job search

Sharpen Up Your Search

By Kristen Harris 

Shark Week has become such a big deal, it’s practically a national holiday! (Nice work, Discovery Channel.)

We’re always picking up new ideas about careers and job search. So, in the spirit of the almost-holiday, here are a few lessons learned from the sharks. Happy hunting!

  1. Never Stop Moving. Sharks have to keep swimming to avoid sinking to the bottom. They are basically always moving, even if it’s ever-so-slightly. Whether you’re building a career, starting a business, or searching for your next opportunity, never stop moving. Do something, even if it’s small, every day. Read an article, learn a skill, send out a resume, contact a potential client–small actions add up over time to keep you moving forward (and prevent sinking to the bottom).

  2. Adjust to the Situation. If there is no food, sharks move on to a location with more options. This is the same with searching for a job, new business, or career growth. If the opportunities aren’t available where you are, adjust and focus on where the opportunities are. This could mean changing tactics, finding new connections, redesigning your marketing pieces, changing your area of focus, or literally relocating.

  3. Choose Your Surroundings. As predators, the feeding behavior of sharks changes according to the presence of prey and competition. They (literally and figuratively) feed off of the energy of the group. Remember that the energy of the people you surround yourself with has a strong impact on your mood and motivation. Spend time in positive situations with people who are encouraging, helpful, and supportive.

  4. Remember and Learn From the Past. Sharks have very good memories. They migrate to follow food sources and remember the (often complex) migratory patterns of their prey. Reflect on where you were successful and not-so-successful in the past. How can you repeat some of the patterns that worked, perhaps in a new and updated way? And remember what didn’t work, avoid it, and try something new?

  5. Socialize with Your Kind. We think of sharks as solitary, but some species are very social, hanging out and hunting in “schools”. As fierce predators, they do not need special protection so this grouping is thought to be purely social. We gain a lot by spending time with others as well. Seek out individuals and groups related to your industry, interests, or a new topic you want to learn. The connections you build can extend way beyond the one meeting or event, leading to long-term relationships and valuable career connections.

The waters can be rough out there! If you have questions about your career or job search, we’re here to help. And we don’t bite, promise.

Your Career: Five Common Job Search Mistakes

By Kristen Harris

Looking for work might seem like a fairly straightforward process but, in fact, it’s quite complex.

There are several steps, a series of interactions, and multiple people involved in your search. Each stage of the process is filled with nuance and details. One false move can take you out of the running, and you may not even know it. The job search process is challenging and stressful enough without putting barriers in your own way.

Check yourself...are you making any of these five common job search mistakes? Be honest, or ask someone you trust for feedback. Sometimes we’re so close to a problem that it’s hard to have perspective. Once you’re aware of an issue, it’s much easier to correct and avoid that mistake in the future.

  1. A mismatch between your skills and the role. It’s important to really know yourself. What are your strengths? Skills? Experience level? Interests? What stage are you at in your career? What you do you want from your next role? Once you’re clear on these things for yourself, then compare your answers to every role in which you’re interested. Do your strengths and skills align with what the company needs? Are you at the right career stage for the role? Does it align with what you want, personally and professionally? Do you like the company? Are you interested in what they do? No job is perfect, but if there is a significant mismatch in several areas, move on to the next opportunity. This is not “the one”.

  2. Cookie-cutter communications. We live in a customized world; don’t send the same message to every contact or in response to every job opportunity. Customize your resume to highlight the exact skills and experiences the company is looking for. Highlight how you’re a great fit for that specific role and company in your cover letter or introductory email. Technology means every communication can be specialized to the recipient, yet people rarely receive truly personalized messages. Make the person on the other end feel as though you’re speaking directly to them and their needs.

  3. Typos in your resume. Typos and bad grammar reflect poorly on you and your work. Resume reviewers will immediately make judgments, and often it’s a shortcut to the trash bin. Not everyone is a great writer or speller, I get it. But, even if you are, find someone to proofread everything for you–your brain often fills in the gaps, it’s easier for someone else to find your mistakes.

  4. Not being prepared for the interview. As an interviewer, there are few things more painful than trying to connect with someone who is clearly not prepared for your conversation. Research the company before your interview (actually, before you apply, otherwise, how do you know you want to work there?). You’ll know what to wear (if you’re still not sure, ask the person scheduling the interview), and you can ask about something they’re working on or a project that was recently announced. Have questions prepared; this is a two-way conversation, and you need to know if it’s a good fit for you too. Be interested and engaged, do your part to make it a good conversation.

  5. Not using your network. Go beyond searching job boards, it’s important to utilize your network. Start with people you already know, personally and professionally, in your community or school, through alumni associations or industry groups. Connect with people online through platforms like LinkedIn. Attend events where people in your industry would be, catch up with people you know and ask them to introduce you to someone new. Then follow the cardinal rule of giving before asking. Even though you want someone’s help, first ask what you can do to help them. By giving first, you’ll establish trust and truly build a relationship; people are much more likely to help or recommend people they know and trust.

Whether looking for your first job, next job, or dream job, eliminating these five mistakes will help you get out of the way of your own success.


Promotion: Getting the Word Out About You

The 4 P's of Marketing Yourself: Promotion, Part 3

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Once you have established where you need to be, how do you make an impact? How do you get remembered? How do you stay front of mind?

Creating your strategy for marketing yourself can be as easy as the 4 P’s: Product, Place, Promotion, and Price. Here we are going to talk about Promotion and how you can get the word out about you. These are some of the things that effectively work for me and for my company:

Partnerships > Sponsorships

At startup stage, we really didn’t have a lot of money. We had to think smart. We had to get the word out about us, so we sponsored an event. I know what you are thinking, sponsorships are a lot of money. Not necessarily if you go about it correctly. When groups put on a large event they cannot get enough money or volunteers. Many things can be offered in-kind or chipping in to help could be offered in exchange for logo placement at the event or on the website. If you are looking to meet people, you might be able to make an exchange for volunteering just for a ticket to the event. Stepping in at this level will also build great relationships. By the way, our first sponsorship was providing cocktail napkins to an event. That was all we could afford. Well, we did pay a little more to have our logo on all of them.

Invest in Branding

Get a really great looking logo and get it out there! This goes back to sponsoring events, writing articles, and handing out a lot of business cards. It is going to take the average person about 7 times of seeing your logo to actually remember it. Keep that in mind when exposing the world to your logo. It is not going to be a one-time thing. Persistence. Make it your friend. And make that logo memorable; clean, bright, and with your personality.

Use Networking to Build Relationships 

You may have noticed by now that this involves a lot of hand shaking and networking. All true. Personally, I had to learn to be comfortable with it. I would define myself as an un-shy introvert. What worked for me was walking into events and knowing that the only thing I may gain from it is getting to know someone a little better. When you go in with the desire to get to know people, what you do is build a network of people that will spread the word about you. All of our best clients and talent come from referrals. Put your time and money there first. It goes back to getting that 5-star rating from the people that really know you. Others will learn about that and take a chance on you.

Marketing yourself always needs a strategy. For me and my company it is always about the relationships; building and maintaining them. This goes for if you own a company or are just trying to get your foot in the door for your next job. One thing to be very aware of is that almost all people are very helpful. Do not be afraid to ask for help, connections, advice, or criticism. People will help as long as you are helpful and courteous in return.

Read part 4, Price, of our 4 P's of Marketing series. 

Black Holes: Mystery of Corporate Sites Unraveled

The opportunity of a lifetime is staring you in the face.  You think you're the perfect person for the position that the company has posted on their site.  You jump through their hoops to get your brief cover letter and resume submitted.  It's exciting... your life is about to change.  Then, you wait.  "They'll call", you tell yourself.  They don't. "Well, at least they'll let me know if I'm a candidate or not."  They don't... in fact, you never hear anything from them ever again.  It's as if your resume went into a black hole.   There are many of you out there who have gone through this process.  It leaves one feeling as though applying to any and all corporate sites are a big waste of time and are a frustration to be avoided by simply not participating.  That would be a mistake.  I know, I managed a black hole.  Or, at least, I managed the job requisitions that I submitted to the site.  That fact is part of the explanation that I hope I can provide on how black holes operate.   Many HR Managers and Talent Acquisition Managers (Recruiters) are managing a single site.  It's just one of their responsibilities and some are better at it than others.  Some care enough to tell everyone who has applied whether they're a candidate or not.  My experience has shown me that a "not interested" response is appreciated and that's what drove me to respond to every applicant.  It may be generic in it's tone and content, but that's because managers are responding to, perhaps, 100 candidates at once.  Sure, managers do concentrate on the best qualified candidates and that's where their energy goes.  But, even if they don't respond at all, a candidate's resume goes into the system.  It can come up again in another search when another manager, or even the same one who ignored you the first time, initiates a query for certain skills while working on another position.  If there aren't any negative comments on your file, they have no reason not to call you if you're a candidate of interest. There are other reasons that the call or email may never come.  The department boss may not want to lose the money that's been allocated for the position.  They don't want to pull it off the site because that will send a signal that the department doesn't need anyone.  However, the department boss may need it, but just not right now.  So, the job stays posted; the department boss doesn't lose their budget; and you go into a black hole because nobody cares about the candidate who has applied to a job that's not "real" at that point in time. Another reason for the lack of response could be due to the nature of the job.  For instance, if you're in sales, your role requires you to find a decision-maker within an organization.  If a sales person submitted an email requesting a meeting with the CEO, do they get an email back from the CEO saying, "Come on in!"  No.  They have to try harder than that; they have to be clever enough to get around the gatekeepers.  Therefore, one of the first hurdles that the company may set is silence.  The sales candidate must pursue the opportunity and the measurement of their abilities may be judged by how they get around the initial "no", which is this silence. Keep submitting.  Be aggressive.  Stay positive.  The opportunity of a lifetime could be staring you in the face... go for it.

Holiday Job Search Tips

Looking for a work? Think that doing anything during the holidays is a waste? Think again. Here are some tips to help your search. I especially like these two:
  1. Use holiday events for schmoozing with family, friends and acquaintances. You never know who will produce your next job lead. Attend as many events as you can reasonably fit into your calendar. You don't want to be obnoxious about your job search and aggravate friends and relatives. But, do prepare a brief statement that tells people you are looking for a job and the kind of job you seek. (edited to add...I hate the word "schmooze", but you get the up your friends and family, you need something to talk about anyway!)
  2. Send holiday cards with your business card enclosed to hiring managers with whom you've recently interviewed. Send one to well-connected friends as well.

Job Searching in a Recession

It's official. Economists have confirmed that the U.S. is in a recession and apparently has been since last December. Thanks guys, most people already knew that. Regardless of that not-so-happy news, if you're looking for work you need to keep moving forward. Job Searching in a Recession hits key areas to keep in mind and a few tips related to each area. Key highlights: Take a closer look at industry data Focus on areas that are more stable or growing, and therefore may be more likely to hire. In the marketing and advertising areas interactive is still a big need, and (according to a recent Columbus Chamber report) local industries that are fairly stable include health, insurance, education, and technology. Freshen up your skills In a competitive job market it's more important than ever to be up-to-date. Employers are looking for candidates who are ready to go on day one, they often don't need to (and won't) provide on-the-job training. Rev up your social networking You probably know a lot more people than you realize. Use online networks like LinkedIn and Facebook to connect or re-connect, and get yourself out to industry events and organization meetings. You'll find out industry news, inside info, leads, referrals, and other helpful information for your search. Think in terms of results It's really always about the employer anyway, but now it's crucial to show them what you can do for them. What you need isn't important unless they can see how much they need you. Sorry. Polish your brand and market it Just posting your resume on job boards and looking on isn't enough. You need to put together a pristine resume, excellent portfolio, make connections, and market yourself just like you'd market a product. Be realistic Experts say to "expect it to take at least three months to find a job that pays $40,000. Add one month for every $10,000 more you want in salary. In other words, if you are looking for $80,000 a year, expect it to take at least seven months to find a new job." Be prepared, it's a process and it takes time.

Holiday Shopping (for a job)

It's Black Friday, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the U.S. While you're making that list, scouring stores and online for the best deals, and recovering from your overload of turkey...don't forget about your job search. Are you thinking that no one hires during the holiday so you might as well forget it and enjoy yourself until the New Year? Think again. Companies don't stop working during the holidays, and neither should you. It could even be to your advantage--if most people do put their search on hold until the New Year then you have less competition! Finding a new job is a top New Year's resolution, and the market will be packed come January. If you're already getting your info out and making progress now, you're at least 4-6 weeks ahead of the crowd. This article, Holiday Shopping for a Job-How to Get Ahead of the Post-Season Competition, has some great advice. Keep moving forward, and do at least one new thing every day to get you towards your goal.