What is Your Biggest Weakness?

Summer weather is finally here!  I am so thrilled to wear my summer clothes again…for a few days there I was wondering if I should take one last ski trip up north.

How did you like the guest post about Informational Interviews by my friend Sai? I thought the tips were very helpful and I know I would always wonder, “is this a job interview?  Should I ask about openings?”  Thank you Sai for giving us a little more insight!

Speaking of interviews, I came across an article which directly addressed the “weakness” question. I think we could all use help with knowing how to answer this question without looking like we are either feeding the interviewer BS or making ourselves look like we are unprepared for some major part of the job.

The article states, “Employers are looking for stand-outs in the interview process. Knock-em-deads who bring new ideas to the table and address problems with creativity and confidence. Hence, the individual who answers an interview question with a cliché fails on that count.”

With the employers being the buyers of us, the product, they know full well that products have some failures.  Don’t say that you have no weaknesses.  If that answer doesn’t bite you in the butt now, it may later.  Instead, focus on a genuine weakness that you have perhaps taken ways to fix. For example, if you are known to juggle lots of work and projects and have previously had a hard time working through all of them, you should talk about how you have implemented a new way of being organized.  However, don’t talk about being late and hence you have three alarms set up in your bedroom.

At the end of the day, just be yourself and come prepared.  That’s all you can do!

Read more about Outmanning the Weakness Question on the Doostang site.  And in case you didn’t know, it’s Networking week so get out there and network!

Well, I am off to sunny Florida this weekend so I will not be writing tomorrow or Monday.  Thank you all for a another big day yesterday.  82 of you logged on!

Have a wonderful summery weekend and what did you do today?

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Informational Interviews

There is one thing I have not written about or experienced and that would be informational interviews.  My friend Sai and I have been keeping in touch, I have mentioned her in a number of my posts, and she suggested that she share her experience via my blog.  I hope you enjoy the following tips, I know I did!

(I look forward to others sharing their experience and advice and would be thrilled to add your posts to my “Guest Posts” section!)

The Informational Interview

The informational interviews are a great way to gain insight into your industry and network. These interviews have been especially helpful for me as I’m in a niche industry and well, the more people you know the better your chances are of finding a job! Plus, I’ve received some great book recommendations and met some great people along the way!

Over the past few months I’ve conducted about 20 interviews and written e-mails to 50 people who are in the industry. Since sharing is caring, here are my tips on how to conduct a great informational interview.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid: It’s hard to reach out to someone you don’t know, but odds are they are happy to help! Most people I’ve spoken with love talking about their experience and helping out someone new to the industry. So, don’t be afraid, shoot them an e-mail and ask them for an informational interview.
  2. This is NOT a job interview: This is probably the most important point to remember. While you should keep your best face forward and conduct your interview in a business like manner, remember this is NOT a job interview. Under no circumstances should you ask for a job, unless your interviewee brings it up.
  3. Be Organized: I tend to contact a lot of people, so I have an Excel spreadsheet of who I’ve contacted, the method in which I’ve contacted them and if they’ve responded back. Once you’ve scheduled an interview, follow up with that person a day before confirming your appointment and provide them with a brief agenda of the questions you’d like to cover during the interview. This is a great way to demonstrate that you’re an organized individual and gives them an opportunity to prep for your interview. Finally, once your call is finished, send them a thank you note and add them to your contact list on LinkedIn.
  4. Who else do you know? At the end of your informational interview, always ask, “Do you have someone you could recommend to me who may provide additional insights into this industry?” This question is KEY because it helps you to expand your network.  If possible, see if this person will introduce you to the new contact themselves via e-mail as this helps to establish ties between the two contacts.
  5. Don’t Give Up: I’ve had a lot of people not write back to me after I’ve contacted them and that’s OK! A lot of people are wary about giving informational interviews or simply do not have time. Just keep on going through your LinkedIn groups and try to find people who are in the industries you want to be in. Its hard work, in fact it’s a full time job, but it will pay off in the end.

The pay off to the informational interview is three-fold. You gain insight into your industry without having to work there, make contacts who will probably keep you in mind if a position should pop up and you practice your interviewing skills. Overall, informational interviews have provided me with a lot of insight into my industry and helped me make some useful contacts. I highly recommend it for all of you out there looking to rejuvenate your job search process!

About the author: Sailaja N. Joshi is a Freelance Consumer Anthropologist for hire and is currently living in Cambridge, MA. When not researching, she can be found blogging regularly at Le Sigh, cooking and teaching yoga.

What did you do today?

Seeking Work!

Over the weekend I read that the sandwich board job hunter finally found a job.  Although there are still a number of venues I have not explored in terms of job searching, such as going on informational interviews or standing on a corner of a street with a sandwich board that has my resume printed on it, I felt a little defeated today. I went out for a run to clear my mind and decided that I should reach out to you all.

**********************************************************************************************************

I am looking for a Marketing Communications/Manager or Product/Brand Manager position.

I’ve had experience in product management as well as international marketing communications.

As you all know, I just received my Inbound Marketing Professional certification.  What does that mean?  Basically it means that I know about basic SEO, blogging, social media, lead conversion, lead nurturing, and closed-loop analysis.  I would love to be able to use social media to help a company market its product or service.

I love the outdoors, sports, fashion, photography and food.

**********************************************************************************************************

Tomorrow it’s back to giving advice but today I am looking for your help and appreciate any and all advice!  Feel free to e-mail me at linda_blogs@yahoo.com.

Thank you all a million and, what did you do today?

The New Age Job Search

I know that I’ve talked about social media, networking and using outlets other than Career Builder and LinkedIn to find your next job.  Well, in my research I’ve come across a great article that talks about the seven social media secrets.

The writer, Dan Schawbel, says that applying through the traditional job boards should only consume 10% of your time, the other 90% should be spent on doing the following:

1. Conduct a People Search Instead of a Job Search: According to Dan, and I agree, hiring managers already have a list of employee referrals they need to weed through before they even look at the applications from people who have applied on line and in addition, 80% of the jobs are taken through networking.
Here is the 3-step people search:
1. Identify the top five companies that you would like to work for.
2. Use search engines to track employees that currently work there.
3. Connect with the person directly.

2. Use Attraction-Based Marketing to Get Job Offers: “The traditional way of searching for a job was proactive, forcing you to start a job that you might not have enjoyed.  The new approach is about building a powerful personal brand and attracting job opportunities directly into your doorstep.”  Dan says that to achieve this you need to become a content producer instead of a content consumer.  His best idea of doing this is to create a blog and center it around your expertise and passions.  I guess I can check that off, but what about all these jobs that are supposed to be on my doorstep?

3. Be Proactive on Twitter: In order to be taken seriously, and be successful, you need to first complete your profile on Twitter.  Make sure to have a short bio and contact info where a recruiter or hiring manager can contact you.

4. Capitalize on LinkedIn: I have already talked about the great powers of LinkedIn in my previous entry, Lead Generation Via LinkedIn, and this article confirms my beliefs.  Recruiters are using LinkedIn because, like Craigslist, it’s free and the top professionals are on there.  Make sure to get a recommendation “which will give you a ‘1’ next to a ‘thumbs up’ graphic when people search for you.”

5. Advertise Your Brand Using AdWords and Facebook Social Ads: Before you plan on running an ad make sure you have a landing page, such as your blog. Facebook Social Ads are more word-of-mouth friendly because they will travel through the news feed.  I have to say, I’ve never thought of making an ad about myself…maybe it’s something to consider.

6. Construct a Video Resume and Upload it to YouTube: “A search for ‘video resume’ on YouTube will give you over 13,700 results…A good video resume is short, describes the value you can contribute to a given position, explains why you’re the best person for the job and talks about your background in a story-like format.”

7. Subscribe to Blogs That Have Job Listings: “This targeting will save you from hours of searching and help escort you to jobs that you’d actually want.”

I thought I’d just give you a short synopsis of the 7 secrets but you should read the whole article by Dan Schawbel about his 7 Secrets to Getting Your Next Job Using Social Media.

Looking for some other interesting tips?  Check out my Facebook group Jobs.Ideas.Networking for how you can use typical dating advice and put it towards landing your next job!

Have a fantastic weekend and…what did you do today?

Getting Stumped, Anecdotes About Interviews Past

How great is it when the weather people are wrong and we get another day of sunshine!?!  I hope you are enjoying this Earth Day outdoors!

I wanted to talk about getting stumped by interview questions today.   I’ve been on a number of interviews where I’ve just been completely flabbergasted by the questions that were asked.  Even if you guys don’t have advice about how I could have answered some of these questions I’d simply like to pass on my experience and hopefully help all of you prepare for your interviews!

1. I applied for a position at an outdoor equipment company.  With my love for the outdoors I was extremely excited about this opportunity. I figured I finally found “the” job that would fill both my love for sports and marketing.  While speaking with one of the interviewers I was asked on a number of occasions, “What’s keeping you here?” “Why have you stayed in Boston?” “Will you move out of the suburbs?” I’m not entirely sure what this had to do with the position and why I needed to answer in three different ways.  I like Boston, isn’t that enough?

In the same interview I explained that I love the outdoors and hence my interest in the company.  This was followed up by “That’s great, but in that case, the last two companies you worked at were not in the outdoor industry.Why?”  No, they were not, but they were two very big companies and I got fantastic experience…I was shocked.  Was I expected to hold out until I found a dream job?

2. At another interview I wasn’t so much shocked by the questions but more by the whole situation.  I walked in with the intent of interviewing with someone in HR and one other person.  When I was greeted by the HR girl she walked me towards my first interviewer and kindly informed me, as we are walking towards him, that I would only see her at the end for a touch base but would be interviewing with three people.  Sounds great…but how about telling me their names and titles so I have some sort of clue as to what I might possibly be asked.  When I was done she was MIA and after I waited an extra 40 minutes, because the receptionist said she may be at lunch, I still did not see or hear from her.

3. One time I was asked to take an aptitude test that consisted of about 15 questions and I had to find the wrong word, phrase or misplaced comma.  I guess SAT tests are still all the rage…

4. A long time ago, when I didn’t know any better, I applied for a position that was for those interested in SPORTS, ENTERTAINMENT AND THE FASHION INDUSTRY! Little did I know that when a job description is in all caps, it’s a big sign of a sales position.  There is nothing wrong with sales but for this interview I was told to wear a suit and comfortable shoes.  Those of us who came in for the interview were put in cars with other sales people and drove to the middle of nowhere in NH. For the next six hours we went door to door selling Pizza Hut coupons.  At one home we were told that the previous person we talked to had been arrested previously for putting a gun to his wife’s head.  Needless to say, I did not return to that company.

5. I was once told that one of the things I could work on is smiling more.  I think back to my undergrad interview prep classes where we were told, don’t laugh too much or you’ll come off…not smart.  I kind of have to agree with this.  I understand that you want someone who is personable but at the end of the day, do you want them to do a good job or just make people laugh? If it’s the latter then perhaps you are trying to fill the wrong kind of position.  Jester comes to mind.

So what’s the point of all these anecdotes?  Basically, these days you should be prepared for anything.  Even if you are applying for a marketing position, but it’s at a company that has to do with construction, be prepared to wear a construction hat and be put through a “day at work.”

I hope I gave you some laughs and put you in the right mood to job search!

What did you do today?

Spring Searching

Spring is really in the air today!  I’m sitting here in the kitchen with my coffee and the Today show on.  I’m in love with my kitchen as it has a huge window that overlooks the front lawn that is home to tulips of all colors and lilacs that remind me of my grandfathers house.

It’s amazing what a day at home can do.  I was so happy to be out of my part time job at 11am yesterday and thought that I would have a lovely day all to myself.  Unfortunately, I remembered all too quickly what having a day all to myself meant, being bored.  I am now more grateful than I was before that I do have a part time job to keep me at least somewhat occupied.  In the evening I decided to go for a walk and get myself back into my happy mood that I had earlier in the day.  I also checked out my friend Sailaja’s blog and found it interesting that we both wrote about things we have or plan to accomplish while we are out of work.

This morning on the other hand has started off in a great way.  I went out and ran a little over 7 miles, bought myself some groceries and finally Swiffered my room and the kitchen.  My big plan is to apply to a few more jobs and clean my car.  Speaking of job searching, I’ve decided to give a list of my favorite job boards again:

Monster: I’ve been using Monster a lot lately.  I had a sour taste in my mouth earlier this year about the site because the majority of the jobs were being posted by third parties but they’ve really cleaned up their act.

Craigslist: Yes, it IS possible to find a good job through Craigslist.  I’ve had a couple of call backs and even an interview come out of searching on here.  Companies don’t need to pay to post their jobs on here and hence you will come across some postings that you may not on Monster or Career Builder.

LinkedIn: I think it’s quite a bit tougher to find jobs on LinkedIn but the big advantage is that a lot of the times you are writing directly to the HR director!

Career Builder: Same deal as Monster, but I really only check out what Career Builder has when they send me my weekly job search results.  I do have to say that I was happy that I found Career Builder on Facebook.

Start Up Hire: This is a job site for those who are more into the entrepreneurial spirit.  The site mostly lists jobs in start up companies.

LinkUp: I still love this site.  You need to check it out for yourself and see it for all its glory.  One thing I’m not entirely sure about though, is why when you try to log in it says it will pull all of your info from yahoo or whichever search engine you are e-mailing from.

So thanks to this lovely sunny day I will make a good lunch, clean my car, look for jobs and hope that one day I’ll not only have the white picket fence but also the tulips along side it!

What did you do today?

Don’t Forget to Reward Yourself!

To me, there’s nothing better than some grilled food on a warm day.

So…today I think is a good day to talk about positive things.  Being unemployed is such a grueling and daunting process that you get humbled and sad on a pretty regular basis.  I’m more of a fan of the days when you really feel like you’ve accomplished something, gone on a good interview, come across some great new openings to apply to, or even finished a book you’ve been meaning to get to.  You should always remember to reward yourself after a job well done and try to focus on the positives.

Here is my little list of the “good” things about unemployment:

1. I have not needed to change the oil in my car since November!  Before I had to do it once every month and a half.

2. I was able to expand my knowledge about marketing by taking Hubspot’s online courses.

3. After 11 years of living in the Boston area I finally had Patriot’s day “off” and was able to watch the Boston Marathon!

4. In the last six months or so I have read four different books.  When I was working I couldn’t even finish one in a year.

5. I have time to help my friend watch her kids before the family moves to Latvia.

Don’t forget to look on the bright side of life.  I’m going to go and reward myself with some chocolate because of you all!  Yesterday was another big day, 75 readers logged on to read the blog.  As always, thank you very much for your support!

Here are a couple of interesting articles and blogs you can read:

Laid Off And Looking
Gainful Employment

What did you do today?

Don’t Let Your Resume Fall Flat!

We all know that we can fudge up during an interview but let’s avoid falling flat prior to even setting foot in the office.

Liz Ryan, a career expert, who writes articles for yahoo.com talks about 10 Phrases That Can Sink Your Resume.  I’ve talked about using key words to get your resume more visibility when it gets to the HR folks, as well as some key phrases to use instead of others.

Here are some phrases NOT to use:

Results-Oriented Professional
Excellent Team Player
Bottom Line Orientation
Superior Communications Skills
Possess Organizational Skills
Savvy Business Professional
Strong Work Ethic
Meets or Exceeds Expectations
Strong Presentation Skills
Seeking a Challenging Opportunity

It’s not to say that these are bad phrases, they are simply overused and very generic. Who wouldn’t say that they are seeking a challenging opportunity and possess organizational skills?  Take a look at Liz’s article to get some new ideas about what wording you could use instead and in turn stand out of the resume crowd!

What did you do today?

No Good, Very Bad Job Search Techniques

I hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend and is now once again ready to begin the job search.  Yes, I know that some people may consider Monday a “day off” but why not go watch the marathoners and then just think about applying, or rather avoiding, the following 7 deadly sins of the job search.  These tips fill in some of the yet not talked about aspects of the job search such as references and transitional resumes.

1. Not Coaching Your References: You never know how quickly an interview process may go.  If you have already supplied the employer with your references and have received a second call back then I would go ahead and let the references know.  The employer may call before you interview or after but it’s best to keep everyone in the loop and make sure that specific skills can be highlighted.

2. Not Crafting a Transition Resume: This one is a new tip for me.  You may want to think about drafting up a resume that has a “Highlights” section prior to your employment section.  I finally wrote up summaries for each job and have an intro sentence that gives a high level view of my background and what I’m looking for.

3. Not Enough Time With the Informal Job Market: This suggests that you go out and network!  Don’t just use the typical job boards.  Use LinkedIn or the knowledge your networking connections may have about a new job opening.

4. Discussing Money Too Early in The Interview Process: I like the answer that is provided for this question.  I’ve been asked a number of times in the first interview about my salary expectations and haven’t entirely known what to say.  I didn’t want to sell myself short but I also didn’t want to throw out a number that was too high.  Now I will use Lauren Mackler’s tip, “Well, it really depends on the specific scope and responsibilities of the position, which I’m still getting my arms around. Perhaps we could discuss this later on in the process when I have more information.”

5. Not Going Directly to Employers: I did this once and wonder if I should do it more often.  After applying to a job at a company I decided to stop by their offices and see if I could put my name into another list of job seekers.  Instead I actually got to talk to someone in HR which gave me a better understanding of the job and the environment.

6. Falling Into the “Tell Me About Yourself” Trap: Don’t just talk about yourself, tell the interviewer why they need you and what you can offer that another candidate cannot.

7. Talking Too Much During an Interview: Give each story a beginning, middle and end.  Sometimes I talk too much as well and I’ve been trying to improve on this.  The beginning, middle and end tactic should help me and you.

Have a good marathon Monday!

What did you do today?

From Contract to Full Time

To piggy back off yesterdays topic of “Recruiters: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” I wanted to talk more about the contract positions that some of us may be placed into.  I don’t think anyone aspires to have a “When will they do away with this position?” question looming above their heads.  So, what can you do to make your contract/part time position become a full time job and prove to those around you that they cannot do without your help and experience?

The steps are very similar to landing the actual job.  Boston.com’s Advice section, under Jobs, had Tom Egan from Veritude put together the following 5 tips for making a temporary job permanent:

1. Know the Business: You should approach this position just like any other.  Get to know as much about the every day tasks as you would a full time job.  The more you know, the harder it will be for the company to lose you!

2. Understand the Culture: It is inevitable to not get a feel for the culture while you are learning about the business and company.  Find out who the big players are and who should be your number one contact in the case that you need help with your projects.

3. Show Flexibility and Initiative: The more involved you are in various aspects of the business the more people you will interact with.  These are the people who may play a big role in you staying or leaving.  You will also show that you are interested in the company and what it does.  Don’t mope around waiting for the day you are let go, that day will come that much quicker if you do.

4. Tap Your Staffing Company: Here is where the recruiting agency comes into play again.  The management may be talking to the recruiters to let them know about your progress and if you express your interest to both parties your chances of being offered a full time job are that much higher!

5. Adopt a Team Mentality: The more people you collaborate with and speak with the bigger your network will be. With a bigger network you may be given more visibility within the company.

Final word?  Network!  Whether while looking for work or in a new job. Keep building your community!

And finally, speaking of community…my readership, all thanks to boston.com grew to over 1000 readers in these last couple of days!

My blog was mentioned on the front page and I could not be more thrilled! I wonder if this is what Malcolm Gladwell would consider a “Tipping Point.”  Thank you all VERY much for reading and all of your support.  I’ll definitely be printing this out and putting it into a photo album.

And as if things could get even better, I got my Inbound Marketing Certification from Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing University!

What did you do today?