Category Archives: Networking

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?





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!


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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.


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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

Holiday Shopping and Career Advancement

Don’t even think of writing off the month of December for advancing your career.  You know all that time you spend sneaking in some on line shopping?  Or how about the quick trip to the mall at lunchtime?

You can use some of that holiday flex time to update your resume too.  There is always some time to kill before the group lunch or while you wait for your kids Christmas concert to start.

Break the activities into little chunks. For example, adding the latest courses, certificates or training courses can be done in 20 minutes or so.  Adding a few bullets to describe your latest project is also a 10-15 minute job.

Setting up job alerts on, or also takes only a few minutes.

Calling former colleagues to see if they want to have lunch – ten minutes each.

Taking time to eat your sandwich in the kitchen or cafeteria does not take any extra time and has the added benefit of built in networking.  You never know – you might find yourself having lunch with the President.

Make sure you have some positive things to say about your work.  When someone from another department asks how things are going, they do not want you to roll your eyes and sigh.  They want to hear to that you are involved in some really cool projects and learning a lot.  That’s how to make a solid impression.

So don’t write off December before it has even started.  Put some of these ideas in your calendar and tackle them one by one.  It will make those New Year’s resolutions a lot easier!

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Filed under career change, Job Search, Networking, Resume

Take a minute. Take my call.

This week I have spent most of my time talking with candidates who are not looking for new jobs. They have jobs and they like them.

But something compelled them to make some time to hear about the role I am helping my client to fill.

Maybe they found the message compelling. Maybe they were having a bad day. Maybe they were just plain curious. It doesn’t matter why. What matters is that they took a few minutes to explore an opportunity.

It’s all well and good to be happy with your job but how do you know its the best place for you? You only know that by comparing it to other roles in other places.

When recruiters call, its a great chance for you to kick the tires on something new with no obligation. You can assess the role, gauge the compensation package and get a better understanding of the market for your skills.

What if you have a rare, in demand skill set and it feels like you get calls all the time? Then be judicious about which recruiters you engage with but be conscious of the fact that sometimes companies go straight to recruiters. Some roles never get posted on corporate job sites.

I worked with a highly recognizable name brand company in the food and beverage sector and they used our firm for all their marketing positions. They found that when they posted these jobs on their own, they were inundated with hundreds and hundreds of applicants. Sifting through them was just too much.

Recruiters add value in two ways. By posting roles on behalf of clients and by digging into the market to find candidates who might be interested and qualified.

When we reach out to you, it is because we think you have good skills and experience. Only a conversation reveals the rest of the story. So talk to us. You have nothing to lose and solid market intel to gain.

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Filed under career change, Interview, Job Search, Networking, recruiter

Hiring Doesn’t Stop – Neither Should You

I talked to a lot of candidates this week who said that they had put their search on the back burner because they figured no one was going to make hiring decisions until the fall.


I see lots of action happening this summer. I think it would be a mistake to write off the next four weeks.

It used to be that people, especially senior leaders, took two weeks off every summer and really checked out. They went on a big family trip or they spent time at the cottage. No calling in, no messages, nothing. All you needed were two stakeholders doing this back to back and the whole hiring process got derailed. I don’t think that is as common now. My clients are going for a week at a time and then its usually over one of the long weekends.

The other current trend that helps the hiring process is stay-cations. This is where someone is out of the office for a week but they still check in once or twice each day. I did this myself and really enjoyed it. It was kind of like having nine Saturdays in a row. Productive and relaxing for sure.

This allows projects, like hiring people, to keep rolling and promotes smooth handovers between stakeholders.

So don’t turn off the networking machine. Don’t stop applying and sending inquiries. More people are paying attention than you think.

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Filed under career change, Interview, Job Search, Networking