What to ask for when you’re terminated: outplacement options

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As unemployment claims mount due to the pandemic-induced recession, you might find yourself getting bad news in the weeks ahead. Hopefully not! But if you do, the good news is that many employers do want to help make these transitions smoother for exiting employees.

If you learn that you’re getting laid off, find out if there are any outplacement services included in the exit package (and if there aren’t, keep reading for ideas about how you can change that!).

What the heck is outplacement?

Outplacement programs are quite diverse and vary widely, but all of them provide some sort of assistance intended to help you land a new position faster and more easily than you would otherwise.

Just to be clear, my firm is a boutique outplacement firm. We work with individual clients, primarily executives, who hire us themselves; and we also help employers with large layoffs as well as one-off deals for individual employees. (I have a separate website for employers that focuses more on the outplacement angle of our business.)

Some outplacement programs are one-on-one, providing you with access to a career coach or a resume writer who can help you with navigating the job market, updating your resume and LinkedIn profile, and preparing for interviews.

Others are group programs, offering webinars, online workshops, conference calls, group coaching, “job club” support groups, and similar services that help multiple people together.

Many outplacement programs combine group and one-on-one services. This can be a good option for employers that allows for better support than group programs without being cost-prohibitive.

How employers provide outplacement services

There are a few avenues I’ve seen over the years; here are the most common:

  1. The employer hires a firm to do a program for all the affected employees or uses a firm they already have a relationship with.
  2. The employer allows you to choose your own firm for whatever type of help you want and they pay the invoice.
  3. The employer allows you to choose, like #2, but they want you to pay the invoice and then they reimburse you.

Boutique firms vs. large firms

Here are some ways to determine whether boutique outplacement or a large cookie cutter firm would better meet your needs.

Boutique firm:

  • The firm can usually customize your package to your specific needs (for example, one person might be more concerned about an executive resume and LinkedIn profile, whereas someone else might be more concerned with getting career coaching).
  • It’s more personalized and intimate because it’s a smaller operation. Feel like you have partners who truly care versus being a number.
  • You might have the opportunity to work directly with a recognized expert (perhaps the owner of the firm).
  • You might be able to speak with the principal of the firm or with whoever you’d be working with prior to hiring the firm, so you can make sure their style is a good fit for you. Different coaches have different styles and a good coach for one person might not be the right fit for someone else.
  • If a writer is creating your resume and LinkedIn profile, the outcome will almost always be better than the hasty, cookie-cutter approach of a writer at a large firm. To push out a large volume of resumes cost-effectively they can’t spend too much time with each client. I’ve had clients who received weak resumes from large firms and then came to me to rewrite their resumes.

Large firm:

  • The firm provides the opportunity to interact with other job seekers in group programs. This could facilitate networking, although the other job seekers might or might not be optimal networking partners for you.
  • If you’ll be receiving one-on-one coaching (somewhat rare with large firms except for senior execs), you’ll be assigned a coach and won’t get to choose the coach. Again, coaching styles vary and you might end up mismatched with a coach whose style doesn’t mesh well with your personality.
  • Likewise, the quality can vary quite a bit. These coaches sometimes work for large firms because they can’t attract enough clients to their own small coaching practices. However, there ARE some top-notch coaches who work for outplacement firms, so it’s the luck of the draw.
  • Unlike a boutique firm, a large firm offers the security of a large operation; for example, something like a natural disaster wouldn’t affect the operation of a massive national firm with hundreds of employees, but it could stymie a small 5-person team.

Executive outplacement

Outplacement for executives (eg., leaders with salaries above $175K) can be its own animal. You’re more likely to receive a larger package valued between $5K and $15K and more likely to have on-on-one services included in that. I’ve done many of these packages for senior executives and they can be very robust.

For a senior executive, going with a boutique firm that will provide more personalized service may be especially desirable. As an executive, you should be getting one-on-one coaching from an expert to develop your executive brand, not watching a webinar about personal branding and figuring out on your own how to implement it.

You can’t get what you don’t ask for

If your employer says you can choose an outplacement firm of your choice, great! Start shopping for the best firm.

Remember that any firm providing career services, career coaching, resume writing, or LinkedIn consulting will probably be acceptable even if they don’t brand themselves as an “outplacement firm.” If the business helps job seekers and can list “Outplacement Services” on the invoice, that’s often enough.

What if your employer isn’t including outplacement or already has a large, impersonal firm you’re not excited about?

  • Even if your employer tells you they’re providing outplacement from Big ‘Ol Outplacement, Outplacements ‘R Us, or Too Big to Fail Outplacement, when you negotiate your exit package you can try asking for an additional pot of money to hire a firm of your choice for one-on-one service either instead of the big firm.
  • If the employer isn’t including any outplacement, just ask! What do you have to lose?
  • For entry level, you could ask for $2000-$3000; mid-career, $3000-$5000; execs, $5000-$10,000; senior execs, $10,000-$15,000. Even if you get less than you ask for, you can still benefit. (Even a couple grand isn’t bad for a question that only took 60 seconds to ask.)

A word of caution

The ideas above could work well if you unexpectedly get hit with a layoff. However, if you know a layoff is potentially coming in the near future, it could be weeks or months before your employer provides any outplacement services.

While getting help for free is great, don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish.

If you hire a company (like us) at your own expense right now to help you with revamping your LinkedIn presence and executive resume, you might have interviews lined up by the time you get the official word. (You could still ask for reimbursement as part of your exit package–the worst they can do is say no.)

Play your cards right and you’ll be able to have a relaxing three-week vacation in between jobs rather than a stressful months-long period of being an unemployed job seeker.

This article first appeared on www.KellyDonovan.com

Your trusted resume expert… a robot?

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is truly woven into the fabrics of our lives, including job search. Most mid-sized to large employers are using technology and AI tools in the recruiting and hiring processes, and there are also tools that job seekers can take advantage of, as well.

For example, one such tool that I introduce my clients to is Job Scan, which will compare your resume to a job description you’re going to apply for. This helps you tailor your resume to that specific job posting. Even if you’re working with a recruiter on a job not publicly advertised anywhere, this can still be handy.

In a future post I can explore the nuances of how this tool works and why tailoring is preferable to using the exact same document every time without any changes.

There are also other AI and technology tools that are more questionable and less helpful, of course. (Also worth exploring in future posts!)

For now, what I want to address is how to handle a robot’s advice.

Human intelligence vs. AI

AI is an incredible advancement, and as most of us know, there are A LOT of things that computers are very good at that the rest of us simply aren’t as good at.

Robots have been beating humans at chess for years now—remember Deep Blue’s famous chess victory in 1997? Yes, certain types of thinking are easier when you have the memory and speed of a computer.

Limitations of software

Here’s the problem: software is only as good as the people who created it, and most robots we deal with in everyday life don’t excel at everything we throw at them.

For example, if you’re having a complicated marital problem, would Siri be a good source of advice? Probably not. She can find information on the Internet for you, but don’t expect her to give the kind of advice you could get from a marriage counselor or a friend who’s been married for 35 years.

Robots are lacking when it comes to analysis that requires common sense, empathy, and emotional intelligence.

A client example

I had an executive client who, based on my recommendation, ran her resume through Job Scan to tailor it for a job posting. A recommendation popped up saying that her resume was over the recommended length.

However, what she didn’t notice was that it said “unless you are applying for executive jobs.” The software simply isn’t (or at least wasn’t at the time) capable of analyzing the fact that there were VP titles in the resume, and then tailoring the advice based on the fact that she was at that level. Now, if she had read it more carefully, she would have understood that this didn’t apply to her.

One-size-fits-all “rules of thumb”

The other issue is that the software is set up to detect whether you’re over a certain word count (which has since been increased); even if you’re only one word over, it will be flagged—even though being one word over wouldn’t disqualify your application if you applied for the job.

These types of guidelines from an AI tool are usually based on best practices that are applicable to the lowest common denominator of people. Your needs might be slightly different, depending on your industry, career level, target employer, target job, and unique career situations.

You could think of it like government dietary guidelines. They’re based on what will probably work best for most people, but your needs might be slightly different if you’re an athlete, diabetic, celiac patient, or have a food allergy. In those instances, you could work with your physician, dietician, or trainer to determine what will be best for you.

Handling a robot’s advice

Back to my example. My client tried to trim her resume to get it under the magical word count that the robot had recommended (yes, that was sarcasm). But there was so much important information; she trimmed a bit, but couldn’t get it down much and mentioned this to me when we talked again.

I reassured her that the platform clearly states that this isn’t applicable if you’re applying to executive jobs. However, I was left feeling a bit disappointed that she had trusted a robot over me.

When you’ve invested a significant amount of money in working with an executive resume writer who is certified, has spent more than a decade mastering her craft, attends conferences in her industry, contributes to popular resume and career books, is quoted about resume topics by major media outlets, stays current through monthly professional development, is a member of four different professional associations for the resume and career industry, and has a recruiter consultant on her team…why not at least run these things by her first?

At this point, advice from robots needs to be taken with a grain of salt. AI job search tools range from useless to helpful, but even when it’s helpful, you also need to balance it out with the opinions of human experts and your own common sense. Oh, and while you’re at it, please don’t replace your marriage counselor with Siri. 😉

A recruiter is calling… don’t answer!

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When you’re in the job market and the phone rings, it’s impossible not to wonder if it’s a recruiter or employer–especially if the area code matches an employer you’re interested in!

Answering the phone right away would seem to be the best option, but not so fast!

What could go wrong?

Noise and distractions

Take stock of the situation. Are you in the car? In a noisy public place? Outdoors on a windy day? Any of these environments are NOT optimal for a cell phone conversation. Reception might be bad, or there might be too much background noise. Also, you might be distracted.

Even if you’re at home, noise from pets, children, and the TV can be equally problematic.

Not being prepared

Even if you’re in a very quiet place with excellent reception, you also need to be in the right frame of mind for an effective conversation that will convince the recruiter to move you forward in the process.

If it’s not a scheduled phone interview, the call is likely just an initial screening call to see if you might be a fit.

You won’t get a formal interview unless this initial screening goes well.
Potential problems can include:
  • You seem confused about the job you applied for. “Can you remind me what job this is again?” That employer (and recruiter) absolutely prefer candidates who are genuinely excited about their opportunity. Their dream would be a candidate who only applied for that job, and hasn’t been applying with any other companies!
  • You’re unprepared and discombobulated. You fumble and mumble because you didn’t have a chance to clear your head and refresh your memory on how you’ll answer key questions.

It’s simple: let the call go to voice mail

Listen to the voice mail, and make your way to a quiet place. Collect your thoughts before calling back. Think carefully about key points you want that person to know. In all likelihood they just want to schedule your screening interview, not conduct it on the spot–so plan on that, but be prepared to answer questions on the spot if needed.

If they called in the morning or early afternoon, try to call back the same day if possible. If they called later in the day, the following morning is acceptable.

No matter what, call back, even if you’re not interested in the job. Relationships matter. (And it’s the kind thing to do.)

5 ways to network remotely

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Job search networking by phone (businessman talking on phone)

In the era of social distancing, it’s more important than ever to understand that building relationships does NOT have to take place in person.

This is a common misconception when people hear the word “networking.” I often hesitate to use that word, but often fall back on it out of laziness and habit.

I once mentioned networking to a prospective client I was speaking to. He sounded surprised. “Do you really think it would be worth my while to attend mixers after work?” he asked. I was blown away–I hadn’t said anything about attending any type of event! But, he had a preconceived notion about what “networking” means.

In my mind, “networking” is simply a synonym for leveraging business relationships: establishing relationships, building relationships, nurturing relationships, rekindling relationships, and ultimately leveraging them to achieve your career goals.

Looking at it from that standpoint, there are a lot of ways you can leverage relationships (aka “network”) without being face-to-face with people. Here are what I consider the top five.

  1. Arrange phone calls with new and existing contacts. Come up with a reason for the call–such as setting up a short call to gather information or catch up. If you can specify “5-10 minutes” or “10-15 minutes” (depending on how well you know them), that will make it easier for someone to say “yes” to a call since it doesn’t seem like it will be a big disruption.
  2. Exchange email and LinkedIn messages with new and existing contacts. This can be a great way to stay in touch after a phone call or to rekindle an existing relationship rather than asking for a phone call out of the blue.
  3. Post and comment on social media. Maintain an active presence on LinkedIn; “like” and comment on the things your connections post (be sure to keep it professional!). You can also leverage Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. A comment on LinkedIn isn’t going to land you a job, but similar to #2, this can be a way to stay in touch.
  4. Ask for introductions. The adage “who you know is more important than what you know” should really be “who you know and who your contacts know.” Your existing network might not be enough to land that dream job. Use LinkedIn to find out how you’re connected with companies of interest and ask your contacts for introductions to the people they know at those companies.
  5. Attend virtual events. There have already been virtual events for years, but now there are more than ever. This can include webinars, conference calls, Zoom meetings, and virtual conferences. Find out what the professional associations in your industry are doing to help people learn and stay connected.

This article first appeared on www.KellyDonovan.com

The job you WILL be recruited for

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I’ve heard it so many different times from clients in all different fields, from logistics to marketing to nursing: “Well, I never thought about doing this before, but they found my resume online and they really want me–they said I’d be great!”

After hearing this from a lot of different clients over the years, I hate to break it to you: they’re picking you and a whole lot of other people.

The job they’re all talking about? Life insurance sales! While it may seem flattering that a big-name life insurance company has picked YOU, please understand that their outreach is part of a continuous and robust recruiting effort.

Why do they recruit so aggressively?

This area of sales is one of the highest-turnover jobs out there: about 80% turnover! So they constantly need to replenish their workforce and find new blood.

The reason for the high turnover is simple: being a life agent is usually 100% commission, meaning you don’t receive a base salary. It’s an easy job to land, but a hard job to succeed in. It’s only suited to hard-core salespeople who love networking, cold-calling, and selling.

The industry’s willingness to bring in people who’ve never done sales means that many of them won’t last long at all.

These companies are avid users of job boards and they often target recently unemployed people who have uploaded their resumes to job boards.

One thing should be clear: don’t allow yourself to be overly flattered by receiving recruitment messages for these positions.

If you’re going to move your career in an entirely different direction, it should be based your long-term career goals, not based on the mere fact that a company is desperate for new recruits and gives you the impression they’ve chosen you because you’re special.

Is it right for you?

If you’re in sales and love it, but want to change industries, this could certainly be an option. You’d be selling a very meaningful product that can make the difference between a good quality of life and a terrible quality of life for families when they face tragedy.

Do your research first to learn more about the pros and cons of working in the industry, and also compare it to other industries.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, life insurance agents make a median wage of $48K a year, with the lowest-paid making less than $26K and the highest-paid making more than $117K a year. The creme de la creme can make multi-six-figures, but we’re talking about a select few.

I suspect that many of the lowest paid ones are folks who do it as a side hustle and retirees who do it as a part-time source of income to supplement their savings, investments, pensions, and social security.

Could this be a temporary source of income?

If you’re thinking of doing this while you’re in between jobs, you need to understand that this is NOT the type of job where you can reasonably expect to start making good money right off the bat.

You could put in 40 hours a week and make $0 if you don’t close any deals. (Meanwhile, working that many hours could also stymie your search for an ideal permanent position.)

Commission-only sales is similar to being a solo entrepreneur or freelancer in many ways. It takes time and effort to build the business, and very few people make a good living in their first year. (Let’s just say I did NOT make six figures during 2009, my first full year of being 100% self employed.) Over time, it’s possible to do well with the right strategies, execution, and work ethic.

What other temporary options are there?

There are other ways you could make money while you’re in transition. If you have experience and contacts in a particular industry, you could try picking up consulting or freelance work relevant to your profession.

For a marketing executive, this could mean filling in for a fellow marketing exec who’s on maternity leave. A logistics executive could consult on the redesign of a distribution network. This experience can be incorporated on your resume and LinkedIn profile to fill the gap as long as you make it clear it’s temporary.

If you’re really strapped for cash, have limited options, and need anything you can get, there are also “gig economy” jobs like Uber, Lyft, and Instacart–or you could get a job delivering pizzas. While these jobs might not have the white-collar vibe of insurance sales, they can produce immediate income rather than the mere hope of possibly making commissions.

Covid-19 career scare? Do these 3 things now.

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If you’re like millions of Americans, you might be out of a job or anticipating a possible layoff.

I know it’s an especially scary time to be in this situation–rather than financial woes being limited to your employer, much of the job market is affected.

It’s 100% OK to feel anxiety and fear in uncertain circumstances. The good news is there are at least some things YOU have control over.

While none of these guarantee any particular outcome, and some are small, these are best practices that help many of my clients, including some that have landed executive roles in the Covid-19 era. These are also modern twists on best practices that helped many of my clients during the last recession (I started the company in 2007 and left my last job in 2008!).

I would say these are things to do whether you’re unemployed already or simply concerned that you might lose your job; if you’re unemployed you’ll simply need to tackle these with much greater intensity and urgency.

  1. Ramp up your LinkedIn presence.
    >> If you’re employed: you can use LinkedIn to promote your company if you want to give the impression you’re on there for company marketing rather than your own benefit. That gives you the perfect cover to improve your profile. Be sure to check your privacy settings to make sure co-workers don’t get updated every time you update your profile. They will, however, see your posts–and that’s what I’d recommend (the rationale for that can be a whole blog post of its own!).
    >> If you’re unemployed: Go all out. Update your profile with the latest accomplishments from your last job (without revealing any confidential data), upload a relevant background image that ties in with your personal brand, and have your spouse take a good head shot of you if covid restrictions make it impossible to hire a pro. Also write a catchy LinkedIn headline for yourself (tip: it should NOT say that you’re unemployed or looking for work, and should NOT reference your old employer!).
  2. Network from your home.
    >> There are so many ways you can network. What if you started inviting people to one-on-one coffee meetings via the Zoom videoconferencing platform for free? This is equivalent to asking someone to grab coffee–in the Covid-19 era. Practice using Zoom with a close friend or family member first if you haven’t used it before, and familiarize yourself with the settings.
  3. Stay hopeful, yet realistic.
    >> Being overly optimistic can lead to underestimating the severity of your situation. “No luck this month, I’ll find a job next month” is a great attitude in terms of the resiliency and positivity, but make sure you’re not in denial. Are you sufficiently focused? Are you differentiating yourself well? Are your resume and LinkedIn profile good enough? Do your coffee meetings result in the other person knowing how he or she can help you?

If I were a betting woman, I’d say the job market will be competitive across most positions for the foreseeable future. But with the right preparation, you can face this challenging environment knowing you’ve boosted your chance of a successful outcome. The most important thing is to take action–within the boundaries of what’s possible depending on how much family obligations or other Covid-related concerns have disrupted your life.

Stay healthy and safe, my friends!

5 secrets for using industry groups in job search

Industry associations are a job seeker’s best friend—or at least they should be.

There are thousands of associations that cater to professionals in virtually every industry, from the American Society of Civil Engineers to the American Marketing Association. Name a profession and it probably has a group, and there might be a local chapter in your area.

Unfortunately, in my experience, not enough people join these groups, and those who join often fail to take full advantage of their membership.

Don’t make that mistake! Here are my tips for making the most of a professional association’s local chapter (these can also apply to involvement in the national associations, too).

1. Join a committee, serve on the board or volunteer in an individual capacity.

I know what you’re thinking. “I don’t have time for that. I’m busy looking for a job!” However, these activities are not mutually exclusive. Did you know that interacting with other volunteers is a great way to build relationships, which can lead to connections with employers of interest?

Also, don’t assume that you need to go anywhere to volunteer. Meetings can be conducted by conference call, for example.

Getting involved as a volunteer is as simple as letting the chapter leadership know that you’re interested in helping. They will be eager to put your talent to use!

2. Learn everyone’s names and remember them.

Being good with names is important in networking.

After you make positive connections with fellow members, get their business cards and connect with them on LinkedIn, which can help you remember their names. And try using memory tricks to associate faces with names.

Another idea is to volunteer for the check-in desk at chapter meetings. In this capacity, you’ll be greeting all attendees and giving them their name badges.

3. Go to events and be fully present.

Find the time and take advantage of the chapter’s regular meetings and special events.

If you have conflicts that prevent you from attending the chapter’s regular meetings, remember that there might be other events at different times that you could attend, like mixers, awards ceremonies and volunteer days.

Whenever possible, arrive at events early and stay late to maximize your networking time. Being able to interact with these people is a golden opportunity, so don’t be shy!

4. Read the newsletter and consider contributing.

Most chapters have newsletters with updates on events and member news. There are usually job ads, as well, but the rest of the content is equally valuable. You should read every word.

For example, an article by one of the members about a new industry trend could offer a way to start a thoughtful one-on-one conversation with that person at the next meeting. (It’s also good to stay current on your industry.)

Additionally, you can offer to contribute articles to the newsletter; sharing your expertise in this way can help to position you as a thought leader. Most groups are in need of content for their newsletters and will appreciate the help.

5. Follow up and stay in touch.

After meeting a hiring manager from a company of interest, or someone else who can help you, keep the connection alive.

You can follow up to see if you can arrange a short coffee meeting or phone chat. Don’t ask about openings or send your resume at this stage; simply express an interest in talking further. Having conversations with people who can help you is the most important job search activity you can spend time on.

Stay in touch with these contacts by commenting on their LinkedIn status updates, chatting with them every time you see them, and sending occasional emails with links to articles of interest.

So what are you waiting for?

If you’re not a member of a professional association in your industry yet, you can research groups with the search tool provided by the American Society of Association Executives (yep, there’s even a group for them!). You can also look into Meetup groups that might be relevant.

Once you’ve found an organization, get active and follow these tips—and watch your career opportunities multiply!

This article by Kelly Donovan first appeared on Tim’s Strategy.

Should you be working for free?

At some point in your career, you’ve probably been faced with the question of whether working for free made sense.

And, whether it was a volunteer gig with a non-profit or freelance work on a pro bono basis, you still need to be aware of the impact on your time and income.

All of these opportunities can offer advantages, similar to internships. But there are also pitfalls to be aware of.

Let’s look at the most common reasons to work for free:

  • Build your resume / portfolio. If you’re just getting started in a new field, it’s important to get relevant experience for your resume, and work samples for your portfolio if applicable.
  • Expand your network. Networking is a key component of any successful job search, and volunteering is a great way to meet new people and show them what you can do.
  • Help others. Doing free work can be a way to help a friend or business contact, an organization you support, or your community as a whole. It feels good to help. Also, when you help people, they will want to help you.

Clearly, there are compelling reasons to work for free. However, I’ve seen too many situations in which a well-intentioned person agrees to work for free and emerges a frazzled, bitter, burned-out mess—without gaining any real benefits.

Here are 8 points you should consider before you begin working for free.

1. Begin with the end in mind.

Be clear with the organization (and yourself) about what you need to get out of the deal to make it worth your while. Be very specific so there are no misunderstandings.

2. Provide an invoice.

If you’re providing pro bono services as a freelancer, give the organization an invoice showing what your services would normally cost, and subtracting that amount for a balance of $0. That way the organization understands the value of the services.

3. Choose an appropriate role for your experience level.

If you’re brand new to a field, it’s reasonable to volunteer as a worker bee as long as you’re gaining relevant experience and knowledge.

However, if you have experience and expertise in a field, and you want to do volunteer work to expand your network or give back, think twice before putting in long hours.

Rather than being a worker bee, could you serve in advisory capacity? The organization could recruit a college student to perform the grunt work, while you simply oversee the work being done.

4. Put the terms of the arrangement in writing.

This will ensure there are no misunderstandings.

5. Be certain the experience is directly relevant to your short-term or long-term goals.

If you don’t have an interest in what a particular organization does, be careful. Serving as a volunteer simply because the opportunity is presented to you doesn’t make a lot of sense.

6. Decide whether your portfolio and resume are already robust enough.

Working for free is great when you’re first getting started. But you will reach a point when you have enough experience that it’s time to start getting paid for your labor.

7. Set parameters for the work you will be doing.

If it’s a freelance project, stipulate a specific scope, either based on the number of hours you will spend, or the specifications of the project. Like designing a brochure that is no more than four pages, for example.

Also be sure to stipulate the timeline for project completion and any deadlines the organization needs to meet to get the project done on time.

Once you agree that working for free is OK, the organization will often expect the same level of service you would provide to a paying client or employer. This can make your life difficult when you have paying clients or a job that need to take priority.

8. Put in just the right amount of effort.

Don’t take on a pro bono or volunteer project and then do a sloppy job because you’re preoccupied with work you’re getting paid to do. This will end up being worse than if you hadn’t done the project at all, because it affects your reputation.

On the other hand, don’t go overboard and strive for perfection if you have other, more important, things on your plate. Work that you consider good might be considered excellent by the organization.

This article appeared first on Tim’s Strategy and is republished with permission.

Get known in your field: 3 ways

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Introductions will be smoother when people have already heard of you. Doors will open more readily. And employers may be contacting you instead of the other way around.

Building this kind of awareness for your personal brand takes time, but it’s worth it. Here are a few of my favorite strategies.

1. Publish, publish, publish—both online and offline.

Never before have there been so many opportunities to publish content that demonstrates your expertise.

Traditional examples include articles for trade publications, op-ed submissions for general interest publications, and contributions to newsletters—however small or large the audience.

Don’t be afraid to approach a publication with a contribution; just make sure you read that publication regularly and understand what kind of content would be suitable.

You can also start your own blog or write for an existing industry blog. Having your own blog can be labor-intensive, but it allows you to publish as frequently as you want, and it also gives you the ability to build a home for your brand on the web.

If you’re ambitious, consider writing a book or e-book. In this age of e-books, self-publishing, and print-on-demand services, you don’t need to worry about finding a publishing company to print your book.

Use social media to amplify whatever you publish by posting links to it and getting friends to share it with their networks.

2. Get featured or quoted in the media.

Depending on the nature of your profession, you might have found yourself in the media spotlight at some point—or the mere thought of being in the media might be unfamiliar territory.

If a media outlet of any kind (print, radio, online, TV) features you or includes quotes attributed to you, that inclusion reinforces your expert status. Don’t be shy—if you’re fairly accomplished in your career and stay current in your industry, you probably have value to offer.

Seek coverage by reaching out to reporters who cover relevant topics for print or online publications that cover your industry.

A great way to identify journalists is by reading articles related to your expertise and paying attention to who writes them. Often, the writer’s email address is provided—it doesn’t get much easier than that!

Be sure to present yourself as someone who’s offering to share expertise on a topic related to your industry that is currently in the news. Suggest an article topic that you could comment on, or offer yourself as an expert source for future research.

And remember that most of the value of media coverage comes from what you do afterwards. If you never mention it to anyone, you won’t get much value from it; but if you add it to your bio, include it on your LinkedIn profile, and link to it on your blog, you’ll get a lot more mileage from it.

3. Speak and train on relevant topics at both traditional and virtual events.

Sharing your knowledge with an audience is a powerful way to energize your career.

Identify organizations that would benefit from having you as a speaker, and reach out to them to pitch your proposed presentation. If you’re a member of a professional association in your industry (you should be!), this is a great place to start.

Keep in mind that virtual training seminars held by teleconference or via the web are very common nowadays, and organizations need speakers for these events, too.

Promote your speaking engagements on social media; in addition to drawing attendees, your network will take note of your growing stature in your field.

These are just a few of the ways you can make yourself known. What other approaches do you use, or plan to use?

This article by Kelly Donovan originally appeared as a guest post on Tim’s Strategy.

8 ways to navigate networking introductions with grace

It can be awkward when you’re being introduced to someone in a networking capacity as part of your job search. This is also where a lot of job seekers, even executives, miss out on potential opportunities because of how they approach the introduction.

Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes (and chances are you have been in that situation before!).

If you’re in a leadership role at a company and your friend Tom is introducing you via email to his former co-worker, John Doe, how would you feel if John Doe said one of the following to you:

  • “Hi–I can’t wait to hear about what job openings your company has since I really want to work there!”
  • “I’m so happy to get connected with you! My resume is attached. I’m interested in a director role in supply chain management.”

For some recipients, this feels awkward. If the employer doesn’t currently have any relevant openings, that could be the end of the conversation. On the other hand, if there are openings, but the recipient isn’t sure whether John Doe would be the best candidate, her or she might be worried about offending John Doe or offending the mutual contact.

Now what if John Doe simply said he’d be interested in asking you some questions about trends in your industry–10 minutes max? That might feel less intimidating. And then based on the conversation, you might be able to figure out that he actually is an ideal candidate for an opening, and at that point you could invite him to interview for it (or refer him to the hiring manager).

We can think of this as a relationship-building approach.

On the other hand, some executives and managers like the transparency of saying upfront that you’re interested in jobs at their company.

A compromise could be to take a relationship-building approach, while still expressing an interest in the company in a way that’s not aggressive or intimidating.

There’s no right or wrong way, and the way you choose won’t necessarily be the best approach for every person. You’ll have to do what feels right to you in each situation.

Here’s what feels right to me — and what has worked well for many of my clients.

How to navigate networking introductions with grace:

  1. Indicate an interest in chatting with this person and don’t emphasize a job as the objective
  2. Don’t expect too much of their time, and be respectful of their time
  3. Avoid sending your resume (until or unless they ask for it)
  4. Build a relationship before asking for anything; develop a rapport
  5. Talk in person or by phone instead of email (email is OK for arranging a time, though)
  6. Be ready to describe your ideal employer and ideal roles; this will give them a better idea of who they can introduce you to
  7. The other person may offer to help in some way without being asked; if they don’t offer to help in some way, but you developed a good rapport, you could ask if they’d be able to introduce you to someone at a particular company (or companies) of interest, or ask if they know any companies that might be a fit for you based on what you’ve described
  8. You can connect on LinkedIn; and then if they happen to be connected to any people at companies you’re interested in, you’ll be able to see that when you do a search for people who work at the company

For tips #7 and #8 to work, you will need to have a “targeting list” of companies you’re interested in working for. This enables you to have a proactive game plan for your job search instead of just waiting for recruiters to contact you or perusing job boards.

Someone can actually understand how to help you if you say “I’m interested in sales executive roles at CPG companies; who do you know at Nestle, Kraft Heinz, or Kellogg?” versus “I’m open to anything, any industry…let me know if you hear of anything!”

This article appeared first on KellyDonovan.com