Tag Archives: Networking

The professional networking document: how it can help during your job search

If you’re wondering what a professional networking document is, you’re probably not alone. You may have heard about professional bios, and maybe you have one; but this is a different kind of marketing document for your job search. This, as the name implies, is for networking purposes.

mock interview2

The top part of your professional networking document resembles a résumé and the bottom part explains to those with whom you’re networking what you’re pursuing in terms of position/s, types of companies, and target companies. This is perhaps the most important part of your professional networking document.

Where you use it

The most obvious place to use your professional networking document is in a networking meeting. (You may know it as an “informational interview.”) It’s where you would slide your document across the table to the person who has graciously agreed to meet with you to provide advice and possible leads.

Just as the meeting is nearing the end, you ask if the person wouldn’t mind taking a glance at your professional networking document. Watch as she takes a look at your company target list. You’ll see her study it and hopefully mention that she knows people at some of the companies. This is the start of something good.

If you’re a member of a buddy group, you can provide the other networkers a copy of your professional networking document. A buddy group is a better place to disseminate your document than to a larger, formal networking group, where participants wouldn’t appreciate carrying a sheet of paper around.

You can also send it to your network in an email. By doing this you’ll cover more ground; although, this is not the ideal way of distributing your professional networking document. Your goal is to get in front of people with your document in hand, so you can discuss it with them.

The top part of your document

This part of your professional networking document, as I mentioned above, resembles your résumé. It is not your entire résumé, as the document should not exceed one page. Here’s where you only include the juiciest information from your résumé.

The first three sections of your concise résumé will include your Contact Info, Job Target, Performance Profile, and Core Competencies. Following is an example of the sections for a Sr. Director of New Business Development.

The final two sections will be your Recent Experience and Education. Your experience section should only show accomplishment statements that are quantified or qualified.

⇓⇓⇓

Sr. Director New Business Development
Identify new global business development opportunities that garner growth and consistent revenue increases of 18% annually. Direct marketing strategy, creating new brand and product category offerings. Recognize industry trends leading to profitability & added value.

CORE COMPETENCIES

New Business Development | Major Account Management | Marketing | Negotiations | Sales

EXPERIENCE

ABC, Anywhere, USA 2009 – 2019
Sr. Director ~ New Business Development/Marketing/Sales
Directed a $200MM company that produced office management software primarily supporting Energy and Education. Emphasis on overall operations of five departments, continuous improvement, and revenue generation. Major highlights include:

  • Initiated the design of 3 brands that dominated the US Northeast region and gained prominence in Western Europe. These brands remain the most popular for ABC.
  • Trained inside sales and distributor sales staff in all aspects of selling, sales input and follow-through; leading to 80% increased sales for ABC’s distributors.
  • Implemented cross-sales plans between major education companies; consistent annual sales growth of an average of 18%.

EDUCATION

Babson College, Waltham, MA
Master’s of Science, Business Administration

University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
Bachelor’s of Science, Marketing, Minor in Communications


The bottom part of your document

This is perhaps the most important part of your professional networking document because it gives your networking partners a sense of your goals. Someone who receives your document will have a better sense of how to help you than if your were to simply express your goals through conversation.

The Target Companies section of your professional networking document is most likely the most difficult to devise, yet the most valuable piece of the document. As mentioned above, this will hopefully spark an idea in people who receive your document. Perhaps on the spot during your networking meetings.

⇓⇓⇓

ROLES

Director, VP
New Business Development | Sales/Marketing

TYPE OF ORGANIZATIONS

Entrepreneurial, innovative | mid- to large-sized organization | education or energy | within the USA

TARGET COMPANIES

Education: American Public Education | Archipelago Learning | Capella Education Company | Bridgepoint Education | Franklin Covey Company | Rosetta Stone

Energy: 1366 Tech | Achates Power | Aemetis | AltaRock Energy | Aquion Energy | BrightSource Energy | Clean Energy Collective


Imagine someone saying, “AltaRock Energy. I know the VP of marketing there. Here name is RoseAnn Johnston. A great woman. Give me a minute to get her contact information. Also Clean Energy Collective. I know the CEO there. We play golf….”

Your professional networking document can greatly enhance your networking efforts if written effectively and used in the proper circumstances. This document is not confined to executive-level job seekers; managers and individual contributors can also benefit from it.

This post originally appeared on Jobscan.co

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7 wasted networking opportunities that hurt your chances

At formal networking events there’s usually a “needs and leads” session, where participants can mention companies in which they’re interested. They ask if their fellow networkers know anyone at those companies. That’s the needs part.

Men Networking

The leads part is when their fellow networkers shout out the names of people they know at said companies. Or they say that they’ll talk with the person, who has needs, at the end of the networking event. This brings me to the first missed opportunity.

Not asking for leads

At a recent networking event I was leading at our career center, I asked if anyone had any needs and leads. This was after our guest speaker had finished her presentation. No sooner had I made the announcement, many people rose from their chairs and headed for the door.

For those who remained, I told them this was their chance to ask for leads. A few of them mentioned companies in which they were interested. And a few of the attendees offered some leads.

This is a classic example of job seekers who don’t know the companies in which they’re interested. They haven’t done their research, haven’t created a list of 10 or 15 companies they’re targeting. Or maybe they’re afraid to ask for help. In either case, this is a missed opportunity.

Not approaching the guest speaker

I mentioned we had a guest speaker. If the guest speaker is someone who works for a company on your target list, you must wait around at the end of the event to grab a few minutes of their time. Let’s call this Company X.

Make your intentions clear that you’re very interested in Company X and the role you’re seeking. The speaker might not know if Company X has an opening or plans to hire someone for your position, but that’s okay.

Kindly ask if you can leave your resume or, better yet, personal business card with them for future consideration. Ask for their company business card, as well. And don’t forget to ask if you can connect with them on LinkedIn.

If all of this seems too forward, keep in mind that people who attend networking events, participants or speakers, know the purpose of the event—to network. How you deliver the ask is important. You must come across as polite and sound as if you don’t expect anything.

Not approaching people with whom you should speak

Research the people who will be attending. If possible, find out if there will be contacts or potential contacts at the event. You might want to arrange to meet people of interest at the event. As well, you can inquire from the coordinator of the event who will be at the event. This is particularly a smart move for people who are uncomfortable going to networking events.

The events I lead at our career center always begin with people delivering their 30-second elevator pitch. This is the time when you write down each person’s occupation, so you can approach them near the end of the networking event.

Here are some other tips:

  1. Make sure you’re wearing a name tag for easy recognition.
  2. Approach the people with whom you want to speak in a friendly manner.
  3. Be prepared to provide information or leads for them.
  4. Be willing to deliver your ask…politely

Not including other networkers in a group conversation

I see this all the time. A group of networkers excluding others from their group. I find it incredibly rude and a possible missed opportunity. For example, at one of my networking events I see a group of people having a lively conversation. I know that one of them might be interested in a position we’re trying to fill at our career center.

I wait patiently. I try to make eye contact with one of them. Still waiting I get no love. I walk away and move on to an individual who is standing alone and appearing uncomfortable. She’s happy to see me, as I’m the facilitator of the event.

I’ve also seen this at larger events. A good group facilitator will walk with the person to a group of clueless networkers and introduce the hesitant person. The facilitator will break the wall and force the group to include said person. This should not have to happen.

Not bringing your personal business cards to the event

In my opinion, if you leave your personal business cards at home, don’t go to the event. It’s that simple.

Hopefully this article will encourage you to create a personal business card: 7 reasons why you need personal business cards and 7 facts to include on them.

Not dressing for success

It’s not necessary to dress to the nines when you go to a formal networking event, but you should at least wear casual work attire. I’ve seen people wear Tee-shirts and jeans to events. This might have been appropriate attire for where they worked, but it’s not appropriate for a formal event.

Not dressing for success shows a lack of professionalism and respect to other members of the networking group. I say this because I feel disrespected when I hold an event and people wear their Saturday home gear.

For the most part, I see networkers who dress very well. Some will appear in a suit, which is overkill, but others will wear nicely pressed shirts, blouses, slacks, or skirts. This says to me, “I know why I’m here, and I’m ready to get down to work.” They get it.

Keep in mind that a potential employer might be in the room, and they might have to hire an employee in the future. Who’s going to leave a positive impression in their mind; the people who’ve dressed to impress, or the ones who’ve shown up looking like they’re going to mow their lawn.

Of course, not following-up

Here’s where many people drop the ball; they don’t follow-up with the people with whom they’ve had a great conversation. The words of my friend and founder of a networking group, Kevin Willett, ring in my ears:

If you don’t follow up, it’s like you were never there.

So true. You must follow up the next day (Monday if it’s a Friday event) with a phone call or email. And you must persist for a couple or three times at most. If you don’t get a response, the message is clear; that person was never serious to begin with.

Here’s where you need to practice etiquette. If you reach said person, ask them if they would like to meet for coffee (your treat) or have a phone conversation at their convenience.

Here’s the thing; people like me would rather speak over the phone than take more time to meet for coffee. There are others, however, that like the face-to-face interaction. Tell them that you respect their time and will talk anywhere they’d like.


Missed opportunity at networking events can mean the difference between landing a job and not. Let’s recap on what you should do:

  1. Ask for leads
  2. Approach the guest speaker
  3. Approach people with whom you need to speak
  4. Include others in your group conversation
  5. Bring your personal business cards to events
  6. Dress for success
  7. Follow up

Photo: Flickr, International Railway Summit

20 steps to take during your job search

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

job seeker balck and white

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

1. Forgive yourself

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

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

2. Take a short break

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

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

3. Dive into your job search with gusto

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

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

4. Let others know you’re out of work

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

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

5. Be good to yourself

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

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

6. Don’t play the numbers game

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

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

7Know thyself

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Conduct some labor market research (LMR)

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

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

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

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

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

11. Write your résumé and LinkedIn profile

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

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

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

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

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

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

15. Research, research, research

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

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

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

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

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

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

15. Pre-employment aptitude and personality tests

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

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

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

16. Telephone Interviews

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

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

17. Skype interviews

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

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

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

18. Video interviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20. It’s not over until you follow up

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

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


One more: it’s never too late to volunteer

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

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

Photo: Flickr, worldentertainments center

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

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

uncomfortable lady

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

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

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

Networking doesn’t work for the following reasons

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

1. You expect immediate gratification

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

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

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

3. You left your personal business cards at home

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

4. You’re only there for the show

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

What works

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

8621406461_b4b89046d1_o (1)

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

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

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

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

3. Meet in smaller groups

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

4. You’ve got nothing to prove

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

5. Success happens anywhere

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

6. Create your own networking events

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


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

The plight of the long-term unemployed; how to overcome it: part 2

In part one of this article, we looked at the plight of the long-term unemployed (LTU). Part two will look at five solutions for the LTU for finding work.

unemployed

Find a support system

Isolation is a symptom of long-term unemployment which is hard to overcome. One of the people who contributed to this article, Doug, described the support he received from family and friends, some friends he developed during his job search:

I am fortunate in that way. I also have a strong base of family and friends that kept me motivated. Many of these friends I never knew until I got laid off. I met them through job clubs and networking groups and consider myself lucky to have found them. They truly understood what I was going through.”

Ofer Sharone, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, created a program at MIT, which matches volunteer coaches with the LTU to provide them support and advice. One of the many benefits the members of the group receive is being with other LTU who are in the same situation.

Bob, interviewed by Sharone, stated, “When you’re let go, you get discouraged, frustrated, disappointed, feel like a failure,” but Bob explained that the support he received helped him recognize “the positive things that I’ve done in my career and has helped me see that focus, keeping me aligned with what I can offer an organization, rather than what it was that I wasn’t able to offer.”

Network

Most people understand the importance of networking, but many people are reluctant, if not terrified of doing it. For the LTU, networking outlets can lose their appeal, as the forums are attended by the same people. I’ve attended networking events as a visitor or presenter, where I’ve seen people who seem to have been there a year ago. This is not due to a lack of effort on their part. They may have been victims of the LTU stigma.

The quickest way to earn a job is by being referred to a position by someone who is known and trusted by the employer. This is easier said than done; and for someone who has been out of work for more than 27 weeks, finding people to refer them can be a tall order. It is, therefore, essential that the LTU are able to promote themselves to people who are in a position to recommend them.

David never gave up on networking the two years he was out of work. “My landing was through networking,” he said. “Someone knew someone looking for my skill set – more importantly, that someone specifically recommended me. That built up, eventually, to a full-time position that, alas, was a finite one.”

Create a powerful résumé and LinkedIn profile

While the aforementioned solutions are important, a well-crafted résumé and LinkedIn profile are paramount to avoiding the “black hole” syndrome. Foremost a résumé needs to be tailored to each position for which one applies.

Secondly, the résumé and LinkedIn profile have to express one’s value through measurable accomplishments. All too many LTU insist on listing duty statements that lack quantified results. They’re very proud of what they’ve done, but neglect to demonstrate how well they’ve performed their duties.

It’s important that the older (50 and over) LTU do not exceed 15 years of work experience on their resume for the mere fact that it ages them. The goal of the resume is to get them to the interview. Once there, they can sell the benefits they offer as older workers.

Lastly, the résumé must get past applicant tracking systems (ATS), which approximately 98% of large-sized companies are using, more than 60% of mid-sized companies employ, and some small companies are outsourcing.

Having a strong LinkedIn campaign is also a key requirement for the LTU. Some sources state that between 87-94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent. Further, Approximately 40% of employers will immediately reject candidates if they don’t have a LinkedIn presence.

Perform well in interviews

As stated earlier, there is a bias against the long-term unemployed. Interviewers might be wondering why one has been out of work for six months. What’s wrong with them? Sharone acknowledges that in an interview this bias exists:

“We have age discrimination laws that reflect our belief that it is not okay for an employer to assume that just because you are 50-years-old, you’re not qualified or skilled anymore. I think the same thinking should drive policies that say we don’t think it’s a good idea for employers to make an assumption that just because you’ve been unemployed for six months, you’re not good or skilled.”

In all likelihood the LTU will be asked why they’ve been out of work for so long—many of my clients are asked this. A successful response to this question will rely on their honesty and conviction in their ability to succeed in the role they’ll be assuming. One of my clients, who had been out of work for more than two years, decided that saying she had retired was the best route to go.

Read this compilation of the stages of a successful interview.

Volunteer

As difficult as it may be to work for free, volunteering can be the best way to land a job. The reasons are simple: LTU are in a better place to network, they develop new skills, and it’s great fodder for their résumé.

What’s important when volunteering is to choose the right situation. Sure, volunteering at an animal shelter is great for the soul, but it isn’t the best place for a software engineer. A software engineer would be better off volunteering at an organization—most likely a nonprofit—where she can use and sharpen the skills she has. The best case scenario is finding a gig where one can learn new skills.

Treat yourself well

The final suggestion I have for the LTU is taking a break. Whereas some might think putting their job search in overdrive is the way to success, taking their foot of the gas pedal every once in awhile will help them maintain their sanity. My contributor, Doug, told me once when I asked how his week had gone that he took it off. My initial thought was, “The whole week?”

But it dawned on me that it was a good move on his part. The LTU can not underestimate the importance of physical and emotional wellness. Perhaps they should look at the job search more like a marathon than sprint. In the end, Doug landed a job. When it comes down to it, that’s the endgame.

This post originally appeared in Jobscan.co.

It’s okay to connect with strangers on LinkedIn

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

Networking2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still reluctant to connect with LinkedIn members?

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

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

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

There are rules, though

1. Chose the right people to connect with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Know how invite LinkedIn users to their network

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

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


To classmates

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

(Student’s name)


To professors

Dear (Professor’s name)

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

(Student’s name)


To alumni

Dear (Name)

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

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

(Student name)

3. Follow up with their new connections

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

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


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

Apply for some jobs already! 5 reasons why you’re not applying.

And what you should do about it!

It’s called paralysis by analysis. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, or even suffered from it. I have. Suffered from it, that is. This is when you’re caught up more in the process than achieving the goal. No, this is different than procrastination. This is the inability to act.

Man from recruiter

I see it in the resource room of the career center for which I work. A person sits down in the morning; opens their résumé on a computer to revise it; and when I walk by at the end of the day they’re still revising the same résumé, their eyes bloodshot. I ask nicely, “Are you applying for jobs?”

“Not yet,” he replies. “I’m waiting until my résumé is perfect.”

“You’ve been here all day working on the same résumé.”

“I want it to be perfect.”

One time I must have been heard throughout the career center as I raised my voice at one person, “Apply for some jobs already.” I was being playful, but I also meant it.

Another person is doing such a great job of networking. He is meeting people for coffee or lunch, going to networking events and buddy groups. This has been going on for weeks. I ask him where he’s applied.

“I want to make sure I apply to the right companies,” he says. “I’m trying to get a sense of their culture.”

“Great,” I reply. “But you need to start applying. Apply on line.” And I hate saying this, because to me applying online is equivalent to throwing chumline in the ocean and waiting for fish to surface.

These are but a few examples. It could be trying to make their LinkedIn profile perfect before sending invites to people, asking for recommendations, or engaging with their network. Anything less than perfect is unacceptable.

Are you suffering from paralysis by analysis? Here are a few reasons why you might be, as well as some advice on how to move forward:

You’re shell shocked

Losing a job is a terrible blow to your psyche, even if you weren’t to blame. Additionally you’re wondering how you’re going to pay the bills. What will working again be like, you wonder? It might be 15 years since you last engaged in the job search. A lot has changed since then. This is a scary prospect.

What to do

I’m not going to say, “Get over it.” But I am going to say, “Take some time—a week or two—to realize that the more you’re out of work, the longer it will take to find employment. Understand that:

  • this is temporary,
  • it happens to many people,
  • it’s natural to feel despondent,
  • there is help from your One-Stop career center and a therapist, if necessary.

Writing résumés has changed over the past 15 years

The way résumés are written has changed. Recruiters want to see accomplishment statements, with quantified results. The applicant tracking  system might not have been used by organizations, as well.

What to do

Don’t be obsessed with writing your résumé; however, make sure it meets the following criteria:

  • shows value with accomplishments,
  • is tailored to each position,
  • is readable with short paragraphs and plenty of white space,
  • doesn’t exceed 15 years of work history,
  • finds itself in the hands of the hiring manager, as much as possible.

Networking is key

Most companies want you to apply online or go through recruiters and staffing agencies, but you’re more likely to get better results by getting your resume in the hands of the hiring manager directly. Most companies prefer to hire job seekers through referrals from people they know and trust.

What to do

Despite what most people think, networking events aren’t the only activities that constitute networking. Look at networking as connecting with people everywhere. Your neighbors, relatives, friends, store owners, dentists — essentially everyone can be a valuable networking connection. Make sure to reach out to former colleagues and supervisors who can act as references. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Social media plays a large role in the hiring process

In today’s job market, you have to be cognizant of your social media image. According to a 2014 survey, 94 percent recruiters look for and vet talent on LinkedIn. Four years later, the number may be even higher. Employers are also checking you out on Facebook and Twitter to dig up any dirt that may disqualify you from the running.

What to do

First of all, LinkedIn will not land you a job by itself. It is a supplement to your face-to-face networking events. However, it can be very helpful if used properly. Like your résumé, don’t dwell on trying to make it perfect. There are two other components that make your LinkedIn campaign a success—growing your network and engaging with your connections.

The interview process is longer

You might have to endure as many as five telephone interviews before multiple face-to-face interviews. The types of interviews you will participate in could vary, including Skype, Zoom, group, and, of course, one-on-one.

What to do

Go with the flow. It’s a known fact that employers dread hiring the wrong person because it’s costly and embarrassing. It may seem like they’re looking for the purple squirrel, so be patient and persistent. Most importantly, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Some job seeker tell me they’re only applying to a couple of companies, because they’re the ones. Apply to the right companies, but have a list of at least 10 companies for which you’d like to work.


If my clients think I want them to scatter their résumés around the state, they’re wrong. All I’m asking is that they don’t spend more time doing nothing than doing something. Yes, they should recover from their trauma…or fake it til they make it. They need to connect with people in their community. The interview process, and the methods employers are using, is taking longer.

One thing we all an say for certain is paralysis by analysis is real and detrimental to your job search.

Photo: recruiter.com

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Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 17 job search workshops at an urban career center, as well as critiques LinkedIn profiles and conducts mock interviews. Job seekers and staff look to him for advice on the job search. In addition, Bob has gained a reputation as a LinkedIn authority in the community. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. For enjoyment, he blogs at Things Career Related. Follow Bob on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.