Feature: Happy Holidays
Every year at this time-as the Holiday season settles in and the end of the year approaches-we at WEDDLE’s pause for a moment to reflect on our blessings.
Yes, the world is a troubled place and yes, it has certainly been a challenging twelve months for those of us in transition. Despite all of that, however, there is much for which we can be grateful. Our families and friends, our freedom to live life as we choose, and our opportunity to pursue dreams that reward and fulfill us.
Each of those blessings is a special gift-something to be cherished, enjoyed and appreciated. For me, however, there’s one more reason to be thankful: It is the simple, wonderful fact that you are reading these words. I know that you have many other demands on your time, so I and my colleagues here at WEDDLE’s are especially grateful for your interest in our research, our thoughts and ideas, and our publications.
We thank you for taking a little time out from a busy day to read my newsletter, for purchasing our books, for the friendship you’ve shown me whenever I speak in your local area, and for your generosity in telling others about WEDDLE’s. These are special gifts, as well, and we greatly appreciate them. So, all of us at WEDDLE’s send all of you and yours our best wishes for a wonderful conclusion to 2006 and a healthy and fulfilling 2007.
Section Two: Insights on the Web
Peter Weddle has been writing columns for his own newsletter and for the Interactive Edition of The Wall Street Journal since 1999. The following column has been drawn from that work and updated for 2006. You can also find many of Peter’s tips and techniques in our book WEDDLE’s WizNotes: Finding a Job on the Web.
How to Get Yourself “Chera-Picked” By Recruiters
Perhaps you’ve heard of him? His name is Jean Carlos Chera. He’s a soccer phenom who’s just 9 years old. Despite his age and the fact that he lives in a small town in Brazil, he’s been offered a contract by Manchester United, one of the elite teams of world soccer, and a number of other clubs are pursuing him, as well.
How did this happen? Well, Jean Carlos can do things with a soccer ball that even many adults only dream of. He would have simply been a local hero, however, and languished in obscurity (at least until he reached his teens) had it not been for the Internet. He exploded on the international soccer consciousness because a video of his play appeared on his team’s Web-site. There, it was seen by a reporter from an Argentine newspaper who wrote a story about it. That article, in turn, prompted some soccer fans to take a look at the video, and they then e-mailed it to their friends who passed it on to their friends, and before long, the video had circled the globe online. The rest, as they say, is history. Young Mr. Chera had been cherry-picked for fame and prosperity.
What can we learn from his experience? A simple, but profound truth. The Internet can make you and your talents visible to lots and lots of people, including the hiring managers and recruiters in your field. Of course, everyone already knows that. The problem is that most of us limit ourselves to but one demonstration of our capabilities: our resume. We post that document in the database at a job board or two, and think we’re done. With our resume online, we’ll stand out just like Chera, and job offers will soon be flooding into our e-mailboxes.
Ah, if only it were that simple. The problem, you see, is that there are a huge number of resumes on the Web so it’s difficult for any one resume-yours, for example-to stand out. Additionally, recruiters have to dig around in a job board’s resume database to find your record, and in some, perhaps many cases, their search skills are not all that they should be. As a result, they overlook your resume and fail to contact you for a position even if you are clearly qualified to perform it.
So, how can you make sure you get noticed online? There are at least two steps you can take that will both differentiate you from the herd and enable you to showcase your talents.
Listservs and bulletin boards. You can find these discussion forums at a growing number of job boards and sites run by alumni organizations, professional associations and affinity groups. They enable you to “strut your stuff” by engaging in a dialogue with your peers. Your messages will not only be read by those who are participating in the dialogue, but by recruiters who lurk in these areas looking for talented prospects. You will probably have to register at the job board and/or join the association to participate in the exchange, but that’s a small price to pay to have the verbal equivalent of Chera’s soccer tape out there for the whole world to see.
Rules for Success If you decide to participate in an online discussion forum, follow these rules to ensure that it actually helps your career:
1. Fit in. Each forum and bulletin board has its own culture and rules (e.g., how they handle disagreements, how formal or informal their messages are), and you must be respectful of both if you want to be welcomed and allowed to participate.
2. Participate regularly. The only way a listserv can help you is if you are actually contributing to it. You never know when a recruiter is going to be watching, so you must showcase yourself frequently-I recommend two sessions a week-if you want to be seen.
3. Add something worthwhile. You don’t have to spend a lot of time during each visit to the group-I recommend no more than 30 minutes per visit-but you must stick around long enough to be noticed and make a contribution. Showcasing your talent is not showboating, so make sure your input is relevant, timely and advances the group’s discussion.
Blogs-individual “Web logs” or diaries. A blog is a personal podium in cyberspace. There are blogs written by policy wonks of all stripes, as well as by soldiers in Iraq, single mothers in Boise, college students at Stanford, out-of-work middle managers in New York City and just about every other representative of the human condition. Unlike a discussion forum, a blog is a running commentary that you create and sustain. You can encourage others to comment on your views and offer their own opinions, but the podium is all yours. It is your opportunity to opine on subjects that are important to you. While you can certainly write about your hobby or vacation, a blog is only helpful to your career if you use it to demonstrate your expertise in your profession, craft or trade. As they do with discussion forums, recruiters read blogs to find top talent. They use Google and other sites to search through the content at blogs and identify people whose commentary illustrates expertise appropriate for an opening they are trying to fill.
Rules for Success If you decide to write a blog, follow these rules to ensure that it actually helps your career:
1. Don’t rant. A career blog is not the place to vent your spleen about the cost of prescription drugs or how unfair your speeding ticket was. It is a platform for showcasing your skills and knowledge in your field of work, so confine yourself to topics that will do that.
2. Communicate like a professional. It may be all yours and it may be personal, but if you want to impress a recruiter, make sure you edit your entries and proofread them carefully. You only get one chance to make a good first impression, so take the time to be at your best.
3. Say something worthwhile. A blog is not a place to rehash your resume. Recruiters are looking for distinctive performers, so use your commentary to excel in your field, to offer your ideas about how best to address a particular challenge or to accomplish a task that is often done poorly.
Shakespeare said “all the world’s a stage,” and he was right-in his time and in ours. Thanks to the Internet, we can now offer performances that recruiters in our hometown and around the world can see. Done well, they can be the opening act for what’s next in our career.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Remember what you learned in kindergarten: It’s nice to share. Don’t keep WEDDLE’s to yourself. If you like our newsletter, please tell your friends and colleagues about it. They’ll appreciate your thinking of them. And, we will too!
Section Three: Site News You Can Use
CareerBuilder.com published its annual absenteeism survey, entitled Out of the Office. It found that almost a third of the workers in the poll (32%) called in sick at least once a year when they are actually well, and one-in-ten admitted to doing so three or more times a year. Employers, however are apparently catching on. Almost a third of the hiring mangers in the survey (27%) said they had fired a worker for calling in sick without a legitimate reason, and 41% reported receiving a suspicious alibi that caused them to question an employee. Not all excuses had to do with an illness, of course. Here are some of the more … ah, original ones that were cited by the study:
There’s been some concern, of late, that imagination is on the wane in the workplace. Based on these excuses, I think we can rest easy on that.
The Society for Human Resource Management, the professional association of the folks in corporate Human Resource Departments, surveyed its members to determine the extent of employer surveillance of workers on-the-job. It found that almost half of all employers have increased the monitoring of employees or expect to do so soon. What are they keeping an eye on? Employers watch:
Caveat emptor, of course, warns the buyer to beware. In today’s workplace, caveat employee provides equally as useful advice.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest findings on workplace violence during the past 12 months. Despite having more robust security provisions and plans, large employers (i.e., those with 1,000 or more employees) were less safe than mid-sized employers (i.e., those with 250-999 employees) during the period. More than a third of large employers reported an incident of violence between coworkers, while fewer than one-in-five mid sized employers did (16.9%). Similarly, 15.2% of large employers experienced an act of criminal violence, while just 6.3% of mid sized employers had such a situation. The most startling disparity, however, was in the area of violence between employees and customers. Almost one-in four large companies reported such an incident, while fewer than one-in-ten mid sized companies did (9.6%). Does this mean that you should avoid employment with large organizations? Of course not. It does suggest, however, that workplace violence is an area you should investigate during your research on a prospective employer and in any interviews you may have. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and the best way to be safe is to be informed.