Friday, October 5, 2012

Networking at Events and Large Meetings: How Do I Do It?

When groups gather, they present the opportunity to network.  Savvy job seekers seek out such
Networking uncovers opportunities!
gatherings of professionals at meetings, networking meetings, and events and . . .network.  There just might be a job in it for them!

Large networking meetings
Large networking meetings, or events, present job seekers opportunities to network.  These meetings occur for any number of reasons, and bring together a lot of people who meet and greet.

The reasons for meetings vary.  These meetings can be professional associations that offer attendees a chance to meet their colleagues in a monthly or quarterly format.  The format is often a networking hour, followed by a presenter and dinner.  Or, the venues could be conferences, training workshops, courses, trainings, presentations, product demonstrations, etc.. . .in other words, events at which a group of professionals find themselves gathered together.

Meetings can also occur for fun!  Non-professional gatherings offer just as much opportunity to network - to share your message with attendees and learn about them as well.

Think about it  – everyone you meet or interact with at, for instance, a holiday party is either working at their own job or knows someone who is.  An exchange of a few pleasantries, such as “What do you do?” can generate information about companies and organizations and can lead to contacts or introductions to people within those companies. 

So, take advantage of the opportunity to meet and greet and exchange information at parties, community celebrations, spouses company events, summer picnics, holiday events, family reunions, homeowner association meetings, civic clubs, political events, charity events, . . . all offer networking opportunities.

The message is clear
As an attendee of professional  and non-professional meetings and events, you have an opportunity to meet each other and exchange information.  How well you exchange information is the key to successful networking!   

Plan your information exchange
While the meeting and greeting may be random, or somewhat random (Please refer to I’m Networking: What do I say?), the information exchange for successful and practiced networkers is not.  They have done their homework:
        1.    Identifying who will be in the room that they can meet and talk with.  And,
        2.    Having prepared what they will say!  So, here's how to prepare for a successful networking event!

Prepare in advance to network at large meetings and events
        1.    Research the meeting/event you will be attending. 
            a.    Know its purpose, and a little of the history of the event. 
            b.    You now have a topic for conversation.

        2.    Find out who will be attending and a little bit about them. 
            a.    Learn what they do and identify an interesting fact or two about them; plan a question to ask
                   them.  Make notes. 
            b.    Find a photo or a video so you’ll be able to recognize them.  
            c.    You now have a topic for conversation when meet several attendees.

        3.    Take out and dust off your ‘L’vator speech. 
            a.    Practice, practice, practice. 
            b.    Have an answer ready to go to respond to the inevitable question:   “Nice to meet you and
                   What do you do?”  ((Please refer to Crafting Your ‘L’vator Speech.)
            c.    You now have something to say about yourself.

Strategize how you’ll “Work the Room!”
        1.    Set a goal.  How many interactions do you want to make to consider the event a success?
            a.    Start with 3 or 4 and see how it goes.  When you've accomplished your goal, you can go home,
            b.    Unless you find that with your preparation you're having such a good time that you elect to stay
                    and network some more!
        2.    Arrive early - or at least on time.
            a.    Only a few people will be milling about and it is somehow easier to talk with 2 or 3 folks than
                   when 50 folks are in the room and in their own little conversational groups.
        3.    Ask the host or event organizer if he/she needs any assistance.
            a.    This gets you talking with the organizers and seen as a helpful individual.
            b.    It also gives you something to do.

        4.    Look around the room.  Do you recognize anyone you’ve researched?
            a.    Here’s your chance to go up to them with something to say.
            b.    As you mention an article they’ve written, or an accomplishment of theirs, they will be flattered.

        5.    Exchange business cards.
            a.    Follow-up the next day with each person who’s card you collected.
            b.    Send an e-mail, note, or call stating:
                i.    How nice it was to meet them,
                ii.    Recalling something you discussed, and
                iii.    Suggesting/requesting that you continue the conversation or arrange a time to meet.
            c.    Your goal is to move the action (of your job search) forward!

        6.  Pick another event to attend and GO!  YOU'RE A NETWORKER!

Networking can be scary, but it is just a skill . . . . and skills can be learned!
Like so many things that intimidate us, networking can seem scary and hard to do, when we know little about it, and even less about how to do it.  But, having prepared in advanced to attend the event, and strategized your objective and plan to work the room, you take the first step toward success at your networking event.  Just knowing what you will say to whom and about you will reduce anxiety.

With the tips and information we’ve just discussed, you can see that like so many things, networking is just a skill and skills can be learned.  And, as with all skills, the more you practice, the better you get!
 ____________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Guidelines for Preparing an Effective Resume

There is no one way to prepare a resume.  Resumes are organized and written in many different formats.  And job seekers have been successful using all different types of formats. 

The important thing to keep in mind in going through the process of writing your resume is your GOAL.  It should be the driver of the format you use and the content you include. Simply put, your resume needs to be organized and written in a manner that supports you in achieving your goal.

The standard measure to be used about what information to include or exclude is just this:
Will this help me meet my goal?  
To achieve your job search goal, your resume needs to effectively convey what you can do for your next employer.  Please note:  No objective statements appear on modern resumes; instead use a Career Summary, or overview paragraph, to orient your reader to the type of work you want to do. 

While there is no one way to prepare a resume, there are, however, several things to keep in mind to produce an effective resume.  Here are some guidelines.

Guideline 1: A resume should be strategic, focused, and relevant
A resume is NOT a "tell all document!"
Save your “tell-all’s” for chats with your best friend or your autobiography!  Insert into your resume only that information which pertains to the job or role you want.  Highlight duties you have performed, skills you have gained, and experiences that show you are capable of performing the required duties of the future job you desire.  In other words, craft a strategic, focused, and relevant document. 

Here’s how to do it:   The best resumes are written strategically.
    1.    Begin with THE GOAL of the work you want to do in mind .  Write it down. 
    2.    At the top of the resume, write about your goal in a short paragraph  –  no “Objectives” please.  Write down phrases (No complete sentences appear on a resume.) stating your profession and revealing outstanding experience(s) and strong capabilities.  This is called a Career Summary, Qualifications Summary, or some similar term. 
    3.    Every item subsequently written on the resume (below your Career Summary) should support or contribute to achieving THE GOAL.  If it doesn’t, it’s irrelevant and should be removed.

Guideline 2: A resume should be future-oriented
"If you put down what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got." 
This expression says a lot about why job seekers don’t the get the job.  Think about it.  Let’s say you are an engineer, performing hands-on design work, and decide you would like to be a manager of other engineers.  You apply for an engineering manager job.  In your resume, you show all the work you designed, tested, and implemented. 
Would you get the job? . . . . . . . Probably not. 
Why?  . . . . . . . Something’s missing.  

Let's look into this all-too common situation a little further:  The engineering manager job description shows a manager must be not only (1) technically qualified but also have (2) the interpersonal skills in order to lead and manage people.  To only shows technical abilities, as the young engineer did, means he will stay an engineer.  On the other hand, a savvy young engineering competitor, while also not yet able to show formal management experience, drew upon his or her interpersonal and leadership experiences  --  leading a team, providing direction to a problem solving team, coaching a new member of the department, resolving a conflict.  He showed interpersonal capabilities as well as technical ones.  Who do you think got the job?

Here’s how to do it:  Show you have some experience in meeting most, if not all, of the requirements.
    1.    Review the position advertisement and make a “T” chart.  List ALL the job’s requirements and preferences on one side of your chart.
    2.    Opposite each requirement, list your experience in performing the required duty, no matter how partial, limited, or small it may be!
    3.     Now list these experiences on your resume.  Do this for any position for which you apply.  This approach shows the recruiter or hiring manager that while you may not have all of the required experiences and proficiencies, you have both the aptitude and the capability for doing so.

Guideline 3: A resume should use appropriate language
It’s not just what you say but how you say it!  Resumes are no exception!
The language you use to describe your experience, capabilities, strengths, and accomplishments forms an impression of you in the reader’s mind.  That impression may be that you’re a viable candidate for this position, or not, based on the words you use. 

Here’s how to do it:  Use words that show level of responsibility and proficiency.
    1.    Be current in your use of words to describe the work you’ve done.  Outdated terminology dates you as someone who may not have kept up with industry and profession changes.
    2.    Show level of responsibility through your words.  The budget, staffing, and authority of a vice president would be greater than those of a new supervisor.  Use wording and quantification to show magnitude as well as capability.
    3.    Be persuasive through use of wording that influences your reader.  You’re in sales when seeking a job and your job is to influence the reader of your resume to see you as a candidate who is in the running.  Show the “benefits” of hiring you!

Guideline 4: A resume should be Succinct
 “My resume is 6 pages.  How do I get 30 years of experience into 2 pages?”
    You don’t! 

What you do is plan and write a resume that is strategic, focused, future-oriented, relevant, and that uses the appropriate “sales” language.
What you’ll get is a 2-page resume that is concisely and precisely targeted for the job you really, really want!

Here’s how to do it:  Write and edit . . . . . . .
    1.    Write and edit
    2.    Write and edit
    3.    And, write and edit some more.

