Job Action Day: Start Up – How to Network

For this year’s Job Action Day, I’m contributing to “Start Up.” According to Quintessential Careers, “Start Up” refers to the whole mindset of being the CEO of your career; having a portfolio of portable skills, a great network, flexibility, a project-mentality; not sitting at the computer visiting job boards, but getting out there, meeting people, and knocking on doors.

Get ready to take action.

In any economy, good times and bad, it’s important to take control of your career search and not rely on the “spray and pray” method—spraying your resume all over internet job boards, and praying someone calls you. By taking an active role in your career, you land a job by choice, not by chance. Won’t it be nice to control your career destiny?

While there are many methods to search for a job, the No. 1 method is to network. You will see networking tips for “getting out there, meeting people, and knocking on doors” below.

Additionally, you can contact companies directly via their company websites or via direct mail. Send your resume and cover letter to key decision-makers for your job target. Better, of course, is to network your way into the company through your personal contacts.

And finally, job boards. Job boards are the most passive way to search for a job. Per CareerXroads Source of Hire Report, March 2011, 24.9% of candidates are sourced through job boards.

My recommendation when using a job board: Use your professional organization’s job board first, like the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD’s) Job Bank (http://jobs.astd.org/) or the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA’s) Job Center (http://www.prsa.org/jobcenter/). Oftentimes jobs posted in a professional organization’s job bank are not posted elsewhere. If you wish to use the major job boards, I recommend doing a little investigative work. Read the job posting, and then see if you have a connection at the company or a contact whom you’ve identified has a connection (two degrees away). In this way, you will learn more about the organization through your connection and be able to create a warm referral to the appropriate decision maker. Do follow the job postings’ requirements and procedures; just use your connections to take your application to the next step.

Get Personal

Networking is simply the No. 1 way people land new jobs. In fact, according to CareerXroads Source of Hire Report, March 2011, “27.5% of hires are attributed to referrals. Referrals are the No. 1 Source of External Hires.” The study also states that “50.3% of all openings are filled through internal movement.” Internal movement counts as a referral. That means 77.8% of people are hired through people they know—their network.

How to Choose a Networking Group

When deciding upon joining a networking group, ask yourself the following questions: Who needs to know about you to help you reach your goals? Does this networking organization serve your target audience for your career goal? Does it have members who are your audience? If not, it’s probably not the group for you.

What groups should you join? Join at least three types of groups:
1. Peer group for brainstorming, education, commiserating, and more importantly for creating referral or alliance partners;
2. Prospects: a group that is your ideal target market or knows your ideal target market;
3. Professional business group or leads group, including professional associations, such as ASTD, PRSA, ISM, and others. Hiring decision-makers often Google your name before meeting with you. Being associated with a professional organization can boost your online presence.

Now that you’ve chosen your top three groups for in-person networking, make a plan. Take five minutes before each networking event to:
• Rehearse your sound bite
• Identify key players whom you would like to meet
• Make a goal to meet at least three new people

What to Say at Networking Events

Have at least three open-ended questions you can ask any person at the networking event.

Here are open-ended questions that encourage conversation:
1. What brings you to today’s meeting?
2. What one or two things would you like to take away from this event?
3. What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you all week?

Never ask: “Do you know anyone who’s hiring?”

Your goal is to create real and helpful connections, NOT close the deal on a job offer or try to collect the most business cards in the room.

Let us know how this works for you and share your story! Good luck!

Want more help taking your job search to the next level? Check out “Rock Your Job Search™.” This program includes proven strategies including: How to Network Effectively Online; How to Ace the Interview; How to Negotiate the Offer and Get the Salary You Deserve, and much, much more. Includes: workbooks, audio, and extra bonuses. Enjoy!

® 2011 | Wendy Terwelp | Opportunity Knocks™ | All rights reserved.

What to Say at Networking Events

Tongue-tied at networking events? Here are some tips to start a conversation.

Have at least three open-ended questions you can ask any person at the networking event.

Here are open-ended questions that encourage conversation:
1) What brings you to today’s meeting?
2) What one or two things would you like to take away from this event?
3) What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you all week?

NEVER ask: “Do you know anyone who’s hiring?”

Your goal is to create real and helpful connections, NOT close the deal on a job offer or try to collect the most business cards in the room.

Want more networking tips? Read, “Rock Your Network®”

Your Cell Phone Can Ruin Your Interview

By Guest Blogger, Isabella York

In today’s modern world, cell phones play a very important role in communication. Everyone, including students, use cell phones to keep in touch with others, to convey an important message or to find information in an instant.

For those looking for a job, your cell phone could be your best friend when you need to call companies to inquire about job openings or to confirm an interview with a prospective employer. But, when used inappropriately, cell phones could cost you the job you want.

You can’t answer your phone every time it rings. And you shouldn’t, especially when you’re on an important job interview. Unfortunately, though, a lot of people break this rule. This definitely calls for some brushing up on cell phone etiquette.

First, here are some pet peeves headhunters have when it comes to interviewing people who can’t seem to part from their phones.

  1. Gabbing or texting nonstop on your phone while waiting for your interview. OK, so it’s not your turn yet to impress the employer with your wit and charm. But that does not give you license to chat or text ceaselessly in the waiting area. That seemingly oblivious receptionist at the front desk could be eavesdropping on you or secretly eying you from a distance. Your private conversations could turn out to be not-so-private after all when word about your chatting or texting marathons reaches the hiring manager. That just gives a bad impression, so please, take your personal business elsewhere or wait until the interview is over.
  2. Using the internet feature of your phone. Many new cellphones these days come with browsing features that help people get information on the go. Even if your data plan allows you to surf whenever you feel like it, remember that you are waiting for a job interview. You may think that this is not as severe as talking or texting on your phone, but it is. Surfing while waiting shows you’re bored and that you’re better off somewhere else than waiting for hours for your interview to happen.
  3. Using your phone to take down notes. Surprise, surprise! Some people actually DO this during job interviews. You know from the moment you accepted the interview invitation that you need to take down notes to retain information. Why would you be using your cell phone to record information, when you could’ve brought a notebook or an organizer for that purpose?
  4. Answering a call in the middle of the interview. Unless you’re expecting an emergency call from your wife who’s about to give birth or other related emergency (although, if it’s an emergency, why would you be expecting it anyway?), your phone should be turned off during the interview. Making a potential employer wait for you while you finish your phone conversation is just plain rude. The hiring manager wouldn’t think twice about kicking you out of the room, at least mentally.
  5. Talking to someone in the company’s restroom. This can be summed up in one word: gross. Whatever your business is, don’t talk about it in the restroom, especially not in the company where you’re having an interview. You don’t know who else might be in hearing range and listening to every juicy detail you dish while on the phone.

Having said those things, there are good practices to observe so you don’t jeopardize the job of your dreams. Some tips:

  1. Instead of burying your face on the phone while waiting for your interview, consider mentally rehearsing your answers to possible questions that may pop up during the interview.
  2. Before entering the interviewer’s room, turn your cell phone OFF. Yes, you read that right: Off. Even if you have your phone on vibrate mode, your interviewer would still hear its buzzing sound and that could interrupt the flow of conversation.
  3. If you are expecting an important phone call, inform your caller not to contact you during specific hours.
  4. Ask someone else to take the call for you or run your errands BEFORE you head out to your interview.
  5. Turn on your voice mail so you can listen to your messages after the interview.

It is important to make a good impression on your job interview. Even if you have a list of great accomplishments, those things won’t matter much if you don’t show respect to your future employer. Nonverbal communication matters greatly especially when meeting someone for the first time. Use your cell phone sparingly when waiting for an interview or preferably not at all.

Isabella York’s background includes serving in Human Resources with Balsam Hill,  a provider of fine pre-lit Christmas Trees. She’s also a busy mother with a son to raise, who enjoys being outside in her backyard garden. 

Graphic by SnapHappy Creative LLC.

Want more help with interviews? Check out Invincible InterviewsSM

Five Quick Tips to Network Over the Holidays

Share your holiday networking story and get a chance to win my book! That’s right – send in your holiday networking story to me directly: consultant@knocks.com or post it here on this blog and get a chance to WIN!

Here are Five Quick Tips to help you network like a rock star – and get your story in before Dec. 25, 2010.

1. Listen. Listen for opportunities, problems, or situations in a friend’s conversation. It could be a golden opportunity for you.

2. Ask. Ask others how you may help them. You’ve got to fuel your network to fire it up!™

3. Have your sound bite ready! Focus, Share, Tell.

4. Reconnect. Dig out your holiday mailing list. Who haven’t you talked to in a while? Pick up the phone – and take five to reconnect.

5. Attend. Yes, holiday gatherings can be really crazy. Just do it.

And if you think you’ve got it bad, I just talked with someone who shared the following Thanksgiving story:

“How was my Thanksgiving? Well, the dog drank out of the toilet, then tried to eat all the deserts. Kids were running everywhere – and there were only two of them. Not to mention everyone talking really, really loud and all at the same time. I can’t believe we drove 4-and-a-half hours for that.”

