Month: January 2016

LinkedIn Branding: A Job Seeker’s Guide

LinkedIn is best known for being a space for professionals to vie for career enhancement, but LinkedIn is really so much more.

Opportunities for Employment and Advancement

LinkedIn is the best social media platform to showcase your professional identity. A good resume should be tailored to a specific opportunity, but LinkedIn can describe, in a highly engaging manner, all of your professional experiences, skills, and interests. Your profile can be crafted to engage recruiters or peers and set you up for employment or advancement. Keywords, total profile completion, lots of activity, and relevant content are the best way to create a professional profile with high visibility.

Before your LinkedIn account can bring you professional success, you must clearly identify what your goal is and how you plan to accomplish your goal. All of your LinkedIn activity must contribute to this agenda. It’s easy to become distracted on LinkedIn, like any other social media platform. Any business goal requires focused and consistent attention for success. Here are five main action categories for an ambitious LinkedIn user.

Be Complete

Your Profile needs to be stuffed full of information about you, where you’ve worked, what you accomplished, what your skills are and relevant professional interests like volunteerism. This is one of the few spaces where it’s ok to brag. Be honest though. LinkedIn offers many tools to help you fill out your profile and assess the strength of your profile. Be as thorough and as precise as you can when describing your positions, responsibilities, experiences, and skills.

Be Expressive

Create a list of keywords that relate to your skills, profession, accomplishment, and ambitions. Use these words and phrases throughout your profile. Your heading and your summary are particularly important as these are weighted in LinkedIn’s search engine.

A great LinkedIn branding profile feature enables users to display samples of work, images, video and more. This feature can make your LinkedIn profile more interactive and highly visually engaging.

Be Active

Like Facebook, users in your first-degree network are notified when you like or comment on another’s content and when you post a status update. This can be adjusted in your privacy and security settings. The status update is an excellent tool to distribute industry relevant or professionally interesting content. Your comments, ‘liked’ content and status updates indicate to your network that you are active in your professional specialization.

Group members are notified when you participate in a forum. Good participation might include asking or answering an industry related question, contributing to a conversation, posting an interesting article, etc. Participation in groups is a wonderful way to meet your peers and make new connections.

Third degree connections can now also see your activity when they visit your profile. It’s important to keep your activity professional and relevant (no sick dog updates, no complaints about the office etc.). 3rd degree connections are often your industry peers and might be interested in connecting with you if you have active and insightful content.

There is some debate on how active a strong LinkedIn user should be. General consensus indicates up to two article or ‘large’ content posts a day and at least one a week. Any more than 2 large posts a day risks the appearance of spam, and any less than once a week risks poor visibility. Where you choose to fall in this range should be determined by the activity of your audience; you want to stay on top of the media stream, not dominate the media stream.

Be Relevant

First, determine what information, activities, industries and locations are of most interest to your audience- your network. Typically relevant content incudes trends in your industry, activity by companies in your industry, industry thought leaders’ opinions and tips, new trends for the workplace, internet, technology, or social media, regional, national or international events, industry fairs, tradeshows or conferences, associations or conferences you participated in, etc. Use common sense before posting content or opinions about politics or religion. Screen regional, national, international and industry news for content that might be relevant to your network.

Second, determine what is not relevant. Personal or family issues, religious or political beliefs, your economic or medical condition are typically not relevant. LinkedIn is a professional platform, it’s not for personal or trivial content.

Third, consider what might be of interest. Do you have a hobby, skill, or interest that is not directly related to your work but could be used in a professional setting? Some examples of this could be musical instruments, creative writing, artistic endeavors, architecture, gardening, photography, design, dog breeding/ training, cooking, and map-making to name just a tiny fraction. The trick is to relate these to a professional, regional or industry setting- not a personal setting. Here are some examples. Musical instruments: “there’s a rise in US businesses making traditional musical instruments” or “more workplaces are favorably considering applicants with musical skills”. Not how your daughter had a recital last night and she played ‘chopsticks’ at half speed. Gardening: “more workplaces put effort into landscaping and indoor plant arrangement.” Not about how your roses were attacked by killer slugs. Cooking: “more private schools are hiring catering companies to ensure nutritious, quality meals” or “xxx chef celebrity planned the menu for industry gala”. Not about how you make awesome cakes.

