Friday, April 6, 2012

Networking for results...


Networking is key in any search these days but it is especially critical if you want to move out of your current industry into another, or from one job group into one you have not worked.

Just sending resumes out in these cases is often futile because the HR person reviewing your resume only sees the skill sets and industry experience on your resume and not your potential. If your skill sets and industry experience does not match the job description often your resume is discarded.

The best way to find a job in this situation is through networking. But, don't limit your outreach to close friends and current colleagues. Cast your net much wider and reach people beyond your immediate circle. Here are three steps to do that:

  • Broadly define your network. You have more contacts than you think. Consider friends from church, friends in Rotary or Lion clubs, former classmates, former colleagues, clients, and community acquaintances. When you make a contact, ask for introductions to others. Especially ask for introductions to people in companies that you are interested in.
  • View discussions as learning opportunities. Don’t scare your friends away. Approach these meetings as conversations, not interviews. Ask about more than jobs. Ask about the industry, how to succeed, and how to position yourself.

Keep good records. Connecting with many people can be complicated. After each meeting, write down what you learned and what you'll do as a result.

Counter offers ....good idea??

You are not happy with your current employment situation and have decided to find another opportunity. And now, you have a good job offer with a great company and are ready to give your employee your two week notice Something to think about before walking in your bosses office is what if they make a counter offer

Or maybe you are thinking about using a potential employer's job offer to get your organization to counter and pay you more money? Stop

Using another job offer as a bargaining chip seems so attractive, but it often ends badly.

If you want a raise, then negotiate it on your own merits--or prepare to move on.

Here's why:

1. Employers often make counteroffers based on the needs of the moment ("We can't have Joe leave right now! We have that big project next week")

But once the initial need passes, you may find your relationship with your employer--and your standing with the company as a whole--has fundamentally changed. Now You're seen as the one who was looking to leave. You're no longer part of the inner circle, and you might be at the top of the list if your company needs to make cutbacks in the future.

2. Even worse, the company might want you to stay to give them time to search for a replacement, figuring that it's only a matter of time until you start looking around again. You might turn down the offer and accept your employer's counteroffer only to find yourself pushed out soon afterward. In fact, the rule of thumb among recruiters is that 70 to 80 percent of people who accept counteroffers either leave or are let go within a year.

3. Remember, here's a reason you started job-searching in the first place. While more money may be great, more often, there are also other factors that drove you to look: limited opportunities to advance, dislike of your boss, boredom with the work, lack of recognition, crazy workloads--whatever it might have been. Those factors aren't going change, and will likely start bothering you again as soon as the glow from your raise wears off.

4. Even if you get more money out of your company now, think about what it took to get it, there's no reason to think that future salary increases will be any easier. The next time you want a raise, you might even be refused altogether on the grounds that "we just gave you that big increase when you were thinking about leaving."

5. Don’t think the new employer will consider you again. If you go all the way through their hiring process only to accept a counteroffer from your current employer, then the former is going to be wary of considering you in the future. If it's a company you'd like to work with, you might be shutting a door you'd rather keep open.

I may have been discouraging about counteroffers but there times where accepting a counteroffer makes sense and works out? There are always exceptions. But it's a bad idea frequently enough that you should be very, very cautious before doing so.

Friday, November 25, 2011

How to stand out when applying for a job....

If you want to be in the top 20 percent of job applicants who get noticed and win interviews, you should be thinking about how to incorporate sales secrets into your job search strategy. John Kalusa is a nationally recognized writer who speaks about corporate sales, recruiting, and personal career management. With over 25 years of experience as a strategic recruiting, human resources, and sales and marketing management leader in start-ups and Fortune 250 companies, he's well qualified to comment on what the hiring manager wants to see.

"80 percent of candidates don't have a real chance of landing an interview because they don't do anything to set themselves apart from the crowd," says Kalusa. "After reviewing thousands of resumes and conducting nearly as many interviews, I'm amazed at how many people take an unfocused approach and send the same tired resume to every posting."

Kalusa reminds job seekers to identify their best, most unique qualities and to hone in on how they can solve the employer's problems. Do you need an incentive to make the extra effort to stand out? "Even though some statistics suggest there are 4.5 applicants per job, my own experience and that of my colleagues suggests the actual average is closer to 50-60 applicants per position, with some climbing into the hundreds," he says.

A forward-thinking job seeker needs to think like a sales person. Just as a company trains its sales and marketing people to identify and qualify prospects in order to argue why their company or product is the best suited to solve problems, "job candidates should view postings as a public bid for services and develop and execute their interview strategies like a sales process," he says.

Kalusa refers to this thinking as the "company of 1" approach, which he uses to coach job seekers. "I advise job seekers to think about the customer--the potential employer. Companies aren't in business to hire people. They are in business to provide value to their customer and seek to find people with the talent, skills, and motivation they can leverage to provide that value," he says.

One important part of selling yourself as a "company of 1" is knowing how to research your target organizations. "I'm constantly amazed at how little candidates (at all levels) actually know about the companies they are applying to when they sit down for an interview. Instead of being really prepared, they can only offer a snapshot of what they learned by visiting the company website. It's usually about a three-second quote, in the form of: "I know that _____ is in the _____ industry and makes/provides ____ to its customers," he says.

This sometimes comes across as: "I learned just enough to know that you are still in business, but other than that I didn't think enough of the opportunity to see if my experiences were really a fit, because I was just focused really on what was in it for me."

Whether you are applying for a position on the front line in a manufacturing facility or as the chief operating officer in the front office, Kalusa advises taking the following steps to set yourself apart:

Read about the company and the industry. Nearly everyone who applies will know something about the company. Go a step further and find out the details about the company and about the industry. Ask yourself what challenges the company is facing, and, more importantly, how will the role you are applying for affect those challenges or provide value?

You might be asking, "Why does it matter?" For example, if you know the company is in warehousing, and they have a reputation for having the best and most sophisticated distribution systems, think about the things that are probably important to them. Perhaps it is speed, reliability, and accuracy? During the interview, because you know a little bit more than the next guy, you could talk about your proven ability to get the job done and done right, or talk about your reliability or the different types of distribution systems you've used and how it will be easy for you to learn theirs.

Take a peek inside. Just like companies check their prospective customers out to make sure they are financially stable and not "hard cases with an attitude," so should you. If they are a public company, read about their finances and see how their stock is doing. Or go to Glassdoor and see if there are any postings from current or former employees. Do they talk about the company being a hard place to work or a collaborative environment where employees are valued? Do people feel like "cogs in the wheel," or do they feel like their contributions matter? Check out Twitter and Facebook, and see if they have a presence. What's being said? What's not being said? Are there articles about the company and their community involvement? Articles about less than positive activities? Better to know, so you can say no.

Find out who's who in the zoo. Go to their company website to learn about the top people. Follow up by visiting LinkedIn to investigate them and anyone else at the company. For most professionals, LinkedIn has become the de facto standard for posting a professional profile. You may be able to find valuable common connections or common professional or social interests of the people who will be interviewing or working with you. You may learn where they went to school and what books they are reading. You can also find and check industry or professional groups that they belong to, and see if there is any useful or interesting information available for you there.

Do your due diligence to stand out in a crowd, because it is a very big crowd. You'll likely be rewarded with interview opportunities.

Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer and owner of Keppie Careers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Smart Executive Job Interview Questions

What are your team’s goals and how can I possibly help you meet them?
This is a great question to ask at the beginning of your interviews. It helps you get the big picture of where your prospective employer is at. It also helps position your skills and knowledge as potential solutions.

What are specific day-to-day expectations and responsibilities of the person hired for this position?
An excellent question that helps you understand your prospective employer’s particular needs. The question helps you determine the focus of your new job and what your main tasks will be on a daily basis.

Is this a good example or would you like another one?
This is valuable when you provide a prospective employer with descriptions of your past experience. The interviewer’s answer helps you determine whether or not they are content with your response.

Is there anything I haven’t covered that you would like to know more about?
This gives your interviewer a chance to elaborate on areas that are important to them. It also gives you the opportunity to convey your additional knowledge and strengths.

Are you satisfied with our interview?
The question essentially asks your interviewer to evaluate the quality of the interview. It also gives you a chance to ask additional questions that may help your interviewer to know you better.

What are the next steps?
This straightforward question can be asked at the end of your job interview. It allows you to evaluate your overall interaction with your interviewer, determine if the interview was a successful one, and how to follow up.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Improving Job Search Results

I have talked with many job seekers who have sent out hundreds of resumes without ever getting results. In fact, they don’t even know if their resume is seen by a manager within the company. This is a tough job market but looking for work is a job in itself and especially in today’s market, we have to step back to analyze our results and the process we are using.

Many of you have told me that you have sent out hundreds of resume, without results so it is time to do something different. If you aren't getting results from your resume, stop sending it out en masse and review it. Have a trusted friend or colleague check it for errors and presentation.

Then, change how you look for a job: Even in good times, it's probably still twice as hard to get a job by limiting your search to job boards like Monster, Career Builder etc. Instead, try job hunting through friends, at church, and making connections through social media, (especially Linked In) , Twitter or Face book, applying directly through company websites, or even the old-fashioned walk-in application. I believe the key in this market is networking.

Target organizations you want to work for find a friend or linked in contact work works there and learn more about the company. Find out key managers with influence you could talk to. You might want to consider approaching them even if they don't have openings. Join civic clubs where you can meet and have access to key people in the business community.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tell me about yourself...

One of the common questions asked during an interview or when meeting your potential father-in-Law for the first time. “tell me about yourself?” Like the funny commercial...what makes Peter Peter?

On the surface this looks like an easy question but is often a question that sets the tone for the interview and forms an impression of you at the start of an interview.

Your response to this question does not give the interviewer a lot of information about your talents for this position but gives you a great opportunity to demonstrate your enthusiasm, confidence and energy and gets the attention of your interviewer. We all need a brief one or two minute ‘elevator talk” for cocktail parties, or interviews that gives brief picture of who you are.

Scott Ginsberg, The Nametag Guy," offers us a few pointers to prepare for the next time you are faced with this question. He suggests you try one of these;

  1. “I can summarize who I am in three words.” Grabs their attention immediately. Demonstrates your ability to be concise, creative and compelling.
  2. “The quotation I live my life by is…” Proves that personal development is an essential part of your growth plan. Also shows your ability to motivate yourself.
  3. “My personal philosophy is…” Companies hire athletes – not shortstops. This line indicates your position as a thinker, not just an employee.
  4. “People who know me best say that I’m…” This response offers insight into your own level of self-awareness.
  5. “Well, I googled myself this morning, and here’s what I found…” Tech-savvy, fun, cool people would say this. Unexpected and memorable.
  6. “My passion is…” People don’t care what you do – people care who you are. And what you’re passionate about is who you are. Plus, passion unearths enthusiasm.
  7. “When I was seven years old, I always wanted to be…” An answer like this shows that you’ve been preparing for this job your whole life, not just the night before.
  8. “If Hollywood made a move about my life, it would be called…” Engaging, interesting and entertaining.
  9. “Can I show you, instead of tell you?” Then, pull something out of your pocket that represents who you are. Who could resist this answer? Who could forget this answer?
  10. “The compliment people give me most frequently is…” Almost like a testimonial, this response also indicates self-awareness and openness to feedback.

These examples may not be for you, but you can prepare your own attention grabbing summary of who you are.

Ginsberg states the key to this is “ it’s about answering quickly, it’s about speaking creatively and it’s about breaking people’s patterns”

Develop your own response to “tell me about yourself” in your interview preparation and be ready to respond quickly to this question.