Find Your Next Job Through a Different Kind of Networking

November 28, 2009

How many times have you heard that “networking” is the only way to find a job in this economy. Or that 70% of the people who are getting hired found the opportunity by “networking?” So how does this work?

Many people think of networking like a bad Seinfeld episode – obnoxious people cornering some poor guy, like George, at a party and going on and on about their great job, their sky rocketing career, their wonderful life, and, “Oh, yeah – what did you say you do?”

Maybe if people had a few simple tools in those situations, it could actually be fun. Like a simple 3 part script: (1) Hi, I’m George Costanza and (2) I enjoy helping companies see their projects completed on time and under budget, and (3) have a good time doing it!”

Or for those that are uncomfortable in social settings like this, networking also includes one on one meetings over coffee, using social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook to find someone who may know someone at your target company.

In fact, this is a very effective way to get in front of a hiring manager: Identify the company you want to work for, identify the types of positions you would like to have, then if there is a position (or similar type job) posted on their website, now the fun begins.

Use the Companies feature in LinkedIn and you’ll see people in your network who may work there or have worked there. More likely there will be people who are 2nd or 3rd degree connections. By clicking on them, you’ll see who in your network is connected to them.

Then, call or email them and ask for an introduction to the person you want to meet. You’ll be surprised at how helpful people in your network are – even if you are not close to them.

Now, they have introduced you to someone who can possibly help you – offer to buy them coffee at Starbucks or at a place of their choosing and get to know them with a series of simple, but powerful questions (more on that at a later time.)

What’s the worst that can happen by doing this? You may not get any introductions – you’re no worse off than you are now, but at least you’ve taken some action. Or, you may have gotten the introduction, but no response from the target person. Again, no worse off, but at a later date, the target person may remember your reaching out.

And how hard is any of this? Do you think you can try this kind of networking? It may just land you your next dream job.

For a very concrete example of how this type of networking works, read this post from WSJ’s Laid Off and Looking blog.

JP Headshot1JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. He is also a career and financial coach, has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations, most recently helping those in transition. His philosophy is to help others be more successful and to enjoy the benefits of meeting new people.

JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile

11 Random Thoughts – from Thom Singer

November 25, 2009

Here’s some quick food for thought on breaking out of an unproductive cycle – whether professional or personal. From Thom Singer’s blog Some Assembly Required.

Enjoy… and Happy Thanksgiving!

1. If nobody knows you exist, opportunities will not come your way.

2. When you do not partner with others, they will not bring you into projects.

3. People who always spin excuses are passed over for future deals.

4. Spend too much time thinking others are trying to take advantage of you, and you will miss out on many paths to success.

5. Forget to thank the ones who helped you succeed and you will kill your golden goose (those who helped you before will help you again if they feel appreciated).

6. Try to be like everyone else and you will become a commodity (commodities are always purchased from the lowest priced provider).

7. Compare yourself to peers and someone will always be doing better.

8. Live a life that is a lie and you are a fraud (frauds always exposed).

9. Claim you are too busy to invest in relationships and you will be alone.

10. Have no goals and you will have no way of knowing what is a victory.

11. Success takes time. 100% of those who quit never reach their goal.

Have A Great Day


JP Headshot1JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. He is also a career and financial coach, has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations, most recently helping those in transition. His philosophy is to help others be more successful and to enjoy the benefits of meeting new people.

JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile

What Are You Doing To Stay Sharp?

November 23, 2009

We all know the recession is over, right? The media announced that some weeks ago. But we also know this is like no other recession in most of our lifetimes – in fact, the job landscape may never return to the way it was. The days of starting with one company and retiring from that same company are pretty much gone.

If we believe that the recovery will be slow and lasting much longer than in the past (and we do), then the short term looks a lot like contract and temp work. Many people are looking at these types of employment, hoping they will lead to full time work. Others are re-tooling in a different way.

I’ve heard many talk of the renewable energy sector as the holy grail for new jobs, and it may indeed create new careers. Some are trying to learn as much as they can about the industry (solar, wind, biomass, etc.) and transfer their skills from other industries. Still others are taking this time to learn entirely new skills.

I have a friend who retired a few years ago from a major tech company. He has a PhD. in Engineering. He is now in a program at UC Berkeley learning a totally new discipline and is looking to share his new learnings with others in a paid or volunteer capacity.

Still others are starting side businesses – many as infopreneurs – learning how to use social media for their new businesses. Learning these skills will most likely help them in whatever new jobs or careers they find when the recovery takes hold.

Here’s an example of one such individual from the WSJ’s blog, Laid Off and Looking.

What are you doing to learn new skills, keep the ones you have sharp and apply them?

JP Headshot1JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. He is also a career and financial coach, has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations, most recently helping those in transition. His philosophy is to help others be more successful and to enjoy the benefits of meeting new people.

JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile

Weekly Roundup of Top 3 Search Tips

November 20, 2009

It’s Friday and time for the the top 3 job search tips I’ve found from the scores of blog posts I see and pass along. Also, I will be looking for your votes on which is your favorite. Feel free to forward this link to your friends in transition.

1. My first choice is related to a recent one I wrote on Know What You Want. Here Nance Rosen takes the next step (and the hard work) to putting into words what it is we want. Here’s an excerpt:

If You Can Say It, You Can Live It

* By: Nance Rosen on November 17th, 2009 at 5:15 am
* In Networking, People, Personal Branding, Success Strategies | 3 Comments

If you can’t tell people what you do, then you won’t be doing it much longer. If you can’t articulate what you want to do, then you won’t ever be doing it. But, if you can – well, I found out you are one in about 150 people who can complete this sentence:

I am: ______________________ .
On Sunday I spoke to an audience at an event sponsored by the LA Urban Beauty Connection, supporting two philanthropies and drawing a cool, professional crowd that came out to hear experts present on the latest trends in fashion, technology and business. My topic was The Real Secret to Success in Careers and Business, How to Stay Up in a Down Economy. Of course, I was there to talk about personal branding.
Personal branding foundational work.

Typically, I stand on a stage and talk at people (it’s more exciting than that, but basically I’m the show until Q&A or the workshop portion of my personal branding presentations). But, this forum was much more “theater in the round.” I was given the opportunity to do interactive, live coaching for people who had considered but never really hunkered down to do the foundational work of personal branding.

So, I opened with my signature line: “Everyday you have the opportunity to say the one thing that will change your life. I guarantee by the time we’re done today, you’ll know what to say, and where and when to say it.”

Five statement in the personal branding process

What a great way to spend a Sunday, I thought. It was like magnifying the coaching that I do with one person, but having all these people learn from process. I started as planned, by picking one person, but when she seemed a little lost, I move to another. I wound up challenging five people in the audience to complete these 5 statements that are requisite for the personal branding process:

1. I am:
2. I excel at:
3. I do this via these methods/approaches/tactics:
4. Here’s an example:
5. Here’s what I’d like to do more of:

Obviously, I want the answers you’d give in a business setting, or at least an environment that would make an impression on people attending an event like the one we were at. This is a networking opportunity. This is when you’re going to meet strangers; people whom you suspect are candidates for developing valuable relationships. If you do nothing else: you’ve got to have a crisp, clear and compelling way of communicating what you do, how you do it, and what you’d like to do more of (or what you like to do that is a departure from what you’ve got going on now).
Read here for the rest of the article.

2. Next Up – From WSJ’s Laid Off and Looking Blog, an interesting alternative to the search titled:
Postponing the Full-Time Search for a Contract Assignment

By Geoff Hibner

Geoff Hibner lost his job in 2007 after working as the CFO of Banta Corp. The entire executive team was let go when the company was sold. Previously, he was an independent consultant as well as a senior vice president and CFO at The Timberland Co. Mr. Hibner earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1977. He lives with his wife in Neenah, Wis. and has two adult children.

Geoff HibnerIt’s been a number of weeks since I last posted to this blog. I’ve been really busy. Not busy making contacts, that could lead to my next full-time job; instead, I’ve been really busy working as a consultant.

In several of my earlier postings I mentioned making a contact while interviewing for a certain CFO position. Although that introduction was too late for me to be considered for the CFO position, it did lead to the CEO of that company deciding he wanted to meet me to discuss other possibilities. To make a long and complicated story shorter, a series of discussions led to a full-time corporate strategy and financing consulting assignment that began in late August.

The assignment is extremely interesting. I work with solid and dedicated people, and the compensation is good. But, I’m away from home from Monday morning until Friday night, working 55 to 60 hours a week (I’m paid by the week, not the hour), and have little time for activities which might lead to another full-time position.

I’m certainly not complaining. I made the decision to take on this assignment knowing that it would affect my job search activities. I didn’t expect to work quite so many hours per week, but it can’t be helped when there are deadlines to be met.

This assignment could stretch out for several more months, or it could end within the next few weeks. There could be other projects when this one is completed. Even if the opportunity exists to remain in a consulting role for months to come, I’ll really need to decide soon if continuing as I have been is in my longer-term best interests. Some readers will say that to have a full-time position, even as a consultant, in these tough economic times is to be in a great position and that I should continue to devote all my energy to creating value for the company so that there will be follow-on projects. Other readers will observe that consulting positions are often the first to go if a company decides it must cut expenses; even if the position has been created to address a very specific, time-sensitive issue (as mine was), and they’ll insist that I need to somehow find the time to continue my job search. Both will be valid comments and I’ll need to decide sometime soon which way to lean.

Readers, are you postponing your full-time search to keep up with a less-stable contract position? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

3. My last choice today is from Meg Giuseppi and reports on some things you probably already knew but now have statistics on the generation born between 1946 and 1960…

Boomer Career Trends: The Graying of America’s Work Force

By Meg Guiseppi | November 20, 2009

We’ve all been hearing lately that boomers are staying in the workforce longer because their retirement accounts took such a hit recently, and that we can expect the trend to continue well after the economy recovers.

According to one government estimate, 93% of the growth in the U.S. labor force from 2006 to 2016 will be among 55 and older workers.

But you may be surprised to know that the majority of those over 55 stay at work beyond retirement age because they want to stay active into their later years, not because they need the money.

According to a September 2009 nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project:

“A majority (54%) of workers ages 65 and older say the main reason they work is that they want to. Just 17% say the main reason is that they need the paycheck. An additional 27% say they’re motivated by a mix of desire and need.”

The reasons older workers gave included:

* “to feel useful”
* “to give myself something to do”
* “to be with other people”

Conversely, younger adults are staying out of the workforce longer.

Of Americans aged 16 to 24, 57% are in the labor force today, compared to 66% in 2000.

Two factors impacting the youngest working group:

* Instead of diving into full time jobs, they’re getting a college education under their belts to get ahead, and
* Discouraged by dwindling opportunities in this economy, they’re dropping out of the job market entirely.

The Pew report is based on analysis of long-term trends in survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Pew Research’s own survey of a representative national sample of 1,815 people ages 16 and older conducted from July 20 to Aug. 2, 2009.

Other key findings:

* Security trumps salary.
* Despite tough times, job satisfaction remains high.
* Older workers are the happiest workers.
* Retirement is not always voluntary.
* Even so, retirement gets high marks.
* The public is skeptical about full-time working moms.
* Most working moms would rather have a part-time job.

You can grab the full report here: Recession Turns a Graying Office Grayer.

JP Headshot1JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. He is also a career and financial coach, has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations, most recently helping those in transition. His philosophy is to help others be more successful and to enjoy the benefits of meeting new people.

JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile

Know What You Want

November 18, 2009

Remember that big term project you slaved over for days or weeks in school? You were focused! You had to do the most thorough job, researching, contacting companies, people and maybe even staying up all night before it was due, pulling it all together. For what? A grade, right? The satisfaction of doing the best you could and maybe getting an “A”?

