Why You NEED to be on LinkedIn

By Robert Mandelberg, CPRW

LinkedIn has quickly become an indispensible tool for job seekers and career-oriented people. It is a social networking site for people who understand the important role that personal relationships play in attaining their career goals. Far more effective and interactive than the big job boards, LinkedIn puts you in the driver’s seat of your job search.

When you join LinkedIn, you have the opportunity to do the following:

* Build a network of important contacts …
* Create a profile and post your resume …
* Join groups for your industry and profession …
* Post comments and join discussions relevant to your field.

Why are these benefits so important? Let’s take a look at four ways LinkedIn can help in your job search:

~ Enables you to be found by recruiters and hiring managers: Your profile, resume, and participation in LinkedIn groups will attract recruiters who are seeking candidates in your specialty. Additionally, once you establish contact with recruiters or employers, they likely will look you up on LinkedIn to see what you are all about. If you are not on LinkedIn, in many ways, you simply do not exist.

~ Enables you to find others: The search mechanism works both ways: If you have an interview scheduled, you can research your interviewer’s background, groups, and online discussions. This can make you much more prepared for your meeting. Even better, if you are targeting a particular company or individual, you can use your network to connect. And as you grow your list of contacts on LinkedIn, your network expands exponentially. Here’s how it works: Let’s say that you have 50 people in your network, and they each have 50 people in their networks. You are then able to tap into your contacts’ contacts, providing exposure to a network of 2,500 people! LinkedIn makes it easy to use your contacts to gain introductions. The key is to continually build your network with a broad range of individuals to maximize your search capabilities.

~ Helps build “expert status”: Once you join industry-related groups on LinkedIn, you are able to participate in discussions and share your views on relevant topics. This creates an online trail that is visible to others who are researching your background. You have a tremendous opportunity to position yourself as an expert and raise your credibility within your industry.

~ Verifies your achievements: While anyone can create a resume that boasts of his or her achievements, LinkedIn enables you to back up these claims with testimonials from others. Your background and accomplishments become so much more believable when others are willing to write an online recommendation for you.

Often people ask if their presence on LinkedIn will alert their current employers that they are seeking a new position. This is a possibility; however, LinkedIn can also be used to network for your company. If you can figure out a way to make your participation on LinkedIn related to your current job, then your presence on the site may not set off any alarms. In fact, you can connect to your boss and coworkers and initiate discussions relevant to your company’s goals and challenges. You can receive all of the benefits of memberships without explicitly announcing to the LinkedIn community that you are currently exploring new career opportunities.

It is also important to understand that simply being a member of LinkedIn will do little to help you reach your career goals. It requires effort on your part to build relationships, increase your visibility, and seek new opportunities.

Ready to sign up? Great! Feel free to connect with me once you are a member.

Tapping into the “Hidden” Job Market

By Robert Mandelberg, CPRW

When you learn how to tap into the unadvertised job market, your job-search will be much more productive and rewarding.

In the career-services community, it is a well accepted fact that approximately 80% of job openings are unadvertised. When I mentioned this to a colleague recently, she said this number is way off: It’s closer to 85-90%. One thing is for sure: More than ever, it is essential to be “at the right place at the right time” to achieve success in this increasingly competitive job market.

When you look at how companies seek candidates, this high figure makes complete sense. Think about how hiring is done where you work. When a position becomes available, does the company rush out to post the vacancy on Monster.com? Not likely. Most companies will first look internally for candidates and referrals. Additionally, company recruiters will use their sources, contacts, and databases long before they give up and offer the posting to a big job board.

And when a posting does make its way to a large job board, it can generate hundreds – or even thousands – of responses. How can anyone expect to stand out when their resume is among three or four thousand others? In fact, there is a good chance that your resume will never even be read if it not among the first few hundred received.

This is true across the board – from entry-level jobs through senior executive positions. If your job search strategy consists mainly of combing through big job boards for advertised positions, then you are missing out on four out of five openings. And it is highly likely that about 80% of job seekers are battling over those 20% of advertised positions. Does this mean that you should ignore the job boards? No, not at all. But let’s stop using them as the primary or only source of job seeking.

There is a much better way. But it entails more effort and commitment than simply scanning openings on Careerbuilders.com or Monster.com. By taking a proactive approach, you can bypass your competition and get your resume into the hands of the actual decision makers. Here is one strategy you can use to access the hidden job market:

Step #1: Identify your target position. The only way you capitalize on unadvertised job opportunities is by knowing what you are seeking in the first place. You must narrow down your focus to a specific position, level, and industry.

Step #2: Identify target companies. I realize that this is easier said than done, but once you narrow your job focus, you can then begin to make a wish list of companies where you would like to work. Through networking and online research (LinkedIn.com is a great source), you can then locate the hiring managers for the position you are seeking.

Step #3: Build your expert status by enhancing your credentials and increasing your online presence. Social networking, blogging, and article writing are three great ways to increase your online visibility and position yourself as a strong candidate once you begin to make contacts with hiring managers.

Step #4: Leverage your network of contacts to get an introduction into the company. Once you focus on your energies on contacting hiring managers on your list of ideal companies, you will be surprised how quickly you are able to gain introductions.

By switching your job-search strategy from passively combing job boards to proactively pursuing your ideal contacts, you will be in a much better position to be “at the right place at the right time” and take advantage of the unadvertised job market.

Attaining Career Happiness: Aiming for the Perfect Job

By Robert Mandelberg, CPRW, CEIP 

When I ask a client what type of position he or she is seeking, the response is usually along the lines of: “Well, I’ve been in purchasing the past 12 years, so I suppose I don’t really have a choice” or “My whole career has been in retail, so I guess that’s where I’ll be looking” or even worse, “I’ve been in real estate for over 20 years; I’m too old to try anything new.”

Do you see the common thread among these responses? There seems to be a feeling of being trapped. Doomed! Sentenced to live out the rest of their lives in careers they don’t like, can’t escape from, and are forced to endure.

A popular belief is that once you begin a career, you are powerless to change to something else. But is this necessarily the case? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons people feel compelled to continue in their careers even though they may not have passion for or interest in the work:

Comfort Zone: It is very difficult for people to go beyond the familiar into the unknown. For example, a nurse with ten years of experience is comfortable in a healthcare setting. She has developed strong clinical skills, knows her way around hospitals, and has a pretty good idea what to expect. No surprises. She may not be satisfied with her job, but the thought of venturing outside of her familiar environment is stressful and even terrifying.

Starting Over: A stock broker with 15 years of experience remembers the early days of his career: cold calling, learning the ropes, and getting stuck with the less desirable tasks. He has worked hard and paid his dues to get to the level he enjoys today. Why would he sacrifice his growth and achievements just to try something new?

Salary: Although it is possible to maintain or even increase levels of pay when switching careers, salary levels generally decline when entering a new field. And not to mention benefits! Once someone has worked up to five weeks’ vacation, it becomes difficult to think about going back to one or two weeks.

Given the above reasons, why on earth would anyone ever consider changing their careers? The truth is that there are a lot more factors at play than salary and comfort level alone. Job satisfaction is an important consideration. According to a 2005 national survey by The Conference Board, only 50% of all Americans are content with their jobs. And of these 50%, a mere 14% are “very satisfied.”

The issue is quality of life. What are you willing to do to achieve job satisfaction? Can you afford to sacrifice a little salary to gain peace of mind, more time with your family, and work that you actually enjoy? Don’t you want a career that makes you feel passionate, satisfied, and alive?

 The good news: For many, it’s not too late. You’re not too old. You can learn new skills. You can make a transition. You can improve the quality of your life!

 Okay, if you’ve been a marketing coordinator for 25 years in the steel industry in Pennsylvania, but your goal has always been to play centerfield for the Phillies, that ship may have already sailed. But! If sports is your passion, what would be the harm of sending a resume to the Phillies for a position in their marketing department? And if that doesn’t work, how about the Pirates? The 76ers? (well, maybe not the 76ers – you have to hold some standards!). Unless your financial obligations are so great that your family couldn’t survive any type of pay cut, then you owe it to yourself to at least investigate other options.

Here’s your action plan: Since you are already considering looking for another job anyway, make two lists. The first is your “safe” list. Write down all of the companies that would seriously consider someone with your credentials. This list will most likely focus on opportunities in or closely related to your existing industry.

But then make another list. This is your fantasy list - a list of jobs you’ve always wanted. Why should you spend the rest of your life in an unsatisfying career without at least trying to get your dream job?

Even if your ideal career is a one-in-a-million long shot, take a chance anyway; you have absolutely nothing to lose. Be creative, resourceful, and enthusiastic in your job search, and you may find yourself working in a career that brings you a wealth of enjoyment and personal satisfaction.

This is a risk-free strategy. Since you are applying to the safe jobs as well, you will not be losing any productivity on your higher percentage job search. And if you are unable to find your dream job – or if you investigate a career change and decide to stay in your current field anyway, then you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you at least made the attempt.

Your career and your future are in your hands.

Secrets to Great Thank You Letters

By Robert Mandelberg, CPRW, CEIP

You’ve prepared well for your job interview: You researched the company, answered all of their questions thoroughly, and made a great impression. But before you run home and indulge in a celebratory box of Fig Newtons, there’s still one more thing you have to do to complete the interview process: write a thank you letter.

Okay, let’s not hyperventilate; it’s not that difficult. It should only take you a few moments and it could very well be the final touch that brings you a job offer. Human resources professionals have varied opinions regarding thank you letters; some aren’t at all swayed by them, while others consider a thank you letter to be an important component of the interview process. In either case, sending a thank you letter is a wise decision because it is courteous and it reflects your professionalism.

Let’s discuss three types of thank you letters: standard thank you letter, follow-up letter, and hiring proposal.

 Standard Thank You Letter:

Just as the name implies, this type of letter expresses your appreciation to the interviewer for taking the time to interview you for the position. It does not go into great detail about you or the interview; instead it is an upbeat, concise note that simply fulfills your obligation of sending a thank you letter.

Follow-up Letter:

More in-depth than a standard thank you, a follow-up letter discusses specific issues that were brought up during the interview. Now that you’ve had a chance to learn about the employer’s concerns and needs, you can use the follow-up letter as an opportunity to demonstrate why you are the perfect person for the position. You can highlight the qualifications you believe match the position, overcome any objections that arose during the interview, and provide any other supporting information that will help your cause. Follow-up letters are generally one or two pages.

Hiring Proposal:

Here is where it gets interesting. A hiring proposal is a detailed report that states exactly what you intend to do if hired by the company. If you choose to write a proposal of this nature, you must have a full understanding of the company’s goals, capabilities, and resources. You clearly state what results you will accomplish and how you plan on accomplishing them.  When I create hiring proposals for my clients, I like to break it into 30-day, 90-day, and one-year goals. If you really want to make an impact to a prospective employer, commit to achieving measurable results and milestones within specified timeframes.

Is it better to mail or e-mail your thank you letter? Either way is fine; just make sure you send it. If you have been corresponding with the company via e-mail, then continue to do so. A mailed thank you letter is more formal, but still appropriate.

When should you send the thank you letter? A few days later? A week? The answer: Right away. The minute you get home. This is not a situation where you want to play hard to get. Write and send the letter immediately to let the employer know you are serious and enthusiastic about the job. If you wait a week, the job may already be filled.

So now your work is done. The interview went well, the thank you letter was sent. Feel free to raid the cupboard and lapse into a Fig Newtons frenzy. You deserve it!

What’s Killing YOUR Job Search?

By Robert Mandelberg, CPRW, CEIP
 
You know what it is. It’s that thing. That thing that holds you back. “It” stops you from: Landing a new job, obtaining a promotion, getting a raise, receiving a bonus, earning what you are worth, finding career satisfaction, in short – being happy. “It” is the very reason for your career misery. Without “it,” you’d be running the company by now.

“It” is different for everyone. But it’s there, lurking, keeping you up at night. If you are like many job seekers, you worry about that one flaw in your background. What is it for you? Don’t have your Master’s Degree? Or your Bachelor’s? Had too many jobs in too few years? Too few jobs? Have a whopping gap in your employment history? Been out of work too long? Are you too old? Too young? Don’t Speak Urdu? Only speak Urdu? Been fired? Demoted? Passed over for a promotion? Are you the wrong gender? Wrong size? Wrong nationality? Belong to the wrong country club? Well?? What is “it” for you? And most important, how on earth will you explain “it” on an interview???

What is important to understand is that very few people have perfect backgrounds. And if they did, their particular backgrounds may not be what every employer is seeking. Each of us brings a separate set of qualifications and value to a position. And each position requires different sets of skills, knowledge, experience, and training. The people you are competing against have their own unique combinations of strengths and weaknesses. They will be more qualified than you in some areas, and less qualified in others.

Instead of focusing your energies on creating stories to fend off attacks on your weaknesses, try concentrating on the value you are bringing into the position. You will find that employers are lot more receptive to hearing about why you will be an asset to a company – as opposed to why you won’t be a liability. So, while “it” may not be your strongest point, it’s probably not holding you back as much as you think it is. On your job search, be positive and be productive, and you will find success.

10 Deadly Resume Mistakes

By Robert Mandelberg, CPRW, CEIP
I am often asked for advice on creating knock-em-dead, interview-getting, Pulitzer-Prize-winning, blow- the-competition-out-of-the-water, super-cool resumes. In this article, however, I will discuss the exact opposite: Costly resume mistakes. Understanding what not to include on a resume can be just as helpful as resume pointers.If you’re in the beginning stages of building your resume, then you will want to be sure to avoid these blunders:

1. Resume is too random and generic; lacks focus. For fear of limiting their opportunities, many people are afraid to make a stand and commit to a target position or industry. Consequently, their resumes end up being too long and too general. Jacks-of-all-trades are generally passed up for specialists and experts with targeted focuses.

2. Too much emphasis on job descriptions and not enough on accomplishments. In most cases, your job title alone speaks volumes about your day-to-day responsibilities. It is far more effective to describe achievements and quantifiable results. Your duties are important, but not as much as how well you performed them.

3. Weak or general objectives. In most fields, you do not need to have an objective on your resume. A well- crafted “headline” or summary section is sufficient to provide the reader with a clear understanding of your target position.

4. Silly mistakes: This includes everything from hard-to-read type styles to wrong phone numbers to having unprofessional email addresses (listing your email as wildpartygirl123@aol.com on your resume won’t help your job search … or will it?)

5. Lying on resumes. It is very easy these days for employers to check into your background. Many companies hire outside agencies to perform pre-employment investigations. Adding a degree you don’t have or changing dates on your employment history or omitting jobs altogether are fairly simple to detect if the company does any checking at all.

6. Listing irrelevant information such as hobbies, interests, personal data, political or religious affiliations, or obscure memberships (wow, are you really the vice president of Milky Way Lovers International? You’re hired!).

7. Adding nonsense to “fill up the page.” Although it is unlikely you won’t be able to fill up a page with pertinent experiences and accomplishments, I would much prefer you creating quarter-of-a-page of high-impact achievements rather than a packed page filled with meaningless fluff.

8. There is no number 8.

9. Using tiny print or ridiculous margins to cram extra information onto the page. Do not be afraid to venture onto a second (or even third) page if the information is relevant and results-focused.

10. Sending a resume without a cover letter. At the very least, sending a cover letter is more professional than sending a resume by itself. Use it as an opportunity to highlight your value and point out specific reasons why you are the perfect candidate for the job.

Avoid these mistakes, focus on your unique value, and you will have a powerful and persuasive resume.

Jumpstart Your Job-Search: Roadmap to Success

By Robert Mandelberg, CPRW, CEIP

Whether you are making a career switch, rebounding from a layoff, or re-entering the job market, I’m sure you have a lot of questions about how to proceed. For many people, launching a job search is like being lost in a dense forest with no trails or signposts to lead the way. But don’t panic just yet! When you take a systematic approach, the process is very manageable – even exciting! This week’s job-search tip is designed to give you direction as you embark on your journey.

Step #1: Make a Plan

Instead of haphazardly jumping into a job search, it is best to create a strategy. Here’s how:

Identify your target job: This includes the industry, position, level, geographic area, salary range, etc. The more you know about what you are seeking, the more targeted you can make your job search. If you are staying in your current field, this part should be easy. If not, try your best to narrow down the choices.

Research: Once you’ve identified your target job, learn as much as you can about the requirements of this position. You can do this through internet research (company websites have valuable information), industry publications, and best of all – networking with friends, family, and business contacts in the field.

Prepare the materials needed for your job search: Resume, cover letter, references, and other supporting documentation. The resume and cover letter should be tailored toward the position or field you are pursuing.

Step #2: Take Action

With your plan in place, you are ready to launch a full-scale job-search campaign. So what now? Help wanted ads? Post a resume to job boards? Send resumes unsolicited? Try a headhunter? The short answer: yes to all! Although each method by itself will usually yield minimal results, using all of the above methods will get you to your goal much faster.

The most effective way to find a job is networking with friends, family, and associates. Once you spread the word that you are seeking a position in a particular field, you will be amazed at how many opportunities present themselves. Many times the connection is vague: A friend of a friend has an aunt who has an opening in her company; but sometimes the connection is much closer. Often your contacts are not aware of how they can help you in your search. It is your responsibility to let them know.

Step #3 – Job-Search Journal

While making a lot of quality contacts is an excellent way of ensuring a successful job search, it is equally important to be organized and keep detailed records of your actions. Each time you send a resume, speak to an employer, or go on an interview, you must record it in a journal. Be sure to include the name of the contact, the gist of the conversation, and any follow-up action that you plan to take. This will enable you to track your results, increase productivity, and reduce duplicate efforts.

Do you want your job search to end quickly and successfully? Then work productively. Make as many quality contacts as possible. What is a good number to aim for? I advise clients to make at least 25 contacts per week. Through networking, social media, recruiters, and direct contact with companies, this number will not be difficult to attain. With a little motivation, you could probably double that number easily. Maintain a positive attitude, keep up your productivity, and in no time at all, you will have your share of interviews.

Good luck and happy job hunting!

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