Tag Archives: job search killers

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?




Minding Your Business Manners

How many of you heard “Mind Your Manners” as a kid?  I know I was raised to “mind my manners” in someone else’s home, in church, with family, in public–basically everywhere.   Phrases such as please, thank you, you’re welcome, in addition to proper behavior were right up there with the Golden Rule.

In your professional life, “minding your manners” can make the difference between moving forward in your career or staying stagnant.  For job seekers, poor manners can keep them from potential jobs and career paths.  It’s no secret that many business deals happen over a breakfast, lunch or dinner meetings.  Many a business deal has gone sour due to poor manners in dining etiquette.  In addition, the simple gesture as a thank you has become such a lost art that it now an exception that actually propels professionals and job seekers into an elite category.  Such a simple gesture as saying thank you can make you different.  WOW!  In today’s world of online job postings and the “black hole” feeling of those who apply for jobs online, I am constantly being asked how to stand out.  Can you believe that simply saying thank you can do just that?

Here is a quick list of best practices in joining this elite group of well-mannered business professionals:

1.  Always write a thank you note within 24 hours of an interview, business meal, reception, mentoring conversation, etc.

2. In addition to writing a thank you note after a business conversation, always write a thank you note if you receive a gift, scholarship or award.

2. Circle back to people who give you advice in business and keep them updated on your progress based on their recommendations.

3. Say “You’re Welcome” or “My Pleasure” as opposed to “No Problem.”  No problem may be a norm in our society, but it is not the appropriate response to someone say thank you.

4.  Brush up on basic dining etiquette before attending a business meal or reception of any kind.  You have no idea how noticeable and basically gross it is to watch someone use poor table manners.  Use your utensils properly, don’t eat with your hands, don’t chew with your mouth open, etc.  If others at your table struggles with finishing their meal due to your poor table manners, chances are the business you are hoping to solidify during that meal will not go your way.

5.  Treat everyone you meet in business with the utmost respect.  Receptionists, executive assistants, and custodial staff are often watching potential candidates and will report on the way they are treated.

There are so many more examples to note, so this short list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.   Please note I am not telling anyone they have to poor over etiquette books, nor am I saying that everyone has to have perfect manners to succeed in business.  My point is that you will positively set yourself apart from other job seekers and career managers by exercising basic manners.  Be appreciative.  Be respectful.   Mind Your Business Manners, and you will Be noticed.



Requesting LinkedIn Connections Rule #2

In my previous blog, I talked about personalizing the text for LinkedIn requests as opposed to using the generic text.  Rule #2 is to make sure your reason for connecting is professional development focused.  Wanting a job with the person’s company is not a good enough reason to connect.  That is short term thinking, and your approach will come across as selfish and one-sided.  Instead of making this mistake, change your focus.

If you find someone on LinkedIn you would like to get to know step back and ask yourself why?  If this person works for a company on your list of target employers, you are going to be more successful if you make sure you have not just a short term but also a long term reason for the connection.  More than likely, this target contact has had professional experiences you do not, connections to professional organizations that can help you strength your knowledge, and insight as to how you can succeed in your chosen profession and the target company.

Before connecting with anyone on LinkedIn, ask yourself if you have thought of long term mutual benefits for you and the person you are asking to connect.  Ask yourself not just what’s in it for you but what’s in it for the other person as well.  If you think long term, you will have a better chance of defining that answer.  Your connection requests will be more professional thus more productive.

Is it Too Late to Find an Internship?

It is January 26th, and it is absolutely NOT too late to find an internship for this upcoming summer!  It goes without saying that anyone who was able to secure a summer internship this past fall is happy and relaxed where the job search is concerned, but those of you still seeking are not considered members of the unemployable club by any stretch of the imagination.

Considering our current economy, most companies are just now finalizing their budgets which includes dollar allotment for interns.  Some companies will not know whether interns are possible for their organization until even March or April.  It is not time to panic.  What it is time for, however, is action.  The very last thing you should do is wait for internship opportunities to fall in your lap.  You have to chase potential internship opportunities and make sure you are positioned to market yourself as the best candidate.   

I challenge everyone reading this blog to energize and engage.  Attend every possible event which allows you face to face time with employers.  Engage with professionals on LinkedIn and Twitter and be sure to network with mentors and professional experts in your chosen career field.   Do not let yourself think much less say that you are too busy to balance a heavy academic course load and effectively execute an active job search.  You can do both, but you have to plan your work and work your plan. 

Connecting with business professionals can take time and turning those connections to possible job leads can take even more time and more energy.  I always say that you can conduct an effective job search part time, but you can not do it in your spare time.  The spring semester will be over before you know it.  Start networking, research new connections, attend career related events and much more. 

When you find yourself getting discouraged, reach out to your career services advisor. It is not too late to find an internship for this summer.  Use the time you carve out for your job search on strategizing and executing your plan of action. 


December Networking for Job Seekers

Some will advise job seekers to wait until after the New Year to resume searching for employment.  I, on the other hand, am with the group who recommend job seekers dry clean their business best and take advantage of December receptions and networking opportunities. The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is perfect for networking. 

Join professional associations for your chosen profession or industry and attend Holiday and Christmas receptions and socials.  These events are great opportunities to meet potential employers from several organizations at one time.  National or international associations usually have regional groups that get together during this time of year. 

In addition, Texas A&M University has “A&M Clubs” all over the world.  Many of these clubs have weekly Happy Hours and certainly have events planned during the month of December to celebrate the Holidays and Christmas.  All job seeking Aggies should be sure to attend these celebrations, and former or current students from other colleges and universities should be attending events from their Alma Maters as well. 

Another great idea for connecting with business professionals during this time of year is to participate in community events.  Local businesses often get involved in Food Bank inventory collection or Toy Drives.  You will not only meet potential future colleagues and employers but also provide much needed service to your community. 

The opportunities for networking during the month of December are limitless.  Please do not put your job search on the shelf until January 2.  Continue to build your network and enjoy a very happy holiday and Christmas season.

Successful Careers Involve Action Verbs Not Nouns

Remember when you were asked as a child what you wanted to BE when you grew up?  I, myself, love the excitement and joy in a child’s voice when talking about their future dreams.  I know mine were bigger than life.  We all wanted to save the world when we are kids by being a police officer, a doctor, a nurse or a super hero.   Fast forward to your high school or college years when you were asked the same question and I would bet the only difference to your answer is the title.  You still focus on what you want to BE.  We have simplified what we want to do with our lives and careers into a title.  

The problem with titles is that they rarely bring happiness in our careers.  Do you ever hear people talk with excitement about their job titles?  NO!  People get excited when talking about the amazing things they do in their jobs.  Passion drives our actions, and our actions drive our passions. 

When seeking potential positions, focus your effort in identifying job descriptions that match your career goals as opposed to the job titles.  Many times the job titles do not match the job description at all.  You will also find that positions with similar job descriptions are labeled differently depending on the company. 

Networking is one of the best ways to clarify job title confusion.  Besides building valuable relationships, networking offers the opportunity to learn about what people DO in their careers.  When employers host career fairs, the recruiters talk about what employees DO in specific positions.  The value you provide to employers will be through your actions not your title. 

Most people leave jobs not because of the job title but because of the job experience.  If you aren’t showing your value and growing in your career experience, you will not be happy.  Then, your career turns into a JOB! 

If you want a career and not a job, seek positions with job descriptions that match your ACTION goals.  Focus your job search on the action verbs and less on the nouns.

There is No “I” in Cover Letter

When writing a cover letter, remember the purpose is to focus on the audience or shall we say potential employer at all times. Employers are seeking a solution to a need through hiring, so by keeping the employer as your central focus, you will generate interest in your letter’s content.   A well written cover letter addresses an employer’s need and provides proven examples of your ability to meet that need.  Transform interest in what you have to say into a desire to contact you by highlight relevant experience and accomplishments.

Cover letters that are littered with the word “I” automatically draws the reader’s attention away from the intended audience and back to the writer.  As a job seeker, you are a marketing manager, and every successful marketing campaign targets a customer’s need.  As a job seeker, you want to sell and market the skills that matter most to a potential employer.  A better word or phrase with which to cover the page of a cover letter is the name of the employer and organization rather than “I”. 

As a job seeker, you want the employer to read your letter and resume and be inspired to call you for an interview.  Here are a few tips for writing a cover letter that turns attention to the reader as opposed to “I”:

  1. Begin with a word other than “I”.  Right off the bat you take the attention off of the employer and on to yourself.   
  2. After your first draft, circle the “I”s in red.  During the editing process, reword those phrases so that you decrease your number by at least half.
  3. Focus on what the employer needs rather than what you want.  “I want” or “I am seeking experience” will shift the focus of the message from marketing your ability to pleading for a job. 

 A targeted job search campaign consists of marketing yourself as a solution to business.  A cover letter connects an employer’s needs with your abilities with the emphasis on the employer, not “I”.