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How to Research Jobs

The Secret Keywords for Your Job Search: Unveiled!

Have you spent hours searching job boards for position listings?

Do you know what you want but get too many search results when you look for it? 2159980025_4e6b965217

Did you know employers and hiring managers are very sophisticated when they look for candidates, and know just the right key words to use?

Here are a few examples of how recruiters scout candidates 

C++ java -jobs -samples intitle:resume OR inurl:resume AND Cleveland
this is an example of a Google Search for software candidates in Cleveland

("business analyst" OR "systems analyst" or Analyst or BA) and (Retail or POS or "point of sales") and (ecommerce or e-commerce or web or internet) and (inventory or SCM or "supply chain") and ("crystal report*)
this is a search string from a recruiter challenged to find candidates for Business Analyst positions with experience in Crystal Reports. This search string is one that can be used inside job boards.

Today, we're going to help you level the playing field.

I'm working with the recruiting industry insiders who built the products used by 70% of the Fortune 500 to find candidates. We are going to give you a customized string for your job search.

After years of helping companies identify candidates to find jobs, my friends Chris Forman and Tim McKegney founded StartWire, a private social networking platform, to help job seekers find the right jobs.

If you join StartWire by Monday and complete a profile that share your interests--ideal job title, industry sectors of interest and location, Chris and Tim will provide you with your own custom Boolean search string you can use to save time.

Registering on StartWire takes less than five minutes, and you'll get your search string within 48 hours--at the latest. Sound good?

To your success,


(P.S. StartWire will help you find keywords to search for the right job, if you need help finding keywords for your resume, check out this post I wrote on how to find the best keywords through a tag cloud.)

Cross-posted on Secrets of the Job Hunt. Photo by Cayusa.


The Six Reasons You'll Get the Job (Learn 'Em in NYC 10/14)

My friend and former colleague Elisabeth Harney Sanders-Park has just co-written her second book, the 6 Reasons Why You'll Get the Job (Penguin). I am pleased to announce that the NYC Job Seekers 6 ReasonsGroup, the grassroots job search group that I host in Manhattan, will be offering a special four hour workshop with Elisabeth and her co-author, Debra Angel MacDougall, the morning of October 14, 2010.

There is no cost to sign up. For additional details--including hours and location of the event--please sign up for the MeetUp group and RSVP.

Hope to see you there!

Note to Recent Grads: Advice Worth Ignoring

I worked on college campuses for over a decade before starting my own business, and I've seen a lot of Pomp and Circumstance come and go. I've watched graduates saunter out into great jobs in a strong economy, and I've watched more than a few turn around and go straight back to school in a down economy. But regardless of whether you graduate this year, next year or you graduated five years ago, here are three statements that you can expect to hear--and which I think you should ignore.Hne

1. This is the worse job market in ___ years. You will never get a job. (Assume this is right and don't apply for jobs, you can guarantee you won't get one.)

A CEO I once worked with loved to tell the story of a man who was angry with God because he hadn't won the lottery. He shook his fists and shouted at the sky, "Why haven't I won? I deserve it. I'm a good man, I've worked hard. Why won't you help me?"

The clouds parted, a loud voice spoke. "My son, buy a ticket."

Moral: You have to apply for jobs in order to be in the game.

2. You need a stimulus package to get a job. A recent Op/Ed in the New York Times pleaded for a stimulus package to incentivize employers to offer new grads entry-level jobs. While a stimulus package may very well help, it's important to remember that people are getting jobs--with regularity.

According to the Department of Labor, nonfarm payroll employment has expanded by 573,000 since December. The number of unemployed is under 10% nationally. It's true that there are more unemployed recent graduates now than there were two years ago, but it doesn't mean that you don't have a chance of landing a job. You just need to pay attention to where the jobs are--both in terms of industry sector and in terms of location.

Action step: Take a look at Indeed's job postings per capita or industry employment trends. Consider refining your search based on what you find!

(I found a job in a recession post-college, when I decided to make a contrary move. I moved to DC instead of New York to seek out a job as an Editorial Assistant in book publishing. My job search took three weeks.)

3. You will enjoy living with your parents--forever. Every year, the percentage of recent graduates moving back home to live with their parents increases...While this may not be your plan "A," it may not be your parents either. Take a look at this New Yorker Shouts and Murmur's piece.

