Monday, May 30, 2011

Let's stop and say thank you

Today is Memorial Day.  If you are new to the US, have been living under a rock, or think that Snooki passes for a hero, please take a moment to understand the significance of what this holiday means to our country, and hopefully might some day mean to you. 

Wikipedia has a nice little summary here, but basically this is the day where we should be taking a moment to honor those men and women who have died in service to our country.  Wear your red buddy poppy, white poppy, polka dot poppy, I don't care.  Just do something. 

For me, I believe that as Americans, we don't always have to agree with the war/military action, but it should always be our honor to support the people who care enough to fight for our right to disagree.  Freedom is never free!

Thank you to those in service.  God bless you!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Talk to me: How to land an informational interview

The informational interview is a powerful tool in the job seeker's toolbox, but many job seekers don't know how to approach getting this kind of interview. In fact, I would dare say that many job seekers don't even know what the phrase "informational interview" means.  Wikipedia defines it here

So, great...we know what it is..but who the heck is going to give you one?  Well, more people than you think, if you handle the request appropriately.  Here are a few tips for shifting your thought process in gaining this kind of interview:

1) Make sure that you have identified at least 25 companies that you are targeting.  Identify key decision makers in those companies using resources like Advanced People Search on LinkedIn.  Unless you are targeting HR roles, I would encourage you to stay away from HR/Recruiting and focus on the peers and leaders that would work in your functional area.

2) Then before you reach out, research, research, research!  Find out what is going on with the company but also spend some time researching those individuals. 

3) Think about what you want to say, but also what you don't want to say.  And please make sure that you are not asking for a job when you reach out.  This is not the purpose of the informational interview!!  You should be focusing on gaining information on the company, that individuals career path, recommended recruiters, industry trends, etc.  If someone feels like you are just going to ask them to hook you up with the hiring manager, you won't get far.  However, if that person understands that you want to tap into their expertise in general, they will probably be more open.  Also, consider throwing in an offer for coffee, a meal, etc.  Offer to meet early in the day, late afternoon, via phone-whatever might be most convenient for this person.

4) Reach out and touch someone.  Call, email, contact via LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.  If one method doesn't work, then wait a reasonable amount of time (1-2 weeks) and try a different one.  It's an old school trick, but it can still be effective-you could also consider sending a letter via FedEx or UPS.  It's not cheap when you calculate all of the times you may do it, but it is a little harder to ignore.  Basically, you want to make sure that you are walking that fine line between appropriately interested and crazy stalker lady.  Let's be honest-that takes some patience on your part.  5 emails in 2 days without a response definitely lands you a front row chair in crazyland. 

5) Keep your goal in mind, but also consider their goals.  You aren't trying to get a job offer with this interview.  You are trying to gain information, so any conversation that you have with this person that furthers that goal is a win.  Be flexible and available to them, but also be appreciative of their time.  And if there is something that you think you can offer them that makes their work day a bit better, then offer that up too!  For networking to be effective, it must be about both giving and getting info.

Bottom line-for most degreed professionals, networking can be one of the most powerful tools available to you in job search.  However, networking doesn't just mean handing out your business cards at Chamber of Commerce events.  Sometimes networking means digging in to get a conversation with an influential person in your industry even if that conversation never includes talk of open jobs.  Rethink your attitude about networking, and identify some people that you can just sit and talk with.  You never know where it might lead!  Good luck and happy hunting!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Job seekers-expect more misses than hits

I think one of the most frustrating things in job search is the feeling of failure that begins to creep in as you watch the rejections pile up.  It's really easy to feel like you are doing something wrong...or to feel like you aren't needed in the workplace anymore.

The new reality is that there are less jobs.  We all know this in our heads.  Yet, when we get that rejection email (if it comes at all), it's so easy to take this as a personal statement regarding the working world's need for our services.  But how do you avoid getting sucked into that vortex of self doubt?

