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.