Ask Donna: How can I keep my job search alive during the holidays?

Dear Donna,

I’ve noticed that the amount of jobs posted online seems to dry up around the holiday season – I know I saw a definite drop in relevant jobs for me over Thanksgiving week. I’m worried that I won’t be able to keep my job search alive during the pending holidays. How can I make the most of this slow time of the year?

– Not a Happy Elf

 

Dear Elf:

First of all, the job boards and employment sites like Indeed should not be the number one focus of your job search no matter what time of year it is. While these are helpful for generating leads, they are just one piece of your entire job search strategy. It is true that many employers hold off on posting jobs until January, however, this doesn’t mean that your job search needs to go dormant. Instead, you should be focusing on the other, more valuable aspects of your job search.

Here’s a great checklist to make sure you don’t lose traction for the rest of December…

  1. Update your resume, LinkedIn, and cover letters

Now is the perfect time to update your materials. Styles and tactics change over time, so if you are still using an old resume, be sure to look at it with fresh eyes. Look at more than just the format and appearance. You want to make sure you are pulling the top key words for your profession, based on current job postings.

Did you know that 90% of employers are looking at your LinkedIn profile? Yep. [Source: LinkedIn, 2016.] For this reason alone, make sure you are following the current best practices to optimize your profile and drive more recruiters to it.

When was the last time you reviewed your cover letters? While only 50% of HR departments value the cover letter itself [source: Mile High SHRM survey from Personal Touch Career Services, 2017], it is still a valuable component to your job search. Make sure it is well written and appropriate for your target jobs.

  1. Get involved on LinkedIn

Now that you updated your profile, so what? If nobody knows who you are, they have no reason to reach out to you. You need to build your reputation within your industry.

This can be done two ways: sharing or writing quality content and getting involved in the Groups.

First, if you are a great writer, start publishing articles or blogs on LinkedIn. If you aren’t, you can simply share other relevant articles that you find. Don’t worry – it’s not copyright infringement, as the links always go back to the original article. These can be shared both in your newsfeed and in your Groups.

Speaking of the Groups, when was the last time you got involved in the discussions in your top Groups? This is another way to build your reputation and become associated with helpful opinions on relevant topics for your industry.

  1. Take classes to fill in your knowledge gaps

Are you wondering how to do those steps for your LinkedIn account? Are you missing a vital skill for your target jobs? Now is the perfect time to take a quick class to fill in those gaps and make you a more valuable employee.

I highly recommend checking out www.Udemy.com or other online learning sites. These websites feature literally hundreds of thousands of courses that are self-paced, video-intensive, and subject-specific. To give you an idea of what you can learn, check out my LinkedIn class, “Using LinkedIn to Get a Job Without Going Crazy” https://www.udemy.com/using-linkedin-to-get-a-job/?couponCode=FLYER75

Explore the additional classes offered – everything from Microsoft Word to learning Italian – and focus on those courses that boost your value to the employers.

  1. Get in touch with your current network

The holidays are an ideal time to tap your network on the shoulder and let them know two critical things: one, that you appreciate them; and two, that you are still looking for a position. Notice that the gratitude piece must come first. No one wants to be pumped for job leads in a Christmas card, but taking the time to share a heartfelt note about how you value them can breed more goodwill.

  1. Start researching potential employers in the hidden job market

Believe it or not, jobs posted online on sites like Indeed and LinkedIn only make up a fraction of the available positions. Many are only listed on the company’s website. Not only that, some aren’t listed at all, at least not until the company already has a candidate in mind. Collectively, this is known as the hidden job market.

The secret to landing a hidden job is first and foremost paying attention to what is going on in your industry and local market. Start by picking out some companies that have caught your interest, whether they have a job opening or not. Then conduct systematic research to identify their needs, challenges, key decision makers, and standings in the market. Track them with Google Alerts to see the latest news – often times, a relevant news article can be turned into an excuse to reach out to managers and offer your services as a potential employee.

  1. Implement structured networking

Chances are that you have heard the rumor: up to 80% of jobs are found by networking. This is true to some extent, as networking includes everything from contacting a hiring manager for a posted job to Aunt Martha saw a job on Indeed and forwarded it to you.

Structured networking is similar to researching potential employers in the hidden job market, but instead of hunting companies, you want to identify people. Don’t look at just the key managers. Look for potential co-workers or contractors that can tell you more about the company and their culture. Thanks to such tools as LinkedIn, conducting structured networking is easier than ever before, once you learn the tricks.

  1. Spread some joy

Most of all, take some time for yourself this holiday season. Enjoy time with your family and friends. Eat that cookie and drink some egg nog. Along the way, reflect on all the positive things that happened this year and be grateful, no matter how small. After all, a light heart is very attractive – especially to employers.

And have a cool Yule!

