Katherine Turpin

Your Professional Branding Strategist

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“I hate talking about myself!”

some non-cringey tips for easing into the spotlight

Little kids announce their accomplishments so easily and charmingly (maybe because they’re so dang cute). They’re matter-of-fact and completely unselfconscious.

Most grownups, on the other hand, shun the spotlight . “Oh, it wasn’t just ME, it was a team effort.” “Interviews make me so nervous – I just hate talking about myself.” “Lead a training session? That’s WAY outside my comfort zone!” (= all real-life quotes)

Is this a Minnesota thing? A gender thing? In “Rebel Talent”, Francesca Gino says, “As we climb the corporate ladder, our ego inflates, and we tend to feel even more threatened by information that proves us wrong.”

Voicing an unpopular opinion in a meeting (especially a tense one) can be unnerving. Being the focus of attention ~ giving a speech, teaching a group of strangers or trying something new (like Improv) — alarms most of us.

But a job interview carries a multi-threaded threat: we’re talking about ourselves, with strangers, hoping for a job we really want and we’re the sole focus of attention.

Talk about anxiety! It’s enough to bring out the heart-pounding, stammering, I-can’t-think-straight version of ourselves that we don’t want anyone to see.

 But consider this: if you don’t tell (or show) us, how else will we know?

You could even say it’s a little selfish to keep us in the dark. Your perspective, your path and your skills are unique. So  for the good of all of us, step out of the shadows. It’s cringe-y (but-critical) to show up and help us understand.

It could be a job you’re interviewing for. Or it could be a project you’re about to lead. A new client you’re starting to work with. Or a LinkedIn article you’re about to publish. I know — the spotlight feels alarmingly bright.

Some suggestions:
  1. Reframe it: you’re not asking (for approval, for a job, for the sale, for the audience’s attention) you’re advising (your skills are relevant, you’re the right person for this task, you’re sharing your perspective).
  2. You’re the authority: No one else knows your experience, your point of view, the way you do. You’re the best one to tell this story.
  3.  Get comfortable: you know that person who matter-of-factly talks about their  accomplishments? They do it without apology, which puts everyone else at ease. Be more like them. And (my favorite) most people think about us far less than we believe they do.
What? Get comfortable in the spotlight? HOW??

First, get clear. List your accomplishments. Something like, “I untangled the billing process and decreased my company’s reconciliation from 2 weeks to 2 days”. “I led the charge to consolidate my company’s backup tools from 8 to 1, saving $4.5 gazillion” (I made these up, but you get the idea). When I review work histories with professional branding clients,  they’re often shocked at how much they’ve done, what they know, and the impact they’ve had. You know what you know. Own that.

Side note: in a job search, highlight accomplishments where you enjoyed doing the work.

Second, add context.  Remember how we had to add facts to flesh out a persuasive speech in school? Do that here: add the details. ROI, time / cost savings, measurable impact on customers, improved scores, increased $ revenue. Make it real.

Third, practice. If you’re prepping for an interview, say your accomplishments out loud until they flow.  Tell a mirror. Talk to your dog. Say them to your smartphone, on video. Sing them.  And when you do trot them out in real life, remember to tell a (short) story or give details.

As you speak, watch for social cues. Has the data landed? If  you’re getting a blank look, ask “Does that make sense?” or “Do you need more information?” If they’re good, stop talking.

Think less about your discomfort and more about being a good steward of the data you’re sharing. When you shift focus AWAY from your angst at “bragging” (or being the focus of everyone’s attention) and TOWARD helping your audience better-grasp your message, you’ll find your nervousness falling away.

Some clarity + a little practice will make stepping into the spotlight easier. It’s okay to slip up a little. Be prepared, but give yourself permission to be imperfect.

Don’t you just love hearing different perspectives & stories? All the more when the speaker admits to being a tad nervous or unsure?

It’s what makes work (and life) interesting. So play it loud and proud! We’re all ears.

I help mid-career professionals better-tell their story. Need some help crafting yours?
Click here to schedule a no-strings-attached intro call.

Search 101

24 recruiter-tested Tips for Job-Seeking Success

A fortunate few never actually look for jobs: they’re recommended by superiors or recruited by former co-workers. For the rest of us, here’s a toolbox of best-practices to make job-hunting easier and more productive.

On your professional brand:
  1. DO have a recently-updated resume. Especially if you’re a leader, have it reviewed and reworked by an expert
  2. DO have a recently-updated LinkedIn profile with a clear, professional-looking head shot
  3. DO make sure the dates and titles on your LinkedIn profile match your resume
  4. DO ask for LinkedIn recommendations from people who know you and your work well

Michelle spotted a LinkedIn job posting that looked like a perfect next role. Wisely, she asked around and found a professional who could review and revise her resume + her LinkedIn profile. Feeling much more confident after the resulting profile update and resume had been delivered, she applied to the job.

On figuring out where to begin your search:
  1. DO pick 5-10 companies you admire and for whom you think you’d like to work
  2. DO your research on each company. Using LinkedIn, find a common connection and ask for an introduction
  3. DO invite people in these companies for a quick cup of coffee near their office. Say something like, “I’d love to hear what you like about working at X. Can I buy you a quick cup of coffee?”
  4. DO ask people you trust for a recruiter recommendation
On networking:
  1. DO spread the word: let friends and family know you’re looking for a new company
  2. DO mingle: attend Meetups in your field of expertise (or ones that strike your fancy)
  3. DO look for and join LinkedIn groups in your profession
  4. DO expand your personal network by taking part in volunteer activities. Make sure to choose a cause that you truly care about

David is great at asking his LinkedIn connections for introductions. When he finds postings that fit his experience, he immediately looks to his network to see who can be an advocate. This has given him several opportunities to interview, as well as offering insights into these companies.

On applying to company websites:
  1. DON’T rely only on applying to jobs online, unless your skills are in high demand
  2. DON’T regurgitate your entire resume into your cover letter, if you’re using one. Keep it simple. Here’s a guideline.
  3. DO try to find an advocate inside the company as well as applying online
  4. DO tailor your resume to the job, highlighting the most-important skills
On staying the course:
  1. DO look for a job before you actually need one. 411 is easier than 911
  2. DON’T get impatient! Depending on your salary, it can take 6-10 months to find the right next position
  3. DO take consistent action so you feel empowered
  4. DO take good care of yourself physically and emotionally

Michael, who’d been off the job market for a couple of years, really enjoyed the networking aspect of his search. He took every opportunity to meet people. Along the way, he also made it his business to connect others and offer his help. His confidence, curiosity, and kindness added tremendous velocity to his search. Very quickly, he landed a great role with a Fortune 500 company and is now happily digging in.

On adding velocity to YOUR search:
  1. DO find ways to help others along the way.
  2. DO assume that things are working out for the best, keeping a positive outlook
  3. DO stay curious and open-minded. That job that doesn’t seem to be a fit could end up being best one in your career so far!
  4. DON’T allow yourself to get bitter, angry or desperate. These attitudes are repellent, and people pick up on them even when they can’t pinpoint what it is about you that is off-putting

Amy, who’s been job-hunting for 5+ months, is finding it hard to land one. It’s ironic, because the market in her city is hungry for people with her experience. She’s had phone interviews, but they never seem to result in face-to-face meetings. The problem? She’s tense and angry. The roles don’t pay what she expects to earn. Rather than adopting a curious and confident outlook, she’s bitter.

Your search can be a trial, or it can be an interesting and exhilarating adventure. By deciding to take the long view, asking for help along the way (+offering your help to others) and refining your job-hunting skills, you’ll be giving it the attention it deserves.

Happily, your results will reflect this.

 

Need some objective + experienced advice for your professional brand? I can help.

Here’s a link to my calendar to schedule a 15-minute, no-strings-attached call.

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the (agency) curtain

Some tips on engaging more effectively

 

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, agency recruiters and search firms are a fixture on the job search (or hiring) landscape. But they’re not interchangeable and they do need some cultivation. Here’s a roadmap to save you some time and potential heartache.

PART 1: they’re not all created equal :: Things to know

Agencies have different focuses. Some search firms only recruit and place people with deep skills in a particular technology tool (ie. Office 365 or Salesforce). Others focus on a skillset (developers, scrum masters, etc). There are agencies that target midlevel (2-10 year) candidates and others that only work on executive search (senior- and C-level). If you’re new to working with agency recruiters, take a look at their ‘available opportunities’ to get an idea of their practice. Make sure their area of specialization aligns with your skillset.

They often have different lines of business: some work strictly on contract or contract to hire job searches, others only work on permanent placement. Find out what their ‘bread and butter’ is ~ and then, if their focus isn’t the same as yours, keep moving.

Just because a recruiter calls does not mean you need to work with them. Do your homework! For instance, if you’re looking for a perm/direct hire role, don’t waste time (yours or theirs) with a firm that only places people in contract roles, unless you’re truly open to a contract position.

In the direct-hire / permanent placement world, there are different kinds of searches:

Contingent (the agency doesn’t get paid unless they find a candidate that the client hires); usually non-exclusive and a race with other firms to present qualified candidates.

Engaged (the client company pays part of the agency fee up front), which generally gives the agency some exclusivity and traction with the client.

Retained (the client company pays the agency fee in installments, even if the agency doesn’t find a candidate). Essentially, the agency is getting paid for its time, and hopefully for a well-suited candidate. Retained searches are most-often used for senior- and executive level searches.

Why is this relevant? Because the agency’s influence depends on whether the client is using them exclusively or putting the search out to many firms.

Recruiters vary wildly in experience. The big firms like Robert Half  and Modis hire inexperienced recruiters, train them up, and see who makes it. Recruiting is a tough and competitive game with a high turnover rate.  Especially if you’re 10+ years into your career, be discerning. Work with a recruiter with 5+ years of experience (and proven success).

Just like the rest of us, agency recruiters have relationships of different degrees with their client companies. It’s worth asking how well they know a hiring manager and whether they’ve made recent placements with the company before agreeing to be represented there.

Here’s why: once an agency presents your resume to a company, the agency can charge a placement fee if you’re hired. Agencies typically claim this right for 6 – 12 months.

The problem comes when a company is NOT willing to pay an agency fee. If you’re competing against someone who comes in via the company’s Careers page or a referral, it could easily tip the balance in their favor.

So ask your recruiter: how many people have they placed with the client company?  Who pays the agency fees: Talent Acquisition (which might say no even if the hiring manager agrees to consider agency candidates)? Or does the fee come out of the hiring manager’s budget (meaning s/he has decision-making power over paying an agency)?

An agency recruiter who’s invested in your success will generally have answers to these questions. They’ll also tell you if their relationship is strong enough to get traction on your behalf.

PART 2: How to work smart with your agency recruiter

NOTE: You are not the agency recruiter’s client ~ the hiring company is. You’re paying your recruiter zero dollars. Please don’t be that candidate who expects their recruiter to do everything. They’re not your agent, though a good and well-connected recruiter will often act as one for a top-notch candidate.

  • Unless you have sought-after skills (and even if you do), collaborate. Stay in touch (find out from your recruiter how often is appropriate). Ask about positions you’ve seen on the agency’s ‘opportunities’ page. Mention jobs you’ve seen posted on companies’ Careers pages to see if they’ve got a lead in.
    DO NOT APPLY TO THE POSITION FIRST AND THEN ASK YOUR AGENCY RECRUITER FOR HELP ‘GETTING IN FRONT OF THE HIRING MANAGER’. Once you apply to a role directly, the agency cannot represent you at that company.
  • Give back: offer to help your recruiter by tapping your network, by introducing them to potential candidates, etc. If you’re a hiring manager who needs help filling a job on your team and you can use a search firm / agency, your recruiter should be your first call.
  • Don’t be needy. Calling for daily updates or expecting your recruiter to fix your resume / LinkedIn profile is asking too much.
  • Slow down a bit and ask questions, especially as you get close to an offer. It’s your future. Here is where an unscrupulous recruiter (who’s getting paid to place you) might not be 100% forthcoming. If you have niggling doubts, address them. Ask for a final phone call with the hiring manager or HR if you’re not clear on things. Better safe than sorry.
  • You can work with different agency recruiters. However, you cannot (generally) be represented by more than one agency to the same company (even for jobs in other departments) within the same 6-12 month period. Once your resume is inside the company, that’s the agency who’ll get the fee if you’re hired.

A longstanding relationship with a trusted recruiter provides a lens into the marketplace, even when you’re not looking. As with any relationship, it needs attention, care and feeding.

Consider it an investment in your craft to have a good recruiter on speed dial.

I use my agency- and corporate recruiting experience to help mid-career job seekers.
Got questions? Here’s a link to my calendar for a free 15-minute Q&A. Don’t be shy.

 

 

Red Flags in Job Opportunities

a cautionary tale + some real world advice

A story I’ve heard more than once: a posting for the perfect job appears. You apply. Astonishingly, you get a call and an interview request shortly thereafter. You go in. The office is gorgeous. The people seem to be exactly the kind you’d like to work for (and with). After the requisite number of interviews, they tell you an offer is forthcoming.

You’re elated ~ this came together so effortlessly! It seems like a great next step. You’re ready to give notice and climb aboard this new train.

Is this the real thing? Or is it too good to be true? Of course you do your research, like reading Glassdoor reviews.

What constitutes a red flag? Here are the most-common:

  • You didn’t meet or talk with your new leader or future peers (true story!).
  • The reason the position is open is vague or hasn’t been explained to your satisfaction.
  • You’re not a senior leader or C-level exec, but you’re asked to come in for an inordinate number of interviews (>3).
  • You’re going to be in a leadership role, but your request to meet with your future team without your prospective leader in the room is denied.
  • There isn’t a clear set of measurable expectations for your success (ie: “If we fast forward 3-6 months, what should I have accomplished in order to be on track?”).
  • The offer, the position, the speed with which it all came together is amazing, but you still have this niggling feeling that there’s something you’re not being told.
  • OR things move quickly at first, but then drag out for weeks or months, with a lot of unexplained communication gaps.
  • The salary is okay but the bonus potential is fantastic. However, they can’t quite come up with the track record for bonus payouts, confirm when bonuses are paid or describe the parameters / requirements for qualifying.
  • There’s disturbing press about the company or negative word on the street. You inquire, but your interview team is not forthcoming about what’s being done to address it or fix the problem.
  • You ask about the company’s mission / vision and the C-level exec says, “I guess we’d better get one.”
Some general guidelines for your due diligence:
  • Meet with 360 degrees (subordinates, peers, leaders). Extra credit if you have friends on the inside and/or vendors with a trustworthy lens into the company (ie. do they pay their bills?)
  • Get a satisfactory answer for why the position’s open, especially if there have been several people in the role within the last few years.
  • Know what will be expected of you. Corollary: make sure your leadership is invested in your success.
  • Trust your gut. If you have doubts, slow down and find out why.
  • If the bonus is a large part of the compensation, know what you need to do to achieve it and what the payment history has been.

None of these red flags mean you should automatically decline an offer. They ARE indicators that you need more data. Asking too many questions during the interview process makes some folks uncomfortable ~ they worry that their chances of being hired will be clipped.

You’re vetting your future company to the same degree that they’re vetting you. If you can’t satisfy your curiosity without getting kicked to the curb, is this a place you want to work?

And…what other opportunities are you letting go of for this one?

Questions are good.
Red flags can also be good.

Answers are better. Get them before you make big decisions.

 

I use my recruiting + writing experience to help mid-career professionals better-define
their professional brand.

Curious? Let’s talk.

Here’s a link to schedule a 15-minute, no-strings-attached call.

I got an introduction. Now what? 

Some thoughts on how to bridge the (awkward) gap.

“What do I do when someone in my network DOES make an introduction?”

Someone asked this recently. She was in a bit of a panic, wondering how to behave, what to say, and of course, whether she’d actually get to interview for the job she wants so badly.

A couple of suggestions:

If it’s an email introduction

You have a friend in the biz who graciously sends a joint introductory email to you and the person you’re trying to connect with (if they’re a really good friend and they know the person well, they also circle back a week or so later to make sure the connection was actually consummated).

The email you send to both people (your friend and the new contact) could read something like this:

Hi, X, thanks so much for the introduction!

Hello, Y,

It’s nice to v-meet you! I’ve gotten great intel on <your company> from several sources. It seems like an amazing place to be right now. When X mentioned he knows you, I asked for an introduction.

What works best? A call or a quick coffee near your office? It’d be great to have an opportunity to visit with you.

Warmly,
<your name>

Keep it short & simple, warm but dignified (you’re not desperate). You can mention the job you’ve spotted (if there is one), but don’t make it the sole focus of your email. Focus first on making the connection.

Please don’t be that person who says they’re “the perfect fit for the job.”  Don’t regurgitate your resume. Focus on the company more than the opportunity ~ who knows, maybe they’ve already gotten to final interviews on this job but there’s another one in the wings.

If it’s in person:

I learned early on at Robert Half that I could invite someone I knew to invite someone THEY knew for a joint coffee or lunch. Having that middle person who knows both parties takes a lot of the awkwardness away. Ask your connection if they’d do that for you.

If you end up meeting your new connection on your own, do a little research ahead of time so you can come up with a topic or two. Hello, LinkedIn. Maybe you’re both interested volunteer work, or you attended the same university.

Another idea: you can cold-call someone in the company (maybe someone in a role similar to the one you’re currently doing) and invite them to lunch. Coffee works too.

Be candid about the reason for your gesture. Say something like “I’d really like to learn more about your company, because it seems like you guys are solving some interesting problems” / “I’d like to be part of an innovative company” / “I like your company’s community involvement. I’m interested in being a part of a company like that.”

I think it’s important to identify with the WHY first (ie. why this company?). The job you spotted (if there is one) comes second.

Let the person get to know you a bit rather than lunging at the job. If they become an advocate, you’ve made progress toward ALL potential jobs. If you get so focused on this one position, you miss the opportunity to bond a bit. Take your time. Slow down a little.

Ask good questions: “What made you decide to join?” “What’s your biggest challenge been?” “What suggestions do you have for me?” “Do you have influence over this position?” “Is there anyone else you think I should chat with?”

Focus on the person you’re meeting. Be curious about the company. You’re doing research, not zeroing in for the kill.  Be helpful if you can.

Do this in a genuine way and follow through with a genuine thank you afterwards.  With practice, it’ll soon feel more natural. I promise.

I help mid-careerists better-tell their professional story.
Leverage my recruiting & writing experience (it’s like having the IRS prepare your taxes).

Here’s a link to schedule a 15-minute, no-obligation intro call.

Need a Fast Start?

a Recruiter’s Advice for Today’s Job Search


Are you arriving on the search scene after a hiatus?  Some of my clients have spent a decade or more with their companies (some thought they’d spend their whole career there).  It’s easy to get focused on day-to-day life, with job+family overriding networking.

If you suddenly find yourself on the brink of a job change, these guidelines will help:

evaluate Your Professional Brand
  • Get help with your resume & LinkedIn profile from a savvy friend or a professional. Putting your best (digital) foot forward is super important, not only for your brand, but also for your confidence.
  • Spend some R&D time reviewing job postings (LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor). Figure out where your skill set fits. Job titles have evolved over the past 10 years.
  • Take an objective look at your appearance: do you need a more-current set of specs / haircut / interviewing clothes? I know of one outplacement coach who advises his clients to drop 5 pounds as a confidence-builder.
get active on Social Media (LinkedIn)
  • More R&D: comb through LinkedIn to find former leaders & co-workers. Invite them to connect with you (if you aren’t already).
  • Change your LinkedIn visibility status to ‘open to opportunities’ so recruiters can find you. But don’t stop there:
  • If you’ve ignored LinkedIn (you’re not alone!), make it a daily practice to ‘like’ things that are professionally relevant. If you really like them, add a comment and/or ‘share’ them to your network.
fire up your Networking
  • Think about where your next leader (or someone who knows her/him) might be found. Go there. Use Meetup.com to find professional events in your area of specialty. Attend regularly.
  • Get out for coffee / breakfast / lunch as often as you can. Invite former co-workers, people you’d like to know better, a recruiter or two (do your homework).
  • Regularly look for job postings (LinkedIn, Indeed, company Careers pages) that fit. BEFORE you apply, go to LinkedIn to see if you have a 1st degree connection at that company. If you do, ask them whether they’d be willing to promote you to the hiring manager / talent acquisition.
  • Don’t be a serial monogamist job seeker: have multiple lines in the water at any given time. This will help you from getting too attached to one opportunity.
  • Be curious about people you’re meeting outside work (at church, the gym, kids’ events, sporting events, volunteer activities). Find out what they do, where they work. If it’s appropriate, mention your job search. And connect with them on LinkedIn!
  • In addition to targeting a job / job title, talk to people to learn where the interesting problems (that you can help solve) are. Companies are growing, transforming, being born. Tap your growing network to find them.

It’s a brave new world out here in job hunt land. Social media has truly shifted the landscape. The old ‘apply and wait for a call’ doesn’t work. LinkedIn connections (the real kind) are golden , and it’s easier than ever to peer inside companies. There are even tools to help us assess cultures.

Here’s a quick article on bias-proofing your professional brand.

Looking for some help refining (or de-fining) your professional brand? I can help.
Here’s a link to my calendar to set up a no-obligation intro call.

Be (a little) Charming

6 Recruiter-Tested Tips for standing out

A handful of the people I get to interview absolutely shine. What are their secrets? Amazingly, it boils down to using a little charm ~ taking authentic interest in both the job opportunity and the people with whom they’re interviewing.

what they do differently:

  1. They use their manners (please & thank you, and they’re on time).
  2. They do their research. Not just the superficial kind, like what the company does and its revenue numbers. These people have a ready answer for WHY they want to work here. You can too: Google ‘press releases’ & follow threads. Look at Glassdoor. Review the company’s LinkedIn profile. See who you know that works there. Check out key leaders (in addition to the ones you’re meeting).

    The best-prepared candidate I ever had the pleasure of interviewing did this: she aligned her desire to work for an innovative company with specific data and examples of what my employer has been doing to innovate. She was well-prepared, articulate, asked great questions, and wasn’t afraid to laugh a bit.

    She was a knockout, and we hired her from overseas on the basis of a couple of really great calls. Whether it’s on the phone or in person, take a genuine interest in the person (people) you’re talking to.

    My star candidate noted that I love to travel, an interest she shares. Review your interviewers’ LinkedIn profile(s) before you speak with them. See if you have common connections or interests.

  3. They ask good questions in the interview (because they are also interviewing the company, in a charming and gracious way).
  4. If it’s a phone interview, they answer the call like they would at work (ie. an energetic ‘Hi, this is x’).I’m amazed at how many people answer the phone FOR A SCHEDULED INTERVIEW with ‘Hello’? They know it’s going to be an interview, and still they sound like they were sleeping when they picked up.Also, stand up for the first part of your phone interview. You’ll automatically sound more compelling. And SMILE once in awhile ~ people can hear it.
  5. They treat whoever’s at the front desk kindly. At Robert Half, I used to ask our receptionist how people treated her. You’d be amazed at how many weren’t very nice. When I pick someone up from the front to take them to their interview, I notice when they remember to say ‘thank you’ to our receptionist.Also (this is so common-sense I almost didn’t include it, except it happened again this week): KNOW your interviewer’s first and last names so the front desk doesn’t need to figure out who you’re there to see.True ‘from the front’ recruiting story: a leadership candidate came in yesterday to interview. She asked for‘Scott’.  No last name. Don’t be that person.
  6. They follow up with a well-crafted ‘thank you’ email referencing something unique ~ maybe a shared laugh from the interview or a common interest that popped up. Send it within 24 hours. Keep it short, sweet, and relevant.

Put each of these tips into practice.
you’LL stand out, too!

Wondering how to polish your professional brand?
Here’s a link to my calendar for a free 15-minute brainstorming session.

 

Is there a ‘hiring season’?

Minnesotans appreciate warm weather, especially after (the long. dark. cold.) winter. Which just ended. 

We spend as much warm weather time as we can … outdoors.

Oh, you do this in winter too? Sure you do.  In winter, I still spend time outside daily (I own four horses that need care, plus I love to ski). But it’s not the summertime dallying-until-dark-at-10pm.

Which brings two (seasonal) points to mind:
  1. Is there an optimal time to launch a job search?
  2. Summer: the art of not doing much

I’ve noticed distinct cycles to hiring activity (exception: software developers, who can waggle an eyebrow and get swarmed). How quickly things move depend on budgets (funded) and managers (in the office + able to interview) and need (definite).

For us non-developers, the hiring seasons look like this:

January: New budgets are being  finalized and released. Once everyone’s back in the office after the holiday hiring doldrums, activity resumes. A very good time to launch your search.

February-March-April-May-June: There’s plenty of hiring activity; budgets are plentiful and new initiatives need to be staffed. Another good time to be active in your job search.

July-August: Activity slows: summer vacations and in August, people are getting kids ready for school. Not a great time to launch your search;

September – October – early November: Once school is back in session, hiring activity picks up and continues steadily until Thanksgiving (or until budgets run out, whichever comes first). A good time to be looking, as long as there’s still budget;

Thanksgiving – end of December: Probably the worst time to launch a job search.  Hiring activity grinds to a halt as budgets are depleted and holiday season hits.

So there ARE optimal times to launch your search (unless you’re not working, in which case every season is a necessary one). If you’ve interviewed and haven’t heard anything, check the calendar: the season may be the reason.

Summertime, especially July and August, is probably the worst time to launch a job search.

Rather than being frustrated, hold off! Enjoy the warm weather and longer days. Spend time with family and friends. The people you want to connect with aren’t thinking about hiring, not really. They’re vacationing and getting kids ready for school.

Keep networking & exploring, always, but reserve your mightier efforts for fall (or the new year).

 

 

Is it the season to rebrand your professional self? Need some guidance?
I can help. Here’s a link to my calendar for a 15-minute, no strings conversation.

Wait…Job-Hunting is Like DATING?

How to deal with stuck
(because sometimes it feels like it’ll last forever)

Have you ever been doing everything right in a job search and then suddenly and for no apparent reason things came to a screeching halt?

You got your resume & LinkedIn profile all spiffed up, discreetly let a few friends and former co-workers know you were on the market. You found great jobs & applied to them. Had an interview or two, maybe even the promise of an offer. Things were going great. “What’s all the fuss?” you wondered, “This is easy!”

And then, ghosted.

It happens without warming: a search that’s humming along nicely goes silent. Nobody replies to emails (or worse, you get an inane hard-to-interpret reply). Offers are stalled, all activity just STOPS for no reason.

It can be freaky.  Because Waiting is the Worst.

You want to know what you did wrong. Did the market change and now the job’s being done by robots? Naturally, you want to DO something to end the torture and shake things loose.

This probably won’t surprise you, but job hunting is a lot like DATING: it’s designed to rattle you to your core (kidding, not kidding).

But seriously
  1. Don’t take it personally. Stuck happens. Sometimes it has zero to do with you. Hiring is important, but when a company has an ‘all hands on deck’, candidate interviews are the first thing to get pushed back.  So maybe it’s not you, it’s them.
  2. Walk away for a bit. Cosmically, detaching makes you mysterious and alluring. Oh, wait, that’s dating. Well, it’s also true for job-hunting: something magical happens when you stop pushing.
  3. Date around. Give your mission a little time off (you’ll know when you’re ready to get back to it, because your curiosity and enthusiasm will return).
  4. Once you’re not feeling even the slightest bit pissed off or stuck, take a tiny step forward. Do something silly, like applying for a job you’d never consider: zookeeper or barista or dog park attendant.

    See, you have to show yourself it’s not all that heavy and serious. Like “Tag, you’re it”, then you let it go. Forget about it. A playful touch is super important. Like in dating, “I’m interested, but I don’t NEED you.”

  5. Repeat. And keep having fun, staying curious, not being in a rush.
  6. Remind yourself you have valuable skills and that things always work out: yup, even when there seems to be no movement.
    Because you do, and they do.

Those are arugula sprouts, by the way. I love arugula. You know what else? Seeds take time to germinate. Just like the efforts you’re putting into your search (or dating).

We get tons of social cues to push on (damn Puritan work ethic). So it’s not your fault for wanting to muscle through.

But for god’s sake, when you’re stuck, take a break, will you? PS. you’re not really stopping, you’re just pausing. You’re resting a bit to let things unfold in the best possible way.

 

Does your professional brand need some love? Here’s a link to my calendar for a free 15-minute intro conversation.

 

Because Hope is Not a (Job Hunting) Strategy

The old ‘post-and-pray’ model (where Talent Acquisition publishes a job on the company ‘Careers’ page and HOPES that the right candidate applies) doesn’t work well.

We still post, of course, but we’re also reaching out to candidates and actively recruiting them.

‘Apply-and-pray’, the job seeker’s equivalent to ‘post-and-pray’, doesn’t work well either (unless you’re a mid-level developer). You might get lucky if you’re one of the early applicants. But especially at manager- and director-levels, your resume might not even get read unless you’re in the first wave.

I think the way we go about finding a new job needs to evolve.

That’s where marketing steps in.

You’ve heard of marketing campaigns, right? Companies create and run a series of visibility-raising programs to launch new products or to sell more of something.

In other words, while ‘apply-and-pray’ is a possible method (except, hope is not a strategy), there are other more-proactive (and interesting) routes to take.

Here are three:

  1. Create your professional brand 

Which problems do you most often get asked to solve? What kind of work do you love doing (and get paid for, of course)? Where are you happiest and most effective? What are you known for? How do you want to be known?

Are your resume and LinkedIn profile aligned and accurate? Do they clearly showcase your talents & accomplishments?

Once you’ve got your professional brand nailed (and you don’t need to do this with me), TAKING ACTION is important.

Because otherwise, you’re just putting yourself on a shelf and WAITING.

  1. Decide how you’ll market / promote yourself. 

You can do this in lots of ways:

  • Work with a trusted agency recruiter who’ll leverage their relationships (and credibility) to connect you with the decision-maker (but beware: the fees charged by agencies can be a barrier);
  • Find and nurture connections who have relationships with decision-makers inside the company(ies) you’re looking to join;
  • Develop a relationship with the company’s talent acquisition recruiter who can connect you with the decision-maker (best to do this far ahead of need);
  • Get out there in the world and meet new people;
  • Ask how you can help others (really!);
  • Offer your expertise and opinions (by mentoring, publishing LinkedIn articles or blogging, volunteering, attending industry events and workshops);
  • Change your LinkedIn status to ‘open to opportunities’ (passive, but helpful);
  • Participate regularly in ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ relevant LinkedIn posts (especially those posted by people you’re trying to get to know)
  1. Settle in…this is a campaign

Campaigns are not flash-in-the-pan, do-it-for-a-coupla-weeks strategies. Companies, PACs, the military, and political candidates devote significant chunks of time to them.

This requires consistency, courage, and curiosity. But being visible is a worthwhile practice even when you’re not actively job seeking.

Instead of networking in a burst to find a new job, think of networking as part of your career responsibilities.

Decide to participate in the larger community and make new contacts AT ALL LEVELS regularly. Connect with them in a meaningful way, and of course, nurture your LinkedIn network.

I’ve worked with some job seekers who relish marketing themselves & networking, and others who dread it. Guess which ones land sooner? Guess which ones feel more confident in their futures?

I’ve been taking an informal poll, asking every single (former) job seeker how they found their new role.

And do you know what? 99% said they got connected through someone they knew.

 

Need a jump-start on your professional brand? Let’s chat! Here’s a link to my calendar for a free 15 minute no-strings intro call.

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