Career E-News - February 2008 

Monthly E-zine of Career and Job Search Coaching for Executives & Professionals

Table of Contents
News from "The Office"
Five Steps to Productive Networking
Employment Background Checks: A Job Seeker's Guide (From Privacy Rights Clearinghouse)
Joellyn Recommends: Jibber Jobber Career Toolset
Quote of the Month

Career Action Planning (CAP) Session

question mark jpegDo you feel stuck, stalled, or confused in your job search or your career? My "Career Action Planning (CAP) Session"  will get to the root of your career problem and will provide a plan to solve it.
To learn more, go to  my website or call me at 508.459.2854.  
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Greetings!                           Joellyn in Black Suit 

Since moving to Worcester, I've traveled more than I have in 10 years! Last month, I accompanied my husband on a business trip to California, to visit family and friends in the area. We flew into Las Vegas on Jan 26 to see my parents, drove to the LA area the next day and ended up in the San Francisco Bay area by Feb 2. I wish I could say that we had nice weather, but this was hardly the case. We experienced 60 degrees only once while in the LA area and the weather that followed was mostly rain and cold. However, visiting my parents and seeing everyone else  -- my stepson, his fiancée and her parents, my brother and his family, one of my high school friends, and having dinner with our children during our stop-over in Chicago -- made the trip worthwhile!     


Statistics have proven that networking is the key to the hidden job market: positions filled by word-of-mouth instead of through ads and recruiters. "Informational interviews" -- which I call "referral meetings" --  have been touted as a way to tap into the resources of your networking contacts, to get advice, information and suggestions to plan your next career move. However, many jobseekers approach these meetings with the wrong mindset -- and wind up burning bridges instead of building relationships.  In my brand-new article: "Five Steps to Productive Networking" I offer some strategic guidelines for successful  referral meetings that are "win-win" for you and your interviewees.   


Employment background checks seem to make jobseekers cringe with worry, wondering what will show up on their reports and how the findings can hurt their chances at getting hired.  However, the more you understand the "why" and "how" of background checks, you'll be better able to prepare for them and know exactly what type of information is being reported. You'll find all the information you need in the Employment Background Checks: A Job Seeker's Guide, compiled by Privacy Rights Clearing House.


Managing all of your job search data - including your networking contacts and places where you've sent your resumes - can be a daunting task. This is why Jason Alba (Author of I'm on Linked In - Now What???) created Jibber Jobber - an online career toolset where you can keep track of all this data in an organized fashion, to be sure that nothing slips through your fingers.  


If you are stuck, stalled or confused with your career or job search, take advantage of my nominally-priced 

Career Action Plan (CAP) Session to help move your career forward in 2008!   
Here's to your Career Success! 
:-) Joellyn
News from "The OfficeRed Megaphone"

I'm excited to announce that I'll be one of the contributing writers for the soon-to-be-published book: Job Search Bloopers: Every Mistake You Can Make on the Road to Career Suicide...and How to Avoid Them. (Publisher: Career Press; Authors: Laura De Carlo and Susan Guarnari.) This excellent resource will be available August 2008 in major bookstores. 

Five Steps to Productive Networking   
by Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin

The best way to tap the hidden job market is through your networking contacts in what I call "referral meetings" (on the phone or in-person) where you request advice and information to plan your next career move.

However, aside from the fear factor associated with talking to strangers, requesting these meetings often brings negative implications, because many folks believe that they'll inevitably be asked about job openings they may not know about or have. So, to assure these referral meetings work to your best advantage, while building positive rapport with your interviewees, follow these five steps:  


1. Think "Positioning" instead of "Networking." In a recent article on this subject, career columnist Jim Pawlak says:  "Positioning is a far more accurate description of what [jobseekers are] trying to accomplish. It's also.. less threatening than the networking mindset, which always seems to gravitate toward asking for a job shortly after saying hello..  Positioning is a career-management tool, not an I've-got-to-find-a-job-right-now tool. If you position yourself correctly, you'll find that you are always a player in the hidden job market - those jobs that are filled by word of mouth and reputation, rather than through ads and recruiters."  Pawlak likens "positioning" to planting perennials and "short-term networking" to planting annuals: "Because positioning is a career-management tool, it requires a plan, time for the plan to unfold and time to stay in position each day of each month of each year. Think of positioning like a gardener planting seeds. Short-term networking gardeners are forever planting seeds for annuals. These one-season, fast-blooming plants with shallow roots die quickly. Positioning gardeners plant seeds for deep-rooted perennials that bloom year after year if they're tended properly."  Within this context, think of your networking contacts as long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships which will bear fruit over time, rather than the immediate future.


2.Use a "Disclaimer" When Requesting A Referral Meeting. Whether you communicate with your contact via email, snail mail, or phone, use this disclaimer (or a form of it), when requesting a referral meeting appointment: "Please understand: I don't expect you to have or know of any positions within your organization at the moment. I am seeking your advice, suggestions, resources and possible contacts to others, which will help me plan the next steps in my career campaign." Doing so will help build rapport with your contact, while lowering expectations and removing the pressure. Your interviewee is then free to relax and give you with the information you want, without feeling that they'll be subject to bait and switch tactics or hidden agendas which, sadly, have occurred too frequently during referral meetings. Of course, if the person you're speaking with does know of a position that fits your career goals, this is icing on the cake! However, be sure to let them tell you about these positions, instead of you asking, which would negate your original disclaimer.      


3. Prepare Your Questions Ahead of Time. Know what you will be discussing with your interviewee.  Are you looking for information about a specific career field or company?  Or do you want to know if you have the required skills to enter a certain industry? Whatever your situation is, preparing your questions (at least 10) in advance will assure that the meeting will go smoothly, while being considerate of your interviewee's valuable time.  You might consider emailing the questions to your contact before the meeting, so he/she won't feel overwhelmed. Here are some suggested questions:


If exploring an industry, you might ask these questions:

·         How did you get started in this career?

·         What do you like best (and least) about your career?

·         What did you learn on the job that can't be taught in school?

·         If you had to name 5 or 6 skills that make people successful in this field, what would they be?


Ask of these people who are doing what you're interested in or who may hire for that position:

·         What are the key skills and knowledge areas necessary for success in this field/role?

·         What are the trends in your industry/function?

·         What associations, groups or activities are important for professional development and  networking?

·         What might be the best way to bridge education or experience gaps?   How would I "field test" this career?


4. Know that Networking is a Two-Way Street. When you're finished with the meeting, thank your contact for their time - and be sure to ask how you can be helpful to them. You can say something like: "I have an extensive network and come across people all the time. If you can tell me what type of lead, information, or type of contact that would be helpful to you, I'll be glad to pass it along."  Asking permission is critical, because you want to avoid bombarding your contact with information that they neither request nor want.


5. Send a Thank You Letter within a day or two of your meeting.  Be sure to use this type of verbiage in your letter:  "Thank you for all your help. If you want to know how this all turns out for me, I can keep you informed of my progress, is that okay?  And, please keep me in mind - if you run across any information or connections that would be helpful, I'd be glad to hear about it - and I will do the same for you." Saying "thank you" and saying it often adds mileage to your career campaign -- even if the information your contact provided didn't work out the way you had hoped. Hearing "thank you" tells your contact  you appreciate their efforts unconditionally and they will be motivated to keep on helping you.


© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, 2008. 

All rights reserved 
Employment Background Checks: 
A Job question mark jpegSeeker's Guide (From Privacy Rights Clearinghouse)
Whether you are hired or promoted for a job may depend on the information revealed in a background check. Job applicants and existing employees as well as volunteers may be asked to submit to background checks.
For some jobs, screening is required by federal or state law. The current emphasis on security and safety has dramatically increased the number of employment background checks conducted.


In short, employers are being cautious. At the same time, applicants and employees fear that employers can dig into the past in ways that have nothing to do with the job.


This guide explains the why and how of background checks. It also tells you what can be covered in a background report, your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and what you can do to prepare. For more information, go to the References section at the end of this guide. The PRC does not perform background checks.  Access the guide here:  (From Shifting Gears Newsletter: Dec. 26, 2007)

MantaJoellyn Recommends: 

Jibber Jobber Career Toolset


Jason Alba (author of I'm on Linked In - Now What???) developed the idea for JibberJobber during a frustrating job search where his tracking spreadsheet wasn't particularly helpful to him.  Aside from the number of items he was tracking, such as people, companies, jobs applied for, etc., the relationships between all of them grew increasingly complex - and he discovered that key information was slipping between the cracks. 


JibberJobber combines the salesperson's Customer Relationship Management concept with career best-practices,  delivering a very useful tool for managing multiple career transitions or promotions, to ensure that you have important information at your fingertips, in a user-friendly format. You can sign up for a fr*ee account, or upgrade to a premium account for only $9.95 a month. Visit the Jibber Jobber website, to learn more:

Quote of the Month
New Q
 "There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt  
 I appreciate having you as a subscriber and I hope the content in this newsletter will help you be successful in your career. See you in March! 


Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin
Certified Career Management Coach

© 2008 All rights reserved.