Another Tool for Your Toolbox

Informational interviews are a great way to gather information about a profession or industry.  They can be accomplished over the telephone or in person.  My recommendation is to do them in person whenever possible as it seems more likely to me that you can build a stronger relationship when you are eye to eye and can appreciate the body language that goes along with the communication process.

Identify people who are in the profession, industry and/or company you are interested in.  This is easily done using the advanced search feature on LinkedIn.  You can send your request in a message through LinkedIn or you might be able to identify a common connection in your network who can introduce you.  You can also visit the company web site and try to find contact information that way.

Be prepared for people to think that your request for an informational interview is a “soft ask” to be considered for potential employment opportunities.  Since this is pretty much a given, it would be a good idea to send them your resume ahead of time along with your elevator speech and several questions pertaining to the industry or career field you would like to discuss during the interview.

An informational interview should be treated no differently that a formal interview for a job.  By that I mean, you should show up on time (10 minutes early is better) and dressed professionally.  Have your questions prepared ahead of time.  This is your opportunity to learn first-hand from someone in the occupation.  This is an interview that you are managing, rather than the other way around.  Do your research on the company/industry so that you can speak intelligently about why you are a good fit for that industry/job.

Be sure to follow up after the interview by sending a thank-you note.  Send a request to connect on LinkedIn.  Six to eight weeks later stay connected by giving an update on your progress and ask for additional guidance if appropriate.

Whether you are a current student, new graduate or an experienced professional looking to make a career change, informational interviews are an excellent tool to add to your career toolbox.

Posted on May 19th, 2015 by

Long Distance Job Search

Looking for a job long distance adds new dimensions and challenges to the search process. Whether you are willing to “go anywhere you can find a job” or have specific locations in mind, you should still target your job search. A “shotgun” approach just doesn’t work. First, you need to identify and define your career objective.  The next step it to research possible locations to determine where you want to geographically. Then, you’ll need to identify where employers in your targeted locations post their open positions. National job boards like Monster and Careerbuilder will work well for some communities but not for others. Indeed works pretty well once you have keywords or titles along with a specific geographic location.  You can also “Google” your geographic location to identify local resources and job search sites. Also, utilize resources like newspapers, community organizations, and local colleges to identify job board and company websites. The Chamber of Commerce or Department of Economic Development  can often provide you with a list of local employers and industries. Most important, use your good networking skills to connect with employers who might have openings in your career field. This is where LinkedIn.com can be of value. If you haven’t already done so, join LinkedIn and begin to connect with individuals with similar interests. Join your college student or alumni group, as well as other groups with similar interests, and begin the process of connecting with those who might be able to help you with your job search.

Posted on May 12th, 2015 by

What Career Is Right for Me? 5 Strategies that Lead to Successful Career Choices

Career Choice

“Simply stated, I don’t think a person needs passion for a job, but for a successful career, passion is absolutely necessary.” – HR Business Partner, Lincoln Financial Group

The idea of what it means to have a career in the 21st century is gradually shifting from how you fit into the world of work and business, to how the world of work and business aligns with your life goals and mission. In moving toward this new concept of “earning a living,” here are five useful strategies:  Continue reading

Have Adjectives Lost Their Cachet?

No cliches

There must be 100 websites out there touting lists of the “best adjectives for resumes.”

Words such as:

Skillful    Exceptional     Industrious     Motivated       Driven       Enthusiastic

As a quick review, an adjective is a word that modifies a noun. In the descriptor “seasoned professional” seasoned is the adjective. [For more information about adjectives, see one of my favorite explanations: School House Rock.]

Adjectives are often praised as “power words,” and encouraged at every turn by job boards, bloggers, resume wizards, and even career strategists like me. There is even a website with an adjective list that suggests where you can find other adjective lists. And no, I’m not going to embed the link to that one. Please indulge my flippancy, but I am SO over adjectives on resumes.

It’s easy, maybe even automatic, to reach for these words. You may already have the ones listed above and others like them on your resume right now, but look . . . so does everyone else. Of course you’re going to say these things about yourself. After all, it’s you you’re talking about during a time when you’re trying to impress people. Unfortunately, what it will probably do is come across sounding like what everyone else is saying—during a time with it’s crucial to set yourself apart from the rest.

Let’s be honest, if you directed a 15-member project team in the middle of a budget cut, company re-organization and mission direction change yet despite the economic down turn, finished on time and under budget, that beats the heck out of saying you’re a: determined professional committed to results.

If you’re using adjectives in your resume, chances are you’re doing it because you’re not including enough quantified and qualified evidence of your accomplishments. (Note: I said accomplishments and not responsibilities. More on that in a future blog post.) If you have a resume, go through it and highlight all of the adjectives. Then rework those sentences by adding information that answers some of the following questions:

  • How much?
  • How often?
  • How long?
  • With what result?

While in your positions, did you save time, save money, save a client relationship, increase profit, reduce errors, create a new process/procedure, improve an old process/procedure?

It’s not always possible or practical to eliminate all adjectives from your resume. However, when you write specifically about the ways in which you’ve benefited the companies you’ve worked for, you can turn:

Dedicated self-starter with exceptional communication skills.

into:

Delivered over 20 presentations to groups of 50+ participants averaging 4.8 on a 5-point evaluation scale.

Remember, if you are a Bellevue University student, faculty member or staff member, and would like assistance with your resume, or other career services, please e-mail careerservices@bellevue.edu We can help.