Author Archive: xplorenorthshore

Job Fair Today! Resumes Will Be Collected

By Susan J. Anderson, CC

I used to go to job fairs. Filled with hope and armed with plenty of resumes, I was a person, behind the paper, with many skills to offer a prospective employer. This was my day to shine and be noticed. However, after disappointments at large metropolitan job fairs, I now realize my time would be better spent elsewhere. People I know have received leads at job fairs, but, I know of no one who has gotten a job.

The high rate of unemployment in northern Illinois has been a major concern on many levels. A member of congress hosted a job fair at a local community college to demonstrate a proactive position on getting the unemployed back to work. There had been a great deal of publicity leading up to the event. The parking lot was very full and it was apparent there would be a large turnout.

I arrived early, before the doors opened. About 150 other attendees had the same idea and were ahead of me. When the doors opened, everyone was asked to sign in and identify their congressional district. Hmm, was this event meant to benefit job seekers or a politician? Organizers had each of us write out a name tag to wear and we were handed a bottle of water. Maps showed where each agency or company had a table. Time to outline a strategy!

The doors finally opened and people passed from the lobby into the hallways like sand through an hourglass. Monitors at the entrances limited the number of people who could enter a room when the capacity had been reached. What a cattle call! Very quickly the rooms were hot and noisy.

Popular employers had enormous lines gathering to talk with representatives. This would become a lesson in patience and perseverance. The company at the top of my list only had a banner hung over a vacant table. This was discouraging! I asked an organizer if this booth would be manned later in the day. She didn’t know of any changes and said, “Check back later.”

Another employer on my list had four reps at their stall. Approximately 40 people were in line at each station. Lines moved slowly. The individuals at the booth looked like the youngest, least experienced staffers from the HR department. Or, they drew the short straws.

With such a long wait ahead of me, I started conversations with others around me. The man in front of me had been out of work over a year. He went to as many job fairs as his schedule would permit. For him, freebies with corporate logos were great “perks”. Over time, he had accumulated quite a collection of T-shirts, tote bags, water bottles, pens and similar advertising items. He stated with pride, “Even if I don’t get a job, I haven’t walked away empty-handed.” I found this sad and rather depressing.

I took in my surroundings. This room was crowded with talented job seekers eager to work. Were there job openings? There was so much wrong with this system.

After 40 minutes had passed, I was nearing the front of the line. A staffer behind the table needed to step away for a few minutes. When she failed to return after 10 minutes, a near riot ensued.

Hurray! Nearly an hour later, I was shaking hands with an HR person. He made some small talk, glanced at my resume and turned it upside down on a pile behind him. He wasn’t aware of any openings in my field and referred me to the corporate website. This long wait was unsatisfactory as well as unproductive.

Other interactions weren’t much better. I was frequently directed to the corporate website no matter which booth I visited. Were the participating companies actually hiring? I had my doubts. Was this merely a way to see who was in job search and build their files? Likely these companies felt pressured to be visible in the community. They could check the box that they were present at the job fair.

A federal agency participated. They had openings – in Virginia! This wasn’t a good fit if you lived in Illinois…

The “prime” employer on my list never appeared. The staffers at the tables where I had waited an hour earlier in the day looked hassled. They had the appearance of cornered, caged animals with nowhere to run. They were sentenced to a very long day.

Time to go! On my way out, an organizer asked me to complete a short survey about my experience at the job fair. In summary, I stated I was happy to have given my resume to target companies, but, it seemed doubtful I would land employment as a result of coming to the job fair.

The choice is yours. I would only recommend going to smaller job fairs where you may be noticed.

Have you, or anyone you know, landed a job after going to a job fair?

Susan J. Anderson, CC is a Communications Professional, Blogger, Business Writer, Copywriter and Speaker.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Interacting With the Public – As Easy As ABC

By Susan J. Anderson, CC

Two savvy businesswomen I know each shared a tip with me about how they approach a new day. Be prepared to interact with the public because you never know when a chance encounter will blossom into a great opportunity. As a job seeker, your antenna is already “up” ready to receive signals about job leads. Once you land the next job, continue these two important practices.

Tip #1: ABC – Always Bring Cards

Have business cards on your person or available in a bag you carry. If your cards are at home in a box, in your car or in a holder on your desk, the opportunity is lost. You have nothing to share with your new contact. Having a card to exchange demonstrates your professionalism, your preparedness and your knowledge about best business practices. You convey that you are an astute individual with something to offer. Connecting with me is a plus.

Tip #2: Talk with people. Maximize every opportunity.

The lady who offered this tip has a background in sales and public speaking. Her level of self-confidence is high. She is eager to strike up a conversation with people near her anytime she is waiting in line. Whether she is in a coffee shop, the grocery store or waiting to see her MD, she chooses her moment. Begin with eye contact and a smile then attempt a conversation. Should this person not want to engage, look for another individual who appears more receptive. A master at making connections from her vast network, she is always willing to add value and meet new people. Granted, this skill takes practice, but, it is effective. It definitely beats standing in line being bored and getting impatient!

Be noteworthy in any environment and be prepared.

Have you used one or both techniques to make new connections?

Susan J. Anderson, CC is a Communications Professional, Blogger, Business Writer, Copywriter and Speaker.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Advice from Eleanor Roosevelt

By Susan J. Anderson, CC

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I have thought about this quote during my job search. Personal growth and pursuing a passion can be stressful, if not scary. Mrs. Roosevelt was a courageous woman who faced the challenges of leading a very public life during the tumultuous World War II years in America. She remains the nation’s longest-serving First Lady.  She was a strong figure very much in the public eye. Traveling was easier for her than for her husband, the President. She was able to gauge the pulse of the country at her appearances and report her findings to the President. It was no simple task to keep such a rigorous schedule and put on a brave face that better days were ahead.

What scared her? She gave speeches to large audiences. How many people have a fear of public speaking? Eleanor Roosevelt overcame any fears she might have had. She found her own voice campaigning  for her husband, speaking at conventions and writing a newspaper column. Over time, she grew into her role as First Lady displaying confidence and poise in her public persona.

Perhaps “stretching beyond your every day boundaries” is better wording than doing something “that scares you”. Growth is stunted if you don’t move beyond  where you were yesterday..

During a job search, you make strides to move out of the past and gain momentum towards landing employment.

Commit to making one extra step each day. Go to a networking event and meet one new person. Take time to have a meaningful conversation. Reach out and re-connect with a long-time contact. Speak with a neighbor. Walk at a different park for a change of scenery. Read the article you haven’t picked up from the “to do later” pile.

Turn outward and share your knowledge. You may not have a job, but you aren’t out of ideas or ways to make a difference by participating in an activity of your choice.

Sometimes knowing how much power you hold in your own hands, and how you influence your destiny, is the scariest thought of the day. Be active, be positive and get noticed!

What scares you? Are you motivated to make a change?

Susan J. Anderson, CC is a Communications Professional, Blogger, Business Writer, Copywriter and Speaker.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Impending Acquisition or Merger and Your Job Security

By: Susan J. Anderson, CC – Communications Specialist


Listen to your inner voice if your senses indicate changes are coming in your workplace. The owner of a small business is regularly escorting guests through the building. In a corporate setting, multiple visitors are on site long-term in a conference room. Members of upper management exit a business.

Frequently, the next step is to gather everyone into the largest space on premise for a major announcement. A change has occurred and everyone hearing this message still has a job. Even if you were able to decipher the telltale signs, this news is alarming. There is comfort in the current routine – a familiar commute, likeable co-workers and the same cubicle. “Please, not this!”, you might think.

As a veteran of four mergers or acquisitions, I would counsel anyone in this situation to be wary and update one’s resume. Experience has made me wiser. A trend I’ve noticed is that middle management and the sales force are the first to be culled. They are replaced with individuals chosen by the new organization. Face the fact that your position could be eliminated or changed.

A decision could be made that you must re-apply for the job you have in order to stay in the organization. Should you be “re-hired”, your salary may be lower and your workload increased. The new group is spending substantial amounts of money for the business transaction just announced. Saving costs elsewhere is their objective. You don’t want the savings to be at your expense.

I would urge anyone in this position not to remain in a job with an uncertain future. Will you be employed tomorrow?

The solution is to take control of your destiny and begin your job search sooner rather than later. The winds of change are blowing through the organization. Be prepared. If your job is spared, good for you! Should you secure other employment, a fresh opportunity of your choice will be the reward for making the decision to act.

Susan J. Anderson, CC is a Communications Professional, Blogger, Business Writer, Copywriter and Speaker.

2013 Blog to Work – Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Are You An Active Listener?

By Susan J. Anderson, CC


Maybe you think your role as a listener is to be on the receiving end of information. If you aren’t the speaker, you aren’t the main character. What I have learned is that a listener is an equal partner in any dialogue.

