Archives for personal branding

LinkedIn is Hiding it’s Best Features

 

I’ve noticed over the 16 years as a LinkedIn user that, though LinkedIn has and offers some of the best practices, sometimes its interface doesn’t make following those best practices intuitive. In fact, some of its best features are hidden.

Cases in point:

1. Personalizing invitations

LinkedIn’s Quick Help resources advise and warn you: “To uphold LinkedIn’s trusted community, we encourage you to only connect with people you know. By sending fewer and more thoughtful invitations, you can help us keep LinkedIn a trusted space for everyone… We’ve found that most people ignore invitations from people they don’t know. A large number of rejected invitations could result in limitations on your LinkedIn account.”

Then, on another page, it tells you how to personalize your invitation, but doesn’t tell you that many people ignore boilerplate invitations. When I mean many, I mean that I personally know hiring managers, other LinkedIn experts, other career services professionals, executives, and speakers/authors who all intentionally ignore invitations without a personalized message.

(Here are 4 great reasons to ALWAYS personalize your invitation.)

Yet the easier thing to do is click connect. You have to click again on “Add a note” to personalize your message. On the phone apps, the ability to send a personalized invitation took a surprisingly long time to become a feature. It was hidden for a while, and now it’s more visible, but still just under “Connect,” which sends a boilerplate invitation.  Importing your other contact lists sends a generic invitation in bulk.

Every…single…expert will tell you to ALWAYS personalize your invitation, and here are four good reasons why. So why wouldn’t sending and personalizing your invitation be the default option?

2. Groups

Groups are one of the most powerful features of LinkedIn that help you increase your visibility, promote your expertise and brand, and engage directly with people who can be new network connections that help you expand your network. There are three ways to get directly to groups from your desktop homepage, but none of them are obvious. LinkedIn only points out one of them. The other is by using the search bar, but groups usually show up last among the search results (this is the only way I have found to get to groups from the iPhone app.) The third is the 9-dot “work” drop-down in the upper right corner.

 

3. Knowing your contacts

LinkedIn says, ”We recommend only inviting people you know and trust because 1st-degree connections are given access to any information you’ve displayed on your profile.” They have taken steps over the years to inhibit super-connectors from expanding their networks unchecked. The LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) subculture has their reasons for accepting all invitations, but once they hit or were imposed with limits, they have to then remove people they don’t know to add people they meet and for whom have genuine reasons to stay connected.  They then had to tell people, “Sorry – I’m at my limit.”

I have openly heard their side, however, I have found that by knowing my network, my efforts to connect with or connect other people are often successful and my network has grown into a healthy community of over 1400. I am “found” by many people (enough for my bandwidth) and my search results are rich with relevant people, even without an upgraded account.  Here are other reasons I have chosen to fill my network with people with whom I have personally interacted and what I do when I receive an invitation from someone I don’t know. As we’ll discuss in a bit, invitations like these are a good sign.

Some of the changes that LinkedIn has made have penalized people who have added too many people. However, they don’t leverage their navigation or user experience to prevent this. You used to have to adjust settings to only allow people you know a certain way to invite you, and when you sent an invitation you used to have to select how you know them. Certain selections would require you to put their e-mail address. However, people have multiple e-mail addresses and not all of them may be connected to your LinkedIn account. This might be why this is gone, or it could be because the super-connected LIONs are connected enough to be a threat and have successfully influenced interface design to make it easy to connect with anyone, whether you know them or not.

Sidebar: You’ll find Steven Burda and Jason Alba, both quoted in the article linked above on LIONs, in my network because I have had real-world interactions with both of them. In fact, Steven was my neighbor. Our daughters are in girl scouts together. Jason and I connected years ago about his job searching software. I was the 2nd guest on his podcast, Ask the Experts.

4. Stats

Whether you have a free or upgraded account, LinkedIn shows you how many people viewed your profile and posts. Views alone, however, are not a great way to measure the effectiveness of your profile content or activities on LinkedIn for what you probably want to achieve – professional opportunity. What is more relevant is how many invitations you receive in proportion to profile views. This will tell you if your profile brand and content is compelling. This is a quantitative measurement, but qualitatively, if you want to know if your brand is effective, evaluate how well the people who invite you align with your target audience(s) and profiles.

Something else LinkedIn will show you in notifications is when people interact with your dynamic content – status updates, posts and comments. It will show you, again, how many views, but with each interaction that takes a bit more effort, you can see how effective your posts are at increasing your visibility (because more engagement means more visibility as other people’s networks will see their activity in relation to your post and it may even show up on other people’s home feeds as a result), promoting your expertise, and engaging with people who have a high probability of adding value to your professional goals, as well as the goals of your other connections. Likes are the easiest to give. LinkedIn has now added other reactions (that sometimes don’t work for me) and takes just slightly more effort. Commenting, now that LinkedIn has autosuggestions, takes about as much effort, but obviously making a custom comment requires thoughtfulness – a large increase in effort. Tagging others doesn’t take as much effort, but is a great testament to the value of your content and does an even better job of increasing views of your content. Again, though, more views without engagement can be more of a sign of content that could use improvement, such as a call to action.

LinkedIn will count post and status update comments, but remember to evaluate your qualitatively as well.  Analyze your results so that you can continue to improve how your content and activity supports your professional objectives.

What are some great LinkedIn features that aren’t so obvious?

 

You’ve got to hide your love away – The Beatles (LYRICS/LETRA) [Original]

THE INSTRUMENTS IN THIS SONG ARE FROM THE MOST HONORABLE RIOHEY KANAYAMA PLEASE SUSCRIBE TO HIM: https://www.youtube.com/user/goldmine196909 If you liked this song, I invite you to listen the rest of Beatles songs subtitled into english and spanish, following the link below: ► https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qyPusDodDk&list=PL632iTavofD48JGlFY4VkYDKxoWfX17a1 TAGS: You’ve got to hide your love away, the beatles,, the beatles You’ve got to hide your love away, los beatles, os beatles, the beatles lyrics, los beatles letra, o beatles legendado, beatles, beatles john lennon, beatles paul mccartney, beatles ringo starr, beatles george harrison, yoko ono

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Intend to Land Before the Holidays Hit? What You Should Be Doing Right Now!

Holidays by Jim Lukach of Flickr

 

I am in as much denial as you that it is August already! My nieces and nephew in Georgia had their first day of school today and one of my Midwest clients’ kids went back two weeks ago.

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future.

Your brain, like mine, may simply refuse to acknowledge that the holidays will be here before you know it, but it is true.  There is always so much to do.

“I’ll just wait until school starts and we will settle into our new routine before I think about my job search.”

But then, the school year starts, and papers, to-dos, and events start to mount up.  The kids go back to their activities and you realize that things don’t settle down – ever!

As much as I admire my students for realizing so young the value of hands-on experience through Drexel University’s world-renowned co-op program, year-round 10-week terms demand a lot of their focus and energy. I wonder how they do it. Then, on top of that they have to pass my 1-credit, but very writing-intensive Career Management class in order to graduate. I can see how some of them may have complaints about the added demand, especially when some of them have landed jobs already.

However, the point can be made that as much as their education and lives demand of them right now, it is likely not going to get easier. Forming good habits by making time for professional development now will prove to exponentially impact their career and income trajectory throughout their future.

My clients already get that; they are the go-getters, the game changers, the disruptors, the thought leaders who invest time and money in increasing their visibility, reach, and impact. They are always looking ahead.

September is traditionally the second busiest hiring month. This is due to new job creation and companies needing to give one last push to end the year with maximum profit.

According to the BLS.gov, job creation was increasing more going into this summer than it had been in 15 years, but September offers the chance to re-invigorate summertime efforts to fill positions that proved challenging because of numerous stakeholder vacation plans.

If you want to get in the mix, you have to be already prepared to strike with a branded résumé and LinkedIn profile that enable you to compete, not just qualify.

Of course, this is true for new jobs, too, but the hiring process may still take several weeks to months, depending on the level and process.

That’s why, if we are being realistic…

The time to start preparing for a change in jobs before the holidays is now.

Here is how you start:

Step 1:

The first step for everyone is Career Discovery, which is an evaluation of what you want to keep and what you want to leave behind, and what you want in your future. This goes for your role, your level of responsibility and impact, your ideal boss, your ideal culture, your ideal income growth, and your overall ideal situation as it contributes to your desired lifestyle.

Yes, shoot for ideal first. You can always test the viability of the ideal and add a step or two if it is not obtainable now, but think far ahead before you plan your next step.

Step 2:

Consider and research what qualifications are needed to obtain the ideal based on those who have come before you. Do some self-reflection, take some assessments, or engage a coach who can help you identify how your natural and acquired abilities lend themselves to such a path.

Step 3:

Craft a brand that promotes your unique value in relation to the pains, challenges, and initiatives of your ideal target.

Step 4:

Compose a résumé and LinkedIn profile that tell a compelling story, but that are native to the media. In other words, have a résumé that takes all your special knowledge, skills, experience, and talents and puts them concisely into hard business terms that demonstrate that you are someone who adds tremendous value and fits the organization’s culture. Have a LinkedIn profile that compliments the story, but sounds like you and allows your personality and passion to come through without sounding trite and cliché.

These are the minimum steps you will want to take in August if you want to land by the holidays.

Sound daunting?  Is it too much to handle?

Nah. You can handle it, but you do not have to handle it alone.

If you think it would be beneficial to invest ($900 – $2000) in an expert partner to help you navigate this process, take advantage of a free 40-minute consultation by completing and sending a needs assessment form and your most recent résumé, even if it is incomplete or not updated.

 

If the investment is beyond your budget, we understand, and have DIY solutions so that you can still take advantage of my expert advice on the branding process and use tools that help you create your own branded content.

 

Step 6 to Career Happiness: Refine! It is and it isn’t a Numbers Game

Numbers by MorebyLess of Flickr

 

A lot of people do not follow step five to happiness, asking for help, because they assume that the reasons they are not able to land the job that they want after making a concerted effort are beyond their control, or worse, that the problem is them. In other words, they feel beyond help. This is a dangerous and wildly inaccurate perspective, because it can lead to hopelessness and depression.

There has been a trend in the past year on LinkedIn I have been watching with concern. Against personal branding best practices, people are pouring their heart out about their despair in their status updates, as comments on other viral status updates, or even calling out people that they blame for their situation.

Even though most get what they seek with these actions, sympathy, encouragement, sometimes even advice or offers to help, there is a detriment to doing this, which I cover in my vlog, Get Interviews Through Your Network – The #1 Key Ingredient Most People Are Missing. However, some advice people give is good, and some of it, unfortunately, can actually make people feel worse in the end.

The advice that can be most damaging is that it is a numbers game. By the time someone has gone seeking advice online, they have usually already exhausted themselves replying to anything and everything for which they could possibly be a fit.

To hear that they just have to sustain that somehow can be very daunting. And, I do not think I need to repeat the definition of insanity.

What they really need to hear is that some of their activities are going to produce really great results, and when they discover what that is they do not have to spend nearly as much time and effort getting those results.

To be clear, the results you want to see in your job transition of course are interviews, but not just any interviews. Interviews are a big expenditure of our effort and energy. To do them right you have to do a lot of research, practicing and mentally practicing, making yourself look and feel professional, and then there is the adrenaline needed to just travel there and get through the interview. Then, of course, there is the energy that you spend after the interview wondering how you did, when you will hear something, when the appropriate time to follow up is, do you even want this opportunity, did they like you… On and on.

While momentum in your job transition does look like multiple viable opportunities in play at the same time, the key is “viable.” Judiciously give time and energy for opportunities that are a good fit for you and you for them.

Backing up a few steps, other results that indicate that you are doing the right activities, are introductions to other people relevant to your goals, whether they be in a target company or not. Even one introduction to someone who is well-connected can lead to multiple high-quality leads, if you can teach them how to develop those leads for you.

That is the other key – not only do you have to do the right activities, but you have to do them in the right way.

Though many people do not know what the right activities are and what the right way to engage and execute is, anyone can learn them. It is also true that this can differ from person-to-person based on individual goals, challenges, and strengths.

You can discover these on your own, which means instituting a good activity tracking system that also tracks your results, evaluating that on a regular basis, and experimenting with and tweaking your activities.

I estimate that if you were disciplined with inputting your activities, strong with data analysis, and bold enough to try various activities, that with some trial and error, you could be much more productive and efficient by week five or six.

If you do not have five or six weeks for trial and error, you do not consider yourself disciplined, strong in analysis, or bold by nature, but you are coachable, you can be more productive and efficient in half the time by engaging a career coach like me who has the systems, tools, expertise, and a strong track record of results.

Besides the pragmatics of your activities and what you do, there is also another how that must be addressed, because some people are doing the right activities, but who they are does not inspire the action of others. I’m not trying to say that people are being wrong, but what I am saying is that some people are not being their full, complete selves. Before you invest in a coach, you have to find one with whom you can be completely open and vulnerable, otherwise your investment could be in vain. A coach worthy of your investment will be able to identify and promptly, compassionately share with you when you are not thinking or acting in your highest good. Furthermore, besides tools and systems to help you and your activities, they will also offer tools and systems to help you heal and restore so you show up as a person that you would hire.

So, while you know you are doing the right things in the right ways from the right frame of mind when you have multiple viable opportunities in play, the key is to getting there is not to continue activities at a high volume for the sake of activity.

If you have come to an unfortunate and inaccurate conclusion based on lack of results that you are the problem, please have a free consultation with me. You are actually whole, complete, and perfect by nature, though you may have been taught and believe otherwise. You do enough, you have enough, and you are enough. You may need some help accepting that, or you may not have answered the call to adventure that is true to you.

 

Success and happiness is yours for the taking.

This is the final part of my six-part series. If you have missed previous entries please see steps one, two, three, four, and five.

 

Dear Soon-To-Be Graduates: 3 of 7 Things You May Not Want to Know, But Need To

The Graduates by Luftphilia of Flickr

 

I went back to college this weekend. It was horrifying to discover that these girls were born the year I pledged. My sorority invited alumnae back to campus to say farewell to the house that has been ours since my senior year. It was a time to reflect on some of the most impactful years of my life, but also to remember the fear, uncertainty, and sadness that accompanied leaving college, where your best friends were often just a door away. I had no grand plan, like some of my friends, and no full-time salaried job as an aspiring radio personality. I was under the impression that if I could not make it in radio, I would be living in a ditch begging for change to buy a meal.

That never happened, though hard times did follow. When asked, “What’s life like after graduation?” I had to remember that some of the best things in my life happened after college – my band, my husband, my company, my kids, and teaching, in that order.  As my friends now turn 40, (I’m the youngest, so I get to watch them all get there first) I see that for some of them, it means it is all downhill from here. That was an exact quote from a 40th birthday party I went to last night. (Happy 40th, Neal!) Looking back at the last decade, at what I have learned, how I have grown, what I’ve been able to accomplish and contribute, I am excited for the next decade.  I’m looking forward to it, and I think there are amazing things yet to come.

BUT, there are some things that I would have wanted my younger self to know, which I felt compelled to pass on to the graduating seniors in my sorority, and my students, as well as ALL soon-to-be graduates. I feel these things would have potentially catapulted me so much further so much faster if I had known and applied them.

Before I get into the hard truths, I most want ALL people, but particularly young people, to know that there IS a formula for success, and no matter what family structure, social or economic status, education, circumstance, or hardships you are from, they DO NOT limit your future at all. At any time you can improve your life. The tools, technology, and teaching exist – all you have to do is harness them.

Okay, now on with what you may not want to hear, but need to know if you want to make your 30s onward the best years of your life.

  1. Unless you land at Google, Apple, Disney, a Big 4 consulting firm, or a company with a similar colossal reputation, it will not be as easy as it is right now to land a job.

The co-op program where I teach is world-renowned. The biggest, most admired companies want these graduates badly. They come out of school not as entry-level workers who were getting coffee and observing leadership, but as junior business stars who have already solved real business problems. By the time they take my mandatory career management class, many of them already have jobs lined up from campus recruitment efforts and co-ops that led to offers. While you may be recruited aggressively if you work for a company with clout for hiring and developing the best talent, the legwork to find your next gig, even internally, if you don’t is on you.  AND, furthermore, even if you are aggressively recruited, you are not necessarily managing your career optimally by being reactive to recruiters’ sales pitches. This is why the class that I teach is not “Get a Job 101,” but Career Management and Professional Development. See your career growth as a trajectory and learn how to course correct early. Learn and master the life skills of personal branding, networking, and career management.