Donna Shannon

 

Got a question for Donna? Just email your question to april@personaltouchcareerservices.com

Want a see how your resume and LinkedIn profile stacks up to the competition? Visit my website to schedule a free resume review: https://personaltouchcareerservices.com/contact

 

HR responds: Are cover letters obsolete?

 

It’s no secret that hiring standards change over time. One of the latest trends is the attitude that HR has towards cover letters. What used to be a requirement is often not even requested anymore.

Recently, the Personal Touch Career Services surveyed the members of the Mile High SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) to see what HR really thinks of cover letters.

The answers were very insightful…

Split Responses

Interesting enough, the survey respondents were split 50/50 on the cover letter issue. 50% felt that a well-written cover letter can improve a candidate’s chances with their company. However, the other 50% didn’t even ask for them or only looked at it as screening criteria… basically, those who didn’t send in a letter were screened out, but HR didn’t care about the content.

The rise of the LinkedIn profile

While HR recruiters may not actually care about your cover letter, many require that candidates send in the letter just to show their level of professionalism. Instead, many companies are migrating to using LinkedIn over the traditional cover letter. This is why 90% of employers are looking at your profile.

One of the purposes of a cover letter is to customize it to the specific job, capturing more relevant key words and highlight your top achievements. Yet more employers are defaulting to reviewing the LinkedIn profile for this additional information. In our same survey, corporate recruiters are checking the completeness of the profile, followed by the number of Skills and Endorsements:

 

Not only that, but your number of Recommendations and the consistency between your resume and the LinkedIn profile are paramount. While the LinkedIn profile doesn’t need to be a word-for-word recreation of the resume, it does need the facts to be consistent, such as job titles, employers, dates, and education.

So, why are they looking at Skills and Recommendations? To compare your expertise to their needs while seeing what others have to say about you.

Cover letters are not dead…yet

While it is tempting to cast aside the traditional cover letter in favor of a comprehensive LinkedIn profile, keep in mind that 50% of the employers still find them valuable. The kicker is that a stale, boring repetition of your resume is not going to do the trick. HR – and hiring managers – want to see a well-written cover letter that highlights your strengths while explaining what you can do to help them. After all, if you can prove that you can help the company make money, save money or solve problems, your chances for an interview increase exponentially.

Did you enjoy this article? Please join my newsletter to receive all the latest news, views, and job searching tips: http://eepurl.com/bgVrJr.

 

Want a see how your cover letter and LinkedIn profile stack up to the competition? Visit my website to schedule a free consultation:  

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How to start building an effective job search strategy

Job Strategy

Do you have a real job search strategy? Or are you spending most of your time scanning the job websites like Indeed.com and ZipRecruiter.com daily, hoping they find your dream job and by some miracle get past the HR screening process? On the flip side, you probably have heard the advice that networking is crucial to your job search. But do you know how to do it effectively?

Overall, an effective job search strategy breaks down the daunting task of finding a job into tactical, actionable steps that open additional opportunities while making the most of every job posting. From successfully navigating the HR maze to tracking down the hiring manager, a real job search plan will save you from wasting time and opportunities.

  1. Understand how HR works

Human Resources is not your buddy in the job search. In fact, they don’t hire anyone – it is their job to CUT candidates. To do this, every single company has processes to quickly weed out candidates. Some of their favorite tricks include specific application instructions, harping on grammatical and spelling errors, and using key word driven application systems.

In a nutshell, surviving the screening process is a game. To win, you need to know the rules.

So, why is this important? You still must apply to legally be considered for a job. Once that application is sent, the real work begins…

  1. Track down the hiring managers

Believe it or not, hiring managers are just as frustrated with the HR as the candidates. HR doesn’t always deliver the most qualified candidates – they are just the ones who played the game the best. Do the managers a favor and send them your resume directly.

Managers can be found through LinkedIn, the company’s website, local business journal databases, and comprehensive online prospecting tools such as ZoomInfo.com or AeroLeads: https://aeroleads.com/ . Many newer apps or Google extensions, such as Hunter https://hunter.io/ or Viola Norbert https://www.voilanorbert.com/ offer free options to nail those elusive contact details, such as email addresses.

For a more thorough list of these prospecting sites, please email me at:  donna@personaltouchcareerservices.com .

  1. Develop a networking strategy

For some, “networking” is a daunting word. Before assuming that you must go to massive after-hours events and shake a bunch of hands, realize that a networking strategy is a multi-faceted approach to cultivating existing contacts while making new ones. This includes face-to-face meetings as well as social media.

First, identify your current contacts. Find former colleagues, clients, and vendors on LinkedIn to start expanding that base.

Second, develop tools to reach out to new people. Join Groups on LinkedIn and get involved, while inviting thought leaders in those Groups to connect with you. Research your target companies and contact potential co-workers, managers, and even past employees to learn more about those organizations.

Finally, don’t forget face-to-face options. Personally, I make quality connections through professional associations, www.Meetup.com groups, and even social gatherings.

  1. Create automated tools

Create specific job search alerts from your favorite job searching sites. Along those lines, get rid of the junk. Always make sure that your resume is posted as “private.” This will greatly reduce the amount of spam, scams, and 100% commission jobs that are famous for contacting every single public resume on the site.

Finally, set up Google Alerts https://www.google.com/alerts on your top target companies. One of the best ways to source a hidden job is to identify a major change at a company and reach out to a hiring manager whether there is a job posting or not. Create a custom pitch that convinces them you can really help improve their bottom line.

  1. Make time to make it happen

Job searching does take time. If all you are doing is casually looking at job online, you are wishing, not working for it. Set aside consistent days and times to work on the job search.

Additionally, take note of the distractions and blocks to your job search. Life does happen, after all. Set your priorities while realizing that you may need to put in some hours after the kids go to bed to really work on your job search.

  1. Track your progress

If you don’t write something down, it didn’t happen. Track every single application, contact, messages, and outcomes. Not only is this important for following up, it helps with seeing how effective your job search is.

Our goal is to get 1-2 phone interviews for every 10 applications submitted. If you aren’t tracking your results, how will you know if you are being effective?

 

Did you enjoy this article? Please join my newsletter to receive all the latest news, views, and job searching tips: http://eepurl.com/bgVrJr.

 

Want a see how your cover letter and LinkedIn profile stack up to the competition? Visit my website to schedule a free consultation:  

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“Fun-Sized” Resumes: A Sweet Treat or a Horror Story?

graphic resumeOne of my favorite things about Halloween are the “fun-sized” candies, wrapped for the perfect taste of something sweet that doesn’t diminish the impact of the full-sized candy bars. In job searching, many people use a ‘fun-sized” resume to do the same thing: within one short page, the candidate conveys the most important information about their background, skills, and education. Plus, just like candy, it’s wrapped up in a visually-appealing format to make the tasty tidbits stand out even more.

While a fun-sized resume can be a great marketing tool, they aren’t perfect for all situations. Use it in the right situation, it can open doors with influential hiring managers. Use it in the wrong place, and HR will toss it aside like a kid feeding broccoli to the dog under the table.

 

What is a fun-sized resume?

info-graphic resume

A classic infographic resume

Some people may call them a graphic resume or even an infographic visual resume, but the essence of a fun-sized resume is the perfect balance between design, presentation, and critical information. While a typical resume may be between 700-1,000 words, the fun-sized resume only has 200 – 350 words. In that case, every single word on the resume must be impactful and relevant.

Fun-sized resumes utilize white space to guide the eye and emphasize the important skills, education, experience, and achievements of the job seekers. They frequently incorporate color or bold design choices to stand out from the crowd.

 

graphic or visual resume in red

Some graphic resume still use descriptions.

Sweet treat: when to use a fun-sized resume

Graphic resumes are perfect for networking purposes, whether it is done in person or via email. They are a good option to give to hiring managers, industry insiders, and other valuable connections. You can also use them during job fairs to make an impression on the recruiters.

Of course, visual resumes are always a good choice for anyone in the graphic arts or creative industries. In many ways, your creative resume is an example of your work and design aesthetic.

 

Horror story: when to avoid the fun-sized resume

stylish blocks graphic resume

Even some IT people can use a more visually-based resume.

HR HATES infographic and creative resumes. The fun-sized resumes often don’t have enough key words to get through a screening process, especially when it is a computerized Applicant Tracking System (ATS). To survive the first levels of screening, a resume needs to match the key words within the job description by at least 60-70%. Unfortunately, that includes stupid key words like “excellent communication skills.” Since a fun-sized resume doesn’t waste space on asinine phrases like this, they will almost always be screened out on the key words alone.

Another problem for HR is the fancy formatting. Even if you convert your resume to a PDF, the computers are not likely to parse out, or automatically fill in, your application correctly from the graphic resume. As a result, you will spend a lot of time manually completing or correcting the online application forms to make sure everything is accurate.

More conservative or traditional industries don’t look favorably on the fun-sized resume either. Healthcare, legal, HR, finance, and accounting all tend to favor the traditional resume over something wildly creative.

 

gray blocks visual or graphic resume

Use bold but not confusing design choices.

Best practices for the fun-sized resume

While creative resumes allow you to expand your imagination, you still want to incorporate solid strategies to get the most out of those 250 words:

  • Always email the resume as a PDF – even if it was created with MS Office, Word is notorious for making the same document appear differently on different computers. A PDF guarantees that what you send is what they get.
  • If using a hard copy for events, pay attention to the printing quality and paper stock.
  • Focus on the most important skills for your target job and drop the superfluous ones like “communication skills.”
  • Be careful about using too many logos, graphs or bars that don’t clearly show your value as a candidate.
  • Use a bold design, but not a busy one. The reader should instantly understand what you have to offer.

 

Did you enjoy this article? Please join my newsletter to receive all the latest news, views, and job searching tips: http://eepurl.com/bgVrJr.  Want a see how your resume stacks up to the competition? Visit my website to schedule a free resume review: http://personaltouchcareerservices.com/contact

Agency Spotlight: Pavillion Agency

pavillion agency logoSince their founding in 1962, the Pavillion Agency has gained most of their business and candidates through repeat customers or referrals. With over 50 years in the industry, their reputation for being an effective source for finding top-notch candidates is well deserved. Along with solid recruiting practices, the agency has adopted new technology to stay on the cutting edge of the industry and meeting the ever-increasing demand from principals for the latest technical advances. In addition to their main office in New York, the firm opened a Miami Beach office in 2012. They place candidates in positions across the country, with a focus on Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Greenwich, the Hamptons, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

In today’s Agency Spotlight, Seth Norman Greenberg, their Vice President and Marketing Director, gives us more insight into the long standing and ever-evolving company…

  1. How long have you been in business?

Since 1962.

  1. What makes your agency unique?

Our dedication to integrity, personalized service and client satisfaction. From the very beginning, Pavillion has distinguished itself as an organization with the highest ethical standards and moral values. This is evidenced by the fact that over 90% of our client and applicant base are either repeat customers or personally referred to us. Our reputation is everything. We have set ourselves apart by continuously improving the way we conduct business with innovations unique to our industry.

  1. What types of positions do you place?

Nannies, chefs, butlers, chauffeurs, private security, housekeepers, house/estate managers, personal assistants, baby nurses, domestic couples, laundress/lady’s maids and much more.

  1. What is your ideal candidate?

We look for four key traits. Specifically, someone who is experienced, friendly, accommodating, and flexible.

  1. Do you place across the country or locally? If so where?

Over the past 55 years, we have developed a strong following in many American cities. We have come to identify a group of regions that have the highest demand for our services. While we do place in multiple locations, we have found that by focusing on some key markets, we are able to serve our clients better as well as build a strong network for sourcing candidates.

Following are the primary domestic cities we have a focus on servicing: New York, Miami Beach, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Greenwich, Hamptons, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

  1. Do you look for any special training or certifications, such as college degrees, private service schools, etc.

Certain positions require a certain education level or skill set.  Any continuing education is a plus.

  1. Where do you announce your open jobs?

Of course, our website is always a good source. We do advertise on EstateJobs.com and promote our positions through our social media accounts:

Pavillion Website www.pavillionagency.com

Pavillion Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Pavillion-Agency-181560385247783/

Pavillion Twitter Handle- @pavillionagency

  1. How should a candidate apply for a job? Do you want an online application, resume or both?

We would like both.

Apply at https://pavillionagency.com/for-applicants/application

  1. Do you belong to any professional associations?

International Nanny Associtation (INA)

My Nannies Circle

Better Business Bureau (BBB)

  1. How can people contact you?

Call our main office at 212-889-6609

Email: info@pavillionagency.com

Follow us on Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/Pavillion-Agency-181560385247783/

Private Service Educator Spotlight: The Charles MacPherson Academy

charles macpherson butler academyLocated in Toronto, Canada, The Charles MacPherson Academy has been preparing individuals for private service careers since 2009.  The Academy was started by Charles MacPherson, who is an experienced international butler. The school focuses on a mix of technical skills and management concepts to prepare students for such jobs as Estate Managers, Household Managers, Personal Assistants, and Major Domos in addition to traditional Butler roles.

One of the truly unique aspects of the school is their approach to placement after graduation.  In addition to being exposed to placement options through Charles MacPherson Associate’s placement division, they also present their graduates to other agencies for consideration.  Graduates benefit from Charles’ reputation in the industry for producing quality candidates, especially those seeking to transfer into the industry from another profession.

In this month’s Educator Spotlight, Charles tells us more about his Academy…

  1. How long have you been in business?

Charles MacPherson Associates has been in business since 1996, the school was opened and certified as a Private Career College in 2009.

Our experience working within the homes of high and ultra-high-net-worth families (as well as luxury hotels and clubs, palaces of Royal families, etc.) was heavily referenced in the development of the program’s curriculum.  Our significant experience in the field means that we understand the skills and trouble-shooting knowledge required by would-be Household Managers because we have done the job and have the experience of a private service insider.

  1. In a nutshell, what do you teach?

Our specialty is both Household Management and Butlering Skills for the 21st century.  Our program focuses on foundational skills for the operation of luxury residences.  We premised our curriculum on a core belief that good Managers understand the skills and knowledge required to perform the various positions within a household.  Without that understanding, a Manager is incapable of evaluating and upgrading the performance of staff members.  This is why we teach practical skills in areas like housekeeping, laundry, and the care of art and antiques in addition to household management and butlering skills.  Our objective is to educate individuals to become “Walking and Working” Managers as opposed to desk-bound individuals who are removed from day-to-day household operations.

