Posts Tagged networking

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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Talent Topic Compilation 2012 Edition

Perhaps like me you struggle to keep up with the mass quantities of information that flows your way each day. Here, I’ve compiled many of the job search, career management, employment market, recruiting and networking articles I’ve posted throughout the year.

The header before the link gives a general idea of the content and the blurb below the link shows an excerpt from the article itself. Please do share feedback by commenting directly on the source site or via private message back to me.

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Career strength takes continuous conditioning

https://talenttalks.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/armed-with-career-strengthening-strategies/

 Professionals must stay vigilant in conditioning themselves for the future. Just like our muscles get soft from lack of use, our knowledge, skills and abilities can quickly become obsolete if we don’t take action to step up our learning regimen.

 

The difference between bad and badass brands

https://talenttalks.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/how-to-build-a-bad-brand/

True experts, geniuses or brilliant innovators don’t go around telling everyone that’s what they are, because they don’t need to. It just shows.

 

Is your message making people tune in or get turned off?

https://talenttalks.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/does-your-song-make-people-turn-up-the-volume-or-change-the-station-2/

People constantly ask me how they can be found, how they can stand out and how they can drive action in the midst of immense competition. There are plenty of techniques that can improve the chances of those things happening, but none of that matters if when found you stand out for the wrong reasons making people think you need to change your tune.

 

With friends like this, who needs enemies?

http://www.recruitingblogs.com/profiles/blogs/awkward-placement-approach

As you will notice, this was a generic message sent to my email but not addressed to me by name – probably because I was only one of the thousand or so recipients.

 

Special K for your career

http://www.recruitingblogs.com/profiles/blogs/karing-enough-about-your-kareer-prospects-should-konvince-you-to

Wow, here’s another doozy … hopefully an extremely isolated incident, but apparently some poor schmuck actually lost out on a job opportunity because another candidate had a higher Klout score.  

 

Face-to-face with jobs on Facebook

http://www.recruitingblogs.com/profiles/blogs/what-about-all-of-the-job-finding-on-facebook

We’ve all seen the various social media articles, career blogs and Generation Y experts that repeatedly promote Facebook as a source of hire, venue for job searching and place to interface with employers. 

 

Everyone’s blogging and you should too

http://www.recruitingblogs.com/profiles/blogs/everyone-on-the-planet-should-have-a-blog

Ironically, I don’t recall ever encountering anyone that said, “What the world needs is more blogs.” Frankly, based on the underwhelming quality of many blogs, the opposite is more likely to be expressed.

 

Why you shouldn’t spam a prospective employer

http://www.recruitingblogs.com/profiles/blogs/special-delivery-who-ordered-the-spam

Now just sit back and wait for the job offers to flood in…

 

Career lessons from the Brady Bunch

https://talenttalks.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/job-searching-with-jan-brady-syndrome/

Embrace and enjoy what makes YOU, you! 

 

Oh no, not another boring resume!

https://talenttalks.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/5-5-million-boring-resumes-is-yours-one-of-them/

Aside from the obvious deal-breakers such as dreadful grammar, typos, spelling mistakes, improper word usage, incorrect verb tense, random capitalization and inconsistent fonts and formatting, there are plenty of other ways that people fail to make a positive first impression.

 

How to make it easier for your network to help with your job search

https://talenttalks.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/does-your-resume-overwhelm-your-networking-connections-with-tmi/

Much of the content typically included on a traditional resume used to apply for jobs, could potentially distract a professional or personal networking contact from truly understanding the core job search elements that a job seeker needs to share.

 

Crazy and lazy recruiters

http://www.recruitingblogs.com/profiles/blogs/turds-on-my-freshly-washed-windshield-and-similar-annoyances

One of my contacts shared this vent with me. Thought it pretty much sums up some of the lazy, sloppy, clueless types that somehow found their way into the recruiting realm.

 

Thoughts about thought-leaders

https://talenttalks.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/purposely-pretentious-professionals/

As I’ve written many times before, I find it alarming that an abundance of outdated, ineffective and inaccurate information is being peddled to those in major need of real help with their employment or unemployment situations.

 

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, customized communication materials and compelling personal branding campaigns 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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Purposely Pretentious Professionals

As a “what you see is what you get” kind of gal that communicates in a plain and direct “tell it like it is” or “call it like I see it” style, the opinions I’m about to share may not appeal to those with different sensibilities. For that reason, the following serves as a disclaimer should you continue reading: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Seuss

In what resembles an OCD pattern, my brain seems to have a ravenous appetite compelling me to consume an inordinate amount of business related and current events content on a constant basis. Others play sports, video games or engage is assorted hobbies to chill out, but that stuff doesn’t appeal to me at all. Being a non-athletic, non-competitive type and a gigantic geek, reading for enjoyment and to stay informed about the world around me is how I tend to spend any free moments. I seek out sources of new data and diverse views on assorted topics pertaining to my profession as well as plenty of other entirely unrelated topics.

Periodically, I encounter articles by various individuals that some refer to as thought-leaders. I have no issues with these folks per se, but strong individualistic tendencies prevent me from gushing all over them like a hysterical teeny-bopper at their favorite pop star’s concert. It’s rare to discover something that isn’t derivative of an existing perspective or a just a more clever arrangement of vocabulary to describe a familiar theme.

Lately, much of the published material I read is not particularly noteworthy, interesting or informative. There has been a dramatic shift away from quality to quantity, frequency and immediacy. Certain people or publications seem to have become obsessed with remaining omnipresent as if activity and visibility somehow equates to relevance and validity. Nope, this would a case for less is more if there if ever was one…

Actually, that is what deters me from writing more often. Just because I’m continuously observing, absorbing and reflecting doesn’t mean my thoughts need to transfer from my noggin to my keyboard. To me, writing means sharing my unique point of view and independent opinions with the full expectation and acceptance that others may reject the drumbeat I march to. With that in mind, please ponder a few poignant words from Kurt Cobain: “I’d rather be hated for what I am than loved for what I am not.”

The fact that most members of our society seem to have an insatiable craving for the ideas, ideology and intellect that others possess rather than thinking for themselves is rather disturbing. It is incredibly common for citizens to vote politicians into office based on talk show hosts’, actors’, athletes or musicians’ endorsements rather than learning what they need to know to make an informed decision on their own.

Another area I notice people blindly following their chosen expert’s advice in is the area of career guidance. For unknown reasons, people willingly display a complete lack of critical thinking ability or common sense when it comes to who or what they elect to pay attention to in this category. As I’ve written many times before, I find it alarming that an abundance of outdated, ineffective and inaccurate information is being peddled to those in major need of real help with their employment or unemployment situations.

If a dentist claimed to be a plastic surgeon and botched an operation, it would be called malpractice. In the career expert world there is no recourse for such blatant incompetence, and sadly the victims don’t realize the damage until it’s too late. There is no barrier to entry so anyone – bank teller, bikini waxer, chemical engineer, dog-walker – can wake up one day and decide to proclaim guru status on any career oriented subject matter they choose.

Essentially, all they need to do is fake it until they make it – meaning find enough naïve, gullible, lost and confused people to be their audience and voila! instant faux credibility. They proceed to impart their pretend wisdom on anyone willing to buy the shtick and spiel they spew. After all, according to their scripted, sleazy elevator pitch, they are, have or know THE solution.

One of the concepts I’ve seen floating around over the years is the phrase “networking with a purpose.” The first point about why this troubles me is that it seems to imply that simply living your life, meeting new people in everyday settings, social activities and any other interpersonal interactions is considered inadequate. Ironically, some people I know quite well with extremely rich personal and professional networks, never as much as utter the word networking and would scoff at the suggestion that they intentionally go somewhere or do something for the sake of networking with a purpose.

The next part of this networking methodology that I find objectionable is that it reeks of social climbing and all of the other distasteful status seeking behavior and self-serving motives that, aside from the reality TV crowd, others typically frown upon. I’ve attended events where people literally walk around scanning name tags on shoulders and lapels, presumably to identify those worthy of striking up a conversation with. They make no attempts to be subtle about it either. Apparently, they are so purposeful that they know it when they see it and don’t need to waste time chatting up the little people with the wrong name or occupation on their badge.

