Rev up your job search during Christmas time

By on Dec 12, 2011 in Job Search

Many people believe the myth that companies stop hiring during the whirlwind of winter holidays. Although hiring does taper in December, hiring activity never really stops — something to consider if you’re considering ramping up the job hunt in the new year.

This is the time when companies finalize their budgets for the coming year or make last minute cutbacks to improve the year-end bottom line. But, they’ll also know if they’ll be hiring or expanding their employee base in the near future.

The economy and labour market may still be fragile, but many companies may start their talent recruitment campaigns before the recession actually ends as they attempt to secure the best talent before the competition does.

The smart job seeker can take advantage of having an edge over their competitors who have become lax in searching. Here are some job tips for the year-end job seeker.

Beef up your portfolio.
Print and take home personal files on your computer and locate copies of your performance appraisals and other personnel records. At the same time, update your CV with all of the past year’s skills and accomplishments. Make PDFs of any work samples, presentations, published work and research.

Begin immediately.
If the bad news is that most layoffs occur during the last three months of the year, the good news is that the period towards the end of the year is one of the best times to find a job. “Because budget approvals expire at the end of the year, there is a sense of urgency among hiring managers and recruiters,” explains Human Resources expert Lori Kocon. “Yet while HR is usually in full recruiting mode, most people put their job searches on hold during the holidays. The result is it’s more of a candidate’s market.”

More Advice and Complete CareerBuilder Article

Follow Your Passion Is Bad Career Advice For Most People

Caroline Ceniza-Levine, Contributor   

I recently spoke on a panel on “How to Advance At Every Stage in Your Career” generously hosted by Google for diversity professionals in advertising. Topics ranged from job search to career progression to mentorship and giving back, and at every turn, most of the advice centered around passion. How do you distinguish yourself from the competition? Show your PASSION! How do you change careers? Win naysayers over with your PASSION! How do you get a promotion? Be more PASSIONATE!

I have to say that I too contributed to the passion parade because I said (and I still stand by this) that if you ask 10 recruiters who they would choose between the average skilled but much more passionate candidate v. the highly skilled but lukewarm candidate, all 10 would pick the passionate one.

But a focus on passion is dangerous and outright bad advice for most people.

The recruiting observation I made about how passion wins in the end is based on comparing two candidates that both meet the skill requirements BEFORE passion plays into the equation. If you don’t have the skills, expertise or background for the job, you can jump up and down with all the passion in the world and it won’t make a difference.

Read the rest of the Forbes article

Caroline Ceniza-Levine helps people find fulfilling and financially-rewarding career paths, as the co-founder of SixFigureStart®, career coaching by former Fortune 500 recruiters.  She is the co-author of “Six Steps To Job-Search Success” 2011, Flat World Knowledge and of the best-selling “How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times” 2010, Two Harbors Press.  She is also a stand-up comic with Comic Diversity.  Caroline welcomes your comments and questions.

Brad Pitt Did It: 3 Smart Tips to Reinvent Your Career

Brad Pitt recently announced that he’s planning his retirement from acting.

That’s right. Brad Pitt, mega star of mega stars, is planning to leave acting in favor of his other great love, producing.

While this intended career change has left many reeling, simply ask yourself: why not?  Why shouldn’t Pitt (or, for that matter, anyone) leave their current job for something else that could be more meaningful or satisfying? Are we really meant to work in one mode for a lifetime?

I don’t think so. In the end, it’s better to be happy with what you do than to boast a lifelong, monotonous career, right?

While mid-life career switches can seem dizzingly romantic and exciting, they can also be frustrating, fruitless, and terrifying if done the wrong way.

Check out these three tips to reinvent your career the smart way:

The worst thing you can do for yourself is to quit your job and expect to smoothly transition into a new career. Spend the beginning of your transition research your options. Absorb as much information as possible about the career of your dreams, different companies that would hire you for the attitude and aptitude you have, and the industry (if you’re switching that as well).

Use your Google skills to find industry publications, blogs, and influential people. Hop onto your favorite social media platforms to find and start networking with peers, mentors, companies, and employers.

Read the top-rated books related to your newly chosen career path.  Schedule informational interviews and attend industry-specific conferences. Since you’re not starting as a new grad, you have more ground to cover. So, you will have lots of questions. Maintain a list of the questions for which you do not have answers after all your research. When you interact with peers, opinion leaders, and employers at these conferences, be prepared with good open-ended questions to ask.  This will help you to start conversations and engage people with a purpose at networking functions.

After polishing off the majority of your research, it’s time to figure out what you need to get hired. Brad Pitt isn’t going to jump into producing without any skills—he’s been working with producers for years, learning the ropes. Just like Brad, you need to hone your skills and develop your brand in this new discipline.

It could require a class or two (or a new degree) or work experience back at the bottom of the proverbial career ladder. It’s never too late to intern, so don’t rule out internships. They are sometimes your best option to get the experience and professional recognition at a new company, or when you are breaking into a new field. Pick experience and opportunities that will improve your skills and make you look more attractive to employers.

More Tips and Complete Career Rocketeer Article

Guest Expert:

Tony Morrison is the Vice President at Cachinko, a unique professional community where social networking and job opportunities come together. His roles include sales, marketing, and business development. He is passionate about building B2B and B2C client relationships and brings this passion to Cachinko where he focuses on helping job seekers to find their ideal job and employers to find, attract, and engage their next rock star candidates. Find him on Twitter and/or connect with Cachinko on Facebook or Twitter.

Getting hired when you’re over 50

True, older job seekers face a few extra obstacles. But you may be able to overcome them by turning your age to your advantage. Here’s how.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

FORTUNE — Dear Annie: I read your recent column on bridging the generation gap in the workplace between young bosses and older employees. It struck a nerve with me, because, frankly, I’d be delighted to work for a young boss if I could just get one to hire me. I’m 53 and I was laid off last year from a senior marketing management position at a bank. Luckily, I have enough savings to live on for a while, since my job hunt seems to be taking forever.

All goes well until I show up for an interview with a 30-something hiring manager or HR person, and then I hear, “Oops! Sorry, the position has been filled, but thanks for coming in.” I’d like to think this isn’t because, like most people in their fifties, I have a few gray hairs and laugh lines, but it’s hard to draw any other conclusion. Do you and your readers have any suggestions for me? — Not Dead Yet

Dear N.D.Y.: Cold comfort though it may be, a long job hunt is perfectly normal these days, especially for anyone seeking a senior management job. “The higher your rank in your last position, the longer it takes to find a new one,” says Mark Anderson, president of ExecuNet, a national career network for $100,000-a-year-plus senior managers.

ExecuNet’s research shows, for example, that a vice president over age 50 takes 20% longer to get hired than a 41-to-45-year-old job seeker at the same level. But age is only part of the story. The main reason it now takes the average management job candidate at least 10 months to get hired is that “companies are taking longer to fill positions,” Anderson notes. “Many companies who have management openings are not aggressively looking to fill them.”

He points to a new ExecuNet survey that says that only 16% of employers plan to hire executives over the next six months, a big decrease from about 30% earlier this year.

Job interviews can be especially difficult for executives over 50 who have spent their careers moving up through the ranks, or being recruited for better jobs, and thus have had little or no practice at selling themselves while unemployed, say executive coaches Tucker Mays and Bob Sloane.

Sloane and Mays are the founders and principals of OptiMarket, a Darien, Conn., coaching firm that specializes in helping older executives find jobs quickly. They also wrote a book, Fired at 50: How to Overcome the Greatest Executive Job Search Challenge. They offer four tips on making sure your job hunt does not, in fact, last “forever” (even if it seems that way):

1. Preempt the age issue. “If you’re over 50, your age is the elephant in the room. Should you try to sweep it under the rug and hope it doesn’t come up, or wait until it does and address it then?” asks Sloane. The answer: Neither. “All effective salespeople know that the best way to counter an anticipated objection is to address it first.”

Instead of being defensive about your age, make it an asset. In cover letters, on your resume, and especially in interviews, “describe the abilities you’ve gained from experience that will give you an advantage over younger, less experienced candidates,” he says. One example: Problem solving. “At age 50-plus, there are probably few business challenges you haven’t faced,” says Mays.

