Tag: networking


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

It’s the question we all get when first meeting someone. “So, what do you do?” Although it’s not specified in the question, we know the person’s asking what we do for a living. But how do we answer this when unemployed, and without feeling like a failure?

A lot of people are currently unemployed due to the pandemic. They dread this question. Maybe you also dread it, even if you’re not unemployed.

Being unemployed doesn’t define you

First, we have to let go of the false idea that our worth is based in our work. Our careers and jobs don’t define us.

And while our worth also doesn’t come from our skills and talents, we can better answer this question by looking back to see which God-given skills are the common thread in our past experience, including paid work, volunteer work, and what I call “fun work.”

A personal example of “fun work” is when I filled in at the local paddle board shop when they were short-staffed. This job was fun because I got to be on my paddle board, and I got to be outside on the water. Plus, it was a nice way to add some variety to my regular career coaching schedule. But it was also fun because I got to use my gifts of teaching and encouragement when training new paddlers.

These God-given talents in encouraging and teaching others have been a common thread throughout my experience. Not only do I currently use them in my career coaching, I’ve used them in my past work in higher education while advising college students, and when working with aspiring recording artists in the Nashville music industry. I’ve also used them when volunteering in organizations like Project Connect. I’ve even seen how these talents have been used in my personal relationships to help friends and family.

I love encouraging others. It’s a natural, God-given gift and talent I can use whether I’m employed or not.

A new answer

After looking back and realizing this, I now answer the question “What do you do?” differently from my previous usual answer of, “I do career coaching.” Instead, I now say, “I encourage others.” This response  leads to more meaningful conversations.

What about you? What natural gift or talent have you used throughout your past experience and other areas of your life? You can use this to answer the question, “What do you do?”, both when your employed and unemployed.

If you need encouragement, or if you’d like to discover new and creative ways to use your own talents in helping others, let’s talk. I’d be happy to schedule a complimentary initial consultation with you. Click here to get started.

Related posts

How to Avoid an Epic Fail When Networking

Networking often feels awkward, and can sometimes backfire, even with the best of intentions. Add to it the awkwardness and limitations of a pandemic, and you’ve got yourself a potential epic fail.

We’ve all failed at least once in our networking strategies. This week, I want to provide some tips to help you try some new and different approaches to avoid an epic fail.

Stay tuned for next week when I share some out-of-the-box interview tips!

Successful networking strategies

One of the most successful strategies is to spend more time doing it! Job seekers should spend 80% of their job search networking and only 20% actually applying to job ads. However, most job seekers have this reversed.

But to be successful, you also have to understand the etiquette involved in networking. Check out these previous posts for five tips most people fail to implement.

1. Avoid appearing desperate on LinkedIn

Every job seeker knows it’s important to be on LinkedIn, but they don’t know how to keep from looking desperate. Recruiters can detect desperation just from a job seeker’s profile, and will steer clear.

Click here to learn how to avoid looking desperate on LinkedIn.

How to Stop Looking Desperate on LinkedIn

2. Create a more inviting elevator pitch

An elevator pitch, created from the same old cookie-cutter approach, will make your listener want to pitch themselves down an elevator shaft!

Instead, click here to try a more inviting and less annoying approach.

The Best Way to Write a Successful Elevator Speech

3. Don’t ask, “Can I pick your brain?”

Leading your networking conversation with this common question can quickly result in an epic fail.

For a lot of professionals, this question is a trigger. To them, it’s code for, “I want to take from you your years of knowledge, advice, or contacts, without giving anything in return.”

This is not a good way to start off on the right foot.

But good news! There are appropriate ways to start a conversation with a potential new contact. Click here to learn how to do so using proper etiquette.

Why “Can I Pick Your Brain?” Is the Wrong Approach

4. Become a good networking contact yourself

Instead of just trying to find good networking contacts, you might also have better luck by serving as a good contact yourself.

To learn five ways you can give back and contribute more to your networking relationships, click here.

How to Stop Networking for Good Contacts and How to Be One!

5. Protect yourself from toxic professional relationships

You’ve probably heard the popular networking advice, “Never burn a bridge.” But I also say, “Never stay standing on a bridge someone else has lit a match to.”

While it’s important to maintain good networking relationships, you should also protect yourself from the toxic ones. Especially if they could hurt your other professional relationships.

Click here to learn how to recognize toxic relationships in your professional circles.

Never Say Never: How to Know When You Should Let a Bridge Burn

Related resources

How to Stop Looking Desperate on LinkedIn

Most professionals have a LinkedIn profile, but typically say they don’t do anything with it. That is, until they need to start looking for another job.

After their profile has sat dormant for months or even years, they will dust it off, update it, and do one of two things.

Either they will go back to ignoring it after they’ve made their profile updates. Or, they’ll go overboard with their use of LinkedIn, to the point of appearing desperate to recruiters.

Neither strategy is a good one.

I’ve already written several posts on the importance of utilizing LinkedIn to its fullest, instead of taking a “set it and forget it” approach. But today I want to highlight some of the things you should avoid when using LinkedIn so you don’t look desperate to recruiters.

And trust me, recruiters can sense desperation from a mile away!

4 ways to stop looking desperate to recruiters

1. Stop using the word “seeking” in your headline

I know recruiters who say they immediately avoid LinkedIn profiles with the word “seeking” in the headline. Not all recruiters do this, but a lot of them do. They say it indicates desperation on the candidate’s part.

You’re not limited to the default headline listing your current or most recent position. Your headline can be anything you want it to be. So why not make it grab the reader’s attention, in a good way?  And always include keywords relevant to the type of work you want to do next. This brings me to my next point.

2. Stop being too general in your headline

At least once a week, I come across a LinkedIn profile with the headline, “Looking for new opportunities.” That’s it. I want to scream, “Looking for new opportunities in WHAT???”

If you don’t clearly state what you’re targeting, the right recruiters will never see your profile when they do a keyword search on your chosen field or role.

And if by chance you do pop up in their search results, they’ll bypass your profile for the ones clearly and immediately indicating their professional goals and what they have to bring to the table. Recruiters will not spend their time digging through your profile to figure out why you’re on LinkedIn.

Make it easy for readers to know exactly what you’re looking for, and how you can help solve their problem.

3. Stop joining job search groups

Yes, you should always join LinkedIn groups to improve your networking efforts on the platform. And yes, you should be in a few job search groups when between jobs if you find them helpful.

But if the majority of your groups are those just for job seekers, you’ll really appear desperate to recruiters. Plus, when you do this, you’re not putting yourself in front of the right people.

Instead, you need to join the groups relevant to your industry so you can be in front of the industry’s decision-makers. Your participation in these groups is how you get noticed.

Also, if you’re planning to relocate, you’ll want to join some groups based on your targeted geographic location. This not only can be a great networking resource, but also an information source for relocation logistics.

To learn the etiquette of LinkedIn group participation, check out my post, “LinkedIn Etiquette You Need to Know When Networking Remotely.”

4. Stop spamming recruiters

No one likes to be spammed on LinkedIn, recruiters included. Be sure to always personalize any InMail messages you send recruiters.

You don’t want to send the same standard email to every recruiter, for the same reason you don’t want to send the same cover letter for every job application.

How to get help with LinkedIn

LinkedIn is ever-changing and can be confusing and cumbersome to use. paNASH has taught classes, led group sessions, and individually guided clients on how to maneuver and leverage LinkedIn for a successful job search.

Now, paNASH has added a new coach, Dr. Denisha Bonds, who is a nationally certified LinkedIn strategist. She can help you optimize your LinkedIn profile to increase your responses from recruiters.

Click here to schedule a complimentary initial consultation.

Related posts

LinkedIn Etiquette You Need to Know When Networking Remotely

Even as businesses and offices start to reopen, networking is likely to remain virtual through the fall. Which is why it’s important for you to know how to use LinkedIn effectively, using proper LinkedIn etiquette. This means doing more than just setting up or updating your profile and letting it sit there on the platform.

Most people only create a LinkedIn profile and then expect recruiters to magically start sending them invitations for interviews. Or, they try to cold-connect with someone on the platform they don’t know, and expect him or her to immediately accept their connection request.

This is not how LinkedIn works. First, there are many more things you can do with LinkedIn beyond creating a profile, which is something I spend time teaching my clients. They’re always amazed at the different things I show them because they had no idea the platform could do those things.

Second, there are more things you need to do to build your network on LinkedIn. But, there is an etiquette to it. If you fail to follow proper LinkedIn etiquette, you’ll likely turn off the people you want to connect with most.

LinkedIn etiquette basics

1. Put a face with your name

Before you connect with anyone or ask for an introduction, make sure your profile includes your photo. No one likes to receive a connection request from a faceless stranger.

Make sure it’s a clear picture of you looking professional. The photo doesn’t have to be a professional photo as long as it’s clear and you look professional in it.

2. Don’t go on a connection rampage

If you try to connect with too many people you don’t know at one time, you run the risk of them indicating they don’t know you. If enough people say they don’t know you, LinkedIn will “black ball” you from being able to connect with other people.

At this point, the only way you’re able to connect with anyone on LinkedIn is if you already have their email address. This restriction can last for months or even years.

Only connect with people you know, people you’ve been introduced to by a mutual connection, or people you’ve previously met in another setting.

3. Ask for an introduction

So how do you connect with new people on LinkedIn if you should only connect with people you already know?

LinkedIn used to have a “get introduced” feature which let you choose a mutual friend to request an introduction from, directly from the profile of the person you want to meet.

But, in typical LinkedIn fashion, they changed this functionality after everyone finally got used to the “get introduced” feature, and then of course made it slightly more cumbersome. (Thanks LinkedIn!)

Now, to get introduced, you have to ask your mutual contact to go to your profile, and have them select “share profile via message” from the “more” button.

You’ll probably have to follow up with your connection to make sure he or she has done what you’ve asked them to do.

Always ask a mutual connection you know well, someone you trust to complete the task. And don’t forget to thank them for doing so!

4. Include a personal note

When connecting with someone, always choose the option to include a personal note in your connection request. This is common courtesy, but most people fail to take this extra step.

Your note should be brief, such as reminding the person how you two met. And it should NEVER include anything about asking for a job or asking to “pick their brain“!

5. Don’t spam people

Once your connection request has been accepted, don’t spam your new connection’s LinkedIn inbox. Spamming is one of the biggest complaints people have about LinkedIn.

Make sure you’re private messages are personalized and sincere. Take the time to build a rapport before asking for anything in return. I teach more about this when I discuss informational interviews in my on-demand program, The Secret to Successful Networking.

6. Be a contributor and a resource

Be helpful by contributing and sharing information that’s of interest to the people you’re trying to attract to your profile. This is especially important to do within the various LinkedIn groups.

(You are joining LinkedIn groups, aren’t you???)

Understand the audience within each group, and share links to articles and other information specific to the interests of each group. Avoid posting anything unprofessional or anything irrelevant to the group’s focus.

Also, like, comment, and share other people’s posts within groups. They’ll be more likely to connect with you without an introduction if you show a genuine interest in what they’re posting.

Stay current

As you follow the unspoken rules of LinkedIn etiquette, remember to also pay attention to the frequent changes in LinkedIn’s functionality.

As I stated earlier, it’s typical for LinkedIn to change its functionality much more frequently than other social media platforms do. If you don’t go into LinkedIn and peruse the site on a regular basis, you can easily get lost or confused.

So, always stay current, and always mind your manners!

Related sources

How to Land a New Job With the Help of a Face Mask

Regardless of your feelings or beliefs on wearing a face mask during the pandemic, you might want to consider it as a potential networking tool during these uncertain times. Especially if you’re currently in the market for a new job.

We know networking opportunities have been limited due to months of quarantine. But as I share in my on-demand program The Secret to Successful Networking, networking can happen any time, any place. Even at the essential places like the grocery store, the drug store, or the curbside of your favorite restaurant.

You never know who will be standing in line six feet ahead of you, or six feet behind you. It could be the person who works for a company currently hiring instead of downsizing. This person may know the hiring manager where he or she works. This is the perfect person to start a conversation with to begin the path to a potential new job.

But how do you do so when wearing a face mask?

A face mask is a creative conversation starter

The idea of using a face mask as a networking tool and conversation starter first came to me as a funny thought. I didn’t really take it seriously. But then, as I started thinking more about it, I thought, why not?

Why not have a little fun with a face mask and perhaps open a door to a new contact who can lead to your next job offer? It could be something worth trying, kind of like an interesting social experiment.

So what exactly does this look like? What if you were to write your elevator speech on your mask?!

I know, this may sound strange, but hear me out on it. If you follow the rules I give on how to write a better elevator speech than the outdated recommended rules, it could actually work as a creative conversation starter.

How to write an elevator speech like none other

Keep it short and create opportunity for dialogue

Most career experts will tell you your elevator pitch should be 30-60 seconds, as if this is considered brief. If you’ve ever listened to someone go on for 30 seconds or more about their work, you know it feels very long. Especially if you don’t have a clue what the industry jargon they use means.

Other career experts will also tell you your elevator speech should be a statement about your skills. This is not the way to start a conversation or pique someone’s interest in what you do.

Instead, your elevator pitch should just be one simple question about other people’s common problem. Specifically, a common problem you have the skills to help solve.

Why a question? Because it opens the door to a dialogue, a real conversation, instead of a sales pitch monologue.

And, you should be able to ask your question in seven seconds or less! You never want it to be so long or confusing they have to ask you to repeat the question. In other words, it should be so short you have the space to write it on a face mask in letters big enough to read from six feet away.

Make it relatable and create curiosity

So how do you come up with a concise yet clear question?

When thinking about the typical problem or challenge of your market (this can include the employer or the employer’s customers), what words do they usually use to describe it?

For instance, I’m a career coach who specializes in helping people make career transitions to work they’re more passionate about and cut out for. But this is not what I use as my elevator speech.

Instead, I take into consideration the words my market uses when they first reach out to me. Typically what they say is, “I feel stuck.”

Almost everyone can relate to this feeling at one time or another in their career. Therefore my elevator pitch is,

“Have you ever felt stuck in your career?”

This question is simple enough to resonate with most people, short enough to write on a face mask, and thought-provoking enough to lead to a dialogue. And even in the rare chance the other person hasn’t felt stuck in their career, it’s likely someone close to them has.

When the person responds to my question with a “yes,” I say:

“Well, I help people get unstuck.”

That’s it. That’s my whole elevator speech. It’s at this point most people are curious enough to want to know how I do this.

So when they ask me how I help people get unstuck in their career, I now have their permission to tell them more about my skills and experience. Then, I continue to ask more questions to better understand their concerns. This keeps the conversation going.

Face mask or no face mask

Writing your elevator pitch on your face mask may or may not be the best idea. But the point is, having one that’s simple and short enough to do so, is a good strategy. It’s the first essential piece in networking your way to a new job.

And it’s a much better approach than forcing people to listen to a monologue. You’ll stand out as refreshing and interesting, compared to the job seeker who bores everyone with their cookie-cutter elevator pitch.

Related sources: