Posts Tagged career

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.

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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? 

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Why You Shouldn’t Care About LinkedIn’s “Who’s Viewed Your Profile”

There could be any number of reasons why someone looks at your LinkedIn profile and why your profile shows up in a search.

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A few possibilities include: 

1) Nosy lookie-loos just curious about what you have going on.

2) You’ve changed something on your profile and it shows in their timeline, so they click to see the “news.”

3) A certain word or series of words exists on your profile when someone does a search.

4) People who are unsure about how to build their own profile are checking out what other people have done.

5) Recruiters sourcing for talent or contacts in certain industries or companies.

6) Job seekers looking for connections that may help them land their next gig.

7) Vendors searching for potential customers.

8) You posted a comment in a group discussion and people want to check to see if your comments are worthy of their attention and if you have any credibility to comment on the topic.

9) New LinkedIn members who you may have worked with previously just saw you in their list of people you may know.

10) Connections of other connections see that you just connected with someone else and click to see who you are.

There are plenty of other things that could be going on when someone clicks your profile or you turn up in a search. The main reason I don’t think the tally matters is that you should be concerned with people not just looking at you, but calling, emailing, InMailing or direct messaging you because they found something appealing about you or that they could benefit from.

I often encounter people experimenting with various tactics to increase that “who viewed my profile” number without taking into consideration that gaming the system is not entirely possible, nor does it make much sense to try given the constant algorithm updates. There are some very questionable practices that have unfortunately created a pattern of people doing whatever it takes to stay in view. The majority of time the action, content, sequence and arrangement is geared ONLY to attract views. For some people this is the only goal they care about and that is how they justify those techniques.

What concerns me is that other people tend to mimic these ideas and my not even understand how that looks to those viewing their profile or their activity in general. For example, there are certain people loading their profile or timeline status updates with specific content that looks suspicious to viewers who regularly search LI for particular types of talent. Sure they show up, but then what?

When I (and others like me) see these type of profiles, it is immediately obvious what is going on and I assure you just because it may fool some people, other people will think of you as the fool. If someone is noticed for doing some of those things that they think are impressive, but are in fact harmful, they may never even know. Obviously, not the kind of attention most of us want to attract!

There are plenty of legitimate methods to enhance your LinkedIn profile – to make it reflect the impressive qualities you have to offer. That should be the focus, so when someone does search or look, they like what they find.

Written by Kelly Blokdijk. As a talent optimization advisor Kelly’s professional background “Creating a Voice for Talent” includes 10+ years experience offering exceptional human resources, organization development and recruiting support to diverse organizations. 

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20 questions for your job search

The following are some of the most common “tips” or topics seen in the job search advice arena. Which do you believe are true or false and why?

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True or False Statements:

1)      No one will hire you if any of your Facebook photos contain alcohol

2)      Since it’s practically required to have your photo on LinkedIn, you should also include one on your resume

3)      Hiring companies always prefer candidates that have a blog

4)      You will differentiate yourself by submitting a video resume

5)      Cover letters are never read and won’t do you any good

6)      Handwritten post-interview thank-you notes help you become a top candidate

7)      Being active on social media proves you have advanced technology skills

8)      Your “digital footprint” (ultra stupid term) is more valuable than your resume

9)      If you have inconsistent work history, you must use a functional resume

10)   Hiring managers will be impressed with your infographic resume

11)   You need to build and maintain a consistent brand across all of your social media profiles

12)   You should share industry articles with hiring managers after your interviews

13)   If you don’t get a response after applying online you should call the company to speak with the hiring manager

14)   Candidate with highest Klout score should always be top choice

15)   If you get laid off, you should put “looking for new XYZ position” on your LinkedIn headline

16)   Job seekers 40+ years old never get interviewed because hiring companies discriminate

17)   You should do a lot of research before your interview so you can tell the company how you will fix their problems

18)   Contacting a lot of recruiters will help you get hired faster

19)   It makes sense to apply for jobs when you meet 50% of listed criteria

20)   Always circumvent HR because they never want anyone qualified to get hired

Answers:

1)      False – though there’s no need to leave your privacy settings wide-open if you fear your happy hour happenings might be mis-judged

2)      False – keep your resume focused on your career qualifications unless your appearance is pertinent to the type of work you do (modeling, acting)

3)      False – most people involved in hiring aren’t spending their spare time scouring the Internet to find new blogs – caveat: unless blogging is what you are employed to do

4)      False – don’t expect people to click the link, wait for the video to load/play and then watch your show – caveat: unless visual presentation/public speaking matters in your occupation

5)      False – not everyone cares about cover letters, but unless you know your recipient’s preference best of take advantage of the opportunity to communicate additional information

6)      False – while not entirely unheard of, whether typed or handwritten thank-you notes rarely influence opinions enough to make a difference in being added to the short list

7)      False – considering you are amidst billions of other people on the planet also active on social media, don’t expect special attention

8)      False – it might be concerning if there is no sign of you whatsoever online, but the vast majority of employers still rely heavily on traditional resumes to evaluate prospective hires

9)      False – if your employment history is in such a state that a functional resume seems necessary, you most likely need to apply for jobs where a resume isn’t required at all

10)   False – unless you are pursuing work where your graphic creativity is pertinent, at best a hiring manager might think your document is cute

11)   False – whether personal or professional, all you really need to keep in mind is: what goes on the Internet stays on the Internet

12)   False – aside from sending something that was requested, don’t add any uninvited extra mail (spam) to anyone’s inbox

13)   False – be patient and keep in mind most companies have a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” screening process and your extra eager attitude might get you noticed for the wrong reasons

14)   False – with limited exceptions, your Klout, Kred, EA, follower count or any other measurement score might be interesting, but rarely connected to hiring decisions

15)   False – your LinkedIn headline space should be maximized to express what others – your target audience – need to know about you professionally

16)   False – some claims of discrimination are valid, yet practically all employers desire the most qualified person for the position to be hired regardless of demographic attributes

17)   False – you should research available information in order to be prepared and informed, though it might be presumptuous to suggest you know how to fix internal problems

18)   False – companies hire based on qualifications, recruiters may facilitate portions of the process, but their loyalty is to the company/client not candidates

19)   False – at a minimum, you should strive to meet at least 90% of the required experience and background criteria being sought

20)   False – it is in HR’s interest to serve the company’s interest in attracting and selecting the best qualified person for each open position

Many of these topics or statements may produce an “it depends” reaction and the example answers are not intended to be a full explanation of every possible situation where certain actions may or may not make sense.

What do you agree or disagree with on the above list?  

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!

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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. 

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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!

 

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Are the jobs hiding from you?

People often tell me they’ve heard they need to avoid job boards and focus on the hidden job market instead. That comes up in conversation because they have no idea what that advice means or how to interpret it for their specific situation.

Frankly, that may be the best or worst way for them to conduct a job search and they may not realize how to tell the difference. The fact of the matter is there is not and has never been a one-size-fits-all job search approach. Nor is it wise to exclude or include possible resources based on someone else’s opinion without them or the job seeker understanding what is entailed in the bigger picture.

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Statistics vary about source of hire. Some may suggest that up to 80% of employers use job boards to fill jobs. Others may reflect that up to 80% of positions are filled through relationship based methods such as referrals, references and recommendations. Based on those seemingly conflicting or at least confusing concepts, how is a job seeker in the current market supposed to spend their time?

Let me simplify this the best way I can… The main reason job boards have become under-appreciated isn’t because there is a flaw in the job board platform itself. The issue is with the users of the job boards.

Way back when job boards became common place, the “apply now” button enabled practically anyone, anywhere, at any time, to apply for any job. That in turn created too much volume for any employer to manage. Since then, a dramatic downturn in the economy flooded the market with even more users of the job boards.

Concurrently, to manage this volume of applications, employers started integrating their external job board postings with their internal applicant tracking systems. These were to filter the data and sort out the unqualified applicants. The problem that occurred then was applicants tried to game the system by keyword loading and other “tricks” so they would still show up in searches no matter what.

Overall the quality of applicants diminished. Meanwhile compounding the user-error predicament, the hiring side failed to upgrade their process to deter unqualified people from applying or add methods to attract the right type of applicant. Even if someone was qualified, the likelihood of them being identified under all of the clutter was minimal. The response to apply ratio was dismal.

The next thing you know, the only people applying for jobs are the unqualified people. That discouraged employers from using job boards and took things “under-ground”, if you will. No one on either side was satisfied with the return on investment.

While job boards remain a solid point of reference for taking the pulse of hiring trends, the kinks still haven’t been completely worked out. That said, I encourage anyone looking for a job to integrate any and all relevant job boards into their search strategy. In a competitive market, it would be foolish to discount one of the primary tools employers use to advertise opportunities and to identify talent.

Regardless of how, when or where a person becomes aware of a possible opportunity, it is critical to remain in contact with an extended network of business connections that understand your value in the employment market. In the event someone you know learns of a confidential search, you want them to keep you top of mind. You need to be known for what you have to offer in advance, that way when internal discussions start happening, people automatically think of you.

Alternatively, if a position is already publicly communicated, you need to do some research and investigating to reveal who is involved with the sourcing, screening and selection process. While having direct contact with the ultimate decision maker is ideal, don’t discount others who may be less prestigious, yet still influential in getting you closer to the front of the line.

Regardless, you need to be prepared to position yourself effectively through your professional marketing strategies and materials online, on paper and in person. No matter what form your tangible presence takes (value proposition, business bio, resume, professional profile or networking correspondence), it must convey deep understanding of the business needs through a concise and targeted message. Your communications must immediately demonstrate an obvious match for the desired role to anyone who “finds” you.

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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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 

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