A Negative becomes a Positive

August 17, 2009

Statistics point to the fact that older workers make up a disproportionately larger percentage of the laid off workforce.  If you’re in the 50 plus job seeking group, this post is for you.

Age can be seen as a potential negative by employers in certain industry segments. The  technology industry comes to mind.  Other industry segments can be much more age-friendly.  If you find yourself with years of experience in a potentially age-unfriendly industry, all is not lost.  The key is to turn that potential negative into an overwhelming positive.  If you are in your 50’s, that means you have a wealth of working experience.  If you happen to be like me, most of that work experience is in a specific niche of a given market segment.  For me, that niche is sales and business development for companies that provide software for companies that develop electronic systems.  Focus your job search on companies that will put high value on your years of experience within a niche.  By default, your age becomes a major positive.

Good searching!

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Volunteering your way to a job

August 7, 2009

With unemployment statistics on the rise, we need to continue to use our creativity to land a job. 

Volunteerism needs to be part of your job searching plans.  We all have time on our hands when you consider the lack of positions to interview for.  Volunteering is the perfect way to put that spare time to productive use.  Volunteers are in big demand by non profit organizations.  Non profits are under the tightest of budget crunches while the demands for their services are increasing during this economic meltdown.  This creates an great opportunity for you to put your skills to work.

Volunteering is a great way to augment your job search.  When we volunteer, we make network with new contacts, and put our skills to work in ways that can lead to a new career.  I’m currently volunteering for a local community non profit organization that provides management consulting to non profit organizations.

Think about volunteering with a twist.  Volunteering is a great way to get your foot in the door of a company that you would love to go to work for.  We’ve all run into the situation where the company that we really want to go to work for, has no open positions.  Why not offer to do some volunteer work?  This gets your foot in the door and gives you the opportunity to make that foot in the door to a real job.

Good searching!

The Eye of the Job Search Needle

July 30, 2009

The Eye of The Job Search Needle is that small space where your experience and overall background make you THE perfect candidate for a position.  Based on my job search experiences during this economic meltdown, there are some basic realities that have become very clear:

1.  Transitioning to a field outside of your “Eye of the Needle” during this job climate is a non-starter.  The only exception to this reality is if you have a VERY close friend that knows you well and is willing to hire you over all the objections of his/her management. 

2. The number of applicants for open positions is still growing.  This creates a sellers market for companies with open positions to fill.  This also creates a situation where employers can wait for the perfect candidate.  If you are trying to transition outside of your Eye of The Needle, you are wasting valuable job search time and effort.

3.  You have to focus your job search efforts on your unique Eye of The Needle.  If you have been an IT Security Sales Account Manager for the past 15 years, now is NOT the time to search for jobs selling Telecomm and Networking equipment.

Take some time and define the job and companies that match your Eye of The Needle.  Be the perfect candidate and win the job.

Good searching!

The Dog Days of Job Search

July 28, 2009

Hiring takes on a different quality during the summer months of July and August.  Sure, positions need to be filled, regardless of summer vacations – but, the summer hiring pace of activity naturally slows down.  Put this blog post under the category of  “don’t beat yourself up when things are slow”.

I was speaking with a recently laid off friend and neighbor last Sunday.  He’s been out for quite some time.  He made a great comment that we should all take to heart.  This may be the only time in our career life that we get to take the time to smell the flowers.  It’s so true.  Sure there are pressures and mounting anxiety over getting a job.  But – we all need to balance this natural anxiety with a little recognition that we need to make the most of this unscheduled time that we now have.  Time with the kids, sports, hobbies, travel – this is the time to give yourself a good dose of what you really enjoy doing.  The summer months are slow times for hiring.  Take advantage of the time and thank yourself every day for making the most of this time away from the daily grind.

Good searching!

No Interviews? ….. No Problem!

July 13, 2009

Measuring your Job Search by counting number of interviews you have had, or have scheduled, is a real recipe for the blues.

Fewer open positions means fewer interviews.  Not much you can do about it.  Spending time trying to drive interview activity in this economic climate is not the best use of your time.  Instead, focus on gaining “informational” or “networking coffees”.  My experience is that C-Level executives will agree to a 20 minute informational meeting if you follow the one cardinal rule.  You have to make the request through a trusted connection.  I don’t mean trusted by you, although that certainly helps.  I’m talking about a connection that you have that is trusted and respected by the C-Level executive that you want to have a coffee with.  I won’t go through the mundane details of how to make these connections via Linkedin.  I think most folks know how to do this by now.  There are some basics you need to pay attention to:  Keep your request for a networking coffee bounded by twenty minutes, and stick to it.  Bring a “marketing plan”, one page document that summarizes what types of companies you are interested in.  Bring a specific request for the C-Level executive(IE. an introduction to a C-Level executive at one of your target companies.  Don’t ask for a job.  This really taints the reason for your coffee meeting, which is to network.  Ask your executive what other companies could be a fit, based on your background.  And lastly, have a crisp and concise 60 second personal pitch ready to deliver.

By following this approach, you are maximizing the effectiveness of your job search time and efforts, and, it feels good to be accomplishing worthwhile activities.

 

Good searching!

What’s your summer job search plan?

July 1, 2009

We’ve all heard the experts advice that we need to “treat our job search as a full-time job”.  That’s typical of expert advice that comes from folks that are not in the job market and do not understand the realities of today’s job search.

Spending day after day in front of your computer all day is a recipe for discouragement.  Let’s face it.  There are just not enough open positions to justify an all-day search regimen.  I recommend a different approach.

As we roll into summer, the hiring activity is sure to slow down.  I know, it’s hard to believe it could be slower than it is now.  With this in  mind, we should all have a plan in mind for job search strategy over the summer months.  Rather than staring at the laptop all day, let’s take a fresh look at what will give us the highest return on our job search time, while at the same time, stopping to “smell the roses”.

Shift your summer activities from pure job search, to a networking effort.  Rather than focusing on getting job interviews, let’s use this time to focus on building our business network.  This is a great time to network your way to those informational coffees with CEO’s.  This is a great time to be attending those organized networking events.  This is a great time to go back to your Linkedin connections and schedule a “catch up” coffee.

How you work this strategy into your daily plan really depends on your individual situation.  My day now has the morning dedicated to networking and network building.  My afternoons are “my time” to do something enjoyable, and get the mind off the job search for a while.

Hope this helps.  Let me know your thoughts.

Do you have a Marketing Plan?

June 19, 2009

There are two documents that every job searcher should have.  The first is the obvious one, your resume.  The second, a Marketing Plan is less well known, but just as important. 

You need to have documents that are specific for the requirements of different activities in your job search.  An interview is an activity.  Attending a networking event is an activity.  Everyone knows that a resume is essential.  No need  for me to elaborate.  But, a resume is a document that does not fit every job search activity.  So, here’s where a Marketing Plan comes into play.  When you attend a networking event or a one-on-one networking coffee as a job searcher, do NOT bring your resume.  You want to bring your Marketing Plan.  Your Marketing Plan is a one page document that let’s folks know your key differentiation, the industries you are targeting, and the companies you are targeting.  This is a document that is designed specifically for the networking event.  It’s concise, informative, and informal.  You want to have hard copies of your Marketing Plan ready to hand out.  When you meet someone at a networking event, and they ask what kind of work you are interested in, there’s your opportunity to use your Marketing Plan.  Don’t hesitate to hand this to a potential employer at a networking event.  It serves as a great introduction to your more formal resume, that you can email later. 

Here’s the format for building a Marketing Plan:  (Remember, keep it to one page)

  • Name:
  • Address, Phone, Email:
  • Profile: A short paragraph.  Use your 60-second pitch here.
  • Areas of Expertise: Add one word bullets here that highlight your skills.
  • Targeted Industries/Companies: What industries and companies are you targeting?
  • Professional Experience: Just company name, title, and dates.
  • Education:  School name and area of study.

If you have questions about developing contact for your Marketing Plan, please get in touch.

Good searching!

 

 

 

Blog about what!?

June 18, 2009

There’s lots of trendy job search advice out there in the Twittersphere about creating a blog to help your job search.  This is an excellent idea, but it begs the question, what the heck should you blog about?

If you are blogging for job search, and that is your primary objective for blogging, then you need to make sure that your blog reinforces your “personal brand”.  Your personal brand is your differentiation when it comes to job search.  My differentiation in job search is “Expert at Selling to C-Level Executives”.  You also have to have the chops to be able to claim your expertise or specialty.  You can get creative with your blog as a medium to get your personal brand out there.  For example, you could blog about Job Search from the perspective of your unique expertise.  I blog about Job Search 2.0 from the perspective of an expert in selling to C-Level Executives.  This provides value to your audience while at the same time reinforcing your personal brand.  So, if you are not blogging, you need to get started.  You will also want to point folks to your blog posts via Twitter.  Twitter is “word of mouth on steroids”.  So, identify your personal brand, blog about something of value to your audience, and let the world know.

Reaching the hidden job market

June 17, 2009

Have you heard the concept of the underground market of jobs that never get advertised?  If you are applying for jobs you find online, your missing out on potential job opportunities where hiring managers only rely on referred candidates from trusted friends and contacts.

Why are these jobs hidden and how can you find them?

Let’s use an example where you are very interested in a particular target company.  There are no jobs of interest on their career page.  You found the name, on the company website,  of an executive who runs World Wide sales for the company.  He does not know you and you do not know him.  The trick is to be introduced to this executive by someone is his “trusted” group of connections.
So you want to be connecting with execs by requesting an introduction via someone YOU know in there network. Linkedin offers this by clicking “get introduced”. Rather than coming in cold, you are being introduced by a trusted network member. Since you don’t know if there are any hidden or planned openings, always request an informational coffee with the exec.  Otherwise, the answer might be, “no current openings, sorry”.   I always close these requests with “the coffee’s on me”.   Before your meeting, do your homework on the company. Be specific about why the company interests you. You may only have 15 minutes with the exec. Have your 60 second pitch ready and have three questions for the exec that are relevant to current topics about their business. Be up front that you are interested in learning more because you are very interested in employment. I suggest that you do not bring your resume to these brief meetings. You need to create a marketing plan. A marketing plan is more concise than a resume and much better for a short meeting.  If there is interest, a resume can be provided later.  How you develop a marketing plan will be covered in detail in my next blog post. Stay tuned!

Tips from Selling to C-Level Executives

June 15, 2009

Selling to C-Level executives is more art than science.  Those of us that have a “Black belt” in executive selling have learned what it takes to gain access to executives by being a source of value to them and to their business.  These best practices of executive selling are also very applicable to creative and differentiated job search.

I heard a story today about companies that would normally see six resumes for an open position that are now seeing sixty resumes.  Applying online and submitting a resume online is not going to set you apart from the masses.  Hiring companies are so time constrained and overwhelmed by applications, that your resume if read, will likely be only skimmed through.  Ok, so how do executive selling skills help here?  With so many resumes for each open position, only the “perfect fit” candidates are going to make it to an interview.  So, getting to that interview is a lot like gaining access to a C-Level executive in a sales campaign.  The hiring management has to see the potential business value of you coming to work there.  Same goes for selling to executives.  Executives meet with people that can solve their most pressing business problems.

The trick is to communicate to the potential employer how you can add value to their business.  Experienced sales folks will do this by listening and studying quarterly financial conference calls to gain a better understanding of what is top of mind for executives.  This technique happens to be a great way for a job seeker to set his/herself apart from the pack.  Before you apply for your next position, listen to the most recent earnings call for the target company.  Listen for tidbits of information that indicate major objectives/challenges for the executives.  When you submit your cover letter with your resume, touch on a couple of these major objectives/challenges and perhaps relate how you might add value to the company in that particular area.  I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this.