Posted: February 16, 2013 Filed under: Career Management (General), Job Search, LinkedIn | Tags: confidential job search, job search tool, job seeker, job-searching, LinkedIn, LinkedIn profile, outstanding accomplishment, personal brand, potential employers
Because I have frequently advocated using LinkedIn as part of your job search planning, you might be surprised at the heading of this post. After all, a robust online presence is essential to being found by potential employers, and LinkedIn is recognized as a key element of building and maintaining that robust presence. Right? Certainly, but that is not the whole story. LinkedIn does–or should–help you build and communicate your brand to employers; however, it also can–and often should–reflect the corporate brand of the companies you have worked for. So what possibilities does that open up?
Personal vs Corporate Brand on LinkedIn
One of my esteemed colleagues, Deb Dib, recently wrote an item in the Reach Branding newsletter (published by branding guru William Arruda) that brought out strongly what the relationship can be between your personal brand and your employer’s brand. In the short article, titled “Ditch. Dare. Do! for YOU,” she firmly maintains that “when you build your brand you are building your company. Your brand reinforces and enhances corporate brand attributes; it helps you make a mark on your organization, augment your company’s image and reputation, and increase your visibility and presence with all stakeholders (inside and outside the walls of your organization). In fact, if you’re not building your brand, you’re not doing your job!”
What does this mean to you and how you represent yourself on LinkedIn? If you’re conducting a highly confidential job search, you might focus on maintaining a more or less neutral tone in communicating your value to prospective employers, to avoid sending an overt message that says, “Hey, I’m job searching here, Mr. Current Employer.”
At the same time, you do want to get that message across somehow and don’t want to be so subtle about it that your target market doesn’t catch the message. One way to help do that is to match your personal value with what you have enabled your current employer to achieve through your contributions, in terms of presenting the company’s value and successes strongly to its target markets.
Here’s a quick example–something you might put under the brief introduction to your current position in the Experience section of your LinkedIn profile: “Planned and executed launch of new energy-saving product that enabled ABC Company to break into a competitive market and quickly increase its market share from 0% to 25%.”
You’ve given a nod to your company’s market success while also giving yourself credit for an outstanding accomplishment. Of course, you could do more than that. You could include some wording in the Summary section of your profile that references the company you currently work for and puts it in a nicely positive light. That might be of interest to people who are searching for companies that do what your employer does and does well.
The only important point to remember in that case is that you will need to change that section when you change employers, so it reflects your new employer and not the former one.
LinkedIn As an Ongoing Job Search Tool
Having said the above, I want to emphasize that LinkedIn’s value as an ongoing job search tool remains strong today, despite the many changes that have been initiated in recent months. It’s important that nearly every job seeker (active at the moment or not) makes sure he or she is well represented on LinkedIn. Your perceived value to employers must form a key element of that representation.
If you don’t already have a compelling, well-organized LinkedIn profile, you really should be giving serious attention to it. Whether you take care of it yourself, have a friend or colleague do it, or hire someone else to do it for you, you owe it to yourself to make it happen.
Posted: January 10, 2013 Filed under: Job Search, LinkedIn | Tags: job search mode, job search tip, LinkedIn, network thoughtfully
Sometimes people just do not understand what networking is about–or not about, as the case might be. If you abuse the process, you will probably pay the penalty and not reap the rewards you can gain from thoughtful networking…that is, networking that respects the rights and time of others. A post I read recently on Tim Mushey’s blog (Sell-Lead-Succeed) has some very pertinent points to make about this concept.
Un-Thoughtful Networking on LinkedIn
Tim had a frustrating and unpleasant experience with someone who connected with him on LinkedIn and then stepped far over the line into inappropriate territory to take advantage of that connection. Here’s just a little of what Tim had to say about the situation in his blog:
“Unfortunately LinkedIn does not have a ‘disconnect’ button, where you can ‘relieve yourself of the burden’ of networking with somebody who just does not get it! You can remove a connection, but it takes some work….Would you try to sell somebody your products and services from the moment that you met them in person? I would hope not! So why should it be ok online?
“Network ‘virtually’ like you would ‘personally.’ Show up, be responsive and care about your connections. The last thing you want is for people to…’disconnect’ with you soon after accepting your requests.”
How to Network Thoughtfully in Job Search Mode
First, do your homework! Determine whether there’s the potential for a mutually beneficial relationship before you invite someone to connect on LinkedIn (or Twitter or….). If you’re a big-time network builder (LION, on LinkedIn, for example), you might not stop with this criterion, but I think it’s a good one to begin with. In other words: Is there at least the potential for you to give as well as get at some point? If not, why should that person want to connect–and stay connected–with you?
Second, understand that “remoteness” (electronic rather than in-person contact) does not excuse pushiness, self-centered and relentless pursuit, or just general bad manners. No one deserves to be disrespected like that, remotely or otherwise. We used to have a sign in the break room at a company where I worked that read: “Your mother doesn’t work here. Clean up after yourself.”
The implication was, of course, that you were expected to take care of things appropriately and not put the burden of that onto someone who wasn’t responsible for your behavior. You should, in fact, behave as if your mother were looking over your shoulder and saying, “Oh, you shouldn’t do that–THIS is what you should do”!
Third, express appreciation for any help, ideas, etc., that your new connection shares with you. We all like to be valued when we make an effort to contribute something. Even if you can’t use a suggestion now, for instance, you can say “thank you very much” and file it under maybe-I-can-use-this-later.
Posted: December 8, 2012 Filed under: Career Management (General), High-Tech Tools, Job Search, LinkedIn | Tags: job search campaign, job search tools, job seekers, job-searching, LinkedIn, online networking, online presence, recruiting methods, technology
It makes good sense to keep an eye out for new job search tools that could help you manage your job search–even your ongoing career–more effectively. In other words, tools that save you time, effort, frustration, and so on. We live in a technology age, so it stands to reason technology in one form or another should offer you very useful tools for your job search, right? Maybe…maybe not.
Job Search Tools that Fail to Fulfill Potential
Numerous companies have come up with and/or promoted the use of certain services as having an exciting role in job searching–whether to employers who will pay to use them to source candidates or to job seekers who hope the services will give them a leg-up on the competition. However, as you might expect if you think seriously about it, the likelihood that all of them or even most of them will actually prove valuable to many job seekers is not guaranteed great. What’s sad is, if you put too much faith in these and spend a lot of time and energy trying to use them to jump-start your job search, you might not only be disappointed at the results (or lack thereof) but also have cost yourself valuable time you could have spent more productively.
I just read a “roundup” item on ERE.net by John Zappe and Todd Raphael, called “Not Just a Spanking but a Hard Spanking,” that references a post on Talent HQ by Jason Buss, titled “The Top 7 Recruit Fails of 2012.” Zappe and Raphael questioned a couple of Buss’s choices for failed recruiting methods, but presumably not the others. Here’s the list, in brief, with the worst “failure” in #1 position:
- Talent Communities
- Social Recruiting
- Taleo Acquisition
- Mobile Recruiting
- Recruiting with Pinterest
Of course, this was put together from the perspective of employers/recruiters, but it’s one of those topics that should still interest you as a job seeker or potential job seeker. The more you know about what’s working for employers and what’s not, the better armed you are to conduct a well-thought-out job search campaign.
What is a Worthwhile Job Search Tool?
If you’re looking for tools that will do most of the work for you in a job search, you’re probably wasting time. I have yet to see any of the promoted tools ranked high enough to do that. Any that provide verifiable benefits seem to expect you to do some actual work yourself! If the tools and techniques you’ve been using recently aren’t producing good results, maybe it’s time to reexamine what you’re using and check out others that you haven’t gotten to yet. Just don’t jump on the bandwagon and ride it happily along without evaluating the time you spend on the tool against the payoff you receive from it.
Researching companies, making a case for your value even where there are no advertised openings, becoming visibly active in your field/industry, establishing a strong and professional online presence…these are the kinds of tools that so far have been widely acknowledged as a worthwhile investment of your time and energy.
So What About LinkedIn?
While I have some concerns about the course LinkedIn seems to be taking lately (I’m still not a fan of the new “Endorsements” provision, for example), I still believe it’s a potentially valuable online networking and job search tool, if you use it wisely. For example, establish some real relationships with key people in your LinkedIn network, rather than just making it a numbers game. (“I have 500 connections.” “Well, I can beat your 500–I have 1,000!”) I don’t believe LinkedIn is going away any time soon, which I do think is a good thing. The trick will be to find out how to make it work well for you.
Posted: November 29, 2012 Filed under: Job Search | Tags: job possibilities, job search, job-searching, LinkedIn, performance reviews, updated resume
I am not necessarily recommending that you start your job search planning by literally cleaning your house, but the combination of the two activities is not such an odd couple as you might think at first. Whether you are the kind of person who finds housecleaning (or cleaning in general) therapeutic–I am not!–you could find it useful to consider some of the key aspects of housecleaning and how those might translate to an effective job search. Bear with me for a few moments–there really is a method to my madness.
