Month: April 2015

Manage Your Social Media

This blog, in a slightly different format, was originally posted on LocalWork.com.

CC image courtesy Sean MacEntee via Flickr.com

CC image courtesy Sean MacEntee via Flickr.com

According to a 2013 CareerBuilder.com survey, 39% of employers screen a job applicant’s social media sites. Of those, another 43% found something on Facebook, Twitter, etc., to cause them to not hire a candidate. Both of these figures are increases from the year before, and it is expected that the numbers are even higher today.

We can debate whether it is right, ethical, or legal for employers to consider our social media posts, but the fact is, they are.

Job seekers must manage their social media.

First, stop digging a hole. If you have made disparaging comments about your job, boss, or colleagues, if you brag about playing hooky, or if you post about your binge drinking, drug use, or sexual conquests – stop! It turns out, our mothers, and Thumper, are right. If you have ever posted anything like these, delete them, now.

Second, set your privacy settings where they make sense. My LinkedIn and Twitter accounts are open (I want to be found), while my Facebook is restricted to Friends/Family. However, I am fully aware that all it takes is for one Facebook friend to “share” a post to their feed and all of a sudden, it is out there.

Third, assess the damage. Search for your name, including variants (James and Jim) on Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Then, set up a Google Alert for your own name.

Fourth, if there is anything potentially damaging to your online reputation, then bury it. Open new social media accounts; sign on to the message boards of your professional affiliations; start a blog. Post comments and content that support the brand reputation you want, and that set you up as a subject-matter expert for your position and career. Your goal is to have enough positive things about you online that the negatives are buried to the second or third page, or lower, on a search engine. The negative stuff might still be found, but hopefully there will be enough positives to minimize its impact.

Fifth, especially if you have a somewhat common name, create a card with your social media links that you can hand to potential employers, so that you are not mistaken for the similarly-named person who spends more time at Spring Break than in school. This assumes, of course, that you cleaned up your social media sites!

I would love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below, or connect with me on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

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

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How to Answer, “Do You Have Any Questions For Me?”

At some point of the job interview, the interviewer will ask, “Do you have any questions for me?”

The wrong answer is, “No, I think you answered everything.”

The correct answer is, “Yes, I do have some questions.” And then, ask some questions.

There are two main reasons you want to ask questions.

Image courtesy Ole Ronberg via Flickr.com

Image courtesy Ole Ronberg via Flickr.com

First, remember, you are interviewing the company as much as the company is interviewing you. If and when they make an offer, you want to be in a position to make an informed decision about whether to accept.

Second, and critically, the interview is not over. The interviewer is trying to answer the unspoken question, “Do I like you?” Think about your friends, the people you like. Why do you like them? Probably because to some extent, your friends have indicated they take an interest in something that interests you. Companies are the same way. They are more likely to “like” you if you show an interest in them. The best way to show this is to ask them questions.

There are four types of questions you should be prepared to ask:

  • Questions about the job position itself. These questions will go a long ways towards helping you decide if you would want the position, if offered.

Who would you be working with? What is the reporting structure? How many customers, if any, would you be facing? What tools or procedures would you be expected to use? What specific skills and qualifications are required?

Use caution with these questions, though. Do not ask questions where you reasonably, with basic research, could find the answer yourself. Also, it is likely that many of these questions will be discussed during the interview itself. If these are the only questions you have, you may be caught short. Be prepared with some of the other types of questions as well.

  • Questions that show you have done your research. (You have done your research, right?)

Has there been a merger? A change in leadership? A new product launch? Has the competitor done something that will affect this company?

  • Questions that show you care about company and your performance.

How do you measure success? What are the 30/60/90 day goals for the position? What did the previous person in this position do well? How can I be most successful in this position? What keeps you up at night?

  • Questions about the process and next steps.

What is your role in the decision-making process? What are the next steps? Did I answer all of your questions?

Always ask for business cards from everyone you met.

NEVER ask about salary or benefits, insurance plans or vacation days.

A great question to ask at the end of the interview is, “Do you have any questions about my resume or the way I answered any of your questions in regards to me fulfilling the requirements of the job?” This could tell you that you knocked it out of the park, or it just may give you the opportunity to salvage an offer!

Part of your job interview prep should be to consider and write down a list of questions to take with you.

I would love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below, or connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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

Master Application Workshop

I was invited to present a Master Application workshop at the Employment Encounter Job Fair on April 21, 2015.

The audience was youth/young adult job seekers, many of whom are graduating seniors with a disability. Many are seeking their first job.

This is the slide deck I created and presented (opens in SlideShare). In it, I shared:

  • The difference between a Resume and a Master Application
  • Why you need a Master Application / cheat sheet
  • The elements of a Master Application
  • Documents needed to satisfy the I-9 form
  • The difference between Fired, Laid Off, and Quit
  • How to complete an application if you have limited work experience
  • How to answer the Criminal Conviction question
  • Preparing your references

About 75 job seekers were in attendance.

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!

It’s Not About Me

This blog, in a slightly different format, was originally posted on LocalWork.com.

Until the Great Recession, I never had to look for work. When I was in college, I needed beer and pizza money so I answered an ad in the student newspaper. I was screened, hired, trained, and began working that same day. Within six months I received two promotions so I decided to stick with it after graduation. A few years and a few more promotions later I received a call from a headhunter offering a chance to do more of what I liked to do and less of what I didn’t like to do at twice the pay, so I took it. I continued my upward movement over the next few years until finally, in 2009, I was let go during a company merger. For the first time ever, I had to learn how to job-search.

My first and most important lesson:

It’s not about me.

It is about what companies need and the benefits I can bring to them.

Companies do not hire out of compassion. They may feel for you on a human level, they may wish they can do something to end your unemployment, but their business is not to create employment opportunities. Their business is to increase profit for the shareholders.

A company increases profit by one of two ways: by increasing sales, or by decreasing costs. Companies hire, then, based on their belief that you can help them, increase sales or decrease costs (or, ideally, both).

The average job seeker talks about their experiences and job responsibilities.

The successful job seeker demonstrates in their sales pitch/elevator speech, their resume and cover letter, and in the interview that they have experience in increasing sales and/or decreasing costs.Be as specific as possible. Use numbers. If you can put a dollar sign in front of the number, or a percent sign after, then so much the better.

  • You didn’t just create a marketing campaign. Instead, you created and managed a $1.7million marketing campaign that led to a 12% increase of sales year over year.
  • You weren’t just an administrative assistant. Instead, you increased efficiency by automating a reporting technique, resulting in 4 hours per week of saved time.
  • You weren’t just a cook. Instead, you prepared 400 meals per weeknight and 600 meals per weekend with a 50% decrease in dinners being returned.
  • You didn’t just work in a warehouse. Instead, you consistently exceeded packing and shipping goals and had zero returns for incorrect product.

If I was an employer, and you gave me one of those examples, you would have my attention. I would want to know more.

It is no question that job searching is tough. But you can be better than the average job seeker and give yourself the best opportunity for success, if you always remember:

It’s not about me.

I would love to hear what you think! Please leave a note below, or contact me via Twitter or LinkedIn.

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

Book Review: “The Networking Survival Guide”

Diane Darling, Founder and CEO of Effective Networking, Inc., wrote The Networking Survival Guide for publication in 2003, before the advent of Twitter, LinkedIn, and social media as we know it.

Which is why I like and recommend The Networking Survival Guide, because it is old-school.

Darling teaches, and pre-supposes, that the purpose of networking is to develop, strengthen, and maintain real one-on-one relationships with real people; ideally face-to-face, but when that is not practical, then one-on-one by phone and/or email.

Darling teaches:

  • Have a plan (know what you want to accomplish when attending a networking event)
  • Work your plan (prepare, prepare, prepare – leave nothing to chance)
  • What to do, and what to avoid, at a networking event
  • The all-important follow-up to maintain your network
  • Where to network (networking events, job fairs, anywhere there is a second person!)
  • How to network when you don’t feel like networking

There is a brief discussion, which Darling ultimately dismisses, about using Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs; anyone remember the Palm Pilot?). Otherwise, everything in the book is face-to-face, handshakes (dry palms), business cards, and if necessary, telephone. Old School.

It’s not as if Darling doesn’t understand LinkedIn. There is a Second Edition, published in 2010, with 40+ additional pages. I haven’t read this edition, I suspect there is at least a chapter talking about social media.

Still, I suspect that Darling agrees with me: Social Media, including LinkedIn, is a tool to help you manage your network, and is not networking in and of itself.

The Networking Survival Guide: Get the Success You Want by Tapping into the People You Know

The Networking Survival Guide: Get the Success You Want by Tapping into the People You Know

Darling, Diane.The Networking Survival Guide: Get the Success You Want by Tapping into the People You Know. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003. Print.

Have you read this book? I would love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below, or connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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

LinkedIn 101 for Job Seekers

LinkedIn is NOT merely a job search tool. LinkedIn is a tool, I believe, that can help every professional in every profession do their job better.

If you are a job seeker, however, you really have to be on LinkedIn. It is too powerful a tool to ignore.

Every Career Advisor, Employment Specialist, and Job Coach has his their own LinkedIn presentation. Here is mine, where I discuss:

  • What LinkedIn is, and is not
  • Why you want to use LinkedIn
  • How to create an All-Star profile
  • The best way to add connections, and what to avoid
  • Methods to showcase your expertise
  • How to leverage your LinkedIn network to advance your career

Please let me know what you think! Is there anything more about LinkedIn that you would like me to answer? Leave a comment below, or connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn (if you do, tell me why you want to connect).

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

Book Review: “Follow Me! Creating a Personal Brand with Twitter”

The challenge of writing a book on social media is that at least some of the book becomes obsolete by the time it is published. And so is the case with Sarah-Jayne Gratton’s (@grattongirl) Follow Me!

My purpose for reading the book was to find tips on how to maximize my Twitter experience without spending all my time on Twitter. Follow Me! was written for those who extensively use Twitter for their professional marketing experiences.

The practical section of the book, Part Two, includes chapters on:

– Defining your brand,

– Creating a great profile

– Building your Twitter followers without falling prey to spam, bots, and multi-level marketers.

The chapters I found most helpful described:

– The four-types of Tweets (Share, Inform, Thank, Engage, or SITE)

– Creating a “Twittertorial” Calendar (how to curate and pre-schedule tweets for maximum impact)

– Thinking of Twitter as your own personal broadcast show (what to schedule, when to schedule, and repeating the schedule).

The second-half of the book is where it starts to show its age. Chapters are devoted to:

– Twitter Branding Showcase Stories, nine Twitter feeds that (as of 2012) author Gratton found particularly descriptive;

– Twitter Toolkit, descriptions of particularly helpful Twitter tools. Some, however, no longer exist (bye-bye, TweetDeck).

If your interest in Twitter is non, or low, or only for interacting with friends and family, then this book probably will not appeal to you.

For those who care about their personal or professional brand, Twitter is a key component of the social media strategy, and Follow Me! has a lot of good advice.

Gratton, Sarah-Jayne. Follow Me! Creating a Personal Brand with Twitter. Indianapolis: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012. Print.

Follow Me! Creating a Personal Brand with Twitter

Follow Me! Creating a Personal Brand with Twitter

Have you read this book? I would love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below, or connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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