How to Answer “Tell Me About a Time You Made a Mistake” in 4 Easy Steps

No one likes to talk about the mistakes they’ve made. However, interviewers want to know about more than just your successes. They want to hear it all — the good, the bad, and the ugly. This includes your mistakes.

Attention

This is why I’m surprised when I conduct mock interviews and my participants aren’t prepared for the common directive, “Tell me about a time when you made a mistake.” I explain to my participants that good interviewers will challenge them with questions like this. The best interviewers want to get a full sense of their applicants.

When a candidate can answer these challenging questions about their negative experiences, they demonstrate their self-awareness and emotional intelligence.

Does that mean you have to share the story of your most egregious failure? Of course not — and I don’t think interviewers want you to. However, telling them about a time when you handed in a report two days late is disingenuous. You have to strike a balance.

Here are four steps to take when answering interview questions about your mistakes and failures:

1. Prepare for Them

Always try to anticipate these questions. For example, let’s say you’re a project manager. You know conflict resolution is a key component to your job success. Moreover, you noticed that the posting for the job for which you are preparing to interview specifically calls for someone with experience in running teams and handling conflict.

In this situation, you would reflect on some times when there were internal conflicts among team members. Choose a story that demonstrates some error in your judgment — but not too much error. Similarly, you don’t want to share a story centered on someone else’s mistake. Remember, you want to show self-awareness by admitting to a time when you made a mistake.

2. Keep Your Example Short

I recommend you keep your answer to 30 seconds. Some people talk much longer than that. In doing so, they provide too much background information, and they often make their mistakes sound worse than they are.

Keep your answer brief by sticking to the problem, action, result (PAR) format. For example:

Problem: I recall a time when one member of our team wasn’t pulling his weight and another member confronted this person.

Action: I didn’t act soon enough. As a result, there was a standoff that lasted for many months.

Result: We were able to meet the deadline for the project we were tasked with, and I was praised by management for delivering a quality product on time and under budget.

3. Explain What You Learned From Your Mistake

Even if your example has a happy ending, your story isn’t complete until you’ve demonstrated your understanding of what you could have done differently.

In the above example, you might say something like:

Even though the team I led successfully delivered the project, it didn’t sit well with me that two of my teammates were at odds with each other. I met with them after the project concluded and helped resolve the conflict, but I now know I should have addressed it earlier.

This example accomplishes three objectives. First, it explains the problem and what you did to address the problem. Second, it shows how you achieved success despite the problem. Third, it demonstrates your self-awareness by outlining what you learned from the experience.

4. Be Ready for Follow-Up Questions

Interviewers will often want to know more about the situation, such as: How serious was the conflict? Did it threaten to disrupt the team’s activities? Why didn’t you act sooner? When you finally met with the two members, how did you handle it?

Don’t be surprised if an interviewer tries to dig a little deeper. This is just a sign that they want to know more. Answer any follow-up questions calmly. As always, you want to be honest, but you don’t want to overemphasize the magnitude of your mistake.


While many job seekers take steps to prepare for interviews, few ever think about how they will present their negative workplace experiences. However, it’s likely the interviewer will want to know about your failures. Don’t take it personally. They just want to know more about you. That’s a good thing.

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3 ways to show employers what you CAN do in the future

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Employers don’t care about what you’ve done; they care about what you will do.” If you haven’t heard this, rest assured it’s the truth.

futuredoors

By conducting multiple interviews—including phone, one-on-one, group, Skype, you name it—employers are trying to determine how you can save them money, improve quality, increase revenue, improve productivity, and help the company in other ways.

Employers believe that if you’ve achieved multiple accomplishments relative to the position, you will repeat similar accomplishments. On the other hand, if your accomplishments are not relevant, you’re applying for the wrong position.

But it’s not only about the relevant accomplishments you’ve achieved. There are other factors that come into play when convincing employers that you’ll be valuable in the future. So what will you have to do in order to convince employers of your value?

1. Have the proper mindset

The first step in convincing employers that you’ll perform for them in the future is having the proper mindset. People who lack this mindset are like former jocks who talk about his glory days in high school. They are stuck in the past.

More importantly, people who lack this mindset can’t envision what they can do for companies in the future. They can’t see the big picture.

I recently gave a group of job seekers the challenge to tell me what their legacy will be from now until 2027; in other words, what will they have accomplished after 10 years. I asked them to think big picture.

A member in the group said one thing he will do is increase revenue by developing relationships with value added resellers (VARs).

I naturally asked him how he knows this. He told the group that he did it twice in the recent past and there’s no question that he’ll do it in the future. He spoke with confidence, knowing what he accomplished in the past can be repeated in the future.

Another member said she will improve communications for nonprofit organizations. She’ll coordinate events, manage social media, create content for the website. How, some of the group members asked. She’s done it in the past and is confident she’ll do it in the future.

2. Write about your future greatness on your résumé and LinkedIn profile

The language you use in your Performance Profile of your résumé is written in present tense because this is the section that initially states what you will bring to the employer.

Writing, “Consistently increase productivity more than 70% by implementing Agile methodology,” tells employers you’ll do this at their company. Whereas, “Increased productivity more than 70% by implementing Agile methodology,” doesn’t allude to the future.

You must also prioritize your statements by listing your outstanding accomplishments closest to the top of the résumé. The more relevant accomplishments you have on the first page is an indication of the value you’ll bring to the employer.

Notice the word “relevant?” Accomplishments that are relevant and include quantified results are an indication of future greatness.

Your LinkedIn profile Summary should tell a story of the passion you have for your occupation, as well as your value add. Because the profile is more generic and broader in scope than your résumé, you will include more recent accomplishments in the Summary. This is the first section employers will read, so make it pack a punch.

Heres a hint: the first line or two of your LinkedIn profile Summary should be a value statement, as the Summary of the new profile is truncated. You need to make the reader of your Summary want to read the rest of it.

3. Talk about your future greatness in interviews

Many interviewers are focused on the past; therefore, they don’t ask questions that ask about future success. It is up to you to provide answers that illustrate what you will do in the future. You must demonstrate that you are capable of future greatness.

You’re given the popular question, “Why should we hire you?” You must set the tone by delivering an opening statement that talks to the future.

Right: “I am a sales manager who consistently exceeds sales projections. I know you’re looking for the same performance, and I will deliver the performance you require.

Wrong: “I’ve been in sales for 20 years. My most recent job was as a manager.” The beginning of your answer doesn’t convey the fact that you are a sales manager and that you will exceed sales projections.

Many interviewers believe the best type of question is the behavioral-based, which gives you the opportunity to explain your past experience and how it will be repeated in the future. This is the premise behind this type of question.

What’s important in answering this type of question is assuring that your past behavior will be repeated in the future. Begin with a statement similar to, “Most recently, I performed (the following skill)…..” Then ending your answer with, “I will achieve the same accomplishments for you.”

Answer questions using behavioral-based ones whenever possible. Proof is what interviewers want to hear. Take the following traditional question.

“How do you define leadership?” Your reply is to say, “This is an excellent question. Can I give you an example or two how I’ve recently demonstrated leadership?” End your answer with, “Leadership comes easy to me, and I look forward to leading your finance team going forward.”


Using the what-I’ll-do-for-you-in-the-future approach in the job search can be particularly helpful for older job seekers who may falsely be judged as being past their prime.

From the conversation our job club had it is obvious that older workers can and will repeat what they’ve accomplished in the past, and perhaps more. Another member who said she’ll create transparency in the sales reporting process using CRM was convincing because she’s done it successfully in the past. As well, she spoke with confidence.

Photo: Flickr, cthoma27

10 ways to improve your job search in 2018

The mantra I deliver to my workshop attendees at the beginning of January is, “This is the year you’ll land your job!” And I believe this. That’s if they don’t lose sight of the prize and stay on course. But even as I’m saying it, I know it won’t be an easy journey.

Young job seekers

On the bright side, employers are opening their purses in January and beyond. While December is typically slow, it is a month when your networking will pay off now, because you’re a known commodity.

If you didn’t reach out to employers in December, all is not lost. Let’s look at ways to improve your job search in 2018.

1Know thyself. It’s important to possess self-awareness if you want to conduct your job search effectively in 2018. This means thinking about your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. What does this spell? SWOT. That’s right, do a SWOT analysis on yourself.

I have my attendees do a partial SWOT analysis in some of my workshops. I tell them to do a complete one on their own. You should write down 10 or more strengths, five weaknesses, three opportunities, and three threats. This will give you a better sense of what you can capitalize on and areas you need to overcome.

2. Take time to think about what you really want to do. All too often job seekers will settle for the next job that comes along. Sometimes it works out, other times it doesn’t. This stage in your life is a great time to reflect on what will make you happy.

If it’s a career change, think about how your transferable skills can make a transition easier, despite not having all the job-related skills. One woman I worked with had previously worked for Hewlett Packard in marketing. She joined our career center as a grant writer. Eventually she became the director of our Workforce Investment Board.

3. Conduct some labor market research (LMR). Whether you know it or not, you’ve been researching the labor market. For example, you were gathering labor market information (LMI) while working and considering a move to a different company or occupation.

Now, you need to gather LMI on job availability, determining which skills are in high demand, and what salaries employers are offering.  One site that gives you a broad sense of your value in the labor market is Salary.com.

But the best way to gather LMI is by speaking with people in the know, who might include other job seekers or people who will grant you networking meetings, better known as informational interviews.

4. Create a list of companies for which you’d like to work. This is difficult for many people. The sharp job seekers understand the value of keeping a going list of 10 to 15 companies they research. This is also part of your LMR. Your research can tell you which companies are in growth or decline.

You also should identify important players in the companies, hiring managers, directors, VP, CEOs, etc. LinkedIn is ideal for identifying key players in your target companies. Networking is even better, providing you have the right connections.

5. Write your résumé and LinkedIn profile. Now it’s time to write your résumé. When others jump immediately to their résumé and LinkedIn profile, they’re flying blindly. They haven’t self-reflected, thought about what they want to do, and conducted their LMR.

Now you’re ready to address the needs of employers for whom you want to work. You know which accomplishments to highlight. You realize that a one-fits-all résumé won’t do it; it certainly won’t pass the applicant tracking system (ATS).

Your LinkedIn profile will be constructed to cover as many of the skills and experiences employers require. It’s generic, unlike your tailored resumes. However, it must show your value, just as your résumé does. Your LinkedIn profile is more of a online networking document that also shows your personality.

6. Networking is still your best method of looking for work. For those of you who have made connections in the fall at your desired companies, your networking efforts will pay dividends when employers ask for referrals to fill their positions.

Approach connections who work for your target companies or people who know people who work for your target companies. Many job seekers have great success using LinkedIn to make connections at desired companies.

I strongly encourage my clients to attend professional association events, where they can network with people who are currently working. Those who are working might know of opportunities for you, or at the very least provide you with some sage advice. To find an association, Google your industry/occupation and your location. Here’s one I found for marketing.

7. Get used to using LinkedIn’s mobile app. More than 50% of LinkedIn members are using the mobile app. This provides you with the convenience of using LinkedIn for research, communicating with recruiters, or searching for jobs.

The app is limited, but there’s still enough functionality to make it worth investing time into it. I believe the LinkedIn mobile app is where the company is dedicating its resources. Read this post on using LinkedIn’s mobile app.

8. It’s never too late to volunteer. Look, I’m not trying to sell you out. It’s a proven fact that volunteering is an effective way to land a job. Consider these four reasons:

  1. You improve your skills or gain new ones. For example, you’re a webmaster and volunteer to revamp an organization’s website to learn ColdFusion.
  2. It is a great way to network. If you volunteer in the proper organization, you can make connections with vendors, partners, customers, and others in your industry.
  3. You’ll feel more productive. It’s far better than sitting at your computer for six hours a day applying online. As I tell my clients, get out of your house!
  4. It’s a great way to pad your resume. Volunteerism is work, so why not include it in your Experience section.

9. Don’t take an interview lightly. This means any interview. I can’t tell you how many people tell me they weren’t prepared for the telephone interview. They assumed it would be just a a screening. Guess what, the telephone interview is such an important part of the hiring process–saves time and money–that they be the deciding factor. The face-to-face might be a formality.

There are seven phases of the interview you need to consider. Nailing everyone of these phases is important. Begin reading part one of this series to help you get mentally prepared for the process.


10. Be good to yourself. You’ve heard of work/life balance. I believe there’s also job-search/life balance. In other words, don’t burn out during your job search. In a recent job club meeting, I asked the members what they did during the Christmas holiday. Many of them talked about making connections with valuable recruiters.

