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.

Branding Yourself For The Digital Recruitment World

bob-maher-4587-editThe Careerpilot’s high TECH-HIGH TOUCH philosophy comes into play with the explosive growth of business professionals using social networks to build relationships, meet new contacts, and market themselves.  While the Internet provides many choices, diving into the virtual meet-and-greet can represent a real challenge.

Which one is worthy of your start-up investment: learning curve time and actual ROI of your efforts…  Where to begin? The Careerpilot encourages a choice that reasonably assures one’s confidentiality, has a multitude of useful applications, and can serve as your focal point of networking decisions.


NEXT Session: Thursday, August 9th…A LinkedIn PRIMER:  Task#1, having a Profile that is in sync with your PMP


chalk1A terrific launching site for such an effort is LinkedIn. Developed specifically for business, the site doesn’t run the risk of blurring your professional life with your private one; and with more than 25 million users, it serves virtually every industry and profession.

Joining a network like LinkedIn is simple, but turning it into a powerful networking tool takes a bit of savvy. Here’s how to set up a profile, build a network, and put it all to work — without HIGH TECH, social-networking anxiety.

TASK #1… Having a Compelling Profile

Before you connect to others, you must first set up a profile page on LinkedIn. While your page will detail your work history, don’t assume you can copy and paste your resume and be done with it. Your profile page should reflect your professional interests, passions, and ambitions at this point in your career.  It becomes the core of this high tech, written collateral.

As you proceed, keep your goal in mind…

Do you want to have that fully optimized, SEO-centric magnet that attracts interested parties TO you?  -OR-

Do you want that terrific, user-friendly home page and profile that is easy for a reader to navigate?  -OR-

Do you want your profile and homepage to be appealing to both?

A checklist of things to include:

  1. A picture. It’s been said that, “People do business with people.”
  2. A specific and high impact “headline” with keywords relevant to your industry… your headline follows you around through several of the interactive applications.
  3. Preferred contact method and data… At the bottom of your profile, you can let people know how you want to be contacted — through LinkedIn, by e-mail, or over the phone.
  4. Desired information, networking “targets… What you want to be contacted about… At the bottom of your profile, you can select interests like reference requests, consulting offers, or career opportunities. Be sure to update your profile to stay in sync with your career.

…and don’t overlook the “power” of recommendations… start thinking of who you might want to encourage to endorse you and your services.  Job seekers: your references are a great start!

The LinkedIn site will walk you through filling in the blanks, but you’ll want to think ahead about two areas:

Positioning Yourself

Just like on a GREAT RESUME, directly underneath your name will be a short headline of four or five words. More than anything else in your profile, these words are how people find and define you.

Are you seeking to connect mainly with others in your field and industry? Then a simple, title-oriented headline like “Senior Product Development Director at The XYX Corporation” is best. Are you seeking to branch out into other areas? “Leader of High-Performing Engineering Projects” alerts others quickly to the value you would bring to an organization. Regardless of how you phrase your headline, make sure to use keywords that will help others find you.

PLAN Before You’ll Need a Plan

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…

When 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.

This Week’s Session, Thursday, August 2nd, 8:45 AM, at The Egg and I Restaurant in Addison… Developing Your Personal Marketing Plan


chalk1So, 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?   But, before looking at what such a Personal Marketing Plan would look like, let’s review the PREPARATION Portion of the 12-step Process Model (on the left).

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.

BRANDING Yourself In The OTHER Job Market

Your “market-tested” RESUME TEMPLATE can now serve as the basis of your correspondence templates. Become familiar with the AUTO TEXT and MAIL MERGE applications within MS Word to create efficiency in the editing of your templates to meet the needs of specific opportunities that you are marketing yourself to.

Now it is REALLY beginning to feel like YOU are market-ready… but, THE Careerpilot encourages you to be totally prepared before you do. Let’s not forget to be prepared for the digital face of the job market…

 LinkedIn Task#1: INITIATING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY

The Careerpilot’s high TECH-HIGH TOUCH philosophy comes into play with the explosive growth of using social networks to recruit top talent and for job seekers to build relationships, meet new contacts, and market themselves. While the Internet provides many choices, diving into the virtual meet-and-greet can represent a real challenge.