  1. The bottom is often the best place to start if you want to be a great leader.

Many of my clients are influential leaders today because they were once in the trenches. Isn’t that the point of Undercover Boss? Making well-informed business decisions can be easier when you have first-hand knowledge of business from the front-line to the executive office. Those that have been successful in implementing massive change say that they were able to rally the troops because they were once the troops. Empathy, as we have stated before, is quickly gaining popularity as one of the most effective leadership tools.

Also, even for those students who were solving real business problems in their co-ops or internships, it might be worth considering starting even lower if the target role or company is worth it. I can speak from experience here.

While I was on air, reporting news, DJing, producing live talk shows, and operating the board for remote broadcasts at a small community radio station, my fellow Communications majors were putting up flyers at concerts, dressing up in costumes, and handing out chotchkes for the major media radio stations. I figured I had the advantage, but I was wrong. I moved to the Jersey Shore and did get to work producing talk shows for an AM station, while digging into commercial production and more part-time work. I temped to pay the bills. Meanwhile, my fellow classmates went on to full-time jobs eventually at the major media stations. Granted, some of their jobs involved much less glamorous, even undignified tasks, like getting shot from a cannon. Guess what – they are STILL THERE, loving their jobs and making what is probably good money. Casey is the Executive Producer of a VERY popular morning show that is streamed worldwide.  Matt is a Regional Director for Advertising for the conglomerate and Joann is Traffic Manager for a radio station in the same company.

When it came down to it, I had recognized after a year in radio that I was not really willing to continue working awful hours, get paid peanuts, do the boring parts of the work OR keep moving from market to market in order to achieve my ultimate position, but that was what I had learned was necessary from the people who were more senior than I at the station where I worked. At the larger station I would have had a completely different experience, and even though I might not have started out on the air, perhaps I would have found a different niche in radio and stayed there until today, too. Not that I have regrets – I think things worked out just as they were supposed to. However, I’ll always wonder.

  1. In time, you will earn the right to demand certain accommodations IF you are a top performer. But for now, you have to play their game.

Older generations will tell you that they had no illusions – work hard, get a job, work your butt off, save your money, and you’ll be fine. That is not what the younger generations have seen, though, so it is not what they will believe. With diminishing financial security for employees came resentment to employers for taking more than they give. This is what has led to a perceived sense of entitlement.

Even though there are talent gaps, and certain skill sets are very high in demand, most are not. Yes, talent is hard to find, but that does not mean companies are willing to bend over backwards to hire you. Ultimately, there has to be mutual respect and value in the deal.  Many things ARE negotiable, but that depends highly on the company, their policies, their culture and what you have PROVEN you can do to make it worth giving you more than they have given to employees before you.

If you are really that good, get in and prove your worth. You may earn the right to ask for more flexibility, more money, extra vacations, or perks. In the meantime, understand that though your package should remain confidential, IF anyone were to learn of you getting preferential treatment, you would not like the climate that breeds.

 

As graduation month ramps up, I hope this food for thought is helpful, even if it may not be encouraging. In a way, your adult life does not really begin until after college. Adulting is not always fun, but being armed with wisdom and systems for success will make it much more enjoyable.

Follow me and stay tuned for more things you need to know, but may not want to hear.

Share this with graduates you know.

 

Refuse the Box: The Perils of Vanilla Branding

Checked Tick by Oliver Tacke of Flickr

 

Are you dynamic? What does that even mean?

Very few people who have had that word in their resume have been able to tell me what it really means. Most of them just thought it sounded good.

It is true for most people, however. I could definitely say it has been true of all my clients. To me dynamic means multi-dimensional, having a diverse set of interests and skills, and having a certain intrigue.

While some companies are investing millions of dollars and allocating work hours into creativity boosting exercises, other companies seem to stifle individuality and expression.

It certainly does take all kinds of people to make the world go around, and so you could conclude that the same could be true about businesses.

My friend who works at a very conservative financial services company shared a story that in a conference a report was distributed that misspelled “assess” very prominently and in several places. She would not dare laugh. I know she loves her job and her company, but I could not personally work somewhere where we all couldn’t get a good laugh out of that mistake.

Most of my clients agree with me. For my clients’ sake, I am willing to take a risk early on in the writing process. We have an initial 90-minute branding consultation in which I use my intuition and investigative skills to uncover what makes my clients so special, and by that I mean really unique. I craft four-to-six branding points and then provide them with a request letter that they sent to their trusted inner circle for feedback. This is risky for me because often these branding points represent the softer, qualitative aspects of my clients and I have found many people consider these to be “nice and true, but not necessarily relevant.”

I beg to differ.

The other risk is that these branding points tend to be quite wordy, and not really representative of the kind of concise, quantitative content that I would write for a résumé. Often these branding points portray multiple aspects. It is challenging and excessive to explain how these branding points are used for my internal writing process. Basically, they help me make sure that all of the content has a “so what” feel and that every piece of content I write for my clients presents a clear and consistent brand.

The feedback that my client receives from his or her inner circle usually has a fair amount of commentary on the complexity of the bullet points and skepticism on the relevance. The feedback that I dislike the most, however, is when someone takes a strength, like forthrightness, and advises that we either hide this strength because it is not appreciated by some companies. Or they advise we make it sound more vanilla, aka generic, such as to say “effective communicator.”

The intention is good – they want my client to be marketable and attractive to as many companies as possible, thinking that is the best way to succeed. However, then this forthright client finds himself in a company that values passive-aggressive communication, bureaucracy, and pardon my language, ass-kissing. Not only is he miserable, but he sees how the company’s culture is strangling its own progress and he can’t be as successful as he could be were his honest input valued.

I do not mind sorting through the feedback, good or bad, because I get to reinforce for my clients that they do not need to fit someone else’s idea of who they should be.

You do not need to check all the boxes, or fit inside a box in order to be successful.

Certainly we do not step into a job interview spilling our guts about our failures and weaknesses, but no one would believe us if we were perfect anyway. There is quite a sense of freedom in believing that you can be authentic and be valued.

At this point in the process, they have to take a leap of faith that they actually can be accepted and successful, that the job exists, and the offer will come.

This process also uncovers pure gold. The aspects of my clients that I may have missed, the things about them only someone who worked side-by-side with them would be able to notice, or even what their spouses admire about them.

With a renewed appreciation of who they are, a résumé that substantiates their skills and validates their value, and a new hope that they will be compelling and attractive to the right company and the right boss, they actually become excited to be in action. They feel ready to take on whatever challenges present themselves in the transition process. And of course, I will be there to make sure they know exactly what to do when challenges arise.

If the thought of having to check boxes or fit your dynamic self into a box saps any energy you could possibly muster up to conduct a job search, please know that there is another way and we would love to help you discover and execute it. Our six-week Epic Careering Fast Track Program is starting soon!

The more people we help realize a new idea of authentic careering, more people believe it is possible, and the more companies may realize that a “dynamic” culture is in demand.

 

The Shoo-in Trap

Trapped by Christos Tsoumplekas on Flickr

Trapped by Christos Tsoumplekas on Flickr

Beth was certain she was a shoo-in at her dream company. The web administrator had gone through several interviews and even met with the company’s CEO. During each interview she was told that she was an excellent candidate and she was perfect for the job. Everything seemed to be going Beth’s way and she began to think there was no way she wouldn’t land the job. After receiving great feedback from her potential employer for a month, Beth quit searching for other jobs. She even turned down interviews and offers from other companies to focus solely on her dream job. Several more weeks passed and Beth received a phone call. The Web Administration job at her dream company had gone to a stronger candidate. She was shocked and devastated. She had put all of her job prospect hopes on one position at one company and the position fell through. Nearly two months had passed and Beth suddenly found herself having to rebuild momentum for another job search.

In Beth’s case she originally had momentum going into her job search. Momentum in the job search is like a steam train. It takes a lot of preparation to get the train to start moving and to get the fire hot enough to boil the water. Once that train starts, it takes less and less effort to keep it going. When you know there’s a mountain up ahead, you put a little extra coal into the fire to keep the train moving. It gets tougher toward the top, but once you reach the pinnacle, it’s an easy road down. Depending on one opportunity to come through, no matter how certain you are, is like getting the fire going to get the train moving, and then expecting that fire to create enough steam to move you up a mountain. The only thing about a mountain is you know when it’s coming, you have a map and can see it in the distance. In your job search, a mountain can be any obstacle and you don’t necessarily know it’s coming.  In that respect, it’s like any challenge or unexpected change in life. In a job search, anything can happen, and as a former recruiter I can tell you with 100% certainty that nothing is 100% certain.

The moment Beth thought her dream job was a sure thing she slowed down her momentum and stopped exploring her other options. In short, she placed all of her hopes on one job prospect, and when it fell through, she didn’t have another job offer lined up or other prospects in motion. Candidates can be turned down for a number of reasons and it’s always best to assume the job isn’t yours unless you’re actually offered the job.

Now, let’s re-imagine Beth’s scenario- Beth has a dream opportunity, and several other opportunities. She really wants the dream opportunity, but doesn’t want to slow her job search momentum. She uses another offer to entice her dream company into action. They might make her an offer just to prevent her from accepting a competitor’s offer, IF they really want her. And, if they don’t and they’re a good company, they will be fair and give her the information she needs to make a well-informed decision about her other offer. That company will set her free. This is an ideal scenario for when you’re seemingly a shoo-in for one company you love, but you also have strong prospects at other companies.

 

 

Don’t let your train run out of steam

 

Getting a call for an interview and acing several interviews can definitely build confidence in your job search. After all, getting called back for an interview and landing several more interviews means that an employer is strongly considering you for the position. That said, it is folly to believe that a few rounds of interviews automatically translates to securing the position even with spectacular feedback. You want to believe the position is yours, especially if it is your ideal company. At this point in the game, it may be tempting to put your job hunt on hold in order to focus on that one position. If there’s no offer, there are still concerns, questions and potentially other candidates. Former Marketplace host, Tess Vigeland describes being a shoo-in as the next host of NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered, only to not get the job.

Limiting yourself by focusing on one company means that you are potentially missing out on other great opportunities, and you are limiting your income. You have the ultimate leverage when a company really wants you, but another company gives you a great offer. (Note: there is a tactful and professional way to approach this, as well as a way that will cause both companies to revoke their offers. Proceed with caution.)

Even if you’re convinced that a possible employer is the very best fit for you, it is impossible to be certain without fully exploring your options. An employer who is a better fit for your criteria may offer you a job opportunity. If your current job pursuit is going extremely well and you love the company, nothing is truly a done deal unless you’ve signed an employment contract and have a start date, and even then I’ve seen job offers fall through. Focusing on one employer also means you’ve slowed down your job search momentum and potentially caused that momentum to grind to a half if you aren’t the final candidate. Here’s another scenario to consider: You could drop all of your other employment prospects to focus on one job, research the company and discover you don’t want to work for that company. Now you have to restart your job search. This extends the time, money and effort you have to expend to land your ideal job.

 

 

Why promising candidates are turned down

 

Promising candidates are frequently turned down for positions even if they seem to be a perfect fit. The most common reason why candidates are rejected is because someone more promising or qualified is given the position. Having a series of great interviews and being told you’re a great candidate may just mean you’ve made it to the final round of the job hiring process. You may find yourself as the runner-up, despite being a very strong candidate. Imagine it from the employer’s perspective- you’ve just had a great interview with a strong candidate and that prospect matches all of the criteria for the position. The decision process is coming to a close and at the last minute you interview someone else. Now you have two very strong candidates in the final round. Both candidates have great qualifications, but you go with the job seeker who’s a better cultural fit and has better chemistry with the team. If you have your employer’s best interests at heart as a hiring manager, naturally you’re going to choose the candidate who’s the very best match for the company. In fact, team chemistry really matters in the hiring process. I’ve seen SO many job seekers believe they were a shoo-in for the job because they felt amazing chemistry with a team and a boss. They aren’t able to see how another candidate can come in and have even better chemistry.

 

Other reasons for being rejected can range from surprising to petty.

 

  1. The funds for the position were never there, are reallocated, or spent

 

Perhaps the hiring manager was given the green-light to interview for positions, but they never received the necessary budget to actually hire a candidate. The job seeker and the hiring manager go back and forth, and it seems like a done deal until the funds for the position don’t materialize in a timely manner. When the funds and the position are finally available, you have given up on the job and moved on.

I actually experienced this first-hand. In 2002 I was looking for a recruiting job for 10 months. During that time a company that I really wanted to work for told me that I was the strongest candidate, and the only candidate, but the company was undergoing a reinvention, as did most companies during that time in order to survive the recession. For months I followed up weekly, eagerly hoping to hear that the position was ready to go. This was also true of another small recruiting company. I was the lead candidate, but was the position really open?

It was too tenuous of an economy for any firm to know if another recruiter was really necessary. I lived this and learned from this experience myself. Within those 10 months there were three jobs that I not only felt strongly I would land, but was the ONLY candidate being considered. It took me 10 months to learn that momentum was critical to optimizing my chances at landing a job, and I became more proactive AND responsive to EVERY job lead and introduction.

After finally landing, I was laid off again three months later, but the next time it only took me five weeks to land, because I had learned my lesson. Even if you have 10 to 12 months worth of savings in the bank to cushion a longer transition, that’s 10 to 12 months of income LOST instead of saved or invested for your retirement, your ultimate vacation or your own business. Learn from MY mistakes and save yourselves nine months.

 

  1. You had a bad reference

 

The position could have very well been offered to you, but near the end of the hiring process one of your references spoke poorly of you. A bad reference could have come from a client, co-worker, or a previous employer. This could be especially true if you left your previous job on a less than positive note. A bad reference isn’t always malicious. They might have said something as innocent as, “Yes, they were late more than three times.” BANG. You’re out of contention. It is also not uncommon for former bosses or co-workers to give a potential employer their opinion about your performance, especially if he or she didn’t like you. Or, a reference may not have been expecting a call, and a potential employer has a difficult time contacting them. This could also reflect badly on you. Recruiters can also call people NOT on your reference list. If they have their own contacts, they’ll be resourceful enough to reach out to people they know. Making sure you have references that are willing to say positive things about you, and letting them they will be contacted can help avoid inadvertently getting a bad reference. If you know you a former employer won’t provide a good reference, you may to warn your prospective employer about that reference. A quick tip: Stick to the facts and keep it simple; don’t go into your “story” about what happened.

 

  1. Someone at your potential employer recognized you

 

You could have aced all of your interviews, had great references, and you could have been the very best candidate for the job, only to have a former co-worker ruin your prospects. A co-worker you didn’t get along with may have landed a position at your potential employer. He or she may have recognized you during an interview and later told the hiring manager that you’d be a bad fit for the company. They could have not liked you, genuinely thought your work was subpar, or they may be jealous of your talent. Whatever the reason, they had enough sway within the company to completely halt the hiring process.

 

Recovering from a job rejection

 

No one likes rejection. It is easy to internalize a job rejection and see it as a personal failure. Feelings of depression and doubts about your self-worth can set in, sending you on a downward spiral. I wrote about positive ways to deal with job rejection in a previous article. It is important to remember that your ability to quickly land a job isn’t directly tied to your worth as a person. Job rejections are common and you’ll hear “no” several times before someone says “yes.” If necessary, give yourself a little time to recover from your rejection. You may need a few days or as long as week. Focus on your accomplishments and move forward in your next job search. You may have not gotten your dream job, but the opportunities to land another job are plentiful, as you search smartly and target your next employers.

 

 

Best practices

 

It can be easy to become fixated on one dream job at your ideal company. In reality, it is best to have several job prospects. You want to be in a position where several companies are extending job offers to you, instead of assuming you got the job without an actual offer. This means researching companies and making sure they meet your list of criteria, networking with and connecting to people at a potential employer, and it also means being the candidate employers don’t want their competition to hire. This can be accomplished by presenting a strong résumé, crafting a personalized cover letter, and having a positive social media presence that establishes you as a thought leader in your industry. Being a desirable candidate and having multiple job prospects at once ensures that your job momentum doesn’t slow down, and that you’ll always have additional opportunities if you ultimately aren’t selected by a particular employer.

 

 

Being a shoo-in for a particular job is a great feeling. The danger of being a shoo-in is that you may be tempted to ignore other job prospects in order to focus your energy on one job. Expand your self-image to see yourself as a shoo-in for multiple jobs, in a position of empowerment and choice. Your opportunities will be abundant, and you’ll never be limited to just one job. You won’t have to face the disappointment of not possibly getting that job. Think of it this way- your train is steaming ahead and a mountain is fast approaching. You know the mountain, like any challenge in life, has the ability to cause your job search to lose momentum. You want to keep your train moving, so you carefully stoke that fire to help you get over and down the mountain to your next destination safely with your valuable cargo. Don’t place all of your hope on one dream job at the expense of other jobs. It takes extra work to keep multiple job searches going, but the results are well worth your effort. Having more opportunities means you’ll recover from setbacks quickly, land your next job faster, negotiate the salary you want, and enjoy the freedom that overall financial well-being can bring.

 

Unemployment Bias: Create Your Own Opportunities

"College of DuPage Hosts Career Fair 2015 23" by COD Newsroom from Flickr

“College of DuPage Hosts Career Fair 2015 23” by COD Newsroom from Flickr

 

Finding employment can be more difficult if you’re unemployed. It can be a frustrating period in your life, but it can also be a great opportunity to transition faster into a new position. You can spend a 40-hour week networking, researching employers and creating opportunities that will help you land sooner.

 

Jay had been working as a User Interface (UI) Programmer in a large marketing firm for nearly five years. He was suddenly laid off from his job and at a loss as to what to do next. It was the first time he found himself unemployed. For a while, he lived off of unemployment benefits and applied for jobs using various job boards. Before he knew it, more than six months had passed. During the worst of times, it seemed as if Jay’s résumés went into black holes, or what we refer to as “e-pits”. Other times, he landed interviews only to have the gap in his employment looked at with suspicion by employers.

Finally, Jay had enough of his confidence being undermined by his unemployment situation and fear of never finding work again. He began to explore his network, volunteered, attended industry group meetings, and wrote often about his skills and knowledge as a UI Programmer. He made sure his work was posted to his social media accounts. He presented himself as “between jobs” and “open for new opportunities”. Eventually, he was hired by a new marketing firm. The information about the job opening had come from his network, but it was Jay’s self-confidence and ability to sell his own worth (as opposed to coming off desperate) that helped land the job.

This example encompasses two scenarios. In the first, a person finds him or herself without employment and they reactively search for a job. They visit online job boards or send hundreds of résumés out in the hope of getting called for an interview. They don’t find a job immediately, months pass and they become caught in a vicious downward cycle. Employers question the long gap in their employment, they lose confidence, become desperate and apply for any open position at a company and they continue to languish as the interviews (and their finances) dwindle away. There are millions of these types of heart-breaking stories.

While some people eventually get a break, there is a difference between getting lucky and creating your own luck. Getting lucky means you’re at the mercy of your circumstances. Maybe someone will see your résumé and give you a chance. When creating your own luck, you’re actually creating your own job opportunities. Your ambition, passion and drive, combined with your skills and qualifications make you too tempting of a candidate to pass up. Which brings us to the second scenario.

A person is unemployed, but instead of reactively looking for work, he or she takes a proactive job search approach.  They go to their network and ask about open positions. They volunteer when they can, and they make sure to attend networking events, industry meet-ups, and do whatever they can to meet people in person. They present themselves as “between jobs”, but they keep abreast of industry news and maintain a competitive advantage. They even take some time to hire someone to polish their résumé or do it themselves. Their personal brand demonstrates their skill, value and passion. They know people in their network will eventually produce leads, and they will be ready to capitalize upon those leads.

Let’s get the obvious bad news out of the way: It can be harder to land a job if you’re unemployed. Employers have a variety of biases toward the unemployed. These biases can create a challenge for job seekers, which may require applying a different strategy to a job search. Employers may assume a worker’s skills may have become rusty if he or she has been out of work for more than six months. They may feel if a person can’t immediately land a job, he or she must be lazy and can’t keep a work schedule. Or it may be more tempting to poach an employee from a competitor than hire someone unemployed, even if the unemployed person has stronger qualifications. Some employers may go as far as to tell the unemployed they should not apply for an open position at their company.

Quite frankly, excluding the unemployed is extremely short-sighted. Abby Kohut argues in her article, “Why ‘The Unemployed Need Not Apply’ Need Not Apply to You” that it is absurd to eliminate out-of-work job-seekers without understanding why they’re unemployed. The reasons can range from stay-at-home parents returning to work, workers who were laid off, or workers who were fired (it’s not always the worker’s fault). That last reason is quite chilling. Your job could vanish in an instant due to no fault of your own. Don’t let employer bias deter you from your job search. At the end of the day, networking is still the best way to land a new job. Also, the employer practice of poaching talent doesn’t always work. There will be positions that need to be filled immediately and a highly qualified unemployed person could be the perfect match.

Employer bias is such an issue that legislation has been passed banning this practice. I wrote about it in my article, “Unemployment Discrimination: Does it need a solution?”, New York City passed a jobless discrimination bill in March 2014, while 11 states and multiple cities have their own versions of these laws. The legislation seeks to prohibit unemployment discrimination and allows aggrieved applicants to sue employers (in certain cities, like NYC). Unfortunately, as I wrote in my article, these laws are more of a hindrance than a help as the economy improves.

Technology is rapidly changing business and the long and short-term unemployed need to have the latest skills to compete. If these laws aren’t accompanied by training programs to help the unemployed compete in the workplace, they can be harmful. In some states the unemployed have to surrender their benefits to receive state-compensated training. While such a move could be beneficial in the long run, a reasonable person would have a difficult time forfeiting guaranteed income in order to participate in such a program. It’s hard to focus on learning when you’re unable to put food on the table. Furthermore, creating legislation to ban unemployment discrimination won’t prevent employers from covertly excluding the unemployed if they’re really determined.

So, should you present yourself as unemployed?

My opinion is… Be You! Lying on your résumé or your LinkedIn profile about your employment status won’t gain you any favors. In fact, it may become clear that you’re lying. I had a prospective client who was told by peers not to change her status on LinkedIn. This could be perceived as a lie, or an oversight. Either way, it doesn’t present you as forthright, accurate or prompt. Be yourself and believe in your professional value. You may be out of a job, but you still have a lot to offer an employer. Your skills and knowledge didn’t vanish along with your job.  (There are some careers that will become obsolete in the future, and it may become necessary for those professionals to reinvent themselves.) Know your target market, your skill set and your qualifications.  It is the passion for an industry that shines brilliantly. Your passion is your brilliance, and that brilliance will attract others to you.

Your personal brand should reflect your brilliance. You’re unemployed, but if you constantly blame others, and your former employer, it reflects badly on you. Think about it. If you’re constantly on your social networks, or attending events decrying your unfortunate situation, others will take notice. Instead of noticing your passion for your industry, others will only see your bitterness and will make it a point to give you a wide berth. On the flipside, if you’re constantly presenting yourself as passionate and engaged in your industry, someone will take notice and it could lead to job opportunities. In short, you may never know who’s watching, and you want to attract people, not repel them.

There are employers who will always have a bias against the unemployed, but ultimately it is their loss. Being passionate and unemployed can have its own advantages. Here’s a scenario to consider. Some employers are targeting those currently working for their competition as their priority effort, or expecting the third party recruiters they work with to do so. However, this requires a lot of selling and wooing, and there’s also a LOT of negotiating to make this successful. When this gets tiring, they look for the people immediately available. And if a need is urgent, they are not going to look for people who need to give two week’s notice. Suddenly, that highly-qualified, zealous and extremely available job-seeker is too tempting to pass up. Or maybe that job-seeker has been targeting employers of choice and now a position is finally open. Again, why bother looking elsewhere and negotiating with someone who’s already employed, when you can hire a passionate job-seeker who has been making connections within the company?

 

Let’s return to a favorite adage of mine that you can apply to employers and their attitudes about hiring you– “Some will, some won’t. So what? Next!”.

 

That’s much easier to say when you have momentum on your side. Don’t fall into a fear trap, thinking that you have to play political or tactical games to make it through the process. The difference in how it feels to generate interest by just being your best self versus pretending to be something that you’re not is the difference between freedom and being trapped. This is what we mean by “Unveil Your Brilliance”. We mean, be you, because you are brilliant, and people just need to see that. We don’t mean try to be something or someone else. That’s not the path to empowerment or authentic happiness.

 

 

7 Steps to Powerful Introductions

"One-to-one meetings" by Richard Hadley from Flickr

“One-to-one meetings” by Richard Hadley from Flickr

 

In the late 2000’s Jack found himself out of work. He had been at his dream job for years and expected to stay with the company for many more years. Instead, his company was bought by a competitor and his job was cut. Jack hadn’t needed to look for a job since the 1990’s, and discovered the job market had changed drastically. He now had to compete with hundreds, if not thousands of other applicants for one position and he felt lost during the entire job search process. His career suddenly had no direction. It took Jack almost two years to land another job.

After two years of unemployment, Jack had enough of the constant job rejections and knew it was time for a change. He enlisted my help and together we rebranded his résumé to stand out and highlight his unique qualifications. He also used the 7 steps that I outline in this article (see below), in order to set an agenda for the conversations he would have, to garner powerful introductions within his industry, and to get his job search back on track. It wasn’t long before Jack was given one job offer, and then by sustaining the agenda and the momentum, was offered additional jobs. You can listen to Jack’s entire story and his happy ending on episode 3 of our Tales from the Flipside Podcast.

You may be like Jack and discover your long-time career is coming to an end. Or, perhaps you’re ready to change employers. Instead of fretting over your next job, you can set the stage for a bidding war between employers. Imagine being scouted for your talent by multiple companies, and having the confidence to command the salary you want. By setting the agenda for conversations with others in your industry, you inspire powerful introductions, and give momentum to your job search. Whatever your employment situation is, you want to ensure any conversation could potentially become a job lead. Your next job lead could come from an unexpected place. It could come from a networking event, an old colleague you ran into at the grocery store or a follow-up phone call from a new LinkedIn connection. Use these 7 steps to set an agenda for your conversations and forge meaningful connections that turn into job leads.

1. Do Your Research Beforehand:

Before you start a conversation you’ll first have to do your research. What does a company need, and how can you contribute to them with your skill set?

As you prepare for your conversation learn more about the person. Where does he or she work? Is their company your next ideal employer? Can they help introduce you to other influential people within your industry? When you have the chance to introduce yourself, demonstrate you’ve done the research by already knowing who they are and what they do. However, there is one caveat. If you claim to know too much about someone, it can come off a little creepy and make people run. Stick to what they publicly share. Mention the common connections you may have and direct the conversation toward mutual interests, hobbies and/or your industry. For instance, “Did you happen to read the latest blog by Google’s CTO? It raised some very interesting points about virtualization and security”. A compliment is always a fall-back approach, as long as it’s genuine.

The point is not to start a conversation off by broadcasting the fact that you’re looking for a job, or to only talk about yourself. Focus on sharing your industry-related opinions, insights and advice, while asking for theirs in return. You may have done your research before a conversation, but you can use the opportunity to learn more about them.

 

2. Hone Your Networking Pitch:

Your networking pitch can be thought of as a commercial about your professional brand. Create various pitches that are molded to the needs of various audiences. If you’re meeting an industry contact for coffee, have a specific pitch ready. If you’re meeting with recruiters and hiring managers at a networking event, use a completely different pitch. The length of your networking pitch can vary, depending on the situation or audience. If your time is limited, it might be 30 seconds. If you have a lot conversation time, it may be 90 seconds or longer. The “commercial” communicates who you are, what you’re looking for, and more importantly, how you can be beneficial to a person or their company. It should entice a person to learn more about you, and how you can help them. In other words, having a deep understanding of your skills, qualifications and other strengths, and knowing how you will be an asset to someone can help sell your brand.

Your networking pitch consists of two major parts:

1) A very short way to tell people about what you do by talking FIRST about the impact that you make. E.g., “I optimize career and income trajectories for corporate professionals and independent contractors by teaching them how to harness the power of personal branding and social media.”

2) Anecdotes that support four to six primary pillars of your brand. Look for cues in the conversation to recall these anecdotes.

These anecdotes sell your networking pitch and are a great opportunity to illustrate how your skills could help a person and/or their employer. Recall past achievements and bad situations you helped rectify. It could be the time company e-mails stopped working and you diligently stayed on top of the problem until it was solved. Or, you could mention the time you helped your employer save time and money by completing your last project early and on budget. When someone knows their employer has a problem that needs to be solved, you want to be the solution they think of first.

This is also a good time to illustrate your passion for the job. If you love waking up every morning to crunch numbers, and type out lines of code, convey this during your discussion. Show your passion for the industry by keeping abreast of news, and by mentioning some of the industry groups you’ve joined. If you have projects of passion you do outside of work, mention them. I have a friend who loves coding. During the day he works as a software engineer at a large cable company. In his free time, he loves to create apps that are useful to others. His latest app is a secure password generator that anyone can use for free. His love of software development is apparent to everyone who knows him. Likewise, your passion and excitement can be positively inspiring and contagious to others.

 

3. Ask Questions:

Learn even more about someone by asking them questions during your conversation. Job-related questions can consist of what they love about their job, or some of their favorite moments at work. You can even steer the conversation away from work-related questions. Ask them about the city they’re currently living in, a favorite sports team, or even a favorite musician. Those common connections will help break the ice and build a rapport. A good rule-of-thumb to remember is people love to talk about themselves.

 

4. Listen:

When you have a conversation it is important to not only ask questions, but to listen to what a person has to say. That person should have your undivided attention for the duration of a conversation. If you’re meeting in person, and your phone is buzzing, ignore it—except for an emergency. By listening, you may find out more about a person’s employer, their own employment situation and you can think of ways to be of assistance. You never know who has the power to give your career transition the extra push it may need.

In addition to listening, you can offer to help. They may need a referral from you, or another important favor. By helping others you can establish yourself as someone dependable and trustworthy. But people don’t always ask for help when they need it. It takes a little more work to find out how you can be of service, which brings us to our next step.

 

 5. Identify Needs:

Every person with whom you are in contact is working on SOMETHING, be it personal or professional, for which they could use some assistance. Use the conversation as a way to identify what this is, even if you are not sure yet how you can help. If a person doesn’t ask, you need to be an investigator and coach your contact to tell you where they need assistance. Think of it as giving people a way to help YOU help THEM. Your contact could need a referral, an introduction to someone in your network, or advice to help finish a project. Again, you may never know what they need unless you take the time to ask. Examples of what you can ask include, “What are you working on lately?” What are your company’s goals for 2015?” What do you think you’ll do after this position?” and even “Is there something you wish would be done already?”

 

6. Express Needs:

Identifying a person’s needs can evolve into expressing your own needs. Just as YOU need to know about someone’s needs before they can help you, THEY have to be encouraged to know your needs before they can help YOU. Make it a point to ASK the other person:

  1. A) If they know anyone in X company, especially (but not exclusively) in X department, and/or:
  2. B) If they have ever heard anyone complain about [insert problem you have resolved for your previous company or companies].

This is technically TRAINING your contacts to produce leads for you. This works much better than asking people if they know anyone hiring an [insert title]. People need guidance on how to coach people on what they need to succeed.  This step is one of the most valuable actions on this list. If you can only try ONE thing from this list, it is this. (Though, we expect that you are fully capable of doing all the suggestions at some point).

 

7. Follow-Up:

Shaking hands, listening, and telling people all about yourself won’t matter if you don’t follow up with them after a conversation. A follow-up is the perfect way to cement your name in the minds of the people with whom you connected. Keep track of who you talked to and e-mail them directly after your conversation with a “Thank you” note. A simple and quick e-mail that recaps the conversation and reminds them of the next meeting will suffice. If you want to leave a lasting impression, send them a handwritten “Thank you” note. A handwritten note can be strategic because it can sit on a person’s desk and is a visible reminder of a conversation. After that, give each of the attendees a call and invite them out for coffee. If you haven’t already connected with them on LinkedIn, do so. Do something proactively within a week to try to be of service or meet their needs. If there wasn’t a specific action item, follow up within two weeks. Schedule another follow up every month if you are in active job search mode, or every 3-6 months when you are not.

 

Here’s my challenge to you: Use this guide for three conversations next week and share with us in the comments section, on Twitter or Facebook what is generated as a result.

