Archive for June, 2014

How to Network For A New Job — Without Losing Your Current One

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Ah, the age old conundrum: How do you get out of that job you sort of hate, without losing that job you sort of hate?

OK, maybe you don’t hate it. But if you’re looking to exit stage left (ASAP) from your current job, how do you network with other professionals—the very people who may be instrumental to your forward progress—without tipping off your colleagues (or, worse, your boss)?

Carefully, that’s how. Very carefully. Here are just a few ideas to help you pull it off.

1. Approach Networking With Genuine Interest, Rather Than Obvious Job Search Intent

If it’s imperative for you to keep a lid on the fact that you’re searching, you don’t want to approach relative strangers and immediately bust out the details about what you’re up to. Because guess what? Those relative strangers may know your boss, your colleagues, or your clients. Not ideal.

A better way to go about it is to approach people who may be helpful to the hunt in a curious, genuine manner. Ask them about their jobs, their companies, and the things they enjoy most. Probe, without coming right out and saying, “I want a job at your company. Can I give you my resume?”

Instead, be interested in and interesting to the people you approach. You can gather tons of good information about a prospective employer using this method and, if you build enough rapport and trust with this person, you may feel comfortable revealing your intentions as the conversation unfolds.

2. Be Aware of Your LinkedIn Messaging, Especially in the Headline and Summary

While you most certainly want to align your LinkedIn headline and summary sections to the requirements and preferences of your target audience, don’t make it obvious that you’re up to something.

For instance, if you’re currently working in a territory sales position but want to shift into corporate finance, it’s going to look a bit fishy if, all of the sudden, you’re showcasing nothing but your finance strengths on LinkedIn. Certainly, you can—and should—weave some of this messaging in (and reach out to people in the financial sector as you network), but keep in mind that your current boss and co-workers may be popping by your profile. And, yes, they’ll wonder what you’re up to.

Likewise, if you join any career or job search related groups on LinkedIn, hide the logos from your profile. Nothing screams “Hey, I’m looking!” quite like a bunch of job seeker group logos.

3. Consider Volunteering at, Instead of “Attending” Certain Networking Events

I worked with a client—a covert job seeker—who revealed that he’d recently attended a local career networking event. Five minutes in, he bumped into the director of marketing at his current employer. Hello, awkward moment. He still can’t look her in the eye, and it’s been three weeks.

One great alternative to this scenario is to consider volunteering at job search networking events. Just call up the coordinator and see if she needs someone to work the registration desk or help out with other tasks. That way, you get all of the benefits of the networking opportunity (typically, at no cost), and if you bump into the director of marketing? You have a perfectly good explanation for being there.

4. Be Careful Who You Tell

People love to blab. They just love to. So, for the love, don’t count on colleagues (unless they are beyond tight confidants) to keep mum when you whisper, “I’m trying to get outta here” in their ears. Pick your networking people wisely.

Likewise, when you begin interviewing, be sure and emphasize to everyone in your path (including recruiters and prospective employers) that your search is confidential. Mention it more than once.

It’s definitely tricky navigating a career transition when you’ve got to fly under the radar, but it’s by no means impossible. Networking will (truly) get you everywhere in job search, so don’t scrap it entirely out of fear you’ll get caught.

Instead, get scrappy. And strategic. You may have a job that you sort of hate, but don’t lose it before you’ve landed that job you really love.

Some Job Search Advice You’re Taking Too Far

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

As a job searcher, you’re doing everything right. You have your interview answers perfectly scripted out, you tailor each and every resume you send in, and your LinkedIn connections far outnumber your Facebook friends. Every piece of job hunt advice that you’ve ever heard or read, you’ve put into practice.

But that ever-elusive job offer still hasn’t crossed your desk. What gives?

While the job search advice you’re following may be on point, the way you’re using it may not be helping your cause as much as you think. For a lot of tips, there’s a fine line between using it correctly and going a bit overboard (or even in the wrong direction).

Read on for a few great job search tips—and how they may be working against you.

Good Advice: Make Connections on LinkedIn

LinkedIn can be a job searcher’s dream. Through your connections, you may find that you have a link—and an immediate in—to your dream company. So, creating and cultivating new connections is extremely beneficial.

