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.

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.

5 steps to take when you can’t tailor your résumé to a particular position

 

ResumeWhen I tell jobseekers they should tailor their résumés for every position, their eyes widen. Some protest that this is too much work and one or two even become angry and profusely refuse to put in this hard work.

The reason I tell my customers to make the effort is because they need to speak to the needs of the employer. Further, this will impress the employer with their research of the position and demonstrate how they can solve problems the company is facing.

But let’s be realistic; this is not possible for every résumé you write, particularly if:

  • you’re posting your résumé on a job board where it will be stored in a résumé bank among millions of other résumés;
  • you don’t have a descriptive job ad and/or;
  • there’s no one to network with to find the real deal about the job for which you’re applying.

So what’s the solution?

In his Knock ‘Em Dead series, Knock ‘Em DeadSecrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World, Martin Yate offers his Target Job Deconstruction (TJD) method as the next best thing to a tailor-made résumé.

“Your résumé,” he writes, “will obviously be most effective when it starts with a clear focus and understanding of a specific job target. TJD allows you to analyze exactly how employers prioritize their needs for your target job and the words used to express those needs, resulting in a detailed template for the story your résumé needs to tell.”

There are eight steps Martin describes when writing your TJD (they can be found in his book), but I’ll talk about the most immediate steps for creating your résumé template.

1. The first task in creating your résumé template is to collect approximately six job ads for a position you’re seeking. Use websites like Indeed.com or Jobster.com. They use spider technology pulling from other job boards and deliver a plethora of positions from which to choose. The locations of the jobs matter not.

2, From there, you’ll note a requirement (skill, deliverable) most common for all six positions. Next, identify a common requirement for five of the six positions, a common requirement for four of the six positions, and so on, until you have a list of the most common requirements in descending order.

This will give you a good understanding of how employers think when they determine who they’d like to hire. It will also give you a foundation to write a résumé template, which you can modify whenever you send your résumé to a particular company.

Let’s look at a Marketing Specialist position in the Boston area. I managed to find six job descriptions by using Indeed.com. Listed below are the six most common requirements for this position.

  1. Common to all six companies is writing copy for direct mail and electronic distribution, including web content.
  2. Common to four of the companies is managing relations with appropriate departments.
  3. Common to three of the companies is coordinating projects with outside vendors.
  4. Common to two of the companies is researching competitors’ websites and reporting activity.
  5. Common to two of the companies is coordinating trade shows.
  6. Another notable duty is Photo shoots/animation development, which drew my attention, as I enjoy, but have limited experience in photography.

3. Now write your résumé. Given the above information, your new résumé should first verify in the Professional Profile your qualifications for the most common requirements listed. (Notice that many of the requirements are transferable skills, e.g., written communications, managing others, coordinating projects, researching, and your motivating pressure points. Others speak to your technical skills.)

4. You will next extract all the key words that apply to you and create a Competencies section including those key words, as your résumé might be scanned by large and even midsize companies. Don’t forget the strong transferable skills you possess.

5. Finally, you will prove in your Employment History what you have asserted in your Professional profile. Try to prove your assertions with accomplishment statements that are quantified. For example, Produced technical documentation, brochures and flyers which were distributed via e-mail and the company’s website, contributing to a 56% increase in revenue.

Final Note: I continue to insist that, when at all possible, my customers tailor their résumés for each job they apply, as it demonstrates their knowledge of the position and effectively demonstrates their qualifications to meet the position’s requirements. This is ideal when you have a list of your top 20-30 companies, the companies for which you want to show your love.

Small talk and 4 other traits introverts must improve upon

extravertsWhen my colleagues are chatting away during lunch, I like to join their conversation which is usually about current affairs, television shows, or other topics extraverts seem to enjoy and master with ease.

I do my best to break into their banter, picking the right opportunity to voice my views. But at times choosing my words seems like work. I’m not unusual in this way–finding making small talk difficult–other introverts have expressed the same frustration.