Based on several of pieces of advice I’ve seen and heard dispensed, the goal is to attend networking events with predetermined power targets in mind. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to only speak with important, influential and interesting people when out in public. Don’t be distracted by the insignificant people in your midst, as they clearly lack any ability to add value. To me, this practice represents an exaggerated interpretation of Zig Ziglar’s expression: “If you go out looking for friends, you’re going to find they are very scarce, If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”

Even more pathetic is the obnoxious habit that many of these purpose-driven networkers display – that being the premature and presumptuous “how may I help you?” offer. Unless Scotty just beamed me up to the Nordstrom shoe department, I will be annoyed, insulted and offended by such a preposterous question from a complete stranger. Either you are delusional enough to think such a query doesn’t seem phony, or you believe you are a super hero on a quest to assist everyone you meet, or you think I appear needy and helpless – none of which engender a favorable impression.

Unless you have Meryl Streep’s acting chops, please realize that you aren’t fooling anyone with your silly, inauthentic or disingenuous lines. I have and will readily express that sentiment too – trust me. Eyes pop and jaws drop right then and there when the level of insincerity and absurdity of this elitist attitude is called out. I understand these poor souls are merely following the direction their favorite thought-leader passed along, but some random business card passer-outer trying to impersonate Mother Teresa with a pretentious “pay-it-forward” and “give-back” mentality is beyond awkward for me and makes the would-be helper look socially inept.

Wouldn’t you rather risk being forgotten for being the dude or dudette making natural small talk about the weather or latest blockbuster movie than remembered for resembling the word of the day on urban dictionary? If so, please heed Ice Cube’s recommendation to: “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.”

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, customized communication materials and compelling personal branding campaigns 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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Does your resume overwhelm your networking connections with TMI?

Often when a person embarks on a new job search, one of the first activities they do is update their resume and start passing it out to anyone and everyone they’ve ever met. While that might sound like a fine way to get things moving quickly, it tends to send the wrong message and ends up being a complicated, confusing and burdensome set of data for other people to process in their attempt to offer assistance.

 

Much of the content typically included on a traditional resume used to apply for jobs, could potentially distract a professional or personal networking contact from truly understanding the core job search elements that a job seeker needs to share.  It’s simply too much information (TMI)!

 

Most likely, the other person will not be in a position to have the proper context of the job seeker’s professional history, capabilities and differentiating factors, in relation to the current employment market or their desired career goals. Using a “networking resume” is one way to eliminate that issue.

 

A networking resume’s purpose is to provide a high-level overview of the key competencies and value added contributions a person delivers within their occupation. It may also cover education level, professional credentials obtained and prior employers, without the specific details of dates or titles… just enough to give readers an idea of what they’ve achieved.

 

Another feature of a networking resume is a section to highlight examples of target companies and / or the type of industry focus a person may have for their future role. Keeping the entire “story” to one page is an excellent way to help others be able to support a job seeker in identifying possible prospects and leads.

 

Here is an example / sample of a networking resume for reference..

 

If for some reason the above link does not translate accurately, it can also be located on the document section of my LinkedIn profile

 

Please let me know if you or someone you know might find this  beneficial next time they begin a job search.

 

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, customized communication materials and compelling personal branding campaigns 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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Job seekers should NEVER pay for resume writing or job search coaching

When I’m out and about at various local networking events, it’s not uncommon to encounter a large population of unemployed people. In fact, conversations with unemployed people often provide me with ideas related to career management, job search and employment market issues that I write about and include in presentations.

Recently, while chatting with a person that I had previously met and spoken with a number of times at similar events, an interesting topic came up. They were describing a fee-based LinkedIn class they had heard about being offered by someone they knew. I asked what they thought about the class and what paying participants should expect to get from it. They immediately said, “I would never pay for that type of class.”

Next, they proclaimed, “In fact, I would never pay for any professional job search advice, including resume writing or job search coaching.” Finally, they stated, “When I first went to ____ job search organization, they told us not to pay for anything, because they were going to give us all of the information we needed for free.”

Those comments didn’t really faze me at first, as it certainly wasn’t the first time I’d heard that sentiment. Even though that person knows my professional background, I didn’t take offense or find it personally insulting. Though I thought it was a bit awkward and unfortunate that they were so adamant about it. Rather than try to dispute their remarks, I simply suggested that people should do what they think is best, especially if what they are doing is working and producing results.

However, upon further reflection, I felt sorry for that person and any others who hold similar beliefs. They were basing their job search approach on what someone else, likely completely unaware of their situation, told them to do or not do. The main concern I have with this is that we are dealing with some particularly challenging circumstances. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I don’t think this is a case for a one-size-fits-all set of rules delivered by virtual, uninformed strangers.

When people refuse to admit their shortcomings to consider trying something new, they likely will miss out on any potential for different outcomes. While I would never try to convince someone to pay for anything that they don’t find valuable or worthwhile, I think it is short-sighted to automatically dismiss the possible benefit of doing so.

Having written countless targeted resumes, bios and profiles and provided personalized job search coaching for plenty of individuals over the years, I have a hard time understanding why someone would take such a stand, without at least exploring those alternatives first. The majority of referrals I’ve received have been from colleagues, senior business leaders, HR executives and staffing industry professionals. The feedback I’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive and complimentary. Without going into specific details, most comments are along the lines of “WOW! I never would have been able to do that on my own.” Or, “I can’t thank you enough for all of your help. I am so impressed that you came up with exactly the words, tips, tools and advice I needed.”

Following that initial incident, I had a separate conversation with another individual and mentioned the above. They also found it a bit shocking and blamed it on the rampant malpractice taking place in the job search realm. What they were referring to is the free, yet tainted Kool-aid being dispensed by various newly appointed gurus of all things career-related. It is known issue, but sadly those needing clarity the most, are least likely to pay attention to the warning signs.

Ironically, the person who said job seekers should never pay for resume writing or job search coaching has been unemployed for 2+ years and doesn’t seem to be concerned with the typos and incoherent content on their LinkedIn profile. These are exactly the things that drive a person like me crazy.

The jobless Kool-aid drinkers are all starting to fall into the same general categories: middle-aged, long-term unemployed, active networkers bragging about the quantity of their LinkedIn connections and readily passing out job search advice to anyone and everyone else under the guise of being helpful. Since everyone is doing it, it must be working right? Wrong!

Likewise, I frequently see people who seem oblivious to their interpersonal and communication styles and habits that may be potential turnoffs. There seems to be a sense of entitlement for help based on the fact that many of these folks falsely believe they are helping others due to their insistence on robotically asking everyone they meet: “How can I help you?”

And, don’t get me started on personal hygiene, wardrobe and grooming malfunctions that aren’t doing them any favors. Some of these problems can be quickly and easily fixed and for minimal, if any, expense – like buying tweezers, a lint-brush or an iron. Wrinkly clothes, pet hair, nose hair, ear hair, exposed chest hair and Andy Rooney eyebrows are not in demand in this competitive market. Ask anyone!

Who knows what may have happened had some of them been willing to make a few calls to investigate what type of help is available before so much time had passed and the damage to their professional reputation has been done… Most, if not all, providers of career services assistance offer free initial consultations. There is no reason not to take advantage of those being generous with their time and who actually have the specialized knowledge to help those who need it most.

Perhaps, the fact that there are so many fraudulent and unprofessional sources of information out there is a deterrent to getting legitimate, professional guidance. I personally know of several reputable resources that I would be glad to recommend. Please get in touch if you are interested in learning more about them.

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, customized communication materials and compelling personal branding campaigns 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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10 most popular pesky LinkedIn pet peeves

Thousands of professionals from all walks of life have built extensive networks and found ways to expand their online reach through the professional networking site, LinkedIn. While almost everyone is aware of the need to create a positive first impression, here are a few of the most common issues observed where that may not be happening.

1. Outdated, incomplete or inconsistent profile content
LinkedIn’s member count is rapidly growing, though it is hard to tell if it includes those that forgot that they had a profile and ended up creating more than one. It looks careless and confusing to others if someone has more than one profile, especially if they’ve or also failed to manage a cohesive message. Plenty of people neglect their profiles and leave up old company information or status messages even if they’ve made a change. Others complicate their profiles by not matching their content to their purpose for using LinkedIn. One of the most obvious clues that a profile is incomplete or untended is the lack of a photo. Profiles with photos are far more likely to be viewed than those without a picture.

2. Generic links to websites, blogs or other content
LinkedIn provides a place for users to connect their business website, blog or professional portfolio. Many people either don’t take advantage of that feature or simply keep the default terminology in place. Whenever it is possible to customize, users should be specific about where the link will lead. For example, instead of leaving the “company website” default label, a person should state the actual company name, the title/theme of their blog or the context for their portfolio. It is important to keep links, documents and attachments updated and properly labeled regardless of the application being used.

3. Unimaginative and repetitive status updates
Many people follow a schedule for their status updates. Others don’t seem to pay any attention at all and leave up the same “happy holidays” message for two years at a time. Regarding those who post updates, one of the most annoying habits is being a broken record. These are the people who constantly post the same exact message each and every time they decide to update. For example they may list links to their website, webinars, blogs with the same headline each time. Not only is “same old, same old” underwhelming and boring to see, but people associate traits of the message with those of the messenger.

4. Ineffective group participation
LinkedIn allows users to join up to 50 groups as well as sub-groups of each. Within each group are discussions that people can join or they can start their own topic. One of the unfortunate outcomes is when people post to a topic without thoroughly reading the original post or subsequent replies. Participation in a discussion is usually best when the conversation remains on topic with each person adding a different or new perspective. Simply posting a “me too” comment doesn’t add any value and reflects poorly on the person posting. Another issue is when people post topics or questions without a clear or specific subject line. Examples would be “question” or “need help.” Of course abusers such as spammers and people posting off topic content should be flagged for the group manager to address.

5. Obsessing over SEO
For years search engine optimization has been a moving target in the Internet world. Countless people continually develop methods to place as high as possible on various search sites and outsmart the competition. There are many different techniques, formulas and strategies used to accomplish this; some very impressive and some downright foolish. Many LinkedIn users have been instructed to mimic these trends by imbedding strings of key terms or buzz words in their profiles. The problem with this type of overt and somewhat unsophisticated approach is that it creates a disjointed and choppy flow to the person’s information. Rather than writing a compelling description incorporating how those terms are relevant, some people simply place a chunk of text with any and all of these commonly searched words, regardless of how sloppy it looks. They are doing this to increase their number of profile views instead of focusing on creating a more impressive story that attracts not just looks, but leads and opportunities.

6. Locking down contact settings
For most people, a key benefit of using LinkedIn is management of professional networking contacts. Sadly, some people claim that they are using LinkedIn to expand their network, get found by prospective business connections and similar reasons, yet they keep restrictive settings on their profile making it difficult to impossible for anyone to reach them. Of course, everyone is concerned with privacy and protecting their confidential information, but that doesn’t mean it is necessary to prevent others from easily finding one or more ways to get in touch.

7. Appearing needy, desperate and stating the obvious
LinkedIn has rapidly enhanced functionality and features making it an extremely valuable research resource for recruiters and job seekers alike. It is common knowledge that recruiters search LinkedIn for talent. Likewise, job seekers are hoping to leverage the tool to locate their next opportunity. An interesting, though perhaps not advisable status update is when a person posts that they are seeking a new XYZ opportunity along with request for anyone who sees that message to help them with that pursuit. Being that LinkedIn provides a space to show one’s talent in the best light, a more impressive twist would be to show the type of value that person brings, appearing helpful instead helpless.

8. Posting TMI
Related to status updates and discussion posts, there are assorted ways that people post too much information. The fastest way to turn off your networking connections is to forget that LinkedIn, facebook and twitter are different venues with distinct audiences and purposes. Some people use platforms that connect all of their social media profiles so they can type one message to be distributed to each site. The problem with doing this is that it clutters up everyone else’s screen with each tweet or check-in. Most of those messages have nothing to do with professional networking. The other way people over share is by posting personal problems, questions, controversial opinions and complaints on discussion boards. One incredibly important thing to keep in mind is that what happens on the Internet, stays on the Internet.

9. Incoherent profile information
One of the easiest ways to build credibility is by demonstrating relevance to one’s target audience. The fastest route to lose credibility is to post information that hasn’t been proofread for typos, spelling and grammar issues. It sounds obvious, but many LinkedIn profiles are full of errors, contain redundant and repetitive statements and are just downright difficult to read.

10. Sending impersonal connection invitations
Making connections is a primary function on LinkedIn and there is even a quick and easy way to do so. However, far too many people appear lazy and clueless when they resort to blasting out generic connection invitations. While space is limited within LinkedIn’s invitation scheme, it is always a good idea to personalize any professional correspondence. It only takes a few moments to draft a brief note to accompany the invitation or reply to an invitation to connect.

What would you add to the 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, customized communication materials and compelling personal branding campaigns 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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When are you going to settle down?

That is a question that many single people have heard over the years. It is usually asked by their well-meaning, but perhaps meddling loved-ones or possibly even posed by complete strangers. What they are suggesting to the single person is that – in their opinion – it is time to check that independent carefree single life at the door and plant themselves into a committed relationship for the long-term.

The motivation for this question varies, but often it is because the single person has given the impression that they are either too free-spirited to marry or partner up or they are too picky to appreciate the right mate when they meet him or her. Perhaps the person wondering why they don’t settle down is judging their choices and offering not so subtle hints of disapproval.

Another group that may have heard this “when are you going to settle down?” question a time or two is the ever-expanding population of unemployed people. While the meaning for this group is slightly different, there are well-intentioned people who think they should “just get a job already.” Of course, they don’t really say that – well, at least I hope not – but that is how it is heard and felt by the unemployed person.

Unfortunately, the people who tend to ask or imply these ideas are not necessarily unsympathetic, but they are unable to comprehend the perspective of the “great recession” job seeker. Possibly they don’t realize how challenging a job search can be – even in the best of times – because they have never personally had to try very hard to land a new position. Some people just manage to wind up in the right place at the right time and only know what its like to experience smooth career transitions.

A more likely reality is that they don’t quite grasp how incredibly complex the entire job search process has become over the years. Much of how things work today is tied to technology advances or continuously changing preferences and practices within the employment arena, making the term “competition” sound like a galaxy-sized understatement.

If someone hasn’t had a personal incentive (i.e. their own unemployment) to explore or gain exposure to these evolving trends, then they would not be too familiar with exactly what that entails. Add on to that the immense economic uncertainty for the past several years that may have skipped right by them as they remained employed, and it is easy to see why they could be so misguided in their views.

The scenario faced by many job seekers is not simple or straightforward and there is no consistently effective approach that works from one person to the next. Though there are plenty of experts touting this or that solution and offering blanket generalizations and un-proven advice to anyone and everyone who happens to be looking for a job.

The worst part of this situation is that many of these unemployed people have contemplated and are actively considering settling DOWN. Not in their typical previous type of position, but in one that is far beneath their level of ability, education, experience and compensation. While it sounds simple to just go out and get a job, the fact of the matter is these professionals are penalized just as much for being over-qualified as they are for being under-qualified. That is a key point that the people expecting them to settle down fail to process.

Of course, there are exceptions to everything. Some people have indeed found new professionally satisfying positions in this economy. Luckily, many of them are comparable jobs to what the person held prior. We all hope there is more of that in store for the rest who are struggling to make the best of this overwhelmingly unpleasant job market.

In some other cases, people have truly settled for survival jobs. Look around at a few businesses you frequent and you will probably see someone who looks just a bit different than the rest of the workers there. Whether it’s a taxi driver (former CIO), an order taker at a fast food place (up ‘til 2008 a Marketing Executive) or the stock person at the home improvement warehouse (struggling Graphic Artist), you can be certain, some of those newer employees have not arrived at their ideal career destinations.

In a conversation I had a while back, several senior level people from diverse professions and I discussed what it would take to actually land one of those so-called survival jobs. Without exception each person in the group was ready, willing and able to do just that – financially, physically and mentally. So much for the theory that unemployed people enjoy collecting their bi-weekly UI stipend and have no motivation to get back to work!

One person during a separate conversation actually told me that they had reached a point where they would even consider a “job-from-hell.” What they were referring to was the kind of miserable job that anyone who has been in the workforce for any amount time has encountered. Though when interviewing, we must portray that nothing in our entire career has ever been anything but wonderful. Even when describing the job-from-hell, the people, the places and all the rest were blessed, blissful experiences.

The person who prompted me to write about his “settle down” topic is a mid-career professional with substantial work experience, advanced education and professional credentials that many of their peers probably wish they had. However, due to a barren job market in their particular niche this person has decided to think about taking it down a notch or settling down, if you will.

They have been presented with a potential opportunity to do something related skill-wise, but different than what they have done in the past. The challenge this person is dealing with is that the pay rate is about what they earned 20 years ago when attending community college and working in retail. The other part that stings a bit is that the income potential is limited (barely feasible in their geographic location) and resembles what the most entry level person that ever reported to this job seeker was earning. OUCH! Talk about a kick-in-the-arse to the ole ego…

The main concern is the prospect of this decision to accept the job, if offered, equating to a permanent career derailment. Obviously, nothing is forever, but this is the type of professional that sticks to their commitments and would accept only if they intended to remain around awhile, meaning not a survival job until something better comes along.

What would you do… settle down or stick it out?

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

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