Why Networking Matters for Your Career (Part II)

networking

In part one of our post on networking, we talked a little bit about the big impact networking can make on your career.

As we mentioned, networking has a lot of big perks, from bringing opportunities to you and helping you make opportunities of your own, to helping you gain knowledge and a broader perspective that will help shape who you are, professionally and otherwise.

But knowing the “why” doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to know how to network successfully, which is why we are going to help you by breaking it all down.

Here are some of our tips for good networking:

  • Think small. It’s not always knowing a lot of people that will necessarily help you when networking. Rather, focus on knowing the right people who will help go in the direction you’d like. Doing so will not only help you maintain your goal, but also ensure that you maintain the friendships that matter to you the most, which definitely isn’t the case when you have so many people you can hardly keep up with them all.
  • Keep in touch. That brings us to our next point: try your best to keep in touch. Nothing is worse than having to ask someone you barely talk with to help with a big favor. We’re not saying you need to be in touch with the person everyday, but the more often you get together, the better. Plus, if it is someone you really have a lot in common with who is willing to go that extra mile for you, then we think networking and maintaining that friendship is a definite win-win.
  • Return the favor. If someone is willing to put in the time and effort to help you out, then they shouldn’t expect any less from you. Always try your best to return the favor. Whether it is something small like a reference or some big opportunity, simply offering that kind of the gesture is the best way to let them know that you are really grateful for all that they do for you.
  • Be authentic. And finally, you need to be authentic throughout this whole process. Never look at someone as simply a bridge to a new job. Not only is it wrong, but if they ever found out, it could potentially ruin a great friendship and perhaps others that you’ve created. Remember, you are dealing with another person, and you certainly wouldn’t want to feel used either, so do your best to refrain from falling into that kind of trap.

Have anything to add to our list? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter!

photo credit: Official GDC via photopin cc

Employers vs. Candidates: Who Is Interviewing Who? (Part I)

skyscraper

For candidates, the interview process can be pretty nerve-racking. They have to prepare themselves for what they’re going to say, whether they’re too dressed up or underdressed, whether their qualifications and characteristics meet the requirements of the job, and more.

And, on top of all that, there’s the possibility that they’ll go through multiple interviews and still not get the job. All in all, being a job seeker can be a pretty tough position to be in.

But believe it or not, candidates shouldn’t be the only ones worried about the interview process. As a company, you are not only in the business of selling goods and services to customers or clients. You’re also in the business of selling your brand and company to the workforce, because without employees, the range of your success would be limited, to say the least.

As such, it is important to not take the hiring process for granted. Here are a few reasons why you, as an employer, should feel like you are being interviewed too. Take a look below:

  • Candidates have options. As much as you’d like to think you are the only company in the world, that isn’t the case. Just like you, candidates have plenty of options when it comes to picking and choosing where they want to work, and chances are, they are weighing the pros and cons of each one. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by making the wrong first impression; when you do, you give your competitors a better opportunity to snatch up your top talent.
  • The candidate experience is essential. Above all, you always need to be thinking about the candidate experience. While some candidates might put up with all of the waiting or lack of acknowledgement from the hiring manager and recruiter, the ones who don’t have the potential to have a large impact when they speak up to their friends. In turn, a few bad candidate experiences can compromise your employer brand and end up narrowing your talent pool—a less than desirable position to be in.

Check back tomorrow when we continue our discussion on employers being interviewed by candidates. In the meantime, what do you think? Do employers need to treat candidates like an interviewer? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter!

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

Millennials: How to Prepare Yourself for Your Future Career (Part II)

taking notes

When it comes to hiring people in the current generation, one of the biggest concerns among employers is that Millennials are not adequately prepared to enter the workforce due to a lack of proper work ethic, experience, and certain essential skills.

On top of that, some Millennials–around 60% of those surveyed, according to a recent study conducted by Bentley University–have also reported that they don’t feel comfortable taking a professional career, and personally blame themselves.

Last Friday, we discussed some of the ways that Millennials can prepare themselves for their future career. To round off our discussion, here are a few more tips:

  • Invest in your soft skills. You may be infinitely qualified when it comes to the technical side of the position, but that won’t necessarily guarantee that you are ready for the job. Investing in your soft skills–which refers to a person’s attitude, communication skills, ability to work with others, critical thinking skills, and work ethic–is an extremely important part of getting yourself ready for your career and ensuring that you are a well-rounded candidate and employee. Not only that—making sure you have a great balance between your technical skills and soft skills can help make you stand out amongst others vying for the position.
  • Take advantage of internships. Internships are a great way to make an ‘in’ with the company you possibly want to work for. Not only will it help you gain the necessary the experience that you would need for the job, but it’s also a great way to test out a field without taking on a full-time job after graduation. And, if you decide to not go out for the position, at least you gain some experience in the professional world and are building your resume–a definite win-win for you.
  • Show off your values and skills. Millennials are quite different from their older counterparts, but that shouldn’t be negative thing. Take the time to show employers how your values and skills can actually help contribute to their company’s success. Whether that means your great technology and social media skills, or that you believe authenticity is an important part of a professional career, take the time to translate your skills into real business value.

What do you think about our list? Have anything to add? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter!

photo credit: itupictures via photopin cc

Job Seekers: Are You Taking Advantage of Twitter’s New Layout?

twitter logo painted

On Friday, we talked about some of the brand new updates that Twitter has begun rolling out this month and why they are so important to businesses looking to maximize their outreach on the social media platform.

As we mentioned, these updates will be a big game changer for businesses when it comes to exposing their brand, recruiting efforts, and leads.

But these big changes will benefit more than just businesses. They’ll also make a big impact on job seekers, too.

Believe it or not, your professional social media presence is similar to that of a business’–you are responsible for maintaining your image (i.e. brand), your credentials, and much more.

And, since “54% of recruiters turn to Twitter when vetting candidates”–which Mashable contributor Stephane Le Viet believes “is likely to increase” due to the new features–it only makes sense that job seekers take the time to update their handles too, in order to benefit from the redesign.

To show you how do that, here are a few ways to take advantage of Twitter’s new layout in order to better your chances of landing a job on your next job hunt. Take a look below:

  • The visual resume. Twitter has gone more visual than ever, with its banner update, embedded videos/photos, and filter feature. Take advantage of this by creating a profile that will show off your professional side.

    For example, you can add a formal headshot or semi-formal photo for your profile image, a personalized, but tasteful banner, and a nice selection of career-oriented videos and images that you find relate to your work ethic and credentials.

  • “Pinned” and best tweets. Gone are the days of sequential tweets. With Twitter’s new “pinned” tweets and best tweets, you have a chance to choose what your Twitter profile says about you.

    Take advantage of the “pinned” tweet feature by showing off your credentials, work ethic, or whatever you think is the number one trait that will get you hired. As for the best tweets, a lot will depend on your followers, but you can take advantage of the feature by strategically tweeting and retweeting (hopefully get others to return the favor) what you think will showcase your qualifications as a professional.

What have you done to take advantage of Twitter’s new layout? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter!

photo credit: eldh via photopin cc

Interviewers: Are You Asking Wrong or Potentially Illegal Interview Questions? (Part II)

Today, we’re going to finish up our list of potentially illegal questions that interviewers sometimes find themselves asking.

As we mentioned yesterday in part one of this post, some of these questions are very common in the interviewing process. So without further ado, here is the rest of our list of questions you can ask–and which illegal interview questions you should avoid:

  • Age
    What you can’t ask:
    “How old are you?; When did you graduate from high school/college?; What is your birthday?; How long have you been working?” What you can ask: “How long have you been working in the industry?; What kind of experience do you have?”

    We’ve mentioned age discrimination before, but stressing the point further doesn’t hurt. Yes, wanting to know how much relative experience a candidate has for a job is certainly a relevant question, but asking for it in relation to their age is setting yourself up for trouble. Remember, though, there are some cases where asking about age is okay.

  • Religion
    What you can’t ask:
    “What religious holidays do you practice?; Do you go to church on Sundays?” What you can ask: “Are you available to work on Sundays?; We need coverage during the following seasons, is that a problem for you?”

    Again, wanting to learn about a candidate’s time commitment and how their schedule will fit with your company’s schedule is perfectly fine, but you should never inquire about an employee’s religious background.

  • Disabilities
    What you can’t ask:
    “Do you have any disabilities/any physical or mental impairments?” What you can ask: “Are you able to perform this job with or without reasonable accommodations?”

    It’s okay to ask whether a candidate can perform the job, but make sure that the questions you ask pertain specifically to the job.

  • Military
    What you can’t ask: “Have you ever been in the military?; What type of discharge did you receive?; What branch of the Armed Forces did you serve?” What you can ask: “What type of training, education or work experience did you receive in the military?”

    Wanting to know what kind of work experience a candidate received is fine, but make sure you keep the questions to just that.

  • Other questions: When asking these last two questions, keep in mind that they cannot disqualify a candidate unless it directly affects their ability to perform the job.

    Arrest and conviction: What you can’t ask: “Have you ever been arrested?” What you can ask: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime? If so, when, where and what was the disposition of the case?”

    Financial status: What you can’t ask: “Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?; Do you own a house or any property?” What you can ask: “May we check your credit history?”

Remember, these questions shouldn’t be considered as ways to get around discrimination laws. Instead, they’re simply meant to prevent you from making the all-too-common mistakes that occur in the interviewing process. Employers asking illegal interview questions is a real problem, and you should make sure to do everything you can to stay on-point.

All of your questions should relate specifically to the job at hand. Keeping these questions in mind when you interview can help minimize discrimination and make for a better interviewing process. And who doesn’t want that?

Here at AIM Careerlink, we’re committed to helping employers find the best talent around–and that means helping you throughout the hiring process. If you have any questions about this blog post, or anything else we’ve written, let us know by connecting with us on our Facebook or Twitter.

Interviewers: Are You Asking Wrong or Potentially Illegal Interview Questions? (Part I)

Yesterday, we talked about age discrimination laws and what you as an employer should know in order to stay within those laws.

But age discrimination laws aren’t the only things you should be looking out for. Discrimination comes in many forms, and as a result, some questions that you ask in interviews can potentially be illegal.

What kind of questions are we talking about here? Surprisingly, some of them are very common interviewing questions.

To show you, we’ve compiled a list of questions from sources around the web (see here, here, and here) on questions you can and cannot ask–and what kind of illegal interview questions you should definitely avoid:

  • Things you should never ask about: Gender, Sexual Orientation, Race, Color, Religion.
    Questions or comments with regard to these kinds of subjects should never be asked, period. Even if the question is innocent and you are just genuinely curious about their background, asking such questions can come off as extremely offensive, and is often illegal.
  • Citizenship, Nationality, and Language
    What you can’t ask: “Are you a U.S. citizen?; Where were you born/where are you from?; Is English your first language?” What you can ask: “Are you legally authorized to work in the U.S?; What languages do you read, speak or write fluently? (tread lightly: this particular question must relate directly to the job)”

    The repercussions of hiring an employee who is not legally allowed to work in the country can be very damaging to your company. That being said, you still can’t poke around and ask questions that pertain to their nationality or citizenship. Again, perhaps you’re genuinely curious about a candidate’s background, but that doesn’t mean that you can ask questions like these.

  • Marital/Family status
    What you can’t ask: “Are you married?; Who do you live with?; Do you plan to have a family?; When?; Do you have any children?; How many?; What are your childcare arrangements?” What you can ask:Would you be willing to relocate?; Would you be willing to travel; Would you be able to work overtime?”

    As an employer, you want to know how much time potential employees can commit to the job, and more often than not, that commitment is based around what they do outside of the workplace. However, probing their personal lives can lead you to a lot of trouble. Also, asking about a candidate’s marital status may also relate to their gender, sexual orientation, and financial/economic status–other off-limits questions in interviews.

These questions aren’t meant as ways to get around discrimination laws–discrimination should be taken very seriously in the workplace. Instead, they’re meant to help you find out information about the candidate that directly relates to the job in order to ensure they are the right fit for your company.

Check back tomorrow for the rest of our list of impolite and illegal interview questions. In the mean time, if you have any questions or comments about legal/illegal interview questions, let us know by connecting with us on our Facebook or Twitter.

Are You Using Social Media Correctly When Screening Applicants? Maybe Not

This past Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported on a New York City Council hearing over an Internet Privacy Bill that would keep employers from demanding access to an employee’s private social media account.

At that hearing was Sarah De Stefano, a Brooklyn Law School graduate, who said she was denied a job at an upstate New York government legal agency when she refused to add a background check investigator as a Facebook friend.

Using Social Networks to Screen Applicants

It’s no secret that employers use Facebook when screening applicants. According to an article published in The Huffington Post last year, researchers found that nearly 37% of the companies surveyed used social networking sites when screening applicants.

Here are some of things employers were looking for:

  • 65% looked to see if the candidate presented himself/herself professionally
  • About half looked to see if the candidate was a good fit for the company culture
  • 45% wanted to learn more about the candidate’s qualifications
  • 12% looked for reasons not to hire the candidate

In that process, 34% percent of hiring managers said they discovered something about the candidate that caused them to not get the job–the majority of which were related to inappropriate photos or info related to drinking or drug use.

Are Companies Looking for the Wrong Things When Using Facebook to Screen Job Applicants?

Still, it’s not entirely clear whether such behaviors reflect a prospective employee’s work ethic. A recent study conducted at NC State University shows that companies might want to rethink the way they use social media to screen applicants.

Researchers measured participants for personality traits that companies look for in job candidates, such as conscientiousness, agreeableness and extraversion. The participants were then surveyed on their Facebook behavior, in order to see which Facebook behaviors were linked to specific personality traits.

Their findings:

  • “People who posted references to drugs and alcohol were no less conscientious or no more conscientious than those who didn’t,” said Dr. Lisa Thompson, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at the university.
  • Will Stoughton, lead author and Ph.D student at the university, concluded that “companies are eliminating some conscientious job applicants based on erroneous assumptions regarding what social media behavior tells us about the applicants.”

What This Means

Facebook and other social media platforms are great tools for employers–especially when it comes to recruiting. But, with the number of states now putting these Internet Privacy laws into affect, coupled with these recent findings, employers may want to rethink the tools they’re using (and how they’re using them).

What are your thoughts on using social media platforms when screening applicants? Should employers have the right to access private social media accounts? Let us know your thoughts by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter.

What is AIM Careerlink?

Earlier today, we welcomed you to our blog. And on our blog, we’ll be posting about everything from advice for job seekers, to news about AIM, to tips for companies seeking employees. You can be sure to expect a wide variety of content.

But before we dive in and start writing about the important details of the career searching world, we thought we might write a post telling a little bit more about who we are, what we do, and how we’re different from other job search websites.

To start, here’s a pretty basic summary of what we do: we’re an online employee recruitment and career-development site, created and hosted by AIM.

AIM is a non-profit from Nebraska that’s committed to strengthening the Nebraska business environment, and here at AIM Careerlink, we’ve created an invaluable tool for helping people get connected with endless career opportunities.

We cater to the following groups:

  • Job seekers
  • Employers 
  • Educators
  • Students

And we know what you might be thinking–aren’t there already lots of sites already out there for helping find jobs? What about LinkedIn, Craigslist, or Monster?

Yes, there are other job sites out there. But for employers and job seekers (in addition to the rest of the groups mentioned above), there’s simply no better tool for finding good employees and good jobs.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • Unlimited job postings and user accounts: As a business, a Basic Unlimited Subscription will grant you access to over 200,000 job seekers each year–and you’ll also be able to post an unlimited number of jobs over that entire year. No other tool around allows that kind of power at a reasonable price.
  • Unlimited access to resume database: In addition to unlimited posting and user accounts for your business, the same subscription will get you access to a database of over 125,000 resumes. We have powerful search tools, and make it as easy as possible for you to reach out and find a qualified candidate if you don’t feel like waiting around for a candidate to come to you.
  • Online applicant tracking: Here’s another great feature on AIM Careerlink: applicant tracking. As a business, you can track applications you receive, rank them, send them emails, search through qualifications, and more. This allows you to keep up on candidates and make sure that you’re always getting the most qualified employee for the job.
  • Job seeker resources: If you’re seeking a job, we offer a lot of great resources for helping to find the right job. Sign-up for a job seeker account on AIM Careerlink is free, and you get access to lots of tools for finding yourself a career. If you’re a student, you can also find scholarships, apply for internships, and plan out a career.
  • Great, verified employers: As a job seeker, you can sleep well knowing that you have access to some of the biggest names in business right here in the Midwest. You can post a resume to get found by employers, and of course, you can actively seek out companies that you want to work for, too. The number of great employers active on AIM Careerlink is invaluable for anyone looking to find a job. And one more thing–all employers on AIM Careerlink have to be verified, so when you’re applying for a job or getting an interview, you’ll know that you’re applying somewhere legitimate.

With AIM Careerlink, you’re getting more than just a job search–you’re getting access to well-thought-out, effective tools, and a large number of strong employers. And even with the other job search websites out there, it’s hard to beat that.

Come back to our blog over the coming weeks for information on anything from how to be great at finding employees to how to make the most of job-seeking tools.

In the mean time, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter (@aimcareerlink). We’re ramping up our social media efforts over the coming months and would love to answer any questions that you may have!