Questions and Answers with Career Expert Cheryl Palmer
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Cheryl Palmer is a certified executive career coach, a certified professional resume writer, and president of Call to Career, a career coaching and resume writing firm.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||From your observations and experience, just how tough is the job market today? How can job-seekers achieve success and stand out from the crowd in such a competitive market?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Today’s job market is much more competitive than it has been in many decades. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the ratio of job-seekers to jobs is 4.7 to 1. Given this reality, job-seekers need to employ creative job-search methods to get an employer’s attention. They also need top-notch job-search tools such as a well-written resume, polished interview skills, and confidence in the salary-negotiation process.
One job-search method that can help job-seekers stand out is using a social-media site like LinkedIn and optimizing their profiles with the proper keywords to attract employers to their profiles. Recruiters regularly search LinkedIn for their perfect candidates, so having an optimized profile that is also well-presented is a must.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||How has social media impacted the field of career development?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||Social media has transformed the career landscape. It is an effective career-management tool as well as a job-search tool. Individuals can use this tool to stay in touch with professionals in their fields as well as grow their networks. Social media is a great way to reach out to thought leaders who might otherwise be inaccessible. And it is also a way to attract employers and land a new position. In many cases, job-seekers can directly contact hiring managers in a way that was not possible prior to the advent of social media.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||We hear increasingly from job-seekers about frustrations with Internet job-hunting. They complain that they never hear anything from employers, and that employers increasingly put up impenetrable barriers to keep job-seekers from following up and being proactive. Are the old rules of job-seeking and follow-up changing? What can job-seekers do to increase their odds?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| One way that job-seekers can overcome the barriers that employers set up is to identify companies where they would like to work and find out who the decision-maker is by obtaining information from a site like Zoominfo.com or Jigsaw.com. These sites have information about key people in various organizations. Armed with this information, job-seekers can then search social-media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter to see if the decision-makers maintain profiles there. By using social media, job-seekers can reach out to potential employers directly.
I don’t recommend, though, that job-seekers start by sending hiring managers their resumes. To be effective, job-seekers need to establish relationships with hiring managers first by conducting some research on them so that they know what the hot buttons are for these managers. Armed with this information, job-seekers can then follow them on Twitter and/or invite them to be a connection on LinkedIn. If the hiring manager posts a question, the job-seeker can then respond and start to cultivate a relationship with that person. With some well-thought-out responses, the job-seeker can establish his or her credibility with the hiring manager and start to position himself or herself as the answer to the hiring manager’s needs.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||How can social media help job-seekers find new employment?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| LinkedIn is probably the best social-media site for job-seekers because thousands of recruiters search for candidates every day on that site. An effective professional profile is essential for job-seekers who want to find new employment via social media. Employers will be searching for candidates using keywords, so job-seekers need to incorporate keywords into their profiles so that they can be found.
Also, job seekers can raise their visibility on LinkedIn by participating in groups and by answering questions on the Answers section of the site. LinkedIn members can find appropriate groups by searching for groups by keywords in the search bar at the top of the page. And answering questions can be a way of demonstrating one’s expertise in his or her field. Recruiters look favorably on group participation and well-thought out answers to questions.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the best way to uncover job leads — or do you advise multiple methods? What’s the best combination of methods and what percentage of a job-seeker’s time should be spent on each?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| With a 70 percent success rate for executives according to the 2008 Executive Job Market Intelligence Report from ExecuNet, networking dwarfs all other job-search methods. Online job boards have only a 13 percent success rate according to the Wall Street Journal.
I recommend that job-seekers allocate their time according to the way that most people find employment. Spend approximately 75 percent your time networking with the rest of your time dedicated to headhunters (10 percent), job boards (5 percent), job fairs (5 percent), and 5 percent with other job-search activities.
You should keep in mind that with job boards, you can decrease the amount of time that you spend on this job-search method because you can automate the process. It is very simple to set up a job-search alert with the major job boards like simplyhired.com and indeed.com and set your criteria (i.e., job title and location). You will then have jobs sent to your email address daily or weekly so that you do not need to search the job boards every day.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Thinking “outside the box,” what’s the best way for job-seekers to figure out what career will give them the greatest happiness?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| As far as standard assessments go, I rely on the Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. When these two instruments are used in combination with each other, they give a pretty well-rounded picture of the individual, including what it takes for them to be happy in a career.
I would give anyone taking online assessments a word of caution. If you are taking assessments that have not been thoroughly researched, the results may be inaccurate. And even if you are taking assessments online that have been researched, you can come to some wrong conclusions without someone who has been trained in those assessments to spend a session interpreting the results for you.
In addition to taking assessments, here are some quick suggestions for finding a suitable career:
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the biggest mistake job-seekers make that your advice could correct or prevent?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| The biggest mistake that I see job-seekers make is over-relying on job boards to land them that next position. Job boards are where you will have your greatest competition. Networking is the most effective way to get a job, so job-seekers should spend most of their time networking and only some of their time responding to posted positions.
I advise clients on what type of networking would work well for them based on their personalities. Some people avoid networking because they feel uncomfortable with it, but I help people network based on their strengths, not their weaknesses.
Cheryl Palmer is a certified executive career coach, a certified professional resume writer, and president of Call to Career, a career-coaching and resume-writing firm. She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, CNN, MarketWatch, The Ladders, ExecuNet, and Yahoo HotJobs. Cheryl offers a social-media program for executives to aid them with reducing the time it takes to land a new position. She also conducts webinars on social networking. You can visit her Call to Career Website, follow her on Twitter, join her 2,451-member LinkedIn group, Linked Strategies: Career Development, and listen to her online radio show.
Check out all our interview with career experts in Quintessential Answers: Q&A’s with Career & College Experts.
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