Category Archives: Career Search

4 Experts weigh in on the daunting, “What is Your Greatest Weakness?” question

Job candidates, does the, “What is your greatest weakness?” interview question give you pause? Are you strapped with fear, afraid you’ll answer this question incorrectly? Do you try to avoid answering it with a cute answer like, “Chocolate”? Is there a right answer?

The girl is stressing on interview

I’ve often told my clients that they shouldn’t worry about this question. That the answer is in their pocket; they should know what to say before getting to the interview. No big deal. I tell them interviewers want self-awareness, but to not reveal a weakness that will kill their chances.

Further, interviewers want to know how they’re correcting their weakness. This is important. To simply state a weakness and not say they’re doing something about it, is to shoot themselves in the foot.

I asked four career development pundits their take on this daunting question, and how they feel it should be answered. These are people who are recruiters or have been recruiters in the past, so they’re the real deal.

Jamie Fischer, CPRW

jamieThe “what’s your greatest weakness?” question, is an important one. I ask this question often, but not to hear cookie cutter answers, or to learn how someone turns a weakness into a strength, because those two response types tell me very little about a person.

I ask this question to see if this person has actively listened to me after I explained details about a specific position and our company, and mostly to see if they are self-aware.

Here’s an example. If I tell a candidate that our plant is largely multi-lingual and they were actively listening, they could use the fact that they may not be multi-lingual as a “weakness.”

An answer to my question could look like this:

“I heard you when you said the majority of the plant is multi-lingual. A weakness in that case is that I am not multi-lingual.

“However, to address your concerns in that regard, I have worked in multi-lingual environments and have been able to relate effectively to my coworkers even without this component.”

When we ask this question, we are hoping candidates will address a concern that we might have regarding job fit. When a candidate does this, the simple act of having listened and showcasing awareness of relevant skills or lack thereof, will help us feel better about that person’s fit.

Who wouldn’t want to work with an active listener who is self-aware? It’s a rarity – maybe one of every twenty-five people I talk to possesses these qualities.

The worst way a candidate can answer this question, in my opinion, is to tell me they do not possess any weaknesses. Unfortunately, this answer is very common. When asked this question, just remember– having a weakness is normal. Being a great listener who knows oneself and can communicate that effectively – that’s the true test.

Brett Lampe

brettI don’t like this question at all! Instead of asking what someone’s greatest weakness is, I like to focus on what areas of their professional life they’re working to improve currently. I want learn how someone is evolving as a professional and the steps they’re taking to grow.

For example, if I want to know what measures candidates are taking to improve their writing skills, I’ll ask them how they’re going about doing this?

For me the answer would be participating as a writer in articles such as this; creating original written content on LinkedIn or for other social media sites; and, of course, being extra attentive in my day to day e-mail communications with colleagues.

When I ask this question, what I’m hoping to hear is what the individual is specifically doing to improve. If you can’t tell me what you’re doing to improve, then in my mind you’re not doing anything at all!

In my experience the best candidates I’ve worked with are those that are naturally curious and continuously looking for learning opportunities to improve their skills.

So if you’re asked this question or something similar, be mindful of areas you’re making improvements (not necessarily weaknesses) and what you’re doing to make progress!

Sarah Johnston: (BriefCaseCoach.com)

sarahFirst: It’s important to know why a hiring manager asks this question in the first place. They are looking for red flags, opportunities where you might need some additional help or coaching, or to test your compatibility with the team.

Talent acquisition has evolved over the last decade. Recruiters are not only responsible for candidate attraction but also assessment.

In fact, I had a boss once who told me (as a recruiter) that if I couldn’t identify at least 3 candidate red flags during an interview, that I wasn’t doing my job.

Don’t give the overused response, “I am a perfectionist and can be too detail oriented and have a hard time doing work less than 100%.” If I was the hiring manager interviewing you for a job and you gave me that response, I would ask you for another weakness.

Also, don’t share anything as a weakness that relates to how you work with others or how you get along with management.

DO: I suggest giving a “real” weakness in a straightforward way. Your weakness should also be non-essential to the job.

For example, if you are interviewing for a position as a major gifts fundraiser, don’t tell the hiring manager that you get intimidated talking to new people. That’s a big part of the job!

Instead, focus on a tool or skill you haven’t used. Using the example of the major gift officer, if you noticed in the job description that they use Boomerang donor management software but you’ve only used Raiser’s Edge then your response to the question could be:

“I noticed you’re company is using Boomerang for donor management. In this role I may have a small learning curve, as I’ve only used Raiser’s Edge. When working for XX I got proficient with Raiser’s Edge and was frequently running reports and search queries. I am optimistic with a little training I should be doing the same with Boomerang.”

Ashley Watkins: (WriteStepResumes.com)

ashleyAmong tough interview questions, “What is your greatest weakness?” will never go down without a fight. This question leaves even the best interviewees grasping for straws to find the perfect response.

Tip number one, this is not a trick question. It was never designed to zone in on your shortcomings — but your interviewer’s strategy for uncovering how you acknowledge your areas for improvements and develop corrective actions.

Avoid responding with “I have no weaknesses.” The fear and shame of being judged for saying something wrong are very common, but you don’t have to walk away with your tail between your legs. Instead of claiming perfection, focus on something you’ve struggled with in the past but turned it around for added value.

For example, “Early in my career, I had trouble reaching a stopping point with a task. I would get so committed to completing an assignment that I worked for more hours than necessary to be productive.

“I recognized this behavior and began breaking tasks into digestible parts and allotting a certain amount of time to work on each piece. I still received the satisfaction in knowing I was checking items off my list. Even if I left the remaining components for the next day, my work output/quality was far better than before.”

Discussing weaknesses becomes easier with practice. Start by making a list of things you want to improve and then develop a solution to fix that problem. If your idea saves money, time, and resources, it will be the icing on the cake.


Given the reasons why interviewers ask this question and the kinds of answers they want to hear, our four experts agree on two major points: they want to hear self-awareness, or honesty, and they want to know how candidates are working on correcting their weakness.

If you are preparing for an interview, keep this in mind. Interviewers aren’t out to hurt your chances of getting the position. On the contrary, they want to see you succeed. As Ashley Watkins writes, “Tip number one, this is not a trick question. It was never designed to zone in on your shortcomings.” I know you can trust her on this.

Photo: Flickr, eva sharma

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7 areas of the modern job search for career practitioners

Career practitioners, you have the privilege to teach your clients how to conduct the job search. As such, the job search has evolved. Only by keeping up with the changes, will you be able to better help your charges land their dream job.

climbing a hill

In this article, I will reference other career practitioners who have kept up with the job search and offer great advice. I encourage you to check out what they have to say in regards to the seven most important areas of the job search. If this is old hat to you, please share this article with other career practitioners.

Let me preface that what follows can’t cover every aspects of the modern job search.

Wellness

I start with this area because it is often overlooked. Some career practitioners assume that the job search is mechanical and devoid of any emotional impact. Nothing can be further from the truth.

I’ve learned throughout the years that job seekers need to take a break from their job search, lest they burn out. The statement about the job search being a full-time job is true; however, spending 40 plus hours a week is counter-productive.

Dedicating 25-30 hours a week, with time to rest here and there is more reasonable. Job seekers need to be mindful of their mental and physical state. This is part of wellness and will hopefully avoid burnout in the job search.

Two of my close LinkedIn connections, Jim Peacock (https://peak-careers.com/) and Sabrina Woods (sabrina-woods.com), allowed me to interview them on mindfulness. During the interview, they made simple cases for doing the small things in life, such as taking walks, meditating, and reflecting, among other activities.

Watch this video of me interviewing Jim and Sabrina on the importance of wellness.

Research

Research is where your clients’ job search begins. Before they can write a powerful résumé or LinkedIn profile, they should conduct labor market research (LMR). Getting a grasp on what employers are paying for salaries and knowing the state of their occupation and industry, it all begins with LMR.

Their research must go beyond visiting a few websites to gain the aforementioned information; they must devise a plan of attack. Here are but a few of the questions they should ask themselves:

  • Which companies will I target and who at said companies do I know?
  • Which methods will I use to conduct my search; networking, contacting recruiters, searching online, etc?
  • How much time will I dedicate to my search?
  • Which resources will I use to write my job-search documents and prepare for interviews?

Sarah Johnston (https://www.briefcasecoach.com/), is a huge proponent of research. She writes:

There is a famous French quote that says, ‘a goal without a plan is just a wish.’ I’d like to go down in history for saying, ‘a job search without research and a strategy is like a trip with no destination.’ After getting crystal clear on your own personal strengths and career needs, one of the best places to start a job search is identifying a target list of companies that you’d be interested in working for or learning more information about.

Résumé

Résumé writing experts are keeping a close eye on the trends in this area of the job search. As a career practitioner, you should advise your clients that today’s résumé needs to accomplish the following:

  • Objective statements are out. Employers want to read a brief Summary that sells your clients, without fluff or cliches.
  • It must show accomplishment statements with quantified results. Recruiters no longer want to see a grocery list of duty statements; they want to know what separates your clients from the rest.
  • A tailored résumé to each job is the standard. This comes into play when employers read résumés and see that your clients have an understanding of the job.
  • A well formatted résumé that is easy to read. Paragraphs should not exceed three or four lines at most.
  • It brands a candidate by highlighting their best qualities and is consistent with their other marketing literature.

Executive résumé writers like Adrienne Tom (https://careerimpressions.ca/) and Laura-Smith Proulx (https://anexpertresume.com/) go to great lengths creating résumés for their clients that follow the rules above.

Applicant tracking systems

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) aren’t new; however, the role they play in the hiring process is huge. Bottom line: the ATS eliminates approximately 75% of résumés hiring authorities have to read by parsing them for keywords, e.g., skills, education, years of employment, and anything hiring authorities deem important.

If you aren’t aware of the ATS, acquaint yourself with it very quickly. It’s safe to assume that the companies your clients are sending their résumés to are using an ATS. While the ATS is a godsend to HR and recruiters, it’s a hindrance to job seekers.

It’s important that you get a handle on this technology. I defer to Jon Shields (https://www.jobscan.co/blog/) when I have questions regarding the ATS.

LinkedIn campaign

What’s most important for you to realize is that your clients’ LinkedIn profile is merely one piece of the puzzle. In order for their LinkedIn campaign to be successful, they must also develop a focused, yet large, network; and engage with their connections. One without the others is…well, failure.

I’ve found that some career practitioners haven’t taken the time to practice what they preach. If you want to teach your clients to use LinkedIn to it’s full potential, you must use it on a regular basis.

Read The ultimate LinkedIn guide. It will take you through all three components of a success LinkedIn campaign.

Networking

One of the hardest sells is getting your clients to actively network, particularly at formal events. It isn’t enough to say, “Just do it.” No, they need strategy and, maybe more importantly, encouragement.

Today’s job search works best when job seekers tap into the Hidden Job Market. Make it clear to your clients that companies hire through referrals first, not advertising their openings and hoping for the best.

So what is this strategy I’m referring to? First, your candidates need to take a more proactive approach by creating a target company list. Then they need to approach people who work at their desired companies, or people who know employees at their target companies.

Trust is won by having conversations in the form of many informational meetings and developing relationships. Your clients might get easily discouraged if they don’t gain immediate gratification. Don’t let them. If they’re preference is for introversion, suggest that they join smaller buddy groups.

Networking is the hardest way to land a job, but career practitioners like Austin Belcak make the process easier for their clients.

Interviewing

Gone are the days of one-and-done interviews. The Department of Labor states that the average day to hire for most employers is around 30 days. This is because they don’t want to make costly hiring decisions (in some cases it costs them one third of the employee’s annual salary).

Employers are using personality and analytical assessments, multiple phone and or video interviews, recorded video interviews; all before multiple in-person interviews.

At any phase of the interview process, your clients must be able to answer questions geared toward their job-related abilities as well as their emotional intelligence (EQ). Their best bet is to conduct extensive research on the position and company before each interview.

Similar to networking, if your clients expect quick results, chances are they’ll be disappointed. Prepare them for a lengthy process. But be encouraging. Every interview is a small victory.

One of the best sources for interview advice is www.job-hunt.org, a website operated by Susan Joyce. Have your clients check it out.


As the job search has evolved, it’s necessary for you to keep your clients apprised of the changes;

  • Be cognizant of their wellness; it’s crucial to their journey in the job search.
  • Make sure they’re doing their research, deep-dive research.
  • Have their job-search documents in place, and  push them to network.
  • It all culminates with the all-important interview.

 

Photo: Flickr, The expert consultant

Store your résumé and 6 other documents on your phone?

Consider this situation: you’re hundreds of miles away from your computer, where your résumé is stored. A hiring manager from a desired company sends you a text that reads, “Saw your LinkedIn profile and am impressed. Trying to fill an operations manager position. Like to see your resume today.”

Women using her Smartphone and texting

The only device you have is your phone. (We always have our phone with us, don’t we?) In a situation like this, wouldn’t it be advantageous if your résumé is stored on your phone? But, alas, it isn’t. Opportunity squandered.

This situation isn’t hard to imagine. I present it to my Résumé Advanced workshop and ask them, “Do you have your résumé on your phone? I’m lucky if four out of 20 raise their hand. The others register on their face that Ah ha moment.

A circumstance like the one above prompted me to write a long post called, Is your résumé stored on your phone? My LinkedIn connection, Tiffany Appleton share it with her network, increasing the number of reactions of my original post to more than 5,000. It’s still got legs.

Many people have written to say it’s something they never thought of, while others have said they have their résumé stored in various formats on their phone. A few said it’s bad practice to store a generic résumé on your phone; after all, a résumé should be tailored to each particular job, right?

How do you get your résumé on your phone?

If you don’t know how to store your résumé on your phone, the process is quite simple. I use Google Drive for the location of my résumé. You can use iPhone’s cloud or Dropbox for your location.

From Google Drive on your lap/desktop, click New > File Upload > select résumé in PDF and Word. Momentarily your résumé will appear on your android or iPhone. From your phone, you can share it via email or text to recruiters.

You should store your résumés in both PDF format and MS Word. Word if you want to tailor your résumé to the requirements of the job, as the respondents to my update correctly suggested.

What other documents should be stored on your phone?

Your résumé isn’t the only document you can store on your phone. Depending on what hiring authorities want, there are a plethora of documents which can help you in your job search.

Executive Networking Document

Executive-level job seekers should have this document on their phone, especially if they’re conducting networking meetings. This is a one-page document that is essentially half résumé, half networking information: title, company type, and target companies.

To learn what this document is, read The professional networking document: how it can help during your job search.

Your LinkedIn profile

Did you know you can convert your LinkedIn profile into a PDF format? You can, and from days of past it looks much better. It can only be converted to PDF, and it’s long. Mine is five pages. This is another document you might consider storing on your phone.

Ten success stories

The number is arbitrary, but if you have success stories for when you increased revenue, decreased cost, improved processes, eliminated waist, trained others, etc; these are powerful short testimonials you can share with recruiters. They would also serve as great reminders before interviews.

Use the STAR formula. S stands for situation, T your task in the situation, A the actions you took to solve the situation, and R the result.

A proposal or two describing how you’ve solved companies’ pain points

Although not tailored to a particular company to which you’re applying, it gives hiring authorities an idea of what you can do in solving a major problem. This would be similar to your STAR stories but longer and written with more detail.

Your elevator pitch

Written in Word so you can modify it, your elevator pitch would be a great document to store on your phone. In my Persona Commercial workshop, I have my attendees write their elevator pitch and read it to the group for valuable feedback. We remember information when we write it down.

A presentation

If you’ve created PowerPoint presentations, Google Drive will convert it into a Google Presentation to be stored on your phone. My valued colleague and executive résumé writer, Maureen McCann, offers this as a suggestion. I immediately added my Résumé Advanced workshop on my phone.

Don’t be caught unprepared

Getting ready to go on a vacation hundreds or thousands of miles away, don’t forget to store those important documents on you phone. Your job search is 24 x 7, so don’t be caught unprepared. It might make a difference between getting the job or not.

Photo: Flickr, Bob Mendelsohn

 

It’s your LinkedIn profile, not your company’s: 4 areas to show it

Recently I viewed a profile from a gentleman whose current job description was…well a job description. Or I should say all about the company for which he works and nothing about him.

Company Hallway

This left me wanting to know more about him in his current role. I reached out to him, telling him it’s nice to be a company man, but that his profile should be more about him.

His response was gracious, saying he just hasn’t gotten around to updating his latest position. Fair enough.

This also got me to thinking what if your current company requires you to reference it throughout your LinkedIn profile? How do you address this in certain sections of your profile?

Abide by your company’s rules, to a point. If the company insists that you mention them on your profile, heed their request. After all, you work for them and want to keep your job. Heeding their request doesn’t mean your profile should be an advertisement for the company, though.

Important to note: my valued LinkedIn connection and Personal SEO Researcher, Trainer, Writer, Susan Joyce, believes describing the company for which one works is beneficial. She writes:

“More words, done well, about the company usually means more keywords—like the industry name, names of products and/or services; even names of corporate officers and locations can be important keywords to include.”

There are four sections on our profile where you can promote the company, while still expressing your value to the company.

Background image

This is not as problematic as with other areas on you profile, particularly if the company has an impressive image (below) that fits this space on your profile (1,584 x 396 pixels recommended).

Raytheon background

A smart company will provide its employees with a background image that supports consistent branding.

Headline

The company for which you work might require that its name is in your headline. That’s fine. In fact, some recruiters and other visitors like to see in your Headline where you’re currently working.

Simply list your company name first or last.

 New Business Development Director at (Company Name) ~ Global Marketing | Training | ~ Generating $50+ million in sales

About section

Don’t use this valuable real estate for your company’s benefit only; rather you’ll dedicate approximately one-third of it in your About section. The remaining content will be about you.

Where you place your company’s information is up to you; however, I suggest listing it at the end of your About section. The reason for this is because the first three lines should be used to highlight your value, not your company’s.

Here is an example for our New Business Development Manager.

ABOUT ME

Forging partnerships with domestic and international partners, I enhance businesses’ internal management processes. In turn, they become more productive and realize growth and prosperity.

My start in business development began five years after graduating from university. With a drive to strive for more experience and knowledge I rose to various managerial roles (10+ years) before becoming Director of Business Development.

In 2018 I conceived and marketed, on a global level, a software solution that increased office production by 210%, garnering (Company) $56 million in revenue. This solution is in use in eight countries in Western and Eastern Europe, as well as  the U.S.

A product will not sell itself. I am highly adept at training and educating inside sales and distributor sales staff in all aspects of selling. I have trained more than 2,500 sales people in 12 countries.

ABOUT (COMPANY)

(Company) sells products to many B2B distributors, as well as numerous B2C outlets. It provides business management solutions to industries that include the USDA, EPA, DoD, Energy, Higher Ed, Health Science, Transportation, and more. (Company) has gained recognition for its solutions’ ease of use in helping businesses support and automate their processes.

Experience section

It was in my subject’s Experience section that he described the company for which he works and nothing about what he accomplished. It does no good to dedicate most of the content to the company’s successes. In terms of selling yourself, this is where you do it.

Instead of denying yourself the opportunity to describe your quantified accomplishments, briefly describe the attributes of the company in your Job Summary. Let’s look at our Dir. of Business Development’s Experience section which follows my suggestion.

ABOUT COMPANY

(Company) delivers to market business management software serving the USDA, EPA, DoD, Energy, Education, Life Sciences, Food & Beverage, Transportation, and more. In this role, I led all aspects of business development including:

NEW BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING

► Conceived three software solutions within a three-year time-frame, while also overseeing the global marketing efforts. The Top Tier solution:
»» Commands 30% of business management software market.
»» Has generated more than $56 million in worldwide business.

► Established (Company) as a contract vendor to (7) leading regional, national and international distributors in multiple business sectors.

SALES & TRAINING

► Increased EBITDA margin 12% while simultaneously improving margins, continually cutting costs, without sacrificing quality of brand or brand performance.

► Created sales programs, marketing initiatives and pricing matrices for all levels of customers.

HELPING BUSINESSES GROW

My success as a New Business Product Director is due in large part to the ability understand companies’ needs based on the business management market. I have an instinct to foresee what’s coming down the road and act on it.


One Exception

There is one exception to the rule. If you’re the top employee of the of a company—perhaps CEO—it’s assumed that anything under your charge has your name on it.

Also, describing in detail what you do as the CEO of the company might draw attention to the fact that you’re pursuing other opportunities.


I hope the subject of this article has taken the time to describe more of what he does in his position than the details of the company for which he works. After all, I’m more interested in his accomplishments than those of the company.

Photo: Raytheon

Photo: Flickr, stefgibson01

 

8 ways to use LinkedIn to shorten your job search

If you’re searching for a job, LinkedIn can shorten your search. You’ve probably been told this, but it’s well worth repeating. Hopefully this article will be the push you need to dust off the profile you started years ago but forgot about it like your mother-in-law’s birthday.

LinkedIn mobile

Will using LinkedIn alone guarantee that you land your next gig? No; LinkedIn is a great supplement to your in-person networking, but you need to engage in both for a strong networking campaign.

So, how can LinkedIn help you land a job? There are at least eight ways LinkedIn can be one of your best friends in the job search.

It’s where hiring authorities hang out

Almost every recruiter I talk with says LinkedIn is the place to find talent. To them it’s like their favorite diner. Estimates of the percentage of recruiters who use LinkedIn to find talent range from 87 to 95 percent. Either way you slice it, these figures are astonishing.

I’m never surprised these days when clients tell me they were introduced to a company from a recruiter who found their profile on LinkedIn. It also doesn’t surprise me when I’m told my clients were contacted by the VP or president of an organization.

To this point, it’s not only recruiters who look for talent on LinkedIn. Human resources departments, hiring managers, even C-level employees will utilize LinkedIn’s search capabilities.


Your profile is similar to your online résumé but offers more

You might have noticed that the sections of your profile are anchored. Further, you might have noticed that your profile is ordered similar to your résumé. This is because recruiters prefer it this way.

Even so, recruiters will only find your LinkedIn profile if it’s complete and keyword optimized—similar to your résumé up against an applicant tracking system. Like your resume, recruiters expect to see the value you’ll bring to their client.

But let’s be clear, your profile is not your résumé. I often run across profiles that are simply a cut and paste of their résumé. While the two are similar, there are some major differences.

One major difference is that your résumé is sent out in response to a job post, whereas your profile draws hiring authorities to you. Think of your résumé as push technology and your profile as pull technology.

Your résumé should be tailored to each job; your profile doesn’t change as often. Therefore, your profile is more inclusive.

Your profile is also written in first-person- or third-person-point of view. It should tell your story through:

  • a relevant background image,
  • quality photo,
  • branding Headline,
  • accomplishment statements with quantitative results throughout, and
  • personable About and Experience sections.

This last point is what makes the LinkedIn profile more enjoyable to read for me. I love a well-told story woven throughout the profile. The résumé comes across as factual and less personable.

Read 8 areas on your LinkedIn profile where you can make your voice heard.


Create a focused network of quality and quantity

Here’s the thing: you can reach out to a bazillion people—LinkedIn’s limit is 30,000—but what good is that if you never interact with a majority of them?

Nonetheless, your LinkedIn network should be focused more on quality, not quantity. What’s a good number of connections I’m asked.

I tell my clients who have started their job search after many years of having to look that 250 connections is respectable. However, they won’t be taken seriously until their network is closer to 500 plus.

The big question is with whom you should connect. The short answer to this is the people who will be of mutual assistance. Your former colleagues are a no-brainer.

Seek out like-minded people next. These are people who do work similar to you, are in the same industry. If you work with recruiters, connect with the ones who serve your industry. They have a pipeline of employers of whom you might not be aware.

I Strongly suggest connecting with people who work in companies for which you want to work. Do this before jobs are advertised at said companies. The idea is to build your foundation before jobs are advertised; penetrate the Hidden Job Market.

Read Ultimate LinkedIn guide, Part 2: How to optimize your LinkedIn network.


Research companies and the people who work there

As I’ve strongly suggested, you should have a list of companies for which you’d like to work. Your list can include 10-15 companies or more. Remember, these are only companies of interest. You can follow companies and research them on their LinkedIn company page.

Of more value is connecting with current and previous employees at these companies. To access these potential connections:

  1. Type in Search the company’s name. I chose IBM.
  2. In the sidebar, click People. I came up with 583,133 employees.
  3. Narrow your search with filters. Here’s my string: IBM, Greater Boston, University of Massachusetts.
  4. My count is now four people who follow that criteria.

With a manageable number of LinkedIn profiles, I can read them with ease. I’m interested in if they currently work there or worked there, their previous experience, their Volunteer Experience, and other information with which we have something in common.

Your next step is to send an invite to people of interest. Do not make the ask in your first invite; rather comment on their posts, send personal messages, and engage with them in other ways. When a job becomes available, contact them to see if they can be of assistance, tell you more about the position or possibly deliver your résumé to the hiring manager.


Engage with your network

Once you’ve developed your network, you need to engage with them. This means sending personal messages, commenting on their posts or articles, creating your own posts, providing information on your occupation or industry, etc.

You will further brand yourself by providing valuable content to your network. I challenge you to write articles using LinkedIn’s Publishing feature. Although you might not get hundreds of likes and comments immediately, it’s a start to demonstrating your though leadership.

It floored me one day when a client of mine told me that because he was out of work, he didn’t feel he had the right to even write a long post. Hogwash. Anyone who has expertise to share, employed or not, has the “right” to share their expertise.

The bottom line: if you don’t engage with your connections, you’re out of sight, out of mind. There are some connections who I miss when I don’t see their comments or shares with their thoughts. Also realize there’s a difference between engagement and activity.

Read 6 ways to engage on LinkedIn, not just active


LinkedIn is the number 3 job board…for now

Polls are as good as a the source that provides the ranking. A more recent poll puts LinkedIn as the number 3 job board out there, with Indeed.com topping the challengers. I also saw a poll which put LinkedIn at the top and Indeed third. Go figure.

Nonetheless here are some notable benefits of using LinkedIn Jobs (its job board).

  1. With the basic feature, you can use Easy Apply, which is…easy to use. The idea behind this feature is that you send your profile directly to employers (another reason why your profile needs to be strong) along with your résumé.
  2. LinkedIn purported in April that there were 20 million jobs advertised on LinkedIn.
  3. The company also claims, “a hire is made every eight seconds on LinkedIn…” I buy that!
  4. LinkedIn Jobs also has some pretty cool features which allow you to choose the date it was posted, people who are in your network for each job, companies that are offering your desired position, experience level, and more.
  5. One feature I enjoy showing my clients is who posted the position. I encourage them to reach out to this person to forward their résumé to them, or to learn a bit more about the position.
  6. The Careers premium account shows you how many people have applied to the position, the skills you have or are lacking, the educational degrees applicants possess.

I’m not a huge fan of job boards—I rather see people use in-person networking coupled with LinkedIn. However, I never discourage my clients from using them. I know plenty of people who landed interviews by using them.


Introverts dig LinkedIn

As an introvert, I can attest to the comfort of communicating through writing. It allows me to compose my thoughts—multiple times if necessary—before releasing them to the world. Read 6 reasons why introverts prefer to write.

This said, I know plenty of great writers who are extraverts. My MBTI champion, Edythe Richards, always reminds me that both dichotomies are capable of demonstrating introverted and extraverted traits. She is an extravert and a great writer, by the way.

My belief is that introverts find it easier networking online than in person. Thus, they favor using LinkedIn over going to networking events. First of all, I get that. Second of all, this is not a way to conduct your Networking campaign.

Your connections aren’t bona fide until you reach out the them in a personal way. This deserves repeating. Even if you aren’t into large networking events, you can get together in smaller groups, affectionately called Buddy Groups.

I’ll contradict myself here: one of my best connections is someone I’ve yet to meet in person. We have spoken on the phone many times and Zoomed on occasion. So I feel like I know him well. Jim, you know I’m talking about you. And, yes, we’ll eventually meet in Maine.


You can take it on the go

Approximately 60% of LinkedIn members use their LinkedIn mobile app, which isn’t a surprise; we bring our phone with us wherever we go. I’m constantly on my phone, checking email, LinkedIn, Facebook, my blog, and WhatsApp. You get it.

Using your LinkedIn app can help you stay in touch with your connections for potential networking opportunities, recruiters and other hiring authorities, as well as being alerted to jobs that might be appropriate for you.

In addition, you can write posts and reply to posts, further contributing to your engagement.

I’m highly encouraged when I ask my workshop attendees if they have the LinkedIn app installed on their phone; most of them do.

The computer UI has increasingly been developing to resemble the mobile app. You’ll notice the look and feel is similar. There are some features the app has which the computer doesn’t, and vice versa. Anyway you look at it, you should be using both platforms to enhance your job search.


These are eight ways you can use LinkedIn to shorten your job search. Keep in mind that in order to benefit from LinkedIn, you have to put effort into it.

The number one area I see lacking in job seekers is engaging with their connections. Let me reiterate, you have the right and reason to engage with your connections. Remember this.

Photo: Flickr, Christine Hueber

9 essential components of your job-search marketing campaign: Part 2

If every successful business requires a marketing campaign to promote its products or services, it figures that your job search requires the same. In part one of this two-part series, we looked at the written communications of a job-search marketing campaign. Four career-development pundits weighed in on research, the résumé and LinkedIn profile, and the approach letter.

 

woman on phone

Part two features five pundits, who address the verbal side of your job-search marketing campaign. To kick off this article, we’re going to address a very important part of you campaign, personal branding.

Personal branding

Erin Kennedy specializes in personal branding for executive-level job seekers. She talks about the importance of creating a clear, strong brand for your verbal communications.

People sometimes get confused about what their personal brand is. What is it? How do I figure it out? But the fact is, we all have a personal brand already. It is entwined in everything we do i.e. what we are good at, what we are known for, what others come to us for, what we specialize in.

“Once job seekers look at it that way, it’s much easier to break it down and define what our “personal brand” is. One way to strengthen your brand is through your verbal communications. It is easy to confuse people about who you are if you are not crystal clear about your brand.

Job seekers need to realize that not properly communicating their brand in their job search can be a huge obstacle in finding the job they are qualified for…and are hoping for. Take the time to ensure you have a strong brand statement that shows your expertise and the value you can offer a prospective employer.

Every successful business requires a strong brand which is unique to its products or services. Taglines like, “Just Do It,” “Think Different,” and “I’m Lovin’ It” stand on their own because of the strength of Nike, Apple, and McDonald’s.


Networking

Nothing can be more effective to land an interview than networking. Many will agree that your résumé and LinkedIn profile are all important, but they would also agree that how you distribute them largely depends on networking.

Austin Belcak’s LinkedIn profile tagline is: I Help People Land Amazing Jobs Without Applying Online // Need Help With Your Job Search? Let’s Talk. Austin is definitely a proponent of networking.

“When it comes to expanding your network, there are two rules I like to follow: first quality always beats quantity. People get scared of networking because they think they need to blast out a million connection requests or go to these meetups. That stuff doesn’t work.

“Real relationships are usually built in a small setting and they require a lot of work. Instead of spraying and praying, pick a handful of people you really want to connect with and focus in on them.

“Second, be relentless about adding value Don’t start the relationship with your palm out. Instead, research the person and work to find ways to add value. Send them a resource, offer some feedback, introduce them to someone, tell them how you took their advice and benefited from it.

“If you approach each relationship with a value-add mindset and consistently show up in a positive light, the reciprocation will be there. It takes time and it takes practice but it’s the best way to build strong relationships that pay dividends down the road.”

Whether you decide to go to large or small events or simply networking in your community, make sure you are equipped with personal business cards. Learn 7 reasons why personal business cards are important and what information to include on them.

Without networking, many companies would fail. Smaller companies often survive on word of mouth. Similarly, large companies need to create trust to close a deal. Your marketing campaign is similar. As Austin says, be selective in who you approach in your marketing campaign.


LinkedIn engagement

Although your LinkedIn engagement is accomplished through writing, I feel it’s important to note in this part of the article as a form of networking.

I tell my clients that their profile is important, but it’s also important to develop a focused, like-minded network and engage with those connections. Engaging with your network can be difficult if you don’t have the confidence and you don’t know how to communicate with them.

First of all, you have expertise in your field and, therefore, shouldn’t question your right to engage with your connections. Second, don’t start the relationship with “the ask.” I’ve been approached by LinkedIn users who want to connect, but instead of taking the time to communicate with me and build a relationship; they ask if I’ll review their profile. This is in the initial invite.

My clients often ask me how they can engage with their connections. The first and most obvious way to engage is through personal messages. You won’t reach as many people this way, but you can develop and nurture relationships.

Other ways to engage with your connections include: sharing and commenting on articles that will add value to them (just be sure to tag the writer of said articles); writing long posts in which you express your thoughts and expertise; contribute to other’s long posts; share photos and thoughtful captions; and ask questions. These are a few ways to engage with your connections.

Many successful businesses are using B2B networking, as they can reach more potential partners. The idea of using LinkedIn is similar; you, as a business are reaching out to potential employers and quality networkers.


The interview

Maureen McCann is a job search strategist and executive résumé writer. Who believes that first impressions are the first part of the puzzle. She relates her story to demonstrate the importance of first impressions.

One of my first jobs was as executive assistant to a general manager of a pharmaceutical company. Anytime he interviewed new members of our growing sales team, he’d immediately close the door after the candidate left and ask me what I thought of the candidate.

You see, all of the candidates would be selling products to medical professionals (think: plastic surgeons, dermatologists). To get the attention of the doctors, the salesperson would have to first connect with the person at the front desk (the gatekeeper) before scheduling an appointment with a busy doctor.

The GM of my company knew this and so he paid close attention to my first impressions of candidates. Those that did not strike up a conversation and simply waited to talk to the GM missed an opportunity to sell me on their candidacy and have me advocate for them following their interview with the GM.

It’s time for the interview. Are you ready? Sarah Johnston feels not only strongly about the importance of doing your labor market research (as she explains in part one of this article), she also feels strongly about assessing the big opportunity.

“When you are interviewing, make sure that you evaluate the company, your future boss, and the actual opportunity carefully to make sure that it’s a good fit for you. In researching a company, some of my favorite tools include:

  • “LinkedIn to review the credentials of the people that you are interviewing with. By looking at their profile, you can often gather where they’ve worked, how long they’ve been in a role, groups that they are apart of and where they went to school or received training.

  • “If you are interviewing with a publicly traded company, it’s a good idea to review their annual report to learn more about their profitability, biggest challenges, and their corporate responsibility. To access free reports, visit: http://www.prars.com/about.php.”

Along with assessing the company and people who will be interviewing you, it’s important to be prepared to answer tough interview questions. There are interview questions you know you will be asked. And you should have answers in mind.

Madeline Mann is the founder of the YouTube channel, Self Made Millennial, which delivers outstanding job-search tips. When asked what her number one tip for interviews is, she says, “Know your stories.”

“My top interview tip–the one that clients have most tightly correlated to getting a job offer–is what I call a “Story Toolbox.” It allows you to answer any behavioral question, and many of the other questions typically asked in an interview.

“What most people do when asked questions like, ‘What’s your greatest strength?’ or ‘What’s your leadership style?’ is they describe themselves. They say, ‘I am hard worker, team player, highly skilled…blah, blah, blah.’ But none of this gets down to: So what did you do?

“According to American psychologist Jerome Bruner: ‘stories are up to 22 times more memorable than facts alone.‘ Therefore, telling stories will help you to be memorable and are a great way to show your character through describing situations you’ve been in, rather than simply stating characteristics.

“So what I recommend is to make your own story tool box. You go into every interview with a set of planned stories and you frame it in a way that answers whatever question they are asking. Trust me, your stories will be effective for a wide variety of questions.”

Closing the sale is how I look at the interview. Here’s where your ability to speak of your value comes into play. For established companies it’s similar to attending conferences, trade shows, meetings, and other opportunities where they can deliver their value face-to-face.


Follow up

The final element of your job-search marketing campaign is one that people feel to complete. One of my valued LinkedIn connections said it best, “When you don’t follow up, you were never there.”

Some job seekers believe the interview is over once they’ve shaken the interviewer’s hand and left the room. “That went well,” they think. “Now, it’s time to wait for the decision.”

Perhaps it went well, but perhaps one or two other candidates also had stellar interviews. Perhaps those other candidates followed up on their interviews with thoughtful thank-you notes.

So when is the interview really over? Not until you’ve sent a follow-up note.

If you don’t believe sending a follow-up note is important, one source claimed:

  • 86 percent of employers will take your lack of a note to mean you don’t follow through on things;
  • 56 percent of employers will assume you aren’t that serious about the job; and
  • 22 percent of employers are less likely to hire you if you don’t send a follow-up note.

What Goes in Your Note?

  1. Show Your Gratitude
  2. Reiterate You’re the Right Person for the Job
  3. Cite Some Interesting Points Made During the Interview
  4. Do Some Damage Control
  5. Suggest a Solution to a Problem
  6. Assert You Want the Job

Lastly, follow up a week after the interview for no more than three consecutive weeks.

A company that fails to follow up will lose the sale or fail in attaining the bid. This reminds me of a plumber who doesn’t return my call. I’m on to the next person.


If you haven’t read part one of this series, I encourage you to.

9 essential components of your job-search marketing campaign: Part 1

Every successful business requires a marketing campaign to promote its products or services. Businesses utilize a variety of delivery methods—social media, websites, television, radio, and other methods—to deliver their message to their consumers. Their campaign must be convincing, impactful, and informational, or it will fail.

social media phone

Like any company, a successful job search requires a marketing campaign to deliver a strong message. Obvious methods to deliver your message are the résumé and interview. But your job-search marketing campaign must consist of more than these two elements.

Part 1 of this article focuses on your written communications, as well as what comes before. Part 2 addresses engaging with your LinkedIn network and your oral communications. I’ve asked nine career-development pundits to contribute to this article. Read both parts of this series to learn about your job-search marketing campaign.