What Job Searching and Housecleaning Have in Common
Job searching and housecleaning actually have several aspects in common. Here are just a few:
- You will find it difficult, if not impossible, to do a good job of housecleaning with the least amount of effort required to achieve that if you start without a clear, achievable goal in mind. And, no, a spotlessly clean house that will stay in great shape for a long time is not that goal.
By the same token, landing the job of a lifetime that you will love–and keep–forever is most likely not a realistic goal for your job search. Doesn’t mean the stars couldn’t miraculously align and drop it in your lap; just don’t pin all your hopes on that! Set a goal you are willing to work for.
- While spring cleaning has long been an accepted concept for one’s home, my preference is for end-of-the-year cleaning and organizing. Even if the Christmas holidays tend to be frantic where you are, there’s usually a breathing space after the holiday and before the new year festivities begin.
That short break can be a good time to take stock of what most needs to be done and the steps required to make it happen by the first of the year. This is true both for your living space and for your job search. Take advantage of the opportunity.
- Having the right tool for the job is essential. For example, you can waste a lot of time and not accomplish much if you try to clean the floors with a toothbrush and a glass of water!
In the case of your job search, the tool could be something as basic as a good working computer with the capability to search for job possibilities, connect with key people on LinkedIn, research companies and places to live where you want to work, and more. It might also, of course, be something even more essential, such as making sure you have access to your critical documents (performance reviews, your updated resume, etc.) and don’t have them out of reach–on your computer at work (your resume should never be there anyway).
- Reaching perfection is probably unattainable; keeping it in the unlikely event that you can reach it is even farther out of reach. The house won’t stay clean on its own, for one thing. However, if you work consistently on minimizing the buildup of clutter and establishing some kind of routine, keeping it clean becomes easier.
In your job search, this translates into steps such as organizing the materials and the work space you can dedicate to conducting the search, tracking your “to do” list so you stay on top of critical actions, and treating the job search as a job in itself–that is, with a firm commitment to persevering until you reach your goal.
Job Search and Housecleaning–A Word of Caution
Resist the temptation to clean house as a way to avoid focusing on your job search. Some people would rather clean house–or even go to the dentist–than work on their job search essentials. If you’re inclined to be one of those, remind yourself that a clean house won’t pay its own mortgage!
Posted: October 17, 2012 Filed under: Career Management (General), Job Search, LinkedIn | Tags: activity notification, career management tool, career strategy, confidential job search, job search, LinkedIn, LinkedIn profile, skills "endorsement"
I make no secret of the fact that I consider LinkedIn a valuable job search and career management tool. I recommend it strongly to my clients for that reason. However, as with most things, I know there are caveats regarding how and when LinkedIn is used–in other words, how you manage your participation as part of your overall plan. So here are just a few key points to consider when integrating LinkedIn into your career-related activities.
Caveat #1: Confidentiality is a Challenge
As I’ve mentioned before, if you’re conducting a confidential job search and decide it’s time to update or revamp your LinkedIn profile accordingly, you need to be aware that unless you turn off your activity notification feature first, everyone in your network will receive notice that you’ve just updated your profile. Assuming you’d rather not overtly bring that fact to the attention of your employer (including the colleagues you work directly with, as well as your boss), that notification is probably not a good thing. Remember, you can always turn the notification feature back on after you’ve posted your updated profile.
Caveat #2: LinkedIn Keeps Changing Things
I don’t know how often LinkedIn changes how various features work or makes other changes you might want to know about, but I do know it happens–and you won’t necessarily know unless you review your account and related information regularly. One of my colleagues recently posted on an e-list that when she was putting in a client’s new profile information–specifically, populating or repopulating/editing an employment section–there was a check box that had to be UN-clicked to prevent the client’s connections from being notified about the update, even though his activity notification feature had been turned off! She thought it might not be on everyone’s profile–maybe only on the latest/present employment section. However, it does raise a red flag for any LinkedIn user engaged in a confidential job search.
Caveat #3: New Skills “Endorsement” a Time-Suck?
In my professional groups, LinkedIn’s new skills “endorsement” feature is a controversial topic. Many people are viewing it as a time-suck feature with little or no long-term value, while others say the feature is in the early phase of its existence and it’s too soon to decide one way or the other. So far, I haven’t run across anyone who says it’s a great idea. Apparently, its primary purpose is to help recruiters search for people with skills they need, maybe with added value because others have “endorsed” the individual as possessing those skills. However, the endorsement can be done with a knee-jerk click of your mouse, and I’m not sure how much that says about the thought behind the endorsement or the value of it.
Your Needs Determine How to Use LinkedIn
You can’t just put LinkedIn on autopilot and let it run without paying attention. That doesn’t mean you have to go on 5 times a day to see what might have changed, what new action you need to take, etc. It simply means you must evaluate the specific needs of your job search and career management and then make your LinkedIn participation a thoughtful part of that picture.
Posted: August 13, 2012 Filed under: Career Management (General), Interviewing, Job Search, LinkedIn | Tags: company research, job interviews, job search, LinkedIn
Recently the presenter of a teleseminar I was participating in made a comment that blew my mind. She mentioned an experience where only 2 of 10 candidates for 2 job openings actually knew what the company did! In other words, 8 candidates had not bothered to do basic research about the company before they went into the interview. Can we say, “waste of time”? And not just the time of those candidates but, even more important, the time of the company employees interviewing them.
I would be willing to bet that situation left a terrible impression with the interviewers, and it’s not the kind of impression you want to leave when you’re conducting a job search–whether or not we have a difficult job market (which we do). If you or someone you know is tempted to avoid the research stage, my advice is: “Don’t do it!” Aside from a genuine personal emergency, the only reason for skipping company research in your job search is, I’m sorry to say, laziness.
Where to Do Company Research for Your Job Search
You have numerous resources available to you both online and offline. It makes good sense to split your time and effort between the two, although not necessarily 50-50. Below are a few suggestions to consider; however, don’t feel you should limit yourself to those.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn offers more than one way to research companies and the people who work there or used to work there. For example: At the top of the screen, click on the “More” button and then on “Skills and Expertise.” Enter a skill you have that’s key to the work you do, then tell it to search for that term. When I entered “Interview Preparation,” the page that came up included 8 Interview Preparation Professionals (3 of whom I know personally); 4 Interview Preparation LinkedIn groups; Related Companies (those that use or provide such skills to others); and Related Locations. If I were interested, I could click on one of the “Related Companies” and see what it is/does.
- Manta: This site is geared toward small businesses. It lets you search by top industries, US companies and worldwide. Although you can’t get direct information about large companies, you can, for instance, put in “Cisco Systems” and do a search, which brings up a list of companies that sell and/or install Cisco products.
- Corporate Information: If you have a particular company you want information on (especially financial information) and don’t mind spending $59, you can order a report from Wright Investors’ Services. Other sites that also charge access fees can be much more expensive, such as Hoovers, and they generally aren’t affordable for an individual.
- Universities and colleges: Sometimes educational institutions will have library reference materials that are available not only to students but to alumni. If you’re a graduate of a particular institution, check to see whether it has such resources and will allow you to use them.
- Local business newspapers: The Business Journal company publishes different versions for numerous geographic locations, and it has good information on companies–what they’re doing, who’s being promoted or has left a company, and so on. For example, you can subscribe to the electronic version or both electronic and print versions of the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal. You can also subscribe to their annual Book of Lists, which has information on hundreds of companies in numerous business categories.
- Chambers of Commerce: In some Chambers, members will be primarily small businesses rather than large companies, but not always. Regardless, they can sometimes be a good source of information regarding businesses located in their geographical area, whether or not those companies are Chamber members.
Using Company Research to Prepare for Job Interviews
As I mentioned at the beginning, it’s hard to believe anyone would go into an interview without researching the company. In fact, I strongly recommend that clients do that before they submit their resume. Whether online or offline, it’s rare, if ever, that you won’t find at least some information to give you a few insights into what the company does–its products or services, its target customers, and so on. Use that information to help you figure out how you could fit in and become a valuable contributor. Then keep that in mind as you prepare for the interview.
Posted: August 7, 2012 Filed under: Career Management (General), Job Search | Tags: career opportunities, executive search, executive search professionals, LinkedIn, potential candidates, recruiter search, recruiters, thought leaders
First, I need to clarify something. You do realize that recruiters (headhunters) do not beat the bushes to find you a job, right? Okay, but we also know that recruiters do look for candidates to fill in-house positions or to submit to client companies for openings at those companies. So how might those recruiters find you?
Where do recruiters look for candidates?
