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Harness the power of your LinkedIn tools, network

July 16, 2013 in LinkedIn Tips, Networking Tips

LinkedInOnce you’ve compiled a strong LinkedIn profile, it’s tempting to grow complacent, “check it off the list,” and feel confident that people interested in you professionally can find you easily.

While that’s true to a degree, don’t ignore the advantages of using LI tools to find professional peers, hiring managers, and interesting companies before they come looking. The site makes researching prospective employers, professions, backgrounds, and industry issues and scuttlebutt infinitely easier than it’s ever been. Even if you’re lucky enough to be satisfactorily employed, use these LI features to stay current and explore future opportunities.

Following is a link to a great primer from the LinkedIn blog for putting your network to work for you. An excellent feature of the post is sample messages for requesting informational interviews and the like.

BTW, after lamenting at a support meeting that I wasn’t getting as many informational interviews as I expected, I was dismayed to be told that I shouldn’t actually be using the phrase “information interview.” “All they’re going to see is ‘interview,’ and they’ll think you want a job.”  

Big turnoff, in other words.

I’m amazed that in all the advice I’ve read, heard or seen about requesting such interviews, and how eager people are talk about what they do, I’ve never seen a warning against using the actual words in your request.

A teaser: “Instead of starting your job search with job postings, start with the people you know. Where do they work? Where did they used to work? Who do they know? What advice and introductions can they provide?” (Lindsey Pollak, April 29, 2013)

While this is definitely more labor intensive and emotionally trying than firing off resumes on a hope and a prayer, it’s also irrefutably more effective in the long run if you go about it thoughtfully and methodically. And practice makes perfect. Jobgroup meetings are a safe, organic way to slip into networking mode while getting good information.

For the full text, visit:

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Tap LinkedIn groups for info, advice, peer support

April 29, 2013 in LinkedIn Tips, Networking Tips

Below is a link to a brief, very good post containing some intermediate-level tips for using LinkedIn effectively in your career search.

A quick teaser: “Join your college alumni groups: Use the fact that you have something in common to network within those groups.” (Chelsea P. Gladden, director of marketing for FlexJobs,)

Good advice, but I’d extend it far beyond alumni groups, to professional groups on LI that are in your particular area of expertise. Apart from career advice or contacts, they’re a great source of industry insights, info, and collegiality. As a full-time substitute teacher who gets precious little feedback from regular teachers and school staff, I’ve found that LI group to be invaluable for learning how other subs handle countless tricky situations. I’ve also offered up advice based on hard-won experience.

For the whole article, visit:


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Even with dim job prospects, ‘free agency’ isn’t for everyone

April 21, 2013 in Networking Tips, Other Tools & Resources

Those of us pondering our employment options, or the lack thereof, have no doubt heard or read advice from various “experts” touting the rewards of self employment.

If you don’t like your present position, can’t find suitable employment, or simply can’t beg enough hours to fund your gluten-free groceries, the experts crow, invent your own job. Start your own business.

It’s just that simple. (Cue finger snap).

Well, not really. But who’s going to listen to you or read your blog if you emphasize the challenges?

There’s abundant competition in Portland, where, as we’re told, young people move to retire (or open food carts, build custom bikes, or launch adult kickball leagues).

Or create a hybrid of sorts, as one fellow I saw last summer at OMSI’s Inventor’s Fair managed by allowing customers to pedal power a blender to make their own smoothies. Can’t get much greener—or “Portlandia”ier than that!

In an article picked up by Mac’s List (of which I’m a big fan), Laura Schlafly, a breezy career guru (in both senses) who blogs at, extols the virtues of ‘free agency”; for the uninitiated, this is an upbeat term for working as an independent contractor in a given field such as, ahem, writing blog posts.

In fact, the article cites, of which I’m marginally a member, as “ a great web portal where free agents can hang out a virtual shingle and where potential clients can post the jobs.” I have to differ with the “great.” I see as a higher-end content mill that pays peanuts to would-be writers desperate for bylines and experience. Nothing *wrong* with that, if you have your eyes open. I suspect the situation echoes Elance’s other professional categories.

I’ve never scored a writing or editing assignment; neither, however, have I put much effort into it. It’s hard to take seriously a site for professional writers that seeks bidders whose first language is English and who know grammar and how to beat plagiarism-detection software.

Pollyannish about free agency prospects for the “mal-,” or unemployed, the article notably omits temping from this category, as being subject to the whims of recruiting agencies, fixed-length, no-benefit contracts and predetermined levels of pay.

That’s reasonably logical. Such is the competition that decent temp jobs are almost as hard to find these days as lucrative freelance gigs in most fields. I speak from experience.

A teaser for the article:

“Here are four reasons you should consider becoming a free agent:

1. Changed economic conditions<>present shortened job cycles, more project work, and budget-cutbacks.

2. Attitude shifts have created acceptance of the virtual work environment.

3. The Internet gives us technology like Skype and Google Hangout.

4. Free agents can more easily avoid ageism issues.”

As a freelance writer and editor and, sort of, teacher (full-time substitute)—I can tell you it ain’t easy making ends meet, or making as much as you would with a different job in your field, more or less. It takes nerves of steel to go into business for yourself.

I’m not entrepreneurial enough to have ever tried it full time.

Those who promote themselves as “free agents” by any other name (consultant, often) on LinkedIn used to intimidate me; after having coffee with a few, however, I found that most of them, bless their souls, are struggling like many of us to stay afloat.

Success, such as eking out a reasonable living, can take years, lots of savvy and cat food (minus the cats), and adjustable expectations. If that’s you, please take a deep bow.

To read the full version, visit

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Making better use of LinkedIn

March 26, 2013 in LinkedIn Tips, Networking Tips

I’m trying to get in the habit of posting updates on LinkedIn of my activities, other than changes to my profile itself, which LI broadcasts automatically. Citing interesting articles I’ve read, for example, particularly ones around which I’ve written a Jobgroup blog post, seems like a good way to share my interests and concerns with likeminded readers. It also, hopefully, steers readers to the blog, which benefits Jobgroup, and simply demonstrates that I’m engaged and interested in more than just a paycheck.

In other words, it shows that I’m a shameless self promoter …LinkedInGroups1

But seriously, posting updates is among the suggestions in a Huffington Post tech blog about how to exploit useful, albeit often underused LinkedIn features. I’ve provided a link to the full text below.

I’ve found LinkedIn groups, another feature cited in the blog, very useful as well. Another suggestion is using tags to organize your connections, a use I’d never considered but that I plan to exploit. If you’re new to or uncertain as to whether you’re making good use of LI, this article is a very worthwhile read.

A teaser: ‘”Groups You May Like” is a list of groups that are automatically selected for you based on “similar attributes between you and other members in groups (such as companies, schools, or industries in common).” Essentially, the more information you provide to LinkedIn in your profile, the more effectively LinkedIn will be able to recommend groups that you’re going to be interested in.

‘Joining a group and getting involved in discussions that relates to your area of expertise is one of the best ways to generate new contacts, learn what professionals in your field are talking about, and present your expert knowledge.’   (Adam Kirr, Huff Post Tech blogger)

Speaking of LI, I upgraded (for free) to a premium account last year via my membership in LinkedIn for Journalists, thus gaining access to InMail, as well as the ability to see everyone who has viewed my profile. I’m curious as to how many of you have InMail access, and how you use it. It’s a nice tool to touch base with virtually anyone on LinkedIn without having to rely to an introduction from a connection (assuming one is forthcoming, or that your first degree connection actually even knows the person in question. I’ve found that often, as with Facebook, I get invitations to connect with people with whom I have no acquaintance, but who seem to simply think it’s important to have as many “connections” as possible.

Because of that, I’ve begun using InMail to introduce myself, as succinctly as purposefully as possible, to people to whom I would never had had access to without it. Another disadvantage to the introduction process is that it sometimes a long time for connections simply to acknowledge receiving the request, let alone acting on it. As I do with Facebook, many members check their LI pages only occasionally.

Please let me know if and how you make use of InMail.

And happy hunting …

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Industry organizations are a great job-search tool

March 18, 2013 in Networking Tips, Other Tools & Resources

Over the past 20 years or so I’ve been a member of several associations of professional writers and editors. I found them quite valuable, as many of you no doubt have as well, in fostering friendships, professional relationships and job leads, as well as sources of industry scuttlebutt and insights.

Because of this experience, I’m sharing a link to a good, brief article from a networking specialist who lobbies hard for connecting with such associations within your targeted industry.

Apart from briefly writing resumes and cover letters professionally, I’ve never done technical writing or editing professionally. I did, however, take several such classes as part of a certificate program in which I enrolled at a Bellevue, Wash., community college (in which my tuition was picked up by WorkSource. Yay!).

At the same time, I took my first real stab at networking by joining the Society for Technical Communication as a student. I had a bit of an inferiority complex about it—many of the members I met had less writing and editing experience than me, yet had lucrative jobs with MicroSoft and dozens of other Puget Sound IT firms.

Nonetheless, I wrote and edited copy as a volunteer for the chapter’s newsletter just as it got a major overhaul, went online, and won some awards, and I collected some solid clips and recommendations.

I’ve volunteered for nearly every association I’ve joined; apart from the reward of contributing, it’s a great way to showcase your skills and get some exposure. Choose your duties advantageously and commit your time carefully: Know how to say “No” firmly when you simply don’t have the time or inclination.

The article begins:  “Industry or professional organizations are some of the best job search resources anywhere. These can be fantastic because they are a direct connection for you to people in your field—including potential hiring managers, but that’s not your only benefit here. You can expand your network, you can learn a lot about your field, and you can often find out about jobs that aren’t necessarily listed on national job boards.”  (, 2013)


Visit for the full article. I highly recommend it.

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Numbers don’t lie … it is who you know, dang it!

February 12, 2013 in Networking Tips

For anyone out there still in denial regarding the absolute necessity of networking, some hard numbers are in. This New York Times biz story posted on CNBC offers irrefutable evidence that employers increasingly are relying on personal referrals from present employees to fill those empty offices, cubes, and retail and service sector slots.

The article also notes the increasing use of LinkedIn to locate suitable job candidates.

A teaser:

LinkedIn has altered the hiring landscape, making it easy for recruiting departments to trace connections between job candidates and their own employees by using LinkedIn’s database and software.

LinkedIn has also eaten into the bottom line of and other online job sites as well as that of traditional recruiters, said Craig A. Huber, an experienced stock analyst at Huber Research Partners who covers LinkedIn and

(Nelson D. Schwartz, NY Times, Jan. 28, 2013)

Update those LI profiles and keep circulating. Volunteer in an area in which you have professional interests. Reach out. Help other people. Join LI groups appropriate to your interests. Find industry associations.

Check out MOOCs (massive, open, online university courses such as those offered by Coursera) that look interesting. Despite a recent, very public black eye (more about that later …), these programs are an amazing new tool, and free is a great price.

Stop clogging up those “Monster”ous cyber worm holes with shotgunned resumes and cover letters and do your homework.

It all matters!

To read the Times article in its entirety, take a deep breath and visit

Happy hunting!

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Circulate, Circulate, Circulate …

January 21, 2013 in Networking Tips

I altered my job-hunting reality last summer while attending meetings of Jobgroup and other career-development organizations. As a tutor and substitute teacher, I had the summer off, albeit unpaid. I used this valuable time to re-examine my professional prospects, as hopes of a permanent teaching position continued to dim.

Partly as a result of what I learned, I shake my head now when I hear or read stories about job seekers despairing that they can’t land an interview despite having sent out hundreds of resumes. After sharing the same frustration for years, I concluded that shotgunning resumes to Monster, CareerBuilder, et al, is a waste of time.


Given my recent enlightenment and the dismal economy, I’m dismayed that job seekers persist in seeking work this way.

I’ve concluded that, like most of us, these people aren’t natural networkers and are avoiding the arduous—to many of us–task of engaging strangers at meetings and letting them know what they can and want to do professionally, not to mention listening to their compatriot of the moment.

They still don’t understand that their resumes and cover letters, regardless of their caliber, are simply vanishing into digital black holes. I’ve learned the hard—not to mention the surest—way that the inability, or unwillingness, to circulate virtually guarantees such a fate.

My outlook really changed when I realized that rather than seeking ways to avoid networking, I’d accepted that there was no way around it and determined to learn how to do it effectively and follow up. I lost my fear.

I immersed myself in LinkedIn usage, fleshed out my profile, and made connections, many of which have proved useful. Connections that aren’t useful offhand can’t hurt.

While circulating in person and digitally via LI hasn’t resulted in a flood of job offers, it’s given me loads of new, valuable information and insights that continue to shape and refine how I research and pursue professional improvement.

Get out there, stay out there; find ways to make it work for you. It can be exhausting, but there’s no way around it.

And if it’s not too much trouble, let me know what you think of these posts.