AMA Chicago CareerSmart Offers Solutions from Experts
Landing a job is usually a drawn-out affair, even in good times. But now that businesses have laid off millions, and the economy is stalling, it’s more challenging to find a new position.
Due to this new job search landscape, American Marketing Association Chicago Chapter’s CareerSmart – a quarterly event for job seekers and employers – drew more than 70 Chicago marketers to its first virtual meeting.
In addition to the CareerSmart guest speakers and panelists, the virtual meeting’s attendees learned about various AMA Chicago tools that will help them find new positions.
- AMA Chicago New Job Board – More than 1,700 Chicago-area marketing jobs are located on the AMA Chicago website under “Find a Job” at the top of the page.
- AMA Chicago Marketing Resource Directory – It’s a free business directory for AMA members who can showcase their companies through individual profiles under 10 distinct marketing categories.
- New and Reduced AMA Membership Fee – AMA national reduced its professional marketing membership fee to $149 to help members during this unpredictable job market.
At CareerSmart, two guest speakers, Brand Your Career President Michelle Robin and Power Formula CEO Wayne Breitbarth, author of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success, shared top job search strategies.
Their presentations followed a Q and A panel discussion where Melinda Holm & Associates President Melinda Holm Peterson and The Creative Group Recruiting Manager Megan Limanni joined in.
“It’s a good idea to be innovative and creative in your job search,” Holm said.
Five Shifts You Must Make for Career Success
After years as a career coach, Robin started to see a pattern that led her to create the five-shift career plan.
Robin observed that some job seekers landed quickly and well while others spent months unemployed, even though their credentials and work experience appeared to be the same. The difference boiled down to how one group approached their job search, she said.
“There’s no silver bullet to job search or getting that ideal job,” Robin said. “A lot of work must go into it. The plan may sound simple, but it’s not easy. You have to make these shifts to become the top candidate and land that ideal job.”
1. Be Your No. 1 Fan
One of Robin’s clients was a vice president of marketing. He had been laid off multiple times and lost faith in himself as a result. He suffered from imposter syndrome, a state of mind where people doubt their abilities, she said.
As a result, he took lesser and temporary jobs that didn’t get him what he wanted. Robin and her team instilled more confidence in him, so he’d better leverage his network and pursue more appropriate opportunities with more gusto on job interviews. This new approach allowed him to land a job within weeks at a significant raise.
“It’s so important to get this one thing right,” Robin said. “If you get nothing else right, get your mindset right.”
2. Ditch Your Resume
Most job seekers rely too heavily on their resumes. Most people start their job search by updating their resume and sending it out without a plan. While a resume is an important tool, it should not be solely relied upon when looking for a new position, she said.
Successful job seekers spend time on career planning, which entails:
- CAR Stories: Keep a career journal of CAR (Challenges, Actions and Results) stories, so if job seekers find themselves out of a job, they don’t have to scramble to recall all the great work that they did.
- Define Your Target: Job seekers must define their targets – what industries, what size organizations, what type of culture, what titles they want and what problems they solve.
“People hire people to solve problems,” Robin said. “If you know the problems you solve, it’s a lot easier to talk about that with your network about that.”
3. Stand Out or Die
In the current environment with about 30 million people out of work, it’s critical that job seekers stand out from their peers and not be just another marketer, Robin said.
The traditional way of job searching where job seekers search job boards, attend networking events and tweak resumes with keywords only yields a one percent chance of landing a job.
“The traditional way doesn’t work anymore,” Robin said. “The new way is more like attract and engage. You want to pull those people in. It’s like the content marketing that we are doing.”
Many employers search for new employees by asking friends, colleagues and peers if they have anyone in mind that would be a good fit. Job seekers want their names to come up in those conversations, so they are suggested as candidates, Robin said.
The new way to job search is to develop an attractive hiring proposition:
- Set targets for specific organizations
- Identify unique strengths that will solve the targets’ problems
- Use CAR stories to prove your strengths align with the targets’ problems
4. Connect Consistently
Robin said the ABCs of career management is “Always Be Connecting” because the most likely way job seekers land jobs is through people they know. But most people tend to apply through company websites, which is not the most effective way of finding a job.
Less than one percent of people go through hiring managers, but it’s 19 times more effective and going through referrals is five times more effective than applying online, she said.
“If you don’t do this, there’s a lot at stake,” Robin said. “If you don’t connect with the hiring manager or get referred, you’re going to be in the pool with everyone else. You are going to be forever stuck in the black hole of recruiting and a slave to tweaking your resume to make sure you have every keyword.”
She added that people are more inclined to help others when they have given first. The same principle applies to networking. But what can you give to your connections? It can be other connections, your knowledge, and it doesn’t have to be career-related but be of service to others.
Also, job seekers should reach out to people they don’t normally talk to, such as former co-workers and classmates because they might have connections. Even hairdressers and dentists might be a source for work, she said.
5. Don’t Go It Alone
Job seekers should find a mentor or a guide who can help navigate career planning and job-seeking activities.
Mentors can bring clarity about where job seekers should be putting their resources and offer outside perspectives, so job seekers can take the right actions and for the best outcomes, she said.
Master LinkedIn for New Career Paths
LinkedIn is a powerful job search tool, but not everyone knows how to leverage it. During CareerSmart, Breitbarth outlined a five-point strategy on how to tackle LinkedIn and demonstrated new features designed to help job seekers.
“We talk about applying and praying,” Breitbarth said. “But there are two things you must be doing – the traditional method of applying to get you in the front door, and you must also work the backdoor. LinkedIn is your tool for that.”
1. Optimize Your Profile
Breitbarth said that LinkedIn might look like a resume, but it’s not and shouldn’t be treated like one.
LinkedIn profiles should be more comprehensive and filled with stories that demonstrate abilities. By using CAR stories on their LinkedIn profiles, job seekers will be able to stand out. He added that adding quotes from references is a good idea to show worth, especially to recruiters.
Also, profiles must be keyword optimized. Human resources departments use what’s called an applicant tracking system that weeds out job seekers based on keywords. For instance, if 300 people apply through LinkedIn, about 10 to 15 are pushed forward to human resources by the automated ATS system.
Placing keywords in the headlines, titles and skills sections will trigger the ATS system and push job seekers’ applications to the forefront.
“If you don’t have your keywords optimized, you will have a problem,” he said.
2. Review Your Settings
Take advantage of new LinkedIn settings. One of the best settings creates a blue box on profiles, letting recruiters know you’re interested and what you’re looking for.
If job seekers are out of work, it’s particularly useful, but if they want to keep the job search private, it could come with risk, he said.
Another setting creates job alerts for companies that are on their target lists.
3. Build Your Target Company List
Another top tool on LinkedIn is a search function for former college classmates, Breitbarth said. Job seekers can go to their alumni pages to find people who attended the same schools, and filters can help them search by professions.
Job seekers should connect with college alumni on their company target lists, Breitbart said. This method helps find companies that like to hire workers from certain colleges.
4. Improve Your LinkedIn Routines and Activities
Breitbarth said job seekers should be on LinkedIn for about an hour every day. During that time, they should set job alerts in the setting option for target companies.
Also, when job seekers scroll through job postings, they should pay close attention to keywords that are used. At the bottom of the page, some job openings will share keywords, so job seekers should copy those and place them in their profiles.
5. Leverage Your Network on LinkedIn
Contacting a hiring manager is a significant step forward to landing the job, Breitbarth said. The perfect storm consists of getting through the ATS system and getting the attention of the hiring managers at the same time. When the human resources department forwards the 10 applicants of the 300 who applied because they had the right keywords on LinkedIn to hiring managers, job seekers’ who had contacted the managers previously will stand out, he said.
Also, job seekers should make new contacts through their LinkedIn connections. By using the LinkedIn filters, job seekers will be able to find target contacts among their network. When job seekers find people they’d like to meet and who are part of their contacts’ connections, they should reach out to their connections and ask these four questions:
- Do you know them?
- Do you think they might be interested in hearing about my job search?
- If they are interested in hearing about a job search, can I use your name?
- What is the best way to get a hold of them?
Stay Current with AMA Chicago Marketing Events
CareerSmart is one of many AMA Chicago events that’s designed to help advance members’ careers through updated skills and networking opportunities.