Sharpening your listening skills will reap many benefits. At a networking event, make a mental note to hear, and mentally register, your new acquaintance’s name. Look at the person’s name tag (if wearing one) and read the business card you just accepted. Ask questions that lead to a meaningful conversation and demonstrate your interest in what the other person has to say.  Jot a few notes so you have some facts to mention at a future meeting.

When a potential employer contacts you for a phone screening or in-person interview, your finely honed listening skills will give you the ability to provide confident answers. In your reply, your aim is to answer the question the interviewer asked. Show you are prepared, interested, engaged in the conversation and possess the excellent skills and qualifications that fit the open position. With the positive characteristic of being known as an active, attentive listener, you increase your chances of making the candidate short list at your target company and getting hired.

Susan J. Anderson, CC is a Communications Professional, Blogger, Business Writer, Copywriter and Speaker.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

You Ought To Be on…LinkedIn (Part II)!

By: Susan J. Anderson, CC – Communications Specialist

Part II

Continued from September 4, 2013

Yes, I’m one of the LinkedIn members who tends my online profile like a garden. We’ve heard that analogy many times, but, it’s true. Regular visits to nurture my network, keep my group vibrant and growing as well as updating my information has proven to be a productive use of time. I send email messages to inform contacts of my progress. Plus, I want to hear their news.

Because I cultivate my network, I’m known for having fresh information and have become a professional connector. If someone is seeking a contact in a particular field, and I know of someone in my network, I’m happy to make an introduction. The contact could return the favor to me in the future. In addition, I increase my reputation as a person who adds value, is worth knowing and is active in professional circles. I’ve made the choice not to be an open networker. My policy is to get to know you and learn about your background. Once I make a recommendation, my reputation rides with you.

LinkedIn profile photos are a feature I like. Resumes are a bit anonymous and can be easy to cast aside. The photos add a human quality and I aim to connect with professional people. Move beyond the standard placeholder image, a cartoon or artist’s drawing of your face. It doesn’t represent your true, authentic self. Perhaps you are avoiding some form of bias, but you aren’t being yourself.

Having a LinkedIn profile is no substitute for meeting people at networking events. It is a compliment to what contacts already know about you and may even be a source to close some information gaps. My experience has been that activity increases about the time you reach 300 connections. Individuals that are 2nd level contacts reached out more frequently to connect with me. If I have been in a large meeting where all present have given a 30-second introduction to the audience, I’ll accept the invitation because we have the common thread of being participants at the same event. Often, that will lead to a more in depth one on one conversation where I can speak with my new acquaintance and learn more about how I can help.

Linkedin is a great way to share information. I’m constantly amazed at the power and reach of the medium. Being visible increases my chances to land the position I desire.

Most of all, I keep the phrase “Givers Gain” top of mind. When I help others I help myself by feeling a sense of accomplishment and self worth.

How has LinkedIn been a benefit during your job search?


You Ought To Be On…LinkedIn!

By: Susan J. Anderson, CC – Communications Specialist


Part I

Being a job seeker in 2013 differs from career changes or employment searches of the past. Job seekers should be visible and having an online professional profile is a must. This was my introduction to using LinkedIn.

I attended a free, 2-part workshop at a local job center in northern Illinois and learned the basics. Everyone in the group was encouraged to enter as much relevant information as possible and always present your true, authentic self. A robust profile offers the best snapshot of your education, skills and professional background.

Potential employers, previous employers, colleagues and friends will be in a better position to find you or assist in your job search when you provide clear information. Good facts in your work history will give details about what you do, and what opportunities would be suitable, in your field. Most contacts are eager to offer help when you provide specifics on what type of employment you are seeking. Enter information about prior responsibilities and successes, give and receive recommendations with other LinkedIn members in your network, join groups plus list educational awards and certifications. Contacts will get to know you better. Connections have the potential to develop into stronger business relationships that could lead to a job. People I’ve spoken with in person, and subsequently made a LinkedIn connection, have commented after reading my profile, “I didn’t know that about you!” The profile reinforces the first impression. It is available online whenever the reader is ready to learn more.

Each weekday, I check my profile. I make certain I answer InMail messages, accept or send invitations to connect as well as view statistics about how many times my profile has been seen. The section titled “People Also Viewed”, presenting names and photos, interests me, too. How do I rate in the vast talent pool out there? I want to know!


To be continued: September 11, 2013