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Lets tackle Recruiters and HR in a recession. January 4, 2010

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I am not here to condemn Caesar I am here to bury Caesar!

I am neither a recruiter nor an HR person to make this perfectly clear.

I have been in the position to hire people while an engineer and a manager.

Facts:

Recruiters work for the company

There are good recruiters and there are bad recruiters

Recruiters have their own reputation to protect(if they are good)

Recruiters are working on numerous opening at once AKA they are busy (I do not use this as an excuse for what I have to say later)

Good recruiters do not cover every market or position out there they have their niche market

HR personnel come in all kinds of functions, generalist,  payroll etc

HR has the tasks of screening resumes for the hiring manager base don company criteria and hiring manager needs

HR departments have been downsized because they are seen as pure overhead and if you are cutting employee counts to bare minimum why do you need a full HR staff

Scanning software is used and HR does not even see most of the resumes filed they see what passes the criteria and weighting factors. So yes your resume has gone into a black hole or as I like to call it the Great Bit Bucket.

All that said lets get down to the nitty gritty here!

Recruiters:

Dealing with a recruiter is a business venture! Like most business ventures they do not work for you either but you must enter into a business relationship in order to get the job done. Is this not true?

Do you not also have to do research to see if the vendor/supplier has the right credentials and criteria to help your business grow? Would this not be the same for the recruiter?  If your business is in the high end audio market would you look to a vendor who made seat covers for automobiles to be your partner? Of course not! The same is true of recruiters. Good recruiters ( notice I keep saying good when I want to emphasize) have a niche market they deal with. I know a great recruiter in the financial field we are friends but I would not ask him to find me a job because he would be ineffective in my search. Therefore I need to find technical recruiters who also deals with mid to high level management positions.  I can tell you there are not many good ones out there.

If you know of any please let me know.

Sorry I digressed.

So what am I getting at telling you this? A good recruiter will ask for a face to face meeting. If they do not then you may want to think about asking many more questions or walking away. A good recruiter will want to learn about your personality, your character, your experiences and your skills.  After all if he can find a fit for you that meets his clients needs he will need this information to represent  you.  A good recruiter will call you and discuss the position before submitting you. If you  do t want to work for Company X then why waste their time with submitting you. If you are interested in Company Y let the recruiter know. Company Y may be one of their clients and they can get you in the door faster and probably better represent you than you can.

A good recruiter can be a powerful ally even though they do not work for you. If you are the best fit they will get you in there. Once your are in do not ruin the recruiters reputation you may need them again in the future. This may not be a one shot deal so you want to maintain a good relationship with them.

Recruiters are bust trying to fill a number of positions at the same time. Here is where I condemn recruiters (sorry but I have to) yes it is true that you do not work for us. But professional courtesy and a little compassion helps your image and character and makes us seekers more willing to provide you with other well qualified candidates to help you out.

A quick phone call or email reply does not take that long but the rewards, while intangible, will be paramount in the end. After all it is your reputation that you are harming. The same is true for HR personnel.

Human Resource:

If that does not give a negative  image to them I do not know what would. Human meaning us resource meaning use and dispose of. Isn’t the term human resource an oxymoron?  It gives us the idea that there is no compassion for us the workers, after all we are just another resource like parts, and the energy to run the machines. It gives the appearance that these are cold blooded creature incapable of feelings. I know this isn’t true they have a hard job. However, it does not excuse them from a little common courtesy either. The represent their company’s reputation. IF I am trying to deal with HR and I do not get a simple answer or quick return on my status check then I start to wonder what kind of company is this and do I really want to work for a company that cold to its employees. I have stopped trying to get into some companies just because of their HR department. It is the company’s loss as I may have been the best viable candidate for the position.

NOW for us the job seekers!

Shame on us as well!

If we are truly as professional as we claim to be and we are as business savvy as we have stated on our resume.Then in a recession we know that companies reduce HR to bare bones, we know that companies cut recruiters to save money. We look for these people to have courtesy and compassion for us because we need a job. Well we need to have understanding, courtesy and compassion for them as well.

I just stated the facts for both groups. So  now there is no excuse for either side to continue this war. The understanding has been brought to light and neither side is a winner unless both sides change.  We are all professionals and we all need to remember that and conduct ourselves in that manner.

Now job seekers and recruiters:

If you have read and comprehended what I said earlier here is what your responsibility is in this; You need to approach a recruiter as a business partner not a smuck. You need to interview the recruiter as much as the recruiter needs to interview you. You need to find out how long they have been a recruiter, what their success rate is in placing people, how they work, who some of their clients are, if they have references they can give you.  You need to build a relationship and trust with a recruiter. You do not and I repeat do not just hand over your resume to a recruiter and then wait for results. Your resume is a marketing material that represents you and your reputation. Would you hand it over to snake oil salesman to represent you for a major position in a company? I would highly think not! Then why do job seekers constantly do this??  Is from ignorance of the industry? Yes recruiting is an industry!

Find the good recruiters in your industry or niche and only use them.

The last word is this; both the recruiter and the seeker have reputations they need to protect at all cost. Therefore an understanding of this is paramount in the business dealing between the two. Both sides must maintain due diligence in the protection of their reputation. This will make for a stronger relationship in the end.

HR and the job seeker;

Knowing that HR has been cut to the bare bones (sometimes there is only 1 left), we need to understand a few things.

HR does not have all day to talk to us.  We need to formulate pertinent questions that require easy short answers. We need to say please and thank you and your welcome ( that goes for the other side as well). We need not ask questions that we already know the answer to.  This will help both sides.

A simple statement like “I am very interested in your company but I have some other prospect that are coming to light would you please provide a status update for me?

Be prepared for a short conversation like;

well how far have the other offers progressed?

why is my company that interesting to you? or what can you  do for my company?

You as a seeker being well prepared puts you in a better light and shows how professional you are. It shows that you understand how busy they are and are not looking to waste anyones times yours or theirs.

So my dream for 2010 is that these groups can come together in harmony, collaboration, understanding and respect for one another.


Okay lets tackle the age issue! December 11, 2009

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There was a discussion started in a LinkedIn group about why companies prefer to hire younger vs older candidates. Last I saw there were over 125 comments and growing by about 20 -30 daily.

This job market has effected both seasoned workers as well as graduates. The discussion is getting to the volatile point of us vs them. It is not about the seekers. Yes we are in competition with each other and I hope it stays a healthy competition. However, there are a number of perpetuated myths going around out there that need to be put to rest.

We are human, we are trained from birth to categorize things, to put things in like groups, to make false assumptions.

The guilt of a few are placed on the masses. Or in terms that older people can understand one bad apple spoils the bushel. This is ingrained in our thinking and is perpetuated by corporate America in the job market.

It would be so much better if we were looked at from the standpoint of our values, experience, knowledge and capabilities not by cost alone and misconceived notions.

There are  reasons on many levels and I will try to address as many as I can.

Age Descrimination:

Yes there is and it is running rampant especially in the 40 – 60 age range. There is also age discrimination in the 20s range. College graduates are having just as hard a time at finding jobs as the older seasoned workers are.  The graduates who just started in the industry and got laid off are having a hard time because they were not in their field long enough to get the experience that other companies require. Also the younger workers are looking to jump industries and are finding that with out the exact experience they cannot do that either.

I was at a meeting about age discrimination. We listed on a flip chart all the reasons that companies discriminate against older workers. It took 2 sheets front side only to list all the reasons that companies are using to weed us out.

Then we listed all the advantages of hiring seasoned workers and it filled 4 sheets front side only. I told the person that conducted this exercise that she should publish the result to break the misconception that is going on.

Seasoned Workers:

Can’t work with younger people: Yes maybe a small number but I bet most could and would

Are fixed in their ways: Yes again a small number but then why condemn us all. This could apply to a person of any age it is a personality trait is it not.

Cannot learn new technologies: This can fit people of all ages not everyone understands it or how to use it. I teach younger people how to use LinkedIn and Twitter and I am (not going to tell my age but I am seasoned).

Demand too much money: Well Corporate America is this not what you have told us and instilled in us all those years that value and experience equals dollars. This is the same thing you preach to your customers when you want to increase your prices.  Those of us that are savvy enough and know what is truly going on are flexible in the salary department. I know that in the electronics industry that the DOT Com bubble inflated everyones salary and that over the years since the burst they have been reducing the starting salaries back to pre-bubble days. Does that mean that I should still command the salary for my position to that of the Bubble era? If I was an idiot or wanted to stay unencumbered by employment maybe.

The other issue is that we need hirer salaries to pay for our lifestyle and our children’s college education. And lets include higher health costs. Well for a number of people who started families when they were young they kids are out of school and if the economy was better would be working jobs and on their own. They would then see the need to downsize and reduce their spending needs. So guess what they do not need the higher salary and may even invite the lower one. I know that with the experience that I have that as I go forward that I have learned to work smarter not harder. I have learned how to better and faster analyze a situation or problem to resolve it quicker and better. I have learned how to take stress out of my work. Les stress better health. I have learned the needs to eat right as I grow older. I have better habits now than I did when I was young. I want the cost of my health care to be low when I retire so I need to take care now. My youngest son had a large number of allergies (lucky he grew out of most of them).  I do not remember knowing that many people who had allergies or them getting sick as often as kids do today.  I am not saying the younger people are health risks I am just saying look at all the facts not just jump to conclusions.

