11 job-search blunders I find hard to believe

scaleSome things I find hard to believe; like I stepped on my scale this morning expecting to be two pounds heavier, due to weekend of overeating, and I was actually two pounds lighter.

Or I deliver the best workshop of my life and receive less than stellar evaluations. What about my wife still talking to me after I haven’t installed a new screen door on our house three weeks after she’d asked me to?

Other things I find hard to believe are things that jobseekers do in their job search. For example:

  1. After getting laid off, they think it’s a great time for a three-month vacation, especially during the summer. Take a week off and then start your job search is my advice. Some downtime is healthy, but the longer you’re out, the harder it will be to get a job.
  2. They tell me they have no accomplishments to list on their résumé, so they have a résumé that looks like a grocery list of duty statements. One jobseeker told me that in five years of working at a company he hadn’t achieved anything great. Come on, try, guy.
  3. They send the same résumé to employers thinking targeted cover letters will address the requirements of a job. One customer admitted he sends out the same résumé but makes sure to tailor the cover letter to meet the employers’ needs. Half way there.
  4. Related to #3: They don’t send cover letters with their résumés. Come on, it only takes an hour at most to write a cover letter that elaborates more on your qualifications and accomplishments. Unless specifically told not to send a cover letter, send one.
  5. They think it’s acceptable to dress like they’re going to the gym while they’re in public. You’re always in the hunt and you never know when someone who has the authority to hire you—or knows someone who has the authority to hire you—will bump into you in the grocery store.
  6. Speaking of networking…they think going to networking events are the only places networking is allowed. Newsflash, networking is ongoing and happens wherever, whenever someone is willing to listen. Next time you’re getting your hair styled or cut, put a bug in the ear of your hairstylist.
  7. They start a LinkedIn profile and just leave it there like a wilting plant. Do you think doing this will create a positive impression on recruiters and employers? No, it will do more harm than good. Having a profile is one part of the equation; being active is another part. Be active on LinkedIn.
  8. They spend the majority of their time on the computer, posting résumés to Monster, SimplyHired, the Ladders, etc. Richard Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute, says your chance of success is between 5%-10% when using this method alone. To me this is not a great use of jobseeking time.
  9. They spend mere minutes researching companies and the jobs for which they apply before an interview. Really now, don’t you owe employers the respect of being able to articulate why you want to work at their company and do the job they’re advertising? Do your research.
  10. They expect recruiters to work for them. Who pays the recruiters’ bills? Recruiters work for employers, and any optimism you hear in their voice is to give you confidence when vying for the position, not to indicate you have the job. They’re busy people who don’t always have time to answer your phone calls or e-mails, so don’t feel slighted.
  11. They don’t send a thank you note to employers after an interview. I know, people say it’s a waste of time; but don’t go about your job search in a half-ass way. Thank you notes are an extension of the interview and could make you or…break you.

If you’re committing all of these blunders, or even some of them, consider correcting these aspects of your job search. I’m curious to know of any blunders that come to your mind. Let’s add them to the list.

The second of 3 steps for a successful LinkedIn campaign: connecting with others

linkedin2

Previously we looked at the components of a strong LinkedIn profile, the first step for a successful LinkedIn campaign. Now we’ll look at connecting with other LinkedIn members.

As I sit with a customer to critique her profile, I think the work she’s done is a good start. Though her profile looks like a rehash of her résumé, at least she has all the sections filled in. Then my eyes drift to the right in her Snapshot area and I see how many connections she has, 10.

I ask her why she has so few connections, to which she replies that she has only 10 “friends” she could think of inviting to her network. Further, when she’s invited to someone’s network, she declines because she doesn’t know the people.

This leads me to lecture her on how it’s important to invite more people and accept invitations from people she doesn’t know, as long as there’s a purpose behind connecting with said people. But I see it doesn’t register with her. Connect with strangers? Her face says no.

Her concern isn’t unusual, especially for people first starting out on LinkedIn. This raises three questions: who do you connect with, how do you connect with other LinkedIn members, and how many people do you connect with? These have been the questions LinkedIn members have been wrestling with since its inception. Let’s look at these questions.

Who do you connect with?

In my LinkedIn workshop I explain to the attendees that they should look at people with whom they connect as a pyramid. The goal is to connect with as many second degree connections as you see fit.

  • On the lowest level are the people with whom you worked, e.g., former colleagues and supervisors. These 2nd degree connections will get you started on your LinkedIn campaign. You are limiting yourself, however, if you stay with this small group of people.
  • The next level are people who share the same occupation and in the same industry. These people are like-minded with similar aspirations. They are willing to engage in online conversations and most likely will be in groups you will join.
  • The level above are people who share the same occupation but in a different industry. If you’re a marketing specialist, look for other marketing specialists in industries into which you can transition. Your switch from manufacturing to construction is a likely move, as well as education to social services.
  • Next investigate people in other occupations but in the same industry. This will provide possible opportunities at your target companies. For example, if you’re an engineer who’s worked in DOD, you may reach out to marketers, sales people, and quality assurance professionals at your dream companies, such as Raytheon, BAE, Mitre, etc.
  • The fifth level includes people in other occupations in other industries. This seems counter intuitive to some but if you think about the possibilities, you may adjust your thinking. A quality assurance professional in DOD might consider connecting with teachers, career advisors, and marketers who are privy to opportunities in his desired industry.
  • The last level consists of people who can directly affect your chances of getting a job. Now shoot higher and reach out to the, hiring managers, VPs, directors, etc. This is the level some people are afraid to approach but shouldn’t. If an introduction is in order, you’ll now have 1st degree connections at your level who can make the introduction.

How do you connect with other LinkedIn members?

There are a number of ways to connect with LinkedIn members. This article I wrote goes into greater detail of five ways you can connect with someone on LinkedIn. However, I want to talk about how you search for people with whom to connect. In my LinkedIn workshop I tell my attendees that typing in an occupation is one step toward finding people.

From there, you select 2nd degree connections. Most likely your first degrees will appear at the top, but you can’t connect to them, as you’re already connected. Read through the profiles of your second degrees to see if they’re anyone you’d like to have in your network. You could choose program managers in telemarketing, for example, and confine your search to the Denver area.

Another way to look for valuable connections is using the Find Alumni feature, which is relatively new and a great way to connect with LinkedIn members who are more likely to connect with you than mere strangers.

Note: when asking someone to connect with you make sure your note is personal and not the default message that LinkedIn provides in an effort to make connecting quick and easy. That said, I’m not a fan of connecting with people by using your smart phone or trolling your e-mail list of contacts and sending a mass invite. I see this as lazy.

Tip: You can troll your groups and connect directly to people because you have something in common, you’re in the same group. Being in the same group/s is how I justify connecting with people I don’t know. Just go to the Member tab in your group/s and type in keywords that will pull up people of common interest.

How many people do you connect with?

The growing debate is whether to strive for quality or quantity. I personally aim for a combination of both. With quality–300 or so–you’re connected with people who share the same interests and goals. The first three levels of the pyramid would be an easy way to understand this. But this is limited.

Those who connect with many people are sometimes referred to LinkedIn Open Networkers (LIONS). While they appear to be concerned about collecting connections, people who aim for numbers create more, yet uncertain, opportunities. One example I give in my workshop is the business owner who increases his marketing by appearing on more people’s homepages. Free advertisement.

Next we’ll look at the third of three components necessary for a successful LinkedIn campaign, being active on LinkedIn.

 

When the interviewer is doing 100% of the talking

Have you experienced a situation like this at an early-stage interview–you’re excited to be there, a bit nervous expecting the difficult questions to be fired at you, but the interviewer is doing 100% the talking?

Then toward the end of the interview, you ask if he wants to ask you any questions, to which he replies, “No, I read your résumé. We’re good to go.” You’re wondering what the hell happened. You didn’t have the opportunity to sell your skills, experience, and accomplishments.

Some of my customers complain to me about similar scenarios, while others tell me they felt relieved and grateful for not having to talk. Those who felt relieved erroneously believe the interviewers were doing them a huge favor.

Interviewers who do all the talking are not doing you a favor; they’re hogging your precious time. And although you’re nervous at the time, it’s essential that you achieve what you went there for–to sell yourself.

You never want to come across as controlling the interview, but sometimes you have to break in so you can inform the interviewer why you are the right person for the job.

So how do you break into the conversation?

First of all, don’t make assumptions. One assumption might be that it’s an inside hire and the interviewer is just trying to take up time. Another might be that the company is required by law or according to their policy to interview a few candidates. There are a number of reasons why the interviewer is blabbing like a fool, but chances are he’s simply self-absorbed and unaware of his duty.

Know when enough is enough. After the interviewer has rattled on for a number of minutes, it’s time to put a halt to the monolog. There’s a chance the interviewer might get on a roll and sabotage the whole process.

Don’t get belligerent. Saying, “Aren’t you going to ask me questions?” won’t leave a good impression. You’ll come across as rude and trying to control the interview.

Break into the conversation in a seamless manner. “The management around here leaves a lot to be desired,” he is saying. This is your cue to answer one of the most popular questions; what kind of manager do you prefer?

“Where I last worked, management was very good,” you break in. “They were fair, communicative, and had their priorities in order. I’ve worked under many different management styles from hands-off to hands-on. I’ve thrived wherever I’ve worked because I can adapt to all types of styles.”

Later he says, “Our customers are very needy. They require a lot of hand-holding–a real bunch of idiots.”

You counter, “Interacting with difficult customers is one of my fortes. In fact, many of the difficult customers were routed my way because I had a very patient attitude which the customers could sense. I managed to revive many failed customer relations.”

This may put a halt to the interviewer’s loquaciousness, or he may continue to drone on and on. But you can’t give up your efforts of getting yourself heard. The next time you hear a break in his monolog, engage him again by summarizing your job-related skills and accomplishments, declaring you’re the person for the job.

At the end of the interview inform him that you’ll send along an e-mail outlining how you can address many of the problems he was so kind to elaborate on. You may want to ask him if you should forward it to his manager and HR.

The first of 3 steps for a successful LinkedIn campaign: creating a presence

linkedin2Some of my LinkedIn workshop attendees have told me they were encouraged to join LinkedIn because LinkedIn is the answer to their job search. I cringe when I hear this because what they were told is only partly true.

Being on LinkedIn will increase your chance of getting a job, but it isn’t a guarantee, especially if you don’t understand what it takes to be successful on LinkedIn.

I tell my workshop attendees their LinkedIn strategy involves 1) creating a presence, e.g. your profile, 2) connecting with others, and 3) being active. Without all three, your LinkedIn campaign will crash and burn.

Creating a presence. Let me make this easy for jobseekers who are starting their LinkedIn campaign. Leverage what you’ve already created, your professional résumé, by copying and pasting it to your profile. However, don’t stop there. After doing this you need to revise it to reflect a networking document.

Many pundits have written about how to create a powerful profile, so I’ll simply outline the necessary components:

Your Snapshot area is where you capture readers’ attention with your quality photo and branding headline. Don’t waste this area with a poorly done photo and a headline that simply states your title at your previous job. Both your photo and headline can brand you–a photo that shows you’re a professional and a headline that states your strong areas of expertise.

Let’s not forget how your headline can contribute to the keyword count. These are the skills recruiters/hiring managers/HR type into Search. Having the proper keywords and more instances of them will rank you higher and, consequentially, garner more visitors.

Make your Summary worth reading by writing it in first- or third-person point of view; include some Wow statements; and express your passion for what you do. You’re allowed 2,000 characters for you Summary, so use them all. This will allow you to tell your story, as well as give you more space for those ever important keywords. For more on this, read 4 reasons why you need a strong LinkedIn Summary.

Your Experience section can resemble your Work History from your résumé or you can simply highlight the accomplishments. I favor the latter, but some think their profile might be the only document an employer sees, so showing all is the way to go, duties included. One of the areas weighed heavily for keywords is the position’s title. You’re not limited to your title; you can add some areas of strength as well.

Ex. Project Manager | Budget | Lean Six Sigma | Cost Reduction | Leadership

The Media section is where your profile can be really dynamic. I tell my workshop attendees that it’s their online portfolio. There are a number of different media you can include in your Summary, Experience, and Education sections. On mine I share PowerPoint presentations and a link to my blog. Others, like my valued connection Anton Brookes, have YouTube videos and/or documents. What do you want to share with your LinkedIn visitors?

The Interests section is awesome. I don’t know why I love this area of the profile, but I always point it out to my workshop attendees with enthusiasm. Tell me where could you include such cool information on your résumé. I explain that this is similar to their Hobbies and Interests, but much more. Here are some snippets from my profile:

PERSONAL ME | Spending time with my familySpending too much time on LinkedInblogging about things career relatedchillin’ at Starbucks….PROFESSIONAL MELinkedIn trainingLinkedIn strategyLinkedIn profile critiquesLinkedIn profile writingLinkedIn for business marketing….

You’ll note these interests are hot links to people who also have these words on their profile. This is a great way to find people who also have interests in, say LinkedIn training or blogging.

Your Education is more than what you include on your résumé. It allows…or rather encourages you to expound on your degree and/or training. Along with the traditional information–college or university, dates attended (optional), GPA (also optional)–you’re given the option to include Activities and Societies, as well as Description.

Next we’ll look at the second of three components necessary for a successful LinkedIn campaign, connecting with other LinkedIn members.

3 places where introverts need to get away to recharge their batteries

alone at workLast year my family celebrated our daughter’s graduation from high school with a small celebration. We were near a lake and the temperature was in the 90’s. Many of our friends were there with their kids who immediately took to the water.

A perfect setting. I enjoyed conversing with our friends, as we talked about kids and past events; and I was particularly animated as I talked.

Then it hit me like a title wave. I needed time to get away and recharge my batteries. Did I care if company would miss me? Not really. As an introvert, group events can take a toll on me. I enjoy the company of others, but my energy level for talking with them is not as enduring as it is for extraverts.

Extraverts have that energy that drives them through a party; it charges their batteries. They derive mental stimulation by talking and being listened to. I don’t’ envy them, though. The time alone to watch the kids swimming in the lake or even sitting in silence next to another introvert is as rewarding as it is for extraverts to talk to others at length.

Small gathering is the first place that comes to mind where introverts need to get away. The following two are:

Networking events. As an introvert, you may find yourself enjoying a conversation with a few people, but suddenly it occurs to you that where you’d rather be is in a quiet place, perhaps outside getting some fresh air, or in a lit room.

What’s likely to happen is another introvert joining you, perhaps by mistake or because she saw you escaping to your place of reflection. This is fine, because it’s you and she making small talk, such as, “Had to get away from the crowd.” I know what you mean, she tells you. And so you’ve established a bond.

Like the time I stole away from our guest at my party, you’ve had the opportunity to recharge your batteries so you can return to the larger group, which is now in the “needs and leads” portion of the event. One of my LinkedIn connections told me this type of break is what she needs before returning to a business event and possibly an extended after hours. Sure, it may be time for some to retire to the hotel room, but she understands the value of personal networking and pushes herself to keep going.

Work. Some introverts enjoy the opportunity to take a lunch-time walk, while their colleagues, most likely extraverts, are gathered in the staff room engaged in a boisterous conversation. Walking alone or with a walking mate is a great way to recharge your batteries. I personally prefer listening to music or talk radio, as it allows me to walk at my rapid speed and lose myself in thoughts of the day.

If your fortunate to have an office or cubicle away from the fray, your getaway is convenient and doesn’t require leaving the office. This type of situation is ideal after a day full of meetings, not only to recharge your battery but also to respond to any e-mails following the meetings. Introverts are more productive when they have solitude and moments to reflect and write, something they prefer over meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Whether you’re at a family gathering, a networking event, or at work, getting away is important for maintaining a strong energy level. Introverts are capable of interaction for extended periods of time, but we’re more comfortable if we take time to get away. Don’t deny this opportunity and don’t feel as if you’re being antisocial. You’ll be happier and more productive if you tend to your preferred way to energize yourself.

3 awards earned by athletes and employees

Two years ago I attended my daughter’s spring award ceremony, which was held in a small auditorium with seats smaller and harder than the ones at Fenway Park.

The stench of body odor was growing stronger as the night wore on. High school award ceremonies are like amateur parades; you can’t wait for them to end.

There were at least 12 teams in all, starting with boys and girls track, followed by two-gender-ed sports like tennis, volleyball, lacrosse…until finally my daughters crew team walked onto the stage.

Sitting through two hellish hours was worth it because my daughter was given the “Coach’s Award” and named Captain of her crew team for next year.

The reason given for her receiving the award and being named captain was because she stepped up and took on responsibilities that no one would.

What came of that night was not only the fact that my daughter, who is a coxswain, earned her first major awards as a high school student; it also got me thinking about who stands out at work.

Who deserves to earn “Coach’s Award,” “Most Improved,” and “MVP” at work? Here’s my take on award winners at work.

Coach’s Award. This award is given to an employee who does everything possible to make her manager’s job easier. She volunteers to take on the mundane tasks of data entry when no one steps forward and won’t hesitate, nor complain, to man the front desk when the receptionist is out.

She demonstrates team spirit, always has a positive attitude that shows from her smile and in her eyes.

Most Improved. The Most Improved employee is the envy of many in the office because he has overcome his weaknesses and surpassed the performance of those who were at one point in time stronger.

He began as an entry level sales person and improved to the point where he’s now challenging the senior sales people.

It is through diligence and quick learning that enabled him to make the leaps necessary to supplant some of the other sales people.

MVP. The MVP performs her work beyond expectation, is a silent leader with a large presence. She is the thought leader in the organization. The MVP is humble and doesn’t take credit for accomplishments others have achieved.

She is affable and a comfort to other employers who may need her guidance, a true mentor. If anyone is indispensably, she is that person.

A successful organization, like a successful sports team, requires all three employees among its staff.

The employee who earns the Coaches Award is the glue that holds the organization together; the Most Improved gives others hope and something to strive for; and the MVP is simply the most valuable person, yet she doesn’t necessarily know it.

Do you deserve one of these awards or can think of someone who does? Why do you or others deserve one of these awards?

Extravert or Extrovert? Does it matter? My 3 reason for being contrary

jungA woman who comment on an article I wrote called 7 awesome traits of the introvert stated that she “loved” the article, but noted I misspelled “extrovert.”

I understand her confusion because there are two accepted spellings for this dichotomy on the introvert/extrovert spectrum of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The other is “extravert.” I prefer the latter.

I was aware of the two spellings before I began writing about introverts and extraverts. I was also aware that the “extrovert” spelling was the most common of the two. However, I made a conscious decision to run with the less common spelling.

Some would peg me as being a nonconformist or contrary. I began spelling the name of this dichotomy I think because “extra” means “outside” in Latin–as in outside oneself–and, most importantly, it was easier to remember.

However, the second reason is not a valid reason to spell a word a certain way, a way that is uncommon to most. So to justify my unconventional way of spelling this word, I decided to research the spelling of extravert/extrovert.

A fellow blogger, Bill McAneny, wrote on this a blog post on this topic, which appears first when you type in Google “extravert vs extrovert.” He defends his use “extravert” in his writing by quoting Carl Jung:

“Carl Gustav Jung first coined the terms and he was very clear:

Extraversion [sic] is characterized by interest in the external object, responsiveness, and a ready acceptance of external happenings, a desire to influence and be influenced by events, a need to join in…the capacity to endure bustle and noise of every kind, and actually find them enjoyable, constant attention to the surrounding world, the cultivation of friends and acquaintances… The psychic life of this type of person is enacted, as it were, outside himself, in the environment.

CJ Jung, Psychological Types, CW 6, pars. 1-7″

Further research on this subject–which now was becoming an obsession with me–led me to turn to Wikipedia, which uses “extraverstion” to describe the differences between the two dichotomies on the spectrum.

My search continued for a valid reason for the difference of spelling extravert.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary offers the “extrovert” spelling and “extravert” as an option. In other words, “extrovert” is the favorite child. I guess the dictionary has progressed to modern day times.

One blog claimed “extrovert” is bad Latin and recounts a story (hard to verify) where Jung was asked the question of which spelling is correct, to which Jung’s secretary replied on Jung’s behalf that “extrovert” is bad Latin.

The general feeling I get from this little issue is that the Latin spelling is being thrown out the window in favor of modern day jargon…rubbish.

At this point I’m thinking I’ve spent way too much time on this topic, and if you’ve read this far, you probably have better things to do. I have come up with three reasons why I will continue to write “extravert” rather than “extrovert”:

  1. I’ve spelled it this way in every post I’ve written and don’t feel like going through all of them and changing the spelling simply to satisfy people who don’t like it.
  2. It’s easy for me to remember…extra meaning “outside.”
  3. If it’s good enough for Carl Jung, it’s good enough for me.

These are my three reasons for being contrary. Next I’ll explain why I spell “jobseeker” and not “job seeker.” Or not.

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