Five Simple Ways to Make the Most of Your LinkedIn Profile

October 22nd, 2013

Consider these four steps to make sure your LinkedIn profile represents you well during your job search and beyond.

1. Make sure your profile is complete and accurate.
This may sound like simple advice, but LinkedIn has so many ways to showcase your background that most people only take advantage of a few. Here is a checklist of things that any profile should include:

  • Professional photo
  • Summary of qualifications
  • Complete job history including dates and brief job descriptions (2-3 sentences each)
  • Education summary
  • Groups (see below)
  • Recommendations (see below)
  • Skills and expertise

Assume that your LinkedIn profile is taking the place of your resume. Research has shown that people are more honest on LinkedIn than on resumes (because the internet is so public), and therefore more and more employers are starting online. The benefit to job seekers is that showcasing your expertise is no longer an 8.5×11 affair. You have the space. Use it.

2. Add connections.
LinkedIn excels at connecting people. Say you hear about a job opening at your dream company. A quick LinkedIn search will tell you if you know anyone who knows anyone who could put in a good word for you. You will have the most luck in this if your network includes over 500 people.

To build your network, click to view your connections, and then select the name of someone you know well. Then scroll through their connections for familiar faces. When you spot one, hover your mouse over their name until a button pops up to “connect.”

You can continue to build your network with every person you meet. It should be standard practice, after every meeting, dinner, seminar, or conference to immediately look up new acquaintances on LinkedIn and send them an invitation to connect. Keep in mind, when you send the invitation, LinkedIn will provide you with a standard form letter – it is well worth it to take a moment to personalize that note, reminding your new friend when and how you met.

3. Join groups.
Groups are a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of your industry. What are people talking about? Who changed companies? How do new regulations affect you? To find the right groups for you, simply set the search bar at the top of the page to “groups” and type in a key word or phrase such as “engineering,” “media relations,” or “hospitality jobs.”

Some people shy away from groups because they can generate a large number of emails, but you can easily manage your email settings under the “communications” tab of your account settings. Click on “set the frequency of emails” and chose the option that works best for you. Receiving a weekly digest is a great way to keep informed without getting overwhelmed.

4. Get recommendations.
Recommendations on your LinkedIn profile have come to take the place of reference letters. With a few simple clicks you can ask a connection of yours to sing your praises for all the world to see.

You should ask for recommendations upon leaving a job, and after completing a project within your company. Scroll down to recommendations and click the little pencil icon to edit. Then click on “Ask for recommendations.” From there you can send a message to any contacts you choose, asking for a few words on your behalf.

Of course, it is always good form to personally call or email current or former bosses and coworkers ahead of time to ask if they would be willing to give you an endorsement. Another hint: offer to write the recommendation for them, so that they can just cut and paste it into LinkedIn. People are busy, and the easier you make this on them, the more recommendations you will receive.

5. Post updates.
LinkedIn is not Facebook. LinkedIn is meant to act as a professional resource, and so many people wonder why they need to post updates at all. The truth is that the occasional post serves to show that you are active in the LinkedIn community, which in turn signifies that your profile is up to date.

Updating once a week is sufficient, and posts should be kept within the realm of the professional. Cute cats and baby pictures are well and good on Facebook, but here it’s better to announce a new certification, share information about a new online resource, or congratulate a friend on a new gig. Keep it short and simple.

Used effectively, LinkedIn can be a tremendous resource to both job seekers and those who are happy in their current position. It only takes a short time to complete your profile. In the long run, you will be happy you made the effort.

Hitting the Target with Career Goals

September 24th, 2013

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”-Lewis Carroll.

The importance of career planning

In order to hit the career goals target you must have a target! Most employees give more time to planning their next meal than they do their careers. Don’t let your career wander down a road without direction. Living paycheck to paycheck or gratefully settling behind a career desk isn’t career planning.

While it’s true there are many aspects of your career that are out of your control, there are areas you can control and these should be the targets of your planning.

Divide and conquer

S.M.A.R.T and S.M.AR.T.E.R mnemonics were created for project management but are applicable to career planning and can assist you to divide and conquer to meet your goals. Your goals should be:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Attainable
  • R – Relevant
  • T – Time-bound
  • E – Evaluate
  • R – Reevaluate

Expanding on S.M.A.R.T.E.R, career growth should be not only specific and measurable but documentable. Write them down.

List your long term goals and your short term goals and the trackable steps to accomplish each of them along with a timeline for completion of each trackable step. Evaluate and reevaluate often. Change happens and your goals should be adjusted accordingly.

