Time to Meet and Greet!

Here’s an amazing article from The Ladders Marc Cendella which I wanted to share with you. It’s time to get out and meet and greet to help your career! It’s all about the networking!

“A phone’s never landed you a job, a promotion, a raise, or a new customer, yet you might allocate more of your day to kissing up to your device — updating apps, clearing calendars, jumping at every new email alert — than to building up relationships with your peers. And that’s a problem.”

You need to ask yourself if your awesome technology knowledge is getting in the way of your getting ahead. Here are three reminders:
Talk to people.  If you only interact with your fellow human beings through technology, you’re really missing out. Real people have a great “user interface” — they smile, laugh, frown, generate unique and sometimes surprising insights, and can give you instantaneous feedback on their reactions. Real people can also solve problems, agree to quit being a complete hassle, slip you the critical bit of info you were missing, or be spontaneously impressed by your fantastic-ness. Ya never know. If you insist on texting-emailing-facebooking as the only way you’ll connect with others, you’ll miss out on a good part of your career (and life’s great enjoyments, too). So more often than you’re comfortable with — put down the phone, close the laptop, and go talk to people and see if that doesn’t work out better for you. Stop optimizing.

Setting up your voicemail to email you the text of your latest messages is a neato trick.  Downloading the app that pings you every time your Google alert mentions your name within 100 words of “technology-savvy” is spiffy. And connecting your printer to your phone to your iPad to your desktop so that you can wirelessly print your resume from the beach house is awesome. But all your optimizing is really just goofing off, procrastinating, and avoiding dealing with the pain of going through your real “to do” list.
Quit kidding yourself. Tickling your tech toys is high-tech half-gassing it. Put the gadgets down and put yourself back to productive work.
See the real world.

Reading industry blogs, watching focus groups on your laptop, and making killer pie charts of industry trends can give you a command of the industry heights.
But you’ll be missing out on the devil. He’s in the details, it’s known. And you can’t get a feel for the details if your face is grinding a screen all day.
“Management by walking around” became a popular catchphrase to get comfy desk-dwelling Mad Men out of their chairs to mingle with the plebs.
Today, let’s call it, “experience by closing down”… power down the iPhone, close the lid on the laptop, and put away the Kindle.
When you actually let go of the technology intermediary, what do you observe about how people use your product, talk about industry problems, or collaborate to achieve goals? Just watching people, and chatting with them about what they’re really hoping to achieve, can be eye-opening.
Most professionals find a world of difference between their personal observations and conclusions based on digitally digesting industry ephemera.
Turn off the power and turn on your insight. You’ll be better for it.”

Getting Laid Off

A good friend of mine was recently laid off from her job. As a busy single mother, with a six-year-old daughter, she’s trying very hard to balance her daughter’s needs with trying to find a new job. In the next few weeks, I’ll be posting various articles I find which I’d like to share with you on ways to cope with being laid off as well as actionable steps to take NOW, as my stepfather always tells me, “keep on keepin’ on!” You can do it.

One of my favorite job sites is glassdoor.com, which I’ve used frequently to research a particular company I might be interested in working for. Additionally, the website gives lots of great feedback from people who are either working for the company or have interviewed there, all anonymously of course.

Here are some amazing tips if you’ve been laid off. Really interesting ideas from career expert Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter:

“In today’s job market, you need to act quickly after being laid off. However, when jolted into the reality of their new situation, job seekers often feel adrift in a sea of confusion. Following are 10 actionable steps you can take to help you set a new course. The first two steps should occur in the order they are presented; however, steps 3-10 can be intermingled. And remember, action begets traction.

  1. Don’t Think About Job Searching. At least initially, for a few days following your loss, distract yourself through activity with your best friend, your spouse or someone with whom you find comfort, and even better, someone with whom you laugh. Do not dwell on the job you just lost or the job for which you must now search. Instead, take a few days away to begin recovering from the loss, the shock and the disappointment. Soothe yourself with a good book, a movie, a night out or a great dinner experience—whatever makes you feel good.
  2. Start Thinking About Your Next Job as Soon as Possible. This tip may seem counterintuitive to #1. While getting a few days’ perspective on your situation is valuable, do not let a few days turn into a few weeks, or even months. Today’s tough economy leads to typically longer job searches. The earlier you begin yours, the earlier you will land your next opportunity.
  3. Google the Web for Possible New Prospects. Print off job descriptions that look interesting. Grab a highlighter and underscore the qualifications you meet. Note requirements you do not fulfill. Shoot straight with yourself and vet out jobs that genuinely mesh with who you are already (not who you wish you were).
  4. Set Up a Job Search Specific Gmail. Make it professional sounding. Your first and last name is a good first choice; if that is not available, consider your first initial, second initial and last name. You may also use your name with a job or credentials focus attached; e.g., ClaireJacksonCPA@gmail.com or CharlesBrownAccountant@gmail.com
  5. Update Your Resume. For many people, this means rebuilding your resume from scratch. If it has been more than a year or two since you last updated your resume, then consider a complete resume revamp. Not only have resume practices changed dramatically in the past several years, but also, your career is in a continual state of motion. What you focused in on in your last resume likely is not where your focus should remain.
  6. Refresh Your LinkedIn Profile. Write content and facts to complement your resume versus simply copying and pasting your resume into the body of your LinkedIn profile. Focus the headline to your target goal, knitting in the right keywords and value message. Read up on LinkedIn best practices, and if you have not been active in any professional groups, get active. Do this organically and consistently, being careful not to over-communicate with your network. Think professional, polished, focused initiative by providing value to your network first, before asking for favors.
  7. Explore Other Social Media Outlets. If you are not a member already, join Twitter, Pinterest and/or Facebook. Ensure a consistent, professional presence on these sites with a splash of personality, and then, interact. If you’re new to these venues, then follow or friend a few people and then begin listening. Comment purposefully and with kindness.
  8. Update Your Interview Wardrobe. Make certain you have a smart, updated interview suit, scuff-free shoes and the right, tasteful jewelry, if applicable. Get a professional haircut and if you sport a beard or mustache, trim it up. Make sure your hands and nails are well manicured.
  9. Volunteer Your Time. Join a charitable organization, and redirect some of your nervous energy into a helpful cause that matters to you. Or, you may join a professional group that has contacts in your field of interest. If you already are an association member, but have not been very involved, change that behavior. Volunteer to serve on a committee. Connect more deeply. Think of how you can serve their needs first, and in time, what you give will come back to you.
  10. Research Companies for Which You Want to Work. Dig beyond the company website. Research companies through Glassdoor and perform keyword Google searches that help you unearth facts, figures, challenges the company is facing and so forth. Read reports on the state of the industry or sector which you are targeting. Get knee-deep into the foundational details that sustain your target company’s growth. Appeal to their needs when you approach the company president, vice president, sales manager, accounting director or whomever you may deem to interact with regarding offering your services as their future employee.”

Happy 2011!

I haven’t been writing as much on this blog as I should. Not because the year has been uneventful. Rather, I found a new job! Very exciting to be part of such a great new biotech company (BioMarin).

After a little more than four years with my previous employer, I felt that it was definitely time for a change. You’ll find in your current career that change will be a great thing. Sometimes, you can just talk to your boss to see about new job tasks or other ways to keep your current position interesting. You can, as I did, look for other new opportunities throughout the company. Despite my best efforts, other people in the department were hired for the position. Something you should do after interviewing, is to follow up with your interviewer for a short phone chat or email about any feedback they can give you about how you did. This will be most beneficial as you continue your job search.

I’ll post more in the next week about steps we’ve discussed in the past couple of years to ensure you don’t forget them. Happy 2011!

Tip of the Week: Be Open to the Possibilities

I was sitting in my office the other day, actually a large cube with a view, thinking about what I’d write about this week about career success. And, what came to mind for job seekers is keeping an open mind to the possibilities when they’re searching for a job.

During an interview, or even when you have a job, be certain to be open to the suggestion of various job duties you might not have thought of before. For example, I’ve been a trainer at a biotech company for a few years, and before that had worked as a technical writer. In my current position, I conduct trainings, do some instructional design work, handle logistics relating to project management, and am in the process of backing up other client managers when they’re away.

The point of all this is that in a tough job market, it will always pay off to say that you’ll do more than just what you’re hired to do. If an interviewer asks you if you’d be willing to do certain job duties, in addition to the position you’re interviewing for, it’s usually a good idea to say “yes” or “let me think about it”. You must be true to yourself, but be open to the possibilities. And, if the job you have doesn’t suit you, you can always work with management/human resources to try and tailor your position to suit your needs.

Have a great week!

Top 10 Questions You Should Never Ask in a Job Interview

I recently came across this great article by Liz Ryan on Yahoo Hotjobs, so thought I’d share with you as she has some great advice for what NOT to ask during a job interview. Let’s assume this would be either a phone interview or in-person interview: 

“You know enough to bring a list of questions to a job interview. When the interviewer asks you, “So, do you have any questions for me?” the last thing? You want to say is “No.” But that could be the best option if you’re at a loss for words, because some interview questions are better left unasked.Here are 10 highly unsuitable interview questions that should never make an appearance, unless you don’t want the job:

1. “What does your company do?”
This was a reasonable interview question in 1950 or in 1980, before the Internet existed. Today, it’s your job to research any company you’re interviewing with before setting foot in the door. We need to show up for a job interview knowing what the employer does, who its competitors are, and which of its accomplishments (or challenges) have made the news lately.

2. “Are you going to do a background check?”
It is amazing how many job candidates ask this question, which provokes alarm on the part of the interviewer, instead of the more general, “Can you please tell me a little about your selection process, from this point on?” Lots of people have credit issues that cause them worry during a job search, or aren’t sure how solid their references from a previous job might be. If you’re invited for a second interview, you can broach any sensitive topics from your past then. Asking “Will you do a background check?” makes you look like a person with something to hide.

3. “When will I be eligible for a raise?”
Companies fear underpaying people almost as much as they fear overpaying them, because a person who’s underpaid vis-a-vis his counterparts in the job market is a person with one eye on the career sites. Instead of asking about your first raise before you’ve got the job, you can ask (at a second interview) “Does your organization do a conventional one-year performance and salary review?”

4. “Do you have any other jobs available?”
job search requires quick thinking about straight talk, and if a job is far below your abilities, you’re better off saying so than beating around the bush with this question. You don’t have to take yourself out of the running; you can say, “The job sounds interesting, but frankly I was earning 30% more and supervising people in my last job. Could you help me understand the career path for this role?” That’s the cue for the interviewer, if he or she is on the ball, to highlight another job opening that might exist.

5. “How soon can I transfer to another position?”
You’re broadcasting “I’m outta here at the first chance” when you ask this question. If you like the job, take the job. If it’s not for you, wait for the right opportunity. Almost every employer will keep you in your seat for at least one year before approving an internal transfer, so a job-search bait-and-switch probably won’t work out the way you’d hoped.

6. “Can you tell me about bus lines to your facility?”
Get online and research this yourself. It’s not your employer’s problem to figure out how you get to work.

7. “Do you have smoking breaks?”
If you’re working in retail or in a call center, you could ask about breaks. Everyone else, keep mum; if your need to smoke intrudes so much on your work life that you feel the need to ask about it, ask your best friend or significant other for smoking-cessation help as a new-job present. Lots of companies don’t permit smoking anywhere on the premises, and some don’t like to hire smokers at all. Why give an employer a reason to turn you down?

8. “Is my medical condition covered under your insurance?”
This is a bad question on two counts. You don’t want to tell a perfect stranger about your medical issues, especially one who’s deciding whether or not to hire you. Ask to see a copy of the company’s benefits booklet when an offer has been extended. This is also a bad question from a judgment standpoint; no department managers and only a tiny percentage of HR people could be expected to know on a condition-by-condition basis what’s covered under the health plan. Anyway, your pre-existing condition won’t be covered under most corporate plans for at least a year.

9. “Do you do a drug test?”
If you have a philosophical objection to drug tests, wait until they ask you to take a drug test and tell them about your objection. Otherwise, your question sounds like, “I’d fail a drug test,” so don’t ask.

10. “If you hire me, can I wait until more than three weeks from now to start the job?”
Employers expect you to give two weeks’ notice. If you’re not working, they’d love to see you more quickly. If you ask for tons of time off before you start working — unless you have a very good reason — the employer may think, “How serious is this candidate about working?” In any case, a start-date extension is something to request after you’ve got the offer in hand, not before.”