Networking for Your Future – Part 2

Continuing the conversation regarding the best ways of networking we conclude with the final two options and a summary.

Meetings, I cannot stress strongly enough that if you are having a one on one networking meeting with someone in the world of business try and have that meeting in their office. A meeting in a neutral coffee shop may be fine but they do not have all the information about their contacts immediately to hand. Bearing in mind that one of the primary questions you will always ask at any networking meeting is who else do you think I should be talking with then they should be able to give you that information immediately and also send of a quick email to let the person know that you will be contacting them. If they have to return to their office there are any number of distractions that can influence them before they can help you out.

Snail Mail, or as some of us fondly remember them the Postal Service. In today’s fast paced world of immediate gratification there can often be a greater impact made if you send a card after an interview or meeting that thanks the individuals involved. The chances are it will get read and remembered rather than accidently deleted. Snail Mail is also useful to send a well printed resume on quality paper if necessary.

In summary, there are multiple methods of networking and each is appropriate to a particular circumstance. Use email to say thank you and confirm meetings, use a telephone to set up meetings or have a long distance networking meeting, use face to face meetings whenever possible, they are without doubt the best and most productive choice available, and finally the reliable postal service for delivering the extra special note, thank you letter or printed resume.

Barry

– Your Virtual Job Coach

Poets Day Picks

Here’s is this weeks collection of Poets Day Picks.

Bill provides examples of being up front about your expectation of work life balance with potential employers.

From Guerilla Job hunting 10 most desirable stregnths recruiters want to see. Don’t fluff a great opportunity to shine.

Tim from Spherion gives us some common career fair mistakes by candidates.

Via Anthony, The Central Valley Business Times highlights even a single typo can derail you before you start, and a great list of resume gaffs from Bill, just to demonstrate using spell-checker only is not enough.

And Louise gives more proof that a tailored resume (and Cover letter) is better.

You’d have thought there were somethings that didn’t need to be said anymore, guess not everyone heard it – DON’T use your work email when job hunting.

Have a great weekend

Avoiding the post interview crash.

In talking with job seekers, interviews are the most stressful part of the job search. Not only are the interviews themselves stressful, but the impact they have on you and your continued search is often overlooked.

For example, you’re busy with your job search and you get the call to come and interview for a position you applied to previously.

Depending on how much preparation you’ve already done, you now focused all your attention on that one job and the impending interview. You start to research the company, the position, maybe network to find insider information, start preparing your answers to interview questions and coming up with your own list of questions.

This one interview, admittedly very important, becomes all consuming, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else. When the interview is over, all that energy and emotion you expended to get ready for, and through, the interview leaves you quite anxious, drained and your job search stalled. – This is the post interview crash.

Dealing with the anxieties and picking up the pieces of your stalled job search, when your in this frame of mind, is tough to do. As with almost everything else some preparation before hand will help enormously later.

Remember that after your interview you still have all the other opportunities to get back to. Before you redirect any energy to the interview, look at your list of activities and prioritize them. Plan your time between now and the day of the interview, and even work a few extra hours to prepare for the interview and allow enough time to keep the important search activities going.

One of the best pieces of advice I heard, to get you beyond this post interview crash, is to perform a review and wrap-up session, (you can do this solo or with a friend) and mentally put the interview out of your mind. Unless you have access to insider information to tell how things are going with the selection, there is very little you can do about what will happen next, so dwelling on it won’t help at all.

The review and wrap-up starts with sending out the thank you letters, and are best done later that day. Then looking back at the interview, make notes about areas where you feel you could have done better and how. What activities do you plan to do if they call you back for a second interview? Create a calendar event to follow-up when you agreed and call your references to keep them in the loop (a quick call now will come in handy later).

Avoiding the post interview crash may be impossible, but dealing with it is your next best strategy.

Networking for Your Future – Part 1

Networking can be best thought about as a series of interactions between you and other people that move your job search or career goals forward. Networking is not just for those in job search mode but also and as importantly for those who are looking to the future.  85% to 95% of new job opportunities are in some way directly related to networking.  A basic rule of networking that should be rigorously applied is Offer to help others as much as you expect others to help you.

The goal of networking in the job search world is to find that next exciting position and everything you do needs to be focused on expanding your network until you find The Right One.

The majority of men, less so women, seem not to be biologically attuned to the concept of networking. I am not sure if it is because we (men) think we may appear weak if we ask someone for advice or if there is some deeper seated explanation. I sometimes remark to my clients that the best invention for a man was a GPS as we no longer have to ask for directions and this seems to bring the point home.

Back to the topic, in today’s world there are typically four methods of communication:

Email, without a doubt email is the favorite tool of the shy networker. It protects us from rejection and gives us easy excuses as to why someone may not have replied, it may have gone in their junk mail, it may have been accidentally deleted, etc. Email has its place not least of which is to send thank you notes and follow up messages to people you have just me and to those who introduced you.

Telephone, where we call someone to set up a networking meeting or where they may be too far away for a face to face we have a more detailed conversation. Often the best method of communication but also can be frustrating with the proliferation of voicemail and it seems the interminable length of time that it takes someone to respond.

The second part of this post follows soon and provides the final methodologies and a summary.

Barry

– Your Virtual Job Assistant

Objective or Summary Statement. Part II

The first part (here) looked at when you would use, and what makes a good objective statement, this post will look at summary statements.

The summary statement is three to five lines to give the reader a quick and accurate understanding of you and what you can do. Think of this like your mini bio, sound-bite or commercial. It’s going to be in prime real estate at the top of the resume and so it needs to grab the readers’ attention.

If objective statements were best used when the audience was large, then the summary statement is better suited to when you’re applying for a specific position. This means tailoring each summary statement to the specific position. While this will mean tweaking your resume somewhat, you’ll end up with a better resume more closely matching what the employer needs.

When you construct a summary statement there is a lot of information that you can include such as who you are, what you can achieve, where you’ve worked previously, people or technical skills, areas of expertise, achievements, traits or characteristics. Knowing what to leave out becomes as much of a decision as what to include.

The most effective summary statements are “in-tune” with the remainder of the resume. The accomplishments, skills and experience, you detail in the resume, should match your summary statement. Expanding on some areas and introducing other skills that support your credentials

Like the objective statement avoid fluffy cliché or overused phrases such as “team player’ “people person”, “detail-oriented”, and “dedicated”. While they may sound great they don’t really add any value to the statement and are qualities the employer is going to expect you to have anyway.

Some other great articles about objective and summary statements

College Recruiter via Resume to Referral

Monster Blog

Being bold

12 Days of Job Hunting. Days 9 to 12

9th Day. So far we have written a resume, developed our marketing pitches and constructed a networking list, moving forward we are now going to start building our target company lists and add some other items to the mix including cover letters and some general tips. The primary task for Day 9 is to identify a list of organizations that you wish to target as potential employers. This is important at a number of levels, firstly it provides you with a focus, and you are not shooting resumes every which way rather you are focused on networking your way into an organization and insuring that your pitch, resume and cover letter (coming soon) are targeted. We are also going to use this list as part of our networking activities.

10th Day. The days are rushing by and as we call or email our network contacts our primary goal is to set up meetings either in person or if that is not practical by phone. With our target company list we can now provide a focus to our contacts on the types of people we are trying to connect with. Often when we ask the question “who else should I be talking with?” you are met with a blank stare as your contact has not been prepared. With the target company list we can now provide this information in advance and have a better chance of success in getting that elusive next step. To summarize, Day 10 is focused on setting up networking meetings and from now on we should allocate a portion of the day to setting up those meetings. Set a weekly goal as to the number of meeting you need to make in order to build out your network.

11th Day. Let us now start stretching our wings and adding some additional tools to our arsenal. As part of reaching out to our contacts it is necessary for us to utilize as many tools as possible and LinkedIn dot com and Plaxo dot com are two well known and business focused web sites. Build out your profile and connect with ex-colleagues from previous employers. This works just as well if you are employed and looking for the next great opportunity, make sure that your digital profile is out there and up to date. Recruiters troll the networking sites looking for strong potential candidates and in my experience I have seen senior level appointments being made as a result of these profiles. Our final piece of marketing collateral is the cover letter. Many recruiters will tell you that they never read it and they are a waste of time, others will say that they are crucial to the decision as to inviting the candidate in for an interview. As we are unable to determine which recruiter is which from an advertisement it is better to err on the side of caution and prepare a strong letter that clearly lays out your qualifications for the position. The worst that can happen is that is ignored.

12th Day. The last day in our program, this day is being devoted to summarizing important To Dos and adding some addition tricks and tips.

1. Create a professional email address; barefootwrestler @ xxxxx dot com does not portray a great impression.

2. A resume is not a chapter in a book. Focus on information that is relevant to your future employer. They do not want a life story. Ensure that your industry key words are in the resume.

3. The cover letter should clearly lay out your qualifications for the position.

4. The “Why I am no longer with?” and “Tell me about yourself” pitches should be practiced and focused on delivering success. No criticism of previous employers.

5. A solid list of contacts to build your network is vital.

6. Create a list of target companies.

7. Build your digital profile (You own your brand, make it work for you)

8. Set achievable targets and keep to them.

9. Network, network and network.

10. Success is directly proportional to the amount of effort you invest.

Good Hunting.

Objective or Summary Statement?

Not sure if you should use an objective or summary statement in your resume. Like all good advice, there isn’t a single answer and the appropriate answer depends on your situation, and who will see your resume.

Objective and summary statements occupy prime real-estate on the resume, the top third of the first page. This is about as much as the reader will see in the 10 -20 seconds they spend on their first pass. Getting the reader to keep reading your resume, or to put it in the pile for further review is critical. A poorly written objective or summary statement will derail you just as you get started.

So when do you choose to use one over the other?
I agree with Steve, on when to use an objective statement
“The only time I can envision an objective statement being useful is when you are submitting your resume into a large pool.  If you are submitting directly to the hiring manager, it won’t tell him/her anything the presence of your resume does not.  Don’t waste the space.  If, on the other hand, you are submitting to a large pool such as Dice or Monster or a large company like Microsoft where many hiring managers will be looking at your resume for disparate positions.”

and if your a recent graduate, then consider the College Recruiter article suggest
“An objective statement is very limiting and is often the weakest portion of the new graduate resume,…” “If you limit yourself with your objective to one type of job, you are greatly handicapping your prospects for success since most new graduates are quite flexible in the type of position they are seeking or the company for which they would like to work. By using an objective statement, you are narrowing your opportunities at a time in your career when you truly have all sorts of choices.”

So what makes a good objective statement?
The general consensus on objective statements is to keep it short and relevant to the employer. It can be as simple as the job title, and may be extended to include the industry or field. “A senior architect position, designing office and manufacturing space.” or “Senior web developer”. This also makes it easier for recruiters using keywords to find your resume from the millions of others.

Objective statements to avoid are general fluffy statements such as “I want a career that will utilize my skills”, or ” “challenging and rewarding job that will” or “obtain a challenging position in “. None of these convey to the employer what you do, and how they relate to the position in consideration, nor do they help with any keyword searches.

More on the summary statement tomorrow…

Are you the right fit?

Inc Magazine has an article about the Science of Hiring in a past issue.

It acknowledges what most people already know, the traditional interview is a poor indicator of a persons future job performance, tells you little to nothing about the candidate, and most interviewers aren’t as good at interviewing as they think they are.

The article suggests a better process would include four elements: conducting behavioral interviews, mixed with some carefully chosen cognitive and personality tests, some “on the job task testing” and finally conducting more extensive background an reference checking. One of the people quoted in their article asks for 12 references and would probe each one until they got some “negative” comment about the candidate; else it’s not a credible reference.
All the examples cited in the article, achieved lower turnover rates and longer average staff tenures by adopting more stringent assessment.

When you’re out of work the financial, emotional and psychological pressures to find another job are enormous, which can lead you to waste your time and chase ill-suited opportunities. You might think your best tactic is to target employers who only use the traditional interview and conduct just one or two interviews before making a decision, thereby avoiding employers who have more stringent and varied elements to the selection process.

If getting a job, “any job” is your goal, then this could be a good tactic, but you’re likely to end up one of around 75% who each year say they are dissatisfied with their job, and will be looking to move. Not to mention your job performance may not be up to par, and your employer is also thinking you should move on.

On the other hand if you really wanted to find an employer that could offer you the type of work you really want (even if you didn’t exactly know what it was), in an environment suited to your personality and were likely to be happier for longer, it would make sense to seek out employers with the better selection process.

For successful candidates going through a more stringent selection process will benefit more than just getting the job, they’re likely to be happy about it for longer, and it confirms the position is right for them at this stage of their career.

For the unsuccessful candidates, the hardest pill to swallow maybe accepting you’re chasing entirely the wrong job with the wrong companies.
Not something you might find out if you only ever had the cursory traditional interviews at each job-change.

12 Days of Job Hunting. Days 7 & 8

7th Day. This is not the day of rest rather this is the day of building your marketing pitches. There are two components to this process. The first is “Why did you leave xxxx?” What we are looking for here is a short, concise and accurate answer that does not raise red flags in the mind of any interviewer. If you have been let go as part of a reduction in workforce then let interviewer know, something like “As I am sure you are aware xxx have been reducing their workforce recently and unfortunately this has directly affected me.” If you were let go for other reasons then a simple, non confrontational explanation that does not in any way hint of blame or criticism is the best approach. The second pitch that we are discussing is the answer to the question “Tell me about yourself”. The underlying questions here are “Why should I hire you?” or “What value are you brining to the table?” The goal is to provide a short, one and a half to two minute recitation of your career that highlights, remember the interviewer is looking to hear about your strengths, abilities and skills and how they will benefit the organization. They are not looking to know when you last had a vacation (unless it is pertinent to the position) but they do want to hear what you did at what job that is relevant to them.

8th Day. We have covered a lot at this point and we are now ready to start talking to people about ourselves and opportunities that may exist in the market place. On Day 6 we discussed getting together a list of all your contacts. Bring them together, old and new and put them into a contact system designed to help you network, something that provides you with calendars, to-do lists, reminders, etc. (www.vitualjobcoach.com is a great place to start). The average person knows around 200 people and that should be sufficient to get you started. It is often said that Networking is the key to finding a job and in my time as an Outplacement consultant I can confirm that to be true. Well over 90% of my clients find their next position through a friend of a friend, or an alumni group, or through another organization that they belong to. Remember that you are never approaching someone to ask for a job, you are always asking for advice, this is less threatening and the majority of people are more than happy to dispense advice for free. The next point to remember about networking is the most important question. “Who else should I be talking to?” this is the question that gets you to the next step. See you on Day 9. Good Hunting.