Wednesday, November 24, 2010


It’s Thanksgiving Week, and while I only write about attitude once in a while (I think this is the third time), now is a very good time. This is one of my favorite holidays because it is about attitude and choosing to look at all we have to be thankful for. It’s simply a day to focus on what’s working. When we’re looking for work, this is one of the most important choices we can make every day and it’s incredibly easy to get overwhelmed by the challenge facing us and to allow that single item to become our center and focus. So having a day that focuses on what’s good, is a terrific moment.

It’s well documented how hard job search is, after all what other activity do we have that only has one possible complete success and what other activity is there when this event only occurs once? But if we just change our perspective a little bit, it’s amazing how much we have. For example, look here to see how you stack up against the rest of the world.

The real point is that there are always things we can be thankful for, and focusing on those puts us in a much better position for pretty much everything in our lives. Thinking specifically about job search, we know that we are hired because we can help some company or person, not because we need a job. Well, how do we help, if our focus is only on what we need?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Seattle Times Article

Looks like an article that has been worked on for the last several months will finally appear this weekend!  Check out Sunday's Pacific Magazine in the Seattle Times.  It's sad in a lot of ways, because there is a human toll and the author documents that.  The reality is that NFJS is in the business of selling hope, no matter the environment, so we're a lot more positive than the article, but being featured is very flattering.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Guidelins for an Elevator Pitch

One of my clients recently asked me for guidelines for the development of an elevator pitch. I had gone through them with her orally, but she’s one of those that likes stuff written down, and I hadn’t written it down. Our version of an elevator pitch is one of those things that has evolved over time. Having read about them a great deal, there were portions of many of them that are strong, but none of them fit our goals. I actually wrote about this in March of ’09 and while what we were working on then is similar to where we are now, our concept of this is much more clear.

The key to this version of the pitch is recognition that a "network" is not some foreign thing that people go and "get" when they need help. Your network is actually your current suite of friends and acquaintances. The people you do Yoga with, go to Church with, play music with, etc. Your work network does focus more on, well, .. work. :) That doesn't mean you should start hanging out with creeps because they might get you ahead, just that there is an awareness of work items when building this group of friends (the same as there was a bias of same age children when our kids were young).

We mostly see networking as a “pay it forward” process. In other words, we interact with our network by focusing on how we can help others. As that happens, people normally want to help us as well, so the pitch should be sufficiently clear to provide direction, but should never de-rail the conversation or work being done.

Given that our fist goal is to help others, it is reasonable to assume than when we state our pitch we are talking with people who are predisposed to helping us and who have enough experience with us so they know we are in fact reasonably competent and conscientious. When we talk with these folks, they want to help, mostly they don't know how. So our pitch is aimed at giving them direction. We aren't trying to prove something, nor are we explaining, nor are we introducing ourselves, we are just giving them some direction. We are letting them know how they can help. We also don't want to get stuck talking about things that aren't especially relevant to whatever activity is going on, be it church or whatever.

With that as background, an elevator pitch should be:
  • short (15 to 30 seconds)
  • direct
  • clear
  • jargon free
  • include elements of you that separate you from the competition.
  • flexible
My pitch goes something like this, “My name is Steve Paul, I’m a career coach: Founder and Director of Notes from the Job Search. I have had the honor of helping people identify the job of their dreams and then get it. Even in a down market.”

In real life, I almost never quote it completely, but I will use pretty much every element which are: 
  1. Name. This is the most frequently dropped portion. I don’t introduce myself to people who already know me. 
  2. Professional Role. This is the most likely part to be stated, it states how I work and gives people an idea of how I can help them and/or their friends 
  3. Introduces Notes from the Job Search. This is an extension of my role and increases the number of ways I can help. It’s very likely to be included.
  4. What makes me (and NFJS) special. This part is included when I think there is an audience for it, which is probably just half of the time.
So that’s it.




Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tuning Linkedin

Recently I ran into a really terrific video focusing on how a recruiter should use LinkedIn. This video is a blog post on The author is Glen Cathey who at least at the time this video was made was VP of Recruiting for KForce, and this is very clearly intended for KForce’srecruiting staff. This video is a whole five minutes long, so without overthinking it, this is great for job seekers as well.

So what is the magic? What does Mr.Cathey teach his troops?

There are (of course) several points to extract:
  • When we have worked on tuning our profiles so we can be found, we have been somewhat mystified  by the order of who is actually returned—why am I on page two when yesterday I was on page one?. A minor part of his presentation explains it. The default is a combination of “key word” and “connections”. He doesn’t go into the full equation and he tells us how to change it, but it starts with the combination that LinkedIn labels “Relevance”.
  •  He tells his workers how to develop complex searches, which translates to us as needing to tune our profiles beyond a single word.

So what do we take out of this as job seekers? The most important thing is understanding the recruiter’s point of view and not just when we build our profile in LinkedIn. In this context, LinkedIn represents any resume database and if we are to be found any of them, then we need to make it easy.

NFJS is committed to custom resume’s for every job applied for, and this is probably the most elegant argument I have seen as to why. Recruiting databases, whether it be LinkedIn or some custom DB created internally, Microsoft or GE or Apple provide recruiters the capability of identifying a pretty specific set of skills. If we are going to find the job we want and our tool is online applications, then we need to thread that needle.