Thursday, January 12, 2012

Networking is Key

Two clients reported getting jobs this week: one after a somewhat checkered work history and a lengthy temporary stint, and the other making a career transition from one field to another.

What did they have in common?  

1. They worked with me :-) - couldn't resist. Seriously, though, they did work with me to discover and then market their Core Value Proposition to employers.

* Together, we uncovered their talents and skills and impact, and then packaged it into a resume that showcased their value to an employer in their desired field.
* We zeroed in on EXACTLY what they wanted to do.
* We targeted their search to finding opportunities exactly matched to what they love and want to do - because that's where they can speak most comfortably and confidently about themselves, and that's where they deliver most value to an employer.
* And we crafted marketing cover letters that did the work for the employer of matching their abilities with the job requirements.  

2. They NETWORKED. Both got their jobs through recommendations of people who knew the hiring manager.

The people making the referrals recognized that my clients were perfect matches for the job description - because their resumes made the case and so did my clients verbally. The referring people were well-respected by the hiring managers, so my clients' resumes got to the top of the pile. And they got interviews because of the recommendations. Then my clients aced the interviews because they were confident that they were the "right fit."

Here's some practical advice about networking:

* Put together a list of people you could contact to ask for help in getting a job doing what you want to do. List the obvious (former colleagues & bosses) to the not-so-obvious - one client got a job through her hairstylist.
* Add to your LinkedIn network - you need at least 100 contacts for it to become really useful. Go through your email. Use the LinkedIn tools to find people from your college, former workplaces, professional groups.
* Ask for recommendations on LinkedIn from at least 3 colleagues, former bosses, co-workers, clients, vendors, professors, teachers, classmates - anyone who knows your work product, work ethic, professional character, and working style. This is going to be used for a soft reference check by potential employers. It also gives you a reason to reach out to people - the beginning of a great network.
* Put some supporting documents on LinkedIn - a writing sample, a part of your reel, a presentation (obviously without disclosing proprietary information or intellectual property). People can see what you've got right away.
* Finalize your "intention statement" - the 30 second summary of what you want to do, what impact you want to have, and where you want to have the impact.

Once you have your intention statement finalized, you can get out there and network.

You can even start now, as long as you keep a close watch on how people respond to what you're saying. Are they interested in what you say about what you want to do? Or do their eyes glaze over? If there's a combination response, what made them pay attention? Those are the words and phrases that you want to keep.

One note: indecision and generalities are not useful. People usually want to help you, but in order to do so, they need you to be focused and specific. Otherwise, they'll have to do the work of getting you to be focused and specific. And most people won't do that. That's why coaches exist :-).

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Listen to What Employers Tell You, or Write as Long a Cover Letter as You Need to Make Your Point(s)

My friend Sue got an interview with a trading company in response to her cover letter and resume, as well as answers to an on-line questionnaire. When I looked at her cover letter, I crowed with delight to see a TWO-PAGE letter!

I explained that some of my clients think my cover letter samples are way too long, and they resist sending something that length. Sue told me she sent the letter because it was responsive to what the company founder said he wanted. She also told me that she changed her resume to mirror EXACTLY what he wanted to see in a resume. He outlined it in his book, which she is reading. One of the things he also said is that he wanted people to talk about him and his company - because it is his company and he wants to know you want to work for him. So she did.

All of this was music to my ears. Because employers often will tell you exactly what they want you to do when you apply, if you pay attention.

1. Job descriptions contain language, concepts, skills that is particular to the company. Use the language they use - not copying verbatim, but using some of their terms, phrases and words. The skills they require are the key words their software and human reviewers will look for. Oh, and mention the title of the position at least twice in the cover letter - at the top and in your closing paragraph.

2. Websites are a treasure trove. Go to the "About" or "For Investors" page to find the company mission or purpose, its vision and values, its annual report. Refer to the purpose, the kind of business they are in, the impact they have. Sincere flattery based on facts goes a looooooong way toward telling employers that you want to work there - and that you did your research. Use the name of the company at least twice in the letter, too, so it's clear you know where you want to work..

3. Public profiles and news items also contain a lot of information. Many companies have LinkedIn profiles now, and you can often see who works for them. Maybe you can connect with people there, and maybe you are already connected. Did the company or one of its top people achieve something recently? You can refer to that when you make contact.

4. Who leads the company? Again, the "About" section of a website has a lot of information. Did one of the leaders write a book? Read it. Do a search for the CEO and COO, and division heads, at least. Do any of them show up in the news? Maybe s/he attended a charity event or serves on the Board of a charity that you also support. Put the affiliation in your resume. You never know what will catch someone's attention.

Again: do what you are told to do. A long cover letter answers questions about how appropriate you are for the position. So do your research and include tidbits in your cover letter. At very least, a longer cover letter tells the employer you have something to say and it might be worth reading.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Moved blog to

I've moved my blog to a WordPress site, and am posting all kinds of new material there.

Why did I move?

The new site has more capability to put in videos, visuals, links and information. (One example: I don't have to do HTML coding anymore to put in links.) I'm having great fun finding material on YouTube and other sites that I can share with my readers to help you even more with your job search.

So follow me to my new site, and I'll look forward to your comments and feedback.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Great Job Search Key Words Are Your Skills

Job titles are not by themselves good key words for a search. Skills are.

When I work with people, we focus on the skills and talents they love to use and want to use again. Their “right fit” work is a position that will allow them to exercise their abilities and have their desired impact on a company, their own lives, the world. So let’s use that information about your Core Value Proposition and your Must Have List to find jobs that will be a “right fit” for you.

I suggest you search job sites – including Indeed, LinkedIn and (for non-profit jobs) – for those skills and see what job titles come up. Usually there are many different ones. Skills are what an employer wants, not someone who has had a specific title. So this focus is more likely to unearth the kind of jobs that will be a “right fit” for your abilities and preferences.

If you want, you can start to search sites for those job titles. Just make sure you continue to search for the skills you want to use, or you might miss some great opportunities.

Knowing the various possible job titles also will allow you to give people examples of the kind of work you want when they ask “so what are you looking for?” – a question I tell you how to answer in my blog on December 14 “Be Specific About Your ‘Right Fit’ Job.”

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Getting a Job Offer

An interesting phenomenon occurred with two clients over the past 2 weeks: both got job offers they were not ecstatic about.

One decided to take the position, with trepidation. The other is still deciding.

Huh??? In this economy, after searching for about a year, they aren’t ecstatic about getting a job? What’s up with that?

In the first case, the hesitation has to do with the company culture. She wonders if she will fit in and whether the company will truly accept her. On the face of it, this is her dream job: exactly the kind of work she wants to do, the role she wants to play (at a higher level than ever before!), the money she wants, the location she wants (local), and the kind of company she wanted to work for. Plus the company, in meeting all her requests, has shown great enthusiasm for her, her skills and abilities, and her Core Value Proposition.

Yet she hesitated to accept the job. It’s a company based in another country with a culture based in that country’s culture. It’s different from US-based companies, and she’s nervous about whether there will be a true fit.

It turns out that “culture and colleagues” is an extremely high priority on her Must Have List. So high, in fact, that it almost outweighed the other 5 items on her List.

She decided to take the job because it does meet so much of her Must Have List…and she needs a job and the income it provides. She can’t wait any longer. So she’s decided to give it a go, trusting that she’ll be able to cope. Oh, and she’s going to continue getting coaching to help her make the transition to a new culture. Yes, asking for help is definitely a coping mechanism.

My other client was offered a job that also meets virtually all of her Must Have List, with one major exception: location. She and her family will have to relocate from one coast to another. It’s almost a deal breaker for her.

The lesson of these two stories is that a Must Have List is an essential guide to what you want in a job, and one of the items almost always outweighs everything else. In a perfect world, you’d get everything you want. This isn’t a perfect world, though, so people are having to make some very hard choices. Including giving up something that they now realize mattered more than they expected.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Law of Attraction and Job Search

Most people have heard of the Law of Attraction, made famous by the book The Secret. I was fascinated to learn that there is such a "Law" because it's exactly what I've advocated for years: be specific about exactly what constitutes your "right fit" work and job.

Here's where the Law of Attraction comes in. When you can picture the job, you send a message to the universe that you’re open to this exact opportunity -- and that allows the Law of Attraction to start working. You attract the exact vibration job that you’ve envisioned.

What this means is that you are starting your job search with what you want -- your goal. With a goal, you can create a plan to reach it. This is starting with the end in mind. Specificity really helps in job search. When you know the specific kind of job you want,

* you know what to look for on job sites
* it’s easy to explain why certain jobs are the right ones for you
* people will quickly understand how to help you when you network
* you’ll immediately recognize job opportunities when they appear

And job opportunities will appear. There’s a very interesting alchemy that happens when you get specific. To paraphrase a quote attributed to Goethe, “when you fully commit to something, the universe steps in to support you.”

Once my clients know exactly what they want to do -- by developing their “Must Have List” of things they must have for a job to be the right fit for them -- it seems almost magical how opportunities begin to appear that are aligned with your goal. The Law of Attraction does work in job search.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Expand your Job Search Network

A very simple way to expand your job search network is to use LinkedIn. If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, get one fast!

The kind of resume I help people develop is LinkedIn-friendly. Your resume Profile turns into your LinkedIn Summary, your Core Capabilities turn into your Specialties, and your jobs easily fit into the LinkedIn space. Education comes after Experience in both places. I'll write more about an ideal LinkedIn profile, but back to the topic of networking now!

Once you have a good LinkedIn profile, it's time to connect with people. You want to connect with

* former colleagues
* current colleagues (if you're working)
* people at your house of worship
* other volunteers (if you volunteer)
* neighbors
* friends
* college classmates
* high school classmates
* your professional service providers (doctor, lawyer, accountant)
* your kid's friends' parents

Basically, you want as broad a network as possible. The idea is to have as many "First Degree Connections" as you can get for a couple of reasons.

1) More people will see your profile and updates, and have you in their mind. That makes it much easier for you when you contact them for help with your job search. You will be "top of mind" because they see you making changes to your profile, adding connections, making updates.

2) You have a much larger extended network. All those first degree connections have their own networks, and their networks have their own networks. You have access to these second and third degree connections. So the more first degree connections you have, the wider the reach you have for introductions to people with a 2nd or 3rd degree connection. Chances are that there is at least one person one or two degrees away from you who works at a company you have targeted.

You can find people to add to your connections by following these simple steps.

** To use your e-mail address to find people, go to your main page and click on "Contacts" and "Import Contacts."

** It will prompt you to enter a password if you need it, and then you hit enter and LinkedIn comes up with a huge list of people.

** Those who are on LinkedIn will have a little blue icon with "in" on it, indicating that they are on LinkedIn.

** The default is to check every box, so click on "select all" to UNselect all.

** You will then sort through to see who you want to add to your network. Click on the box next to those you choose.

** The box on the right will list all those to whom you want to send invitations. Click on "send" and the invites will be on their way.

Once you have connections, you can ask for recommendations. To have a complete profile, LinkedIn wants you have at least 3 recommendations. And recommendations are used more and more for "soft reference checks."

You can ask for recommendations on the site itself from people in your network. That's a topic for another day, and a VERY important one.