Your Digital “Footprint”

chalk1Networking is a primary means of finding and landing  that next position. Social Media is an internet phenomenon that has become a very important tool for job seekers to use in their networking efforts. It is an extraordinary method for self-marketing. In fact, I like to call it your “GPS for Efficient Networking Activity.”

CAUTION:  USE TECHNOLOGY to save time and access information, but NEVER allow technology to replace person-to-person networking and relationship building.

NETWORKING is a (very personal) contact sport!


NEXT Session is Thursday, October 10thA LinkedIn Overview with guest presenter, our own Jim Parker


bob-maher-4587-editThe “top three” social media sites for job search are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  There are many others.

LINKEDIN

LinkedIn is the most used social media site for business and professionals. Thus, it is an excellent site for job-search purposes. Recruiters and the more sophisticated companies use LinkedIn to source potential candidates for their open positions.

LinkedIn is like a multi-faceted “diamond” for networkers.  In fact, it might be helpful to see the multiple functionalities of LinkedIn in three “tasks.”  Your TASK#1 Is to have an account and create a high impact Profile that is in sync with your resume.

Already you need to make an important decision.

Will you be using LinkedIn to PUSH your message outward, creating visibility for you availability?… or using LinkedIn to PULL people to your KEYWORDS?

… or, my favorite, using both approaches together…  Here’s an example of what I mean… A Headline and SUMMARY that allows you the best of PUSH and PULL marketing tactics…

YOUR HEADLINE…

BUSINESS ANALYST: Operations Accounting | Database Administration | Financial Analysis | (more if space allows)

 YOUR SUMMARY…

 (Start by copying and pasting from your resume… then personalize by putting the nouns back in and adding KEYWORD accomplishments…)

I am a resourceful and productive Business Management professional with over twenty years of diverse and progressively responsible experience in a fast paced dynamic environment.  My proven strengths lie within the areas of accounting and administrative assistance. I am used to the dynamic demand of operations accounting, customer service, database management, data collection and analysis, and prioritizing workload.   I’ve been reviewed consistently for having a pro-active attitude, focusing on the customers and their needs.

Managers seem to value me as a detail-oriented, critical thinker who thrives in a team environment with diversified stakeholders and clientele, focused on personal development and process improvement. Proficient within proprietary and other systems, as well as Microsoft Excel.

OPERATIONS ACCOUNTING: I was promoted to continue previous retail billing duties with the addition of commercial billing duties for commercial and retail platform.  I coordinate with customer service and manufacturing to obtain information related to customer’s account and orders.

DATABASE ADMINISTRATION: I’ve prepared detailed invoices per customer contract for commercial accounts, including credit allowances to customer as required by account contract.  I have also assisted with individual account budgets, providing data input of pricing, cost, VAR information.

FINANCIAL ANALYSIS:  I prepare detailed invoices, including credit allowances to customer as required by account contract.  This requires knowledge of customer contracts, pricing list, invoice discounts and rebates when applicable.

Available for immediate contact at phone# and email address

TASK#2 is to learn the various functionalities that allow you to find new connection, grow and focus your network, and find useful information.

  1. Join LinkedIn groups and post comments
  2. Post relevant content in groups
  3. Post questions
  4. Promote events in which you are involved

 TASK#3 is to exploit the JOBS and job seeking functionalities.

Go Into EVERY Interview With a Notion of FIT… A GOOD FIT!

JigSaw-partnershipEvery step in the job search process is aimed at obtaining interviews.  It is at that point, a potential hiring manager decides if you are right for the job, and, just as important, it is your time to evaluate whether the job is right for you. Most interviews follow a predictable format, with steps that both the interviewer and applicant follow to decide if both will benefit from working together.


THIS Week’s Session, Thursday, August 22… Closing The Deal I: Interview Strategies, including MoneySpeak… and a look at PRE-Offer negotiation.


chalk1The best interviews are ones in which both participants are equal and can have a mutually beneficial, interactive conversation regarding the opportunity at hand.

Think of an interview as the natural extension, the successful result of your effective networking.  Many networking conversations actually become screening interviews, where influential contacts are assessing your qualifications, skill sets and experience relative to an opportunity at hand.  “Perfect practice” of the basics builds the confidence necessary to perform well in formal job interviews.

Let’s break down the basics into four areas…

  1. pre-contact preparation/ research,
  2. greeting and rapport,
  3. questions/answers, and …
  4. meeting closure.

All four stages are equally important and deserve your consideration and preparation.

The Three Phases of Every Interview

 There are three things that must be discussed in every interview:  First, the Candidate, a discussion usually conducted in the past tense to assess experience, knowledge, and skills… do they meet the potential employer’s REQUIREMENTS?

Second, the job itself.  Beyond meeting requirements, each Candidate must be judged for their potential to meet EXPECTATIONS.  As important, will the Candidate “fit in” on the team and Company culture?  This discussion occurs in the future tense… very obvious transition in a “good” interview.

Last, but certainly not least, is the quality of FIT.  While this is the most subjective and dysfunctional part of the process, it is where both sides must come together for a desired outcome.  When both sides like and find the other to be attractive, a “right” employment opportunity can result.  This is also where the QandA can become more defensive in nature.

 Research the company/position

Second level research will help you to identify attractive companies.  But, this is third level (in-depth) research.  Learn as much as possible about the company, the position and the individual who will be conducting the interview.  Your research goals ought to include developing information about the company’s products, people, organizational structure, successes (and failures), profits (and losses), capital spending, strategic plans, philosophy and labor climate.

Showing your knowledge of some of this information can give you added credibility over other candidates interviewing for the job.

 Use the following research strategies:

  • Research the company web site, looking for information relative to your function and level… a company’s financial and annual reports can provide clues to their stability and market share. Don’t forget directories, trade journals, the “business press,” and databases of articles and other news.
  • Ask a friendly recruiter, business acquaintance or stockbroker what they know about the company… and by extension, call people with whom you have networked (Customers and Vendors, remember them?) and ask what they know about the company and/or individual conducting the interview.
  • Check with the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.
  • Call the company directly; request a sales brochure, annual report or other company information. Companies have to market themselves, too, you know!

Once your basic research is complete, you must next identify how your abilities, experience and expertise can meet the needs of the interviewer, the company and the job.  This point cannot be over-emphasized.  It is the company’s needs that you must fill, not your own.  Surprisingly, however, by meeting the company’s needs, your needs also will be met.

Your VALUE PROPOSITION

Prepare for your interviews (and networking meetings) by fully understanding the value you bring to a potential employer and hiring company.    Incorporate portions of this information into your interview responses, or use some of the material in your interview closing remarks.  Tell them why you are good at what you do!

Taking The ‘PULSE’ Of Your Job Search

AjustDaSailsA lot of individuals with a rebellious streak resist structure, snub the idea of a schedule, and then find that their lives and creative output aren’t nearly as harmonious as they hoped. As job seekers, they may find it quite difficult to get in to a productive and efficient routine, the implementation of their Personal Marketing Plan.

If you fall at this end of the spectrum and find it hard to accept — and even harder to follow — a standard routine, maybe it’s time to stop thinking about managing your time and effort as developing a set of strict rules to follow. In fact, implementing your PMP wisely is to commit to averaging your activity counts and time management ‘numbers’ over a longer stretch of time.


NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, August 8th… Implementing Your PMP,  Exploring THE Careerpilot’s ‘wave theory.’


bob-maher-4587-editStart thinking about increasing productivity as a process of finding and cultivating your unique creative rhythm — your cadence, your implementation beat… your job search “PULSE.” Create a personal discipline for yourself, a way of being, where there’s a realistic goal (your next right employment opportunity) and recognize the need to maintain a consistency of fruitful activity to propel our 12-step process of career transition forward… all while allowing room for improvisation and job search/ LIFE balance!

If this sort of approach sounds appealing to you, here are some ideas based on my own anecdotal experiences with thousands of unemployed people over my 39 years of experience in consulting with job seekers around the U.S.of A.

Monthly Cadence

Job Seekers can typically get more done in a month when they plan for less. Most people have a natural rhythm where they can accomplish about one major professional project or one personal milestone in a month. As an example, think about developing your resume and related personal marketing materials.

1. Resume
2. “Tell me about yourself” or your ‘elevator pitch’ or even your qualification statement
3. Your digital footprint: Branding yourself in your LinkedIn Profile

If you tell yourself that you’ll do three items of this stature in a month, you’ll probably make little progress on any of them. If you commit to one specifically for the month, there’s a high probability that you’ll accomplish it or get close to finishing within the four weeks. Honor that monthly project cadence, and you’ll feel much more satisfied.

What’s more, it’s also essential that you honor your personal and emotional energy cadence over the course of the month. Of course, there are exceptions, but as a general rule, one or two distractions a month are the max that most individuals can take without getting thrown significantly off rhythm.

Also, consider pacing yourself in regard to events you host or visitors that you have in your home. All of these events add a nice sense of variety to life, but can make you lose the beat if the exceptions become the norm.

Weekly Cadence

I would never attempt to define a “normal” week of job search…there are simply too many variables! But, I do encourage those Candidates that I serve to commit to AVERAGING the numbers they select in the Personal Marketing Plan.  You can think about this in the same way you would a design template. It’s a format that you can then build and modify as necessary for any given project — in this case, your job search week.

1. Include ramp-up time on Monday morning, so that the first few hours of the week are blocked out for weekly planning and processing after the weekend.
2. Schedule focused practice or research time on Wednesday afternoons.
3. Get out of the house on Tuesdays and Thursdays… go to a coffee shop and get quality, uninterrupted work done. This turns moving a major initiative forward into something that feels like a nice mid-week mini-break from the normal day-to-day.
4. Wind down on Friday afternoons. I block out about three hours to wrap up anything that took longer than I anticipated or to work on non-urgent administrative tasks that are nice to get done before closing up for the weekend.
5. At least one weekday evening, accomplish personal to-do items and recharge. I’m very involved in my community and lifestyle, but even extroverts need a day off.

NORMAL? … Don’t hold your breath, but you can, of course, adapt, adjust, and amend all of this as necessary. But this rhythm is what I suggest, and I find it leads to a productive week with closure before the weekend… and plenty of time for those “normal” distractions!

Daily Cadence

There is no one right formula for having a productive day of job search activities. The trick is to be honest with yourself about what works best for you to get the most of your 24 hours.  Personally, I spend the first hour to hour and a half planning, answering e-mail, and completing small to-do items, and then I jump into more in-depth work and client calls by 8:30.

With some of my Candidates, the best daily rhythm is to check e-mail very quickly in the morning and then focus on in-depth work until lunch. After lunch they have meetings or respond to emergencies that have come up. No matter which you prefer, you want to have clarity on when you do your best focused work, when you prefer to have meetings, and when you’ll make space for the processing and planning that keeps everything moving in the right direction.

Back-to-Center Cadence

Finally, it’s important to know what pattern can help you to get back on track when there are major variations to your Personal Marketing Plan. Being honest with yourself and giving yourself permission to spend time reorganizing when you need it keeps you from feeling perpetually behind and guilty.

For example, you will experience the least pressure when you block out a few days before and after any significant time away from your job search so that no one can schedule meetings with you on those days. That gives you the flexibility you need for wrapping up work and getting your head back in the game after being away…maintaining your visibility in the job market.

Also, consider blocking out at least a half day after a conference or major networking event to tie up loose ends, follow up, and sort through your notes. This will give you the ability to extract the value from what just happened. The more disruptive the event, the more time you’ll want to allot to resettle in and get back on a rhythm.

Rhythm on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis can create the order, productivity, efficiency, and flexibility you need for the implementation of your Personal Marketing Plan to flow productively and efficiently… It’s time to “take your pulse.”

What’ll IT Be… Push or Pull?

Your Career CompassSocial media is a great place to learn about and create a digital conversation with your market.  However, potential employers do not want to be talked-to, or worse yet sold-to on these platforms. Your followers want to know they have a place to come learn, to ask questions about things THEY care about, and to know they are being heard.

Here are some things we’ve learned from listening to those we’ve served since the advent of LinkedIn, the preferred place for professional level job seekers to leave their “digital footprint.”


THIS Week’s Session, Thursday, July 25th… A LinkedIn PRIMER: Exploring Tasks #2 & 3, developing your network and finding JOBS via LinkedIn


Pilot OnboardIn “PUSH Marketing,” you need to take a low-key approach and offer 90% of insights and education to your market, with only 10% of things that would be seen as a sales pitch. Of course, ALL your social media content is “selling” in one way or another, but your market will be turned off if it comes across as a hard sell.

On the other side, don’t just post silly photos or motivation quotes. Position yourself as a subject matter expert and a source of real help to your followers, by sharing valuable information your market cares about (using UPDATES to post white papers…or sprinkle them in to your Profile).

PULL Marketing,” on the other hand, requires a concerted effort to optimize your keyword concentration (SEO) to attain high page ranking in keyword searches.  This is where most beginners start as they learn and gain confidence with the various functionalities offered by LinkedIn

The challenge is that either approach, when taken to an extreme, could be viewed as manipulative or ‘gaming the system’ (extreme pull)… or just too much narrative fluff (extreme push).  WE will be taking a down the middle-of-the-road approach which will give both beginning and intermediate users of LinkedIn the ‘best of both worlds’ in LinkedIn utility.

In-Sync, NOT Duplicate Personal Marketing Collaterals

While one’s resume is all about wise use of two pages worth of ‘vertical space,’ your LinkedIn Profile has no such limitation, but contains the very same elements of content: A clear positioning statement, a concise qualification summary, evidence of your supportive experience, and your education/ training.

Embracing Effective Tactics In The OTHER Job Market

roadsign-banner2The traditional job seeker spends most of their time on job boards…and trying to figure out the “right” KEYWORDS.  It starts by taking the path of least resistance… applying for those jobs that you feel ideally suited for.  After all, this approach  comes with a low risk of direct rejection.  In fact, it also comes with a low response ratio… The Internet’s ‘black hole.’   Instead of being told “no,” you’re told nothing.

Or you receive the automated “thanks but no thanks” emails that come seconds after you submit your application… not once touched by a human hand!


NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, June 27th… A LinkedIn Primer: an overview of your push/pull choice and your three tasks within fully utilizing this GPS to networking.


Ready+aim+fireThat’s why it’s important to look for your next employment opportunity outside job boards… Don’t limit yourself to posted jobs, or even un-posted jobs in the ‘hidden job market.’ Learn to embrace the OTHER job market, the one where employers are seeking your ‘top talent.’.

Many real opportunities exist outside job boards … in abundance. So if you’re willing to do the work that almost no one else wants to do to unearth your ‘next right employment opportunity,’ here are the TOP TEN tactics to create connections within the OTHER job market:

  1. USE THE JOB BOARDS, but before you apply for a specific job…network your way to the opportunity presented you!

Often, this approach will identify individuals who request your resume, either for forwarding, or, best yet, for their endorsement.  A requested resume is read more frequently…your reward for embracing the OTHER job market.

  1. Take the word ‘JOB’ out of your vocabulary until scheduling actual interviews.

An appropriate replacement would be to consider the acronym ‘A.I.R.’  When networking your way to the interview process, seek Advice, Information and referral activity to interact with connections regarding the ‘next right opportunity’ you desire.

  1. Never prematurely create the chance for rejection that you want to avoid

It’s absolutely OK to be perceived as a qualified, motivated and available professional!  JOB seekers  command a yes-no-maybe choice.

  1. Reach out to the majority of your LinkedIn contacts.

Just remember to keep it professional yet personal. See if you can relate to something they’ve written or the job they do to increase your chances of building a solid relationship. You want to be professional in how you respond, but personal so it doesn’t feel so much of an inconvenience or sales pitch to them.

  1. Check with your college alumni network.

Everyone knows someone.  Often, this approach can lead to connections that bring forth new opportunities that lead to your next job. You already have something in common (your alma mater), so it can be easier to connect.

  1. Search for corporate alumni where you used to work and connect with those new individuals.

Again, since you have something in common (previous place of employment), this can work to your benefit. Make this a regular task of your job searching and you’ll be amazed at the new connections you can achieve.

  1. Explore business news stories.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If a company launches a new business, there’s often hiring happening to support it. If a company downsizes, believe it or not, that creates opportunities. Position yourself as a solution and reach out.

  1. Research industry conferences and conventions.

Whether you attend or not, conferences, trade shows, and conventions are nuggets of opportunities to capitalize on. Get familiar with the major ones in your industry and do your due diligence to make connections…a nice little sideline are the hospitality suites many Companies sponsor.

  1. Look up educational and career/professional development events.

Relish in your own personal development.  People who grow and stick together help each other. Do your research to find these but also reach out to others in your industry to get ideas. Simply ask them which events they plan on attending in the near future.

  1. Find professional association members.

Members normally take care of each other. So join these groups, but do more than just joining them; get active. That’s the best way to get noticed and build solid connections.

There are many other ways to secure the next right opportunity for employment and stay off job boards, but these are the most important. And all will require you to get your resume updated and in order.

In every marketplace, there are buyers and sellers.  In the traditional job market, the one that our Department of Labor measures for us, job seekers are the sellers and their potential employers are the buyers.  The commodity is productive work and the competition is fierce.

Remember, in the OTHER Job Market, buyers and sellers hold equal responsibility for the recruitment process.  Each plays an important role in the process.  When employers have a need for someone to fulfill a specific role, often the most desired candidates are employed individuals with the credentials they seek.

Thus the employer can identify key candidates, sell their Company to new employees in the marketplace… in order to attract the best of the lot.  Once identified, they simply select the ‘top talent’ and buy their services.

On-Board YOURSELF Better Than ANY Potential Employer Can

JigSaw-partnershipWhether you are an operations manager, an internal HR professional, senior finance executive, or a key player on the IT team—ANY experienced and valued professional job seeker—ALL and EVERYONE wants to become a valued partner in the business of their next employer. Everyone wants a voice in strategic decisions and to be included in ‘the conversation.’

To truly be included, you need to be invited. And you will only be invited if you are seen as absolutely essential to the TEAM.  Remember, team player and team leader CAN BE interchangeable terms.


THIS WEEK’s Session, Thursday, June 13th Closing The Deal II: Interview TACTICS, including POST-Offer negotiation.


chalk1All too often, a job seeker finds themselves in the mode of seeking “tips and tricks” leading to greater job search success.  It’s NOT that simple.  Rather, it takes a commitment to “embracing the OTHER job market” and following the more systematic, methodical, predictable 12 Steps.  Each step interacts with the others to propel your successful search for the right next opportunity!

When you’ve followed all 12 Steps, you are in position to on-board yourself with your next employer… BETTER than they can do for themselves….

  1. ACCEPTING THE OFFER becomes a choice leading to satisfactory result
  2. LESS RAMP-UP time as you’ve already given yourself access to internal resources and contacts… your are READY to be viewed as a “rock star” in your new position
  3. You are prepared to truly partner with your employer’s future success
  4. And, best-of-show?  You are in a position to stay aware of next steps in your career for the rest of your working days of employment!

Here are some tips on becoming, and developing your position, as a valued partner…

Walk the talk.  Nothing speaks louder than results…. From the recruitment perspective, the best indicator of one’s potential for success is one’s prior experience and results gained.  A partner helps others within the organization achieve their goals. And results require actions, not just words. The better the results you get, the more likely you are to be invited on to ‘the team.’

Deep knowledge. You must have a true understanding of every aspect of the business, how all the moving parts work together, the obstacles ahead, and intimate knowledge of the competition in the marketplace. In other words, you’ve done your homework and understand your potential employer’s need.  And you must be able to articulate your understanding to anyone involved in the decision-making process in a manner that demonstrates that you truly get it.

Two of the many ways of accomplishing this image are to…

  1. Keep a file of relevant articles to share with key decision-makers, take advantage of the approaches that email and social media have to offer… create and maintain top-of-mind awareness.
  2. Further, create a set of ‘white papers’ that express, from your knowledge and experience, your perspective on relevant issues to your Profession or industry of choice.

 Listen well. Everyone loves to feel that they have been heard and understood. One attribute of leadership is being known as a good listener. And if you can reiterate and articulate what has been said, you will be valued as a partner in the decision-making process.

Remember, as a job seeker, NETWORKING is your way to share knowledge, ‘branding’ yourself as a valued resource.  It is also your best source of confirming the subjective information you seek to supplement your research of factual information about a potential employer.

