Job Seekers: Build Your Network to 100 People in Two Days

Most Job Seekers Are Not Networkers

I work with many job seekers and what I see repeatedly are people who think they are networkers. The reason I say they think they are networkers is because I do not see them working at building their LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or any other networks.

As a job seeker you should be growing your network daily. If you are not adding at least 3 to 5 new contacts daily; you are not doing your due diligence. Statistics say that upwards of 70% of jobs are found through networking contacts; but even with that knowledge many job seekers still struggle.

In my non-networking years, I was pathetic. I had many contacts, but I did not have them organized on my behalf. I suffered through long periods of unemployment because I was inept at networking. I believe I have finally matured and it only to 20 years. Learn from my experiences, because I want you to avoid some of the pain.

Why Do I Need to Network? I Have Enough Connections.

There will never be a time when you have enough connections and do not need more. As you progress through your career; your network needs will change. Those that were previously peers may no longer be in that category. Those that were a level or two above you may now be your peers. The industry that you were once in may no longer be your industry. Your connections or you, yourself, have moved; so your needs have changed. Regardless, as change happens, your network must change as well.

It Is Easy to Build Your Network

Building your network to 100 or more connections should happen in no more than two or three days. Simply start by inviting your family members, your friends, your church members, the parents of your children’s friends, your neighbors, former classmates, and members of any other groups or organizations to which you belong. There are hundreds of people who you can invite into your network; so do it!

Do Not Use Default Invitations

Successful invitations are personalized. DO NOT USE the default invitations provided by LinkedIn, Facebook, or any others. You need to reach out to these people to get them to respond and accept your invite. Let them know how you know them – build the bridge.

Where to Next?

Once people start accepting your invitations look through their Friends or Connections list for people you know and invite those people into your network. Again use the personalized invitations identifying how you found them and how you know them.

Tell Your Connections the Type of Connections That You Want

Let your Friends and Connections help you build your network by telling them the type of people who you are looking to add. If they know of anyone meeting your criteria or that they believe would be a great connection would they please arrange an on-line introduction for LinkedIn or a Friend suggestion for Facebook.

Do Not Be Shy

This is no time to be shy or use that as an excuse. When you are unemployed you must be willing to step outside your comfort zone and make connections. Identify the places where potential employers and hiring managers can be found and go there. Whether it is a face-to-face meeting place or an on-line site; you cannot afford to be missing in action. Whatever it takes; get yourself to that location!

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Job Search – Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs

Do You Believe in Yourself?

When you are unemployed one of the biggest challenges you face is the lack of belief in yourself. I constantly encounter job seekers that are full of self-doubt and lack confidence. Why are they like that? Have they always suffered from those issues? In some cases yes, but many times it is something new for them.

The sad part is that when you get down on yourself, there are many people that are more than happy to reinforce what you are feeling. How do you remove yourself from that situation? What can you do to get yourself on the right track?

Recognizing Your Self-Limiting Beliefs

You are dealing with some type of self-limiting belief that is holding you back. Whether you believe that your skills are out of date, that you cannot network because that is not who you are, maybe you believe that you are too old, it could be that you simply believe you do not know the right people, or whatever. You are dealing with the problem of some self-limiting beliefs and it may be killing your chances.

So what is it the challenge that you are facing? What are your self-limiting beliefs? What is standing in the way of the success that you deserve?

It is critical that you go through the exercise of self-evaluation to honestly identify the belief or beliefs that are holding you back. Until you complete this process you will continue to be stymied or at least experience less than satisfactory success in your job search.

My Story

A few years ago I was let go from a job and I believed the action was unjustified and more a response to my asking too many questions, that were proving to be embarrassing for the CEO, than anything to do with my performance. I had a hard time letting go of the situation and I know that it contributed to at least one lost opportunity. In fact, the hiring manager mentioned to my recruiter that I seemed to be having difficulty discussing the job loss.

Subsequently while I still labored trying to find my next opportunity I started questioning my skill set, my age, and countless other things. None of those were my actual problem, my problem was my belief system. I heard people raising these issues and chose to subscribe to their negative thoughts; instead of believing in myself.

