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Finding Work in a New Town

Are you moving to a new location without a job? You’re not alone. If your spouse has a accepted a great gig, and you’re traveling in tow, you’ll need to find something for yourself. Or perhaps you’re an adventurous soul who packs up and moves to a new locale before you have a job lined up. Nothing wrong with that. Unless you end up unemployed in a new city for a long time. That would suck.

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Has Your Network Deserted You?

Logo-rIf you were gainfully employed in the 1990s through 2 years ago, chances are you built up a fine network for yourself while achieving great success.

But now that the recession is here, would you be able to call upon your network for help? Do you feel deserted?  If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to take a closer look at why.

1.  Were you nice to your co-workers or did you bully them?
2.  Were you willing to share your knowledge or did you keep your cards close to your vest?
3.  Did you complain about people behind their back, or the company you worked for?
4.  Did you give credit where credit was due?
5.  Did you cause problems at the office?

Whatever the case, if your phone isn’t ringing off the hook for job interviews, you need a network and you need one fast if you’re going to survive in this economy.

First I would examine what you did in your past that might cause your network to flee. If you honestly don’t know, maybe it’s time you asked. Approach a former co-worker or supervisor and ask them to be candid about what you were like to work with. Acknowledge and thank them in writing for their point of view.

Forgive yourself. We all do stupid things. From there you can either reapproach former co-workers  and ask forgiveness, or start fresh with a new network. With this group you can try out what you learned from your past “teachable moments” and do all you can to help others be successful.

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The Foibles of Facebook

I was looking for a former colleague the other day on Facebook and lo and behold I found him! Before asking to “friend” him I looked at his profile, and discovered that he was married, and listed his wife’s Facebook page. Apparently you can easily do that with FB.

Out of curiosity I clicked on his wife’s page which was totally available to the public, including all her comments, private life, and even details of a recent doctor’s visit. I was concerned. Not only for her health, but for the career health of her husband. What if he’s looking for a new job? Employers can and will find this information. What most people don’t realize is that HR Directors are wondering “how many people are we going to have to insure with this hire?” along with any other related health issues, etc. Facebook is not the place to be posting your biopsy results.

According to a recent Workforce Management magazine article titled “Five Trends in Employee Screening,” there is more scrutiny by employers of social networking sites. This article was not posted online, so I don’t have a link.

Don’t let the “privacy” button on Facebook fool you either. You can still be tagged in photos, and your comments on your friend’s pages

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A Garden of Excuses from LinkedIn Opponents

When I work with clients on their job search, one the first things I ask is, “do you have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile?” I’m amazed at the number of excuses I hear as to why there is only one connection or the profile is literally growing cobwebs on it. And that’s a problem, because an old profile with few connections gives the wrong impression: no one likes you enough to connect with you, and if you don’t care enough about your own career, how will you take care of a company?

Here’s three of the common excuses I hear:

“I don’t want my boss to know I’m looking.”
Being on Linkedin does not signify that you’re looking for a job. It says you want to stay in touch with your best customers, colleagues, and former co-workers. There’s a lot of business to be had out there. LinkedIn is a super networking tool.

“I don’t want to be found”
Since more than 80% of recruiters are surfing Linkedin looking for passive candidates, it’s a sure bet you won’t be considered for that new great gig unless you’re on there.

“It’s a site that reveals who got fired.”
I had a client tell me this. He says that whenever someone starts padding their LI profile and asking for recommendations, something’s up. That’s not always true. In fact, it shouldn’t be true at all. We should be tending to our LinkedIn profiles much the way we tend to a garden. Planting a garden when you’re hungry is too late. Seeding and weeding is a constant and necessary task to survive.

Before the New Year hits us, take time now to update your LinkedIn Profile. When the flood of new jobs hits, you’ll be armed and ready and have one less thing to worry about. Your garden will be ready for harvest.

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What is a Brand Ambassador?

If you’re between jobs or looking to pick up some extra cash, consider signing up to be a “Brand Ambassador” or Field Marketing Representative. These are the folks you see at fairs and major events, or even inside a big box store demonstrating products. Over the past decade I worked several events while I was building my resume business. Some of the jobs I completed included two Walgreen’s Health Fairs, an air show, and about 150 demos at Sam’s Club and Costco.

There are numerous field marketing companies out there. Most advertise on Craiglist under gigs until they find a stable of talent in each area for their database. They assign events to those who are most dependable and execute every detail with professionalism.

You can sign up with several companies. Usually these agencies are looking for attractive models who are friendly, approachable, and able to speak to strangers. You’ll need a headshot and resume. The headshot needs to be only you and somewhat professional looking. When the company has an event to fill they go through their database and offer it up. Many times they fill it to the first person who responds, so it’s important that you act fast or you can lose out. The pay can be anywhere from $11/hour to $20/hour depending on the complexity, how hard it is to fill, and what’s expected.

During the event you’ll be expected to engage with shoppers, offer them a sample, and play up a product’s benefits. Some customers are eager to talk to you. Others will brush you off and keep walking. They’re there to shop, not chit chat. Most of the customers and management are generally polite. Although from time to time you do get rude comments about the company or product your promoting.

One thing to note about these events is that you’re expected to put in additional time that you’re not paid for. For example, I’ve seen one company tell me to arrive 15 minutes early to set up, but it’s not in the contract so they don’t pay you for that. The other is the paperwork you need to fill out when you get home from the event. Many times you need to input information into a computer or telephone survey prompt system. Then you’re expected to fax in all your paper work within 48 hours of the event. The event can be a weekend of pouring wine samples, handing out coupons for cat food, or hawking makeup at Coscto. It’s always a different campaign which makes it fun.

Now for the underbelly of it all. Outdoor events can be hot, windy, wet, or really nice. I remember being at two different outdoor events where I was assigned the position next to the generator. I got to smell fumes all day!  Plus you’re on your feet all day and you won’t sit down, so wear really good shoes and try and stand on a cushioned mat.  Otherwise you might have sore legs at the end of the day.

Some companies will issue you a prepaid debit card and make you stand in line at a retail store’s register. They expect you to make a small purchase to “sign in” when you arrive since most of these jobs are unsupervised. Signing in with a debit card to make a purchase is such a hassle, especially when there’s a long line of people ahead of you.

As with any industry, some of these agencies are better than others. Here are some of my favorites: Encore Nationwide and Pierce Promotions. These two are the leaders when it comes to recruiting, execution, and payment. Encore Nationwide faithfully paid me every two weeks for a 9-month gig at Costco and they made the whole field marketing experience a pleasure. There are a lot of smaller agencies out there that are slow with payment, make huge mistakes in execution, or make their whole  process a major pain. However, you’ll soon learn which companies are your favorites, and which to avoid. You can also google the company name with the words “complaints” and see what comes up.

These jobs can be sometimes steady and other times sporadic. With my Costco gig, I handed out makeup samples every weekend to get members familiar with the new line of cosmetics available only through Costco. That was a great job because I didn’t have to learn a new product every week and I became really knowledgeable, developed good reports for the company, and documented my own sales progress!

The upside to being a Brand Ambassador is that you can meet a lot of really neat people, score some good samples, and get into events free, including a look behind the scenes. It’s also pays a decent hourly wage. But don’t expect it to be easy money. You will work your butt off.

Put your best foot forward by producing a quality head shot. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer (although I have, and it helped) but you do need to be the only one in the photo. That means no friends, pets, or you holding a beer. Fill out the application completely and accurately.  Include a decent resume to show off your willingness to work holidays, weekends, and nights.  Make yourself to appear as youthful and energetic as possible. Send back all required paperwork such as an I-9 and 1099 back quickly.

Finally, when you complete your assignments, send along a note thanking the booker for the business. Not many people do that. That alone helped me stay steadily employed in this niche for nearly a decade.

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When Twitter and Linkedin Collide

Social networking seems to be taking over our lives and now to make things easier, you can coordinate your Twitter Feed to be delivered over your LinkedIn network, but is that really a good idea? Twitter is considered to be an informal means of communication, while LinkedIn is for staying in touch with those who can help you find work. Imagine my surprise yesterday when I opened up an email with the following LinkedIn update from one of my connections:

“(I) have a date with a smokin’ hot piece of man meat tonight”

At first I thought, this woman is off her rocker to send this out to her LinkedIn connections. And then I noticed that it originated on Twitter. Chances are she was unaware who was really seeing it. Besides, there are some guys out there who would be highly put off. If this tweet came from a guy remarking about a woman, there would be hell to pay because it’s considered sexist. But that’s another story for another day.

I don’t recommend connecting Twitter with LinkedIn for any reason if you plan if you want to keep your personal life separate. And by the way, Twitter is VERY PERMANENT and anyone can see it. Including future employers. Be careful what you shout to the world about your activities.

Susan Geary / 1st Rate Resumes

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The Art of Networking

Networking is more than meeting people, exchanging business cards, and working a room. It’s about establishing relationships. Unfortunately most folks don’t take networking seriously. We know who they are. They are the people you only hear from when they want something. When all is going well, they disappear. That’s NOT networking.

Networking is about helping others, rather than “what’s in it for me?” It’s not about using people, it’s about giving something of yourself.

If you’re not sure about how to network, start with the book, “One Phone Call Away, Secrets of a Master Networker” by Jeffrey W. Meshel. Jeffrey teaches how to overcome shyness, grow loyalties, and improve your reputation. Jeffrey’s best advice, “Dont change who you are, change the way you think.” And that’s good advice for all areas of your life.

Susan Geary / 1st Rate Resumes

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The Value of Professional Memberships

If you’re committed to continuing education in your career, it’s in your best interest to join professional associations that focus on your occupation. They offer an excellent ROI considering the average price of an annual membership.

When I decided to become a professional resume writer, I quickly realized there was no school I could attend to learn the trade. So instead, I joined 3 professional associations to learn all I can in a short amount of time. The average annual dues are $150 and here are the benefits:

1. Continuing education through annual conferences, webinars, and publications.
2. Expert advice on how to deal with unique clients and situations.
3. Member search feature on the association website.
4. Marketing and publishing opportunities.
5. Certification and credentialing.
6. Vendor discounts and partnerships.
7. Credibility

Nearly every occupation has a related association of professional members, whether you’re a Professional Organizer or a Tour Operator. Find one that relates to your career at, join, and add it to your resume!

–Susan Geary, CERW, CPRW, CRW, 1st Rate Resumes