It depends. For example, some executive search firms have specialists who focus on sourcing high-level candidates in specific areas (functional expertise, geographic location, industry, etc.). Those specialists probably have favorite places to look to find candidates or to find out more about candidates they’ve already identified. Much of recruiter searching undoubtedly takes placing using online resources, such as LinkedIn.
The smart move is to make yourself appropriately visible online, particularly in relation to places where recruiters might expect to find someone like you. As an example, if you’re a CFO, you should probably be actively involved in online activities, groups, etc., that focus on CFO-type issues and resources. Those might include places such as Financial Executives International (FEI), CFO.com, and the CFO Roundtable–and, of course, LinkedIn’s CFO Network.
How can you increase your visibility to recruiters?
Besides the suggestions already mentioned–or as an expansion of those–you might want to consider membership-based resources such as Execunet and BlueSteps. Execunet offers membership options ranging from one month at $39 to one year at $399. BlueSteps is owned by the Association of Executive Search Consultants, who have access to the resumes that BlueSteps members upload to the website. Its one-time membership fee is about $330; that includes the recruiter search visibility that might make it a worthwhile investment. Access to BlueSteps’ Premium services–including information about career opportunities–requires an annual investment, which I believe is about $89.
A recent BlueSteps blog post involving an interview with a UK-based recruiter provides some insights on how search professionals find potential candidates on the BlueSteps website. Titled “How Do Search Professionals Find You in BlueSteps? Oxana Brookes on How it Works,” it mentions that “a candidate’s CV needs to be crisp, not too long, well-structured and contain basic data points (the size of business in terms of turnover, number of people, etc.) to help us judge whether the candidate falls into the right category….We are more likely to approach candidates who are seen as thought leaders in their sector, so speaking at industrial [industry] events, publishing written work and gaining leadership positions with corresponding industrial bodies will be a good move to becoming visible.”
Of course, that’s only one recruiter’s take on the situation, but it might be worth considering if you’re hoping to work with (through) recruiters at some point.
What if I’m not a senior manager or executive?
In that case, executive search professionals won’t be looking for you, but others could be. The points mentioned above might still be relevant, in one way or another.
Posted: July 3, 2012 Filed under: Career Management (General), LinkedIn | Tags: career management, career management strategy, LinkedIn, LinkedIn connections, LinkedIn strategy, network
Unless you’re a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) whose goal is to collect many thousands of connections in your network, you probably don’t spend a huge amount of time trying to increase your network. That’s either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on whom you ask. As a disclaimer, I should mention that I’m a conservative LinkedIn member. I currently have somewhere between 300 and 400 connections in my network–I don’t keep constant tabs on the number, so that’s all I can say without looking it up–and it has taken me a few years to reach that point.
Questionable LinkedIn Advice on Adding Connections
I’ve been troubled at the switch LinkedIn has made from advising you to add only people you know personally or have a strong link to (such as a 2nd-level connection through someone you know well, who has requested an introduction from that 1st-level connection). Now they say, “Why might connecting with _______ be a good idea? __________’s connections could be useful to you.” My concern about this is reflected in an article I just read on ERE.net, “How having as Many LinkedIn Connections as Possible Will Increase Your Revenues by 42%,” by Carol Schultz.
Schultz comments that she appreciates the value of creating future opportunities; however, “I just believe that connecting with total strangers is not the best strategy for creating those future opportunities.” She also says that “although I connect with people I know, others don’t….So what good do they do to have them in your network?” Good point! I’m definitely not comfortable recommending someone I don’t know, so if you are asked to do that by someone, how comfortable are you going to be with responding to that request? Conversely, if you have a request to make, is it going to feel awkward, be unproductive, etc., to do that to someone you have no real connection with?
Career Management LinkedIn Strategy
As Schultz also indicates in her article, you need to have a genuine LinkedIn strategy, so you’re not “just slinging spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks”! You need to determine the following, for starters:
- Why you’re on (or considering joining) LinkedIn
- What you hope or expect to gain from being there–similar to the item above
- Whether you have–or can create–a profile that’s professionally sound and communicates strong value
- If sheer numbers are your focus, maybe Facebook is a better place for you to be
LinkedIn can be and has been a powerful career management tool; however, it’s not magic. You must do a lot more than wave a wand in the air, mumble incantations or amass thousands of LinkedIn connections to obtain useful results from it. Career management really doesn’t offer much, if anything, in the way of easy shortcuts; an effective LinkedIn network isn’t one of them.