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What to Include in Your Executive Career Portfolio

Conveying your executive career story can be daunting, especially as it relates to articulating a value-laden message during job search.

Where do you start? What pieces of the career portfolio puzzle matter most? How do you begin the career gold ‘unearthing’ process, and then where do you display the polished gems to attract the right audience’s attention?

During initial consultations with prospective resume clients, I always zero in on what I call the foundational aspect of their executive message.

Although the gloriously muddied career marketing waters include initiatives like building a Personal Brand, managing your Social Media Footprint, crafting a compelling Profile for a multiplicity of social networking sites such as LinkedIn, VisualCV, BranchOut or BeKnown, or designing your Personal Career Website, the foundational message in all of these venues will appear ‘cracked’ and imperfect if you do not undergo an initial introspective assessment of You Inc.

In my 14 years as a Career Writing Strategist, I have honed a word-wrangling process that starts with your career ‘brain dump’ in order to assemble intimate career details of the goals you have met, the obstacles you have surmounted or avoided and the concrete, verifiable results you can claim. As well, these story details are extended to include the leadership traits you applied and career leadership muscle you bulked up throughout your corporate exercises. This process is the answer to ‘where do you start?’ and ‘how do you begin the career message unearthing process?’

I believe anyone with a desire to take the reins of their career should undergo this unearthing course of action. The reality is, not everyone will feel suited or willing to complete such highly introspective, collaborative methods, but for those who do, they realize substantial gains in their career movement. Clarity of career value and specificity in their target goals becomes a beacon that leads them through career tunnels, doors and across the intimidating abyss of executive career change. Without the movement of change, we start feeling stuck.

In response to ‘what pieces of the career portfolio puzzle matter most?’ and to help you better hone in on the executive communication documents you will need in your arsenal to compete with, and ultimately, out-compete your competitors, I’ll provide a brief overview, below.

Executive Resume (aka, the Foundation): In creating a 2- or 3-page career story, you do want to be succinct, but don’t forget to add depth and breadth. Though the focus in many social media ‘expert’ conversations asserts, be short and cater to the attention-deficit-defined personalities, I defy that assertion when, time over time, a richer, more robust resume message works to differentiate my clients, and their opportunities soar.

Particularly at the executive level, a more layered story is not only important, but also required in order to move to the next level of conversation with C-level executives and board members. They want to know more about you than the bottom-line facts; they yearn for the why and the how you did what you did. Your shades of gray—your personality, values, ethics, integrity and strategic insights—should leap off the page.

Targeted Cover Letter: Although templated letters will fail you, if you are targeted in your approach to your next role, you can craft a highly focused letter that will serve as the foundation for future messages. In addition, a second page of powerful statements at your disposal will add value as you tailor your letter for specific audiences, easing the from-scratch writing process.

Executive Summary: This 1- to 2-page career glimpse should contain the critical highlights of a 2- to 3-page resume and will serve as a briefer version of your more robust story to distribute for particular networking purposes, as a companion to a cover letter, as an introduction piece for a resume or leadership addendum or as part of a media kit.

Robust Leadership Chronicle / Leadership Addendum: This 1- to 3-page standalone document showcases your top career stories or projects in a deep-slice case study format. It is comprised of pithy snapshots focused on achievements stories (challenge, actions, short- and long-term results and your business / leadership strength).  This Chronicle may accompany the resume or the executive summary or may be used as a standalone for a follow-up conversation.

The Chronicle/Addendum is particularly useful in networking venues as it provides a broad, yet specific sense of ability without the complexity of the resume. Some executive recruiters value these ‘deep-slice achievements stories’ to offer client companies.

Executive Biography: This 1- to 2-page narrative story blends nuances of your personal values with career contributions to underscore your value. A plethora of uses include distributing to corporate board members / executives, networking during your job search, leaving behind following an interview … and more.

This conversational document is a business-casual, polished tool that extends your resume value, or, when appropriate, may be used in the place of the resume.

LinkedIn Profile: Your LinkedIn profile isn’t just a mini-me resume (although, achievements from the resume should punctuate your LinkedIn profile to grab hiring decision-makers’ attention!).

Handled effectively, the nuances of the LinkedIn profile vs. Resume content may help catapult your job search to a new level. Many experienced managers, senior managers and executives prowl the LinkedIn network, actively engaging with others to expand their network, to hunt for new talent and to simply build and expand upon professional relationships. Do not miss out on this opportunity to be found!

In today’s economically and integrity-challenged business climate, the vetting process of executive candidates has become fierce. Recruiters, Board Members, Chief Executive Officers and others who will be reviewing your career chronicle need convincing that you not only can get the job done, but you will do so in an ethical way, with attention to corporate culture, sustainability and repeatable performance promises.

Communicate yourself well, and you will fortify your chances of a career search win!

IMAGE VIA luanluantan

Top 20 Venues for Thought Leaders

While there are many ways you can establish your personal brand online and offline and inevitably stand out from others in your industry, functional area or even job candidate pool, one of the most powerful ways is demonstrating your unique value contribution through thought leadership.

A thought leader is by definition someone who is recognized for his or her innovative ideas, opinions, and/or perspective. However, if you want to be recognized as such, you must actually share your ideas, opinions and/or perspective with others.

Here are the top 20 venues for new and veteran thought leaders to share their value, expand their audience and grow their reputation and personal brand.

  • LinkedIn Answers: LinkedIn Answers is a unique Q&A forum that allows LinkedIn users to post questions and contribute answers to others’ questions. Getting involved in asking questions, answering questions and sharing insights and ideas related to your chosen industry is an effective way to establish your personal brand in an area of expertise.
  • Quora: Quora has combined the power of Q&A and Wikipedia into one platform where each question and answer become a living document that users can continuously discuss and update. Quora can be a great way to establish credibility and visibility. It also can be a comprehensive resource for networking and gathering information for future work and content, entrepreneurial ventures and/or personal efforts.
  • Your Own Blog: Blogging and contributing value-added content to better serve your industry can be an outstanding way to increase your visibility and demonstrate your unique value to potential employers and career stakeholders. Blogs are very easy to get started. There are both free and self-hosted platforms to choose from, including WordPress, Blogger and Typepad.
  • Guest Posting: If you’re not ready to commit to starting your own blog, consider writing content to contribute to other industry blogs. To find candidate blogs for your posts, do a quick Google search, check out the blogrolls of leading blogs in your area and check Alltop, an online magazine rack that provides a list of all the top blogs by industry or topic category.
  • Commenting: In addition to writing your own content, don’t forget to respond to the content that others publish on their blogs, as that can help you network your brand with other thought leaders and demonstrates your involvement. Again, use Google, blogrolls and Alltop to identify relevant blogs on which to become active.
  • LinkedIn Groups: There are thousands of LinkedIn Groups for you to join, including alumni groups, industry-specific groups, special interest groups and more. Start being active and contributing value from Day 1. Share interesting news with your groups, post links to intriguing articles and join in group discussions to show your investment in your industry or area of interest.
  • Facebook: While Facebook is intended to be more social than professional, this doesn’t mean it isn’t a venue for you to brand yourself. Share your activities and contributions or valuable resources in moderation with your friends, family and connections. They may already know you and your brand, but this will continue to reinforce it.
  • Twitter: Micro-blogging with Twitter is another way you can network with others, engage people in conversation and contribute value from your own blog, other industry blogs and websites and other thought leaders online.
  • HARO: HARO is a free personal branding service that connects professionals and students with writers, bloggers and journalists seeking sources for their articles, books, blog posts, etc. This can be a great way to get quoted in industry publications and increase your credibility and visibility among your peers.
  • Reviews: Writing a thoughtful review demonstrates your opinion of and take on someone else’s ideas and contributions. Leverage sites like Amazon to share your responses to others’ work.
  • HubPages: HubPages is an online platform where you can share your advice, reviews, useful tips, opinions and insights with hundreds of other authors and visitors without having to host, manage and market your own site or blog.
  • Squidoo: Squidoo is another platform for creating single webpages on your interests and recommendations, inevitably enhancing your online presence, search engine rankings and personal brand.
  • Google Knol: Google Knol is another platform where you can create, collaborate on, and publish credible web content without managing and driving traffic to your own website or blog.
  • SlideShare: Whether you have a presentation you have given before that you want to post, want to create a new presentation for others to view or have a portfolio of work to show off, SlideShare is a great tool that allows you to feature your presentations and documents and demonstrate your expertise and ideas in your chosen field.
  • Self-Publishing: If you interested in authoring longer works for your industry, consider self-publishing a book through CreateSpace or Lulu. You can also self-publish e-books in pdf format and share them via your blog, Scribd, SlideShare and across your networks.
  • Publishing: While there is no shame in self-publishing, getting published by a publishing house or publication does carry some prestige and credibility. You may know of publications and/or publishers in your industry to which you may want to send your content, but do check out the Writers Market series, as they provide invaluable resources and directories for writers.
  • Speaking & Teaching: Getting in front of an audience and sharing your expertise and ideas with them is an effective way to brand yourself as an expert. Identify something on which you can speak or present or even teach to a group of people and offer to contribute to an upcoming industry event or event put on by any associations you have joined. This will obviously take practice and may require you working your way up to bigger venues. You can also host your own events and market them to your local community and network. Promote your events online through LinkedIn, Facebook and Eventbrite. Remember, if you don’t have a physical space, you can also offer teleseminars and webinars which may attract larger audiences from around the country and world.
  • Video: More and more professionals are leveraging the power of video to market themselves, their expertise and/or their offerings. Sites like YouTube are popular platforms for featuring and marketing your thought leadership through video.
  • BusinessWeek Business Exchange: BWBX is a networking platform where you can both connect with fellow professionals in your industry and areas of interest, but also where you can share online articles and resources, including your own.
  • Networking: General career and business networking both online and offline will enhance your personal brand presence and connect you with other thought leaders, career stakeholders and potential followers. Attend in-person events in your industry, join local trade associations and make a point to network with at least one new person every week. Compliment your offline efforts by networking with other professionals online, using tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Networking Roulette by Brazen Careerist, BeKnown by Monster and any other tools or forums within your area of interest.

What are some other top venues where you share your ideas, opinions and personal brand?

Chris Perry, MBA is a Gen Y brand and marketing generator, a career search and personal branding expert and the founder of Career Rocketeer, Launchpad, Blogaristo and more.

What Your Workers Really Think About HR: #TChat Preview

Originally posted by Charles Purdy on MonsterThinking Blog

If you’re in an HR or recruiting position, you likely interact with a lot of job seekers and employees, and  you may believe that you already know everything you need to know about their mindsets and attitudes.  After all, you’re in the people business.

Plus, you’re busy! You’ve got an inbox full of resumes and a calendar full of meetings and interviews, and you think you’re making things easier by applying an unchanging checklist to the job seekers you have to sort through.

It’s time to think again. Preconceived notions can hurt you and your business, because they may be leading you to reject top talent before you can discover it.

At Monster, we talk to job seekers every day; like with #TChat, we know conversation counts.  Because, after all, that’s the ultimate goal of connecting.  And here are just a few of the commonly held recruiting notions that today’s worker – who, statistically speaking, is likely also a job seeker – want HR pros to know:

5 Job Search Myths and The New Recruiting Realities

MYTH #1: Currently employed candidates are preferable

You don’t still ignore “active” candidates in favor of “passive” ones, do you? The line between people who are actively looking for a career change and people who aren’t has blurred — Monster polls have found that a considerable majority of employed people would jump ship for the right opportunity. (As a side note, this makes employee engagement very important right now — what are you doing to keep your current employees engaged?)

MYTH #2: Gaps in employment make a candidate undesirable

Times have been tough, right? Great workers have been laid off and had a hard time finding new employment. Rejecting candidates for gaps in employment means you reject a lot of great talent out of hand. Look into “gaps,” and you’ll see that many candidates have been filling downtime with personal-development activities that make them better hires, not worse.

MYTH #3: It’s all about salary

This just isn’t true for today’s workers. It’s no longer about throwing money at great candidates — especially for younger workers, quality-of-life issues can trump monetary compensation. Want to make your company more attractive to talented people? Look into adopting flex-time and flex-space policies. Provide on-the-job learning opportunities (and make sure that all employees, even “entry-level” ones, are treated with respect and shown how they contribute to company success). And think about how your company can promote its green and social-good efforts — corporate responsibility is becoming more and more important to workers.

MYTH #4: “Overqualified” people are unacceptably risky hires

That “overqualified” worker has the expertise your company needs. Instead of rejecting him or her outright, find out why he or she wants to head in a new career direction. As with salary, many great candidates are now less interested in titles and more motivated by other concerns.

MYTH #5: Over 50 means over the hill

Now more than ever, age is just a number. People are living longer and putting retirement off for later — not only because they need income, but also because they want to stay engaged with their careers (or begin a new one). Like “overqualified” workers, Baby Boomers are a great untapped employment-market and expertise resource.

#TCHAT Questions (06.28.11)

What recruiting myths are you challenging? Have you uncovered any other outdated recruiting mindsets? What can HR do about it?  Tonight’s special #TChat Live! from SHRM 11 will focus on the current state of affairs with regard to talent management and HR leadership.

If you’re at SHRM 11 this week, stop by ARIA Resort & Casino’s Bluethorn Meeting Room #3 for our meet-up today. Food and drinks will be available. You don’t have to be in Vegas to follow the action. Search for hashtag #TChat on Twitter or your favorite Twitter client and join the conversation.

It’s sure to be a lively discussion, so we hope you can join us at 8 PM ET/5 PM ET on Twitter for #TChat!

Q1: What does HR do? Is that different from what they’re supposed to do?

Q2: Why should HR be responsible for all talent management and recruiting? Why not?

Q3: What are the common misperceptions other departments have about HR and why?

Q4: What’s HR getting right in today’s world of work and business?

Q5: HR pros: What can employees do differently to better partner with HR?

Q6: What does the future of HR look like? Does it have one?

Visit www.talentculture.com for more great information on #TChat, as well as other great resources on careers and hiring.

Monster’s social media team supports #TChat’s mission of sharing “ideas to help your business and your career accelerate — the right people, the right ideas, at the right time.”

We’ll be joining the conversation this Tuesday night as co-hosts with Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman from 8-9 p.m. (Eastern) via @MonsterCareers and @Monster_Works.

Monster's BeKnown Disrupts: Meet New School Social Networking

Weekends aren’t the usual time for companies to drop market-making news, but it happened this weekend, when Monster announced the launch of BeKnown, a networking application which marries the social-media savvy and vast audience of Facebook (more than 750 million users) with the track record and recruiting muscle of Monster

I was prepared in briefings last week so it was not a complete surprise to me. I’m still pondering the ramifications of this shiny tool. But it happened, and in the reporting that accompanied the announcement, one observation went unsaid.

Old School, Meet New School

For recruiters and talent management pros everywhere, it’s an announcement that’s been a long time coming. I’ve known the team at Monster for many years and through many of it’s revisions. As one of our #TChat media partners I offer Monster a huge congratulations and am very pleased about the news. And while some companies may feel a bit threatened or fear disintermediation, it is a good thing for our industry. Time will tell how quickly people and companies can adopt the new technology in a way that is useful.

For job seekers, it’s a revolution that continues to unfold. Revolutions change things, and people have to figure out how to use the change to their advantage – and do it quickly. Does this mean no more need for recruiters? Absolutely not, and more on that later too.

With BeKnown, job searchers – passive or active – have a new tool with which to create professional networks. Users can construct an old-school presentation of their accomplishments – a social resume – and float it out, while keeping their personal and professional networks separate, into the powerful, new school Facebook stream.

There are other real contenders in this game – LinkedIn, with ~100 million users, and an early innovator giant kudos goes to BranchOut, a Facebook application created by a bunch of smart, Silicon Valley VC-backed entrepreneurs. There is zero question they are early adopters in this space. Both are excellent tools, but neither has the recruiting backbone of Monster. I wonder how this will play out in the marketplace. Will be interesting to watch the developments.

What does this mean for recruiters?

We will have to be smarter and work harder for clients to prove our value. But I’d argue that the vastness that is Facebook will turn out to be a great thing for recruiters who continue to pivot quickly to offer services to help clients bridge the worlds of social interaction and job search. I’ve been to Leadership and HR conferences and talked to lots of recruiters in the past few years, and most of them have been looking for something like BeKnown. Why? Because most recruiters are already social media-savvy, but most companies don’t have the bandwidth to construct social communities to attract prime recruits. BeKnown could be a/the invaluable bridge.

What does it mean for job seekers?

More access. A new channel, in a familiar Facebook form. More than 700 million other users, loosely-connected into a huge job-sharing and job-hunting network. What BeKnown doesn’t have that recruiters offer: a tight, focused relationship, built on trust, with a professional who knows the ins and outs of job hunting, personal branding, talent management and career-building.

BeKnown will create disruption, but it also will create opportunity for job seekers and recruiters. What it won’t do? Replace relationships.

The loose bonds many of us have with Facebook friends are fragile, transient things, made more transient by frequent, subtle tweaks to Facebook’s algorithms which create a social filter many users barely notice. Facebook’s privacy issues and lack of transparency are real concerns that will continue to be managed. Nevertheless, BeKnown is a step forward for job seekers at a time when many need the extra help and visibility. And for recruiters, it’s a missing piece – a social edge, a new channel, a new way to add and prove the value of relationships.

Please see more thoughtful analysis of this news from Josh Bersin.

It’s old school meets new school. And I could not be happier.

3 Job Search Tips You've Probably Never Heard

Today, job search advice is available everywhere online. You’ve probably read the obvious tips: prepare for your interview, tailor your resume and cover letter, network with industry professionals, etc. But, what are some of the tips that aren’t as readily available online? Here are some job search tips you’ve probably never heard:

Don’t job search, company search

  • Don’t focus on the quantity of job openings you’re applying for, strive for quality instead. By narrowing your search to ideal organizations, you can build relationships within those companies and have a better chance at landing a job interview. After all, networking is one of the top ways to land a new job—but you knew that, right?

Spend more time following-up than applying

  • Sure, you need to spend a great deal of time tailoring your resume, writing your cover letter and filling out additional information requested by a potential employer. But you also need to be proactive in your job search by keeping track of your applications and following-up to show you’re passionate about the position. You can easily be lost in the “black hole” of job boards and applicant tracking systems. Sometimes, this means the hiring manager never actually sees your resume. Follow-up can be the key to standing out from the crowd (not everyone does it) and gaining an employer’s attention.
  • I recommend stating that you will follow-up within one week in your cover letter. If you don’t hear back beforehand, shoot the hiring manager an email to inquire about the position. Don’t follow-up too often – as that can often irritate a busy hiring manager – once per week for 3-4 weeks is plenty.

Focus on building and maintaining your personal brand

  • With loads of resumes, cover letters and online applications for each open position, you can understand how a hiring manager has difficulty deciding which candidate would be best for the position. They obviously don’t have time to interview everyone to determine fit, so they probably rely on employee referrals, computer applications that sort applicants based on keywords, and standout candidates who know their strengths.
  • Be a standout job applicant by clearly conveying your personal brand in your job search documents – and identifying how your skills and qualifications can benefit the organization. Although this takes time and effort, it can pay off tremendously in your job search. It might just be the edge you need to land your dream opportunity.

What unique job search tips have worked in your career? Anything job seekers should absolutely avoid doing in their search?

3 Steps When Your Career Is Lacking Mental Stimulation

How are you feeling about your job and your career?

Finding it boring and unfulfilling? As your organization has cut costs and corners, do you have more, but unfortunately, less rewarding work? Are you back to doing things you’ve already accomplished earlier in your career because you’re the only one left who has done them before? Are the new areas you’ve been stretched to cover not providing the same mental stimulation you enjoy from working with talents closer to your interests?

A variety of people have been raising these issues with me lately. Individuals ranging from those early in their careers to senior executives who you’d think would be nosing around retirement as a natural next step are voicing the same sentiment: “What I’m doing right now doesn’t provide the mental stimulation I want in my career, but I don’t know what should be next.”

My recommendation to each person has been to look at their current organization as essentially the first investor in what’s next in a career that has more mental stimulation, but potentially less definition.

Most effectively using your current employer as an investor depends upon cutting back on living expenses, maximizing a salary’s (hopefully) steady cash flow as a financial investment in the future, and applying the extra mental energy not drained by your job to design your intended next career steps.

This sentiment was echoed in a presentation I saw by Seth Godin recently. He talked about the number of people who ask him what they should do with their careers. His advice is to start something because marketing is essentially free, thanks to the internet.

Godin said that many people follow-up the first question with a second one, “Where do I send my resume?”

These people, he says are missing the point. They’re waiting to be picked when they should, instead, be picking themselves to create what’s next.

Are you ready to pick yourself?

If not, are you getting ready to pick yourself? Here are three steps to get ready if you haven’t started yet:

Sure, there may be no clear, easy answer to what’s next for you. If you got this far in the post, however, you were obviously looking for more mental stimulation in your career. Well, you just found it!

Finding Career Success Without A Job or Internship

Written by Kirsten Taggart

I’m currently in Australia taking some classes and learning what life is like in the southern hemisphere.  Even more, I’m learning some important lessons and tricks on how to advance my career away from home without a job or an internship. Whether you’re also abroad, a recent graduate, or simply want to plan ahead, it’s always beneficial to know how to be productive on your own time.

We’re facing an unemployment rate of 9.1% (underemployment is at 19.2%). There are approximately 21 applicants per job position.  Intimidating? I certainly think so. But you can have a major advantage over your competition simply by making yourself known and getting your name out there from wherever you may be.

Being away from home, I’ve found the best way to do so is to stay connected. Email previous employers/professors and tell them what you’re up to, what you’re planning on doing in the near future, etc. Maybe they know someone you can contact.

Use LinkedIn wisely.

Be vocal on Twitter – when I say vocal I don’t mean telling the world that you broke up with your boy/girlfriend via a sappy song lyric. Twitter is a branding source so use it the way you would want your employers to view you. What are you interested in? What relevant articles have you read lately? Who are (or aren’t) you following?  Twitter is great for making connections in your industry and finding open positions.

At the same time, go out and meet people. My goal here has been to meet the locals and find out what they do, what working in Sydney is like, workplace dynamics, etc.  Who knows, you might find someone in your field that can help you out.

Here’s a recent example of how networking can help you anywhere in the world. TalentCulture recently took on a few new talented bloggers.  I tweeted them a small community welcome, which led to a conversation with William. Before I knew it, he was sending me the contact information of his friend in Australia.  Now I have a local connection and an opportunity to expand my network.

In the past few weeks there have been numerous articles on the best and worst advice for college students, but the most valuable tip I’ve heard so far is not to limit yourself. Put yourself out there on social media – in the end you’ll be available to a much broader job market.

If you would like to read more on the world of work for new grads, check out Tuesday’s #TChat recap.

In the World of Our Work, We Are the Architects: #TChat Recap

If we all knew what we wanted to be when we grew up, then what’s the point of growing up? Where’s the beauty in the journey?

When I say “beauty” I’m not talking just about the literal kind of pretty, I mean the mindful presence of learning to own your life decisions, your failures, your successes and your over- and under-reactions, your disruptive passions and your nonchalant, middle-of-the-road actions…your life. Let me digress sentimental…

Growing up (aren’t we always growing up?), I wanted to be an architect. And a poet/novelist. And a rock star drummer. Quite a combo I know. What started as drawing Snoopy and other Peanuts characters then cars and hot rods led to drafting classes in high school and a love for designing homes and buildings. And what started as writing sweet little rhymes led to dark prose of teenage questioning angst then hopeful short stories of love and redemption into adulthood, with a few “novel” beginnings to boot. And lastly what started as air drumming and eventually practice pads has never gotten any farther than the love of drumming.

Instead I went into philanthropy, then marketing communications and business development with a college degree in psychology. Note to future grads: Not getting work experience, including internships, prior to graduating is a mistake. Don’t ride it all out a la academic — get real-world experience along the way as well as finding mentors to guide you. Remember, a college degree doesn’t equal an automatic paying career. Not anymore. In fact, in this job market, working multiple contingent jobs ain’t a bad gig if you can get it. It’s great “stretch” experience, too.

I read at the end of last year that millenials (i.e., Gen Y, those born somewhere between the mid-1970′s and the early 2000′s) will have at least 7-8 careers in their lifetimes. I’m a Gen Xer and I’ve already had 6 now. Many of my peers can relate to the path of “I wanted to be this but I fell into that, and that, and that.” As I wrote yesterday, there are five generations now in the workplace who are scrambling to stay afloat in this post-apocalyptic economy.

And while I agree that for the most part it still takes time and experience to build a better mouse trap and mouse trap management, there’s nothing wrong with a little impatient hurry-up-and-fail attitude to build one’s fortitude. Some of the most exciting business startup activity in over a decade is coming from a mixed generational group, young and old alike, all re-imaging the way and why of work within an emotional connectivity context and cultural inclusivity.

That’s why it was so poignant that I awoke with this passage from famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright:

“The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.”

Own your career management, fail and learn, and champion your mentors. Then become one. In the world of our work, we are the architects.

There’s lots of beauty in that as far as I’m concerned.

You can read the #TChat pre-cap titled Meet the Workplace: World of Work for New Grads, as well as review the questions from last night:

  • Q1: Should 2011’s new grads follow their passions, or focus on finding a stable career?
  • Q2: What rookie mistakes are new grads in danger of making in the workplace?
  • Q3: What are some tactics a new grad needs to employ in a troubled employment market?
  • Q4: Do you think a four-year degree (at least) is necessary for career security?
  • Q5: What makes this generation of young workers different from those of 20 years ago?
  • Q6: How do you think this decade’s crop of new grads will transform the workplace?
  • Q7: What’s the best piece of career advice new grads need to hear right now?

A special thank you to Charles Purdy from @Monster_Careers for moderating last night!

The World of Work for New Grads: #TChat Preview

Originally posted by Charles Purdy, one of #TChat’s moderators, on Monster Thinking Blog

It’s not just that many recent grads are new to the world of work — it’s also that the world of work has changed quite a lot in recent years. The tumultuous economy, fast-changing technologies, and the social-media revolution (just to name a few factors) have made the workplace 2011′s grads are entering a very different place from the one 2oo1′s experienced.

Of course, many of the questions new grads face — such as “Should I follow my passions or work on finding a stable career?” “What mistakes should I beware of?” and even “Was my four-year degree really necessary?” — aren’t questions that only young people ask. We’re all dealing with these questions to some extent.

If you’re a new or recent grad looking for answers, a job seeker with questions about the new world of work, or anyone who has career wisdom to share, join #TChat tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern (5 p.m. Pacific). This is sure to be a lively discussion!

#TChat Questions and Recommended Reading (06.07.11)

Here are tonight’s questions, along with some posts on emerging workforce issues we think are worth checking out.  This background reading isn’t mandatory to get in on tonight’s #TChat action, but we suggest checking out these articles by top career-advice and talent-management thought leaders before the chat (or if you missed it):

Q1: Should 2011’s new grads follow their passions, or focus on finding a stable career?

Read: How to Find Your Calling: Lessons from Larry Crowne by Monster College

Q2: What rookie mistakes are new grads in danger of making in the workplace?

Read: The Worst Career Advice Continually Given to College Seniors by Emily Bennington

Q3: What are some tactics a new grad needs to employ in a troubled employment market?

Read: Job Search Tips for New Grads: Standing Out From the Growd by Charles Purdy

Q4: Do you think a four-year degree (at least) is necessary for career security?

Read: Should You Go Back To School? by Jacob Milner

Q5: What makes this generation of young workers different from those of 20 years ago?

Read: Workplace Entitlement? C’mon, Mom Told Us All We Were Special by Kevin Grossman

Q6: How do you think this decade’s crop of new grads will transform the workplace?

Read: The Non-Generational Talent of American Workers by Peter Weddle

Q7: What’s the best piece of career advice new grads need to hear right now?

Read: Recession Job-Search Tips for New Grads by Margot Carmichael Lester

Monster’s social media team supports #TChat’s mission of sharing “ideas to help your business and your career accelerate — the right people, the right ideas, at the right time.”

We’ll be joining the conversation every Tuesday night as co-hosts with Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman from 8-9 p.m. (Eastern) via @MonsterCareers and @Monster_Works.

New Technology Changing The Future of Resumes

Written by Kevin Wang

There are core values and ideas that will remain eternal. However, the shape and form in which they manifest themselves constantly changes through time due to improved technology or cultural shifts. Think of what marriage, transportation, or news outlets looked like or meant to people in different periods, and you’ll see what I mean.

I believe the resume will never die. As long as a majority of companies hire their employees based on knowledge, resources, and experience, the resume’s purpose will remain vital in the process. I do believe, however, that the form in which a resume manifests itself is slowly growing outdated. Just as the email attachment replaced the mailed print copy, one of the following below could easily replace the email attachment as the next standard resume.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn, a social networking website for professionals, has rapidly taken off since its founding in 2003, with the company now boasting over 100 million users and over $160 million in annual revenues. Just as Facebook became the platform on which we interact with our friends, LinkedIn is becoming the platform on which we interact with contacts and companies. People of all ages are realizing the wealth of potential and opportunity awaiting them on the website, and flocking to start their own accounts.

With one’s experience, education, recommendations, contact information, and just about everything else conveniently listed on one’s page, it only takes a quick profile look-up from HR to find everything they need to know about an applicant. Perhaps in the future, LinkedIn may even go beyond allowing users to simply submit applications to posted jobs, building tools and services (like video chat, applicant evaluation software, etc) onto its platform to allow for the entire hiring process to take place on its website. With the company’s continued sustained growth and innovation, it is likely that this will usurp the traditional resume.

Video

It has become relatively easy in this day and age to create high-quality homemade videos. Video cameras (or phones) and simple-to-use editing software are everywhere, and uploading content to the web is a breeze. A video resume allows an applicant to present himself or herself in more dimensions to a recruiter by showcasing creativity, personality, and interests while still communicating qualifications and experience

Additionally, the visual presence of the applicant allows him or her to speak more directly to a recruiter than any cover letter could ever allow, making for a more compelling personal pitch. This format has already started to become more prevalent: for example, Cambridge-based tech start-up SCVNGR now accepts videos in lieu of a cover letter. There are even companies, like TalentRooster, which specialize in producing such videos for hopeful hires who would otherwise produce something laughable, like this. Or awesomely ambiguous, like this.

Personal Pages

With more people embracing personal branding and establishing their presence on the web, it becomes important to tie all their outlets together. Recruiters don’t just want to see a resume anymore; they want to learn about your opinions, values, and personality, which they can extract from your online activity.

Whether it’s a WordPress blog, YouTube account, or a Twitter handle, every digital footprint left generates exposure and adds value to an individual’s personal brand. A personal page aggregates everything into one convenient location for a recruiter to look through. Additionally, like video resumes, a personal page allows you to add creativity and a visual presence in a way a traditional resume cannot. Such sites are quite easy to set up: building a solid fan page on Facebook or a splash page on About.Me or Flavors.Me can be completed in less than half an hour. For those willing to go the extra mile and spend a little cash, purchasing themes, domain names, and outside help can help add a little flair.

The death of the email attachment resume is fast approaching. Thanks to the web, applicants no longer have to submit anything beyond their basic information, for a plethora of information about them is already readily available online and Google-able. It’s not hard to imagine a future job application reduced simply to this:

IMAGE VIA L Hollis Photography

Preventing Unforced Social Recruiting Errors

Written by Omowale Casselle

Usually, one of the key characteristics of champions is that they have an amazing ability to prevent themselves from making unforced errors. Opponents will often try to force you into situations that they can utilize to their advantage. But, if you can do those things that you do well on a consistent basis without making mistakes, you will often come out ahead. As we know, nothing is more important for the sustainable competitive advantage of employers than the ability to continually attract, recruit, and retain top employees.

As we move further and further into the emerging territory of socialization and online recruiting there is an increased opportunity to make unforced errors. The primary reason is that the rules aren’t well defined so both candidates and employers are as awkward as two teenagers on a first date. Each wants to impress the other, yet neither knows exactly what to do or how to do it. This uncertainty is combined with the fact that there are some people who would be totally happy to see you fail.  The key is to stay focused on your employer value proposition and effectively communicate that with candidates.

If not, you’ll find yourself making unforced errors which will compound the already difficult challenges of recruiting in an emerging environment.

So, what are the unforced errors that you should be on the lookout for?

Instigators

As long as people have been interacting in the online environment, there have been a small group of people who are interested in stirring the pot for no other reason than to make others angry. These people who have far too much time on their hands will attempt to take advantage of the increased access to employees to engage in anti-social behavior.  Without discipline, your company can easily end up making an unforced error. This can happen by either engaging in unprofessional back/forth discussions or circular arguments.

To prevent this, you must remember the purpose of your online activity. Your #1 goal is to attract, recruit, and retain the top talent that will increase the competitive advantage of your organization. Anything that is counter to that purpose should be ignored. The immediacy of social media and social networking makes it more likely that instigators will try to bait you into arguments. But, you should take steps to ensure that ambassadors for your organization have the discipline to maintain their composure when engaged by instigators.

Disgruntled Candidates

After going through perhaps a phone screen or an in-person interview, this person has not advanced to the next stage in the process. Unfortunately, they don’t agree with your rationale. So, their goal is to create a scorched earth policy within your current social recruiting efforts. This person will not make it clear that they are a candidate that wasn’t selected. Instead, they will try to use social discussions to highlight perceived flaws within your company that they feel will make your opportunity less attractive to prospective candidates.

It is important to diplomatically take these discussions offline. Not because you are trying to create the impression that your company is without flaws, but instead these people are presenting information about your company without the proper context (rejected candidate who has a score to settle). These discussions can be extremely confusing to prospective candidates and can do significant damage if your employees engage publicly.

Competitors

As we’ve seen from the different anti-poaching agreements that have recently come to light, most employers recognize the need to win the war for talent. Competitors have an opportunity to create unforced errors by using their industry knowledge as well as their understanding of your competitive advantage.

Often, competitors will not have deep insights about what exactly it is like to work at your company. But, their knowledge is dangerous enough to create challenges with your social recruiting efforts. If you are in a discussion with someone who appears to have the level/quality of information as a competitor, it is important to reinforce your unique value proposition. Remember, your competitor is just as convinced that their value proposition is superior to theirs as you are. This is a great opportunity to communicate exactly what your advantages are for prospective candidates. Don’t be tricked into argue your value proposition on their terms.

As an increasing number of employer and candidate interactions happen within the online environment, it is extremely important not to make unforced errors. We see that there can be a variety of different scenarios that might lead you in this direction. What other unforced errors have you seen employers make and what advice do you have for preventing it?

IMAGE VIA chascow

About the AuthorOmowale Casselle (@mySenSay) is the co-founder and CEO of mySenSay. We help top companies and future leaders make better employment decisions.

Fighting the Beast of Unemployment: An Economic Boost is Needed

Repeat after me: there are no magic job wands.

Whether you believe there’s a talent war or not, there are still too many of us out of work. There are shortages of skills, a growing global competitiveness and industries with jobs that will most likely never be heard from again.

But buying into the fairy tale that [insert politician and/or political party of choice here] can and should be the magical job creator that will save us from ourselves only lends us false hope. Unfortunately we’re going to hear a lot of that rhetoric in the next 18 months.

This is just brings false hope that will be defaulted on time and time again. And listen, I’m a Keynesian, one who believes that when the private sector fails miserably – think Great Depression and our very recent economic ice age we’re still thawing from – the public sector needs to take monetary action to try and stabilize the financial markets and get folks back to work in the short term.

I’m not an economist, but I am an econ hobbyist who cares about tempering the beast of business’s destructive nature. Whether you agreed with it or not, short-term public stimulus can help spark long-term job growth if channeled at improving the infrastructure that makes it easier to conduct business in the US and beyond (think trains, planes and automobiles).

But that’s only part of the picture. You also have to have sustainable economic growth and incentives to invest in growing your talent base locally, virtually and globally. And if you have a sound business model, customers and sustainable growth, investors may come a-knockin’ to give you the capital you need to further grow, and maybe, just maybe, hire more talent.

On one of my recent trips across the US I caught up on one of my favorite podcast shows – NPR Planet Money. In one episode titled How do you create a job?, the hosts asked Princeton economist Orley Ashenfelter what he thinks when politicians say they created jobs:

I usually laugh. … When someone says that they are stating a fact: “While I was in office, employment increased by 150,000,” or whatever it increased by. Whether or not you can attribute that to what they did is another, much more difficult question…And by the way, you don’t often hear people say, “I destroyed 150 thousand jobs.”

The true bottom line here is that the government has to appeal to corporate greed. You have to incent business with lower taxes and/or improve the infrastructure in which we conduct business in order to stimulate job growth.

And even then there are no guarantees companies will start hiring. Many are sitting on mounds of cash, investing in stock buybacks, R&D or hiring outside of the US in emerging markets.

It’s called the marginal efficiency of investment – how much of a dollar you invest do you get to keep in profits. Businesses are not in the business of keeping people employed. They’re in the business of making money, and along the way they employ folks as a means to that end. But if you woo the beast, then maybe, just maybe they’ll start hiring, if the cost of paying someone to do a job is less than the output the job produces in revenue. Thankfully there is hiring happening in the US. Not enough to dramatically chip away at the unemployment rate, but it is happening.

I know this all sounds at odds from harmonizing workplace humanity I usually write about. It’s not, though. I’ve learned more about the economics of 21st century life in the past year to fill, well, a lifetime, and I’m a supporter of the Zero Unemployment movement (my recent rants with them were captured on video here and here).

There are no magic job wands. If there were, you know I’d be waving mine.

IMAGE VIA Nieve44/La Luz

Add Productivity to Your Summer Vacation

Written by Kirsten Taggart

Ahhh, summer vacation – my favorite time of year. This summer, however, is a very significant summer as it is my last before I graduate from academia and start my life as a “real” person in May 2012.  Naturally I’ve been thinking about how I can spend my last summer of freedom in a productive, yet fun way.  After talking with my GenY friends about different summer goals, here is my list of how you can make the most out of your summer vacation.

1.  Apply for a Job or Internship

By this point in the year you’ve probably sent in your applications and have started to hear back from potential employers.  No matter what position you decide to take, don’t forget to prepare before your first day.  Map out how long it will take you to get to the office so you can arrive early.  Are you driving or taking public transportation? Check train and bus schedules just in case.  Did they ask you to bring certain items with you?  Gather everything you’ll need the night before so you won’t forget anything on your way out.  Being prepared will help to calm your nerves and stay confident on your big day.

2.  If You’ve Missed Application Deadlines…

…there’s no need to panic. Positions can open up at any time even after the summer rush.  Finding them can be tricky, so maximize your resources.  Who do you know that can help? Are your previous employers still hiring?  Have you checked Craigslist or other job boards? Shoot an email to your professors who might have connections in your field.  There are people willing to help you – you just have to ask!

3.  Learn a New Skill

It’s important to stay mentally active even if you are on vacation. Experts are finding we lose much of our mental agility during long breaks when we aren’t challenging our minds as we normally would at school (because isn’t that what a vacation is for?).  Luckily for us, it doesn’t take much to maintain your wit.  If you’re busy at your job or internship for the majority of your day, make it a point to pick up a newspaper before your morning commute or start that book you’ve been meaning to read (or if you despise reading for some reason, this will do just fine).  If you have more time to spare, why not take on a light summer class? I’m not suggesting you enroll in a hefty physics course by any means (unless you like that kind of stuff, in which case more power to you…) but look into classes that will knock some credits out of the way or are just plain fun.  Why not take that photography/dance/cooking/whatever class you’ve had your eye on? Now’s your chance!

4.  Travel

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it is beautiful outside! Take advantage of the summer weather.  Plan a trip somewhere to escape your weekly routine even if it’s simply exploring a new area of your city or town.  Plan a trip with some friends for a long weekend or, if you’re especially adventurous, set aside a week to travel to a foreign city.  You only live once!

5.  Plan Ahead for Fall

Start thinking about your goals for the upcoming semester.  What do you want to achieve this year?  Send your applications for internships and jobs before the deadline so you’re not rushing at the last minute (there’s nothing more annoying than finding cover letter typos after you submitted it).  Review your class schedule – are there any changes that can be made to better suit your learning habits (i.e. early vs late classes, class on every day of the week or concentrated on only two or three, etc)?  What books do you need to buy?  If you are applying for a job or internship consider how it will fit into your academic calendar and discuss with your employer how you aim to balance both obligations.

IMAGE VIA Giorgio Montersino

Photo: Christina @ wocintechchat.com

8 Secrets to Getting Informational Interviews

Informational interviews have a number of things going against them. They sound boring, ineffective and most importantly are hard to get. However, in reality, they aren’t hard to get at all and, if leveraged effectively, will increase your chances of finding and being considered for jobs, especially the “hidden” ones.

Unfortunately, many job seekers fail to request the interviews properly and as a result, actually turn off or lose the “interviewee” altogether. Here are eight secrets for effectively requesting and successfully getting informational interviews:

1. Email, don’t call. Emailing or sending a message via LinkedIn allows the recipient to choose to respond at their own leisure and doesn’t interrupt their schedule.

2. Make GRAMMAR your new best friend. I know we all use spell-check nowadays, but honestly, proofread anything and everything you write to any professional. It doesn’t matter how well they write, they have a job and you don’t yet, so make sure everything from punctuation to capitalization is perfect. If possible, ask someone else you trust to read your outgoing messages to these professionals just for outside perspective. This is especially important if English is not your first language.

3. Hook them with your subject line. No matter how you know the person you want to contact, the subject of your message has to be personal and direct to catch their attention and move them to read it. If you don’t know the person, consider using “John – Question from a Student” or “John – Request for Informational Interview.” If you do know them, I recommend “John – Request from Chris Perry” or if you don’t know them personally, but went to the same college or have something in common, I recommend something along the lines of “John – Request from a W&M Student.”

4. Briefly introduce yourself. In a short first paragraph, state your name, who you are and what you are doing. Remember, busy people don’t have time to read long messages. Keep it short, sweet and to the point.

5. Command the common ground. If someone who knows them has referred you or you have something significant in common with the person (i.e. college, professional organization), make sure to include this at the end of your first paragraph or at the beginning of your second. A stronger connection or link between you both can only help you get the interview.

6. They know you want a job, so don’t ask for one! In your next paragraph, this is where you make the direct request for the informational interview; however, DON’T ask them upfront for help to get you a job in their company, as they already know you’re interested in opportunities in their company or you wouldn’t be contacting them. I recommend you make it more about them and ask them for the opportunity to speak about THEIR career, how THEY got involved in it, THEIR company and/or its culture.

7. NEVER send your resume to them with your initial request. This looks presumptuous and inconsiderate and your resume just implies that you expect them to take time to look at it and more time to send it to the right person BEFORE they have even had a chance to “yes” or “no” to your request. If you are emailing them, include a link to your LinkedIn profile in your signature, and if you are sending a message via LinkedIn, there is no need, as you are already on that network. Let them be the one that request more information from you.

8. Don’t Forget Your Contact Info. Make sure to have a professional email/message signature with all possible methods of contact listed. This way, you look good, but they can also get in touch with you in whatever way they prefer. You might even tastefully include a link to your LinkedIn profile, personal website or other supporting media online. This is more appropriate than a resume, because it offers them the option of seeking more info about you.

Chris Perry, MBA is a Gen Y brand and marketing generator, a career search and personal branding expert and the founder of Career Rocketeer, Launchpad, Blogaristo and more.

How to Evaluate Your Current Company Culture

Many job seekers are now evaluating prospective employers based on company culture. Candidates want to determine how they will fit in and if the environment is right for them before they’re hired.

As you may know, company culture varies based on several factors. Although some companies don’t focus on the culture within the organization, every company has a culture whether they like it or not. Take a look at the following—each is part of the company culture at your organization:

  • Employees
  • Company size
  • Environment
  • Policies
  • Procedures
  • Mission
  • Values
  • Attitudes
  • Employee commitment
  • Communication
  • Common behaviors
  • Relationships
  • Leadership
  • Recruiting
  • Support

In order to determine whether your culture is working at your organization, you need to first evaluate the current culture. Ask yourself the following:

  • How do employees within the organization handle conflict?
  • How well do employees work together?
  • Are workers encouraged to speak up and identify problems?
  • Does the company address problems head on?
  • How do the company values play into the culture?
  • Are employees rewarded for performance? How?
  • What does the company, as a whole, value?
  • How does the company deal with new ideas?
  • Does the organization encourage employees
  • What are the company hiring and firing processes? How do these affect the culture?

Is the culture in at your organization less than satisfactory? There are ways to improve upon it—here’s how:

Decide how you want it to look in the future

What needs to be changed? How do you want your ideal culture to look after these changes occur? Keep in mind that every company will not (and should not) have the same company culture, although you can certainly be inspired by another company’s culture in some ways.

Review the organization’s mission, vision and values

Is the culture aligned with the overall mission? Are company values mirrored in the culture? If not, how can you integrate company mission, vision and values better?

What else can employers do to evaluate (and improve upon) company culture at their organization?

IMAGE VIA Davide Boyle in DC

Social Networking For Career Success

Today’s post is by Miriam Salpeter — owner of Keppie Careers. She teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to leverage social media, writes resumes and helps clients succeed with their goals. Miriam writes for U.S. News & World Report’s “On Careers” column, CNN named her a “top 10 job tweeter you should be following” and Monster.com included her in “The Monster 11 for 2011: Career Experts Who Can Help Your Search.” She blogs at KeppieCareers.com and GetASocialResume.com.

Why do companies hire the people they hire? Is it always because the selected candidate is the absolute best qualified to do the job? It’s hard to quantify, but my guess is probably not. Hiring is a complicated art involving selecting a person to do a job, but, often more importantly, someone who is a good “fit” for the role.

Think about interviewing someone to join your family – someone you need to see and spend a lot of time with for the conceivable future. You may be interested in particular skills, depending on your family’s culture. (Cooking? Softball? Driving?) At the end of the day, you probably want to select the one who won’t annoy or embarrass you; someone willing to pitch in (even if it is not his or her job), the candidate who can communicate – and who people like to be around.

It’s not surprising to learn these emotional intelligence skills are gaining more focus and impacting job seekers. A quick definition is in order. Here is one that I like and is easy to understand from Mike Poskey, VP of Zerorisk HR, Inc:

Emotional Intelligence…is defined as a set of competencies demonstrating the ability one has to recognize his or her behaviors, moods and impulses, and to manage them best according to the situation.

Companies are incorporating emotional intelligence into their hiring processes, with good reason. The Sodexo(one of the largest food services and facilities management companies in the world) blog reminds readers that “businesses that will succeed in the 21st century will be the ones that allow employees to bring the whole of their intelligence into the work force – their emotional and intellectual self. Not only does this impact morale, but productivity increases, too.” A recent study from Virginia Commonwealth University shows that “high emotional intelligence does have a relationship to strong job performance — in short, emotionally intelligent people make better workers.”

To be successful in a job hunt, you not only need to demonstrate an association between what the employer wants and your skills and accomplishments, you need to be able to tell your story in a way that makes it obvious you have the emotional intelligence/emotional quotient (EI/EQ – or soft skills) to fit in. Companies want to hire a candidate who will work well in the team; they all seek someone who will contribute and get the job done with finesse. Most seek employees they will trust to represent the company graciously. No one wants to be embarrassed.

This is why social media is such a great tool for job seekers. A job seeker with a pristine online portfolio and nothing questionable in her digital footprint makes a strong case for actually being someone who knows how to negotiate the digital world where we all function.

Using social networking tools to illustrate your expertise can provide entree into a network of professionals writing and talking about the topics important for you and your field. If, for example, you write a blog to showcase your knowledge of the restaurant industry, or use Twitter and Facebook to be sure people understand you know a lot about finance, you have a chance to connect with multitudes of potential contacts, any one of whom may connect you to the person you need to know to land an opportunity.

At the same time you demonstrate your expertise online and grow your network, you are also giving people a taste of the type of person you may be in person. Granted, some people have a distinct online-only persona. Many of us know people who seem mean and spiteful online and are amazing friends in person. Certainly, the opposite is possible.

However, for the most part, it’s safe to assume how people act and communicate online represents how they behave in person. When we get to know people via social media, by sharing tweets (including those all important personal tweets about what we’re eating, watching, and doing for the weekend), trading comments on blog posts, and keeping in touch via Facebook and LinkedIn, we are part of the longest job interview – with a very long “tail.”

No doubt, for some people, social media is dangerous for their job search. The people who aren’t attentive to details (and don’t untag themselves in inappropriate photos), the ones with short tempers and no filter who share every thought, and those who complain about people or things and appear excessively negative online. In an environment where employers are reviewing digital footprints, those people, who are not illustrating high levels of emotional intelligence, may have difficulty landing jobs.

The flip side? If you know your business, connect and share easily online, make new friends and contacts, and try to give at least as much as you hope to receive, social media may be just the “social proof” you need to help you stand out from the crowd.

My book, Social Networking for Career Success, shows you how to leverage the “big three” tools (LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook), and describes how blogging and many other social media tools can help job seekers distinguish themselves. Learn more at www.socialnetworkingforcareersuccess.com. Download a free chapter HERE.

Miriam Salpeter, MA
Coach, Speaker, Author

Empowering Success
http://www.keppiecareers.com

Take a look at what people are saying about Social Networking for Career Success, just released by Learning Express, LLC. Copies are available from Amazon or your favorite bookseller.

IMAGE VIA www.socialnetworkingforcareersuccess.com/

5 Steps for Career Branding: Make Employers Come to You

In your job search, you, the job seeker, seek out the employer, but that doesn’t have to be the case throughout your entire career.  There are many ways that you can brand yourself to stand out, increase your visibility in front of career stakeholders and inevitably make employers come to you.

Here are just 5 ways you can change the game and get employers to come to you:

1. Start Blogging: Starting and maintaining your own blog requires investment and commitment of your time, energy and creativity.  While you can choose to blog on any topic you desire, focusing your blog’s theme and content to better serve your industry can be an outstanding way to show off your personal brand and demonstrate your unique value to potential employers and career stakeholders.  Not only can this blog be a great entrepreneurial venture to include on your resume and online profiles, but it shows your hiring managers and interviewers industry involvement and contribution outside of your full-time experience.  Blogs are very easy to get started.  There are both free and self-hosted platforms to choose from, including WordPress, Blogger and Typepad.

2. Get Quoted: Whether or not you start your own blog or contribute guest posts regularly to industry-related blogs, getting quoted online in blogs and other online magazines or offline in books or other periodicals on a topic relevant and valuable to your industry and target employers adds a new credential for you to taut in your job search, but also really boosts your personal brand for your long-term career.  HelpaReporter.com (HARO) is a FREE service that links reporters, journalists, bloggers and authors with experts and experts-to-be to get quoted in print or online media.  Sign-up to receive daily queries from HARO and respond as often as possible and appropriate to any related to your field or areas of interest.  Before long, you may be quoted in the Wall Street Journal, a published book or interviewed for leading blog, which will increase your credibility  across your network and beyond.

3. Get to the People Behind the Postings: Most job seekers and professionals neglect informational interviews, likely because they sound boring, hard to get, ineffective and/or all of the above.  Informational interviews are actually powerfully effective both in your job search and in your career networking.  By reaching out and asking for a few minutes to learn about a fellow professional’s career, experience and advice (Note: this does not mean asking for a job), you get a chance to introduce yourself and your brand, share your value and make a stronger connection with someone new.  While this person may not be in the position to hire or ready to hire at the time of your interview, you are now on that individual’s radar and maybe a first go-to candidate for the next opportunity that comes up.

4. Offer Your Ideas: If you’re willing to put a little work into targeted job searches and take a small, calculated risk, you might consider doing a little research for your chosen company, identify the right contacts within and offer them a free proposal of fresh ideas related to trends and opportunities in the industry or functional area.  Consider sharing some relevant case studies that support your suggestions and spark more thought.  It will be essential that you really think these through in putting them together and that they be grammatically correct etc., as these may be someone’s first or last impression of you.  Offering your ideas or suggestions is risky in the sense that it opens the door for rejection or no response; however, it immediately shows the recipient your investment, your creativity 7and ultimately the value you offer the organization.

5. Step Up to the Podium: If you like the opportunity to speak publically and have something relevant to share with your peers, whether it be advice, experience or case studies, consider developing a presentation or presentations that you can pitch to present for various industry associations, alumni groups and other organizations.  Whether they are webinars or in-person events, presenting to an audience sets you apart as a confident thought leader who has true value to share with others, whether it be an audience or an employer.  Do a little background research on both what organizations and associations are out there and exactly what topics and events are currently being offered so to determine how you could offer something to serve unmet needs or compliment their current event programing.

Chris Perry, MBA is a Gen Y brand and marketing generator, a career search and personal branding expert and the founder of Career Rocketeer, Launchpad, Blogaristo and more.

How to Blog Without a Blog

While many students and professionals have jumped into the blogosphere to share their POV with the world on different topics, industries and areas of interest, some out there are more hesitant to make the investment and commitment to full-time blogging.

This may be due in part to them a) not knowing how to build and maintain a blog, b) not knowing exactly what to write about and/or c) not knowing whether they will have the time and energy necessary to keep it updated on a regular basis.

However, what most people don’t know is that you don’t have to start and maintain your own individual blog to share your POV and your personal brand online.  There are several ways you can start contributing immediately to bloggerdom and working your way up to potentially owning and managing your own blog down the road.

  • Commenting: Commenting on others’ blog posts can help you start networking and engaging your name and opinion with other bloggers.  Pick a couple blogs to follow on a weekly basis and contribute your comment.  Make sure you always add value to each post.  You can also use Google Alerts to flag new posts containing specific keywords.
  • HARO: HelpaReporter.com (HARO) is FREE tool that connects professionals and students with bloggers, journalists, writers and authors seeking sources for their articles and publications.  This is a great way to get interviewed and quoted across various blogs and other media outlets.  It also becomes a nice credential to feature in interviews and career networking.
  • Twitter: Micro-blogging using services and platforms like Twitter gives you the opportunity to share your thoughts and opinions, link your followers to valuable resources, articles and other information online and work your way up to more substantial blog contributions.
  • Guest Blogging: For those of you who want to try your hand at full-length articles, consider contributing a periodic guest post to one or more blogs in your industry.  It’s best to reach out to the blog owners and ask permission first.  This will start a relationship with them, but will also allow you to customize your content to their needs.
  • Team Blogging: If you’re ready for more regular contributions, reach out to a team blog and ask to join as a weekly or more regular contributor.  You can also start your own team blog if you can recruit some fellow bloggers to join you.  This will help you all share the load and commitment while giving all of your personal brands exposure to new audiences.

Once you get a good feel for contributing, if you decide you’re ready to launch your own blog, I definitely recommend you use the WordPress blogging platform.

There are two versions of WordPress: WordPress-hosted and self-hosted.

You can host your blog for free with the WordPress-hosted version via WordPress OR for a monthly fee with the self-hosted version via third-party web host. You may think this is a no-brainer and that you should go with the free WordPress-hosted version. Do what you please, but the WordPress-hosted version leaves you with less control over your blog and will end up costing you more in the end due to the fees WordPress charges for any customizations you may desire (including adding your own custom domain name and your own themes and designs).

I recommend you go with the self-hosted version and check out Page.ly which is an easy-to-use hosting service that will help you get your new WordPress blog up and running in a matter of minutes.

Chris Perry, MBA is a Gen Y brand and marketing generator, a career search and personal branding expert and the founder of Career Rocketeer, Launchpad, Blogaristo and more.

The Power of Headlines: Captivate to Enhance Career Search

You may know about Newser.com. This is the news aggregation site that summarizes the news item in a catchy two paragraph lead in, and then gives you the deeper links so you can see the original article. The site wins because of clever editing, headline writing and artwork selection. Try it for a few days and see if you are more addicted to the news.

How does this apply to your job search?

There are a couple of learnings here. First, it really demonstrates that we are a nation of fast skimmers and headline readers. So, next time you slave over the wording on page three of your resume, forget it. Most hiring managers people may even get that far. They give your resume 20 seconds. Next, it also shows the importance of having a voice in your communication efforts, resume or cover letter.

Let your personality shine through.  This is one area that is almost never discussed in the career arena. It’s almost like we all become professionalized and non-personal. Newser’s editor have a bit of an attitude, certainly a voice that comes through on each news item. Does your cover letter show something important? Anything valuable?

Your career is filled with Newser-style artwork and headlines. We know this. How would you create a Newser style resume using artwork and short headlines? It might give you some new ideas on how to present yourself to get noticed.

I realize that certain people are going to cringe at these ideas. Still, for some of you, your resumes are BORING. It occurs to me that one needs to stand out and be a bit different. So why not try?

First place to start would be your headlines, those phrases that break up all those accomplishments and objectives. Those are what the hiring managers, recruiters and HR profesionals read, don’t forget. So, take a tip from Newser, and spend more time on them.

To get started, here are 20 tips from How To Write Headlines by Leo Babauta:

Catchy  The first job of a headline is to grab the reader’s attention. It should do so appropriately and honestly, of course, but the headline is the way that you draw a reader into a story. If it doesn’t grab attention, it doesn’t matter what else the headline does. However, do not overdo it — if your reader is drawn to the story, and the headline oversold it, the reader will feel cheated and swindled. That’s not exactly the emotion you want to incite in your readers, I would guess. My note: There is a difference between catchy, clever and just weird.  Find the balance.

Be useful  The best headline will tell the reader what he will get out of reading this story. Will it teach you something you’ve always wanted to learn? Will it help you become smarter, stronger, better looking, better in bed? Will it help you become more informed? Will it give you the juicy gossip you’ve been craving? Whatever the story will do, it should have some use to the reader. The more useful, the better. My Note:  If the job description is clear on what they want, work that into the headline.

The main point  The headline should summarize the main point of an article. This is another of the headline’s biggest jobs (some would argue the biggest job). So to write the headline, you need to read over the article (or re-read it, if you wrote it) and figure out what the main point of the article is — and if it’s well written, that shouldn’t be too hard. If you don’t get the main point, or think that there’s 3 or 4 main points, the article hasn’t done its job. It should be rewritten. But at any rate, find that main point and summarize it in the headline. My note:  what is the ONE thing you are most proud of.  Announce that.

Curiosity  The best headlines will summarize a story, but leave you curious to find out more. “Why You Should Care About Technorati” or “The Secret to Making the Perfect Snowball” will leave some readers wanting more (maybe not all of you). My note: or why should they give you an interview, to find out MORE…

Succinct  Wordy headlines will lose a lot of readers. Sure, people should be able to read 15 little words, but they expect to get their info quickly. Don’t ask me why. Shorten a headline down to 5-10 words, eliminating all that’s unnecessary.

Controversy  There’s no better guarantee of catching a reader’s attention than to stir up a little controversy. Be bold, dare to incite a little indignation, or get the pulse racing just a bit. Don’t be moronic about it though. You don’t need to incite a riot. My note:  Here is where you can think about solving a problem they might have.

Specifics  Specific headlines are better than vague ones. Throw in a detail or two that will catch a reader’s interest — but don’t throw in the kitchen sink. This is why numbers in headlines work, no matter how many people hate them. You’re not going to give me “A bunch of tips” but instead “10 tips”. My note: key in any sales situation “Specificity sells.”

Magazines  If you want to get inspiration, look at the cover of magazines. Half the time they get them wrong, but sometimes you’ll find a great headline. I hate it when they oversell a story, but those magazine editors sure know how to write sexy headlines. Skip the Enquirer — they oversell. But magazines know the secret of headlines: it’s the headlines (and the sexy model) that sell the magazine. Same thing with your blog headlines.

Blogs  This should go without saying, but I’ll say it nonetheless — read good blogs. The successful blogs got where they are because they provide awesome content with headlines to match. And blogs that have been successful for some time have usually perfected the craft. Use them for inspiration.

The How To  There is probably no type of headline more likely to do well than the How To headline. Start a headline with those two words, and follow them with a skill that many people would like to learn, and you’ve got a winner. Well, most of the time. Don’t overdo it.  My note:  how to solve your problem in customer service will be better than 95% of the resumes that company gets today.

Lists, with numbers  Yes, they’re overdone, but that’s because they work. Look at a list of the most popular articles on delicious or Digg, and you’ll find list headlines — at least a few. I overdo them, actually, because just about every post I write has a list. It’s just the way I think. And if my post has a list, my headline will likely have a list as well. I had to resist suggesting a list headline for this post. “20 Tips for Writing Great Headlines”

Write several versions  Challenge yourself to write the best headline possible. Don’t just go with your first attempt. Write that down, then do 3 or 4 more tries. Test each headline by saying it out loud. Look over these guidelines and see if any of them will help the headline. Say it out loud to your spouse or best friend or your mom. Which one catches their attention? Sometimes a clever headline will sound confusing to others.My note:  you should have a new resume for every job you want, done after you have done the research.

Question headline  Sometimes the best headline poses a question. It makes the reader want to find the answer. Or it alerts the reader to an interesting debate. Give the question headline a try — it might work for your article. My note: or resume.

Write a command headline  Tell the reader what to do. Sometimes a command headline can be too bossy — but other times, it’s just the advice the reader was looking for.

Be detached  In print journalism, a detached editor writes the headline. The writer is too close to the story, and is biased. She thinks every word is important, every point is the main point. And no headline is good enough. If you’re writing your own blog headlines, you should become detached. Write a headline, leave it for awhile, come back to it. Try to see it as an outsider would see it — someone who hasn’t read your article yet.  My note: friends, spouses and even HR people are great add-on readers. Just ask.

Find balance  You need to find the middle line between being boring and being crazy. It’s not always easy. “20 Ways to Write a Great Headline” is better than “Headline Writing” but not as strong as “Write a Perfect Headline or Your Blog Will Fail and So Will You”.

Key verb  Try this exercise: find a strong verb that best fits the story. Then find other words in the story to go around the verb to form a sentence that summarizes the story. Then shorten that sentence to make a great headline.  My note: this takes work and should include a dictionary, at least.

Short, active words  Prefer short words to long ones, and active words to passive ones. Avoid jargon and acronyms. And feel free to be creative and break any of these rules if it works.

Double check  Before you go to print with your article (or press “Publish”), check over your headline again. Read it for spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, punctuation mistakes, factual mistakes (the headline is the worst place to make these mistakes). Make sure it makes sense, and that it does its job.

Write it first  Don’t save the headline for last. It’s too important, and when you’re done with a post you just want to write the darn headline and be done with it. Write the headline first — this allows you to know your main point before you even start writing. Then rewrite the headline later, and give it some time to get right.

Creating an Interactive Personal Brand

More and more people are talking about the importance of personal branding both in your career search and in your career development. Effective personal branding not only makes you stand out from the crowd to employers and recruiters; it can also increase your job security by communicating your value as a leader and team player to your organization.

What is personal branding?

Personal branding is the process of identifying the unique and differentiating value that you can bring to an organization, team and/or project, and communicating it in a professionally memorable and consistent manner in all of your actions and outputs, both online and offline, to all current and prospective stakeholders in your career.

Everyone has a unique personal brand. You communicate your own brand in everything you do — whether you know it or not. It is important to remember that personal branding is so much more than what you put on your social networks or what you write on a blog.

It’s who you are inside and out, online AND offline. Your personal brand is your reputation.

How do you create your personal brand?

1)     Write down your differentiating strengths (those you feel make you stand out from the rest)

2)     Ask your friends, family and colleagues/managers to do the same

3)     Identify the top 3 to 5 strengths that you feel will support the career direction you want to pursue

4)     Create/find a word or phrase that can become your personal brand and that represents these strengths

5)     Develop a short pitch that can follow your brand, describing your strengths in more detail

Note: Ensure that your word or phrase is versatile and can change with your direction

How do you build your personal brand?

There are many ways that you can build and communicate your personal brand both online and in-person; however, to get you started, here are some topline recommendations for establishing your brand and credibility in today’s career marketplace:

Get active and get visible online and offline: If no one meets you or sees you, it won’t matter how strong your personal brand is.  Therefore, it is essential that you get your name and yourself in front of your target network.  Here are some ways to increase your visibility:

  • Create a LinkedIn profile and follow the suggested steps to complete your profile 100%, making sure you include your personal brand and pitch in your subtitle and summary sections
  • Create a Google account and profile for improved search engine optimization
  • Include your personal brand on your resume, cover letter, business cards, email signature, voicemail message and across your other social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook
  • Consider creating a personal website or blog site where you can house all of your information, including experience, education, skills, honors, entrepreneurial efforts and more
  • Join associations or networking groups within your industry and try attending their events to meet new contacts and build your target network.  Be sure to share your personal brand with those new contacts you meet
  • Conduct informational interviews with target network contacts (whether or not you’re seeking a job) and share your personal brand with them in your introductions

Contribute consistent value: Make sure that everything you contribute is valuable to those with whom you share it and also relevant to and supportive of your personal brand.  Consistency is critical, for the more consistent all of your own marketing efforts are both online and offline, the more powerful and memorable your personal brand impression will be on all current and prospective stakeholders in your career.  Here are some ways you start contributing value:

  • Book or product reviews
  • Tweets
  • Comments on other blog posts
  • Blog articles or articles for print publications
  • Discussions in LinkedIn Groups or in other forums
  • Advice via LinkedIn Answers and other forums

Become a thought leader: As you grow the quantity, quality and uniqueness of your contributions, you may be increasingly considered as an industry thought leader.  Here are some ways to support and even expedite your rise to thought leadership:

  • Start your own blog with a unique POV on your industry/area of interest
  • Found a company with relevant and valuable products/services/resources for the industry
  • Publish and offer print and/or electronic publications
  • Get quoted in the media by joining HARO and contributing advice, experiences and insights to writers and journalists seeking expert sources
  • Find ways to bring fellow industry thought leaders together on a project or at an event
  • Find ways to contribute to the projects or events of fellow industry experts
  • Get recommended on LinkedIn and any other networks where you or your offerings are available and/or collect and display testimonials from customers, clients and partners

Chris Perry, MBA is a Gen Y brand and marketing generator, a career search and personal branding expert and the founder of Career Rocketeer, Launchpad, Blogaristo and more.

How I Found My Job on LinkedIn and How You Can Too

Being as passionate as I am about social media’s ever-growing role in the career search process, I proudly thank LinkedIn, one of my favorite social media networking tools, for helping me obtain my current position.

How I Found My Job on LinkedIn

In my career search last year, I felt that I had reached a dead-end, having attended a major career fair, applied for countless positions online, and seemingly exhausted my MBA alumni network without any success.

I was on LinkedIn at that point, but hadn’t taken it too seriously.  Feeling that I had nothing to lose, I spent some time searching Google and reading various LinkedIn job search success stories and started applying some of what I learned to my own efforts.

First, I followed LinkedIn’s steps to complete my profile 100%, adding a professional headshot, all of my relevant work experience and a personal brand summary.  I went beyond LinkedIn’s suggested 3 recommendations and requested as many recommendations as possible from classmates, professors and previous colleagues.  I joined a number of LinkedIn networking groups, including both those related to the job search, as well as those related to my industry, in order to open the doors to a greater network.  I then identified companies of interest within my chosen industry using LinkedIn’s Companies feature.  By doing this, I came across both my employer and some of its employees listed in its company profile.  While none of them then were first, second or third degree contacts, because I had joined several LinkedIn groups, one of the employees had a “Group Member” icon next to his name meaning that we were members of the same networking group.  It turned out that sharing a group gave me access to send him a message.  I did just that and requested 15-20 minutes of his time for an informational interview to discuss the company and his career path.  He generously agreed, and at the end of our call, he offered to share my resume internally.  This resulted in an invitation to interview with the company and, later, the offer for my current position.

How You Can Find Your Job on LinkedIn

1)     Complete Your Profile 100% – Not only does completing your profile 100% help you rise higher in LinkedIn People searches, but it also makes you look more professional.  First impressions matter, and your LinkedIn profile may be the first impression you make on a potential employer or career contact.

2)     Get Recommended – Request as many recommendations as is appropriate from your colleagues, classmates, professors, partners or clients.  They don’t have to be long like traditional recommendations; they just need to be genuine and supportive of your personal brand.

3)     Build Your Network – Make sure to connect with all of your current and previous contacts.  You may also choose to get involved in open networking, which involves connecting with both those professionals you know and those you don’t.  Also, join relevant LinkedIn groups, including alumni groups, industry-specific groups, interest groups and more.  These efforts will increase the size of your network, but may also allow you to message more contacts regarding potential opportunities.

4)     Get Active – Start being active and contributing value from Day 1.  Share interesting news with your network via status updates, post links to intriguing articles and join in discussions in your groups, offer insightful answers to questions on LinkedIn’s Answers forum, add your blog feed or share your recommended reading list with profile applications.  This will increase your visibility on LinkedIn and will help you share and enhance your personal brand in front of your network.

5)     Search Jobs – Don’t forget that LinkedIn has its own job board of listings you can browse.  Many of the opportunities list the individual and/or company that posted them.  This makes it easier to apply for positions and simultaneously identify the appropriate contacts with whom to follow up and network. Also check the discussion and job boards on the groups you are in, as many opportunities are posted there by fellow group members.

6)     Follow Company Activity – You can now choose to follow the activities of specific companies by visiting their profiles and clicking the “Follow Company” link.  This can be a great research tool to help you stay on top of recent news, job listings, new hires and more.

Taking the above steps on LinkedIn can substantially improve your prospects for finding potential job opportunities and career contacts.  However, it is important to keep in mind that no amount of social media engagement can replace the traditional avenues for finding a job.  At the same time that you are optimizing your LinkedIn profile, you should be updating your resume, tailoring your cover letter to specific positions, requesting informational interviews, attending networking events and meeting new contacts and seeking unique online and offline ways to promote your personal brand.

So many job seekers assume that social media will be a magic solution and forget to maintain or use the other skills necessary to effectively pursue an opportunity.  From my own experience, you can see that I used LinkedIn as both a personal branding and networking tool to impress and get connected with the right contact within my target company.  However, once connected, I leveraged my interview skills in both my initial informational interview and then my official in-person interview to help seal the deal.

Do you have a story of how you leveraged both social media and the more traditional job search strategies to secure a new opportunity? Please share yours with us.

Chris Perry, MBA is a Gen Y brand and marketing generator, a career search and personal branding expert and the founder of Career Rocketeer, Launchpad, Blogaristo and more.

5 Positively Propelling Job Search Tips

A bit like a visit to the dentist, my encounters with clients often occur when their job search pain outweighs the resistance to the medicinal salve and career healing that our collaboration will provide. Similar to how a person bears a toothache via self-service workarounds—chewing on the opposite side of the mouth where the cracked molar resides or tempering an infected tooth’s pain with daily Ibuprofen doses—these short-term fixes eventually give way to deeper dive procedures to meaningfully stem the pain and to prevent further, more damaging infection and loss.

Understandably, individuals who contact me for career services initially indulge in anxiety-filled, self-absorbed conversations that evoke their throbbing career search pain. Like a temporary crown or a prescription drug to reduce the swelling, our initial conversations and targeted homework act as an initial salve to calm frayed nerves and lessen the most dominating hurt.

Helping steer a more direct route: repairing tattered listening skills and settling scattered thoughts, bringing about the realization they are no longer alone on this wilderness journey, a tumultuous voyage filled with roadblocks, potholes and danger signs, one unlike which they may have EVER encountered in their corporate climb up the career ladder, is just part of the journey we undertake.

Bottom line: Calming one’s nerves and regaining positivity and forward-momentum are fundamental to an optimistically focused job search. Though assuaged nerves and a focus on positivity are essential to a job search in a sea of opportunity, many people remain landlocked, shackled by negativity and with no intention of changing.

In a recent article by TalentCulture Founder Meghan M. Biro, she discusses “finding your intent” and making “every action resonate with the intent to do something positive to improve your workplace.” I would like to extend this idea further to individuals in career transition (who are often dealing with the emotional ache of job search), to encourage them to make every action resonate with the intent to improve not only their unemployed situation but also to elevate their energy and attitude. This intention knits so intimately into the job search process and impacts the results.

Having personally experienced the storms of loss in the past 10 years, I can tell you there are MANY ways to empower oneself following a major blow to one’s ego and financial-sustaining foundation.

1.  Adjust and then manage your expectations: Job search often requires hours of mind-stumping retooling. Don’t give up! Like a persnickety motor on your automobile (or in my husband’s and my experience, our sailboat), you may find yourself investing energy and finances into a variety of resources, only to find that when you turn the key, ‘kerplunk,’ your job search engine fails to start.

2.  Adjust your plan: Current action steps not working? Search for NEW ways to achieve traction, one feat at a time.

  • If this means deep-sixing non-traction-inducing action steps that you had etched firmly into your 15-page job-search success plan, do it!  You can always return to your well-thought-out and expertly drawn up action plan later, but in the meantime, do not become so attached to it that you cannot adjust.
  • In the case of the non-functioning sailboat motor, my husband and I relented control (and perceived expense) and invested in a new motor and an expert to install this new engine. As a result, we have been sailing into the sunset for nearly a year following our outlay! Job seekers, perhaps there are outside resources into which you may invest both intellectual and financial resources that will help restart your job search motor. Shift your thinking from “cost” to “investment” in yourself!

3.  Identify one new actionable item to try, then just DO. Reach out to others who’ve been there/done that, and ask THEM what worked in THEIR job search. Try to avoid feeling overwhelmed, since they may espouse a list of 10+ must-try action steps that delivered their job-landing miracle. Instead, really listen to their suggestions, brainstorm with them, and then pluck just one suggestion that resonates. Then DO IT; implement the idea, even if it means moving outside of your comfort zone. You will be surprised at the impact of just ONE new to-do item may have!

4.  Transform yourself and your career value. Yes, you already may have five, 10, perhaps even 20 years of value dripping from your career arsenal. This is GREAT! Now think: what more can I learn? Where might I boost my learning, expand my credentials and grow my experience to add value to my target audience (hiring decision-maker)?

  • Enroll in a class (in-person or Internet-based) that will develop your mind in subjects attractive to your focus audience. If your target audience is technical, take a computer course. Are you vying for healthcare-related roles? Find a class centered on medical issues. You get the drift. Identify relevant class work that will nourish your mind while expanding your worth to your target audience.
  • Volunteer your talent with an organization that intrinsically requires that you learn as you contribute. When I began my career in career management, I joined the local Society of Human Resources Management chapter and immediately volunteered to join a committee. Within weeks, I was committed to attending monthly Marketing Committee meetings.
  • Volunteer your talent, plus assume a leadership role! After a couple of years contributing as a SHRM chapter committee member, I was tapped as Marketing Committee Chair. For about six years, I invested intellectual capital into this human-resources-focused endeavor as a way to learn with and from like-minded professionals, individuals who reciprocally harbored intellectual capital that was of value to my clients and me. At the same time, I was able to give back, leveraging my writing and creative marketing talent. In this way (and of value to me), I nurtured my leadership skills.

5.  Invest in yourself and your career management. I would be remiss not to mention (based on my passion and belief in the absolute value of the written word) that career reinvention begins with your own introspection and precision-focused career positioning documents. A well-articulated story is the springboard from which all career conversations emanate. Placing value on yourself, your career and the investment in building meaningful, quality-centered communications is integral in a successful and smooth job search process.

Unplugging from negativity and intending to create and surround oneself with positivity will inevitably improve your job search and career advancement efforts and will ultimately elevate the corporate community and culture within which you contribute. With an eye on what can be instead of the obstacles, most of us can create new opportunity arteries instead of letting economic and social blockages impede us. Many how-to paths are available for us to explore; go exploring today!

Making the Most of Informational Interviews

I got my current position by starting with an informational interview, and so, I know how effective they can be.  However, I have talked with many job seekers who, while aware of the benefits, were not 100% sure how to make the very most of information interviews in their own career search process.

Therefore, I have reached out to career experts across the web for their recommendations on how to take advantage of informational interviews and how to get the most out of them.

Be prepared. We all know that fortune favors the well-prepared. Come to the informational interview with a list of intelligent comments and/or questions. Just having the list will diminish the stress of the interview. Secondly, it will lend structure and demonstrate good organizational skills on your part. You may not have time to discuss each item on your list, but your will certainly exemplify your seriousness-of-purpose. First impressions in such situations often lead to job offers. – Dr. Marlene Caroselli, Caroselli.biz

Really pick their brains! You’ll get the most out of an informational interview if you really take the opportunity to pick their brains and ask questions that will give you an insider’s glimpse into the position. This gives you the opportunity to ask some questions that might otherwise be considered taboo during a job interview. What’s a typical day like? What do they like most and least about their work? What do they like about working for that company? Would they do anything differently earlier in their career? How do they recommend breaking in to the field? Of course err on the side of caution if you think a question may be too personal, but you should definitely ask questions that show that you are genuinely curious and excited about the field. – Laurie Berenson, SterlingCareerConcepts.com

Don’t ask for a job! Most people make that mistake in their anxiety to try to turn the informational interview into a job interview.  The person that the candidate is speaking with knows that the caller is looking for a job and if there is a match he or she will figure out how to use their skills.  I always recommend to clients that I’m coaching to ask the person lots of questions about how they got started in the field and where the field is going.  At the beginning of the interview, keep the focus on the person that you’re interviewing.  The trick is to then artfully bring the conversation around to the skills of the caller or interviewer.  – Ron Katz, PenguinHR.com

Aim high, but also aim lower. Go for someone who is a few rungs above you on the food chain. Job hunters sometimes go for the big cheese. That’s OK as they may be able to offer you a job, but if they don’t have any openings, it’s less effective. They often are out of touch in terms of how to get a job and what it takes to be at the lower level. – David Couper, DavidCouperCoach.com

Ask for referrals. If you have identified and secured an informational interview with someone in a company, functional area or industry in which you are interested, they are most likely connected with others in similar positions, companies and industries with whom you might also like to interview.  If appropriate, ask them at the end of the interview if they know any contacts to whom they could refer you who might be able to share more experiences and insights in your chosen field etc.  These referrals not only make it easier to schedule the next informational interview, but if within the same company, can also help you build a network of champions who might go to bat for you at the next opportunity. – Chris Perry, CareerRocketeer.com

Offer to help them. This is common courtesy, but very rarely done. Always ask before you conclude an informational interview “How can I help you?”   – Paul Copcutt, SquarePegSolution.com

Thank you to all of the experts who contributed to this wealth of interview insight!

Chris Perry, MBA is a Gen Y brand and marketing generator, a career search and personal branding expert and the founder of Career Rocketeer, Launchpad, Blogaristo and more.

Make Like Madonna And Reinvent Yourself

Written by Kirsten Taggart

It’s been almost thirty years since Madonna claimed fame as an international pop-icon, and at 52 years old, she continues to top the charts.  Needless to say, Madonna has come a long way since her Like a Virgin years, yet she has never lost her knack for catching the public’s eye. Yet Madonna is more than just a talented singer – she has mastered the art of reinventing herself. Like this pop star, it’s important for job seekers to know how to appeal to their audience (employers) and stand out in the crowded field of candidates.  With these three tips inspired by Madonna, you’ll be transformed into a corporate rockstar in no time.

Though it barely needs to be said, Madonna is an innovation leader.  She is constantly one step ahead of her industry and I attribute this to her ability to follow her passion while adapting to the times.  Even if you’re not a superstar, following her recipe for success is simple: reflect on what you do best. What are you passionate about and how can you incorporate that into your job search?  Think about how and in what fields your natural talents make you shine. Doing so will help narrow your search to positions you will enjoy as well as direct you towards corporate cultures in which you will feel comfortable.  Of course we all understand that aiming for the dream job isn’t always realistic (Enajite Onos explains this well in her post, For Love or Money), but it’s not a bad thing to start out on a smaller scale, if it means getting to do what you love. Remember, even Madonna didn’t rise to the top overnight!

With her creative vision in mind, Madonna then takes to the studio. She has built a reputation for being honest and a perfectionist about her work, but her critical eye has served her well. When it comes time to reevaluate your resume and cover letter, you too should be your own worst critic. Be certain that your talents, passions, and related skills are clearly stated. Take time to tailor your cover letter to each company which you apply; add relevant skills and eliminate unnecessary ones. Be sincere in your cover letter and leave out exaggerations. Remember, show your potential value rather than tell companies they should hire you.

When it’s time to make an appearance for the interview, give yourself a “get-with-the-times” makeover. Madonna’s outfits have come and gone with each era, and so should yours. Rummage through your wardrobe and toss a few trends that don’t seem to be coming back anytime soon. Your long suit jacket with the padded shoulders will stand out in today’s office just as much as Madonna’s traffic cone bra would, well, anywhere.

Although you may not become the Madonna of your field, the opportunity to grow your talents is not unreachable. All it takes is a little bit of creativity, some courage, and a lot of believing in yourself.

Jobseekers: how have you reinvented yourself to adapt to today’s job market?

Give Your Facebook Brand a Facelift

With so much great advice out there about how to build one’s personal brand through blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn and other networks, it’s important not to forget how all of it applies to one’s Facebook activity.

Here are some top personal branding tips on how to enhance your Facebook presence:

Plug your personal brand. Before you do anything else, physically plug your personal brand and supporting pitch or statement right into your Facebook profile.  You can do this in the About Me box below your profile picture, the About Me section under your profile’s Info tab as well as in a profile Note.  This will not only help you communicate and reinforce your brand to your current friends, but also to new friends, potential partners or prospective employers. – Chris Perry, CareerRocketeer.com

Claim your domain. The first step in Facebook personal branding is to obtain your own domain name on Facebook if available (i.e. http://www.facebook.com/derrickhayes). Having your own Facebook URL makes it easier for people to find you and can be a great marketing tool that you can add to all your social networks, business cards and in your email signatures.  – Derrick Hayes, DerrickHayes.com

Optimize your keywords. Ask someone (in your industry) to proof your LinkedIn profile.  I used to recommend doing this with a paper resume, but even easier if you have a friend in the industry.  Just ask them to peruse to see if you missed any key words, etc.  – Diane K. Danielson, DowntownWomensClub.com

Be a resource. Don’t just use the updates.  Share resources (articles, websites, book reviews etc.) to show that you not only have an expertise but you generously share your skills/knowledge. – Drew McLellan, The McLellan Group

Initiate conversation. Seek comments on your wall and start a dialogue with your Facebook friends. This will galvanize your friends to share and link back to your content, thus increasing your reach. Join or create relevant groups and fan pages, and actively participate in them. Posting your promotions blindly across the site will simply be viewed as spam, so two-way communication is key. – David Mathison, BetheMedia.com

Create a Facebook fan page. This page is separate from your personal profile and should include a clear attractive photo (modest attire), basic personal information i.e. postal address, valid professional email etc. and at least 3 notes, written by you.

The first note describes your educational and professional accomplishments. Consider this an elaboration of your resume. The second note describes the type of company you would like to work for. Use this to describe in detail your “perfect” company and ideal working conditions.  Finally, your third note is your personal advocate note. Hypothetically describe a problem that a company faces and how you would solve it.  – Charlene Nora, WorldUnboundNow.com

Special thanks to everyone who contributed to this wealth of personal branding insight!

Chris Perry, MBA is a Gen Y brand and marketing generator, a career search and personal branding expert and the founder of Career Rocketeer, Launchpad, Blogaristo and more.