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How to Get an Influential Person to Have Coffee With You

Coffee_Meeting2How would you like to get a once-in-a-life-time opportunity (face-to-face or virtually) to connect with someone famous, or with the Chief Decision Maker at your ideal employer? What if you could meet with a VIP – someone who could give you the inside scoop about one of your target employers? Yes, you can, and all it takes is a cup of coffee and lots of courage!

As a big proponent of going beyond the resume and using unconventional strategies to reach out to employers, I am always looking for unusual ways job seekers can connect with people who can play a role in their job search.

Recently, I learned about Ten Thousand Coffees, a new organization that is making it easy for job seekers to reach out and connect with busy and influential people who they would not normally get a chance to speak with. Its mission is “to connect students, recent grads, and young professionals with industry leaders and experts and engage in life-changing, career making conversations over coffee.” Even if you do not fall within those categories, you can also use the strategies outlined below to meet with an influencer, have coffee, and boost your career opportunities.

Wondering how you should maximize those precious moments when you do connect? Dorie Clark, a marketing strategist who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, offers four ways to connect with powerful people: “Interview them, write about them, do them a favor, and be interesting.”  Here are my suggestions, although not necessarily in the same order:

Make Yourself Interesting. First impression counts, so before you reach out to any of the individuals with whom you would like to connect, do some introspection. Ask yourself, “Apart from my skills and expertise, what else makes me an interesting person?” It could be that you are good at golf; you sew your own clothes, or you won a dance competition. Find ways of incorporating those interests into your profile, especially if the person you are targeting has similar interests. As Dorie says, “Successful professionals like meeting compelling new people.

Interview Them. Prepare a list of questions for your time together. Remember, these individuals are busy people and won’t have time for frivolous questions, so make sure your questions are well-thought out. Your list could include:

  • How did you become a/an ____________?
  • What aspects of your job gives you the most personal satisfaction?
  • What skills and personal qualities are necessary to do your job well?
  • How long have you worked for this organization?
  • What are your major responsibilities?
  • What do you perceive to be the major rewards of this job?
  • What are the major frustrations in this job?
  • What do you like most about this job?
  • What are the most frequently recurring problems?
  • What advice would you give to a person coming into a company, or entering a profession like this?

Write About Them. To gain additional mileage out of your coffee meeting, write an article or blog post about the interview. Break up the interview into mini blog posts and ask readers to comment. Or, if you are active on Twitter, use pieces from the interview as tweets. Not only will you be showcasing your expertise, but your influencer will be impressed. He or she might even retweet your posts. Sooner or later, recruiters and potential employers will begin to take notice of your professional activities.

Do Them a Favour. You may be thinking that there’s no way you could return a favour to this ‘important’ person. Of course you can. First of all, at the end of the interview, ask them this networking question: “How can I help you?” They might quickly dismiss your question by saying “It’s OK, or it’s no big deal.” It may not be a big deal to them, but do them the favour anyway. You could rebroadcast the interview as a podcast, upload it to your YouTube channel, or submit it to news outlets – online and off. It could also be as simple as recommending a restaurant, or sending them an interesting article about one of their competitors. They will thank you for your initiative.

These strategies can help you connect with influential people whether or not you are a part of Ten Thousand Coffees. Are you ready to snag an interview with an influential person? Go ahead!

6 Reasons to Send a Cover Letter With Your Resume

Cover letter conceptThe importance of cover letters sometimes engenders lively debates among hiring managers, job seekers, and career professionals, and all sides have compelling arguments. Some say recruiters do not have the time to read cover letters, especially when they are under pressure to find the right candidate. Others say that fifty percent of recruiters do not read them. If that’s the case, what happens to the other fifty percent who do spend the time to read these them?

Having participated in and researched the various arguments, here are six reasons a job seeker might want to include a cover letter with his or her resume:

Fifty percent of recruiters read cover letters: While it is commonly argued that fifty percent of recruiters do not read cover letters, the other fifty percent does. Therefore, if there is a fifty-fifty chance that a cover letter is going to be read by a recruiter, why not include one with your resume?

Most employers expect a cover letter with the resume. A 2012 survey conducted by Officeteam revealed that 91% of executives said cover letters were valuable when evaluating job candidates.

The resume is only half-dressed without the cover letter. Sometimes the resume is not enough to convey the job seeker’s qualifications and interest in the role, and gives the impression that something is missing. Adding a cover letter completes the picture. It also is an opportunity to answer potential questions before they are asked. For example, “Why are their gaps in your employment?”

The cover letter demonstrates your contribution. Adam Bryant aka @NYTCorneroffice, contributor at the New York Times, was asked on LinkedIn’s How to Hire series, if a cover letter really helps in the decision to hire. He said,  “The magic word for a cover letter is contribution. You want to show that you are ready to make a contribution, rather than just hoping for a pay cheque; that you have done your homework, you are excited about the vision, and that you understand what the company does.

The cover letter is your elevator pitch for your resume. In an interview with Careerbuilder, Jodi R.R. Smith, president of Mannersmith, a Massachusetts-based etiquette consulting firm, said, “The cover letter is the elevator pitch for your resume. It’s your best bet for grabbing the recruiter’s interest so that the recruiter wants to review your resume.” Learn how to polish up your cover letter much like you do with your elevator pitch.

The cover letter is an opportunity to tell your unique story and make a good first impression.  A cover letter should create a strong first impression and tells the employer why you are the best person for the role. “Submitting a resume without a cover letter is like not shaking hands when meeting someone for the first time,” says Dave Willmer, executive director of OfficeTeam. “Those who aren’t including cover letters with their resumes are missing an opportunity to make a good first impression and set themselves apart from other job applicants.”

How about you? Which side of the cover letter debate are you on?  Should you or should you not send a cover letter with your resume? Share your comments below.

The cover letter demonstrates your contribution. Adam Bryant aka @NYTCorneroffice, contributor at the New York Times, was asked on LinkedIn’s How to Hire series,

Why You Should Network to Get Work

People networkingNetworking guru, Donna Messer, is known for saying that one has to ‘network to get work’. It doesn’t matter how often you hear this; it doesn’t matter how often you discount it, networking to get work is a fact.

Too often people say “Networking doesn’t work for me…I am too shy to network…people might think I am forcing myself on them.”  Some of these comments may be true, but let’s GOI – Get Over It. Don’t allow such crippling thoughts to prevent you from getting the job or promotion you really want, or deserve.

You may be telling yourself that you have a great resume and cover letter, but not much is happening. Well, by themselves, they won’t get you the opportunity you are looking for. You need to find creative ways to use these documents to reach your target company. It takes hard work, and lots of it! Thomas Edison once said, Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like hard work.” Do not miss your opportunity because you are thinking networking is hard work. I can guarantee you, if done properly, your networking efforts will pay off. Just don’t expect overnight success!

Some years ago, I was listening to a group of recruiters on a teleseminar. One was a senior executive recruiter from Microsoft. He told the story of a young man who had been trying to get a job with the company for two years. His resume was just not getting to the right people. You bet it was probably drowning in the sea of thousands of other resumes.

This young man discovered that the company had several blogs, and began to offer comments and contribute his opinions on topics that fell within his area of expertise. One of the company’s recruiters began paying attention to his comments and posts, and realized he knew his stuff. Not very long after he was contacted, and within 10 days of that contact he was offered his dream job with Microsoft. This may have been several years ago, but the process still works. You have to ditch the idea that networking doesn’t work, and devise strategies on how you are going to make it work for you.

Two weeks ago, one of my clients saw a position with one of his target companies and remembered I knew one of the senior HR executives, so he sent me an email to ask if I was still in touch with her. I hadn’t been for a long time, so I googled her name and realized she had moved out of that role. However, while doing the search, I found an article with the name of another recruiter in the company. I passed it to the client and suggested that he do a little bit of footwork and find out how email addresses at the company are structured. Soon after, he responded:

“Thanks for the article. I had a friend who previously worked at [Company] so I was able to copy that format (firstname.lastname@company.ca) and send a message through to the lady from the article. She said she had switched positions but would forward my message to a finance recruiter. Hopefully that will help speed things along.”

That’s networking and research all wrapped in one. Somewhere out there, there is an employer who needs what  you have to offer. But you need to know how to get on their radar. You can do this by tapping into your network or the network of others. Networking is Not a Dirty Word. It’s called Relationship Building.

Does the thought of networking send shivers down your spine? Don’t try doing it alone. Ask for help.

Are Thank You Letters Really Annoying?

Thank You Letter

Are thank you letters really annoying? It didn’t occur to me that they could be until very recently. A client mentioned a few days ago that a corporate recruiter with a financial institution told her that some people find thank you letters annoying. Suddenly, I was reminded that some recruiters detest cover letters and will not read them. But thank you letters?

One common school of thought has been to send a thank you letter very soon after an interview. Many recruiters, human resource professionals, and hiring managers see a thank you letter as a welcome change since most job seekers do not usually send one. In fact, most have said that sometimes such a letter, card or note, ends up being the deciding factor between two equally qualified candidates.

But, that corporate recruiter could be on to something. What if some recruiters interpret the act of sending thank you letters as schmoozing? What if they do not have the time to read yet another piece of correspondence? What if such a letter won’t impact their decision? Those may be plausible, but here are some other reasons for sending a thank you letter:

  • It demonstrates common courtesy and appreciation, even if the interview didn’t go well.
  • It leaves a positive impression, and keeps the candidate on the interviewer’s radar.
  • It reiterates interest in the position (if that’s the case), and enables the candidate to recap elements of the interview that might not have been addressed effectively.
  • It could serve as a request to withdraw from further consideration if the candidate discovers that the company would not be a good fit. (That happens too!)
  • It’s an opportunity to stay engaged and build or strengthen relationships.
  • It gives the candidate a chance to stand out from their competitor. Very few people send thank you letters.

While some recruiters might not like to receive thank you letters, there are enough reasons to send one even if it’s not read.  As a matter of fact, some suggest a handwritten letter sent by snail mail is a better idea. A letter or card with someone’s name on it is difficult to be ignored.

Communications Specialist, Alexandra Franzen, (@alex_franzen) says she “wants to live in a world where emails are short, love letters are brave and every ‘thank you’ note is scribbled by hand.” Interesting!

What are your thoughts on thank you letters? Should they be sent? Share your comments below so others will benefit.

 

How to Differentiate Between Canadian & American Spelling

How to Differentiate Between Canadian & American Spellings

Although it might not be well known, there are subtle differences between Canadian and American spelling of many words, and when it comes to the job search, it could be the deciding factor in landing a job.

Misspellings or Different Spellings?

Nowhere was it more evident than at a job fair in Toronto several months ago hosted by two healthcare entities from the USA. A client, who is a nurse, heard of the job fair on short notice, and presented her resume formatted for the Canadian market.

After reviewing her resume and cover letter, the recruiter told her that her resume had “several spelling errors.” Of course, she was taken aback.

Some of the “errors” were Centre, Cheque, Honour, Judgement and Practised.

After she composed herself, she told the recruiter that the documents were created for the Canadian market, hence the spelling; that her Spellchecker would not have picked up the “errors,” and that she didn’t realize it made such a difference.

The recruiter also told her she was not aware there was a difference. In the end, these “spelling errors” did not cost her the job opportunity as she was offered a position and moved to Florida.

The situation could have easily been reversed with an American job seeker being tripped up by American spellings used in a resume submitted to a Canadian employer.

The Commonwealth of Spelling

As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations (formerly known as the British Commonwealth), Canada owes its “spelling allegiance” to the British. It’s the same in Australia and the English-speaking Caribbean islands.

In reality, though, Canadians tend to straddle the fence and use what’s convenient. If they are conducting a job search in the USA, then they use the American spelling, but that same resume could be used in Canada and not many people would notice the difference.

As a matter of fact, in the back of our minds, we sometimes wonder if the differences really matter. How else would one explain the fact that Canadian words such as analyze, categorize, customize and legalize are consistent with the American spelling where the “s” is substituted for a “z”?

For example, here is a partial list of all the words that are spelled differently in Canada and the US.

American Spelling

  • Acknowledgment
  • Behavior
  • Center
  • Check
  • Favor
  • Honor
  • Judgment
  • Practice
  • Licence
Canadian Spelling 
  • Acknowledgement
  • Behaviour
  • Centre
  • Cheque
  • Favour
  • Honour
  • Judgement
  • Practise (verb)
    Practice (noun)
  • License (verb)
    Licence (noun)

The aim of this article is to shed some light on some of the nuances that exist and help us adapt when job hunting – or reviewing resumes – on both sides of the border and internationally. The next time you are preparing your resume for the “other side” of the border (regardless of which side you are on), check to see if your spelling is consistent with usage in the target country.

Bottom Line

When in doubt about Canadian spelling and grammar, refer to The Globe and Mail Style Guide, and Gregg’s Reference Manual (Canadian Edition). American job seekers using Canadian spelling will look more knowledgeable about Canada as well as more interested in fitting in.

_____________

Article originally posted on Job-Hunt.Org

10 Résumé Buzzwords to Avoid in 2012

Hear ye, Hear ye! This is hot off the Press! LinkedIn has just released its list of most overused professional buzzwords for 2011. They did this after analyzing 135 million professional profiles on their website. Some of these same words were on the list in 2010, and have resurfaced. Check your résumé or LinkedIn profile to see if you are guilty of using any or all of these:

1.      Creative

2.      Organizational

3.      Effective

4.      Extensive experience

5.      Track record

6.      Motivated

7.      Innovative

8.      Problem solving

9.      Communication skills

10.    Dynamic

As much as we might want to eliminate or reduce the use of these words and phrases, employers tend to lag behind with the use of clichés. Their job postings still include many of these words. Their applicant tracking system still contains these words and phrases, yet if the words are not incorporated in a candidate’s résumé, the résumé does not stand much of a chance of being seen by the human eye.

One way to overcome or minimize the use of these words is to give examples or tell stories of:

  • how you were creative
  • what problems you solved
  • what really got you motivated, and
  • how many years of experience you have.

By using this method, the hiring manager or decision-maker can easily see your potential value.

As with everything else, your decision to include or exclude these words requires a delicate balance. The fact is, there are going to be times when using the ‘word or phrase’ is your only option!

 

Source: LinkedIn’s Most Overused Buzzwords for 2011

 

11 Important Interview Tips

Do you have an interview today, or anytime soon? Are you nervous? Are your palms getting sweaty? Stop worrying because help is near.

While coaching a client last week, I suggested to her that she ask for some inside tips from the recruiter since he already knows the company where my client will be interviewing. He quickly reeled off the points below, and while they are not new, they could easily be overlooked by job seekers who are focused on practising answers to interview questions. Hopefully they will calm your nerves and help you to do well in the interview:

  1. Arrive early and enter the building 15 minutes before your interview.
  2. Bring three copies of your resume.
  3. Interview attire is conservative, so dress accordingly.
  4. If you have long hair, pull it back.
  5. If you have several ear piercings, take out extra earrings.
  6. If you have tattoos, cover them.
  7. Take a Photo ID – preferably your current driver’s license.
  8. Relax – answer questions honestly and you will do great.
  9. It is OK to ask interviewer(s) to repeat a question, if you need clarification.
  10. Do not accept anything to eat or drink.
  11. When asked to “Tell me about yourself”, they mean your professional, not your personal background.

While reviewing these tips, others might come to your mind. Add them here.

To your interview success,

 

 

 

Is There Value in a Cover Letter?

Henry Ford said, Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” The same hold true for cover letters – whether you send one or not, you are right, or maybe! It is quite common to hear that 50 per cent of recruiters and hiring managers do not read cover letters; they go straight to the resume. Because of this, many job seekers just submit a résumé. Or, an ad asks to ‘fax your résumé’ and the job seeker faxes only the résumé. They rarely think about the other 50 per cent of recruiters who do read cover letters.

I advise job seekers to always include a cover letter. It’s better to include one and it’s not read than to omit it, and it misses the eyes of the other 50 per cent who do read them.

Recently, I was reading a blog post about cover letters in the Harvard Business Review, and the conversation was centred around cover letters! Should one be included with the résumé? This post garnered a lot of responses for and against. The writer, David Silverman, said that there were really only a few times to use a cover letter:

  1. When you know the name of the person hiring
  2. When you know something about the job requirement
  3. When you’ve been personally referred (which might include 1 and 2)

While most people agreed with the three reasons he stated, many of us were not impressed with the letter he quoted as being “The best cover letter I ever received.” It was no different, in my opinion, from a generic cover letter addressed to “Dear Sir/Madam”.

That said, one comment that got my attention was from a hiring manager. He was responding to comment by another individual, and wrote , “I would have to respectfully disagree with the comment that cover letters are a waste of time. A succinct, well-written cover letter that is laser-targeted to my specific job opening is rare and really gets my attention. And this is the real secret: the cover letter HAS to be well-written and it HAS to be targeted to my specific opening.

I couldn’t have said it better: “A succinct, well-written cover letter that is laser-targeted to my specific job opening is rare and really gets my attention.” In a survey I conducted recently with Canadian HR managers and recruiters, thirty eight percent (38.1%) said candidates must submit a cover letter for each application while thirty percent (30.2%) had no preference. Approximately sixteen percent (15.9%) said they could be useful for information not included on the resume if they add value.

What are your thoughts? Is there value in a cover letter? Join the debate by commenting below:

Source:

http://blogs.hbr.org/silverman/2009/06/the-best-cover-letter.html

7 Attributes of Highly Attractive Candidates

The following is a very interesting post by Head2Head Recruiting in Toronto. The link to the full article and credit is listed below.

Job applicants love to complain about recruiters. They say that their online applications end up in a cyber black hole and are never read, responded to or recorded. While that might be true in some cases, there are candidates who always get a response and this is what they do to help us out as recruiters with limited time to fill specific positions with highly qualified candidates.

1. They save us time. They write their applications to be scanned. Qualifications and experiences are listed up front using the language used in the original posting.

2. They solve our problems. Recruiters, like employers, aren’t interested in what a job can do for you. We’re interested in what you can do for the company. Good candidates know what the pitfalls are and have thought about how to bridge them.

4. They are excellent at doing researchers. They are up-to-date on major events, performance issues and current trends in their industry.

5. They know how to leverage social media. All of their contacts know they are looking for work, what they want to do and how they intend to get it.

6. They’re passionate about their work. A dedication to their careers shines through difficulties. Further education, training and involvement in industry associations are listed on their CVs.

7.They give our clients a reason to feel inspired. Clients can tell when fresh blood is going to bring fresh thinking. When you’re a special candidate, it shows in your CV in your cover letter and, most importantly, in how you STATE YOUR GOALS. Ambition, combined with practical steps toward achievement, are the most attractive qualities in any candidate anywhere.

Article originally posted by Recruiting Head2Head in Toronto. Cut and paste this link: http://ow.ly/kwK7

More Tips on Using Twitter in Your Job Search

Twitter is the one of the coolest job search tools. Click on the link to find valuable tips on how to use this fascinating tool in your job search.

Some topics include:

* How to get the most out of your page
* How to evaluate a recruiter on Twitter
* Job search tools
* Specific job search accounts

Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/daisywright