Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another Item in a Successful Job Seeker’s Marketing Materials

All job seekers know they need a good résumé. Recently many of you added the Marketing Plan to your job seeker’s marketing tool kit (August article: What Document is as Valuable to a Job Seeker as a Great Resume?). Another item a successful job seeker would not be caught without is a business card.

The business card is critical because it is the most recognized method for exchanging contact information while networking and, as you know, networking is the most successful approach to finding a job.

You should not use a card from a current or former employer and do not use a card where you have to scratch out old information and hand-write the corrected information.

Source for Cards

There are different ways to have cards made.

• Office supply stores sell special paper stock to use with your home printer to create your own cards.

Be sure to purchase the “clean edge” paper. Do not purchase the perforated type that has to be torn to separate. No matter how hard you try to prevent it, the perforated type leaves a rough edge which diminishes the professional appearance.

Be sure the resulting card looks professional (ex. no smeared ink and not printed at a slight angle). I recently received a business card that was printed at a slight angle looking sloppy. When I asked if she had considered getting them printed, she said her husband printed them for her as his contribution to her job search; she didn’t have the heart to take that task away from him. A job search is too important to skimp on quality.

• Office supply stores and other business centers offer business card printing services.

• offers 250 free colored business cards per order (other than the price of shipping) as long as you are willing to leave the discreet Vista logo on the back. Many job seekers use VistaPrint as a source for their business cards.

Information to Include

Of course, the most important and obvious item to include on your business card is your contact information. This should include your name, your full address, the best phone number to reach you, and your e-mail address. You do not need to preface the phone number with the word “phone” and the e-mail address with the word “e-mail”. The format indicates the type of information it is.

Some people include their Linked In e-mail address. Usually this takes the format of, slash (/), the word “in”, slash, and then your name. If you have a very common name, this is helpful so people can identify which of the profiles is yours. If you have an unusual name, including your Linked In address is not necessary; the search feature will bring up your profile.

Under your name you should include the title of the position you are seeking.

You may want to include a brand statement and a few statements that are your key differentiators.

Unless the career you seek is in the arts, select a color and pattern that is professional and on the conservative side.

Be sure to spell-check your card several times before printing them. Tips for proofing include reading the text from the bottom to the top (versus top to bottom) and pasting the text into Microsoft Word to have Word grammar and spell check for you.

Leave blank space on the back of the card so people can make notes on it (see the comment below under Tips When Using Business Cards).

Tips When Using Business Cards

Keep a plentiful stock of business cards with you at all times. Keep these cards fresh and organized by using a business card case. Inexpensive card cases are available.

If you are right handed, put your business cards loose in your right hand pocket. Using a business card case during a network event will take valuable time and attention away from your conversation as you work to access the card. As you receive other people’s business cards, put them in your left pocket. This approach keeps other people’s cards from getting mixed up with yours. If you are left handed – reverse that.

When someone gives you their card, write a note on the back to remind you where you met them and reminders about follow-up.

If you maintain contact information electronically and receive a lot of business cards, you may want to consider purchasing a business cards scanner. Some card scanners have built in intelligence and can parse the information correctly, regardless of the layout of the card, to automatically load into contact software such as Outlook.

You are now a salesperson, selling your skills, abilities, and accomplishments. Having and using business cards is not only useful; it also makes you look even more professional.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What May be Keeping You Unemployed

The job market is tough; there is no argument there. We are in a recession like no other in recent times. People are getting hired every day though, so what may be keeping you unemployed?

As a successful job search coach, I see mistakes people make in their job search that keeps them from finding and landing that job; mistakes that fall into three major categories. No, it is not the format of their resume. It does not help if the resume is not eye catching – that’s not one of the biggest mistakes though. It is not a lack of available jobs; there are millions of jobs out there. Here are the three categories of mistakes that can keep a talented, professional, and experienced person from getting a job. The good news is there is something you can do to correct these mistakes.

Mistake 1 – A Bad Attitude

At the moment you get called into the boss’s office and hear the words “I hate to say this but….” or realize that the job you are in is not working anymore, you are encountering change and a type of change most people do not enjoy.

