Tag Archives: Career Search

3 types of job-search mentors who can guide you in your journey

And five places you can find them.

When you think of mentors, you probably think of someone who advises you through school or your career. But have you thought of someone who can offer you sage advice and nurture you through your job search? This, I argue, is one crucial time in your life when you should have a mentor.

wise man

You might wonder who could mentor you through your search, and where you can find a mentor. These are fair considerations. But first consider how important a mentor could be in your job search.

Like a mentor you might have had at a job, your job-search mentor would make you far more successful in finding your next job. Would your mentor cut your job search in half? Perhaps not.

You should look at your mentor as someone whose goal is to guide you toward a rewarding job, whether it takes three weeks or three months. Your mentor wants you to stay at your next job for years to come. This is how important a mentor can be.

Three types of mentors

Who makes a great mentor? There are three characteristics of a great mentor. A person who possesses one of these characteristics is a find. A person with all three is gold.

The wise person

In the job search, this person can be invaluable. You might have questions about various aspects of your job search. You wonder how to best represent yourself in your written and verbal communications. This person will guide you, based on our occupation and industry, with the proper verbiage.

You’re an engineer. Your former director of engineering will help you structure your résumé and LinkedIn profile. They’ll help you with your networking and interview techniques. They speak the language and know what people who have the authority to hire. They’ve hired many people of your status.

The facilitator

Where are the jobs? That’s what every job seeker wants to know. Here’s a fact: most jobs aren’t advertised. They’re hidden and to find them requires a facilitator to lead you to them. A facilitator is someone who’ll connect you to almost anyone you want. They are well known in your industry and know the key players.

You want to connect with someone in Fortune 100 companies. No problem. Start-ups are your target companies. Again, no problem. If they don’t know someone at a company, they’ll find out who you need to know and make the introductions for you. “When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen.”

The cheerleader

Better known as a closer, this person won’t let you quit. They are enthusiastic and stand in your corner. You feel like giving up on a possible position, they won’t let you. I’ve spoken to many job seekers who say they’ve just had a bad day or week. I get this; the job search is a grind.

I can offer a pep talk, but a dedicated cheerleader will do more. They’ll call you in the morning; and if you don’t answer the phone, they’ll drive to your house. If you’re a member of a buddy group, the cheerleader will be the one who’ll stay later to provide encouragement. Have an interview, they’ll encourage you to the point when the interview begins.

Where you can find a mentor

Have I convinced you to find a mentor? I hope I have. Now you’re wondering where to find the person or people I’ve just described.

Former colleagues

One person to turn to is a former colleague. Perhaps you had a director of marketing who always offered you sage advice related to work. That person even gave you career advice while you were working for them; when you were laid off they told you to contact them at any time.

Little did you know that your former director knew many people in your industry. They could make phone calls or introduce you on LinkedIn. Think about people like this and reach out to them. Ask if you can call them occasionally. You might find that they’ll reach out to you on a regular basis.

Networking buddies

I’ve had the privilege of knowing many job seekers who made it their mission to help their networking buddies. One person who comes to mind was a true facilitator. He started a networking group. At meetings he was always throwing out names during Needs and Leads.

You’ll know when you’ve found the networking buddy who will fit the role you need, be it the wise person, facilitator, or cheerleader. Don’t look at this relationship as one-sided. Your networking buddy is looking for work as well, do your best to help them.

Career advisors and coaches

As a career coach working for a One-Stop career center, I’ll tell you I see thousands of people a year. There are so many job seekers coming through our doors that it’s hard to keep them straight. One type of job seeker who stands out is the one who is totally dedicated to their job search.

Should you find a mentor, show them that you’re motivated to succeed in your job search. Make the effort to send pings on a bi-weekly basis, letting your career advisor/coach know your progress. This will keep you on their radar—especially important if your career coach is extremely busy.

Searching online

Although a slower method, finding people who are thought leaders in your industry is a possibility. When you send a potential mentor an invite, don’t make the ask immediately. Develop a relationship first. Get a feel for some of your connections and, if they’re local, ask to meet with them in person.

The ideal person might not live locally. No problem; use Skype, Zoom, or even Facetime to conduct sessions. I have a friend who I’ve Zoomed with on many occasions but never met him in person until just recently. He was like I had imagined. Over the years he has given me sage advice, so I consider him to be my online mentor.

Happenstance

It’s true that things happen when you least expect it. Your goal might be to find a mentor, and you try your best to find one. However, “that” person is nowhere to be found. Perhaps you’re trying too hard. Does it make sense to write on the Internet that you’re looking for a mentor? No

Like that great job that happens when you don’t expect it, meeting your mentor might be by happenstance. Imagine you’re at a holiday party and you strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. That person comes across as very knowledgeable in your industry and others. Furthermore, they know almost everyone who you should meet.


A great mentor in your job search can be the difference between landing a rewarding career quickly or enduring a long job search. Of the three types of mentors, either one can be important.

5 tips for busy people using LinkedIn

I’ve often said that my use of LinkedIn can be classified as extreme, almost bordering on a sickness. No lie; I’m on LinkedIn every day of the year for at least half an hour a day. There are other people like me, maybe worse.

busy people

You might be wondering why I use LinkedIn as often as I do. First, I teach hundreds of LinkedIn workshops and individual sessions a year. Second, it’s great advertisement for my side hustle, LinkedIn profiles and training. Third, I enjoy using LinkedIn.

If you think this article is about using LinkedIn as often as I and others do, don’t fret. In fact, I’m going to suggest that you don’t follow my lead. As I tell me clients, “Don’t be like me.”

So let’s talk about you. You are unemployed, underemployed, trying to leave your current job for a better one, or running a business. You don’t see using LinkedIn as often as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. LinkedIn’s not your priority. You’re busy.

However, you realize that you have to use LinkedIn to accomplish your goals.

This article is for you busy people. I’m going to make LinkedIn doable for you by offering five tips.

  1. How much time to dedicate to LinkedIn.
  2. How you should create your profile.
  3. How to connect with other LinkedIn members.
  4. How to engage with your network.
  5. What to do after your land your job or have established your business.

But first, why you should use LinkedIn

Perhaps you’ve been told by do-gooders that if you use LinkedIn alone, you will land a job easily and quickly or business will pick up in a snap. That’s bunk. LinkedIn is part of your networking campaign; you’ll also have to network face-to-face. Consider LinkedIn a supplement to your face-to-face networking.

Here are three strong reasons why you should be on LinkedIn. One, anywhere between a 78%-95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent. Two, LinkedIn is a great research tool, which will allow you to locate and follow or connect with pretty much anyone you want to. Three, LinkedIn can be a great professional community.

1. How much time to dedicate to LinkedIn

I’d like to say, “Whatever makes you comfortable,” but some of you might follow the average LinkedIn user who is on LinkedIn a mere 17 minutes a month, according to various sources. You might consider me judgemental when I say those people should leave LinkedIn immediately.

If you fall under the 17-minutes-a-month category, heed what I write next or close your account.

I suggest you use LinkedIn two days a week, 10 minutes a day, at a bare minimum. Better would be four days a week, 15 minutes a day. You’ll make more progress. But I know you’re busy, so do what you can.

2. How you should create your profile

Do yourself a favor by having a professional who won’t break the bank write your profile. This is if you have the resources. Most people don’t have the resources, so I’ll make this short and sweet. Copy your résumé to your profile for the time being.

Some of you LinkedIn profile pundits are groaning, even cursing me for saying this; but I’m not finished. After this—when you have time—revise your profile.

If you are struggling with verbiage, look at other profiles that reflect what you do, but do not plagiarize.

Read this article to learn how to take your profile to the next level.

3. How to connect with other LinkedIn members

Here’s the thing: despite what you’ve been told and what you’ve seen written, connecting with others and networking online strategically, is more important than creating a kick-ass profile. More groans from the pundits in the wing.

Here’s my challenge for you: send connection invites to 10 people a week. This might seem like a lot, but my goal is to get you to 250 LinkedIn connections as quickly as possible. The question now is who to connect with? Connect with the following people:

  1. Your former colleagues, if you haven’t done this already;
  2. like-minded people who do the same type of work you do and are in similar industries;
  3. people at your desired companies, and;
  4. your alumni.

At this point, you’re wondering how you find said people, how you properly invite them to your network, and what you do after you’ve connected with them. To answer how you find them, let me simply say, “Make All Filters your best friend.” Read this now, or come back to it. But do read it.

The key to properly inviting LinkedIn members to your network is by the personalized messages you send. You might want to create templates that fit most connection-types, strictly to save time. The proper way to write invites is to tailor them to each position.

I’ve included some examples at the end of this article of the messages you can send.

The last part of the “invite process” is where most people fall down. Don’t be this person. Of course I’m talking about following up with the people you’ve invited to your network. I believe that the people who fail to do this are afraid of rejection or insulting their new connections.

4. How to engage with your network

You’re busy, so this component will also trumps a kick-ass profile, for now. You’ll have time to create a profile worthy of greatness, one that demonstrates your value through compelling narrative and knock-em-dead accomplishments.

The goal is to be noticed. To be top of mind with your network, you have to be present on LinkedIn. The old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind” is so true when it comes to LinkedIn. People in your network will see in their timeline your photo and Headline.

However, the Notifications feature will alert you to when:

  • you react to or comment on a post your connections have written,
  • your connections have commented or reacted to a post you’ve written,
  • they’ve tagged you in a post or article,
  • they’ve shared something you’ve written,
  • basically anything your network has done concerning you.

You’re busy. I get that. So I’m going to ask you to take a few actions at first. See the little buggers below? When you read a post or article, hit one of them in the response to a post from one of your connections. Gasp from the LinkedIn pundits.reactions

Next you will be writing a comment on something you’ve read or a video you’ve watched. Nothing huge, because you’re busy, but something that shows you’ve read or viewed the content. Contrary to what you might think, you do have the right to write your own content.

Total time to do this, 15 minutes. You can break it up into chunks throughout the day.

Read this article on how to engage on LinkedIn. You can simply react to it or write an insightful comment.

5. What to do after your land your job or have established your business

I know you don’t think I’m going to say, “Put LinkedIn to bed.” To the contrary; use LinkedIn as much as I’ve told you. This especially goes for you business owners but also applies for you former job seekers.

I wrote a post that has had more than 40,000 views about 8 reasons why you should still use LinkedIn after you land. It’s called I HAVE A JOB. WHY DO I NEED TO USE LINKEDIN. Read it to better understand why using LinkedIn is important after you’ve landed your next job.


Three invite examples

The cold invite

Hello Susan,

We met at the Boston Networking event. You delivered an excellent presentation. The way you talked about interviewing resonated with me. As promised, I’m inviting you to my LinkedIn network.

Bob

The reference invite

Hi Dave,

You and I are both connected with Sharon Beane. She and I work for MassHire Lowell Career Center as workshop facilitators. She strongly encouraged me to connect with you and would be willing to talk with you about me. I believe we can be of mutual assistance.

Sincerely,

Bob

The introduction invite (probably best sent via email)

Hi Karen,

I see that you’re connected with Mark L. Brown, the director of finance at ABC Company. I’m currently in transition and am very interested in a senior financial analyst role.

Although there is no advertised position at ABC, I’d like to speak with Mark about the responsibilities of a senior financial analyst role in ABC’s finance department. It is early on in the process, so I’m also scoping out the companies on my bucket list.

I’ve attached my resume for you to distribute to Mark and anyone you know who is looking for a senior financial analyst.

Sincerely,

Bob

PS – It was great seeing our girls duke it out in last weekend’s soccer match. I hope the two teams meet in the finals.

 

9 false stereotypes interviewers have of older workers

I have the privilege of working at an urban career center where the average age of our clients is 53. For older workers, the job search can come with challenges—one of which being stereotypes, due to their age, they face from employers.
talk

This is unfortunate, as it leads to many qualified older workers being passed over simply due to their age. Here are nine common stereotypes older workers face when searching for work:

1. Older workers are overqualified

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

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

2. Older workers expect higher salaries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Older workers aren’t dependable

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

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

6. Older workers can’t solve problems

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

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

7. Older workers are lazy

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

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

8. Older workers aren’t team players

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

9. Older workers don’t understand technology

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

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

Thanks, Colleen DelVecchio for the reminder.


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

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

This post originally appeared in Recruiter.com

Think like employers: 5 ways they fill positions

And what to do about it.

When I talk to my clients about the hiring process, I’m greeted with mixed reactions. Some of my clients know the drill; perhaps they’ve been through the process, even from the hiring end. Others listen wide-eyed; they’re not happy knowing their way of looking for work is the least effective.

CEO

Consider this scenario

On Friday the position of Sr. Software Engineer is announced internally. All employees who want to apply need to submit a résumé detailing their qualifications by close of business (COB) on Monday.

Three people feel they are qualified and hurry to update their résumé over the weekend. One of the candidates doesn’t have a résumé, has never written one. He’ll have to learn how to write one quickly.

On COB of Monday, when résumés are due, the VP of Engineering résumés from the internal candidates on her desk. She has a pretty good idea of who she will name Sr. Software Engineer. But there’s another résumé from someone who was referred by an employee for the position.

HR needs to announce the opening on Indeed, accept résumés, and interview external candidates. Then employees from various departments will interview the new candidates, internal included. The process could take up to a month.

This scenario is not uncommon. Is it fair? this depends on who you ask. Generally speaking, there are five ways employers prefer to fill a position.

1. Fill positions from within

The scenario above depicts the most preferred way employers fill a position; from within the company. Ideally they have someone who can fill it quickly and with little fuss. Is it fair to the unemployed candidates? Again, it depends on who you ask.

Unfair to the unemployed, but companies have one thing in mind, filling the position with a safe bet; and who’s safer than someone they know? This makes good business sense.

The hiring manager is familiar with the abilities, and inabilities, of the company’s employees. As well, promoting from within builds good will in the company. An employer that promotes from within is a good employer. So this is a win-win situation.

2. Referrals from employees

The second way employers prefer to fill a position is by taking referrals from their own employees. In some cases the employer will reward the employees with a monetary bonus for referring a person who sticks for, say, three months.

When I was in marketing, I referred my cousin to an IT position in a company for which I worked. I recalled years before how he spread the word of his unemployment at a family gathering, so I brought this up to the powers that be. The CIO read my cousin’s résumé, invited him in for an interview the next day, and offered him a job that day.

I was rewarded one thousand dollars, minus four hundred for taxes. I’ve heard of people who received as much as ten thousand dollars for making a referral. Of course the level of the position to be filled matters.

I never would have referred my cousin unless I was confident of his abilities, which is the case with most employees making a referral. People like me don’t want egg on their face if the person doesn’t work out, even if said person is family. By the way, my cousin worked out extremely well.

3. Referrals from trusted people outside the company

At this point the employer has tried their best to find an internal candidate or someone recommended by their employees. Nothing has worked out and the position has to be filled yesterday.

Their next move is reaching out to people they trusts outside the company. The employer may reach out to former colleagues, partners, vendors, even people who’ve left the company for greener pastures.

The employer trusts these people because they know what the employer’s looking for in job-related and soft skills. They’re the best bet at this point. Besides, the referrers don’t want to steer their buddies wrong.

In an Undercover Recruiter article, it states, “Employee referrals have the highest applicant to hire conversion rate – only 7% apply but this accounts for 40% of all hires.”

Further, it claims, “Applicants hired from a referral begin their position quicker than applicants found via job boards and career sites (after 29 days compared with 39 days via job boards and 55 via career sites).”