But the ones who also impressed me were the ones who said they took some time off to decompress, sprinkled in with some job seeking activities. You must remember that your unemployment is temporary, and during this time there are other important aspects of your life.


Photo: Flickr, Ken Shoufer

There is no excuse for not selling yourself. 2 areas in which you must succeed

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from my clients, “I can’t sell myself. I just can’t brag.” I understand their consternation, yet I can’t feign sympathy. This would be a disservice to them. What they need is positive reinforcement.

Job Interview

There are two undeniable truths. First, if you don’t sell yourself, no one will. It’s like waiting for Prince Charming to arrive or waiting for a job to jump in your lap, both of which aren’t going to happen.

Second, no one is asking you to brag, not even the employer. He’s asking you to promote your accomplishments and relate your skills to the job at hand. No one likes a braggart.

So how do you sell yourself? Selling yourself is going to involve developing a campaign that requires you to use your verbal and written communication skills.

Written skills

Your résumé. Most believe, understandingly so, that your résumé will be the first contact you’ll have with an employer. Let’s assume this is true, at least 85% of the time (some job seekers network their way to a job with applying for it using the traditional method).

A compelling résumé must include, among other components a branding headline; non-fluff, professional profile; and a robust employment history consisting mostly of accomplishment statements and duties of interest to the employer.

LinkedIn and cover letter. So far you’re not bragging, are you? Also included in your written campaign are your cover letter and LinkedIn profile. Like your résumé, they must promote (not brag about) your accomplishments.

The cover letter is tailored to each specific job (as should your résumé) and entices the employer to read your résumé. It points out your experience, skills and accomplishments pertinent to the position at hand. No bragging yet.

Increasingly more employers are enabling the Hidden Job Market by cruising the Internet searching for kick-ass LinkedIn profiles that meet their lofty expectations, so don’t disappoint. In my opinion; If you’re not going to put the required effort into you LinkedIn profile, don’t bother having one.

Verbal communications

Your elevator pitch. This is an area where job seekers have the most difficulty promoting themselves. For example, as they recite their written elevator pitches in my workshops, I don’t hear the enthusiasm in their delivery. Unbeknownst to them, when they talk about their accomplishments with pride, other attendees admire their confidence. This is not bragging.

Networking. Confidence carries over to you networking efforts. Delivering your pitch in a natural way is how people want to know about your accomplishments and outstanding skills. Remember, at a networking event or even when you’re out and about, people who ask about your job transition want to hear about what you do, have accomplished, and want to do in the future.

Also remember that listening to fellow networkers is just as important as talking about yourself. Too many people talk at networkers at an event. Or they feign listening, all the while waiting for their opportunity to talk.

Telephone interviews. On the telephone during an interview or leaving a message, promote yourself by explaining why you are the right person for the job. Again, demonstrating confidence, not arrogance, is essential. Confidence is one important skills employers look for in a candidate.

The interview. Finally there’s the interview. I can’t tell you how many people fall back into “we” statements when describing successful projects or programs. Interviewers want to hear about your role in the process, not your teammates. You’re the one they’re considering hiring.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your accomplishments with pride. This shows confidence. Without saying you’re the best project manager to assume that position, talk about the time when you assessed a major problem one of your clients had, then how you orchestrated a team of 12 consultants to resolve the problem two weeks before the deadline.

Read the series on Nailing the interview process.

while not coming across as bragging. No one likes a braggart. People appreciate others who are proud of their accomplishments.

Hope and 4 other attributes necessary for a successful job search

Job-search advice is available to job seekers from pundits, friends, family, and other well-wishers; but the most important factor to success in the job search is the internal fortitude that keeps job seekers going.

hope

Without this inner strength, advice about résumés, interviews, networking, LinkedIn, etc., doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

To achieve success, one must understand the importance of never giving up, to not admit to defeat.

Hope

I’ve often preached the need for hope in the job search. When clients tell me of the multiple interviews they’ve attended and how they’re making it to the last round but lose out to another candidate, I don’t see that as failures. Rather I look upon those setbacks as opportunities that will eventually come to fruition.

You’re almost there I will tell them. Don’t give up hope. Now it’s time to practice your interview skills, I add.

