References….. it is not clear why companies ask for them because you would probably never use someone as a reference unless they tell a great story about you! Well, it is a part of the process so you better take care of it. Step one is to secure the references.
Let’s first look at what groups you probably are associated with that can be part of your network:
Family; certainly via the inlaws, cousins, partners of siblings and their siblings, this can grow into a sizable network
Friends; time to catch up with them!
Church; your choir buddies or ministry friends
School; your old high school friends and their partners, college friends and their partners
The question with lots of networks online is how effective they are for our purpose. Certainly you can reach a large group of people but effectively networking online is difficult if you do not have any other relationship with the people in that particular network. So forget Instagram, Tinder and Snapchat, but look at some other networks that may help:
Some online networks are perfect for networking like LinkedIN and Execunet. These network sites make it possible to connect with people through others who know them. Also you can actively participate in forum postings and make yourself known that way.
Facebook may have a large overlap with the LIVE groups above and the same for Twitter, although twitter is a great job search tool.
Meetup is a bit of a hybrid as it is an online community but they organize real physical meetings for professionals. Network after work is similar and brings together people who want to network.
Nextdoor is a community with verified neighbors in your community, although you may not know them very well, you know that they are somewhere close and they could give you great tips about jobs in your area.
Next step, cultivate the contacts and ask for a reference:
If you are anything like me you don’t like to ask for help and don’t like to blow your own horn. So networking is a chore and difficult. It is time-consuming, you end up getting lots of information that you really could do without but you need to retain most of it or your network people will get upset that you forgot their great story.
To ease into the networking start with emailing your friends and family (personal and not as a group email) and give them an update on your situation and that you are looking for new opportunities.
Look at the calendars from every organization you are a member of and sign up for any and all the webinars, lunches, meetings, may be a course etc. The more people you meet the more you’ll talk with people the more opportunities you’ll have to sell your elevator speech and leave a card.
Stay for coffee after mass this time and don’t run home for coffee. Introduce yourself to a few people and get familiar with what they do, then add your story.
People generally love it when you ask them about their situation. They will gladly fill you in with sometimes surprising amounts of details. After you have listened for a while you then provide them with a short and sweet version of your elevator speech. Make sure they understand you are looking for something and what that is and ensure they have your contact details.
People that you know better and that you have worked with you can approach and ask them for a reference. They usually would feel flattered and agree to be a reference for you and then you can also bring up in general what you are looking for.
The reference finding process works for you in several ways, so work on your story and start today!
Over my career, I have seen so many people lose their job and get into panic mode and immediately start interviewing for a similar job with the next company down the street.
But wait, let me tell you about the Mink farm that I used to work at during my student years. The Minks were kept in blueish cages in rows and my job was cleaning, giving them shots of medicine and food. The Minks, by lack of any other entertainment, were the whole day pretty much occupied with biting the steel of the cages and from time to time I would come across an empty cage. Panic!! They are pretty dangerous in the wild so we would run out of the barn and one of the regular employees would come in and re-appear within an hour or so with the Mink put neatly back in the cage.
We wondered how he did that so successful and he gave me a valuable lesson for life.
He said: ” The Minks don’t know anything but the cages they are in, so what I do is, I put capture cages, similar color to the ones they just left, on the floor/ The Mink who escapes will fall on the floor and after realizing what just happened look around and see a strange new world. The possibilities are endless but, then they spot my capture cage and they are too afraid of the big unknown that they run straight back into the cage and Presto! I got them and they are back in the row of cages”.
This got me thinking. When we loose our jobs we are so used to our corporate environment that our immediate response is to search for these familiar environments and run back as soon as we can back into the corporate cage. But you are so much more than your corporate job, you are so much more than your company profile, you have so many more talents than the ones that the company uses, that you owe it to yourself to see the dismissal from the company as an encouragement to review where you are in life and to see if this is what you want to do until retirement. Like the Mink that got away, you will be dazed after the initial shock of being let go. Then you will look around and see a strange unknown world around you and you should realize that the opportunities and possibilities are shear endless. Unfortunately the job-boards lure you back to similar environments and the one you just left and before you know it, you’ll be back in a similar corporate job.
Yes there are the realities of bills that need to be paid but try to work through that and make an inventory of all the skills, knowledge and experiences you have. Put all of that against what you want to do in life and if bill payment becomes an issue, do not shy away from taking a job with a temp agency until you have figured out what you want to do with the rest of your life. Turn this threat of being let go around into an opportunity to utilize all of your untapped talent and resources to go do what you actually want in life.
Just don’t be like the Mink!
So you couldn’t handle it anymore; the boss was a @#^@%$ and the co-worker a #%&$%^$!! and so you just told them to go and have a happy life but without your contribution and you quit!
That must have felt great the moment you did it and the morning after but then when you sit down behind the computer to search for other job opportunities it strikes you that most recruiters seem to take an interest in why you left the previous job.
As is the case with many decisions in our life, all decisions are great at the time we take them. Some decisions, however, we regret years later, some we regret seconds later but a part of taking decisions is that you always may come to regret them later when circumstances either have changed or additional criteria start entering your decision model. Don’t look back too much, you can’t run your life looking in the rearview mirror but keep focused on the path forward. Remember the decision was great at the time you took it so stop blaming yourself and use your brain capacity to work on your next phase in your career.
Never lie about quitting the job, you can’t introduce an uncertain situation that they may ever find out what happened at the start of a new career with a different company. My suggestion would be to be realistic and ensure the recruiter looks at it your way, a favorable way. Unless someone leaves for a giant opportunity, quitting a job without the next one lined up is being frowned upon. Although there are as many situations as there are people, and every situation is slightly different, there are circumstances that we see regularly;
You are probably familiar with the story about the glass; is it half full or half empty (and the engineer will tell you it is not properly sized). You want your prospective employer and their recruiters to get the right perspective on your situation (glass is half full) and so you need to ensure you find the proper way to tell your story like that.
Never try to explain them in detail exactly what happened. They won’t get it, they don’t know the players, they don’t know the company, they don’t know how the interaction was.
If your reason for leaving was job-related, speak in general terms; ” this job wasn’t good for me anymore”. This will suggest that you’ve had a period initially where the job was good but after things developed it was time for you to go. Next explain why you quit without another job being lined up also in general terms, think about things like “Staying would have been the easiest path but I don’t necessary go for the easy path and by leaving this job I could power charge my efforts to progress my career”.
If your reason for leaving had nothing to do with the job content but rather with your performance, or the performance as perceived by your boss, you will need to carefully craft your answers, again, not blaming the past boss but emphasizing the good stuff. Be general in your answer and consider things like: “My work was over time no longer appreciated as it had been in the past. With changes of the people around me, the focus in the company and the views on the path forward, I decided that there are other challenges, like the one in your company, that will fit my ambition and contributions a lot better.” In summary:
We can help you craft your message. Contact us and lets talk (302) 316-5627 (that’s 302 316 JOBS) first consult always free.
Weeks with no answer from the recruiter on your carefully composed application! Hmmm, that happens alas all to often! It is rude not to inform your candidates who have taken the effort to declare their candidacy for employment at your company, about the results. Fear for allegations of discrimination or difficult questions about the recruitment process are often the cause for this. It is a reality unfortunately and consider this; the companies that don’t care about getting back to prospective employees may not be the companies you want to work for anyway.
Having said that, there are many cases where your application will fall between the proverbial cracks. You need to stay alert and be diligent in following up with the companies you have applied for.
In a case very near to me the applicant didn’t hear back, phone calls unanswered, phone messages not returned, emails unanswered so eventually the candidate called to find out what was going on. Well it turned out the recruiter had been dismissed and, may be out of spite, had taken files with him and so the HR department was at a loss to know who their candidates were. A quick re-submission of the application resulted in a great job!
