Wrapping Up Your Career Choices

Many of us have begun to formulate goals for next year. Before we can officially ring in the ‘new’, we have to review what needs an overhaul from last year’s career moves.  Ask yourself these 5 questions to see what you could have done differently last year.year 2

How thankful were you?

Too often job seekers start conversations complaining or blaming others, instead of simply stating their qualifications. Even contacts that might have had a job lead to offer will be turned off by that negativity.  Next time, keep the self-defeating comments at bay and shine some positive energy.  Positive people with great personalities get more referrals.

What have you done for someone else?

In these last 12 months what random acts of kindness have you practiced? Individuals that freely give their time on various projects, and generously assist others online/offline land jobs faster. They know more people, have a wider circle of connections, and are remembered when opportunities present itself.

Were you stuck in the house?

If your job search only consists of applying to jobs online, your chances of getting an offer are slim. Most of those jobs you see online are taken before you even apply. You need to attend networking events, join professional associations, and connect with individuals directly within the organizations where you want to work. You cannot do that from sitting at home.

Did your social media strategy work?

A complete and consistent message that sells your brand on LinkedIn, Facebook, and twitter can land you that next opportunity. Especially LinkedIn, which has become synonymous with your online resume. A branded social media plan should be getting you noticed. Recruiters should be selecting you for interviews after reviewing your online image. If you have a decent resume but are not getting interviews, then change your online marketing.

How realistic were your goals?

Reaching your desired destination often requires a few stepping-stones.  Too often people think that a degree and no related experience entitles them to opportunity. But in reality it’s a lot more than just that. Often you have to create a bridge by assembling the hands on skill-set you need, volunteering/interning within the field, or by finding a position in the same industry to add relativity.  You need to make yourself and your resume fit what employers are actually looking for.

Before making career resolutions for the New Year, evaluate your actions and reactions for last year first. If you are not happy with where you are in your career or current job search, incorporate new strategies that will get you to where you want to be in the New Year.

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Holiday Blues? Do Something About It

Between Hurricane Sandy and the recent shootings in Connecticut, there just seems to be a cloud hanging over the holidays this year. Its hard to get into the holiday spirit while thinking of all those families in turmoil.  Action is often what fuels hope and peace of mind. So here are 6 ideas guaranteed to make a positive impact on you and your community this season:

1)  Offer free services based on your expertise or calling. If you own a business (counseling, technical, electrical, plumbing…etc.) offer free assistance to individuals that cannot afford it. Help someone with a community initiative, lend your muscle, or start a project you think would help others in your area.

2) Donate coats, blankets, or clothes to local homeless shelters, women’s shelters, and transition houses that give your items directly to those that need it.  You can also donate professional attire to help women that can’t afford to dress for the job through Dress for Success.

3)   Be a mentor.  There are thousands of young boys and girls looking for a role model in an organization called Big Brothers Big Sisters.  You can impact their lives at a young age and leave a lasting impression. There are also 1st generation college students on LinkedIn or part of your alumni network that could use you as their professional mentor and need your advice.

4)   Donate your time in a local food pantry or soup kitchen. You have to call the one in your area to find out what their specific need is, and the time you can visit to bring supplies or offer manpower. Organizations like the Red Cross and the United Way are always looking for volunteers to help as well.

5)   People are not the only ones in need this winter. If you are an animal lover, find a local animal shelter that needs supplies or spend time with these abandoned pets.   You can also provide temporary foster homes to animals that were rescued through agencies like Pet Foster Network.

6)   ‘Adopt a family’ programs match families in need with volunteers that can purchase items from their wish list. Your local Salvation Army, PTO, church, or a small non profit like Astor Services may have a list of families you can adopt this winter.

You can Google any volunteer program you are interested in to find the one closest to you. Doing something for others will help you, your family, and your community to remember the importance of being thankful this holiday season when so many lost so much.  I know it’s helped me.  President Barack Obama said, “We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals.”

Wishing all of you a wonderful Holiday Season, full of hope, peace, and compassion. 

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Cover Letters That Get You More Interviews

Cover letters are an over looked tool in the job search arena. Most job seekers do not write cover letters when applying for a position, and others do generic cover letters that do not make an impact.  I have contact with a variety of employers on a daily basis that offer their feedback on the topic.  Many say good cover letters (in the body of the email) are what gets someone to open the attached resume file.  In other cases cover letters are being read after looking at resumes.  When 20 candidates match the requirements, the cover letter helps decide which few to bring in for the first round of interviews. Make sure you make the cut.

Tips to writing cover letters that get interviews:

  • Prep-work is important. When applying for a job, the first thing to do is to sit down and highlight all the key words within the description. Then skillfully incorporate as many of those core requirements as you can into the cover letter with examples from your background.   The next step is to research the company and the industry jargon. Weave pieces of your acquired knowledge strategically within the cover letter.
  • Use LinkedIn’s many features or BranchOut on Facebook.  Find out what connections you have available to you for an inside peak at the company’s hiring needs or for a reference. Mentioning names in the body of the cover letter of other employees that work for there, helps to get interviews.
  • Never simply copy pieces of a job description into your cover letter or repeat what is on your resume. Make it unique to that employer by covering the ‘key words’.  Use the employer’s name a few times throughout the letter and address all of the employer’s needs.
  • Know your audience. **If applying for a position that requires writing samples (like that of an editor, publisher, reporter…), then be prepared for the cover letter to be scrutinized as a writing sample.  **A cover letter for different industries will never look the same. **Cover letters for managerial jobs will require more quantifiable data and referrals. **If you know who is reading your resume, tailor it to his or her style.
  • Cover letters for most jobs get screened by recruiters that want to believe they are making the right choice in selecting you. You gave them examples, and said plainly: —I have, I can, and I will. Do not be afraid to use “I”.  If it’s done with intent and backed with examples, it can give you credibility.
  • Mention you have a portfolio of your work you can share. Include websites or links in your cover letter that add value to your brand.  Share statistics, concrete data, and pack powerful information into your three paragraphs.
  • Always thank the recruiter for their time.  It’s a tough job finding talent. If the employer requested ‘’no phone calls or emails’’, then respect that. If not, then state in your cover letter that you will be following up. Contact the human resource department as stated to see if interviews began. Sometimes a call at the right time can get your resume reviewed.

A targeted cover letter can get you more interviews.  All it takes is three paragraphs to make an impact.  Recruiters want to read and determine you are a fit based on tasks you have done elsewhere, industry/company knowledge, and get a glimpse into your personality. Cover letters might be the most tedious part of any job search, but its definitely worth the time to help you stand out in the sea of resumes.

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5 Things You Need To Do In College Before You Graduate

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4 Reasons Why HR Never Called You For That Job Interview

It’s been over a month, and still no call from HR for that job you applied to months ago. There are a few things you need to keep in mind about what’s happening behind the scenes. You may never get a call back from human resource professionals for these 4 reasons:

1)Recruiters Don’t Have Time To Contact Everyone

Recruiters and human resource professionals are people just like us. They are trying to manage their tasks with limited time and resources. Keep in mind for every job they post, they often get hundreds of resumes. Most will not send you a follow-up letter, unless your resume made the cut.  Do not take it personally, most people in HR just don’t have the means to give an update to everyone that applies for a position.

2) The Job Was Taken Before It Was Posted

Some jobs are already accounted for even though you just saw it posted.  Positions you apply for are often already taken by internal candidates, referrals, or through those that networked their way to the opportunity before you applied. The company was required to still post the position to the public, and unfortunately the job was already taken before you sent your resume.

3)Your Online Presence Didn’t Make The Cut

Although your resume matched the job description, so did a large stack of 50 other resumes. When recruiters are staring at a heap of resumes that have the exact same experience and education, they often turn to social media to help them filter candidates. Only the top candidates with the best online presence, and that marketed their value proposition to match that of the employer will get called for the first round of interviews. Anything the employer sees as negative will weed you out, so will not having an online presence, or a social media profile that’s not a good fit for the job.

4)Resume Did Not Match The ‘Key Words’ In Job Description

Most people do not get an interview because their resume was not a good fit.  You may think you have a great resume, but did it match the job description you were applying for? Many companies are using advanced software to weed through applicants resumes. One of my contacts in HR said there were a hundred applicants that applied for the job she posted.  The software they used weeded out all the resumes that did not match the key word search, and gave her only 9 resumes to contact for interviews. So if your resume does not have the ‘key words’ an employer is looking for, then chances are that you will not be getting a call.

~~It’s the goal of HR to hire someone as fast as possible. They do not have time to interview everyone.  You may never get closure or a ‘thanks’ for most of the positions you apply for.  If you have a great branded resume and online presence, then keep networking on-line and off-line. Stay ahead of the situation and put yourself in places where you can connect with new people and follow job leads. Don’t get discouraged, but stay active and positive in your job search until you get that next interview.~~

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Success…Have You Arrived?

Everyone wants to ‘arrive’.  As individuals we often stop and take stock of where we are in life and career. Many today are looking to find their way out of a 50-hour workweek, wish they had a second chance, and are just unhappy with life.  So whether your house is grand or you live in a cozy apartment, success is the same for all of us. In order to reach the destination of personal fulfillment and be truly successful you need these 4 simple things in your life.

PEACE OF MIND:

Peace of mind is being content with the ‘now’ while working on a vision for the future. Too many of us carry excess baggage of things from our past, have a tough working environment, or are in a difficult relationship. Most people would be glad to forget their troubles and enjoy a few calm moments from their racing thoughts. If we can create harmony within, it’s the first step to achievement. It doesn’t matter what job we have or even if we are in a job search, the question is: “are you at peace with who and where you are today?’’

PAY IT FORWARD:

Martin Luther King said in a perfect world, we would all bear the light of altruism, and not selfishness. People that are helping others or practicing acts of kindness are just happier people. Not because they live on easy street, but because they positively impact lives. The ability to volunteer one’s time, energy, or resources are characteristics found in the most fortunate. Albert Pine said, “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.” In helping others, giving back to the community, or acting globally we leave a legacy behind.

ENERGY:

Going through life tired and sluggish, or wishing the day was over before its begun means you are depleted, and unable to enjoy life. Negativity, depression, and hopelessness keep us from achieving personal satisfaction. It’s important to take care of our physical vessel by getting exercise and eating right. Mind and body are connected. Successful people have found ways of refueling and have the vigor to greet each new day with enthusiasm.

STRONG SENSE OF SELF:

Love and accept the things you cannot change, and change the things that need an over-haul.  Confidence comes from loving who you are, and not blaming yourself for things beyond your control.  Those with a strong sense of self-esteem have conquered their fears and don’t take things personally. Self-confidence pushes aside self-doubt and replaces it with faith. People with a high level of self-worth can bounce back from life’s difficult situations.

~~ One of my favorite quotes ever penned is from Ralph Waldo Emerson. He said, “To laugh often and much; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”  Take inventory with the list above. Have you ‘arrived’? ~~

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Job Search in a Nutshell: The 3 Must-Do’s

Last year I won 1st place in JobMob’s 2011 blogging contest. This year’s article not only won a Grand Prize, but was also voted ‘Most Liked’. It was written for job seekers to maximize on the use of their time, energy, and resources.  Get started on these 3 must-do’s and take your job search in the right direction.

1) BEHOLD THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media profiles and an online presence matters in a job search. It always needs to be professional, it needs to promote your ‘brand’, and it needs to attract the right kind of attention. When recruiters get resumes, most are weeding out candidates by ‘googling’ their name and checking online to see the full picture.  Most hiring professionals will go onto Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to learn more about you. The image you created for yourself by your posts, tweets, and ‘likes’ are being scrutinized, so be careful what you share. Great online profiles and stronger brands get interviews when recruiters stare at the same skills on a large stack of resumes. You may have the qualifications, but if you don’t have a great online image you can lose out on opportunity.

2. LEARN SOMETHING NEW

How we define the situations we are placed in determines our action and how we are going to work towards the outcome we desire.  Action is a positive force.  Hopefully you have a friend, counselor, or family member that helps you stay optimistic in your job search.  While waiting for a job, use the time you have to get yourself and your resume more marketable.  Read job descriptions. If you do not have the skills needed for the job you want, you could use this time to acquire them. Read books related to your field, master that computer program you always wanted to, or get the certification you need to make your resume stand out.

3. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE

You have this extra time while waiting for a job to ‘pay it forward’ and help others. You also need to keep yourself charged with interaction out of necessity. Volunteer your time in a hospital, at campaign headquarters for the candidate of your choice, or for your favorite non-profit agency. Become involved with the local chapter of a professional organization (i.e. Accounting Society, American Marketing Association, etc). Even keeping up with the routine of going to the gym or attending events promoted by your town is good for you, and it’s good for your job search.  Being active and networking in person can cut months off your job search. Jobs are not just found by surfing the net, it’s often found by meeting the right person–at the right time.

Regardless of where you are in your job search today; be in motion, be hopeful, and be motivated to succeed. In any difficult transition we are in, the worst thing we can do for ourselves is ‘nothing’. Oliver Wendell Holmes said, ‘’the greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand today, but it’s in what direction we are moving.” 

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The ‘Job Search Trio’: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

Networking face to face in a job search by getting out of the house and meeting people is a necessity. Now pairing that with a social media strategy only increases your chances of getting hired faster. You should build a professional image that markets your skill set and is in sync with where you want to go on your career journey. You may be on LinkedIn, but you need to have a complete branded profile on more than just that site and learn how to utilize ALL social media has to offer you.  So join the fabulous ‘job search trio’ as I like to call it: Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. Or if you are on them, give them an overhaul to match your goals. Recruiters are googling your name, reviewing your online presence before they interview you, and making decisions on your social media image in addition to your resume.

FACEBOOK:

I still have career counselors tell me they never suggest Facebook to clients in a job search. That’s because they do not understand the power of a Facebook network. On LinkedIn the average job seeker may have 50 contacts, but on Facebook they may have a few hundred. There are several job search apps on Facebook to choose from. My favorites are Facebook’s MarketPlace and BranchOut. You can tap into your network of ‘friends’ and even ‘friends of friends’ to see if they work at those jobs posted. But in addition to opportunities you can locate common interest groups, find career related events, and follow companies. Just be careful of the personal information or pictures you share on this site.  Remember to use Facebook’s privacy features on anything that can bias an employer against you. That includes team sports, music, political preferences, and religious affiliations.

TWITTER:

Twitter is not for just for high school kids,  it’s for anyone that wants to expand the power of their brand marketing. With Twitter you can contact people you normally would not be able to reach on other sites. Twitter lets you follow recruiters and companies, it lets you tweet your job search and links of your virtual resume. Check out: www.twazzup.com/http://topsy.com/ for jobs pulled from Twitter. See what’s out there being tweeted by hiring professionals.  Twitter can help you reach your career goal if you know how to use it. It can be intimidating at first, but once you get started it can increase your potential outreach better than any other platform. Tweeting about ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ not good if in in a job search, but tweeting about career related topics is an excellent idea.

LINKEDIN:

In addition to using LinkedIn’s job postings, you can use its features to network your way to opportunity. LinkedIn has an Alumni feature that lets you connect with others from your alma mater that are already established. You can find and follow target companies, and see who from your network works there. It lets you join groups related to your job search goal, view events calendars, ask/answer questions, and it also happens to be a favorite hangout for recruiters to search profiles looking for new hires. LinkedIn has a wide array of services the average job seeker does not know about but needs to learn in order to job search more effectively. Share career related updates, build a network and attract as many viewers as you can to your branded profile.

~~There are many other great social media platforms out there that one can use to promote a branded presence online. I like Pinterest and many blogging sites as well, like tumblr and wordpress. I would love to hear from you what social media websites you like the best. If you are looking for your next job or simply looking to market yourself it’s a must to be on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. There are recruiters, jobs, and most importantly a network waiting for you to tap into.~~

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Examples of What to Write When Asking to Connect on LinkedIn

ALWAYS use a personal message in your invitation to connect with any other professional on LinkedIn. There is an art to networking, and it’s about building relationships. Never ask for a job. Job leads follow for those that are effective connectors.  Whether you find a contact you want to outreach to on Groups / Alumni Search / Answers / Events / Companies / or an Advanced People Search…the key is to relate to the professional on the other side of the screen.  Open Networkers or LIONs connect with others without a personal note, but for the rest of us on LinkedIn it can be deemed as rude.

When asking to join a new circle of influence try to connect with a common bond. Here are a few examples:

  • “I am a Columbia Grad as well (Class of ’95).  I noticed there are many of us employed in HR here in our Alumni group.  Are you still in touch with Professor Akabas’? Her course on Organizational Development was great. I was just thinking about her…Is it ok to collaborate here?”
  • “Hope its ok to connect here. I notice in LinkedIn Events you are going to be attending the Accounting Society Meeting next week. I am a new member, please tell me if you think that speaker is worth the drive?”
  • “Your advice on internet marketing in the Unified Communications Group offered insight to my idea for a start-up. What was your biggest challenge to success? I look forward to connecting here.”
  • “When I posted that question on LinkedIn Answers, I did not think I would get such a huge a huge response. Thanks so much for your feedback. I hope it’s ok if I join your circle here on LinkedIn? I look forward to your updates.”
  • “Hope you had a great weekend,  I look forward to connecting here. I am a 2nd degree connection. My father works in the Jersey branch of your company. I really liked the link you shared on Technology. I just applied one of the tips to my website. Let me know if you have other links to share.”
  • “I just read a great article I wanted to share with you. Hope it helps with the work you are doing at IBM.  I posted it to my updates.  Please, check it out and tell me what you think. I welcome comments. Hope it’s ok if we connect here? I am always looking to collaborate with other professionals.”

I do not respond to the system generated connection requests I get on LinkedIn.  But I do consider those where a note is included.  LinkedIn has allotted 300 characters to the personal email message you can use for outreach to professionals. Make those words count by mentioning a common bond you share, offering your insight, or simply by giving thanks.  People are more likely to connect with those that have given them a reason to be ‘online friends’ with. Your chance of finding job leads increases when you can build relationships.  Job leads follow those that have built relationships in many different circles and know how to maintain them.

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Networking for Recent Grads: How to Find and Connect with Alumni on Linkedin

LinkedIn is one of the most valuable networking tools available to professionals. Use its many features to connect with other graduates from your alma mater that are in your choice industry, that work for your target company, or that can offer advice related to your career.

For new 2012 graduates its key to have a 100% complete LinkedIn profile. Don’t reach out to anyone before you know ‘what you have to offer’.  Create a branded profile message with a great tag line, summary, and the core competencies you want to share with the professional world.  A part of having this complete profile is to list your college, degree and graduation date.  This will help you build your connections and network your way to job leads. Once your profile is complete you are ready to build your alumni network by utilizing just two of LinkedIn’s many features.

1) Go to www.linkedin.com/college/ to see a list of where other alumni from your college reside, the companies they work for, and what they do.  You can go into LinkedIn’s “Advanced” search feature in the people tab to find an exact match for all three of your criteria.  LinkedIn has made it quite easy to find established alumni and then outreach to them directly.

2) Join several LinkedIn Groups related to your industry and your career interests. Once a member, see who from your College is also a member by clicking on the ‘Members” tab within the group, and then putting in the school under ‘’Search Members’’ on the left.  In addition to joining groups related to your career goals, join your University’s alumni group(s) on LinkedIn to get information on events and share your articles or ask your questions.

ALWAYS use a personal message in your invitation to connect with alumni or any other professional on LinkedIn. Unless you give people a reason, no one will want to respond to you. There is an art to networking, and it’s about building relationships. Never ask for a job.  Job leads follow those that are effective connectors.

LinkedIn lets you connect with alumni and other key people that can assist you in your career journey. I just listed two easy ways to increase your contacts and your outreach power. Its up to you to form relationships on LinkedIn with these graduates from your University. There are many other ways to network. Just remember a key piece to effective networking is ‘giving’. Offer your advice, volunteer your services, and offer your job leads to individuals that reach out to you as well.

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