4. Hire recruiters

When requesting referrals doesn’t work, the employer’s next step is hiring a recruiter. This is less desirable than seeking referrals because recruiters are expensive but palatable because recruiters are more knowledgeable of the industry.

There are two types of recruiters, retained and contingency. While retained recruiters work strictly for the employer and are more knowledgeable of the industry, the contingency recruiters only get paid when they find the best candidates.

The employer’s cost for hiring a recruiter can range from 15-30% of the applicant’s first year salary. A hefty chunk of change.

Either way, the employer is paying for a few candidates to be delivered to the table. It’s still a risky proposition. Referrals are still the desired source of candidates for the reasons stated above.

5. Advertise positions

Now it’s desperation time, because this is when employers advertise their positions. There are two major problems with advertising a position, cost and uncertainty of hiring the right candidate.

You may think that it’s the cost of advertising online is the major concern, but it isn’t; the cost employers feel the most is the time spent reading résumés and interviewing unknown people. When I ask hiring managers (HM) if they like reading those résumé, approximately 98% of them say they don’t.

With applicant tracking systems in place, you’d think the process would be more manageable and pleasant, but this isn’t the case. For some, reading 25 résumés is reading 25 resumes too many.

Even with the advancement of the ATS, poor candidates get past it and make it to the interview. What many recruiters and HMs are experiencing are candidates who are not qualified and, in many cases, have embellished their accomplishments.

What do you do as a job seeker?

The obvious answer is to become a referral by reaching out to those you know in desired companies. This sounds easier said than done, but the steps you take begin first with determining which companies you’d like to work for. Create a list of at least 15 target companies.

Reach out to your former supervisors and colleagues. If they’ve moved on to another company, they might know of possible openings there or at other companies. The problem with relying solely on former colleagues, is that well will run dry; they will run out of time and ideas.

Attend industry groups where people who are currently employed are networking for business. You are there to offer your expertise either on a paid basis or as a volunteer. You are prepared with personal business cards and your personal commercial. It’s my opinion is that the best people to be with are those who are employed.

One of the best places to network is in your community. You never know when you could run into someone who knows someone who works at one of your target companies. Most important is that people know about your situation and that you’ve clearly explained what you’re looking for.

LinkedIn is ideal for identifying people in companies, as most hiring authorities are on LinkedIn. Make use of your online time by using the Companies feature and do advance searches. Work your way up by connecting to people on your level. Also, connect with people who used to work at the company; they can give you some insight.

The bottom line is that you cannot rely on applying online and waiting to be brought in for an interview. You must become a referral.

Photo: Flickr, Roger Braunstein

4 important principles of your job-search stories

In a recent networking event, I started facilitating it by having the members introduce themselves with their elevator pitch. When it was my time to deliver my pitch, instead I began by saying, “When I was a child….” This immediately grabbed their attention.

father lessson

I proceeded to tell the networkers a two-minute story about a hard lesson I learned from my dad.

Then I broke them up into groups of four and had them each tell two stories. (Because it was an odd number, I participated…again.) They could select from telling a story about a:

  1. tough life lesson they learned;
  2. rewarding life experience;
  3. failure experienced in work; and
  4. success they achieved in work.

After each networker told their group two stories, I asked for volunteers to tell the whole group their favorite story. As it turned out, the members had told their individual group a story that addressed each topic. I must say all the stories were extremely good.

Finally I asked the members if their stories were related to networking. Yes. I followed by explaining how stories, no matter what the topic, have to be relevant to their audience. They must include the following principles:

Meaning

What meaning does your story have? The exercise I had my networkers perform required them to address the aforementioned topics. I gave them specific instructions, which they adhered to.

The purpose of the exercise was not only to teach them the importance of storytelling; it was also to illustrate that networking is more than delivering your elevator pitch. For example, you might have the opportunity at a networking event to tell a brief story about your vacation in northern Italy.

The same principle applies to interviews. When an interviewer asks you to tell them about a specific time when you demonstrated excellent conflict resolution skill, they don’t want theoretical answers.

Don’t start with, “Conflict resolution requires a level head….” No, begin with, “There was a situation where I last worked….” Interviewers want to hear stories that have meaning to them. You also have to use proper form.

Form

A story you tell to answer a behavioral-based question will be less open-ended than a story you tell in a social gathering or for an activity I gave my networkers. It has to have form, should not exceed two minutes, and be specific to a situation or problem.

Remember what I mentioned above; don’t start with a theoretical answer to describe a specific time when you dealt with a conflict, or any other specific situation.

In workshop I lead called Mastering the Interview, I have my participants construct a story using the following form: Problem or Situation, approximately 20% of the story; the Actions taken to meet the situation, 60% of the story; and the Result of the action taken, the remaining 20%.

Some of my workshop attendees have difficulty keeping the situation brief. They feel the need to provide background information, which distracts the listener from what’s most important—the actions taken to meet the situation. The result is also important, whether it’s a positive or negative resolution.

Create a connection

When the candidate creates a connection in an interview, a couple of things can happen. First, the interviewer may smile and indicate approval by saying, “Thank you. That was a great answer.” This likely means that your story addressed the the question and adhered to proper form.

Or the employer may come back with follow-up questions, such as, “How do you know you saved the company money by volunteering to take over the webmaster responsibilities?” Bingo. You’ve gained the interest of the employer. You’ve created a connection.

My networkers achieved success by eliciting some emotional response from the group. One story a man delivered was about how he was tasked with telling his aunt that her father had passed away. No one in the family could bring themselves to do it. So, he did the tough act. His was an emotional story.

Preparation is paramount to success

There is really only one way to prepare for telling your stories. You have to completely understand what’s required of the position. Know what competencies the employer is looking for, e.g. time management, leadership, problem solving, problem assessment, and customer service skills.

Based on this knowledge, you will construct five stories in anticipation of directives like, “Tell me about a time when you felt your leadership skills had a positive impact on your team…and a time when it had a negative impact.”


My networkers didn’t have time to prepare for this exercise; they had to think on their feet. But all of them did extremely well. The stories they told might not have been geared toward the job search, but it showed them the importance of making a connection through storytelling.

7 areas of the modern job search for career practitioners

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

climbing a hill

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

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

Wellness

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

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

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

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

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

Research

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

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

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

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

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

Résumé

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

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

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

Applicant tracking systems

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

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

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

LinkedIn campaign

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

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

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

Networking

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

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

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

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

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

Interviewing

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

 

Photo: Flickr, The expert consultant

7 wasted networking opportunities that hurt your chances

At formal networking events there’s usually a “needs and leads” session, where participants can mention companies in which they’re interested. They ask if their fellow networkers know anyone at those companies. That’s the needs part.

Men Networking

The leads part is when their fellow networkers shout out the names of people they know at said companies. Or they say that they’ll talk with the person, who has needs, at the end of the networking event. This brings me to the first missed opportunity.

Not asking for leads

At a recent networking event I was leading at our career center, I asked if anyone had any needs and leads. This was after our guest speaker had finished her presentation. No sooner had I made the announcement, many people rose from their chairs and headed for the door.

For those who remained, I told them this was their chance to ask for leads. A few of them mentioned companies in which they were interested. And a few of the attendees offered some leads.

This is a classic example of job seekers who don’t know the companies in which they’re interested. They haven’t done their research, haven’t created a list of 10 or 15 companies they’re targeting. Or maybe they’re afraid to ask for help. In either case, this is a missed opportunity.

Not approaching the guest speaker

I mentioned we had a guest speaker. If the guest speaker is someone who works for a company on your target list, you must wait around at the end of the event to grab a few minutes of their time. Let’s call this Company X.

Make your intentions clear that you’re very interested in Company X and the role you’re seeking. The speaker might not know if Company X has an opening or plans to hire someone for your position, but that’s okay.