Taking it Too Far

Blindly clicking “connect” on hundreds of profiles and sending the generic invitation might land you a few extra connections, but it won’t get your profile a second glance.

Instead, you should first search for contacts from your email address book. Then invite them—but make it personal. LinkedIn will give you the option of sending a default ‘connect with me, please’ message, but don’t use it—sending a personal note will set you apart right from the start.

Casting a wide net is beneficial, but only if you truly have some sort of link to those target connections. This is where LinkedIn’s “People You Might Know” feature comes in handy—to suggest classmates, colleagues, and former co-workers that you might not have previously thought of.

Good Advice: Explain That You’re the Best Candidate for the Job

Obviously, you want your potential employer to fully understand that you’re a great candidate; that you have all the skills you need to succeed in the position and that you’re the best man or woman for the job. So, it’s important to convey confidence in those abilities at every step in the process, from your cover letter to your interview questions.

Taking it Too Far

Overconfidence can actually be a downfall, as I learned from a hiring manager recently. I was in his office, talking about my writing experience. He asked me if I’m dissatisfied with my writing. “Of course,” I told him. “Sometimes I look back at things I wrote and wonder what in the world I was thinking.”

He chuckled knowingly and explained that he’d just interviewed a young man, fresh out of college, who answered the same question by asserting that he never wrote anything he didn’t like. And for the recruiter, that was actually a bad thing. You see, he wanted someone who not only had a realistic idea of the job (in this situation, that you’d have to write a lot of copy—quickly—and probably wouldn’t have time to make each piece perfect), but also had the desire and capacity to learn and grow. In the end, the somewhat over-confident graduate wasn’t deemed a good fit for the job.

While you shouldn’t discount your abilities (and you should certainly make a convincing case for yourself), there’s a big difference between showing confidence that you can do the job and conveying so much confidence that you end up coming across as arrogant or naïve.

Good Advice: Practice with Mock Interviews

Interviews are tough—and you want to make sure you’re prepared. So, asking a friend to help you run through practice questions is a great way to help you organize your thoughts, learn how to structure standout answers, and prepare yourself for the potentially stressful and awkward environment.

Taking it Too Far
Believe it or not, over-preparing for interviews can actually be detrimental to your chances of landing the job. It’s just as bad (or worse) to over-rehearse than it is to fly entirely by the seat of your pants.

When you have too many memorized answers packed in your brain, you’re more likely to spend the interview trying to remember each scripted answer, rather than engaging in the conversation. The back-and-forth will seem unnatural and forced, and you’ll likely come across as insincere.

Instead, spend the majority of your prep time thinking over your career experience to date, jotting down a few bullet points about specifics you want to hit on. Think about what you’re most proud of, what you struggled with, what you learned from the struggles, where you developed management skills, how you got to be so good at problem solving, and so on. When you’re confident with the specifics of your story, you’ll have a much easier time drawing from your experiences and articulating your worth, no matter what you’re asked.

Good Advice: Use the Job Description to Tailor Your Cover Letter and Resume

When a hiring manager reads your application, you want him or her to immediately recognize how your background and experience make you the perfect candidate for the job. So, use the job description as a guide to fill your resume and cover letter with the right skills and experiences.

Taking it Too Far

Pulling keywords from the job listing and slapping them on your application materials probably won’t have the effect you’re going for. When you include every phrase from the job description, including generic staples like “hard worker,” “fast learner,” and “excellent communicator,” you’ll take up a lot of valuable space—but you won’t actually convey to the recruiter that you’re any of those things.

Instead, pull skill- and experience-based qualities from the job description (e.g., “hands-on experience with Google Analytics” or “experience with Object Relational Mapping frameworks”), and then show how (by using your past accomplishments and responsibilities) you meet those requirements.

Then, in the interview phase, you’ll have more opportunities to showcase those soft skills (like having a thirst for knowledge or being a quick learner) by telling anecdotes of how you’ve displayed those qualities in your past jobs.

As you can see, good job search tips can turn into bad advice pretty quickly. But by taking a step back and reevaluating your approach, you can get back on track in no time.