Career Management

5 Winning Qualities That Make You Irresistibly Referable

What makes someone “referable?” With 80% of jobs filled by referral – aren’t you curious to know the answer?

By referable, I mean you are that person a colleague will rave about to an employer, saying “I’ve got someone you’ve gotta meet.

The colleague sees your gifts clearly.

She wants to champion you.

She wants credit for introducing you!

If your job search has stalled maybe you’re not passing the refer-ability test. No worries! Embrace the following 6 qualities to help you pass the test with flying colors and get referred.

1.    Be specific about what business problems you solve

Conduct a self-assessment before you begin your job search. What do you do best? For example,

·        Does your team always send you the most difficult clients? (Customer Success Expert)

·        Do you ease employees through a rapid growth phase? (Change Management Leader)

·        Do you notice problems others fail to anticipate? (Risk Disruptor)

Knowing what problems you solve helps differentiate you from everyone else. Think of it as your highlight reel which helps your network understand your value.

For example, my client Rachel knew she was good at streamlining administrative processes which boosted efficiency and morale.  She shared her “highlight reel” while networking and within 5 weeks of launching her search, she landed a job.

People who know what specific business problems they solve are much likelier to be referred.

Consider this:

  • Why were you hired at your last job? What gave you the edge? How did your edge impact the company positively?
  • Think of an accomplishment you’re proudest of. What personal qualities or skills did you use to complete it and what was the impact of the accomplishment?
  • If you were hired today, what would set you apart from everyone else a year from now, and how will it affect the bottom line?

2.    Be clear about the role you want and companies you’re targeting

Too many job seekers say, “I’m keeping my options open.” This approach may be convenient for you, but boy it’s tough on everyone else.

Here’s an analogy: You would never say to a friend, “I want any old spouse.”

It’s silly, right? Because

  1. You DON’T want any old spouse. You’d be miserable with any old spouse.
  2. As your friend, I want to help you. But you don’t “help me help you” if you don’t know what you want.

Instead, if you tell me “I’m looking for someone mid 30’s, open-minded, who’s mad about Harry Potter” you give me easy markers to make a mental inventory AND someone to look out for if this person ever crosses my path.

Consider this:

  • Using keywords and skills you generated from #1 above, do a search on LinkedIn to discover what roles match your skillset. Course correct as you go, refining the role you’re seeking.
  • What industries are you interested in working/breaking into? You can get a list here, from LinkedIn. Narrow the list down to 3-4 and announce these to your network.
  • What companies would you love to work at? Not sure? Check:

·        Local “best of” lists in your city

·        Glassdoor to see who is favored

·        Your city’s local business journal to research and learn about local companies

Being knowledgeable about specific companies makes you look like a million bucks, like a top-notch candidate your connections will chomp at the bit to refer.

3.    Be concise

Can you answer a question crisply with focus and specificity?

If you can, you will leave an excellent impression on your audience. If you struggle with this, take heart.

Consider this:

  • Join Toastmasters. The weekly structure and built-in feedback system is ideal training ground for strengthening your verbal skills in a safe, upbeat environment. It helped me tremendously.
  • Be considerate of your listener by avoiding the typical “verbal dump” of ideas:

·        Slow down when speaking.

·        Remember to punctuate your phrasing (use periods, commas, question marks).

·        Avoid digressions – particularly in professional situations where people are forming impressions of you.

4.    Listen

Employers want someone with ears. I meet many job seekers so filled with anxiousness they forget I’m there. The conversation is disappointingly one-sided and doesn’t reflect well on them. I don’t feel comfortable referring them to colleagues.

In contrast, according to Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman “good listeners are like trampolines. They are someone you can bounce ideas off of — and rather than absorbing your ideas and energy, they amplify, energize, and clarify your thinking.” When I meet a great listener, I instantly run through my mental Rolodex thinking, who can I connect her with?

Consider this:

  • During a conversation, beyond 1 minute, do you know most people tune you out? Flip the conversation back to your listener after 1 minute.
  • Be curious about others. A good rule of thumb for job-referability: If there are 2 of you, talk less than 50%. How can you deepen the conversation and offer value?

5.    Remove Chip on shoulder (if it’s there)

You may not have a chip on your shoulder. If you do, you may not know you do.

Tell-tale sign: You catch yourself complaining to others about how hard job search is:

·        “Job search shouldn’t be this hard.”

·        “Hard working people deserve good jobs.”

·        “HR sabotages the job search process, making it impossible for job seekers to meet the hiring manager.”

I’ve heard these complaints recently from job seekers and while I feel sympathetic, they don’t endear me to the person who said them. The attitude smacks of “I’m a victim” which makes you –I’m sorry to say – resistible.

Consider this:

  • Be impactful somewhere (see Toastmasters, above). If you feel your influence in other arenas, you’ll easily shrug that chip off your shoulder.
  • Assume an officer role at some organization. During my last job search I recruited Guest Speakers for our job search club. I interviewed each one and always wrote an exuberant introduction for them. One of them hired me.

The shortest distance to a job is measured by the number of people thrilled to refer you. The key to refer-ability?

Be clear about your value. Be concise. Listen well. Stay positive.

Stay connected to your highlight reel and not only will you own your job search, you will leave an indelible impression.

Have I left anything out? What qualities make you refer someone?

Photo by Asher Lapham

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a certified LinkedIn™ Profile Writer, LinkedIn trainer, Career Transition Coach and Forbes Contributor. She is the founder of Coming Alive Career Coaching, and loves teaching people how to get found on LinkedIn.  A participant in one of her workshops recently wrote: “Julie’s LinkedIn class took me from a skeptical LinkedIn novice to a believer in the power of LinkedIn!”

To learn more about 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.

What Joan Lunden Can Teach Us about Busting Through Career Barriers

How is your mindset affecting your job search?

While it’s important to master the mechanics of job search – networking, relationship building, personal branding – what you tell yourself can make or break your search.

I recently saw Joan Lunden – morning show host pioneer and intrepid journalist — deliver the keynote speech at a TrueU conference. She shared how she busted through thick-as-brick walls to reach her goals, demonstrating it’s how you champion yourself that matters.

Here are the mantras she used that cleared the path. Adopt them. They are free for the taking:

“If you want to play the game, find a way to get on the playing field.”

After Lunden graduated college, a family friend in TV suggested Joan apply for a job at a local TV station. In spite of the fact there was no actual job opening and she lacked relevant experience, she showed up at the TV station the following day and requested an interview and an audition.

Afterwards, they told her, “Nice job. Except we don’t actually have an opening.”

The weatherman there noticed her audition, and was impressed. He recommended her to another station, where she became the first female “weather girl” ever hired in Southern California.

Lunden was not thrilled being a “weather girl” because:

a) She knew nothing about weather

b) She had to wear a tight, white mini-dress and white lace-up boots (this was the early 70’s). Nevertheless she was determined to break into TV. Intuitively she knew this role was her ticket to landing a job she could eventually sink her teeth into.

As a job seeker, aim toward your future, as you chart your career. When less-than-ideal opportunities land in your lap, ask yourself: Will this opportunity provide either skills or connections to others which will move me forward? Lunden reasoned the “weather  girl” role was her ticket. It gave her exposure in front of a camera, strengthened her poise, and taught her to think on her feet.

Lunden landed on the right playing field, then bolted to 2nd base, but she had to embrace the idea that . . .

“Sometimes you have to take the risk of not being great in order to learn how to be great.”

Lunden’s popularity grew quickly after taking the weather girl job. Within 6 months, 6 stations across the country offered her a job. Not sure what to do next, she asked the same family friend for advice. He recommended she speak to his network executive friend in New York. When the executive found out she had 6 offers, he offered her a job, as a journalist. Something she’d never done before.

Fortunately, Joan had a nurturing “inner champion” who said, Say yes, then figure it out. Many of us lack an audible “inner champion,” and instead listen to our (really loud) “inner thwarter,” who says, I can’t do this job because I’m not qualified! or,  I have no experience doing that, or I’ll fail! Sound familiar?

What would be possible if you let yourself be a beginner at something you’re excited about? Imagine this: Decca records rejected the Beatles, telling them “We don’t like your sound. You have no future in show business.” It’s helpful to remember The Beatles weren’t always The Beatles.

Lunden accepted the journalism job. On the first day, a cameraman asked Lunden, “How many magazines will you need?,” referring to the film reel holder. She said, “Oh, I probably won’t have time to read magazines today.” They burst out laughing,  and took her under their wing. And thanks to them, she learned about journalism.

 

“Take every small assignment and make it shine. And then you will grow.”

After Lunden landed the coveted morning host spot on Good Morning America, Barbara Walters took her aside and gave her the advice above. Walters  chose not to fight the male-dominant TV culture (Lunden’s 2 predecessors fought it and were let go). Sure enough, Lunden’s initial assignments were about home-improvement, parenting, and consumer products, all topics she actually loved. She researched like a fiend, adding her own unique spin, and her work gained attention. Eventually she landed interviews on par with her male counterparts, reporting from 16 countries, interviewing 5 U.S. presidents, and covering 5 Olympic Games.

While Lunden clearly had good mentors who helped her along, she hit roadblocks that might intimidate the best of us. She hurdled the roadblocks because she followed the wisdom of her positive, inner champion.  Lunden models for us, be mindful of what you tell yourself. It may just come true.

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a certified LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer. She is the founder of Coming Alive Career Coaching, and loves teaching people how to get found on LinkedIn.  A participant in one of her workshops recently wrote: “Julie’s LinkedIn class took me from a skeptical LinkedIn novice to a believer in the power of LinkedIn!”

To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Optimization packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com. You can also follow Julie onTwitter and Facebook.

 

6 Steps for Pivoting Into Your Next Job Breathlessly Insanely Fast

My friend Amy just nabbed her ideal job, after a 6 month search. While she’s thrilled where she landed, she knows this won’t be the last company she ever works for.

“Next time, I don’t want the job search to take so long. I’m dreaming, aren’t I?” she asked me.

Not at all. In fact, I wish more people thought like Amy.

No job is permanent. All it takes is one little change of command to get hauled into HR on a dime. No one expects to be laid off or stuck in a dead-end job, but that’s life these days. Here are 5 steps you can take to pivot into your next job breathlessly, insanely fast.

1. Engage on LinkedIn enthusiastically

First, your LinkedIn profile is optimized, current and engaging, right?

Second, if you’re not active on LinkedIn now, today is a great day to start. William Arruda suggests all you need is 9 minutes a day:

  • share a status update on something you’re an expert on
  • request to connect with someone you admire
  • join a Group, comment and provide insights
  • share an accomplishment

Worried your boss will think you’re passively job searching as a result of your activity on LinkedIn? Choose one of these responses:

  • “You’re not interested in massive brand reach and lead generation? Oh my, we need to talk!”
  •  “By highlighting my accomplishments, it makes YOU look good. Other companies enjoy doing business with winners.”

I have a lot of clients who love their jobs, who actively work the LinkedIn ecosystem. They understand this platform is much more than a job search tool: It’s a vibrant way to provide value, serve others, and learn.

2. Keep a running list of the ongoing impact you’re having, quantifying results.

I’ve created LinkedIn profiles and resumes for CFOs, Lean Six Sigma experts and Sales Managers who scratched their heads when I asked them how they contributed to revenue, sales and bottom line – the very information hiring managers care about most.

You will make your life so much easier at the next go-round by tracking your accomplishments along the way. While your job isn’t only about numbers, you will forget the results you created during that product launch 2 years ago. Record your successes!

3. Have productive conversations at least twice a month with people who work at interesting companies

Really. You can do 2 a month. Over a year, that’s 24 people you’ve developed relationships with whom you can help, who may be able to help/refer yousomeday.

I get it. It’s so easy to say, I haven’t got time to meet new people. Consider this: People are much more open to meeting with a stranger who is employed than one who isn’t. (Though you meet with and help job seekers, right?)

To find both interesting companies and the people who work there: Google

  • Top Workplaces 2016 in [your city]
  • [your state] chamber best places to work
  • Top companies for work-life balance
  • Contact thought leaders in your industry and ask them

Once you’ve discovered which companies to pursue, find insiders and hiring managers who work there using LinkedIn, and write a glowing, personalized connection request.

And at the end of every productive conversation please always ask, “How can I help you?”

4. Grow your number of LinkedIn connections

The greater number of connections you have, the greater your reach. The more genuine, legitimate 1st degree connections you have, the more people you have in your corner who can refer you to people in their network.

It’s to your advantage to be a genuine connector, not a people collector.

5. Grow your number of LinkedIn Recommendations

Recommendations are like stars on Yelp – and you can never have too many. Make sure recommendations written by colleagues, mentors and managers are specific and reflect the superpowers you most enjoy using.

I really like this recommendation template by Adrian Granzella Larssen. It’s not rude or over-stepping by inserting it into your LinkedIn recommendation request. On the contrary! Do you enjoy writing a recommendation from scratch? Didn’t think so. Help out your reference by providing a guideline. They will appreciate you.

6. Do you pass the “ layoff test ?”

I learned the phrase, “pass the layoff test” from Alan Henry. Here’s the test: If you were laid off today, do you have 10 people in your network you can reach out to, for support and to troubleshoot next-steps? If not, that’s a sign you’ve let your network languish. Time then to get to work and rebuild relationships.

John Maxwell says, “Your network is your net worth.” In other words, your best asset is the people you know. Take good care of your future while you’re still employed by following the steps above, and remember: The shortest distance to a job is measured by the number of people who are thrilled to refer you.

Stay in touch, build new relationships and keep thrilling others by serving well.

Image:Depositphotos@iqoncept

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a certified LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer. She is the founder of Coming Alive Career Coaching, and loves teaching people how to get found on LinkedIn.  A participant in one of her workshops recently wrote: “Julie’s LinkedIn class took me from a skeptical LinkedIn novice to a believer in the power of LinkedIn!”

To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Optimization packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com. You can also follow Julie onTwitter and Facebook.

6 Job Search Strategies that Provide Lifetime Career Insurance

Extra-terrestrials looking down on Earth might study our job search process and be baffled. They would notice a disconnect: Jobs are required for survival, yet we lack a humane, transparent structure for actually obtaining a job.

“Huh!” they’d say. “It’s as if swimming is required for survival on their planet, yet they don’t teach them to swim. How bizarre!”

The traditional job search process is inhumane, shrouded in mystery, and rigged in favor of the employer: Apply to a job board along with hundreds of others, and wait. You follow up, with little or no response. It’s frustrating and mysterious with no human contact. All aspects of it feel beyond the job seeker’s control, demeaning, and rarely yield a job.

There’s another way.

Is it easy? No. Will you get frustrated? Sometimes. Is it faster than using job boards? YES.

Here are the payoffs:

  • You control most aspects of it while maintaining your dignity
  • You create and grow lasting relationships (for your next job search. And there WILL be a next job search).
  • You evolve professionally because you’re having live conversations with people at companies that interest you, learning what you like and don’t like.
  • It’s career insurance, because it’s a sustainable process. It hinges on relationship building, on the fundamental principle that people want to hire people they know . . . not people who applied to job boards. (See Hannah Morgan’s excellent article here).

Here are some examples of how to apply sustainable job search strategies:

Demonstrate how you stand out from your peers

As marketing guru Seth Godin says, “To be successful you must be remarkable – a purple cow in a field of monochromatic Holsteins.” If standing out is hard for you to do, please enlist help from a career professional. “Purple cows” get found, and establish their credibility faster. Your LinkedIn profile and your resume should skillfully convey your uniqueness and how you will solve an employer’s problems. Whether you like the idea of personal branding or not, it is necessary these days.

Nurture old and new professional relationships

This morning I heard from my LinkedIn client Eric Dudley,* whose profile I completed early December 2015.

Here was our conversation:

Eric: Hey Julie! Just wanted you to know I landed a job this week

Julie: What great news! Congratulations! I’m curious, how did you land the job?

Eric: I sent out a letter to old friends and co-workers last fall, announcing I was available.  One of them needed an operations guy. It’s a great fit.

Eric understands a fundamental job search basic: Maintaining close professional ties with colleagues while you’re employed translates to job insurance when you’re not.

Take a “Ready, Aim, Fire” approach

Don’t let anxiousness propel your job search. Instead, first define what you really want to do next, by clarifying your best strengths and accomplishments. It will save you time.

“Keeping your options open” will slow your search. I know a job seeker who sent an email to his entire network saying, “If you know of a job I might like, please let me know.” Make it easy for your network to help you by being specific.  Provide a job title you’re aiming for, an industry, and companies you’re targeting. Read this fantastic article by Lisa Rangel on how to build your list of targeted companies.

Structure your job search

Be sure you go to bed each night with a plan about what you will accomplish tomorrow. Waking up with an empty calendar is depressing and overwhelming. I spoke to a job seeker recently who refuses to set goals so he won’t be disappointed in himself if he doesn’t accomplish them. “I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on myself.” Not surprisingly, he hasn’t had an interview in weeks.

Next to a job offer, your primary objective is landing an interview. During my own job search, I set the goal of landing 3-5 interviews a week. Was that hard? Yes! However I learned that the more new people I met, the higher likelihood of an interview. My days revolved around increasing the number of “productive conversations” (what some refer to as informational interviews).

Solicit and engage in productive conversations

Invaluable, these will make all the difference in your job search. Here’s a success story: I worked with a client last fall who wanted to land a job fast. She knew she had one superpower: Transforming chaos into order. She had lots ofaccomplishment stories to show for it too.

She targeted 5 specific companies she wanted to work at, and introduced herself to people who worked there, either over the phone or met them for coffee, asking for advice and gaining insights about what it was like to work there. Within 5 weeks she had a job offer.

What is a “productive conversation?” An introductory conversation based on like-mindedness, which you initiate with someone who works at a company you’re targeting, who can give you career advice.  It’s an information exchange.

Productive conversations increase the value of the relationship both ways. You are valuable to them because many companies offer referral incentives today. To learn more about the art of productive conversations, read these excellent suggestions by career expert Lilly Zhang.

Join a job search community

I’ve written about that here. According to career expert Orville Pierson, you will shorten your search by 20% by joining a community. You’ll receive feedback from other job seekers, as well as referrals, and an ongoing support system of people in the trenches along with you. You will lift each other up, and learn clever tricks even your job coach may not have thought of.

To recap: Make your brand clear. Build relationships. Talk to people. Connect with fellow job seekers. By doing so, you learn to swim, not sink, in the job market – cultivating a skill that will last you a lifetime.

*Eric cheerfully gave permission for me to use his name.

Image:Depositphotos@kwest

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a certified LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer. She is the founder of Coming Alive Career Coaching, and loves teaching people how to get found on LinkedIn.  A participant in one of her workshops recently wrote: “Julie’s LinkedIn class took me from a skeptical LinkedIn novice to a believer in the power of LinkedIn!”

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 onTwitter and Facebook.

The Costliest Mistake Job Seekers Make

In 2006, my one-year teaching contract ended and I decided to find a corporate job. Piece of cake, I thought. After all, I’d just taught Shakespeare to college students.

Boy, was I wrong.

Three months and only one job interview later, I was still unemployed. This was especially nerve-wracking as I was a recently divorced mother of two. Desperate times called for desperate measures. I contacted my local state employment program and joined a job search club to help me figure this whole “job search thing” out.

That decision changed everything. Within 3 months, I received 2 offers in one week.

Colorful nesting boxes on blue sky

I credit a job search community for not only shortening my job search, but transforming it. According to job search expert Orville Pierson, joining a community of fellow job seekers can reduce your search time by 20%. That turns a 5 month search into a less-costly 4.

Here are the benefits:

You will learn tricks.

I was clueless about how to conduct a productive job search: I didn’t know about elevator speeches, informational interviews, and personal branding. Say what? Explain my “value proposition” in 30 seconds? Speak to complete strangers to “exchange information?” What was this strange language that flowed off of everyone’s tongue but mine?

Before long though, I learned the art of job search by being immersed in a job search culture with fellow job seekers. The state employment program and job club community taught me practical action steps that increased my interview rate. In fact, during the final week of my search, I had 3 interviews in one day. (I don’t advise this, by the way!)

You will receive vital feedback.

While attending the free workshops offered by my local state employment program here in Indiana, WorkOne, we often divided into pairs, and gave each other feedback when rehearsing our STAR stories. Several people told me, “Pare it down. Get to the point faster.” I needed to learn to be more concise.

I had a choice: Feel humiliated or grateful. I chose gratitude and adjusted my behavior. The feedback you receive won’t just make you a better job seeker, but a better employee. Without community, you miss out on vital information that will shorten your search.

Today I meet many job seekers who self-sabotage themselves, unaware of how ineffectively they come across to others. If you find yourself in a protracted job search, find someone to practice interviewing with and be open to feedback. The advice shared may be the magic bullet needed to shave weeks off of your job search.

You will gain dozens of accountability partners.

Having a group of kind, like-minded faces peer back at me each week helped me stay positive and hopeful. Plus each week, those who’d been in the trenches awhile beamed in triumph with news of landing a job. All of us were eager to hear them tell their job search success story.

I credit those alliances with fueling my job search momentum. We all reported our progress each week, heard feedback when we’d stumble, received praise for risking. I always left each meeting with new ideas to try. Early on someone offhandedly suggested I add a line of praise from a Reference letter to the top of my resume. I started landing more interviews as a result of that piece of advice.

You will gain confidence.

My confidence took off after I joined community. Because the career coaches and job club facilitators stress face-to-face activities like networking and volunteering, I practiced honing my message with each new person I met. I quickly learned what made people light up with interest, and what made their eyes glaze over. (Hint: People light up when you listen well and demonstrate succinctly how you can resolve their business pain).

As my confidence increased, my number of interviews increased. Like anything you practice daily and are committed to, you improve.

Conducting an effective job search is not instinctive. Most people fall back on the default strategy of applying to job boards. Sadly, that strategy has run its course, and most often leads to a frustrating dead end. (Job boards were my “go to” during my first 3 months. Remember? ONE interview!).  When I learned the actual skills needed to conduct a productive job search, the tide turned in my favor. Learning these skills in the arms of a supportive community made that challenging period of my life so much easier.

To find a state-funded Employment Center near you, click this link: Career OneStop Job Center, and enter your city, state or zip code in the “Location” cell, and click Search. Good luck!

Image: Depositphotos@frenta

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 here today. If you did, be sure to share this article with your connections. They will definitely appreciate your thoughtfulness.

1 Secret Tip to Maintaining Warm Ties on LinkedIn

This morning, LinkedIn sent me a notice asking me to congratulate my acquaintance Jane for her 5 years at Seeking Employment. While  glad to be reminded of  Jane, would you agree that congratulations are not in order?

Many LinkedIn users  feel annoyed by these “anniversary alert emails” precisely because of the clumsy scenario above, or else feel mystified by how to respond. Out of frustration, many choose to unsubscribe to these persistent notifications.

I say, resist the urge! Instead:labelless can1

Turn these auto-reminders into an opportunity to reconnect with your network.

Before you say, why bother?, let’s first remember why staying connected with your network is so vital for your career management.

A network full of cold connections on LinkedIn has no value to you. For example, you know the can in your food pantry without a label? It sits there taking up space. A cold connection — which is essentially someone you’ve not had contact with in over a year — is similar to that label-less can. Consider this scenario: Let’s say a connection in your network loses her job and reaches out to you for help, or asks you to introduce her to a prospect in your network—though she hasn’t touched base with you in years.  How will that cause you to feel?

Reluctant? Irritated perhaps?

That’s why LinkedIn has developed this “anniversary alert email,” to help you turn your cold relationships warm again. By investing 15 minutes of your day to reconnect with your network, you will reap the dividends when you need it most. Since no job exists forever,  a strong net(work) will support you when you choose (or are forced) to leave, and can help you land more quickly on your feet.

Here’s how I suggest you respond to those anniversary notices.

1. Review the profile

Take a couple of minutes to review the profile. How often do you meet people when networking who say, I’m looking for someone in the finance industry, or, I really need an IT guy, stat!, and you stand there scratching your head. When I review the people in my network, they are front of mind so I can be of  more value to people I meet. Isn’t that the point of networking? So we can help each other?

2. Find like-mindedness, shared experiences

With some you may find it easier to re-ignite that spark: Reminding them of how you met, or what you remember about them.

With others it may not be that simple. If it’s truly a cold connection–someone I don’t know– I always find something to relate to: a city we both lived in, interesting jobs they’ve had. I  always find something to affirm–the assumption being, if you’re in my network, I’m on your side.

2. Next, write back

Here’s what I recently wrote:

“Congratulations on starting your new handyman business. That takes guts. Anything in particular you’re interested in learning about LinkedIn? That’s my specialty, glad to help. . . I wish I had your skills. You get to put your stamp on things that bewilder me! All my best, Julie.”

He wrote back the next day, and our conversation continues. As a result, both our nets became tighter.

Today I encourage you to take a couple of extra minutes to follow up with your connections. By doing so,  you’ll do a favor for both of you, eliminating one more label-less can off of your shelf.

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.

 

Taking the Reins of Your Career Path: 3 Essential Moves

I never managed my career. I never knew it was a thing. It mattered less when jobs lasted longer, and job searches happened only every 10 years or so. (Can you believe that was a thing, too?)

It’s sure different now. Every day, a different career expert writes, “You’re now a company of one, and need to start thinking with the clarity and vision of an entrepreneur.” The tagline for Careerealism is “Because every job is temporary.” When I first discovered Careerealism, the tagline seemed radical and edgy. Today it seems wise.

Four years ago I realized I was unhappy at my job. The unhappiness was a great wake up call though:  Time to grab the reins of my career, which I did. I tested and learned several new skills—some I liked, some I didn’t. I focused on doing things I enjoyed. Last May, I took the leap, and officially started my own business. I wish I knew the following 3 things at the beginning of my last job, so that I didn’t spend so much time languishing at a job that wasn’t a great fit. Here are 3 steps for getting back on path:penguin on shark

1. Maintain and work your LinkedIn profile

There are so many ways to work your profile, but here’s one I love, yet rarely see. It helps you maintain your excitement and edge, reminding yourself and others–hey, I belong here!, and is just darn juicy.  Besides that, it contributes value (more on that in a minute):

  • List your accomplishments regularly.

If you have  no accomplishments to add to your LinkedIn profile, that might be an indication you’re not growing at your company. Red flag there! Ideally, you regularly complete new projects and contribute to the company’s savings and growth. Figure out how to quantify that, and add it to your profile.

This is important for two reasons: One, it is data for your annual review, to justify your raise. If you are contributing value and savings, and a raise or promotion isn’t offered, it may be time to move on. Either way, listing your accomplishments on LinkedIn will position yourself well to be recruited by other companies and recruiters. Your Summary section will sing your value.

I hear you protest, But I don’t want my company to see my updates. They will think I’m looking for a job! What many companies don’t realize is accomplishments on your profile show both clients and viewers the health of your company. It reflects well on your company for you to have a robust profile. It’s short-sighted of an employer to be threatened by it. Remind them of that. Tell them, “The better I look, the better we look!”

  • Provide status updates daily

Add 1-3 status updates daily. Share a link to your recent blog post, or share an update of a colleague or thought leader; provide an insight about your industry ; a quote that inspires you. And don’t forget to share a professional accomplishment above such as, “Just landed national account after 3 months of conversation. Very excited to begin this engagement!”  According to Victoria Ipri, the ratio should be 4 to 1: Four professional updates for every 1 accomplishment

  • Grow your network

Make 500 connections your goal, before your next job search. Why? That number of connections causes LinkedIn algorithms to shift in your favor. Be careful about being opportunistic though, and clicking the plus sign beside people’s names. Find something in common, and personalize each request to connect. LinkedIn is a relationship building tool first and foremost. Reach out to people who inspire you online or  while standing in line at Qdoba, or after a networking event. If the day ever comes when you are out of a job, you now have a robust referral base to draw from.

2. Practice self-advocacy regularly

Most people squirm at this idea. My favorite rationalization for self-advocacy comes from Karen Kang. Letting people know your accomplishments is not boastful or bad. Instead, you’re educating people, helping people understand your value. This starts to fall in the personal branding arena, and that’s exactly the point of self-advocating. Your boss has many things on her mind, and advocating for you may not be at the top of her list; it’s your job to do that. As Kang says, “In today’s economy, you have to be responsible for your own destiny. . . Don’t be a victim. Be your own brand manager.”

Articulating what you do best isn’t just for others’ education. It’s for you. I met with a client recently who is an account manager, but couldn’t articulate what separates her from the rest. “I’ve no idea. They’ve beat it out of me!” she joked, referring to her employers. She works for a company where praise is frowned upon, where the mentality is, “We pay you. That’s praise enough.”

I suggest you don’t lose sight of your own value to the point where you can no longer articulate it.

3. Meet 15-20 minutes with someone new you respect, several times a year

If this sounds like an informational interview, that’s because it is! In a nutshell, you recession-proof your life by meeting people you respect and admire at interesting companies. It’s best to do it when the stakes are low, so do it while you’re employed. Listen and discern their pain points. Get a feel for their company. Is this the kind of place you might like to work?

It’s best to avoid getting so “head down” that when you do come up for air, (i.e. you got downsized, realize you’re unhappy) all your professional relationships have languished. Continue to grow new relationships and nurture the ones you have, meet new people, become the confident and Trusted Advisor for people outside your company. When you most need them, when you’re vulnerable, you will be the person they will refer to their boss when an opening becomes available.

Many people I know complain about their bad bosses. The kindest, wisest thing you can do in the absence of a good boss, is to be one for yourself.

image: © Depositphotos.com /lightsource

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a career coach, LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover Specialist, public speaker and blogger. She is the founder and principal at Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages, or to receive a complementary Ebook on optimizing your LinkedIn profile, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com.  If you enjoyed this post, or know someone who would, please share it!