Tag Archives: follow-up

5 ways to be memorable in a positive way in your job search

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I don’t remember much, but when I do, I never forget. There are some jobseekers I remember because they leave a lasting impression, like one woman I had in my Behavioral Interviewing workshop whose story about motivating others was so compelling. Melissa is her name.

Then there’s Mark who just got an Administrator position in healthcare. He thanked me for my help and told me he’d write an account of his job search and how LinkedIn was of great help.

Lisa landed a benefits job in human resources. Previously she was a manager, but she wanted out of that. She proved that stepping down is fine, just as long as you can still prove your value.

Armando I remember because he would always ping me with updates about his job search. He was always positive, never seemingly desperate, and sometimes he offered to help me. He still remains one of my favorite former customers, still someone I’ll reach out to. The other day, in fact, I called to see if he needed a gift in the form of a very talented jobseeker.

Kelly just landed a marketing job at a bank after being out of work for approximately a year. When she spoke with me just before securing her job, she admitted to being discouraged; but she never showed this. In fact it was just the opposite–she was positive and very active on LinkedIn.

Unfortunately there have been people who are a complete downer, but they’re far and in between. Still I remember them because of the poor impression they made. Mike Downer would constantly e-mail me about how he wasn’t going to make it. I would tell him he would if he networked and tried to be positive. He finally got a job. I won’t hear from him unless he needs another job.

The five people* I mention–yes they exist–who came across as positive and/or were willing to provide any help they could are the ones I would go out of my way to help; whereas the one that was always negative is someone I’d dread hearing from.

There’s a pattern here. People want to go out of their way to help those who make a good impression. If you want to be memorable to people who can assist you in your job search, keep in mind the following:

  1. Appearing positive, regardless of your internal struggles, attracts more people than if you’re negative. Negativity drives people away. Take Mike Downer, for example.
  2. Remind people of you by pinging them with e-mails and phone calls, but don’t annoy them with constant contact. Offer to meet them for coffee if it’s convenient for them.
  3. Always follow up after you’ve met someone who might be of assistance. Every time you follow up ask if you can be of assistance to them. If you can reciprocate in any way, it’s better than only asking for their help.
  4. Know your stories. Expert on storytelling, Katharine Hansen @ A storied Career, touts the importance of stories, how memorable they are in life and in the job search.
  5. Let people know about your successes. Had a great interview? Let people know. Finished a résumé you’re happy with? Let people know. Although your confidence may be low, announcing your achievements will make you and others feel great.

These are just a few positive things you can do to become memorable. Don’t be a downer, regardless of your internal struggles. Most people understand that being out of work is painful, including yours truly; so don’t make it the gist of your relationship with others. People like this are easy for me to remember, even if I can’t remember big name actors like Chris….See, I forgot.

*I will occasionally update this list of people and their examples of positiveness.

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Don’t disappear from LinkedIn, my valued connections

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How to stay in touch with your LinkedIn connections.

I connected with a childhood friend on LinkedIn about a month ago. It was like a reunion where we caught up on good times, exchanged professional information, and were happy to reconnect. For the last two weeks, though, I haven’t seen hide nor hair of him.

What’s funny is that his profile was respectable; nay strong. He even used the media feature in his Experience section. He put real work into it and wrote to me, “I don’t know why people think building a profile is so difficult. All you have to do is play with it.”

But this post isn’t about the best way to build a profile; there have been many posts on this topic. What I’m constantly wondering is where are the people? The people who seem to be going strong, like my childhood friend, but suddenly disappear as if they’ve gone on an extended vacation.

One of the most important aspects of networking—online or personal—is maintaining a presence. I tell my LinkedIn workshop attendees to update at least once a day. That’s correct, once a day. This is how you communicate with your connections and…stay on their minds.

Of course there have to be viable reasons for updating daily. It’s not like you can write, “I’m off to the beach; let’s meet up,” like you might on Twitter. No there must be intelligent and professional topics on which to update.

Let’s start with the most common:

  • Sharing articles—One of my favorites, especially articles from which people will learn. A good source for articles is Pulse.
  • Writing articles—I know, scary. But if you like writing, LinkedIn makes it possible to share your writing via Long Posts with your connections…and their connections.
  • Posting quotes—Some enjoy doing this. I’m not a big fan.
  • Writing about skills you’re developing—Great for jobseekers to show their value.
  • Letting people know what classes or conferences you’re attending—Perhaps you can meet up with people while you’re in DC.
  • Hosting an event—One of my connections hosts business networking events and uses LinkedIn to announce his events.
  • Provide tips—This demonstrates your expertise.
  • Ask questions—Ask illuminating questions that generate replies.
  • Are you leading workshops—Updating is a great way to promote them, as well as strengthen your brand as a workshop facilitator.
  • A great book you’re reading—Keep it professional. Because LinkedIn eliminated its Reading List feature, you might want to let people know you’re reading Twitter 2.0, for example.

Maybe updating on a regular basis is not your thing. You might simply want to:

  • “Like” what others update.
  • Write a short comment to someone’s post.
  • Thank people for visiting your profile.

The point is to be active and maintain your presence. It’s really not that hard, my valued connections.

I guess what I’m saying is I miss you. You are part of my network, so don’t disappear like a poof of dirt. Are you getting tired of LinkedIn? Are you spreading yourself too thin? Did you feel forced to join? Be persistent because, as you know, success only comes to those who work hard.

 

Photo: Danielle Nelson, Flickr

10 signs your job search resembles The Middle

The middleOne of my favorite TV shows is ABC’s The Middle. You know, the show about a family struggling just to get by. The character I like best is Brick, the youngest of the Hecks who is a genius yet oddly strange. (“Oddly Strange,” he whispers to his chest.) I also like Mike who my kids say I resemble, until I threaten to cut off their food supply.

Watching The Middle reminds me that some people conduct their job search as if it’s…The Middle. How, you may wonder? Think about the way the family never seems to get ahead, how their lives remain the same; and despite the fact that the show makes us laugh, we find it somewhat depressing. This is my point. There are 10 signs of your job search that resembles The Middle.

  1. No game plan. Does this not describe the Heck family to a T? Having a plan and goals also means you need to know what job you want to pursue, which can be the most difficult part of the job search for some. Without a plan, you’ll have no direction, which is essential if you don’t want to be stuck in The Middle land.
  2. A résumé that fails to brand you. Most important is writing a résumé that is tailored to each job, showing employers you can meet their specific needs. A Summary that fails to attract the attention of the reader, lacking a Core Competency section. no accomplishments to mention; are all signs of a The Middle job search.
  3. No online presence, namely LinkedIn, the premier social media application for the job search. At least 87% of recruiters/employers use LinkedIn to find talent, so if you’re not on LinkedIn you’re definitely hurting your chances of advancing in the job search.
  4. cover letter that doesn’t excite. You’re writing cover letters that fail to express your personality and are, well, boring. Worse yet, you’re sending form cover letters that don’t show you meet the specific requirements of the job. Further, you’re a believer of not sending cover letters. The Middle material for sure.
  5. Only applying online for positions. I’m not saying not to use job boards, but don’t use them as the foundation of your job search; networking still is, and will be, the most successful way to find employment. Don’t be fooled into thinking that sending out hundreds of applications will advance your job search…definitely reminiscent of The Middle.
  6. Networking isn’t part of your vocabulary. If you’re not going to networking events, meet-ups, or connecting with everyone you know, you’re missing the boat. Networking is proactive and a great way to uncover hidden opportunities at companies/organizations that may be hiring.
  7. Informational interviews are alien to you. The goal behind information interview is networking with people who are in your desired industry and selected companies. Impressing the people with whom you speak can create opportunities that might include being recommended for a job developing in the company, or may lead to speaking with other quality connections.
  8. Following up with potential connections is missing from the equation. You’re great at meeting people at networking events or other places to connect. You promise to e-mail or call your connections. But you don’t. This is a sure way to be stuck in The Middle, where nothing seems to change.
  9. Preparing for interviews as an afterthought. Oops, you go to interviews without having done your research on the position and company. You think you can wing it because you know your business like no one does. You’ve heard of behavioral-based questions but aren’t too concerned. You don’t get the job because of your lack of preparation.
  10. Not sending a follow-up note clearly says you don’t care. And simply thanking the interviewer/s isn’t enough; show the interviewers you were listening and engaged by mentioning some points of interest or revisiting a question you didn’t elaborate on. If you want to remain in The Middle, don’t send a follow-up note. But if you want the job, show the love. And no form thanks-yous please.

The Middle teaches a good lesson about how we need to put more effort into the job search. Doing a few of these activities does not make a successful job search; they must all be done to shorten the search. Can you think of other components of the job search that are necessary to make it a success?

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Job Search Tip #7: Creating your contact list and start networking

The last tip looked at writing your accomplishment list. Today we’ll address creating your networking list of people who may help you find your next job.

By now you know that the best way to find work is by networking. Statistics from the Department of Labor show that networking accounts for at least 60% of your success, if used alone. Throw in online networking and you increase your chances of success.

The question is not if networking will help you in your job search; it’s with whom do you network? A simple answer is, everyone.

Here are the steps to take in developing your contact list and, just as importantly, following up with your contacts.

Make a list of the people with whom you worked or attended school. Don’t limit yourself to your most recent position; go back as far as 10 to 15 years. Also consider vendors and partners you may have done business with, or professors and teaching assistants you studied under.

Don’t forget the little guy. You may think that your managers, VPs, or directors are your best bet, but often times they are too busy to help. It’s usually your colleagues and people a level or two below you who have the time to spare and, quite honestly, care the most.

Consider everyone. Do you remember the mother of your daughter’s soccer teammate? The one who works at Raytheon? She might know of an accountant position in the works or that someone in marketing is on the outs. How about your convenience store owner who listens to his customers complain about not being able to fine good managers with business acumen? These people, along with family members, relatives, your plumber, and others can be a great source of networking.

These people are called superficial connections and often provide the leads necessary to get an interview. Too many people tell me they are only networking with past colleagues and supervisors, but it’s natural networking that may grant you success.

Develop new contacts by attending local networking events. This will take getting outside your comfort zone, but to bring new people into your fold; you’ll need to expand your reach. The best people to be around are people who are currently employed and own their own business. Local business networking events and chamber of commerce meet-ups are ideal for networking with people who are aware of the goings-on in the labor market.

Once you’ve made contact it’s important to follow-up with your new connections. A timely phone call placed to inquire about your contact’s daughter’s soccer game is a nice touch and will keep your name fresh in her mind. There is no harm in mentioning your employment status, but don’t inquire about any job openings at her company. “Do you know of anyone I should contact?” is a fair question, but don’t put on the pressure—it’s a sure way to lose a contact.

The secret behind online networking is to reach out to people who can be mutually helpful and then make personal contact with them. Many people feel that virtual communications will suffice in the networking arena. This is a mistake. People don’t get to know you unless they hear your voice or meet you in person. Agreeing to meet for coffee or at a contact’s office shows commitment on your part. Get outside your comfort zone.

Next Friday we’ll look at making your company list.

 

Why it’s okay to send a handwritten note, and what you should also do

This article is in response to one written for BusinessInsider.com about the pitfalls of sending a handwritten thank you note after an interview. I see the author’s points of view, but I would do it differently. I also stress there is no one way to do it right.

While many people prefer to send an e-mail thank you note after an interview, just as many prefer to send a handwritten note—this is based on unofficial polls I conduct during a few of my workshops.

The pros of sending a handwritten thank you letter.

It’s a personal touch and shows the recipient that you took the time and spent the money to purchase the cards. You thoughtfully wrote the card without the use of spell check. And you either hand delivered it or supported our government’s mail system by mailing it to the interviewer/s.

The feel of a heavy-stock thank you letter is oh so pleasing. The sight of a professional, tasteful card with gold trim and “Thank You” printed in gold is eye appealing. The words written in your own hand are so much more intimate than the standard Arial, Calibri, Cambria fonts. And if your handwriting is nice—please no hearts or smiley faces—it’s an additional bonus.

Best of all—because this is what I do when someone thanks me for helping them find a job—a thank you card is tangible; the interviewer can hang the card in her office for all to see, as well as your gratitude for the time she took to interview job candidates.

I like to tell the story to my workshop participants of a recruiter, a burly man who came to our career center to talk about interviewing. He was asked if he appreciated handwritten thank you notes and proceeded to tell the group about the way the hairs on his arms would rise when he held a card in his hands. A man who stood six feet, four inches talking about the sensation he felt left an impression on me.

The cons of sending a handwritten card.

Unlike the e-mail thank you, it doesn’t get there seconds after you’ve written your words of gratitude. Most will tell you to send it off 24-48 hours after the interview. As well, the card isn’t guaranteed to reach the recipient like an e-mail will (Unless you hand-deliver your thank you card. Here’s a thought.)

You generally can’t include a lot of verbiage on some of the interesting topics discussed at the interview, nor can you practice damage control, e.g., amending an answer you gave or completing it with some research. Unless, of course, your write real small.

The thank you card may not go over well with the IT recruiter…wait, I just told you about the recruiter who spoke at our career center about the feeling of ecstasy he had when he received cards.

What to do?

I’ve presented my opinion fairly objectively (not really), but what I really believe is that first you should send your thank you note via e-mail and then a week later send a handwritten note following up your e-mail. In my opinion, it’s the handwritten card that will impress the interviewer. But to play it safe you might want to do both.

Professional networking: The one that got away

Guest Contributor Beth Cohen Moore.

When it comes to networking for my career, I guess you could say I’m a lot like most people. The thought of entering a room full of a whole bunch of people I don’t know and trying to sell myself appeals to me just about as much as throwing myself out of an airplane. Yet, I know that as a jobseeker, sitting behind a computer and pitching my resume into the black hole isn’t going to get me the job I want.

So recently, on the advice of my incredibly patient career coach, I recently found an appropriate group in my job search geography and attended a lunch and learn networking event with other professionals in my field. This was scary stuff, people!
In preparation for this event, I printed up my business cards, (thank you Tim’s Strategy and Tiny Prints), committed my elevator speech to memory, put on my best business suit and headed off to my first foray into face-to-face professional networking.

Do you know what? I had fun! I met a lot of really amazing, talented people. They welcomed me into their group and I found myself talking very easily about who I am and what I do. Most of the people I met were employed, but we had common ground – years of experience in our field – and this made connecting surprisingly easy.

As I chatted with those around me and exchanged business cards (believe it or not, this came very naturally), I noticed a young woman sitting nearby who was not engaging with anyone. She had that look on her face – you know the one. It’s that “Oh my God, what the hell am I doing here?” look. Mustering up all my courage I approached her and introduced myself.

Turns out she was newly unemployed and looking. And as it so happens, though we work in a different category of consumer products, our areas of expertise were quite similar. She had solid online marketing experience in the fashion industry with some very large brands. I instantly knew that I could be of some help to her in her job search through my connections to several recruiters who work in fashion and apparel.

Our afternoon speaker was about to start his presentation, so I handed her my business card (which of course has my LinkedIn address on it) and told her to contact me. I waited momentarily for her card and then realized she has come to this event without one. No way to contact her! I felt truly disappointed. However, as I found a seat I took comfort in the fact that this young woman said that she would make contact with me … and I believed her.

Weeks have now gone by since my inaugural networking event and I haven’t heard a word from my new job seeker friend. During this time, through my own job search, I have engaged with numerous recruiters who are looking for online marketing expertise in her field. I feel so frustrated. I have no way to find this young woman. I have no way to help her!

I think one of the reasons so many of us job seekers hesitate to attend face to face networking events is that we find it hard to ask for something – especially from strangers. We inherently believe that to be in need is seen as weakness in our (business) culture. But in feeling this way, we are making some huge assumptions about the people around us that aren’t necessarily true.

And something important has finally dawned on me.

As a talented candidate looking for work in this economy, when we show up unprepared, when we are afraid to ask, we are not only depriving ourselves of an opportunity, but we are actually depriving other people of the ability to help us! And we do this unintentionally!

I feel frustrated about being unable to fulfill my purpose as a professional networker to help this woman – the one who “got away.”

But I’ve learned a tremendous lesson in the nature of reciprocity. Give and get. It’s part of life – and it’s an important part of career networking.

What about you? Have you done everything you can to make it easy for people to help you in your search? Is it hard for you to ask for help from others as you look for a job? Why?


Guest Expert:

Beth Cohen Moore is a cross channel marketer who currently serves as Marketing Communications and Community Manager for CPGjobs. She is the Co-founder of Traxee.com, an online community for women runners and regularly blogs about technology, social media, career, job search and women’s health and physical fitness. Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter @bethcohenmoore.