“I have to admit that I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I had my resume done. I had a strong brand message in place. And I thought I had a plan for how I was going to conduct my job search: I was going to do what I had always done in the past.
I was going to call a few colleagues to get them ‘looking’ for me, respond to some job boards, and reach out to a few recruiters. So I did just that. And although I had some movement, it was very slow-going. Companies were definitely much slower to respond and progress the discussion than they had been in the past.
My colleagues were helpful and did put in a few good words for me, but frankly, there just weren’t enough of them out there and the timing just wasn’t right. At that point, I had to decide either to give up the search for now or switch tactics.
That’s when I heard about Employer Profiling. Although I was a ‘Skeptic’ myself, I was drawn to the idea of 1) proactively targeting companies I wanted to work for (many of which I didn’t even know existed) and 2) having a ‘job search agent’ who did the upfront work for me (I knew if I had to rely on my ‘free’ time that it would never happen).
Without a doubt, this was the push I needed. Before I knew it, I was building my LinkedIn network with valuable contacts, profiling companies for my search, and being introduced to contacts at those companies!
After launching me into this direction, although I still had to be diligent and follow through, I did succeed in meeting with a decision maker on two separate occasions at one of my target companies who eventually made me an offer…for a position that was never posted!
This approach was definitely hard work, but all along the way, I felt more in control of the process, more directed, and less a part of the masses. I still applied to job boards and talked to recruiters (and even had some interviews from that), but I never gave up on building those new relationships with people at these target companies.
And now I can even say that I have leveraged those relationships to help others in my network. I think I finally truly understand how networking should work.”
Meet Justine. Justine is a very busy Project Manager in the pharmaceutical industry. She also happens to be a busy mom of 3 and very active in her community.
Justine has always moved from job to job pretty easily until this time. Job boards and recruiters just aren’t coming through for her, and she knows she needs to build more professional contacts, but who has the time?
Plus, Justine wasn’t born yesterday. Although her current environment isn’t ideal, she doesn’t want to just jump ship for greener pastures. She wants to be careful about the next organization she works with.
If ever there were an answer to prayer, music to your ears, or a sight for sore eyes (you get the drift), Sue is it. Blending a unique background in managing both IT and telecom day-to-day operations with extensive hiring and recruitment experience for small/mid-sized organizations as well as for a prominent Fortune 1000 company, Sue has been up close and personal with HR, and has had to wade through layoffs, acquisitions, and corporate restructuring. (That means she's a veteran of the job market zoo and has been so deep in corporate goo that nothing surprises her anymore!)
Together, we devised a three-phase “NoNonsense” employer profiling solution that gives members another alternative to the job board “rat race” and, the best part of all, provides personal job search support, so that each member has his or her very own job search “agent” helping to zero in on and find contacts at prime employers best suited for the member. This is something truly unique!
Sue also helps with conducting our 30-minute introductory strategic visioning consult calls that get our members moving from the messaging stage into the execution stage. She helps get you moving toward a strategy for your search and provides advice on how to enhance on the standby methods you typically use.
Now let’s look at how it’s all going to come together…
• We will target companies in your geographic area, field, industry, etc. that are best suited for your goals.
• We will research and find contacts (at least 1 contact; maybe more) at these companies based on your strength of connection (leveraging alumni, military, professional association, etc.).
• We will prioritize the companies based on your preferences and the strength of connections we find.
• We will reach out on your behalf and make the initial introduction with the contact names.
• We will try to secure a response from as many as we can, and we will guide you to get them to agree to continue to talk to you at a later time in more detail about the company, other possible connections, etc.
• We will provide you with messaging and tutorials about where to take the conversation from there.
• We will get you away from just relying on job boards and recruiters to help you build a more effective network for you targeting specific resources (keeping you away from networking mixer after networking mixer).
• We will save you a lot of upfront research time that makes it so difficult for professionals to get started with this approach.
We are not just trying to gather contact names; we are looking for contacts that have some connection to you that we can leverage as a way of introducing you to that person and to the company.
Here’s some basic criteria that Sue will use during her research:
• Alumni connection: It may seem silly, but the power of alumni connections should not be ignored. When you are reaching out to someone “cold,” having something that you’ve shared, such as a college, is a great lead-in for an introduction. Furthermore, studies show that we like to engage and respond to our fellow alum.
• Military or civic connection: Military and civic connections work much the same way as alumni connections do. Shared associations should not be ignored during a job search (but often are). That is why we will leverage them in this process.
• LinkedIn connection: First-level connections are great on LinkedIn, but 2nd-level ones and group ones might be even better because these are new connections for us to make that we would otherwise not have made thanks to their connection to our 1st-level peers.
• Past employer connection: Although less likely and less significant for our purposes, she will also look to see whether you both share a past employer (even if you didn’t work for the company at the same time).
Sue will be busy generating contact names and info at each employer.
She will also be ranking the employers based on the strength of their connection to you.
So our goal is to reach out and then get a response. We’re banking on the strength of the connection to initiate a response from them.
• How many typically respond? The response rate usually runs about 40% within the first few days. Some people might take longer, but generally if they are going to respond, they do so within about a week.
• Aren’t they going to know I’m looking for a job anyway? Of course they are. But that is nothing to be ashamed of. At the same, though, we don’t want to intimidate or pressure anyone.
• Will I see the introduction messages that are sent? Yes. You will have access to each one that goes out, and we will send you a copy of a template message before we start so that you know what is being said.
• What happens after we send out the initial messages? Truthfully, we wait a few days. We give people a chance to respond.
• What happens once contacts begin responding? We will look at the type of response you receive, and then we will set a plan for how to respond to them. We’re hoping that they will be willing to chat with you and to set up a time to talk. This will give a chance to solidify the engagement even more.
We are NOT asking them to find you a job in our initial contact.
Think of it this way: Would you walk across a crowded room to someone you’ve never met and say, “Will you get me a job at your company?” I hope not.
No, you would engage them in a less threatening manner to put them at ease and to let them know that you are someone professional and comfortable to interact with.
Therefore, in our initial contact, we are first looking to connect with them, give them a general sense of why you are reaching out, and then ask them whether it would be OK to follow up with them.
Now it’s time for our second consult.OK, so we’ve reached out. We’ve followed up. Now it’s time to assess where we’re at.
Our goal is to get you going down a different road to reaching out to employers who are best suited for you. And we are giving you tutorials for how to make the most out of the connections we reach.
Sue will make sure you have a plan for where to go from here, be it finding more contact names at the companies that did not respond, adding more companies to our list, or waiting to see what comes out of the connections you’ve made so far.
Most likely you are still setting up appointments and having the initial call with these contacts. Maybe they’ve asked you to send them your resume, or maybe they’ve made subsequent introductions for you with other contacts. All of that is great. The key here is
for you to keep the conversation going and have good follow-through.
And be patient. Building strong network connections takes time, but a good referral is still the most effective job search method out there. Not only does it get you a job, but it gets you a better job than job boards do.
Job searching isn’t about 1 method; it’s about a diversified approach. Employer
Profiling is meant to help build a pipeline you didn’t have before other than just using job boards. Why not create as many pipelines as
• You will want to make the most out of your informational “chat” with the contact by gathering more info about the company, such as its culture, if it is growing, if there are other people you should meet there, etc.
• You will want to ask the contact if there is anything you can do for him or her…introductions you can make, etc.
• You will want to send a thank-you to the contact after the chat.• You will take care of any action items that came up during your
chat.• You will follow up with the contact every few weeks or so as
appropriate.• You will be timely and responsive to anything the contact
recommends, such as contacting someone else or sending your resume somewhere, etc.
• You will not overwhelm the contact with your wonderfulness; you want to be bold but not pushy, determined but not desperate.
• You will recognize that networks and pipelines must be nurtured and take some time to develop.
• You won’t wait so long next time to get started with this!
Silly me. I thought an MBA mixed with hard work was my ticket…
(A Note from Stephen Van Vreede, Co-Founder of ITtechExec/NoddlePlace)
When I first started my career, generally I didn’t know anyone who actually paid to have their resume (or résumé, for the purists among us) written, much less for “career services.”
Let's be real. It used to be pretty cut-and-dry. You put a basic 1-page (or maybe 2-page) resume (or résumé) together, worked a few connections or answered a few "classifieds," and felt pretty certain the right opportunity would come along. Then if you worked hard (got the right certs) and didn't burn too many bridges, you most likely had a pretty secure career path ahead of you perhaps even with the same company.
And at first, throughout most of the early part of my corporate life, that was generally how things went. I moved from internal position to internal position without the need to invest in resume or other career services, eventually landing a director-level role with a large GE Capital, multi-site inbound call center serving the logistics industry.
But then the job market began to change, my priorities shifted, and job security was, well, less secure.
So I decided to go back for my MBA and obtain some other credentials (sound familiar?), which cost me thousands and thousands (and thousands) of dollars (just ask my lovely bride who helped pay for them!). I even clawed my way through the Six Sigma process to become a Black Belt.
It was a great experience, but after two years of working full time and taking night classes, when I graduated, the job market wasn’t much better, competition for internal promotions was greater, and I wasn’t the only one with an MBA, a Black Belt, etc.
That’s when I was introduced to resume design and career services.
I came to recognize that the time and resources I had already spent on my career were worth protecting. The market was too uncertain and changing too rapidly for me to continue to go it alone.
At this point, I had already invested in someone to handle my retirement,another someone to do my taxes, and another someone to find me the right home. It wasn’t such a stretch to think that my career mattered as much, if not more, than these other things. After all, without it, then I couldn’t afford the retirement or the house (and yes even the taxes).
I began to see where resume/career services could play an integral part…
in not only helping people to secure jobs but also in building in protections to the careers we’ve all worked so hard to achieve.
Eventually, my wife, Sheree, and I began our own firm in 2001 called “No Stone Unturned” in 2001. Initially, we had a small office where we hosted seminars and workshops, wrote resumes, and served a cross section of professionals and backgrounds.
And although writing resumes and teaching some seminars was fine, we wanted to do better. And we knew we could.
ITtechExec was launched…Thanks to my background in IT/telecom management for the supply chain/logistics industry and to Sheree’s experience serving as an editor to the scientific/engineering community in the publishing world, we soon realized that we were best suited to serve the technical professional trying to maneuver through what by that point (2008) had become a complex and exhausting job market. (Let’s face it…it’s a bit of a zoo out there!)
Not only that, we noticed that other resume writers were avoiding technical clients, unsure of how best to position their specialized skills.
Therefore, it wasn’t long before we began to work exclusively with IT and technical or “STEM” clientele, professionals who have devoted themselves to some of the most innovative and rewarding fields in today’s industries, from engineering to healthcare IT to scientific exploration to big data and cloud services to project/program management.
Silly me. I thought we could just write resumes…Then, before we knew it, unemployment skyrocketed and the tech market began waging its war for sophisticated tech talent.
And on top of all that, social media recruiting burst onto the scene, and the landscape became pretty messy, pretty fast. Soon, hiring folks were claiming they were no longer reading resumes (even though they continued to ask for them), and the job market became such a zoo that candidates found themselves focused on a document that everyone says they won't look at for more than 6 seconds but it better not have any typos in it!
That’s when we realized that we could no longer just write a resume and send our clients on their way. They needed better preparation and lasting protections. They needed strategies and tools that, well, worked.
We knew then that we had to become a full-service career advancement and protection firm, not just another resume-writing firm.
95% of technical leaders obsess over the resume even though they don't believe it has much value.
So we asked ourselves, if you know the market is a zoo, that resumes aren't likely to be read, and that obstacles like age or experience are more pronounced than ever, why would you (a) keep approaching it from the same angle over and over or (b) sit back and do nothing? Why wouldn't you instead focus on where the real value lies?
With tech professionals changing jobs every 3 to 4 years, consulting/contracting on the rise, and fierce competition for promotions, it's time to try something that is based on how the market is actually working now, not 10, 15, even 5 years ago.
It's why we've made a radical shift to a more portfolio-driven approach instead of just a resume-based one.
Yes, the resume is part of it, but let’s get more from your investment.You still need a solid chronological resume (no matter what you may hear) geared toward a very specific audience, but when done properly, having addenda to go along with the resume can be much more effective (and much more likely to be read!), not to mention the significance of the LinkedIn profile, which will continue to grow over the next few years.
Portfolios can help build in flexibility and prepare you to face different hiring scenarios. But you need to know which tools are best for your situation. Although there is a lot out there you can do (or buy), you don't need to do everything (that's the good news!).
So whether you are an external job seeker looking for a new full-time role, a consultant going for the next contract, or an internal leader seeking promotion or just retention (such as during an acquisition), because we are following the tech job market closely, the real investment is in knowing which tools are right for you and how to properly use them. (To learn more about why we recommend a portfolio-driven approach, check out our presentations: http://ow.ly/viT6C and http://ow.ly/vM9UH.)
No one can predict for certain what the market will do, but we can make sure that you are prepared for whatever comes.
Building the messaging AND the strategic vision for your job search that lead to solutions.
The portfolio is great, the branding is wonderful, but now what are you going to do with it? Is it going to give you experience you don't have, turn you into something you're not, take away the gray in your hair? Of course not. But when done right, it can do something that the 95% of technical professionals keep missing: It can speak to the needs of your target audience ONCE you get it into their hands.
And that is ultimately why we do what we do. We equip you to face obstacles in the market, and we position you for the best chances of success.
We began developing this approach in late 2011 when we started to realize that our client “members” needed more than just a resume and basic messaging; they needed a strategic vision.
That’s how NoddlePlace came to be…To best provide this strategic visioning, we needed to differentiate our solutions even further! This meant tailoring some to meet the needs of the more experienced tech pro, the leader with 15+ years of experience who was now wondering how to face this market that seemed to penalize them often for things they can’t control, like age, experience, and high salaries. For them, it isn’t so much about climbing ladders as it is about protecting what they’ve built so far and staying relevant to the marketplace.
So we customized ITtechExec to meet the needs of this type of client.
Then we introduced NoddlePlace in 2013. Here we focus on the “emerging” technical professional with 5 to 15 years of experience who knows another 25 years or more in the tech job market means 8+ more career moves, statistically speaking, and wants to keep advancing in the market but now has a lot of other demands on his or her time.
In either case, though, they are both looking for real solutions…
A lot of times we know what we “should” do, but either we don’t do it or we just wait until we have to because:• We no longer have the ambition we once did• We have kids to raise and focus on• We believe the obstacles we will face in the market
are too overwhelming or exhausting to face• Work no longer matters much• We’re too busy• We always figure something out when we need to• We’re not really sure what we want to do next• We have external concerns that weigh on us• We have other unfulfilled goals and dreams
Too many times we think of our careers in terms of climbing the ladder of ambition and in having it all “figured out.”
And although there’s nothing wrong with having ambition, there’s much more to our livelihoods than that. There are people depending on us, and no matter where we stand on the corporate ladder, we all have
something to protect.
And that protection requires preparation. (If you want to toss in ambition, great!) It doesn’t necessarily mean you have your whole life mapped out or that the obstacles you face aren’t real. It does mean,
though, that you aren’t going to keep letting corporate whims and job market trends toss you around with no regard for you and your family.
So we’ve developed our solutions, not to be so much an investment in a “resume” as an investment in proper positioning and solutions to the market.
Call it holistic. Call it different. We like to think of it in terms of allowing us to track results and ROI.
There are good resume writers out there. But they can’t/don’t/won’t do anything more than write the resume and send you on your way. And the resume alone isn’t really addressing the main issue: your age, lack of experience (too much experience), family or geographic restrictions, job hopping, you name it.
Having the right messaging is good; having the right messaging with the right strategic vision is better.