Holiday Networking Secret Revealed: How to Never Forget a Name

December 11th, 2012 No comments

‘Tis the season to make new connections — from parties and social gatherings to outdoor events and community events. It’s a wonderful time of the year to have good conversations and make some new friends.

That said, it’s also the season of graceful introductions — and conversations without business cards. It’s an easier time to make a new friend and then forget them all together, particularly if the eggnog or wassail contains alcohol.  Fortunately, there’s a way to fix this. Here’s an easy way to help people remember you:

Borrow a strategy from James Bond and Forrest Gump, and repeat your introduction.

This is how James Bond does it:

He starts with his last name — then uses the first and repeats the last.

Forrest Gump does the opposite.

as he says, “My name is Forrest. Forrest Gump.”

Either way, both of them are memorable. Here’s how to make the repetition approach work for you…When you meet someone new, try the Forrest, Forrest Gump approach. Say your first name first, then pause and say your first and last name.

When another person introduces them self, repeat their name as you shake their hand or look them in the eye, “It’s nice to meet you Jenny.” Then if someone else joins the conversation, introduce the person you just met — this will help you remember them!

Once in conversation, listen closely to the conversation. Share a smile, a laugh, or discover you have the same perspective or observations — and you have an experience worthy of potential follow-up later. Listen for interests and what’s important to people. Then when you follow-up, mention the common interest or experience, and remind new friends of where you met them–before you inquire about getting together, ask for a networking referral or inquire about a potential job lead. Example:

“It was great meeting you over a bowl of Ed’s famous chili last week.”

If you choose to follow-up via LinkedIn or Facebook, never send the generic invite to connect — instead customize! Do you have other tricks you use to remember people and engage them? If yes, share!

The Holidays & Your Career: 4 Awkward Scenarios & How to Handle Them

December 4th, 2012 No comments

Ah, the holidays. They bring smiles, laughter, and many cringe-worthy moments among family and friends. Do you have an uncle that appears to listen and repeat every other word, a cousin that brags too much, or a well-meaning but overbearing friend who can’t help but to ask questions about your job search within earshot of anyone in the room? If yes, you are not alone — in fact, you are in good company! (Ever wonder why movies with cringe humor tend to sell out over the holidays? It’s not the acting that’s magical; it’s that so many people can relate!)

If you’re in an active job search, you may feel especially vulnerable to such awkward moments. Here are four predicaments or conversations — and how you can gracefully handle any of these challenges if they apply to you.

1. You left one job without another one, and you are getting asked “why?”

Suggested approach: Avoid discussing how you feel about it. State the facts and lead out the adjectives. “When I was hired, the company had 40 employees. The company let 18 people go. My schedule changed from 40 hours a week to 14 hours a day. This was my new schedule for five months. Since I left in September, three different people have been hired to do my job. One is still there.

Why This Works: You’re not complaining. You are just saying what happened.

2. You’re between jobs and have a relative who can’t get past that. Uncle Charlie has asked you three times what you are doing. When he comes back after getting seconds from dinner, he asks “what are you doing for work?” You say, “I’m looking for a new opportunity.” He opens his eyes wide, smacks his forehead with the palm of his hand and says, “Still?”

Suggested Approach: Play offense, not defense.

What to do? Volunteer to help out in the kitchen and switch conversations–fast! Find someone who makes you laugh, wait ten minutes, and say “Charlie…look at what I’m doing with ________?”

Why This Works: You show that you can keep your head up, that you can keep smiling — but also that you’re not willing to be the family scapegoat.

3. Your cousin is a rock star, or a rocket scientist. Either way, Aunt Mary is so proud that she won’t stop talking about it. “I just don’t know that I’ve ever met someone so talented, have you?”

Suggested Approach: Congratulate your cousin, but give props to other people. “She’s one of the most talented persons to hit the family tree in three generations. I’d also like to introduce you to [other family member]. Have you seen his [unique skill]?”

Why This Works: You show your appreciation for others and your ability to work effectively in a team — all important criteria for teams and work environments.

4. Your best friend keeps saying she’ll introduce you to a friend who can get you hired at your dream company. But she’s been saying that for six months and nothing has happened.

Suggested Approach: Go ahead and apply for a job with the company now. If you see the job on StartWire, connect your LinkedIn account and see if you have any mutual connections. If yes, reach out to your network and see if you can request an introduction. If no, let your friend know you’ve applied for [insert title] position and you’d appreciate a follow-up by [insert date].

Why This Works: You are taking initiative and moving forward–not waiting for something to happen!

 Over the next month, we’ll be tackling the holiday job search. Got anything in particular you’d like us to tackle? Send it along!


