Vault's Careers Blog

Career advice and job search strategies for the modern careerist

Posts Tagged ‘networking

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

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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

Be a Twitter Genius: Lessons from John McCain

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Senator John McCain

AP Photo/Matt York

Although he came up short on votes in 2008, Arizona Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain isn’t lacking in “Digital IQ” points. As reported by Politico, a joint study of politicians’ “online competence” by George Washington University and NYU ranked McCain as a “Twitter Genius,” scoring significantly higher than fellow senators at utilizing the social tool. This may surprise some, given criticism of the septuagenarian from some quarters as being “out of touch;” yet, as he faces a tough reelection bid, McCain is relying on social networking to preserve his career. In doing so, this “genius” offers a model for professional advancement in 140 characters or less.

Establish yourself quickly. Following his 2008 defeat to Barack Obama (and candidate Obama’s superior command of social networking), McCain wasted little time adopting the format himself. Since 2009, he has tweeted frequently, drawing more than 1.7 million followers. Of course, those weren’t as hard to muster for someone who was already a prominent public figure, but the beauty of Twitter is that anyone can generate a sizeable following if they have something interesting to say. To get noticed, don’t be shy—alert friends and coworkers to your account’s existence, follow them, and branch out to their followers. As you build a network, maintain a steady stream of relevant content that invites discussion, spreads ideas, and shares your skills and accomplishments. Just describing your lunch probably won’t cut it.

Tweet outside the box. Anyone can tweet a few thoughts; it takes a genius to explore the potential of the format. John McCain exemplified this when he and George Stephanopoulos conducted an interview entirely via Twitter—the imposed character limit stripped down the political dialogue, allowing direct questions to be met with unadorned answers transmitted live to the world. With today’s workforce using social applications for job hunting and self-promotion, standing out from the crowd comes down to uniquely interacting with the community. For instance, try reaching out to fellow professionals about their careers and accomplishments, or asking for details of their company’s recruitment process—the discourse can be invaluable, both for the knowledge shared and the initiative displayed.

Attract powerful followers. The axiom “it’s who you know” is as true in politics as it is in business. But for an elected official, the goal is staying relevant. So when John McCain began exchanging tweets with Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi of MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” it was an unexpected twist that won him regard for connecting with a younger generation. For the rest of us, however, being followed by Kanye West might not grant a desired status boost. Instead, aim for the attention of leaders—buddying up with top brass or being retweeted by the likes of Richard Branson or Michael Dell will earn you notice as someone with eye-catching ideas.

It remains uncertain whether the displayed mastery of next-generation campaigning by Senator McCain (and, to be fair, his staff) will pay off in this election cycle. But regardless of one’s own political beliefs, the elder statesman’s resourceful embrace of technology is admirable and inspiring. As workers of all stripes wrestle with new challenges presented by an uncertain economy, it’s imperative to remain open to new venues for networking and seeking opportunity. Senator McCain, once thought to be down for the count, is an example of someone even late in their career finding a way to stay relevant in the information age.

Take Back Your Lunch At Work

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Eating lunch at work

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

What are your lunch plans tomorrow?  If you’re like many workers today, you do not have any.  You’ve decided to skip going out with co-workers and classed it up a bit by enjoying your meal at the newest restaurant in town – “Your Desk.”

Yesterday, AM-NY featured this new trend in a front page story, titled “Step Away From The Desk.”  The article cites recent polls taken by The Energy Project, which show that the average person takes less than 20 minutes each day for lunch away from his or her desk. Why?  According to the article, many people work through lunch in order to save time and avoid working late, but it never actually works out that way.

Psychologist Catherine McCarthy, co-author of “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working,” is quoted by AM-NY as saying that pacing oneself actually sustains higher performance, and no truer word has been spoken.  As a journalist, I have found that even on the most stressful of deadlines, taking a lunch break led to a better work flow than staring at the computer screen for several hours straight.  I will go even one step further and say that, in addition to lunch breaks, smaller breaks are necessary throughout the day in order to avoid the stress of the day and keep someone motivated to continue their work.

Recently, Vault.com’s own career expert Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio was on The Takeaway, a national informational morning show program, to discuss the same topic.  Connie encouraged workers to take their lunch breaks.  In addition to the fact that a break from the office monotony helps one refresh for the rest of the work day, Connie states that getting out and about and meeting people for lunch helps the average worker network.  If you stay at your computer all day at work, chances are you might end up staying at the same job for the rest of your life.  In order to go places, networking is the key to future success and there is no better time to network than at lunch.

Connie also stated that a consistent lunch break won’t sound off any alarms should one suddenly go out for a job interviews in the guise of taking a lunch break.  Supervisors and co-workers are more aware of your actions than one would think.  A sudden change in your behavior will be noticed, suspicions will be raised and rumors may be started as to why you are suddenly taking a lunch break once a week.  There is no need for that.

There is also this simple logic.  Some companies do not pay an employee for a lunch break, so why work for free?  There is no reason why you shouldn’t take some time for yourself and relax a bit before going back to the daily grind.  You earned it.  Don’t cheat yourself out of something you deserve.

And if that is not enough to convince you, AM-NY interviewed Elizabeth Stein, a nutritionist, who explains that eating lunch in the office can actually cause you physical harm.  “Elevated stress levels lead to increased cortisol, which leaves fat accumulation in the body,” she told the paper.  She also noted that eating at your desk leads to overeating, because the distractions from work cause you not to realize that you’re full until you’ve eaten too much.  Do you notice how many trips you take to the snack and soda machine at work?

Go out and grab a bite to eat with friends.  Take a real lunch break.  Your mind, your body, and in the long run, your employers will thank you.

Events Lineup: Vault Reports from Internet Week, New York

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This week promises to be high on event coverage as well as new products (Apple announced their new iPhone) and collaborations (Vault will host featured blog posts from the 2010 Class of Climate Corps, EDF’s sustainability-focused internship program). Below is a quick lineup of all the event coverage you can look forward to.

Today: Conference Board’s webcast on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Future of Integrated Reporting

The panel includes Mike Wallace, the director of the sustainability reporting framework with GRI; Intel’s Director of CSR Strategy and Communications, Suzanne Fallender; Doug Kangos, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers National Professional Services unit; and Rina Levy, a ESG analyst with Bloomberg. The topic: the future of integrated reporting, and how much data is too much? Coming up: Is integrated reporting, i.e., meshing the traditional annual report, which focuses on financial metrics, with the other annual report that discusses CSR initiatives, the future?

Tuesday and Wednesday: World Innovation Forum

Already underway, the forum will host top thinkers and strategists from the corporate world as well as academia. Some of them include Harvard Business School professor and head of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, Michael Porter; Xerox CEO Ursula Burns; Seventh Generation cofounder and CSR advocate, Jeffrey Hollender [See his exclusive interview with Vault: “Take the ‘S’ out of CSR”]; and Executive Editor of GreenBiz.com Joel Makower. Vault’s News and Commentary team will be at the Bloggers’ Hub to bring you live coverage from the forums. Also, stay tuned for their tweets @VaultCareers or follow the hastag #wif10.

Thursday: The PepsiCo and ThinkSocial #Promise Conference

Pepsi's Sustainability Challenge

Part of the lineup for Internet Week in New York, this is a unique conference that promises to pair an unpopular pair: sustainability and social media. Featuring marketing executives from PepsiCo, Timberland, GE, Nokia and MTV, and moderators from Fast Company, TED and GOOD, the full day event will cover a wide variety of topics including Pepsi’s Dream Machine, “Promise” presentations by companies like GE, Timberland and Pepsi, all of which will discuss their observations and lessons of pursuing socially responsible commitments using social media.

To round off the mash of corporate perspective, media outlets, individuals who cover CSR, social media and public interest organizations will weigh in. Vault’s CSR Editor Aman Singh will be at the conference to bring you live coverage In Good Company, as well as on Twitter @VaultCSR.

Friday: Hot and Bothered Breakfast: Why It’s Time to Change The Gender Ratio in New Media & Tech

To regular readers of this space, this will sound familiar. In Good Company recently discussed a NPR report that blamed the lack of women experts on their lack of aggressiveness and narcissistic personality. This panel will discuss “why women are present and accounted for across the new media and tech space— just not at the top, or on panels, or at conferences, or in magazine articles…or, crucially, in VC money.” Culminating Internet Week in New York City, the panel promises to be controversial, if not revelatory. We will be at the panel to bring you live coverage In Good Company, besides tweeting @VaultCSR.

Which Unusual Job Search Tactics Actually Work?

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The news for job seekers has been something of a mixed bag recently: while the economy added almost half a million jobs in the last two months, the encouraging signs have tempted more people back into an active job search, driving the official unemployment rate to 9.9 percent.

Translated into plain English: companies are hiring again, but job seekers are facing more competition than ever before. Faced with that reality, people are using unusual tactics to get noticed. We rated four of those approaches for effectiveness.

Online Advertising

The Tactic: Advertising executive Alec Brownstein bought ads on Google for six of the top names on Madison Avenue. When those people did their customary search of their own name for press hits, the first thing they saw at the top of the page was Brownstein’s ad: a direct pitch for work with a link back to his own website, which features a bio and examples of his work. Here’s a video Brownstein created that summarizes what he did:

Vault’s Verdict: This tactic is nothing short of genius. Brownstein obeyed the number one rule of job search: identify your targets and get noticed by them. As his video states, he created ads for just five executives, resulting in four interviews and two job offers. And all for around six dollars, which is less than most people pay for postage on a traditional resume mailing campaign. To top it all off, Brownstein proved his effectiveness in the world of advertising by selling himself, likely leaving the executive to wonder what he could do with a brand. Once again, nothing short of genius.

Sandwich Boards

The Tactic: Since the onset of the recession, there have been several stories of laid-off workers hitting the street wearing sandwich boards to advertise their availability. The basic premise is always the same: attract attention from by-passers (and, likely, the media) and hand out as many resumes as possible. Examples of people who have used this approach include finance industry veterans Joshua Peresky and toy company executive Paul Nawrocki.

Vault’s Verdict: While this is a great way to get noticed by a lot of people, getting noticed by the right person becomes more about luck than judgment. There are certainly examples of people being successful using this approach, but it tends to take a long time: it took Joshua Peresky a full year to find work, while Nawrocki was pounding the pavement for two years before landing a job through more conventional means—networking at an industry-specific career fair.

Posters in the New York Subway

The Tactic: Subway riders in the Big Apple recently may have come across a poster from an aspiring actor by the name of Fabrice Yahyaoui that gets straight to the point. Featuring ten headshots, Mr. Yahyaoui’s name in huge type and a web address, the poster also bears the following caption: “This man is an actor. He [expletive] wants to act. Cast him.” (Click here if you have a burning need to see the poster.)

Vault’s Verdict: Mr Yahyaoui’s tactic relies on the same premise as the sandwich boards: if enough people see the ad, the right one might be among them. While the ad is certainly eye-catching, it is only the profanity that makes it memorable. That probably won’t hinder Mr. Yahyaoui’s chances of getting cast—and it may even help. However, the tactic may hurt him down the line, especially if acting doesn’t work out and he finds himself pursuing a more conventional career path—one where prospective employers do web searches prior to making an offer.

Social media

The Tactic: Social media doesn’t begin and end with Facebook and Twitter, and the tools aren’t just for teenagers: professionals of all stripes are increasingly coming to adopt some mixture of social media into their job search, using it for networking, to broadcast their skills, and even to seek feedback and peer review. One such example is Ashley Jablow, who is graduating with an MBA from Boston University into one of the worst job markets for graduates in history. Rather than sitting back and bemoaning her fate, however, Ashley has been doing everything she can to put herself in the shop window—including contributing posts to blogs that cover her specialty area: sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

Vault’s Verdict: The way Ms. Jablow is using social media is a testament to its power and utility, and should pay off sooner rather than later. By making herself visible on blogs and websites relevant to her chosen profession, she is demonstrating her expertise to an audience that is already engaged in her field—greatly increasing the chances that someone with the power to make a hiring decision will find her. Rather than adopting the scattergun approach seen in the previous two examples, she is focusing on finding the right contacts, and branding herself as an expert into the process. Both of these things guarantee that she will stand out from the crowd, and give her a much better chance of success.

The Bar is a Beautiful Place (For Finding Work)

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Cocktail bar

AP Photo/Jens Meyer

Here’s a trend we’re hoping catches on: a blogger over at CNBC has discovered perhaps the ultimate resource for job-seekers: an unemployment center located in a bar.

The bad news (at least for most of us): the center at present is focusing solely on helping Irish immigrants to find work—an understandable decision given that it’s located in O’Casey’s Irish Pub on E.41st St in New York, and organized by a group of Irish ex-pats.

We’ve already seen the rise of the pink slip cocktail mixer—particularly on Wall Street—since the onset of the recession. But imagine the possibilities if the phenomenon should happen to catch on and spread to other groups. Think how much easier it would be to network in a venue that’s made for it—and where there’s a ready supply of social lubricant on tap. And think of the added benefits for recruiters—once they’d taken the mandatory training teaching them exactly what they can learn about someone from their drink, of course.

Example: ” The rum drinker is an adventurous type. Think Hunter Thompson. Think Jack Kerouac. Think hot summer day with the sun setting.”

In other words, not the best choice if you’re trying to land a position in, say, accounting compliance.

Another example, from a different article by the same writer as the last: “Beer is the most ambiguous of drinks. It is the everyman drink. So it’s sometimes hard to decode exactly who the beer drinker is.”

One to open up with, perhaps, as you get to know whether your recruiter is looking for the sort of “traditionalist” who drinks gin or is more in the market for a martini-sipping “sophisticate.”

Let us know your thoughts: have you gone/would you go to a bar to look for a job? What signals do people’s drink choices send out? And—perhaps most importantly—are there any definite no-no’s in terms of bar etiquette that one would want to keep in mind when trying to land, or just get some networking done, in a pub setting?

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