Archive for January, 2010

Professional Association Memberships while Unemployed

For decades, professional associations have enhanced the careers of not only individual members but the overall professions they serve as well. Services they provide include opportunities for professional development as well as up to date information on field trends. The networking opportunities of an association fill countless jobs and many members also discover additional employment opportunities on association job boards.

 Unfortunately, since the start of the current recession, many of the unemployed individuals I see are not utilizing the services of their professional associations. Some had never been members before and can’t afford to start paying dues. Similarly, members often rate dues as a ‘nonessential’ expense and discontinue association while unemployed.

When I encourage unemployed individuals to attend networking events, I point out that most groups sponsoring such events are supportive of the plight of unemployed individuals. For example, the local Chamber of Commerce in my area will not charge an unemployed person admission to an event. I have had many job seekers attend paid events by volunteering to help. Many of these events were sponsored by professional association.

I mentioned these factors at a recent employment seminar I was conducting, and one attendee provided valuable information on this topic. She’s a career association member and serves on a regional joint association membership group. All the associations in this group have adopted supportive positions on dealing with former or potential members currently unemployed. These involve waving or delaying membership dues and any fees associated with events. The long range theory is that someone receiving extra assistance from their professional association in a time of need such as unemployment will likely show their gratitude by committing to long term membership.

So, before you cross off an association as a resource for your job search due to cost concerns, talk to a board member about your situation.

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Tips on Working with Recruiters

One area of job search that creates frequent misunderstanding for job seekers is the role of recruiters.  Nick Corcodilos recently published a book titled How to Work With Headhunters that’s on my reading list since it’s recommended  by several people I respect. You can begin to develop a better understanding of recruiters at Nick’s web site asktheheadhunter.com. Lisa Wiley-Parker,  a career coach and former recruiter colleague of mine also provides insight on recruiters on her blog http://www.recruiteruncensored.blogspot.com/. If you ever have the opportunity to hear a recruiter speak, do so. You will discover several misunderstandings you have about recruiters.

I want to list a few random recommendations I share with job seekers on the topic of recruiters:

Ask questions of your own. Most successful recruiters specialize in a particular field. If one contacts you, he or she likely deals with your field and also your local market. Don’t hesitate to ask about trends or in demand skills. This can alert you to the possibility of needing any training. If you post résumés on job boards and have a LinkedIn profile, ask the recruiter what keywords are vital get noticed in online searches. He or she searches these all the time.

Do not take it personally a recruiter does not return your call. A recruiter friend once told me that just servicing the active openings on his board can involve more than fifty phone calls per day. Contingency recruiters mostly work on commission, so they need to focus on current openings. Successful recruiters know their field of concentration and recognize skill sets  they receive regular orders for. One might not have an immediate need for an individual with your skill sets, but this doesn’t mean they won’t develop a need at a later date.

Do not assume a recruiter has no interest in someone unemployed. Nearly 10% of the professional, executive, technical and managerial population I have worked with report that a recruiter linked them to their next employer. All these people come to us after losing a job.

Regarding your résumé. Some employers may need recruiters to offer candidate information on a work sheet. Recruiters also often need to make corrections to the résumés candidates send them. With these factors in mind, do not send a recruiter your résumé in PDF format and minimize use of tables. Plus, when a recruiter schedules you for an interview, ask him to give you a copy of the résumé or worksheet he sent the employer.