Posts Tagged ‘Karen Siwak’

Have Executive Experience – Will Travel: The Interim Executive Phenomenon

December 19th, 2012

Interim management – bringing in heavyweight executives to manage an organization during a period of crisis or transition – is a staffing strategy that began in the Netherlands in the early 80s in response to stringent labour legislation that made it costly to hire and terminate permanent employees. The concept has since been adopted in the UK, Germany, Belgium, and Australia as a strategy for bridging short-term management needs, and is becoming increasingly popular in North America.

I had the chance to talk with Carmen Jeffrey, a Partner with Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions, about how Interim Executive solutions are evolving in North America. Carmen is responsible for Talent Acquisition in Knightsbridge’s Interim Management Division.

 

The Interim Executive Phenomenon

Have Executive Experience - Will Travel

 What Drew You to Specialize In this Field?

I’ve been in recruiting for 15 years, and have personally freelanced for almost 70% of the time, so I’ve always been a big believer in corporate freelance-for-hire. Since my early days in recruiting, I’ve seen an impressive increase in the quality of talent that is available for contract positions, and “contractor” no longer has the stigma that it once had, either for companies or for candidates. Interim management is an extension of that model. With the average tenure of permanent executive placements now being less than five years, it’s a solution that’s right for the times, and it is a substantial growth area for recruiters. 

Why the Growth in Interim Executive Solutions?

Interim management really gained traction in the UK and Europe in 2001 following the dot.com bust, when companies found it too risky to hire people full-time. North American employers started taking notice, especially when the recession hit in 2008. It took time for the business model to evolve, for Interim Management to gain credibility as a viable recruitment option at the senior levels. Demand is growing now as employers become aware of the model, and as more and more high calibre executives begin to promote themselves in the interim management market.

 What is the Typical Profile of an Interim Executive?

In my experience, great interim executives are full of a little more “spit and vinegar” than average. They are adaptable and agile, and have built a management tool kit over a varied career. Typically, they will have worked for five or six organizations over 20 or more years, and have grown professionally in that time. They have seen a lot of different business landscapes and have successfully addressed complexities and challenges such as merges & acquisitions and boom & bust cycles.

Ageism isn’t a factor in the interim market because companies are looking for experience. I would say the average age of interims is 50 to 55 years. They are senior VPs, Directors, CEOs who are looking to reinvent themselves and have a lot to offer. They can hit the ground running and be effective within the first week. A lot of project managers and program managers do well as Interims – they know how to make things happen.

 Is There a Typical Profile for the Employers?

Companies of all sizes, in all industries, are using interim executives, sometimes as a way of avoiding the cost of the golden handshake when they know they only need somebody for a fixed term. There is always a sense of urgency, maybe a project deadline, or an audit. It could be the sudden departure of the incumbent due to illness. Usually, in my experience, they also have a “skeleton” in the closet, some kind of internal pressure that means filling the positioning internally is not an option.

 How is this Different from Using Consultants or Contractors?

When a company hires on contract, the contractor is given less access to certain repositories of information. Contractors can’t attend certain meetings for confidentiality reasons. Consultants are brought in to provide advice, but don’t have decision-making authority. Senior-level Interims, on the other hand, become members of the executive decision-making team. It’s always clear that the Interim Executive has been hired with a mandate to drive change. The average tenure is about 18 months. They don’t have to partake in the politics, and are expected to be objective. They have permission, and the luxury, to be blunt – to be “outside” insiders – so it is often easier for them to execute the change agenda.

 Are There Risks/Downsides?

I haven’t personally seen any failed Interim assignments, but I’ve heard stories of interim hires that didn’t work out. Usually its because the expectations weren’t well defined by the company. Perhaps the company’s vision was “go go”, but they couldn’t accommodate the necessary horsepower, or didn’t have the infrastructure in place to support the vision.

What Does the Business Relationship Look Like?

The Interim Executive workforce is more sophisticated today than it was in the past. Typically they are incorporated individuals for hire, and we strongly recommend this. At Knightsbridge we can put them on our payroll if they aren’t incorporated, but the tax savings are almost 20% if they incorporate.

For the employer, the Interim is a line item on a budget sheet rather than a headcount. Compensation is calculated based on a per diem or annual compensation package that includes the monetary value of salaries, benefits, bonus and vacation time if they were hired full-time. At Knightsbridge we take a hands-on role in helping with these negotiations.

 How Does Interim Executive Recruitment Work?

At Knightsbridge we work on a contingency model and charge a research fee for sourcing the candidate. However it’s not often that we are competing with another recruitment firm to find an interim candidate. We are working with really short time frames – only two to five days to get the shortlist together, with the expectation that the Interim Executive will begin working within ten days. We have a database of over 6000 Interims, a pipeline that we’ve developed over 7 years and continue to feed through our work Executive Transition, Career Transition, Leadership Development and Talent Acquisition. We also go out to professional associations and headhunt net new talent.

If Somebody Wants to Get Into the Interim Exec Business, How Should They Start?

If somebody is interested in interim management as a career path, I strongly recommend that they research the landscape and become really savvy about how other Interims are marketing themselves. Hang out the shingle and advertise yourself as an Interim Executive for Hire. Have a mission statement that identifies the specific things you can do for a company, the kinds of situations you can handle.

Be proactive in getting incorporated. Two years ago Revenue Canada started audited people who were incorporated to make sure that they stated their books accurately, so it is advisable to work with an accountant to set it up.

Write your resume with Interim Executive opportunities as a target. This is no time to try and hide your age, embrace it. The value that you bring to the table is the depth and diversity of experience you have to offer. Showcase your successes with situational management, where you’ve had to roll things out under duress. Highlight executional accomplishments as opposed to day to day management. As you build a portfolio of interim engagements you can add this experience to your marketing material.

There are a growing number of executive search firms that have an Interim Management group, including Knightsbridge, the Osborne Group, Odgers Berndstson, and Atticus Management in Canada; and FTI Consulting, Boyden Interim Management, and Transition Management Consulting, Inc. in the US.

But Interim Executives should be ready to hunt down their own work. At least one day in five should be spent doing calls. Successful Interims are always networking and promoting themselves, and this has a benefit not only for their own career but for the industry as a whole. As more and more interims advertise themselves, employers are becoming increasingly aware of the interim option, and this is driving growth in demand overall.

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Cool Tools for Jobseekers – Self-Assessment

February 22nd, 2012

A little self-awareness can go a long way in helping you get clear on the next best move for your career. There are lots of resources available online to help you with your self-assessment. Some of my favorite free tools include:

ClearFit
A candidate assessment tool that was designed for employers, Clearfit has a module for jobseekers to conduct their own evaluation on how well suited they are for their current position, and what positions might be a better fit for their strengths and skills.

Reach360
“The better you know yourself, the better you grow yourself.” Reach 360 helps you evaluate your professional reputation by soliciting feedback from your network of contacts. Unlike workplace 360′s, Reach allows you to gather insights from all areas of your life – your suppliers, your clients, your colleagues, your friends, people you volunteer with, industry associates. Armed with this information, you can assess how well you are branding and presenting yourself.

Jung Typology Test
Based on the psychology studies of Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers, the typological test analyzes your strengths and temperament, and identifies your preferred ways of connecting, communicating, analyzing, and problem solving. The results are categorized into one of 16 Personality Types, and provide astute insights into what it takes for you to be able to do your best work.

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The New Job Didn’t Work Out. Now What?

February 17th, 2012

It was a whirlwind romance. They wooed you, you wowed them. Fine, you had a couple of misgivings, but you ignored them because this employer liked you. They really, really liked you. And who can afford to turn away an offer in today’s job market, right? You tell all your friends about your great new job. You let your parents/spouse/therapist know they can stop worrying about you. You buy new clothes, new must-have-for-the-new-job accessories.

But within the first couple of days of starting the exciting new stage of your career, your “uh oh” signals kick into high gear. This job isn’t quite what you were imagining it would be.

Maybe the corporate culture has some unhealthy undercurrents. Maybe your new colleagues or staff aren’t welcoming, or the small “p” political atmosphere is toxic. Perhaps the skills you thought you were “good enough” at or could learn on the job, they need you to be exceptional at from day one. Or the training you were promised never materializes. Or the challenges that were described as minor in the interview, turn out to be a huge cesspool of issues that will take more than one person to fix, and there is no corporate willingness to acknowledge this reality.

Whatever the reason, the job is a miss-fit, and you decide to leave, or you get pushed out.

You now face the challenge of putting yourself back into the job search arena.  It can feel overwhelming, and more than a little bit humiliating, to have to start all over again. Before you start recirculating your resume, take some time to take stock. There are valuable lessons in every career miss-fit.

