How Our Library Can Help Your Job Search

When was the last time you visited the library? Yes, that library, the one with the books. Books are wonderful, but the library is so much more than just books. The Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library offers many services that can benefit job seekers.

Need to improve your computer skills? The library offers classes on basic computer use, and internet searching, as well as on job search crucial applications like Microsoft Word and Excel.

If you need to use a computer with Microsoft Word, or need to print, the library has computers available.

Some branches are open until 8 PM, perfect for those evenings when you need to get out of the house for some quiet time.

Lastly, of course you can borrow books and other resources from the library, but did you know you can search their catalog and reserve a book online? The great staff at the library will even pull your book off the shelf and have it waiting for you.  Our library is now offering audiobooks and e-books as well!

Visit the library's website at to learn more and then, go check out their new blog,

What A Slinky Can Teach You About Your Job Search

I am a big fan of Radiolab. The popular NPR show and podcast produced by WNYC is a great mix of story telling and science. In their recent "short", What a Slinky Knows, the hosts, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, discuss what happens when a slinky is dropped.

For a fraction of a second, something amazing happens: the bottom of slinky hovers in midair, seeming to defy the laws of physics, while the top collapses toward it.

So how does that apply to a job search? Well, momentum is your ally. Keep moving, even when you think you should be falling.

Stay positive. Don't give up.

In addition to the podcast, check out Krulwich's blog, The Miracle Of The Levitating Slinky.

Think Twice Before Your Job Search Status Ends Up Online

You may be used to sharing all of your personal and intimate details online. During a job search, this can come back to hurt you. Assume nothing is private. No matter what your privacy settings are, if you put it out there, it is possible that anyone can see it.  Before any interview, I always do an online search of a candidate's name. I also try and find out who we may know in common.

Here are a few tweets I found recently:

hate filling out job apps online sucks. i prefer to fax in a cover letter and resume

I go to bed and wake up wishing that someone would just accept the fact my resume sucks and just hire me already.

Just realized I made a mistake on my resume. F***.

Ugh sending out your resume a million times sucks....

how the f*** do you even make a resume

F*** man... I neeed another job before summer ends ! I pray I get a call back from the places I handed my resume too..

My entire resume consists of three words: Funny, great a**.

All of these tweets from unblocked accounts, some of which are from people who list, what appears to be, their real name. If you are interviewing, recruiters and hiring managers may search for your name online.

While in job search mode, don't put anything online that you wouldn't want to print out and attach to your resume.

Why You Should Say No To LinkedIn Recommendations

I am big fan of LinkedIn, just don't call it networking. When looking to fill a position or make a referral to one, I first look to my contacts (those on LinkedIn and those that are not), and then to their contacts. Before talking to a candidate, or a potential vendor, I always do a search on LinkedIn.

Even though I like LinkedIn, as a general rule, I am not a fan of LinkedIn recommendations. Here are two reasons why.

First, most LinkedIn recommendations are too general. Just as your resume needs to be custom, an effective recommendation is tailored to the specific job for which you are applying.

My biggest criticism, however, is that they are, nearly by design, reciprocal. The "I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine" diminishes their value even further. I come across reciprocal recommendations all the time. A quick search on LinkedIn today found this real pair of recommendations. I changed the names and specifics slightly to keep their identities confidential.

Suzanne Queue was well respected in the company for her dedication. She is a strong believer in no excuses and results... Suzanne is an asset to any company. - William Roberts, February 3

I've had the pleasure of working with William Roberts for many years at Acme Company. William is always professional and has a strong work ethic... William is an asset to any company. - Suzanne Queue, February 5

When I am hiring someone, I want the person to be an asset to my company, specifically for the position I am filling. I don't care that a former co-worker thinks someone would be an asset to any company. What if Suzie is an accountant, and I'm looking for a school bus driver?

There are exceptions.

LinkedIn recommendations do work well for independent service providers. The more narrow the work, the more valuable the recommendation can be. If you want to write a recommendation for the web-designer that built your website, feel free to do so. But be very specific and include actual results.

What should you do if someone writes an unsolicited recommendation?

Do not approve the recommendation. Send a gracious e-mail, thanking them for the recommendation. Ask if you can count on them being a phone reference in the future.

What should you do if a recruiter says you need more LinkedIn recommendations?

Kindly tell your recruiter that you would love to provide a list of references and letters of recommendation.

What should you do if someone asks you to recommend them on LinkedIn?

