MBA Career News
Volume 2 Issue 12 :: March 2, 2010
Sign up NOW for Cocktails and Connections, the best alumni-graduate student networking event of the year. March 26th, 6-9pm, Salt Lake Country Club. At $15, its a great deal.
Improve your interviewing skills! Zions Bank will be on campus to conduct mock interviews on March 24th. Sign up TODAY for 30 minute slots between 9:00 and 4:00.
Learn about opportunities with the Federal Government during the Federal Careers Panel on Tuesday, March 23 5:30-7:00 PM Special Events Room (HWAC) Agencies will include:
Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
National Security Agency (NSA)
Bureau of Reclamation
Additionally, learn the ins and outs of applying for jobs in the federal government and find out how to make your application stand out from the crowd in the Federal Application Workshop
Wednesday, March 31 4:00-5:30 PM Converse 202
How To Give Great Interview
Susan Adams, 03.02.10, 03:00 PM EST
Show that you have the skills and would fit in, but above all make it clear how much you want the job.
Do not curb your enthusiasm. Win Sheffield, 55, a coach for the last seven years with the career counseling firm The Five O'Clock Club, says a lot of job seekers forget that one of the most crucial parts of interviewing is convincing the hiring manager that you truly desire the job. Interviewers don't just look for applicants who have the requisite skills and will fit in with a company. Now more than ever, they want candidates who want them. Read more . . .
Making Yourself Indispensable
By EILENE ZIMMERMAN
Published: February 13, 2010
Q. Your company went through layoffs and you survived, but you want to do more than just hold on. How can you make yourself more valuable to your company and improve your chances of a future promotion?
A. You can enhance your odds of promotion by suggesting ways to solve problems, taking the initiative on projects, sharpening your skills and showing a willingness to help others.
Find ways that the company can earn more money and spend less, said Larry Myler, chief executive of the consulting firm More or Less Inc. in Provo, Utah. When you see ways to cut costs or streamline processes, develop a plan and write a proposal, Mr. Myler said.
Presenting that to your manager “shows you’re taking initiative, which makes you more valuable,” he said. “You will be seen as a person who is mindful of the company’s bottom line and who has the ability to do something about it. That’s huge.”
Even if you’re not directly involved with revenue generation or budgeting, you might interact with customers or other departments and have cost-saving ideas in those areas.
“Let’s say you have been watching the shipping process and you see there are more steps than needed,” Mr. Myler said. “You propose cutting a few steps to save a specific amount of money and get the product to customers faster.”
Q. You want to carve out a niche for yourself in the company, one that sets you apart as an expert in a specific area. How do you manage to do that while handling your usual job responsibilities?
A. To create that niche, focus on what you already know, rather than picking a new area and then trying to learn all about it, said Vaughan Evans, a career strategist in London.
“Let’s say you are very proficient with numbers, quantitative work and with using the Excel program,” Mr. Evans said. “Why not become a master at Excel so that within the organization, you are the go-to person for that program?”
Building on your strengths — and letting your weaknesses go — will enable you to carve out a niche. Keep in mind that your area of expertise needs to be important to the organization, Mr. Evans said.
Q. Should you ask your manager whether the company would be willing to pay for additional training?
A. Some career experts say that during a recession, employees should be cautious about asking their companies to cover costs for training, conferences or additional education.
Mr. Myler suggested that if you do ask, be frugal about it. “Asking your company to cover the cost of attendance at a pricey conference probably won’t go over well,” he said. “Instead, ask if they will pay for the conference notes — usually a nominal cost — and do self-study instead.”
Ingrid Stabb, co-author of “The Career Within You,” suggested checking with human resources to see whether tuition reimbursement is among your benefits. That money can be used to pay for a variety of courses that further your expertise in a particular area, she said.
For instance, advanced training in finance, social media marketing or obtaining certification for a specific software program may all qualify for tuition reimbursement. If the company won’t pay, you might want to consider footing the bill yourself for evening or weekend classes or for online courses.
Q. Although you don’t want to be obnoxious about it, you do want management to be aware of all you are doing to enhance your skills and expertise. What’s the best way to handle that?
A. Show your strengths in a way that benefits your boss and everyone in your department. Ms. Stabb said: “If your strength is organizing data, for example, and you know there is all this data your boss has but hasn’t organized, create a spreadsheet or table that makes it easier for the department to access the information, and then offer to lead a brown-bag lunch presentation to explain how to read it. People will remember that back in Q1, Jane Smith started this initiative in the department.”
Being helpful toward and protective of others is another way to showcase your knowledge — and integrity — in a nonthreatening way. This applies to both colleagues and managers.
When you have information that could be useful to others, share it, said Sandra Naiman, owner of the executive coaching firm SMN Partners in Denver and author of “High Achiever’s Secret Codebook: The Unwritten Rules for Success at Work.” This could include articles in trade journals, information on the company’s intranet and relevant online sources.
When others go out of their way to help you in a similar manner, always give them credit by sending an e-mail message to their boss to describe the help, she said.
“The bottom line is you want to be known and relied upon by as many people in the organization as possible,” Ms. Naiman said. “The more people who depend upon you for their success, the more valuable you become.”
A Networking Pro Learns Some New Tricks
Joann S. Lublin. Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: Mar 2, 2010. pg. D.4
Can you teach a dinosaur to dance? More importantly, can you teach him to network in 21st Century style? I was skeptical.
But George Langis, a veteran turnaround executive, dispelled doubts by learning new networking steps that may hasten his job hunt. He went from conventional handshake networking to creating a personal brand that would be easily marketable online. Though Mr. Langis still hesitates to plunge into "tweeting," his experience could benefit countless other older applicants with rusty job-hunting skills.
Unemployment among Americans age 55 and up has exceeded 6% every month since March 2009, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show. That represents the highest joblessness rate for this age group in almost 60 years. The rate, though, is lower than the overall jobless rate as well the rates for all other age groups.
Mr. Langis helped fix nine small and midsize concerns since 2000, following a lengthy corporate-finance career. His last turnaround gig, as interim chief executive of Turbine Generator Maintenance Inc. in Cape Coral, Fla., ended in late November.
At my request, three networking specialists devised innovative approaches for Mr. Langis after traditional tactics, such as his recent sessions with 79 contacts in eight cities, failed to bear fruit. He embraced nearly all of their ideas.
"Dinosaurs do dance," insists Mr. Langis, a 63-year-old resident of Henderson, Nev. "I lead change in companies. I can certainly change."
He acquired his fresh dance steps from Alicia Whitaker, a New York executive coach; Stephanie Daniel, an outplacement counselor for a unit of Keystone Partners, a Boston human-resources consultancy; and Diane Darling, founder of Effective Networking Inc. in Boston.
For starters, they consider Mr. Langis a deft conventional networker. They cite his month-long "Sell George" tour this winter to see contacts he collected during his career. And then there's the regular email and telephone interaction with his roughly 500 best contacts -- even while toiling 70 hours a week on a turnaround. "George does most of his critical networking face to face," Ms. Daniel observes.
Mr. Langis doesn't send text messages, "friend" anyone via Facebook or send tweets to people on Twitter, a micro-blogging service. Bolstering his outreach will produce "a more strategic and more defined network," Ms. Darling says.
For people like Mr. Langis who aren't yet comfortable about putting themselves on multiple social networks, there are some clever ways to create a presence online. Here are the top tips from his informal advisers:
-- Develop a stronger online identity by revamping your resume. Mr. Langis's resume contained a vague summary statement, calling him "a seasoned executive" who served distressed and healthy businesses. To better catch someone's eye online, the experts encouraged him to tout his turnaround stints. Ms. Whitaker believes he could better convey his passion and experience with this summary statement: "I make sick companies significantly better for owners and employees."
Ms. Daniel urged Mr. Langis to create a networking profile, too. The document typically describes a job seeker's 20 target employers, desired positions and career plans. It also contains a brief review of accomplishments. A networking profile "could increase the productive leads he receives from his networking contacts," Ms. Daniel says. He can present the document when he meets someone face to face for the first time or "he can store it online through LinkedIn," she says.
-- Make better use of LinkedIn, a professional networking Web site. Heeding the trio's suggestions, Mr. Langis revived his inactive LinkedIn account. He expanded his barebones professional description and added 1,500 of his contacts to LinkedIn. Most of his contacts are private-equity industry players.
Mr. Langis discovered only 72 contacts belong to LinkedIn, which has more than 60 million members world-wide. "I hope my being there will attract those who are not among my current contacts," he says. He then inserted his simplified LinkedIn address below his automatic signature on email messages.
Ms. Darling suggests Mr. Langis solicit LinkedIn testimonials from prior bosses. Ms. Daniel thinks he should join specialized LinkedIn groups, such as the one for consultants with expertise in management changes and turnarounds, and connect with international professionals in his field.
-- Create a more visible personal brand. Mr. Langis admits he lacks a well-known brand as a turnaround specialist. He never knew he might benefit, as Ms. Whitaker suggested, from consulting for a rent-an-expert network, which provides small doses of specialized information.
Gerson Lehrman Group, for instance, has enrolled about 250,000 experts world-wide. They typically earn about $350 an hour, according to Margaret Molloy, a senior vice president of the New York concern. Clients, which include private-equity firms, tap experts' knowledge through short phone calls or consultations over meals.
Positioning yourself as a thought leader this way will broaden your pool of potential employers, Ms. Whitaker told Mr. Langis. Private-equity companies "are not necessarily out in the market scanning for new talent all the time," she notes.
Ms. Darling believes Mr. Langis could further heighten his visibility if he gave speeches, wrote trade-press articles and taught Webinars for alumni of schools where he received degrees. "When you are a speaker, you are instantly networking with 100 people," she says.
Mr. Langis addressed a College of Southern Nevada class last week at the invitation of his handyman's son, who is a student there. He says he told business students "what I do and how I got there." His last campus speaking engagement occurred around 1998, the executive recalls.
-- Get a bigger payoff from industry events. Mr. Langis usually finds himself so busy doing turnarounds that he lacks time for meetings of the Turnaround Management Association, a professional group. Ms. Darling says he should find the time to help the group arrange for speakers because he'll earn a program mention that pops up in Google when hiring managers check his name.
Mr. Langis rejected some of the recommendations, such as using Twitter. With brief Twitter messages, Ms. Daniel believes, he could update contacts about his search and alert them about interesting articles. "Give and take is what networking is all about," she says.
Mr. Langis, though, considers Twitter to be "a little bit hokey." Nevertheless, "I'm willing to try new things," he says.
His multi-month job search is "just taking longer than usual," Mr. Langis observes. But with these new strategies, he's confident that his hunt will soon experience its own turnaround.