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STOP Scaring Recruiters With Your Bare Bones LinkedIn Profile

TheWrightCareer.comIt’s not yet Halloween, but your LinkedIn Profile could be scaring away recruiters and potential contacts in obvious and not-so-obvious ways. Recruiters and hiring managers source LinkedIn all the time for great candidates. When they stumble on an incomplete profile, a blank photo box, or missing dates, they don’t contact you for details; they move on to your competitors.

A lot of people believe that the fact they have a LinkedIn account with a name, degrees and a list of employers they are all set. Not so! Take the example of someone I was introduced to recently. Her name was followed by a list of degrees, names of former and current companies, and a long list of committee and board affiliations. That was it! As bare-boned as a skeleton! Yet, in speaking with her, I discovered she is a highly-accomplished professional who could easily attract the attention of recruiters, But her LinkedIn profile lacked substance and would scare the daylights out of a recruiter.

In an informal conversation with a few recruiters recently, I asked them what scared them the most about someone’s LinkedIn Profile. Here are some of their thoughts:

  1. Gaps and Omission of Dates. When recruiters review resumes, they zero in, with eagle eyes, for start and end dates at each employer. It’s no different when they view a LinkedIn Profile. Olivia Petrou, Research Consultant at TWC International Executive Search Limited, says the lack of dates, or gaps in dates, scares her most when looking at job candidates’ LinkedIn profiles. “It makes me curious as to whether that person is hiding something.”
  2. Photograph vs Blank Box. Many LinkedIn users omit, or refuse to include a professional photograph in their profiles. It is a given, in my opinion, that people would be more inclined to reach out or accept a LinkedIn invitation if they can associate a name with a profile. On a recent webinar with LinkedIn’s Michael Shamshoian, he said that “one’s LinkedIn profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed if a photo is included.” (By the way, there are some people who have included a photo but it is either a group or a photo of their spouse. Really now? “Who is who?”).
  3. Skimpy information. LinkedIn offers 120 character spaces for the Headline and 2,000 spaces for the Summary, yet so many people skimp on the information they include. While the entire profile is important, the headline and summary sections are considered ‘prime real estate’ spaces and should be maximized.
  4. Incomplete This relates to point 3 above. When we consider that LinkedIn is probably the most significant channel to tell one’s story and build a professional network, members do themselves a disservice when they have incomplete profiles. Geoff Webb, Global Sourcing Strategist at Aon PRO said, “I consistently hear from recruitment teams that the more incomplete a profile is the more likely they are to ignore the profile, so there is great value in making your profile as complete as possible.” 
  5. Spam or Fake Profiles. Who hasn’t received LinkedIn invitations that, at first read appear genuine, but once they are accepted, they are quickly followed up with unwanted business proposals or romantic pursuits? I have had my share and that’s scary! Webb continued: “I am more concerned with the increasing number of ‘spam’ or ‘fake’ profiles on LinkedIn, and although they are pretty easy to spot they waste a huge amount of effort”. Fake profiles and spam messages are time-wasters, and LinkedIn is not for that.
  1. Misreading the audience. Jeff Wedge, a Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant at Aon RPO, opined that although he reviews over 300 resumes and LinkedIn profiles per week, he is hard pressed to find one that attracts his attention to the point where he would pick up the phone to reach out. “Most candidates, ranging from CEO to entry-level, do not understand the audience they are trying to reach. That scares me. They need to have teasers or accomplishments that would convince me to pick up my phone”, he said.

LinkedIn considers itself the world’s largest professional network, and it offers free visibility. In fact, it is frequently referred to as someone’s resume-on-steroids (being visible 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year). Unlike a resume that has to be brief, a LinkedIn Profile has a number of categories to showcase your skills, experience, education, accomplishments, projects, causes hobbies and interests. Maximize its benefits. Use the categories and spaces to build a robust profile and draw recruiters and potential contacts to you rather than scaring them away.

 

Layoffs – Not all Doom and Gloom: 7 Tips to Cushion the Blow

Layoffs_Again

As I listened to the message, the woman’s tone was one of panic and confusion. “I have just been laid off after 20 years at the same job. I received a severance package, but I am in my mid fifties and will need to continue working. I never took any additional training all these years, and don’t have a clue how to conduct a job search. Can you help me?”

Several questions starting with “Why…, What… and How…?”, raced through my mind, but I banished them very quickly, because it wasn’t the time to be self-righteous. She was in a serious crisis, and needed a listening ear.

Conversely, I was recently contacted by two senior management professionals, one was a referral from a client, and the other found me online. In both cases, changes are taking place in their respective companies, and they have an inkling that layoffs are imminent. Although both believe there could be internal opportunities, they are not taking any chances. They are being proactive and are making plans for what may or may not happen. After all, it’s better to hope for the best, but for the worst.

Layoffs happen quite frequently, and no one ever gets used to it. Falling oil prices have led to massive layoffs in the Canadian energy industry. Rogers Communications recently eliminated several hundred middle management positions as part of its revitalization plan. And recently, Microsoft announced it would be laying off 7,800 of its employees from its phone division. This is enough for any employee or job seeker to be terrified.

The truth is, downsizing, rightsizing, restructuring, or whatever other name it is called, is a way of life in today’s economy. When it’s time to restructure, years of service and loyalty will not guarantee anyone a position in a revitalized organization.

But, it’s not all doom and gloom. If by some misfortune you are laid off, there are several strategies you can use to cushion the blow and minimize its impact:

  1. Give yourself permission to be angry. Don’t bottle up your feelings. Anger, as long as it’s not misplaced, could have a healing effect. However, do not vent at work or with coworkers or your boss. Such behaviour could be construed as negative and unprofessional; could damage relationships, and thwart your chances of getting a good reference. Find a safe place where you can let off the steam.
  2. Get support. Find a trustworthy person who will listen to you, and give you some good advice. Stay away from anyone who is inclined to help you bash the company or your boss as this is counter-productive.  There might also be free and fee-based resources within your community you could explore to see if they can help you find a new career path.
  3. Engage in self-care. This is an opportunity for you to put yourself first. This is not the time to beat upon yourself and question your ability or self-worth. Take that long-awaited vacation to clear your head and develop strategies to help you bounce back. Use this time to redirect your energy into something productive. Get some exercise, or just relax.
  4. Spotlight your assets. Turn this negative experience into something positive. Begin by spotlighting your assets. What are you good at? What have you accomplished? What awards, recognitions and comments have you received from your supervisor, coworkers and customers? Write out an inventory of your transferable skills that could benefit another employer. All of these are your assets – documented evidence that validate your capabilities – and will help you when you are ready to craft your résumé.
  5. Review your résumé and online profiles. A one-size-fits-all résumé will not work in today’s competitive job environment, neither will an incomplete LinkedIn Profile. The résumé needs to be strategic, and oozing with value. This takes time as you will need to assess all of your skills, attributes and achievements, and determine how to showcase them in a way that differentiates you from your competitors. Your online profiles are also essential pieces of your marketing.
  6. Remember this phrase: “This too shall pass”. What you are feeling now is real, but it won’t last forever. Sometimes a layoff is just the prescription you need to propel you to action. Ask yourself some soul-searching questions: “Is it time for me to retool, brush up on my skills or go back to school to gain additional skills? Do I have what it takes to start a business? What do I really enjoy doing, and should I be exploring this as a career option?”
  7. Maintain a positive attitude. The road to a successful job search, especially in such a competitive job market, is paved with disappointments and frustrations, but don’t give up. Tap into your network; join a support group like a job-finding club, engage in social media groups and networking activities that will put you in touch with people who can offer assistance. Be cautious when introduced to other people’s networks, as you don’t want to begin asking ‘strangers’ for help before they get to know you, and vice versa.

These seven tips are not all-inclusive, neither are they meant to trivialize the emotional impact, but they are steps in the right direction to help you deal with a layoff.

Related links:

Plan Ahead Before the Layoff Axe Falls (first published on Job-Hunt.org)

Got Laid Off? So What?

Microsoft Layoffs

 

The Cover Letter is Dead…Long Live the Cover Letter

Cover Letter_TheWrightCareer2Every so often we hear or read about the death of the resume, but somehow it continues to hang on for dear life. Nowadays, though, it seems that this prediction has reached the cover letter.

In two recent articles – one from Elevate Talent Network, and the other from The Huffington Post – it is being inferred that the cover letter is dying, or has died. This post is not to persuade the converts. It is purely to stand up for the cover letter even if we are witnessing its demise.

Are Cover Letters a Waste of Time?

In February, a few recruiters met with about 80 residents of Liberty Village in Toronto to discuss job search strategies. In answer to the question, “Should I write a cover letter?”, they responded with a resounding and unanimous ‘NO’. The blog post about the event stated “Cover letters were seen by far as a waste of time. Recruiters don’t have the time or the inclination to read your cover letters.”

When I read it, I wondered aloud if it was or is an absolute that exists in recruiter-land. But No! Many people involved in hiring have said the same thing. I was speaking with a human resources manager in one of our regional governments a couple of years ago, and she said that they did not require cover letters, yet they want to see an Objective on the resume. Well, let’s say the Objective requires another debate.

What About the Other 50%

In a survey I conducted several years ago with Canadian HR Managers, recruiters and others involved in hiring, 50% of them indicated that they did not want to see a cover letter, or that cover letters didn’t matter one way or the other. I wondered then about the other 50%.

My colleague Maureen McCann mentioned a time when she was pitching a workshop to human resource managers in one government agency. When she asked the question about cover letters, she received a 50/50 response. This is a quote from Maureen:

“For the 50% who said cover letters remained an important part of the application process, a number of them went further to explain the cover letter is an essential part of the application process. So much so, that the application instructions specifically read (in bold text):

“In addition to your application, you are required to submit a cover letter which demonstrates clearly in writing with concrete examples how you meet each of the essential Education, Experience and the Asset qualifications. Resumes will only be used as a secondary source to validate the information provided in the cover letter.”

There is certainly a valid argument against cover letters. Time is definitely an issue for recruiters who want to fill a position quickly. And as one of the recruiters said in a response to me, “…with the wide spread adoption of the ATS they [cover letters] don’t often make it into our hands (even if we were inclined to read them).”

But what happens to those recruiters and hiring managers who want to see a cover letter? How will a candidate know which ones want or do not want to read a cover letter? Some companies request in their job postings that candidates submit a resume and cover letter. The website of one provincial government asks that the cover letter be combined with the resume and submitted as one document.

The Huffington Post article mentions Allan Jones, chief marketing officer for recruiting site ZipRecruiter, who points out that while some cover letters “… are uninspired copy-paste form letters [they] can still be effective in some cases, especially when they are personalized and reveal specific reasons why a candidate might be a good fit for a position.”

Who Will Stand Up for the Cover Letter?

With such diverse opinions, it’s hard to know which way to go. As a result, I have listed below three simple reasons why the cover letter may still have a life:

  1. Job seekers do not know what side of the 50% cover letter equation some recruiters fall. Therefore, they should err on the side of caution and send one anyway. It is better to have it ignored or tossed out rather than to regret not sending one.
  2. A cover letter can address certain situations that won’t necessarily fit on a resume, such as reason(s) for a gap in employment. It can be used to draw their attention to one of the pain points you (the job seeker) can solve.
  3. Even for those who do not want to see a traditional cover letter, a candidate can create a cover letter within the body of the email when attaching the resume. Most people will open and read an email, especially when it has a strong subject line.

Is it time to let go of the cover letter, or does it still have a life?

Related Links:

Resume Questions from the Heart of Liberty

5 Reasons the Cover Letter Should Just Die

Also posted on LinkedIn

New Book: Tell Stories, Get Hired

Tell Stories, Get Hired is finally here!

Tell Stories Get HiredPRESS RELEASE

Brampton, ON, November 25, 2014 – Job layoffs, a competitive job marketplace, and hiring freezes have put a lot of pressure on job seekers to stand out and be noticed. Those concerns should be alleviated by “Tell Stories, Get Hired”, a new book which demonstrates how job seekers can leverage their stories to convince hiring managers and recruiters to hire them over their competitors.

Daisy Wright, author of the Canadian best seller, No Canadian Experience, Eh?, collaborated with 17 professionals with varying backgrounds from Canada, the US, England, Belgium and France, to develop this new book – Tell Stories, Get Hired. “I value their contributions because, without their collective expertise, this project would have remained a dream,” Wright said. All contributors faced obstacles as they sought to gain employment, advance their career, or break new grounds, but their resilience and ability to tell their stories brought them success.

Wright continued “Storytelling is the new job search craze, and job seekers and career changers need to learn how to dig deep, uncover their stories and get hired. Many people never thought of storytelling as a job search tool, but stories are effective in getting to the heart of a hiring manager.” 

Read more of here >> Tell Stories Get Hired Press Release

IMPORTANT NOTE: Join the 24-hour Twitter-Thon Launch Party on December 2, 2014. Instructions will follow on how you can tweet and retweet from from participating contributors.

Google Will Reject You With These Resume Mistakes

 

Resume2_Rejected

Google will reject you with these resume mistakes! That’s the the essence of what Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, and a LinkedIn Influencer, wrote recently. He said that “in a fiercely competitive labour market, hiring managers don’t need to compromise on quality. All it takes is one small mistake and a manager will reject an otherwise interesting candidate.” It’s not just Google, but so will the majority of employers.

A number of recruiters and human resource professionals often say the same thing. Some report that too many job seekers submit resumes that have poor formatting, spelling and grammar errors, and are longer than three pages.

Below are the five mistakes that you, or other job seekers, are making with their resumes, along with suggestions on how to correct them:

Typos. As much as you might be a good fit for the position, if there are typos in your resume, it gives the impression you are not as detail-oriented as you claim. It is easy for employers to reject your resume with the smallest of errors because there is a talent pool of good candidates from which they can choose.

Suggestion: To ensure your resume is error-free, read it in reverse order – from bottom to top, or ask someone else to proofread it for you.

Length. While the length of one’s resume is debatable, an eight-pager is way too much. Laszlo suggests having a one page resume for every ten years of work experience.

Suggestion: The more common rule is one to two pages, but if your accomplishments seep with value, making it a three-pager won’t hurt. Keep in mind, though, that the sole purpose of a resume is to get you an interview, not to tell your life story.

Formatting. For obvious reasons you want your resume to stand out in a sea of other resumes to quickly grab attention. But, you could easily go overboard with the formatting and your content gets lost.

Suggestion: Laszlo noted that if you are a designer or artist, you can be fairly creative with your formatting. His opinion is that the others of us should stick to white paper with black ink, consistent line spacing, and at least a ten-point font. The resume should also be clean and legible, with name and contact information on every page. He further advised that you view your resume in Google Docs and Word, attach it to an email, then open it in preview mode. This extra work is important as documents sometimes get garbled when moving across platforms. If in doubt, save the resume as a PDF.

Confidential Information. Many job seekers have inadvertently placed confidential information in their resumes. It is great to showcase your accomplishments, but not at the expense of appearing disloyal to one employer, and a potential risk to another. An employer will not hire anyone who shares trade secrets with their competitors.

Suggestion: Think it through carefully. Is the information already in the public domain? Will it breach your confidentiality agreement? If you are not sure, it’s better to err on the side of caution and not disclose the information.

Lies. This one is a no-no. As much as you may be tempted, never, ever, put lies on your resume. You will be discovered, even if it’s one week down the road, or 28 years afterwards. In 2007, the former dean of admissions at an Ivey League university, who was in the job for 28 years, had to resign after she it was discovered she lied about her academic credentials. And, more recently, a few CEOs have lost their jobs because they falsified their resumes.

Suggestion: Honesty is the best policy. Don’t inflate your sales results, your GPA, the number of people on your team, or the degree(s) you have. If you were one credit shy of obtaining the degree, be honest about it. Don’t give the impression you completed the full program when you did not.

You might not agree on all the points. At the same time, you wouldn’t want to miss out on a great job opportunity just because there are mistakes in your resume.  Do whatever it takes to be included on the employer’s list of people to contact, rather than be excluded. Review your resume for mistakes and correct them.

It is a Dumb Idea to Dumb Down Your Resume

Yellow Duh! Road Sign Against a Dramatic Blue Sky with Clipping Path.It is a dumb idea if you have been advised by the experts to dumb down your resume. Unless, of course, you have been inflating your responsibilities and accomplishments, and if that’s the case, you need to get your head examined.

September is Update Your Resume Month, an annual event launched 14 years ago by Career Directors International. Its intention is to remind everyone – job seekers, and those not actively looking – to set aside time to take a fresh look at their resumes and make sure it is current. This is important, but while preparing to update your resume, take some time to focus on the value you have to offer an organization. Don’t think of ways to dumb down your resume.

The following statements were taken from the resumes of three clients. One client is a regional sales manager, the second a senior sales and marketing leader, and the other a business development executive:

  • Created and executed a common business plan for sales division, just in time for new product launch ensuring early revenue stream for brands.
  • Performed innovative market research and captured smaller companies with great potential. Assisted the growth of three clients into industry leaders during world economic crisis.
  • Transformed organization from system integrator to total solution provider including internet and mobile banking solutions. Retained 90% of existing clients, and increased revenue and market share.

Can you imagine these three clients trying to dumb down their resumes after making significant contributions to their companies’ bottomline? The funny thing is that one of them was told to do just that. Of course, I objected. What’s the point? After you have spent years turning around under-performing companies, or engaging in successful mergers and acquisitions, why should you now downplay those accomplishments? Such advice is from the old resume school. Accomplished and confident managers or executives walk away from such advice and devise ways to reach the eyes and ears of decision makers.

It is widely reported that in 1482, Leonardo Da Vinci, wrote the first professional resume highlighting his skills and abilities. He took a pen and a piece of paper, reflected on what he had done, and came up with a masterpiece of a resume. Unfortunately, some job seekers, including mid-career professionals, managers, and executives, fall prey to job search myths, including the idea to dumb down their resumes. They also buy into other myths such as:

  • A resume should be one page
  • It must have an objective
  • It should have a summary with 6 bullets, and
  • Your resume is too big and with too many with accomplishments

These are real comments that job seekers repeatedly hear. There is nothing to suggest that Da Vinci cowered under the weight of other people’s opinions and dumb down his resume. He didn’t downplay his accomplishments because someone told him it would be a good idea. He looked deep within himself, decided he had much to offer, created his resume and sent it off to the Duke of Milan. Don’t play small with your successes! Somewhere out there is an employer looking for someone just like you, with your unique skills and abilities.

There is no doubt that many people are faced with different challenges, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the job search. People become desperate and vulnerable, and when told they are overqualified, the first thing they think of doing, or is advised to do, is to dumb down the resume. The sad part is that these highly accomplished individuals believe this myth.

All is not lost. Before September ends, take some time to update, not dumb down, your resume. While doing so:

  • Avoid redundancies such as ‘references available on request’
  • Use quotes from your performance appraisals or testimonials that validate your accomplishments
  • Adapt your resume to fit the needs of each employer
  • Focus your resume on your skills, talents, experience, and your potential value
  • Rework the resume so that it attracts attention and have employers reaching out to you
  • Be distinct, be unique, be confident! Break out of the sameness mentality and let your resume demonstrate your unique value

Remember: “Your UNIQUENESS is your greatest strength, not how well you emulate others. ~Simon Tam

Have you ever been told to dumb down your resume? Share your story below.

5 Job Search Mistakes You Should Avoid

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From time to time job seekers, prospective clients and clients discuss with me the difficulties they face in finding a job, or getting interviews. Sometimes, these conversations come from unexpected sources: mid-career professionals, managers, and executives.

Most times I empathize with these individuals because the job search process can take a toll on anyone; people get into panic mode, and all rational thinking goes through the window. Sometimes, though, I have to be direct and tell them to hit the delete button on negative thinking. Professionals at these levels should be focusing on who they are and the value they have to offer, rather than how difficult the job search process is. It is said that whatever one focuses on, expands. Focus on negative thinking and it breeds more negatives.

Over the past few days, I have had some email and face-to-face exchanges with several job candidates and identified several job search mistakes they were making. This prompted me to write this post on five job search mistakes you should avoid:

  1. I am overqualified. How do I handle this in the interview? Do not spend your time focusing on being overqualified. Think about what you have to offer. Prepare to explain that you may be overqualified, but only if the company is looking to remain where it is. But, if they want to benefit from your years of experience delivering results; if they want to surpass their competitors, then you are the right person for the job. Of course, back that up with concrete examples that demonstrate your point.
  2. The company indicated only those selected for an interview will be contacted. Follow their rules. Don’t contact them directly, but no one said you couldn’t contact them indirectly. Find employees willing to talk with you about the company, and the position. Ask them for specifics: contact details for the person responsible for hiring, major problems the company is facing, workplace culture and fit. Check out the company’s blog and online presence (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook). What’s being discussed? Who are the influencers? Also, search for former employees who will be able to give you the inside scoop on the company. All this investigative work could pay off, and place you and your resume ahead of others competing for the same job. Some companies offer incentives for internal referrals, and this extra research might just helped you to find one.
  3. I don’t have any interviews lined up, so I am going to wait until I get a date before I seek help. This the most crucial part of the job search. Don’t wait for the last minute on something as important as an interview. Review some interview questions that you are sure they are going to ask, such as ‘Tell me about yourself’, or ‘Why should we hire you?’ Practice with a friend, family member or a career or interview coach. Be prepared! “It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” Whitney Young
  4. My friend in HR reviewed the resume you did, and said it does not have an Objective. This is ‘old school’ thinking, in my opinion. But, on a more serious note, keep in mind that if you show your resume to ten different people, you will get ten different opinions. So, while I respect your friend’s opinion, current resume practice, especially for mid-career professionals, managers, and executives, is to substitute an Objective for accomplishment or value-based statements that speak directly to the position. If the statement focuses on the company’s pain points, and grabs attention, you have just made the hiring manager’s job easier.
  5. I have a LinkedIn Profile, but don’t want to upload a photograph. This is a huge mistake. Without a photo on your LinkedIn Profile, you are considered invisible by hiring managers and recruiters. Go ahead and upload a photo, and when you do, make sure it is professional, and does not include other people. As of today’s writing, I have 27 LinkedIn invitations waiting to be accepted, but they fall into the categories of: no photo, a group photo, or a sketchy profile. I am sure they are great people, but they are hiding. As a job candidate, if you want to grow your network on LinkedIn, or get connected to other people, stop making these mistakes.

Are you making any of those mistakes? Are there others you could add to this post? You are welcome to comment below.

The Best Day For Your Job Search

Monday Rx - Best Day to Job Search Job seeker, this is another sporadic dose of the Monday Rx, a picker-upper to help you get through Mondays. I say ‘sporadic’ because, honestly, it’s not every Monday that I write such a blog post!

Are you having a case of the Monday Morning Blues? Grab your favourite cup of coffee, perk yourself up, and get ready for some great news! Today, Monday, is the best day to submit your resume to the employer (or employers) you have been targeting.

A survey conducted by Bright.com (prior to its acquisition by LinkedIn in February 2014), indicated that the best day to apply for a job is on a Monday (at least in the US).

They analyzed more than half a million job applications revealing that 30 percent of people who applied for a job on Mondays went on to get interviews. On the contrary, Saturdays were the least successful day, when the success rate was only 14 percent.

Bright-Com_SurveyImage: Courtesy of qz.com

The report does not explain why Monday job seekers do best, simply confirming that they do. However, the assumption is that applications that come in on a Monday stand a better chance of being seen than ones that come in later in the week, as resumes pile up on hiring managers’ desks. Then, too, it’s possible that Monday applicants might be more eager, go-getters.

Take some time today to review your resume, make sure it addresses the employer’s needs and articulates the value you will bring, then put your ears, telephone, iPad and email services on alert. You might just be called for an interview.

By the way, there are other positives about Mondays. It is said that Monday is the best day to quit smoking, start a new diet or buy a new car. What are your thoughts about Mondays?

Related links:

Good Morning America Blog

Manjari Shukla (Indian Republic)

 

 

Why You Can’t Pick My Brain for Free

Can't Pick My Brain_daisywright.comThis blog post is directed primarily to solo entrepreneurs and service providers like me. Too often we are asked for free advice by individuals who have no intention of hiring us, and many times we are left feeling guilty if we don’t acquiesce.

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Related tweet from business diva, Marie Forleo: “If they want to pick your brain, ask them to pick a time and method of payment.” @marieforleo

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A few months ago I was returning from a career conference in Florida when my seat companion on the plane struck up a conversation with me. He told me quite excitedly about the new franchise deal he had just sealed. Realizing I was ‘a career expert’ according to him, he asked if he could ‘pick my brain’ and review his bio which he had written himself.  By the time I was finished editing it, it became a full rewrite.

A few weeks later he called to ask if I could give him a few pointers on his business resume. I told him I could, but it would cost him. He told me it was just a review and it wouldn’t take me that long.

Well, while seething under my skin, I asked him politely what his response would have been had I showed up at his deli franchise and asked for a free sandwich. He apologized and said he would call back.

Mr. Franchise Owner didn’t give much thought to ‘picking my brain’ for free for the second time. Consider this email I received last week:

“Hello Daisy,

[Joe Brown] gave me your email address, because I asked him for some tips.

I’m going to have a couple of high level interviews the following week, with two VP´s, can you give some tips??

Thanks in advance!!”

What’s wrong with this picture? Lots! Who is he? What profession or industry is he in? What interview challenges does he have? What position is he interviewing for?

I responded with one of my enquiry emails, asking some of the questions above and, of course, explaining how my coaching works. I have not heard from him since.

The above are just two instances, but I get these requests all the time, and in my client newsletter I discussed two such situations. Unfortunately, individuals like these don’t have any intentions of hiring me. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy helping people. That’s why I have been writing blog content and newsletters for many years, providing a wide array of job and career advice. That’s why, from time to time, I host free career-related webinars or teleseminars. In fact, I continue to offer pro bono services on a personal level, but that’s my choice.

Earlier on, I would have been overcome by guilt if I didn’t offer free advice to all who ask. But, and this is a big BUT…I think some people forget that I actually operate a real business, not a hobby. Successful businesses invest in their employees, making sure they have the resources they need, that they are well-trained, and allowing them to attend workshops and conferences. They want to make sure they have the skills they need to keep the business going. As a solo entrepreneur, I am no different. I do the same things…and they all cost money. That’s why I instituted my Introductory Power Hour Coaching service, which is a win-win all the away around.

Michael Hyatt, the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, wrote a blog post recently on what happened to him when he decided to charge for his blog content which he had been giving away for free for five years. Once he started charging for it, he began to receive some push backs, with some people even questioning his integrity and sincerity. While I am not Michael Hyatt, my time and services are just as important. Here are five nuggets I picked up from his post. (Point #6 is mine):

  1. People don’t respect what they get for free. (In many cases).
  2. Until people make an investment, they are not invested in the outcome.
  3. When you start charging for your services, you go from being an amateur to being a pro.
  4. In short, when you charge, you respect yourself and your own work more. It creates value in your own mind.
  5. Charging for your services is a necessity if you are going to support your family. If you don’t charge, you won’t be doing what you do for long.
  6. If you don’t value your time, neither will others.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do some brain picking myself, but I never assumed it is going to be free. If it is free, I always ask how can I return the favour. However, when someone is going to brazenly take me for granted, then they have passed my threshold of tolerance.

What about you? Have you faced such situations? How do you handle such requests?

A Twitter colleague of mine, Adrienne Graham, summed it up best in her Forbes.com article No, You Can’t Pick My Brain. It Costs too Much. She also has book of the same name.

Related Resources:

Why You Should Do It for the Money (and Stop Feeling Guilty About It)

Three Ways to Say No When People Want to Pick Your Brain

Happy Valentine’s Day: 6 Tips to Put a Little Love in Your Career

Valentino-3Happy Valentine’s Day! Today would’ve been the 18th birthday of my cat, Valentino, seen here on the right. We lost him and his mom, Vanessa, last year, and I am just now getting the courage to even talk about them.

However, this re-run from last year’s archives is not about my cats. It is a gift from me to you. Click on this link (Put a Little Love in Your Career) to get some Valentine’s Day encouragement.

Share your comments here to let me know how you have been putting some love in your career and job search. Happy Valentine’s Day!