It comes as no surprise that networking is the toughest component of the job search. This is according to a poll I conducted on LinkedIn. The other poll options were interviewing, writing resumes, and interacting with recruiters.
What the results reveal is that oral communications is most difficult for job seekers. Clearly networking and interviewing require one to express their value, both in technical and soft skills. But writing a resume and communicating with a recruiter in writing also require the ability for one to express their skills.
Nonetheless, when the rubber meets the road, it’s the ability to interact with fellow networkers and interviewers that brings home the banner. Is this an extravert/introvert thing? Not necessarily.
Although, it’s believed that introverts are the better of the two at writing, and extraverts excel in oral communication. (One fault of the survey was not specifying that interacting with recruiters means doing it in writing.) Regardless, I think we can all agree that networking and interviewing are tough.
With networking comes the realization that results aren’t immediate. It’s about building relationships and being willing to give, as well as take. This is tough for someone who is trying to secure a job to comprehend. Sure, networking while working is also hard to do, but for many the stakes aren’t as high.
Take this scenario: you’re at a large networking event where it resembles herding cattle. The first person you approach is ready to deliver their elevator pitch. She stuns you with her elevator pitch, but you are not practiced at delivering yours, rendering you speechless.
This statement is easier said than done for many job seekers I come across, who see a networking event as “What’s in it for me?” With this attitude, their efforts are fruitless. Other people in the room or on a Zoom call can smell this a mile away and will reject said person.
If you’re the exception to the rule, you’ll be much more successful in your networking efforts. You realize that immediately asking for help from the first person you meet is the wrong way to approach networking. As mentioned earlier, this is a slow process that might begin before you start looking for work.
Do you remember the first time you interviewed? Chances are you arrived to the interview unprepared. You didn’t research the position and company as extensively as you should have and, therefore, had a difficult time answering the questions.
Or perhaps you did fine.
Orlando Haynes, asserts that most job seekers find the toughest component of the job search is interviewing:
Is this easier said than done? There are job seekers who will put in the time researching the position and company, but how many will spend time developing strong interview skills? Be honest with yourself. Are you anticipating the questions that will be asked, writing them down, and practicing answering them?
I recall one job seeker who took the time doing this. But she wrote down typical interview questions and the answers to them; not specific job-related questions. The thought of doing this is probably the reason why interviewing came in second as the toughest component of the job search.
Teegan Bartos writes that job seekers might be more confident in their interviewing ability than they should:
I concur with this assessment. Interviewing is tough. There’s a lot riding on the interview. These days, the interview process can involve multiple meetings via phone, video, in-person, and presentations. We’ve all heard of candidates who went through as many as 11 interviews (Jack Kelly wrote a popular post on this topic).
Writing a resume
To a person an executive resume writer would say writing a resume is difficult, but most (the good ones at least) would say it’s not the most difficult component of the job search. This aligns with the results of the poll, where this component ranked third as the toughest job-search component.
Laura Smith-Proulx agrees and writes:
But to say writing a resume is easy would be ridiculous. I’ve come across resumes from executives that are full of fluff or are overly technical and, basically, show no value. This is how some people think:
I’m dynamic, therefore I am, or
I’ve used every software language under the sun, so I need to list them, or
I have to list every duty I’ve performed because this will impress the employer, or
All of the above.
Another misconception is that the job search starts with the resume. This is understandable, as the resume is an important document that is required by all employers. But in order to write a solid resume, a job seekers needs to know what the employer’s pain point is. Ergo, networking.
Communicating with recruiters
This poll was born because of a guest speaker event, where I interviewed a recruiter named Marisol Maloney. The guest speaker event was a result of a post she wrote on how to reach out to a recruiter.
As I mentioned earlier, reaching out to a recruiter is usually done in writing, which can happen via email or LinkedIn messaging. So this is probably why this option came in dead last as the toughest component of the job search.
The writing approach is more passive than communicating with recruiters via phone or in person. Angela Watts points out that, “at a certain point, the Recruiter is going to want to have a conversation.” This is a valid point.
Back to reaching out to a recruiter via writing: Marisol Maloney gives the following account as an improper way to contact a recruiter:
The mistake many job seekers make is assuming that a recruiter works for them, when it’s quite the opposite. Marisol suggest the following as better verbiage to use:
Of course once a conversation is started with email or LinkedIn direct messaging, it must continue via phone or in person. Perhaps the reason this option ranked last is because not everyone communicates with recruiters.
Nonetheless, the other three options: networking, interviewing, and writing a resume are tough aspects of the job search. More than a few people commented that all four components stump them. I understand their frustration.
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Common wisdom tells us that only using one job-search method isn’t wise. For example, only applying online or only networking. Using these methods alone will garner a poor result for your job search.
A poll I’m conducting—it’s four days old—reveals that a combination of applying online and networking is the best way to land a job. The results show that 14% believe only applying online is the best way to go, 19% feel only networking is the key, and 67% concur that using both methods is ideal.
Applying online only
Let’s look at the first scenario, where a job seeker only searches online for positions. Sites like Indeed.com, LinkedIn.com, CareerBuilder.com Monster.com, and the like entice the job seeker because the process is easy, albeit statistically unsuccessful.
Our job seeker discovers the wonder of creating a resume on Indeed using the job board’s template. In addition, he’s asked if there are certain skills he possess that should be on his Indeed resume. He can even take tests to determine his proficiency in certain areas of expertise.
Once this is accomplished he can select whether to make his resume public. He chooses to make it public and believes that his Indeed resume will be searched for by hiring authorities. This part of applying online is done.
Everyday he is notified of jobs that “meet his qualifications,” but often this is not the case. Approximately 95% of what he receives in his inbox are garbage; they are far from what he’s looking for. The ones that meet his qualifications are seen by thousands of other job seekers.
To be more proactive, our job seeker goes on the aforementioned sites, believing that the more online jobs he applies for, the better chance he’ll have of landing a job. The hiring authorities will be calling him for interviews; all he has to do is wait. Over the course of a year, he’ll apply for more than 200 jobs.
Job-search pundits have shouted from the rooftops that networking is the best way to find a job, and they’re probably right. But to use it alone; how would this look? Here’s how it would look.
Our job seeker identifies 10-15 companies for which he’d like to work.
He researches those companies to see if they’re worth pursuing. The list is a live document, as some companies are performing poorly and have to be replaced by other companies.
Then he reaches out to people at his desired companies with LinkedIn Inmail, or if he doesn’t have a premium account, he requests to connect. A good number of them, including recruiters, decide to connect with him.
He DMs them multiple times over the course of five months. They, in turn, corresponds with him. He’s building relationships.
When he feels like the relationships have nurtured, he reaches out to his connections and asks for a telephone conversation or even an in-person meeting.
Slowly and methodically he builds foundations at his desired companies.
Periodically he pings his bona fide connections asking if positions he is pursuing are developing in their companies. He can do this because their relationships are strong.
And if he is really good, he’ll write proposals that address the companies’ pain points, which he knows about because he has had networking meetings.
Sound like a lot of work? Hell yes. Worth it? Hell yes. Our job seeker might not land a job doing this with eight of his 15 companies, but he’s developing relationships that can be life lasting; relationships he can leverage when time arises. Or, he could land a job at one of his 15 targeted companies by following this plan.
What people see as networking is often a different picture. They see attending large networking groups (via video platforms for now) where it seems that no one knows each other. This is probably what the people who voted in the poll for networking only imagine networking to be.
Consider networking as a living organism that nurtures in time or suddenly results in opportunities through superficial contacts. It’s important to have a strategy when networking, such as described above, but networking is more than slowly building relationships.
Applying online and networking
I’ll repeat that, “Networking is more than slowly building relationships.” I explain to my clients that networking happens in many different forms. Networking before and after applying online are two forms. Networking one’s way into a position without applying is also possible, usually with higher-level candidates.
Our job seeker discovers through applying online and networking that his job search becomes more successful. He doesn’t use the “spray and pray method.” Rather, he carefully selects the jobs he sees on the job boards—or hears about before they’re advertised—and writes resumes that are tailored to those jobs.
He identifies who the decision makers are and delivers his resume to them along with applying online. Knowing that the company has a strict process that requires online applications be sent through HR, he complies.
Perhaps the decision makers will read his tailored resume before receiving his applications, perhaps not. But at least his presence is felt. In one particular instance, a person from the hiring committee tells him that she’s received his resume, and instructs him to follow through with the process.
Our job seeker also contacts someone he knows in the company to tell her that he’s applied for the position. He asks her if she would put in a “good word” for him. She’s a stand-up person and agrees to meet his request. At this point he has all bases covered.
By using a combination of networking, applying online, and networking some more, our job seeker lands a position of his dreams. Does it always work this way? No, networking happens in different forms.
What some career-search professionals say
To answer the poll question–Which way do you lean when it comes to networking or applying online?—it’s well worth hearing from some people who are in the business of helping job seekers.
You’ve read the three scenarios of our job seeker, so it’s not by design that I include quotes that only support of the third option. To a person, no one who for the first and second options, wrote their opinion on this matter. Could this be that there is no other option than the third?
Hannah Morgan: I don’t think it is one vs the other. It is both. A better question to ask is do you network BEFORE a job opportunity is posted or AFTER. My answer would be both. However, when will the hiring manager have more time to have a conversation? BEFORE there’s an opportunity posted. So that’s why proactively targeting companies and people BEFORE a job is available is a recommended strategy.
Laura Smith-Proulx, Executive Resumes, CCMC, CPRW, NCOPE: Many of my executive clients work diligently at both of these #executivejobsearch tasks. It’s interesting that you posted this question, because when recruiting was a bit slower, networking paid off more quickly. Now that competition for top candidates is more fierce, I’ve seen postings for what were typically more elusive C-suite opportunities. My husband just landed a prime opportunity solely through networking – but that’s his forte. Well-networked candidates (those typically not lured by postings) are now telling me they’re intrigued by throwing their hat in the ring for an advertised job.
Virginia Franco: Aim to NOT make applying online your first point of entry and focus 90% of your time on outreach, networking, etc. IF/WHEN you see a job that seems like an ideal fit, however, then indeed apply and follow the steps you outlined.
Thomas POWNER ➜ CPRW ➜ CEIP ➜ CCMC ➜ NCOPE ➜ CDCC (He/Him): Combination is the best action. As a third-party recruiter, I typically won’t speak to a candidate for a job that has an online posting until they apply. That being said, networking in combination will most likely get your LinkedIn and resume reviewed quickest.
Adrienne Tom: I just shared a post this past weekend about my husband’s job search during the pandemic, which speaks to my answer to this poll. I believe in the power of BOTH online applications and networking. My husband only applied to 3 roles (over 2 months). He initially found all 3 roles online and applied online….BUT, he leveraged the power of networking and relationships to help his applications. In the one role he ultimately accepted, he established an internal champion that helped watch for his application, put in a good word for him, and provided him with key intel.
Maureen McCann, Executive Career Strategist 💎 (She/Her): Both. You can be in an active and passive job seeker simultaneously. One does not exclude the other. You can be actively working a lead on a job by networking with the CEO of the company, then out of the blue get a call-back from an application you submitted online through LinkedIn for a different job altogether.
Sonal Bahl: I advise my clients to do both. They (and I in the past) have had massive, and I mean, crazy, success with online applications. I know this isn’t what the ‘without applying online’ brigade preaches, but when one is in transition, it’s wise to avoid putting all eggs in one basket only.
Marti Konstant, MBA: Job Search Strategies are evolving. For mid-career job seekers, having some sort of connection and conversations into the organization can be augmented by applying online. Online only without the power of personal will make for a looong job search.
Jessica Sweet, CPCC, CEIP, LICSW 🇺🇦: It really has to be both. In addition, you need to work to catch the eye of prospective employers, through a great LinkedIn profile, and hopefully also a content strategy that showcases your thought leadership in your space.
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You’re unemployed and wondering why you’re not landing a job as fast as you’d like. You’re hearing there are plenty of jobs out there and wondering why you haven’t been contacted by employers. After all, you’re a great fit for all the jobs you’ve applied for.
We’re in the midst of the Great Resignation and employers are working with a skeleton crew. Yet, they aren’t hiring candidates fast enough. What gives? Here’s the issue: they’re scared. More accurately, they’re afraid of hiring the wrong candidate and then having to do it all over again.
It costs employers a significant amount of money to replace an employee. SHRM estimates it can cost 50%-60% of an employee’s annual salary to bring someone onboard which can include recruiting, interview, training, and other administrative costs.
Knowing this probably doesn’t make you feel better about being unemployed. However, you can take solace in knowing you’re not alone. “But the unemployment rate is low. They say there are jobs out there.” you protest.
True, the unemployment rate is hovering around 4% and there are jobs out there, but it’s obvious that employers need your help with speeding up the process. To help employers make their decision to hire you easier, you need to understand what you might be doing wrong and make adjustments to correct your mistakes.
Here are nine mistakes you might be making and solutions to correct them:
1. Your job search lacks focus
If you’re saying to yourself and others that you’ll take any job, this is the root cause of your problem. Without direction, you are spinning your wheels, spreading yourself too wide.
What’s more, employers can detect job seekers who lack focus if they’re applying for multiple jobs in their company.
What to do about it: Stop applying for jobs for one day to determine exactly what you want to do. Create a spreadsheet of two or three jobs you’d consider taking. Also make a list of your strongest job-related and transferable skills. Lastly, make a list of your values that employers must meet.
Now type in the search field of the job board/s you use five of your most pertinent skills. Make note of the job titles that pop up and determine which ones are appropriate for you. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that you were a compliance officer and one of the job titles that comes up is business operator.
When you engage with people during informational meetings or other networking events, mention your five greatest areas of expertise. This will help people to better understand what you can do going forward, instead of pigeonholing you into one particular job.
You’re using job boards 100% of the time. This is a recipe for a very long job search. Some estimates put this method of looking for work as low as 3% success if used alone. I’ve heard and read accounts of job seekers who’ve submitted 600 applications with a few or no interviews as a result.
On the flip side is using networking alone as a job-search method. Career coaches will swear by networking—I’m one of them—but they don’t expect you to abandon applying online. That would be ludicrous.
What to do about it: It’s no secret that one should employ various methods to search for work. Some people even put a percentage on each method. I’m guilty of having done this.
This said, determine which plan of attack is best for you. Some methods to consider are:
Networking with other job seekers, professional associations, in the community, at your religious affiliations, friends, relatives, neighbors, basically everyone.
Connecting with recruiters in your industry.
Networking on social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Joining a buddy group.
Cruising the job boards including industry specific ones.
I’m also of the opinion that you shouldn’t spread yourself too thin. Like deciding what you want to do, you should decide what methods work best for you. For example, someone in my industry (nonprofit) would benefit in order: networking in person and online, and utilizing industry specific job boards.
3. Your resume is not written for human consumption
As of late, there has been a great deal of discussion surrounding applicant tracking systems (ATS’) and what they’re capable of doing. The misconception is that all ATS’ will automatically eliminate resumes based on lack of keywords. Thus, job seekers are writing resumes to “beat” the ATS’.
In 2022 Job candidates will heed the words of hiring authorities and write resumes that speak to the needs of the employer if they want to succeed in getting their resumes into the hands of hiring authorities, not to “beat” the ATS‘.
For candidates to earn a chance to be interviewed, their resumes must accomplish the following:
Be tailored to each job. This is huge if candidates want their resumes to demonstrate they have the qualifications for the job at hand.
Demonstrate value. Instead of writing: “Led a team of software engineers to complete 4 projects.” Write: “Saved the company $493,020 in projected salary by championing a team of 6 software engineers to complete 4 projects in 2020. The projected number of projects was 3.”
Only show 10-15 years of work history. The main reason for doing this is for showing relevant experience. The second reason is to avoid any possibility of age discrimination.
Be easy to read. No paragraphs longer than 3 lines. No bullet point statements longer than 2 lines.
The labor market offers job candidates great potential but only if their resumes are written with the employer in mind. Worry less about the ATS and more about speaking to the employer’s needs.
4. You’re not on LinkedIn or not using it
Not being on LinkedIn hurts your job search three ways: recruiters and other hiring authorities can’t find you, it hinders your networking abilities, and it tells employers that you lack the interest or technical skills to use the most popular online networking tool out there.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I have a profile, but I haven’t touched it in years.” Or, “I’m on LinkedIn but just started using it.”
Next you’ll need to build a like-minded network. The obvious people to invite to your network are former colleagues, but you’ll need to reach out to people you don’t know. These folks would include people at your target company list (mentioned below), as well as people in your industry and recruiters.
Finally, you’ll need to engage with your connections. “Out of sight, out of mind,” the saying goes. I suggest commenting, not just reacting, to what others write to start out with. Then get bolder and posting your own content or sharing articles and commenting on the articles.
5. You’re not networking
I mentioned above how networking should be part of your job-search process. In fact, I listed it at the top of of ways to search for your next job. You’re most likely stalled in your job search if networking is not part of your menu. It doesn’t have to be 100% of your job search, but it should be a good chunk of it.
What to do about it: Remember that there are different ways to network. If attending large networking groups via Zoom is not your thing, try joining smaller groups. However, the principles are the same. You must a willing participant and offer help to others in the group.
There is more than one way to network. What comes to mind for most job seekers is initiating contact with other job seekers and nurturing a relationship until a game-winning interview occurs.
This is great, but what about contacting recruiters on LinkedIn, handing your resume to a neighbor who delivers it to the hiring manager of a company for which you’d like to work, or following up with employees in the company after applying online to initiate further contact with the hiring manager?
Lastly, take your job search into your own hands. Develop a company target list of 15-30 companies. Research said companies and then send an approach letter to each company asking for an informational meeting. If your ROI is six meetings, you are closer to your next job.
I’m of the opinion that most job applicants fail in interviews because they don’t conduct research. If you’re not researching the position, company, and even the interviewers; you will most likely fail in the interview.
Another important component of interview success is practice answering question which, again, I see job seekers failing to do. They go into the interview thinking they can “wing” it. Don’t be that person.
You’ve dutifully researched the position for a project manager. Now it’s time to practice answering questions you predict will be asked in an interview. Follow these steps:
Write at least 10 anticipated questions based on your research. For example, you read in the job ad that written and oral communication is a strong requirement.
For this question, write, “Tell us about a time when your written communication was integral to the success of a major project.”
Write the answer to this question. This might seem like hard work, but if you want to blow the interviewers away you’ll do this hard work.
Practice answering questions like this in front of a mirror or with a willing networking partner. If you really want to take practicing questions to the next level, have your partner record the practice session on Zoom.
In addition to conducting research and practice answering the questions you predict will be asked, leverage your network to gather valuable information in terms of the position and company. Try to discover the pain points of the employer. Use the information you gain through networking in the interviews.
7. You’re not adapting to interviewing technology
According to Monster.com 40% of interviewing is conducted via smart phones. Gen Zs prefer this mode of interviewing because it’s easier for them; they can interview candidates anywhere and at anytime. This is one example of how interviewing has changed over time.
Even before the pandemic, interviews were conducted via video platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Teams, Facetime, and others. Personality and analytical assessments were the norm for large employers who want to hurry the process.
What to do about it: Embrace technology if you haven’t already. We won’t be returning to the “old fashion” method of in-person interviewing primarily, especially during the ongoing pandemic. You must accept this fact and take measures to correct your old ways.
Your first assignment is to create an area for interaction via video platforms. I’ll attest that proper lighting is huge in your presentation. A dark area hurts your first impression, as does sunlight washing out your face.
Poor Internet connectivity is frustrating for interviewers when they have to wait for you to connect. To make eye contact, don’t look into the interviewers’ eyes, look at the camera. These are just a few must dos for proper presentation.
It might well be a waste of time. It certainly doesn’t wave in the best candidates. Understanding this is part of the process will help you in your job search, just as accepting the idea that ATS’ are here to stay.
Not literally. You’ve prepared for interviews by researching understanding the technology, but you’re just not there. You’re not answering the tough interview questions. This is the big ball game, so bring your A game.
What to do about it: I’m brought back to a great piece Dan Roth from Amazon wrote for one of my articles. In it he advises to be prepared for the types of questions, most importantly the behavioral based ones, instead of focusing on certain ones.
Yes, you need to be prepared for the traditional ones, such as, “Why should we hire you?” There are also the situational ones, such as, “What would you do if you had to persuade your manager to agree with how you wanted to conduct a certain procedure?”
Most difficult of all are the behavioral-based questions because they require you to provide proof of what you’ve performed. These questions require a S.T.A.R. answer. Confused? Here’s what Dan writes:
“As recruiters a recruiter, I get asked all the time, “What is the hardest interview question you have ever heard?” I always pause, knowing I am not going to give them the answer they are expecting to hear.
“Instead of a specific question, my response is always, “It’s not the question that is hard. The hard part is making sure you are answering the question how the interviewer wants you to.” Roughly 90% of the time I get a quizzical look so I explain….“
Following up with the interviewers completes the interview process and demonstrates excellent customer awareness. If you think this part of the journey doesn’t matter, you’re mistaken. As many as 75% of employers take note of candidates who don’t follow up, and as many as 20% base their hiring decision based on follow up messages.
What to do about it: There are two ways you can follow up, with email or via snail mail. The former is preferred more by employers and job candidates. It’s immediate and allows you to include more in your note. One might argue that thank-you notes show your age.
When you follow up is key. Generally speaking, you don’t want to wait longer than 24 hours. If an interview takes place on a Friday, following up on Monday is acceptable.
Lastly are the elements of your thank-you note:
1. Show your gratitude. Obviously you’re going to thank the interviewers for the time they took to interview you; after all, they’re busy folks and probably don’t enjoy interviewing people.
2. Reiterate you’re the right person for the job. This is the second most obvious statement you’ll make in your follow-up notes. Mention how you have the required skills and experience and, very importantly, you have the relevant accomplishments.
3. Interesting points made at the interview. Show you were paying attention at the interview. Each person with whom you spoke mentioned something of interest, or asked a pertinent question. Impress them with your listening skills by revisiting those interesting points.
4. Do some damage control: How many candidates wish they could have elaborated on a question, or totally blew it with a weak answer? Now’s your chance to correct your answer.
5. Suggest a solution to a problem: Prior to the interview you were unaware of a problem the company is facing. Now you know about the problem. If you have a solution to this problem, mention it in your follow-up or a more extensive proposal.
To succeed in 2022 you must shuck off the bad habits you’ve developed because of lack of job search or simply because you haven’t considered better ways to look for work. Do better in gaining focus, researching, writing resumes for human consumption, networking, preparing for interviews, adapting to technology, and following up.
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It’s inevitable. When an older job seeker delivers their elevator pitch to me, they lead with something like “I have 20 years of experience in project management.” My reaction to this auspicious beginning is that it’s not…auspicious. In other words, the person’s years of experience doesn’t impress.
The same principle applies to a resume; touting years of experience in the Summary doesn’t impress a reader. It certainly doesn’t impress me. And I imagine it doesn’t impress hiring authorities, as evident by a raging poll that is only two-days old on LinkedIn.
What impresses me AND employers is what you’ve accomplished most recently, say in the last five to seven years, and that your accomplishments are relevant to the employer’s needs. In addition, because you have 20 plus years of experience doesn’t prove you’ve been productive.
Angela Watts is a former recruiter turned recruiter has this to say about showing value over years of experience:
“Years of experience in and of itself means nothing… you may have been doing a job very poorly for 20+ years. Show me the accomplishments… the pattern of success across roles and companies… your compelling value proposition for THIS open position.”
Hannah Morgan is a career coach and speaker who advises candidates to talk about relevant value and using a hook to begin the elevator pitch and the resume Summary:
This has been a pet peeve of mine since I started! It’s always about what you know how to do (problems you solve). The number of years is irrelevant. Explain the level at which you perform your job! And yes, always get them with a hook. Make it relatable!
If you ask 10 people how someone should deliver their elevator pitch or begin their resume Summary (more about the Summary below), you’ll get 10 different answers. This doesn’t mean the answers will be wrong; it simply means the components of each will vary slightly or be arranged in a different manner.
Your elevator pitch
Following is my opinion on how to deliver the elevator pitch without stating years of experience.
Instead of beginning your elevator pitch with the number of years you’ve been in occupation and industry, explain why you enjoy what you’re doing. That’s right, tell the interviewers or fellow networkers what drives you in your work. I’m tempted to say what you’re passionate about, but why not?
People like to hear and see enthusiasm. Especially employers who are hiring people for motivation and fit. Sure, technical skills matter. Employers need to know you can do the job, but your years of experience doesn’t prove you can do the job. “I have 20 years of experience” is a “So what?” statement.
Let’s look at a sample answer to “Tell me about yourself.” The following statement shows enthusiasm and draws the listener’s attention, especially with inflection in your voice:
I knew marketing communications was the route I wanted to take as soon as I realized what an impact it has stakeholders. Playing an integral role in getting the company’s message out to the public is one of my greatest pleasures, (slight rise in voice) especially when it increases awareness of our products or services.
Back it up with relevant accomplishments
This part of your elevator pitch is the most important, as you will speak to the employer’s needs. Two or three relevant accomplishments of what you’ve achieved most recently is best. But keep in mind they don’t want to hear your life story. Keep it brief, yet impactful.
(Big smile) One of my greatest accomplishments is having recently led a social media team of five who were able to increase traffic to my previous company’s website 250% since I took over. I was hired for the role because of my (slight rise in voice) leadership abilities and intimate knowledge of the platforms we used, such as: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
One of my favorite aspects of communications is writing content for press releases, whitepapers, customer success stories, newsletters, and product releases. My former boss said I was the most prolific writer he’s seen. More importantly, (slight rise in voice) I increased our organization’s visibility by 40%.
(Another slight pause)
I know you’re looking for someone who can create and conduct webinars. I have extensive experience over the past five years delivering three webinars a week on a consistent basis. These were well received by our (spread arms wide) 10s of thousands of viewers. One of my favorites was interviewing the VP once a month.
Wrap it up with energy
You’ve made it to the concluding statement. Maintain the energy that makes you the go-getter all employers want. Make them look past your age and focus on what you’ve achieved. A strong ending will set the tone for the rest of the interview. Use the word “energy.” If you say it, they’re more likely to believe it.
I’d like to end by saying that I’ve received multiple awards of recognition from my colleagues for not only the expertise I demonstrated (slight rise in voice) but also the energy I exuded. In addition, I was often told by my boss that if she could clone me she would. I will bring to your company the experience required and the energy needed to get things done.
You might be an older candidate, but by not letting interviewers to focus on your 20-years of experience and more on what you’ve accomplished, your chances of wowing them will be greater. They would if I were interviewing you.
What about the resume Summary or Value Proposition?
I propose that your Summary shows personality as well as value you’ll deliver to the employer. You might consider it a miniature elevator pitch. The example below is written in first person point of view, which gives the Value Proposition more personality.
I Identify and minimize risk by predicting the demand for products and adopting new technology with no interruption to the process.
One of my fortes is implementing strategies to speed up the processes of packing, loading and delivering products, thereby increasing customer satisfaction.
“Shannon has brought innovative supply chain strategies to (company) which made us more efficient and save cost. Our customers were extremely pleased with Shannon’s attention to their needs.” Bob Jones, VP Operations, ABC Company
The quote is not a mistake. Quotes can be very impactful because what others say about you weighs heavier that what you say about yourself, especially if it’s coming from someone as high as the VP of operations.
Selected quotes from the poll
Kevin D. Turner: Experience naturally is both Quality & Quantity but I recommend not leading with Quantity. XX Years of Experience was once a perceived value and now can be a limiter to a sizable % of those decision makers who are doing the hiring.
To many, XX years of experience, could bring up thoughts like; ‘they are set in their ways and won’t do it our way,’ ‘they have so many years of experience, we just can’t afford them,’ or ‘How will Bob with XX years of experience relate to 95% of our staff that are Millennials and Gen Z’s?” Put Quality first and let them figure out quantity.
Karen Tisdell: In Australia starting a profile with “I have 20 years experience in…” is standard. It’s also counter to our culture of mateship. 20 years implies that you are better than someone with only 2 or 5 years, and yet we all know that people don’t always have to have years of experience to be brilliant at their job.
Only recently a client of mine won an industry award and he has only been in the industry 5 years, and two of those were part-time. I dislike the ‘where’s my crown?’ implication in the 20 years rhetoric, as you say Bob McIntosh – it’s far from auspicious. It’s snooty, top-down, hierarchical.
Rich Ormond: I think that years of experience are very relevant, although certainly not the totality. If what you say is the default way of thinking, then people like me are in trouble. I’ve essentially had three careers so far — renewable energy, international aid, and now career services.
What’s more, I’ve gone back and forth between them (especially the first two). If I can only count what I’ve done in the last five to seven years, then I can never transition back to a former career.
No, if I ever decide to do so, you can be sure that I will be relying heavily on my years of experience in those fields, citing my recent years only as building complimentary skills. For those like me who do not have linear careers, listing your years of experience in a field is a must, I think.
Virginia Franco: I agree completely — your years of experience isn’t nearly as important as what you’ve done during that time. That being said, it’s confusing for job seekers because job posting usually list desired years of experience!
Meg Applegate:I wholeheartedly agree, Bob! Lead with your unique value not length of tenure. Answer the “why does this matter?” question and the WIIFM questions that hiring managers are asking when reading your resume.
LAURA SMITH-PROULX:I cannot stand to hear elevator pitches (or read resume / LinkedIn summaries) that tout XX years of experience, Bob McIntosh, because there are SO many better ways to describe oneself!
I have the unfortunate lens of having worked at an organization with longtime employees who’d simply clung to their jobs, with no real innovation or achievements to claim. Mere survival in one’s industry is of little value.
The other problem with this statement is that you could be up against candidates with a similarly lengthy career – and THEN what will you use for differentiation? Employers can quickly read or interpret your age and length of experience. Your career branding approach (throughout your elevator pitch and documents) must take care of the rest
Debra Feldman: ⚠ Years of experience can set off an alarm for older candidates. Rather emphasize accomplishments that are relevant to the needs of the employer. What’s that saying about it’s not the years in your life but the life in your years!
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Like me, you receive holiday newsletters from friends and relatives who you see infrequently. You may look forward to receiving these yearly letters or dread them because they carry on for pages about personal information best saved for a therapist.
For job seekers these newsletters can serve as a great way to network if written properly. You’re sending these holiday networking newsletters to people who care about your welfare and would like to help in any way they could.
Maybe your uncle Jake once worked at Raytheon and still has connections there, past or present; or your former roommate from college is doing well for himself in marketing in NYC. Your brother is active on LinkedIn and probably has connections living in your area. He’ll sing your praises for sure. The list of possibilities is great.
Keep in mind that you’re not contacting employers or fellow job-seeking networkers who understand the lingo and nuances of networking for work. You’re reaching out to friends and relatives who know little to nothing about your situation or experience and goals. Thus, the content should be written for the layman.
First wish your recipients a happy holiday. You’ll start light and stay light during the entire letter. This is, after all, the holidays.
“Hello loved ones. It’s been a busy year for the Jones, and we have a lot to tell you. First let me start by telling you that we have a new puppy; I think that sums up ‘busy.’ Ellen has me on house-training duties, and for the most part I’m doing all right. We’ve named him Messi after the great soccer player. He’s pictured below.”
Body of Newsletter
News about the family is always appreciated.
“I’m proud to say that Tommy Jr. graduated from college and is interning at Fidelity. It helps that he developed a network while in college. I’m proud that he understands the importance of building relationships.
“Claire is enjoying her senior year in high school and much to the chagrin of Ellen and me (did I say that?) is dating a wonderful boy who dotes on her. She’ll be heading off to UMaine and he’ll be going to Florida State (Joy).
“Little Jason is entering high school with intentions of wrestling and playing soccer. He doesn’t seem to be thinking of what he wants to do after high school. He jokes about becoming a professional gamer. (Does that exist.) Really, Jason is a good boy; I’m not too worried.”
Continue writing about what’s happening on the family front, but don’t brag too much. How many times have we read holiday newsletters that sound like a commercial for the all American family? Keep it real. However, don’t write negative content.
Be upbeat and positive as you tell your recipients about your current situation. You want your friends and relatives to think about how they may help; you don’t want to drive them away with demands or sound needy or despondent. Hearing about your situation will prompt many of them to inquire how they can help you.
“I think you may recall that I’m in transition from my position as director of marketing at my former software company. I enjoyed my tenure there but, alas, the company was sold to a European conglomerate. Please have a great (holiday) and, above all else, remain safe.”
Sign off with your telephone number and LinkedIn URL, if it feels appropriate. Also ask your recipients to write back with news about what’s going on in their lives. Good networking is not only about you; it’s also about those with whom you communicate no matter who the audience is.
A post script could add a nice touch.
PS: This holiday I’ll be serving at our local soup kitchen. I am looking forward to giving to the community by helping those who aren’t as privileged. I’ll be home for Thanksgiving dinner which we’re celebrating with some relatives and close friends.
Some important things to note: don’t ask if anyone knows of a job. You don’t want to put undue pressure on your friends and relatives who are not consumed with the labor market. The best delivery method for your holiday networking newsletter would be email, but a paper letter is also acceptable.
There’s a saying in the career development world: “You’re not in my club unless you’ve lost a job.” It’s not a kind saying, but it puts things into perspective. Many people have lost a job or two or even three. No one will ever say, “Losing a job is fun.”
To lose a job for any reason can be a blow to one’s self-esteem. Even if you were laid off because the company had to cut costs, you might think you failed.
If you were let go for lack of performance or you didn’t see eye-to-eye with your manager, this can be particularly devastating. You may feel that you’re incapable of returning to the productive employee you once were.
The same applies to having to quit under pressure. Your boss was constantly harping on you for small mistakes or accused you of missteps that you know, deep in your heart, were correct actions. But because they’re the boss, they hold the power.
No matter how you wrap your head around what happened, you can’t let go of what went wrong. You lose sight of what you did well. Negative thoughts swim around your mind.
With all of this said, there are steps to take to get back into the workforce. (These steps don’t necessarily follow in this order.)
1. Don’t deny your feelings
You might be experiencing one of the five stages of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance), or a few of them. Although associated with the loss of someone close to you, grieving over the loss of a job is common. Realize that this is natural and don’t deny the feelings you’re experiencing.
You may be experiencing feelings you’ve never had before: bouts of crying for no apparent reason, short temper with family members and friends; a diminished sex drive; lack of motivation, wondering what you did wrong. These feelings, and more, are symptoms of unemployment; you’re not going crazy.
Being unable to concentrate on what’s going around you is natural. Your mind circles back to the fact that you’re out of work. You might have been told to hold it in. I believe this applies to only when you’re in public. When alone let it out, but not at the expense of loved ones. Don’t kick the family do I tell my clients.
When I was out of work, I tried to recognize the feelings I was experiencing. It wasn’t always easy, but I realized my unemployment was temporary. You should also realize your situation is temporary.
2. Evaluate the situation and be able to explain why you’re out of work
Given three reasons why you are unemployed—you were laid off, let go, or quit—determine which it was and assess the situation. People who possess self-awareness are honest with themselves and with others.
The first reason—being laid off—is easiest to explain. One of my customers said, “I had no choice. The company could no longer afford my salary.”
While this is true, it would be best to go into a little more detail, such as, “We lost two major accounts that I was working on (as a software engineer). While my work was stellar, our customers decided to pull out.”
The second and third reasons—being let go, or quitting—are a bit harder to explain. These answers must be short while giving an honest description of the situation and, most importantly, explain what you’ve learned from the situation.
One way you might explain being let go is: “My boss and I agreed that I wasn’t a fit for the position, that I lacked some of the skills. I understand the requirements of this job and know I can excel in this position.”
3. Don’t sleep the day away
You might be halfway through your job search and feel like giving up the fight temporarily. Don’t do it. Stay the course. If you need motivation, have someone check in on you to see how you’re doing. These would be a good friends, so don’t begrudge them.
As difficult it may be, develop a routine. You don’t necessarily have to rise at 5:00 am so you can go to the gym before the workday. But getting up every morning at 6:00 am, taking a walk, eating breakfast, and getting out of the house would be much more productive than sleeping until 10:00 am every morning.
You’ll feel much better if you are productive, not if you rise late and watch television. I honestly believe that developing a routine is essential to your mental health and finding a job. Another suggestion is to attend your local One-Stop career center for career-search help.
4. Take a hiatus
You’ve heard of the saying, “Get back on the horse.” This is true, but you don’t have to do it immediately. I’ve talked with job seekers who say they’ve taken a week off to regroup, to get their bearings.
While some might believe that you should begin the job search the day after you lost your job, I’m not one of them.
To get back on the horse immediately might be more detrimental than helpful, as your head will be swimming in negative thoughts of self-doubt. Or you might not have the energy you need to succeed. Proper mental health is required to be successful in your job search.
This said, don’t take a “vacation,” as some of my job seekers have. They figure summer is time to vacation, right? Wrong. The best time to look for work can be the summer when many employers have more time to entertain your request for an informational interview. Just recently our organization filled three positions.
5. Let people know you’re out of work
I tell job seekers there’s no shame in being out of work. And I’m sure they say under their breath, “What would you know?” Plenty. I’ve been out of work myself and came to find out that my feelings of self-doubt were wasted.
In order for others to help you, they need to know you’re looking for work. The people you tell aren’t limited to your former colleagues and supervisors. They should include family, friends, and acquaintances.
Don’t disregard people who live across the country or even the world. Social media allows us to hear of opportunities in various areas of the country. Your brother in New York or San Francisco might hear of position openings close to where you live.
It’s important that you tell people exactly what you’re looking for in terms of work.
6. Be willing to accept help
I find this to be one of the largest roadblocks for some people; they just can’t bring themselves to ask for help. There are two things to remember: one, your job search will be shorter if you have help.
Two, most people like to help those in need. It gives them a sense of fulfillment. Look at it this way, you’re helping others by asking for help. Psychologist assert that helping others gives people a feeling of achievement. I think most people reading this article enjoy helping others, seeing them succeed.
This isn’t to say you should approach everyone in your community and ask, “Do you know of any jobs for me?” To tell people you’re out of work (#5) should be enough. For safe measure, however, “ping” people to stay top of mind. An occasional request like, “Please keep your ear to the pavement for me” should suffice.
7. Take action to prepare
As hard as it might be, you will have to focus on four major areas in your job search. My valued connection, Erin Kennedy, outlines what job-search measures to take to update your job search and to begin moving forward. According to Erin these are steps you will take in the early phase of your job search:
Update your resume Does it convey your message and brand? Is it up-to-date with your current role? Are your most recent accomplishments listed?
Update your LinkedIn profile as well. Do you have a current photo? Have you utilized the new “featured” tool to display projects and achievements?
We are all going through this same challenging time so reach out to your contacts. Check in on them. Set up a Zoom meeting so you can chat face-to-face.
Better yet, invite others as well! This is a great time to deepen your relationships and create new ones. We need each other right now.
8. Update your written communication materials
You now have time to update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Ideally you added accomplishments you achieved while you were working, but it’s understandable if you hadn’t. Many people are guilty of this. Lesson learned.
Think about how you saved the organization costs, improved processes, increase revenue, enhanced communications; and try to quantify the positive results. If you can’t come up with the numbers, dollars, and percentages, don’t sweat it. This is also a great time to think about your greatness.
I find that many of my clients hadn’t used LinkedIn when they were working, but now they are using it like a fiend. Another lesson learned. Remember to focus on the three components: creating an optimized profile that brands you, developing a robust network, and engaging with your network.
9. Start networking
Oh no, not this again, you might be thinking. I’ll be the first to admit that networking is tough, especially after losing a job. But it’s the most successful way to find a job. The numbers prove it—more than half of positions are gained by networking. PayScale.com claims 70% of jobs are gained through networking.
While we’re slowly recovering from the pandemic, networking is still being conducted online, typically with Zoom. Many are looking forward to the day when they can network in person.
If you’re still getting over losing your job, put off networking or engage in it slowly. And if you were let go, there’s no rule saying you need to disclose it. Rarely will fellow networkers ask you the reason for your departure. But if they do, ignore the question or politely tell the person you’d rather not discuss. it.
10. Practice using video conferencing
To Erin’s third point, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be smart about interacting with others. This doesn’t mean we can’t continue to network. We might have to do it in smaller groups via Zoom or other video conferencing platforms.
Using video conferencing and the phone will prepare you better for interviews you’ll have in the near future. This is how companies are conducting interviews today. So, the more prepared you are with the technology, the better you’ll perform.
You probably didn’t think it would come to the point where you’d be going through multiple phases of the interview process participating in video meetings, but this is today’s reality. At least for the time being.
11. Seek professional help
You’ll probably experience many feelings, including anger, fear, self-doubt, etc. If you become consumed with these feelings, it might be best to seek the help of a therapist.
This is not unusual, trust me. I went through a plethora of feelings and, yes, I did talk with a professional. It allowed me to clear my mind.
If it gets to the point where all you can think about is the past and present, and fail to see the future, this can be an indication of depression or stress. It’s worth talking to a therapist when you reach this stage. Most insurance policies cover mental health services.
12. Consider your job search a blank slate
It’s hard for people who haven’t lost a job to understand how difficult being unemployed can be. The above are some simple suggestions to follow. Those who are in my club of people who have been unemployed at one point can be the best people to speak with. For some of us, it’s not our first rodeo. We have some sage advice to offer. Seek us out. We’re here to help.
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When it came to baseball, my dad used to say, “You won’t get a hit if you leave your bat on your shoulder.” This was his way of saying to try. He also said a big league ball player who bats .333 was considered a very good hitter. “That’s 3 hits out of 10, Bob,” he said.
Here’s the thing, you sure as hell won’t get even close to batting .333 in the job search if you don’t try. Here’s the other thing about the job search; you probably won’t nail every land the jobs for which you apply, but that’s okay. If you interview with 9 companies and get 3 job offers, Dad would say that’s a great batting average.
Dad’s advice on trying wasn’t just about baseball. He was a brilliant man and offered advice on academics, but I didn’t heed what he said as much as I should have. That’s neither here nor there. In the job search you need to try, but more importantly you need to be smart in your search.
The best big league hitters know who they’re batting against. They’ve either faced them many times or they watch film. The ones who’ve faced the pitchers before are more likely to succeed because they know when and how well their opponent can throw a curveball; slider; change-up; or worst yet, a knuckle.
Or they could strike out every time because some pitchers own opposing batters.
You know it and the interviewer/s know it come interview time that you haven’t done your researched. You’re asked simple questions like, “What can you tell me about this position,” or “Why do you want to work for out company.”
You struggle to recite even the simplest requirements of the job or the products and services the company offers. It’s embarrassing for you and the interviewer. It’s like when a ball player swings at a pitch in the dirt and walks back to the dugout with his head hung low.
Dad was an excellent baseball coach; my coach, in fact. What made him so great was his strategic mind. Applying online takes a strategic mind. One thing recruiters would say is don’t apply for jobs for which you’re not qualified. It’s a waste of your and their time. This is my first piece of advice.
Not to belabor the point, but if you’re applying for jobs through job boards and company websites, make sure you’ve done your research (first point) and that your resume is tailored to each job and speaks to the employer’s needs.
Perhaps most important is that a tailored resume will show the employer you understand their needs whether it’s reducing costs, improving processes, or other ways your can help the company. You also should prioritize statements by listing the most relevant experience and accomplishments closer to the top of the resume.
When I ask my clients if they enjoy networking, the majority of them are either uncomfortable doing it or downright hate it. Dad’s other advice about baseball is that the season is long. A great hitter might start the season with a .235 average but by the end of the season is hitting .333.
The thing about networking is that it takes time. There’s an amount of relationship building that needs to take place. For example, here’s the way it might go:
First: ask one of your first-degree LinkedIn connections to introduce you to introduce you to one his first-degree connections. If you’re more of the in-person networker, pick up the phone and ask one of your closest contacts to facilitate a phone call with your target contact.
Second: when an introduction is made, begin a light conversation with said person, while also fitting into your experience and the value you bring to companies. Ask the person if they’d like to have a follow-up correspondence and when you should call them.
Third: after a certain number of conversations, ask if your contact would like to meet for coffee providing they feel safe in this current environment. If they don’t, video conferencing is always an option.
Fourth: by this time you and your new contact are on the same page in terms of the mutual value you and they can provide. It’s time to make “the ask” for an informational meeting where you can discuss their company and the role you’re seeking.
Or you might want to indicate through your research that you see the possibility of making a contribution to their company. If the former isn’t possible, always try to leave the conversation with another person with whom you can speak.
Note: it might take more conversations before you’re comfortable making the ask. Some believe it takes 7 points of contact before a relationship is truly established.
Or, networking can be as simple as handing your resume to your neighbor, who hands it to the hiring manager of the department for which you want to work, many talks ensue, you’re interviewed for the job, and you’re hired.
This happened to a customer of mine who told me he hadn’t networked to get the job. I didn’t want to bust his bubble and tell him he had. Networking comes in many shapes and forms.
Prepare for the interview
This leads us back to research and a bit of networking if you can. My dad got me good one time. It was when the Russian national hockey team came to play our hockey teams. Dad bet me five dollars that the Russians would beat the New York Rangers–the first team they met.
When I watched the game and saw the massacre, Dad laughed at me saying he had heard about the victory on the radio before the game was televised. He had done his research…in a way. But this is how you will have a leg up on the competition who, for the most part, won’t do their research.
Practice hard. Great baseball players will practice with the team, of course, but they’ll also practice on their own, taking hundreds of additional at-bats and fielding ground balls. Along with researching the position and company, practice answering the questions you think interviewers will ask.
Another area you’ll need to prep for is your background and other important factors when being interviewed via video. What is an appropriate background, you might wonder? Anything that doesn’t distract the interviewer. A bookshelf or wall with tasteful paintings are fine. Also make sure the lighting is right.
Land the job; do well in the interview
“Teams win when batting, fielding, and most importantly pitching are doing well,” Dad would say. “Teams must have all three.” Dad also said errors will be the downfall of a team. “Mental errors are a killer.”
Try hard to get all in place and don’t make mental errors. This can sum it up when it comes to interviews. This means your interview road started with research. Smart job seekers will do anywhere between four to 10 hours of research.
Let’s touch lightly on first impression. As interviews are being held in person and via video platforms, eye contact is essential. Look at the camera, not the interviewers’ eyes. Smile as much as you can without overdoing it. In other words, don’t come across as fake.
Note: most traditional questions are predictable; you should know the answers for them before arriving at the interview.
Situational questions are a little more difficult, as they make you think of how you would solve a particular situation, such as, “What would you do if two of your employees were having a dispute?” You should answer this one successfully if you’ve read the job ad and know questions about leadership will be asked.
Behavioral-based questions are asked because interviewers believe how you behaved in the past is a true predictor of how you’ll behave in the future. They’re also asked to measure your emotional intelligence.
An example of a behavioral-based question is, “Tell me about a time when you came across two of your employees having a dispute.” See the difference between this and the situational question? To answer this question successfully you must have experienced this situation.
You also have to have your S.T.A.R story ready. Explain the situation, your task in the situation, the actions you took to solve the situation, and the final result/s.
Know the kind of company for which you want to work
Earlier I said batting .330 in the job search and landing only 3 out of 10 jobs for which you apply is pretty damn good. Well, it’s only good if you land the ones you desire.
Go after companies that support your values. Don’t simply apply for jobs that are advertised–that’s reacting. Reach out to the ones for which you want to work, which brings us back to research and networking. Identify those companies and network your way into talking with people in those companies.
I was pleasantly surprised to receive a gift (four delicious pumpkin cupcakes) from a member of a networking group I facilitate. Prior to bestowing upon me such a kind gift, Marie had asked me to critique “only her LinkedIn profile Summary.”
This gift was hardly necessary; although, I have to admit I had forgotten to look at her profile. So I sat with her that day for a brief time and offered some suggestions like, “This paragraph is a bit dense….
“I like the content a lot but perhaps you’d want to reorganize it to match your headline….
“I like your tag line a lot….
“The rest of your profile is great, but you might want to copy and paste some symbols for bullets to spiff it up.”
This interaction is an example of how to give to people when you’re in the job search. Do you have to give baked goods like Marie did? No. You have to reciprocate, however. Here are some ways to give back.
1. Share information
Had Marie sent me a link to an article that could provide fodder for a workshop I lead or a blog post idea, it would be a great way to give back. I’m one who is constantly trolling LinkedIn for information to learn more.
Very little effort required here. For a job seeker it could mean a great post on how to write a resume or some great interview tips. I think sharing information is particularly important for after an informational meeting. You receive information from the person granting you the meeting; now it’s time to return the favor.
2. Make an introduction to someone who could possibly help
You know the saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime?” When you make an introduction, this is what you’re doing. You’re telling your networking partner to take the ball and run.
Note: providing an introduction in person or on LinkedIn is the same concept. LinkedIn may be the way to go for the busy people you know, but an in-person introduction is more expedient and, perhaps, more efficient.
3. Tell networking groups about your happy landing
Don’t think your networking partners won’t be pleased to learn about your Happy Landing. They will be pleased. However, don’t return to the group to gloat. Tell them how you landed your job.
Many times people have returned the group I facilitate to tell us about the journey they traveled. Have they always landed due to networking? Not always. But networking has played at least a small part in their success. Tell people what worked…and what didn’t.
4. Provide leads after you land a job
Some people who’ve landed a job have contacted me about advertised or, better yet, unadvertised positions at their new company. They get the point of networking. This is one of the best ways to give back after your job search.
Do you know someone who’s still looking? Keep that person in mind when positions open in your company. Be smart about it, though. Your new company might offer an employee referral bonus; this doesn’t give you full range to tell everyone you know about the opening, particularly if they’re not qualified.
5. If you don’t get the job, recommend someone else
Sometimes you curse a recruiter for not helping you land a job. You’re so upset because the recruiter delivers the bad news that the company felt you weren’t qualified. There was empathy in their voice as they told you.
Instead of holding it against the recruiter, think about how you can possibly help a networking connection. It may hurt but think about the main tenet of networking; provide help before expecting it. And if it works out for your networking partner, you gain the satisfaction of helping that person.
As well, you help the recruiter who can possibly help you in the future. Remember that recruiters have a network of employers who need to fill jobs. Don’t discount them.
6. Provide moral support
In times like these–with unemployment rates high due to the pandemic–it’s important to provide moral support to your fellow networkers. Things have drastically changed from the days when you met one-on-one with other job seekers. Now group networking is done via Zoom or other online platforms.
This alone has isolated people which for many leads to despondency or even depression. People are social animals who enjoy the opportunity to be with others in one form or another.
In one of my job club meetings, a woman led the icebreaker part of the event. She was upbeat and encouraging to her fellow networkers, so much that I applauded her for her enthusiasm. This type of support is an important element of giving.
These are but five ways you can help your networking partners. As I said, it’s not necessary to bring delicious baked goods to show your appreciation, but it does help. Thank you, Marie!
You’ve heard it before: LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional, online networking application with approximately 700 million worldwide members. And according to many sources, at least 87 percent of recruiters are sourcing for talent on LinkedIn.
Here’s another fact that I can personally attest to: most recruiters with whom I’ve spoken tell me that LinkedIn is their site of choice when it comes to looking for talent. Not Indeed.com, Monstor.com, SimplyHired.com, or any of the other job boards.
Shouldn’t these facts be enough to use LinkedIn for you job search? Now, here’s the question: how can you most effectively use LinkedIn to network for a job?
1. LinkedIn is more than your online résumé
Networking on LinkedIn begins with your profile and the understanding that it’s not your résumé. Here’s where I contradict myself: I suggest to my client that their first move is to copy and paste their résumé to their new LinkedIn profile. But wait.
From there, however, you need to add to it to make it more of a networking document that expresses your value, while also showing your personality. For example, your About section must tell a story describing your passion for what you do, how you do what you do, and throw in some accomplishments to immediately sell yourself.
Your Experience section must include accomplishment statements with quantified results that include numbers, dollars, and percentages. I prefer that each position comprise only of accomplishments and not mundane duties you performed for each position.
Also important is that your LinkedIn profile is optimized for keyword searches by recruiters and hiring managers. They’re looking for a specific title, vital areas of expertise, and location. For example: “sales operations” AND crm “lead generation” AND pharmaceutical AND “greater boston”.
2. Use LinkedIn to find people at your desired companies
Perhaps one of LinkedIn’s greatest strengths is the ability to locate the key players at the companies for which you’d like to work. My suggestion is that first you create a list of your target companies and from there connect with people in those companies, ideally a level above you.
All Filters will be your best friend when it comes to locating people at your desired companies. You can use it to narrow down to the exact titles of the people for whom you’re looking. Important criteria would be Current Company, Industry, and Title. Choose 2nd degree as they’re more likely to connect with you.
When you’re using All Filters to locate people in your desired companies, make note of your mutual connections and the schools they attended. This can come into play when you write your personal invite.
Building relationships on LinkedIn can be a longer, more methodical process or a shorter one, where you and your connections hit it off immediately. To find a job using LinkedIn, building and solidifying relationships is an important aspect of the journey.
There are ways to go about getting noticed by the people with whom you’d like to connect:
First follow said people.
When you visit their profile, show your profile (don’t choose Anonymous LinkedIn Member).
Thoughtfully comment on their posts.
Wait to see if they reach out to you first—I’ve reached out to numerous people because of the comments they’ve left on my posts.
Finally, ask to connect with them using a personalized message, not the default LinkedIn one.
Note: Your connections who work in your desired companies will be more likely to except your invite if they know one of your connections very well. Make sure to include your mutual connection in your invite letter.
Just recently one of my clients asked if I would introduce her to a person who works at one of her target companies. I was glad to do it. So now they have to develop a relationship that will be of benefit to her and him.
Once you’ve built your foundation at your target companies, you can ask for introductions to the individuals who would be making the hiring decisions. You don’t want to do this immediately, because hiring managers will be less likely to connect with you without an introduction.
When jobs become available at your target companies, you’re in a better place than if you were applying cold. You can reach out to the people you’ve connected with to have your résumé delivered to the proper decision makers (in addition to applying on line).
Ideally you will build strong relationships with the connections at your target companies, so when companies are trying to fill positions internally, your connections will give you a heads-up. You’ll have an inside track, essentially penetrating the Hidden Job Market.
According to a 2017 Jobvite article: “Referred applicants are 5 times more likely than average to be hired, and 15 times more likely to be hired than applicants from a job board.” We can assume these stats are still true, if not higher.
5. Use the Jobs feature to network
Using LinkedIn’s Jobs feature to apply for jobs exclusively is not your best way to land a job because, after all, it’s a job board. (A very low percentage of job seekers are successful using job boards.) But I wouldn’t discount LinkedIn Jobs. Use it in conjunction with your networking efforts.
In many cases the person who posted the position is revealed, providing you with the option of contacting said person. You can also “meet the team,” whom you might want to reach out to. Perhaps my favorite feature of Jobs is the ability to see which of your alumni work at the companies of interest.
Finally, use Jobs to research other jobs of interest. On the right-hand side of the job description there are similar jobs at various companies. You might want to add some of these companies to your target company list.
6. Alumni feature
Alumni might be the most underutilized feature on LinkedIn. In fact, many of my clients are unaware of this great feature and are amazed when I demonstrate how to use it. To find Alumni, simply type your alma mater in the Search area and select it from the drop-down.
I show my clients how they can find alumni who studied certain majors, where they live, and where they work. I also explain that their alumni are more likely to connect with them than other people they don’t know.
If you see that some of your alumni work at a desired company, take the bold move of connecting with them. Your personal invite will start with , “Hi William, I see we attended Amherst College together….” This alone will give you something in common.
A LinkedIn connection is not bona fide unless you reach out in a personal manner, such as a phone call or, at the moment, having a Zoom session. A phone call should be the very least you do in your effort to make a personal connection.
You’ve spoken with your connections and have gained their trust. Now you’re ready to ask them to go to bat for you. You will message them to ask for an introduction to important people with whom you want to connect. The introduction invite is described in 3 proper ways for job seekers to send invites on LinkedIn.
With an ally on your side, your target connection is more likely to connect with you. But from there you’ll need to initiate a conversation that is not too forward. The process might be slow, but an opportunity can be wasted if you make the ask too soon.
You’ll know when the time is right based on the tone of the conversation. The ask can be an informational meeting where you’ll gather information and advice from your new connection. The ask will never be asking your connection if their company is hiring; it is assumed you’re interested in their company.
If you want to learn more about LinkedIn, visit this compilation of LinkedIn posts.
Some job seekers tell me they turn on their computer every day to log on to Monster, Dice, CareerBuilder, Indeed, and other job boards. They spend hours a day applying for posted jobs, sending as many as 20 cookie-cutter résumés out a week, anticipating a call from a recruiter or Human Resources.
To these job seekers I point out the futility of a job search like this, explaining that if they want faster results, they have to be more proactive. What they’re doing is being reactive and it ain’t working.
First I talk about the Hidden Job Market (HJM) which is a concept they understand, but I’m not sure they accept. When I tell them connecting with others is the best approach to penetrating the HJM, I can hear them thinking how difficult it will be to get outside their comfort zone, to get away from their computer.
The message I deliver is that they have to be proactive, not reactive. They have to take control of their job search, not let it control them. Here are five ways you can be proactive in your job search:
1. Get to know yourself
As odd as this sounds, many people don’t truly know themselves. I ask my clients to name their top 10 skills, and they have trouble coming up with five. You should make a list of your top 10 and provide a small blurb for each describing why they are.
Likewise, list some of your weaknesses. It’s important that you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses, better known as self-awareness. Keep in mind that good interviewers will not only ask about positive outcomes; they’ll ask about negative ones.
2. Put together your company target list
This is a task that job seekers often overlook, or they don’t see the value in it. Here’s where you put your job search into your own hands. You are choosing where you want to work based on your companies’ values.
Are you looking for companies that offer work/life balance, family-friendly policies, growth within the company, products or services that are environmentally friendly, a lively culture, a more professional culture? These are values you need to consider.
Now you can research these companies, keeping an eye on their growth. Identify the top players in the companies. Connect on LinkedIn with people who work for the companies. Build your foundation.
3. Send approach letters
These documents are sent to companies on your company target list. Here’s the kicker: no job has been advertised. (Advertised jobs represent only 20%-30% of the labor market.) You’re not reacting to an advertisement; rather you’re sending them unannounced.
Approach Letters are ideal if you prefer writing more than using the phone. Introverts may favor this way of contacting an employer. Whereas, extraverts may prefer simply picking up the phone.
The goal is to get networking meeting or better yet, chance upon a possible opening that hasn’t been advertised. You must describe your job-related skills and experience and show the employer that you’ve done research on the company to boost the employer’s ego.
4. Do some good ole’ fashion networking
Preface: with the advent of COVID-19, in person networking is not possible at the moment. Read this article on how job-search clubs are using Zoom at great success for networking.
Normally we think of networking as strictly attending organized meetings where other job seekers go, doing their best not to seem desperate. (I’ll admit that this type of networking is unsettling, although necessary.)
The kind of networking I’m referring to is the kind that involves reaching out to anyone who knows a hiring manager. Most of the people who contact me after they’ve secured a job tell me that their success was due to knowing someone at the company or organization.
You must network wherever you go. Network at your kid’s or grandchildren’s basketball games, at the salon, while taking workshops, at family gatherings—basically everywhere.
5. Consider volunteering as a way to find work
This method of being proactive works. Granted it is tough to work for free, volunteering offers great benefits. The first of which is it’s a great way to network. Think about it; you’re in a great environment to discover opportunities from the people with whom you’re volunteering.
Another benefit of volunteering is enhancing the skills you have, or learning new ones, to be more marketable. If you lack certain software, such as PeopleSoft, seek organizations that use this software or would like to implement it. Who knows; you may prove to be so valuable that you develop a role in their finance department.
Finally, volunteering is a great source of fodder for you résumé. I tell my clients that if their volunteer experience is extensive, they should include it on this document. Just write “Volunteer Experience” in parenthesis.
6. Use LinkedIn and other social media outlets
I recently received an In-mail from someone who is currently working but is not enjoying her experience. I’ll keep my ears open for the type of position she’s looking for because she asked me to.
LinkedIn members who know the potential of this professional online networking tool reach out to other LI members for information and contact leads. Practice proper etiquette when reaching out to your connections. In other words, don’t request an introduction to someone the very first time you communicate with a new connection.
Another one of my job seekers is doing everything possible to conduct a proper proactive job search. He updates me on his job search and sends me job leads for me to post on our career center’s LinkedIn group. I’ve got a good feeling about this guy. He’s being very proactive by using LinkedIn and his vast personal network of professionals.
7. Follow Up, follow up, follow up
Allow me to suggest a must-read book called Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. I think this guy gets more publicity from me than any author I’ve read. The reason I recommend this book is because none of these three proactive approaches are useful unless you follow up on your efforts.
Never Eat Alone teaches you how to network in every situation and then how to keep your network alive by following up with everyone. I mean everyone. Send an approach letter, then follow up with the people to whom you’ve sent it. Network face-to-face, then follow up. Connect with someone on LinkedIn…you guessed it, then follow up.
Of course you need to follow up after an interview. Many employers complain that candidates don’t send a follow-up note, and some candidates are eliminated because of this. So take the time to write a brief follow-up note. It’s well worth the time.
Being proactive sure beats the hell out of only reacting to jobs that have been advertised and are visible to hundreds, if not thousands of other job seekers. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and yields more results than exclusively participating in the visible job market. Being proactive makes you believe that the job search will finally come to a halt, that the job search is in your hands.
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