5 traits that lead to a successful job search. Hint, it’s about customer service

customer-service-phoneSuccessful businesses realize that selling excellent products at reasonable prices is not enough. They have to couple that with excellent customer service. This last component cannot be overlooked. To most consumers it’s a vital ingredient.

When people ask me which business offers the best customer service, I automatically say Starbucks. My valued LinkedIn connection and Chief Influence Officer, Brian Ahearn, felt the same way in 2013 when he wrote 5 Reasons Why Starbucks is so Persuasive.

That was awhile ago, but I’m willing to bet he still prefers Starbucks over the competition.

I asked Brian which five traits of customer service stand out in his mind. He was quick to rattle them off—I’m sure he could think of others, though. His five traits are: friendly, responsive, helpful, empathetic, and knowledgeable.

Smart job seekers understand that everyone is their customer.

Friendly

My experience with Starbucks has consistently been pleasant because the baristas are…friendly. They smile, ask me if I need anything else, and always wish me a good day. I feel as if I’m the only one they’re waiting on.

Not only should you smile; you should also make eye contact and project warmth in your voice. Again, simple advice; but I can attest that when my clients do all threee of these three, they receive a better response from me and others.

At a networking event, you’ll come across as friendly while talking with networking partners, which makes you come across as someone they would recommend to a hiring authority, if the opportunity arises. Of course there are other attributes you need to demonstrate.

Similarly, your friendly demeanor is essential in an interview, where you want to come across as affable, someone with whom people want to work. Friendly seems like a simple trait, yet it packs a bigger punch then most think.

Responsive

The baristas that take my order at the drive-through don’t need to be told twice what I and the members in my car want. They make me think, “Dang, they’re on the ball.” This is one example of responsiveness. I’m sure you can think of others.

You have to be responsive to your networking partners who rely on you for advice and possible leads. When answering a job ad, you must send your résumé and cover letter to potential employers within a day or two. This will indicate how responsive you’ll be when you work for them.

When being interviewed on the phone, showing great customer service means getting back to the interviewer quickly. Many a job seeker has lost out on jobs because they kept the interviewer waiting. Be prepared to answer the difficult questions; don’t waste the interviewer’s time.

Helpful

helpfulThis trait brings to mind companies that are aren’t helpful. The associates are nowhere in sight, and when you happen to land one like a fish, they give you convoluted directions that confuse you more than help.

Being helpful in the job search means helping others who are looking for work. I wrote a post about giving to others while networking. This means thinking of others before thinking of yourself, which may seem difficult given your situation.

Help employers by applying for jobs for which you’re qualified. I know this sounds like basic information, but this is one of the biggest complaints recruiters and hiring managers have. I tell my clients they should meet at least 85% of the requirements, not 40% or 50%.

Empathetic

A company that shows empathy will understand the concerns of its customers. Products or services that don’t perform up to standards and need to be returned without hassle is one example of showing empathy.

This post from John White describes how his employer handled a difficult situation involving irate customers.

As a career strategist, I see the roller coaster of emotions job seekers go through in their job search. As my customers I have to be empathetic to their plight. This doesn’t mean, however, that I should let them lose focus and drive because of their turmoil.

Nor should you allow your fellow networkers lose sight of the endgame. Understand what they’re experiencing, but hold them accountable for their search. You can empathize with them, because you’ve been there, but you also realize they have to conduct their search, when they may want to stay home and watch Ellen.

Knowledgeable 

Have you ever come across a technical customer service rep who answers all your questions, even the ones before you ask them. They lead you through a serious of complicated procedures in order to get your computer up and running. You’re so grateful that you want to talk to their supervisor so you can praise your technical customer service rep.

This is how you need to come across in the job search. I think of Mavens who are there to provide advice to struggling job seekers; whether this is in an organized networking group or a meetup or one-on-one.

One client who comes to mind is not only knowledgeable,  he’s also caring.

Of course, demonstrating knowledge is most important when you’re sitting in the hot seat at an interview. Able to answer questions about the role, company, even competition is essential to your success. This requires extensive research on these three elements, not a cursory read of the job description and website.

Take your research to the next level—this is what the knowledgeable customer service rep—did. Study anything written about the company on the Internet. Talk to people who work at the company. Read press releases and annual reports if the company is public. Leave no rocks uncovered.


No one values and knows customer service as well as Brian Ahearn. A recent post he wrote describes how last impressions are lasting impressions. It is a wonderful story that I can relate to.

I may even be more stringent than him, because even one bad experience may cause me not to return to a company. Yes, I know this is sad, but I do value customer service. And so should job seekers. They must realize that providing great customer service is essential to their search. Essential.

Photo: Flickr, Eurobase FulFillment, Flickr, Lynn Stover

A risk not taken in the job search, is an opportunity lost

Many people are standing around a tranquil body of water with their fishing lines cast in it. They believe the water is abundant with fish. They’re content standing there exchanging a word or two, speaking of hope and opportunity. They feel like old friends who are in it together.

Before a cave stands one man looking into it, and from within the cave eyes stare at him. The eyes are frightening, for they could be the eyes of monsters; but on the other hand they could be the eyes of friendly people. The man’s just not sure of which. So he waits.

The people are comfortable standing around that body of water with fishing lines dangling from their poles. There’s comfort in numbers. The weather is fine—fine as in real fine, not sticky hot. Life is grand.

Because the man in front of the cave is afraid of dark spaces, he won’t enter it even if someone were to beat him with a stick. It’s better to wait.

Eventually the people grow tired of standing around the body of water with nothing happening. They get hungry and their arms get tired from holding their light fishing poles. They start lowering their poles, grumbling from hunger. Life isn’t so grand.

Because the man standing before the cave doesn’t feel particularly courageous, he stands there wondering if it’s worth entering. It’s damn cold out and whatever’s inside the cave seem to be comfortable. Whoever’s in there continue to look out, almost taunting him. It’s as if they know something he doesn’t, and this begins to bug him.

Risks are hard to measure and the outcomes are not certain. Because they’re hard to measure, safety (as in numbers) and a common belief (there has to be fish in the water) seem to be more viable. This is exactly why the man is having a hard time entering that cave; it’s risky. Soon he’ll discover that he is a risk taker, an explorer. At the moment he’s unsure of what to do.

The people around the body of water, who are now beginning to drop their fishing poles and swear about being hungry, aren’t risk takers. And look what it’s getting them. They’re getting no fish. Further, they’re beginning to think that even if there are fish in the water, there are too many people with whom to share the fish…if there are fish.

Eventually the man standing at the entrance of the cave decides that entering the unknown is better than standing there and getting nothing accomplished. He takes a breath and puts one step forward, backs up, takes another breath, again puts the foot forward, then puts the other foot forward, until he’s in the cave. And guess what, it doesn’t seem that dark when his eyes adjust.

What he sees around him are opportunities that were hidden from him until he took a risk—only it wasn’t really a risk, as it turns out. He only has one regret; he wishes he’d entered the cave a lot sooner.

Meanwhile the people round the body of water leave, each believing that there are fish in the water. The fish weren’t biting today, but tomorrow will be a new day with hope renewed. They’ll discover much later that the promise of fish was an empty one.

7 thoughts on the mind of a recruiter

Worried on phoneIt’s Casino Night for my kids’ school. I don’t expect much from this event, but it turns out to be more fun than I would have thought. It’s surprising how PTA volunteers can really let loose when alcohol is consumed at great quantities. I talk with two stupid-drunk people at length, and another person with whom I have an interesting conversation.

The interesting conversation of which I speak is with a recruiter from a local computer and network security company. We talk about our occupations, sharing the good, bad, and the ugly. The main message I learn from him is that recruiters don’t have it as easy as we think.

1. There are jobs a plenty. This recruiter asks me how I see the job market. I tell him it’s getting better but not as good as I’d like. He confirms my statement by telling me he has a ridiculous number of job requests open. This is good, I think. I tell him there are job seekers with excellent qualifications who come through our career center.

I ask him if he only looks for passive job candidates—those who are currently working. He says his company looks at unemployed candidates, as well. How many months out of work will they consider for a candidate, three, six, nine? He says one year is usually the limit. This is better than I thought. I’m encouraged.

Actually, I think this guy is too good to be true.

2. Difficult finding talent to meet his employer’s needs. When I lament that companies expect their new hires to hit the ground running, he corrects me with, “You mean sprinting. Hit the ground sprinting.”

Sadly that’s the fact at his company. This recruiter’s job is to find people with extensive Java experience. Not just some Java experience, not even enough Java experience to get them going. He’s looking for people that can jump in on day one.

“How about someone who is capable of mastering what the company needs, within a couple of months.” I offer. He agrees but points out that one of his hiring managers has had an open job for four months. This befuddles him. “A quick learner might be a better in the long run,” I follow. He agrees, but ultimately it isn’t his choice who gets hired.

3. The résumés, in general, suck. When he tells me this, it is not new news. I’ve been hearing and reading this from frustrated recruiters who skim through poorly written and formatted résumés. Worst of all, they have little to nothing to do with the job a recruiter’s trying to fill. “What can you do?” he says. People desperate for a job will do anything to get an interview.

This, by far, is the worst part of his job, trudging through résumés…all those résumés.

4. He finally finds the right person, but they don’t interview well. He finds people who have all the skills, job-related and soft, but can’t demonstrate them at an interview. Other recruiters have echoed this; they have no control over what goes on between the hiring manager and the candidates during the interview. Some candidates just don’t do well at interviews.

It must be like sending your child away to summer camp and hoping for the best. In most cases they know the candidate will handle him/herself well, but there’s always the chance that a person will bomb at the interview. Lose their resolve and slide under the table because of their nerves. Shame. Many a good candidate is passed up because he can’t pass the “test.”

5. Everything goes fine until negotiations. Another recruiter I spoke with told me she was willing to bring someone in for an interview because he had the talent necessary for the job. However, he wouldn’t budge from his salary requirement. She and this person were $10,000 apart for a $100,000+ position and she was sure the gap could be narrowed. He was so adamant that she gave she gave up on him in frustration.

6. He uses LinkedIn exclusively. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this said and probably won’t be the last. This recruiter no longer uses Monster because his searches aren’t as focused; there’s too much garbage. Linked allows him to zero in on exactly what he needs. I remark that I read only 20% of résumés stored on Monster are read. He doesn’t doubt this.

I bitch about LinkedIn taking away us common folks’ commercial searches. He hasn’t heard about this new rule because he’s a recruiter and benefits from a $12,000-a-year premium account. (This is the figure I’ve heard.) Now I wish I were a recruiter.

7. I think he thinks I”m the enemy. He wonders what I do to help my customers. “I teach them to fool people like you,” I tell him. He laughs. I go into my dog and pony show telling him about how I lead workshops on job-search strategies, as well as provide individual assistance through résumé and LinkedIn profile critiques. He seems interested. But I can tell he’s lingering on what I said about teaching my job seekers to fool people like him.

Can he meet me for lunch, he wants to know. Now I’m wondering if he wants to know my secrets, or if he’s looking for a job. He’s been with his company for five years. I’m thinking he’s doing damn good—I heard the average tenure is less than two years for a recruiter. I see on LinkedIn that many of the recruiters with whom I am connected, in fact, hop jobs like wildfire. Yes, he’s doing quite well.

I agree to meet him if he’ll talk to my networking group about what recruiters think. He says he’s not much of a public speaker, so to make a joke I tell him neither am I. He laughs. If he doesn’t come in, at least I can tell my customers what’s on the mind of a recruiter.

6 job-search methods to use to stay sane

insanity

I think Albert Einstein said it best:

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Yet, as career advisors, we see this practice all the time. And usually it’s the people who are struggling to land their next job that are doing exactly this. They tell me they’ve been using Indeed.com and sometimes Monster.com or LinkedIn…exclusively.

Have you been networking? I ask them. No, that doesn’t work for me, they say. And so they continue using the job boards to distribute their resume, and they wait. Weeks pass and when I see them next, I ask how their search is going. Not so good they tell me.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting that my clients abandon the job boards. Plenty of people land interviews and eventually a position. It just takes them longer. What I am suggesting is that my clients use other means of looking for work.

Use Different Methods to Look for Work 

But before we go further with my suggestions for looking for work, you must know what you want to do, as well as where you’d like to work. I find this to be a challenge for some job seekers, who give me a blank stare when I ask them these questions.

Most know what they want to do but aren’t quite sure where they’d like to work. They don’t have a target company list of even 15 companies, let alone 10. Without this list, networking will be extremely difficult, as you won’t know exactly who to approach.

