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Time for a LinkedIn Makeover

If you are like most people, you have not taken a look at your LinkedIn profile for a while.  There is a reason for this:  we are too busy looking at other people’s profiles.

Think of it as a summer project.  Set aside 20 minutes each week to hit the edit button and take stock of what the world is seeing.

Let’s start from the top:

Does your picture still resemble you?  If it features your grade eight up-do or it’s a badly lit selfie, it’s time for a fresh one.  linkedin cracked button

Do you have a new title or responsibilities?  Let people know – you will be amazed at the messages that roll in after you do a job or title change.

Any new courses or certificates?  Those really add credibility to your experience.  If you put the time and effort in to learning something new, it should be reflected in your profile.

Are you doing any new volunteer activities?  They can be work-based or community-based.  It all counts.

Remember you are doing this so people can find you and learn more about you.  And not just recruiters like me (although it’s good for us to find you) but also peers, neighbours, and anyone else who might benefit from what you know.

In large companies, people don’t use the company directory to find out about their fellow employees, they go to LinkedIn to get the whole story, not just what’s in the directory.

So keep it fresh and real.  You never know who will land in your inbox!

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Six Degrees of Separation? I think not.

I used to believe in the idea of six degrees of separation but now I think it’s more like three. I keep tripping over people who are connected to people I know.

I guess in my field it’s more common to find connections. Let’s face it.  I phone strangers for a living. I rarely work with the same people twice and if I do my job well, more people get pulled into the spinning wheel of connections.

There are some pretty big lessons here.

You really should try to be nice to everyone because you never want to find out that you just bad mouthed your neighbour to his best friend.

It would also be bad if you were very critical about a former boss only to find out that she just got hired where you just interviewed.

And here’s a good one:  sarcasm does not work on a screen. You can use it in a phone call, video,  podcast or anything else where the recipient can see your face. If they can’t see your eyes, they won’t get the joke. Trust me. This one can be messy.

So remember, that as we get older, the world gets smaller.  You never know when you will find yourself talking to a future boss/reference/in-law.  Be nice to everyone.  If you can’t be nice, then at least be respectful and polite.  It will pay off in the end and if it hasn’t paid off, then it’s not the end.

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Stop Apologizing for Your Salary

This week’s recurring theme was the “salary apology”. Time after time, I asked candidates about their salary objective and their responses went like this : “Um…well…I am paid pretty well and I just want you to know that I am pretty flexible. Money is not that important to me.”

Ack!!!

That is not the way to answer that question – especially when a recruiter asks. You know what we come away with? You are flexible and will take any old, low-ball salary.

You are paid what you are paid. You have done the work and now you earn that much money. The only reason to deviate from this is if you are looking to move to part time work or get into another occupation. That’s really the only time to drop your expectations.

You can certainly offer to be flexible but don’t lead with that. If you really love the sound of the role or if the commute is going to save you a ton of time or money or the company is offering a bunch of non-salary perks (like a car or a house) you can offer a salary range that gives some potential wiggle room.

If there is a big difference in what you are making and what the job is offering, chances are there are other things that will be misaligned as well. The company may be much larger or much smaller or the role might be much broader or much more narrow.

Then there is the perception a weak answer give to the hiring manager. If they hear you say you would take less money for their role and that is something they would never do, they will wonder what is wrong with a) you or b) your present situation.

Maybe the most important reason to be clear on your salary objectives is this: it is absolutely heart breaking to get through the interview process, learn that you are one that has been selected for the role and then get presented with an offer that is 20% lower that what you make now.

So be clear and honest about your compensation objectives. It’s for your own good.

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They Yawned in my Interview

Picture this: you are in an interview with two hiring managers.  One of them is looking at you, making notes and nodding often.   The other is looking at you and has asked a couple of question. Then it happens.  That second person yawns.

You are a bit taken aback but you keep rolling along.  You spend a bit more time looking at the interviewer who seems more engaged.  Then it happens again.  The yawn.  By the third yawn, you are questioning why you are even there.

On the way home, you are battling in your mind.  Was it a big deal or a small deal?  Tiny red flag or monumental deal killer?

Probably the latter.

According to Carol Blades, Master Facilitator at LHH Knightsbridge, this is a form of micro-aggression and it is definitely  a sign that things will not work out.

Even if one half of the hiring team loves you, the other half is just not into you.

You can surmise the same thing if that person cannot seem to remember your name or turns a shoulder to you instead of facing you.

Even if all the stars align and they make you an offer, you will have a long and uphill battle to win the yawner over.

The bottom line is that you need to take interviewing seriously.  You need to do your research on what the company is looking for and what YOU are looking for.  Be able to articulate with confidence on both.

In your post-interview assessment, pay attention to the little red flags and the big ones.  Decide carefully on if and how you want to proceed with the process.

Don’t ignore your gut on this – it’s too important.

 

 

 

 

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Get Loud for Mental Health

It is Mental Health Week and the Canadian Mental Health Association is running a week long awareness campaign. We are being encouraged to #get loud – a trendy way of telling us to stop being embarrassed or callous and get on with learning about the issues.

Mental illness is difficult to understand.  If you have never suffered from depression, it is hard to understand that someone cannot just “snap out of it” or “get over it”.

It is so easy to joke about a colleague’s behaviour instead of taking the time to try to understand what they might be going through.

There are many resources available to help us with this.

http://www.mentalhealthworks.ca/employees/what-i-wish-i-knew

http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/Pages/home.aspx

https://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com/

These sites offer free resources to employees, friends, colleagues, managers and HR Departments.  There is a lot of good stuff here to help you get familiar with different types of depression, anxiety and other forms of mental illness.

I am not saying you need to become a psychologist for your cube-mate. There are Employee Assistance programs for that. But you can be more empathetic and understanding towards people who are having difficulty. You would hold the door for the guy with the crutches, right?

You know what would be a good start?  If we took negative mental health references out of our everyday conversations. “That guy is crazy!”  “My client just went nuts.”  I think that would go a long way towards helping our friends and colleagues feel like there is more support and that they are not as alone.

So, read up and be nice. We are counting on you.

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How to Ace the Phone Interview

Picture this: your phone pings with a personal email.  You take a look.  It’s a recruiter asking to talk with you about a job.  You send a note back with a time and then sit back to try to figure out what you are going to say.

Before the Call

Read about the opportunity

Think about what would find appealing in a new role or a new manager or a new company.

Think about where you want to be for the call.  An enclave in your office will do but if you can be offsite, it would be better.  Your car is okay or a coffee shop as long as it’s not too loud.

Be ready to talk about your responsibilities and career path.

Make sure your phone is charged.

Have a list of questions ready to ask.

Take a few deep breaths and wait for the phone to ring.

During the Call

Wait for the full questions to be asked.  Resist the temptation to jump on the answer before you know  the question.

Speak as clearly as possible.  Slow down a little.

Keep your answers concise.

Make sure to ask about the next steps in the process so you can be prepared.

After the Call

Send a note acknowledging the conversation.

Write some notes about what you learned.

Think about what you want to do about the opportunity.

If you are not going to pursue it, maybe there is someone you know.  Passing on this sort of information to a friend or former colleague is always very appreciated.

You can turn a luke warm conversation into big pile of good karma.

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Make the Most of an Information Interview

Information interviews are pretty popular these days. They can be a great way to learn about different roles and different organizations.

These conversations, usually more casual than an actual interview, also provide a great platform for you to leave a lasting and positive impression.

But only if you are prepared.

So don’t blow it.

When someone grants you some of their valuable time, be respectful and use the time wisely.

Do some thinking and research before you go.

What specifically do you want to know?  What knowledge do you want to take away from the meeting?

  • What was the most valuable part of their education?
  • How do they deal with the challenges of their job?  You can show off your knowledge here by citing a particular challenge.
  • Is this where they imagined they would be at this point in their career?
  • What is the best piece of advice they ever got?

Notice that there are two questions that are not on the list. How do I get hired here and will you be my mentor are out of bounds for this type of conversation.  They should only come up if it is initiated by the person you are meeting.  The point of the meeting is to get information, not ask for a job. Respect that.

They are just some ideas to get you started. Powerful and interesting questions will allow you to make the most of your time together.

And if you are going to shower, shave and put on a suit, you want to be the best investment possible.

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