22514097OK we’ve heard over and over again about how we have to get down and dirty and sometimes try off the wall tricks to land a job in this economy. Well, I have heard and tried just about every trick in the book. Some are a bit “out there” but effective none the less. You can try some or all of the tricks I’m about to reveal, but be responsible about it. Desperate times call for desperate measures so you must have the hunter instinct and be willing to try the unusual.
  • Find out who the hiring managers are at companies you would like to work at and then treat them to lunch! Managers get tons of resumes from tons of people on a daily basis. Hardly any stand out on paper, so this is your chance to shine and make a lasting impression. Reach out to the manager to “network”. Don’t ask for an interview or even intimate that you are on the market. Once you exchange a few email and perhaps a phone call to introduce yourself, suggest you meet for lunch. Then you can use this opportunity to let the manager talk about the company, their department and any hiring needs they may have. When you have your cue, mention that you might be interested in learning about any opportunities. At this point, give them a Resume Card, not an actual paper resume. If your card is designed right, it will have just enough information and key points to make you shine. But don’t leave it there. Follow up thanking them for their time and offer to forward a resume “just in case”. Then KEEP IN TOUCH. You don’t want them to forget about you.
  • Say you’re a Graphic Designer looking for work or freelance projects. Here’s a tip someone share with me. Wish I could take credit but I can’t. Do a search of Creative Director or Art Director job ads. Follow them until you know they are filled. About a month after it is filled, reach out to the new person in the position and introduce yourself.  Get to know them and make sure to let them know you do graphic design and that you are available for freelance or project work.  Ask to send a link to your online portfolio (which you will no doubt have because you ARE a professional, right?). Then follow up ever so often to establish a trusting relationship.  Of course the rules differ slightly from position type to position type.  But you get the gist of it.
  • Try the unthinkable. A few months back, I posted about a former Wall Street employee who was at his wits end. He had lost his job and had to send his family to stay with his wife’s parents so he could find work in NYC.  Well, this gentleman, feeling he had nothing to lose, would go out into downtown Manhattan and hand out copies of his resume. He also had one of those “Job Wanted” sandwich boards made. Well after almost a year, he got a job because his tactic worked.  Now I’m not saying do anything that will degrade you or make you feel uncomfortable. But as the title of that blog entry said Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures.  His tactics got him coverage in the Wall Street Journal, among other media outlets and it netted him a job.
  • Think Bond. James Bond. You have an arsenal at your fingertips that you take for granted every day.
    Remember the old Get Smart episodes where he’d get a message and after the message played, it said that the tape would self destruct? No, I’m not suggesting sending a tape or CD that will actually self destruct. But I am saying follow that lead. Everyone send resumes. We live in the YouTube age.  Many computers have the capability to play video, CD and DVD. Why not put together an homage of your past experience?  This would go over well for the more creative type jobs.  But who says only the creatives get to have fun? A long, long time ago, I had to take a series of temp jobs to get back on track financially. I decided to register with an agency and take an Admin job. Well I put together a CD with an overview of my “experience” (had to exaggerate a little because I was a Recruiter, not an Admin) and it culminated in the top 10 reasons why they should hire me. I later found out it was between me and two other ladies. I won out because of my CD. And even long after I left that temp job, the manager kept it on his desk as a reminder! You can break out your webcam, fire up Microsoft’s Windows Media Maker (which is free and already installed in most PCs) or use a media maker on Mac, and burn baby burn.  My teenage son has put together his own football highlight tape using his laptop.  Why can’t you do the same? Don’t forget to make an eye catching label and cover.
  • Drop the pride. We all have an ideal image of the perfect type of position. But in times of job scarcity, you have to adapt and accommodate.  You must be willing to step out of your norm to try new jobs. The more flexible you are, the better chance you’ll have to find a job. Now don’t resign to just taking “anything”. But keep your options flexible and open.
  • Pay per interview. Hold on. It’s not what you think. If you’re out of a job, chances are you don’t have funds to “pay” for an interview of any kind. But hear me out.  A young man, Javier Pujals, came up with an idea of paying per interview.  The pricing structure is based on actual real jobs posted and priced per level (HR, Managers/Directors, CEO/President). He gets 20 minutes of uninterrupted interview time with one of the above mentioned. The money he “pays” will go to an agreed upon legitimate charity. He set up a website to chronicle his journey. http://www.buyaninterview.com He is being very innovative and socially responsible.
  • Big companies not hiring? Well position yourself as a consultant. Attend industry events and market yourself as a “business”. Consultants in a sense are their own business. If you’re an Accounting whiz, hire yourself out to handle overflow from accounting firms.  Tax time is a great time to contract yourself out if you specialize in taxes. If you’re more of a general bookkeeper, you can sell yourself to handle bookkeeping for small businesses, or take overflow of other bookkeeping businesses. There are opportunities out there.
  • Recognize that social media and web 2.0 is dated. EVERYBODY (including me) uses Linked In, Twitter, Facebook, etc. There is nothing new or innovative about social networking any more. But you can do something to make yourself stand out from the crowd.Tap into your creativity. Know that recruiters are watching these mediums. Get out front and get seen.
  • Dress up everyday in your best interview attire and go hang out downtown.  Pay attention to the people who frequent certain hot spots like the local coffee shop or restaurant. Get a feel for who all goes in there on a daily basis. Once you’ve done your research, ask the shop or restaurant owner if you could host a group meeting there and advertise it with flyers.  You can put together your own “lunch and learn” and pick topics that would appeal to people and show off your professional knowledge. Or you could start a lunch meet up type thing. Reach out to the “regulars” and let them know that you are interested in starting a Lunch Up. Invite them to join you and bring co-workers. You get to network, meet new people and share your knowledge. Pretty extreme, but it works! But DON’T go begging for a job. It’s ok to let them know you are passively on the market. But don’t beat them over the head with it.
  • Get some resume cards made.  I create these for clients so reach out to me for more details.  A resume card is better than a resume, especially if you include your Linked In profile on it. They allow you to give people a brief overview of who you are and takes away the awkwardness of carrying around resumes. You can think of them as your own business cards.  When you run into someone who’s worth networking with, you won’t have to say “I don’t have any cards”. Who says only the employed should have business cards? Hand them out with care and be sure to use a P.O. Box address instead of your home address (for safety).
  • Volunteer. You can volunteer your time and expertise to non profits.  Keep in mind, CEOs and major decision makers often serve on boards of non profits. This is your opportunity to give back and get to know the CEO or decision maker of companies you’d be interested in working with. Now don’t volunteer for the sole purpose of connecting with a decision maker. That’s not genuine and people can spot a fraud a mile away. Approach volunteering with a pure heart and give it 110%. You never know who’s watching and where opportunities can lead.
  • Chronicle your job search (tactfully) in a blog.  Then promote that blog. If nobody sees it, how will they know of your creativity?

Step back and think about the times we live in. Every day, the media, much like a cuckoo clock pops out announcing “thousands of jobs cut, thousands of jobs cut!”.  There is a fine line between clever and stupid. Carefully plan out your tactics and make sure you don’t offend, harass or embarrass.  The goal is to capture the attention of those who may be in a position to hire you. Let them see your ingenuity, not view you as a sophomoric college prankster.  Multiple strategies will net you more leads than just relying on one or two. Combine your “extreme tactics” with traditional ones. It’s nobody’s job to find you a job.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham


obama_we_didSo are you approaching life optimistically and full of hope yet? Have you made the decision I asked you to make weeks ago, to stop letting this economy get you down? Have you resolved to make this jacked up economy work for you yet?  I certainly hope so.

In order to embrace this mindset, you have to think back to the turn of the last century. Men and women HAD to make opportunities.  Especially black men and women. Needless to say, opportunities were scarce and we had to make a way out of no way.  It should still be the mantra we follow today. Depending on what part of the country you’re from, it’s possible that you have had innovation and entrepreneurship all around you. And in other parts of the country (like where I grew up- Bronx NY) you may have seen lots of people without hope or desire to go out and get what you want.  Each person is responsible for claiming their destiny and living their “American Dream”.  If I listened to statistics, I would not be here where I am today.  I would be on welfare somewhere living in the project with 4-5 kids, no education to speak of and living off the government.  But I’m not.  I have two businesses and a lovely home of my own.  And I only have ONE kid. 🙂

How did we lose that spark of becoming incidental entrepreneurs?  When exactly did this happen? I don’t know every black woman in the country so I can’t speak to stats and numbers. But of the people I do know, more contend they are happy to be employees and receive a steady paycheck each week than to strike out on their own to create their own opportunities.  This is fine for some people. We all have that option. But it makes me question where that drive of our ancestors went.  What happened to the times of turning a special skill into a business?  What about our unprecedented access to technology and the internet? If anything, it should be easier today to start a business than it was back in the beginning of the last century.

But that’s neither here nor there. My point is that I want you to get out and do something.  You cannot fix the economy. But you can control how you react to it. Don’t be satisfied to just accept any job for the sake of a paycheck. Find out what your passion is and work on doing it. If you’re comfortable being a “worker bee” as one of my friends put it, that’s fine. But don’t feel you are stuck there.  There are plenty of opportunities for people who work for them and go for them.  If you’re worried about money, do something on the side. Essence Magazine has an ongoing column about “Side Hustles”. While I hate that name, it is appropriate. Get a side gig or start a part time side venture for yourself to make up the difference.  Who knows, this could ultimately prepare you for a full time business venture in the future.  But in order to find out if it’s something you would like to do later on, at least try it.

Know your limitations, but don’t let them hinder or scare you. What did I say earlier? We are notorious for making a way out of no way.  Focus on strengthening your limitations and seek guidance when necessary.  That doesn’t make you a weak person.  It’s part of the game.  All of the greats have hired people smarter than they are or more skilled in an area they are not.  By focusing on strengthening your limitations, you put yourself in a position to excel. Don’t let pride stand in your way. This applies whether you are running a business or building your career.  Seek out what you don’t know and work on your weaknesses.

Stop letting the gloom and doom of the media frighten you. Yes, we are going through some tight times, but we are far from the depression of the 1920’s. It’s all in your perspective of things. You can choose to hide and be scared, or you can use this as an opportunity to do things you’ve always wanted to do to better yourself. We all hit stumbling blocks every now and then. But it’s not those blocks that define us.  It’s how you get up and deal with the aftermath that matters.  I’m a survivor. I’m a fighter. I’m an innovator. I refuse to succumb to this “crisis”. That keeps me sane in a period of insanity. But remember, it’s not enough to just say the words. You have to believe them and take actions that are in line with the thoughts. There are opportunities all around you.  Just open your eyes and ears, and you’ll find them.

Good luck to us all. In the words of our new President, “Yes We Can“.  In the words of Adrienne Graham, “Yes We Did“.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Do you know what you are worth, professionally? How much should you be paid in dollars? What about non-monetary pay? Can you demonstrate your value to employers? What dollar value will the employer assign to you (if you let them)? What salary are you willing to accept in exchange for your time and expertise? A few of you probably think you are worth a lot; some either don’t know or don’t feel they are worth more than an employer is offering. After impressing upon the employer that you are the right person for the job, the bottom line becomes money- your labor in exchange for the employer’s cash and benefits. How, then, are you going to deal with these questions in order to get more than the employer may initially be willing to offer?

As a recruiter, salary negotiations are tough. I have the advantage of knowing what the salary range is and it is my job to get a person to accept within that range. It is very frustrating for me when I see someone clearly worth more than what is being offered or even asked for. I often counsel people to do some research before getting far into the interview process so nobody wastes time. I am a huge advocate for fairly paying someone for their talent and skills. It often saddens me to see people, most often women, accepting less just to get foot in the door or because they don’t know they can negotiate.

The salary question is awkward for many applicants who are reluctant to talk about money. They think one must take what is offered because salaries are set by employers. Such thinking is unfortunate, because it means many people are paid far less than what they could be getting if they knew some basic techniques for negotiating salaries. Most people are probably underpaid by $3000-$5000 because they don’t use negotiating techniques. In some cases, it is way more than that!

Demonstrate your value. Salaries are usually assigned to positions or jobs rather than to individuals through salary bands (or grades). But not everyone is of equal value or skillset; some are more productive than others, some are less. Since individual performance differs, you should attempt to establish your value in the eyes of the employer rather than accept a salary figure for the job. The art of salary negotiation will help you do this. Have a list of your verifiable accomplishments handy. Past performance appraisals, letters of commendation, reference letters, certifications, degrees, etc. are important tools in establishing credibility of your perceived value. If you feel you are worth a certain amount, be prepared to back it up.

Research, research, research. I can’t stress this enough. It is far too easy for you to get salary information with a few key strokes. Sites like Salary.com, Payscale.com and Vault.com make it easy to find comparable informations. Also use job sites such as Monster, Careerbuilder, Dice, 2 Figure Jobs, LatPro, etc, to find out what some jobs are offering. Now, a lot of companies won’t list a salary, but some will list a range. Take notes and compare across your industry and in the different regions. You should be able to come up with some good sound ranges of salaries.

Prepare for the money discussion well in advance. You should be well prepared to deal with the question of salary anytime during your job search, but especially during the job interview. If you’ve done your research, you should know the approximate salary range for the position you are seeking. You run the risk of doing yourself a great disservice if you fail to gather this information. You may price yourself too low or price yourself out of consideration. It is always best to be informed so you can be in better control to negotiate. And don’t be afraid to stick to your numbers. Only you know what your comfort level and lifestyle will allow you to compromise on. Keep an absolute minimum in the back of your mind to use as your boundary. No matter what, you will not go below this number.

Hold off on the salary discussion until the last minute. If at all possible, try to keep the salary question open until the last possible minute. As I mentioned earlier, typically, employers will assign a salary or salary range to a position rather than the individual. It’s not really about you or what they think you’re worth. Although they will generally have a range in mind, they still want to see where your head is at and what you would be willing to accept. By asking about salary preference in the beginning stages of the interview, employers are trying to screen out or eliminate candidates. When you are asked about salary, don’t respond with a specific amount. Give them a range that is acceptable to you. If you give them a set figure you have just eliminated your chances of negotiating a better salary. You should try to put off discussing salary at least until an offer is extended. Don’t appear too anxious. Get the employer to state a figure first. By doing this, you will be in a stronger negotiating position.

Questions to ask the employer. Questions attempt to establish the value for you as an individual versus a position. Seek clarification from the employer as to the actual job and all it involves. Emphasize the level of skills required in the most positive way as well as the value of the position to the company. Ask the employer what the normal range is in the company for a position such as the one you are interviewing for. This question establishes the value as well as the range for the position. Ask what the normal salary is for someone with your qualifications. This question further attempts to establish the value for the individual versus the position. This line of questioning attempts to yield the salary expectations of the employer without revealing your desired salary figure or range. It also should indicate whether the employer distinguishes between individuals and positions when establishing salary figures.

So stop leaving money on the table. If you’re still not comfortable negotiating salary, take a class and learn how to negotiate from a place of strength. EVERYTHING is negotiable. But timing is everything. If you play your hand too early, you ace yourself out of a strong negotiating position.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham