Friday, October 30, 2009


This week I heard a lot of good news. Several friends and clients are basking in interview requests and job offers. Care to know what all of them happen to have in common? All of them have connections to someone associated with the companies involved. They have an extra edge because they know someone, or know someone who knows someone, on the inside.

These individuals aren't lucky or special. With effort and a little bit of courage, almost everyone has the potential to create their own good fortune through networking. We all know people who know people. There is no need to endure a cold and solitary job search. I've never understood how a job seeker could find it more scary to ask for help than to go it alone. All of the worries and stress that come from an extended and fruitless job search are definitely tougher on the ego than reaching out to others and braving a conversation or two.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What Computer?

When I first got into the world of recruiting, the computer wasn't a big part of the job. I had a computer for access to our company database, but I wasn't trolling the internet and emailing all day long. In order to build relationships with candidates and corporate leaders and be in the know of key happenings in the business community, I had to get out as much as possible and stay visible. Rubbing elbows in professional circles was a must. My choices of where to spend my time had to be strategic. The phone was also key. I'd talk to dozens of people a day. Every conversation was intentional, with a planned discussion point and objective to accomplish. I am incredibly lucky to have learned the business during a time when computers had yet to take over the rituals and processes.

As great as the internet is, it would do many a world of good to pretend it doesn't exist at times. Job seekers tend to use the computer as a crutch and fail to participate in the flesh and blood world of networking and relationship cultivation. That's not to say the computer isn't a valuable tool when on the hunt for a job. Conducting a job search without a computer would be tricky. Still, those who are able to step away from their cyber buddy and mingle with humanity have a definite advantage.

I use the computer in many ways, but most of the leads I get for jobs come from circulating with other professionals, asking good questions, placing strategic phone calls, dishing out help when I'm able and participating in community events. I hear about several jobs a week when I'm networking and mingling. To top it off, the opportunities I discover this way are less likely to be known to the masses. I'll take the odds of going up against the select few who are aware of a lesser known opening than going up against the masses chasing the online job posting.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's Like The 'F' Word

My husband says the 'F' word. A lot. He doesn't realize how often that little monster of a word works its way into his conversations. He is desensitized to the word from years of working around military personnel with a flair for colorful metaphors. If you asked my husband, he'd tell you he is good at self-censoring. He believes he is careful only to say such things in appropriate circles. Wrong. Whatever the appropriate circles might be, I can assure you he has F-bombed in situations that wouldn't have qualified.

Just like the 'F' word, people often become desensitized to negativity. I often find myself on the receiving end of job seekers who "just need to vent." So they do. They vent and vent and vent and vent and vent. When the venting is done, and both of us are exhausted, I cautiously throw out the suggestion the negative baggage they are carrying around may be contributing to their lack of success with their job searches. "Oh no, I'm just venting to you. I'd never be negative like this in front of an employer or anything." Wanna bet?

I've encountered job seekers as someone doing interviewing and as someone trying to be a helpful resource. I have been on the receiving end of vents in both circumstances. When you allow yourself to become comfortable with things like venting, gossiping, and F-bombing, you just never know when such habits might sneak through your filters.

Venting is usually counterproductive behavior. It may feel good to point out how everyone else is wrong or how impossible things are, but it does little for convincing people you are a solutions-oriented, problem solver with an attitude capable of overcoming professional and personal obstacles. Add to that, most people who end up on the receiving end of a vent have no business being there. Friends, co-workers, coaches and the like could all contribute to you finding your next job. Their impression of you counts too. It's great to want to make a good impression with prospective employers by not venting, but consider the importance of coming off in a positive way with those who aren't employers. They are valuable too. Their impression of you could make things easier or harder.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


While grocery shopping today, I had an interesting encounter with a cashier. She was wearing a frown as she scanned my groceries. People attempting to line up behind me were quickly told of other available lanes with no waiting. Though that could count as good customer service, her suggesting they consider other cashiers had nothing to do with customer convenience. She was frustrated, as she comfortably confided in me, that her lane was always busy while other lanes weren't. "By the end of the day I'm mad," she offered. Trying to be understanding,I commented she must be tired from having more customers to attend to. "That's not it," she admitted. "I don't think it's fair that I constantly have people in my lane and others get to stand around and do nothing."

Before going further, I have to admit "that's not fair" arguments make me twitch and spasm a bit. The expectation anything in life can be completely fair at all times is unreasonable. There are times when we have it easier than others and times when we have it harder. It's part of the human experience. Interestingly, we rarely complain about how unfair life is when the sun is shining on us. Our sense of justice tends to swing one way.

Back to the angry cashier. By stewing over what she views as an imbalance, she is missing the bigger picture. When she proclaimed her situation unfair, my immediate opinion was "absolutely!" Not in the way she would suspect, however. In my view, she has the better deal. She's busy enough the day passes quickly. She has more interaction with customers, so she builds more experience and establishes more relationships that could benefit her in the future. She is more valuable to the organization. Whether it's their fault or not, the cashiers standing around with nothing to do stick out more as not pulling their weight. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes if management had to make decisions about who to lay off. Yes, things are unfair. Lucky her.

Another possibility to consider is that people choose her lane because they like her. I know I do. She's efficient and usually friendly. Sometimes being busier than your co-workers is a testament to how customers and management view you. How is that something to be upset about? So today she waved people off to other lanes, mumbled and muttered. Such a shame.

There are many times when our situations can't change readily. Our perspective can though. Perspective can keep us sane, positive and reasonable. Perspective can save us from sabotaging the good things we have going for us in life. Imagine if this cashier were to seek out other employment opportunities in retaliation for things not being fair where she works. Having interviewed hundreds of angry people in my career, I'd be willing to bet she'd openly share her frustration over having to work more than her co-workers. Not quite the foundation for a superstar impression. "I want to leave because I was busy all day at work." Lovely.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Time Changes Things

Remember that company you approached 3,6, 9 or even 12 months ago that said it had no openings? Is that still true? There is no way to know if you haven't kept in touch with the contacts you made there. Many job seekers make the mistake of turning a company's account of its current situation into a permanent truth. Just because a company didn't have much in the way of opportunity in the past doesn't mean the same is true now. Things change. Those in the recruiting business understand the value of finding a strategic way to stay in touch with decision makers in key companies so they will be there when the time is right. Assuming a company will never have a need again is just about as bad as believing the company will remember you after only one contact months later when a job does come available.The process of finding a job needs to be about forming relationships and tending to them regularly.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Networking For Jobs While Employed

Networking for a job while employed is tough. This is especially true for those in sales and marketing roles who may already be heavily involved in networking on behalf of their current employer.

So, how do you handle networking for the benefit of self-promotion while also representing a specific employer? Discretion and good judgment are key. In your networking circle, cherry pick a select few who you feel comfortable can be in the know of your job search efforts. It's important these individuals not be closely tied to your existing employer. There is no need to put someone in the position of feeling they are betraying a relationship they have with your boss or company.

For those who you invite into your search efforts, give them a basic idea of what you are looking to do and the contacts and information they may be able to help provide that would help you pull off your goal. Stay positive. There is no need to go into any negative aspects of your current situation when sharing your desire to move on. It's a waste of time and creates the potential for you to appear unprofessional, bitter or unable to filter.

Once you've decided who you can include in your search, you then have to figure out what to do with everyone else. The worst thing you can do is to stop participating in networking circles until you've made your move. One of my clients felt awkward striking up conversations with people and building relationships knowing full well the clock was ticking on how much longer she'd be in her current job. Networking isn't necessarily just about you as an employee of a particular company though. It's about building relationships with people who can be resources to you, and you to them, now and in the future. Talking up your current employer and the services offered might not make a lot of sense. Make the conversation more about them instead. Use the time to find out more about their needs and goals. Work to establish and even better rapport since there is no temptation for you to accidentally slip into salesman mode. Also consider the information individuals may be able to provide to you without ever having to know you are actually on a job hunt. Through the course of regular conversations you can gain a lot of intelligence on who is hiring, what industries are busy and what business events are setting the tone in the community at large.