Weekly Top 3 Job Search Tips

March 8, 2010

So the recovery sputters along, but the jobs are lagging. There are some signs of large companies in the Bay Area starting to ramp up after a couple of years of downsizing and freezes. In particular, Cisco and PG&E have announced that they are hiring. Look for other large companies to slowly start making offers as well.

Here are the top 3 job search posts from the past week. Enjoy!

First up this week is from Interns Over 40 and a very timely 10 Simple Ideas to keep your resume out of the Black Hole.
Here’s an excerpt:
Whatever Happened to my Resume?
Astronomers define a black hole as a region of space from which nothing, including light, can escape. I have often heard job seekers refer to the application process as a “black hole where resumes go, never to be heard from again”.
Here are some simple ideas to keep your resume out of the black hole:
1. Apply only to those jobs where you possess 85% or more of the requirements
2. Customize each resume to include every key word that is mentioned in the job description
3. Develop a headline that provides a “wow factor”, uniquely defining your area of expertise
4. Create 3 or 4 key sentences at the top of your resume to highlight your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
5. Focus on promotions, results and direct contributions, not responsibilities and tasks

For the entire article, click here.

Next up is from the WSJ’s Laid off and Looking blog and After 16 Months, Finally Starting a New Position.
Last Monday I was (finally) offered a job. A good friend recommended me for a position that was never advertised. A couple of interviews later, I am back among the employed.

As far as I can tell, there is nothing remarkable about this position. Other jobs that I had applied for were closer fits for my experience, and I had gotten recommendations for similar positions from friends and business acquaintances. At the time, I was interviewing for two other jobs, which was more interest than I had received during the previous 14 months. I don’t think that market conditions had improved, the positions were not related, I hadn’t recently changed my resume or approach, and it didn’t feel like Divine intervention. It was simply my time.

I never thought it would take as long as it did to find a job. Months of networking, internet job board searching, resume matching, applying, calling, emailing, waiting and hoping were dreadful. I was shocked at the lack of respect potential employers had for me as a job seeker, as 90% of my applications were never given the simple courtesy of a response. Employers seemed unconcerned about the quality of their applicants, as almost none even asked for my references let alone checked them out. I have no idea how they evaluate things like work ethic and leadership skills from a resume, often not even written by the applicant but by a professional resume writer. It seemed that aligning with internal Applicant Tracking Systems was much more important.

I also had many positive experiences. Networking put me back in touch with friends and business acquaintances I hadn’t talked with in years. My family and I have never been closer — I spent time with my wife and kids that I will treasure forever. I got to pretend to be a writer for the WSJ. A few fix-it jobs around the house even got done. I learned about myself and take a new and improved attitude into my new job. I believe that I will be more helpful and understanding of others when they are unemployed or facing their own obstacles.

A total creature of habit, I still look at job openings every day. Instead of worrying about my future, I think about others who find themselves in the same place I was two weeks ago. My advice is to stay positive, level out the good times with the bad, protect your personal brand, nurture your professional entourage, and be patient. Your time will come, just as mine has.

Lastly, You Rock, from Seth Godin:

This is deceptive.

You don’t rock all the time. No one does. No one is a rock star, superstar, world-changing artist all the time. In fact, it’s a self-defeating goal. You can’t do it.

No, but you might rock five minutes a day.

Five minutes to write a blog post that changes everything, or five minutes to deliver an act of generosity that changes someone. Five minutes to invent a great new feature, or five minutes to teach a groundbreaking skill in a way that no one ever thought of before. Five minutes to tell the truth (or hear the truth).

Five minutes a day you might do exceptional work, remarkable work, work that matters. Five minutes a day you might defeat the lizard brain long enough to stand up and make a difference.

And five minutes of rocking would be enough, because it would be five minutes more than just about anyone else.
Which of these tips are you going to employ?

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF Examiner.com.

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF Examiner.com, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/jpmcdermott
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Weekly Top 3 Job Search Tips

February 21, 2010

This week has brought more positive economic news and the good news is that activity for job seekers is picking up: more job postings, more interviews, and a few offers. Not on the scale that will be significantly reducing the unemployment rate, but at least these past few weeks are positive signs.

Here are 3 of my favorite postings this week. Feel free to comment and offer your own tips here. First up is Matt Durfee’s 5 Resume Tips in Less then 5 minutes from an Expert. Here’s an excerpt:

Despite the claims and critiques of what seems to be an endless supply of so-called resume-writing experts, there simply is no universal “right way” to write a resume. Unsurprisingly, it is not uncommon to get confused given the contradictory advice you can expect from multiple sources. So while I have some very clear thoughts on how to write an effective and professional resume, ultimately you will need to decide what works for you, your situation and, ultimately, your comfort level. Even then, expect to continuously modify, update and edit your resume as you incorporate new or different styles, content and concepts. With that in mind, I’m offering the following suggestions I highly recommend for anyone writing and distributing a resume.

Professional Objective & Profile: One of the things I always want to see in a resume is the Professional Objective & Profile section just below the name and contact information. I call this the “billboard within the billboard” as it summarizes key information about the applicant in the already abbreviated format of the resume itself. Read here for the full post.

Next up is a post from Thom Singer’s great blog Some Assembly Required titled Getting Noticed.

You will probably recognize a theme here after you read this – giving back. Here’s an excerpt: There have been a lot of articles lately about how to get noticed by influencers, how to raise your value to those in your business community, and how to stand out from the crowd. Times have been tough and competition fierce, and people are looking for any edge to help them achieve more.

This is an important topic, and many mistakenly think the answer involves special skills, mysterious business plans, and a lot of luck.

The truth is, it is easy. Simple. I mean so simple it is nutty.

Help other people.

There, I said it. Help other people. But the key is you help them without expecting them to ever repay the favor. Just find out what is important in their life and be a resource that assists them in achieving their goals.

Think of your own life. If you are successful you probably have people who want to get on your calendar to “pick your brain”. Too many such calls and you feel you have no brain left. Thus you hide from all the calls from friends of friends who seek your counsel. But what about the person who refers you a new client? Will you meet with them? I bet you will. Read here for the rest.

Last but not least is Meg Giuseppi’s 5 Tactics to Land a Green Industry Executive Job from her Executive Career Brand blog.
This topic is very hot right now for those looking to change careers and looking for one with a strong future. Here’s an excerpt:

These days, the green industry is a tantalizing carrot dangling in front of people who are stagnating in jobs in anemic industries or finding diminishing opportunities while actively job-hunting within their niche.

Over this decade green jobs will open wide, as companies, organizations and all of us as individuals scramble to “go green”.
1. Identify need and opportunities.
Google relevant keywords to find resources, read relevant blogs, articles and white papers, and set up Google Alerts for relevant keywords. See my Brand-yourself.com post, Use Google Alerts to Amplify Your Executive Brand Visibility and Job Search.

2. Research companies to target and compile a list of 20-30 to work on penetrating.

Your research helps you with market intelligence and due diligence, and prepares you to intelligently communicate with decision makers at each company. See Job-Hunt’s list of 50+ Green Industry Employers.

* Go to each company’s website to find a wealth of information, such as Boards of Directors, C-suite company leadership, and news and press releases. These resources will arm you with market intelligence, help with due diligence, and position you as a well-informed candidate in interviews.
* Research and make a list of key decision makers at your companies of interest. You’ll then work on positioning yourself in front of them.
For more on this excellent job tip read here.

Which is your favorite tip?

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF Examiner.com.

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF Examiner.com, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/jpmcdermott
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East Bay Job Support Organizations – first in a series

February 5, 2010

The East Bay is blessed with several existing job networking support organizations committed to helping people find their next jobs. They serve people who have been frequent victims of layoffs over the years to the person who has been with their company for 25 years and now finds they have just been cast adrift and don’t know where to turn.

The first in this series about the various organizations highlights Walnut Creek’s Experience Unlimited, Experience Unlimited (EU) is a no-fee career resource center and job search networking group for business and technical professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area. EU is sponsored by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) and supported by EU volunteers.

It’s a well established group and expertly run by President Glen Zamanian with occasional help from past President Tony Friday. There is a representative from EDD to answer any questions from the members about current benefits, policies and changes with Unemployment insurance. Mainly, this Contra Costa Chapter is run completely by very helpful and knowledgeable volunteers.

Each week a speaker is featured to talk on various topics regarding being in transition. A recent topic was on financial survival tactics while in transition.

An interesting difference from some of the other groups is that membership in EU requires a minimum of 16 hours per month of attending meetings, joining committees, and volunteering, or giving back. There is a “give-to-get” focus, common in many of the other groups.

People who attend often find the experience very motivating and uplifting, especially when people tell of their success in landing a job and how they went about it. The exchange of ideas and strategies to find and get a resume in front of the hiring managers are creative and, even after an interview the position is not offered to them, their confidence level is much higher and willing to keep going and trying new ways to stand out.

The members are very welcoming to new people coming in and the support is unconditional. Long term friendships are often a result of this community of job seekers. Those who haven’t attended may find a new way to land their next job with a strong encouragement and safety net of this terrific organization.

* What: Experience Unlimited
* When: Tuesdays 9:00 – 9:30AM: Informal Networking, 9:30 – 12:00: General Meeting /Orientation & Speaker or Activity
* Where: 74 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek, CA 94596 – Congregation B’nai Shalom
* If You Go: Sign up as a new member so you can be introduced.
Next week: CPC Job Connections in Danville.

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF Examiner.com.

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF Examiner.com, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/jpmcdermott
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Know What You Want to Find Your Next Job – Tina Chang Did!

February 1, 2010

With the unemployment and underemployment rate over 17%, competition for the few jobs out there is brutal. But there are success stories. Here’s how Tina Chang landed her position as New Product Program Manager at Cisco.

Tina’s career began right out of college with an Industrial Engineering degree, working for HP as a Process Engineer. After a few years, she had the opportunity to use her degree with a group of other industrial engineers and worked for IBM for 6 years. She went back to HP for a few years working in PC Manufacturing as a Platform Manager.

Tina’s career continued to advance as she joined Quantum as a Production Planning Manager for their disk drives and was there for 8 years. A merger with Maxtor led to a layoff while on assignment overseas in Geneva. Tina had been considering a move into non-profits and the layoff gave her that chance at her church as Director of Family Assimilation.

She loved the work but after a year she realized that she longed for the management structure of a larger company. “I missed the analytical side of business in that role and when they assigned me to manage the budgets, I was thrilled to be using a spreadsheet again,” said Tina.

Here’s where Tina’s tenacity paid off. As the church was downsizing, Tina began telling her friends that not only was she looking for a new job, but what type of job, industry and company. From her actions, a friend emailed an executive at a medical equipment company on her behalf. This executive was also a member of the church and Tina knew his family.

Once the email was sent, Tina knew it was time to act. She contacted the executive, he introduced her to the VP of Manufacturing and she was hired. Tina was there for 5 years as Director, Manufacturing Program Management. In October, the company restructured and Tina was laid off.

After a few weeks of visiting friends and taking some time for herself, Tina got to work on planning her search. She says, “I didn’t even have a PC of my own in the beginning – I borrowed a friend’s and started spending time at the library so I could use their Wifi.”

She started working on her plan: With some help from the outplacement firm the medical equipment company provided, she got her resume set and learned how to best use the internet for her search. She reflected on what she loved doing and the type of company that could match her skills and experience. After going through the Best Companies to Work For lists, she identified her target companies.

“I wanted a large company with some infrastructure, one that was international – I love to travel! – , no start-ups, and a great manager to work for,” she added.

Then she started her spreadsheet. She tracked her target companies, who she knew who worked there, when she contacted them, who she sent resumes & letters to, who she met at Starbuck’s, etc.

“I would tell all my friends what I was looking for! Prayer helped give me the determination to keep going. Someone asked me if I got bored during my time off and I said are you kidding? I’m working 40 hours a week meeting people, spending time having tea and talking to others and following up on referrals from old colleagues and new friends I met.”

She said that LinkedIn was the most helpful website because she could look up all kinds of information once she focused on a company, especially contacts she could meet with to learn more about the opportunities and culture.

During her intense search, a friend from IBM and Quantum sent her job leads. Her friend gave Tina’s resume to the hiring manager just before Christmas. He met with her first, contacted her before the New Year and asked her to come in on the 4th for additional interviews. He made her a verbal offer the next day and she is now working at Cisco.

Total time in her search was a little over 3 months, very good in this market for that type of position.

When asked what single thing most helped her land her job, she said, ” I focused on what I wanted and told everyone I came into contact that. I believe that praying for what I wanted helped make it happen.”

What are you doing in your search to find your job? Please share your success stories here.

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF Examiner.com.

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF Examiner.com, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/jpmcdermott
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Weekly Top 3 Job Search Tips

January 31, 2010

Here are the top 3 posts I’ve selected for this week. Please feel free to comment or add your own posts.
First up is from the WSJ’s Laid Off and Looking blog by John Brownrigg on Mishaps During the Hiring Process. These are the things that could go wrong that did. You probably have a few stories of your own you could share here. Here’s an excerpt:

Recently, I have dealt with a few failing job prospects, where yet another “perfect fit” didn’t work out. I met a company’s internal recruiter at an airport, where he was going to rent a car and drive me to the office for my interview. When the rental car personnel ran his company credit card through the machine, it was rejected. Assuming a malfunction, she called the numbers in, but the card was still rejected. I’m not sure why I didn’t turn and run, but I stepped in and used my credit card to rent the car. The hiring manager seemed perplexed at my story, and the interview did not go well. The recruiter disappeared by the next day, the hiring manager reluctantly took a couple of calls but then also disappeared, my expenses were never paid, and I didn’t get the job.

Next is Meg Giuseppi’s post Never on Sunday, a reminder that we need to take a break now and then from the internet (yes, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, the job sites, all of it.) Here’s an excerpt:

When I recently visited my elderly, ultra tech-challenged father (he still has trouble with his answering machine – forget about him ever getting a computer), I brought along my netbook to see if I’d be able to pick up a signal at his house.

He marveled at how small my laptop was. “Is that a full computer?” he asked. I told him it was. We talked a bit about how far we’ve come with the Internet and technology.

He shook his head and asked, “Is the Internet open 24 hours a day”? Of course, I answered “yes”.

I think he was politely nudging me to put the thing aside while we were visiting. But did that little question of his ever hit home with me.

Finally, here’s a great blog for those over 40. It’s titled appropriately enough, Interns Over 40 and has some very useful tips. I’m including their weekly list of the top rated sites by their readers in this post.

01/22/10 Readers weekly choice of the Most Read Career Transition Articles. (or how to quickly find out the best of Internsover40).Grab a cup of coffee. Put on your favorite Weekend Tunes. We are giving you a chance to catch up on your weekly reading and viewing with a list of the most popular Stories on Interns over 40. These are the the top 4 stories that your peers have read this past week. Hope you find them valuable. We look forward to reading your comments.
1. Mistakes Older Job Seekers Make:http://internsover40.blogspot.com/2009/11/7-mistakes-job-seekers-over-50-make.html
2. Where are the Jobs in the Next Decade:http://internsover40.blogspot.com/2010/01/where-are-jobs-in-next-decade.html
3. Interview Questions and Answers For Older Worker: http://internsover40.blogspot.com/2009/10/8-interview-questions-answers-for-older_31.html
4. 10 Ways to Make Your Cover Letter Stand Out:http://internsover40.blogspot.com/2009/12/10-ways-to-make-your-cover-letter-stand_10.html
New Career Transition Tools:
Job Seekers: Post your Resume and Search for new careers or new industry:
http://ow.ly/ZwE7

Let me know which one of these you like best.

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF Examiner.com.

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF Examiner.com, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/jpmcdermott
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10 Tips for Job Hunting in a Tight Market

January 25, 2010

The following article is from by Kate Wendleton, President of The Five O’Clock Club.

The job market is shaky. Answering ads, and talking to search firms won’t set you apart from the competition. Remember, according to the JOLTS report, employers hired almost 4.2 million people in November, an increase of about 130,000 from the previous month. But the number of people who quit their jobs, were fired or were laid off rose to 4.3 million that month. This churn is in your favor. When people move around, as they are now, there’s room for you. A few simple guidelines can shorten your search time
by months, even in this market.

1. Expand your job-hunting targets. If you are searching only in Los Angeles or only in Detroit, for example, think of other geographic areas. If you are looking only in large public corporations, consider small or private companies or not-for-profits.

2. If you are looking for a certain kind of position, investigate what other kinds of work you also could do.

3. It takes an average of eight follow-up phone calls to get a meeting. After you have written or emailed someone asking for a meeting, do not leave messages for a person to call you back. Instead, keep on calling. If you’re still unsuccessful in reaching them, try calling the company operator and ask to speak to the person’s assistant or someone who sits near them. See people two levels higher than you are.

4. When you are in the initial stages of exploring a target area, contact people at your level to find out about that area and see how well your skills match up. But then you must contact people who are at a higher level than you are. They are the ones who
are in a position to hire you or recommend that you be hired.

5. A job hunter must have 6 to 10 job possibilities in the works concurrently. Five O’Clock Club research shows that five of those will fall away through no fault of your own. For example, a company could decide to hire no one, hire a marketing person instead of an accounting person, or hire their not-so-bright brother-in-law instead of you. It’s not your fault.

6. Job hunters who get small-group career coaching throughout their searches get more satisfying jobs faster and at higher rates of pay than those who search on their own, and also more quickly than those who work privately with a career coach throughout their searches. Job hunters learn from each other’s strategies, help each other and help motivate their comrades. The average résumé is reviewed for only 10 seconds.

7. Résumés should have a summary containing the most important accomplishments the job hunter wants the reader to know. “Thank you” notes after a job interview are ineffective. Instead a job hunter must influence the hiring manager, addressing the key issues discussed in the meeting.

8. Unemployed job hunters are not at a disadvantage. More than 78% of the unemployed job hunters who attended targeted group coaching got jobs that paid the same or more than their last jobs.

9. Think about developing new skills. If you suspect your old skills are out-of-date, develop new ones. If you can’t get a job because you don’t have the experience, get the experience. Join an association related to your new skill area.

10. Keep your spirits up. An alarming number of job hunters in the U.S. are
discouraged and dropping out of the job market. Don’t you be one of them.
Be aware that what you are going through is not easy, and that many of the
things you are experiencing are being experienced by just about everybody
else. Hang in there, get a fresh start, follow a proven methodology (www.FiveOClockClub.com), and eventually you will get something.

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF Examiner.com.

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF Examiner.com, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/jpmcdermott
JP Headshot1


How to Use Your College Alumni to Help Land a Job

January 24, 2010

Most colleges use social networks to stay informed and connect with each other – either via Facebook or LinkedIn or inCircle. In the San Francisco Bay Area, two local colleges use all of the above to connect with their alumni. St. Mary’s College and Santa Clara University use inCircle in addition to Facebook and LinkedIn. inCircle connects school alumni for networking, reconnecting and posting or browsing jobs.

Here’s what some savvy alums are doing to increase their chances that their resume will be seen by the hiring manager:

1. Find a job you are interested in that’s posted on a job board, LinkedIn, Craigslist or other local sites (see previous article on Where to find jobs in the SF Bay Area)

2. If your school uses inCircle or has a LinkedIn alumni group, search for alumni who work for the company.

3. Connect with the people who work there by inviting them to connect with you (both LinkedIn and iNCircle)

4. Once connected, let them know via email that you are interested in a position at their company and ask to meet for coffee to learn more about what it’s like to work there.

5. When you meet, and if they are agreeable, close by asking them if they would walk your cover letter and resume into the hiring manager’s office and let the hiring manager know that they are fellow alums and that the hiring manager should meet with you.

Most companies prefer to hire candidates recommended by their employees – in fact, many have incentive programs for employees who refer candidates. This is especially popular now as there are so many resumes coming in for posted jobs, having any kind of a warm referral is welcomed.

Give it a try – most alumni are more than willing to help another alum out – wouldn’t you?
By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF Examiner.com.

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF Examiner.com, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/jpmcdermott
JP Headshot1