Measuring career growth

How is career growth measured? Career Grapher suggests these four ways:

1. Financial Measure

2. Learning/competencies Measure

3. Job complexity Measure

4. Job Satisfaction/Happiness Measure

Remember that the measurement of career growth is personal and your yardstick shouldn’t be the same as anyone else’s if you want to achieve career satisfaction and happiness.

The most difficult part of targeting career goals is staying committed to your road map. Don’t allow long lapses between your evaluation sessions in order to stay prepared for the changes and challenges of your career, and you will arrive at your destination.

We at Olympic Staffing Services look forward to the opportunity to chat with you about your employment goals. Contact one of our seasoned team of staffing professionals to learn more about what Olympic Staffing can offer you.

 

 

Job Search Fail-What Is Your Next Step?

September 17th, 2013

If you’re not having success in your job search it’s time to reevaluate your strategies. Begin with the basics. Have someone you trust inspect your interview attire and role play the interview scenario.

Don’t overlook your résumé. Review our résumé tips here. Per ERE.net, the average time spent perusing your résumé is 5-7 seconds, leaving no margin for error.

Job or a career?

Unless you’ve got a significant nest egg, it’s important to decide if you are willing to take a job while you wait for a career opening. A lower paying position outside your career interest can bring in the funds while you continue to job search. Do your best in every job and exploit every opportunity to learn and grow-even at an entry level job. Networking is all about who you know, not necessarily what you know. That non-career job may open doors to an opportunity because of who you connected with in a positive way.

Don’t sit around and wait

Doing nothing creates deadly gaps in your résumé. A part-time, temporary, or seasonal position with your targeted company or in your career puts you in on the inside. This is a choice place to be, giving you access to employment openings and providing valuable contacts inside the company.

If you haven’t established a social media presence (and why haven’t you?) now is the time to get this valuable ball rolling. Social media is a valuable reciprocation tool. The more you input the more your network grows. Build your network now so it’s in place when you need it. Review our post How to Network Yourself into Your Next Job.

Top tips to reenergize your job search

  • Create a schedule and daily goals. Commitment and follow through of goals not only gets the work done, but it makes us feel good about ourselves, too.
  • Find an accountability partner to keep you focused and encouraged.
  • Consider taking a class after your job search hours. Not only do you expand your skill-set but education is empowering to your mental well-being.
  • Volunteer. This is an excellent opportunity to help others, learn new skills and network.
  • Be visible online and in person. Don’t miss opportunities to connect at events. Keep your online presence vibrant with relevant posts and comments.

Take control of your job search. Regroup and strategize to turn your future around!

Let Olympic Staffing Services help with your job search.  We don’t simply fill positions—we build relationships, taking the time to understand your unique talents and qualifications. Contact one of our seasoned team of staffing professionals to learn more about what Olympic Staffing can offer you.

Do References Matter?

September 10th, 2013

Current résumé writing opinion is that the old ‘references available upon request’ portion of your résumé is passé. Does that mean that in the social media age references are passé also? No.

Forbes quotes a recent SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) survey which indicates: “Eight out of 10 HR executives consistently contact references for professional (89 percent), executive (85 percent), administrative (84 percent), and technical (81 percent) positions…”

The value of references

References are valuable. They offer a potential employer an opportunity to verify your résumé and work experience and give a peek into your work ethic from those who really know you. Like your social media foot print, references are another tool to evaluate job candidates for red flags and discrepancies in character.

In a competitive job market, a good reference can be the determining factor between you or the other ideal candidate landing the job.

How to mine good references

If you are currently employed, do check out your current employer’s reference policy. Fear of litigation limits most companies to only confirming dates of employment and position. Many companies refuse requests for letters of recommendation from departing employees, even those leaving on good terms.

When evaluating references remember that three is considered the ideal number. If you have more references save them for inclusion at the interview, but only if requested. Top references are current and former supervisors, the most current the better. Move on to colleagues who have known you in the workplace. Again, pulling references from your current employment history is best, as well as utilizing employees who have known you the longest. After colleagues consider references such as professors, and personal connections that are relevant to the position you are seeking.

What to look for in a reference includes:

  • A reference who can easily verify your work ethic and history.
  • Someone who is enthusiastic about you.
  • If possible utilize someone who works for or has a connection to the potential employer.

Don’t overlook your professional references on social media sites, especially LinkedIn. Review your contacts and do ask them to recommend you for skills, especially those related to the position you are seeking.

Forbes suggests that you “strategically think about whom to ask for a LinkedIn recommendation. Reengage them before you start to submit job applications anywhere. Share your recent résumé, a sample cover letter, and a prospective job description. Give them a heads-up that they could be contacted because of their LinkedIn recommendation.”

