The GREAT JOB SOONER Blog

LinkedIn’s New Look – 5 Steps to Make It Work for You

LinkedIn’s new desktop layout provides a more seamless experience across mobile and home – but will it make you look good?

Here’s what you need to do to ensure your profile is branding you the way you want it to – starting from the top and working our way down.

One: Brand Yourself with that Summary “Teaser.”

One of the first things someone viewing your profile will see, in the top box (often called the Snapshot), is the beginning of your Summary – the first 92 characters on mobile, 220 on desktop – along with a “See more” link. Not everyone will click to see more, so make sure those first words contribute to a relevant, positive first impression that supports your professional brand.

The truncation process eliminates line spaces, so you may find that those first 92/220 characters include words or sentences jammed together with no space in between, like this:

CATHY L. CURTISSustainability Consultant – Corporate Social Responsibility – Communicationscathylcurtis@gmail.com

To prevent that, use dashes or symbols (from the “Symbols” font on your computer) to separate the words, like this:

▒ CATHY L. CURTIS ▒ Sustainability Consultant – Corporate Social Responsibility – Communications –  cathylcurtis@gmail.com

Two: Pay Attention to Your “Articles and Activity.”

Since your recent posts and post “likes” now show up at the top of your profile, they’re much more noticeable. So make sure your posts support your professional brand. If you wouldn’t talk about a certain topic in a large meeting at work, don’t post it on LinkedIn. And if the last time you posted was a long, long time ago, it’s time to share some news or an interesting work-related article.

Three: With Job Descriptions Hidden, Make Sure Your Titles Speak for Themselves.

Your job descriptions are now hidden until the reader clicks for more. If there’s something super-important in the description – like the fact that “Analyst III” actually means you built websites – add some description to the job title field, in parentheses like this: “Analyst III (Web Development & Design)”.

That’s actually been a good idea all along, since job titles are a very important field to load with key words if you want your profile to come up high in searches for people with those skills.

Four: Claim Your Accomplishments.

Several sections that once were separate are now grouped under the heading “Accomplishments”:  Certifications, Courses, Honors / Awards, Languages, Patents, Projects, Publications, Test Scores and Organizations. You don’t need all of these things, of course. But by labeling them “Accomplishments,” LinkedIn has made them more important. Enough said.

Five: Be Aware of Other Changes.  

You no longer have a choice about the order of the sections. If previously you had Education or Certifications near the top of your profile to emphasize it, that’s no longer an option. Instead, use your Summary (especially those first 92/220 characters) to draw attention to what’s important.

Groups have not disappeared, but it’s less obvious how to find and interact with your Groups. Click the magnifying glass next to the search field at the top and then click the “Groups” tab that appears. Or scroll down to “Following” near the bottom of your profile and “See more.” Various changes have been made to how your Groups function, mostly to make it less spammy. Here’s more on that.

Advanced Search is still there, you just have to click the magnifying glass first.

The new Notifications page makes it easier to engage with post activity.

LinkedIn Posts is now called Articles and works differently in various ways. The bad news is that your articles are no longer shared with all your Connections. Here’s more info on changes in this area.   

Exporting your LinkedIn connections is now done under Account>Basics.

There’s a new messaging feature similar to Facebook Messenger with a chatbot for scheduling meetings with Google Calendar.

Tagging of contacts is no longer available, but you can do that and more with add-ons like Dux Soup.

Capitalize on the Power of LinkedIn to Build Your Brand

Despite Facebook’s recent entry into the job posting world, LinkedIn remains the preeminent professional networking site. Use it to your advantage!

Starting a New Job Soon? Advice for a Flawless Transition

Saying “yes!” to a job offer sets the clock ticking on a crucial moment in your career. What can you do to start out on the right foot, maximize good relationships and minimize stress as you make your job transition?

This post is an excerpt from my recently published book, Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Job Interview, available in eBook and paperback formats from Amazon.

A Moment for Career Management

Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.” – John Dewey

From the moment you accept a new job to your first glowing performance review on the new job, career transition can be a bit of a roller coaster ride – exciting, hectic, even stressful. You get caught up in the whirlwind of that. But it’s also an important moment for some conscious career management.

Career management means realizing that although your new job is at XYZ Inc., your real, lifetime employer is You Inc., and you’re the leader of that enterprise. You

Managing “Me, Inc.” through your job transition means you’re in charge of:

  • Product Development – You and your skills are the product, and your new employer is probably not the last buyer you’ll ever have for that product. How do you want to improve your skills while you’re in this job?
  • Talent Development and Advancement – Do you want to advance within the company, or beyond it? To what role(s)? How will you get there?
  • Finance – If you’ve been unemployed, you may have become painfully aware that you can’t count on a steady income at all times in your life. What’s your plan to create or replenish your between-jobs fund?
  • Marketing Communications – Your current campaign is ending successfully! And good career marketing is ongoing.

Speaking of marketing communications, during this job search, did you find yourself thinking “I wish I had done (X) before I needed to start looking for a new job”? Did you wish you had…

…Kept track of accomplishments and kudos on the job, as “resume material”?

…Taken home copies of your performance reviews?

…Kept your resume and LinkedIn profile updated?

…Built a network and stayed in touch?

…Stayed on better terms with past employers?

If so, plan on taking these steps as you go along, so next time it can all be easier and even more successful!

Let’s look at some specific actions that will support your career as you’re leaving your old job and getting ready to start your new one.

Giving Notice and Transitioning Out

Before giving notice, make sure you have the new job offer in writing, including the start date. If you have any doubts whether that job will really be there – for example, if the company is undergoing extreme turmoil – clarify that with your boss-to-be before you give notice. New jobs have been known to vanish between the offer and the start date.

Gather resume-fodder details while you still can. Giving notice doesn’t necessarily mean the company will want you to stay, and you may suddenly lose access to your computer and hardcopy files. So before giving notice, and without violating agreements or ethics, gather up information that may be helpful in your next job search, such as copies of your performance reviews and details about your accomplishments (how much you increased sales last year, etc.).

Be clear what’s yours and what’s theirs. Does your LinkedIn profile belong to you, even though your employer helped you set it up and it’s connected to your business email address? Do you own your customer contacts or not? Disputes have arisen over these types of information.

Give notice verbally and in writing. Break the news to your supervisor first, in a private meeting, and agree on how and when the announcement will be made to others. Then write an email or letter stating briefly that you are resigning and when your last day will be. Stating why you are leaving is not necessary, but do include appreciation and thanks, even – or especially! – if the vibes are not gloriously warm.

How much notice should you give? Two weeks’ notice is standard; offering less is generally considered unprofessional. You might even want to offer more if leaving in two weeks would cause a hardship for the team. But don’t let it drag on and on. Your future is with the new company, so put that relationship first. Also consider your own needs for rest and recuperation. You may need to negotiate with both employers to get some time off in between. Enjoy some time off if you possibly can! Starting a new job takes a lot of energy.

Go out on a positive note. Past employers and co-workers are VIPs in your career network for many reasons – as sources of references, recommendations and information; for their influence on your reputation; and hopefully even as friends. So treat them well. Be willing to train your replacement. Create documentation for the next person in the role. Share all those tips nobody knows better than you.

Replacing Job Search with Ongoing Career Communications

Continue and nurture relationships with the people you’ve met in your search. Share your good news with everyone who helped you in any way. Maybe treat somebody to a meal to celebrate together and show appreciation for their support. Don’t be one of those people who only get in touch when they want something.

Update and improve your LinkedIn profile now; this is the very best time to do it. A year or two from now you may be looking at new opportunities, but spiffing up your profile at that point may arouse suspicion. Doing it now is safer, and will also help you look good to new colleagues who may be curious about you. Ask for recommendations from people at the job you’re leaving, especially your former boss. (Aren’t you glad you were nice on your way out?) Add your new job, either right before you start or, if you have any doubts about whether it will work out, after you’ve been on the job a little while. Don’t put it off too long.

File away notes for your next job search. If you’ve created various versions of your resume, gathered a lot of useful information about companies and job titles, and so on, you may want to refer to these items at some point in the future. Put them where you’ll be able to find them.

On Your New Job

If you’ve read this book, I’m guessing you work hard – and strategically – for what you want, and that you’re also smart about seeking out new knowledge and outside expertise to support your efforts. These qualities will serve you well in your new workplace.

Your first days and months on the job will be about forming relationships, learning, and making a point of achieving early wins to quickly establish yourself as a valuable team member. All of that is beyond the scope of this book, but much has been written by others about making a great first impression at your new job and ensuring that the crucial first few months will be evaluated positively.

May your new job and your career be a rich source of everything you want from it, whether that be exciting challenges and growth, making a difference, prosperity, security, camaraderie or appreciation. I wish you “all of the above”!

What are your job interview selling points? (Podcast)

To really stand out in a job interview, you need to know your the top 5 (or top 3 or whatever) “selling points” – the qualities or facts that will make the interviewer’s eyes light up – and to proactively emphasize them right from the start.

In a new podcast on CareerCloud, I discussed how to identify your unique selling points and make them work for you, powerfully. Listen now.

 

“Tell me about a difficult person you had to work with.” Most Common Interview Questions, #6

Interview questions about “a difficult person” are job search land mines. Watch your step!

This post is an excerpt from Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Job Interview, available from Amazon as a softcover or eBook.

How should you answer this tricky interview question?

Sometimes the question is phrased a little differently: “Tell me about a time you had to work with someone you didn’t like, or who didn’t like you.”

However the question is asked, don’t project an image of yourself as someone who dislikes or is disliked by others. Reframe it as a situation where it was a challenge to work effectively with someone.

This question requires you to say something negative about a co-worker, which is generally a no-no in interviews. So be tactful by not giving any information that could identify who this person is.

Take an emotionally neutral tone. Resist the urge to kvetch, even if the interviewer encourages it by offering you sympathy.

Avoid characterizing the co-worker in judgmental terms like “Nothing was ever right as far as he was concerned” or “She wasn’t a team player.” Instead, describe the specific behavior objectively: “He would often make negative comments about team members” or “We needed her to provide a report every Monday, but it usually wasn’t done until mid-week.”

Be very brief about the difficult behavior, focusing primarily on what you did to make the best of the situation and how well it turned out. Treat this as a success story, emphasizing the positive results.

If you weren’t able to get any positive results, tell a different story! Remember, this question is not about the other person, it’s about you and your ability to collaborate with or manage others, to manage your own emotions and behavior, to resolve conflicts, and to use discretion and fairness in discussing a difficult situation.

Looking for more tips on handling tricky interview questions?

To read the other posts in this series, visit my helpful job search blog.

For a more complete interview guide, read Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Job Interview.

And good luck with your interviews!

 

 

What are your salary expectations? Most Common Interview Questions, #5

How do you answer the interview question, “What are your salary expectations?” This post is the fifth in a series of excerpts from my upcoming eBook, Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Job Interview, available from Amazon.

“What are your salary expectations?”

Answering this question too specifically can lose you a lot of money, or an opportunity. Naming a figure that’s too low can result in a lower offer, or even loss of the opportunity if your answer creates doubt about your value. A figure that’s too high can immediately disqualify you.

This is one of the few questions where formulaic, memorized verbiage may be the best approach.

First, as soon as you apply for a job make sure you understand the range of typical salaries for the position and geographic area, because this may be one of the first questions you will be asked in a phone screen, which could happen at any time.

You can research salaries via websites like Salary, Payscale, Glassdoor, Indeed, CareerOneStop, JobSearchIntelligence, a simple Google search, and sometimes via word of mouth. Use more than one source, since a broader range may give you more negotiating flexibility.

When the question is asked, respond with “Can you tell me what range you have budgeted for the position?”

If they tell you a range, say something like, “That seems like a reasonable ballpark. I’m sure once we agree I’m the right person for the job, we’ll be able to agree on a salary that’s fair.”

If they won’t state their range and put the question back onto you, say something like, “I’ve done some research and I’m seeing salaries anywhere from X to Y. I’m sure once we agree I’m the right person for the job we’ll be able to agree on a salary that’s fair.”

More Help with Common Interview Questions

Earlier posts in this series explored the common interview questions “What are your weaknesses?”, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, “Why did you leave your job?” and “What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made on the job?” For more posts like these you can subscribe to my helpful job search blog.

For tips on dozens of common interview questions (and some not-so-common ones) and much more, check out my book on Amazon.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made? Most Common Interview Questions #4

What the biggest mistake you've made? Most Common Interview Questions #4How do you answer the interview question, “What’s a major mistake you’ve made on the job?” This post is the fourth in a series of excerpts from my new book, Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Job Interview.

What’s behind this interview question?

The intention here is to see whether you are open to admitting, taking responsibility for and learning from your mistakes. No one wants employees who will sweep their mistakes under the rug or blame them on others. They also want to hear that you clean up after yourself where possible, going the extra mile to make things right.

Here’s an example:

“On a software project I managed, a certain manager didn’t come to the regular meetings until the final one where everyone was supposed to sign off. There, at the last minute, he objected to a great new feature the team was excited about. Later I realized how I could have countered that objection, but at the time it caught me by surprise, I didn’t make a good case for it, and the feature was left off.

“What I learned for the future was to always make sure the key stakeholders are involved early, and that’s what I’ve done since then. Anyway, I worked hard to ensure that the new feature would be in the next release – and it was!”

What other interview questions are you concerned about?

Subscribe to this blog to ensure you won’t miss more articles like this, or better yet, buy my book! It’s available on Amazon as a Kindle eBook now, and the softcover edition will be available by mid-January 2017.

Why did you leave that job? The Most Common Interview Questions, #3

How do you answer the interview question, “Why did you leave that job?”

This post is the third in a series of excerpts from my upcoming eBook, Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview, to be published January 1, 2017. You can pre-order it as an eBook now or get the softcover in January.

Does your departure indicate a problem that could derail your interview?

If you left and immediately started a new job, it’s no problem: you left for a better opportunity (or what you thought was a better opportunity, even if it didn’t work out).

On the other hand, leaving without a new job lined up is generally a red flag, so this question is tricky.

The key is this: although one reason may dominate in your mind – probably the most emotional one, such as a personality conflict or issue with the boss – usually there are more reasons. List them all on a piece of paper. Then see which of these reasons makes the best impression.

Here’s an example.

Joe quit his job for the following reasons: (1) his boss was a micromanager, (2) the company, a hospital, had toxic office politics, (3) the circumstances made it difficult or impossible to move up into a better department, (4) he couldn’t stay until he found a new job because the job left him no time or energy for job search, and (5) he also had an itch to move into the pharmaceutical industry.

Reasons 1 and 2 are a minefield that would be hard to discuss without presenting himself as a complainer who badmouths his former employer. But he doesn’t need to go there; he can build a truthful answer out of reasons 3-5:

“While Bayworth Hospital is a great institution in terms of patient care, and I had three excellent years there, with strong accomplishments like the ones we’ve discussed, there really wasn’t a path upward for me there any more (reason #3). It was time to leave and pursue my longtime interest in pharmaceutical companies (#5) like this one. The job was intensely demanding and it didn’t leave me the energy to conduct a search. (#4) So I gave notice, helped the department make a smooth transition, and then left to devote myself to a full-time process of transitioning into doing what I’m most passionate about.”

Why does this answer work? Because it’s true, tactful, brief (30 seconds) and focused on the positive. It’s also a great example of the “sandwich technique”: surrounding a negative (the fact that he left) with positives (his respect for the hospital in certain ways, his accomplishments and his passion for the current opportunity).

What if Joe had been fired? In a past chapter I said “Never volunteer a negative.” Joe doesn’t need to say he was fired, unless specifically asked. His answer could be the same as above, with a slightly different ending:

“…It was time to leave and pursue my longtime interest in pharmaceutical companies like this one. Since then I’ve devoted myself to a full-time process of transitioning into doing what I’m most passionate about.”

Because this subject is emotionally charged for Joe, he would be wise to rehearse this answer with great care. He also needs to be prepared for the likelihood the interviewer will ask additional questions that will reveal that he was fired. Then what? I’ve discussed this in an earlier blog post.

What other interview questions are you wondering about?

Subscribe to this blog to ensure you won’t miss more articles like this, and for in-depth guidance you can pre-order my Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview.

What’s Your 5-Year Goal? The Most Common Interview Questions, #2

What's Your 5-Year Goal? The Most Common Interview Questions, #2“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

How do you answer this common interview question?

This post is the second in a series of excerpts from my upcoming book, Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Job Interview, to be published January 1, 2017. You can pre-order it as an eBook now, or get the softcover in January.

What’s behind this interview question?

Why do interviewers ask you this? For one thing, they want to know whether the job aligns with your goals, and thus whether you’ll stick around. They may also be hoping you have some ambition. Ambitious people often make better employees. They’re more motivated, and they may work harder and smarter. They make a point of growing their abilities.

On the other hand, those who come in with their eye on a higher position and view the current role only as a stepping stone may be impatient and lack commitment to the tasks at hand.

So give an answer that combines a desire to grow, on the one hand, with realism, patience and commitment on the other.

Before the interview, see if you can find information about paths to advancement from within the position. If the only position you can advance to is that of the person you’re interviewing with, proceed with care! He probably won’t like the idea that you have your eye on his job, so just talk about growing and taking on more responsibility.

In most cases you won’t have much information, in which case it’s safest to start with a general answer followed by a question, like this:

“Over the next few years I see myself building my skills, taking on more responsibility and moving up, if it’s appropriate. Can you tell me about how others have advanced from this role?”

Although the question often includes the phrase “five years,” you don’t have to be that precise in your answer. More open-ended terms like “over the next several years” may be best.

What other interview questions are you wondering about?

Keep reading this blog as we examine some of the most common interview questions, what they’re about, and how to answer them in a way that’s authentic, strategic and gets you the offer. And remember there’s a lot more help in my book!

What Are Your Weaknesses? The Most Common Interview Questions, #1

This post is the first in a series of excerpts from my book, Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Job Interview, about giving effective answers to the most common interview questions.

How do you answer the interview question “What’s your biggest weakness?”

In most cases, the interviewer isn’t just asking this to find out if there’s a weakness that would disqualify you. They’re even more interested in finding out whether you’re self-aware and willing to openly discuss your shortcomings, which would indicate that you probably take feedback well. And they want to hear that you are committed to continually improving your skills.

With that in mind, try talking about…

…a weakness that’s closely connected to one of your greatest strengths. For example, if you’re great at relationship-building and that’s crucial to the job you’re applying for, you might mention that you sometimes spend more time listening to a client or co-worker than you intended to. (But if it really isn’t a weakness at all, it will sound evasive and insincere, so pick something else.)

…an “elephant in the room” weakness that’s already very noticeable to the employer – such as having less experience than they would prefer – so you have nothing to lose by bringing it up.

…a weakness you have largely overcome or that you compensate for very successfully.

No matter what weakness you bring up, keep it brief and spend more time talking about how you’re overcoming it than about what a problem it is. And avoid words like “weakness” and “problem” in your answer. Use more positive words like “challenge,” “growing edge” and “area where I’m growing.”

Of course, don’t bring up a weakness that would cause them to seriously doubt you can do the job.

Realize that certain answers – especially “I’m a perfectionist” and “I work too hard” – have been used so often they’ve become clichés and should be avoided, unless you can put a fresh spin on them.

The next installment of “The Most Common Interview Questions” will help you with the question “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Stay posted by subscribing to this blog if you haven’t already done so. Don’t miss useful tips!

10 Tips for Great Cover Letters

Cover Letter TipsRumors of the death of the cover letter have been exaggerated. Cover letters often do make a difference – so write cover letters that have all 10 of these advantages.

1: The name of the hiring manager, if at all possible, even if you’re sending it to Human Resources. And do send it directly to the hiring manager as well! Read my posts on how to find the hiring manager’s name and how to find their email address.

2: An attention-getting opening. What do you think is the #1 most interesting or impressive thing about you, from the point of view of the employer you’re writing to? Start with that. Or figure out what their pain points are, and start by presenting yourself as the solution to their problems. Either of these approaches would be much more effective than “I am writing to express my interest in the blah blah position. My resume is attached.”

3: Your Key Selling Points. Emphasis on what you most want employers to notice – the top three to five reasons why they should hire you instead of someone else.

4:  Evidence that you are especially motivated to work for them: Do some research and mention what you discovered that makes you a good fit.

5: Correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. Even professional writers have their work proofread before publication. You can get good professional proofreading for around $5 per page.

6: Brevity. Keep it to one page or less for mailing, or one email screen (without scrolling).

7: The right format.

Email: Your cover letter should be the email itself, not an attachment. Include the job title in the subject line, plus if possible a few words emphasizing a key selling point. For example: ” MBA w/ Global Experience – Region Director Opening.” If you’re starting from a template, make your changes before pasting the content into the email. Content inserted after that point may appear to the recipient in a different font than the surrounding text.

Hardcopy: Use standard business letter format. Include a “re:” line referring to the job opening. Example: “Re: Region Director role”

8: Keywords. Cover letters often end up in the human resources department’s applicant tracking system (ATS) along with their resumes. An ATS is like a database that stores applicant information. HR personnel do keyword searches of these materials to determine whose resumes they want to read, and whose to ignore. Your cover letter and resume have more chance of being read if they contain crucial keywords such as the job title being applied for and words describing the most important skills and qualifications for the job.

9: Your phone number. Even though you phone number is presumably on the resume, include it here as well.

10: In the copy you send to the hiring manager, a promise to call him or her to introduce yourself. (Of course, this presumes you’ve got their name and a phone number, and that the job announcement did not forbid you to call.) If you’re able to do this, write something like “Because there is such a strong fit between my background and this role, I am going to take the liberty of phoning you Wednesday afternoon to personally introduce myself and answer any questions you may have.” Then be absolutely sure you make that call at the stated time, fully prepared (with notes) to effectively handle any response, whether it’s “I’m afraid I don’t have time to talk. I want to just let HR handle it,” or “I have some time. Tell me about yourself.” In a future post I’ll say more about making calls like this.

Many employers do read cover letters. Make sure yours includes all of the above so it – and you – will stand out.