Archive for October 2010

7 Major Job Search Lies and Truths (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

October 28, 2010

Despite being told it would be “impossible,” and despite having no work experience or personal connections in the industry I wanted to break into, I still managed to get my dream job to work for an NBA team when I was only 21 years old.  Through that process, and through my experience in the business world over the last 7+ years, I learned of a number of job search lies and truths.  Here are 7 of the biggest job search lies and truths:

Lie: All career advice is right.

Truth: Most career advice is wrong!  Everyone loves to give career advice, especially to younger job seekers.  Unfortunately, most of the people giving advice have no idea what they are talking about!  Seek career advice from people who have gotten their dream jobs, from people in the field you want to break into, and/or from people who have helped others get their dream jobs.  Even then, use your own judgment before accepting someone’s opinion as a fact.  I had people in the sports industry tell me I needed 5-10 years of sales and marketing experience before I could work in the industry.  If I had assumed that was true, I would have given up before landing my dream job to work for an NBA team despite having no experience.

Lie: In this economy, you should be willing to take any job you can get.

Truth: You can get your dream job in any economy, IF you are willing to do whatever it takes and if you know how/where to look.  Yes, the economy is tougher than it was a few years ago.  So what!  Stop whining about the economy, step up your game, and you can still get any job you want.

Lie: The secret to career success and happiness is to find a “hot” industry or a job with a huge starting salary.

Truth: The secret to career success and happiness is to do work that matters to YOU.  Chasing a “hot” field or a high-paying job is a recipe for disaster if the work is not aligned with your talents, passions, and values.  On a side-note, I quadrupled my starting base salary ($25,000) in less than 3 years because my job in the NBA was such a perfect fit for my talents, passions, and values.  Those results are definitely not typical, but they prove that the money can follow when you find the right job…

Lie: It’s easier to get hired if you are really flexible with what you are looking for.

Truth: It’s easier to get hired if you are selective and focused.  Lack of focus will make you overwhelmed and be a turn-off to potential employers!  You will also be less motivated because you will not have a clear vision of where you want to be.  Determine what your dream job is, and go after it with everything you have!  Never give up on getting your dream job, even if you have to accept another job in the short-term to pay your bills.

Lie: Youth will prevent you from getting your dream job.

Truth: Youth is your greatest advantage!  Older executives love to help and hire ambitious young professionals.

Lie: The smartest, most talented candidate always gets the job.

Truth: The candidate who is the best salesperson always gets the job.  If you “look great” on paper, do not assume your credentials will speak for themselves.  If you don’t “look great” on paper, just learn how to position yourself and sell yourself, and you can beat out other candidates with better credentials.

Lie: There are no jobs that would interest me.

Truth: You do not know what is out there!  Talk to as many people as possible in the industry that interests you, and you will be surprised to learn about all of the amazing jobs that are available.

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and Professional Speaker

-President of Idealize Enterprises

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

@peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability, please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com. 

11 Tips for Cover Letters That Lead to More Interviews! (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

October 27, 2010

A great cover letter will help your resume stand out and significantly increase your chances of being called in for an interview.  Here are 11 cover letter tips that will increase your chances of getting an interview:

  1. Format correctly. Like your resume, the cover letter MUST be error-free and structured correctly.  Use 1 font throughout the document, keep it to 1 page, and print it on high-quality paper.
  2. Personalize.  The cover letter should be addressed to a specific person (not “to whom it may concern”), you should reference the position you want, and you should tailor each cover letter based on the job description for the position.
  3. Start strong.  Use an attention-grabbing first sentence that highlights why you are the best candidate for the job.
  4. Highlight.  Use examples to show how you have the skills, traits, and/or experience relevant for the job (i.e. shown in the job description).  In general, employers want to hire people with enthusiasm for the position and the company, people with strong character and work habits, people with strong people/communication skills, and people who get results.  Be specific, and sell yourself.
  5. Focus on results, not responsibilities.  Like your resume, your cover letter should not focus on what you have done.  Instead, you should focus on what has resulted from the work you have done.  You must explain how you have made other people or organizations better.
  6. Explain glaring weaknesses.  If you have a significant weakness in your resume, you can address it in the cover letter.  For instance, if you are a senior about to graduate from college and you have never had an internship position, you should reference what you did instead during your time off from school.  If you are a theater major applying for a position at an investment bank, that would also be worth explaining briefly.
  7. Build credibility through references.  If you were referred to the hiring person, you should definitely mention that in the cover letter.  If not, try to see if you can find a connection within the company or someone who knows the decision-maker (i.e. an alumnus from your college.)  You can also include a quote from a performance review or from a letter of recommendation.  For example, my boss at ABC Company referred to me as the “hardest working and most proactive intern the company has ever had.”
  8.  Answer the 2 key questions.  Your cover letter must demonstrate why you want the job and why you are the best candidate for the job.
  9. Let your personality shine.  The cover letter should remain professional, but it should show your personality and bring your resume to life.  For example, you could share a quick story that explains why you want the job so badly.  A great story will build intrigue and have a hiring person thinking you were destined for the job.
  10. Close with a call-to-action.  You should end your cover letter with something like, “I will call you next week to answer any questions you may have and to discuss how I can help _____ (insert company name) achieve ______ (insert the specific results the company mentioned in the job description).  You may also reach me at xxx-xxx-xxxx or firstname.lastname@gmail.com in the meantime.”
  11. Follow-up.  If the hiring person does not respond to you, you must follow-up when you said you would.

Do you want to improve your chances of being called in for an interview?  Then, include a personalized, well-written cover letter every time you apply for a job! 

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and Professional Speaker

-President of Idealize Enterprises

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

@peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability, please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com. 

The Best Time Management Strategy of All-Time (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

October 14, 2010

Readers are leaders!

The fastest, most efficient way to achieve any goal is to find someone else who has already done what you want to do and study how he/she did it.  Reading a quality “how-to” book (AND applying its strategies to your life and career) is the best time management strategy of all-time.  Why try to figure out how to do something on your own when you could read a book that tells you how someone else already did exactly what you want to do?!  Most personal development and professional development books are the culmination of years of research and personal experience by the author.  In just a few hours (and for an average cost of $10-$20), you can learn what it took another person years to figure out! 

Unfortunately, most people never read a quality book after graduating from college, and then they wonder why they are not achieving their personal and professional goals as quickly as they would like.  While I am extremely grateful for and proud of the formal education I received by attending Johns Hopkins University, I attribute much of the success I have had in my life to the informal education I have voluntarily given myself after college.  By reading (and studying) the best books ever written, I have reduced my learning curve throughout my career. 

One quick example is when I started working for the Washington Wizards in 2003 in the sales department.  Despite having hardly any sales experience, I became the franchise’s #1 salesperson (out of a staff of 25 much more experienced sales professionals) in less than 3 years.  One of the secrets to my success was that I read everything I could find on the subjects of sales, marketing, communication, and relationship-building.  Had I tried to learn on my own only by trial-and-error, there is no way my success would have come so quickly. 

Books have been written on every topic imaginable, and while I encourage young professionals to read books on topics related to their specific careers, the following 10.5 books (in no particular order) have all had a huge impact on my career success, and they should be required reading for every student, regardless of his/her goals and dreams:

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  2. The Success Principles by Jack Canfield
  3. Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins
  4. Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins
  5. Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy
  6. The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman
  7. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  8. What’s Holding You Back? by Sam Horn
  9. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz
  10. The Psychology of Winning by Denis Waitley

10.5 Success Magazine: a monthly publication featuring tips and wisdom from the world’s greatest achievers, including many of the authors cited above.

Do you want to be a leader?  The first step is to become a reader!  Then, take what you learn and apply it to your life and career.

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and Professional Speaker

-President of Idealize Enterprises

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

@peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability, please email me at Pete@IdealizeNow.com. 

7 Tips on How to Use Informational Interviews to Get Your Dream Job (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

October 13, 2010

Informational interviews helped me get my dream job to work in the front-office for an NBA team after I graduated from college in 2003.  If you are not familiar with the term, an informational interview is a discussion you have in-person or over the phone with someone working in an industry or occupation that interests you.  The goal of an informational interview is to learn more about an industry and/or position and to get advice on breaking into a field.  Here are 7 tips on how to use informational interviews to get your dream job:

  1.  Treat informational interviews like real interviews.  Show up or call on time, and dress professionally if you are meeting in-person. 
  2. Bring your resume with you.  At the end of a face-to-face informational interview, ask the person you are meeting with for feedback and suggestions on your resume.  You may get some good ideas on how to improve your resume, and this is a subtle, effective way to remind the person that you are looking for a job. Do NOT ask the other person to send out your resume for you.
  3. Be prepared to lead.  Unlike a traditional job interview where the interviewer takes the lead, you have to run the meeting in an informational interview.  You MUST prepare 5-10 questions that you want to ask in the informational interview.  We’ll discuss the best questions to ask in an upcoming post.
  4. Be respectful of the other person’s time.  Stick to the amount of time you agreed to when setting up the informational interview.  15 minutes is the standard duration for a phone conversation, and 20-30 minutes is typical for a face-to-face appointment.
  5. Start the right way.  Begin the informational interview by making sure the time still works for the other person and by thanking him/her for meeting/speaking with you.  Then, ask if you could share a quick 30-second background of yourself.  It is important to share a well-constructed bio at the start of the interview because you want the other person to understand why you requested the meeting and because it gives you a chance to highlight some of your strengths.  Be concise and prepare this 30-second bio in advance; do NOT improvise.
  6. Thank the other person.   Send a short thank you note via email immediately after your conversation, while referencing any follow-up items or key takeaways from your discussion.  You should also write a handwritten thank you note and mail it to the person immediately after your conversation.  (You may need to ask for a mailing address during the call/meeting.)  Thank you notes are imperative!
  7. Stay in touch.  The person meeting with you wants to see you succeed.  Keep him/her posted on your progress after the meeting, and make sure to let him/her know how you followed the advice given to you.

Informational interviews helped me get my dream job, and they can work for you, too!  Want to learn what to ask in an informational interview?  Make sure you are subscribed to this blog for tips to be covered in an upcoming post.

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and Professional Speaker

-President of Idealize Enterprises

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

www.IdealizeNow.com

@peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability, please email me at Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

11 Reasons Why You MUST Get Internship Experience in College (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

October 12, 2010

As one would expect, recent research from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) proves that students with internship experience are significantly more likely to get hired after college than peers lacking internship experience.  NACE’s research also shows that students with internship experience tend to have much higher starting salaries than students without such experience.  Here are 11 specific reasons why internship experience in college is so essential for career success after graduation.

  1. Internships demonstrate initiative.  Every employer (or graduate school) wants “go-getters.”  Given that internships are usually not required in college, such experience will prove that you are proactive about career development.
  2. Internships help you learn more about yourself.  Through an internship, you can gain clarity on your strengths, weaknesses, and interests.  Equally important, you can also learn what you don’t enjoy doing.
  3. Internships enhance your resume.  Worried about having a solid resume?  Internship experience can fix that concern.
  4. Internships help you sell yourself in interviews.  Worried about what you will discuss in an interview for a full-time job?  Internship experience helps you overcome that obstacle also.
  5. Internships increase your professional confidence.  By interning, you can confront and overcome the “fear of the unknown” that you may have about what it’s like to work in a professional environment
  6. Internships improve your communication skills.  The #1 skill employers look for in job candidates is strong communication skills.  By interacting with others in a professional environment during an internship, you will have many opportunities to become a better communicator.
  7. Internships help you prove yourself in the “real-world.”  Academic success matters, but achievement in the “real-world” is even more important when you are looking for full-time work.
  8.  Internships expand your professional network.  Over 70% of all jobs are filled through personal contacts and networking.  Through an internship, you will meet lots of new people, each of whom could help you get a full-time job after college.
  9. Internships help you collect professional references.  By doing great work in your internship, you can impress bosses and generate a group of people willing to endorse you to potential hiring persons in the future.
  10. Internships help you go behind-the-scenes.  Through an internship, you get a chance to learn what it is really like to work in a company, in an industry, and in various job functions.
  11. Internships help you develop better work habits.  Through an internship, you will learn how to manage tasks/projects and learn how to carry yourself in a professional environment.  You can also learn from your colleagues by observing their positive and negative work habits. 

In summary, internship experience makes you a better job candidate, helps you decide what type of job/career you want to pursue, and increases your chances of getting hired at a great starting salary.  Get as much internship experience as you can!

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and Professional Speaker

-President of Idealize Enterprises

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

www.IdealizeNow.com

@peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability, please email me at Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

4.5 Keys for Making a Great First Impression (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

October 11, 2010

Strong communication skills are consistently ranked as the #1 skill employers desire in their employees.  However, communication is not just about what you say or write.  Communication also includes body language, and studies indicate that body language is significantly more important than actual language. 

Body language is especially important in a first impression.  In a matter of seconds, we automatically size up someone we meet.  These initial, subconscious judgments have very powerful consequences on how we are seen in future encounters; it is very challenging to overcome a bad first impression.

Recruiting directors, hiring persons, and senior executives frequently complain to me that most students make very poor first impressions.  Here are 4.5 keys on how you can S.H.E.D. this negative stereotype and position yourself the right way:

  1. SMILE: A genuine smile is inviting and contagious.  It conveys friendliness, removes barriers, and encourages others to want to get to know you.  A warm smile immediately makes you more likeable!
  2. HANDSHAKE: A strong handshake conveys confidence and integrity.  Having said that, do NOT try to devour the other person’s hand!  Just make a nice, firm shake.
  3. EYE CONTACT: Eye contact also indicates confidence.  Upon meeting someone, look them right in the eye for 2-3 seconds and then look away.  Like a suffocating handshake, eye contact can also be taken too far.  If you look into someone’s eyes for too long, you will make them uncomfortable.
  4. DRESS.  Err on the side of being over-dressed, but dress appropriately and professional for every situation.  And, don’t try to make fashion statements!  It is better to be conservative than flamboyant.

Bonus tip: Stand up straight and have good posture!  Good posture implies confidence as well.

Do you want to S.H.E.D. the negative stereotype associated with most young professionals?  When you meet someone for the first time, Smile, deliver a strong (not suffocating) Handshake, make direct Eye contact for 2-3 seconds, Dress appropriately for the situation, and stand up straight!  Do this, and you will be seen as confident, likeable, trustworthy, and friendly, 4 traits that will help you get your dream job and help you build better relationships with potential bosses, customers, and colleagues!

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and Professional Speaker

-President of Idealize Enterprises

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

www.IdealizeNow.com

@peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability, please email me at Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

8 Tips For Job Boards (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

October 6, 2010

Did you know that less than 10% of all jobs are filled through job boards?  In fact, some reports estimate that less than 3-5% of all jobs are filled through them!  These numbers shocked me the first time I heard them. 

As I’ve discussed previously, networking is the best way to get your dream job for a variety of reasons.  However, if you insist on using job boards as part of your job search, here are 8 tips to improve your chances of success:

1. Use niche job boards instead of major job boards like Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com or Hotjobs.com.  You’ll save time screening out irrelevant jobs, and companies using niche sites are usually more serious about hiring people online.  For instance, if you want to work in sports, a simple google search would help you find teamworkonline.com, workinsports.com, and jobsinsports.com.

2. Manage your expectations.  Advertised jobs have a ton of competition.  They are also not always monitored and not updated quickly after jobs are filled, and sometimes they are simply used as a way to gather resumes for future positions that are not available now!  Be prepared for a lot of rejections and very few favorable responses.

3. Monitor your time carefully.  It is easy to waste a lot of time online during a job search.  If you plan to spend time on a job board, sit down with a stopwatch next to your computer during each sitting, and discipline yourself to use the web site for a predetermined period of time (i.e. 30 minutes).

4. Do not apply if the employer’s name is not provided.  If you cannot see who the company is, how you can be sure you even want to work for them?  How can you see if you have an “in” to the company?  How can you craft a personalized cover letter?  How can you follow-up if you do not receive a response to your application?  It’s just not worth the time to apply unless you can see the company’s name. 

5. Apply to a specific person.  If the job does not list a specific hiring person, try to find the hiring person through your network or through contacting someone at the company directly.  Otherwise, do not bother applying.  Your resume will end up in a “black hole” if you do not get it to a specific person.  Without a specific contact, you also cannot follow-up on your application.

6. Follow-up on your application immediately.  Make direct contact (ideally by phone) with the hiring person immediately after you apply for the job.  He/she might be receiving hundreds of resumes, so you need to find a way to differentiate yourself. A short conversation or a brief voicemail with a 15-20 second pitch can serve as a mini phone-interview.  This effort also demonstrates confidence, initiative, and passion, 3 traits every employer wants.

7. Include a well-written, highly targeted cover letter where you sell yourself and how you can make the company better.  Employers hire people who really believe in the company’s mission and people who have proven that they can solve a specific problem for a company.  If you are applying for a job online, and it does not let you include a cover letter, then send one separately with another copy of your resume after you have applied online.

8. Look for a referral to the hiring decision-maker.  Always try to leverage your personal contacts in order to get an endorsement to the hiring person.  This is a great way to differentiate yourself from a crowd of applicants.

Statistics and logic show that applying for jobs advertised on online boards is among the worst ways to look for jobs.  However, if you find ways to differentiate yourself, you can dramatically increase your chances for success online!

-Pete Leibman

Career Expert and President of Idealize Enterprises

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

www.IdealizeNow.com

@peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability, please email me at Pete@IdealizeNow.com.