Be LinkedIn or Left Out

LinkedIn is a valuable business networking tool and is critical to a successful job search.  At Northeastern’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business MBA Career Center, we work with our students to help them maximize the value of Linked In.

Be Found – Build a powerful profile so employers searching for people like you can easily find you online.  Make it easy for alumni, current students, and former business colleagues to find you.  The true power of your connections comes from the second and third level so work to build a strong first level of connections.

Quality Not Quantify – There is no prize for having the most contacts but the right contacts are invaluable.  Build a network of people you know to help you achieve your career goals.

Seek Feedback – We review the students’ LinkedIn profiles with them and offer suggestions for improvements.  Have someone else review your profile and share feedback.  Another set of eyes can add valuable insight.

Alumni Connections – In additional to joining LinkedIn groups for alumni, utilize the alumni search to identify alumni connections in your target companies.

Regardless of what stage of your career you are currently in, Linked In is a powerful tool that you can leverage to increase your success in all that you do.

Beginnings and Endings Fall 2015

This is an exciting and busy time on campus in the MBA Career Center at Northeastern’s D’Amore-McKim School of business.  We just celebrated honor society induction and graduation with our Class of 2015 and welcomed the Class of 2017.

Welcome Class of 2017

It is exciting to welcome the MBA Class of 2017.  We are delighted that they have chosen Northeastern’s D’Amore-McKim Graduate School of Business.  They have made a major decision to invest the next two years of their lives in our full-time MBA program.  They are seeking a significant return on that investment in terms of their careers.  They will take many exams, write papers, prepare case analysis and complete group projects over the next two years.  While developing their knowledge of business disciplines, they will also be learning how to advance their careers and prepare for their job searches.

The new class will be busy this fall preparing for their corporate residency job searches next year.  Through both their weekly career management classes and their work with their career advisors, they will develop professional resumes and cover letters, enhance their elevator pitches and their networking skills and they will practice interviewing.  In addition, they will hear from professionals in a variety of companies to help them learn about a wide range of career opportunities.

Experiential learning in not just about the six month residency.  We will also give students valuable opportunities to practice and enhance their networking skills in executive luncheons, Insider Insights sessions, networking events and mock interviews.  They will be expanding their professional networks while they prepare for residency recruiting.

Class of 2016

Our MBA Class of 2016 students are not on campus right now because they are all out working on their six month residency assignments.  I’ve been conducting residency check in visit the last several weeks and continue to be impressed by the work our students are doing.  Their managers are sharing very positive feedback about the value they are bringing to their organizations.  Students are gaining valuable work experience while applying what they learned in the classroom.  Employers gain a six month resource for critical projects and they value to fresh perspectives the students bring in addition to their strong work ethic.

Congratulations Class of 2015

What could be more exciting than watching our students walk across the stage to receive their diplomas at graduation?  They have successfully completed all their requirements for an MBA.  Studying is over.  It is rewarding to watch them take the next step in their careers moving on to leadership development programs and other exciting new roles.  Their hard work has led them to an important next step in their careers.  We enjoy celebrating their success with them and their families.  We now have the opportunity to work with them throughout their careers as alumni.  I look forward to seeing many of them back on campus in the future hiring students for their organizations.

I was particularly proud of the students inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society for their outstanding academic achievements.

In the circle of life we celebrate both the beginning and the endings and wish the students all the best throughout life’s journeys.

Tough Questions – Tell Me About Your Manager

The interview is going well, you are building a strong rapport with the hiring manager when suddenly you are caught off guard by the question – “What do you think of your previous boss?”  Where did that come from and how on earth should you respond?

Stay Positive

As much as possible, stay positive.  Obviously if you have a great manager, acknowledge that and specify what makes this relationship so positive for you.  If on the other hand, you have a more challenging relationship with your manager, proceed cautiously.   If a candidate rants negatively about a prior manager, the interviewer often considers the employee the problem and will be hesitant to make the hire.  Focus on what this individual did well or maybe what you were able to learn from him.  A savvy interviewer will learn as much from what you do say as from what you don’t.  Gain their respect by finding something positive to say.

Be Honest in a Positive Way

Maybe it was a truly difficult relationship and you struggled every day.  Don’t go there.  You may want to acknowledge that while you had very different styles, you found a way to work together to deliver results or meet customer needs.  Maybe working with this individual helped you crystalize your personal management style by helping you realize what was most important to you in a manager.  Be prepared to give a specific example that can be shared in a positive way.

Why Ask?

The interviewer may just want to see how you handle an unexpected question.  They could also know that there are some difficult personalities on the team and want to know who you handle those challenges.  If you haven’t already met the person who would be your manager in the new job, be sure you do before accepting the position.  Maybe it’s code for the new boss can be really tough to work for.

The Focus is You

Remember, they are interviewing you.  Keep the focus on what skills and experience you bring to this position and how you add value.  Let your strengths show in your answer and move the interview on to more important questions.

Reference Checking Reality

So you made it through multiple rounds of interviews and the hiring manager has called to request your references.  You are now anticipating an offer once they hear the glowing things your references have to say, right?  Not so fast.  Reference checking has changed and you need to be aware of the changes.

Playing the Game to Win

Of course you have to provide the references they requested.  Be sure to ask permission first and to verify contact information before sharing it.  Provide your references a copy of the job description and your resume and prepare them for the call.  Let them know what the hiring manager feels is important so they can best support you.  Be sure to thank them after they take the call and let them know the outcome.  This is the part of the process you can control.

Be creative in identifying references.  If the position requires managing others, identify someone you managed to act as a reference.  If cross-functional collaboration is important, identify a colleague you worked with on a cross-functional project.  If it requires customer or vendor interaction, do you have a vendor or customer who would attest to your skills in that area?

The References You Don’t Identify

Employers have played this game before.  They know you will provide references with good things to say about you.  No surprise there.  What most employers will also do is review their contacts.  If they know someone who works at the same company, they will ask about you.  They will look for common Linked In connections and will seek input that way as well.  They are looking for the honest feedback they want and can’t trust your references to provide.

Employers will also typically google the potential employee to see what comes up.  How is a candidate to prepare?  You can’t.  Just know that employers will be seeking other contacts to tell them about you.  You should however google yourself periodically so at least you know what they will see when they check out your online presence.

Yes, you still have to play the game and provide the requested references but know that they will likely check more broadly.  This is why you should never burn any bridges.

When Timing Matters in Your Job Search

I recently received a question about the timing of job offers.  What if you receive an offer but there is another position in the works that you would prefer?  How does one handle that?

When You Receive the Offer

Say thank you very much.  Let them know you are interested but would like to give the decision careful consideration and you want an opportunity to review the benefits materials in detail.  Buy yourself at least 24 hours but don’t expect them to grant you too much time.  Think about the pros and cons of the opportunity on the table and carefully review the offer letter and benefits materials.

Contacting the Other Company

If you are fairly far along in the process with the other company, call your contact.  Explain that you have another offer on the table but that their opportunity would be much more appealing to you.  Ask when they expect to make a decision.  If asked, let them know your deadline.  They may or may not be able to meet your timeframe.  Companies all work on different schedules with different priorities and approval processes.  It is unreasonable to expect that offers are all on the table at the same time.

Consider Your Alternatives

Can you live with the decision of turning down the first opportunity even if the second one does not come through as you had hoped?  What are the down sides to declining the first position?  Consider the pros and cons of each alternative.

Making Decisions with Imperfect Information

More often than not, you have to make a decision with imperfect or incomplete information.  This is a valuable life skill and a critical skill for success in business.  At some point you have to take a leap of faith.  After your careful analysis of the pros and cons, you need to trust your gut and make a decision.  If you accept the first position, make the most of it.  Don’t second guess yourself if the second offer does come through.  Thank them and ask if you can stay in touch for future opportunities.  Once a decision is made, accept it and move on.