Not sure whether to laugh or cry? If your mom tells you they are moving to a new house so that there is less space to clean up, you may want to take this as a subtle hint. (This really happened to a friend of mine...he was finally told "we love you but we don't have anymore room.)

Bottom line: Ignore the naysayers, and the gloom and doom statistics.

Your job search isn't about numbers. It may be a numbers game to find positions, but in the end, people hire people--not resumes or online applications. Proof positive: All of the recent grads who were guest bloggers on this site last summer to discuss their "hire me" strategies have jobs. Full-time ones with benefits.

For the most part, the best way to get hired is the same as it was 15 years ago:

  • Know what you are good at
  • Learn what employers need
  • Target the market and research potential opportunities
  • Build a community/network
  • Apply
  • Articulate how you can meet employer needs

Yes, social media has complicated the process, but it's also shortened the distance between people and opportunities. (Earlier today, I reached out on Twitter to share a piece I wrote for Career Hub about Olympic Gold Medalist, Natalie Coughlin. She wrote back. How cool is that?)

What are you waiting for? Get out there! (Then let me know how I can help.)

Footprints and Associations: Job Search Tips for the Holidays.

This post is one in a series of posts by members of the “Career Collective,” a community of job search experts who provide different perspectives on a common theme each month. This month’s theme: the holiday job search!

December is traditionally thought of as the “sleeper season” for job search. Conventional wisdom seems to run that as the days grow shorter, so do the opportunities—and that the holidays postpone hiring plans until after the New Year.

In all actuality, December is a great time to recharge your job search and to strengthen and build connections across your network. Here are three ways to do it:

  1. Include your digital “career” footprint in your e-mail signature. Providing others with a link to your LinkedIn or Visual CV signature can lead a “gingerbread” trail back to the web version of your resume. (It’s much sweeter than sending out a resume in your e-mails; if you “tweet,” you can also include your Twitter handle.)

    Tip: To create your own customized LinkedInURL, edit your "Public Profile" settings and create your own customized shortcut. If your first and last name are already taken, consider adding location or profession - e.g. NancySpragueNYC or NancySpragueHRDir

  2. Consider joining a professional association by year’s end if you’ve been meaning to do it—and haven’t gotten around to it! It may be tax-deductible. A win-win, considering that local events and larger conferences can facilitate in-person connections and frequently provide job leads.

    Tip: You can find directories of Associations by area of interest through the American Society of Association Executives or Weddle's Association Directory

  3. Open up your ears at holiday parties. The more you learn about what other people need, the more you have an awareness of how you can help. And the more you demonstrate your willingness to help and take action when you can, the more likely you are to find it yourself the recipient of such leads when karma springs back again…

Use the following three approaches and you may find yourself under the job search mistletoe, take the additional advice from my colleagues in the Career Collective and I guarantee that you will!

@MartinBuckland, Elite Resumes, "Season's Greetings and your Job Search"

@GayleHoward, The Executive Brand, "It's Christmas: And a ho-ho-ho-hum?"

@KCCareerCoach, Career Chaos, "The Gift Every Laid Off Job Seeker Needs"

@resumeservice, Resume Writing Blog,"Holiday Resume Sparkle: Outshine the New Year Job-Search Mob"

@heathermundell, life@work, "Have a Holly Jolly Job Search"
@LaurieBerenson, Sterling Career Concepts, Three Resolutions to Take It Up a Notch

@KatCareerGal, Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog, Avoiding the Holiday Blues in Your Job Search
@ValueIntoWords, Career Trend, Navigating the Mistle Toe of Job Search



Where the Green Jobs Are

I'm pleased to be participating in Job Action Day for the second consecutive year. Through Job Action Day, you can find a spate of career advice designed to help you jump start your job search or stimulate your own career management--regardless of your current employment status.  Job_action_day 

This year, the theme for Job Action day is "environmental jobs" and my friends at the Career Collective and I are painting the web green with information on trends in " sustainable jobs." We've been challenged to present strategies providing workers and job seekers with information, ideas and concrete steps to secure their futures in a changed economy.

I spent eight years working inside the Ivory Tower. My friends kid me that sometimes I have the tendency to "go academic in my blog." Today, I'm showcasing my inner geek and enjoyment of raw data. Where's the best place to find a secure future?

Make sure you know where to go: Study the trends and demand for workers at both the senior and entry-level!

Here's a chart I put together comparing the "war for talent" in the c-suite (where executive recruiters receive their business) and starting salaries.

Top Industry Growth by Search Firm (ExecuNet)

Five Highest Starting Salaries by Major (NACE)



Clean/Green Technology



Business Services

Chemical Engineering $64,902

Computer Engineering $61,738

Computer Science $61, 407

Electrical Engineering $60,125

Industrial/Manufacturing Engineering $58,358

Think this is a new trend that came in with the Obama administration? Not a chance...Take a look at the numbers for the last four years here.

My recommendation for Job Action Day? Before you start a job search, talk to at least three people who work in your intended field or job search function of interest. Find out:

  • The skills you need
  • The projected hiring outlook
  • How can you strengthen your skills to meet the needs of your intended field and job function?

Then, position yourself for the market to show that you can meet these needs!

That's my tip for Job Action Day, I'm off to read the others from my friends at the Career Collective. Check it out:

Meg Montford:  Job Action Day: Finding Your “MOJO” After Layoff

Debra Wheatman: Plan B from outer space; or what do you have in case your first plan doesn’t work out?

Heather Mundell: Green Jobs – What They Are and How to Find Them,

Erin Kennedy: Cutting Edge Job Search Blueprint

Grace Kutney: Securing Your Career While Navigating the Winds of Change

Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa– Why Our Job Search Advice is the Same but Different

Gayle Howard: The Enlightened Jobseeker

Laurie Berenson: Making lemonade out of lemons: Turn unemployment into entrepreneurship

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter: You Can Thrive In, Not Just Survive, an Economic Slogging

Rosalind Joffe: Preparedness: It’s Not Just for Boyscouts

Rosa E. Vargas: Are You Evolving Into The In-Demand Professional of Tomorrow?

Dawn Bugni: Your network IS your net worth

Miriam Salpeter: Optimize your job hunt for today’s economy

GL Hoffman: The Life of An Entrepreneur: Is It for You?

Katharine Hansen: Job Action Day 09: His Resume Savvy Helped New Career Rise from Layoff Ashes

Martin Buckland: Job Search–The Key to Securing Your Future Career.

Barbara Safani: Where the Jobs Are: 2009 and Beyond.

Heather R. Huhman, Take Action: 10 Steps for Landing an Entry-Level Job,

Career Resources for Climate Change

 I am pleased to be participating in Blog Action Day 2009, a unified effort of the blogging community to discuss a common theme. This year's theme is "Climate Change."    

I'll be talking more about the green jobs market in November (stay tuned for Job Action Day from Quint Careers). In the interim, here are three suggested strategies for pursuing a professional career that can make a positive difference in contributing to the health of our environmental climate.   

Educate Yourself

OneWorld Guide to Climate Change (from the UK)

Cuncil on Foreign Relations' Crisis Guide to Climate Change (Council on Foreign Relations)

Climate Change: A Guide for the Perplexed (The New Scientist)

Explore Opportunities

Green Energy Jobs: Careers in Climate Change
Look beyond the introduction page to find information on jobs and opportunities.

Green Biz Jobs
Job listings from renewable energy to sustainability

Making the Difference
A Guide to Opportunities in Public Service from the largest employer in the U.S.--the federal government!

Consider a Trip Back To School

Many U.S. colleges and universities offer state-of-the art programs in Environmental Studies. Here are two innovative programs.

GreenCorps: The Field School for Environmental Organizing

Columbia University
Master's Degree in Climate and Society

To Your Success,


"Come Recommended" (Or How to Avoid Job Search Surprises)

Chocolates All too frequently, the job search process is like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates: You never know what you are going to get! Just as chocolate obscures the marashino cherries I try to avoid, you can land in a job that isn't a fit even if it seems perfect for you. Lurking under the smooth polish of the hiring manager's desk --hidden Internal politics, mis-aligned job functions, and unhappy previous employees.

I don't know about you, but I don't like surprises. And neither do employers. If you've ever worked in a job that's the wrong fit for you, you know how painful it can be. In order to avoid this, I advocate research: An look for clues on organizational dynamics throughout the application process--from talking to others who've worked there before, to asking questions about work environment and culture--and observing interactions between colleagues during interviews.

This week, I wanted to let you know about a new service designed to help job seekers and employers know "what they're getting into." Come Recommended features job opportunities for internships and entry-level positions that requires all participants--both employers and potential employees--to have three recommendations before you can join. I asked the Founder of Come Recommended, Heather Huhman to explain how the site works, and how to get great recommendations. Here is our Q & A:

1. Tell us about Come Recommended: Why is the site an efficient way to find your next opportunity?

Come Recommended is an exclusive online community connecting the best internship and entry-level job candidates with the best employers. Unlike other exclusive recruiting networks, Come Recommended requires both candidates and employers provide at least three recommendations before accessing the community and its features.

As someone who has been in nearly every employment-related situation possible, I founded the site--in part--as a result of my passion for helping students and recent college graduates pursue their dream careers. I wanted to create a community that made this possible in an easy and affordable way--particularly in this tough job market. Additionally, as an experienced hiring manager, I know the difficulties employers face when looking for that perfect candidate. A community like Come Recommended can help close this gap and make the hiring process easier for everyone.

The idea behind Come Recommended--creating an opportunity for highly recommended employers and candidates to meet and network in an online setting--just makes sense. Internship and entry-level job candidates and employers can “pre-screen” each other via comprehensive online profiles, real-time instant messaging, webcam interviews, and of course, detailed recommendations, all on the same Come Recommended platform.

2. How do you recommend users prepare to "get recommended"? Can you share best practices for job seekers to use in providing information to those who recommend them? (i.e. current copy of resume, example of what they've done in past positions, etc.)

I have two “golden rules” when it comes to references:

Rule #1: Ask your intended references if they would be willing to serve as your references.

Rule #2: Ask your intended references what they would say about you if called by a hiring manager. You don’t want any surprises!

Don’t think you have individuals in your life who could serve as job references? For internship and entry-level job candidates, references can include current or previous employers, industry professionals (who you know well and who know you well), professors/teachers and other non-family members who can speak about you either professionally or personally (i.e., your character).

No one fits the bill? Make it your number-one priority to develop references. Typically you are asked to provide three (at most, one personal reference). While you will likely update your reference list throughout your career as you meet and work with new people, your initial group will help you secure positions throughout and immediately after college. It is essential you make these connections.

3. What's the biggest mistake you've seen job seekers make in terms of "how to get recommended"?

Not following the two rules above, or faking references completely.

4. How does Come Recommended potentially change the hiring process from the employer's perspective? From the candidate's experience?

Instead of the reference check coming at the end of the hiring process, Come Recommended moves it right to the beginning. This is huge, particularly on the employer’s end. Knowing you haven’t wasted your time conducting several interviews with a candidate just to be disappointed during the reference check is game changing, in my opinion.

Of course, most recent graduates leave their first jobs out of college within two years, and the experience typically leaves a very bad taste in their mouths—possibly encouraging them to rethink their career paths altogether. So, if the candidate is more informed before even getting to the application process by reading a profile of the organization not found anywhere else, this situation can possibly be avoided. Again, game changing.

5. What inspired you to create Come Recommended, and how can individuals become part of the community?

Well, it all started when I set out to fill my very first job as a hiring manager—an entry-level position for a small public relations firm. We received nearly 100 applications after posting the position to both Craigslist and I scoured the stack looking for ways to “weed out” candidates and identify ones with potential.

Finally, I narrowed the list down to five and started making calls. My “phone screens” have always been fairly in-depth because of the position I held with this company. If I brought someone in, he or she would meet with the principal of the firm, and I certainly didn’t want to waste any of her valuable time. I vividly remember loving one candidate for this position in particular on paper and during the phone interview—at least until I asked if she had any questions. Her question? “So, what do you alls do over there?” No, that isn’t a typo.

I remember feeling so frustrated that I had just spent 45 minutes of time on this candidate—not to mention the time sifting through all the applications—that I could have been billing to clients. There had to be a better way.

I think I knew then I would found Come Recommended, although I didn’t have the name picked out or all the details firmly outlined. That moment came much later—after interviewing countless candidates and hundreds of young professionals and hiring managers in my role as the entry-level careers columnist for Even though I recognize there will never be a “perfect” solution or a “one-stop shop” for candidates and employers, Come Recommended is certainly a step in the right direction.

Many experts now claim traditional online job boards are dead. They have become behemoths, bogged down by fake or misleading job ads and résumés of unqualified candidates. And although I encourage candidates not to leave combing the job boards out of their search plan, that action alone simply isn’t enough anymore.

The way hiring managers seek out and employ individuals is changing—rapidly. With the slumping economy, they are experiencing cuts in their staffs, resources and overall budgets. Now, networking, referrals and references reign supreme. And on the flip side, it is taking candidates longer and longer to find internships and entry-level jobs, again because of the economy. But, the problem is, even when the economy recovers—and it will, with time—the days of only posting your position on a traditional online job board or blasting out your résumé to potential employers is over. Both sides deserve more.

Registration on Come Recommended is straightforward and free. Simply visit and click “Create Account.”

Thanks, Heather!

Networking for Introverts

Today's blog post is authored by Catherine Ho, a recent Stanford grad and fundraising researcher at a large arts nonprofit. She spends much of her time networking, solidifying her long-term career goals, and advancing her interest in brand marketing. I asked Catherine to write a guest post after noticing her ability to ask thought-provoking questions on Twitter.Catherine_Ho (She also has a great knack for summarizing news and sharing interesting trends on Twitter.)
As you'll see, Catherine chose to wrote about a topic of interest to many of the job seekers that I work with--networking strategies for "introverts." (Thanks, Catherine!)

Transitioning into a new industry with little to no experience can be daunting. Over the last 2 years since graduation, I've taught myself the basics of successful networking.
As an introvert, networking never comes naturally. It requires quite a bit of planning and mental preparation. I see too many of my peers dismissing the power of networking as they sit comfortably in their jobs.

Regardless of whether you are job searching or not, networking can open many doors. With a lot of hard work, I've been able to secure a few volunteer and part-time opportunities that will boost my work experience in my chosen industry. If you excel at what you CAN control, you can trust in yourself that key contacts will come out of the woodwork and see you as a dependable, eager, curious learner. Confidence is absolutely key for introverts.

Tools needed: Linkedin, Twitter, resume, professional organizations, and of course informational interviews. The informational interview has been the most valuable for me because it is widely accepted as a way to meet people and receive real insight about a company or industry. Your mileage may vary. Utilize what works best. Here are my five recommendations:
1. Take Chances

When in doubt, take every little opportunity given to you. If you are nervous of the meeting's outcome, just remember that the worst thing that can happen is that he/she says no to your request, in which case you'll move on to the next possible contact. Last month I was given the option of meeting a CEO of a food startup for an informational interview either over the phone or at their office. I chose to go to his office despite the fact that it was all the way across town and quite early before my workday. This decision made a world of difference for me. I was able to get to know the company culture, study their product packaging, and meet one of the CEO's colleagues. I was also less nervous than I would be over the phone. I'm now working with his colleague on a very exciting volunteer project that will give me valuable experience to show to potential employers.

2. Know Your Objectives

Know your objectives before each and every point of contact. Have an agenda prepared before your meeting and do your best to stick to it. Make sure it includes thoughtful questions prepared in advance in addition to your research of a company. During the meeting you can gauge what direction the meeting is going and shift around your agenda as you see fit. To research the company, study the latest press releases, Google News and Finance, note any major changes in investor news and stock prices. A great resource is your local business times, well as Fast Company, BusinessWeek, and other business-related periodicals. If needed, prepare rough phone scripts and key points in notes form. I sometimes get flustered over the phone, so this helps me with my confidence level because I don't have to think on the spot about which questions I will ask. Obviously, this structure requires a bit of effort and preparation beforehand, but it will allow you to guide the meeting with ease and confidence.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice

As an introvert, I find that the only way to improve my networking skills is to have more face-to-face time with potential contacts. It has become a skill that I can turn "on" when I'm in the right mindset and about to enter a networking event. Strike a healthy balance of online and in person networking. Joining a professional organization is also a great idea. I'm an active member of a great professional organization called Future Women Leaders in San Francisco. It has helped me learn how to effectively network while learning key business skills in the company of similar young professionals. Develop a busy schedule of networking events, which you can often find advertised online. Practicing face-to-face made me more confident as a person and has positively affected my social life as well, which is a huge bonus for me!

4. Be Professional, No Matter What

Always be as professional, courteous and polite as you would want them to be with you, even if you think the meeting was a flop. Think positively and don't let your own perspective cloud your judgment because you have no idea what the second party is thinking. Apply all the skills you learned about personalized emails, prompt thank you notes, and common courtesy in full force. Always ask if there's anything you can do for your contact. You are not networking just for a job; you are networking to build a great group of trusted professionals you can turn to in future times of need. Demonstrate your maturity level and your awareness in the importance of networking, which is often unexpected in young professionals.

5. Trust Your Instincts
Be prepared for a lot of "no"s and non-answers. Realize that you will not always be able to connect or "click" with a person. Choose to cold-contact strategic people that you feel would be great to have and trust your instincts. Raid your alumni database. If you hear of a name mentioned by someone, research how to contact them. If you read an article by an author you find fascinating, find that person. Be persistent and proactive! It's easier these days to find people with LinkedIn, web search, and email. For the contacts that stick, update them regularly (quarterly is a good rule of thumb) with each major stepping stone or ask them out for coffee and a chance to get out of the office to catch up. This will keep you on their radar. Many people are impressed and flattered to be asked to share their knowledge and advice.


I have met some true gems through my networking, and I will never forget their kindness, taking a chance on me as I navigate into an industry in which I have little to no experience. Most importantly, be sure to pay it forward when you have reached your success! Best of luck.

You can find and connect with Catherine on Twitter: @catherinewithac

Kelly Giles: How I Tweeted My Way to a Full-time Job

The following is a guest blog post from Kelly Giles (@kellygiles), a recent college grad who I met via Twitter. I’ve been following Kelly’s job search since early this winter, and quickly identified her as a “walking example” of how you can conduct a job search while you are still in college even if you are still figuring out what you want. Here is her story:Me

I'm one of those Web 2.0 success stories you keep hearing about. I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill on May 10, and I started working full-time as a social media strategist for on May 26.

I tweet, blog and Facebook about job search strategies and help people make the most of Optimal Resume's software.

I’d be lucky to have this job in any economy, but especially in this one. It matches my interests and skills, the company and environment are great, and I'm able to contribute and learn a lot.

So where did the Web 2.0 come in (aside from the job title)? Here’s a hint: even though Optimal Resume is based in Durham, NC (where I’ve lived for the past two years), my connection to the company started in Maine.

Here's how I landed the job.

Sherry Mason, a career counselor at Bowdoin College, introduced me to @OptimalResume on Twitter, which was really Optimal Resume’s COO. From there, we exchanged Twitter messages and set up a meeting. Within a week, I had a job.

Now here’s the back-story of how I met Sherry and why she introduced me to Optimal Resume. (You could also see this as "best practices for using Twitter in your job search learned along the way...")

Be clear about your interests and skills in your bio.

When I joined Twitter in January, I was debating between going to law school and venturing into the real world, and my bio said so. It also said I was looking for a way to be strategic, creative and efficient.

Find people to follow.

Your job search probably won't work if you don't increase your network. You can use to find people in your industry, and to find people near your desired geographic location. Once you've found people tweeting about things that interest you, reach out and connect with them.

Be genuine in sharing your thoughts, interests, and goals. It will expand your community.

For a job seeker, it's important to strike a balance between providing value to your followers and demonstrating that you're up on industry news (most often done with links to articles) and showing that you're a real human. To do that, sprinkle your tweets with personal commentary.

I started tweeting what was on my mind, which included everything from law school essay topics to job-search strategies to how I thought UNC’s Career Services could improve.

That’s how Sherry at Bowdoin found me. One day I tweeted that I thought Career Services should teach personal branding, and she messaged me to ask what else I thought they should do.

Share what you learn, and ask for input and advice.

A few days after I joined Twitter, I started blogging about Web 2.0 job-search strategies for college students (thinking I should put all the research I was doing to good use), and I asked Sherry for her input about content.

As luck would have it, she not only helped with that, but as a former practicing lawyer, she talked with me about my law school decision. She’s one of the people who helped me decide it wasn’t for me.

Continue to engage your network.

Once that decision (not to attend law school) was made, I kept tweeting about articles that interested me, and that were relevant to my job search. Sherry and I also kept in touch, tweeting and e-mailing occasionally, and one of those tweets was the introduction that landed me this job.

My story is a lesson in how it pays to be authentic and active in your social media use. Yes, I joined Twitter and started blogging because all the job-search articles said those were two keys to jump-starting a job search, but I didn’t blog and tweet what I thought employers wanted to hear, or just advertise that I needed a job.

I also didn’t talk about how I was procrastinating on term papers or eating a ham and turkey sandwich.

I stayed “on brand,” while talking about things that interested me, things that were naturally on my mind, and I found a job (or a job found me, depending on which way you look at it) that matches.

Thanks, Kelly! Do you have any additional "optimal" tips for the Web 2.0 job search?

3 Strategies for Using LinkedIn to Boost Your Job Search

There's a common consensus among many in the white collar world that LinkedIn is to the business community what Facebook is to friends: it's a great tool for social networking, and can land you your next job.LinkedIn

Many people use LinkedIn as a directory of contacts, but the site can be used for multiple ways--and more than one job seeker I've talked to has the used the site to land their next job. This is the second in a three part series on "almost hidden" features of LinkedIn.

The first installment answered the question, "why use LinkedIn?"

Today's tip: three strategies for moving your job search forward.

1. Search and Research

Steve Martin has a great line about how to conquer writer's block: he says it's okay to read work from other people and borrow a sentence (but only a sentence) to get started. I don't believe in plagiarism, but I do think seeing how other people present themselves can help you get unstuck in revising your resume.

Use the "Search People" engine to search for profiles of individuals who have pre-existing work experience in your area of interest. View their career trajectories, observe how they describe their work, and pick up tips for how you might revise your own materials.

2. Connect and expand your network. Your next job is likely to come from "weak ties" (read the above-mentioned post from Keppie Careers about why these ties are important).

Participating in LinkedIn groups and "Q and A" are great ways to engage with additional people and make new contacts. Introductions can be equally helpful.

Request an introduction to people who interest you--especially those within two degrees of your network. (Tip: Be specific, succinct, and prepared in any outreach you make. Here's great advice from Penelope Trunk on how to get an answer out of an e-mailed question.)

3. Avoid the Black Hole (Reach out and let 'em know you've applied.

Virtually everyone I know refers to the online application process of applying for jobs as a black hole. "It's so anonymous, I feel like there's no chance my application will ever get read." The plain truth: it may be the equivalent of swallowing vile-tasting cough syrup to conquer a chest cold; you have to do it in order to meet your end-goal. In most companies, you can't even be considered as an applicant until you formally apply online.

But through the JobsInsider tool, you can view position listings—and then explore potential contacts that you know within the company of interest. Once you know, “who you know” or how you’re connected, you can then develop a 1-2 punch for your application (you can both apply for the position, then follow-up with your contact to let them know you’ve applied or follow-up with a contact and ask questions before you apply). Either way, LinkedIn helps you increase the chances that your resume will be seen and evaluated.

Early Action Strategies for Internships

If you are graduating in 2010, don’t miss out on one of the biggest opportunities of the year: summer internship recruiting begins now! Clouds-and-building

Many corporate employers use internships as a primary pipeline for hiring for full-time positions. As a result, they will keep their internship programs strong even in a down economy. According to annual surveys conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, it's quite likely you'll land a full-time job from your internship: the percentage of interns converted to full-time employees increased from 35% in 2001 to 50% in 2008, with almost 70% of interns receiving full-time offers in 2008.

I spent over eight years working at campus Career Services offices where my job was to learn abou employer needs and help students apply for positions. In the process, I developed a few observations on how you can best prepare for the process:

If you haven’t started already, this is a great week to begin.
Many campuses don’t open for spring term until mid-to-late January, but a majority of staff at Career Offices are back at work. If your school offers individual counseling appointments or resume critique services, now is a great time to get a quick appointment. If you’d like outside help, you may also want to consider hiring a resume writer or career coach—but keep in mind that you will need to follow resume guidelines set by your campus.

Research potential opportunities. Given the high conversion rate of interns to full-time employees, you want to make sure you like the place you work enough to stay there full-time. Therefore, it is important to carefully evaluate opportunities. Read about career fields, position types, and determine the best work environment for you. Then research employers to create a short list of ideal organizations. Apply for multiple opportunities: don’t limit yourself to only those employers who are interviewing on-campus—apply for other internships as well. (In addition to your campus internship database, check out company websites and aggregators including

Discount the myth that no one reads cover letters. Competition can be stiff, and employers often use cover letters to assess your writing skills and your level of interest. A great cover letter can help you get noticed.

Show that you understand the position and industry.
Contrary to popular myth, employers don’t always use GPA and major as the first screening criteria when evaluating internship applications. A little research on current company initiatives, products, or work environment can go a long way. News aggregators (e.g. Google News Alerts, RSS Feeds) and research tools such as Hoovers, Lexis-Nexis, and Factiva can help you quickly find items worth mentioning. (You may also want to look for key indicators on company health and performance—factors that can help you assess your long-term employment prospects.)

Write your materials from the employer’s perspective. In most organizations, employers scan application materials quickly to seek answers to the following questions:

  • How did you learn of this position? (They want to know if their ads are working!)
  • How do your skills and experience align with the job description?
  • Why are you interested in the position? How does it fit in with your long-term goals?
  • Why do you want to work for us? (What interests you about our company versus our competition?)

Quick tip to ensure you’ve written from the employer’s perspective: Count the number of sentences in your cover letter, than the number that start with “I.” Aim for less than 50% of sentences to begin with you.

These strategies are designed to help you “stand out” in the applicant pool while also demonstrating how you “fit in” to the company culture and organizational structure. Have any additional tips or success stories of strategies that worked? If yes, please share!

How to Woo Employers

While at times it may feel like the ball is always in the employer's court, remember that the job search is a mutually selective process: you pick your employer and the employer picks you. (The process isn't unlike dating.)

One aspect of the search that often gets overlooked: employers want to be picked just as much as you do. In fact, one of the statistics that the human resources department is asked to report on is the "yield" rate: what is the percentage of offers accepted relative to the number of offers that are given?

To this end, one of the factors that employers look at during the process is candidate level of interest and "likely" factor. (This is also true, by the way, of college admissions.) After all, the employer has no idea if you've applied to 150 positions or to five.

Demonstrate your interest in the position throughout the process by articulating why you are interested in the opportunity and the company throughout the process from your application (i.e. cover letter), to face-to-face meetings, and any other communications that you have.

One of the key questions employers use to assess your "likely factor" and suitability for the job is your knowledge of the industry and level of preparedness: at a minimum, they will expect you to be familiar with their company website and the type of work they do. In a challenging economy, the bar is raised: they will also look to see if you are familiar with the overall health of the industry with respect to general economic performance. Many companies give the equivalent of  bonus points to applicants who demonstrate familiarity with recent company developments and new initiatives; in some searches, the job offer goes to the applicant who has done the best job preparing for the interview.

Fortunately, there are some easy ways to conduct employer research. My recommendations include:

1. Establishing Google News Alerts to send you updates and RSS Feeds based on your own Key Word searches. Website: (or, alternatively use Google Reader").

2. Getting up to speed on general industry health.Great resources include:

3. Staying current on company economic performance relative to the industry. A great way to do this is to use Hoover's. In addition, if the company you are interested in is a public company--monitor the stocks online through sites including CNN Money and the Wall Street Journal. (If you are applying for a position in financial services, expect to be asked questions about recent and "big picture" stock performance, including key market indicators. Vault and Wetfeet have great guides to help you get up to speed in this area).

Facebook: Who's Searching It and Why

It's hard to believe, but Facebook is less than five years old; this month, the social media networking platform will celebrate it's second anniversary of being open to the general public! Five years seems like a very short-time when you consider that the site now has over 100 million users and is reported to be the fifth most accessed online site.

I used to have a love-hate relationship with Facebook: as a career counselor, I have spent a great deal of the past four years advising clients to be very wary of what they posted online since employers and other potential contacts frequently search the site for "evidence" prior to making an offer.

Then I opened an account myself, and within the week--I was hooked, and happy to be back in touch with old friends from grade school to former colleagues.

Over this past week, Computer World reported on the results of a Career Builder survey. The title of the piece: "One in five employers uses social networks in the hiring process." At first glance, the survey appears to confirm my previous suspicions--according to the survey, over one third of employers say that they have rejected candidates based on what they've found online. The top reasons for "rejections" (40% respectively) were inappropriate photos and other evidence of substance use/abuse.

While the headline to the Computer World survey repeated the precautionary message about exercising discretion when posting to Facebook, I find a silver lining and harbinger of what's to come in via a sidenote:

The study did find that 24% of hiring managers found content on social networks that helped convince them to hire a candidate. Hiring managers said that profiles showing a professional image and solid references can boost a candidate's chances for a job.

At this stage in the game, I'd never advise anyone to unsubscribe from Facebook in order to avoid employer scrutiny. Instead, here are three resources I recommend which provide information on start using Facebook to your professional advantage:

These tips represent only a fraction of Facebook's capability, but are a good jumping off point in terms of exploring the possibilities. To your success!