Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How To Work A Job Fair

Tips on How to Seize the Opportunities of a Job Fair
"Do they have any jobs?" asks a job seeker upon hearing that there is going to be a Job Fair.
      "No, they don't have any openings at this time."
"Then what is the point of going to the Job Fair?" ask a job seeker.

What is the point indeed?  There is a big point in attending a job fair and talking with companies even if they don't have openings at this time.  Read on.

"Do they have any jobs?" is the question asked by many job seekers who consider attending a job fair. Hopefully, the companies attending do have jobs. But, what if they don't?  Is attending a waste of time?  If you think so, think again.  There are many opportunities to be found - they are just on the "hidden job market."

Some Job Seeking Truths
    • People hire People! They always have; they always will - despite all of the technology of job search  today.
    • People prefer to hire people they know - or know of. It lessens the $$expensive $$risk of hiring a   mistake.  Meeting recruiters at Job Fairs is a way to get known!
    • The majority of positions are still found on the hidden job market.

 Smart ways to work a Job Fair
    1. Do your homework.  Look at the list of the companies and organizations before you attend the Job Fair, and identify those that are your best targets.
    2. Research those organizations. Look them up on the Internet. Get names of key people in the company and their positions.
    3. Strategize. Plan which companies you want to talk to first, and what you want to say to each of them, in addition to your elevator speech.
    4. Bring copies of your marketing tools - i.e., resume, business cards, items that will be memorable to the interviewer.
    5. Get the business cards, or contact info of everyone you speak to, and follow-up within 24 - 48 hours with a letter that thanks the person for talking with you, recaps your qualifications, and references something you talked about. Send another copy of your resume and business cards.
    6. State that you recognize that they may not have any positions at this time, but that you would like to stay in touch (ask for an informal interview) and ask if you might re-contact them in a few weeks (2 - 3 weeks is suggested).

Why do all of this when a firm says it has no openings?  Here's another truth - 
Companies will always have openings - sometime, some day. When they do, this simple strategy will help them think of you to fill that opening.  That's strategic Job Search!

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.
nancy@ajcglobal.com              www.ajcglobal.com             AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:  www.linkedin.com/pub/nancy-c-gober/6/14b/965        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The #1 Interview Question

The #1 Interview Question:  Tell me about yourself!
The interview is beginning.  The interviewer looks across her desk and asks the interview "ice breaker" question to start the conversation. . .
    "Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself?”  
The interviewee stammers a little, hems and haws, clears his throat, and begins a monologue that goes on
way, way too long! 
    “Uhm, well I grew up in Florida , lived there most of my life, went to Florida State University, majored in philosophy, and then I took a year off to help my Dad out in his construction business.  My first job was in 1972 when I was hired as a  . . . .”
The interviewer listens patiently, acts interested, but is secretly thinking: “What does this have to do with the job he's applying for?  Get to the point.”

Sound familiar?  If you have ever sat in the interviewee's seat and experienced the situation just described, you are not alone.  In fact, many, if not most job seekers, have had a similar experience. We know what we want to say about ourselves and our experience; we just can’t seem to say it!

In an interview, any job seeker wants to make a good first impression.  You want to convey that you are the candidate who can get the job done!  You want to appear motivated and capable. You want to show that you are qualified to perform the duties of the job and then some.  You just can’t seem to say it, or to say it as well as you would like.

Why not?  What goes wrong?  What’s missing?
Generally when a job seeker stammers, and hems and haws at the beginning of an interview, or is just too wordy, what is missing is a prepared and practiced short presentation that "tells the interviewer about yourself."  This short, precise presentation, highlighting relevant experience, qualifications, and skills, is -- by another name  -- an 'L'vator speech!

What is an 'L'vator speech?
An 'L'vator speech is a professional self-description that can be said in 30 seconds or less.. Theoretically, it can be said in the time you travel in an elevator from the 1st to the 14th floor. . . .hence, the term 'L'vator speech!  AND, when you're done, your listener has a pretty good  idea of what you do and do well.

