Author Archives: Alex Freund

About Alex Freund

Alex has extensive experience with interviewing people. He has also practical training in career coaching. Consequently, he formed LandingExpert – Career Coaching services. He is prominent in a number of networking groups and has helped many job seekers with their career searches, providing them with tools, information, marketing material, and one-on-one preparation for the interview. Via his website www.landingexpert.com he offers people in transition and otherwise a comprehensive and updated list of job-search networking groups. This list is being viewed consistently by over 3000 people per month.

How Many LinkedIn Connections One Needs?

How Many LinkedIn Connections One Needs

The more the merrier

Many people ask me how many LinkedIn connections one needs.  I’m a huge proponent of increasing the number of connections on LinkedIn. I voice that strong opinion every time I make a public presentation on a relevant subject or speak with anyone looking for advice on finding a job. At times, I find opponents to the concept, but mostly only up until I give them the logic behind my reasoning. Admittedly, I can’t convert everyone. Some people are very emotional about the subject, and perhaps that’s their only reason; my own argument is logical.

In LinkedIn lingo, we talk about first-, second-, and third-level connections. Sociologists have been wrestling with the subject of such connections, or ties, as they call it, many years before the LinkedIn era. They differentiate between strong ties and weak ties. For our purpose, first-level connections are considered strong ties; the rest are weak ties. Sociologists such as Mark Granovetter of Stanford University, Ofer Sharone of MIT, and Sandra Smith of the University of California, Berkeley have done work in this area. Through their extensive research, they’ve proved that a weak tie is more prone to be of assistance to someone looking for work than a strong tie is. The logical explanation is that if you recommend someone who ultimately doesn’t get the job, it reflects badly on you as the person making the recommendation. By making a recommendation, you’re spending your own reputational capital in the form of social and, at times, political currency. This does not hold true—or at least not to the same extent—if the connection is a weak tie. In addition, if you know someone well—that is, via a strong tie—it is very likely that you’re also familiar with the person’s weaknesses and you might feel bad about not being 100 percent honest if you recommend the person. And two more valid arguments surfaced from the sociologists’ research: (1) that the strong-tie connections mingle in the same social and work circles and all of them are exposed to similar information, whereas (2) the weak-tie connections mingle in different circles.

I hope I’ve clarified my point for the need to increase the number of your first-level connections on LinkedIn. Why? Because you cannot get to second- and third-level connections—which might be the connections you really want (based on these studies)—unless you have sufficient first-level connections. Have you ever asked yourself why there are so many LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers, which are people who accept all invitations) on LinkedIn? One reason is that those LIONs understand the need for weak connections; another reason is that people by nature are competitive and want to outdo others, or who knows why? Do you? Please share your opinion.

How to Turn Networking into Interviews

How to Turn Networking into Interviews

Networking is relationship building

People in transition know that 60 to 80 percent of job seekers get their next positions through networking. Consequently and whenever possible, they focus their daily activities on such networking. But despite their—sometimes admittedly awkward—efforts, nothing comes of it. The reason is that they don’t have an understanding of the actual purpose of networking and how to turn it into interviews.

The purpose of networking is to cultivate relationships for advice, information, leads, and, hopefully, referrals. While it’s important to know others for this purpose, it’s equally important that those others know you. Most people are willing to network, but they have the right to expect you to (1) focus on specific companies and (2) demonstrate to them that networking is a give-and-take transaction, whereby they, too, may get from you in turn some industry intelligence.

For those who don’t know how to go about approaching a person for the purpose of networking, here’s a simple script that can be used either over the phone or via e-mail.

My name is Jane Jones. Our mutual acquaintance Stan Smith
suggested I give you a call [send you an e-mail] because he feels
you’re an expert in the pharmaceutical industry. Stan suggested
you might be of assistance to me. I’m in transition and looking
for a role as a marketing director. I don’t expect you to know
of an opening in this area, but perhaps you can share with me
your thoughts about ways I can find out who’s hiring.

The mechanics of a networking dialogue should have the following components. An initial rapport building to establish the relationship. An agenda for the purpose—and that consider how you, too, can add value. Try finding out whom the other person knows or what good contacts the person has. Another element is likability. You must develop your relationship on trust, integrity, and shows of enthusiasm, motivation, and drive. Nobody enjoys a conversation with someone who’s depressed—with the possible exception of a psychologist!   And last, get engaged in the exchange, and try to feel comfortable asking for referrals. When you get them, make sure you keep your host in the loop.

If you follow these guidelines, it’s very likely that you’ll generate more interviews. In that event, make sure you’re well prepared. You don’t want to drop the ball once you’re so close to scoring.

The Job Offer Negotiation: Do You Understand It?

Money does not grow on trees.  You negotiate it.

It takes three steps to get a great job. First, you need a good enough résumé and LinkedIn profile to be fished out from an ocean of candidates. Otherwise, you are invisible and irrelevant! Second, you need to beat your competition in the contest called interviewing. After all, there’s only one job, and applicants not chosen for interviews are losers. And third, you have to maximize what you get from this deal. The company is getting you, the best; at least, that’s the organization’s impression by going through this lengthy selection process. But do you understand what’s going on during the job offer negotiation process? And are you good at it? If so, then you know that such negotiation is the most rewarding part—both emotionally and financially—of this otherwise grueling and arduous process. I’m sure you know by now that a job offer negotiation is not one size fits all. A junior system analyst’s negotiation of a job offer is different from that of a director or a vice president and very different from that of a big-company CEO. Typically, a CEO candidate doesn’t even negotiate at all, because that’s done for the candidate by the candidate’s team of advisers with the compensation committee, a part of the organization’s board of directors. But what is common to all job candidates is that they have to be liked and wanted by the organization, because if not, the negotiation will break down fast.

Job offer negotiation is by definition a candidate’s desire to improve on what’s been initially put on the table—primarily because the candidate considers himself deserving of more. If that is indeed the case, then the candidate must articulate the reason(s). Greed—or negotiation simply for the sake of gaining experience in negotiating—is hardly justified and often ends in disappointment.

Good job-offer-candidate negotiators clearly understand the art of negotiating; they study the person they’re negotiating with to the extent they can; and they try to learn the constraints the employer has. Some things can be negotiated; others cannot. Also, be ready for pushback in the form of difficult questions. Like a chess game, sometimes you attack, and at other times, you retreat.

Don’t start job offer negotiation unless you are fully prepared and have practiced it. When you took your driver’s license road test, for instance, you probably took several driving lessons prior to it. This is no different. It’s another test for which you must prepare. Part of that preparation involves your clearly understanding your own needs and priorities, because when asking for more, you cannot act like Colombo by saying, “Oh, yes, just one more thing I have to ask you.” Put all of your requests on the table at once, with the hope that you’ll get most of them.

Remember that negotiations in general are give-and-take. An ultimatum presented by either side can end the negotiation instantly. Sometimes a job offer negotiation can be lengthy, and as the candidate, you must have patience because what you want is to get the right job as part of your career path and not just to win in the game of negotiation. Practice makes perfect.