Networking Tree

Networking. What kind of image does this word conjure up for you? If you’re like me, you probably imagine having to schmooze with higher-ups in suits at stuffy after work functions. Not exactly fun! Now before you break into a cold sweat, I’ll let you in on a little known secret, networking is actually not that hard or scary.

It’s all in your approach. Just think of each part of the process as corresponding to the growth of a tree. First, you need to plant your seed, take care and nurture your tree, then through persistence you will be reaping the fruits of your labours!

1. Research (planting the seed)

2. Cultivation (tending your tree)

3. Persistence (harvesting your leads)

Planting the seed

Think of research as the beginning stages of growth. Take for example the field of medical administration. If you are interested in getting into that field, you will need to research medical establishments then find the administrators or HR persons’ contact information at those companies. Once you have collected several contacts, you will need to make a cold-call. This is the hardest part of networking, but fear not most contacts will appreciate your efforts and may even be flattered that you view them as leaders in their field. When you are ready to call keep the following in mind:

Introduce yourself and explain why you are calling i.e. For advice regarding getting into the medical admin field. Make sure you are not interrupting your potential contact. If the person doesn’t have time ask when they may be available. Don’t push and always be respectful!
If they are available to talk, make sure you have some well-researched questions ready to ask. You are making an impression so make it positive!
If the conversation goes well and the contact is helpful thank them for their time. You can also send them an “official” thank you card or letter if you want.
Tending your networking tree

Now that your contact is no longer “cold” you’ll need to cultivate the relationship to keep it “hot.” This is accomplished through staying in touch. You need to remind your contacts that you are available and still looking for work. Do this through follow-up emails or calls for advice or answers to any follow-up questions you may have regarding the field. Be careful not to call too much…you don’t want to become bothersome!

Harvesting your leads

Contacts or leads may bear fruit through persistent cultivation. Even if a contact may not have job leads at their company, they may hear of positions opening up at other companies and let you know. When you have a positive relationship with your contact they may even be willing to be a reference person, which will prove very handy especially if you are a new grad or changing careers.

Whether your networking tree is a sapling or a mighty oak, it’s important to set aside your fears and start the growing process!

Elaine Logie is a recent graduate of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, ON. For more information on how MCACES helps students with Employment Advisement, please contact Lidia Siino, lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca.

Cultivate your network and watch it grow!

Cultivate your network and watch it grow!

reading!

The best present of all

the greatest gift of all

the greatest gift of all

Be open to the present! “How to create unexpected opportunities”

With Black Friday signaling the upcoming holidays, it’s easy to start worrying about the job market in the New Year or reminiscing about how your job search efforts went in the past. While it’s hard to keep your mind in the present, you may miss potential job prospects.

It’s sounds like a paradox but you need to construct unexpected career opportunities. This concept is summed up in what John D. Krumboltz calls “Planned Happenstance.”

As an example of this theory, Krumboltz uses the story of high-powered professional sports agent, Leigh Steinberg. You remember the movie Jerry McGuire? Well, it’s based on Leigh’s life and career, most of which he chalks up to “pure, random chance.” But was it really random? Did he in fact manufacture his future career, albeit unknowingly, through a series of circumstances and choices?

In an interview Leigh recounts how it all started while attending the University of California at Berkeley while studying environmental law in the early 70’s. As luck would have it a freshman football team moved into his dormitory and after befriending several students he ended up eventually representing Steve Bartkowski, at his request, in contract negotiations with the Atlanta Falcons and well the rest as they say is history…. If you look closely at Leigh’s story you’ll realize that what happened wasn’t really “pure, random chance” but a set of circumstances that Leigh choose to act on, setting aside his own fears, he grabbed the opportunity before him.

You’re probably asking yourself how do I create these types of opportunities? Well, first you’ll need to develop 5 important skills:

Curiosity
Explore new learning opportunities. Take a course, try a new idea talk to insiders you would never have talked to before.

Persistence
Even when things get hard you need to re-exert your efforts and try again.

Flexibility
With emerging technology and changes in the workplace you need to adapt. For example, if a strategy in your job-search isn’t working, change your tactics.

Optimism
You need to keep positive and believe that you can attain your goals.

Risk-taking
Take a page from Leigh and go for something even if it’s risky, sometimes it’s in the process of trying that opportunities happen.

Now you’ll be able to say “show me the money!” sooner than you think!

Elaine Logie is an Employment Advisor at the Career Foundation and frequent MCACESBlogger. MCACESBlogs is series of posts aimed at helping job seekers with their respective paths. Be sure to follow our blog today!

Create a brand that appeals to EVERYONE!

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I’m sure most of you reading this have probably heard about the importance of personal branding especially when looking for work. Basically, your brand conveys a positive feeling about you that can be both tangible and intangible…think Coca Cola or Mac products. What do you think of when you imagine these brands? Are they: Cool? Hip? Modern? Progressive?

What would a person think of you when they read your resume? Think about it. The key is to create an image or brand with a broad enough appeal that every employer would want you on his or her team. You would fulfill everything on their checklist. So how do you do that?

Take every buzzword possible and inject them into your resume. It really doesn’t matter if it represents who you are; the point is that you get that interview!

Here are a few you can pick from:

Value-added

Innovative

Forward thinking

Achievement

Progressive

Honesty

Future-ready

Grass-roots

Ethics

Interconnectedness

Advancement

 

APRIL FOOLS! Don’t do this!!

Why?

  1. You don’t want to water down your brand just to appeal to every perspective employer going.
  2. You need to be true to your own strengths and look at companies that share your values.
  3. Sure, by using this technique you’ll get your foot in the door, but in the end both you and the employer will be unhappy when you realize that your “brand” doesn’t fit the company culture.

Here’s a great video on how generic advertisements create an image that is really meaningless because by trying to appeal to everyone many brands end up appealing to no one. Most savvy consumers can see through this falsified image or can they? What do you think? Let us know.

This generic brand ad is the greatest thing about the absolute worst in advertising

What does “talent” acquisition actually mean?

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There’s been so much talk lately in the business world about acquiring “talent” like they’re buying new shoes or a new car…sounds rather impersonal doesn’t it? And really what does it mean anyway?

From what I’ve read, “talent” acquisition is about placing potential employee’s skillsets at the forefront of the hiring process and then nurturing those skills. With so many buzzwords floating around it’s hard to know exactly what’s really going on in the job market, so the BIG question is, is this really happening? Is it done at the outset but then later promptly forgotten when the buzz has passed? To avoid unmet expectations, hard feelings or worse employees jumping ship, employers can keep their talent onboard and engaged.

Here’s how: 

  1. Instead of filing away a new employees resume and never looking at it again, how about having a quick sit down with them after the whole hiring process is over and ask them what specific skills they believe they can offer the company. Making a note of what they believe are their strengths will give you some options beyond the job description.
  2. Although some new hires may embellish or have incorrect assumptions regarding their skillsets you can better assess this by setting up a meeting between the team leaders or supervisors and the new hire. This will go particularly smoothly if you’ve included the supervisors in the hiring process; they’ll be more likely to properly assess the person and see them as less of a burden and more of a valuable addition to the team.
  3. Make note of all your employee’s strengths, but beware of lumping people together into similar “talent” pools. Most people’s talents come out the most when working in a team with a variety of skillsets. Also take into account that employees can gain or discover new skills that should be added to their repertoire.

The truth is that most people will often take less pay or a lesser position if they feel that their “talents” are valued. Unfortunately, most new employees will rarely point out they feel undervalued or that their skills are underutilized and will instead remain quiet while plotting an exit strategy.

Maybe we could change the buzzword from “talent” acquisition to “talent” management!

How to job search like an Olympian!

With the 2014 Winter Olympic Games under way it’s tough to imagine the grueling work each athlete had to endure to get to where they are today. I know I could never do what they do … I get wobbly just trying to walk to a skating rink yet alone trying to skate! But at the very least we can learn a few things from their mindset and how thinking like a champion is half the battle.

Expect to win

When you enter an interview, as hard as it may seem, try not to think “I hope to get this job” instead practice saying to your self “I’m going to get this job” it does make a difference in the confidence you’ll project.

Set your self up for small wins

The many small wins that qualify an athlete for the Olympics are just as important as the BIG event. So for example, if cold-calling a potential employer seems daunting, try calling a friend who’s an employer or try calling businesses you’re not as interested in first. This will give you practice and confidence when you make the more important calls.

Don’t make excuses

It’s rare to hear interviewees take ownership for why they didn’t get a job, but for those who do, 9 times out of 10 they’ll get hired much sooner. Why? This is something that most Olympians are all too aware of, human error is inevitable but instead of laying blame they use it to improve their technique make corrections and ultimately become better athletes.

Focus on what you can do

Does a figure skater bemoan the fact they can’t bobsled? NO! They focus on what they can do and make the most of the skills they have. It’s perfectly normal to focus on the negatives as to why you won’t get a job, but you can overcome this attitude. For example: Look at the job posting and list in bullet points all the ways your skills and experience fulfill the company wish list, this not only builds your confidence but it’s also good interview practice because you’ll be prepared when the employer asks “Why should we hire you?”

They don’t give up

Many athletes have an inner tenacity and desire to win that is admirable. Whether it’s called the “X” factor or “Heart” it’s clear, that after all the training and hard work this sometime it can mean the difference between gold and silver. Cultivate your passion and purpose and you too can experience victory!

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How to create unexpected opportunities

With the Superbowl this weekend and everyone, myself included, speculating about who’s going to win it’s easy to forget to be present and let the excitement unfold. The same goes for job seeking. Even though you definitely need a game plan, if you’re too set on the end goal you may miss unexpected opportunities.

The paradox of creating these opportunities is summed up in what John D. Krumboltz calls “Planned Happenstance.”

As an example of this theory, Krumboltz uses the story of high-powered professional sports agent, Leigh Steinberg. You remember the movie Jerry McGuire? Well it’s based on Leigh’s life and career, most of which he chalked up to “pure, random chance.” But was it really random? Did he in fact manufacture his future career, albeit unknowingly, through a series of circumstances and choices?

In an interview, Leigh recounts how it all started while attending the University of California at Berkeley while studying environmental law in the early 70’s. As luck would have it a freshman football team moved into his dormitory and after befriending several students he ended up eventually representing Steve Bartkowski, at his request, in contract negotiations with the Atlanta Falcons and well the rest as they say is history…. If you look closely at Leigh’s story you’ll realize that what happened wasn’t really “pure, random chance” but a set of circumstances that Leigh choose to act on, setting aside his own fears, he grabbed the opportunity before him.

You’re probably asking yourself how do I create these types of opportunities? Well, first you’ll need to develop 5 important skills:

Curiosity

Explore new learning opportunities. Take a course, try a new idea talk to insiders you would never have talked to before.

Persistence

Even when things get hard you need to re-exert your efforts and try again.

Flexibility

With emerging technology and changes in the workplace you need to adapt. For example, if a strategy in your job-search isn’t working, change your tactics.

Optimism

You need to keep positive and believe that you can attain your goals.

Risk-taking

Take a page from Leigh and go for something even if it’s risky, sometimes it’s in the process of trying that opportunities happen.

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Here’s hoping an unexpected opportunity helps me win my Superbowl bet this weekend!