Monday, June 25, 2012

Job Tip of the Week - Have a plan

I realized that it's been a while since I've done a "Tip of the Week" about a slacker.  Thankfully, I've got one this week.  I hope it helps.

One of the most important things you can do during your job search or career have plan.  Now, I'm not talking about having your life scripted out so you much that you feel like the Truman Show but you've got direction.  During an active job search this especially important so you can not only keep making progress but keep motivation.

Wonder what a "plan" would look like?  Here's an idea:

- Submit 3 resumes a week online
- Contact 1 (or 2) former colleagues or classmates a week for networking
- Contact 1 person OUTSIDE of your network a week for networking
- Attend 1 networking event a week (month?) to meet additional people
- Meet with 1 recruiter a month to develop a network of people looking at roles for you
- Find a mentor who can help advise you on your search

Now, this is pretty aggressive but  if you think about it....this is what, eight hours of work?  If you're looking for a job or between jobs eight hours is nothing.  Get it done.

Good luck out there!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tell me who are you!

Alright, another blog topic that came in as a special request...this one from my buddy Greg Marsh (@gmarsh17) for those of you looking for some interesting, here we go...oh and if you don’t know the musical reference in the’s “The Who”...

As you know, I’m a huge proponent of networking.  I saw a statistic the other day that said seven of every ten jobs filled are filled via networking.  So, if you’re not networking you’re not REALLY looking for a job.  As such, you should be talking to as many people as you can and really learn about as many roles as you can.

Now picture this, you’re out there networking....and you forget to REALLY introduce yourself to the person you’re contacting.  Didn’t tell them why you should talk.  Didn’t tell them what you do.  Didn’t do anything.  #networkingfail

Here are a few tips on how to let the person know “who” you are so you’ll be a bit more effective with your networking:

Include your resume - um, amazing advice I know....but you’d be surprised how many people forget this.  Job search 101 people...send a resume when you’re networking for a job.

Reference your LinkedIn profile - By now your have your LinkedIn profile looking good right?  So why not just put a link at the end of your email as part of your signature.  Name, phone number and LinkedIn profile.......short, sweet and professional.

Link to your blog or personal site - Lots of people have personal websites or online portfolio.  Adding a link to reference your work and show a glimpse of your skills is a great way to make the introduction for networking.

Attach an article - If you’d done a few publications or articles you can send them along with a note explaining your background/expertise and use that to open the door.  Publications give you credibility and the best way to network is to establish your credibility and start talking.

Ok, so there you go...when networking or speaking with someone about a job....introduce yourself.  Establish “why” the person should speak with you and do your best to find a great role.

Good luck out there!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How to explain being fired

Tough topic this week but one that most people at some point will have to deal with...unfortunately.  This topic came in as a request but we’ll keep the source confidential.  Being fired is one of the hardest things to explain to a potential employer and how you explain it will be critical to your future career search.  There is no silver bullet on this kind of thing but hopefully these few tips will help:

Be honest - Obviously, right?  I mean, lying about being fired is THE worst thing you can do in your career (well, one of the worst...) so you want to make sure you are being upfront and honest with any future employers about what happened.

Don’t be emotional - Being fired is an emotional thing, I get it.  But when explaining what happened to another company you want to check the emotions at the door.  Trust me, no one wants to hear your side of a story that they can’t verify.  They want the details, the facts and a chance to form their own opinion.  Getting overly emotional and freaking out will make you look defensive.....and unhirable.  

Learn from the experience - LOTS of people get fired, seriously, it happens.  But the people that recover take the experience, get introspective and learn from it.  Being able to look back at your experience and get that’s a winning approach.  Take some time, be honest with yourself and get better.

Move on - This might be the most important tip.  You’ve GOT to move on and get yourself back together again.  Dwelling on the experience will get you nowhere.  Take time to digest the experience, learn from it...and move on.

That’s it this week, tough topic but one that I think if you handle it properly can lead to some great growth opportunities and really allow you to search deep inside and get better.

Good luck out there, more soon!

Friday, June 8, 2012

How to navigate a job fair

Ok, so this post is via special is awesome to have ideas coming in from people so if you have one...let me know.

The idea of going to a job fair can be pretty intimidating.  Honestly, they are like huge speed dating events for people and companies looking for work.  Scary stuff. You know me, I'm a believer that your job search should be about 90% networking and 10% applying online...however, a job fair can be an important tool in your search.  With that, here are a few tips on how to be successful:

Don’t be “that guy” - What does that mean you ask?  Well, “that guy” is the dude in a 3 piece suit, the guy who looks like he just rolled out of bed and also the dude who kinda smells like peppermint schnapps.  Don’t be that guy.  Show up dressed professionally (not in a suit unless you are TOLD to wear one), well rested and ready to speak with people.

Have a plan - So, these things can be huge right?  I’ve seen job fairs with over 200 companies....if you have no plan, you have no hope. Figure out your “must” companies and be sure to stop by their booths.  Have another list of “yeah, maybe” companies that you want to hit but if you miss a few you’ll survive.  Finally, have a list of “no way” companies so yo know that you don’t want to stop by and be sucked in by their cool schwag.

Elevator pitch - You absolutely, positively need to have your little pitch down.  What you want to do is walk up to the booth, and boom, drop your elevator pitch on people to explain clearly and succinctly what you are looking for in a role.  Show up with a rambling answer and the recruiters in the booth will immediately tune you out, they have 100 other people to talk to and you just horrified them.

Follow up - It’s unlikely that you will just get a job or an interview on the spot at a job, your follow up is critical to your success.  Get the card of the person you spoke with and if you haven’t heard back from them in a few days...send an email to follow up and express your interest in the role.

That’s about it, the speed dating reference is actually a good one. You’re looking for work and the companies at this event are looking for you need to be networking and building relationships with people.  Keep at it, and eventually you’ll score a new job.

Good luck!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Oh yeah, we'll keep your resume on file....

Ok, so by now most of my readers realize this is my personal blog and not that of my employer.  Right?  Ok, got it?  Because this post is absolutely positively 100% Jeff here...nothing more.

With that shameless C-Y-A...I will now discuss the famous (infamous?) “We’ll keep your resume on file” line you hear from many recruiters.  A lot of people assume that means it’s off to the trash...not entirely true.  It’s actually pretty complicated so I’ll address the potential outcomes for you when a recruiter tells you that they’ll keep you on file.

1) They actually do and they call you - I’ve done this SEVERAL times.  Meet a candidate and for some reason the timing is off so we have to pass....for now.  I’ll usually tell the person “I’m not just saying this, we’ll call you back.  I might not be for two years but we’ll call back”.  So, obviously this is the best outcome and it does happen.

2)  They like you but don’t know where you fit - Again, this happens all the time to recruiters and they are keeping the door open for you.  Now they might not be thinking their current company or even an unnamed future company but they want to keep in touch.  Take it for what it is, and hope for the best.

3) They have a really good ATS - Some companies have awesome Applicant Tracking such, they have great databases of candidates and when they say “we’ll keep you on file”  they mean it.  A new job opens up and the FIRST thing the recruiter does is search the database and call people.  Don’t I always tell you to apply online?  This is why.

4)  They don’t know what else to say - Another common one.  Lots of recruiters hate conflict and don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.  So, rather than just giving you the straight dope and telling you it’s not a fit they come up w/ some lame excuse that ends with keeping you on file.  It sucks, but it happens.

There you go, next time a recruiter tells you they’ll keep you on file ask if you can connect on LinkedIn.  That way you can build a connection beyond the resume, network a bit and maybe if you are lucky move from #4 to getting #1.......

Friday, June 1, 2012

What to do with that Physics degree

This blog is another special request this time from @federico_padua and he asked me to talk a little bit about what kinds of jobs people can get with Physics degrees.  Pretty tough topic really but one that I think is really important because in this really tight job market you have to be creative in your search.  The days of “I have X degree, I deserve Y job”  are, with that in mind...what the hell do you do with a Physics degree?

Software Engineering - Lots of good engineers come from the Physics space.  A degree in Physics gives you a grab scientific mind and a ton of experience in mathematics...which is the core of many programming functions.  Additionally, you’ve probably use Fortran or MATLAB to do some basic programming functions...why not take a class or two and learn some Computer Science theory.

Research Jobs - This is probably the most obvious but there are quite a few research jobs out there.  Some of them are at the big labs (think Los Alamos) but also in academia.  You really have to look for these though and spend a ton of time networking to find a role like this...oh, and be prepared to make a lot less money than you were thinking.  If you work in Research you do it for the work, not the cash.

Technical Sales - Yeah, that’s right, sales.  You went through all that schooling and you end up in Sales.  Life sucks eh?  Well guess what?  Some of the best sales folks I know come from technical backgrounds and do VERY well in life.  The trick is to find a role that will allow you to leverage your technical well as your sparkling personality to become some sort of super-salesperson.  Most sales-people are not technical, most technical people can’t sell.....if you can do both, you win!

Obviously there are a bunch of other jobs you can do - teaching?  recruiting?  You name it.  The great thing about a degree like Physics is that it gives you a chance to do very “technical” work but also have some softer skills that come from a Liberal Arts degree.

Would love to hear from anyone out there with a Physics degree about what you do and have done to help anyone else looking for advice.