Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Use Technology To Find a New Career

Use Technology to Find a New Career

The world of work and networking has been transformed by the Internet. New tools are now available to help you connect with professionals around the world. As Thomas Friedman pointed out in his book, The World is Flat, the world is flat and distance is no longer a factor. Au contraire! In a few seconds, you can communicate with people around the world, identify jobs around the world, and speak with people from around the world at practically no cost!

I am going to review how you can use these new on-line networking tools in your job search. I will NOT be focusing on job posting websites in this discussion. I will start with LINKEDIN for this discussion. I encourage people to share their experience with using LinkedIn if I have missed some important features or benefits.


LinkedIn ( is definitely the CADILLAC and SUPERHERO of professional networking. It has so many wonderful features such as

-Your own personalized professional profile that gives you a presence on the web so that people can look you up. This eliminates the need for you to create a web site, which can be quite costly.

-A repository for professional recommendations where colleagues and client can describe you and the services you provide. What a terrific way to showcase your experience skills and talents! Hopefully, recruiters will be looking you up on LinkedIn to see your recommendations and references eliminating the need for paperwork, emails and phone calls!

-Contacts: through LinkedIn, you can create a vast network of contacts with former and current colleagues, alumni of schools and others to create a huge personal professional network that can help you identify new professional opportunities. This is truly the most powerful aspect of LinkedIn. The power of number is at play here. For example, I have 366 network connections (contacts) on my profile. This, in fact, translates into more than 7,231,000 potential contacts in my own private professional network!

-Company listings in different fields so that you can create a targeted list of companies for your job search

-Job listings that only appear on LinkedIn

-Professional Associations that you can join to connect with professionals in your field. This can help you network to a new job as well as find candidates for jobs. You can also let people know about information, jobs and services through these associations for a targeted approach to the market. These professional associations are natural conduits for Knowledge Sharing with people sharing and seeking insights, tips and jobs in an open professional environment.

-People listings to help you locate former colleagues or people who work for companies you have targeted in your job search or potential candidates for jobs to be filled.

-Applications such as presentations where you can upload presentations to highlight your services or accomplishments.

-Ask a Question to get answers to different types of questions (like

-Email inbox where you can communicate with your contacts

-Listing of your personal or company web site

As LinkedIn is constantly adding new features, the list above is just a start. To say the least, this professional networking tool will transform your career transition.

LinkedIn comes in different flavors. There is the free service as well as premium services that cost a monthly fee. The free service limits you to 500 searches that you can do in a certain period of time and also limits the amount of invitations that you can send to add people to your network. The premium services offer you a greater amount of searches and invitations. Personally, I have never felt the need to get the premium service but depending on how you use it, it could certainly be worth your while to upgrade to the premium services.


Here are some tips on how to use LinkedIn in your job search:

-Complete your Professional Profile on LinkedIn, listing your work experience and positions, education, recommendations, your website address, awards, interests and professional associations which you have joined in LinkedIn. Include a professional picture to personalize your site.

-Build your Contacts. LinkedIn will copy your address book from your email address book and let you know which people are using LinkedIn. You can then request these people to join your network by sending a Join my Network invitation. Using the people Search function, you can also search for people in the companies where you have worked or look up friends and alumni of schools you have attended and invite them as well.
It is recommended that you start your network with people you know as you will turn to them for advice. However, you may expand your network to include others who are in the field in which you would like to work or people with whom you share a common professional interest.

-Request recommendations from colleagues and clients so that you can showcase your skills and abilities. You may also recommend colleagues with whom you have worked to do the same for them. Keep your recommendations short but extremely relevant to highlight the special skills of the person you are recommending.

-Join Professional Associations: This is the key to opening the door to professionals like yourself with whom you can network, share information and identify job opportunities. The relationships you forget can change your life. Identify the groups you want to join by using the Search function. Use these associations to ask questions, share information, get job listings, network to get advice and feedback and identify career opportunities and identify candidates for jobs.

-Identify Companies you would like to target to develop a targeted company list. Once you have identified the companies, start searching for people who work in these companies. You can invite them to be part of your network and start networking with them.

-Contact People in Your Targeted Companies: you can contact people in the targeted companies by calling them or emailing them. You can email them through LinkedIn if they have their email on their address. Or you can communicate with them if they become part of your network. Another way is calling them at work after being connected through the main number of the company, introducing yourself as a member of LinkedIn and asking if you would be able to send them an introductory email to introduce yourself and set a time to speak or meeting with them to get their advice and feedback on your career plans. Networking is the best approach to contacting people to establish a reciprocal relationship to get their advice and feedback on your career plans as opposed to asking them for a job. Asking for a job can be a negative experience with a lose-lose outcome whereas asking for their advice, feedback and contacts linked to your job search can be a win-win situation.

-Use Professional Associations you have joined to ask for advice and feedback on your career plans. People are always posting job listings on these sites.

-Use the Job Site to identify potential jobs that may be exclusive to LinkedIn.
Search for recruiters to let them know about your career plans and send them your resume. Recruiters have been using LinkedIn as a recruitment tool and may contact you if you meet their search criteria.

-Use LinkedIn when you respond to a job advertisement: as a member of LinkedIn, it will appear on your screen when you look at a job ad and let you know how many people are in your network who work for the company in which you are interested! This is truly cutting edge!

I hope that this tutorial has given some insights into how to use this powerful professional networking tool. It is truly a remarkable professional networking tool that can transform your career transition by combining so many important functions in one professional networking tool.

One word of warning about LinkedIn: it is definitely addictive and you can spend all your time on the Internet and not enough time out of the house networking with people at professional associations, meetings and other events. So budget your time and make time for meeting with people outside the house. Use LinkedIn as tool to meet and network with people in person as well as on the Internet!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

To Stay or To Leave: That is the Question

To Stay or to Leave: That is the Question

Recently, I was asked to write about the dilemma some people find themselves in now. These people have a job so they are lucky yet they are not very happy in their current position for a variety of reasons. Should they stay or should they leave?
Asking the question means that they are not satisfied with their current job. But, given the economic situation, they feel forced to stay where they are.

So here is some food for thought about this question.

Your Misery Index

The first key question is how miserable are you in your current situation?
Are you not at all, a little, a lot or horribly miserable in your current job?
If you are more on the lower end of this scale, then my advice would be stay in your current job. However, if you are more on the upper scale and horribly miserable, with a rotten boss, low morale, even getting sick from your current job, start looking for a better position. People are still getting hired into great jobs in spite of the gloom and doom.

If you have enough money to tide you over for at least 6 months, then you can even leave and devote yourself fulltime to finding a new position. Of course, in general, it is better to look for a job while you are employed as it puts you in a more competitive situation. But it can be a Catch 22 situation where you do not have the time to look because of your current job responsibilities. So your financial situation is a key ingredient to making this decision. You may also be able to take advantage of or negotiate a separation package.

Stay and Transform your Current Job into a Winner!

If you decide to stay because the company is not that bad, your boss is okay and your job is kind of interesting, then ask yourself how you can make your job even more compelling. Today’s market demands marketable skills. Maybe it’s time to take stock of your career and see how you can improve your current job. Ask yourself questions such as

Ø What is happening in my field?
Ø What are some new innovative practices that are emerging?
Ø How can I learn about these practices and perhaps incorporate them in my work?
Ø What courses could I take to sharpen my skills?
Ø What professional organizations can I join to network and learn more about the industry?
Ø What is happening in my company and how can I get involved in new projects to learn new skills and grow even further?
Ø What are some challenges facing my company and my organization and how can I help them meet these challenges?
Ø What projects can I volunteer for that will benefit my company as well as myself?
Ø How can I improve my relationships with my boss, my peers and my subordinates?

Stay and Invest in External Activities

Another option is stay in your current job and get involved externally - in volunteer organizations and professional associations to develop a different perspective, learn new skills and try on another hat to see if it suits you. If you wanted to get experience in a new function, do it with a volunteer organization to get that experience. Take some short courses in this area as well to see if you would like to change careers. Definitely get out and start networking. Unfortunately, we forget to keep up our network when we are working and only activate it when looking for a job so get ahead of the curve and develop and refresh that network.

Update your Resume and Keep Track of your Accomplishments

In any case, update your resume and keep track of your accomplishment in a small notebook. Describe your projects and accomplishments using the format Problem (what was the problem or situation you faced), Action: what action did you undertake; Results: what were your results? Use this information for performance reviews and your resume and for your One Minute Pitch.

One Minute Pitch

Share with your boss and his boss your One Minute Pitch to update them on your progress and projects. When you see them, let me know in one minute or less the results of that big project you had. It is good to keep people informed of your work in a concise high impact manner and that is the purpose of the One Minute Pitch. All too often, we get so involved in our work that we forget to let people know about our progress and results!

If You Decide to Leave

If you decide to leave your position, then follow the Five Steps to a New Job that I previously described in my first blog. People are being hired for jobs as I write. It may take longer, the salary may not be as high as in the past but companies are still hiring even while they are laying people off.

I welcome your thoughts on this topic.