The introver/extravert succeeds in 4 areas during the job search

18597408910_b4c98f58c9_zDo you know an introvert who is an active listener and can also make small talk with the best of them; is enthusiastic about writing and also enjoys speaking in public; and thinks before he acts, yet takes well-timed risks?

He’s an all-around person who combines the best of an introvert and an extravert. When it comes to the job search, this is exactly what the introvert jobseeker must become. Adopting characteristics of both types may be difficult, awkward, and exhausting; but he must maintain his focus on the endgame.

1. Being proactive. The introvert is reflective… focused…when it comes to the job search, but thinking too much about the proper ways to make that call to a desired employer can hinder her efforts. Making personal contact can cause paralysis if she’s unwilling to get outside her comfort zone.

The extravert, who’s been criticized for acting before thinking, can teach the introvert a lesson on taking action. She will do her sleuthing (LinkedIn, Google, or a connection within a company) for a hiring manager’s contact info and  pick up the phone to inquire about openings or secure an informational meeting.

2. Networking. The introvert is someone who will listen to a potential connection, ask insightful question, and actually retain the other networker’s answers. But have you ever encountered an awkward moment when you’re standing with someone and he’s not saying a word, just staring into his glass of wine? The silence is so loud that you can hear a pin drop.

This is when the extravert’s ability to engage in small talk must be emulated by the introvert to save the day. The extravert will fire up the conversation with talk of current events (not religious or political), inquiries about her new friend’s family, occupation, or sports, etc.

3. Marketing material. Because the introvert prefers written communications, writing résumés and cover letters should come easy to him. Research is essential in understanding employers’ needs and then describing how he can satisfy those needs. This is right up the introvert’s alley. How the introvert distributes his written material determines the success in getting it to the person that counts.

The introvert can again benefit from the extravert who will use his outgoing nature to distribute a résumé and cover letter in person, at an informational meeting or persuading the right person to hand them to the hiring manager. He will not spend hours a day blasting his written communications into the dark void known as the job boards.

4. The interview. The introvert prepares well for the interview. She has done her research on the position and company, as well as the industry. The difficult questions will not surprise her because of her preparation. She is reflective and this will come through during the interview. However, she may come across as too reflective, not spontaneous enough.

The extravert, on the other hand is all about spontaneity. She is outgoing, gregarious, and feels comfortable making small talk. The introvert can benefit from her extraverted side by adopting these traits. She must also remember to smile and show enthusiasm.

The introvert and extravert can make a good team. For some introverts, all of this is easier said than done. That’s why jobseekers should help each other in their search. Both have strengths from which the other can benefit, so it makes sense that two jobseekers combine forces to achieve their goals.

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15 reasons why companies should hire mature workers

I woke up this morning with the same neck pain that’s been plaguing me for two weeks. I developed the pain when I was toweling off after a shower and WHAM, it felt like someone stuck a knife in my neck. Sometimes life sucks getting older.

I may be getting older, but I’m not too humble to say I’m good at what I do. I get to work early and often leave late. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m driving my kids around town almost every night, I’d probably take on another job. I like working and know many people my age who do as well.

So I wonder why some companies are downright ignorant and won’t hire mature workers like me. Don’t they realize we have a wealth of experience and a truckload of accomplishments, not to mention life experience that allows us to handle small problems our teenagers can’t? Don’t they know mature workers want to work?

One of my favorite workshops that I lead is called Mature Worker. In this workshop we laugh, kvetch, and sometimes cry about our unemployment status. What we wonder is why employers don’t see the value we bring to the table. Yeah we have experience that younger workers don’t, but we have much more:

