The A-Z list of “careers” Recruiters cover in a typical week

Posted By on September 12, 2012

Being a recruiter is like being an……

  • Agent
  • Blogger
  • Coach
  • Data Entry Clerk
  • Economist
  • Financial Analyst
  • Gambler
  • Human Resource Assistant
  • Immigration Expert
  • Journalist
  • Kiss-ass
  • Lobbyist
  • Marketer
  • Negotiator
  • Order Taker
  • Psychologist
  • Quality Control Analyst
  • Researcher
  • Sales Rep
  • Talent Scout
  • Undercover Agent
  • Vendor Manager
  • Writer
  • eXecutive Search Consultant
  • Yes man
  • All which leads to being a BooZehound

Easy breezy, anybody can be a recruiter.

Cheers to that!

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Corporate America; where’s the loyalty…..man?

Posted By on June 12, 2012

Really, is any job safe anymore? No. Not really.

Employees are just a number. Doesn’t really matter how many years you’ve been at a company, how loyal you’ve been, how hard you work, how good you are (for the most part), or really how much you make. In fact, the longer you’re at a company, the more you make, the higher likelihood you’ll be cut when it’s time. Nobody’s safe anymore. What happened to the days when people would stay at one company their entire careers? Long, long gone.

Companies care about two things; revenues and profit margins, or a combination of something like that. They’ll steamroll right over you if either falter.

I’ve asked myself this question quite a bit over the years. Why are there so many ineffective and virtually worthless employees at these big companies? I’ve seen it, heard numerous stories about it, but never understood how one could not give one damn about what you do at work on a daily basis. I just never grasped that concept.

But I do now. I think these “worthless” people had good intentions to start their career. Showed up early, worked hard, put in the extra effort and hours, and eventually got shit on one way or another through layoffs, pay cuts, or something of the like. They became cynical. These companies beat them down into not caring anymore, through one way or another. Politics, HR, corporate crap.

My advice?

No longer can you count on a company to have your back, or to support you financially through pensions or long term benefits after giving half your life to them. Do great work, but don’t be complacent. Keep up to date with happenings and technology in your profession of choice. Know that at any given moment, somebody may make a decision at your company that can change your life. Be prepared at ALL times. Keep you resume and LinkedIn profile up to date. Network! And don’t go into middle management, it’s the first place they look to cut. Heck, be a consultant if you’re good. You make more money, can choose your gigs, and get paid for every hour you put in. And you typically know when your project is coming to a end.

In the end, watch out for yourself and your family. People and companies have ulterior motives that benefit them, not you.

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How NOT to retain and engage your employees; a lesson from Corporate America

Posted By on July 13, 2011

We hear a lot about creating talent management strategies, engaging your employees, retention, quality of hire, and how all of these are essential to run a successful and profitable business. These ideas aren’t new, and are at the core of how HR and Recruiting have added value throughout organizations big and small for years, but more specifically within the last few. As the job market gets hotter and hotter, it’s an increasingly challenging problem facing all companies. Finding the best talent available isn’t easy, and it’s double hard trying to retain the talent, especially right now.

The story behind the post: Someone that’s very close to me (not naming names or companies) has worked at the same company since graduating at the top of her class in college. She’s an extremely hard worker (I have knowledge of this when I’ve seen this person working nights, weekends, etc.), and possesses very marketable skills for the current job market right now. Her company has treated her well for the most part, and she’s gotten some promotions throughout the way. However, she still makes a little less than market rate, and up until now, that’s been OK. So what changed you may ask?

During her recent review, which is generally a very positive experience for her, she received a rating that was way below what she’s gotten during her 10 years of being at the company. And this isn’t just a little low, it wasn’t even close to what she’s gotten before. This is after the fact that she led a fairly large project, put in a lot of hours, time, and effort, and delivered the project successfully (it’s even up for some internal awards). So you can imagine her disbelief when her manager informed her of her rating, which defines her contributions as “at or below the minumum required job responsibilities”.

The excuse for this? Everyone within the business unit has to equal out to a specific rating, no matter what. And since she just got promoted 6 months ago, and the rest of the business was working a lot of overtime trying to deliver another project, they figured she’s the likely target to take the brunt of the rating decrease (at least that’s what she was told for the most part). Now again, this is a rating decrease that isn’t even close to what she’s gotten in the past, and this rating effects your yearly bonus and is on your permanent employee record. Overachievers don’t like this.

So here you have a dedicated, valuable employee, busting her ass for a project for the last 6 months to help the company achieve better profits etc., but basically being told in her review that you suck (on paper). How frickin’ stupid in this? To me, it’s pretty absurd!

The big corporate policies in place have dictated that you have to maintain this rating average no matter what the cost, even if that cost is a significant drop in dedication, work ethic, and productivity of your employees. I’m telling you, this will NOT work for you in the long-term. I don’t care how great your company is; if your employees don’t feel valued or engaged, they’ll leave OR they’ll just check out and do the absolute minimum to get by. Is that worth your big corporate policies?

Now you have an employee that has an overachieving personality (which is hard to find these days), is smart, does great work, that just doesn’t see the reason why she should work hard anymore. Why should she? There’s nothing in it for her anymore.

In the last few years with the down job market and economy, some companies have developed an attitude towards their employees that they need the company more than the company needs the employee. While that may have worked when there’s not a lot of jobs available, things have changed folks. IT is hot, and it’s not slowing down.

Don’t treat your employees like this, it’ll cost you.

Lesson learned from Corporate America.

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Increasing your online presence? Social Media? Not so fast…

Posted By on April 18, 2011

I haven’t blogged since last year, it’s been a busy busy 2011 so far, which is great news. But this was personal and got my attention.

The economy has rebounded a bit, people and companies are spending money again, and in general the attitude towards the workforce has been much more positive than in the last few years. With that, companies are jumping in to leverage social media and are investing time and money into increasing their online presence. It makes sense doesn’t it? The more people that can find you, the better chance you have at landing a new customer.

While true, this also means more customers can make their voice heard, good or bad.

I recently made a very large purchase, and was treated so unfairly and poor, that I made sure to voice my concerns online. I found it pretty ironic that once I started to research the company in question, they made numerous references that they were starting to increase their online presence. I’m sure glad they did, it just gave me more avenues to vent my frustrations and write honest reviews about the service I received.

So think about this. How many purchases have you made (let’s say over $500) in the last year where you haven’t went online and researched the company or product that you were either buying or buying into? I would say that 75% of all big ticket purchases are heavily researched. It’s definitely a customer driven market. So think about this again. During your research of these products or companies, how much do you look at negative reviews before proceeding with your purchase? I would say 100% of the people doing the research are focusing on the negative reviews, no matter how many positive ones are out there. My situation was a little different. The company that I decided to use for the services I received didn’t have any reviews online. Now they have one, a very bad one on a lot of different sites. How do you think that will affect their business? I’m guessing heavily.

Increasing your online presence, both personally and as a business has risks. You can minimize those risks by simply going above and beyond what it takes to make customers happy. Sometimes, that’s not as simple as it may seem. At the very least, use Google Alerts or Yahoo Alerts or something similar to monitor you, your brand, or your company. And make sure you have someone that does the monitoring or that is personally responsible for everything that’s on the web.

So the moral of the story here is be careful. Absolutely increase your online presence, it leads to more customers. But make damn sure you do everything you possibly can to treat customers as they should be treated, and remedy the situations where customers are unhappy before it gets to the web.

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How to write a Technical Resume

Posted By on September 24, 2010

Writing a resume can be challenging, and you probably get tons of varying advice from lots of different people. I’ll say it again, but there really isn’t one way to write a resume, but there are a lot of ways to write an incorrect one. Take bits and pieces of the advice you get, and mold that advice into your own style and resume. I’ll cover the basics, but feel free to add your own touch beyond the basics.

Cover Letters. I don’t receive them much, so I haven’t put a lot of stock into them. However, I do think they can add value if written right and put into the correct context. Some online career sites set aside a space for you to enter one, so why not do it. When emaling a resume to a potential recruiter or company, the email itself could and should be the cover letter. Why not? A cover letter should mimic your professional summary in your resume, but be a bit more personal, detailed, and specific. If you’re applying for a certain position, tailor that cover letter and summary to that position. I’ve gotten cover letters as long as a full page, and as short as 3-4 sentences. Just don’t overdo it.

The Summary. The summary is very important, I’d say the most important piece to your resume. It’s the first thing people see on a resume, and when someone is looking at multiple resumes for an opening, the first thing they see should stick out. Spend a lot of time on this, make it shine. Afterall, it’s your sales pitch. You are technically a product, learn to sell yourself. The summary helps you do just that.

It should be a 4-8 sentence knockout punch that screams hire me man! It should cover your overall background, strengths, experience, personality traits, and education/certifications (if relevant to the job applying for). DO NOT USE AN OBJECTIVE. A little kitty dies everytime you do. Do I really care if your objective is to “Use my skills and abilities to work at a forward thinking progressive organization as a Sr. Software Engineer”….or something….blah blah blah? Nope, I don’t. I care about your specific background and experience relevant to the position I have open. Use the first paragraph of your summary as your general background statement, then use the bullet points as the part that you tailor based on what you’re applying for.

Check out this example, I just grabbed it out of a few resumes I looked at recently, and I’m cool with it. It’s very detailed, and is borderline too long. But man, I feel like I don’t have to read any more of the resume after reading this. Isn’t that what we’re going for here? He tailored it to the Grails opening I had, why would I not talk to this person after that summary? Geeze, I’m thinking about hiring him/her without even an interview.

Senior Software engineer with a proven record of team leadership, system analysis, design, and development, with an expertise in object-oriented software development using Java (JEE, J2SE) and Groovy/Grails. Passionate about agile software development practices and quality improvement through the effective use of knowledge, information, and communication. Recently, have taught, led teams, and have successfully displayed the maintainability advantages of Groovy and Grails to both industry professionals and clients.

  • Grails experience started in the spring of 2006, while working on a graduate capstone project. Introduced the framework to a team of C developers, and led them in the development of a Web application.
  • As a Senior Java Developer at University of Minnesota, introduced Groovy to the development team by hosting a series of brownbag lunches on the language. As a pilot project, we converted a dozen Perl scripts over to Groovy, thereby greatly increasing the maintainability and test coverage of those scripts.
  • Very recently, spent nine months working in one of the first Grails only development shops in the country. During those 9 months, our team produced two high quality Web applications on time and on budget.
  • M.S. in Software Engineering from the University of Saint Thomas.

Here’s another example I just ran across. It gets the job done, but a bit simpler. Again, it tells me fairly quickly if I should interview this person or not. It has too much in terms of irrelevant information, like “well organized”, or “able to meet deadlines”, etc. Avoid that kind of worthless gobbity garble if you can, and keep it technical and to the point.

An accomplished problem solver with six years of experience building web applications. Background includes strong knowledge of back-end development with JEE and Grails, as well as extensive experience of front-end development with JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Excellent troubleshooting and analytical skills, well-organized, self-motivated, able to work well with minimal supervision, able meet deadlines and handle multiple projects, and adapts to diverse teams and projects, skilled communicator with exceptional interpersonal skills.

  • Experienced with Groovy/Grails and its underlying technologies, Spring and Hibernate.
  • Extensive knowledge of object-oriented JavaScript and popular JavaScript libraries including jQuery, Prototype, Scriptaculous, and YUI.
  • Strong background with page layout using HTML and CSS.

Here’s a very mediocre, borderline bad one. Ick.

I am seeking a programming position where I will be involved in the software design, new technologies, and java centric work. I also desire an environment that has a good supporting structure for developers, business analysts, project managers, architects, developers and a quality assurance team.

Technical Skills. The Technical Skills section should be a laundry list of applications, languages, databases, methodologies, or whatever other tools you use or have used to do your job effectively. This can be applied to Accounting, Finance, Engineering and many other professions. If you’ve touched on a particular tool/software/language, put it in here. If you’re not an expert with it, that’s OK, you still should mention it in the chance that your resume pops up in a keyword search. If you’re really good with one particular skill, it should be mentioned in your summary as well as your professional experience multiple times.

If you want to get really crazy here, you should order the skills based on relevancy, expertise, and importance. For example, you might have “Languages” as your first list. If you’re a Java developer and you’re applying for a Java developer role, you should have Java/JEE as your first “Language”, and so on. You should also keep in mind the position you’re applying for. If it’s a Grails position, you can put Groovy/Grails as your first technology listed. The first skills list should have the most importance. If you’re a developer, “Languages” and “Tools” should be first, and “O/S” and “Database Platforms” should be last. Here’s a standard example of a technical skills section, nothing ground breaking here.

Technical Skills
Languages: Java (J2SE, J2EE), Groovy/Grails, Ruby/Rails, Objective-C, Clojure, JavaScript, SQL, T-SQL, PL/SQL, CSS.
Development Tools: IntelliJ IDEA, Eclipse, BEA Weblogic, Tomcat, MyEclipse, JUnit, Ant, Ivy, Maven, CrusieControl, Hudson, XMLSpy, Subversion, CVS, Git, Fit/FitNesse, Selenium, Toad, RapidSQL, Checkstyle, PMD, FindBugs, Cobertura, Emma, easyb.
Methodologies: Scrum, XP, Test Driven Development, SDLC, OOAD.
Application Servers: BEA Weblogic, Tomcat, Glassfish, JBoss.
Database Platforms: Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, Sybase, HSQL.
OS: Windows, Linux (Red Hat, Ubuntu), Unix (Solaris, Mac OS X).

Professional Experience. Obviously the Professional Experience section of your resume is important. You need to be able to paint a clear picture of what you did, but also what you accomplished. I think a lot of people forget about the accomplishment piece, and just explain their daily tasks. But, adding accomplishments will tell the hiring manager you deliver. Mention that you were on a critical project that built an application that ultimately saved the business 10k per month. Mention that you were selected by your manager/peers for outstanding performance (or whatever). Now there’s always exceptions to this rule. If you played a fairly insignificant role and were purely a taskmaster, well then it’ll be tough to explain accomplishments. Also, if you’re a technologist, make it technical. It always sucks when I get a resume that has all these fancy bullet points but no specific technical detail in it. An example would be “Worked on a team do develop a large scale accounting system.” That’s great and all, but it should read “Worked as a developer on a team of 10 building a large scale accounting system using Spring, Hibernate, JPA, Maven, blah blah (you get the picture). You should also have the last bullet point be a list of the types of tools/technologies you worked with. In conclusion, for each position, use 4-8 bullets of your daily detailed tasks, but also 2-4 of your accomplishments.

Here’s a decent example I ran across, it’s a little longer but explains things pretty well. There are definitely better examples out there, I just didn’t spend a ton of time finding something suitable. This gives you a good idea at least.

Professional Experience
A Really Really Great Company, Minneapolis, MN 02/06 – Present
Lead Java Developer
Phase 1 for a new concept start-up company. In less than two months built a functional system to address the business need and provide a user-friendly work flow for customers not familiar with the business concepts.

  • Lead a team of 5-10 developers through stand-ups and iteration planning meetings.
  • Architected the application’s technology stack including Spring-MVC, Spring, JPA/Hibernate, and Acegi.
  • Setup development environment infrastructure including an HSQL in-memory database to facilitate unit testing.
  • Evaluated several Ajax toolkits including YUI and Dojo.
  • Implemented numerous Agile User Stories for the HR application.
  • Worked with business owners and analysts to define and implement new requirements for a more scalable and stable data processing application.
  • Re-wrote existing batch processing framework that processed complete insurance information for roughly 300,000 members.
  • Added a variety of functionality to existing eligibility web application, including new workflows, JSP’s, and controllers (servlets).
  • Designed and implemented a new generalized SAX-based parsing framework for processing incoming XML files directly into existing hierarchy of Java domain objects.
  • Delivered a mission-critical 40% increase in file processing application by designing and implementing a new multi-threaded frameword.
  • Tools used included: Agile project using Java/JEE, Spring, Spring-MVC, Spring Security, JPA/Hibernate, Ant, Tomcat, Acegi, Sitemesh, Velocity and Postgres.

Education, Training, Certifications, etc. In a technical resume, I prefer Education and the like at the bottom of the resume. The exception is if you’re fresh out of college or fairly new to the industry. Then putting the Education under the Summary at the top is more useful. I always tell newbies out of college to list relevant courses to whatever position they’re applying for. So if you’re applying for a Software Engineer position that requires C# experience, you better mention the CIS class you took that was called “Building Web apps with C#”. I also always recommend any marketable education (which should be easy to know) be included somewhere in your summary at the top as well. If you have a Masters in Software Engineering from the U of M, a Scrum Master certification, or you’re a CPA, put those in a bullet point at the top of your resume in the summary.

Here’s a simple example to give you an idea.

Education & Certifications
M.S. in Software Engineering May 2006
University of Saint Thomas, Saint Paul, MN

B.S in Housing Economics, 1999
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

Sun Certified Java Programmer (JDK 1.5)

You can also get as detailed as you want, if the courses are relevant to what you’re applying for. Check this one, I don’t mind it, some may think it’s too much. I don’t (if it’s relevant information).

Education
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN (1998 – 2000)
M.S. Software Engineering
Professional degree program focused on established and emerging processes and technologies related to the development of software intensive systems. Core courses concentrated on software specification, design, implementation, verification, and maintenance, as well as project management, quality assurance, and process improvement. Graduated with GPA of 4.0.

Amherst College, Amherst, MA (1992-1996)
B.A. Computer Science
The degree focused on mathematics and computer science, but also included significant coursework in law, physics, and political science. Courses specific to the major included Data Structures, Advanced Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Graphics, and Discrete Mathematics. Other activities: computer science tutor, varsity hockey.

Font & Formatting. I’ve heard a lot of people talk in detail about formatting and where the dates should be, how and where your name and address should be, what font and size to use, etc. These things are minor, I personally think very little time should be spent on this topic. If you’re asking me these questions, I’ll tell you what I do (Times New Roman 11 font)….but it’s the last thing that should be discussed when putting together a marketable resume. Put you own flare in your resume, just be sure to not overdo it.

I also don’t agree with the notion a resume shouldn’t be over a page, or two pages, or whatever. Your resume should be as long as it needs to be. If you’re on page 4, yes maybe you should think about taking some details out of the position/s you had 5 years ago. But if you have a ton of experience and it’s recent and relevant, well than that’s the way it has to be. Just make sure to tailor and customize your resume to each position you’re applying for, take the irrelevant fluff out.

I know as well as anyone, resumes are a pain mainly because everyone tells you something different and it’s tough remembering all the things you’ve done at times. The main point is that if you’re not getting interviews, well then maybe it’s time to take a closer look at your resume. Otherwise, if you’re not having issues getting in front of the hiring manager, I highly doubt there’s much you need to change.

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Why I like Google Buzz (quick overview from a recruiters perspective)

Posted By on July 29, 2010

Holy crap, it’s been exactly 100 days since my last post. Wowzer. Things have been busy, which is good and bad I guess. So real quick here, I wanted to give my perspective on Google Buzz, and why I like it from a recruitment perspective.

Social media, blah blah blah. Sick of hearing about it, but it’s not going away. To me, social media is about building relationships and community, simple. I use Twitter, but I was stupid and wasn’t as picky as I should’ve been initially about who I follow. And I haven’t been as diligent about setting up lists and weeding out the stuff I don’t want, or the people I don’t at least know a little (again, need time to do that). There’s still some good stuff out there, but my feed is overloaded with a lot of junk.

This is where Buzz comes in. I follow people on Buzz I really want to keep up with on Twitter or in my Google Reader (because you tie your Twitter account and Reader into Buzz). You’re not limited to 140 characters and you look at those selected tweets whenever you want, on your time, without needing Twitter lists or feeds or whatever. Check out my Gmail account below. Buzz is just another part of your inbox, and tells you how much activity is in your “Buzz”. If you get a response on a “Buzz” that is yours or that you commented on, you’ll get an email notification. Obviously, the caveat here is that you need a Gmail account, which not everyone has. But most people do, especially in IT.

 

As you can see from the 2nd screenshot below, and as mentioned above, you can connect up to 6 sites (at this time). Picasa, Google Reader, Twitter, Flickr, your Google chat status, etc. And you can see (from my buddy Lyle’s recent Buzz) the types of conversations you can have. It’s much more user friendly than Twitter, and a bit more collaborative.

 

Personally, I’m in Gmail quite a bit, so it’s right there without having to go to another app. As I’ve stated, time is short these days, and as you can see with some of the screenshots, I have so many applications popping up stuff, how do I keep track of everything? If they figure out how to really integrate Twitter (so tweets can come from Buzz or Gmail or whatever), and add Facebook and LinkedIn functionality, I’ll never leave Gmail. Anyways, I’m a rookie to Buzz, but I’m excited to see what else they come up with. So far, I like it a lot and feel I’ve had some really good conversations with some of my fellow Buzzers.

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Having problems changing careers in IT? Try these simple tips.

Posted By on April 20, 2010

With the unemployment rate hovering at or near 10% over the last year or so, I’ve been getting a lot of calls from people desperately looking to get back in the game. If there’s one thing in my career that I love to do, it’s to help people try and get back on their feet.

One call in particular I received yesterday really got me thinking. A very kind, smart gentleman got my name from a consultant, and called me to hopefully try and get some advice or tips on how to change careers/specialties within the IT industry. I commend him for calling the week before (I wrote down his number, got sidetracked, and failed to call him back), but then he called me again. Persistence, I love it! He came from an AS/400, mainframe development backgroud, and classified himself as older (55+ years old). He’s been having a heck of a time finding work, and has finally decided to change careers and move to the web with something a bit more mainstream (Java or .Net).

His main questions revolved around training, education, what skills are hot, recommendations on marketing himself, thoughts on being entry level when he’s 55+, etc. All valid questions. But the thing I see the most from people looking diligently for work is that they don’t think outside the box, they don’t do anything different from the rest of the unemployed looking for work (most of the time they just don’t know any different). They apply for the all these positions online, and their resumes go into the great unknown. They might attend some networking functions or some other formal get togethers, but not a ton more than that. Most think training and education are the key. I agree, training and education are essential, but that’s not going to be the difference maker.

I told him that 100% of the candidates that I’m looking to employ, the first thing I do is hop on google and do a simple search for their name. I look for their blog, their participation in user groups, posts on technical forums, try and find them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. In IT, online participation is pretty essential in my opinion.

I never imply I’m an expert, so nothing I say is remarkable. But I told him a few simple tips to leverage his experience, training, or education towards that new profession.

  1. Start a blog. It’s free. Buy some technical books related to the new career/specialty you want to pursue, read them, review them, blog about them. Blog about a specific part of the technology you learned. Put this blog on your resume, and obviously feed it into your LinkedIn account. Blog about things you’re learning in the training courses you’re taking, the certification you earned and advice on how to become certified. This will immediately make you more experienced that your entry level counterparts, and will set you apart from other job seekers in your shoes.
  2. Want to become more engaged and “younger”? Get on Twitter. Start following technologists that share your same specialty, and engage with them. Feed your blog into twitter, post articles specific to your specialty. You’re unemployed, so you have time. Now is the time to do it.
  3. Use LinkedIn like crazy. Connect with recruiters, search for companies that use the technology you’re learning, engage with people. Just don’t sit back and wait for people to come to you, reach out to them. Connect your Twitter account, Blog, and your reading list to your profile.
  4. Build a web app. Learning .Net or Java? Build an app. Don’t you think that proves you know what you’re doing? Point people to it, blog about what you learned, reference it on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Seriously, why not? It’s a trivial amount of money for the type of experience and personal branding you get from it.
  5. Pimp out your resume. Various ways to do this, but make sure that summary on the top sparkles. Note your overall experience, but more importantly, note your recent experience and expertise with the new technology you’re learning. The summary should be perfect, and reflect what you want to do and what skills you have to do it. If you’ve been unemployed for a while, don’t just leave your last position as the first one everyone sees, that’s a gap. Put your web app you developed or your blog as your employer, and describe in detail what you’ve learned and accomplished in the time you’ve been unemployed just like any other employer in your experience section. And if you’re concerned about age discrimination, leave off your earlier years.

People are frustrated with the standard application/interview process and I don’t blame them. If you’re frustrated, do something about it. I hear people complain a lot, but I also don’t see everyone stepping up and being proactive in their job search. Please please please do not become complacent, you need to do things out of the ordinary, or else you’ll just become another applicant.

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Guest Post: How to Turn Weak Ties into Solid Job Leads by Kevin Donlin

Posted By on February 26, 2010

Kevin Donlin is co-author of Guerrilla Resumes. Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. Author of 3 books, Kevin has been interviewed by The New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, CBS Radio and others.

In his 1973 article, “The Strength of Weak Ties,” sociologist Mark Granovetter, after interviewing dozens of people, determined that most jobs were landed through “weak” interpersonal ties — not friends telling friends, but acquaintances telling friends.

In other words, if you’re mostly asking friends to send you job leads, you won’t succeed as fast as asking acquaintances, who then ask their friends to help you.

Counterintuitive, yes, but aiming your networking efforts at people you don’t know well is a faster way of gaining access to new social groups, where new job leads may be.

To quote Granovetter: “[T]hose to whom we are weakly tied are more likely to move in circles different from our own and will thus have access to information different from that which we receive.”

Weak ties include “an old college friend or a former work-mate or employer, with whom sporadic contact had been maintained,” according to Granovetter.

Here are three ways to turn weak ties with acquaintances into solid job leads …

1) Throw out “hooks”

An easy way to help people latch onto your ideas is to give them mental hooks.

About 6 weeks ago, I got a networking email from Cleo P., which began as follows:

=========

From: Cleo [mailto:cleo@XYZ.com]
Subject: Networking Favor Request from Cleo – Hey, Do You Know . . .

Hi!

I have entered into a very targeted job search campaign which focuses on a select list of potential employers; and I was wondering if you could lend me a bit of help. Could you let me know if you know anyone who works at any of the companies on the following list so I can ask for a referral?

=========

Now. I get dozens of emails like this every week. Most I can’t do anything with. But for some reason, I decided to check Cleo’s profile on Zoominfo.com. It turns out that she and I graduated from the same university.

This changed everything. I’m more likely to refer a fellow alum to people in my network than someone out of the blue, because we share an affinity.

So, the more “affinity hooks” you give to people you barely know, the more likely they are to latch onto your message and forward it to people they know.

Example “hooks” to use in networking messages:

* schools you attended (alumni ties can be strong)
* companies you’ve worked at (former co-workers are another form of alumni)
* fraternities, sororities, other non-religious and non-political groups
* charities or non-profits you’ve volunteered at

In Cleo’s case, I know the director of alumni career services at my alma mater very well, so I forwarded her email to him. I don’t think it hurt her chances.

2) Offer a reward

One way to get people to pay attention is to pay them cash.

That’s the angle M. Shane Smith, a marketing professional from Bloomington, Minn., has taken. He’s offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who gives him a warm introduction to a senior-level executive that leads to a job.

What is a warm introduction?

“Networking for many people means just getting a name, but a warm introduction is when someone does a little ‘gushing’ about you to others. For someone to gush, we need to meet,” says Smith, who hopes his $1,000 bounty produces more meetings.

In about 6 months, it has led to 6-8 warm introductions, 80% of which produced conversations with decision makers, according to Smith.

Smith also encourages referrals by including talking points in his networking emails, so recipients can speak about his skills specifically. How does he do it? By including quotes from executives in his emails.

Example: “Challenging and problem situations do not intimidate Shane and I often referred to him as: Mr. Motivation, Mr. Communication and Mr. Innovation.” – Chief Operating Officer.

3) Mail out letters

If a networking email sent to 40-100 people can produce 2-3 job leads, that same message — printed and mailed to only 10-20 people — can produce an equal or greater number of leads.

That’s because, in my experience, a snail mail letter merits more attention than an email. Perhaps because paper letters imply that you took the time, effort, and postage to get in touch.

So, I suggest you make a shortlist of 20 “weak networking connections” you want to get the word out to by U.S. Mail.

What can you write?

One Guerrilla Job Hunter, Jeff D., from Oxford, Michigan, wrote and mailed a four-paragraph letter and hit pay dirt this past November — his 20 networking letters produced three solid leads and a job, within four weeks.

His letter had three key parts:

1. Introduction: “I have recently left XYZ Co., where I was a JOB TITLE, and handled THESE JOB DUTIES.”

2. Achievements: “I played a pro-active role by _______________ that added __________________ to the bottom line and reduced costs by _________________________.”

3. Employment goals: “I seek a significant leadership role where my ___________________ skills and experience are required.”

The words aren’t as important as the fact that you’re clear about what you’ve done, what you want to do next, and what you’d like the reader to do.

Whom can you write to?

Well-connected school friends, former co-workers or managers, former clients or vendors, attorneys, real estate agents, bankers, old neighbors, and the like.

Jeff mailed his letter to 20 such people he knew professionally. It was a “weak tie” — a former vendor — who ultimately helped him find a new job.

Now, go out and make your own luck.

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by CollegeRecruiter.com, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities

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Do you really need a resume? How to become uber-marketable

Posted By on February 11, 2010

So I ran across an article the other day by Seth Godin, why bother having a resume? I didn’t really think much about it at the time, but a few weeks went by and I started thinking more and more about the standard resume/job search/interview process. It works, at times, but only a small percentage of the time. So what if we all started thinking of the job search WITHOUT using a resume? Come up with alternatives of marketing yourself, think outside the box. Personally, I didn’t get my last 2 positions using a resume. In fact, they never even required me to send one. The knew me, or knew of me. Granted, my profession is very visible and it’s not hard to find me somewhere. But, I don’t have to be visible, I choose to be…..and so can you. If I’m looking for candidates, I look behind closed doors, I find them in places that are not typical.

So from a recruiters perspective, how do you become uber-marketable?

  1. Start a blog. Easy to do these days, very easy. It’s a great way to prove that you know something about your profession. It’s also a great way to keep up with technology. My suggestion; research a certain topic/technology/trend you’re not familiar with, then write a review or blog post about it. You learn something, while also proving to others that you are familiar with that specific topic. Keep it clean, keep it professional, keep it updated, and keep it somewhat vanilla.
  2. User Groups. Get involved online through the distribution lists, and in person. Attend events, network with other people. If I’m looking for a particular skillset, I search for the local user group, then dig around the discussions online and at times attend the events to see who’s involved or who’s participating. You can quickly see who the “go to” people are in that user group with a small bit of research.
  3. Twitter. Another great personal branding avenue and a way to promote your knowledge and abilities, plus if you’re following the right people, a great learning tool. Plus, you can have your blog fed directly into Twitter. It takes a bit to grow your network and to attract and find the right audience, but it’s another way for recruiters and employers to find you. Again, keep it professional, with a little bit of personality.
  4. Presentations. Instant PR and branding for yourself. Present at user groups, or wherever you can. It’s the single best way to get your name out there. And most user groups or conferences always have room for speakers.
  5. LinkedIn….obviously. Network, network, network! If you don’t know about LinkedIn, you’re so far behind. The single best personal marketing tool out there. It’s a 365/24 hour a day online resume that employers won’t care if you’re using. Use it, and use it heavily. Then plug in your blog, twitter account, current reading list, and utilize slideshare to display your presentation materials….all on your profile page. It’s a recruiter’s one stop shop to find out all about you professionally. And do a google search on your name, LinkedIn will be one of the first items that pop up. Here’s some additional tips to optimize your LinkedIn profile for search purposes.

So how do you maintain marketability?

  1. Training. Stay on top of the game. If your current job isn’t allowing you the opportunity to keep up with the trends, do so during your own time.
  2. Relationships. Keep the relationships with those past clients or recruiters in tact, you never know when you’ll need them. Spend some time to reach out to them for happy hour or lunch, or send holiday cards or something out of the ordinary. Keep your name in front of them consistently.
  3. References, either directly or indirectly. If you’re talking to a Sr. Recruiter in your profession, chances are that more than likely they know someone you’ve worked with in the past. And if those recruiters are any good, they’ll be reaching out to those connections to do a backdoor reference on you. You need to keep this in mind when you’re pissed at a client or particular colleague, you never know when someone will ask them how they feel about you professionally. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve checked references and they’ve come back negative (even ones that are supplied by the candidate).

Just keep in mind, recruiters and employers are always watching, we’re resourceful. If you become more visible and public, your chances of landing a job when you need one increase dramatically because people/employers will already know about you. Do a google search of your name, do you like what you see? Do you think employers will like what they see? If you do all the above steps (and do them well), I guarantee you will never have a difficult time finding employment.

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Guest Post: Who’s Hiring in Technology – Revisited

Posted By on January 11, 2010

Author Byline: CareerAlley
Author Website: http://careeralley.com

Dino“UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity.” - Dennis Ritchie

Statistics, we love to quote them. And you know what they say – “so many statistics, so little time”. But there are some interesting statistics regarding Tech jobs like, did you know that Phoenix is a “top ten place for tech jobs“? Yes, you are reading this correctly (doubt me?, click the link). I’m sure that most people would never guess Phoenix. So what’s my point? You need to be open-minded in your job search and leave no stone unturned, you just never know where an opportunity will turn up. How about Omaha Nebraska – “Union Pacific Corp. will move 300 information technology jobs to Omaha“. Another example of a great opportunity, because I can guarantee you that a fair number of Tech employees decided not to move to Omaha. Another opportunity if you are willing to make a move.

Job search is an art. In addition to the traditional search (job boards, headhunters, etc.) that EVERYONE is doing, you need to think outside of the box and look for opportunities where fewer people are likely to look (like Omaha). Leverage your search engine skills and look for those unlikely combinations that will translate to better odds for you. Go where “few men have gone before” and there will be less competition and more opportunities.

Tech Job posts are among the most popular, so I thought it would be a good idea to both recap and provide some interesting links to help in your search.

  • Technology Jobs – HotJobs – Most of the top job search sites have focused job search pages for many job functions, and HotJobs is no exception. Their Tech job search page is well put together and easy to read. Top of the page has a listing of Tech related jobs functions (Applications Engineer, Data Analyst, etc.). Click any of these to view a page listing jobs for this function. You can narrow the search (location, etc.) by using the additional criteria on the left hand side of the page. Below this are featured jobs, click on these to link directly to the job. The bottom of the page has additional career advise and services, right hand side of the page has a basic search function.
  • hitechNY.com – While this particular site is focused on NY (and indicates that there are over 40,000 tech jobs in NY), most states and many cities have similar sites dedicated to Tech (and other careers). Not much on the main page here, and if you can’t figure out how to get to the next page, perhaps Tech is not a career for you. The next page has tabs at the top for Job Seekers, Partners and Job Fairs. Click on Job Seekers to link to a page with additional links to Search for Jobs, Search for Employers (don’t forget the strength of applying directly on employer sites), Training and more. Click on Search for Jobs, put in your criteria and off you go.
  • .tech_centric – “Computer, Tech & IT Jobs Search, Careers, Employment, Postings” is the tag line for this website. Top of the main page has tabs for Job Search and Post resume. The left hand side of the page has the basic job search function as well as links for Create a Resume, Set-up Job Alerts and Review saved jobs. Featured recruiters are also listed on the left. The center of the page has Browse Jobs by job function followed by jobs by location and Latest News in Technology. The right hand side of the page has the latest jobs as well as a salary survey.
  • information-technology Thingamajob – This is another job search site with a targeted search on information technology provided by Thingamajob.com. The top of the page has tabs for Create an Account, Post your Resume, Login, Find a Job and more. There is a basic search function right below the tabs, followed by Information Technology jobs by subcategory. At the bottom center of the main page has a listing by state. Left hand side of the page has a number of links to subcategories by function and state as well
  • JustTechJobs – This site, as you might suspect, focuses on job search for Technologists. There are tabs at the top for Searching Jobs, Posting a Resume and “About Us”. Clicking on the “About Us ” link launches an amazing page with 120 related websites which are specific to your technology specialty (like JustOracleJobs.com). The main page lists Recent Tech Jobs on the left-hand side, with a quick search at the top Tech news feeds below. There were 1,253 tech jobs when I checked the site.
  • Hewlet Packard – HP’s career website provides an overview of the company with links to Search Job and Submit your Profile on the left of the page. Their are separate tabs for Students & Graduates and Diversity. Searching all HP jobs returns over 2,245 opportunities with Information Technology returning 155 jobs (additional technical jobs can be found under other categories).

Good luck in your search.

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by CollegeRecruiter.com, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

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