Archive for the ‘On-Line Resources’ Category

Dec 10 2011

Ten Things You Can Do to Improve Your Use of LinkedIn

Are you on LinkedIn but not sure what to do with it?   Do you feel overwhelmed by the thought of getting onto LinkedIn?  Do you know you could be doing more with it, but you feel like you don’t have the time?   Here are ten simple things you can do to improve your use of LinkedIn:

1) Get A Picture (or get a better one):  I’m frequently astounded at the pictures that people use for their LinkedIn profiles.   Many of them are blurry, dark, unflattering or cluttered.   Your profile picture should look like you, only better.   Take the time to get a professional head shot taken.   Don’t have the time or money?   Get a friend who has a good digital camera and likes to take pictures.   Get dressed nicely.   Ladies, put on make up.   Wear a solid color that contrasts with your skin color (nothing too bright please).  Outside lighting is more flattering, so go to a park and have your friend take a bunch of photos of you.   Choose the one that you like the most.   Upload to LinkedIn.  Not sure how to do that?  Ask a teenager for help.

2)  Add Groups:   You are allowed to belong to 50 groups on LinkedIn.   The benefit of groups is that you can directly email anyone with whom you share a group.   So, it increases your network exponentially.   Choose some groups in the field in which you’re looking for work or a new field that you’d like to enter.   If you belong to some professional associations, make sure to join their LinkedIn group.  Not sure how to find appropriate groups?   On the top of your profile where it says “People – Search”, click on the down arrow you’ll see a list of things for which you can search.   Select “Groups” off the list.   Then type some key words into the search box and click the little magnifying glass.  You will see a list of groups that you might be interested in joining.  Join some.  Don’t want to get lots of email from your groups?  You can set your email settings to weekly summaries when you join.

3) Proofread your profile:   I frequently notice typos on people’s profiles.   This is your public presence, so PLEASE read your profile carefully and correct those typos!  Make sure your grammar and spelling are correct.   Don’t use person pronouns – it should read more like a resume than a casual email to your friends.

4) Invite more people to join your network:  Try inviting at least one person to your LinkedIn network every day.  If you do that, you’ll have 365 people in your network in a year.   Be sure to invite people you know who are on LinkedIn.   Please don’t send the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network” invite.   Take a minute to personalize the invitation.   If you haven’t seen them in awhile, give them a quick update.   Then say, “I’d like to keep in touch by adding you to my network on LinkedIn, if you’re willing!”    Not sure who to invite?  Start with the list that says “people you may know” (to find it click on “Home” at the top of your profile page).   There will be a list of people with whom you share connections or groups.

5)  Add Skills:  There is new feature on LinkedIn that allows you to add skills.  These are words and phrases that are pre-defined by LinkedIn.   To find it, look under the “More” tab on the top of the page.   Select “skills” off the list.   Now, try typing a word or phrase into the search box.   If the skill you typed in is already on the list, it will appear along with a description of that skill.  Even better, a list of related skills will appear on the left hand side.   If it’s an accurate description of your skill, just select “Add skill” and it will be added to the Skills section of your profile.

6) Ask for some recommendations:  It helps to have recommendations for at least the most recent jobs you’ve listed on LinkedIn.   If you’re not comfortable asking your old boss to write you a recommendation, ask a colleague who knows your work or a client who can speak about the experience they had with you. Most people are willing to do this for you if they had a good experience with you and know you well enough to comment on the quality of your work.

7) Write a recommendation for someone else:  Everyone likes a pat on the back.  Writing a recommendation for someone else will make them feel good (and will lift your spirits as well!).   Try doing this once a week and see what happens.    Give the recommendation without expecting to receive one back (and don’t feel insulted if they don’t recommend you as well).   It’s almost better to have recommendations from people who don’t recommend you back because it looks too much like a “quid pro quo” when you recommend everyone that has recommended you.

8) Beef Up Your Summary Section:  The summary section of your profile should include key information about what you can do for employers.  What sets you apart from other candidates?   Don’t say, looking for challenging position in…focus on what’s in it for the employer.   What special skills or knowledge do you possess that will benefit potential employers?  A bulleted list of your special areas of expertise is helpful for people scanning your profile.

9)  Ask or answer a question or post information:  Now that you’re a member of some groups (see item #2 ), you can post an question for discussion, share some information or comment on someone else’s post.   If you do this once or twice a week, it will raise your visibility.   If you post a question, make sure there are no typos or misspelled words.   Also, keep the question upbeat and on point.

10)  Add a book list:   If you like to read and enjoy sharing what you’re reading with others, add the reading list feature to your profile.  To do that, click on “More” at the top of the page and select “Get more applications”.    You will see a list of features you can add to your profile.   Select the “reading list” feature and you can add a list of books you’re reading and write a short comment.    There are many other applications you can add, including Box.net that lets you upload files to your profile and Huddle that gives you a place to share documents that can be edited by others.

Do a few of the things on this list every week and you’ll find that LinkedIn will become a more valuable tool for you whether or not you’re in job search mode.

Sep 5 2011

Free Expert Advice for Job Seekers

Ultimate Job Summit

I was recently selected to participate in a new on-line resource that will be available for job seekers starting today, September 5, 2011 – the Ultimate Job Summit.   This site is the brainchild of Nate Lind, who was unemployed but went from being unemployed to earning 6 figures in 6 months.   He wanted to share the lessons he learned and some of the best advice he used during his job search.   So, he interviewed eight consultants in a variety of areas and is making those interviews available for free for one month.   Each of the consultants interviewed is providing freebies, discounts and special offers to summit participants.   By signing up, you will have access to the discounts provided as well as 8 hours of expert advice that you can access for free at your convenience.

Now, I am one of the people interviewed, but even if I wasn’t, I think it’s a good deal.   You get over 8 hours of free advice from experts who charge good money for their time – so that part alone is worth at least $800.    And, each expert has made special offers available only to those who sign up for the summit.

So, check it out by going to www.ultimatejobsummit.com.    I hope you find it to be a helpful resource – and I’d love to hear your feedback about it!

 

Aug 24 2011

Finding Target Companies

Most career coaches recommend that you identify target companies to help you focus your job search.   In general, I agree with this advice.   Having a list of target companies can help you in a number of ways:

1) Networking:  You can focus your networking efforts on organizations that you think are a good fit.  Networking with current and past employees of your target companies helps you learn more about their challenges and company culture.

2) Research:  Your research time can be aimed at a shorter list of potential employers.  You can set up a schedule to check the company website for job postings, follow the company on LinkedIn, and review the company website.   You can set up news alerts in Google so that when your target companies are mentioned, you will be informed.

3) Advance Interview Preparation:  When you interview with a target company, you will already know what is happening at the company, how you can help them and why you want to work for them.  And, hopefully, you’ll have some inside contacts in place.

4) Hidden Job Market: If you do a proper job of networking, your inside contacts will let you know before positions are posted and recommend you to the hiring manager.   Companies want you to want them, so showing interest BEFORE jobs are posted can never hurt.

Now, there are some drawbacks to having a list of target companies.   Many people I meet have an impossibly long list of “target companies” which makes it difficult to focus.  At that point, the list becomes a “wish list” not a target list.  I suggest having no more than 25 companies on your target list, with ten that you concentrate on at any one time.   Those top ten companies can change as you learn more about each of them, but if you keep the list manageable you’ll be able to spend the time to truly understand their needs and challenges.

So, how do you find these target companies?

I recommend that my clients use Zoominfo as a first step when looking for target companies (www.zoominfo.com).   The site is quite easy to use and enables you to quickly find companies in your area and industry whether or not they have any jobs posted.   Click here for a handout on how to find target companies using Zoominfo.

 

Aug 10 2011

Identifying Keywords for Your Resume & Cover Letters

Most people do find their positions through some form of networking. So, I don’t recommend that you spend more than 25% of your available job search time applying to positions on-line. HOWEVER, you still need to keep your eye on job postings so you can jump on it when something good does come up.

One of the things that my clients find frustrating is having to tailor their resumes and cover letters to each job posting. When I write resumes, I include important keywords and phrases that are commonly found in the types of positions to which my clients will be applying. However, every job is different, so you might need to do a little tweaking so that your wording matches the posting.

Here are some suggestions for how you can do that efficiently.

1) Find 3-4 job descriptions for “ideal positions”, even if they’re located outside of your region. You can do this by searching www.indeed.com without specifying a zipcode. Review the job descriptions carefully. Do you have the required skills and requirements? What buzzwords or technical competencies are being requested?

2) Now, make sure your basic resume includes the keywords that are found in those job descriptions. One way to do this is by highlighting the most frequently used nouns and skills words on the job description. Another way to do it is by using a word cloud generator (see # 3).

3) To create a “word cloud” from the words in the job description, cut and paste the words from the body of the job description into a free on-line word cloud generator. I personally like the site www.tocloud.com. What you’ll get is a picture of the words in the job description with the words used more frequently showing up in a larger font. Better yet, the words from the job description are alphabetized, giving you a handy reference when you’re tweaking your cover letter or resume.

For more information on using a word cloud generator, download my short presentation here http://www.careeredge.us/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Using-Word-Clouds1.pdf.

Jul 21 2011

Should I Call Myself “Experienced”?

Looking around on LinkedIn the other day, I noticed how many people use the term “experienced” in their headline or summary. Generally speaking, “experienced” is code for “old” and maybe “expensive”. So, I would caution against using that word when describing yourself. Having a lot of experience doesn’t necessarily help you if employers think your experience is out-of-date or that you might be set in your ways.

In your headline, it’s usually better to state facts and use search terms that recruiters might use to find you. They’re going to search for “operations manager” with “lean manufacturing” expertise. They’re not going to search for “experienced”, “enthusiastic” or “accomplished”.

Let your experience speak for itself by including strong accomplishments in the body of your profile. If you want to include a “valued-added” statement about yourself, talk about results and what you can do for employers. “Retail turnaround specialist known for transforming low performing stores in record time” is better than “experienced store manager”.

So, avoid the general glowing adjectives and focus on specific skills, expertise and accomplishments that separate you from the other “experienced” candidates out there!

Jul 18 2011

LinkedIn Visibility

A recent survey showed that 2/3 of employers have made successful hires through social networks and 89% report using LinkedIn to recruit new candidates. In that same survey, employee referrals were ranked as the most highly rated source for candidate quality. 1 in 10 referral candidates are hired compared to 1 in 100 general applicants (Source: JobVite Social Recruiting Survey July 2011). So, your chances of getting hired are 10 times higher if you go in as an employee referral as opposed to applying on-line.

Given these statistics, if you’re looking for a job, you should definitely invest more time networking with contacts at target companies and less time applying blindly to posted jobs. It also makes sense to optimize your LinkedIn profile to make sure you are found by recruiters.

One of the most common ways recruiters search for candidates is by using the Advanced Search feature, typing in a title and then specifying “current”. If you have not entered anything in the “Current” section of your profile, you will not be found. One way to solve that problem is by entering the most common title(s) for the type of position you are seeking in the “Current Title” field in your profile and then entering “In Transition” in the “Current Employer” field. Now, if recruiters search on that title, they will find you.

Don’t forget to include keywords in your LinkedIn profile that are commonly found in job descriptions for the type of position you are seeking and make sure to add detailed descriptions of your accomplishments and skills. LinkedIn profiles actually provide more space than a resume, so maximize it by adding information that recruiters might use to search for candidates like you!

Happy Hunting – Sue Kaiden

Jul 13 2011

LinkedIn Etiquette

Inviting People to Join Your Network on LinkedIn by Sue Kaiden, CareerEdge

When asking people to join your network on LinkedIn, it is essential that you send a customized invite message. Even though you might be tempted to click on the button that sends the standard “I’d like you to join my professional network” message – don’t do it! Here’s why:

1) Unless you know the person well, they may not remember your name. I get a lot of invites from people and half the time I don’t have a clue where I may have met them. Take the time to remind them where you met or what you may have in common. Nine times out of ten, they will accept your invite.

2) If you haven’t seen them in awhile, take the time to give them a quick update on your situation. It’s an opportunity to reach out to someone so don’t waste it. Just remember to keep it upbeat!

3) LinkedIn veterans consider it rude to receive a standard invite. Some won’t accept your invite on principle. Don’t risk annoying a potential networking contact – take the time to send a tailored message.

4) Don’t invite people to your network if you’ve never met them. Unless people identify themselves as “open networkers” or LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers), they usually want to know you, at least a little bit. If you see someone with whom you’d like to connect, ask someone who is already connected with them to introduce you. That is usually a more successful approach.

So, next time you invite someone to your network, take the time to “add a personal note” to your invite message. I expect that you’ll get a better response!