How to get a job without connections

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We thank for this piece, which appeared in the Courier-Post on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.



Networking is probably the number one way to get yourself a job if you are looking. Referrals account for nearly 40 percent of all hires — and referred employees often get jobs quicker and make more money out of the gate. But what if you don’t have anyone to refer you to a particular company or within a particular industry? If this is the case, then you’ll need to figure out how to get a job without connections. Luckily, we’ve got the right information to accomplish that.

Here are four steps to follow to help you get a referral even if you lack the relevant connections.


1. Find an influencer

Once you’ve determined there’s a job opening somewhere, find someone who has influence on the hiring process for that position. Search for the position you want and the company you want on a site like LinkedIn until you find your influencer.


2. Make contact

Find the contact information for that person and get in touch to set up a time to chat. This is just normal networking, remember? Keep it short, sweet and to the point.

Address the new contact by name, briefly explain that you’re interested in working in their company, but ask only for advice. Throw in some modest, subtle flattery to sweeten them up and politely request a quick coffee (your treat) to pick their brain. You can use “Quick question” as your subject line.

If you don’t get a reply, don’t badger them — and don’t worry. Just find yourself another influencer in the same company — or for a different job entirely, and try again. If or when you do get a meeting, make sure to do plenty of homework first. That means researching the company, the field, the contact, etc.


3. Prep your question

The absolute most important question you need to ask is this: “What is the biggest challenge your team is facing right now?” That question will make all the difference between awkward small talk and giving your new contact the opportunity to open up and talk about something that matters to him or her — and something that will be extremely informative and helpful to you. Dig in. Listen hard. And send a thoughtful thank-you note.


4. Strategize your solution 

You’ve heard from your influencer (and new contact) what their biggest challenge is. Now figure out their solution. Reach out, research, think inside and outside the box. Put yourself in their team’s shoes and consider things from every conceivable angle. Once you’ve got a great idea, make sure to test

it through all the possible hypotheticals you can come up with. Then craft a detailed and elegant proposal.

You’re going to send this proposal to your influencer.

Start a casual email, with an extra thank you for the coffee date, then say that you’ve been thinking about the conversation and mulling through their situation. Explain that you’ve come up with a proposal to help solve their problem.

It’s gutsy, of course, but if your idea is good — even if it isn’t perfect — it will show your value, and your influencer will most likely share it with his or her team.

If any or all of this goes your way, you’ll be able to follow up by inquiring about any open opportunities on this person’s team (knowing already that there is one). Best case scenario: instant referral. Worst case scenario: You’ve netted yourself a new contact or two.


Peter Jones is a career advice journalist for, where this article was originally published. He investigates and writes about current strategies, tips and trending topics related to all stages of one’s career.

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9 tips for a successful phone interview

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(Thank you to the Courier-Post for this. It appeared as an advertorial on Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017.  It contains vital information for jb seekers.



So you have followed all the best resume tips and land yourself a job interview. You’re prepared to interview, you’re just not prepared to do it on the phone.

Here are nine ways to adapt your interviewing strategy to the phone format, without losing your cool.

1. Be ready

Sometimes you’ll be notified to schedule. Sometimes the call will come straight out of the blue. If you’re not somewhere where it would be convenient or possible for you to chat, ask the interviewer if it would be possible to find a mutually suitable time. If not, don’t panic: You can do it. Once you’ve applied for a job — any job, make sure you start mentally preparing for the interview in case you find yourself thrown into one just by picking up the phone.

2. Be organized

Have a copy of the job description and whatever information you’ve gathered about the company at your fingertips before the call begins. While you’re at it, make sure to also have a copy of your resume and your application materials as well. Otherwise, the interviewer will be able to hear that frantic stalling and rustling around.

3. Be prepared

The phone interview is just like any other interview. You should be well versed in your answers to common interview questions, or questions you think will be likely to come up for that particular position.

The only difference is you’ll have to be charming without your knockout smile and friendly face. Try compensating with more vivid answers.

And cut the rambling and verbal fillers like “um,” which will stand out more over the phone.

4. Smile

Seriously. Not only can people hear the difference when someone is smiling over the phone, smiling will have a massive effect on your demeanor. You’ll sound much more upbeat and confident.

Keep a mirror by the phone if you need reminding.

5. Use the Internet

If it would be too complicated to explain something, or you want to be able to provide a visual, try directing your interviewer to your website, portfolio or LinkedIn page.

That way, you can talk them through it during your actual interview, narrating each accomplishment for them.

6. Be easygoing

Initial interviews, particularly over the phone, are not

the time to start making demands or asking very particular questions about personal time off, benefits packages or job duties. Make them want to talk to you again; hopefully that will score you a proper faceto- face interview where you can proceed with your usual interview protocol.

7. Be smooth

Just like in any other conversation, try and match the tone and speed and volume of your interviewer. Ask a friend to assess your telephone voice for you in advance and give you feedback.

8. Be firm

Don’t let your interviewer off the phone without scheduling another interview. Or the name and contact information of someone you can be in touch with at the company to follow up.

9. Say thank you 

Even though it’s a phone interview, the normal rules apply. That means a written thank-you, emailed or handwritten. Don’t be too pushy, but it’s always OK to subtly remind them of your strengths in your thank-you note.

Peter Jones is a career advice journalist for, where this article was originally published. He investigates and writes about current strategies, tips and trending topics related to all stages of one’s career.

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8 Red Flags employers see on your resume’

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Thank you to Jessie Liu from THEJOBNETWORK.COM for this. Jessie is a career advice journalist who investigates and writes about current strategies, tips and trending topics related to all stages of one’s career. Her entire article may be accessed via THEJOBNETWORK.COM. After reading the article, I ask these question:

  1. Why does your resume get recycled with the first five minutes?
  2. Is your resume too flashy?
  3. Is your email address NOT professional?
  4. Does your resume contain spelling and diagrammatic errors?
  5. Do you omit dates – causing suspicion?
  6. Is your information outdated?
  7. Have you changed jobs frequently?
  8. Do you use bullet points?

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Take advantage of the power of a great story

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From the National School Public Relations Association — of which I have been a long-time member — comes this information about story telling and its value:

  • Stories create trust
  • We pay more attention to a story
  • We connect stories to our own lives
  • Stories break down walls of misunderstanding
  • Stories help parents identify with a school’s challenges and solutions
  • Haring stories with your staff reinforces values and school culture.

Visit for much more information and the opportunity to become a member.

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Landing your next promotion

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These suggestions come from and Deanna Hartley

  • Start the conversation before even accepting a job
  • Have career-development discussions
  • Make the most of your performance review
  • Be prepared to show your expanding skills and value

Visit for details and many more suggestions.

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Making your resume ATS (applicant tracking system) – friendly

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BY MATT TARPEY (From the Courier-Post – Sunday, July 16, 2017)


When looking for candidates to potentially fill an open position, the majority of employers use something called an applicant tracking system (ATS) to find, collect, organize and screen all of the applications they receive. This means your resume will likely need to pass through an ATS before ever reaching human eyes.

Here are a few essential tips to make sure your resume is ATS-friendly.

Simplify contact information 

Many job seekers are so focused on the professional information included in their resumes that they overlook even more basic information – their contact info. When optimizing your resume for an ATS, make sure that the system will have no problem identifying your name, email address and phone number.

“Do not put your point of contact information in the headers – some…ATS software doesn’t know where to put this information when they convert the resume from the Word doc. (or PDF) into a ’text’ parsing into their database,” says Dawn Boyer, CEO of Boyer Consulting. “Many ATSs will simply dump the headerand footer because the system doesn’t know where to put header info. It also takes up way too much white space and page space on pages two and three (or four).”

Use keywords

ATSs are continually growing in sophistication, but keyword identification will always be an essential component.

Employers don’t have time to carefully read every single resume they receive, and keywords help them quickly identify resumes that deserve a closer look.

“Recruiters and hiring managers are busy and many rely on applicant tracking systems or databases to search through resumes based on Boolean searching,” says Sarah Connors, principal staffing manager at recruiting firm WinterWyman.

“You might think it’s obvious that as a salesperson you cold called companies, closed deals, followed up and so forth. However, if those tasks aren’t listed on your resume, companies might assume you haven’t done them. Moreover, you won’t come up in recruiters’ keyword searches.”

Wendi M. Weiner, an attorney, certified executive resume writer and career coach, suggests using the employer’s description of the open position to identify keywords you should be using.

“Look to the job posting and highlight the keywords that stand out and include those keywords in your resume,” says Weiner. “At the same time, avoid keyword stuffing, which means just throwing in as many keywords as possible, including ones that maynot match your skill set.”

Use simple formatting

While you might think that a unique or unusual resume layout will help it stand out from the pack, it may actually make your resume more difficult for an ATS to make sense of, and hurt your chances of getting hired.

“Applicant tracking systems cannot decipher graphs,

charts, columns or even text boxes. Therefore, make sure your resume does not contain those items,” says Weiner.

Use a standard font

Even the font you choose can impact the ATS’s ability to read your resume, so stick with a very basic, standard font.

“Use one font throughout the resume – preferably a font that easily converts to text in the parsing process,” says Boyer. “I recommend Arial or Times New Roman, but as a recruiter, my preference is Arial on the original resume.”

“Plainer [font] eliminates issues with the parsing engine and makes it easier for the recruiter to read the important parts without the visual interference,” adds Boyer.

Complete the application 

Some online application processes require you to manually enter some information that may also appear on your resume. While this may seem unnecessary or redundant, do not skip over these steps.

“When filling out online applications, make sure to complete all portions of online submission forms,” says Valerie Streif, senior advisor at The Mentat. “Answer all the filtering questions thoroughly and don’t leave anything blank. The ATS could automatically eliminate resumes that leave portions of the forms blank, guaranteeing that your resume won’t be seen by any live human.”

Matt Tarpey is a writer for the Advice & Resources section on He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

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Recovering from a bad interview

[To comment:]’s Sarah Sipek writes in detail about interview follow-ups.  Look for the entire article online or visit the Courier-Post Sunday, July 9 edition, page 16 C. In addition, contains many “handouts” on resumes and interview techniques.

Here are Sipek’s key points:

  • Send a thank-you note
  • Ask for a second chance
  • Don’t grovel
  • Reflect
  • Conduct mock interviews (practice practice practice

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6 Tips to help you get promoted

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Dale Carnegie Training Newsletter

By Anita Zinsmeister, President
Dale Carnegie® Training of Central & Southern New Jersey 

  • Word count for this issue: 589
  • Approximate time to read: 2.4 minutes @ 250 words per minute  16 Mistakes Employees Make When Trying To Get A Promotion.          
  • Executive Summary:  Transitioning into a management position is never a simple process; however, the right approach will make a move more likely.  Educate yourself on what makes an effective leader by studying the habits of leaders you respect or enrolling in management training.  Fuse theoretical knowledge with applied skills by taking the initiative to demonstrate that you have the capacity to adequately fill a management position. 
  • 6.  Ask The Right Questions – Thinking like a manager means asking questions like a manager.  Focus on the aspects related to improving processes.  Asking questions designed to improve cost management, accomplishing tasks more efficiently, and meeting clients’ needs more effectively will demonstrate that you are serious about taking initiative.  To truly reinforce to others your desire to be a leader, have solutions to your proposed questions in mind.
  • 5.  Take The Initiative – The very best managers are the ones that are proactive.  These people don’t wait for things to come to them; instead, they take charge.  Come time for your quarterly or yearly review, ask your supervisor what steps you need to take to obtain a position in management.  Be sure to keep an eye on job postings at your company and recently vacant positions so that you may be in a position to seize upcoming opportunities.
  • 4.  Communicate Effectively – The cornerstone of being an effective professional at any level is the ability to communicate effectively. Understanding how others will interpret and react to issues that come up is a fundamental component that strong managers should always be aware of.  You must be able to communicate, respect, encourage and establish rapport with others to demonstrate that you have the capacity for leadership.
  • 3.  Do Your Job And Do It Well – If you are looking for a promotion at your current place of employment, you will want to excel in your current position. This, however, does not mean that you need to be the best at what you do (in fact, often, top performers are not always the best leaders).  Instead, focus on the leadership qualities of your job and ensure that you are a premier team player.
  • 2.  Enroll In Leadership Training Programs – Either as a supplement to or in conjunction with observing the habits of effective leaders, consider taking a course in leadership training.  A quick look through a search engine will turn up a wealth of results.  Be sure to perform your due diligence and ensure that the training you look into is highly rated.   
  • 1.  Study The Habits Of Quality Leaders – Truly, the best method for gaining an understanding of what people in management positions do is to observe people in those positions.  Study the techniques and habits of the managers whom you find effective.  Focus on how they interact with employees and how they encourage professional growth.
  • 6 Tips For Landing Your Next Promotion:
  • Click Here To Read Forbes’ Article

  • A promotion to management can signal a major milestone in any career.  While this is no simple task, there are a number of steps you can take to put yourself in a position to achieve this goal.  We have gathered six time-tested tips that can help you achieve the success you desire.


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Looking for a job? Stay positive and productive

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From’s Lily Martis comes this:

Whether you left a job because you hated it or you left because you were let go, it is tough to be in between jobs.

These important productive steps should help you return to the workplace:

  • Stick to a schedule
  • Tap professional resources
  • Set specific goals
  • Develop new skills

Read Martis’ entire column in the May 21, 2017 edition of the Courier-Post or on

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