Posts Tagged ‘networking’

Jimmy Stewart meltdown

This is actually re-posted from last year, with additions (I thought of 5 more reasons).

1.   Employers ARE hiring, despite the common misconception that everyone’s in Bermuda.

2.   There’s less competition since a lot of job seekers think everyone’s in Bermuda.

3.   It’ll keep your momentum going, and make it less likely you’ll hop into a bathtub full of water and plug in your electric toothbrush.

4.   All those holiday parties are great opportunities to network. And scarf down free food.

5.   You’ll soon get sick of staring at the TV and watching Jimmy Stewart have a meltdown.

6.   A lot of companies start their fiscal year in January,  so they want to get the newbies in there as soon as all the holiday crap is over.

7.   There’s always the chance a manager could be inspired to hire you while snockered on spiked eggnog.

8.   How many times can you listen to songs about homicidal reindeer?

9.   The hiring manager is more likely to bring you on-board out of holiday spirit despite the embezzlement charges.

10.   Job search can generally be more fun during the holidays, since a lot of people are jollier than usual. Not me, but a lot of people.

 

Check out Explode, a comedy thriller/mystery novel. Spontaneous human combustion, or murder?

1.   It’s a good way to network, which is a much more effective job search strategy than staring at the computer screen for eight hours a day and indiscriminately spewing your resume out into the Lost Dimension of Job Seeker Infinity.

2.   Oprah’s history anyway.

3.   You’ll actually get some valuable info about what’s going on in your field of interest, and won’t have to keep listening to your whiny frenemies who keep saying, “There’s nothing out there.”

4.   You can officially slap the aforementioned frenemies upside the head for being negative.

5.   You’ve been spending too much time on the couch in your bathrobe, and you’re starting to smell.

6.   You’ll get info on what skills you need to be competitive, so you can emphasize those skills in your resume and cover letters, and/or brush up on the ones you’re shaky on.

7.   It’ll keep you in the game. ‘Cuz once you’re out, that fence is hard to climb over, and you don’t want to get your doinker caught in those wires on top.

8.   You’ll be interacting with actual humans.

9.   It’ll keep your confidence up, and give all those “talents I have to offer” thoughts long-term storage space in your head.

10.   You can actually get real live smokin’ job leads that way.

Yes, you’re marketing yourself in your job search. You’re the product you’re selling. But that doesn’t mean you should be a snake-oil salesperson who resorts to sneaky tactics. Cuz guess what – it’ll probably blow up in your face. And you won’t be too marketable if you’re headless.

Here are a few dirty tricks not to do in your job search:

  • Lie about your background. Just as it’s sleazy to misrepresent a product, if you’re not honest about your experience and education, it’ll probably come back to bite you in the ass. Remember the Dean at MIT who was fired for saying she had a doctorate when she didn’t? I think she’s currently working as a cashier in the food court.
  • Harass employers. Once, twice, three times are okay for an initial contact or to follow up. More than that, not so much. Irritating the hell out of people isn’t an effective job search strategy. And if you crouch in the bushes and wait to pounce on an employer in the parking lot, you will officially be known evermore as Psycho Stalker Job Seeker Guy. There are laws.
  • Fudge contacts. You don’t want to contact a possible lead and say, “Joe Schmeckle suggested I contact you” if, in fact, you just got Joe Schmeckle’s name off of LinkedIn and he’s never heard of you. Bad form.
  • Conduct an in-your-face job search. Don’t you just love those ads with huge glow-in-the-dark headlines that shriek at you with multiple exclamation points? Bet you don’t.  Neither do employers. Unless they’re over-the-top-squirt-water-out- of-a-big-fake-red-nose themselves, in which case maybe it’s an ideal match. Usually, though, even though it’s important to be enthusiastic, don’t overdo it. Not in your cover letter or resume, or in person. Employers will want to smack you.
  • Try to bully an employer into interviewing or hiring you. I’m sure you wouldn’t do that, but I’ve heard stories….Just as it’s not kosher for a salesperson to ever try to intimidate a customer into buying their product, you don’t ever want to imply in any way that if you don’t get an interview, your Uncle Vito will come pay them a visit with your resume and a baseball bat. Of course, if Uncle Vito works for the company and can put in a good word for you with the hiring manager sans baseball bat, that’s another story.