If it is someone you would be willing to recommend, offer to write a job-specific letter of recommendation,  or provide a good old-fashioned reference over the phone. Explain that it is likely better if you know more about the job for which they are applying and can answer specific questions.




Don't Use Your Smart Phone To Take Notes

I love new technology. I love mobile. I love apps. I'm sure you do, too. But most job-search activities are not the time to geek out with your smart phone. It's best that you don't use your phone (at all) while in the presence of interviewers or potential employers. There are two important reasons:

  • Perception - the person you are talking with will have the same physical and emotional reaction as if you were texting. When people see you take out your smart phone and start typing they think you're texting or playing Temple Run. No one thinks, "Wow, this person is being productive!".
  • Distractability - you may, even though your fully-aware mind thinks it's ridculuous, open up Facebook, Twitter, or Angry Birds. Don't tempt yourself.

And you don't want the reputation of being one of "those guys" that always has his face buried in his smart phone.

Carry a note pad and a pen with you. A small pocket notepad will do. If you need to take notes at the end of an interview, or while meeting for coffee with a potential hiring manager, you won't have to pull out your smart phone.

Google Alerts Can Help Your Job Search

Google is not just an internet company. It has become a verb. Sure, they offer lots of different products... but they are likely most known for their search engine. But how can you use Google (or "the Google", as some of my older friends like to call it) to help you in your job search?

The answer is Google Alerts.

Not sure about Google Alerts or how it can help you in your job search? Don't worry. You are not alone.

Think of Google Alerts as a robot that spends the whole day sitting in front of your computer, continuously googling the same thing over and over. And when ever a new item comes up - a news article, blog post, particularly negative customer review - you'll receive an e-mail. Just fill in the fields and make your selections and that little robot goes to work!

You can use Google Alerts to stay up-to-date on the company you are researching. Of course, if the company you are researching is large or has a common name, you may want to refine your search. Consider using special operators to narrow your search. For instance, if your Google Alert for "Acme Corp." is giving you too many results about Road Runner and his nemesis, Wile E. Coyote, you can update your search criteria to: "ACME corp." -"road runner" -"wile e. coyote".

Companies hire people to solve a specific problem. If you stay current on what potential problems face the company, you are in a better position to market yourself to them.

Some examples of things you might learn from staying current with Google Alerts:

  • The company just signed a deal with a software company with which you have extensive experience
  • An up-and-coming blogger writes a strongly worded piece, critisizing the company for recent company changes that have resulted in less responsive customer service agents
  • The company's primary competitor announced it is closing one of its divisions, which could increase your target company's market share
  • The company has hired a new CEO, and as luck would have it, you worked for a previous company of theirs in the past

You may not be the only one setting up Google Alerts. I have, on many occasions, set up a Google Alert for candidates applying for work in my organizations. So, you should also create a Google Alert for your full name and any other names by which you are known. Keeping up with the Google Alert of your name can help you better respond to potentially negative items.

Word Up!

I enjoy creativity by job-seekers. I love to be surprised by candidates - like receiving thank-you cards in the mail. Years ago, at the Stockton Leadership Summit (an event I truly miss), Ann Rhoades spoke about how she sent the CEO of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher, her resume wrapped around a bottle of Wild Turkey - a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey famously enjoyed by Mr. Kelleher.

That's creative. And it takes guts. Unless you have a time machine, you're Ann Rhoades, and you're sending it to Mr. Kelleher, I wouldn't recommend repeating this.

As much as I want you to be creative, don't be creative on how you write your resume.

Use Microsoft Word.


I don't care about the philosophical reasons why you won't use Microsoft products. I don't even care that you don't have Microsoft Office. The vast majority of companies use Microsoft Windows and Office.

If you must use another application, such as Google Docs, Apple's Pages, or even WordPerfect (believe it or not, WordPerfect still exists), be sure you save your resume as a file that can be easily opened Microsoft Word.

Oh, and in case you don't know the rest of the story; Ann Rhoades got the job at Southwest Airlines, had a fantastic career there and then went on to co-found JetBlue.

The Case For The Resume

We are not in the "post-resume" era. By the way, it's 2012. Where is my jetpack?!?

There is no shortage of bad advice out there. The article, "Are social media making the resume obsolete?", on, does not necessarily give bad advice. But, it can easily lead job seekers down the wrong road.

For the vast majority of jobs out there, you still need a good ol' fashioned resume. A one-page, results oriented, reverse chronological, resume. And to be more specific, a resume written in Microsoft Word.

There certainly are jobs out there for which sending a resume is no longer the norm. And I'm sure, over time, the process of we find work will continue to evolve, just as work itself, yet the resume is still important today.

Even if you don't print and mail your resume, you still need to format your resume for printing. I fully acknowledge that the days of printing and mailing resumes are nearly gone, that doesn't mean that the recipient won't print yours.

Still waiting for my jetpack.

Use Evernote to Track Your Accomplishments

As I wrote about before, it is important to track all of your accomplishments in real-time. There are many ways to keep this vital task simple. One great way to do it is to use Evernote, the note taking application. With desktop versions of the software available for iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, and Droid, desktop versions for Mac and Windows, and available on, there is no excuse to not use Evernote. The free account offers plenty of features and online storage space for most consumers.

Set up a new notebook and give it a catchy name like, 'Master Resume' or 'Accomplishments for Resume'. Every time you have an accomplishment, add it to that Evernote notebook. To make it even easier, create an e-mail address to send notes directly to Evernote.

Next time you get an e-mail from your boss complimenting you on your awesome client presentation or when you get the monthly report that shows 50% sales growth in your territory, send it to Evernote. When you call us to have your resume updated, you'll have a bucket full of accomplishments.

LinkedIn Does Not A Network Make

Just because you're on LinkedIn doesn't mean you're building your network or even "networking".

I have been on LinkedIn for a few years now and have found it to be a very helpful tool in keeping track of all of the career movement out there. When I am looking to hire someone, or want to make a referral to a hiring manager or recruiter, LinkedIn is often the first place I visit. On many occasions, I have also been able to connect with people with whom I had lost track.


LinkedIn is a tool for gathering your contacts' information. It is not, however, the only one.  I use an application on my Mac that has proven to be a great tool for maintaining contact info.  Nothing high tech here. It's called Address Book and comes, with little fanfare, on every Mac.  For those on Windows machines, I guess you could use Outlook or build your own in Excel or Access. I maintain my address book with religious devotion. People are, after all, how and why the world works. I treasure my family, my friends, my colleagues and people in general. I keep up to date contact details and reach out to everyone I know every few months or so. It is a practice that has given me great joy through the years.

I take great pride in maintaining my professional relationships. Staying in contact with people has proven valuable many times. Add to that the fact that most would call me a pretty “social” person; I genuinely enjoy meeting and spending time with people. Every success I have had in my career is thanks to the help from, and lessons I have learned from, other people. Learning new things and growing starts with building and maintaining strong relationships.

To help you build your network, here are my five tips for using LinkedIn:

1.Shareyour contact information. I am happy to share my work and personal e-mail addresses, work, home and cell phone numbers with anyone in my network. If you are not willing to share all of your contact details with someone, you have no business sending them an invite on LinkedIn.

2.Don’t discriminate. LinkedIn represents only a small percentage of what would be considered my professional network. I believe in building my professional network indiscriminately; I don’t just focus on those that are on LinkedIn, thus my reason for using Address Book. As a rule, I never send a “join LinkedIn” invite to people that I know that aren’t on LinkedIn. Chances are, they know about it already and I don’t need LinkedIn to stay in touch with them.

3.Personalizeyour introduction and invitation request. “Because you are a person I trust...” and “I'd like to add you to my professional network...” is code word for “You’re not important enough to me to take the time to write a personal note.” Okay, I admit, that’s a bit much, but is it really that hard to customize that message? If you get a link request from me I promise you’ll get a customized note!

4.Buildingmeaningful relationships starts byadding value. Your professional network is not there for you to feed upon. Look for ways you can contribute to others.  Check in with people, ask how you can help. Make meeting new people a priority. And please, when you do, stick your hand out and introduce yourself.

5.Stayin contact. My Mother, being in business for herself most of her life, planted the seeds for this practice early in my life. She taught me that staying in contact is the most important rule in building relationships. Make a point to reach out to your contacts regularly. My goal is to reach out to everyone every three months. Admittedly, I fall a little behind from time to time but would never dream of letting six months or more go without sending out a quick e-mail, phone call or card (yes, hand written cards rock). If you value your relationships, stay in contact. My trick: schedule time on your calendar to follow up. After years of doing this, it comes natural and the rewards are immense.

Networking, as a term, gets a bad rap. Building relationships is about sharing and adding value.

If you want to link with me, you know where to find me.

this post originally posted on April 14, 2009