Category Archives: Career Search

Is it time to de-clutter your résumé? 10 items to consider

Recently one of my clients presented to me a seven-page résumé to critique. My first reaction was to see if there were duplicate documents. Nope, it was one résumé. Before I had a chance to speak, he said, “I know, it’s too long.” Too long was an understatement.

Reading a Resume

I’m not a proponent of limiting the number of résumé pages to one, or even two. But seven-pages is definitely overdoing it. There was what I refer to a lot of clutter on this résumé. To begin with, I noticed multiple duplicate duty statements; some of them were repeated verbatim. This résumé needed to be de-cluttered.

Now, I’m asking you what has to go when you de-clutter your résumé. Here are 10 items you should remove from your document before submitting it for a position.

1. Home address

There are two reasons why you shouldn’t include your home address on your résumé. The first is pretty obvious. We no longer communicate via snail mail. Hiring authorities will contact you with email, LinkedIn messaging, and even text.

The second reason is that you can exclude yourself from consideration if you live beyond what hiring authorities consider commuting distance. Years ago a recruiter was kind enough to review my client’s résumé for an opening. He looked at it for two seconds and said, “No good. She lives 50 miles from our company.” Case in point.

2. Fluff

My gag reflex kicks into gear when I read a Summary that begins with: “Dedicated, results oriented, Sales Professional who works well as part of a team and independently….” There are so many violations with an opening like this.

The solution is obvious; stay clear of meaningless adjectives. The golden rule is show rather than tell. Try: Sales Manager who consistently outperforms projected sales growth by double figures. Collaborate with departments company-wide, ensuring customer satisfaction is achieved.

3. Graphics

Graphics are cool. They add panache to your résumé, are visually appealing, and say a thousand words. However, the applicant tracking system (ATS) doesn’t digest them well*. For example, one of my clients used a graphic for his name. Stunning. But when we tried to look him up with Bullhorn, he didn’t appear in the database.

Graphic artist, web designers, photographers, and other artistic types rely on graphics to demonstrate their work. Business developers, marketers, salespersons, etc. feel numeric graphs make a strong point when expressing their accomplishments. The ATS will kick these out.

If you feel your résumé could benefit from graphics, the solution is to get your résumé in the hands of the hiring manager, which is good policy anyways. Or if your résumé will be opened as an attachment, format your résumé to your heart’s content.

4. Objective statement

These words should be erased from your vocabulary. There is nothing redeeming about an Objective Statement. Most of them read: “Seeking an opportunity which provides growth, stability, and a rewarding opportunity.” Where in this Objective Statement is there mention of what the client brings to the employer?

Nowhere. That’s where. A Summary, on the other hand does a better job of telling what value you’ll bring to the table. That’s, of course, when fluff is excluded from it and an accomplishment or two are included. If you’re wondering how your résumé tells the employer the job you’re seeking, simply write it above the Summary.

5. Duties

Everyone performs duties, but who does them better; that’s what employers are trying to determine. Take the following duties my aforementioned client showed me followed by my reactions in parentheses. Then read my suggested revisions below them.

Client’s duties

  • Responsible for terminating 40% employees. (That’s unfortunate, but so what.)
  • Led meetings on a weekly basis. (This is a given.)
  • Spearheaded the company’s first pay-for-service program. (Ditto.)
  • Developed a training program that proved to be successful. (How?)

Accomplishments

  • Surpassed productivity expectations 25% while reducing sales force by 40% due to budget restraints.
  • Increased sales 30% in Q4 2018 by spearheading the company’s first pay-for-service program. This garnered the Sales Department Award of Excellence.
  • Developed the company’s first training program which was adopted by other locations nationwide.

Notice how one of the duties from this sample were excluded from his résumé. It was irrelevant. He was reluctant to let go of other duties, but I told him less duties and more accomplishments is the way to go.

6. Death my bullets

Have you been told by recruiters that they want your résumé to consist of only bulleted statements? And have you read a two-page job ad that consists of only bullets? Do you get my point? Reading a résumé like this is mind numbing. It is hard to differentiate the duties from the accomplishments.

A well-formatted résumé will have a three-to-four line Summary in paragraph format which shows value and promise of what you will deliver to the employer. Each position you’ve performed should have a Job Summary which is exactly that; it summarizes your overall responsibility for that job.

7. Killer paragraphs

The opposite of death by bullets is death by paragraphs. Some job seekers don’t understand that paragraphs—especially ones 10-lines long—are excruciating to read. So excruciating that hiring authorities will take one look at a paragraph laden résumé and file it in the circular filing cabinet.

My general rule is that a Summary in paragraph format should not exceed three-four lines. Similarly, a Job Scope or summary of a position should be brief. (If you’ve noticed, this article’s paragraphs don’t exceed four lines.)

8. Any positions beyond 15 years

Experts will agree that listing history beyond 10-15 years is a deal breaker. There are two primary reasons for this. First, what you did prior to 15 years is probably irrelevant to what employers are looking for today. Software, hardware, procedures, licenses probably are considered ancient. Think DOS.

Another reason is ageism. Unfortunately there are stupid companies that discriminate against age. Hiring authorities can roughly estimate your age based on the years you have been in the workforce. Why rule yourself out of consideration immediately. Once you get to an interview, you can sell yourself based on the value older workers bring to employers.

9. Years you attended university

This is another way to date yourself and face possible discrimination. Hiring authorities don’t expect to see it on your résumé. The only exception would be if you graduated from university within the past four years.

10. References

I’ve seen a handful of résumés that included references. The reason why job seekers list their references is to include them in one document. By listing your references on your résumé, you 1) give employers authority to call them before an interview even begins, which might hurt you if your references say something negative; and 2) it lengthens your résumé.

In addition, References Available Upon Request is unnecessary.


By the end of our one-hour session, I was able to point out various items my client could remove from his résumé. I was also able to point out where he could write his duties as accomplishments, with quantified results.

*My colleague and Executive Resume Writer, Ashley Watkins, says this about graphics: “As far as graphics, they’re actually fine for the ATS. The system will simply delete it. As long as the information you include on the graphic is listed elsewhere in the document, you should be okay.

Photo: Flickr, Helen Greene

8 ways you can benefit from a great mentor in your career

I had a mentor once who taught me all I knew about the job search up to a point where I was ready to fly free. My mentor, Ellen, was extremely knowledgeable about the job search. She set the foundation of my career.

mentoring

Ellen was also one of the best speakers I knew. I used to say she could talk like an angel, so fluid and effortless. Yet, she never over acted like some speakers do; she was a natural. Ellen was also meant for the role of a mentor.

I learned from Ellen that a mentor can be a valuable person in your career. Without a mentor, you go it alone; you don’t benefit from their sage wisdom and career support. So, what are the aspects of a great mentor?

1. Provide advice and support

The Oxfords Learner’s Dictionary describes a mentor as simply “an experienced person who advises and helps somebody with less experience over a period of time.”

It’s a given that your mentor will have knowledgeable of your occupation and how you should perform to positively impact the organization. You can trust that what they advise will only help you succeed in your job.

Whether you ask for advice or support, your mentor will give it when needed. They might see you failing in an important aspect of a project or assignment and let you know how to approach it in a better way.

2. Allow you to fail

A mentor will also let you experiment and allow you to make mistakes from which you will learn. Failing is part of the learning process. If you’re afraid of failing, you’re not going to advance in your career. You should seek out a mentor who understands the learning process.

Your mentor should give you that leeway and not step in before you make that small error. Sure, your mentor can see it coming a mile away, but they will allow you to make that mistake and call it a learning moment. A great mentor will then explain how not to repeat that mistake.

3. Go to bat for you

I remember a time when I had totally forgotten about a workshop I had to deliver. It slipped my mind. I went to lunch and didn’t check the multiple text messages sent by Ellen, which told me I had a workshop. What did Ellen do? She did my workshop even thought she had a ton of other work to do.

Naturally I was called to the carpet for spacing my workshop, but Ellen was there to tell our boss that all ended well and that I wouldn’t repeat that mistake. Because if I did, Ellen would kill me. Needless to say, I didn’t repeat the mistake again.

4. Give you credit

A mentor will never take credit for what you’ve accomplished; rather they will share your successes with the organization. At staff or department-head meetings, your mentor will purposely and clearly announce your accomplishment.

The opposite of this would be taking credit for what you’ve accomplished. Someone who does this is not a mentor. Similarly, a mentor will not describe your successes using the pronoun “we.” They will say, “Joe wrote the all the content for our Product X page.” You will do the same for your mentor.

5. Point out their own weaknesses

A mentor will not be afraid to point out their weaknesses. By telling you what they did wrong can also be a learning lesson for you. If your mentor blames others for their mistake, they are not mentoring you; it is telling you that blaming others for your mistakes is acceptable.

Ellen would not blame others from her mistakes; rather, she would talk about them openly and end by telling me not to commit her mistake. I appreciated this because it gave me the freedom to talk about my errors.

6. Will ask for your advice

Your mentor should recognize your strengths and emulate them to better perform their job. When I created the first LinkedIn program at the career center, Ellen would ask me to share my knowledge. I was glad to provide it because I saw it as an honor to be asked.

You should not keep your “secrets” from your mentor in fear of losing job security. Your mentor doesn’t hold back advice and information. Neither should you. Your mentor is secure in their position and, as such, freely offers advice when you ask for it.

7. Their door is always open

I mean this literally. You might need a place to vent or talk about personal issues. A good mentor will give you that space. Just make sure you don’t take advantage of your mentor and constantly use them as a shoulder to cry on.

Your mentor is not your therapist, so don’t treat them as such. One of the things I miss about Ellen is the ability of talking shop with her. We would bounce ideas off each other. And, yes, we would vent every once in awhile. We tried to keep these venting moments to a limit.

8. Keep things real

Of course there will be moments when you’ll need to talk about difficulties happening in your workday. This is an important time where your mentor can provide advice as well as tell you to “suck it up.”

When my attitude became unnecessarily negative, Ellen would tell me to snap out of it. Your mentor will do you the favor of keeping it real. They will not let you complain when there’s nothing to complain about.


Your mentor can be a part of your professional and personal growth. Don’t underestimate the importance of a great mentor. Does your mentor have to be your boss? No, they don’t. Can your mentor be someone younger than you? Of course they can. You can learn from anyone who has the right qualities.

There came a time when I had learned all I could from Ellen. I started revamping the workshops which she had developed. She approved of my changes, realizing I was learning at a faster rate. I will forever be grateful to Ellen.

3 challenges to improve your LinkedIn engagement

At work we’re involved in a citywide step challenge. Our organization, MassHire Lowell Career Center, is currently in first place with 10 days to go. One of my team members is in second place, 3,060 steps behind the city leader. I’ve taken it upon myself to coach her to the top. I’m pushing her to walk farther everyday.

challenge3

Now consider me your coach. I’m going to push you to engage on LinkedIn. I’m going to provide guidelines for you. When you read the entirety of this article, you’ll probably be relieved. It will make sense to you. It won’t seem so daunting. My goal is to get you up to speed in a month. That’s right, one month. Here’s what you will do.

You’ll increase your presence on LinkedIn

Of all the criteria, this is an important one. It’s important because you’ll increase your visibility and climb higher on the LinkedIn ladder (algorithm). Just so you know, it’s important to have a kick-ass LinkedIn profile and a focused network; but to really make an impact, you have to be seen.

One source says the average time people spend on LinkedIn is an abysmal 17 minutes a month. My challenge to you is to almost double that…per day. That’s right, I strongly suggest you spend seven days a week, 30 minutes per day, on LinkedIn. This might seem unrealistic, but if you break down your day to morning and night, morning, mid-day, night, or little segments all day, you can do it.

Here is something that will help you; the LinkedIn mobile app. Approximately 60% of LinkedIn members use the app. While the features are limited, you will still be able to perform most of the functions I explain below. Use the app while you’re waiting for the train or your child to get out of school or just hanging out in the park.

You’ll go from reacting to engaging

I’m glad you’re reading to this point, after having read the proceeding section. This means you’re serious about LinkedIn engagement. Let’s look at some ways to be present on LinkedIn.* I’ll start with the least amount of effort followed by the most.

Reacting—least amount of effort

If you’re a beginner, reacting to what people share is a good place to start. This will help you with LinkedIn’s algorithm but not as much as what follows. I have a feeling that after only reacting to what people share, you’ll get bored.

1. Reacting with the five icons. You might want to begin with reacting to what people post or share. Reacting means you can Like their content or more. LinkedIn as recently added other types of reactions. They are Celebrate, Love, Insightful, and Curious. I react with Insightful in most cases. I have used Celebrate when a LinkedIn user has received good news. You’ll never catch me Loving what people share.

2. Reading articles and sharing them. This is another way to react which takes little effort if that’s all you do. My advice is to actually read the articles and then share them; not just share your favorite connections’ articles unread. Clearly by reading the articles, you’ll form an opinion of their content.

3. Give someone Kudos. This is as simple as going to someone’s profile, choosing More, and clicking Give Kudos. Then you can choose why the person deserves Kudos. I rarely use this, but you might want to for people who’ve been helpful in your job search.

4. Endorse your connections’ skills. While you’re on someone’s profile, why not endorse them for their skills. The debate here is that you might not have witnessed the person perform said skills. Read their profile carefully to see if they back up their skills. Maybe you’ve seen them share posts and articles on LinkedIn and have determined that they know what they’re talking about.

Engaging—more effort

Now you’ve reached the point where your presence shows more value to your network. You’ve gone beyond simply reacting to a post or article, given Kudos, and endorsing your connections. This is what I call the breakthrough moment where you’re noticed more by your connections, as well as by LinkedIn’s algorithm. Let’s break this down.

1. Comment on other’s posts. Read someone’s post and instead of just clicking Like, Celebrate, or the like; write a thoughtful comment reflecting on what the author wrote. Try to be as positive as you can; however, it’s okay to disagree with someone. For example, I wrote a post about being sold to on LinkedIn. One of my connections opposed my opinion, which I respected. He wrote:

Bob, in my line of business, I am responsible for buying products and services. Therefore, I appreciate when people approach me on LinkedIn with a sales inquiry. I can say, “no” in a respectful manner and in most cases, the person respects my wishes. I enjoyed your post, nonetheless.

2. Write a comment for someone’s article. After reading someone’s article—either published with LinkedIn’s Publisher or linked to their blog—you have the option to share it with your connections or directly comment on it. Do both. Of course you can react to it, as well. After reading an article titled Five Steps to A Winning CV Structure, I wrote:

Andrew, I agree with so much of your article. I really try to drive home with my clients the importance of keeping the CV structuring their roles for ease of reading. I’m glad you mentioned this because it is important, especially if someone is reading a ton of resumes. Another point you make which resonates with me is keeping it brief. I can’t stand reading paragraphs that at 10-lines long. Three lines, four at most, are my idea of a good paragraph length.

Note: Be sure to tag the author with @Andrew Fennell; he’ll be notified that you commented on his article.

3. Write your own post sharing your expertise. This, for some, is difficult because they feel unsure of their writing or believe they’re not worthy of sharing their thoughts. This second point, I find, applies to job seekers who see their unemployment as a scourge. One of my clients, a director of communications, once told me that because he’s out of work, he doesn’t have the right to share a post. Nonsense.

I don’t care if you’re unemployed; you’re still an expert in your field. You wrote whitepapers, proposals, press releases, web content, etc. up to three months ago. You still have the ability to write relevant content for your network.

4. Create a video. I’ll admit that this is not in my comfort zone. Some people excel at this, while others make it painful to watch. I feel that I fall in the later category. So I’ll leave this up to you. Some believe the LinkedIn algorithm ranks videos higher than other forms of content. If this is true, it’s probably because LinkedIn wants to encourage people to share more video.

On the flip side you might feel more comfortable producing video because you have confidence in your ability to speak versus writing. The easiest way to create video is by using your phone, where the segment will be stored. Then you can upload it directly to LinkedIn. Like Facebook, LinkedIn has a live version of video production; but you better be able to do it right the first time.

You’ll rinse and repeat

As I mentioned earlier in this article, dedication is required if you want to successfully create a presence on LinkedIn. Engaging with your network once a week will not accomplish this. As your coach, I expect you to share a post at least four times a week. If writing articles is your thing, shoot for one a month and gradually increase that number to twice a month. I personally attempt writing a new article once a week, but you don’t have to follow my lead.

Consistency is key. You won’t appear on your connections’ and  hiring authorities’ radar unless you are seen. Are recruiters paying attention? Sure they are. Your posts might not be directly shared with them, but they’ll be notified of likes, comments, and shared from their first degree connections.

I’ve given you a few ideas on how to react and graduate to engaging on LinkedIn. My colleague, Hannah Morgan, provides 24 ideas of the actions you can take on LinkedIn.* Take a look at her infographic (something else you can share or create for LinkedIn). This will give you some ideas that you might implement in your communications with your network.

24 Ideas Share On LinkedIn

This post originally appeared on Social-Hire.com

Photo: Flickr, Stein Liland

10 ways to make your job-search networking meetings go smoothly

The day a woman called me to ask for an “informational interview” I had a feeling it wouldn’t go well. The tone of her voice was monotone, unenthusiastic. She was smacking gum in my ear. Regardless, I said yes and then there was silence. “Hello,” I said.

networking-meeting

“Oh, I was just looking through my calendar to see when I’m free,” she replied.

As I suspected, the conversation didn’t go well. The woman was probably told by a well-meaning career advisor to ask for an informational interview. But she wasn’t told the questions to ask or why she was asking for a networking meeting. She wasn’t clear on the purpose of our meeting.

The purpose of a networking meeting

First of all, no job has been advertised, so these meetings are not actual interviews. That’s why the term “networking meeting” is more fitting.

Second, you’re requesting a networking meeting to gather advice for a particular position and the company. So you’re the one asking the intelligent, thought-provoking questions. Therefore there is no pressure on the person offering information and advice, and no pressure on you.

Third, your goal is to present yourself as a potential solution to problems the company may have. There might be a position developing at the company, unbeknownst to you; and you might be recommended to the hiring manager for the position. At the very least, you could be sent away with three other people with whom to speak.

10 ways to make sure your networking meetings go smoothly.

1. Ask strong questions. Poor questions show a lack of preparation and are disrespectful. A question like, “What does your company do?” is weak because it lacks creativity and thought. Besides, you should already know what the company does before talking with the person granting you the meeting. I hate this question.

Another question I hate being asked is, “What do you do?” Can you be a little more specific? “How do you prepare for creating your workshops?” is a question I can talk to at length because it gives me direction. Begin the discussion with, “I know a little about what you do, but I have some questions to ask….”

Note: If there’s one question you should ask, it’s, “Are there any issues or problems that exist in your department or the company?” This gives you the opportunity to talk about how you’d solve the problem/s.

2. Your enthusiasm level is high. Chances are the person granting you the networking meeting is not looking forward to spending his valuable time answering questions from a person he’s never met or met once at a conference. So coming across as bored or hesitant, will not bode well.

Instead begin the conversation by introducing yourself and explaining why you are excited about talking with said person. Why you’re interested in the position up for discussion, as well as the types of companies you’re interested in learning about.

Don’t forget to smile while you’re talking in person or on the phone—it can be heard through the phone connection.

3. Arrive or call on time. This is a no brainer. If you are late for the meeting, you might as well kiss it goodbye. This is common sense; people hate it when others are late, me included.

Make arrangements for this special day so that there’s no way you’ll be late. In fact, arrive early if you’re meeting for coffee with the person granting you the meeting. If you’re calling, set your watch alarm or e-mail alert 10 minutes before making the call. Don’t call late or early; call at the exact time.

4. Have a clear agenda. Similar to point #1, your agenda must provide direction. Don’t come across as wimpy and disorganized.

State at the beginning of the meeting that your goal is to learn more about the position, the company, and competition—if the person can speak to that point.

While you want the meeting to be more like a conversation, it doesn’t hurt to provide structure. Write down all your questions in groupings of the job, company, and competition. This way you won’t forget to ask them.

5. Provide data to back up your accomplishments. You’re not being interviewed for a job, but the person granting you the meeting will want to know something about you, what you’re made of. To break the ice, she might ask what you currently do and what your interests are.

So you’re interested in event planning, but most of your experience as been through extensive volunteerism (you stayed home 10 years to raise a family). Most recently, you were tasked with planning the PTO’s bake sale which raised $3,000; whereas the year before the school raised only $150. Tell her you “love” event planning.

This is great information and should be shared with the person granting you the networking meeting, if asked.

6 Show your gratitude. Don’t make the person feel as though you’re the one who’s inconvenienced by having to ask questions and giving structure to the meeting. You come across as someone who is all about yourself, not about giving back.

As I’ve said before, the person granting you the networking meeting is taking time out of her busy schedule. Say, “Thank you for taking this time to answer my questions” at the outset and repeat your words of gratitude at the end of the conversation.

7. Don’t ask for a job. There’s no job available; at least to the person granting you the meeting, so don’t be presumptuous. Besides, the mere fact that you’re before this person or talking on the phone implies you’re looking for a job, especially at this company.

Now if it’s a known fact between you and the person with whom you’re speaking that a position exists at the company, by all means discuss the possibility of your fit, both job-related and personality wise. Perhaps you were given a soft lead from a connection of yours.

8. A call for action. Always ask if there’s anyone else you can speak with to gather more information and advice. If no position exist or is being developed at the moment, the least you should come away with are additional people with whom to talk. Often job seekers will neglect this part of the networking process.

Your goal is to gather as many quality people to join your networking campaign as possible. Politely ask at the end of the informational meeting, “Can you think of anyone I can speak with regarding a nursing position?” Don’t expect the person to come up with three people immediately; she may have to send you the contact information.

9. Reciprocate. Failure to give back demonstrates your lack of networking etiquette. You can’t expect to receive and not give. I come across many people who think their job search is the center of everyone’s lives and don’t think of offering help to those who help them.

Reciprocity can come in many forms. After discussing some issues that existed at the company, you came up with a better procedure for the company’s supply chain operation. Or the small company needs some graphic art for their website—this will fit nicely on your résumé.

10. Always send a thank-you note and follow-up. This is a golden rule at any point in your job search. Failing to send a thank-you note, via e-mail or a card is insulting and a sure way to lose that person as part of your network. A nicely written thank you shows your gratitude and professionalism.

Gently remind the person who granted you the network meeting of the additional people you should contact. Keep a lively conversation—perhaps one that involved an existing problem at the company—going, and offer a solution to that problem. By all means don’t drop this person as a potential networking connection.


Networking meetings can be a gem. I tell my workshop attendees that they’re not easy to come by, as people are extremely busy. Most people who grant networking meetings do so because they want to help you in your job search. Don’t waste their time. They can be an asset to your networking endeavor.

And please don’t act like the woman who called me for our “informational interview.”

Photo: Flickr, Pulpolux !!!

5 types of like-minded people to connect with on LinkedIn

And 3 examples of invites to send.

In a recent LinkedIn Official Blog post, the author suggests you should connect “with people you know and trust.” This seems like sound advice on the surface, but it shouldn’t be followed literally. My suggestion is to take it a step further and connect with like-minded people.

Older job seeker

By connecting with like-minded people, you get outside your comfort zone and create more possibilities for employment. Should you connect with the maximum limit of 30,000? I advise against this, as you never know with whom you’re connecting.

To its credit, the official blog suggest you first follow people to develop a relationship before you invite them to your network (make the ask). When following your desired connections, you should react to their posts and share them. Better yet, comment on their posts as well as share them.

But in order to communicate with LinkedIn members directly (without purchasing Inmails), you’ll have to connect with them.

Who to connect with

Confused? To follow someone on LinkedIn simply means you’ll see in your timeline what they post. Whereas to connect with someone means you’re in their network and can communicate with them directly. Now the question is with whom should you connect.

1. People you worked with

Your colleagues and former bosses are the first tier of your network. Treat them well, as they might be the result of you getting referred to a position—employers accept referrals from people they know and trust. By treating them well, I mean don’t ask them for a favor in your initial invite. (More about the initial invite later in the article.)

Consider the way employers prefer to hire. First, they want to fill a position with their employees, who they know; second, they take referrals from their employees, trusting their employees won’t steer them wrong; third, they ask for referrals from those outside the company; and fourth, they hire recruiters and staffing agencies.

Your job is to become an outside referral. It can be easier if you have a former colleague or boss on your side. It’s important to be able to connect the dots with your former colleagues and who they know in your desired companies. For example, someone you worked with knows the director of engineering at one of your target companies. You could ask for an introduction and a kind word from your former colleague.

2. People you meet

Have you attended networking events or industry conferences and wondered why you didn’t ask for their personal business card? I have. A better move would be asking them if you could connect with them on LinkedIn. Take out your phone, have them do the same, and send the invite immediately. Bingo, you have a connection with someone you’ve already met.

I have connected with people at business networking groups but only when I get a good feeling about them. It feels right. At this time, I would say, “It’s been great talking with you. Would you like to connect with me on LinkedIn.” If they happen to have the LinkedIn app, we can make the transaction on the spot.

You know what comes next. Of course, the follow-up. Make sure you continue the conversation by emailing or calling your new connection and suggesting a coffee date. It might be more convenient for your new connection and you to talk on the phone at a determined time. I prefer talking with new connections when I’m walking, so I’ll suggest a time when I know I’ll be strolling around my neighborhood.

3. People who are outside your personal network

For many people this is an uncomfortable connection to make. I’ve had clients say they don’t want to ask people they don’t know to join their network. My response to this is to tell them they won’t get to know valuable connections until they reach out to them. Think about the potential possibilities you could pass up by NOT connecting with the unknown?

It is important to build your network—to over 500 people—but the people in your network should be approximately 80% like-minded. What I mean be this is they should be in the same or similar occupation and industry, or the same occupation but in a different industry.

For example, an accountant in medical devices would connect with another accountant in medical devices. Not as good a fit—but a fit, nonetheless—would be an accountant in medical devices connecting with an accountant in manufacturing. To further develop their network, they would invite accountant managers and above to your network.

The benefits of creating a network of like-minded people are: first, the content you share or create will resonate with more people in your network. Second, when relationships are strongly molded, you and your connections will provide each other with leads that can result in adding more valuable people to your network or, better yet, possible job leads.

4. Recruiters

I’m often asked by my clients if they should connect with recruiters, to which I say, “Hell, yes.” Recruiters can be a great source of networking; after all, they have a pipeline of employers of which my clients are unaware.

If you are amenable to connecting with recruiters, make sure they serve your industry, particularly if you’re in a niche industry. For example, one of my clients is linguistic specialist in high tech. She translates technical jargon from engineers to other departments.

Another consideration is a recruiter’s reputation. Do some homework and reach out to common connections of recruiters to ask what they know of a few recruiters with whom you’re interested in connecting. You can also get a sense of a recruiter’s character by reading their LinkedIn profile. Although a word-of-mouth recommendation carries more weight.

5. Your Alumni

Connecting with your alumni isn’t only for students and recent grads, although many college career advisors suggest this as a first alternative. You might be interested in a company where one or two of your alumni went. Connecting with them could give you an in or, at the very least, they could provide you with more information about a position or the company.

People who went to a small college, where they’re more likely to know their alumni, will benefit from this the most. I attended a large university where I know a small fraction of the people who attended before, during, and after I did. Nonetheless, I would reach out to my alumni because we have a common bond.


How to connect with like-minded people

Obviously you first have to find like-minded people. A great LinkedIn tool to use is All Filters. I won’t go through the process of using All Filter. This post goes into detail on how to use this feature.

Now that you know with whom you should connect, let’s look at how you connect with them. The art of connecting with LinkedIn members is in the message you craft. There are essentially three types of invites.

1. Connecting directly: the cold invite

This is the least successful way of the three options to invite someone to your LinkedIn. However, it is better than indiscriminately sending an invite with a default message. One method people use that works on me is flatter such as mentioning a specific article I wrote.

Hello Bob,

I read your article on 10 reasons why you should continue to use LinkedIn after landing a job. I’ve just landed a job and will put into practice what you write. I’d like to connect with you and hopefully alert you to new positions in my new company.

Susan Pride

Note: you only have 300 characters with which to work, so your invite needs to be brief.

2. Using a reference in your invites

If you’re going to connect directly, you’re more likely to see success by mentioning a reference in your invite. This would be a common connection, someone who is connected with you and the LinkedIn member with whom you’d like to connect.

Once you have chosen a person who could be a reference for you, contact the person asking if you could use their name in an invite. Don’t assume your shared connection will allow you to use their name.

Once you have your reference’s permission, your message to a new connection might look like this:

Hi Dave,

You and I are both connected with Sharon Beane. She and I work for the MassHire Career Center as workshop facilitators. She strongly encouraged me to connect with you, indicating we can be of mutual assistance.

Sincerely,

Bob

3. Asking for an introduction

This is the most proper way to connect with new people, albeit slower. This method requires asking a trusted connection to send a message to the person with whom you’d like to connect.

Note: It’s best to ask for an introduction through email, because people are more likely to reply to email quicker than LinkedIn messages.

Here is a sample introduction sent via email:

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.

What to do next

You’ve probably heard this multiple times; you must follow up with the people in your network. A disadvantage of having a large network—unless you spend many hours a day on LinkedIn—is the inability to follow up with your connections the proper way. The proper way, you may wonder, is sending individual messages to each person.

The quick ask

Rarely does this work if you need a favor free of charge. Think how you would feel if you connect with someone and the next message you get from them asks for you to buy their product or, in my case, ask you to review their resume. You might feel like you need to take a shower.

The only scenario I can see this working is if you’re applying for a position which has been posted online such as LinkedIn or Indeed, and you reach out to the recruiter or hiring manager, to see if they’ve received your application. In your message you should state your interest in the position and provide three key reasons why you’re the right person for the job.

Recently this worked for a client of mine who reached out directly to the hiring manager, asking him to connect. Sure enough the hiring manager connected and my client asked if he would take a look at his résumé. My client was asked in for a round of interviews, but unfortunately didn’t get the job. Small battles lead to victory.

The slow build

A much better approach is to build relationships one message at a time. I consider it to be akin to courting a person of interest. The first message is to thank the person for accepting your invite and let them know you’re willing to help them in any way you can.

The second message might include a link to an article you thought they might enjoy. In this way you’re showing value to your connections. If you get your connections to respond to your third or forth message, now would be the time to make the “ask.” Perhaps you would like to learn more about the company at which the person works and meet them for an informational interview.

After the informational interview, be sure to continue building the relationship by again thanking the person for their time and sending a link to another article they would enjoy. You should also inquire about other people who you could add to your focused network.


This article originally appeared on Social-Hire.

Photo: Flickr, Susan_Moore_Cool

9 false stereotypes interviewers have of older workers

I have the privilege of working at an urban career center where the average age of our clients is 53. For older workers, the job search can come with challenges—one of which being stereotypes, due to their age, they face from employers.
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This is unfortunate, as it leads to many qualified older workers being passed over simply due to their age. Here are nine common stereotypes older workers face when searching for work:

1. Older workers are overqualified

Sometimes older workers might be overqualified. Some of my clients admit to me they’d be bored if they took a job for which they were overqualified. I tell them not to apply for such jobs.

On the other hand, there are some older workers who simply want to move into low-stress roles. One of my clients told me he no longer wanted to deal with the day-to-day tension he faced during his 20 years as an executive program manager. Now, he works happily as a business developer for a local plumbing business.

2. Older workers expect higher salaries

Many older workers have reached the pinnacles of their careers and, thus, they tend to earn high salaries. However, many older workers also face different financial situations at this stage in their lives. They no longer have mortgage payments, college tuition is paid off, and their children have flown the coop.

As a result, many older workers have little problem adapting to lower salaries. Perhaps they’ll have to downgrade from a Lexus to a Honda Accord, or forego their third vacation in the Alps. For many older workers, this isn’t a big deal.

3. Older workers won’t work as quickly as younger workers

Sure, older workers might not be able to finish an assignment as quickly as their younger colleagues. They probably won’t spend weeks putting in 12-hour days, nor will they gather around the ping pong table to boast with coworkers about staying later than the “old fogeys.”

But do you know what they will do? They’ll work meticulously to complete a project right the first time. Older workers will work smarter, not harder. They won’t make as many mistakes, because they won’t rush.

4. Older workers are trying to steal the interviewer’s job

A common complaint of my older clients is the lack of knowledge many hiring managers demonstrate. These older workers might have 20 or 30 more years of work experience than their younger hiring managers, so it makes sense that they would know more than the person interviewing them does.

However, my older clients also say they simply want to be hired for the job for which they’re applying. They’re not interested in taking the hiring manager’s position. Some of them simply want to step back and rid themselves of management responsibilities altogether, or they want to mentor younger workers.

5. Older workers aren’t dependable

You’re mistaken if you think older workers will miss work more often due to illness, child care, and any other reason. Older workers have strong work ethics and senses of professional dedication, both ingrained in them throughout the courses of their careers.

My father worked six days a week, and I try to emulate his work ethic. I arrive early, even though I don’t have to, and am willing to stay late if necessary. Enough said.

6. Older workers can’t solve problems

Many older workers have experienced loss. In some cases, they’ve lost loved ones or jobs. They’ve had to adapt to adverse situations in real time. They know how to put out fires.

The ability to adapt to adverse situations makes older workers natural problem solvers. They think calmly under pressure because they’ve seen these problems before. They have learned from their mistakes and are less likely to make mistakes at work.

7. Older workers are lazy

A common misconception younger interviewers hold is that older workers are just biding their time until retirement comes. The fact is that if the work is stimulating, older workers will work for years beyond retirement age.

One of my colleagues is beyond retirement age, yet she says she’ll work as long as she can because she enjoys the responsibilities and the people with whom she works. Trust the older candidate when they say they have no plans to retire soon.

8. Older workers aren’t team players

Older workers have more job experience than younger workers, which tends to mean they also have more developed emotional intelligence (EQ). They understand their own limitations and the limitations of their teammates. They know when to pitch in, when to take direction, and even when to act as a mentor.

9. Older workers don’t understand technology

Don’t take it from me, as a mature worker; ask my 78-year-old mom who delves into technology whenever she can. More to the point, many of my clients are software and hardware engineers. They learned their trade through school or on their own, and now they’re at the top of their game.

What is comes down to is having the desire to learn technology. Am I interested in Pinterest or Instagram? No. Can I learn C++ or Python? Not because I’m 56 years old, but because I don’t have the aptitude for it. (My father, who was an electrical engineer recognized this fact when I was a young adult.

Thanks, Colleen DelVecchio for the reminder.


Younger interviewers, when you’re interviewing an older worker, don’t judge them before getting to know them. Keep in mind the misconceptions I’ve explained above. Prove to be the better person.

Am I saying you should hire an older worker simply because of their age? Of course not. Just give them a chance, as you would for any other worker of any other age.

This post originally appeared in Recruiter.com

8 ways to take a break during your job search

If you’re searching for articles that tell you how to write a better résumé or LinkedIn profile, network more effectively, provide answers to the most difficult interview questions; you’ve come to the wrong place. In fact, this article is going to take an about face and strongly suggest you take a break once in awhile.

Relax

You read it right. Take. A. Break. Once. In. Awhile.

Today, I’m interested in what’s going on in your mind. Concerned might be a better word. I’ve been out of work, so I get how emotionally demanding the job search can be. I’ve heard the stress and anxiety in the voice of my clients, seen the unhappiness in their eyes.

Taking a much needed break on occasion can also prevent burnout. Here are 8  suggestions for taking that much needed break.

Don’t neglect your family or significant others

Here’s a great place to start. As consumed by your job search as you are, these important people matter. Their lives are affected by your unemployment; they’re worried about you, rely on you for security and love, might be dealing with their own issues, or might think it’s their fault.

Keep an open dialog with your young children. Plan family outings, even if you’re not up to them. You might find that a long drive, apple picking, going to the beach, picnicking, or other activities will take your mind off being unemployed.

Call on available friends or family members if your children are grown. Meet them for coffee. Keep the conversation light, as tempting as it might be to talk about your situation. No friends or family available. Join a support group. They exist.

Take care of some business

Do you remember that dentist appointment you put off for five years? When was the last time you had a physical? Does your car need an oil change you couldn’t get around to getting it done? You have some time to do this now. Take the whole day off to take care of business.

Here’s another consideration; don’t go without health insurance. It’s expensive, but it allows you to take care of some of the aforementioned. In Massachusetts you can shop around for less expensive health insurance through http://www.masshealthconnector.org. See if you have a similar service in your state.

Become comfortable being alone

Rule one of the job search: you will be alone. So embrace your alone time. Take some time off from the job search by taking a walk, gardening, fixing things that are broken in your home, going to your favorite coffee shop, or even going on a retreat.

One of my good friends, Jim Peacock, takes a day off without devices in order to reflect. He goes to a room where there are no distractions and writes. Yes, he writes with pen and paper. Am I suggesting to go to this extreme? No. I am suggesting that however you choose to be alone is fine.

When I was out of work, I would tell my wife I was going to take a walk, a very long walk. I had time to clear my head from the anxiety I was feeling. I valued this alone time and felt no guilt spending two hours walking around the city.

Allow yourself to enjoy the activities you do

If anyone in your life criticizes you for taking a break, don’t let it get to you. You don’t need to defend yourself. Some people who are gainfully employed don’t understand that job seekers need to take short breaks for their own well being.

When I ask my clients what they did the past week for their job search, some of them sheepishly say they took some time off to be with family, vacationed at the beach, or simply took a break at home. They probably expect me to criticize them for taking a well-deserved break.

“Excellent,” I tell them. “How do you feel now?” Usually my clients are ready to attack their search with vigor. Don’t look at your job search as an all-out sprint; rather treat it as a marathon, which requires pacing yourself.

Invite people over for dinner

Holding your own dinner parties is a great way to take a break. To be clear, the purpose of these parties is not to network. These are times when the job search takes a back seat. If people ask you how your search is going, politely tell them your focus is on them and making sure they enjoy the night.

A former client of mine invited me over for a holiday dinner. Neither she or I had an interest in talking about her unemployment. I’m sure she needed a break from the job search and wanted to enjoy the company of others. Shortly after the dinner she landed a job.

Take a trip with family or friends

One of my biggest regrets when I was unemployed was calling off a camping trip my wife and I had planned before I was laid off. I argued it would have accrued unpredictable costs. This was wrong for me to punish myfamily and wallow in my grief. I’ll never get that trip back, but I can advise people to TAKE TRIPS.

A close LinkedIn connection, Austin Belcak, advocates, in a recent LinkedIn post, for taking time off to attend to one’s mental health. Austin is successfully employed but says he needs to take a break every once in awhile, just as job seekers have to do.

Have a pity party

“What?” you say. “Sit around and complain about my unemployment?” Exactly. Not too frequently, though. I firmly believe that you shouldn’t keep your emotions bottled up, as the saying goes. Everyone needs an outlet, including you.

How does a pity party go? Invite other people to your home (perhaps they’re in your buddy group), dressed in pajamas or whatever is comfortable, and let your emotions loose over a glass of wine.

I heard about this at a conference for career coaches, and at first I thought the idea was crazy. Now I see the value in it. It’s therapy in a different way. I repeat, this is not a frequent activity. When it becomes frequent, it is self-destructive.

Seek professional health

Are you unable to get out of bed or spending too much time on the couch? This might be a sign that you should seek therapy. Job coaches, friends, close neighbors, and family can only offer so much health. Take the day off for a therapy session.

Many of my clients say they are talking with a therapist. How do I know? I ask them. You might think I’m overstepping the boundaries, but I’m beyond caring about offending them. I’ve persuaded many people to seek therapy, while offending one person I can think of.


If you’ve read this far, I assume you see the value in taking a break in your job search or suggesting you clients take a break in their job search. If you want to read articles on how to properly conduct the job search, visit my blog: www.thingscareerrelated.com.

Photo: Flickr, Osane Hernández