networking

6 Simple Ways To Take The Pain Out of Career Networking

iStockphoto.com |  Rawpixel

iStockphoto.com | Rawpixel

Searching for a job is hard, and one of the more ominous obstacles between you and your dream job is networking. Many of us believe networking is tricky, time-consuming, and painful. Where do you start?

Start small. Tell your best friends you’re looking for a new job. Now, other people know and will either keep you in mind for job opportunities or hold you accountable (wasn’t that was easy?). Networking is like a garden, tend it a little at a time and everything will bloom.

Here are six simple ways to take the pain out of career networking.

1.     Be active on LinkedIn.  Showing up is half the battle. Participating in LinkedIn, by having a good profile and contributing to the online conversation, can accelerate the job search, and help build and maintain professional relationships over the long term. If you post content that builds your brand, you are more visible and more likely to make more – and potentially helpful – connections; great content will drive people to your profile. Not to mention, if you are searching for an “in” at a particular company, you can leverage your network, and your network’s network, to connect with someone at that company.

2.     Maintain contact with people you know. You don’t have to manage a hundred email chains on a daily basis. Little things like a birthday message, or a heartfelt congratulations on a promotion or work anniversary, can keep a professional relationship open. If you are active on LinkedIn, like or comment on business-oriented posts. Share. Once a month, go to lunch with an important contact you wouldn’t otherwise see. If you’re in a position to so, be generous with professional referrals. Nobody has ever complained that someone sent business his or her way.

3.     Be active in professional associations. If you’re a project manager, PMI is the go-to-group. For human resources professionals, it’s SHRM. Depending upon your industry, there is likely a professional organization in your local area you can join whose whole mission is to provide a space for people working in the same field to network. You can take on leadership roles, make new connections, and foster new opportunities.

4.     Attend professional conferences. I know, I know. It’s a great way to meet professionals in your field, but you’re scared of the cost. It’s true that attending a conference often equals a substantial financial outlay. However, think of it as an investment in your future. A professional conference can have a stellar return. Since it’s like speed dating for job seekers. You meet a lot of people at once, hear about a lot of job opportunities at once, and may learn about career paths you had never considered. It’s not unheard of for job seekers to leave conferences with new jobs, or to establish connections that lead to new opportunities down the road.

5.     Call on old friends. You may be surprised how a reunion with old friends can pay off in the present. Next to family, old friends may rise up to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t hesitate to offer it.

6.     Manage your social networks with care. The best way to mitigate any unforeseen fallout from your social networks (not just LinkedIn, but also Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) is to always maintain a professional image, which is a tall order when it’s a social network. Short of that nuclear option, exercise caution when making posts and consider adding people with care.

These are some simple tips to get you going. The rest is up to your magnetic personality!


Philip Roufail contributed to this article.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

New Year, Boost Your Career! 9 Strategies For A Successful 2017

Yahoo!!! (iStock.com)

Yahoo!!! (iStock.com)

It's the end of 2016. And what an interesting year it's been – please join me in welcoming 2017!

Many people use the new calendar year to mark a new beginning. If boosting your career is part of your agenda, here are X strategies you can use to position yourself for a promotion, or get that new job you've wanted.

1. Maximize Your Annual Performance Appraisal. Most employers do performance evaluations in the beginning of the year. Come prepared with your list of accomplishments. Quantify the value you've brought the company. If you're angling for a promotion, a strong performance appraisal is essential. Go in with your eyes open - if you're surprised by what you hear from your manager during your review, you haven't truly been paying attention to feedback throughout the year. If there are any development opportunities identified during the review, own them and discuss how you have worked to overcome them and plan to correct them going forward.

2. Create An Individual Development Plan (IDP). An IDP is a tool to help you in your personal development. Prepared in conjunction with your manager, it documents your strengths, your weaknesses, and your career goals, explores career possibilities, identifies training opportunities, and provides you with a road map how you plan to get there. Preparing and adhering to an IDP also serves the critical function of reinforcing to your organization's leadership your commitment to your professional development. It's also a good opportunity to ask yourself if you really want a promotion and all the headaches which accompany it. Also, here some specific strategies you can follow to prepare yourself for that promotion.

3. Find A Mentor. It can be helpful to find somebody inside or outside your company who has achieved career-wise what you are looking to do. A good mentor is helpful because they aren't typically your manager (so you can be freer to discuss concerns and personal areas of development) and they can provide you an outside perspective as well as helpful guidance.

4. Benchmark Your Skill Set. It's helpful to know what the job market looks like for professionals such as yourself. Check out the job listings on LinkedIn and Indeed. Take a look at what you could earn with another employer by using salary data on Salary.com or Paysa. You might find out that your current employer is compensating you quite well and above market averages; or, not so much. Do you know some agency recruiters (i.e., headhunters) who work in your field? Pick their brains about the job market, too.

5. Get Your Resume In Shape. It doesn't matter whether or not you're planning to leave your current company. Even if you're applying for an internal opportunity at your employer, or you've been tapped to interview for a promotion, you'll need a resume which reflects your accomplishments and personal growth, and is strategically targeted for the job you're hoping to get. Here are 6 things you can do to strengthen your resume today.

6. Polish Your Interviewing Skills. Again, even if you have no intention of leaving your company, it's become increasingly common to have employees interview with their own organization's leaders if they're being considered for an internal move or a promotion. Learn as much as you can about behavioral interviewing - that's when an interviewer asks you about how you've dealt with a difficult situation in the past to get an idea about how you would handle it in the future. Here are some additional ways to make the interview work for you.

7. Network. Your reputation is only as good as what people hear, and if they're not hearing anything about you, then you really don't have a reputation to speak of. Join the board of the local chapter of your professional trade group. Volunteer with a nonprofit. Attend those college alumni events. You don't necessarily need to work a room to get noticed, either. Often, familiarity breeds awareness of your career and your skills, and you'll often find that people will keep you in mind and recommend you if they hear of any appropriate job opportunities. And yes, connecting and engaging with your peers on LinkedIn certainly counts as networking. Want to get noticed on LinkedIn? Here are some tips.

8. Keep Learning. Considering how quickly the required skills are changing due to technological advances, it's lethal to stop upgrading your skills. Take classes through your trade group. Go back for your Master's degree. Take a course on Coursera or LinkedIn Learning. If you don't know the essential emerging technology in your field, it's guaranteed that somebody else will know it – and they'll be a more desirable job candidate. All other factors being equal, skills trump all.

9. Dress The Part. Your appearance speaks volumes. People perceive your professionalism through your attire. Take the opportunity to upgrade your wardrobe, and reinforce your manager's and your peers' positive impression of you. It might be time to put the jeans away, and wear a nice pair of slacks.

Here's to a prosperous 2017!


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

 

5 Great Ways To Use LinkedIn to Network Your Way Into a Job

Networking has changed over the years. It used be that the only way to network your way into a job was to do a lot hands-on networking - as in, pressing the flesh. In other words, you had to go to an event, work the room, and hand out business cards.

Nothing replaces human contact, those networking events still matter, because you get the chance to meet people in person and make a positive impression. Keep in mind, interviews still (usually) happen in person, and most major decisions are made with face-to-face contact.

But LinkedIn is an amazing tool. It's changed the networking game. In many ways, it's democratized networking, making it easy to make meaningful connections. For the job seeker, it's a boon, because it gives visibility into key contacts as potential employers. 

Here are 5 great ways you can use LinkedIn to network your way into a job!

  1. Grow your network, strategically. This is a long-term strategy. Add people with whom you've had contact, whether it be in person, by phone, or by email. The more people your contacts know, the more people you'll be able to access in their network. By the way, LinkedIn is crawling with recruiters - they're good connections to have.
  2. Build your brand. Your LinkedIn page is your platform, and an opportunity to present yourself in a positive light. Develop a clean, crisp, and professional profile for yourself, and obtain good, solid recommendations from former bosses and coworkers. Write blogs (LinkedIn calls them Posts) that highlight your expertise in your professional area. All recruiters I know use LinkedIn to actively search for talent. Many will check out somebody's LinkedIn profile after receiving a resume to get an idea of the person's presentation. You have full control over your profile and what's published under your name on LinkedIn, take advantage of it!
  3. Get introductions through LinkedIn. If you see that one of your connections is directly connected with a key contact at a company you'd like to reach, ask your connection for an introduction. Better yet, ask them if they have the person's email so you can reach them directly.
  4. Apply on the job boards, then reach out to a company contact via LinkedIn. Go to Indeed, Monster, or any job board, and complete the online application for a position. Then, do a search on LinkedIn for a company recruiter, HR person, or appropriate line manager, and send them an InMail letting them know you've applied to the position, you're qualified, and you're interested. Sometimes this can get you moved to the top of the resume pile; recruiters will easily get over 250 applications for an open position online, and they won't have time to review everybody. By taking this approach, you present yourself as a potential solution to their problem.
  5. Ask for informational interviews. People, by nature, like to help. Find a strategic contact at your target company through LinkedIn, then send them a note requesting an informational interview. Offer to bring your contact a cup of coffee in exchange for their time. Remember, don't ask for a job - your only mission here is to get information. If you present yourself well, you may be considered for open positions, or your contact might refer you to somebody they know for an opportunity at another company. The key here is to come loaded with great questions and a heap of modesty.

Remember, maintain every relationship as if it's critical - because it is. Don't just be a "taker"; make productive introductions on behalf of others, too. Not every connection has an immediate payoff, but you can certainly move the job search in your favor.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.