Big picture thinking. Having a strategic vision requires you to see all areas of the business, internal and external.   This is a valuable trait well beyond the C-suite.  If you only have a deep understanding of one area, you are more likely to be tactical in your decisions, rather than strategic. You must be able to foresee problems from the stakeholders’ perspective in order to offer the most highly valued and comprehensive solutions.

Tying all of this together, the best way to be treated like a valued partner is to act like one. The more you demonstrate your value, the more you will become recognized as the go-to person in the organization and you will be included and have a voice in the big strategic decisions.

Wave #3: Turning OPPORTUNITIES Into INTERVIEWS

chalk1This topic represents what most people call ‘active job search, but, as you can learn, the HOW –TO is what creates your success in networking. It professes strategies and tactics that will generate more effective networking.

In your ‘first wave’ of networking you had the opportunity to reconnect with people you already know, in the ‘second wave,’ those you have cause to know… a nice by-product of your efforts is the identification of attractive opportunities, and targeted organizations!


NEXT WEEK’s Session, Thursday, May 30th… Turning Opportunities Into Interviews:  A closer look at networking your way IN to a targeted organization


Pilot OnboardYou’ll be the first to know when you’re ready for ‘wave 3’ of networking… which, simply put, is networking your way in to attractive opportunities.

You will focus your activity and time management to the business of creating INTERACTIVE COMMUNICATION with employees, customers, and vendors–the “stakeholders”– within and surrounding any targeted organization.

 THE BASICS

So what are those basics that will allow you to effectively network to identify appropriate opportunities, and then secure the requisite INTERVIEWS in order to “close the deal?”

  1. Practice your two minute drill every chance you get…. it’s the fundamental building material of your communication strategy–your verbal collaterals!
  2. Practice your exit and qualification statements… most all potential employers and networking contacts will want to know your current situation and why you are available.
  3. Practice answering both common and tough questions… including pre-offer negotiation tactics. The most asked question during career transition is, “Tell me about yourself.” Appropriate use of your two-minute drill and related verbal strategies, your “verbal collaterals,” is a key ingredient to personal salesmanship.

Let’s not forget a couple of additional ‘collaterals’ that will help you round out your ability to ‘get the word out’ and serve as evidence of your qualifications.

  1. Brag bytes… Wordcraft various collections of words, phrases and sentences to capture memorable moments or accomplishments–the best you have to offer. “…saved 80% cost-perhire…” Used in MSWord, ‘Quick Parts’ can be quite efficient when building high impact correspondence as well.
  2. Personal Portfolio… Your collection of certificates, examples of work, reference letters, etc that can bring life and interest (not to mention PROOF) to your story.

RESEARCHING TARGET Organizations

Step six in our 12-step Process, first level research, will help you to identify attractive trends and targeted companies.  But, in THIS context, I suggest digging a bit deeper in order to help secure an interview…

Learn as much as possible about the company, the potential opportunity, and the hiring authority–This is usually your next boss, but could be even higher in the chain of command.

Your research goals ought to include developing information about the company’s products, people, organizational structure, successes (and failures), profits (and losses), capital spending, strategic plans, philosophy and labor climate.

  • As part of your ‘second wave of networking,’ ask a friendly recruiter, business acquaintance or stockbroker what they know about the company… and by extension, call people with whom you have networked and ask what they know about the company
  • Check with the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.
  • Call the company directly; request a sales brochure, annual report or other company information. Companies have to market themselves, too, you know!

Telephone and Networking Skills

On a scale of passive to assertive => to aggressive, let’s take a look at how we could communicate direct to contacts in and surrounding a targeted organization…

Email…safe, but too easy to be deleted before a relationship is established. Requires follow-up.

LETTER of introduction… also safe, but read more often. Paves the way for a first call to a referral… creates dialog. Requires phone follow-up.

Phone call…direct… often a cold call… requires risk. Establishes contact, interaction and, worst case, VISIBILITY.

There’s only two reasons to be on the phone during active job search…

  1. Reconnecting with valid contacts, seeking their advice and information, sharing your communication strategy, and seeking referral activity…
  2. Securing actual interviews

Cover NOTE and resume… Rather than mindlessly applying to countless jobs, playing the numbers game; develop your networking style to motivate a person to request your resume.  When requested, resume gets read more often. Establishes relationship. Requires follow-through. Face2face office visit!