Archive for Uncategorized

13 Ways to Instantly Impress LinkedIn Connections

Remember when you first joined LinkedIn?

Perhaps you initially received an invitation to connect from a business associate… Or, perhaps you heard about the professional networking site and joined on your own… Either way, you most likely noticed a series of changes within the past 11 years of LinkedIn’s existence.

There have been numerous tips shared about how to complete your profile, add a photo, share status updates, participate in groups and of course expand your network. Now that you’ve successfully done all of that, you are probably ready to take the next step and really impress all of your connections with your professionalism, understanding of unwritten etiquette expectations, not to mention your ability to identify and share relevant information with other site members.

Image

So here is a list of the most up-to-date recommendations to do just that:

1)     Post riddles and jokes

2)      Post puzzles

3)      Post word jumbles and math quizzes

4)      Post lion pictures or cartoons

5)      Post same the thought, blog link or ad in several groups simultaneously

6)      Post mindless slogans such as: “hire for character, train for skill”

7)      Post IQ tests accompanied by “only 10% get this right”

8)      Post endlessly repeated cliché inspirational quotes

9)      Post eye charts

10)   Post content that would be superfluous even on Facebook

11)   Post irrelevant, off-topic content or comments in groups or discussions

12)   Post images or other content for the purpose of gathering sympathy “likes”

13)   Post any approving comments and/or sharing any of the above to further perpetuate such activity

Impressive, right? 

Advertisements

Comments (3)

Reason #1 for resume rejection

When interacting with people looking for jobs over the years, frustration with the entire process always comes up in the conversation. Usually, those getting zero to minimal response rate on their job applications are understandably the most irritated. Some seem mystified and oblivious to potential causes and others automatically assume they know exactly why they aren’t getting called.

While there are always multiple factors in play, one of the most obvious culprits of lack of positive attention is a flawed resume. Despite numerous reports suggesting resumes are dead, they still tend to be almost universally required as a first step in applying for a job across the majority of the business world.

Rejected Image Credit

I’ve often stated that approximately 95% of the resumes I’ve seen could benefit from some form of improvement. Perhaps that figure sounds extreme, but the reason it is so high is that I truly believe (as do many others) that a resume is intended to serve as the best possible first impression a person can make to a prospective employer.

Some people have told me that my standards are too harsh and that it is unfair to judge someone’s entire career from a single document. That opinion may seem reasonable on the surface, but delve into what it represents from a business standpoint to see if it holds true. Let’s consider that a person applying for a professional level job is expected to demonstrate the following in order to be eligible for an interview:

  • Ability to communicate professionally both verbally and in writing with one’s target audience
  • Attention to detail and concern for quality in work-related physical documents or electronic content
  • Comprehension of proper word usage, verb tense, grammar, spelling, punctuation and formatting when producing business-oriented correspondence

The above is an extremely limited list and doesn’t even get into actual hard skills, technical abilities and specific job related experience, training and education. Unfortunately, if lacking, the components listed are precisely the items that will undermine otherwise qualified candidates’ ability to convey their competence in their field.

The reality is, even if not explicitly expressed in the above manner, most occupations require a person to have a reasonable grasp of basic communication skills. If there is any doubt created in a person’s best first impression introduction message such as their resume, cover letter or even online profile, they will miss more opportunities than they will ever know.

Stubborn job seekers prefer to make assumptions about all sorts of possible reasons they aren’t getting any calls. Of course, in some rare cases, there could be some room for blame beyond a badly constructed resume.

But many people just prefer making excuses and speculating about how evil applicant tracking systems, discriminatory HR representatives and biased recruiters are at fault and show no willingness to hold themselves accountable for presenting a positive image. Instead of taking an objective view at how it is perceived when they fail to submit something worthy of being considered for their target job, these job seekers are the primary source of their own aggravation.

Article by Kelly Blokdijk – As a Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks, Kelly thrives on “Creating a Voice for Talent” by partnering with business professionals and job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies and compelling, customized communication materials to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts employment market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net 

Leave a Comment

20 questions for your job search

Comments (1)

Pondering Significance & Circumstance 3-13-13

Most people in my personal and professional life are familiar with my HR background and how I’ve had a varied and diverse set of experiences both before and while working in that occupation. Another aspect many are aware of is how I’ve leveraged my traditional work in the “employment arena” to engage in some independent/freelance projects along the way.

A few of the primary activities I’ve been known for have been resume writing, job search coaching and career management consulting. Initially, I never set out to pursue that path, but over time it sort of took on a life of its own. Generally I viewed that as another branch of my own professional development with an added beneficial side-effect of using my knowledge to help others in their careers.

Image

When my HR management position was eliminated March 13, 2009 (Friday the 13th), I took advantage of the opportunity to assess MY overall career situation. Doing that myself was a form of practicing what I preached.

At the moment of my layoff I was literally one course away from completing my masters degree – one of my proudest accomplishments. As many of my classmates would attest, it was a grueling process to pursue an advanced degree while consistently balancing the demands of a 50-60 hour work week. Combining that level of burnout with the prospect of the emotional exhaustion that typically accompanies a job search in a decent economy WAS my dilemma. By then we were in the midst of the HELLACIOUS “great” recession – essentially the worst job market so far in my working life – I felt the time was right to explore “now what?”

Therefore, I reflected and contemplated whether I could transform KMB Resume Writing & Career Services, my part-time independent practice that I fit in when possible concurrently with corporate HR / talent management roles into a viable standalone “day job.” My analysis included coming up with the following list of the type of assistance I had been providing during the prior 12+ years.

– Accelerated job search progress for professionals across a wide-range of industries via high-quality presentation and consistent reinforcement of qualifications through “positive first impression” career marketing materials and corresponding messaging.

– Organically established 100% referral-based clientele through word-of-mouth, relationship-building and reputation for low-pressure, inquisitive and consultative style, paired with distinct value-added support based on recruiting industry insight and employer / hiring decision makers’ perspective.

– Customized and authored creatively designed and compellingly written resumes, bios and online profiles to position and prepare business professionals for their next opportunity.

– Delivered individualized job search strategy, defined action plans and developed tailored approach based on each professional’s specific circumstances and target positions.

– Coached and guided individuals through job market research, personal competency assessment, interview preparation, offer negotiation and LinkedIn lessons.

– Helped professionals differentiate themselves from the competition through identification, definition and focusing of their unique value proposition.

– Conducted interview practice and feedback sessions to fine tune presentation on paper, online and in person.

– Advised senior executives on nuances of conducting discreet, confidential job searches and navigating complexities related to search firms, leveraging professional networking contacts and related correspondence.

– Facilitated outplacement style group workshops and one-on-one counseling for displaced workers, career advancement seekers and those pursuing individual professional development.

I’m not a superstitious person, so I don’t think 13 is any luckier or unluckier than any other number. No matter what day it is, and no matter what obstacles show up, I feel fortunate and blessed to be surrounded by supportive people in my life. TalentTalks came about partially through unintentional preparation before 3-13-09, along with a heck of a lot of hard work over the four years leading up to 3-13-13.

Between my regular duties in HR and assorted side projects, I seem compelled to serve as an advisor to help individuals or organizations optimize their talent. Along with that I feel a responsibility to advocate on behalf of those not being seen, heard or noticed for their talent. The phrase “creating a voice for talent” is how I define that philosophy. Regardless of any future career developments that may occur, I will always value the incredibly unique learning opportunities I’ve experienced and the extraordinary encouragement I’ve encountered from those around me.

Article by Kelly Blokdijk – As a Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks, Kelly thrives on “Creating a Voice for Talent” by partnering with business professionals and job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies and compelling, customized communication materials to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts employment market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

Comments (1)

How to Instantly Put Your Job Search in the Crapper

Some consider a resume and/or cover letter the most important professional documents to represent a person’s overall level of competence and credibility when pursuing employment opportunities. In fact for most US employers resumes/cover letters are the standard preliminary evaluation tools.

Therefore, I’m constantly astonished that so many people routinely submit error-ridden correspondence when the stakes are so high. Having to sort through stacks of lousy resumes is one of the most common recruiter complaints. The high-volume of applications and applicant tracking system black-hole syndrome does factor in to response rate, but doesn’t deserve anywhere the amount of blame as bad resumes. 

Image

Perhaps it seems unfair that people are being assessed by how they appear on paper (or on a screen), but that is why they say you only have one chance to make a great first impression. Some of the same sloppiness found on resumes and cover letters can be spotted on LinkedIn profiles as well. It puzzles me that so many career marketing messages reflect a lax attitude about attention to detail and obvious willingness to overlook easily preventable mistakes.

Effective and accurate communication skills tends to be one of the most universally expected qualifications across all types and levels of jobs. I realize that there are situations where that may not be the primary focus of a person’s job. However, those tend to be in categories where resumes and cover letters are not expected and applicants simply complete employment applications instead. Either way, it is still preferable regardless of document type, to receive content minus glaring errors such as typos, misspelled words, poor grammar, incorrect word usage, inconsistent formatting, unattractive fonts and so on…

No one expects the average person to be an expert profile, resume or cover letter writer, but most people in the hiring process do expect basic demonstration of written communication proficiency. Even if those fundamental literacy and quality assurance aspects are not critical for the initial position in question, I have seen plenty of people passed over for promotions and career advancement due to communication challenges. 

Anyone applying for jobs and not getting responses really should take an objective look at how their information is coming across to prospective employers. Make sure you are not flushing your reputation down the toilet by distributing information that makes the reader say: “this stinks!”

Article by Kelly Blokdijk ~ As a Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks, Kelly thrives on “Creating a Voice for Talent” by partnering with business professionals and job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies and compelling, customized communication materials to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts employment market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

 

Comments (2)

Follow this advice to knock yourself out of consideration for a job

While a best-selling author with a history of 35 years in career management is clearly not an easy target for critique, I feel I must call out the obvious negative reaction this blog’s advice could bring if followed. From what I gather, the intent of this information is to aid experienced job applicants  in addressing presumed ageist perceptions or alleged age-bias in interviews.

However, it appears to be coming from a very misguided and perhaps out-of-touch with a real life recruiting and selection mentality of our modern, global, diversity-centered world of work. Have a look: http://blog.knockemdead.com/2013/01/age-discriminationhow-to-fight-age-bias.html

Of course any and all of us will readily acknowledge the unfortunate existence of biased and exclusionary hiring practices that still persist despite the dominance of a more evolved population in the workforce. Aside from isolated anecdotal incidents, most of can only speculate and guess about the extent to which discriminatory decision making is taking place on any scale.

I personally find focus on assumptive accusations of this happening to be overblown and exaggerated. The reason I say that is I believe (and have plenty of objective external evidence to support) that most companies strive to attract and retain top talent regardless of any demographic factors related to discrimination that get publicized by the media and perpetuated by the general public.

As I read through these recommendations, I recoiled in horror at how obnoxious a candidate would sound if they actually expressed the sentiments suggested here. The first thing that stands out is the setting for these recommendations is at the end of a face-to-face interview. Or, if you read to the end of the article, the author recommends interspersing these golden gems throughout the interview conversation.

Image

IMAGE SOURCE: 

An initial problem I see with this is approach is: why after passing through a resume review, initial phone screen or other preliminary candidate evaluation and eventually making it to the in-person interview phase with a hiring manager, would the candidate assume the company or its representatives has any intention of discriminating against said candidate? Talk about having a chip on your shoulder!

The next problem that stands out is the unfortunate choice of vocabulary the candidate is advised to use to point out their age, seasoning, years of experience and other non job-related characteristics. If the goal is to emphasize one’s exceptional qualifications, relevant achievements and drive for successful job performance, why in the world is the author suggesting the candidate call attention to anything distracting or detracting from that message?

Under no circumstances can I imagine it being well-received for a candidate to announce: “I just turned ___ (years old).”  When I saw this it made me think of a toddler holding up the number of fingers equivalent to their age, not a business person I would want to hire – for ANY job!

A remark along the lines of: “That gives me ___ years experience in the profession and ___ years experience doing exactly what needs to be done in the job”  is more likely to come off as condescending and arrogant than confident and accomplished.

If you tell me you have ___ years experience tying your shoes does that make you more qualified than anyone that has 1, 2, 5, 20 fewer years doing the same? No. It just makes you sound pompous, clueless and set in your ways of doing whatever task for however long – most likely the same exact way for that entire duration of time without any examples of incentive to keep improving.

Moving along after a few additional reinforcements of the above, the candidate is told to say: “hire another thirty-something and you know that she will constantly be haggling for promotions and possibly your job, and will probably be gone in four years… even if I retired at 65 you’d still have me ___ times as long as someone younger.” The extreme wrongness of this entire concept shouldn’t need any further explanation or interpretation.  Holy inappropriate comment, Batman!

It continues full speed downhill from that atrocious abomination with: “Experience has given me the maturity and understanding to know that when I do my job well, I make my boss’s job easier. Most younger candidates don’t know this…” Curious, at what point does one arrive at this mature, experienced conclusive understanding? Sixteen, 23, 38, 57…?

Finally, let’s drag out a few more wisdom filled clichés, shall we?: “I will bring balance to the team, if all your customers/clients are in their twenties, most will be reassured by my maturity, plus I naturally resonate with older customers because of the experience and maturity I offer.” Apparently, maturity is the magic mojo for all customer needs! Who knew?

Whether I was interviewing this person as a recruiter, HR person, hiring manager or innocent bystander, I can assure you I would be anything but reassured or feeling resonated with after hearing any proclamations of this sort. Not only would person fail at impressing me as a candidate, they would succeed at insulting and offending every possible category of coworker or customer they may encounter.

For someone to take the tactic of positioning him/herself as superior to other candidates by reinforcing the age-based depictions they claim to be avoiding is pathetic and frankly could be construed as that person harboring their own discriminatory attitudes. Not a good strategy and not a way to influence a hiring decision in your favor.

Article by Kelly Blokdijk ~ As a Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks, Kelly thrives on “Creating a Voice for Talent” by partnering with business professionals and job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies, compelling, customized communication materials to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts employment market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

Comments (3)

May 2013 bring mantis-like mindfulness

It’s been a rough few years for many people in my life. I’m hoping 2013 brings much needed luck to all of us. 

As I was coming back into the house from the backyard today, I spotted this praying mantis at the base of my patio door. I’ve never seen one in person before and wasn’t even sure what it was. There were a few dead leaves and dried twigs in the area, so it almost blended right in.

Image

Along with the ability to camouflage itself into the surroundings, in some cultures praying mantis are believed to be a sign of good fortune. While I’m not a superstitious person and don’t pay much attention signs or symbolism, I found the following article rather comforting for these troubling times.

http://www.whats-your-sign.com/animal-symbolism-mantis.html

Praying Mantis Meanings in the Realms of Animal Symbolism

 

The mantis comes to us when we need peace, quiet and calm in our lives. Usually the mantis makes an appearance when we’ve flooded our lives with so much business, activity, or chaos that we can no longer hear the still small voice within us because of the external din we’ve created.

 

After observing this creature for any length of time you can see why the symbolism of the praying mantis deals with stillness and patience. The mantis takes her time, and lives her life at her own silent pace.

 

A quick-list of praying mantis symbolism:

  • Stillness
  • Awareness
  • Creativity
  • Patience
  • Mindful
  • Calm
  • Balance
  • Intuition

These traits have lead the mantis to be a symbol of meditation and contemplation. In fact, in China, the mantis has long been honored for her mindful movements.

 

The mantis never makes a move unless she is 100% positive it is the right thing for her to do. This is a message to us to contemplate and be sure our minds and souls all agree together about the choices we are making in our lives.

 

Overwhelmingly in most cultures the mantis is a symbol of stillness. As such, she is an ambassador from the animal kingdom giving testimony to the benefits of meditation, and calming our minds.

 

An appearance from the mantis is a message to be still, go within, meditate, get quite and reach a place of calm. It may also a sign for you to be more mindful of the choices you are making and confirm that these choices are congruent.

 

Wishing you much peace and prosperity in 2013. 

~ Kelly Blokdijk

@TalentTalks 

Comments (3)

Older Posts »
%d bloggers like this: