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!

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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!

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