  1. We can party. That’s right; we can party with the best of them. We just don’t do it the night before work and especially the night preceding a tradeshow.
  2. We are dependable. Did you ever notice who’s always at work and always on time? That’s us. We don’t have the responsibilities we once had when we attended school events, stayed home during snow days, and tended to our children when they were sick.
  3. We have better taste in music. Lady Gaga? AC/DC, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, and U2 are more our style.
  4. We’ve been there done that. We’ve made our share of mistakes; and unless we’re total morons, we don’t repeat them. This speaks to our life experience.
  5. We have no life. We’ll volunteer to come in to work over the weekend, because no one younger than us will.
  6. We can still talk on the phone. Our interpersonal skills are exceptional, because we aren’t texting all the time like our kids are.
  7. We know technology? Case in point, a 60+ year-old jobseeker told our Mature Worker group that he had saved his former company considerable time when he reduced a process from 60 minutes to 6 minutes by converting a program from Java to C++.
  8. We work smarter, not harder. “Done right the first time” has real meaning with the mature worker. Let others work at break-neck speed and repeat their actions; don’t take our focus and steady work as being slow.
  9. We’re great at customer service. We’ve waited in line at Wal-Mart, McDonalds, and other places where cashiers were distracted by their coworkers of the opposite gender. We realize how important it is to satisfy the customer.
  10. We’re confident in our skills. We know we can lead projects, coordinate teams of 25 people, run a global marketing campaign, etc. Can we still do a bicycle kick? Hell no.
  11. We are composed. Many of us have been through the ringer. We’ve suffered losses. We’ve raised our kids to be responsible individuals. This life experience has prepared us to keep our heads and remain calm.
  12. We can laugh at ourselves. So maybe my memory isn’t what it used to be, but it was funnier than hell when I wore two different shoes to work. No problem, I had an extra pair in my cube.
  13. We cope well. See number 12.
  14. We’re mature. We appreciate a good time or two, but the office is professional. Gone are the days when I would toss the Nerf football around the office or put Vaseline on my colleagues’ telephone receivers or put rubber eyeballs in the water cooler. (That was a good one.)
  15. We’re everywhere. Have you ever noticed that a large majority of CEO’s, presidents, VP’s, and managers are mature workers? You can’t get rid of us…unless you want the ship to sink.

I don’t know when my neck will feel better or when I’ll reduce my walking time, but I know that, like fine wine that ages with time, I’ll only get better at what I do on the job. As time goes on, I’ll impart my wisdom, level-headedness, and sense of humor on those who are less fortunate than mature workers.

Posted in Career Management, Career Search | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

5 reasons why LinkedIn Recommendations should get more respect

2588549937_45586e1977_mIn my house the basement is designated for the stuff we barely use or bicycles that my kids ride in warm weather. It’s not the type of basement that is a finished “man cave.”

I give it no thought until the furnace or water heater need repair, or I have to retrieve the lawnmower to cut the grass.

Of all the items in my basement that I couldn’t move if I wanted to are the furnace and water heater…not that I’d want to. They’re better off down there.

So when I consider the LinkedIn profile and how you can move certain sections around at will, I think about one important section that is, as I tell my LinkedIn workshop attendees, buried in the basement like my furnace and water heater.

Can you guess which one I’m talking about? I won’t keep you in suspense; it’s the Recommendations section.

LinkedIn has made a statement. Like my forgotten stuff and rarely used bicycles, recommendations have lost the value they once had. We encourage business people and jobseekers to ask for recommendations, but given that they’ve are shunned by LinkedIn, why should we talk about them as if they’re a valuable piece of the profile?

What we talk about now are endorsements. But recommendations, to many, are more substantive than endorsements; they mean more.  (Read about my love/hate relationship with endorsements here.)

Do you remember when recommendations were required to meet 100% completion or All Star status? No longer is that the case. That’s right, you must have at least five endorsements on your way to stardom.

1. Once considered one of the most important sections of the profile. Recommendations were once the rave of the LinkedIn profile; some considered them the profile’s best feature. Recruiters only had to read them to see your excellence. They could make a quick decision on whether to contact you or not.

But recommendations are more difficult to write than endorsements are to give. So eventually we’ve seen the number of recommendations decrease in favor of the all popular endorsements, which promote engagement and…laziness.

2. Say more about the recipient. This argument is so tired that I’m tired of saying it, but I will. A recommendation is a testament, in the words of others, of your excellence. And we know the words of others say more about you than what you say about yourself. If written with thoughtfulness, a recommendation can be gold.

An article from FastCompany,  Is this part of you LinkedIn profile hurting your job search?, describes the virtues of recommendations. But it also warns against accepting recommendations that are fluffy. The author writes: “This is an opportunity for you to showcase testimonials about you and your work, but too often, what appears are “fluffy, non-specific recommendations that can do more harm than good.”

3. Say something about the writer. Someone who supervised you is demonstrating his authority and the values he holds in an employee. When asked to write a recommendation for you without any guidance, he is going to think about what he considered made you a great employee. If he values teamwork, communication skills, expertise, problem solving; these values will show in his writing.

I always advise my workshop attendees to take care when they write recommendations for others, which means produce well-written recommendations. The reason is obvious; visitors are going to read your writing and will make judgments on your content and how well you write.

4. They are testimonials for business owners. When LinkedIn designated recommendations to the basement, I heard a collective grown from business owners who relied not on supervisors or colleagues, but on the most important people, their customers. The reason for their disappointment was obvious; recommendations were great advertisement; they were testimonies of the greatness of their work.

One self-employed resume writer had approximately 70 recommendations which he proudly displayed after his Summary section. In fact, he made a point of mentioning his recommendations in the Summary. He knew the importance of recommendations to his business. But one day Poof they went, landing in the basement.

5. Show when you apply for a job through LinkedIn. I recently learned from a valued connection that when you use your LinkedIn profile to apply for a position advertised on LinkedIn’s Jobs feature; among the information they look at are the names of your recommendations. They don’t look at the number of your endorsements; perhaps a statement of how employers feel about the importance of endorsements.

It seem obvious that recommendations are valued by LinkedIn users and recruiters, so why are they designated to the basement? What can those of us do about the disrespect LinkedIn has shown recommendations?

We can write occasional updates expressing our concern or outrage. We can begin discussions in “official” LinkedIn groups. Finally, we can write long posts like this one, hoping that others will feel the outrage that I feel.

Photo: Flickr, deathbymower

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Four things you can do to keep your clients out of their “panic zone”

Jim2Guest writer, Jim Peacock, writes about the stretch zone, which is between the comfort and freak out zones. This resonated with me; the fact that we need to take action and not fear failure…rather expect it.

Get out of your comfort zone.” We’ve all heard this but some people think that there is only one zone beyond “comfort” and they call it “panic” or “freakout”.  Bryan Murphy who recently took a seminar from me explains to his students that there are actually three zones to think about.

Comfort zone, where no learning takes place. People are complacent here and often go through the motions that they are doing something.

Freakout or panic zone, again, where no learning takes place. When you freakout, you shut down, not much good is going to happen here.

But what lies in between is the key. In between comfort and panic is a zone that Bryan calls the stretch zone. This is where learning can happen.

Read more…

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4 areas career strategists need to understand to be more effective


I recently sat with a customer (client) to critique his LinkedIn profile. A rare moment occurred when I drew a blank and couldn’t suggest verbiage for his Summary.  Perhaps it was fatigue or looking at a profile that was as exciting as watching paint dry or maybe I didn’t have a complete understanding of what a chemistry lab technician does. Whatever it was, it got me to thinking about our role as career strategists.

As career strategist (career advisors, workshop facilitators, Veteran reps, disability advisors, job coaches, etc.) we sometimes hit brick walls like the one I describe above. I believe there are four major areas of the job search we must understand in order to be most effective. The four areas are:

1. Understanding hiring authorities, e.g., recruiters/hiring managers/HR. This is one area on which career strategists need to focus more of their attention. The two players in the job search (career strategist and hiring authorities) seem miles apart in terms of knowledge of each other. On the career strategists’ part, could this be due to a lack of desire to learn because they see it as not important?

This is what I know about hiring authorities. They’re trying to find the ideal candidate (purple squirrel) who can hit the ground running, performing the responsibilities with no to very little training. A personality fit is important but not as important as the ability to perform the job requirements quickly. This proves to be a mistake occasionally, as an employee may not be a cultural fit in the organization.

All hiring authorities are overworked, particularly internal or third-party recruiters who must interview as many as 20 candidates a day and present a manageable number of candidates for the hiring managers to interview (4-10 candidates), which varies depending on the company.

Complaints I hear from hiring authorities start with having very little time to do their job properly. (Read this post to see what I mean.)  They continue with poorly written resumes that 1) are not proofread, 2) don’t fit the job advertised, 3) are simply lists of duties with no accomplishments. Poor interview performances that make them scratch their head is huge complaint. Finally, having the right candidate withdraw from consideration.

2. Understanding industries and job roles. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know exactly what a nuclear engineer does, but I can fudge it when push comes to shove. Whereas one career strategist feels comfortable representing an operations manager in manufacturing, another may not. To do our job properly, we must understand who we’re presenting. This includes knowing how to write their résumés, LinkedIn profiles, who to network with, and how to prepare for interviews.

Some jobseekers are glad to school us on their profession, while others may get irritated if we don’t know the duties of, say, a civil engineer. I recall one of my colleagues feeling inadequate after one of her customer told her he felt she didn’t know enough about what he does and, therefore, he felt like he was wasting his time. Career strategists must take an active role in learning about what their customers do.

What’s the solution? We could learn as we go, but that takes a long time, particularly since a petroleum engineer comes around every five years. Second, we could use sources like the Occupational Outlook Handbook, but this is a source that offers general information and is somewhat outdated. Lastly, we could be honest and ask our customers to explain exactly what they do and what they’ve accomplished.

3. Understanding the customer. Directly related to understanding what our customers do in terms of their industry and job is understanding their motivation for doing what they do. I’ve talked with jobseekers who talk about their occupation with enthusiasm. It’s as if they would do the job for free. On the other hand, I’ve spoken with customers who sound like leaving their past job was the best thing for them.

I sat with a former software tester for a résumé critique. He was let go for allowing his wife access to sensitive information. First he appeared un-enthused, but when he talked about his work, he came to life. What about customers who show no interest in what they did? This is when we have to broach the subject of a career change. This is never an easy subject, for it challenges the customer to think about what she wants to do. Example, one of my customers was a dental assistant and hated it. She knows she wants to work with Veterans because she’s one herself.

Before understanding a customer’s occupation and industry, it’s important to know where she is emotionally. This is sometimes overlooked by career strategist who might assume their customer is fine because all seems fine on the surface; when in fact the customer may be suffering internally. (I’ll admit to advising my customers to fake it till they make it. But in private, it is different.) Many times my customers have struggled to hold back tears as we were talking about nothing in particular. At any moment customers will break down because of their frail state of mind. This leads me to the next and final area.

4. Understanding the role of the career strategist. One mistake career strategists can make is showing a lack of empathy. Empathy comes from an understanding of what it’s like to have suffered. It’s not the same as sympathy. explains empathy, “When you understand and feel another’s feelings for yourself, you have empathy.”

Sympathy, on the other hand, is “When you sympathize with someone, you have compassion for that person, but you don’t necessarily feel her feelings.” It is associated with pity, which is not what our customers should receive, nor want. I tell the old joke, “If you haven’t been unemployed, you’re not in our club.” I believe those who have been unemployed, like me, understand the feeling and know better how to relate to those currently unemployed.

Shut up. It’s time to listen. Some of the best career strategist I know are those who listen while the customer is talking. Then they give their sage advice. Sometimes I’ll sit with a customer and ask a few questions until I have an understanding of the problems he is having. Only by hearing his problems will I be able to correctly assess his situation and offer proper advice. (I’ve also been known to tell my customers to stop talking and listen. Very effective.)

