Professional Resume and Career Coaching Services by Barb Poole. I've been helping executives and professionals explore, find, get, and keep career dreams for more than 30 years. It would be my honor to help you!
People like to give others the benefit of their experience and expertise – especially to receptive listeners. This opens the door to ways to make new and influential friends in the job market through exploratory or informational discussions with experts in sessions that are normally pleasant and informal interactions. They involve none of the heavy pressures on both sides that exist in most job interviews, and this path is open to all job seekers and career-minded folks, from entry to executive levels.
Career Opportunity Research
Let’s call our approach Career Opportunity Research – or COR. It involves talking with high-level people in a business or industrial field or a specific organization – NOT to apply for a job – but to explore the question of
Whether your qualifications satisfactorily fit employment in that business, industry, or organization;
If so, whether such employment offers you good possibilities for a rewarding future;
Where such prospects are most likely to be the best for you.
Let’s also set some ground rules, because this approach is not familiar or comfortable to many. And it is one of the very best strategies!
The 6 Rules of COR:
To succeed with the COR approach, you should have already gone through some self-analysis of where your interests are, what your strongest qualifications are, and what kind of work excites you.
You should have prepared your communications, i.e. resume, letters, biography, LinkedIn or other social media profiles, etc. This should cover online and offline scenarios. Observe how your communications align with employers’ needs while you’re in this approach. Then modify as needed.
You should adopt the belief that most people in responsible positions – from department heads to presidents of major organizations – are highly receptive to folks who come in with a strong interest in their field of work, activities, challenges, and successes. They are often even more responsive when those folks have relevant good ideas to contribute.
You should have researched and learned beforehand about the functions, products, or services with which the experts you are contacting are most immediately concerned. You should do this so that you have more than a passing familiarity with the kinds of problems they face, along with ideas about those problems appropriate for applicants at your experience level.
Ironically, you should use the COR approach with the firm personal conviction that you are NOT looking for a job offer. Instead, for the moment, you are only seeking to explore that field of work or organization as one that may offer the kind of opportunity you are looking for. Even if it’s true that you will consider any job offers that come your way, that’s not your immediate goal.
You should have enough confidence in yourself and your ability to serve your contact’s needs to email, call, or yes, even simply show up at the office of the man or woman you want to talk with and ask to see him or her if it is not practical to arrange an introduction through a mutual associate or friend. And this is important. You want every encounter to be with a person who can immediately make the decision to hire you or greatly influence that decision.
I’ll leave this blog post here so that you can decide whether you are ready to use the COR approach. And in my next post, I’ll explain exactly how it works!
I always love to hear from you! Please comment below.
When you have an informational interview, you may well come upon encouraging openings for permanent positions, temporary assignments, consulting contracts, or internships. If you want to apply for one of these opportunities, you should apply for a change in status. In other words, you should get permission to convert from an information seeker to an applicant for an opening.
To be a good informational interviewer, you are a respectful and novice learner seeking access to insider information. As an applicant, you are a confident provider of needed skills, seeking an appropriate fit or match. These are very different conditions. They are different presentations of self. So, you have to convert your status as a rookie information seeker into a competent potential contributor.
Also, managers who grant access to you on the basis of providing information are doing you a favor. They may really resent it if you suddenly start applying for an open position. This is not polite. What you must do is apply for permission to apply for one of the opportunities that became known in the conversation.
Request a change in status by saying: “That sounds like a very interesting opportunity. How would I go about formally applying for that position?” By saying something like this, you are acknowledging that you are not at that point a candidate for anything but information. You are asking them for their advice about whether you can or should apply for the opening, and how to proceed if they grant you permission.
Then, follow their instructions precisely. The very best response you can get is something like: “Well, I know the guy who’s doing the hiring for that position. I’d be happy to forward your resume to him now and see if he can meet with you.” True, this won’t happen often; but it’s the desired outcome.
More often, you’ll hear some version of: “Just apply online.” To which you should promptly say, “Great! Thank you! May I mention your name as a referral?”
Repeated analyses of employer websites and sorting of applicants reflects a strong bias toward candidates referred by current employees. Employee referrals go right to the top of the queue, often when they don’t exactly match the skills or experience requirements for the posted opening!
Executive search firms often hold the key to the highest-level positions in the job market. The question is, how do you go about positioning yourself so that you have a shot at those jobs you’re qualified for. It’s a challenge, but not an insoluble one.
You have to be more routinely qualified for most of the positions that executive recruiters are retained to fill because recruiters frequently look for top performers who are currently employed. Your competition for these jobs is not confined to people who are actively looking for jobs, but now includes people who wouldn’t otherwise have been potential candidates.
Search firms can afford to be ultra-choosy. After they get an assignment, they don’t have to worry about other recruiters beating them to the punch when it comes to delivering an attractive candidate to a client. Because they usually work on a retainer (guaranteed fee), they don’t have to rush. They can afford to consider only those candidates whose qualifications are an almost perfect match for the client company’s requirements.
Regardless of whether you’re working with an executive search firm or an employment firm, and even if your background seems to qualify you for a position that a recruiter has been retained to fill, you run into another challenge: gaining access to the recruiter who has the assignment. Unless you’re privy to inside information, finding out which assignments recruiters are working on at any given time and whether assignments represent legitimate opportunities for you is tough.
Executive recruiters, in particular, play it close to the vest when it comes to the specifics of their assignments. They don’t typically place want ads for the positions they’re trying to fill (And if they do, they almost always place a blind ad, which means it doesn’t mention either the employer or the recruiter). And they tend to work quietly and behind the scenes, relying on their own contacts and devices to find suitable candidates.
More important, search firms prefer to initiate contact with candidates they’ve already checked out before responding to candidates who get in touch with them. All of which explains why establishing a dialogue with recruiters you don’t know can be so difficult, regardless of your qualifications.
Networking Your Way to a Recruiter.
The first thing you need if you hope to use networking as a way to contact recruiters, are the names of those recruiters who specialize in jobs in your field.
A good source for this information is a directory that lists executive search firms and their specialty areas.
Better still, get on the phone, reach out via text, etc. with other people in your field – people who may have been contacted themselves at one time by recruiters.
After you identify recruiters who are likely to handle searches in your field, go back to your network list and try to find people who know those recruiters personally. Finding such a person may take time, but the effort is well worth it.
Don’t forget: You are always better off trying to establish contact with a recruiter indirectly – through someone you both know – than to try to make the connection on your own.
Tip on How to Get “Discovered” by a Recruiter: There are two ways you can initiate contact with a recruiter who hasn’t gotten in touch with you first. The first and more effective way is to have someone introduce you, particularly at higher levels. The second is to write a strong cover letter – and then follow up. What about cold calling? Depending on your background and available openings, you’ll get anything from an invitation to send your resume, to an appointment.
What if You’re Unemployed?
Don’t let the fact that you’re out of work discourage you from pursuing a relationship with a recruiter.
Being unemployed may not enhance your attractiveness as a candidate, but neither does it hurt as much as it used to.
Many recruiters used to be more reluctant to work with unemployed candidates, the theory being that they were a tougher “sell” to the client company.
A few dinosaurs in the recruiting business still subscribe to this view, but in light of corporate downsizing and today’s highly-mobile workforce, being out of work no longer carries the stigma it once did.
The important thing is to be able to give the recruiter a solid reason why you and your former employer parted company.
I always love to hear from you! Please comment below.
Are you thinking about going into business for yourself? Perhaps you have a great idea for a new product or service? Maybe you’re considering starting your own consulting practice? Love the idea of being self-employed? If you answered yes to any of these, you may benefit from taking this quick Entrepreneurial Appraisal. It may help you evaluate whether or not you have the “entrepreneurial spirit and drive” that will be crucial to your success.
To launch a business, you need to have the necessary product, service, and/or industry experience. It is equally important that you be able to grow a company, sell your products and/or services, understand the finances, hire and train the people, make tough decisions, and solve problems. Ask yourself if you’re willing to commit to the demands of self-employment – demands that will impact your knowledge, time, relationships, and energy!
Have you clearly defined your expertise and your business concept? __Yes ___ No
Do you think deep down, that your proposed business venture will be successful? ___Yes ___No
Have you identified a specific market for your business products and/or services? ___Yes ___No
Do you know who your competition is, what they do, and what they charge? ___Yes ___No
Have you crafted a formal business plan? ___Yes ___No
Have you conveyed your business concept to others to obtain their feedback? ___Yes ___No
Do you have a marketing, advertising, or promotional plan in place? ___Yes ___No
Do you have budget, revenue, and income or other projections in place? ___Yes ___No
Have you consulted with an accountant or financial adviser? ___Yes ___No
Have you sought the advice from legal counsel? ___Yes ___No
Are you self-disciplined? ___Yes ___No
Do you have tenacity and persistence; the ability to roll with the punches? ___Yes ___No
Do you have a strong ambition that moves you to action? ___Yes ___No
Do you have a positive mindset nearly all the time? ___Yes ___No
Are you focused, diligent, and resolute? ___Yes ___No
Are you enthusiastic, personable, and engaging? ___Yes ___No
Do you have a boat-load of energy? ___Yes ___No
Are you intelligent? ___Yes ___No
Do you have high integrity and ethics? ___Yes ___No
Are you willing to work harder than you may have in your life? ___Yes ___No
Is your family supportive? ___Yes ___No
Can you accept constructive criticism without being defensive? ___Yes ___No
Can you think independently? ___Yes ___No
Can you make decisions? ___Yes ___No
Can you solve problems? ___Yes ___No
Do you thrive in challenging and fast-paced settings? ___Yes ___No
Can you handle the constant change and shifts that a new business requires? ___Yes ___No
Can you work autonomously without supervision? ___Yes ___No
Can you handle disappointment and then move forward? ___Yes ___No
Do you think you can always learn from others? ___Yes ___No
Are you well organized? ___Yes ___No
Are your written communication skills good? ___Yes ___No
Are your oral communication skills good? ___Yes ___No
Are you driven to succeed – hungry for it? ___Yes ___No
Can you charge on during difficult times? ___Yes ___No
Are you comfortable speaking in public? ___Yes ___No
Are you a creative, strategic, visionary, and even tactical thinker? ___Yes ___No
Do you have the financial resources to support yourself during the startup phase? ___Yes ___No
Can you live comfortably in a high-risk employment situation? ___Yes ___No
Can your mind and body handle unusual amounts of high stress? ___Yes ___No
Do you understand that calculated risks can lead to fabulous opportunities? ___Yes ___No
Does a great deal of your self-image and self-worth come from your work? ___Yes ___No
Do you really hanker for success and self-satisfaction? ___Yes ___No
Are you ready now? ___Yes ___No
Although there is no one-size-fits-all, if you’ve answered “Yes” to more than 25 of these questions, you may be prime for being a successful entrepreneur. Take your time, plan well, and steadily move forward!
I always love to hear from you! Please comment below.
As political campaigns rev up approaching the mid-term elections and paving the way for the 2020 presidential race, we are the audience for strategic and tactical campaigns across the country.
It’s a good parallel to job search, because you want to land your targeted role and beat out the competition. To do so, you must have a platform, a strategy, and a plan that compels voters (employers) to choose you.
You must show your target audience (potential employers, leads, contacts) who you are. This means clearly articulating not just what you want to be known for; but what you actually are known for. What do you and others say about what you stand for, how you perform, and what sets you apart from your competition?
Every “voter” has unique wants and perceptions. What are your relevant promises? How will you deliver on them?
Answering these questions will help you dive into and then articulate your personal brand. Keep in mind that action, metrics, results, and impact are much more impressive than mere words.
What are you most proud of in each of your past positions?
In what ways did you help your employers save/make money, get/keep business, solve problems, or make things better?
When were you complimented by a supervisor, colleague, subordinate, or customer? For what?
What positive comments were documented in performance evaluations or other feedback?
What skills or talents are you especially known for? Give examples of where you showed them?
What do you do that your coworkers don’t? What would happen if you weren’t on the job?
Spread your message.
Now, you must carry your brand to your targeted audience. Just as with a political campaign, an effective job search campaign uses multiple platforms to do this. When launching your job-search campaign, use online and offline strategies. Use them to research opportunities, to connect with others, and to articulate your value.
Contemporary job search tactics include company websites and blogs, niche job boards and job search agents, job aggregation sites, online social media platforms and communications, and online profile sites, blogs and blogging, web portfolios, resume distribution, intelligent matching sites, online classified ads, and virtual career fairs.
Traditional job search tactics include face-to-face networking, direct mail campaign to companies, in-person career fairs, and classified ads in newspapers, trade journals, etc.
Keep in mind that you do not need to use all these methods. I suggest picking 5 contemporary strategies, supplemented by one or two more traditional tactics.
And face-to-face networking should always be one of them. Think in terms of both door-to-door campaigns and events or rallies. Tap into them as much as possible. There is nothing like eye-to-eye, shaking hands, conversation with people. Why do you think politicians historically kissed babies? Make it personal. Ask questions and laser-listen to ascertain their pain. Then talk about how you can ease it.
Wow them in discourse.
The tradition of political debate – especially the television broadcasts we have today – go back to only the 1960s. It’s embedded in discourse, and you can think of job interviews in this light.
Research and prepare, with readied answers about why you’re the best person for the job; and how you would do the job, should you get it. Prepare for everything from “Why should we hire you?” to “What were you told to improve in your last performance review?”
Be poised. Remember the phrase, “Never let ‘em see you sweat?” This is true of a presidential candidate at the podium talking to millions and you facing a sole interviewer. Smile, maintain eye contact, and remember that silence is your friend. Pause if you need to reflect a bit to give a succinct, relevant answer. And feel free to ask questions! It’s important to grasp the concept of the next point if you’re going to impress your audience.
Leave a positive impression. As at a political rally, you can face a tough crowd in an interview. Think of how you come across. In the last presidential debates, many said Clinton came across as aloof, while some thought of Trump as condescending. Keep it positive and leave them wanting more! An excitement blended with messaging of how you can and want to do the job, can go a long way!
Your resume is important. But it’s a tool in the toolbox. Your job search is a campaign, from the concept of figuring out what you want, to getting and keeping it.
I always love to hear from you! Please comment below.
You’ve just lost your job. Or think you’re going to. Or are going to voluntarily leave for one reason or another. Everyone’s situation is different. But regardless, it’s a good idea to be proactive regarding your financial and health situation. Addressing some things at the outset will help calm any fears and allow you focus on your new job of looking for a job!
Go over your budget. If you have a household budget, review it. If you don’t have one, make one! Know how much money you have, where you can spend it, and where and when you can trim expenses to minimize any financial stress during your search.
Review your investments. Don’t immediately take money out or borrow. Take the time you need to understand your options and make choices that are best for you and your family, both short- and long-term.
Make a larger plan. How will you cover expenses if it takes you several months or longer to land in a new job? If you’re not sure you can pay your bills in this scenario, it may serve you well to now consult with a financial advisor.
Ask for help. There may be assistance that will pad your finances. Find out if you qualify for unemployment insurance or a severance package with your current or former employer.
It’s a good idea to immediately review your insurance. Healthcare is an important consideration, as is potential peripheral insurance coverage offered by many employers, including short- and long-term disability and life insurance. Research these to ensure your family is covered with an affordable plan.
Life insurance. Do you need it? Will it not be there if you leave your current employer? Can you carry it forward? And remember that even if you can carry it forward, it’s often not the most affordable option.
Health insurance. What’s available through your former employer? Do you qualify for state healthcare coverage? Can you go on to your spouse’s healthcare coverage? You can check out options with The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) as to whether that’s a viable option for you.
Do you have any non-compete agreements with your former employer that will limit your job search? It’s important to know the details. Are there other legal issues related to your current employment and exit?
Research available resources.
You may be eligible for assistance. Some questions to ask yourself:
Are you eligible for unemployment insurance?
Are you eligible for dislocated workers support (through your state)?
Are you eligible for state-offered training?
Are you eligible for any outplacement services through your employment?
Whether your upcoming job search stems from a voluntary or involuntary exit from your current employer, thinking about issues like finance, insurance, and other assistance, can help you eliminate stress to stay positive and energized to land that next great fit!
I always love to hear from you! Please comment below.