Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oh Great, Now There are TWO Types of Keywords?!

When seeking a position actively, by submitting one's resume to a job board in response to a position posting, or passively, by posting a profile on LinkedIn, keywords help recruiters find you. There are two distinct ways in which one must think of search terms/keywords, depending upon whether you're conducting an active or passive search.

The first way is when someone, typically a recruiter, runs a simple Boolean search. These words are logical - phrases one would typically associate with the job at hand - business development, sales management, etc. Nothing too complicated here.

The second scenario where keywords come into play is via a job board. As I've learned from Preptel (see below), job board keywords and the weight they are given is nearly impossible to predict because the software picks them. The other impossible to know aspect is that the words are weighted based on rarity among the pool of candidates, so if a keyword phrase, say business development, for example, was found on 90% of the resumes from candidates applying for the job, the term might be given a weight of 1. But if a keyword phrase, let's say executive sales leader, only appeared on 10% of the applications for that position, it might be given a weight of 5. Those with the most cumulative points appear highest on a keyword-ranked list. Recruiters use this list as a starting point when making keep/toss decisions.

A company for whom I'm a beta tester - www.preptel.com – recently made their product free to job seekers. While it's still a bit buggy, its core functionality works well and does something no other software I've seen can do - identify missing keywords. One puts in their resume, adds the job posting, and an analysis is done to determine which keywords are missing. If the missing keywords are in alignment with your skills, they can be worked in to the resume, boosting your standing in a keyword ranked list exponentially. I encourage you to check out the software and use it in your job search to ensure that your resume is as keyword optimized as possible for each position you apply for.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Returning to Work after Having Children

Few job seekers face higher hurdles than at-home parents trying to return to work do. Much has changed in the past 5-10 years – job boards and keyword scanning software are probably completely new concepts, and much has stayed the same – networking is still the way most people find opportunities. With tenacity, a willingness to learn, and solid marketing tools, parents can be back in the swing again soon.

Do what you love. Some parents left thriving careers to raise their children, while others had kids earlier in life. In either case, this is the perfect opportunity to find a career that makes your heart beat a little faster. Returning to school for a degree or certificate will assure your future employer that you have the training to do the job while demonstrating your interest in that field of work. If you loved what you were doing before, it may be more appealing to pick up where you left off.

Don’t apologize for the gap in employment. Just because your decision to raise your children created a difficult return to the workforce, it doesn't mean it wasn’t the right decision. Your experience with kids might even make you more qualified for certain roles than someone without them. If you were in marketing before having children, for example, consider a marketing role where the focus is on appealing to parents. Some employers, particularly those in the sales industry, will see your break as a good thing. They may want to train you on their way of doing things and will value your fresh perspective.

Employ a pro. Consider hiring a professional resume writer to keyword optimize your resume while giving voice to your accomplishments. For most people, figuring out all of the components of a truly great resume is not a good return on your investment of time. It is much better to spend your time networking and learning, no one can do that for you.

Give yourself credit for having life experience and maturity. In many companies, hiring managers would rather choose someone known to be sane and stable than take a chance on a “fresh” grad. Your task is to figure out how that maturity would benefit the employer and then help them see it.

Consider networking with parents who have already done what you want to do. Ask them how they did it, talk about what they like about their jobs and what surprises they encountered after resuming their careers. Also, check out networking groups that are industry related; the professional associations section of www.iloveseattle.org is a good place to look or do an Internet search. Be an interested and helpful networker; seek out ways to be a resource to those in your network.

Not ready to return to work yet? Consider volunteering to keep your skills sharp. Plan an event for the pet shelter, fix the local non-profit’s network, or put the church bake sale on Facebook. Companies value community service and you will have relevant experience to put on your resume.

Parents who are smarter about preparing to return to work have a much easier time of it. By networking, sharpening your skills and updating your presentation (resume, interview skills and appearance), you will have an advantage over your competition.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More Reasons Why LinkedIn Is So Important for Job Seekers

Anyone who talks to me about job search strategy knows how much I evangelize LinkedIn. Here are even more reasons why LinkedIn should be a part of everyone’s job search – even for passive searchers.

You can put your job history out there without worrying your current employer.

Upload your resume on a job board and you risk your boss – or your company’s recruiter – seeing you tell the world you are available. Upload your resume on LinkedIn and you can invite your boss as a connection. “No worries boss," you can say, "I’m inviting everyone I work with to be a connection.” LinkedIn has over 60 million members. Joining LinkedIn shows you are a great networker and relationship builder. Posting your resume on a job board shows you are looking for another position.

LinkedIn is free for recruiters.

Job boards charge thousands per recruiter, per year, to have access to the resume search feature. LinkedIn searches are free. For companies seeking to cut costs - everyone - it is an easy decision. Nearly every recruiter I talk to puts LinkedIn high on their list of talent sources.

LinkedIn is a handy corporate employee directory.

The company search feature lets job seekers see helpful information about thousands of companies. Thinking of working at Amazon, Expedia or Microsoft? A company search will tell you if you have first or second degree contacts who are current or past employees. You can learn which professional associations people in your dream job belong to and where they volunteer.

Agency and corporate recruiters flock to LinkedIn.

More than 500,000 recruiting and HR staff are on LinkedIn and they are easy to find. Conduct a people search with the name of the company and the word recruiter for a list of gatekeepers.

LinkedIn has become a social reference check.

Nearly half of all employers run Internet searches on applicants. LinkedIn results are nearly always on the first page of the search result. Because profiles on LinkedIn include recommendations, links to blogs and Twitter accounts, and group memberships, they provide a multifaceted way of researching candidates. It is important that your LinkedIn profile matches your resume, and vice versa, to avoid disqualification based on discrepancies.

Recruiters assess the profiles of people in sales, marketing and PR roles at an even higher standard. If you are in sales, but not on LinkedIn or your profile is not complete, the message is that you do not “get” social media or you do not know how to market yourself.

What do you love about LinkedIn?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What's the buzz, tell me what's a-happening?

I consider the term "buzz words" to be synonymous with "keywords" - the words or phrases thought by the hiring manager or recruiter as most likely to appear on the resumes of candidates best suited for the job opening. Many of the words that people think are buzz words aren't. They may be action words (orchestrated, drove, owned), or they may be self-descriptors (hard working, action oriented, tenacious, etc.,) but they aren't buzz words. I have never spoken with a recruiter who enters phrases like "dedicated" or "driven" into their keyword scanning program.

A great deal of buzz word guidance comes from job postings themselves. If, out of ten postings for computer programmers, none seek Visual Basic, but five seek Visual Basic.net, it's likely that Visual Basic has become obsolete and that Visual Basic.net is a buzz word. In addition, ageism can be exacerbated by mentioning expertise with older technologies. I believe this to be true across industries, with a bit of forgiveness given to older buzz words from "old school" industries - accounting and law, for example. Phrases like "general ledger" have been keywords for years and probably will be for a long time to come.

The reasons not to use old buzz words (an oxymoron) boil down to - they're obsolete, they "age" the candidate, or they're not actually buzz words.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ten Things I Like about Me!

I write resumes for nearly everyone, from top executives and business owners to students just starting out. Without a doubt, the biggest omission on my client's "before" resumes is accomplishments. Often, it’s a painful process trying to remember accomplishments from ten years ago, but it’s important to portray oneself as a consistent achiever. My goal is to take the pain out of resume writing, so I recommend that everyone take the following steps – whether you decide to write the resume yourself or hire someone to take care of it for you.

Every time you receive a compliment, win an award or finish a project, email yourself a note about it. Set the stage (what was going on at the time, why did they need you to do the project), write about what you did, then talk about the outcome – how much did it help and what did your boss/client have to say about it. Be as specific as possible. If you streamlined a process and now it took 25% less time, calculate how many dollars that amounted to in labor savings.

Then, include a unique code in your email, XQ$, for example, and send the note to your personal email address. When you’re ready for a resume update (or to negotiate a raise), do an email search for XQ$ and voila!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Why didn't they hire me? Hiring managers share their reasons.

I asked my LinkedIn contacts to think back about the last person they interviewed but didn’t hire. I wanted to know why they didn’t make an offer to that candidate and what advice they wanted to give to the person.

Here are their responses:

There are trade-offs as a hiring-manager that you have to make. If you think that person you're interviewing has "potential" you should seriously consider him. I'm yet to see 100% matches, something is always missing or more than what I need to get the job done. If there is potential, I usually consider twice. Trade-offs are just not skill-sets, they maybe salary requirement, experience, maybe location etc. A "no" would come only if trade offs far outweigh, or if there are roadblocks like salary disagreement or on-site presence requirements for an off-site worker, etc.

I didn't hire them because they had a nervous laugh. A really creepy nervous laugh. I learned right then and there to tell a joke. If they don't get the joke, or don't laugh, then they are a dud and I won't hire them. If they have a weird laugh or crazy chortle, then they are cut from the program just the same. So sue me for laugh discrimination!!!

The last person did not have enough technical skill in one area and I did mention to them afterward that it was the sticking point.

I would have said, "Answer the actual question I asked rather than a rehearsed, canned response of buzzwords, and catch-phrases that didn't really say anything."

They didn't demonstrate any real passion -- for the position or for learning about it, for their past or for their future, and/or for opportunities in their life (at work and beyond). If you don't demonstrate eagerness, enthusiasm and excitement, I'm just not interested in you, no matter how qualified you might be.

The resume provides me initial insight into the person's skill set which leads to a phone interview to confirm the skills and experience. If these two levels are passed, the face-to-face meeting occurs. During the 1:1 it is important the candidate demonstrate personal accountability and communicate how his/her work behavior indicates proactive ability to generate results. If the person says what they will do and gets it done, I'm interested further. It is more important to get the right people on the bus. Skills can be learned. Attitude and behavior can't be taught and together are the difference between success and failure.

I did not hire him because of poor personal hygiene. I actually told him to shave, comb his hair and take a shower before he left his house the next interview.

I interviewed this person for a software testing position which requires some coding (programming) and I did not hire him for two reasons: he was a little cocky and he did not successfully finished his coding question. While the coding issue was obvious, I did not dare to tell him of his attitude. Up to this day, I am still unsure if I would tell if I am in the same position again.

I think the most frustrating part about hiring for entry-level jobs, is the different work ethic that I have vs. some of the younger people getting out of school. Nothing bad about them, but my generation was never part of the 'entitlement" generation, and I find expectations for what they want and what is reality in entry level positions are different.

Also professionalism... Jeans are ok in most corporations today, but not on a job interview!

Someone I interviewed answered my questions in very general terms without providing the depth and details I was seeking. As someone who makes behavioral questions the core of his interviews, I was asking the candidate to describe specific situations she'd been in, what actions she took in those situations, and what resulted from those actions.

For example, "Tell me about a time when the team disagreed on some aspect of the project, and walk me through the steps you took to resolve that disagreement". Despite much prompting and follow-up questioning, I never really received a clear answer as to what this candidate actually did in that situation.

For any question that leaned toward a past or potential challenge or deficit (i.e. "Tell me about a time when your work was criticized" or "Tell me about a challenge you faced..."; the person's answers all started with, "Well he/she/they...".

I could comfortably assume that if the individual did not take accountability for any of his past behaviors/actions, I would most likely see the same behavior if I were to hire him.

I did not mention this to the candidate however; it would be a great coaching point for him or any other potential candidate.

First of all, I am a straight shooter and often offer helpful advice to candidates whenever I can. I know that I would appreciate similar help from others.

The last candidate I interviewed wasn't hired because he didn't have enough experience in a particular area of need.

I interviewed a lady who had called in twice to "check some details" before her interview. On both occasions she had been rude to the staff she had spoken to on the phone. During the interview she was very abrupt, almost the point of being overly cocky, yet she had no clarity in her answers or in her ideas about her future. I didn't hire because I couldn't see her fitting into the team.

I just couldn't reject the candidate because his skills didn’t match my requirements. I felt he was a worthy candidate for his experience and I tried to forward him to a suitable opening.

It's hard to lose a worthy candidate.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Job Search Strategies (as published in the Washington CPA Magazine, May/June edition)

I was honored to be asked to write an article on job search strategies for the WSCPA.

Effective Job Search Strategies from a Recruiter’s Perspective

You have spent hours online searching job boards for open positions and have applied for hundreds of openings. You are exhausted, but don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Is there anything else you should be doing? Absolutely! Like with anything, the smarter your job search strategy is, the more effective it is going to be.

While working as a corporate recruiter, I had a front-row opportunity to see how candidate’s different job search strategies worked out. If the company I worked for extended an offer to a candidate, I backtracked several key factors, including how the person found out about the job, how their resumes looked, how they interviewed and how they followed up. Now, I share that information with my business clients. One of the first questions my clients want to know is how to find a job and in this article, I’m going to share that advice with you.