Here are a few tips on doing a killer job search. And no, I don’t mean visiting your former employer and running amok with a machete.

  • From your research (yeah, I know you know how to do that), find some interesting tidbit about each employer you’re targeting in your job search, and mention it in your cover letter.
  • Better yet, connect the tidbit to how you can benefit them. And I don’t mean, “I read in the Boston Business Journal that you’re being sued for sexual harassment. Since I’ve been sued for that several times myself (I like to sneak around corners and bump into my co-workers to cop a feel), I could help you make it go away.” That’s the idea, though. Just substitute a more positive factoid, or one that may be a problem that you can help them solve, but not one that the National Enquirer would pant over.
  • Send your contacts some helpful info. A job lead, a link to an article about something they want info on or a topic they’re interested in, a link to their favorite porn site (not really). But don’t immediately ask for them to reciprocate. “Here’s that info on when Charlie Sheen’s mother ship is coming to take him home. Have any job leads for me?” is SO not cool.
  • Ask more questions than you answer in your networking interactions. And not, “What’s my area of expertise? What do you want it to be, baby?” Just focus more on them than you, and you’ll be surprised at how much more likely they’ll remember you, want to help you, pledge their eternal devotion to you, and grovel at your feet. Really.
  • Dress the part. Even if it’s not an actual job interview. When you go anywhere that has anything remotely to do with job search/networking/strategic shmoozing, dress like a – dare I say it – winner. I’ve seen job seekers show up at networking events in flip flops and muscle shirts. I mean, come on.
  • Keep busy. If you know what time “Are You Smarter Than a 5th-Grader?” comes on, you’re in trouble. And if you’re not, in fact, smarter than a 5th-grader, you might be tempted to stick your wet finger in an electric socket. So set up informational interviews, volunteer, work part-time, take a class, teach a class at a community center. Do constructive stuff you can put on your resume, that’ll help you continue to develop your skills and regularly interact with other humans.
  • Keep a positive attitude. If you’re negative, you’ll be much less likely to find a job, for a slew of reasons. Mostly because the majority of people you come in contact with will think you’re a pain in the ass, and they won’t want to have anything to do with you. Unless they’re negative themselves, in which case you can whine together in your dark cloud of blehhhh.

I’m reposting a post from awhile back, partly because it’s been a REALLY REALLY busy week already, and partly because I’m co-managing a job fair scheduled for next Wednesday, March 23, details at http://yourcareersource.com/careerf.htm, so I figure it’s apropos….


Job fairs can be helpful to you in your job search. While you can’t expect to go to a job fair and meet the Magic Job Search Genie who will grant you all your employment wishes, job fairs can be useful for networking (with other job seekers as well as employers), shmoozing with employers to get info on opportunities, and yes, even getting actual job leads.

However, as in any other professional and/or social situation in this life, there are some inappropriate job fair moves that will likely give you a bad rep. Here are some of them:

  • Dressing for a day at the beach. Even though you’re not actually at a job interview, if you don’t dress as though you are, no one will be impressed. I don’t care if it’s 95 degrees out and hailing stones the size of Rotweilers. You need to dress professionally for a job fair. Bring your job fair clothes in a (professional-looking) tote and change into them before you walk in, if you must.
  • Butting in line. It was rude in grade school, and it’s rude now. There are going to be lines before the employer tables, especially for the more popular companies. Deal with it.
  • Rambling on until the employer’s eyes glaze over. This is bad for several reasons (in addition to the eye-glazing). One, it’s much more effective to be focused on what you have to offer, and opportunities the company may have that fit what you have to offer. So practice your elevator pitch before you chat with employers. Two, it’s rude to take up too much time when there’s a line of other job seekers. Three, you don’t want the employer to think you’re a boring bag o’ wind. Being a boring bag o’ wind won’t help you get a job. Unless you’re a politician.
  • Accosting employers in the bathroom. Especially if they’re in a stall. Although come to think of it, standing next to you at a urinal is just as bad. I mean, come on. Let the poor guy piss in peace. You may think only a mentally challenged person would do this, but I’ve actually seen it, and the person who did it was clearly not mentally challenged. Horrifyingly clueless, surely, but not mentally challenged.
  • Ignoring your fellow job seekers. You’re not competing for the Stanley Cup. Every last one of you is unique in what you have to offer, and even if some of you are looking for similar positions, you’ll be much better off helping each other. That’s often how job seekers get good leads. You know, networking.
  • Being unprepared. Just as you would for an interview (yeah, I know you would), research each employer whose table you’re visiting. The company list and available positions are almost always available via whomever’s hosting the job fair, at least a few days prior to the event. Peer at the companies’ websites, look at the positions they’re trying to fill, and mention something specific about the company when you talk with the employer (you can prepare a cheat sheet beforehand). And of course, have your elevator pitch ready to go.
  • Asking dumb questions. This follows from the previous point – if you’ve done some research on the companies you’re interested in and you’re prepared, you’re not going to be asking questions like, “What does your company do?” or “Do you have any jobs that don’t require a criminal check?”

Social media isn’t just a means to announce to the world that you just had some bad brussel sprouts at lunch. There are lots of ways you can use Twitter, LinkedIn and even Facebook to do an effective job search. Here are a few:

  • Make sure you use keywords and phrases most relevant to your field in your LinkedIn profile (I’ll assume you already have one – if not, get it up there yesterday!). More and more employers are trolling LinkedIn to find candidates, before even posting a job on job boards like Monster. They do a search for specific skills listed in profiles, and have been known to contact applicants whose profiles come up as a result. So if you’re looking for a job as a contortionist, be sure to include “twisting,”  “bending,” “extreme stretching,” and perhaps “overextension” in your profile.
  • Use your connections on LinkedIn to help you network your way into companies you’re interested in. It’s a professional networking site; that’s what it’s for. Hunt around in your connections to see who they’re connected to (1st or 2nd-level connections) to find companies to target in your job search. Ask the people you’re already connected to to introduce you, which consists of sending a message on LinkedIn saying, “My former colleague Joe Shmo would like to connect to you on LinkedIn,” or some such wording, and they check off the option that matches how your connection knows you (you’re Joe Shmo in this scenario).
  • When you want to apply to a particular company, do a company search on LinkedIn and see what current or former employees are in your network of connections. If several people come up who are not current connections, they’re probably connected to you by 2nd, 3rd, or 209th degrees (kind of like the Kevin Bacon game). You can connect with them in the aforementioned manner, and politely inquire as to relevant info about the company you’re interested in. Unless you’re connected to them by the 209th degree, in which case you’ll be staring at the LinkedIn screen until your eyeballs fall out.
  • Follow companies you’re interested in on LinkedIn, and “like” a post here and there. It’s a good way to get your name floating around in their online subconscious, network your way in and keep updated on what they’re up to. If they have a page, but haven’t posted anything in 3 years, that’ll tell you something (like they need you desperately if you’re a social media manager, so hurray for you!).
  • Join groups on LinkedIn that relate to your field. Make intelligent comments; share interesting and helpful info/links. This’ll help you build a positive reputation and possibly get you noticed by prospective employers or helpful contacts. So be sure to keep the embarrassing and insipid stuff to yourself.
  • Open a Twitter account, with a job title and tagline that best represents you professionally. It will also help you build your rep, and employers do searches on Twitter too. (twitter too – I felt like Judy Garland for a minute there. Sans pills, though.)
  • Use Twitter to follow employers you’re interested in and find info relevant to your field. Twitter’s about links – to job boards, to positions listed on company websites, to articles about what’s happening at a particular company or in a certain field, and anything and everything else you can possibly think of (and some things you’d rather not).
  • Use Twitter’s job search function – Use keywords (yeah, that again). A ton of stuff will come up on you – some of it like the garlic pasta you had last night, but some useful links too, like job listings and company info.
  • Better yet, use hashtags with keywords. If you’re not familiar with hashtags, it’s the Twitter term for putting a “#” before a keyword (as in #copywriting jobs), and is often used for events/tweets relevant to a specific topic. More relevant stuff will tend to come up than if you just use the keywords without the hashtags. Why, you ask? Beats the sh*t out of me.
  • Tweet info relevant to your field, or links to other jobs for fellow job seekers. Be a helpful little twit. Sorry, just had to say that.
  • Let your Facebook friends know you’re looking, and what you’re looking for, and what your particular areas of expertise are. Unless you’re currently employed and don’t want your employer to know you’re looking, in which case ix-nay on the obsearch-jay.

Jimmy Stewart meltdown
1.   Employers ARE hiring, despite the common misconception that everyone’s in Bermuda.

2.   There’s less competition, since a lot of job seekers think everyone’s in Bermuda.

3.   It’ll keep your momentum going, and make it less likely you’ll hop into a bathtub full of water and plug in your electric toothbrush.

4.   All those holiday parties are great opportunities to network. And scarf down free food.

5.   You’ll soon get sick of staring at the TV and watching Jimmy Stewart have a meltdown.

Here is a guest post from Lindsey Donner, Lifestyle Editor for http://igrad.com, “the College Student to College Graduate Resource.” She also blogs regularly on writing as a career at http://lindseydonner.com.

Few things in life are more mind-numbing than an extended job hunt. Even if your downtime between jobs peaks at just a few weeks of unemployment, you’re liable to feel quickly diminished, dehumanized, and exhausted within the first week.

There is also the added insult of the career blogs’ intimation that your failure is due, at least in part, to your inability to leave the house and network, network, network. But who wants to network when you could be in your bed, face ablaze with the glare from your laptop, eating cereal with your hands? Exactly: the kind of people who are already employed.

But it’s possible to improve your odds of joining that exclusive club while also rebuilding your dangerously low levels of self-esteem, even when you’re in a slump and seemingly prospect-less. In fact, the worst thing you can do is remain completely disengaged; everything’s harder when you’re rusty and out of the loop.

If you’re reading this in bed right now, I suggest you get up, brush your teeth, and start tackling this list. At best, it’ll help you get a job. At worst, it’ll make you feel better about yourself. What’s to lose?

  • Create a job portfolio. If you’re a designer, you have already done this. But writers, marketers, programmers, and others can benefit from an on- or offline collection of their biggest professional hits. Hints: marketers will want to include numbers and case studies; programmers, a code repository.
  • Find a volunteer gig that matches your skills (or improves them). Volunteering: it makes you feel good. It makes other people feel good. It gets you out of the house. But for the unemployed, it can be a life raft: you might meet your next boss, or find your true calling, or decide to switch career paths, or learn a new skill (like software that the local arts council asks you, their office volunteer, to work with). You will almost certainly have a new resume bullet and renewed confidence.
  • Clean your (virtual) house. You “never” use LinkedIn. (Really? It’s a great tool for targeted job searching.) Or maybe you “never” update your blog, or your Twitter account. And you definitely “never” thought of revamping your resume. Do me a favor: make a list of all of your online accounts, and then work down the list, with the most professional profiles at the top. Then, go through and improve each and every one. Update your resume on LinkedIn. Recommend a colleague.
  • Go back to school, this time for free. Or almost free. There are several obvious, awesome, FREE or low-cost ways for the jobless to acquire new skills. Let me name a few: (1) internships; (2) industry blogs; (3) online skill-building webinars; (4) community colleges; (5) other local venues, like libraries and community centers, churches, etc. Pick up a local newspaper and get involved. If you can’t part with your laptop, find out what other people know that you don’t: how to use InDesign? How to write a press release? What? There’s a blog, course, or webinar with your name on it.

The bottom line, folks? Do something, and do it well, focusing not on your current situation but where you want to be in the next year—when the search finally ends and you climb out of bed.


 

Is it me, or do these people look really pissed off? Way to wow the employer...NOT.

Job fairs can be helpful to you in your job search. While you can’t expect to go to a job fair and meet the Magic Job Search Genie who will grant you all your employment wishes, job fairs can be useful for networking (with other job seekers as well as employers), shmoozing with employers to get info on opportunities, and yes, even getting actual job leads.

However, as in any other professional and/or social situation in this life, there are some inappropriate job fair moves that will likely give you a bad rep. Here are some of them:

  • Dressing for a day at the beach. Even though you’re not actually at a job interview, if you don’t dress as though you are, no one will be impressed. I don’t care if it’s 95 degrees out and hailing stones the size of Rotweilers. You need to dress professionally for a job fair. Bring your job fair clothes in a (professional-looking) tote and change into them before you walk in, if you must.
  • Butting in line. It was rude in grade school, and it’s rude now. There are going to be lines before the employer tables, especially for the more popular companies. Deal with it.
  • Rambling on until the employer’s eyes glaze over. This is bad for several reasons (in addition to the eye-glazing). One, it’s much more effective to be focused on what you have to offer, and opportunities the company may have that fit what you have to offer. So practice your elevator pitch before you chat with employers. Two, it’s rude to take up too much time when there’s a line of other job seekers. Three, you don’t want the employer to think you’re a boring bag o’ wind. Being a boring bag o’ wind won’t help you get a job.
  • Accosting employers in the bathroom. Especially if they’re in a stall. Although come to think of it, standing next to you at a urinal is just as bad. I mean, come on. Let the poor guy piss in peace. You may think only a mentally challenged person would do this, but I’ve actually seen it, and the person who did it was clearly not mentally challenged. Horrifyingly clueless, surely, but not mentally challenged.
  • Ignoring your fellow job seekers. You’re not competing for the Stanley Cup. Every last one of you is unique in what you have to offer, and even if some of you are looking for similar positions, you’ll be much better off helping each other. That’s often how job seekers get good leads. You know, networking.
  • Being unprepared. Just as you would for an interview (yeah, I know you would), research each employer whose table you’re visiting. The company list and available positions are almost always available via whomever’s hosting the job fair, at least a few days prior to the event. Peer at the companies’ websites, look at the positions they’re trying to fill, and mention something specific about the company when you talk with the employer (you can prepare a cheat sheet beforehand). And of course, have your elevator pitch ready to go.
  • Ask dumb questions. This follows from the previous point – if you’ve done some research on the companies you’re interested in and you’re prepared, you’re not going to be asking questions like, “What does your company do?” or “Do you have any jobs that don’t require a criminal check?”

The elevator pitch, sometimes known as the 30-second infomercial, is one of the most important tools in your job search along with your resume, self-esteem and breath mints.

The elevator pitch is your (short) spiel about yourself professionally; how you market yourself verbally. That doesn’t mean you just spit it out to anyone and everyone you meet, including people in an actual elevator. The guy on the stretcher next to you in the emergency room, where you’ve landed after tripping over your dog’s foot and banging your nose on the coffee table, may not want to hear it. You do, however, want to say it when it’s appropriate, like when you’re asked the question in an interview, “Tell me about yourself.” Or in the formal portion of a networking event when you’re asked to stand up and introduce yourself for a minute or less. Or when you’re chatting with someone and you give them the first sentence or two of your “pitch” and they ask for more details. You want it to sound conversational, and you want to tailor it to your audience – if you’re a techie and you’re talking to other techies, you can use techie terms, whereas non-techies won’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

So what do you say in the elevator speech? Well, here’s the pitch (hey, felt like I was a Red Sox commentator for a minute there.  Anyway).  The pitch is essentially made up of four parts:

  • I am… as in, your name. I’m going to assume you don’t have any trouble with that one.
  • I do…a job title that accurately describes what you want to do; how you want to market your area of expertise. Or if a job title would leave too much room for perplexity, some detail that clarifies what you want to focus on. For example, “I run a pet waste elimination company” kinda says what you do, but it’s not as clear as, “I run a company that scoops your dog’s poop.”
  • I help…a little more detail about how your skills would benefit a company, your clients, and/or the world at large. To add to the example above, “We come to your house and clean your pet’s waste from the yard, and sprinkle fragrant organic herb particles that get rid of the odor, so your yard smells great.”
  • I need…Not as in, “I need a job,” but the idea is to say what you’re looking for, and where: “I’m looking to expand my business to pet-owners in the North Shore area.” Or more specifically for those looking for a job in a company, “I’m looking to use my blah blah skills in a small or medium-sized pet-related business.”

Make sure to put it all in a positive light; don’t just say, “I’m unemployed.” Even in your description of what you have to offer, it’s better to say, “…so your yard smells great….” than, “…so your yard doesn’t smell like shit.”