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.

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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.

Four Steps to Cope with Change

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
Benjamin Franklin

Joseph-Siffrein Duplessis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Joseph-Siffrein Duplessis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Franklin may have been one of the wisest Americans who has ever lived, but in this case, he was wrong. There is a third certainty:

Change.

Some change we initiate, and for good reason: a new job, a marriage, the birth of a child.

Some changes are forced upon us against our will: a layoff, a new boss, the death of a loved one.

One of the maxims in Spencer Johnson’s top-selling business book, Who Moved My Cheese (the book that managers like to give to their staffs before a round a layoffs), is that we must change with the change or risk becoming extinct.

This is easy to say when the change is good. But how do we do this when change is forced upon us?

Let me give you four steps for Coping with Change:

1)  Expect Change

The typical interpretation of the classic Aesop Fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper” is that the ant planned ahead, that he worked all summer gathering food so that in winter he would not starve.

Johannes Moreelse (after 1602–1634) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Johannes Moreelse (after 1602–1634) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Notice that the ant anticipated change, he knew that the good times of summer would not last. He expected it to change.

As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus (left) put it, “Everything changes and nothing stands still.”

The mice in Johnson’s book noticed that the cheese supply was dwindling even before it moved, so they were ready with their next move. The little people did not anticipate the change and were caught off guard.

Expect there to be change, and you can more readily adapt to it.

2)  Choose Your Response to the Change

Sooner or later, you must accept that the status quo is different.

In some cases, it may have to be “later.” Some change is tough to deal with. Embrace your emotions. Allow yourself time, if necessary, to grieve.

All change involves loss. Some loss is good (getting a better job, getting married); some loss is harder to replace (the economic security of a well-paying job, the death of a loved one).

Concentrate on the things you can control – exercise, meditate, pray. Punch a pillow (in the privacy of your own home). Write in your journal (but don’t publish it as a blog). Seek counsel with an objective third party (not someone who is involved in the change with you).

3)  Accept the Change

Don’t rush your feelings, but do understand that the sooner you can accept the new status quo, the sooner you can begin to be successful under the new status quo.

4)  Embrace the Change

All change creates opportunity. Search for that opportunity, be it the pot of gold or the silver lining.

Set new goals under the new paradigm. Establish new habits to work with the new reality.

Finally, pay attention and be ready, because Change will happen again.

Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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

Book Review: “Get a Job! How I Found a Job when Jobs are Hard to Find, and So Can You!”

Author Dan Quillen was enjoying his career as an executive recruiter for a law firm when, like so many of us, he was laid off. Drawing on his experience as a recruiter, Get a Job details how he was able to secure an astounding 34 invitations to interview before landing a new position to continue his career.

In addition to detailed advice about resumes, cover letters, interview prep and the interview itself, Quillen includes chapters on:

Plan to Stay (make yourself important to your company), Prepare to Leave (continual professional development – finish school!)

First Steps After a Layoff (make a plan, work your plan)

Staying Positive (take care of yourself, ask for and accept help, realize you are not alone)

After You Land Your Job (an often neglected but vitally important aspect of career management – don’t get fired for silly mistakes!)

My only quibble, but not Quillen’s fault because it is not his experience and not his focus, is that Get a Job focuses on mid-level and above career transitions; there are no comments on the barriers that many of my clients face (challenges that come with job searching while experiencing homelessness, returning to work after long absences, or criminal background issues).

That aside, I recommend Get a Job because Quillen’s advice is spot-on, advice I coach my clients to consider. And you really can’t quibble with 34 invitations to interview!

Quillen, Dan. Get a Job! How I Found a Job When Jobs are Hard to Find – and So Can You. Cold Springs Press, 2013. Print.

Get a Job! How I Found a Job When Jobs are Hard to Find - and So Can You by Dan Quillen

Get a Job! How I Found a Job When Jobs are Hard to Find – and So Can You
by Dan Quillen

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.

How SMART Are Your Goals?

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery (though in dispute)

The most successful people in life, whether in business, family, finances, or job search, are goal-focused. But just having a goal is not enough. You need to create a plan to reach your goal.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
– Alan Lakein

They key to creating the right plan to reach your goal, is to have the right goal to begin with. That is why you want a SMART goal;

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

SMART as in intelligent and intentional, but also SMART as in:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

– Specific. The more specific your goal, the more likely you are to achieve it.

A goal to “have more money” is not specific enough.
A goal of “having enough money to retire” is not specific enough.
A goal of “having $500,000 in a retirement account so I can retire” is better, but
a goal of “having $500,000 in a retirement account so I can retire at age 70” is best.

For Job Seekers, a goal of “finding a job” is not specific.
A goal of “finding a job as a [fill in the blank]” is better, but
a goal of “finding a job as a [fill in the blank] with one of these three companies” is best.

– Measurable. How will you know when you reach your goal? The more specific the goal, the easier it is to measure.

If you want to have $500,000 by the time you retire at age 70, simply calculate how much you need to save each year until retirement.

If you want a job as a [fill in the blank] and you get offered another job instead, you can decide whether to accept the job relative to your goal (is it the same type of position but with another company? Or a job with a target company but in another role? Or simply what you can get for now, but you’ll keep looking?).

“What gets measured gets done.”
– Tom Peters

– Achievable. A goal that is out of reach, no matter how well planned, will never be met.

Saving $500,000 for retirement might be achievable, but $5Million may not be.

A goal to be a surgeon because it looked cool on “Scrubs,” but you cannot maintain grades to qualify for medical school, may be out of reach. But perhaps you would be satisfied with another role in a hospital or clinic.

– Relevant. A goal that is not relevant to your values, your interests, and your lifestyle, no matter how achievable, will be an empty victory.

Saving enough money to buy an RV Camper, but you don’t like to drive (or to camp) would be a wasteful purchase.

– Timely. When do you want to achieve your goal? How much time is there between now and then? What do you need to do at each time point? And what do you do if you start to fall behind?

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.”
– Napoleon Hill

SMART goals will help you create an actionable plan, and greatly increase the chances that you can achieve what you want.

What are your experiences with goal-setting? Please share in the comments below!

Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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

Why you need an Employment Cheat Sheet

On a whim, I went to the Careers page of the company website. Remarkably, they had a position available – THE position that I desired. I carefully crafted my resume, including their key words, highlighting my qualifications and transferable skills. I wrote a cover letter that addressed their pre-screen questions. I submitted. It couldn’t be this easy, could it?

A few days later, I was called and invited for an interview. Maybe it could be this easy. I researched the company. I prepared. I went in.

And I nailed it. Within only about 15 minutes, it was no longer an interview, it was a conversation. I answered every question, I asked insightful questions of my own. It became apparent that the job was mine.

“Before you go, would you complete this application for us?”

“I would be happy to,” I replied. Almost smugly, I began filling in the blanks. Name, Address, Current Employer, Former Employer, Name of Supervisor…

And I froze. What was his name? I worked with the man for over two years, why can’t I remember his name?! Maybe it’s in my phone. Why is the name not in my phone?!?

I am constantly reminded of how little I really know

I am constantly reminded of how little I really know

I had to leave the field blank, with a promise to follow up later. To make matters even more embarrassing, I was applying for a position as an Employment Specialist. I had just spent 45 minutes convincing the employer how good I am at helping people find jobs, and then I pull a bone-head move like this.

I am now able to use this experience as a teaching moment for my clients, and I urge you, my readers, to learn from my mistake:

When you are job-searching, create and carry with you a Cheat Sheet with your employment and educational experience.

A resume is not an application. A resume is the story of your qualifications for a specific position. A resume does not lie, or stretch the truth, but neither does it necessarily include details that do not support your story. A resume often does not include all the details required by an application.

An application is a legal document, much more detailed and factual than a resume. Simply referring to a resume does not answer all of the details. And, you sign an application at the end, attesting that everything is true and valid.

What to include on your Cheat Sheet:

  • Name
  • Contact info (address / phone / email / LinkedIn URL / Web Site)
  • Current Employer (name of company, address, phone, job title, date started, starting salary, current salary, name of supervisor)
  • Former Employers (name of company, address, phone, job title, date started, date ended, reason for leaving, starting salary, ending salary, name of supervisor) – 10-years’ worth
  • Education (name of school, address, highest level completed / degree earned, graduation date, Grade Point Average, honors / awards, clubs / organizations, offices held)
  • Training / Certifications (type / description, name of educational / technical institute, address, phone, date completed, valid through). Include any certifications that have expired, if you still have the knowledge. DO NOT claim the certification, but you might be able to claim the knowledge.
  • Other Languages / fluency

You are not showing this to anyone, but you will be glad you had it when you need it.

Do you have any interview horror stories? How did you overcome them? Please share in the comments below.

Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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

3 Reasons to use a Professional Email Address

Fact: It remains a very competitive environment for job seekers.

While it varies by occupation-type, companies receive, on average, 250 applications for each open position. Hiring Decision Makers use whatever they can to whittle that number down to a manageable amount.

Therefore, job seekers must give themselves every possible advantage, starting with having a professional email address.

By “professional,” I mean, YourName:

The first thing potential employers see about you is your email address. Make it professional.

The first thing potential employers see about you is your email address. Make it professional.

FirstNameLastName@
FirstName.LastName@

If you have a somewhat common name, you may need to explore a few different email accounts before you can find one where you can use Your Name. Or, you may need to add a Middle Initial or Middle Name, or append a Number at the end (I suggest a two-digit number in the Teens. DO NOT use a four-digit number that resembles a date. It is often assumed this is your Year of Birth, and you have just revealed your age).

There are three main reasons to use YourName@:

First, when you use a less-than-professional email address, you give the impression that you are treating your job search less-than-professionally, and the expectation is, you will treat your job less-than-professionally.

Second, when you use a less-than-professional email address, you run the risk of offending the decision maker:

NASCARRules@… (I hate NASCAR).
CuteCuddlyKittens@… (A cat gave my child rabies).
BigJohnStud@… (You’re a harassment suit waiting to happen).

Third, by using YourName@, you are taking advantage of what is known in marketing as the Effective Frequency technique. Basically, the more often a potential customer (the hiring decision maker) sees a brand (Your Name), the more likely they are to make a decision (hire, or at least, invite you for an interview).

  • When you create an online account at an employer’s web site, you are using the email address, which is YourName@.
  • When you complete the application, you are using Your Name.
  • When you attach a resume, the file name is Your Name Resume. When they open the file, the first thing they see is Your Name.
  • If you are allowed to upload a Cover Letter, that creates two more opportunities to use Your Name (the File Name, and Your Name in the letter itself).
  • When you call to follow up, you are giving Your Name.
  • When you send an email to follow up, you have Your Name in the signature block, and YourName@ as your email address.

You lose opportunity if you use an email address other than YourName@.

Don’t knock yourself out of consideration by using an email address other than YourName@.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below.

Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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