In other words, your 'L'vator speech is a short, concise, prepared in advance, and well-practiced description of your expertise, abilities, skills, and accomplishments that are relevant to the job you are interviewing for.

How do you do it? . . .  With this 5-Step Model
It can be a bit mystifying to try to figure out how to describe the essence of your experience in less than 30 seconds.  So, here's a method to do just that.  Below is a 5-Step Model for preparing your 'L'vator speech.  The model allows you to tell the listener, in 30 seconds or less, what you do and what you are expert at.  It helps you showcase your skills, and highlight relevant accomplishments.  It provides you a way to ask for your desired outcome from the discussion.  So, . . . take out a pencil and paper and begin to craft your 'L'vator speech --  your answer to the #1 interview question:  "So why don't you tell me a little about yourself?"

5-Step Model to craft your 'L'vator speech
Step 1. Start with your profession.  State what you do in a couple of words?
    I am a ________________________________    
    I’m an electronics engineer.   I’m a manager.  I’m an administrative assistant.

Step 2.  Identify your area(s) of expertise. What makes you stand out from the crowd?
    I'm a ____________,with in-depth experience or expertise in ________________
    I’m an electronics engineer, with extensive experience in designing systems that . . . 
    I’m a manager who consistently runs departments that function like clockwork.
    I’m an administrative assistant who never misses a deadline.

Step 3.  Identify your areas of skill that are relevant to the job your are seeking.
    I’m particularly skilled in______________,  or I’m adept at _____________________
    I am skilled in helping the customer implement new systems with no downtime.
    I’m really effective at planning and budgeting so that the programs I manage come in on time and within budget.
    I’m current in the latest office computer software so I’ll be productive right off the bat!

Step 4.  Identify knowledge, strengths, and unique attributes that are relevant to the position.
    I am certified in__________, or, I am trained in__________, or I was awarded the__________
    I hold a Master's degree in advanced electronics engineering.
    I am a certified Program Manager.
    I was recognized as the “Employee of the Year” by my previous employer and earned a cash award.

Step 5. Ask for what you want.  What are you trying to achieve?
    I am looking to__________, or, I am seeking __________, or I hope to__________
    I am looking for a Systems Engineering position that uses_____________
    I am hoping you can refer me to a person in your network who is familiar with ___________________
    I am seeking an  opportunity to _________________

Using the 5-Step Model will help you craft an 'L'vator speech that gets to the point and accomplishes your objective of “telling the listener about you." 

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.
nancy@ajcglobal.com              www.ajcglobal.com             AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:  www.linkedin.com/pub/nancy-c-gober/6/14b/965        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

Monday, March 18, 2013

The # 1 Networking Question to Avoid. . . .

What is the Number 1 Question to Avoid when beginning a networking conversation? 
        "Do you know of any job openings?"
        If the answer is “NO,” it’ll be a short conversation.

Instead of asking this conversation-killer, plan ahead.  Plan to ask questions that draw your networking contact out.  Ask questions that get him or her talking, and sharing information.  Remember, your purpose, in a 1-to-1 networking conversation or meeting, is ultimately to learn what the other person knows about potential employers, helpful people, beneficial professional associations, and other good sources of information that could lead to employment.

Design your questions to. . . .
  1. Elicit information, and
  2. Equally importantly, get your networking contact thinking about you long after your conversation is over so that when your network contact does come across a job lead, or meets a person who could be helpful to your search, he or she will think of you!

 Ask open-ended questions that get the networking conversation flowing.
 Ask about: 
 Organizations or companies     People     Professional associations     "Headhunters"
Here's how:
Part 1:  Set the Stage   - 40% of your meeting

(1)  Begin by telling your network contact about yourself:  Why your are on the market for new employment.  This is, in fact, your “L”vator speech.
(2) Then, tell the person you are meeting with why you requested to speak with them.  This is an opportunity to complement the person about their knowledge of the industry, their reputation for being a leader or a fountain of information when it comes to their profession, a real “Who’s Who” when it comes to knowing “everybody who’s anybody” in the industry. . . you get the point.  A little “schmoozing,” as long as it is sincere, can work to your advantage!

Caution: Your goal in a networking is to learn.  So set the stage and STOP TALKING ABOUT YOU!  In a networking conversation, you should only talk about 40% of the time!

Part 2: Ask Questions - 60% of your meeting
The point is to get your networking contact to share information; he or she should be talking the most. A good guideline is that he or she should be doing at least 60% of the meeting!

Ask these 4 Target Questions:
Target Question 1: Are you aware of any good organizations I should be looking into?
This gets your contact thinking about companies which have impressed them.
    Question 1 Variation:  Tell me about your organization.  If the person is employed, this is a natural place to begin.  It gets the conversation going and allows your contact to be helpful.
    Follow-up with your question about additional organizations your contact thinks well of.

Target Question 2: Are there people you know who it might be good for me to talk with?
Receiving a referral to your contact’s contacts, is networking at its best.  Here, you begin to meet people whom your contact believes can be helpful to you.  As contacts refer you to contacts, and they in turn refer you to their contacts, the multiplier effect occurs.  Talking with people to whom you are referred is the best route to finding opportunities on the hidden market, and to your next position.
    Importantly, in order to know how to proceed, clarify if he/she will make the referral, or if you will simply use the name of your contact in contacting the referral.

Target Question 3: Are you aware of any good professional associations or groups that you have benefited from participating in and that I should attend?
Professional associations provide a wealth of opportunities to a job seeker.  You meet people in companies in your profession with whom you can schedule meetings, or contact for information.  Give them a call the next day, and they’ll take your call.

You hear the “who’s who's” of your industry, the association meeting speakers, present topics that are relevant and timely to your profession, giving you additional information to discuss in interviews.

Target Question 4: Have you worked with any “headhunters” (executive search firms) or employment agencies that you found particularly effective?
While no one but you can or should be responsible for managing your career and your job search, headhunters are another avenue to employment.  Finding 1 or 2 who you can work with is simply taking advantage of another avenue to employment.

Caution: Don’t rely solely on the use of an executive search firm - headhunter - or employment agency to “find you your next position.”  However, the use of a firm to also identify opportunities, in addition to those you generate,  is a good strategy.

To Sum it All Up
Asking questions that draw your networking contact out, encouraging them to share information and refer you to others, will yield returns in leads to opportunities, and lead you to the door of your next position! 

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.
nancy@ajcglobal.com              www.ajcglobal.com             AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:  www.linkedin.com/pub/nancy-c-gober/6/14b/965        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

Monday, March 11, 2013

Networking Meetings Generate Interviews

Networking can lead to interviews.  Getting comfortable with networking can generate the kind of meetings and conversations in which you uncover leads to your next position or to enhance the one you already have!

Why networking?  Through networking, you can often identify needs before they turn into openings, and openings before they are announced on the Open Market. With networking, you can get a jump on the competition!

In fact, networking meetings are actually "interviews" of a sort.  They are informal conversations / discussions that could lead you to your next job as you discuss your capabilities and demonstrate how you could benefit a potential employer.  Isn't that all an interview is anyway? 

So, set a goal to schedule networking meetings.  This does not mean sending an impersonal, cursory e-mail, or leaving a voice mail message with only your name and phone number.   It means setting up meaningful meetings, phone calls, or e-mails that offer information about your capabilities as well as needs you can fulfill for a prospective employer and the benefits you can provide. 

Set a goal:  So, schedule networking meetings.  Set a goal of at least one networking meeting a day.   You’ll be surprised by the number of new people you meet, business connections you make, and needs and potential jobs you discover.
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.
nancy@ajcglobal.com              www.ajcglobal.com             AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:  www.linkedin.com/pub/nancy-c-gober/6/14b/965        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

To Find A New Job Quicker . . . Follow-up!

