Category Archives: Interviewing

Nailing the interview process, part 3: research, research, research

You’ve heard it over and over again: You need to do your research before an interview.

Research

Why? Because:

  • When you do your research, you’re more prepared.
  • When you’re more prepared, you’ll be more confident.
  • When you’re more confident, you’ll do better.

The last thing you want to do is wing it in an interview. You’ll fail, especially if the interviewer is good at their job.

What, exactly, should you research before your interview? Here are four areas the interview will likely cover:

1. The Position

This should go without saying. Most of the questions an interviewer poses will address the position, so you’d better know your stuff.

The most obvious resource here is the job description. A well-written job description should provide valuable information like the skills and experience required for the position. Descriptions will often list these things in order of priority.

Go to the “Required Experience” section of the job description first. Note the list of skills and experience and the order of priority.

You can take your research on the position further by talking with someone who works in the company to which you’re applying. Ask if there are any additional requirements not listed in the job description. You may uncover key requirements that were not mentioned in the listing.

2. The Company

One of the top pet peeves of interviewers is when candidates do not know much about the company. Interviewers want to know you’ve taken the time to research the company, and they want to know you’re truly interested in working for the organization.

The very least you can do is visit the company website. Most company websites will feature an “About Us” page. Read this first. The site will also likely have a “Products” and/or “Services” page. Read these, too. If the company is global, it may list its locations and the functions each performs.

The problem with company websites, however, is that the content they feature is all marketing content, engineered to paint the organization in the most positive light possible.

You’ll never get the whole truth about a company through its website, unless the company is publicly traded. In this case, the website will have annual reports that will reveal more objective information on financials, shareholder information, etc.

It’s a good idea to reach out to people you know in the company for more information about it, particularly the culture.

3. The Industry and Competition

Top candidates will know about the industry in which the company operates. This is information you can gather from labor market research websites, such as Glassdoor.com, Salary.com, and O*Net OnLine. You can always turn to Google, too.

With sites like these, you can gather information on occupations, salaries, the skills employers are looking for, and available positions in your area. Glassdoor is a particular favorite among job seekers, as it features employees’ reviews of their own employers.

You can also check out SpyFu to learn about how an employer advertises and its intended audience. Social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are also useful as well.

As mentioned earlier, public companies are required to share press releases and annual reports. Read the documents of your potential employer’s competitors. If you can cite your desired company’s competition’s statistics, you will impress the interviewer very much.

Once again, it’s important to reach out to people who work in the company to which you’re applying. They will probably have a good sense of who the relevant competitors are based on the department you’re targeting.

4. The Interviewers

Finally, you’ll want to research the people who will be interviewing you.

If you have the names of said people ahead of time, the best tool is LinkedIn. Even if you don’t know the names of the people who will interview you, you can use the site’s “Companies” feature to find people in various departments.

For example, if you are applying for an accountant position, search the company using the keywords “accountant, manager.” You will see the company’s accountant managers.

Read through their profiles to see what you have in common with them. It could be that you attended the same school, you enjoy the same activities, you volunteered at similar organizations, or something else. During the interview, try to talk about what you learned about the interviewers when given the opportunity.

Not to sound like a broken record, but you really should reach out to someone you might know in the company to ask about the person or people who will be interviewing you. They may be able to give you great information about your interviewer’s likes and dislikes.


Researching the mentioned areas will put you an advantage over the other candidates. to show off your research, mention it explicitly. Begin sentences by saying, “While I was researching the competition, I learned …”.

Remember, when you’re prepared, you’ll do well in the interview.

Check back next week, when I’ll be talking about the importance of practicing for your interview.

This post originally appeared in Recruiter.com
Photo: Flickr, Rahul Panja
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Nailing the Interview Process, Know Thyself: Part 2

Interviewing for a job is tough, whether you’re actively or passively seeking. If it were so easy, people like me wouldn’t have to provide advice on how to interview. One of the challenges of the interview process is knowing yourself, really knowing yourself.

reflection

Before you even start the interview process, I’d like you to do a very simple exercise. Take it seriously, as it will give you a better sense of yourself and how you need to approach the interview process.

Some of you have done SWOT analysis at work, so you’re familiar with the concept. The acronym stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Below is a brief explanation of how a SWOT analysis is used in the work setting.

