Tag: job search tips


Networking Don’t: Why You Should Never Use Empty Flattery

While networking can be tricky, it should never involve trickery, which could cause your networking efforts to blow up in your face. There are several networking don’ts to avoid, which I’ve previously written about. One don’t I’d like to focus on today is empty flattery.

Empty flattery, also known as “buttering up” people, is never a good networking strategy for two reasons. One, most discerning people recognize it immediately and are turned off by it. And two, networking is all about taking the time to build genuine relationships, not being phony to get a list of someone’s contacts.

Story of a networking don’t

I remember someone who was trying to secure my business for his media promotion services. I had only met him once before, and therefore didn’t know much about him.

He told me he saw me as a thought leader in my industry. I couldn’t help but wonder why he’d think this. He’d never once “liked” or commented on any social media or blog post I’d ever made. When his actions didn’t match up with his words, I privately questioned his sincerity.

Then, he asked me to introduce him to one of my contacts, wanting an immediate connection with someone I’ve spent ten years building a business relationship with. I had to set a healthy boundary by letting him know, since my contact greatly values doing work with people he already has an established relationship with, I was hesitant to introduce to him someone I barely know yet. (A lesson I’d already learned in my career, and one everyone will learn in their career at some point.)

This boundary was an opportunity for the inquiring party to put in more time and effort to build a more meaningful networking relationship with me, which would’ve likely led to an eventual introduction to my other colleague. However, it’s been almost a year and I haven’t heard from him since, deepening my questioning of his original flattering words.

Networking do’s and don’ts

To avoid a networking faux pas like the one above, here are some networking do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.

When first trying to connect with a potential contact, don’t use empty flattery to manipulate the situation.

A sincere compliment is okay, but even then I suggest you first put some action behind it. For example, if you really like someone’s work, share it first with others you think could benefit from it, or help promote it to your own social media following.

Imagine to yourself, once you finally have the opportunity to compliment this person on their work, they ask you, “How much do you like it?” They won’t likely ask this question, but if they did, could you answer it?

Also, put less focus on compliments and more focus on being genuinely curious about the other person’s work. Ask appropriate questions about what they enjoy most about their work, what trends they’re noticing in their field, etc.

Then, listen to their responses for things you may have in common with them, especially regarding common values and ethics. This is a much better way to build rapport with someone.

Finally, don’t forget to set appropriate expectations. Understand it’s going to take time to build trust with someone.

No one is immediately going to trust a stranger with their network. Instead, they’re going to protect their contacts so as not to burn any bridges with them. You should do the same for your own contacts, and should hope they’d do the same for you.

More resources

For more networking do’s and don’ts, check out these resources:

Limiting the Jobs You Apply to Is Healthy For Your Job Search

When looking for a job, it can be tempting to apply for a lot of open positions. After all, shouldn’t you cast your net wide, especially if you’re in a desperate situation? The answer is no, not typically. So what should you do instead? I suggest a better use of your time is to curate and apply only to jobs that make the most sense.

I’ll speak about how to determine which ones make the most sense in a moment. But first, I want to talk about why curation is both an important and necessary step in your job search.

Why you should curate job postings

There are so many jobs listed in various online job boards. You could spend an unhealthy amount of time with the online application process. This is not always time well spent. Especially given how 80% of the workforce found their jobs through networking, not applying to jobs.

This is why I tell my clients they should spend only 20% of their job search answering job ads, and 80% networking. But most job seekers have this reversed.

As a result, you should limit your job applications to a manageable amount, so your time is freed up for more networking efforts.

Also, being selective in the jobs you apply to shows focus. I’ve previously written how applying for a lot of different jobs, especially different roles within the same company, can signal to employers a lack of focus. They often view this as a huge red flag.

How many jobs should you apply to?

Allow me to use some similar language from Justin Whitmel Earley’s book, The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction. He talks about the importance of curating the media we watch as one way to foster healthy habits. While he’s referring to media consumption, I’m going to refer to job applications.

So then, how many jobs should you apply to? It’s up to you to decide what your limit will be. “The point,” Earley says, “is to determine some kind of limit that forces curation.”

You can’t apply to every job listed in your field, but you should apply to some, perhaps even many. However, you also must curate them, instead of allowing the online job boards that care nothing about your career to curate them for you.

Earley says, “The good life doesn’t come from the ability to choose anything and everything; the good life comes from the ability to choose good things by setting limits.” You can substitute the word “career” for the word “life” in this quote, and it would still ring true.

Unlimited choices lead to “decision fatigue.” But limits, however, provide freedom. In the case of a job search, this could be the freedom to meet new people and grow your network, or discover opportunities not yet advertised.

By limiting and curating certain job ads, you improve your ability to make good career decisions.

What kind of jobs should you apply to?

Earley says, “Curation implies a sense of the good. An art gallery has limited space on the wall, so its curator creates shows to make the best use of that space according to a vision for good art.”

I recommend you develop a vision for good opportunities. The jobs it makes most sense to apply to are the ones meeting at least some of the following criteria:

1. Jobs matching at least 65 to 75% of your “must-have” requirements for a job. This will help you stay realistic without settling.

2. Ones where your skills match at least 65 to 75% of the qualifications. Remember from my previous post, “How to Know If You Should Apply for a Job You’re Not Qualified For,” job ads are written like wish lists. It’s unlikely there’s a candidate who checks every single box.

Where you might lack a particular skill, you make up for it with the ability to learn quickly, or with other assets such as emotional intelligence.

3. Jobs listed on LinkedIn or a company’s web site, instead of those listed on a big job board where the market is saturated and the postings are questionable.

4. Those your networking contacts have referred you to. This is the most effective way to apply for jobs. Therefore, you should spend much of your time building relationships with your contacts.

Conclusion

You may currently be in a situation where you feel like you have to find anything, and fast. But keep this in mind: by not being selective enough to curate a good list of job opportunities, you might find yourself right back in the same situation a year from now. This can turn into an unhealthy cycle. Is this really what you want?

It’s time to take a healthier approach so you can be more successful in your job search, and ultimately, your career.

Related posts

What Are Some of the Best Networking Hacks for Your Job Search?

Everyone knows networking is the best way to find a job. But many networking efforts have been hampered the past year due to the pandemic. Now, we’re able to cautiously step back into traditional networking methods in some instances, while continuing to use virtual means when necessary. As a result, I wanted to compile some of the best networking hacks and practices, both traditional and virtual, that I’ve previously shared on the paNASH blog. Enjoy!

Best networking hacks

1. Stop overthinking networking

Why You Need to Stop Overthinking Networking

First and foremost, you need to stop psyching yourself out about networking. I see so many clients who come to me overthinking networking, to the point they feel too paralyzed to reach out to anyone.

As soon as you stop putting so much pressure on yourself, you’ll be able to have a purposeful and productive conversation with anyone who could be a potential connection. To learn how to stop overthinking networking, click here.

2. Be realistic about networking

How to Be Realistic About Networking (Re-Post)

In addition to not putting too much pressure on yourself, you also shouldn’t put too much pressure on your contacts. This requires you to be realistic about your expectations of networking.

Click here to find out what this looks like.

3. Know how to handle the question, “What do you do?” when unemployed

How to Answer, “What Do You Do?” When Unemployed

Networking is intimidating enough, but even more so if you’re currently unemployed. Especially when asked, “So, what do you do?”

To learn how to answer this question without feeling like a failure, click here.

4. Understand the etiquette specific to LinkedIn

LinkedIn Etiquette You Need to Know When Networking Remotely

To some people, LinkedIn can feel like an easier, more casual way to network. But you must remember it is still a professional setting, even though it’s in the form of a social media platform.

There is a certain etiquette which must be followed on LinkedIn. Click here to learn the rules of LinkedIn when networking remotely.

5. Write emails people will want to respond to

How to Write Networking Emails That Will Get Responses

Email is still a good way to make an initial connection. It gives the recipient the chance to respond when it’s the most convenient time for them.

To ensure you receive not just a response, but the kind of response you want, it’s important to know how to word your subject line and body of the message. To learn how to craft the best networking email, click here.

For more networking tips, check out these resources:

Why Your Career Decisions Require Focus, Patience, and Passion

When working with clients, I spend a lot of time delving into the deeper issues involved in career decisions and the job search. I’ve written several posts on this topic as well.

Today, I want to share some “oldies but goodies” with you. If you’re new to this blog, I hope you’ll find them refreshing. If you’ve been following me for some time, you’ll see it never hurts to be reminded of these topics. Repetition helps improve memory and learning.

How to make good career decisions

1. Don’t follow your heart

You might think since my work emphasizes helping people pursue their passions, I’m telling them to just follow their hearts. This is far from the truth! In fact, following your heart can actually lead to trouble.

To better understand how pursuing your passion is different from following your heart, check out my post titled, “‘Follow Your Heart’ is Bad Advice. REALLY Bad Advice!

“Follow Your Heart” is Bad Advice. REALLY Bad Advice! (Re-Post)

2. Get focused

You can’t expect to find the right job without having focus. Applying to jobs without really knowing your goal can lead to some very poor career decisions.

Learn how to get focused in my post, “Why Focus Is So Important in the Job Search.”

Why Focus Is So Important in the Job Search

3. Seek career advice that’s different from the same old, same old

In addition to providing some tried and true career guidance, I always strive to bring more to my clients with out-of-the-box career advice. This approach helps set them apart from their competition. It’s advice you won’t get with most other career coaches, or from a simple Google search on the topic.

Get a taste for this out-of-the box guidance with my post titled, “Career Advice No One Will Ever Share With You.”

Career Advice No One Will Ever Share With You (Re-post)

4. Be patient

Learning to be patient is a difficult thing to master. In fact, it’s a lifelong learning process. Each time we fail, we’re given more opportunities to become more patient.

To improve your patience with your job search, check out my post, “How to Be Patient When You’re In Between Jobs.”

How to Be Patient When You’re In Between Jobs

5. Try some proven life and career hacks

When your career or job search feels out of control, focus on doing the things within your control, while letting go of the things you can’t control. This will help you better prioritize your job search and career decisions.

For eight simple hacks, see my post titled, “How to Hack Your Way to a More Passionate Life and Career.”

How to Hack Your Way to a More Passionate Life and Career

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How to Revive Your Pandemic-Ruined Résumé

If the pandemic forced you out of your job and left you with a ruined résumé, you may be worried about the growing gap in your employment history.

Hiring managers certainly understand the reason for current résumé gaps. But, you’ll likely be the candidate to land more interviews if you show how you’ve spent your time wisely during the pandemic.

This means your 2021 résumé will look a lot different from your ruined résumé of 2020. You’ll need to include some sections and entries you wouldn’t ordinarily include.

Here are some examples to help you revive your pandemic-ruined résumé.

Salvaging a ruined résumé

Online courses

The pandemic caused my business to slow down a bit, so I’ve had some extra time. As a result, I registered for a nine-month course I’ve had my eye on. While the class usually meets in person, this year’s cohort is meeting virtually through Zoom.

I’m gaining so much from it. And I know in the long-run, it will positively impact my business and the clients I serve.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn? Is it something that can build your résumé and help you improve your skills?

Last week, I met with a client who’s interviewing for a new job. She said she’s spent time during the pandemic taking online classes on Udemy to learn some new skills. This is something she’s now including on her résumé to make her more marketable to employers.

There are several online platforms like Udemy which allow you to do the same thing. You can list any online courses you take under your education section of your résumé. Or, if you take enough classes to justify a separate section, then list them there. You can call this section, “Online Education,” or “Online Coursework.”

You can also include the projects or significant assignments from the classes.

Reading

Because of the extra time from slow business and the reading requirements for my class, I probably spent time reading more books in 2020 than I ever did in one year, including my final year of grad school!

Prior to starting my class in August, I finished reading nine books. And I’ve read 15 books since then. Between now and April, I have six more books to read for my class, plus all the ones I keep adding to my personal list.

If you’ve spent time reading, especially any non-fiction related to your career interests, include this on your résumé. You probably want to title the section, “Pandemic Reading List.”

Home projects

A lot of people used their time during the pandemic to tackle some of those home projects they’ve been putting off for years. It was a great time for some do-it-yourself renovations or landscaping.

Include these tasks on your résumé, and show the skills required to accomplish them. You can name this section, “Pandemic Project Completion.”

Homeschooling

If you had to homeschool your children, this is an important thing to include on your résumé! It tells hiring managers so much about you and the skills you developed during the pandemic.

I share the best ways to include this on your résumé in my post, “How to Protect Your Career While Homeschooling.”

Caregiving

The devastating reality of the pandemic is the number of people infected with COVID-19. Even if you didn’t lose your job, maybe you had to take time off of work, either to quarantine or to care for a very ill loved-one. Perhaps it was for longer than you expected, well past the allowed COVID leave or FMLA time.

Caring for a family member is a legitimate gap in a résumé. It’s better to be open and honest about this reason for your gap. This is so the hiring manager won’t think you’re trying to hide something less noble.

You can address it in one short line on your résumé that says, “Employment gap due to family caregiving responsibilities.” Or, you can address it in your cover letter if further explanation is necessary.

Skills gained

From all of the things listed above, and from the experience of living through a pandemic in and of itself, you gained a lot of skills in 2020.

Generally speaking, we’ve all learned to be more flexible, adaptable, and creative. We’ve also learned to budget our money better. And hopefully, we’ve developed more emotional intelligence and improved our E.Q. by being more empathetic and patient.

Personally, I learned a lot of new skills in 2020. I learned how to apply for government aid for my business, and how to apply for PPP loan forgiveness. Also, I learned how to put a valuation on my company. This helped me complete the process of selling a portion of my business to another company. I’m also improving my supervisory skills with the hiring of a certified professional résumé writer this past September. And in July, I learned the ins and outs of refinancing my home.

You’ve also learned additional skills if you did any of the above during the pandemic. What are they? Use them to fill any employment gaps on your résumé.

Organizing your résumé

There are several ways to organize all this information on your résumé. You may want a separate section for projects, homeschooling, etc.

Or, you may want an entire section called, “Pandemic Projects and Skills.”

If you need help organizing or re-writing your résumé, click here to request a quote.

As things start to improve and your career stabilizes, you can take most or all of these items off your résumé.

Here’s wishing you a better 2021!

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