Unemployment Tips

Today, I’ll talk about the unemployment process as explained to me in a career center.  Now, it isn’t anything new to me, but there are certain things that have changed since the ’08/’09 era.  So here are the top three things to keep in mind.

REA process – This is something kind of new.  REA stands for Reemployment & Eligibility Assessment.  Long gone are the days of your unemployment getting extended so you better be on your A-game.  What’s happened is that the US government has started to take a true interest in reemploying its citizens, as many other countries have done for years.  For a long while only about 30% of the unemployed had to take part in this assessment, now it’s grown to 80% and as a gentleman in the Brockton career center stated, it’s only a matter of time until everyone will be included.  You are required to attend a seminar and sign up with a local career center.  You will then be required to come back in and show how you’ve been looking for work, a little more on that below, show your resume and a sample cover letter to your assigned councilor, and sign up for a seminar.  I suggest taking a look at all the centers around you as they might all have slightly different offerings.  One near me even had an expert level LinkedIn course which I would be very interested in if time allowed.  You won’t be able to get away by not taking these steps, because the threat of your unemployment ending if you don’t complete these actions is real!

Keep track of where you apply – Oh my gosh, I cannot state this enough.  Someone who sat next to me in that first session had no idea where he applied and who he had interviewed with and now had to fill out a work search log as part of his REA process.  First and foremost, who cares about the process?  You need to have a spreadsheet or a folder on a thumb drive or on your computer that has a list of the places you’ve applied to.  I create subfolders for the jobs I send cover letters to and then have another Word doc with the actual job description.  I then move files to other folders titled Rejections or Interviews.  Good grief, I’d have NO idea how to be at all professional and get ready for an interview if someone called me about a job I applied to but had no record of.

3 days, 3 different ways – The key to success in your work search log is to keep a running spreadsheet of where you’ve applied and when.  Now the trick is, and you can’t get away with something else is that you have to list three different days and three different ways you looked for work.  It’s a bit crazy in this day and age where everything is done online but you can be creative and call things something other than “web” and state that you’re networking.  I will say that it has pushed me to do some “unconventional” things in order to achieve the three different ways.

Good luck and KEEP TRACK OF WHERE YOU APPLY!

The Ever Changing Job Search – Should You Add a Headshot to Your Resume?

Back in the days when I was living in Spain and applying for an internship everyone found it odd that you had to attach a headshot with your resume.  We all searched for, or took, professional photos of ourselves, or as close to it as we could get and figured out a way to attach them to our resumes, or CV’s.  Still today, that would probably be taking it a step too far here in the U.S. even though we all know full well that the hiring managers or recruiters are probably looking on social media to find what we all look like and get a better sense for who we are as people.

One aspect of it is “privacy” which we all know we don’t have anyway.  The other aspect of it is resume readers that may be thrown off and not be able to read your resume for keywords because of the attached image.

So, what now? Any recruiters out there that could weigh in on this?

Most Unique Interview Questions

How many gum balls are in the US?

If I was given $1,000, what kind of career/educationally expanding course would I use it for?

I’ve been given a number of difficult or thought provoking questions, but these two have stuck with me.  In the first case, the interviewer wasn’t looking for a real answer. He was looking to see how I would react to such a question and then what my thought process would be to get to an answer.  The role needed someone who could make some quick assumptions, that could be fact checked later, but the thought process was the key.  How would you get to a hypothetical answer?

The second one I had to complement the recruiter on as I’ve never heard that one either.  I’m not sure what the goal of the answer was but my assumption would be that they are looking for someone who is always looking to know and learn more.  So if you don’t have any future goals then you may not be the right fit. What course have you been pining after?

Good luck!

Performing a Social Media Audit

The above sounds so easy, no?  Well, it can be but only if you do it all the time.  If the only thing you are doing while managing a, or several, social media account(s) for your business is posting or tweeting and failing to constantly be keeping an eye on metrics and the competition then you might be in for a rude awakening when your web traffic doesn’t grow, or you’re not getting as many conversions, or the conversation stops.

So what do you need to do?  I’m in the camp of constant monitoring of everything.  Ask anyone I have recently worked with and they’d say if someone mentioned metrics or being able to show an ROI for a marketing related activity then “I knew Linda would be happy.”  But it’s true!  It’s so difficult to prove the point of marketing.  It’s a lot of gobeldygook and “awareness” and “impressions.” But luckily, in this day and age you can even measure PR!

So what should you be doing?

Here are my 5 easy steps (also check out my Social Media sections, particularly the post titled The Statistics That Matter)

1. Create not only a monthly posting calendar but also a plan – what are you hoping to achieve this month? Set some goals and drive towards them.

2. What’s trending? What are people in your universe talking about? Make sure to weigh in on the topic, if applicable of course.

3. Measure, measure, measure.  Take the end of each week to assess progress and see what you’re doing well and what needs a bit of love.

4. Be flexible.  Don’t be so ridged in your planning that you don’t allow for spur of the moment changes.

5. Keep an eye on the competition.  What are they doing that could be interesting to look into?  What can you do better? How can you stand out?

Now, when looking at a full on audit, here is some expert advice that I’ll be sure to use:

10 Basic Steps to Perform a Social Media Audit
Performing a Social Media Audit
How to Perform a Social Media Audit
How to Perform a Social Media Audit Even if You Hate Audits

Performing a Brand Audit

I had a recent conversation with someone who said that when he started on as a marketing manager he took it upon himself to perform a full on brand audit and ended up learning more about the company and its brands than most people.  Now, I’ve been involved in re-branding exercises, and VOC’s but I haven’t really performed a brand audit in its true nature.  Knowing that this is something that could bring tremendous value to a brand I decided to explore what it means to perform a true multi-step brand audit.

In my search, I came across a few sources, which I’ll cite as I go but the one that came up first, due to its great SEO, was a post from Miles Design.  So get ready and get your pencils out! (P.S. Speaking of pencils, and you’ll understand why later, have you checked out my Hire Me! section of the blog?)

What is the purpose of a brand audit?

The purpose behind a brand audit is plain and simple: to gain a fundamental understanding of where your brand stands in its current state.

When and why should we audit our brand?

The majority of business go through the process of auditing their brand when they have a vested interest in making a change within their organization. Maybe they’re rebranding, or refreshing their current look. This would be a perfect time to take a look at your current brand and see where it has shifted since its inception. Perhaps an organization is unhappy with their internal communication and employee relations. A smart CEO or CMO might take that opportunity to judge what their brand stands for, who they are as a company and what they need to do from a communications stand point to fix the internal problems or issues.

Brand Audit Example

An extensive brand audit should look at the following categories:

Internal

  • Positioning
  • Brand Values
  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP), brand promise, or brand essence
  • Voice
  • Culture
  • Product / Service positioning

 External

  • Corporate Identity – logos and other brand elements
  • Collateral-brochures, print materials, trade show displays, etc.
  • Advertising
  • Website
  • SEO
  • Social Media
  • Sponsorships/civic-involvement/memberships
  • News/PR
  • Content Marketing and other assets – blogs, white papers, case studies, articles, books, etc.
  • Testimonials
  • Videos

 Systems

  • Corporate identity/brand standards
  • HR policies/on-boarding process
  • Sales processes/touch points
  • Internal systems
  • Customer service systems

 Do the math.

How many new clients/projects would you have to win to justify the costs of a rebrand?

For most professional service firms, one or two clients would be more than enough to justify the investment.

Below are some additional resources:
Conducting an Effective Brand Audit – Ignition Consulting Group
Critical Steps When Conducting a Brand Audit – 8 Ways Media

P.S. The next blog post will be about conducting a social media audit so come on back!

Thinking Outside the Application Box

Everyone is fully capable of sending their resumes into the black hole. But are there things you can do to try and stand out? I mean really?  What’s the worst that can happen?  Maybe you won’t get a call back? You were potentially on that path anyway so be spontaneous and think outside the box.

After all, and I digress slightly, if you are on unemployment then you are potentially on or will be on the REA program which requires you to conduct your search on three different days in three different ways.  I’ll go into all of that another day but none the less.

So what can you do?  I’m going to suggest you try that free premium job seeker plan on LinkedIn.  Try it out for free for the first 30 days and see what happens.  The first time I tried it, I was able to send an inmail to a director of HR at a company I was interested in.  I never ever expected that he would get back to me and I certainly didn’t think that he might have a lead on a job for me.  Long story short I got pretty far in the process but unfortunately not all of the stars aligned.  But guess what, I just bucked up and paid for another 30 days through LinkedIn because I think it’s worth a shot in the dark.

How about dropping by?  Perhaps you’ve already applied somewhere you’d love to work but haven’t heard back yet, or had a conversation with a recruiter but things seem to have fizzled out.  Why not take an extra step and gather up all of your portfolio items and drop them off with the receptionist.  Now this can go two different ways, right?  A) someone might think you’re a bit nutty for dropping by B) someone might think that you’re really serious and a go getter.  Either way, the only bad thing that might happen is that you may not hear from those folks again, but by the sounds of it, perhaps things were heading that way anyway.  So take a risk!

Also, don’t forget about networking like crazy, or start being an influencer on LinkedIn and blogging to get your name out there, go to networking events, volunteer, follow influencers on twitter and start a conversation with them.  All of these things will pay off in the end.

Go get em tiger! :)

Must Have: Sense of Humor

I’ve been seeing this “requirement” on a few job descriptions and find it kind of funny.  Is anyone going to tell you that they are boring?  It’s kind of like asking for references, in my opinion.  No one is going to give you a list of references who they don’t know or know that they’ll speak highly of them.  At least I hope not…

It certainly is encouraging that hiring managers are looking for someone with this “skill” but how do you convey it to them without looking foolish? Perhaps you can use the cover letter to open with something funny?

How about: “A horse walks into a bar…I’m kidding. I understand that one of the ideal qualities of your new digital marketing manager is humor. I know there are other ways I can show you my funny side but I couldn’t pass up opening with something catchy.”

Perhaps you simply try to throw in a funny saying in your interview?  Or just try to be loose and easy going?  How are you responding to this in your search?