Archive for December 2009

MATCH(.COM) YOUR WAY TO A NEW JOB!

December 17, 2009

FIRST IMPRESSIONS MATTER

First impressions matter in dating and job search. I know this all too well as I have moved through dozens of first-date impressions during the seven years following my divorce and before I remarried in 2008.

My husband, Rob, and I met online via Match.com. Besides the first-impression story he wrote in his profile that resonated with my personal needs and priorities for a great mate and life-long partner, the initial photograph Rob sent me was striking—to this day, I call it his glamour shot, as it was obviously posed and snapped by a professional. Rob was decked out in his motorcycle leathers, posing next to his classic Indian motorcycle.

Without hesitation, I responded to his initial ‘resume,’ intrigued by the words he shared and drawn to his handsome picture.

ENTICE INTEREST BY BEING ‘TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE’

As many recruiters and hiring managers may do when reviewing resumes I quickly judged, “He’s too good to be true,” (and beyond that, I thought, if he really looks like his picture, he may be out of my league). But despite that initial feeling of ‘this picture is a bit over the top,’ and in fact in large part ‘because’ of that initial intrigue, I was hooked in. I had nothing to lose by reaching out and affirmatively responding to his gesture to communicate.

We began a series of emails that were engaging, and like a job interview, involved a series of questions and answers. What’s unique and pressing about dating interviews is that you play two roles: both interviewer (company) and interviewee (candidate).

During that time, I ferreted out his real day-to-day physical appearance (he quickly and politely responded to my request for current, non-glamour-shot photographs). A bit relieved he wasn’t a runway model, and in fact, he looked quite attractively normal, I continued the conversation with the hope and optimism that he may be the ‘one’ candidate that would fulfill the job of the-guy-of-my-future.

Within days, we had scheduled a telephone interview, and during this time, our voices and language created new first-impressions. Recently, Rob shared with me that my ability during that first call to hold an intelligent and thoughtful conversation impressed him.

As for Rob, his residual Texas accent, his ability to engage articulately and thoughtfully, his sincere interest in knowing me and his follow-through to place the call in the promised time-frame, met my interview needs and expectations and further attracted me.

DATING, LIKE JOB SEARCH, IS A PROCESS OF INTERVIEWS

Our questions to one another deepened and the answers met my wishes (and apparently his), so we scheduled an in-person interview for drinks at a respectable restaurant. Again, more first impressions were approaching as we scheduled our meet-up,

Our brief in-person interview (remember, it was supposed to be ‘just drinks’) moved into an evening-long conversation replete with laughter, potato skins and chicken fingers.  Like an interview that blossoms into a connection, we politely closed a bit of the distance between one another and signaled our mutual interest.

As he walked me to my car, a second date was planned; and after that, a third date, a fourth, and then Christmas dinner (we began dating just weeks before the holiday!).  The rest, as they say, is history, as our interview dating moved into serious courtship and ultimately marriage.

All of this to say, I continually draw connections between the dating interviewing I experienced over seven years with the job interview process. As such, the following parallels may be illustrated.

1. Job search marketing, like dating, is about being appealing. Be courageous in communicating your allure. Rob’s glamorous picture (combined with his pragmatic, yet best-foot-forward word story) quickly influenced my interest in him as a candidate in my partner search.

2. Job seekers, when building your resume, in addition to writing to your audience’s needs, push your envelope and be courageous. I’ve had many resume clients express initial discomfort with the boldness and bravura of their resume sales message, only later to call or email me that they boosted interviews tenfold and scaled the job search mountain in leaps versus baby steps. Now, more than ever, job seekers need to stand apart and create an appeal.

3. Rob’s profile story (resume) was written in a laid back, direct, ‘real’ tone, focusing on the aspects of his value that would market him – he wrote to his audience’s needs (the audience he wished to attract), and he said no more and no less than needed. As well, he punctuated this profile with a picture that was a bit audacious—he took a calculated marketing risk–that worked!

4. Similarly, writing a resume IS about being YOU and selling your unique value in a tone that is both direct AND value-focused. It IS a marketing tool, and it is written with the reader’s needs top of mind. As well, the resume is no time to be modest—grab the reader’s attention with a presentation that stirs emotions and makes the reader say, “I gotta know more.”

5. Be responsive, polite and persistent. Rob responded to my email response to his initial contact that same day; he also engaged with me via meaningful, thoughtful emails several nights running, maintained a respect for ours/his time (not over-indulging in our new-found interest, placing boundaries and ensuring each communication seemed natural, even though he strategically  responded to make continued positive, authentic impressions). Likewise, in job search, be responsive and engaging, while also applying filters to not saying and doing everything that pops in your mind.

6. He also made himself accessible and reachable with a cell phone number that included a voice mail with HIS voice, and he promptly responded when I called or text-messaged. As we moved past initial interview processes, he quickly removed potential barriers to entry by revealing his home phone number and address.

7. Job seekers, disclosing how you may directly be reached, communicating openly and authentically and being reachable and responsible warms up recruiters, HR and hiring managers versus a nebulous communication strategy.

8. As well, Rob was ever polite and honest without over-revealing (we were dating, remember, not married) and persistent (he initiated follow-up conversations, scheduled our in-person interview and confirmed the meeting the day of). He also asked for the second interview as the first interview was closing.

9. Likewise, job seekers, it is quite acceptable (and necessary) to be persistent in your job search inquiries and conversations, demonstrating interest in the target company; remember, keep it polite, brief and focused on ‘them.’ If you start to feel you are revealing too much about yourself, pull back. If you are under-communicating, push yourself a bit ‘out’ of your reserved zone.

10. Job search is marketing—MARKET you. And the nice thing is, while you’re marketing YOU, you’re focusing on pleasing ‘them’ and filling their needs, so it’s really a process of courtship and you ultimately take the spotlight off of you and place it directly on them.

Bottom line: Proper, persistent and bold online and in-person communications can significantly and positively change the direction of your life and your job search. Interestingly, Rob and I recently were discussing the fact that major decisions in our lives have centered around the Internet: 1. We met on Match.com. 2. We researched and found our sailboat, Seas the Day AND the dock at the lake where our boat resides and where we have expanded our friendship/sailing network by dozens of new, interesting people, via the Internet. 3. We hired our minister to oversee our marriage ceremony via the Internet!

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Navigating the Mistletoe of Job Search

December 9, 2009

As co-coordinator with my colleague, Miriam Salpeter, I am pleased to participate in our third round of posts from our community of expert career advisors and resume writing professionals called the Career Collective.

This month’s articles address the topic of Job Search Strategy During the Holidays.

Please follow our hashtag, #careercollective, on Twitter.

Having personally experienced the setback of divorce about 8 years ago on the threshold of the holidays, I empathize with job seekers undergoing the radical change of job loss, job transition and career makeover.

The bottom line, I think the holidays  are ‘not’ the magical time during which careers are fixed, made or broken, However, the holidays also are not the time to feel paralyzed in your search. A healthy blend of job search and rejuvenation are in order!

Earlier this week I featured a technology leader and client of mine, Altan Khendup, in a blog post explaining his job search strategies and the phenomenal results he has achieved.

As this post on ramping up one’s job search efforts during the holidays emerged, I sought out Altan’s tips. As well, I’ve blended in my own opinions on how job seekers may approach the ‘search’ during this particular season drenched in mistle toe, calls to ‘give, love, share’ and dripping in niceties and demands that, if not managed well, will sap our time and energy.

I’ll blend Altan’s and my ideas and comments hereto.

1. How should job seekers use their resume during the holiday season?

Altan suggests:

Do the ‘typical thing’ with your resume: prepare it for presentation, ensuring it’s up-to-date and incorporating any ideas that have been happening throughout the year.

I agree!

Now’s the perfect time to review and revamp your resume, if need be. Even if it’s just been a couple of months or more since you last adjusted your career story, you want to take a fresh look at your message to ensure it’s on-point with your target goal.

As well, if you have held consulting roles, part-time or short-term positions, volunteered, engaged in continuing education or training, or involved yourself in any meaningful endeavor that will support your value proposition, you want to evaluate how this information fits into your resume story, then effectively knit it in.

2. Is the holiday season a good time to distribute your resume and job search / network? Do you think it is, perhaps even better than other time-frames throughout the year?

Altan encourages:

The holiday season is the best time to distribute your resume but not in the typical sense. It is a charitable time and most people really are looking for ways to give back to people that they know and to help them along.

He recommends bearing in mind that the resume is not the first thing to push; instead, focus on strong follow-up post-networking.

Most people will respond positively to a well targeted and prepared networking effort during the holiday season. It is through these connections that resumes should be ready to be shot out at a moment’s notice.

Plant your career search seeds during the holidays in prep for the beginning of 2010 when hiring starts up again in a more formal manner.”

I agree!

Use the holidays to set aside typical job-search methods and simply have conversations around your situation with people who care about your well-being. When a connection is made, and the timing is right, have that resume ready to whip out.

As well, he makes a good point about hiring starting up more formally again in 2010. Though I agree with numerous reports of hiring happening ‘right now’ (and am personally witnessing those hiring events with my clients), I also realize that that activity speaks to  a portion of the business population.

In other parts of business, you have decision makers, recruiters and HR leaders slowing the processes of hiring just a bit in prep for a hit-the-ground running 2010.. Either way, conversations around these impending hiring decisions are happening NOW. Having meaningful, current career positioning documents at-the-ready is critical to job-search preparedness.

3. What are the obstacles in job searching this time of year? How do you overcome them? (i.e., action steps to take; attitudes to adjust/reframe; etc.). What obstacles can you actually convert to opportunities? How?

Altan says:

The biggest obstacles are vacations. Many prospective employers are now taking their vacation times and spending them family and friends. As a result it is important to make the most of every opportunity one can during holiday parties and other occasions where networking can work really well.

Avoid sending anything in email prior to vacations, or if you must, make sure to follow up immediately after. People’s emails will be piling up while away, and once they return to normal work pressures, the urge to move ‘less urgent’ items into the electronic trash bin is high.

Look at each job search action as making the best impression during the holidays, leveraging the good will of others into follow up actions, and working out follow-up action items that can be acted upon post-holidays.

I concur!

The temptation to be so immersed in one’s job search goals and forget that others may possess less of a sense of urgency about your job-search needs is sometimes difficult to resist. However, being aware of your audience’s situation will help you manage your own activities and expectations. With that said, it’s okay (and good!) to maintain a thread of communication with potential employers, recruiters, etc., while adjusting the methods (i.e., phone vs. email or positive-impression, relationship-enhancing emails with short-order follow-up, and so forth).

4. What are the advantages to job searching during the holidays? How do you leverage those advantages? (i.e., planning and preparation plus action steps to take)

Altan says:

What I have found is that many organizations are attempting to use their budgets before year end which pushes them into trying to get last-minute hires before the start of the year. Additionally, the year end also happens to be a great time for companies to look at projects, assess them and make plans for the future.

This is an excellent time to network, engage and establish your value to these future plans. By being properly engaged many people will be looking to recruit you or work you into their plans as soon as possible. Everything has to be ready so make sure that you have the plan and actions ready: engage the network, assess opportunities, present your value, propose your follow-ups, and follow through.

5. Have you in fact found this to be a ‘slow season’ for job search? If not, what has been your take on the activity of this season?

Altan says:

Actually not at all. In the past few weeks I have had quite a flurry of interest from people trying to hire me for a variety of positions. Most are trying to get things in place so that they can execute on them for the following year. Most that I have talked to want to get a head start in the new year so they want to make sure they start the process as soon as possible with some even looking at hires before the holiday season, if possible.

I’ve seen the same with several clients!

Lots of activity, continuing conversations, requests for resumes persist as the year concludes. Engage, engage, engage. Job-search communication should maintain a steady pace as you maintain and cultivate relationships that may convert to tangible career opportunities, if not before year-end, as the new year builds speed.

6. How do you personally plan to pursue your job search through the next several holiday-weeks?

Altan says:

I have already started by responding to inquiries, planning which networking events to go do, getting small gifts for everyone (this helps and is appropriate during the holiday season), having my resume in place, and making sure that I follow up with everyone before the holidays fully kick in. Now is the time to really have great networking opportunities, with many of the folks that I have spoken to looking to grow in 2010.

Good points!

It takes a good deal of organization to do so, but augmenting your networking attendance with thoughtfully selected gifts for people who have added value to your career and life is nice. People appreciate being appreciated … and they remember those who appreciate them!

@MartinBuckland, Elite Resumes, Season’s Greetings and your Job Search”

@GayleHoward, The Executive Brand, “It’s Christmas: And a ho-ho-ho-hum?”

@KCCareerCoach, Career Chaos, “The Gift Every Laid Off Job Seeker Needs”

@resumeservice, Resume Writing Blog,Holiday Resume Sparkle: Outshine the New Year Job-Search Mob

@heathermundell, life@work, “Have a Holly Jolly Job Search”

@sweetcareers,Sweet Careers, “Holiday Job Search Tips for College Students 2009″

@careersherpa, Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa, “Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa Cheers”

@careerealism, CAREEREALISM.com, “Holiday Tip for Job Seekers: 4 Ways to Impress Others with Your Professionalism”

@heatherhuhman, HeatherHuhman.com, “4 Tips for Making the Most of Holiday Job Hunting”

@LaurieBerenson, Sterling Career Concepts, Three Resolutions to Take It Up a Notch”

@KatCareerGal, Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog, “Avoiding the Holiday Blues in Your Job Search”

@WorkWithIllness, WorkingWithillness.com, Avoid this Minefield: Drive Your Bus!”

@DawnBugni, The Write Solution “Could that sound really be opportunity? During the Holidays?”

@andyinnaples, “Shift Your Focus to the Highest Impact Job Search Activities During the Holidays to Leverage Your Time”

@erinkennedycprw, Professional Resume Services, How to keep up the Job Hunt during the Holidays”

@keppie_careers, Keppie Careers, “Four tips for effective networking follow-up for the holidays and the rest of the year”

@GLHoffman, What Would Dad Say, “Merry Christmas! Can I Buy You Coffee to Talk About Me?”

@BarbaraSafani, Career Solvers, “Holiday Networking Can Facilitate New Year Opportunities”

@expatcoachmegan, Career By Choice Blog, “Expat Networking: Holidays Are a Great Time to Nurture and Grow Your Network”

@chandlee, The Emerging Professional Blog, “Footprints & Associations: Job Search Tips for the Holidays”

@JobHuntOrg, Job-Hunt.org, “(Holiday) Party Your Way to a New Job”

Does your job currency stand out like a shiny coin?

December 8, 2009

According to Altan Khendup, senior technology leader, strategist and advocate in Silicon Valley, California, when people think you’re interesting, they start listening; they become engaged, and then you can inject your pitch and your value.

I’ve had the pleasure of keeping in touch with this forward-thinking technology leader (oh, and by the way, a client of mine!) for the past nine months. An active Tweeter, blogger and LinkedIn contributor, Altan is a remarkable example of proactive career management!

His steady stream of high-level career conversations, interviews and job offers have mounted as he charts his course for the next career destination—on a given day, he receives up to 12 opportunities. Among his interview opportunities, Altan has collaborated with key technology innovators as well as large, Fortune 100 companies.

His luxury of cherry picking from opportunity inquires from a plethora of executive recruiters, HR professionals and direct company principals may seem a bit unexpected during this tough economy. In one recent instance, a company even offered Altan the opportunity to create his own job description.

Fundamental to Altan’s recent career search advancements are the following:

1. Articulating (with my help) his ‘complete story’– finely focused and value-driven resume, cover letter and power statements that are consistent with what Altan wants to be.

2. Creating a digital footprint, including blog, LinkedIn profile and Twitter account, among other social media venues.

3. Actively engaging on Twitter: Tweeting meaningful, value-driven contributions, which resulted in a major technology innovator inviting him to discuss a job opportunity after they followed his tweets about some of the technology they were interested in.

4. Selectively targeting / attending various meet-ups and unconferences and actively engaging in social networking discussions.

5. Spending the appropriate level of time and attention on company research before engaging in written and spoken conversations.

In your career,”you will eventually hit choppy waters, and you must prepare for it,” says Altan.

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst; anticipate it’s (lay off) going to happen and take steps to manage the change. These are career survival movements you must take, not just to succeed, but to thrive in this economic downturn … or virtually any economic climate.

“If you’re not prepared with excellent job currency (resume, power statements, blog, LinkedIn profile, etc.), how do you expect to compete with 10 million others?” asserts Altan.

For Altan, who seeks higher level positions, the principals reviewing his resume are accustomed to advanced-level resumes and will have doubts about his qualifications if his career positioning documents fall short.

“Having job currency that is valuable is key. Even with initial introductions, a resume is the common job currency that is requested, and you must make it look like an investment.

Continues Altan, “If you invest $2,000 and it helps you land a $150,000 job, then it’s done its work. I’m not saying your resume will physically go to meetings for you and introduce you, or will do your social networking. It’s a tool (like a power saw that cuts wood) – $50 saw vs. $500 saw – sooner or later you’ll have to look at that tool and say, ‘Is it worth buying the right one – or any one?”

“All of these are tools, part of the process, part of the journey.”