Archive for the ‘Job Search Tips’ Category

  • Your Originality: How to Capture and Market It

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    We are – each and everyone of us – original. No two people are exactly alike. That originality is our brand and our selling point. The author, CS Lewis, once said,  “No man [or woman] who bothers about originality will be original: simply tell the truth and you’ll become original without noticing it.”

    Ahhh, but the challenge for many is how to capture and communicate what makes us unique and then how to position that as value to the person with whom we would like to work.

    I found two blog posts this week to help overcome the challenges of defining and marketing originality.

    Joanna Maxwell’s workincolour.com blog  post, What Are Your Talents? is a gem of a working tool. Maxwell says, “It’s not currently fashionable to talk about talents: we focus on skills and experience, or describe someone as ‘gifted’ without getting too specific. But talents are part of our essential make-up – the gifts, passions, interests and natural aptitudes we are born with.”

    These talents are an inherent part of our original make-up, and Maxwell takes readers through an exercise, based on Howard Gardner’s “Eight Core Intelligences” to help us identify those talents we have and those we do not. She then goes on to suggest we investigate our other non-Gardner talents and work the whole batch up into a profile (sample provided) that we and others can understand.

    Now for an original way to market your originality, read Take the Employer’s-Eye View by Liz Ryan on the Glassdoor.com Blog.

    Ryan says, “We are trained (badly!) to talk about ourselves in our job search overtures to employers. We are taught to say that we’ve done this and that and worked in X, Y and Z industries. We are schooled in telling employers what we think of our own skills: ‘I’m strategic and savvy and a good communicator.’ This old-school job search approach is dangerous garbage, because it keeps us from focusing on the one thing an employer cares about: namely, him- or herself, and his or her own problems.”

    Lots of information in each of these blogs to help make you clear, relevant and valuable.

    And speaking of relevant, this weekend we should try to remember the real meaning of Memorial Day and that it is not – as most holidays have become – a car, mattress, coat or cashmere mega sale day.

    Happy Holiday and thank you to all of those who gave their lives so that we might enjoy it!

  • Color Your Way to Success: Learn What Colors Reveal About You and The Organization Where You Think You’d Like to Work

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    I’ve just been studying David McCandless’ amazingly informative “Infographic of the Day: What Colors Mean Across 10 Cultures,” in an article by Cliff Kuang, published in Fast Company Magazine online, Apr 26, 2010.

    "Colours in Cultures," by David McCandless

    “The chart encompasses 10 different cultures, and 62 emotions (!!!). The cultures are represented by concentric rings, and the emotions are represented by slices of the circle. Thus, if you want to understand about Japanese color sensibilities, you read around the graph. And if you want to learn what colors mean “danger” across cultures, you just read vertically, down section 15.”

    Kuang says, “Colors are probably the most obvious way that design varies across cultures … But the funny thing is that for most designers and companies, those color sensibilities often don’t rise past ‘Red is lucky in China; blue is soothing in the West.’ That’s naive.”

    Consider, for example that # 66, Personal Power is represented by purple in Western /American cultures; yellow in Hindi; and green in Native American.

    # 77, Success = red in Native American, Chinese, Asian and South American; and green in African cultures.

    # 46, Intelligence = blue in Western/American; white in Hindi and black in Asian.

    This is not to say that you have to wear certain colors, but you need to be aware of what they represent to the organizations where you are trying to present yourself as the best candidate.  Do you wish to leave the impression that you are powerful, or maybe intelligence is key to who you are and what you can contribute?

    In the same light, be aware of the colors the organization has chosen to represent itself. Is it a cool calm blue, a peaceful green or a powerful, highly energetic red/orange environment?

    It’s not that your colors have to coordinate with the organization’s decor but they should not clash. Would your calm, introspective demeanor thrive in hot pink?

    Most important: be authentic. Do not dress in flamboyant, flashy colors if your brightest hue is traditionally moss green. Be true to yourself and your colors – that is always the best path to long-term success!

  • No fainting goats… and no sheep!

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    This fascinating “White” paper, Take Charge in Changing Times: Ten Career Tips from Australian, Joanna Maxwell is a must read. I rarely use “must,” preferring to let readers make their own choices, but there are so many valuable insights here, it is a must! The insights are grounded in reality – the kind of tips that first seem so obvious we cannot understand why we had not noticed them before. These “Ten Career Tips” are just as applicable for any aspect of our lives – not just our business genes. Even better – the words and the colourful art are incredibly good fun!

    workincolour.com.au

    Joanna’s highly creative website WorkInColour: Work.Think.Live.In Colour is a feast for your eyes, mind, body and soul. Enjoy!

  • Seniors Who Rest on Their Laurels Don’t Stand a Chance in Today’s Job Market

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    Yes, 25 years of solid accomplishments add gravitas to your resume, but you could also sink like a stone under the weight of that gravitas if you do not convert past accomplishments into present-day assets.

    Maybe you were a brilliant analyst, but do you know that Google Analytics is not about the company’s earning ratio?

    Perhaps you were a direct marketing mogul. That’s wonderful but do you know how to optimize social media marketing today?

    If you are serious about working in your 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s, we know you’re interesting, courageous, eager to continue learning and contributing to the world around you. The good news is that there are lots of resources to help you bring your skills up-to-speed so you can find a good home for that passion.

    Check out adult education or community college programs.

    Here in Maine, the MCED (Maine Center for Enterprise Development) is an entrepreneur-centric resource for simplifying the process of launching a successful start-up. Other states have similar programs.

    The Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes are another great resource. Use this map to find an OLLI in your state.

    Your passion – your desire to find meaningful work – is only as good as your plan. And that plan requires a tremendous amount of due diligence.  That research begins long before the interview. It involves finding out as much as you can about the company where you think you’d like to work.

    What are their goals? Are they in line with yours? Check out their marketing materials. Then, find customer feedback.  Is the company accomplishing what it says it will do? Are its customers happy, apathetic, dissatisfied or extremely dissastisfied?

    What is the company culture and work environment? It’s easy for the company to project whatever image it wants in a marketing campaign; you need to find out what people are saying about the company, its management team and its employees. This is where your networking pays off. Talk to someone or someone who knows someone who can give you the inside scoop.

    Once you’re satisfied that this could be a good place to work, you need to learn who are the company’s biggest competitors? What challenges is the company facing in the next 6 months, next year and next two years. This information is key so you can tailor your working resume to meet those needs.

    First, make sure your resume prominently conveys that you have the skills (which you’ve so diligently brought up-to-speed) to do the job. You must write with the reader in mind. If the reader/hiring manager isn’t interested, your resume will hit the reject pile in seconds.

    Also – and this is critical – you must make a compelling case that your skills, background and experience make you the best candidate to do the job profitably for the company.  Provide meaningful data to document your assertions.

    All of this is necessary to actually get the interview. Once you are in the interview, you can make a much better case by asking the hiring manager what he or she sees as the biggest challenge facing the company. Then present a mini-plan (informed by your earlier research) describing how you would address the challenge if you were in the job.  This is where all your due diligence pays off. Your plan contains specifics garnered from your research which demonstrate your knowledge of the company and also your genuine interest in working there to help them solve the problems they face.  Your plan is not a generic blueprint that you could apply to any scenario.

    Yes, this is a lot of work and if you’re not prepared to do it perhaps you really do not want that job as much as you thought you did.

  • Job the Obscure: How to Find and Navigate the Underground Job Market

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    Yes, I was and still am an unabashed English major. I love literature, language and words  – specifically finding a way to contextualize new concepts. And, if Thomas Hardy can help us peel back the layers of secrecy protecting the hidden job market, I am all for it. Remember Hardy’s themes in Jude the Obscure: class, scholarship, religion, marriage and the modernization of thought and society? Strikes me that many of those 19th-century themes still challenge us today.

    A huge advantage that we have and Hardy’s characters did not is our ability to cross – to a certain extent – over class, education and social barriers as we try to secure the job we want. Networking is key to negotiating these hurdles. First and foremost, conservative estimates are that 80% of jobs are never posted in classifieds or job boards. That “hidden” 80% is filled by referrals from one trusted individual to another through networks.

    Networking helps you successfully market your identity, skills and experience. Whether it is the traditional one-on-one meeting or virtual introductions via social media channels, networking also provides a way for people with whom you’d like to work to get to know you and for you to get to know the behind-the-scenes story of the organization where you’d like to work. It’s all about good fit, and that works both ways. It’s not just about you trying to fit the mold to secure the job.

    Your networking should be purposeful. It takes on-going commitment and nurturing. A few valuable beginning steps were posted by our Canadian blogging colleague, Stephanie Clark:

    Her first advice is “Get Started!

    • Ask for an informational meeting with someone who is doing the job you want. Use the meeting to ask questions about necessary credentials, industry trends and so on. Do not ask for a job; build a relationship.
    • Research companies to identify which ones you would love to work for. Contact your immediate network of friends, family, and neighbours, and ask who knows of someone employed by one of these companies. Ask them to ask their circle as well. Remember that we are all connected through a scant six degrees of separation.
    • Join professional organizations, alumni groups, social clubs, volunteer organizations, sports teams—whichever suits your style. Network within these.
    • Read with an eye for new business news, calendars of events, construction projects, interviews with local business leaders—and follow up on promising leads.
    • Go for it. If you see a job that you truly fit, approach the receptionist or call the supervisor. If you can’t speak with the right person, perhaps you can get your resume in front of the right person.
    • Create an online presence with profiles on LinkedIn, MySpace or Twitter. Write a blog, post articles on EzineArticles.com and create your free resume webpage on VisualCV.com.
    • Create a business card for networking purposes that contains not only your contact information, but also your Value Proposition. Carry it at all times and hand out a few daily.

    Hiring is a social act. Most hires are based not only on skill and past experience, but also on chemistry. If you don’t “fit” the company, you’re not offered the position. Networking allows you to establish a connection before the interview process. It also proves that you are a go-getter, and that you know how to communicate and develop relationships.

    As you go about meeting people make sure that you maintain an atmosphere of mutual exchange, not personal gain. Be present, not thinking of your next appointment; be selective, not trying to squish as many contacts as possible into every day; and make the effort to establish ongoing relationships when you feel a connection. Share ideas, information, and resources—helping with true value establishes your true value!”

  • Social Media Works! The day I posted my profile on LinkedIn my Blog stats tripled and I received a job offer.

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    Speaking as a former technology Luddite (I did not lose my Web virginity until my 50th birthday had sailed by), I am thrilled to see how well the latest Social Media tools can work. I posted my LinkedIn profile, emailed 30 colleagues to cue them I had joined their virtual network and within hours the number of unique visitors to my blog had tripled and one contact wrote back to offer me a job. All of this happened – not on a “busy” weekday – but on a late, sleepy Sunday afternoon. Clearly, these online networks operate 24/7 and folks are not just surfing; they are working!

    Lest you think my virtual network success was a bolt from the blue, it was not. I have been developing networks the old fashioned way (phone, letter, email, and shockingly even face-to-face) for eons. I have tippy-toed into the virtual world with extreme care and much due diligence. I studied all the do’s and don’ts and scoured zillions of online tutorials before I so much as typed the big “T” for  Twitter!

    Five steps I learned the hard way which could be key to your success:

    1. Identify your audience. Is this about family and friends or professional colleagues and securing a job?

    2. Know what you want to say and, of course, have something to say that will be of interest or value to your audience. Nobody really cares if you’re having bananas or blueberries on your cereal each morning. But, if you had a flash of genius about how to secure the job of your dreams whilst munching, it might be okay to mention the fruit – just don’t overdo it. Your audience is interested in your epiphany not your edibles.

    3. Determine how you want to convey your message (humor, info, facts, data, personal experience, aggregated wisdom) and then assess which platform (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc) will work most effectively for you. Don’t jump in with both feet. Dip a toe in to test the water and make sure you can wriggle all ten comfortably before you dive in to another platform.

    4. Always remember that, like a traditional on-the-ground network, your virtual network needs nurturing and on-going maintenance. Keep it fresh and up-to-date. If you limit your postings to once a year or even once a month, it connotes a certain lack of interest and commitment or, even worse, that you really don’t know what you are doing!

    5. Be prepared to let go. Once you post what you consider a wise or erudite tidbit, be open to feedback – both positive and negative. That interchange or exchange of information and insights is the real value added – the way we learn.

  • What Do Job Boards and Black Holes Have in Common?

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    Too much I fear. There’s a reason they have names like “Monster.”

    I cannot imagine any scenario where a Job Board would be of value today. If that’s the way you choose to search for a job, you might as well print out 1000 copies of a generic resumé, hire a helium balloon, drift out over Nebraska and pitch them over the side of the gondola.

    Finding a job should not be like playing “Wheel of Fortune,” where you let the fates take control of your spin. Finding a job is very much under your control. It is proactive and involves a lot of highly focused research and preparation. To be precise, you need to figure 95% of your time for research and prep and 5% for the actual interview where you secure the job.

    First, you need to decide (in your head and heart – not some job board) what you would like to do. Second, brand what you do so others will recognize it. Third,  identify those organizations where you’d like to work and why they need someone like you. Fourth, find the individual in that organization who will best understand the value you bring. Finally, write to that enlightened person to tell them what you can do to optimize their organization’s success.

    Make no mistake, we are talking about a sales pitch. Put yourself in the employer’s shoes. If you were an employer looking for an individual with an office cleaning service, for example, which of the following would grab your attention?

    1.  Owner of Acme Office Cleaners submits a traditional resumé:

    • Objective: We are looking for more offices to add to our portfolio of satisfied clients
    • Education: Certified in all Whamo products
    • Chronology: History of the business, beginning with first client’s one room office to current 10 clients with average of 2500 square feet each
    • References: Supplied upon request

    2.  Owner of Turbo Cleaners submits a sales pitch:

    Acme Cleaners has never had a dissatisfied customer. No space is too large or too small; no soil too tough for our team of crack professionals. We are speedy and extremely efficient. Call us today and we will have a team at your office within 24-hours. If you’re not satisfied with the results, we will come back at no additional charge. Acme is a certified and fully insured cleaning enterprise, and we guarantee to meet the quotes of any competitors delivering equal service.

    Turbo wins hands down in my book!

    You can create the same captivating sales pitch for any business or organization with whom you’d like to work. Today, especially, no one has the time to pore over traditional resumés to try to determine if that person does or does not have what it takes to move their company forward. After you’ve done your due diligence to learn what an organization needs, you can show them what and how you can deliver. It takes time and care but it does produce results. While those other resumés are still floating over Nebraska, you will be walking into an interview, where the employer is eager to convince you that this company and this job are the ones for which you’ve been waiting.

    Does this mean you do not need a resumé? Absolutely not. Think of the resumé as a blueprint for your sales pitch. You need to ground the pitch in real details and data to document who you are and what you have accomplished and to articulate that history and those credentials (all part of your brand) so your potential is clear – to you as well as others.

  • Resumé Blasphemy

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    Nick Corcodilos, in his Ask the Headhunter blog, shares what he calls his “blasphemous resumé” philosophy.

    The idea, he says, is to create a “working resumé, where you provide the employer with just what he or she is looking for: proof of your understanding of the work that needs to be done, proof that you can do the work, do it the way the employer wants it done, and proof that you can do it profitably.”

    Prescient as that might be, I find the real piéce de résistance in Corcodilos’ blog is this extraordinary “working resumé” from Leonardo Da Vinci. One of Corcodilos’ readers, Phil Hey, at Briar Cliff College, Sioux City, Iowa, sent him Leonardo’s 1481, job-seeking letter:

    Leonardo DaVinci’s letter to Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, applying for a job in 1481:

    Having, most illustrious lord, seen and considered the experiments of all those who pose as masters in the art of inventing instruments of war, and finding that their inventions differ in no way from those in common use, I am emboldened, without prejudice to anyone, to solicit an appointment of acquainting your Excellency with certain of my secrets.

    1. I can construct bridges which are very light and strong and very portable, with which to pursue and defeat the enemy; and others more solid, which resist fire or assault, yet are easily removed and placed in position; and I can also burn and destroy those of the enemy.

    2. In case of a siege I can cut off water from the trenches and make pontoons and scaling ladders and other similar contrivances.

    3. If by reason of the elevation or the strength of its position a place cannot be bombarded, I can demolish every fortress if its foundations have not been set on stone.

    4. I can also make a kind of cannon which is light and easy of transport, with which to hurl small stones like hail, and of which the smoke causes great terror to the enemy, so that they suffer heavy loss and confusion.

    5. I can noiselessly construct to any prescribed point subterranean passages either straight or winding, passing if necessary underneath trenches or a river.

    6. I can make armoured wagons carrying artillery, which shall break through the most serried ranks of the enemy, and so open a safe passage for his infantry.

    7. If occasion should arise, I can construct cannon and mortars and light ordnance in shape both ornamental and useful and different from those in common use.

    8. When it is impossible to use cannon I can supply in their stead catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other instruments of admirable efficiency not in general use — In short, as the occasion requires I can supply infinite means of attack and defense.

    9. And if the fight should take place upon the sea I can construct many engines most suitable either for attack or defense and ships which can resist the fire of the heaviest cannon, and powders or weapons.

    10. In time of peace, I believe that I can give you as complete satisfaction as anyone else in the construction of buildings both public and private, and in conducting water from one place to another.

    I can further execute sculpture in marble, bronze or clay, also in painting I can do as much as anyone else, whoever he may be.

    Moreover, I would undertake the commission of the bronze horse, which shall endue with immortal glory and eternal honour the auspicious memory of your father and of the illustrious house of Sforza.

    And if any of the aforesaid things should seem to anyone impossible or impracticable, I offer myself as ready to make trial of them in your park or in whatever place shall please your Excellency, to whom I commend myself with all possible humility.

    Leonardo Da Vinci

    At last, we know the reason behind that enigmatic smile!

  • The 3 Facebook Settings Every User Should Check Now!

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    “Take 5 minutes to protect your privacy.”

    In this article Sarah Perez of ReadWriteWeb provides a step-by-step procedure to address a critical matter – your privacy.  It’s not complicated and it is extremely important that you tackle this matter post-haste.

    “While you may think these sorts of items aren’t worth your time now, the next time you lose out on a job because the HR manager viewed your questionable Facebook photos or saw something inappropriate a friend posted on your wall, you may have second thoughts. But why wait until something bad happens before you address the issue?”

  • 24 Free iPhone Apps for Job Hunting

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    Doriano “Paisano” Carta, blogging for the WebWorkerDaily, has identified 24 unique free iPhone apps that can help you with your job search and preparation for interviews.

    The apps cover a wide variety of diverse careers, helpful tips from recruiters and a broad geographic scope –  from finding a global position to SnagaJob which uses your iPhone’s GPS to locate jobs within a five mile radius of where you’re standing. It also uses zipcode searches to locate positions beyond the length of your arm.

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