You see them posted everywhere – experts doling out advice on how job search candidates must update, enhance, optimize and create LinkedIn profiles that will grab the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. I admit, I am one of those oracles of LinkedIn and even teach LinkedIn classes to those looking to make a career or job change.
I’m on LinkedIn morning, noon and night and what I’ve seen is that some of The Worst profiles are those belonging to recruiters and human resources professionals.
I’ve seen a profile photo of a recruiter French kissing her dog. OK, she worked at a start-up but plu-eeze.
I’ve seen seductive poses. Most recently, I came across a Recruiting Director’s profile where a she poses in a black, tight dress, plunging neckline, leaning seductively on a fence.
One of my favorites is the HR leader who looks like he posted his FBI Most Wanted profile photo. I’m calling the police just to report a crime against my eyeballs.
There are profiles with summaries longer than “War and Peace”, paragraphs that would bore anyone to tears under each job, and a complete lack of attention to detail.
One of my most recent favorites: an HR Manager with a heading that is entirely misspelled. So if she comes up in a search, her lack of professionalism is front and center.
Maybe I shouldn’t be teaching LinkedIn profile classes to job seekers alone. Maybe my target audience should be my HR and recruiting colleagues.
For the love of L&D, please walk the walk AND talk the talk. How can we be such hypocrites? We expect so much of our candidates, so why don’t we take care of our own side of the street?
Enough said. You know who you are. Get walking.
To write the Thank You note or not to write the Thank You note…. That is a question.
Read on – I had the honor of being featured by WomenOnBusiness.com and am delighted to share the posting with you.
One of the most frequent requests we hear from clients is to assist them with their LinkedIn profiles.
We get it…you feel like you SHOULD update your profile and use LinkedIn more effectively but you don’t know where to start.
Luckily, Plum holds quarterly LinkedIn workshops where we demonstrate all the bells and whistles LinkedIn has to offer. You leave the workshop knowing exactly what you need to do with your profile, what it should look like and how to take advantage of LinkedIn’s value.
Our next session is coming up and we encourage you to invest 2.5 hours and less than a month’s worth of lattes on learning how to optimize your profile.
Come join us, won’t you?
CLICK HERE to register.
90% of the clients that I coach begin their initial call this way:
“I have never had to look for a job before. A former colleague has always hired me or I have been recruited by an organization. I am not at all familiar with how to look for a job, especially in this day and age.”
I hear you loud and clear. Prior to this past year or two, you have always been pursued. Now, job search makes you the “pursuer” and it is a frustrating mystery as to how it works.
Here are 5 elements of job search that every leader needs to know:
Clarity of message.
When you begin a job search, you are starting from Ground Zero. That means that you have to layout, in very clear terms, exactly what you do, in what industry and share metrics that tell a story of success. People you meet need a clear understanding of what you do and you cannot rest on your reputation.
Example: “Over the past 10 years I have led the acquisitions function at larger companies like X and I am exploring VP of Business Acquisition roles where I can leverage my experience in technical valuation and organization integration.”
Don’t hit up connections without a strong value proposition and a listening ear
Many of my clients have exhausted their connections (network) before they have really laid out what they want. They also begin those coffee meetings by talking about themselves.
The very first thing you should do is ask the person sitting across from you about them – their business challenges, what they are experiencing in their own careers and what they are seeing in the market.
Only then, you should share your clear, crisp, articulate message about what you’ve been doing and what you want to do moving forward. Better yet, address some of your colleague’s comments by sharing your own perspective.
Job search isn’t about you at all, although we wish it were.
It is about what the person sitting across from you is interested in and how your story, experience and interests map to theirs. Listen intently for clues and share your story, keeping in mind what will resonate with the person sitting across from you.
Your resume isn’t your search.
Most of my C-suite clients think that by working on their LinkedIn profile or resume it will solve everything, a recruiter will find them and they will have a job in hand asap.
That is typically not going to happen.
Your resume is a tool in your search. It is a document that tells a story about your successes that back up what you share in one-on-one conversations. It is highly unlikely that a resume will get you a job. I have been recruiting for 20 years and I’d hazard a guess that I have hired no more than 10% of my candidates just by reading their resume.
