Leave a STRONGER Digital Footprint

chalk1Creating visibility for yourself through posted “white papers” or blogging can be very useful if you’re looking for work. On the LinkedIn platform, such ‘activity’ will contribute to your serach page rank.  Blogging can give you that edge over other candidates…without taking any of the original fun out of it!


NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, March 28th… GUEST PRESENTER Locke Alderson will be exploring your use of LinkedIn, your GPS to networking… bring your laptop!


Here’s how blogging can land you your next job. It can help you:..

1. Stand out
When a recruiter or potential employer searches your name, your blog will be one of the first things to come up, increasing your online visibility.  Unlike your resume or cover letter, a blog presents tangible evidence of what you can do, or how you think. See it as your online portfolio, with examples of your work readily available to whoever wishes to see it…visible and tangible evidence of your strengths.

This kind of exposure constitutes a valuable addition to your professional profile and will make you stand out to employers.

2. Gain new skills
Blogging can help you develop many online skills. Besides the obvious – but extremely useful – ones like writing, research and communication skills, there are also more technical skills to gain.

You can gain hands-on experience working with a content management system by using a platform like WordPress; learn about the marketing side of things – for example how to use SEO – or try your hand at visual design creating your own, customized blog template.

3. Build your network
Your blog can help you to connect to others who are as passionate about the topics you’re writing about as you are, allowing you to build up a relevant network of contacts.  And, if you blog regularly, and people begin to ‘follow’ you, you’ll be developing a powerful, influential ‘networking machine.’

Following other bloggers and engaging with their content is a great way to attract visitors, while promoting your blog on your social media channels can also help to boost engagement.

4. Stay up to date
The more you integrate yourself within the online community surrounding your preferred field or topic, the easier it will be to stay in the loop of the latest news or developments.

Being able to show a thorough understanding of the state of the industry you are applying to will be looked upon favorably by employers while also providing a confidence boost for when you go in for an interview or start your new role.

5. Show rather than tell
There is only so much you can convey to a recruiter or potential employer through your CV or cover letter, and the emphasis tends to lie in key achievements and experience over strengths and personal attributes.

Blogging allows you to showcase those things that need to be seen to be believed. Your creativity, dedication and passion to learn can all easily be conveyed through your blog by how often you post updates and the care that goes into each one.

It may take more time than occasionally updating your CV and cover letter, but running a personal blog is definitely an investment worth making. As tangible evidence of your capabilities and personality, it can get you that crucial one step ahead of other applicants.

…and the by-product of your efforts…

You will be building your comfort and confidence in the use of social media, like more participation in LinkedIn Groups of your peers.

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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

 

Succeeding With Interview Tactics

Compass-seaLSo, how does a concept from the field of engineering get itself into the dysfunctional event called INTERVIEWING? Reverse engineering is a detailed examination of an idea or product with the aim of producing something similar. In fact, this method could also apply to the job interview because sometimes, in a job interview, the candidate does not properly understand the question the interviewer has asked, and therefore the answer, of course, would likely not be the best.


THIS WEEK’s Session, Thursday, March 14th…Closing The Deal II: Interviewing tactics in the ‘nine-box matrix’ and POST-Offer negotiation.


Pilot OnboardThe most important element of the job interview is that the candidate clearly and fully understand each question if that candidate’s answers are to meet the interviewer’s expectations.

It’s a sad fact that most of the people who conduct job interviews—namely, those representing employers—have never taken even one structured course about carrying out a thorough and productive interview. And it’s unfortunate that many professional interviewers do a less than satisfactory job at it.

Anatomy of the Interview

The job interview itself is a professional conversation between employers’ representatives and job applicants (EQUAL participants) for the purpose of selecting the applicant who appears to be the best candidate. Of course, interviews vary in many ways based on type of job and on level within an organization. But in all cases there are similarities.

So, what are the criteria that interviewers must satisfy for themselves in order to go ahead and recommend the hiring of an individual? The answer, of course, includes many criteria, which will differ from one interview to the next…and which at times will be influenced by prejudices. In addition, in most cases more than one interview takes place before a final decision is reached. Let’s examine the types of questions asked in a first interview and in a second interview and the intentions behind the questions.

Questions for the first interview

Here the first criterion is communication skills, and a typical question is, Tell me about yourself. On hearing the answer, I’m noticing how the candidate frames that answer. Is it clear and concise? Is the candidate engaging me?

The next criterion is competency. The question could be, Can you give me a specific example of a time you used a (particular) skill and the outcome? Now I’m listening for whether the answer indicates that the candidate is a team player. Does the candidate truly demonstrate well-developed skills in the area of my interest, and what were the main results?

At all companies, cultural fit is extremely important. Several common questions are pertinent to this area. For example, What was the biggest team project or task you’ve undertaken in your career? Then I dig deeper, with specific follow-up questions. I want to learn the size of the project team. Was the objective reached? Who benefited by the outcome? Was the candidate’s answer well communicated? Was it too long? Too short?

The next area to explore is motivation. Here I ask what the candidate knows about our company. By this question, I’m testing whether the candidate has done their ‘homework.’  Is the candidate really interested? Does the candidate know more details about the organization than what’s available on the Web site?

 Questions for the second interview

Because the motivation factor is so very important, it’s likely that this criterion will come up in the second interview as well, when other members of the interviewing team look for it. Common questions are:

  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why did you leave your last position? Were there hidden problems?
  • Do you wish to grow professionally? Do you have a clear vision of your professional future?

The next area to look into would be trust of colleagues and customers. A good, probing question would be, Can you cite examples that best demonstrate your ability to relate well to others?

  • Have you been invited to contribute to other teams?
  • Did your team and other teams celebrate their successes together?
  • How about repeat business? Or returning internal or external customers?

People in management are expected to identify and establish goals. I would ask about plans for the first 90 days after hire. Does the candidate know the product or service? Has the candidate given thought to a plan? Is the plan detailed enough?

If at this point the candidate appears promising, I would ask, What kind of money are you looking for? The answer will enable me to decide whether it’s worth continuing the interview if a candidate’s expectations are out of the hiring manager’s salary range budgeted for the position.

UNDERSTANDING Interview Process

Your Career CompassEvery 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, March 7th… Closing The Deal I, an exploration of interview strategies, including MoneySpeak and PRE-Offer negotiation


bob-maher-4587-editThe 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.

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.

Your Strategic, CAREER Plan That Works Effectively in Job Search

Compass-seaLWhile involved in ‘the challenging waters’ of career transition, the same chaotic, jobless, trying times are very productive times. Don’t waste them by floundering with lack of focus and direction, falling into the dark, depressive attitude of distractions and, worst of all, inaction…


NEXT Week’s Session, Thursday, January 31st… Developing Your Personal Marketing Plan; Being fully prepared to conduct an effective job search


chalk1When we are employed, we tend to function under the guidance of our employer’s business plan, or, more specifically, our job description. Our ‘routine’ is defined by:

  • Personal accountability to a labyrinth of responsibilities, some structured— some not structured at all—but all contributing to productive work activities…
  • We create productivity and efficiency with our sense of time management…
  • And as ‘top talent’ professionals, we often take initiative, make process improvements, and contribute to the Company’s growth.

So, why not recreate all that with OUR OWN PLAN, a Personal Marketing Plan, to move toward job satisfaction, commitment, and appropriate compensation, for the rest of our careers… including any current, short term job search?

If an individual is under-employed, seeking a change, or actually unemployed, they must be visible to potential employers who are seeking their services. Creating this visibility is strategic, personal market planning and execution—in can be marketability without rejection!

And, employed or not, Modify and improve your Personal Market Plan’s implementation model as needed… As you move through your career transition or ‘job search campaign,’ make adjustments as you would a business model.

Personal Marketing is a contact sport.

Following the first three steps of our 12-Step Process, it may feel like you’re ready to take on the job market… but, THE Careerpilot encourages you to be totally prepared before you do.