8
Mar

Networking for Introverts

Contrary to popular belief, introverts are not shy individuals who do not like people. Rather, the 52% of people who categorize themselves as introverts simply find many social interactions draining and need time to recharge after being around people. These people can find the job search norm of “getting out there and meeting people” at networking events particularly challenging. However, like it or not, networking events are a key component of a successful job search and being an introvert in no way means that you cannot be a skilled networker.

Here are some tips to get the most out of networking events, particularly for the introverts out there:

Do your research

Generally, introverts prefer to have time to think ideas through and organize their thoughts before speaking. While a networking event with continual introductions to new people might not immediately seem like the obvious place to be able to think things through, you can minimize your stress by researching prior to the event. Most networking events will have an online registration page, confirming the schedule for the evening, any guest speakers, and often even a list of those who will be attending. Take the time to review this information beforehand, familiarize yourself with other registrants and plan possible conversation topics.

Plan your agenda

What do you want to get from the event? Do you want to meet potential employers? Gather industry information? Or, source candidates for informational interviews? Either way, setting your agenda before the event will increase the likelihood of meeting your personal objectives.

Set some targets

If you find networking events draining, you may be tempted to leave after 20 minutes or speak to one person and then secure a lone position at the bar. If this sounds like you, set yourself some targets before the event. Decide the minimum amount of time that you can stay for and/or the minimum number of people that you can have a conversation with – you never know, you might even exceed these!

You are not alone

Approximately 80% of people feel uncomfortable at networking events. If this is you, you are not alone. If nerves get the better of you, it is too easy to convince yourself that: everyone there knows everyone else; no one would want to talk to you; or you cannot bring any value to the conversations. This is not true. Event attendees are all at the event for the same reason, to talk to people. Practice makes perfect – the more you network, the more comfortable you will become.

Choose carefully and don’t get stuck

Once you arrive at the event, who are you going to talk to? Look for other individuals who are standing alone (usually by the bar or the food table!) or chat with the event organizer(s) who will usually be happy to introduce you to another attendee. Another good place to position yourself is close to the registration table, as people arrive they will also be looking for someone to engage with.

It is important that you don’t only talk to one person at the event. If you are nervous, you may be happy to stay with that one person so that you don’t have to start over again. However, this is not the purpose of networking events and won’t help you meet your objectives. After a short conversation, thank them for their time – arranging to stay in touch if appropriate – and move onto another person.

Don’t only talk shop

While networking is an essential part of job search and career management, you should not only be talking about business. Be aware of current events and local, uncontroversial news so that you can make small talk. The weather is always a popular conversation starter, as are questions about the venue and whether they have been to the event before. Avoid conversations about politics or religion, and never put anyone on the spot by asking for a job.

Don’t overindulge

Many events will offer appetizers and alcoholic drinks. If you are nervous, don’t over indulge in the wine or beer for some “Dutch courage” – you don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reasons. Limit yourself to one or two social drinks or stick to the club soda. Similarly with any food, ensure that you don’t opt for any items which will be difficult to eat when having a conversation (e.g. anything with gravy/sauce) or will leave unsightly green bits in your teeth!

Smile!

You might be nervous, drained and/or ready to go home but make sure that you keep smiling!  Friendliness is incredibly influential to your likability, and ultimately, your employability.  If you are standing on your own, someone is much more likely to approach you and start a conversation if you are smiling genuinely and standing with open, welcoming body language.

Now work your magic!

As I said, being an introvert does not mean that you cannot be a skilled networker – you simply develop these working relationships in a different way. If you met someone interesting at the event, reach out to them and invite them for a coffee and follow-up conversation. This one-to-one networking is often where introverts thrive, able to strengthen relationships through in-depth and thoughtful conversation.

 

About Dorothy Keenan of FutureWorks

Dorothy is a certified résumé writer with 25 years of experience in providing career advice and support to 5,000 professionals in diverse industries including technology, science, gaming, trades, finance, manufacturing, warehouse, and administration to find fulfilling careers. Through her work she has gained a solid understanding of the needs of British Columbia’s dynamic labour force. Her expertise in developing résumés, LinkedIn profiles, and cover letters has helped her clients move forward in their careers. Contact www.fwt.bc.ca or dorothyk@fwt.bc.ca

20
Jan

What is the purpose of Informational Interviews and why do them?

Everyone talks about the hidden job market and how many jobs are not even advertised. So how do you find these hidden jobs? Where are these jobs? Having worked in the employment industry for over 25 years, and helped thousands of people find jobs, I wanted to share what I have learned with you.

So what is an Informational Interview?

You can find a jobs before it is advertised by doing informational interviews with companies that you are interested in working for. Knowledge is power!

Basically, an Informational Interview is a conversation. These are very important in your search for a new job and help in determining if the company is a good fit for you. Informational interviews help you get an inside glimpse into organizations that you would not gain from a job interview. Simply put, it is an interview where the goal is gathering information about a profession or organization rather than securing employment (although job offers can result from the meeting!). It is a fact-finding discussion where you talk with people already working in a particular role, field, industry, or work place about:

• the tasks that they perform and the knowledge and skills that they use

• the path that they took and the experience and qualifications required to obtain their job

• the kinds of people that they serve, lead, and/or with whom they collaborate on the job

• the sort of work environment and culture in which they work

• the joys and frustrations of doing their work, in their industry and for their organization

Your aim is to get an overview of both their typical workday as well as the variety of work situations, interactions and opportunities they have encountered across the course of their career.

You can gain information aboutthe important characteristics that the different companies look for when hiring. This will help you in creating cover letters, and resume that emphasize the key attributes that you have to offer. They are also a great way to practice your interview skills prior to a job interview.

How Informational Interviews have helped my clients find jobs

Many companies have a referral system and ask their staff if they know of anyone who they believe can be a good fit for the organization.Some even give a bonus to staff who refer individuals who are hired. However, it is important to remember that it is not a guarantee that an Informational Interview will result in the person referring you for an opening within a company.

One of my clients, who had and MBA and very little work experience as a Business Analyst, went for an Informational Interview with someone who was working at a large organization that she was very interested in working for. The two had worked together at a previous firm, and when they met for an Informational Interview the employee took her resume into the Hiring Manager and promoted her for an available position. The result was an interview, as she was recognized in the pile of 300 applicants, and ended up getting the job! This does not happen every time, but I have seen it happen enough times to know it works for many.

In another case, I had a client in the biotechnology field who was laid off in early November. Through doing a series of Informational Interviews, he landed a job in early January! He set-up an Informational Interview with someone who he had worked with ten years ago, who had recently secured funding for a new research project and was at the early stages of recruiting. Initially, the company had thought they were going to hire a junior person, but upon meeting my client who had twenty years of experience, they decided to redo the job description and hired him.  The Informational Interview enabled them to realize that his skills could move the research must faster and were critical to helping them grow.

Review your network to see if you know anyone who works at an organization that you would like to work for.  If not, use LinkedIn to find shared connections and ask your contacts for an introduction.

Companies Forecast Future Staffing Needs

Organizations will forecast their staffing needs and often have projects that are waiting for approval.  Usually, they will start to collect resumes and potential staff prior to these projects starting. During an Informational Interview, you can find out about their future needs and gain an understanding of what skills they require. This allows you to determine if you have a skills gap, and enable you to use the time prior to the forecasted position to gain the essential skills.

Consider Informational Interviews when searching for jobs or for identifying the best courses to take that will fit your interests and needs.

My next blog will provide tips on how to do an informational interview and what questions to ask.

20
Jan

LinkedIn not just for job search

Many people assume LinkedIn is just for people who are looking for a new job and often miss opportunities and learning. Understanding your purpose for being on LinkedIn and then creating a profile that fits is key to successfully using LinkedIn in a way that benefits you the most. LinkedIn is not Facebook it is an online business-networking source. Here are what you need to think about when creating your LinkedIn or changing the current profile to maximize results.

  • For Entrepreneurs: with a strong profile and actively participating in groups and posting interesting relevant articles you will raise an awareness of your company and will bring business to your firm.
  • For Companies bidding on contracts: sometimes when companies bid on contracts the company look at the LinkedIn profile of key members to see if they have strong skills and to determine the stability of the firm. I have seen this with engineering firms and social service firms.
  • LinkedIn as a learning tool: LinkedIn is a great source of up to date information in your industry and can connect you with people around the world to share knowledge and see what is going on in other parts for the world. LinkedIn has further strengthened the educational source with the purchase of Lynda.com and online learning source.
  • Stealth Jobseeker: you may currently be happy at your job but thinking you might be ready for a new challenge. With the right profile, you can create an interest that draws in recruiters but does not tip off your current employer that you are looking.
  • Source of Contacts for family members or friends: who may be looking for work. The challenge for young people looking for work is the lack of contacts and networks. If you have a big network you might be able to connect them with someone who could provide them with information about the industry they are interested in working in.
  • Job seekers: LinkedIn is definitely a great source of information for job seekers. You can gain market intelligence; find jobs not easily found in other places, connect with old colleagues who may be working in an organization that you could potentially apply. By looking at other peoples LinkedIn profiles you can see what your competition is in your industry and will help you understand where you fit into today’s labour market.

LinkedIn-ecosystem

About Dorothy Keenan of FutureWorks

Dorothy is a professional resume writer and career advisor with over 25 years’ experience in helping people find fulfilling work at all levels of the labour market. If you think your LinkedIn profile needs a tune up or you are unsure how to even start contact Dorothy at dorothyk@fwt.bc.ca or go to www.fwt.bc.ca. Changing your profile can lead to some great opportunities for growth or career change.

12
Jan

LinkedIn a Rolodex on steroids

Having worked in the employment industry for over twenty-five years, I have seen and used every trick there is in looking for work. When I first started helping people look for work –you went door to door and dropped off resumes. Despite being right in the office you will be asked to send your resume by email or apply online and they will refuse to take the resumes!

Then we had it where you contacted the receptionist and tried to break through to the hiring person and there job was to block everyone and protect the hiring person privacy at all costs.

Next we had the voice mail and email vacuum –you left a message and no one ever returns your call and the email you sent with the resume, and cover letter is never acknowledged and you did not know if your resume every made it into the hands of the person hiring.

Today we have the Applicant Tracking System or (ATS) with over 200 different systems and more and more companies either buying them or using third party systems. The applicant tracking system is one more roadblock for the job searcher. The ATS systems are used to screen applicants resumes for key skills and then hiring manager views those resumes that make it through the system.

So how do you break through all these roadblocks?

LinkedIn is the jobseekers dreams come true! If used correctly you can find out who the hiring person is, what their background is, what type of people they currently have on board and can determine where you skills could help them and if your skills are weak where else you could potentially be hired based on where the current staff previously worked. LinkedIn is a massive rolodex that enables your to connect with people in the organizations and gain a further understanding of what the firm requires.

  1. The reality is networking is key. People hire people who they know or someone else knows. The majority of people are referred for jobs. If you are new to the city and don’t have a lot of connections -LinkedIn can help you identify people who work at the place you are interested in. I have had clients who have been successful in connecting with the person in the hiring role through LinkedIn and some have been able to connect with manager in departments that they wanted to work and set up an informational interview .
  1. In order for LinkedIn to be useful, you ideally need at least 100 people in your network. As soon as I say this, I can immediately hear a number of you saying –I do not know one hundred people-think again. For the young people it may be the parents of your friends, your professors, your neighbours, your teachers, your classmates or your soccer coach I think you get the idea. For those who have been in the workforce for a number of years it is a great way to reconnect with people you use to work with. I had one client who connected with an employee they had not connected with in ten years. He connected on LinkedIn with the person who had just started a new company and they had been discussing hiring someone with my client’s exact skills. He was in the biotech industry (which has been a challenging field in BC lately) and from when one job ended and he was hired, it was six weeks! this was in late November and he was working by mid January. They hired him and the position was never posted.
  1. On LinkedIn you can search for people who went to the university you went to and I have found that often people will connect with people that went to the same university as you.
  1. Join groups on LinkedIn and find out if they have events that you can attend. You will meet others in the industry as often people are aware of positions that are available either within their own company or at another company. Sometimes at these events you can find out about new positions companies are proposing before they have even posted them and you can get a jump on the job.

LinkedIn is only one piece of the job search puzzle, having a professional resume, a network and the confidence to reach out and let people know you are working you will be surprised the response and where help in your job search comes from.

About Dorothy Keenan of FutureWorks

Dorothy is a professional resume writer and career advisor with over 25 years’ experience in helping people find fulfilling work at all levels of the labour market. If you think your LinkedIn profile needs a tune up or you are unsure how to even start contact Dorothy at dorothyk@fwt.bc.ca or go to www.fwt.bc.ca. Changing your profile can lead to some great opportunities for growth or career change.

3
Jan

So you are on linkedIn. Now what?

LinkedIn-Now-what

So you finally bit the bullet and got yourself on LinkedIn. You have created a great profile. You have heard how many people have found great jobs, companies have found business partners, learned new ways of doing business and you are on and NOTHING HAPPENS! So why is that? You need to be active on LinkedIn for it to be of value. If you put up your LinkedIn profile and never go on again it won’t be very useful. Here are some quick tips that I have used and so have my clients and been very happy with the results.

What to do to generate results and understand the value of LinkedIn.
  • Increase your connections to over 100 but make sure you actually know the person. this increases your exposure to a wider range of people.
  • Remove connections of people that you do not wish to be connected to –ie that old boss that you really didn’t like and never want to talk to again. Removing connections is simple and they do not know you have done it!
  • Connect with people both in your industry and in others industries as you never know who they know. Sometimes the brother of your friend is working in a company that you are interested in learning more and you were not aware of that until you connected with your friend on LinkedIn.
  • Join groups that are in the field you are interested in learning more about. Once you have joined make sure to respond or comment on postings. Make short comments that show you understand or add value to the discussion. It is not a matter of just “liking”. By doing this, you are starting to create a presence to your network on LinkedIn and could capture the eye of a recruiter. You can also learn some of the latest trends in your industry.
  • Have recommendations on your LinkedIn that highlight your skills. When getting recommendations make sure that you spread them out so they do not all happen on the same day. The reason for this is each time you add a recommendation it will go out to your connections if you have the alert button turned on. If looking for work and do not want your employer to know then keep your alerts turned off or make sure you don’t have a flood of recommendations coming in on the same day.
  • If a recruiter contacts you and your are not looking for work at the moment –do respond back and let them know if you are not looking but keep the name for the future as you never know when you will be looking.
  • Check out jobs on LinkedIn and when you look at the job look also at the other ones recommended. This will generate more jobs coming to your LinkedIn site.
  • Use LinkedIn for research on companies to understand the skills they need by reviewing the staff who currently work there. You can analyze your skills and see if you could improve our chances of working at your ideal firm by taking a course or some additional training.

About Dorothy Keenan of FutureWorks

Dorothy is a professional resume writer and career advisor with over 25 years’ experience in helping people find fulfilling work at all levels of the labour market. If you think your LinkedIn profile needs a tune up or you are unsure how to even start contact Dorothy at dorothyk@fwt.bc.ca or go to www.fwt.bc.ca.  Changing your profile can lead to some great opportunities for growth or career change.

15
Dec

How to get your resume past the robots – Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

ATS-Resume-Blog

The world of looking for jobs has changed and how you apply for jobs has changed drastically. One important factor, especially in this digital, paper-free society, is to know how to craft a proper resume. Yes, we have moved on from newspaper ads and letters in the mail, with recruiters now using LinkedIn, Twitter and online job boards to find their ideal candidate, but the majority of recruiters will still ask you for a resume.

This move to e-recruiting has created somewhat of an obstacle for the traditional job hunter, however. Have you ever submitted numerous resumes to online job postings only to hear nothing back except the automated ‘Thank You for your Application’ email? Do you feel like your application is going into a resume black hole, never to be looked at by human eyes? You’re probably right.

Wise words

HR robots, or “Applicant Tracking Systems,” are indeed now used by both small and large organizations to filter out applicants whose resumes do not match a specified percentage of the key words identified by the employer. This is especially true for graduate, entry-level positions with reports suggesting that up to 75% of applications are automatically rejected. So, step one to keeping the HR robot happy is to make sure your resume includes key words from the specific job description.

But that’s not all.

Can you read this sentence? What about this one? I can, you can, but the HR robot can’t. If you underline a word on your resume, the system can’t read it; it may as well not be there. The same goes for anything in italics, in a table, diagram or a header or footer.

Six rules for formatting

Here are my top tips to create an ATS friendly resume:

  1. Do not use headers (even for contact information), footers, templates, graphs, charts, accents, shading, underlining or italics.
  2. You can still use bold, capitals, bullet points and some colour (although keep it minimal and professional).
  3. Place dates for education and employment at the right hand side of the document.
  4. Use standard name headings in the resume even if your company had a unique name ie Use “Software Developer” instead of “Software Nija” the ATS will not recognize Software Nijja as a job tittle.
  5. Customise each resume (time consuming, but worth it) for the specific position, using language from the job description.
  6. Edit carefully. The ATS will not recognize misspelled words.
Don’t forget the people

After all that, you also need to remember that your resume also has to be suitable for human evaluation! Don’t be tempted to include key words from the job description that you don’t actually possess, or create a completely stripped down text format document. If you survive the HR Robot, it will next be reviewed by a HR professional so must be visually appealing and error free.

I did say it wasn’t going to be easy. However it is possible and people do get work you just need to learn the new techniques.

ABOUT DOROTHY KEENAN OF FUTUREWORKS
Dorothy is a professional resume writer and career advisor with over 25 years’ experience in helping people find fulfilling work at all levels of the labour market. If you think your LinkedIn profile needs a tune up or you are unsure how to even start contact Dorothy at dorothyk@fwt.bc.ca or go to www.fwt.bc.ca.Changing your profile can lead to some great opportunities for growth or career change.

5
Nov

Does Your LinkedIn Profile Portray the Right Message?

We live in a visual world and LinkedIn, the professional social network, is no exception.

Research has shown that LinkedIn profiles with photographs are 10 times more likely to be viewed than profiles without. Why? First, a profile without a photograph looks incomplete and busy recruiters are not going to spend their valuable time looking at profiles with information missing. Secondly, and probably most importantly, we are a visual species with over 50% of communication being conducted through body language and appearance. We like to know what people look like in order to judge them in our normal manner, and believe us when we tell you that people are judging your LinkedIn profile photograph.

Your LinkedIn profile needs to convey your personal brand and the photograph that you use is an essential part of this. What does your photograph say about you? Does it position you as the competent, influential professional that you are? Here are our top ten tips to use your LinkedIn photograph to convey your professional personal brand.

Dress for the Job that you Want

Your LinkedIn profile should position you as a professional in the industry that you want to work in. Make it easy for people to envisage you working in that industry by using a photograph that shows you dressed as you would for an interview. Depending on the industry, this is likely to be business formal or business casual, avoiding any distracting accessories (i.e. glitzy earrings) or revealing/low-cut/sheer clothing. If you are not sure whether business formal or business casual applies to your industry, check out the ‘Meet our Team’ website section of relevant organizations website to determine what the dress code is…and copy it.

Smile

The purpose of social networking is connecting, and body language is just as important in online networking as it is in face-to-face interactions. For people to want to reach out to you, you should look approachable and likeable. The easiest way to do this is to smile and look at the camera.

Leave the Selfie Stick at Home

We are all guilty of taking the occasional selfie. When we take a selfie, we position our head in a certain way that screams “this is a selfie!” While this is ok for Facebook vacation photographs, it is not perceived as professional enough for LinkedIn. Put the selfie stick down and ask someone to take the photograph for you.

Who is that?

You want people to be able to recognize you from your LinkedIn photograph. They will not be able to do this if your face is covered up with sunglasses or you upload a work team photograph or, even worse, a family photo with everyone including the pet dog in it. Your image should be a head and shoulders shot of you and only you, no matter how great your colleagues are.

What’s that behind you?

The focus of your photograph should be you, so avoid any distracting backgrounds that draw attention away from you. This doesn’t mean standing in front of a plain white wall with the risk of creating a mugshot style image! Coloured or outdoor backgrounds can create a more flattering image, but avoid including distracting items such as cluttered rooms, Christmas trees or other people!

Showcase your Tech Skills

LinkedIn photographs should be 200 by 200 pixels. Uploading a photograph that doesn’t meet these requirements can result in a fuzzy image that causes people to doubt your technology skills. Additionally, avoid uploading a file that you need to zoom-in on repeatedly, as this will likely result in a pixelated image that doesn’t showcase you as the professional that you are.

Hire a Professional

Sometimes, only a professional will do and the financial investment is worth it. If you work in a particularly image conscious industry or simply want to show the best version of yourself, invest in a professional photographer to take your headshot.

Keep it Current

You might have preferred the way that you looked 5 or 10 years ago, many of us do! However, you don’t want to be known as that person who uses an out-of-date photograph. Make sure that you are recognizable by using a current photograph that represents your current appearance.

Make Use of the Background Photograph

A relatively recent addition to the LinkedIn profile is the background photograph (the same idea as your wallpaper on your Facebook account). This can be used to support your personal brand, by showcasing the company logo of the organization that you own/operate or uploading an image that relates to your industry. If you don’t have an image of your own, websites such as Free LinkedIn Backgrounds offer free images in the correct size for uploading.

Get Opinions

While you have to be satisfied that the image that you upload accurately presents your personal brand, it is ultimately the opinions of others that count. You can, of course, ask trustworthy friends and colleagues for their opinion but there is now also an online alternative option. PhotoFeeler provides unbiased feedback on your Linkedin profile photograph with anonymous users assessing how competent, likable and influential you appear.