Social Groups and Volunteer Activities CAN lead to a job

Looking for a job, especially if you are under the added stress of being unemployed, is hard work.  The process takes an emotional and mental toll on you for a number of reasons; 1) you are personally connected to your search, 2) the search process itself is unfamiliar territory, 3) you have to be “on your game” much of the time and that’s just plain exhausting, and 4) it’s a tedious activity to research, apply and follow up on positions you are interested in.
The time and effort you put into your search will directly impact the length of your search.  For those who unemployed, the good news is you have more time to dedicate to landing your next great position.  But, looking for a job doesn’t mean sitting in front of your computer 40 hours a week. Additionally, it doesn’t mean your search ends at 5:00 PM.   Some of your best effort will be made outside your house and in the evenings.  Realistically, the people you want to meet and need to connect with are working.  That means they do their networking and social activities after business hours – and that’s where you need to be. 
You’ve already let your family, friends and professional network know you are looking for a job.  Now it’s time to expand your reach and gain access to an extended network.  Online Social Networking can help with this, but that’s not enough.  You need to get out there, meet new people who are gainfully employed and not already in your ‘circle’.  Let’s look at some options:
·         Professional groups are a good place to start – be seen where hiring managers hang out.  This means attend activities that are one level above where you are as a professional.  Here’s how I decide whether or not to attend an event;  if the content is interesting to me then I will likely meet people with whom I have a common interest.  There are too many options – and it can get pretty expensive – so filtering is a good idea.
·         Social groups are a great way to meet new people.  Recreational sports, book clubs, biking, running, hiking, dog walking (you name it) are all great ways to meet new people who have networks that you don’t have access to.  Check out www.meetup.com for hundreds of groups and activities to choose from.
·         Volunteering with non-profits is a natural way to meet new people.  Let’s face it, if you aren’t working you have some time to give as a volunteer and you’ll feel better for doing it.  There are so many organizations needing help that finding a way to contribute is pretty easy.  Maybe you have an organization that you’ve supported with money in the past and now, without a job that’s not realistic – give them a call and find out how you can give your time instead.  Try matching your volunteer work with your interests.  You’re more likely to meet people you will ‘connect’ with and –  who knows what might happen?  If you need help finding an organization you can register at www.volunteermatch.org. There are hundreds of opportunities listed by location, time commitment and interest.
This kind of extended network building takes a different approach however.  You won’t be wearing a badge that says ‘I’m looking for a job’; the process will be more indirect.  Here are some guidelines:
·         Plan on 1-2 evenings per week out at events or activities.
·         Get business cards printed and carry them with you EVERYWHERE
·         Prepare an interesting introduction – short and impactful – be creative!
·         Be friendly, introduce yourself to everyone you can and ask them about themselves (what brings you here, how are you connected to this organization, is this your first time too?).  People LOVE to talk about themselves.
·         DO NOT get into a discussion about your job search – exchange business cards and follow up later – solicitation during an event is rude.
·         Dress conservatively; you are making an impression on everyone you meet – make sure it’s a positive impression
·         Don’t skip out early – stay engaged in the program or activity until the end – often, the best networking happens at the close of a program – and you have some new material to talk about!
In addition to helping you extend your network beyond current friends and family, extracurricular activities will help you break the monotony of the day, help reduce your stress level and give you a ‘purpose’ which is often missing when people identify their value with their profession.  Get out there – Mix It Up –extend your reach to help your personal and professional success.  For more ideas on career development and getting hired take a look at our career portal at www.mygoldstonepartners.com.       
Advertisements

Get to Work!

July 6, 2009

Are you putting the right effort into your Job Search?

Looking for a job, much like parenting, is not something that we studied in college so many people when faced with unemployment are at a loss for what makes a ‘well-rounded’ job search. Most of us start with the low hanging fruit, the obvious approach; we start mining the job boards. If you work at it you can actually spend the entire day applying for open positions that are posted. That’s fine however you are only applying to about 30% of the open positions using this method. Moreover, if you are a manager/director or other senior level professional postings will net you only 10% of the openings. Let’s take a closer look at what this means to a job seeker.

Brandon is a software project manager with an MBA, PMP certification, an undergraduate degree in software engineering, is studying Six Sigma has a solid work history and a great track record. He’s been unemployed since before the end of the year. He is spending an exhaustive amount of time on Monster, Dice, Careerbuilder, etc and has interviewed, even as a finalist for a couple of positions. He’s hitting obstacles due to the current economic climate (or at least that’s what the excuses are) and just isn’t getting any traction. Brandon’s resume looks just like every other Project Management resume on the big boards. When you Google Brandon, you can’t find him. On Linked In, his name is registered but his profile is non-existent and he has 3 connections.

I asked Brandon what else he’s doing to find a job. He replied “networking with my buddies.” That’s a good start, but are you asking your friends for referrals to other companies that might be hiring? Did you ask what recruiters they know and respect? Do you check the calendar of events in the area to see where you should be ‘hanging out’? Are you making connections with former colleagues, associates, classmates on the social networks? His answer was, “no, I’m too busy looking for a job to do that.”

John is a software architect who was with his last employer for 4 years. He was recruited into that position from his former company and had been there since 1999. Essentially, John has not looked for a job in this century.. However John has more activity than he can handle in his job search. Not because his experience is any better than his peers, but because of his approach. John has been unemployed for barely 4 weeks, has discussions happening with 5 CIO’s and is expecting an offer within the next 2 weeks.

John learned early in his career about the power of building a solid network (outside of your company). He has kept in contact with his former colleagues, helped them in their careers, offers advice, participates in technical forums and has earned the reputation as a genuine thought leader amongst his peers. John spends about 10 minutes reviewing job board results in the morning over his coffee. He does this purely from an information collection standpoint. He is looking for new companies, postings with companies that he is targeting (not his position title, but all position titles) to see where there is activity. Interesting companies are further researched on the web and Linked In.

The rest of the morning is dedicated to connecting with people that are in a position to hire him. He does not call and email the HR department. He reaches out to CIOs, CTO’s, VP’s and CEO’s of companies that he is interested in. John will absolutely follow protocol and get his information in place with HR, but there is no sense in creating extra work if there isn’t a position available right now.

John sets coffee meetings and lunch meetings with people who he knows to talk about their business, their challenges and their opinion on where the industry is going. John is a thought leader, and these meetings provide some great peer discussions for these connections. As well, John makes it clear that he is looking for his next career move and asks for referrals. After his meetings, John heads back home to check his email/voice-mail, returns calls (because he is searchable on the web), completes follow up on the opportunities that he is targeting presently and checks Linked In for the day’s activities (job postings, group discussions, contact updates). To close out a busy day, John makes a list of planned activities for the next day, and enjoys an evening with his family.

Brandon is taking a bottom up approach to his search. He is feeding on the bottom 30% of open positions. Brandon will get a job, but he may not be satisfied and will likely just survive until the economy improves.

John is taking a top down approach. He is looking for the ‘unadvertised’ openings and will be gainfully and happily employed in a very short period. He will continue to build his network and will rise in his career as high as he wants to go.

Which approach – AND OUTCOME – do you like better?

Hire Responsibly

June 22, 2009

Testing and backgrounds don’t necessarily reveal CHARACTER

Although skill-based testing and background checks can help you determine baseline qualifications and keep your company out of the courtroom, these methods don’t help you determine the true character of the person you’re hiring. I’m surprised at how many companies don’t do even the most rudimentary reference checking prior to hiring someone who can have a deep and long lasting impact on your business – and your customers.

The human factor, especially in early stage companies, is critical to maintaining a high level of productive energy in your company. Candidates who spend time with members of their future team, and members of other functional areas will have a much better idea of what your culture is all about. As well, you’ll get a broader understanding of the candidates if each interviewer focused on a different functional area of responsibility = marketing looks for different things in a hire than QA or engineering. I call it ‘checking blindspots.’

Do you have several team members interview each candidate?

Multi-dimensional interviews are always a good idea. Most companies conduct interviews in a vacuum. This is probably because they want to ensure a fair and lawful process however, if you are too clinical about your interviewing, or not detailed enough you may miss some very important information. Interviewing should in a manner that is relevant to the role. Consider modifying the approach.

Do you phone interview candidates who will be working directly with your customers?

Hiring managers are increasingly busy. As a result, the interview process tends to be an exercise in going through the motions to see if there is anything that would keep you from hiring rather than finding the reason TO hire. There is a definite lack of ‘thought provoking’ and interesting discussion during the selection process. An example: “what are your weaknesses,’ is boring and the candidate is prepared for the answer. “If I were to speak with your former manager, what would he/she say are the 2 things that you need to further develop in order to move to the next level?” is interesting, and the candidate is not prepared for the answer, so they have to give it some thought – and you’ll get a gut level response.

Are you REALLY engaged in making the BEST hire?

Fact #1 – Hiring Managers RARELY check references on their recruits

Fact #2 – Most hiring mistakes could have been avoided

Fact #3 – Job seekers are better prepared for the interview than you are

Job Seekers and Hiring Managers – Here is an article about the importance of manging your online profile (and your company’s online profile) in case you really haven’t embraced the Social Media frenzy yet.

Digital Brand Expressions is a high-end search engine and social media marketing consultancy and services firm that helps companies enhance their findability on the Web to drive business success.

When looking for a new job, remember to utilize social media sites, especially LinkedIn. According to Jump Start Social Media, as many as 75% of hiring managers use LinkedIn on a regular basis to research candidates before making an offer, compared to 48% using FaceBook, and 26% using Twitter.

“Social media is not only a great networking tool, it’s also a way for employers to perform reference checks on job candidates,” said Veronica Fielding, president of Digital Brand Expressions and its social media service for consumers, Jump Start Social Media. “Because LinkedIn is the most professionally oriented of the three, it tends to attract hiring managers who are doing due diligence.”

When it comes to sourcing job candidates, more hiring managers again prefer LinkedIn to Twitter and Facebook. Of the hiring managers surveyed, 66% of hiring managers visit LinkedIn, 23% visit Facebook and 16% use Twitter to find job candidates to fill openings.

To ensure that your personal brand is professional, monitor what you post on social marketing sites. Ms. Fielding reminds people, “Whether or not you are job hunting, you should be aware that your public profile is easily accessible so be sure to maintain a professional personal brand.” Social media sites can enhance a candidate’s position or be detrimental.

“Social media tools offer hiring managers the ability to gain a broad picture of an individual,” says Rosina Racioppi, President of WOMEN Unlimited, Inc. “I prefer LinkedIn because its focus is on business connections and it allows you to see the professional beyond their resume. Utilizing social media tools enables hiring managers to assess whether a candidate is an appropriate fit for their organization.

The experts at Jump Start Social Media offer these tips for using social media in the job-hunting process:
Become familiar with the popular social media sites so you can participate in important dialogues, including opportunities to network for jobs.

  • Start with one service, get comfortable with it, and branch out from there. The easiest, safest choice is LinkedIn because it has always been 100% business focused.
  • Share links to interesting news stories combined with a sentence of insight, and join groups (your alma mater, former employers, industry associations, etc.) in order to participate in online discussions with the other members.
  • Ask people in your network to introduce you to the people that they know. It’s these dynamic group interactions that help shape perceptions of you and your business acumen.
  • Make sure to finish your social media profiles and keep them updated.
  • If you are “tweeting” on Twitter, share links to stories, reports, interviews, etc. to which you add your insights.
  • Don’t overlook Facebook’s value as a way of keeping in touch and staying top of mind with the business connections you’ve made during your career.

Bring it home: If you don’t already have a personal brand, start developing one. And by all means, keep your social media sites in line with your personal branding efforts. If you don’t want certain people to know something, don’t post it for the whole world to see. Use good judment and common sense at the minimum when posting information on your social media pages.

The Jump Start Social Media survey polled 100 hiring managers at small, mid-sized, and large companies. Polling was done by Digital Brand Expressions and interbiznet.

To learn more about using social media in the job hunt, visit

www.jumpstartsocialmedia.com or www.digitalbrandexpressions.com.

Job Board post post disappointing scores

I’m talking with more companies that are voicing their frustration with the results of their recruiting efforts related to job board postings. Dollars are tight in the Human Resources category these days so it’s important to make sure that every dollar spent nets maximum return. Let’s focus on some alternatives

Your recruiting efforts should be focused on replicating the very best talent that you have internally. Your current employees, especially the Gen Y employees, are networked. They have friends, former co-workers and professional associates who are looking to grow their careers and work with the very talented folks they know, respect and admire.

Do you promote an employee referral bonus program – LOUDLY?

Savvy job seekers (the ones you want to hire) are not spending their precious time trying to navigate job boards these days. They are networking! Instead of visiting job boards they are visiting company websites to try and find interesting positions with companies who share their personal ideals.

Is your career site indexed so that aggregators (and search engines) can find you?

The top guns out there are serious about their careers. They participate actively in professional organizations; know what’s going on in the community (related to their career) and watch for trends, announcements and news. User Groups, meetups and associations are a great place to find future talent.

Are you hanging out in public?

Fact #1 – Job Boards are going in the direction of classified ads

Fact #2 – Competition for Top Talent is fierce

Fact #3 – Google is the job seekers tool of choice

Unemployment is up which makes hiring a bit of a challenge …

A larger pool of unemployed people out there tends to make some feel that they really don’t need to put effort into talent acquisition. The position descriptions aren’t as interesting, the interview process starts to slide a bit. Follow up with candidates isn’t quite as immediate as in the past because they aren’t really going anywhere.

Are you creating a future problem for yourself through lazy hiring practices?

In a downturn I tend to see greater volume of resumes, but a lower quality of applicants. This is a result of really great people who are employed deciding that they had better table their search and stay the course rather than risk transitioning to a new position now. As a hiring manager your task becomes harder. Outbound sourcing, especially for those hard-to-hire skillsets becomes even more important.

Are you making it easy for qualified applicants to find you?

Yep, you’re busy. Your budget has been cut; you have more work to do because you’ve lost headcount. All those unemployed people out there are just adding to your workload. You really don’t have to respond to people who aren’t qualified for positions at your company; it’s not a good use of your time.

Are you treating people who contact your company about employment with the same compassion you would hope for if you were in their shoes?

Fact #1 – Scrutiny and care during the hiring process is MORE critical in a soft market

Fact #2 – The economy will rebound

Fact #3 – We all can have a positive impact on getting America back to work