You will not all get that lucky, but see this as an encouragement to continue to explore vacancies when you don’t hear back. A quick email after two weeks is not uncommon.
Keep it positive, suggest that you can provide additional information, mention that you are still very motivated to do the job and that you are eager to find out what the next steps in the procedure are. In my career in HR in large companies I have seen how applicants sometimes due to internal political wrangling had to wait for over one or more months to eventually be the best candidate and then were asked to come for an interview and got offered the job overnight. It happens, don’t get discouraged. Big companies have lots of red tape to work through.
Finding the right email address to direct your question to is another hurdle. The recruiters won’t have their emails on the job posting in all cases and in larger companies where you have to provide a profile in an automated system there is totally no option to get a name or email from either the hiring manager or the recruiter. You can try to call the switch board for an email address or name in HR but that will most likely not work. See if you can find any email address on the company’s site and use a general email address to send your inquiry. If anything, you will be seen as someone who is eager and persistent. Also consider this…… What is the worse that can happen? They don’t hire you? Well that was why you inquired in the first place.
So the summary is; be persistent, be polite, be positive and get on with it!
Is your career stuck or not started yet? Trouble with your resume? We can help. Mail your message and resume to ResumeReview@icoach4careers.com and we will give you three great tips to improve your options to get interviews. Absolutely free of charge!
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Check out a new service to create your resume. Visualize.me has a, free with options, offering that will help you to get started. Your resume will be displayed in an infographic. Various templates are available and you can customize to your heart’s delight. The service is free but has options to upgrade and get access to even more options and graphics.
The question is what the potential employer will do with this novel resume. There are certainly areas where this resume will appeal to the recruiter, design firms will be one, smaller start up companies is another and there will be more probably. It is not sure if a bank will appreciate the departure from the good old resume format but you can always try and get some feedback. If they want differently formatted information you can always supply that later.
A bigger problem will be the software used by many companies to parse the resumes and feed their talent selection system. These pieces of software may not work that well with this nice format and so you may need to manually enter all your information anyway.
Certainly during an interview you will make a lasting impression when you provide an infographic to your interviewers and also on job fairs this may proof a great tool and discussion starter.
We are curious about how this will help or hinder, share your experiences with us via firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, unless you were going to interview with Google back in the days they asked the weirdest questions (which they stopped as it did not produce any better results than a structured interview[update oct 2016: apparently their questions are more to the point but hugely overbearing, see this article]), you can prepare yourself for the questions the interviewer will most likely ask. Ready with your toolbox prepared and rehearsed, you should not have any problem answering questions. Still there are some that, as we mentioned in the Career Summary part, you need to think through carefully.
Questions like “Can you tell me about your best result during your last employment?”. The interviewer is not just curious about what that great success was but also how you approach the question. Do you take a business result as your greatest result or a personal improvement, or a situation where you had to stand alone against a crowd of nay sayers? Is it a company result, a department result or a personal result. Will you credit a team effort and your role in it or just boast about your heroic deed, or highlight the process that took place.
Another all time favorite is asking about a conflict situation and how you dealt with it. Again the interviewer won’t just be interested in the actual conflict and please spare them the “he said she said” part of it, but the interviewer is more likely interested to see how you approach conflict, if you recognize what kind of conflict it is, if you accept that conflict is part of regular work life and have found ways to deal with it in a constructive manner.
Then you may also get a barrage of hypothetical situation questions. Try to get to the point quickly, the interviewer knows it is a hypothetical question so they don’t necessarily care about the right or wrong answer, but they will care about how you approach the situation. So if the hypothetical question centers around conflict, leadership or tight deadlines quickly move on from talking a bit about the presented situation to the more general approach you have towards conflict, leadership and time management.
Think about the upcoming potential interview and write down the questions you really don’t like to get. You will have seen the questions that scare you most or that make you think too long for comfort, so let’s list those on the chart with nightmare questions and face them now. If you get stuck, let us know.
For the aficionados, here a range of sources with advice on a whole host of questions and how to answer them.
The list can go on for a while but Yahoo and Google will do a better job than I in finding these links.
You will have seen the questions that scare you most or that make you think too long for comfort, so let’s list those on the chart with nightmare questions and face them now. If you get stuck, let us know.
If you have worked on your resume long enough, have sent it to several potential employers and still get no interviews, we may be able to help.
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You think that you are close to having all squares neatly in one color and then you need to mess it all up again to make progress to the final stage.
Well that’s how your career can be, you think you have a great position, the boss is happy, your team is happy, so what is there not to like? The issue is that you may need to have another piece of experience before you can move up the ladder. This may mean having to accept a position that is not necessarily a promotion but maybe a sidestep or demotion. It may also be that you need experience in another region or location or business before you can move up to bigger and better things.
Making a sideways move can be intimidating, certainly when it involves uprooting the family and moving house, region or country. So why do it? Well if you want to be a well rounded professional and a senior player in the company you will have to be prepared to get the right profile. If it is not possible to get that experience where you are now or at the level you are now, you need to be prepared to, temporarily move somewhere else and come back to reap the benefits.
Moving sideways or voluntarily, for career purposes, taking a downgrade is not without risk. You could get stuck in the new position and not be able to find your way back and not get the intended benefit out of the move. It certainly helps if you have a, formal or informal, mentor in the company who monitors your progress.
Here are some tips to bear in mind when you are planning your career:
Remember always up and up is not the most likely way to get to the top, roses and trees need to be carefully pruned before they can shine, similarly careers need to be pruned and tuned before they will produce the desired result.
Although it may be difficult to navigate an automated recruitment system when you do not have the diploma that is required for the position, it is never all about the education. You probably know the stories about MIT or STANFORD educated people who fail to be successful at jobs and people who came to the top with just a High School education.
After some years of experience you will find; it is not about “the right” education but about doing the right things with the education you have.
Often also presented as; it is not about getting married with “the right” partner but more about doing the right things with the partner you married.
It is attitude that plays a major role and continuing to work on yourself. If you can imagine that you (or your career) is a product that you try to get people interested in, then you need to work on it every year and implement changes and improvements along the way. Doing the right things means looking out for opportunities to embrace, continuing to educate yourself in the area you want to be active in. Be a member of the right associations, go the conferences or meet ups and be a player in your field. It will give you a broad range of ideas and topics to discuss during interviews and you probably broaden your network at the same time.
In planning your day, planning your career, working your job, attending a festival, attending a job-fair, going on vacation, planning a party etc. it is always about the pre-work. I can not emphasize more how important planning and pre-work is.
Yes I have been on vacation without any pre-work. Let’s just go and we’ll see what happens……. only to find out when you are back home that you were actually a few miles from something great to see or experience.
Well like wise with attending job fairs. You must plan ahead and check out the companies that will be there. Usually there is a website that will list them or you can search information about last year’s event or just ask the organization ahead of time for a list of companies.
You don’t want to come back home and find out after the fact that you missed visiting with a company that is on your favorites list. It is a lot of work but you really need to ensure that you do your homework on the companies that are out there. Make sure you bring copies of your resume but don’t just print off 5o copies of the same resume, you will tweak the resume to the companies where you intend to apply. Highlight some skills that would be of interest for a particular company and provide them with the resume that you have tweaked to best show how you would fit their profiles.
“Dress to impress” so they won’t forget you were there and make sure you follow up by putting your information into the online recruiting system, as companies these days tend to only accept applications that way and try to mention your visit and chat with the company recruiters on the job fair somewhere in your application.
Other than that, keep your smile, also with the last company you visit! Remember you maybe talking to your future colleagues.