Monday, September 30, 2013

Competency #19: I Can Develop a Job Referral Network

Somehow, nearly everyone’s afraid of the word “network” these days.  Even extroverts morph into introverts when presented with the suggestion of networking as a job referral strategy. Yikes!  What’s a job seeker to do?

1. First of all, it’s important for you to understand the benefits of a referral in your job search.  The benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.

2. Secondly, understand yourself and your personality.  Do you cringe at the thought of networking?  Do you feel anxious, afraid, or merely uncomfortable with the thought of developing a job referral network?  Do you engage in negative self-talk? (“she won’t remember me”, “he would never call me back”, I am terrible at small talk”, “I’d be embarrassed if he said no”) Realistically gauge your self-image.  Are you worthy of some great contacts? Of course you are!

3 Assess your motivation level.  Driven job seekers will stop at nothing.  Where do you stand?  What are you willing to do? What do you have to lose?  One small step starts the ball rolling.

4. Figure out a process that fits who you are, and what you are willing to accomplish.  One method that seems to work well with all personality types is developing warm contacts.  You probably understand what  “cold” contacts are- people you don’t know. Warm contacts describe people you already know. These warm contacts account for more than 70% of all job leads.  (Leads developed from direct contact with employers accounts of the other 30%).
Step 1: List contact groups of people you know. Examples include friends, relatives, neighbors, former co-workers, former employers, alumni lists, LinkedIn contacts, doctors, teachers, people you play sports with, to name a few.

Step 2: Create your warm contact list.  Find some quiet time to do this, and brainstorm with someone close to you for additional ideas, if necessary.  Remember that you know far more people than you might realize!

Step 3: Create lists of specific contacts – names and ways to contact them.

Step 4: Practice the three critical questions to get good referrals:
            Do you know of anyone who might have an opening for a person with my skills? 
If no, then
Do you know of anyone who might know of someone who would? 
If still no, then
Do you know someone who knows lots of people?

Many people need only their warm contact list to develop a network that ultimately results in a job offer. Remember that the networking idea is a pretty simple one: Use one person you know as a source to introduce you to one or (preferably two) people you don’t know. These referrals will give you a warm reception, (and become a warm contact) since you have a personal connection with them through your primary warm contact.

You’ll never know the power of networking unless you try.  You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Competency #18: I Can Identify and Target Employers I Would Like to Interview

Competency #18:  I Can Identify and Target Employers I Would Like to Interview

Many of you don’t think of yourself as particularly empowered during the job hunting process, but you are. This competency addresses an important aspect of managing your career: information-gathering- identifying and targeting employers with the purpose of finding out more about their organizations. 

This skill is NOT merely perusing job boards.  It is also not finding jobs per se, and then applying for them.  Of course, those skills are surely important, but these methods alone will rarely score you a phone call, interview, or offer.

Would you like to know names of companies that sound interesting, employ people with your skills, in your preferred geographical area, with adequate compensation, and a culture where’ll you’ll be able to shine?  Of course you do.

The recent article, Three Ways for Job Seekers to Gain Inside Company Information  provides extremely useful information regarding this topic, and also discusses what inside information can help job seekers the most.

Additionally, don’t forget to check out GlassDoor – it provides company salaries, reviews, interview questions, and more - all posted anonymously by employees and job seekers.

Of course, as I’ve said many times in previous blogs, the prerequisite is (always) knowing what you are looking for.  What are the “keywords” of your career path- the jargon people use in your industry or occupational area?  Most searches are based on your inputting these words, so they can sort through the mountains of information to deliver what you’re looking for. For help with this, spend some time researching specifics of your career area, or one you’re working towards on America’s Career InfoNet, the “mother of all occupational databases.”

Friday, September 13, 2013

Competency #17: I Can List My Major Accomplishments in Action Terms

These days, there isn’t a single employer who wants to know what your job duties are/were (listed in the job description). This competency requires that you think about your work experiences in terms of what you did, how well you did it, and the benefits to potential employers.  

Yet, when most of us start a new job, we often don’t think about our work in terms of accomplishments. Do any of us start the first day thinking “what can I accomplish?”  No, we orient ourselves to what we are hired to do.  Sadly, most of us keep that mindset well after we’ve mastered the position. However, a shift in mindset from duties to results is a critical competency in managing your career.

The first step is to document verbs that describe what you do: teach, delegate, direct, manage, trade, write, consult, design- and the list goes on and on.  Google “action verbs”, and you’ll get more than you need.  These words create a mental vision of you doing. Employers want to picture your activity.

Once you’ve determined your action verbs, the second step is to think about the quantifiable accomplishments, achievement, or results from each position you’ve had.  Also collect and document how many, how much, how often and other hard data. My recent client eagerly told me what she “does” (although she does not have this written down), but never stopped to think about, let alone document, her achievements, outcomes, and benefits of the work she does so brilliantly, and I daresay, magically.  (Sadly, she has never thought about her practice in this way, and just wants someone else to do this thinking for her. Thinking about, and documenting outcomes are essential, even for those of us in the “helping professions”).

I fully recognize that it’s a bit of a leap to think of position(s) in accomplishment terms, so check out the following questions to assist you:
(If these do not directly apply to you, I hope you get the point)

  • What problems did you identify and solve?
  • What new program, product, idea, or system did you introduce? Results?
  • How did you save the company money or time? How much?
  • How did you effectively manage others? Results?
  • What awards, bonuses, or promotions did you receive?
  • What kinds of clients do you serve (for example, professional athletes) and what was the outcome?
  • How much money did you manage? Results?
  • How many events did you coordinate?  Outcomes of each?
  • What kinds of contracts were awarded? 

From my experience, once your mindset shifts from duties to results, you’ll start to think differently and (hopefully) start documenting your results. This simple shift will position you for your next job and, as a bonus, greatly boost your confidence.