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April 6, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

Simple methods for surviving the applicant tracking system

shutterstock_358256684It can feel cumbersome and repetitive, driving even the most patient job hunter up the wall. The applicant tracking system (ATS)  is a commonplace tool used by employers to feature accept applications and manage the recruiting process.

Last week we wrote about how employers can optimize ATS processes. Today we focus on the applicants themselves. The use of ATS is only going to grow, so it’s in your best interest to align your job hunt appropriately.

A visit to any job-seeker discussion board will offer loads of theories on how to beat the ATS robots. You’ll probably find your fair share of rants and expletives, too. If you’re getting to an ATS boiling point, it’s important to keep your cool and power forward. Remember, you can’t get the job you don’t apply for.

While there are numerous strategies to give yourself an edge against an ATS, here are five of the simplest tried-and-true methods to help you beat the bot and get your resume in front of human eyes.

1. Mimic the job description
How do you know what keywords the ATS is flagging? You don’t. But you can bet that the terms used in the job description will probably be included in the must-have list. Use them verbatim in your resume to ensure yours gets pulled. For more ideas, visit the company’s website and social media pages.

2. Use standard headings
ATS parses your information into buckets by searching your resume’s headers. That means it’s looking for standard phrasing and organization of your information. Resist the temptation to rename your education or work experience section to something more flowery, otherwise it might get skipped over completely.

3. Limit formatting
Fancy formatting can cause ATS havoc. While pretty on the eyes, complex fonts, graphics or photos don’t translate well to these software systems. It’s best to keep it simple, and if you want to convey your creative side, do so by including a link to your portfolio site for a recruiter to see at a later date.

4. Write out acronyms
Acronyms are all around us. Some companies have acronyms for names, and academic acronyms are everywhere, too. Technology acronyms can often feel like a different language. It’s hard to know what the ATS is looking for, so to decrease the chance of error, write out any phrase and then put the acronym in parenthesis.

5. Don’t sweat the length
While you shouldn’t produce a short novel, the length of your resume is not much of a concern to an ATS. In fact, a slightly longer resume offers more space to express your accomplishments and include those golden keywords. So if you’re tipping the two-page mark, don’t fret. You’re OK.

What other advice have you uncovered for beating the ATS? What have been your positive or negative experiences with this widely used approach for filtering applicants?

March 30, 2016 / Toby Dayton

March NFP Of Just 100,000 Jobs Will Be Well Below Consensus Estimates

It may have always been the case, but increasingly these days it seems as if we are in an era of enormous questions with monumental import. Along a spectrum moving from alarming to horrifying to cataclysmic, those questions would include the following: Can Donald Trump really capture the GOP nomination, and if so, what will arise from the bloody GOP carnage following the most gratifying electoral rout in American history? Can ISIS be obliterated and, related, what is the likelihood of more regular terrorism events in the west and around the world? Has climate change progressed beyond the point of no return, resulting in the ultimate demise of the planet?

How’s that for a happy spring?

It’s no wonder that in the face of such terrifying chaos, we’ve seen shocking increases in opiate addiction and, just as anesthetizing, the rise of binge-devouring epically-awesome serial television. And speaking of the latter, I’d add a few additional questions such as….will John Snow return in Season 6 (yes, of course), is R+L=J correct (seems likely), and will there ever again be a character anywhere in all of fiction as gloriously perfect as Tyrion Lannister (never)?

A little more mundane, perhaps, but no less uncertain are the endless questions swirling around the U.S. economy as Q1 comes to a close. How strong are the fundamentals underlying the economy? How long will oil prices stay so low and what impact will protracted low prices have on the economy? How long can we expect to remain sufficiently immune to persistent global weakness? How sustainable is solid consumer confidence and how far can a resilient consumer carry the U.S. economy? Is the inflation bogey-man anywhere to be found? Lastly, and most crucially, are the mysteries and vagaries surrounding the U.S. labor market.

As has been the case for nearly a decade now, all these questions coalesce into a single question – how far will the Fed raise interest rates this year? In explaining the recent decision to slow the projected path of rate increases laid out in December, Fed Chair Janet Yellen stated Tuesday that, “Given the risks to the outlook, I consider it appropriate for the committee to proceed cautiously in adjusting policy.” She further added that, “The major thing that’s changed between December and March that affects the baseline outlook is a slightly weaker projected pace of global growth. Global developments pose ongoing risks.”

But as the WSJ pointed out this morning, Yellen’s speech before the Economic Club of New York contrasts with other Fed officials who have a more positive outlook. Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart stated last week that, “there is sufficient momentum evidenced by the economic data to justify a further step at one of the coming meetings, possibly as early as the meeting scheduled for the end of April.” San Francisco Fed President John Williams stated that, “I don’t see a looming global crisis. If we see inflation continuing to consistently pick up, that would argue for a slightly steeper path for [monetary] policy.” And yet Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan urged Fed policy makers to “be patient and cautious.” WTF?!?!

Similar to trying to get a handle on GOP insanity or trying to predict Game of Thrones plot lines, it all boils down to the basic reality that no one, including the Fed, has any idea how fast interest rates will climb this year. And while my crystal ball is no less cloudy than anyone else’s, I can provide some insights into the U.S. labor market, what we see for Friday’s jobs numbers for March, and what our outlook is for job growth in the 2nd quarter.

Based on the declines in new and total job openings seen in our job search engine in January, we are forecasting a net gain of just 100,000 jobs for Friday’s non-farm payroll (NFP) report for March.

 

NFP Forecast March 2016

 

That is well below consensus estimates of a net gain of 202,000 jobs among economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

 

NFP_2016.03.30

 

If we are correct, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t adjust numbers for January or February (a highly unlikely scenario), then job gains for Q1 would come in at just over 500,000, similar to what we’ve seen in the 1st quarter for the past few years.

 

LinkUp monthly & NFP qtrly March 2016

 

But based on very strong gains in new job openings and a modest increase in total job openings in February, combined with solid job opening numbers for March, we are predicting strong job growth in Q2.

 

LinkUp new Total Mix March 2016

 

For new readers of this blog, LinkUp is a highly unique job search engine in that we only index jobs from company websites. Updated daily, our search engine indexes approximately 3 million job openings from 50,000 company websites around the country and around the world. There are no duplicate listings because we only pull in job openings from a single source – the employer’s website itself. And most importantly, we do not aggregate job listings from job boards or other ‘pay-to-post’ sources, so we completely eliminate job board pollution (scams, fraud, lead-gen, identity theft, phishing, money-mule, resume pooling, etc.).

As a result of our vastly differentiated approach to the online jobs space, we deliver a phenomenal user experience to job seekers and an industry-leading value proposition to our employer advertisers. Our unique approach also results in the largest, highest quality labor market dataset in the industry which we’ve been able to effectively leverage to make accurate job forecast for the past 5+ years.

So while I couldn’t even begin to imagine what the outcome of the gong show in Cleveland in July will be, nor whether or not Daenerys Targaryen will reclaim the throne in Westeros, we remain confident that Friday’s numbers will come in below consensus, the Fed will hold interest rates steady in April, and job growth in Q2 will be quite strong.

 

 

Because Friday is the 1st of the month, we do not yet have final job openings data for March. We will publish our March job openings data early next week along with an updated forecast for Q2 job growth and perhaps some additional commentary on Friday’s numbers.

March 29, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Is your ATS a secret weapon or achilles heel?

HR software has revolutionized the recruiting process, helping save time, money and headaches associated with vetting qualified candidates. Research shows approximately 60 percent of companies use some form of applicant tracking system (ATS). The larger the company, the more likely they use an ATS, with data revealing 75 percent of big companies use this software to review and rank resumes.

The message is clear: ATS is here to stay.

But not every problem is solved so easily. Cumbersome application processes leave many candidates frustrated and confused, and this probably is not the first impression you want to make on future employees. From having to enter duplicate information repeatedly to wondering whether information ever reaches a human being’s eye, the ATS is often the bane of the job hunter’s world.

And that’s just from the applicant’s perspective. Legacy systems and clunky code can leave more work for the HR department. To make matters worse, a sub-par system might keep you from recognizing otherwise incredible talent and you wouldn’t even know it (and they’ll go right to your competition to work).

The good news, fortunately, is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Savvy HR folks are embracing these key considerations to ensure they get all the information they need from talent so they can create a seamless application process from start to finish:

Ease of use: The ATS should be easy for HR to use. If it’s taking extra time or causing confusion, it’s not a worthwhile investment. It also should be easy for applicants to use. Make sure the interface is simple to navigate and isn’t a maze to complete. Conduct user tests if necessary.

Training and support: When researching different ATS options, what training and on-boarding does the company provide? Furthermore, what ongoing support is available when glitches and hurdles arise? You want to have experts on reserve if things go awry.

Mobile compatibility: A whopping 40 percent of job seekers use their mobile devices to search and apply for jobs. Make sure the ATS process looks as good on an iPhone as it does on a PC.

Streamlined processes: Make sure the ATS works with plug-ins like LinkedIn Apply, where applicants can automatically fill in time-consuming personal information. It also should have the ability to integrate well with social media.

Website integration: The ATS must work with your own unique career site that offers customized job postings and reporting. It also should seamlessly integrate with job boards and talent communities so you can pull in candidates from a variety of sources.

Respect: Give candidates proper information about their next steps throughout the entire application process. For applicants who are out of the running, make sure you can turn off the instant email notifications sent to them. Automatic rejections from computer software are sure to leave a bitter aftertaste.

Posting closures: The ATS should alert you when you have adequate applicants so you can take next steps. Make sure to take down job postings so people no longer spend time needlessly applying.

These considerations are some heavy hitters, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. What other advice do you have for HR execs looking to maximize their ATS?

March 23, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

The future is freelance: pros and cons of going independent

How many people do you know who work as freelancers or consultants? That number is likely higher than it was just a decade ago. The freelance economy is booming and it won’t stop anytime soon. In fact, more than 40 percent of the American workforce will be independent workers by 2020, according to an Intuit study.

Thanks to a multitude of technology options, freelancing has never been easier, even when working for companies on the other side of the world. You can fully equip your home office or grab your laptop and head to one of the many co-working spaces flourishing in major cities across the country. The options are virtually endless for the savvy independent worker.

Demand is also a big reason why more people are freelancing, as companies are increasingly looking to freelancers to fill talent gaps. They choose freelancers for their expertise and fresh perspective, and they come without a long-term commitment or the cost of a permanent hire. There is particular growth in demand for executive freelancers. Great for startups and SMBs, companies can get tenured talent and stay within budget.

Whether you’re fresh out of college or a seasoned C-suite executive, there are many considerations to weigh before jumping fully into the freelance pool. It’s important to look at the main pros and cons of freelancing so you can decide what’s best for your career.

Income
Pro: Because you can offer your services without the overhead a firm would typically charge clients, you can often make more independently.

Con: You can also make less. You must be a great self-manager and be able to sell yourself to clients so you can keep contracts coming in regularly. You also must deal with accounting activities, such as filing taxes and funding your health-care expenses.

Flexibility
Pro: One of the main reasons people freelance is for the flexibility. Younger generations don’t want the job constraints they saw their parents struggling with. Older generations who aren’t quite ready to retire find freelancing a great way to put professional skills to use without the demands of a full-time gig.

Con: While having a flexible work arrangement might seem attractive, it’s not for everyone. Some people function better in a traditional work atmosphere and struggle to be as productive as independent workers.

Selectivity
Pro: You can choose who you work with, and that can help bring deeper meaning to your job. Similarly, if you start freelancing and don’t like a client, you can “fire” them by either ending the contract early or not renewing when it’s up.

Con: The businesses hiring you can be equally selective. Furthermore, if they don’t feel you’re fulfilling the need adequately, they can let you go at any time, which means an instant end to any income (and potentially a mark on your professional reputation).

Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more things to think about, including some comical thoughts like working in your PJs as noted by The Onion. What other big considerations should professionals think about before making the transition to freelance?

March 17, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Boomers to iGen: Expert insight for job search across generations

At no other time in U.S. history has the American workforce varied so greatly in age as it does today. In fact, it’s not unheard of for an 18-year-old to work next to someone pushing 70 — and sometimes those two people might even be competing for the same job.

People are living longer and working longer, which means the range of applicant ages can be huge. Four generations are currently in the workforce, and generally speaking, each has its strengths and weaknesses. We reached out to several industry experts to learn more about the differentiating qualities across generations and how they can influence your job search.

1. Baby boomers (1946-1964)

  • Must keep up with technological changes
  • Focus on experience as a differentiator
  • Embrace change and keep an open mind

“Baby boomers bring experience, wisdom and a no-BS approach to the job search,” says Gabrielle Jackson Bosché, a generational engagement strategist at The Millennial Solutions. “They know what they like, and what they don’t like. But many of them are starting a new career after reaching retirement, or are searching for more ways to help them eventually retire.”

“Experience is often the key strength for this group,” adds Michelle Merritt, president and CEO of Merrfeld Resumes and Coaching. “Leveraging not only on-the-job experience but also life experience and wisdom can be a great benefit. The key to leveraging that experience is being confident without being overbearing or closed off to new ideas.”

She advises: “It’s important to show how you are open to new ideas and how you’ve been proactive in learning about new technologies or systems in your field. Actively pursuing the cutting edge in your industry will show your willingness to learn and innovate effectively and efficiently.”

2. Gen X (1965-1976)

  • Enjoys independence and autonomy
  • Offers valuable experience that is often under-advertised
  • Desires flexibility and perks in addition to pay — a negotiating opportunity

“Gen X’ers are excellent at delivering on expectations once hired because they tend to under-advertise their skills, however, they may not convey enough confidence in an interview,” says Elizabeth Becker of PROTECH. “They may get frustrated in a job search because they’re looking at positions that actually aren’t at a high enough level for their skills. Experience is often more valuable than education in the current market saturated by degrees, and Gen X’ers without a degree should highlight their experience and not worry about the diploma they don’t have.”

“Generation X is looking for independence and autonomy in a job,” Bosché says. “Many have young kids or middle schoolers. As the latchkey generation, they prioritize time with family and being as present as possible in the lives of their family. Flexibility is key for this generation who will be expecting time to go to soccer games, doctor appointments and family vacations. They are not in the career-building phase of their life; they are looking for stability and predictability. This doesn’t mean they aren’t hard workers! This generation loves checklists and would prefer to work alone to get things done right.”

3. Millennials/Gen Y (1977 – 1995)

  • Need reality check of mismanaged expectations
  • Reputation as job jumpers
  • Must focus on job loyalty and developing skills long term

“[Gen Y is] innovative with a willingness to try new things,” says Merritt. “[They have] an understanding of the shift in the American economy because they’re the ones driving the shift from mortgages to dining experiences. GenY would rather have a nice dinner and live in a small apartment than have a mortgage on a fancy house in the suburbs. Understanding and articulating how this impacts the business world and customers can be a great asset for Gen Y.”

“Millennials tend to have great confidence in interviewing, often overestimating their skills in certain areas,” adds Becker. “If they’ve taken a college course in a specific area or have a year of working experience, they’ll rank themselves as an expert or very good when older generations with 10 years of experience might only say they’re average with the same skills. This confidence is very helpful in landing a position, but we see some turnover due to the millennial not being able to deliver on the high expectations they set.”

4. iGen/Gen Z (1996 or later)

  • Extremely tech savvy
  • Must shed reputation that they can’t connect without technology
  • Many may become entrepreneurs

“iGen/Gen Z are just starting to enter their first jobs,” Bosché says. “They have no expectations of what reality is, but are bringing their smart devices along with them for the ride. They are the true digital natives, and can’t imagine the thought of not being constantly connected. This makes them ideal brand ambassadors, as each of them have 2.3 social media accounts.”

This tech savviness has a downfall, she says. “It is also challenging attempting to get through to a generation that would rather be on Snapchat than serving customers. This generation has to get over the stereotype of being disconnected, put down their phone and show their employer they are in it for real.”

“IGen/Gen Z’ers are just starting to enter the job market and will have the toughest time due to high student debts and limited career opportunities,” adds Becker. “I expect many IGen/Gen Z’ers will be forced into entrepreneurship out of necessity.”

A true melting pot: The multi-generational workplace

“Millennials and Gen Z represent talent, while baby boomers represent skill,” says Lynda Spiegel, founder of Rising Star Resumes. “A younger cohort brings fresh ideas, but the older colleagues have the expertise to bring those ideas to fruition. The benefits of a multi-generational workplace can only be realized when each generation gets over itself to appreciate what the others bring to the table.”

March 8, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Employee resignations: counter offer or say good bye?

You’re a manager and a valued employee walks into your office with a piece of paper in hand, asking for a moment to chat. As you’re handed a resignation letter, your heart sinks. Afterward, you immediately meet with HR to share the news and start an all-too common conversation: Should the company extend a counteroffer?

A lot of factors must be considered when determining whether you want to fight to keep an employee from leaving. Counteroffers can be the carrot that gets great talent to stay, but offering one can set a dangerous precedent, too. Before making an offer, it’s important to take an in-depth look at what the employee brings to the company.

Some questions to start with:

  • Is the employee in good standing?
  • What value does the employee bring to the table?
  • Does the employee have potential and leadership ability?
  • Does the employee fit the company culture?
  • Would the employee’s job be difficult to fill?

Then consider the resigning employee’s perspective, why are they leaving? If the job isn’t a good match or if there is a lack of career-advancement opportunities, consider whether the company would be willing to move the employee to a new department, pay for training or provide a promotion. If she is leaving to move across the country to be closer to family, you’d be hard-pressed to keep her (unless you can provide a transfer or allow telecommuting).

If pay is the reason for the move, you may be able to influence her to stay with additional compensation and benefits. In doing so, you could retain talent and maintain productivity. This eliminates the cost of finding and training a new hire, or worse, experiencing a bad hire, which can cost up to five times that person’s annual salary, according to a study by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).

Though keep in mind, a financial counteroffer in itself may not be enough to maintain employee satisfaction. More than 50 percent of employees who accept counteroffers change companies within 24 months anyway, according to a Pittsburgh staffing firm survey.

In the more extreme cases, if you believe the employee is disgruntled or has been unhappy for quite sometime, it may be best to let them go. Even if you do decide to make a counteroffer she can’t refuse, it may only serve as a band-aid on the bigger issue. In the end, you just might be delaying the inevitable. Do seek to understand if the issue unique to the employee or indicative of a broader issue that could lead other valuable employees to resign as well.

Ultimately, if your big-picture vision doesn’t align with the employee’s vision, it might be time to say goodbye.

What’s the best solution? Keep employees satisfied so they don’t resign and you don’t have to think about counteroffers at all. To do so, maintain open lines of communication to ensure employees are happy. Use performance reviews to identify areas of growth and offer options. When you keep your ears tuned and your eyes open, it’s pretty easy to notice when good employees are starting to feel dissatisfied.

March 3, 2016 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp Forecasting Decent Job Gains In February

Literally speechless after the results in the GOP race on Super Tuesday, I couldn’t possibly write a coherent blog post. As a result, I’ll simply post charts and graphs of our jobs data for tomorrow’s NFP report for February with minimal commentary.

In February, new and total job postings were essentially flat from January.

Jobs By State Feb 2016

 

New and total job growth numbers by category were similarly uneventful.

 

Jobs By Category Feb 2016

 

In 6 of the past 8 months, job listings on LinkUp have declined from the previous month (and October of last year was barely positive). The month-over-month declines seen in our job search engine (which only indexes jobs from company websites and currently includes approximately 3 million jobs from 50,000 companies) were clearly indicative of weakening labor demand that became increasingly apparent in the latter half of 2015.

 

LinkUp Job Gains 2015

 

And because a job opening is the most accurate indicator of a new job being added to the U.S. economy, our data is highly correlated to job growth in future periods.

 

LinkUp v NFP

 

The lag time between when a job post appears on LinkUp and when that job shows up in the BLS NFP data ranges between 30-60 days, and we can measure that ‘lag’ using our job duration data. Since August, LinkUp’s Job Duration has risen from 42 days to 56 days in February, indicating declining velocity in hiring across the country.

 

Job Duration Feb 2016

 

With the steady increase in Job Duration over the past few months, climbing to nearly 60 days in February, we are basing our February NFP forecast on our December data. With December’s job gains on LinkUp, net job growth in the U.S. in February should come in above BLS numbers for January at 215,000 jobs in February.

 

Feb 2016 NFP

 

Our forecast for February is slightly above consensus estimates of roughly 195,000 jobs.

 

NFP_2016.03.03

 

Let’s hope our forecast is as accurate as the forecasts around a Trump drubbing in November.

March 2, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

Busted! Modern job hunt myths killing your potential

shutterstock_302492738 (1)Myths and legends are the stuff of children’s stories, but when it comes to the world of job searching, tall tales are as common as it gets. Differentiating myth from reality can be difficult, particularly when you consider all the nuances of the modern job hunt. Fear not! Let’s tackle 10 common job hunt myths and set the record straight.

Myth: Apply to as many jobs as possible

“Sending out resumes to hundreds of companies — spray and pray — will eventually result in someone contacting you for an interview. Dead wrong,” says Eric Wentworth, author of A Plan for Life: The 21st Century Guide to Success. “Eighty-five percent of all jobs are filled through contacts in your personal network: friends, former colleagues, LinkedIn, your neighbors, members of your church, etc.”

Myth: All work-from-home jobs are scams

A lot of companies are becoming more telecommuter friendly. What you need to ensure is that you’re applying directly on a reputable company’s website. Use LinkUp.com and use “telecommute” along with your other keywords.

Myth: You can’t apply to jobs from your phone

Sure, applying for a job from a mobile device can be clunky and time consuming, but employers are starting to cater to the mobile job seeker. Some use shorter versions of their applications on mobile and leverage social plugins to facilitate the application process. Bottom line: don’t shy away from searching on your phone, apply if a mobile solution is available, or email yourself the listing from your phone to pursue from your laptop later.

Myth: Skip jobs if you don’t meet the criteria 

“It’s a myth that you cannot apply for jobs if you don’t meet the qualifying criteria mentioned in the job description,” says Adarsh Thampy, CEO of LeadFerry. “If you are really passionate about a role, companies will hire you for your passion. You can always be trained on something; but passion isn’t something that can be taught.”

Myth: Asking for a low salary will make you more attractive

“If you are very good at what you do, employers need you more than you need the employer,” says Triin Linamagi, founder of CVProfs. “Know your value, know the competition, know how to sell your skills and know your price. It’s true you should not take a job just for money, but if you earn less than you feel you are worth you will become demotivated very quickly.”

Myth: Resumes are obsolete

Most large companies use resumes as their initial source for candidate consideration, but more and more they are leaning on sites like LinkedIn to provide supplementary information. Some even allow candidates to fill in their job applications with their LinkedIn data; this, however, does not replace a strong resume as a leading tool for job hunting.

Myth: You should close down your social presence during your job search

“We encourage people to keep their social accounts active, but go through each of them to be sure there isn’t anything ‘you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see,’” says Bill Fish, president of ReputationManagement.com. “Seeing a photo of you with your friends at a baseball game having a beer is not going to stop a recruiter from bringing you in for an interview. Hiring managers like to see some personality, and social media can provide that, showing activities and interests outside of the office. Now, hate speech or references to illicit drugs are always a bad idea, and will get your resume a free ride through the shredder.”

Myth: Today’s focus on digital means less focus on networking

“While it is important to have a professional digital presence, many companies are still not using that as their primary candidate search tool,” says Joshua Evans, CEO at Enthusiastic You! “The suggestion I often make to my younger clients is to reach out directly to companies they want to work with. Take the time to stalk them on LinkedIn, find out if anyone you know is connected and go from there.”

Myth: Companies hire the candidates with the most skills

Skills are important in getting a new job, but companies today are looking beyond education, certifications and experience. Cultural fit is a leading consideration that often is just as important as skill sets.

Myth: Job searching doesn’t require special skills

“Most people don’t understand that the skills needed to find a job are different from the skills needed to do a job,” says Jeff Altman of The Big Game Hunter. “Obviously, you need to be competent enough to execute for the next employer; however, your ability to find work is going to be predicated upon learning and mastering skills in job search.”

February 24, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Millennial lessons from the open letter to Yelp’s CEO

shutterstock_301974959Open letters are the modern op-ed, and while those written by celebrities and politicians sometimes get a lot of traction, many simply fade into the online abyss.

That fate, however, was not the case for 25-year-old Talia Jane over the weekend.

Her post titled “An Open Letter to My CEO” went viral. In her letter she explains many problems experienced by entry-level employees of Yelp/Eat24. She claims she’s underpaid, overworked and utterly stressed.

A lot of people have weighed in after reading her post. While some offer words of understanding, others feel as though she’s acting like a “stereotypical millennial.” Personally, I think she brought up some valid concerns, but the way she communicated them was not productive and unprofessional. Here are some of her main points:

  • She hasn’t been able to afford groceries since starting at Yelp and basically subsists on a 10-lb bag of rice she bought prior to starting.
  • Complimentary snacks are stocked only on weekdays and therefore not always available when working weekends.
  • Great insurance she doesn’t pay for, except a $20 co-pay that she can’t afford.
  • 80 percent of her income goes toward renting an apartment that is far away.
  • She has to work in customer service for an entire year before she’ll be considered for an opening in another department.

The list goes on, of course, and it’s no surprise that people are throwing around terms like “entitled” and “spoiled millennial.” Bottom line: If her concerns were presented to the correct parties in a respectful, intelligent manner, she may not have gotten fired.

So what can other millennials learn from Talia’s letter?

First, this is a great lesson about what you should consider before taking a job. I get it, though — after working hard to get a degree, you’re chomping at the bit to start your career. Thoughtful job search is critical to ensure each decision you make helps you grow. Here are a few basic yet extremely important questions to ask yourself:

  1. Does the salary cover your basic expenses?
  2. How long is your commute and what will it cost?
  3. What company policies exist regarding advancement?
  4. What hours are you expected to work?
  5. What career-development opportunities are available?
  6. What benefits are available and what do they cost?
  7. Does the company’s culture align with your personality?

If Talia had asked these questions and deeply considered each answer, she may not have ended up feeling “the bitter remorse of accepting a job that can’t pay a living wage.” See, you have to think through each decision you make and do what’s best for you and your career. After all, no one wants to end up unemployed with a bad reputation, much like the woman who wrote a public essay complaining to her CEO.

Finally, this is a lesson for us all to reign in those emotions before writing a letter to any manager, let alone a member of the C-suite. Emotional intelligence is an in-demand soft skill, and this letter demonstrates that Talia has some work to do in that department. It’s not that she should have remained silent, necessarily, but she should have found a better way to channel and voice her concerns.

In a follow up-letter she published on Medium yesterday she has reported that “Things have been pretty chaotic for me since last Friday when I wrote that open letter and “Some people have even offered me a job or donated money to me .” Hopefully as she considers her new job prospects, she’ll ask herself some of these important questions and hone her emotional IQ.

What’s your opinion on this much talked about letter? Please share your thoughts.

February 17, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

The power of connection: Authentic networking done right

How do you feel when you hear the word “networking?” For some people, networking is an exciting and empowering professional activity. For others, it’s a dreaded task that always feels forced with the underlying goal of getting ahead.

Authentic networking is different. Rather than just sending a LinkedIn request or exchanging business cards, authentic networking digs deeper for more genuine connections. For extroverts, it allows them to make more memorable impressions and get more out of their relationships. For introverts, it allows them to get rid of the sleazy “what’s in it for me” feelings and focus on nurturing meaningful connections.

Why does all this matter? The world runs on relationships. We hear time and time again that it’s not what you know but who you know — and that makes a big difference in career development. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking. Even if you’re not job hunting, the relationships you curate help support career development in countless ways and are key to building your professional reputation.

Eliminate the phony and fake feelings and start networking authentically. Here are five simple ways to get started:

Find commonalities beyond work

Networking conversations don’t have to focus only on industry news and workplace trends. Chat about things outside of work to find a common connection. Your shared passions for skiing, music or travel could make for great conversations during which you’ll make a lasting impression.

Talk about causes you’re passionate about

Networking can be extremely fulfilling when you connect with someone about topics and causes that are meaningful to you. If you’re an IT guru, there’s no reason you can’t mention your soft spot for animals. A project manager with a passion for the arts? Right on. An architect who melts over kids’ causes? Awesome. Delve in and see where the conversation leads, but please note, it’s best to avoid politics and other sensitive topics.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking – See more at: http://blog.jobfully.com/2010/07/the-math-behind-the-networking-claim/#sthash.NGEHZYoP.dpuf
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking – See more at: http://blog.jobfully.com/2010/07/the-math-behind-the-networking-claim/#sthash.NGEHZYoP.dpuf

Talk about a common connection

It’s a small world after all! It’s amazing who knows who in any given industry, and it’s likely that you have a common connection with any person you try to network with. If you’re connected on LinkedIn, it’s easy to learn what connections you have in common and use them as conversation fodder. If not, you may have to be creative and ask thoughtful questions to uncover common connections.

Shift your outlook from “me” to “we”

Authentic networking focuses on sincere connections with individuals and organizations who support each other. Rather than focusing on self-promotion, shift your outlook toward collective advancement. The things you post online and conversations you have should better everyone, not just you. And if you need a favor, offer to reciprocate. A “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” outlook goes a long way.

Network in places that are conducive to it

Educational events, trade shows, professional lunches — these are all stellar networking opportunities. Keep in mind that loud, noisy places are difficult for networking, and if you end up in an intimate cocktail hour at 9 p.m., it might be misconstrued as something more than a professional meetup. Additionally, the web offers opportunities to network. For example, actively posting to LinkedIn and engaging in conversations helps you make meaningful connections and demonstrates your expertise.

What’s your take? How do you network authentically, and what tips do you have?