  1. What makes your training unique?

We firmly believe in the concept of “learning by doing.”  So much of what we teach is practical skills. We invested heavily in the production of a formal curriculum and proprietary textbook. Our faculty are experts in their respective fields and utilize a teaching laboratory that provides students with the opportunity to work firsthand with the best of the best. For this reason, we invested in the tools, materials, and equipment one would find in a luxury home. Students learn with the best so that, from day one in school, they develop an appreciation for the handling, care, and maintenance of luxury goods.

  1. How long are the courses?

The current certificate program is an intensive 4-weeks, Monday to Friday with a half day on Saturday. The program can also be taken in 1-week segments to accommodate scheduling constraints.

  1. How frequently are the programs run?

We offer three sessions per year; Winter, Spring and Fall.

  1. Do you have an online or correspondence courses?

We believe in the importance of an in-school, personal, hands-on learning experience. At this time, there is no convincing way to virtually replicate the quality of that experience.

  1. What are the requirements to attend your school?

Applicants must be high-school graduates or pass a language equivalency test.  During the application process, we also conduct interviews and evaluate each applicant and assess what we refer to as their “transferrable skill sets.”  Some students come to us with a private service background, however many do not.  For the latter group, we spend time identifying skills that would be of value to our clients but are not necessarily highlighted by applicants.  Our objective is to admit only those individuals who will most benefit from the program and have the highest prospect of success in their new career.

  1. Who is your ideal student?

Our graduates have such diverse backgrounds.  The students who do best tend to come from fields like hospitality, management, or positions such as executive or personal assistants.  The most important thing, however, is that each student has an understanding and appreciation for service or a willingness to learn and integrate a service mentality into what they have to offer potential employers.  Not everyone has this ability.  It is the secret sauce of private service.

  1. Do you offer placement assistance to your graduates? What is your placement rate?

Yes, we proudly offer placement services to graduates as well as non-graduates.  We are careful to tell each applicant that we make no guarantees of placement since we do not control the variables of the labor market. Through our own placement division and through strategic relationships with reputable placement agencies across North America as well as the UK, we aggressively market our graduates so that they can find good jobs as quickly as possible.  The rate of placement does fluctuate from session to session for various reasons. Placement boils down to combined efforts that must include the active participation of graduates.

  1. Do you belong to any professional associations?

Our firm and individual team members are proud to be part of numerous professional associations spanning the private service, hospitality, hotel, protocol, and etiquette industries.

We belong to DEMA (Domestic Estate Managers Association) as well as PDI-POA (Protocol Diplomacy International – Protocol Officers Association.)

  1. Are you accredited? If so, with what entity…

We are an accredited Private Career College governed by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities [Canada].  The Ministry provides standards and oversight and ensures that our Academy meets its obligations to students.

  1. How much does your program cost?

The 4-week program is $7,500 (CAD) inclusive of our proprietary textbook and classroom materials. Accommodation is the responsibility of each student, although we are happy to provide guidance in that area.

  1. Are financial aid, scholarships or payment plans available?

Not at this time.

  1. How can people contact you?

Andrew Gayman, Academy Director, at (416) 361-6434 or email andrew@charlesmacpherson.com

Ask Donna: Does LinkedIn really matter for my job search?

Dear Donna:

I’ve been looking for a job for several months and haven’t gotten much traction. A friend suggested that maybe I need to improve my LinkedIn profile. Right now, I have my work history on it but that is about it. I have never gotten any response to my LinkedIn profile before. It just seems like another thing to manage when I’m busy enough already just applying to jobs.

Does LinkedIn really matter that much for my job search?

Thanks,

Way Too Busy

 

Dear Busy:

I hate to tell you this, but your friend is right. LinkedIn is the new standard that many employers rely on when sourcing new candidates. Let’s take a look at the numbers:

  • There are over 500 million users on LinkedIn.
  • It is estimated that one in every four professionals on the planet are on LinkedIn.
  • Over 89% of recruiters are looking for candidates on LinkedIn.
  • Even if the company didn’t post the ad on LinkedIn, 90% of employers will look at the candidate’s LinkedIn profile before calling them for an interview.
  • Only 35% of job seekers are fully engaged on LinkedIn. (NOTE: while many job seekers are present on LinkedIn, that doesn’t mean they are using all of the tools available.)

Take into consideration that there are literally millions of publicly-posted AND privately-posted jobs on LinkedIn, it only makes sense for anyone seeking a professional-level job should be on the site. In fact, many employers are now allowing candidates to apply with their LinkedIn profile from their company’s application system, or ATS.

However, there’s a lot more to it than just being an online resume. If all that you have is your work history, it’s no wonder that you are not getting any quality contacts from the site.

Here’s what you are missing:

  1. Attracting recruiters

The best LinkedIn profiles will be fully complete and key word rich. This means that you need a compelling headline, a strong summary, concise but powerful work experience descriptions, and a complete skills section that reflects terms for your target job. When recruiters search for candidates on LinkedIn, they find them because of the amount of key words in their LinkedIn profile. If you didn’t bother to fill out your profile, the recruiters won’t bother with contacting you.

But that’s not all: LinkedIn will also favor users who are more active on the site AND those that have more connections, either personal 1st Degree connections or active Group connections.

  1. Giving employers the rest of the picture

When employers check out candidates who applied to their jobs, they are looking for some very important things. Most notably, they want to see Recommendations (which is NOT the same as the Endorsements on your Skills) and community involvement, such as volunteer work, professional organizations, projects, outside courses and so on. They may check out which Groups you belong to and what Companies you are following.

The most important thing they look for is consistency: does your work history coincide with your resume? While I do not suggest copying your resume word-for-word into your LinkedIn profile, the facts must be the same: company names, dates, locations, titles, and so on. Plus, the descriptions within the LinkedIn profile must be consistent. It drives them crazy when they see a highly detailed work history for every single job except the most current one. It looks lazy and sloppy.

  1. Connecting directly with hiring managers, potential colleagues, and industry influencers

Believe it or not, with a little strategic thinking and understanding of how the site works, it is possible to track down and connect with decision makers on LinkedIn. Even if you don’t find the direct hiring manager, connecting with current or past employees of your target companies can give you great insight into their culture and hiring procedures.

  1. Building your reputation

Whether you are posting your own articles or sharing content from other sources, one of the best way to build your brand is to share quality information on a consistent basis. Plus, when people look at your profile, they can all see your past activity, which includes these articles and posts.

  1. This IS a social network

The best thing about LinkedIn are the Groups. In these, you can connect with other professionals that can help your career. Note I said CAREER, not JOB SEARCH. Building a network is a long game, not just the short-term goal of getting a job. I know that some of my favorite people I’ve met in the past few years only know me online. Plus, you can use the Groups for professional development, learning about the trends in your industry. Nothing improves a candidate’s chances like staying on top of the latest developments.

Good luck with your networking. Remember, the old adage that 80% of jobs are found through networking is still very true. It’s just that much of the old school networking has morphed into the digital age through such sites as LinkedIn.

 

Donna Shannon

 

Got a question for Donna? Just email your question to april@personaltouchcareerservices.com

About the author: Donna Shannon is not the feel-good career coach you might expect.  For over eight years, she worked as the grumpy recruiter who never let your resume get through to the hiring manager. Since 2004, she has been teaching effective job search strategies to bypass the corporate guard dogs just like her.  Her book, “How to Get a Job Without Going Crazy” is in its 2nd edition. Through her consulting business, The Personal Touch Career Services, Donna offers top quality resumes, coaching, and specialized training for job seekers across the country.

Ask Donna: Are job fairs worth the effort?

career fair cattle call

Are job fairs just a cattle call?

Dear Donna:

Every now and then, I see a career fair coming to my area. While they all promote the fact that there will be “decision makers” present from top companies, I am not certain that these job fairs are worth the effort. It seems to me that they are a cattle call where I have to compete with tons of other job seekers, or that the employers tend to be the lures for “starting your own business” as a financial advisor or insurance agent. Even when I do get to talk to one of my target companies, it feels like their recruiter just tells me to “apply on the website.”

So, are these job fairs really worth the effort?

  • Time Crunched in Lakewood

 

Hi Time Crunched:

I feel your pain! Having sat on both sides of the conference booth table – as the recruiter and the job seeker – some of your observations are true, but that is not the whole story. In fact, career fairs can be beneficial, depending on your circumstances and the type of job fair it is.

  1. Types of career fairs

Fact: not all job fairs are created equal. To determine if this particular career fair fits with your job search, it is helpful to understand what you are considering.

University Sponsored: held at the college, these career fairs are set up by the institution’s career services department for their students and graduates. Because of the relationships developed by career services, these often lead to valuable conversations with the recruiters about both jobs and internships.

Industry-Specific Fairs: some niche industries, such as IT, luxury private service, aerospace, or other technical fields, have career fairs that are organized by outside entities that then sell the booth space to the different employers. Because the employers know that the fair is designed to attract top talent in their space, it is more likely for the candidates to make a quality connection with the recruiters. One such organization is Expo Experts: http://www.expoexpertsllc.com/.

Sometimes you will also see these fairs as part of the annual convention for the niche industry, just like the Domestic Estate Management Association (DEMA) organizes every year: http://demaconvention.com/index.php/annual-convention/career-day-job-fair

General Job Fairs: these tend to be the “cattle call” that most frustrated job seekers thing of when considering a career fair. These could be organized from any multitude of sources, such as the local business magazine, the county workforce centers, or even third parties. Sometimes these job fairs may be specifically targeting those who are coming out of the military. These also tend to have the greatest variety of employers, including the 100% commission sales jobs, the military branches, and the “be your own boss” opportunities.

  1. When to go

Job fairs can be time consuming. When considering a specific fair, take a look at the participating employers; this is usually listed on the fair’s website. If you are seeing companies and recruiters that you really want to meet face-to-face, make the effort to suit up and show up. If you only see one or two on your list, you might want to consider a more beneficial networking effort, such as contacting those same recruiters and managers through LinkedIn.

  1. What the recruiters are doing

I agree that one of the worst practices that has emerged in the modern career fair is recruiters telling job seekers to “go apply on the website.” Some companies won’t even take your resume anymore! So why did the employer bother to show up?

Recruiters do value meeting the job seeker. If someone comes across as a top candidate, they will make a note of his or her name and credentials. However, this is also true for screening out candidates.  I have been to many job fairs over the years where the recruiters will be nice to someone’s face, and then the moment the candidate walks away, mark the resume as a big “no.” Therefore it is extremely important to put your best foot forward when attending the fair.

  1. Making the right impression

To avoid that big “no,” pay attention to these job fair best practices. First of all, if this is an industry-specific job fair, try to reach out to the recruiters BEFORE the fair itself. Then when you meet the recruiter face-to-face you will be familiar to them. Next, dress the part. A career fair is really a JOB INTERVIEW. Even if they don’t sit down with you individually, that initial 60-second introduction is the same as a screening interview. Be sure that you are wearing proper business attire for your industry. Be sure to bring multiple copies of your resume and business card. Even if they don’t take the paper copy, you need to look prepared.

Finally, follow up. If you don’t bother to send an email or LinkedIn invitation to the people you contacted – which includes other job fair attendees, not just the recruiters or company representatives – then you really did just waste your time.

Good Luck!

Donna Shannon

 

Got a question for Donna? Just email your question to april@personaltouchcareerservices.com

About the author: Donna Shannon is not the feel-good career coach you might expect.  For over eight years, she worked as the grumpy recruiter who never let your resume get through to the hiring manager. Since 2004, she has been teaching effective job search strategies to bypass the corporate guard dogs just like her.  Her book, “How to Get a Job Without Going Crazy” is in its 2nd edition. Through her consulting business, The Personal Touch Career Services, Donna offers top quality resumes, coaching, and specialized training for job seekers across the country. 

Recruiter Spotlight: The Syverson Group (TSG)

Located in Alpharetta, Georgia, The Syverson Group (TSG) is a world-recognized recruitment firm that stresses the importance of building long-term relationships with not only their clients, but with their top talent as well. Fortune 100 companies and global businesses rely on their personalized, match-making philosophy for retained searches to hire not only key personnel in the executive suite, but also top performing sales and technical positions.

Having built an exceptional reputation in the medical industry – specifically medical device, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, diagnostics, and other specialized disciplines – they have expanded their focus to include IT, manufacturing, higher education, and the environmental sciences. Past clients include Abbott Diagnostics, GE Healthcare, Roche, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Stryker, and many more.

In today’s Recruiter Spotlight, President and Founder Dain Syverson gives us more insight into their successful firm, their specific industries, and their ideal candidates…

 

  1. How long have you been in business?

The Syverson Group, LLC – TSG has been in business for 5 years and I’ve been in the Executive Search business for over 15 years total.  Most of the TSG staff have extensive, successful careers in relevant markets or in the executive search industry. We are recognized domain experts.

 

  1. What makes your agency unique?

We are a boutique, retained executive search firm with a great reputation based on competence, likability and exceptional delivery for our clients and prospective candidates.  TSG has the absolute best-in-class performance metrics for our clients: 100% success rate over the last 10+ years on thousands of engagements (industry average is 60-65%); over 90% of our placed candidates remain with our clients; and over 60% of our placed candidates have had multiple promotions during their tenure with our clients.

 

  1. What type of positions do you place? Do you specialize in a particular industry?

TSG is a full-service agency, placing Board, C-Suite, Vice President, and Director level positions to front line sales and technical talent for our clients.  Primarily, we specialize in the medical markets of diagnostics, life sciences, medical products, medical devices, distribution, pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, and biotechnology.  Over the years, our business has expanded into IT, Automotive, Industrial and Manufacturing, Higher Education, and Environmental Services

 

  1. What is your ideal candidate?

TSG typically represents prospective candidates that perform in the top 10% of their respective peer group.  Additionally, we value and assess attributes and talents beyond the work experience to ensure that our clients and candidates form long term, mutually beneficial relationships and sustainable performance excellence.

  1. Do you place across the country or locally? What other locations do you serve?

TSG works with clients on a global basis inclusive of North America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, India, Asia-Pacific and Latin & South America.

 

  1. Where do you announce your open jobs?

Most often, they are on our website (www.thesyversongroup.com) but because we “hunt for talent” and directly initiate contact vs. “gathering” with job boards or posts, most of TSG’s placements are passive, successfully employed candidates. In other words, over 90% of our talent wasn’t looking for new opportunities until we approached them for a specific role.

 

  1. What is the #1 thing a candidate can do to stand out from the crowd?

Be responsive, honest, direct, candid, and possess high integrity. We want people who do and be what they say they are without the unnecessary “fluff.”

  1. How should a candidate apply for a job? Do you want an online application, resume, or both?

They can reach out to any TSG individual and request more information.

 

  1. Do you belong to any professional associations?

Various, with an emphasis on market-specific or community related instead of recruiter associations.

 

  1. How can people contact you?

Website: www.thesyversongroup.com

Email: dain@thesyversongroup.com

Telephone: 770-495-5997

 

Would your company like to be featured in our Recruiter Spotlight? There is no charge! Just contact donna@personaltouchcareerservices.com to find out more.

Ask Donna: Why won’t the recruiters call me back?

Hey Donna-

I’m a job seeker who has been trying to work with various different recruiters that specialize in my industry. While they don’t work for the company directly, their websites often feature jobs that are a great fit for my experience and skills. Sometimes they even reach out to me on LinkedIn before I even applied!

However, once I apply or do a phone call with them, they go silent. I can’t get them to return my calls or answer my emails. Why are they so rude, especially when they thought I was a great candidate before?

  • Frustrated in Denver

Dear Frustrated:

First and foremost, you need to understand the nature of these recruitment agencies, also known as headhunters or search firms. As talent brokers, they often act like a fine dining steakhouse, sourcing the best raw ingredients to give an exceptional experience to their clientele. With that in mind, realize these facts when it comes to dealing with a recruiter…

  1. You are meat.

I know that sounds harsh, but the sooner you understand that you are the meat – the actual product that a recruiter is selling – the less frustrating your relationship with them will be. You are not their client: the employers are. As such, the employers will always be on the top of their contact list, while candidates may not have the same status.

  1. You might not be on the menu.

Recruiters usually focus on the jobs they are trying to fill right now, even though they will collect resumes and applications for candidates even if they don’t have an immediate opening that fits your skills and experience. If you don’t fit that instant need, you will just be put in the freezer to be stored for later. Of course, anyone in the meat locker usually gets a slower response time.

When a job order is hot and in-demand, recruiters become much more aggressive and consistent about their communication with the candidate. This all relates to the employers’ needs once again. Just because the recruiter pursued you endlessly for one job it doesn’t mean that they will be as diligent with the next job posting.

  1. You can’t tell if the employer has “food sensitivities.”

One reason why an employer chooses to use a recruiter is that they are seeking something very specific, possibly in terms of culture, experience, skills, industry, or achievements. The recruiter knows far more details about the job than the candidates ever will, including the hidden deal breakers (or “allergies”) that they won’t disclose to the job seeker. Just because the job looks perfect to you on paper it doesn’t mean that you are actually the best match for the job. Rather than disclose this confidential information, the recruiter just goes silent.

  1. Become “Grade A Free-Range Organic Beef.”

Ultimately, it is your responsibility to follow up with the recruiter. Don’t just wait for them to call you. Once you are registered with an agency, feel free to call and touch base a couple of times a month, especially if you see a job opening that matches your experience.

Recruiters are often inundated with candidates, especially if they are small, boutique firm that offers employers a personalized experience. This means that they have less staff members to manage candidates than they do for managing client relationships. By becoming responsive on your own communications, including providing any extra information as soon as they need it, it elevates your status as a candidate.

  1. Don’t develop “mad cow disease.”

Just because you want to stay in touch, don’t go completely overboard and turn into a pest that borders on harassment. Don’t call, text, or email every day if they aren’t reaching out to you first. Believe me, they are getting your messages and noting your files, even if they aren’t calling you back right away. Remember, they are dealing with today’s specials and you may not be on the menu. Overloading a recruitment firm can quickly turn into a black mark. Be sure to track your own progress with them, such as the jobs you applied to, who you spoke with, and when. Nothing annoys a recruiter more than a candidate that applies to every single job they posted without showing any forethought or customization to fit the specific job.

  1. Some agencies use wranglers.

Fortunately, some recruiters do believe in building ongoing relationships with their candidates. They may even have dedicated staff members that are devoted to staying in touch with their stable of talent. Over the years, I have seen some recruiters repeated place their top candidates in different jobs. If you are lucky enough to fall in with a recruiter that values their talent as much as the employers, keep up your communication to stay top-of-mind for the next job.

Good Luck!

Donna Shannon

 

Got a question for Donna? Just email your question to april@personaltouchcareerservices.com

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