Month: January 2015

How to Take Charge of Your Dead-End Job Search

Last weekend the power went out while sitting at the movie theatre watching Wild.  After awhile, I struck up a conversation with the young woman sitting next to me, a bubbly, recent college grad named Rachel. I asked her about her life, and within minutes her sparkle dulled as she expressed her frustration with her dead-end  job selling shoes. With further probing, I learned 3 things she’s not doing in her job search that are keeping her stuck.

Her frustrations are universal. By adopting  the following remedies, she can pull her job search forward and kiss her retail job goodbye.Breakthrough dead end job search1

Here’s what she told me:

1) Her job search is isolated.

“I do it by myself,” she said.

In today’s market, that approach will prolong her search and keep her knee-deep in shoe boxes. According to career expert Orville Pierson, those who join fellow job-seekers in community shorten their search by 20%. In other words, a 5 month search becomes 4. Job searching with others will boost your morale, hold you accountable, provide networking opportunities, and give you up-to-the-minute information about job search strategies.

In the U.S., I suggest  connecting to free, state-funded job search centers  here, by entering your zip code in the Get Help Near You section. These centers offer workshops on  all aspects of job search.

In 2006 when I was between jobs, I credit my job search community for landing my job in the hidden job market. At a job search club I belonged to, I recruited guest speakers each week. One of the speakers I interviewed liked me so much he hired me. Joining community is vital in your job search.

2) Her LinkedIn Profile is “meh.” 

“I’m not a good writer, plus I’m not good at bragging about myself!” she said.

I hear these two complaints a lot from job seekers; however, clinging to them may hold you back, and here’s why.

A well-written LinkedIn profile is the linchpin of your career search, which I wrote about here. Let’s pretend you start chatting with a hiring manager at a movie theater when the power goes out–could happen right? You exchange business cards. The first thing she will do when she gets to the office is Google  you. The top result of her search in most cases will be your LinkedIn profile. While chatting with Rachel during the power outtage, I peeked at her Profile on my Smart phone. Her Summary section is a desultory list of keywords, reflecting none of her dazzle.

Now back to her bragging concern. Instead, I suggest you reframe “bragging” as educating others quickly about how you offer value. You know how the app Shazam detects an unknown song in an instant? Your well-branded, results-driven,  and engaging profile works just like Shazam. Showcase your value in an irresistible way on LinkedIn, and you will get found.

3) She avoids networking events.

“Who knows who will show up at those things?!” she said.

Since 80% of jobs are filled through referral, networking is key to job search.  If you’re anxious about networking, start with less overtly “networky” events. Rachel loves ping pong and is passionate about homelessness. She can join a local table-tennis club and volunteer at local homeless shelters. She can also bring a friend to feel safer.

During job search, it’s important  to “bump up” against new people to befriend. As Susan Cain says, you don’t have to be opportunistic when networking. Instead,  “Find someone in the room who’s a kindred spirit.” Creating a genuine connection will create goodwill, a friend in the world who will say great things about you.

In an interesting parallel, when the movie re-starts, the main character Cheryl Strayed quotes Emily Dickenson and says, “If your Nerve deny you – Go above your Nerve.” To break out of her dead-end job, Rachel will need to go above her nerve. When she does, she will find a job she loves.

image: © Depositphotos.com/lightsource

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a  LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer  She is the founder of  Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com.  You can also follow Julie on Twitter and Facebook.  

I hope you found some helpful information on this list. If you did, be sure to share this article with your connections. They will definitely appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Do You Make This LinkedIn Mistake?

Is there a LinkedIn connection  request from a stranger staring back at you on your computer?  Many people I know aren’t sure how to respond when those pesky invites come in. Some click Ignore, while others simply accept, thinking to themselves, “Well, it will boost my numbers, and that’s a good thing.”

Neither response above is the ideal approach. By clicking Ignore, you may pass up an opportunity. By blindly accepting the connection request, you’re taking a “Collecter” rather than a “Connector” approach to growing your network.  The drawback as a “Collector” is you have a whole lot of unhelpful, cold connections in your network. In a pinch, those simply won’t do, right?cold to warm1

As I said in my last blog, warm relationships aren’t created with one click. It takes time, energy and thoughtfulness  to create the “know, like, trust” factor  essential for client engagement. As Tom Bukacek tweeted recently: “If people like you they’ll listen to you. If they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

What can you do to transform a cold connection request into a warm one?

(Note: You can only do this on your Smart phone, where the “Reply” option is available. It’s not available on your PC). It looks like this on my iPhone:

Reply_Connection request

 

Here is how I’ve had success,  in two easy steps:

1. View their profile and find something in common.

Perhaps it’s a LinkedIn Group you both belong to, an interest you both share, a city you both lived in, a college you both attended. Find like-mindedness, to pave the way for connection.

2. Hit the Reply arrow

Here’s how I replied recently to “Sabrina” (and pay no attention to that silly typo question mark in first line):

to J reply 2

Here is what Sabrina wrote back:

J reply to me 3

I was thrilled to receive this! Not only did she wipe out the anonymity factor and become more “real,” but she taught me how I can be of value to her.

Guess what my next blog is going to be about? Sabrina asked about profile optimization, and I’m happy to deliver.

In most cases, people reply to me with helpful, thoughtful information because I reached out to them. Other times they won’t. If they don’t, it makes the decision easier to hit “Ignore.” My philosophy–unless they are obvious Spammers–is to assume the best and “tease out” I can provide value to them, or them to me.

LinkedIn is a teeming ecosystem, with  endless opportunity for relationship building.  If people are “stopping by” to say hello by clicking the little blue guy, make the most of this opportunity. Slow down and be curious about them, just like you would at a live networking event. They just might turn into your most solid ally.

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a  LinkedIn™ Profile Writer, LinkedIn trainer & public speaker, career coach,  and blogger. She is the founder and principal at Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com.  Follow Julie @CAcareercoach.

If you enjoyed this post, or know someone who would, please share it.

The Risk of Clicking the Little Blue Guy on LinkedIn

I came home recently to discover my husband Steve glued to his smart phone, cheeks flushed with excitement.

“Whatcha doin?” I asked.

“LinkedIn is starting to make sense!  It recommended these People You May Know so I started clicking the little blue guys next to people’s names. I clicked over 50 names, and my phone is blowing up now with people accepting my request!”

He peered up at me over his readers. “What? You look sick all of a sudden. I’m confused. Don’t you always say I should grow my network?”

I was thrilled he was exploring LinkedIn, so I acknowledged that. “You are so excited at the responses you’re getting!” I  waited before launching into Miss LinkedIn Know-It-All. clicking the little blue guy

“Yes! I didn’t realize how easy this is,” he said.

“Can I share a quickie LinkedIn lesson that’s easy to forget?”

He nodded.

“LinkedIn makes connecting easy, for sure.  People prefer to do business with people they know, like,  and trust, and LinkedIn is a perfect ecosystem for establishing your credibility. Here’s the thing:  Clicking the little blue guy can mess with the “know, like, trust” factor.”

“Why?”

“Because when you click that blue guy, it sends a default message to the recipient which is, I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn. That’s it. It’s blah and impersonal. Think of it this way:  If someone walked up to you at a networking event, handed you his business card without saying a word and then walked away, what would you do?”

“I’d probably put it in my pocket and forget about it,” he said.

“Exactly. His awkward networking move is the equivalent of clicking the little blue guy in the People You May Know area.  You’ve  “collected” a name in your network with someone you don’t know; the trail between you is cold.”

Steve says, “So it’s like having a can in your pantry with no label. The one that sits there unused for years, taking up space.”

“Bingo,” I said. “Here’s another risk: Let’s say now you’re connected to Jerry Smith through the little blue guy. In a couple weeks your friend Rick calls you and says, “Hey Steve—I see you’re connected to Jerry Smith on LinkedIn. I’d love it if you’d introduce us.” You have to tell Rick “Crap! I don’t really know Jerry. Sorry buddy.”

“Now your “know, like, trust factor” has diminished in Rick’s eyes. He can’t rely on you to provide referrals, like you can rely on him. See, Rick knows not to click the little blue guy. He personalizes each connection request, starting the relationship on warm, solid footing. In addition, he stays in touch with his network, providing value in all the ways he can through LinkedIn. As a result, Rick’s “know, like, trust” vibe is through the roof.”

I also tell Steve about the other down side to clicking the blue guy: If 5 people you invite that way respond with “I don’t know Steve,” your account will be restricted. You can get it unrestricted, but I suggest avoiding the hassle in the first place.

The good news is, this whole conversation gave me the chance to reveal how forgiving an ecosystem LinkedIn is. Steve can work on growing his relationships with these new “cold” connections in spite of a rocky start. He can:

  • Message them privately, reviewing their profiles, finding like-mindedness and commonalities, laying the groundwork for information sharing
  • He can provide status updates that his connections value
  • He can write blogs that offer insights and information that benefit his network, boosting his “know, like, trust” factor

That said,  it’s harder to turn a cold relationship warm than a warm relationship warmer.

Steve’s initial hunch was right: LinkedIn does make so much sense. It’s a rich online environment for finding prospects, earning their trust, and creating mutually beneficial professional relationships. But in relationship building there are no shortcuts, which is why we need to avoid being seduced by the little blue guy, who makes us think a real relationship is just a click away.


 

Are you wondering now how you turn a cold connection request you receive into a warm relationship? I have a way, and will write about that in my next blog!

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a  LinkedIn™ Profile Writer, LinkedIn trainer & public speaker, career coach,  and blogger. She is the founder and principal at Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn,  contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com.  Follow Julie @CAcareercoach.

If you enjoyed this post, or know someone who would, please share it!