Thoughts On Networking And Connections

By Kay Stout

Electronic collaboration is the perfect solution when you need information and/or help from a friend or colleague.  You don’t have to be in the same room, city, or country, you just need to be connected electronically.  I was reminded of this when Employment-Essentials asked for my contribution. Enjoy – and stay connected electronically.

It’s true that everything that was old, soon becomes new again.  In today’s job search the buzz word is “networking”.  While many see it as a rather new element of the job search, like the Beatles once sang, With a Little Help from my Friends, in today’s world it is about making a connection with someone.  The fun today is you can make a connection electronically, in the comfort of your home in your favorite at-home attire.  Remember, if you are connected by Skype and a camera, you might even be seen ‘round the world in a less-than flattering way.  Also, everything you say electronically may be transmitted by someone in such a way that it goes around the world.  So think twice, type once, and hesitate  awhile, before you hit the send button.

Also realize that, just as one Can’t Buy Me Love, you can’t Buy Me A Job.  But you can make connections that will prove invaluable with today’s job search.  And, if you stay in touch, they can prove even more valuable five to ten years from now.

There was an interesting article last fall in Forbes, profiling Sheryl Sandberg and her makeover of Facebook.  Everyone wants to be connected, to network, and to reach out to family and friends but, as the article highlighted, the challenge is, how does that help from my friends translate to money for the people behind the scenes who’ve written the connections that make Facebook so much fun?

Before they become profitable, Facebook’s theme song could be A Hard Day’s Night as they grapple with the balance between connectivity and profitability.  For us, it will be how much connectivity do we want and with whom???  We want help from our friends – – but not all our friends. It is going to be an interesting journey for everyone.

Kay Stout owns and operates P S Consulting, an Oklahoma City-based human resources firm offering career counseling, executive placement, and military transition services. The company specializes in consulting advice that will provide the catalyst to help their clients achieve their desired position.

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How To Make The Best Of A Bad Boss

At one time or another, we’ve all likely had a bad boss.  And while that connotation can include bosses who intimidate employees and play favorites, those who aren’t qualified to lead, and even those who inflict emotional and physical abuse, there are several steps you can take to insure your bad boss doesn’t jeopardize your good career.

First, analyze how your bad boss acts with everyone in the workplace.  You may find that your boss is bad to everybody, not just you and, if so, don’t take it personally.  Keeping your head down and making sure your boss’s actions and attitude don’t affect your performance is a key technique that plenty of people, from athletes to architects, use to survive on the job.

From there, analyze how your bad boss manages.  If he or she is a micro-manager, learn to get ahead and provide information and updates well before it would be required or requested.  It may take a lot of work initially, but it can save your sanity and improve your productivity.  If your bad boss barely manages, do everything you can to make sure your contribution stands out from your supervisor’s shadow.

Next, analyze the effectiveness of your bad boss.  If he or she isn’t achieving what they were hired to do, make sure you keep records at home of your contributions and the challenges you’ve conquered.  And, if you haven’t done so already, start your search for a new job pronto!

Finally, analyze his or her ethics.  If your boss takes credit for your ideas or accomplishments, maintain your own records at home for use when you create your new résumé.  If your bad boss is breaking or bending laws or even violating company policy, and your previous analyses listed above have provided negatives at every turn, then it’s definitely time to update your résumé, brush up your interview skills and jump ship.  If it gets to that point, you may be leaving a sinking ship to the rats, but in the long run, your career will still be afloat!

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How To Find Hidden Jobs

Even in a down economy, there are still good jobs available. However, since those positions are often unadvertised, it’s important you know how to tap into the hidden job market.

Now more than ever, it’s important to develop professional and personal networks because, in this day and age, who you know is as important as what you know. Building strong networks professionally and personally can give you an edge over the competition in a job search.

Start building your network via friends and acquaintances and then current or former co-workers. From there, connect with suppliers, clients, and even competitors. There’s strength in numbers, but it only takes one of your connections to think about you first for the job you’d be perfect for!

Even if you currently have a job you love, it’s good advice to keep feelers out anyway. Job requirements or personnel can change, so you never know when you may decide to seek a new job. That’s why keeping in touch with friends and colleagues can put you at the top of their mind if and when they hear of a position opening. And that’s the inside info that can get you in the door for a new job first.

Finally, even if you don’t land the first hidden job you encounter, it can still work to your advantage. The person or persons you interview with, even if you don’t get hired for the position, are contacts that can expand your professional network even further in the future. And that can give you access to even more hidden jobs.

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The One Question To Ask Yourself Before Every Interview

By Kari Mirabal

For many people, searching for a new job means asking, “What’s in it for me?”  However, with unemployment at its highest rate nationally in the last 20 years, job seekers might find more success if they instead ask, “What’s in it for them?”

Applying the “what’s in it for them” strategy requires you to successfully demonstrate your transferrable skills to a potential employer.  That means acing the interview and being able to show what you can do for a company and why they should hire you, in a quick and concise fashion.  Remember that the primary interest of an interviewer isn’t to hear your life story, but rather to determine if you, as an employee, can help their company reach their objectives. And the easiest way to do that is to turn your skills into selling points in your career campaign.

To do that, make sure you know what your transferrable skills are and be ready to present them in an interview.  Start by writing down your top ten skills and then ranking them in order of priority.  Then, consider examples of work experience you can use to illustrate how your skills translated into saving money or making money for your company.  Finally, practice presenting your examples verbally in 60 seconds or less.  Prepare and present your answers confidently and with the company in mind at all times.  Remember that general interview statements like, “I’m organized” mean nothing unless you can explain how your organizational skills will help their company get ahead.

It’s up to you to present what you can offer a potential employer.  So brush up on your interview tactics, learn to present your transferrable skills quickly and concisely, and put the best light on what you can offer a new company.  And remember that how you answer that one important question, “What’s in it for them?” can mean a great new job for you!

Kari Mirabal is a Career Advisor, IT Recruiter and Speaker specializing in helping individuals clarify their career goals and develop action plans to attain them through career transitions.

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Does Your Professional Profile Have A Social Network Hangover?

Anyone in the job market should network and maintain a professional profile. However, for those who maintain a professional presence and a social network on the Internet, remember that what you share with the world socially today can adversely affect your professional life tomorrow. Even if you have a job that you love right now, what about two years from now? What will a potential employer find when they Google your name? If it’s something like this…

…odds are, you’re not going to be hired for that high-salary, management position you’ve been looking for.

So remember, when preparing your professional profile, make sure your personal profile reflects equally as well on you. And, though you may not be thinking about a new job right now, don’t forget that potentially every personal photo, video, or bit of information you post or share via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, blog, or email immediately becomes part of the Internet public domain, and subject to forwarding, linking, and posting elsewhere. And that means the party you enjoyed too much last weekend might still be hanging over you several years down the road.

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How To Avoid Getting Jobbed In Your Employment Search

The recession has left many people looking for new or better jobs. However, it has also given rise to many scams designed to take advantage of those job-seekers.

Because of their enthusiasm for finding a new job, it’s often easy for a job-seeker to overlook the warning signs of a job-search scam. The jobs offering unrealistic pay for two days work are easy to spot but, in the age of the Internet, con-artists have gotten a lot more advanced and job-seekers need to keep their guard up at all times.

Remember to take note of return email address domains, such as Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail and remember that most legitimate employers and placement firms will use an email address from their company’s domain. Job-seekers should also be on the lookout for any firm or recruiter asking for personal information, social security numbers or financial information up-front.

You should also practice caution when choosing a job placement firm. While it’s not uncommon for job-search firms to charge a fee, make sure you meet with them in person and have a full understanding of what you’re paying for before you spend your hard earned money. Never provide money or sensitive information without a face-to-face meeting.

In addition, just as reputable employers will do their research on you beforehand, you should do your own background check on any potential job opportunity. The Internet makes it easy to research businesses, email addresses, and phone numbers and, if a Google search turns up the same, once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity associated with a given company, email, or phone number in several cities over several months then, odds are, that’s a scam.

Finally, don’t forget to practice common sense. Remember that, no matter how much you might want a new job, if an offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true.

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Is Your Job Search Rooted In A Solid Decision Tree?

Recently, I read an excerpt from a book entitled The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine by Thomas Goetz.  In it, the author detailed the importance of taking control of your own health rather than leaving it in the hands of doctors and insurance companies through the use of a decision tree.  Like a flowchart or algorithm, a decision tree is basically a diagram of a series of decisions, each with risks, benefits, and trade-offs.  And just as a decision tree can be applied in our personal health, the financial industry, engineering, pharmaceuticals, and more, it can also be applied to making wiser choices in the job search process.

Many people job hunt for the wrong reasons and, in the end, they often go back in the job market as soon as they land what they thought was their dream job.  While in today’s society, the stigma of job-hopping has receded, many job hunters are often better off making an informed, rational decision about looking for a new job.  And that’s where using a decision tree can help you decide whether you’re looking for a new job or your dream job.

To grow your own job search decision tree, first consider all the input of why you want a new job and what you’re looking for in a new position.  Consider questions such as, do you like your job but want a promotion or more money?  Or, are you miserable, hate your boss, and want a fresh start?  Or maybe you want a new career, more challenges or want to move to a new city.  Remember to factor in all the input and you’ll get a pretty good idea of whether you want begin the job hunt process.

If the scales tilt in favor of looking for a new job, then you still need to make a decision to act, look for a new job, change career path, or accept a position you’ve been offered.  Many people will wake up every morning and say they want a new job, but never act on it.  Have you reached your tipping point?

Now, if you’re ready to look for a new job, you still have to consider the process involved.  Do you want a new job enough that you’re going to spend the time and money looking, send out resumes, network, go on interviews, or even travel to another city?  Are you willing to conduct your job search without your current employer knowing?  If you want a new career, are you ready to consult a career counselor?

Every point and question you ask in your decision tree will ultimately give you a “yes” or “no” answer which, in turn, will create a new branch of your tree.  If you have more “no” answers then, odds are, your decision tree might grow for awhile.  Only when all the branches point to “yes” and all the actions of the decision-making process lead to you to landing a new job will your decision tree bloom and bear fruit.

Everyone has their own reasons for looking for a new job.  However, whatever those reasons are, in today’s job market, leaving your existing job for a new one is a big decision.  And while it may be overly analytical, before you start climbing the company ladder, you might want to take the time to climb all the branches of your own job search decision tree!

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