Jeff Katz was out of a job when the economy hit rock bottom. He began to realize that going online looking for work was not enough. People including Adam Reiter of CareerKungFu.com/The Job Pros helped Katz to meet people and eventually become employed. Katz learned that “seeing obstacles and having paralysis” was hindering his job search, that he had to “change my attitude, or gravity would pull me down,” and that if one stays surrounded by positive people, it’s a case of “good energy in, good energy out.”
“Some people have given up,” Katz, now an attorney with Morgan Drexen, added. “They’ve tried the same thing again and again and aren’t getting anywhere. They need to learn new skills and guard against paralyzing thoughts. They’re going to get hit with a lot of rejection, so they have to learn skills to deal with the emotional issues as well as tools for their job search.”
Wanting to “pay it forward,” Katz collaborated with Reiter in coordinating “OC Works! A community-wide event for job-seekers,” a full day of free job search programming to provide needed services and resources to the Orange County community during the economic downturn. Offered by the Jewish Federation Assistance Center in partnership with the Orange County One-Stop Center, CareerKungFu.com, Jewish Family Service, the Jewish Community Center of Orange County, Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School, the Hillel Foundation of Orange County, as well as many of Orange County’s synagogues, the program on Tuesday, March 9, at the Samueli Federation Campus, gave people in the community job search tools as well as access to area employers.
The first half of OC Works! – from 8 to 11 a.m. – was dedicated to providing insights to the current job market, 21st century job search strategies, and networking tips through highly interactive and informative break-out sessions. Presenters were Reiter; Rachel Gross, a public relations social media expert with Boost Mobile; and Ellia Kassoff, founder and CEO of Strategic Software Resources, Inc.
The second half of OC Works! offered meaningful interaction between hundreds of qualified job seekers with potential employers. Participating companies – including New York Life, the Hyatt Regency, Aflac Insurance, University of Phoenix , Kimco Staffing, Strategic Software Resources, and The Buddy Group, Morgan Drexen, Anna’s Linens, Richmond & Associates and CoAction Insight, Real Estate Disposition Corporation / REDC Group – met with job seekers from 12 to 3 p.m. The idea, according to Katz, was to enable participants to take the skills learned in the morning, exercise them in the afternoon, and get tips from the prospective employers.
“So much of the job search is mental,” Reiter said. “The secret weapon is the inner you.” He advised job seekers to maintain consistent good energy, develop routines that provide the most energy, and fight negative chatter. He also provided tips on unlocking the hidden job market through networking, referrals, and blogging.
“Avoid ‘notworking’ – asking for a job from someone you don’t really know,” Reiter said. He also encouraged people to develop a specific voice as an expert on something, being the only one at an event who is an expert in a given field, and focusing energy on activities that provide the greatest return.
“Treat your job search as if it’s a business and you’re the CEO,” Reiter said. “There are jobs out there, and people are landing them.”
“A good resume is about achievements, achievements, achievements,” said Kassoff. “Focus on what makes you different or what value you have added. Ask yourself if you would say ‘so what’ or ‘wow’ to what you say in a resume, and make every sentence an achievement.”
Kassoff recommended that a resume should be two pages with three to six bullet points at the beginning to quantify one’s career. He said that job seekers should “use fonts and formats that will make the resume stick out and make sure it’s readable” and “add hyperlinks and logos but no pictures.”
Kassoff also talked about interview techniques. He said that everybody is in sales and that people have to sell themselves at all times. “Interviewing is like dating, and the goal is to get the date,” he quipped. “Always close and ask for the next steps.”
In addition, Kassoff urged participants to stay positive during interviews. He recommended that they conduct interviews later in the day.
For a phone interview, Kassoff said the applicant should “be prepared – research the company and interviewer on LinkedIn or Google, always be upbeat and positive, focus on your achievements and what makes you different, close the interviewer, and ask for the next step or process.” For an informational interview, he suggested using LinkedIn to find hiring managers, calling them after hours, mentioning “that you’re doing research and want some time with them,” not actually asking for the job, and sending a nice message asking whom to speak with for a job.
When it comes to face-to-face interviews, “put your sales hat on, picture yourself selling to the person, focus on your achievements, and figure out what the company is looking for and how you fill it,” Kassoff said. “Try to be the last interview of the day. Ask for a recap of the interviews so far – the best and the worst. Be interactive. Ask for control. Ask why the interviewer brought you there. Don’t be defensive. Be positive. Be in control. Ask quality questions, showing that you researched the company. Always close the person.”
Rachel Gross spoke about the effective use of social media. “You should ask, ‘What is your voice?’ and express your personal brand,” she said. “Showcase your subject matter expertise.” She recommended free sites – blogger.com, wordpress.com, and blog.com – where would-be bloggers can go for help, suggested that people blog three times a week, and told people how to get free images to use on blogs at creativecommons.com.
Gross talked about the “whys” of using Twitter. “It’s a “a simple exchange of information with an easy-to-find audience at twitter.com, and a way to grow your blogging audience and network,” she said. She recommended picking an ID that is simple and doing it at least once a day.
A Facebook fan page is a “complete platform to host all content – videos, photos, and links,” Gross said. “It reaches a large and easily accessible audience.” How? “Organize the page around your brand or area of expertise, and update the content regularly.”
“We were glad to get a large attendance, but saddened at the same time that we got one,” Katz said.