Friday, October 5, 2012

Don’t Be Lazy – Customize Each LinkedIn Connection Request


If you want to connect with someone on LinkedIn, take one moment to say how you met them or heard about them.

A LinkedIn expert in the Atlanta area tells his audience that although he is a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) he only accepts invitations that have been customized. As a LION too I had been accepting invitations that were not customized; no longer.

When you send a LinkedIn request, you have the option to use the standard message: “I use LinkedIn to keep track of my professional network, and would like to add you. “

Instead, add a very brief personalized statement on every request, even to people you know well. For example: If you have read one of their articles and want to connect, simply add the words “I read your article on…” and the topic in front of the standard message.

The differences between a successful person and one who is not successful are the little things.

Would I Benefit by the Help of a Job Search Coach?

“When opportunity knocks, it's too late to prepare” – Coach Wooden.

While working with job seekers in her practice, Judi Adams of RightChanges hears all too often from clients “I wish I had known about you when I began my job search” or “I didn’t know there were people like you [meaning job search coach] when I started my job search”.
Even people whose companies offer Outplacement or Career Transition services are not familiar with those services and how they may help increase the success of landing the job they want.

What is a Job Search Coach?
Upfront let’s clarify that a Job Search Coach is not a recruiter. A Job Search Coach helps you know what you need to do to be successful in your job search. They partner with you to answer your questions and guide you past obstacles you may encounter.

There are Career Direction coaches who help you determine the right type of job for you and there are Job Search Coaches who help you know how to go get that job. Some coaches are trained in both.

Some coaches will write your resume for you while others will teach you how to maintain your own resume so you are now empowered to do so when you need to tailor your resume and maintain it for the future.

A coach is part educator (sharing with you how the job market is different and how to use the new tools such as LinkedIn) and part sounding board. They are there to help you maintain perspective and stay encouraged and to point out possible problems that stand in way of your success.


How Would I Benefit By Having a Coach?
Too many job seekers say “I have found a job before I can do it again”. That is denying the job market has changed. A coach can help you know the right way to approach the search in this new and changing job market.

A coach is a trained set of eyes and ears to provide valuable feedback and help you overcome any obstacles in your way. None of us would compete in a sports game, even a friendly neighborhood championship, without practicing. Yet too many job seekers go into an interview when a job is on the line without practicing the interview. The way you word something in an interview may be communicating something you did not intend and may be what is eliminating you as the perfect candidate.

What Does Coaching Services Cost?
The costs of coaching services vary wildly. Costs can run hourly at $75 an hour and up and packages can run from $1800 up to almost $10,000.

Some coaches have a lower price for group coaching versus one-on-one tailored programs. Group sessions are targeted to the lowest skilled job seekers in the group. Not all job seekers need the same level of service and group sessions may be a waste of time for more advanced job seekers.

Unlike car dealers who at least post their sticker price on their car, too many job search coaching services do not post their prices on their web site.

Take your usual monthly salary and multiply it by the number of months you have been in a job search. What would you pay to shorten the number of months ahead of you?

Will a Coach Guarantee Me a Job?
Unless the coach hires you themselves, no coach can guarantee you a job; they don’t control that factor. The most a coaching service could do is refund a portion of your money if you are not successful.

How Should I Select a Coach?

Of course if you are unemployed, money will be one factor.

Referrals are a great way to find a good coach.

Meet with the coach and see if you like their style of communication. Let them assess your job search skills and then propose the level of services that fit your need. Pay attention to how they spend that initial time with you. Are they spending the majority of your time together pushing their services or are they truly listening to what you need?

Be sure the coach is active in professional associations and with job networking groups so you know they are staying current as the job market continues to change.

Ask to see a sample of their resume template. If it does not have a summary of your skills in the top half of the first page and has “References available upon request” at the bottom, thank them and then run out of their office. They have not kept up on their skills.

Ask about their success rate.

Some job seekers ask how long it takes for a candidate to land a job they want. That will vary depending on if the job seeker is employed currently, if the candidate starts and stops the process for vacations or family obligations, and if they are taking a long time to do the work they need to in order to find the job, all of which will elongate the search process.




So if you are in a job search, consider partnering with a job search coach who can help you succeed in this competitive job market.

Judi Adams
www.RightChanges.biz

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Are You Commiting Any of the Deadly Sins of the Job Search?

Whether you are a recent graduate or an experienced worker, whether you are unemployed, misemployed, or underemployed, you have to ask yourself: Have I committed any of the five deadly sins of the job search?

Watch the free 5 part YouTube video series by successful job search coach, blogger, author, and speaker Judi Adams of RightChanges to see if you are hurting your own job search.

Go to YouTube and search FoundaJobYet.


Friday, August 31, 2012

Keep Your Skills Up (or Learn New Ones) FREE And Here’s How

One of the concerns of hiring managers when hiring a person with a recent gap in their employment history, especially when the gap is longer than a few months, is that the candidate may have let their skills atrophy or that they may not have the latest skills.

