Chris Bigelow

Disparate thoughts and musings…

Archive for Job Search

Why You Should Keep Your Job Search Pipeline Full

Trans Alaska Oil PipelineSo you’ve targeted a company, landed an interview, done your research, and think the interview went well.  You’re excited!  This is “the one!!”

It’s natural at this point to breathe a sigh of relief and want to take a day off.  Maybe two.  Don’t do it!  No matter how well the interview went, or how much you desire to work for that company, you should keep applying to other positions to keep your “pipeline” full.

Why?  That plum opportunity may not turn into an offer.  Or it may not turn into an acceptable offer.  If you let your pipeline go dry while you wait, and bad news comes, you could set your job search back by weeks.  Not good, right?

bigstockphoto_mail_box_with_letters_2482928If you keep it full, the worst case is that you’ll receive multiple job offers.  Oh wait – isn’t that the best case?  And before you write in saying “No one gets multiple job offers in this economy,” let me tell you that is precisely what happened to two friends of mine during their job searches this year.

As of this writing I am awaiting news on the results of interviews with three different companies, the oldest dating back to the first half of September.  What am I doing while I wait?  I am continuing to network and apply to other companies.  In fact, I have an interview with a fourth company this coming Tuesday.

I’ve also attended the Career Navigator job search “boot camp” to brush up on my job search skills.  And I’ve been giving presentations on social media and job search to keep my presentation skills up, blogging to keep my writing skills up… you get the idea.

It’s easy to drop your guard during your job search when you have landed one or more interviews.  Don’t do it – keep your pipeline full.

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3 Web Sites to Consult When Considering Relocation

moving-vanAccording to one blog, some 35 to 39 million (12%-14%) Americans move to new homes each year. Of those, about 4.7 million people move to different states each year. Relocating to a different state can be an intimidating proposition, for dozens of reasons. Today I’ll review some of the financial implications and some handy tools available on the internet to help you make an informed decision.

From a financial perspective, the two key things to think about are the differences in salary and cost of living between two areas. There are lots of salary data web sites that will provide data on what a particular job pays on average in a particular area. Note that there can be significant highs/lows either side of this average.

Avon-Whitsett ComparoOne great web site I have used to compare cost of living between two areas is Sperling’s BestPlaces. While providing a wealth of other information, this site let’s you compare the cost of living between where you live now and where you are considering moving to. Click on the “Cost of Living” tab and follow the prompts. This tool will tell you how much more (or less) expensive your destination city is, what the major driver is in the cost difference, and a table comparing a number of cost of living indexes between the two locations. Sperling’s also has data on schools, crime, and climate.

Another useful web site is City-Data. This site aggregates demographic, weather, census, and other data in one easy to use interface. Type in a potential relocation spot and you can find out just about anything about it. While City-Data does not have the direct cost of living comparison option that Sperling’s does, they have reams of data and a terrific, user supported forums section where you can ask questions or read previous questions/answers about a particular city or town. I’ve found the forums to be invaluable.

Browns Summit schoolsWhile salary and cost of living are key pieces of information to have when considering relocation, another critical factor for those with children is the quality of education available. If you need more education info than the two previously mentioned sites provide, I recommend that you check out Great Schools. One nice feature of this site is that it will compare the schools in your target city with others in surrounding cities to help you figure out which one(s) is (are) best.

Relocation might be stressful, but these tools will help you objectively evaluate your options and aid you in making the best choice for you and your family.

Radio Resume

I’ve never been big on self promotion.  Funny how things change when you’re in job search.  Not only have I learned to self promote now, but I’ve realized that I need to do so for the rest of my career (for some tips, read Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It).

Clear Channel RochesterThis week I thought I’d talk about my experience being on the radio.  Seven of the local Clear Channel radio stations have been running a promotion during the last few months called “Radio Resume”.  This is a free public service they initiated to help unemployed folks advertise their availability.

I learned of this promotion a few weeks before it started and immediately applied.  On 22 July I received a call from the WHAM general manager saying I’d been chosen and on 23 July they called to record my Radio Resume.

What’s a Radio Resume?  It’s a 30 second spot (5 second intro & 25 second pitch).  About 3-4 sentences.  It closes with a request to see your resume on the station’s web site, where all of the Radio Resume participants’ resumes (past and present) are hosted.

Last I checked the promotion was still going on so, if you are unemployed and live in the Rochester area, I recommend you consider applying.  The application process is simple – just enter why you feel you should be chosen – in 300 characters or less.  For those of you on Twitter or LinkedIn, that’s just over two tweets or status updates.

If you are fortunate enough to be called, here are my recommendations:

  • Repeat your name twice
  • Give your title or function
  • Tell the employer what value you will bring to them (this is WHY they hire you, right?)
  • Refer them to your resume on the radio station’s web site (call to action)

Things not to say (either because no one cares or you’re just wasting precious seconds):

  • When you were laid off (or how long)
  • Personal financial details (like bankruptcy or foreclosure)
  • Marital status, number of children, etc.

Write out what you want to say, bold the words you want to emphasize, and add hyphens anywhere you want to pause.  Then practice, practice, practice.  Time yourself.  Whittle it down to a punchy delivery of the bare essentials.  This is radio – your message is only as good as the delivery.  Oh wait!  Isn’t that true of all of your self-marketing materials?

Is a Radio Resume worth the effort?  Absolutely!  Worst case, people in your network will hear it and you will be top of mind with minimal effort on your part.  If they hear of a position that fits you they will remember (and think of) you.  Best case, it can lead to an interview and, possibly, employment.  I know of two people, including myself, that received interviews as a direct result of someone hearing their Radio Resume.

So stop sitting around reading blogs and go apply for a Radio Resume.  And best of luck!

Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It

Have you Googled yourself lately?

When my position was eliminated in February I Googled myself, because outplacement firms and career counselors all say that you want to know what references are on the web about yourself.  Fair enough.  There are two reasons for this (and, no, narcissism is not one of them): one, you want to be sure there is no negative or erroneous information posted about yourself and, two, you want to be “findable” (via positive references).

I was dismayed when I had to wade though the first six to eight pages of Google results before finding any reference to myself.  I think that singular reference was to my LinkedIn profile, as that was about my only web presence at the time.

In the wake of this realization I set out to raise my internet profile and make myself “findable” on Google.  My goal was to show up in the first page or two when someone searched for “Chris Bigelow”.  How did I go about doing this?  I started learning about Social Media and:

I also made it a point to cross reference all of my sites to each other using links.

How did it work out?  Well, I just now Googled “Chris Bigelow” and found my blog (fifth and sixth entries) and Google profile (“eleventh” entry/footer) on the first page of the search results.  On the second page I found my Twitter account (second entry) and a directory of all “Chris Bigelows” on LinkedIn (fifth entry) where, incidentally, I show up as the second directory entry.  That’s five times in the first two pages of results. Much better than my previous showing.

“Fine,” you say.  “So where is this all going?”  Over the course of my job search I have been contacted by numerous recruiters (both internal and external).  They have found me in a variety of ways on line: LinkedIn, Monster, Lynxster and CareerBuilder.

Last week, though, I experienced a first when I was contacted by a corporate recruiter who found me via Google.  And not by searching for “Chris Bigelow”, which was my original expectation behind increasing my web presence.  This recruiter found me by submitting a Boolean search string of attributes desired for a specific open position at that company.  I have to admit that it had never occurred to me that I could be found that way.  Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised.  Later that evening, as a test, I entered the Boolean search string “engineer AND lean AND ‘powder coat’” into Google and didn’t I show up as the second and sixth entries on the first page of results.  Wow!  Powerful stuff.  The next day I was discussing this incident with a friend who is an independent recruiter and he said that the best, cutting-edge recruiters are now employing this technique.

In the fourteen years I spent at my last employer, the internet went from nascency to ubiquity and job search has changed dramatically because of it.

Have you Googled yourself lately?

Google Boolean search

Addendum, 28 August: This post has received a lot of comments, mostly on the LinkedIn groups where I posted a link to it.  While the feedback has been generally positive, I have had some cautionary feedback as well which I want to share.

As is true anywhere on the internet, you need to exercise caution when sharing personal information.  Since this runs counter to the whole concept of social media it creates an extremely delicate balancing act.  Making too much information public places you at an increased risk of ID theft, common burglary, and more; making too little information available reduces a potential employer’s ability to find you.

While the choice of how much information to share is strictly a personal one, I recommend that you do not share your home address or phone number.  You might take this a step further and list your location as simply the nearest metro area.  At the risk of stating the obvious, certainly don’t share your date of birth or social security number.  And by all means, don’t broadcast travel plans (“Hello – Mr. Burglar?  We’ll be in Cancun the week of January 7th…”).

Best of luck raising your visibility, but remember to be safe.

Tutorial: VisualCV Social Media Buttons

VisualCV Social Media LinksLast week a friend of mine (we’ll call him David) asked me how I did the social media buttons on my VisualCV (click the VisualCV button to the right and look in the top, right corner), so I thought I’d put together a little tutorial.  I’m assuming you already have a VisualCV.  If not, go to http://www.visualcv.com, sign up for a free account, and follow the prompts to import your LinkedIn profile.  This is the fastest way to get up and running with all of your basic data.  From here you can tweak to your hearts content.  Don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet?  Shame on you.  My recommendation would be to create that first.

Once you have a VisualCV go into edit mode.  Your VisualCV consists of a “Main Column” and a “Sidebar”.  The edit menu area is split into two parts – one for each of these areas.  There are various sections you can add to the main column and sidebar.  We’re interested in adding a section to the sidebar called a “Portfolio”.  I put mine at the top of the sidebar where it is visible and convenient for folks to click through, but it can be located anywhere in either area (main or side).  Once you’ve added this section and positioned it (drag and drop to rearrange) we can start adding buttons.

Let me give a brief background note here: the portfolio section is intended to showcase things in your portfolio (duh!).  If you’re a graphic artist this makes sense.  But the area can be put to other uses.  I know a guy who has a photo of one of his patents shown in the portfolio area of his VisualCV.  The key feature of the images you place in your portfolio is that they are clickable hot links.   Typically, they link to a larger copy of the image so that folks can see it in more detail.  But they can just as easily link to external web sites, which is how the social media buttons work.

So now you have an empty portfolio section.  First things first: you need images to use for your buttons.  The easy way would be to right-click and “save image as” on mine.  The “My Website” button was created by my son, the Photoshop wizard, and then edited by me.  Buried deep in the LinkedIn site is a place to get buttons; you can find it at https://www.linkedin.com/profile?promoteProfile=.   My Twitter button came from http://www.twitbuttons.com/ where they have quite a collection so, if you don’t like mine, pick another.   I created my Google button by typing my name in the Google search box and then doing a rectangular screen grab in a roughly button shape (I may have had to do a little cropping afterwards to get it the way I wanted it).  I found the Facebook button by searching around via Google.

Once you have your buttons you need to upload them to VisualCV.  It may be easiest to do this one by one as you add each portfolio item to your new section.  Click the “Add a Portfolio Item” button at the bottom of the section.  I did not title each button as I think it looks cleaner, but that’s a personal taste thing (all I have is a single title for the section, and this you add by clicking on the title area of the overall portfolio section).  Add an individual item title or not as you see fit.

Next, click on the “Choose Portfolio Item” box with the “X” through it.VisualCV Choose Portfolio Item This will open a window with two tabs: “Upload” and “Portfolio”.  Your portfolio will most likely be empty save for the photo headshot you may have uploaded for the main column.  Click on the “Upload” tab, browse to your button image location and select it, add a descriptive title in the box, and hit the “Upload” button.  Only certain image formats, such as JPG, are supported – if you get an error your image is either too large or in an incompatible format.

Now that you’ve uploaded your button image you must select it in the “Portfolio” tab.  When you do, you are presented with some choices for the image’s “Click-Through Behavior.”  Click on “Link Image to a Website”, enter the URL address of your matching social media page, and click the “Add to Section” button.  If everything looks okay, click the “Save” button below your new portfolio item.

That’s it.  Repeat for any other buttons that you wish to add.

Hybrid Blog (Frankenblog?)

(Disclaimer: if you are a serious webhead the following post will bore you to tears – instead I recommend you go to Hulu and watch a re-run of Lost.  Or, better yet, Big Bang Theory.  If blog is still a four-letter word to you then please read on)

I’m new to blogging.  Can you tell? (clue: this is post #2)  Lots of decisions to make besides whether or not to change the background color value of my Boxnet widget to 63b4cd so it is an exact match for the heading text (really).  Oops!  I just lost three quarters of my audience…sorry about that!

One decision that anyone starting a blog is forced to make is this: do I use a hosted service (like WordPress, Typepad, Blogger, etc.) or do I self-host?  Using a hosted service is quick and easy.   And free.  Did I mention that?  I am presently unemployed and quite fond of  the word “free”.  Self-hosting involves picking a company (think 1&1, GoDaddy, etc.) to host your web site, paying them a (quite reasonable) monthly hosting fee, and installing/configuring your blog software.  It offers you a LOT more control over how your blog looks and behaves.  I might find that fun but most folks couldn’t care less.

What if there was another option?  What if you could have what appears to be a self-hosted site but is, in reality, a site hosted and maintained by one of the hosted services?  For free (I do really like that word).  Well, almost free.  That is what I’ve done and here is how I did it.

Over the past two weeks I created this blog on WordPress.com.  Today I took the plunge and splurged on my own domain name: http://www.chris-bigelow.com.  Pretty fancy, huh?  Here’s the best part: it cost me $6.99.  Really.  There is a catch, though: next year it will cost me $8.99.  Once my domain name was registered (2-3 hours processing time) I then logged into a domain control panel and “redirected” my new domain to my blog here on WordPress.com.  For my domain registrar the control panel looks like the image below (click it for a larger version that is readable by humans).

Domain destination control panel

Domain destination control panel

Now bear with me as we get briefly technical: the key step is to choose “Frame redirect” as your forwarding type and to type in a “Title” for your new web site.  Why?  Because when someone goes to your newly minted domain and it redirects them to your blog site, the URL and title bars will not change to those of the site you redirect to – they will remain from your domain.  An example is in order: my direct blog address is cbbigelow.wordpress.com and the indirect address is http://www.chris-bigelow.com – access the blog both ways and note the difference.

So now, for the princely sum of $8.99 per year, I have a personal web presence. Not free, but almost <grin>.

Career Transition

Sometimes we orchestrate our own career transitions and sometimes they are orchestrated for us.  My current transition is of the latter type, my position (along with many others) having been eliminated in mid-February as a result of the current economic recession.  No doubt these are tough times – certainly this worst economically in my lifetime – but opportunities are still available if you know how and where to look.

When I graduated college I believe they told us to expect something like four to five transitions during our careers; I believe they now say you should expect something closer to ten.  That’s a change every three to four years on average.  I read somewhere this morning that 5-30 jobs in one’s lifetime is “normal”.  Wow! The moral of the story is: nothing lasts forever and we all need to develop and maintain the knowledge and skills to find our next position or career.

Gone are the days when you could work an entire career with a single employer.  There is still job security, but it has morphed.  Today, your job security is no longer your employer’s responsibility but yours: it is your personal blend of skills, experience, problem solving ability and attitude that provides your security.  The key is delivering a value proposition that an employer wants to buy from you because you can solve their problems and improve their profitability.  After all – in the end, isn’t that what business is all about?