Networking Tips for the Job Seeker

In my library workshop, “Search the Hidden Job Market”, I talk about becoming the information sleuth.  Think of yourself as a detective or consider putting your dog to work at sniffing out the jobs. There are all sorts of channels to work  and the more pathes you take, should increase your odds of landing a job.  If nothing else, you’ll be busy.

  1. Of course, go ahead and work through the job boards.
  2. Meet with recruiters and headhunters for you might just be an ideal match.
  3. Tell all your friends and relatives.
  4. Tell the strangers you meet while waiting at the dentist or doctor’s office, at the grocery, at the gym, etc.
  5. Follow the jobs in Linkedin especially the ones listed in your groups.
  6. Read the newspaper and especially the business section.  Be sure to think about what the headlines may mean with regard to potential hiring. Are there new companies moving in?  Is anyone moving to larger quarters these days? Or, have any companies been awarded a large government contract perhaps?
  7. Identify vendors or suppliers who might know where there are job openings at companies with whom they do business.  For example, if you were an accountant, you might contact CPA firms to find out if any of their clients have job openings or perhaps you could contact the sales reps for accounting software.  If you are an HR specialist, you might contact employee benefits companies or HR specific software providers.
  8. Don’t forget trade or professional associations.  Join them and get involved.  It could be money and time well-spent.
  9. Try writing a blog.  An article I read in the The Wall Street Journal a few years ago, featured someone who got noticed and got a job because of the reputation she established with her blog.

Above all, be visible!

Networking for the Sake of Networking

Are you on Linkedin or Facebook?  And, do you have lots and lots of friends or connections?  Some of us may feel the pressure to be well-connected with volumes of people online.  But, does the quantity of contacts really mean anything and what is the point?  So, with our abundance of contacts, where has that taken us, anyway?

Long before the existence of Linkedin and Facebook , we maintained business card and Roladex files.  To me,  just going through the motion of collecting names, phone numbers, and business cards without putting much thought into it,  didn’t work well back then and it really doesn’t work well even in today’s online world.  My simple brain told me years ago that someone had to have a compelling  reason to do you a favor as in returning a favor or expecting something of value in the future.

Gordon Curtis in his book, Well Connected sums it up more eloquently than I have.  Here’s the essence of it.

Curtis says, you have to target the right person and apply the right approach, . Both parties need to reach an outcome that is beneficial to both of them.  A-ha.  So, I wasn’t too far off.  He states several criteria necessary in order for networking between two parties to work.  The keywords he uses  are ” like-minded”, “obligated”, “motivated” and “able”.  Without those, it’s highly unlikely someone will do anyone else a favor or enter into a deal.

Networking to achieve results requires a well-planned strategy.  So, develop your objectives and desired outcomes. When you identify potential networking candidates, learn something about them, figure out how you are going to reach them (necessary introductions) and what you are going to say.  Down the road, even look for ways you might reciprocate in advance.

For a more detailed explanation about how to network more effectively, I highly recommend the book, “Well-Connected.”

Build Relationships for Success in Business

I came upon an article today on the website, .Inc that resonated with me. The article was 10 Great Habits of Charismatic People by Jeff Haden.  Have you ever stopped to think about what it is about charismatic individuals that make them charismatic? Hmmm.   Rather surprisingly, it’s not all about having good looks although being physically attractive certainly  doesn’t hurt.  In fact, you may find that good looking folks are not necessarily charismatic.

According to the referenced article, personality probably trumps good looks in the charisma department.  Rather, charisma is about taking a keen interest in others. They are good listeners. They are not solely focused on themselves and tend to be humble. Above all, they like to make others feel good about themselves.  In my opinion, the last bit is paramount.

How is this relevant to being a small business owner or someone pursuing a career?  We all need to establish and build relationships to be successful. In business, it’s about focusing on the customer and being interested in his or her needs.

Similarly, whether you are looking for a job or you wish to be successful on a job, one needs to focus on building relationships.  In the book, “I Got My Dream Job and So Can You”, the author, Peter Leibman says, “Stop Looking for Jobs and Focus on People”.  This simple statement really clicked with me. I have long believed, in order to be successful on the job, the most important element is getting along with people (although you also have to know your stuff).

So, focus less on yourself and develop a greater interest in others!

Your Resume as a Dynamic Marketing Piece

Before PC’s became readily accessible, job seekers would have resumes printed by professional print shops on pricey stationery.  Given the expense, that document would be sent out over and over again. It probably would be updated only when the copies on hand were exhausted or due to a material event.

Not anymore.  In today’s electronic world, not only should a resume be current it should be tailored for the job position in consideration. Therefore,  a resume should no longer be regarded as a static document.  To me,  it makes a lot of sense. Think of yourself as an HR manager having to review hundreds of job applications and resumes. Would you be inclined to analyze a host of generic resumes trying to figure out if it fits what you are looking for?  Probably not.  A ” one size fits all”  also gives  the impression that the job seeker is simply sending out resumes to everything in sight hoping that one of them might just “stick on the wall” somewhere.

Although not everyone is apt to agree with me, I feel that an objective statement at the top indicating the type of position desired (such as a software engineer, teacher, or electrician, etc.) is a good thing.  To me, it frames the resume and sets the stage for the sections of text that follow.

Of course, aim to mirror the keywords expressed in the job description or job posting.  That’s a given.   I would read through your existing resume focusing on which elements or points are still relevant.  Where possible, I would address each accomplishment and/or skill to see if each one could be modified or augmented to fit, inserting keywords used in the industry.  If you need help, public libraries offer a host of resume books that showcase resumes for different job positions, industries and varying levels of experience and situations.  In addition, the web site, careeronestop, contains a database of occupations with descriptions of required skills, knowledge, education, likely tasks, activities.  It’s a useful aid when preparing or updating a resume.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to try out different resumes.  Whichever one gets the interview and the job will be the right one.

 

Startups on a Small Budget

Are you tired of looking for a job or are you tired of the job you have? Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup cites numerous examples of successful startups that involved very little capital to start. He provides an interesting roadmap for anyone who is ready for the challenge of a new adventure.

It’s chock full of real examples of successful startups based on simple ideas that were launched with a modest amount of money.  Each chapter contains a concise summary of the key points covered which is perfect if  you would like to thumb through the book quickly.

I really enjoyed reading Chapter 2, “Give Them the Fish.”   When the author began discussing the concept of providing “value”, initially, I said to myself, “Oh no, how many times have I heard this one.”  But, alas, it sounded way better than what I had expected.  Simply put, “value” is about helping people.

Above all give people what they want rather than what you think they should have.  Hence, “Give them the Fish”.

Your appeal should be at the ground or emotional level.  Aim to better people’s lives.  There is nothing wrong with that.

A Fantastic Guide for Job Seekers

As a librarian, I come acrosss lots of books for job seekers and most of them are just so-so. Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0 by Jay Conrad Levinson and David E. Perry is absolutely stellar.  Most handbooks are filled with suggestions and tips that are so general that I’m left thinking, “this is great but how do I apply it or put it into practice.”  Not this one.  If you use this book, you won’t be left hanging in thin air.  It’s got  the ingredients and the instructions for success in your job hunt.

Personal branding is the buzz these days but what does it really mean? You will learn it’s all about leadership and communication skills, taking iniative, passion and cultural compatibility.  That’s just an introduction for the actually strategy follows.  The specifics are outlined in the next 15 pages.  It describes how to show an employer that you will add value to the organization by presenting your accomplishments in dollars and cents.

Of course, the whole world talks about the importance of networking but what does that entail?  Chances are you won’t find a job through someone you know.  So, learn how to network as if you were a professional headhunter. This book will tell you exactly how to do it.

Have you heard compelling stories about using LinkedIn or other social networking tools but don’t know where to start?  Levinson and Perry have some wonderful tips and techniques that are sure to work.

You will most likely find this book at your public library.

What is Your Time Worth?

Do you ever find yourself sitting idly glaring at Facebook looking up old friends or watching reality TV.  Time is just slipping through your fingers. Reflecting on my days in high school or even in college, I thought my time was infinite  and I had a tendency to procasinate.  I had a saying, “don’t do today what you can do tomorrow.” Sadly, as the time goes by, we can never get it back.

As small business owners often wear many hats and juggling multiple tasks, time naturally turns into a very precious commodity. I had the opportunity to attend a marvelous time management program conducted yesterday by my friend, Bob Liebhauser, ActionCoach.  There were some marvelous take-aways. So, I will share some of these with you today.

If you want to know how you truly spend your time,  try keeping a log of your daily activities over a period of time such as two weeks.  It will probably be very enlightening.

Analyze what you do and determine whether your tasks are urgent and important. Things that are not urgent and not important are distractions. Things that are urgent and not important are delusions (therefore only your mind things they’re important).  So, do make lists and rank what is important and urgent.  Spend time on the important stuff.

What is your time worth in dollars and cents? Is it $50 per hour?  Or, $100 per hour?  Or, $250 per hour? On that basis should you be spending your time maintaining the books or making copies? Probably not.

Create a default activity schedule.  This schedule should serve as your routine agenda only to be superceded by an urgent need.

Time management is all about managing yourself.  Isn’t it?

Jobs at Non-Profit Organizations

Everyone who has looked for a job within the last few years is certainly well aware how competitive and tight the job market has been. Plus, I continue to hear about the huge numbers of people applying for each posting.  The applicants tend to be highly over-qualified whatever the job as well.

Somewhat intuitively, I have been suggesting to people  that they might have a look at positions at non-profit organizations.  In my opinion (and I could be wrong), job seekers overlook such opportunities.  Why?The salaries tend to be less than what you would find in the corporate world.  So, fewer people are apt to apply which leads to less competition. So, if you’re growing tired of searching, this avenue might get you back to work sooner.

At least two people I have met within the last year, decided to follow my suggestion and it worked. One person landed an accounting position within a few weeks of searching and the other  became a director of marketing and development for a prestigious health care organization.  For both, it was well worth the effort of exploring something different.

To find jobs in the non-profit sector, check out some online job boards specifically for non-profits.  In Colorado, it is my understanding that most positions are posted on the Colorado NonProfit Association website.  Idealist.org is a nationwide site that maintains listings of volunteer opportunities  as well paid positions. One other nationwide site worth trying is NonprofitJobs.org.  To find other job boards in your region or state, simply use the keywords, non-profit jobs plus a geographic location.

I would love some comments!

 

Increase Your Odds of Landing a Job

As a business librarian, I’m inclined to tell people to do research whether they are conducting a job search or contemplating the start of a new business. Plus, I tend to scour the universe for information before I finally decide I have enough data. People who have worked with me would certainly agree about my thorough approach.

So, when I read  Aldo Svaldi’s article today in The Denver Post entitled, As Colorado Jobs Start to Come Back, Searchers’ Skills Need Work,”  I noted that the various experts cited in this article each advocated doing research as part of a job search.

Andrew Hudson,who runs a popular job board in Denver commented that responding to postings on job boards should not consume more than 20% of a job seeker’s time.  Instead, spending time networking and making contacts is likely to be a more effective way of landing a new job.

That may sound easy but how does one find contacts?  As a librarian, I would recommend using ReferenceUSA, a popular online business directory available at many public libraries, to identify potential employers.  With ReferenceUSA, the user can quickly identify companies by industry, location, size, organization type, and more.  Download lists with contact names and their job titles.  Then, the hard part begins.  Either pick up the phone and start calling, network through others, or try making contact through LinkedIn.

Later on in the article, Sam Sargent, president of Human Resources Asset Management Systems Ltd in Monument, Colorado, remarked with regard to interviewing that “Job hunters need to do their research and show an interest that goes beyond pay, vacation time and the employer’s stability.”   I said, “YES” to that as well. So , go ahead and try something  your competition might not think about doing.

Do some research  about the company and  the industry so that you can ask focused questions when interviewed.  Such a strategy should demonstrate your genuine interest and enthusiasm about working for that company. Aim to set yourself apart from the competition making it totally obvious that you should be hired rather than the other guy or gal.

Looking for a Job: Brush Up On Your Work Skills

When you are out of a job and looking for work, it never hurts to brush up on your work skills.  What a better time to improve your skill at using Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Access, etc.  When you’re working a 40-hour job (plus overtime in some cases), it can be difficult to fit additional training or classes into a busy schedule.  It should be easier to find the time now. Can’t afford to pay for it?  No problem. Many public libraries and state or county workforce centers offer classes for free.  They probably have computers loaded with the most recent versions for you  to practice on after class.   No tests and no grades.  Meet friendly people and you may even learn about a job lead. 

If you have you been out of the workforce for some time, perhaps you could use a refresher for some specific skills in your profession.  Chances are you could bone up with a book.  But, maybe there is a class you could take (that when completed) you could also add to your resume). There may even be government funds to pay for a class. In any case, workforce centers maintain lists of recommended educational institutions and they will help you beef up your skill sets.

To find a local workforce center, conduct a keyword search in any search engine by typing, “workforce center” and the county and/or state you live in.  You should be able to locate a workforce center near you.

A little bit more education can go along way to way to landing a good job and better pay.