Tuesday, December 16, 2014

So, have you found a job yet?

Author:  Barbara Perone
              Writer | Editor | Reporter | Technical Writer | Proofreader

If you have been unemployed for a while, you know how this question can make you cringe whether you hear it from family, friends, acquaintances, or former co-workers.

To me, that question seems equally as insensitive as asking:

  • When are you getting married?
  • When are you going to have children?
  • Are you dating anyone now that your divorce is final?
  • Now that your pet is gone, are you going replace it?

People may ask these questions out of true concern, but they just don’t understand that they can really hurt, particularly the one about finding a new job. Doesn’t it make sense that if someone found a job he or she would tell you right away? But those with jobs just don’t seem to get it and persist upon asking this question every time they see you. 

My advice – please don’t ask an unemployed person that question, it’s tactless. Instead, ask something non-committal, like, “How are you doing?” 

If someone does ask you the did-you-find-a-job-yet question, how should you respond? One woman came up with a brilliant idea. She designed several T-shirts with the sayings “No, I haven’t found a job yet” on the front, and, “When I find one, I’ll let you know” on the back. 

Some say you should tell the person who asks this question “I’m working on it,” but don’t provide any additional details. Others say you should ask the person a question, such as, “Why do you want to know?” Still others say the best response is to remain silent and change the subject.

If you really want to ask an unemployed professional a question, try this one “Is there anything I can I do to help you find a job in your field?” Believe me, the person will really appreciate being asked that question.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Are Your Accomplishments Legendary?

Author:  Ed Han
              Wordsmith, Recruiter, LinkedIn Advocate, JobSeeker Ally
              Translating business objectives into strategies & tactics

In Greek mythology, Hercules was the son of the Greek god and chronic philanderer Zeus and Alcmene, a mortal woman. More than mildly miffed by this dalliance, the goddess Hera sent serpents to kill Hercules when he was only an infant. Even from his earliest days, Hercules clearly demonstrated that he was destined for great things.

Hercules is best known to modern audiences for his epic Labors, a series of tasks he was assigned as penance for a terrible crime—and again, thanks in part Hera. They have come down to us through legend from slaying the Nemean lion to capturing Cerberus, the three-headed guardian to the underworld. Hercules went on to join the Argonauts, the Greek mythology version of an All-Star game and finished by being elevated to godhood.

It may sometimes be tempting to view oneself as a latter-day Hercules, heroically striving against the mighty challenges an antagonistic figure sets in our way. But the real applicability is in his Labors—specifically, as relates to your résumé.

Imagine what a résumé for Hercules might resemble. What might his professional experience look like?

Hero at Large
Righter of wrongs whose boundless energy brings justice, thrills and spills across Greece. Author of heroic feats of strength poets will recount for millennia. Creator of effective solutions for proverbially thorny issues.

  • Overcame Nemean lion through deployment of legendary strength in service to intelligent tactics, ending the lion’s threat to 500+ local residents.
  • Defeated the Lernaean hydra and its many, re-growing heads with the surgical application of medical best practices, resulting in acquiring a unique tactical asset.
  • Won passage to and from the underworld to capture and subdue the three-headed dog Cerberus, the underworld’s guardian, producing the return of Athenian hero and king Theseus.

Examine the accomplishments, each drawn from one of the legendary Labors of Hercules. Although no metrics are included for any but the first, note that the form of each is in the PAR (Problem, Action, Result) behavioral interview question form. In each case, the chief challenge or problem for each task is listed at the beginning followed by the specific action undertaken and closes with the result. And the result is that Hercules looks heroic

Do the accomplishments on your résumé do the same for you? Shouldn’t they?

At the end of the day, making your accomplishments the stuff of legend will yield a more powerful résumé that will help you stay focused on the big picture: landing your next opportunity'

Friday, November 14, 2014

How to Remove Connections From Your LinkedIn Profile

Author:  Barbara Perone
              Writer | Editor | Reporter | Technical Writer | Proofreader

Okay, those professionals who are looking for their next permanent gig all know that one of the main goals of having a LinkedIn profile is to garner as many connections as possible. If you make it over 500, you’re golden and, supposedly, more recruiters/companies will view your profile.

Whether you make it to 500+ or not, there are times when you have a connection, or group of connections, that just plain annoy you. Well, there is a way to remove any bothersome person, or people, from your profile without them even knowing about it.

To remove one or more connections from your profile just follow the six steps below.
  1. If you are not already signed in to LinkedIn, go to the sign in page and log in using your email address and the password associated with your account.
  2. At the top of the Homepage, click on the "Connections" menu. All of your network contacts/connections will appear with little check boxes to the left of their photo/profiles.
  3. Search and/or scroll to the contacts you want to remove. Click the little check box to the left of each contact’s photo you wish to remove.
  4. Remove the contacts:
    • To remove 1 single contact, click on the "More" drop down menu underneath the contact’s name.
    • If you checked multiple contacts to delete, click on the "More" drop down menu located to the right of "Select All" above the 1st displayed contact.
  5. Select "Remove connection" from the "More" drop down menu.

Repeat Steps 2 through 5 for each connection you want to remove.
Note: It's not possible to remove a connection from a mobile device.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Find Your Right Match With VolunteerConnect

Author: Anne-Marie Hess
            Senior marketing, communications, and investor relations executive

Find Your Right Match With VolunteerConnect

Being in transition can be more than looking for your next professional gig. It is an opportunity for personal and professional development – and the perfect time to try something new – like skills-based volunteering.

Everyone Wins With Skills-Based Volunteering

Skills-based volunteerism is a service that capitalizes on personal talents, core business skills, work experience, or education. Sharing your skills..... It can help you keep your professional skills finely honed and have a meaningful impact on your community. You can leverage your education and experience in new ways, continue to develop professionally, meet new people in the community, and expand your network. And if you have ever thought of working in a non-profit organization, here is a chance to explore the option.

With declining contributions and grants from government, corporations, and individuals, non-profits face increasing pressure to meet the demand for community services. Under these challenging conditions, many nonprofits are looking to skills-based volunteers to help them achieve their missions. Services provided by these volunteers can immediately provide cost savings and revenue generating programs to local non-profits, allowing them to direct more of their resources into community programs for their constituents.

VolunteerConnect of Princeton, NJ facilitates the relationships between skills-based volunteers and the non-profit organizations in Central New Jersey that desperately need professional services such as communications, finance, marketing, strategic planning, graphic design, program development, research, and digital/social media. It is a matching service of sorts – pairing the right volunteer and skills to the needs of non-profits.

How it Works

VolunteerConnect works with local non-profits to define an appropriate project with most projects only requiring about 25 hours of the volunteer’s time. Based on the project specifications, VolunteerConnect will review the credentials of its skills-based volunteers, interview candidates and match them to a project. The non-profit then interviews the candidate for the project to ensure a good match of skills and chemistry. Once selected, the volunteer will work directly with the non-profit to complete the project.

The Rewards of the Right Match

The professional rewards of skills-based volunteering are substantial: the chance to do what you love and expand your skills into a new domain. You can offer your fresh perspectives and innovations, demonstrate your adaptability, and enjoy the collaboration and teamwork aspects of a VolunteerConnect project.

But the big pay-off is seeing the value of your efforts translate into vital services for the children and families in your community. This is the best reward yet – one that can transform your transition into an amazingly positive and valuable experience.

About VolunteerConnect

VolunteerConnect is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in Central New Jersey. Its mission is to expand the reach, impact and capacity of community organizations through effective volunteerism, thereby enriching the lives of Central New Jersey residents.

They focus their efforts on helping local nonprofits identify and define projects that draw on specific professional skills and recruit skilled volunteers to assist; providing resources, networking opportunities and workshops to help non-profit leaders capitalize on the strength of volunteers and improve organizational capacity; partnering with area organizations to help develop more effective non-profit boards and provide a more rewarding experience for board members; and serving as the leader in raising awareness about the value of volunteerism and inspiring residents to make an impact in the community.

VolunteerConnect works with a diverse group of organizations with their efforts focused primarily in the following areas:
  • Anti-poverty, anti-hunger initiatives
  • Community arts programs
  • Community development and enrichment
  • Crisis intervention
  • Education
  • Family support
  • Healthcare and health education
  • Justice and diversity
  • Sustainable communities
  • Youth development

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Social Media & Your Job Search: 3 Reasons You Need It—Now!

Author:  Ed Han
              Wordsmith, Recruiter, LinkedIn Advocate, JobSeeker Ally
              Translating business objectives into strategies & tactics

I’ve been a fan of social media in one form or another since October 27, 2007. That was when I first joined LinkedIn and it took me until April 2009 to join Twitter. It took almost a year after that to join Facebook—after I joined Google+, in fact.

We talk about social media at every meeting but I know I’ve seen more than a few blank stares when it’s discussed. So I know that for a lot of people who are reading this, social media consists of Facebook updates. Stop thinking that way, because social media is a whole lot more than merely FB.

Here are 3 reasons why you should be using social media right now as part of your job search.

It’s just networking
I don’t know why, but sometimes people get this slightly apprehensive, glazed-over look when the subjects of networking or social media crop up. So let’s simplify things.

Networking is about being a decent human being and having a conversation. You’ve basically been doing this all of your life: talking with people. Now, some people are shy—but take a look at our LinkedIn group for conversations starters—and closers.

Let me demystify “social media” for you.

It’s just people having conversations online. The absolute worst thing that happens when you talk with someone on social media is something you can ignore. It’s even safer than talking to someone in real life.

So if you’re one of those folks who have a hang up about this: stop. It’s like dancing in a club: nobody’s looking at you.

And networking is how people get hired
As a recruiter, I can tell you with 100% certainty that every single employer on the planet prefers to talk with candidates that are referrals. It’s really simple: they’ve been vetted. When you refer someone as a candidate, you’re putting your professional reputation on the line with that candidate.

In fact, that’s how I got my last position. I’d gotten to know someone via Twitter. Back in November 2012, I received a call from her asking if I knew anyone interested in a recruiting role. She briefly described it and I told her I was really interested. A few weeks later, I started. Ever since the first day I knew it was the position I wished I had been doing from the start, and am still slightly resentful that I found it this late in life.

So be a referral
The odds are stacked against job seekers. On average, there are 250 candidates for every position out there. Of those, 25% are considered by the hiring party qualified. Rounding down, there are on average 62 qualified candidates who are phone screened. For face to face interviews you aren’t talking more than a half dozen prospects, tops. So there’s a 90% failure rate from the phone screen. And do you know who can often pass a phone screen more often than not? A candidate referred by an employee can, that’s who.

Social media sites work best when more people are more connected. That’s why every social media site you care about makes it as easy as possible to make connections with other users. LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest—all of them. This becomes particularly useful when you are targeting specific employers: then, LinkedIn & Facebook become a list of people with whom you might want to connect.

Now, remember that people generally only connect with people when they see a clear upside. So give them one. Connect with people on LinkedIn when you have a former employer, school or group in common: the reason there is obvious.

In closing
If you have any questions, ask!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Passive job candidates are in the “catbird seat”

Author:  Barbara Perone
              Writer | Editor | Reporter | Technical Writer | Proofreader

Sounds like a misnomer, but, translated, a passive job candidate is actually a person who has a job and is not actively seeking employment – and these are precisely the kinds of individuals employers want to hire nowadays.

Oddly enough, the very people who really need a job – the unemployed – are the ones recruiters aren’t exactly clamoring to interview, according to an article by Marc Miller on www.careerpivot.com.

In August 2000, WetFeet.com conducted a survey of over 3,000 professionals who were gainfully employed. The survey found a third of workers were open to the idea of obtaining a new job, even though they seemed satisfied in their present careers.

These are the people you’re competing with today. So, if you want future employers to find you, first, make sure you remove any inappropriate comments or photos of yourself from all of your social networking sites. That picture of you giving the five-finger salute to a sleeping grandmother at your friend’s July 4th barbecue may have seemed hilarious at the time, but what message does it send to a company that may want to hire you?

Moreover, don’t be surprised if before they even talk to you recruiters have already talked to your bosses and co-workers, past, and present, to find out something about you, the article states. They’re trying to make sure they get the best bang for their buck. They want a near perfect employee, one with excellent work habits, great interpersonal skills all rolled into one happy, hardworking human being whose salary won’t break the company coffers.

Take care, though, even if you are a passive job candidate here’s a news flash for you – longevity is no longer in vogue. So, if you’re one of those people who have been doing the same job the same way for years chances are recruiters won’t be overly interested in you either, the article states. On the other hand, if you keep learning new skills, on or off the job, that might be a way to get a recruiter’s attention.

So, if you’ve already got a job and you’re constantly keeping your skills sharps, you’re in the “catbird seat” when it comes to finding a new position.

Writer’s Note: The phrase “the catbird seat” first appeared in print in a 1942 humorous short story, entitled “The Catbird Seat,” written by James Thurber. In the story, a character, named Mrs. Barrows, often uses this phrase, which means “being in an enviable position” or “having the upper hand” or “having a great advantage over others.”

5 Key Traits Recruiters look for in a Passive candidate by Marc Miller, www.careerpivot.com/2014/5-key-traits-recruiters-look-passive-candidates/

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Less is More - Really

Author:  Belinda G. Silver
              Business Manager and Educator

Being unemployed forces you to step back and take a long look at your life: your finances, your possessions, your relationships, and more. It also gives you ample time to do so, such as at two in the morning, when everyone else in the house is sleeping, except you. That was how I stumbled across a new movement that’s been sweeping the globe, called “minimalism.” Minimalism means making a conscious effort to reduce the number of possessions you own in order to gain more control of your life. The premise is, the fewer material things you have in your house and the fewer commitments you make with your time, the more you will begin to experience life more freely – hence the expression Less is More.

I, for one, am a typical American. I’ve spent a large part of my adult life working long hours, spending my hard-earned money on various items, and then working even longer hours to care for and maintain those items, I’ve accumulated over the years. So when I learned about minimalism, I decided to give it a shot, and lo and behold, those who tout it were right. As I began to see empty spaces in my house, I found that I no longer felt as chained down to the house as I had previously and it took less time to clean on a weekly basis. That meant, I could spend more time with my family.

This led me to wondering whether I could apply the same concept to my job search. So one day, I pulled out the tracking sheets that I have received in my first Job Search Basics workshop and began to analyze how much time I was spending on various activities. My findings surprised me, because, as chair of the Training Committee, I was supposed to “know better.” This is what I discovered about myself:

Resumes: I found that I had been spending an inordinate amount of time tweaking my resume. I was spending so much time adjusting it that I often missed application deadlines. I’ve since learned that my resume does not have to be perfect. It’s simply a tool for getting the interview. In addition, some fellow PSG members have told me they spent their early days, in transition, sending out resumes by the dozen, only to discover later that they were spending so much time on that process that they failed to use other job search strategies, such as networking, knocking on doors, and cold calling.

Job boards: Have your friends confided in you that they spend anywhere from two to six hours a day searching job boards? According to Richard N. Boles, author of What Color is Your Parachute?, looking for employers’ job postings are, “one of the five worst ways to look for a job.” A better use of your time would be to check postings maybe once or twice a week and then take time to physically follow up on some of those job leads. This will give you time to go out and actually visit the job sites. You might get an opportunity to speak with people who are currently working and who could give you a better idea of what’s actually available.

Surfing the Web: I have a confession to make. I always prided myself on the fact that I was great at multitasking and would sometimes have up to 10 windows open in my Web browser at the same time. However, to my surprise, that habit cost me hours of time that I could have used in other areas of my job search. The same is true of instant messaging. I had to force myself to turn it off when I was in active job search mode. I found it to be very distracting because I was constantly checking my e-mail or saying “hi” to friends who happen to be online, the same time I was.

Television: I told everyone “I only watch one or two programs a week,” which was true; however, what I usually neglected to mention was that I might watch the same program two or three times a week. That might not sound like a lot, but if a program is an hour long and you are watching it several times a week, those hours really add up. Nowadays, I am more aware of the amount of time I actually spend in front of the television. This has freed up several hours that I now use to work on other things.

Focus: My first three months in transition left me feeling completely overwhelmed. I had no idea how to organize my time as I went from project to project without a clear-cut road map. As time went on, I realized I had to prioritize my projects. Therefore, rather than work on them all at the same time, I learned to work steadily on one or two. Then as I completed one, I would move on to the next one. This simple act helped me accomplish more and left me feeling fulfilled, rather than stressed.

Maybe it’s time for you to look at your life and schedule. You might agree with me that sometimes “less is more.” Also, please remember that Mercer County PSG offers a phenomenal training program. Even if you’ve attended the job-training workshops in the past, take some time to revisit them. Although the basic information provided in the handouts is the same, the lessons learned change each time you attend a meeting, due to your interactions with other members. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this issue!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Top Ten (plus 2) List for the Newly Unemployed

Author:  Richard F. Ober, Jr.
             General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, Isles, Inc.,
             Former Co-Facilitator, Trinity Jobseekers

There are many books about how to organize your job search, prepare your resume, interview effectively, etc.; fewer with practical tips about how to live while you’re ‘in transition.’ Here are some I’ve learned (a) from being in transition for 37 months, (b) as a co-facilitator of Trinity Jobseekers, and (c) from friends and counselors.

1. Run, don't walk, away from any 'executive career management' company that tries to pressure you into putting down $3,000-$10,000 up front because 'they have access to the secret job market,' etc. Nobody I know has been happy with any of these operations; several have sued. I regard them as predators on the unfortunate. There are many career coaches that work on an hourly basis.

2. Apply promptly for unemployment. Remember, you only get unemployment if the employer terminated you, constructively or directly. In New Jersey, if you have any interest in additional state-paid education, apply immediately. If you do, your 26 weeks of unemployment may be extended; if you wait until later, it won't. Applying on the internet: https://wnjpin.state.nj.us/uiclaim/home_full.html.

3. Continue your health insurance. I’m not an expert on whether COBRA or one of the new insurance exchange policies under ObamaCare is the better deal. Find an expert.

4. Join a Professional Service Group. PSGs are community programs providing networking opportunities, training workshops and enrichment seminars. Search PSGNJ on the web.

5. Communicate honestly about your unemployment status to family and friends. This will help you manage their expectations about what you can do, how much you can spend etc. during this time. If you communicate up front, it will minimize potential negative feelings (disappointment, embarrassment) that you may face later on when you have to say no, or we can't. Also, they can help you network.

6. Live like you are unemployed. Cut back on all discretionary spending immediately. Don't put it off. You don't know how long it will take to land the right job. Review every monthly bill and consider cancelling the service. Shop for non-perishables at Costco and 99 cent-type stores. Pay off credit card debt and live on debit cards. If you have a home equity credit line, draw the full amount down and bank it for emergencies. Sell your ‘extra’ stuff on E-Bay. If debt payments are going to be a problem contact the lenders ASAP rather than missing payments. Watch out for ‘non-profit’ debt counseling agencies that advertise heavily on TV and radio; they are usually fronts for for-profit operations and many are under investigation by the IRS. See http://www.nfcc.org/ for your local legitimate credit counseling agency. Make sure that the organization is on the approved Justice Department list http://www.usdoj.gov/ust/eo/bapcpa/ccde/cc_approved.htm, or the HUD list http://www.state.nj.us/dca/hmfa/consu/owners/revers/hudappage.html

7. Set up a professional search office and plan. A job search is a full-time job. Promptly create a location for your search with lack of distractions, computer, printer, high-speed internet, telephone (consider a dedicated line for job search), fax, answering machine (consider telephone company voice mail service as an alternative that can be easily checked remotely). If you don't have outplacement or a good location at home, or can’t afford some of these items, consider a Professional Service Group (see #4 above), or even your local library. Reference librarians are a great resource for the unemployed. Make sure you have a professional-sounding email address and voice mail message. Free email is available from Yahoo and Hotmail and often from your college, among others. Get those interview outfits out of the closet and make sure they fit and look good. Set up a contact and application management system and adhere to it. Have a written marketing plan with goals that are within your control (‘10 calls per day’, not ‘2 interviews next week’).

8. Business Cards. Get professional looking business cards ASAP. You can get them from printers, office supply stores, or for a small charge from VistaPrint www.vistaprint.com. Put three or four key bullets, a mini-resume, about yourself on the back - to help people who come away from a networking session with many business cards remember who you are and what your skills are.

9. Keep up your morale. Make time for (free or inexpensive) fun, as a reward for completing job search plan goals. Don't pick up any bad habits. It is easy to over eat, drink and just not take care of yourself. Stay healthy and fit both in mind and body. Make time to exercise. Get yourself in the best shape of your life. Volunteer for charitable activities, to help others, which will provide networking opportunities as well as improve your morale. If you are depressed, get professional counseling. Medication may be advisable. Put together a Job Search Work Team of three-to-eight people who meet regularly to provide support, share ideas, and hold each other accountable. Your spouse is not the person to bear all of your emotions in this situation. Affirm yourself, but get over yourself. Talking out loud to yourself in the bathroom mirror is not a symptom of going crazy; it’s a positive mental exercise. Every day is “game day.” Psych yourself up. You, better than anyone else, know your exceptional strengths and attributes and you can affirm them to yourself. Try it for a week and see if it doesn’t adjust your attitude. At the same time, nobody – nobody – finds you as interesting as you do. Do not carry on about your problems or how great you are to anyone else.

10. Develop A, B and C Plans. Develop several alternative plans to re-employment at the outset. Execute them in an order so that one doesn't eliminate trying others subsequently. Write them down and review them regularly. EX: If you don’t (A) find another job in a big company, you’ll (B) look at small local companies, (C) start or buy your own business, or (D) become a consultant or substitute teacher. Consulting or temporary employment while you’re looking gets you in the door at potential employers and expands your network while keeping income coming in.

11. Network. Network with employed people as well as other unemployed. Networking should start with how you can help the other person. Have a list of target companies that people can help you connect with. Consider preparing a one-page, one-side networking sheet that has contact information and a very brief professional profile and lists potential job titles, target companies, geographic and any other limitations, and academic credentials. Become active in your industry professional organizations. Attend meetings, conventions, seminars in your job field. Many organizations will offer free or reduced fees to the unemployed. It never hurts to ask. Accentuate the positive in your networking relationships. Attitudes are infectious.

12. Maintain connections at your former employer. Don't burn your bridges. If permitted, bring home a company phone book, contact information and non-confidential samples of your work, but know what agreements about confidentiality, non-competes, etc. you've signed and don't violate them (but you can ask for waivers). If there have been mass layoffs, set up a group web site so those laid off can keep in touch.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to Send an Email to Someone When you do not Know their Email Address

Author: David Schuchman
              Information Technology Manager of Projects and Teams
Sometimes you need to send an email to someone, but you may not know their exact professional email address. You may need to contact that person to follow up after a business discussion, to thank them for an interview, or even to establish a new relationship. It can be a challenge to send an email to someone when you do not know his/her exact professional email address. Here are some tips for overcoming this challenge.

Ask Others
The first thing to do is to contact people that have a relationship with the person to which you want to send the email. That could be former and current coworkers of the person you would like to contact. Ask those people for the exact email address. If they do not know, ask if they know the format that the organization uses for their employee’s email.

Search the Web & Social Media
The next thing to do is to search the web for the person using a search engine. Google and Bing are good search engines to use for finding someone. In addition, search common social media sites, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, to see if the recipient has openly posted an email address. You can also search for someone via a fee-based search sites like Spokeo (http://www.spokeo.com). Also, search for other people that may work with that person to see if you can find their email addresses. If so, then you will uncover the format of the email address for the person you are actually looking for.

Figure it Out
If you still cannot find the person’s email address, you will likely know the most common information about the person, which you can apply to the email address. For example, you will likely know their name and company. With that, you have what you need to get started.

Search the internet for the company where the recipient works. That will enable you to learn the “domain” portion (e.g. “@companyname.com”) of the email address. The company URL (e.g.“http://www.companyname.com“) will often equate to the email “domain” portion. If you cannot determine the exact company name, but find variations, then jot those down. Also, include the best known ISPs that offer email (Google, Yahoo, etc.). The maximum length of the “domain” part is 255 characters.

Once you know the domain, use a website like https://www.email-format.com/ to determine the email address format(s) used at the company. Some companies have more than one email address format. In these websites, enter the company’s domain in a search field. That will return the email address format(s) used at the company.

Create a List of Possibilities
If you still do not know the email address format, then mix and match all of the “local” and “domain” part words you found and created into a group of email addresses. This group can be as large or small as you would like. If you were searching for “Mary Smith” who works for the “Very Big” company, you may create email a list of email addresses that look like this:

The last step is to pick one email address from the group you created. Pick anyone, it does not matter. The one you pick is the email address you will place in the “TO:” field of your email message. Then, copy all of the other email addresses from your group to the “BCC:” (Blind Carbon Copy) field. The result of doing this will be that the recipient will likely receive the email, but only see the one email address in the “TO:” field. The recipient never sees the “BCC” field. So s/he will never know you placed many more email addresses in the “BCC:” field. The secondary benefit is that you will likely receive “undeliverable” email messages for all of the invalid email address. The email address for the one you did not receive an “undeliverable” email message is the actual email address. Voilà!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summer Fun! Tweet! Tweet!

Author:  Richard Pawlak (@esterrick on Twitter)
               Journalist and public relations professional, and
               volunteers as chair of PSG’s Public Relations Committee

Summer is here. Imagine yourself relaxing poolside in some summery place, enjoying a tall, cold glass of something delicious, while your vigorous job search continues on your nearby laptop, smartphone, or iPad. Just a summer fantasy? Not at all. 

Even though networking through social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn has become an important part of everyone’s career strategy, don’t leave the wildly popular Twitter out of your job search arsenal. With just a little legwork to set up some Twitter add-ons and companion services, you can propel your job-hunting efforts to the next level and still enjoy the sun, the sand, the surf, and some summertime sanity along with your nicely developing tan. 

If you’re not already using Twitter, it’s pretty easy to install on your computer, iPhone, iPad, Android, or BlackBerry mobile device. Then the job hunt fun begins when you check out TweetMyJOBS.com, a companion web site that harnesses the vast reach of Twitter to search jobs for you. There you can create multiple search channels by job type and location, and you can schedule daily, weekly, or monthly e-mail alerts. TweetMyJOBS.com’s search engines are pretty robust, too, and seem to be able to uncover job opportunities that aren’t posted on the more popular job search sites such as Monster, Dice, and CareerBuilder.

Other helpful Twitter companions are two dashboard programs that display your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media program activity all on one handy screen for at-a-glance convenience. TweetDeck.com and HootSuite.com are Web sites worth visiting to download and install one of those dashboard programs on your computer and mobile device. Such dashboard programs really showcase the amazing aggregate power of social media in the 21st century.

On TweetDeck, for example, you can create a column to search for particular jobs or job titles by using a hash tag (#) as your guide. By selecting the Create a Column tab on the screen, you can type “#Project Manager Jobs” and create a column that will search the Internet around the clock for that job title. Varying the job title to, say, “#Program Manager Jobs” can produce an entirely new set of search results in a separate column on TweetDeck. Depending on how you’ve branded yourself on your résumé, you could conceivably create several more column searches on TweetDeck, thereby unearthing jobs you may never have found elsewhere. If you’re open to relocation across the U.S. and overseas, you can watch the job search results from across the country and around the world accumulate in your TweetDeck search columns in real time, 24 hours a day. It can be an eye-opening—and entertaining—experience!

Becoming active on Twitter also has other benefits. You may find it fascinating to follow pro athletes, politicians, radio/TV talk show hosts (Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien and Craig Ferguson are consistently funny and David Letterman has just begun some sort of hashtag promotion on his show), restaurants, celebrities, and bloggers (our own alumnus Ed Han posts valuable information every day). Virtually every day, companies open Twitter accounts to promote their brands, products, and events; and they can give you valuable insight into their company cultures and work environments as well as their current career opportunities.

More importantly, having a personal or professional Twitter account also gives you the chance to promote yourself and your own job search on several levels. Crafting your personal brand statement into Twitter’s 140-character limit can help you self-edit and even redefine your own job search goals.

Alison Doyle (@AlisonDoyle on Twitter), writing for About.com, got the following Twitter job-hunting tips straight from Gary Zukowski, CEO and founder of TweetMyJOBS.com:
• Put your elevator pitch in your bio.
• Use a professional avatar.
• Have a custom background that gives more detail about your qualifications.
• Have a link to your online résumé. Tools like VisualCV can help.
Follow industry experts in your industry on Twitter. Tools like Twellow.com can help.
Establish yourself as an expert in your industry. Use your status updates to tweet about industry topics, offer tips, and provide advice.
• You don’t have to create all of the content. You just need to be viewed as someone in the know.
• Get targeted job tweets sent to your Twitter feed or mobile phone.
Be consistent on image throughout all of your online platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

Tweeting about your transition might actually help you vent some frustration and reduce unnecessary stress in your life (but do avoid angry rants and personal attacks). Like other types of networking, becoming a part of a group of people who share a common experience, similar to what we enjoy as members of PSG, can offer encouragement, guidance, tips, and, often, much-needed good humor during a difficult time in life. Twitter is a tremendous resource for all of those networking benefits.

And if that can help you enjoy even a few more sunny days with family and friends this summer, or dig your toes a little deeper into that Long Beach Island sand, or even relax poolside for a few extra minutes, it’s time for you to start tweeting!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Can you get a slice of the ‘Biggest transference of wealth in US business history’?

Author: Gery Juleff
             Manager, North American Power

Warren Buffet has called the deregulation of the retail energy sector the ‘biggest transference of wealth in US business history.'  Legendary CEO Jack Welch in a recent CNBC interview described the deregulation of energy as ‘the internet in 1990' and went on to say that, “energy is the lifeblood of an economy.”

But how can you, assuming you don’t have significant assets to invest, benefit?

A number of companies have entered the market using a direct sales model – otherwise known as a home-based business or, in some cases, multi-level marketing. I was initially wary – after all, there have been many stories about people losing money through this model. But I explored further as the model did fit my personal circumstances – for family reasons I wanted to work part-time and flexibly.

After all, Direct Sales is simply a way to move a product or service directly to a consumer instead of through a retail location. This is typically achieved through an independent distributor or representative sales force – and companies reward these people rather than pay advertisers, marketing departments, etc. Over 15 million people are involved in direct selling in the United States. Most are women, although nearly a third are men or two-person teams such as couples. Direct Sales in the United States grew to $32 billion in 2012, up from $29 billion in 2010.

I realized that, in theory, the convergence of deregulation, direct sales, and energy had created a tremendous opportunity for individuals if they could find the right vehicle. In addition, this was a product that everybody bought anyway, and there was no need to stock any product. This convergence allows any individual, with little or no experience, to build a business that would generate long-term income on the customers they help to save money through energy deregulation.

I then looked at a number of the main companies. All had their plusses and I have given links to the main ones below. But I had a couple of key criteria which were important to me. I felt that the best way to build a really substantial income would be through enabling others to do the same – build a network. But I was not comfortable with a model which depended on persuading others to pay an enrollment fee – I had done some research and realized that the vast majority of those who did this in the MLM model lost their investments. And I wanted to work with a company that had a commitment to renewable energy, not just because I felt that this was important but also because any company that had this focus would be more inclined to be forward-looking and a good long term bet.

In the end, I went with North American Power. It has a focus on renewable energy and a no-investment, no risk business model. Forbes had made it one of America’s Most Promising Companies and it had won numerous American Business Awards. I then met the co-founder and CEO, Kerry Breitbart, and was blown away by his transparent integrity and his vision. It also had philanthropy at its heart. I felt that this was a company that I could be passionate about while building a great business, making money while doing good – for the environment, for some great charities and for those who I enrolled who would go on to ease their own financial worries or even achieve their dreams.

It is not easy – nothing that is truly worthwhile doing is. And others will have different criteria and choose different companies. But there is a simplicity to it and huge potential. It is, obviously, not for everybody but there is no doubt that the potential is there for those who wish to grasp it and I would be happy to discuss options with anybody who is interested.

Here are the companies that I looked at:
Ambit; $428 enrollment fee; http://www.powertodecide.org

Ignite/Stream; not clear what the start-up costs are – you have to contact the company to find out; http://mystream.com/opportunity/

Veridian; focus on renewable energy, $299 enrollment fee; http://www.viridian.com

US Power and Gas; no enrollment fee, but a focus on commercial accounts; http://www.uspowerandgas.com/

North American Power; no enrollment fee, focus on renewable energy; www.napower.com/377330

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Working with Recruiters to Find a Job

Author:  David Schuchman
               Information Technology Manager of Projects and Teams

It is common to work with a recruiter or search firm to find your next job. Keep in mind that many published sources have indicated that only about 10% of job hunters find a new position using search firms. As a result, using recruiters as a resource should consume no more than 10% of your time. Keep these facts in mind so you optimize your use of a search firm as a productive job search resource:

Recruiters work for employers, not job hunters
A recruiter’s job is to find the best talent for the position their client employer is seeking to fill based on the employer's requirements. They work to find talented individuals who have done the job already for a prior employer, or people ready to move up to the next level in their same career path. While they help individuals whom they are able to place, it is not their primary responsibility to provide assistance or guidance for job seekers.

Different Types of Recruiters

  • Contingency recruiting companies are paid only when their client company hires a candidate they submit. For each position, employers may offer multiple recruiting companies the opportunity to work on the same job posting. They only pay a fee to the recruiter who actually finds the right talent, and the process can be a very competitive. Contingency recruiting is the most common type.
  • Retained Search recruiting companies are paid by a company to take on an exclusive role in a given search. They typically receive an up-front retainer fee. The remainder of the fee is paid on an installment basis as the search progresses. This is often used for high level executive searches. 
  • Corporate Recruiters are usually company employees seeking to fill internal positions.

Recruiters have limited time (like everyone)
Recruiters are likely to be very responsive to people they see as strong potential candidates for their clients' job orders. They are likely to be much less responsive to individuals who are not perceived as potential candidates. In addition, most recruiters don't have the time to respond to the many unsolicited resumes or phone calls that they receive virtually every week. When you do find those few recruiters that spend time to build a relationship with candidates, keep them active in your network.

Recruiters help job hunters get the best compensation
Typically, recruiting fees are based as a percentage of a new hire's first year base salary. Therefore, the more you earn, the more they earn. Often recruiters have inside information about what the company is willing to pay, and are able to obtain the highest salary that the company is willing to offer for the position.

Working with a recruiter can be a great benefit in your job hunt, but only if you understand their role in the hiring process. Budget your time appropriately when working with recruiters to maximize your efforts and results.

[A version of this posting appeared in the January 16, 2014 “TechTopics4U” blog]

Friday, May 16, 2014

How to ask for a LinkedIn Recommendation

Author: Ed Han
              Wordsmith, Recruiter, LinkedIn Advocate, JobSeeker Ally
              Translating business objectives into strategies & tactics

Viewers of your LinkedIn profile often view the recommendations you've received on your profile to see what others have to say about your work. If you’re the one requesting a recommendation, consider whether you should do so. Can the person you’re asking credibly and authentically attest to witnessing doing something truly extraordinary? If the person you ask can so vouch, position that person to make such statements powerfully. To that end:

Arm the person with information to make powerful statements about your skills
Writing a recommendation can be difficult or time consuming. If you’re asking someone to do something difficult or time-consuming on your behalf, help make the process easier. Include an accomplishment in behavioral SAR form (Situation, Action, Result) with a metric that speaks to a strength you’re seeking to underscore at this time. If you do this, include an outcome as well: something like “I felt during the time we worked together that I demonstrated [strength], which yielded [metric], but that’s just a suggestion.” But if you cannot offer this kind of guidance, reconsider whether you should request a recommendation from that person.

Consider getting one or more recommendations from former reports if you were a manager. 
Direct reports can speak to your management style. Depending on your career level, your impact as an individual contributor may be overshadowed by your ability to lead a team to exceptional performance. And don’t rule out the utility of peer recommendation; a well-written peer recommendation can add value—provided clear metrics are included.

Do not under any circumstance say, “I’m sure whatever you say will be fine.” 
If asked to provide guidelines about the kinds of skills or expertise you want extolled, an answer of that sort says, “I’m asking you to give me a gift, but I won’t give you any guidance by telling you the kinds of gifts I most appreciate.”

Invest the time to make sure the recommendations you give and receive are powerful. If you’re going to give someone a gift, you want it to be one that the recipient will love. And in turn, if you’re the one on the receiving end, it is better to receive a gift that you love.

[A version of this posting appeared in an earlier PSG of Mercer County newsletter]

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Adapting Marketing Principles to Your Job Search

Author: Stephen Juro
             Accomplished Marketing Strategist, Communicator and Creative Force

When you boil down a job search, it is very similar in principle to selling a product or service. In essence, you are promoting yourself and trying to motivate an employer to spend time and money to bring you on board. Granted, this analogy can be overused and taken to the extreme, but if you use some basic marketing ideas, you can present yourself better and improve your chances of landing.

Determine a problem the company has and how you can be the solution
As they say, it’s tough to sell ice to an eskimo. Find a problem that the company has that you can help solve. Is it a technology infrastructure that needs improvement? Is it an accounting department that is struggling to keep up with the workload? Whatever it is, you need to identify that problem and show how you can help fix it. And, not just by sitting at a desk pushing paper, but by bringing skill, innovation, excitement or whatever you do that others can’t (at least not as well as you).

Tailor your message to your target audience
Good marketers tailor their message to the person receiving it. For example, different language is used when promoting products to young, urban professionals versus seasoned, C-level executives. Determine what type of person will typically be a hiring manager for the positions you are exploring (you probably worked with a few of them), and craft your messages – resume, cover letter, elevator speech, interview responses, etc – to this type of person. It sounds simple, but it is often overlooked. Express yourself in a way that is best for the listener/reader, not for you! Put yourself in their shoes and make sure that you are talking with them, not at them, above them or below them.

Craft your message so it is easily received
Think of your favorite ads and marketing campaigns. They are easy to read and you understand them quickly. Now, imagine yourself reading resume after resume and cover letter after cover letter. People often use confusing language, too much jargon and don’t get their point across. Is your message easy to “get” the first time? Does it engage the reader? Does it make the listener want to hear the rest or tune you out? Here are a few quick editing tips to make your message easier to understand:

  • Cut unnecessary words
  • Brief is better
  • Define acronyms
  • Use active, not passive language
  • Proofread! (both you and someone else) 

Build your Brand
Decide how you would like the world to perceive you, and then craft that image. This is your “brand.” While some things are out of your control, everything you put out in the world professionally should add to this personal brand. If you want to appear like an expert on a subject, write and share relevant articles. If you want to appear professional, don’t post items on social media that could detract from that image. If you want to appear like a good manager, get testimonials from previous employees or peers showing that. It’s your image…it’s your job to maintain and protect it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Employers Look For When Hiring Staff

Author: David Schuchman
              Information Technology Manager of Projects and Teams
Hiring the best people is more critical than ever. In a tight job market, employers are able to be very selective about who they hire. However, the cost of finding, interviewing, engaging and training new employees is high. With so many qualified candidates, what are employers looking for in the people they choose to interview? Here are six things that employers look for when they review job applicants.
Professional Competency
Does the candidate have the necessary skills, experiences and education to successfully complete the tasks to perform well? Employers are looking for evidence in a person’s past that shows that they can. This doesn't mean that each candidate needs to have done this particular job with this particular title before. Instead, it means the candidate needs to have a track record of success in the skills that the position requires.
Can this person get along with colleagues, and with existing and potential clients and business partners? An additional critical consideration is the person’s willingness and ability to get along well with his or her boss. If the new employee can’t get along well with others, there will be problems.
Satisfaction with the Organization
Most employers want to hire people who will stick around for a long time. They also want to hire people who will be happy with the job. Unhappy people tend to be less productive, a drain on other employees' morale, and may quickly leave the organization.
Fit with Company Culture
Does the candidate seem like they will easily embrace the culture, or does it seem like they will struggle to fit in? Every business has a culture or a way that people behave and interact with each other. Culture is based on certain values, expectations, policies and procedures that influence the behavior of a leader and employees. Workers who don’t reflect a company’s culture tend to be disruptive and difficult.
Does the candidate have values that align with the organization? Are they honest; do they tell the truth and keep promises? Are they a team player? It's not enough to just show up at work every day and do the minimum required. Employers are looking for candidates who care about getting things done, and to do those things well.
Enthusiasm for the Job
Is this just one job of many the candidate is applying to? Or, does the candidate have a special interest in this one? Employers would rather hire someone who will be excited to come to work than someone who sees it as "just a job."

David Schuchman

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What You Should Know About Career Coaches

Author: Ed Han
             Wordsmith, Recruiter, LinkedIn Advocate, JobSeeker Ally
             Translating business objectives into strategies & tactics
In late 2011, I spoke with career coach Susan Guarneri. Susan holds both National Counselor and Career Counselor certifications; and is coauthor of “Job Search Bloopers: Every Mistake You Can Make on the Road to Career Suicide…and How to Avoid Them” with Laura DeCarlo. She’s also the mind behind the “Career Goddess” blog. In a wide-ranging conversation, she discussed what a job seeker ought to know about career coaches:

Q: What should a job seeker expect when working with a career coach?
A: There’s a widespread misconception that coaches fix problems. It’s about collaboration - about two minds coming together. A good coach invites interactivity with the client. And it’s important to talk with a person and find chemistry. It’s about being able to establish trust.

Q: Can you expand upon “accountability plan?”
A: An accountability plan moves you closer to your goal in the coaching process. Homework from a counselor is part of an accountability plan. Each person’s needs are different and counseling must be responsive to unfolding developments.

Q: What should a job seeker know about career coaches?
A: Be sure you are dealing with a professional who does have training and certifications. Several programs are accredited by the International Coach Federation, the largest global association for coaches. Susan Whitcomb, author of eight books about job search and career management, is President of Career Coach Academy, which also offers well regarded programs for career coaches.

Q: What questions should a job seeker not ask of a coach?
A: Prospects often ask, what is your success rate? Coaches are not recruiters; they do not find interviews for you or “place” you in a job. Coaches guide clients through a collaborative process that includes client insight and deeper awareness, relevant research strategies and tools, and action steps to reach the client’s stated goals.

Q: In your experience as a career counselor, what else should job seekers do?
A: Uncover and express their personal brand to capture the prospective employer’s attention in an extremely competitive job market. For less than one dollar a month, you can purchase and have your own internet domain name.

[A version of this posting appeared in the Dec. 2011 PSG of Mercer County newsletter]