Just Ivy Leaguers for these Bush League Recruiters?

I have blogged before about Nick Corcodilos and his book Ask the Headhunter – I can’t recommend this book enough to job hunters and am most thankful to my friend David White who first directed me to it. Nick’s new book will help you work effectively with headhunters, too.

Nick doesn’t mince words when it comes to HR recruiters: you should avoid them, to the extent possible. Instead, connect directly with the hiring manager and “do the job in the interview.” Ask the Headhunter tells you how. Do that and you’re home free…right?

I hope Nick doesn’t stroke out from this recent question posed on the Job Doc section of the Boston Globe website (also appeared in the August 9 Boston Sunday Globe). In a nutshell, the fellow of a think tank organization has an opening for an assistant. He knows who he wants to hire. He has worked with the candidate before. The candidate has a strong work and academic record. Not so fast…

None of this, however, negates their HR department’s top-ranked snobbishness. They would rather hire an Ivy Leaguer with a degree in something completely different. They do not even entertain applications from lower-ranked schools. This fellow has gone through four assistants in three years because his HR people keep giving him Ivy League grads who are experts in other fields. The position involves actual skills (lots of math) that a philosophy major from Harvard can’t learn on his/her own.

I am not the entitled type, but this is bordering on ridiculous…We both anticipate this being a problem but don’t know how to approach it.

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Job Seekers Getting Attention: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Source: evo_terra (Flickr)

Source: evo_terra (Flickr)

I recently came across CornOnTheJob.com, a blog by Philadelphia-based headhunter Rich DeMatteo. Helping job seekers with good advice is important to Rich, as it is to me, and I enjoyed visiting Rich’s blog. Rich just posted on a topic that was on my on-deck circle: job candidates “thinking outside the box” to gain attention. There are definitely many job seekers acting “outside the box”…but I’m not so sure these folks were “thinking.”

The Boston Globe did a very good piece on “outside the box” (more like “beyond the pale,” unfortunately) job seekers making spectacles of themselves, including, among others, Pasha Stocking of Connecticut who blew $2,500 for her “HIRE ME!” billboard that earned the “odd news” type of national media attention…but no job opportunities.

Since that Globe article, others have joined this group of job hunters gaining attention, but not the “good” kind of attention that will land them a job. Chances are you have heard of one Trina Thompson, who has sued the college she graduated from seven short months ago because she remains unemployed. Now we can all agree this is the worst public spectacle attention a job candidate can get. Rich gives Thompson a well deserved dressing-down along with some good common-sense advice that Trina Thompson should have done already (join LinkedIn, look into a resume writing professional, etc.). The Onion sums up Thompson’s hapless lawsuit with suitable irreverence. Litigious mediocrity is not a good personal brand to embrace, Trina…

But Rich DeMatteo and I have agreed to disagree on the virtue of an “outside the box” tactic by Sean Christman, a recent La Salle graduate.

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Job Hunters, Read this Book: Ask the Headhunter (Book Review)

I was in a job interview and I opened a book and started reading.  The [HR recruiter] said, “What the hell are you doing?!” I said, “Look, I have one question for you. If you are in a spaceship that’s traveling at the speed of light, and you turn on the headlights, does anything happen?” She said, “I don’t know!” I said, “Forget it, I don’t want the job.” – Stephen Wright

Submitting job applications online, waiting for responses after interviews, braving overcrowded job fairs…this is what most people may think of when imagining the necessary components of a job search.

But there is a better way: show the hiring manager directly the compelling work value you will provide. So says Nick Corcodilos, former headhunter and author of the book Ask the Headhunter: Reinventing the Interview to Win the Job.  I owe some serious thanks to my friend David White, a business intelligence researcher for Aberdeen Group, for referring me to this book very early in my layoff-induced job search. If you feel like you’re banging your head against the wall getting nowhere in your job search, read this book.

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Introverts: Not Networking is Not an Option! (A Brief Interview with Holland-Mark CEO Chris Colbert)

I am happy to report that I successfully bounced back from a surprise April 2009 layoff from a former employer and landed a great new job two months later.  Networking made all the difference in the world.  In fact, in terms of what really worked in my job search, networking was the world.

Just to be clear, this is NOT effective networking! (Source: University of Melbourne, Australia)

Just to be clear, this is NOT effective networking! (Source: University of Melbourne, Australia)

Without networking, I never would have found this job, or for that matter, another good offer for an appealing extended consulting opportunity. I was not one of hundreds of resumes in someone’s email inbox. Neither opportunity was advertised anywhere. In fact, the opportunities were not even fully defined yet when I first explored them.

If I did not have my network which I initiated before I was laid off, if I had not cultivated my network with new contacts after I was laid off, I would still be unemployed.  It’s that critical.

Holland-Mark CEO Chris Colbert led a thought-provoking presentation at last week’s Bentley University Success Network meeting which I believe inspired attendees to build and nurture their networks.  Effective networking is made possible by your personal brand (Brand U); who you are and what makes you unique (what Chris refers to as your One Simple Thing).  Chris’ presentation was recorded and should be available on the Bentley University website soon (stay tuned).

I spoke yesterday with Chris about his presentation and dug a little deeper on how job searchers predisposed to introverted behavior might be at a disadvantage, as they might be more reticient or even shy about approaching others and developing a network to succeed in their job search.  The bottom line is clear: Not networking is not an option.  But introverts out there who bristle at the thought of getting out there and networking should take heart: Networking is not about winning a popularity contest or using phony flattery to manipulate others to help you.  At its core, networking is all about being authentic.

Read on for my chat with Chris Colbert.  I hope you find it helpful.

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Working Effectively with Search Firms: Bentley University Panel Discussion

Bentley Success Network Panel Discussion Search Firms
Bentley University Success Network Panel Discussion. Pictured L to R: Peter Wollford, Judy Dumont, Mike Urbonas, Jon Mahoney and Steve Mazur. Photo by Bentley alum Marci Reynolds.
 

I was honored yesterday (Tuesday, June 2) to serve as facilitator/host of a panel discussion during the Bentley University Success Network featuring four search firm professionals discuss how to find a “good” professional recruiter and work effectively with him or her, as well as how to stand out in today’s difficult job market.

I would like to express my great appreciation to the panelists:

  • Judy Dumont, Sally Silver Companies
  • Jon Mahoney, Hollister
  • Steve Mazur, Accountants International
  • Peter Wollford, Kforce

Here are a few highlights of the panel discussion…

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The Glass is 2x Too Large!

If you use AOL Mail, you have probably noticed the random splash screen below, with two different descriptions designed to make everyone happy in the “glass half empty or half full” debate:

AOL-Email-Half-Empty-Glass-Half-Full-Glass-Mike-Urbonas-blog

Of course, being an optimist also tends to come in rather handy for product marketers and managers, not to mention fellow job searchers amid this economy!

I have just built out a new Publications and Presentations page, including my writing samples, presentations, byline articles, and articles written for Productivity, the Boston Product Management Association (BPMA) e-newsletter. I have also added some articles, written by others, which I solicited for publication in Productivity. This includes a very practical article on Optimism: The Hidden Asset by author Bruna Martinuzzi, and more.

Glass-half-empty-half-fullAs for the glass debate: While an optimist will say the glass is half full, the pessimist will say the glass is half empty, I have concluded that the product manager and product marketer will conclude revealing research and effectively message that the glass is 50% 2x too large, resulting in the smaller glass that customers really want, cutting production costs and improving margins! You GO, product marketers and managers!

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Me 2.0 Sure Beats “Me Too” (Me 2.0 Book Review)

I am thankful to have met David Meerman Scott a number of times over the years, including welcoming him as a guest speaker at past Boston Product Marketing Association events. I’ll hazard a guess that it is likely you have David Meerman Scott’s WebInkNow blog bookmarked already; if not, you’ll probably want to once you visit his site.

Me 2.0 Book - Dan SchawbelRecently David Meerman Scott featured 20-something author – and fellow Bentley University alum – Dan Schawbel on his blog. Although just starting out in his post-Bentley career, Dan Schawbel has already racked up some impressive accolades old 40-something guys like me would be very proud of. He has positioned himself as a personal branding expert, with a self-branding blog and magazine, and now a brand new book hot on the shelves: Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success.

I can vouch for the value of Dan’s advice in his book, not to mention his wise advice in his free e-book Blogging Your Brand (PDF), which I have found indispensible as I get this blog, and in so doing, my own personal brand, off the ground.

David Meerman Scott’s discussion with Dan Schawbel is well worth reading in its entirety. A few specific comments from Dan Schawbel I found of particular personal interest follow:

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