Posts Tagged ‘how to look for a job’

Fresh Start – Books Worth Looking At For Your Job Search

September 7th, 2011

(Part II of my September Fresh Start series)

September marks the start of a new reading season for me. While my summer reading list typically includes flights of fancy and fiction, I find myself drawn to business, strategy and how-to books by the time autumn rolls around, books that will teach me something I didn’t know, challenge my assumptions, and give me new ideas for my business.

I also like to add to my library of resources that I can recommend to my clients – books that offer genuine value and time-tested ideas on managing an effective job search.  Additions to my recommended reading list this year include:

Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies

(Joshua Waldman, MBA) – $19.99 US / $23.99 Canadian

Fresh off the presses, Joshua presents a wealth of tips, how-to’s, and things-to-think-about for managing the online portion of your job search and professional profile.  There’s a ton of information packed into an easy-to-browse  format, and as with most books in the Dummies series, it is an all-you-can-eat buffet rather than a seven course meal. Readers will appreciate being able to pick and choose which sections are most relevant for them, and quickly apply the techniques and strategies to their job search.

The book covers everything from defining your personal brand (what you want to be known and respected for professionally), creating a blog, and using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, to planning and executing a proactive social media job hunt.  I particularly liked the Chapter on Setting Yourself Up for a Successful Job Search, with tips on using online tools such as JobKatch, Becomed, JibberJobber and CareerShift.  It can take jobseekers weeks to figure out a productive “routine”, and these tools can fast track that learning process so that you can be immediately productive in your search and stay focused and organized.

Job Search Magic

(Susan Britton Whitcomb) – $18.95 US / $22.50 Canadian

Published in 2006, Susan’s book is one of the most comprehensive guides I’ve come across on planning, executing and managing the entire job search cycle – in fact it is required reading for the Certified Job Search Strategist accreditation program.  At 500+ pages, with each chapter building on information from previous sections, skipping around isn’t recommended, but the book lays out all the building blocks that a jobseeker will need, in a logical sequence that takes the guess work out of planning a job search and career marketing campaign.

There are chapters on figuring out the right target for your job search, getting (and more challenging – maintaining) the right mind set, writing great keyword copy, managing active and passive job search streams, researching companies using online and offline resources, mastering assessments tests, handling interviews, negotiating salaries, and getting off to a good start in your new position.  With worksheets, quizzes and checklists for each section, this is a true do-it-yourself guide for somebody who is ready to get serious about their job search.

Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0

(Jay Conrad Levinson, David E. Perry) $21.95 US / $25.95 Canadian

This isn’t really a new addition to my recommended reading list – I’ve been suggesting it to my clients for several years – but since there is a new edition I’m including it. The rebel of the job search guides, as you would expect from its name this book offers unconventional advice for standing out from the crowd and tapping into the hidden job market.

I first came across the second edition when I was launching Resume Confidential, and it was love at first read. With ideas on how to network for greatest impact, circumvent the gatekeepers, and write extreme resumes that get noticed, it was just the book I was looking for to add immediate value for my clients and break through the body of “presumed wisdom” that has become outdated and ineffective in today’s job market.  I am now on my fourth copy of the book (I keep lending and losing it), and continue to incorporate David and Jay’s ideas into my practice – including the networking resume, modeled on the Extreme Resume.

With the most recent edition, published this spring, the authors add social media advice to an arsenal of nearly 1000 tips and tricks, all of them tested and validated in some of the most nobody-is-hiring-right-now job markets in North America.   Be warned, the ideas are not for the faint of heart, and you can expect to get push back from HR professionals and recruiters who like to keep the hiring process traditional and take control out of the candidate’s hands. But if you are ready to shake up your thinking about what a job search is supposed to look like, then this is the book for you.

How about you? What great career books and resources have you found this year?

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Jobseekers, be Interview-Ready: Company Research 101

May 26th, 2011

Interview Calendar

A question was posted on LinkedIn recently asking hiring managers what their pet peeves were when it comes to interviewing job candidates. Over and over again, respondents indicated that their pet peeve is candidates who come to the interview and don’t know anything about the company.

Jobseekers, there is no excuse.  When you go into the interview, you should know the company’s products, its mission, its history, its industry, its competitors, its strategic goals, and any big projects/products/announcements that have made it in the news.

“But I Don’t Know How To Research a Company!” you say? Here’s how:

