Interview with Tim Tyrell-Smith of Tim’s Strategy
Today’s interview is with Tim Tyrell-Smith, founder of Tim’s Strategy: Ideas for Job Search, Career, and Life. He has authored two books. Tim works as a marketing coach, life coach, and professional keynote speaker, discussing marketing and social networking. Follow him on twitter @timsstrategy.
Kaleigh: After reading your bio, it sounds like you stumbled into blogging about careers and unemployment because you needed to keep the faith while searching for a job. Since then, the market has only gotten worse. Any tips for job seekers out there who are ready to throw in the towel and wait it out until things start to pick up? What kept you searching for a job?
Tim: Actually my blogging started as a way to give back after a successful job search in 2007. Once I figured out an efficient strategy, I wanted to help others succeed. Not that I didn’t have bad days during job search. I did. But I believed in myself and kept positive activity happening. For people thinking about giving up, make sure you are getting out of the house, meeting with others and connecting with your network. You are not alone and can find significant support and motivation from a strong and growing network.
K: Employers are probably more attracted to candidates who are driven. They know what they want to do. Do you think it’s better for a job seeker to have a strong idea of what position they’re looking for or should they be more flexible?
T: I believe very strongly that a job seeker needs specific job search objectives. Mostly for educating your network. People can’t help you with leads or connections if they have only a vague understanding of what you are looking for in the next job. In the end, you will be forgotten over the weeks after your first meeting with someone. For employers, they are looking for people who really want to work there and in that position. If you show a genuine interest in a position during interviews, that will help make you interesting.
K: Your blog has taken off and gained a strong readership. Did you have to learn the ins and outs of social media? What’s been helpful for you in facilitating conversation and keeping readers interested?
T: It’s about engaging people. And it took a long time in the early days. Many late nights answering question on my LinkedIn group, Twitter, Facebook page and on the blog. People want to know that there is a real person behind the curtain. Someone who has good, relevant experience and truly wants to help and connect with others. I ask a lot of questions to start conversations. I also send personal emails to key contributors thanking them for participating.
K: Recently you mentioned celebrating the small victories on the job hunt. Some people might be worried that they’ll get too confident having landed an interview and then be more devastated if the job falls through. How can they use this one success to keep the good news coming?
T: Recognizing and sharing small wins allow for you to focus on the positive along the way. It’s too easy to pay attention to bad news and no news. And sharing small wins helps others feel better while also providing ideas on how others can manufacture positive events. Interviewing with confidence is key. One way to do that is to continue pushing for more leads, more interviews and new connections at target companies. If you have only one option, there is a risk of being too dependent or desperate. Having multiple options allows you to be yourself and ask good questions knowing that if one interview doesn’t work out, you have others in the funnel.
K: Networking is always important, but is there anything else the younger generation should do before graduating from college to make the job search easier?
T: Sure, here are a few ideas. Be professional in your communications, responsible in online interactions and respectful of those you meet (the way you dress, the way you use their time). Also, younger candidates tend to be more comfortable networking online and less comfortable and active networking in person. Use a balanced approach to expose your brand in the best possible way.
K: Some people believe that a hiring manager won’t take the time to interview a candidate unless serious about potentially hiring him or her. Do you think that’s true?
T: Often times a hiring manager will choose from a variety of candidates with different strengths for comparison purposes. But more often, yes, they are looking for those with the best fit for the job description. Interviewing is a big time commitment so interviewing poorly qualified candidates doesn’t happen as often. Before the market got so crowded, people used to look for “the best athletes” even if they weren’t a perfect fit. Today, however, with so many perfect fits on paper you see fewer companies taking risks on candidates.
K: For younger candidates, experience tends to be an issue. Someone has to hire them for that first job or internship if they want to gain experience. What’s the best way for a candidate with less experience but a hard work ethic to shine in an interview?
T: First, you can show enthusiasm and an ability to work independently. Sometimes companies don’t hire interns because they take too much time to manage and deliver little value in a 90-day internship. Also, come recommended. You reduce the risk for the hiring manager if your resume comes via a friend or colleague.
A Guide To Making The Most Of Your Job Search
If you Google the word ‘jobs,’ you’ll receive almost 3.5 billion results. Now Google is my go-to search engine, but it’s bound to return a frustratingly long list of results if not used properly. In much the same way, if you search for ‘accounting’ jobs on even the most widely-used job search engine, you’ll be stuck sifting through thousands of listings. And you’ll probably want to slam your head into the desk.
I’m not sure I can live with myself knowing that, so I’m going to offer you a solution: a guide to making the most of Uvisor’s job search.
Upload your resume. I know you know where you went to school and how many years’ experience you have, but the search engine doesn’t. If you upload your resume, you’re able to search listings based on what internships and positions you previously held. It’s the only way to effectively search based on your degree(s) and certifications.
Include salary preferences. Everyone has loans and bills to pay for. Even if you claim you don’t have any salary requirement, you should practice for the real deal when an employer asks your salary range requirement. It’ll take the jobs with extremely low salaries (and unpaid or volunteer positions) out of the equation.
Include keywords to scan for. The more you know about what kind of job you want, the more likely you are to find it. Be picky and used the advanced search feature to search for an exact phrase, such as ‘financial analyst’ or ‘sales associate.’ You can also include the different tasks you know how to do when you’re searching so you know you’ll be a good fit for the job.
Eliminate certain words. If you’re looking for an entry-level position, the advanced search feature allows you the option of excluding listings with words like ‘senior’ or ‘executive’ in them. Or you can do the exact opposite search to find positions requiring more experience.
Search by position. If you know what position you’re looking for, include that in the advanced search ‘job title’ field to find only that position. You’ll save yourself a headache later and you’ll eliminate jobs you’re not interested in or not qualified for.
Sort results by date. You’re more likely to receive an inquiry from the company if you apply for a job soon after it’s posted. A position posted almost a month ago is (theoretically) well underway to being filled—if not already. Some employers don’t get around to removing a post right away, so make sure you’re jumping on newer opportunities.
Include a location. You’re willing to relocate anywhere in the U.S., right? As long as they’ll pay you and you can afford it. But do you really mean it? If not, add a metropolis or state to make your search easier to manage.
What other search techniques help you keep your results at a manageable level?
How To Brand Yourself
Just because your GPA landed you on the Dean’s List every semester and you have more work experience than most does not mean you’ll slam-dunk when it comes to landing a job or an internship in today’s hyper-competitive market. According to the National Association for College and Employers, all students need to create their own personal “brand.”
Get the Ball Rolling
What is a personal brand anyway? It’s about playing to the unique strengths and attributes each person has. It’s what makes a person stand out. You have to think about how you want to be known before you can focus on building skills and doing things that will enhance your image. Students who are able to communicate a strong personal brand—sharing the unique strengths they can bring to an organization—are more attractive to employers.
Start by using your resume and cover letter. Remember, these documents will serve as a company’s first impression of you, so it’s critical that you perfect them. Make this introduction count by positioning yourself properly, beginning with presentation.
Use Social Networks
If you haven’t been living under a rock these past few years you know that social networking is the new movement. Most people use social networks to keep tabs on people they already know. Although stalking your former high school friends may be a fun way to pass the time, it won’t help with the job search process. Use social networks to meet new people with similar interests and ideas. You’ll find that the friends you make through these networks may prove to be useful.
Actively participate on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but ask yourself if your profiles are appropriate for an employer’s eyes. Almost 45% of employers look at your social media profiles to get better insight. Make sure your profile looks appropriate, un-tag pictures of yourself from that crazy Friday night, and make sure your friends aren’t posting inappropriate comments on your wall. Post all your contact information and join alumni groups to increase your chances of connecting with a potential employer.
Be Conscious of Every Email You Send
Whether using your smartphone or typing on your computer, always use proper grammar, spelling, punctuation and etiquette whenever writing an email. During networking and job hunting, you will primarily communicate with people via email; sloppy emails equal sloppy images. Don’t discredit yourself by forgetting to give an editorial eye to every email sent.
Perfect Your Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is essentially a 30-second description of who you are in terms of your background and career aspirations. Imagine standing in an elevator with someone or a potential employer and he or she asks you to describe yourself and personal goals. Would you be able to give an articulate, clear response?
To help guide your pitch, keep in mind these fundamental questions:
• Who are you?
• What are your accomplishments?
• Where are you going, and what are your ultimate goals?
When fine-tuning your pitch, these questions may help you create an outline:
• How have your past experiences with internships and volunteer work prepared you to meet your goal?
• What are your strongest skills?
• How do you stand apart from other entry-level applicants? What makes you unique and memorable?
Once you’ve drafted something impressive, practice it! Nothing is worse than stumbling through your elevator pitch with a bunch of “um’s” and “you know’s” popping up in every other sentence. Rehearse in front of your mirror, your parents or anyone who can give you constructive feedback regarding body language, tone and fluidity. Be friendly, make eye contact, and give your interviewer a strong, confident handshake.
Photo Credit: jscreationzs
Motivational Mondays: Stop and Ask For Directions
People like to talk. I learned that from the grocer at the checkout aisle in ShopRite and the sales associate in American Eagle who asked me my whole life story. They want to feel needed, useful, important.
But you know what’s funny about that?
They hate asking for help.
I’m a little worried we’re all stuck in a sci-fi movie, morphing into the same creature: a stubborn middle-aged man on a family vacation who made a wrong turn somewhere back there.
“Just pull over and ask for directions,” his wife says from the passenger seat. She’s rifling through the glove compartment for the atlas he tried to throw out a few years back during a mid-life crisis, my-life-is-too-cluttered moment.
He shakes his head and keeps driving, narrowly avoiding careening off a cliff when he pumps his brakes hard and stops the front tires from tipping over the edge.
I sometimes think that’s what it takes for us to realize we need help; we need to ask for directions.
The great thing is, the grocer and the sales associate and your university’s career services counselor all want to help you. They’ll tell you in which aisle you’ll find the instant mashed potatoes and what percent discount you’ll receive on that new t-shirt and how to start your job search.
Yes, there are people in the world who can help you. People whose job it is to find you a job. Imagine that.
Imagine the middle-aged man pulling over his Caravan and asking the gum-cracking convenience store clerk where he made a wrong turn on the road map to life.
That’s what it feels like when you hit a brick wall in your job search. But the good news is that so many people are lined up all over the Internet waiting to help you. Like volunteers at the water break stations during a marathon.
So if you’ve hit that wall or reached the edge of that cliff and you’re hanging on, waiting for a sign to magically appear in front of you, don’t. Start asking questions and sharing your story and talking to people who have that job you’d love.
Find out what worked for them and learn from their mistakes. Learn from the others who came before you and help the ones after you. The Internet is having one giant conversation, so join the discussion.
And start today. Right now. We just opened our forums where you can chat about networking, interviewing, the job search, unemployment, and more. In a few clicks, you could be well on your way down the right path.
Motivational Monday Special Edition: A Fork In The Road
Today’s special edition Motivational Monday post is written by Abby Kohut, the President of Staffing Symphony, LLC. Abby has 15 years of experience from Corporate Recruiter to Senior Director of Recruiting in a variety of industries. Abby’s articles on AbsolutelyAbby.com and her bi-weekly Career Wake Up Calls inspire job seekers to stay motivated as they continue their search for their ideal job. Abby has presented to over 100 groups and was recently interviewed on ABC’s Good Morning Connecticut, WKTU-FM, WOR-AM, WDVR-FM, and the Joe Franklin show on Bloomberg Radio. Her book “Absolutely Abby’s 101 Job Search Secrets” teaches candidates secrets about the job search process that other recruiters won’t tell you. Abby was selected as one of “The Monster 11 for 2011: Career Experts Who Can Help Your Job Search”. Since 2010, Abby has been on a mission to help one million job seekers.
There are many people who have inspired me over the years – people whose names we all know…Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, etc…and of course my mom. Today I watched a video by Dr. Helen Harkness about changing careers that inspired me. She asks, “What career would you choose if you were 20 years younger?” Clearly I know my answer to that one. I wouldn’t have waiting so long to write my first book or to create Absolutely Abby. What is your answer?
If you aren’t sure, try this exercise when you have a block of uninterrupted free time:
On the left side of a piece of paper, jot down the specific tasks that you love to engage in at work. Then, write the tasks that you procrastinate doing for as long as possible, or strongly dislike doing, on the right side. Your goal should be to target your search towards jobs that are filled with a majority of responsibilities from the left side of your page – the tasks you love. You may find if you are completely honest with yourself that you actually know what your ideal job looks like.
Another way to come up with your ideal job is to simply think about what you would do if you suddenly became a billionaire and spent all the money that you wanted to on cars, homes, clothes, and even bought yourself a private jet. Also assume that your family was well taken care of. Suppose that you didn’t want to retire just yet. What would you do to keep yourself busy?
Why is it so important to me that you love what you do? Because once you love what you do, it no longer seems like work. It’s also a great way to move up the ladder quickly because when you love what you do, you tend to perform above and beyond expectations. And a byproduct of loving your job is less day-to-day angst which may result in a happier & healthier personal life.
Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
Before you continue with your search strategy, take a few steps back and determine whether the career you have chosen is something you still feel passionate about with all of your heart and soul. If not, this may be the time to try something else. I’ve personally done it 3 times, so I know it’s possible! Wishing you all the luck on your journey!
The 10 Cheapest First Dates for Under $25 (Combined)
By Nick Durante
This is a list of the cheapest (but somewhat thoughtful) dates a couple can go on.
10. Free Museum Days
If your significant other is really into the arts, he or she may love to go to a museum. Those places can be pretty expensive; the Philadelphia Museum of Art goes for $16 a ticket! However, on the first Sunday of every month at this popular museum (Rocky!) the rate is “pay what you wish all day.” This is what I like to call a loophole. Check local listings for similar deals.
9. Minor League Baseball Game
Are you a couple who are into sports? Try out a minor league baseball game! What can be better than watching young ballplayers who may or may not eventually be in the big leagues one day struggle through their development? You can do it at a Lakewood BlueClaws game for $10 a person. What a deal!
If you love the boardwalk, going there is the best place for you. Everyone loves putt-putt: go mini-golfing. You can then restrict your girl to one piece of plain pizza, no more. Refuse to let her get a dessert (tell her funnel cake is bad for her). If she asks to play games like the horse race or darts, pretend to not hear her so you don’t burn a hole in your pocket.
Is your date so ugly that you can’t look at her, bring her to a dimly lit place so you don’t have to! Sona Thirteen in Morristown, NJ has Happy Hour every Thursday and Friday. You may think that’s not special, but they offer a free buffet from 5-7 both days. It’s great to get some munchies and get tipsy.
6. That Day’s Groupon
Say you forgot that you have a date this evening, and you totally forgot about it until right now. What do you do? You can’t make reservations at an expensive restaurant. How about that day’s Groupon for your area? It works perfectly- it is cheap and does not require a lot of thought. Do it.
5. $1 Wii Bowling
On Monday nights at the Manalapan Lanes, the alley offers $1 games. But then you also have to factor in the price of shoes, and once you are there, your girl will want to get some snacks. Avoid this problem altogether by going Wii Bowling. It is free (!!) and your date will not want anything that you don’t already have in the house anyway. It’s a great time waiting to happen.
4. Wine and a Movie
This is the epitome of classiness. You have always wanted to break out your wine glasses in your cabinet. Buy some boxed wine (Franzia is my choice of boxed wines) to set the mood. This settles the wine part of the date, but what about the movie? Well, Netflix offers a neat 30 day trial. You can order the trial in time for date night, and once your lady leaves (the next morning if everything goes smoothly), you cancel the order. The total cost of the night to you: the price of the Franzia.
If the nearest state park to you has fireworks, you can go watch them with your date. Pack a picnic basket and a blanket and drive down to the park. Make sure you don’t tell your date what you bought. Once there, break out the Saltine crackers, American cheese, and cheap champagne. Your lady will be amazed and tell all her friends about the fantastic date, making all her girlfriends want you. Job well done, sir.
2. Home Cooked Meal
Show your date how domesticated you are by making her a home-cooked meal. Buy a pound of pasta at your local supermarket. Get a jar of Ragu. Voila! If you are feeling adventurous, make some frozen meatballs. If you are feeling really adventurous, buy some inexpensive red wine. It’ll make for a night your date will never forget.
These two national chains that offer a 2 for $20 deal are a toss-up for the number 1 spot. You get an appetizer to split and two entreees. It depends on what your girl is in the mood for that night. If she is feeling spicy go for Chili’s, but if she wants to be more down to earth, Applebee’s is the route to go. Either way, it’s a winning situation or your wallet.
Don’t Be Above The Dirty Work
My little sister works at Auntie Anne’s selling pretzels and lemonade. Her first complaint, when she walks through the garage door and into the family room, isn’t about how tired she is or that she smells like a pretzel factory—it’s about the other kids she works with. The lazy ones.
“This new girl,” she says, rolling her eyes as she remembers it. “She stands at the ICEE machine all day. That’s not a job. How many people does she think order ICEEs?”
She’s irritated by these kids. Like she’s not one of them. Like they’re a separate generation of unmotivated, uninterested teenagers.
For her, the worst job’s not manning the ICEE machine—it’s ovens.
“You have to be smooth about it,” she explains to me. “You say, ‘Here, can you hold these for a second while I run to the bathroom?’
And then you hand off the tongs and oven mitt and you don’t come back for it.”
She complains that the new kids, like ICEE girl, don’t know how to handle the ovens. They won’t take the tongs from her and they’ll make some weird, noncommittal noise when she asks to switch stations with them.
“I don’t know how to do ovens,” some of them tell her. That’s her favorite line.
“No time like the present,” she tells me, shooing her arms at me like I’m the lazy ICEE girl. “Nobody taught me how to do ovens. They just threw me on there one day. Shoved me in the back for five hours.”
She sounds like a 75-year-old man talking about his days on the assembly line at an automotive factory.
But she’s right. These kids, they don’t want to work. They want to stand in front of the fountain drink machine and cap lemonades all day.
She used to be the same way. I don’t tell her that because she already knows, because she’s grown up now. She learned that no one is above doing the dirty work.
I think it’s even more important now that the job market’s so rough. No one should be above doing what they have to do to stay afloat, whether that means pulling trays of pretzels out of a hot oven or juggling a cardboard beverage holder loaded with lattes.
Upper level management should know better than anyone else how the entry-level positions operate. A regional manager from McDonald’s should be able to step in and assemble a hamburger if the restaurant they’re visiting that day hits a huge dinner rush. They should know the business better than anyone else.
Because if you’re running a company, you want to make sure you have its customers in your best interest. And that means starting with the most menial of tasks, working back up the ladder.
If that means interning when you’re middle-aged, so be it. Any experience is good experience, especially if you’re trying to switch career paths.
The Job Hunter’s Guide To Getting Back Out There
The unemployed college graduate’s natural response is to fill out applications—anywhere and everywhere. But when the going gets tough and you’re ready to throw in the towel, there’s more than one way to spend your free time. Besides applying, here’s a list of some ways to spend your time and improve your chances of getting hired:
1. Take classes. Be a constant learner. If you’re looking for a job in a technology-related industry, make sure you’re always up to date on the latest software programs and newest developments. And what better time than the present to mess around with new programs and teach yourself?
2. Set up informational interviews. If you’re looking for a job in your area, chances are you know which companies you’d want to work for. Contact someone with the job you want (or someday want) and ask if they’d be willing to meet with you for half-an-hour to tell you what the position entails, what their typical day is like, and what you need to know to be a strong candidate for a similar position.
3. Volunteer. I guarantee there’s a company out there that wouldn’t mind some free help every once in a while. And it looks great on your resume. You won’t have to worry about spending all your time volunteering, either. Many others who are employed full-time still find the time to volunteer—even if it’s just for a few hours a month.
4. Intern. Internships may be paid (although usually not) and many corporations offer internship programs. They’re often more hours than a volunteer opportunity and may lead to a strong recommendation for a future position. And if you intern at a company and realize you don’t like the position, you’ll save yourself the hassle of applying and working there full-time later on. Another perk? An internship could lead to a full-time position if the company needs to fill a vacancy.
5. Attend webinars/live chats/tweet-ups. Talking to real people in real time about your industry is a serious networking opportunity. It’s a chance to showcase your knowledge and gain a strong insight into what the rest of your future coworkers are talking about. And you can have all your questions answered by other professionals.
6. Start a blog. This is especially important for anyone in a writing-related field, but if there’s a niche market for bloggers in your industry, it can’t hurt to get involved. Writing about your industry gives you the opportunity to share your own knowledge, but it also helps you stay informed on the latest trends and news. Along with that, it’s another potential networking opportunity if you interact with fellow bloggers and commenters.
7. Freelance. Not every industry will offer freelance opportunities, and it’s definitely not a money-making opportunity. That said, it is experience and gives you something tangible to show for the period of time while you were out of work. And it’s a little extra cash to keep you afloat.
What else are you doing to keep busy while unemployed? And what suggestions do you have for others?
Motivational Mondays: Father’s Day Edition
In honor of Father’s Day yesterday, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition hosted a job rally in Chicago. The organization focuses on a number of issues in order to promote social change, according to its website.
These next few days, according to the Chicago Sun Times, the organization will offer courses in resume writing, interviewing, and money management with a focus on helping educate unemployed fathers.
Rainbow PUSH recognizes a cultural trend among our society: the idea that men need to be employed in order to uphold their duties as fathers.
Men have been taught that being unemployed is equated with failure. The truth is, with a national unemployment rate at 9.1% according to MyFox New York, more than a handful of fathers are unemployed.
But should that make them less of a father?
And even President Obama said that his hardest job isn’t being Commander-in-Chief—it’s being a dad.
The father who wants to provide for his children might have to work late hours or opt for a longer commute. He might search every day for a new window of opportunity, filling out countless applications and interviewing with companies that may or may not offer him a position. He’ll try and that’s what counts.
So today, the best thing any unemployed father can do is start the job search. It’s not an easy process and it’s not always quick, but if this country is going to be so persistent and insist that a “good” father is an employed father, there’s no time like the present.
Link Assembly: Weekend Recap (6/20/11)
Here’s what you missed this weekend:
Greece needs help, and it’s pulling the U.S. stock market down with it.
Obama says being a father is his hardest job.
Bloomberg Businessweek says that Americans who want to quit their jobs may be the most influential in the 2012 election.
Bank lending is picking back up in Florida for the first time since 2007.
Rory McIlroy won the U.S. Open this weekend.
Charlotte Bloomberg, mother of New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, passed away.
Detroit teachers are all losing their jobs at the end of July.
Not all Republicans are on the same page when it comes to involvement in Libya.
Applications will soon be accepted for unique domains, but not without a high bidding price.
Google’s Chromebook is now available for purchase in the United States.
Lindsey Pollak has the key to getting the most out of informational interviews.
Penelope Trunk tackles blogging, Father’s day, and being present.
More people than ever before are paying it forward.
A new Miss USA has been crowned.