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Job Search Articles

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  • 30 Aug 2010 5:53 PM | Anonymous

    By Gerry Corbett

    In my early years in public relations, I was constantly reminded by reporters, editors and columnists that the cardinal sin of media relations was trying to pitch without knowing, reading or understanding the reporter’s work and beat. In their quest for a quick hit, wet-behind-the-ears PR newbies pitched stories and ideas that fell flat because the stories or ideas were either not related or just plain irrelevant to the writer’s interest. In the process these poor souls harmed their credibility and reputation, sometimes forever. The same thinking can be and should be applied to career search. Do the research required to understand the organization and the people involved in managing the company. If you see a firm or job that attracts your interest, prepare yourself well to pitch. Read everything that you can get your hands and eyes on. Bear in mind this simple axiom, if you want to get your letter and resume read, you better read. Consider these finer points of interest and insight. 

    1. When and if you see a position that fits your desires and skills, thoughtfully comb the company’s web site paying attention to exactly what it does, what it makes, the team involved and any cultural and environmental clues you pick up from its web site.

    2. Carefully read the media that follow the company. Monitor, absorb and understand what is being written by reporters and pundits about the firm and its management.

    3. If you are able to identify who is the hiring manager, put on your scanners. Check sites like Google, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, ZoomInfo, Pipl, Classmates, etc. Look for profiles, blogs, articles, white papers, biographies and other information types that can give you a sense of the person’s interests, priorities, passions and preferences.

    4. Use what you have read and absorbed to craft your cover letter. Often, some insight that you pick up from reading about the company and its management can make a significant difference in whether you are selected or not for an interview with the firm.

    Bottom line: tailor your cover letter to the job spec and to the insight you have gained from your research about the organization, its management, and the hiring executive.

  • 30 Aug 2010 5:47 PM | Anonymous

    By Kathleen Sullivan

    Finding a job when you are over 40 poses a number of challenges, some real, some perceived.  Employers may have preconceived ideas about job applicants who are over 40 in terms of their image, drive, relevance, and potential value to their organization.  Job seekers over 40 may also have their own preconceptions about how they will be viewed in the job market before they even start looking.   To be successful in your job search if you are over 40, you must effectively manage both the prospective employer's perceptions and your own.

    Image: Your image precedes you when you are looking for a job.  Prior to any physical contact with a prospective employer, your resume, cover letter, and online profile will project an image and create perceptions.  The language, format, and style have to be contemporary.  You must learn and leverage new technologies to market yourself.  If you use outdated job search styles, you will be defined as out of touch.  An up-to-date physical image is also critical to success.  If you have not revamped your wardrobe, hairstyle, or accessories in several years (or decades), it is time for a makeover.  Staying healthy and fit will project your physical vitality and convey that you have the stamina to keep up with younger colleagues. 

    Drive:  Employers often have concerns that job seekers over 40 have lost their drive and that their best years are behind them.  It is very expensive for them to hire an experienced person who joins an organization and wants to coast until retirement.  One of the greatest advantages you have if you are over 40 is your wealth of experience and skills.  Demonstrate how you will continue to leverage your experience and skills in your next job.  For example, you can provide the prospective employer will a 30/60/90 plan outlining the goals you will accomplish for them when you are brought on board.   Also, you can discuss new trends in your industry you find exciting or your plans to continue to learn about new technologies you can apply on the job.  Create a vision for the employer on how you will be a productive and forward thinking member of his organization. 

    Relevance:  When hiring, employers focus on the critical knowledge, skills, and experience that meet their current business needs.   Unfortunately, job seekers over 40 often try to impress prospective employers with their entire history and range of skills even if they are outside the scope of the position.  If you try to showcase all of your qualifications rather than the specific ones the employer is seeking, you will seem irrelevant.  The employer may also develop the impression that you do not understand how to meet his business needs.  Focus on the specifics of that position and impress the prospective employer with your ability to solve their problems. You have an edge because you have solved similar problems before and can use your past success to help your new employer.

    Value:  Employers are seeking the best value for their money when they are recruiting a new hire.  Job seekers over 40 can seem over-rated and over-priced.  They may also seem focused on their title, prestige, and salary. You must make a strong business case for why you should be hired and compensated at a certain level, especially if you are competing with someone who will cost the employer less in terms of salary and perks.  Your value to this employer is your proven record of producing business results, improving the bottom line, satisfying customers and making good decisions.  Market yourself in terms of the dollars you can earn or save for his business, your success in completing projects on time and within budget,  your customer relationship building, and your strong work ethic and you will prove your worth to the prospective employer.

    Managing perceptions can be one of the most difficult and subtle challenges of your job search if you are over 40.  You must stay aware of the perceptions that employers may have, even if they do not express them.  You must also guard against your own misperceptions.  Be proactive: project a current image, show that you are driven, demonstrate your relevance, and market your ongoing value to an employer.

  • 10 Jul 2010 1:25 PM | Anonymous

    By Sharon Graham

    According to current demographics, the mass retirement of baby boomers is changing the landscape of our labor market. These days, for every one person coming into the Canadian workforce, two are leaving their jobs. And, as seasoned professionals transition out of the market, more senior-level opportunities are opening up than ever before. So, if there are so many good jobs available, why is it so difficult to find these opportunities and get great offers?  You’ve probably heard this quote, often attributed to Albert Einstein: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." If you are finding that your job search is not working, you must change the way you are conducting it. Here are some things that you might be able to do differently in order to generate more opportunities and better job offers.

    Focus on your target market and draw them in. Don’t just apply haphazardly to all jobs. Target the organizations where you strongly believe that you will succeed. Select only positions and companies that are a solid fit for you – and then do your market research. If you choose prospects that interest you, you will find that you are more likely to do the homework required to get your foot in the door. Perform investigative interviews with people within the organization that you are targeting. Learn as much as you can about the company, its challenges, needs, and objectives. Figure out the corporate culture, personality, and style – especially those of the executive team, hiring manager, and recruiters. When you discover the right opportunity, exploit everything that you know about them to ensure that they do not overlook you. Do what it takes to show that you are not the average job seeker. If this means making a special trip to drop off a hard copy of a resume to the company – then do it. People like it when you care about them. When the company learns how hard you worked to address their needs, they will know that you are the “real thing.”

    Create deep connections with multiple recruiters. When it comes to recruitment firms, you need to be at “top of mind.” Most recruiters have limited openings and will work on your behalf only if they see you as a good fit. After all, recruiters are not working for you – they are working to fill postings for companies. Many recruiters work in niches. Ensure that you find and target the ones that specialize in your area of interest. Recruiters are usually too busy to meet – or even remember – every applicant that sends in a resume, so pick up the phone and make sure that they know you. If they do not recall receiving your resume, send another copy along right away. Recruiters are generally well connected. It is in your best interest to make sure that you get to know them well enough to be an asset – not a bother. If you share meaningful leads with them, they will be appreciative. Recruiters who know and like you will often market your resume to their industry contacts. If they see you as a valuable asset and a potential future client, you will be in the driver’s seat. 

    Tap into the hidden job market. If you want to attract the best opportunities, do not compete with the multitudes applying to job postings. It is a documented fact that experienced professionals find the best opportunities more quickly by tapping into the hidden job market – jobs that are not widely advertised. Employers may not be looking for outside candidates, but you can create your own openings by connecting directly with organizations that have no jobs posted. By meeting with decision-makers, you can establish yourself as a powerful ally in moving the organization towards its objectives. And – best of all – you will not be competing with anyone else for the role you created.

    Present a career brand that screams value. First impressions count – in fact, every impression that you make counts. There is no denying the power of branding. From the moment you present yourself to the public, you are making a statement. The business presence you create for yourself must stand apart from others, but it also needs to be authentic and aligned with your career objectives. Develop a robust career brand that clearly delineates who you are and what you have to offer potential employers. “Live and breathe” your brand. To be effective, your brand must be apparent throughout your job search and in everything you do. Your message must be evident whenever you are networking, interviewing, or simply socializing. Consider your brand in your selection of business attire, your verbal communication, and your manners. A strong career brand separates you from your competitors. In the eyes of employers, you become more memorable. You are seen as a significant catch and a valuable resource.

    Put forward a portfolio that sets you apart. One of your strongest career branding tools is your portfolio. Trash your template resume and create a unique portfolio that is an advertisement of your brand. Of course, your branded resume is the central document in the portfolio, and it must effectively represent you. The rest of your portfolio will reinforce your message, with a consistent “look and feel.” A dynamic, creative, strategic, and thoughtful portfolio that relates your distinguishing factors will dazzle the recruiter. If most people are submitting a “cookie cutter” résumé, you will naturally stand apart. With a proper portfolio, when you meet with a recruiter, you will distinguish yourself from the others. Rather than slapping a flimsy résumé on the desk, you will present your spectacular portfolio package. By doing this, you will already have a step-up on all the other candidates and the opportunity will be yours to seize.

    Close the opportunity before anyone else does.  Once finished with the interview, many candidates just sit back and wait for a call. Stand apart from the rest. Make yourself known as a take-charge professional who is very interested in the opportunity and will do what it takes to make it happen. Shortly after your interview, follow up with a professional “thank-you” letter. In your letter, emphasize how your strengths relate to the opportunity. Stress the fact that you are excited about moving forward, so that the recruiter clearly understands your interest in the position. Don’t rest on your laurels quite yet– follow up once again by phone to remind the decision-maker that you are still very interested in the opportunity. By connecting with the organization in a proactive and professional way, you will create a positive and memorable impression.

    When it comes to getting more opportunities and better offers, you must persevere. Don’t just go along with the status quo – take a proactive approach in your search. Just because there are tons of openings posted in cyberspace, it does not simply follow that you are going to be the one called for an interview. There are many components to the job search, which must be conducted effectively in order for recruiters to perceive you to be the “cream of the crop.” If you exploit as many strategies as possible, you will be seen as one who is worthy of the top opportunities and the best offers.

  • 05 Jul 2010 1:37 PM | Anonymous

    By John O'Connor

    For those who are 45 and over (and probably a little younger), I see a lot of self-generated concerns about age discrimination. Let's focus on the perception and misperception of age bias for those who think they are older or feeling that their "older age" is preventing them from getting a job. Does age discrimination or age bias exist? Yes. Job seekers and executives create their own bias too often. They have their own definition of old. In a word, if you are meeting with someone younger than you during your search process, as you often will at the 100K level and above - networking, interviewing, interacting, you may feel or even invent bias or become defensive.

    Part of an executive search is to become relevant and competent to any prospective employer. Employers are often represented by third-party recruiters. Often the screeners they may use are younger than you. To bolster your confidence and reduce the perception of age bias and discrimination during your job search you might:

    - Look at gaps in employment that need to be explained and handled properly and a well-rendered resume and cover letter. By the way, many people screw up their interviews by not properly accounting for or explaining employment gaps.

    - Ensure you are pursuing degrees, training and information that keeps you tied into what employers need now. That also means reading the right and latest information on your own, anticipating "the latest" buzz or information that you would be expected to master at the C-level.

    - Reinvent your career by looking at unconventional ways to lend your skills to younger, more dynamically changing companies. Blogging, writing, volunteering and consulting can help when you are between assignments.

    - Stop living in the past by constantly making references to what you did. With my executive clients, I hear a lot of talk about what worked six years ago. Remember, employers want to know what you can do for them now, and what you have done productively recently. Talk to networking contacts and potential employers about what you can do, will do and want to do.

    Additionally, never forget to network properly. Networking is especially important for older workers because jobs at the senior levels are the least likely to be advertised. It's important to fight the perception that your skills and knowledge might not be on the cutting edge. Stay up to date with technological trends and be sure to demonstrate your savvy when you converse with network contacts. Sadly, many job seekers over x age and who have been looking for more than six months or a year find it very hard to adapt to changes, and they are not open to changing their networking ways.

    If you are an older than, say, 40 year old job seeker, and you have not been productive in your search for more than six months, ask yourself why. Get help. If you have the finances, consider hiring a career advisor who will kick you in the butt and who may be younger than you. But whatever you do, stop doing what you have done in the past if the recent past has resulted in few interviews. Make some attitude and tactical changes. If you don't what you are doing might just get you the same results.

  • 25 Apr 2010 7:24 PM | Anonymous

    By Mary Schumacher

    Many nonprofit organizations use conventional recruiting channels, such as job boards, executive search firms, or referrals. However, for those of you seeking opportunities in the hidden job market, be the first on your block to try out these uncommon sources for nonprofit job leads.

    Members of Nonprofit Boards. This source is such an obvious one, and yet is an underutilized font of job information. While boards of directors do not generally hire anyone in a nonprofit organization except the executive director, their members often know the hiring needs or plans of the organization. Through their own socializing and networking activities, they also may know key people in other organizations who would be useful to meet. Ask them for names of people you should meet to enquire about hiring plans.

    Nonprofit Associations. OK, this one is not so unconventional but still a good source to include in a list for nonprofit job leads. Just about every state has a statewide association for nonprofit organizations. If your state has one, the National Council of Nonprofits has it listed here: If your state doesn’t have a nonprofit association, create your own job by launching one. Most associations will have an online job board and career center targeting nonprofit jobs.

    Continuing Education/Extension Departments at Universities. Many universities have extension programs that offer degrees, certificate programs, and continuing education courses. Some even offer nonprofit management programs. Regardless, extension managers generally have extensive contacts with nonprofit organizations. Get in touch with these people to find out their involvement with nonprofits and who you should talk to.

    Municipal/County Community Services Agencies. Many cities and counties provide nonprofits with funding for social service activities and therefore have detailed information about area nonprofits. While getting in to see a government official can sometimes be difficult, your persistence can pay off with information about nonprofit operational and staffing needs.

  • 19 Mar 2010 8:52 PM | Anonymous

    By Kate Duttro

    “I don’t have time to look for a job while I’m writing a thesis and finishing classes!”  In my time as a career counselor at a major university, I probably heard this line a thousand times. Most grad students saying that are right, because they’ve avoided all thought of jobs since they started grad school, and they are especially pushed in the weeks before graduation. But LinkedIn offers them an opportunity to become known in their field while they are taking all those classes and writing that thesis – if they take advantage of it. The beauty of LinkedIn is in offering both a public profile of accomplishments and a communications platform. The profile can be filled in bit-by-bit, a few minutes at a time, and it can replace at least some of the email in their lives. If grad students started a LinkedIn profile when they began their first classes, and invested 5-10 minutes a week, by the time they graduated, they’d have developed both a complete profile that will help them attract job offers and a way to become known and stay in contact with colleagues in their field.

    What’s the minimum for you to get started with LinkedIn?

    1. Start with your name. First, Google your name to see if others share your name, and if so, find a way to individualize your name, perhaps using a nickname (but keep it professional), a middle initial, or writing it out in full.

    2. Choose a descriptive profile headline, such as “graduate student, University of Michigan,” or “Master’s Candidate, E.E.,” or even, “MA expected June, 2010.” The headline helps define and label your focus.

    3. Upload a photo of yourself, and keep it professional. Think of the head shots of professors you’ve seen in professional conference programs. You don’t have to be wearing a tie, but don’t use a picture of your dog, either. Save it for Facebook.

    4. Use the summary section to describe your disciplinary focus. You can include your classes, your thesis title or a description of the research you’re involved in, but try to avoid sounding like a stuffed shirt. Interests, travel and languages you speak could fit here, too.

    5. Fill in the education and employment sections as completely as you can. Include internships, assistantships or any special training or research projects, as well as student memberships in campus and professional organizations. Include awards and accomplishments, especially if they’re related to your education.

    6. Fill in your status box periodically (at least every term, but monthly is better), so people know your profile is current. Note the courses you’re taking, the professional events you’re attending or leading, awards/ accomplishments, or papers/publications you’re working on.

    7. Join groups, especially those connected to your discipline or the field you hope to work in when you graduate. This is one of the best kept secrets of LinkedIn because you can interact with experts in your field just by engaging with other group members. By paying attention to the group discussions, you can learn about the issues in the field, and in the workplace, which don’t always come up in the classes you’re taking. Ask questions (and answer them) whenever you can. It’s a way of signaling that you’re willing to contribute to the field.

    8. Set up your personal URL. Make it easy for folks to find you by replacing the nonsense URL (that LinkedIn automates for you) with your name.

    9.  Ask for recommendations. Faculty are used to being asked for recommendations. Ask them, and recommend them, too. Ask employers as well, and anyone who has supervised your volunteer work or your co-authors or research partners.

    10. Start adding connections by inviting your fellow grad students, then professors, advisors and anyone else you interact with by email, especially if it is related to your research or future work. It’s commonly said that 50 connections is a tipping point and you’ll begin to see significantly more activity when you have that many.

    11. Add content--papers you’ve written, publications, PowerPoint presentations and other examples of your work. You can list books you’ve been reading and review them.

    Remember that this is not just a social twirl. You are building the basis of your job search a little at a time, while you are making your way through grad school. By the time you’re half way through, your job search will be under way, even though you may not have time to cruise the job banks the month before you graduate.

  • 13 Mar 2010 9:02 PM | Anonymous

    By Debra Feldman

    Specific circumstances, conditions, observations and trends are often strong indicators that a particular company may need new talent, will soon be posting openings or be receptive to having potential employees initiate contact and demonstrate interest in discussing how to solve their challenges. Therefore, those who recognize these trends first gain a competitive advantage in the job market and can increase their ability to network and start a meaningful dialogue with appropriate hiring decision makers. By setting up alerts, monitoring social media for news, reading employee blogs, and staying in close touch with contacts who have inside company knowledge, it’s possible to find out about which decision makers may be hiring.

    These are a dozen signs that harken of potential opportunities for the astute, attentive and aggressive candidate who’s on the watch. These are indicators for unadvertised jobs, opportunities in the hidden job market:

    --Announcements of promotions, re-organizations, consolidations, expansions, relocations, etc.

    --Corporate M &A activity

    --New products or services

    --Regulatory or changes in other mandated requirements

    --New funding sources

    --Changes in outsourcing policies

    --New technology

    --Adoption of new policies or procedures

    --Hiring a consultant

    --Switching partners or consultants

    --Taking on a new partner or establishing a new alliance or change of terms of an existing relationship

    --Cluster of job board postings (in one area can have ripple effect and produce needs elsewhere)

  • 20 Feb 2010 9:13 PM | Anonymous

    By Debra Feldman

    In a competitive job market, candidates need all the help, strength and fortitude they can muster to conquer numerous barriers to employment and to eliminate multiple obstacles that thwart personal career progress. Job search success depends on the correct strategy effectively executed, directed at the right time to the appropriate decision makers, providing a clear, compelling message unquestionably detailing a remarkable contribution that will make money, lower costs or improve process. Then it's critically important to follow up with patiently persistent and always courteous, polite reminders.  While their job search is the candidate's number one priority, employers have lots of other demands on their time. Here are a few quick ways to spark a job search campaign that's stalled and to propel a new search effort project forward.

    • Plan - Hope is not a plan. Create a job search plan and stick to it.
    • Prepare - Assemble the necessary resources to implement the plan.
    • Position - Identify target employer market, research their challenges and needs, determine how to attract their attention by showing the ability to deliver profitable solutions.
    • Potential contribution - identify specific skills, talent, knowledge that employers will value.
    • Package - differentiate by defining a niche expertise, be distinguished as a reliable, go-to expert.
    • Presentation - demonstrate capabilities with quantifiable achievements and qualified accomplishments.
    • Propose - share ideas, discuss solutions, seek advice (not a job referral) from key contacts (hiring decision makers, industry leaders, academic authorities, thought leaders) who have access to potential unadvertised leads personally or via their networks.
    • Prospect and research employers - circumstances that generate opportunities include news and announcements about restructuring, mergers, acquisitions, expansion, new products/services, partnerships, retirements, awards, facility moves or renovations, legal proceedings, new regulations, community initiatives, etc.
    • Persevere - persistence pays by promoting relationships and developing trust, prerequisites for an offer. Polite pings remind decision makers of a candidate’s serious interest.

    People learn from experience. Candidates are rarely job search experts.  Some of the most successful people have rarely had to officially look for a job because they have been recruited or promoted during their careers. They may never have had to proactively seek out their next position. Many competent and talented job seekers need assistance in getting started their job search on the right path and then need ongoing support to stay on track until they land.

    Networking is undeniably the most successful job search method. It always works. Candidates should be prepared that their search could last months.  There are likely to be surprises and setbacks. Even after an offer is made, they should not stop networking. In fact, networking should never stop. Networking is good career management - the way to source new opportunities and participate in the hidden or unadvertised job market. 

    It takes a professional with extensive and diverse job searching experience to design an effective strategy and manage an efficient implementation that will be both effective and efficient. A job search expert will anticipate roadblocks and intervene early to remove barriers to accelerate results and land swiftly.

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