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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

You're Fired! But it's not Donald Trump on the Apprentice.

Donald Trump is famous world-wide for those words, "You're Fired!" But if you have ever been terminated from a job, you know the heartache you feel when you hear those or similar words.

I would guess that almost anyone who is successful in their career has been fired at least once in their life. How you react is important. The reasons for someone being fired may be justified or not. Reasons can be for illegal actions or for immoral activities. In many instances, if you are an "at-will" employee, you can be terminated for no reason whatsoever. If you feel you have been illegally dismissed because of your age, skincolor, race, national origin, religious beliefs, handicap, gender or sexual orientation, you may be able to contact someone who specializes in employment law to help you determine what you should do next.

So you got the notice, you will definitely have some emotions. Being fired is about the same stress level as the breakup of a marriage or the death of a loved one.
Anger is typically the most frequent emotion. Don't keep it bottled up. Find a trusted friend who will listen while you vent. Avoid a pay-back attitude. If you are interviewing for new positions, if you share negative comments about a previous boss or company, you could be limiting your chances with that new company.

Here are a couple of things that you should try to do:

  • Identify the reason you were fired.
  • Reassure potential employers that the problem has been resolved.  
You and your previous employer have two perspectives about your termination.
  • Employer - Inability to perform job functions effectively due to excessive absenteeism.
  • Employee - My car kept breaking down. It was unreliable.
Whatever happened, if you can rectify a situation to keep it from happening again, you should. If you were not given a reason why you are being fired, you may want to contact a previous employer to find out so that you can avoid making any of the same mistakes.

What do you tell a potential employer about getting fired?
  • Don't ever misrepresent your employment history on a job application. It is a legal document and if an employer finds out it is falsified, that in itself, could be grounds for termination.
  • Avoid using the word "fired". Other phrases could include "let go involuntarily" Involuntarily dismissed"
  • During an interview prepare a one sentence summary of the problem that led to the dismissal and then offer an explanation of how you have resolved the situation.
  • Never express anger or make negative comments about your past employers. Instead focus on the transferable skills and improved attitude. 
  • When you are asked "Tell me about yourself" you can initiate the discussion with the interviewer using your prepared statement and not have to wait for when the interviewer brings up the dreaded question.
We can be our own worst enemy. Check with a friend whose opinion you trust to see if your attitude is good, your outlook on your job search, and your statements regarding your previous employer. Make sure everything is going to appear positive to a new employer before you go on that first interview.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What does your email address say about you?

I am responsible for adding names and email addresses to our e-news letter contact list.  I read some very interesting and sometimes amusing email addresses.  Others are pretty mundane or maybe even boring depending upon your take on the situation.

But let's discuss for a few moments the effect your email address, twitter handle or blog name will have on a potential employer or business associate.

  • If you are a sports fan that is great, but what if you are a Cubs fan and the person you are trying to impress with your credentials absolutely detests the Cubs?
  • You are a family man and your email says Smithfam6@ what ever service you use.  A potential employer can get a clue as to your personal life without you saying a word.
  • Your email address references part of your anatomy or romantic interests and isn't quite appropriate if you are trying to do business with a very conservative organization.

The point is that you need to save those "personal" email addresses for your private correspondence.  It is very easy these days to set up a new email account on one of the web based services like gmail, hotmail or yahoo.  Try to use your first and last name so that someone will be able to identify you easily should they want to contact you.  If you have a common name such as John Smith, perhaps you can use a period or a number to associate with your name and it will still sound professional.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Job Search Tips

The holidays may offer time for reflection and resolutions, thoughts about family and future from Thanksgiving through the new-year.  The season also presents challenges and opportunities for people seeking employment.  KCDEE reminds people who are unemployed or facing an uncertain future to understand that jobs are available and for those individuals considering a career change, this is an excellent time to explore training and education possibilities.

We offer these “Holiday Tips” to inspire people to be diligent in their pursuit of education, training and employment opportunities and to ensure that they take full advantage of our Illinois workNet Centers.  The workNet staff works hard to satisfy the demands of our customers - unemployed individuals and companies who seek good employees. These  “Holiday Tips" are presented to encourage people to not despair during this season and instead make the best use of our resources in their quest to satisfy their personal career goals and to meet the needs of their family. Check the Illinois workNet website to find a center near you.

                   Kane County Department of Employment and Education Offers
                             Holiday Tips for Dislocated or Unemployed Workers

  1. Continue to apply for full time work during the holiday season.  Make sure your application and resume are there for employers when they are considering hiring new people in the New Year.
  2. Seek part-time work during the holiday season.  Many people are hired to fill positions created by holiday vacations or to meet year-end demand from customers.  Some employers evaluate part-time employees for full-time positions.  This is your opportunity to shine and make a good impression.
  3. If there are any career fairs – dress for success and show-up with a resume.   Job fairs offer a great opportunity to meet potential employers face-to-face.
  4. Network yourself, at gatherings, to people who might be aware of job openings.  Many referrals for jobs come from employees, talk to someone you know who works for a company where you would like to work and get the inside scoop on jobs.   In social situations maintain a level of professionalism.
  5. Utilize resources from any training institution, college, university or school you have attended to help you discover jobs that may not be advertised or posted on an Internet job search website. 
  6. Keep a watchful eye on expenses.  Focus on the many good things in your life and not the materialistic demands of the season.  Many successful people look back to tight financial times, when they focused on family and friendship, as some of the best, most meaningful moments in their lives.
  7. Explore the services available to you through local agencies to improve your resume and interviewing skills. Help is available from the Illinois workNet Centers for job counseling, job search and access to a number of websites. 
  8. Be positive and patient.  Understand that job loss, unemployment and job seeking are stressful situations.    There is truth to the fact that the hardest job of all is finding a good job.  
  9. Get organized.  Write and design a new resume, list employers that offer good career opportunities.  Be methodical about your job search and set goals for contacting employers by keeping a daily contact log. 
  10. Be courteous and understanding when you follow up with potential employers - your attitude on the phone may be the deciding factor in getting an interview or job offer.  A positive attitude to your job search and interviews will help you be successful.  “Thank You” notes and letters after the interview offer you another opportunity to sell yourself to an employer or to drive home a point you may have overlooked during your interview.
  11. Try to be flexible in your approach to your career. Understand that you will always be acquiring new skills and adapting to new technology in almost every occupation.  Many people will change jobs or career paths with their current employer many times in their working life.  
The Illinois workNet Centers offer services from a group of partnering agencies, at a one-stop location, to assist job seekers find employment and where employers can meet their workforce development goals.   There are Centers in Elgin, North Aurora, DeKalb and satellites in Aurora and Yorkville that will help you.

