The Lousy Networking Advice of Others – Top 5 Tips to Ignore

SAN DIEGO (April 26, 2007) - A member of the U...

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So back to all the holiday parties and networking events you’ll be attending this season. While lots of people have their own do’s and don’ts – here are what I think are surefire ways to make networking events a waste of time by following the type of advice they offer in Yahoo! Home Page articles. More on considerate networking in my article Hi, Nice to Meet You. Me, Me Me, Me, MeMeMe… at: http://wp.me/pWfpN-2M

1. Ask for a Reference

At networking events, some suggest asking people you respect and have had positive working relationships with ‘for a reference ‘, hoping they’ll get the hint that you’re on the market. They imply that this is less awkward than asking for help with a job search.

I think this may backfire as that people aren’t generally so forthcoming with helping others, and will mistakenly assume you have opportunities already if you need references, as that no one checks them early in the hiring game.

2. Use Elevator Speeches in Conversations, A.K.A. “30 Seconds of Bragging” 

I think they’re great ideas in general, to present subtlety in conversations at interviews. But in social, networking environments? You sound like a used car salesman, but even sadder is that you’re selling yourself. I was recently at a networking event, having a lovely conversation with someone, and then he started ‘accomplishment dropping’. I don’t know why he was compelled to give me his pitch, I started spacing, looking for other people to talk to, before I had to hear more. Did you know I’ve improved recruiting for my for my company despite a five million dollar recruiting budget cut?

 3. Offer Unsolicited Advice

No one likes to hear what they could improve or are doing wrong in life. Calling people on their “stuff” doesn’t help you make friends faster. Some take it more gratefully than others, but generally if you’re trying to get someone to help you (i.e. find a job, buy your product, etc.) complimenting them is a better approach.

At a family event, someone complained greatly about their employment situation. I suggested they try reading my blog for advice, as that hey, it’s there for that reason. The person volunteered to me that they think my blog is too negative. That I ought to have a more positive tone, and be more encouraging.

While this person meant well, all I could think was, hey, I’m offering to help you, and why don’t you write a preachy blog? See how many readers you get?

But instead I was a good girl and kept my mouth shut, and I was humbly reminded that this is why I don’t write touchy-feely self help books and stick to my ever-so-snarky blog.

 4. Hand Your Card to Everyone Who Will Take It

It’s like the people who stand on street corners handing out menus or the fliers for the shady ‘suit sale’ a few blocks over.

No one wants to take it, and if they do, they’ll be looking for the nearest garbage to toss it into and be bothered. Few will say, hey, thanks for YOU! Unless it’s a promotional item with your info. If you’re handing them a pen with your info, they might just happily pocket it and look at it again later

5. Politely Blend In & Be Quiet

No one likes the loudest person in a room, but no one notices the quietest one either.

Wear a black suit, white shirt, black shoes, bland accessories, black and white business card, and you’re guaranteed to stand out as much as a penguin in a group on penguins…which one were you again? Especially if you’re on the quieter side, now’s the time to practice speaking about your assets and let your own style stand out. Be confident and assertive in starting conversations with those who you feel you may have a potential association with. 

Throw on a brightly colored accessory, men, that’s your tie, ladies, a professional yet spunky scarf, shirt under your suit, bag, or shoes – but definitely not all of these combined. You don’t want to scare people off or give them the wrong impression that you’re one step away from more colors than the muumuu’s in a Florida retirement community…unless you’re trying to land a gig in the arts or fashion district. They allow for more flamboyance.

Stupid Resumes: 5 Content Reasons Your Resume Was Trashed

Shea Stadium demolition

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Please bring the shredder a little closer to my desk. I have a lot of resumes that need to go in there.
So I hear people want to know why their resumes get thrown out some more . Here are a few more tips to stay out of the circular file. Imagining yourself on the other side of the fence can be helpful for figuring out why you didn’t get that call.

1. You’re looking to change fields without explaining yourself. While you might think you’d make an excellent paralegal after your IT position layoff, and have no legal experience whatsoever, just try to imagine what it’s like for the client. They pay mega bucks to hire a lawyer, but the paralegal does a LOT of the casework & preparation for them. You’re paying $500/hr for someone with no relevant training or experience. How would that make you feel?

2. Keep in mind cultural fit. It’s very easy for me to tell a hiring manager, hey, this person has the skills you want, just try to overlook their body odor and dirty clothes. You have to fit in where you work, both within your department as well as the company at large. If you’re a PETA activist and an accountant, and your resume screams ‘save the animals’, don’t think you’re going to be called in to interview for a slaughterhouse account role you applied for. You might be desperate enough to want the job due to the economy, but don’t think the company will be desperate enough to call you in for an interview. Check out my post on religious & activist resumes if you’re concerned about how your resume presents at http://wp.me/pWfpN-b.

3. You have to make a compelling case for yourself to be called with your resume. If 500 people applied to the job you’re applying for, what have you presented to impress? If you’re bored reading your own resume, everyone else is too. If you sound just like everyone else, you’ll remain unemployed like everyone else. If you keep repeating the same information over and over and over and over and over and over again, no one wants to hear it, even if you did the same thing at each job. No one wants to read it. No one wants to read it. No one wants to read it. Sick of hearing the same message? So are recruiters.

You need to make yourself sound like you’re done varied things with progressive responsibility. It’s OK that you haven’t always been a director, but faxing, photocopying, and answering phones do not each deserve their own bullets. Just make sure you’re not compelled to do a functional resume. As I’ve said before, Functional Resume = Shady Resume (http://wp.me/pWfpN-8).

4. You’ve included information that makes the hiring manager or recruiter uncomfortable. In other countries marital status, photos, exact salary histories, age, and number of children are required on a resume. Here it just screams: Wow, I hope they don’t sue for discrimination based on info the candidate has included. They say when in Rome, do as the Romans. When you’re applying to a job in America, don’t include personal information beyond talents & what you can bring to the table. TMI (Too Much Info) is a definite turn off. Another post I have about Resume Content (http://wp.me/pWfpN-1P).

5. You’ve included stupid information. Yes, I said stupid. There may be no stupid questions, but there are definitely stupid resumes. You might be an exact fit, but then list on your skills & hobbies your love of the Mets. The hiring manager is a Yankee fan. You just potentially lost candidacy over a completely irrelevant fact on your resume. Again, if they don’t ask for that type of info on the posting,  and it’s not a job to work at Shea Stadium, keep personal preferences and tastes off your application.

Besides, who still likes the Mets?

Shameless vs. Fabulous: Resume, Social Media & Life Etiquette

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“Self-promotion is an art, not a science, because it takes a bit of instinct and talent to tiptoe across the tightrope between tooting your own horn and sprinting down the street at 6 a.m. with an air horn blaring whilst your soon-to-be-former friends roll their eyes and plug their ears and discuss behind your back how desperately they wish you’d just shut the eff up.”  – Brenna Ehrlich, author of blog Stuff Hipsters Hate – see #5 for full article

  1. Don’t be a school snob. You might have gone to Harvard, but if you don’t have an impressive resume or cover letter & think your school will open all doors for you, it won’t…well, it might open some, there are Ivy Snob hiring managers – but mine aren’t generally. And if you do, you’ll end up working for ‘the man’ you profess to hate.
  2. Don’t be a workplace snob. You worked for google? Well obviously you left or were let go, or are on your way out for a reason. Don’t think that will get you your next job.
  3. Make your online profiles & resumes easy to navigate. Viewers should be able to easily, immediately tell what and why you have done what you’ve done, when and where you’ve done it.
  4. FAIL: Shameless Promoting. We’ve all probably done it at some point, but you have to offer value in return for asking for something. Goes back to the ME, ME, ME complex (see http://wp.me/pWfpN-2M for more about me, myself, and I).
  5. Want tips on how to use social media for self-promotion that doesn’t make people gag? Try http://mashable.com/2010/09/22/promote-online/

Shortlink directly to this post: http://wp.me/pWfpN-6

 

Generation Y Should We?

Image credits: 7reasons.org

Image credits: 7reasons.org

 

Everyone has their opinion of what each generation wants, what the generation is defined by, and what they’re headed towards. I’ve seen some really interesting articles on this, and I’ve seen some poor ones. The articles run the span from “Engaging Gen Y in the Workplace” to “Bridging the Generation Gap”.

But as I sit in my large, pretty cubicle in my flipflops (ok, thong sandals, but close enough) wishing I had more to do, more challenging work that I knew the purpose of – like most of my friends do as well – I start to think, maybe they’re onto something.

I think I’m part of the laziest generation possible. We take little or no initiative, and when we do ANYTHING we expect it to be applauded, because hey, we put in the effort and we didn’t have to.

My birth year is considered the cutoff for generation Y – therefore I’m one of the oldest Y’s. My mom’s a boomer (hi mom!) but my father’s actually considered too old to be in that group – so perhaps that’s why I understand all of the generations and their conflicts. My friend’s older siblings were gen Xer’s, with their huge hair and huge ruffles and huge depression. I never felt part of that crowd. The angst seems a bit much, and perhaps today’s hipsters are an ode to the stereotypical Xer’s – but we can revisit that another time.

Back to ME. Because in gen Y, it’s all about me. We’ve been fostered with ideas that “We can be anything that we want to be, we can do anything that we want to do,” (Yes, actual lyrics from a Blue’s Clues Song), and that’s great. That there are no stupid questions, trying is just as important as achieving, there are no losers, and blah blah blah *insert white noise as we tune out.

Somewhere down the generation line we’ve been progressively losing respect for elders. It used to be believed that the older someone was, the more they knew. But that idea was from back in a day when most people died well before their 80’s.

The stereotypical knowledgeable elder had gray hair, read a lot of books, retired and lived off good investments, and perhaps smoked a piped. Then he died, either from a heart attack from all the rich foods he ate or from an unknown cause.

It wasn’t today’s pitied grandparents living 75-100+, generally with memory decline, poverty, and little to no desire to adapt to technology. No one’s going to great grandpa in the nursing home every day with a notebook to collect his musings on the state of the world. Today’s youth believes that knowledge increases with age, then it plateaus, and then it declines.

We also have lost the respect for protocol. I’ll never forget the trouble I stirred up at my first job out of college. I was bored out of my mind, and had a nasty supervisor. She led a bitter life and took it out on her coworkers. When I was ready for my next challenge, I knew I’d never get it from her, so I went to the friendly owner/CEO of the company who I saw regularly to ask if there was anywhere else in the company that I could move to. I was promoted and given a new assignment with a happier team.

Then next morning as I went to collect my belongings I was greeted with sneers and nasty comments. I had no idea that I might have done something wrong, but apparently it was a no-no to go out of the chain of command (but it was fine to act like an unprofessional petulant teen-ager – I also learned to learn office culture for ‘what flies’ where).

According to protocol, I should have asked my supervisor, who would have brought it up with the manager, who would have brought it to the attention of the CEO at the next monthly meeting, and then I would have been promoted and kept everyone happy…as if that could have actually happened. It never would have made it past my nasty supervisor’s head, and no one would have felt one person at the bottom of the totem pole wanting to do more would have merited visibility at a meeting. Unfortunately this company has since closed, but to me this type of process is seen as archaic to my generation – not logical.

Perhaps that’s where the divide truly lies. When the Boomer’s were in their 20’s in the workplace, they respected and revered those closer to retirement age, and learned everything they could from them. When Yer’s see someone close to retirement, we start fixing up our resume for their position, because we believe we could do their job better and more efficiently leveraging technology – which is often the case.

As was pointed out in a great article from the Harvard Review, the Yer’s are living in the most unstable generation yet. I entered the workforce post 9/11, then saw the tech bubble burst, and now am seeing the 3rd round of mass layoffs with the current recession in my less than 10-year work life-span.

Now for the flip-side, as that I have no pity for my generation – we’ve also seen the birth of start-ups succeeding wildly, and the young getting very rich very fast. It’s now not seen as an unrealistic ambition to start and own your own company well before 30. Write some software, invent an app, get on a reality TV-show & behave disgustingly shocking (*yuck) and you’ve made it.

So learn what you will from those of us under 30 – even those that don’t make a ‘30 under 30’ list, but we want progression. We want growth. We want to work intelligently towards a logical goal. We don’t care for how things always have been done. We get bored quickly (which some of us love and some of us loathe). We want to be allowed to text, tweet, facebook, myspace, and work productively at the same time. We want to use 2.0, if not 3.0 technologies in the office for work. We want our office to be at home if there’s no reason we need to be in a centralized location for it. We want to work flexible hours, not watch the clock – if our work is done, why does it matter how many hours were sat in a seat?

*Sigh* dare to dream…

So now for words of advice to my younger brethren from someone who understands you – respect your elders, not for their knowledge of technology, but learn from their street smarts and experience. Obey the chain of command at work, managers tend to have big ego’s and not like it when you go over their heads. Will you be stuck in a dead end job then? Suck it up and move place of employment, and leave on good terms. Never burn bridges with former employers, or anyone for that matter. Be conscious of everything you post online everywhere, because someone is watching, or will be when you grow up.

And get a job, move out of your parents’ house, support yourself, and figure out who you want to be. Don’t let anyone else do that for you. Stop wearing jeans, sneakers, and t-shirts to work. And stop playing Farmville & do something productive!

Shortlink to post: http://wp.me/pWfpN-3y

“Mutilation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery”

The young get less bolder
The legends get older
As long as you have less to say
Do you think that I wouldn’t say this?
You know that I play this better than you.

– MARILYN MANSON

*ahem* Imitation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery they say, and I guess I should be excited. I started tagging my posts so that people can easily search for connected ideas, and my blog host offered me other blogs that have similar themes to mine – when I came across a copier! I’ve inspired someone else to imitate me. And a fellow recruiter no less! At first I was annoyed, how dare they steal my brilliance! But then I figured that’s the point of blogging. Share ideas, inspire others, hope the process is repeated.

But people, give credit where credit is due. It’s one thing to take ideas or inspiration without attributing an author, but this woman actually rephrased one of my posts in the same topic order that I had, using the same phrases, and changed the examples I gave very slightly but in the same reference. It’s not like I’ve copywrited this (yet)!

So just remember next time you’re sharing someone else’s insights, to say where you heard or learned it from. Although you might sound smarter if you present someone else’s ideas as your own – It shows you’re a respectful person when you give credit. It shows you learn from those around you, and are confident that you’ve gained something from that knowledge.

And on a side note, if you, my reader, feel that I’ve committed knowledge piracy feel free to message me – I’ve had so many mentors from so many walks of life it’s hard sometimes to keep track of who said what, where, and when – and I’d like to make sure you get credit for your original ideas.

Do I know you? “Opportunity knocks once in a lifetime.”

My Name Is

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– Lose Yourself, Eminem

Who to & not to connect with is entirely a personal choice, but you only get one shot to make a first impression, and it will be remembered.

My opinions for Linkedin, Facebook, Myspace & Twitter.

Some people are open networkers (LION = Linked In Open Networkers, thanks Lavie for clarifying) which means pretty much they’ll connect to anyone hoping that a wide net of a network will help them professionally. This is a great tactic probably for sales people, executive recruiters, marketing professionals, etc. that need to get their word out to a large crowd – however this can easily backfire. In this way you’re also competing with all the other LION people for attention. Buy my product! Hire my friend! Join my pyramid scheme (don’t worry, it’s not a pyramid scheme!)!

Delete, delete, delete. Oh, delete from connections too. I’ll even leave groups we’re in together if that happens.

(I’ll go more into networking manners & protocols another post.)

Linkedin: Link with everyone you know that you respect from schools, friends, workplaces, and one degree away that you know of. Always write a message to someone when you want to connect with them unless you speak with them on a regular basis. Remind them that you went to elementary school together, that you were both on the college chess team, or that you both barista’s at the same Starbucks…and you want to connect professionally.

You don’t want someone asking, hey, do I know you? Not the worst thing, but not the best impression to give someone that you are asking to welcome you into their network. You’re asking to be brought into their professional circle, not the other way around.

Facebook: I recommend keeping things private, settings private, and only friending friends. Moderate your friends into groups for the amount of access to your photo’s and info that they can see.

You just opened a headband store online? That’s beautiful, open a fan page or group. Do not request to be my friend, that’s called spamming, my un-friend.

 I keep seeing these articles about WHAT TO NEVER POST ON FACEBOOK: why not to post you’ll be away for a weekend, that it’s welcoming robbers…but I feel like if you only are connected to those you trust, this shouldn’t be an issue. No one else should see that you’re going to Hawaii besides people you’re close to. Even some of your facebook connections that you have but aren’t close with shouldn’t see this. That’s what privacy settings are for.

Myspace: Do whatever you want, friend whomever you want, act like whomever you want: but make sure that in no way can it be traced to being you. Keep things anonymous always. Never post personal info there (even like screen names) because google will easily direct an employer researching you then to your linkedin, and there goes your candidacy!

Twitter: I’m using it for public things. As I recently Twittered: Twittering feels a lot like facebooking with strangers without the creepiness of strangers on myspace.

 Don’t Lose Yourself!

Shortlink to this post: http://wp.me/pWfpN-1a