Category Archives: Career Development

Exploring New Careers

Susie Buysse, Associate Director

TMMBA Career Management Consulting hosted a summer event where three talented alumni shared insights on the fields of business development, consulting and product management.  Information spanned the elements of each discipline, required skills/traits, compensation, typical day, career path, and risks/rewards.  The evening was a compelling and valuable 2.5 hour informational interview!    

I liked this description of product management (and resources):

Product management is the process of researching, designing, building, marketing and maintaining a good or service. Technology companies use a product management process to ensure that they are not just manufacturing a technology, but creating a product that people will want to buy and continue to use. To be sure, a “cool” technology may be at the heart of the product, but product management ensures that the customer’s voice is not lost in the rush to bring an exciting technology to market. Product management adds things like market intelligence, market and product requirements use cases, roadmaps, pricing, financial analysis, competitive differentiation, market launch, and sales support to the technology to create a complete product offer. 

~Philip Windley, Ph.D. – CIO, State of Utah

Pragmatic Marketing: http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/

280 Group: http://www.280group.com/

Product Management Consortium (local): http://www.pmcnw.org/index.php

AIPPM: http://www.aipmm.com/

PDMA: http://www.pdma.org/

For more information on how the program assists with career discovery, please contact Susie Buysse at sbuysse@uw.edu.  Enjoy the final days of summer!

Is it a play on words?

Susie Buysse, Associate Director

In my work with TMMBA students, we sometimes talk about the difference between the classic informational interview versus an effective informational meeting in job search.

An informational interview is a meeting that you schedule with practicing professionals for the purpose of learning more about their jobs. This type of interview provides a rare opportunity to gain invaluable, up-to-date knowledge about a specific business or industry from an “insider.”[i]

Informational interviewing can be really hard work!  You need to leave the interview and be satisfied to have made a new contact in person and received a wealth of new information, not knowing if anything else meaningful will come from the effort. 

When conducting a job search, your ultimate goal is to connect with the decision-makers at your target companies. Your approach should be different.  The goal is to build trust in order to determine if this company is a good fit or (if already determined) navigate to others who can assist in search.  Remember this person has the power to refer based on a positive first impression.

Tips:

  • You will be judged on the quality of questions asked so the homework is essential.  It definitely will show and speaks to credibility.  For example, the interviewer asks “What do you know about the mission of this organization?” (What if you can’t immediately articulate?  It’s also probably on the company website.)
  • It is important to put the interviewee at ease; it’s critical in making a good impression (relates to trust).  Never risking putting them on the spot!  Some questions could tend to do this, including questions on compensation and hiring plans.  It puts the interviewer (job-seeker) back in the credibility swamp….Is this individual quickly looking for a job or foot in the door?
  • Bring a resume and share if asked.  Do not ask for a job.  Bring and share your professional summary instead.
  • Remember these are informational meetings.  When talking to someone, make it clear that you are not asking for a job. (If one of your leads knows of a position and is interested in hiring you, he or she will certainly mention it.) 
  • Also, if you’re lucky enough to uncover a “star” contact in the right department of a company you’d most love to work for; don’t call him or her first!  Instead, talk to people farther out from your “career bull’s eye.”  That way, you’ll gain practice with your lower-risk contacts.  And by the time you call your star, you’ll be that much more confident and knowledgeable. [ii]

[i]Lorenz, K.  How Does an Informational Interview Work.  CareerBuilder.com.  Retrieved from  http://www.careerbuilder.com/Article/CB-481-Getting-Ahead-How-Does-an-Informational-Interview-Work/

[ii]From CareerLeader.com.

Content developed by S. Buysse and A. Girarde.

Your Resume

Susan Buysse, Associate Director

TMMBA students often inquire about a resume tune-up.  The outcomes of a well-crafted resume are:

  • Functions as a carefully tailored personal sales & marketing tool (can shorten job search significantly).
  • Enables you to meet (or speak) with hiring manager or person who can move you to next step in hiring process.
  • Guides an interview.
  • Serves as a reminder.

Typically, the first third or half of a resume is read at first glance.  You have just a few short seconds to make a strong first impression of your professional standards.  So, how can you write a resume that stands out in the crowd and gets noticed?  This article on Career Journal (one of my favorite sites) outlines key tips: 

Improve Your Resume in Twelve Simple Steps

LinkedIn continued

Susie Buysse, Associate Director

An April blog shared information on LinkedIn, one of the biggest and most successful networking sites.

Here are a few additional tips and resources on your brand and LinkedIn:

  • Recommend contacts who you can professionally endorse and receive recommendations.  (The best ones are specific.)
  • Create your own LinkedIn URL.  Add to your e-mail signature.

              Example:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/dansmith

  • Identical to resume writing, incorporate keywords into your Profile.  These are specific industry or position words or phrases that originate from experience, education, and skills, i.e. MBA, strategic planning, change management, ISO 9001, etc.
  • When making several changes to your Profile, click Settings, Profile & Status Updates.  

Click “No” under Publish profile updates, recommendations and companies you follow?  Convert to “Yes” when you are happy with the changes.

Resources: 

Two articles located at the top of the home page under category “Help”: Ten Tips on Building a Strong Profile &  10 Ways to Use LinkeIn, by Guy Kawasaki.

Learning Center and Blog located at the top of home page under the category “More.”

New feature — “Follow Company” that provides key developments (including job openings) for over one million companies.  This feature can be part of a tracking your target companies if conducting a job search.

Your Career & LinkedIn

Susie Buysse, Associate Director

Did you know that 87% of recruiters begin their process of identifying potential candidates through LinkedIn?  Yet, 90% of professional rate their Linked Profile as fair, not even good?

 In April, Cindy Pain from Lee Hecht Harrison shared key tips for creating and protecting your brand on LinkedIn.

 Create a Profile with Purpose:

Write a compelling concise Summary (30-second soundbite) that is tailored to what your audience wants to hear.  Use personal pronouns.

 Consider separating the key element of your Summary with white space.  Your audience will then see snippets and can choose what to read. 

Remember to include keywords (generally nouns), industry-specific qualifications and job-specific buzzwords related to:

  • Industry jargon
  • Education or Certifications
  • Job Titles
  • Skills & responsibilities
    • Examples: strategic planning, market research, etc.
    • Software or hardware proficiencies (acronyms)

Consider using a brand tagline/personal title as a Headline (example: Wireless Industry Executive and Technology Entrepreneur).

Complete your total profile, i.e. Summary, Specialties, etc.  Include responsibilities and accomplishment for positions, when interested in hearing about career opportunities.

Create your own LinkedIn URL.

Creating a Winning Career Plan

In my work with students, I usually ask these two questions at the beginning of their program:

  •  How would you like your TMMBA degree to advance your career?
  • What is it that you really want to do during or after your TMMBA program?

 Some students are interested in changing careers, often desiring a broader view of an organization with business orientation.   Career planning then becomes an important component, essentially charting this course and taking action.   One suggested tool is structuring career goals into three categories:

  1.  Short-range: Critical for present position (less than 1 year)
  2. Mid-range: Important for growth within present or future positions (1 to 2 years)
  3. Long-range: Helpful for achieving long term career goals (3 to 5 years)

 A new career group starts this month.  It is designed to walk-through the process of deciphering/evaluating options, making a decision, and planning next steps.   Although a highly individualized process, synergies will occur while working together.  Since career exploration begins with self-exploration, this is the starting place.   The members will evaluate skills (Which ones are transferable/portable?), values, interests (key factor), motivating factors, etc.

I am excited about the energy and insights from the group members, and certainly look forward to witnessing and supporting their progress!

Do You Have Any Questions?

Susie Buysse, Associate Director

TMMBA partners with Executive MBA Career Services on the weekly Job Search group.  Recently, the topic of interviewing surfaced on our weekly call.  We talked about the importance of preparing a message and a list of ten to fifteen thoughtful questions to ask.  We certainly hear that interviewers judge candidates by their questions.  It is also an opportunity for you to gather additional information on the responsibilities and determine if this is a job you can and want to do. 

 A few key points to remember:

  1. Make sure to ask questions that demonstrate your broad business knowledge.
  2. Ask sophisticated questions on topics you did not find answered in your research.   
  3. Catch the details. The best questions you can ask come from listening.  
  4. Write down your questions and take them with you to the interview.  You can then pull out your list and ask the ones that haven’t been previously answered.  This will highlight your interview preparation and set you apart from the competition.

 Your questions might include (divided by category):

 Position responsibilities:

  • Can you tell me a little more about the organization and position before we get started? (if unclear about their needs)
  • Is there anything more you can tell me about this position?  What results do you expect to see from someone in this position?  
  • What is the most important contribution you would like to see accomplished during the first three months?  What are some of the longer term objectives you would like to complete?   
  • Beyond the job description, what are your expectations? 
  • What are the three most important strategic objectives for this year?
  • What do you see as the most difficult challenge in this position? 
  • What would be the next career step?  Are there opportunities for advancement? 
  • Why is the position open?  Is this a new position or would I replace someone? 
  • Is there a career path for this position?

Organization & culture:

  •  What is it like to work here? Can you describe a typical day?
  • Why did you join the organization? 
  • How are decisions made? What is the decision making process? 
  • Can you describe your leadership / management style? 
  • How is this department perceived in the organization?
  • Can you outline the organizational structure in this department/company? 
  • What organizational changes do you see in the near future? 
  • Does the organization support ongoing formal training programs and continued education? 
  • Is there a formal performance appraisal system?  How often is performance reviewed?  How is successful performance rewarded?

Wrap-up

  • Is there any additional information you need in evaluating my fit for the position? 
  • Do you have any questions or concerns about my ability to fulfill the responsibilities of the position? 
  • What will be the next step?  When do you think you will make a decision on the candidate for this position? 
  • Is there anything else you would like to know about me in terms of my strengths and how I can make a contribution? 

A solid resource for additional preparation is 201 Best Questions to Ask on Your Interviewby John Kador.  I particularly like chapter eight, “Questions for Hiring Managers” which includes questions on corporate culture and general business objectives.

How to broadcast your LinkedIn updates to your Twitter and Facebook updates (and not the other way around!)

Teagen Densmore, TMMBA Student

LinkedIn is a great tool and, surprise, surprise, it’s not just for people looking for a job–it can also help customers find you and/or your company, and generally put you in contact with opportunities you don’t know you are missing.

For me and probably for most people out there, LinkedIn is all about the professional part of my life and my Facebook and Twitter accounts are for all parts of my life: professional and personal.

Now, I certainly don’t visit LinkedIn as often as I visit Facebook or Twitter, but if I had something important to broadcast that might help me or my friends/followers/contacts with their jobs/projects/research, LinkedIn would be the place to put it, but so would Twitter and Facebook.

The kicker is that the inverse of that is not true for most people–there are updates I’ll post on my personal Facebook or Twitter profile that don’t belong on my LinkedIn profile.  LinkedIn is all about helping people with jobs, projects, research, academic and professional networking and all sorts of things around that “professional” theme.  Updates that veer too far from this theme really amount to spam, which is both annoying and unprofessional.

So, how do you share your professional updates across all three networks–but not your personal updates–without the hassle of having to login to all three services separately?

From a quick search, it appears at the time of writing this blog post that LinkedIn will send updates to a Twitter profile, but not to a Facebook profile.  What to do?  Turns out, LinkedIn talks to Twitter and Twitter will talk to Facebook, so you just have to chain them all together, with Twitter acting as the link between your LinkedIn profile and yourFacebook profile.  Sneaky.

Below are the instructions that will enable you to post once on LinkedIn and have that update also broadcast to your Twitter and Facebook profiles, but not the other way around.  This way, your professional updates are automatically shared across all three services, but your personal updates from Twitter and Facebook don’t go mussing up your LinkedIn profile.

Here’s the secret sauce:

1) Connect Twitter to your LinkedIn profile: Login to your LinkedIn account and under your settings tab, choose to add your Twitter account.  Be sure to check ‘no’ next to any option that involves importing updates from Twitter to LinkedIn, you only want your LinkedIn updates to go to Twitter, remember ONE WAY ONLY.  Now, whenever you update your LinkedIn status, check the little “share on Twitter” box and that update will also show up on your Twitter feed.

2) Connect Facebook to your Twitter updates: Login to your Facebook account and add the Twitter application.  This will send all of your Twitter updates (aka tweets) to your Facebook profile.  Note: this will send all your updates from Twitter to Facebook, even those that don’t originate from your LinkedIn profile.

3) Test it out to make sure you have everything working correctly.  Post a unique update to each of your LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook profiles and make sure updates are being shared across your three profiles as intended (note: it may take a few minute for you LinkedIn update to reach your Twitter profile and then your Facebook profile).

4) Ta-da!  Now when you post a network update to LinkedIn, that update will automatically post to your Twitter profile and then to your Facebook profile, but your Twitter and Facebook updates will not be posted to you LinkedIn profile.

Learn From My Mistakes: Networking Events

Kalpesh Shah, TMMBA alumnus (Class of 2009)

The most effective to find a job, no, the only way to find a job in today’s economy is through someone you know within the company. Building your contacts through networking events is one way to get our foot in the door.

I have attended a number of networking events. There are a number of things I wish I had done differently to make these events more productive for myself. I am sharing my experiences so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes.

  • Start Early: This is the biggest mistake I made. I started attending networking events only AFTER I was looking for a job. By then, it is almost too late. The best time to start attending networking events is NOW. There are a number of benefits to an early start. You will be able to build contacts way before you need a job. Since you won’t be desperate to land a job immediately, you will be more relaxed and confident.
  • Get Information: Gather as much information as possible about who is attending, the companies they represent, who is the featured speaker, etc. Research the event‘s topic. By doing so, you will always have something to talk about. At more than one occasion, I have had a deer-in-the-headlight look on my face when somebody spoke about the featured topic/speaker. That is not the best way of creating a positive impression about yourself.
  • Mark Your Target: Make a list of people you want to talk to at the event. The list can be short or long depending on how long the event is. Then, make a list of things you want to talk about with each person on your list. If it helps, write down the list of people and topics on a 3×5 and carry it with you to the event. You don’t have to stick to the topics on your list, but the list will help you to get the conversation started.
  • Arrive Early: If possible, arrive a little bit early to the event. You can become familiar with the room which will make your more comfortable. In addition, it will give more one-on-one with people on your list, if they arrive early as well.
  • Business Cards: Carry enough business cards so that you can give it to everyone you meet. Similarly, get business cards from everyone you meet. If possible, note down some interesting/relevant information about them on the back of the card. The business cards will help you to:
  • Follow Through: Reach out to people you met within next 24-48 hours. It can be as simple as an email saying “It was nice meeting you at…”.  Include some information that you think the other person might be interested in based on your conversations during the event. If you promised to get something done, follow through with actions within a reasonable period of time.
  • Others Interest: Networking is a two-way process. So, offer to help others who can benefit with what you bring to the table.
  • Have Fun: Last but not the least, have fun at the event. You can only do so if you are genuinely interested in meeting other people. So, show sincere interest in people and what their goals are in attending the event.

As always, your feedback/comments are welcome. If you can contribute something to make networking more productive, please leave your suggestions in the comments. Thank you.