Being comfortable making small talk is one trait I admire in extraverts. Other extravert traits I admire are:

Ability to promote themselves. Extraverts have the gift of gab, and we all know that verbal communications is more direct and timely than written communications. While I feel comfortable sending an e-mail to my manager about my accomplishments, extraverts would go directly to her office and talk about their accomplishments. This confidence they display I erroneously misconstrue for conceit.

Solution. Before approaching the manager to speak of their accomplishments, introverts should formulate what they’re going to say. It may be helpful to write down some talking points on their accomplishments before approaching the manager. They should also remember to smile.

Ease of networking. Most extraverts will tell you they have no problem entering a room full of people and striking up a conversation. Most introverts will tell you this takes effort and is often uncomfortable, and some introverts will tell you they fear networking, both for professional and job-search purposes. Therefore they don’t network.

Solution. Introverts should not network like extraverts. I tell my jobseekers that introverts can network; they just do it differently. Instead of working the room, they feel more comfortable in smaller groups and engaging in deeper conversation.

Boundless energy. Presenting in front of a group doesn’t scare me. By most accounts I’m quite good at it. However, after conducting three workshops a day, my brain feels like mash potatoes. Extraverts, on the other hand, can talk till the sun goes down. Where extraverts may run into problems is not taking time to ask questions and listen to their attendees. Introverts are said to be better listeners. Still, it’s nice to have the endurance to talk with people for eternity.

Solution. Introverts should take advantage of downtime to recharge their battery. I retreat to my cubicle where I can rest my mind and reflect on the next workshop to come. When colleagues approach me during my down time, I tell them I’m busy with important work…even if I’m not.

Conflict management. Well-known psychologist and author, Marti Olsen LaneyPsy.D, The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World, asserts that introverts are not as strong at conflict resolution as extraverts are. She writes that introverts avoid conflict as much as possible, and I see her point.

Solution. In order to be good at conflict management, introverts must choose their battles and formulate their thoughts before jumping into the foray. When an answer to an accusation is called for, introverts should ask for time to think about their response. I feel this way when I’m asked to defend my actions.

My admiration for extraverts makes me think about how I can improve on the aforementioned strengths they possess. I’ve witnessed them in my extraverted colleagues and friends; as I’ve also witnessed introverts weaknesses. With some practice, introverts can improve upon their weaknesses, and extraverts can tone it down.

5 ways to be memorable in a positive way in your job search

question mark

I don’t remember much, but when I do, I never forget. There are some jobseekers I remember because they leave a lasting impression, like one woman I had in my Behavioral Interviewing workshop whose story about motivating others was so compelling. Melissa is her name.

Then there’s Mark who just got an Administrator position in healthcare. He thanked me for my help and told me he’d write an account of his job search and how LinkedIn was of great help.

Lisa landed a benefits job in human resources. Previously she was a manager, but she wanted out of that. She proved that stepping down is fine, just as long as you can still prove your value.

Armando I remember because he would always ping me with updates about his job search. He was always positive, never seemingly desperate, and sometimes he offered to help me. He still remains one of my favorite former customers, still someone I’ll reach out to. The other day, in fact, I called to see if he needed a gift in the form of a very talented jobseeker.

Kelly just landed a marketing job at a bank after being out of work for approximately a year. When she spoke with me just before securing her job, she admitted to being discouraged; but she never showed this. In fact it was just the opposite–she was positive and very active on LinkedIn.

Unfortunately there have been people who are a complete downer, but they’re far and in between. Still I remember them because of the poor impression they made. Mike Downer would constantly e-mail me about how he wasn’t going to make it. I would tell him he would if he networked and tried to be positive. He finally got a job. I won’t hear from him unless he needs another job.

The five people* I mention–yes they exist–who came across as positive and/or were willing to provide any help they could are the ones I would go out of my way to help; whereas the one that was always negative is someone I’d dread hearing from.

There’s a pattern here. People want to go out of their way to help those who make a good impression. If you want to be memorable to people who can assist you in your job search, keep in mind the following:

  1. Appearing positive, regardless of your internal struggles, attracts more people than if you’re negative. Negativity drives people away. Take Mike Downer, for example.
  2. Remind people of you by pinging them with e-mails and phone calls, but don’t annoy them with constant contact. Offer to meet them for coffee if it’s convenient for them.
  3. Always follow up after you’ve met someone who might be of assistance. Every time you follow up ask if you can be of assistance to them. If you can reciprocate in any way, it’s better than only asking for their help.
  4. Know your stories. Expert on storytelling, Katharine Hansen @ A storied Career, touts the importance of stories, how memorable they are in life and in the job search.
  5. Let people know about your successes. Had a great interview? Let people know. Finished a résumé you’re happy with? Let people know. Although your confidence may be low, announcing your achievements will make you and others feel great.

These are just a few positive things you can do to become memorable. Don’t be a downer, regardless of your internal struggles. Most people understand that being out of work is painful, including yours truly; so don’t make it the gist of your relationship with others. People like this are easy for me to remember, even if I can’t remember big name actors like Chris….See, I forgot.

*I will occasionally update this list of people and their examples of positiveness.

The curse of tattoos at interviews

An article by Jeff Haden got me thinking about my daughter’s latest request; a tattoo. Jeff’s article is about a man with a tattoo so intricate and enormous that Jeff could only stare at it, making the man uncomfortable.

Although my daughter’s only 16 and she doesn’t want to cover her whole arm with a tattoo, her request makes me think about the ramifications a tat will have on her career future. Will it be detrimental to her job search? I’m sure it will. She’s waiting for my reply.

Where will she put the tattoo, I ask her. I dunno, she tells me. Great. I don’t normally have to deny her requests, but I feel conflicted. I try to picture a tattoo on her.

Will it be private or public? Will it be tasteful or obnoxious? And how many is she planning to get? If it’s private, tasteful, and only one; I guess I could accept her getting a tat. However, if they’re numerous and on her neck, wrist, and anywhere they’d be seen during an interview or at work; I will definitely have an issue with that.

TattooOne of my customers who formally worked at an upscale salon has tattoos that cover her hands, forearms, and neck. They’re magnificent tattoos like the one Jeff mentions in his article, but the assortment of them makes me wonder how employers would view them, if she were to apply for, say, an office position.

This customer’s tats are so visible and magnificent that they distracted me during my workshops. Particularly during my Interview Techniques workshop when I want to have her stand up so I can tell the group that tattoos like these might not be the right image you want to present at an interview.

And then I want to add in a Sam Kenison rant, “They’re forever. Ah, Ah, Ahhhhh.” But I neither make her stand or express my disapproval of her tats. It’s her life, even if they are forever. I can only wonder why she decorated her body like a Harlem wall covered with graffiti. Maybe if she had a parent who urged her not to get the tattoos, she wouldn’t have marred her body with them.

Among the many aspects of our first impressions, tattoos are one of them. Employers are more forgiven than they were in the past. We know this because many of the people who serve us at restaurants and coffee houses, work with us in offices and outdoors, are displaying them freely and with impunity.

But it makes me wonder if the tattoo-baring employees displayed them so freely when they were interviewed, or did they hide them with long sleeves, turtle neck shirts, and pants that covered their ankles…in the dead of summer? If these folks with tats had the foresight to hide them, they may have dodged a bullet.

What if, for example, a college grad is applying for an accountant position, in the last stages of the interview process, and talking with the VP of say PricewaterhouseCoopers. She’s feeling so confident because she’s been told this interview is a formality, a sign off. It’s in the bag. So she lets her guard down and wears a sleeveless dress, revealing a small, tasteful butterfly tattoo on her shoulder.

Harmless, right?

This is my fear; my daughter will be that young woman at the interview of her life, only to blow it because of a simple tattoo. Only because some conservative guy might be the decision maker and think that this woman is too compulsive; not right for the company image.

All because of a tattoo my daughter got while her friends were encouraging her to “go for it” in New Hampshire at some seedy tattoo parlor. The image of her walking out of the parlor sporting a tat on her wrist, looking at her friends for approval, showing some doubt on her face; is enough for me to make a decision.

I tell her no to the tats, and she shrugs her shoulders and says fine. I get the feeling she never wanted one and all my worrying was for naught, until she asks for is a nose stud.

 

 

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