Over the years, I have asked many, many job seekers after they landed a new job or role:
    “If you had it to do over again, what would they do differently?
                Their answer:  follow up. 

To find a new position quicker, follow-up is a must!  It is not enough to just submit an application or resume and then WAIT! 

With hundreds, if not 1000's, of candidates vying for the same positions, your resume is as likely as not to land on the bottom of the stack.  With 50 or 100 or 1000 submissions ahead of you, you have little chance of being noticed by simply submitting a resume or application.  It’s a first step  —   just not your only step!

So, implement a follow-up strategy to get yourself noticed.  Plan follow-up activities after your initial submission.  There are various ways you can do this:
Here are a few:
1.  Write directly to the hiring and/or HR manager, and include a copy of your resume.  
2.  Identify a person, in your personal and professional network, who works inside the organization or knows someone who does.  Ask them to hand carry your submission (or e-mail if they can’t do it person-to-person) to the appropriate person and put in a good word for you.
3.  Use your social network, including Linked In, to connect with a person familiar with the organization who can tell you about the organization and help you direct your marketing material to the appropriate person.
4.  Attend your profession's association meeting and look for someone connected with the prospective employer.

A "First Follow-up" is A First Follow-up
These are just a few of the ways you can creatively follow-up.  I’m sure you can think of others.  The important thing to remember is this: That "first follow-up" is just that - a first follow-up.  Plan to stay in touch and continue to express your interest until you have gotten the desired employer's attention, hopefully resulting in an interview and an offer!

When asked what they would have done differently, the overwhelming majority of job seekers said that if they had followed up more often and more consistently, they would have landed their new job quicker!  So, plan to follow up to achieve your job search goal!

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.
nancy@ajcglobal.com              www.ajcglobal.com             AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:  www.linkedin.com/pub/nancy-c-gober/6/14b/965        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

Job Search Marketing Tools

You've decided to look for a new position.  You’ve written your resume.  You are ready to go!   Right? . . . .  Wrong. 
Your resume is only the first of several tools you will need to market yourself in today's employment marketplace.  After all, if finding a job is all about selling yourself  -  and it is  -- then you will need all your sales tools to make the sale to prospective employers in today's highly competitive employment marketplace!  Your resume is only one of many job search sales tools - albeit a very important one.

Too many job seekers think that when they have finally written their resume, they are ready to roll --  to just start sending their resume out in response to any and every opening they see.  However, to do so without planning a strategy for following up those initial entrees, or developing a marketing plan and focusing your efforts, can result in slow - or no - progress in finding that next position.  You will likely join the ranks of the many job seekers who can count 100's, if not 1000's, of submissions with no results.  Why?
Without a full set of marketing tools, simply applying for positions on-line and sending out resumes is not enough!

What tools will you need to begin to market yourself for a new job?  Remember, finding a job boils down to sales.  You are selling yourself.  You will need to identify opportunities (industries, and then companies within those industries, and jobs within those companies) that could use and value your skills and experience.  Putting this information together is really creating  your Marketing Plan - another of your marketing tools.  That done, you will then need to develop the rest of your marketing tools. 

Here are the basic marketing tools you will need to venture into the job market:
The Basics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
(1)  Resume. . .  
    Generally a chronological resume (although can also be a functional, combo functional/chronological) that quickly tells  the reader about your skills and experience.
(2)  “L”vator speech. . .
    A self-introduction that accurately and adequately conveys your expertise and attributes in less than 30 seconds.
(3)  Business Cards. . . 
    A Personal-Professional Business Card that tells the receiver at a minimum your name and basic contact information, and at maximum your profession/title and competency areas.
(4) Reference List. . .
    An annotated reference list shows not only the name and contact information of your reference, but also the nature of your professional relationship.
(5) Marketing Plan. . .
    Your marketing plan identifies your competencies areas, and the types of industries, and companies within those industries, that employ your skills.
(6) Portfolio. . .
    Your professional job search portfolio captures and displays materials that provide “proof” of your competency, skills, experience, and expertise.  It can contain items such as: resume, letters of recommendation, letters of appreciation, performance appraisals, certificates, degrees/diplomas, articles about you and by you, reports written, awards, etc.

Your Basic Tool Kit for a Job Search.  With these marketing tools in hand, you are now able to enter the job market.  Think of it is as your Basic Tool Kit for a job search.  You now have the information you need to identify real, potential job opportunities, and a way to communicate to those potential employers about what you have to offer in an impactful, attention-getting way.

Here are the additional or advanced marketing tools you will need to have an all inclusive Job Search Marketing Tool Kit to fully engage and competently capture career opportunities:
The Advanced. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
(7)   Networking Plan
(8)   Linked-In Profile
(9)   Cover Letter Template
(10) Thank You Letter Template
(11)  Follow-up strategy

Now, you ARE ready to go!  As with any good salesperson, you have a plan and the product knowledge to expertly and persuasively engage your potential customers - who just might become your next employer!

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.
nancy@ajcglobal.com              www.ajcglobal.com             AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:  www.linkedin.com/pub/nancy-c-gober/6/14b/965        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Job Search Audit

Been at your search for a while?  A Job Search Audit can tell you how you’re doing.
I advise all my job search clients, when they have been at this task for 3 or more months, to audit their search.  Performing a Job Search Audit can corroborate what you’re doing well and provides ques and clues to areas for improvement.

Why?  As with the “Weekly Review,” this is another $$ no-cost $$ technique that could move you a step closer to accomplishing your job search objective.  (For additional information, please refer to "Schedule A Weekly Review” in the Planning and Strategy section of the AJC website.) 

Here's how to perform your own job search audit:
1.  Set aside a block of time in which you can devote your total attention - NO INTERRUPTIONS!
2.  Next, if possible, find a “job search buddy” with whom you can talk through your review.
It needs to be someone who understands the process of what it takes to find a job today, and the way you are going about your search.  THIS IS NOT A TOTAL REVAMP ( That's why I say it has to be someone who knows the process you are using and is familiar with you and your activity).  You don't want to re-invent the wheel --- just tweak it if necessary.
3.  Review your Career Strategy - Marketing Plan.
What responses have you received from your target companies?   It's not a bad idea to again look up your target companies; revisit their current work as well as to learn about any new work areas/directions/projections, etc. that might be in need of your skills.
4.  Review your resume  -  Not a quick read but a through review.  
Read it out loud, and take a step back and view it from the perspective of a target company or employer.
-  Based on the knowledge you've gained of your industry/target companies, and their advertised positions, as well as your current knowledge about what you REALLY want to do, does your resume need revision or re-focusing?
-  Does anything need to be slightly tweaked, or should additions be made in light of your experience searching since you wrote your resume?
5.  Review your interviews  -  serious networking meetings count as interviews. 
Note the top 5 or 10 questions you have been asked and make note of your answers.  It may be that you decide that your answers are the right ones, or it could be that something should be tweaked or actually changed in light of additional activities / courses/ experiences/ you have accomplished while job searching.

Performed periodically, an audit  is a great way to gauge how you are REALLY  doing.  Armed with this knowledge, you'll have the ability to identify what you are doing that is working, what's not, and what you need to change to make yourself more effective in the employment job market.

This is the toughest job market we've seen and experienced since the Great Depression.  As such, it takes time to land a new position.  However, working strategically and working at it like it's your job - which it is - is the way folks who land jobs get them.  FINDING A JOB IN THIS MARKET IS A CHALLENGE - NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.  BUT BY DOING THE RIGHT THINGS RIGHT, YOU'LL GET 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.  ____________________________________________________________________________
nancy@ajcglobal.com              www.ajcglobal.com             AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:  www.linkedin.com/pub/nancy-c-gober/6/14b/965        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub