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Burned Out Networking? Try These Tips.

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Networking is one of the most exhausting things for a job seeker – but also one of the most essential.

But after countless emails, calls or LinkedIn pursuits, how do you find the energy to keep doing it?

I have a number of networking strategies I implement with my Career Coaching clients to help fight networking fatigue. But if you’re looking for an introduction, check out the tips in this Huffington Post article. Here’s a quick intro:

  1. Make a realistic plan and stick to it.
  2. Make it convenient.
  3. Prioritize your new connections.
  4. Don’t attend networking events in a bad mood.
  5. Mix it up.

Again, these are some topline tips that have more follow-up detail over at the article. Check it out, and let me know how YOU have fought networking burnout in the past!

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Are You Answering This Career Question Like a 10-Year-Old?

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I often ask an individual what it is they are trying to accomplish with their career search (i.e., what they want to do in their career), and their answer is something like this:

“Well, I’m good at a lot of things! I could go into marketing since I had some promotional experience at my college radio station. Or, I could go into food service management since I used to be a waiter. I’m also interested in landscaping and thought about starting my own business.”

It begins to sound like a 10-year-old’s response when asked what they want to be when they grow up!

This is not a person who has focus. They clearly don’t know what they are all about or where they want to go with their career.

You can avoid this kind of confusion by developing a marketing strategy. I work with my clients to examine the exploration phase and how to execute it without sounding like a beggar. We also talk about the validation phase that let’s us know if the career “shoe” fits. The final phase is the positioning stage, in which you can truly activate your career without having to answer an ad or chase a job opening!

You can read more about this topic in my book, From Roadkill To Road Map, or talk with me personally.

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How To Start a Networking Conversation

Networking Discussions

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One of the things I work with Career Coaching clients on all the time is how to effectively network – and a big part of that is simply knowing where to begin.

When you’re at an industry conference, networking event, or local organization happy hour, understanding how to genuinely start an engaging conversation is a big part of the problem. People feel awkward when they approach someone else vice versa.

I have some proprietary tips I give my clients, but if you are looking for some general advice, this Entrepreneur article breaks down some really good, simple tips and rules-of-thumb on starting a conversation:

  1. Hone your public speaking skills.
  2. Start with a handshake.
  3. Win the name game.
  4. Show interest.
  5. Act a connector for help.
  6. Give a sincere compliment.
  7. Share opportunities.
  8. Learn to tell a story.

Read the article for a full breakdown of each tip. Do you have any good stories from starting a conversation at a networking event – good or bad? Comment with your learnings!

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Advice For New Graduates

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I mostly work with professionals who are somewhat experienced and seasoned in the work world – but that doesn’t mean I don’t have thoughts on how new graduates should approach “hiring season”!

Once school is out, the market is flooded with resumes from fresh out-of-school grads looking to dive into their career. The thing is, there are often so many people out there that it’s hard to stand out.

But sometimes the best way to stand out is by what you DON’T do.

Take this article titled 5 of the Worst Job Search Mistakes a Recent Graduate Could MakeIt calls out specific entitled behaviors that I have heard hiring decision makers echo.

But it also calls out 5 specific things you can’t do if you want to make contacts, deliver a positive impression, and land a job before your peers:

  1. Fail to use a college network
  2. Know nothing about the company you are interviewing with
  3. Generic cover letter and/or resume
  4. Inappropriate social media presence
  5. Not saying thank you

Read the whole article for more insight, and if you are a recent grad who wants more advice on your strategy to starting a career, reach out to me anytime.

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Spring Into New Career Moves

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The temperature is rising and the grass is getting greener – Spring is here!

In the spirit of Spring, this month’s CAREEReport (which came out today) is packed with fresh, inspiring ways to think about your career this season.

Here’s a taste of this April’s headlines:

  1. Job News: A New Perspective on Workplace Depression
  2. Tools of the Trade: 5 Fresh Job Search Trends
  3. Career Networking: Getting Them To Say “Yes” To a Meeting
  4. Career Str8 Talk: The Challenge With Middle Managers
  5. Job Lifeline: Holly

Read this month’s CAREEReport here, and sign up here to receive future newsletters!

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Some Thoughts About “International Quit Your Crappy Job Day”

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Did you know there is a movement to recognize today – March 31 – as International Quit Your Crappy Job Day?

Per this Yahoo! Finance article:

“Way too many people stay in jobs they hate for way too long,” the man behind the plan, Alexander Kjerulf, tells Money Talk News. “We need to shift our perspectives and realize that quitting a job you hate is not an act of weakness [but] a lead to a better work life, a happier home life and a more successful career.”

Now, I’m definitely an advocate of quitting a job that does not fulfill you. However I never recommend making a spontaneous decision to quit. You need to consider the value you have to offer your current job and whether or not that value is being utilized. You need to ask if there is any way to work with management to adjust your role on the team to satisfy your desires.

But what if it’s still not worth it? The article reco’s considering this checklist of reasons it may be time to quit:

  • You’re no longer learning;
  • The passion is gone;
  • Your skills aren’t being tapped;
  • You hate the work;
  • You don’t fit into your company’s culture;
  • You have a terrible boss;
  • Your company is on a downward spiral;
  • Your health is affected by stress and anxiety;
  • Your personal relationships are suffering because of your job;
  • The way up the ladder isn’t appealing;
  • Your duties have increased, but your pay hasn’t;
  • You wake up dreading the day; and
  • You yearn for something else.

The key is this: Don’t just quit. Have a plan to grasp your dream job. Identify goals and a strategy to reach those goals. Know your next step before you take the first one.

There is a right way to quit and a wrong way – and if you’re at a point when you’re not sure which is which, I’m here to talk.

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The Challenge With Middle Managers

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Middle management is a hard place to be.

You have to manage up to a senior manager who expects you to handle projects and situations so they can simply give it the green light – but the senior manager USUALLY still has the final say.

At the same time, the middle manager is trying to manage down to his/her team, keeping things moving and leading effectively – but those team members also know that the senior manager has the final say! This can all lead to a lack of respect by team members, and oversight by the senior manager.

This Entrepreneur article suggests that middle managers are often set up to fail, especially when their senior manager isn’t leading effectively. It also calls out 4 ways to improve the effectiveness of middle management:

  1. Improve training.
  2. Relieve stress.
  3. Provide feedback.
  4. Better role models in senior leadership.

Read the whole article for better insight into this situation. If you are a senior manager, consider the position your middle managers are in and the environment you create. Likewise, if you report to a middle manager, try to understand the challenges they face daily and identify how you can find solutions.

And if you are a middle manager, hand in there!

 

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How Being Part of a Controversy Can Impact Your Career Long-Term

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It’s far too often that we see a story in the headlines about college-aged students doing something dumb on camera.

Most recently, it was a group of SAE fraternity students in Oklahoma.

This blog post is not intended to judge what these students did – obviously, any act of racism is terrible. But one question that has come up a lot is this: Will the act of theses students hold long-term consequences in terms of their careers?

In short, my answer is yes.

We live in a day and age when anything you put out there can and likely will be seen by coworkers and employers, current or future. I just spoke to someone today who is interviewing a candidate tomorrow and joked about a video they found online of the candidate rapping. My point is this: Assume what you publish online will be seen.

Will a hiring decision maker overlook a pic of you doing shots with your college friends? Probably. But an act of racism? Probably not.

This case study should be an example to everyone out there – making bad decisions in life and documenting them for the world to see has consequences.

I hope you’ll read more about this topic in this article where two other career experts give their takes on the impact of the SAE fraternity’s actions in terms of their future careers. It provokes a lot of thought, and I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts in the comments!

 

 

 

 

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The True Definition of Networking

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You hear so much about networking.

“It’s just faking relationships to get a job.”

“It’s all about making connections to get ahead.”

“It’s meeting as many people as possible so you have a wider net to cast in the future.”

Nobody ever seems to get it right. Networking IS essential to your career. It IS about making connections and relationships. But it’s so much more. It’s a two-way, mutually beneficial engagement. It’s about helping others as much as getting help.

I recently came across an article titled Networking For Career Development that I believe does a good job of summing up all that networking encompasses:

Networking is by no means ‘buttering others’. Networking for career development is connecting with people who can aid your growth. Ideally, networking is developing relations which can be mutually beneficial. Networking is about developing professional connections but it’s by no means an alternative to knowledge, skills or hard work. It’s in fact complementing your strengths and creating positive results for your professional growth.
Read that through a few times and ask yourself, “Am I REALLY networking?”
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How To Build Relationships With Recruiters

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As a Career Coach, my opinion on the use of recruiters is this: It’s not always right and it’s not always wrong.

Not too long I ago, I blogged on the topic of recruiters   – note that the “Schmitz” mentioned below is a sales and marketing recruiter and President of Twin Cities-based Blue Octopus LLC (blueoctopusllc.com):

As for that recruiter, keep this story in mind: Schmitz had a friend who (against Schmitz’s expert advice) paid a recruiter $2,700 for what turned out to be a résumé, cover letter, interview tips and one interview for a job $25,000 below his expectations. And of course, they never found him a job. “Recruiters like me make money when we place people,” says Schmitz. And that fee is paid by the employer — not the job seeker. “We shouldn’t be charging job seekers and unemployed candidates who desperately need the money.”

So, while I am skeptical of recruiters, there are some things that are worth considering. I recently came across an article titled “Career Search: Building Relationships With Recruiters”, that identifies how to start and maintain a healthy relationship with a recruiter that can help you achieve success.

Read the article. Think about how you could, should or should not work with a recruiter.

And if you’ve ever had a successful experience with a recruiter, please share your story in the comments!

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