It was a very difficult period and my self-limiting beliefs were not helping. I allowed anyone and everyone to reinforce those beliefs which caused me to spiral even more. It wasn’t until I came to grips with what I was doing to myself before I could finally move forward.

So What Is Your Story; What Is Holding You Back?

I have told you my story, what is yours? What are the self-limiting beliefs that you are allowing to stand in your way? Can you identify them? Are you even willing to identify them? When you can step up to that challenge and face those realities; you will then be ready to overcome your self-limiting beliefs.

As you go through the analysis do not be afraid or surprised if you identify multiple self-limiting challenges; it is not unusual. Face them, do not hide from them; you cannot overcome the issues if you cannot acknowledge them.

If you have difficulty identifying the issues or they seem to difficult to overcome; you may need to enlist the help of a career coach or someone that you can trust to be honest and open with you. Whatever the case; you must take the necessary action so that you can move forward.

The Value of Your LinkedIn Connections

The Value of Your LinkedIn Connections.

Here are four ideas that you can put to use immediately to make LinkedIn work for you.

  • The use of keywords in your profile, job titles, summary, current position, etc are key to great search results. Make those keywords consistent as long as they do not change the accuracy of your profile. If you were an IT Security Consultant; you should try to avoid having other entries as an IT Security Project Manager. The repetitiveness of the keywords will raise your Search Ranking and therefore your placement in the results. Read my Blog Post The Value of Using Keywords in Your LinkedIn Profile.
  • Build your connections – when you add LinkedIn connections you are increasing your sphere of influence. Your LinkedIn connections are just the tip of the iceberg; you know the part that is out of the water. As with icebergs, the strength lies in the part that you cannot see. If you have 100 of your own connections you are connected to a several thousand below the water line.
  • LinkedIn’s search capabilities are an untapped resource for most job seekers. For a simple experiment go to the search box, pull down and select companies, and click search. I guarantee you will be amazed at the number of companies that come up. You will only see those where you have contacts of current or previous employees. Next select a company and look at the details. You will find the names and level of contact for each of those companies. You can also find the open positions within that company.
  • For the companies that you have targeted; look at the profiles of current employees and find out the groups they have joined. Join the groups and be an active participant so your name has the opportunity to get in front of the current employees. If you see something in the news about that company; you can use this group connection as a means to reach out to the individuals and share what you have learned. Just because they work for the company does not mean they hear all the news. A good way to get the latest is by setting up a Google alert on the company and even key employees.
  • Stay tuned for more ideas on how you can use LinkedIn or other Social Networking sites to enhance your job search.

    Avoid LinkedIn Mistakes by Doing the Following

    Do Not Waste Your LinkedIn Presence

    I recently read an article on the 13 LinkedIn Mistakes You Should Avoid by Suzanne Vara.

    In her posting Suzanne reinforces points that I have made regarding the importance of your LinkedIn Profile.

    I am adding my additional commentary on Suzanne’s points.

