Thursday, June 30, 2011

Richard Branson's Advice for Recent Grads

Richard Branson Founder of the Virgin Group, The Virgin Group

Richard Branson occasionally answers readers' questions in his column. This week he writes about founding Student magazine and finding your career path.

Do you have a question for Branson? If so, send yours to and it might be the inspiration for a future column. Please include your name and country.

Q: I feel like I am the only one of my classmates who doesn't have a post-college plan. How did you figure out what you wanted to do as a career?
— Trevor, United States

A: In 1967, when I quit high school at age 17, I knew what my next project would be: founding Student magazine. But I did not know what I wanted to do in the long term.

The headmaster's parting words to me were, "Congratulations, Branson. I predict that you will either go to prison or become a millionaire." I am still not sure whether that could be classed as career advice or not, but it did give me the impetus to prove him wrong on the first point.

When I set up Student magazine, I wanted to work as a journalist. However, we needed to keep the magazine afloat financially, and soon I had to stop reporting and focus on production and financing instead. I stayed involved in the editorial side by landing some of our most important interviews, but for the most part, during Student's early days I honed my skills at business, negotiating and management—all of which would later prove useful as we built the Virgin Group.

I did not feel confident about my business skills, but I did take up the challenge without hesitation. I made that leap probably because my family instilled in me from an early age a sense of adventure that has served me well. My mother was determined that my sisters and I would become very independent, self-reliant people. She was constantly encouraging us to try new things—always sending us off alone on marathon bike rides and long hikes.

Until that point, my personal challenges had always been practical. At school, I had struggled with dyslexia and myopia, and the education system at that time did not recognize learning problems or provide help. So instead of studying, I spent my days dreaming up business plans. During school holidays, I had attempted brief ventures like growing Christmas trees and breeding small Australian parrots.

I was also willing to take on the business manager role at Student because I cared deeply about the venture. My friends and I did not start up the magazine in hopes of making money. My early ventures had taught me that money was only a tool for getting a business going, and that the real reward was doing something fun, creative and positive. I felt that most media organizations were not concerned about young people and did not look to their interests, and I wanted to make a difference.

Three years later, as we started up our record stores, I had the same concerns. I felt that many companies were taking advantage of young people by charging high prices while distancing themselves from those customers. So we sold records at discounted prices and we tried to make our customers happy and comfortable, rather than pushing them to make their purchases and get out of the store as quickly as possible. We explained what we were doing to anyone who asked.

At that time, our business model of offering better value at low prices, welcoming customers and communicating with them frankly was so unusual that it was nearly revolutionary. After Virgin Music and Virgin Records did so well, my ambitions broadened and I began to dream about setting up similarly fresh, fun, competitive ventures in other industries. Our group soon took on many diverse industries, reimagining everything from nightclubs to airlines to mobile phones, all intended for people who embraced our youthful spirit. We worked hard, partied even harder, had fun and made a positive change.
Looking back, my team and I were not interested in pursuing particular careers or succeeding in certain industries. We wanted to make a positive difference in our customers' lives. We discovered our talents and built our careers while pursuing that goal. I'm proud of where Virgin is today, but I'm even more proud of the journey we took to get here. It was one of discovery and positive action.

Today, you and many other young people face the problem of choosing which career path to pursue in a changing world, where the traditional models of business and government are in flux. The rise of the Internet is still constantly opening up new opportunities, and where the West once dominated global markets, a new order is taking shape with the emergence of China, India and Brazil. These changes mean a lot of uncertainty.

Rather than try to position yourself for this changing future, use your remaining years at college to assess where your true interests and passions lie, and to look for opportunities to further develop your knowledge and talents. If you love music but can't carry a tune, use your knowledge of music to promote your favorite band or bring them to your city for a concert.

Read the rest of the AMEX Open Forum article

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Winning Job Search Strategy

You've posted your resume online and are submitting resumes and cover letters for all the job openings that seem to fit you.
Is there anything else you can do to look for a job? Absolutely! In fact, the more diverse your job-hunting strategy, the more effective it's likely to be.
Here are eight tactics you can use to track down job opportunities:

Contact Professional Organizations in Your Field
National, regional and local professional organizations exist in great part to help their members with career development. Many organizations include field-specific job listings on their Web sites or in their printed publications.

