Category Archives: Networking

LinkedIn and the AggieNetwork

The value of LinkedIn has increased yet again.  Now that LinkedIn has partnered with colleges and universities to launch the “Alumni” piece, school connections and networking are skyrocketing.  As a Former Student (that is what we call ourselves) of Texas A&M University and a current Career Coach at this dear institution, I could not be happier to see this partnership blossom.  Texas A&M University knows the value of current and former student networking.  Our Association of Former Students does an amazing job keeping our Aggie family strong.  Anywhere you travel in the world, the Aggie Ring is easily noticed.  So why not take it virtual.  These types of partnerships between colleges and universities and LinkedIn are growing everyday.

Of course Texas A&M has a website for alumni which also provides opportunities to connect with fellow current and former students, but the partnership with LinkedIn has taken it to a whole new level.  You can now connect your LinkedIn URL and profile to your AggieNetwork account.  In addition, I can go to LinkedIn and find Aggies through this resource using their Alumni section.  My online Rolodex just got even stronger.  We still share business cards, but gone is the day of worrying about maintaining an up to date physical Rolodex.

There is a saying here at A&M that Aggies love to hire Aggies, and I’m sure other schools feel the same about their own schools.   When you become a student at A&M, you join a network that is thousands and thousands strong.  Tapping into the AggieNetwork for any current job seeker is imperative.  It is widely known that networking is the best way to find a job.  The AggieNetwork builds and strengthens relationships between current and former students.   This Network has proven time and time again that employed Aggies love to help current students achieve their career goals.  Let this Network work for you and return the favor once employed by paying it forward to our future students.

Before you stop reading my blog today, please do the following:

1.  Log into the AggieNetwork (or your collegiate alumni organization) and connect with your LinkedIn account if this feature is available.

2.  Log into your LinkedIn account, click on Network, and click on Find Alumni.

3.  Reach out alumni based on your interests and goals, connect for guidance and networking, and build your professional presence.

 

These Are a Few of My Favorite Blogs

You are going to spend the rest of the day humming this beloved song from the Sound of Music in your head like me aren’t you?  Today I want to say thank you to just of few of my favorite bloggers for their insites and inspiration they have instilled in my personal and professional life.

Diane Gottsman: Modern Manners and Etiquette Expert.   Diane is also the owner of the Protocol School of Texas and author of Pearls of Polish.  The devil is found in the details of life.  Diane’s excellent advice stomps the devil out of poor manners and elevates professional etiquette to help today’s career manager truly excel.   Diane’s guidance helps readers learn how to positively stand out in business by simply demonstrating respecful manners.  Please follow Diane via Twitter @dianegottsman

The Savvy Intern by YouTern  Anyone seeking an internship or seeking to hire an intern must subscribe to the Savvy Intern sponsored by YouTern.  I found this blog of resources by following a Twitter chat recommended to me by a colleague.  #InternPro can be found each Monday night.  In addition to the chat, please add this blog to your daily reads to receive targeted advice concerning the internship job search.  Please follow YouTern via Twitter @YouTern

Keppie Careers by Miriam Salpeter  Social media heavily factors into an effective job search.  In addition to reading Miriam’s blog, please search for her on the US News career blog.  Creating a professional and branded online presence has become a key strategy for a successful job search. In addition to her overall stellar career coaching accomplishments, Miriam provides the best social networking guidance for job seekers and career managers.   While visiting her website, please take a close look at the career books she has authored and co-authored.  You can also follow Miriam via Twitter @keppie_careers

Bottom Line Ethics by Dr. Michael Shaub.  Dr. Shaub is a professor here in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M.  This authentic blog catches the eyes and hearts of each reader covering numerous topics that center around the same subject: Ethics!  I invite you to read Dr. Shaub’s insights into the varying subjects and news events.  I am amazed at the numerous POSTIVE comments he receives for each blog entry.  His former students can easily be labeled as his fans.  I promise you will subscribe and look forward to the journey of each blog post.  Bottom Line Ethics will entertain you and teach you life-long lessons that you will never forget.  You can find Dr. Shaub on Twitter @mikeshaub

Personal Branding by Dan Schwabel  If you struggle with answering the question “Tell Me About Yourself” then you cannot afford not to check out Dan’s blog and resources.  His book, Me 2.0, outlines a four step process towards creating an effective and results-driven brand for individuals.  You can find Dan featured in numerous networks and blogs.  Dan is a GenY expert; however, his message crosses generations.  Please follow Dan on Twitter @DanSchawbel

I could go on and on listing other blogs and resources, but I thought I would limit my list today.   This list of five excellent resources will provide information and guidance with etiquette, internships, social networking, ethical behavior, and branding.  Best wishes!

