Monthly Archives: July 2011

Pay it Forward are not just words. Two people put them into action

You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.   ~  John Wooden

The term “pay it forward” is unfathomable to some jobseekers. They way they see it is they’re the ones who are out of work and; therefore, they should be the ones receiving help, not others. This way of thinking is what holds them back from networking or reaching out to do a good deed, which in turn hurts their chances of finding a job.

The majority of jobseekers I run into understand the beauty of paying it forward. They embrace helping others, knowing that help will come their way. Whether it’s offering a free service, giving sound advice, providing a contact name, forwarding a résumé, or giving moral support; paying it forward is all good.

I bring this popular term up in a career networking workshop. To simplify the concept, I tell my attendees that the act of helping others creates good Karma. Further I tell them they should not expect the person you help to immediately repay the favor, because another person will step forward to help you. In fact, you may never receive reciprocation from the person you assisted.

A customer of mine named John Yurka demonstrated the pay it forward mentality in the truest sense; he took photos of five jobseekers for free. He met with them this past Tuesday in a park and spent a good part of his morning making sure the photos he took were to the recipients’ satisfaction.

The photos were astonishing, in my humble opinion. And the jobseekers must have felt the same way, because all of them uploaded their likenesses to LinkedIn. One of the people wrote to me with excitement, commending the work John had done. (An example of John’s work is on the left.)

Another champion of the unemployed, Ken Masson, has helped jobseekers in the past by founding a television show called The New England Job Show. This show comprises of volunteers who help jobseekers find work. Initially the purpose of the show was to film jobseekers’ personal commercials, but soon it branched out to interviewing job search experts, hosting a blog of job-search experts, offering training, and more.

Many of the volunteers from the show eventually find work after starting there, which means that replacements have to be found. When NEJS volunteers find work it’s always great news, but it causes a lot of work for Jackie Simmonds, the current COO of the show. Ken will be dedicating more of his time to the show, because this is what he does; he pays it forward.

There are no hard statistics on how successful paying it forward is. Smart jobseekers simply understand that it makes common sense. It makes common sense because as you’re helping someone, another person is in the process of helping you. I’m convinced that the jobseekers who believe in paying it forward will receive the help they need. How do I know? I just do.


Recruiters advised to interview properly; jobseekers advised to be well prepared

Listen up jobseekers! Recruiters are looking for and finding better ways to interview you. In-house or third-party recruiters are being advised to find the right candidate, not the one who interviews best, but the one who can do the job. The one who can still do the job six months from the time he/she’s hired. 

What does this mean to you? Everything recruiters are advised to do, you must follow their lead…and more.

In Ben’s (simply Ben) article, 5 Ways a Recruiter can Improve Their Interview Technique, posted on, this recruiter offers his colleagues some sage advice on how to hire the best talent through proper interviewing techniques and attitude. What he has to tell his colleagues is exactly what those of you who seek the help of recruiters should know. What follows are a few of Ben’s notable points.

Recruiters shouldn’t base their decision on interview “performance.”

There are those who interview well but can’t do the job. In other words they’re frauds. Conversely, there are those who don’t interview so well, but can do the job. They suffer a bout of stage fright. Ideally recruiters would like to present people who have both qualities to the hiring manager; but the latter is much more preferable than the former. Side note: unfortunately performing well is still something you must strive to do. Prove you can do the job and then do it.

“I’m sure we’ve all had experiences we’re we’ve hired someone because we got on with them at the interview stage,” Ben writes.  “Then, six months into the role, he or she were still great people but couldn’t/struggled to achieve what was required of them in the first place.”

Don’t focus on first impressions.

Another thing I admire about Ben’s thinking is how he tells his colleagues to deemphasize the first impression interviewers make. Don’t ignore it completely, but don’t make it a deciding factor like we’ve heard done so often in the past. Some say a recruiter or employer will make his/her decision within the first 30 seconds. Here’s what Ben suggests to his colleagues:

“My challenge to you? Be really disciplined on this one. Take those first impressions (we’re all human after all and can’t switch off this natural reaction) but park them.  Write them down somewhere at the beginning of the interview and refer to it again at the end to compare with your final thoughts.”

Use behavioral interview techniques.

One last thing I’d like to point out is the value of behavioral questions. Ben nails this one on the head when he talks about speculative responses as opposed to proven responses. All of us can rehearse for the traditional questions, but the answers we provide to a behavioral question are proven over and over to be accurate…and truthful:

“Just because a candidate says they will do something in 5 weeks time if X Y or Z happens doesn’t mean they actually will.  Instead of asking them what they would do if something happened simply switch the question around.  Ask them for specific examples where they’ve encountered that situation and what they actually did. What were the results? What were the challenges? What were the biggest lessons and how did they change as a result?”

Job search advisors are hearing more and more about how recruiters are employing the best practices to present the right people to the employers, candidates who have not only the technical skills but the transferable and adaptive ones as well. Jobseekers can hope that recruiters and employers will practice best interview techniques, but they must also be prepared for poor interviewers.

Having trouble writing your LinkedIn profile; look at the experts’ profiles

My contacts must think I’m stalking them. Every Wednesday they see my name appear in their “Who’s Viewed My Profile” on LinkedIn, and I feel guilty in a voyeuristic way.

My guilt derives from the fact that they may assume potential customers are reviewing their credentials; when, in fact, someone (I) is leading a workshop and showing their profiles as examples of how they should be written. I suppose my contacts should feel honored; I’m very selective. Nonetheless, I want my contacts to know that they’re helping the jobseekers who attend my LinkedIn workshop. And for this, I’m grateful.

To clear my conscience about using my contacts’ profiles I’m writing this entry to come clean. I want the following experts to know that I’m revealing their profiles to groups of jobseekers who appreciate seeing how constructing a LinkedIn profile is done right. I haven’t heard back from any of my contacts regarding my activity, but I’m sure more than one of them wonders why Bob McIntosh, CPRW shows up without fail every Wednesday.

I’m also writing this entry so you can emulate a good profile–not copy one verbatim; I have a contact whose profile she felt was plagiarized. That’s not the intent of visiting other’s profile. One types in their occupation in Advanced People Search and is presented with a list of people who fit the first-time profile writer. Some of the profiles may be great, some may be poor. You have to be the judge of what you consider to be a strong profile. This is how you get ideas for how to construct your profile.

On with my “confession.” One of my contacts, Louise Kursmark, told me that her profile is public, so it’s no big deal. She’s an author of many search-books and Founder and Director of Résumé Writing Academy, so I’m sure tons of people are looking at her profile anyways.

Wendy Enelow, another author, a colleague of Louise, and Director at Career Thought Leaders Consortium  graciously gave me her blessing. She was the first of my contacts who gave me the permission I sought. So I wouldn’t receive a nasty note, I decided to be safer than sorry and timidly asked her permission. She wrote a note essentially saying, “why the hell not.”

Another contact of mine, Darrell Dizoglio, a professional résumé writer, told me to “go for it.” After all, he’s getting publicity from people seeing his profile up on the wall. (In fact, one of my customers asked for his business card after my workshop, which I had handy.) I thought that was awfully noble of Darrell, and smart.

I’m sure some of them have forgotten I display their profile, even though I asked them…years ago. Howie Lyhte, PMP receives kind words from me for his extensive Experience section, as well as his handsome photograph. He’s a program/project manager who’s also known around these parts for his volunteer work for the unemployed.

Lastly, Ken Masson, my hero because of his volunteer activity and founding The New England Job Show is another profile I show to my workshop attendees. His is a great example of diversity through strong community service.

I find it necessary to share all these great profiles with my customers as a way to back up what I say. Great photos, strong Summaries, excellent Experience sections, examples of volunteerism. It’s all good. If you are struggling with your profile, check out the ones in this entry. Also, visit profiles as I suggested earlier on in this entry.

It’s unanimous; volunteer

Recently I wrote an article on the virtues of volunteering. I know the thought is unsettling to some because they’d be working without pay and, erroneously thinking, it would take away from their job search, but the benefits of volunteering far outweigh the drawbacks, e.g. working without pay.

I read a recent article by James Alexander on that further enforces the power of volunteering. Titled How Volunteering Can Land You a Job, it elaborates on how you can effectively network, possibly move up in the organization, and land strong recommendations—something I hadn’t thought of.

Another proponent of volunteering is Dawn Bugni who wrote an article called Volunteer to Network. She is so pumped about volunteering that she’s written many articles on this subject. Dawn is a Master Resume Writer (MRW), Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and has been published in countless books.

When you decide to volunteer, be sure it’s the ideal situation, whether it’s at a non-profit organization or a for-profit business. Volunteering is particularly useful if you’re thinking about changing your career. This will give you the opportunity to 1) get into the industry and learn the skills necessary, and 2) determine if your career change is the right thing for you.

As one of my customers told me during a workshop, volunteering led her to her last job; and it was the best decision she made. I hope she repeats her latest success.