10 Year End Tweaks & Tips

Reindeer GuyWhat would the end of the year be without lists? Best books, worst movies, most dramatic failures, the most influential people; the list of lists goes on. In that spirit, but hopefully much more useful, are some quick tips and tweaks that you can complete in a few minutes each.

  1. How is your profile photo? If you aren’t happy with your headshot that you use for LinkedIn, Twitter and other sites, take a moment during the holidays to take a new one. You will probably be dressed nicely and with other people, and everyone has a camera, so do it. Don’t wear the reindeer sweater!
  2. Scroll through your LI contacts with this question in mind: “What good work do I remember about this person doing on which I can base a LinkedIn recommendation?” Start at Z in your contacts for a change, and work your way from the bottom. Write the recommendation. It will be a wonderful holiday gift that will be appreciated much more than the Scooby Doo Chia Pet from Walgreen’s.
  3. Review just your current job’s block in your LinkedIn profile. What have you done this year that isn’t included. Update this and your résumé with your 2012 accomplishments.
  4. Again, review your contacts. Whom have you not spoken with in a long time? Send a note or make a call. Check in. Keep your network alive. A “Happy Holidays!” wish is always a great reason call.
  5. Invest some of your downtime (New Year’s Day, perhaps) taking inventory of your volunteer work. You haven’t done any? Check Catchafire or VolunteerMatch for ideas, or look close to home. The Rotary, Lions, faith communities, and the Boys & Girls Clubs are great places to start.
  6. Start that blog you have been thinking about. WordPress and other sites couldn’t be easier to use. You have great ideas to share. What are you waiting for?
  7. Check your privacy settings in your social media accounts. Are they still appropriately set for your needs? While you’re at it, change your passwords to something more secure than 123456.
  8. Update your signature block in your email account. Be sure that it reflects your professional brand as it should and that all information is current.
  9. Actively participate in a different LinkedIn or Quora conversation once a day for a week. See what it does for your thinking, creativity and networking.
  10. Drop the cash for a box of personal business cards. 123Print and Vista Print are good, cheap sources to get your personal networking cards printed.

What are you working on? Do you have other ideas for quick-hit tweaks for the final days of the year? Please share them.

Do you want to know more about Catchafire? Read about my experience here.

Bill Florin, CPRW is the President of Resu-mazing Services Company in Monroe, CT.

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LI: Recommend or Endorse?

The LinkedIn universe has been buzzing lately about the endorsement feature. Is this a good thing? How is it different than recommendations? Should I do it? Here are some quick answers to clear up the confusion.

Endorsements allow a first-level connection to acknowledge that a person has the skills that s/he says she does. For example, Amee adds “customer service” and “project management” to the skills section of her profile. Jim, who worked with Amee, knows that she has these skills and clicks the endorse button next to the corresponding skills on Amee’s profile. Jim can’t endorse skills that Amee hasn’t indicated that she has.

Endorsements are a quick and easy way to add more credibility to a colleague’s profile. The endorser just taps the button and moves along.

Recommendations require more work and can be more valuable. Amee could either ask Jim for a recommendation, or Jim could write one without being asked. Either way, Amee can review the recommendation and choose to show it on her profile or not. Recommendations have the added value of being free form; their effectiveness is limited only be the recommender’s writing ability.

If you ask for a recommendation, be specific as to what it should say. If Amee thinks that Jim can say great things about her project management skills, she should ask for a recommendation focusing on that quality, maybe even offering an example to help jog Jim’s memory. Example: “Jim – Remember when we worked on the Alpha Project. Would you please write a recommendation for me about how I brought the project in 10 days early and $50,000 under budget?”

Both options, of course, allow LinkedIn users to validate what a person is already saying about him or herself. Plus, they help you build your network’s strength by helping others, a foundational concept of LinkedIn. Have some fun, brighten some else’s day and get going with your recommendations and endorsement.

Bill Florin, CPRW is the President of Resu-mazing Services Company.

Golden Rule Recruiting

First, excuse me if this sounds like a rant coming from the other side of the table. It’s not. My hope is that these are reminders about what you already know, and that they offer a perspective that you have not heard.

As a professional who assists and advises clients in their career marketing and search activities, though, I do hear a lot about some of the treatment they receive from recruiters. If you want to really feel some of that heat, attend one of my seminars that attract up to 30 people in a session. When we get to the topic of following up on inquiries and after interviews, the intensity and the volume both rise to a higher level. Here is the question that stirs the emotions of attendees:

The recruiter told me that I would hear something within two weeks, but it’s been a month. What should I do?

The question itself is simple enough, but the reaction it gets from others is powerful. There is a universal loathing for perceived fib-telling and forgetful recruiters, whether they are staff recruiters for a hiring company or third-party pros sourcing candidates for their clients. The howls of frustration are tough to hear and there isn’t much to say other than, “It’s unfortunate, but it happens.”

So what’s the difference? Why should the recruiter care? As if doing the right thing isn’t enough, it comes down to the impact on the employer’s brand. Whether a recruiter is an employee of the hiring company or with an outside firm, both have the power to enhance or damage the brand. This may be more true in consumer-oriented companies that might alienate a customer with shoddy recruiting practices, but it’s not limited to them. Even if the organization sells helicopters to the Chilean army, it still has a reputation to maintain. Every marketing dollar is precious, so why behave in a way that diminishes yours or your client’s credibility?

If you don’t think that people talk and share their experiences, head over to Glassdoor.com to see a concentrated sampling of stories told by happy and unhappy job seekers. Candidates treated with respect with a clear, consistent and fair process will give credit as it is deserved. Those who get something less will take full advantage to scream from atop their digital soap boxes.

Here are a few ideas that can help make everyone’s lives easier:

  • If you say that you will call back with a decision or next steps by a certain date, do it. Even if the decision has not been finalized by the deadline, an update with a new due date will be appreciated.
  • Shoot straight. If the answer is no, then say it. Your candidate will appreciate the opportunity to cross the possibility off the list and to stop thinking about it.
  • Set expectations at every touch-point and deliver. If your candidate is traveling, be sure that the details are addressed. If you made the appointment for 10 AM, don’t leave the candidate stewing in the lobby until 11.
  • Hold your peers accountable to do the same. Set the example and expect them to follow.

The extra attention and energy committed to treating candidates the way that you would want to be treated will pay off. And hey, you will probably be on the other side of the table someday, too. Pay it forward, recruiter!

Saying Goodbye

Don’t be a jerk. That’s about 98% of what you need to know about leaving your job before taking the next step in your career. The objective is to go out with class, respect for others – even if you don’t like someone – and respect for yourself. You should know most of this, but here are some quick reminders.

Intellectual Property. Remember that stack of paperwork you signed – either actual paper or electronic forms – that talked about the company’s property and secrets. They meant all that stuff. Avoid the temptation to copy and swipe information. An ethical employer is not going to be interested in facilitating or encouraging thievery, anyway. Plus, it’s just wrong.

Contacts. In our hyper-connected age of social media, you should have all of your contacts already, but you should take time before giving notice to have everything that you will need. Names, email addresses and phone numbers at a minimum. You may never see your desk again after resigning.

Proper Notice. Give at least two weeks for your employer to react, but be ready to see the door from the minute you say goodbye. Some companies will have you stick around; others want you gone ASAP.

Coworkers. Everyone has friends at work, and probably one or two that you won’t miss. Fight the urge to tell people how you feel, no matter how satisfying that may be. Chances are great that you will come to regret what you said, and it comes back to doing what’s right. Be respectful.

Be Thankful. Whether you have been with your current employer for six months or 16 years, your run there began with excitement and optimism. Chances are that you learned a lot and your company invested some time and money into developing you. Say thank you to everyone who has helped you. You will all feel great and you burnish your reputation as a professional. Win – win!

Go out with a smile and help others come to miss you and your positive professionalism. Congratulations on your new job!

Bill Florin, CPRW is President of Resu-mazing Services Company. Contact Bill for help with your job search, career management and personal brand questions.

Social Media Inventory: Unfriend a Few?

LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media can kill your career search. Or, they can be a profoundly helpful. The contributions to your search and the arch of your career are very much up to you. Understanding the importance of these platforms (see this CNN story for a reminder) should give the job hunter the motivation to do some repair work and to take a more proactive stance for future use before it’s too late.

First, understand that it is too late when you have already started an active job search. Should you be fortunate enough to have your résumé get past the applicant tracking system (ATS) and seen by a human, there is a good chance that your social media presence will be reviewed before you get a call for an interview. Your LinkedIn profile and Facebook page are just the beginning. Consider every social media tool that you use, including any comments or interactions that you use with your real name. All of this is very discoverable by drilling down past the first Google search screen.

The time to start is before you start a job search. At the least, review your pages on the big platforms (LI, FB, etc.) Use this criteria as you consider what your presence is saying about you: “If I did not know me, would I want to add me to this employer’s team based on what I am seeing?” If there are posts and pictures and links that leave you uncomfortable with the answer to that question, delete them now.