 

A focused agenda for any conversation with a contact in your industry, and a powerful introduction can take your job search to new heights. An inspiring introduction can lead to further conversations, friendships, referrals and job offers. You will have the opportunity to help others, forge strong connections, and unveil your brilliance. Recall my anecdote with Jack earlier. One conversation lead to multiple job offers. Imagine how one conversation can have a huge impact on your job search, confidence and momentum. One conversation can lead to a meeting, then two meetings, and then lead to five more meetings.  Suddenly, you’re in a bidding war and you’re eliciting job offers from multiple employers. Some of these offers, if not most, are unexpected. This confidence enables you to pick the opportunity that is best for you and ask for a salary more in alignment with your desired lifestyle.

Advance Your Career by Making Demands to Your Boss

Photo courtesy of sean dreilinger of flickr creative commons - Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)(http://bit.ly/requestforhappiness).

Photo courtesy of sean dreilinger of flickr creative commons – Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)(http://bit.ly/requestforhappiness).

A number of years ago I had a co-worker who was unsatisfied with her position at our company. We worked in close proximity, and she had a habit of complaining to me about other employees. She lamented bitterly about workers who were allowed to leave early on light workflow days. They essentially only worked a few days a week and they were always guaranteed their same workstation. Meanwhile, she showed up to work nearly every day, but had to wander the work floor unsure of what her task would be for that day. In her eyes, the managers had their favorites, while everyone else had to suffer. Finally, I asked her, “Why not tell the boss how unhappy you are, and request a more permanent spot?” She stood silent for a moment, and then muttered an excuse about how her opinion wouldn’t matter.

In my past job, I noted that those who were bold enough to make demands from the boss often moved up in the company. To clarify, making demands doesn’t mean storming into your boss’s office and pounding your fist on the desk. It means making requests that will better your life and the company. Those who stayed silent often languished until their dissatisfaction either lead them to quit, or to remain unhappy and stagnant. Those who are really dissatisfied with their jobs can earn a reputation for being a toxic influence, which may lead to getting fired. This means not getting a good recommendation, which prevents you from landing anywhere new.

The thought of talking to the boss and making demands can be enough to paralyze some of us. A sense of dread and foreboding wraps itself around you and threatens to suffocate. Nervous thoughts and feelings of self-doubt swirl around in your mind. Silence rarely dispels dissatisfaction. You push back against the anxiety and summon your courage. You want to advance your career. Well, commanding the attention of your boss is the key to getting ahead. You no longer want to be the employee that goes unnoticed by your higher-ups. You have ambitions that need to be fulfilled, and you’re eager to take your career to the next level.

It may be tempting to keep your head down, work hard, avoid making waves, and hope you get noticed in the future. These actions constitute a good work ethic, but they may not capture the attention of your boss. That is, you may be a great worker, but not making noticeable waves only contributes to the status quo of your professional life. I always say, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it, who cares?” In other words, the impact is isolated. Furthermore, if you want to take your career to the next level and secure financial freedom, your boss and the relationships of your workplace has a role to play. In terms of promoting yourself, integrating and building relationships with other departments can also raise your visibility level. The requests you can make of your boss can run the gamut. Your requests can range from the relatively minor, like asking for a more comfortable chair, to the life-changing events, such as a promotion or a higher salary.

Don’t leave your compensation on the table

When there’s a discussion of compensation, salary is the first thing to come to mind. Compensation is important in the work place, because our time and effort have value. In the hiring process, salary negotiations may make or break a job offer. While you’re employed at a company, your pay can also make or break your position. Your salary may not increase as quickly as you like, so at some point you’ll have to ask your boss for a raise. Consider it in personal terms: not asking for a raise is simply leaving money on the table, especially if you’ve been at your current position for a number of years. There are long term losses to consider. Once you leave money on the table, you are decreasing your salary for years to come. This can add up to millions of dollars that are earned, but are uncollected. You CAN make up for lost time by mastering the negotiation process, but the challenge and skills needed increase with every year you are paid less than you are worth. You may ask yourself, “What should my salary be?” Plug your numbers into the Unlimited Abundance income calculator to discover the answer.

Personal time is critical to your well-being

Time off is critical to your personal and professional well-being. You can make all of the money in the world and your job may give you immense pleasure, but what good is it to you if you never relax or see your family? If you work constantly without being able to take a vacation, or critical time off when you need it, it won’t be long before the burnout sets in. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2012 revealed that long working hours can result in a combination of stress, raised blood pressure, and other serious health problems. In some cases, working more than an average of 11 hours per day raised the risk of heart disease by 67%. In short, overworking can be detrimental to your hearth. The job you once loved slowly begins to turn sour. Instead of joy, the thought of work only brings you misery and dread. Additionally, you may forget how to derive joy from personal things— even when you are doing personal things, you can feel guilty about not working. That is a huge warning sign that priorities need to shift, or else time off will add to your stress. Personal time is vital to maintaining a healthy life.

Flexible Time

You may consider requesting the ability to telecommute or even flex-time from your boss. If you’re in the middle of unexpected life changes, such as a new child, a sickly family member, or the sudden need to move, working away from the office can be a huge benefit. Your boss won’t know you may need a more flexible schedule, unless you actually take the time to ask them. Some corporate policies are perceived to be inflexible, but many companies are seeing that competition for talent is increasing and are offering flex-time. Remote reporting is becoming more and more necessary to be a competitive employer, especially for hiring millennials. In my article, “Enticing Exclusive Millennials,” I wrote about effective ways for employers to attract new and recent college grads.

Additional on the job learning

Continuing your professional development is essential to your long term career. You can exponentially increase your value and promotability, thereby increasing your income. A good place to start is to know more about your industry and how to improve your performance. The fastest way to improve is to request feedback and constructive criticism from your boss, if he or she doesn’t already give it to you. Take that constructive criticism and focus on building your strengths and finding new ways to apply them, versus focusing on filling in your gaps. Marcus Buckingham, a business consultant and best-selling author, has written numerous articles highlighting the important of promoting your strengths instead of simply improving your weaknesses.

Education doesn’t end with your university degree; it’s only the start of your journey. You can consider attending industry conferences, tuition or certification reimbursement, or even bringing in training on-site for all employees to further your education. Your job is your passion, as well as a source of income, and it is a continual process to strive to become an expert.

You can also ask your boss what industry related books he or she is reading, and ask for sources of industry related news. Not only will this demonstrate your personal initiative, you will also have the opportunity to become more knowledgeable in your field. Having a goal to climb the advancement ladder is great, but not knowing what’s at the top of the ladder makes grabbing that first rung more difficult. If a boss doesn’t “get it,” you can also be the one to point out that if your boss can train you to replace him or her, they can move up. This only works in cultures where everyone isn’t always worried about their job security. If you’re in that situation, contact us and get unstuck!

Getting to know the boss

There are times when you need to get personal, and ask the boss what type of manager he or she is. Sure, you can take the “wait and see” approach and learn what type of person you’ll be working for. Or, you can take the intitive and ask. Some managers are, well, micromanagers. They have to oversee and have a hand in every aspect of the job. All decisions must go through them, and this approach can lead to learning valuable expertise on the job. Other managers prefer a hands-off approach. You’ll get the information you need to do your job correctly, and little else beyond that. Some managers are a mixture of the two approaches. The more you know about your boss, the easier it is to adjust your work style in order to avoid personal clashes. Better yet, when you know what style enables you to thrive and even what management style you would employ, you will want to qualify your employer before you accept a position. That way, you set yourself up for success from the get-go during the interview process.

You can ask your boss about their personal aspirations. What does the job mean to them? Where do they see themselves in five years? What does he or she think of the company? These questions may be difficult to ask at first, but knowing more about your boss can give you a nice snapshot into the company, especially if you’re new. Or, getting to know more about your boss could ease friction and tension at work (if it exists). Moreover, if you have a lot in common with you boss it could make promotions or job transitions easier. After all, personal relationships are vital to advancing your professional life.

Raising influence at work

Influence is another important aspect of your career. You can ask your boss for ways to become a team player for the benefit of your company. If there are critical projects, find a way to participate in them. Take your achievements and highlight them for higher-ups to see. If there’s a critical need that’s not being fulfilled, ask your boss how you can fill this gap. If there’s an issue or a need of expertise, you want to be the “go to” guy or gal at the company. Many of my clients have realized tremendous professional success by making themselves indispensable across the organization. This can come with some conflict, but the better you become at navigating and/or defusing that conflict, the more influence and responsibility you can anticipate.

If you’re ready to advance to the next level ask your boss for a promotion. If you’ve been turned down for a promotion, ask what you can do to succeed. If there’s a gap in your skills, discover how to close the gap. The problem could be as simple as needing more education in one area. Going into management is not always the most appropriate way to move up—not everyone is a natural manager and some are better off building their skills as a senior individual contributor. In this performance based economy, the length of time at a company is no longer the sole factor in terms of getting promoted. A promotion is something that has to be actively sought out. Again, if a manager doesn’t know you’re interested in moving up, he or she may not even consider you for a promotion.

Don’t forget the other perks!

There are little perks you can request from your boss to make your life easier to manage, especially when pure salary, vacation time or educational resources can’t be negotiated. A few examples include, having your dry cleaning reimbursed if you have a business formal dress code, reimbursement for a long commute, or having to pay a city wage tax. You can also consider healthcare flex spending accounts, college tuition savings accounts, and even childcare stipends. Sometimes these perks fall under different tax deduction categories, so it is more than worth it for an employer to make them a perk that they cover, versus giving you that straight compensation to pay for these things yourself. The ability to not use vacation time or lunch hours for doctor’s appointments is something else to consider. The big question to ask is, “What am I paying for out of pocket that my company can pay for where there is some kind of benefit for them, too?”

Your professional brand is your personal brand, and your brand is directly correlated to your market value and worth. What kind of value do you bring to your company, and your boss? If you had a great product, it would be insane not to advertise it, and to leave value compensation and perks on the table. In the same way, raising your personal status can pave the way for career advancement.  As I said earlier, silence rarely solves problems. If you’re feeling ambitious at work, or ready for a change, you have to voice your opinions to your boss. Sometimes getting to the next level in your professional life is as simple making a few requests.

The Who – You Better You Bet (Album Version Video)

The Who – You Better You Bet Full Length Version video. I love the second verse in the long version that I thought I would edit a video for it! Which has helped me to deal with my heartbreak! *sniffs* Well at least a little…..

Become an Effective Job Hunter: Work Smarter, Not Harder!

Photo courtesy of kate hiscock (http://bit.ly/1BiDvrt). Job search

Photo courtesy of kate hiscock (http://bit.ly/1BiDvrt).
Job search

Keyword searching for job opportunities is an important part of your job search that should not be overlooked. Looking for the next employment opportunity can be a time consuming task. However, you should only spend 10% of your time searching for work on a job board using keywords for the position you’re interested in. Naturally, the next question to ask is: what are you doing with the other 90% of your time? Evaluate the time you spend job hunting. Are you spending too much precious time on job boards? Or are you blindly sending your résumé to everyone who’s hiring out there in the hopes of getting an interview? A smart allocation of the remaining 90% of your job search time can help you land your next job.

Nurture Your Networks

Human connections are one of the most important tools in your job search arsenal. Think about it. If no one knows you’re looking for a job, then they can’t help you. Don’t hesitate to ask your family, friends, alumni, and your professional connections about job leads. If you’re unsure about how to go about nurturing you network, try watching my vlog, “How Does Your Garden, uh, Network Grow?” Your personal and professional networks may have insight to possible job openings before the positions are advertised. Gathering leads from family and friends isn’t always easy. In another one of my vlogs, “Get Interviews in Your Network, ” I walk you through how to get powerful introductions that lead to interviews to jobs no else knows about. Target (but don’t harass), employees and hiring managers at the companies you would like to work for. A cup of coffee and a personal touch can go a long way in your job search. StarTribune writer Kevin Donlin has excellent advice in his article, “How to target hiring managers and crack the job market.”

Work LinkedIn for all it’s worth

LinkedIn is an essential job search tool. It can take professional networking to the next level. You can make yourself an appealing job candidate by using the right keywords in your LinkedIn profile. I wrote about the importance of changing your default headline, and the importance of differentiating your profile from your résumé. Another critical aspect of LinkedIn is building connections. Don’t think of connections in the same way you would think of friends on Facebook. Building connections within your industry is important when looking for job opportunities. You’ll need more than 200 connections from people you know well in to get your search rolling. Additionally, you can research companies through their LinkedIn pages in order to receive job postings and company news. You’ll also want to join and contribute to groups within your industry that align with your skills and job objectives. This is a big part of effectively leveraging the community on LinkedIn. Remember earlier when I mentioned connecting with alumni? LinkedIn makes it easy to connect with school and corporate alumni, and it is an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up. A few minutes a day using LinkedIn to the fullest can take your job search to new heights.

Our sister company, JoMo Rising launched a program last week called Accelerfate. The program can provide you daily job search to-dos. The program is full right now, but you go to the website and sign up if you want to be part of the next enrollment.

Work your personal brand

LinkedIn is a great way to build your personal brand, but you’ll want to cover all of your bases. If you use other social networking services such as Facebook or Twitter, make sure to take advantage of them. Carefully craft your online presence in a way that will capture the attention of employers. If you’re an IT professional write about your industry as often as possible. Stay on top of the latest industry news, and follow those within your profession. You can also put a personal and professional spin on the news from others in your industry for your followers. You never know if a post, or tweet for a job will go out. At the very least, a professionally cultivated social media presence help you standout from other job candidates who use these platforms in a more personal manner.

You can also take it a step further when it comes to your personal branding. If you have a blog, make sure to write about your profession. You’ll be able to brand yourself as an industry leader and a go-to person while you grow your audience. In short, you’ll be able to take an active role in your industry, instead of being a passive employee. Illustrate how you solve problems, and how you’re a valuable asset to your company. If you have amusing stories, heartwarming stories, or even stories that are inspiring, make to share them with your audience. Story-telling is the pillar of marketing these days.

A good story helps your audience relate to you and keeps them coming back to you. It can be difficult to come up with stories on the fly. I’ve found it easier to remember stories by keeping a digital library. Record the stories that you remember or are inspired by on your phone. It will be a huge benefit when you need to recall them for future content and conversations. A good rule of thumb is, if it’s worth remembering, it’s worth recording.

Having an active online presence is a great way to set you apart from the competition, and can be a highly productive way to spend some of your job search time. If a potential employer does Google you, they’ll see a motivated and fully engaged professional. Versus someone else who may have simply set a few social media accounts and lets them go dormant.

[Click to tweet this article: http://ctt.ec/D6u9o]

Research the company you want to work for

I mentioned targeting a hiring manager as one part of your job search. You can take that strategy a step further by researching an entire company. Look up the companies you’re interested in on Google, and check out their LinkedIn pages. Learn everything you can about them and imagine how you’d fit into their company. In my article “You Can’t Afford Not to Investigate Your Next Employer!” I discuss ways to thoroughly research an employer. Try digging deep and pitching yourself to an employer with an extremely personalized cover letter. Remember, you want all of the fruits of your research to show up within your letter. In my vlog, “Our Cover Letter Secret Sauce” I discuss how to write a customized cover letter. Even if the company isn’t hiring at the moment, they may consider you in the future.

Hire a professional to polish your résumé

If you’re having a trouble with your résumé, you may want to consider hiring a CPRW, or a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, like me. A professionally written résumé that specifically targets an employer can go a long way in standing out from the crowd. All of the advice I’ve listed in this article is crucial, but having a great résumé is an importance center-piece to productive job search.

Keyword searching on job boards should comprise a small fraction of your job search time. An effective job search strategy will make use of personal and professional networking, social media, and personal branding. A large portion of job boards are inundated with job seekers. In order to stand out from the crowd you have to be willing to work smarter. Just imagine the quality of leads you’ll generate by asking your networks about open positions, or using the vast resources available to you on LinkedIn. Also imagine how much further you’ll go by targeting the company you want to work for, and pitching them a personalized cover letter. Not only will branching out in your job search methods produce better results, but you won’t be at the mercy of a hiring manager who is overwhelmed with the same applications, and résumés coming from job boards.

It’s been a hard days night – The Beatles

Lyrics: A Hard Day’s Night Lyrics Artist(Band):The Beatles Review The Song (23) Print the Lyrics Send “A Hard Day’s Night” Ringtones to Cell It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log But