Tag Archives: job search

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

Advertisements

How to answer, “Tell me about a time when you had to motivate someone.”

And a sample story.

You might have had to motivate someone to do their work, whether it was a coworker or subordinate. They might have been the bottleneck that was holding up a major project. This is frustrating, especially if you like to finish projects before the deadline, nonetheless on time.

Motivation

Employers are also sensitive to this conundrum because projects finished late cost money

Further, someone who consistently fails to do their part of a project is a major problem who will most likely have to be let go; and this is a huge cost the employer must undertake. Estimates put the cost of a bad hire at 30 percent of the person’s first annual salary.

Therefore, you should expect to be asked this question during an interview: “Tell us about a time when you had to motivate someone.”  This is a common behavioral-based question.

Four thoughts to keep in mind when answering this question

Although this is a tough question to answer, there are four thoughts to keep in mind that will help you answer this question:

  1. Interviewers want to see how you’re going to respond to difficult questions.
  2. Understand why the interviewers are asking the question.
  3. Have your (short) story ready.

For details about how to successfully answer behavioral interview questions, read—Tell Me About a Time When You Failed and Smart Strategies to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions.

How to answer a behavioral-based question

The last thought–have your story ready–is what I’ll address in this article.

A vague answer is not going to impress interviewers. In fact, it might eliminate you from consideration. Remember, this is a problem employers struggle with, so interviewers want a specific answer.

What’s important in answering this question is to go into the interview with a specific situation in mind. This is the beginning of your story. The remaining parts of your story are: your task in the situation, the actions you took to solve the situation, and the result.

The acronym is STAR. Keep in mind to guide you through your answer. Let’s look at a STAR story to answer: “Tell me about a time when you had to motivate someone.”

Situation

Our company was going to participate in an annual trade show at the Javits Center in New York City. The date was approaching in two months.

Task

As the manager of marketing, it was my responsibility to coordinate the trade show. There were several details I had to handle, including making hotel arrangements for sales and the VP, coordinating transportation for our booth, writing content for social media and the website, and additional duties.

It was up to the sales manager to notify our partners, OEMs, and VARs that we were attending.

Actions

Three months before the show, I sent an email to the manager of the sales department asking him to begin the process of sending out the emails. I received no reply at that time.

A week later I called to remind him that the emails had to be sent out in order to give our partners enough time to schedule the event into their calendars. He said he would get on it immediately.

A week after that I ran into him in the lunch room, where I asked him how the emails were going. Sheepishly he told me he hadn’t gotten to sending them. This was making me nervous, and I think he realized it.

Later that day, I went to his office and told him that other trade shows were happening around that time and we had to get confirmation from our partners that they were going to attend ours. I hoped he would understand the gravity of the situation.

By Friday of that week, the emails still hadn’t been sent out, so I decided that he needed some motivation. It’s not like me to go over people’s heads when I can handle the situation myself.

On Monday I crafted an email to VP of sales and marketing telling her that all the task for the trade show were handled, save for the emails that our sales manager had to send out. Then I asked the sales manager to come to my office to review it. I told him that the email was going to be sent out by the end of the day.

Result

This was all the motivation he needed. By the end of the day, he sent out the emails to our OEMs, VARs, and partners. There were a handful of our partners who said they couldn’t make it because they weren’t given enough notice, but most of them were looking forward to it.

The sales manager came to me a week later to apologize for not sending out the emails in a timely manner and appreciated me not going to my VP about the matter. I told him I could help him with his time management skills, and he thanked me for the offer.

Bonus

What I Learned

I learned that I should have been more persuasive earlier in the process. I acted too slowly. I also learned that I can motivate my colleagues without having to get upper management involved.

Read One very important component of your behavioral-based interview answer.

The bottom line

Anticipate that you will be asked behavioral questions in interviews. As usual, the best defense is a good offense—have examples of how you have handled this situation, structured as STARs (plus Learning) so you can clearly present both the situation and the positive result from your action, demonstrating your ability to successfully motivate others to support your employer’s goals.

This article originally appeared on www.job-hunt.org.

Photo: Flickr, Jesper Sehested

 

5 posts that can help you understand introverts in the job search and life

When you learned of your introversion, did you feel a sense of pride or dread. I hope it’s the former, because I am proud to call myself an introvert. Let me correct myself: I’m glad to have a preference for introversion.

man research

One fact that’s important to comprehend—and may give you some solace—is your ability to assert your energy across the spectrum of introversion and extraversion.

In other words, you can demonstrate the traits of an extravert—such as being outgoing and gregarious, excelling at small talk, burning the candle at both ends, managing employees, etc.

Extraverts, the same applies to you. You can be great listeners, take moments to reflect, be alone without being lonely, enjoy writing rather than speaking, etc.

The majority of these articles are about challenges introverts face, but some of them also address the challenges extraverts face. Both dichotomies have their own challenges.


Two areas where self-promotion is important for introverts

One challenge introverts might face is being able to promote themselves in the job search and at work. This post addresses how they can promote themselves.

6 reasons why introverts prefer to write

Introverts generally prefer writing over, say, talking on the phone. It gives them the opportunity to think about what they would like to say in their own time. In addition, they don’t get overpowered by loquacious people, something they don’t enjoy.

5 places introverts need to get away to recharge their batteries

This post is not about the job search, per say; but it is about how introverts use their energy. When it comes down to it introversion is about energy, energy they have to be around people.

3 vital areas where Extraverts can improve their job search

What did I say in the intro? This compilation of posts doesn’t only address introverts; it also addresses the challenges extraverts face. If you’re an extravert, I dare you to read this post

2 great reasons why introverted job seekers should walk

Introverts find various ways to carve out the time to reflect. Mine is walking. Yours may be hiking, yoga, going to the gym, taking a ride, etc. Imagine doing what helps you to reflect.

10 ways to provide great customer service in your job search

Ask my children; I constantly talk about great customer service. When we go through the drive-through and the attendant gets my order right, I’ll rave, “That was great customer service.” If an associate goes above and beyond, I’ll call for the manager and tell them about the great customer service I received.

customer service rep

Providing great customer service doesn’t only apply to paying customers like me; it also applies to job seekers providing great customer service to hiring authorities (recruiters, HR, and hiring managers).

If you’re searching for your next job, you might see it as jumping through hoops. Further, you might have had a bad experience or two with hiring authorities who’ve been plain rude.

But receiving poor customer service from hiring authorities doesn’t mean that you’re given the license to return the same. No, providing great customer service to hiring authorities can be the deal maker that lands you the job.

Alternatively, failing to deliver excellent customer service in your job search could be the deal breaker. Here are some ways to provide great customer service to hiring authorities:

1. It starts with attitude

It always starts with attitude. What makes me cringe is when a job seeker says, “I don’t care what employers think. They’ll have to accept me as I am.” Here’s the thing, hiring authorities don’t have to accept you as you are. They hold the cards. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you’ll land a job.

No, you can’t argue with a recruiter about salary and benefits. No, you can’t decide when to interview based on your whim. No, you can’t treat the receptionist disrespectfully. No, you can’t be a jerk…anytime. Think great customer service, instead.

2. Be qualified for the job

My wife and her team were trying to fill an HR Generalist position. One of the résumés she received was from a person who had no HR experience; her experience was in dog walking and retail sales. Nor did she have a formal degree required for the position.

Wasting interviewers’ time is not great customer service. I’m not one to dissuade people from applying for position when they lack some of the qualifications; however, I don’t encourage people to apply for positions when they lack the most important experience, skills, and accomplishments.

3. Go through the proper channels

Companies have you send your résumés and fill out an application for a reason. They’re trying to maintain the sanity of their HR and recruiter departments. You’ve heard of companies that receive hundreds of resumes for a job. Get the idea?

However, I suggest trying to get your résumés into the hands of  hiring managers. If you personally know someone in the company, they can be your courier. This approach will save you the frustration of sending you résumés through applicant tracking systems (ATS) that will eliminate you from consideration if you don’t match their keywords.

4. Answer the phone

When a hiring authority calls at the agreed time, you’re obligated to take the call. I’ve spoken with clients who told me they weren’t ready to take the call, so they didn’t. I’ve spoken with recruiters who’ve been totally ghosted—yep, it works both ways. Answer the phone!

It goes without saying that you should be prepared for the phone interview, especially if it’s a scheduled one. Show great customer service by taking the interview seriously.

5. Do your homework

One complaint many hiring authorities echo over and over is candidates’ inability to answer this simple question: “What can you tell us about our company?” Some of the candidates respond with, “I didn’t have the chance to visit your website.” Visiting their website is the least employers expect.

I recently spoke to a client who was preparing for an interview. I asked her pointblank, “What do you know about the company?” She went on to say she knows all the products like the back of her hand, loves the responsibilities of the job, knows who is interviewing her, and has performed all the responsibilities and more.

This client was clearly demonstrating great customer service by showing the employer she’d done her homework.

6. Be on time to the interview

Not only do I praise companies for their professionalism, accuracy in taking my orders; I admire their quickness. Think of being on time to the interview the same way the companies, of which I speak, are consistently quick.

Hiring authorities will appreciate your punctuality, albeit not too early, and might even note it as a deal maker. If you are going to be late, call ahead and apologize profusely when you get to the interview. Great customer service.

7. Treat everyone well

Do you know who is one of the most important people in the hiring process? If you guessed the receptionist, you’re correct. In some cases, the receptionist is asked what they thought of the candidates who came in for interviews. If they give a thumbs down, that’s all she wrote.

Make sure you are respectful to everyone with whom you come in contact. Great customer service includes smiling and being friendly. I make a mental note of this when I’m being served, even if I’m not smiling back.

8. Take the questions seriously, every question

One client recently told me she was asked if she were an insect, what would she be. She recalled learning from on of my colleague to think about an attribute important to the company. Her response was, “A bee, because I work for the betterment of teams, often pulling more of my weight.”

My client could have gotten offended, thinking that the question was stupid; but, instead, she thought about the reason for the interviewer asking and knew she had to show respect by answering the question seriously. That’s an example of great customer service.

9. Thank them for their time

I recently spoke with a recruiter from a large medical device company who told me that some people don’t even thank the hiring managers for the time they’ve taken to interview them. What did our parents teach us?

10. Follow up

The same recruiter told me that the hiring managers would almost beam with excitement when they received thank-you notes. My rules for thank-you notes are very simple: send unique ones to each interviewer, mention a take away from the interview, and be quick in delivering it. Again, signs of great customer service.


As I conclude writing this, I understand that advising you to  provide great customer service in your job search is a tall order, especially given the circumstance. I also know you don’t always receive the best customer service from hiring authorities. Be the bigger person, though. Realize how it will help you in the end.

20 steps to take during your job search

How should the job search be conducted? Everyone has their own idea. In this article, I present my idea of the steps job seekers should take to secure a rewarding job. Hint, I don’t feel that writing/updating your résumé is the first step. I think there are variables to consider. 

job seeker balck and white

One thing for sure is that no two job seekers are alike; thus, no two job searches are alike. How you conduct your search is going to be different than the next person, so you might skip some of these steps or embrace all of them.

1. Forgive yourself

If you haven’t already forgiven yourself for being laid off, let go, or forced to quit, it’s not too late. You may be experiencing guilt, self-doubt, anger, and despondency to name a few. When I was laid off from marketing, I remember going through all of the aforementioned feelings. Now I think it was all wasted energy.

If you are having a difficult time forgiving yourself, considering seeing a therapist, especially if these destructive feelings are hindering your job search. Most health insurance policies cover mental health. Look into the health insurance you or your spouse is purchasing.

2. Take a short break

I advise a few days off after you’ve lost your job. You need time to get your head straight. Your emotions will be frazzled. There’s also taking care of your finances, e.g., applying for unemployment. You may want to catch up on medical appointments that you’ve put off because your were too busy while working.

However, if you’re newly unemployed, now is not the time to take a three-month vacation with severance your company gave you or vacation time you’ve accumulated. This will put you behind the eight-ball in terms of getting into the job search and showing a gap on your résumé.

3. Dive into your job search with gusto

Now that your break is over, it’s time to put a concerted effort into your job search. Determine how you’re going to conduct your job search. Make a plan or have someone help you create a sound plan for your search. Many job seekers make the mistake of searching for work online as their only means.

I advise my clients that the methods of searching for work that are most successful from best to worst are: face-to-face networking, attending professional affiliations, utilizing a recruiter or staffing agency, combining LinkedIn with face-to-face networking, and using job boards. You don’t have to use all of these methods, as you don’t want to spread yourself thin.

4. Let others know you’re out of work

As simple as this sounds, plenty of job seekers are reluctant to tell their friends, neighbors, relative, former colleagues, etc., that they’re out of work. Not only should you not feel embarrassed, you are missing opportunities to network.

Most people understand that people sometimes lose their job. It’s likely they have also lost their job. It’s a known fact that people want to help you, so let them. Give them the opportunity to feel good about themselves for helping you. Look at it this way.

5. Be good to yourself

You’ve heard of work/life balance. I believe there’s also job-search/life balance. In other words, don’t burn out during your job search. In a recent job club meeting, I asked the members what they did during the Christmas holiday. Many of them talked about making connections with valuable recruiters.

But the ones who also impressed me were the ones who said they took some time off to decompress, sprinkled in with some job searching activities. You must remember that there are other important aspects of your life, such as family, friends, and events that you otherwise would have put off.

6. Don’t play the numbers game

At times I have to remind job seekers of this destructive practice, where they will say, “In a month I’ll have been out of work for more than a year.” Obsessing over the time you’ve been out of work will hurt your morale and, therefore, your job search.

Everyone’s situation is different. Your friend who is searching for an entry-level position will most likely land a job faster than you, if you’re looking for executive-level roles. In general, the average time it takes to find a job is 26 days, but again this depends on level of position and demand for your position.

7Know thyself

It’s important to possess self-awareness, if you want to conduct your job search effectively. This means thinking about your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. What does this spell? SWOT. That’s right, do a SWOT analysis on yourself.

I have my attendees do a partial SWOT analysis in some of my workshops. I tell them to do a complete one on their own. You should write down 10 or more strengths, five weaknesses, three opportunities, and three threats. This will give you a better sense of what you can capitalize on and areas you need to overcome.

8. Take time to think about what you really want to do

All too often job seekers will settle for the next job that comes along. Sometimes it works out, other times it doesn’t. This stage in your life is a great time to reflect on what will make you happy.

If it’s a career change, think about how your transferable skills can make the transition easier, despite not having all the job-related skills. One woman I worked with had previously worked for Hewlett Packard in marketing. She joined our career center as a grant writer. Eventually she became the director of our Workforce Investment Board.

This article points out various self-assessments you can take to determine your interest.

9. Conduct some labor market research (LMR)

Now, you need to gather LMI on job availability, determining which skills are in high demand, and what salaries employers are offering.  One site that gives you a broad sense of your value in the labor market is Salary.com.

But the best way to gather LMI is by speaking with people in the know, who might include other job seekers or people who will grant you networking meetings, better known as informational interviews.

10. Create a list of companies for which you’d like to work

This is difficult for many people. The sharp job seekers understand the value of keeping a going list of 10 to 15 companies they research. This is also part of your LMR. Your research can tell you which companies are in growth or decline.

You also should identify important players in the companies, hiring managers, directors, VP, CEOs, etc. LinkedIn is ideal for identifying key players in your target companies. Networking is even better, providing you have the right connections.

11. Write your résumé and LinkedIn profile

Now it’s time to write your résumé. When others jump immediately to their résumé and LinkedIn profile, they’re flying blindly. They haven’t self-reflected, thought about what they want to do, and conducted their LMR.

To write your résumé right, you’ll write a tailored résumé for each job you can. A one-fits-all résumé won’t do it; it certainly won’t pass the applicant tracking system (ATS). Employers don’t want to see a grocery list of duties; they want to see relevant, quantified accomplishments.

Read this article to learn more about how to write your LinkedIn profile.

12. Networking is still your best method of looking for work

Approach connections who work for your target companies or people who know people who work for your target companies. Many job seekers have great success using LinkedIn to make connections at desired companies.

I strongly encourage my clients to attend professional association events, where they can network with people who are currently working. Those who are working might know of opportunities for you, or at the very least provide you with some sage advice. To find an association, Google your industry/occupation and your location. Here’s one I found for marketing.

15. Research, research, research

This part of your job search can’t be emphasized enough. One complaint I hear from hiring authorities is the lack of research candidates do. One hiring manager told me a person came to an interview and told the group that he was happy to be invited to (Company X), but he mistakenly called their company by the wrong name. Oops.

Be sure to research the position, company, industry, and even the people conducting the interview. Going to the company’s website is fine, but dig a little deeper. Read press releases and talk with people who work for the company at hand. One figure said 40% of candidates do one to five minutes of research before the interview.

14. Be prepared for tools employers are using, such as Applicant tracking systems (ATS)

The ATS eliminates approximately 75 percent of the applicants for a single job. It is a godsend for recruiters and HR, who are overburdened with résumés to read. However, for job seekers, it’s an impediment.

To be among the 25 percent that pass the ATS, you’ll have to write a résumé that is keyword rich. Unfortunately many candidates don’t know about the ATS and don’t optimize their résumés. Your best bet is to write keyword-rich résumés that are tailored to each job.

Jon Shields of www.jobscan.co explains the ATS in great detail in this post.

15. Pre-employment aptitude and personality tests

Employers have come to rely on aptitude and personality tests that can determine the candidates who’ll advance in the hiring process. Some employers will swear by them, believing that the software can do a better job of screening individuals than their own HR and recruiter.

Employers use pre-employment tests because they are objective and fair across the board—each candidate answers the same questions—and they’re a good indicator of job-related skills. These tests also measure character traits like integrity, cognitive abilities, emotional intelligence, etc.

This article talks about the most common types of pre-employment tests.

16. Telephone Interviews

Hardly new, the telephone interview is typically the first type of interview you will encounter to get to the face-to-face interview. The interviewer has two main objectives: getting your salary requirement and determining if you have the job-related skills to do the job.

However, you need to expect not only the aforementioned questions, but more difficult questions, such as situational and behavioral-based. Telephone interviews have also become more numerous. It’s not uncommon for someone to participate in three or more telephone interviews before getting to an in-person interview.

17. Skype interviews

Skype interviews are common these days. Employers use them to save time and, ultimately, money. As well, interviewers get to see your facial expressions and body language. They are akin to in-person interviews, save for the fact that candidates aren’t invited to the company. This means candidates must nail the following areas:

  1. Stellar content and demonstrated enthusiasm through your answers and body language.
  2. Professional attire. Dress as though you’re going to a face-to-face interview.
  3. All the mechanics are in check, such as lighting, sound, and background.
  4. Look at the webcam, not at the interviewer/s. Looking at them will make it seem like you’re not making eye contact.

Skype interviews may, in fact, be the final interview, which makes it even more dire for job candidates to be prepared for them. This is particularly true if interviewers are situated all over the world.

18. Video interviews

Job candidates are given a number of questions to answer and are timed during the session. At no point do they see the interviewer/s, unlike a Skype interview. My clients who have participated in video interviews say it’s like talking to a wall.

This might be a bit unnerving, but don’t let it rattle you. Have you ever answered interview questions while looking in the mirror? Think of it this way and you’ll be fine. One more thing, look at your computer’s webcam while answering the questions, just as you would for a Skype interview.

Matthew Kosinski from www.recruiter.com. rates the top five video interview platforms in this post.

19. Finally you make it to the big ball, the interview

Chances are you will have to interview in person with companies multiple times. Employers are being very selective because hiring the wrong person can lead to loss in money, time, and possibly customers. For this reason, you need to present your best self. First impressions do matter.

More to the point, the content of your answers need to answer one question, “What value can you bring to the employer?” Your experience and accomplishments have been stated in your written communications and during pre-interviews, but all needs to be reiterated while talking with interviewers.

Read this seven-part series on Nailing the interview process.

20. It’s not over until you follow up

All your good work goes to waste if you don’t follow up after a networking event; informational meeting; being invited to join someone’s LinkedIn network; and, of course an interview.

A thank you note is required after an interview. Not just a form note, but a unique note for each person with whom you interviewed. You had a group interview with four people, you send four separate notes. Try to make each special by mentioning a point of interest discussed during the interview. Yes, email is preferred.


One more: it’s never too late to volunteer

Look, I’m not trying to sell you out. It’s a proven fact that volunteering is an effective way to land a job. Consider these four reasons:

  1. You improve your skills or gain new ones. For example, you’re a webmaster and volunteer to revamp an organization’s website to learn ColdFusion.
  2. It is a great way to network. If you volunteer in the proper organization, you can make connections with vendors, partners, customers, and others in your industry.
  3. You’ll feel more productive. It’s far better than sitting at your computer for six hours a day applying online. As I tell my clients, get out of your house!
  4. It’s a great way to pad your résumé. Volunteerism is work, so why not include it in your Experience section.

Photo: Flickr, worldentertainments center

4 ways networking is a waste of time: 6 ways networking works

Networking a waste of time? Coming from someone who co-facilitates a networking group and runs a job club at a career center, this statement seems like a contradiction. I believe in the power of networking, but how it’s done makes all the difference.

uncomfortable lady

At times networking for job seekers is painfully unsuccessful. Maybe you’ve experienced a time like this: You enter a large room in a church or library or anywhere that will host the networking group. You don’t know a soul if it’s your first go around.

You are shy in social situations. Introducing yourself and launching into small talk scares the hell out of you. Everyone else is engaged in conversation, save for a few people standing in the corners of this room which seems to be growing in size.

You’re remembering everything you’ve been told in job-search workshops. Have your elevator speech prepared is what you’ve been told. Deliver it naturally. Ask for and give your personal business card to anyone who will take and give theirs.

Networking doesn’t work for the following reasons

The scenario described above is one that is common to many job seekers. It’s reason enough for job seekers to swear to never network again. Here are reasons why networking can be a waste of time.

1. You expect immediate gratification

At one point you were told that fellow networkers are going to help you land your next job, which can be true. But if you expect them to have a pocketful of valuable connections with whom you can speak, or opportunities at the ready; you’re in for a disappointed time. Networking is a process that is invaluable, but it takes more time than one visit.

2. You’re not prepared for a formal networking setting

Remember the scenario I painted above? For many people, a large room full of people is not an ideal setting for networking. Generally speaking extraverts are more comfortable in larger groups than introverts, but this isn’t always the case. Extraverts may be as uncomfortable as introverts. The message here is be prepared.

3. You left your personal business cards at home

Worse yet, you don’t have personal business cards. Personal business cards are necessary for a formal networking event. At least 95% of the attendees will have their own personal business cards, which are ideal marketing literature that are meant specifically for networking events. Read my popular post to learn more about personal business cards.

4. You’re only there for the show

Do you go to a networking event to see the guest speaker and then leave? If this is the case, you have no intention to communicate with others. This is acceptable for one event, but if this is your MO, you’re taking up a seat. Read below to learn about what works.

What works

What works is communicating with people who have the same goal in mind, landing a job. Isn’t that what one does when they network, you wonder? Not necessarily. Some people don’t get the concept. Communicating should consist of an exchange of words from which both parties can benefit.

8621406461_b4b89046d1_o (1)

1. Go to networking events with the goal of conversation in mind

I feel most comfortable at a business networking event if there are no expectations of immediate gratification. For example, I could have multiple conversations with a person until we know each other well enough to help each other. I don’t feel comfortable talking with someone who thinks talking at people is communicating. Do you see the difference? If you find yourself in a one-way conversation, disengage with said person.

2. Go with the mindset that you’re going to help each other

You’ve heard, “Help others before asking for help.” I personally think this attitude is a good one to adopt. Don’t go to a networking event only expecting help. However, have conversations with people who can be of mutual assistance. In other words, if you get the sense that the people with whom you’re talking only want help and have no interest in giving it, dump them like a hot potato.

3. Meet in smaller groups

Until now I’ve been painting a picture of large networking events. This type of setting may not be for you. Smaller networking groups may be the secret sauce for you. In smaller groups, you have a better chance of talking with more people and understanding their needs and how you can be of mutual assistance to each other. Read my article on the pros and cons of buddy groups.

4. You’ve got nothing to prove

You don’t have to leave a networking event with 10 personal business cards. You don’t have to leave a networking group with three business cards. In fact, if you leave a networking group without making connections, that’s all right. Just keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Failure is thinking that going to only one event was a waste of time.

5. Success happens anywhere

Superficial networkers are the people you meet when you’re out and about. They are the people in your community—your neighbors, friends, relatives, convenience store owners, hair stylist, dentist, soccer mom at a game, etc. These are people who may have heard of an opportunity. However, they can’t be of assistance unless you let them know you’re out of work. One suggestion is to always carry your personal business cards wherever you go.

6. Create your own networking events

I often suggest books for my clients to read. One of them is Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone. One of the ideas behind this book is to create your own networking opportunities. Invite anyone you want to a hiking outing or dinner party (for instance) and…network. They can be job seekers or business contacts. It’s a great idea.


Networking can work as long as you avoid the four don’ts of networking and, instead, focus on the six dos. The suggestion I emphasize the most is not to give up on networking after one or two attempts. If you’re unsure of what to do, shadow another job seeker to learn best practices.

6 additional ways to improve your job search for the New Year

The first of this series, 10 ways to improve your job search in the New Year, was written almost a year ago. After reading this post, please read the prequel.

As the New Year approaches, job seekers are anticipating employers to increase their payroll. This is an accurate assessment. However, until job seekers receive the acceptance letter, they have to continue to improve their job search.

job seekers in line

Described below are some of the softer job-search steps. They are what job seekers sometimes ignore or think are not important. They are very important and often the first steps you must take to conduct a successful job search.

1. Forgive yourself

If you haven’t already forgiven yourself for being laid off, let go, or forced to quit, it’s not too late. You may be experiencing guilt, self-doubt, anger, and despondency to name a few. When I was laid off from marketing, I remember going through all of the aforementioned feelings. Now I think it was all wasted energy.

On the other hand, own the past. If you were to blame for losing your job, learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat them in your next job. One member of a job club I operate suggested this as a part of our mission statement. I think she was right on track.

If you are having a difficult time forgiving yourself, considering seeing a therapist, especially if these destructive feelings are hindering your job search. Most health insurance policies cover mental health. Look into the health insurance you or your spouse are purchasing.

2. Take a short break

I advise a week off after you’ve lost your job. You need time to get your head straight. Your emotions will be frazzled. And there’s also taking care of your finances, e.g., applying for unemployment.

However, if you’re newly unemployed, now is not the time to take the three-month vacation you’ve accumulated during the tenure of your previous job. This will put you behind the eight-ball in terms of getting into the job search and showing a gap on your resume.

3. Dive into your job search with gusto

Now that your break is over, it’s time to put a concerted effort into your job search. Determine how you’re going to conduct your job search. Make a plan or have someone help you create a sound plan for your search. Many job seekers make the mistake of searching for work online as their only means.

The methods of searching for work that are most successful from best to worst are: face-to-face networking, attending professional affiliations, utilizing a recruiter or staffing agency, combining LinkedIn with face-to-face networking, and using job boards. You don’t have to use all of these methods, as you don’t want to spread yourself thin.

4. Let others know you’re out of work

As simple as this sounds, plenty of job seekers are reluctant to tell their friends, neighbors, relative, former colleagues, etc., that they’re out of work. Not only should you not feel embarrassed, you are missing opportunities to network. (This is discussed in the prequel.)

Most people understand that people sometimes lose their job. It’s likely they have also lost their job. It’s a known fact that people want to help you, so let them.

5. Be good to yourself

You’ve heard of work/life balance. I believe there’s also job-search/life balance. In other words, don’t burn out during your job search. In a recent job club meeting, I asked the members what they did during the Christmas holiday. Many of them talked about making connections with valuable recruiters.

But the ones who also impressed me were the ones who said they took some time off to decompress, sprinkled in with some job searching activities. You must remember that your unemployment is temporary, and during this time there are other important aspects of your life.

6. Don’t play the numbers game

At times I have to remind job seekers of this destructive practice, where they will say, “In a month I’ll have been out of work for more than a year.” Obsessing over the time you’ve been out of work will hurt your morale and, therefore, your job search.

You may reach the point where you’ve been out of work longer than six months, so you’ll need the assistance of people more and more. Some people you’ve relied on for help may have fallen of the face of the earth. Reconnect with them in a casual way, while also reminding them you’re still looking for work.


Now read the the prequel to this post.