How are your networking skills?

If you are like me your read/hear a lot about networking, but what is networking?  According to Webster:  the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically :  the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.  Most of us think it is just collecting business cards or adding you to my address book.

What we need to do is to think like a salesman.  Think of the people you network with as leads.  You need to have a goal each day and week of how many new leads you want to get.  Then you work them.   Working a lead sounds bad but it is actually beneficial for both parties in this case.  Remember the definition of networking…  “the exchange of information or services” and “productive relationships.”  That sounds like the classic win-win to me.

You need to first have a way to keep track of your network.  You can use Outlook, a free CRM or paid CRM.  There are probably other options but those first come to mind.  Once you have them in the database you want to put them in groups by industry, location, profession and/or industry.  Next, you want to set up Google alerts for each group.  This will help you find news stories that you can then share with your network.  Be sure that you also connect to your contacts on LinkedIn, Twitter, FB, and other social networks.  You did stop your rants on FB right?

Recruiters are using social networking more and more in the recruiting and selection process so you need to be sure you are out there and you are professional.  You can even write a few “whitepapers” on subjects that you are knowledgeable about.

Keep notes about when you send out messages and posts to refer back to later.  You can also create reminders for some of your network to be sure you are staying in touch with them.  Remember, networking is a two-way street.  You need to give before you can receive.

The Man

If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go with others.
African Proverb

The Applicant Tracking System sucks.

If you are a candidate you might think that it does not matter to you whether or not our ATS (applicant tracking system) works well.  Guess what?  It should matter to you because if you don’t understand ATSs then you don’t think like a recruiter.

First, most ATSs are made by HR departments.  This is akin to having accounting or operations putting together a CRM (customer relationship management software) for sales.  It just don’t work well.

Many ATSs will let an applicant apply for multiple jobs all at once.  But did you know that the recruiter can see that and that it really pisses us off?  Why, you ask?  Imagine if someone asks you out, then you see them do the exact same thing to everyone in the bar.  Do you feel special?  Hell no.  They seem desperate.  I do not like hiring desperate people, do you like dating them?

Also, many ATSs do not make it easy to look at all the new applicants at once.  This seems like it would be a no-brainer but no one in ATS land has figured this out.  A recruiter must go into each opening (we call them requisitions, reqs for short) and see if anyone new applied.  How would you like to have 10-20 mailboxes outside your house you had to check everyday for mail?  One for the electric bill, one for the gas bill, and so on.  So, some mailboxes don’t get checked very often.

Most recruiters carry a req load (number of openings) of 10-20 or more.  Add to that most if not all ATSs do not make it easy to look up candidates.  So when you call and say “Hello, this is Bob” I might not know who you are.  Sorry, but that is the way it works.  So, when you call me say something like “Hello, this is Bob Barker returning your call about the sales opening in Poughkeepsie.  Then I might know who you are.

ATSs also do not make it very easy to keep track of the people you talked to last year or reminding me that I need to call you tomorrow.  CRMs do that but oh no, not an ATS.  That would be WAY too easy!  So if I cold call you again please be forgiving.  Also, if I forget to call, call me but be nice.

The Man

If you want to get hired, you must think like a recruiter and like a hiring manager.
Al Pollard

First impressions count, use it to your advantage.

If you know the rules of the game you can leverage them to your advantage.  One rule is that first impressions count so use that to your advantage.  If that is true then when does the first impression start?  It may start with your social profiles, or your resume, or when you answer the phone or when you have your first face to face interview.

Sorry, social profiles do count.  Remember when you pontificated about how you think Donald Trump should be a member of the Hair Club for men?  Well, maybe the person who is recruiting for the position you just applied for is a big fan of Trumps.  You might not care that much but you will never know because they won’t call you.

So, before you start applying to positions, clean up the mess you have made on social media.  Yes, you have free speech rights… but they are also free to not hire your loud mouth self.

Next take a look at your resume.  At a minimum, be sure it is up to date with correct spelling and grammar.  It is hard to believe someone who says: “I am detale oriened.”

Then let’s look at your email address.  Is SexyMike@ really what you want people to see first?  While we are at it change your voicemail message to something professional and sound upbeat.  If you have one of the phones that plays a song when I call you… stop it.  You also need to be sure you check and clear your messages regularly and check your spam mail for emails from companies.  It is actually not a bad idea to start a new email address just for the job search.  That way any emails will not get lost in your inbox.

What do you say when you answer the phone?  Let me back up… don’t answer the phone if you can’t talk unless you are ready to schedule a time to talk.  It is VERY frustrating when I call someone and they say “OH, I can’t talk right now I am (insert excuse here) can I call you back?”  You ALWAYS want to set up a day and time to follow up.  Any sales person worth their salt knows you set a specific day and time for the follow up.

When you have a scheduled time for an interview be sure you are ready ahead of time and you have a good signal if you are on your cell.  It is VERY frustrating if the call keeps getting dropped or if your dog keeps barking.

If it is a face to face interview be sure you are dressed appropriately.  You also want to be SURE you know where the office is, how to get there and where to park.  I have done dry-runs in the past before my interviews to be sure I knew where to go.  Interviews are stressful enough when everything goes right.

Once you leave your house the interview starts.  The person that you told was #1 on the way to the interview…. strange, they pulled in the same parking lot as you.  Oh, wait… oh NO!  They work there.  I also frequently ask the receptionist what they thought of you.  We may even watch you when you get out of your car or when you walk back to the car after the interview 🙂

The Man

Be the type of person you want to meet.


Being sneaky counts

Every wonder how you can start to build a network in a new field or when you are just starting out?  Informational interviews.  Granted, this is a tactic that is best used by the younger job seekers but really, anyone can do it.  Think of it as the “let’s be friends” of the dating world.

Informational interviews are where you ask someone in a field you want to work in for 10-20 minutes of their time for you to ask them a few questions about what they do, how they got there and where they are going.  Most people will say yes if you ask in a generally nice way.  You may have to buy them coffee but in general, people love talking about themselves.

The best way is through an introduction.  Start with an email, something like: “I was referred to you by our mutual acquaintance, Billy Bob Baker.  I am pursuing a career in … and if you have 10-20 minutes to spare I would like to learn what has made you successful in your field.”  This appeals to their ego, you tell them how you got their info and you are setting a time limit.

Here are some good questions to ask but keep in mind, you want to value their time.

  • What made you decide to get into (field of work or profession they are in)
  • What did you do before this /  how did you get here?
  • What do you like most/least about it?
  • What are the educational and/or certifications necessary for the position?
  • What would you have done differently?

There are a ton more.  But I always suggest you end with something like this…  “Thank you so much for your time.  One last thing, would you mind giving me your feedback on my resume when you have a chance?”  Why do you think I suggest this?  It has several functions…

  • It gets your resume in front of them.
  • You get feedback from someone in the field you want to be in.
  • This is the perfect reason to follow back up with them.

After you make some of the changes to your resume, remember that your resume is your own and there is not ONE right way to do one, you can send them another copy with a thank you email.  Then add them to your network.  More on networking to come.

The Man

What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.

What’s the rush?

You may already know this… some jobs are posted for a VERY limited time.  One contract recruiting gig I had in the past included such positions.  These positions were in such high demand that I would only post them for 24 hours or less than I would take them down due to the volume of candidates.

Just think if Channing Tatum or Ali Landry put up personal ad looking for a date.  Think they would need to leave it up and talk to everyone that emailed them?  Nope!  Well, some companies are the same way.  Some don’t even post the positions at all!

That is why looking for a job is a seven-day a week job and the pay sucks but the payoff can be HUGE!  You need to do a lot of things be hitting on all cylinders:

  • Job Boards
  • Company sites
  • Niche sites – industry associations.
  • Networking
  • Professional sites
  • Social media

How do you keep up with it all?  Have a plan and work you plan.  Not enough time or want some help?  I may be able to help with that soon.

So if someone wants to know, what’s the rush with applying for that job?  You know what the rush is… it may not be there tomorrow.

The Man

Dignity: The moment you realize that no one is your enemy, except yourself.
Shannon L. Alder

You did send a thank you note, didn’t you?

I need to first come clean… I NEVER send thank you noted, except for interviews.  I have even told people, if you expect a thank you note for giving me a gift, then don’t give it.  I know it sounds selfish and arrogant but for some reason, I don’t do them.  I blame my parents:)

But when it comes to interviews thank you notes (emails) are invaluable.  I can think of two people off the top of my head that were told that they go the position over another candidate specifically because of the thank you note.  The serve a few purposes:

  • Reiterate why you are interested in the position.
  • It is polite and nice.  Remember, you are nice in interviews.
  • If you feel you blew the interview, this is the time to fix that.
  • It shows that you are really interested in the position.

I know a lot of people think that thank you notes are out of date but I am telling you, they are more valuable than a cover letter.  I press people who I work with in their job search to send a thank you email to everyone they interview with.  Why wouldn’t you?  Remember how hard you worked to get that interview and how frustrating it is to not get an interview?  Then why would you waste this opportunity?

The Man

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.

Carl Bard

Be careful with your file names on resumes

I was reading a blog post the other day and it gave some great advice!  Change the file name of your cover letter and resume to match the position you are applying for.  By now you know that you need to rework your resume and cover letter for each job, right?  You DO know that, don’t you?

I also encourage you to start a folder for each job.  You can do this on your computer or online in Google Drive or Evernote.  That way you can clip relevant articles to that job’s folder when you are on Twitter, FB or online. I like Google Drive or Evernote because you can have access to your documents from anywhere.  Meet someone at an event and they say “shoot me your resume when you get home” why wait, do it then.

One thing you want to be VERY careful anytime you do a file save as you want to change all the relevant information.  I suggest starting with mail merge and having any company or job related information be a form field.  Sending a cover letter to a company that mentions another company (especially a competitor) as the place you want to work is like calling your girlfriend another girl’s name as you all are making your way to the bed.  It usually has disastrous results.

The Man

No matter how attractive a person’s potential may be, you have to date their reality.

Mandy Hale

Interviews – are you the best you?

For many people interviews, well… they suck.  It is like a first date and many of them are blind dates because they may be with a person you have never met before.  I have noticed that most people fall into one of a few categories:

Nervous Nelly – This person is so nervous that they make others nervous.  They let you know they are nervous through their body language, their voice, and what they say.  When answering a question it is obvious they are trying to see if their answer is “correct” or what the interview wants to hear.  This is not good because the interviewer has not idea who you really are or what YOUR answers are.

Cocky Cal – You know this person.  Everyone is beneath them, including this position they are applying for.  They “can” do this job and they have done it before.  Their answers are short with no substance.  “Oh yeah, I did that a while back and lead the group in sales.”  This may not kill you in an interview but you definitely do not win any friends or allies in the process.

Unprepared Prentiss – They need to be reminded about the position they applied for.  Their first question is about your stock price and you are a privately held company, oops!  Their resume needs to be updated and they don’t have any questions.  This shows a HUGE lack of interest on the candidate’s part.

Casual Casey – He crosses the line several times during the interview and thinks y’all are buds, not professionals.  You hear “ya know what I mean?” a lot.  He says things like “cute blonde” or talks bad about his boss/coworkers.  He also checks his phone a lot during the interview.  I do not keep them in the interview long as I know their interests lie elsewhere. 

Together Tiffany – They come in 10-15 minutes early.  She is professionally dressed and has copies of her resume along with having her questions for you written out.  She recognizes you because she took the time to go on LinkedIn and see your profile.  She really stands out when she sends thank you emails to everyone, including the receptionist.

Can Casey, Prentiss, Cal, and Nelly get hired?  Probably, but it will be a lot harder for them than Tiffany.  Remember, this is a game.  #1 rule of the game?  Don’t talk about the game.  I know that not everyone has a high EQ to be able to handle the game but that is where preparation comes into play.  You need to plan things out and practice them.  This is not rocket science people!

So here are a few of the things you need to do at a minimum before and during your next interview:

  • Look at your resume again and compare it with the job description/posting.
  • Look for things they may ask about.  Hell, just Google it.  If you are interviewing for a training position Google “questions to ask a corporate trainer.”
  • Have your clothes ready.  See my previous post.
  • Make sure you know how long it will take to drive there and where you will park.  Do you need money to park?
  • Look up who you will be meeting with: LinkedIn, FB, Twitter, etc…  Do your research.
  • Look at, check that… READ the company’s website.  I am AMAZED at how many people have not even looked at our website when they interview.
  • Look for news stories (good ones) on the company and know who their competitors are.  Walk into Coke for an interview with a bottle of Aquafina and your interview is OVER!
  • Write down questions to ask and not just pat questions like “what is your culture” but questions that show you have done your homework.  Maybe “I noticed that a lot of your employees are active on social media throughout the day, is that part of the company’s culture?”
  • Pay attention to your body language.  I will cover more in another post.
  • Take notes.  Be sure to write down names.
  • Try to get contact information so you can send thank you emails.

By doing this does it guarantee success?  Oh hell no, but the odds will be in your favor.

The Man

My problem with interviews, one day I’ll think one thing and the next day I’ll think the exact opposite.
Skeet Ulrich

Do you dress for failure?

Many people talk about dressing for success.  It is much easier to talk about how many candidates dress for failure.  Let’s say you were going on a date.  How would you dress?  Would you say “hey, I like wearing these tattered shorts and this t-shirt from the 1900’s and they need to accept me for who I am” or would you dress for the event?  I bet if you were going on a date you would wear your nicer clothes.  Interviews are no different.

You definitely want to take the company culture into consideration.  A good recruiter will tell you what the company expects.  If they don’t then it is part of the game.  Personally I would rather be a little over dressed than under dressed.  Remember, the interview is the best you that a company will see.  Just like in dating, what happens after the I Do’s is often a far cry from a first date.

Also, be sure you are comfortable and you feel confident in what you are wearing.  I encourage people to try on their interview clothes if they have not worn them in a while.  It is amazing how clothes shrink over time:)  Also, if they are wool, check them for moth holes.  Not kidding, I have been hosed by this before.

You also want everything ready the night before so there are no surprises the day of the interview.  You did shine your shoes, right?  How about collar stays for the guys?  Women, is your purse cleaned out?  You don’t want to come into an interview with an overnight bag and a set of keys that look like you are the janitor.  Get your keys down to one car key you can take with you and a portfolio or tablet with some extra copies of your resume.

By tJacket taghe way guys… that cloth tag on jacket sleeves… take it off.  I know you want people to know that it is a good brand but that is not OK in an interview.  BTW, you are better off spending your money on good tailoring and a less expensive suit than buying an expensive suit and not having it tailored to fit you.


Tight shirtPlease be sure your shirt fits correctly.  I do not want to hear your buttons screaming for help or hear the thread yelling like a man on the rack.  Also, your collar should button without your neck hanging over it and it should fit well and not leave enough room to see your undershirt.  You do wear a coordinated undershirt, right?  No nipples!

short skirt

Ladies, if you wear a skirt then the skirt should be between you and the chair.  If it is not, then it is too short.  Also, high slits are for dates, not interviews.


low cut

Also stay away from low-cut shirts.  You want a guy to look you in the eye right?  Let’s keep it professional.



The Man

My room was clean but then I had to decide what to wear.

A candidate’s bill of rights

I think candidates deserve certain things:

To be notified if they will or will not be pursued as an applicant for the position.  How would you like it if you ask someone out and they say “I’ll let you know if I am interested?”

  • A realistic job description of what the position is, not just what background of your perfect candidate.  Years of experience and where you went to school is like saying looks matter more than who someone is.  Looks fade with time, as does the predictability GPA has on performance or pay.
  • Benefits information including providers, cost and coverage.  nonnegotiables should be presented up front for everyone to see.  If you are sterile, you should probably let your significant other know before the honeymoon.
  • A timeline and explanation of what the interview process will look like.  If you don’t want to get married again, don’t string someone along.
  • The freedom to contact someone if they start wondering “did I miss a call/email or are they not interested.”  We are adults, stop breaking up with people by not returning their calls.

If you are a candidate and you do not get these things it may be a sign of how the company regards their employees.  If they treat you poorly when you are dating, how do you think the marriage will turn out?

The Man

When marrying, ask yourself this question: Do you believe that you will be able to converse well with this person into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory.
Friedrich Nietzsche