Month: May 2014

What “networking” is (and it may not be what you think)

It is generally believed that up to 85% of all job positions that are filled, are never posted. This seems high to me; but whatever the real number is, it is undeniably true that employers prefer to hire those who are referred to them.

As a job seeker, then, your challenge is to get a referral.

Which means you need to meet more people.

Which means you need to Network.

To increase the likelihood of landing the position you want, you need to meet someone who can refer you.

To increase the likelihood of landing the position you want, you need to meet the person who can refer you.

Many people believe “networking” is a contest, going to industry conferences, schmoozing, handing out as many business cards and collecting as many as you can. For many of us, the very idea of making small talk with lots of people we don’t know is uncomfortable at best, and even paralyzing.

Some of us believe “networking” can be adding lots of people on LinkedIn or Twitter, because it is easier to “talk” if we never have to actually meet.

I am not going to try to “out-introvert” any of you. Just understand that I buy more books in year than I have Facebook friends. I have never been naturally gifted with the art of small talk (my brother got these genes. I got the good looks). But I have learned this:

Networking is not about adding as many people as I can into my contact list. Nor is networking accomplished predominately, on social media.

Networking is about developing added-value relationships.

That is, every time you meet someone new, you should be asking yourself, “How can I help this person?”

And how do you know how you can help someone?

            Ask them!

            Listen to their answer!

            Follow up!

Once I learned this, “networking” became something I actually enjoy.

I still go to my share of large industry conferences, and I do collect my share of business cards. However I do not have as my goal to meet as many people as possible. I have as my goal:

Meet one new person, and see how I can help them.

Do this often enough, and your network will grow. Even more, you greatly increase the likelihood of finding the person who can, and will, refer you to a hiring decision maker.

I’ll share tips I’ve learned to become a better “networker” in future posts. Follow along!

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

I want to hear from you. Connect with me on FacebookLinkedIn andTwitter, or leave a comment below, and let me know what you think!

Stay encouraged

Job Search is tough. You submit dozens of applications online and never hear a response. You go to job fairs, and the only companies that are hiring for what you want tell you to apply online. You finally get an interview, only to find out the position has been filled.

Feeling down

It is easy to get discouraged, especially as days turn into weeks, and your budget grows tighter as you try to support your family and bills still need to be paid.

But to be successful, you can’t give up. You have to remain positive.

You may allow yourself time to wallow in self-pity, but to be successful in your job search, you have to snap out of it.

My suggestion:

Success breeds success, so set small, attainable goals.

In basketball, when a 3-point shooter is struggling, a coach will draw up a play to give the player a layup. Gain a little bit of confidence, then he or she can move back and start firing away with confidence.

For job search, start shooting layups. Set small goals such as:

  • Attend two networking events in the next week.
  • Meet and connect with five new people. Follow up.
  • Set up one informational interview next week.

These are very attainable goals. If you want to be more aggressive, then go to it.

Keep applying for the jobs you want, for which you are qualified, but I would not necessarily advise an artificial goal like “5 applications per day.” At that point, you likely are applying for jobs where you are not qualified, then you will not get the interview, and you just get more frustrated.

These in themselves will likely not lead to a job offer, which is the ultimate goal. But as you start checking things off your “job search to-do” list, you will gain more confidence, you will show more confidence, you will be more positive, and will start to have more success.

Time and time again, I hear from job seekers (myself included) that their big break came on or shortly after their darkest day. You have to hang tough.

To quote the great sage, Rocky Balboa, “Life isn’t about how hard you can hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

And don’t forget to visit your mother.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

I want to know what you think! Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter, or leave a comment below.

Don’t neglect the job searching details

Successful job search requires that you figure out what you want to do, create a winning resume, practice interview questions, and so on. But many employers tell me that far too many job seekers fail because they do not take care of the details.

Employers have not hired otherwise qualified candidates because of one of the following errors:

No contact information

If an employer cannot get a hold of you, they will not wait for you. They will instead make an offer to the next-best qualified candidate.

Make sure that your name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn URL are included

            at the top of your resume,

            at the bottom of your cover letter,

            in your email signature block, and

            on your business cards.

When you call and leave a voice message, always leave your name and phone number at the beginning of a short message. Yes, chances are high that they have caller ID; however, you must make contacting you as easy as possible for the employer. Do not make them work.

Do not confuse or offend a potential employer

Do not confuse or offend a potential employer

Unprofessional email address

You may have a separate email address that you use for friends and families and to log in to online accounts, but for job seeking, you need a professional address – your name (FirstnameLastname@, or Firstname.Lastname@). If you have a common name, you may need to include a number or a symbol; do not use your age or date of birth.

From a branding perspective, the repetition of your name across all points of contact (email address, resume, cover letter, LinkedIn URL) identifies you with your personal brand. Free email accounts are easily available through Google Gmail, Yahoo, and others.

Answering your phone unprofessionally

Always. Even if you think you recognize the number on your caller ID. And please, re-record your voice message greeting:

“Hi, this is (name). I am not able to take your call right away, but please leave your name and number and I will return your call as soon as possible.”

Having an obnoxious call-waiting song

An employer once called an applicant to make an offer, but the call-waiting song was so vulgar, that she hung up without leaving a message, and called someone else instead.

My own opinion is that any call-waiting song is obnoxious. Take it off. If you insist on having a call-waiting song, make sure it is as non-offensive as possible (but let me know if you find a song that does not offend at least one person).

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

I want to hear from you. Connect with me on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter, or leave a comment below, and let me know what you think!

Book review: The Subversive Job Search

"The Subversive Job Search," by Alan Corey

“The Subversive Job Search,” by Alan Corey

After reading the first chapter of The Subversive Job Search by Alan Corey, I wanted to hate it. Corey’s first book, A Million Bucks by 30 (which I haven’t read), detailed how he earned over $1Million by age 30 in real estate. Apparently, he had his own reality TV show (which I never saw) and restaurant, and as he says in Chapter 1 of Subversive, he though he had it made and would never have to work again.

Then came the Great Recession, combined with poor spending habits out of boredom, and before he knew it, Corey was broke and jobless with no source of income. By now he is married with a family, and to provide for them, he decides he is going to earn a six-figure income within 18 months.

This seemed a bit shallow (totally money driven) and presumptuous (that he could pull it off), and I was prepared to quit reading after the next chapter.

However…

I was pleasantly surprised, and I ended up pulling for him.

I don’t think I would call Corey’s job search “subversive.” Instead, he did everything absolutely right. He exhibited two traits that every successful job seeker and career changer must have:

  • An unwavering commitment to a goal, and
  • The ability to sell the skills and qualifications that meet the needs of an employer.

How he went about his quest is quite entertaining, and quite informative for all job seekers. I recommend this book, and hopefully it helps other job seekers to have the courage to figure out what you want, and to go for it with unwavering focus.

My apologies to Mr. Corey for my initial reaction! And congratulations and best wishes for your continued success.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

Corey, Alan. The Subversive Job Search: How to Overcome a Lousy Job, Sluggish Economy, and Useless Degree to Create a Six-Figure Career. Pompton Plains: The Career Press, Inc., 2013. Print.

I want to know what you think. Please connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter, or leave a comment below.

Using O*Net Online to consider wage and employment trends

For many, the Great Recession was a Great Awakening, as we realized that employers could not, and would not, provide long-term security. Companies shed hundreds of thousands of loyal workers every month and entire occupations disappeared, some to never again return. This forced millions of workers to consider new occupations. The critical consideration is, for what occupations do your skills suggest you are qualified? There are two other equally critical considerations:

1. Is the occupation viable in terms of wage or salary? Does it pay enough to meet your necessary expenses?

2. Is the occupation viable in terms of number of opportunities?

Career One Stop, linked to O*Net Online, gives valuable information to help answer these considerations.

On O*Net Online, find your state to open the Career One Stop

On O*Net Online, find your state to open the Career One Stop

Assume you want to be a Typewriter Repair Person. Entering “Typewriter Repair” in O*Net Online, you select “Home Appliance Repair.”

Scroll to the bottom and find “Wage and Employment Trends.”

Enter your state (or, the state where you want to live) and click “Go.” This opens the Career One Stop page for this occupation.

Scroll halfway down the page, and find “State and National Wages.

This gives the range of wages typical for this occupation. The Median income means that half of companies pay more than this wage, and half of companies pay less. It does NOT mean that any given company will pay a wage on this range. I recommend looking at the 25th percentile (You have completed a spending budget, correct?) and ask, “Does this wage cover my expenses?” If it does not, then you must either have a plan for additional sources of income to make up the difference, or choose another occupation.

On the Career One Stop, examine the Wage and Trends for your occupation

On the Career One Stop, examine the Wage and Trends for your occupation

Next, look at “State and National Trends” and find two numbers: the Percent Change, and the Projected Annual Job Openings for your state. The Percent Change should be a positive double-digit number, suggesting that the occupation is growing. If you are fortunate enough to find a job in a contracting occupation (negative, or single-digit growth), you are at risk of this occupation ending, and you will soon be searching for another new job.

Be aware that double-digit growth of a very small base still means few projected openings, as is the case for Home Appliance Repair.

O*Net Online identifies “HVAC Installers and Mechanics” as a Related Occupation for Home Appliance Repair. Following the links, the 25th percentile wage is $37K annual ($18/hr), with over 400 projected openings per year. I might encourage our Home Appliance Repair Person to instead consider how her skills qualify her to pursue an HVAC opportunity.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

I want to hear from you. Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter, or leave a comment below, and let me know what you think!

Book review: “Guerrilla Networking”

"Guerrilla Networking" by Jay Conrad Levinson and Monroe Mann

“Guerrilla Networking” by Jay Conrad Levinson and Monroe Mann

Jay Conrad Levinson (@JayLevinson) is the author of Guerrilla Marketing and the founder of the Guerrilla Marketing method. but Guerilla Networking is really Monroe Mann’s (@MonroeMann) book and is largely written from his perspective. According to Mann, the genesis of Guerrilla Networking was when he sent an email to Levinson just before he was deployed to Iraq. Levinson had read Mann’s earlier book, The Theatrical Juggernaut, and was therefore interested to meet.

Mann wanted to meet Levinson because he admired the Guerrilla Marketing method. Levinson wanted to meet Mann because he admired Mann’s book. This illustrates the premise of guerrilla networking, which is to stop trying to meet people, and instead work on being the person that others want to meet.

Guerrilla Networking is divided into four sections:

Section 1 details why, in their opinion, traditional networking (meeting lots of people) doesn’t work.

Section 2 lists 50 ways you can make yourself “cool,” including “Write a successful book,” “Offer investment capital,” “Get media exposure,” and “Hire a publicist.” There are also several suggestions (send an email, make a phone call, leave a voice message), which I suggest fall into “traditional networking,” which they had just dismissed.

Section 3 offers testimonials, mainly from friends of Mann, of the effectiveness of Guerrilla Networking.

Section 4, the most useful section, gives practical steps on how to launch a guerrilla networking campaign. Basically you identify whom you want to meet, and how you can make yourself cool enough to make that that person want to meet you. For example, to get Jack Nicholson to want to meet you, you might win an Academy Award. To do that, you might write an Academy Award-caliber screenplay. To do that, you might take a class on screenwriting, and so on until you break down the steps enough that you can do the first (or next) step immediately. Then, do it.

Networking is adding value to the people you meet. Mann tries too hard, and does a disservice in trying to redefine Networking. That said, I like the idea of not trying to meet people just to meet people, and instead try to become “cool.” In other contexts, this can make you a subject-matter expert, and a well-rounded and more interesting person. The world will be better for it.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

Levinson, Jay Conrad and Mann, Monroe. Guerrilla Networking; a Proven Battle Plan to Attract the Very People You Want to Meet. New York: Morgan James Publishing, 2008. Print.


I want to hear from you. Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter, or leave a comment below, and let me know what you think!

The Holland Interests Party Game on O*Net Online

When it comes to job search, I tell clients they have to have a single occupation target. You can change your target if your first choice doesn’t pan out, but a scatter-shot approach is rarely successful. Employers want specialization.

This often poses a challenge for my clients. Some have trouble deciding between two or more occupations where they may have experience. Others feel they have no qualifications (an answer I never accept) and truly do not know what they want to do.

Choose your First, then Second, then Third most interesting Work Environment

Choose your First, then Second, then Third most interesting Work Environment

One approach I use is the Holland Party Game.

Starting with the theory that workers are most satisfied in occupations that match their interests (well, duh…), psychologist John Holland theorized that occupational interests can be categorized by the unique combination of six personality traits. Thus comes the Party Game to identify the top-three (of six) personality traits for an individual.

The game is played like this:

Imagine you walk into a room and find six clusters of people. Conveniently, above each cluster is a sign that suggests (broadly) what the group is discussing. Which cluster would you be most interested in joining?

After 15 minutes, the group disbands, but you are just getting started. Which of the remaining five groups would you be most interested in joining?

And then, after that group disbands, which of the remaining four groups would you join?

You have now ranked your top-three interests, and can consult charts to find occupations that may be of interest to you.

Conveniently, O*Net Online manages the game for you.

Click on "Interests" or "Find it Now" to play the Holland Party Game

Click on “Interests” or “Find it Now” to play the Holland Party Game

From the O*Net home page, find “Interests” in the pull-down menu under “Advanced Search.” Next, simply select which of the six Work Environments most interests you. Then, select your second and third interests, and see what occupations this suggests.

Alternately, from the ONet home page, click on, “Find it Now,” and under “Tell us what you like to do,” click “Start” to complete the “ONet Interest Profiler.” You are asked to answer how much you Dislike or Like 60 work activities (it goes quickly). The results are immediate and give you a rank-order of the six Holland Interest Codes, along with occupation suggestions.

Please note, Interest does not mean Qualified. If you want to be an airline pilot but have had zero training, it is not going to happen, at least not right away. But, maybe you would find an interesting occupation with an airline, or at an airport.

Even if you have an idea of what you like to do, you may want to play the game to see what other occupations it suggests. You may be surprised.

But, PICK ONE!, and go after it.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

I want to hear from you. Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter, or leave a comment below, and let me know what you think!