I attended the Mississauga Coffee Hunters networking meeting yesterday and, as an HR professional and long-time member of HAPPEN, I found myself interrupting people's stories to interject comments. Several seem to be obvious, but evidence that they need to be repeated keeps cropping up. Here are some of these comments.

You are always on display
You are always on display, even in networking get-togethers. Others who attend may be unemployed, and the setting may be informal, but please spend some time on grooming. Those of us who become employed may very well remember you not for your qualifications, but for the raggedy jeans youalways wore, or the Saturday sweat shirt. Always dress the part of a conscientious job-seeker.

Your Elevator Speech
Your elevator speech has to be tempting. You only have 30 seconds, so say what you are passionate about. Sure, you are leaving a lot of great stuff out of the speech, but if that 30 seconds is packed with what you are passionate about, you will have captured your audience‚s attention and guess what they will clamour to know more about you. Don't forget to return the favour and listen to what they are passionate about.

Functional résumés don't work
This is because they seem to hide a multitude of sins, like gaps in your résumé or how old your actual experience is. As an HR
professional, I sometimes pass these résumés along if the experience or educational qualifications seem to fit, but hiring managers are usually just as frustrated as I am. It's too much effort to figure out if you are worth bringing in to interview or not. So make it really easy to be chosen.

If you don't know how, get help
If you don't know how to explain gaps or the age of your experience, get help. Ross MacPherson is an approved HAPPEN provider and can assist you in this. Or e-mail me for other recommendations. By the same token, if you are nervous about interviewing, get help. There is no shame in being smart in your job search. I'm an HR professional, and you'd think I had the interviewing thing down pat. I didn't. I got help. Now I am a much stronger interviewee.

Your functional résumé can be used
Don't despair. Your functional résumé can be used to create a one-page résumé / marketing tool. Jim Geraghty can tell you more about the marketing letter, and Curt Skene can tell you lots about the one-page résumé. In fact, if you go the Curt's LI profile at
http://ca.linkedin.com/in/curtskeneyou will find a one-page format in his Box.

Speaking of LinkedIn
Speaking of LI, if you are going to connect with anyone, remind the person you are inviting who you are or where you met. If you haven't met, be ready to offer that person some help or to state the purpose of the connection. If I don't have time to go looking for the reason for the connection, I end up never responding to the invitation. If you see value in the connection, say so. Chances are, so will the person you are inviting.

Résumés get you the interview
Speaking of résumés, they get you the interview. If you are experiencing a lot of activity, chances are your résumé works. If you are not experiencing activity, get help. See "If you don't know how" above.

It's the interview that gets you the job
If résumés get you the interview, it's the interview that gets you the job. To get the job, they have to like you. They already know from your résumé that you have the knowledge, skills and abilities - although if they are diligent they will check this out. Now you need to prove to them that you are a fit. To fit, you need to solve their problems. If you don't appear engaged and knowledgeable as well as approachable, you won't win. Here is
how you prepare to succeed:

1. Answer all of the 64 Toughest Interview Questions. Every. Single. One. Write out your answers. Use the STAR format (situation - task - action - result). If you're a talker, get to the point immediately by using the RATS format (result - action, task, situation). Figure out which questions are easy for you. Spend extra time on the questions that scare you. (Google 64 tough "questions", download the PDF version.)
2. Once you have worked on the scary questions, phone yourself and leave the answer on your voice-mail. This serves several purposes: do you ramble on longer than 2 minutes? Do you enunciate and speak clearly? Do you use appropriate vocabulary? Do you sound confident and upbeat? If you identify problems with this, keep on practicing and refining and practicing until your responses sound fluent, not canned.
3. Some interviewers are not practiced. If you are fluent in the 64 Toughest Interview Questions, without robbing the interviewer of his role (he needs to remain in charge), you can provide your STAR responses in the course of the interview as great examples of how you contributed in the past to solving similar problems that face the interviewer. Use (or create) the opportunity interviewers offer at the end of the interview to showcase those really strong and pertinent STAR responses.

Most people don‚t bother with this tip. It is the single most important thing that you can do for yourself. It is what you can control so don't leave how you represent yourself to chance.

Eliminate negative speak
Eliminate negative speak. If you need to let off steam, do it with a trusted family member or friend. In public, DO NOT EVER speak of anyone in a disparaging manner.

Treat recruiters with respect
And as you eliminate negative speak, treat recruiters with respect. This applies to corporate recruiters as well as to recruiting firms. They may not call you back, and you'll never know if it's because they're overwhelmed with work or because they don't want to give you the bad news. Unless you call them. Keep it professional. No whining allowed. Of course, if you insist on shooting yourself in the foot...

Ask why
If you find out you didn't get the job or the interview, ask why. This is the best source of feedback you can ever get. The people you are asking have seen you in action and can provide valuable insight into the manner in which you represent yourself. If you don‚t ask, you will never know. If you ask, your recruiter or the hiring manager will feel obligated to give you a response. They may frame their response diplomatically, so examine that response carefully. Be brutally honest with yourself on what you can do better. The go back to practicing those 64 tough questions. See "It's the interview that gets you the job" above.

Follow up e-mails or phone calls
You can't guess if the recruiter or the hiring manager is going to appreciate your follow-up e-mail or phone call. They might find you very resourceful, or they might find you annoying. It's a risk either way. But hey, job-seeking is not for the faint of heart. Just do what feels right for you. If your approach is not working, examine the possible reasons for
it. Do you sound desperate or arrogant or tentative? Use the leaving-yourself-a-message to try to figure that out. In any case, if it's not working, back off.

Back off and move on
If it's not working, back off and move on. You need to focus on what's happening in your search. That means you have to be pushing several activities concurrently, otherwise your pipeline will be very empty. That might be why you find the time to dwell on your lack of success. Remember that success is defined by how you deal with failure. So get busy filling your pipeline.

Fill your pipeline
You can fill your pipeline by
- applying for jobs
- targeting specific recruiters
- targeting specific companies
- attending networking events
- catching up on your technical reading
- attending industry events (where you are likely to meet employed people in your field)
- updating your training
- having informational interviews
- finding new trends in your target industry

Every time I went to an interview and they asked me what I did while I was "off", I was able to tell them what an amazing time I was having, books I was reading, the groups I was chairing, the interesting people I was meeting, and the things I was learning about myself. My interviewers were invariably impressed with how up-beat I was; my sense of the possibilities was infectious.

The really, really obvious stuff
And then, there's the really, really obvious stuff: make your résumé public on Workopolis, Monster.com *and* monster.ca, and
Careerbuilder.ca as well as on those sites that cater to your area of expertise. For example, I had my résumé on all reputable HR recruiter sites. Join groups in your field on LinkedIn. Make sure you subscribe to job posting lists or are on distribution lists of all the groups that share job postings in your field. You should also have your résumé on the Company web-sites that you are targeting. Don't forget to subscribe to eluta.ca and indeed.ca. Did I really need to say this?

Go to the well, lean on the rock
Go to the well to fill yourself up. Your well can be your family, your friends, your favoured activities. It may also mean new friends and activities. And lean on your rock for support and understanding. Your rock may not be your spouse. In the beginning, mine wasn't for me. He was so nervous about our dwindling funds, it was hard to manage my own emotions, let alone his. I had to temporarily find myself another rock. And yes, I am still happily married to the same man I was married to before the job loss. He is still my main rock.

And then you get the job
And then you get the job. You are excited. You are happy to work hard. You are so relieved that it feels natural to put in extra time and effort. And... you wake in the middle of the night, swamped with a wave of certainty that you will lose this job, too.

Well, thank goodness it's impossible to sustain these kinds of feelings, because it sure would be hard to get back to work every morning! It's normal for self-esteem to be shaken periodically. Make sure you save time to go back to the well and lean on that rock. Firmly close any book of pain you might have lying around open. Put that book back on the shelf ˆ it does have its uses, but not now. And open the notebook you keep of all the compliments you have gathered from people you trust and respect. Read that.
Read it again. And enjoy your new job.

Lynn Marie Caissie
Human Resources Professional