You must allow yourself time to grieve. The stages of grieving for a job loss, whether by your choice or not, is the same as the stages of grieving for the loss of a loved one. Humans are made to go through these stages, although different people go through them at different speeds and in a different order. If you do not allow yourself time to grieve, your grief will come out at a later time and it could happen at a time when you really don’t want it to, like during an interview. You have to set a deadline for the grieving process though because you want to get to the last stage, acceptance, and then begin to move on and look forward to the opportunity that awaits you.

You may need help for pressure points. You need to keep a roof over your head, the car in the driveway, and food on the table. There are organizations out there whose sole purpose is to offer assistance to those who need it. There is no shame in being unemployed (read July’s article: The Truth You Need to Know but May Not Want to Hear”). Therefore there is no shame in asking for assistance; do not hesitate to reach out for help if you need it and do not wait until it is too late because if you do your options may be limited.

If you do not address attitude, it will come out in your body language, your word choice, or the energy you need to do the job search.

You may have heard that only 7% of your communication is verbal. That means 93% is non-verbal. While looking for the job, your mouth may be saying “I’m great! Hire me!” yet your body or tone may be saying “I don’t believe in myself, so why should you”.

Imagine a person who is slouching with a hand on the hip, eyes rolling, with a smirk on the face saying in a dramatic tone “Yes - I’m thrilled to be here”. Do you believe he is thrilled to be there? No. You trust his body language and negative tone more than the words he is saying. The same is true with you and your body language. Body language is the most honest and spontaneous form of communication. Your body may betray you if you do not have a positive attitude.

Words can betray you as well. Did you know the words “but” and “why” have negative connotations? If someone tells you “I agree with you but….” it really means “I don’t agree with you”. The word “but” negates everything said before it.

The word “why” also has a negative connotation. When you ask someone why she did something, she will feel you are asking her to justify herself. If you asked instead the purpose behind the action, it feels less personal; it is focusing on the action instead of the person. If your attitude is not positive, you may unconsciously use negative words.

A bad attitude can also drain the energy you need to conduct a successful search. The job search requires a fulltime effort and there is a lot riding on its success. You will probably find yourself out of your comfort zone when it comes to talking about yourself, getting out and meeting strangers, making calls to people you do not know yet need to talk to, and you will hear several no’s or worse a lot of silence. If you start with a negative attitude, you start in a hole that is hard to get out of.

The idea of “fake it ‘til you make it” does not work in a job search. Remember that attitude is a choice. Give yourself time to grieve; get to the point where you are excited about looking for that next opportunity; and be sure to get help for pressure points so your way is clear to concentrate on the job search.

A list of resources to help develop a good attitude can be found in the Resource section of

Mistake 2 – Not Knowing Your Competitive Edge

Your new job is as a salesperson. You are selling your skills, your experience, and your abilities to the buyer – the hiring manager. There are some amazing sales people out there; it takes a certain personality to enjoy the hunt for leads and the victory in the close of the sale. Whether you like it or not and regardless of your career, you and all job seekers are salespeople while in the job search.

You cannot successfully sell an item, for instance a computer, unless you know how it works and what makes it better than the competition’s computer. You can’t get a job unless you know how you work and what makes you better than your competition. (See the April article: You Have to Know You to Sell YOU).

Starting your job search by updating your resume is like creating a marketing brochure and users’ manual for a product you know nothing about. Most job seekers and even some outplacement companies start the process by updating the resume and going from there. You, instead, should inventory your skills, abilities, interests, accomplishments, and more. Hiring managers can’t figure out why they should hire you if you don’t know and communicate it.

A list of resources to help you identify your unique skills and competitive advantage can be found in the Resource section of

Mistake 3 - The Wrong Approach

When talking with job seekers, I often hear the frustration they feel when they do not hear back from the many applications they submit on-line. The problem is they are doing it wrong.

To understand how to do it right, there are some numbers you need to know about available jobs and success rates by approach.

Did you know that 85% of the jobs are not even posted? This is referred to as the hidden job market. “Why would companies have jobs and not post them?” you may ask.

1) Companies do not want to tip their hand

a. Take the case of a job that has a limited number of slots within a company such as a CIO (Chief Information Officer), the head of Information Technology, where there is only one per company. If a company is about to fire their CIO and wants to hire the replacement first, the current, soon-to-be-fired CIO might see the job if the company posts the position.

b. A company may be about to launch a new line of business. By posting positions for the new skills needed, their competition could be tipped off about their intentions.