Hope is one of four attributes job seekers must maintain throughout the job search; the other three are optimism, persistence, and enthusiasm. In combination, one will prevail in whatever challenges present themselves.

optimismOptimism

Those who are optimistic encourage optimism in others around them. It shows on their countenance and is noticeable to everyone involved in their job search. This includes people with whom they network.

One of my favorite clients was out of work for almost a year, until a week came when she had three job possibilities leading to one offer. She remained optimistic in her job search, sometimes lapsing into self-doubt, but saw the potential of success.

Persistence

biking 2

 

This personality trait is something great athletes have. Like a baseball player who is in a slump batting .200 in May, a job seeker goes six months, nine months, or a year without landing a job, but never gives up. He bounces back from rounds of interviews with no job offers, finally landing a job before his unemployment ends. Similarly, the baseball player gets out of his slump to bat .300 in October.

This was the case for one of my customers who was out of work for more than a year. Although he had interviews almost every week, he came up short. His persistence coupled with a positive attitude was apparent in the e-mails he sent to update me on his progress. He is now gainfully employed as a director of human resources and offers help to my customers.

To learn more about persistence, read: 6 reasons why you must be persistent in your job search. 

Enthusiasm

enthusiasm

Job seekers who are enthusiastic walk into a room and light it up. I can tell a job seeker will shortly find work by the way she embraces the job search, rather than surrender to defeat. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophesy. I will conquer this challenge, they say, and so they do.

One of my clients who has a physical disability is enthusiastic and confident in her ability to return to management in her prior industry. I recently met with her to critique her résumé. Prior to the critique she had attended an interview. After the critique she was scheduled for a phone interview. The last I heard, she was granted a second interview for both positions.

Emotional Intelligence

happy-jobseekerBetter known as EQ, this is the ability to understand one’s feelings, as well as the feelings of others; and to act accordingly. For example, if a fellow job seeker is bringing down the group during a Buddy Group meeting, a person with EQ will bring that person aside after the meeting and tactfully explain that negativity is not helping the groups mission.

Some of the traits job seekers with strong EQ demonstrate are:

  1. They understand the job search is stressful. 
  2. They let go of their anger. 
  3. They’re empathetic and are willing to help others. 
  4. They also ask for help.
  5. They know their strengths and weaknesses. 
  6. They don’t blame others.

To read more about EQ, read 12 ways to show emotional intelligence in your job search.


Having hope is one of the four aforementioned traits, optimism, persistence, and enthusiasm. Together, these positive traits contribute to psychological capital, which guides us through the challenges in life. Psychological capital isn’t something that can be purchased, but it is something that can be developed through a positive attitude. Many times we’ve been told to be positive. Never has a greater truth been told.

5 steps to connect with LinkedIn members

But first the proper ways to connect.

LinkedIn Flag

Let’s start with a quiz:

How do you connect with people on LinkedIn? Do you:

  1. indiscriminately click the button that says “Send now”;
  2. take the time to add a note;
  3. ask for an introduction to your desired contact, or;
  4. first send an email to your desired contact before sending an invite?

For many years I’ve been advising people to always add a note when connecting because…it’s the right thing to do. However, after talking with a valued connection, Bobbie Foedisch, I learned a great deal about connecting etiquette. More on that later.

Currently employed, or not, you should build up your network with connections who are like-minded and can be of mutual assistance. Let’s look at three ways to connect with others on LinkedIn.

Connecting directly

For example, if you’re going for the direct connection, your invite message might read like this:

Hello Susan.

When I saw your profile on LinkedIn, I thought it would be great to connect. You and I have a great deal in common, namely that we are in the business of helping people find employment. It would be great to connect.

Bob

Note: you only have 300 characters to work with.

Using a reference to connect

If you’re going to connect directly, you’re more likely to gain success by using a reference. This would be a shared connection—someone who is connected with you and the LinkedIn member with whom you’d like to connect.

Doing a search for a 2nd degree who resides in the Greater Boston Area and works for Philips produces the result below. Below the two people you notice the faces of the shared connections. Click on (number) of shared connections to see who is connected directly with your desired LinkedIn member.

People Search, 2nd, location, company

Once you have chosen a person who could be a reference for you, email the person asking if you could use her name in an invite. Your message might be:

Hi Dave.

You and I are both connected with Sharon Beane. She and I work for the Career Center of Lowell as workshop facilitators. We have the utmost respect for each other. When asked if I could mention her in an invite to you, she enthusiastically agreed. I see we do similar work, that of helping others. I would like to join your network in hopes of being of mutual assistance.

Sincerely, Bob.

Asking for an introduction

Bobbie suggests that one should use an introduction when they want someone to join their network. This requires asking a trusted connection to send a message to the person with whom you’d like to connect.

Note: email is Bobbie’s preferred means of asking for an introduction because it is more commonly used than LinkedIn Messaging. Great point.

Here is a sample introduction sent via email.

Hi Karen.

I see that you’re connected with the director of HR, Mark L Brown at (town).

I’m trying to fill a director of DPW position and would like to get some advice from Mark. I read on LinkedIn that they’re trying to fill an accountant position. I like the way he wrote the job description, pointing out their diverse environment.

Thank you in advance for introducing me to Mark. If there’s anything I can do for you, don’t hesitate to ask.

Andy Smith, Human Resources Generalist, 978.935.5555

PS. It was great seeing our girls duke it out in last weekend’s soccer match. I hope the two teams meet in the playoffs.

Now let’s look at the five steps to finding people with whom to connect.

1. Search by people. Just click the magnifying glass in the Search field and then click People. In my case, I came up with a little less than 7,500,000 first, second, and third degree connections.

Filter People by Kathy

2. Next, select 2nd in Connections for an obvious reason; you cannot connect with your first degrees, as you are already connected. This brings me to more than 124,000

3. Now select the type of person you’re seeking in Keywords. I typed “Career” in the Keywords area in the Title field because I wanted LinkedIn to do a pretty general search for people in the career development/advisor/counselor/coach occupations. This brings my number of connections to slightly more than 7,000.

4. You probably don’t want to look for career related people worldwide. Perhaps you’re focusing on people closer to home. I am, so I got to Locations and select Greater Boston Area. I’m at 825 second degree connections now. Note: sometimes you have to type in the location.

5. Here’s where you want to narrow your search to people who are mutually connected as first degrees with one of your valued connections. In the image above, you see the first person at the top of my list shares 17 degree connections with me. I will click on one of the circular photos below Kathy to see who I can mention as a reference in a cold invite.

2nd degree connection

5. The person I’ve chosen is one who can help facilitate an introduction to the person above. The reason I know this is because she and I have had numerous conversations, and we respect each other’s expertise. In other words, I trust her.

When I type her name into “Connections of,” I come up with approximately 50 LinkedIn users who are her first degree connections. I will glance at their profiles to see if I’d like to connect with them, using Kathy’s name as a referral; or asking Kathy for an introduction.


You might think how my friend, Bobbie Foedisch, goes about connecting with people on LinkedIn as time consuming, but she has been successful using LinkedIn for social selling, and she teaches job seekers how to use LinkedIn. She has the right idea about making long-term connections on LinkedIn.

I, on the other hand, am less exact; I connect with like-minded people without reaching out to them beforehand. Whether you connect directly with a LinkedIn user or ask for an introduction, using “Connections of” can effectively facilitate the connection.

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4 ways for HR to hire a diverse workplace

As a human resources leader for a municipality, are you directed to hire people of diversity? Have you given it much thought? Further, how would you use LinkedIn to accomplish this? In this post, I’ll address the challenges human resources might face using LinkedIn to achieve the goal of creating a diverse workplace, and suggestions to make this possible.

Diversity2

But first it’s worth looking at the definition of “diversity” from the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary:

Definition: the condition of having or being composed of differing elements variety; especially the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization. Mirriam-Webster Dictionary 

Just who make up groups of diversity and why is it important to create a workplace of diversity? People of color, different religious belief, disability, gender affiliation, younger and older worker, nationality, ethnicity, and more. A diverse workplace is important for a number of reasons, most namely employment opportunities, unique ideas, and community.

The major problem

As someone in human resources, you know that the best way to fill a position is through referrals. Many times there are no qualified people who can fill positions, so you need to advertise said position.

What you get are a ton of resumes you have to sift through or send directly to the directors of the departments in your municipalities. You’re being reactive. Wouldn’t be better to be proactive by reaching out to people you find on LinkedIn? Wouldn’t you like to present a social media presence that attracts quality candidates? I’ll answer both of these questions.

1. Performing a direct search, but narrow with focus

People Search2

The first thing you must realize is that no job seeker will type anywhere on their profile, “I’m a person of diversity.” Or, “I have a disability.” Or, “I’m a woman of color.” You’re going to have to do some sleuthing to find people of diversity.

You should narrow your search by applying certain criteria. If you’re looking for someone in Information Technology Services; using the Filter people by feature (to right) will make your search more manageable. Here are three ways to do it.

1. For example, I searched for IT and came up with more than 18 million people. Where as using Filter people by feature to specify: 2nd degree, Greater Boston Area, and Information technology and Services. This produced 19 results. Much more manageable.

2. In the Filter people by area, you can also select people who are/have been on boards or possess strong volunteer experience.

3. Yet another way to narrow the search is by typing in the Search field the title sought and “nonprofit” or “town” and “city” next to the title. A search for “IT manager, town, city” produces 12 results.

2. Rely on your network

Providing you have a strong network that consist not only of other HR professionals, but also people in other industries; you have an opportunity to uncover some great talent. Perhaps you’re in pursuit of a director of finance. You should develop connections with many of the larger companies in your local area.

It’s plausible that a finance manager in a fortune 100 company would be a cultural fit in your municipality’s Finance department. There are regulations and laws that candidates would need to learn, but someone who is talented and a quick learner, can get up to speed.

The challenge: Good ole networking will take awhile, but if you can build up a network of people who are a possible fit for the positions you need to fill immediately or down the road; you’ll be in better shape.

3. Every employee must have a strong profile

Neal Schaffer, the author of The Business of Influence and other books that address using social media for business and marketing, says everyone in an organization must have a strong profile, as each employee is the face to the organization.

Your executive team should also be the digital face for your organization. When your management engage socially, you build trust with the community. You also send a strong and encouraging message to your employees that it’s OK for them to be active on social media, which undoubtedly will bring about greater employee advocacy for your organization.

Essentially each person working for a town or city should have a statement on their profile that they are engaged in a workplace that encourages and is open to diversity. Job seekers who desire working for organizations that encourage diversity in the workplace will be encouraged to see individual profiles that support this message.

Another benefit of an individual profile that demonstrates a diversity-friendly workplace will strengthen their town’s or city’s LinkedIn company page search engine optimization (SEO). This is assuming that the municipality has a LinkedIn company page. Below is an example of an employee’s profile supporting the goal of supporting people of diversity:

One of the nice things about working for The Town of (name) is the diversity of its employees. I enjoy working alongside people who are divers in age, ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, and other diverse populations. In my role as municipal engineer, I…

4. Create a LinkedIn company page with a strong statement

The next step municipalities need to take is create a company page that delivers the message of supporting and hiring people of diversity. Below is a good start of a company page description:

(City Name) was first incorporated as a town in 1630, and later as a city in 1822. Although City Government played a major role in (city’s name) development, the real spirit lies in the diverse and vibrant neighborhoods of the City. Today, the City is governed by the Mayor and the City Council with the assistance of various departments, agencies and commissions.

The company descriptions claims to have “diverse and vibrant neighborhoods,” but we’d like to see stronger verbiage explicitly talking about how the city has a policy of hiring people of diversity.

Job descriptions on LinkedIn company pages need to deliver a strong message of support for a diverse workplace

If the city or town is hiring and posts its positions on LinkedIn’ company page, this would also be a great place to state their policy for hiring people of diversity. This should be stated at the beginning of the job descriptions. Below is a description for a Sr. Librarian position that fails to do this.

….library assistants working in the branch libraries whose duties involve the following: greeting and directing patrons, registration of borrowers, charging and discharging of books and other materials, maintaining the book and other materials collections, maintaining/troubleshooting equipment, typing/word processing and filing.

What if instead, the beginning of the job description were to read:

(Name of city) supports a diverse workplace and encourages people of different races, religions, ethnicity, age, and disability to apply for the following position?

This would make an immediate statement about the municipality’s policy of supporting diverse populations.


The final step is a link to the municipality’s website, which would repeat its policy of hiring people of diversity. This would send a strong message to people who are looking for a diverse workplace.

Photo: Flickr, mdennes