The workNet Centers offer various workshops to help you improve your resume, your interviewing techniques and other skills to help you improve your job search activities.  Career counseling, labor market information about jobs in demand in your county and access to education and training resources are just some of the services available at the center to assist you in your job search.   

Thursday, December 9, 2010

50 Top Careers for 2011

The following is a summary and this writers thoughts on a tweetchat on 12-7-2010. The discussion was with Alexis Grant tweeting as @USNewsCareers.  Here are the results:

How do you determine what careers/industries make the list?
Our list is based on job-growth projections from the Labor Department. We look for jobs with above-average incomes, and high job satisfaction, etc. Those job-growth projections are a great measure of stability, they tell us how much growth is expected between 2008-2018. We also talked with people who work in these jobs to gather anecdotal evidence about employment prospects and job satisfaction.  The report excludes careers that don’t have large numbers of positions, because they provide opportunity only for small number of people.  The list looks to diversify in terms of category and education requirements to offer a wide variety of solid jobs. USNewsCareers uses the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine the initial numbers but all of the factors are taken into consideration.  They also analyze past lists and many of the careers transfer onto the list from year to year.  One participant said, "...if (the list) changed too much from year to year, they would be great jobs, not careers."

If you are searching for a career that isn't on USNews list, you can go to or to .  O*NET is a useful site as it gives a total picture of the career path as well as similar titles.

Seven careers that were removed from the list this year were: loan officer, funeral director, cost estimator, plumber, landscape architect, security system installer, market research analyst.  Some of these were affected by the economy.
The new seven included:
Athletic trainer – Largely b/c of high demand in high schools.
Interpreter/Translator – I find this one fascinating – high demand because of global economy.
Sales manager – This job is recovering along with the economy. Highest median salary of $97K
Education admin – For example, a high school principal. Ranks high 4 job satisfaction. 
Heating, Air conditioning and refrigeration technicians did well partly because of demand for green energy compliance. 
For the full list: Check this link:

Many participating in the discussion were amazed that Funeral Directors were being booted from the list because you cannot predict when people will die and with the aging of the Boomers, there should be a large prospect for that career field.  Perhaps tho, the Boomers are living longer and "flying in the face of death".

The question was raised about whether entrepreneurs should be on the list?  Thoughts on this were that isn't everyone who starts a business an entrepreneur?  Isn't everyone who is an entrepreneur performing multiple careers at one time - CFO, COO, CEO, marketing, sales, and on and on. But while entrepreneurs are a growing path for many people, in fact, they are often sole proprietors.  Employment data is much more difficult to calculate on sole proprietors.

What top skills are hiring managers looking for?

Skill sets! As part of each career profile, we’ve included tips and advice for people who work in the industry on landing a job. Look for this advice at the bottom of each profile.  Hiring managers are looking for achievement oriented people who can do for their company what they have done for others. They want to see multi-talented individuals - but who still fit the "mold".  Know what your skills are and how you can apply them. Not only do you need the right skills, but  be able to fit within the new corporate culture and team. Along with job-specific skills, many hiring managers said “people skills” are also super important – being able to communicate. You can also see USNewsCareers slide show with advice for landing jobs on our list:  

For some jobs, having business savvy was also cited as helpful. Besides job skills, soft skills are important - things like communication, team work, conflict resolution and about 10 others.  Soft skills are so vital in the business world. if you don't have them, you wont get far. Many employers prefer someone who displays these skills - they can't teach someone (workplace skills) but, they can teach job skills. Even the president of Southwest Airlines says "that you can teach skills, but you can't teach behaviors". You can hire for attitude and train for skill. Because no one career is right for everybody, USNewsCareers include 50 jobs on their list, with variety. Hiring managers are interested in people who can solve their companies problems.  Being able to explain how you helped your previous company achieve their goals will be a good selling feature for you.

This article was given as a resource - Inside the Hiring Manager's Head at the Job Interview
Strong speaking skills + strong work ethic most sought in#jobseekers by employers per NACE study 

One participant asked "Does anyone have a good list of hard skills for each industry/sector or know where I could find one?"  My answer to that would be use O*NET.  Here are the skills needed for an athletic trainer for example.

What jobs are in the most demand?

A good way to measure demand is with job-growth projections.  It tells how many positions are likely to be created between 2008-2018. To put this all in perspective, the average expected growth for all jobs based on data from BLS from 2008-2018 is about 10 %.
  • Using job-growth stats from Labor Department: 
  • Biomedical engineer is at the top for percentage of growth at 72%.
  • Neetwork architects – 52 %
  • Health care jobs - Dental hygienist = 36%, physician assistant = 39%
  • Athletic trainer – a job that’s new on the list this year – 37%
  • HVAC (also new on our list) - 28%.
  • Leisure & Hospitality -12% 
  • Professional & Business Services - 11% 
  • Information - 10%
Illinois has a website - that features a Key Sector area explaining the high-growth, high demand sectors for Illinois that include Agriculture, Healthcare, Information Technology, Manufacturing, and Transportation/Distribution/Logistics. 

Several participants sited career paths in IT - especially web developers, health care, and manufacturing. One poster said their hiring expectations for 2011Q1 is the most optimistic in two years. 

The best place to find the skill shortages in the marketplace is to track the volume of ads on job boards by sector/discipline. A good article re: skills not matching job openings: There are plenty of other articles out there. 

So many unemployed individuals have skills that are no longer in demand. Our economy has changed so fast and new skills are needed.  Workforce Investment Act (WIA)funds will help unemployed individuals learn new skills and can be targeted toward high-growth, high-demand careers.  If you are a lifelong learner, you will continue to build skills/attitude being able to keep up with the rate of change in workplace. People will have to adapt. Just as one example wind turbine repair technicians will have only  50% of the personpower needed by 2015 to maintain the wind turbines that are on-line right now. That doesn't take into consideration the effort to increase wind power into the future. 

Which careers on the list give a great salary for little education? 

Another article from USNewsCareers was: 10 jobs that offer a big bang for your buck:
  • Sales manager jumped out at Alexis, since you need a bachelor’s degree for a median annual salary of $97K.
  • On the health care side, dental hygienists make about $67K with associate’s degree and license. 
  • Physician assistants need 2-year associate’s degree plus certification, to bring home paycheck of $84K.
  • Gaming managers - who work at casinos, make about $67K after vocational or dealer school, plus certificate.
  • Meteorologists also do well, bringing in median of $85K with a bachelor’s degree.
Certifications and licenses are becoming more important, it shows you can actually do the work vs. take a test.
Service industry jobs are here to stay. It is one of the longest professions around.
One poster shared that you can research markets by asking what skills employers rate most important soft skills or hard skills. Alternately you could use a LinkedIn or a Twit poll.

One problem about which we have been hearing here at KCDEE is that employers want people with experience, but those who are retraining into new career fields may not have experience in their chosen new career field.  My question would be - How can you meld your transferable skills with your newly learned skills to impress upon a potential employer that you would be a great hire?

Which of the jobs on the list most interests you as a career path? 

Whichever career path you seek - technician, exec, etc., it is good to be proactive, knowledgeable, forward-thinking about your chosen industry. 
Some closing thoughts and resources that were offered include: 
If you would like to participate in upcoming Tweetchats, you will need a twitter account. Then go to  Log-in using your twitter account enter the hashtag #Careerchat and type away.  Let me warn you that the conversation is fast and furious and you can miss things as you type your thoughts, but they are full of useful information.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What is your career path?

This blog article said that "The US Department of Labor has actually said that people born in the 80’s and 90’s will have 10-14 different jobs by the time they turn 38." read article  Personally, I have had 7, some simultaneously, some while still employed with the same organization.  But the days of my parents or grandparents who worked at the same company for 45 years and retired with the gold watch are becoming few and far between.

Learning what a new career path is can be a challenge.  If you are going to select an initial career or a new career path, you need to look into your magic ball and envision what jobs will be available when you are finished with your training that could take 6 months or possibly as long as 8 years (if you want to be a doctor).  No one can really see into the future, but there is a plethora of resources available to help you sort through what path you may want to follow.  I would like to share a few options with you.

Assessment -  there are tests on-line available for you to take so that you can understand your likes and dislikes.  They will survey your skills and talents.  One option for this is through the award winning Illinois workNet website.  Once you have completed this, you may have a better understanding of what draws you to a certain type of job over another.

Labor Market Information - You don't want to find yourself having spent a significant period of time training for a job only to find out that there are no jobs available in that field.  To help prevent "dead-end" training, you should investigate labor market data surrounding the career path you have chosen. Illinois, as well as other states, have information to help you determine growth and wages for certain occupations or groups of occupations. Check here.
Career Information - Once you determine your interests and selected several jobs that have anticipated growth into the future you need to research the career to make sure that it sounds like something you wish to pursue.  A couple of resources for that include Illinois workNet and O*NET online. Both give you the opportunity to find out the basic duties, educational requirements and so much more about a particular area of employment.  If you are interested in researching areas that are high-growth, high-demand positions you may turn to the Key Sectors section of Illinois workNet.

Education - Now that you have figured out what you want to do, do you possess the skills required to do that job?  You may need job skills training, or a full degree.  You can find out the types of training needed from the career information sites listed above. All of the options are identified on Illinois workNet under the "Learn" tab.  Local schools are identified on KCDEE's webpage. You can also reach the approved list of statewide training providers who offer classes to those receiving Workforce Investment Act training services.

Skills - sometimes your education is adequate but you may need to enhance your soft skills or other minor job skills like typing or update your computer software skills.  We have resources for that as well. You can find soft skills information in this blog, on KCDEE webpage, or on Illinois workNet.  Maybe you need to type better or faster. helps you with those skills. Or you can improve your computer skills here. Goodwill Foundation offers software training for free.

No matter what the assessments say about you, there are a couple of other things that you need to take into consideration and that is your personal feelings.  One example I recently found out about was a woman could not work for any business associated with the tobacco industry because her mother had died of lung cancer from smoking.  How will your personal beliefs impact your decision to follow a particular career path?

How many careers have you had in your life and what is your next one going to be?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Are you prepared? Tough Interview Questions

Like every good girl scout or boy scout you need to be prepared for your interview.  The typical questions that you are asked about your previous employment are a cinch. But some of the following may take some thought and preparation.
  • Tell me about yourself - prepare a few sentences that gives employers a rounded look at you and your personality.  Don't get too personal or talk on and on.
  • Companies want to know if you have done your research about them, so you may end up with questions like: Why do you want to work here; how can you help our company; or why do want to work in _____ field?
  • Questions often come up about your weaknesses or your strengths, achievements or disappointments, biggest mistake - prepare one or two for each and how you are coping or overcoming them.
  • Often interviewers will ask about previous positions, bosses or co-workers, what you liked or disliked, pet peeves - be very careful to be as positive as possible.  Do not bash, but if there were challenges between you and something at a previous job, make a simple statement and move on.
  • What will your references, co-workers, subordinates, or supervisors say about you? With social media, the "checking references" and only getting dates of employment is now secondary.  The savvy employer will know how to search you on the internet and find out what they want to know about you.
  • Knowing about your goals and plans are important to employers so asking about where you see yourself in x years or will you be pursuing further education or what do you really want to do in life? How have you improved yourself over the last year? What has kept you from progressing as fast as you would like?
  • Then may come the thought process development questions - how would you handle x? What does success mean to you? What motivates you? How do you motivate others? Your philosophy of life, work or your field?
  • Knowing how you work is important to employers - whether you are a team player or work alone, help others succeed, offer suggestions to management, lead or motivate others, or how you deal with stressful situations.
  • Why did you leave your last position? This isn't a big deal if it was to take an advancement or because the company closed, but if you were fired, you need a diplomatic, yet truthful response.
  • How long have you been out of work?  What have you been doing since? Are two questions that a few years ago would not have come into play.  If you have been volunteering, working with a temporary agency, or taken on more domestic engineer responsibilities yet kept active with industry organizations, this will be a bit easier to offer a response. Employers want to know that your skills are still current.
  • How do you spend your spare time? They can't ask if you smoke or drink or are involved in illegal activities, but they can  often deduce from your answers whether you might fit within their corporate culture.
  • Additional questions may include whether you are willing to relocate or travel, work extra hours, or considering other positions and if your employer knows you are planning to leave.
  • Employers cannot ask you:
  1. Marital status
  2. Sexual orientation
  3. If you belong to a union
  4. If you are on public assistance
  5. When did you graduate from (high school or college)
  6. Do you have a heart condition? Do you have asthma or any other difficulties breathing?
  7. Do you have a disability which would interfere with your ability to perform the job?
  8. How many days were you sick last year?
  9. Have you ever filed for workers' compensation? Have you ever been injured on the job?
  10. Have you ever been treated for mental health problems?
  11. What prescription drugs are you currently taking?
If you are prepared, you can answer any question and hopefully, find your way into a new position.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Don't let your job search lag over the holidays

Here are some ideas to keep your job search from being derailed by the holidays:
  • While everyone else is out celebrating the season, you may be able to gain the upper hand, by continuing your job search.  The human resource departments still work over the holidays, so there may be a perfect opportunity for you to get noticed. Everyone needs extra help over the holidays, prove indispensable and youve a good chance of being kept on.
  • Are you able to provide value to someone else - can you teach them something or show someone a new skill?  If so, it could turn into a new job.
  • When you network are you offering a personal business card with your contact information on it?
  • With so many holiday parties happening, networking is at it's finest. Be prepared to enter the conversation with useful industry information and if the conversation path leads to you sharing that you are looking for employment, let it flow - but in a positive light. Keep things upbeat!
  • Starting a conversation with someone can be intimidating. You might use this model - FORM - Family, Occupation, Recreation, Message - ask questions about these topics to start a conversation.  When it comes around to the occupation - there is your chance to mention that you are looking for a new one.  But remember, it isn't all about you, it is about the person to whom you are speaking.  Take time to listen.
  • Should you mention that you are looking for work when you send your holiday cards? Perhaps it might be best to keep the greeting just that - a greeting.  BUT, you can take the opportunity after the holiday to "catch up" or network with those on your holiday card list to say that you are seeking new employment.
  • When you are networking through the holidays have some "gives" prepared, so you have something to offer, not just "takes."
  • Volunteer - not just during the holidays, but regularly.  It is an opportunity to keep your skills sharp and you never know who else is involved.  They may be in a job offering position.
Thanks to #careerchat for the inspiration for this article. Here is another link related to this topic:

So what are your job search (or other) plans for the holidays?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pay it Forward

Do you remember the movie "Pay it Forward" with Haley Joe Osment?  It was all about doing something nice for someone else.  Paying it forward can apply to every aspect of your life including your job search or your business growth.

When you are out networking you should adopt this very philosophy. By offering to help someone you meet with a recommendation or a referral you are paying it forward.  That person that you helped will remember what you did for them and will in turn work to repay your kindness.

I worked retail many years ago.  I knew my mall very well.  I managed a store that had a large variety of items so that when someone came in looking for an item, if I didn't have that particular item, I could tell the shopper exactly where they could find the item they were seeking.  When that shopper needed something that I did sell, they came back to shop in my store over and over.

Use your network to see how you can assist others in your network.  If you are using LinkedIn use the tools within the social media network to "Pay it Forward" by forwarding profiles to others who may be interested, answer questions asked in the "ASK" section, thoughtfully answering questions asked within groups, and sharing articles or information in your status updates. 

You never know where it might lead!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Networking for Introverts

This is the discussion from the today's tweetchat about Networking for Introverts.  The answers are copied from the twitter feed.  In some cases they are in twitter shorthand.

Q1: Whats the most difficult thing about networking?
  • For me it was always how to break into a group already chatting.
  • Finding relevant contacts. Even though every contact can have a silver lining.
  • when at a networking event joining in a convo. I sometimes feel like I am butting in
  • I would say just gaining enough confidence to actually start. It can be sort of intimidating at times.
  • Finding a group that seems open and inviting, not closed is the key.
  • Starting a conversation with a total stranger.
  • The most difficult thing in regards to networking is having to step outside of your comfort zone. You'll be glad you did.
  • Making new contacts without going to mix and mingle events.
  • The initial starting of the conversation is the toughest for me
  • Telling your elevator speech over and over again
  • identifying the quality, decision making contacts or those who can connect you with them
  • Getting in and getting out are the hardest part.
  • walking up to the first person. After that the ice is broken. I look for someone standing off by themself.
  • Networking is more about how you can help them vs. how they can help YOU. Provide value first, then ask for help.
  • The dreaded elevator pitch. Saying who you are & what you do clearly and concisely.
  • When you do find a contact, it's hard to bridge the gap between personal and professional conversation
  • Identifying a networking group that can maximize your chances of securing a job.
  • Just jumping in and getting started with a conversation can be one of the hardest for me
  • getting your message across in an effective but non obtrusive way
  • Fearing rejection and feeling like you're bothering people are two big networking worries
  • Here's an article that might help you with networking: 11 Rules for Networking 
  • Discipline to keep networking. It's easy to get to a 'comfortable place' and think you're done.
  • Being nervous and talking too fast!
  • Your industry knowledge is key. At a networking event, you need to have something to offer others!

Q2: What are some ice-breakers that have worked for you?
  • Icebreaker? Ask them to tell you about themselves. People love to talk. You listen & learn, then add to the conversation.
  • Good to have some ice breakers already prepared. My favorite: Is this your first time here? If not what makes you keep coming bk
  • I stand by the food table so I can always eat if they r mean:)
  • The first icebreaker is your smile. - And a firm handshake!
  • Ice breaker: where are you originally from? 
  • Networking tip: While there's typically food there, eat before. You'll have free hands to shake & provide resumes!
  • 'playing host' by making introductions or passing out name tags is a great ice-breaker. it takes pressure off. 
  • ask them about their company and what they do for them
  • Once you meet someone, introduce them to another and then form your own "group."
  • Great ice-breaker there--talk about the food!
  • Make sure to emphasize what you can do for them instead of what they can do for you. Be your own salesperson. Show your skills.
  • I think a good ice-breaker is showing genuine interest in the other person's life during the conversation
  • Say, "Hi," and smile. Think more about how to listen vs. what to say.
  • Focus on local common ground. "Man those Seahawks were bad last weekend" or "did you hear about XZY downtown last week?"
  • Icebreaker: What are you seeing as industry/profession trends right now?
  • Reading their nametag and introducing yourself, easy!
  • having group ambassadors like in the chambers help with introductions. After that it is up to your conversation
  • a simple question like what is the last good movie you saw has always helped me
  • People love to talk about themselves. Just start with a simple question.
  • Listening happens in three stages- Receiving / Processing / Responding - 3 keys to good networking practice
  • I always look for someone who seems to be "lost" or lonely-looking...invite them in
  • sign up as a volunteer at the registration guest or a greeter at the event.
  • ask what people are passionate about, not what they do
  • My usual opening line: "Bride or groom?" 
  • ask how they like their iphone/android/blackberry or other gadget!
  • Networking is almost like that first initial date. Get to know the person you are talking to. Figure out their interests 
  • Dont look distracted with whos coming in the room, remember the person in front of you!
Q2A Where do you find networking events?
  • LinkedIn has an application "Networking Events" that you can use to find local meetings.
  • Places to look for networking events - events & groups/local yahoogoups/Social Networking site
  • check and look for networking events, chamber mixers, organization postings in community calendars.
  •, Yahoo Groups (professional associations), even community news sites/papers to find networking events

Q3: What are tips for smart schmoozing?
  • It's nice to go with a friend, but don't just talk to people you already know all night.
  • Do your research! Show excitement for previous accomplishments and seek to gain more understanding about them
  • Keep your hands and mouth free to talk... hard to create a good first impression with your hands and mouth full! 
  • Networking- shut your phone off unless you are waiting for a call from the president or your expecting wife
  • what can you offer to do to help the person with whom you are networking.
  • networking is like sales ~ 1st build relationship, then find out their needs, sell yourself as the solution
  • Be natural and go with the flow. You don't want to sound fake and/or insincere.
  • Smart Schmoozers respect others time - are precise, to the point and do not overdo
  • Smart schmoozing has to include diligent follow up. No connection established if there is no follow through.
  • If you did your homework on attendees, you know their background. State their point & casually agree with it
  • Here's an article we did on smart schmoozing.
  • When in doubt, ask questions -- people like to talk about themselves!
  • Make the conversation about them before you make it about you.
  • Always have something to offer. Be willing to pay it forward!!! Don't be a taker!!!
  • Be genuinely interested. No canned conversation. Get him/her talking about something s/he's excited about.  
  • Another huge part of schmoozing is really listening to the other person. They can tell you a lot if you pay attention
  • Also - in schmoozing - don't make promises you can't follow up on
  • Tips for smart schmoozing: eye contact, avoid alcohol, and listen more than you talk!
  • Take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth, LISTEN less. Let people know you're truly interested.
  • Don't lead w/ what u want, start by finding out about them~what they do~find out if your exp./background would fit their needs
  • Collaborative conversation is good schmoozing - find what you both value and discuss key points/solutions.
  • Challenge yourself NOT to ask someone "What do you do?" You'll stay curious longer and make a better connection.
  • Be patient and be prepared to build a real relationship. Don't expect someone to offer you a job then and there.
  • Have found this article to be very helpful. 10 tips for successful business networking.
  • The key to schmoozing at a networking event is to mingle. Make sure you circle the room. You may meet some really great people.
  • Dont hit and run, nurture the relationship!

Q4: Just for fun--what are some networking horror stories?
  • Ever been stuck talking to someone who WON'T stop even to breathe, so you can't exit the conversation? It's the worst!
  • Once showed up at a networking event 45 min late, and everyone was drunk!
  • not a personal one but spilling your drink or food on someone would be awful
  • don't forget the breath mints!
  • Be PRESENT!!! Don't be checking your BlackBerry while trying to have a convo!!!
  • had a "close talker" back me up over 12 feet into a wall without realizing it!!! Pay attention to cues!
  • have been to networking events that was more like a new form of . Not good.
  • be sure you know who your speaking w. - person call me Ken for 15 mins before I corrected
  • Had a person follow me after the conversation was clearly over.

Q5: Have you or someone you know successfully networked your way to a job?
  • That is how I got my current job!
  • My husband got a job offer outside his field through networking.
  • Client called former co-worker to do "Whassup." Colleague had just changed jobs. Client now has his job. 
  • Networked through a current job to stir up offers in related fields (through vendor contacts, publishers, 3rd parties)
  • Started with a cold email based on shared background. 2 months later ended up with an out of the blue job offer
  • Definitly, and the common theme was that the person made an effort to keep a relationship with the other
  • I have networked into a new job - several times. Key is to add value, share solutions and stay in contact appropriately! 
  • I worked a job fair at my college for my last position. Spoke with Dir. Career Services, who introduced me to current co-worker.
  • Soulsearched w/client, she told network what she wanted and she landed her dream job by referral
  • Cultivated friendship @ weekly job seekers mtg. Then invited 2 another netwkg grp who gave me lead to my current job
  • I have actually gotten many positions through my alumni listserve! (That's networking indirectly, though, no?)
 Do you have any other advice to add to the questions?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Should you use a recruiter?

I just participated in my first ever tweetchat.  It was interesting to be sure.  Even though I tweet, I got a bit confused.  All of a sudden loads of tweets would show up and it just keeps going faster and faster.  The site is The hashtag was #careerchat.  It happens Tuesday's at 12PM Central time. I found out about this twitter phenomenon from CampustoCareer blog article

The topic of the tweetchat was Working with Recruiters. I will share the highlights: (the answers are taken directly from the twitter feed and the words are in twitspeak in some cases.) If you need to learn more about using Twitter for your job search check out two of our previous blogposts Twitter and the Job Search and a short video on using twitter.

Q1: How do you feel about working with recruiters to get a job?
  • Recruiters *can* help present you in the best light possible. In your initial convo with one be sure to SELL yourself
  • Definitely believe they are helpful. IT's good not to rely on them %100. Always conduct your own search as well.
  • They can be a resource if you are looking for a job in a different city/state. The more people you know, the better.
  • A recruiter is going to know what things the employer are looking for specifically. It's their job to get it right!
  • When working with a recruiter be sure to know their niche/focus because most specialize!
  • If they (a recruiter) believe in you they will fight for you
  • Try to choose a recruiter who is wired into the industry/ targets you are looking for! Don't be afraid to ask!
  • The recruiter is a direct pipeline to the Hiring Manager
  • Recruiter is a source of information for the seeker - not just the hiring manager. Ask questions & advice of your recruiter!
Q2: Should you try to go around the recruiter and straight to the hiring manager?
  • Bridge burning!
  • ethically u shouldn't especially if you got it through them. But the Q is, why are hiring managers still seeking recruiters //Good ones vet candidates, save time & $.
  • clients direct candidates who approach them directly back to me.(the recruiter)
  • If you can, good to have one or two contacts who know hiring mgr place recommendation calls. No more.
  • If the recruiter finds a potential position for you at a company, it may be best not to undermine them
  • It may backfire on you, especially if the hiring manager knows you got their info through a recruiter.
  • Recruiters often specialize in a certain field. Find them on linked in and build a relationship.
  • Absolutely not. Going against the recruit if that is SOP is a tale-tell sign that you can't follow instructions
  • going around the recruiter is similar to going around a real estate agent after they show a house to you.

Q3: How do you answer the salary range question?
  • a) ask others in the industry b) get data on salary trends c) calculate ur worth > a career has to be a win-win situation
  • I say provide a range but let them know you are willing to work with them.
  • For salary range, look online for the industry standard in your field and judge from there.
  • Answering the "salary expectations" question: 
  • Great salary resource is Ranges for specific companies, cities, & jobs.
  • Research salaries for pros in that position/industry and always give a range.
  • best to let the employer give number first. But if u can't, just be honest
  • Answer salary range question broadly, after doing ur homework on company/position/industry.
  • give past salary history then range of acceptable $ ~ sometimes worth taking less $ if better benefits/flexibility/growth
  • a few IT recruiters that it's best to be direct on this. Not giving a number to them is "non-compliance"
  • Want the job? Offer not quite what you want? Negotiate a 6-mo salary review. Be sure it's in offer letter.
  • Article on salary Q if interested Also negotiating for more
  • Compute your hourly. Work weeks vary tremendously. What might sound like a pay cut could be an increase.
  • we recommend doing the LMI for your area and quoting a range so the interviewer knows you have done research
  • Be honest about salary range! Go too low and you'll be disappointed, go to high and you lose viable job options!
  • Research! Don't neglect industry message boards, library databases & past stats from DOL 4 your position/industry.
  • work out what you can afford to take and add 20% is my formula
  • do your research!!! You should already know the ranges for industry, position, and experience level.
  • we recommend doing the LMI for your area and quoting a range so the interviewer knows you have done research
  • Help them understand your value to the organization. More "you" talk than "I" talk.
  • Be mindful of when the salary question is asked. If early on, they are "weeding out" candidates. If later, they want you
  • have a very good salay and package comparator based on other jobs, title, area and experience
  • The conversation should show how you will add value not what you can get from the company.
  • If $ can't be worked out, ask for other perks (flex time, tuition reimbursement, travel expenses, etc.)

Q4: Are recruiters are being replaced by job boards and social networking sites?
  • recruiters are competing with direct sourcing. thats great for job seekers
  • smart recruiters are using SM to their advantage and seeking out talent, but SM is a killer for the "not-so-smart" ones!
  • Recruiters aren't being replaced by job boards, but are being used by some companies more strategically
  • Social networking sites and job boards give us jobseekers the chance to talk directly to hiring managers.
  • Probably not; people said the same thing when Monster came out. But recruiters help cos by meeting cands w/ their needs
  • use every avenue. Dont close any off because you think they are dying
  • no, recruiters aren't being replaced. there's a difference between sourcing candidates & closing them!
  • Recruiters who can't sell themselves as an asset by effectively using SM are getting replaced
  • Recruiters place the majority of job board advertising. that should tell you something
  • I think social media helps people connect with recruiters more easily. But companies still value recruiting.
  • Recruiter help hiring managers who do not use social networking sites (funny, some still don't) and help cut through the volume
  • Not exactly. Finding candidates is different, but recruiters still vital for interfacing with employers
  • definitely not ~ would say opposite. Recruiters help companies weed thru plethora of candidates 2 find quality matches
  • Candidates may not see the value of a recruiter bc of job boards, etc, but they need to be seen as an additional resource.
  • not totally, but many are using LI, Twitter & job boards to post that recruiters may have to recruit harder to compete.
  • Don't solely rely on one source for your job search. Use them all effectively. Best to get your name out there.
  • Recruiters help companies find employees who r not on networking sites or those who are who might b good fit for their co.
  • Remember that SM is still "cutting edge"...and for some of us HR pros, big box sites (eg: monster) are still cutting edge!
  • Interesting stats: 1M co profiles on LinkedIn, 14M on ReferenceUSA. Lots of hiring mgrs not on LI.
  • Recruiting talent is more than just phone screening candidates. Recruiters won't be replaced by SM.
  • View recruiters almost like a networking opportunity. They are there to learn about your interests and get you connected.
  • Find target companies on RefUSA: THEN find internal/external recruiters & hiring mgrs.
  • In-house recruiters can be powerful allies. They know youll bring value to the company & want you there.
  • Recruiters can be very valuable especially if u find one who will truly listen to what your passions are.
  • Smart recruiters look for excellent placements that do more than fill a quota. Fantastic hire = Fantastic PR
  • Need to establish expectations with your recruiter, and they need to give feedback and closure
  • A recruiter in your corner can give you invaluable feedback re: how you interview, insider tips for an interview, etc.
  • One of the most valuable tools you can have in your #jobhunt is a recruiter who sees your value & strives to get you hired.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Checking references - on and off line

Nowadays, the references you offer up with your resume and your previous employers are not the only place potential employers check you out.  Because the use of social media is so prevalent, it only makes sense that hiring managers and business owners will use social media as well.   What will they find out about you?

This article from 2009 is still of value to you in a job seeker position today.

Here are the nuts and bolts of what kept people from being hired:
  • 45% of employers check social networks before hiring
  • 11 % plan to use social networking sites for screening in the near future
  • 35% of companies had rejected a candidate based on information from a social-network profile
  • 14% rejected a candidate for using an emoticon
Why DID companies hire people because of social media profiles:

  • 50% chose a candidate because their profile communicated a “good fit” and personality
  • 39% based on professional qualifications
  • 39% based on the creativity of the candidate
Remember that LinkedIn recommendations are almost better than references, especially if it is from someone who offered an unsolicited recommendation.
Put your name into the search engines periodically to see if you:
  1. Show up - this is all about your branding;
  2. Leave a positive impression;
  3. Are the only one with your name out there.  If not, be prepared to let an interviewer know that there are  other John Smith's that are not you should they check you out on-line.
What expereinces have you had with a potential employer checking you out?  Employers, what have you found?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Knowing How to Learn

At a recent Manufacture America conference, a variety of panels addressed topics that included growth opportunities, sources of capital, product development and innovation, internet marketing, connecting to tax incentives, and connecting to new skills workforce retraining.

The overall theme seemed to be human capital. Fewer people are required to do the jobs of several individuals as the economy has created a leaner employee base for many companies. Within the discussion about supply chain the panelists mentioned that talent acquisition and retention of a skilled workforce is necessary to maintaining a tight supply chain. One of the impediments to many manufacturers is innovation and the response of their employees to the newest technologies. To overcome that "bump in the road" we need a workforce trained in science and technology as well as young workers who are adept in soft skills - showing up to work on time and staying all day, showing a work ethic, and providing strategic thinking and thought leadership.

There will be a shortage of engineers, both mechanical and electrical in the United States. One way to overcome that is to promote technical schools and actively recruit for math and science in elementary and secondary schools.

The overall theme in the session on workforce retraining was as long as people "know how to learn" that manufacturers will be able to advance into the new technologies. For every 10 workers that were in the workforce, they are only being replaced with 3-7 workers. The people that are hired today are being required to have more and more skills to fill a "multi-function" position. The term "purple squirrel" comes into play with this. Employers are looking for those elusive purple squirrels - a singular multi-talented individual to fill one job that requires 15 skills.

The mention of soft skills came up in that same session. What employers want is someone who has the ability to spell, perform math functions, read and comprehend in English, be able to have a personal interface, possesses management and/or supervisory skills, be thought leaders, and be able to learn or know actual job skills.

Again, by exposing young people to what the manufacturing world has become, we may be able to compete globally with our workforce in the advancing technological economic climate.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Your Personal Elevator Pitch

Can you highlight your resume in an elevator ride?

Marketers and public relations specialists know that in many situations you have just the time it takes for an elevator ride to grab the attention of a reporter. Hence, the phrase “elevator pitch”, came to explain the amount of time you have to explain your business or pitch your story. Can this correlate to your personal elevator pitch when it comes to sharing the key aspects of your career with someone?

A career coaching company in New York suggests a two-minute pitch. That isn’t how long it should take to “get to” your point, but it should take no longer than two minutes to share the best points of your career with a tiny bit of embellishment. Richard Skaare, a communications specialist, suggests that your resume should be able to be boiled down to the 140 – 160 characters you would use in a text message. Now, those two concepts work in concert with each other. To verbalize and expound on the 160 characters could take about 2 minutes.

Unless you are in that dream situation - sitting on the Metra next to someone who just happens to need someone with your exact skill set - the concept of using a 160 character resume is reserved for Twitter or a text message. The principle behind both thoughts mentioned above is you need to know exactly who you are, what skills you own, and how you have used them. Better still you need to be able to communicate those same things in a short, cohesive, cognizant statement if time is limited.

A couple of situations where your elevator pitch will work perfectly are networking events or job fairs. Yes, you may hand someone your “real” professionally prepared resume, but, what will you say to that job fair representative that will make him/her put your resume in the “second look” pile. What will you say to those you meet at a networking event that will pique their interest and entice them to spend more time with you, finding out more about you in greater detail?

Creating your Personal Elevator Pitch

You want to include a few key statements about yourself:

  1. Your position – I am an architect – This is your key statement
  2. General Experience – in commercial development for 10 years – this gives listeners an idea of what level of expertise you have.
  3. Your sub-pitch – I’ve supervised over xx projects ranging from 10,000 square feet to 130,000 square feet in 20 major metropolitan areas
  4. Add interest - including Singapore, New York, Chicago, and Little Rock.
  5. Apply it to your listener – My concepts attract new business from companies like …. – if you are using your pitch in a cover letter or interview, direct this last portion of your pitch to create a comparison to the business situation, perhaps their direct competition if possible.

Let’s go back to the 160 characters. Forced brevity sharpens the mind. Work with a trusted friend or counselor to keep your pitch brief. Just as in creating new marketing ideas, you may need to brainstorm ways to keep the word count down.

Using your Personal Elevator Pitch

You have created your personal pitch, but if you don’t memorize it, practice it and know how to modify it depending upon your audience, you could end up stammering and jabbering just as if you didn’t take all the time to create your pitch in the first place.

Tell me about yourself is a typical question you will be asked on any interview. When asked, you want your personal elevator pitch to just flow. To do that you need to write out your pitch, memorize it, practice it in front of a mirror, a family member, your employment and training rep, your dog, or the car in front of you in line at the drive-through. You want the words to just flow.

You want your message to be crystal clear. Refer to it enough throughout the interview, that if the interviewer is asked to tell their boss about you when your interview is done, you know how they will position you after you leave.

Remember that when you are speaking, use a personal level. Standards today are based on the medium of TV, using a conversational style that is friendly and one-on-one. Speak as if you are speaking to an acquaintance and tell the interviewer something in your pitch that they won’t read by going through your resume.

If you need assistance with your resume, your elevator pitch, or anything else with your job search, KCDEE has Career Resource Professionals in the Illinois workNet Centers to assist you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How DO you answer?

A recent post on Veteran Careers at was entitled "Handle the Stress Interview".  There are many tacts that interviewers take to determine whether a candidate will be able to handle the new position.  Reading that article lead to this thought - How DO you answer the tougher interview questions like - Why were you fired? OR Have you ever been convicted of a felony? What is this gap in your employment?

If that firing lead to the gap in your employment because of an intimate relationship with the penal system, you need to know how to handle an interview effectively.  KCDEE offers a workshop to help with that. 

Not everyone is as fortunate as Martha Stewart, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, former politicians, or Robert Downey Jr. to have enough money or talent to pick right back up in a position that they held prior to being incarcerated. Most individuals who have an offense on their record will have to start over in the job market, let alone at the bottom rung of a career ladder. Often there are certain jobs that ex-offenders may no longer hold depending upon the offense they committed. Once you have established the types of jobs you will be seeking, you may want to review and attend some of the other career skills workshops offered by KCDEE.

When you are ready to begin filling out job applications and, hopefully, going on job interviews, here are a few tips to help you overcome the obstacles related to your previous offense.

  1. Always tell the truth on your application. The truth, however, can be stated in the best possible way. For example, a question on the application asks “Have you been convicted of a felony in the past 5 years?” Your conviction was 7 years ago, you can truthfully answer NO. If it was, then you need to answer YES, but provide an explanation that includes your regret and what positive things you have done with that time.
  2. Don’t leave unexplained gaps in your resume. Employers look at consistency in employment to find a potential employee who will help them meet their goals. Any gap raises a red flag and can often cause your resume or application to be put in the “reject” pile. Learning how to properly word a period of incarceration can make all of the difference between being seen for an interview or being bypassed.
  3. Use a Functional resume approach. When you use this type of resume, you are able to highlight your skills rather than the chronology of your employment.
  4. Offer a letter of Explanation. If you are fortunate to have an interview scheduled, you will need to explain your offense in person. If you don’t have an interview but are asked for more details about your offense, you should have a letter of explanation available that may be provided to a potential employer. The letter should include information about benefits the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service offer to employers who hire ex-offenders.
  5. At the interview. Offer, at the appropriate time, a three minute incarceration speech. The speech should key on three points – the mistake you made, why you exhibited poor judgment, and assure them of the changes you have made.
One of our biggest success stories is about a gentleman who was convicted of trafficking marijuana. After he served his 6 ½ year sentence, he returned to society with a high school diploma and no marketable skills. KCDEE provided the mechanism and funding for tuition that allowed him to start over. He has since completed an expedited computer related training, a Bachelor’s degree, and a Master’s degree. Throughout his education, he was progressively moving forward up the career ladder. Today he has experience and most importantly a future.

If you would like to register for our workshop please email (for Elgin, IL) (for North Aurora, IL) .

Monday, October 4, 2010

Top 25 Jobs with an Associates Degree

I recently read an article that listed the top 25 jobs that you can have with an associates degree.  The following jobs were listed with the national median wage average for 2009.  I thought I would expand on that list for this blog and share some additional information.

Illinois workNet has a component that explains about the 5 Key Sectors in which employment will be in a high-demand high-growth situation.  They include Agriculture (AG), Healthcare, Information Technology (IT), Manufacturing (Man), and Transportation, Distribution and Logistics (TDL).  Green jobs are included on the list but are found in all of the key sectors. Find out more here.

Additionally, there is a great deal of information on jobs and career paths on O*NET.  You can find Standard Occupation Codes (SOC) to describe or associate with any job or career path.   All of this information is especially helpful if you are trying to determine what career path you want to follow if you are in the midst of a career change.

Also listed is the wage - hourly and annually for our more localized area.  LWIA stands for Local Workforce Investment Area which, for our definition is bounded by Kane, DeKalb and Kendall counties in Illinois.  EDR is for the Economic Development Region that is the Northeast quadrant of Illinois.  Some of the occupations could not be found within a reasonable geographic area so I included the State wages.  I can't imagine commercial divers in the middle of an agricultural zone.

And if you notice as  you look over the numbers, there are only a couple of the jobs that are rapidly growing on this list that are not high paying or included in one of our other Key Sectors. But sometimes you just need to go with your passion.  If you love your job, is it really considered work?

Illinois Key Sector
SOC Code
Median Wage Illinois or Local 2009

Median Wages National 2009
Computer Specialists, All Other
Radiation Therapists
Nuclear Medicine Technologists
Dental Hygienists
Nuclear Technicians
Commercial Pilots
Fashion Designers

Registered Nurses
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Powerhouse, Substation, and Relay

Engineering Technicians, Except Drafters, All Other
Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians
Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers, Except Line Installers
Insurance Appraisers, Auto Damage

Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technicians
Funeral Directors

Respiratory Therapists
Geological and Petroleum Technicians
Radiologic Technologists and Technicians
Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians
Commercial Divers
Electrical and Electronics Drafters

Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Commercial and Industrial Equipment
Avionics Technicians
Occupational Therapist Technicians

Let me know what you think.