Thursday, May 31, 2007

Great advice from HR bloggers

If you're looking for something to read while I'm on hiatus, check out these folks:

Ask A Manager: This is a new blog with just a few posts, but each post offers excellent advice. Of note is the post about cover letters. I had no idea that so many job seekers didn't write cover letters until a few weeks ago, when I began my HR career and saw the submissions for myself. Ask A Manager explains exactly why the cover letter is so important -- so write one.

Evil HR Lady: She's not really evil, but her advice cuts to the chase, which some people consider to be evil. She also explains why HR folks are often seen as being evil: because we make managers do their jobs (among other reasons). Her blog will teach you things you never knew about why bosses and companies behave the way they do.

Fortify Your Oasis: I'm not sure whether I agree with Rowan Manahan, but his posts provide plenty of food for thought. A recent post talks about the importance of the opening moments of an interview, which I had never thought about before. See what I said about food for thought?


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Brief blogging hiatus

I apologize for my absence from the blog recently. In the past few weeks, I've started two new jobs and signed a lease on a new apartment. I'm now in the middle of packing for the move, which happens next week -- and I'm trying to rest my back, which I injured last weekend. It's been an exciting month for me, to say the least, even with the back injury!

But something had to give (besides my back), and that was this blog.

I will resume blogging during the week of June 5. In the meantime, check out the resume resources and career blogs listed in the menu to the right. I particularly recommend Career Hub and the free e-books on job hunting, resume writing and interviewing that you can download from the site.

Happy reading!

Friday, May 11, 2007

5 million chances to network

Carl Chapman wants you to join his LinkedIn network.

The founder and main blogger at "Confessions of an Executive Restaurant Recruiter" has issued an open invitation to connect with him on LinkedIn.

It's an amazing opportunity, as he has close to 5 million people in his network. Joining his network will put you two degrees away from an untold number of recruiters and the positions they're looking to fill.

What I find interesting is not what Chapman is doing -- it's why. His reasoning speaks to why LinkedIn can be a powerful tool in your career arsenal.

"Connecting isn’t really about what you can do for me; in fact it isn’t about what I can do for you," Chapman wrote in his blog. "No, connecting is more about what we can all do for each other."

Chapman references a blog article by recruiter Shally Steckerl, about the benefits of building a deep network on LinkedIn. According to Steckerl, becoming a promiscuous linker will increase the value of your network for your first-degree contacts and help you make closer connections with your first-degree contacts.

There's a lot that I don't know about LinkedIn and how to use it to the fullest, and I'm hoping that access to Chapman's network will help me learn. His network can do the same for you. Making closer connections with your first-degree contacts will help you find the hidden job market, and joining Chapman's network might be one of the fastest ways to tap into the power of LinkedIn.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

On the Web: Tips and tricks

10 Dumbest Resume Blunders on Outrageous examples of what not to do. Ever!

10 Tips for Finding a New Job at This list covers all aspects of the job hunt, from knowing what you're looking for to interviewing to going through a background check to get the job. Great advice.

25 Most Difficult Job Interview Questions (and their answers) on Interviewing favors the prepared candidate, and this list will get you prepared.

5 Reasons to Send Thank You Letters After an Interview by Barbara Safani: Sending thank-you e-mails or letters to everyone you interview with will put you ahead of the pack. Job seekers often forget this simple step, so remembering it will make you stand out.

Tips for Writing Thank You Letters from This list provides several resources for jump-starting your thank-you notes.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Lying on a resume: Just don't do it

As children, we're told that lying is bad. Maybe we get caught in a lie by our parents or teachers and we get punished. Many people grow up with the reminder of the punishment and lying -- aside from little white lies such as "Yes, that hair color looks fantastic!" -- is something that most people would never, ever do.

But there are plenty of people who do lie. Every few years, someone gets caught in a lie by the nation's press, and we're reminded again that lying is bad. Think of disgraced "journalists" Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass and Janet Cooke, who actually won a Pulitzer Prize before her story was found to be a hoax. Martha Stewart, the folks who ran Enron, and Scooter Libby over at the White House are all recent examples of the consequences of lying.

Yet the lying continues.

The most recent example of lying to get ahead is Marilee Jones, a dean at MIT who resigned from her position when it was discovered that she had lied about her credentials to work at the university.

Aside from losing her job, Jones has lost something much more important: Her good name. Her brand, if you will. She'll never be able to apply for a job again without this following her.

If you lie on your resume, you most likely will not be exposed in major national publications. But you'll suffer the same fate that Jones will -- getting another job will be difficult. While former employers are legally not allowed to destroy your reputation when your job history is checked by a potential employer, it is possible to imply the circumstances around your departure without saying anything that violates the law.

So don't lie on your resume. Ever. Don't even embellish "just a little bit." Your resume is the document that represents you, and its integrity reflects your integrity. State your accomplishments, but don't overinflate your achievements. Don't make up statistics to prove your worth. Sell yourself as you truly are, and employers will respond in kind.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Looking for jobs in new places

The easiest places for job hunters to begin their searches are the classified ads -- either in printed publications such as newspapers or trade magazines, or on online job boards such as Monster, CareerBuilder, or Yahoo's Hot Jobs. In the last year or so, Craigslist has become a hot spot for help wanted ads as well. And there are many online job boards that cater to specific fields, such as for journalists and for the tech field.

These resources will get your job hunt off to a solid start. But they are by no means the only resources that you should rely on to help you find a job. In addition to using your network, you'll need to do some research to find out who is hiring.

Many companies have taken to advertising open positions on the "Careers" pages of their Web sites, and not anywhere else. This way, they are guaranteed that job candidates will be familiar with their history, mission statements, products, and anything else that can be read on the Web site. While this is great for the companies, it means that you'll need to invest some time into finding companies in your area that offer the types of jobs you're looking for.

To get started, try these research methods:

1. Check the archives of your local newspaper. Or better yet, get a subscription and read the paper every day. You'll find news about local businesses in several of the paper's sections, and reading the paper regularly will familiarize you with local hiring trends and business growth. Here in Richmond, the local newspaper publishes several annual features that you can use to find hot area businesses. Check out the Richmond Times-Dispatch's list of the area's Top 50 employers and the fastest-growing Rising 25 businesses. These lists area great resources, because these companies are most likely to be hiring and relying on word-of-mouth advertising to find new employees.

2. The Yellow Pages. Believe it or not, traditional phone books can be great job-hunting tools, particularly for career changers and college grads. Look up your field, or topics related to your field, in the Yellow Pages to find local companies that can use your skills. Then use the Internet to research the companies and find out whether they're hiring.

3. Head to the library. The reference librarians at your local library should be able to supply you with tools to help you with your local job hunt -- it's among the services that they offer.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Finding the hidden job market

A nonprofit executive in Richmond once told me that employers do everything they can to fill open positions without posting a "help wanted" ad.

Employers want to hire people they know, or at least people known by employees (who are known quantities and presumably won't recommend someone who would reflect badly upon themselves). It's expensive to hire and train a new employee, and employers want to make sure that money isn't wasted. They want the closest thing they can get to a guarantee that the new hire will fit into the workplace and stay for a decent length of time. Publishing "help wanted" ads and interviewing unknown candidates is the least efficient way for companies to achieve their goals.

"You can't tell enough about a job candidate by reading a resume and conducting a 15-minute interview," the nonprofit executive told me.

This means that the majority of available jobs are not publicized before they are filled -- they make up the hidden job market. If you want a job, you'll need to find a way to tap into it.

This can be a challenge for new graduates. Unless you've had an internship, you may not have any contacts in the field you wish to break into. But don't panic -- you probably know people who know people who can help you.

"Networking" is the fancy term for befriending people who can help you along in your career. Asking friends, family and business contacts to help with your job search is also called "networking," as in, using your network (which is why you have it). It takes courage to ask for help the first few times, but it will get easier as more people agree to help you. And they will say yes; anyone who has looked for a job knows the importance of personal recommendations. It's about karma, at least a little, because what goes around comes around. You never know when you'll be in a position to help someone who has helped you before.

The networking methods you'll use to find the hidden job market will depend on who you know, how you know them, and what type of position you want to land.

Online networking for new grads. Believe it or not, Facebook and MySpace can do more than tell you things you didn't want to know about your friends. Take a look at the people you know in those online communities, then take a look at who they know. Who are you connected to who works in your field? Can your mutual friend introduce you to a potential contact, either online or offline? Use the meeting to ask questions about how to find and get an entry-level position, and ask whether your contact has heard of anything that's open. Pass along a copy of your resume and be clear about your skills and what type of position you're looking for.

Online networking for professionals. If you've already embarked on your career, try The site uses your resume information to connect you with colleagues and graduates of your alma mater. Your contacts can introduce you to people in their networks, and they can recommend your work in a comment that gets attached to your personal profile. Recommendations are a big part of what makes LinkedIn work so well, as they give you "known quantity" status when you approach people about open positions in your field.

Offline networking. Do not discount the importance of face time, even in this world of digital connections. Join your field's professional association and get to know people who work in your field. Go to meetings and participate in events, even if you're not looking for a job. You'll have a good time, you'll learn more about your field, and most importantly, you'll have people to ask for help when you embark on your next job search.

Networking with your parents' friends, your friends' parents, and anyone else you know. The idea here is that you never know who might be in a position to help you. Do you play on sports teams, or sing in a choir, or do volunteer work? The people you've played with might know people who know people who can find you a job. Ask them. After all, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.