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’7 Secrets of a Successful Job Search’ Class Tomorrow

We will be having our next class tomorrow at Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto. Please join us to learn the 7 Secrets of a Successful Job Search. We hope to see you there tomorrow!

Top 4 Ways to Network Like a Pro

The most successful people in the world are constantly networking. Having a good network is essential for your professional and personal success. As you already know most jobs are not listed on the Internet but through word of mouth referrals. That is why networking is the best way to find a job. As a hiring manager, I prefer interviewing candidates that came from referrals rather than through the other sources that we utilized. Networking with others can lead you to uncover jobs and opportunities that you did not even know existed. Knowing the right people will help open doors and make introductions for you that you would not be able to do otherwise. Your network of friends, family members, colleagues, and acquaintances is one of the most valuable job search resources you have. What I discovered is that most people don’t understand the importance of networking and how to use it effectively. Today, I want to talk about a few things that you can do to build and maintain a strong network.

1. Best time to network is when you already have a job.

It is important to always network whether you have a job or not. Most people think about networking when they are out of work. I think this is too late. You should always network with people. Nowadays with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. it is so easy and effortless. It just requires a few hours a month but can be extremely rewarding. For example, if your colleague tells you about a great recruiter he is using, it doesn’t hurt to give this recruiter a call to make a quick introduction. You just never know if this encounter will lead to a potential job opportunity in the future. Each time you make a connection with someone, you are also indirectly tapping into their network as well.

2. Keep those relationships from getting cold.

Maintaining your network is just as important as building it. Your network is useless if you don’t cultivate it. I frequently go out to lunches, make calls or send friendly emails to my colleagues giving them a status of my work situation. Depending on how close I am to them, this can occur once a month or every other month. Make a point to remember their birthdays so that you can send them an email or give them a call. You don’t have to have a reason to connect with them. All you are doing is keeping in touch with them with no other agenda or motive. I jot down notes from our conversations so that I can use it the next time we speak. For example, if I know their spouse is going to have a baby soon, I will ask questions about that next time we talk. When you have a good relationship with someone they are more likely to help you when you need something. By continually keeping in contact with the people you know, you will establish a strong network.

3. Offer to help others.

Networking is a two-way street. When you meet with your friend/colleague, find out what is happening with them. Always look for ways to help them advance their career or personal goals. The most successful networkers are constantly looking for ways to help the people in their network. It feels good when you can be of service to other people. They will appreciate it and will look for ways to help you in return.

4. Become a member of professional associations.

There are so many organizations and user group meetings that you can join to further your career. The great thing about going to these meetings is that you get a chance to meet people that you would normally never encounter. It gives you an amazing opportunity to expand your network. When you attend these meetings, be an active contributor. You should offer to speak at these meetings or help in anyway. Participate in the meetings so that people know who you are.

4 Ways to Impress Your New Company

I work for a large organization that hires a lot of people throughout the year. I always make it a point to introduce myself to our new hires on their first day. There are several hiring managers besides me so sometimes it will be the first time I am meeting this person. I pay close attention to these first encounters because it allows me to form an impression of the new hire. For better or worse, this first encounter does make a lasting impact on how I view this individual for the rest of the time they are with the company. First impressions are crucial and will go a long way in ensuring your success with your new job. Below are some of the things you must do if you want to be view positively by people you will be working with.

1. Be on time.

I know this is a simple one and most people will heed this advise. If you are late on your first day, it sends up a red flag because I think you will be habitually late for not only work but meetings. You can’t afford to be late if you’re going to make a good impression on your first day. Punctuality is classy. Being late for meetings is disrespecting your colleagues because you are telling them that you don’t value their time. Unless you have a legitimate reason, there is no excuse to be late on your first day at the job.

2. Dress nice.

How you look on your first day DOES matter. You should never underestimate the importance of dressing professionally on your first day. This is not the day to put on your faded jeans and ripped t-shirt even if you are working at a Silicon Valley start-up. At the same time you don’t want to overdress for the job. For example, if no one at the company wears a suit and you come walking in with a suit, it will be awkward. Wear something that will make you feel professional and confident. During the interview, observe how other people dress. This will give you clues on what the dress code is at the company. If your unique style of dress is beyond the norm of the company culture, I suggest you leave that outfit at home until people get to know you better. In most cases the workplace is not the setting to express your individuality so quickly. Let them initially form an impression of your work rather than your taste in fashion. It is always prudent to play it safe than to be labeled as an outcast on your first day.

3. Be on your best behavior.

Office etiquette is very important. You need to be polite and courteous the entire time in order to make a good first impression. When you are introduced to someone for the first time, smile and give a firm handshake. I can’t tell you how many times I have shaken a new person’s hand that is less than firm and confident. Do make an effort to remember each person’s name. My trick it to jot down on a notebook the person’s name after I am introduced to them. When you remember someone’s name that you have met for the first time, it is viewed favorably. No one expects you to know everyone’s names by the end of the day, but do try. It is the details in life that counts. Smile and relax. Be positive and show them how excited you are to be part of this organization.

4. Ask questions.

Do more listening than talking. Good communications does not necessarily mean speaking all the time. Ask as many questions as you can and take good notes. When you ask good questions, it shows you are paying attention and interested in the job. On your first few days at work you will be bombarded by lots of new information. When I am explaining something and I don’t see the new person taking notes, it sends a red flag that I will have to explain it again sometime in the future. I might even tell them that it is important information and they should take notes.

6 Things You Should Never Say in a Job Interview

1. NEVER EVER badmouth your current or former bosses, colleagues and companies.

This is just unprofessional and not necessary. When I ask you why you are looking for a new job, I assume you are not happy with the current job. You do not need to go into the details why your boss is evil and everyone at the company is incompetent. When you say bad things about your current/previous company, I wonder what you will say about us when you eventually go look for another job. Talking smack about your current/previous company comes off as being immature, negative and can label you as a person who is difficult to work with. I want to hire someone who is positive and enthusiastic.

2. Don’t bring up the subject of salary or benefits.

There will be a time for that especially when we know we want to hire you. Bringing up this subject too early can derail the interview because I think you want this job for the money and not because it is a great job. As a rule, wages and salaries are not discussed during the first interview.You got to demonstrate to me first that you are a worthy candidate and you need to prove to me that you got what it takes to make it in this company.

3. Don’t ask me what my company does.

YOU should already know that if you have done your research. If a candidate asks me this question, the interview is over and he/she will be asked to leave. This tells me the candidate did not do proper research and have done zero due diligence. They just want me to give them a job instead of figuring out how they can help the company.

4. Don’t tell me how great this job will be for you.

Tell me how you can help us. Interviewers hate job candidates who are arrogant and selfish. When you talk about how you can contribute to the company’s success, I am very interested. When you tell me how this job will be great for your career, how short your commute will be, the fact that you will be making more money than your old job and so on, I begin to think you are a selfish person and a career climber.

5. Don’t talk politics, religion or anything of a sensitive nature.

We are here to know about you and how you can help the company. We don’t care about your personal politics or philosophies. If you bring these subjects up I just assume you have nothing better to say. This will certainly diminish your credibility and makes me pause when seriously considering you as a front-runner for the job. Anytime you get off-topic you are about to walk into dangerous waters. At best, I will just ignore the comment. At worst, I will end the interview and you will never hear from us again.

6. Don’t use profanities and slang words.

You might think you are cool by using these words but not on the first interview. Unless you are interviewing at a tattoo parlor, this language is unprofessional and you are treating this interview too casually. It is a formal conversation and requires the use of good English grammar. I want to know that you can use proper grammar and that you can speak well as communications is a very important ability that we want in our workers. If you want to be taken seriously, do not disrespect the interviewer by treating it as a social conversation you would have with friends over a beer. You want to come off as intelligent, articulate and well-mannered.

 

Average Tech Worker Making $100K in Silicon Valley

Dice, an online jobs board, recently completed an annual salary survey that showed the average tech worker in Silicon Valley is making $104,195 a year. This is the first time it went above $100K since the survey began. That is a 5% increase from 2010. In addition to the increase in salary, 38% of tech workers are getting an average bonus of $12,450.

What this is telling me is that the demand for job seekers with technical skills in Silicon Valley is increasing rapidly. Due to the shortage of skilled labor, salaries are being increased to attract talented people.

There has never been a better time to work in the information technology field. Tech companies in Silicon Valley are doing very well at the moment. I recently read an article that Facebook cannot find enough good people for its job openings. I think this lack of skilled workers will persist for a long time.

10 Things A Recruiter Won’t Tell You

I have worked with recruiters at Information Technology placement firms for the last 20 years. I have worked with great and terrible recruiters. In my opinion, the best recruiters are those who have been in the business for five plus years. They have the battle scars to prove how tough this business can be. It makes my job as a computer consultant much easier compare to these folks. If you have never worked with a recruiter or headhunter before, you should be aware of what to expect from these people. I have seen too many inexperienced job seekers who do not understand the recruiting business. Below is an excerpt from a great article from SmartMoney that sums up precisely what you can expect when dealing with recruiters:

1. There are better ways to find a job.
2. We don’t work for you.
3. Until a year ago, I was a car salesman.
4. The job we advertised may not exist.
5. We already know quite a bit about you.
6. Our jobs aren’t so hot either.
7. You’re at the mercy of a computer, just like online job board users.
8. The temp-to-perm carrot is rotten.
9. If you have a job, I could get you fired.
10. If I’m in Virginia, I probably won’t help you find a job in Nebraska.

4 Things You Should Do to Land Your Next Job

In my 20 years of working in corporate America, I have never been unemployed for more than 2 weeks at a stretch. I have always been able to land my next job very quickly when I am between jobs. Today I want to share with you some of the best ways to get a job fast that I have learned over the years.

1. Be flexible

When you are out of work, you need to be flexible in terms of the jobs you are applying for. Sometimes, this means you need to  take a pay cut, work in a different city, or take a job that you are not so excited about. Remember, if this new job does not work out you can always look for another one. At least you are bringing in some income and you are successfully employed. Most recruiters and hiring managers look favorably at those job candidates who are looking for a new job while still working at their current company. They are considered more marketable than a person who is unemployed.

2. Be creative

Be creative in how you approach your job search. For example, if you have never used LinkedIn before, start exploring how this online tool can help you land your next job. You need to approach your job search from many different angles. The job market is a dynamic place and it requires you to be resourceful and creative. How you approached your job search 5 years ago might no longer be effective in today’s job market. I still remember when looking for a job means going through the Sunday classifies. Nowadays, very few people actually do that. Your next job will sometimes come from the most unlikely places. So you need to be open-minded and be open to all possibilities and options.

3. Network

I got my last 3 jobs through networking. What this requires is to develop a friendly relationship with a few key people that can help you when you need a job. I have cultivated these relationships through the years by periodically calling or emailing them to tell them what is happening with me. The key thing about networking is that you need to stay in touch with your network at least a few times a year. You should also see how you can help them too. Networking is a two-way street. People like to help those who they like.

4. Stay focused

It is so easy to start drifting into this lazy and unmotivated state of mind when you are out of work. Some people have the luxury of not having to look for their next job right away because they have lots of money saved up or a spouse who is working. In my case, I did not have either. So the minute I know my current job is about to end, I make it a top priority to land my next job as quickly as I can. If I am out of work, I make looking for a job my full-time job. I put 100% of my energy, effort and most of my waking hours in pursuing my next job. This is the true secret of finding your next job quickly.

Best Jobs in 2012

CareerCast.com recently listed the best jobs in 2012. The number one spot goes to software engineer. This is not surprising since the need for people with computer skills will only increase in the future. Software engineers are also some of the highest paying people in America with an average salary of $88,142. There are more jobs than qualified people to fill them. As someone who regularly hires people for tech jobs, I can tell you that it is very hard to fill these positions because we can’t find enough good people. We sometimes have to settle for whatever is out there. If you are contemplating a career change, I would highly recommend researching the information technology field.

How to Quit Your Job in a Professional Manner

At my current company we have a very big team. Almost every month someone is quitting to pursue another opportunity or for personal reasons. Sometimes we are forced to let someone go because of their performance. The way you quit a job should always be handled in a professional manner even if you think you will never see these people again. Your first impression and your last impression are how your colleagues and bosses will remember you. No matter what your reason is for quitting your job you need to do so in a polite and professional manner without burning bridges.

1. Give appropriate notice

Depending on your company’s policy the standard is usually two weeks. Two weeks is the bare minimum you should give your employer. As a courtesy to your employer, you should give up to four weeks. This demonstrates that you care about making sure that the transition is smooth. I can tell you that bosses really appreciate this. I understand if you cannot give more than two weeks because the other job wants you to start right away. Again, depending on company policy, you might need to write a resignation letter to hand to your boss.

2. Do not slack off

It is really tempting to just goof off once you give notice. I say you should do the opposite. You should work as hard as you did when you first joined the company. Show your boss and colleagues you have integrity by working hard until the day you leave. This will ensure you leave with a very good reputation as a team player and a conscientious worker. They will be sad to see you go.

3. Be courteous and professional

Your attitude towards your colleagues, subordinates and bosses are very important during the last few weeks at the job. Avoid bragging about your new job. This will only make your colleagues unhappy and resent you. The reality of the business world is that you must leave on good terms no matter what you think of your bosses and colleagues. Know that you have a very short period of time in which to remain here. In today’s world, you need to keep all of your relationships healthy. When you are leaving one job for another, it is especially important that you demonstrate respect for you staff, your co-workers, and your boss in particular.

4. Ensure the transition goes smoothly

Do everything you can to help out the next person who will be taking over your responsibilities. This might require you to put in extra time or devote more effort to help train someone to take over your job. Do your best to complete your projects, tasks and assignments before you leave. Before quitting, prepare an email or document detailing the status of all your unfinished projects and include instructions for completion. Prepare useful notes for your replacement. Be available to answer questions that may arise after you leave.

5. Tie up loose ends

Every time I leave a job, I make sure to tie up any loose ends such as deleting personal stuff from my work computer. Return any company property you have – including keys, documents, computers, phones, and anything else that doesn’t belong to you. Take the time to thank employees who have worked with you. Send personal notes to those who have helped you along the way or have been important to you while there. Don’t forget to say goodbye to your colleagues and let them know how they can reach you in the future.

6. Stay in touch

Unless you never want to see these people again, it is a good idea to stay in touch with your former bosses and colleagues. They might be able to help you in the future if you need to look for another job. If things don’t work out at your new job, you might be able to go back to your old one. Staying in touch is one of the keys of building a strong network.

6 Ways to Make a Good Impression During Job Interviews

I always say getting an interview is half the battle. When I ask someone to come in for an interview, I am telling that person that they have a great shot of landing the job offer. I just need to confirm it by meeting them in person and asking them a few questions to validate my initial assessment.

The interview will be the determining factor on whether I want to hire the job seeker or not. So it is crucial that you learn how to stack the odds in your favor. Below are some of the things that I pay attention to when meeting the interviewee for the first time.

1. Be prepared

Never go into an interview without preparing for it. Don’t try to ‘wing’ the interview. It will not work. I will know right away if you don’t come prepared by asking you a few simple questions. You need to read my article on how to prepare for an interview.

2. Be on time

Don’t be late for the interview. If you are late, you will make a very bad impression in the minds of most interviewers. Hiring managers are usually very busy. We have back-to-back meetings and if you are late, your interview will be cut short or cancelled. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Also, don’t show up too early.

3. Dress appropriately

Always err on the formal and conservative side when dressing for the interview even if it is a casual work environment. The way you dress DOES make a lasting impression on the mind of the interviewer. This has been proven in countless studies. I am not saying you need to put on a suit but do come looking professional.

4. Be enthusiastic

During the interview, you need to be enthusiastic and positive. That means you need to smile and give a firm handshake when we meet for the first time. I know this seems like an obvious tip but I have seen so many gloomy interviewees. This is your moment to shine and to tell me why I should hire you. I need to get a positive vibe that you will be a good fit in our company and that you will be eager to hit the ground running. If you don’t show that you want the job, I will give it to someone else that it more enthusiastic about it.

5. Ask good questions

When you ask good questions, it shows that you have been paying attention during the interview and that you came prepared. It will also show that you are a thoughtful person. A big mistake is not asking any questions at all. If you don’t ask any questions during the interview, you are telling me that you are not interested in this job. Asking good questions will leave a positive impression in the mind of the interviewer.

6. Be yourself and relax

I know this can be very hard to do at the interview but you will score big points if you can pull it off. When you are relaxed and comfortable during the interview, it will be smooth for you and me. The interview will be more conversational instead of being an interrogation. When you are relaxed, you will be able to think clearly, listen better and be a better speaker. You want to convey confidence and interest during the interview.

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