Archive for April, 2016

5 Strategies for LinkedIn Job Searching

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

LinkedIn has been called the Facebook for professionals… or MySpace (dated reference) with ties. From humble origins, it has grown to become the premier professional networking site, par excellence, throughout the internet, and despite the company’s various attempts to hide its more useful features, especially for job seekers and recruiters, behind pay walls and “premium accounts”, for the most part it is still free and open and certainly one of the best tools a passive or active job seeker has available.

However, as anyone who has been a member for any length of time (and received the countless spam messages from sales and marketing professionals in India) will know, LinkedIn can be used properly and then it can be abused and what goodwill you might have generated may be quickly squandered. Nothing like putting your foot in it when thousands of people are watching. And the more connections you have collected, the more opportunities there are for that grand faux pas that has sunk the career of more than one actor, politician, sports star, and internet thug on Twitter or Facebook.

So how then does one effectively use LinkedIn for a job search without abusing it and without falling into the trap of trying to do “too much”, to the ire of connections and staff admins alike? Here are a few basic tactics to employ that don’t require a premium account or paying for InMails:

Follow a company. You will get updates on who in your network moved where. While it’s interesting to see who the “New Hires” are, more important is where they came from, as these might point toward openings at their old company. Also note what their new positions are to get an idea of a possible career path. And, of course, a company’s “Recent Departures” list also lets you know of openings.

Mine new contacts for even newer ones. Every time someone connects to you, look through his or her list of contacts. View the profiles of those that intrigue you, and reach out to a few of them, citing things like common interests, schools attended, and shared company experience, or even just mention photos they’ve posted… LinkedIn allows people to put up so much content — slide shows, groups, awards, reading lists, articles, blogs, Twitter streams — it’s very easy to find a common reason to connect.

Connect with highly visible people. Search on terms like “speaker,” “author,” “writer,” “coach,” “trainer” “evangelist,” “sales,” “keynote,” “award-winning,” or “expert.” These people are often uber-connectors with thousands of connections. When you find one in your field (or a related one), search for him or her on the Web to find something he or she has written, and send a thoughtful comment or compliment. Make sure it’s sincere. If you get a good response, follow up with an invitation to connect, but don’t pester the person if he or she ignores you. These well-connected types are very busy people. A visit to the person’s Website might reveal an upcoming speaking engagement in your area. Whatever you do, respect an uber-connector’s time. Recruiters are in their own category; they often have connections in the thousands and knowledge of job openings, but they are also overwhelmed. If you contact them, make sure you give them a good reason to link and try to be memorable.

Connect to “interesting” people. Search on an unusual interest of yours to see who else has it. You might get ideas about career direction, or a contact might be able to give you a job lead. Imagine you’re a medical assistant who likes dancing. A search on “flamenco dancer” brought up this title for one person: “Medical Doctor, Wellness Expert, International Speaker, Life Coach, Author & Flamenco Dancer.” You could reach out to say, “Wow, another person in health care who loves flamenco!” It’s a long shot, but life is made up of such coincidences.

Leverage even weak links. I once got an interview by sending a message through LinkedIn to one of my contacts, with whom, truthfully, I was only loosely connected. Not only was she someone I’d never met in real life, but I’d turned her down for an interview! (I got a job offer elsewhere.) A year after our initial connection, I was job searching again, and I noticed she was connected to someone I was targeting. It was gutsy of me to do, but I felt I had nothing to lose, so I contacted her. She forwarded my resume, and I got the interview.

Some people are keen to update their profiles to “Job Seeker” or put something rather desperate sounding in their current title or job description (like “Looking for the Next Great Opportunity!” or “THE Candidate You’ve Been Looking for!”). Always seems a little desperate and likely to attract the wrong sort of attention from recruiters and hiring managers. While it’s always good to be honest about your current job status, no need to wave around being unemployed like dirty underwear.

Get started on LinkedIn BEFORE you are out of work, so you have the resources in place beforehand and it doesn’t look like you’ve joined or become suddenly active only because you’re looking for a job. Then you’re free to use LinkedIn like your online resume for both passive and active opportunities that come up.

Good luck!

5 Tips for Using LinkedIn During Your Job Search | Maureen Nelson via Quint Careers

Using Assessment Tests to Determine Your Career Path

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

You may have tried one back in high school: your school guidance counselor gathered all the juniors and seniors together and handed out these standardized tests to determine what you should be when you grow up, to help in making plans for college. Of course, they were supposed to be all about what you should be and not what you wanted to be, but you could still skew the results that way if you weren’t careful (or didn’t care). I remember all the bars showing what areas best suited my responses… and all of the lines were very short except for one (turns out, as things go, it was the wrong one). Plenty of other people were told they should be park rangers because of a love of horticulture… many laughs all around.

So if you can skew them so badly and some seem to pull answers out of thin air, are the more sophisticated ones useful for those of us who have left high school and even college far behind?

Are you wondering what career you should go for? Are you looking to make a career change mid-life but still feel like you don’t really even know what you want to do when you grow up? Your resume is great for telling you where you’ve come from, but would a self-assessment test like, say, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the DiSC Profile, or the Strong Interest Inventory, be helpful in pointing your way forward?

Well, we’ve checked with a number of professionals on the subject to see what they think:

Matching your personality, preferences and natural abilities to the kinds of requirements of work, pressures and environments of a given career can be one among many predictors of your ease of achieving success. When you work at a job that aligns well with your personality, it will likely feel natural… Assessment tools like Myers-Briggs can enable you to understand your preferred way of getting energy, perceiving information, making judgments and organizing your life. This tool assesses people in terms of their inherent tendency toward being Extravert or Introvert (E or I), Sensate or I(N)tuitive (S or N), Thinking or Feeling (T or F) and Judging or Perceiving (J or P). Your overall personality is the combination of one of these choices in each of the four category sets.

There are many ways that various tests dissect human personality and behavior and correlate them to types of jobs that fit well. For example, individuals oriented toward working with things and ideas might fit well as scientists, forensic types or in other problem-solving fields. Alternatively, people orientated toward working with ideas might do well as writers, artists, or other creative types.

Of course, it might be that you have a particular interest in a field that isn’t generally associated with your personality type (which is what kept skewing my results on those tests in high school). Though you may be able to handle that type of job, it will feel less natural and take more energy to get it done properly – like writing with your nondominant hand. It isn’t that you can’t or shouldn’t do the job. But it certainly shows the limitations of the tests that focus on your responses.

Testing is one of many considerations that should go into deciding on one’s career direction. The various personal assessment tests have value insofar as they can help an individual in the process of self-discovery. I’ve always been partial to the 360Reach survey. With this tool, a person surveys friends, colleagues, relatives, or others. The results can provide valuable feedback about how you are seen and help you determine what differentiates you from everyone else in the marketplace. This tends to work better than the usual surveys limited to people with whom you work.

Of course, the MBTI test is often required by employers to aid in their candidate assessment, so understanding how you respond to this test can be beneficial in determining whether your potential employer will consider you a good fit, not just in terms of competency but also work culture and team dynamics.

So, what’s the bottom line for job seekers and career planners?

When used appropriately by both employers and job seekers, testing can be a useful element of the Chemistry part of the equation, in determining the best candidate to job to employer fit… but it isn’t and shouldn’t be the final decision point, so use with discretion.

Good luck!

Should Assessment Tests Determine Your Next Career Move? | Arnie Fertig via US News & World Report