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.

Are long job applications worth the effort?

questions about long job applicationsYou know the drill: you find a job that really interests you, but when you follow the link to apply, the application goes on forever…

The question inevitably comes up in your mind: is this even worth my time?

The answer could be yes – depending on your goals, motives and strategy.

Why they do this to you

Often times, a company will use the application process to help weed out candidates.  The thought process behind this is to see how well you can follow instructions.  If you mess up on any of the steps, they consider this a weakness.  However, that is not the only reason why they do this.

If the employer deals with a high volume of applicants, they are actually making you enter all the details into their database, rather than making the recruiters do it.  This is the set-up for the computerized screening.  The computers look for specific key words and then passes on the candidates that match the search to the recruiters.

In cases of placement agencies, they may not have a job that matches you right now, but they are always gathering qualified applicants.  In that case, their applications are even longer, often times including excruciating skills sections that must be filled in line-by-line.  This allows them to the ability to search through the database later, looking for a match with specific skills sets.

Other industries require detailed personal information.  For example, nursing and nanny industries often ask for Social Security numbers, dates-of-birth, license information and even past names or addresses.  This creates the data they need to run background checks quickly.  This way, when the right job becomes available, there is less delay in pulling the necessary paperwork.

 

Is it worth it?

Your goals are the biggest consideration when deciding if you want to devote up to an hour completing an online application.  Do you want a job in:

  • a large company
  • through an employment agency
  • in a background-driven industry
  • in private service

then the long application is going to be a given.

Motives are another consideration.  If you are just filling out an application because you have a slight interest in the company, then it probably isn’t worth your time.  In those cases, people have a tendency to make a half-hearted effort with the application.  That won’t catch the attention of a recruiter or survive the screening tools.

Strategy plays an important part too.  Applications are important, but they are not the be-all, end-all route to getting a job.  In fact, you will get better results from reaching out to hiring managers directly, instead of betting on the long odds in the HR department.

 

So the application is done – now what?

If you care about the employer, take the time to really do a thorough job application.  Then add that employer to your weekly contact list.  Visit their website, scan for newly opened jobs and use that application over and over.  When you divide the initial time investment over three or four jobs, it is a more favorable use of your time.

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.

Some people just don’t get it…

nanny and child

One thing’s for sure: many corporate job search consultants don’t understand private service.

I was meeting with a client the other day, and I couldn’t believe the nasty resume review she got from someone else.  You see, she is a professional nanny with 16 years of experience in this demanding industry.  She just started looking for a job and decided to try one of the employment networking groups in the area.  However, like many of these groups, it was comprised mainly of corporate job seekers.

The leader of the group agreed to look at her resume.  With a strong HR background, this gentleman has been doing resume reviews for quite some time.  Unfortunately, he has zero experience with the private service industry.

Rather than giving constructive criticism, he attacked her career choice – “A nanny?  That can’t be a real job.  I’ve always thought that nannies are less-than-intelligent and only do this job because they can’t get a real job.”

Shocked, my nanny friend replied: “well, you just tore down everything your wife did for your family.”

Since he didn’t have a response for that, he attacked her resume – in his opinion, putting details about her personality, outlook on life and passion for child care didn’t belong on a professional resume.  He thought that no one would care about that, and it was unprofessional to include such details.

Fortunately, rather than following the advice from someone who had no idea of the private service industry, she came to me for a second opinion.

It is very true that the domestic staffing world is very different from the corporate environment.  It is crucial to let employers know what you love about your job.  All of your skills are relevant, not just what a corporate environment would consider important.  Above all, families and private employers want to get a sense for who you are as a person before they even call for the interview.

If you are considering using a resume service, be sure to get one that understands your passion for supporting others, especially in private service.

Fall hiring season heats up

In case you hadn’t noticed, August 2011 showed an increase in the amount of recruiter jobs posted on conventional employment websites like Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com.  That’s good news for the rest of the job market – it means that employers are still planning to do their hiring push for the fall months of September, October and November.

Traditionally speaking, companies hire in the fall to take advantage of their remaining budget for the year.  Many departments face a “use it or lose it” mentality on their allocated funds by the end of the year.  Now they realize that they must hire, or else possibly lose the new person for the coming year.

Considering the stock market insanity during the beginning of August, there was real concern that the fall hiring season may not happen at all.  While some market segments are down, it is a promising sign that contract recruiter jobs in a variety of industries are on the rise.

Private service sees a spike during this time of year as well; families are back from vacation, children are back in school and it is time to think about adding staff before the holidays.

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