 How to Find the Pony in the Pile of Fertilizer

  • With as much honesty and objectivity as you can muster, inventory what didn’t work, and what did work, in that job. Was the job different than advertised? Did they think that you were different then advertised – were they assuming that you had knowledge and skills that you didn’t have? Was it a culture misfit or a personality misfit?
  • Whatever the reasons are that the position was a miss-fit, own your share of it. Create a list of 10 to 15 “truths” or take-away lessons. Structure them as “I learned” statements. For example, “The position required me to do ABC. I learned that I need to get more training before I take a job that requires  ABC.” “The manager didn’t give me enough direction. I learned that I need to be clear at the outset in asking for direction.” “The position was completely different than advertised. I learned that I need to do more due diligence before I accept an offer.” “The position required me to develop strategy. I learned that I am better playing a tactical role.”
  • For each take-away lesson, create an action plan. What specific steps are you going to take now to help yourself feel more confident and successful if such as situation were to arise again? Try to make the action specific, measurable, and with a deadline. “I will take the Color of Communications workshop within the next three weeks so that I can better understand my communication style and learn how to communicate with people who’s style is different from my own. ” “I will practice asking the right kinds of questions in interviews so that I can better gauge culture fit.” “I will rewrite my resume to focus on my strengths as a tactician, and target my job search to positions that call for strong day-to-day leadership.”
  • Develop a communications plan. You are going to have to explain this misstep, not only to your friends/parents/spouse/therapist, but also to your network of contacts and perhaps to potential employers during job interviews (yes, there will be other interviews). Use the lessons-learned and action plan to craft a message that not only demonstrates that you understand why the job didn’t work out, but that you have the maturity and professionalism to own your share of it.
  • Decide how you will handle this position in your career marketing collateral. Will you feature it front and center in your resume, list it under “additional experience includes”, or exclude it altogether? What about on your LinkedIn profile?

Job Miss-Fits Aren’t Career Ending

There are any number of reasons why a new job turns out to be a bad fit, and it happens more often than you might think. One leadership study found that 64% of new leaders hired from the outside don’t make it past the first year. Another found that 35% of American workers quit within the first six months of taking a new job.

Hiring managers know that failure happens. They won’t judge you on the fail, they’ll judge you on how you handled it. “Weaker candidates are able to analyze failure, but they are more reluctant to acknowledge their role in it. Stronger candidates are able to analyze failure and success – and acknowledge their role in both.”

The good news is that you know you have a resume that gets noticed, and with some fine-tuning you can make sure that it is showcasing you as the perfect solution for the right kind of problem. You also know that you have the skills for managing a job search, even if you were hoping you wouldn’t have to do it quite so soon.  Armed with some new self-awareness and a plan of action, you can get back into the job search arena with confidence that you will be able to find the right-fit job for you.

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FreshTransition – Project Management Software For Your Job Search

January 2nd, 2012

One of the many benefits of networking is the opportunity to find out about new products and services before they become mainstream. In October 2011, I got a personal demonstration of FreshTransition, a software program designed for career services companies to help their clients manage a full-cycle job search.

“Wow” doesn’t begin to describe my reaction.  With its intuitive design based on a thorough understanding of what it takes to plan and executive a Strategic Job Search in today’s job market, this is exactly the tool I have been seeking for my clients.

FreshTransition - project managing your job search just got easier

FreshTransition - project managing your job search just got easier

So I am thrilled to announced that, starting January 2012, a subscription to FreshTransition is included in Resume Confidential’s Strategic Job Search Coaching Programs. With this tool, our coaching clients will be able to set targets and milestones for active and passive streams of their job search, track contacts and company information, get alerts from job boards, organize job applications, resumes, cover letters and calendars, and more. And the analytics that FreshTransition provides will enable Resume Confidential to tweak our one-on-one coaching sessions to address “problem areas” in the search process before they have a chance to derail the strategic job search plan.

Sound terrific? You better believe it. Want to find out more or have a demonstration? Let me know.

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Be Volunteer-Savvy for Your Career

September 19th, 2011

Some of my favorite business entrepreneurs worked pro bono for many months in order to acquire the skills and knowledge they needed to make their next career move.  Others felt deeply committed to give back to the community – locally or globally – in some capacity, or were driven by a passion for a cause. Whether you are motivated by altruism, professional development, or both, volunteerism can be a great tool to boost your value in the job market.

VolunteerA LinkedIn survey found that 41% of professionals considered volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience when evaluating job candidates, and 20% of the hiring managers made a hiring decision based on a candidate’s volunteer work experience.

Drawing on the success stories of my clients, some kinds of volunteer work are more valued by potential employers than than others, particular in terms of demonstrating transferable skills and experience. Some things that you can do to maximize the “market value” of your volunteer efforts when it comes time to find paid work:

  • Choose volunteer opportunities that align with your career objectives, and allow you to develop and showcase your professional skills.
  • Have a clearly defined and documented deliverable (ideally with metrics or evaluation criteria that can be verified), or a specific problem to solve, and know how you are contributing to the big picture goals and mandate of the organization.
  • Look for opportunities to lead a team. As challenging as it can be to build and motivate a paid team, overseeing a group of volunteers can be ten times harder, and many employers know it.
  • Ask your team leader or supervisor if they would be willing to give you a performance review, which can be particularly valuable if you don’t have a lot of professional experience under your belt yet.
  • Cultivate your network. Volunteer organizations bring together people from a wide range of industries and backgrounds, and you will never have a better chance to broaden and diversify your network of first degree contacts.
  • When it comes time to write your resume, describe your contributions using the terms and keywords of your career target – if your goal is to be a project manager for example, speak in terms of project management; if your goal is marketing manager, speak in terms of marketing and marketing communications.

Ready to become a volunteer but not sure where or how? Check out the website of your favorite cause for information on how to volunteer, or visit sites such as http://www.volunteermatch.org/ (USA) or http://www.charityvillage.com/ (Canada) or http://www.do-it.org.uk/ (UK)** to see who may be able to benefit from your passion, expertise, and time.

** Thanks to Paul Williams (@PaulWill1977 on twitter, who works with the UK Stroke Association) for this link.

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“Apply With LinkedIn” App Could be a Game Changer

June 2nd, 2011

Apply with LinkedIn AppGigaOM leaked the news yesterday that LinkedIn is getting ready to launch a plug-in for employers’ websites called Apply With LinkedIn, which will allow job candidates to apply for available positions using their LinkedIn profiles as resumes.

Game Changer for Corporate Recruiting

Depending on LinkedIn’s pricing and packaging strategy, this has the potential to be a game changer in the recruiting and hiring world. Not only could it drive standardization in the front-end of applicant tracking systems, but it will virtually eliminate two of the biggest pains of online job application processes (the need for applicants to cut and paste into predefined boxes, and the need for HR folks to try and fix resume parsing errors).

I also anticipate that this move could seriously cut into the profits of job boards such as Careerbuilder.com and Monster.com, especially if LinkedIn creates an attractive bundle that combines access to LinkedIn job boards with the application plug in for corporate career sites.

Game Changer for Jobseekers

For jobseekers, the Apply Within LinkedIn app could be a game changer too, especially if corporations move to “Upload from LinkedIn” as their preferred option.

For any jobseeker who has ever labored over the cumbersome cut-and-paste requirements of some corporate career sites and wondered why they have to upload everything when they’ve already attached their resume, the option to point and click will come as a welcome relief. The ability to set up job alerts and immediately apply using your cellphone will speed up candidate time-to-market.

As much thought and strategy will need to go into creating your LinkedIn profile as has traditionally gone into your resume, and it will become even more important that your profile be 100% complete.

The Downsides

The biggest downside that I see is the potential for higher incidents of spray-and-pray job applications, which is a no-win for everybody. In fact David Zax with Fast Company has suggested that this will make Apply with LinkedIn a non-starter.

For jobseekers, the one-size fit-all format for LinkedIn profile will limit their ability to tailor their application to the specific information needs of each company, which goes against the grain of job search best practices. Further, a fully developed LinkedIn profile is announcement to the world that you are open for business, job-offer wise, which you may not want your current employer to know

How Will This Play Out?

LinkedIn has probably redefined recruiting and job search best practices more than any other platform, so it will be interesting to see how the business model rolls out. Unfortunately they have a recent history of alienating their core base by monetizing member services that have previously been free, and creating fee structures that price casual users out of the market.

The plug-in may end up being a tool for large corporations only, and its ease of use may make it more of a liability than an asset it when it comes to candidate screening and selection. But with the right business model it could become the must-have tool for applicant-employer interface, no matter what the company size.  How do you think this will play out?

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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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Interview-on-Demand™ Using VerbalSummary™ Technology – How Cool Is That?

May 20th, 2011

I’m excited! Over the next couple of months, I’m going to be putting together some new coaching and career marketing packages that I know will take my clients’ job searches to a whole new level. Sure, it will still involve creating killer resumes that get noticed, but this is just one tool in the arsenal. It will also involve providing state-of-the-art options to reach recruiters and hiring managers where they are at – on their smartphones, through social media, and at in-real-life networking events and business functions.

verbal_summary_logoOne of the innovations that I will be offering is Interview-on-Demand™ using VerbalSummary technology, a tool developed by recruiter Jerry Albright to present candidates to hiring managers.  Using Interview-on-Demand™, we will create a two to four minute audio clip with a link imbedded in your resume, in which you respond to some typical interview questions about your particular area of expertise.

Why is this so powerful? My goal has always been to create documents that capture my client’s voice. Interview-on-Demand does that, and even more.  By pressing the play button on your resume, recruiters and hiring managers will get authentic insights into your strengths, your personality, your approach to work, in a way that can’t be conveyed on paper. Jerry’s been using it for a couple of years now, and not only has it helped to grow his business exponentially, but it’s shortened the time to hire and substantially reduced the effort it takes to present his candidates. Using VerbalSummary technology, the candidates literally present themselves.

Isn’t This Just the Same as Video Resumes? Not even close. Video resumes have numerous downsides. Aside from obvious production quality issues, they create an opening for discrimination claims, they don’t work on all platforms, and they don’t easily fit within existing candidate screening and recruiting processes. Interview-on-Demand™ will be built right into your resume, so it will work in conventional resume distribution models.

Interview-on-Demand™ won’t just be limited to resumes. We can use it in your LinkedIn profile, QRcode it in your business cards, embed it in your blog, or add it your email signature – any way that you use to communicate.  And that’s not even the best part (although it is pretty good), the best part is that, using VerbalSummary dashboard, we’ll be able to track in real time how many times your Interview-on-Demand™ has been listened to, so that we can gauge how well your job search strategy is working.  Pretty cool, huh?

When Will Interview-on-Demand Be Available? In the next few weeks Jerry and I will be working out the nuances of adapting a recruiter-focused tool to the needs of a career coach (really, the tool is so well designed that it won’t take much), and I will be putting myself through  VerbalSummary™ bootcamp to master the technology.

If you would be interested in being a test pilot for Interview-on-Demand™, then let me know.

Career Coaches and Resume Writers who may be interested in adding this to their service offerings, let me know.

In the meantime, here’s a sample of VerbalSummary in action, so that you can get a taste of how this whole thing will work.

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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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When It Comes To Networking, Don’t Be A Jack

April 27th, 2011
Don't Be A Networking Jack

Don't Be A Networking Jack

(Cross-posted at Radical Events)

Some people have a natural ability to network.  They can fearlessly enter a room, strike up a conversation with anybody, exude confidence, and walk away with a dozen new friends and business contacts. But for many of us, networking is an acquired art. Sometimes a painfully acquired art.

I recently had the opportunity to watch various people practice their networking skills ( I’m an inveterate people watcher, in case you didn’t know), and got to meet some genuine networking artists, a few artists-in-training, and one memorable my-kindergartener-could-have-painted-better-than-that.

I’ll call him Jack. That’s not his real name, but it’s apt. Halfway through a three-day event, many people were calling him Jack, only with three additional letters attached.

When It Comes to Networking, Don’t Be a Jack

  • Don’t make distribution of your business cards the sole focus of your networking efforts.
  • Don’t introduce yourself with a long-winded and too-obviously rehearsed list of credentials, in a my-letters-are-bigger-than-your-letters kind of a way.
  • Don’t monopolize conversations. If you know less about the person you’ve just talked to than they know about you, there’s a problem with your networking approach.
  • If you are going to follow the fake-it-until-you-make-it model of business development, be credible. Nobody is going to believe that a guy from Brazil just sent you a cheque for tens of thousands of dollars for unspecified services, especially when, if asked for details, your story deflates like a suddenly untied balloon.
  • Don’t be the self-appointed conference commentator. Don’t ask so many questions during conference presentations and panel discussions that you take the program off track. It really isn’t all about you.
  • Don’t bring a world-weary “in-my-day” attitude to a networking event. Or anywhere, really.
  • Don’t tell people what they are doing wrong with their business, their job search, their life, and how they could be millionaires, or hundred-thousand-aires, if they just follow your advice.

Everybody has a purpose in life. In some cases, it’s to be the bad example. I’m sure Jack has a much bigger purpose on this earth, but for me, he will eternally be my example of how not to network.

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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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