Which one is worthy of your start-up investment: learning curve time and actual ROI of your efforts… Where to begin? The Careerpilot encourages a choice that reasonably assures one’s confidentiality, has a multitude of useful applications, and can serve as your focal point of networking decisions… LinkedIn.

INITIAL RESEARCH:  To Create Focus

 Make a concerted effort to research trends and target organizations of geographies, industries, and functions that interest you. Access market research reports, the Internet, your own network… start with the resources with which you are already comfortable. Develop your research awareness and abilities.

Begin to assemble your INITIAL Target Organization List.  Start your list of companies and industries that are attractive to you. Your targets are companies that utilize the functionality and RESULTS that you can bring to the table. A great start is to consider industrial trends in the marketplace that point to an organization’s need for your services.

 INITIAL CONTACTS List

 Make a list of coworkers, bosses, customers, suppliers, associates, external consultants, etc. Make a list of family, extended family, friends, relatives of friends, neighbors, people you know from special interest groups like bowling or bridge, church contacts, former classmates or alumni, and professionals like your doctor, dentist, or hair stylist.

The OTHER Job Market Has a Screen Door, Too!

Compass-seaLJust as in traditional job search, there are four avenues in to more efficient and productive job search: Classified advertising, third-party recruitment services, employer job postings (this trio can be addressed by using the Internet ‘job boards’), and personal contact networking.

One of the many keys to unlocking the screen door of The OTHER Job Market is to sieze control of the process and take actions like that of an equal partner in the recruitment process.


This week’s session, Thursday, June 28th at The Egg and I: An exploration of the third-party world of recruitment


bob-maher-4587-editIn embracing The OTHER Job Market, a successful professional seeking their next appropriate employment will learn the technique of using the services of a third party recruiter.  The term “third party recruiter” goes by many names including contingency agencies, executive search firms, retained search firms, employment agencies, headhunters, recruiters, and temp agencies.  These all fall under the umbrella of the “staffing industry.”

Contingency Agencies are paid by the company after the agency’s candidate is hired…their sourcing process is a paperwork mill.

Retained Search Firms custom locates candidates for a company and are paid upfront or on a progress basis (retained basis). Their sourcing process is often more focused and conducted on a more personal level.

Employment Agencies are contracted by companies to find candidates for temporary or permanent positions.  Often their sourcing and screening activity is conducted in parallel to Corporate recruiting efforts.

Temporary (Temp) Agencies find candidates to fill temporary jobs and “temp to perm” positions.  This includes the Lease2Perm TECHNICAL firms.

The number of temporary employees is growing and this trend is expected to continue.

TMI (Too Much Information)… The American Staffing Association (ASA)

TEXAS specific statistics… Third-party recruitment statistics in Texas

Temping can help you learn new skills and experience, build your network, open up options you had not previously considered and bridge employment gaps.  The goal is to get inside a company.  Here is my list of things you should take into consideration when working with staffing agencies.

  1. Some agencies have skills training to prepare employees for their assignments; others expect you to hit the ground running.
  2. Temp jobs can often be the answer when your cash reserves are running low.
  3. Temping can give you experience in careers you might not have otherwise thought of trying – without a long-term commitment.
  4. Having the flexibility from temping can work well for your job search and personal priorities.
  5. Signing up with a staffing agency is usually quick and easy, much of which can be done online.
  6. Approximately 79 percent of staffing employees work full-time according to the American Staffing Association (ASA).
  7. The ASA notes that 12 million Americans will work at some point during the course of the year in as a temp or contract employee.
  8. Temping is not a step down.  It’s money, connections, a resume gap stopper and an opportunity to get your foot in the door.

*MORE to follow*

Interview SKILL: Becoming a ‘Valued Partner’

Compass-seaLWhether 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 should want to become a ‘valued partner’ in the strategic and operational planning–as well as the execution–of their next employer. To become fully engaged, Everyone wants a voice in strategic decisions and to be included in ‘the conversation.’


THIS WEEK’s Session, Thursday, June 21st: Closing The Deal II, exploring and practicing interview tactics, including POST-OFFER Negotiation


chalk1To 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.

Here are some tips on becoming 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 ‘the bigger picture…’ how does your department fit into meeting organizational goals and objectives?  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, the human brain takes IN information more efficiently than it can put out valued communication.

Communicate Like The LEADER You ARE 

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.

YOUR Digital Footprint

REMEMBER Memorial DayThe Careerpilot’s high TECH-HIGH TOUCH philosophy comes into play with the explosive growth of business professionals using social networks to build relationships, meet new contacts, and market themselves.  While the Internet provides many choices, diving into the virtual meet-and-greet can represent a real challenge.  Which one is worthy of your start-up investment: learning curve time and actual ROI of your efforts…  Where to begin?


Bob is back and will be facilitating This Week‘s Session, Thursday, May 31st…                     A LinkedIn Primer: Task #2 and #3, a discussion of how to extend the reach of your contact network…extending your digital footprint


Pilot OnboardThe Careerpilot encourages a choice that reasonably assures one’s confidentiality, has a multitude of useful applications, and can serve as your focal point of networking decisions.

A terrific launching site for such an effort is LinkedIn. Developed specifically for business, the site doesn’t run the risk of blurring your professional life with your private one; and, it serves virtually every industry and profession.

Joining a network like LinkedIn is simple, but turning it into a powerful networking tool takes a bit of savvy. Here’s how to build a network, leveraging your available time… and put it all to work — without HIGH TECH, social-networking anxiety.

TASK #2  Build Your Network

Goal: 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.

LinkedIn 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.” 

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. And, it’s a 2-way street: Your updates, including white papers you may choose to “publish,” go out to your network.
  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. 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.
  5. Link your Twitter acct to LinkedIn. Share your LinkedIn status updates on Twitter, and vice versa. Learn how to connect your Twitter account in your “settings” area.

Your ‘Digital FOOTPRINT’

Your Career CompassSocial media is a great place to learn about and create a digital conversation with your market. 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.


THIS Week’s session:  Thursday, March 15th… Turning OPPORTUNITIES into INTERVIEWS: a how-to look at networking your way IN to a targeted organization.


chalk1Here 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.”

What’ll IT Be, Push or Pull?

In “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).  So in this brief handout we will be taking a down the middle 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.

Task#1: A Dynamic Profile

Your RESUME Your LinkedIn Profile
A clear and specific positioning statement + defining KEYWORDS A compelling HEADLINE that speaks to your professional branding efforts
A Qualification SUMMARY that directs the reader to your value proposition “Your story” in a nutshell, providing the reader a SUMMARY of your value to them
Professional Experience: Provides the reader with proof that you have the requisite experience to meet requirements and perform well A chronological look at the jobs you’ve held:  Proof that you have the requisite experience to meet requirements and perform well
EDUCATION or related training and certifications EDUCATION or related training and certifications

When employed, your HEADLINE might present you as the <<Billing Manager at LSC Communications (formerly RR Donnelley) >>.

However, when seeking your next right employment opportunity you have some choices.  Using “Pull Marketing” tactics, you could present yourself as…

OFFICE MANAGEMENT: Financial Analysis | Operations Accounting | Customer Service | Database Administration

-or-

Using the more narrative “Push Marketing” tactics, you could present yourself as…

Resourceful OFFICE MANAGER, skilled in Financial Analysis, Operations Accounting, Customer Service, and Database Administration

You’ll want to use all the space available to you in your headline if possible as this is where search engines ‘look’ first, leaving  your “digital footprints” throughout your usage of LinkedIn’s functionality.  Your ‘editing window’ will stop you at the maximum character level.

SUMMARY

The SUMMARY is one of the most important parts of the jigsaw and usually the first thing people will read on your profile. While there’s no strict template to stick to, there are certain approaches and techniques that have proved successful.

Tackling the 500# Gorilla in Job Search

chalk1Lack of knowledge regarding the process. If you don’t understand the interactive nature of networking, now’s the time to learn. To be an effective net-worker, you need to be willing to serve as a conduit, sharing information, building relationships based on trust and reciprocity, leveraging existing relationships to create new ones, and following through to create ways to stay in touch to continue giving.

Those who don’t fully understand the process, who use people for information and never build the relationship, or return the favor, give networking a bad name and lose credibility in the eyes of others.


NEXT Session: Thursday, March 8th… Implementing your Personal Marketing Plan: Creating and sustaining the ‘waves’ of networking


Pilot OnboardNetworking is about building trust and respect, not tearing away at it! Be aware of the effectiveness of networking. Most people in a job search spend too much time canvassing the open job market, the market everyone gets to see through job posting boards and recruiters.  APPLYING for jobs is quite less effective than networking your way toward your next right opportunities.

So, you don’t want to ask for a favor, eh?  Many people think that when you network you’re asking someone for a job. But this is not the goal of networking. When you network, you never ask for a job. You ask for information about an industry, company, or position.  On those phone calls, you are not seeking JOB consideration, rather advice, information and referrals (remember the acronym A.I.R.)

The Careerpilot understands that it’s not comfortable talking to people you don’t know. Sixty percent (60%) of the population consider themselves shy. This perception leads to less networking. If the prospect of speaking to someone you don’t know is overwhelming right now, start to build your network by talking with people you do know such as friends, family, neighbors, or your doctor or dentist.

Fear of rejection. Many people fear that if they ask for information the other person might not be willing to talk to them. While it is true that not everyone will agree to meet with you, many people will extend help to you and you have nothing to lose by asking.

If they can lead you to others who can help you gain necessary information for your search, your network will grow in a steady, comfortable way.  …And at the same time, your confidence and comfort will be growing.  And as your confidence grows, “listen” for the anticipated jobs (PRE-requisition) and the opportunities for undefined roles…

Learn to embrace this OTHER Job Market… but the pathway to IT is through your comfort level in identifying and pursuing the unpublished, or hidden marketplace.

Far fewer explore the hidden market; the actual jobs that are never posted, but instead are filled through connections, internal endorsements, and post-interview placements into a better fitting role  The odds of finding a position through the smaller, hidden market are greater than those in the open market.

You may want to do it on your own. When you’re selected for a position, it’s because you have the skills to support the needs of the position. You showcase your individual accomplishments and differentiate yourself from the competition.

But in order to tell your stories to the right person you need to cast a wide net. You leverage your network to find the right audience, not to get the job.

You may be uncomfortable talking about yourself. Many of us were raised to be humble and not to brag. Networking and interviewing requires that you talk about yourself and your accomplishments.

Consider the use of the ‘third-person’ when discussing your own merits.  When you talk about your skills, you’re not bragging. It’s only bragging if your discussion contains false hyperbole.  OR, you may have concerns about others knowing your business. Feeling too proud to tell people you’re in a job search?

Examine the cause. Have you assumed that networking is asking for a job? Next, examine the consequences. If you fail to incorporate networking as a method of search, it may take you much longer to find a job.

Expecting things to move too quickly. Networking is an ongoing process. Like a child, your network needs time to grow and you need to nurture it along the way. You must pay attention to your network to keep relationships strong. Many contacts are not able to lead you to the person capable of making a hiring decision.

You must constantly “stir the pot” to effectively network.  Maintain consistent, and in-sync presentation of all your personal marketing collateral materials within your network… and it will in turn take care of you.  Nurture your network, building toward ‘top-of-mind’ awareness of your potential candidacy.

Your Digital Footprint

Compass-seaLJust as the competent sailor must select their destination in order to have a successful voyage, so must the productive and efficient job seeker know what is a right work opportunity to identify, proceed toward…and secure!  While this seems like an incredible over-simplification, mere ‘common sense,’ it is knowledge that eludes most unemployed people.  You see, when you’re employed you tend to assume that your employer will help you to navigate those ‘next steps’ in your career.

Ah, but when you’ve lost your job, your fellow employees, and your employer… WHOA… the rules seem to have changed!


This Week’s session:  Your LinkedIn Primer, TASK#1 and TASK#2…Creating your Profile and extending your network.


chalk1Just what IS a right work opportunity for YOU?

While a sailor’s journey could be defined by its destination, his success is determined by the course he selects, and, most significantly, having an appropriate ship to make the passage as smooth as possible.

In Steps #1 and #2 of our 12-step process we learn to assess (know the features of our ship) and set our objective (select our destination and course) so that we can develop a GREAT Resume, one that allows our future employer to help navigate our journey, thus we embrace the OTHER job market!

What YOU Do Best, and are motivated to do for a future employer…

What do you do best?  What are your strongest transferable skills?  Think broadly in terms of managerial and technical/ functional strengths involved in what you have to offer.  Discovering your “pattern of success and satisfaction” is your goal, here.  Your ability to express the collection of your functional strengths will measure your marketability.

This collection of keywords and their supportive evidence creates your communication strategy, the basis of your value proposition.

The old “round peg in a round role” theory of career planning is dysfunctional.  In the typical professional environment today, job descriptions are changing faster than ever before to keep up with the challenges of an economy in transition.

In the traditional job market, job seekers are the sellers and their potential employers are the buyers.  The commodity is JOBs and the competition is fierce.

In 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.  

Your personal brand cannot be desperate, or your brand will not help you. It will hurt you, in fact.  What hiring manager would have confidence in your ability to walk into their department and make a difference when your branding says you aren’t sure what you do professionally?

When your LinkedIn profile says “Multi-skilled Business Professional” you have already eliminated most of your potential audience.

They’re not looking for a Multi-Skilled Business Professional.

Who in history ever was?

Hiring managers have pain in specific areas.  When you have pain in your body, it’s specific, too. Nobody says “I have pain!”

They have a back ache, a tooth ache or a pain in their knee. You can’t brand yourself to appeal to everybody — that’s not how branding works!  Good personal branding is more specific than any of these overly general self-descriptors:

Diverse background in aerospace, consumer products and legal services  (who cares what you did already, unless you want to do it again? Tell us what you intend to do, and why you’re qualified for it!)

Skilled at Marketing, Sales, Operations and Customer Support (what does this even mean? No one who has dug into any of these functions in depth would continue to describe themselves as skilled at all four!)

Trainer/Instructor/Instructional Designer/Training Specialist (tell us what you are dying to do most of all. Commit! The world will reward your belief in yourself)

What’s a better branding approach? Choose the sweet spot at the place where your experience, your talents and employers’ pain intersect.  You’ll find that sweet spot by thinking about and writing down your favorite activities and favorite past roles, as well as things you love to do and are good at outside of work. Then, you’ll check out job ads to learn which positions companies are looking for.

Many people are confused about their career direction. That’s okay. You can leave your overly-broad branding on LinkedIn until you figure out what you want to be when you grow up — at least for this job search!

Read LinkedIn profiles to spot job titles, job descriptions and specific responsibilities that sound like a fit for you. Now, brand yourself for the jobs you really want — not every job you’re qualified for:

  • Freelance Travel Writer and Editor
  • Sales Manager for Pharma/Neutraceuticals
  • Office Manager/Bookkeeper Seeking Overbooked CEO to Support
  • Startup Marketing Manager with Press Contacts

Your LinkedIn branding is important because it tells the world how you see yourself.

Networking is a CONTACT Sport

chalk1Job search does not happen in a digital vacuum.  You have learned in earlier sessions that the key to the whole notion of productive and efficient networking is to generate INTERACTIVE communication, the initial basis of relationship building!

When involved with active job search, part of our preparation is to develop your set of Personal Marketing collateral materials.   I have long suggested that steps one and two of our 12-step Process M.A.P. give us all the ingredients we need to “get in the galley” and cook up a three course meal of our personal marketing collateral materials.


This week’s session, Thursday, December 7th:  Implementing Your Personal Marketing Plan during the HOHoholidaze ahead


Pilot OnboardWhile most job seekers seem to prefer starting with a resume, so that they can begin simply applying to any job that seems remotely close to what they can do… I encourage you to work with all your ingredients at the same time…if your desired result is a nice prime rib dinner, don’t start with the meat—start with the seasonings and vegetables, even get your dessert started…

Because that “meaty” resume is the easiest and quickest of what you need to prepare!  So…job seeking ‘chefs,’ let’s look at the ingredients that you have identified through assessment of your galley shelves, and your dinner of choice.

WHERE To Start

As a contact sport, networking is about interaction between sender and receiver, buyer and seller… job seeker and potential employers. The great news is that you get to start from YOUR ‘sweet spot’ or middle ground where all this interaction occurs the easiest!

You start with people that you already know or have some connection to. If your ‘natural network’ doesn’t have a regular meeting—most do not, by their very diverse nature—groups of like-minded people are easy to identify and attend. As you begin to reach out and broaden your ‘sweet spot,’ be selective in your attempt to create a supportive ‘community’ grouping close to your targeted marketplace.

Networking within your targeted marketplace, your unique, job search ‘community’ should play a critical role in your Personal Marketing strategies. It is an easy means to getting the word out about your business to people who may purchase and influence others to purchase your service or goods. But just as with any other job search activity, we get what we put into it.

That being said, local networking events are seeing record turnouts lately, a sign that leads us to believe the networking is paying off. A Local Networking Group is any organization, which meets on a regular basis, to share and receive referrals and leads.

Some of the largest local organizations devoted to supporting job seeker efforts are  Frisco Connect, Cathedral of Hope, the Southlake Group, Watermark Church… to name just a few. Many are associated with church support organizations… but are completely nondenominational in their approach, operation and outreach.

WHAT to start with if you have a huge personal contact network to start with… great! Start by prioritizing your list into three sub categories… Seasoned networkers with terrific phone and interview skills will undoubtedly start their networking efforts at the “B” and “SEE” list levels… but for the ‘normal’ job seeker this represents pre-mature activity.

Use the earlier preparation steps, practice time, and your first several ‘baby steps’ to develop your effectiveness BEFORE having to perform for your best contacts. “Don’t shoot yourself in the foot.” Further, try to avoid the temptation to respond to your sense of urgency in securing your next employment, with lack of adequate preparation and planning— the first seven steps—don’t be guilty of… “Ready… FIRE… Aim” It is as easy as a-b-c…

YOUR DISTRIBUTION NETWORK

Steps six and seven of our 12-step Process M.A.P., initial research and pulling together your initial contact list are in place to create focus to your efforts… What are the trends in the market that are attractive to you, and which target organizations are most needy of your value proposition?

Your evolving contact list will take you through the A-B-C’s of networking and the development of your distribution channels…

  1. Start with people you already know or have reason to “should know,” as they are the most likely to be receptive to your initial efforts.
  2. As you develop your network, identify key bridge contacts that can give you specific information or introduce you to key decision-makers and hiring authorities.
  3. Critical to your success is building relationships with people who can influence your hiring. This ‘must see’ list of influential contacts and hiring authorities is the epicenter of your job search campaign!

BABY STEPS Revisited Be your own best coach… pay homage to the demon in the room, TECHNOLOGY, specifically social media… and your own communication preferences. Even the most passive communicators must learn to engage and interact… but with whom?

Use your FREE LinkedIn account to organize your contact list and to function like a road map of who to network to next. Once identified, get on the phone and meet your newest “A” list contact.

You’ll never know when a ‘hidden gem’ of a “B” or “See” list contact will materialize in the process. When you’re networking, ask for a reference, not a job. Whether you’re doing catch-up drinks or grabbing lunch to reconnect, your main goal is to get an ally, not a tally of job listings.

Recruiting a helping hand to your search is your aim.

So don’t ask your college buddy if he knows of any jobs for people like you. How would he know? And don’t ask your boss from two jobs ago if she has the names of any people who are currently looking to hire somebody like you. It puts her on the spot. No, instead, ask for their advice, some information, or a reference.

Hmmmm… JOB vs. A.I.R.

Mention that you’re going to be moving on, or you’re already looking, or that you’re actively “out there looking.”   Let them know the type of positions that are a good CareerFIT for you, and what you’re hoping to achieve in your next opportunity. And, if appropriate, ask them if — when it gets to the actual interviewing process — it would be OK to use them as a reference.

By letting them know that you hold them in high enough esteem to potentially use them as a reference, you’re actually paying them a compliment. By not putting them on the spot about specific job openings, you eliminate making them consider you as a Yes-NO-Maybe “applicant,” thus reducing the awkwardness inherent in the networking conversation.

You’re also making it easier for them to say “yes”, or convey useful information… or simply to feel good about themselves for being a good friend and helping you out with this little favor. All of which means that you have a new buddy in your search — one who’s going to be thinking about keeping an eye out for new opportunities and an ear open for fresh possibilities for their reference-able friend: you.

Now, this doesn’t work for just any old person you meet on the street. There’s probably a pretty good match between people you’d take to lunch and those you could ask to be a reference. So my advice would be to stick to asking those you know well enough.

Being realistic, the widely offered and deeply wrong advice from past decades of job search tricks and tips… that you should try to extract favors, concessions, names, jobs, and career assistance from people you’ve only met over the phone is not only useless, it can be counterproductive to your aims by antagonizing your broader network.