How to Make the Most of an Internship

Many people have co-op terms or internships as part of their academic courses.  They are fantastic learning experiences but there are some extra things you can do to maximize their impact from a career perspective.

Make sure you add the your title and company to your LinkedIn profile. Add some bullet points about your tasks so that other people can get a feel for what you are doing.

Invite people you are working with to join your network.  You can also invite people from outside the company.  If you get to shadow someone at a meeting or a conference, pick up business cards and send out the invites. linkedin cracked button

Your LinkedIn invitations have more impact if you personalize them.  If you mention where you met the person and how much you liked their presentation/speech/questions, you will up the chances of them accepting your invite.

Ask if people in your work  group will provide a recommendation.  Basically, you are asking if they will say a couple of nice things about you that will be visible on your profile.

Start a list in your phone of training and learning opportunities so you can record them as you go.  By the end of your term, you won’t remember what happened at the beginning.  These are valuable bits to add to your resume when you are done.  You want to be able to reference not just what you did, but what you learned.  That’s the sort of thing future employers want to see.

When you finish an internship, make sure you note that on your LinkedIn profile.  You might also want to take a few minutes to write some thank you notes to your boss and your boss’s boss.  Mention how much you learned and how much you enjoyed being part of the team.

None of these items are going to make an internship better but they will help to make sure it is a solid starting point for  a satisfying career.

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New LinkedIn Feature Filters out the Fluff

It’s September and we are all running around trying to adjust to new schedules.  If we can’t find time to catch our breath, how the heck can we keep our eyes open for new career opportunities?

It’s pretty easy for this to fall on the back burner but this is not the time for that to happen.  Fall is when hiring teams realize that if they don’t start the hiring process now, they might lose headcount.

For example, there are lots of interesting jobs being posted on LinkedIn right now.  In fact, there are so many, it can take hours to sift through them.

LinkedIn has added a new feature to help with this.  The next time you go into LinkedIn, click the Jobs tab.  You will see a new tab called Preferences.

It has lots of areas to click and choose – geography, industry, seniority, company size and more.  This will help to focus the jobs that get sent to you.  The more things you click, the more relevant the jobs should be. ( I hope this really works – I am tired of getting pipefitter jobs in my inbox.)

You can also choose what you would like to share with recruiters.  This should also improve the odds of getting excited when you are approached about a role.

We know that the more we automate tasks, the more effective we are.  After all, we don’t count our steps, do we?  We just glance at our Fitbit and get going.  Using this tool should have the same effect.  You can glance at the postings of the day, decide on a course of action ( apply, save, dump) and then get to yoga.

 

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Interview Like You Mean It

As a manager, interviewing is one of the most important things you do. You can’t build a great team that will reach great objectives if you don’t hire great people to be on that team.
Interviewing is the first step to hiring those great people.

When you interview someone, you are trying to figure out if they are the right person to help solve a problem.

Do they have the right skills and attitudes to be the fixer you need?

You establish this through questions and conversation and most importantly, concentration. We expect candidates to be highly engaged in the interview process. It is reasonable, therefore, that the hiring manager should be present in body and mind as well.

Before you step into an interview, take a few minutes to put aside the million things that you are working on. Think about the role (and problem) this person might be able to fix. Take another look at their resume.  

Put down your phone, square your shoulders and head in to shake hands and say hello.

Try to start with an open ended question as an ice breaker. “Tell me about yourself” is a bit tricky. It can lead to a really long answer if the person is nervous. It also could sound like you are covering up the fact that you did not take time to look at the person’s resume.

  • How did you get started in this industy?
  • Why are you interested in our company?
  • What have you heard about our technology?

These are all open ended but with relatively controlled answers that will give you some insight into the the person right from the get-go.

Pay attention. Call out something interesting. Ask follow up questions. This is your chance to figure out how they think and how they might fit with you and your team.  

If you are, at this point, rolling your eyes because interviewing is a drag and you never meet interesting candidates, then get with your recruiting folks and get that fixed. 

The world is full of interesting people. Find them, talk to them and hire them.

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DIY Executive Search – is it a good idea?

Executive search is the same as any other professional service.  It’s about the value, not the cost – after all, isn’t that how you make other business decisions?

Do you do your own legal work?

Of course not.  There is too much risk and too much you don’t know.

It’s not that you couldn’t do the research and figure it out. It’s that there are experts who are easily available and can draw on the experience they have gained from working through hundreds of similar situations.  Not only will they will be faster and more thorough but you can yell at them.clock

Don’t underestimate this.  When you do your own research and come up with a solution that does not work out, you only have yourself to yell at.  Not very satisfying at all.  And ultimately, you have to call an expert to bail you out.  A bitter pill to swallow.  Scotch might make this a little more palatable but not by much.

Do you do your company’s taxes?

Nope, this gets sent off to experts as well.  Changes in both legislation and your business make it pretty tough to keep up with what’s current, acceptable and advantageous.

When it’s audit time, you want to have a firm that you trust with a strong leader and good support staff.  You know it will cost money but you will feel confident about the results and the advice you get along the way.

So what about executive searches?  Many leaders feel that these should be handled in house.  But why?  Can you really get on LinkedIn to find who you need?  There are 450 million members.  Talk about finding a needle in a haystack.

How much time will it take to find five candidates you want your senior team to interview in order to find the right person?

  • Research – 50 hours
  • Set up and conduct phone interviews – 30 hours
  • Set up and conduct in person interviews – 30 hours
  • References and offer negotiation – 10 hours

That’s about three weeks if all you did was work on this task.  Can you put aside all of your other responsibilities for three weeks to work on this role?  Can anyone else in your organization afford this kind of time?

Say you can focus on this task, do you know the best way to interrupt a candidate’s life to tell them your story? Phone, text, email, skywriting?  You will only get one shot.  You have to make the most of it.

Is there really value to keeping executive talent acquisition in house?  Especially when you know you could hire a firm that would provide a shortlist of qualified, interested, assessed candidates in a set time frame.  Really?

Base your decision on value, risk and time – just like when you decide to use your lawyer and your accountant.

 

 

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Recruiting to Broaden the Applicant Pool

One of the best ways to change up your work groups and increase the diversity of your company is to use external recruiters and I am not just saying that because I am an external recruiter.
When you work with someone outside your company, you are focused on describing what the new person is going to do and where they fit into the greater scheme of things.
Your talk about the activities and leadership style, their technical knowledge and priorities.

The external recruiter does not know that people in your organization all went to Stanford and all play broom ball.

So they hit the candidate marketplace and start talking about your company and the great things that are happening and within a few weeks, you have a new group of candidates who would not have applied to your posting or been a part of your employees’ networks.

There is gong to be some fresh new thinking in that group. It can be a pretty interesting experience to interview someone who understands the role but is from a different environment.

They have credibility but none of the baggage. This can be a tremendous help with innovation based roles or where a group has become a bit stagnant.

The key is to keep an open mind when you are interviewing. Review your questions before hand. Be sure to remove things that contain company specific acronyms or personalities.  

When you find the gem and hire them, Make sure you have a very inclusive on-boarding process. Hiring managers and peers alike sometimes need to be reminded that even though someone can’t play broom ball, they still contribute some great ideas.  

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Solve for x (where x is a great job)

We all want the best job, right?  We spend more time with our work partners than our spouses so time at work should be pretty satisfying.  And rewarding.  And sometimes fun.

But how do you get to this place?

The most important factors of great work are:

  • Scope
  • Manager/Team
  • Location
  • Money

These are like legs on a stool.  They are all important but sometimes you can get away with one leg being a bit shorter than the others.  If one is way too short, then you are sure to fall on your ass. (in a career sense)

Scope really is the most important.  What do you do every day?  I am not talking about having coffee or reading the paper.  Who do you help?  What do you solve?  How does your activity move your group ahead?

If you are firefighter, it’s pretty easy to figure this out.  If you are one person in a team of fifty, it can be trickier, especially if it feels like you spend all your time in meetings about nothing!

Think about the main objective of your job.  Is it to support someone?  To make something better?  To create something new?

Once you can hone in on your day to day objective, you can decide if this is what you want keep doing.  Sometimes you realize that you are no longer doing what you signed up to do.  This happens often in companies with rapid change (growth, decline or acquisition) and sometimes the changes are subtle, slow and kind of creep up on you.

This takes some time.  Be prepared to do some walking and thinking about this.  Sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night with a flash of realization that you need to quit your job and start a brewery but this is not how it happens for most of us.  We slowly come to the conclusion that we need a shift, not a complete flip.

Now you can start to target places where you can be better and more satisfied.

More on that step next week.

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Pokemon for Jobs

Are you playing Pokemon?  If you are not, you probably know someone who is.  It’s pretty fun to stumble across a little digital creature, toss a few balls at it and add it to your collection.  I am at level six which, apparently, is pretty good for someone my age.

Part of the reason kids are successful with this game is that other kids tell them where to look.  I was parked in front of a store yesterday and was not allowed to pull out of the spot because the folks in the back seat heard there was a rare Pokemon in the parking lot.download

Imagine if we were this vigilant in helping people find jobs.  When was the last time you forwarded a job posting?  When you see roles open up at your company, do you pause for a moment to think about anyone you know who might be interested?

You should.  You would want your friends to think of you, right?

Most of us stumble across interesting corporate information all the time.  We are usually going too fast or too inwardly focused to think about others.

Let’s take a lesson from the kids.  You don’t have to go to their extremes.  I am not suggesting you end up on private property or jump in the lake in search of a great job lead for your brother-in-law, but you could certainly be more open and more thoughtful.  We could all do that.

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