Thursday, March 11, 2010

Retraining - 8 Questions to Check Out the Program Before You Sign

Training for a New Career

The job losses that the US has sustained over the past two years has been devastating. Even more devastating is the fact that many of these jobs are gone forever. If you are one of the individuals and your job is GONE; what do you do?

One of the obvious options is retraining or obtaining additional education. These are both reasonable and viable options but you must use caution.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of educational programs available from independent organizations and universities; but their quality, completeness, and value varies tremendously.

Here are eight questions you must have answered before you commit.

  1. What are the typical employer's requirements for a new hire for this position?
  2. Is there hands-on experience required before you can be hired?
  3. Have you given the program a thorough check?
  4. What are the future job prospects for the position?
  5. What is the recent experience of the program graduates?
  6. What is the experience of those that completed the program in the Past 5?
  7. Does the program offer a recognized certificate, degree, or certification?
  8. What organizations accept the certificate, degree, or certification and how does it impact you?
What Are the Typical Employer's Requirements for a New Hire for This Position?

Before you sign up for any educational program understand the employer's requirements for a new hire. Many employers have specific requirements that new hires must possess, but that does not mean that all educational programs meet these requirements.

Some Jobs Require a Specified Amount of Hands-On Experience Before You Can Be Hired

Some careers require, especially in medical technologies, require that prospective employees have a specified number of procedures completed through an internship.

I have a friend that went to school to become a phlebotomist. When she applied for positions she learned that to be employed in this capacity she was required to have 400 blood draws through an internship or other practical experience. Her program did not have this as part of her curriculum; so she could not get a job. She had to find an internship program to provide her with this experience.

Just Like Other Promotions and Promises; You Need To Carefully Check Out Educational Programs

Today we are constantly exposed to advertisements on TV, the Internet, and Radio guaranteeing certain results for all kinds of products - including educational and training institutions. You must be wary of these claims and check them out carefully. In today's job market a claim that you WILL be hired had better be backed up by a written, money back guarantee.

Many people are desperate for work and willing to listen to and become susceptible to the promises. Be careful and check out the program completely.

What Are the Future Job Prospects For the Training You Want?

Many educational and training programs make very appealing promises; if the promises are too good to be true - they probably are. You must watch out for the scams. Obviously one of the things you must be looking for are not only college accreditations but also program accreditations. Just because the college is accredited does not mean that all of their programs are accredited.

Accreditation can be important for employer acceptance of the program, but also if you decide to pursue a graduate or doctoral program. If the school where you earn your degree or certification is not accredited; your course work will not be accepted by other schools at the same level or for advanced programs.

What Is The Recent Experience of the Program Graduates?

Check out the success of recent graduates in securing employment.

  • Are the former students finding jobs?
  • Is the school helping or did the school help with the search?
  • Are the former students getting the jobs they were led to expect?
  • What problems, if any, have they encountered, is the program helping them as must as they were led to expect?
  • If they had it do over again, would they? Why or why not?
What Is The Experience of Those That Completed the Program in the Past 5 Years?

Check out the success of those that completed the program in the past 5 years.

  • Are they happy in their jobs?
  • Are they still in the same career field?
  • Are they still happy with their choice for their education?
  • What problems, if any, did they encounter?
  • If they had it do over again, would they? Why or why not?
Does the Program offer a Recognized Certificate, Degree, or Certification?

What is the certificate, degree, or certification offered by the program? Talk to potential employers and ask them if the certificate or even more fundamentally the training of value to them in their hiring process?

What Organizations Accept the Certificate, Degree, or Certification and How Does It Impact You?

What organizations and groups accept or recognize the certificate, degree, or certification? Does this certificate or degree as valuable as other alternatives? What difference does it make (pay, prestige, promotion, assignments, etc.)?

Does the Program Guarantee Employment?

What guarantees does the program offer? Are the guarantees written? How many times have they had to pay students because the program did not perform as stated?

Does the Organization Have a Placement Office?

Does the organization have a placement office? Who is the contact? Follow up and check it out. How many current job requisitions do they have from companies that hire those with the skills they teach?

Additional education or retraining programs today are important to the job seeker, but do not get taken in by good marketing. Assess the program, compare it to other programs, check it out thoroughly so you can make an informed decision.

Copyright Tom Staskiewicz

About the Author

"Who Knows You?" and "Are You Attracting the Attention You Want?" Additional education or credentials can further your career; if they are the correct ones. Check the programs out; not only are you investing your money, you are investing a lot of time. Make sure it is worth it!

Get Our Tips and more at UPPROACH

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Networking Paralysis - Six Reasons We Fail at Networking

Are You Paralyzed By the Idea of Networking?

From the people that I talk to; you would think that networking ranks right up there with the other major fears in life: things like public speaking and death. When I talk to friends about networking it is as if I have offended them. They are so put off by the idea that they appear insulted.

Is That You? Ask Yourself These Questions

  • Are you put off by the idea of networking?
  • Does the idea of networking paralyze you?
  • Are you convinced that you are inept or incapable of networking and therefore you can not or will not network.
  • Are you afraid to talk to new people?
  • Are you afraid that you will not know what to say or how to start?
  • Does it scare you that you may get into a conversation that you do not want?
I used to suffer from many of those same fears and, at times, I still do. You know what; those are all legitimate fears - albeit unnecessary.

Networking Paralysis

Here are some of the reasons I believe people become paralyzed when it comes to networking.

  • Fear of rejection.
  • Desperate to network.
  • Failure to follow through.
  • Poor networking technique.
  • Thinking that networking is only about asking for something.
  • Failure to launch.

Fear of Rejection

Many people are adverse to networking simply because they are afraid that when they approach someone to network; they will be turned down.

Many people feel that a synonym for rejection is failure and that is not the case. The reality is that some of the people that you want for connections will turn you down. That, however, is not a failure on your part. We cannot let rejections get us down; because there is always someone else just around the corner to be a connection.

Desperate to network

Many people wait until they need their network before they start building the network and as a result they scare off those with whom they want to network. There is a belief that the only reason people network is to sell themselves or some product. Although much selling occurs, the reality is that networking is the process of getting to know someone and to learn about that person and their business. If through those conversations it is learned that you or a product you have will solve a problem for your new friend let the selling begin. The thing you do not want to do is lead with the sales pitch. Nothing will turn off your prospective networking partner more than that.

Ideally you should be building your network all the time; so you are not and do not have the appearance of being desperate. As you meet people you should be adding them to your network and as you add them lead with the question "What can I do for you?". Networking is first and foremost about giving.

Failure to Follow Through

The failure to follow through is one of the saddest reasons for networking paralysis. Someone provides you with a lead and it just sits there; never acted upon. When you receive a lead you should get on it and make the contact. You should report back to the person that provided the contact and tell them how appreciative you are that they thought of you. You should also keep them apprised of the development of that lead.

Opportunities often come knocking in the form of a lead and we cannot afford to let them wither and die without taking any action. When the reference comes, be prepared and follow through.

Poor Networking Technique

Striking up a conversation with a new networking contact can be a difficult process if you do not know what you are doing. You must have ice breakers that go beyond the traditional "Nice Weather We Are Having". To effectively network you must be able to engage the person in meaningful conversation. Starting with something to the effect of "How do you know the event organizer?" or "What enticed you to come to this event?" Have follow up questions ready to keep the conversation flowing. People like to talk about themselves and they will if you give them the chance.

Thinking That Networking Is Only About Asking for Something

Maybe being asked for something is your past experience or you are so focused on your situation that all you can do is ask is the problem. The reality is that networking is much more than asking for something. It is more about asking what you can do for the other person. How can you help? What do they need? Networking is a two way process and effective networkers realize that. They are out there looking for opportunities to teach and share. They realize that at a time in the future this willingness to give of themselves will come back in rich rewards.

You cannot go into networking simply looking and expecting to receive. It just does not work that way and your initial success will be washed away.

Failure To Launch

Many networking careers never see the light of day because of this fear. This is the networker that is always looking for that one last piece of the puzzle. That last little cog in the wheel. There will always be opportunity to improve on your networking capabilities, but the reality is that until you get out there and try you will never know what it is that you must work on. The failure to launch costs millions of lucrative careers and business opportunities every year. When you get the good idea; you must go with it and start the process moving. There will always be time for refining and perfecting.

The Need To Build Your Network

Expanding your network adds value to both you, the individual, and the rest of your network. Each new connection is an expansion in your sphere of influence and their sphere of influence, it is also an expansion in the sphere of influence for your connections. Your network has tremendous value to the others in your network and that value increases with each new connection.