2) Companies do not want a flood of resumes
For every job you see posted, so do thousands of other people. Too many people apply to any job that is posted with the misconception that it will get their foot in the door (by the way, it doesn’t work). Instead of opening themselves up to the flurry of unsolicited phone calls and flood of unqualified resumes, the company instead uses other approaches, such as employee referral, to get qualified candidates in the door.

There are other similar reasons a company does not post the majority of the positions they have available.

Now let us look at success rates by search approach.

• Less than 10 % of job seekers find their jobs by applying to ads in the newspaper or posted on the web.

• Less than 15% of people find their jobs through working with a recruiter. First, recruiters are not getting the percentage of job orders they did before the launch of web job boards. In addition, the recruiter’s customer is the company, not you. Recruiters want to present the best applicant to the company but they don’t really care if it is you or me. That is leaving your job search in the hands of someone whose primary interest is not you.

• Over 75% (some quotes are up to 95%) of people find and land a job through networking and it is through networking that you will find the hidden job market.

Given these numbers, you can see for yourself that you should spend the majority of your time networking. It is okay to use all of the approaches for a total of 100%; you need, though, to allocate your time proportionally. Note: In a future article RightChanges will include tips on networking and how to make the most of your network contacts.

If you are frustrated by the silence you hear when you apply on-line, get up from your desk, and go network!

As a job seeker, assess yourself in these three areas. With a great attitude, knowledge of your competitive advantage, and networking, you will greatly increase your chances of getting that next job.

For other articles and tips on being a successful job seeker, go to Check the archives for a full list of the topics covered.

Judi Adams
The Affordable and Successful Job Search Coach

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What Document is as Valuable to a Job Seeker as a Great Resume?

All job seekers know the importance of having a resume and most job seekers know how to create a great resume. There are not many job seekers, though, who know there is a piece of marketing material that is as important and valuable as a great resume: a one-page marketing plan.

The purpose of the marketing plan is two-fold. The one-page document forces you to concisely state what you are looking for in your next industry, company, position, and in what geographic area. The process of creating the plan helps you identify your top skills, your competitive advantage, and a list of 5 – 10 target companies.

The second and main purpose of the marketing plan is to provide the information needed so your friends, family, and network buddies can help you in your job search. The people in your network do not memorize what you are looking for. They have lives of their own and probably know more than one person who is in a job transition. Help them by giving them a one-page summary of the key points to listen for as they are out and about. Encourage them to post your marketing plan on their refrigerators or by their desks so they see it frequently. Seeing it often will help them remember the information. As they are talking with other people and hear a company’s name that is on your list, they will remember to introduce you to the person who has a contact there.

As a job search coach, job seekers frequently offer me their resumes, not to review it but so I can help them network. The resume does not help. The resume states what they have done, not what they are looking for. The market plan, however, gives me a list of job titles and target companies that I can use.

One job seeker shared his marketing plan with me and said he was told to use it as the cover letter when sending out his resume. Ah – no! Do not share your marketing plan with your target companies. When you are working with your target companies, they should believe they are the only company you desire.

How to Create a Marketing Plan

The header of the marketing plan should be the same header you use on your resume. This is now your letterhead and should be used on all job search materials, giving you a professional look.

If you used a career summary on your resume, you should use that here. If you don’t have one, summarize in less than 5 lines the portion of your experience that highlights your competitive advantage.

Table of Core Skills
In a table with 3-5 columns, identify the major categories of your core skills and a few (1-3) brief accomplishment statements that support those skills.

Elevator Pitch
In this section document the parts of your elevator pitch: the industry, the position (with the various titles assigned to this position), and the geographic area you are considering.

Target Companies
Overwhelmingly statistics prove that networking is the best way to find and secure a job. Since it takes time to network into any one company, you do not want to use the shotgun approach and spread yourself too thin. Identify the top 5-10 companies that you want to work for. Research companies so you understand who is expanding their business (you want them on your list) and to know which companies are struggling or letting people go (you don’t want those companies on your list). Remember too that most of the available jobs are in smaller companies. Your job as a job seeker is to work your network, find and contact people in these companies, and let them get to know you. The rapport you build gives you advantage over the faceless people represented by the thousands of resumes the company received via the internet.

Create your marketing plan and freely share it with the people in your network and save your resumes for the target companies.

To receive a marketing plan template, e-mail with the subject line: marketing plan template.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Job Seekers: Action Items Once You are Employed

In the article ” The Truth You Need to Know but May Not Want to Hear” Job Search Coach Judi Adams of RightChanges reminded job seekers that their next job will not be their last, that they will be on the job market again. Ugh! For those in a job search, they surely don’t want to hear that they will be doing this again. Sadly there was no vote; this is just one of the realities of the new job market.

Is there anything you can do to make the next transition easier than this one? Yes! In this article Judi shares numerous action items a job seeker should implement starting from the first day at the new job to make that next transition easier.

Congratulations. You received and accepted a good offer. You are a mixture of excited and anxious about your first day and getting back into the swing of a job. Realize that the job search is not over. Here are the actions items you should assign yourself once you begin that new job.

1) Notify your contacts. Contact everyone who helped you in the job search, even if all the help they gave was to pray for you or listen when you needed to vent. If you gave them a marketing plan to post on their refrigerator, ask them to take it down and tear it up in celebration. Let them know about your new job, thank them for their help, and remind them that you will be there for them.

2) Maintain your contacts. If the only time you call Uncle Fred is when you are without a job, when his phone rings and caller id says it is you calling, he’ll know you are without a job. He’ll feel used and will be less likely to help you going forward. The same is true of the rest of your network. It is so easy when you get busy with the next job to let time fly without reaching out to your network. Be intentional about it. Create a schedule of how often you will reach out to each person. Closer contacts and friends will be more frequently and others will be less frequently but at least once a year.

3) Maintain your Linked In Profile.

4) Develop new contacts. Build your network. In addition to developing your network with people at your new job, build contacts within your industry and attend industry networking groups. A former job seeker said he schedules at least one networking event (industry or one-on-one) a week. Remember, you will be on the job market again.

5) Increase our marketability. Because you will be on the market again, maintain your skills. It has always been true that if the company offers you training take it. If they don’t offer you training, take it anyway – pay for it yourself. The new emphasis is that the first training you take should increase your marketability. If you have a choice between a fun or interesting course and one that increase your marketability, take the one that increase your marketability first. Then and only then should you take a course because it is interesting or fun.

6) Keep growing. At a conference in the fall of 2008, a famous author offered the following advice to a recent graduate: “Do not take 5 years getting 2 years worth of experience.” The minute you are not growing in your current position, ask to expand your responsibilities so you can continue to grow. Consider positions in other areas of the company where you can continue to add to your experiences. If it is not possible to grow in that company, move on!

7) Maintain your marketing materials. As a part of their search, good job seekers documented their previous accomplishments and training. The first day at your new company, create an Excel spreadsheet in which you should record all of your new accomplishments, training (including webinars), and the kudos you receive. Add in the particulars (the quantifiable details) so they don’t elude you. You can use this accomplishment list in two ways.

a. If you find yourself being let go, then you have the information you need to update your resume and to answer interview questions about what you did that benefited the company. You may want to e-mail a copy home periodically (once a quarter).

b. Before review time, clean up the list and hand a copy to your manager. Do not go in and say “see what I did!” Instead play it down. Say it is something you do, no big deal. Say that you thought it might help when writing your review and, if so, great, if not, no big deal. Ask your boss to let you know if you left anything off as well. If you approach it in this way, most managers will appreciate the details to help them create your review.

8) Keep up on the industry.

a. Be the first to learn the new techniques or skills so you are not left with the out of date areas of the business. Be sure management knows you have the new skills; offer to cross train your peers. This establishes you as the Subject Matter Expert (SME).

b. Keep up on the industry as well to know if the industry or your company is not faring well. It may be time to switch industries or companies. Get out before the mad rush.

9) Save! Be sure to have 8 month’s worth of salary in an accessible (liquid) account. The rule of thumb for emergency savings used to be 3 months. The market has changed and the new rule of thumb is 8-12 months.

10) Assist others. Remember when you were in the job search and you called someone and they didn’t return your call? Don’t be like them. Give of your time. Be available to meet with job seekers who want to hold informational interviews. Volunteer where you can to aid someone else’s job search. Remember you will be on the market again yourself.

You found the new job. Be sure to keep on top of your game so the next career transition, and there will be one, is not as grueling.