1. Networking has always proved to be the best way to look for work. Spreading the word in your community and asking your friends, neighbors, relatives, etc. to keep their ears open is a start.

Attend networking groups a couple of times a week. Search on Meetup.com to see if there are smaller events might be more to your liking, particularly if you’re more introverted and prefer the intimacy smaller groups provide.

Supplement your in-person networking with LinkedIn. Make initial contact online and then follow up with a phone call. Ask to meet your LinkedIn connections for coffee, or talking on the phone and Skype-ing may be the way your connections want to go.

2. Reach out to recruiters or staffing agencies. Recruiters have a pipeline of their own of employers that are looking to fill positions. They may work directly with employers or assist internal recruiters at large corporations.

Their job is to present the best candidates to extremely busy hiring managers. They are loyal to said hiring managers because the employer pays their salaries. Make no mistake; recruiters work for the employers, not you.

Therefore, it’s important that your marketing campaign is strong. Your resume and LinkedIn profile must be powerful. As well, you must sell yourself in phone interviews conducted by recruiters. If you can impress the recruiters, you’re one step closer to the face-to-face interview.

3. Leverage your alumni association. Your college, and perhaps your high school, has a vast network of alumni who are more than willing to help you. Why? Because you share something very important in common; you went to the same school.

In addition to a vast network, there are a number of services your alumni association offers: networking events, career advice, mentoring opportunities, informational meetings, and possibly job fairs.

Not all college alumni associations offer these services, but for those that do you should take advantage of as many of them as possible.

4. Knock on companies’ doors, if possible. Some of my clients who are in the trades benefit more from simply going to work-sites and talking with foremen to see if they need any help. Resumes are rarely needed, but confidence matters a great deal.

This doesn’t mean others can’t “knock on companies’ doors.” What I mean by this is sending an introduction of yourself to the companies for which you’d like to work. (Remember that company list?) These are called networking emails and can be very useful in asking for informational meetings.

Some believe these can be more valuable than cover letters, and I’m inclined to agree. This is a great step for those who like to write, as opposed to speaking on the phone. In other words, introverts. The goal is to penetrate the Hidden Job Market.

5. Volunteer in your area of expertise. Volunteering is a good idea for a number of reasons. One, you put yourself in a position to network with people who are currently working and may have ideas or contacts who can be of use.

Two, it keeps you active; you’re not spending all your time sitting at home behind your computer. There’s something about getting out of the house and getting into a routine that’s very cathartic. It gives you a sense of achievement.

Finally, you can enhance the skills you have or develop new ones. For example, you’re a web developer that needs more experience in PHP language. So you volunteer to develop a non-profit’s website. This is also great fodder for your resume.

6. Applying online. With all the negative talk about job boards, there has to be something said about doing it effectively. One way to do it wrong is to simply leave your resume on Monster, Dice, Simply Hired, etc., and wait for the calls to come rolling in.

Similarly, to apply for advertised positions on the company’s website—which is purported to produce better results—will not be enough. The fact is that the majority of job seekers are applying online for the 30% of jobs out there; so there’s a lot of competition.

Now, to do it correctly requires 1) a resume that is optimized for the advertised positions, 2) applying for positions you’re qualified for, and 3) following up on the jobs for which you applied.

There are some barriers, though. For instance, you would have to tailor each resume to the particular jobs. And often you cannot reach the decision maker at the companies. This said, people have told me they’ve landed interviews by applying online.


To use only one method of looking for work would not be productive. If, for instance, you were to network alone—which garners a 70% success rate by some people’s measures—it would not be as successful as if you were to combine that with using job boards and contacting recruiters.

And if networking is not your forte, you may find the going slow. So use the methods of looking for work that you feel are most productive. Just don’t limit it to one method, particularly applying online.

Photo: Flickr, marccm

 

 

5 services your alumni association offers, as well as best practices

career

As a volunteer for my alma mater’s alumni association, I have witnessed some savvy networking from students, recent, and not-so recent alumni. I’ve been impressed with the level of professionalism they’ve demonstrated and their focus on gaining employment.

At one event held in Boston, alumni and current students (as young as sophomores) showed up dressed to impress, took advantage of a free photo shoot, and lined up for the duration of the event for resume and LinkedIn profile critiques I was giving.

My alma mater’s alumni association has held other events in the past that were geared toward helping our alums in their job search. They were well coordinated and of great benefit to the attendees.

Not all alumni services are equal, but generally they offer the services explained below. To take advantage of there services, you must adhere to best practices which are also explained below.

Services

Career advice

Established alumni from your college can provide you with a plethora of career advice, most of which is valuable because your alums have been in their industry, in some cases, for many years. Some have read tons of resumes, cover letters, and interviewed candidates.

Call on alumni for practical advice. Look for people at your level or, better yet, managed employees who work in your occupation and industry. Ask them what they expect from resumes and job candidates in interviews. Pick their brains for this important information.

At my alma mater, there is a list of alumni who can help grads with their resumes, networking and interview techniques, LinkedIn profile, job-search etiquette, and other job-search topics. I have been contacted by recent and not-so-recent grads seeking my services.

A vast network

If you’re fortunate, you have access to vast database of people in the space you want to enter. This database provides you with email addresses, telephone numbers, and LinkedIn profile URLs. If you don’t have access to this information, use LinkedIn’s Find Alumni feature.

Your potent network can span the world, but you might want to focus on your local area. If I want to access my local network, I’ll contact the president of the alumni association. However, if I am interested in seeking employment in North Carolina, I’ll contact the president of that charter.

Once you have located alumni who can help you in your job search, you’ll approach them as you would any potential connection. You can call them, send email, or send Inmail through LinkedIn.

Informational interviews

One of the best ways to pick your alumni’s brains is asking for an informational interview, which I prefer to call a networking meeting, because that’s what you’re doing; you’re networking. But more to the point, you’re gathering important information and advice.

You’re the one who’s asking the questions, so they need to be intelligent ones. Little do you know, but there may be a position developing at your alum’s company. If you impress your alum with the dialog you generate, you may be referred to the hiring authority.

But that’s when the stars are aligned. Along with gaining valuable information, you need to leave the networking meeting with additional contacts with whom you can speak. You are building your network. You’re always building your network.

Alumni and other events

The event I mentioned above was organized to perfection. It was held in Boston at my alma mater’s club, a stunning building with a great view of the city. The event was designed to introduce people to those who could help them in their job search.

At the event, I critiqued resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Other pundits spoke about networking, job-search etiquette, and other job-search topics. And the students and recent grads came to soak up information.

Job fairs are also a great event that are held, for the most part, by career services. However, some alumni associations also conduct job fairs or smaller networking opportunities, such as sports gatherings, social events, etc.

If your alumni association puts on job fairs, check out the companies that are attending and go to the job fairs to make connections. Again, you’re in control of your destiny. Impress some of the reps, and you might create opportunities.

Mentor opportunities

Alumni associations encourage alumni to reach out to professionals in their industry who can mentor them in the job search. The mentors are not career counselors, but they can provide great insight into their industry.

Mentors give valuable time out of their day to gain an understanding of what you’re looking for in employment, how you should approach your search with the correct attitude, suggest people with whom you can speak, and give you the motivation you need.

Mentors will guide you from the start of your job search to the end. They are dedicated to the success of their mentees. They are a special group.

Best practices

To utilize the services explained above requires appropriate behavior, especially since the alumni volunteers are acting out of the goodness of their heart. Here are some best practices:

Be polite is rule number one. Do what you were taught as a child and carried throughout your life. The words, “please” and “thank you” go a long way. Represent your alma mater the proper way.

Be assertive but in a respectful way. Not all volunteers will follow through in a timely manner. Some may simply forget to return your calls. In this case, leave a polite message reminding them of your meeting.

Be accommodating to your alumni volunteer. One of my alumni clients said he’d feel more comfortable meeting face-to-face, but because we live 50 miles apart and I have a busy personal life, he agreed to communicate via phone. Alumni volunteers will also accommodate their alumni clients when possible.

Be knowledgeable when you attend a networking meeting. Don’t arrive without intelligent questions. Contribute to the conversation with appropriate comments. Show yourself as someone who could work at that company if a position exists.

Be focused on your job search. Nothing is more frustrating than talking with someone who is vague about their career goals. However, if you are unsure about what you want to do, you should be able to describe your transferable skills and experience required for a career change.

Be on LinkedIn is a no-brainer these days. Nothing impresses me more these days than a student or someone fresh out of school who has a strong profile and engages with their connections on a regular basis. You should be one of the 450 million LinkedIn users.

Following up is essential to your relationship with your alumni volunteer. After you’ve spoken with them or met them in person, send a thank you via email or card. Ping them every once in awhile so they know how your search is going. Stay top of mind.


It’s been a pleasure volunteering for my alma mater’s alumni association. I’ve had the opportunity to educate alumni of various ages on LinkedIn and resumes and the job search. Be assured that there are alumni volunteers who would like to help you.

If you appreciate your alumni association, I’d love to hear why.

Photo: UMass Alumni Association

 

 

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

older-candidate

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

Hmmm, I thought, here it comes.

Amy is well revered by the staff at our career center and the customers with whom she meets. She knows a great deal about the job search and training, so being disregarded 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 at interviews to people younger than he. And if he does, what his chances of success in this job market are. 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’d be crazy to hire him.

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, director of 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. 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. The word humility comes to mind, as he who is humble can adapt to more demanding situations than he who is arrogant.

In the end, my colleague, Amy, told her customer that his behavior was unacceptable and would do him more harm than good; and 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.

5 ways to give when you’re networking for a job

give-help

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a gift (four delicious pumpkin cupcakes) from a member of a networking group I facilitate. Prior to bestowing upon me such a kind gift, Marie had asked me to critique “only her LinkedIn profile Summary.”

This gift was hardly necessary; although, I have to admit I had forgotten to look at her profile. So I sat with her that day for a brief time and offered some suggestions like, “This paragraph is a bit dense….

“I like the content a lot but perhaps you’d want to reorganize it to match your headline….

“I like your tag line a lot….

“The rest of your profile is great, but you might want to copy and paste some symbols for bullets to spiff it up.”

This interaction is an example of how to give to people when you’re in the job search. Do you have to give baked goods like Marie did? No. You have to reciprocate, however. Here are some ways to give back.

1. Share information

Had Marie sent me a link to an article that could provide fodder for a workshop I lead or a blog post idea, it would be a great way to give back. I’m one who is constantly trolling LinkedIn for information to learn more.

Very little effort required here. For a job seeker it could mean a great post on how to write a resume or some great interview tips. I think sharing information is particularly important for after an informational meeting. You receive information from the person granting you the meeting; now it’s time to return the favor.

2. Make an introduction to someone who could possibly help

You know the saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime?” When you make an introduction, this is what you’re doing. You’re telling your networking partner to take the ball and run.

Note: providing an introduction in person or on LinkedIn is the same concept. LinkedIn may be the way to go for the busy people you know, but an in-person introduction is more expedient and, perhaps, more efficient.

3. Tell networking groups about your happy landing

Don’t think your networking partners won’t be pleased to learn about your Happy Landing. They will be pleased. However, don’t return to the group to gloat. Tell them how you landed your job.

Many times people have returned the group I facilitate to tell us about the journey they traveled. Have they always landed due to networking? Not always. But networking has played at least a small part in their success. Tell people what worked…and what didn’t.

4. Provide leads after you land a job

Some people who’ve landed a job have contacted me about advertised or, better yet, unadvertised positions at their new company. They get the point of networking. This is one of the best ways to give back after your job search.

Do you know someone who’s still looking? Keep that person in mind when positions open in your company. Be smart about it, though. Your new company might offer an employee referral bonus; this doesn’t give you full range to tell everyone you know about the opening, particularly if they’re not qualified.

5. If you don’t get the job, recommend someone else

Sometimes you curse a recruiter for not helping you land a job. You’re so upset because the recruiter delivers the bad news that the company felt you weren’t qualified. There was empathy in their voice as they told you.

Instead of holding it against the recruiter, think about how you can possibly help a networking connection. It may hurt but think about the main tenet of networking; provide help before expecting it. And if it works out for your networking partner, you gain the satisfaction of helping that person.

As well, you help the recruiter who can possibly help you in the future. Remember that recruiters have a network of employers who need to fill jobs. Don’t discount them.



These are but five ways you can help your networking partners. As I said, it’s not necessary to bring delicious baked goods to show your appreciation, but it does help. Thank you, Marie!

Photo: Flickr, the man at the front desk said i’d find you here