Category Archives: Career Management

You are employed, but are you employable?

Given the changes in the economy, technology, society, it is also necessary to change one’s mindset about jobs.

Mostly, but not only, because of the communism, our parents found themselves in a passive expectation of becoming an employee. They devoted a number of years to an employer, working a number of hours a day in exchange for a certain salary and a sense of security. Nevertheless, upon on ability, political views, hard work, that job could evolve through a promotion into a more financially rewarding one, but not necessarily a more enjoyable one.

Hence, this mindset prevented many to proceed to a career change after the communist regime was ended. Companies were restructured; thousands of people were laid off and found themselves in an impossibility of finding a job. One of the reasons was that they were completely unprepared for a job search, had few transferable skills, they were unaware of their strengths and weaknesses and of what a competitive workforce market needed.

Now (after almost 20 years since the revolution) we are facing again an economical crisis and many people are still unaware of what employability stands for. In those times, but mostly in this economical context, there must be much more active selling of the competencies, experiences and personal qualities one has to offer.

It’s high time for the focus to change from “job” to “career”. Jobs don’t come for granted. Therefore one should be always ready for a change and think about next steps to follow on his/her career path. To look on the bright side, we have the opportunity to take control and responsibility on our professional lives.

We live in a world where the essential qualities needed are (as characterized by William Bridges in his book Job Shift): employability (retaining your attractiveness to employers by displaying and developing those competencies valued by them), vendor mindedness (thinking at your employer as it was your client) and resiliency (finding your security from within, by knowing your strengths and weaknesses rather than being dependent to an external factor).

You may have a job now, but have you ever asked yourself what is the level of your employability skills?

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Performance Feedback III – The Receiver

In my previous post I tried to provide a piece of advice on how to offer performance feedback in a manner that leads to a constructive attitude from the receiver.

Today’s post is on the constructive attitude one should have when receiving a performance feedback:

  • Firstly, remember that you are in the same boat and you need to be sure that you are paddling in the same direction. This is not only about you and your needs. This is about how you can both grow and perform together.
  • Secondly, be prepared for this discussion!  You should be the first reviewing your performance, whether the manager asked you to do this or not.  I suggest you to start by listing your achievements and failures, thus you will be able to identify their causes. Analyzing those causes leads you to a better understanding of what you should stop/start/keep doing in order to improve your results.
  • Please note that performance feedback is not only given during the annual performance review. If it is feedback about your work or competencies, it is a performance feedback. You should take it into consideration and act consequently.
  • In order for this to be a win-win situation, be sure that you really listen. The performance review is not about criticism.
  • Don’t blame others for your poor results. The questions you should ask yourself are:”Given the context, could I’ve done better?” and “Was it under my control to change that context?” If you can answer either of those questions positively than this means you have room for improvement. The manager may accept the fact that the outcomes are not entirely under your control (lack of resources provided by the company, market decrease etc), but only to a limited extent.
  • When you challenge one of your manager’s opinions do it tactfully. Bring arguments to support your perspective and be sure you understood his/her arguments, in order to fight them (if the case). Build your case around company’s interest, not your own interest, as the “performance “ part in “performance feedback” refers to how you manage to meet company’s objectives.

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Why did you apply for this job?

As unemployment continues to grow while companies cut their costs and look for more ways to save during this time of need, the job seekers seem to be more indiscriminate when applying for a job than ever. Consequently, employers are flooded with hundreds of applications for any position available.

Facts:

  • A number of candidates apply for two different positions in the same company. (different departments, different competencies and level of experience required)
  • The number of applications received for a position is three times higher than last year (same position).
  • A requirement specified as mandatory in the job ad is met by only 25% of the applicants.
  • A significant percentage of the candidates are overqualified for the job.

Advice:

  • It is not the number of jobs you apply for that will provide results. Results don’t come proportionate to the number of applications you send in, they are much rather brought on by a careful choice, made by taking into consideration your own motivation and competence.
  • When the recruiter writes “mandatory” in a job ad, surprisingly enough, that is actually what he/she means! When a requirement is mandatory, and you don’t meet it, don’t apply for that job. It shows disrespect for the recruiter.
  • Don’t apply for two very different positions at the same company. In this case it’s easy for the recruiter to conclude that you don’t know what you want.
  • Keep in mind: Most of the times the recruiter will reject obviously overqualified candidates. (An overqualified employee doesn’t find challenge in his/her job, gets bored, or even frustrated and will go for a new and better opportunity as soon as it presents itself. If you are overqualified, but you really want that job, tell us why in your cover letter.

Remember that we want you to want this job in this company, not a job in a company.

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Job Searching through LinkedIn

It’s true that if you aren’t willing to spend a certain amount of time on social networking, LinkedIn may not prove efficient for you. It’s not a solution for finding a job tomorrow, but it is a valuable tool in building your brand as a professional.

Firstly you should clearly define what your objective is, in order to build your image accordingly.

1. Have your profile completed (if you haven’t used LinkedIn before, you can check this first):

  • Write a summary This not only provides the recruiter with an overview of your expertise and motivation, but it is also helpful for keyword searches.
  • Include all relevant experience for your area of expertise. It helps you to get connected with /recommended by your past coworkers, managers, business partners and so on. It also helps me, as a recruiter, to learn more about your career path.
  • Include a link for other sources where we can find relevant information about you (professionally speaking) e.g.: online portfolio, twitter etc.
  • If you have a professional blog, use “Blog Link” to connect it with your profile. You can also take a look at the other applications.

2. Get connected – to all the people you know in your industry. Having your profile completed helps a lot.  Useful advice can be found here.

3. Now your profile provides necessary information about you. The next step is to increase your visibility.

NB: getting noticed is not similar to spamming people

Join groups – it increases your visibility and also allows you to contact the members directly. It’s not the number of groups that makes the difference; it’s their relevance to your objective and the added value you bring in. To this effect, here are some criteria to help you in your choices:

  • What is this group based around: professional interest/former employers / alumni associations
  • members from your geographical area (or area of interest)
  • active groups

Add value to those groups. As I previously mentioned, just being there is not enough. Neither is starting discussions titled such as “I am looking for a career change”. Not only is this not enough, but it is not recommended. If you want to emphasize that you are looking for a career change, try starting a discussion on the request of workforce in your area of interest thus share your experience and expectations.

Remember that the most important thing is to get involved: answer the questions, provide consultancy/advice, argument your opinion on the different issues raised. This is the best way to prove your expertise and get noticed.

Answers: if you haven’t found it yet, LinkedIn also has a Q&A section. You can get noticed by answering questions addressed in your area of expertise. You can also ask a question and start a debate on a specific professional topic.

4. Visit the Jobs section. Job posting on LinkedIn is not frequently used by companies in Romania. Nevertheless you can keep an eye on it. There are a few multinational companies that post openings from time to time. Furthermore, the tool provides a better experience for both job seekers and recruiters than regular job boards do.

5. Be active and respond to your connections requests (introduction, reference, expertise requests etc.). Don’t be selfish. Networking is not only about you and your needs. It’s give and take, it goes both ways.

6. It’s time for you to actually start job hunting. In order to do this, you should aim for getting connected with:

  • recruiters working in consultancy companies covering your area of expertise;
  • hiring managers and recruiters working in the companies you would like to work for;
  • opinion leaders in your industry;

When you arrive at this point it is crucial to comply with the existing etiquette in asking for an introduction. For example, when someone asks me for an introduction and they fail to provide a reason for the recipient to accept it, I don’t forward it. Why? Because I respect the people I am connected with and I don’t want them to waste their time. If, however, you show respect for me and the recipient, by reasoning your request, I would gladly help you.

The main thing you should keep in mind about social networks is that you interact with people. Either online or offline it’s still about building relationships.

LE: useful advice on “6 Top LinkedIn Tools“.

LE 2: How to master the skill of networking in your job search

LE 3: Free webinar Recruiters are all over LinkedIn. How to ensure they find you first.

LE 4: How to Use Linkedin to get the Job You Want

LE 5: 6 Reasons Why LinkedIn Is So Critical In A Job Search

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Twitter & your personal brand

I found a presentation on “20 Ways to Tweet: For Companies, Corporations, and Small Business” and I think the advice provided can be successfully applied in personal branding (except for two slides, one referring to recruitment and the other to giveaways and discounts).

I assumed that you already had your personal brand defined.

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