I talk to successful business people and ask about what led to their success and what role networking played in the process and the answers literally stun me. They will tell me that they are not a networker and that they never have been. Then I will hear the story about how they came to be in their current position and guess what? Even though they were not a networker and even though they were not seeking the role than occupy; someone found them!

Whether they were actively networking or not; their networks are working on their behalf. Why is that? How could a network be working on behalf of someone that has not announced their active interest in looking for a new opportunity?

I am an advocate for networking and I can talk at length about the importance of networking and what networks can do for you and your career. I was not always like that. Making new friends and reaching out to strangers was difficult for me and at times it is still difficult. I can say that I am getting better and each time it becomes a little easier. For some networking comes naturally and for others it is right up there with speaking in front of a large group and death.

Friday, March 5, 2010

How to Connect With Someone You Do Not Know on LinkedIn

So You Want to Invite Someone You Do Not Know To Join You on LinkedIn

The first thing you must do is verify that they are on LinkedIn. This may sound easy, but there are a lot of people with the same name, so you must investigate further than a simple name search.

Now that you have confirmed that this is in fact a LinkedIn member and you have the correct person; how do you proceed?

Option 1

The first option is to click on the individuals profile and see if you have any connections in common. If you do, then you might consider asking that person for an introduction. I say consider, because you never know how well someone actually knows a connection or if the relationship is a good one.

You can find my article on this part of your question Networking Referrals and Recommendations: by reviewing my list of articles on Ezine. The article goes into more detail on questions to ask of the person about their relationship and familiarity with your target and how to vet the contact.

Option 2

The second option is to review the individual's profile for where they currently work or have worked in the past. Do a company search and see if there is anyone in your network that comes up as a current or former employee of these companies and ask them if they know the person and would facilitate an introduction.

Option 3

Third, from the individuals profile find out if they are members of any groups and consider joining the group. Once you are in the group you could send an invite saying that you belong to the same group and that you have heard great things about the individual and that you would like to connect.

Option 4

Fourth, if you have their email address you can simply send an invite, but this one is a little tougher and I don't recommend it as a great option. If you do this you run the risk of receiving an IDK (I Don't Know) and it can cause invite issues with LinkedIn. They don't black list you, but anytime you try to go with a simple friend request you must provide an email address.

On that note if someone invites you to connect and you do not want to connect; be polite and archive the message; do not send an IDK!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Job Seeker - Critical Success Factors

My Job Is Gone - Now What?

Many jobs that disappeared will never come back. Either they have gone off-shore, been replaced by technology, or it was determined they did not provide the value to keep them. This doesn’t mean that the person in the job was not valuable, but that the position did not provide the necessary value.

If your job was out sourced overseas or replaced by technology; you must be looking at how you can transition your skill set to another career. You may find a similar position, but chances are that, at the new company, the position will eventually be replaced and in the meantime the pay is most likely not at your previous level.

You Must Constantly Be Updating Your Skills

We all must be continually updating our skill sets. If you are not moving forward, there is no standing still; just falling further and further behind. The ball is truly in your court and you must make the most of it. You can ONLY do this by building your skills.

Critical Success Factors

The Critical Success Factors that a job seeker must possess include:

1. A personal network that can be tapped for information and help.
2. An appearance and wardrobe that are appropriate for the opportunity. If you are not sure what is appropriate, contact someone that works there or camp out in the parking lot and observe the people coming and going.
3. A specific goal. If you present as a “jack or jill of all trades” that will be the type of job and pay level that you receive.
4. A value proposition. What makes you different and sets you apart? Why should the hiring manager; hire you?
5. A resume that tells the job seeker’s story.
6. Interviewing skills.

For more networking tips and ideas read the other posts and visit UPPROACH.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Raise Your Hand If You Love Networking

This came through my mailbox earlier today from Kevin Donlan and I felt it was worth passing along.

Hey, job seekers: Raise your hand if you love networking.

I thought so.

And why don't you get a thrill out of talking to friends and family about
your job search?

For many folks, it's a problem of how to start. There's really no way to
ask, "Know anyone who's hiring?" without feeling awkward.

To fix that, here are two ways to open your next networking conversation
that are proven to produce job leads -- and won't make you feel self-conscious

1) Use Me as an Excuse to Call
Over the past year, I've quietly been perfecting a short networking script
at my Guerrilla Job Search seminars.

In every case, at least one person in the room gets a job lead -- in less
than 5 minutes.

Here's the four-part script that people are using to start networking
conversations by phone, with explanatory notes in parentheses:

1. "Hi, this is YOUR NAME! I'm at a training session and they told me to
call the most-connected person I know. That's you!"

(This gets you over the hump right away, by giving you an excuse to call.
Here, that excuse is me -- just say that somebody else told you to call.)

2. "I'm looking for a position as a JOB TITLE at a company like COMPANY #1,

(You have to think first, about what JOB you want and 3 COMPANIES you most
want to work for.)

3. "Who would you call if you were in my shoes?"

(You're asking someone to take ownership of your problem, by putting their
ego aside and thinking as if they were you. Simple psychology that's very

4. "Could I have their name and number?"

(Write it down. Hang up. Call that new person and drop the name of the
person you called first.)

For best results, use this script to call the most-connected person you
know -- the one person who seems to know almost everybody.

Here are three examples of how this has worked in my seminars:

1. Ellen in Minneapolis, MN, got a networking lead at the chamber of
commerce after calling a friend.

2. Greg in Fargo, ND, got a lead on a pharmaceutical sales job by calling a

3. Pete in Chanhassen, MN, got the name of an HR rep by calling a colleague
he had fallen out of touch with.

2) Use an Object as a Conversation Starter
Chris Russell, founder of, warns that a false sense of pride
can hurt your job search, recalling a friend who struggled mightily to get
hired. "He would never tell people that he was out of work, even his former
co-workers. I guess he was embarrassed."

Russell points out that, when it comes to your job search, you should look
for any excuse to start a conversation.

One such excuse may be the "Laid Off, Need a Job" wristband.

Described as an "attention getting conversation starter" by its makers, the
wristband retails for $3 and comes in bright yellow, with the message, "I
Need A Job."

The idea is, you put wear the wristband each day, people see it, ask about
your job search, and -- shazam! Instant networking conversation. More
information is at

Two other tactics I've seen are renting a billboard (pricey) and wearing a
T-shirt with your resume on it (no verifiable successes).

Now. How else could you get attention and start networking conversations?

Here's an idea: Stick a magnetic sign on the side of your car.

For less than $95, Kinko's can create one for you. Your sign's message
could be on two lines, like this:

Need Accounting Help?

Nobody wants to hire, but almost every business needs help, so don't use
"Hire me!" or "U-M Grad Will Work Cheap" as your headline.

The format I would follow is: "Need YOUR SKILL Help? CONTACT INFO."

Test several ideas on cardboard mockup signs and drive them past people, to
see if they can read your contact info at 25 or 40 miles an hour.

(Note: I practice what I preach -- look for my black SUV around the Twin
Cities with a magnetic sign on the side that says, "Got Work? My New Job
Hunt .com")

Do these conversation-starting ideas make you feel uncomfortable? Good!

Because, if you've been comfortable thus far in your job search, and you're
still unemployed, it may be time to leave your comfort zone and try
something new.

Kevin Donlin is co-author of Guerrilla Resumes. Since 1996, he has provided
job-search help to more than 20,000 people. Kevin has been interviewed by
The New York Times, Fox News, ABC TV, CBS Radio and others. To learn more
about how to create a Guerrilla Resume, visit
Cover Letter Examples
151-32500 South Fraser Way, Suite #290, Abbotsford, BC V2T 4W1, CANADA

Friday, December 18, 2009

Quality Recommendations on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Recommendations

Recommendations on LinkedIn are an important part of telling your story; but not just any old recommendation. What is needed are quality recommendations that talk about your accomplishments and contributions to your current and previous organizations.

Take the Lead

The best way to get a quality recommendation is to:
  • Write a quality recommendation for the person you want to recommend you.

  • Submit the recommendation to the individual.

  • Ask the person if you have addressed or made all the points they would like included.

  • Once you have provided the recommendation ask the individual to reciprocate with a recommendation for you.

  • When you receive the recommendation; review it and if you would like changes, you have opened the door with the process you followed writing the initial recommendation.

Give and You Will Receive

Receiving quality recommendations is typical of the Web 2.0 environment. First you give and then you will receive. The consideration and concern that you show in giving a recommendation will be returned many times over. Show those that you have worked with in the past that they are important. This process provides you with quality recommendations and builds or rebuilds your previous relationship.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Speed Networking - On Your Mark; Get Set; GO!

Speed Networking - Are You Ready?

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a Speed Networking event and it was a great time and opportunity to meet others.

Who will benefit from Speed Networking: Job Seekers, sales people, small business owners, professionals, people who simply like to meet people, people who have a difficult time meeting people, are some that come to mind.

The truth of the matter is that we cannot do things and be totally successful on our own. We need the help and support of others and they need us. Speed Networking is an opportunity to expand your circle of friends and possibly make some long-term friendships.

I found the article below recently and thought you might enjoy hearing from Mr. Misner.

Speed Networking and Beyond

Ivan Misner: Networking
Speed Networking and Beyond
Launch yourself into a new circle of people waiting to talk to you.

By Ivan Misner June 28, 2007

Speed networking programs are showing up all around the world. These events tend to be a fun, exciting and effective way to make a lot of initial connections in a very different environment from the standard business networking meetings.

Speed networking programs generally involve people meeting each other one at a time for a short interval and then moving on to the next person in line. They are fairly structured in the way people queue up to meet. For example, one variation is to have two concentric circles of people. The individuals sit across from one another and after the set time period--generally one or two minutes--the outside circle of people gets up and moves in one direction around the circle until everyone has met.

As founder of the world's largest business referral and networking organization, you might not be surprised to learn that I have some definite opinions and ideas about how to best use speed networking as a tool for creating viable referral partnerships. First, I think speed networking is a great way to meet other business professionals in a short period of time. It's a good tool for business people to apply the "visibility" stage of the VCP Process TM--Visibility, Credibility, Profitability--that I mentioned in my past article, "Build Relationships that Last."

The potential downside to speed networking is if someone thinks this is "all" they have to do to network effectively. The key to making speed networking work, is to take those contacts and develop them over time into "credible" relationships that lead to "profitable" referral partners.
Some people have likened speed networking to speed dating. While there are clearly some similarities, there is also a subtle but significant difference. Speed dating is done to eliminate potential suitors and keep from wasting time on people with whom you share no common interests and no mutual attraction. The presumption is that you are going to follow up with only the ones you connect with during the exercise.

This speaks to why I titled this article "Speed Networking and Beyond." I don't feel speed networking can be used to its potential if you treat it as a means to eliminate potential referral sources. If you're already familiar with my material, you know how I feel about poaching at business events, looking for the big kill. Developing a strong referral base is about developing relationships with a variety of people, even when it seems you have nothing in common.

So how do you go about participating in a speed networking exercise with the proper focus to make the most of your time? Here are several points to consider:

1. Start with the end in mind. You're not there to bag the big one. You're not there to eliminate referral sources or referral partners. You're there to find ways to connect with each and every person you have the opportunity to sit (or stand) in front of for that one- to two-minute period.
If you view the speed networking exercise as a type of catalyst event (see my past article "Using Events to Gain Referrals"), you're already thinking with the end in mind. While you will not, realistically, become close friends with every person in the room, you're increasing your potential referral sources by meeting many people in one setting.

2. Conduct the exercise as a mini interview. Think in terms of what you can find out about the person you're meeting. That'll allow you to help further the goals of that individual. Forget about mining her database or trying to determine who she knows to further your goals. In working to mutually benefit one another, ask questions that'll clarify where and how you can best help your new referral source.

3. Make notes during the exercise. If you're not provided some type of contact card on which you can jot notes while in the exercise, be sure to use your own pad of paper to write down the information you discover. Be sure to note the person's interests and goals you could help achieve.

4. Follow up. If you don't follow up with those you meet during the speed networking exercise, you will only have succeeded in wasting your time--which is exactly what you were trying to avoid by attending the event in the first place. Collect the business cards of each person you sit with during the exercise. The magic happens after the exercise, in the weeks and months to come.

Set appointments with each person, not to convince them they need your product, but with the intention of becoming better acquainted, finding out what their needs are and how you can positively impact their lives. You'll realize the reason you went to the speed networking exercise in the first place: to develop more referral business.

I believe speed networking can work if it's done the right way. It can be a fun, energetic and dynamic way to further your own goals of having a thriving, successful word-of-mouth-based business.

Called the father of modern networking, Dr. Ivan Misner is the Founder of BNI and the senior partner for the Referral Institute. He has written nine books, including his recently released New York Times bestseller, Truth or Delusion? Busting Networking's Biggest Myths.

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