Dear (LinkedIn) Diary?

LinkedIn, LinkedIn Update, LinkedIn Status, Network Update, LinkedIn Diary

In a prior post, I wrote about LinkedIn content that is perhaps inappropriate for the medium.  In this post I address an interesting twist on that concept – and I’d like your opinion in the comments.

Most of us have shared content on LinkedIn, either an article from an outside source you believed would be beneficial to your network, or sharing an existing post you found on LinkedIn, or publishing a post on LinkedIn’s blogging platform, or maybe even a personal update (ex:  “I’m looking forward to attending the XYZ Event tonight” or “Happy to announce XYZ at this time”).  I’ve always believed that a little insight into you, the person, is a good thing as it helps transform your profile from two-dimensional to three-dimensional.

But, is there a point where your posts can be too personal on LinkedIn?  Is there a point where a personal post can do more harm than good?  Consider this situation . . . Meet Sharon (name and post details changed to protect identify), a professional currently looking for work.  Sharon recently shared these status updates on LinkedIn:

“Received a call from ABCD Company to discuss an open position. I made some resume changes to fit the job description. They seemed interested so I’m excited about the possibility.”

“I had my phone interview with ABCD Company and think it went well. We discussed my experience and willingness to learn new hardware and software. Their decision should be made in a few weeks.”

“As I await ABCD Company’s decision, I have other opportunities I’m actively pursuing and trying to schedule interviews with in Anytown, NY and  Fictitiousville, PA.”

“Today I scheduled a phone interview with a hiring manager at WXYZ Corp. for next Tuesday.”

“My phone interview with WXYZ Corp. went well yesterday.  The level of detail we discussed makes me hopeful.  While I await word from ABCD and WXYZ, I’ve just scheduled an interview with LMNOP Inc.  I’m excited about my interviewing activity and hoping an offer is coming soon.”

So what do you think about this level of personal detail being shared in status updates on LinkedIn?  Do you believe Sharon is successfully branding herself as being high-in-demand, which will help her job search?  Or, do you think that’s off-putting to potential employers that she’s sharing such personal and perhaps confidential information?  I could argue both sides, but I’d really love to hear opinions from recruiters, hiring managers and HR professionals.


Experiencing Failure

Failure, Success, Failure Is The Road To Success, Quotes, Quotes on Failure, Quotes on SuccessFor most people, the greatest number of “failures” will be experienced during job loss and job search.  If you haven’t experienced failure often or know how to handle it, failure can be a debilitating emotion.  It can impact you negatively today as well as tomorrow.  So what are you to do if you’ve recently lost your job or have spent weeks/months looking for work?

Remember this . . . “You are not a failure; you experienced failure.”  I read that headline recently and it really resonated with me.  When I was downsized in 2009, I did feel like a failure.  I felt as if I had failed my employer, my family and myself.  That’s a tough hole to dig yourself out of emotionally and until you do so, it negatively impacts and handicaps you – especially as you look for employment.

The sooner one realizes the difference between being and experiencing failure, the sooner he/she will start making significant progress with finding employment.  Your new outlook will restore your confidence as you realize that most successful people have also experienced failure prior to success.

You’ll start to see that there’s something to be gained from each experience whether it’s a skill set, a life lesson, a network connection or knowledge that will make you better prepared for what lies ahead.

The holidays can be a hard time for those who are unemployed – I’ve been there and done that.  With a new year comes a chance at a new start.  Once you truly accept the difference between being and experiencing failure, your new outlook will make a difference to your job search.  Obviously, that’s just a part of the equation as you’ll still need to work at personal branding and your personal marketing plan, your digital footprint, in-person and electronic networking, continuing education, professional assistance and traditional search methods.

While there is no crystal ball as to which method(s) will result in your new job, remember that companies want to be successful (and look for successful candidates).  Demonstrate and celebrate your successes and remember that you are not a failure, you simply experienced failure, as have millions before you.

My Top Ten Posts for 2013

2013The New Year holiday is often a time for reflection and for looking ahead.  While circumstances prevented me from blogging as much as I wanted, I still had a successful blogging year!  Below are my top 10 posts (number of views) written in 2013:

10)  Do You Have A Twin On LinkedIn?  Why duplicate profiles exist on LinkedIn and how you can remedy it if you have a duplicate profile.

9)  The $209,200 Question  My answer to the question, “What is the skill a graduating senior would need most in order to secure employment?”

8)  We Take Care of Our Own  What do Bruce Springsteen and networking have in common?

7)  The Value Of First Impressions  How first impressions of schools and universities participating in a college fair passed/failed.

6)  The Secret to a Successful Job Search  My answer to the question, “If you had to narrow down all of the various pieces of job search advice into the singular most important thing someone could do, what would that one thing be?”

5)  Twitter Players  What’s a “twitter player” and how do you spot one?

4)  Follow Up To:  LinkedIn Policy Is Guilty Until Proven Innocent  Responding to reader questions for more information, this follow-up post provides additional detail on LinkedIn’s #swam policy.

3)  Check Your Facebook Privacy Settings Ahead of Graph Search  A review of how to check and change your Facebook privacy settings.

2)  LinkedIn Policy Is Guilty Until Proven Innocent  This was the most commented on post I wrote in 2013, which criticizes LinkedIn’s Site Wide Automatic Moderation (#swam) policy for group posts.

1)  Recent Examples of PR – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly  In any given week, if you look for it, you’ll find examples of public relations; good, bad and ugly.  Here’s what I found at the time . . .

As 2013 winds to a close, I wish my readers a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014.  Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing my posts this year.  I look forward to sharing my knowledge, expertise and thoughts with you in 2014.


The $209,200 Question

Ithaca College, IC, Ithaca, Communications, Park School of Communications

Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College (via

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a conference call with current students at Ithaca College, who are interning at the Office of Career Services.  Our chat centered around marketing, social media and the lessons I’ve learned in “the real world” since graduating from Ithaca College and leaving South Hill for Rochester, NY.  I enjoy giving back to my alma matter in this fashion, so when asked if I could spare 15-20 minutes on a Wednesday afternoon I didn’t hesitate to accept.

My favorite question that was asked by a student was, “What is the skill a graduating senior would need most in order to secure employment?”  Since I didn’t know the questions in advance, my mind raced with possible answers. . . .

Communications:  I majored in Communications, so this was an easy answer to give.  Virtually all jobs require good communication skills!  I dismissed that answer as something that should be a given.

Marketing:  These are marketing interns, so a broad-based marketing skill set would be valuable.  After all, marketing applies to all job seekers because they’re ultimately marketing themselves to prospective employers.  So, I dismissed that answer too, since it should also be a given.

Networking:  As a job seeker, it’s not just what you know.  It’s also not just who you know.  It’s who knows about you which is equally important.  What’s the best way to make sure recruiters, employers and hiring managers know about you?  Networking!  I had my answer!

Whether in-person or via social media, networking is truly an important skill set that graduating seniors should possess.  It’s also a skill that won’t be taught in most classrooms.  Some colleges do, however, teach networking to their students (along with personal branding).  I have first-hand experience that Ithaca College currently does this.

I was able to stress to these students that their networking efforts should begin immediately with fellow students, professors and other professionals.  Two other important points about networking, especially for students who are likely to be new to networking:

  1. Make sure you practice a “give to get” philosophy.  Seek out ways to help the person you’re networking with and/or what you can bring to your professional relationship.  Effective networking is a two-way street.
  2. Emphasize quality over quantity when it comes to your network.  It’s better to have a network that’s half the size but twice as effective.

If you were faced with that same question, what would be your advice to a graduating senior?

As to the title of this post?  That refers to the current 4-year total of tuition/room/board at Ithaca College.  🙂


Five Consulting and Job Search Parallels

I recently had lunch with a friend and former co-worker. When we met back in 2010 and compared notes on our respective job search activities, we learned we had competed against each other for many of the same open positions in the Rochester, NY area.  We ended up working together for a large, local corporation. While our contracts there have ended, I am happy to report that each of us has since moved on to new and better opportunities.

She asked how my consulting business was doing.  As I explained the ebb and flow I’ve experienced, five parallels between part-time consulting and job search immediately came to mind:

Rain and drought:  “When it rains, it pours” is the old adage and I’ve experienced that with both the job search and part-time consulting.  I’ve had weeks without a single phone call or email inquiry and I’ve had weeks where I’m seemingly over-booked.  It’s important to not get too high or too low as riding that emotional roller coaster will make you sick.

How hot is the fire?:  Another old adage I used when I was looking for full-time employment was “irons in the fire” to describe how many opportunities were in various stages of progress.  At various times, I had several positions I had applied to, several I had interviewed for, and several I was waiting for an offer/rejection.  Some weeks, with so many “irons in the fire,” the fire seemed quite hot!  Other weeks, I was hoping for a spark, let alone a flame or a fire.  This hot-cold pattern isn’t always predictable, but know that it won’t last forever, good (hot) or bad (cold).

Personal branding:  If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to differentiate yourself.  You must determine what makes you different from all of the other job applicants.  Then, market yourself and highlight how you stand above the crowd.  As a marketing consultant, I too have developed and maintain a personal brand.

Visibility is key:  Without a marketing/advertising budget, I rely on referrals and word-of-mouth for my consulting business.  The key to that is being visible.  Similarly, job seekers need to be visible.  When a job lead for a sales position comes across my inbox, odds are I’m forwarding it to the first person I think of who’s looking for a sales position.

Networking is mandatory:  Whether I’m meeting with job seekers or prospective consulting clients, I try to network weekly (and in-person whenever possible).  The key to effective networking is practicing a “give to get” mentality.  Help the person you’re networking with first.  They’re then more likely to assist you.

For those who navigated the unemployment waters and have landed, what parallels have you noticed?


Are You Still The Rat?

I often think there are two types of people in this world, those who love famous quotes and those who don’t.  Consider me in the latter group, not because I don’t find value in them.  There’s simply a glut of quotes on social media.  For me it’s overload to the point that I tune them out.

The other day, however, one from Lily Tomlin caught my eye . . . .

Rat Race, Running the Rat Race

“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” ~ Lily Tomlin

What’s interesting is, my job search a few years ago felt the most like a rat race to me.  I easily logged 60+ hours a week on average.  It felt like a never-ending treadmill of looking at postings, attending networking events, having 1-on-1 informational meetings, monitoring my online presence, speaking with recruiters, preparing for interviews, following-up on applications and interviews, etc., etc.

But this is where I diverge from Lily Tomlin’s quote.  As I look back on my stretch of unemployment, it really feels like a sabbatical since I ultimately re-landed with the company that had down-sized me.  During my job search, I was able to learn new skills, I met hundreds of new people, I sharpened my existing skills, I re-energized my outlook and perspective, and I returned to full-time employment better than I was before.  In that sense, I no longer felt like the same “rat” who had been running the job search rat race.

If you’re currently looking for work, my challenge to you is . . . what will you do now to improve yourself?  What will you do once you return to work?  Will you continue to network and help others as you were helped?  Will you emerge from the job search rat race a new and improved person, or will you go back to your old self?  Will you make personal and professional changes to shorten and minimize future, unexpected job search rat races? Or . . . will you still be the rat running the same rat race?

photo credit:


Five Reasons Why Job Seekers Must Blog

Looking for work is a full-time job but with a horrible “paycheck.”  I know first-hand, as I’ve previously spent an extended period of time looking for work.  I’ve often been asked, “if you knew then what you know now, what would you do differently?”

To this day, my answer is always . . . . blog.  When I was unemployed, I had dozens of people suggest to me that I should blog.  At the time, I had my excuses crafted:  I don’t have time, I don’t know what to write, it will detract from more important job search tasks, people won’t find value in what I have to say, etc., etc.

Since I’ve successfully navigated those waters, I can say from personal experience, these are five reasons that job seekers must blog:

  1. Improve Visibility & SEO.  You need to be active and visible if you want to be found.  While Google will find your LinkedIn profile, it simply isn’t enough.  SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization (improving the natural or “organic” way your site is found via search engines like Google or Bing).  Add to your digital footprint and improve your SEO by creating and maintaining a blog.  Google ♥ blogs because it’s fresh content.
  2. Exemplify Subject Matter Expertise.  What if your resume or LinkedIn profile isn’t read?  What if it’s read, but your expertise doesn’t come across?  Having a blog allows you to demonstrate your subject matter expertise with each post.  Repetition demonstrates your experience and knowledge.
  3. Demonstrate Personality.  By writing a blog, your personality comes through.  Readers get a sense of your style, your passion, your humor.  It takes what’s typically a very 2-D digital footprint and transforms it into 3-D.
  4. Personal Branding & Differentiation.  Most LinkedIn profiles look alike, aside from a few differentiators.  Since you can only customize your LinkedIn profile to a very limited extent, writing a blog allows you to creatively market yourself.  Open jobs often receive hundreds of applicants.  How can you stand out from the competition?  Try blogging!
  5. Proactively Share SCAR/STAR Stories.  A common interviewing strategy is to share a SCAR (“Situation/Challenge/Action/Result”) or STAR (“Situation/Tactic/Action/Result”) Story with the interviewer to demonstrate your experience, problem solving ability and value to the organization.  That’s great, but you need to get the interview in order to tell that story, right?  Not if you have a blog!  SCAR/STAR Stories can be great fodder for blog posts.

And, if you’d like a bonus reason, creating and maintaining a blog gives you the added skill sets of writing, content management, web development, marketing/promotions, publishing and social media!

Is blogging time consuming?  Yes, but make the time – it’s worth it!  Will people find value in what you have to say?  Yes, you’ll be surprised!  If your goal is to be found, be viewed as an industry expert, show some personality and differentiate yourself from the competition, then you must blog!


Networking When You Least Expect It

“Always be prepared” is the famous motto of the Boy Scouts, but it also applies to networking.  You’ll be able to seize an opportunity no matter when or where it presents itself, if you’re prepared.

I recently co-hosted a birthday party for my youngest child at a local indoor play center.  My wife was asked to wear a name tag for security purposes so one of us would be immediately recognizable to staff and parents.  While watching the kids enjoy the various inflatables, a parent from another birthday party recognized our last name and asked her if she was related to me.  When my wife confirmed it, this person shared that she’s seen my posts and activity in many locations, especially on LinkedIn.

She then brought her over to introduce her to me and we were able to chat for a few minutes while our kids were engrossed in a climbing maze.  It turns out we had many common connections in our networks.  She’s the president of a recruiting company in Rochester, NY and I continue to run social media for The August Group which facilitates networking opportunities for those looking for work.  It was a great professional connection to make when I was least expecting it!  We both had business cards with us and each of us listened (above the joyful screams of playing children) to how we could help the other.

Most people can prepare in advance of a scheduled networking event by bringing business cards, rehearsing an elevator speech and/or identifying key attendees he/she would like to meet.  But are you prepared for that chance encounter that can happen anytime, anywhere?  If not, it could be a golden opportunity that slips through your fingers.

Looking back on your professional networking, what were the most unusual circumstances surrounding a connection you made when you were least expecting it?


Networking For Life Or Networking Out Of Necessity?

The mantra of The August Group is “networking for life.”  It’s a great mantra that everyone should embrace, regardless if they’re a member of that organization or not.  Yet what percentage of people truly embrace continual networking?  Unfortunately, not a lot.  But this isn’t an August Group problem.  It goes way beyond that.

Unless you’re in sales or are a small business owner in search of leads and customers, most people discover the value of networking when they’re looking for work.  Unfortunately, most people only associate it with job search and discontinue networking once they land a new position.  Very few continue to network and make it an ongoing part of their new professional reality.

Why is that?  Are they lazy?  Do they get complacent?  Do they feel invincible in their new position and immune to another unexpected and sudden loss of work?  Are they so introverted that they network strictly out of necessity and stop once the need passes?

I won’t buy the excuse that they’re too busy.  We’re all busy!  Attending a function once or twice a month for a few hours is something that virtually everyone can find the time for.

When I was looking for work, I had several people tell me that I should only network with employed people.  Really?  Why?  Do employed people make better networkers?  Do they know more people than those who are unemployed?  Is unemployment a communicable disease that’s easily transferable?  If employment is cyclical, then isn’t it possible that the employment status of your network could flip at some point?

As someone who’s been actively involved with The August Group for 3 years, I’ve observed the networking of hundreds of job seekers.  I’d describe their networking as somewhat of a bell curve.  They start with virtually no networking, they lose their job and start to network, they see the value of networking as a job search tool and increase their networking activity, they find work and their networking activity gradually trails off.

But, we’re not invincible and we’re not immune to another unexpected job loss.  And just as you would continually tend to a garden you’ve planted, you should tend to your network by networking regularly/continually.  When you do, your bell curve becomes more of a straight line.

The networking curve. Blue represents networking out of necessity. Red represents networking for life.

So which side of the networking curve are you on?  What’s preventing you from changing it to more of a straight line?  Are you currently networking for life, or networking out of necessity?


Social Media and the Job Search

I manage social media for The August Group, a volunteer organization committed to retain local talent in the Greater Rochester area by facilitating career and business networking for professionals, both employed and those seeking new or different employment.  In 2009 I created the position of Social Media Coordinator and have been doing it ever since.

I recently met with fellow volunteers who are busily planning the group’s next Career Fair, scheduled for December 8th.  The purpose was to present an overview of the social media efforts from previous Career Fairs and share lessons learned and best practices.

Prior to my presentation, I asked each of the volunteers which social media platforms they use, if any, in their job search.  To no surprise, all use LinkedIn, almost all had Facebook but only used it for personal purposes and none used Twitter at all for their job search.

I’ve given many presentations on this very topic, and I think what I enjoy most is showing how powerful each of those platforms can be.  Twitter, in particular, can be almost as powerful as LinkedIn.  I love watching the skepticism on the faces of those in attendance when I make that statement!

I think Twitter has a bad reputation (some of it deserved) and many people view it as “a waste of time” or “stupid.”  Like most things, if you know how to use it properly, it can become a valuable tool.  For job seekers, there is no crystal ball.  Someone looking for employment has no idea where his/her next job will come from.  It could be networking, a recruiter, a traditional classified ad, social media, or even a combination of these.  Without a crystal ball, why would someone close the door to a tool that could land him/her a job?  All avenues should be explored and opened!

If you or someone you know is in career transition in the Rochester NY area, I will be returning to the Penfield Public Library to once again present “Social Media and the Job Search” on Tuesday, December 6th.  Registration is free and opens to Penfield residents on Tuesday, November 22nd and to everyone on Tuesday, November 29th.  You can register for this event here.