Visit Company and Organization Web Sites
Many companies and organizations post their job openings right on their own Web sites (usually under an Employment or Career Opportunities link).

Apply Directly to Organizations That Interest You
Do you know you want to work specifically for Company X or Organization Y? If so, send a well-written cover letter and your resume directly to the company, either to its human resources office or, often more effective, to the person who would likely make hiring decisions for the part of the organization that interests you. It isn't always easy to find the right person to get in touch with; typically, you'll have to do some digging.

Network, Network, Network
Generally the most effective job-hunting approach, networking is simply talking to people to either track down helpful personal contacts or learn about job openings that may not necessarily be widely advertised or advertised at all. Start by talking to your own family, friends and acquaintances. Let everyone in your life know you're looking for a job, and give them an idea of what type of job you want.

Join Professional Associations
If there's a professional organization in your field, join it and start participating in its meetings and other events so you can get to know people in your area of interest. Work with a career counselor at your school to both tap his contacts and learn of alumni from your school who might be able and willing to lend you a hand in your search. Finally, don't forget to tap your professors' connections as well.

Participate in Job Fairs
Many cities, particularly large ones, host job fairs at various locations throughout the year. Most colleges and universities hold their own job fairs as well, either individually or in collaboration with other institutions. A job fair is a rare opportunity to have employers come to you, so make sure you attend whenever possible.

More Tips and Complete Monster Article

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

50 Job Search Tips That Work

Friday, June 17, 2011

Four Job Search Rules You're Better Off Breaking

By Beth Braccio Hering, Special to CareerBuilder
Follow the rules and you are bound to get rewarded, right? Not necessarily. Here, experts offer their take on some traditional advice that might not always be in a job seeker's best interest:

  1. "Do not be too obvious that you are trying to find a job."
While one need not hang a "Hire me!" sign around his neck, valuable networking opportunities can be wasted if a job seeker is overly apprehensive about displaying interest in employment.

"I do think this rule has been dispelled in our down economy where the job search stigma has been eliminated, though some folks are still afraid to advertise their status," says Christine Bolzan, founder of Graduate Career Coaching -- a custom-counseling service for college students and new graduates. "Just yesterday, I was speaking to a father of a current college senior and suggesting to him that he leverage his own network to help his son's search. His response was, 'Oh, no. His mother and I have not told anyone that he does not have a job.' There was a perception that this is an embarrassment or a failure of sorts, which is completely wrong on both accounts."

2. "Provide salary information if the job ad asks for it."
"So many job seekers are under the impression that you show that you can't 'follow rules' if an ad asks you to state your salary history/expectations and you respond without it," states Darrell Gurney, founder of and author of "Backdoor Job Search: Never Apply for a Job Again!" "If you are close enough to the specs, chances are you'll hear back even if you didn't include it. That's what you want, so you can at least begin to deal with a real person rather than set yourself up to be eliminated with no contact whatsoever."

If the lack of a figure comes up when contacted, Gurney suggests a response such as, "Oh, I'm sorry. I'd be happy to provide you with copies of W-2s at an appropriate time. Perhaps we can see if there's some initial alignment on what you're looking for first? Can you tell me more about the role?"

3. "Let the employer run the interview."
"Going in and being a 'good' interviewee is not in your best interests, though (of course) amiability and friendliness are critical," Gurney notes. "Think of it like you were brought in to consult. Going in with questions and interests that you want to have addressed, including a real interest in the interviewer, can go a long way to setting yourself apart from the masses."

David Couper, a career coach and author of "Outsiders on the Inside: How to Create a Winning Career ... Even When You Don't Fit In," adds, "The more you know, the better. Some job hunters think it is OK not to do research because the employer will explain to them about the company. The problem with that approach is that all the information is one-sided. It is what the company wants you to hear, not what the market, customers or employees are saying."

Rule # 4, More Advice and Complete Article

Beth Braccio Hering researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Is the New Career a Perpetual Job Search?

If you’ve been working for more than five or ten years, you likely expect your career to bring stability, company loyalty, and the possibility of upward progression.

Yet in many professions, that’s no longer the standard. At a recent board meeting, two executives echoed this idea. Their words: “There’s no such thing as a career anymore,” and “The traditional career is a thing of the past.”

Any move away from our long-time employment model, where employees stick with one company for their entire career, will take time. It’s affected by the actions of employers, mainly big companies, and politicians who decide what financial protections—like social security—we’ll rely on in the future.
But if trends continue, we’re heading toward a work economy that requires workers to be far more adaptable. It requires us to always be looking, to remain in a state of perpetual job search.

This future work style is less like a traditional career and more like running your own small business. So what new habits do we need to establish to survive?

Instead of revving up the job-search engine every five to ten years, simply leave the motor running. This doesn’t mean you plan to fail (get fired, laid off, etc.), but you set yourself up to succeed in a more interrupted work life. In fact, you may find yourself working for more than one company at the same time, which can be both intriguing and frightening.

To succeed in this new environment, consider developing the following new habits:
Establish and maintain a strong social network. No longer can you find a job and quickly crawl under a rock. You have to stay out there. So let’s figure out a way to enjoy it. Find groups that stir your passions, people that intrigue you, and groups that support your longer-term work objectives. Social networking is not work if you do it right. But you have to keep working on it to see the benefits.

Create a unique personal brand and manage its evolution. What’s your brand promise? What shows your difference from others seeking similar work in your community? As your life moves along, complete annual audits to be sure you still like what you do. Make sure you have the training, certifications, and education to solve the needs of your current company, companies, or clients.

Become comfortable with change. While more permanent jobs are not likely going away, more and more jobs will offer flexible hours, alternate commutes, and contract or short-term employment windows. So you’ll need to have your proverbial bags packed at all times. Instead of hiring movers to get you moved out of an office, you’ll fit it all in your backpack. And you’ll likely become less attached to people as co-workers and more attached to them as new friends (if you get along). They’ll become part of your longer-term network.

Become your own personal benefits administrator. Instead of walking down the hall to ask for clarification on your medical benefits, you may have to answer some questions on your own. While this new economy will likely bring rise to a new sub-industry of health-care support systems, you will need to become well versed in your own benefit plan and know how to use it wisely.

More Advice And Complete USNews Article

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Recruiters Say Job Boards Are Here to Stay

Dan Schawbel

My last Forbes article created quite a stir in the recruitment world and a lot of recruiters left comments and posted their own articles to dispute it. I wrote about how job boards and resumes are no longer useful and how LinkedIn will put them both out of business. Recruiters, on the other hand, believe that job boards are here to stay. In order to get their side of the story, I reached out to two of them who could provide more information and research on the topic.

Chris Russell, a ten year veteran of the online job board industry, is the founder of James Durbin, with twelve years of experience as a recruiter, is the founder of

Why are job boards still important/relevant?

Chris Russell: Because employers still rely on them greatly, especially for small business which typically practices reactive recruiting. When they have a need, they post a job. Plus job boards are good at driving lots of eyeballs to a job listing whether it’s for a certain industry or location. That’s why niche and local sites will always be around.
James Durbin: They are faster signals to the market.  Searching LinkedIn takes time, and only works in targeted searches.  Major job boards tell you who is available, right this second.  Those resumes are a signal from the job seeker, and create good churn in employment markets, since it forces companies to move quickly if they don’t want to lose available candidates. 

How does LinkedIn fit in the job search/recruitment equation?
Chris Russell: From what I hear from the recruiters I talk to it’s used primarily as a sourcing tool, not as a job board.
James Durbin: A fantastic, updated database that in varying degrees, showcases bright and active talents.  The apply button sounds good, but from a technical standpoint, it’s no different than “apply online,” which causes huge amounts of resume spam from candidates not willing to read the job before sending the resume.  LinkedIn is a different kind of database, with different strengths, that has more user data and interaction.  A powerful tool, but still only a portion of the process.

Do you have any research on people getting hired through job boards versus other means?
Chris Russell: I have some testimonials but I’ll also point to Gerry Crispins recent sources of hire study that says 27% of hires are made through job boards. For many of my clients, my job boards are their only source of hire.
James Durbin: Gerry Crispin is the one to go to for this –but be careful – comments like “referrals are our biggest source” doesn’t cover modern social media or employer branding and there’s a limit.  Few companies can ramp up their referral hiring more than it already is.  Folks have been trying that for years. The well goes dry too quickly, and most people overvalue their ability to judge their friends.  

What are companies investing in more, social networks or job boards and why?
To find out the answer read the rest of the Forbes Article

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Target Your Next Employer With a Personal Ad

By Chris Prentice

After graduating from Davidson College in 2009, Marian Schembari sent out scads of resumes and cover letters to the big publishing companies she wanted to work for. No results.
So she decided to sell herself direct.

Using Facebook's self-serve ad technology, she created eight ads in a two-week campaign. They featured her face with a short headline that said "I want to work for..." then listed her favorite companies: HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group, Random House, Inc., Rodale, Inc., Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, McGraw Hill and Hachette Filipacchi Media.

Within two weeks, her ad received thousands of clicks and she had two scheduled interviews. "I was just blown away by the success," said Schembari, 24, who is now a digital account manager at Young & Shand in Auckland, New Zealand.

With the matching process between jobs seekers and employers becoming increasingly difficult, one way to cut through the noise is to take out your own ad on Facebook or LinkedIn. Targeted advertisements can help you reach out directly to your dream employer, instead of passively waiting for a job posting. With 100 million users on LinkedIn and 500 million on Facebook, you're likely to find a hiring manager who wants you.

"Targeted advertising helps you reach the decision-makers in a relevant and engaging way," said Ryan Roslanksy, director of product management for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions in San Francisco.

Facebook has offered precise, targeted self-service ads since 2007. LinkedIn began its targeted ad service in January 2011.

Both sites have a tool that allows you to create an ad, link it to your personal website or LinkedIn or Facebook page, and target specific individuals and hiring managers. For instance, the settings allow you to target women who say they are in a hiring position at an advertising firm in New York.

Clicks or Impressions
You can pay for the ad via credit card, with LinkedIn charging a minimum of $10 a day plus a one-time fee of $5. Facebook costs a minimum of $1 a day. You also have to bid the price of your ad -- thus if someone else is willing to pay more to reach that same female hiring manager at the ad firm, their ad will appear on that person's Facebook or LinkedIn page and not yours.

Payment options are either by "clicks," the number of times someone clicks through to your website, or you can buy "impressions," the number of times your ad appears to your targeted hiring manager or company.

To maximize chances of connecting with the right employer, it's best to buy "clicks" instead of "impressions," said Jacob Young, 34, interim chief executive officer at SocialTown LLC, a Chicago-based social media consulting firm. That way, you're assured employers will click through to your landing page with your resume and related material about your fitness for a particular job.

"If you want to be sure people see your resume, you want to go with the pay per clicks," Young said.
The most important item to include in your ad's headline is the name of the company you want work for, said Schembari. That directness will draw the attention of a potential employer. It's better to simply say "I want to work for [name of organization]" than look for a specific position because it exposes you to more options within a company, said Schembari.

Design a Simple Landing Page
Once a user clicks on your ad, he will find himself on your landing page. Your site should have a copy of your resume and your contact information in an easy-to-read format, Young said. Do not make the process of finding you difficult for a recruiter or an employer.

A personal website as your landing page can be more professional than a LinkedIn or Facebook page, Schembari said. Plus, a well-organized website shows off digital design skills.

Including testimonials of people you have worked with is a good idea as long as they agree, Schembari said. Having such references can spark a potential employer's interest.

And, of course, everyone prefers a happy worker. Make sure you're smiling in the photo you include.

Target Your Employers
Read the Complete Article for more advice

Monday, June 13, 2011

How to network for a new job when you're stuck at work

By Diane Stafford

Two pieces of job-hunting advice are shared routinely:

 It’s easier to land a new job when you’re employed than unemployed.
 Networking is the best way to get a new job offer.

So you want to look while you’re working — but how do you network effectively when your time is monopolized by your current job?

What if you can’t take a long lunch break to attend a professional association meeting?

What if you don’t have access to a computer all day to make contact with others on LinkedIn or Facebook?

Clearly, it’s not easy for some workers to make themselves known outside their current workplaces. But consider:

Can you find professional or fraternal associations or chamber events that meet when you’re not at work?

There are arrays of breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings scheduled around any metro area. Learn what organizations are relevant to your job goals and go to ones that dovetail with your availability.

Can you spend computer time at home or in the nearest library?

Online networking works 24/7. In fact, you can probably do a better job burnishing your Web presence if you’re not worried about the boss looking over your shoulder.
Can you reconnect with past allegiances or associates?

Even if you left school 30 years go, don’t discount the shared bonds you had with class, dorm, fraternity, sorority or athletic team mates.

Can you guide casual conversations toward your employment interests?

More Advice and Complete Article

Diane Stafford's careers columns are published on Sundays in The Kansas City Star. Reach her at Read recent columns at

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Enlisting Recruiters to Support Your Candidacy

By Sharon L. Florentine

Never forget this simple fact about the recruiting industry: Recruiters work for employers, not for job seekers. Nevertheless, some recruiters are willing to take a chance on pushing for a candidate who doesn’t precisely fit the job-description mold.

Take Steven Landberg, for instance. His executive search firm, Claymore Partners, does something better than most of their competitors — Claymore says ‘no’ to its clients.
Actually, the firm positions itself as a strategic partner that is willing to push back. When the client is moving in what Claymore considers the wrong direction or refuses to take their advice, Claymore has made it a practice to end the relationship.

The practice allows Claymore, an executive search and recruiting firm based in Darien, Conn., and focused on financial services, to offer their clients the best possible service, Landberg said. It also protects Claymore's reputation and relationship with the candidates it needs for future opportunities.
Landberg, Claymore's managing director, said four principles guide his firm in maintaining a proper relationship between the executive search firm and its clients and lets Claymore say “no” when it must.

1. Be a strategic partner, not just a vendor.

It's difficult, if not impossible, for a recruiter to be effective if they're treated simply as a vendor, Landberg said. They might get lucky flinging warm bodies at companies with open positions, but the “quantity” approach doesn't benefit anyone in the long run.

"For us to be effective, we insist on knowing not just the skills and qualifications needed, but the value proposition for candidates who might join the organization," he said. "Why is the position open? What is the next logical upward move from that position? What is the culture of the organization? Why would a candidate want to work there?"

Landberg's firm insists on holding thorough intake sessions with each of his clients before he begins any search, and he's refused to work with job seekers who are opposed to this practice.

This information can be helpful when guiding the job seeker through the interview stage.

"It has to be a collaborative relationship with in-depth intake sessions, ongoing reviews, open communication and feedback, so we are constantly refining and targeting what we're looking for. One long-term client had a number of positions open, but they refused to do these 'intake sessions,' so we said we weren't going to even attempt to begin a search."

2. Insist on a fair, respectful and positive candidate experience.

Regardless of the economy, top-quality candidates are always in demand, Landberg said, and it’s as important to develop a strategic partnership with job seekers as it is with hiring managers.

"The experience candidates have with you and your client impacts their interest in joining that organization now and in the future, as well as when they interact with other potential candidates and other organizations," he told TheLadders. Landberg said he has been shocked at the treatment some candidates have received at the hands of his (now former) clients.

"Over the last two months we've gotten rid of clients we felt were treating candidates poorly," he said. "That creates a culture of negativity — one bad experience reaches many more people than a good experience does, so it affects their reputation as well as ours as a recruiter. We demand courtesy and respect from our candidates, and it should be no different with our clients."

Tips 3 - 4 and Complete Ladders Article

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The questions to avoid in your interview

Written by Kaitlin Madden
For job seekers, asking questions during an interview is a cardinal rule. Doing so shows that you're interested in the position ("What would you want from me if I were to land this job?"), that you've been paying attention during the interview ("You said X, Y and Z. Can you expand on that?") and that you've researched the company ("I heard that you're expanding your core business. How has that affected marketing efforts?").

There is, however, a clause to the "questions" rule, which is this: Never ask any of the following during a job interview, or you'll jeopardize your chances of landing an offer.

1. How long has the company been around?
It's not that it's taboo to ask about the company's history, but you should avoid asking questions that could easily be answered on its website, says Christine Bolzan, founder of Graduate Career Coaching, a Boston-based firm that helps recent college grads launch their careers.

Instead, ask questions that show you've done more-extensive research. Use the information you find to develop thoughtful, in-depth questions.

2. How are this quarter's earnings?
While it's good to ask questions that show you're familiar with the position and company, make sure that your questions are relevant to the interview and the position.

"It's OK to have a discussion that displays your knowledge of the industry and competition, but in the process, do not pry to make conversation regarding corporate strategy or you'll appear inappropriate," says Lynn Taylor, author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant" and CEO of Lynn Taylor Consulting, a career and workplace management firm based in Southern California.

3. Did you just get married?
"You will want to do a little background check on all of the people interviewing you so that you can gear your questions appropriately," Bolzan says.

"Just a few years ago it was a little creepy to mention you had checked out the interviewer's LinkedIn profile, but now it is expected. While you may find personal info when doing this research, never ask personal questions in the interview: dating status, family info, religion and -- for most roles -- politics, are all taboo," she says.

4. How often do you go to happy hour?
Sometimes, you might instantly hit it off with an interviewer. But regardless of how comfortable you begin to feel with the person, it's important to maintain a professional attitude. Questions about the frequency of happy hours or company parties are too casual for an interview.

Tips 5 - 7 and Complete Article

Monday, June 6, 2011

5 Reasons to Volunteer While Out of Work

I recently read an article by Dawn Bugni titled Tips for times of transition: Part Two—Career marketing strategies for job seekers. Number eight of her 10 tips caught my attention; it was about volunteering…while out of work. You might be thinking, “Why should I work without pay?” That’s a legitimate question, but consider the benefits:

1. Volunteering is a great way to do a positive thing. You may consider choosing an organization where your efforts are meaningful in a big way. The Salvation Army comes to mind. Every year around Christmas holiday thousands of volunteers ring the bells in front of businesses. All for the sake of helping the less fortunate get by during the holidays. A customer of mine said she volunteers at a soup kitchen. While she’s an accountant, she has a soft spot in her heart for the less fortunate. This appeals to employers.

2. Volunteer to network for your next job. Choose an organization or business that’s in the industry in which you’d like to work. If marketing is your forté, approach a company that needs a graphic artist or publicist to design some art for their website or write a press release or two. This company that you’ve managed to get your foot in the door can help you with leads at other companies, especially if you do a smashing job. The president or owner will want to help you because you’ve come across as competent and likeable. Who knows, you could possibly join the company if a position opens up…or is created.

3. Develop or enhance some skills that will make you more marketable. You’ve had it in your head to start blogging but haven’t had the time to dedicate to it. The company who took you on as a volunteer in their marketing department not only can help you network; it can assist you in enhancing your diverse writing skills. Your approach might be to offer starting a blog for them, as the rest of the marketing department is up to their elbows in alligators. They gain a talented writer to write entries, and you learn the fine art of blogging. “Tie the skills needed to do the volunteer position back to the skills needed to support or enhance your profession,” says Dawn Bugni. “This keeps your skills sharp. You might learn something new….”

Tips 4 - 5 and Complete CareerRocketeer Article

Guest Expert:

Bob McIntosh is a career trainer at the Career Center of Lowell, where he leads more than 20 workshops on the career search. He consistently receives ratings of “Very Good” on customer evaluation forms. Bob is often the person people go to for advice on the job search. As well, he critiques resumes and conducts mock interviews. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. These he considers to be his greatest accomplishments. Please visit his blog and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Everyone Knows Most Jobs are Gotten Through Networking - But Do You Know How to Network?

By Elizabeth Salaam

Kim Mohiuddin, president of both MovinOnUpRésumé and Authentic Executive Careers, offers networking tips for those intimidated by the idea of networking.

Let’s start with the definition of networking. What exactly does it mean?
The term networking itself can be intimidating. It sounds like something from The Matrix. It just means cultivating relationships. That looks different for everyone. One person might go to weekly business breakfasts while another might make connections on the tennis court.
Once you’ve made the connections, it’s important to cultivate the relationships. It’s better to have a small network of people who you can really keep in touch with and know well enough to help than to have a huge list of people you can’t remember. The people in your network should be able to advocate for you and vice versa.

Why is networking so important?
Networking is critical to the job seeker because most jobs are found through networking. Some studies report that 90 percent of jobs are won through networking. A hiring manager in this market is likely looking at hundreds of résumés for one open position. It’s overwhelming. They’re much more likely to pay attention to the person who’s been referred. It’s more of a known quantity for them and also a way to save time, to quickly get to a candidate who will likely be a match.

Can you give me some specific examples where networking has paid off?
One client was recently offered a chief financial officer position. He saw the open position and used LinkedIn (this is an amazing tool... every job seeker should be on it) to discover that a recruiter in his network was connected to another executive at the company. He got a personal introduction and the interview cycle was very short for a C-level executive.

Another client landed the position of logistics manager. He noticed that a local company was setting up manufacturing operations in Mexico. He had a great deal of experience with optimizing this kind of set-up. So he used LinkedIn to find a connection of a connection who worked in the company.
Most of my clients are executives, but this really works at any level. A customer service agent or store clerk who sees a “Coming Soon” sign for a new business can ask around for an introduction.

For some people, the very idea of talking to strangers makes them nervous. What do you say to them?
For those who are genuinely nervous about talking to new people, start in environments in which you’re comfortable. This could mean an online environment like LinkedIn where you don’t have to talk in real time (you can meet lots of new people by joining professional groups) or volunteering for something you’re passionate about. If you’re an introvert, a great resource is The Successful Introvert by Wendy Gelberg.

But even normally extroverted people can be thwarted by the false idea that they are supposed to “sell” themselves or ask for something from their network. That fear is allayed by remembering to come from a place of giving, of being interested in and ready to help the other. Ask about them. What are they most interested in? What gets them excited? How can you help them? It’s natural for the other person to offer their help and support as well, or to be open when you approach them later.

What are some baby steps one can take?  Read more for the Baby Steps and More Advice

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Resume Advice After a Career Break

    Kristin Maschka

    I noticed that a number of people find my blog because they are searching for information on dealing with a gap in their resume due to time out of the workforce to care for family. They land on this post, "How to Explain Gap in Resume: Caring for Family or...Coma?," which tells the story of one mother who was advised that she'd be better off telling a prospective employer that she'd been "in a coma" than saying she'd been caring for family and "doing nothing."

    I knew that wasn't good advice. While I give some tips in my original post, I decided it was time to go to the experts for more advice for my readers. So I reached out to my friend Carol Fishman Cohen at iRelaunch. iRelaunch offers a range of resources and services for women reentering the workforce. All of which are informed by Carol and her co-founder Vivian's constant interaction with employers and recruiters, plus their own experience as hiring managers and recruiters.

    Carol packed our conversation with advice worth its weight in gold, for mothers and for anyone with a gap in their resume.

    Kristin: Carol, multiple studies show that mothers in particular face automatic bias that has a direct impact on pay and promotions. Being a woman and having a gap in your resume often triggers that bias. So what's the most important resume advice for someone who has a gap in her resume?
    Carol: First, don't leave any time unaccounted for. Whether you did something during your career break that was relevant to your career or not, don't leave any question in people's minds about how you spent time. If you haven't done anything relevant to the career you want to reenter, that might mean including in the "Personal" section at the end of your resume, "2005-2011 Career break to care for children."
    If during your career break you did have an educational experience, or volunteer experience or consulting projects that are relevant to what you want to return to, you will want to include those.
    Kristin: What if the person only did occasional consulting work?
    Carol: Occasional consulting work is legitimate resume material. I might list "Carol Cohen Consulting" and bullet points of three projects I had during that time, even if the work was only here and there. You can include this and other unpaid experiences under a category labeled "Experience" rather than "Work Experience" and combine all of those experiences under one category. We advise against using the term "volunteer," and some people like the term "pro bono" especially in the legal field, where it is common.

    Kristin: How do you advise structuring the resume?
    Carol: We are big proponents of a chronological resume. We speak with recruiters all the time who hate the functional resume -- it forces them to spend time to fit together your work history. You don't want to create work for them or they might decide it's not worth it.
    There is also the relatively new concept of a hybrid resume which lists functional highlights at the top that are particularly relevant. That's fine to include as long as it's followed by a chronology of your work history.

    Kristin: What do people need to know about how this advice translates to using LinkedIn?
    Carol: We highly recommend translating your resume to LinkedIn. We talk with recruiters who say they won't interview someone who doesn't have a LinkedIn profile. When recruiters use LinkedIn to search for people, which they are doing more and more, the profiles that are 100 percent complete come to the top. If yours is only 85 percent complete, they'll have to scroll to get to it.
    But in order to reach 100 percent complete, you have to go out and get three recommendations. And people ask "How do I do that if I haven't been working?" If you've been doing strategic volunteering, then you can get the executive director or other staff of the community organization to write a recommendation for you. Or you might want to ask someone for a pure character reference. And it is legitimate to go back in time and ask people to write a recommendation, even though the work took place in the past.

    Kristin: This is such valuable insight, Carol! Now how about the interview? How should a person approach interviews after a career break?
    Carol: Ideally, the first contact a hiring manager has with you is through a personal contact, which is followed by your resume. This shows how important it is to get out of the house and interact with people. You need someone to vouch for you personally and you never know where you'll meet those people.
    In an interview situation like that, the interviewer already knows you took a career break. When the topic of the career break comes up, do not apologize. Briefly acknowledge the career break and then immediately move on to why you are the best person for the job. For example, "I took five years to care for my children, and I can't wait to get back to work. The reason I'm so interested in this job is because of the experience I've had recently."
    Also, when you are talking about past experiences, talk about them as if they happened yesterday! Don't preface comments with "Back in 1992... " Say, "When I was working at Xerox we had this difficult sales situation and here's what we did."
    Now, if the hiring manager remains fixated on your career break, then you should suggest a short-term, non-binding, paid arrangement -- an internship, contract, special project or consulting assignment with no obligation to hire you. You say, "I can see you are concerned, so let's do something short-term. You can get a sample of my work. We can both evaluate the working arrangement and then make a decision." Your message is, you have some perceived risk, and I'll take the risk out of the picture.

    Kristin: What is the biggest mistake relaunchers make?

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    How to Succeed at a Job Interview

    by Mara Stan

    When confronted with the scrutiny of selection interviews, many of us feel threatened, embarrassed, uptight, overwhelmed by emotion and totally uncomfortable. It’s not easy to accept a perfect stranger dig intrusively in the world of your experience, aspirations and dreams, even if it’s meant to be just a neuter discussion about career issues.
    However, it’s good to know that butterflies in the stomach are not a pre-requisite to a hiring interview. Here are some tips & tricks to avoid recruitment traps and turn a ghastly encounter in a friendly chat.

    Show Positivity and Drive

    Enthusiasm, optimism and motivation to join the team are the catalyst for the interviewer to shape a strongly positive opinion upfront. A jovial sense of humor is also welcome, because laughter is an effective ice-breaker that brings people closer and creates a sense of complicity and shared togetherness. Nonetheless, don’t overdo it and stick to benign humor: Don’t crack jokes at the expense of others, avoid irony, sarcasm or long satirical anecdotes that divert from the objective of the meeting.

    Do Your Homework Before the Interview

    A selection interview FAQ is “What do you know about us?” The successful candidate must prove that he/she is reasonably informed about the organization and the targeted position. Be sure to gather relevant info beforehand,
    Google down the company facts & figures, find out about the number of employees, main locations and headquarters, branches of activity, stock exchange value, profitability, turnover and forecast. It’s always useful to visit a forum about employees’ rating of the company. Refrain from gossip, rumors, controversies, criticizing former employers and other delicate subjects that tend to generate resentment and defensiveness

    Add a Name to the Face

    Inquire beforehand about the name and position of your recruiter. When you schedule the appointment, usually during the phone conversation, make sure to ask for contact details for the assessor you are going to meet: their department, and whether they are a manager or a specialist. Of course, you won’t either need or gain access to the abridged biography; still some background data can help you anticipate the direction of the discussion and the standing point at stake for your partner. For instance, when interviewed for an HR specialist position by a training manager, you will focus more on, say, soft skills, while when you meet a payroll manager, probably the dialogue will evolve in a stricter manner, on topics such as fiscal or legal issues.

    Answer in Full Sentences

    Pay attention to phrasing and coherence of speech when you express your opinions. Avoid monosyllabic answers, especially starting phrases with “no”. Be aware of the fact that, however shallow it may seem, what you say is sometimes less important than how you say it, in terms of message impact. When accurately modulated, not too loud nor too whispery, your voice is your brand, so use it wisely.

    Be Proud of Your Accomplishments, Aware of Your Shortcomings

    Be ready to give an example of achievement, as well as one when you failed to rise up to your own or the others’ expectations. Be sincere and promote your talent and interests without fake modesty. This is often discarded as either manipulation attempt, or under-rated self-esteem. When you acknowledge your vulnerabilities, you are one step closer to overcoming and converting them in strengths.

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