Category Archives: Effective Networking

6 Tactics for Working a Job/Career Fair

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I’ve been involved with my share of job and career fairs over my 25+-year career, mostly at conferences that sponsor the event. The candidates who understand how to work a job/career fair tend to stand a better chance of getting followup contact with company representatives who are present.

There are basically two types of job/career fairs: Conference-sponsored events and non-conference-sponsored events. Conference-sponsored events are usually supported by employers with a connection to the conference profession.  Non-conference job/career fairs typically have a variety of employers and industries represented.

Here are six tactics for maximizing your effort at a job/career fair:

  • Plan in advance. Review the list of employers who will be present and which companies will be of interest to your expertise. Follow up by researching the targeted companies to get a feel for the corporate culture and type of work environment. Make a list of “A” employers and “B” employers to visit or schedule interviews.
  • Memorize your pitch (value proposition). Your are the problem-solver and solutions provider they have been seeking, so sell them on the benefits of your expertise and how it will serve the hiring manager/company’s interests going forward. You should know every bulleted item on your résumé and be able to speak at length on each one. Be ready to answer the inevitable question: “So, tell me something about yourself…” Keep any idea of salary and benefits out of the discussion; you aren’t at that point yet.
  • Dress for success. Regardless of the type of position for which you are interviewing, dress like the CEO of “YOU, Inc.” Remember the power of visual first impressions; dress for how you want to be perceived by company representatives. It’s human nature for the eyes to exert so much influence over that instant first impression.
  • Establish your LinkedIn profile before attending the job/career fair. Many company representatives may first check your LinkedIn profile prior to your meeting. It’s a good idea to connect with the company representative on LinkedIn after the job/career fair.
  • Bring plenty of copies of your résumé with you. Be sure you pull out that copy of your résumé from a nice leather portfolio or briefcase, not a plain file folder. Be sure to have a reverse-chronological version if you are changing jobs; have a functional version for changing careers. Make them perfect so you don’t have to apologize for anything when you hand a copy  to the company representative. Bring with you a list of references, but unless you are asked for it, resist the urge to leave it and any other documents with employee representatives. They don’t want to be lugging reams of documents on the plane with them when they return to their home cities.
  • Don’t be a Ralphie. In the hit seasonal comedy, A Christmas Story, young Ralphie brings to class a large fruit basket for his teacher. After the teacher thanks him, he remains at her desk, staring and smiling at her, oblivious to the cue that “the moment” is over. Don’t be a Ralphie. Recognize social cues that your interview time is over (interview times at job/career fairs are often abbreviated due to the number of candidates being interviewed). Don’t treat the meeting as an excuse to linger in the booth area or intrude on free moments between interviews. Close it out by controlling the follow-up. Think of the encounter as the first of several meetings or communications with the individual or the company.

Having access to a variety of employer representatives gathered in one location is sort of like speed dating: you want to show up prepared, be a great listener, and leave a positive first impression that makes the employer representative wanting to know more about you – perhaps even discussing a job with the company.

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

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Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

 

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10 Reasons to Purge Your Professional Networks

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About once a year, I go through a purge of my professional networks. I do it more often with social media networks as “friends” drop off the radar, or some posts from friends/acquaintances are nothing but hyper-political rants (I plead guilty to the occasional rant myself), age-old video retreads, or just offensive content.

But professional networks represent (or should) a different collection of individuals who are trusted contacts where you can exchange ideas, job leads, and other opportunities. Not everyone you know or have known should get in to your networks (a policy I embrace). The quality of your network is tied directly to the quality of the professionals in it.

Here are 10 reasons to purge your professional network on a regular basis.

  1. The decision for who you select for your network (other trusted professionals) should be grounded in your overall network (LinkedIn, Twitter, others) and career strategy.
  2. Your definition of “trusted professional” may change over time as many in your network seek to help others first,  while some seem to always seek help from others first. I receive a number of requests on a daily basis from people I do not know to join my LinkedIn network. If they are members of a client organization which subscribes to my career strategy services, seminars, or consulting, I generally accept the request after reviewing their profile.
  3. Your first-degree connections usually are with people already in your offline network that you’ve known since “pre-network” days. They are the first layer of your multidimensional network.
  4. You can have too many first-degree connections, but you can’t have too many trusted first-degree connections. You aren’t trying to be the Ashton Kutcher of LinkedIn, because that’s not the purpose of professional networks. Trusted first-degree connections are those folks who can facilitate introductions and connections to others in their networks. Remove contacts who may not be able to assist here.
  5. Review your participation in network discussion groups; you want your participation in those groups to reflect your current career and professional interests. When those change, think about dropping those discussion groups that are no longer pertinent and joining others that now are.
  6. Review your endorsements and recommendations to determine if they reflect your current career position; if not, remove them. Purge (or reprioritize) any stale skills in the endorsements as well.
  7. Review any documents, photos, presentations you may have in your chosen professional network to ensure they still reflect your current career position; if not, delete or update them as necessary.
  8. Rethink keywords used in your profile that others may search on and ensure those keywords remain current and germane to your current or future career strategy.
  9. Be sure to purge dead links to blogs, YouTube videos, websites and ensure the active links provide helpful information for others. Be seen as a resource for others first, and others will gladly return the favor.
  10. When receiving requests to join your network, you have several options available: You can accept, reply to a request (to ask for more information from the requestor), ignore a request, or report the request as spam. Ask yourself: “Which response will enhance the quality of my existing network?”

For your professional network to function like a well-oiled “reciprocal opportunity machine,” it will require two important components: your finely tuned expertise (skills, knowledge, experience and accomplishments), and the quality of those unique trusted relationships in that network.

Recommended: The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success and Twitter Power 3.0

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An Overlooked Fast Track to Your Next Job

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Professional Association Job Boards: A Great Bet for Steamlining Your Career Strategy

Besides the Monster.com and TheLadders.com job boards of the world, there’s another type of online job board that I and many of my colleagues have used with great success over the years to find highly qualified job candidates. Many professional associations at the local, state, regional, and national level offer online job boards (or job banks) where employers can post job vacancies and members can post résumés. A smart career strategy includes posting your résumé to these job boards – especially at the local chapter level.

When I worked in the oil exploration industry, I could quickly find highly qualified candidate résumés from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) job bank list serv (way before the Internet was around). Later in my career, it was easy to locate qualified technical and product marketing writers through the local chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) online job bank.

A significant advantage such job boards offer is that some level of candidate prescreening is already addressed, especially at the local level and especially if you are active in the local chapter of that professional association. The probability of a hiring manager being personally familiar with a job candidate is much higher at the local level, especially in tight-knit professional communities. Attending local association meetings is a great way to network with others in your particular field, meet new colleagues, stay in touch with former co-workers, and add to your own technical or professional skills.

Many times I would find more than one qualified individual to bring in for an interview from these local association chapter job banks, and I very likely had worked with many candidates in the past, which made the vetting process quicker and easier since I already had some familiarity with their knowledge, skills, expertise, and likeability.

Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Join a professional association in your field and get involved with the local chapter by attending meetings, volunteer on a committee, write articles for the chapter newsletter, give chapter presentations.
  2. Get involved with the professional association on a larger scale, by writing articles for any peer-reviewed journals it publishes and by presenting at regional or national conferences.
  3. Ensure that the association’s job bank (especially the local branch) has your most recent achievement-focused résumé.

Don’t overlook the job banks in local professional associations; there’s less competition than with the larger generic boards mentioned previously and your name recognition factor will be much higher with hiring managers looking qualified candidates.

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4 Websites for Minimizing Your Online Footprint

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  • HaveBeenPwned.com. Enter your email addresses and usernames, and the site will tell you if any of your personal information has been exposed by hackers. It also provides tips on how to fix the problem.
  • MailDrop.cc lets you create an email address that disappears when you’re done with it–just 24 hours after it’s last used. Great for signing up for one-time deals or downloads.
  • JustDeleteMe.me links directly to the cancellation pages of an “almost endless” list of social media sites, retailers, and other businesses that might have data on you.
  • Privnote lets you send electronic messages to another person without creating a data trail. The recipient is sent a URL where the message can be read, then both the message and URL are removed.

(Source: The Week Magazine, October 2, 2015)

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What does effective networking look like?

Karl Reuning responded to my request for career topics you’d like to see me address with this: “What does effective networking look like?”

Here’s my take (from a former hiring manager’s perspective) on that question. I think you start with taking a look at how people are hired; which avenues into a company are the most successful for candidates, and then take a strategic approach to how and with whom you develop your professional networks. You want in with Company ABC? Then

  • Find folks on LinkedIn who work for Company ABC and connect with them on a professional level.
  • Exchange ideas, generate topics of discussion that demonstrate your expertise in subjects that may be important to your industry or profession.
  • Connect with people in a business or trade association for your industry or profession; attend local chapter meetings, conferences, give a presentation, write an article or paper for a peer-reviewed journal: establish yourself as an expert.
  • Be the first person to help someone else in your growing network with a referral or job lead; be seen as a resource first.

There are three ways by which you enter the hiring process: as an external candidate, as a referral candidate, or as an internal candidate. In my experience, internal candidates generally enjoy the biggest advantage, followed closely by referral candidates, and then external candidates a distant third. Somewhere between 33 and 67 percent of jobs found and filled are through personal referrals. Through personal referrals, much of the uncertainty in the hiring process is reduced or eliminated altogether from the equation, which leads to a higher probability of getting a job offer (and more quickly). It is also a low-cost recruitment tool. You simply must be strategic in designing and building your professional networks to increase the probably of being referred for an open position.

The chart below is from a report at http://www.silkroad.com listing the top 10 external sources for interviews and hires.

Top 10 External Sources for Interviews and Hires (Source: Indeed.com)

Top 10 External Sources for Interviews and Hires

A 2012 comprehensive study (222,000 job postings, 9.3 million applications, 147,440 interviews, and 94,155 hires) from SilkRoad (www.silkroad.com) provides some interesting conclusions about the effectiveness of recruiting:

  • External (specific job search engines, job boards, print advertising, job fairs) and internal (referrals, inside hires, walk-ins, company career sites) sources result in about the same number of interviews, although internal sources produce almost twice the number of hires.
  • Company career sites are the greatest online recruitment source based on interviews and hires.
  • Referrals remain the strongest base for internal recruitment marketing, followed by inside hires and company career sites.
  • Job search engines are singularly far more effective than job boards at returning both interviews and hires.

In a landmark study on social networks (with real people, not Facebook “friends”) and hiring conducted by Stanford University in 1996, researchers concluded the following:

  • Social networks favorably influence the composition of the pool of job candidates
  • Applicants referred by current employees are more likely to be interviewed and offered jobs than external non-referral candidates
  • Network referrals are advantaged at both the interview and job offer stages compared to external non-referral applicants

The researchers also determined why referral candidates had such an advantage over non-referral candidates:

  • During labor shortages, using referrals is a quick and inexpensive method for generating a pool of applicants (fewer applicants for every open position)
  • The “benefit of the doubt” effect that creates a tendency for recruiters to give referral candidates the benefit of the doubt during screening, which encourages employees to continue to recommend referrals, thereby creating a process closed to non-referral candidates
  • Social network hiring tends to produce better job description-worker matches than other types of recruitment

Another reason employee referrals are the preferred entry method to  jobs is because the average length of employment is greater with referrals than the other two methods for entering the hiring process, as the following chart reveals.

(Source: Indeed.com)

Good question, Karl…I hope that helps, and go Red Sox!

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