Most know the value of professional networking. Whether you need a new job now or later, continually building your network with decision-makers and leaders can only help your career in the long run. I’ve talked with countless colleagues, friends, and job seekers who have told me stories about finding a job (or a job finding them) through a contact they connected with months to years ago.
One of the key ways to establish a strong network and learn about career opportunities (present and future) is to have face-to-face meetings with hiring managers, company owners, or well-connected professionals. There is a bit of etiquette and approach to doing this. My latest article for Job-Hunt.org walks you through the process.
It’s easy to get excited about starting a new job. It is also common to be anxious to leave your current one to get started as soon as possible. But we all know the expression about never burning down bridges. Your reputation in the working world, or even your specific industry, can hinge on this old adage. I cover the specifics on how to ensure you leave your current job in a professional fashion in my latest article for job-hunt.
Article: How to Gracefully Leave Your Old Job
We all know there is a balancing act you must perform when searching for a new position while you have a full-time job. In many cases, it does not reflect well if your boss finds out. Although, I’ve always contended that there is nothing wrong with doing some “comparison shopping.” Just like when thinking about buying a new house or car, you first compare what’s out there with what you’ve got. Perhaps you should be happy with the status quo because it really is better than alternatives available to you. But how would you know if you didn’t do the research?
The problem is that although the research might be just a cursory look, management may not see it that way. Best not to “advertise” your efforts. My latest article for job-hunt deals with the tenuous balance of being “available to talk” and keeping your research “off the radar.”
As always, feel free to add your comments or experiences within this article’s Comments section.
Article: How to Find a Job While You Have One
I don’t often share other blog articles within my Blog, although I would if I had more time to review all the great resources out there. But once in a while, there’s an article that clearly must be shared. Especially when it covers as much ground as this one. John Fawkes has compiled a list of 25 helpful career-focused blog writers that you might find helpful. Enjoy.
Once in a while, when a job seeker submits their resignation and offers a two-week’s notice, they get a surprise in return: a counter-offer. Quite frequently this includes a match on salary with the new company and sometimes an increase in responsibility. In this situation, many things can go wrong for all involved.
The Candidate Perspective
I once had a friend go through this experience and he was perplexed as to which path to take. He was the one to instigate a job search process, so I was a little surprised there was even a decision to be made. After all, once you start a job search, it’s likely you have already decided, for whatever reason, that it is time to go. The counter-offer covered both money and responsibility. Even long-term growth potential. My friend had a long list of concerns, but in the end, I asked a simple question: “When you drive to work each day, what is it you want to do when you get there?”
In other words, no two jobs or companies are exactly the same. When the current company offers you reasons to stay, you need to remind yourself why you wanted to leave. Will those issues be addressed? Even if there are promises to address them, will they be able to live up to their intentions? Does past performance indicate they are true to their word? Without an employment contract, their word is all you have.
Just remember, money and title are nice. But 40-70+ hours of work per week is a long time to spend doing something (or being somewhere) you don’t enjoy. Most people want to accomplish something professionally. Be sure to consider which opportunity truly offers this chance?
The Current Employer Perspective
No one likes to lose good employees. Especially if we have groomed them, trained them, and depended on them for a long time. However, when an employee makes the hard decision to leave, you must accept you missed the boat somewhere and didn’t address the issues along the way. Trying to band-aid the situation by keeping them on board will likely prove to be temporary. The joy of a raise and new title is short-lived in the working world. Six months later, they will realize they still want to move on.
Sometimes the boss offers a counter just to protect their own reputation. Are you the first to leave the group in a while, or part of a series of folks leaving? Is the timing really bad for the company? You need to assess why the offer is being presented. Is it simply because you are too good to lose? And if so, why did it take a resignation to prompt this kind of action?
If you accept the counter, you should realize that some companies will start a search for a replacement anticipating your future departure. This is a disastrous situation as you may be potentially fired (or overlooked for future promotions). Instead of people moving on and new people moving in allowing for growth for all involved, the situation turns stagnant, and sometimes unfriendly.
The New Employer Perspective
No company has time to waste in a job search. They do not like interviewing candidates who turn out to be just “kicking the tires” and “seeing what’s out there.” They want to meet candidates who are ready to join their team, not consider it.
When a candidate rejects an offer to stay where they are, the relationship between the two is strained or severed. In essence, the company feels the candidate was not honest during the process.This impression is all they remember (and likely marked in their records/database).
If you are only curious about opportunities at a company, take one of their current (or past) employees out to lunch so you can get a true perspective of what it’s like to work there.
When considering whether you want to leave, make a sound decision. Ask yourself right at the start, “If my company countered an equal offer, would I consider it? And why?” You may just need to have a heart-to-heart with your boss and ask how you can improve your current situation through increased responsibility or redirection of your role. If you do decide to leave, don’t look back unless you’re absolutely certain your old job will become better than the new job.
One of the hardest type of candidates to place is the one who has so many talents they have no idea what they want to do next. Some expect a hiring company to see all their talents and invent a position suited to their abilities. It typically doesn’t work this way. At least not when you’re working through recruiters. They have specific jobs to fill today, and future positions to fill within their specialty or industry.
The key to working with recruiters is to know what you want to do. And, to want a job that will leverage your expertise. It is very hard to jump to new job titles where you have little experience. Recruiters will present only the most qualified candidates. Period. Once you are within a company, there may be ample opportunities to cross-train or gain exposure to other talents (and then make that jump).
In my latest article for Job-Hunt.org, I offer a step-by-step approach to determining the job description you want to share with recruiters. I hope this helps those who feel a little lost in the job search process.
Recently, I’ve had several discussions with colleagues and candidates about the value education plays in their candidate selection. There is no doubut that formal education enhances one’s standing amongst candidates. In past articles, I’ve even mentioned going back to school during the job search to show you’re proactive about keeping skills sharp or learning new talents.
Brian Jenkins, a member of the BrainTrack.com, offered to share his insights on the topic of online college courses and provided several resources in the guest article below.
Online college courses provide a great way to enhance your resume and improve your chances of getting a job. Taking the courses shows prospective employers that you’re making an effort to increase your value to a company. They help you stand out from the rest of the job pool, which is probably full of people just as qualified as you. For example, engineers seeking a management position can greatly enhance their report and memo writing skills by taking free online writing courses. Once you’ve completed a course, you can include it in the “education” or “specific skills” section of your resume.
Taking relevant free courses also gives you a competitive edge over co-workers for higher-level jobs. Besides the additional skills you’ll acquire, taking the classes shows initiative and a strong desire to learn as much as you can.
Through OpenCourseWare, many colleges and universities offer free access to courses taught during previous semesters. OpenCourseWare provides actual materials used in classes, suggestions for reading material, and lecture notes. Some classes include audio or video lectures, and others offer quizzes so you can test your knowledge before taking the next course.
To see a list of the colleges and universities that offer free courses through OpenCourseWare, check out the OpenCourseWare Consortium’s web site. Some of the schools that offer free classes in a wide variety of subjects: Yale University, UMASS Boston, Utah State University, UC Irvine, and Notre Dame.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MIT offers a a great deal of free courses in Business; Engineering; Architecture and Planning; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; Health Sciences and Technology; Science; and Management. MIT’s Sloan School of Business Management also allows you to take many of its popular undergraduate business courses free of charge.
Columbia University’s Seminar in Branding
Branding is important to many businesses. Columbia University’s Columbia Interactive provides a three-part series on Brand Leadership. Part one of the e-seminar, Brand Identity and Strategy, includes a video lecture, visual examples of strong brand identities, and guest speakers from the private sector. The second part of the series focuses on experiential branding while the third part delves into branding and the creative organization.
Free Writing Classes
Many employers complain that employees lack good writing skills. This can be a major problem for those seeking management positions due to the need to write reports and memos. MIT’s Advanced Writing Seminar exposes you to the various types of writing you may encounter in a professional career. The UK-based Open University offers a free class called Essay and Report Writing Skills. New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) makes available its Technical Writing Course which combines theory and practice to prepare people to become technical writers. NJIT also provides a free Proposal Writing Course.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing has become extremely important for many businesses with an online presence. Laura Lake, a marketing consultant, social media marketing strategist, and About.com guide, provides a free, seven-day Social Media Marketing Online Crash Course.
Many small businesses would like a strong online presence but may not be able to afford an expert web designer. Also, even if a company has a web site, management needs someone to maintain it. You can get the skills to create and maintain web sites at w3schools.com, an organization that claims to be the world’s largest web development site. Training is available in HTML, Browser scripting, XML, server scripting, web services, multimedia, and web building. These types of skills make you valuable, especially to small businesses that don’t have a Web expert on staff.
Savvy job seekers can take these free online courses to enhance their resume and to get an edge on the competition. And since you can take these courses online, it’s easy to work them into your busy schedule.