Start your job search by choosing 15 - 20 companies for whom you think you would love to work. They can be employers you have heard great things about from friends that have worked there, businesses you have read about in the news, companies that are geographically convenient or employers who make a product or service that you love. They should meet your "hard" criteria too; they should be of a size likely to provide you with the type of employment opportunities you seek, for example. This is a list you will add to and subtract from, as you gain more insight.

Don’t wait for an opening to be posted to apply. Some open positions can’t be posted, the person leaving may not know it (performance termination) or may not announce it publicly (planning a move), for example, but often the recruiter or hiring manager has already started looking. If your resume were to land on their desk before they needed you, you would likely get more attention than if you applied when they posted the job.

Once you have selected your target companies, start your research and record your findings on Excel. For each company, assign a worksheet and add information gained from news articles, blogs, company websites or word-of-mouth. Search your LinkedIn contacts for people you already know that can offer insight into the company’s culture, hiring process, opportunities, etc.

Not on LinkedIn? Join! LinkedIn provides a great place to keep track of your network. These are people that you work with or used to work with, friends, family, neighbors and fellow group members. The first step to using LinkedIn is to create a profile. You will enter information about where you have worked or volunteered, where you went to school, and the groups you are a member of. Then, start adding contacts; I suggest you only add people that you know, like and trust.

Lost track of some people? LinkedIn has several ways to find people with whom you have lost touch. You can look up an old employer and see all of the people who have identified that place as their current or past employer. If you remember them, add them. In addition, LinkedIn has a feature where it will “look” in your email and tell you who you already know that is signed up on linked in. Alternatively, you can type in someone’s name and see if they have an account. In any case, the person will get an email from you asking if they would like to connect. Once they do, you will be able to see their profile and that is when the magic happens!

Let’s say you connect with 100 people on LinkedIn and they have worked an average of five jobs each. That is potentially 500 employers where you now have an inside connection. The beauty of LinkedIn is that you can also see friends of friends, raising your potential inside connections exponentially. You will know right who to go to to get the inside scoop on a particular company.

LinkedIn has a few other terrific features and I have learned a few job search strategies that they do not talk much about. In addition to a terrific Q&A section and job board, you can learn a lot from looking at the profiles of people who hold your “dream job”. Wondering what industry affiliations to join? Check what groups that people holding the jobs you want are members of. Wonder what your ideal employer is looking for in a candidate? Look at the profiles of recent hires for clues on certifications, volunteerism and education.

Join and attend professional organizations. Typically, they meet once per month and you will often find that there is a guest speaker, they may offer snacks or a meal, and there is usually time for networking. Set a goal to talk to two or three people at each meeting. More than that and you will forget with whom you spoke. Ask for the cards of the people you converse with and jot down some notes about the conversation on it after your talks. Then, follow up – add them to LinkedIn and arrange a coffee meeting if your conversation went particularly well. Folks I have worked with have had great luck with alumni associations, so consider joining those as well. Many have a charter to provide services to job seekers.

Treat your network connections as you would your friends. Always ask about how you can be helpful to them, for example, to ensure they do not feel as if you are purely contacting them to see what they can do for you. Since the best networking is always done in person, casually ask if you can chat with the person in their office, short of that, a coffee meeting or other gathering is perfectly fine. Phone contact is next best, but try for a face-to-face meeting if logistically possible.

The best networkers never ask for a job, they know that someone who knows, likes and respects them will be alert to potential opportunities without having to be asked. The key is to keep your network responding to you in the “yes” mode – Yes, I can tell you what I like about the company – instead of the “no” mode – No, we don’t have any openings. Don’t encourage your network to avoid you because they don’t want to say no.

Did you get a “yes, you can stop by” response? Let them know you will have five questions prepared and that you won't take more than 15 minutes of their time - then stick to that. Make it clear when you have reached the end of your questions and observe the time, this will help them gain trust that you stick to your word and are not taking advantage of their kindness in seeing you. Quite likely, they will want to extend the conversation and at this point, it will become more of a conversation and less of a favor they are doing for you. Even so, be respectful of their time and they will feel more confident in referring you to talk with someone else. Your tone should be curious and positive while asking questions. Make notes during the meeting, add new information to your Excel worksheet and follow up on leads.

In addition to asking about what the person with whom you are talking likes best about the company, other great questions include, "What was your first position with the company?" "What is the hiring process like?" and "What advice might you have for someone in my situation?" Also, ask what groups or industry associations they are active in; consider following up on those groups to see if they might be a good fit for you. During your job search, strive to meet two people per week and join two groups that meet monthly.

Be sure to triangulate information whenever possible and don’t dismiss a job opportunity just because you hear negative comments from one or two people. They may be disgruntled, had a bad boss who is no longer there, or were bad employees. Even the happiest employees will bring their own skewed perspective; just keep that in mind.

Where you cannot seem to source a "warm" connection to a particular target company, be sure to drop the name of the place into your conversations with people. Chatting with your neighbor? Toss in, "I wish I knew someone from XYZ, it seems like an interesting place to work." If they know someone there, and if they know and trust you, they will introduce you. Don’t pressure them by asking outright whom they know; you want your network to say “yes” to you and you want it to be their idea, so they’ll take ownership of it down the road. Consider the difference: “Here’s that great controller I was telling you about,” vs. “John asked me to ask you if there were any openings for a controller.” The best connections come from a mutual party's desire to make a match, not a desire to get you off their back.

You may have noticed that I have not mentioned answering want ads yet. That is mostly because the numbers are against you. As a warm contact referred by someone that the hiring manager knows and trusts, you are much more appealing than a stranger answering an ad on the Internet. This factor alone explains the reason why 70% of all open positions are filled by someone who knew someone who knew the hiring manager. Sure, that leaves 30% of all jobs, but would you rather be one of 3-4 people personally referred for a position, or one of 300 – 400 who apply for a position posted on Monster?

By the time most jobs make it to Monster, they are picked over. The company’s recruiter has exhausted their network of strong candidates as well as the networks of everyone that works for the company and is forced to go fishing with a large net. Instead of taking the work of someone she trusts that the candidate being referred is sane, smart and motivated, she has to shuffle through hundreds of anonymous resumes to try to find the best candidates. If answering ads on the Internet is part of your job search strategy, try to keep it under 15% of your search time.

Consider using staffing services, especially if your network is skimpy in your industry or if you are new in town. Know that it is thousands of dollars more expensive to hire you through a service than if you found the job yourself, so if you have leads on certain companies, be sure to let your recruiter know not to refer you to those places due to the commissions involved. Wonder which service to contact? Check the LinkedIn profiles of people working where you want to work for prior involvement with staffing agencies. Or, contact the HR departments of your target companies and ask if they are contracted to work with a certain company. When you meet with the staffer, talk about temporary, temp-to-hire and permanent placement options.