“SWOT analyses can serve as a precursor to any sort of company action, such as exploring new initiatives, making decisions about new policies, identifying possible areas for change, or refining and redirecting efforts midplan.” BusinessNewsDaily.com

SWOT

From the diagram above, you can see how to handle the four components of a SWOT analysis. Let’s go through all four components.

Strengths

When you analyze your strengths, think about the those that will help you for the position for which you’re applying. Try to address as many of them in the job posting you can. Further, think about how you can achieve at each one.

Here is a list of skills for a specific marketing specialist position:

1. Innovation. You have demonstrated innovative approaches to create marketing campaigns. You introduced one company for which you worked to paperless marketing, social media to another, and virtual tradeshows to your previous company.

2. Business to business marketing. You’ve done this successfully for many years. Included among many of your business partner are seven blue-chip companies.

3. Strategic Thinking. You’ve demonstrated the “ability to think strategically and analytically to ensure successful marketing campaign execution” and can come up with numerous times you’ve done this.

4. Cross-Functional Work. You’ve worked across multiple organizations, including engineering, sales, fiance, webdesign. You’ve demonstrated excellent interpersonal skills.

5. Understanding Customer Behavior. At your previous position, this was a large part of what you did. You worked with business development to determine the best way to target marketing efforts.

6. Strong written and verbal communication skills. You can prove this with the experience you’ve had communicating through written and verbal communications with the press, trade magazines, partners, and customers.

7. The Required Soft Skills. “Solid organizational and project management skills” and “attention to detail and demonstrated ability to multi-task.”

Try to think of at least 10 strengths that you can apply to this position and others.

Weaknesses

Be honest about listing your weaknesses. Determine how you can overcome these weaknesses, as it is important to demonstrate in an interview not only that you have weaknesses but also how you can overcome them.

1. Business to Customer. You have limited experience to this type of marketing, but you’ve shown the ability to interact well with consumers as a retail associate and, therefore understand their needs.

2. Working with Certain Departments. You have limited experience working closely with internal marketing analytics teams to define requirements for product test plans and campaign analysis.

Be honest with yourself and try to think of three or more weaknesses. 

Opportunities 

Opportunities can be anything that makes a job appealing, such as work-life balance, commute, increased income, opportunity for advancement, landing a job quickly.

Great Working Environment. From talking with people you know at the company, you know the company offers team unity, opportunity for advancement.

Work with Previous Colleague. Your previous boss and you got on very well when you were at Company X. You look forward to working with her again.

Your network is strong. This will provide you with many opportunities for a position like this one. You know people in management, as well as others who work there. Companies prefer to hire those they known, e.g., referrals.

The more examples of opportunities you can think of, the more positive you’ll feel about any jobs for which you apply.

Threats

Threats are factors that are difficult, if not possible, to overcome. These can be sticking points during an interview.

Education Requirement. You lack a Bachelor’s degree in what the company desires (Business, Economics, Marketing, Mathematics) and have no resources to acquire one. There is a loophole that says “or a related one.” Your degree in English has served you well in the past.

Experience. “Previous marketing internship experience” is a red flag. It appears that the company is looking for younger, less expensive candidates. Perhaps the company will consider a more experienced employee for the position, or they might develop a position more senior for you.

Some threats can be overcome with a little imagination. 


In the next post we look at the importance of research, research, research before the interview.

This post originally appeared in Recruiter.com.

Photo: Flickr, Torkel Pettersson

Nailing the interview process, Part 1: Be Mentally prepared

Succeeding at the interview begins before you sit in the hot seat. The first step is being mentally prepared. This means overcoming the negative feelings that came with losing your previous job.

Despondent

To lose a job for any reason can be a blow to your self-esteem. Even if you were let go simply because the company had to cut costs, you may feel like you’ve failed. Some of my clients feel responsible for being laid off, even though it wasn’t their fault.

It can be particularly devastating if you’re let go because of performance issues or because you didn’t see eye-to-eye with your manager. You may feel that you’re incapable of becoming again the productive employee you once were.

The same applies to having to quit under pressure. Your boss was constantly harping on you for small mistakes or accused you of missteps that you know were the correct actions. Because they’re the boss, though, they hold the power.

Many unemployed can’t let go of what went wrong. They lose sight of what they did well at work. Negative thoughts swim through their minds. What can a person do to get back on track?

1. Don’t deny your despondency

You may be experiencing feelings you’ve never had before: bouts of crying for no apparent reason, a short temper with family members and friends, a lack of motivation. These feelings are symptoms of unemployment. You’re not going crazy.

When I was out of work, I tried to recognize the feelings I was experiencing. It wasn’t always easy, but I realized my unemployment was temporary. You should also realize your situation is temporary.

2. Take a hiatus

You’ve heard the saying, “Get back on the horse.” This is always a good idea, but you don’t have to do it immediately. I’ve known job seekers who have taken a week off to regroup and get their bearings again. While some might believe that you should begin your job search the day after you lose your job, it would be better to clear your mind first.

This said, don’t take a full-on vacation, as many job seekers do. Even during the seemingly slow summer months, employers are hiring. Take a hiatus, but don’t waste long periods of time.

3. Evaluate the situation; be able to explain why you’re out of work

Given three reasons why you are unemployed – you were laid off, let go, or quit – determine which applies in your situation. To be able to explain to others why you lost your job, particularly in an interview, you must be able to explain it to yourself.

If you were at fault, own up to it. Then, determine how you will act differently next time so as not to repeat the same mistake. Most likely you’ll have to explain, albeit briefly, your situation in an interview. Show self-awareness. This is a big step that you’ll need to make.

4. Tell people you’re out of work

walkingThere’s no shame in being out of work. Whenever I say this, I’m sure many job seekers mutter under their breath, “What would you know?”

Plenty. When I was unemployed, it wasn’t easy for me to tell others I had been laid off, even though it wasn’t my fault.

In order for others to help you, they need to know you’re looking for work. The people you tell shouldn’t be limited to your former colleagues and supervisors. They should include family, friends, and acquaintances. Even your brother who lives thousands of miles away might hear or read of an opportunity local to you.

5. Be willing to ask for and accept help

I find this to be one of the most challenging roadblocks for many people; they just can’t bring themselves to ask for help.

There are two things to remember here: One, your job search will be shorter if you have help; two, most people like to help those in need.

Helping others gives people a feeling of achievement. As someone out of work, you will experience the same, so pay it forward.

This isn’t to say you should approach everyone in you community and ask, “Do you know of any jobs for me?” To tell people you’re out of work and explain the kind of job you’re seeking should be enough.

For safe measure, you may want to ping people to stay top of mind. An occasional request like “Please keep your ear to the pavement for me” should suffice.

6. Don’t sleep the day away

As difficult it may be, you need to develop a routine. You don’t have to rise at 5 a.m. so you can go to the gym before work, but getting up every morning at 6 a.m. to take a walk, eat breakfast, and get out of the house would be much more productive than sleeping until 10 every morning.

You’ll feel much better if you are productive than you would if you rose late and watched television all day. I honestly believe that developing a routine is essential to your mental health – and to finding a job.

7. Seek professional help if necessary

You’ll probably experience many feelings, such as anger, fear, and self-doubt. If you become consumed with these feelings, it might be best to seek the help of a therapist. This is not unusual – trust me. I went through a plethora of feelings and, yes, I did talk with a professional. It allowed me to clear my mind.

If it gets to the point where you can’t see the future – where all you can think about are the past and present – this may indicate you’re experiencing depression. It’s worth talking to a therapist when you reach this stage.


It’s hard for some people to understand how difficult unemployment can be. It hurts your self-esteem, destroys your familiar routine, and can even cause embarrassment. Following the above steps can help you mitigate this negative experience.

Look for part 2, Know Thyself, next week.

Photo: Flickr, Silja
Photo: Flickr, David

This post originally appeared in Recruiter.com

6 reasons why older job candidates shouldn’t discriminate against younger interviewers

Amy, a colleague of mine who looks no older than 30, came to me to tell me of a meeting she just had with a job seeker. In her excited, rapid voice, she told me that an older male treated her as though she were a child. She was outraged and rightfully so.

older-candidate

Amy is well revered by the staff at our career center and respected by the customers with whom she meets. She knows a great deal about the job search and training, so being disrespected by this man rubbed her the wrong way.

We sat and talked about her meeting with him and wondered aloud if this is how he presents himself in interviews to interviewers younger than him. And if he does, what his chance of success in this job market is. Slim to none, we concurred.

Eventually she calmed down.

Her advice to me was to bring up in my Mature Worker workshop this attitude toward younger interviewers . (She told me three times.) I totally agreed with her and immediately made a change to the presentation slide: “Treat younger interviewers the way you would like to be treated.”

We career advisors often come to the defense of older workers who experience age discrimination; but we don’t talk as much about reverse age discrimination, such as what Amy experienced.

We are reluctant to tell people who are unemployed how the interviewer might feel about this type of rude behavior. But this is wrong of us. (Read 10 ways you can kill your job search with a negative attitude.)

This is the message I would impart. Think about if you were younger and on the opposite side of the table interviewing people for a position, where personality fit is as important as technical abilities.

How would you react if an older job candidate looked at you with disdain and without saying it, called you inexperienced and beneath his level? Further, what would you think if you were going to be his immediate supervisor?

Hiring him would not be a marriage made in heaven. You, as the younger hiring manager, would have to prove yourself to the, albeit highly qualified, candidate on a regular basis.

He would question your every decision and tell you how he would do things. Any effort you would make to correct his actions or even reprimand him would be met with resistance. You would feel powerless. You finally reason that hiring him would be crazy.

The large majority of older workers have a great deal of value to offer employers. They’re knowledgeable in their work and possess life experience that younger workers do not. They want to work and are flexible with their schedule. They’re dependable, able to mentor others, and are great role models. These are but a few qualities of the older worker.

But there are a few older workers who think they’re all that or who have a chip on their shoulder. They are convinced that they’ll experience age discrimination at every interview. In other words, they have lost the job before the interview begins.

Susan Jepson, who directed the National Senior Network, wrote an article addressing reverse age discrimination practiced by older workers. She believes that sometimes it’s not intentional. She writes:

Without intending to, or without knowing it, mature workers can come across as arrogant, condescending; that behavior can invite rejection. Examine your beliefs and assumptions and work hard to be open and communicative with your interviewer, without prejudice of any kind.

Susan Jepson is a mature worker, so she speaks objectively.

If you happen to be one who intentionally discriminates against younger interviewers, remember that the person sitting across from you deserves as much respect as you do. Also keep in mind that your livelihood might depend on how much they value you as a potential employee. More specifically, remember:

1. She earned her job. Whether she has less experience on the job than you is irrelevant. Someone in the company determined that she was the most capable to manage a group of people. And yes, they could have been wrong.

2. Her job is to hire the best person. You are the best person, but if you show contempt or even hint to your superiority, she won’t see your talent through the less-than-desirable attitude you demonstrate.

3. She will appreciate your points of view. Once assured you’re not after her job, she may see you as a mentor and role model. Younger colleagues like the approval of older workers. Take it from someone who supervised someone 20 years my senior; her approval meant a lot to me.

4, She might have some growing to do. And if you want to succeed, you’ll realize that people of all ages have some growing to do, including you. You can help her through this process by building her self-esteem and confidence. It’s a wonderful thing to see someone grow under your tutelage.

5. She might fear that you’re after her job. So put her fears to rest by NOT talking about you would eventually want to assume a position like hers, or her position specifically. Rather, assure her that your career goal begins with doing the best possible work at the position in question. Ultimately you want to help the company succeed.

6. Whether you like it or not, she will be your boss. What are your options right now? Enough said.

You may arrive at interviews where age discrimination is blatant due to no fault of yours. This is the time when you are the bigger man/woman and leave with your pride intact, your head held high.


In the end, my colleague, Amy, told her customer that his behavior was unacceptable and it would do him more harm than good. He apologized, admitting his error. We are never too old to learn valuable lessons.

If you enjoy this post, read why younger interviewers shouldn’t discriminate against older workers.

7 ways managers can improve the hiring process

For you hiring managers, you might have taken notice upon seeing the title of this post. While it’s true that job seekers can benefit from advice on their job-search techniques, there’s something to be said about how you can improve the process.

hiring-manager2

You can make the hiring process a better experience for job candidates. This is within your power, as you are usually the one making the hiring decision. Your goals is to hire the best possible candidates; it’s to your company’s benefit.

Read this article by FastCompany.com about some mistakes hiring managers have made.

Are there hiring managers who interview well? Absolutely. They have mastered the process and hire great candidates. But for those who don’t, here are seven things to consider.

1. Get trained on how to interview properly. Smart companies send their hiring managers to training on how to interview properly. Hiring managers are taught about which questions to ask and how to conduct an interview that draws the best attributes out of job candidates.

“I’ve been managing people for years, and I was never trained how to interview candidates,” one of my workshop attendees said after I made the bold statement that some hiring managers are not the best interviewers.

The statement from my workshop attendee did not surprise me; training can be expensive and time intensive. The Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) provides training for hiring managers. Among the various techniques SHRM teaches is which questions to stay away from, namely illegal ones.

2. Don’t ask illegal questions. One of my clients told me he went to an interview and the second question the hiring manager asked was, “How old are you?” I asked him to repeat his statement. I was so shocked by this blatantly illegal question.

Although it’s hard to prove, under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 candidates 40-years and older are protected by age discrimination. But age is not the only topic hiring managers should stay away from. Questions about nationality, marital status, gender identity, race, disability, political preference, and religion are taboo.

3. Don’t discount the value of the mature worker. Related to the previous reason, some hiring managers—young and older alike—discriminate against age. They are subtle about it, or quite obvious. Many of my clients, who average 53-years of age, tell me about times when they could see this on the hiring manager’s face.

This is not only illegal, it’s bad practice. Mature workers add value, through their job experience, maturity, great problem-solving skills, dependability, and more. Am I saying that mature workers don’t lack some skills younger workers do? No. Every age group has strengths and weaknesses.

4. Hiring the best candidate is a priority. Probably the last thing hiring managers want to do is interview someone for—as an example—an office manager, when she has multiple projects to oversee. Here’s the thing, the hiring manager needs someone who can run the office and make her life easier. She needs a problem solver.

Yes, overseeing the projects is important, but finding the right administrative assistant should take priority. Rushing through the process could lead to a wrong hire which doesn’t relieve the problem and can be expensive (approximately 30% of the candidates first annual salary).

5. Be willing to interview strangers. The preferred method of hiring a candidate is through a referral because candidates come with a mark of approval. But sometimes the best candidate is not known someone who works in the company or someone who knows someone who works in the company.

Herein lies the rub: hiring managers need to go through the process of reading résumés from strangers and interviewing them. As unpleasant as it may be, if they want the true problem solver they seek, the right person might not be a referral.

6. Work with your recruiters and HR. A complaint I often hear from recruiters and HR is that they need to play a bigger role in the process. They want to do more than conduct phone interviews to determine a candidate’s salary  and experience.

Recruiters and HR want to be business partners and know hiring managers’ thoughts before approaching potential applicants. They should not go into screening candidates without a full understanding of what hiring managers are looking for in terms of: “the must haves vs. the nice to haves,” the interview layout, etc. Read this article from the Muse.

7. Stop looking for the purple squirrel. This is a common term meaning the candidates must be perfect. Candidates must be able to hit the ground running, a fit for the work environment, and liked by the hiring manager.

A candidate who has the required experience and  is compatible with his colleagues and the hiring manager is essential; but some hiring managers want a clone of themselves and someone they would want to go out for drinks with. What’s most important is that the candidates possesses high EQ.


This last point is why many of my clients are frustrated by the time it takes employers to hire them. Three, four, five rounds of interviews. According to SHRM, the average time it takes employers to hire job seekers is 26 days. This figure seems low to me, as I’ve seen some of my clients wait two or three months for employers to pull the trigger.

Coupled with poor hiring methods and a long process, job seekers are frustrated. Do you blame them? I don’t.

Photo: Flickr, Kristof Ramon 

 

6 reasons why you landed your job

Searching for a job was scary and one of the most difficult times in your life. But you made it. You landed the job you wanted. Your job search took longer than you would have liked, but you persevered for six months.

