May 22, 2011
The following is from one of my guest bloggers, Martin Yate, CPC, Author of Knock ‘em Dead: Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World.
How to Quadruple Your Chances of an Interview
The more ways you approach your target companies and hiring managers, the faster you will get into conversation with the people who can and will hire you. Let’s say you respond to a job posting by uploading your resume; that gives you one chance of getting an interview.
You can quadruple your chances of an interview if you also:
• E-mail your resume directly to the manager by name with a personalized cover letter. This alone will double your chances of an interview.
• Send a resume and personalized cover letter to that manager by traditional mail, and you will triple your chances of an interview. Don’t smirk at the idea of traditional mail. We all like a break from the computer screen, so delivering your sales message and resume this way can be very effective. When you do this, note in the cover letter that you sent the resume by e-mail and that this additional approach is because you are really interested in the company and “wanted to increase my chances of getting your attention.” Doing this demonstrates that you are creative and not a technological Neanderthal.
• Make a follow-up telephone call to that manager first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, or at 5:00 P.M. (when he is most likely to be available and picking up his own phone) and you will quadruple your chances of an interview.
Remember, a successful job search is all about getting into conversation with people in a position to hire you as often as possible. The more frequently you get into conversation with managers whose job titles signify that they have the authority to hire you, the faster you will land that new position, because you have skipped right over the hurdle of being pulled from the commercial resume database; you have sidestepped the corporate recruiter’s evaluation process, and as a result you have the attention of the actual decision-maker and the chance to have a conversation, to make a direct and personal pitch.
Getting a resume to someone by name with a personalized pitch gives you a distinct advantage, never more important than when the economy is down or in recovery. At such times your competition is fierce and employers actually do recognize and appreciate the initiative and motivation you display by doing these things, especially picking up the phone and calling: All these approaches act as differentiating factors in your candidacy.
The above is an excerpt from the book Knock ‘em Dead: Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World by Martin Yate, CPC. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
Copyright © 2011 Martin Yate, CPC, author of Knock ‘em Dead: Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World
Martin Yate, CPC, author of Knock ‘em Dead: Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World, is a New York Times and international bestseller of job search and career management books. He is the author of 11 job search and career management books published throughout the English speaking world and in over 50 foreign language editions. Over thirty years in career management, including stints as an international technology headhunter, head of HR for a publicly traded company and Director of Training and Development for an international employment services organization.
Within the profession he has a global reputation as the thought leader on job search and career management issues. He has lectured on four continents and has maintained a coaching practice since 1991.
The current recession is the 5th he has helped people navigate over the last 30 years.
For more information please visit http://www.knockemdead.com and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.
May 20, 2011
This question came up in one of my LinkedIn groups: “What do you think about posting your tweets to your LinkedIn account? I read an article that was complaining about people who hook Twitter up in LinkedIN to push tweets automatically. What do you think about this strategy? … Yay or nay?”
My opinion is that messages are NOT suitable across various platforms.
RE: Twitter & Linkedin. If I’m involved in a Twitter discussion group or event utilizing a hashtag (#), I would find that communication irritating and irrelevant to my LinkedIn followers unless they understand the context. Also, instead of a DM, sometimes in Twitter you might use an @ mention response…again, I don’t feel this is necessary for my LinkedIn followers to see.
Solution: Rather than automate, when in Twitter if I’m tweeting something I think may be useful to my LinkedIn network, I use the hashtag #in. When in LinkedIn, (as I have the Twitter application installed), I simply check the Twitter button if I want my Tweeps to view. While this approach may be considered more time consuming than automation, I consider it to be mindful and considerate to my valued network.
When facilitating Social Media workshops, these are definitely suggestions I ask others to consider.
Just my two cents…
May 9, 2011
My answers to interview questions by Dr Amit Nagpal (a LinkedIn connection) from New Delhi, India, on his blog about life skills: http://dramitnagpal.blogspot.com/2011/05/interview-with-ms-brenda-blackburn-life.html
May 3, 2011
As some of my readers know, I’m the founder of the DVT Support Group of the Lower Mainland and a survivor. For more information see: http://brendablackburn.com/her-cause.php
This month, I’m pleased to announce that Dr. John Swiston from UBC and VGH, will be giving a presentation and answering questions regarding Pulmonary Embolism and Pulmonary Hypertension.
If you know anyone who had or is at risk for venous blood clots (DVT and/or PE), please let them know of this important session.
Here are the details:
DVT Support Group of the Lower Mainland. For survivors of Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism (blood clots). Info: www.dvt.meetup.com/18. Tues., May 24, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Special guest speaker: Dr. John Swiston, re: Pulmonary Hypertension. Meeting room of the Burnaby Public Library–McGill Branch, 4595 Albert S. Free. To register, call Brenda at 309-0610 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much and be well….
I am returning to work after taking time out to raise a family. The most recent contract postions I have held have all been obtained through word-of-mouth. What I struggle with is the anonymity of the Internet as a selection /recruitment tool and the very poor level of service provided by recruitment agencies. What do you feel is the most successful way for mature age job seekers to approach finding employment? — Kim B.
A solution to reduce the anonymity of the Internet is to not be anonymous! Modern day Internet strategies include personal branding, which can be established through your e-resumes/portfolio and professional social media profiles (i.e. LinkedIn and Twitter). Depending on your line of work, you can also post relevant articles through a blog. Ensure consistency of your content and messages. Ensure all social media interaction is positive and professional, as employers and recruiters will Google your name to see what can be found about you. Transparency is key.
Most jobs are never posted. Think about it this way….if you were an employer would you shell out the salary you want to a complete stranger? No. Most of us would rather hire people we’ve met, who have engaged with us, demonstrated interest and initiative, etc. Or we’ll hire through word-of-mouth. So it’s key to target specific companies to begin your research process. When doing so, be sure to Google THEM as well, and pay attention to what they’re saying through social media (i.e. follow them on LinkedIn and Twitter, and connect and dialogue with them.) Company research is vital in an effective job search campaign.
Don’t rely on others (i.e. recruiters) to find you work. While they are a great resource, they are simply that… another resource to use in conjunction with all the other job search strategies you use. Remember, YOU are the best salesperson of you! And in order to do that, you have to network, network, network!! This is SO very important…crucial to an effective job search. When I facilitate job search workshops and ask participants how they got their last job, the majority have said through networking. So it’s proven to be effective!
Jobs will not magically appear, you must seek them. Through positive and consistent action, THEN jobs may appear! I equate it to the needle in the haystack metaphor. For some reason, when most of us are in job search mode, we hope we will miraculously stumble upon the perfect job for us…whether through the internet, job board, etc. But that’s like waiting to find a needle in a haystack!
And, while social media is a necessity in today’s job search, real live face-to-face interaction is where all paths must ultimately lead.
Lastly, regarding being a mature worker…the methods I suggested are for everyone, regardless of age. I would teach the same methods to mature workers or young workers. Just remember: you have a lot of skills, work ethics, and life experience to offer that are highly valuable to an employer!
Hope this helps and all the best to you in your job search!
This question was posted on CareerSuccessRadio.com’s “Career Success Expert Panel” page: http://careersuccessradio.com/2010/04/no-progressive-responsibilities-help-q8-career-careerradio/
The full question:
I have ten years experience in a great office where no one leaves and so no one gets promoted. How do I show progressive responsibility on my resume? — Michael B
Sounds like you have lots of great experience and a great work environment! Such a great place to be at, yet I can see the challenge if there is no upward movement.
Without being able to show title advancement within your company on your resume, you will want to ensure your skills speak to that instead. I would suggest you really evaluate what you have done over the last 10 years and list out all your skills to review. Which ones show progressive responsibility? List those on your resume. Ask your boss for a performance appraisal that will address ways your skills/responsibilities may have advanced over the years. If you plan to leave your company, ask for a reference that will address this area.
And if you find your skills have stayed fairly static, and you want to stay with your company, I would suggest practicing effective (assertive) communication skills with your boss. In other words, have you discussed this with him/her? In addition to Queen Schmooze’s great suggestions, if you are unsure of ways you can take initiative in this area, why not let your boss know you are ready for skill/responsibility advancement and challenge, and ask how you can provide that service? Work together collaboratively with your team and your boss. Also, are there ways you can take further schooling/upgrading in your field to heighten your expertise? What are some creative ways you can contribute to your company in new/fresh, challenging and exciting ways?
Hope this helps Michael. Best wishes on your career journey,
May 2, 2011
If you’ve read my blog about Information Interviews, but would like a real-life success story, here’s one of them. (There are been SO many!)
A job seeker in one of my classes had immigrated from another country and culturally did not believe in the forwardness of information interviewing or accessing the hidden job market. However, after learning about it, she decided to give it a chance and with planning, preparation and practice with the group, she made a call to arrange an information interview with a company she was extremely interested in. She was so excited when she was granted an appointment with the employer! But it gets better than that! After the meeting, she came back and shared with the group that the company was so impressed with her initiative and ambition, that they actually decided to CREATE a position for her and hired her on the spot! She couldn’t believe it!
You can’t win opportunities if you don’t take action folks!
1. Know that security is found within. Take charge of your career. Treat yourself as a business…“ME Inc.” Brand yourself. Think outside of the box. Follow your passion. Take some calculated risks by putting out proposals to fill a gap in service. And if you want full-time work, you can’t go about it with a casual investment of job search time. This is your career you’re talking about!
2. “No man is an island.” Build and maintain relationships. This comes back to the importance of networking! Ask for help when you need it. Be willing to help others. Relationships are a two-way exchange, not numbers in a social media followers tally. Don’t add people to your network unless you are serious about nurturing the relationships.
3. Be confident, yet stay humble. Know your strengths and what you have to offer, but don’t be too proud to help where/when you’re needed/called. Ego can get in the way of some quality opportunities.
4. Have and give gratitude. Concentrate on abundance, not lack. Try to stay operating from a place of faith, rather than fear.
If you’re contemplating a career change, but want to be sure whether or not the career, role, or company will be right for you, you may want to consider one of the most powerful research tools there is: Information Interviews.
While many people may have heard the term before, most are not familiar with what exactly it means and entails. Quite simply, an “information interview” is a type of interview process utilized to obtain information about an occupation you may be considering. It’s based on the idea that if you’re interested in a particular career path, then the best person to ask about it is someone doing the actual job! That way you learn real-life perspectives from experienced individuals.
And while that may sound straightforward enough, many people are a little apprehensive about conducting research in this way because it’s not something they have tried in the past. However, once done, the results speak for themselves and participants have found it to be one of the best tools they have under their belt, so to speak.
Let’s consider what might happen, without conducting occupational research in this way. I had a client who wanted to leave the career she had been in for 15 years. She looked into becoming a Dental Hygienist, because it paid well, had good long-term prospects, and “sounded good”. However, she didn’t conduct information interviews to complete her research. After a year of training and all the relevant costs incurred, she landed her first job in the field. However, she only lasted a few months, after deciding she hated it! Why? Because she didn’t research the position thoroughly beforehand. In this article, I’ll show you many practical ways you can do so, so that this doesn’t happen to you!
It’s important to note that the purpose of an Information Interview is not to request a job. The purpose is to obtain career information from knowledgeable professionals in the field, in order to make a sound career decision. In addition, it enables you to do a reality check on what you’ve read, heard, thought or assumed so far in your exploration process.
Added benefits of Informational Interviews:
• They provide an opportunity to view the workplace, environment, and other employees on the job.
• They provide an opportunity to obtain a greater depth of valuable career knowledge than is possible with other research methods (i.e. print or internet). As a Chinese proverb says, “A single conversation across the table with a wise man is worth a month’s study of books.”
• They allow you to gather up-to-date information on trends and shifts.
• They provide an opportunity to gain advice from a potential employer on qualifications required and future job prospects.
• They provide no-pressure interview skills and practice.
• They help to enlarge your circle of networking contacts.
So how does one start? Well, the answer is by networking!
Network, network, network!
• First, you’ll want to create a networking contact list. You can start filling in your list with friends, family, organizations, neighbors, business and community people you know. Then of course you must, at some point, branch out by searching online, through social media sites (such as LinkedIn and Twitter), the yellow pages, in directories, newspapers, associations, and so on.
• Each time you talk with someone, don’t be shy and ask for referrals (I always ask for two) and suggestions of whom you might speak to next. Ask if you can mention that they referred you. (This is free advertising for them, and turns a cold lead into a warm lead for you!) Work on growing and nurturing your network.
• You’ll want to speak with several people in the industry before making any decisions, and should consider speaking with all levels of professionals in the field, from the beginner, to the intermediate, to the advanced.
A little preparation goes a long way
• Be able to state concisely what information you’re looking for, your objective, and goals.
• Create calling cards to distribute to everyone you come in contact with, to ensure people know how to reach you.
• If you are keenly interested in a particular career, you should have conducted some initial occupational research to establish that it matches your needs, interests, values, skills, etc. Also, thoroughly research the website of the professional or employer’s organization you are interviewing. Ensure that you have this primary knowledge before going in to an interview. Do your homework first!
• Prepare a list of questions ahead of time, including ones customized for your specific career research.
• Keep your career exploration information together and well organized. Rather than bringing individual pieces of paper with you, prepare a professional portfolio or binder with your questions, blank paper, research obtained from print or the Internet, company information if applicable, your current resume, and perhaps a plastic holder for the business cards you receive, and any other pertinent information.
• Prepare telephone scripts for setting interview appointments. You’ll want one for seeking contacts (i.e. from a receptionist) and one for direct contact. While you might not think this is necessary, even the most seasoned communicators stumble with “uh” and “um”, or other fumbles, without one. In addition, if you are asked to leave a voicemail, you are then prepared to leave the most professional one possible.
• Practice by role-playing. If you feel uncomfortable at first with the thought of interviewing a stranger, try with a friend or family member, even if they’re not in your field, just to get in the practice. It can really be a lot of fun!
Set the appointments
• Utilize your phone scripts. They will help you to sound professional, as well as help you to stay focused, articulate, and concise.
• Smile while you dial! People can tell! It works and can change the entire tone of a conversation.
• When speaking directly to your contact, mention your referral if you have one. Explain your purpose and be to the point. This is not a job interview – it is simply a request for information. Most people are flattered! Remember that people answering a business phone are there to provide quality customer service, and your request should be treated no differently. Ask for a set period of time to meet (e.g. 15 or 20 minutes.)
Conduct the interview
• Treat this interview as a formal job interview. Dress appropriately, be well groomed, polite, organized, prepared, punctual, sharp, and alert.
• Always greet people with a warm, friendly smile, and a firm handshake.
• Have a good two-way conversation. Ask your questions, making sure you get the information you need about the occupation. At the same time, be willing to share some information about yourself and your occupational goals.
• Be relaxed. There is no need to be nervous or intimidated. This interview is not for a job (not now at least), but you are making the crucial first impression. The balance of control is in your favor, as you know what information you need and what the questions are. The pressure is less on you and more on them as the spotlight is focused on their expertise and your interest in their expertise.
• Ask if it would be okay to take notes and then do so, as this will show that you are serious about getting the information, and it will help in your decision making process later.
• Βe sure to ask for the names of other people you could speak to. Be open to other ideas and avenues. Ask for at least two other contacts. If you do this at four information interviews, you will have eight new contacts in related occupations! Remember to ask if you may mention that he/she referred you.
• Courteously follow the time frame agreed upon. If it was 15 minutes, stop at that point to thank them for their time. Quite often they are happy to extend, so count on spending more time there just in case!
• Thank them for their time and ask for a couple of their business cards. (One for you, and one to share should you know someone in need of their services or products.) Don’t forget to shake hands. Your closing needs to be strong, as it will leave a lasting impression.
Don’t forget to stay objective during the process. I once had a client who, after his first informational interview, announced that sadly he supposed the career of interest wouldn’t be for him. The reason? He interviewed someone who had negative things to say about the job and his company. Remember…information from one source does not make it so. You have to conduct multiple interviews to substantiate views and separate fact from fiction. Time and time again over the years, I have had clients understand this, yet in reality became discouraged over one negative comment (whether gleaned in person or via the Internet). However, when encouraged to complete the process, they discovered that the positive information far surpassed any negative. Stay positive and stay with it!
• Just as you would do after a job interview, write a formal thank you card (or at least an email letter) to each person you conducted research with. This reinforces your sincerity and professionalism, and will encourage the contact person to speak with you again if you need to.
• Keep in touch with people who you think might be able to help. Call back, send a note or email with updates on your progress or outcome, or by sending/sharing other relevant information.
• It is not uncommon that the contacts gained from Informational Interviews later turn into actual job leads. It has been said that while 1 in 200 resumes turns into a job interview, 1 in 12 Information Interviews results in a job!
So before you jump head first into a new career, if you commit to the research involved with Information Interviews, you will be able to rest assured that you are making the best possible decision. Have a lot of fun and enjoy meeting new people during your process! ■
Brenda Blackburn, copyright 2011 (revision)