Facebook / Myspace users…..Beware!

Do you use Facebook, Myspace, and other social media for having fun communicating with your friends? As many of you know, these sites have become very popular for connecting with friends including posting pictures (not all discreet) and sharing personal life events (some very personal!). What you may not know, is that employers are utilizing these sites as well to check you out! AND they are making hiring decisions based on this information. In addition to the usual reference checks, employers can visit these sites and learn all sorts of interesting things about you from a highly reliable source – YOU. Of course, you may protest that this is an invasion of privacy or that info posted there is personal and not work related. However, the cruel reality is this: whatever you post on the Internet is obviously no longer “private”. Information that you post will be accepted as reliable, even if you made it up to impress your friends. Employers will form judgments about your personality, your ethics, your trustworthiness, etc. to determine whether you are the kind of person they want working for them. By the way, employers are also Googling your name to see what type of cool info – or what kind of “digital dirt” pops up about you.*

So, what can you do about this? Well, for starters, if you are in job search mode, be cautious as to what you post on these sites. You may want to consider removing some of those pictures from last week’s keg party. Next, there are privacy controls on these sites – so learn what they are and how to use them. Another idea is to check out industry blogs (use technorati.com to search for blogs by topic) and comment intelligently on them – this raises your Google presence and can help promote a more professional image. You can also participate in LinkedIn to enhance your image, a business networking site considered reputable and professional. Guess it’s like anything these days – you may be frustrated by the information I’m sharing with you, but being informed allows you to make choices and have some control in the process. Happy postings!

*(A great resource for professionals on building your online identity – Career Distinction by William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson.)

Are you “desperate” for a job?

Recently, I ran into a young man I know who mentioned he was looking for a new job. When I asked what he was looking for, he replied, “I’ll do anything!” While I’m sure he thought this was a very flexible attitude, he came off sounding extremely desperate (and maybe he was!). I told him I’d keep him in mind, but the first problem was, I had no idea what his skills, interests or capabilities were in order to recommend him for a future opening. Should I call him if I hear of a teaching position? A firefighter position? A clerical position?

It is a big mistake to carry a “desperate” attitude, both for the job seeker and the impression to the potential employer. For the job seeker, conveying a desperate position immediately puts you in a poor position for negotiating salary. The employer believes you are needy and therefore can probably offer you a lower salary than someone who is not desperate. Also, you are more likely to accept “any” job, with a weak analysis as to whether it is a good fit for you. Soon enough, you’ll be wondering why you took the job and you’ll be unhappily looking for something else.

For the employer (or recruiter), a desperate candidate may seem unfocused and unable to identify their strengths. So, they will be skeptical about your abilities. Also, employers like to hire candidates who are excited about doing the work of a particular job. So, if you do not identify why you are interested in THAT job, they will wonder whether you really want it and how long you plan to be there. They are investing in the time and expense to hire and train someone new and will not consider someone who they believe is going to leave once a more interesting opportunity comes up.  

 What to do? First, be prepared to describe what you are looking for by focusing on your strengths and interests. You can keep your answer broad to show flexibility, but there must be an emphasis on your skills and capabilities. For example, that young man could have said, “I have experience in office skills and customer service in corporate and retail environments.” Someone else might say, “I am strong in sales, business development, and marketing.” Second, seriously consider whether you really want to take “anything”, since you may find yourself looking all over again in a short time. Finally, if you ARE feeling desperate, practice answering questions in a way that conveys interest and enthusiasm. You will be more likely to get an offer….and a better one at that!



Surprise! Are you ready for an employer’s phone call?

The dog is barking, the TV is blasting, and food is boiling over on the stove…the phone rings…and it’s someone calling about your résumé.  If you don’t do something fast, your “first impression” is going to be your last! When you are in job hunting mode, you need be prepared for such calls. Many job seekers do not realize that it is as important to impress the employer by phone as it is in person. It is critical that you come across as professional and someone who is prepared.

So, what should you do when you really are caught by surprise? First, thank the person for calling and politely ask if they can hold on for a minute. Use your “hold” or “mute” button while you take care of the following: turn off the stove, shut the TV and move the dog. Or, move to another room where there is no background noise.  Have a file folder ready by the phone that contains your résumé  and a list of employers you sent it to as a reference. Prepare a checklist of skills – a “cheat sheet” – of skills that you may want to emphasize during such calls. Be ready for common questions such as “Why are you interested in this job?” or “How do you qualify for this position?” Then, get ready for that phone to ring!

How many “friends” do you have?

How many FaceBook friends do you have? How many LinkedIn connections? How many followers on Twitter? Many people today are focused on the numbers of social media sites. They are addicted to schmoozing online, excited to add more contacts to their lists, proud to have others see their numbers. When I speak to job seekers about their search, they also talk about how many job ads on monster they answered and how many hours a day they spend on other job boards, etc. So what is their bottom line I want to know, for all of this counting? What “numbers” are these connections, friends, and followers yielding in terms of interviews?

I wonder, how many of these friends can help them during a job search? How many of these connections or followers would speak to them on the phone or meet them for coffee to help them? How many of them are comfortable sharing the name and contact information of a colleague of theirs who would also be willing to sit down with the “friend” and perhaps counsel them on their job search?

I recently spoke with a 40-something job seeker who told me that he sent out 10 letters for jobs and got three interviews out of it. He was embarrassed that he had only sent out 10 letters to date and wanted an opinion on how to do better than 30%. Now, we can all improve our hit rates, but I told him that a return of 30% in this economy was really great and I wanted to know more about these 10. So, he went on to describe how he got to those 10. Each one of them was a key decision maker in the company of interest and he was referred to each one specifically by different trusted colleagues. Now that is a quality connection…a real friend…someone to follow…not just a number.

You know what I am going to say here, right? It is about the relationship. It is about face to face, personal relationships. It is about the quality. How many friends do you have?   


Why is my résumé not selling me?

 Here is a question that I hear a lot:  “Why did I not get the interview for that position?… I would have been perfect for it?”  Recently, I had two candidates where I totally had to agree! In both instances, the candidates described strong experience that met the job requirements extremely well. Yet, when I looked at the candidates’ résumés, they did not address such strengths at all. The employer could not see their value. So, I could see why it did result in an interview. In fact, I find this to be a fairly common challenge for many job seekers.  

In addition, many people will tell me things like: I was awarded “top sales manager of the year,” or “employee of the month” 6 times in one year, or recognized as the “fastest-rising salesman” or whatever…..you get the point. Again, when I review their résumé, these recognitions are either not mentioned at all or they are there but placed in a very unnoticeable way.  These job seekers are not showcasing times when they are at the top of their game. Why would you NOT place such a noteworthy award, nomination, or recognition of some sort FRONT and CENTER?!

 Your strengths and highly esteemed accolades should jump off the page of the résumé and GRAB the attention of every recruiter or employer who sees it. You earned it…use any honorable mention to demonstrate your value and create desire! That is one of the secrets to getting your résumé to sell you in a more powerful way (more secrets to come!). Hope that helps!