You can eliminate that concern by keeping your skills honed and acquiring new ones. It does not have to cost you a lot and, in most cases, it will not cost you anything. Just follow these very simple steps.

1) Identify the skills needed

a) Pull five job descriptions for the job you WANT. These job descriptions do not have to be in the town or even in the part of the country you live and want to work. You are not pulling these to apply to; you just need the job descriptions.

b) Going through these job descriptions, identify the skills required.

c) If you have not used these skills in the past few months or if you do not have training in that skill at all, then add it on the list of skills for which you need training. For this example I am going to say you pulled job descriptions for sales jobs and the skill is Salesforce.com. You can just as easily use the example of financial analyst and MS Excel.

2) Locate the free training

a) Using your favorite internet search engine (like Google) type in “free training” and the topic you identified above. Using my example you would enter “free training salesforce.com”.

b) You will get millions of results for most topics searched. Not all of the results are what you are looking for (like some will be for a free brochure on paid training) but most are.

3) If software is required – get free software

a) If the training you need / want requires software, then using your favorite internet search engine (like Google), type in “free trial copy” and the name of the software. Using my example you would enter “free trial copy salesforce.com”.

b) You will receive a list of sites offering trial copies of the software to download. I highly recommend getting it directly from the vendor of the software. This software will expire in a number of days (usually 30, 60 or 90). You want to make the best use of that time. Do not download the software until you are ready to dedicate time for this training. Upon the end of the trial period the software will expire and you will have the option to purchase.

4) Adding structure to the self-study

One of the hardest things about self-study is having focus. Having a checklist will give you that focus and, as you mark off each topic as completed, you will have a sense of accomplishment. Here is my idea for creating a checklist of topics to cover.

a. Go to the web site for an institution that offers paid courses on the topic you want to learn, example a technical center or training center. This can be located by taking off the word “free” from your first search for training. Using my example “training salesforce.com”.

b. On the institution’s site, locate the course syllabus for the training. This is a detailed list of the topics covered under each course. That now is your checklist for the topics you will learn using self-study. For MS Excel an example would be the topic of pivot tables.

c. As you go through the list on the syllabus, go back into the search for free training and look for the free training related to that topic. Using MS Excel as my example, add the word “pivot tables” so the search is “free training MS Excel 2010 Pivot tables”. Repeat this for all of the topics listed in the syllabus.



No company or industry offers job security any more. Your job security comes from keeping your skills and experience at the top of the market so that YOU are in demand. With free training and access to trial copies of the software, you have no reason not to keep your skills up. Once employed, be sure to consider purchasing and using the software from the companies who offered free trial versions.


Judi Adams
RightChanges
The Affordable and Successful Job Search Coach
Author of “Found a Job Yet? And Other Questions NOT to Ask!”

Monday, April 23, 2012

Some Accomplishments are Just Not Quantifiable

Recently I met a number of job seekers who had just finished hearing a job search expert speak on the topic of accomplishments. They walked away with the impression that all accomplishments must be quantified or they are not accomplishments. I disagree and let me share the logic behind my belief.

First let’s understand more about accomplishments

Accomplishments

True, the job market has changed and it is not who you worked for and the title that you had; it is about what you did for the company and how the next company will benefit by hiring you. Past performance is an indicator of future performance and previous success is an indicator of future success. These traits are communicated via your accomplishment statements.

By accomplishment I do not mean cured cancer, solved world peace, fixed the economy or lowered the price of gas because as we can read in the news, no one has done that yet.

By accomplishments I mean where you have left your thumb print, how you made the places you have worked better.

STARs

These traits are communicated via your accomplishments statements and usually in STAR format. STAR, sometimes referred to as PAR or CAR – I like STAR best, is the structure to use when sharing accomplishments. S/T is the situation or task you faced (the before picture and why you took action); A is the actions you took (what you did); R is the results (the after picture – the benefit of your actions).

Quantify if You Can

Yes, it is better if you can quantify your accomplishments. An example of a quantified accomplishment would be the time I found errors in the programming requirements written by another company from which we were coding. By identifying these errors, our company secured an additional $250 K to correct the requirements.

If you are in sales, companies look to see the size of the deals you have landed, the percentage of revenue growth, etc. They are looking for numbers!

Examples of Accomplishments that cannot be Quantified

I have worked with clients who have made significant contributions to their prior companies in ways that just do not lend themselves to being quantifiable.

Take the medical administrator who came into a practice and the patient files were a mess; the staff took longer than necessary to find the client’s file before an appointment. The medical administrator is not going to take a stop watch and time how long it takes to find the Smith file before organizing the files and then time the process again after organizing the files just to be able to quantify the accomplishment. Organizing the files to improve efficiency is just as valid of an accomplishment as securing $250 K by identifying logic errors in requirements. Other than stating the number of doctors or the number of files, the real result is that it is faster and easier to find the files and that will be harder to quantify.

Some Numbers Just Raise Red Flags


Some job seekers have numbers sprinkled throughout their accomplishments in their resumes but in some instances they draw more negative attention than positive attention.

At no time should you exaggerate or embellish your resume or credentials. Even though no one has checked your credentials before does not mean another company won’t or can’t. But even before a background check, hiring authorities will be turned off by facts that seem unbelievable. If you are a programmer and claim to have saved the company billions of dollars, you will probably need to back that fact up with other facts or it will be looked upon with some skepticism.

Use Accomplishments
In your resume and in your interviews, leverage your accomplishments to add weight to the factual nature of the skills, experience, and abilities you state you have. Quantify the ones you can; don’t feel you can’t share an accomplishment that cannot be quantified though. It is your accomplishment – share it!

By Judi Adams
RightChanges.biz
The Affordable and Successful Job Search Coach

Affordable Personal Health Insurance Options

Whether you are self-employed, unemployed, a recent graduate and rolling off of your parents insurance, or have other circumstances where you want or need to secure your own personal health insurance, the good news is there are relatively affordable options. In fact some of these options are significantly less that paying for COBRA after leaving a company.

There are a number of commercials on TV for the personal health insurance offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield. In a recent TV show of the consumer advocate Clark Howard, Clark mentioned going to ehealthinsurance.com and Kaiser to check out the personal health insurance options there. I was VERY surprised that Clark did not mention the source I use – COSTCO.

Yes, COSTCO is now offering personal health insurance leveraging their group buying power. And the insurance is not a fly by night organization – it’s Aetna®. The plan I have offers dental, medical, and vision for a very reasonable monthly price.

Some skeptical job seekers have asked me if COSTCO covers pre-existing conditions, or wonder what the cost is for a family of four. The answer is simple – go on-line or call them and ask. Get the facts.

Their web site is www.costcopersonalhealth.com


I do not get any form of reimbursement or compensation for sharing this information. When I find a good deal though I like to share it especially when it makes more sense than paying the high cost of COBRA or going without health coverage.



By Judi Adams
RightChanges.biz
The Affordable and Successful Job Search Coach

Friday, January 27, 2012

“UNEMPLOYED NEED NOT APPLY” - Companies are Half Right

There have been numerous news stories about companies who advertise that unemployed people need not apply for any of the open positions within their company. These companies have two reasons for feeling that the unemployed do not make good candidates.

One reason companies do not want the unemployed to apply is that they feel that those who have not been able to find a job must be un-hirable. That is where the companies are wrong. Many highly skilled and accomplished people are in job transitions and in this job market it takes longer to land a job. Companies are missing out on highly qualified candidates if they exclude the unemployed in favor of passive (employed but looking) candidates.

The second reason companies do not want to hire people who are currently unemployed is partially valid. The concern on the part of many companies is that people who have been in a job search for a while may have let their skills atrophy and are starting to fall behind in their industry knowledge.

It does not take long for people to start to forget how to use software or how to perform tasks. With the pace of change in today’s world, it is easy to fall behind unless intentional actions are taken to stay on top of these changes.

Job seekers have to be intentional about keeping their skills sharp and their knowledge of their industry current. If you are a job seeker and have not taken a class in the past three months to maintain or increase your skills, then begin a class TODAY! It does not always cost a lot of money to do so.

First, identify what class or classes will increase your marketability. Look at the job descriptions for the position you are pursuing and, of the required skills, identify where you are the weakest. Look at the software requirements and determine which ones you do not have or software skills you need to renew.

Using your favorite internet search engine, type in the words “free training” and then the subject you want to learn (example “Microsoft Excel”). You will get millions (no exaggeration) of free courses on the topic you entered.

If you want to practice using new software, you may be able to get a free trial copy of it. Again type “free trial copy” and the name of the software you want to learn. These are not demo copies but full feature versions that expire after a period of time (30, 60, or 90 days). Make the most of the time you have to sharpen or develop your skills. Note: You can even get a free trial copy of MS Office 2010. Before loading the trial copy, be sure you have the disks and key for the version you currently have so you can reload it after the 2010 version expires.

To stay current on your industry, read trade publications, business news (like the Biz Journal), and attend industry networking organizations. Industry networking organizations are also a good place to find out about the hidden jobs (those not posted anywhere on-line).

In addition to feeling a sense of accomplishment and that you are taking control of your future, taking classes and attending industry events also gives you a great response when asked the question “what have you done since your last job?” Companies like people who proactively keep their skills and industry knowledge current.

Now a note to companies: Times have changed. There are many highly qualified people who are in a job transition. Wake up or you could lose the best candidates to companies who realize there is a new job market. Many highly qualified and hirable people are and will be in transition. You may be one of them one day.