WAVE TWO: Networking IN To A Company of Interest

JigSaw-partnershipWhat is the most critical skill to one’s  CAREER success – yet also the most elusive? Time management? Discipline?  Professionalism?  Reliability?  Yes, these are all desired personal traits and work habits, but rarely SEARCHED for.

How about the more functionally significant skills, like Strategic thinking? Decision making? Business acumen or intuitive ability to forecast and budget effectively?


This week’s Session, Thursday, February 14th… Turning Opportunities Into INTERVIEWS: Networking IN to a targeted organization


bob-maher-4587-editNo. While these are all important, they pale in comparison to communication skills, BOTH personal and professional: Attentive listening, asking relevant questions, showing empathy, and knowing how to handle difficult communications are the most critical to career success.  They are vital to building healthy relationships, exchanging ideas, sharing feelings, gaining buy-in, setting clear expectations, and working collaboratively.

The lack of these skills is at the root of most conflicts, employee performance issues, failed projects, and lost opportunities…JOBS????

You can be a subject matter expert, but if you can’t communicate your ideas, your ideas are of little value. You can have a great value proposition, branding, for the future, but if you can’t get people to buy into it, your vision doesn’t matter. You can be a masterful manager, but if you can’t reassure or empathize with your clients, they will seek help elsewhere.

You might have a skill set/experience to sell, but if you can’t articulate a compelling value proposition, you won’t find many takers. Your ability to communicate determines your success at work or home.

How do you rate your current communication’s skills?  And, more importantly, how do you improve them to enhance job search or career transition SUCCESS?

A famous coach, of Green Bay Packer fame, spoke frankly when he said, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” Mr. Lombardi’s intent was CLEAR. He wanted his players to concentrate on PRACTICE, drilling on the “little things”, the basics, so that they became instinct during the heat of real life.

Such is productive mindset during any career transition, specifically related to your ability to relate your well positioned “story” to others, answer questions effectively, conduct productive negotiations, and, fine tune your personal marketing skills.

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. “Tell me about yourself.”  Practice your two minute drill every chance you get…. it’s the fundamental building material of your communication strategy–your verbal personal marketing 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 marketing…
  • A verbal resume… A tightly focused, upbeat telling of “your story” told in a high impact two minute format. With practice, can be easily personalized to your listener.
  • An “elevator pitch”… A succinct summary of your qualifications for a specifically positioned function or opportunity. With practice, can become quite spontaneous.
  • A qualification statement that can be used in introducing yourself

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.
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The Ghost of Holidaze Past

happynewyearsmalltolargeThe holidays are a fun time to share gifts, visit with friends and family, take a break from work, and, let’s hope, relax. The trouble is that they are over fairly quickly. And once those days are over, people return to their regular routines, which now seem dull, or worse, depressing.

The biggest difficulty in getting back to the disciplined grind of job search is seeing the rewards and joy in what we do every day.


This Week’s Session, Thursday, January 10th:  Achieving CareerFIT,  an exploration of the assessment process


chalk1The contrast between ‘happy holidaze’ and ‘disciplined job search’ can be dehabilitating if we think about it that way. People underestimate how exhausting even happy holidays are and how much rest we need to recover… The holiday hangover is real… Don’t expect to be 100% productive on your first day back at it.

Once people get some rest over the weekend after the first week back, the fatigue should ease up significantly. Be aware of the signs that you may be overworked or over-stressed. These include uncharacteristically negative thoughts and feelings, as well as not finding time for or no longer looking forward to things you used to enjoy.

Burnout is a serious issue and can lead to severe depression and even suicidal ideation if left unaddressed. Some of the physical symptoms include heart palpitations, gastrointestinal issues, and excessive weight loss or gain. But you don’t have to experience any of these.

Back in school, we used to refer to the time between Christmas break and St. Patrick’s Day as ‘the dark ages.’  On ‘the job search calendar,’ this is actually the most productive time of the year.

With some effort and a few tricks, you can make it through this stressful transition period right after the holidays and prevent it from dragging out.

1. Think of time as an investment

We spend so much time getting ready for the holidays and then they are over in just a week, which can be disappointing. The best way to deal with that feeling is to think about the holiday preparation as an investment:  The time you spend decorating, buying gifts, and making plans is really an investment in creating a special experience for you and yours that will continue to pay dividends long after the holidays are over. Like all investments, sometimes it doesn’t pay off in the way we hoped, but we can rest in the knowledge that we invested ourselves in something personally meaningful.

2. Don’t expect perfection

It’s important to have compassion for yourself and others about the transition back and not expect perfection.  You may want to disclose too many personal stories, giving out a lot more than just professional information.  If you want to keep things more professional, express empathy, and gently redirect your networking dialog to work related matters.

3. Know it’s unnatural to simply switch off from the “happiness of the season”

In a way, it is unnatural for people to completely compartmentalize their lives when they walk in or out of the disciplined structure of productive and efficient job search activity. While appropriate boundaries are important, it is unhealthy to stuff thoughts and emotions down or deny them just because the clock says it is time; finding that balance can be a real challenge for some.

Realistically, it takes a couple of weeks to really get back into a regular routine… People spend the last 30 to 90 days of the year winding down and letting go of all their good habits… It’s going to take time to re-establish healthy behaviors and get back on track.

4. Use technology with purpose

It’s not about permanently switching off your computer or television and throwing out your smartphone. Absolutes may not be the answer.  Instead, it can be helpful to think about how you choose to use social media and other available technologies… what purpose you want it to serve for you.  Is it serving that purpose?

If not — and especially if it takes more away from you then you get out of it — it might be time to be more intentional about media consumption and only use it for the purpose you want.

5. Give yourself a ramp-up period

“Maybe use a couple of days to figure out your new goals and professional expectations for this year,” Taylor said. “Let yourself slowly (but steadily) get back into your routine.” You can burn out if you try to jump back in too quickly, so take one task at a time and set a rhythm for yourself, she added.

6. Stay away from unmotivated people

They can be contagious… If you’re around folks who haven’t gotten back into the swing of things, it’s easier to follow suit. They may actively be telling you that ‘there’s always tomorrow’ or ‘just start on a Monday,’ or it may just be something you feel is easier when no one else around you is moving forward. Avoid these people for a while, if you can.

Network and develop your network with employed people.

7. Go on short walks

After the holidays, our minds might wander and we might be thinking about places we’d rather be or things we’d rather be doing than staying engaged in SMART jo search activities. By spending just five minutes quietly focusing on your breath, you can bring a sense of calmness and clarity to your day and increase attention to your work-at-hand.

8. Exercise

THE CareerPilot recommends regular exercise — and especially outdoor exercise if the weather permits…  It helps regulate levels of cortisol, the “stress” hormone, and adrenaline. It can be very effective at getting our bodies and moods regulated again for countless reasons.  If you haven’t had a regular practice…START ONE!

9. Be mindful of the good times ahead

Remembering the good memories from the holidays, while also being mindful of the good times in the coming weeks, months, and in the new year can be helpful in beating the post-holiday blues. Being stuck in the past makes a person less open to and appreciative of the next big thing that may come along.

Physically active people are also more productive and motivated in all areas of their lives.  You can get more energy, and the same chemicals released from an antidepressant medication, when you’re working out.

10. Practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude is very helpful but not in a hit-and-run way… It is more helpful if a person spends some time reflecting on why he or she is grateful and how it is meaningful.  Spending time regularly practicing gratitude rewires the brain by gradually shifting what we pay attention to and are aware of.

You get bonus points if you express your gratitude in depth to another person and build it into your home or job search dialog.

Accountable To Whom And For WHAT?

happynewyearsmalltolargeThe leading cause of long job searches is low marketability or like-ability…Rather it is the lack of ACCOUNTABILITY to appropriate time management and regular implementation of productive activities.  That said, what are YOU going to DO about it?

At the end of the day, the significant developmental issue, here, is to develop your own sense of SELF-Accountability… it really doesn’t matter whether you do this as part of a team, or part of a partnership, or even by yourself if you have the prerequisite knowledge, self awareness, and DISCIPLINE.


This Week’s Session, Thursday, January 3rd at 8:45 AM… UNDERSTANDING The OTHER Job Market…An exploration of why activity in this parallel marketplace is critical to overcoming common challenges of job search in the more traditional marketplace.


This is not for the feint of heart.  Most job-seekers miss the accountability of time management and commitment to specific, result-oriented activities that employers instill in you.

TOP TIPS: Creating EFFECTIVE Accountability

Create a Goals Worksheet/ TEMPLATE… You’ve heard the cliché “What Gets Measured Gets DONE.” Very true for jobseekers who put themselves ‘out there’ on their own.  Work SMART at your job search PLAN…

Specific time and activity goals for each process prep and implementation step. Measurable goals so that progress can be analyzed and diagnosed  Actionable goals that allow you to ‘own’ your job search accomplishments   Realistic goals that are attainable on an average, weekly basis… and keep them Timely.

Have goals that are time-specific to keep you moving FORWARD!

  • Choose your PARTNER or TEAM Members wisely… your sense of accountability is built when you can be open and honest with each other during your scheduled sessions. There’s no room for negativity.
  • Have a set STRUCTURE of what will occur during each session. I encourage each meeting to start with a brief practice of verbal collateral, followed by a reporting of last week’s ‘numbers.’  Identify obstacles to your progress, requesting specific ‘help’ as appropriate.  Commit to next week’s numbers.  Close with an open and frank discussion aimed at removing obstacles… including action plans!
  • Keep your Group’s Membership and attendance consistent. Remember, these sessions can be effective with anywhere from 2 to 10 Members.
  • Create a hard copy binder with a tab for each Member… contents should be everyone’s tracking sheet, current resume, and a business card (several might be useful). Each Member is in this TOGETHER.
  • Generate a sense of TEAMSMANSHIP… Give yourselve’s a NAME. Create some sort of reward system for the week’s most contributive or successful Member.
  • Build EARLY SUCCESS by inviting a skilled and experienced facilitator for your first few meetings… then carry-on with a personal accomplishment of helping each other with resolution and action plans to overcome all obstacles.

A Little ACCOUNTABILITY Goes a LONG Way!

JigSaw-partnershipA good accountability partner can make a major difference in one’s 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.  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.


THIS Week’s Session, Thursday, December 13th… Developing your personal ACCOUNTABILITY partnerships


bob-maher-4587-editYou 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.

Too 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. 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.

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!

3 GREAT Reasons You Need An Accountability Partnership

A partnership can be you and one other person, like how we start at DFWCareerpilot…or it could be a group of 3 or more like minded individuals. We start with each grouping being facilitated by a skilled and experienced facilitator.  Having had a lot of experience with facilitating accountability teams and partnerships over the years, I offer the following reasons why such activity will boost your individual job search efforts…

1) Someone to bounce around ideas with… It can be productive when you’re stuck and not sure how to proceed on an idea or maybe with a target organization—or an individual you’re having trouble connecting with.  Sometimes you just need that extra little push. Connecting with someone who does understand is a big deal.

2) Someone to share accomplishments with… Did you research and identify a great opportunity? Land that big interview? Get your first offer?  An accountability partner is the perfect person to share those exciting times with.

As Corporate citizens, we are used to being on productive teams, surrounded by resources, and encouraged to succeed.  However, as job seekers, it is easy to lead a very isolated existence and appropriate resources are not always available.

3) Someone you can stay accountable to

Again, it’s really rewarding to have someone to tell when you have accomplished specific goals and/or tasks. Or on the flip side it’s nice to have someone there if you’re starting to feel overwhelmed and they can bring you back to reality. It’s great to know you have someone there that is counting on you to take action!

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.

ADVICE OVERLOAD vs. “LISTENING TO YOUR MARKETPLACE”

roadsign-banner2Many people talk about “information overload” and “decision fatigue” when it comes to how to conduct your job search, or write your resume, or develop your LinkedIn Profile…or answer those challenging interview questions.  THE Careerpilot  believes there’s another side to the coin… Receiving options is actually motivational and liberating, with the right mindset.  Asking for someone else’s advice isn’t about getting the right answer out of them. Rather, it’s about adding perspective to your view so you can choose the right answer for you.

So, how can you ensure another ‘second opinion’ doesn’t cloud your judgement?


NEXT Session: Thursday, November 8th @8:45 AM… Closing The Deal I: Interview STRATEGIES, including MoneySpeak and PRE-Offer negotiation.


chalk1First and foremost, understand that your ‘core personality,’ defined by your unique strengths, skills, interests, preferences, and values (Step#1: ASSESSMENT), drives your “gut feel” on matters of choice.  TRUST that!

In THE Careerpilot’s 12-Step M.A.P. for career transition, Steps #1 and #2 are in place for one simple reason: If you don’t have a grip on what you want to do next in your career, work toward giving yourself that grip!  Your core personality should be represented in your offer criteria BEFORE development of your Personal Marketing collateral materials, like your resume!

If you cannot connect your motivated skills and strengths to supportive and confirming episodes from your actual experience, you should be utilizing your first wave of implementing your Personal Marketing Plan (Step#9) to identify and resolve this vital issue.

Only then will it become effective to proceed with Step#3 in the development and practice of your collective communication strategies (keywords) in the design of your collateral materials, both verbal and written.  Remember: Perfect practice makes PERFECT!

And that brings us to Step#4, once you are satisfied with a market-ready resume, share it with your references, coaching them to be in sync with your communication strategies.  Your references should know you well, better than any other editorial resource available to you.  Consider these two things before reaching out:

  1. ALWAYS respect the time management of the person you’re interacting with
  2. Instead of seeking JOB help… consider a very different acronym: AIR… you should be seeking Advice, Information, and/or a R

When asked, your contact may throw ideas out there for the kind of job you should have, the kind of path you should take, the kind of responsibilities you should own, or the kinds of decisions you should make. You can let it overwhelm you, or you can pick and choose what you want to factor in, and let everything else fall to the wayside…

This is an over-simplification, but it’s truly that simple. Once you see others’ advice as something you can take rather than something you have to take, the pressures off, and you can make decisions that align with your values.

This also frees you up to make the more challenging decisions based on cumulative feedback that you have heard and listened to from the job market…  how to conduct your job search, or write your resume, or develop your LinkedIn Profile…or answer those challenging interview questions. The more collective ‘advice and information,’ the better!

Remember, too, that the traditional marketplace’s over-reliance and obsession with keywords is what drives your dynamic need for feedback on your resume.  Besides, you should be constantly tweaking your market-ready resume to stay in sync with actual job descriptions and other opportunities.

Learn to embrace the OTHER job market!

IDENTIFYING OPPORTUNITIES…And Turning Them into INTERVIEWS

Compass-seaLIf 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:  Thursday, November 1st…Turning Opportunities Into INTERVIEWS: A HOW-TO look at turning research and target organization networking into INTERVIEWS!


Ready+aim+fireRESEARCH: Analyze Your Target Industry

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 and Focus on CAREER Objectives

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.

Schedule  Informational “Interviews” With Key Contacts

In addition to being introspective, it’s also important to get out there and start becoming your own best CAREER Coach, learning about satisfying next steps, the career moves you’re interested in.   And what better resource than the very people already in, or connected with, those you seek?

As an active job seeker, especially in the first few months of a job search, networking your way to one informational interview per week is essential to your campaign’s success.  This may sound like a lot, but initially quantity is more important than quality as you want to get a sense of a wide variety of roles in different industries based on the results of your introspection.

The more people you speak with, the more you’ll be exposed to fields you might wish to pursue. With that said, you don’t want the person on the receiving end to feel that way—so always make sure to come prepared and send a thank you.