    1. You must personalize your profile using the profile edit capability and changing the default URL.
    2. Identify your personal and company websites with the specific name, do not use the defaults of “My Company” and “My Website”.
    3. Do not flag your profile as private, unless you really do not want to be found. You should have a public profile that can be found by the Search Engines.
    4. Join Groups – this is the way to reach your target community. You can join a maximum of 50 groups, but sub-groups do not count toward that maximum.
    5. Participate in group discussions – Groups are your opportunity to establish yourself as an expert and to spread your sphere of influence. The more people that you reach the greater your chance of accomplishing your goals.
    6. Ask and Answer Questions – Your goal should be to again establish yourself as an expert and as someone that recognizes that you do not know it all and others can help. Graciously give and receive.
    7. Do not link every tweet. This is a hard one, because you want to give your connections a complete picture of yourself, but because this is a business community you want to keep somewhat of a business focus. Connect to your Twitter account and if you want your status on LinkedIn add #in to the end of the Tweet.
    8. Connect to your company page – If your CURRENT COMPANY does not have a page you can create one. The caveat here is to use the OFFICIAL name that other employees will use. You cannot create a company page for a company where you no longer work.
    9. Create a complete profile that tells your story. Make sure you add your picture so people finding your profile will know that it is you. You do not want your brand scarred because you failed to differentiate and somebody less reputable was associated with your brand.
    10. LinkedIn is for connecting; not blatant selling. Do not turn people off with an immediate sales pitch. This is where discussions and Q&A are so important. When you have a solution that will help with a problem; then the selling can start.
    11. Keep your status current. Do not let it sit idle for months on end. That practice shows that you are not involved or committed to LinkedIn.
    12. When you start a conversation and someone comments; you must comment in return. Do not leave your participants hanging waiting for a reply.
    13. Give recommendations and once given you may ask for recommendations. Make sure that the recommendations you give are relevant and help to tell the individual’s story. “Jack is a great guy and you will be lucky to have him in your organization” is not a powerful recommendation. Tell people what Jack accomplished so they can get an accurate picture of Jack. Also, give Jack a chance to comment and request changes to your recommendation. You do not want the recommendation to become a fabrication, but you do want to work with Jack; so he will be willing to work with you on your recommendation.

    My Additions to Suzanne’s List

    1. Increase the value of your network – “Weak” connections constitute the primary value of your network. Yes, your first level connections are valuable, but the real value are the connections belonging to your first and second level connections.
    2. The use of keywords in your profile, job titles, summary, current position, etc are key to great search results. Make those keywords consistent as long as they do not change the accuracy of your profile. If you were an IT Security Consultant; you should try to avoid having other entries as an IT Security Project Manager. The repetitiveness of the keywords will raise your Search Ranking and therefore your placement in the results.
    3. Suzanne pointed out that you have a limit that you can only join 50 groups (again not including sub-groups). Considering that limit do not waste your group options. If a group is not actively discussing topics and contributing information; find another group! Belonging to an inactive group will not build your brand or increase your sphere of influence.
    4. Create your own groups; as the group owner you have more opportunities to communicate and increase your sphere of influence. Make sure, however, that your group is active by your own and other’s posts.
    5. If you attempt to join a group and it takes an eternity for approval; do not waste your time. Find another group or start your own group on the same topic.

    Read Suzanne’s post for her perspectives on the subject.

    Email Tom and visit UPPROACH to receive more Social Networking tips for businesses and job seekers.

    Copyright UPPROACH, 2010

    Are You Prone to Attitude Discrimination?

    What is your attitude about your job search?

    Are you excited and optomistic or hesitant and doubtful?

    Job seekers often do not understand that they will typically wear their attitude on their sleeve. The interviewer can see it; it can even come through in your resume or cover letter. Job seekers that present themselves as excited and optomistic; will 9 times out of 10 win the job; and the time they do not win, probably it was not what they wanted in the first place.

    So where are you in this spectrum?

    When you have an attitude of hesitancy and doubt; you will sabotage your possibilities and your opportunities. The successful job seeker goes into every job search and interview expecting to be offered the position; once offered they can take time to evaluate the offer and whether it is right for them.

    I have been there!

    I know that this is true, because I have been a victim to my own self doubt and hesitancy and it has cost me opportunities. Granted some were opportunities where I was not excited and it showed and I honestly did not care one way or the other. Others were situations where I was excited about the opportunity, but I did not present well in all of the interviews.

    Poor Attitudes Result in Rejection

    The problem is that when you have this preconceived notion or attitude the recruiters and hiring managers can see it. They have seen it before and they are recognizing it again. If the job seeker has a negative attitude when they are in the interviewing process; what will it be like once they are on the job? Managers and recruiters do not want to run this risk; so they reject the candidate.

    Why add a negative influence into the work environment?

    Why would a company want to introduce what it appears to be a negative attitude into the workplace. The reality is that the company already has enough bad attitudes and they do not need one more. Is this discrimination on the part of the recruiters and hiring managers? Absolutely not; the best choice is to move on to the next candidate and hope for a better option.

    There are other fish in the sea!

    In today’s job market especially; there are many other job seekers and some will have greater potential. That being the case it is better for the recruiter, hiring manager, the organization, and probably for the individual as well; to move on and look for another candidate.

    Examining attitudes

    Here are some attitudes that will stand in the way of your being successful in your job search:

    1. You cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    2. I have paid my dues; what more do you want from me?
    3. I have over 20 years experience; I know the answers!
    4. My experience speaks for itself; I’m not interested in jumping through your hoops.
    5. You don’t like older people; do you?
    6. Why do you want me to do it that way; I’ve been doing it like this for 20 years and never had any problems!
    7. I don’t like to learn new things.
    8. I have some great ideas on how you can do this better.
    9. My last boss was … (fill in the blank)
    10. How much time off do I get?
    11. How hard do you expect me to work?
    12. I will do anything you ask, but … (fill in another blank)
    13. Tell me about your benefit package

    Obviously the list can continue ad infinitum and you are welcome to add your comments to this list.

    In summary; your attitude will have a far greater impact on whether you get the job than will your grey hair and wrinkles. These are tough times for job seekers and to be successful you must move beyond the idea that your biggest problem is your age; because that is probably NOT your biggest problem. Be open to self evaluation and examine everything about you before jumping to the “age discrimination” conclusion.

    Have a great career!

    Age Discrimination Or Attitude Discrimination – Which is It?

    I understand the issue of age discrimination; I have even considered and stated it to be an issue. I am also sure that there are occasions when age discrimination occurs.

    Is it age or attitude discrimination?

    After some of my recent conversations I have come to rethink that mindset and see it more likely as an attitude problem or an excuse for not getting a job; “they did not want me because I am too old.” The excuse works; it is acceptable; people do not question it – not only do they not question it; they will offer it for you!

    What I see

    What I see, in my role as a career and job counselor, is the fact that those that have proven themselves over a long career often want to and some even feel they deserve to – rest on their laurels. At the same time those doing the hiring have become accustomed to and come to expect and choose to avoid even a hint of that mentality. If there is any suspicion of the “coasting” mentality; the avoidance mechanism kicks in and the recruiter/hiring manager moves on.

    I frequently hear comments from those in the over 50 group about 3, 5, or 7 years and then heading off for retirement. Those doing the hiring interpret that as someone that is looking to “serve out” their time and then move on to what they really want to do. The coasting mindset does not serve anyone; least of all the job seeker.

    What business wants

    Businesses want people that are hungry, want to contribute, and even have a desire to once more make a name for them. Whether that is or is not the typical mindset of the older person; many have decided that it is the mindset.

    Another issue is that those doing the hiring see the older person as having a salary expectation that may be consistent with past performance, but question whether it will be consistent with future performance? The job seeker has this perception that, “the businesses do not want to pay me what I am worth.” Is that the case or is it that the business wants to give good value and be sure they will receive good value in return? Again, I believe it is the latter. Employees are an investment and like any investment there must be a positive return on that investment.

    If there is any suspicion that future performance will not meet the expectations of need; it is off to another candidate. Hiring managers simply do not know what to expect and if there are any doubts will rule a candidate out. What those doing the hiring truly want to know is what can and will you do for them and is the benefit worth the cost?

    What is your commitment?

    How committed are you going to be; when you make a comment about something for the next 3 – 7 years? Does that sound like the commitment you would want? Would you hire that person? You must look at your comments, qualifications, and mindset from the business perspective.

    The age 65 and out mentality

    Part of the problem is the perceived retirement age of 65; this is a psychological barrier for the older employee and for the hiring manager as well. Just this last week I was listening to a sports commentator discussing Bobby Bowden at Florida State and whether it was time for him to step down; he is 80. Many people think it is time, but because of Bowden’s tenure; Florida State says it is up to him to determine the time and place.

    It may be time for Bowden to go, but interestingly in a few areas the “65” factor does not apply: sports coaches and managers, politicians, physicians, clergy, speakers and motivational speakers, consultants, and some others. But without fail it applies to employees of a business. If you are over 50 there is that business perception and maybe it is a misperception, but perception none the less; that you will be retiring soon and simply want to coast.

    The “Coasting” mentality

    There are coasting jobs such as greeters at Wal-Mart or jobs at McDonalds. This is not meant as a negative for Wal-Mart and McDonalds; those are just not career positions and neither is the 3 – 7 years and out mindset. The Wal-Mart and McDonalds jobs for many simply present the opportunity to get out meeting, greeting, and doing something worthwhile.

    What are you doing to improve?

    What you must decide is whether you have the desire to contribute and are willing to demonstrate that to the person doing the hiring. If you are an older and especially if you are unemployed these are some ideas of what you could be doing:

        * Adding value to your offerings.
        * Reading relevant materials to your job.
        * Getting that additional education you need.
        * Presenting yourself as a contributor.
        * Identifying your chronological history of contributions.
        * Being active with charitable, non profit, church related, or other activities.
        * Learning new skills or technologies.
        * Teaching yourself new skills with computers or Microsoft applications.
        * Networking with current and past friends and coworkers.
        * Helping others through education and mentoring.

    Do you need to reassess

    It is time for the over 50 crowd to reassess how they are presenting themselves. Are you looking like a contributor; somebody that will add to the organization or do you present as someone just waiting to call it quits. If you are unsure or there is any doubt; it is time for you to reassess.

    Effective Resumes – Above the Fold is Prime Real Estate; Do Not Waste It!

    I am in the process of reviewing three resumes and each one is wasting the prime real estate. By the time I reach the fold I have not read anything that catches or keeps my attention. Because I help develop resumes I will continue to read and provide advice for improvement.

    Effective resumes are difficult to write; the writer often gets wrapped up in impressing themselves instead of impressing the potential reader. There are many areas of the resume that I can write about; but in this article I will focus on the area above the fold.

    First of all it is important to identify yourself and how best to contact you, but it is a waste of space to use one line for your name, another for your street address, the next for your city and state, followed by your telephone number, and finally your email address. A much more effective format is:

    1. Center your name – this should be your full name with a middle initial or name in bold and a slightly larger font size
    2. On the left side put your street address and on the right side put your preferred telephone number
    3. On the left side put your city, state, and zip code and on the right side put your email address
    4. Center the job title, if you are responding to an advertised position put that title – do not leave the recruiter wondering – again this is in bold and a slightly larger font size

    After identifying yourself and the position you are seeking you can include an objective, but only if it addresses what you will do for your new employer. Recruiters and hiring managers do not care if you have 20 years experience. What they care about is what you can do for them. For instance:

    IT Project Manager with a track record of completing enterprise projects on time and under budget seeking next opportunity. Experienced in creating successful organizational project management mentality increasing project acceptance and success.

    Then you must create a strong Professional or Career Summary section. This should be 4 to 6 bullets that highlight what you have accomplished.

        *Organized and managed IT SOX Compliance programs eliminating prior year defects and generating successive “Clean SOX audits” for the past two years
        *Reorganized six enterprise projects and brought to completion in 9 months teaching project management skills to team members
        *Rescued enterprise IT infrastructure upgrade project and completed roll out in 7 months training four support teams in the process
        *Managed integration and migration of six legacy email systems generating over 6,000 messages per hour into Lotus Notes
        *Recognized by: HQ US Air Force and HQ Strategic Air Command for Superior Performance; IBM as Regional Rookie of the Year; Novell as Outstanding Educator; Graduated Cum Laude simultaneous with Service in the Air Force

    Following these examples will get the attention of your reader; if those are the skills they require. If those are your skills but not what the organization requires; you will not get the attention you are seeking because you are not what they need. Do not get hung up on the idea that you were rejected because that is not what happened; they just did not or do not realize the need for your skills. It is time to move on!

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