That said, if your resume isn’t specific and says things like “Ability to manage complex business issues and drive change”, that isn’t helpful at all.
Your resume should be targeted to the exact type of role you want and use the vernacular of that role.
Search firms are not going to save you.
One of the first questions I am asked by C-suite clients is what search firm they should target. I am sorry to say that the glory days of being “head-hunted” are mostly over. The economic downturn put an end to that and although the search firms are seeing an up-swing in targeted types of searches, there are reasons that search firms won’t be that helpful.
Search firms depend on the demand of their corporate clients. If a search firm doesn’t have a role that maps to you on their desk, they will put you in a pile along with the other resumes that don’t match what they have in front of them.
They are notoriously bad at getting back to you. That will bring down your self esteem – not ideal when you are engaged in a process that requires you to stay upbeat.
Great search firm recruiters develop relationships with candidates over long periods of time. I know lots of search firm and former search firm recruiters and they have shared their methods: only the most topnotch, niche talent will receive attention. Unfortunately, if you haven’t been contacted by a recruiter by now, they are likely not interested in you. They have whole departments dedicated to finding what they need and those researchers can find a needle in a haystack.
Search firms are not the be-all and end-all of executive placement. Sorry.
The optimal job search incorporates thoughtful, meaningful, targeted messages. It also requires a listening ear, less of a bombastic demeanor, humility and tenacity. All of these are what you already bring to the table. You just may need a bit of guidance to remind you.
This post is written by Plum Transition Coach, Kelly Peterson. Kelly’s impressive background includes years with premiere employers Nike, Adidas and Converse. Kelly’s bio appears on our About Us page. I’m sure you’ll be inspired by Kelly’s suggestions. Lora
Confidence is often the deciding factor in whether you make the sale, get the date, nab the promotion, or get the job. It isn’t to be confused with arrogance or pride, but rather it is an innate way to hold yourself and use your words and actions to convey that you understand your value. Confidence means sticking up for yourself, setting boundaries, delivering on your commitments, and knowing your worth.
Since confidence is so important to achieving your goals, here are the top 5 ways to show confidence and ultimately live it every day:
1. Presentation is everything.
In order to feel your best, you need to look your best. Wear a color that makes you feel powerful (my power color is yellow) and choose clothes that project the person and position that you aspire for. When you walk out into the world feeling good about your presentation, you will notice you acquire a certain swagger. Speaking of swagger, walk faster, sit taller; keep your shoulders back, simple adjustments in posture will increase your feelings of confidence and power by nearly 25%.
2. In it to win it.
Visualize yourself achieving your goal, imagine how it will look, how it feels, what you might say to others about it. Allow this to become the reality. From CEO’s to politicians to athletes, the greats use this trick to separate themselves from someone who WANTS to achieve, to someone who KNOWS they will achieve.
3. Know Before you go.
When you know your audience, topic or business environment, you can speak with authority about the things that matter. Listen closely in all interactions, people will tell you what they value and ultimately what they are looking for. Once you artfully listen, have an opinion, read relevant materials, discuss with others of authority, but know what YOUR unique perspective is.
4. Preparation is King.
In line with our prior point, you must prepare. Write down your thoughts, practice saying them out loud until they come out smoothly. If you can’t say it out loud without your voice shaking, you shouldn’t be saying it. Take time to look yourself in the eye in the mirror and speak words of encouragement (not that pesky little voice that likes to criticize ourselves), find the one we save to boost our friends or partners when they need it.
5. Give to Receive.
When you give, it comes back to you tenfold. Tell someone they look nice, smile at the next 10 people you pass on the sidewalk, buy a coffee for the person behind you in line. Whether you believe in karma or not, giving to others will open up a pathway for them to give positive energy back to you. You will be amazed at how confident you feel when you experience the power you can have simply by being YOU.
And if all else fails, lighten up, ROCK OUT to your favorite tunes, air drum, sing like a rock star, and let that inner star shine!
If you’ve been at Microsoft for more than 10 years, more than likely you know at least 5
people who have been affected by the recent round of lay-offs. If you’re reading this, it
may even be you. Frustrated, hurt, a bit bewildered – you have just begun the process of
understanding what this unplanned transition means to you.
I’m here to tell you: Just breathe.
I’m not talking about the Anna Nalick song (although it is good and many of the lyrics
apply here), rather, I encourage you to:
2. Feel the emotions
3. Get pissed if you must
4. Get that frantic online job posting search out of your system
5. Reach out to friends
Having now worked with many Microsoft people who have experienced this very issue,
I can tell you with much certainty and expertise that those who take the time to truly
evaluate where they want to go next will get there.
Those who rush through this process in an anxious hurry will not find the next role of
Why? Because if you rush headlong into your search, that anxiety and a newfound loss
of confidence will show up in spades during conversations you have in interviews. If
you’ve been in HR or staffing/recruiting, you have witnessed first-hand these types of
candidates and you don’t want to be one of them.
What a slow, methodical and thoughtful process will do for you is allow you to make
sound decisions about your next move. I love the recent Dr. Phil post in Oprah
Magazine where he tells job seekers: Don’t run away from something. Run towards
something you truly want. (Yes, I know Dr. Phil can be arrogant but in this case I 100%
agree with him.)
After years at MS, you may not know what this looks or feels like. If you received a
separation package, this is your opportune time to rediscover Breathing. Take yoga,
have coffee with friends, read to your kids, walk your dog in the middle of the day,
take up meditation, eat at that cool restaurant you could never get to for lunch, read,
watch Jimmy Fallon videos of his band playing with famous artists, visit the Seattle Art
Museum, skip yoga and eat some pie.
I assure you, that once this feeling of anxiety and sadness and loss and frustration and
anger and confusion passes, you will be a better candidate/potential hire.
Years ago when my daughter was applying to college, a wise parent told me “Everyone
gets into a school”. The same is true for job search. You WILL find a new job. But,
wouldn’t you want to be the zen-like candidate with a level of confidence that appeals
to hiring managers? You can be that person.
For more on former Microsoft employees and their job hunt, see our past posts.
I’ve been there.
In 2009, I was laid off from a Diversity Manager role at Microsoft and after more than 13 years, I found myself wondering: What next? It was confidence-crushing and on my way home from cleaning out my desk in Building 36, I stopped by my friend Michelle’s and cried on her shoulder. 13 years of being a cheerleader for MS and here I was, told I was no longer needed.
The good news was that I left with a solid exit package in hand and an opportunity to really figure out what I wanted to do. Out of the experience was born a terrific business that I still own today. I am now a job search coach and I pride myself on taking 20 years of recruiting expertise and “reverse engineering” what I know in service to my clients – many of whom are former (even current) MS employees.
Not that I’m a saint, mind you, but I have to share some key take-aways from my years of coaching MS alumni with a goal of making the job search easier for you if you are struggling. These observations are mine alone – although I think you’ll nod your head in agreement as you read through my advice.
It’s Not About You
During my years at MS, I found that one of the most important avenues to success was the ability to showcase yourself. When I began in 1995 (yes, I’m that old), there were 2 reviews a year. You spent so much time just trying to play up your successes so that you’d get a stellar review from your manager.
Talking about you and trying to impress people in the job search arena doesn’t work.
Each open position equals pain to a manager (for those of you who were/are managers, you know what I’m talking about). While these hiring managers want to hear about your successes, they also just want to hear about how your past experience can solve their current pain. That means you have to listen to their issues and speak intelligently to how you’ve successfully addressed the same issues.
No acronyms, name-dropping or Microspeak necessary. Don’t go into this like a review. It’s solving for X and demonstrating your listening skills. Hiring manager will appreciate it greatly. It’s about THEM – not you.
For years I helped externally-hired Partners on-board at MS and they were shocked by the culture: it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know. New employees would call counterparts in other groups and couldn’t get a moment of their time, even though they were wined and dined to come to MS and provide leadership. No one would return their calls or email.
It’s because they had little to no connections within MS. They knew so few people. What makes a difference at MS is when you name-drop and talk about how long you’ve been an employee.
Many of my clients who are MS alumni tell me their stories and they are peppered with names that even I don’t know. It’s as if the names carry weight, influence, and prestige.
Wake-up call: these names mean very little to people outside of MS and dropping names during the job search process (except when you’re connecting with people who are also former MS) means absolutely nothing. Those at start-ups all over Seattle will just give you this glazed look when you begin name-dropping (OK, maybe Bill G still carries some clout).
Drop the name dropping. It simply doesn’t work.
Microsoft is the New Boeing. You Need To Be Current.
Yes, I really said it. Gasp!
I held a Director of Staffing role at a very cool aviation tech startup a few years ago and when I brought MS candidates forward, the CTO would turn down his nose. Here’s why: MS candidates had little open source experience, had a reputation for a lack of collaborative spirit and didn’t stay technically current.
MS has not historically rewarded employees for A) being collaborative – especially when the old review process was in place and B) getting involved with anything outside of the company, such as professional organizations.
I saw this first hand when a friend of mine won a national award that had nothing to do with MS and yet didn’t even get a congratulations from her own manager.
As a job seeker, you can remedy this image and it isn’t that daunting.
1. If you’re technical, take some time and get up-to-speed on open source.
2. Get connected with other devs via Reddit or Meet-Ups.
3. Come up with examples of when you demonstrated true collaboration.
4. “Show Up” as someone keeping their fingers on the pulse of the world outside of MS.
5. Get involved in activities that current employers now value: environmental work, staying in shape, managing people in a volunteer environment.
Even Marketing candidates must know all the latest and greatest tools and trends. While you were heads down trying to get your work done at MS, the world was shifting, changing. Your job as a job seeker is to know what’s going on – NOW.
BTW: I don’t mean to knock Boeing – they are now an employer of choice among my clients!
Communicate With Ease
Maybe I should say it this way: Lighten Up.
I speak with employers everyday and when I ask them for feedback about MS alumni they almost all say that MS candidates take themselves way too seriously.
That intensity was great within MS but companies really appreciate a candidate who not only knows their stuff, but also can “hang” with others and add some energy to the team. Yes, there are exceptions to this, but I make this a focus during my mock interviews with clients because of the feedback candidates and I have received.
This is one phrase that will kill an interview. For that matter, if you do get the job and you use this phrase when beginning to work with your team, people will really dislike you.
Just because it was successful at MS, doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. As a matter of fact, most companies think that if you bring MS methods with you, you’ll fail in their collaborative, upbeat, edgy, thoughtful, energetic and the “customer is key” environments.
It’s better to use phrases like this when you’re interviewing: “The challenge you face in getting vendors to complete projects is something that I have tackled. Here’s specifically how I worked through this issue with successful results.”
I am so proud of the 13 years I spent at Microsoft. I loved almost every day and I have a boatload of friends to show for my years there. Smart people, fun work (more in the early 2000’s I have to admit) and cool products. I carry these experiences with me to this day.
But, it’s a new day. Microsoft is changing and during this challenging transition, you can too.
I feel extremely lucky that almost everyday I receive at least 3 requests to connect
via LinkedIn, if not more. LinkedIn is my favorite job search (and recruiting) tool in
my job search toolbox and knowing that my profile is attracting attention is highly
But, I have observed that just about everyone who wishes to connect with me makes
a huge error: They do not use the dialogue box to create a personalized message when they request to connect.
Here’s some free guidance from a job search coach who also continues to recruit
candidates – If you don’t take advantage of that dialogue box, you’re missing out on
some significantly important opportunities to make a great impression.
(Please read the above paragraph again.)
Here’s why I implore you, beg you, to write a personal message: If you send
someone a request to connect and use the default “I’d like to connect” that LinkedIn
so kindly provides, you miss out on free advertising for yourself. Use of the default
typically means that you’re not selling yourself and in these competitive times for
the job seeker, you need to take advantage of every opportunity to sell yourself to
Think about it from the recipient’s point of view. When you get a generic form letter in the mail, does it stand out to you? Is it memorable? Do you take the extra time to read it word-for word? Probably not. But what about a personalized note that someone actually took the time to craft? I bet that type of communication and its sender are more likely to get your attention, and maybe even your respect and a return response from you.
Let me give you a great example in the context of job search and LinkedIn.
Recently, I posted a job for a well-known regional company and since I often receive
requests to connect, I went about my usual discernment process of evaluating
whether I wanted to connect with people who reach out to me. But, one of those
who reached out did not take advantage of the dialogue box on LinkedIn and I
passed the connection over since I didn’t know him.
He missed his opportunity to say something like this: Lora, I noticed that you have
posted a position and I would appreciate knowing more about the role and whether
my extensive sales background maps to the role. I have been in sales for 10+ years
and I am intrigued by the opportunity. May we connect or at least exchange email?
Bob missed out. He was in the usual group of people who defaulted to the existing
dialogue box and I never accepted his connection. (By-the-way: please list your
phone number too, if you’re a job-seeker. When wearing my recruiting hat I really
appreciate the phone number as a means of reaching out quickly.)
Think of the dialogue box as your free, 30-second sales pitch. Who turns down a
freebie opportunity to sell their expertise? Bob did.
It’s that time of year again: after putting it off, mulling it over, talking with friends and family, taking a few tentative stabs at it…you’ve decided to get a new job. But, after all the deep deliberation and discussions, you’re paralyzed. You simply have no idea where to start and despite all the information out there in the “twitterverse” about job search, you retreat.
Please don’t throw in the towel just yet, okay?
Let me offer you the most valuable and easy-to-follow guidance a job search coach can dish up: Tell the world you are now “exploring” and let the universe know that you’re here. Yes. It’s that simple to get the ball rolling.
Sitting at your desk in your current job or waiting at home for the phone to ring will likely get you nowhere if no one knows that you want a job. Sure, if you’re a software developer extraordinaire you’ll probably get a call from a recruiter. When there’s a huge demand for a specific type of talent, they get all the attention. But, in all likelihood, you’re reading this article because you’re not a software developer.
Whether you’ve been out of the workforce for a while or just stuck in a rut, your best chances of getting a new job are to rally yourself and follow the “Hello Universe Plan”:
Go job shopping on any job posting website (like www.Monster.com, www.CareerBuilder.com or even Craigslist) and find the job of your dreams. The great thing about job shopping is that there is no obligation to “buy”. Instead, you want to find job titles that appeal to you and read the job descriptions for key terms that map to your own experience. Jot those terms down and save them – you’ll want to integrate into your resume later.
Craft a short, simple paragraph that tells your story and identifies the job you want. Here’s an example:
I have years of experience teaching French to children and I am exploring opportunities where an employer can leverage my fluent French. I am especially intrigued by roles such as Bi-lingual Customer Service Representative, French Account Representative or French Instructor. My customer relationship management skills have been honed both inside and outside the classroom.
Make a list of your valued contacts – friends, family, friends-of-friend and anyone else who would enjoy a cup of coffee in your company (your treat of course). These are people who are invested in you and who want to help you. Email or call the people on your list and share your paragraph with them. Let them know you’re exploring and ask them to share their own job search experiences with you.
At soccer games, PTA meetings, wine tastings, social situations, mention that you’re exploring and share your story. Be clear, crisp and concise. You don’t need to share your entire work or life history. Glazed looks will follow if you over-share.
Putting your message out into the universe is just the first step. Of course you’ll need a resume and a LinkedIn profile and maybe even some interview coaching. But, for now, this simple act of getting the word out is a great start.
The universe needs a “you” in the workforce. It just needs to know where to find you.
If you’re like me, you appreciate a clean slate, a fresh start and a new list of goals for the New Year (notice, I do not call them resolutions because for some reason I can never stick to something if it is labeled a “resolution”).
But, if you’re like me, you plunge enthusiastically into your objectives with the vigor of the Energizer Bunny, only to feel the batteries quickly drain after bumping up against obstacles. Last year, for example, I tried drinking protein shakes for breakfast every day. I had to get up extra early to make time prior to work so I could create my shake masterpieces, which ultimately only lasted me until 9am when I started getting shaky and hungry again. After just one week, my Magic Bullet found itself lonely once more.
Working with job seekers, I often see this same pattern: you start out the search with a positive outlook, roll up your sleeves and dive head-first into the job market. But, after a number of obstacles, like un-returned email from potential employers, the wind slowly leaks out of the sails and the search comes to a slow, grinding halt. Just like my Magic Bullet.
To get your New Year and job search off to a solid start, I offer up some Search Shake ingredients that will truly satisfy, keep you going and revive your energy for the challenges of an effective search:
Go “Job Shopping”. Just like after-Christmas sales, employers often reset their inventory and post jobs. After the New Year, people are back from holiday vacations and we typically see some turnover in the job market after the 1st of the year. Get ready to see a greater number of postings and get job shopping! “Job shopping” is great because it allows you the opportunity to take a look, browse and see what’s appealing without any commitment. Use simple search engines, like Monster, LinkedIn, CareerBuilder , Indeed or even Google/Bing to explore. Hone in on keywords (more about this later) that are meaningful to you and just window-shop. No pressure!
Make Your Shopping List. Once you’ve collected a few items in your job search basket, use that highlighter Santa gave you in your stocking to emphasize the language of the jobs that appeal to you. Be specific and highlight things that are particular to that type if job. For example, you are looking for a marketing role, highlight SEO, metrics, measurement, audience, focus groups. These are words you will continue to use in your posting search + in all tools for your search, including your resume. The idea here is that you want to speak the language of the marketplace.
Add Ingredients. Once you’ve created your shopping list of key words, take a look at your current resume and consider how you talk about your qualifications. Do you include those words? Are you highlighting what employers are looking for? Do you show measurable results? They’ve given you the recipe. Now it’s up to you to tell them whether you have the right “ingredients” and how well your past recipes have turned out!
Learn to Love LinkedIn: the Epicurious/Big Oven/Bon Appetit of Job Search. I know that for years you’ve been accepting invitations from current colleagues, past colleagues, friends and acquaintances to connect via LinkedIn. But, you have no idea how it can be valuable for your search. You can maintain and create more and quicker connections through this forum in ways that you rarely can with traditional means.
I conduct LinkedIn workshops and my favorite way to explain how LinkedIn works is this: each one of us has the opportunity to tell our professional story to the world via LinkedIn. How do you tell your story? Is it sparse and meaningless, just a laundry list of jobs? Or is it robust and intriguing? How do you measure up to the thousands of recruiters looking for someone just like you?
Your resume is a simple template for creating an initial LinkedIn profile easily. Don’t forget those key words, and remember – your profile is a living site and your connections should always be growing.
Declare Your Intent. I read somewhere that dieters who tell others that they are on the path to weight loss are more successful then those who keep their Weight Watchers meetings a secret. I can see how making it known to others that you want to succeed, creates a cheerleading section for you and keeps you honest on your quest to shed pounds.
The same is true of job search: if you tell others that you are looking, you help create a cheering section – more eyes and ears in the marketplace – who will be looking out for you. It is unlikely you will get a job offer from a friend within your inner circle, but it is very likely that the friend will know someone who does know of a job that will interest you.
While keeping quiet does keep your current employer from knowing about your search, it doesn’t let the marketplace know that you’re available. Use your trusted network. Former colleagues are great for this because they left at some point and can appreciate discretion.
If no one knows you’re looking, how can you be found?
Also, if you declare your intent, it is likely that you’ll follow through on the search!
Falling Off the Wagon…Stops and starts in job search are highly likely. Know that now and get comfortable with the idea that you will enjoy times of “full-speed-ahead” and moments of frustration. Falling off the wagon doesn’t mean you cannot get back on, but it helps to know that you are taking the right steps forward. To this day, I find myself making protein, kale, banana, frozen strawberry and almond milk smoothies at least twice a week. I may not be dropping entire dress sizes, but I am proud of the notion that I am doing something. Who knows…in 2014 I may make use of that Magic Bullet more often!