  2. Connect. Connect. Connect. Search all the companies you worked for or did business with, where you went to college, friends and yes even family. As long as you A. Have an email address of these people or B. can show you worked with them in some capacity you can request a connection.
  3. Get “pre-qualified”. One great thing about LI is it allows people to write recommendations for you that outline where you worked with the endorser and in what capacity (co-worker, did business with, superior, subordinate, peer from different group, etc.) Ask your connections to write a recommendation for you. Recruiters love this. They can quickly assess your strengths. The more the better, as long as they are well balanced. Generally 80% of people you ask to recommend you will do it. Not that the other 20% think you are a slouch, but they just don’t have time or forget to do so. That’s why the more you can request, the higher your yield will be. You will have the opportunity to review the recommendation prior to it going on your profile so you can ask for any changes or modifications or even choose to use at all. Also, reciprocate any recommendation! They took the time to endorse you, so return the favor.

OK, there is a lot more ground to cover, but I will stop there for now. Next post will be about proper care and maintenance of your LI profile and utilizing the LI groups feature.

Bill Meirs is the Managing Principal with the Church & Palfrey Group, a search firm specializing in Technology and Sales Searches. Bill has 11+ years experience in corporate and agency environments. He frequently consults companies and individuals in the areas of talent acquisition, recruitment process improvement, recruitment advertising and branding, resume writing,  and salary negotiation.