Tag Archives: networking

You learn from being with others who pursue similar goals

If you are focussed and committed to achieve a goal, you generally try to surround yourself with people pursuing the same, or a similar, goal.

In martial arts, you work out together, to achieve the next belt color (level).

In training for a marathon, you establish a routine to follow (with others). (How many miles to run?  Which days?  Which route to follow?  What diet to follow?  What time to meet in the morning to run?)

In SCUBA diving, it is always recommended to stay with a companion while underwater.

Yet, many unemployed folks don’t embrace this approach regarding their job search.

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

For job search, the most effective ways to decrease the duration of your job search, is to routinely meet with others in job search, as a group, to discuss their progress and activity toward finding their next job.  (Reference R. Bolles, ‘What Color is Your Parachute?’, 2012.)

I often heard folks, who’d been in job search for a long time, say “The people that I talk with are all unemployed: I REALLY need to be talking to employed folks!”

Friends of mine have trained for marathons as part of a group, and it took months of preparation.  Over that time, some group members encountered situations which kept them from training one day, or forced them to run a shorter distance than scheduled.  For others in the group, uphills were more of a challenge, while downhills were more problematic for a few.  No two people had the same set of challenges throughout their training, and this is expected.  It was how each person approached, and then worked through each challenge, that determined if she was successful or not in reaching (first the starting, then) the finish line, of the marathon.

Similarly, no two people in job search should expect to see similar progress from their efforts.  If someone’s LinkedIn profile is not generating as many hits as desired, it is a temporary situation that can be tweaked: it should not be seen as a personal judgement or failure.  It is important to seek out help from those in your group, for those areas that you want to improve.  Most importantly, keep being active within your job search network!

I found that being amongst people interested in my success helps helps me to be my best.  The value of being within a group of people who actively share your goals, remains just as important in job search as it is in any other undertaking.

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

© 2015 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

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Knowing your network…

How you spend your time while in transition greatly influences the options available for you in the future.

One positive dynamic of being in transition is that you have some extra time to network with people you may not have met without having been unemployed.  I especially appreciated discussions with the self-employed (and entrepreneur) contacts I met who shared their time talking with me.  It was purely a discussion to better understand each other, and to convey what each person was working toward.   (Note:  There was no potential that the discussion might lead to an interview or job offer, and they were not selling anything to me.)

Two years later, I still retain awareness and knowledge with most of the people I talked with on a one-on-one basis.  What most impressed me was that these self-employed networkers were running their own business, so their time was their money.  Time spent with me was time that they weren’t specifically spending upon their business.  However, it made clear the value they saw in talking with new people, learning what the other person was about, and seeing if/how each person could help each other.  This value is large enough that they actively pursue such discussions.  Today, I still refer potential clients to those people, because I know what their business is and the type of clients they seek.  Also, they are aware of what I am doing, so when they reach out to me with a question or perspective, it is a direct result of the positive discussions that we shared.

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

 

While in transition, you spend time with many other folks who are also in transition.  At times, you may feel that you are spending too much time with unemployed folks.  Whether the person you’re networking with is employed or not, spending time with folks that you highly respect can be an uplift to your morale (and… while unemployed, morale uplifts can be in short supply).  These discussions also expand your knowledge of how different businesses work, which is always a valuable insight to carry.

Whether you are in a job transition or not, is there someone you’d like to chat with over the next two weeks?  (If you’re reading this on your phone, you can reach out right now…).

 

Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor.  He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.

Are You Selling What They Want?

Are you selling a product that an employer will want to buy, and do you have enough of what that employer wants?

Allow me to switch gears here.

Have you ever been to a major-league baseball game? If you have, did you ever notice those people inside the ballpark who carry those trays in front of them with all sorts of food and snacks to sell? (We often refer to them as ballpark vendors.)

I’ll bet you’re wondering why I would be writing about ballpark vendors in a blog that is to be read by job-seekers, especially when it’s October and the regular major-league baseball season is over.

Here is my analogy. You, the job-seeker, are a ballpark vendor, and your target employers are the fans at the major-league baseball game.

Vendor_02

There are some differences here. First, ballpark vendors usually will have only one or two different items in their tray, while a job-seeker can have many skills that he is trying to “sell” to a potential employer. Second, on any given day, a vendor’s “target market”, can number well into the hundreds, or even the thousands. I doubt that most job-seekers have a list of “specific” target companies that is more than one or two hundred. Third, we job-seekers research companies before putting them on our list of target companies. The ballpark vendor does not have to do this; to him, you become part of his potential target market just by showing up at the ballpark. Fourth, when researching potential target companies, we job-seekers attend various networking meetings and use our networks to find out information about those companies. Ballpark vendors simply yell out what it is that they’re selling, and leave it up to you, the prospective buyer, to decide if you want to buy that item.

Finally, when a vendor runs out of an item, that person simply goes and gets more of that item. On the other hand, we job-seekers have to learn new skills that potential employers may be looking for.

Let’s go back to the items being sold. The ballpark vendor is simply trying to sell something which can be consumed. You, the job-seeker, are trying to sell your “skills”. If the potential employer does not need someone with your skills, you are not going to be able to sell anything to that employer, just like the vendor will not be able to sell a customer anything to drink if that customer is not thirsty.

If that same employer is looking for someone with a skill that you have, but wants someone who is “more experienced” with that skill than you are, or who has other skills that you don’t have, you also will not be able to “sell” to that employer. A ballpark vendor will not be able to sell one-half of a hotdog to someone who wants a whole hotdog.

So, if your skills stack up very well to those jobs that you are trying to get, then you have something to sell to your target companies. Go out and network to try to get into those companies. If not, you have two options. Add to your skill set, or change your career direction.

Now, do you have enough of the skills that your target employers want?

Dave Vandermey is a web developer.

Dealing with irrelevant information, or, lookout for information overload

As I was backing my car out of a parking space recently, looking out the rear window and making sure there weren’t any people or cars behind me, all of a sudden I heard this strange, female voice saying “Welcome to the hands free phone system…” I stopped the car, somewhat in a state of shock, still partly in the parking space. At first, my thoughts went back-and-forth between “What did I just do?” and “How do I get this message turned off?” One look at where my left hand was on the steering wheel gave me the answers to both of my questions. I had inadvertently touched the “call” button on the steering wheel. I wound up hearing two or three more sentences from that female voice before I figured out that the way to stop the message was to hit the “cancel” button right next to it.

 

What I had just experienced is another one of those new-fangled contraptions allegedly designed to help me do something. Cell phones, laptop computers, this thing called spell check, and computer mice are other examples of these. At this point I must admit that I am a bit old fashioned when it comes to some of the electronic gizmos that are found on the cars of today. (The car I traded in to get this one last year was bought in 1996.) My cell phone, which still doesn’t get much use, is usually off while I’m driving; if I have to make a call, I pull over, stop the car, and use my cell phone. Therefore, I do not need a hands free phone system. All of the information in that message was not relevant to me.

 

What does this have to do with searching for a job? We are periodically affected by the results of well-intentioned people giving us some help at a time when we are not in a position to receive it, like when we are showering or sleeping. At other times it may be OK if we are receiving helpful information for our job search from only one person, or at a networking meeting where your request for help is implied.

 

But go to a family get-together, beware; you could get as many different ideas on how to do your job search as there are people attending the gathering. If you are not careful here you could end up getting something that I call “information overload”.

 

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The advice others give you will depend on their prospective, and whatever the norms were when they last looked for a job. They might not realize that what you have to do to get a job today is quite different than it was back in the 1950’s, the 1970’s, or even the 1990’s.

 

Remember, when you get your next job, it will be your name that will be on that paycheck, not theirs.

 

Using your best social skills is a good idea here; nod your head, or smile and say “Thank you”. After that, do whatever you have to in order to retain any relevant information. And then forget the rest.

 

In order for me to start writing this post, I pressed that “call” button again, and wrote down the first words of that message. Then I hit the “cancel” button, because the rest of that message was not relevant.

 

 

Dave Vandermey is a web developer. 

Deliberate Conversations

I just spent an evening having deliberate conversations, otherwise known as networking.  As an introvert, I have to talk myself into going to an event that has a specific purpose of meeting and greeting lots of people.  The standard advice is to go into the event with a clear goal or two in mind.

 

My goal was to ask everyone a question about what they would like to read about regarding job search.  Plenty of them did tell me that this is a crowded field of material with a variety of people writing on the topic, and I can’t disagree.  How many of them are giving advice, though?  The answer would be most of them, where our objective here on this blog is to talk about the shared experience of job search and not dispense advice.

 

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

I did get plenty of ideas which I will write about in coming posts.  Even from a couple people who at first thought that they didn’t have any suggestions.  It just goes to show that job seekers are a creative bunch.  And energetic.  Everyone that I know who is in job search is open and learning at a much higher rate than the folks who are working.

 

Had any deliberate conversations of your own lately?  How did they go?

 

Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Some Random Thoughts on Networking… Please Add Yours

I originally posted this on my own blog, back in August 2013, after I went to a networking event which is held quarterly by a LinkedIn contact.  I wrote this as part of my own post-event analysis because it was my first time in attendance.  I continue to put pressure on myself to network more, and farther outside of my comfort zone.  I know that I will benefit, but it does take energy because I am not naturally a person drawn to large social events.

understanding

My thoughts:

  • It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert, you don’t live in a box so you need to figure out how to keep your contacts fresh.
  • Most people have as many and possibly the same reservations that you have about going.
  • Follow up matters – but is also dependent upon your intent for starting the contact in the first place.
    • How many people do you know that just go through motions because they have been told that they must?
    • One person I know went to coffee with a new contact and was frustrated when the new contact didn’t seem to understand the point of the coffee meeting follow up.  (Hint: it isn’t a coffee klatch.)
  • You need to spend a couple of moments before the event getting your thoughts together about your own expectations for the event.
    • If it is your first event, your objective can be as simple as getting through the event.  Be yourself – your most vivacious self that you can muster.
  • Some people will be there just to collect cards – these are probably the folks who had the most yearbook signatures in high school and a lot of trophies.  Don’t spend too much time with them.
  • This is social, so have some fun.  But remember appropriate behavior for the occasion.

 

Ultimately, networking should help each of us to find people to expand our community.  What do you have to say?

 

Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Can We Trade?

Every single one of us has a tool kit of skills.  Let me just say that first part again for emphasis – every single person.  It is sometimes entirely too easy to forget that our skills are valuable, to forget some of the skills that each of us has as we go through everyday life.  Job search helps people to actively think about all the skills that they have accumulated.  It is a good time to take out each skill from that tool kit and polish it up.

 

Job seeking is a lonely task, a singular experience that each person does in their own way.  Finding a group of people who are in transition at the same time can be hugely beneficial.  Now the task is still uniquely individual, but there is information sharing and support.  Plus the chance to create something stronger through a trading of skills.

 

photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

There is so much that fellow job seekers can offer each other – understanding of the difficulties faced every day, information, contacts, and skills.  You can help me to refresh my skills in pivot tables while I can help you to update your resume for one example.  I can introduce you to a person that I might know while you can do the same for me as another example.

 

The possibilities for trades are endless.  And each trade reinforces skills, knowledge, team work, and creates a shared purpose where there was a lonely haul.

 

A favorite interview question is often some version of what have you been doing recently, while not working; how great would it be to pull out a host of SARs about using your skills to help others meet their job search goals?  Win-win as the buzz speak goes.

 

Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Landing & Lessons Learned

By Tim Klepaczyk

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/timklepaczyk/

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Public Domain Image

I apologize to my loyal readers for missing a post last week.  That has been rare for me, but I think most will understand my reasons – yesterday I started the highest-paid job I’ve found in 5-1/2 years!  The outpouring of congratulations from family and friends has been heart-warming.  I believe I said it here a long time ago – you’re not in the job search alone if you have a good support network.  (This is for real – no April Fools.)

The new job is obviously now my top priority.  Consequently, I’m not promising to write weekly for the foreseeable future.  Hopefully I can still find time to post occasionally.  In the meantime, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on lessons learned.

1)      You reap what you sow.  The U.S. recently endured the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  I felt that renewing my career depended primarily on the economic recovery.  I did what worked before, relying mostly on recruiters.  I was too passive.  Only since last June did I really pull out all the stops.  Don’t pull back on the throttle thinking “it’s a bad hiring market”.  You want to be first in line whenever more opportunities start showing up.

2)      Job search is constantly changing.  I never used LinkedIn in a job search before.  Job search today is different than it was five years ago.  Five years ago it was different than it was ten years ago.  Seek out people in the know and incorporate the latest thinking and techniques.

3)      My new job search also started yesterday.  Certainly my new colleagues must know I look forward to working with them and doing a good job for my new company.  However, the reality is long-term employment is a rare luxury.  Maintain your networks and perhaps next time you’ll have another job ready when your current one ends.

Tim Klepaczyk is an RF & microwave engineer with over 20 years of experience in applications & sales and product design & validation.  He also loves writing.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved.

Informational Interviews and Job Search

Every job search is a highly personal experience.  One unifying aspect is the opportunity to learn, and there is plenty to learn about while seeking gainful employment.  Where-o-where to start?  Deciding on your main direction is a good broad stroke start.

 

Is there plenty of opportunity in your industry and within your job title?  Does this area still have meaning for you?

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One of the methods that you can use to explore new companies in your same industry or possible new industries is the informational interview.  We’ve all heard plenty about the job interview – an important step to an actual, potential job but informational interviews aren’t as well known.  Yet they can be very useful.

 

Think it would be great to work for a particular company?  Well, maybe someone you know can put you in touch with someone who currently works there who would be willing to answer questions that you have about the company.

 

Think that you might be able to transition to a new job title?  What better way to find out more about the requirements than to have an informational interview with someone who already holds the title?

 

The main difference between a job interview and an informational interview is that you are not going to talk about a specific job, or even ask for a job – you are gathering information to help you to clarify your plan for your main direction.   You are also getting the potential to become known or better known to the person that you are interviewing and also by the company.

 

For this type of interview you don’t need to know the answers, but to craft useful questions.

 

Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Staying Relevant

By Tim Klepaczyk

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/timklepaczyk/

An important task for the long-term unemployed is staying relevant.  If you’re out of work longer than a year you’ll eventually start hearing comments – “can’t get you an interview because of no recent experience”.  This can be extremely frustrating, especially as you get older.  A common initial reaction is incredulity – how can years of experience be dismissed so quickly by some potential employers?

Remember the Hiring Manager’s perspective.  There are usually other candidates without an extended out-of-work period.  All other things being equal, one can hardly blame the Hiring Manager for going with the other candidate.  It’s a harsh reality, but at least somewhat understandable.

Don't become the next Flip Phone.  Public Doman Image.

Don’t become the next Flip Phone. Public Doman Image.

To avoid this problem there are some things you can do to stay relevant.

1)      Write a blog and/or post to your LinkedIn groups.  Obviously that’s one reason I’m writing this blog.  Even if few people read it you can direct a potential employer to your blog to show one way you’re being productive while you are in transition.

2)      Volunteer.  In some fields this is particularly helpful.  It’s possible to gain experience in tasks that will be important in your next paid position.

3)      Read trade literature.  This is essential for technical professionals.  One can even to some degree combine 2 & 3 by volunteering for a technical professional organization, which often has reduced annual fees for members who are in transition.  Volunteering at your professional organization’s local trade shows is also a great way to expand your networking opportunities.

4)      Get a certification or do some other training, including free on-line courses such as Coursera.  Certifications can be costly, so check out WIA grants to defray that.  This is obviously not a concern for free courses, but that does not mean such courses are less worthwhile.  Many have top-notch professors.

Tim Klepaczyk is an RF & microwave engineer with over 20 years of experience in applications & sales and product design & validation.  He also loves writing.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved