Tag Archives: Career coach. job advice

Applying for Jobs Is Ineffective

Applying for jobs

Applying for jobs

Many people are looking desperately for suitable jobs, but ask yourself whether you’re just working hard at it or smart at it. Many get so disappointed by the entire process that they give up entirely. Please don’t! Via this article, I want to revive your interest by attempting to logically explain the job search process and how to go about it.

The answer lies in being effective at networking. Only a small percentage of people say they enjoy meeting new people while in transition. An equally small percentage network out of necessity. However, because they may have had bad experiences and have come to believe networking to be a waste of time, a majority of people in transition don’t take advantage of the opportunities coming their way.

The objective of networking is not to meet people but to be referred by people (1) who can talk to others about your past performance and (2) who are willing to recommend you. Such recommendations are remarkably more valued by a hiring decision maker versus simply interviewing people based on their résumés. A recommendation by a trusted source based on past performance on the job is more convincing—and a better predictor of future performance and potential—than relying on gut feelings after the interview.

There are two steps for this process to be successful. The first is to choose a few people who know your past performance to the point that they’re not only willing to vouch for you but also willing to go the extra mile by actually putting in a good word for you. However, you want to make sure that those people are familiar with the information in your actual résumé or at least your LinkedIn profile. To ensure that, ask for their feedback on either one or both. Then ask them to either call on your behalf or introduce you to someone they consider being in a position to help you. I know this procedure can be highly uncomfortable, but assure the people that you would do the same for them if the shoe were on the other foot.

The second step is to reverse the networking process. Start with a job opening that interests you. Next, find someone in your circle of connections who can introduce you to someone else at that company. Once you’ve made that inside connection, you must become focused and proactive. Ask for further connections until you get closer to the decision makers for the job. This sounds difficult and is usually out of most people’s comfort zones, but it is very effective. Those who are persistent get favorable results. At times, you’ll feel you’ve hit a brick wall or ended up in a cul-de-sac. But don’t give up. Keep going, because the method works.

Admittedly, the headwind, the pushback, and the system’s failure rates are considerable. It’s easy to become disappointed and to want to give up. To stay focused, establish a reasonable target of connections you want to make each week. Challenge yourself to stay the course. Remember famous film producer Samuel Goldwyn, who said, “The harder I work, the luckier I become.” It’s so true. And I wish you lots of luck.

In Transition: So What’s Your Brand?

2013-06-04 13 38 41More than ever, when you are in transition you should have a brand. Why? you ask. Because that is how you differentiate yourself and stand out from the proverbial crowd.

Branding is not about what you like but about what employers like. Your branding statement—whether in writing, on the Internet, or spoken via your elevator pitch should have the triple purposes of gaining credibility, arousing curiosity, and increasing your likability factor. And your work toward those goals will not be in vain, because 90 + percent of employers check out candidates prior to making initial searches via, say, LinkedIn, Spokeo, or ZoomInfo.

Nowadays, employers use Google when searching for prospects. Research shows that

29% of people use two words when searching, 28% use three words, 17% use four words, and only 11% use one word. This means that your résumé or any other information about you should be rich with nouns and phrases. This advice is different from what we were told in the past: that résumés should have lots of action verbs. In fact, a combination of both is best. Yes, certainly computers are looking for keywords, but when people actually read about you, they want to see both action and accomplishments.

A recent study found that 90% of people search on the first three pages of search engine results and that 62% search only on the first page. Good branding work rewards candidates by resulting in a high ranking on Google searches. To find out what’s out there in cyberspace, here are the most common social media search engines:

Setting it up is a bit time-consuming, but you might be surprised at the information available about you and that you didn’t have a clue about. One of the best ways to find out what people are saying about you is to monitor your reputation via www.google.com/alerts.

It’s very important to communicate properly, for this is how people judge you. And there are certain words and phrases you should avoid because they’re overused and most often meaningless. Here are a few examples:

  • Extensive experience
  • Motivated
  • Dynamic
  • Team player
  • Problem solver
  • Innovative
  • Results oriented
  • Proven track record
  • Fast paced
  • Entrepreneurial

These days 90% of recruiters check LinkedIn. Therefore it makes good sense for you to improve as best as possible the information on your LinkedIn page. Here are a few simple ideas:

  • Increase the number of recommendations.
  • Ask questions and provide answers.
  • Update your status periodically.
  • Inform your connections about projects you’re working on.
  • Connect with your Twitter account.
  • Share links to articles of interest.
  • Import e-mail addresses from Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, and Outlook.
  • Connect with ex-colleagues: people on LinkedIn from companies you worked with before.
  • Connect with people you met in person via networking events and whose business cards you collected.

As you can see, branding yourself is of utmost importance. Otherwise, you stay hidden from those you really want to see you.

Is Your Elevator Pitch Working?

Photo credit to Ambro

Photo credit to Ambro

I frequent job search networking groups where people stand up and recite what’s called the elevator pitch. Ideally, people are supposed to be able to concisely sum up unique professional aspects about themselves in a way that intrigues and excites listeners so that the listeners will want to connect later—for mutual benefit—with the one giving the pitch. Yet most people fail to achieve that objective. It’s too bad, because the elevator pitch is the single most important part of group networking. If you’re unsuccessful and simply sound like each of the other fifty people in the room, you miss the opportunity to brand yourself.

Most people at such job search networking meetings disappoint for a number of reasons. First, they announce their first and last names way too quickly and way too softly—to the point that the name is not audible by those sitting at a bit of distance from them in the room. Second, the overall gist of most people’s pitches involves praising themselves by talking about how great they are at what they do and how much they saved their companies. Frankly, probably no one in the audience cares about those self-promoting sound bites. Most of the people in the room look at you and pretend to be listening, but their minds are elsewhere. If they haven’t had their turn yet, then they’re most likely preoccupied with reciting in their own mind what they’re going to say when their turn comes. And if they’ve already given their pitch, everybody else is boring them.

A successful elevator pitch is much more than words and facts. It’s supposed to inspire the listener to action, but in order to achieve that, your delivery must express authenticity, and it has to involve your body, your voice, and the content of your pitch. You are onstage. People want you to be successful and not to disappoint. Your attire matters too, because attire is part of your overall image. If you look like you just finished mowing the lawn minutes before delivering your pitch, you’ll probably be memorable, but not in a way that’s positive. Project your voice so that everyone can hear you. Make sure there’s congruence between your body language and the words you say. Show passion and excitement that will radiate through the audience. And most important of all, offer your assistance to others. That’s what will attract the audience.

I’ve seen many people fail with their elevator pitch because it was evident that they were winging it. They had not prepared for it, which completely eroded their confidence. A first impression happens only once: at first! Listeners are picking up on this instantly. It takes only seconds to set the stage for a great elevator pitch or to ruin one.

Craft your elevator pitch very carefully. Run it by people who have a flair for marketing.

Adjust it till it seems comfortable for delivery in front of a large audience. Practice it several times till it feels natural. Then improve on it to make it even better. It needs to sound confident and natural. Make it short, because in this case, less is more. Don’t expect at the end that someone’s going to offer you a job; that would be highly unrealistic. The purpose of the elevator pitch is to establish relationships with new people. So it’s all about relationship building, because relationships are the sources for 60 to 80 percent of job offers.