Three Ways to Increase Your Chances of Getting the Job

September 4th, 2012 No comments

Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken you on a tour of what happens inside companies behind closed doors — we’ve shown you how jobs get approved, how employers find potential candidates, and frequent knots in the process that lead to re-posting of jobs and hiring delays.Attribution:

As always, applying for jobs is a two-way street: Just as employers pick who they want to hire, you get to pick where and who you want to work with. Throughout the search process, remember you also have the right to choose your employer. If you don’t like the way you are treated as a candidate, you still have the option to withdraw your application — or turn down a job if you don’t feel that the culture is a fit. Regardless of what happens in the process, don’t forget that you have the power in this part of the hiring process.

If you experience roadblocks as you apply for a job — but still remain interested in the job — here are three easy action steps you can take to increase your chances.

1. Take a personal approach. Whenever possible, apply for positions as early as possible and address your application to a real person. (If the job description doesn’t include a name, use LinkedIn or Google to find the name of the person that has the same title mentioned in the job description as the Supervisor. Then address your cover letter and email to this person.)

2. Know where you stand in the applicant pool. Many companies provide applicants with status updates on their application, but — traditionally — you can only see this data if you log back into the website where you applied for the job.

StartWire provides you with a free way to get these updates on the status of your applications at 7,000+ companies. Just sign up for an account, tell us where you’ve applied and track your application — and we’ll tell you if we can send you updates.

If you should be able to get updates on your application, and there’s no record of your application — check back with the company and confirm that your application was received.

3. Enlist help of friends and colleagues for an “in.” As we’ve discussed, getting a referral and word-of-mouth shout-out that you’d be great for a job is one of the best ways to get hired. Here’s how to get a referral even if you don’t know someone.

Next week, we’ll provide you with strategies you can use to follow-up throughout your job search – from how and when to contact potential employers to touch base on what to say if the employer suddenly goes “dark” after an interview.  If you have specific questions on this that you’d like us to answer, please ask away in the comments section.


StartWire Answers Real Job Seekers: How to find work in a new city?

August 15th, 2012 No comments

The StartWire team spends all day answering questions from our users via Twitter, Facebook, our blog and the many emails we receive. We’ve decided to share our advice with everyone, by posting some of our replies here on the blog! Here’s a question from Frederick, sent to us via Facebook message:

I just moved to Denver with my family. I’m finding it hard to find just the right job for me.

Moving to a new city can make job search difficult. Your career network is likely in your old city, and if that city is far away, you may find yourself feeling a bit lost.

The best way to find job openings and get hired (because that’s the important part!) is through a network. So one of the most important things to do in a new city is to meet new people, and work on developing a new network. This isn’t just good for your job search; it’s a great way to get settled into a new place!


How can you do this? 

Reach out to anyone you already know who may have connections in the area and let them know about your arrival. Send a short, professional email to people that you know well enough to recommend you. Let them know you’re moving (or have moved) to their city and are looking to get settled and find work.

Don’t know anyone in the area? Consider joining a job club. These are a great resource for finding out about job openings, and other career training opportunities. There are even niche ones for people working in specific industries. Search for what’s available in your area and get out there! You can find a list of job clubs across the U.S. here:

While you’re building your network, focus on applying to recently posted jobs, which you meet about 70% of the criteria for. Persistence is an important trait in a difficult job search. Don’t give up, just keep finding openings, applying and building your network. Hard work pays off!



Three Ways to Successfully Apply for Jobs in Summer (And Still Get Noticed)

July 3rd, 2012 No comments

It’s Fourth of July week. And people are, frankly, more likely to be focused on outdoor fireworks than your resume. Even if you are a dream candidate applying for a job that seems to have been tailor made for you.Photo courtesy of Piotr Matlak, Poland via Stock.xchg

There’s no doubt about it: Summer’s a tough time from both sides of the hiring desk.

If you’re a job seeker, it’s hard to turn down invitations to grill out so you can apply for new opportunities.

If you’re a hiring manager or a recruiter with a deadline to make an offer, it can take longer than usual because many decision makers are away. People take vacations. Meetings get postponed. References go away on vacation.

Does this mean you should hang up your job search? No. Especially since plenty of potential job applicants are also grilling out, water skiing, eating ice cream — and finding ways to take time off from the job search. And many non-profit organizations and universities run on a fiscal year that ends June 30. Some of these organizations that began a new fiscal year on July 1 are officially starting a brand new hiring season right now.

What it does mean: You shouldn’t give up on your job search — especially when it’s summer!

Here are three strategies you can use to win when applying for jobs this summer. All of these strategies start with a common tactic: Play the game so you can be an easy hire. To increase your batting average of jobs applied for versus interviews received, make it simple for employers to consider you.

Here are three strategies you can use to make this work — any day of the week:

1. Apply for the job as soon as you see it.

Last summer StartWire conducted an analysis of 6,400 hires made across 10 industries. Half of the successful hires had something in common: They all applied for a job within the first seven days it was posted!

Applying early helps ensure that you get an employer’s proper attention. So take the time to apply for jobs as you see them –before you head to the store for cookout supplies.

2. When you apply, make a human connection.

As most employers use software that rank and track applications even before they are read, it’s essential to include the right keywords in your resume, cover letter, and online application. (Here’s how to do this.)

But it’s equally important to have an employer associate your name with an application. To do this, call or email the employer as soon as you’ve applied — and let them know of your application to the job. (Quick ways to make contact with an employer include finding their main number via online Super Pages, company websites, and Twitter’s Advanced Search function.)

When you follow-up with employers, give them a 1-2 sentence overview of your skills. Example: Let’s say you are applying for a job in event management and are applying for a job with a local Chamber of Commerce. If you have past experience, state that at the outset. Here’s a sample voice mail:

Hi, this is Hillary Thomas. I see you are looking for a new Event Manager, and wanted to let you know that I applied for the job online. I have three years of experience and have served as the lead assistant to event operations directors for events with an attendance of up to 1,000. If you’d like to talk directly, I can be reached at <<phone number.>>

Tip: One of the best ways to leave this type of message is to do it at night — so you can use company phone systems to erase and start again if your first message isn’t perfect!

3. Prepare your references.

One of the best ways to get a good reference is to let people know you are listing them as a reference before you share their information with employers.

If you’ve been invited to interview and are in the final stages of a search, it’s important to stay in touch with your references — and know when they are going out of town. You want to make sure you are covered when someone wants to “check and hire” quickly. Proactive move: If your reference plans to be away, have your potential reference contact your potential employer before they are going out of town. Often, this can speed up the process.

Another alternative if you have an interview: Make copies of past performance reviews (assuming they are positive) and offer to share them with your interviewer at the time of your meeting!

Finding a job in the summer may be challenging from vacations to fun events, but you can still rise to the top of the employment line with these strategies. Try them out and let us know how they work for you.



Friday Wrap Up: Get Referred!

March 30th, 2012 No comments

So, what’s the takeaway from this week’s focus on our third habit of effective job seekers, “get referred”?

Ask for a job referral, but do it right!  While it’s important to be referred, it’s equally important to find a good source of referral.  You want to make sure that the person referring you will speak well to your attributes.  You know the saying—first impressions are important. The person referring you to the hiring manager is in essence making a first impression on your behalf.

When looking for a referral some people focus on meeting the hiring manager or someone who can directly influence the hiring decision. You may not always be able to make that connection, but anyone currently working at the company can be a useful referral. Companies look for referrals from all their employees, and getting an insider’s description of what it’s like to work there can give you a leg up in your interview. You’ll be able to give more concrete examples during the interview of what you know about the company and how you can add value.  Hiring managers are always more impressed when you show that you understand the company and have done your research.

Your goal is to figure out your match to the company, whether you could be happy working in that environment, and how you fit into solving their current business needs. The best way to figure those out is through learning about the company from someone currently working for the company!  Therefore, choose your source of referrals wisely and remember that everyone likes to be shown some appreciation—regardless of the hiring outcome, thank them afterwards!

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How to Get a Referral for a Job (Even if You Don’t Know Someone!)

March 29th, 2012 No comments

Earlier this week, we shared strategies to avoid four mistakes job seekers commonly make when asking for a referral. Today, we’re sharing information on ways you can ask for that referral — even when you don’t have a direct contact.

  1. Need to get in touch with someone you know who knows someone associated with the job? Ask for the connection through LinkedIn. Ninety percent of recruiters using social media to find candidates use LinkedIn to do so, shouldn’t you use it to get recommended? Connect your LinkedIn account to StartWire and you can see your connections when you look at jobs –simply click “get referrals” and customize a personal postcard to be sent to your connections.
  2. Wave hello using social media. At StartWire, we’ve conducted over 25 interviews with senior recruiting leaders at Global organizations. One of the most common themes? Employers are interested in getting to know candidates via social media.  Say hello on a Facebook company wall or through an @reply Tweet on Twitter and the employer has an impetus to get back to you. After all, you’ve just sent a public expression of interest – and it’s always polite to reply. Smile. You just shifted the balance of power in the hiring equation towards you.
  3. Go retro: Contact the hiring manager.  Many organizations list jobs through their HR department. The HR department often makes the first review at applications.If you know who your boss would be — or can figure out who it might be — don’t be afraid to give them a quick call and let them know you’ve applied. A great way to do this? Do it at night — after everyone’s gone home. Leave a voice message saying, “Hi, this is _________. Wanted to let you know I’ve applied for ______ job. I have ___ years of related experience and am interested in joining in your team. You can reach me at ______ but I’ve completed my application with your HR department.”

    Sometimes this act alone is enough to move you to the top of the pile — when the hiring manager says, “What about that guy.”

A final note: Apply for the job and follow-up – even if you have a referral.Here’s a secret not often shared: Employers can’t call you a candidate until you’ve submitted a formal application. If you get referred in, but haven’t formally applied – many HR offices may delay or hold up the process – until the paperwork is submitted. So go ahead and apply for the job, even if you’re assured it’s “just a formality.”

Make yourself easy to hire, and it will be easier for everyone to recommend you – and extend an offer.

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4 Mistakes To Avoid When Asking for a Job Referral

March 27th, 2012 No comments

This week we’re focusing on Habit #3 of our series on the “Five Habits of Effective Job Seekers”: They get referred.

As we mentioned yesterday, a referral can increase your chances of getting hired by up to 300% – that’s an easy way to increase your odds of having a shorter job search. You’re also more likely to have a happier landing: On average, people who are referred for positions through employee referral programs stay longer in the job once they are hired – in fact they are 3.5 times less likely to be terminated.

Just as you can exponentially increase your chances of getting a job with a referral, you can kill your chances if you play your cards wrong. Here are four common mistakes job seekers make when asking for a referral – and how to avoid them.


1.    Asking someone you don’t know to refer you – without introducing yourself or establishing common ground.

Ever gotten a message that says “Because you are a person I trust, I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn network” from a person you’ve never met?

Don’t ask to be referred into any job this way: it will likely only result in a weak recommendation. Many years ago, a private citizen asked U.S. President ______________ if he could recommend him. The result, a short letter that essentially said nothing at all: “I recommend this young man for whatever job YOU think he is qualified for.”

A better approach? Express interest in the other person. Get to know them. Share interests. Ask later – when you have a relationship.

2.    Not letting a referral know you are using their name. Many job applications have a referral box you can select if you have an inside connection.

If you check the box but don’t let your connection know you’ve applied, they may be caught off guard – and may not be able to speak to your strengths.  They may also be annoyed with you for not sharing information.

Bottom line: Tell anyone who has offered to help you in a job search that you’ve applied – before you give their name out as a referral and point of contact.

3.    Not educating the person who’s offered to help you.

While getting a referral can help ensure your resume gets read, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll make the interview list. If someone’s offered to vouch for you by serving as a referral, make sure they have a copy of your most recent resume – and know why you’d be a good fit for the job you’ve applied for.

4.    Asking for a referral from someone who would not recommend you.


Never list anyone as a source of referral if you’re unsure as to whether they would actually recommend you.

As the late Ambassador – and founder of TV Guide – Walter Annenberg once said, “It’s not who you know…it’s who knows you back that matters.”

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The 5 Habits of Effective Job Seekers. Habit 3: They Get Referred!

March 26th, 2012 No comments

This week, we are discussing the third habit of effective job seekers: They get referred!

Why is this important?  Being referred by an employee increases your chances of getting hired by 300%.  How so?

1—Employers trust candidates that were referred.  Employers are more likely to trust the applicant if he or she is connected to someone within their network.  It’s similar to the choice of inviting either an acquaintance of a friend’s or inviting a complete stranger to your home.  Most people would understandably choose the first option.

2—Employers trust that the referee has a better understanding of what defines a qualified candidate.  The best people to understand the culture of the company are those who are actually working for the company.  When they refer an applicant to the company’s employer or hiring manager, they are doing so with a first-hand understanding of whether the applicant fits the company culture and would thrive in that work environment.  Referrals are more likely to be qualified candidates, encouraging the recruiter and hiring manager to give their application extra attention.

3—Referrals have lower turnover rates.  Referrals generally stay with a company longer.  Why? Referred candidates have a better understanding of the company culture before they start, so there are no surprises.  This helps them to adjust and fit into the company at a quicker pace compared to their counterparts who are entering the company without information from a current employee.  Furthermore, their referral allows them to enter the company with at least one social connection, making the social transition into the work environment much easier.  The hiring process is expensive; so lower expected turnover rates mean employers have more incentive to hire candidates that are referred!

See this article from Mary Lorenz at CareerBuilder, for a list of the top 10 reasons referrals are valuable to employers.  It just goes to show how important referrals are to not only applicants, but employers as well!

If you’re interested, check back tomorrow for a post from Chandlee Bryan on getting referred!

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Highly Effective Job Seeker Secret #1: Don’t Post & Pray

March 13th, 2012 No comments

We’re excited to announce the release of a new webinar, The Five Habits of Effective Job Seekers hosted by our CEO, Chris Forman. Prior to co-founding StartWire, Chris and our EVP Tim spent years developing training programs that teach recruiters how to find candidates and job seekers.  The technologies Chris and Tim worked on are now used by 70% of the Fortune 500. We’d call them job search rock stars, but they are humble guys and won’t let us!

You can watch the webinar here for free, but for the next five weeks we’re going to give you a crash course in all of the five tips. Each week we’ll focus in on one of Chris’s five habits – and expand that with easy takeaways you can use in your job search.

Sound good? Let’s get rolling!

Habit #1 of Highly Effective Job Seekers: They don’t post and pray!

What, you say, is “post and pray?” It’s applying to jobs online and then putting your feet up and waiting to hear back.

Our tough love: Don’t confuse applying for jobs with searching for a job.  Only 20% of all corporate vacancies are filled through listings on job boards…

If you apply to a job and do nothing else – it’s a little bit like taking a raffle ticket and then not showing up for the live drawing: In reality, there’s a slim chance you’re going to get a call back – because the interview list is often filled with applicants who’ve taken additional steps to make sure they get full consideration.

We’re not telling you not to apply for jobs online – you don’t want to miss out on opportunities. But when you do, we want you to lean forward and be proactive so that you can get the call back! Here’s how to do that.

  1. Apply only for job listings that match your skills and experience.If the job description has a laundry list of qualifications (and you can’t imagine the company could possibly find candidates who have 100% of the skills and experiences), apply only if you meet 70% or more of the skills and specifications mentioned in the description.

    Why? If your skills don’t line up with the job, you have a slim chance of getting on the interview list – unless you’ve got an inside recommendation for the job from someone who knows you could do the job.

    Additional tip: Don’t apply for more than two types of jobs with one company. If you apply for jobs in Marketing, Accounting and Customer Service at the same company at the same time – it makes you look like you aren’t focused. If you apply for more than one job, specify what makes you interested – and qualified — for each job in your cover letter.

  2. Use the right words for the job in your resume and cover letter.  It’s the equivalent of using “the force” in your job search. As employers review job postings, they look for keywords that match up with the job. Use these keywords at the top of your resume – and you have a better chance of getting your job application looked at.

    Here’s our favorite 5-minute trick to finding the right keywords.

  3. Get personal.

    Addressing a cover letter or e-mail to “Dear Sir or Mam” typically fails to impress most employers. Whenever possible, address your job applications to a real person.

    Quick ways to find one? Use LinkedIn’s Company pages or do a Google search on the “Director of HR” or department at the Company where you are applying. Then use the name in your application materials.


  4. Tag team every job application with a follow-up – even if it feels uncomfortable. Calling and asking someone, “Did you get my application?” can feel like a psychological return to early awkward experiences with dating…but following up is one of the best ways to transform yourself from one of many applicants to a real live person with a voice and an interest in getting to work.

    3 Great Ways to Follow Up(Use one or more)

    I. Like the company on Facebook, then send a message letting them know you’ve applied

    II.  See if the company has a Twitter account for recruiting, and send a Twitter @reply letting them know you’ve applied and expressing interest in working more.

    III. Call and follow-up. If you’re shy, do this at night or over the weekend. You can almost always find a general company phone number online, use the company directory to find the right department or person – and leave a short message introducing yourself and letting them know you’ve applied.  (Mess up and need to re-record? Most corporate systems will give you a do-over if you press the * or # key)

    Bonus points: Mention the top skill or experience you have that aligns closely with the job when you follow up.

  5. Be ready to look the part.

Studies show that up to 90% of recruiters admit to doing online research on job search candidates: you should expect to be Googled.

If you are in the job market, know what search results will come up if an employer searches for your name. A great way to make sure your professional interests can be found is to develop a public LinkedIn profile.

Create a formal phone message with your first and last name. “Hi, this is _______. I’m not available right now, but leave me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”

Following these five simple steps can help you transition from “post and pray” to the top of the application pile for the jobs listed online. But remember – job boards are only one piece of the puzzle. We’ll be sharing strategies that can get you faster results for your time in weeks ahead.

Tune in next week when we’ll share with you the number one reason why you may not be hearing back on jobs – and the simple thing you can do to change that! (If you can’t wait, check out our webinar.)


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