Work hard to keep in mind that unemployment is high-higher than what the government tells us.  Current national unemployment rate factored by the BLS is hovering at about 9%, but the underemployment/effective unemployment numbers are estimated to be about double that number.  Why do you need a reminder of that?  You simply must keep that number in mind for a couple of factors:

1) Get your head on straight: Be prepared for a search that has the potential to knock your confidence a bit.  While I have known several job seekers who recently completed short searches where the offers were multiple, they still had to go through a ton of interviews to get to that stage.  The days of the one interview/one offer search are behind least for now.  For the rest of the seekers whose industries have gone soft or worse, whose skills have gone soft, you may find that the BLS job search statistics apply to you.  BLS is telling us that the average job seeker is in search for 27+ weeks.  I promise-this length of search takes a toll.  You need to be prepared for how this will effect you mentally, but also you need to consider how it will effect you financially, which leads me to point 2...

2) Get your finances straight: For some people who were offered golden parachutes, unemployment doesn't seem like a terrible thing.  However, there are just as many job seekers who got little to no severance, so getting money coming in is so important.  Make sure that you look into the potential of collecting unemployment benefits in your state.  Rules vary from state to state, but Alison Doyle, the guide to job searching has some great general suggestions on her site.  Also think about taking contract/temporary jobs while you search.  Many people (especially those coming out of long tenure with their last company) think of temp jobs as lowly positions.  However, contract positions exist for every skill set and level anymore and can often be a bridge to finding long term employment.

Bottom line: I know that unemployment inched up recently.  Frankly, I do not care what the talking heads in Washington are telling me.  I will feel better about our economy when all of my job search candidates get decent jobs.  However, as a recruiter, I do see signs that we are strengthening.  I am getting more requests than I can take to help companies find sales professionals, which is a good sign for other positions to follow later.  However, until then, please plan for the worst and hope for the best.  You are better than what the job search will make you feel.  If you need to, get support, get help, and keep the search in perspective.  Good luck and happy hunting!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What's worse in an interview...TMI or silence?

This is a blog recycle from a few years ago that I thought was timely after recently working with someone who was convinced that she was a good interview-she was not, bless her heart...

I was inspired to write this note by someone that I met recently at a community networking group.  Nice person, great credentials, strong background....and an obvious desire to fill any silence with anything he could think of.  I was helping this fella with his resume, working while we casually chatted.  Apparently I became too focused for his comfort because he began to fill the silence with nervous chatter.  As a result, I learned about his colorful personal life, difficulties at work, and financial status.  That one sided conversation made me wonder-how many of us feel the need to fill the void with Too Much Information? 
Many sales people have heard the adage of he who talks first, loses.  It's true in both negotiation and interviews.  To the job seekers reading this, remember that a good interviewer will learn just as much about you in what they don't ask as what they do.  I often utilized the "glazed donut stare" while listening to candidates ramble on-otherwise, I might not have thought to ask the question: "Have you ever been on Cops?" 

With that in mind, here are 7 simple tips that you can employ to ensure that you stay out of the land of Too Much Information:

1) Let the interviewer set the tone.  Remember that not all interviewers are trained recruiters.  Many of them are people whose "real" job is something other than recruiting.  As a result, this may be an uncomfortable situation for them too.  I've known plenty of managers who were just as nervous as the candidates that they were interviewing!  Match their tone, tenor, and pace. 

2) Answer the question-and just the question.  If the interviewer asks you about an area of development-share one place where you are trying to improve (and share what you are doing to improve), but when the interviewer is silent-don't feel the need to insert more "weaknesses"

3) Ask them a question.  If you feel like you have adequately answered their question and they are still waiting for more, just simply ask: Did that answer your question?  However, please do not do that after every question.  And while I'm talking about "don'ts", please also remember any little verbal ticks that you might have such as using the word "ok" after every story to check for understanding-it can come across a bit patronizing.

4) Ask them a question part two.  If you feel like you have adequately answered their question, ask them one of your own.  "So Fred, that's a little more about the project that I worked on while with XYZ company.  However, while I was doing my research on ABC company, I noticed that you were looking at a similar project.  Can you tell me more about it?"  Not only does this help to make the interview more conversational, but it also helps illustrate the research that you have done (and please gentle readers-always do research!)

5&6) Don't take control unless you have to.  My favorite cautionary tale about this comes from my own recruiting background.  I was doing a job fair with a junior manager who I was doing some management training with.  A gentleman came in to talk to us about a current opening.  For some reason, it would seem that he assumed that she was the senior member of staff and took control of the interview eventually only looking at the manager who was with me and completely ignoring the opportunity to interact with me.  At the end of the conversation, he asked her who he needed to talk to about pursuing the position.  Of course because Murphy and his law works even when we don't want him to, she pointed at me and told him that he had to talk to me.  Needless to say, he did not move forward in the process.  This is an extreme example, but it's the perfect example of how taking control of the interview can completely backfire-especially when you don't know the players.  However, as I mentioned earlier in this blog, sometimes interviewers are ill prepared to interview, which leads me right into 6) Don't judge a book by it's cover.  I would not recommend that you make the assessment of someone being ill prepared to interview by looks alone.  Just because someone is younger than you, reserved, or initially quiet doesn't mean that they aren't a tough interview.  Engage in conversation first, and then after a few minutes if you feel like the conversation has stalled, then gently lead him or her by asking the prepared questions that you brought to the interview.  If you use a soft approach with this individual, you will find that you are going to have a much better chance of them not being "turned off" by you taking control.  Remember my candidate at the beginning of point 5-it could cost you a second interview.

7) Be cool.  We all have had those "d'oh" moments in interviews when we realize that we have slipped into TMI-ville.  However, you can still come back!  Compose yourself, ask for a glass of water, or simply acknowledge that you are a little nervous because you are so interested in the role!  We are all human and we have all been there.  Often admitting your faults in such a way can break down some barriers between you and the interviewer, much more so than ignoring the fact that you just slipped into TMI territory.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Job search in Spanish….say ¿qué?

Traduje el poste de hoy de inglés-español usando Babelfish. Consecuentemente, usted puede notar que algunas de mis palabras no están exactamente correctas o la gramática es un pedacito apagado. ¡Me disculpo, pero espero que usted consigue el punto! En a mi historia…

Co-chair un ministerio de la búsqueda de trabajo en mi iglesia casera aquí en la zona este de Dallas. He estado haciendo esto apagado y encendido para los pares pasados de años y de él está ambo de mi más rewarding y las experiencias de la frustración en vida.

Sin embargo, la clase del ayer por la noche me probó realmente. Tenía unas par de señoras aparecer para mi clase social del establecimiento de una red. Para ponerla suavemente, estas señoras han limitado habilidades de la “oficina”. Por ejemplo, pasamos mucha de hora que discutían cómo usted no puede romper realmente el Internet. Más allá de su carencia general de la experiencia con una computadora, el hecho nos desafiamos que el inglés no era su lengua materna. Una de las señoras habló alguno, entendido algunos, pero no leyó nada. ¡Consecuentemente, pasamos absolutamente un pedacito del tiempo que hablaba de cómo traducir Web site de inglés-español y ahora quisiera compartir esos pensamientos con usted!

Usando trabajo un Search Engine como de hecho puede ser una herramienta de gran alcance en su búsqueda de trabajo. Sin embargo, si usted no está seguro qué todos los botones dicen, puede ser resistente navegar el sitio. Considere cambiar la lengua como esto:

¿Necesidad de enviar un email pero no seguro qué las palabras deben ser? Considere usando sitios como Babelfish para traducir bloques de texto, incluyendo email potenciales. Sin embargo, apenas pues este poste del blog puede mirar un pedacito extraño a usted desde que fue escrito originalmente en inglés, sus email pueden mirar iguales, así que considere tener un cheque de encanto bilingüe del amigo él. Además, los sitios como Babelfish pueden ayudarle a traducir Web site enteros aquí:

Los conocimientos lingüísticos son quizá un no problema para usted, sino algo un activo. ¡Considere comprobar hacia fuera sitios como Latpro para ayudarle a encontrar las posiciones que afilan con piedra específicamente adentro en sus regalos de la lengua!

¿Tenga otras sugerencias que puedan ayudar a esa gente que esté trabajando tan difícilmente para aprender la lengua inglesa, pero todavía necesiten prever sus familias? ¡Amaría oír hablar ellas!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Twitter: job seekers need to use it or lose it!

I haven't seen the latest and greatest stats, but last time I checked, Twitter had over 100M profiles.  However, also the last time I checked, about half of all of these profiles are abandoned within a month of their creation.


You know why-most people have no idea what to do with Twitter once they get there!  The job search talking heads (me included) both tell you that you should be on Twitter and offer you suggestions for making the most of your Twitter experience, but the reality is that for some people, they are simply so overwhelmed by a medium that feels this foreign, they just ignore their profiles giving us the boring Twitter egg:

What does the egg tell me?  Not a whole heck of a lot.  Not only is an "egg profile" missing the opportunity to pull together a social media presence with a picture, but typically you will find limited postings, not many if any followers, very few people followed, and basically tumbleweeds blowing down the street of this profile.

So, is that bad?  Well, I won't say it's bad, but it's definitely a missed opportunity.  However, I get it-Twitter isn't right for everyone as part of their diversified job search.  But, if you think that you won't devote the time to at least having some kind of activity, I would encourage you to take it off your LI profile.  Disconnect it from your Google Profile.  And stop listing it on your resume, signature block, business card, and Christmas cards.   Bottom line-you need to manage (read: clean up) your web presence on a fairly regular basis so that you aren't projecting the wrong image.  It's better to have an online image that says "conscientious objector" versus one that says "I don't give a crap"...don't you think?  Happy Hunting!

Using Facebook to job search? Watch those third party apps!

Symantec recently released some information on it's Official blog regarding how third-party apps on Facebook have potentially been accessing your personal info for years, without your knowledge.  However, I can't say without your approval. 

For all of you wondering what a third-party app is, it's simply those extras that you enable on Facebook like Facebook for iPhone, We're Related, Birthday Calendar, Yelp, Pieces of Flair, etc.  These are extras that are developed by people other than Facebook and offered to you as FB users.  But, it comes with a cost.  That cost is whatever personal information you store on FB.  However, you don't have to use these apps on Facebook, so before you get up in arms about how Big Brother is watching you, remember that you clicked
allow/continue/whatever to give that app access to your info.  Not sure how?  Well, most of us see this kind of list on our FB home page.  You can see that I've recently received about 40+ app requests. 

As you can see, most of those Apps look pretty innocent.  Oh, Flowers for Mom-that can't be bad, right?  NetworkedBlogs-sounds ok?  Independence Day Pics-random, but fine, right?  Well, you simply cannot know that up front!

So, how do you take control back?  There are a couple of things you can do to manage how apps are using your personal info going forward:
  1. Remove the apps from your account.  The Facebook Help section has instructions for removing apps
  2. Change your password.  This isn't going to prevent these third-party developers from having your info on file, but it will prevent them from getting new info on you.
  3. Just say no to most apps!  FB still offers plenty of helpful functionality without clicking on every tom, dick, or harry app out there!
Bottom line is that while some apps are perfectly legitimate, helpful, and without cause for concern, they still want you to click Accept so that they use your info to create revenue streams.  Remember-Facebook is a for profit business, so you need to assume that someone is tracking your usage for marketing purposes.  However, that doesn't mean that you should eschew FB.  I absolutely believe in using FB in the job search.  Just please be a smart consumer and only turn on the features, applications, services that you really need to make the most of your search.  Happy hunting!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dating and the Job Search-not that far apart

This is a blog recycle from a few years ago, but after having a conversation recently where the person I was talking to (a job seeker) had an epiphany about applying her dating rules to her job search life, thought it was a worthwhile recycle.

Ah-where else in the world can you meet an oil tycoon, a budding fashion designer, and a janitor all in one place other than the world of dating?

But are there jobs out there to tickle your work fancy?  Some days it does not seem like it.  However, for those of you who are successful daters, think about approaching job seeking like dating.  Why?  Because to find the right one you have to be prepared to.....

10) Kiss a lot of frogs.  Much like in dating, a good job is all about the match between job seeker and employer.  As your parents probably told you the first time someone broke your heart, you are going to have to look around to find the right person/job.  Which leads me to number 9...

9) Go into the relationship eyes wide open.  Think about any romantic relationship where one or both parties lies about age, income, kids, weight, marital status, etc...chances are that relationship is pretty unhealthy.  This applies to job seeking too.  If you are making yourself into something that you are not because that is what you think that it takes to get hired by a particular company-you are setting yourself up for failure.  It's ok to put your best foot forward when networking, interviewing, etc...just make sure that it's your foot and not someone else's.  Don't fib on a resume, LinkedIn/Twitter profile, or in the interview-a good recruiter will always catch you sooner or later.

8) Do not wear PJ's on your date.  Going back to the best foot forward...remember to dress, act, and behave in such a manner that an employer considers themselves lucky to have you.  Think that your dream guy/gal wants someone who looks like they haven't washed their clothes in 8 days?  Well, your potential employer doesn't want that either.  Job seeking typically means that you don't have a lot of extra money to spend on fancy new interview clothes, but you can always be neat in appearance, light on perfume/makeup, dressed in this decade's fashions, and ready with a smile.  Speaking of smiles, that leads us to point number 7...

7) If he looks too good to be true, he probably is.  Who hasn't been dazzled by a bright smile, engaging personality, and extra charm just to find out that he or she is a wolf in sheep's clothing?  The same applies to jobs.  If you are getting job offers with little to no interviewing, make sure that it's not a scam in the making.  Someone wants you to pay a nominal fee to get started?  Run, don't walk the other direction.

6) I don't know, where do you want to eat?  Ever been on that date where the person you are with doesn't seem to have an opinion on anything?  It can be really frustrating in love, but it can be disastrous in job searching.  Get an interview with someone and they ask you: "So what do you want to do?"..this is not the place for you to answer: "Oh, anything!"  It may seem as if you are open to any possibility in your eyes, but to a hiring manager, it sounds like you are really saying "Not a clue!".  Employers want you to want them-just like in dating.  You should have done your research, identified a specific job, and then have prepared a list of reasons why you are a fit for that exact job.  Eventually want to explore other positions in the company and possibly move up?  That's great-but the interview is not the place to advertise that you want something other than the job being discussed.

5) Looking for love in all the wrong places?  Tired of going to bar after bar looking for "the one" just to end up hung over, tired, and smelling of smoke?  Same applies to job searching.  If you are sitting on the job boards all day and getting no responses, stop doing the same things over and over!  Think about changing your strategy, which leads me to number 4...

4) Get out and get a life!  Common wisdom has always been that love will find you when you stop looking for it.  While this is not true in job seeking (at least not in this economy), there is some wisdom here for you Ms./Mr. Job Seeker.  If you have a highly diversified search strategy that combines both online and in person activities, eventually many elements of your job search will begin to work on their own.

3) Get out and get a life-part two.  While you probably don't have the money to do all of the things that you have ever wanted to do while in job transition, you do have time to do some of the things.  Don't forget to spend a little time investing in yourself.  Go to cheap movies, check out library books, go to the museum, look on MeetUp for local groups, go to school, invest in skills training, research free/low cost training, etc.  Much like in dating, employers will smell the desperation on you a mile away if you are letting your job search rule your life.  Balance your job seeking with some life enriching activities.  You may also find out some things about yourself along the way.

2) Think about engaging in a rebound relationship.  Looking for your next high level position?  Realize that there is a pretty good correlation between salary desired and length of search.  This is not to say that all well paid job seekers should despair.  Rather that all job seekers should consider interim work whether it's contract, temp, or volunteer.  A great way to take the focus off your own troubles is to throw that energy into work-even if you are not being paid for it.  So, while this "relationship" may not be forever, in a job seeker's case, it may help pay the bills.

1) Keep your chin up!  For anyone who has been in love and lost it, you know that there can be some low points in the process.  This is absolutely true of job seekers too.  Remember that this too shall pass, and you will once again be gainfully employed.  Until then, don't hesitate to lean on friends, family, and community if you need someone to listen, someone to help put food on the table, or someone just to care. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Recruiter position available: DT Chicago

Are you a staffing professional who is a little tired of the constant desk rotations and wishes that a recruiter job actually let you recruit?

Are you an agency recruiter who is ready to be recognized financially for your hard work?

Maybe you are a recruiter who is realizing that not all companies in our industry are created equal..

If any of these strike a chord, then we want to talk to you! 

Established, financially stable Staffing Firm in DT Chicago is looking for an experienced Recruiter to join their professional placement team.  Leadership and team in our office is amazing! 

Ideal candidates will have at least 2-5 years of recruiting experience within fast paced agency environment.  Experience with placing high level office support staff, HR, F&A is a plus.

Company offers very competitive base salary plus lucrative individual commission. 
First year Recruiters can expect to make $70K.

Think you want to learn more?  Reach out to me at and let's talk about your talent!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

LinkedIn: a little netiquette reminder

I'm a mostly open networker on LinkedIn.  I have made some awesome connections that I would not have had the opportunity to make had it not been for LI.  However, I say that I'm a "mostly" open networker because I really do not see any value in connecting with those who people who have no intention of talking to me!

Case in point.  Had recently reached out to a network connection a couple of times with a job lead or two.  Never heard back from this person.  However, did see that this person was going to my LI profile on a fairly regular basis.  I find that all very strange and realize that this is a connection that isn't connecting.  And life is too short to waste your time with people who don't want to build a relationship.

So, what's the point of my rant?  Well, as all of you out there in job search land can attest, networking is a lot of work.  So, I'm going to suggest that you put just as much effort into your online networking as you do with your in person networking.  What are some good netiquette rules to think of when using LI for career transition and/or career management?  Well, some easy ones are:

  • Respond to all appropriate inquiries. 
  • Thank people for inviting you to connect or accepting your invitation to connect.
  • Try and help people out with their needs-even when (especially when!) you are in job search.
  • Post helpful ideas in the groups you engage with.
  • Pay attention to the Answers section and give suggestions/advice/answers to those who are seeking info.

Bottom line is this: Just because the internet can seem impersonal to those who didn't grow up with it, it's still used and abused by humans.  So, especially on a NETWORKING site, let's actually network, respond, and be kind.  Good luck and happy hunting!

About me:
I'm a placement industry consultant offering my experience in both job search coaching and talent acquisition.  As a result, I wear many hats including recruiter, sourcer, account manager, resume writer, job search coach, career planning consultant, project manager, trainer, chief cook, and bottle washer.

My personal experience spans a variety of industries and functional areas including sales/sales management, recruiting, banking, and retail. However, I have coached or placed professionals in all of these industries as well as marketing, IT, engineering, telecom, pharmaceutical, medical, and more! 

Prior to my life as a consultant, I made my bones working for a couple of really great commercial recruiting firms working as everything from entry level recruiter to an AVP with responsibility for a variety of functional areas including client sales/recruitment, corporate/internal recruiting, succession planning, talent development, talent retention, career planning, enterprise sales, etc.

I’m fortunate that my avocation and vocation are one in the same.  As a result, I co-chair a job search ministry to help individuals make the leap from looking to landed.

Where have you been old friend?

The last few months have been quite busy in my household.  As a result, I've all but stopped blogging.  Missing my socially acceptable rants!  Also have migrated over from the TypePad platform to Blogger.  However, you can still view all archived posts at: