Self-promotion is necessary in childhood and adulthood

kidz playing basketballI’m not worried about my son.

My son is in his second year of playing basketball. He’s quite good, for someone who just started playing, and talks a lot of trash. He’s usually the shortest kid on the court, but he’s fast and dives on the ground like Larry Bird used to.

All the parents get a kick out of watching him play. (One parent once asked me before a game how many times I thought he’d fall to the floor.)

The thing that makes going to his games fun for me is the conversations he and I have driving to and from the games. “Dad,” he’ll say, “how many buckets do you think I’ll get?”

“Four,” I’ll pick a number out of the air.

“How many steals and assists?”

“Four each.”

Wouldn’t you know it, he scores 10 points; steals a ton of balls from the slower, less interested kids; and passes the ball to four of his teammates who don’t know what to do with the a basketball.

I’m worried about my daughter.

My daughter is an excellent soccer player. She plays in the backfield and loves stripping the soccer ball from oncoming forwards. And she’ll take out anyone who comes near her, despite her rail-thin body type. I’ve witnessed her lay a tackle on girls twice her size, the collisions reminiscent of a train wreck.

The conversation she and I will have before a game is quiet like two hummingbirds. Occasionally she’ll ask me after a game what I thought of her performance, and I’ll use the old sandwich technique—compliment her on a crushing tackle, criticize her for letting a girl slip behind her, and finish by telling her she passed the ball well. These are great conversations between a dad and his daughter.

My daughter has been reserved and humble since she first started playing soccer. When she first stepped on the field, she was about the age my son is now, so I can gauge the differences between the two fairly accurately. It’s fair to say that my son promotes his skills more than my daughter does. Now, I didn’t say better. I said more.

It would be shallow of me to worry about who is the better athlete, my son or my daughter—and I’d be a fool to declare whom I think holds the title. No, I’m worried about my daughter’s ability to promote her accomplishments, particularly later in life when it really matters.

I also worry about my customers.

In the job search it’s all about marketing yourself—on your résumé and in your cover letter, while you’re networking, on the phone, and at the interview. It’s all about accomplishments and it’s all about using them in context. The written and verbal communications skills have to be in place—one is not exclusive of the other.

Recently a customer related a story at one of my Personal Commercial workshops about how she had mobilized nearly a whole city to promote the arrival of a professional wrestler. She had no budget with which to work, yet she was able to barter with a marble sign company to create a welcome sign for Cold Stone Austin; and she persuaded the city to rename a street for “Cold Stone.”

The event, as she described it, was a smashing success. Her enthusiasm in describing the event was similar to how my son talks about his basketball prowess; not how my daughter reluctantly talks about her soccer game.

My customer succeeded on the verbal front but not in her written campaign. Following the workshop, she asked me to review her revised résumé. I expected to read about her coordination, management, persuasion, creativity, and a whole slew of other skills that made the Steve Austin event an outstanding accomplishment.

While the story she told at my workshop was captivating and her enthusiasm was contagious, her résumé didn’t hint to any of her strong skills. She was unable to tie her strong verbal and written communications skills into the full package necessary to market herself effectively.

I would tell you about the time my customer had to coordinate the flushing of an entire sports center’s toilets, but that would be too long a story.

Will my daughter be able to promote herself in her written and verbal communications, or will she wait for someone to drag all of her strong accomplishments out of her? Will she express her accomplishments, or fail to express her accomplishments, in the whole package? Perhaps I worry too much.

Job search experts, 7 tips for networking

students networkingOne of my LinkedIn connections, Rich Grant, ponders the question, “Why do college seniors have a hard time networking?” In an outstanding article, Teaching Networking and Professionalism to College Students, he writes: “I’m not speaking out of line, or disclosing any deep secrets, when I say that, generally speaking, college students and recent graduates are not adept at face-to-face networking.”

My observations of jobseekers in age groups older than college students, and as high as mature workers, is similar to the sentiment Rich expresses; networking doesn’t come natural to many people. After pondering the reasons why networking is such a task for students, he provides seven sound tips to help people network.

Read the article in its entirety to learn Rich’s excellent tips:

  1. Define “networking” before you name it.
  2. Recommend they start with the people they know.
  3. Practice makes perfect.
  4. Show, don’t tell.
  5. Provide opportunities for students to build confidence in speaking.
  6. Watch for outside events where the topic of networking is being addressed.
  7. Connect with experts to support your efforts.

If you are a college career advisor, job coach, or a job-search advisor at any level; following Rich’s advice can help you guide your jobseekers to better network. Read Teaching Networking and Professionalism to College Students realizing that this advice applies to all age groups, not just college students.

Why are jobseekers and recruiters/employers disconnected?

disconnectedI have been accused of being disconnected from my family. For example, with Easter approaching, I should’ve known that it’s a gift-giving holiday, when the girls will receive $100 Sperrys and my son a massive amount of candy, which will amount to a large dentist bill. How could I have forgotten?

This is a trivial matter compared to how disconnected jobseekers and recruiters/employers are when it comes to LinkedIn’s role in the hiring process. It makes me wonder if jobseekers are aware of how recruiters/employers value LinkedIn as a tool to find talent. The two parties aren’t on the same page.

An infographic published on The Undercover Recruiter paints a pretty telling picture of the importance recruiters et  al place on LinkedIn in finding candidates, while it also shows that  jobseekers seemingly place little importance on using LinkedIn.

Facts from the infographic show

Recruiters

Jobseekers

  • 48% of recruiters post jobs on LinkedIn and nowhere else on social media
  • 73% of recruiters filled a position using social media in 2012, a 15% increase from 2011

 

  • 50.5%: The percentage of LinkedIn users who have complete profiles

 

  • 89% of recruiters have filled a position using LinkedIn at some point in time

 

  • 0-2 hours: The amount of time per week most users spend on LinkedIn

 

  • 97% of all HR and staffing professionals use LinkedIn in their recruiting efforts

The reasons vary as to why jobseekers fail to utilize the very tool that recruiters/employers are increasingly relying on to find them. It may be that LinkedIn is difficult for some to master. Only 50.5% of LinkedIn users have a complete profile. Some of my customers complain about basic things like downloading a photo, remembering their password, how to connect with other members or the Jobs feature, etc.

Some may find it impinges on the numerous hours they spend on the job boards. Sadly, the average time spent using LinkedIn is a mere two hours a week. Good gosh, I spend two hours a day on LinkedIn. Can they give up half an hour a day? Fifteen minutes?

Others may wonder if LinkedIn actually works. There have been no cold facts on the success rate jobseekers have had at finding work directly or indirectly by using LinkedIn. We have heard that personal networking garners anywhere from 60-80% success if used as the primary job method, but some people will only believe it when they see it.

There are jobseekers I consider to be experimenters–they join LinkedIn because they’ve heard how it will help them get a job, only to abandon the application after a day or two of looking for immediate gratification. To these folks, I tell them to kindly close their account and not muck up the work for the rest of us.

Whatever reasons there are for recruiters and jobseekers being so disconnected, it is obviously clear that the two entities are fishing at different lakes. Recruiters will never reveal where the fish are; and I fear I will never understand that Easter is a gift-giving holiday.

Can’t we all get along?

Some of my customers, not all, for the most part think recruiters—internal and third-party alike—are unfair and the reason for their failure to get a job. They think recruiters are only concerned with two things: 1) determining if my customers meet 10 out of 10 requirements and 2) want them to work for peanuts. I know this is not necessarily true, I know that recruiters have a job to do, which is to find what the employer wants. This is how recruiters get paid.

I’ve read some pretty good articles on things that tick recruiters off. There was one from the annoyed recruiter who wrote about how lazy some jobseekers are, like they don’t return her calls when all she’s trying to do is match jobseekers up with her companies. Danielle Powers essentially took jobseekers to task for poor communications. I wrote a response entitled Response to the Frustrated Recruiter Lady to her scathing article.

Most recently Mark Bregman wrote an article entitled Don’t get De-Selected, in which he talks about faux pas jobseekers want to avoid at an interview; six in fact. All common sense to me. And I warn my jobseekers about mistakes to avoid; that’s all I can do. I believe Mark Bregman when he says talking too much or asking too many questions is bad practice. Hell, I hate it when people talk too much.

You see, I agree with how recruiters wish things were, like jobseekers would communicate better and show initiative and think at interviews. I also agree with jobseekers on how they wish things were, like recruiters would return their phone calls—to which recruiters are probably thinking, “Be real, Career Trainer Guy. How can we return tons of telephone calls, and do we want to listen to people whine?”

Another point of contention for my jobseekers is how recruiters start the phone conversation by asking what salary they made at their last job or what is their minimum salary requirement. Between you and me, it’s better to be sure both parties are on the same page, rather than waste time interviewing only to find out they’re so far apart.

Another complaint I hear is, “Don’t mess with my résumé; I spent a lot of time and money having it written.” I know recruiters’ response to this is, “Here’s the thing, Mr. jobseeker, you may have had it written by a professional résumé writer, but my customer (the company) wants to see specific qualifications, even if they go back 20 years.” Hey, I get this; recruiters know what employers want to see on a résumé.

But this isn’t an entry on defending jobseekers or bashing recruiters, because I realize recruiters are under a lot of pressure, pressure to place polygons into polygonal holes, not square ones. I know you gals and guys make a lot of phone calls and listen to some BS now and then, like, “My experience at XYZ Company makes me ideal for the Marketing Directors position.” Even if Ms. Jobseeker’s experience is that of a Marketing Specialist but the President of the 25-employee company allowed her to use on her résumé any title she desired.

What’s the solution? How can we get jobseekers and recruiters to play nice? I suppose the answer is getting both sides to be realistic about the system and the roles each play. I, for one, will try to get the message across to my customers and recruiters. Until then business will go on as usual.