  1. Start with the company’s website. Look for an “About Us“,  “News & Press“, “Our Team” sections.  Look for an “Our Services” or“Our Clients” section.  Basically, read everything you possibly can on the company website.
  2. Look at what the company says about itself on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to check out new hire listings.
  3. Go back to the team list you found in step one. Now search each of these names in LinkedIn. How long have they been in the position? Where were they before that? Do they mention any projects they’ve been involved in? What groups do they belong to? Have they asked or answered any questions in LinkedIn Q&A? Have they contributed to any group discussions? Do they have a blog?
  4. Google the company name and click through to some of the links. This is a scavenger hunt, of sorts. You won’t know what’s good until you find it. Skip through to the third, fifth, seventh and tenth pages. Look for articles that mention the company in terms of industry trends and developments, new products, customer service experiences. If you have more time, read more articles.
  5. Go back to the google search page, and toggle on the NEWS tab. Search the company again. Look for press releases, industry analyses, financial analyst reports, controversies, praise, mentions by journalists. Often you’ll find more illuminating information from the financial and industry analysts  who talk about an annual report than you will from the report itself.
  6. Reset the time parameters, and look for news articles about the company from a year ago, two years ago, five years ago.
  7. Search the company name together with “merger” or “acquisition”. Has the company acquired other companies or been acquired? Is there any news about how smoothly (or not so smoothly) this went?
  8. Search the company name together with the title of your target position. You may be able to find out who the incumbent was before you, some of the projects they were involved in, any PR (negative or positive) that they attracted.
  9. Do it again, using the title of the person you will be reporting to. Is your soon-to-be-supervisor new in the position, or was there somebody in the position before him/her? How recent was the change? This search should be done both in Google and in LinkedIn.
  10. Search the company name together with the word “convention”, or “trade show”, or “conference”. Look for any presentations, keynote speeches, whitepapers. At a minimum, you will learn which industry associations and events the hiring company deems valuable.
  11. Search the company name together with keywords from the job description. Use one keyword at a time: Research. Marketing. Project Manager. ISP.  This is a great way to find clues to the goals and challenges that you will be facing that are specific to your target position.
  12. Search the company name together with the word “case study”. IT companies love to create case studies of their success stories. Check out what problems these vendors helped your target company to solve. Match this information against press releases announcing a different vendor for the same solution, which is often a clue that a mega-project went bust.
  13. Use www.wefollow.com to search for the company and any of its employees on twitter. Check out their twitter streams. What are they talking about? What are they excited about?
  14. Google “who are COMPANY’s main competitors“. Look for entries from sites such www.finance.yahoo.com, wikinvest.com, www.hoover.com, and www.corporatewatch.com.
  15. Use www.glassdoor.com to research the company culture.

Organize Your Information

The amount of information you will uncover will vary depending on the company’s size and years in business. For smaller firms, you might not get much more than their stated business goal and the names of its founders and executives. That’s fine, that’s more than you knew before. Try other search engines like bingPipl is a great tool for doing a deep search on people’s names. For most mid to large-sized companies, the information will be so voluminous that it will be overwhelming.  Organize your findings by the questions you want answered:

  • What is the company’s product/service and target clientele?
  • Where does the company say it is heading in the next five years? What are its goals, values, mission?
  • Has there been any events recently that confirm or contradict those values, mission, goals?
  • Who are its main competitors? How does the company stack up against these competitors?
  • Has there been a lot of staffing changes recently? Is this because the company is growing, or is it an indication of potential trouble?
  • What are the company’s main challenges? Pain points? Risk exposures?
  • What are the company’s main competitive advantages?

If you want to position yourself as the solution to their problem, think like a marketer. Do your market research. Understand who the company is, what its challenges and pain points are, where they are going, and how you can contribute.  Then, be ready to demonstrate your insights in your interview.

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Fishing in the Swimming Pool and Other Job Search Mistakes

May 19th, 2011

Fishing in the Swimming PoolAn ex-military professional posted a question on LinkedIn: Why do employers on Linkedin say they have a hard time finding good qualify [sic] people to hire/employees? When in the mean time I have a hard time getting hired?

I had a look at his LinkedIn profile and quickly identified some deadly mistakes that were making him invisible to employers.

Mistake #1: Military-Jargon Rich, Keyword Poor

If you want to be found by recruiters (corporate or third party), you have to understand how they think and work. If they think they need a Manager of Corporate Training, then they will use boolean search strings that include “Corporate Training” or “Corporate Trainer”. Education Management Professional won’t show up. If they think they need a Supply Chain Specialist, they will use boolean search strings that includes “supply chain”. Supply Sargent won’t show up. Jobseekers need to review job ads that interest them (and they are qualified for), and then incorporate the keywords in their online profile and resume. Military-to-civilian jobseekers need to translate military vocabulary and acronyms into words that are relevant in the civilian work world.

Mistake #2: Career Story – There’s No “There” There

From the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, I could tell a little bit about where he’d been, but not what he did or whether he was any good at it. Job search is marketing, and marketing is story telling. Jobseekers need to use their resume, their LinkedIn profile, their networking time, their contributions in online discussions,  and their interview answers to tell a compelling story about what they are good at, the kinds of problems they are good at solving, the kinds of situations they are good at managing, the kinds of goals they are good at achieving. And they need to use examples from their career to prove it.

Mistake #3: “I Don’t Know What I Want To Do Next” Syndrome

When I looked at the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, I had no idea what kind of position he was looking for. So even if a recruiter happened to stumble across his profile, there wasn’t enough information to determine whether the candidate was the kind of person the recruiter was looking for. Some jobseekers are afraid to be specific in their career goals, or to name a target position, for fear that they will miss some opportunities. What happens instead is that they miss all opportunities. Jobseekers need to be as specific as they can be about what they are looking for.

Mistake #4: Fishing In The Swimming Pool

If you want to find the right job, then you need to fish where the fish are at, and not stand in a swimming pool and hope that the fish will show up. One of the possible career goals for this candidate may be Early Childhood Educator (hard to tell for sure, because of mistake #3).  There are thousands of positions for which LinkedIn is an ideal place for self-promotion. But for some kinds of positions, LinkedIn (and other social media platforms) are a waste of e-space.  Organizations that hire ECE specialists don’t use LinkedIn for recruitment. The largest ECE-themed group on LinkedIn has only 1500 members worldwide.   Jobseekers need to find the right niche job boards, discussion forums and professionals associations if they want to be found for highly specialized positions, and LinkedIn may not be it.

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Meet Karen Siwak

An award-winning Certified Résumé Strategist, Karen has crafted top calibre career transition packages for thousands of clients. Her specialty is helping people identify and articulate their unique brands and value propositions, and she is passionate about empowering clients with the tools, strategies and confidence to take control of their career search. Read more...

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