Have you put that type of effort into your job search?

I meet people, recently laid off, and ask them what they want to do next. I often get “well, I can do sales, or operations, or project management. Oh, any company will do.”

Good luck with that. People can’t help you when you’re that general.

I spoke with someone yesterday who knew exactly what he wanted to do next and he identified the 4 companies that he’s targeting. I was able to go into LinkedIn and immediately find people I could introduce him to. He’s doing that with everyone in his network, and starting to get interviews.

Being laser focused on what you want makes all the difference in your search. Instead of fishing and hoping a fish will swim by and see your bait, you are now hunting – armed with knowledge of your “prey”: who the hiring manager is, where they went to school, who’s worked for them, what the culture is like, and most important – what problem they have that you can solve.

In addition, your focus and knowledge gives you the confidence that you will get that position. And with that confidence and knowledge, you probably will get it.

That’s a bit better that getting an “A”, isn’t it?

What are you doing to put that kind of focus into your search? Share your ideas and successes here.

By the way – Career Coach Megan Pittsley writes a Job Search column for The Examiner and is looking for success stories of finding jobs through your Success Teams. If you have one, let her know at

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A Personal Branding Tale – Part 3

November 16, 2009

This is the third of Chad Levitt’s posts that tell the story of the job seeker who’s hired mainly because of his blogging and views on his industry (and now company). In the last post, he was promoted. Now we see what this star employee is doing a year later…

A Personal Branding Tale Part 3
from Personal Branding Blog – Dan Schawbel by Chad Levitt

You have been in your new role after being promoted for close to one year – you have done an excellent job and executed on all tasks. As a result of your leadership your team has exceeded expectations.

You have even managed to keep up with your blogging – you are well known around the company because many of your colleagues read your blog.

While there have been the occasional naysayers you have dealt with it by ignoring the negativity and focusing on the positive. It has worked so far.

Through your blogging activities and social networking you have created a reputation as a thought leader in your field. You are respected both within and outside the walls of your company.

You have written a few articles for trade magazines and have even been interviewed by other bloggers that thought your ideas would be valuable content for their readers.

You have more job security than most people because of your performance at the company – but mostly because you have developed and nurtured a powerful social network safety net. If something were to happen and you lost your job – you have a strong network to help you.

Other mid to high-level managers have reached out to you from different departments of your company and asked for your advice. You have more relationships than most of your colleagues at your company.

Through your relationships at the company and solid performance you maintain a high level of influence at the company. Your colleagues listen to you.

Then early one morning you are sitting in your office and your phone rings – you are surprised that the person on he other end works for your biggest competitor. They have heard about you through your personal brand and would like to meet with you.

After a few meetings (on your time) this competitor of yours makes a very compelling offer – you have a very big decision to make.

You decide to meet with your boss and talk things over to see if they are willing to match or exceed the offer being made to you by your competitor.

After a few meetings your company decides to meet the offer being made by your competitor – you gladly accept.

Your personal brand just helped you receive a raise and a few more benefits at your company.

Personal brands have value – how much is yours worth?

Chad Levitt is the author of the New Sales Economy blog, which focuses on how Sales 2.0 & Social Media can help you connect, create more opportunities and increase your business. Chad is also the featured Sales 2.0 blogger at, the number one web portal for sales pros, the professional athletes of the business world. Make sure to connect with him on Twitter @chadalevitt.

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Weekly Roundup of Top 3 Job Search Tips

November 13, 2009

Each Friday, I’ll be posting the top 3 job search tips I’ve found from the scores of blog posts I see and will pass them along. Also, I will be looking for your votes on which is your favorite. Feel free to forward this link to your friends in transition.


So, here are my top three this week:

Meg Giuseppi’s blog Executive Resume Branding has the The 20 Most Common LinkedIn Mistakes

Here’s an excerpt:

You probably know by now that LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool for personal branding and executive job search.

In case you don’t, get busy immediately building your branded profile, connecting with people, expressing your executive brand, and leveraging LinkedIn to full advantage.

But don’t make these 20 mistakes:


1.  Not personalizing your LinkedIn public profile URL.
Many people leave the default mess of letters and numbers at the end of the URL. Change that to “yourname” or as close to it as you can come, as I did with mine –

2.  Not including a photo.
Branding and career marketing are about creating emotional connections. People believe content more when it’s accompanied by the author’s photo. An online profile with no photo is a missed opportunity to reinforce your brand and engage people.

3.  Not adding links to websites or web pages.
Include links to your website, blog, VisualCV, Twitter or other online profiles, so people can get more on-brand information about you and see what else you’re up to.

4.  Not having a searchable professional headline that brands your unique promise of value and resonates with your target audience.
Make sure your relevant key word phrases show up in your headline so that recruiters and hiring decision makers sourcing top candidates by searching LinkedIn will find you.

5.  Having no (or only 1 or 2) recommendations.
Solicit recommendations that reinforce your brand and the best you have to offer.

For the 15 other tips and rest of her post, click here.

Next is Dawn Jordan’s post in the Wall Street Journal’s Blog, Laid Off and Looking – authored by a series of guest bloggers describing their job search efforts and thoughts. Here’s her post in it’s entirety:

Last week a friend told me about the most unlikely place he found a job. It was during his child’s swim meet when a fellow parent casually asked what he did and where he worked. That impromptu poolside conversation turned into a new job for my friend.

His story segued into a conversation on unconventional sources for job leads. It also motivated me to try something different. Since then I’ve been asking people “What was the most unlikely place you found a job?”

They’ve answered with stories ranging from encounters during dog walks to waiting in line at Starbucks. Some of the stories were about situations in which I’m unlikely to find myself. But even those answers produced three tangible benefits.

First, it put people at ease. I wasn’t asking for a favor. I was showing an interest in them, giving them an opportunity to talk about themselves. This two-way sharing generated a stronger connection than my usual approach ever had.

Second, the question fired up their creative thinking. It got them out of the passive listener role and most of their answers were interesting and helpful. Before I could even ask, most offered additional suggestions about professional organizations, job boards or, best of all, names of people they would contact for me.

Here is the real gem in all of this. Asking people about their own experiences evoked empathy, support and action. They instantly remembered their own anxiety during their job search. It elicited a quicker, stronger, and warmer response than I’ve experienced before.

The takeaway of this experiment is the optimistic reminder that I never know when or where opportunity may strike. The real challenge might be recognizing it.

Fianlly, I love this post from Seth Godin, Hammer time

While not specifically about job search, his lessons on our background and our filters and biases point out how we need to adapt to changing situations. Amen.

Hammer time

So, if it’s true that to a person with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, the really useful question is, “what sort of hammer do you have?”

At big TV networks, they have a TV hammer. At a surgeon’s office, they have the scalpel hammer. A drug counselor has the talk hammer, while a judge probably has the jail hammer.

Maybe it’s time for a new hammer…

One study found that when confronted with a patient with back pain, surgeons prescribed surgery, physical therapists thought that therapy was indicated and yes, acupuncturists were sure needles were the answer. Across the entire universe of patients, the single largest indicator of treatment wasn’t symptoms or patient background, it was the background of the doctor.

When the market changes, you may be seeing all the new opportunities and problems the wrong way because of the solutions you’re used to. The reason so many organizations have trouble using social media is that they are using precisely the wrong hammer. And odds are, they will continue to do so until their organization fails. PR firms try to use the new tools to send press releases, because, you guessed it, that’s their hammer.

It’s not just about new vs. old. Inveterate community-focused social media mavens often bring that particular hammer to other venues. So they crowdsource keynote speeches or restaurants or board meetings and can’t figure out why they don’t have the impact others do.

The best way to find the right tool for the job is to learn to be good at switching hammers.

