Welcome to 2013! It is refreshing to enter into a New Year of hope and prospect. This is especially true since 7.8 percent of unemployment numbers remained unchanged by December 2012, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regardless, it is in our best interest to stay optimistic by continuing to strive for job opportunities that will not only provide us with a livelihood, but also a significant amount of personal satisfaction. Yet, how do we tactfully stay on a recruiter’s radar, and have them remember us even when the last interaction didn’t result in a job offer? Well, we know how the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind,” and with such steep competition, we can’t afford to get lost in the shuffle. As my New Year’s gift to you, the following “Forget-me-not” ways are the five I’ve encountered as effective in maintaining a positive rapport with recruiters. Developing a “healthy” on-going relationship with decision-makers will often lead to reconsideration, and finally a bona fide job offer.
1. Handwrite Notes and Cards
In this techno-saturated job seeking age, a handwritten note may seem as archaic as watching black and white television. Trust me—it’s not. Finding the right stationary, writing instrument, gathering your thoughts, writing a compelling message, addressing the envelope, placing a stamp, and finally delivering it to a mailbox takes effort, and that effort can often move you across the finish line. First of all, your competition is not taking the time to do this. They’re too busy looking at the job sites and company portals, but you—you MUST strive to be different. Well-written, classically presented mail correspondence says a lot about your attention to detail, your initiative, and your finesse.
2. Acknowledge a Noteworthy Event
Social media gives us an exceptional advantage to learn information about recruiters that they choose to share through outlets such as Linkedin. Follow a recruiter’s progress, and acknowledge their promotion or new job. They may be in a better position to hire you in their new role. In addition, make note of special occasions such as birthdays or the anniversary of their tenure at their current company. Don’t worry, you’re not stalking. It’s public information. I for one, am a big birthday person, and welcome genuine celebratory messages of all sorts on…oh…well I’ll leave it up to you to look up the date.
3. Use the Six Degrees of Separation Theory
Popularized by John Guare’s play which premiered in 1990, and “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” the “Six Degrees of Separation” theory is one that places everyone six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world. Thus, a “friend of a friend” chain can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. Using this principle, you may be able to connect the recruiter with a viable candidate for a position completely unrelated to the type of job you are after. What’s the benefit? You identify yourself as a reliable asset for the recruiter, and you become a trusted member of their ‘go-to’ resource group. In addition, you will be helping the friend or acquaintance seeking a new opportunity. Nothing like a little bit of good karma; and you will certainly not be forgotten for your good deed.
4. Link, “Like,” Subscribe, or Follow
With so many social media outlets to stay fresh on a recruiter’s mind, choose one or several of such platforms to remain actively connected. Linkedin is my #1 social media site to “link” myself to any recruiter or business contact. Perhaps, they (or you) have a specialty page on FaceBook, and you can “like” one another, or you may opt to subscribe to the public posts on their personal FB page (so you don’t feel like you are infringing on their privacy). Through Twitter you may choose to “retweet” or “favorite” a recruiter’s job postings or any other valuable information in order to become an ambassador of the message they’re looking to convey.
5. Join a Mutual Online Networking Group
Chances are that if you are looking for a job in the finance or accounting sectors, the recruiter who has interviewed you at such a company is interested in groups within the same field(s). Become an active contributor of a group you may both have in common, and wow the recruiter (and other recruiters) by sharing interesting, witty, and/or thought-provoking commentary online. This provides a new and different forum for you to voice your opinions and distinguish yourself as an expert in your field. Beware of coming across as too opinionated or self-righteous. It will have an adverse effect. Instead, be diplomatic, concise, and most of all likable in your virtual presentation.
Remember to be patiently persistent…and you will not be forgotten. Make 2013 the year of change for the better. Good luck!
You’ve spent weeks researching potential hiring companies, fine-tuning your résumé, and mentally preparing yourself for the interview challenge. You’ve quickly realized that the “dates” are not happening as often as they once did. Then an e-mail arrives from a Human Resources Director—not a Manager—a Director inviting you to interview for just the type of position you’ve been looking for. You’re so there, and your mind is saying, “This job IS mine!” After all, you’ve got the experience, the credentials, the degree(s), plus extra certifications to boot. The interview day is here and you are pumped. Yet, inexplicably your chances of landing the job are quickly deflated before you even set foot inside the interview room. Were you mistaken for a similar candidate? Has the job been put on hold? Why does the recruiter seem so lukewarm on you before you’ve even had a chance to ‘strut’ your stuff?
Commonly, recruiters and hiring managers become privy to clues you inadvertently display during the pre-interview stage—raising suspicion as to the type of employee you would be (if you were hired). When such “questionable” behavior is exhibited, there is little (if any) chance of turning it around. So before you go on your next job interview, prevent yourself from making one or more of these ten blunders, which quite possibly could end your interview before it begins.
1. Risqué Social Media Profiles/Photos: The first thing corporate and executive recruiters do these days after they’ve identified a viable candidate online is to look at their social media profile. Sometimes recruiters will wait to take a quick peek at your social media profile/photo right before they greet you in the reception area (so that it’s fresh in their mind). A client took a pass on a “stellar” candidate who had recently added on Facebook that she “loved smoking pot and taking bi-swings every once in a while.” The candidate had also uploaded a new profile photo of her weekend partying while snuggling suggestively against a bottle of Bud Light. We were lucky not to lose the client, but the candidate lost the job opportunity.
2. Inappropriate Dress: Job seekers will often under-dress, over-dress, or partially-dress for the interview and those are definite reasons why they don’t land the job. Under-dressing in skimpy outfits, over-dressing in sequined “Saturday Date-Night Wear,” or partially-dressing and finishing up in the reception area (change shoes outside) are sure indicators of your poor judgment. Even if you’re interviewing within a creative environment or in 90 degree weather, flaunting your cleavage, shoulders, bare legs, and toes may be more than the recruiter wants to see and they certainly don’t need you as the office trend-setter.
3. Rude to the receptionist: If you are rude to my receptionist, I know you will be rude to me, clients, fellow employees, etc. Rude is rude! There is no combating such impoliteness. You may want to unload your frustrations on the receptionist, but front desk receptionists are the eyes and ears of a company. News travels fast in an interoffice e-mail from the receptionist to the Human Resources Director alerting him/her that the candidate he/she is about to see is ill-mannered and brash. So be particularly respectful and gracious to the receptionist—he or she has more input on your candidacy than you think.
4. Neglecting to bring a résumé: If I hear one more job candidate use the “I want to save trees” excuse for not bringing a résumé with them I’m going to lose it. Of all the lame excuses for not being diligent enough to supply a recruiter with a résumé, this is the one that most gets my blood boiling. You want to save a tree so you put me through the trouble of printing a copy of your résumé (making me endanger a tree)? It comes across as neglectful and/or forgetful—qualities not highly regarded in the workplace. Let me make this perfectly clear. Even if you have e-mailed your résumé electronically, refrain from making the assumption that the recruiter will have it handy to refer to it during your live interview. It is recommended that you bring between 5-10 copies of your résumé on every interview.
5. Refusing to fill out an application: Nothing screams “BAD ATTITUDE” as much as refusing to fill out a job application/questionnaire. When you write “See Résumé” instead of filling out the information that is being asked of you, you are basically saying that you dislike complying with rules, like to make your own, or you’re just plain lazy. Personally, that is the “writing on the wall” for future arrogant behavior.
6. Punctuality (arriving either more than 15 minutes early or late): You may think that arriving to a job interview 30 minutes early earns you brownie points, but this is not the case. If you arrive more than 15 minutes earlier than your scheduled time you may be perceived as overly aggressive, desperate, or as someone who is not in high demand. If you are travelling from far away and you do arrive extra early (and want to use the restroom and fix yourself up), ask the receptionist not to announce your early arrival. Still, that doesn’t guarantee that he/she will follow your instructions, and your premature arrival might be announced anyway. If you are going to be more than 5 minutes late, you must call. Expect a rescheduled interview or waiting for the recruiter’s next time slot.
7. Accepting/initiating cell phone conversations in the reception area: Keep your babysitting issues, boyfriend troubles, and other interview appointments under wraps. If you must make a phone call or accept an urgent call excuse yourself from the reception area. Make a point of being discreet. You are being watched and listened to before your official interview begins. In fact, your official interview starts when you enter the office building’s lobby and elevators (especially when there are cameras that can be played back).
8. Rescheduling an interview more than once: Emergencies do happen, but typically not more than once during one interviewing cycle. If something pressing in your life comes up where you must reschedule an interview, make sure you wait until the situation has cleared before you put it back on the calendar (even if it means losing out on that particular opportunity). The recruiter will appreciate your respect for his/her busy work schedule. Deferring an interview appointment more than once makes you seem unreliable and flippant about your interest in the company and the position.
9. Social awkwardness: Big “WARNING” signs go up for being socially awkward. Some of the most common social awkwardness faux pas I’m warned about by my receptionist (“on the DL”) are: nervous laughter, fidgeting, close-talking, self-talking, and self-touching. Refusing to hang up your overcoat, unloading a wet umbrella or saying “no” to a glass of water may also come across as ungracious and awkward. My recommendation on the glass of water is to always say “yes” even if you’re not thirsty. It makes you seem amenable to a kind gesture and water is both cooling and relaxing for your nerves. A side note to this suggestion: avoid popping meds with your water.
10. Bringing a buddy along for support: This is such a no-no! You wouldn’t believe how many people go on interviews with a roommate, parent, husband, baby, out-of-town guest, or parole officer (that one I sort of understood) and it is absolutely an interview killer. If you don’t have the sense and/or confidence to go on a job interview without a sidekick, then maybe you’re not ready for a lot of other challenges the work environment will present. You want to come across as an independent individual rather than one who relies on co-dependency. Coming with your baby in a carriage says you do not have the right childcare system in place and you may therefore come to work with your child on a regular basis (unproductive for an employer).
Avoid shooting yourself in the foot before you even get that foot in the interview room. Carefully assess your pre-interview actions and behavioral choices—factors that weigh in to your candidacy as much (or more so) than your professional qualifications, education, recommendations, and affiliations.
The February issue of Harper’s Bazaar is profiling fashion designer, Vera Wang (age 61) showing off her sleek physique in a strapless swim suit and stiletto heels. Michelle Pfeiffer still lights up the screen as she turns 50 during the filming of ‘Cheri’ as an “ageing” courtesan in the novel by Collette. Goldie Hawn (age 63) shares her age-defying secrets as a guest on Dr. Oz, still flaunting her girlish figure and smile. Madonna (age 53) is scheduled to dazzle Super Bowl XLVI viewers with an electrifying and show-stopping half-time performance. What do all of these “high-in-demand” enterprising women have in common? They possess the best of both worlds: they have the years of experience to deem them legends, yet their image remains timeless and appealing to multi-generational audiences/consumers. As a result of remaining “Ageless,” these women continue to be as employable and sought-after as ever. You don’t need to be a celebrity to implement golden rules that will keep you at the top of the list for a new job, promotion, or high profile project regardless of your age. In fact, keep the powers that be guessing and in awe of just how much knowledge you possess at the tender age of ? ?.
Apply the following golden rules for evergreen success in the workforce.
1. Stay fit: I write from experience when I tell you that by incorporating better eating habits and exercise into my life, my silhouette went from that of a 45+ year-old woman to that of a less than 35 year-old-woman. Over an 18-month period, I lost 25 lbs. by making definite lifestyle modifications; no ice cream or potato chips during late night writing and at least an hour of exercise per day. There are discrepancies among experts as far as what the minimal amount of exercise is needed to become fit; so I can only tell you what worked for me. Be sure to seek nutritional and physical fitness expertise to determine what works for you. Believe me, your body will thank you for it and will reward you by taking years off your physical appearance while increasing your stamina for those hectic days at the office when it’s hard to catch your breath.
2. Stay Informed: Stay at the top of your game and ‘in the know’ about current events, especially those that pertain to your industry. The last thing you need is for your boss or client to make reference to some new development in your field that you know nothing about. Sign up for Google alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts) on topics that keep you in the loop regardless of how much time you have to read. Sometimes all you need is the headlines to help you through a “fake it ‘til you make it” conversation.
3. Stay on Trend: I can’t stress this enough as we all tend to be creatures of habit. Go through fashion magazines and tear out photos of looks you like. Imagine yourself in those looks. Then, tape the magazine pages around your bedroom or bathroom and begin to audit your wardrobe and makeup inventory. You might surprise yourself as far as how much you already own to create those looks. Otherwise, make a list and write down what you need to fill-in the blanks in your stock. There are times when staying on trend just means taking something that’s been wasting away in your closet and giving it new life with a simple styling tip.
4. Stay Private: I was given this advice when I was in my twenties (not so long ago) and it has stayed with me—though I don’t always practice it. Nonetheless, I will share this advice with you. A very senior female executive at a major investment bank once shared with me that her secret to being timeless while moving up the corporate ladder was to “stay private.” She advised me to stay private about birthdays (I never follow this one), marital status, children (particularly their ages and activities) and keep socializing with colleagues to a minimum. She felt very strongly about maintaining privacy in the workplace and attributed much of her success to doing so.
5. Stay Motivated: One of my favorite quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson says it all, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” It is so difficult to stay motivated and excited about a job that may not exactly be your dream job, but sulking about it will only put a frown on your face; making you look 5-10 years older. Follow a spark at the end of what might seem like an endless dark tunnel by thinking about things in your life that motivate you to be excited. Before you know it, your mood will begin to change and positive energy will kick into gear. An open-tooth smile will soon follow—making you look happy—that’s timeless.