It is important to know what the trending job-search strategies are, not preach old advice. One obvious example of talking about the “new” would be talking about the importance of being on LinkedIn for people in most industries. Working with customers to develop a résumé that meets today’s standards is also important, which includes “beating” the Applicant Tracking System. Although stressing networking has been around for many years, the importance of it has increased, as the success of searching for work online is garnering increasingly less success. These are just a few of the job-search strategies we need to impart on our customers.

Don’t look for customers’ mistakes; find them. Finally, our job is not to criticize before reviewing. Too many career strategist feel it’s their job to find as many mistakes on a person’s résumé, cover letter, job search activity, etc., before understanding the situation. I’ve seen too many career strategists who are too fast to criticize before hearing his customers’ points of view or strategy. This is a sign of the career strategist trying to show his dominance over the customer. (Nor would I want a customer believing everything I say because of my title.)

Holding our customers accountable is key to their success. One of my colleagues puts his customers on “his plan,”  a simple Excel spreadsheet that tracks their activity and sets goals to complete as the days progress. One of the goals he sets for his customers is reaching out to potential networkers, resulting in possible job opportunities. The only way this works is if his customers follow through with the goals set forth. My colleague is responsible for making sure his customers meet their goals…or it doesn’t work.

Bringing this all together can be a major undertaking. While a career strategist may be empathetic and hold his customers accountable, he may not be strong in the area of knowing what’s in the minds of recruiters and hiring managers. Similarly, a career strategist may be well aware of the various occupations and industries, but be weak in terms of her strategy planning for the customers.

Putting this all together is the trick. There are those who can effectively master all four areas, while others can touch the surface of the four areas. Others may be strongest in two areas and are best utilized for those two areas, which begs to question if managers should identify the strengths and weaknesses of their employees and try to position them appropriately.

Posted in Career Search | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dear recruiter, 15 reasons why you lost the best candidate ever

Man on phone 2As a career strategist I’m privy to conversation from job candidates who are at the mercy of internal and third-party recruiters. I say mercy because before they can sell themselves to the hiring manager, they have to get past the recruiter.

In the grand scheme of things there seems to be a misunderstanding of the importance the role job candidates play in the hiring process. They are the bread and butter of the process because they’re the ones who are going to solve the employer’s most dire need, the need to fill a position.

Some recruiters (a small number) are treating their job candidates like shite, Mate. This seems counterproductive to achieving the goal of hiring people for the jobs that need to get filled. And there are numerous jobs to fill. I know, recruiters are busy (#11 on the list of job candidate complaints) vetting candidates to present to their clients, but their lack of sensitivity, courtesy, and plain logic is sometimes baffling.

I know there are some great recruiters and some lousy recruiters (the number favors the former); and the same applies to job candidates (ditto). But some of the behavior I’ve heard about recruiters is well…baffling. Without further ado, let me relay what my customers have told me over time.

  1. You told me I was your number one and then didn’t call back. Didn’t that make me feel cheap.
  2. You knew less about the job than I did. (Ouch.)
  3. You thought I was too old. Hint: don’t ask a candidate how old she is. One of my former customers was actually asked, “Just how old are you?”
  4. You took the liberty to revise MY résumé. Imagine my surprise when I showed up at the interview to find the interviewers holding a different version of the résumé I sent.
  5. Do you really think what I did after graduating from college (25 years ago) is relevant? The last time I checked, no one was using DOS.
  6. You called me an hour late and wondered why I was pissed. I  had to pick up my child from daycare,  which by the way takes up most of my UI benefits.
  7. You wanted to connect with me on LinkedIn so you could have access to my connections. I’m not stupid, stupid.
  8. You sent me to the wrong interview. Imagine my surprise when the hiring manager started describing a position that I wasn’t aware of applying for.
  9. You overlooked me because I was out of work for three months. No, technology in finance doesn’t change that much in three months. Oh, I get it; I’m damaged goods.
  10. I may not be as beautiful as your dream date, but I can manage a project with my eyes close. Incidentally,  you’re no looker yourself.
  11. You complain about being sooo busy. I’m not exactly sitting around watching Oprah and popping Bonbons. I am out beating the bushes.
  12. Really? “What is your greatest weakness?” Why do you ask idiotic questions like this? Do you think I’ll really tell you my greatest weakness? Besides, I have the answer memorized.
  13. I wasn’t a fit? Couldn’t you get a better explanation than that. I only want to know if I need to improve my interviewing techniques.
  14. Speaking of interviewing, couldn’t you have told me that I was going to be the oldest person in the building? I can rock with the best of them, but it would have been great to have a heads up.
  15. No means no. I don’t want to take a position that pays half the amount I was making at my last job. I know salaries may be lower these days, but doing twice the amount of work for half the pay doesn’t add up.

Many of the people I serve have had favorable experiences with recruiters, but the process could be a lot better if some of these common complaints are addressed. Greg Savage, a recruiter whom I respect very much, wrote a post called 15 ways to make sure I will NOT hire you. In it he gives sage advice to job candidates on how to impress recruiters. Now let’s look at the other side of the coin, Mate.

Photo: Flickr, Kev-Shine

Posted in Career Search, Interview | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

7 things to think about before including your LinkedIn profile URL on your job-search documents

LinkedIn puzzleI often get this question during a Résumé Advanced workshop or other workshops, “Should I include my LinkedIn address on my résumé?” My answer to this is, “Sure, as long as your profile will serve you well.” This is to say, your LinkedIn profile must impress prospective employers, not turn them away.

Here are 7 rules to adhere to if you’re going to list your LinkedIn public URL on your résumé, personal business cards, cover letter, or even your Twitter handle.

  1. Customize your URL. LinkedIn provides a default address that includes additional numbers and letters behind your name. In Edit Profile, click on Edit next to your default URL and remove all the additional numbers and letters by simply typing your whole name in the field provided. A public profile URL that is clean tells employers you’re LinkedIn savvy, not a babe in the woods.
  2. Your profile must be complete. You’ve probably read many articles about the importance of a complete profile. The bottom line is that a barren profile shows a lack of effort, at the very least, in 1) posting a professional photo; 2) presenting a creative, story-telling Summary; 3) including a full Employment section; and 4) utilizing LinkedIn’s added marketing tools.
  3. Think about your profile as a compliment to your résumé. In other words, your profile is not your résumé; it is more dynamic. To make your profile more exciting, you can add additional sections to it, such as Skills and Expertise, Certificates, Projects, Languages, Media, and more. LinkedIn aficionados can spot when someone simply copy and pastes their résumé to the profile–not impressive.
  4. Be strategic with the layout. Some people don’t know that you’re able to move sections of your profile around. The common layout begins with your Summary, followed by your Experience, then Education. Add additional sections and move them around to indicate what you want employers to see first. Perhaps, like me, you want them to see your Skills and Expertise before Experience.
  5. Make it easy for people to find you. If you’re in the job search and prefer not to list your phone number on your profile, I might accept that as an employer. However, if you also don’t list your e-mail address, I’d be on to the next profile. Don’t play hard to get and make it hard for potential employers to find you.
  6. Participate. Participate in what? you may wonder. Show employers that you update on a regular basis and that your updates are related to the work you’re pursuing, not about how Big Kitty is doing well after his surgery.
  7. Show off. I’m not saying go overboard, but make use of the media section as your online portfolio. You can post PowerPoint presentations, videos, audio clips, your résumé, photos of your architectural work (one of my customers did this), and more. Make your profile truly dynamic by doing this.

If you haven’t followed the above suggestions, sending employers to your profile (via your résumé, business cards, and other written communication) will cause more harm than good.  One more thing, certain elements of your public profile will be absent from your full URL, such as Media, Recommendations, view of Endorsements, and list of connections. This is why you must provide access to your full profile.

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Posted in Career Search, LinkedIn | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments