Author Archives: Things Career Related

About Things Career Related

Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 17 job search workshops at an urban career center, as well as critiques LinkedIn profiles and conducts mock interviews. Job seekers and staff look to him for advice on the job search. In addition, Bob has gained a reputation as a LinkedIn authority in the community. He started the first LinkedIn program at the Career Center of Lowell and created workshops to support the program. People from across the state attend his LinkedIn workshops. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. For enjoyment, he blogs at Things Career Related and Recruiter.com. Connect with Bob on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.

It’s all important when it comes to your LinkedIn campaign

An optimized profile is important, but it’s not the end all be all. A strong LinkedIn campaign also includes a focused network and engagement. This is clear based on a poll I conducted on LinkedIn. At the end of the poll, 787 people weighed in. I would say this is a legitimate case study.

poll results

As you can see from the poll, 49% of the voters gave the nod to “They’re Equally Important,” but that answer was too easy in retrospect. So “Engagement with One’s Network” earns the champion’s cup with nine more percentage points than the profile and network options combined.

Hold on a second, you’re probably thinking, “How can one even engage without a profile or a focused network?” This is a good point. My question is, “Would you show up to a dinner with a pie that is short by one-third? The point is that you need all of it to be successful.

An optimized profile is not enough

Linkedin declared this a while back when their members were loading their profiles with keywords, namely in the headline and position titles. I once came upon a profile that had—no lie—approximately 900 instances of “web designer” on it. Things were getting crazy.

It’s widely agreed that one needs at least to have a quality photo and a strong headline to start their LinkedIn campaign. But surely that’s not enough.

There’s also an industry-related background photo to consider. You can go with the light-blue, dot-line, thingy LinkedIn provides as the default image, but that’s a sign of, “I didn’t know I can change it,” “I don’t have time to change it,” or “I don’t give a damn.”

Your About section has become the talk of the town. Tell your story, show your value, have a Call to Action, are familiar pieces of advice you’ve heard. I wrote on this subject when it was still called a Summary. Rather than repeat what I’ve written, I ask you to read the article.

I constantly complain that people don’t explain what they’ve done at their positions. It’s as if the Experience section is an afterthought. And yes, you can write it in the first-person point of view so it doesn’t resemble your resume. Also, just deliver the juicy stuff; don’t include your mundane duties.

Very briefly I’ve explained why you need a profile in order to show your value. You’re probably saying, “But you left out a lot of information.” I have.

Read more about the profile here.

The oft-forgotten network

According to the poll, this ranks last at 10% which seems kind of ridiculous. With whom would you communicate without your network? It’s like having no family members, friends, and work associates in your life. You have to have people with whom to share information.

That’s why you need to be selective in terms of who you invite to your network and accept invitations from. You want to have conversations—i.e., long-form posts, shared articles, comments on posts, articles you’ve written—with people who actually care.

Read more about the LinkedIn network here.

I go by the cliche 80-20 rule; 80% of your network should be like-minded, 20% of it people you find interesting. Am I successful in this effort? Do as I say, not what I do.

Of course what you do makes a difference. If you’re looking for work, for example, you want to focus on people who will get you closer to your final destination such as your former colleagues, people at your target companies, recruiters, and like-minded people who are in your industry.

If you’re currently working, your range of connections will be slightly different. You might consider connecting with people in various occupations and industries. Salespeople would connect with people in vertical industries, as would marketers and accountants, etc.

Many of my connections are career coaches who have a client base of a variety of occupations and industries, so they connect with executive level and mid-management job seekers. Nonetheless, they also have in their networks other career developer types.

Engagement is tough but necessary

Returning to job seekers; here’s where many of them drop the ball, and I speculate that if they voted in the poll, they chose either the profile or network options. My reason for saying this is because I rarely see them engaging on LinkedIn.

I see two reasons for this. First, engaging might not be their thing. They might not enjoy writing articles, sharing and commenting on articles, scripting long posts, or even short posts. Furthermore, they probably don’t see the value in becoming visible on LinkedIn. Huge mistake, in my mind.

The second reason they don’t engage is that they don’t feel they have a “right” to. I recall one client who when I asked him why he didn’t engage on LinkedIn, told me this exact reason. And he was a former director of communications. I repeat, a former director of communications.

Another client of mine wrote a wonderful piece on working in chaos and as an executive, he encourages it. He ran the piece by me for my approval but never did anything with it. I bet dollar to a donut now that he’s working he’ll probably turn it into an article. Or maybe not.

The sad fact of the matter is that the majority of LinkedIn members who engage on LinkedIn are the same people over, over, and over. I often think, “Where are the new folks?” When I see new contributors, they engage maybe once or twice.

Here’s the major rule for job seekers: if you’re going to communicate with your network, don’t go at it half-assed. Take the plunge. Job seekers especially need to get their faces and headlines on hiring authorities’ radars.

Read about engaging on LinkedIn here.

And lastly, don’t let low views, reactions, or just a few comments deter you. The people who are getting a lot of love have been at this for a while, but this isn’t their playground. Be the new kid on the block who asks to be part of the pick-up game. The next Michael Jordan.


So yeah, answer number four might have been the easy pick, but this is what it essentially boils down to; you have to focus on all three of the components. Focusing on only your profile won’t garner results. Boasting you have thousands of connections won’t do any good unless you communicate with them. Complete the job by performing all three.

11 LinkedIn experts weigh in on where to start your LinkedIn campaign

Working for a One-Stop career center, I’m often confronted by job seekers who haven’t used LinkedIn but know they must in order to shorten their job search. Some of them believe they should begin by writing a compelling profile which makes good sense. But is a profile alone enough?

woman in white dress shirt using laptop computer

Put yourself in my clients’ shoes; you’re starting with nothing. Of course you need to have a profile, and the best you might accomplish is copying and pasting your resume to your profile for the time being. First and foremost Sarah Johnston advises to create a strong headline:

The first thing a job seeker should do is to consider their headline to make sure that it delivers the most value. LinkedIn only gives you 120 characters for the headline. Make sure that you are maximizing those characters to the fullest with search terms.  No recruiter is searching for #ONO or people open to new opportunities UNLESS they need a temp or contract worker for an immediate fill role. Use words that a recruiter would actually search for to find someone like you.

So where do you go from there? Perhaps just as important is inviting people to the party. In other words, building a targeted network of the most important tier of connections and expanding from there.

And equally important would be communicating with your network. After all, if you don’t engage, your out of sight out of mind. I know it sounds like a cliché but any LinkedIn expert will agree that engagement is key to your campaign.

I wanted to know what great LinkedIn minds think about how one should start and maintain their LinkedIn campaign. Here’s what they wrote:

A strong profile is necessary to start

Andy Foote says be deliberate when writing your profile. Do your research by looking at what others write.

Before you do anything with your own LinkedIn page, look around. Peruse a few career blogs, search on “LinkedIn” within them. Then spend half a day browsing LinkedIn, search on relevant hashtags like #linkedin and #linkedintips and #andydoeslinkedin (that last one is mine).

Look at as many profiles as you can and take notes, what do you think makes a “strong profile” and why? What elements do you need? What impresses you? What should you avoid doing? After you’ve thoroughly researched and made notes, roll your sleeves up and get to work on creating your new and refreshed LinkedIn presence.

Once you’ve finished, pick 5 people you trust and ask them for their honest opinion of your new profile page, take before and after screenshots if you really want to show them the transformation that has taken place. If they suggest changes, implement those if it makes sense to you to do so. Thank them for their feedback.

Understand that the LinkedIn profile is a living and breathing document, it needs to change as you change, so get into the habit of updating and tweaking it regularly. It is also a powerful networking device. Thousands of people will look at it over the course of your life!

Susan Joyce encourages new LinkedIn users to be cognizant of using keywords and making sure your profile is consistent with your resume.

Starting or Restarting LinkedIn

If you are new to LinkedIn or haven’t been active on LinkedIn while employed, start by building or updating your profile. A robust and focused LinkedIn profile is the foundation for a successful job search today. Know what you want to do next, and focus your LinkedIn profile to show you are qualified (very important keywords!).  Then, add contact information and make your profile “public” in the privacy settings.

Recruiters rely on LinkedIn because your colleagues, family, and friends see your LinkedIn profile, so misrepresentations are less likely.

Your LinkedIn profile should support the claims made on your resume and demonstrate your understanding of the importance of online visibility.  When your profile contains examples of related accomplishments demonstrating those qualifications, your claims of skills or expertise are more effective. Recommendations from former bosses, co-workers, and clients plus endorsements for those skills, increase your credibility (and keywords!).

The profile plus professional visibility in posts and comments are the foundation of your professional credibility. If you are employed, your LinkedIn profile and activities show management and colleagues your knowledge and expertise while, at the same time, attracting the attention of potential clients and, possibly, new employers (more keywords!).

Shelly Elsliger emphasizes using this time to have fun on LinkedIn and write your story to attract recruiters.

In the face of Covid-19, LinkedIn has become an even cooler space to hang out for both job seekers and recruiters. To continue a level of normalcy, in the face of uncertain times, LinkedIn has gained popularity because it does an amazing job at helping job seekers tell their career stories, showcase their brands, build their professional relationships, and find countless opportunities.

For recruiters, it is an ideal space to potentially find who they are actively searching for. However, there is a caveat; for employers to find the “best sellers,” they need to be able to successfully search and then decide which stories need to be explored further.

Therefore, it is necessary for job seekers to write their stories first because the story is what highlights relevant skills, experience, education, unique attributes, and personality characteristics of potential candidates. It also indicates to recruiters just how confident and invested job seekers are in relation to their professional brand. The LinkedIn story acts as the foundation to help build credibility, support activity, and deepen connection on LinkedIn

Take it further with targeted network and engagement

Kevin Turner writes that creating a targeted audience and engaging with them is also important. 

As much has been written about LinkedIn profile best practices, I’m not going to spend our time on that.

To really accelerate your momentum on LinkedIn focus on Targeting your Audience & Engaging with Knowledge to build your Brand and Demand.

Targeting Your Audience on LinkedIn:

  • Research, Find, and [Follow] at least 25 to 100 Target Companies
  • Research, Find, and [Follow] all Leadership of your Target Companies
  • Set up Job Search Alerts for those Companies and Select [Notify recruiters]
  • Visit each company [Page] and [Follow] their #HashTags, so they appear in your Feed
  • Set up Google Alerts for each Target Company and their Leadership

Engaging Your Audience:

  • Know each company’s and leader’s pain points and how you may be able to solve them
  • Watch your Feed for Post Opportunities from your Targets that you can intelligently contribute too by [Like], [Comment], & [Reshare]
  • If a conversation sparks, be ready to nurture the process, and if this becomes a repeatable pattern send a personalized invite to [Connect]
  • At the right time, reach out to your new Connection with a request for their advice in the form of an informational interview

Follow these steps, and your LinkedIn experience can be transformed into a powerful campaign focused on creating your dream opportunity.nce can be transformed into a powerful campaign focused on creating your dream opportunity.

Ana Lokotkova offers that once your profile is completed you need to get on the radar of the people who work in the companies for which you want to work

Once you have a compelling LinkedIn profile, you want to find ways to get more eyes on it. No matter how many keywords you pack into it, your LinkedIn profile will not pop up at the tops of recruiters’ and employers’ searches unless you are active on the platform. That’s just how the algorithm works.

What’s the best way to get started, you ask? Create a list of companies you’d like to work for. This list can include not only your target companies, but also their competitors.

Next step is to identify people who work in those companies and check them out on LinkedIn. Go to their profiles and head straight to their “Activity” tab. That’s how you’ll know what content they engage with and which communities they are part of.

You need to show up there as well! Start engaging and commenting. This is a very effective way to break the ice and warm up those contacts before you reach out to them directly. It’s much easier to start a conversation once they see how much you have in common.

Virginia Franco states that engagement, not simply liking, as well as finding decision-makers at target companies are key to success.

I recommend starting by working to complete as many portions of the profile as possible, but in a pinch at a minimum have a headshot, customized headline, About, Experience, Education and Skills/Endorsement section complete.

From there, I recommend posting something at least once a week (once a day/3X per week is preferable), and/or engaging in the post of a handful of others that appear to be leaders and engaged on the platform. While liking someone’s article is good, adding a comment of your own is best to capitalize on LinkedIn’s algorithms.

Lastly, I recommend they use LinkedIn to identify decision-makers at companies they are targeting and strive for at least 5 email/Inmail outreaches daily. These outreaches should express their desire to learn, not to ask for a job.

Madeline Mann suggests starting with the profile basics and then reaching out to hiring managers at your target companies.

A great LinkedIn strategy is holistic, but the 3 factors that will dramatically outweigh the rest are your: photo, headline, and outreach strategy. Your headline should convey the value you add to the world by containing the same keywords that repeatedly appear in the job descriptions you are pursuing. If you are unsure how to uncover which keywords to include, follow these steps.

Next, your photo. It is important that you appear competent and likeable in your image. The biggest mistakes I see are selfies, poor lighting, and strange crops (cropping others out, making the crop to be your full body). Take the time to take a nice photo of yourself outside with your phone while dressed professionally, and then get feedback on Photo Feeler.

Finally, the outreach strategy. Contact people at your target companies. Focus on getting a referral or getting in contact with the hiring manager. It’s a common mistake to reach out to the recruiter because they have a flooded inbox and ultimately are not a decision-maker when it comes to choosing a candidate. For a deeper explanation of how to do this, including templates of what to say, you can go here.

Biron Clark advises to go the extra mile and impress hiring authorities with articles and long posts you’ve written on your subject matter.

If you want to stand out from other job seekers on LinkedIn, you have to do something they’re not doing! I’m talking about going the extra mile.

This doesn’t mean you should skip the basics, though. I recommend setting up a great profile first and focusing on the “quick wins”– areas that don’t take much time but get seen often and can have a big impact,  namely your headshot, headline, most recent jobs, etc.

Here’s one idea that I strongly recommend: Write articles on LinkedIn about a topic related to your industry. They don’t have to be extremely long; 500-750 words are fine. Then pin your selected articles to LinkedIn’s Featured section.

When hiring managers see your profile, your selected articles that you’ve pinned to your profile might be the only one they’ve seen all day!

Anyone can do what I suggest, even a recent graduate or someone with just a couple of years of experience. Here’s an example:

Imagine you’ve worked in customer service for 9 months. That’s not much experience at all, right? Yet you could still write a 500-word piece on: “10 customer service phrases that calm angry customers and boost customer satisfaction ratings.”

Now, this would really show your expertise and impress hiring authorities.

Have an overall plan

Maureen McCann gives us a 5-step plan including a profile with strong SEO, being referred to people with whom you want to connect, and following a plan of attack.

𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐟𝐢𝐥𝐞. Think of this as your home page. This is where people go to learn more about you. It teaches others what you’re all about and whether they want to connect with you.

𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐩𝐡𝐨𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐠𝐨 𝐨𝐧 𝐋𝐢𝐧𝐤𝐞𝐝𝐈𝐧. Invest time in getting these two things right because people will see these things before they ever read your profile.

𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐩 𝐰𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝. SEO is important if you want employers to find you, but why wait? Go out and find the people you want to meet. Use connections you already have to introduce you to connections you want to make. Don’t be shy. Ask for what you want. “Hey Bob, I see you know Oprah, I’d love it if you could introduce me?”

𝐄𝐧𝐠𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬. Comment, discuss and ask questions. Follow the topics that most interest you. Employers are watching so be sure to be professional and refrain from complaining.

𝐇𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐚 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧.. Be consistent with what you share with your audience. Yes, you can have multiple interests and hobbies, but dedicate your LinkedIn profile to sharing content that both attracts employers and demonstrates the value of hiring you!

Adrienne Tom says to focus on building a robust profile, connecting with people of interest, and spending meaningful time on LinkedIn engaging with your connections.

If you are new to LinkedIn, use a 3-pronged approach. Start by building a robust and tailored LinkedIn profile. To support profile success, ensure you know what types of people and opportunities you want to attract to your page, and align LinkedIn content with the needs of the target audience. Using the right keywords in your content can help you get found.

Next, connect with people of interest. Research and engage with potential decision-makers, recruiters, or people who could potentially support your job search. LinkedIn is a giant database just waiting to be leveraged in search activities. Use it thoroughly to get connected with the right people.

Finally, get active on the site. This third step – which is often forgotten or overlooked – is critical for site success! If getting active seems overwhelming, break down actions into smaller steps like: spend 10-minutes each day reading the feed; make one meaningful comment on a post of interest; and connect with one person of interest with a customized connection request.

It is important to keep your profile fresh by engaging consistently. Recent activity shows right on your profile. If you haven’t been active for some time, your profile will look stale. Also, aim to be personable yet professional in all communications. Your comments and shares have the potential to be seen by many people, including prospective employers. Strive to make a good impression, always.


You’ve heard it from some great LinkedIn minds giving their advice on how to start and continue on LinkedIn. Yes a profile is important, but so is building a network and engaging with your network. Don’t be like some of my clients; build your profile and wait for them (recruiters and other hiring authorities) to come.

In a poll I created recently, close to 750 people have weighed in on what they feel is most important to a LinkedIn campaign (the profile, building a network, engaging with your network, or all). Hustle over to the poll and cast your vote.

 

 

College grads, any honest work is a good work

A very short story.

My father once told me that honest work is good work. This was when I was working at a hardware store and hating life because I wasn’t putting my education to use. I graduated with a major in English and wanted to be a teacher and coach soccer. (I think I wanted to coach soccer more.)

agriculture close up environment farm

Skip 34 years later and now I’m telling my daughter the same thing. She has just graduated and her future is uncertain; one summer camp counselor job she planned to have won’t be running during the summer.

Following the summer job she plans to teach for City Year in Sacramento, but this gig might not happen due to COVID-19. She was in the midst of interviews and things looked good, but a week ago she received a letter from the school.

The letter she received from the recruiter was kind. It led with, “THIS IS NOT A REJECTION.” I explained to her that the school for which she would teach needs to figure if they will open in the fall. Still she thinks of it as a rejection.

Recently she applied to work at a farm doing who knows what. She could be picking vegetables, bagging groceries (this is a large farm), running a cash register, driving the apple-picking tractor (run for your lives, people), directing traffic, or a number of things.

To say I’m proud of her doesn’t come close to the way I feel. Given a different time, I might be thinking–even out loud–that she’s not utilizing her four-year education. But these are different times we’re facing.

Internships have fallen through, seasonal jobs have disappeared, and long-term positions are put on hold or eliminated. And, of course, unemployment is as high as more than 15%.

For recent grads and those who have been laid off long ago or more recently, keep in mind that honest work is good work, as my father used to say.

Whether my daughter gets the farm job or not, I’m immensely proud of her.

Please watch this very impactful video, from Sarah Johnston, which delivers an encouraging message to the class of 2020.

Updating your LinkedIn Profile during COVID-19: 5 major areas

We’re in the midst of COVID-19 which has forced many of us to stay at home. To make matters worse, unemployment has risen to unprecedented levels. On the surface, things aren’t looking good. But I don’t need to tell you this if you’re out of work.

serious adult bearded worker using tablet near window in workshop

I also don’t need to tell you that being stuck inside probably leaves you sitting in front of your computer searching for jobs online; checking your LinkedIn and Facebook streams; or worst-case scenario, watching Netflix and the good ole tele. You have some time on your hands.

Now is the time to work on your LinkedIn profile, especially if it needs a lot of work. Not for nothing, I’ve reviewed and written hundreds of LinkedIn profiles, so I know there are some great ones, average ones, and downright poor ones.

Writing a profile is hard work and time-consuming; but if you want to separate yourself from the poor to average, you’ll have to dedicate some effort. Take advantage of the time all of us have on our hands due to COVID-19. Let’s take this step by step.

First, think about your accomplishments

Now is the time to think hard about your accomplishments. Easier said than done, you think. You think everything you did while working was just part of your job. Nothing special. I get it. But you have accomplished more than you think.

I tell my clients, who claim they can’t think of any accomplishments, to reach out to people with whom they worked for help thinking about their accomplishments. Like my clients, you might be too close to your accomplishments to recognize them as such.

For example, you led a team of five people that always delivered assignments on time despite tight deadlines. You don’t think of it as a major accomplishment. But if you were to reach out to members of your former crew, they’d tell you how your leadership made all of it possible.

The question is how do you reach out to your former colleagues? Put your computer to better use; set up a time to meet with video streaming platforms like Zoom, Skype, and Facetime. In some ways it’s easier to communicate with people than getting together for coffee.

After you’ve accumulated accomplishments you didn’t realize you achieved, you’re ready to go to work on your LinkedIn profile.

Your profile

Countless articles have been written on how to create an optimized profile that brands you. Take a look at yours and if it doesn’t accomplish this, now’s the time to make it right. I’m going to point out the most important sections on which to focus. Once you’ve nailed these, work on the others.

Snapshot area: background image, photo, headline

This is the area is at the top of your profile. It should include a background image first and foremost. Make sure your background image brands you by illustrating your industry and/or occupation. An image of a mountainscape or seashore is acceptable, as it describes your personality.

You might consider this statement to be too strong: you must include a photo because without it you won’t come across as memorable, trusted, and liked. What’s most important about your photo is that it’s high quality. This might be a tough order, as many photographers aren’t open for business.

Fix: have someone with a smartphone take your photo. I’ve seen some really great photos taken with an iPhone and Android.

A strong headline is essential. If your Headline is about your situation—you’re unemployed—it adds no value to your profile. This is where you want to tout your areas of expertise. Make it keyword rich like this:

Marketing Manager ~ Collaborative Planning | Customer Business Management | Brand and Product Marketing | MBA

A branding statement will also work but it won’t draw as many searchers, e.g., recruiters, as a headline that includes industry-related keywords will.

About section: they why, how, and what

The most important lines in your About section are the first three, where you need to entice the reader to continue reading. This is approximately 50 words, so make them count. Look at your opening paragraph as the Why. In other words, why should they click “see more.”

The “What” you do (to solve the “Why”) can be the next paragraph. Finally, “How” you do what you do rounds out your About section. Throw in some accomplishments here. As mentioned above, if you’re having trouble thinking of your accomplishments, ask people you worked with or your spouse.

Note: Don’t forget your call to action: your email address and telephone number (if you want to include it.

woman working at home using her laptop

Experience section: be more descriptive

The Experience section has been much neglected, in my opinion. Again, take some time to think about what you’ve accomplished at your previous jobs. Many people simply list their company name, title, and years of tenure. This is a shame. Even if you are/were the CEO of a company, at least describe what the company does.

Another thing people don’t realize is that you can add more to your title. For example, you are a Financial Analyst at Biogen with areas of expertise in Data Analysis, Project Management, Contract Negotiations, and Renewable Energy. Your title should read:

Financial Analyst ~ Data Analysis | Project Management | Contract Negotiations | Renewable Energy

You’ve been told not to simply copy and paste your résumé’s Experience information to your profile. I agree…to a point. While you won’t want to include everything from your résumé everything, including the kitchen sink, you will list only the highlights from your résumé.

And don’t be hesitant to show some personality in your Experience section. This is another place where you can tell your story. Here’s the job summary of my profile:

I’m more than a workshop facilitator & designer; I’m a career and LinkedIn strategist who constantly thinks of ways to better market my customers in their job search. Through disseminating trending job-search strategies, I increase our customers’ chances of finding jobs.

Read: 5 reasons why you shouldn’t ignore your LinkedIn profile Experience section

Education section: continue to tell your story

This is another section that can be expanded to tell your story. Sure you earned a Mechanical Engineer degree at MIT. Impressive, but that wasn’t all that you did while there. You were also an editor of the engineering newspaper. You also rowed Varsity crew.

I always ask my clients if they earned a degree while working full-time. Hands go up. “Do you have this fact listed on your profile,” I ask them. Hands go down. I reprimand them saying this factoid shows diligence, time management, among other skills. It’s not easy. Ask my wife who’s earning a Masters in Project Management.

Skills and endorsements/recommendations: help others

I want you to take some time to endorse your connections for their skills in the Skills and Endorsements section. A close connection of mine, Shelly Elsliger, prompted people to do this for a day. I thought it was a great way to get people active. Now that you have time, endorse your connections.

The same goes for writing recommendations for people you managed. Take this time to make their day and send them a recommendation out of the blue. Don’t wait for them to ask, because they probably won’t. This is a great way to show your authority and the values you hold in employees.

If you need recommendations, ASK! I find this is one of the hardest parts for people who are developing their profile. Fear of rejection. Afraid of putting people out. There are a number of excuses. Take this time to write your own recommendations and have someone approve it.


The rest

The easy part is done. What, you’re thinking? That’s right; you have reacted to what I’ve suggested. Now it’s time to activate your profile by reaching out to like-minded people to create a focused network. Once your network is established, you need to engage with them.

I won’t tell you that what we’re going through is a blessing, but I’ll tell you that you need to make the best of this unfortunate situation. Begin with your profile and work from there. One more thing, your profile doesn’t need to be perfect in order for your LinkedIn campaign to be put to use.

 

3 facts about this impersonal job search: why adapting is important

With the COVID-19 pandemic, job seekers don’t have the option of attending in-person networking events, job clubs, buddy groups, or coffee meetings; at least for the time being. A time will come when they can engage in face-to-face networking. When this will happen is not certain, but it will happen.

woman typing a business plan on laptop

Similarly, face-to-face interviews are canceled at most companies. Job candidates look forward to interviewing at companies, as it promises the hope of landing positions at their desired companies. Again, a time will come when job seekers will return to face-to-face interviews.

This is the problem. What’s the solution? Virtual meetings via Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, Facetime, GoogleHangout, and other video platforms are the solution. The good ole telephone can’t be dismissed, but it doesn’t offer the intimacy that video conferences do.

1. What’s missing

Being in the moment is the most obvious missing piece in networking and interviews. Eye contact, a clear view of people’s facial expressions, body language overall are sorely missing. I, for one, feel more alive when in the moment of having human contact. I’m an introvert, so this is not an introvert/extravert thing.

Also missing is physical contact such as shaking hands, handing a networking partner your business card, or even a tap on the shoulder. The same goes for in an interview scenario where the handshake is considered one of the most important components of body language.

What about eye language? This is also key in both scenarios. Eyes speak. They can show sincerity, intelligence, interest, concern, or on the flipside dishonesty. Companies that use AI in their pre-recorded video interviews believe that eye contact counts for a lot.

We are human. We enjoy being present. There’s comfort in standing or sitting across from someone. Shaking hands, making eye contact, and the rest. Even getting in our cars to drive to networking events and interviews are part of the job-search process. There’s comfort in this.

2. What can job seekers do?

This will take a little practice for job seekers. It will require them to get into their stretch zone. They’ll have to make use of whatever resources they have. Maybe they’ll need to spend money they don’t necessarily have. It will require them to readjust their thinking.

If you’re looking for work, this is a time when you’ll have to rise to the challenge of the impersonal job search. At least for the time being. It will require a different mindset. For example, you might be using a laptop which rests on your lap or sits on a table. This is your contact with a person or people miles away.

Getting used to looking at that little bright dot at the top of your laptop will seem weird at first or forever. But it’s something you need to do in order to make eye contact with whomever you’re communicating. I do webinars on a regular basis and believe me, it will never be natural.

Smiling at someone or ones on the other end of the line might also seem weird but it’s something you’ll have to do. People will judge your enthusiasm based on your smile. Smiling will show you’re friendly, approachable, likable, et cetera.

Finding the proper space to conduct your video interview might be a challenge, as well. Find a place in your home or apartment that is well lit. I find bright overhead lighting as well as lighting directed at my face on both sides to be the best. There’s nothing less appealing than dark lighting.

Note: Arlene Pierret, a recruiter at Facebook, recently said during a panel discussion for Hope Summit that recruiters will most likely give you a break on your space, but it’s best to handle it professionally.

Your background is also important. It should be devoid of embarrassing clutter in the background. I’ve seen people with laundry piled up in the background. Not good. What’s acceptable are nice prints, books, plants, et cetera. A room with items in it also reduces echo.

Background noise is also a negative. I’ve spoken with people who’ve had to conduct their virtual meetings from inside a closet, which in return causes an echo. Try to find a room that has items in the room and, most importantly, a door you can close.

3. Why this can be a good thing

The good news is that this impersonal job search is prepping you for remote work. You might be learning how to use Zoom or other video platforms. You have to practice better time management skills. No one is looking over your shoulder telling you what to do.

You’re learning to adapt to less than ideal circumstances. Like me, you’re realizing that there aren’t enough rooms in the house and that you can’t escape to a quieter place outside the house, but you’re adapting and this is a good thing.

You might be spending more time with loved ones; time you didn’t have in the past. You’re having family meals that might have been seriously curtailed by your former work schedule. I know these seem like small things now, but you will look back on them with fondness.

Employers are still hiring

If you think employers aren’t hiring, think again. Employers are hiring, albeit slowly. A few of my clients have been offered jobs during the pandemic. Some of them are being delayed with onboarding, others started immediately with a little difficulty in terms of logistics.

Employers continue to prepare for a time when they will open their doors. This means that you might be offered a job that begins in a few months, which is a long time. So be smart and consider looking for other positions. From a SHRM.com article:

Says, Joseph Puglise, senior director of executive search and recruiting at JMJ Phillip, a global executive search firm, “We’re seeing a mixed bag around how companies respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have many clients that are pushing the interview process forward for critical openings, with slight modifications.”

Champion of job seekers, Susan Joyce, publishes a weekly list of companies that are advertising positions. It is an extensive list, but Susan stresses:

Employee referral makes you stand out among the vast crowd of people who apply anonymously. So, leverage your network (LinkedIn is helpful for this). Find people who work at one of these employers IF you want to work for that employer.

Nonetheless, take a look at the list of open positions Susan publishes. It might give you ideas of other similar companies to include on your target list.

You have more time to do what you should, research employers of interest. Many job seekers spend the majority of their time on their computer applying for jobs. They blast off tens of resumes a week and wait for a response from employers.

Instead use this time developing a company list and researching them extensively, thus setting you up to write tailored resumes and being prepared for interviews.

Your work future might be different

Adaptability will be required if you want to jump out of the gate to land your next gig. For example, you might have to change your career if you were in industries like retail or food. This isn’t to say you can’t get back to what you love. But “transferrable skills” will become a familiar term.

Things will be different when you land your next gig. In other words, you might not return to an office, or if you do the employees could be staggard, as The Washington Post suggests. Working from home could be a thing for quite a while.

Or working at home might become the new reality. It costs some companies less to have their employees work from home. They can reduce office space and overhead costs.

Hopefully you’ve have become more proficient with video interviewing platforms. You held buddy networking groups and job clubs online. You learned better time management skills. Don’t take these skills lightly.

There are organizations that weren’t up to speed with this simple technology before COVID-19 hit. They’re playing catch-up. You could be a savior that teaches them more about the technology you’ve been learning.


There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world on its head. Things have changed dramatically. Now is the time when we can embrace the change or buckle under it. I opt for embracing it and adapting to the way things are and the way things will be.

12 ways to show high emotional intelligence in the job search

I recall a time when I was leading a Résumé Writing workshop before COVID-19 struck. (Now I’ll be leading webinars for the unforeseen future.) As the story goes, one gentleman was staring at me the whole time. He never spoke, just shot daggers at me as I was conducting the workshop.

happy jobseeker

We’re told as presenters to look at the friendly participants because they’ll give you courage, but the one who looked like he could kill was the one I focused on. He was my challenge.

He was not angry with me, but his demeanor told me learning about writing résumés was not on his mind. He was probably thinking about how he was unjustly let go from his previous job for arguing with his boss for the fifth time in three months.

We’ve read a great deal about the importance of emotional intelligence (EQ) in the workplace, particularly for those who hold leadership roles. But what about how EQ applies to your job search? Without a strong degree of EQ, your job search is doomed. Below are 12 ways you can demonstrate EQ.

Self-awareness and self-management

This means you’re in tune with your emotions and abilities or lack thereof. You’re also capable of managing your emotions and abilities.

1. Own your emotions. Grief is one of the five phases of job loss. It also happens to be a phase people experience when they’ve lost a loved one. Be intuned with your grief but don’t let it consume you. Understand that your unemployment is temporary.

Anger is also one of the five phases a person will face when they’ve lost their job. Although a natural feeling, it can be the most detrimental to your job search. People can see it in your eyes and posture, hear it in your voice. This is the quickest way to push them away.

Someone with high EQ doesn’t show their grief and anger; rather they find ways to channel them. Perhaps turning to exercise, meditation, or seeking therapy. This is part of managing your emotions.

2. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Emotional intelligence means you’re aware of your strengths and weaknesses and can discuss both in a factual fashion. When it comes to your strengths, be sure you can back them up with proof of how you’ve demonstrated them.

In terms of your weaknesses, don’t be disingenuous with statements like “I work too hard,” or “I’m a perfectionist.” Many job seekers have been told they need to turn their weaknesses into strengths. This ploy can be seen miles away. Employers want people who are self-aware, who can recognize their weaknesses and overcome them.

3. Take on challenges. Rather than turn and run the other way, a job seeker with high EQ will face difficult or uncomfortable situations. It might mean making the decision to change your career, attend networking events requiring you to leave your comfort zone, or join LinkedIn and use it to its potential.

The majority of people who enter our career center take on the challenge of finding a new job, while others wait for a job to find them. Those who come to our center and approach me with hunger in their eyes possess high EQ.

4. Dress and act the part. First impressions are essential. In the job search, prior to the interview, smart job seekers understand they are on stage from the time they leave their house to the time they return. Demonstrating high EQ is not only necessary at the interview; it must be integrated into your daily life.

I recall one recruiter who was unemployed and attending my workshops telling me that she scans the room for people who might fit a role she would be filling in the future. If she sensed any negativity, that person wouldn’t get hired. Remember that being a fit is part of getting hired.

5. Take care of yourself. One thing I ask my clients is if they’re exercising. Are you walking or running? Going to the gym? Even parking in the spot farthest from the grocery store? Other ways to take care of yourself are refraining from nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, and cutting down on food intake.

When I was out of work I increased my walking time from 45 minutes a day to 90 minutes or more. This helped clear my mind from the obsessive destructive thoughts of being out of work. I also lost a few pounds, which was helpful for my self-image.

Social awareness of others and managing others

This means you’re aware of others’ emotions and abilities. Further, you can use your social awareness to manage relationships. While you might see this as pertinent only to leadership roles, it also applies to the job search.

6. Understand the job search is stressful for others. And that you’re not alone. The feelings of uneasiness and anxiety are natural. This, however, doesn’t give you the authority to lash out at others, including family. Control your negative behavior.

My colleague Edythe Richards, Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner, states, “People with active EQ are able to handle the stress of the job search without it getting them down, and have good impulse control (2 other elements of EQ).”

Furthermore, realize the job search is stressful for other job seekers. Practice empathy. If they are visibly upset, put yourself in their shoes.

7. You’re willing to help others. When you need help in your job search is the time you should think of other people who are also looking for work. Not everyone who is in need thinks of helping others, but those with high EQ realize that helping others will garner help in return.

You will get a sense of accomplishment that propels you forward. You also win the respect and support of others. On the flip side are the ones who only look out for themselves and, as a result, turn people away.

8. Be a leader. Taking the aforementioned trait, you not only help others; you are a leader by example. You show up at job clubs or networking groups (virtually nowadays) with your head held high. Although things aren’t going well, you show a positive facade.

One of my clients, a VP of Engineers, just landed a job that will begin in June. He remained positive throughout his job search. There were times when I could see the stress on his face, but he maintained the “I will prevail attitude.” He was a leader to others in the group.

9. Don’t blame others. Blaming others for your mistakes is a red flag to employers. If someone is let go because of poor performance, they should admit their mistakes and talk about how they won’t happen again.

People who have high EQ realize that mistakes are inevitable. Those who openly blame their situation on their boss or colleagues come across as someone who can’t own up to their responsibilities. They will not learn from their mistakes, as employers see it.

10. Gravitate toward positive people. I remember when I was laid off from my marketing position and how I spent approximately three weeks commiserating with a colleague who was also laid off. We sat in a small, smoky bar and drank, blaming management for not keeping us during an acquisition.

I soon came to realize I wouldn’t improve my situation by commiserating with this person. It was getting depressing…and expensive. I stopped meeting with him and sought positive people with whom to be. Positive people bring out positivity.

11. Take and give criticism well. No one likes to be criticized for what they do, but people who have high EQ see it as constructive criticism or advice. Of course certain criticism is not constructive and should be disregarded.

People with high EQ will also give constructive criticism with the intent of helping others. This might mean helping someone with their résumé or LinkedIn profile, how to network, and provide interview tips.

12. Learn from your mistakes. One common problem job seekers suffer from is not being able to understand their mistakes, and then correcting them. Take a woman who has been “let go” from multiple companies for continuously arguing with her boss.

She will have a hard time keeping her job if she doesn’t develop EQ. She may see this as difficult to do, but her future jobs will rely on it. Employers who dig for deeper information regarding why you left your previous job can smell this like a bloodhound.


The man who appeared so angry in my workshop left at the end without saying a word (normally people hang around to ask questions). I thought it would be the last time I’d see him.

When I picked up his evaluation form, a saw what appeared to be a tome of comments. I also saw the highest-ranking, 5 out of 5, for every question on the form. Furthermore, he attended many more workshops…always appearing angry.

Photo, Flickr, Christian L87

5 ways to approach decision-makers at your target companies

Many job seekers believe that the first thing they must do after losing their job is to update their résumé. After updating their résumé, the next step is to apply online to as many jobs as they can and wait for the interview offers to come pouring in. Good plan? Not really.

Job Interview

If you think the above scenario is the way to go, I have a suggestion for you. It would be far better to be proactive in your job search by approaching companies for which you’d like to work. Easy to do? Not really, but your success will be greater.

Here are five steps to take when making connections at your desired companies.

1. Discovering which companies are growing the fastest is the start of the job search. This should be your first step, yet so many people don’t realize how valuable this information is.

I tell job seekers that they should have a list of 10-15 companies for which they’d like to work. Many don’t; they have a hard time naming five. Yet if some of them were asked to name their top five restaurants, they could.

2. Once you’ve located the companies you’d like to researched and decided which companies are the ones for which you would like to work, you should dedicate a great deal of your computer time visiting their websites.

Study what’s happening at your chosen companies. Read pages on their products or services, their press releases (if they’re a public company), biographies of the companies’ principals, and any other information that will increase your knowledge of said companies.

Your goal is to eventually make contact and meet with people at your target companies, so it makes sense to know about the companies before you engage in conversation. This research will also help when composing your résumé and cover letter and, of course, it will come into play at the interview.

3. The next step is to contact people in your network–former colleagues and bosses–who might know people in your desired companies. Don’t be afraid to approach them; they’ll most likely help you if you left on good terms.

If you don’t have familiar contacts at your target companies, you’ll have to identify new potential contacts. You might be successful ferreting them out by calling reception, but chances are you’ll have more success by utilizing LinkedIn’s Companies feature.

LinkedIn’s Companies feature is something job seekers have used to successfully make contact with people at their desired companies. Again, research is key in identifying the proper people with whom to speak.

You might have first degree connections that know the people you’d like to contact—connections who could send an introduction to someone in the company. These connections could include hiring managers, Human Resources, and directors of departments.

Let us not forget the power of personal, or face-to-face, networking. Reaching out to job seekers or people currently working can yield great advice and leads to contacts. Your superficial connections (neighbors, friends, etc.) may know people you’d like to contact.

4. Begin initial contact with those who you’ve identified as viable contacts. Your job is to become known to your desired companies. Will you be as well known as internal candidates? Probably not, but you’ll be better known than the schmucks who apply cold for the advertised positions—the 20%-30% of the jobs that thousands of other people are applying for.

Let’s face it; going through the process of applying for jobs on the major job boards is like being one of many casting your fishing line into a pond where a few fish exist. Instead, spend your time researching the companies so you’ll have illuminating questions to ask.

So, how do you draw the attention of potential employers?

Send your résumé directly to someone you’ve contacted at the company and ask that it be considered or passed on to other companies.

The risk of doing this is to be considered presumptuous. As well, your résumé will most likely be generic and unable to address the employer’s immediate needs.

Contact someone via the phone and ask for a networking meeting. This is more acceptable than sending your résumé, for the reason mentioned above.

People these days are often busy and, despite wanting to speak with you, don’t have a great deal of time to sit with you and provide you with the information you seek. So don’t be disappointed if you don’t get an enthusiastic reply.

Send a trusted and one-of-the-best-kept-secrets networking email. The approach letter is similar to making a cold call to someone at a company, but it is in writing and, therefore, less bold.

Employers are more likely to read a networking email than return your call. Unfortunately, it’s a slower process and doesn’t yield immediate results.

You might prefer sending a message through LinkedIn. If you’re going to do this, make sure there’s another point of contact, e.g., someone the recipient can go to ask about you. Include in your message a person trusted and liked by your desired contact. Her’es an example:

Hi Karen,

I see that you’re connected with Mark L. Brown, the director of finance at ABC Company. I’m currently in transition and am very interested in a senior financial analyst role.

Although there is no advertised position at ABC, I’d like to speak with Mark about the responsibilities of a senior financial analyst role in ABC’s finance department. It is early on in the process, so I’m also scoping out the companies on my bucket list.

I’ve attached my resume for you to distribute to Mark and anyone you know who is looking for a senior financial analyst.

Sincerely,

Bob

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

A networking meeting with the hiring manager or even someone who does what you do continues your research efforts. You will ask illuminating questions that provoke informative conversation At this point you’re not asking for a job, you’re asking for advice and information.

Two things could come out of a networking meeting. One, if they’re trying to fill a position within, your timing might be perfect and you might be recommended to the hiring manager. Two, you’ll ask for other people with whom you can meet. This is a great way to build a strong network.

5. Sealing the deal. Follow up with everyone you contacted at your selected companies. Send a brief e-mail or hard copy letter asking if they received your résumé or initial introductory letter. If you’ve met with them, thank them for their time and the valuable information they’ve imparted. Send your inquiry no later than a week after first contact.


People in the career development industry will never say finding a rewarding job is easy. In fact, the harder you work and the more proactive you are, the greater the rewards will be.

Take your job search into your own hands and don’t rely on coming across your ideal job on Monster.com, Dice.com, or any of the other overused job boards.

Your job is to secure an interview leading to the final prize, a job offer. But being proactive is essential to finding the companies for which you’d like to work, identifying contacts within those companies, and getting yourself well-known by important decision-makers.