Informational Interviews Using LinkedIn

Article Contributed by Peggy McKee, http://www.career-confidential.com
One of the many, many fantastic applications of LinkedIn is that you can use it to land informational interviews. Informational interviews are just what they sound like: they are interviews that you conduct to gather information, usually about a job or a career field you’re interested in. They last 20-30 minutes, and give you an opportunity to get answers about what a typical day is like, what the person likes or dislikes about the field, and what it takes to be successful. You can also use it as a mentoring session and ask for their advice on your situation and your best career/job search moves. Research tips for informational interviews to help you compile your list of questions. Informational interviews are strictly for you to get the “inside scoop” from someone who knows, and they help you to expand your network. (FYI: If you’re lucky, you might get a job lead, but it’s bad form to go into the interview expecting this person to help you get a job.)
But how do you go about setting up an informational interview if you can’t do it through your current contacts?
Use LinkedIn. Once you create a profile, you can make connections and introduce yourself to people on LinkedIn, and then ask them directly for an informational interview. Most people are flattered to be asked, and won’t mind talking to you for 20 minutes. If they’re really pressed for time, they might offer to answer questions by email–which you should definitely follow through on. Also, you can join groups and participate in discussions, and post your questions there. This can be an especially effective tactic for entry-level job seekers. I’ve seen some really great LinkedIn discussions packed with valuable information for job seekers.
LinkedIn pages are tremendous sources of information on people you’d like to interview and companies you’re interested in. Once you’ve set up your interview, use LinkedIn to prepare for it just as thoroughly as you would for a job interview. Get all your ducks in a row so that you don’t waste that person’s time by asking questions you can look up the answers to. Coming to the interview prepared with background knowledge and intelligent questions leaves them with a great impression of you as a confident, competent go-getter they will remember (in case they run across a job opportunity for you later).
After the interview, remember to send a thank you letter. If you can, include a relevant article or a solution to a company problem–something helpful to them. Then, include them in your network by routinely contacting them every few months. A successful informational interview gains you valuable information and an expanded professional network–and who knows where that might lead?
Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by CollegeRecruiter.com, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

JOB TALK: Why wasn’t I hired?

BY KATHRYN HARRIS
Contributing columnist


During today’s tough economy, we are forced to consider some difficult questions with our job search.
• Why wasn’t I hired?
• What can I do to improve myself?

• Can I learn from my experience or mistakes? 
Everyone applying for work cannot possibly be invited to interview, and even less people are actually offered the job. There simply are not enough jobs and when jobs are so scarce, we should consider a personal assessment to explore any area worth improving. Feedback can be a catalyst to personal growth. 
So why weren’t you hired? You may have done everything right, presented yourself professionally and appropriately and still not have been offered the job. There are a number of reasons — one reason to consider is your competition.
Many applicants will be more qualified, have more education, skills, talent and present themselves in a dynamic way that captivates the attention of the hiring professional.
Remain hopeful as most employers love soft skills above all else, and here is where you can outshine your competition.  Ask yourself some questions — and give yourself some real honest answers.
• Did you do your absolute best?
• Did you invest your all into the preparation and your presentation?
• Did you thoroughly consider interview questions, practice ahead of time and communicate effectively?
• Did you convince the prospective employer that being a team-player is important?
• Did you convince the employer you are dependable?
• Did you look your absolute best?
• Did you arrive on time, without friends or family? 
• Was your personal hygiene, appearance and grooming in good order?
• Did you project energy and charisma?
• Did you really dress for success? 
These areas could be great opportunities for making improvements. Consider goals for personal fitness, a new and updated hair style, ironing your clothing and practice interview questions.  Check with a friend about keeping your child. Preparation, practice and persistence are your keys to success.
Is your application clear, concise and complete in communicating your objectives, goals and your employment history? Your application is the only item between you and the actual interview.  Make certain your answers reflect what you are searching for and who you are as an applicant.  Your application will make a difference over the competition.
If you think you are qualified and an excellent candidate — maybe you need to consider what, if anything was on your application that could have been used to eliminate you.
• Did you limit yourself by your shift preference?
• Did you eliminate yourself by your salary requirement? 
• Do you have misspelled words or illegible handwriting? 
• Did you list business references or did you list your friends?
These are tough questions — but, you need to ask yourself — the answer could make a difference. 
If you didn’t get the job — some personal evaluation should be considered.
Focus on areas that you know may need some improvement for the next application or for the next interview. If you did your absolute best and feel that you were beat by the competition,  accept the decision graciously. Consider asking the employer to give you feedback so that you can improve for the next invitation to interview. All employers will not comply.
When the decision is communicated and you are told you did not get the job, you should respond with the same professionalism, maturity and respect in which you responded to the actual invitation to interview. Consider the lasting impression if you send a note, an e-mail or make a telephone call and let the employer know that you appreciate the opportunity to interview, and you were impressed by the company and would certainly like to be considered for a position in the future.  You may be the runner up — and the offer may fall through in any stage of the background investigation. 
There is probably nothing more devastating to an individual than rejection. None of us like rejection or hurt feelings. When it comes to job-seeking, we need to be able to ask the tough questions and be courageous enough to consider the truth. We must consider how we can improve if we hope to make positive changes, attain personal growth and present ourselves for a successful future.
• Harris is a human resources manager with Unique Industries, Inc. with more than 20 years of human resources experience. She has volunteered as a career counselor for 10 years at various local nonprofit organizations. Contact her at Job_Talk@ymail.com or become a Facebook fan of Job Talk.


Original Article

To Find My Dream Job, I Didn’t Just Dream

By JEFF D. OPDYKE

If you can dream it, you can live it.
How often do we hear that? How often are we told that we can’t live our dream unless we first visualize it in our head?
It’s no doubt true. But I also can tell you that visualizing your dream isn’t enough. You have to work at making dreams real. You have to sweat.
And that brings me to the subject of this column.

In my last column two weeks ago, I told the story of leaving The Wall Street Journal, my home for 17 years, in order to find a new job that better meshed with my family’s needs and my wants.

Lots of people, of course, dream of chucking their current job for something else. But dreaming is all they do. They then wait for the fates to hand them the perfect job.
It won’t work, though, because they aren’t out shaking the trees. In fact, they’re not even in the orchard. They’re effectively waiting for the fruit to fall on its own — and for a brisk wind to blow the fruit across the fields and over the fence and to place it gently in their lap.
Good luck.
As my grandmother told me when I was growing up: You’ve got to work for what you want, because nobody’s outside your door waiting to give it to you.
So this is the story of how I took my grandmother’s advice. It is the story of how I finally, after many years, decided to work for what I really wanted. It is the story of how I sweated.

* * *

Here’s my passion: international investing. Yes, it’s geeky, but I love the idea of investing directly in markets overseas. I’ve been doing it since 1995, and I’ve written a book about it. I’ve always thought working in that world would be the perfect way for me to make a living.
I would occasionally ask people in the field of international investing about opportunities…but nothing ever popped up.
Then again, I wasn’t trying. My heart was never really into a job search, because I was content with what I was doing. I always felt fortunate to be making good money at a job I loved, for a paper I respected, in the city — Baton Rouge, La. — where I wanted to live.
That changed earlier this year for reasons I noted in my last column: mainly that I saw no opportunities to advance my career without moving back to the East Coast — a move that I felt would hurt my family, both emotionally and financially.
So my mind-set changed. I began to seriously think about combining my talent for reporting and writing with my passion for international investing. I never laid out a precise job description, because I didn’t want to restrict my search. Since I had no idea what kinds of jobs might exist, I wanted to hear about anything that could interest me in any way.
And then I started shaking the trees.

* * *

The way I figure it, the best jobs are the word-of-mouth jobs, the ones that often exist only in a manager’s head, the “wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if-we-had-someone-to-do-X-if-only-we-could-find-the-right-person” job.
The trick is making sure those managers know you, to get your name into their heads alongside their imaginary jobs.
That’s where the sweat comes in. I began by contacting anybody I could think of, emailing and calling friends and acquaintances all over the globe. I talked to public-relations executives and headhunters, portfolio managers and ex-journalists. I talked to sources I hadn’t spoken to in more than a decade.
It often seemed like an enormous waste of time. Nobody knew of any current openings — not surprising, given the vagueness of my job description. And there were many moments when I felt like I didn’t have the time or energy to make yet another call, write yet another email.
But I knew that I needed to make sure that as many people as possible knew I was looking.
And then one morning an email popped up from a source I had talked to several months earlier about my wishes. He told me to expect a phone call.
At an investment conference he had just attended, an executive of a newsletter company mentioned to him that his firm was looking to add a writer who understood overseas markets. My source gave him my name.
And with that began a very quick courtship. I flew to Miami to meet the executive, who brought his boss — the publisher — into the interview. The boss felt I had more to offer the firm than just writing about international markets. She sketched out my job duties.
I would become a senior editor, working on a newsletter about international investing. I would help mentor younger writers. I would travel whenever and wherever I wanted, and take on some of her duties meeting with banking executives around the globe. I would be eligible for bonuses, a perk I never had in newspaper journalism.
It sounded ideal. It wasn’t a job I ever knew existed. And it probably never had, except in the boss’s head.
The next morning the offer arrived — and I couldn’t say no. It offered me everything I could want in a job, and I could do it from Baton Rouge. The funny thing is, two days later an investment firm called to offer me a communications job, a new position they thought I would be perfect for.
And that’s my point: When looking for a new job, if you define your career interests broadly and then shake every tree you can find, the fruit will start falling.
You just have to be there with a big net to catch the ones that look interesting.
Write to Jeff D. Opdyke at jeff.opdyke@wsj.com

Original WSJ Article

How to Get the Job You Find

Brian Ray

Hooray! You find a great-for-you job online. Now, how do you hook and reel it in?
Here’s what you don’t do. Immediately click ‘Apply.’ Fill out form. Attach or paste your resume. Then you wait, and wait, and wait, and… well, you get the idea. Instead, try these 3 job-landing tips:

Job-Landing Tip #1: Do your homework.

Be an A+ candidate! Just 15+ minutes could pay you big bucks in a new job. Start by going to employer’s website and clicking key tabs:

  • About Us – Check out their services, products and markets. Learn how big they are: annual sales or budget and number of employees. Find out whether they are local, regional, national, or global. Review their vision, mission and values. If you are still interested, make a list of what you like, as well as questions you have.
  • Press or Newsroom – Look for recent news about financial reports and special announcements. Is their growth up, down or sideways? What are their plans for the future? Are there new executives that recently joined (who want want to make changes in their departments)? Are there special opportunities you see for you?
  • Career or Jobs – look for the job you found online. Look for other jobs that interest you. Checkout their benefits and training.
  • Go to Google. Type in the employer’s name to search ‘Web and News’ for more information.
  • Print most relevant information and put in file folder marked with employer name. Very handy for resume writing and interviews. Make notes on key people related to job you want.
  • Beware: If the job posting you find does not identify the employer, type key words from posting in Google, and see if employer name pops up. If not, then drop it. May be a scam!

Job-Landing Tip #2: Rewrite Your Resumes

Based on your homework, you can hook employers by customizing each resume for each job and employer. It might be another 15+ minutes extra work per resume… but worth it when you get the call for interviews.

  • Copy keywords from the job posting that are true of you. Paste them in your resume.
  • Connect what you do and like best with what the employer seems to need most for the Objective or Summary section of your resume.
  • Resumes that get results show results. Highlight accomplishments on page 1 of your resume that are most relevant to the employer and job.
  • If you saw news or special announcements related to your experience, abilities or interests, mention them in your cover letter.

Job-Landing Tip #3: Network for Personal Referrals

Ask everyone you know and new people you meet. Keep an active list of employers with jobs and names of key employees. A private corporate study revealed that if jobseekers had a personal referral into the company, the odds of them getting hired was 42 times greater than those with no referral. Try networking everyday for at least 15+ minutes at least a couple of weeks. It’s like mining for gold. You shovel a lot of dirt to find the golden nugget. But it is worth it.

  • Ask appropriately and politely “do you know who is or was at (name of employer)?”
  • Search Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter for employers and names of key employees.
  • Follow up with referrals with phone calls using names of referring people. Remember, it is the personal referral that reels them in.
  • Your ultimate goal is to find the hiring manager for the job in which you are interested. When you all-of-a-sudden find them, you will be ready with your customized resume.

By the time you make the right connections in the employer’s organization, you might be asked to submit your resume through their website job posting. That’s the perfect time to click ‘Apply’, because now someone is looking for you.

Original Article

IRS announces new job search tools

The Internal Revenue Service has announced a new job search tool available on YouTube to help job seekers learn about work opportunities at the IRS.

As many recent high school and college graduates seek employment, the IRS’s new YouTube playlist, Working at the IRS ( http://www.youtube.com/IRSVideos#g/c/C229B1637C71A518 ), provides information about various career paths available throughout the nation’s tax administration agency.
The playlist features “Day in the Life” videos in which IRS employees discuss their jobs, the diversity of the IRS workforce and the culture of the agency.
The IRS has more than 100,000 full-time and seasonal employees and hires new employees throughout the year for positions including revenue agents, revenue officers, criminal investigation special agents, financial analysts and economists.

Original Article

Top 100 career advice blogs

1. Career Realism – “We are the only career advice blog that ‘approves’ their experts, writes Career Realism’s founder, J.T. O’Donnell, who has been cited in The New York Times, CNN.com, MSNBC.com, and various other popular publications. “We make each expert apply to our program and we personally review their credentials and writing style to ensure they match with our goal of providing cutting-edge career advice. We have over 30 experts who provide advice on a daily basis and are currently ranked as one of the top 5 career advice blogs on the Internet.” Her tips for the unemployed? “Unemployed job seekers need to focus on connecting with people they don’t know,” she explains. “It’s easy to network with friends and family, but to find a job you have to expand your network. Start by asking people you do know to introduce you to the one person they think you should meet.” Recommended posts: “Resume Tips for a Career Change,” and “20 Powerful Action Verbs to Kick Your Resume Up a Notch!
2. WebWorkerDaily – Although most of the articles touch on unemployment and career advice, blogger Imran Ali also writes about the latest technology tools for UK-based business owners and professionals. This easy-to-use and interactive blog allows readers to click on articles related to a specific topic such as Apps, how-to guides, social media, and browsers, as well as Apple, Google, and Windows products. Recommended posts: “Sincerely, Me: What Our Email Sign-offs Say About Us,” and “DevCheatSheet: More Useful Free Reference Cards.”
3.  Position Ignition –  ”Position Ignition’s career blog offers a host of free information, advice, and guidance for people of all ages and who are serious about their careers,” writes Nisa Chitakasem, one of the co-founders of the site. “We have a number of Guides who all contribute to the blog and who have had real life and career experiences of their own to draw from. Not only are they great career guides and are highly qualified coaches –they have all had very successful careers –being HR Directors, Headhunters, CEOs, COOs, senior managers in top firms and more. The co-founder Simon North has been working in transition and change for over 25 years and has helped many individuals with their careers.” She advises the unemployed to “stay positive and also get focused…Being unfocused and untargeted in the market is the worst thing you could do. Too many people we come across have a scattergun approach – firing out CVs everywhere and applying for anything they can get hold of. What’s more effective is getting clear about what you want, why you want it, why you’re the one to do it and how to get that across effectively in the market. This is what we help people do and they all end up in the right places for them!”  Recommended posts: “5 Popular Career Personality Tests” and “Job searching: Find the Needle.”
4. Career Copilot – Career Strategist and Pro Resume Writer Dan Keller helps job seekers “navigate through the changes and challenges of the job hunt.” Keller’s background includes experience in executive search and corporate recruiting, and offers readers his advice from his own experiences and insight “from the trenches.” He is also the owner of ProResumeWriter.com Recommended posts: “How to find a job on Linkedin,” 5 tips to help you through a career change,” and “Why Job Boards are evil.
5. Punk Rock HR – Forget Sheena, Laurie Ruettimann is the true punk rocker…of the career-advice blogging world. After reading its tagline (“Team building is for suckers”), it becomes apparent that Laurie has a lot to say about the HR world, and isn’t afraid to say it. For the past ten years, she has worked as a “seasoned and cynical HR professional,” and currently serves as a member of The Society for Human Resources Management. Her blog has been listed as one of the “Top 50 Blogs” by Evan Carmichael in 2010, as well as”Top 25 HR Digital” blog awards by HR Examiner, and her writing has been featured in The New York Times, US News & World Report, CFO Magazine, and Men’s Health. Recommended posts: “Mentors: Who Needs ‘Em?” and “You Are Not Allowed to Criticize HR.”

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