As we usher out the last few days 2016 and make space in our lives for the New Year, here are five of the top blog articles published on ANNE MARIE SEGAL: THE BLOG this year. Please leave a comment below if you would like to let us know your favorite article of the year and how it has impacted your professional life.
Anne Marie Segal is a career & leadership coach, author of Master the Interview and resume strategist/writer. She launched her coaching practice after 15 years as a practicing attorney. For more information about working with Anne Marie, please visit her website.
Halloween is a day about getting scared – on purpose – and also about facing our very real fears. Prospective clients often ask if I can help them break out of a suffocating job search. They tell me that “everything they try” is not working. When we talk a bit more, what I often discern is the following:
They have not settled on a target audience for their job search (or even a small set of audiences) but are sending out applications all over the place.
They are not tailoring their applications to specific opportunities.
They are relying mainly on sending their resumes into the “black hole” of online applications rather than leveraging contacts who may have or know about opportunities.
They are limiting themselves to on-the-job experiences rather than seeking out additional outlets to grow their skills.
The problem with this approach is two-fold. First, while you can get lucky and get a “hit” on a great job – if you are a convincing candidate during the interview process – it rarely works to have a scattershot approach to your job search. Second, it wears you out, so you feel suffocated by the job search rather than energized by it.
Here is the better approach:
Get very clear on your long-term and short-term goals. Figure out which audiences you are targeting, so you can refine your pitch and make each application count.
Tailor your cover letter and resume to the field and type of role, with specific tweaks that relate to the specific job to which you are applying.
Build and work your network. Keep online applications to a minimum, e.g., 10% of your overall job search. Get out there and create a pipeline of contacts through calls and face-to-face meetings, including informational interviews.
Find coursework, individualized study or volunteer opportunities, or look for ways to supplement your current job, to get you closer to your end goals.
No one wants to hire a candidate who is visibly floundering or suffocating from an ineffective job search, and it often shows when you are stretched thin. Break out of the cycle and make the best use of your precious time invested in your search. Not only will you have more interest from employers – which can raise your confidence level and fuel your energy – but you will perform better in the vetting process to achieve greater career-search success.
Anne Marie Segal is a career and leadership coach, author and resume writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. Her book on job interviews, Master the Interview, includes an entire chapter devoted to building one’s job search network.
Are you struggling to keep up with your job search? You probably know that you need to be organized and keep better track of your leads, but how do you achieve that?
How to organize your job search.
Getting organized in your job search means knowing with whom you are connecting, why and other important data points, so that you can recall them when needed. It is easy to keep 3 job targets in your head. Thirty is not so easy. You may think that you will remember information about the company, your value proposition for the role and other factors, but without this information at your fingertips, you are likely to miss something.
Essentially, you need to know and remember the “who, what, where, when, why and how’s” of your job search. If you keep track of this information, not only will it help you feel as though you are making progress on your job search, but it will allow you to keep up with the important contacts that you have made rather than losing out on opportunities because you failed to follow up.
While it may seem like extra work to keep track of where you are applying, if it seems like too much effort to keep track of what you are doing, you are probably “doing too much” on the search front (i.e., sending out applications blindly without slowing down to think about whether the jobs to which you are applying are actually good fits for your talents, interests and skills). It is much more productive to slow down and be thoughtful about your applications than try to blanket the market with your resume.
Imagine you receive a call from the HR department of one of your target employers. She says, “Hi, it’s Sherrie at Set Your Sights High,” and you say, “Ummm….”
If you were being completely honest, you may answer:
“Hi Sherrie, can you hold on…? I think I remember you but not your company. Actually, can I call you back when I figure out where you are calling from and why I sent you an application?”
I am sure you’ll agree that’s not your best look.
I often suggest to my clients that they arrange their job search and interview information in a chart form, such as Microsoft Excel, with the headings of each column as follows. Here are examples of how to arrange it, with the bolded information sorted by columns and the data in rows.
Spreadsheet #1 – Target Roles (examples)
Contact at Target – Jorge Rodriguez
Target Company Name – Blankman & Co.
Nature of Relationship – our kids play soccer together
What I Offer this Target – my blend of technology and people skills plus large and small company expertise; they are growing quickly; looking for new COO; want someone decisive; my leadership roles and recruiting are a plus; they like that I have some sales background and can relate to sales team
Date/Stage of Last Contact – email on 6/1
Next Steps – follow up with phone call if haven’t heard by 6/15
Notes – also knows my good friend Ralph and probably Sara, need to bring this up somehow
Spreadsheet #2 – Connectors (examples)
Name – Lana Kinderman
Company Name – Kinderman & Associates
Nature of Relationship – known since graduate school
Reason for Connection – will refer me to an UN jobs or others where she has contacts; said I may need to first apply, then she will forward resume to right people
Date/Point of Last Contact – lunch on 5/10
Next Steps – invite her to September networking event; finalize resume to send her
Notes – remind Lana I speak fluent Spanish next time I see her
For the second spreadsheet, “Connectors” are people who are well poised to connect you to possible targets, and the “Reason for Connection” relates to the type of roles with which or individuals with whom they can connect you. For example, the Reason for Connection may be that the individual knows a number of private company CEOs or has other contacts in a certain field and is willing and able to help you connect with them (i.e., has a strong network and wants to support your job search by helping you make connections). Recruiters can also go on the Connectors chart, or a separate chart, since they also have the potential to connect you with a number of roles.
If you are applying to very different sets of roles (e.g., non-profit administration roles and corporate social responsibility (CSR) positions), I would suggest using additional sets of spreadsheets, or different workbooks within Excel if you find that easier, for each leg of your job search, naming them appropriately. The more structured you can make your approach, without complicating it, the better. (And if you find Excel intimidating, tables in Word also work. The point is to use this information to serve your job search, not to be tied to a certain format.)
Some of my clients prefer to include contact information for individuals in this same chart, although I generally keep that separate, so that the spreadsheet is still printable and readable on an 8 ½ x 11 page without heavy formatting.
Alternatively, you can record your job leads and next steps online, rather than through a spreadsheet. This is entirely in the best interest of the job seeker rather than an issue of best practice. I like to see everything on a few pages, neatly organized, and do not want to have to sign in and remember passwords to access my information. Others may appreciate the support of a system. Jibberjobber.com works well for many candidates, for example, and it is free (at the time of this post) for a basic account.
Once you have an interview with a target company, I suggest creating more detailed pages outlining your research and talking points, which I will discuss in more detail in a future post.
Anne Marie Segal is a career and leadership coach, writer and resume writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. The above is an excerpt from her forthcoming book on job interviews. For more information about Anne Marie’s coaching practice, please visit www.segalcoaching.com.
Are You Judged By Your Email Address?
A Resounding Yes!
If you have an email address that starts like any of the ones below, or something similar, and you have wondered why you have had a hard time getting any traction in your job search, this is a post you need to read.
I’ve called this post “Immature Email Addresses Need Not Apply” because I can tell you from countless conversations with recruiters and hiring managers that they LOVE to see goofy, inappropriate, overly personal or hard-to-read email addresses. It makes their job easier. Resume, meet trash can. (Well, they actually cringe to see them with otherwise highly qualified candidates, because it puts everything else about the candidate’s application into doubt.)
Recruiters and hiring managers LOVE to see goofy, inappropriate or hard-to-place email addresses. It makes their job easier. Resume, meet trash can.
One of the important vetting points for a job candidate is to determine whether he or she has good judgment. Whether you’ll be a law firm associate, marketing manager or receptionist, if you don’t have good judgment, you are missing one of the essential elements that makes a good employee. So demonstrating your bad judgment in the very document that is meant to market you is clearly counterproductive to, if not fatal for, your chances as a job candidate.
You would be surprised how often I need to say this to clients, and it is not only junior people who have never held a job before. I have had this same conversation with executive candidates who have been in the workforce for 20 years or more. I would guess that everyone knows someone who has the “wrong” type of email address to grace a professional job application, but few of us know how to tell our friends that they need to change it.
Don’t use an email address that includes your street address, is awkward to type, alludes to your hobbies or religious beliefs, or is anything other than an easy derivation of your name. Outside of a professional context (a world that is admittedly getting smaller and smaller with social media, if not disappearing for most of us), you can email from firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or whatever you like, but not in the job search or on work-related matters thereafter, if you want to be taken seriously.
Keep your resume out of the trash can.
Judgment. It’s that important. Review every aspect of your resume and other career documents to see if there is any hint (or shout) of bad judgment, from an immature, unprofessional, irrelevant or hard-to-spell email address or otherwise.
Email addresses are not the time and place to get creative.
Not when you are in job search mode.
People often want offbeat email addresses to express their individuality. That’s great, go crazy, but create a new one for your job search. In a very small number of highly creative fields, a call-attention-to-your-uniqueness style of email address can work (although none of the above addresses are actually creative, just off the mark). In almost all cases, however, the tried and true combination of firstname.lastname@example.org is the best bet. In addition, some career experts recommend that Gmail and Hotmail are the best servers to show that you are a tech-savvy candidate. If the firstnamelastname combination is not available, lastnamefirstname, firstnamelastname10, firstnamemiddleinitiallastname and other combinations of one’s name and initials make your email (and, by extension, your job application) easier to find and retrieve among a pool of hundreds or thousands of candidates, so you can get the call for the interview and job offer.
On a similar note, if you use your married name professionally, don’t use your maiden name in your email. If you use your middle name as a first name, don’t start your email with your “real” first initial (unless it is also on your resume), so if someone wants to start typing your name, they know which letter comes first (which often populates the “To” field in their email message). If you have a difficult to pronounce or spell last name that is 29 letters, consider shortening it to 5 or 8 letters in the email, cutting it off at a natural breaking point. In all cases, what you are trying to do is make it easier on the person recommending, interviewing (and, hopefully, hiring) you.
Keep your eye on the prize. The purpose of a job search is to get the job.
Anne Marie Segal is a career coach and résumé writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. She is currently completing her first book, on job interviews, which will be available in early 2017. To join her monthly mailing list and receive a preview of the chapter on value propositions, please click here and write “Book Preview” in the comments section.
[Note: Any reference to actual email addresses in the above is unintentional. These addresses are cited for illustration purposes only.]