Success

When you think about what led you through your journey and to this new opportunity, you can pinpoint 6 distinct reasons:

1. You demonstrated emotional intelligence (EQ).There were times when you felt like throwing in the towel. You felt like staying in bed dreading the days ahead. Your feelings of despondency were unseen by others, save for loved ones and your closest friends.

When you were networking in your community, attending networking groups three times a week, and taking workshops at the local career center, you showed a confident demeanor. You were positive and demonstrated a willingness to help others. Despite negative thoughts, you did your best to help yourself and others.

Read 12 ways to show emotional intelligence.

2. You developed a target company list. Taking the advice of your career advisor, you made a list of companies for which you wanted to work. She told you to spend time researching your target companies and contacting people for networking meetings before jobs were advertised.

You left each networking meeting with different people to contact. You had the sense that one person, a VP of Marketing and Sales, had an interest in you. He led you to the door saying, “We might be in touch with you real soon.” But you didn’t rely on this one occurrence.

You continued to build your target company list and ask for networking meetings. You were spending less time applying for jobs online and more time meeting with quality connections. You were optimistic. You felt productive.

Read 4 components of job-search networking emails.

3. You networked the proper way. At networking events you were attentive to others, while also willing to ask for help. Many people think only of their situation, not of helping others. Not you. You kept your eyes open for opportunities for your networking companions.

When people ask you for leads at companies of interest, you gave them the names of hiring managers in various departments. You became known as the “Connector.” Weeks later, you were happy to learn of one of your networking companions landing a position at a company, based on one of your leads.

You also networked in your community. Told everyone you knew that you were looking for a job and asked them to keep their ears to the pavement. Who would have known that your neighbor across the street would be the reason you landed your job?

He worked at one of your target companies and knew the VP of marketing and would deliver your résumé to him. Put in a good word. You were asked to come in to have a few discussions.

Read 10 ways to make a better impression while networking

4. You wrote killer résumés. Yes, plural. Because you tailored as many of your résumés as possible to each job, knowing that every employer has different needs. A one-fits-all résumé doesn’t work. In addition, you eliminated fluff from your Performance Profile. It’s better to show, rather than tell.

Most importantly, you packed a punch in your Experience section by listing accomplishment statements with quantified results. Results like, “Increased productivity by 80%” sounds better than simply, “Increased productivity.”

Using your network was key in getting your résumé into the hands of the hiring managers, such as the time your neighbor delivered your value-packed résumé to that hiring manager.

Read 8 reasons why hiring authorities will read your résumé.

5. You nailed the interviews at one of your target companies. There were five interviews for the job your neighbor led you to; two telephone, two group, and a one-on-one. You were prepared for each interview, having researched the company, the position, their competition, even the interviewers.

You used LinkedIn to discover who the interviewers were. One was a youth soccer coach, like you. Another had gone to your alma mater. And another was a veteran, so you were sure to thank her for her service. That went over very well.

After each interview you sent unique follow-up notes to every interviewer, ensuring that you mentioned a specific point of interest made by each one. You even sent a thank-you note to the receptionist. Smart move.

After 6 months, you received an email from the VP of marketing telling you they were offering you the position of marketing manager and were also exceeding your salary requirement.

Read 6 ways to interact with one of the most important people in the interview process 

6. Your work was not complete. You didn’t forget the people who helped you along the way, such as the person who helped you revise your résumé, the people with whom you formally networked, and certainly your neighbor who led you to your new job. They deserved thanks.

In the true spirit of networking, there were people who you could help in a more meaningful way, such as Sydney from your networking group who was looking for an engineering position.

There was a mechanical engineer position opening in your new company. You mentioned the position to Sydney and gave her a good word. Wouldn’t you know; you changed Sydney’s life for the better.

Read 6 topics to include in your thank-you notes.

I’ve heard many stories from my clients who have similar plots to this one. Their job search wasn’t easy. Their landing was well deserved. But they had to display EQ, do their research, help others, and be willing to help themselves. If you are dedicated to do the same, your job search will be shorter.

A portion of this post appeared in Recruiter.com

Photo: Flickr Marc Accetta

 

2 important rules for connecting on LinkedIn the right way

First, never send default invites

I estimate that I ignore 90% of invites from LinkedIn members, simply because they don’t include a personalized note. In fact, if I accepted all invites I’d probably have 10,000 connections in my LinkedIn network. This is not to brag; I’m just saying.

li-logoWhy am I so adamant about people taking the time to personalize their invites? Short and simple, default invites suck.

The default invite on LinkedIn is: I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn. While it clearly states a hopeful networker’s intent, I need more. Something that tells me why we should connect.

Sending the default invite is akin to going up to someone at a networking event and saying, “Hi. What can you do for me?” It’s insincere and sends the message, “I’m inviting you to be in my network, but I could care less if you join.” Is this the type of message you want to send to a potential networker?

I believe there are three reasons why LinkedIn members don’t personalize their invites.

One, they just don’t get it. Or they haven’t been educated. I can only spread the word to the people who attend my LinkedIn workshops or read my posts. Even then some don’t get it.

Two, they’re using their phone to connect with others on LinkedIn. Although there is a way to send a personalized invite from your phone, most people don’t know how to do it. The process is very simple, so there’s no excuse.

To send an invite from your phone, go to the person’s profile, click the three vertical dots for androids or horizontal dots for iPhones, choose “Personalize invite,” write one, and hit send.

Three, they’re plain lazy. I think this is really the heart of the matter, and I hesitate to say it, especially out loud; but in essence this is what it comes down to. To me, a default invitation is a statement of want without a sign of reciprocation. And this defies the true definition of networking.

lazyI and others, I’m sure, are more likely to accept an invite if a thoughtful note is attached to it. So what should you write if you want someone to join your network?

1. You might have something in common with whom you’re trying to connect. “Hi Susan, I’ve been following your updates and feel that we have a great deal in common. Would you accept an invitation to be in my LinkedIn network?”

2. Maybe you’re the bold type. “Hey, Bob. You and I are in career development. Ain’t that cool? Let’s link up!” I like this confidence, despite the slang.

3. You might want to take the calculated approach. “After reviewing your profile, I’m impressed with its quality and your diverse interests.” A little flattery never hurts.

4. Inviting someone to be part of your LinkedIn network is a perfect way to follow up with that person after a face-to-face meeting. “Sam, it was great meeting with you at the Friends of Kevin networking event. I looked you up on LinkedIn and thought we could stay in touch.”

5. Boost the person’s ego. “Bob, I read one of your posts and thought it was spot on. I’d like to connect with you.” Or “Jason, I saw you speak at the Tsongas Arena and what you said really resonated with me. I’d like to follow up with you.”

These are some suggestions that would entice someone like myself to accept an invite. When I’m sent an invite, I only request a personalized note—it’s not that hard, really. So rather than just hitting the Send Invitation button, take a few seconds to compose something from the heart.


Second, thank people for inviting you to their network

Is there anything worse than sending a “cold,” “lazy,” “uninviting” default message to a potential connection? Yes, it’s not thanking people who invite you to their network. Come on, this goes against what your parents taught you when you were a child.

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It just makes common sense. If you receive an invitation to be part of someone’s network, reply to the sender by thanking them for being considered. It’s an honor the sender has chosen you, so show your gratitude.

In effect, this is similar to walking away from a conversation at a social gathering. Would you simply walk away from a conversation without saying, “Thank you for the conversation?” Simply do an about face and make for the door? I would hope not.

What to Write. Your note can begin with, “Thank you for the invite. And thank you for the personalized message.” And if you want to carry on the conversation, you might add, “It would be great to talk about our common interests, as we’re both in (the occupation). I’d be happy to call you at your convenience.”

Also thank your new connection for joining your network. All too often LinkedIn members invite someone to their network and then kill the momentum by not showing their gratitude.

To make professional online networking effective, you must keep the ball in play, keep the lines of communication open. Extend civility and appreciation for someone joining your network.

“Thank you for being part of my network” would suffice. Or you may add, “I invited you to be in my network because we’re both (occupation) or (interested in) and think we can be of assistance to each other.”


Personalizing your invites and saying “Thanks” are two very basic, yet important components of developing a solid relationship with your LinkedIn network.  LinkedIn gives you the option to do neither. Don’t let LinkedIn let you get lazy.

It takes but a few minutes to connect with someone on LinkedIn the right way.

Photo: Flickr, ruijiaoli

Photo: Flickr, Retroeric