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Did They Really Call You That?

 

Network_1

Did they really call you that? Pardon the term, but have you ever been called a networking ‘ask-hole’? Someone who is always asking for a job; asking for an introduction to someone’s network, asking for favours…sometimes from complete strangers they just connected with on LinkedIn?

The term ‘ask-hole’ is certainly unflattering, (and I am cringing at its use), but if you were really described as such, you may have fallen into the misconception trap that networking (or merely connecting with people) is all about asking for favours.

Every job seeker has heard, at some point, how important it is to network to find hidden job opportunities, but only a few have been told how. Most have been told to ask, not give, and anyone who is constantly asking, runs the risk of being called an ‘ask-hole’.

Networking is not about ask-ask-give. It’s about give-give-ask! You need to develop a Give-Give-Get mentality, according to Porter Gale, author of Your Network is Your Net Worth. Seek opportunities to give, before you begin to ask.

Below are five simple things you could do today to become a better networker. Each tip is backed up by a supporting quote:

  1. Build the relationship first; favours will come later. Before you start asking for favours, start building relationships first, then ask for favours later. Asking for favours too early in the relationship is like going on a first date and asking your date to marry you. In networking terms, it’s a huge turn-off. Brian Tracy said, “The value of a relationship is in direct proportion to the time that you invest in the relationship.”
  2. Don’t ask for a job; ask about them. When you first connect with someone, don’t ask them for a job. Ask about their career trajectory and success stories. (Psst…People enjoy talking about themselves.) Carlos Ghosn said: “Any job very well done that has been carried out by a person who is fully dedicated is always a source of inspiration.” Show them that you are inspired by their stories.
  3. Be respectful of their time. When you ask for a few minutes of their time, stick to the schedule. Do not prolong the meeting beyond the time you had requested. “Respect people who find time for you in their busy schedule.” Unknown. Give them the option of extending the time.
  4. Give of your time, talent and/or your resources. There is always something you can do for someone, whether he or she is on the lowest rung of the organization, or is the CEO. Share your industry expertise; offer to help out on a project; send a congratulatory message on a recent promotion. All these giving efforts will showcase your brand and make you more attractive to decision makers. In Benjamin Franklin’s words, “Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?”
  5. Be fully engaged in the conversation. When speaking to someone, show them that you are fully engaged. Do not let your eyes wander around the room for your next catch. Do not take a quick peak at your mobile devices. Do not interrupt the conversation to finish the person’s sentence. Remember Jimi Hendrix’s wise words that “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens”. Listen attentively.

Networking is a proven pathway to the elusive hidden job market, and ultimately to job search success. But, it is not an easy process. It requires strategy and patience, and more giving than receiving. If networking doesn’t work the first time around, keep on trying, but always start from a position of giving before asking.

What’s the one step you can take NOW that will help you become a better giver? After all, you don’t ever want to be called an ‘ask-hole’.

Go ahead and take that one step now! Your job search depends on it.

How a Patchwork Quilt Résumé Could Damage Your Brand

Wikipedia’s Definition of a patchwork quilt: a quilt in which the top layer consists of pieces of fabric sewn together to form a design.

By my own definition, a patchwork quilt résumé is one that is made up of phrases and sentences copied from other people’s career documents (résumé, cover letter, bio, or LinkedIn Profile), and presented as one’s own.

Recently, there was an intense discussion on the forum of one of my professional associations about someone who had copied blocks of a sample résumé to create her own then contacted one member to spruce it up for her. While scrutinizing the document, the member realized the contents didn’t gel, so she did a Google search. It turned out the sample résumé was crafted by another member of this same association and posted in an article on AOL.

I have had my share of people sending me résumés made up of bits and pieces of other people’s résumés, and sometimes cover letters. In one case, it was the summary from one of my own creations. As I started reading the résumé, I thought the wording sounded familiar. On checking, I realized it was one I had written for another client. This new client told me someone had helped him out for free but he wasn’t having much success with it.

When information is copied from someone else’s résumé, it is very easy to spot the patchwork quilt design. The information is incoherent; statements are generic and some phrases just do not match the person’s experience or background. Actions like these only serve to damage one’s brand, and elicit accusations of plagiarism, copyright infringements, and ethics. Moreover, if such a résumé lands on the desk of a discerning hiring manager, such a candidate’s credibility will come into question, and he or she will most likely not be called for an interview.

Here are the facts:

  • Your résumé is a branding tool that tells YOUR story, not someone else’s, and shows the face YOU want employers to see.
  • You are unique! There is no one else like you, with the same experience, accomplishments and work ethic. Your co-worker may have the same job description and may do the same work like you, but he or she is not your clone. You must differentiate yourself.
  • Your aim is to create a résumé that captures your unique talents, accomplishments and experience; not one that looks like a patchwork quilt, or one that gives the impression you have a Jekyll and Hyde personality.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Instead of scouring the Internet for sample résumés to build your own, take a look at your job description and ask yourself “What have I done with the job they asked me to do? How is the company better off since I joined?”
  • Read each job description statement and apply the ‘so what’ factor to each. For example, if one of your responsibilities is to “monitor and analyze sales promotion results...” Ask yourself, “So what? What did I do? What happened?”
  • Review your last two performance appraisals and look for the nuggets of your contributions from projects you worked on, objectives met and targets exceeded.
  • Start building a résumé that tells YOUR story. Make sure each statement addresses your value proposition, and answers the employer’s question “Why should we hire you?” If you are unable to create your own résumé, find someone whom you trust; has credentials and know what they are doing.

Don’t damage your brand with a patchwork quilt résumé. Learn to tell your own story and get hired!

How to Clue into a Company’s Corporate Culture

While companies put on their best face and say all the right words when trying to lure talented candidates, candidates need to be their own detectives and conduct due diligence to find out if the culture or the face of the company aligns with their values.  Fast Company gives some advice on how to clue in to a Company’s Corporate Culture and save yourself from headaches.

  • Go beyond the company’s website in your research, and perform a Google search. Also look for them or their employees on LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Instead of focusing on the job title, the salary and that corner office you hope to occupy, take a step back and pay attention to the small things.
  • Arrive 20 minutes early for the interview so you can see the happenings. Listen carefully to what employees are saying to each other; pay attention to their mode of dress and how they treat each other.
  • Take a mental snapshot of your new boss’s office to see what’s important to him or her. Too many pictures of politicians when you are not the least bit interested in politics could be a sign.
  • If you need specific answers to a burning question, ask your prospective boss to tell you a story, much like a behaviour-based interview. “Tell me a time when…. “. This could be quite revealing.
  • After leaving an interview, sit down and make a list of everything you learned, and flag anything that is of concern to you. If something is bugging you, seek clarification before you accept the job.
  • If you are close to accepting the job offer, but still have questions, arrange an informal meeting with the new boss over coffee or lunch. Size up how he or she interacts with others. That will give you a good clue as to what to expect.

What are your thoughts? Add your own comment below.

Source: Fast Company

Image courtesy of Jaunehibisbus

 

Do You Have the Courage to….?

 

After my Mother passed away recently, I took a respite from everything for several weeks, including my business. I just couldn’t motivate myself to do anything and so I needed something to pull me through. I decided to use the time to ask and answer my own questions:

  • What did it take for me to make the decision to move to Canada?
  • What did it take to apply for and get a job at the UN while I was enroute to Canada?
  • What did it take to negotiate my salary with my first Canadian employer when the initial offer was not what I expected?
  • What did it take to get a teaching position at Sheridan College?
  • What did it take to start my business?
  • What did it take to write my book?

As I reflected on each question, one word kept revolving in my mind and it was COURAGE! I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be in any of those decisions, but each time I felt this burning feeling in my stomach to do something, I took a leap of faith.

How about you? What giant (or small) leap have you taken after just seeing the first step? Or, are you someone who has to see all the steps before making a move?  It doesn’t matter if it’s a small or giant step, if you are to move from where you are to where you want to be, it will take courage. You have to be prepared to:

C Commit and persevere. This is sometimes the most difficult part, as many people give up soon after they start. Remember, “there’s always a dip in the middle of working toward a goal. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Just brush yourself off and re-commit!” (Shawn Driscoll)
O Open your eyes, ears and mind for new opportunities and offers. They come in various forms, but you have to be prepared to seize the moment.
U Uncover your talents. You may have latent talents just waiting to be uncovered. Take an assessment if you are unsure about your gifts, or enlist the help of a career coach.
R Reach out and request help from others. Many people are willing to offer you assistance, but you must ask. I couldn’t have done it on my own. Family, friends and professional colleagues played a huge role.
A
Accept the fact that failure is a part of success. My colleague @LydiaFernandes tweeted recently, “Everytime you fall, it’s an opportunity to get back up & rock it out even harder!” and Author Tim Harford in his new book: Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure, says we should “fight failure with courage.”
G Get Ready, Get Set and Go! Let go of whatever is holding you back and take the first step. Linda Mastandrea said “Go after your dream, no matter how unattainable others think it is.”
E Engage people face-to-face and through social media to build relationships. Up to 85% of opportunities are found through networking. Keep in mind, however, that it’s a two-way-give-and-get street.

It is as easy as that. Everything begins with a first step. That first step is commitment. It might take you some time to get there, just don’t ever dare to give up. As you do some reflections of your own, let me leave you with these words from Dale Carnegie & Ralph Marston:

“Most of us have far more courage than we ever dreamed we possessed.” ~ Dale Carnegie

“Your biggest limitation is your reluctance to move forward. Get over that, and you can get over anything .Time, money, knowledge, and resources are minor considerations when compared to one vital factor. That factor is your willingness to get it done.” ~ Ralph Marston

I hope you will take your leap of faith, and Just Do It!

Feel free to share your comments below about COURAGE.