 

 

 

Discussing Salary in Information Interviews

I’m often asked by job seekers when it is an appropriate time to discuss salary in the job search.   Let me start by stating when it is absolutely not appropriate to discuss salary and that is during the information interview.  A job seeker gathers a great deal of information during the search and salary is included on that list; however, an information interview is an inappropriate time to discuss money.

The purpose of an information interview is to gather information about a company, industry, profession, etc.  While salary is an extremely important topic, it’s often considered rude when discussed too early.  Consider these reasons why you should never discuss salary during an information interview:

1.  Poor Marketing Message:  If you are working to increase your network and market your value  to potential employers, your message should focus on what you can do as opposed to what you want.   We all want to be paid adequately for the services we provide; however, salary is a very sensitive topic.  Your first order of business is to sell your ability to bring value to a potential company or profession.  Get the professional contact in your corner first based on what you can do.

2.  Lack of Authenticity:     When a job seeker asks networking contacts about salary, it sends the wrong message as to the authenticity of the reason an information interview was requested.  Salary information can be found through numerous channels including websites and HR representatives.  Information interviews should be used to gather information not readily available which might include best practices for navigating through a company or career.

3.   Barking up the Wrong Tree:  Most of the time, a networking contact is unable to tell you about salaries.  The subject of salary is a moving target.  Salary ranges can vary a great deal depending on industry, company, location and experience level.  More importantly, your reason for talking with a networking contact is for professional information.  Do not spend your precious time asking about salary.  It’s a question most networking contacts cannot and will not answer.

Do not confuse the goal of your job search with one of your desired results.  As a job seeker, and hopefully a professional job seeker, your goal is to secure a fulfilling position that provides you the opportunity prove your value.  Salary should always be discussed in the job search process, but an information interview is one of the first steps in the process.  It’s like discussing marriage on a first date.  You do not want to scare away your potential networking contacts.  People you talk with during your job search will hopefully become esteemed colleagues and mentors of yours in the future.  Don’t blow it!

When You Can’t Get An Interview

For many, the kneejerk reaction for job seekers who cannot get an interivew is to change their resumes.  Your resume may very well be a part of the problem, but most likely there are many other things you need to do to either change or add to your job search strategy.  Of course, your lack of experience and skills may also be a reason you are not chosen for an interview, but sometime it is neither your background or your resume that is keeping you from interviews.  Your approach may be at fault.  Consider these ideas if you struggle with your job search stalling at the resume submission stage:

1.  Are you only applying online?  While this is probably the most widely used format for applying for positions, too many job seekers only use this step.  The problem with only applying online is that you are not setting yourself apart from the competition.  You aren’t directly reaching out to the hiring manager.  I liken using online applications as your only step in finding a job to that of purchasing a lottery ticket.  You could get chosen, but think about the odds.  They aren’t good folks.

2.  Are you asking for people to distribute your resume for you?  Networking with friends and colleagues is the key to a successful job search, but please be careful in how you approach this important part the progress.  Some of your contacts are ideal for floating your resume around a company and will volunteer to do so, but only expect someone to do this if they offer.  Be careful in asking someone to distribute your resume for you.  Instead of asking someone to do you a favor (please distribute my resume), ask for advice (can you provide me some guidance?).  Advice is easy for someone to provide you, but doing work for you is an entirely different request.  The more people you can connect with yourself, the better opportunity you have for controlling your ability to secure an interview.

Job seekers have to come from behind the computer screen to exercise a successful job search strategy.  Email, the Internet and the telephone can only take you so far in your search.  Implement that human connection that only you can provide.

21 Day Job Search Improvement Challenge

Happy New Year!!!!

As I sit down to write my first blog for 2013, my thoughts go back to the last blog I wrote for 2012.  Your Job Search Resolutions for 2013  In that entry, I talked about challenging yourself to resolutions that will improve your job search practices.  Please reread the suggestions I outline.  I hope a few make their way into your job search plan this year.

Studies show that you can create a habit if you continue something for 21 days — some good and some not so good.   Today’s generation uses the word “like” at least once in almost every sentence.  They didn’t start this habit overnight, and they won’t stop overnight either.  It takes time — 21 days.  I challenge you to take the next 21 days and change some of your bad job search habits.  Here are a few recommendations:

1.  Manage your jobsearch part time not in your free time.  Let’s face it, we do not have free time.  Saying that you will do something in your free time just doesn’t happen anymore.   Maybe you need to treat your job search like a class period or maybe you can just mark time on your calendar easily and stick to the schedule.  Whatever you do, you have to plan your work and work your plan.  You can’t just plan to work out and get in shape.  You have to actually work out.  So, schedule time for your job search and stick to that time doing something productive.  Do that for 21 days in a row.

2.  Emphasize a high touch / high tech balanced job search.  If you only apply to positions online, your chances of failure are extremely high.  You must network your way to key hiring managers in the organizations to succeed.  It is difficult to find the right person who knows about the position in which you applied and can get you to the right hiring manager.  But, you can’t ignore that the number one way vacant positions are filled is through inside direct referrals.  Does it take a long time to complete the online application?  Yes.  Does it take time, effort and perseverance to network effectively?  Yes.  Does it get frustrating?  Absolutely.  Nonetheless, you have to measure your career goal against the time you are willing to put into reaching this goal.  Maintain this balance for 21 days.

3.  Stop sounding desperate.  When you have bills piling up, getting a paycheck is the goal.  When you need a job, you need a job.  But, keep in mind that hiring decisions are made the same way you shop.  Have you ever purchased something because the vendor needs your business?  Would you hire a chef to rewire your home for electricity because that company needs your business? Of course not.  You would hire a company that specializes in fulfilling your needs.  Be very careful in marketing yourself as a jack of all trades lest you be known as an expert of nothing.  We purchase and hire excellence.  If you find yourself telling people you can do anything, then I challenge you to redesign your job search marketing plan.  Do this for 21 days.

In order for you to break your old job search habits, you must first accept your plan in the past isn’t working for you.  Maybe you have been able to apply online and get a job in the past.  Maybe you are from cultures that focus on placement as opposed to personal branding to succeed.  Whatever your past experience, anyone wanting to climb the corporate ladder must accept that with a more advanced career will come a more advanced process in managing your career.

Are you up for breaking your old habits and taking the 21 Day Job Search Improvement Challenge?

 

 

Your Job Search Resolutions for 2013

I’m sure anyone reading the title of today’s blog is thinking, “Cindy, my job search resolution is to get a job plain and simple.”  Maybe you’ve got me there, but I’m talking about something a little different.

We all know that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.  Ask yourself if you have fallen into “insanity” when it comes to your job search.  Are you are continually applying for jobs online and receiving no response or reaching out to create a professional network with no success?  Will people connect with you on LinkedIn but never respond to your messages?

Before restarting your job search for 2013, follow these suggestions and stop the insanity.

Online Applications:  Too often job seekers, and yes some recruiters, use this resource as the only step in seeking employment or job candidates.  Please do not only apply online.  The probability you will be noticed and receive a call for an interview is slim.  Yes, please create a profile online and submit a resume for a position online, but also be sure to tap into key people within the organization and department.  LinkedIn Groups, company pages on LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as professional associations provide options for real networking that will help you introduce your resume that is sitting in the company’s online applicant tracking system.

Creating an Effective Professional Network:  Younger job seekers probably do not have a close professional network of hiring managers.  What they probably have instead is an indirect network of people in these positions that come from family members, bosses and professors.  Let the “six degrees of separation” concept work for you.  Who do you know who might know someone who knows people in the areas of your interest?

No One Will Return Your Messages:  Before you say that reaching out to people through LinkedIn or other similar resources doesn’t work ask yourself a very basic question.  Could the email or message you are sending need some editing?   Are you asking the right question? Are you saying the wrong things in your message?  Do you have any errors in your message?  Did you research to make sure this is the best way to connect with a person?  I always tell my students and clients to look at a person’s LinkedIn profile before expecting a response.  If your target contact doesn’t have a photo on their page, updated information or a connection list of more than 75-100 then you can about bet this person does not use LinkedIn very often.  LinkedIn won’t be a good resource for you to use in connecting with this person.  Think insanity here:  don’t do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.  If someone does not use LinkedIn, then they probably won’t respond to your LinkedIn messages right?  On the other hand, maybe this person uses LinkedIn and not email.  Just like the Boy and Girl Scouts, BE PREPARED for anything.

As 2012 closes, ask yourself if you have been doing the same things with your job search with no success.  Just like any resolution, did you start out start and fizzle quickly?  Could something be missing from what you are doing?  Could you be doing something wrong?  Look at the basics and create a new plan to start 2013 and have a successful job search.

 

 

5 Tips for a Successful Information Interview

From Guest Blogger:  Jessica Newcomb, Assistant Director, Graduate Business Career Services, Texas A&M University

Preparing for and executing a networking phone call is arguably 100 times more difficult than conducting an in-person meeting. The reasons why that is make perfect sense! For starters, you don’t have all of the non-verbal cues to help you interpret how well the interaction is going. There are no visible facial features, eye contact or body language, so you are left only with the voice on the other end of the phone.

With the holiday season approaching, you might find that contacts are more open to a networking phone call rather than a meeting. As job seekers plan for a phone call, their plan is often too vague and centered around the general approach of asking about the other person’s experience.  If you get your target on the phone, don’t waste his or her time by being unprepared, unfocused, and uninspiring.

How do you conduct an effective information interview over the phone?

A great idea is to start at the beginning by identifying the goal for the meeting because if you don’t know, there is no roadmap for the interaction. Simply put, I see the goal of many networking calls as being to gain clarity about your career search. If you see the goal as being different, then define what is the goal and what questions you can ask to meet that specific goal.

Some nuts and bolts type advice about executing the call is to stand during the phone call, but don’t necessarily pace around the room. You certainly don’t want to be out of breath or get distracted by something you see. It’s ok to have some notes or your resume in front of you, but remain in the moment and focused on what the contact has to say. The most tried and true advice for any meeting, call or not, is to smile throughout.

Now, here is a template for a phone conversation you might have. There is no perfect formula, so adapt and revise this as needed.

1 – Initiating the conversation:

You might start my asking about the contact’s week. Be personable! Then, identify your goal in scheduling the call. “I would really appreciate your advice based on your experience about my job search and differentiating myself from other candidates.

2 – Telling a little bit about yourself:

“My background is unique, and I’d like to better leverage my skills and experience. I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself.” Introduce relevant details concerning what you are currently doing, what you want to do, what accomplishments make you most proud, what sets you apart, or what inspires you.

Captivate your contact with an anecdote. Don’t be afraid to open up a bit and tell a few personal things about your journey to this point in your career. You want the contact to gather data about you (degree, skills, etc.) but more importantly information about your personality, presence and attitude.

3 – Asking questions:

Prepare by looking at the contact’s LinkedIn profile to see if anything jumps out like unique skills, career changes, first job, etc. You might ask, “How did you set a positive trajectory for your career?” “Has the role aligned with your expectations or differed in any key ways?” “What do you wish you knew when you started out?” “How have you overcome roadblocks in your career?”

Tell the contact a little bit about what you have been doing in your job search and ask, “What additional activities do you think would be most impactful to my search?”

4 – Ending:

Don’t blow all the goodwill you have fostered by ending the conversation too abruptly or awkwardly.

Here are a few examples: “I have really enjoyed our conversation! Thank you for your time today. Would it be ok for me to follow-up with you in the next couple of weeks? If there is anything I can do for you, don’t hesitate to ask.”

5 – Follow-up:

Send a thank you note or email. Get back on the contact’s radar by following-up with a timely and personal message.