Posts Tagged 'job search'

LinkedIn is growing up

The only constant is change.

LinkedIn is growing up.  With age come wisdom, but also a yearning for youthful energy and a simpler time.

LinkedIn is closing in on a run rate of a billion dollar business with over 200 million members.   In 2012, they overhauled the way a Profile page looks, introduced endorsements and put to bed: lawyer ratings, legal updates, my travel, portfolio display and the ability to link your Word Press blog to your homepage.  What does all this mean to your Career Branding?

baby

Honestly, not much from a feature-function point of view.

The most notable of these changes was the introduction of endorsements.  This is a simple ‘like’ button to show   your belief that a connection possess a certain skill.  It’s an interesting engagement play by LinkedIn, and like any data it’s interesting, but requires one to further segment and analyze the data to get at what really is happening. Here are a few observations:

  • Which skill becomes dominant in your profile, is an interesting marker for how you are perceived by your peers.
  • Anyone with more than 10 skills listed really needs to rethink their branding.
  • If you have more connections, your probability of more endorsements goes up.  If these endorsements prove to carry social or career status, this flies in the face of building quality connections over a quantity of connections.
  • People are endorsing people, for skills that they are not in a true position to judge.  How is this of value?
  • Many folks are marketing  for endorsements through direct solicitations via email.  Does this change the value?
  • It’s really interesting when connections add skills to your profile and endorse you for something you choose not to list.
  • I have observed business leaders who I put in the highest 10 percent in terms of skill with few endorsements and weaker skilled business folks with literally hundreds of endorsements.  How will a recruiter value this?
  • If someone takes the time to write a recommendation, isn’t that worth 10x hitting a plus sign next to someone’s name when you log into LinkedIn?
  • I like how “endorsements” provides you an excuse to lightly ‘reach out’ to former colleagues you may have lost touch with.

LinkedIn continues to build momentum as a business person’s critical online identity.  LinkedIn is where recruiters mine.  Ten times as many recruiters pay LinkedIn for advanced access to their system than did so 3 years ago.  It serves as both a recruiting platform and a database of leads.  The leads are there for recruiters and job seekers alike. Think about this:  Nearly 14,000 recruiters pay $8000 per year for the ability to mine your profile data in a more intelligent manner!  New companies are signing up for this service at a pace of over 500 per quarter.

There is no doubt networking is still king in job search, and that LinkedIn is becoming the ultimate platform to rule the kingdom.

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When is the best time to look for a new job?

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Guest post by David Gordon

I believe that the best time to sell something is when you don’t have to sell it. I also believe that the best time to buy something is when you don’t have to buy it.

Is there a relationship between this concept and finding a job?

In fact, yes. There are numerous traits in common with the above statement as it applies to career management or, finding that new job.

When we really need to sell something,  say a car for instance, because we can’t afford it anymore and the payments are stacking up, we’ve placed ourselves in a position of weakness and need. Weakness and need always compromises options and, almost always gets in the way of objectivity. It also undermines your control over timelines and actions.

Conversely; let’s say we’ve promised the family a vacation on a certain date. As the date approaches you realize that, as a result of procrastination, the date is two weeks away. Are your choices the same? Is your urgency of need the same; are you in control of the best options?

Managing your career is no different. If the best time to sell something is before you need to sell, then the best time to job hunt is before you become disillusioned with your current position or more seriously, believe that termination is imminent.

Job hunters are human beings and generally speaking, human beings share some certain traits.

1) We tend to procrastinate

2) We are change adverse

3) We can be lethargic about applying effort if the status quo is bearable.

Status quo, is that how you want to spend your career?

Managing your career starts with being pro-active, not re-active.

Re-active is “I hate my job and am miserable” or “I’m pretty sure I’m about to get laid off” and I need a new job, NOW!

You are now in a position of need. You loose objectivity because you can no longer remain emotionally detached and you have an urgent need with a short timeline. What happens, you settle for any job.

You no longer have the luxury of “shopping” and your decisions are clouded by stress, anxiety and urgency of need. You get a job, but is it the best job?

The best time to job hunt is when you like your job, when there is only a small puff of smoke with respect to job security versus a raging fire.

Finding the BEST job is different than finding any job.

To find the best job takes time. It takes objectivity and impartiality, almost indifference.

If you don’t really need something, you take your time; potential employers are trying to recruit you versus you trying to get them to hire you. In other words, you shop carefully.

Managing your career and next job is largely a practice of networking.

Real networking doesn’t mean attending industry functions or surfing Facebook. Real networking means identifying the industries, companies and decision makers within those companies whom you believe could enable the next logical career move on your behalf.

Conclusion: Take the time now. Identify who these companies/people are and make contact; turn that contact into a face to face meeting because that’s what works. Be  reasonable; ask for a ten minute sit down so you can learn more about their industry and their company’s aspirations and, let them know your intent isn’t “to get a job”.

Taking the time to invest in this strategy before you really need a new job takes the pressure off and allows total objectivity. Even more importantly, you won’t have that “odor” of really needing a new job and from that, you will be in a position of power.

Be process centric instead of results centric. The time to embark on this task is now, not at the moment of need.

David Gordon is an internationally recognized leader in The Pursuit of relationship Capital ® and through First Approach, has helped numerous corporations secure more and better new client relationships. Follow David @ www.firstapproach.biz  or twitter @salescallcoach.  

Seven Deadly Sins of Job Search-2012


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The article title is not an original.  It’s been used in many other career articles. We followed the pack on this one, because we are seeing too many individuals not optimizing their time to meet their goals.

A funny thing happened when researching what the original 7 deadly sins are.  There were more than 7 on the Internet.  The following were listed on different sites: Lust, Greed, Gluttony, Acedia, Hubris, Vanity, Lechery, Boasting, and Sloth to name but a few.  Still we move forward with our article because as we meet and strategize with the unemployed, we too often  hear of behaviors that creep into job search campaigns that can be traps.  They are tempting to spend significant time on, but low on true benefits.

1.       Starting one’s career branding when you are out of work. 

Let’s be clear, career branding is critical to a successful job search.  That said, if you are already out of work, it’s probably too late to truly impact your current job search in quick order.  Personal Brands take time to build and so do relationships.  These are the key ingredients to successful career branding.  (PB+RC = CB) You can start today, but do not expect this to be a quick results path.  Successful career branding simply takes an extended period of time.

2.      Over engineering a resume

The resume remains a key hiring document, but it is more an application than a selling document. It is not the key ingredient to getting hired.  It can serve a role of helping get through HR or recruiting, but in this day and age a LinkedIn profile is probably more important.  Despite these facts, an informal interview by Career Brander suggests the unemployed are changing their resume almost every week looking for the magic mix of words.  This is not a good use of time.  However, to be clear we do support customizing or tailoring a resume to a specific opportunity.  We just think this should be a quick ‘to do’ as opposed to a laborious regular part of your day.

3.      Not embracing technology

There is no doubt, technology and the internet in particular is critical to a modern day job search.  This is where recruiters (external and internal) begin their search for candidates.  Additionally there are lots of social sites, research sites, web tools and optimization software at the job seekers finger tips.  To not use them is like playing a round of golf with only a few clubs.

4.      Utilizing a one-dimensional plan

There are dozens of ways to go about a job search.  To market yourself, you need to utilize multiple channels.  This means networking with friends, former co-workers, former clients, neighbors etc… It means being visible online, being active in your professional community, connecting with recruiters, researching target companies and executing an outreach campaign.  Nurturing every contact and meeting on a consistent basis until such time as you land a job.  Similar to marketing departments at large companies, individuals cannot simply bet on only one go-to market strategy or they will diminish their likelihood of success.

5.      Replacing meetings with screen time

Every sales force in America strives for more time in front of prospects and customers and less time researching, pushing paper and or doing other ‘administrative tasks’.  Job search should be no different.  There is more one can do from their computer than ever before, but the reality is face time still rules the day.  Challenge yourself to spend over 50% of your search time in front of people.  Multiple face to face meetings a day, 4 days a week is a good goal.  Hard to achieve over a prolonged job search, but it still should be your goal.

6.      Missing your value statement

Generalists in business are not getting hired in this market.  Specialists are getting hired.  There are too many resumes, particularly for middle/upper middle managers that all look the same with folks claiming to be good at 6 different areas of business.

In the simplest terms, you solve a pain for companies. It could be work through put, client satisfaction, new revenue, quality oriented or many other things.  Understanding what you solve for and how you then package yourself in a clear concise manner to be the best choice to relieve that pain for a hiring manager is critical.

 7.    Getting discouraged

In the 1992 movie, A League of Their Own Tom Hanks’ character Jimmy Dugan says, “There’s no crying in baseball.”  The same can be said for sales or job search.  There will be setbacks. There will be disappointments.  However, perseverance and resilience must rule the day.  Discouragement is a disease that can eat away at a successful job search.  Do not let it happen to you. In the face of adversity, “flush the negative and stay positive.”

Job Search-Stories Matter

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Individuals that are laid off clearly experience a seminal moment.  It will forever influence their approach to career branding and planning.   How one reacts to this moment will serve as a proxy for the next phase of their career.

 

___________

 

1941 is best known as the year the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  December 7, 1941 will forever be a moment etched into everyone’s mind.  Everyone can conjure up a vision of the Kamikaze pilots either from actual film footage or Hollywood generated re-enactments.  The events of that day forever impacted the history of the world.

For sports fans, 1941 is also well known as the year Ted Williams had a .406 batting average playing Major League baseball for the Boston Red Sox.  This was the last time anyone playing in the Major’s accomplished this feat.  As impressive and amazing as that is, there are two lesser known subplots to William’s feat that offer job seekers a moment to ponder their own plight.

  • During 1941 spring training, Ted Williams broke a bone in his right ankle.    The injury was devastating to the young Williams. He was forced to think back on all the preparation he had put in for the season and the possibility the injury could ruin his season.  Instead he immediately started on rehabilitation and teaching himself a slightly modified swing that changed his weight shift.  For the first two weeks of the regular season he was forced to play only a part time role as a pinch hitter.   

 

Despite, setbacks how will you make adjustments and persevere in your job search?

 

  • On the final day of the 1941 season, Williams had a .39955 batting average.  Statistically his average would have been rounded up to an even .400 if he’d chosen to sit out the final days double header. However, Williams was never one to back down from any challenge.  He believed in himself and played the final day and had an astounding 6 hits in eight at bats to raise his average to .406.  It was the finishing touch on an astounding accomplishment. 


Are you ready to take a chance on re-engineering your career path? 

 

Interviewers look for resilient, confident people. If you do not believe in yourself, it will make it more difficult for others to believe in you.

 

Did you know, stories are remembered more often than facts? 

 

Think about this as you enter your next interview. Saying you increased productivity by x% is less memorable (and thus less effective) than telling the story of why, when and how you increased productivity. Prepare stories that capture who you are, and how you can make a difference for the hiring manager.

Eight Fundamentals of Job Search

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Recently, I received a book written by Sam Parker and Jim Gould called Sales Tough.  It was a gift from Chris Turnley.  Sam and Jim have done a magnificent job of breaking down the key fundamentals it takes to be successful in sales.  I’ve read dozens of books on selling and very few have summarized, so well, in so few words.

… and what does this have to do with Career Marketing and Personal Branding?  Simple, the same principles apply to a successful job search.  Here are the books eight fundamentals as applied to job search.

Fundamental #1Time Management

You must leverage the working hours as your key direct networking communication time. All other activities are background noise. You know what needs to be done, so do not procrastinate or wait for it to happen. You need to make it happen.

Fundamental #2– Activity matters

It’s a numbers game. You need to build a job opportunity funnel, just like a salesperson builds a prospect funnel. Days should start at 7am and end early evening. Your time is your most valuable asset.  It is also the most valuable asset of the folks you are trying to reach, so be prompt, respectful and efficient.

Fundamental #3A Contact Sport

Your day starts  with your first conversation and ends with your last conversation.  Email is important, but is only a form of paperwork. Minimize non-selling/job search activities. Meet face to face.

Fundamental #4Opening Statement

Everyone thinks elevator pitch, but in reality it’s the first few words that serve as “The Grabber” to get your prospects attention, or not!

Fundamental #5 Network – it’s about who you know

Networking is formal and informal. It never ends and the more you embrace it and drive it, the more successful job search you will have.

Fundamental #6 ABC, the cliché, Always Be Closing

A good close is all about making a concise statement that is personalized to the hiring manager. It should resonate that by bringing you on board, you will make the hiring manager more successful by, removing a pain, or executing on an opportunity, that is currently being unmet.

Fundamental #7It’s not about you

Do not discuss your personal issues associated with unemployment or other challenging aspects of your life.  Focus on how you can make the interviewers life better. Career marketing is not about your problems but rather the answers you bring to others problems.

Fundamental #8The value in hiring you

  • Make yourself exciting, somehow create a personal buzz
  • Communicate you are a team player
  • Create a message that the hiring manager does not want to compete against you because you are that good.
  • Be front of mind as a referral by everyone in your network.

Although Gould and Parker wrote about how to be Sales Tough, the same principles apply to the fundamentals of job search.  You need to be Job Search Tough.

Telephone or Twitter-getting a hiring managers attention

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Luckily Telephone or Twitter is not an absolute choice.  You can use both in your job search campaign.

Over the past few months I’ve read several how to use Twitter for Job Search e books and articles.  If you are not familiar with the concept, consider trying this link.

Twitter:

  • is easy to use.
  • has great utility in connecting with constituents fast.
  • provides a great forum to demonstrate expertise as well as build your personal brand.
  • is emerging as a job listing resource through tweetmyjobs, tweetajob and others.

That said,  I believe Twitter is an example of marketing with soft engagement.  (Email represents another soft engagement).  What is soft engagement? Let me explain.

It is has simply become too easy to sit at ones desktop and Tweet (or email) all day.  As a matter of fact, many power Tweeters, simply set up a series of timed scripts using Hoot Suite and other Twitter management tools.  I view this type of activity as soft engagement.  It has it’s benefits for brand building, but it really does not get at the crux of finding a new position.  Getting hired requires real contact and engagement with hiring managers.

In my opinion, despite the growth of social media in recruiting efforts, the overwhelming majority of hiring managers,  rarely read blind emails or mine Twitter for critical new hires.  This is not to suggest hiring managers do not use Twitter.  My point is that we are clearly in a time of electronic information overload. It is too easy to tweet or send emails.  Since it is so easy to push information out,  Twitter and email are getting more and more cluttered.  They are loaded with useless information (including Spam), and folks with limited time, are not as engaged with these electronic communications as one might think.

Now contrast this with the telephone.  Everyone has seen their communicating mediums shift over the last decade.  Although I can not defend these statistics, I believe it is fair to state, the business community has flipped how they communicate from 80% phone, 20% online communication 10-15 years ago, to; 20% phone, 80% online communication in 2010.  (These percentages are meant to be more illustrative than factual.) I believe, herein lies an opportunity for job seekers. Hiring managers are receiving less phone calls and less voice mails than you might think.  Also, in general, my personal experience is that folks are  picking up their phone more frequently than they did a decade ago.

Perhaps simplistic in approach, but I would strongly suggest you have a better chance of getting a hiring managers attention, to your candidacy, using the telephone than through electronic communication.  If you call very early or very late in the day, you  will even have a greater chance of getting them on the phone as opposed to voicemail.  Yes, it takes a little more effort, confidence and drive to use the telephone, but I believe your personal return on investment will be greater.

If you are serious about finding work faster, do not hide behind the ease of soft engagement. Leverage all communication mediums, but please pick up the phone.

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I recently received the following email from a former Monster executive and thought it worth sharing with you.
I recently read an article in the NY Times which resonated with me because of the parallels I saw in packaging myself to prospective employers…and the value prop Career Brander delivers.  The article, “The Muddled Selling of the President” (January 29, 2010) was about defining oneself (US presidents) to shape how others (voters, constituents, opponents) perceive you. The most effective leaders “have cultivated thematic definitions of themselves to shape the way their choices are perceived.  A strong, clear narrative helps a president connect with voters and explain the journey he is leading.  The lack of one invites opponents to craft a less flattering portrayal.” An image-maker also commented, “You’ve got to have a clear, easy to understand story.”  Very relevant to the job search, especially in a fiercely competitive landscape.  Here’s the link, if your interested in reading more or gleaning additional positioning ideas/statements:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/31/weekinreview/31stevenson.html

PS  If you want some great hot sauce, go to: http://www.sailorsswagger.com/

Unemployed 2009-Go to Market For You

Over the past several months, I’ve had the opportunity to be the featured speaker to several different groups of unemployed professionals.  The audiences have included folks that specialize in accounting, financial services, engineering, software programming, customer experience, information technology, marketing, and law. Each individual is at a very different point in their job search.   They attend these meetings for peer support, networking opportunities and hopes to learn something that will accelerate their career transition. Based on feedback from this diverse group of attendees, the presentations focal point seems to resonate.

The primary message communicated is that, the job search process is complex.  To properly navigate the process,   individuals can systematically embrace the process corporations utilize to take a new product or service to market.  It’s simple in concept, but the logic is sound and the results are proven.   Individuals simply need to think of themselves as the product or service.  Corporations  launching a new product or service [or relaunching an old product or service] develope a thoughtful written plan that answers specific questions.  From there, action plans are created from the answers.

Highlighted below is an outline for creating a “go-to-market” strategic plan.  Although there are many variations of this framework, the high level questions apply to virtually every campaign.  As you read the questions, ask yourself, have you thoroughly vetted each of these points and reached logical conclusions with regard to your job search.  Be sure to think of yourself as the product or service that needs to achieve market penetration for success.  Here is a five point product planning outline.

1. Assess the Market 

What is the addressable market? 

This is a detailed assessment of the current conditions, the market size and smaller sub markets within the market as a whole.  This is an important concept because an individual should not think about the total unemployment figure in the newspaper.  Instead they should focus on the market for their specific skill set.

What are the current trends? What factors are impacting the supply and demand?  Which segments will grow and which will contract in the future? 

For maximum success be sure to target growth markets.  By identifying trends you will uncover opportunities and be prepared to demonstrate your expertise. 

2. Competition

Who are the logical competitors today?   What are their relative strengths and weaknesses versus ours?  How will we differentiate ourselves today and in the future?

For a 2009 jobsearch, answering these questions is paramount.  There are simply to many qualified people chasing the same opportunities.  To many “elevator pitches” tend to sound the same even though each indiviudal has characteristics and achievements that can be used to differentiate.  Without differentiation, why should someone hire you versus another candidate?

3. Define your Positioning and  Go-to-Market plan

What value does your product or service bring to the end user?  What is your brand and your brand messaging?  How will you reach your potential end user?  Have you thought through all the potential channels to sell your product or service? Once reached, how will you  concisely, and in a compelling manner, convince your end user of the value you bring?  Have you properly addressed all the marketing mediums that your target uses?  (Internet, email, print collateral etc..)

For a 2009 job-search, the concept of personal branding is critical.  It is essential to express who you are, what you stand for and how you can add value.  An individual needs to clearly articulate their uniqueness and ability to solve a problem for the potential hiring manager.  There are many ways to get your message out.  Emails, personal websites, phone calls, coffees, blogs, trade shows, networking groups etc…  LinkedIn, Facebook, Spoke, Plaxo and Xing are great on-line channels to expand your reach and messaging quickly.  Associations and trade groups are fabulous for targeting specific job disciplines. Leveraging technology is very important, but always remember face to face meetings create stronger bonds that drive behavior.

4. Track, measure, adjust

Set up a plan to track your campaign, measure your efforts and constantly adjust your plan based on feedback and results.

Just like companies use tools like Salesforce.com, Google analytics or other CRM (customer relationship management) systems, so should anyone going through career transition.  Data doesn’t lie and it creates discipline as well as insight. Set minimum metrics.  An example could be 10 outbound calls, 10 outbound emails and 2 face-to-face meetings per day.  You could also track actual interviews and measure them as sales calls.  How many sales calls does it take to sell a product or serivce?  What if there are lots of competing brands creating options for the buyer?

5. Critical Initiatives

What are the critical initiatives?  There are always lots of things to do, but typically there are only a few mission critical initiatives that are necessary for success.   

Many job seekers today simply log onto a major job board, scan the positions, read an article or two, wordsmith their resumes and consider it a complete job search day.  So much more is needed. Individuals need to focus on the areas most critical to success. 

 In a 2009 job search, there are 3 areas that apply to everyone and thus merit considerable time, thought and focus.

  •  Create a complete personal branding and marketing plan that includes all marketing collateral.  Have professional business cards, a resume/CV, an on-line identity and a crisp presentation for meetings. No sales professional would ever walk into a presentation with only an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper. Why would you?.  After all, this could be the most important product presentation of your life.

 

  •  Target, target, target. A broad job search does not work in today’s market. Individuals must identify their target companies/opportunities and concentrate their time & focus their marketing plan on reaching these targets. If you ask someone for job search help, its often hard to help.  If you ask someone for a connection or information about a specific company, it’s often much easier to provide assistance.

 

  •  Network aggressively and through multiple channels.  In many respects, networking has never been easier.  Services like LinkedIn have taken the concept of six degrees of separation and, through clever algorithims, created views into relationship links that might never have been previously discovered.  It is possible to expand your network faster than ever before.  Individuals need to carefully combine the use of the Internet, email, telephone and face-to face communications into their marketing plan.

Have you embraced a strucutre similar to the one outlined in this article?  Do you have a well conceived, written, go to market plan for you (G2M4U)? 

As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Plans are nothing, planning is everything.”



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