Category Archives: Networking

Get off the Couch and Start Exploring

I had an interesting situation this week.  One of my candidates, who had been on a long and successful interview journey, ended up with several offers in his inbox.

He was really stressed.  He said he could not understand how this happened.  He was not even looking.  He really likes his job and his team. 

How did this happen?

First of all, he is an interesting and curious person.  When I told him about my client and what they needed to do, he thought it made sense to explore the opportunity.  He felt that it would allow him to build up his skills in a new area.

The first two interviews went really well.  He and a couple of senior managers had wide ranging conversations and he felt really good about it.

Guess what?  After that second interview, he was walking around with just a bit more confidence.  He had third party validation that he was doing some really good work in a really good way. 

It’s not as noticeable as a haircut or new glasses but that kind of confidence shows.

Seemingly out of the blue, he got a couple of networking requests and coffee invitations.  Those led to more casual conversations. Casual, because he had moved beyond the “interview panic prep” and into “this is just a business meeting”.

On top of that, his boss started to let him know about a some longer term projects that he be leading. 

To be clear:  he was not a disgruntled employee complaining about things at work.  No one was trying to placate him or keep him in order to get though the busy cycle.

I suggested that he look at multiple offers as a positive thing not a stressful thing.  It’s a successful measure of how he is navigating his path through the industry.

After weighing the teams, the work, the manager and the future possibilities, he chose.  I think he is going to be very happy. 

So, get off the merry-go-round of your job and take a look around.  Because looking when you are not looking may the best time to look.

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Filed under career change, Interview, Job Search, Networking

Job Change Prescription

If you are thinking about making a job change, consider the old adage:  fish where the fish are.

What is it that you want to do next and where are the people who are doing it now?  Better yet, who is doing it now and has a big problem?  The kind of problem that you know exactly how to fix.

Imagine you have decided that you want to move from the inside customer service team to an outside sales role.  You have been feeling hemmed in lately.  You really want to get out in field and get face to face with customers.

How about this?  Look for a company that has a product that’s the same or similar to yours and then drill down to find trouble.

Trouble could be in the form of a growth spike, a quality issue or wider market acceptance.  These challenges are pain points for company leaders.  Leaders want to relieve pain.  Figure out how to market yourself as the prescription.

An email message might say:

I have been listening to customers like yours for years.  I know what they need and how to package your product so that it provides a solution that fits.  Couldn’t you use someone like me in the field?

Just attach your resume and hit send.

There is certainly no guarantee that one email will start a conversation but it’s a good start.

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LinkedIn has a new look – this is not about that

Over the last few weeks, LinkedIn has rolled out their new “look”. I have read lots of good and bad things about but I am still experimenting with it so this is not about that. 

There is a feature that is often ignored but is quite brilliant for keeping in touch when you really don’t have anything to particular to share or ask.

When you go to the Notifications tab and scroll through the boxes, you will see the notes that let you say happy birthday or congratulations on a new job. I used to dismiss this as kitschy and not really of value.

Today, I was the recipient of a zillion birthday wishes and I can tell you it is not kitchy. I smiled with each and every incoming ping.

True, I don’t know everyone who took the time to message me but most of their names did ring a bell. As a sidebar, I also got two lunch dates out of it!

If you really do know the person, take a moment to personalize it, even if just a little. It will make it that much more meaningful.

This may not lead you to your next dream job but it will remind people of how thoughtful you are and that’s becoming a high value trait in many organizations. 

Best wishes for a great day whether it’s your birthday or not!

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Filed under Interview, Networking, social media

To Refer or Not to Refer

One of the first lessons you learn as a recruiter is to ask for referrals.  If you are talking with someone and they are not interested or qualified, you should ask if there is anyone they would recommend for the role.

I always thought this made sense.  People like to be asked for their opinion and generally, people like to be helpful.  I figured it would feel pretty good to help someone discover a new job that they really like.arrow

But then I listened to a podcast where a software engineer said he felt used when he is asked for referrals.  His feeling was the the recruiter was not going to earn a fee from him/his experience and yet he was being asked to provide information that would lead to the recruiter earning a fee from someone else.  And in the end, he would get nothing.

I was struck by such strong cynicism.  It rolled round in my head for a week and I actually stopped asking people for suggestions.

Now that the dust has settled, here are my observations. He worked as a leader in an industry that is desperately short of talent.  He did not say this but I bet he gets called by recruiters every other day.  I am sure his patience runs thin with our industry.  He is also working in an American company and while I don’t have empirical proof, I bet the attitudes here about helping out are different.  Who in Canada would not buy someone a Tim Horton’s double double if they needed it?

What do you think?  Is it rude and presumptuous to ask someone for referrals if a job is not right for them?

 

 

 

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Filed under career change, Job Search, Networking, recruiter

Out of Office Notification

No career/job/networking blather today – I am too busy writing thank you notes.glass2

I hope you have fun and at least slightly indulgent plans for New Year’s Eve.

When you are making all those resolutions, don’t forget your career!

All the best for 2o17 – may it be one of growth and success for us all!

Laura

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Filed under career change, Networking

Give the Gift of Connections

There is a small but really important article in the Globe and Mail this morning.  It talks about how difficult it is for kids to get their start in the job market.

A federal government panel has released its interim report and it is focused on employers’ reliance on the digital application process.  We know as adults how frustrating it can be to spend 30 minutes filling in an online application that feels less and less relevant as we click through each window.

We get around this by networking.  We talk to friends and former colleagues and the guys we sit next to at hockey practice.

buttonKids, even really social kids, often don’t have the right kind of connections to get them started.  This is especially true if they want to do work that is different from what their parents have done.

We thought that internships would solve this problem.  Kids would get an introduction into the work environment and then either get hired or get recognized by others in the field.  This is only true in some cases.  Free labour, energy and enthusiasm does not always turn into paid work.  At 20, this can be pretty disheartening.

Kids need our social connections to workplaces and industries.  It’s a tough road for them and we need to help.  I am not talking about just our own kids.  I am talking about the kid next door, the nieces and nephews, the kid who walks your dog when you are away.

You will likely see a lot of young people over the next week.  Stop for a moment to chat with them.  Ask about their studies and their plans.  It will seem like they are rolling their eyes.  Ignore this.  It’s just habit.  Think for a moment about whether you know someone or something that might be helpful and offer it up.

At the very least, ask if they are on LinkedIn and offer to connect.

Getting young people into good work situations should be on all of our minds.  Let’s do as much as we can.

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Filed under Job Search, linkedin, Networking, Resume

Yay! A holiday party!

I don’t know about you but the next two weeks on my calendar are sprinkled with pot lucks, lunches and cocktails. This is generally where I roll my eyes and find other things to do.

But this year is going to be different. I am looking at each get together as an opportunity to learn new things.

I am going to try not to gossip about people in other departments or complain about the weather, Instead, I am going to positive and maybe even interesting.

For example, when someone asks me how things are going, my response is not going to be “busy”. Of course I am busy. Everyone is busy. We would not have jobs if we were not busy.

Instead I am going to talk about one of the search projects I am working on. This opens the door for much more interesting conversation than “I am so busy”.

I am also going to avoid asking about people’s plans for the holidays. There are lots of people who are not going skiing in the Swiss Alps or dining with celebrities. While it can be fun to hear about those adventures, it can be depressing too.

I am going to ask about Netflix instead.  I plan on some heavy binge watching over the holidays and I need some recommendations.

If I can stick to this plan, I should be able to come away from this holiday season with lots of new ideas and information which will be an excellent foundation for my big plans in 2017.

Cheers!

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Filed under Job Search, Networking

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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Filed under Job Search, Networking, Resume, social media

Want to move your career ahead? Stop eating at your desk

It is easy to get in to the habit of eating at your desk.  It seems like you are squishing in some extra work and looking super productive.  In fact, you look anti social and usually end up with heartburn.

Lunch was invented for a reason.  We need to stop and refuel.  It is a chance to change our surroundings and interact with different people.  It does not mean you have to spread out the white tablecloth and silverware.  Even if you just grab a quick salad or sandwich and sit with a few people, you will head back to your desk feeling refreshed.

The eating area is a common gathering place so you can learn a lot.  Not just gossip either.  You can hear what other groups are working on, get in on the good jokes and get exposed to a lot of different kinds of food.  You never know when you might have to opportunity to share your knowledge of where to get great Korean barbecue with the CFO. 

Three other things to consider when deciding what to do about lunch:

Walking through a cube farm with your lunch smells wafting by is not always going to make you popular.  

Crumbs in your keyboard is definitely frowned on by IT.  

If you are not into eating (diet, Ramadan, cleansing), a walk outside is a great alternative.  Especially if you do it with someone else.  This can be extremely refreshing.  We refer to this as “walk n’ rant”.

So take the time and change your space.  It will be worth it.

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Filed under Networking

Spring Cleaning for your Network

This weekend marks the practical beginning of spring. I know it was a couple of weeks ago on the calendar but I can still see my breath in the mornings so it’s not here yet.

Spring is when we think about cleaning, decluttering and generally freshening things up.  This should not include just your living room, fridge or stinky, salt stained car but also your network.

Yes, I said network.

I am not saying you should unfriend people in droves however, once in a while, you need to take a look at your network to see if it reflects your needs. Your network is a bit like insurance.  You really only learn about the consequences of choosing the cheap plan when you get into an accident and realize what is not covered.  

You don’t want to figure out that your network is made up of mostly peers from the same company or industry when there is a downturn in that business.  You will all be moping at the same time.  Not helpful.

Here is what really drove this home for me:  Justin Bieber.  Seriously.  We watched his roast on Comedy Central this week.  It was hilarious (on many levels) but what struck me was the diversity of the people willing to go on tv to roast the kid.

You might expect comics like Kevin Hart and musicians like Ludacris.  They are his natural, industry network.  They probably go to the same parties and award shows and have  a lot in common.

Guess who else was on the stage?  Shaquille O’Neil, Snoop Dog and, wait for it, Martha Stewart.

No matter that they were only there to make fun of him.  That’s not the point.  The point is that they were willing to expose themselves by telling jokes about him to a live audience.  

That is a powerful network.  With that kind of diversity, Justin should be able to steer clear of all kinds of career obstacles.  He should be able to use them to evaluate opportunities and get doors opened for new ideas.

So, who would do your roast?  Can you pull together people from difference industries and backgrounds?  Do they know enough about you to tell some stories?  

Forget cleaning the fridge.  Spruce up your network instead.

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Filed under career change, Interview, Networking