Vault's Careers Blog

Career advice and job search strategies for the modern careerist

Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

Vault’ s Careers Blog is Moving

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An announcement: after almost a year on WordPress, we’re discontinuing Vault’s Careers Blog on WordPress. But don’t worry: you’ll still be able to get your fill of career information and advice on Vault.com–where our blogs are going from strength to strength.

Our full blog lineup on Vault.com is as follows:

Vault’s Careers Blog
Vault’s Law Blog
Consult THIS: Consulting Careers, News and Views
In Good Company: Vault’s CSR blog
In the Black: Vault’s Finance Careers Blog
Admit One: Vault’s MBA, Law School and College Blog
Insider Career Advice from SixFigureStart
Innovate with Influence: Global High Tech

Thanks for reading us on WordPress.

We hope to see you over on Vault.com soon!

–The Vault Editorial Team

Career Moves to Make Before Year-End

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We have two months to go before 2011. You might be tempted to ease into the holidays and push into the New Year your work on landing a new job, starting a business, making a career change, or getting a promotion. But there are certain things you should do now to take advantage of the remaining days of 2010.

Prepare for end of year discussions. If your company pays bonuses or determines promotions at year end, this might be the time that decisions are made. Make sure people are aware of your contributions. If you have any emails from colleagues thanking you for a job well done, forward these to your manager. (If you have none of these, you should, so start collecting them for 2011!) If there is no formal review process, schedule a meeting proactively, so you can discuss in detail your contributions and your expectations going forward.

Use the holiday festivities to step up your networking. Many professional associations have holiday mixers, so if you haven’t kept up with your industry colleagues, now is a good time to play catch-up. If you have extra bandwidth, volunteer to assist at the mixer. You will make deeper connections with the group, and it’s a great way to ensure you meet with most of the attendees. Sending holiday cards is an easy but thoughtful way to build in a hello each year.

Plan and organize for next year. Clear out your office files. Mark your 2011 calendar for key meetings and appointments. Look at your company’s training calendar, and sign up now so you prioritize your professional development before your schedule gets too crazy. Think of your big career goals for 2011, and schedule your calendar now for reminders throughout the year. For example, if expanding your network is a goal, then schedule a weekly reminder to reach out to several contacts.

Finally, if there is a career goal you know you want now (e.g., land a new job, start a business, make a career change, or get a promotion), then start now. It’s a myth that hiring stops near the holidays. It’s also dangerous to wait for that perfect time to start. The above checklist of items are still good ideas, but should not displace efforts you make towards bigger career goals.
— Caroline Ceniza-Levine

What Job Seekers Can Do To Impress Recruiters

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A lot of job seekers lament that reading the feedback from HR is like staring into a black box. It is tough to know what recruiters are thinking because, as a former recruiter myself, I know that recruiters don’t like to share very detailed feedback.

But it’s helpful to know what the successful candidates do, so you can learn from them and use these tactics for yourself. Here are some strategies from current active recruiters when I asked them, “What is an example of something a strong candidate did very well or that impressed you?”

Emphasize what’s best for the long run, even it may not benefit you immediately

Jean Allen is a veteran recruiter in the financial services industry. She is currently at Exchange Place Partners:

Someone who was in the running for a job they really wanted once told me that her boss would actually be a better fit and that she thought he might be interested if I approached him. I did approach him and he was hired. (Good news: He then hired her.)

Follow up over time and let genuine relationships grow

Toni Thompson is the Diversity and Inclusion Manager for McCann Erickson NY:

A candidate I interviewed over a year ago continues to send me bi-monthly emails with interesting articles about technology and diversity, two interests I mentioned in our initial meeting, and updates me on his current job responsibilities. There are very few people who know how to build a meaningful relationship with recruiters. This guy did it well.

Be confident, but not too much

Lindsay Browning is a Recruiting Specialist based in Dublin, Ireland, who specializes in recruiting language-based clients for online sales and marketing roles:

Confidence without being arrogant but belief that they are the right person for the role and the company. You cannot beat a candidate with a positive attitude!

You don’t have to close at the interview – what you do after sometimes matters more

Henry Lescaille is a Vice President of Human Resources at Time Inc:

I interviewed a woman several months ago, who, in my opinion lacked one critical piece of experience. She listened to my feedback, thanked me for my candor and said she wanted to “reflect” on our discussion. Her follow-up included concrete examples of how she did have that experience base and how she would be an asset to the organization. She was respectful, thoughtful and strategic – and now happily employed at Time Inc.

–Caroline Ceniza-Levine, SixFigureStart

Written by A.A. Somebody

October 19, 2010 at 10:26 am

What Recruiters Really Think About Resumes

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As a former executive recruiter, I skimmed resumes, preferring instead to find my candidates actively. I would see who had been published or quoted in the press. I would look for conference speakers or people active in professional associations. I would rely on word-of-mouth referrals, rather than unsolicited resumes. In other words, I would target candidates based on factors other than a resume, and once the candidate expressed interest, yes, I asked for a resume, but by then it was an afterthought.

Still, I know many jobseekers are really worried about their resume almost to the exclusion of the rest of their search. So, I asked recruiters who worked in diverse industries from non-profit to media, is this emphasis on the resume warranted?

Networking trumps passive resume submissions

Harry B. Weiner is a Partner at On-Ramps, an executive search firm that specializes in the social sector:

The resume is a marketing document that most people will spend less than two minutes reviewing (perhaps sad, but definitely true)….In general, you’ll be better off spending your energy on networking and industry/company research. The vast majority of people find their jobs through their networks, so by doubling-down on your networking, you may not even need a resume! For every 10 minutes you spend on your resume, you should spend an hour on LinkedIn.

Resumes are but one part of a comprehensive marketing campaign

Regina Angeles is CEO of Talent2050, an executive search firm that provides multicultural recruiting solutions for online and traditional media companies:

Candidates should invest time in building a robust online profile, especially on LinkedIn. Third-party and corporate recruiters continue to rely on LinkedIn as a sourcing and referencing tool. Make sure your profile contains keywords that will make you searchable.

Still resumes are important

Lesley Klein is a Managing Partner in Miller Klein Group, a search firm that specializes in HR and administrative support roles across all industries:

The resume is your first impression. It’s your marketing tool. It is essential to a successful job search process.

–Posted by Caroline Ceniza-Levine, SixFigureStart

Written by Phil Stott

September 28, 2010 at 12:45 pm

7 Career Changes? Depends How You Define ‘Career’

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What is a career anyway? It’s not a question that’s likely to come up in too many college level Philosophy courses (at least not until they’ve solved that one about the tree falling in the woods), but as the Wall Street Journal reports, it’s at the heart of a debate over just how many careers each of us is likely to have before we reach retirement age.

Most of us will be familiar—at least in theory—with the well-worn trope that the average job seeker can expect to have seven careers over the course of a working life. The Journal has assembled an impressive number of experts, however, to refute the likelihood of that claim—it turns out no one even knows where it came from—and who raise the question posed at the outset of this piece in the process.

So what exactly is a career? Is it simply a job? One or more jobs with a similar function or skill set? And how does duration factor in?

The Journal points to BLS statistics that show “Three in four workers age 16 to 19, and half between 20 and 24, have been with their current employers for under a year.” While that’s hardly surprising given the ages of the people involved, it also suggests that young people switch “careers” more often. But as the Journal again points out: “early, frequent switches, which can include jumps by students between summer jobs, aren’t what many people would consider career changes in the same way as a midlife switch after a decade or two in the same job.”

So how do we define a “career change?” Speaking from personal experience, I’d say I’m on my second: having spent several years as a teacher, I’m now in a completely different field, relying on a completely different set of skills. Other metrics might put me at five: I’ve had stints working in a bank, pulling pints in a variety of bars, and even working as a sales assistant at a certain giraffe-festooned toy emporium. But none of those felt like permanent choices: each job was entered into with one thing in mind—making enough money to pay my bills until I figured out what it really was I wanted to do and gained the qualifications to do so. Entering teaching, however, felt like I was taking on a profession because it was something I wanted to do, and could envision myself doing for a long time. Ditto with my current profession.

Perhaps that’s the reality of what constitutes a “career”: that each job ultimately comes down to what an individual chooses to make of it, and the meaning they find within it. Just as I found myself in toy retail as a means to an end, so there are others who have entered professions that most would consider solid career choices—law, teaching, finance—with an eye simply on the paycheck, biding time until they can do whatever it is they’re passionate about. But if that’s going to be how we define it, many of us will be lucky to have even one career.

As ever, I’m keen to hear your take on the subject. How do you define a career? And how many do you consider yourself to have had?

Career Resources for Lawyers in Transition

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If you’re looking for work as a lawyer, or hoping to transition into an alternative career, be sure to check out the resources available through your state and local bar associations. Most bar associations have a career portal on their websites, and many have established committees specifically to deal with the recession’s impact on the profession. For example:

Some upcoming events:

–Posted by Vera Djordjevich, Vault’s Law Blog

Post Work Socializing: Workplace Bonding or Boys’ Club?

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Man with beer

AP Photo/Fritz Reiss

Your liver or your career?

A recent FINS article suggested that anyone thinking of trying to make it on Wall Street should drink up: the culture on the Street is apparently heavily dependent on after-hours booze-ups. While that likely won’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the financial industry (or many other industries, for that matter), it does raise the issue of workplace bonding—and the question of where to draw the line between an employee’s “fit” and their performance.

If the former broker cited in the FINS piece is to be believed, he was slow to realize that he was missing out on more than just a hangover by not participating in post-work drinking sessions. As he puts it, he lost the opportunity to forge “emotional connections” with his fellow employees—and specifically with bosses. And while not hitting the bar on a regular basis may strike some as the act of a responsible careerist, the failure to build those bonds may have cost the broker: he lost his job when the financial crisis struck.

The article doesn’t offer details on whether any of broker’s former colleagues who participated in the carousing were also let go, or attempt to discover whether the layoff was related to performance issues in addition to the economic difficulties. But the very fact that one can come away from the piece speculating on that underlines the difficulty of balancing a close-knit work group with a commitment to remaining professional at all times.

Most of us have had a colleague at some point who seems to get by on personal connections rather than the quality of their work. And it’s certainly not difficult to imagine a scenario where the boss’ drinking buddies are treated preferentially over a colleague who may be just as talented—or more so—but lacking when it comes to that all-important emotional connection.

Many of us also have stories of workplaces or departments where all the talent an organization could possibly need is hampered by a poor culture and lack of communication.

The challenge for execs, then, is in striking the balance between the two: encouraging bonding without having it spill over into an institutionalized boys’ club. To that end, a good starting point may well be to set aside some regular office hours for non-work activities for your employees—with a careful focus on ensuring that people socialize beyond their usual work groups.

Of course, it’s difficult to prevent groups of employees from forming cliques and excluding others: people naturally gravitate to those with similar interests. But those at an executive level need to exercise care should they become aware—or even choose to participate—in such groups. Because while close “emotional connections” can produce close-knit, well-functioning teams, they can also lead to blind spots over performance or conduct. And that’s something no business can afford.

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