Friday, February 27, 2009

Laid Off? Effective Networking to Your Next Position!

Are you tired of posting to the black holes on the Internet? You know them – tantalizing job titles and job postings where no one ever answers other than the automated thank you response.

RecruiterGuy says stand up and take control of your search! All too often candidates try the easy route to finding a job – simply get on the Internet and post their resume to dozens of companies at a time. Unfortunately after all of those postings you never received a call. Then frustration sets in and you find yourself complaining that it’s all a waste of time – and then you do it again tomorrow and the next day.

Please understand that Internet job postings are essentially automated newspaper ads. The beauty of the Internet from a company perspective is that instead of having to handle each resume that is mailed or faxed in, the Internet response never needs to be handled. That line should give you something to think about. Now you know why you never received a call.

There are some companies out there that are excellent recruiting machines. However in my experience, most companies are trying to recruit the same way they always had, without really learning that Recruiting Is Sales. Chances are most of them are the companies that you have not heard from. Isn’t amazing that you sometimes do not hear from companies even after you told them in your inquiry that you are a happy client? Recruiting Is Sales!

What is the most effective way to network for a new position?

The first step is to develop your “Here I am Speech”. This is also known as an elevator speech. It needs to come from your heart and give a quick snapshot of your background, your current situation and what you want to do next. It shouldn’t be longer than 30 seconds.

Once you are comfortable with what you will tell contacts, it is important to develop a list of people to contact. Don’t limit that list to those who know you well. Include any people who know who you are. Your list could include people from your former employer who know your work ethic (could be a double edged sword), friends, neighbors, people from church, a store, your bank. How about the parents of your children’s friends? Include everyone, the more the better. During a job search, your most important commodity is names and phone numbers, particularly referred names and phone numbers. Develop a spreadsheet of everyone you know, including all acquaintances, phone number, and where they work (if you know). Develop a second spreadsheet of companies that you have targeted. Finally if you have a LinkedIn network, identify people you want to contact who are in that network, some of these are your “cold calls”. Use the LinkedIn network to meet the people who may be instrumental to setting up an interview with you.

In a serious job search you need to faithfully call at least 4 new contacts per day for 3 months. If you do, the law of averages will work in your favor and you will most likely receive an offer. Now you know why names and their phone numbers are your most important commodities. Do the math. If you do not faithfully call those numbers of people, it will take you longer to find a job – unless you are very lucky.

When you call your first contacts, tell them the reason for your call (networking) and ask if you can take a minute to tell them about your background. Now give them your “Here I am Speech”. Then ask them who they recommend that you talk with next. I guarantee that if you just ask them if they have an opening at their company, their knee jerk response 98% of the time will be “No”. Try to get at least 4 or 5 peoples’ names and numbers from each person that you call. These are your warm referrals. They may say they don’t know anyone. Then ask “Who do you know at abc company?” or “Do you know anyone who lives down south (or anywhere)?” Remember the 6 degrees of separation. Asking the latter question may help you get to a different part of the country without knowing anyone there yourself.

What is a “warm referral”? When someone calls you and says that a friend or business acquaintance gave them your name and number, you are more open to receiving the call, right? Not only that, you do not want to disappoint your friend so you try to help that caller. That’s why you seek warm referrals. A person that you call out of the blue may not even take your call. If they do take your call, they may not be as likely to help you (You still should make cold calls because they can lead to more warm referrals!!!).

Importantly, what else could happen after you give your “Here I Am Speech”? They could ask you “Are you interviewing with us?” Ahh, music to my ears! That’s the response that you may seek. If you are not interviewing with them, ask them who you should contact within their firm or if they would be willing to introduce you? This is how you network your way into a job.

One important note, by definition networking is a give and take. It is important to ask everyone if there is some information they need or where you can help them? It is also important that you let them know if you were successful as a result of one of their referrals. I cannot tell you how many times people have asked for my help (for free) and never got back to me when they found a job. This is a common courtesy that people will remember.

Now that you know how, Good Luck Networking!

My next blog is about your Interview.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Laid Off? Developing Your Marketing Piece- Your Resume

Understand that for every foot between New York and California, there has been a book written about writing your resume. Some were written by people who are writers. Some written by people who saw a chance to use some common sense and make some money. Others were written by professionals in the business. Obviously in a blog, RecruiterGuy (who has been in the recruitment business since 1981) cannot go into the detail a book would give. However we can go over the basics to help you get back to work.

One of the most important basics to understand is that the recruiting process is a sales process. In the RecruiterGuy presentations on the recruitment process from both sides of the desk, I subtitle the presentation, “Recruiting Is Sales”.

If the recruitment process is a sales process, then your resume is your marketing piece. As such, you need to include your accomplishments, especially for the past 5 years. This is not the time to worry about “bragging” as some candidates have said to me during career counseling. The resume also serves as the jump off point during your interview. If your accomplishments are not in your resume, they may not be discussed. The convention in resume writing is to write your resume in the third person, as if someone were writing about you and drop the pronouns. You also write your resume in past tense, even the responsibilities you have in your current position.

Everyone who counsels candidates on resume writing has their own prejudices on the format. These are the essentials: Keep it simple and easy to read. If you are successful here, you are more likely to attract the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager. After all, what do they typically look for in a candidate? Excellent communication skills.

RecruiterGuy has another important rule – Keep Your Contact Information in a Plain, Easy to Read Format. None of that fancy stuff like panels/boxes, bullet points/hyphens/cedillas between addresses and phone numbers. Also ensure your contact information is in the body of the resume, not the header. Why? Today most companies, including, store your resume in an applicant tracking system. The Optical Character Reading (OCR) software may not be able to understand the fancy stuff and your resume will go into the manual loading process. That means that it may never get into the applicant tracking system. If it does not get into the applicant tracking system, no one will read it and that equals no interview.

What format is my prejudice? I like to see your name and contact information centered at the top of your resume (bold is nice).

Then I like to see Summary: (bold) justified on the left margin. In your summary, list headlines of some of your important accomplishments – It would look something like this –
Summary: Saved company $150,000 by restructuring procurement process. Or, Consistently was 125% of quota in past 5 years.

You may add more details in the body of your resume in the Professional Experience area.

If you graduated from college, Education: (bold) would be next, also justified on the left margin. List your most recent degree first. Then follow below with other degrees (if you earned them) in reverse order below – most recent first. Here is a HUGE caution. Degrees are almost the easiest information to verify on a resume. If you did not get the last two PE credits, the college still believes you need to earn them before you get your degree. If you lie about your degree and are caught – and most likely today you will be caught – you will get fired. That’s not something that you will want to discuss in your next interview.

Then write Professional Experience: (bold) justified on left column. Below Professional Experience, write the name of your current/Last employers (bold/left justified) and your dates of employment (bold/right justified). Below your employer’s name write your title (bold/left justified), followed by your most recent position and work backwards. If you have worked with the same company for a long time and had several positions within the company. Write the name of your employer (bold/left justified) and your total dates of employment (bold/right justified). Skip a line and write your current/last title (bold/left justified) and your dates in that position (bold/right justified).

Understand that your information in the body describing responsibilities is not bold. When writing a resume, always begin sentences with action verbs in the past tense. Never begin a sentence with “Have worked”. Begin the sentence “Worked”. Write your resume with your responsibilities in paragraph format and accomplishments list with bullet points. Only list a few important accomplishments with bullet points for each position. Otherwise, in a resume with many bullet points, your primary accomplishments may be overlooked.

This is very important! Do not put Any personal information in your resume!! Like it or not, people use all of the information that you give them to make a decision whether you are a fit for their position or not. While companies may not legally discriminate against you for personal information, you will never know what helped them make their decision if you add it in.

You may add in your work in associations, particularly if you were a leader.

Once you finish your resume, read it out loud word by word. Then read it again backwards out loud. Then read it a third time out loud forward. Be aware that “form” and “from” both make it successfully through spell check. There are many other words that match up that way – fan/fun, chick/chuck, at/it, etc. Once you are totally satisfied it is perfect, ask someone who did not help you write your resume to edit it for you. Only then is it almost safe to give to a company – just read it aloud one more time. Remember, your resume is your representation of you. If it is written carelessly, that is a reflection of your work.

In two days, we will discuss how to network your way into your next job and avoid the black holes of Internet postings.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Laid Off? Take Stock of Your Skills!

This is my series of blogs on what to do when you are laid off. Look for a new blog every other day.

Based on my experience as RecruiterGuy and my personal experience, there are a number of check list items that you need to prepare.

One of the most important is to understand that you will go through the steps of grieving: grief and disbelief, anger, depression, and acceptance. It takes some people longer to work through these steps than others. Actually some people need some psychological support before they get to acceptance. We are all different and it’s no reflection on you.

Next, you want to develop a skills inventory. What skills are very strong for you? Develop examples to demonstrate those skills. What attributes belong to you – honesty, integrity, loyalty, etc. Develop examples that demonstrate those attributes. Write all of these skills, attributes, and examples down. Review them before every interview.

Of those skills that are very strong, what do you enjoy doing and what would you prefer not to do. For instance, I am very good doing Employee Relations work. However, I would not be happy doing Employee Relations every day. What types of work do you despise?

Now that you have taken stock of your skills, what types of work requires those skills. I’ve heard a layoff euphemistically called a “career enlargement” meaning now you have an opportunity to do anything that you really want to earn money.

Decide on your next career and set a goal. Many people do not understand the elements of a goal. First of all, a goal must be specific. It must be measurable. It must be challenging, not something that you can do right this minute. It must be realistic. Finally it must have a stated completions date that you commit to achieving that goal.

In your job search your goal could be “By May 30, I will be working as an _______. I will get this position by contacting at least 20 new networking contacts per week to discuss my background.” This is a realistic goal as long as the position could be available by then. You also are giving yourself a way of measuring your activity.

Next develop a list of your accomplishments in your jobs over the past 5 years. We will discuss this list and the next steps in our next blog – Laid Off? Developing a Resume