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Networking Will Land You the Job You Want.

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I’ll begin this post with an obvious truth: Most of us don’t like to network. But the reality is, it’s a critical part of any job search and something you need to incorporate and get better at.

Here are some facts about networking that should help. diagram

  1. Networking can land you a job.

    That gets my attention. All research shows that networking – actually getting out and talking to people – is more likely to get you a job than most other elements of the job search. By other elements I mean a resume, applying online to jobs, reading job search articles, etc.

    Referrals (which come from networking) are the number one source of job hires.

    Person-to-person connections matters. Networking is way more effective than sending endless resumes to anonymous job boards through the internet. It’s more effective in getting a job than even a strong resume. Getting out of your comfort zone and meeting with people or going to a networking event will allow you to talk with lots of people and as Luke Vernon, founder of the Luke’s Circle job site, says, “You want to become top of mind to as many people as possible.”


  1. The more networking you do, the easier it gets.

That’s good news and it’s true. Your first networking event or the first coffee you set up might feel uncomfortable. But remember you’re new at. Anything you’re new at seems awkward at first.

You don’t know what to say. You feel judged. You might also feel “less than” because you’re looking for a job. So your monkey brain starts saying things like: Why don’t I have a job; why is everyone else employed; what’s wrong with me, maybe I don’t have anything to offer.

STOP. If you let that thinking continue your confidence will disappear and you’ll never be able to present yourself well. Take a deep breath, try to relax, and know that the person you’re talking to does not want to see you fail. She is not trying to trip you up. In fact she’s probably trying to help – most people want to help. (More about this later).

Finally, keep in mind that the anticipation of a networking event or meeting is often worse than the reality. Think back, say, to a high school dance or a first date. Now that’s awkward. With that perspective networking is not so bad.


  1. Networking can be easier than the job interview.

With a job interview there is a lot of pressure on you to perform. You’ve got one shot at this job so that monkey brain can start up again: I’ve got to nail this. This is my one chance. I’ve got to look good and act perfectly.

 In networking, the personal expectations are a bit broader and not so intense. At a networking event or when meeting someone for coffee, you’re often not going after a specific job so the pressure is less.

The purpose of a successful networking meeting is to have people know who you are, to get a sense of your personality, what kind of job you’re looking for, and what value you provide to an employer. That last point is critical. Employers want to know what you can do for them. That’s the issue – it’s not that you need a job. The sooner you’re clear about this, the quicker you’ll get a job.

Also keep in mind that a networking event is a two-way street. It is not all about you and your need for a job. With every person you talk to make sure to ask: “How can I help you?”  That will be a memorable statement and they will be much more likely to try to help you in your job search.


  1. People want to helpsmile

Most people have empathy for job seekers. It’s the old “there but for the grace of god go I” feeling. Think about it.

Everyone has been unemployed at one time or another in their life. And they probably don’t remember it fondly.

They can identify with what you are going through and they want to help if they can.


  1. “Personal” connections are important – use them.

To many of us, personal connections sounds like you know the person well. In the job search process this is not true. You don’t need to know a person well to ask him/her for help.

Here’s how to find a connection at a company that will likely raise your job application above all the other candidates.

Let’s say you’re applying for a data warehousing job you found on IBM’s website. You believe you’re a good candidate but you know that many other people will be vying for this job.

Start asking around to find someone who works at IBM: talk to people where you work out, your friends, neighbors, relatives. During this talk-a-thon you discover that your neighbor’s brother-in-law, we’ll call him Joe, works at IBM and also knows someone in the data warehousing dept. You ask your neighbor if he would mind emailing Joe to see if it’s okay for you to speak with him briefly. Your neighbor will likely will do this for you and Joe will likely agree to speak with you because, remember, people usually are willing to help. I’m not making that up

It’s important to prepare for this call to Joe. Keep your call short, be appreciative of his time, tell him of your interest in the position and your qualifications. Try to do this in less than two minutes. Be pleasant and not demanding because you want Joe to like you or at least feel good about you. Why? Because you will then ask Joe if he is willing to contact his connection in data warehousing on your behalf or give you the woman’s name so you can contact her. He likely will.

Now you talk to Susan, the data warehousing person Joe referred you to. She’ll talk with you because Joe referred you. Keep your conversation brief, to-the-point, and be appreciative of her time. Ask about the position and if you can use her name when you apply for the job. Again, the answer will likely be yes. You can now send your resume to the IBM data warehousing dept. with a cover letter that mentions your contact, Susan Wilkinson, in the first sentence. That will set your application apart from everyone else.

The point in this explanation is to show you how it works; to show how you don’t need to know the contact well; and what a difference it makes if you have a “personal” connection at the company you’re interested in.

The bottom line is get out of your office and network. Do it all the time whether you are employed or not. Help others – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but they will be more likely to help you when you are in need.

The more you talk to people the clearer (and smoother) you will be about what to say, what questions to ask, and how to follow-up. This type of networking will pay off way more than sitting in front of your computer reading job articles and perusing job sites.

Go set up a coffee meeting now. 

And contact me with any questions – no obligation!

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Changing Careers at 50

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First of all, you can do it. Life is too short to stay in a job you hate or where you feel underutilized.Jobs after 50

But ask yourself five critical questions before making a career change at 50:

  1. Should I start my own business? You’ve probably heard the term encore entrepreneur – individuals who start a business after a previous career. These entrepreneurs, usually older, are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. It is definitely worth considering going out on your own,  but know the answers to these questions:
    • Are my skills and experience strong enough to attract clients?
    • Is there a market for my services? You’ve got to understand who your client is; why would s/he go to you; are there enough of them out there – in other words, is this a sufficient market? What would these clients be willing to pay for my services?
    • Do I have the ambition and work ethic to soldier through the ups and downs of a new business? There are deep valleys when you first start a business. Do you have what it takes to get through periods with no clients? Do you have the creativity to always be thinking of new markets and new ways to reach your current client base?
    • Can I afford to do this? This is related to the question above. How long can you go without clients? How much will it cost to start your business? What can you do to keep your costs in check?
  2. What are my transferable skills? Let’s say your career has been as a commercial loan officer but you don’t want to do this anymore. In fact you don’t even want to work in a bank. Break down what you do in this position. For example: you’ve done research to determine if an applicant is appropriate, data collection, analysis, customer service and marketing (communicating with the applicant, selling the bank’s services to the community, etc). These are all marketable, transferable skills…meaning they are valuable in other industries such as nonprofits, foundations, and large and small companies.
  3. Am I thinking outside the box? This is related to question two above. It’s very easy to “think small” especially when you’re scared of leaving or are sick-to-death of your current job and just want to jump fast. Think big! Just because you’ve worked in a bank your whole career doesn’t mean you have to move to another bank. The whole work world is open to you if you understand your marketable skills and begin to think creatively about where those skills could be used. And don’t forget to make a list of places you want to work. What would make you happiest at this stage of your life? Is it working for a particular foundation? If so, research that foundation and be very clear about the value you can provide them. Then go for it.
  4. Are my presentation skills strong enough? It’s very important that you not only understand the value you bring to a company but that you’re able to present your skills/experience confidently and concisely. This takes practice and often working with a coach or consultant will pay off in the end. It’s sometimes hard to see what we have to offer and how best to present ourselves. A good coach will help you do this.
  5. Am I projecting the right attitude? This is very important, especially for those who’ve been laid off or are beyond sick of their current job. Your attitude could be a huge detriment to getting a new position. Do you think you project anger, frustration, a why-me or poor-me attitude? Ask your friends or spouse/partner; they may be a better barometer. If the answer is yes, you’d better change your attitude right away. Any negativity will show up in your body language, facial expression, reactions to questions – and in loads of other, subtle ways. You are not a victim. There are no jobs for victims.

Older workforceAnd a final bit of advice: If you’re currently employed, stay in that position until you find another job or start your own business.

You’ll be coming from a stronger place in the job market if you are currently employed.

Plus there will be less financial pressure for you to jump into another job.

Keep in mind that these may be the last years for you to make a difference, to contribute in ways you’ve always dreamed of, to do the job you’ve always wanted.

Don’t. Wait. Any. Longer. Go after it.



Unsure about what your next step should be? Contact me today for a free consultation and find the right career for you.

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Graduates: Job Search Tips That Work

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questionIf you just graduated, will graduate soon, or will eventually graduate…it’s time to get going on your job search.

It’s never too early or too late to start.

Getting a Job Takes Work

But you’ll learn a lot about yourself and – it will boost your confidence when you land a job

Be prepared to put in a lot of time. You’ve probably heard that getting a job is a full time job.

It’s true. Think of it as the search process getting you used to the real thing.

Six Tips that Make a Difference

These job search tips work:

Know the value you bring an employer

The truth is the employer really doesn’t care that you need a job. It’s true for anyone. But I think you know that.crying girl

The employer wants to know what you can do for him.

It’s therefore critical that you know what your skills are and how those skills will be useful to this particular company.

Relate your skills/experience to each job opening

Be able to tailor your skills and experience to a particular job.

Don’t expect the employer to do that.

You need to bridge any gap in his understanding about how, say, your job as a waitress relates to the customer service position you’re applying for.

And it does relate.

As a waitress you’ve had to deal with lots of different people. Your job was to make them happy.

If you did a good job and can explain some difficult situations you resolved – I’d consider you for a customer service position.

This is called a transferable skill. Don’t forget them.

Research every company you apply to

Research the larger industry as well.

For example, if you’re interested in Lockheed Martin know who its competitors are.

Is it Ball Aerospace, Boeing?

What are Lockheed’s major markets, products, customers? Is it considered an innovative company relative to its competitors?

Being armed with more than basic information about the company you’re interviewing will allow you to ask smart questions during your interview.

This is the kind of employee I want to have working for me.

Be aware of networking opportunities

diagramThe vast majority of jobs are filled by networking with others.

Take your professors to coffee.

Ask your neighbor’s cousin if he has any connections at that company you’re interested in.

Go to job fairs – but make sure you’re prepared before you step up to the booth.

Your goal should be to network with someone every week. Believe me, it will pay off, as will this One Key Networking Tip.

Stay confident

The results of negative self-talk are crippling, especially in a job search.

Read my post on Staying Confident.kitten and tiger

When you’re busy beating yourself up about not getting a job, you can’t be fully present in an interview; you can’t think straight, and you can’t respond well to questions.

Your negativity will also show in your body language.

One way to build and maintain your confidence is to practice.

Practice answering questions. Practice explaining what you offer the company.

Make a good first impression

The easiest way to do this is to dress professionally, follow the points above, and do three critical, but simple things:

  1. Smile

  2. Firm hand shake

  3. Good eye contact

In my experience these three points will make you stand out from the competition.

Take Time to Prepare

In case you didn’t notice, the common denominator in all of the above tips is: prepare.

It will definitely pay off.

Have a Marketing Perspective

The job market is better than it was a few years ago –  but it’s still very competitive.

You must have a marketing perspective in your job search.

That means always look at things from the employer’s point of view. Ask yourself “How can my background and skills help make this employer’s business more successful?”

With this attitude and approach you ‘ll be way ahead of the competition.

the futureAnd much likely to hear the two sweetest words for any job candidate:

“You’re hired.”




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5 Tips to Great Public Speaking

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I just got off the phone with a client who’s got to speak in front of 500 people next month – probably in some impersonal hotel ballroom complete with dais, a lonely wooden lectern in center stage and flooded with very bright lights…focused right on HER.

She knows her material, speaks well in front of smaller, more intimate groups.public-speaking-melbourne

But every time she speaks to large groups of people physical changes happen. Her voice gets shaky; her vision blurs; she feels wobbly.

So, other than that things are just fine, right?

Can you relate to this?

I definitely can. Every time I had to speak I would begin stewing about it as soon as I hung up the phone or sent an email saying I would speak.

That could be six months in advance or two weeks.

My negative self-talk would begin immediately like a gunshot starting a race.

What if my mind goes blank? What if I faint? What if my throat constricts and my voice sounds like I’ve just taken a huge dose of helium. Someone on stage sounding like Daffy Duck does not carry much gravitas.

On and on I would go, focusing on all the bad what-ifs, dreading my speaking date and wondering why I had accepted.

I’ll tell you why we accept those dates. Because we’re professionals who know our material. In fact, we often are in a position of authority because we are experts in our field.

That’s why people call us to speak.

Our material excites us and we’re happy to tell anyone we meet about it.

publicSpeak3But especially if they come in groups of 10 or fewer.

However getting on stage with 1000 eyeballs staring at you…well, we don’t even want to go there.

Where are the doughnuts or scotch when you need them?

Miraculously I now speak comfortably to large and small groups. I even teach others to get over their fear. Can you believe it? I can’t.

I love to talk with people, even in enormous impersonal settings. I’ve learned to avoid ruminating about all the bad what-ifs; to focus on the material, and to practice a few tricks I’ve learned that have helped me when my anxiety creeps back – which it still does at times.

I refer to it as –  I’ve learned to manage my own personal anxiety attack.

Here are five tips:

1. Know your material cold. I know you know this but it’s still the number one thing to do. Especially if your personal anxiety attack renders you slightly blind so you can’t read your notes. Which, by the way, should be only a sparse outline – NEVER READ YOUR TALK.  But you know this too.

It’s incredibly boring; you sound stilted; you’ll lose your place and then you’ll be stuck with really frightening silence as you try to find where you left off.

You know it’s better to speak with your head up, looking out and engaging with your audience. So do it.

2. Talk to people in your audience. Take some time before you speak to talk to a few random individuals in your audience.

Somehow this works to break the ice forming in your brain.

You no longer view your audience as one scary mass sitting before you. They are individuals; you’ve met a few. You know they aren’t out to hurt you.

You might even incorporate a conversation you had into your talk. It can make your speech more relevant and the person you mention will feel like the Most Important Person in the Room. You now have a new best friend.

3. Throw a question to the audience. This is really helpful. I can’t tell you how many times I feel fine until I’m introduced and I make the looooooong walk to the podium.

All the physical reactions can come up – sweaty palms, dizzy feelings, dry throat (have water near the podium, by the way).

When I feel this happening I will almost immediately ask a question of the audience. There is something comforting about this interchange and it breaks my brain freeze. I am then speaking to ONE person and he/she is just speaking to me.

It has a significant calming effect.PublicSpeak2

4. Walk around (and don’t forget to breathe). You can take your outline with you for security if you like.

Moving will make you feel better – it gets the blood flowing. Your brain needs that. Now.

Besides, I know you’ve watched speakers as they clutch the podium for dear life, not moving an inch.

It’s much more interesting to see speakers moving and gesturing appropriately. Remember, this is the way we speak to people when we feel normal.

Let me add here: don’t overdo it.

I’m not recommending that you flap around the stage. That is a distraction. But moving as you speak is normal and will help engage the audience in what you’re saying.

5. Prepare. This is sort of a summary point. It assumes that you know your material. But I want you to practice presenting it. Many times: in your living room to a bunch of empty chairs and the piano.

Or ideally go to a hotel ballroom, walk around, get on stage, get the feel so it breaks the spell of doom and disaster.

Ever heard the expression, “what you know can’t hurt you.” It’s true here. But certainly get to your talk early. Make sure things work – audio, slide presentation, lights (maybe ask if they can dim them).

Know the questions you’re going to throw out to the audience.

And how about making a connection with the tech guy. You will want to have a close personal relationship in case something happens.  Ask him (it’s usually a him) to please stick around.


I promise you, if you do these things you will feel better. And that alone will help you give a better presentation. The more you speak the better you’ll get.

That doesn’t mean you won’t ever have unsettling feelings. You may, but you’ll be better prepared to handle them.

And besides, it really is true that when you have some adrenalin moving through your system you will give a more dynamic talk.

If you want some more pointers, take two breaths and call me.


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Interview Questions You Wish They Wouldn’t Ask

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These are topics you’d like to avoid…like maybe something you wish the employer might not notice.

I call them dreaded topics. Everyone has one – at least one. What’s yours?woman and man

Let’s discuss a few.

Gaps in Employment?

Not everyone in this world starts a fulfilling job right out of school and then remains employed until retirement. In fact, can I think of one…?

The majority of us has had fits and starts in our employment history. Some with longer fits – and often through no fault of our own. In the recent, severe recession many people were laid off and despite their best efforts could not find another job. Unemployment turned from weeks into months.

There are also people who have chosen to leave the work force for a period of time. The reasons can include taking care of children, illness, elderly parents, travel.

Too Young or Too Old?

Well, with that headline you can’t win! Interviewers are not allowed to ask your age in an interview. Why? Because the conversation might be viewed as age discrimination which is against the law.

That doesn’t mean age discrimination – on both sides of the age spectrum – doesn’t happen in the job market. It happens every day.

For example, there is a generation of Baby Boomers many of whom don’t want to retire or they can’t afford to retire.

However, an employer may be concerned about hiring an older person, fearing she might leave after a short time or be a know-it-all and not trainable.

Age is an understandable dreaded topic. And don’t think the interviewer isn’t wondering about your age. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that your resume says you graduated from college in 1978. A quick math calculation and voila – this candidate is probably not 39.

No Job Experience?

If you’re right out of school you may not have much work experience. That’s a concern for employers because they want to know about your work ethic, how well you work with others – and why you haven’t held a job. This topic needs to be handled the same way any dreaded topic should be handled: Head on.

More about that later.

Multiple Job Changes?

Does your resume look like you’ve been job hopping? That too is an understandable concern for an employer. If you’ve changed jobs a lot, why should he trust that you’ll stick around his company? It costs a lot to train an employee.

The Best Way to Handle Dreaded Topics

Head On! Bring it up if the interviewer doesn’t.

I guarantee you if the topic is a concern to you, it’s likely a concern to the interviewer. Clear the air. Get the topic on the table. If the interviewer doesn’t mention your obvious concern, you bring it up and explain the issue. You take control. The issue will likely become a non-issue.

Isn’t that better than wondering if it might affect your being hired. And being concerned about something could affect the way you come across. You might be hesitant or distracted.

When you address the topic it gets diffused. It’s no longer a threat. You’ll also come across as more confident.

Prepare your explanation before the interview and be ready to address it. If the issue is not mentioned, you explain calmly and confidently what happened.

Some Example Responses:

Work Gap – “In 2007 I was laid off from my job as were many people at my company. As you know, it was a very difficult market. But while I looked for an engineering position I took a part-time job and volunteered in my community.”

Experience – “I may not have a lot of work experience because I just finished school, but I want you to know about the things I learned in my volunteer jobs and as a teaching assistant…”

Age – “I’ve been in the work world a while but want you to know that I plan to work for many more years. I’ve got a lot of experience but I also know I have more to learn and more to contribute.”

These answers may not sound perfect but they’re the truth and you’ve addressed the issue head on. The interviewer is likely to admire you for this plus it will resolve any qualms he may have had about you.

But most important, you’ll feel more confident and be able to present yourself clearly.

The bottom line? You’ll be a much stronger candidate.

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I'd love to help you market yourself or your business. Please fill out the form below to contact me and I'll get back to you within one business day.
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