Big or Small Company

Dear Anita,

A few years ago, I was hired in an accounting role at a small company of about 12-15 employees. I thought the company was poised for growth. As time went by, I was gradually given more responsibility in the HR area, and I’m also the head of the company’s culture committee. Problem is, I’m feeling overwhelmed and burned out. I’m putting in hours on the weekend just to stay on top of the emails. I’m considering looking for a new job, but don’t want to get into a similar situation in another minor-league business. Should I look for a job in a bigger corporation where I won’t have to do the work of two or more people?

Big Corporation vs Small BusinessDear “Stretched Thin,”

Some companies confuse running short-staffed with running lean. Leftover hiring freezes from the Great Recession may need to be reassessed.

You are clearly showing some of U.S. News & World Report’s 6 Signs You Have Too Much on Your Plate. Before you resign from your job, schedule a tête-à-tête with your supervisor. Explain the consequences to the company of being understaffed – emails not being returned, late payments due to your workload, whatever it happens to be in your case. Provide suggestions for solutions. Can the company budget for a separate HR person, full- or part-time? Is it possible to hire an assistant? Can you use a temporary worker or a Virtual Assistant (VA)? Perhaps a payrolling service take some of the burden from your shoulders.

Really think through the decision to Stay or Quit. If you do decide to leave your company, make sure you don’t jump from a frying pan into – well, another frying pan. Larger companies may (note the italics for emphasis) be more sufficiently staffed than a struggling small business.

Check out reviews for potential employers on Glassdoor.com (granted, this is easier to do for a larger organization than a mom-and-pop shop). Watch for red flag keywords like “crazy hours,” “understaffed,” “huge workload,” “high pressure,” and the like. If there a lot of employees who have worked there less than a year before leaving, it could be an indication of a toxic environment.

You may not find much feedback online for local companies. Leverage your LinkedIn 2nd or 3rd degree connections and talk to those in your local network face-to-face (or voice-to-voice on the phone) to see if you can get the inside scoop on what’s it’s like working for the small-town business that has a job opening.

There are pros and cons to working in a big business versus an entrepreneurial enterprise. A perk of working for a large corporation with deeper pockets is they may offer better salaries and benefits, including more opportunities for personal development – conferences, seminars, or even tuition reimbursement. The bigger the business, the more they can specialize job functions, which would be an improvement over your dual-role situation. (Or would you miss wearing many hats and the diversity of duties that a small or start-up company demands?) The structure of a megacorporation provides the illusion of security, but being part of a massive layoff at a big business can affect your pocketbook just as much as being the last one hired, first one fired at a small firm. There may be more opportunities for lateral or upward movement in a robust larger business.

Lonely CubicleComing from a smaller, more nimble company, you may not be ready for the sluggish pace of change in a bureaucratic corporate machine. (It’s easier to maneuver a speedboat than a giant cruiseship!) But a company with systems in place could be a refreshing change from a chaotic start-up mentality. If you’re a people person and like the your close-knit “dirty dozen” in your small office, you may feel disconnected at a large monolith corporation where you don’t know 80% of your coworkers, who may not even be in the same state… or the same country.

Being a big fish in a small company pond means your successes may be more noticeable but, on the flip side, so will your failures. While some small start-ups expect long hours from their employees, mom-and-pop establishments may be more flexible for a better work/life balance; managers in large corporations have to enforce policies more stringently to avoid the appearance of favoritism.

Being given additional tasks you weren’t originally hired for can be disheartening, but look on the bright side. You can take your on-the-job HR involvement and translate into as little as a résumé bullet point or as large as a new career path.

Readers: Do you prefer working for a large company or a small business? Why?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

RELATED POSTS:
Reverse Snooping on Potential Employers
Overworked
Saying “No” to Working Late

Writing a Professional Mission Statement

Hey Anita,

I recently graduated from college, but haven’t found a good job yet. I read in one of your past blogs [Target Your Perfect Job] that having a mission statement can help you find the right career path. Can you help me write one? I really want a job that helps society but still pays a good salary.

Professional mission statementDear “Man on a Mission,”

Companies create mission statements to provide a compass for their organization. By knowing why the company exists and what it intends to accomplish, the mission statement creates boundaries on which to base strategies and decisions. Creating your own professional mission statement can help you recognize your values and strengths, and then find a company that will recognize and reward those attributes. If you’re clear on your ideals, you can more easily sort through the job opportunities that come your way.

Start by defining your core values (up to five). If you’re uncertain how to put them into words, here’s a list of 500 core values. Select the ones that resonate with you.

Using these as the foundation, create your professional mission statement. Adapt Forbes four essential questions for a business mission statement to a professional mission statement:

  • What do you do?
  • How do you do it?
  • Whom do you do it for?*
    *This is the unknown in the job seeker’s equation. Solve for x = your future employer.
  • What value are you bringing?

Project Manager Susanne Madsen recommends honestly answering the following three questions to craft your mission statement:

  • What personal qualities do you most want to focus on?
  • How can you use and display these qualities in a working environment?
  • What are the most important values you want to express at work?

You needn’t get too wordy. In fact, the more succinct the better. An abbreviated, career-focused mission statement may be used by beginning job seekers in place of the “Objective” on a résumé.

Amy Louise-Goldberg offers this pithy formula on the Idealist Careers website:

“To combine/synthesize/integrate/leverage (or similar verbs) my experience in _______ (a) with my interest in _______ (b) to _______ (c) for _______ (d)”

In this format, “a” and “b” are nouns reflecting areas of existing expertise and target career field, “c” is a verb representing how you would like to contribute to a company and “d” is an adjective plus a noun that encompass the type of organization that would be attractive to you.

Your professional mission statement is a living document, not chiseled in stone. Feel free to update it anytime you have an “aha” moment about something you would like (or not like) to do in your career.

Now, to address your desire for making good wages while benefitting society. Teachers, social workers, and employees of nonprofit organizations are sadly not known for making decent salaries. But more corporations are trying to change the world, or at least improve their corner of the it.  Check out the 100 Best Corporate Citizens from Corporate Responsibility (CR) magazine. It will inspire your search for a well-paid position at a social good company with a mission statement that parallels your own.

Readers: Share your professional mission statement below.

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

RELATED POSTS:
5 Keys to Create an Unmistakable Personal Brand
An Objective Point of View
Target Your Perfect Job

Tell the Summer Slump to Take a Hike

Anita,

I manage the marketing team in our corporate office. I’m noticing a summertime strain of cabin fever. My team seems to be lethargic and our meetings are not as productive as usual – the ideas just aren’t flowing. Do you have any insight?

Dear “Making Hay While the Sun Shines,”

Coworkers hiking in woodsI can understand this outbreak of summer doldrums in your office. Kids are having fun at camps, emails to coworkers come back with an OOO (Out of Office) auto-reply, and friends are posting sun-drenched travel photos on Facebook. It’s enough to turn anyone green with vacation envy.

Back in the 1960s, advertising agencies noticed a decrease in productivity as summer weekends approached. Taking a “why fight it” approach, agencies instituted half-day Summer Fridays between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The practice, which fanned out to other industries, has pros and cons; while an early release Friday may push employees to complete more in four hours, the casual atmosphere could lead to slacking off.  If your company can’t institute half-day Fridays across the board, encourage your team to take vacation days or PTO to enjoy spending time with family and friends in the  glorious weather.

Your “bored” room meetings may be an indicator the team is in a rut. And who would feel inspired in a stagnant conference room? Generally geared for projectors and screens, there’s little natural light.  Health care tech company Epic Systems headquarters has on its campus a whimsical treehouse employees may use for a stimulating meeting space. The Japanese believe the practice of shinrin-yoku (literally “forest bathing”) increases the ability to focus, among other benefits. A study in collaboration with Outward Bound found that after a four-day immersion in nature (and disconnection from technology), creative reasoning and problem-solving improved by 50%. While taking your marketing department on a four-day hike may not be feasible, simply walking your weekly meeting to a nearby park or Group of business people at beachan alfresco lunch can spur breakthrough thinking. Stanford University studies found walking increases creativity by 81%, 88%, even 100%.

A full-blown fun-in-the-sun team-building event may be the catalyst for your creative team’s breakthrough. See my blog post, “Make Team-Building a Picnic,” to get your staffers out of the workaday environment and into natural surroundings for a day of productive play. Infusing the event with a tropical theme (Hawaiian shirts, mocktails with umbrellas, and team sand-castle building) may help chase away that summer slump.

Readers: What’s your cure for the summertime blues at work?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed

RELATED POSTS:
Rewards from Retreats
The Importance of Vacations
Four-Day Work Weeks
Make Team-Building a Picnic

What to Wear to Work in Summer

Dear Anita,

It’s so hot and humid! How can I dress for comfort during summer yet maintain a professional image at work?

businesswoman with sweaty armpits holding fanDear “Hot Under the Collar,”

Unless you’re a lifeguard, you can’t get away with wearing beachwear to work. (In fact, that’s a good litmus test: “Would I wear this to the beach?” If the answer is yes, don’t wear it to work!)

Even though less is more when it comes to summer dressing, don’t take it too far. Forgo the panty hose and tights, but make sure you don’t show too much leg with a too-short mini skirt. Cropped pants or culottes may give your ankles a breeze while not ruffling feathers in the HR department. Depending on your company’s dress code, sandals may be allowed, but flip-flops, in my opinion, are never copacetic for work (that thwack-thwack-thwack is so distracting!).

Bare arms may be acceptable – thanks,  Michelle Obama! – but spaghetti straps are not office-appropriate. Be sure to bring a cardigan or blazer so you don’t catch a cold when you enter your hermetically-sealed 68-degree air-conditioned office. (Think that’s just an old wives’ tale? The Wall Street Journal published an article on the effects of going in and out of air conditioning.)

Check out my Pinterest board for summer wardrobe inspiration.

Check out my Pinterest board for summer wardrobe inspiration.

When diving into your closet to select a summer wardrobe, check clothing labels, not for the designer name, but for the fabric content. Breathable fabrics like cotton or linen keep you cooler than synthetic fabrics like nylon which, because they don’t absorb moisture well, can leave you feeling clammy in high temps. Seersucker is a cotton fabric woven in a puckered style so it lifts off your skin and allows air to circulate. In that vein, looser-fitting clothes (without looking sloppy) can be more comfortable than bodycon fashions. Opt for an unstructured dress rather than pencil skirt with tucked in blouse, cinched with a leather belt. That’s just asking for a sweat-soaked “spare tire.” Performance fabrics wick sweat away from your body. The trend started in athletic wear, but you no longer have to look like you’re ready for your gym workout. These value-added textiles are going mainstream; you can now find polos and dress shirts made from performance fabrics.

Color matters, too. There’s a reason white and light colors are popular in the summer. While black may be slimming, it also absorbs more heat (technically, black absorbs more light which is converted to heat). And there’s just something psychological about wearing a fun summer floral that feels more refreshing than drab winter hues.

With these tips, you can avoid cooling yourself Marilyn Monroe-style over a subway grate, like viral Reddit “Cape Man.”

Readers: Describe your favorite hot-weather office-appropriate outfit.

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

RELATED POSTS:
Dress for Success
What’s the Tress Code
Summer Job Seeking

The Best Time to Ask for a Raise

Dear Anita,

How do I tactfully go about asking for a raise? I have been with the company I work for a year and a half now and no one has brought up the issue of yearly raises or performance reviews (small company, less than 15 full time staff between two offices, one of which I am the office manager). My responsibilities have greatly increased in the last year and a half. Also, we have some part-time janitorial staff who just got raises to equal my wage.

Dear “All in Good Time,”

Alas, some small companies without a specific person in charge of human resource issues can often be remiss in employee relations. Since you’ve never been informed about the company’s policy or customs for pay increases, you’ll have to ask now. Not for a raise just yet, but for the criteria with which the company and your manager determines pay increases. (Incidentally, the review at the end of your probationary period is a good time to bring up this subject in future positions.)

Sometimes you have to be assertive more than subtle. Bring up the topic with your manager. “You know, in a year and a half, we’ve never talked about the company’s procedure for pay increases. Could we set up an appointment so I can learn how and when I may be eligible for a raise?”

Some businesses dole out raises only at employees’ annual reviews, though that does not seem to be the case for you. At those companies, it’s a good idea to have a conversation several months in advance of your annual review to ascertain conditions for a possible raise. If your manager indicates you may be lacking in one area, there is time to improve before your anniversary date.

For companies without annual performance review policies, use common sense when planning the timing of your raise request. Make sure your business – and your industry at large – isn’t struggling. While you may not have access to the company profit & loss statement, your instincts, observations and, yes, even office gossip can give you a picture of the soundness of the enterprise. If your company has just landed a big client or received a large order, indicating an upwards arrow on financial charts, this could be a great time to ask for an increase in wages.

Manager Giving a lot of workLiz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace, recommends these five best times to ask for a raise:

  1. Ninety days before your annual review
  2. At the start of a big project
  3. When you take on a huge new responsibility
  4. When you’re given another person’s workload
  5. When your boss acknowledges your contribution

Prepare your argument with tips from my post, Achieving the Annual Raise. Point out that you’ve picked up new skills and have been killing it (or in office parlance, “performing at a high level”) even with all the increased job functions you have been given. For other readers, if you have a shiny new new degree or certification, it may qualify you for a bump in pay.

In my blog post, The Best Time to Interview for a Job, research helped pinpoint the optimum day and time for an  interview – Tuesday.  The same theory about avoiding Mondays and Fridays applies to asking for a pay increase. Perhaps the “morning morality effect” found by Harvard & University of Utah researchers can further assist in setting your raise request meeting. Take advantage of your boss’s higher instincts and ask to increase your wage on a midweek morning.

Readers: How (and when) have you tactfully asked your employer for a pay raise?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

RELATED POSTS:
I Resolve… to Get a Raise
Achieving the Annual Raise
Didn’t Get a Raise

The Best Time to Interview for a Job

Anita,

I recently had an interview just before a 3-day weekend. I could tell the interviewer was not really paying attention. It’s been weeks and I haven’t heard back. Should I give up? In the future, I don’t think I’ll make any appointments before a federal holiday! Are there any rules for the best time to schedule an interview?

Appointment entries for job interviews

Dear “Put Time on Your Side,”

As the saying goes, timing is everything. Even if your interview was scheduled for the Tuesday after the three-day weekend, it probably would not have gone any better. On non-holiday weeks, avoiding Mondays and Fridays is advisable.

SmartRecruiters, a web-based recruiting platform used by 70,000 companies, did some research on timing trends in the hiring process. Tuesdays are the trifecta for job hunting and hiring activity.

  • More companies post jobs on Tuesday (20%) than any other day of the week.
  • Not surprisingly, based on the previous factoid, more people (18.5%) apply to jobs on Tuesdays, too.
  • Tuesday also happens to be the most common day people get hired (21.5%), narrowly edging out Thursdays at 20%.

The time of day may even have an effect on the outcome of your interview. Wharton research shows that candidates who interview later in the day end up lower in the rankings because of a phenomenon called narrow bracketing. If interviewers give earlier candidates high marks, they are subconsciously hesitant to give another high mark, even if the last interviewee merits it.

USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Woman sitting in waiting room and text messagingEarly morning interviews can also backfire, depending on the circadian rhythms of the interviewer. Don’t take a chance that the you’ll be interviewing with a morning person. At least try to schedule an appointment after they’ve had time for coffee and emptying their email inbox.

If you’re sneaking out from your current job on your lunch hour for job interviews, be aware pre- or post-lunch appointments have their drawbacks, too. A pre-lunch interview may end up getting cut short (a growling stomach may be a dead giveaway). A 1:00 p.m. interview time can be sabotaged by an inattentive waitress who causes your interviewer to return late from lunch.

Keith Harris, CTO of WhenIsGood.net online scheduler, found early afternoon on Tuesday is the optimal meeting time.

Another interesting stat – email reply rates are highest in the morning (about 45% according to Yesware). Try using the delay delivery option when emailing your résumé or follow-up letter, timing it for the hiring manager’s inbox right before starting hour.

Who knows, one week later, you may add to the numbers in the Tuesday hiring statistic. To celebrate… well, it’s Taco Tuesday!

Readers: Tell us about a time you felt “bad timing” sabotaged your interview.

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

RELATED POSTS:
How to Get Past the Phone Interview
Yikes! A Panel Interview
Top 10 Interview Fails

Using (or Abusing) an Unpaid Intern

Dear Anita,

I run a small business on a shoestring. We are starting to get really busy but I still can’t afford to hire someone else. How can I go about getting an unpaid intern?

Interncarrying stacks of takeout coffeesDear “Budget Boss,”

College interns seem to be a dime a dozen in summer. In 2015, 63% of college grads with a bachelor’s degree had participated in internships, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Of those, about 61% were paid, and 39% unpaid. How can employers get away with not paying minimum wage? Many unpaid internships may be walking the line of legality. Basically, if an intern does any work that is useful to the employer, the internship may not meet the exception in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

It’s easier for non-profits to utilize unpaid internships; they can simply classify the intern as a volunteer. But in the for-profit private sector, you must meet the employment exclusion or it is assumed the intern is, according to the FLSA, “suffered or permitted to work” for compensation.

Here are the six criteria from the Department of Labor to exempt an unpaid internship from being an employment agreement:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

Unless you work closely with your local college or university to make sure the internship meets the educational requirement, chances are, you’ll have to pay your intern minimum wage. If you have fluctuating needs for additional help, consider hiring flexible personnel from a staffing company for the months, weeks, or even days that you need help.

Readers: How have you benefitted from an internship – paid or unpaid?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

RELATED POSTS:
How to Get Hired if You Don’t Have Experience
Summer Job Seeking

Does the New Overtime Rule Affect Me?

I’m getting questions from both employers and employees after the recent announcement confirming the final Department of Labor overtime rule.

Anita, I have a small business with only 15 employees. Does this new overtime rule I’ve been hearing about affect me?

Hey Anita, How do I know if my company will start paying me overtime when the new law goes into effect?

Putting in overtimeDear “Fork it Over,”

In May, the Labor Department finalized an update to the overtime rule in the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FSLA applies to any private, non-profit, or governmental agency doing $500,000 in business annually. Note that this update only affects “exempt” salaried employees, not hourly non-exempt workers who are already entitled to time-and-a-half overtime pay when working over 40 hours in a work week.

So who are these “exempt” employees? According to the FLSA, salaried workers who are employed as executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, or computer employees who meet the “duties test” are considered exempt from Sections 13(a)(1) and (17). And just throwing “Manager” into your title is not enough; it’s your actual job duties that count.

Starting December 1, 2016, the new FLSA overtime ruling more than doubles the overtime eligibility threshold for salaried employees from $455 salary per week ($23,660 yearly) to $913 weekly ($47,476 annually). This threshold will be updated every three years to help keep up with the cost of living.

As many as 4 million more workers will be eligible for overtime pay. But will that really mean a bigger paycheck for you come December? If you fall between the $455-$913 weekly gross amount, your employer may reclassify you as non-exempt. If that’s the case, you’d see an increase in your check if and when you put in more than 40 hours in a work week.

Employers may start monitoring hours more closely and not let exempt employees go over an 8-hour day to keep their budgets in check. In that case, you may won’t see an increase in your paycheck, but you may get bonus family time!

Working late in officeIf you are just under the new $47,476 annual salary cap, your employer may decide to raise your base pay just enough to get you over the threshold and avoid having to pay you overtime. You may get a slightly larger paycheck, but depending on your actual overtime hours, a small raise may be less costly to your employer than overtime pay over the course of a year.

Some employers focusing solely on the bottom line may even lower base pay! While not illegal (if the hourly rate is still at least the federal and state minimum wage), it certainly won’t bode well for worker morale.

Employers have months to figure out their strategy for compliance with the new overtime standards. Economists and financial analysts disagree whether this will be good of bad for the American economy. Since the last salary threshold was set in 1975 – when gas was 57 cents a gallon! – I think the new overtime rule is long overdue.

“Exempt” Readers: Do you have any indication from your employer how the new FLSA overtime rule will affect you?
Business Owners: How do you plan to comply with the new overtime rule?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

RELATED POSTS:
Millions More Salaried Workers Eligible for Overtime
Saying “No” to Working Late
The True Cost of Employees

Succeeding With “No Special Talent”

Hey Anita,

I’m graduating from high school and don’t know what to do with my life. I’m not very good at book learning, so college isn’t for me. I’d rather go on a hike than sit inside and study! How can I find a job where I don’t have to sit at a desk all day? But I don’t really have any special talents. Is it possible to be successful without a college degree??

Hiker walks on Mountain TrailDear “Mountains to Climb,”

Albert Einstein said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Everyone has an aptitude for and interest in something! If you haven’t already, make an appointment with your school guidance counselor. He or she can conduct some career tests and based on the results, point you toward appropriate vocational schools or community college certificate programs. Check out this Main Street article for ideas on outdoor careers that may suit your personality. Another great resource for adventurous grads is CoolWorks.com, a site that lists seasonal jobs in and near national and state parks and resort areas.

Zero_TalentI spotted an inspirational graphic, “10 Things That Require Zero Talent” on LinkedIn recently; it’s a good reminder of those “soft skills” that contribute to success that don’t relate to occupational expertise or educational degrees. I’ve written about many of them:

  1. Being on time. Check out my post, Snoozer or Loser, for tips on punctuality.
  2. Work ethic. If your parents didn’t instill a strong sense of job performance values, do it yourself with these pointers.
  3. Effort. Remember what it was like on Day One of Your New Job. Expend that kind of enthusiastic effort each and every day.
  4. Body language. There’s no need to discard your Body Language Consciousness after the interview. It’s a skill that can improve your everyday work life.
  5. Energy. Remain Alert All Day and don’t let Energy Vampires drain you.
  6. Attitude. Here are the Top 10 Attitudes Employers Look For.
  7. Passion. Targeting a Job that aligns with your passion makes it easy to get up each morning.
  8. Being coachable. Being open to advice, ideas, and instruction from a mentor, whether seasoned or youthful, is key not only for those just entering the job market, but employees at every stage of their careers.
  9. Doing extra. Going above and beyond is bound to earn some Compliments at Work.
  10. Being prepared. From Interviews to Exit Strategies, advance planning pays off.

Readers: Can you give an example of how one of these “zero talent” qualities helped you advance on the job?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

RELATED POSTS:
The Bridge from Temping to a Full-Time Position
Attitude: It’s Contagious!

The Best Grad Gift: Career Contacts

Anita,

I’m graduating soon, and I’m nervous about finding a full-time job in my chosen field before all the gift money runs out! Can you help?

Dear “3.57 (that’s contacts, not GPA),”

Graduate introductionYou may have heard the networking theory “six degrees of separation” – you can be connected to anyone in the world through a chain of six acquaintances. Facebook crunched the numbers and determined the new normal in our social media age is only 3.57 connections.

It’s time career contacts rise above cash as the prized graduation gift. Parents, aunts, uncles, family friends, listen up! The best start you can give a grad is to introduce them to someone who can help their career. Don’t limit contacts to someone you know has an job opening. A seasoned professional in the same industry may be happy to meet with a recent graduate for 30 minutes to answer neophyte questions. A useful contact may not be able to offer actual employment, but could be the second link of the 3.57 connections needed to land a position.

Here are two ways to introduce your LinkedIn contacts to one another. A personal telephone call on behalf of a high-achieving young person you feel comfortable vouching for may be more effective than an e-introduction.

Back to you, graduates. It’s important you do your part. First, make sure you have a great résumé. Check out my blog post, Creating a Résumé from Scratch. Print on quality paper stock from a professional printer (pay for them if you must with some of those graduation gift checks) and always have copies ready for networking opportunities. Provide an electronic PDF version for any “angels” who may wish to forward it to their contacts via email.

Create a LinkedIn profile with a business-appropriate photo – no duckface! Check out Social Media Today’s blog, How to Use LinkedIn for New Graduates, to build a killer profile. Savvy networkers use the Alumni Tool on LinkedIn to widen their contacts further.

Whether communicating on LinkedIn, by email, or via telephone, explain why you’ve reached out to the connection (“My uncle, NAME, suggested you would be a good contact in the ____ industry. I’m interested in getting into the field and was wondering if you would have time to offer some advice?”). Most workforce veterans will be flattered and willing to help.

After any conversation – virtual or in-person – always thank the person for their time, even if the meet-and-greet didn’t didn’t result in a job offer or even what you may consider useful advice. You never know who your benefactor may know!

Readers: When you were fresh out of school, how did a contact or introduction from friends or family further your career? 

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

RELATED POSTS:
Help People Help You Find a Job
Lessons on LinkedIn
Thank You for the Interview
Be a Social Seeker, Part 1 and Part 2

Previous Older Entries

Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
%d bloggers like this: