Posts filed under ‘Networking’

Are we there yet? Are we there? How about now?

What parent hasn’t heard this chant before?  Don’t you remember as a kid going on a road trip…. impatience consuming your every moment.

I’ve found myself  asking the same question about our economy.   And I know I’m not alone.

Are we there yet?   Are we finally on the up swing?  Has the bottom come and gone?

The good news;  YES companies ARE beginning to hire again. 

YES they ARE creating NEW jobs…. and while all this is encouraging news, the unemployment rate is still very high – however you chose to spin the numbers.

The high unemployment rate means the competition for each open job is tighter than it has been in the past.  Companies have a great selection of candidates which they can match their hiring requirements.

So who are the companies that ARE hiring?  And who’s getting the jobs?  

Obviously not all industries are coming back the same as they were.  There has been a lot of verticals hit hard.  This makes a larger segment of the population who are now having face something they haven’t had to do in the past. 

“CAREER CHANGE”

For those facing the hard truth about what to do for future prosperity, it’s difficult.  And accepting that a career change is the answer may be the hardest part.  If you’ve been working in a field for 10+ years the thought of making a change is gut wrenching and can be scary. 

It’s difficult to figure out what to transition into next.    And once you identify what you want to, figuring out HOW to make the transition can be frustrating, but NOT impossible. 

Whatever you do, don’t panic.  Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

1. Join a local networking group.  Start by gathering information about what people do and their skill sets.   Find out where people work and see if any of those industries seem interesting to you.  You may notice a few people with the same skill sets that you have but doing something different.  You might even find it’s  easier than you think after you learn more about what other’s do in their daily career. 

TIP: If you don’t have a local one to join, form one with the folks that were laid off with you.  It’s a good way to pass job leads to one another and give moral support.

2. Another good way to prepare yourself for a switch is by finding a good career coach or counselor.  Make sure you find someone good and experienced with “career transition”.  Interview them first so that you find the “right” fit for YOU.  It’s a good way to take control of YOUR own career situation as well.   It might seem like a big investment in the short-term, it’s a solid one for long-term. 

TIP: If you’ve been laid off by an employer, see if   offer any outplacement services for people like you.  Sometimes your former employer will cover a certain amount of career coaching services within a certain period after your lay off date.  But don’t delay because there is typically a time frame that you are bound by.

3. Another great way to transition into a  new career is by working with a staffing agency (or two or three!).  Often times staffing agencies will take a look at your overall skill set to better match you for their assignments.  Be flexible so that you can gain a level of experience and build up your resume.   I recommend you also take advantage of any computer based training staffing agencies offer typically at no charge.  It might mean you spend a few hours in their office but it could be a huge leap in your skill set AND building a relationship with the office recruiters.

TIP: Be NICE!  The easier you are to work with the better your chances of them calling you for their assignments.  It pays to build good rapport with the branch recruiters and it could take you a long way if they like you.

4. If you are a more introverted career change candidate there are TONS self-help books and blogs on the subject.  Check out the reviews before you buy books and ask others for their own personal recommendations.  There are A LOT of people who have gone through career changes in their lifetime, so remember that you are not alone.

I know a lot of people landing jobs right now.  Some of them are back doing what they’ve done for years. But a huge segment of people are choosing to do new career things not by choice…. and you know what?   It’s working for them; it’s been a good thing. 

So are you there yet?   How about now?

May 16, 2010 at 11:58 pm 1 comment

What would Batman do?

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What would Batman do?

Gotham City just had a major layoff.  Batman is now unemployed and actively looking for his next gig.  Superman and Spiderman got their pink slip a week earlier.

 

Because Batman is an “out of the box” thinker he knows that he needs to try something different in order to find employment during these extraordinary times.

 

Personal (Professional) Branding:  This is something that a great many of us miss when we are job hunting.  It’s really a simple concept, but it can be a difficult thing to enact and master effectively.   Ask yourself this question:

 

“How do I want someone who has no clue who I am to see me as?”

 

In Batman’s case, he decides that he will formulate 4 different versions of his resume using all of his trademarks skills and experience, but tailoring it to specifically branding himself as:

 

  1. Crime Fighter
  2. Gadget & Weapon Inventor / Tester
  3. Billionaire Philanthropist
  4. Manager

Networking:  This is the time to use your contacts.  And if you can, don’t wait until you NEED a job to build your network, start it NOW.   The best way to get your foot in the door is by networking.   If you are uncomfortable about attending face to face events, drag along your social butterfly friend.  This may help you ease your way into feeling comfortable around folks you don’t know yet.  Master this skill and it will help you for decades.

 

Target Company List:  Job board leads stale?  Create  a Target Company List.  You can use LinkedIn’s new sophisticated “companies” tab.  This will not only pull up all the cool companies you’ve listed, but you can see by what corporate path people migrated to and from.  There may be a company or two that you hadn’t yet thought of that is listed within the company profile.  It will also identify folks in your network that work there and how you know them.

 

Try joining some of the larger Meetup.com groups.  Not only will you see the company list of presenters,  but the groups members as well.  You’d be amazed at some of the cool companies you can cyber sleuth your way into.    A few of the more technology based companies even Live Video stream their Meetup’s so that you can watch them back without attending. 

 

Business Journal Book of Lists.  Great way to find out company information by region.  I landed a great job using these lists by targeting companies rather than openings.    But don’t just limit yourself to these lists, Fast Company, Inc 500… and other major business publications all seem to put out great lists throughout the year.  

 

Add New Superpower to your resume:   Don’t discount all the stuff your doing and learning to find your next role.  Highlight the good stuff on your current resume.  If you are finding leads via Social Media, networking, etc. add as appropriate to your resume.  Remember you are BRANDING yourself not as the job seeker but as the professional.  The wording you choose is VERY important here.  If you are in sales, you can put something like, “experience with lead generation using Social Media tools.”  You may even decide to volunteer at some of the professional networking groups and add that to your resume to make up for a gap in employment.

 

Hopefully channeling Batman will help you gain new ground in your own job hunt.  What other Super Hero would help?

maisy 010

October 6, 2009 at 6:56 pm 3 comments

Dog Park Job Leads

dog park

If you think you’ve exhausted all possible networking angles to find a job, think again.  There are always creative ways to find more and I’ll share with you my out of the box ideas….

If you’ve read any of my earlier posts, you know that I’m the “new kid in town”.  It’s rough not knowing anyone yet, but sitting at home moaning about it won’t find me my new BFF!  Getting out there can be difficult, especially if you are having feelings of insecurity about your job or income loss.   But sitting at home alone will get you nowhere fast.

Here’s what I’m doing:

Dog Park:   Go there during after or before work hours – AND bring a dog.  You can borrow mine if you’d like 😉  You will be amazed at how many people go there after work to run their dogs.  I’ve found most dog people are open to chatter.  Compliment other dogs and build rapport.  It can easily turn into finding out where the owner works and what they do there.  Before you know it, you may have just met your potential hiring manager or foot in the door to a target company!   But beware, first impressions are everything.  Don’t over do it with attire, it’s a dog park after all, but do look presentable.  It is also important to have good rapport building skills otherwise any approach you take will be in affective.

* * IMPORTANT to NOTE again:  Make sure you bring a dog or you may come across creepy * *

Racket Ball:  I’m still trying to find someone to teach me how to play this sport. If you are reading this and live in Folsom, let me know if you can help me out J   I see so many professionals work off their business frustrations with a good game of Racket Ball and I’d like to join in.  What a great place to network!!!!  If you are good with a sport, join in.  Again, you have to be strategic if your end goal is to meet professionals.  I find there are certain times of the day when more corporate based folks play. 

Weight Watchers:  Okay this is another place to tread lightly, but there are many companies that will help out their employees with a Weight Watchers membership.  Again, tread lightly when networking at these meetings.  They are designed for busy people to get healthier so going to just one evening meeting to network won’t work.  Going weekly may help you drop a few lbs AND meet other busy people who happen to be employed as well.    Build rapport but be respectful.  These aren’t places to network, but if you play your cards right there will be networking opportunities that come about.  When they start talking about over eating, simply raise your hand and talk about your job hunt.  Someone may even approach you after the meeting to say that they are hiring!!!

Craigslist:  This is a great way to sell things that you aren’t using, make a little extra money and meet people!   Before we moved from Santa Cruz and now that we are in Folsom, I have sold items to folks working at such companies as:  Plantronics, Seagate, Cisco, Apple, Stubhub and Intel just to drop a few corporate names of my shoppers.   It’s amazing how many professionals are choosing a greener way to buy via Craigslist.  All you need is good rapport building skills and you’re off to cleaning out your garage, making a few extra dollars and growing your professional network!

Coffee Shop:  Okay, you might be unemployed but look busy!  Maybe you bring your laptop to the local coffee shop and use their wifi to job hunt.  And remember to be nice to the barista’s, making good impressions are so important!  If you choose a coffee shop close to a target company, you never who you might meet that could help you get your feet in the door.  As always, good rapport building skills are absolutely imperative to success, otherwise you might come across as odd.

OPEN HOUSES:  This can be a fun one.  Go to open houses and network with Real Estate agents.  Most agents are pretty friendly and have a lot of contacts.  You might meet other fellow open house people that are in the market to buy and you know if they are in the market to buy, they have jobs!     Again, building an initial line of communication with the host is imperative.  Maybe you ask them about the market, what they are seeing in the way of buyers, etc. to start off.  You’ll know right away whether they are open for a lengthy discussion.  Since good realtors know the value of networking you might just meet people who you can “who do you know” in the future.

I take advantage of any and all social settings to network.  You never know who you might meet.  The most important thing is to get your rapport building skills in hand.  It’s easy to over do it, so be careful how you approach people.  If you are an introvert, bring a socially friendly person with you to help break the ice or give you training.  This is a new skill to master but in this market, it’s an important one to learn.

Want to meet me at the dog park?  I have a new BFF opening that I’m recruiting for…..

September 17, 2009 at 7:53 pm Leave a comment

Effectively Network in your Underwear

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It sounds like everyone’s worse nightmare…. You go to the office and suddenly realize you’re just wearing underpants, or worse nothing at all. I think we’ve all had that dream, am I right?

BUT, in reality it doesn’t really matter how you’re dressed to affectively present yourself in the BEST positive light. From the comfort of your home (wearing whatever), simply get involved and BRAND yourself as the expert that you WANT to be.
Here’s how I roll in my knickers:
LinkedIn:
With my recently updated profile I am branding myself as a professional recruiter, web 2.0 maven and blogger. By getting involved in the LinkedIn discussions groups that are geared toward my future career goals I am proactively building and adding to my professional network. I’m not done there with Q&A as my next stop on the cyber train. Taking it a step further will hopefully include endorsements to add to my credibility. You can keep up with my professional progress on LinkedIn by checking me out on my LinkedIn here: – and hey, let’s connect direct!

Facebook:
Reconnect with all those old friends from High School, old friends and even some foe. If you are like me, many of your friends are in the working world now and would love to catch-up. You’d be surprised where this site will take you so keep an open mind. Facebook is a growing in number of users and groups so there is always a wealth of opportunity to cyber network for those savvy enough.

Some of the Facebook groups are geared toward knowledge sharing while others post job openings , event info and other great knowledge. It’s a great place to find people outside of your LinkedIn network and have web 2.0 conversations.  Add me as your friend here and remember DON’T post those photos of you in your underwear.

Twitter:
There is nothing like a “little” chit chat here and there. I love having mini dialogues with professionals in my network. It’s quick, it’s easy and I can do it anywhere now with the Twitter mobile app. I am constantly amazed at the wealth of information shared on Twitter. If you haven’t been able to figure out how to make it effective, let’s connect here – give it a chance before discounting it as a generational thing. After all, Oprah & Martha Stewart are doing it…

Blog Comments & Discussions:
What’s a blog without comments? Really, it just becomes another publication. Blogging is all about conversations, commentary and creating discussions. Sign up for your favorite blogs and leave replies. Even if it’s just to say “good job” or add to the post, comment! Bloggers appreciate knowing that someone is reading and taking the time to add value to their posts. I personally LOVE it! Give it a try and see what happens by posting a comment to this post below 😉
Meetup.com:
Haven’t heard of Meetup.com yet?   Not enough people use Meetup.com. This is an excellent tool for finding face to face networking events AND create another mode of online networking. I see many people from my Meetup groups who post announcements and other great info without actually attending anything in person. It is however a real treat to meet online and then see the person at some point! If you don’t believe me, try it out for yourself! If you want to add me as a friend on Meetup.com, I can be found here:

So are you Ready to start networking in your Underwear with Me?

May 20, 2009 at 6:20 pm 7 comments

Job Seekers Hold on Tight Stay Positive & Don’t let go!

girl and her dog

Looking for a job right now is tough. But hang in there, hold on tight and keep the job search momentum going. 

It’s amazing how much opportunity will come your way if you lay a solid foundation, nurture and continually build what you start.  I talk to a lot of folks that start a search, stop to take a break and then start back up again.  They then feel exacerbated by not producing any results, feeling like it should still flow together despite the gap in time.   Continuity will rule in your career search.

Even after you land your next gig, the foundation that you are building today will empower you in the future. Who knows when you could decide to go on the market again, but if you keep the momentum up you will be a head of the game.  Continue to build and nurture your professional network. 

I know job searching is a tough road.  I’ve been there myself.  Applying, interviewing, following up… it gets old after awhile.   It’s a FULL TIME JOB looking for a job. If you are “in it to win it”, don’t give up, stay focused on your target goal and you WILL succeed.

If you find yourself at a crossroads where you might be feeling discouraged or lost, find a good support system to pep you back up. If you can’t find one in your area, start one yourself.  You’ll be surprised at how wonderful it is to share job leads and lend support to fellow job seekers.   Plus there is always a new idea or take on what you might be able to do better to land you that job. Sometimes it pays to hire a career counselor or coach.

Companies ARE hiring. You CAN get a job. You ARE hirable.

Don’t self doubt yourself.   Keep moving forward.

If you should find yourself down in the dumps, when you don’t know what to try next or are out of job leads, don’t go down the dark path of defeat.

Instead, FIND empowerment.

I know it sounds silly, but subscribe to one of those daily affirmation websites or blogs, watch some comic relief on TV or read a good motivational book. Whatever will put a smile on your face is good. Keep your chin up and stay positive, it will only help you out further in an interview.

When all else fails, call me (831-464-1041) or send me an email (heather.gardner@live.com) and we can take a minute to brainstorm together on creative approaches for possible job search success. YOU CAN DO IT.

Stay positive, keep focused and good things WILL come.

Do you need a good pep talk? I’m always here for you.

May 15, 2009 at 7:02 pm 3 comments

Get off the Couch For Public Exposure to Enhance Your Career & Job Search

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Santa Cruz, California is a fabulous coastal town located about 30 miles from San Jose.  It is also home to the World famous Beach Boardwalk.  If you haven’t heard of this 102 year old amusement park, go rent the movies Lost Boys and Dirty Harry’s Sudden Impact.   You are sure to book your Summer trip after those viewings.

This unique coastal town is also home to UCSC and for any old school techies you may remember SCO (Santa Cruz Operation.   SCO’s technology was sold off but many of it’s tech community has stayed and attracted a new crop of tech entrepreneurs.  

Last week I attended one of Santa Cruz’s finest Meetups:  The New Santa Cruz Tech Meetup.   If you didn’t have the opportunity to attend, here’s what you missed:

SC tech meetup blog photos 002

It was a PACKED audience at the AnnexSpace on Cooper Street in down town Santa Cruz and several of the presenters left us excited about some currently hot technology companies.

UserVoice was up first.  Marcus Nelson, co-founder was absolutely engaging with this product pitch.  UserVoice is a “on-line suggestion box”.   It’s a great social media tool that allows companies to enhance and engage the “customer experience”, something that is extremely important in this economy.   The techie audience I came to the mixer with were blown away with Marcus’s presentation style, mixing it up with humorous terms such as “freemium”.   As a non-tech, I was absolutely sold on UserVoice.  If you haven’t heard of UserVoice take a moment to take a peek and follow Marcus on Twitter @marcusnelson.

LinkedIn was up next.   Sheena Gogna works in Business Development for LinkedIn.  Sheena described LinkedIn for us as your own “Professional Identify On-line”.    LinkedIn turned 6 years old!   Sheena also shared that they hit 40 million members.  Most of the features she shared were fairly basic, but she also talked about the “share widget” which is kind of cool.  She said LinkedIn is currently working to build out more applications soon.  Her presentation style was very informative.

Spare Change should give all economic naysayers a run for their “pennies”.  Mark Rose gave an entertaining, to say the least, presentation of his company.  Mark told the story of the Spare Change inception so well, you just have to hear it from him direct because he’s full of personality.  I wasn’t expecting to laugh so much at the tech event, but I did.  Mark Spare Change is a “micropayments” company.  They are the brains behind payment for all those silly little games people play on Facebook, Myspace and Bebo.   Mark gave a hilarious product pitch that made me want to go home and learn code so I could jump on the silly games and stuff band wagon.   Spare Change is processing $2.5 million a month in micropayments a $30 million annual run-rate.  He described it as “counter recessionary”.    

Finishing off the night were three of the UCSC Business Plan Contest finalists with their pitches.   Brilliant student minds with some wonderful innovation.  If I were a college recruiter looking for fresh out of college ideas, I would have hit the candidate jackpot with this group!

SC tech meetup blog photos 001

The organizers gave us an opportunity to network was after the presentations.  I loved the room FULL of talent and the organizers had a great spread of pizza and drinks.   My favorite part of the evening was meeting new technologists.

Next month the New Santa Cruz Meetup is will have a Green Tech agenda at the newly redesigned Dream Inn conference room. 

How about we go the next face to face networking event together?

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May 11, 2009 at 9:26 pm 1 comment

Wishing “Happy Mother’s Day” to Mom for All the Wonderful Things She Tolorates

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Today is one of  my favorite days:

“Mother’s Day”

Mother’s all over the world I want to “Thank you” for all the wonderful things that you do for others. 

Mother’s are one of the best kind of people.  Even if they aren’t “my” mother I want to appreciate every single one of them for the good things they bring into the world.  This includes the Mom’s that might be a dog mommy or cat mommy or just one of those “mother hen” types.  I love them all because you don’t really need kids to be a wonderful “mother”.   You just need to give support and love to others and that’s what I call the “meaning of Mother”. 

I am Mother to Superman and his big sister.  Yesterday, Superman was out of control at a birthday party.   He ate two helpings of ice cream cake, had far too much soda throughout the day and ate anything he could find with sugar as the main ingredient.   My patience was pushed to the max as he hit and annoyed his sister ALL day long. 

Needless to say after Superman’s sugar crash made bedtime impossible, I basked in the fact that I am a proud Mother indeed.  Despite a trying day, my little Superman and his big Sister are the best kind of Mother’s Day gift.  I appreciate all the love they give back.

To all forms of Mother’s out there in the world, I want to take this moment to wish you a “Happy Mother’s Day!”

How will you celebrate with your little Superhero?

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May 10, 2009 at 6:22 pm

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