You never know where your next job will come, so take advantage of every opportunity and be prepared. Practice a brief “elevator speech” about what kind of job you want and why you are a valuable candidate. Tell a story about a time where you “saved the day” in some way in your last role. Don’t be overly concerned about not being completely qualified for the positions that interest you. An 80% skill match is close enough for most places as they are also interested in hiring people that are a good culture fit and show enthusiasm for the company.

Jill Walser, of I got the job! Career Services, is a former corporate recruiter now sharing inside secrets with her clients. www.igotthejob.us

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Interview Coaching - An Outline

Hi Jill,

I'm interested in your interview coaching services. I am a product management professional and have recently started my job search. I feel that my interview skills could use a lot of work. I'm curious about how we'd get started.

Best, Hannah

Dear Hannah,

Interview coaching can be scaled to fit your needs, budget and timeline. The feedback I have received from clients is that an initial session of 1.5 - 2 hours with a follow up session 1-2 weeks later is most helpful. I conduct the coaching sessions in a mock interview format where I will act as the hiring manager and ask questions. You will respond as you normally would and I will provide feedback on your answers. My goal is to help you convey your skills and personality in the most appealing way possible, so that the hiring team will feel you are smart, accomplished and fun to be around.

I am a strong believer in incorporating stories – examples of greatness – into interview answers. Stories are much more interesting and memorable than laundry lists of things you know how to do, and they can illustrate much more about your strategic perspective and enthusiasm. Part of what you would be doing in the interim between appointments is practicing your stories. I will give you guidelines and we will come up with 3-4 stories in the first meeting. By the second meeting, you will have a list of about 8-10 stories that can be used interchangeably to answer many interview questions and you will know what the interviewer is “really” asking when they ask a certain question.

If there are additional issues such as anxiety or lack of confidence, or if you just want more practice, additional coaching sessions can be scheduled. For local folks finding my Seattle office the most convenient, we will meet there. For others, we will meet in a mutually convenient coffee shop (I live in Bellevue). I provide phone coaching for people living outside the Puget Sound area.



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

5 Ways Temping Can Help Your Career

As many of you know, before I became a corporate recruiter, I spent over three years as a staffing recruiter. I worked for a great staffing agency called Northwest Staffing Resources, in their Bellevue office. This article was written by Sarah Honkala, a NSR temp working out of the Vancouver office.

5 Ways Temping Can Help Your Career

With unemployment high and new positions filling fast, temporary agencies can be a great way to find work. In the past ten years, I have spent almost five years working as a temporary employee. I used to feel a little self-conscious about that while watching someone glance through my work history. Then I realized all of the experience I’d gained by working in those temp positions. Now I see my time spent temping as an asset. I’d like to share the top 5 ways that temping has helped me in my employment search. If you keep an open mind and work hard, you can use these to help with your own career.

1) Short-term jobs can become long-term jobs. When signing up with a temporary agency, it is a good idea to be open for short-term work as well as long term. I know, you’re probably saying, “But with my bills, I really need a full-time job.” I understand. There have been times when I’ve needed a full-time job with no prospects. But short-term jobs can turn into long-term jobs. I worked a three-week assignment that turned into one year. I had a week assignment turn into seven months. I’ve worked a short-term assignment for a few days, and then was asked back when they needed help again. There are no guarantees that a job can turn into long term, but there aren’t guarantees that a permanent job is long term either. Temporary agencies get you back into working mode and give you a chance.

2) A temp job can help get your foot in the door of a company or organization. People want to hire people they are comfortable with. Do your homework. If you want to work for the government, find the temp agency they work with. If you want to work in the music business, find the temp agency that works in that environment. Ask questions before you sign up. Once you are working in that organization be proactive and helpful. When a position is open you’ll have better odds of being hired. I worked for the city government as a direct result of a temp assignment. (Note: if you are looking for a job with the government be patient, the hiring process can be lengthy).

3) Temporary jobs let you find your likes and dislikes. While working on temporary assignments make a note of environments you like and dislike. Do you find yourself more comfortable in a small office environment? A large organization? Working directly with people? Working with numbers? I found out while working in a temporary environment that it is important for me to feel like I’m doing a great job. I worked for awhile as a medical transcriptionist. I had no medical knowledge and would stumble on each word I typed. After the documents were typed they went to a quality control department. I knew my pages were getting marked up and it made me feel horrible. I went back to the agency and asked for an assignment I was better suited for. It was hard for me to pass up, but I’m glad I did it. I missed a paycheck or two but in the end I had a job I was better suited for. Finding an enjoyable job is a dream for many. Temping helps you find out what you like with the stability of one company, your agency, which looks better on your resume then excessive job hopping.

4) You can get experience in a new career field. I wanted to work in public relations. I had a Bachelor’s degree and a customer service background. I applied at different places and - nothing. I didn’t have the right type of experience. I communicated with the temporary agency about what type of career I was interested in and mentioned I’d like jobs that would help me in that area. I found myself working in public outreach and on a few other assignments that gave me experience. That is a great benefit of being a temporary employee.

5) The agency you work through will have more contacts then you do to help find you a job. Temporary agencies have mastered the art of networking. They know what companies are in the area and they know which companies are hiring. You can spend your time networking and following job lead after job lead, or simply fill out an employment application and let the temp agency do the networking work for you. This will get you a lot further then the newspaper ads and Craigslist.

Creating a career has become more challenging with the volatile times. Tricks and tips that worked before don’t work as well as they used to. Networking your way to a job is great, but it takes time to see results. A lot of the unemployed don’t have the time to wait and see results, they need results now. Temporary agencies are a great way to see results more quickly.
Working in a temporary environment can be stressful and challenging. Temping is an employment option that will take you from your kitchen table filling out applications, to behind a desk on your way to a new career.

Sarah will be writing more articles about how to be a successful temporary employee: http://hubpages.com/profile/rocknrodeogirl.

Thank you Sarah!

Are Thank You Notes Necessary?

Here's an actual email I received this morning from a client and my response:

Hi Jill,

Is it appropriate to send a thank you by e-mail versus a letter? I had an interview yesterday, they're making their decision by Monday and I don't think regular mail would make it in time.

Loyal Client

Dear Loyal Client,

Email thank-you notes are ok; they are better than nothing. A handwritten note on a tasteful thank-you card is so much better. Your competition will probably not have gone to the trouble and, especially in your industry, taking an extra step to show you care is what makes all the difference.

In part, they are assessing your performance and follow-up in this interview process and making assumptions on how you will act around their "people" - co-workers, managers, customers, etc. Hiring managers and recruiters keep handwritten cards and think fond thoughts of those that wrote them; when I was recruiting, I kept the one's I received on a board above my desk.

If you sent it today from the post office, it is quite likely going to reach them by Monday. You could spend a few dollars more to have it shipped overnight. Doing both - email and a card - will cover all the bases.

Good luck!

Jill Walser

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Improv Classes Keep Job Seekers on their Toes

Article by Randy Woods

Maybe it says something about the state of the local job market when professional comedians start acting as career consultants. While seeking employment in this economy is no laughing matter, many local job seekers are turning to the improvisational theater for inspiration on how to think fast during interviews. Last month, I wrote a post about a new class being offered by Seattle's famed Jet City Improv troupe to teach job seekers how to use improvisational skills to nail that next interview. This month, the Greenwood-based Taproot Theater is beginning a six-week course on how to build your confidence in virtually any kind of business environment, from networking to closing a sales deal.

Beginning on Mon., Sept. 21, and running through Oct. 26, Taproot's Improv(e) Your Business Skills! course will use a series of improvisational exercises and theater games to sharpen the mind and prepare students for those moments in a job interview that require lightning timing. Each Monday, from 7-9 p.m. over a month and a half, Taproot instructors Kevin Brady and Rob Martin will bring students up on stage to act out a series of situations--some comic, some that may be experienced in real life.

Sara Willy, director of education at Taproot, says the new course is "a product of what's going on in the economy right now. Jobs are hard to get out there, so some of our constituents asked that we do some classes to relate these improv skills to the business world."

Anyone who has seen Drew Carey's show "Who's Line is it Anyway?" will be familiar with many of the tried-and-true improv exercises used during the course, Willy says. "It's a serious course, but it's all designed to be fun," she says. "You might pretend to sell something while speaking entirely in gibberish, getting your message across only in body language. Or you might pick items out of a hat at random and make up stories on the spot."

Some of the course material will be determined by the attendees, Willy says. "If you already have a job, the classes can teach you sales skills and how to think on your feet," she says. "If you're looking for a job, this will help give you confidence during interviews. We can teach you how to talk while you're walking."

In addition, Jet City is expanding its improv class for job seekers later this month with its new Job Hunter's Survival Kit seminar on Tues., Sept. 29. In partnership with the Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ), the all-day course will include sessions on resume-writing tips from career consultant Jill Walser, networking advice from PSBJ's Elizabeth Case and improv exercises from Andrew McMasters, artistic director of Jet City's parent company, Wing-It Productions.

To sign up for the $250 Improv(e) Your Business Skills! course, visit Taproot's registration page. For more information on Jet City's $165 Job Hunter's Survival Kit course, which also includes lunch and a free one-year PSBJ subscription, see Jet City's registration page. Class sizes for both courses are limited, so be sure to register early.

Writer and editor Randy Woods has filled out more job applications than he can count -- so you don't have to.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cyberstalking, Something to Think About

It has never been easier to keep in touch with people online – including those with whom you would rather not.

According to the National Association for Victim Assistance (NOVA), growing numbers of people report being pursued by stalkers via cell phones, Internet services, GPS systems, wireless video cameras, and other technologies. With technology, stalkers have more tools to use against their victims than ever.

A recent Department of Justice report indicated that of the 3.4 million Americans who reported being stalked between 2005 and 2006, 27% reported cyberstalking. Half of these victims indicated that there was at least one unwanted contact per month and 11% said they had been stalked for five or more years.

Stalking is action directed at a person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. In the study, people were classified as stalking victims if they reported at least one of seven types of stalking behaviors on two or more occasions.

The most common type of stalking behavior was unwanted phone calls from the offender (66%) followed by unsolicited letters or email (31%) and the spread of malicious rumors (36%). One-third of victims stated that offenders were likely to show up at places they frequent for no reason. Nearly 75% of victims knew their offender in some capacity, while 10% of victims were stalked by a stranger. Stalkers include former spouses, lovers, friends, roommates and neighbors.

Victims experience a range of emotions. The most common was not knowing what would happen next (46%) and being afraid the behavior would never stop (29%); nearly 10% of stalking victims reported that their worst fear was death. About 130,000 victims had been fired or asked to leave their jobs because of stalking and 12% lost time from work because of fear for their safety or to pursue activities such as getting a restraining order or testifying in court.

One of the ways that victims experience stalking is identity theft; 6% said stalkers stole their identities to open or close financial accounts in their names, steal funds from their existing accounts, or make unauthorized charges to their credit cards.

High-tech stalking comes in many forms:

Caller ID. Caller ID systems on many phones reveal callers’ names and locations. Using an online phone directory to conduct a reverse lookup of the callers number, stalkers can pinpoint a victim’s place of residence.

Cell phones. When cell phones are in analogue mode, radio scanners can intercept conversations.

GPS services. If a stalker has access to a victim’s car, global positioning devices can be installed that pinpoint the car’s exact location. Telephone-based instant-messenger services and some cell phones’ location services are also potential tracking tools.

Spyware. If the stalker has access to the victim’s computer, spyware can be installed to send them notifications listing all websites visited and the contents of every email sent or received. Stalkers can also use keystroke loggers, which record every key typed and thus disclose passwords, PINs, websites, and emails.

Cameras. Cameras today are more powerful, less expensive, smaller, and easier than ever to secretly place inside a wall.

Public databases. A surprising amount of information about individuals is public record. Some counties even publish the names and addresses of individuals who obtain protective orders.

Another type of public database is a job board. Those of you who are clients of my writing services will note that I have left the exact street address off of your resume and cover letter documents.

E-mail and instant messages. Stalkers can impersonate their victims by sending out messages in the victims’ names. One abuser changed his wife’s email password and sent threatening messages to himself from her account. Then, he took the messages to the police and convinced them to arrest her.

The Justice Department report offers some advice for keeping safe from stalkers:
Know who calls you. Use per call (*67) when you get an unknown call, and make sure your phone has caller ID.

Keep your contact information private. Clear your name from any database that might be published or sold from one company to another.

Routinely check your computer for viruses and intruder programs. According to PC World and PCMag.com, Spybot-S&D (http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html) is the best privacy software available.

My next blog will provide specific information on how to protect your identity while using business and social networking websites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

Did you know?
Bad guys can see all the things you post. You may be revealing personal information that is extremely valuable. Even seemingly innocent information posted on profile pages can sometimes provide opportunities for criminals. For example, names of grandparents or pets in posted pictures can tip hackers off to answers for typical challenge questions asked before providing information about “forgotten passwords” to online accounts. (newsday.com)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Should I use an objective statement on my resume?

Q. I've been talking with a career mentor who told me to get rid of my objective statement at the top of my resume. She seems to think the statement is useless, and just takes up space that I could be using to help give a thorough snapshot of myself with my resume, and that the place for such statements is in the cover letter, and not the resume. Why do you think the objective statement on a resume is so important, and what should be included in that statement? I'm having a hard time wording an objective statement that is broad enough, yet brief. I have an idea of what my "perfect" job would be like, but since I probably won't find that with my brief experiences having just graduated from college in this economy, I don't want to close any doors where I might have a chance of finding full-time employment.

A. Great question! I'll answer with a story from my recruiting days. When I was recruiting for a publicly traded party goods company, there was one point where I had four positions open in marketing - marketing coordinator, marketing project manager, marketing director and vice president of marketing. When I'd exhausted my network for suitable candidates (they were niche roles - the candidates had to have experience marketing kids products) and started placing ads, I got blasted with applicants. I saw hundreds of resumes, many with "seeking a position in marketing" as an objective, or no objective whatsoever.

As a recruiter, I wasn't a marketing specialist, and while I probably knew more about marketing than many other recruiters, I didn't know enough to read people's minds and discern from their work histories (which I had all of 10 seconds or so to scan) what level of position they'd be best suited for, be happiest in, etc. Most of the time, I was left feeling that if this person couldn't market themselves properly, how were they ever going to effectively market the company's party goods? Someone with a clear, non self-serving objective that told me exactly what they wanted got farther in the process than someone who had a self-serving or absent objective.

Here's an objective statement I wrote recently for someone seeking a marketing job, "Results-driven sales and marketing professional with extensive experience in retail and corporate environments seeks to contribute marketing project coordination skills and an eye for design in a position with .

My client will personalize it each time, to make it clear she wants to work for THAT company (not just anybody) and wants to work in THAT role (knowing full well that a job title on her resume's objective statement will not keep her out of consideration for other positions for which she might be equally or better suited). Plus, it adds another incidence of the target job title on the resume - highly likely to be used as a keyword if the company is using a keyword scanner. I followed with a few supportive statements that emphasized her marketing accomplishments in an opening paragraph. Note that the word "objective" is never a keyword (talk about wasted space!), so I replace that phrase with a headline - often including the job title.

These reasons, coupled with the fact that, according to my research, (conducted personally over many years and gathered from other sources,) 80% of hiring managers never read the cover letter (yet notice when it's missing and take points off), are enough for me to include objective statements on every resume I write. Of course, elaboration in the letter which demonstrates goodness of fit and the reason one is interested in the position, is always a good thing - for the 20% of hiring managers who will actually read it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

To whom do you address your resume and cover letter, when you don't know the name of the person?

When you don't know the name of the actual person to whom you're addressing a cover letter or resume, see what you can find out via LinkedIn or your network. Failing that, go with "Recruiting Manager". It will be tough to know what to do when working with staffing agencies.

When applying online to jobs posted by agencies, you'll want to address your letter to the agency. When you make contact to someone at the agency, let them know you can write a letter for each opportunity for which your materials are submitted if they feel it would be helpful. A good agency recruiter acts as your cover letter - talking up your strong points and emphasizing goodness of fit.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thinking About Moving?

Think the grass is greener elsewhere? Miss your family? Here are some strategies to facilitate your long-distance job search:

1. Read your target city’s local newspapers, journals and publications on a regular basis, for job listings and relevant business news. Note which companies are reducing staff off, who is hiring, who just received angel investments, etc.

2. Join (and start attending the meetings of) at least one locally based professional association or the local chapter of a national professional association. In the Seattle area, www.iloveseattle.org is a great resource for networking organizations.

3. Plan to spend time in your new city, to conduct networking in person rather than just over the phone or on-line.

4. Develop a list of potential employers for whom you would like to work and for whom your background and experience are a good fit. LinkedIn, to do your research, including identifying the name of a hiring executive.

5. Send each of the employers a targeted, personalized letter and resume, linking your interest and qualifications to their area of focus. Try to schedule an exploratory interview even if there are no current job openings for you. You will be setting the stage for future employment should their needs change.

6. Consider short-term consulting gigs with area employers. When you meet employers, think about how you might help them by consulting. Do they mention any projects that you would be qualified to do? This would be an excellent way to establish yourself with locally-based credentials.

7. Use the city and state in your contact info, instead of your own. In a tight job market, hiring managers need not look beyond the local area for highly qualified job applicants. They seek candidates who are ready to work without much training, are familiar with the local market and competition, and perhaps have local contacts. Employers certainly prefer avoiding travel reimbursement and relocation costs.

It is important to demonstrate to the employer that you are committed to being in the area for the long haul, not just until the economy turns around. You may want to consider moving in with a friend for a while during your job hunt. Beware that if you are only pretending to have a local address, you may be caught when an employer wants you to interview on short notice or even during the informal ice breaking part of an interview, e.g., talking about the hometown sports teams and weather.

Friday, November 28, 2008

People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world

When I left my position as corporate recruiter and decided to offer networking coaching as a key component of my business, I realized that while I'd done well networking for the corporation I worked for, I hadn't done much networking for myself.

To remedy that, I joined a few industry organizations and one for business owners of any industry. I looked at about eight different options, the organizations I chose needed to meet four criteria:

1. They needed to be relevant to what I did.
2. They needed to have a face-to-face component and the people there needed to be happy to see me.
3. They needed to be filled with spark plugs - people very excited to be there and to be doing what they did for a living.
4. They needed to be easy to get to and offered at convenient times (ruling out 7:00 a.m. meetings and anything involving rush-hour traffic).

I renewed my Northwest Recruiters Association and National Resume Writer's memberships. One group is nearly all face-to-face and the other is virtual as there just aren't very many resume writers in the world. Then, I joined the eWomenNetwork, which is focused exclusively on teaching business owners and other professionals (not just women!) how to network. Talk about a room full of spark plugs! You could run a small city off the energy at those meetings! If you want to check them out, mention I referred you. You can go to many of these groups once or twice without an obligation to join and some you never have to join if you don’t want to.

I also joined the Puget Sound Career Developers Association, a much more sedate group of people who have been in the career counseling industry for a long time - over 40 years in several cases. This has been a gem of a resource with terrific guest speakers. As an added bonus, most career counselors hate writing resumes and have minimal corporate recruiting experience; many partnerships have formed through this group. More recently, I’ve built my profile on Biznik and have signed up for a few events.

My point in explaining my journey into networking is to illustrate an unexpected issue I faced right from the beginning. Every single time it was time to go to a networking meeting, I thought of a reason not to go. I was too busy. I was too tired. It was cold out. I was in my pajamas. I didn’t really feel like talking to people. Every time I thought of some reason. However, I'd already paid for the lunch or it was a part of my membership, so I forced myself to go.

It didn't take long, maybe three months or so, before I started noticing a pattern. Every time I went to a networking event, something wonderful came out of it. A new referral partner, a business strategy I didn’t know, a new friend, unfathomable resources, and, in many cases, new clients. It was completely unexpected (perhaps I set my expectations too low), but altogether wonderful.

I strongly encourage all of you to get out there, meet people face to face and build relationships with them. Soon, they’ll think of you anytime someone asks them, “Do you know anyone who does…” Now, they know YOU!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Age Discrimination - Interview and Job Search Tips

This article went out with my NRWA newsletter and discusses a topic that many clients have been facing recently. Enjoy!

Age discrimination may not always be what it seems. Besides, if an organization is discriminating based on age, it will likely discriminate for a multitude of other reasons. This is not the kind of organization you want to have anything to do with.

However, there are challenges in the job search that mature job seekers must confront that younger job seekers are not burdened with. So what can these individuals do to turn age into an asset instead of a liability?

Here are some suggestions:

Knowledge: Your education should never, never stop. Go back to school. Take seminars. Do independent research. Do whatever it takes to stay up to date in your profession and demonstrate that knowledge through detailed presentation in your résumé or portfolio.

Industry Contributions: You should be active in industry associations, trade shows, symposiums. Notice I said "active." Simply being a member in name only does absolutely nothing for you. Give industry presentations. The presentation does not have to be on a nationwide level. It could be to your local association chapter. Get published. An article in a local association newsletter can demonstrate you are active and current within your industry. Reference these presentations and activities in your résumé.

Computers: The explosion of computer technology is part of our life. It is not enough to just be familiar with the programs that meet your day-to-day needs. Rather, show that you are state-of-the-art through your knowledge and application of new technologies and methodologies.

Health: Stay fit or get fit. You are more apt to be discriminated against for your weight than for your age. If you have a double chin and pot belly you will be perceived as a health liability who is lazy and without the energy or vitality to work hard, long hours with dedication and commitment. This might not be fair, but it is fact, so get fit. Crash diets are not recommended, but a conscientious effort to improve your health and vitality is imperative.

Appearance: Be contemporary. Too many mature professionals stick with old habits. If you are not contemporary in your appearance, then you will be perceived as not being contemporary in your ideas or knowledge. Get rid of the horn-rimmed glasses, ties that are too narrow, too wide or out-of-style, and suits, shirts or blouses that don't fit and are worn and frayed. If you look sharp, you will make a positive, energetic impression in the interview.

Artificial Obstacles: Although there is indeed actual age discrimination, some times it is due to tactical errors and can be overcome:

Interview question: Are you willing to relocate?

Mature executive response: "No." Or maybe, "I prefer to remain here, but I am open to relocation depending on the city, position, and income. Of course I expect a full relocation package."

Young executive response: "Absolutely! I will go anywhere that is necessary to get the job done. When do I start? I can be on a plane tomorrow!"

Unfortunately, all too often, when the young executive is selected the mature executive might jump to the conclusion that it was all age discrimination, but make sure you did all you could in your interview so you may know for sure.

Attitude: Nothing beats enthusiasm. Don't talk about your grandchildren. Talk about mountaineering, or the marathon you ran, or the tennis tournament you entered, or the college courses you are taking, or the article you just wrote for your industry trade journal. Avoid age issues. For example, don't make the following statements: "I'm looking for one more challenge before I retire," or, "Back when I was your age," or, "I'm 57 years old, but a young 57," or, "You're probably looking for someone younger, but I know I can do the job." Rather than bringing up age issues, you should focus on the needs of the organization and how you can produce results.

Your Résumé: Don't be afraid to mention dates. The minute you leave them out, you have raised a red flag to the employer. The notion that you can fool them and get the interview just doesn't work. If employers want to discriminate based on age, they will. Your résumé should focus on bottom-line contributions and accomplishments. Don't rest on your laurels and try to rely on past accomplishments. Continually prove you are contemporary with the ability to produce results in today's marketplace and you will be a winner.

The job seeker who can demonstrate state-of-the-art expertise with energy, enthusiasm, and a zest for living will have many, many years of a productive career. Age discrimination should not be a factor.

The author of this article, Don Straits, is CEO Corporate Warriors and is an authority on contemporary job search strategies for senior-level executives. I don't know Don personally, but he's got some great articles on his website - http://www.donstraits.com/ if you'd like more on this topic.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Free Work Readiness Classes for Bellevue Residents

This is a wonderful service to Bellevue residents. For the past seven years, I've come in on the last day of the quarter to conduct mock interviews and resume reviews for the Prepare for Work class. Without fail, folks have found the class valuable. Plus - it's free!

Bellevue Community College is offering FREE Job Preparation and ESL classes for refugees and immigrants. Students must live in Bellevue and be interested in finding work now or in the near future.

Starting in January, BELLEVUE residents can sign up for:

Basic Computer Skills (level 4/5)
Preparing for Work (level 5/6)
On the Job Communications (level 6 only)

This winter, registration will be held on January 6th at 5:30 pm in room R-101 on the BCC campus. These classes are funded by the City of Bellevue and begin every quarter in: January, April, June and September.

Monday, October 6, 2008

More on Executive Recruiters

I wrote a blog about using recruiters (see below) awhile ago. Here are more of my thoughts on the matter, this time focusing on executive recruiters.

When considering executive recruiters, it's most important to work with individuals with long arms in your industry. You're essentially "allowing" them to work with you (and collect their placement fee from the employer) because you think they can reach places or companies better than you can. Google them, check them out on LinkedIn, ask around - if they have a large presence and seem well connected, they're probably worth talking to.

If a company wants to charge you for the privilege of representing you, look elsewhere. In my opinion, agents who charge thousands of dollars for their services are the bottom feeders of the industry. They prey on desperate job seekers who don’t realize they can’t find the same information (resume writing, interview coaching and job search strategy assistance) for much less elsewhere. Check out ripoffreport.com for more information about some of the worst offenders.

When you talk with a recruiter, find out how they operate - on retainer or contingency. If the latter, ask if they have an exclusive relationship or if there are other recruiters also working on the positions they represent. Pay more attention to retained recruiters, in general you will be treated better and get better information from them because they are closer to the employer. Just realize that they are working for the employer, so listen to what they say about them and then check their facts.

When you do speak with executive recruiters, ask about their recent placements. Good recruiters will be able to rattle off several of their most recent placements, including the level their candidate was hired into, the industry and the name of the company. Pick one or two placements at random and ask when the placement was made. Solo executive recruiters should be placing 8-10 candidates per year if they're running a thriving business. Ask what you could expect from them, find out if they are willing to market you and get a sense of whether you'll enjoy talking with them throughout the job search.

A downside to working with recruiters is the cost to the employer. If you have an "in" via your network, don't use the recruiter to get in to that particular company. Employers are paying up to 35% for finder’s fees vs. a few hundred dollars for an employee referral, so it's much better for employers to find their talent outside of the contingent search. If an employer has an exclusive relationship with a recruiter, they've agreed to route all candidates through that recruiter, so there's no avoiding them in that scenario.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I'm a career changer, shouldn't I use a functional resume?

It's functional resume questions week! (Yes, these things go in waves.)

"My experience isn't related to what I want to do; shouldn't I use a functional resume?"

And the crowd says, "No, No, NO!"

Using functional resumes is risky. It has been my experience, and that of many of my fellow recruiters who are actively recruiting, that hiring managers and recruiters alike hate them. They wonder what you are hiding and often suspect the worst. This may not be such an issue if you already have love at a company and are sure they aren't going to "judge" you (read - toss your resume) for appearing to cover up some significant flaw by using a functional resume. Even then, why would you want to?

My vision for the resumes I write for career changers is to show a successful (if ostensibly unrelated) work history headed by a profile describing interest and goodness of fit for the opportunity at hand, using examples of your directly related experience whenever possible. Hiring managers want to see WHY someone is making a big shift. They want it to be because you love what they do and want to be a part of it. Then, they want to know if you are any good at your current occupation and they will likely extrapolate that you'll bring similar success to their organization. Functional resumes don't show this, hence the pervasive suspicion of them among hiring managers.

I recently worked with a Bollywood DJ who had nearly no PM experience, but wanted to work as a Project Manager at Microsoft. I did just as I described above and emphasized his successes and his abilities to pull concerts together, etc., and voila, he was hired. I had faith in him; soon, he had faith in himself too. Had I glossed over his seemingly non-related experience by writing a functional resume, I’m convinced he never would have gotten a second glance.

I’ve done this myself. As a mental health counselor, I had no recruiting experience when I was hired. None. How did I get the job? By emphasizing transferrable skills.

“So, Ms. Walser, have you ever sold anything?”
“Well, I sold a schizophrenic man on the idea that he shouldn’t discuss his belief that he was Jesus while at work.”

“Hmmm, have you ever dealt with clients who are upset that their new employee didn’t show up for work? How would you retain that client?”
“Well, I convinced a man who was sure he could fly not to jump off the third-level deck at the Kingdome during a Mariners game…”


If I can do it, so can you. Don’t sell yourself short. What you did before MATTERS!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Why didn't HR give me feedback about my last interview?

As a former corporate recruiter for a publicly traded company, I got an inside look at this process. HR Managers, as you know, are the organization’s sheriff. They don't make the laws; they just interpret them and insist others in the company carry them out. Without perspective and a bit of common sense, deputized recruiters can carry out HR edicts so far that they become counterproductive to the goals of the organization, i.e., appearing so ridiculous and inflexible as to turn off good talent.

I have found that for the most part it is the recruiters (who usually report to the head of HR) with little ability to think for themselves that are the most rigid with rules. It’s very important to know exactly what the rules are and why they were put in place and equally important to use good judgment when working with prospective employees.

The main reason HR doesn't want managers telling interviewees why they didn't get the job is to protect the company from a lawsuit. Disclosure used the wrong way is a loaded gun. However, a smart recruiter can disclose lots of helpful information without equipping candidates with ammo for a lawsuit - so long as that information is based on goodness of fit, job qualifications, problems during the interview process, etc. For example, calling out that the candidate answered questions about key functions of the job incorrectly or took 20 minutes to answer each question is helpful. Telling applicants that they weren’t selected because they were too old to relate to the rest of the team or telling them nothing is just brainless and disrespectful.

As much as I liked recruiting, it’s much more fun to provide interview coaching where I get to tell job seekers about corporate HR’s true goals and provide them with ammunition to cope with the myriad of contingencies that arise during an interview. I also teach candidates how to interview the company. If a dimwitted recruiter with no judgment is calling the shots on behalf of HR, RUN! It won’t get better as you work your way up.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What Color is your Parachute?

I had the great treat to meet Dick Bolles, author of "What Color is your Parachute?" yesterday. He met with the members of my PSCDA group and other interested fans of his work at the lovely Lake Union Crew (http://www.lakeunioncrew.com/) facilities. After a day of walking us through some of his more famous exercises - prioritization, transferable skills, etc., we came to the most moving part of the evening. Career counselors, some who had worked with Dick for over 30 years, gave heartfelt speeches of how Dick and his work had influenced their lives.

Throughout the day, I was struck by how humble Dick was. In a room where people were literally gushing about how he completely transformed the course of their careers, Dick quietly focused on each person with whom he was speaking, making them feel that they were the most important person to him at that moment. I thought, what a role model for the rest of us. Give 100% of yourself to the person in front of you. Sounds so easy, right? He seemed rather nonplussed by the plaques, photomontages, and speeches actually, but sitting right across the table from him, I could tell he was touched by how much the speech givers were touched by him.

Knocked about by life several times, a layoff, his brother's assassination, an unexpected divorce, his heart stopping - things like that - Dick, at 81, still had a brightness of spirit and an energy that would put many people half his age to shame. A resilient man, teaching resilience, in a world ready to knock us all down if we let it.

I didn't have a speech for Dick. I’d come into the Puget Sound Career Developers Association (PSCDA) through the back door a year ago. As someone who'd arrived at career coaching only due to a serendipitous mixture of corporate recruiting and counseling careers, I'd never read Dick's book prior to a few weeks before he came to Seattle. When I finally read it, I was delighted to find that I'd stumbled upon many of the same truths about networking, resume writing, interviewing and the desire to share that knowledge with others that Dick had. I'm thrilled that I have another 35 years or so to keep practicing, maybe I'll get half as good. Dick Bolles is a role model worth emulating.