Tag Archives: job search

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

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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.

3 reasons why your Articles & Activity section is important

When reviewing a client’s LinkedIn profile, I look at the typical sections: Summary, Experience, Educations, Skills, Volunteer, etc. I also look at one section of their profile that is very telling. Can you guess?

linkedin-alone

To stop the suspense, I’ll tell you. I look at their Articles & Activity section. I can tell from looking at this section whether they’ve been good or bad. More to the point, whether they’ve been engaging with their network, or simply spending very little time on LinkedIn. Below is an image of a profile of that has no Article & Activities section.

No Activity

This section lies between the Summary and Experience sections. What you see above tells you that this person has been dormant on LinkedIn. Here is a look at my Articles & Activity section.

Articles and activities

Showing engagement on LinkedIn will 1) encourage potential connections to invite you to their network, 2) impress recruiters with your knowledge and expertise, and 3) show you’re better than the average LinkedIn user.

Keep visitors on your site

I am reluctant to visit and continue to read someone’s profile if I see no pulse. Am I necessarily concerned if the person doesn’t have any of their own articles to share? Not really. I realize some, or most, people don’t want to publish their original ideas.

According to one source, “only 1 million professionals have published post on LinkedIn.”

However, if I don’t at least see engagement, I know the person is not serious about LinkedIn. I’m not the only person who spends attention to my clients’ Articles & Activity section. Hiring authorities are also paying attention.

Impress recruiters with your knowledge

Close to 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent, so the more time they spend on your profile, the better. True they want to see your titles, employment history, years of employment, and education. This said, recruiters also want to see your activity because it tells them if you:

  • like or comment on articles you find of value to your network;
  • write original thoughts or ask illuminating questions;
  • share a insightful, tasteful quotes;
  • announce certifications you earned;
  • contribute to a growing discussion; or
  • post videos that are relevant to you occupation and industry.

These are merely a few examples of what a potential candidate could show as activities. I go into greater detail in a post on how to optimize your engagement on LinkedIn. I discuss the difference between being active and engaging.

For example, when you comment on someone’s post, it’s not enough to write, “Great post, Sarah. Thanks for sharing.” Instead explain why you enjoyed the post and, perhaps, politely write about what you disagreed with. In other words, put real thought into comments you share.

I strongly suggest that you write articles to share on LinkedIn, as this will show recruiters your expertise in your industry. I tell my clients that they’re still “experts” in their field. Being out of work doesn’t change that.

However, I understand the time, effort, and courage it takes to put yourself out there.

Show you’re better than most LinkedIn users

The source I cited above also claims that “an average user spends 17 minutes monthly on LinkedIn.” That’s pitiful. LinkedIn has the potential to increase your chances of getting a job significantly, but only if you put effort into your LinkedIn campaign.

This means more than optimizing your profile by filling out all selections and employing keywords. You also have to develop a focused network and engage with your connections, which will be apparent by looking at your Articles & Activity section.

You should be using LinkedIn at least four days a week, half an hour a day. Does this sound like a lot of time? Divide your day in two; spend 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night. But don’t just go to LinkedIn’s Jobs feature and look for jobs; practice some of the ways you can engage mentioned above.


Four days is the minimum amount of time I recommend to my clients. Ideally you should be using LinkedIn daily, maybe taking a day off during the week. What’s important is that your Articles & Activity section shows quality engagement, and hopefully articles that demonstrate your area of expertise.

The plight of the long-term unemployed; how to overcome it: part 1

Most of the people I know have been unemployed at one point in their life. There’s a sense of despair that comes with losing one’s source of income. Perhaps more devastating is the emotional turmoil that comes with unemployment, which can include a combination of feelings, such as sadness, anger, self-doubt, fear, isolation, hopelessness, even depression.

unemployed

A special category of unemployment identifies people who’ve been out of work for 27 weeks or more. They’re referred to as long-term unemployed (LTU). The LTU experience the aforementioned symptoms at a more heightened level. I know this, because many of my clients are at this stage, some for a year or more.

According to the latest Labor of Bureau of Statistics (LBS) report, the unemployment rate in October, 2018, for individuals out of work 15-26 weeks was 14 percent of all people out of work. For individuals unemployed 27 weeks and more it was almost doubled at 22.5 percent.

But this doesn’t tell the whole story. The “real unemployment rate” or U-6 is a more accurate assessment of people who are out of work. It says that if the employment rate is 4%, for instance, the accurate amount of people out of work is more than double that. People who are no longer receiving unemployment benefits are counted among the U-6 rate, among others.

Struggles of the long-term unemployed

Ofer Sharone is a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His research focuses on career transitions, work and unemployment. He is also the founder of the Institute of Career Transition (ICT) at the Sloan School of Management, MIT, which focuses on helping individuals traverse the road of long-term unemployment.

Sharone conducted interviews of the LTU. Following are the concerns of the people Sharone interviewed.

One person Sharone interviewed, Arnold, described the job search as a black hole, where he would send his applications to employers and never hear from them. This is not uncommon with the LTU who want to hear something from employers, even if it’s a rejection.

Sharone explains, “This void leaves it up to job seekers to interpret the reasons for their labor market difficulties, which frequently results in highly individualized accounts.”

Deborah talked about the loss of identity: “. . . This is a fairly major yardstick that we all put against ourselves, our employment. We define ourselves partly by what we do. Right now I’ve had the rug pulled out from under me in terms of how I identify myself…”

Most people who lose their job feel embarrassed, humiliated, and ashamed as Ruth, stated: “I don’t want to contact people, my friends. I’m embarrassed. I’m humiliated. I feel like a loser. And I don’t want to call anyone, I just don’t want to talk to anybody.”

In writing this post, I reached out to six people, asking them to describe their experience of being unemployed for longer than a year. Two people responded. I imagined the other four people didn’t respond because they didn’t want to relive their experience, not because they didn’t have the time.

One person who contributed, Doug, expressed: “I get my strength and rejuvenation from helping others. During this period [of unemployment], I was the one that needed help and support.  It was new to me and hard to accept. I would be lying if I said I never got down or discouraged. You don’t necessarily want a ‘pity party,’ but sometimes you just want to be left alone to let your thoughts and emotions marinate.”

Another person, David, wrote: If I can capture my feelings in simple words they would be despair, desperation, and disbelief. Despair at having to draw down savings and even my 401K to survive. Desperation at watching my retirement vanish. And disbelief that a skilled person with years of experience and strong accomplishments was passed over time and again.”

Many believe there is a correlation between age and long-term unemployment. David wrote: “I suspect ageism played a role, as did the bias many hiring managers have for people who are out of work. Despite the deep crash starting in 2007, too many employers still believe that if you have no job, especially if you’ve not had one for a while, there must be something wrong with you.” I believe David is correct on all counts.


Next read about solutions on how to overcome long-term unemployment.

This post originally appeared on Jobscan’s blog.

It’s okay to connect with strangers on LinkedIn

“That’s weird. I can’t connect with strangers,” my daughter said. “Look, I’m at a coffee shop. I gotta go.” And then there was phone silence.

Networking2

This is three days after she made me proud by joining LinkedIn; I imagine because her career advisor suggested she should. So, more than a post addressed at my daughter; I’m reaching out to the college career advisor who suggested my daughter join LinkedIn.

First, I need to say, “Thank you very much.” And, second, you also should tell my daughter that it’s okay to connect with strangers on LinkedIn. It’s not “weird.”

Let me amend this statement. It’s okay to connect with the right strangers.

I get the same skepticism—which my daughter conveyed—from my older clients, but in different words. They tell me they feel “uncomfortable” asking people to join their paltry network of 80 LinkedIn members.

The short answer I give them is the idea of being on LinkedIn is to develop a network and to use it to gain assistance, as well as help others.

Then they’ll ask me, in effect, why anyone would want to connect with them. To answer their question, I explain that the power of LinkedIn is joining like-minded people. Regardless of the employment situation, my clients are still part of the workforce.

Still reluctant to connect with LinkedIn members?

I tell my clients that they should imagine themselves at an in-person networking event. They’re there because they want to meet people who can provide advice and, perhaps, information that could lead to their next gig.

Then I say there are two scenarios. The first is that they speak to as many people they feel comfortable with. They have a great time getting to know these people; it’s liberating. They’ll develop relationships with some of them; with others they won’t.

The second scenario is somewhat different. Instead of deciding to meet new people, they stand in a corner of the room and wait for people to approach them. As well, they put their heads down avoiding making eye contact. They will not develop relationships with any of them.

There are rules, though

1. Chose the right people to connect with

This is one of the rules I preach often. Know who your students will benefit from, and how they can help their new connections. Stress it’s a two-way street.

The first people your students should invite to their network are their classmates, people who are studying the same major. Engineering majors connect with engineering majors, English Lit. majors connect with English Lit. majors and so on.

Next they should connect with other majors. Bio Chemistry majors can connect with Physic majors. Psychology majors may want to be really crazy and connect with Math majors.

Next connect with students at other schools. Tell them to send invites to students at local schools, at first. There are many schools in the Boston area, so an Early Childhood Education major could connect with the like at other universities in the area.

The huge victories are connecting with the alumni of their school. These are the people who are able to help your students when they graduate from university. A business major needs to reach out to higher level employed alumni, announcing themselves as college students who would like to join their network. The best LinkedIn tool for finding alumni is “See Alumni.

This tool allows students to search for their classmates and alumni by these classifications:

  • What they are skilled at
  • What they studied
  • What they do
  • Where they work
  • Where they live

2. Know how invite LinkedIn users to their network

Students can’t just click the connect button on the profile of the intended connection, and then hit “Send Now.” Instead they must send a personalized invite. Many students probably wonder what they should write in their invite.

Have them write a generic message or two or three that fit the situation. Here are a few they can store on their desktop and modify to fit the situation.


To classmates

Hi (name). I’ve just joined LinkedIn and because we’re in the same major, would like to add you to my network. Perhaps we can learn from each other how to navigate this valuable platform.

(Student’s name)


To professors

Dear (Professor’s name)

I enjoy/ed your class and learned a great deal about (topic). I hope you don’t find this too bold, but I would like to connect with you on LinkedIn so we can stay in touch with each other. By the way, I encourage my classmates to take your class. That’s how much I enjoy/ed it.

(Student’s name)


To alumni

Dear (Name)

I’m a student at (school) and am starting to build my network. I see that you studied the same topic that I did. One of my objectives is to create focused online relationships. I understand how busy you must be. It would be great to connect and help each other when the time arises.

By the way, you and my mother worked at Dell at the same time. She’s working at IBM now.

(Student name)

3. Follow up with their new connections

What separates people who know how to use LinkedIn and those who don’t is following up with their connections. Students can’t simply invite someone to their network and leave it at that. After sending the proper invite, and being accepted, students should send a short note thanking their new connection for accepting their invite. This can facilitate more conversation.

I warn against accepting any invitation. If a student gets the “weird” feeling, it is not an invite to accept. I haven’t discussed this step with my daughter yet, but I’ll make sure that the stranger and she have a commonality, such as they are studying the same major, or have the same career goal, or simply attend the same school.


Really our jobs are not much different, dear college career advisor. We both have to help our clients get over the “weird” feeling of connecting with strangers. Tell them that other LinkedIn members are on the platform to meet people like our clients. Also tell them they should reach out to like-minded people, and that there are rules. College students understand rules.

The sport of the job search: 3 types of job seekers

This past summer I saw my son’s basketball team lose a close playoff game. I noticed a mixture of emotions. Some of the players, including my son, played hard until the final whistle blew. Others gave up the game when the other team began to dominate. And some demonstrated a downright negative attitude, including fouling out of frustration.

basketball hoop

The team could have won if they had more confidence and stayed the course. But they didn’t stay the course and unite as one. It was interesting to see the clear distinction of attitudes between the players. I witness the same attitudes in some job seekers.

Some job seekers don’t give up

These are the people who are a pleasure to assist. They wear a smile on their face, despite how they’re feeling inside. They don’t hear back from employers after working hours on their résumé and cover letter. They make it through three rounds of interviews only to lose out in the end to someone who was a “better fit.” Despite this, they trudge on.

One job seeker I helped, when I started delivering workshops, would ping me on his progress. “Bob, I had a great interview today. I have a few coming up this week. Ciao.” Then, “Hola, didn’t make the final cut. Better luck with the next interviews.”

When he finally landed, I asked him how he felt during his job search. Not surprisingly he told me there were times when he felt despair and wondered if he would ever land a job.

He was so grateful for the services I and others offered him at the career center that he speaks to our networking group when I ask him. He also let’s us know when there are openings at the company for which he works. This is the true nature of networking.

Some job seekers throw in the towel

It shows on their face. They say they’ll never land a position. They lose sight of the bigger picture. Like my son’s teammates during the game, they walk through their job search rather than run. Their despondency is understandable, but they don’t see it hurting their chances of landing.

They lose confidence. They make excuses like, “It’s my age.” I’m not naive enough to believe that ageism doesn’t exist; however, I believe if you adopt that attitude immediately, you’ve already lost the game. Hopelessness settles in.

When employers see your lack of confidence, they wonder if you’ll demonstrate confidence on the job. Similarly when people with whom you network see your lack of confidence, they’ll wonder if they should back you as a reference.

This was not the case when I recently acted as a reference for a woman who had been out of work for more than two years. I loved her “can do” attitude so was glad to speak to her personality. She landed a job based on her rich experience and, I’m sure, her attitude.

Some job seekers let their anger show

As soon as I saw my son’s teammates get angry, I knew “that’s all she wrote.” There was no chance they could regain their composure. The other team noticed this, and I’m sure it boosted their confidence. I wondered if I were coaching if I could reign them in. I concluded I couldn’t. It was in their personality makeup.

I see anger in few of my clients. It may be a workshop or during a one-on-one appointment. When I see their anger, I’ll tell them their anger is written on their face. They’ll deny being angry, but it’s so apparent that there’s no denying it.

I understand they are angry; I was angry at times during my job search. However, I tried hard not to let it show in public. Public anger might be witnessed by people who have the authority to hire you or know someone who has the authority to hire you.

Job seekers who let their anger show don’t think others notice it. After one workshop a recruiter who was between jobs approached me and said, “You know, I’ll eventually find a job in recruiting, and I’m going to remember the people in this workshop who are angry. They’re not the ones I’d present to my client.”


The job search is like sports. Moreover, how you handle yourself during this time of transition can be more important than your technical expertise. Don’t give up and don’t show your anger; your job search will be longer if you do either or both.

This post originally appeared in Recruiter.com.

Photo: Flickr, Sar_Proc_