Staying Positive

June 11, 2009

Staying upbeat is the number one challenge for most job searchers.  I’m no exception.  Lack of responses to job applications and lack of interviews can really get you down.  Keep in mind that the low level of activiity is not a reflection on you, it’s a reality of this job market.  There are some things you can do to keep a positive outlook during your search.

The number one recommendation is to channel your efforts into getting small wins every day.  Forget about measuring yourself based on the number of phone interviews or recruiter calls.  Focus on making headway everyday by accomplishing small but valuable job search tasks.  These are tasks that are within your control and contribute to your end goal of getting a job.  That feeling of completion helps raise your mood and contributes to your overall goal.  A great way to come up with these small but valuable tasks is to focus on the “marketing” of YOU.

Here’s an example of some marketing tasks that I completed this morning:

-Sent an email to an editor of Wall Street Journal, “Laid off and Looking”, offering my assistance with an article about creative job search.

-Sent an email to Dan Schwabel, Author of “Me 2.0”, to discuss possible partnering opportunities to grow our respective followers.

-Updated my blog, “Job Search 2.0” to include a more detailed description of my back ground in the About section.  This will help recruiters gain insight into my back ground.

-Created a Constant Contact email that I will be using to reach out to a recruiter database that was provided by a colleague.

None of these depended on the willingness of employers to call, email, or interview me.  This approach reminds me of the title of Michael J. Fox’s new book, “Always Looking up”.  Chin up and see the value of accomplishing small things.

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Mine that Alumni Network

June 9, 2009

Put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager for just a minute.  Your company posted a job opening.  You or your HR counterpart have been inundated by resumes from unknown candidates.  You need to come up with a short list of people to interview.  Now put your candidate shoes back on.  Your on the outside of the hiring company looking in.  How do you maximize your chances of getting to that short list of candidates to be interviewed?  Right, you have to stand out in the crowd somehow.  But, how?  The answer is to use one of the best door openers.   Your fellow college alumni are there to give you an assist.  Getting to that interview can be accomplished by reaching out to your college alumnae network.  There’s a couple of ways to do this.  First, join a Linkedin Group for your college, then search that group for the company name you are interested in.  Reach out and give these folks a call.  Tell them you are very interested in the open position and the company.  The second approach is to go to your college alumnae website and do a search in the alumnae directory for the company of interest.  Then, reach out to those contacts in a similar manner.  Mining your college connections gives you that leg up to get to the interview.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you!

Employed but anxious

June 4, 2009

This is a common theme in the conversations I’m having with employed colleagues.  The working world has certainly changed.  I’m asked what kinds of things can folks do to prepare themselves for the potential of being laid off or replaced due to an acquisition.  The key is to never stop networking.  I used to think that networking was for folks that are not working.  Sort of, NotWorking events.  That has definitely changed.  When I attend a networking event now, there is a real mix of employed and unemployed folks.  What this means is that you need to make the effort to attend networking events even while you are employed.  I know this may sound counter intuitive, but it is a requirement of the changing world of work.  The other key networking activity that you really need to stay on top of while employed, is building those Linkedin connections.  The wrong time to build these connections is when you are looking for work.  Check your Linkedin page daily.  Look for opportunities to connect and Groups to join.  Here’s a trick to grow your Linkedin base.  Whenever you get a request to connect on Linkedin, look into that contacts list of connections for potential folks to add to your network.  Hope this helps reduce your anxiety.

Secrets of Interview Prep

May 21, 2009

Want to ace that big interview?  Professional Sales folks tend to have an advantage over others when it comes to interviewing.  Selling themselves and their product is what they do for a living.  There is something else that sales folks do to give them an interview advantage.  They research  a company in unique ways.  The best sales people do not show up at a customer visit, sit down, and ask: “What are your problems?”  The most skilled sales folks I’ve worked with already know the prospects problems.  But, how?  They do their homework on the company they are visiting.  This skill is something that we all need to apply to interview situations.  How do you do your homework in unique ways?  The key to really effective interview preparation is to have very timely information.  That means forget about digging into the annual report.  By the time it’s in print, it’s way dated.  A secret technique is to listen to the webcasts that are published on the investor relations page.  Most, if not all, public companies will post a link to their earnings conference call.  These gems are a wealth of up to date information.  They are also the source of current problems, challenges, and successes of the company you are targeting.  Use these nuggets of information to craft some very specific questions to ask in your interview.  Try this technique and let me know how it works for you!

