Questions and Answers with Career Expert Maria Marsala
Please note: On a somewhat infrequent basis, Quintessential Careers asks noted career experts five questions related to their expertise and publishes the interview in the current issue of QuintZine, our career e-newsletter. Those interviews are archived here for your convenience.
Maria Marsala operates Maria’s Place: Coaching, Consulting & Courses
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What do you feel is the most effective setting/venue/situation in a job-seeker can network?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||I suggest a mixture — meetings to help job-seekers stay focused on gaining that exceptional next “job” that will help them in their career, attending professional associations where they let others in their field know they’re looking for work, and the organization/seminars/meetings their potential employers attend.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Roughly what percentage of a job-seeker’s job-hunting time should be spent in networking activities?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Two-thirds of the day should be spent on networking activities of some sort — that’s about five hours daily, five days weekly. Of course that’s after they’ve developed an excellent targeted resume and cover letters. A third of the time should be spent answering want ads or Internet ads.
I recommend that clients start a database of everyone you know — what I call personal contacts — family, friends, former colleagues (as far back as they can go) and contact them via letter, phone, or both regarding the out-of-work situation. The more people know what you’re looking for, the better chances you have of finding that ideal career. Don’t forget to ask your personal contacts about meeting with you for breakfast or lunch. Unless you can afford to pay for their meal, use the words “dutch treat” up front. Why? Business etiquette says that the person who asks someone out is the payee of the meal. You don’t want to end up in a uncomfortable situation if you can’t afford to pay and you’re given the check anyway.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Not long ago, the Wall Street Journal and Time magazine reported that even as the economy improves, companies will continue to lay off workers to increase productivity and reduce costs. They further said that competition for jobs will be intense as workers re-enter the workforce. How can job-seekers achieve success and stand out from the crowd in such a competitive market?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||Network, network, network.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||We are hearing 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? How will job-seekers need to adapt to the new rules of Internet job-hunting? Are there ways to follow up after responding to an online ad, and if not, what can job-seekers do in lieu of following up to increase their odds?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Old rules? As far as employer followup, I don’t see anything happening now that didn’t happen during my own career search, in the 80s and 90s. The companies who followed up, even to send me a rejection notice, were the exception, not the rule.
However, if part of an individual’s ideal career is to work with a company that treats its employees exceptionally, then those are the companies that will do followup, so look out for them.
If you’re conducting a proactive career search (isn’t everyone?) and you’re having a problem getting through to the employer, learn how to cold-call to get through to the right person. Yes, it may take two calls. A good book on salespersonship is The Certifiable Salesperson: The Ultimate Guide to Help Any Salesperson Go Crazy with Unprecedented Sales, by Tom Hopkins and Laura Laaman.
Internet job searches should be part of someone’s career-advancement plan, however, not the No. 1 part. Most times, when you respond to an online ad, you’re responding to the job description and don’t know what company you’re dealing with. Those types of ads, on or off the Internet, are meant to keep you in the dark. While I see individuals gaining employment from job-search sites, most seem to do much better when they gain a job through networking or e-lists.
Maria Marsala of Maria’s Place: Coaching, Consulting & Courses provides services to ambitious, gutsy, achievers such as executives, professionals, stay-at-home moms and dads and entrepreneurs who are ready to overcome whatever limits or obstacles are in their way. Her clients are committed to developing clarity, designing a system with solutions, and taking actions that help create business, career and life success quickly and with fewer mistakes. Maria partners with her clients to create a well-rounded process that may include support, assessment tests, resources, training, an extra ear, encouragement, honesty, and a “gentle kick in the rear.” Maria’s Place is a national virtual business whose services are available by phone, e-mail, instant message, and fax. She visits many of her clients when she drives across the country, from Washington State to her native New York.
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