Next, consider how some of that material got there in the first place. Are your friends and family taking pictures of you and tagging you in ways that will not help your job hunt? If so, ask them to refrain. If they can’t or won’t or just do not understand the reason why, consider blocking or deleting those people during your search so that they can’t continue. If these people are true friends, they will understand. If not, well…

Set some rules for yourself on how and why you will use social media. Those rules may vary from platform to platform. I use LinkedIn and Twitter only for professional uses. Facebook is where I have fun and goof around with my friends and family. No matter what, think long and hard before posting anything that could be controversial or uncomfortable. You may have strong political views. Fine. Choose another outlet for your passions while job hunting. Facebook will be there after you get the new gig.

Finally, be strategic in the future – starting today – with your use of the social media. If you have rules set for yourself on what material goes to which channel, take it to the next step and plan the quality, quantity and timing of your interactions. If you are working to build your brand as an expert in a field, think about and develop content that helps achieve that goal (this blog is an example). If it doesn’t do that, don’t waste your time and that of others with low-value material.

Social media is our new reality. Be diligent and consistent in your interactions in this part of your professional ecosystem. The standard is simple: If your online presence is not helping you, it is hurting.

Bill Florin, CPRW is President of Resu-mazing Services Company. Contact Bill for help with your job search, career management and personal brand questions.

New Direction: An Open Letter

Today is the first day of the next step in my career and the first day of full-time self-employment. After years working for top employers, including Target, Edward Jones Investments, Kohl’s and others, Resu-mazing Services Company is now my sole focus. The experiences and responsibilities in the past have been tremendous as I have led teams of up to 500 people, focused on human resources, sales development and business operations and have gotten to know so many wonderful people whom I am fortunate to call friends. Today I must take everything that I have learned and make it work with my own business. I am sharing this letter with everyone for three reasons.

First, to say, “Thank you!” Resu-mazing Services Company started as a part-time experiment three years ago. As my clients had success with their new résumés and other career marketing materials, the referrals started to come. I believe it true that the highest compliment in business is a referral from a delighted client. Those compliments have become a regular part of the growth of Resu-mazing. Thank you to everyone who has made that happen and have witnessed that “Amazing Résumés Work!”

Second, to convey my commitment to you, my clients. So many of the people I have been able to help have become friends. These are relationships that I value and I get excited when my friends have success. By making this work my professional specialty, I will be better able to serve everyone, existing and new clients alike. For Resu-mazing to continue its growth trajectory, I must give it more time.

Third, you will be seeing new services from Resu-mazing. Being more accurate, you will hear more about existing services and a host of new services. You will see cloud-based value added services to make the Resu-mazing experience even better. One-stop personal branding and career marketing services, including pre-scheduled updates and content creation will be available very soon. These are just two services coming this summer.

My family and I are looking forward to this next step in my career. I am looking forward to making even more friends as I help others find success in their searches. You can look forward to more and better services and a true partner in managing and advancing your career. Thank you for reading this and for your ongoing support of Resu-mazing Services Company!

Bill Florin is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and President of Resu-mazing Services Company in Monroe, Connecticut.

Much More than Baseball Cards

When I was growing up in Dobbs Ferry (NY), an important activity for almost every boy I knew was collecting, trading and competing for baseball cards. Topps was all we knew, and every new season offered a new quest for collecting the whole set. We would trade our doubles, search hard for the best players, and sometimes risk it all with flipping and scaling cards. The scaling option, in which players compete to scale cards to be closest to the wall, was usually a bad one. It was a game of skill and there were a few guys who couldn’t be beat. If you were going against Joe Giuliano, you could save everyone lots of time by just handing him your cards and moving along to your next class. He was that good. Watching him play was like watching a machine. Scale, grunt defeat, watch Joe take the cards, repeat.

I wonder how many people who stack up contacts using LinkedIn view the process much like the search for the missing players, with the difference being that the roster of players counts in the millions, rather than less than a thousand each year. I wonder if the quality of the connections is about as high. For those who have amassed 950 LinkedIn contacts, have they ever thought, “Would MaryJo in Seattle take my call?”

Networking activities need to be a lot more than a few clicks in the latest social media tool. Like anything else in life, your networking activities will only be as good as the effort that you put into them. Find common interests and make meaningful connections. Try making a phone call or sending a personal note, something much more than, “I would like to add you to my professional network.”

Think about your efforts. Have they been meaningful and have they led to important professional connections, creating a web of colleagues who might actually care about the relationship with you? Or have your activities been more focused on body count? If your networking is similar to that of a bunch of 12 year olds flipping Reggie Jacksons, you have some work to do.