Category Archives: Career Search

4 things to keep in mind when answering “What is your greatest weakness?”

A conversation I had in the past with my daughter aroused in me emotions of both concern and relief. Yes, two conflicting emotions, but the feeling that stays with me is the feeling of relief.

Job interview

Relief because she was truthful about her faux pas, her display of bad judgement. All was forgiven, although not forgotten.

“This is what the truth accomplishes,” I told her.

This is what you get when you ask your kids to be honest, regardless of the response. But is the truth always the best policy?

That depends.

What Is Your Greatest Weaknesses?

What interviewers get from candidates in response to this interview question aren’t always honest answers. Candidates are guarded, weighing every word they say; because they feel one wrong answer can blow the deal.

For this reason, I think this is the dumbest interview question ever. Nonetheless, I ask my workshop attendees this dumb question, because I know they will be asked it in an interview.

So when I spring the question on my workshop attendees, I often get a moment of silence. Their minds are working like crazy to come up with the correct answer. They think the best answer is one that demonstrates a strength disguised as a weakness.

So they come up with answers like, “I work too hard,” or worse yet, “I’m a perfectionist.” I tell them these answers rank high on the B.S. scale, at which they laugh. But it’s true. These answers are predictable. They’re throwaway answers, wasted breath.

Instead, I advise my workshop attendees to follow these simple steps.

1. Keep It Very Short: I can’t tell you how many people talk on and on when their answer should be no longer than 20-30 seconds.

2. State a Legitimate Weakness: Interviewers want transparency. They also want to see self-awareness – that you’re aware of your mistakes. People who think they’re flawless are unable to see their mistakes, learn from them, and correct them.

3. Be Smart, Though: I asked at the beginning if honesty is always the best policy. The real question is, how honest should you be? In other words, don’t mention a weakness that is vital to the position at hand.

For example, bringing up your fear of public speaking when you’re applying for a training position would be a major problem and probably eliminate you from consideration.

4. Talk About What You’re Doing to Address Your WeaknessThis is of great interest to the interviewer, and something people tend to leave out of their answers.

shadowReturning to the training position example: If you were to say that you tend to talk too much during your presentations, but that you have learned to ask more questions to generate engagement, that would be an answer that is honest and shows your efforts to correct your weakness.

People Make Mistakes

Smart interviewers understand that candidates make mistakes. No one is flawless. They don’t want to hear you dance around this question. It’s a waste of their time and just makes you look silly.

Furthermore, interviewers want to hear self-awareness. They want to be sure that you know what your weaknesses are and are doing something to correct them. Self-awareness speaks to your emotional intelligence (EQ), which is necessary if you want to succeed in the workplace.

Lynda Spiegel, a job coach who has interviewed hundreds of candidates, believes transparency is the best policy:

“There’s nothing to be gained by candidates trying to bluff their weaknesses. To act as though a strength is a weakness (“I can’t seem to turn off my work email when on vacation”) is disingenuous, and to claim that there are no weaknesses lacks credibility. The best way for candidates to approach questions about their weaknesses is to acknowledge one or two, explain what they’ve done to address them, and then move on to their strengths.”

The weakness question is one I consider to be … well, dumb. It lacks creativity and doesn’t address the requirements of the position. But it’s also a question everyone should be able to answer before they get to the interview.

To Review:

  1. Keep your answer short.
  2. Be honest, but not too honest.
  3. Explain what you’ve learned from your weakness and the measures you’re taking to correct it.
  4. Practice your answer before arriving at the interview.

Back to My Daughter

I appreciated my daughter’s transparency and, as a result, I now trust her more than I would have if she hadn’t told the truth. In addition, I understand she’ll make mistakes in the future.

This is not too different from the reaction an interviewer will have when a job candidate shows transparency. Interviewers trust candidates more when those candidates are honest (to a point).


Now read how to answer other tough questions:

“Why should we hire you?”
“Tell me about yourself.”

4 facts about introverts at parties

Recently I went to an acquaintance’s birthday party. When my wife and I agreed to go, I was psyched to have an evening out without kids. It would also be nice to catch up with people I hadn’t seen for a long time. This was two weeks before the night of the party.

party

But as the night approached, I became anxious, thinking about how uncomfortable it would be to be surrounded by 30 or so people, most of whom I didn’t know. This feeling persisted throughout the day and I seriously considered telling my wife I wasn’t going to attend.

But the day of the party, my wife told me she didn’t want to stay too long because she wasn’t feeling too well. Ah excellent; an exit plan. This is one fact about introverts at parties.

1. Entering a room full of strangers and having to introduce themselves to these people makes introverts uncomfortable. They would rather enter a room with people they know well.

It was no different for me when my wife and I found ourselves in a room full of strangers. So immediately I looked for people I knew. None were present for the first, long ten minutes. here did the host say the beer was we wondered out loud.

At this point If I had the option to leave, I would have. But my wife, who is an extravert, is not the leaving kind; so I scanned the room looking for a familiar face, any familiar face. Alas a good friend entered the room. We made eye contact and she headed our way.

two people talking2. Finding allies will make acclimating to the party more bearable for introverts. Once they’re comfortable, they see promise in the party.

Soon after our friend arrived and I was more relaxed, I noticed another person I recognized and someone with whom I had somethings in common. I excused myself and made my way over to this person.

I had found an ally to associate with; not a large group to join and exchange stories or one-up each other with witty remarks. We settled comfortably on a couch to talk about my trip to Wisconsin and his work.

3. Deeper conversations, is the introvert’s preference while their counterpart prefers broader, more varied discussions. It’s how we roll.

The conversation with my ally turned into something philosophical about the economical ramifications soccer has on the world. We talked on and on for what seemed like hours.

My wife freed herself to check on me (her introvert) to see if I was having a good time. The look of reflection and concentration on my face—and the fact that my ally and I weren’t talking at the moment—must have worried her, but I assured her things were great. (Introverts are comfortable with moments of silence.)

4. Leaving when it’s time is important to introverts. They don’t like to close the bar…unless they’re having a great time. Generally introverts prefer leaving earlier than others. It’s a matter of energy level.

So when my wife asked me if I was ready to leave, I feigned disappointment before telling her I was ready. At the moment I was engaged in a superficial conversation. Time had escaped me—it was now 11:30 pm—and I was happy that I didn’t get the 10:00 pm itch.

In the car my wife remarked that she and I hadn’t seen each other all night, which to me was fine. She could fill me in on all the gossip. We both agreed that the party was a success. She was able to catch up with her many friends, and I enjoyed the solitary, in-depth conversations I engaged in.


Not all parties go as smashingly as this one had. Perhaps the stars were aligned, but I was simply happy that I left the party more energized than when I had arrived. Plus, I had a few great conversations. And that’s all I really needed.

My 9 LinkedIn failures for 2017

Some of my colleagues and I are participating in The Biggest Loser contest. You know the concept; the person who loses the most weight wins. I’m gonna lose. I’m still eating cereal at night and large roast beef subs, instead of small ones.

new-year-resolutionAccording to an article in U.S. News Health, 80% of New Years resolutions will fail. So resolving to lose weight, spend less time in front of your television, giving up smoking, and other vices will most likely result in failure. Why? This is the reason the article states:

Whether you’re feeling anxious, depressed, frustrated, fatigued, weak and out of control, or simply bored, emotional friction (stress) becomes the high-octane fuel of failure.

As the posts on 2017 resolutions are starting to roll out, I have decided to be realistic and not write about my successful resolution; rather I am going to write about how I plan to fail in 2017, particularly when it comes to LinkedIn. This, I reason, will make me feel successful…by failing

So here are my 2017 LinkedIn failures.

1. Being on LinkedIn every day of the week, every week of the year. This includes holidays. At this writing  I’m already failing. I’ve failed at staying off LinkedIn every day for at least seven years. So far so good. Read my post on running the LinkedIn marathon.

2. Criticizing LinkedIn when it pulls a bonehead move. There are ass-kissers who love everything LinkedIn does.There are trolls who bash LI for every little blunder. I consider myself a realist. Nonetheless, I’ll be honest about LI’s mistakes and adequate customer relations.

3. Shamelessly sharing my posts on LinkedIn from Things Career Related, Recruiter.com, LinkedIn Publisher.  However I will try my best to share my connection’s posts more often. Read to Share is golden.

4. Letting go of one of my stringent principles of NOT accepting default invites from LinkedIn members who don’t send personal invites. I apologize, Mom, but you didn’t send a personalized invite.

5. Offering LinkedIn etiquette advice. The hypocrite I am, I’ll still tell people how to act on LinkedIn, including how often to share updates. Don’t do what I do, do what I say. Note: I’ve been called by some a “LinkedIn Etiquette Police.”

6. Staying within the limited commercial searches LinkedIn has imposed. Although I use this feature in my LinkedIn workshops at a nonprofit career center, I don’t make it to the last workshop of the month without seeing, “Bob, you’ve reached the commercial use limit on search.”

7. Participating in Groups as much as I should. I’m sorry, I can’t get excited about the changes LinkedIn made approximately a year ago to this feature. Furthermore, the people I ask if they’ve been using groups mostly respond with a negative.

8. Reaching out to more people after connecting with them on LinkedIn. If you’re supposed to reach out to every LinkedIn connection, I guess this will be an epic failure for me. I’ll try to schedule times to talk with people after I get out of work, but I don’t see this improving at a great rate. An introversion-type thing?

9. Persuading my LinkedIn clients to use the platform four days a week. They think this is overdoing it, but I tell them it will help them immensely in their job search. I also tell them being on LinkedIn once a week is even better, while also warning them against becoming obsessed like me. (Related to #1.) But LinkedIn isn’t for everyone.


If resolutions are 80% likely to fail, I’ve decided that I will not fail…at least when it comes to LinkedIn. Other resolutions I’ve made, which will fail, are to lose weight by joining the Biggest Loser competition at work, getting rid of clothes I no longer wear, and start new projects at home.

I’m interested in knowing if there are some LinkedIn resolutions you know you’ll fail. I’d like to add them to this list.

Photo, Flickr, Carrie

3 things to keep in mind when answering, “Tell me about yourself”

The directive from the interviewer, “Tell me about yourself,” strikes fear in the hearts of even the most confident job candidates. That’s because they haven’t given serious consideration to how they’ll answer this directive.

elevatorpitch

It’s also because they haven’t taken time to construct a persuasive elevator pitch, which is one of the most important tools in your job search toolbox. There are three components necessary to answer, “Tell me about yourself.”

1. Keep it relevant. You must be aware of what the employer wants from their employees, which requires from you not only researching the job but also the company.

Let’s say, as a trainer, you’re aware of the employer’s need for satisfying people of cultural differences. You’ll begin your elevator speech by addressing this need.

You’ll begin your elevator pitch with something on the lines of:

Along with my highly rated presentation skills, I’ve had particular success with designing presentations that meet the needs of diverse populations.

Then you’ll follow it with an accomplishment, as accomplishments are memorable.

For example, the company for which I last worked employed Khmer and Spanish-speaking people. I translated our presentations into both languages so that my colleagues could deliver their presentations with ease and effectiveness. This was work I did on my own time, but I realized how important it was to the company. I received accolades from the CEO of the company; and I enjoyed the process very much.

Finally, you’ll close your elevator pitch with some of the strong personality skills for which you’ve been acknowledge. In this case, your innovation, assertiveness, and commitment to the company would be appropriate to mention.

2. Be on your toes. Being prepared is essential to job seekers who need to say the right thing at the right time to a prospective employer. This is where your research on the company comes into play—the more you know about said company, the better you can recite your elevator pitch.

One way to answer, “Why should we hire you?” is by using your elevator pitch. Throughout the interview, you’ve paid careful attention to what the employer has been saying regarding the challenges the company is facing.

They need a manager who can develop excellent rapport with a younger staff, while also enforcing rules that have been broken. Based on your new-found knowledge, you realize you’ll have to answer this question with a variation on your rehearsed pitch. You’ll open instead with:

I am a manager who understands the need to maintain an easy-going, professional approach as well as to discipline my employees when necessary. As this is one of your concerns, I can assure you that I will deliver on my promise, as well as exceed other expectations you have for this position.

Then you’ll follow with an example of what you asserted.

If I may give you a specific example of my claim, on many occasions I had to apply the right amount of discipline in various ways. There was one employee who was always late for work and would often return from break or lunch late, as well.

I realized that she required a gentler touch than the others, so I called her to my office and explained the effect she had on the rest of the team when she wasn’t where she was supposed to be. I then explained to her the consequences her tardiness would have on her. (Slight smile.) I don’t think she had been spoken to in such a straightforward manner by her other managers. I treated her with respect.

From that day forward, she was never late. In fact, she earned a dependability award. There are other examples. Would you like to hear them?

3. The purpose of your elevator speech. When employers listen to your elevator pitch, they should recognize skills and accomplishments that set you apart from the rest of the candidates.

Tell your elevator pitch in a concise manner that illustrates these skills; don’t simply provide a list of skills you think are required for the position. Remember that accomplishments are memorable and show your value added, especially if they’re relevant to your audience, e.g., an employer.

Above All Else, Your Elevator Pitch Must Show Value! The value you bring to the employer. As in the example above in which the candidate understands the needs of the employer to be building rapport with young workers, while also enforcing rules; you must know the employers pain points.

Once you’ve got a full grasp on the employer’s pain points, you’ll know which content to include in your elevator pitch and how to deliver. it.

Whether you use your elevator pitch to answer the directive, “Tell me about yourself,” or the question, “Why should I hire you?” there are enough reasons to develop one that is relevant and shows you can think on your feet.


Now read how to answer other tough questions:

“Why should we hire you?”
“What is your greatest weakness?”

 

8 Ways to challenge yourself if you really want a job in 2017

In my workshops, I often ask the participants to deliver their elevator pitches unrehearsed. Or I’ll ask them to answer interview questions when they least expect it. Or I’ll ask them to talk about their accomplishments. In other words, I challenge them.

challenge

The job search is stressful as it is. I totally get this. But I also get that the more you challenge yourself in your job search, the easier it will become and the better you’ll do. Think of it as akin to pushing yourself to run that extra mile when you want to stop. You’ll be better for it in the end.

Here are some ways you can challenge yourself and improve your job search skills:

1. Allow Yourself to Be Put on the Spot

When someone like me asks you to deliver your elevator pitch, don’t bow out and say you’re not prepared. So what if you feel uneasy in front of the other job seekers? So what if you don’t do well at first? This is an opportunity to practice, challenge yourself.

When you’re asked to describe your biggest challenge, don’t plead the fifth. That won’t fly in an interview. You can’t say, “I’m not prepared for this question. Next.”

So what if you don’t get it right on your first try? Accept the challenge.

2. Tell People You’re Out of Work

To most people this seems like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised how embarrassed some people are about losing their jobs. They don’t realize it’s a natural part of life, especially in a bad job market.

I encourage job seekers to let as many people as possible know they’re looking for a job, even if it means they’ll be embarrassed. Take the challenge of contacting many people in person to let them know you’re in transition. In other words, network within your community.

3. Attend Organized Networking Events

You may have heard that no one likes networking events. Don’t listen to the naysayers. You’ll be passing up a great opportunity. Networking events offer the opportunity to engage in conversation with other job seekers who could provide sage advice or possible leads.

I know networking events can be uncomfortable, but I challenge myself to attend them simply to sharpen my skills. I suggest you do the same. Challenge yourself to attend at least two networking events a week.

4. Have Others Read Your Résumé

You may think you’ve written a great résumé and cover letter, but other people may not agree—like the time my wife told me she thought my résumé was “verbose.” I’m not sure if she used that word exactly, but I got the picture that someone would think it laborious to read.

Asking my wife to read my résumé took courage and prompted me to edit it. Challenge yourself to have someone else read your résumé, and then take what they say as constructive criticism.

Read my very popular post on avoiding getting too much input on your résumé.

skier5. Ask for a Mock Interview

This may be the closest you’ll get to an actual interview. Mock interviews are a valuable teaching tool, and any organization that offers them is providing a great service. But mock interviews don’t have to be conducted by a professional job coach or career advisor; a friend of yours can perform the function just as well.

When I challenge job seekers to participate in mock interviews, many pass on the opportunity. Others, though, see a mock interview as a valuable tool that will help them better understand how they answer questions, their body language, and their facial expressions. You should challenge yourself to participate in a mock interview.

6. Reach Out to Your LinkedIn Connections

Introverts may feel the severity of this challenge more than their extravert counterparts. However, your connections are not bona fide connections until you reach out to them in a personal way, as in a phone call or coffee meeting.

Some of my LinkedIn connections I’ve reached out to have proven to be great networking partners, while others turned out to have little in common with me. The point is that as challenging as this is, it’s well worth the effort. You could develop real relationships that you never would have developed otherwise.

7. Get Off the Internet

Not completely, but use it seldom and in different ways. Instead of defaulting to your comfort zone of job boards, use LinkedIn to find relevant connections through the “Companies” feature. Then connect with these people and follow my suggestion above.

Also visit your target companies’ websites to see how they’re doing in terms of growth. Contact the companies that are doing well with a job-search networking email to ask for informational meetings (or networking meetings). This takes courage, but it will yield better results than using job boards alone.

8. Participate in Informational Meetings

Informational meetings have been critical to many job seekers’ successes, but landing an informational meeting isn’t easy. Many of the people you’d want to meet with are very busy, with little time to spare. You may have to elicit help from one of your LinkedIn or personal connections in order to secure an informational meeting.

When you attend an informational meeting, remember that you’re the one asking the questions about a position and the company—so ask intelligent ones. You’re not there to beg for a job; you’re there to gather information and get advice.


Reader, taking on the challenges outlined above—having people read your resume, asking for mock interviews, etc.—are necessary if you want to land the desired interview. The interview is perhaps the biggest challenge of all when it comes to the job search, but if you prepare yourself by facing these smaller challenges first, I have no doubt you’ll land the job.

I would love to hear about your success story. Please leave a comment below!

This post originally appeared in recruiter.com.

Photo, Flickr, ANKESH KATOCH

Photo, Flickr, jirifx

LinkedIn is NOT a dating site

And 3 types of inappropriate daters*.

In my LinkedIn workshop I make an off-handed comment that LinkedIn is NOT a dating site. I get chuckles from the attendees, but I never seriously consider that some people try to use LinkedIn as a dating site.

online-dating

How wrong I’ve been. A conversation with a job seeker brought it home to me that people of both genders are using LinkedIn for a dating site. She was exasperated as she told me she doesn’t like networking because it involves reaching out to strangers.

This feeling is natural I told her, but then she went on to tell me about a LinkedIn member who asked her out on a date. Shocked, I asked her to repeat her claim. Not just once, she told me, but by numerous people. This is not natural!

My client was so distraught that I cursed this person…out loud. How, I wondered, could people who have the ability to help people who are unemployed—vulnerable, should I say—take advantage of them? The unemployed are looking for a job, not a date.

I’ve read claims from other people on LinkedIn who were hit on or received sexist remarks. One person went as far as to call out a person on a Facebook group, The Un*Professional LinkedIn Network, where shameless accusations were common.

The point here is that LinkedIn is intended for professional networking, which doesn’t include using it to ask for dates. Some people, however, haven’t gotten the message.

I classify the LinkedIn daters in three groups.

1. The oblivious. Not everyone who comes across as a LinkedIn dater knows better. They are oblivious. They don’t know they’re crossing the line. They are attracted to a LinkedIn member as a professional connection, but their overtures become too personal.

Their purpose for meeting with someone for coffee may be for professional reasons at first, but they eventually develop a personal interest that isn’t returned. Nonetheless, their overtures persist, making it uncomfortable for the recipient of their advances.

2. The stalker is the next level of LinkedIn dater. They’re showing up on a person’s profile view on a daily basis. They really don’t have anything in common with the person, yet they’re ever present.

I’ve heard from some LinkedIn users who think that anyone who looks at their profile is a stalker. This is not what I’m talking about. Imagine someone looking at your profile everyday, without contacting you to provide an explanation. Creepy.

3. The level 3 type. Their advances are outright obvious and persistent, and will prompt the recipient to block this person. My client told me the man she spoke of in no uncertain terms asked if she’d like to meet for drinks.

As a job seeker, she wanted nothing more than to connect with people—men or women—who could be of mutual assistance, not people who wanted to approach her, based on her profile photo. This is what I fjind disturbing, namely that job seekers’ most important objective is to find a goal, not be hit on.


I’m sure some LinkedIn members have carried their professional relationship to one that’s personal in nature. But that was their choice. When unwanted advances occur, this is not acceptable, particularly when someone is reaching out for help in their job search.

A reader commented that “it is such a shame that some people do use their job titles and take advantage of vulnerability of those in job transitions.” I agree that to use one’s power to hire, or introduce someone who has the power, is unethical. This is the greatest injustice of all.

I’m curious to hear of anyone who has met someone on LinkedIn, which developed into a romantic relationship. Please share your story if this happened to you.

*Perhaps “stalker” or even “predators” are better word for these types of people.

Photo: Flickr, Ashley Bishop

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.

First, let’s set one thing straight: it’s not an informational interview—although that’s how most people refer to it. It’s a networking (or informational) meeting. But regardless of its name, there are 10 ways to make your job-search networking meetings go smoothly.

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 questions; 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 interest 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 jobseekers 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 !!!