Kindly ask if you can leave your resume or, better yet, personal business card with them for future consideration. Ask for their company business card, as well. And don’t forget to ask if you can connect with them on LinkedIn.

If all of this seems too forward, keep in mind that people who attend networking events, participants or speakers, know the purpose of the event—to network. How you deliver the ask is important. You must come across as polite and sound as if you don’t expect anything.

Not approaching people with whom you should speak

Research the people who will be attending. If possible, find out if there will be contacts or potential contacts at the event. You might want to arrange to meet people of interest at the event. As well, you can inquire from the coordinator of the event who will be at the event. This is particularly a smart move for people who are uncomfortable going to networking events.

The events I lead at our career center always begin with people delivering their 30-second elevator pitch. This is the time when you write down each person’s occupation, so you can approach them near the end of the networking event.

Here are some other tips:

  1. Make sure you’re wearing a name tag for easy recognition.
  2. Approach the people with whom you want to speak in a friendly manner.
  3. Be prepared to provide information or leads for them.
  4. Be willing to deliver your ask…politely

Not including other networkers in a group conversation

I see this all the time. A group of networkers excluding others from their group. I find it incredibly rude and a possible missed opportunity. For example, at one of my networking events I see a group of people having a lively conversation. I know that one of them might be interested in a position we’re trying to fill at our career center.

I wait patiently. I try to make eye contact with one of them. Still waiting I get no love. I walk away and move on to an individual who is standing alone and appearing uncomfortable. She’s happy to see me, as I’m the facilitator of the event.

I’ve also seen this at larger events. A good group facilitator will walk with the person to a group of clueless networkers and introduce the hesitant person. The facilitator will break the wall and force the group to include said person. This should not have to happen.

Not bringing your personal business cards to the event

In my opinion, if you leave your personal business cards at home, don’t go to the event. It’s that simple.

Hopefully this article will encourage you to create a personal business card: 7 reasons why you need personal business cards and 7 facts to include on them.

Not dressing for success

It’s not necessary to dress to the nines when you go to a formal networking event, but you should at least wear casual work attire. I’ve seen people wear Tee-shirts and jeans to events. This might have been appropriate attire for where they worked, but it’s not appropriate for a formal event.

Not dressing for success shows a lack of professionalism and respect to other members of the networking group. I say this because I feel disrespected when I hold an event and people wear their Saturday home gear.

For the most part, I see networkers who dress very well. Some will appear in a suit, which is overkill, but others will wear nicely pressed shirts, blouses, slacks, or skirts. This says to me, “I know why I’m here, and I’m ready to get down to work.” They get it.

Keep in mind that a potential employer might be in the room, and they might have to hire an employee in the future. Who’s going to leave a positive impression in their mind; the people who’ve dressed to impress, or the ones who’ve shown up looking like they’re going to mow their lawn.

Of course, not following-up

Here’s where many people drop the ball; they don’t follow-up with the people with whom they’ve had a great conversation. The words of my friend and founder of a networking group, Kevin Willett, ring in my ears:

If you don’t follow up, it’s like you were never there.

So true. You must follow up the next day (Monday if it’s a Friday event) with a phone call or email. And you must persist for a couple or three times at most. If you don’t get a response, the message is clear; that person was never serious to begin with.

Here’s where you need to practice etiquette. If you reach said person, ask them if they would like to meet for coffee (your treat) or have a phone conversation at their convenience.

Here’s the thing; people like me would rather speak over the phone than take more time to meet for coffee. There are others, however, that like the face-to-face interaction. Tell them that you respect their time and will talk anywhere they’d like.


Missed opportunity at networking events can mean the difference between landing a job and not. Let’s recap on what you should do:

  1. Ask for leads
  2. Approach the guest speaker
  3. Approach people with whom you need to speak
  4. Include others in your group conversation
  5. Bring your personal business cards to events
  6. Dress for success
  7. Follow up

Photo: Flickr, International Railway Summit