“So,” I said, “Ready for Christmas?”

“Yes,” she said, “We’re doing it all over again.”

Ah, the holidays. Can’t control it, so you might as well make the most of it – and share your story!

The deadline is Dec. 25, 2010. The earlier you send in your stories, the better ’cause I’m feeling generous. We’ll be doing more than one drawing.

And, for those of you who simply can’t wait for a drawing, get my book, Rock Your Network® for Job Seekers, by clicking on the book cover.

Now, here’s the really cool thing, buy one, get one FREE! And, only ONE shipping rate. Woo hoo! (Offer ends 12/31/10.) Get one, give one. Go on!

To get the deal, enter “HO HO HO 2010” in the special message section when you place order. (We use PayPal.)

I look forward to hearing all of your cool holiday networking stories. Thanks in advance for sharing!

PS: Here are links to two holiday networking stories – to give you some ideas:

“Holiday Networking: Pass the Nuts and Your Resume Please” and “Good News: Hired Over the Holidays.”

© 2010 | Wendy Terwelp | All rights reserved.

Job Searching Sucks

I’ve been listening in on several LinkedIn groups of late and there’s a common theme, job searching sucks!

Comments have included: “No one hires older candidates.” “I don’t know how to communicate transferable skills.” “I know I sure don’t want to do what I did before…but…” “I hate networking.” “Who do I talk to?”

It’s true that many of the above are perceived obstacles. Let’s talk about some solutions that work in overcoming them.

1. Know what you want. If you don’t, it’s much harder for your network to help you. “Know anyone who’s hiring?” is not an effective networking opener. Plus, it is not the hiring decision-maker’s job to tell you what they have open or what position you may be good for. One HR director from Hallmark told me, “Help us out a bit. We’re not career counselors. Tell us what you want!”

If you’re making a change and are unclear of your new direction, I recommend completing career assessments to help you gain focus. Use a real person to help you, not just online assessment tools. A career coach or counselor can help you narrow down your choices and determine the right path for you. It’s a team effort, because your coach is objective, and sometimes a person needs help in defining goals (and a little prodding as well).

2. Age. You are the age you are. Trying to hide your age is going to be an eye-opener when you show up and appear older than 40. Rather than hide your age, demonstrate your value to an organization. What do you bring to the table BESIDES years of experience? A CEO of a staffing firm told me, “For people with 20 or more years of experience, DO NOT write that into your resume. Put a BENEFIT STATEMENT into your resume – something that speaks of how you 1) made the company money, 2) saved the company money or 3) streamlined procedures. Years of experience is immaterial and may indicate that you are just “old.” Companies want to know what kind of contribution you can make to their success – not how many years you’ve been working.”

I have worked with clients 50 and older. One 58-year-old client was very concerned about this. I must say, I had no idea she was 58, and only guessed she was older than 50 because I worked with her daughter previously. She was smart, savvy, dressed young – yet very professionally – and had modern glasses and haircut. This is important for interviews. Another, 62, bought a fitness club and runs this. All of my clients have “young” attitudes, are willing to learn, many are very physically active. You can talk about your marathon, bicycling, etc. on your interview if it comes up. If it doesn’t, know that you can mention relevant hobbies on your resume. I do not mean golf and reading. These are BORING. I do mean, if you ran a marathon in Prague, cool. Mention it. I did this for a client who was transitioning from being an experienced hospital staff nurse to pharmaceutical sales. She got the gig.

3. Transferable skills. Sure you’ve got them. It’s your responsibility to help employers connect the dots. It’s not an employer’s responsibility to do it for you. How? a) Demonstrate your thought leadership online – blog posts, tweets, article links, commentary all help you achieve this. BONUS – doing so shows you “get it” and are hip to online social media. b) Build your LinkedIn network. You are who you hang with. c) Read things outside your industry as well as inside. This gives you a broad perspective. Then communicate your new thoughts online, in white papers, and at your next industry gathering (professional network, etc.).

According to a Microsoft survey in 12/2009 about social media and hiring, 79% of interviewers said they Google candidates before meeting them. In another survey, 45% of employers said they would eliminate candidates based on what they found online.

Let’s help them find some good (not scary) stuff.

Want more ideas? Visit my newsroom here: http://www.knocks.com/News/News.asp, subscribe to this blog, and subscribe to my e-zine (http://knocks.com – check out the sign-up box).