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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!

Going Beyond the Resume (P3): Launch a Social Media Campaign

Social Media Computer Key Showing Online CommunityThis is the final of our three-part series on Going Beyond the Resume. It is going to take you out of your comfort zone and on a limb that will scare the daylights out of you, but you cannot conduct a successful job search without it.

I know you are wondering why you should launch such a campaign. Well, the traditional way of conducting a job search is not working. For too long you have been engaged in ‘push marketing’ where you are sending resumes to every possible company and contact. But, your resume is being held up in the resume black hole and not getting to the decision maker. It’s time to engage in ‘pull marketing’ where you become a target for potential employers. Here are some reasons to embrace this concept. A personal social media job search campaign will:

(1)    differentiate you from your competition – all those vying for the same position you are after.

(2)    give you opportunities to engage with your target employers, connect with colleagues working in your industry, and expand your network.

(3)    allow you to leverage your brand using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other platforms where recruiters will discover you and learn about you.

If you have a LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Google+ account, you already have the tools to begin. Participate in discussions on these forums where your target employers are. It is pointless to join social media groups without becoming an active participant. That’s like attending a meeting but not contributing to the discussion. Ask and answer questions, Give or request opinions on your areas of interest, create your own discussion topics or write articles that will generate conversations.

Don’t hesitate to comment on a company’s blog. Remember the story of the young man from Oregon who tried for two years to get a job at Microsoft. It wasn’t until he started to contribute to conversations on the company’s blog that they took notice and hired him 10 days after he was discovered.  A well-defined social media job search strategy will help boost your reputation and have employers seeking you out than the other way around. It also helps you stand out from your competition who, in all likelihood, is spending all their time on push marketing.

Here is a simple way to start your campaign:

  1. Find a blog post, a tweet or an article from one of the employers you would like to work for.
  2. Read it thoroughly. Decide if you would like to ask a question or give your opinion about it. If someone has already made comments, engage in the dialogue to showcase your expertise.
  3. Don’t let it end there. Take the conversation to your preferred social media platform. Offer it as an update on LinkedIn where people in your network could ‘Like’ it, or offer their own comments. Take the discussion to one of your LinkedIn groups to garner additional exposure.

In a Fast Company Article, the writer of this tells a story of how a 16-year old high school student emailed her out of the blue, and asked to join her as a guest on her TV show. He did not send a resume, but instead included links to his website, Twitter account, Facebook page, and three relevant YouTube clips. (This kid launched his own social media campaign!). This initiative earned him an invitation to be a guest on the show. Read the kid’s story in the second paragraph of this link: Social Media Campaign

Why Job Seekers Should Get on Board the Social Media Train

SocialNetworkingIf you are a job seeker who has been avoiding the social media recruiting train, it’s time to get on board. That’s because more and more recruiters are riding that train and will continue to do so in future. According to a recent survey from Jobvite, 94% of the 1,600 recruiters they interviewed either use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts. If that’s the case, wouldn’t be a good idea for job seekers to get on board and be found?

Key Findings from the Survey 

  • 94% of recruiters use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts.
  • 78% of recruiters have made  a hire through social media. Of this number, 92% hired through LinkedIn.
  • 42% of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate positively or negatively, based on what they saw after viewing their profile.
  • Social profiles give  recruiters more  confidence in a  candidate’s  professional  and cultural fit.
  • Social recruiting generates strong ROI,  both in dollars and candidate quality.

LinkedIn Dominates 

While these recruiters are using multiple channels to find top candidates, LinkedIn remains the dominant channel according to the report:

  • 96% use LinkedIn to search for candidates
  • 94% use it to contact candidates
  • 93% use it to keep tabs on candidates
  • 92% use it to vet candidates, and
  • 91% use it to post jobs.

Facebook and Twitter round off the top three channels of choice for recruiters at 65% and 55%, respectively.

What Recruiters Look for on Social Profiles

Recruiters not only look for professional experience on a candidate’s social profile, but also for length of tenure, hard skills, industry-related conversations (via blog posts for e.g.), and cultural fit. Sixty-five percent of the recruiters view volunteering and donations to charity as a plus for candidates. The report also shows that when a candidate has a strong social profile, it gives recruiters more confidence about their professionalism and potential as a good cultural fit.

Social Recruiting Generates Strong ROI 

Some recruiters have found that companies that have implemented a social recruiting strategy, have seen a positive impact on the companies’ ROI. For example, they have seen a 33% jump in the time it takes to hire a candidate, a 49% increase in the quantity and quality of candidates, and the quantity and quality of employee referrals have jumped 43%.

These recruiters have said what many people already know: that the best-quality candidates come through referrals from employees’ networks. As a result, 68% of the companies interviewed offer referral compensation to gain a competitive advantage.

Based on the survey, it is even more important for job seekers to become more strategic and develop and nurture relationships with people within the companies they are targetting. Are you ready to ride the social media recruiting train?

Grab a copy of the report here: 2013 JobVite Social Recruiting Survey

LinkedIn Endorsements: Fad, Foe or Friend?

If you are active on LinkedIn you may have started receiving endorsements from some of your connections. I have, and must say that when they started arriving in my Inbox I thought spam hackers had infiltrated the accounts of some of the people in my network and were sporadically sending out these messages. I became a bit more curious when I noticed endorsements were coming from some individuals with whom I had very little, if any, interactions. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate all I have received so far, but because I wasn’t aware that such a feature exists, I was sceptical. It wasn’t until I saw several posts on a discussion board and visited the LinkedIn blog that I realized the emails were legitimate.

LinkedIn Endorsement is a feature that allows your contacts to click a button and recognize and validate skills and expertise that you have on your profile. They can also add skills and expertise that they know you have but ones you may not have listed. In fact, in a word or phrase, a LinkedIn endorsement could help to answer the age old question, “What are you good at?” The feature also allows you to pay-it-forward by endorsing the expertise of people in your network who you know quite well or by reciprocating the favour of those who have endorsed you. Having said that, is this LinkedIn Endorsement feature a fad, a foe or a friend?

Fad. From much of what I have read, some people have characterized it as a fad – a trend that will pass. One individual curtly said, “This too shall pass”, referring to Twitter‘s #FollowFriday and Facebook‘s ‘Likes’. A comment on Inquirer.net states, “As the feature stands, it’s really just eye-candy for Linkedin, perhaps catching the attention of an employer but quickly fading away under detailed scrutiny.” One colleague commented that, “This whole endorsements thing is kinda brainless…silly and devoid of meaning.” Digital marketer, Eric Whittlake, portends that the value of LinkedIn as a business network will decrease while traffic to the site and potential advertising will increase. And, blogger Garrett Heath, said, “The Endorsement feature cheapens some of these accomplishments and turns a candidate’s profile/resume effectively into a “Like” contest.”

Foe. Although this could be more perception than reality, somewhere down the road, recruiters and hiring managers could be tempted to look at the number of endorsements one has and eliminate some otherwise talented people from the competition because they do not have many endorsements. This is not too far-fetched as there were discussions in the blogosphere and on job boards several months ago about some employers using one’s Klout score (or number of Twitter followers, for that matter), to determine how much clout (influence) one has and which applicants should be short-listed for interviews. Endorsements could also impact the LinkedIn’s Recommendations feature since it is easier to click on a skills button than to write a recommendation. And, in some circles, endorsements could be viewed as a “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” strategy, which could be frowned on and diminish its effectiveness.

Friend. The upside to the act of endorsements is that it could be perceived as a 360° validation of your expertise. Not only are you saying you are ‘the best thing since sliced bread’ but people who are familiar with you and your work also agrees with you. These endorsements add value and credibility and back up your claim of having those skills and expertise. An endorsement could also be mutually beneficial as you can return the favour of the endorser and thereby capitalize on each other’s network. If done correctly, endorsements could enhance the value of the recommendations you already have.

It’s obvious that the feature has friends and foes. From my perspective, however, the jury is still out. First, the feature is only a month old (up to the time of this post); second, I am still not sure how to use it effectively. For example, when I thought I was accepting endorsements, I ended up clicking on the “Endorse All 4” button that popped up without clearly looking at who I was endorsing. There will be many more discussions about the value of endorsements, and when that happens we can all determine if a LinkedIn Endorsement is a fad, a foe or a friend. Leave your comments or your discoveries in the “Speak Your Mind” section below.

Additional reading:

The Pros and Cons of Endorsements

How LinkedIn Skills Endorsement Impact Your Job Search

Endorsement Feature Degrades LinkedIn as a Professional Network

 

10 Reasons CareerTips2Go Café is better than Starbucks!

We all clamour for that cup of coffee, and in my case, that cup of tea, to start our morning. On a Monday morning like this, we probably need more than one cup to get us started. What if you were being offered something much better than that cup of coffee or tea; something to put your career on the fast track to success? You can have it. It’s offered at our CareerTips2Go Café, and it’s longer lasting than what you get at Tim Hortons, Starbucks and even McDonald’s. Here’s what the Cafe provides:

  1. A Coach-on-Call to assist you with your resume, interview, and other job search questions.
  2. Step-by-step instructions on how to how to create your own story-telling resume.
  3. Opportunities to learn how to leverage social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+) to build your professional network.
  4. Tactics on researching companies, bypassing the gatekeepers and getting to the decision-maker
  5. Strategies to increase your confidence and boost your self-esteem.
  6. Access to up-to-date interview trends and case studies.
  7. Coaching on how to articulate your accomplishments, strengths and potential to your next employer.
  8. Up-to-date career resources and techniques at your fingertips.
  9. On-demand coaching customized for you.
  10. An objective voice to tell you like it is even though it might hurt.

Drop by and see what we have on the menu, and give us some feedback while you are there!

Own Your Name. Build Your Personal Brand. Up Your Job Search Game

Do you own your name? “Of course, I do”, you say! Last week I hosted a free teleconference for job seekers and professionals to gauge their career plans for 2012, and see if I could help them achieve their goals. I offered some options on how they could up their job search game in the new year, and differentiate themselves from their competitors. A few days later, I had coffee with someone who had missed the call, but who wanted to bring me up-to-date on her next career move. She told me about her plans for the year and about her new website. While discussing the website, I suggested that she claimed her name on the web by registering it as a domain. Her eyes opened widely as in “What do you mean?”

These days whether you are a job seeker or an entrepreneur, one of the first steps to building your personal brand is to claim your name – register your name as a website. I learned this early. You see, actor Jude Law’s former nanny has my name, and I wasn’t aware of it until I heard of the scandal surrounding their alleged affair. Soon after that, I claimed and registered www.daisywright.com and www.daisywright.ca, as domain names through Hostmonster (Affiliate Link). I have since given up the .CA domain.

Why is it important to own your name? The hiring process has changed for job seekers, and personal branding has become very important.  Recruiters and employers don’t rely solely on traditional methods to learn about or evaluate potential employees. They are swamped with résumés, phone calls and emails. It is, therefore, your responsibility to change the way you market your stories and your skills to employers, and raise your visibility because your résumé and cover letter are no longer enough. The same is true for entrepreneurs.

To begin your brand-building process, your first step is to register your name as a domain, if it’s still available.  Use it as a one-stop haven for your social media tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube (if you’re venturing into videos). When employers and recruiters begin searching for you, or when you need to connect with someone of influence, it’s easy to send them a link to your own website which houses your other profiles.

In a recent Fast Company article, the writer tells a story of how a 16-year old high school student emailed her out of the blue, and asked to join her as a guest on her TV show. He did not send a résumé, but instead included links to his website, Twitter account, Facebook page, and three relevant YouTube clips. This is a 16-year old! He has already learned how to use the web to his advantage–building a strong and positive personal brand before he even reaches his adult years. Twelve months into his brand-building exercise, he is already a well-known regular tech TV expert and blogger–and he’s not even out of high school yet.

What about you? Are you ready to step forward and do something as daring as ‘Mr. 16-year old’? Do you own your name on the web? Are your profiles up-to-date and housed in one place? Have you scoured your Facebook profile to make sure that everything is professional? Do you have blog? If not, are you contributing your expertise to industry blogs? If a recruiter or employer begins searching for someone with your stories and skills, will you stand out from the herd, or will you stay hidden in the crowd?

CEOs, HR Executives and recruiters encourage job seekers to use social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and blogs to improve their chances of getting a job. One CEO stated in a Boston Globe article that, “We often find hires because of their activity in social media and, especially, the blogosphere.”

A recruiter said, “We like to see candidates who have filled in their LinkedIn profile completely. Upload your resume, and if you are a blogger (and it is relevant to your career), post the link to your blog. With respect toTwitter, she said,”We use Twitter directory tools to find candidates whose bios match our hiring needs.”

The field is too competitive these days for you to continue doing what you have always done and expecting different results. You’ve got to be willing to go the extra mile in bringing visibility to your story. It’s time to up your game, begin building your personal brand and let the job vacancies find you.

Sources:

Five Steps to a Better Brand

Social Media Advice for Job Seekers

 

11 Things You Can Do Between 11 AM & 11 PM on November 11, 2011

While this blog post is not really connected to November 11, and the Poppy, I have chosen its image as a reminder of the many people who paid and continue to pay the ultimate price for the freedom we so often take for granted. In their honour, I ask that you take a brief moment (less than 11 minutes) to read and understand the significance of this memorable poem written by Lt. Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian Army. In Flanders Field.

That said, today being 11/11/11, appears to have a significance of its own for many people and what’s going to happen after this date. An extract from the following blog post: The Aquarian Shift: What Will be Different in Our World After November 11,  states:

“You are ready to accept that you have the knowledge and wisdom within yourself. It is no longer necessary to attach to something outside yourself, but to become a leader of one: yourself. Instead of being a railroad car that is pulled by an engine, you become your own engine. It is your responsibility to stay on the tracks and to keep moving forward.”

Here are 11 things you can do to show you are, indeed, leader of one – yourself’ – and that you have the courage to become your own engine’:

  1. “Greet your friends with a smile, and put soul into every handclasp.”Elbert Hubbard
  2. Show appreciation to those who have fought and continue to fight for world peace.
  3. Learn to say “Thank You” in 11 different languages.
  4. Pick up the phone and make one of those cold calls you’ve been procrastinating about.
  5. Take 11 minutes out of your 15-minute break and mentor someone.
  6. Randomly select 11 people from any of your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Google+ accounts, and send them a message to say how glad you are to have them in your network.
  7. Take an 11-minute mind break to be alone with yourself. Even if you are in an office full of people, just take the time to be quiet.
  8. Send a motivational quote, a tip or a favourite recipe to 11 people in your address book.
  9. Write down 11 accomplishment statements you could use to improve your resume.
  10. Write down 11 interview questions that you struggle to answer.
  11. Send a LinkedIn invitation to 11 people with whom you would like to connect.

Happy 11/11/11, and to whatever significance you attach to it, if any.

 

Client Lands Job Posted on Twitter

Her recent email read “Remember that job posting you sent me about a Bilingual Marketing Manager where they asked me to translate my résumé to French? I want to let you know that I got an offer and I accepted it. I am very excited since there will be a lot of interesting challenges and I am getting everything I want – salary, vacation and benefits. Thank you for all your help and I will keep in touch.”

This message was from a client with whom I had been working for several months. She was having a tough time finding a marketing manager’s position and thought that nine months was unbelievably too long to be looking for work. At times in our conversations I could sense her frustration, but I reminded her gently that job searching could be a slow and tedious process, but if she kept her head up and continued doing the right things she would eventually land the job she wanted. I also told her that giving up was not an option. She hung in there and got the job.

How did this happen? As part of the job search strategy, I encourage my clients to invest time in social media. I do, and it’s not not for social reasons, although that happens. On Twitter, for example, I follow hiring managers, recruiters and job boards, and participate in Twitter Chats with HR professionals, recruiters and leadership coaches to keep abreast of industry trends. Through these channels, I sometimes become aware of job opportunities and if I find that someone in my network seem to be a match for some of these opportunities (whether they are clients or not), I forward the information to them.

This Bilingual Marketing Manager’s job is a great example. It was posted on Twitter by Monster Canada (@Monsterca). When I read the requirements, it sounded perfect for my client so I forwarded it to her. She translated her résumé to French as the company requested, and after a couple of interviews and several weeks of waiting (because of the summer holidays), she landed the job with “everything she wanted…” as noted above.

Looking for a job is a full-time job, as it’s often said, but it requires various strategies to achieve success. The other point is that you may have a great résumé, but if you continue to use ineffective job search methods or rely on one particular strategy, it will not help you land the job of your dreams. Therefore, plan to incorporate social media tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ into your job search toolkit because that’s where employers and recruiters hang out these days. Job boards are still around, but the companies behind these boards are extending their reach via social media. If you are an early adopter ready to jump on the social media band wagon, you will be way ahead of your competitors and achieve your job search goal.

And, don’t buy in to the concept that there are no jobs! Jobs are out there, but you need to assess your skills, employ a variety of tools, be deliberate with your search and visualize yourself sitting at the desk as an employee at one of your target companies!  Remember, “Whatever the mind can conceive, it can achieve.”

I hope you have gained some value from this post. Share your comments below, or connect with me if you need to discuss how you can move your career forward. I will be pleased to have a chat with you!

 

Google+…What is This?

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with 30+ Internationally Trained Engineers at Humber College about marketing themselves to employers. After I had touched briefly on the Big 3 social networking platforms – LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook – I introduced Google+. “Google what?” they asked. If you haven’t heard of it yet, Google+ is the new kid on the social networking block that arrived on the scene in June. Think of it as a blend of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Now, you may already be suffering from social media fatigue and do not want to hear about another one. However, Google+ is worth exploring. Why? Recruiters and hiring managers are there. Some are already using the Hangout feature to conduct interviews and meetings. Career coaches, resume writers, HR and public relations professionals, and marketing and communication experts are using this same feature to network with each other.

If you are an early adopter, you have a chance to follow these professionals and get to know who the other players in their circles are, who they are connected to and who are connected to them. You will have an opportunity to network with other users who, as they get to know you, may be able to help you in your job search or career transition. Remember, networking is key!

Speaking of early adopters, blogger/author/speaker, Chris Brogan is writing a book on Google+. Imagine that, and the platform is not yet 3 months old. As a job seeker or career changer, you need to be acquainted with all these social networking tools, and they are basically free. Explore and see which one aligns best with your interest and goals, then dive in. As the saying goes, “The early bird catches the worm.” You need to be leading the pack ahead of your competitors.

Years ago when blogs weren’t that fashionable, I suggested to a colleague that she creates a blog to showcase her expertise and distinguish herself as a communications specialist. Of course, it was the intent that someone would notice her extraordinary writing capabilities and contact her. She told me that blogging was a fad that would soon wane! Well, the would-be fad is now main stream.

Don’t get left behind. You already know how difficult it is to find job opportunities through traditional means. The use of social media in your job search is critical. Whether or not you jump on the Google+ bandwagon, you owe it to yourself to find out what it’s all about. Here  is a link that explains the basics of Google+:  Introduction to Google+. Once you have reviewed it, post a comment to tell me your thoughts.

At the moment, you can only join Google+ by invitation, and I have been allotted 150 invitations.  If you would like to test-drive it, send me an email with ‘Google+’ in the subject line and I will send you an invitation. View my profile-in-the-making at http://gplus.to/careertips2go. Remember, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Google+ is F.R.E.E.

If Facebook Were a Country…

Whether you are a job seeker, you are in a career transition or you are an entrepreneur, it’s impossible to ignore social media these days. Career and business opportunities are aplenty via Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter, but are you taking advantage of them? If you are not already convinced, read the following stats taken from an email from John Assaraf, of OneCoach:

Did you know that…

  • If Facebook were a country, it would be third-largest in the world, and growing faster than #1 and #2 combined?
  • YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world. Every minute, 24 hours of video is uploaded to it.
  • LinkedIn is the largest network of business professionals in the world, with over 70 million users in 200 countries. 12 million of them visit daily, and a new one joins every second.
  • Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers. 96% of them have joined a social network.
  • 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations about products. Only 14% trust ads.
  • 93% of all business buyers believe all companies should be on social media platforms.

Although these questions were geared to business owners, it applies equally to job seekers and those in a career transition.  Arm yourself with the tools of the social media revolution. Test the waters and swim in the one that appeals to you. Do something, will you?