Maintaining your references

Don’t ignore the importance of keeping your reference contact information current.  Keep your references updated on your job search. When you get that new job send notes of appreciation to your references.

Did we mention that you should always ask before you use someone as a reference? And don’t assume someone will give you a glowing reference. Allow them a graceful way to decline.

We at Olympic Staffing Services are here to help. We don’t simply fill positions—we build relationships, taking the time to understand your unique talents and qualifications. Contact one of our seasoned team of staffing professionals to learn more about what Olympic Staffing can offer you.

The Impact of Employee Engagement

September 3rd, 2013

Employee engagement is a current buzz phrase in management circles and rightly so because its impact is critical to business success. However, it’s not just about job satisfaction, it’s about employee commitment to the company bottom line. Engagement is also about valuing the employee.

What is it?

Towers Perrin’s global study of 90,000 employees in 18 countries defines engagement as “employees’ willingness and ability to contribute to company success.” Job engagement can also be defined as the measure of an employee’s positive or negative connection to their job, supervisors and peers.

Why employee engagement matters

Disengaged employees are employees who are not actively supporting the company bottom line, and these are the most likely to leave. The Society for Human Resources Management estimates that it “costs $3,500.00 to replace one $8.00 per hour employee, and the higher the wage the higher the turnover cost.” A recent Gallup study on the State of the American Workplace estimates that disengagement costs U.S. businesses $450 billion to $550 billion a year.”

Employees who are engaged are committed, and that’s a huge factor in a company success. Dale Carnegie Training maps out this simple road map of why employee engagement matters.

  • Engaged employees are committed.
  • Committed employees work toward company success.
  • This leads to customer engagement.
  • This leads to increased sales and profit.
  • And leads to increased stock prices.

Employee engagement solutions

Kevin Kruse, Employee Engagement for Everyone, lists these four primary drivers between management and employees to achieve engagement.

  1. Communication
  2. Growth and Development
  3. Recognition and Appreciation
  4. Trust and Confidence

But engagement isn’t just the role of the employer. Every employee has an obligation to find personal drivers to engagement and happiness at work. Be willing to ask yourself what isn’t working. What do I need to make this job work? Communicate with your supervisor and find workable solutions.

Alexander Kjerulf, a leading expert on happiness at work, lists the many benefits of being happy at work. Happy people work better with others, and are more creative. Happy people fix problems instead of complaining about them, have more energy, and are more optimistic and optimistic. They are sick less often, learn faster and make fewer mistakes.

The National Business Research Institute (NBRI) paints a clear picture of this business concept in this infographic: The Importance of Employee Engagement.

Don’t let employee engagement be a buzzword phrase that slides right by you.

Employee engagement is the key to productivity and retention that very much affects your company’s future.

Contact Olympic Staffing to discuss this topic and others. If you’re searching for ways to decrease costs and increase productivity, we can provide you with a detailed analysis and solution for your workforce needs.

Preparing for Reentry after Long-term Unemployment

August 27th, 2013

Reentering the job market after a long period of absence can be challenging. But for the candidate with the right tools the outlook can be hopeful.

Updating your skill-set

The best time to prepare for reentry is before you launch. If you are considering employment take smart steps to update your skill-set well in advanced of your anticipated job hunt.

Check out adult education classes, your local library and community college for opportunities to upgrade your skill-set.

Résumé and interview tips for reentry

Review the résumé tips we shared in our recent series of posts on social media and résumés, here. If you are a mature candidate, do consider leaving off old employment history information that may date you, especially if the information is not key to the position for which you are applying.

Reentry may mean that your significant education and job history may over-qualify you for many positions. A true Catch-22. The good news is that social media and online networking can help you to circumvent this bias by establishing relationships online with key personnel before you actually apply for a job.

Review our post How to Network Yourself into Your Next Job.

Utilize social media not only for networking but to prepare you for the job hunt. Learn as much as you can about the career and the specific businesses you are interested in. Follow Twitter feeds to keep apprised of job openings well before they are posted on job boards.

When interviewed, be prepared to share only necessary information about your lapse in employment, focusing on the skills utilized during your absence. Be sure to emphasize what steps you have taken to maintain and upgrade your skill-set.

Looking forward and easing in with confidence

Do consider volunteer positions. Volunteering several hours a week is an excellent way to begin reentry, learn new skills or sharpen current ones. It’s also a networking tool. You are establishing resources for job recommendations and referrals. Additionally, you will have the advantage of knowing when employment opportunities are available, and you’ll already be positioned for first consideration for the next available opening.

Remain hopeful and confident. You have much to offer potential employers. The good news is that temporary and part-time positions are expanding and offer excellent stepping stones to reentry and preparing you for a full-time future.

We at Olympic Staffing Services can help your job search.  We don’t simply fill positions—we build relationships, taking the time to understand your unique talents and qualifications. Contact one of our seasoned team of staffing professionals to learn more about what Olympic Staffing can offer you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strategies for Making a Career Change

August 20th, 2013

CNN Money’s recent article on the job market indicates that July 2013 was one of the slowest employment months since March of this year. With this in mind, what is the best advice for a job candidate considering a career change? Capitalize on what is in your control: assessing your potential, evaluating the marketing and creating a realistic plan of action.

Assessing your potential

Changing careers involves personal assessment. The Employment & Training Administration of the US Department of Labor (DOL) provides career assessment tools and online career resources including the location of career centers in your area. Don’t overlook this valuable resource. Your local library can also direct you to their career tool resources (along with resources for local employment opportunities).

After you assess your skills and qualifications, match that against what you want to do and what’s out there.

Evaluating the market

Where are the jobs? As you evaluate your next move, be sure to evaluate exactly what’s trending in the employment market.

The U.S. News 100 Best Jobs of 2013 lists the “occupations that offer a mosaic of employment opportunity, good salary, manageable work-life balance, and job security.”

A May 2013 survey by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows that the lowest unemployment rates are for college graduates with majors in “education (5.0%), engineering (7.0%), health and the sciences (4.8%)”-basically anything connected to the health care and education industries. This is valuable information to utilize as you evaluate the job market.

Developing a plan of action

Changing careers should be approached as though you are starting a new business. You are. The business of you.

Once you decide on your new career path, formulate a plan of action that includes:

  • A business plan
  • Career counseling
  • Training
  • Evaluation of loans and grants for education
  • A financial plan to transition and or finance your new path

Do check into the counseling center of your local community college to see what they offer and to evaluate their classes to train you for your new career path. Find out what adult education classes are available in your area. Consider volunteer opportunities to in your new career. These resources can not only train your for that new career but can allow you to explore that new career before you make the switch.

Now is the time to begin to network online and in person among professionals in your new career area. Check out local professional organizations as well.

Employment projections all agree that temporary and part time jobs are on the rise. Remember that these are valuable opportunities to develop new career skills.

We at Olympic Staffing Services are here to help. We don’t simply fill positions—we build relationships, taking the time to understand your unique talents and qualifications. Contact one of our seasoned team of staffing professionals to learn more about what Olympic Staffing can offer you.

 

Is It Time to Leave the Job?

August 13th, 2013

According the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, changing jobs is one of the highest
life event stressors. Getting fired? Even higher. But knowing when it’s time to
leave and being proactive can reduce that stress and put you in control.

Five warning signs

The foundational warning signs that it is time to  consider leaving your job:

  • Despite your protests to the contrary, your annual evaluation reveals that you are less productive, consistently arrive to work late, call in sick excessively and you are not engaged when you are at work.
  • You know you are unhappy at work and are manifesting your unhappiness in anger and negativity.
  • You’re under-challenged. All efforts to remedy this situation have been met with resistance from your supervisor.
  • Your place of employment fails to deliver on career promises, advancements, training, benefits and financial remuneration.
  • Your core values do not mesh with the company culture.
  • Your current job is no longer on your career path.

Consider your options

The old adage is correct: A job in the hand is worth two in the bush, especially in today’s economic climate.

Decide your next step. Will you quit before you have another job? Will you wait until you have a new position and then give notice? Consider temporary work while you go back to school for a career change?

Review your finances and consider how you will meet your obligations including health insurance and emergencies. Will it be necessary to dip into savings? Write your detailed budget and plan on paper. Consider a thirty day and sixty day plan, followed by a long term plan.

The best scenario is to budget and plan before you quit. Get all your indicators
in place and then set a target date.

How to quit

Timing is everything when it comes to giving notice of your intent to leave the job. Review the company policies for sick and vacation accrual. Time your exit carefully according to anticipated bonuses, paid holidays and other benefits.

Don’t burn bridges by observing these professional guidelines:

  • Give your supervisor notice before you share with coworkers.
  • Provide adequate notice.
  • Maintain a good attitude and continue to give the job one hundred percent.
  • Be prepared to answer the question of why you are leaving in positive manner.

Good planning and professional behavior can ensure you transition out of the old job and into your future smoothly and without stress.

Your goal is to match your skills with the right company. At Olympic Staffing Services that’s our goal, too. Contact us and let’s chat about how we can partner to make that happen.

 

 

Dealing with Difficult Coworkers

August 6th, 2013

When conflict exists, it shouldn’t be ignored. The key is to remove emotions from the situation and remain professional.

How you react in a conflict situation will be noted by coworkers and supervisors. Look for opportunities to build bridges and relationships instead of allowing conflicts to make you look unprofessional in the workplace.

Conflict resolution

First, step back and review the relationship. Evaluate the interactions, taking ‘you’ out of the equation. Can you change your responses? Can you empathize with your coworker’s point of view? Will taking a few minutes help you calm?

If not, schedule a conversation away from workplace traffic with the coworker in question.

When you sit down to discuss the conflict, remember to be courteous. Take the word ‘you’ out of the meeting. Simply state your observations and then actively listen. Come prepared with solutions and ask for input and ideas to resolve the problem. If you sense the interaction is moving toward confrontation rather than objective conversation, cut the chat short before things escalate to an emotional level.

Taking it to the next level

When direct confrontation fails or isn’t an option, the next step is to schedule an appointment with your supervisor. Have documentation ready instead of generalizing. Present your problem and how it is related to the job (not simply a personality conflict) and be prepared with a solution. Give your employer time to process and act on your complaint. It is okay to inquire about status of a resolution if some time has passed.

Should you find the solution unacceptable, or if nothing has been accomplished, your next recourse is to talk with a representative from Human Resources.

Ask for a copy of the company’s procedure for filing a complaint or requesting mediation. Always document situations with specific dates and the specific details of what occurred, and keep this information for your personal files. Don’t rely on your memory when you sit down with a mediator. Always insist upon on having information documented in your files, and ask to review those files to ensure information is documented correctly.

Your rights

Eleven states have enacted Healthy Workplace Bills to reduce bullying in the workplace. If your coworker situation has escalated to bullying, review the laws in your state. If your coworker problem involves discriminatory practices be sure to review our recent post on Equal Employment Opportunity Laws and the accompanying resource links to further evaluate your recourse.

Ultimately, your goal should be to resolve the issue and move on to facilitate productivity and reduce tension in the workplace.

Olympic Staffing Services monitors what is important to you. We address news and legislation that impacts you. Contact one of our seasoned team of staffing professionals to learn more about what Olympic Staffing can offer you.

 

How to Network Yourself into Your Next Job

July 30th, 2013

We’ve mentioned before that who you know is as important—or more important—than what you know.

U.S. News & World Report, Money, suggests that 80% of available jobs are hidden. What are hidden jobs? They’re job opportunities that are not advertised. So how do you find those hidden jobs?

Networking. It is an opportunity to connect with who you know and who they know.

Online opportunities

The majority of networking is now done online. (See our recent post on the importance of social media.)

Stay active on your social media sites:

  • Maintain an up-to-date online profile.
  • Schedule time to engage. For example: recommend others on LinkedIn, ‘like’ and comment on Facebook, and retweet on Twitter.

Networking online isn’t just about how many followers, circles, friends or contacts you have. It’s about cultivating relationships. While online professional communities provide excellent bridges to contacts, it’s very important to keep this a two way street. Provide your contacts with tips and feedback, and in return you’ll receive them.

Networking events

Don’t be afraid to casually let your friends and family know you’re looking for employment. Then move to local networking opportunities, utilizing business organizations that target your job interests.

Be open to any event where you might make a connection, and develop a relationship that can lead to an open employment door. Don’t forget volunteering. This can often lead to a job opportunity that is only advertised in-house, plus it provides you the opportunity to hone or upgrade your skill-set while helping others.

The best advice is to be genuine. Your passion for your interests and skills will come through without the need to pitch. But when asked, you’ll already have your elevator pitch ready (see our last blog post).

Emailing a connection

Not many of us have time for cold calls or cold emails. That’s why establishing a connection online before that networking email is so important. Remind your contact exactly who you are and your connection level.

Add a connection comment, such as a how you appreciate an article or blog post the person wrote. Or mention a link provided. Then be to the point by asking for advice or direction. (Don’t ask for a job.)

Be respectful of time and say thank you. The best advice is to always behave in an email like you would in person. Professional.

Finally, remember that the essence of networking is building relationships.

We at Olympic Staffing Services can help your job search.  We don’t simply fill positions—we build relationships, taking the time to understand your unique talents and qualifications. Contact one of our seasoned team of staffing professionals to learn more about what Olympic Staffing can offer you.