Which is your favorite?
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Using Twitter to Land a Job? Here’s an Example

November 12, 2009

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Trace Cohen runs a Personal Branding group on Brazen Careerist and has an excellent blog on the same topic. As an advocate for using social media to promote yourself, he has a recent example of someone (Hans Mestrum) who landed a job using Twitter. Hans had been using many social media tools and has been running a blog for the past five years, so by tweeting that he was looking for a job, one of his followers and blog subscriber happened to be the dean of a school – read the interview with Hans for the rest of the story!

I’ve been wondering how people are using Twitter in their job search – I understand how the new generation (read “young”) of HR managers and recruiters are using LinkedIn, Facebook and now Twitter to find candidates, but was still unclear how a job seeker might use Twitter.
How have you been using social media in your search? Any success stories out there?

How to Nail an Interview – 20 Tips – Hilarious!

November 11, 2009

JP Headshot1

Steinar Skipsness created a fake office so he could understand how to succeed in job interviews. He filmed the whole thing, and the funny results led to 20 great job interview tips that are true anywhere in the world.
If you don’t mind watching a few videos of actual interviews of what NOT to do, click on this link. Excellent tips and some unfortunate humor along the way…

Personal Branding Tale – Part 2

November 9, 2009

JP Headshot1

Here’s Chad Levitt’s follow up to the Personal Branding Tale a few days ago… this time it’s focused on getting promoted, or continuing to stand out once you have been hired and making yourself indispensable. Many people succeed in getting hired, but then don’t last a year because they didn’t continue the networking within their new company and therefore became expendable when times got tough.

Chad’s stories are powerful reminders that we must always be finding ways to add value whatever it is we do.


You have been working at your new job for six months and you are really enjoying being with this company. The job challenges you and you have responded to every challenge so far.

You have created a reputation for yourself with your co-workers as reliable, consistent and accountable. You have shown the ability to think strategically and have executed on all tasks that have been given to you.

Because of your solid reputation, you were recently asked to work on a new project that will have manager level exposure and help determine the future vision for the company. You will have a very minor role and it will require long hours but you gladly accept the offer to be on the project.

As you work on the new project with the different members of the team you being to add them to your LinkedIn network and soon others at the company are finding you on LinkedIn too.

Then one evening while working on some last minute action items a colleague of yours sits down in your cube and says, “I’m really enjoying your blog – keep up the great work”.

You are blown away because you have not told anybody about your blog. You ask how your colleague came across your blog and she says I clicked the link on your LinkedIn profile. You say thanks for reading and continue with your work.

Over the next few months more of your colleagues begin to comment on your blogging and slowly but surely your ideas are spreading through different circles of influence at the company.

Then one morning you get into the office quite early to hammer out a few pending items that need to be submitted by the close of business today.

You open up Outlook and begin checking your email – one email catches your eye because of who sent it. It is the boss of Mrs. I’m Hiring who originally hired you for the job and she would like to meet with you next week.

You of course accept the invitation.

You show up for your meeting with Mr. I’m Promoting dressed for success and more then a little curious. Mr. I’m Promoting invites you to sit down and lets you know he was told about your blog and that he has enjoyed your vision on certain topics of interest to him.

You and Mr. I’m Promoting hit it off great and the meeting goes for a solid hour. Before heading back to your desk Mr. I’m Promoting lets you know that a new position is opening up and asks if you would be interested in interviewing for the opportunity.

You of course say yes.

he interview process kicks off and despite the other two candidates having more experience you are selected for the new opportunity.

Mr. I’m Promoting lets you know that your work at the company so far combined with your great ideas on your blog make you a perfect fit for the new opportunity. Mr. I’m Promoting gives you his vote of confidence and only asks that you execute on your ideas and over communicate with him.

You look him in the eyes, shake his hand firmly and head for your new office on a career path filled with opportunity and potential – as long as you execute.

Go execute.


Chad Levitt is the author of the New Sales Economy blog, which focuses on how Sales 2.0 & Social Media can help you connect, create more opportunities and increase your business. Chad is also the featured Sales 2.0 blogger at, the number one web portal for sales pros, the professional athletes of the business world. Make sure to connect with him on Twitter @chadalevitt.