5 Second Survey: What Topic(s) Would YOU Like My Advice On?

What’s the biggest obstacle in your career search that you’d like advice on? Click here to answer & let me cater to you!

Disclaimer: Please note all answers will be kept confidential and will not be visible to others. Should I choose to share any information all names & companies will be changed to protect privacy.


Hi, Nice to Meet You. Me, Me Me, Me, MeMeMe…

Pulse radar

Image via Wikipedia

Networking is not all about you…well at least it shouldn’t be.

Almost all advice on getting jobs nowadays say networking is key to finding a new career, either online (linkedin etc.), through personal contacts, or at networking events- but few will tell you how to have a positive networking interaction.

I happen to be a natural at this, so I’ll give you insight into what I do, focusing on events as that I’m attending one tonight. These generally generate job leads for myself (which I decline with decorum) and for friends.

Quality of Networks beats Quantity of Networks: I feel walking away with 1+ strong connection from an event is far more important than meeting everyone in the room. But who do you meet, and how do you meet them?

The last event I went to (from HCI, very well done, will go into that another time) had networking time built into the schedules (instead of just saying break time). They also helped facilitate meetings by announcing the industries by show of hands so if you wanted to network with those in your industry or meet someone from a different specific one, you saw who was from where.

Networking should be the start of a mutually beneficial professional relationship to be successful.

Unless it’s an executive recruiter or someone who works for a place with a strong employee referral bonus, most people don’t talk to you just to hear about you and how great you are or how great the product you want to sell them is.

Take the following tips for what they’re worth.

1. Dress really well, but not like everyone else. Dress even better than you usually do. As that it’s not a formal interview I don’t recommend just a somber suit. Suits are great, but add eye catching accessories. Women can wear dresses. Men can have a funky, yet stylish tie. You don’t want to get lost in the crowd, and it’s easy if you stand out just a drop, but in a good way.

If someone you meet wants to introduce you to their hiring manager who’s also at the event, if you’re the 5’8 guy in the black suit and white shirt, well she probably won’t be able to pick you out of the crowd and you’ve just missed an opportunity. If you’re the guy in the purple tie, she’ll be confident she sees the right person, and can even tell the hiring manager to meet the guy in the purple tie.

Invest in one great outfit that you feel confident in – you can always use it for interviews and for the great job you get later. Ladies, make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes. You will be on your feet for hours, and want to look confident and serene – not aching for flats.

2. Confidence is key. Body language is what makes a huge difference in people both wanting to approach you, and being comfortable talking with you. Even if you hate these events, and hate meeting new people, get over it and fake it. I don’t mean to say go overboard. You don’t need to tell each person who introduces themselves to you that you’re thrilled to meet them – but a strong, brief handshake and eye contact will tell that person that You’re someone worth talking to. Then they’ll ask about you and want to know why you’re so confident. They thereby take the pressure off of you to make banal conversation, and you can listen to see if they have any connections or insights to offer you.

3. Make a good impression on everyone you meet. You never know if that guy in the stained sportscoat is actually the CEO of a multi-million dollar new DUMBO start up. Hipsters can throw you off like that. You might think they’re the cleaning crew, but they really might own the venue. You never know who a person is and what you might gain by networking with them. Hey, they might be the custodian at Google, and maybe they can get you an in with their hiring managers, who know? See, possibilities are endless if you open doors, not slam them.

4. Listen carefully. Try to remember names of people you speak to for extended periods. Ask them for their card before parting so you have their name, and offer yours. Chances are they forgot your name as well, and you want to give them something to identify your information by. If you have generic cards, write a short note or give one additional contact on your card to a person you’d really like to remember you. They’ll remember you taking the time to add your cell number to your office card for them specially.

5. Speak up. If there are any questions posed to the crowd, and you have anything even remotely intelligent or interesting to add to the conversation – then do it. This is not the time to be shy. I usually do this and get a lot of positive attention from people looking to hear more about what I said. It’s not because I say something amazing – it’s generally an easy conversation starter – and people would naturally rather make easy conversation than look for a common bond with a different stranger.

So take a few of these tips into account next time you attend an event relevant to you (i.e. don’t walk into a medical conference expecting to make great connections if you’re not in the field). It’s better to go to less places that are specific to the type of people you’d like to meet than to be all over the place and burn out.

Then follow up – link on linkedin or send a quick email to anyone you’d like to stay networked with. Thank them for their acquaintance. Offer to assist them if you have any skills or contacts that would be helpful for them. Remember to keep it a two-way, mutually beneficial relationship or you’ll find these people falling off your radar quickly.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/pWfpN-2M

Is Your Image Stuck in the 90′s?

What would this blog have looked like if I built it in the 90’s (not too shabby, check out the spinning floppy disks, remember them?)?

Let this be a reminder to keep not only your content current, but also you style, fonts, and language.

Want to make your website a blast from the not-so past? http://wonder-tonic.com/geocitiesizer/

Have fun, but remember: Beanie Babies are not cool anymore. Oh wait, they never were.

Get a Great Career – Buy a Book

Lion Cub Job Search: Practical Job Search Assistance for Practical Job Seekers by Lavie Margolin

Without reading this I can comfortably recommend it to job seekers as that Lavie provides sound, logical advice on his blog for job seekers & career changers that I completely agree with.

Lavie’s blog helped inspire my own – so if you’ve been enjoying http://sharon.cc you’ll love this.

$20 is a small investment in finding a long-term career.


Shortlink: http://wp.me/pWfpN-2r


This is Why I’m So Wonderful & Why YOU Can’t Live Without ME!

Your cover letter and resume should politely but obviously convey this message for every single position you apply to – albeit with decorum and honesty.  This does bring me back to one of my most important rules to present everything in the best possible light – but with integrity.

Someone recently pointed out that one of my online profiles seemed to have a tagline that was a bit too much: Young brilliant dynamic creative overachiever with unlimited ambition.

As per Chaim Shapiro, he referred to this as the, “Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound statement.”

And he just might have a point. Actually, make that, yes, he does. Never make statements that you can’t uphold. Exaggerating is about on par with white lying. Don’t let yourself be quoted as saying you’ll “Double profits within a year,” if you can’t necessarily follow through.   

Now back to my tagline: while it might be boastful, and I’m not sure how many more years I have to refer to myself as young (30 sounds like a good cut-off to me), however if I don’t brag about myself & have a headline that gets attention – no one will write one for me. I do have stellar recommendations to back up all that I’ve done, and who will speak to my potential, but this is my own out-there spunky assessment of myself. 

What’s your attention-grabbing assessment of yourself? What do you have written on your taglines, at the top of your resume, and prepared to say in an elevator speech that toots your own horn?

While writing about yourself can prove to be difficult (they say women seem to have the most issues with this) your profiles are your stages. If you don’t get the point across quickly that you’re wonderful and special, few will keep looking for reasons to believe so.

So today’s action item: brag about yourself, just a little, if needed. Some people naturally think the most of themselves and have no issue with this, but if you do, a good place to start might be asking a smart close friend or family member (try grandma even!) what they think your best attributes are, and play those up if they can be a professional asset – which most can.

You’re the best – now convince me of it!

Action: Aspire

Today’s Action Item will be an excerpt from a long post on my blog (one that every mother should read if you haven’t already) that may have been lost at the end of a very long train of thought, but I hope people can appreciate, be inspired, and focus on this excerpt:

My way to find more, to aspire to do better things, is to dream. Everyone once in awhile both on my own, and with my husband, I make us sit down for a brainstorming session. We discuss our dreams and goals. I ask him to let his creative mind wander, and ask the following questions of ourselves:

  • What would we do if we could do anything? If money, time, and resources were of no issue.
  • Where would we live if money, politics, and family weren’t keeping us where we are?
  • What would our ideal lives look like?

By focusing on those main questions every few years, we come up with a mental list of unofficial goals. I have yet to write them down. This way they stay in our minds and hearts, and stay flexible. Our wants and goals evolve and grow as we do – as should yours.

Take some time to dream, even if it’s only one hour once every few years – so at least you know why you’re hustling, what your working towards, and what will make YOU happy (oh yeah and your family/friends too).  Don’t let yourself become the aimless rat in the wheel – run for a purpose, and pat yourself on the back for all that you do.

More General Resume Goodies – Today’s Top 5

Since legislation may extend unemployment I’ve heard sighs of relief, *phew* I don’t need to find a job yet. Please kill this attitude! Find a career you’ll love, not just another job you’ll want to lose. Now’s your chance to put yourself ahead of that rush of cut-off applicants whenever it does come! It’s you vs. everyone cut by the census bureau too now, don’t forget.

1. Keep resume on one page.

A resume is your career achievements & highlights, not your life story. I know there are lots of opinions on this, but your second+ pages probably won’t be read, so why not condense down to relevant information? Very few people have done such amazing things at so many places that it can’t be summarized onto one page. Save something for the interview!

2. Have numerous versions of your resume. This is especially important as you get more senior – have a general resume, and then have specific resumes for fields that highlight relevant experience as you apply.

3. Update your resume regularly. Every time you learn a new program relevant to your field, each time your role changes, every new volunteer program you enter.

Keep it current not only for yourself, but also if you have it posted to any job boards or with any recruiters. Updating regularly will keep you fresh in searches & in people’s minds and it will keep you focused on your career path.

4. Be conscious of what you’ve saved your resume named as. I recommend: SharonSiegelResume or SharonSiegelEdResume. Do not use sharondraft1, ssedits, myresume, newresume. It’s unprofessional, and will get lost on the hiring manager’s computer with everyone else who does myresume.doc.

5. Resume Format. Save as word .doc (97-2003). No docx, wpd, pdf, xps, rtf, etc. You don’t want to lose candidacy because your resume didn’t open or transfer format correctly when downloaded or converted into an applicant tracking system.

A good test of this is when you apply to a position that extracts your information from an upload into fields. If it doesn’t work or shows weird characters, note that the person screening the resume will likely see these as well.

Fail: Letting Go of Talented Employees You Can’t Function Without

I think the only thing sadder than a certain company I know of letting go of their best employees is when they have to hire them back as consultants at a premium.

Although this is a sort-of follow-up on my last FailBlog, it’s worth noting the common mistake.

Certain people cannot be functioned without, at least not without proper succession planning to take over their functions. In cases like this companies need to suck up their pride, put their money where their mouth is, and make a offers to these people who hopefully will take them.

Next time future planning and making well thought out decisions might be a better idea. Here’s a chance for other employers to learn from the mistakes of others!

What Goes Around Comes Around – Don’t Sue.

Taking the blame when you don’t get a job you felt you had coming can be difficult. It’s much more enjoyable to assume the employer wrongly didn’t hire you, and that you can make money off this mistake.

It’s sad to say that we all have to live in fear of getting sued – so allow today’s post to be my disclaimer.

I keep all records, interview notes, and documentation for at least three years out of fear that one day someone will wake up and say, hey, I’m X sexual orientation and really wanted that call center representative position I interviewed for. I bet they didn’t hire me because of that. I’ll sue so I can make lots of money off the city because they have it to spare.

Then I pull my notes.

 Their resume had spelling errors and they could not describe what they did at more than one place of employment, they cursed 3 times during the interview, which they showed up for 40 minutes late. They chewed gum, didn’t take off their blue sunglasses, and didn’t take off their Bluetooth. Their phone rang during the interview, which they did not apologize to the hiring manager for, even when they took the call, to tell the caller they would call them back later. Their clothing was disheveled and stained, hygiene issues noted…

Wow, and this person’s suing. That’s why we keep notes. But save yourself legal fees. It’s very hard to prove you weren’t hired for a specific role for a specific reason – but worse than that, you’ve now burned a bridge. You will never have another interview with the place you’re suing, or its parent companies or affiliates. You never know who owns whom nowadays, or when you might want to be considered again by the employer in the future.

I once had an employee cut due to budget cuts, and then someone voluntarily left the department. I knew the employee was still job hunting, so I recommended to the department’s director that he rehire her. And his answer, “I probably would have, but she’s suing us, claiming she was let go for discrimination, so I can’t.”

So next time you’re thinking of suing over being let go or over not getting a position, why not instead invest those dollars you’d have spent on the lawyer on a career coach, to help you figure out why you’re not getting the positions you want.

They’ll tell you to shut the cellphone, take off the Bluetooth and sunglasses, spit out the gum, show up on time, oh yeah, and apply for position’s you’re qualified for.

I’m very sorry to all people who lose their positions or don’t get the ones they’re after, it’s happened to all of us, but suing isn’t the solution. You’ll just end up in years of conflict with bad karma and a bad name. Maybe you will make some money, but probably not as much as if you had put all that time, money, and effort into finding a better career.

You Lost Me At Hello – Interview Scheduling Manners

If I see one more article called “Acing the Phone Interview” I’m going to scream. These are my Top 5 Pet Peeves.

Think of trying to get a job like you would blind dating. If you don’t make a good impression on the first phone call, you won’t get to the first date. Don’t make mistakes of turning off a potential employer at the start, because it can easily be done. If the call ends in, “actually the hiring manager’s calendar is really full at the moment now that I look, we’ll call you if any availability shows up,” then you’ve already blown it. Attempt damage control (will visit that topic another time) and keep your dignity. There are other fish (*ahem) jobs in the waters.

I wish I didn’t have to say these things, and wish we were all perfectly courteous all the time, but we’re human, and in my geographic case, we’re New Yorkers, and we’ve got attitude. Just be sure to curb it until your first year or so or until you have the big office in the corner. Then you can bite off whoever’s head you’d like and take the years of frustration from holding back out on your inferiors. Ignore my advice, and you may never make it to the cubicle!

1. Mind your ringback tone and voicemail. If I hear cursing in the song on your ringtone, or on your answering machine, you’re not getting an interview.

I’ll never forget when I called to schedule a director interview on speakerphone in front of the executive director they would have reported to, and their ringtone was Kanye West’s “Heartless.” Needless to say the ED decided he didn’t need a Director who was hurting so badly over a breakup that they’d be that unprofessional. They disqualified themselves without ever knowing it – we didn’t leave a message.

2. Always answer your phone politely! Obviously a call from a company that you applied to will be either an unknown caller or restricted number. It might be a telemarketer, but it also might have been your future boss who disqualified you due to your rude or suspicious tone answering the phone.

I find it entertaining when I hear someone’s tone change from apprehension to excitement when they realize they’re getting called about a position they applied to. Just be cool people, it’d be more impressive.

3. Always feel comfortable to ask questions about a position, but never let salary be question number one. No one likes a gold-digger. Let conversation flow towards benefits & compensation, and hope the scheduler shares it with you. If they don’t go on the interview anyway, interview experience is always great.

4. Learn from your own mistakes. If a call or interview goes poorly or if you are not invited on to the next stage of gaining employment then try to troubleshoot yourself or with a trusted friend. Figure out what to do next time to make a better impression.

5. Remember that you’ve got the lower hand. You want to make a good impression and sway the person calling you to like you. You never know who they are within a company, and whether or not they have influence. The same for those who sit at the front desk when you come in, the first round interview and the HR folk in general. Say or do one inappropriate thing at any time, and you might even find an offer of employment rescinded if you offend anyone.