Are just waiting for retirement so won’t put in the effort: I know I would catch flack from my oldest son and others but I would just say that I am not union.  As I have gotten older I have not changed my work ethics, nor my values. I wish I could say that for the few that mess it up for the rest of us. Yes I have known coasters, but you know what, they never were a worker before. It was just  more noticeable as they got closer to retire.  Why were they kept around so long any way? (Were they union?)

Are not willing to take risks: I have got a good story about that later. This is something that young people will find out soon enough. It is also why I like to work at start ups and I am currently trying to get one going now I like risks. When a company starts it is all about risks it is an exciting time in our lives, the energy the camaraderie, the fast pace. As the company makes a name for itself and settles in you will notice the amount of risk will diminish rapidly. We are after all creatures of comfort. When a company becomes well established then risk disappears all together. The glory days of when the company started and the risks that were taken to get there are forgotten. The management has settled into their comfort zones and there will be no boat rocking in the masses. Again we have been stifled from taking risks it is seen as tabu (forgive the misspelling) to take risk. At this point companies view risk as not needed not a part of the culture any longer.  Excuse me but isn’t risk what will help the company grow even more?

I performed underwater recovery for 20 yrs as volunteer work ( darn gave away my age maybe). At one scene I had to search the lake behind a restaurant. I knew the silt was rather deep back there but we were looking for evidence. I needed a safety diver to go with me. The only one left was a new recruit to the team (fresh out of the Marines Semper Fi). Well I explained to him what was going to transpire and of we went. I found a spot that needed further investigation. So I went verticle and entered the silt. While on my finger tips he could still see my ankles and feet. I performed a sweep of the area and then went horizontal on the bottom. Totally out of sight. I was down about 20 minutes and came up. (There were only 6 out of 139 of us who knew how to do this) When we got out of the water and changed back into clothes he walked up to me an quit the team. He said he had ever seen anything so nuts in his life. Did I take too big of a risk? No I am a professional and I thoroughly understand the risk and the actions of what I was doing. I knew how to get into it and to safely get out of it. (Remember there were only 6 of us who could out of 139). This skill transfer over to my work. I can assess risk better than most people I can analyze it faster and make correct decisions better and wicker than most. I also know how to mitigate risk before it even appears. I am willing to take risks because if it is the right risk the payoff can be worth it. They call it risk/benefit assessment.

Younger workers:

No experience: Here is a catch 22 that is frustrating the young. How do I get experience without  a job if I can’t the job with out experience.

No Loyalty: Companies expect younger workers to jump ship every 3 – 5 years. Do not look for any loyalty from companies they are totally concerned about the bottom line. This economy has shown that more than any other time. Not to offend the few good companies out there, yes there are a few very few companies that realize that their workers are their greatest asset. I knew of younger people that jumped at the chance to earn $1 extra dollar an hour. Loyalty is a two way street do not expect what you are not willing to give.

Will work long hours to get job done for less pay than older workers: I think younger people understand life balance far better than us older people.  After 8 they want to exit they have a life to live. They do not want the life that their parents lived of devoting all your time to work. Especially today when there is no company loyalty. I take my hat off to the younger workers for that.

Younger workers save the company money with less wages: Yes the company wishes! The younger people do not have the wealth of experience that we seasoned workers have. So they are due to repeat all the same mistakes we made. This equates to longer development times to get products to market. All the mistakes (some of which will be costly) have to be made in order to get at the correct answer. Well why don’t the seasoned workers guide them. Excuse me we got let go to make room for them. It was a cost saving initiative. Yes their overhead is less but the costs are higher in other areas that companies are not willing to look at.  Now companies that understand this will keep a good mix of older and younger workers. The young learn from the mistakes of the old so as not to repeat them and then later they become the teachers to the newer younger workers. Business done right.

Okay I have run out of points so feel free to comment with others.

So where do we go from here? I wish I had an answer for you and me. I have one start your own company and run it better than others. Remember what got you there to begin with never loose sight of that.

I do know that we can not get into an us against them as far as the ages go. Neither side has caused the problem only Corporate America caused the problem and fighting amongst ourselves cannot fix it.  We need to come to understand each other better and approach the future with a spirit of greater cooperation between us.  I enjoy working with younger people I enjoy their new enthusiasm, their energy level, and their excitement. I feed off of this. I enjoy learning new stuff from them and teaching them the stuff I know. Collaboration is the power of We.  I do not use there is no I in team because teams are made up of both good and bad players, some contribute a little others a lot. There is also fierce competition when it comes to teams even amongst team mates. Collaboration is more about everyone working towards the same goals in a spirit of cooperation not competition.  The competition is to outwit your business competition and grab or maintain market share by having a highly effective work force. I may be the exception to the rule but I also know a lot more of us exceptions than I do those that fit the rule.

Thank you for listening(aka reading). I hope you got something useful out of this.

Resumes and Cover Letters December 11, 2009

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There is a never ending debate on the use of cover letters do I or don’t I send one.

The other never ending debate is resumes, which style, which format what content. There must be thousands of books written on this subject alone.

So the big questions would be what works and what doesn’t. Who should I listen to?

We know or should know by now that your resume and your cover letter are pieces of marketing material. Your resume is not your professional life history. It is no longer a list of former jobs and responsibilities either.

We are currently in the most competitive job market I have ever seen in my years of professional work. There is also a very bad trend going on as well (despite the great debate that is brewing in a LinkedIn group) as to companies hiring new talent vs. seasoned talent. Actually they are doing neither. Companies are trying to muddle through this with bare-bones staffing.  They have cut themselves to the quick in order to look profitable.

What does that have to do with resumes and cover letters? It has everything to do with it. In order to compete in this market you first need to understand what the field is. Next you need to learn how to play in this field and be successful at it.

What is the secret? There is no secret! However! You must differentiate yourself from all the others in order to be successful. Okay! How do I do that? You do that with your cover letter and resume. I address this is an earlier post but I am going to do it again.

Your resume and cover letter is a representation of you! That being said how can you differentiate yourself if you are using the format you got out of a book that was written many years ago. Is that resume in the book tailored exactly to you and what you do? I highly doubt it. Does it fit your personality, your style, your capabilities? Again I doubt it. The same holds true with cover letters. I have been caught in right sizing(todays term) many times and each time the rules have changed and so I have found that the many myriad of books on these two subject become basically outdated.

I am not saying that they are totally useless. They are useful in setting the basis but by no means should be considered a bible.

The one consensus today is that the Objective statement is out! If you have this on your resume and you are wondering why yo do not get calls? Well there it is get rid of it.  Everyone knows what your objective is to land the job “where you can use your knowledge and skills and move forward”. ZZZZZZZZZ!

You should have a base resume that includes every accomplishment and skill you have. Do not ever send this resume out to anyone. Unless they are looking for an over-achiever or you want to be placed in the ” we can;t hire them they will get bored too easily” category.  This is the resume you work off of to create your personalized resume for that company and that hiring manager.

What do you mean?

Lets say you had a great accomplishment at a pass position. However, the skills you used to do that are not needed in this position you are applying for. While you are proud of what you did, the company does not need those exact skills. This counts against you!

So what do I put in the resume and cover letter?

Hopefully you have researched the company and have a good understanding of what they need. Then go to your base resume and see what you have that fits. Copy and paste that into your submittal resume. NOTE: save your best accomplishment for your cover letter and do not repeat it in your resume. WHY?  I will get to that. Now you cover letter should start with how you heard about the position. A very brief explanation is sufficient, one line. This helps the company understand where there dollars are best spent in their search process. The next paragraph better be about the company and how you understand their need and how you can help them.  The next paragraph should be your best accomplishment, be brief but concise. It should also fit directly inline with their need. The last paragraph should be a request for a meeting to further discuss. Do not be passive but do not be overly aggressive.

DO NOT COPY THE FORMAT IN A BOOK! HR and hiring managers actually love to see resumes and cover letters written by you in your own language. Your writing skills, your personality, your style. Why? Because this tells them a lot about you and if you will fit in. IF you copy the resumes and cover letters out of a book, it is boring and shows you have not put in the effort and that is the type of work that I can expect of you. If you have someone else write them, it shows that you will expect someone else to do your work. Either way they will get you in the circular file quickly.

WHY? !

Your resume and cover letter as I stated earlier are marketing materials about you. Not the person in the book, not the person writing in their style about who you are but you. The way to differentiate yourself from the competition is to write your own cover letters and resume. These are dynamic documents! You will constantly need to ask for feedback about what they liked and didn’t like about your resume and cover letter. WHY? So that you can make changes to the next ones. Unfortunately this is a trial and error system. Try something if it works use it if it doesn’t why would you want to keep making the same mistake.  Talk to others and see what works for them. This does not mean it will work for you but it may be an idea to think about and if it is valid for you then try it.

WHY? ! Why do I insist that you write your cover letter and resume. Because it will differentiate you from the others and today in this market that is the name of the game. I have been a hiring manager and I am seeking a manager position now. I can tell you as a hiring manager having looked at hundreds of resumes and cover letter, your resume and cover letter will stand out. The next thing I expect from those is good content. I can also tell from your writing if I like you enough to want you in for an interview. I want to see that you have taken the time to research the company and have some idea on how you are going to help me meet my goals. You may not need all the requirements that I asked for if I think you can work with the team, learn quickly and get the job done.

NOTE: You are dealing with humans (when your resume gets through the scanner that is). We all have our preferences and likes and dislikes. We do agree on one thing we want to see your resume and cover letter written by you.

That said let me tell you what I and a number of others don’t want to see; colored paper, fancy fonts, too much bolding and underlining, some people any bolding or underlining, scented paper( I might be allergic to that scent and then where will your resume be) and the same old format as every other resume. Believe or not we can also tell if you wrote it  in most cases.

Length of the resume I believe is based on the position you are seeking. If you are going for a manager position or a C level position I do not see how a 1-2 page resume full of bullet points is going to convince anyone to call me for an interview. But, again that is my opinion.

FEEDBACK!

I mentioned feedback earlier. Where do I get it and how do I get it. If you get rejected by a company call HR and ask for their help. You need to ask if there was any specific about your cover letter or resume that hurt your chances of getting hired. Show your resume and cover letters to recruiters and other unemployed people and get their opinion as to what you might be doing wrong.  Like I said these are dynamic documents that are under constant changes while you find what is working.

Good luck! Any questions please comment to this post and I will try to answer them.

How do I research a company before an interview? December 8, 2009

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There are many ways to research information on a company. There are a number of places online to get information. Then there is the best way and that is to network person to person. You need to perform research in a number of locations to get a real good idea on the company before your interview. This is work but you need to put in the time.

This is also good information for researching your target companies also.

So lets look at a number of ways to find information;

Google:

Google the company name and look at the first 2 pages of search data that comes up. Take note on newspaper and magazine articles about the company. Visit the company website (I will get more into that in a minute).

Yahoo Finance:

Search Yahoo Finance for the company. If it is publicly traded the stock trends will come up and you can see how the stock has been trading.

Hoovers.com/free (remember the “S” or you will look at vacuum cleaners):

Hoovers free version will provide the name of the company, the address of the headquarters, the industry, who the top executives are, description of the company, the competition, the competitive overview, and sometimes it list jobs.

SEC.gov Edgar search engine:

This is for publicly traded companies. This is the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission website. This is where you want to search for a companies 10K and 15K reports. These reports are loaded with great information about the company.  The information includes, where they are at, where they are headed, what the risks are to the business, who they feel are there top competitors, and there financials.

LinkedIn:

Perform a company search. Look for people that you have a connection to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree. Network to these contacts. Set up in person meetings. Just ask for information on the company do not ask for them to hand in your resume unless they ask you for it. See post on networking.

LinkedIn groups is another way to find people that work at the company. If you are in professional trade groups or industry specific groups then start a discussion and ask if anyone works for or knows anyone that works for the company.

Company website:

The company website will have a number of sections to look at.

About Us: This will tell a little about what the company does and what industry or market they are in.

Investor Relations: This will have the Annual Report if they are publicly traded. Latest News about the             company (always good to know for starting conversation), and other information.

Careers: This will list the open positions in the company. I find that most companies usually do not keep this section up to date.

Contact Us: This section will have a single point contact or can have multiple points of contact. They are usually HR, Sales, and Customer Service email accounts. There are also phone numbers.

These are some of the best sources for finding information on a company before you interview there. It is also a good way to get information on your target companies so that you can have better informational meeting conversations. Either way you will go into the interview knowing about the company and be able to ask substantial questions and be better prepared to tell the interviewee what you can do for their company.

If you know of anymore good sources please add them to this post as it will help myself and others.

Networking etiquette December 4, 2009

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What is networking etiqette?

Should I call it etiquette or protocol or process? It does not much matter what I call it there is a right way and wrong way.

There are a number of us that are unemployed and we are not only looking for ourselves but trying to help others. I am one of these people. Sometimes at a networking meeting you have bad days were we get nor give help and there are good days when we give as well as receive. It is during this time of having an exceptional giving day that we get caught up in the emotions of the moment and forget the protocol. It can make for an awkward moment for all involved.  The giver having been caught up in the emotion of the moment takes the receiver to the the contact person and without any prelude drops the proverbial bomb on the unsuspecting contact. Viola! The awkward moment for all.

Now I can understand the situation and do not lay blame, but I can also see that this could harm the relationship the giver has with both other parties involved. We are creatures of comfort and do not like to be taken out of our comfort zone. We are also creatures that enjoy feeling good about ourselves especially in this depressing time of being unemployed. So it is very easy to get up in the emotions of the moment. Being a forgiving and understanding person I cannot be upset at this type of situation. I am also a person who likes to teach, although that is not my profession, I will afterwards in a private conversation with the giver explain the error. It is basically dealing with professional courtesy.

Lets look at the scenario once again from the right approach.

The giver in conversation with the receiver realizes that at the same meeting is the contact that the receiver needs to speak with. The giver asks the receiver to follow them to find the contact person. When the contact person is located there is a couple of things that could be happening that will dictate what happens next.

If the contact is in conversation, do not interrupt, wait for the conversation to end. Then give the contact a brief discussion as to why you have brought the receiver in tow to meet them. An example; Hi Joe, I have brought Paul with me to meet you, Paul is an engineer who is interested in one of your former companies. I was wondering if you have a few minutes to talk to him. A brief explanation as to how yo know Paul is also helpful. Joe this is Paul, Paul this Joe.

The emotional situation plays out like this, Hey Joe, Paul is looking for contacts at your Company Z  I told him you would help!

From a relationship standpoint this is wrong on so many levels. While some are obvious I will point them out anyway.

The giver has made a number of bad assumptions having been caught up in the emotional moment.

They have taken for granted Joe’s respect and reputation.

They have put Joe on the spot, having taken him off guard and placed him outside his comfort zone.

They assumed that Joe is willing to help a total stranger and greatly risk his reputation with his contacts at Company Z.

NOTE: We have to remember that Joe has put time and equity into building a relationship and reputation with is contact at Company Z. One bad referral can ruin all his efforts and cause damage to the relationsh

ip.

The giver has caused damage to the trust and respect Joe has with them.

The giver has put the receiver into an awkward situation now as well. All the same facts stated above also apply to the giver/receiver relationship.

Our networks are valuable to us and we must have trust, respect and have a good relationship with everyone in our network. Network connections can be fragile and easily broken. When damaged, the damage can be hard to repair or be destroyed.

So if you find yourself caught in the emotion, take a deep breath, think about the situation about to unfold and handle it in a proper manner. It will become beneficial to all involved.

Happy Anniversary…..NOT! Well maybe! December 1, 2009

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Well fellow job seekers I have been unencumbered by employment for a year now.

Should I celebrate the fact that I have had the time to read books on management to enhance my skills?

Should I celebrate the fact that I have been able to attend networking events without having to ask permission or take time off to attend?

Should I celebrate that I have helped others by providing lectures and a workshop?

Should I celebrate learning all the nuances of social media while unencumbered?

Should I celebrate that Christmas is upon us and my finances are very low?

I am sure that I am not alone in these feelings.

However, I do feel that I have been given a great opportunity to reflect on who I am and what I can give to the company that hires me.  I have not lost my focus or purpose. I am still as energized about finding the right career for me.

I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to meet so many new friends and business acquaintances.

That I have had the chance to further my knowledge in how to be the best manager. One who knows how to retain the best talent and is not afraid to rid the department of the worse.

On GMA this morning they highlighted 3 individuals over 50 that found the work they enjoyed doing .  Some were complete career changes.

I love the field I have chosen and the position that I seek. I have a list of target companies and I have networked into some of them. So I guess my New Years resolution is to network into all of them.

I get new ideas everyday in how to enhance my job search. One I heard the other day is to keep a file of all articles that pertain to your target companies. When you are networking to share your views and ideas about the articles.

I am working as a technical advisor(also called sweat equity) for a startup company and that is keeping my skills up. We are 3 unemployed individual with very limited capital so we continually search for a funding stream. This presents a new skill to my basket of talent. It also helps enhance my presentation skills. I am also practicing how to protect the IP of the company but explain the product in a manner to get others to understand what we are trying to do. What is it that we are trying to do? We are working on fire suppression with out the use of chemicals or water.

I guess what I am trying to say in this post is, that even though things look bleak, stay focused and optimistic, constantly seek new techniques, find ways to keep your skills up, enjoy life.  There is a job or career out there for us we just have to work hard and find it.

Remember who you are, what you have accomplished and what you can offer. Advertise it while networking, make up a single page professional profile (with an executive summary, value statements, accomplishments) use that as a piece of marketing material while networking.

Enjoy your family and friends!

Who am I? I am Joe Mullin, Engineering Manager, my field is electronics and I turn concepts into products.

 

 

Holiday season is coming so no one is hiring I can relax November 17, 2009

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This question was posed the other day in a LinkedIn group discussion.  The person asking thought because it is the end of the year and the holiday season is upon us that they could relax and stop their job search.

This is a huge mistake!

You have to remember that companies work on one of two fiscal years. Group one has their fiscal year from July to June. Group two has their fiscal year January to December.  I will talk about the January to December group since it is the holiday season.

These companies are in their 4th quarter. This means that managers are trying to spend all the monies that they saved until the end so that they can get the same monies for next year. It is also the time that they need to be thinking about next years budget. They have to look at business schedules, manpower studies, capital equipment and other things. They need to make a decision to hire someone now or at least have someone picked out for January.

So if you are in that category that think it is time to relax on your job search, please go ahead. This will give the rest of us who are putting the search in high gear a better chance of landing and getting off unemployment. I will keep my search in high gear until end of February. Then if I need to I  will kick it back up in April for the other fiscal year category.

When I talk about putting my search in high gear, I am not talking about searching the job boards or the aggregators like Indeed.com. I am talking about networking aggressively into my target companies. Research my target companies to find out how did they do in the 3rd quarter. What is the latest news on them. NOTE: this is information that you should have kept track of anyway.

And speaking of networking. This is the time to network even more. Find all the events that might help and attend them. Let friends and family know you are still searching. It could come up in discussion before, during or after Thanksgiving dinner. Christmas is coming and people get into the giving spirit. They are more willing to help others this time of year.  So do you still think this is the time to relax your job search?

Enjoy the holidays!

Attitude while job hunting November 10, 2009

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The biggest problem facing some is their attitude towards or while job hunting. We have been programmed to think that as a person we are not whole if we do not have a job. We even relate to ourselves by the title we hold. We feel unworthy when we loose our jobs and it has a negative effect on our outlook and our attitude.

Even though some of us give an outward appearance of being up and having the right attitude in the back of our minds we still have that little flame of negativity. However we know it is there and wish to try hard to extinguish it.

The bad part about getting or being negative is that it doesn’t take a lot of our energy to become negative, but it takes a lot of our energy to overcome it.  That takes work and the work is hard but once you get positive you need to do all that you can to stay there.

Why do I need to be positive? Because when you get that interview your negativity will shine like a beacon on a dark moonless night. It will have an effect on the way and what you say on the answers you give. It will have an effect on the way you perform your job search.

Take the negativity that you hear in the media and turn it into a positive aspect. What are you nuts? Well yes I guess or I am extremely intelligent! I take that negativity about the jobless number and the economy and look at it as if someone just handed me a challenge. Don’t you like to be challenged? It makes things more exciting when we are challenged.  When the numbers get worse it is as if someone just added more difficulty to the challenge. You just have to say hey bring it on I am up for it!!!  I take a little time and rethink my strategy. I have to plan my course of attack in a more vigorous manner if I want to win.  We all want to win and get back to having a normal life.

How do I change my attitude from negative to positive? Start by surrounding yourself with positive people. Their positive energy will actually start to transfer over to you and it will help you change your attitude. Tell yourself that you  are better than the way you currently view yourself.  Don’t take a defeatist attitude take the attitude that you are intelligent, talented, have great skills to offer that you are an asset to any company that you work for.

There is a company out there that needs you. They just don’t know it yet. It is our job as seekers to convince these companies that they have been struggling without us. That they need highly talented people such as ourselves in order for them to realize greater profit margins.  We have the experience, talent and skills to save them time, make them money and solve problems.

That is the attitude that I take. That is what keeps me going and makes me positive. I know how good I am and what I have accomplished at every company that I have worked for. Now I have to convince a company that they need my talents.

It is too bad that someone doesn’t event a negativity repellent that we could use during these times to keep negativity away from us. However we are equipped with something more powerful than a spray. It is our minds and our intellect. We have the ability and the power to change our attitude. We have the power to make our lives what we want it to be. Our minds are the most powerful tool in our arsenal and we have the right and the ability to exercise it for the good of ourselves. But, since this tool is that powerful we also have the ability to destroy ourselves with the same tool if that is what we let it do. Our minds do not have a failsafe switch that says negativity detected shut the gates. Our minds cannot differentiate between positive and negative. It will react to either. Our bodies however are a feedback mechanism for our mind ( thankfully our bodies are a complex system of checks and balances if in proper working order). Our body will broadcast signals that something isn’t right. We are tired, run down, sleepy, bored, unsocial, no motivation, etc. These are signs that you are in negative mode. You should see these as red flags, flashing warning lights, sirens and it should be a call to action. Stop, think about what is going on with you. No one likes to be miserable, at least I hope not, take inventory of your emotions, your thoughts, your feelings. Make an action plan to reverse these and swing yourself back to the positive you.

If you find you are having trouble doing this on your own seek help. But make sure you seek help from positive people because the negative people will only worsen your condition.

You can land a job faster with a positive attitude and the right game plan!

I wish everyone a positive attitude and good fortune in your search!

Networking November 3, 2009

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We hear alot about networking. We hear that it is the best way to land a job these days. We hear that we already have a few networks to call upon as soon as we are laid off.

What is a network?

A network is a group of people with whom you have a relationship with. This relationship could be family and friends. People in your community, banker, dentist, doctor, grocer, etc. They can be former classmates from school. They can be former workers.  These are people who have formed some type of bond, someone you might trust, someone you have a reputation with.

In these bad economic times your ready network isn’t enough. You need to expand your network. Which brings up 2 schools of thought.

School 1: Build your network as big as you can. Network with everyone. Using LinkedIn you can become a LION or Open networker and accept all invites. But what kind of relationship can you establish with 500+ people? How well will they know you and keep you on their mind in order to help you?

School 2: Networking is about building good relationships. Keep the number of people to a number that you can work with. Keep it to people you trust or will do business with.

It is the battle of quantity vs quality.               I like quality myself.

So I am out of work so where can I go to build a network. Well here in Massachusetts I go to a group called WIND. It is an organization for unemployed professionals. There are job clubs and other networking organizations out there.  There are Chambers of Commerce, Professional organizations meetings, seminars, lectures, trade shows, career fairs and sporting events. You have to be able to network anywhere

Networking can be used for various reasons: building business, increasing customer base, getting information on a company, getting information on an industry, getting information on a specific position if you are changing industries and are wondering if you have the right skill set.

MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE BUSINESS CARDS!!!!

Again networking is about building relationships!!!

So I find a company that I want to work for and they have a position open for me what do I do?

If the company wants you to submit your resume online then do so. If you are working with a recruiter let them know you are submitting to that company (they might be able to help you get in faster and better than you can),  use your existing network and LinkedIn to find people who work at this company.

Find out what you can about the contact person. What is there position in the company? Do they work in the department you are applying for?  This will help set up how you are going to network with this person.

Set up a meeting for 15 -20 minutes for coffee. Ask them about the company , the work atmosphere, how long have they worked there, do they like working there, why or why not. Towards the end of the meeting you can ask for 2 more contacts that are in the department or know people in that department.  Repeat the first steps until you get connected with someone in that department. Then  ask who the hiring manager is and see if you can set up a meeting with them.

Again there are 2 schools of thought to this process:

School 1: Give your resume and ask for the job. Be prepared to tell why your the best candidate. Be prepared to fail.

School 2: Never ask for the job or give your resume. You can voice your desire to work for them ( not the same as out right asking) and have your resume with you to offer if asked. Of course if a job is offered you should take it.

Your method will be based on what you think will work for you and how much effort you want to put into landing a job.

Of course the method you choose will speak volumes about your character.

For New Englanders: If you are a member of the last Monday of the month CBS Scene networking group. Be sure to say hi.

I am attending a networking meeting in Newport RI Tuesday night called Building Bridges Through Networking for the first time.  I am looking forward to it.  Yes I am bringing plenty of business cards with me.

An added note to the readers:

I am open minded about networking. However if I do not see a mutual benefit in our relationship do not feel slighted if I do not add you to my business network. If there is a way that I can still help you I will as I believe in pay it forward. But I will not accept a LinkedIn connection.

What constitutes a target company? October 29, 2009

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While at a networking meeting for unemployed professionals this morning, I realized that a number of the members di not fully understand what a target company is.

A target company is not the one that you just sent your resume to.  They may or may not be the ones close to your residence or in your geographical area.

A target company is one that you know about, that you have heard about, a company that you would love to work for.

It also may be a company that is not currently hiring.  Does that mean it would be a waste of your time not to send your resume.  If that is the attitude then the company is not a true target company.

A target is that company that you would love to work for and that the time you spend working on landing that position is well worth the effort. This is the company that you should be networking your way into. It is a company that you want to keep these contacts fresh and informed. It is a company that you want to help even though you are not working there yet. This will work in your favor in the end.

I was talking with Phil about one of his target companies. The one we talked about had products that he was really interested in. The company also had a community program that was inline with Phil’s personal beliefs. This company does not have a position open currently. That is not going to stop Phil from developing a plan to stay in their radar without being a pest and will eventually land a position there.

My target companies are Ahura Scientific and Design Continuum. Ahura is a medical industry company and I like their products because of the manner in which they help people. I like their mission and vision.

Design Continuum is a company that helps other companies design better products, a more efficient process, a cost effective product to realize better profit margin. They help other companies achieve things that they themselves do not have the resources for.

So sit down and write a list of companies that you think you want to work for. Then do research on these companies. Look at their websites, if publicly traded look on sec.gov for their 10K and 15K reports, talk to people in your network to find people that work for these companies. This may eliminate some companies on your list. This is okay because your list should be no more than 15 companies, 20 maximum.

Check on these companies once a month , check the website, look at the news, and talk with contacts.  Record new things that you learned so you will be prepared when the interview comes.

Remember this is a company that you really want to work for. So if you are working and get the offer from your target company, you need to be prepared to make the move or you will give up any chance of working for that company.