Your TOOLKIT For The OTHER Job Market

chalk1Embracing The OTHER Job Market does not require black magic, just a bit of confidence in yourself.  The best thing about this black-hole-free job search approach is that when you start to reach hiring managers directly, you’ll be in more substantive conversations right away than the typical HR screening process allows.

That’s because your hiring manager, a/k/a “The Person With the NEED to be addressed,” isn’t hung up on your certifications and years of experience with random tools.


NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, March 21st… an examination of the 3rd party world of recruitment: WHO Do You Trust?


bob-maher-4587-editWith the hiring authority, you have an opportunity to talk about what really matters, whatever NEED the job requisition was designed to alleviate, when you’re talking directly with the person who’s actually losing sleep over the budget shortfall or the customer exodus or whatever is rotten in Denmark.

Here’s your toolkit for stepping up from tradition, “Black Hole job-hunting” to take your career into your own hands, and reach out to hiring managers who are facing exactly the sort of business pain you can solve.

Having a GREAT Resume

There’s no sense creating a direct channel for your message if you’re planning to deliver a robot-speak “gag-me-with-a-spoon” -type resume to your hiring manager. In order to make your direct approach count, you’ve got to come across as human on paper.

An “Echo” Letter of Introduction

An echo letter of introduction is a snail-mail letter that goes directly from you to one hiring manager in one employer. It is personal, in the sense that you’ve learned enough to say something insightful about what the employer is doing, where they might be running into rough seas, and how your background relates to the hiring manager’s most likely business need.

Your ECHO LETTER of Introduction reduces the awkwardness of your follow-up, cold call… gives you BOTH something to talk about.  And the best part is that it doesn’t prematurely expose you to the more traditional YES-No-maybe judgement!

A Need Solving LinkedIn Profile

…One that is in sync with your resume to be requested and read.  If your hiring manager opens your letter and reads it, the first thing s/he’s likely to do is find your LinkedIn profile. (You will have listed your profile url at the top of your resume, just under your email address, so your LinkedIn profile will be easy to find.)

Fodder for your Echo Letter of Introduction

You’ll need to find the name of your hiring manager on LinkedIn, an easy thing to do unless the firm you’re approaching is IBM or another corporate behemoth. You can use LinkedIn to search on the company name and the title of the person you’d typically report to (Materials Director, e.g.) and get your hiring manager’s name quickly.

Need a HOOK?  Get one from the Company website.  Lastly, you’ll need the company’s mailing address, which will be on the company’s website, too.

Embracing The OTHER Job Market

The last thing you need to approach The OTHER Job Market effectively is a willingness to step out of the standard “I’m a Good Little Jobseeker” frame. Sometimes, this is the hardest part of the process.

Once you realize that even if the hiring manager hates your letter or if a fearful HR person, affronted by your direct approach, blacklists you from employment in that firm forever, you will still be fine. No one is going to come to your house and slash your tires because you sent a guy a letter that said “Maybe you have this kind of issue going on. A lot of people do. Maybe I’ve run into that kind of thing before. Maybe we should talk.”

But Bob, I was told not to contact the hiring manager directly!

You are an adult and a professional. Are you taking orders now from people you don’t know who also aren’t paying you?

But, Bob, what if my failure to follow the rules gets me in trouble with that company?

Would you consider for three seconds working in a place where the act of sending a fellow businessperson a letter with a stamp on it gets you cast out and exiled? If you were banished from the kingdom for that heinous infraction in business etiquette, you would have dodged a big old bullet.

NETWORKING is a contact sport!.

We know that lots of employers have to step up their game and bring a human voice to the recruiting machine. The good news is that it’s easy to do.

In the meantime, job-seekers can sidestep the dysfunctional, traditional system and have pain-and-pain-solving conversations with hiring managers any time they’re

 

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The ‘Dark Ages’ in The JOB Market

roadsign-banner2Pick your favorite cliche’ … “It’s always darkest before the storm…” or “Red in the morning, sailors take warning…” or, “When life hands you a lemon, make and enjoy some fresh lemonade!”  Career transition history shows that the ‘Dark Ages,’ the time between Thanksgiving and early January is horrible for actual job placements… but a terrific time for pro-active networking!  WHY??


THIS WEEK’s Session: Thursday, December 6th… Embracing the HO-Ho-holidaze in The OTHER Job Market: Our introductory session overviewing the 12 Step process, STARTING during the holidays!… a great place for new-comers to start!


chalk1Conventional wisdom is that company’s speed up their hiring to use up year-ending budget dollars.  Nearly forty years of ‘reality therapy’ has shown me that company’s…

  1. have a challenge in scheduling interviews through the holidays, and,
  2. due to less actual hiring, relax their ‘guard’ considerably in the screening of potential new hires, thus…
  3. are more ‘open’ to relaxed, pro-active networking (can you spell holiday spirit?)
  4. New Year optimism, and fresh budget dollars, make January through to ‘the kids coming home for summer break’ the most active hiring time period!

So, if you have finally come around to embracing the OTHER job market, or if you’re at least willing to ‘kick those tires,’ then the job market’s ‘Dark Ages’ is the time to do it!

Using JOB BOARDS Efficiently

All job databases, regardless of type, look and feel, operate on the same premise – the job seeker enters specific criteria to generate a resulting list of matching positions. It is recommended you actively search a variety of sites, both generic and niche, to determine which sites yield attractive positions for you.

To Implement this Search Strategy, some sites offer very detailed criteria, while others offer very general criteria. There are some commonalities that are fairly consistent from site to site. These commonalities, along with specific strategies are outlined below:

  • Boxes with multiple selection choices– These boxes allow the job seeker to select multiple choices at one time by holding down the control key on the keyboard as each selection is made.
  • Keyword boxes – most sites offer a field in which to type keywords. This is a powerful option to refine searching. Never fear “advanced search” option.

Some strategies for maximizing this tool are:

  • Quotation marks – placing quotation marks around specific words will generally cause the search engine to return jobs containing that exact phrase.
  • Skip Using Common Words – omit words like as, a, an, of.
  • Lower case letters – as a rule of thumb, lower case letters are more universally accepted on the Internet than upper case letters. If in doubt, use lower case letters.
  • Periods – generally periods are not found in job titles on the Internet. Use vp not v.p., or cfo not c.f.o. If you have extra room in the keywords search box, adding the title formatted with the periods can’t hurt.
  • Root titles – entering root titles will also source jobs with the same titles that have prefixes.
  • Asterisk * For Sourcing Multiple Forms of Words – using * after a root word will generally return words which contain a variation of that root word.

Now, to solve the dysfunctionality of keyword filters, NETWORK YOUR WAY to an attractive opportunity instead of simply applying for it!  Once invited in to the process, your resume will get actually read more frequently.  Learn to embrace this approach to the OTHER job market!

Job Search Agents

Job Search Agents continually look for jobs based upon specified criteria, and notify the candidate by email when matching jobs are found.

Precious time – this is what Job Search Agents save candidates. Instead of having to regularly remember to visit job boards to search for new jobs, candidates simply can visit these sites once.

The majority of sites allow candidates to set up more than one Job Search Agent. Entering a job title in the keywords criteria is one of the best ways to set up an Agent. If the titles of a specific job vary, it is best to set up a separate Agent for each title.

Taking the 5-10 minutes to set up a Job Search Agent can ensure a regular flow of potential opportunities, and free candidates up for more important activities such as networking.

Company Research

Generally, there are two types of Company Research related to a job search:

  1. Creating a list of companies to target for your search
  2. In-depth research on a specific company of interest, perhaps in preparation for an interview.

In-Depth Research on a Specific Company:

  1. Start with the corporate website
  2. Look up the company in business directories for corporate profiles on websites such as Hoovers or Vault.
  3. Search the local newspaper, business journals, or magazines for recent news.
  4. If it is a publicly traded company, search EDGAR for their SEC filings.
  5. Use a search engine like Google or Yahoo.

Industry Research

With respect to Industry news, set up electronic news alerts via email based on keywords on the topic of your choice. The majority of news alerts are free and most will send alerts to your cell or PDA as well. There are four main types:

  • Industry-based
  • Company-based
  • Product-based
  • Person-based

People Research

Recruiters and companies often perform quick internet searches on their candidates and you should also consider researching potential contacts as well as researching those on your interview team.

To research an individual:

  1. Search the company’s website especially if you’re seeking background information on an executive.
  2. Use Zoominfo to search for an individual.
  3. Use a search engine like Google or Yahoo.
  4. If you’ve created an account with an online networking community, try searching for the individual there.

Results from these searches can help you make a connection or discussion point.

Protect Yourself Online

In any job search, it is important to circulate a resume. However, job seekers need to minimize privacy issues related to resumes and personal data while still maintaining appropriate exposure to employers.

It is important to understand that employers, commercial job search sites, and resume databases vary widely in privacy practices and controls. Learn to choose a quality job search site and resume database with good privacy practices. And discriminate between valid job search-related email and other offers and unhelpful maybe even fraudulent solicitations for your resume or personal data.

Some key tips:

  • Look to see if the site is a member of the International Association of Employment Web Sites. Members are required to adhere to certain requirements.
  • Read the privacy policy paying attention to the length of time the resume will be stored.
  • Make sure the resume can be deleted.
  • Omit references on your resume to protect their contact information.
  • Avoid responding to vague offers.
  • Keep good records.
  • Pay attention to business affiliates.
  • Limit personal information and protect your Social Security number.

CREATING Opportunities In The OTHER Job Market

roadsign-banner2If you are not absolutely clear about what you want as that NEXT STEP in your career, envision an ideal position that will value you for the main characteristics and experiences you want to be hired for. Since you need to be concise and clear when developing your Personal Marketing collateral materials (resume, BIO, verbal communication, and your LinkedIn profile),  it’s important to figure out what you best offer in your next position, so you know exactly what skills and experiences to highlight.  Make FIT happen!


NEXT SESSION: Turning Opportunity into INTERVIEWS!  Thursday, January 4th at The Egg and I Restaurant in Addison


RESEARCH: Analyze Your Target Industrychalk1

Once you know what you want to do, your next step is identifying where you want to be—think industry, city, and companies. Then, research your industry and key trends affecting it now: Read relevant industry news articles, research companies, and analyze job descriptions you’re interested in.

SELF-Assessment: Find Your Fit

With your knowledge of your target industry, it’s time to figure out how you fit in (or want to). Identify, describe, and refine your key selling points with your end goal in mind. Then, craft them into 4-6 bullets, shooting for statements that are vivid and that clearly illustrate what you bring to the table over anyone else.

Ask Yourself

  • What is the intersection of your ‘value proposition’ and what your target industry, or specific Company, needs?
  • What are your most impactful areas of experience, knowledge, or skill?
  • What critical problems are you well suited to solve?

Pay Attention to the Nitty Gritty

As you begin to think about the type of career transition you want to make, what IS the next appropriate employment for you… start out by documenting what you already know to be true about your professional self.

  1. Give specific attention to what you spend the most time doing, those functional details of your work that have the greatest impact on your employer’s success, and, especially, what are you uniquely providing that gives value to your role?
  2. Take notes about when you’re feeling particularly unmotivated or unenthused about your job. Write down the tasks that bring you down as well as those that get you excited.
  3. It may seem like a tedious exercise, but if you stick with it, patterns will start to emerge. And it’s in teasing out these patterns that’ll help you build a picture of the role that’s right for you.

ACCOUNTABILITY: The Difference Maker

roadsign-banner2Too many times, we fall victim to distractions from the job search. The trap of sleeping late, watching TV, and playing on the Web can ensnare us.  Or maybe it’s lack of, or too much directions and guidance.  With no one but ourselves to hold us accountable for our job-search goals and plans, time can just slip away.

It’s so easy to lose balance between personal needs and wants and our job search.  I have seen many job seekers flounder because they launch their search efforts before they are totally prepared for the unique adventure ahead.


We’ll be taking a bit of a hoHoHOLIDAZE Break ’til the New Year… However, Bob will make himself available to newly formed ACCOUNTABILITY Pairings, to help get you started on a productive path… just call to schedule!

So the next scheduled session will be Thursday, January 4th…Turning Opportunities into INTERVIEWS… How to network your way around and into a target organization


Compass-seaLA good accountability partner can make a major difference in one’s job search.   The power of partnering comes in to play when two well prepared job seekers come together to hold each other accountable for the activities and time management involved in productive search efforts.

You can call this coincidence if you want, I did for a while until I saw it happening over and over, and the people using the accountability partner were giving them the credit for their success. Or you could call it peer pressure … but whatever you call the ‘fuel.’ The resultant energy cannot be denied… it works.

Accountable To WHAT?

When we are employed, we work toward Company standards and goals… our daily duties and responsibilities become our working routine.   But, when we are unemployed job-seekers we don’t have that sort of structure that brings us anticipated RESULTS.

Every Step of our 12-Step Process can be expressed as either a time commitment or an activity during our search efforts.  If we measure our “performance” against our time management and activity goals, we can give ourselves a sense of purpose and direction

sq-knot2

The other end of the spectrum is becoming a “job search-aholic.” For many of us, our identity is tied up tightly in our career, while others need a job right away just to make ends meet. No matter how great the need or desire for a new position, conducting a job search 24/7 non-stop can actually be a detriment to a successful campaign.

Once burnout sets in and enthusiasm begins to wane, how can you be at your best when you interview or even network?  The buddy system is an ideal way to protect against burnout while keeping on track!

Help Potential Employers To Find You

Compass-seaLEmployment is one of the grandest of games… right up there with courtship and marriage: building good relationships and finding the right partner.  Most job seekers have been ‘single’ at some point in their lives.  The courtship game is a challenging one, difficult as it can be ‘seductive FUN.’

Recruitment is equally challenging for potential employers!


NEXT Week’s session:  Thursday, October 26th… Achieving CareerFIT II: Turning what you see as a next right employment opportunity into your communication strategy.


Pilot OnboardIn The OTHER Job Market, buyers and sellers hold equal responsibility for the recruitment process.  The commodity is available, productive WORK… 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 must sell their Company to potential employees in the marketplace in order to attract the best of the lot.  Once identified, they simply select their choice and buy their services.

The informed job seeker, then, must have a well thought out communication strategy in order to create visibility and top-of-mind awareness

Seize control of such challenges.   Understand the nature of FIT.  

What is a Good, Career FIT For You? 

To achieve a good “fit” between you and any future opportunity, you have to ask yourself some basic questions about yourself and your prospective employers. The fit depends on how well the jobs meets your needs and how well your skills and abilities meet the employer’s needs. The employer will make a decision and extend an offer to you: now it is time for you to make your decision.

Write out the factors that are important to you in a job… actually write out your list.  During your career transition, learn the value of setting your offer criteria, a key element of your Personal Market Plan:

  • Creates an objective target for your efforts ahead;
  • Gives you a meaningful set of questions to ask during research (factual information) and networking (more subjective information);
  • Provides an objective way to analyze and react to offers as they occur.

 OFFER CRITERIA

Write out the factors that are important to you in a job…actually write out your list. During your career transition, you learn the value of setting your offer criteria.

1. Creates an objective target for your efforts ahead;
2. Gives you a meaningful set of questions to ask during research and networking;
3. Provides an objective way to analyze and react to offers as they occur.

To manage your career wisely has you extending the same concept.

  • Keep your “offer criteria” in that dynamic state of change that allows you to adapt to market conditions.
  • If your current goal is to find a new position, then you should prepare your search as a “business model”, manage it accordingly, be flexible, and be ready for the unexpected.

You understand that managing your own career involves three key ingredients:

  1. Confidence in knowing that your career is on the right path;
  2. Continuous research and networking leading to awareness of potential “next steps…” to keep your career moving forward;
  3. Competency with job-changing skills.

To manage your career wisely has you extending the same concept.  Consider some of the factors listed below … Examine each factor through the questions listed – and then ask “does this opportunity fit me?”

Work Requirements and Expectations: What is the next  appropriate work for you? Is the work process or project oriented?  If it’s process oriented, are the requirements and expectations clear?  What kinds of projects will you work on? Will you work on one project at a time, or multiple projects? Are the projects long term or short term? Will you work on a project long enough to see the end result? Is it important to you to be able to see the project as a whole, including the result? Or will you be content to do the work without a big picture understanding?

Work Environment: Will the work space be a source of comfort and confidence for you? How formal or informal is the environment? Hectic, fast paced? Will you have the opportunity to have flex time, or to tele-commute? How many hours a week does the employer expect you to work? Will you have the freedom to wear casual clothes? What is a typical day like at the company you are considering?  Would they allow a “trial visit” or at least a site visit?

Career Path: Is there a defined succession plan? What position(s) can you move to next? How long do new hires generally stay in the same job? How quickly do people get promoted? Are your opportunities for professional development well defined and available to you? Are mentors available?

Training and Personal Development: what kind of training will you get from the employer to do the job? What kind of training will you get to stay current in your area of interest? Are the answers to these two questions different? Does it matter to you if the answers are different?

Who IS that masked man?

chalk1In order to market yourself, you must first know yourself, peeling back the layers of learned behaviors (Everyone has a ‘mask’)

The job search process is essentially a highly personalized marketing process.  The process starts with your candid self-assessment, which allows you to gain a thorough and workable understanding of who you are in product marketing terms.

When a Company looks for qualified employees, they seek functional evidence that demonstrates a job seeker’s ability to perform to expectations… especially those “motivated strengths” driven by personal preference and choice.  Remember, JOB REQUIREMENTS represent the HR screening process!

Especially if you are starting a resume “from scratch”, or if you are truly unsettled on next steps along your career path, this becomes a necessary first step in the process.


THIS WEEK’s session, Thursday, October 19, is a look at “Finding YOUR Career FIT,” facilitated by Brian Allen


Pilot OnboardIn The OTHER Job Market, buyers and sellers hold equal responsibility for the recruitment process.  The commodity is available, productive WORK… 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 must sell their Company to potential employees in the marketplace in order to attract the best of the lot.  Once identified, they simply select their choice and buy their services.

Seize control of such challenges.   Understand the nature of FIT.

Strengths          Strengths differ from skills, in that your strengths were not learned or taught, but inborn.  The kind of things which you find easy to do, when others struggle with the same task, can be thought of as a strength.  Perhaps you have used strengths on the job in the past, and if so, you should consider leveraging that strength in your future.

Unfortunately, many people never recognize their strengths, or don’t see a way to use them in the work roles they have played. But, what if you could….?

 Skills                     What we have learned, developed, or have experienced in the workplace.  Those tasks you have performed for another employer, for pay, in the past.  You need to consider skills in two ways:

  1. Competency, or how good you are at the skill, as well as
  2. Motivation, how you feel about performing the skill.

You want to focus on skills where you have both High Competency and High Motivation for your future career development.

Be careful about those skills with High Competency, but Low Motivation.  If you would rather never perform a skill that you have done well for years, it might not be wise to include that skill in your personal marketing collateral materials.

Interests      What kind of things would you enjoy doing, or learning about, even if there was no paycheck involved? Can you identify some topics or activities to which you are, and have always been, naturally drawn?  These might be called your Interests, and they are a key to career success.

Passions are simply very strong interests, and you may have heard someone give career advice about “following your passion!) Interests combined with skills can be very rewarding in the workplace.

Personality/Emotional Intelligence We are all different from one another, in many different ways.  Those differences do not make us wrong, or bad, but they can create conflict or poor communication between people who do not appreciate or understand natural differences.

Learning how you “see the world” differently than other people do can provide clues to how to better understand or relate to people.  This can provide a major advantage in a person who has to work with others, or lead others.

What are your natural preferences? The answer to this question can guide a person to make better decisions regarding their career.

Another difference that has gotten a lot of attention in recent years surrounds the issue of Emotional Intelligence.  This is the degree by which a person is both aware of their and other’s emotional state, as well as the degree by which they manage those emotions.  It seems likely that the higher your EQ, the more likely you will find success in relationships and in the workplace.

Values     What is most important to you, and what will you protect or defend if necessary? How do you expect to be treated in the workplace, by co-workers and leaders? What are the “rules” by which you choose to live your life? These are the rules that define how you, and others, should behave in society.  These “rules”, or values, can be the most important self-awareness a person should draw from when considering career moves.

If the work you do, or the people and organization where you perform you work, share some of your highest values, you are more likely to feel satisfied and fulfilled in that work.  Where our higher values are routinely violated, or when we are required to abandon some of them on a regular basis at work, the result can be frustration, anger, dis-engagement, and ultimately burn-out.

The problem is that we rarely think about our values, and probably can’t list them if asked. Even though we constantly use them to react to people or events.  Most values are buried deep in our minds.

***

Ultimately, your goal is to secure the right employment for yourself…

That must start with your identification of what right is.  THAT requires some exploration, identification of key elements of your Career FIT, and planning to pull it all together, create focus… make it happen!

 

Task #2 and 3: Building a FOCUSED LinkedIn Network

AjustDaSailsNever allow your LinkedIn usage to spiral out of control… However, that said, you want to get to your statistical ‘tipping point’ as soon as possible to cut the workload.

Your ultimate goal with social media is to STAY FOCUSED.  Only connect with others who share your professional interests or are related to those interests in a complementary way… and can help you meet your goals.  After you’ve created your profile, it’s time to begin to connect to others.  Remember your goals and adjust to your growing comfort and confidence with this ever evolving digital tool.


Our next session is Thursday, September 14th… LinkedIn Primer Task#2&3: Build your social network and explore ways to apply for posted jobs.


Pilot OnboardLinkedIn will allow you to search for people you know to see if they’re already members. But once you connect to someone, you can also look at the profiles of anyone they know, and in turn anyone those people know. Because of these three degrees of separation, your network can grow rapidly. Before you begin connecting, decide who you want to connect to. LinkedIn suggests in its FAQ, “Only invite those you know and trust.”

I started with twenty contacts from my MSOutlook.  My first line has grown to well over two hundred by accepting and sending out INVITATIONS to people I know, are likely to be interactive within our network, or who could provide resources to me or the Candidates I serve… what’s really impressive is how this translates, numerically, into your second and third lines of contact… we’re talking, WOW!!!

The 411 on “How Not to Be Connected”

If someone contacts you and you don’t want to form a connection with them, you don’t need to flatly reject them and worry about the attendant awkwardness. When looking at the invitation to connect, simply hit “Archive.” The other person does not receive a message saying their invitation has been rejected, and you don’t have to worry about unwanted invitations clogging up your inbox.

Likewise, if you find that an existing contact is blasting you with too much information or making overly aggressive requests for introductions and recommendations, LinkedIn will let you remove that person easily — and without the contact knowing they’re out of your network.

If only it were that easy in real life.

What’s Next?

  1. Check in on “Network Updates.” Found on your LinkedIn homepage, Network Updates are kind of like your Facebook news feed. Check these periodically for a quick snapshot of what your connections are up to and sharing.
  2. Be identifiable. Find out who’s checking out your profile by allowing others to see who you are if you view theirs. When you click the information under “Who’s Viewed My Profile” on your profile page, you’ll be able to view users who have looked at your profile, stats on your profile’s number of views, and its appearances in search recently. To change this, go into your settings and click “See what others see when you’ve viewed their profile.”
  3. Export connections. Transfer your LinkedIn connections to another contact management system? LinkedIn enables you to easily export your connections. Just click on “Contacts,” “My Connections,” and then scroll down and click “Export Connections.” You have the option of either exporting as a .CSV or .VCF file.
  4. Easily find email contacts on LinkedIn. Speaking of connections, the “LinkedIn Companion for Firefox” is a great plugin that helps you identify the LinkedIn profiles of people who are emailing you. It also enables you to easily access other LinkedIn features via your browser.
  1. Leverage the power of LinkedIn Groups. Did you know that if you’re a member of the same group as another user, you can bypass the need to be a first degree connection in order to message them? In addition, group members are also able to view the profiles of other members of the same group without being connected. Join more groups to enable more messaging and profile viewership capabilities.