Giving Back Gives Back to You, Too

Friday, October 28th, 2011|Comments Off on Giving Back Gives Back to You, Too

We’ve all heard politicians on both sides of the aisle talk about the importance of Volunteerism in America. Part of America’s “exceptionalism” is Americans’ willingness to help one another, in times of crisis and on ordinary days. The personal fulfillment that comes from investing time in a cause that you are passionate about or helping an underserved population cannot be overestimated. The same goes for the tangible benefits brought to the organizations and people one serves. But volunteering can bring you benefits that you may not have considered, especially if you are in the midst of a job search process.

Volunteerism and the Job Hunt

When you are looking for work, volunteerism can sound a lot like working for free. Not ideal when you need some income. But try to think about what your volunteer experience might bring you even if it is not monetary rewards. 

  • Keep your skills up-to-date—when you haven’t worked in a while, it’s easy to let your skills lax or creative energy die. Use those skills to help a nonprofit and stay on top of the latest trends and technology. Organizations like the Taproot Foundation tap into the Creative industries, specifically, for Design and Marketing talent. Projects there can make a great addition to any portfolio.
  • Network—you will probably have a chance to meet some of the movers and shakers at your volunteer organization and start a relationship that could lead to a job when an opening occurs. You immediately rise to the top of the resume pile without even having an interview!
  • Get recommendations—if you do a good job, you can ask your manager to write you a letter of recommendation or an endorsement on LinkedIn.
  • Transition into a new role—your transferable skills can be very useful to a non-profit, even if it is not in a field you have worked in before. Get your foot in the door in a new industry – who knows where it could lead you.
  • Eliminate gaps in your resume’s timeline—a potential employer likes to see that you have been working steadily before you interview. A volunteer position can be listed as Work Experience. LinkedIn also has a new category for Volunteer Experience which is another way to get that information out to hiring managers.

I am a member of a group of experienced professionals called the LA Fellows, a career development program which brings together highly-skilled workers with meaningful volunteer opportunities which will help them in their job search process. I asked my colleagues, “What has your volunteer experience done for you?” Here are some of their answers:

Robert Kanter: “It helped me reassess my value to an organization as a leader, teacher and communicator.”

Caroline McElroy: “My volunteer experience filled in a gap in my resume, gave me something exciting to talk about in interviews and inspired me to go back to publishing a newsletter and blogging.”

Joy Pacifici: “Volunteering makes me happy by letting me give back to causes I believe in. And when I am happy, I am a more effective person at work and in life.”

I am also a committed volunteer – at my children’s schools, in the classroom and for booster clubs, with my church and as a Girl Scout Leader. Volunteering is an important part of my life and has become an important element in my career development as well. Perhaps you, too, can discover just how rewarding it can be.

“Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, they send forth a tiny ripple of hope… These ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” Robert F. Kennedy

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

The Pros and Cons of Being a Creative Freelancer

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011|Comments Off on The Pros and Cons of Being a Creative Freelancer

According to MSN Money this week, freelancing is “the future of work.” 

New employer businesses have declined 27 percent since 2006, but if you count newly self-employed people in the sample of startups, the numbers have stayed the same and, in some cases, even increased. Many of these self-employed talent have been freelancers all along, but there are large numbers of unemployed creatives taking their skills and starting their own businesses. 

Technology and globalization have made it possible for “solopreneurs” to launch their own businesses with greater ease. And in today’s job market, especially for recent grads and older workers, “solopreneurship” might be the best option for making a living.

But freelancing is not for everyone. Whether freelancing is the right option for you depends on a lot of factors, some of which are very personal.

Here are some of the pros and cons to help you figure out whether the freelancing life is right for you:

Pros:

Flexibility – Want to work mornings and evenings, but not afternoons? Need to take care of your children or want to volunteer twice a week? You can make your own schedule if you work for yourself. If you want time to work on your personal projects, you can fit those in, too. Flexibility usually means a better work-life balance.

Environment – Working from home allows you to work where you’re most comfortable and with all of your favorite equipment, software and set-up. No commute means you also lower your carbon footprint.

Fill in the gaps on your resume – If you’re looking for a full time job, freelancing is a good way to keep your skills up-to-date and keep your resume from developing a lot of white space. Partnering with a freelance recruiting firm that specializes in your area can help add potential clients and projects to your resume as well.

Save money – Gas, wardrobe, lunches – all things you don’t have to purchase often when you’re working for yourself. There are also many great tax benefits available, depending on how you set up your business (we advise that you see a Tax Specialist who has worked with Independent Contractors or Sole Proprieters for more information).

No micromanagement – With no boss looking over your shoulder, you can have less stress and be more focused on the project at hand.

Choice – As the sole creative in charge of your craft, you have the freedom to work on only the projects that inspire you. Never again do you have to accept projects that you find tedious or unpleasant.

That all sounds great, doesn’t it? However, there can be a downside to freelancing:

Cons:

No benefits – When you’re not working – you’re not getting paid. No more discounted or free health insurance or 401K contributions. These items are all out of pockets expenses for which you are now directly responsible.

No steady income – If you are providing a valuable service and marketing yourself well, you should be making money. But it can take time to build a stable of clients. And even then, your clients’ needs can change during certain times of the month or seasonally. If that makes you nervous, you might want to keep your cubicle for a while longer.

No accountability – While to freedom to self-manage is great, if you have trouble staying on-task or delivering to deadline when not managed, you will have trouble being a freelancer. Excellent discipline and time-management skills are key to keeping your clients happy!

Interruptions – Anyone who has worked from home and has a family or roommate can tell you stories about how they are always interrupted. Setting boundaries with those you live with is essential to successful freelancing.

The buck stops here – If your clients need something right away or there is a problem with something you have produced, it’s your job to take care of it. Sometimes that means late nights or early mornings to ensure everything is done on time.

Bottom Line:

If you enjoy working independently, can handle a little uncertainty and are comfortable marketing yourself for new work, freelancing could be a great choice for you.

If you like a lot of guidance or interaction, need steady income and/or want to close your laptop every day at 5, keep looking for that traditional role.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

The Power of Proofreading

Thursday, October 20th, 2011|Comments Off on The Power of Proofreading

I feel sure you’ve heard this before.

Proofread your work. And your resume. And your cover letter. And your email. And your blog. And your online portfolio.

Since high school, or even before, people have been telling you and you have been…spell checking.

Sometimes. Spell check is not enough.

The power of proofreading is a negative power. Typographical errors, misspellings and grammatical mistakes suck the potential right out of an otherwise promising candidate.  Instead they leave your resume a crushed ball in someone’s trash can.

Picture this: You’re a marketing pro looking for work and see a posting for the perfect role in the perfect place for the perfect salary.  You have all the experience and education the job requires, and you excitedly attach your resume to an email with a little note of introduction.  You click “Send” without another thought.  A couple of days later you decide to use that introduction as the start of another email cover letter, only to discover that you spelled the hiring manager’s name wrong.  Spell check won’t catch that one!

How about this?  A hiring manager has decided to take a look at a web designer’s online portfolio to see if she thinks his aesthetic will work for her company.  She clicks on the link he has provided and finds herself on his beautifully designed homepage.  It boasts evocative photographs and a clear user interface.

But one of his menu items reads: “Web Content Mangement.”

What does that make her think?

Did his resume and work say “attention to detail?”  Not so much.

76% of recruiters in a survey about typos said that mistakes would cause them to take a candidate out of the running for an interview.

Do you really want 76% of hiring managers throwing out your resume because of a typo?   I don’t like those odds!

What is the secret?

Proofread. Proofread again. Have your mother proofread. Your spouse. Heck, your kid (I’ve been proofreading my father’s academic papers since I was 8). Put as many eyeballs on your materials as you have friends you trust.  And a couple after that.

In this uncertain job market, you don’t have any wiggle room.  This one is easy to fix. Fix it!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Maximizing LinkedIn: Job Search

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011|Comments Off on Maximizing LinkedIn: Job Search

I didn’t sign up with LinkedIn until I was looking for a job. I hadn’t even really heard of it when I was working in the non-profit sector and busy with the many hats I wore there.

I should have signed up earlier.

I’ve written before about one of my career development coaches, Larry Braman of Global Career Consulting and Placement and beloved instructor at the LA Fellows (not to mention reconnected old friend from singing days in New York—that is a story!). Larry not only taught me most of the things I know about LinkedIn, he gave me homework: 100% Profile in about 5 days. From nothing.

When we came back to class with (some of) our profiles (mostly) finished, we broke up into small groups to make lists of how to use various social media platforms for Job Search. Since I was familiar with Twitter and Facebook already, I went to the LinkedIn group, not so much to offer input as to ask, “What is this good for, anyway?”

Luckily, my friend and colleague Jay Bernard was there to give me the scoop.

There are many aspects of being on a job search which make us feel relatively powerless. I mean, hey, bottom line, you’re waiting for someone else to say “Yes!” and you can’t do anything until they do. That mystery hiring manager seems to hold all the cards.

LinkedIn is a place to feel like you are seizing back the power for yourself. And that empowerment will feed your energy in interviews, your decisions about how you spend your job search time and how much effort you really put into finding that perfect role.

Branding

That 100% profile? That’s your brand! It shows what you have done, what you can do, what you want to do and what you love to do, if you’ve gone ahead and told your story.

Research

Make sure you know the name of the hiring manager you are interviewing with before you go and check them out on LinkedIn. You can find out what you have in common and also come up with interesting things to ask based on facts like how long they have been with the company and what roles the have had in the past.

Build Your Credibility

Interacting in Groups can help you show off your expertise. Your Profile will show which Groups you belong to and let a hiring manager see how involved you are in their industry. Take the opportunity to comment and start discussions and show off your expertise.

Fill in Gaps

If you are between roles but volunteering or interning using any of your transferable skills (I hope you are!), LinkedIn now offers a Volunteer category in your Profile to list those activities. This is a great way to cover any possible gap in your employment history. I will be talking about Volunteerism in an upcoming post, so please come back for that.

Introductions

As your list of connections grows, monitor it for connections to your target companies. Get your 1st level connections to introduce you to theirs. If you followed my advice about whom to connect with, they should say yes!

One of the hardest things about the job search process is never knowing which iron in the fire is going to be the one that pays off. The iron in the LinkedIn fire has a lot of potential, if you stir the coals and feed the flames!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

3 Reasons You May Have a Hard Time Working with Recruiters

Thursday, October 13th, 2011|Comments Off on 3 Reasons You May Have a Hard Time Working with Recruiters

 

Many job seekers bemoan the fact that they send out countless resumes hoping to land the perfect role and hardly any of them are even acknowledged. It takes a lot of time, research and effort to mount a successful job search.  However, there are a few things that will almost always result in your resume landing in the “circular file”:

  1. Local candidates only – When a job posting includes this phrase – or something similar – it’s because the hiring company requires immediate assistance and/or will not pay for an employee to relocate. If you’re in Texas and the job is in Los Angeles – even if you are PERFECT for that job and willing to relocate at your own expense – chances are your resume won’t even be reviewed. Spend your time applying to local jobs – or wait until you have relocated before applying. Your likelihood of landing this job is highly unlikely.
  2. Need a Visa? If you require a Visa to work in the US, your job search will definitely be more difficult than those without visa restrictions. Start your search with companies that have international offices or deal with international clients and markets. Though many of these clients will consider hiring someone who needs a Visa, it is usually only done for high-level or hard-to-fill positions only. As a rule, most freelance staffing agencies are not able to work with talent who do not have a visa or require sponsorship.
  3. Introduce yourself – If you are in the practice of sending resumes without even a hello, consider yourself deleted. You are much better off attaching a formal cover letter or writing a short email introduction explaining who you are and why you are interested in the position advertised. Don’t forget to include a link to your website or creative portfolio if you’re in the creative sector. This is often the first thing hiring managers will click on.

Recruiters are invested in the success of your job search, too!  Help them help you!

Kevin Kahn, Talent Manager

Maximizing LinkedIn: Groups

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011|Comments Off on Maximizing LinkedIn: Groups

You’re all set up, your profile is perfect, you’ve found everyone you know in real life that’s on LinkedIn and connected with them.  The next thing you want to do is find some groups to join.

There are different kinds of groups on LinkedIn:

  • Members-only
  • Open

You can join a Members-only group if you are qualified.  A Group Administrator just has to approve your request to join.  Or you can be invited.  One of my groups is just for members of a class that I took last year.  Click on the “Join this Group” button and a Group Administrator will let you know if you can be a member.  Sometimes this takes a little while as the “Admins” are working people just like you who only check LinkedIn once a day or so.  Be patient!

You can join an Open group just by clicking on the “Join this Group” button.  You’re in!

What are Groups good for?

  • Asking questions.  Start a Discussion with an issue or concern you have or ask for advice. 
  • Finding out what people in your industry are talking about in real time.
  • Commenting on Discussions and offering your own expertise.
  • Becoming an influencer in your industry by providing insight and advice to others.
  • Connecting with people you DON’T know personally, but are influencers you would like to interact with.

How do I find a Group to join?

LinkedIn will suggest groups in your Right Sidebar based on the keywords in your Profile.  Check those groups out—some of them will be a good fit, others probably not.

In the Search box at the top right of your page, you can click on different categories: People, Companies, etc.  Click on Groups and search for a keyword you’re interested in.  For purposes of this article, I put in “Creative.” I got over 50 pages of Groups.  Most of those won’t apply to me, so I might refine my search and try “Creative Los Angeles” or “Creative Design” but I still get plenty of Groups to check out.

You can also use the Groups Directory.

You can search for your hobbies, places you volunteer, companies you’re following or interested in, industries you would like to work in but don’t yet, the list goes on and on.  LinkedIn does limit you to 50 groups, so if you get close to your limit and some groups have become more important to your networking you might want to cull.  I’m a member of 25 groups so far.

What happens when I am a member of a Group?

You will need to make some decisions about how you want to be contacted.  You can do all of your communicating on LinkedIn, have every message in the Group sent to your email Inbox or anything in between.  I usually like to have a “Daily Digest” sent to my email in groups I want to follow closely.  That way I get to see the discussions, but I don’t get inundated with emails.  If I were looking for a job, I might want to be notified more often so I could jump on any good opportunities right away.

Because, yes, Groups have job postings.

Your Digest email will have New Discussions, Continuing Discussions, and New Job Listings.  If you’re interested, take a look.

The real benefit of joining Groups is being able to participate and interact with people who are talking about what you want to talk about, whether you know them or not. Be an influencer, be engaged, be interactive.  That’s what Social Media is for!

Next time: Maximizing LinkedIn: Job Seekers

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Maximizing LinkedIn: Connections

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011|Comments Off on Maximizing LinkedIn: Connections

Last week we talked about what to do first when you sign up with LinkedIn.  I hope your profile is 100% complete, even if you are still making changes and reworking your story.

Now it’s time to connect!

LinkedIn is a place to network with people you know from your work life and your personal life. In other words, people from your real life. Only.   

They don’t have to be in your industry or have any professional connection to you.  The just need to be people you really know and whom you would be happy to introduce to someone else you know.

You will hear from people who are looking for high numbers of connections, not high quality connections.  High numbers are useless if they do not represent real relationships.

So for each person you consider adding to your connections, ask yourself:

  • Do I know them in real life?
  • Would I introduce them to other people I know?

That’s it!

Don’t worry about if they’re in your industry, if you’ve worked with them, if you know what they do or even if they are working at all. You never know what connections will end up being important.

I will finish with a story.  Once upon a time I wanted an informational interview with someone who worked in one of my target companies. I asked my coach, “How do I find someone at X company to talk to?”  My coach’s response was, “Check LinkedIn.” 

Two minutes later, a lovely woman sitting two rows behind me had a copy of my resume to hand to her friend that night at a basketball game because her friend worked for my target company and my friend knew I was a safe person to introduce to her.  Two minutes.

Two days later, I was having coffee with her.

Next time: Joining Groups

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

7 Reasons to Use a Recruiter to Find Talent

Monday, October 3rd, 2011|Comments Off on 7 Reasons to Use a Recruiter to Find Talent

 

If you’ve ever been in a position that required you to hire staff, then you’ll know exactly why the recruitment industry exists – to help clients make their way through the costly and often confusing hiring maze! 

Recruiters are experts at developing key search criteria for a given position and then sourcing, qualifying and negotiating with talent to secure a successful full time or freelance placement.  Though much recruitment is conducted through a specialist recruitment agency or a contract recruiter hired for a short time to assist with key hires, some recruiters can also be found working full time directly for the company doing the hiring.  It really depends on the size and type of business you are running.

Is hiring a recruiter right for your company? 

Before you decide to use a recruiter to find talent, consider the following:

  1. A recruiter can save you time by going through the dozens, or even hundreds, of applicants interested in your position to find only the best of the best.
  2. A good recruiter will have high quality candidates already in their network – an amazing, creative and experienced pool of talent already qualified and ready to present to you.
  3. The best recruiters will always pre-screen candidates, making sure that you only interview those who are truly a good fit.
  4. Recruiters offer substantial cost savings.  They post your jobs to numerous paid job boards on your behalf, take care of taxes and insurance for freelancers and only get paid for their services if they are successful.
  5. A specialist recruiter knows the industry and the skills required for certain positions.  Therefore, they understand your specific needs intimately and, with a little education about your company and culture, can become an extension of your company to potential candidates.
  6. By involving a third party not associated with your company, recruiters allow you to search for talent confidentially, without posting the details of your talent search publicly.  This is key if you’re looking to replace a current employee or vendor.
  7. Recruiters have access to candidates who are not on the open market and may not hear about your opportunity otherwise.

Have you used a recruiter to find your staff?  We would love to hear your story!

Looking for a job yourself?  Consider using a recruiter for your job search as well!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative, with help from everyone on Our Team

Maximizing Your LinkedIn Profile: Getting Started

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011|Comments Off on Maximizing Your LinkedIn Profile: Getting Started

Everybody’s talking about LinkedIn these days. And a lot of them are asking questions.

How many people does it take in your Network to start paying off? 
What’s it really good for?
Did anyone ever get anything out of it?
Who do you connect with? 
Who do you avoid?
Most of all, how can I make LinkedIn work for me?

I will get to all of these questions, but first let’s avoid a few pitfalls. Larry Braman from Global Career Consulting gave me a lot of great advice about getting started with LinkedIn that I would love to pass along!

  1. Get your LinkedIn Profile up to 100% completeness.  Your Profile will take a lot of tweaking, you’re not finished yet, but don’t let it sit there looking unfinished.  The very first people who find you should be able to get an idea of who you are.
  2. Turn off your Activity Broadcasts (temporarily).  While you are doing that tweaking we talked about, you don’t want your connections to see every time you put in a comma.  When you think you’re finished, turn Activity Broadcasts back on, since then it will show when you land a new job, volunteer at a new organization or get a new endorsement!
  3. Enter your Experience manually.  If you let LinkedIn enter the information for you, it will not look the way you want.  Take the time to do this yourself.
  4. When LinkedIn asks if you would like to send invitations to all of your Contacts, say NO.  First of all, you don’t want to send the same generic invitation to everyone.  Second of all, you don’t even want to connect with everyone in your email Contacts (we will get to this later, too).  Third of all, and most important, you can’t ask everyone again later, when you figure out how to do this, without looking like an idiot.

LinkedIn is great for finding people you already know, but you don’t know what they do: other parents from school might work at one of your target companies; people who attend church with you might be looking to hire, you never know. 

Most of all, though, LinkedIn, like your resume, is telling your story. What you do, your job responsibilities, your achievements, your education, what is important to you.  It is a place for people to find things they have in common and ways to help each other.

Next time: What do I do now?

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

One-Up the Competition: 3 Ways to Get a Recruiter’s Attention

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011|Comments Off on One-Up the Competition: 3 Ways to Get a Recruiter’s Attention

 
As creative recruiters, talent are always asking us about the best way to stand out from the countless applications we receive. While a well-written cover letter or introduction email is a good start, job seekers need to do more to make sure their background and skills are being properly considered.

Here are a few tips to get our attention:

1. Be concise. What’s your elevator pitch? Present us with one short and sweet paragraph about why you are perfect for the job to which you are applying. Not too much, not too little. Tell us how your experience specifically applies to the job requirements. This not only makes your history more appealing, but also makes it easier for us to place you.

2. Do NOT bury the lead. If you have a degree from a well-known school, have won credible industry awards or worked with top brands – hit us with that right up front. Don’t make us wait until the bottom of page 2 on your resume!

3. Follow up. Email us every couple of weeks or so to say, “Hey, just wanted to remind you that I am available for work. I’m an art director looking for $45/hr and available to drive anywhere in Los Angeles County. Here’s my website.” This helps keep you top of mind with our company and helps us better serve our clients when we know what talent are available.

Next time: 3 Reasons You’ll Have A Hard Time working with Recruiters.

Kevin Kahn
Talent Manager

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