Monday, June 28, 2010

Internet Tools

The longer I work in the area of job search and the more I learn about the various tools available to a job seeker, the more I realize how confusing it is.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is figuring out an appropriate balance. At NFJS, everything we’ve learned strongly reinforces that networking is the key to a successful job search. So it should be obvious, we think networking sites are much more important than any others, heck more important than all of the others combined.

There are really four kinds of web sites that we care about in job search.

Social Networking
The most useful type of web page is a social networking site: Linkedin or Facebook. Each of these provides tools to connect with your existing network. Linkedin is really optimized for your career and is almost required for an effective job search. There is lots to love here, but my favorite is what Linkedin does for allowing you to create intelligence around your network. As in, when you are interested in a particular company, a simple search in of “people” for the company will return how you are connected to the company. Linkedin is a place worth checking every day. Even here though it’s important not to get carried away. The focus of Facebook is your social network, but given that it is still your network, there are lots of ways to use this effectively. Spending time each day on these tools helps. Linkedin will get more results in job search than Facebook, but given that your network is your greatest resource, anything that nurtures your network is a good thing.

Be careful with your posts…. Everywhere. Remember that all of this stuff is permanent and the vast majority of what is posted is visible to a potential employer. You may have been at a great party over the weekend, heck it may have been your wedding, but don’t post a picture of you or any of your friends that got a little bit too happy. What has context with you and your friends doesn’t have context to a stranger.

Job Boards and listing aggregators.
One type not on the list, but very tempting and not very rewarding is job boards. You know their names.,, etc. Each portrays itself as your one necessary stop on your career search, and frankly they mostly suck time without a return. Of course they actually do have real jobs being advertised…. The solution to this is the next type I do recommend: An “aggregator”. What they do is search through other pages to save you the time. The first of these that I recommend is What Indeed does is search a large number (200? 300?) of job boards and report the findings back to the searcher. In addition it can be set up to redo a particular search daily then drop the findings into your email. Another one in this group is It is similar to Indeed, but searches corporate boards instead. Lots of companies are less than excited to advertise on job boards, for lots of reasons, starting with cost. Linkup finds those jobs.

About Companies (as the company sees it)
The third are pages that describe a company. So it starts with the company web page, but also include things like Dunn and Bradstreet. For publicly traded companies, the web page will almost certainly have the most recent annual report and these truly are a gold mine of information. The “President’s report?” (or whatever passes for that) is usually quite accessible and will provide some great information about where the company is going and how it’s dealing with publicly known adversity. Dunn and Bradstreet is the tool companies use to check on each other, so pretty much every company that purchases anything is in here. It may be a little out of date, but never more than a few months, so it’s a resource that can be very useful.

About Companies (as others see it)
Start with Glass Door. It’s sort of rumor central, but take away the flames and the PR and you can get a pretty good idea of what a company is about. Then check stock analysts, business reporters, etc. Go to the library and ask a librarian. These people are amazing researchers and they love to help.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Resilience revisited

I don't usually talk about resilience, but every once in a while, something captures my attention and is worth passing on. This is the case with the book, "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin.

There are several reasons:

• She owns her problems/challenges/etc. There are an infinite number of things we don't control and a relatively small number that we do. Chief among the things we control is ourselves; our attitudes and behavior. If we blame the stuff we don't control, then our lives tend to suck. If, instead, we focus on what we can control, we have a chance to make things better and she does that. It actually becomes a theme of the book. Everything she identifies as making her unhappy she addresses as her problem, not someone else's.

• There is real scholarship being practiced. Not the theoretical stuff that happens in schools, but the real stuff that has evolved over time and has solid practical research at its core.

• Her research and experience points out that her attitude is what makes her more or less happy.

As an example, one of the topics she researches is the old belief that if we "vent our anger" we release it and are "happier because of it." Turns out that's just not true. Being angry will make us more angry. Being happy will make us more happy. What a powerful idea that is.

When we are looking for jobs, all of the stuff she is saying is put into bold relief. There is even less that we can control than during times of employment. There are more reasons to be angry than when employed. There are fewer good things that penetrate our psyche than when employed. One of Ms. Rubin's points is that by finding those positives, those good things and focusing on them, the rest of our lives actually get better.

Back to the idea of "Resilience". When I copied the paper my wife wrote on resilience into the blog a year or so ago, the points it addressed very briefly are many of the same areas as in "The Happiness Project." Ms. Rubin just does a much better job of it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Networking revisited

I went to a couple of networking events recently, intent on working them in “pay it forward (PIF)” mode and I have to admit that I liked the results. The part I liked the most is there were people I actually could help.

My process was pretty much what Sandy Jones-Kaminski suggests in her book “I’m at a Networking Event, Now What???” I simply walked up to people asking some variation on the question, “How can I help?” and found a variety of folks that I actually could provide some help. For a few it was simply asking the question, “How can I help?” and they relaxed and started talking about why they were there. For one person it was direct useful feedback about his elevator pitch; for others it was a variety of other things. One person has become a client. She’s looking for a new job and that is, of course, what I do.

The point is that using this simple approach allowed me to have a very productive couple of hours. It’s so simple. It’s so easy to be intimidated at a networking event, or have expectations that are uncomfortable or a million other things. My first experience of one of these left me very cold as my regular readers might recall, but simply turning the process into a “PIF” event and it totally takes that pressure off.

Success is measured by the number of cards I get, not the number I give. Afterwards, my tasks are pretty straight forward; short intro/thank you/follow up notes to the people who gave me a card. If something more develops, perfect, if not, I did my part. I did what I could do.