Change the rules of job search

May 19, 2009

Let’s face it, we job searchers have a heck of a challenge on our hands.  With unemployment rates at near all-time highs, it’s easy to have your resume get lost in a sea of applications.  If you can’t win the game, change the rules.  Think of ways to get noticed.  Put aside the traditional approach of applying to jobs on line, and sit down and list five unique ways to find the perfect job.  Here’s an example of an experience I had last week.  A local prominent University holds an annual business plan contest every year and awards $100,000 to the winning team.  When the winning team/company was announced on Twitter, I sent the COO an introductory e-mail of congratulations and a request for coffee and a chat about the company.  I’m meeting with the COO later this morning.  Think way outside the box and get noticed!

Linkedin Groups and your job search

May 13, 2009

How do you separate yourself from the pile of resumes on a hiring manager’s desk?  The answer is to take a different approach in the way you reach out to your company of interest.  Applying on line to a job posting just puts you in with the masses.  The way to stand out is to apply for a position by is by having your resume get it’s own personalized introduction.  The idea is to search your connections for someone in your network that works for the target company.  Most Linkedin users know this technique and use it effectively.  But what if your Linkedin connections are not really connected to your target company?  This is where Linkedin Groups can help.  If you belong to some Linkedin Groups, you can search these Group members  for a connection to your target company.  You might send a Linkedin request to that person that sounds like this: “I know we do not really know each other, but I noticed that we belong to the same Linkedin Group”.  You can then go on with a request to learn more about the company, etc.  Give it a try. 

Good searching!

Networking 101

May 11, 2009

We’ve all heard that a key to a successful job search is getting out there and networking, face to face.  For me, the challenge of networking has been to find the events that I should attend to “press the flesh”.  Think of the task as a marketing campaign.  You need to target events that are closely connected to the type of job you are looking for.  Ok so far, but where do you find events in your local area?  I have three favorites sources of events.  Linkedin, Meetup.com, and local colleges and university websites.  Linkedin is my personal favorite because it not only has an excellent event search engine, it also shows you who in your network will be attending the event.  I find it helpful to send an email to someone in my network and say, ” I see you are attending the XYZ Event, see you there.”.  Always good to have someone you know to chat with when you walk in.  Meetup.com is another good site for finding events.  These tend to be the more informal get togethers of like-minded folks.  The informality makes for great networking.  Most of the Meetup.com events are free to the public.  My third source of event search is websites of local colleges and universities.  My local favorites are Babson College, and  MIT Sloan Scool of Management.  For some tips on how to brush up your networking skills, check out http://www.effectivenetworking.com/  Have fun!

Twitter that job!

May 8, 2009

Twenty software companies.  There are twenty software companies on my target list of places that I would like to go to work for.  Job search career coaches all recommend that you base a job search on a definite list of target accounts.  This makes sense.  Staying focused in a job search is a good thing.  Now, here is where Twitter comes in.  First, go to Twitter.com and get yourself an account.  It’s quick and easy.  Twitter is all about following other Twitter users.  I’ve found that CEOs love Twitter.  Especially, technology CEOs.  Go into you Twitter account, click on “Find People”, and search for one of your job search target companies CEOs.  If you find them on Twitter, click “Follow”.  Don’t expect conversations to happen between you and the CEO.  Do expect a stream of interesting Tweets, straight from the CEO, unfiltered.  This is a great way to learn what’s happening with the company, in the CEO’s candid words, in real time.  Give it a try.

Interviews and Linkedin Profiles

May 7, 2009

“I hear you make a killer Baklava.”

What a great way to break the ice at the start of the interview.  Find something interesting and personal and out of the ordinary to get things off to a good start.  Shows your creativity and differentiates you.  Linkedin is a great tool to help you.  Before an interview, study the interviewer’s Linkedin profile.  I go to the recommendations that people have written about the interviewer.  In those recommendations, I found the mention of the interviewer’s “killer Baklava”.  Also, look at the recommendations that the interviewer has written for others.  People tend to use words in recommendations that reflect what they feel are important traits.  Words such as:  hard worker, ethical, determined; can give you insight into traits that the interviewer values highly.

Are you making the most of your College Alumni connections?

May 6, 2009

Hiring managers are bombarded with resumes for every job post.  It’s easy to get lost in this noise.  When I began my job search, I applied to many suitable positions that I found via job sites like InDeed.com.  Not a single response.  With so many folks out of work, you need to take a different approach than the on line application process.  That’s right, you must have an inside connection to get in the door.  My two favorite sources of inside connection are Linkedin and my college Alumni MBA Career Center.  My career center has an excellent alumni directory that is searchable by company name, etc.  Find a company you are interested in, plug the company name into directory, and see what names/titles come up.  The next step is to send an introductory e-mail requesting a twenty minute informational coffee.  This works!  Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.