Monday, December 31, 2007

Career Management Resolutions for 2008

In the spirit of the New Year, here are some easy to implement resolutions to get your career management strategy on track for 2008.

  1. Go to lunch. I meet a lot of people who never take a lunch hour because they are too busy working. Don't make this mistake. The lunch hour is a great time to solidify relationships with colleagues, mentors, friends, and family. More lunch buddies means more networking and potentially more job opportunities down the road. Try to eat with different people over the course of a month and get in the habit of introducing people over lunch. Be a connector so people will want to connect you to others in the future.
  2. Get a hobby. Everyone has something outside of work that they are interested in. But many people find excuses for not pursuing hobbies and interests. Having a hobby helps build affinity with others. Running clubs, knitting clubs, book clubs, etc. help people bond and develop trust. Friendship grows out of trusting relationships. The more friends you have, the greater the likelihood that they will share information about professional opportunities that may interest you.
  3. Join a professional association. Professional associations offer many great opportunities to connect with colleagues. Find an appropriate association in your field and do more than just show up. Offer to work the registration table at an event, contribute content to the association's newsletter, or be part of a panel for an upcoming event. Involvement leads to familiarity, and familiarity leads to opportunities sourced through other members of the association.
  4. Reconnect with old friends. Friends are usually flattered when you take the time to find them and learn about what they are doing. Try to find old schoolmates through or your college's alumni directory. is helpful for trying to find previous work colleagues. Facebook is also a great tool for finding friends and it's not just for college kids anymore.
  5. Get organized. As you build your list of new contacts, organizing their information can be a bit overwhelming. Use an electronic career management tool such as JibberJobber to keep your information current and at your fingertips.
  6. Update your resume. Don't wait until you find the perfect posting on line or meet the right decision maker at a networking event. Always have an updated resume ready to send to your contacts. Get a free assessment of your current resume here.
  7. Get online. If a recruiter or hiring manager wanted to know more about you, would they be able to find you on line? Put your full name in quotes on Google or another search engine and find out what information is available about you. If there is nothing there or you don't like what you see, start creating a web presence using tools such as Linked In, ZoomInfo, and Ziggs.
  8. Go on an informational interview. One of the best ways to learn more about opportunities in your field or another field you are considering transitioning into is to talk to people who are currently doing the type of work you think you would like to be doing. In an informational interview, any question is fair game, and you can receive authentic answers to what it's really like to be in a particular professional role. These types of interviews help you validate your perceptions about a certain profession and adjust your career aspirations based on the information you receive.
Try to implement at least one of these suggestions in early 2008 and find ways to incorporate other strategies into your career management plan throughout the rest of the year. Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tips for Building Visibility at Professional Development Meetings

Attending a professional development meeting in the near future? Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of the event.

  • Show up at events early so you can meet the speaker. It’s easier to build rapport before the presentation, when there are less people vying for the speaker’s attention. Follow-up with an email or card thanking the speaker for spending time with you prior to the presentation.
  • Ask a question during the Q&A portion of the presentation. State your name and a brief one-liner about yourself before stating your question. This allows you to introduce yourself to everyone in the room and increase the likelihood that people will seek you out for a conversation later.
  • Thank the organizers before you leave. This is a nice gesture and a good way to build rapport with people who are close to the organization’s membership. Perhaps you’ll uncover an opportunity for you to assist with a future event and gain greater access to membership contacts.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Networking Rules Part 2

As a follow up to yesterday's post, here are some additional recommendations for successful networking.

Give the other person a chance to speak. Ask questions.
When you network it is imperative that you do not do all the talking. If you have asked another person for advice, make sure they have the opportunity to offer it. Also, when you do all the talking, the other person might feel confused and unsure of what they are supposed to do with the information you have supplied. Here are some questions you can ask to keep your exchange balanced and establish rapport.

• How long have you been with this company/field?
• What do you like/dislike about your job?
• What type of training do you need for positions such as yours?
• What is the culture of this company and what are its guiding principles?

Ask for suggestions on how to expand your network.
One of the main goals of networking is to tap into the network of the people you are meeting with. Each person you meet knows 200 or more people. If you can gain introductions to some of them, you quickly increase your network and your chances of finding the right connection. Ask your contacts if they can recommend a professional organization or the names of some other people you should be talking to.

Create a vehicle for follow up.
If you want to establish rapport with another person, you need to create ways to keep the relationship going. Ask the person if you may keep them informed of your search progress. If you read an article that pertains to a discussion you had at a networking meeting, cut it out and send it to them with a brief note. Try to find at least two to three opportunities per year to reconnect with members of your network.

Find ways to reciprocate.
Building a network is about creating a genuine, caring relationship. Thank your contact for the information they have supplied and see if you can help them in some way. Maybe your contact is interested in living in an area that you are familiar with or has a child interested in attending the same school you just graduated from. Share your knowledge of the school and your experience there as a way to help the other person. Keep notes on what you learn about your contacts so that future correspondence can have a personalized touch like “How was Jane’s first year of school?”

Send a thank you letter.
Always thank your contacts in person and follow up with a letter. If your handwriting is legible, the personalized touch is always appreciated

Networking is an ongoing process. It requires persistence, attention, organization, and good will. Incorporate the art of networking into your job search campaign now and you will gain opportunities and build relationships that will last a lifetime.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rules for Networking Success Part 1

Many people think that networking during a job search means calling everyone you know and asking them for a job. They associate networking with being pushy, overbearing, and an overall pest. People often shy away from networking because they don’t want to be labeled as this type of person. But research shows that 70-80% of all jobs are filled through networking. How can this be so, if networkers are such an annoying, self-serving lot?

Successful networkers are not egocentric, aggressive jerks. They show a sincere interest in their networking contacts. They work hard to develop a relationship, establish their credibility, and share information. They follow the rules of the game where everyone has something to gain. Like the lottery, you have to be in it to win it. Here are a few rules for successful networking.

Don’t ask for a job…Ask for information.
Networking is not about asking everyone you know for a job. As a matter of fact, when you network you should never ask someone for a job…You ask them for information that will help you in your search. Your goal is to build a relationship and establish rapport so that if a potential opportunity becomes available in the future, they will want to refer you. Compare these two scenarios:

Scenario One
“Joe, I’ve been out of work for six months and I’m really strapped for cash. Do you know of any open positions in your department?”

You’ve put Joe in a very difficult position. Sure, he can sympathize with your situation, but he may not be able to offer you a job. Perhaps he’s not in a position to refer you, or there’s a hiring freeze, or there aren’t any openings right now. Whatever answer Joe gives you, it’s bound to be disappointing. So to redeem himself, Joe says, “I don’t know of any open positions, but why don’t you give me your resume and I’ll send it to the HR department where I work.” Bad move. Unless your skills match a specific opening in the company at that point in time, it’s bound to never be looked at. Joe will feel that he’s done what he can for you, but you will be no better off.

Scenario Two
”Joe, as you know, I most recently worked for a medical device company in their marketing group. I know that you’ve been in pharmaceutical sales for the past 15 years and I’m very interested in learning more about marketing roles within your industry” I don’t expect you to know of any open positions in your organization, but I’d like the opportunity to speak with you briefly to learn more about your organization and the pharmaceutical industry in general.”

Joe may think, OK, here’s a friend that wants some information and sees me as some sort of expert on the topic. That’s kind of flattering. I guess I could spend a few minutes with him. Does Joe know you’re looking for a job? Probably. But you are not asking him for a job; you’re just asking him for advice and insight. The stakes are low and the expectations are reasonable, so he is more likely to help you.

Don’t take up too much of the other person’s time.
Have an agenda and keep the meeting on track. Nothing scares people more than the prospect of someone eating up a lot of their time. Many people don’t want to cram yet another meeting into their already jam packed day. Contrast these two situations:

Scenario One
You meet with Mary after a mutual friend has agreed to help you set up a brief 20-minute meeting. You neglect to prepare for the meeting, ramble, get off topic and spend an hour and a half with her. Mary feels that you have abused the use of her time and you haven’t gotten to the critical questions you’d hoped to ask during the meeting. Mary feels burned and vows never to network again.

Scenario Two
You walk into the meeting with a prepared mental agenda that includes:
• A reminder of who referred you and perhaps some brief chit-chat about that mutual acquaintance.
• A statement up front that you have no reason to believe Mary can offer you a position and a reiteration of why Mary’s information is of interest to you.
• An explanation of your agenda. “Today I’d like to tell you a bit about myself and get your perspective on the future of the high-tech industry.” Remember to discuss your skills and accomplishments and show how you can add value to an organization.

By planning out your meeting ahead of time, you establish your professionalism, gain credibility, and cover all the critical agenda items.

Check back tomorrow for more networking strategies.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Research Tools Part 3

Here is the last installment in my three part series on job search research tools.

The Corporate Finance Sourcebook features over 1,900 of today's top investment sources and over 1,400 service firms.

Securities Industry Yearbook includes information on individual securities firms, such as key personnel and department heads, number of customer accounts, registered representatives, offices, and capital.

Standard & Poor's Security Dealers of North America is a comprehensive guide to brokerage and investment banking firms in the U.S. and Canada. The Directory contains all the facts you need for conveniently locating firms and facilitating transactions. This bi-annual publication includes thoroughly researched listings on over 5,000 main offices and 10,000 branches along with information on key executives and department managers and their addresses, phone/fax numbers and internet and email addresses.

ABA Financial Institutions Directory lists head office and branch listings for all banks, savings institutions, and top credit unions along with names of officers in key departments including finance, loans, operations, and marketing.

Gold Book of Venture Capital Firms is a comprehensive directory of venture capital firms arranged by geographic location with indexes by industry, stage of funding, key principals, and a listing of firms in alphabetical order. Each listing contains key statistics such as a sampling of portfolio companies, amount of capital invested, preferred investment size and industries served.

Careers in Public Accounting: A Comprehensive Comparison of the Top Tier Firms compares "top tier" firms, including profiles and various articles covering current events and trends that might impact the industry and employment within the industry.

Take the time to incorporate some good old fashioned research into your search strategy. You will gain more immediate access to the hidden job market, increase your number of quality leads, and possibly decrease the amount of time you spend in search.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Research Tools Part 2

As a follow up to yesterday's post, here are some more great research tools.

The Directory of Top Computer Executives concentrates on organizations that have the highest potential to be supporting large IT functions. For an organization to be listed it must have a full-time VP, Director, or Manager of IT; have a multi-user host computer; or have more than 75 deployed PCs in the U.S. or 25 in Canada. The Directory lists the top-ranking individual over the IT function, such as the CIO or VP, Director, or Manager of information technology. In addition, second-level managers (which directly report to the top executive) include the manager of software development, manager of operations, manager of networking/data communications, manager of microcomputers, and the manager of technical support.

Consulting & Consulting Organizations Directory contains more than 25,000 consulting firms and independent consultants that operate throughout the United States and Canada. More than 400 specialties are represented including finance, computers, fundraising, advertising, and more. It covers top consulting firms and individuals in several general areas of consulting activity including business and finance management, marketing and sales, manufacturing, transportation, operations, computer technology, telecommunications and information services, engineering, science and technology, architecture, construction and interior design art, graphics and communications media, environment, geology, and land use agriculture, forestry, and landscaping, politics and social issues human resources development, education and personal development, health, medicine, and safety.

Thomas Register of American Manufacturers allows you to look up a brand name and find out the name of the company that makes the product.

Standard Directory of International Advertisers and Agencies lists 1,800 advertising agencies, advertising expenditures, personnel, and clients.

The Corporate Finance Sourcebook features over 1,900 of today's top investment sources and over 1,400 service firms.

Nelson Information's Directory of Investment Managers profiles investment managers and investment specialties and includes addresses and web URLs.

Check back tomorrow for Part 3.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Job Search Research Tools Part 1

I love doing research on the Internet and I frequently direct my clients to job relevant resources on the web. But for certain research, you just can’t beat the public library. Some of the best research tools online are fee based, but you can gain access to these same resources in book form at your local library. Whether you need to search for recruiters, networking leads, or decision makers, the library can provide priceless (and free) access to numerous search-relevant materials. Below are a few of my favorites:

The Corporate Directory of U.S. Public Companies contains essential financial and business data for over 11,000 U.S. public companies. The directory is the only publication to provide salaries and ages of officers and directors as well as their full names and titles.

The Encyclopedia of Associations is a comprehensive source of detailed information on 22,000 American associations of national scope. They also publish an International Organization listing of 22,300 associations and a regional, state, and local organization listing with 115,000 entries. Included in the reference book are addresses and descriptions of professional societies, trade associations, labor unions, cultural, and religious organizations.

Kennedy Guide to Executive Recruiters published annually, this national guide includes recruiter names, addresses, phone and fax numbers, and web and email addresses. An international version of the book is also available.

The Directory of Top Computer Executives concentrates on organizations that have the highest potential to be supporting large IT functions. For an organization to be listed it must have a full-time VP, Director, or Manager of IT; have a multi-user host computer; or have more than 75 deployed PCs in the U.S. or 25 in Canada. The Directory lists the top-ranking individual over the IT function, such as the CIO or VP, Director, or Manager of information technology. In addition, second-level managers (which directly report to the top executive) include the manager of software development, manager of operations, manager of networking/data communications, manager of microcomputers, and the manager of technical support.

Check back tomorrow for some more great tools!

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tis the Season to be Networking

In a recent post, I mentioned several reasons why December is such a great time to network. And at this time of year, many professional associations are hosting their annual holiday parties. I will be attending the Human Resources Association of New York holiday party on December 6 and I'm looking forward to schmoozing with over 200 HR professionals at the event. If you are an HR professional, this is a great opportunity to meet colleagues and learn more about the country's largest chapter of SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management).

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