Hedge Fund Jobs: 10 Personality Traits You Need to Succeed

Hedge Fund Jobs: 10 Personality Traits You Need to Succeed

If your goal is to make a top salary in the world of finance, a successful career in hedge funds might be in your sites. The pay-offs can be big, even for entry-level financial analyst jobs with a hedge fund. According to the 2014 Glocap Hedge Fund Compensation report released in late October, entry-level analysts at mid-performing hedge funds were looking at annual compensation somewhere in the neighborhood of $330,000 in 2013.1

Top hedge fund managers are “notorious” for taking home millions of dollars. According to Glocap, average salaries for portfolio managers were coming in at $2.2 million.1 Sign me up you say? Well, even getting entry-level finance jobs with a hedge fund isn’t easy, and becoming one of the top hedge fund managers is even more difficult.

You need to master the art of consistently managing hedge funds well, which means you know how to reduce risks (hedging) while gaining a sizeable return for your investors. No easy task.

Tenacity and Experience Are Required

If you want to get your foot in the door, you will need to immerse yourself in the hedge fund world by doing your research about the industry, the key players and the funds you are interested in pursuing (including the sectors they specialize in and strategies they use).

Two to three years of prior experience through internships, work at other types of finance firms or hedge fund service companies (experience with prime brokerage, risk management or hedge fund administration) can help you make contacts and get the experience hedge fund recruiters are looking for in an entry-level candidate.2

It also takes a special breed to succeed in the hedge fund game. Think you have what it takes to make it? The following personality traits are common among people who succeed at hedge fund careers (as well as many other finance careers).2,3

1. Competitive. Do you have an ongoing desire to outpace and outperform your competition?

2. Can handle high stress levels. Do you thrive under pressure instead of curling up in a ball.

3. Self-disciplined. Can you get the job done without someone looking over your shoulder?

4. Analytical, number cruncher. Can you review enormous volumes of data and make sense of it easily?

5. Quick on your feet. Are you able to make fast and accurate decisions without getting flustered?

6. People person. Can you hack the grind of networking so you can make connections and get ahead?

7. Focused and flexible. Does switching gears multiples times a minute, hour, day … not throw you for a loop?

8. Concise. Can you effectively make your point in a few short sentences?

9. Passionate about work. Do you go all-in when you get a job and seek to learn everything you possibly can about it?

10. Goal oriented. Do deadlines and the opportunity to earn a big paycheck keep you at the front of the pack?

As with most finance careers, getting ahead in the hedge fund industry takes time and a dedication to growing your professional network. Use top financial sites such as Doostang’s to search for hedge fund jobs in your city of choice, apply online then reach out to your contacts to see who has connections at the funds where you have applied. This can help improve your odds of getting an interview.

Resources:

1. Holliday, K. “Hedge Funds: This industry has an entry level salary of $335,000.” CNBC website; Nov. 1, 2013. Available at http://www.cnbc.com/id/101161993. Accessed Nov. 25, 2013.

2. Wilson, R. “10 Steps to a Career in Hedge Funds.” Investopedia website; July 8, 2013. Available at http://www.investopedia.com/articles/financialcareers/08/hedge-fund-career.asp. Accessed Nov. 25, 2013.

3. Adams, S. “How to Get a Job at a Hedge Fund.” Forbes website; July 23, 2013. Available at http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/07/23/how-to-get-a-job-at-a-hedge-fund-3/. Accessed Nov. 25, 2013.

Applying for Entry-Level Finance Jobs? Increase Your Odds with These 8 Tips

Applying for Entry-Level Finance Jobs? Increase Your Odds with These 8 Tips

If you will be graduating soon or are a recent finance grad, finding an entry-level finance position might be difficult, especially if you don’t have work experience. Earlier this year, Georgetown University released a study that compared the unemployment rates of different majors.

While the study didn’t discuss finance majors specifically, the researchers found that recent business major graduates with no work experience had an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent. On the upside, this is a bit lower than the overall rate for all majors, which was 7.9 percent. Just be glad you didn’t graduate with a degree in architecture – those recent grads with no job experience are looking at a 12.8 percent unemployment rate. Which leads us to our first tip.

1. Get work experience or an internship while you’re still in college. While it’s too late for recent grads, if you’re still in school, do your best to get some finance work experience under your belt. Business majors with work experience increased their odds of finding a job after graduation – the unemployment rate fell from 7.5 percent to 5.2 percent.

2. Go for an advanced degree or MBA. According to the Georgetown survey, business majors with graduate degrees improved their odds even further than those with an undergrad degree and work experience. The unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent for advanced-degree holders. So for college grads seeking finance careers, that MBA will be worth the effort. It’s also going to help you earn a higher salary as we’ve discussed in previous posts.

3. Search for unconventional job titles. We also mentioned in previous posts that including keywords that you derive from job descriptions and building them into each resume and cover letter can help you get through applicant tracking systems. Think of the different words used in job descriptions, then think of the different options for job titles that employees might use, which might be out of the ordinary. You might find a hidden gem.

4. Tell everyone you know you’re looking for work. Employers like to hire people who have been referred to them. If your friends, family, former schoolmates or coworkers don’t know you’re looking, you could miss out on a great opportunity. Just make sure you sound excited not desperate when you spread the word. And don’t be afraid to ask people you know that you would appreciate introductions to their friends who work in finance.

5. Attend finance industry events. Again, you’re looking to make connections and there’s no better place than an industry conference (multiple events = multiple opportunities to meet people) or a networking event for finance-minded professionals.

6. Take finance pros out to lunch or meet them for an informational interview. Make a list of the firms or corporations where you would like to work, and try to connect with someone there who is either a hiring manager or on that same level. Pick up the phone, send a professional introductory email or connect with them LinkedIn. You need to be patient and persistent without being a stalker. Make it your goal to build some small relationship or connection so you can get a lunch date or meeting face-to-face. Even if your new contact isn’t hiring anyone today, he or she might be in the future, or they could know someone who is hiring now.

7. Leverage your LinkedIn profile for all it’s worth. If you haven’t signed up for LinkedIn yet, do it today. This top professional social site is a great tool for making connections in the finance industry and marketing yourself online. You can learn how to optimize your LinkedIn profile in this earlier post.

8. Take advantage of finance industry-specialized recruiters and websites. Finance career job websites such as Doostang’s and recruiters who have connections in the finance industry can give you the edge and save you time. You can search top finance jobs by location on our site – and you won’t have to weed through other non-finance jobs. Plus we offer an assortment of helpful job search tools, designed especially for finance grads and MBAs. And if you make friends with recruiters who focus specifically on finance positions, they will let you know when the new openings occur in your field.

Want to learn more about the Georgetown unemployment study? View the Slideshare overview here:

Photo Source: Shutterstock

Resources:

Carnevale, A.P.; Cheah, B. “Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings.” Georgetown University, Center on Education and the Workforce; May 29, 2013. Available at http://cew.georgetown.edu/unemployment2013/. Accessed Nov. 22, 2013.

Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 2 of 3

Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 2 of 3

Question Categories: Goals and Company Knowledge

This is the second in a series of posts about how to best answer interview questions for financial analyst jobs, based on question categories: Education and Work Experience; Goals and Company Knowledge; and Technical Competence.

In the first post of this series we discussed how to answer financial analyst interview questions based on the categories Education and Work Experience. As with the first post, we’ll share some of the questions you might expect in the categories of Goals and Company Knowledge, along some tips on how to approach the answers so you make a great impression.

As we mentioned last time, if you want to make it past the first interview, you must take time in preparing for an interview and practice answering frequently asked interview questions. The more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you will feel. So do the prep work and practice hard if you want to stand out.

Interview Questions to Expect by Category

Here are some of the questions you will likely be asked during your interview, along with some tips on how to approach questions about your goals and your company knowledge.

Goal Questions

The interviewer will ask questions about your finance career goals as they pertain to the financial analyst position you are trying to secure, as well as your goals for the future. Some potential questions may include:

– What are your short- and long-term goals in this financial analyst position?

– Where do you hope your finance career takes you in the next five years?

– How much money do you expect to earn in the next five years and 10 years?

– How can your personal career goals help our company achieve its goals?

The interviewer is trying to determine if you are a good fit for their organization based on where you are today and where you intend to be five and 10 years from now. The type of work you hope to do as well as the amount of money you hope to earn should align with what the position in question allows. He or she is also trying to learn how much you know about the company’s goals (more about this in the next section) and if your experience and desire will benefit the company.

Prepare yourself for this series of questions by researching the roles of the financial analysts who currently work at the company. Try to speak with someone who works at the organization and has an understanding of the financial analyst roles, goals and responsibilities to gain some insight. Otherwise review the job description closely, and tailor your answers to align with the duties outlined there.

You can also review the profiles of financial analysts who work at the firm (now or in the past) on LinkedIn to see if there are any consistencies across backgrounds and experience, and highlight any of those qualities that you also offer. Earnings information is pretty easily found online or through word of mouth.

Company Knowledge Questions

The interviewer will ask you questions that are specific to the company to which you are applying. Topics can range from specific stats and history to how your background aligns with the organization’s goals. Some potential questions may include:

– Why did you apply for a position with this organization?

– Why would you like to work for us?

– Can you tell me what you know about our company?

– What qualities do you have that make you a better hire for our company than your competition?

– What experience or knowledge do you bring to the table that will help our company improve or grow?

– What challenges do you expect to experience in this company’s financial analyst role?

The interviewer is trying to find out if you did your homework and took the time to research their organization. They are looking for people who will be passionate not only about the finance industry but the firm in particular. If you don’t show any specific knowledge about the company, its history, goals and challenges, the interviewer will likely write you off. And if you can’t show how you can contribute to the organization’s bottom line, consider that another strike against you.

Prepare for this series of questions by doing some good, solid research about the company and try to answer each of the aforementioned questions specifically. Read the company website from top to bottom, and look for the latest news about the organization and its key players online. Again, arranging to talk with people who work with the firm can really give you an edge. Do your homework.

You can read part one of the series here. Next up? We will address questions about your Technical Competence.

Photo Source: Shutterstock

How To Land the Highest Paying Finance Jobs on Wall Street

How to Land the HIghest Paying Jobs on Wall Street

If you plan to climb your way up the corporate ladder and secure one of the top paying finance jobs on Wall Street, be prepared to pay your dues. The most coveted Wall Street jobs typically require an MBA and several years of toiling away in the trenches.

There is no question that finance jobs can pay well, which is one of the main reasons people choose to pursue careers in finance. Even entry-level financial analysts can expect to start out well. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the 2010 median annual income for a financial analyst was close to $75,000.

For finance pros who hope to earn the big bucks – millions of dollars in salary and bonuses – the opportunities are better in finance than in many other fields. It still isn’t a piece of cake to land the highest paying finance jobs on Wall Street or elsewhere. If you do want to aim high, here are a few jobs you might consider along with some insight on what it takes to get hired.

Stockbroker

If you have a 4-year degree, competitive spirit, thick skin and excel at networking, a career as a stockbroker might be a good option for you. Your degree might get you in the door, but you’ll have to work hard and compete with hundreds of other brokers to get the most desirable, high-net-worth clients to utilize your services. Long-term success in the brokerage world relies on referrals, so you need to deliver great results for your clients in order for them to recommend people from their circle to you.

Head of Investment Banking Firm

Have you set your sights on the investment banking world and the big paychecks that come with it? Getting to the top of an I-bank isn’t a walk in the park. While entry-level investment banking jobs pay a decent wage to start – you can expect to make about $75,000 per year – you will need to have a top-tier MBA, do your time as a financial analyst (80 to 100 hours a week) and be a great networker to become a head of an I-bank. You will also need to be a stand out contributor in big-money deals, have strong accounting skills and be able to deal with egos and office politics to get the top investment banking jobs.

Chief Risk Officer

If you have a passion for risk management, actuarial work and your MBA in hand, the role of Chief Risk Officer could be your ticket to a big payday. The demand for experts in risk management has grown in recent years due to the economic collapse. Expect to spend your early finance career years doing actuary work (the median income level for actuaries was close to $90,000 in 2010 according to the BLS) and accumulate a decade or so of managerial experience before qualifying for this position. Excellent communication skills – verbal and written – are a must for Chief Risk Officers.

Mutual Fund Manager

Are you a team player who is willing to spend time in the trenches researching companies and fetching coffee? A career in mutual funds might be a good fit for you. Entry-level mutual fund analysts can expect to make a decent starting wage similar to other entry-level finance positions. Once you make your way on to a mutual fund management team, salaries in the low to mid six figures are common. Managing multi-billion dollar funds comes with a great deal of pressure, because a lot of people are relying on your decisions, so you’ll need to handle stress well. Mutual fund companies also prefer to promote from within, so you’ll want to avoid job-hopping to land the top-paying mutual fund jobs.

Finance Media Superstar

If you’re looking to see your name in lights – or on the TV screen – you could expect to make a good chunk of change in the finance world. According to Forbes, big names like Suze Orman and Jim Kramer can pull in $10 million to $20 million or more annually. In order to work your way up the media ranks, you’ll need to start with a journalism degree, and an MBA will help get you in the door at the top media networks – Bloomberg, ABC, NBC, CBS or Fox. Expect to spend several years working behind the scenes doing research and supporting other players before you get your chance in front of the camera and a book on the New York Times bestseller list.

Head of Mergers and Acquisitions

Like other finance careers, you’ll need to do your time as a financial analyst and have an MBA to be a top M&A earner. Expect to do the legwork, research and number-punching for a managing director then set your sites on an associate position at one of the top banks. You’ll need to advance your career from associate to VP to managing teams and hone your relationship building skills along the way if you hope to land a top job in mergers and acquisitions.

Big Money Means Hard Work and Time Invested

All of these finance jobs have several things in common, aside from the multi-million dollar paydays. If you want to secure a top job on Wall Street, you will need a great education, an MBA, years of experience working through the ranks and a strong network. If you hope to make your way to the top, expect to invest many years getting that top degree and working hard.

Photo Source: Shutterstock

Resources:

“Occupational Outlook Handbook; Financial Occupations.” U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor and Statistics. 2012. Available at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/home.htm. Accessed Nov. 11, 2013.

“Making It Big on Wall Street.” Forbes website; May 18, 2013. Available at http://www.forbes.com/sites/investopedia/2013/05/18/making-it-big-on-wall-street/. Accessed Nov. 11, 2013.

LaRoche, J. “Can’t be a CEO? Here are 9 Other Super High Paying Wall Street Jobs and What You Need to Do to Get Them.” Business Insider website; July 20, 2012. Available at  http://www.businessinsider.com/9-high-paying-wall-street-jobs-2012-7?op=1. Accessed Nov. 11, 2013.

How Your Career Can Benefit from a Professional Portfolio

professional portfolio

When you think of a portfolio, you usually think about career fields such as modeling, art and writing. However, it doesn’t stop there. Every professional, no matter if they work in the consulting field or the engineering field, can reap the benefits of the portfolio.

Creating a professional portfolio does not mean that you have to have the perfect looking template with visual images of your past work, but rather that you have taken the effort to show how you have been successful throughout your career. Whether you create a professional portfolio website and submit it with each job application, or you put together a sophisticated binder to present at certain times throughout your career, having a professional presentation of your work will help get you to where you want to be.

Your portfolio can also help you market yourself. While jobs can come and go, your portfolio remains constant. Your experience is what gets an employer to hire you, and a portfolio can back up the claims you make about your skills, accolades, certifications and experience. You are highlighting what you’re great at and offering it up for current and future employers to take advantage of.

It is inevitable that you will end up in the following scenarios throughout your career, and the time you put into making a portfolio will get you positive results:

Job interview

Career professionals stress that there’s no better place to provide proof of your experience, skills and knowledge then a job interview. Employers can look at your resume as a quick summary of who you are as a professional, but they look at your career portfolio for a depiction of each accomplishment you have had. While discussing your experience for each of your past positions, refer to your portfolio and show them exactly you contributed to the success. Everyone can say that they turned around a client’s sales numbers, but not everyone can show it, and you can prove that you can through your portfolio.

A great portfolio also gives off the impression that you are a candidate who is passionate about your career and motivated to succeed.

Reviews at current positions

A career portfolio is not only beneficial during your job search; it can also be useful during performance reviews at your current position. They provide you with a source to look back on to highlight how you have made a positive impact while at your position. You’ll be able to go beyond just saying that you’re a great asset to the team by being able to show and remind your employer that you’ve done certain things that have added to their success as a business.

Salaries and promotions

Often, one of the most uncomfortable parts of your career is when it comes time to negotiate a salary or asking for a promotion. In order to even be considered, many employers ask that you explain why you feel you deserve it, and that can be difficult when your heart is beating a thousand miles a minute and your mind is racing. Many people leave the meeting wishing they remembered to say certain things, but career portfolios prevent this from happening. By using your portfolio as a reference, you’ll be able to provide your employer with an endless amount of reasons as to why you should receive a certain salary, raise or promotion.

 

Making a career portfolio is one piece of advice that you shouldn’t ignore, and not having one may cause you to miss out on numerous opportunities throughout your entire career. Therefore, make your job search noticeably easier by backing up your claims with proof and showing that you are determined and motivated to excel at what you do.

 

How to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile to Improve your Job Search

linkedin optimizationLinkedIn has been a source, not only for job seekers, but also for an endless amount of recruiters using it to connect with potential candidates that they wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise. This social media platform for career development has helped numerous users land the job of their dreams that they may have always thought was unattainable.

You may already have a LinkedIn profile, but chances are you aren’t making those connections that you desire, and your profile isn’t getting the views you’d like. You may even find that you’re not ending up in recruiters’ search results.

LinkedIn has over 225 million users, meaning that there are likely hundreds of thousands of candidates who would be interested in the same position as you. Your chances of landing at the top of the list of candidates depends on how optimized your LinkedIn profile is. Everything from how often you put up a status to the content within your previous job descriptions factor into how well you show up in results.

Follow these LinkedIn profile tips to help you optimize your page and surpass your competition!

Simplicity is key

When it comes to your profile headline, keep it straight to the point. Adjectives that are used often, such as energetic, determined, motivated, etc., should be avoided because of the amount that people that use them within their own profile. It would be difficult to rank high in results when everyone else has the same descriptive words as you.

LinkedIn profiles can also easily be consumed with too much content; don’t let the work that you put into developing it goes to waste. The top optimized profiles don’t limit their possibilities. While you are happy with your VP title, consider leaving it out to help you broaden your range of options.

Don’t make the summary an essay

When recruiters or companies are looking at LinkedIn profiles, their goal is to be able to quickly read over the summary and immediately understand the basis of your knowledge and experience. They do not have the time to read a summary that is more like an essay about every single aspect of your career.

They are more interested in the skills section of your page. Be sure to highlight them in the summary, but you shouldn’t delve into them in great detail because you don’t want to lose their interest.

Don’t overload the content with keywords

If you are familiar with search engine optimization, you’re aware of the fact that keywords that are mentioned throughout a page help it gain a high ranking within search engines. However, in order to optimize LinkedIn profiles, you have to be careful not to overdo it. Use free keyword search tools such as the Google Keyword Tool to help you determine which terms you should use throughout your content. Spread them out and include them in the summary and bullet points regarding your skills. Using two or three different keywords, mention them about two times each throughout your profile in over to avoid repetition and overwhelming the search engine.

Get your name out there

The best LinkedIn profiles are constantly updated by their owner with fresh and original content to help build awareness of their name and work in the industry. For example, if you are passionate about your industry, then take the time to write blogs or articles about industry news and post them on LinkedIn. Include them in your status, as well as in groups that focus on the topic.

Also, remember to put a link that goes to your profile within the articles. This will help optimize your page further and increase your reach among professionals in your industry.

Accept connections and join groups

Whether you know the professional or not, it is important to accept the invitation to connect, unless you feel uncomfortable doing so. LinkedIn profiles are meant to help exhibit your skills so that you can build more connections and help you get to where you want to be within your career. Another great LinkedIn profile tip is to utilize opportunities to connect with everyone you can in your industry, as you never know who can help you land your dream job. Also, connections help you show up among recruiters’ searches if you end up being connected to someone within the company looking to fill a position.

The plethora of groups that you can join within your industry gives you an extra leg up on your competition. The LinkedIn profiles that are viewed the most are the ones that make their presence known throughout many platforms. Therefore, join discussion boards, be the source of information for the other users and always talk about recent news and events within your industry.

 

Optimizing LinkedIn profiles goes beyond including keywords in the content―you have to do the work outside of that. Remember to consistently update your page and avoid narrowing your page down too much to the point where you don’t show up on results. Recruiters appreciate when LinkedIn profiles are filled with useful information that displays skills and knowledge, while not being too overwhelming.

 

How to Network Online

socialmedia

Do spend every day wondering how you can network with dream employers?

Social recruiting has become a very popular way for employers to connect with talented candidates like you! Many employers are using social media to advertise their company culture and open positions to attract Millennial job seekers. Because of social recruiting, this has become the perfect opportunity for you to network with recruiters from your dream employer before you even apply for the job.

Recruiters aren’t just using social media to dig up reasons why they shouldn’t hire you, but they’re searching for reasons why you are the best candidate for their company. Did you know 29 percent of hiring managers found something on a candidate’s profile that drove them to offer them a job? This goes to show how important social media is to your success in landing a job.

By networking with recruiters, you will be able to build a personal connection with the company you have always dreamed of working for. If you’re wondering how you can start building these relationships, check out these ideas to help you get your name heard by recruiters:

Start following companies you want to work for.

If you want to get your foot in the door at your dream company, start following the companies you want to work for. Not only will this help you stay up-to-date on their latest news, but also you will have the opportunity to discover who their recruiters, employees, and management are. Once you start following a company you want to work for, search their followers for similar connections you may have. You should also start following the company’s recruiters and hiring managers.  This will help you make connections fast and start getting your name out their to the company.

Interact with the company’s social media profiles.

Once you start following companies you want to work for, begin interacting with their different social media accounts. Follow the company’s Facebook page, Twitter profile, and LinkedIn company page and join their LinkedIn groups. After you follow their accounts, it’s time to begin engaging with the company. Like and comment on their Facebook posts and share their content with your networks.

Start conversations online and take them offline. 

Now that you’ve made connections with recruiters on LinkedIn and Twitter, it’s time to start building that relationship offline. Ask the recruiter to exchange emails so you can ask questions about what it’s like to work for their company and employment opportunities they have available. The goal of exchanging conversation through emails should be to set up an informational interview over the phone or in-person. You want to build a relationship with recruiters and employers, so be personable and make the effort to take the relationship offline.

Once you make a connection, follow up periodically.

After connecting with a recruiter and establishing a relationship, make sure you maintain the relationship. This can consist of emailing the recruiter periodically just to check in or share what you’re currently doing with your career search. If you have already provided your resume to the recruiter, be sure to send updated versions of your resume as you gain more experience and skills. You can also follow up with the recruiter on Twitter or LinkedIn. But remember, always be professional and have a purpose when contacting the recruiter.

Networking with recruiters is a powerful strategy for your career search, especially for landing your dream job. Now that you know how to network with recruiters, connecting with your dream employer won’t feel as intimidating. Networking with recruiters is one of the most proactive things you can do for your job search. By creating these connections, you will be one step closer to landing the job you’ve always wanted.

Do you network with recruiters? How has your job search benifitted from having these connections?

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at Come Recommended.

Who Should I Put for My Job References?

jobreferences

You will probably be asked for references before you receive a job offer—sometimes as early as at the screening interview, sometimes when you interview with the hiring manager, and sometimes only when an offer is extended “subject to a satisfactory check of references.”

It isn’t unusual, however, for people to be hired without a reference check, particularly if they come to the organization through a referral, if they’ve previously held a part-time job at the company, or if the hiring manager is in a hurry.

GET PERMISSION
In any case, your references are valuable to you, and you need to treat them with respect. Obviously, it’s a good idea to begin, early in your campaign, by asking potential references for permission to give their names. If they grant it, express your appreciation, offer to send them your résumé, and, if possible, meet with them or discuss your campaign strategy with them by phone.

You should try to develop a list of five or six references, although you may use only two or three of them in any one situation. These might be former managers, professors, friends of your family who know you well (but not family members), or people who know you through community service. Ministers, rabbis, and the like qualify if they can attest to your service to the community or the congregation or otherwise provide insight into your manner of overcoming obstacles.

Try to develop a list that can provide various perspectives on your accomplishments, and remember that what hiring managers are trying to assess is how you will perform and behave on the job.

MAINTAINING GOODWILL
Because your references are doing you a favor, you don’t want to abuse their goodwill. This means making sure they’re not called too frequently. If they have been called three times already, and you need to use them again, you should call them, thank them for their efforts on your behalf, apologize for any inconvenience, explain the circumstances, and ask whether they are still willing to help. This will help you avoid having your references go flat.

You should also take steps you can to prevent their overuse in the first place. If you’re asked for references early in the interviewing cycle, you can mention who you would use and what they can confirm about you, but say you would prefer that they not be contacted until a later stage in your discussions. Explain that you want to be fair to your references by not having them called too often and that you are having discussions with several organizations.

When the time does come to provide contact information, say that you wish to call the references first to provide them some understanding of the position you are discussing and to introduce the person who is calling.

This approach has multiple advantages. It gives you a chance to prime your references. It shows the hiring manager that you treat people with respect. It delays the reference checking until late in the process when the company already has decided you are the right choice. And it indicates that you are giving consideration to several companies and positions—raising your worth as a candidate.

MAKING THE FIRST CALL
When you do reach the stage of providing contact information, be sure to call each of the references you will give. Explain to them who might be calling, what the position is, why it relates to your goals, and what you think the person calling might be interested in knowing. You can also request that the reference confirm or emphasize certain characteristics.

A week later, ask your references if they received a call. If so, find out what the caller seemed to be interested in, and seek recommendations from your reference on what clarifications you should make with the employer.

For example, your reference might indicate that the caller said, “He seems likable, but I’m not sure he’s persistent enough to follow through when the going gets tough.” The reference might not have been able to address the caller’s concern based on what he knew about you, but you—now knowing the concern—could find a way to introduce more evidence regarding your persistence when the going gets tough.

If your references have not received a call after a week, check in with the hiring manager to see if there is anything you can do to make it easier to get through to your references—find out when they will be available or ask them to call the hiring manager on your behalf.

Bear in mind, though, that the hiring manager may already be satisfied that you’re the right person. Or on the other hand, the manager may be having discussions with another candidate and holding you in reserve. Either way, your thoughtful persistence will leave a positive impression.

DEALING WITH UNFAVORABLE REFERENCES
If you must provide a particular reference—your most recent manager, for example—but feel that the person may give you a mixed review, have a discussion with that person.

Find out what he or she sees as your strengths and weaknesses. Try to show them how you are making the most use of your strengths and that you are either working on your weaknesses or choosing a path that doesn’t emphasize them.

Ask for the person’s own suggestions. It’s pretty unusual for a person to give a weak endorsement of someone who is listening to his or her constructive suggestions.
At the same time, it’s important for you to prepare a hiring manager to hear an unfavorable reference if you think this may be a problem. By doing so, you get to tell your side of the story, and the manager won’t be hearing for the first time that someone thinks you made a mistake or didn’t handle your job or a particular situation well. Here’s an example:

“There is one reference I’m giving you that may not be as favorable as the others. Let me explain why. When I was hired by Security Services, I was told to notify my supervisor immediately if a dangerous situation seemed to be developing in the mall. I did so when after the July Fourth event, the crowds seemed to be getting thick, and a few troublemakers were starting to stir things up. I immediately told my supervisor of my concerns about the developing situation, but he took a wait-and-see attitude. Later, when trouble broke out, he seemed to want to pin the blame on me for not telling him soon enough. I don’t wish to make an issue of it, but I thought you should understand some of the background.”

Your ability to follow through and address outstanding issues will impress not only the recruiting manager, but also your references—smoothing the way for your next job search.

How Should I Prepare for an Informational Interview?

informationalinterview

On the surface, an informational interview is exactly what it sounds like: a personal exchange geared toward learning about a specific career, industry, or position. But the beauty of the informational interview is that it goes beyond information gathering, which nowadays can mostly be done online.

“It’s about building a relationship with a professional in your desired field,” says Julie Cohen, career coach and owner of Julie Cohen Coaching LLC. “It will build your network, and give you an insider’s view of a career.” It’s also less stressful than a real interview because there’s no job hanging in the balance.

No matter where you are in your job search, you won’t regret adding the informational interview to your bag of tricks. Just make sure you take the right approach, and ask the right questions to make the most of your conversation.

PLAN YOUR OBJECTIVE
Think seriously about your goals before setting up an interview. “Even though you might want a job, don’t let that be your primary intention,” says Cohen. Contacts won’t be as willing to give up their time if that’s your stated agenda. Instead, focus on your desire to develop your career path and plan your strategy according to the job titles, companies, and industries that you’d like to explore.

SCOUT FOR TARGETS
There are several resources you can use, starting with professional acquaintances, family, and friends. You can also check in with your alumni association or college career center; they usually have a database of former students who are willing to lend an ear. Professional associations are a good starting point, too, as is a job or company search on LinkedIn.

It’s convenient to have some sort of a connection to your interviewee, but don’t be afraid to find new contacts in creative ways. Cohen suggests browsing recent news articles related to your career interests, and tracking down the person who was quoted or profiled. Plus, the article should give you ammunition to initiate a dialogue-and eventually ask for that interview.

POP THE QUESTION
“Many people are uncomfortable asking for informational interviews because they think it’s a one-way street,” says Cohen. But don’t worry that you’re asking for something without offering anything in return. People love to talk about what they do, and as long as you show that you’re genuinely interested in how they got where they are, you should be successful.

Email is the least intrusive way to pose your question. Start by simply letting the person know why you’ve contacted them, whether it’s “Jon recommended I speak with you,” or “I read your article in the Post and want to hear more about your work.” Then give a little background and say why you would value a meeting-but don’t make it as formal or as long as a cover letter, and DON’T include your resume. End by giving a few dates and times you’re available. A standard request is a 15-minute phone interview, but if you feel comfortable, ask for lunch or a coffee.

PREPARE
Research the same way you would for a job interview. Google your interviewee to see if anything pops up that you can talk about. Make sure to prepare enough questions to pass the time, because you’re the one leading the conversation. If you’re meeting face to face, dress appropriately for the location and for a potential employer. It’s okay to bring your resume, but keep it hidden unless you’re asked to share it.

LEAD THE INTERVIEW
The most important part of the interview is asking the right questions. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • What lured you to this industry?
  • What training did you need?
  • What is your typical workday like?
  • What do you like most about your work, and what do you like least?
  • Do you have any recommendations for someone just starting out?
  • Are there other people you’d recommend speaking with? (This is particularly important because it will build your professional network.)

Everything you ask should be something that can’t be found elsewhere, so don’t ask the contact to repeat his bio. If the interview runs long, point out the time and leave it up to the contact to wrap things up. When your conversation ends, be gracious and appreciative. If it was a face to face and drinks or food were ordered, always attempt to cover the tab.

FOLLOW UP

Your final move should be an email to thank the person for providing her time. Tie up any loose ends from the conversation, including names or documents they promised you. Keep the door open for future correspondence by asking if it’s okay to keep in touch. It may just happen that three months later, your quick email to check in will illicit an invitation for a real interview.

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at WetFeet.

Is Your LinkedIn Profile a Disaster?

ID-10019659

Interested in having your LinkedIn profile professionally written by Doostang? E-mail sebastian.king@doostang.com for more information.

Most job seekers know to update their resume when it’s time to look for a new job. But what about your social media footprint? One of the first places recruiters look for talent in the social sphere is the professional networking site LinkedIn.

You might have a LinkedIn profile, but are you making the most of this social network when it comes to the job search? Job seekers are often willing to turn to writing professionals to revamp their resumes, but not when it comes to a LinkedIn profile. Yet most recruiters are looking you up on LinkedIn to gain additional information, or even evaluating you entirely on what you chose to share on this social channel.

Turning your nose up at professional help when it comes to your LinkedIn profile isn’t exactly a smart move. Professionals reviewing your LinkedIn profile will often catch some big blunders you’re not even aware you’ve made. Simply searching “LinkedIn profile writer” on Google or LinkedIn itself can get you in touch with a professional. But if you don’t have extra cash to enlist their help, here are some of the biggest mistakes job seekers make that can turn a great candidate into a LinkedIn profile disaster:

You Skipped The Picture

Who needs a picture, right? After all, your qualifications should speak for themselves. But before you put your camera away, know that it’s never advisable to skip adding a profile picture. Putting your smiling face beside your professional experience is actually an essential part of LinkedIn, something too many job seekers fail to realize.

A professional looking over your profile would know what TheLadders study recently confirmed: recruiters actually spend more time looking at your profile picture than your qualifications. Don’t worry, finding a job isn’t a beauty contest. There are plenty of reasons recruiters look at your profile photo first and qualifications later.

For instance, if you’ve recently attended a networking event and add some of the great contacts you met, it’ll be hard for others to recall who you are without seeing your smiling face. Plus, humans in general are visual creatures, which explains the rise of visual-based social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest for socializing, job searching, and personal branding.

However, you want to be careful what you’re saying with your images. Make sure the profile picture you choose is professional. Don’t put up a picture of your dog, your baby, or that photo you snapped at the bar during half-priced margarita night. Don’t choose a photo with another person in it, and make sure the image is brightly lit with high resolution. A professional reviewing your LinkedIn profile could help ensure you chose a photo that puts you in the best light.

You Ignored Keywords

You might know about recruiters using applicant tracking systems (ATS) to sort through resumes based on keywords, but are you ignoring keywords in your LinkedIn profile?

Too many job seekers don’t think to make their LinkedIn profiles as keyword-rich as their traditional resume, but skipping keywords could mean a recruiter misses your profile altogether when conducting a search. Professionals looking over your LinkedIn profile will advise you to make sure you pack your profile with keywords relevant to your experience.

This is especially true when it comes to your headline. Many LinkedIn users ignore the headline altogether, but it can work as a smart elevator pitch for your candidacy. Make headlines short but descriptive, giving recruiters a feel for your professional experience in less than a sentence. Another keyword feature to take advantage of is LinkedIn’s “Skills & Expertise” section, which allows you to endorse others for their specific skills and receive endorsements in return.

You’re Not A Joiner

Perhaps you’ve always been a lone wolf, but when it comes to LinkedIn it’s time to start mingling. According to statistics, 81 percent of LinkedIn users belong to at least one group. More than half participate in group discussions, while 42 percent update their information regularly. Unfortunately, too many job seekers throw together a LinkedIn profile, slap on a profile picture, and then call it a day.

This isn’t a smart plan, and any professional advisor would recommend you put a little time and energy into populating your LinkedIn profile over time. You might feel bad bragging about your work achievements or linking your industry-related writing on your Facebook, but LinkedIn was created to show off what you can do. Brag away! Update your status and keep your professional network informed about your professional achievements.

Don’t be afraid to rub virtual elbows with people in your industry or who share your interests. Joining groups and taking part in discussions offers a great way to expand your network, adding to the list of people who will remember you when a position opens up at a great company.

If you add substance and value to a group as opposed to just spamming, you’ll be thought of in high regard. A professional advisor might be able to help you isolate the groups and organizations you should target in order to grow your network and get in front of industry movers and shakers.

Maybe your LinkedIn profile isn’t a total disaster, but it could probably benefit from a professional tune-up. Finding someone who understands how recruiters think and what they look for on this unique social media platform is a good way to go from job seeker to star employee.

What do you think? What are some common mistakes you see on LinkedIn? Share in the comments!

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.