Be Connected

The most important asset that LinkedIn provides is an organized professional network. Everything else is icing to the cake of your professional network. LinkedIn filters your people related searches according to who is in your network. The wider your network the more group and 3rd degree industry peers you can find. By this token, a strong network is one where every individual has taken the time to connect with former classmates and colleagues as well as clients and employed family. The basis of any network should be people you actually know: past and present classmates, colleagues and clients as well as employed family, friends and association or society acquaintances. Joining industry or interest themed groups is an excellent way to expand your network and meet new industry peers.

Having a strong network is not just a bragging right; it is also a strategic advantage. Strong and large are sometimes but not always the same thing. A network of hundreds of people who don’t know you from Adam will be far less useful than 50 connected people in your industry. On the flipside, the larger your network the more aggregated exposure you have. The original purpose of networking is to meet people, be remembered and build relationships of mutual benefit. Try to avoid ‘collecting’ people simply to have a large network. Connections are not like antiques or trading cards: they are to be engaged with, not amassed and squirreled away. The relationships you build from your connections might become the foundation for your career advancement.

Reap the Rewards

These actions also enable recruiters and peers to find you. LinkedIn’s search engine favors profiles that are complete, have wide networks and use specific and relevant key words. LinkedIn users favor people with profile pictures, well written sections, frequent updates and interesting content and are involved in groups.

 

Memorable Impressions for In-Person Interviews

Come Prepared

Do your homework prior to your in-person interview. Research the company and the individual who will be conducting the interview. This insight will assist in your preparation for potential interview questions. Formulate a list of questions that you believe the interviewer will ask, and rehearse answers until you feel comfortable with your responses. Additionally, don’t arrive empty handed to your interview, bring along at least several high-quality copies of your resume.

Dress for Success

You only have one opportunity to make a great first impression and, in a job interview, your attire can make or break your chances of landing that dream job in a mere moment. Research the company and determine its dress code. Regardless of dress code, you can never go wrong with a two-piece suit in solid colors. Before your interview make sure your attire is properly pressed and professionally cleaned.

Make Eye Contact

During the interview always make eye contact. Looking down can express a lack of confidence and, even worse, looking at your watch will make the interviewer believe you are not interested in the position. It’s not necessary to stare but maintaining eye contact is paramount in expressing confidence and interest.

Confidence

Researching the company, making eye contact and wearing the proper attire will go a long way in helping you appear confident during an interview. When answering questions, be honest and always make sure your responses end on a positive note. Additionally be aware of your body language. Sit up straight in a neutral position, avoid nodding excessively and sidestep those nervous fidgeting habits like biting your nails or playing with your hair.

Ask Great Questions

Remember you want to express interest in the company and the position during your in-person interview. During your research, prepare a list of questions that reveal your curiosity about the potential employer. This is the time where you turn the tables and interview the interviewer. While the organization is determining if you match the required qualifications, you must decide if you are interested in moving forward in the hiring process. Asking questions shows the interviewer that you arrived prepared and, additionally, can help you determine if the position is a fit for your skills and personality.

LinkedIn Networking Engagement Tactics

LinkedIn has become a common place networking tool for the savvy professional. As its use becomes more popular, LinkedIn is exposed to misuse from irregular or inexperienced users. Here we share a few networking and network engagement tactics.

Attention Grabbers

A large network is key to LinkedIn search visibility, but an engaged audience is a vital aspect of an effective network in real life. LinkedIn is the top social media platform for professionals and has become commonplace for professionals in the top 20% of their industry. Those succeeding at a high level are very busy and won’t be attracted by random activity. What will grab their attention is a short article that is pithy, insightful, unique and between one and two pages, with a thematically appropriate picture.

This kind of professional promotion has a certain appeal, because it both expands your visibility and indicates a humble awareness of other people’s time.

LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn Groups are a great platform for meeting likeminded professionals and increasing your profile’s search visibility. LinkedIn groups, like LinkedIn 1st degree connections, increase the networked population able to access your profile from within LinkedIn. An engaged audience, however, is key to remaining top of mind with industry peers. LinkedIn groups have specific, clearly defined interests.

Engage your groups with neat quotes, likes,’ comments, and summarized news content or even tasteful industry-related jokes.

State Your Purpose And Stick To It

As social media becomes more widely used, it has begun to develop the same communication-challenges as the rest of the internet: everyone has a voice, so very few are heard. One way to mitigate this is to avoid a classic marketing mistake and cater to the niche audience at hand rather than try to appeal to everyone and wind up interesting no one.

Perhaps the best way to become a though-leader is to have other people quote, like or repost your work. Not only does this instantly grant you wider exposure, but it recognizes and validates your relevance. Distinct, pithy and careful crafted content will win you many more fans than simply ‘liking’ another’s work or updating your profile.

Another way is to show off your excellent work in a colorful, professional format in the LinkedIn projects section.

Asking questions and sharing news in your groups is also another great way to develop a following. Most groups have a mechanic where the most active members get featured on the group’s front page, with links to the conversations they were involved in.

4 Pillars of a Career Enhancing Interview

Getting ready for an interview?

Practice Practice Practice.

Solid interview skills are vital for acquiring new and better jobs, landing a promotion, or even hiring new staff.

Here are 4 pillars of a successful interview.

1) Dialogue.

It’s not enough to answer questions about yourself, you must ask questions about the company. A job interview is never one sided, you are examining the company and culture as well. Solid, thoughtful questions also indicate enthusiasm and industry expertise.

2) Constructed Image.

What cloths you wear, what props you carry, and how you behave should speak less about you as an individual and more about you as a competent, efficient professional. Great interview attire should present you as a ‘blank slate’ so that you can better present and show off your resume, your vocabulary and your experience. Heavy cologne, lots of jewelry, and an unnatural hair color will obscure your achievements and professional potential.

3) Intrepidity.

Miriam Webster defines intrepidity as “characterized by resolute fearlessness, fortitude, and endurance.” Many job seekers get ‘stuck’ in one role or industry despite highly transferable skills. It takes courage to change careers. It takes confidence and thick skin to justify your value and skill in a different position during a job interview. Even when not changing careers, it takes patience and tenacity to seek out, apply and interview for opportunities.

4) Applied Knowledge.

What differentiates professionals with identical educations, similar skills, comparable industry experience and similar compensation packages? The capacity to apply knowledge learned in one context to a different context. This requires extensive creative and critical thinking and enables the growth of a professional to directly benefit the company. This capacity can be demonstrated during an interview through examples of how a skill set learned at one company benefited your work at another company.

Cover Letter Common Sense

A Cover Letter for Your Job Search

87% a hiring manager will skip over your cover letter and move straight to reviewing your resume, but for the 13% of hiring managers who do review your cover letter, the cover letter can be one of the most important parts of landing an interview. Consider a cover letter your introduction to your employer; it is your first impression. Resumes are mandatory for every interview process; cover letters are only required sometimes. Even when a cover letter is not required it is a great way to introduce yourself and show yourself in the best light. Impress potential employers with a polished, sophisticated cover letters to land interviews!

Just like a resume, a cover letter needs to market you and your amazing skills and credentials to a potential employer. Every resume has only a 3-­‐10 second window to grab the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager-­‐ resumes are only read closely if they have passed the initial yes/no assessment. If your cover letter is eye-­‐catching and appealing, your resume could have a much better chance of being read. The more employers and recruiters who actually read your resume, the better chance you have of being invited to an interview and landing a job.

Cover letters are a much more flexible marketing tool than resumes. Your letter can be more story-­‐like and directly create a narrative or image about you as a professional. Your letter should echo the information in your resume, but not repeat it verbatim. Ultimately your cover letter needs to explain 2 things: why you are fit for or bring value to the company/position and why you are interested/enthusiastic about the company/position. You might want to incorporate some of the same language from the “about us” company webpage as well as from the job description. A cover letter should be a page or less; you’ll need to make your point quickly and succinctly.

Cover letters follow a standard business letter format. Your cover letter should have the same letterhead as the “Heading” section of your resume. (Your thank you notes should also have the same letterhead if sent electronically or typed and printed out. Only thank you notes on hand written note cards don’t need the same letterhead.)

All cover letters should be one page. It will contain:

  • A heading
  • A Salutation
  • An introduction
  • 1-3 Body Paragraphs
  • A Closing

A cover letter can be sent by email or by regular mail. Use the same method for your cover letter as you would for your resume. Most organizations require electronic resumes, so you’d send an electronic cover letter as well.

Success Recipe: Concluding an Interview

How do You Manage an Interview Close?

Everyone, from college graduates to seasoned professionals reentering the job market, could benefit from a practicing interview techniques and developing confidence.

One stage of an interview that can’t be overemphasized is the close. The close is where you can recover from mistakes, make up lost ground, or even change the recruiter’s opinion of you.

Do you have a strong close?

The vitality of strong interview closing techniques cannot be overstated. Always close. Always ask “what are the next steps and do you have any concerns about my background?”

For a successful interview candidates must always remember to ask closing questions. These direct questions are a great way to get immediate feedback on the interview, while also allowing the interviewer the opportunity to address any potential concerns he might have. Below are a few strong closing questions that will eliminate any post-interview doubt. These questions are designed to demonstrated professionalism and strong interest. Asking what the next steps are, if there are any concerns and how you compare to other candidates is a great way to lead into your very keen, but not desperate, interest in this position.

Here are some alternate phrases.

  • Do you have any issues or concerns with my background?
  • Based on the information I’ve shared, do you think I would be a good fit? Why or why not?
  • What are the next steps in the process?
  • When should I expect to hear from you?
  • When can I start?
  • On a 1 to 10 scale (10 being best), how do you think I fit this position?

Candidates should always ask closing questions as the interview is winding down, but must always ask for the position. Hiring managers want to know you want the job. When hiring managers interview countless individuals, whom will they remember? They’ll remember the qualified and likable candidate who asks for the position. Directly asking for the position at the end works well for sales positions. (“When can I start?”) It may not work so well for other positions as it may put the interviewer on the spot or seem too aggressive. Instead the three questions: ‘are there any concerns,’ ‘how do I compare’ and ‘what are the next steps?’ provide a powerful way to indirectly ask for the job. It’s eager yet diplomatic.

After the interview, IMEDIATELY send a thank you email, followed by a paper thank you letter. A prompt, thoughtful and well-edited thank you note is extremely important.

Interview Questions: 5 Questions You Should Always Prepare For!

No one can predict the exact interview questions a hiring manager will ask. There are some common “theme” questions an interviewer may ask and the interviewee should always be ready to answer these interview questions!

1) “Tell me about yourself.”

This is the most commonly asked interview question. Keep your answer in the professional realm only. Review your past positions, your education, and any other strengths that pertain to the job. Keep your first response down to 30 seconds or less, and then elaborate as appropriate. Be careful not to ramble. This question is a good way for a hiring manager to understand if you will also be a good cultural fit with their organization.

2) “What do you know about our organization?”

Research is a crucial stage of any interview preparation. Use your research to highlight positive aspects of the company’s growth, it’s philanthropy, it’s stock value, it’s new and long-standing products. Being knowledgeable about a company is the best way to show responsibility, due diligence, and genuine interest.

3) “Why are you interested in this position?”

Relate how you feel your qualifications really match the requirements of the job. It’s always a good idea to go through the job description line by line and write down how your experience matches what the hiring company is looking for. Use your research of the company to support your reasons for wanting to work there.

4) “What have been your most significant career accomplishments to date?”

Have a copy of your resume in front of you before you during the interview process. It is okay to reference your resume if you hit a brain freeze. Highlight some recent accomplishments that relate to this position and its requirements. Describe the benefit to your former company. Be specific, and if you can establish monetary value earned or saved.

5) “Describe a situation in which your work was criticized.”

Behavioral based interview questions are used to understand how the interviewee responds to various situations. Focus on how you solved the situation, and let the interviewer know how you became a better person because of it. Avoid lingering on the actual problem or anything negative.