6. Stay True: One of the benefits to experiencing life is that you’ve learned (through trial and error) about the things you like and the things you dislike. You’ve discovered what’s made you happy in the past and what’s made you miserable. The days of peer pressure are hopefully behind you and now it’s about staying true to yourself. In doing so, you will feel liberated, exhilarated, and you will exude a ‘youthful’ aura about yourself.
7. Stay Open-Minded: Ever hear the saying, “Can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” Well, staying set in your ways, unwilling to learn new things and new approaches will absolutely make you seem, “old.” Shake things up for yourself and listen to that free (optional) teleseminar or webinar while completing administrative tasks. Open yourself up to using new software, upgrade your cell phone, text instead of e-mail (even if just once), or opt for online bill-paying instead of snail mail. Project an open-minded image. Employers, clients and colleagues will in turn reciprocate with an open-minded vision of you.
It happens every January of every New Year. We make a time-consuming list of resolutions (usually the same ones from the prior year) and by the third week in January, we gradually go back to our old ways. In fact, by the time March rolls around, we can’t even remember our top 5 New Year’s Resolutions unless we go back to the place where they were once faithfully written down. My theory on keeping resolutions is to tie them to an aspect of our life that is meaningful, such as our health, wealth, relationship, or career. Keeping each resolution simple and with a clear purpose is essential. Opt for a collection of small resolutions to accomplish one result in order to keep them from seeming insurmountable.
Today, I’ll share a cluster of 5 easy-to-keep New Year’s resolutions to help you spark, sustain, and succeed in your career. Remember—they’re short and sweet— but collectively they will have a long-lasting effect not only on this year’s career achievements, but on your career success for years to come.
1. Organize Your Closet:
An organized closet is essential for job seekers and those of us who want to succeed in our careers. Think of all the time and brain cells you’ll save in the morning if you don’t have to give what you are wearing that day a second thought. Also, when your closet is organized you’ll be inspired to add accessories and coordinate outfits that are more interesting and intricate— all portraying a more upscale and sophisticated image of yourself.
2. Wash Your Hair the Night Before:
Bad hair mornings are the source of much anxiety in the morning, missed trains, and lateness for meetings and interviews. Washing your hair in the evening not only frees up time for you in the morning, but massaging your scalp before you go to bed will aid in a more pleasant and restful night’s sleep. You will feel more alert in the morning and ready to take on even the most difficult of bosses or work challenges. In addition, hair that’s been washed the night before has less static and is less slippery for styling. Use the extra time you’d normally spend fussing with your hair in the morning to plan and strategize your day’s work.
3. Go Into Your Archive of Friends & Acquaintances:
We tend to be creatures of habit. We eat the same things, wear the same things, and reach out to the same people. We stay within our comfort zones just because it feels safe. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn and grow by reaching out to more than the same five friends you’ve called within the past year. Go through your holiday cards (both personal and professional) and make a stack of people who you haven’t seen face-to-face in a year. Reach out to at least five people every month throughout this year: that’s sixty “new” people who can feed leads and information to help propel your career or job search.
4. Reward Yourself Without Breaking the Bank:
The holiday season can really be a rat race to send cards, bake cookies, entertain, shop, and wrap presents until wee hour of the night. Feeling depleted will absolutely show on your face and in your performance at work. So it’s important to pamper and reward yourself in ways that will invigorate you without breaking the bank. A simple manicure ($10-$12 + tip) will restore your nails and cuticles post holiday cooking and gift-wrapping. Treat yourself to an at-home aroma therapy bath and spa night after kids and/or significant other have gone to sleep. Indulge with a friend, co-worker, or partner on breakfast, coffee/tea, or after-dinner dessert instead of lunch and dinner—meals which tend to be more expensive social dining options.
5. Be Genuinely Open to Change:
Yes, we desire change. We hope for change. But are we really genuinely open and ready to change? Embrace small changes that will collectively make a difference to the big picture in your life. Choose colors, patterns, and textures in your wardrobe that you may have overlooked in the past. Change your walking or driving route to work, even if it means walking on the other side of the street. Change your lipstick color or the handbag you’ve neglected to clean out all year. Even these small changes will influence you to have an extra little hop in your step. That extra bit of positive energy is sure to fuel your disposition at work. An upbeat disposition is often rewarded with bonuses, promotions or other types of recognition in the workplace.
Make 2012 the year of your career!