How big is your world?

Sunset at the north pole

Do you suffer from “Shrinking World Syndrome?”

One of the problems with job searching is the isolation, especially if you aren’t working right now.  The days blend into each other, often filled with loneliness or a sense of emptiness as you pore through the job boards once again.

This is “Shrinking World Syndrome:” the tendency to fall into repeated patterns of inefficiency.  As it continues, it gets harder and harder to think of ways to break out of the rut – and your world shrinks.

How can one combat Shrinking World Syndrome?

The biggest action to take is to get out of the house.  At least once a week, make a commitment to get out of the house and – gasp! – around other human beings.  In person. Face-to-face.

It doesn’t have to be a huge networking meeting, but that does fall into one of the possibilities.  It can also be doing something you enjoy, or meeting one-on-one with an old friend for coffee.  Volunteering at local charities counts as well.

The main thing is to encourage interaction at some level.  Our world starts to expand when we share it with others.

How can I find other people?

Fortunately, there are more ways than ever to connect with other people.  www.Meetup.com is great for finding groups of like-minded individuals, with groups for everything from business networking to Saturday morning hiking groups.

Looking for different non-profits? The Colorado Non-Profit Association (aka CANPO) provides a list of all of their members, which is more than 1,700: http://www.coloradononprofits.org/

Many LinkedIn groups also meet in person.  Check with your group organizer to see if they are doing any events.  Group members often post their events as well.  Plus, you can ask the question to your group about what they like to do, and you will get a lot of quality answers.  Great way to start a meaningful conversation and get to know your group members!

Speaking of associations, these professional organizations can help a lot to connect with other people.  Most of them meet monthly and even offer discounts for volunteers.  Jobing.com has a great list of associations in the Denver area: http://denver.jobing.com/org

What if my Shrinking World Syndrome comes back?

Fortunately, SWS is not fatal to your job search, so long as you make the effort to continue getting out of the house.  Should you have a week that you just can’t make it out, be sure to make a plan for the next week.

Modern job searching is all about making quality connections.  Embrace getting to know others, and your world will get bigger.  Sometimes meeting just one person can change your life… but that can only happen if you make the effort to get out of the house.

Networking tip for shy people

Is networking the best tool for a job search?  Like everything else, it depends on how you use it.  If you’re just calling people and asking for jobs, then no, it does not.  If you can offer something of value – knowledge, experience or even friendship – then yes, it can.

 However, many people struggle with chronic shyness.  As they berate themselves for not reaching out, attending networking groups and cold-calling companies, their self esteem can slide as well.  But even these aggressive, extroverted networking efforts are not necessarily the best way to build an effective network.

Get Over Networking Fear

If you’re not comfortable with face-to-face networking, try it on-line first.  Websites like www.linkedin.com and www.facebook.com are great places to contact people.  If you can break the ice in electronic worlds, you will be more confident when you meet people face-to-face.

Social networking sites are growing exponentially, which opens more and more back doors to your target companies.  However, there is more to gain than just job contacts.  Networking is really about people helping each other by sharing knowledge.  This is done in groups.

When you join groups, ask questions and get involved. If you like someone’s answers, look at their profile.  Is this somebody you would like to know more about? Try emailing them in private about their answers, rather than just posting your comments in the discussion areas.

After you’ve shared some emails back and forth, then ask the person to connect.  They don’t have to work for your immediate target companies to be valuable. The goal is to build a self-sustaining network that will last beyond the job search.

Once you get accustomed to reaching out to people, then go after your target companies, seeking them on LinkedIn and Twitter.  Just like anything, networking is a skill that gets better with practice. If you’ve started to build your network already, you will quickly become a valued asset instead of “that creepy guy” who tracks people down and bombards them with silly or irrelevant emails.

Learn to build a valuable network.  It’s not really about building the numbers if you have no idea who these people are or what your connection to them is.  As in real life, concentrate on building mutually beneficial business relationships.  That is what true networking is all about.

Ways to interpret company culture

One of the biggest challenges with a job search is determining the company culture before you go work for an employer.  Now more than ever, employers are looking for the “right fit:” someone who not only has the right skill set to do the job, but will also work well with others.

Fortunately, thanks to the modern job searching tools, there are more resources to find out about the company culture than ever before.  Glassdoor.com is one of these examples.  And of course, asking a current or past employee is a good way to gauge the environment of a workplace.  However, both of these methods carry a flaw: what if the source is a disgruntled employee?

In this presentation for the MBA students and alumni at the University of Colorado in Denver, I explain how to interpret these sources.  It’s all about the way things are said… and diligent job seekers can use even the disgruntled comments to their advantage.

The Passion Statement: Keystone of your job search

Happy Valentine’s Day! In this season of love, a very important question comes to mind:

Do you love your job?

It’s a very valid question, no matter what the economic conditions or how tough the job market is. In fact, workers who love their jobs are more productive, have fewer sick days and produce higher quality work.

When contacting a potential employer, don’t be afraid to show your passion for your profession…

The Passion Statement

An excerpt from “Get a Job Without Going Crazy (2nd Ed)” available on Amazon.com

Smart managers want to hire someone who is passionate about what they do.  There are a number of reasons for this.  Passionate employees are more engaged, tend to work harder, have less absenteeism and stay in the job longer.  When all things are equal between candidates – skills, experience and education – the hiring manager will take the person who is excited to do the job.  They have even been known to choose the passionate candidate over the more qualified ones.

So why not tell the hiring managers your passion in your resume and cover letter?

It’s a bold move, which makes some people uncomfortable.  It’s easy to write the standard “results-oriented professional with 10 years of experience in creating highly effective teams.”  It’s safe.  It’s comfortable.

And it also won’t impress anybody.

In this crowded job market, you need to go beyond safe and comfortable to make a good impression.  A resume that sounds just like everybody else is not unique.

This is why the Passion Statement is so important.  A Passion Statement is a three-sentence summary of what you love about your job, expressed in key words and phrases that HR and managers will recognize.  That’s the real trick: it’s not enough to say your zeal; it also has to be in key words.

Finding your passion

The first step for any Passion Statement is to figure out what you really do love about your job. Take a moment and consider your favorite job.  Why did you like this job?  What made you excited to go to work every day? These can be specific duties, projects or responsibilities.  Maybe it was being a leader, or the people you worked with.  Maybe it was getting to use unique skills or learning new things.  Brainstorm as many different things about the job that you can.

Sample Passion Statement:

For over 12 years, I have exceeded both my personal and my professional sales goals.  I live to find the clients, discover their needs, build the relationship and close the deal.  Once committed to a project, there is nothing that can stand in the way of my success.

Let’s take a closer look at our sample Passion Statement for the experienced salesperson.

The first sentence, “for over 12 years, I have exceeded both my personal and my professional sales goals.”  We always start with the years of experience because that is one of HR’s major screening criteria.  Next is the core screening criteria; in sales, reaching and exceeding goals is what all hiring managers want.

Sentence two: “I live to find the clients, discover their needs, build the relationship and close the deal.”  Each one of these steps came straight from the Key Element Detector™.  But even more important than that, these are the aspects of the job that this candidate loved the most.  When speaking with her in an interview, the passion comes out naturally.  Including it in her Passion Statement lets managers know she understands exactly what is important about this job.

Final sentence: “once committed to a project, there is nothing that can stand in the way of my success.”  The closing sentence is all about a key personality trait.  Personality matters on resumes, not just facts.  By demonstrating a relevant personality feature, it ties together all of the elements in the Passion Statement.

Using Passion Statements beyond the resume

A well-crafted Passion Statement can be used anywhere.  It can be the basis of your networking introduction.  You can use it in your LinkedIn profile or other social media platforms.  You can even use pieces of it in your cover letters.

Passion Statements are the one piece of your resume that is all about you – and that makes it a valuable tool throughout your job search process.

Want to know more about Passion Statements?  Check out my book, “How to Get a Job Without Going Crazy (2nd Ed)” on Amazon.com – available in paperback, on Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook…

The ICLMA: An essential resource for every private service professional

ICLMA logoFor the estate manager or personal assistant, a high-level concierge can be a lifesaver, finding everything from the best hotels in Paris to last-minute Super Bowl tickets.  And if you need to find one of these well-connected professional concierge, one of the best resources is the International Concierge and Lifestyle Management Association (ICLMA). http://www.iclma.org/

Founded by speaker, author and concierge-extraordinaire Katharine Giovanni, the ICLMA serves every configuration of the industry, including the Corporate Concierge, Independent Concierge, Hotel Concierge, Lifestyle Managers and yes, Personal Assistants.Triangle concierge logo

“There’s a fine line between an Estate Manager or a Personal Assistant and the concierge,” stated Giovanni in a recent interview with Donna Shannon.  “It’s like we are in the same church, just sitting in different pews.  We all are trying to squeeze 36 hours into a 24 hour day.  Our association is all about being a resource to each other.”

And resource it is.  From a comprehensive on-line library, business insurance and member forums, the ICLMA is a go-to resource for concierge across the world.

“We have also have private forums on LinkedIn and Facebook, just for our members,” continues Giovanni.  “One of our members was in Paris, and wanted recommendations for the top hotels.  He posted it in LinkedIn, and shortly there were suggestions flooding in.”  Having access to the local knowledge base from professionals in-the-know is a great way to look like a hero to your principal.

Are you looking for a concierge to help with a specific situation?  The ICLMA has a public, searchable data base of their international members.  Searches can be narrowed by name, country and state, giving anyone in luxury lifestyle management a connection to high-level concierge no matter where their principals take them.

While the ICLMA does not provide certification or training, Katharine’s other business, Triangle Concierge, offers a variety of training materials.  “I have products for every level of experience in this business, from my blog for the curious to books, home study and even private training directly with me.  My books are even available on Kindle.”  To find out more about Katharine’s training, check out her website at www.triangleconcierge.com.

For many people, acting as an independent concierge is the break-through into the luxury private service industry.  Many concierge transform into a dedicated personal assistant / estate manager for one family or principal.

“And it goes the other way too,” added Katharine.  “From the private home into running a successful concierge business.  In the end, we are here to make our client’s lives simpler, providing everything they could see on Google – as long as it’s legal, moral and ethical, of course.”

LINKS:

ICLMA: http://www.iclma.org/

Triangle Concierge: www.triangleconcierge.com

Check out Katharine’s motivational video blog!  http://blip.tv/kgiovanni

Katharine Giovanni will be providing a virtual conference from Feb 9-10, 2012! Here’s the details…

Concierge Conference – February 9 to 10, 2012

Starting a concierge or lifestyle management business? Learn how to stay alive in the concierge industry during these tough economic times! Join Katharine Giovanni, award-winning author and the world’s leading concierge trainer and consultant in an information-packed workshop that will teach you everything you need to know about starting your own concierge and/or lifestyle management business. Katharine has been successfully teaching concierge for over twelve years. In fact, by the end of the workshop you will have a greater focus on where you want to take your business, and a better working knowledge of how to get there!  There is so much information that you’ll look like a deer in headlights by the time she’s done! You’ll get all the information that you need in two jam-packed days so that you can get your new business started fast.  To register, or to see more information, please visit: http://www.triangleconcierge.com/start-up-training/group-concierge-video-conference/

5280 Magazine reveals Denver’s 50 most powerful individuals

For the private service industry, it can be challenging to tap into the hidden job market.  Some of the tactics for corporate job seekers just don’t work as well.  One of the biggest problems is identifying target employers, also known as passive employers.

A passive employer is someone who is not advertising that they have a specific hiring need.  Instead, the job seeker contacts them with a proposal of how they can make their business run more smoothly.  For corporate job seekers, this process starts with identifying target companies and then researching everything they can about that business and it’s industry.

But for private service professionals, it can be very challenging to find who the high net worth individuals are, much less how to contact them.

Here is where articles like 5280’s list of the 50 most powerful persons in the Denver market can help.

Like the Fortune Magazine’s list of 100 Top Companies to Work For, the 5280 list points out names and influential people that aren’t always on the forefront of the news.

The list includes some names you would expect, such as Governor John Hickenlooper, John Elway and Phil Anschutz.  But others aren’t so obvious, such as Dr. Patricia Gabow, the CEO of Denver Health who “remains not only the most powerful health-care figure in the city; she’s one of the most influential voices on health care in the country” (Gardner, Potter, and Hatlestad, 2011).

Other people on the list are note-worthy for their connections – and their ventures.  For example, Gail Clapper is the Director of the Colorado Forum, which is a state-wide political action group comprised of 65 top CEOs in Colorado.  Now there’s an organization whose members could be a savvy Household Managers new employer…

The article also represents a great opportunity.  Not only is this a great way to find out names, it is also an excuse to reach out to the people on the list.  A hand-written note saying “congratulations for making the list” can be a creative way to start opening the door – along with pointing out how having a private service professional to manage their personal affairs can help them stay on the list next year.

 

Check out the full article at http://www.5280.com/magazine/2011/12/5280-fifty

Networking during the holidays

Just because people won’t be in the office for a few days, that is no reason to stop your networking efforts – especially if you are looking for a job right now.  Keep these networking sources in mind while you celebrate the season…

Family and Friends

When getting together with friends and family, mention how you are still looking for work.  However, keep in mind one important rule: No WHINING!

Don’t lament about how difficult the job search has been.  Instead, share the positive news.  This could be anything from a recent interview to an update on your resume.  Be sure to mention what kind of work you are looking for, including your target companies or employers.  People tend to forget that people are seeking a job, or exactly what kind of work they do.  A positive pitch can help jog their memory about recent news they may have heard.

Association Networking Events

During the holidays, many associations halt their regularly-scheduled meetings to hold parties or other social gatherings.  This is a great way to get to know people in your industry.  The most valuable networking is when people make real, personal connections with each other.  Not sure about what associations you should target?  In Denver, Jobing.com has a long and comprehensive listing of associations on their Resources page.  If you have a specialized industry, Google the name and “association” or similar terms to find leads.

Holiday Meetup.com or LinkedIn Groups Get-togethers

Just like associations, many of the groups that gather in the virtual realm like to create a holiday event in the real world.  In Denver, the Linked to Denver  group is holding their annual holiday party on November 29, 2011.  Drawing up to 400 people, it is one of the best business networking parties for the holidays.  And the best news yet: it’s free!  To register, go to http://DenverHolidayParty.com.

The Holiday Email

While holiday or Christmas cards should be reserved for friends and close business contacts (such as your references), it is very affordable to send a holiday email to all of your connections.  Notice that the goal here is not to say “I’m looking for a job;” instead, your message should be “thank you for all of your support this year.”

After all, reaching out to others with genuine gratitude is what true networking is all about.

Thinking about Holiday Cards

Hand written holiday cards help job seekersToday I started compiling my list of Holiday Card recipients – seems really early, doesn’t it?  But not from a business perspective.  Just a preliminary look identified a list of 100+ business contacts, clients, and professional friends.

Businesses have known for a long time that Holiday Cards are a form of marketing – a way of saying “thanks” to all of their contacts in addition to being a festive tradition. It is a way to stay on the customers’ minds during the holidays, keeping the business name familiar in anticipation of January business.

For job seekers, the Holiday Card can serve the same purpose.

So who among your contacts should be getting a Holiday Card?

  • Friends and Family (of course!)
  • Your staffing / placement agencies – both the owners and the recruiters
  • Your contacts at your top target employers
  • Mentors, helpers and cheerleaders
  • Fellow job seekers in your industry
  • Key members at your professional associations
  • Teachers or fellow students from current or recent education (including workshops)

In addition to sending the card, include a little piece that you are still available.  Don’t turn it into one of the pages-long annual summary that some families send – just make a quick note, along with highlights of your top attributes.

Worried about cost?  There is nothing wrong with getting the bargain cards at Walgreens or other retail shops.  Besides, the hand-written signature looks more personal than the printed corporate Holiday Cards.

A moment for gratitude

balance in all things

Take a moment to balance your spirit with gratitude

Often times when we’re in a job search, it is easy to forget to be grateful.  After all, being stuck in your house, staring at that accusing computer screen is not a pleasant place to be.

Just for today, take one moment to be grateful for something.  It can be large – like a supportive family – or something small – like enjoying a favorite dinner at home.  Whatever it is, hold it in your mind for a moment.  Let your feelings enjoy every bit of it.  Explore why this is special to you.  Savor the experience while you breathe deep, eyes closed, and just live it for a moment.

Now open your eyes.  Don’t you feel better?  Try starting everyday with a moment of gratitude.  You’ll be amazed how this one positive act can breed positive energy for the rest of your day.

Don’t be spam: how to get the hiring manager to actually read your email

Don't be spam with your resumeIn the immortal words of Monty Python, “Spam! Wonderful spam! Spam! Wonderful spam! Spam, spam, spam, spam…”

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what many job seekers emails to key decision makers looks like. The world is flooded with spam, to the point that legitimate emails – like yours – are getting caught in trash folders or screened out entirely.

So how does one make sure that his important resume doesn’t end up in the spam pile?

Use an Engaging Subject Line

No manager is going to open an email with a subject line of “My Resume.” This is a huge flag, and it is more likely to get forwarded to HR or just deleted without being opened. Instead, use an engaging subject line, customized to your specific target.

A couple of things that managers care about are themselves and their company.  If you’re paying attention to current news through such local sources as the Denver Business Journal, ask them something about the recent events. Another source is their LinkedIn profile.  Ask them something about their career or their company.

Correct: Your recent merger; Question about your LinkedIn profile;

Avoid like the plague: My resume; Letter of Introduction; Job opening at XYZ Company

 

It’s all About the Name

When sending an email to a manager of one of your target companies, make sure you use their correct name.  This is in addition to the correct email address.  If you start off the body of the email personally addressed to them, it is more likely that they will open the attached resume:

Correct: Dear Mr. Smith: or Dear Bob:

Avoid like the plague: Dear Sir, To Whom It May Concern, no greeting at all

 

Send to Only One Person at a Time

Spam filters look for mass emails, even the ones where the other email addresses are in the “BCC” (blind carbon copy) fields.  If you go out and get a list of 100 CEO’s email addresses and blast a generic email out to all of them, all you are doing is creating spam.

To be effective, send your email to only one specific person at a time. For each of your target companies, it is likely that you will send your resume to all of the top managers.  However, each and every one of those emails needs to be personalized in order to gain any attention.

 

Follow up on the Phone

I know it sounds scary, but job searching rewards the bold.  Wait a few hours after sending your email, and then call the manager to see if she got it.  You may not actually get to speak to your target, but leaving a professional voice mail can encourage them to check their inbox – and trash – for your email.

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