JEAN'S BLOG. Best & Next Practices in: Executive Resumes, Personal Branding & Executive Job Search

How to Get an Employee Referral

Posted by Jean Cummings

May 6, 2015 9:13:37 AM

 

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OK, in my previous blog post I noted that employee referrals are the #1 source of hire in corporate America. This statistic comes out of CareerXroads Source of Hire Study for 2014. That means leveraging employee referrals is better than depending on recruiters to find your a job, applying to jobs on big job boards, or using specialty services like Execunet or Netshare.

Everyone knows that “networking” has always been the best way to get hired. “Employee referrals” is just a subcategory of “networking.” The BEST subcategory. It involves very deliberately networking with select employees who work for the company posting the job you are targeting.

If you know the contact, you can naturally get in touch with them and open up a conversation. But what if you don’t know them? Does that mean you have to give up on getting an employee referral? Not necessarily. If they are a connection on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter you may well be able to tap into them as a resource.

Why would a networking contact on LinkedIn (LI) or social media be interested in referring you if they don't know you? Many companies offer monetary rewards to employees who refer a candidate who ultimately gets hired. The reason employers are willing to pay for referrals is that hiring this way results in high-quality hires who are more likely to do well in the company culture. Using company employees as sources also is more cost-effective.

So how exactly do you go about introducing yourself to someone who is unknown to you or who is a relative stranger on one of your social media sites? You probably don’t want to just email them with a request like, “Hi! I’m a VP of Sales for the Americas at one of your competitors, can you refer me for the job of Global VP of Sales your company just posted?” It’s a little too abrupt and doesn’t give the employee much information to help build her confidence in you as a candidate.

Try an engaging, respectful approach like this: “Hi, I see that we are third-degree connections on LinkedIn. In fact we both know [Bill Jones]. He’s a great guy – we worked together back at [Raytheon]. I wanted to introduce myself to you because I’m interested in applying for the open job [Lockheed Martin] just posted. And I wonder if you could take a look at my resume and tell me if you think my background looks interesting for the job. I’d welcome any advice you may have, either by email or in a brief 5-minute phone call.”

If you get a positive response from this employee, thank them. If you feel the general reaction was positive, you might then ask, “ Do you feel that you have a good enough sense of my background to refer me to the CEO (or whoever would be the hiring manager for the job)? If the answer is in the affirmative, then express your appreciation and email your resume, having incorporated any valuable suggestions. Remember, as always, to tailor the resume to the job and industry, including keywords.

Once the resume hand-off is achieved, make sure to write a thank-you email and extend an offer to help the employee in any future situation where they might want a referral. These last steps are very important! They align with the basic rule of all good networking: Givers Gain.

Why use this time-intensive, relationship-building route when just firing off a resume to a posted job ad is so quick and easy?

Because candidates who come in via employee referrals have a one in 10 chance of ultimately getting hired. With job boards it can be more like one in 100 or one in 1000. Which odds do you prefer?

If, when you approach a new contact with this method you don’t get a response, try again with another employee. Be persistent and take advantage of the #1 Source of HIre in corporate America. Get a touchdown! 🏈

Jean Cummings

 

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Topics: job search, executive search, branded executive resume, career marketing, job interview, employment trends

Test Your Job Search IQ with This One Quick Question

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 1, 2015 8:41:52 AM

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If you answer this one question correctly and act on its implications, you are well on your way to a great job! Here it is:

1. What is the #1 source of hire for coporate America?

a) Job boards

b) Employee Referrals

c) Executive Recruiters

d) Career Site

 The right answer is b! This has profound implications for your job search. It means that if you are spending most of your time on job boards, you are not searching efficiently. It also means that if you ignore this channel, you are giving up on your biggest advantage.

Here are some of my recommendations:

  • Track your time to see if the largest percentage of time you spend on job search is spent on tapping into employee referral networks at the companies you are interested in targeting. If it is not, do an in-course correction.
  • If you see a job posted on a job board you want to apply to, go ahead through the specified channels and submit your ATS-friendly (Applicant Tracking System-friendly) resume and cover letter. BUT, at the same time, tap into your networks to find someone within the company to connect with - the ultimate goal being an employee referral.
  • Ask the employee if they feel they know enough about you to refer you - and make sure they have your excellent branded executive resume. If they say they do, then request that they hand deliver your resume with their referral to the manager who would be directing you in the job. (HR will already have your resume from their system.)
  • If you don't know of a job opening but are interested in working for a specific company, go through the process above anyway. This is a fabulous way to job search! If the senior manager is even thinking about hiring, you have a huge advantage. Getting in before a job hits the job boards gives you tremendously better odds.

I will be writing more on where to find employee referrals and what to say in my next blog post. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

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Topics: job search, ATS

Use This Simple Brain Technique to Get Your Next Job

Posted by Jean Cummings

Feb 10, 2015 8:58:20 AM

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This may seem like a blog post title that seriously overreaches. But, there is a sense in which there is one simple, essential ingredient to job search success. This is it:

Visualize your goal.

It's not enough just to have a goal, although that appears to be critical for success in job search as in just about everything else. It's also important to paint a picture in your mind of what your goal would look like, feel like, sound like, etc. Brain science suggests that the brain is stimulated in the same regions whether we are only visualizing or actually experiencing a state of affairs.

Srinivasan S. Pillay, M.D. is a master executive coach to Fortune 500 leaders who examines new findings in brain science and makes suggestions for business behavior in his book: Your Brain and Business: The Neuroscience of Great Leaders.

If you want to explore his ideas in depth, Dr. Pillay discusses a range of compelling ideas to emerge out of brain research that have the potential to enhance leadership success.

But for those of us who aren't F500 executives, goal visualization holds great promise as well. The US Olympic Committee has increased the number of psychologists on staff 600% over the past 20 years in recognition of the importance of training athletes mentally to achieve their goal. Read more at Business Insider.

For years I've been coaching clients on how to interview to get the job. One key ingredient in my coaching is to encourage clients to visualize before the interview starts that they are already in the job and functioning with authority as part of a productive team. In visualizing these states of affairs, they are feeling confident, "in their element," collegial, knowledgeable, valued and have a sense of belonging and of liking their colleagues. The impact of this kind of visualization on a client's body language, energy, attitude towards the interviewers, and general affect can be profound.

People promoting visualization as a success tool suggest that by visualizing the goal the person is actually preparing the brain to understand and proceed on the steps that need to be taken to reach the goal.

In job search, the individual can visualize the ultimate goal - being an employee at their company of choice - and also visualize performing the steps required to meet that goal: connecting with people from the company or recruiters on LinkedIn, leaving a message for a hiring authority, meeting with key networking contacts, writing two letters a day to specific hiring authorities at specfic companies, etc.

The time required to do this kind of visualization daily is not more than a minute. See if it works for you in helping you get the job you want!

Jean Cummings

 

 

 

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Topics: job search, interviewing, career management, career planning

The Biggest 2015 Job Search Trend in One Word

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jan 30, 2015 9:42:36 AM

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Here's where I see resumes and job search going:

ONLINE

O: Over 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn to source and vet candidates | Over 80% use social media sites like Facebook or Twitter to rule applicants OUT

N: Neglect building your online footprint at your peril | Unless you have a robust online footprint, you will be disadvantaged in the job search over candidates who do

L: Love your job and want to keep it? Stay abreast of the trends in your industry, keep learning to keep up, and watch the career moves and ongoing training of your peers online

I: Innovate on the job so you can write about it in your LIP (LinkedIn profile), on your website, in tweets, on Facebook, or display it on Youtube and Pinterest | Bring something distinctive to the table

N: Never give up the job search - there is always something you haven't tried in the world of online job search | There's also a world of potential contacts and ways to connect with hiring managers and employees online

E: Engage with people in your function or industry space online by responding to their online activity and getting the word about on your professional interestss

Want to get started? Go beyond your executive resume and build your LIP to 100% complete and go to about.me and build your profile there. After that, you can be endlessly creative in building your brand through words, pictures, slides, videos, and infographics.

Want to also try something new? Explore SwitchApp.com by Apple - very cool. And keep an eye on LinkedIn's new acquisition: Bright. Wisewords. RaiseYourFlag. CareerSushi. Good luck!

 

 

 


 

 

 

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Topics: job search, executive resume, online identity, LinkedIn Profile Writing

What Is the Best Day & Time to Send Your Job Search Email?

Posted by Jean Cummings

Oct 1, 2013 4:05:00 PM

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Job seekers send emails to hiring authorities and recruiters for a number of reasons:

  1. To ask for a job interview
  2. To ask for an informational interview
  3. To ask for a meeting
  4. To send a thank-you email after an interview
  5. To inquire about the status of an application
  6. To follow up on a letter they mailed

In each case, they want their email to be opened! A catchy and/or appealing subject line can make a difference. But so can the day of the week and the time of day. Marketers are very attentive to statistics about open and click through rates at different times of the week. I came across some data pertaining to email marketing that can shed some light on when job seekers might best send their emails.

Becaus ~24% of emails get opened within the hour of receipt, it only makes sense to pick your times strategically. Buffer.com has reviewed a number of studies on open and click through rates for email marketing. Here are some of Hubspot's findings Buffer reports on:

  • 10pm–6am: This is the dead zone, when hardly any emails get opened.
  • 6am–10am: Consumer-based marketing emails are best sent early in the morning.
  • 10am-noon: Most people are working, and probably won’t open your email.
  • Noon–2pm: News and magazine updates are popular during lunch breaks.
  • 2–3pm: After lunch lots of people buckle down and ignore their inbox.
  • 3–5pm: Property and financial-related offers are best sent in the early afternoon.
  • 5–7pm: Holiday promotions & B2B promotions get opened mostly in the early evening.
  • 7–10pm: Consumer promotions are popular again after dinner.

Picking which of these match most closely the type of email you might be sending would suggest that:

  • 10pm–6am, 10am-noon, 2–3pm, 3–5pm, and 5–7pm are the times to avoid.    
      
  •  6am–10am, Noon–2pm, and 7–10pm would be better times to send your email.

Other studies suggest that Thursday is the best day and Monday morning early is also a good time.

Other relevant findings are:

"For more general emails, open rates, click-through rates and abuse reports were all found to be highest during early mornings and on weekends." MailChimp, however, finds that weekends have low email open rates.

Buffer states that there is contradictory information in the studies, so I recommend you follow the above guidelines generally and keep your ears open for new data as it becomes available.

So, time your emails, but don't hesitate to send another after a week or two if the first one didn't get a response and you want one. Good luck

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Topics: job search, Job Search Emails

Survey Shows Upsurge in Social Media Hiring: Job Search Tips

Posted by Jean Cummings

Sep 17, 2013 10:17:00 AM

 

LinkedIn & Job SearchWondering how much recruiters are using social media to source and vet candidates? Thinking you need to get more active in social networking to grow your career?

These findings from Jobvite's 2013 Social Media Recruiting Survey will give you insight into how much social media has influenced today's hiring practices:

  • 94% across industries have adopted or plan to adopt social recruiting
  • 78% of social recruiters have made a hire using social recruiting
  • In order of preference: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter are the networks of choice
  • Of the multi-channel strategy recruiters use, the channels that have grown the most are social networks, referrals, and corporate career sites
  • 93% of recruiters are likely to look at someone's social media profile

Other findings are important for job seekers to know. Here are some kinds of content that create strong negative responses in recruiters:

  • Illegal drug mentions 
  • Overtly sexual content
  • Profanity
  • References to guns
  • Pictures of alcohol consumption
  • Spelling/grammar mistakes

Strong positives are found for:

  • Volunteering & donations to charity

Neutrals are found for mention of politics and religion, interestingly enough, although I recommend you avoid being to fanatical about either.

Other sites recruiters may check are:

  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Google+
  • Blogs
  • Others

So, take note of the recruiter preferences above when you start to build out your online presence. We've coverered how to build your LinkedIn presence and use Twitter in other posts. We've also written about how to get hired using social media.

Don't lag behind this recruitment trend by ignoring social media in your job search strategy. Online identity can make or break a candidacy. Make sure yours is positive, continually expanding and on brand to grow your career. Good luck!

 

 

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Topics: job search, LinkedIn Profiles, recruiters, Social media job search, the social search

Your Secret Cover Letter Weapon - 5 Tricks to Pass the Initial Screen

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jun 19, 2013 3:00:00 PM

 Cover Letter Secret Weapon

There have been volumes written about cover letters, but has anyone really addressed the following crucial question and what to do about it?

WHO READS IT?

That's right, how you write the letter should depend on who's going to read it first. Take this example. A company is hiring for a CIO, and HR has been given the job description and  requirements for screening purposes.  Since candidates are not screened by the hiring authority (in this case the CEO or the CFO), but rather by HR, your initial and arguably most important audience is an HR person.

And do you think the head of HR will be doing the screening of resumes and cover letters? In any company with more than one HR staffperson, the top authority will probably not be the one making the decision to escalate the candidate to the next level.

So your future with that company most likely rests in the hands a relatively junior HR staffperson. Will they be sophisticated enough about technology and senior technology roles to interpret your resume and cover letter in light of the job requisition? We can assume that your resume has already passed the keyword electronic screen. So what can you do to help your candidacy make it to the next stage?

With your initial audience in mind, here are five things you can do in your cover letter to get past that initial human screen, a very human being whose training is not in your field of expertise.

1. WRITE your cover letter in easy-to-understand terms, avoiding too many multisyllabic words, complex sentence structure, highly abstract concepts, or technical jargon that is not among the keywords for the job.

2.ENGAGE the reader's emotions. Be human. Let the person know that you like the company and what they do. Say why you are interested in the company. Adopt a warm tone.  Infusing this warmth into your writing will help you at this level and won't hurt as your candidacy goes up the ranks to the top hiring authority.

3. IMPRINT a memory in their mind of you by making a connection through story. Try a quick paragraph story that talks about a challenge you faced, what you did, and how it turned out. Indicate why it is relevant to the job at hand.  Stories are remembered far longer than facts, and a person's suitability for a job can be best demonstrated to an unsophisticated audience (or even a sophisticated one) through story.

4. MATCH your background to the requirements in a way that's easy to grasp visually by a non-techie. Consider using a 2-column format with the requirements on the left and your match on the right. I suggest you place this visual after your closure (after "Sincerely, Your Name"), so that the human connection can be made first. Or include a 2nd page addendum with the column matches.

5. HELP the HR screener help you, by stating specifically what you want: an opportunity to speak with the hiring authority about the value you could bring to the company. Thank them for their time.

Observe the usual courtesies in writing a cover letter. Address it to the person whose name is given in the job ad. But hold in awareness the likelihood of someone less senior reading it first.

Newspapers are written to be read for someone at the 5th grade reading level. Ads also are written for a basic reading level as well. Leave the complex, sophisticated content in the resume, but let your cover letter be your wedge in the door to advance your candidacy.

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Topics: job search, cover letters, cover letter writing, human resources

Killer Bees & Your Job Search: 5 Takeaways

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jun 10, 2013 10:57:00 AM

Killer Bees & Your Job Search

Been paying attention to the Survival of the Fittest going on before our very eyes in the case of bees? The very bees responsible for pollinating much of the world's crops? This is the current state of affairs: honey bees hives are failing in large numbers, so much so that many growers have to depend on trucked-in bees to pollinate their crops. In China, crops are being pollinated BY HAND!

What is the reason for this serious threat to our foodstocks? Scientists are not sure; some say perticides and herbicides, some say malnutrition (too much monoculture of low-nutrition crops). Still other scientists opine that honey bees have been bred for low aggression traits, so that handlers don't have to wear as much or any protective clothing.

In any case, there is a third option some growers are using: introducing African killer bees to pollinate their crops. This strain appears to be thriving in Texas and other states that have imported these aggressive bees. The danger of course is to humans and animals who can die from these stings. Killer bees sting readily in contrast to the domesticated honey bees. It appears that being highly protective of the honey correlates with robust hives.

I couldn't help but think about this lesson from nature and wonder if it is suggestive of what we are seeing in the new world of work. Not just how to get a job, but how to keep it and how to keep your career growing robustly. The recommendations below are based on commonly understood trends that currently prevail.

1. Keeping your job: Get aggressive about owning the results of your work; don't let someone else taka advantage of your less boastful personality and take the credit - and the promotion!

2. Keeping your job: Abandon the passive honey bee side of you, and fiercely hone your branded value proposition within the company. Get the word out by circulating project status memos, networking internally, and pushing to get on projects that will enhance your brand.

3. Getting a job: Forget waiting around for recruiters to get back to you about jobs you've applied to. Aggressively mine your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, college alumni, and professional groups to make contact with employees of your target company. More about this in other blog posts here.

4. Getting a job: ALWAYS be in the job market. Gone are the days of the "company man." you cannot count on an employer to have your career security as a goal. That's the honey bee way: "OK you took away my protect-the-hive response, now you have to take care of me, your employee." It's not happending. Now, you will be cut loose if it's financially beneficial for the firm. So get your branded value proposition out there internally and externally and get active!

5. Getting a job: Every day of your job search, pick something you can actively do to get in front of decision makers: build a company list, network into the companies, connect with employees, send a direct mail campaign, work your alumni and association member lists. In other words, leave the traditional passive job search in the past and aggressively go after unpublished and post opportunities. Even approach organizations with the idea of writing your own job description.

The work world of the past is the world of the honeybee. The hives are dying. Employers won't look out for you. So aggressively protect your work product from being poached just as the killer bees protect their honey. And aggressively pursue job search strategies that have a high success rate. You need to win in this world of hyper-competitive search and short duration jobs by channelling your inner killer bee!

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Topics: job search, networking, personal branding, executive resumes, killer bees

Silicon Valley Startup Shaking Up Hiring of Elite Programmers?

Posted by Jean Cummings

May 22, 2013 9:30:00 AM

Algorithms and Your Job Search

An algorithm deciding which programmer to interview? Permission to ignore resumes?

It had to happen sooner or later. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) were the first major application of technology to the decision about whom to interview. Now there is a new kid on the Siliconblock in Gild.com.   .

A good article in the NY Times ties the paradigm of applying technology to applicant selection to Big Data and the emerging field of work-science. Already top companies are testing and using Gild's software: Facebook, Wal-Mart, Twitter and others.

The thesis is this: Traditional hiring of programmers for coveted employer brands such as Google and Apple has depended on credentials such as a degree from MIT or Stanford, work experience at another premier company, etc. Glid.com believes that talented programmers who may be as good or better are being overlooked because they don't have a degree from a top tech school or a prestige background. They have developed a technology to address this problem.

How do they identify promising candidates then? By applying Big Data analytics to recruitment and using ~300 variables to predict a valuable hire. Instead of looking at three or four factors, they weigh more heavily the actual programming work someone's done.

The NY Times describes the broader criteria this way: "The types of language, positive or negative, that he or she uses to describe technology of various kinds; self-reported skills on LinkedIn; the projects a person has worked on, and for how long; and, yes, where he or she went to school, in what major..."

Executives at Gild.com in an interview with NPR said that they have ambitions to apply similar technology to fields in which work is harder to quantify: teaching, community organizing etc.

Gild's vision aligns well with the paradigm shift going on in HR (human resources) towards metrics-based decision making about recruitment and new hire evaluation. HR increasingly is needing to justify its existence in terms of providing quanitifiable value to the business.

Takeaways for programmers and job seekers in general? If this early-stage tech company is a harbinger of things to come, jumpstart your online footprint now! Leverage Linkedin to the max, including work products (once you get the media feature), put up a personal website to provide even more examples of your work and its impacts, start now to build thought leadership on Twitter, and blog. In other words, be everywhere and anywhere recruiters might be looking.

It's hard for me to say this more strongly: If you're not branded online - with breadth and depth, you will not be ready for the hiring environment of the future. With the tremendous communication potential of the Internet, you have the potential to beat out other applicants with much more impressive credentials. Who doesn't want to be able to do that?

What are your thoughts on this trend? I'd love to hear.

 

 

 

 

 

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Topics: job search, resumes, recruitment, employment trends, hiring, applicant tracking systems

Job Search: What LinkedIn Tactic Will Get You Noticed by Recruiters?

Posted by Jean Cummings

Mar 16, 2013 7:59:00 AM

Secret LinkedIn Tip for Job SeekersI was prompted to write this post in response to a comment on an earlier blog post found both here and at CareerHubBlog:

7 Key Ways to Use Social Media in Your Job Search

Rory says:

"Thanks for sharing this, Jean. You make some good points - particularly as it concerns the value of a site like LinkedIn in the application process.

In all my years recruiting I've only had one candidate reach out to me on the site (and not even for a position I was sourcing), but I was so impressed that I went out of my way to get the recruiter actually handing the job to give the candidate a phone screen."

Amazingly, some of the simplest tactics can pack the biggest punch when it comes to job search. Going into your target company's Facebook page and clicking "Like" is one. Rory, the recruiter I quote above, confirms that reaching out through LinkedIn can work well.

Here's how to do it:

Find a way to connect with the recruiter working for the company (or, in Rory's case, any recruiter in the group). You can do this by reaching out through your first or second degree connections or using one of your Inmails (~$10/connect). Or, if you aren't connected, join a group that the recruiter is in (see Groups lower down in their profile). That will enable you to connect with another member of the group.

What do you say when you connect? That you saw the job posting and wanted to reach out directly. State your value proposition for that position and add a comment about something unique to that company - a challenge they are experiencing you can help with, for instance, an acquisition, new product line, expansion, new contract etc. Tie that challenge to your experience. Ask if they would be free to talk for 5 or 10 minutes about how your specific experience could help the company with the current challenge. Thank them and give them a phone number and email where you can be reached. Always have a professional voicemail message.

What if you can't find the recruiter or hiring authority on LinkedIn? Go to the company search bar and type in the name of the company. For many companies, employees who are on LI will be shown. Is there someone there who can connect with your target person because they are in the same dept, do a similar job, or are in the same location? Ask if they would like to talk for a few minutes about the company's culture and what it's like to work there - because you are interested in the company. If, when you are talking, the occasion arises for you to say you would like to submit a resume for a posted job, would they hand it to the hiring manager, all the better.

What if you can't find the recruiter or hiring authority on LinkedIn or don't have the name? Try a general Google search on the company name. Or go to Manta.com and find the company - they will often have officers of the company listed.

The short of it? LinkedIn offers a number of ways in - take advantage of all of them - become a LinkedIn athlete!

PS Taking non-obvious routes to get noticed in your job search are worth taking the time for. Another is to send a US Mail letter (no resume) directly to the hiring authority for the particular job. Do it overnight delivery and it will get opened.

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Topics: job search, networking, recruiters, LinkedIn for job search

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Tyrone Norwood