2. Describe your flexible management style. “There is a perception that over-fifty job seekers are set in their ways and reluctant to change. So talk about how you modified your approach to fit different situations and varied corporate cultures,” Sloane suggests. “You can also mention how you responded to unanticipated problems like a product recall, the loss of a major client, or a new government regulation.” The point is to show that you can roll with the punches as well as, or better than, any 35-year-old.

More Tips and Complete Fortune Article

7 Important Things to Know About Job Hunting Online

Are you looking for a job? You’d better get your “digital brand” in order. That’s the advice of Colleen Aylward, a recruitment strategy expert, who says that your online presence is your most important job search tool.

That place is increasingly on social media sites including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Having a personal website can also help as well, Aylward said.
“Things will never go back to the way they were,” she said. “The world is an online community now, and the future of your employment status is highly dependent on your ability to adapt.”
Aylward offered these tips to those looking to build your online job hunting brand.

  • Streamline your strengths with specific examples,” Aylward said. “It’s not the interviewer’s job to figure out what your strengths might be; it’s the candidate’s job. The days of clever cover letters opening doors are gone. Those resumes and online profiles better be stronger than ever and packed with data and specific accomplishments.”
  • Don’t waste time with external executive recruiters. They don’t find jobs for people,” she said. “You need to get in front of the internal corporate recruiters who are searching for you online. So help them do their job by researching companies online yourself, as well as locating jobs yourself, introducing yourself to a prospective employer and conversing directly with hiring managers — online.”
  • Remember, it’s all about them, not you,” warned Aylward. “Get out of the mindset that matching yourself for a job or interviewing for a job is about you. It’s all about what you can do for them. That means defining your strengths and determining specific areas where you can solve their business problems. And be prepared to demonstrate that you have kept up with technology, industry changes and how the economy has affected them.”
  • Employers think that if you can’t sell yourself, you can’t sell their product. If you can’t market yourself, you can’t market their company,” explained Aylward.

Reverse Engineering a Career

Charlie O’Donnell, First Round Capital

 run into a lot of people trying to switch careers and join a startup.  They’re trying to get product positions and marketing jobs in particular, but they don’t have any prior experience.  That leaves them in the infinite loop of not being able to get the job because you don’t have experience, but not being able to get any experience, etc, etc.

It’s a solvable problem.  You can do nearly absolutely anything within one or two years time–as long as you put your mind to it and construct a plan.  I’ll talk more about this at my upcoming General Assembly talk, but here’s the outline.

One of the inspirations behind the company I started in the career development space was a conversation I had with a Fordham student.  He was interested in venture capital and was a year away from graduation.  I realized that a position at Union Square Ventures was going to be open in a year and that he had a terrific chance of getting it.  He seemed perplexed that they’d even consider hiring someone out of school.  What I told him was that no other people had a year head start.  It was unlikely that *anyone* was thinking out a year ahead that getting that particular job was their goal.  He could decide right then and there that he was going to get that job in one year–he just had to do all sorts of stuff to be the number one recruit–after figuring out what that was.  It was an exercise in reverse engineering.

This can apply to most jobs–save for things like coding and design that tend to be more hard skill based.  However, I’d make the case that if you really did dedicate yourself to something, you could make a lot of headway in two years time–especially if you had some natural inclination.  Me, I can’t draw my way out of a stick hat, so I’d be a lost cause–but a creative person could do a lot with design classes in two years.

In any case, you’re going to have to start out with a very detailed job spec.  You need to know exactly what someone in this role is doing now–and there’s no better way to do that then to just ask.  If you want to be in venture capital, ask a bunch of junior VC types what they actually do all day, and ask a bunch of partners what they expect the junior VC types to do all day (I wonder if this would come anywhere close to matching up.)  Write down all the tasks done, skills used, etc. and see which ones overlap the most.
Those are the “requireds” and the rest are the “preferred”.  See if you can group these attributes into types.  Some product managers might be more technical, working on feature requirements and interfacing with the engineering team, while others might be more like brand managers who are the GM of their brands.  Not every employee needs to be the same, but everyone needs to be awesome in some way–just figure out the various types of awesome that fit into that particular role.