Thursday, June 23, 2011

SLA Career Connections

During the 2011 SLA Conference I attended a few workshops on Job Searching.

Two of them were led by Alan De Back of Alan De Back Learning & Communications

Session 1 - Job Searching

Questions to start with:

  • How much time do I devote to job searching?
  • How will I reward myself?
  • Where will I work on my job search?
  • What should I tell the people I live? How often will I report my effort and progress?
  • Who will I be accountable to? (So I don’t get side-tracked. It is good to have a search buddy – someone I can meet with once a week and report on my efforts and progress and what my plans are for the coming week. Someone who can challenge me if I am goofing off or not staying focused.)

Update your resume:

Customize it to the jobs you are applying for. Don’t try to tailor a new resume for every job – that will get confusing – what resume did I send for this job?

Do a self-assessment: What are you good at? What skills do you want to promote?

Use common language. Think about who will be reading your resume? Will it be an expert or a human resources clerk? Use the same words that appear in the job vacancies that you see.

Include details about what you have done. Quantify what you have done. Mention the number of customers, the volume of calls, etc. What are you accomplishments?

List the characteristics of the job that you want.


Networking: Go to church and community meetings. If you are shy volunteer to be a host or greeter for the group and get to know people that way. Don’t be afraid to tell people you are looking for a job. People know people. The grocery clerk may have a husband who has a job opening in your field of interest.

Arrange informational meetings – Contact professionals in your area of interest and ask for a meeting to discuss what they view is going on in the industry. Ask them what the skills are that they use or need to do their jobs. Do your homework and have some good questions about their industry or company. These meetings are asking for jobs – they are to help you learn more about a career that you might want to go into.

Develop an elevator speech. 3 or 4 sentences that describe you – your background, your accomplishments in recent jobs, what your interests are. Keep it simple, in layman’s terms. Write it out and memorize it. Don’t wing this – this may be your only chance to tell someone who you are and what you are looking for.

Job interviews:

How should I prepare? The interview begins the moment I hit the send button to submit my application. The resume, application or cover email is my first impression.

Next – look at the company’s website – find out what they do and if you can who works there. Do you know anyone?

If you are using a professional site like Linked-In – get recommendations from customers and colleagues.

Have some questions ready to ask about the company. Examples: What sort of training and professional development does the company support? Tell me about the culture of the organization? What is it like to work here? What is a typical day like?

Three tips:

  1. Know yourself. Have your elevator speech and be prepared to talk about yourself, your goals and your accomplishments. How your skills fit the needs of the organization.

  2. Take care of logistics. Make a practice run to get to the interview at the same time of day so you are prepared for traffic etc. Make sure you have the address and know what entrance to use etc.

  3. Do things right on the day of the interview. They want you to succeed. They are hoping that you will be the candidate that will be right for the job and solve their problem. Be that person. Dress appropriately. Be clean and awake. Arrive early – if you have to sit in the reception area you can learn a lot about a company just by observing.

Answer the questions that you are presented – if you can think about what the interviewer is trying to find out. Try and answer the unspoken question if you can.

Follow-up is critical. Send a thank you not – simple, hand-written or emailed. If you don’t get a business card, ask for one or ask the receptionist the best way to send a thank you note.

Session 2 - Networking in the 21st Century

Understand the benefits of Networking. It isn’t just for finding a job. It is a way to learn about other people who may be experts in their area. It is also a way to meet people and not feel so alone.

Develop networking strategies – a church group or community group. Take a class, play bingo – but talk to the other people who are there.

Build and practice your elevator speech – your one-minute commercial.


Write out the answers to these questions:

Who are you / what do you do?

How do you serve your customers?

How are you helping customers solve their problems?

What is one recent success?

From these answers fine-tune your one-minute commercial and memorize it.

Prepare for networking:

What am I trying to accomplish?

What questions might I ask and how should I best ask them?

If you are going to a big conference – how might you network? Meet with people from your alumni association. Get a meeting buddy before the meeting.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Start small
  • Know your purpose
  • Accept rejection – learn and move on
  • Think about what you have to offer
  • Plan for follow-up
  • Concentrate on the long-term
  • Follow-up – don’t lose track of your contacts. Create a tickler system so that every three months or so you are in touch with everyone.

Refrigerator Exercise – for developing a list of contacts.

Take several sheets of blank paper and put them on the door of the refrigerator using a magnet.

Every time you go to the refrigerator write down the names of 10 or so people you know. After about a week’s time you’ll have a pretty good list.

Take the list and prioritize it:

A – People I know who should be in my professional network

B – People who could be in my professional network

C – People who probably shouldn’t be in my professional network.

Then begin reaching out the A group and let them know what you are looking for – your one-minute commercial.

There are ways of networking online. Facebook is good – but it is more social than professional. is international in scope. Create a complete profile on linked-in – describe your work experience – make it look professional. Join groups of like-minded professionals.

You can put your linked-in profile address on your business card.

Session 3 - Resumes:

This session was presented by Beth Ann Wilson

There are no rules about resumes – only guidelines.

Ask who will be reading your resume.

Use keywords on your resume. Many big companies use computers to scan applications and look for keywords. These terms are often used in the job announcement.

A second page for your resume is okay – but make sure that you have something worthwhile on it.

Have a bridge statement – who we are – where we want to be going – our preferred skills and strengths. Tell what makes us unique. Make it concise. This is another place to make use of your elevator speech.

If possible, divide your work experience in buckets that correspond with your bridge statement. Show how you used skill A at various jobs or skill B etc.

If you have had many jobs and don’t want to list them all summarize your prior experience highlighting what may be pertinent to the current job you are applying for.

End on a strong note with your education or certifications. Try to have something with a recent date – if it is a certification class or a license.

You can list professional associations but only if you are active in leadership or working on committees. If you are only a member it doesn’t really tell much.

Cover letter – not everyone reads these – but it is good to have one.

  • 1st Paragraph – tells your enthusiastic interest in the position and organization

  • 2nd Paragraph – tells how you meet the qualifications for the job. You don’t need to mention skills that you lack.

  • 3rd Paragraph – confirm your interest in the job and tell them how to contact you.

Again, use keywords that are used in the advertisement.

As a result of these very useful sessions I reviewed and revised my resume. Since I previously posted my resume on this blog I thought I'd post the revised version just to show how I incorporated the suggestions that were made.


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