Saturday, March 31, 2007

Make Your Network Work for You

Networking is the art of building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. Frequently when I coach people who are in a job search and we discuss networking within the context of job search, many will say "Does that really work?" Like anything else, networking requires a bit of practice and finesse, but if done correctly, networking can be an invaluable part of your job search campaign. Here are a few tips to help you develop a network that works for you.

Be a teacher
Not everyone you meet will understand what networking is or how they can help you. Many think that the best way they can help a job seeker is to take their resume and pass it on to their human resource department. While their intentions are noble, their strategy is seriously flawed. HR managers, like recruiters, may only be motivated to take action on your resume if there is a current job opening within the organization that matches your skills. If a position is not available, they have no incentive to contact you and the connection is lost. Rather than giving your contacts a resume, thank them but tell them that what you would really like is an introduction to someone at that company so you can learn more about the company, share information about yourself, and begin to build a relationship.

Be a helper
Good networking is all about reciprocity. Always try to give more than you receive. Perhaps you have information about a particular company, industry, or educational program that would be valuable to someone in your network. Look for ways to help people in your network achieve their goals and they will be more likely to help you in return.

Be a conduit
Become a great connector for people and open up your network to them. Always think about who you might know that could help other people in your network in some way.

Be patient
People may want to help you, but you may not be the first item on their agenda. If someone agrees to meet with you, but can't do so immediately, accept the offer graciously.

Be authentic
Take a sincere interest in the lives of the people you meet. Don't milk people for information and then abandon the relationship. Nobody wants to feel like they are being taken advantage of. Find ways to reconnect with your network periodically to stay up to date and let them know that you care about what is going on in their lives.

Want to read about real life networking in action? Check out these great networking stories to hear how others have successfully networked to build relationship and manage their careers.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

I Just Landed a New Job, so I'm Done Networking, Right?

After you find a new position, the relationships you developed during your search may continue to be important to your career. Here are a few suggestions for maintaining a viable network once you conclude your job search.

Update contact information
Be sure to send information on your new work location to all those who supported your efforts. This includes all personal contacts, recruiters, and other interested parties. Thank them all for their efforts and support. Plaxo and Spoke are great tools for keeping your network up to date.

Stay connected to colleagues
Keep in touch with co-workers, clients, and vendors from your previous position. By proactively managing these relationships now you strengthen the quality of your network and improve the opportunity to leverage these relationships at another point in time. Keep in mind that reciprocity is an important piece of the networking dynamic and by staying in touch you may be in a position to help your contacts should they decide to pursue other employment opportunities.

Keep professional memberships active
Continue to remain active in professional organizations. Contribute your time and knowledge to the organization’s events, special interest groups, and newsletters. The visibility you create now will benefit your professional development in many ways. An excellent resource for finding appropriate professional organizations for your industry is Weddles.

Conduct informational interviews
Remember how grateful you were when you were granted an informational interview or networking meeting? Consider doing the same if you are asked to offer advice or information to someone interested in your field or organization. What goes around comes around and such interviews give you the opportunity to source new talent, mentor a colleague, or build a relationship that will benefit both of you in the future.

Go to lunch
The lunch hour is a great time to bond with new co-workers and grow your network. Dine with a diverse group of colleagues across business units and job functions.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

So What Does That Recruiter Really Think of Your Resume?

Jason Alba of Jibber Jobber is hosting a "resume critique extravaganza" over on the Jibber Jobber blog and the invited guests are recruiters and resume experts. Each "judge" is weighing in and offering opinions on one anonymous job seeker's resume content and design. OK, it's not exactly American Idol, but there are several "Simon Cowell-esque" comments to view and lots of great resume writing advice. The recruiters and resume writers are clearly on the same page as evidenced by the consistency in their comments. All agree that a strong resume needs to showcase accomplishments over tasks, clearly communicate the candidate's core brand and value add, and have a neat, clean, and eye-catching visual design. If you would like to have your own resume critiqued, without having the content on full view to everyone, email me for a free resume assessment (my style is much more like Paula Abdul and I will tell you what is working in your current resume as well as what can be improved).

Labels: , ,

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Not for Profit Salary Survey

I've blogged before about the importance of sourcing industry-relevant salary information to support a candidate's salary negotiation conversations. The Compensation Force blog has a post on a recent New York non-profit salary survey done by PNP, a staffing firm specializing in the non-profit sector. If you are interested in sourcing jobs in non-profits, take a look.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Wanted: Companies With Strong Employer Brands

Personal branding has become a hot topic among savvy job seekers over the past few years. Organizations with forward-thinking recruiting strategies are now applying the concepts of personal branding to attract top talent and many marketing experts including Seth Godin have blogged on how to market a job opportunity.

Ultimately, employers want to create an employer value proposition (EVP) that is so strong that the employer becomes a magnet employer. Rob O'Keefe of TMP Worldwide, a leading recruitment advertising agency,
blogs about how to become an employer of choice; one where everyone knows their employment brand and many want to work for the organization.

O'Keefe suggests that creating a compelling employer brand proposition is critical to attracting top talent and appealing to both active and passive job seekers. And it seems quite likely that employers who create a strong employment brand will have a captive audience.
According to a 2005 Conference Board Study, over 50% of the workforce is unhappy in their current job. This presents an enormous opportunity for companies to position themselves as the employer of choice and garner exceptional new talent in the process.

In their book Talent Force, authors Rusty Rueff and Hank Stringer refer to a company's website as their virtual lobby. The virtual lobby is a good indicator of the company's employer brand.

When a prospective candidate comes to a company’s website and submits a resume online, what type of response do they receive? Is the message welcoming, does it say we will call you if something comes up, or is there no reply at all? According to the authors, many corporate websites ask for a great deal of personal information as part of the job application process. Companies with this type of interface lose 98% of their visitors before capturing any information about them and most never return. Instead of making the process cumbersome and invasive by asking for a resume, the authors recommend that employers simply invite candidates in, allow them to remain anonymous, and ask for minimal information. If they acquire just a first name, email address, and area of interest, they can begin to establish a relationship with the candidate and they can engage with them on their terms.

So what does all this mean to the job seeker? By targeting companies that present a strong employer brand, you are more likely to find the culture that speaks to your values and future career aspirations. By studying company websites and career portals, you can determine if an employer has a strong employer brand and one that matches your employment expectations.

Labels: ,

Friday, March 02, 2007

Sudden Death From Too Many Resume Bullets

Bulleted lists are often used on resumes to highlight specific talking points and areas of achievement. But too frequently bullets are misused and they end up diminishing the impact of the talking points rather than enhancing them. Here are a few common mistakes candidates make when using bullet points on their resume.

Too Many Bullets
When job seekers create a list of more than five bullets in a row, nothing stands out and the text starts to look like one big paragraph. A better strategy is to create functional headings such as Business Development, Marketing, Financial Analysis, etc. This allows you to group your bullet points in sub-sections and quickly differentiate the types of value-add statements you are including in the resume.

Mixed Purpose Bullets
Frequently job seekers mix information about job tasks with information regarding accomplishments. This waters down the value of the accomplishment statement and makes it harder to spot amongst a sea of task-oriented statements. A better strategy is to report job tasks in a brief paragraph format and identify accomplishments in a bulleted list to differentiate the two and make it easier for the reader to quickly spot the accomplishments.

Unique Bullets
Sometimes candidates use unusual symbols for their bullets that can be quite distracting for the reader. It's better to stick with traditional circles and squares when creating bullet points. You want your resume to be memorable based on its accomplishments, rather than unusual formatting.

Labels: ,