Labor market research

Before you write your résumé, it might make sense to know which skills, qualifications, and experience employers seek, wouldn’t it? This general information can be ascertained by researching the labor market. This should be your first task in you job-search marketing campaign.

Ask yourself these questions: What kind of work do I want to perform? What is my ideal salary? Is my occupation growing or declining? Take it further and ask yourself which types of companies I want to work for? Do I have a list of 15 companies for which I’d like to work?

Sarah Johnston, is an Executive Coach and Résumé and LinkedIn Profile Writer who understands the importance of researching the labor market. She writes:

“There is a famous French quote that says, ‘a goal without a plan is just a wish.’ I’d like to go down in history for saying, ‘a job search without research and a strategy is like a trip with no destination.’ After getting crystal clear on your own personal strengths and career needs, one of the best places to start a job search is identifying a target list of companies that you’d be interested in working for or learning more information about.”

Any strong company will conduct consumer market research to determine if its products or services will be successful in a given geographic location. If they fail in this component of their market research, they will go under.


Résumé

One thing most job-search pundits and hiring authorities will tell you is that your résumé is a key component of your job-search marketing campaign. It is your ticket to interviews. However, few job seekers understand what employers are looking for in a résumé. Adrienne Tom, Executive Résumé Writer, knows what employers are looking for.

To make your résumé stand out, Adrienne recommends two important strategies: making your résumé relevant and including powerful accomplishment statements. In terms of relevance, she advises:

“Focus on creating good quality content. Align every point with the reader’s needs. For every point you write down in your résumé ask, ‘So what?’ and ‘Will this matter to this reader?'”

And when it comes to creating impactful accomplishment statements, she recommends listing the most important information at the beginning, which she calls “frontloading.”

“Lead bullet points with results. Make it easy for hiring personnel to spot important details, fast; don’t make them hunt for it. Walk the reader through your career story, start to finish, by sharing relevant, measurable details that matter.”

Ashley Watkins, Executive Résumé Writer, spent 15 years as a corporate recruiter, so she understands what employers are looking for in a résumé. She echos what Adrienne says about accomplishment statements:

“Hiring managers want to know what you can do to positively impact the company’s bottom line. Use every opportunity to include numbers, dollar amounts, and percentages to validate your results. It’s crucial that job seekers bring their achievements to life and convince employers that hiring them will solve their immediate problem.”

Ashley warns against writing generic, one-fits-all résumés.

“Although having a clearly defined career target is the most effective way to land a job, many job seekers use a very generic résumé strategy when applying for positions online and when networking with their referral contacts. When you do not have a keyword-rich, targeted résumé focus, you are leaving it up to the reader of your résumé to figure out what you do. Therefore, increasing your chances of winding up in the ‘no pile.'”

Both résumé writers stress the importance of crafting a résumé that will pass the applicant tracking system. You will only accomplish this if, like Ashley advises, your résumé is key-word rich.

Successful businesses deliver a strong message that encourages consumers to buy. Your goal is to encourage employers to invite you to interviews.


LinkedIn profile

Does your LinkedIn profile resemble your résumé? If it does, you’re hurting your chances of impressing people who read your profile.

Ana Lokotkova is a Personal Branding & Career Search Advisor, who specializing in writing résumés and LinkedIn profiles, as well as coaching interviewing. She sees the LinkedIn profile as a digital handshake.

“The days of using your LinkedIn profile as a copy-pasted version of your résumé are long gone. Today, you can drop the résumé lingo and humanize every section of your profile. Your headline is the first thing people see when they come across your profile. Forget your most recent job title, and turn your headline into a slogan-like value proposition.

“Include relevant keywords that will help others find you on LinkedIn more easily. Write your summary section in 1st person. Help others learn about your WHY and what sets you apart from other professionals in your industry.”

Another authority on LinkedIn is Virginia Franco, Executive Career Storyteller. According to her, the headline and new About section are critical to your LinkedIn profile’s success:

“Storytelling as a concept is prevalent across our media today from newspapers to magazines. This is important to recognize because, in reality, readers skim LinkedIn profiles in THE EXACT SAME WAY they digest the news.

“At first glance or when in a rush, readers skim the headline and the first section of the article tell them 1) what the story is going to be about and 2) help determine if the story is worth a deeper read when there is more time. Applying this methodology to LinkedIn, it is essential that a profile contains a headline and About section tells the reader what your story is about, and intrigues them to want to read more when they have time!”

Successful businesses recognize that their audiences vary. Whereas a document as factual as a résumé is appropriate for one audience, a document like the LinkedIn profile might be more appealing to another audience.


Approach letter

A little known tool for your written communications is a networking document referred to as the approach letter. In the days of digital communications, this is usually sent as an email or even a LinkedIn message.

The idea is to send this to companies for which you’d like to work but haven’t yet advertised a position. You want to penetrate the Hidden Job Market by being known by companies before they advertise a position.

In your approach letter you can ask for a networking meeting where you will ask questions about the company, a position you’re interested in, and the individual who has granted you the informational meeting.

Your questions must be illuminating, not a waste of time for the individual. Ask about potential problems the company might be facing. What are the major requirements for the position. How the individual came to working in their role and at the company. What they see the role or industry evolving in the future.

If your timing is right, the company might be trying to fill a position it hasn’t yet advertised. You could impress the person granting the meeting so much that they might suggest you to the hiring manager. At the very least ask if you can speak to two other sources.


In this article I’ve covered the written communications of your job-search marketing campaign. In part 2 we’ll look at the verbal side, which will include personal branding, networking, the interview, and following up.