A resume is an iterative process.
It will take several iterations to produce a resume you love!  But using these guidelines for preparing an effective resume will get you there!
For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
 ____________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

You’ve Got the Job . . . Now What? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Tips for Staying Marketable

Many job seekers with whom I have worked have asked this question: 
    "How do I ensure that I am never laid off again?"
      Of course, the truthful answer is “You can’t.”  

Congratulations!  You have landed your new job.
But, unfortunately, you can never ensure that you will not be looking for another new job again.  Such is the employment marketplace of the 2000's.

Gone are the days when companies and organizations hired employees for the long haul, and an effective and productive worker could count on many years of employment with the same firm.  The pace of change companies face in order to stay viable just doesn’t allow them to guarantee long tenures for their employees when they themselves don’t know what their firm will look like a few years down the road.

So it is futile for an employee to seek a position which will last a lifetime.

However, I think there is a better question for job seekers who have landed their next role to ask.  It is: “How do I ensure that if I am faced again with losing my job, I am in the best position to find another job  – and sooner rather later?”  What we are really talking about in answering this question is how to best manage your career.

“How do I ensure that if I am faced again with losing my job, 
I am in the best position to find another job  – and sooner rather later?”

Managing Your Career? . . . or . . . Just Doing Your Job?
We’ve all heard that you need to pro-actively manage your own career.  Yet, when it comes down to it, many if not most job seekers who land their new job go right back to their old habits:  Nose to the grindstone  –  working hard, putting in the hours, going the extra mile and then some.  This approach is not Managing Your Career; it is simply doing your job.   This approach didn’t protect you from losing your previous job and it won’t eliminate the possibility that you could lose your new job either.

No one would argue that in your new position, you need to do an excellent job.  That’s a given just to keep it!  However, I would argue that you need to do more!

You need to do more than just your job
Over the course of your job search, you learned a lot about how the employment world works.  You learned about how to market yourself.  You developed marketing tools to showcase your capabilities, experience and accomplishments.  You attended professional events and association meetings.  You developed new contacts and renewed old ones.  You brushed up old skills, gained new knowledge, and may have even secured new credentials.  You developed a new set of work habits that have to do with managing your own career.  What you need to do now is keep it up!

Keeping up your new-found marketability
 One of my last messages to my clients who have worked so hard and finally landed their new position is don’t let your new found knowledge about what keeps you marketable wane.  Should the unthinkable happen, and you find yourself on the employment market again, you will be better positioned to find a new position if you keep up your new habits. 

10 TIPS to put on your Career Management TO DO List:
1.  Manage your own career.
No one will manage it for you – no matter what they say – “they” being the companies who hire you that promise they will do so. 

2.  Expect change.
It can happen again, and probably will, in the course of your career.  Don’t let it surprise you. 

3.  Manage your public professional “profile.”
I am referring to the profile you established during your search in which you:
  • Developed marketing tools to showcase your capabilities, experience and accomplishments.  Keep your marketing tools current. 
  • Achieved visibility by attending and participating in professional events, conferences, and association meetings.  Stay visible in your profession. 
  • Developed a network of new contacts and renewed old ones.  Stay in touch. 
  • Enhanced your skills and knowledge.  Keep learning and document it.
Continue all of these worthwhile pursuits.

4.  Manage your internal company professional “profile.”
Use the same networking skills you learned in your job search internally within your new company.   (See Tip #3.)  Knowing people inside your firm who know, respect, like, and see you as a contributor can lengthen your longevity in the firm. 

5.  Develop and build your physical portfolio.
Just as an artist can always demonstrate their work by showing their portfolio, you should develop yours.  Fill your portfolio with physical evidence of your accomplishments, including such items as e-mails recognizing the caliber of your work, key reports, commendations from the employer or customers, recommendations you gave the company that were adopted, awards & rewards, excellent performance reviews, etc.    
Strong hint: Keep a complete copy of your portfolio in your home office as well as your work office. 

6.  Weekly, make a note of your activity and accomplishments.
Pick a time each week to review the week’s work:
  • Note what you achieved.
  • Note where you feel short and what you intend to about it.
  • And note what’s next on your Business Agenda.
Clients often pick late Friday to do this weekly review.  Importantly, write it all down!  This is a great habit to get into.  Doing this, you will never again have to try to remember your accomplishments when it comes time to sell yourself in your new resume, your annual performance review, or your annual argument for why you deserve a raise!

7.  Update your resume quarterly!  No exceptions!
Make a date with yourself, and put it on your calendar, that you will sit at your desk, in your home office, and update this all-important document.

8.  Be observant and Recognize hints of change
I can not stress strongly enough that you recognize hints of change in your company, industry, geographic locale, and profession and don’t ignore these hints of change.  Most of the time, clients who swore the layoff or downsizing was a “complete surprise,” later admit to me that they did notice some changes but chose to ignore these warning signs.  Heed the early warning signs and head off change at the pass!

9.  Develop your presentation skills
A key skill for keeping and getting a job.  Good presenters are of value to a company.  Good presenters, who are speaking at an event or conference, are known to have gotten job offers just by doing so.  Happened to me!

10.  Stay physically fit.
Many job seekers tell me that this was the first time they actually had time to practice a physical fitness routine.   Keep us this good habit!  To exude good physical fitness is attractive to prospective employers!

Following these 10 Tips is your best insurance that you will be viewed as a MVP inside your company and as a potential MVP by hiring firms!

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
 ____________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

Monday, October 1, 2012

Negotiation: What is it and Why do it?

“I’ve been looking for a job and finally got an interview.”
    “That’s great!  It’s a tough market out there and just getting an interview is an accomplishment.”

     “Well, you found a job not that long ago.  This is my first interview in a while.  Any advice?”
    “Yeah, don’t ask about benefits or salary too soon.  Let the company bring that up later.”
“What if they ask about it first thing?”
    “Try to put off talking about it until after you’ve talked about your experience and accomplishments.”
“Wow.  Sounds difficult.  Sounds like a negotiation tactic and I don’t even have the offer.”
    “You’re right.  It IS NEGOTIATION and it will actually help in landing the job!”

Negotiation, like networking, is one of those terms that everyone uses when talking about job search and sort-of knows what it is but yet can be hard pressed to apply.  What is it, and how and when do you apply negotiation tactics in your job search?

Here is a definition:
Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    NEGOTIATE  > verb   - to confer with another so as to arrive at the settlement of some matter

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  It’s not, but it also is NOT a part of the job search process to be feared or shied away from.  When you don’t “negotiate,” on your own behalf when seeking a job, chances are you leave dollar$ and benefits lying on the table that could have been yours!

If you are one who shies away from negotiation, the articles found in the negotiation section of the AJC website should help.  You may shy away from fear, and like many job seekers I have known, just accept the offer that is given to you.  Or, you may shy away due to simply not knowing how to negotiate your offer.  In either case, here are a few tips to get you started.

Here are a few negotiation tips.

1.  Understand that negotiation begins the moment you say hello.
As the discussion between the job seekers at the beginning of this article indicates, the information you choose to reveal about your experience and accomplishments begins the negotiation.  It places you at a compensation level in the interviewer’s mind --  right off the bat!  It also indicates the level of responsibility you could assume in their firm.
    • Be cautious about revealing too much too soon.  It may lower your compensation or benefits, or eliminate you as a viable candidate.
2.  Know that EVERYTHING is negotiable.
Everything is up for grabs!  Most job seekers first, and often only, think in terms of salary when it comes time to negotiate.
    • However, you can negotiate anything from work schedule to vacation benefits to starting dates to resources to memberships to bonuses.  The list is just about endless.  
Give careful consideration to what it will take for you to be a happy and productive worker in the organization for which you are interviewing.

3.  Prepare.  Research the profession, and the interviewing firm if you can, in terms of the “going rates” for your skill set.
    • Know what you are worth in the marketplace.  
Know what the firm, or at least the profession, offers as a fair compensation package. 

4.  Prepare.  Know your own bottom line - that line you draw in the sand below which you can not go.
I have been surprised by the number of job seekers I have worked with who had no real idea as to what their cost of living truly is.  Know what it costs to run your household, and  your life style.  Ask yourself the tough question: 
    • What is the lowest I can go in salary and compensation package before I will have to walk away? 
Sort through your “wants” and “needs” - 2 different things entirely.  You may be surprised!

5. Prepare.  Learn about negotiation.
We generally fear that which we do not understand, and that is often the case with negotiation.
    • By learning about what it is and how to offer information on our own behalf, negotiation becomes a less scary part of the job search process.  
As you learn and build skill, who knows. . . you may actually come to relish the opportunity to negotiate!  And recognize that that when you are negotiating your offer to "come on board," you are at your most powerful point when it comes to your tenure with a hiring organization.  They want you and that's a powerful position from which to bargain.  Know too that the starting salary serves as the basis for future raises and bonuses. 

So, learn to negotiate.  It is a skill worth cultivating! 

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website. 
For individual coaching for your job offer negotiation, feel free to contact us here at the AJC to schedule a consultation.
 ____________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub