Don’t Blame the Economy!

You are a recent graduate who just can’t seem to find a job. You may be motivated, have received excellent grades and have committed to multiple internships, so you can’t figure out why the job search process isn’t any easier! It’s often hard to pinpoint exactly where something is going wrong, but founder Kathryn Sollmann (9 Lives for Women blog) highlights some great areas to examine in her recent post titled “7 Reasons Why Jane Has No Job.”

 Kathryn, who met a “bright and accomplished 2011 college grad who has not yet found a job,” discovered that there were at least 7 reasons why this grad’s job search had stalled. Surprisingly, none of them have to do with the poor job market! Keep reading for some crucial areas to work on.

 Most people think that they can look for a job effectively while doing many other things. But Kathryn points out that “finding a job is truly a full-time job. You have to spend at least 40 hours a week on your search to get any significant action. Keep non-search activities to 20 hours a week. If you can’t afford to limit the temp job, make sure that you’re maximizing your job search time in the evenings and on weekends”

 Similarly, many jobseekers have difficulty networking properly. I always recommend the importance of making industry contacts and building relationships, but many college grads may be doing this in a non-meaningful way. Kathryn writes “there are benefits to networking meetings, but success depends if you just happen to meet the right person. Limit in person networking to one or two events a month that are targeted to a desired industry— “

Beyond maximizing networking events, some people are reluctant to utilize other social gatherings as means of networking. According to Kathryn, her college grad “needs to extend her networking circles and think about people she knows from every aspect of her life (schools, clubs, religious affiliations, sports groups, etc.).” Every time a recent grad is socializing, he or she should also be thinking about ways to network! You never know when the right person comes along that might have the job or connection you need to get your foot in the door.

 Kathryn discusses many other essential job-searching tricks in her post, such as creating a job search strategy, using LinkedIn correctly, and maintaining energy in communication. Read more of Kathryn’s wonderful advice and ensure that you are job-hunting most effectively and efficiently.

9 LIves for Women Blog:

Special thanks to contributing editor, Leora Kanner

No Business Card? Shame on you!

Picture this: You are at a networking event with the hope of making new contacts and maybe even finding a good lead about a job opportunity in your field.  You take the time for proper grooming and a professional looking outfit. You know it’s important to “look the part” even though you have been unemployed for several months following a downsizing. And why shouldn’t you look the part? You have 10+ years in your field as a top performer. As an avid reader and someone who likes to be prepared, you constantly read industry journals, business papers, and follow daily events so you can speak well about current events and industry trends. At this event, you have been having a great discussion with a VP level person who seems interested in your background and asks for your card. Feeling embarrassed, you look down and sheepishly state that you do not have one because you are in between jobs.

Now tell me, what impression do you think this leaves on the VP? As a professional, a business card is part of your outfit. Just like a pen. Just like a suit. Just like a decent haircut. Or anything else that a professional would have. They are easy to get and relatively inexpensive. (In fact, on you can get them for free.) So get one – you have no excuse and no reason to feel  embarrassed….(unless you do not get one.)

How to create a professional card? Look at others for ideas. Keep it clean looking and include your name, phone number, email address, linkedin URL, and maybe a QR code linked to your linkedin profile. Use a “headline” to define your expertise such as “Sales Professional” or “Marketing Manager.”  Add a few bulleted items to highlight 3 or 4 areas of expertise. Perhaps use a light color or texture for the background to make it a little interesting.

Once you have your new cards, you will have more confidence in networking and know that you are fully dressed for the part!


Networking in surprising places!

It is amazing how many opportunities we have to meet new people easily (read “potential job lead connections”) and in the most surprising places. A client of mine, Jennifer, had jury duty this week and was excited to tell me about some networking that fell in her lap that day!  We all know how much time you sit around in a crowded room with others serving their civic duty, and most people bring books, laptops, tablets, and more to stay occupied during the wait.

Jennifer is a senior in college and currently searching for an Engineering position. She brought some trade journals to read during her wait with other jurors. This prompted an inquiry from the man next to her, Brad, and it turned out he was an Engineering student as well. Another woman overhearing their discussion, piped in that her son, Rick – an Engineering major, recently got a job with Company XYZ. Later in the day as she was reading one of her Engineering journals, a 50-something woman, Sharon, noticed the journal cover on robotics and introduced herself as an engineer working for a small company specializing in defense robotics. Jennifer left that day with phone numbers and email addresses for Brad, Rick, and info that Company XYZ is hiring. She obtained Sharon’s business card to connect on linkedin and had received an offer from Sharon’s to reach out to her in the Spring. Jennifer can now keep in touch with Brad and they can help each other with job leads. She can contact Rick and establish a connection with him as well as garner info on hiring needs at the company. She can research the company on her own, and see if they have positions posted on their website.

 So, carry trade journals or books related to your field when you are going to be waiting (doctors” offices, car tune ups, your kids’ soccer games, and of course, jury duty!) and you will increase the odds of connecting with others in unexpected places!

Polish Up That Elevator Speech

Most of you have heard of an “Elevator Speech,” right? The story goes something like this – let’s say you have an interview for a job you really want. You get into the elevator on the first floor of the building and find out the other person in the elevator is the head honcho who is going to have the final say in whether you get hired.  You now have about 60 seconds to ride in the elevator with her to the top floor.  When she finds out that you are the candidate under consideration, she seems curious about you. What “speech” can you give her in that elevator ride to peak her interest and ensure that you get the offer? Ahhhhh! If you don’t know, then you need to figure this out – and fast!

You meet people all the time, especially if you are networking, attending professional organization meetings, and actively pursuing job leads. Sometimes, you really only have about an “elevator ride” worth of time to impress someone or not. So what can you do? Try to identify what you really want to market about yourself and what sets you apart out there.  What value do you add? What do you want other networking professionals to remember about you? Practice your “elevator speech” out loud. Listen to other people’s answers when you ask them what they do – what impresses you? Who do you remember and why? These are not easy questions to answer – but investing some time and careful thought into your “elevator speech” can create a lot of opportunities for you.

If you are at a networking event, be sure that your interaction is not “just about you.”  It’s important  to focus on building relationships, too.  So show interest in the other person and ask how you might be able to help them. You will certainly be remembered for that!


Get Your Head Back in the Game!

Sometimes, you need to give yourself a little space to “Get your head back in the game.” Did you take some time off during the holidays – and now you are trying to get up and running again but it’s not working so well? It’s okay to take that step back sometimes to make a plan, so you can gain your foothold and move forward.


It’s kind of like that overwhelming feeling that you have when you return to work or a project after taking some time off.  Especially when it’s Monday morning. You are swamped with email, voicemail, social media messages to go through and you do not even know where to start.  How do you begin so you feel you are making progress and addressing priorities?


My favorite way to tackle this is with good, old-fashioned lists.  I actually start before I take time off….really. I create a “to do list” of the most important things I should check for upon my return. I also try to avoid any appointments on the morning of day 1 to get organized and allow time for any crisis that may have arisen. Next, I create a 3-column list as I do an initial scan of messages: top priorities go in the “A” column, medium priorities in the “B” column, and not urgent in the “C” of course. Then, I go back to column A and start addressing those high priority items.


Do it one step at a time and try not to skip around so that you can complete tasks.  Schedule break time to take a deep breath. Now – slowly go grab some coffee (or your favorite drink!) and you will be back in the game in no time!