Today I had a chat with the popular career blogger and speaker Tim Tyrell-Smith. He shared his insights on interviews, social media for job seekers and how to network like mad to get results.
What is your day job Tim?
My current daytime role is vice president of marketing for a food company located just north of San Diego, CA
What is your background?
I have been a marketing guy my whole career specializing in product and brand management. I started my career with Nestle and continued with smaller, more entrepreneurial companies in the food, computer and automotive industries. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area (California, USA), got an undergraduate degree in English and then completed an MBA a few years later. I now live in Mission Viejo, CA with my wife and three kids.
Tell us about your blog Tim’s Strategy?
I started Tim’s Strategy (originally called spin strategy) in September, 2008. It was about 7 months after completing my own job search. I have always loved to write and combined that with my desire to give back to the local community. So I started sharing my strategy and ideas to help others through their own journey. I brought to life and shared the tools and templates I used to prepare me for interviews. Or to otherwise get my search organized and efficient. Those are all available on the free downloads page. I also have a career expert directory and my Watchlyst (a tool to keep track of the needs of my network). And much more on the way!
What’s the Tru Focus resumes and cover letters?
I launched the TruFocus templates a few weeks ago because I saw so many people struggling with their resume and CV format. Too many pages, poorly written accomplishments and no key data in the top 1/3 of page one. The original resume template post includes a tutorial to walk you through each section. A few weeks later, readers started asking about the cover letter. While I am not a big fan of cover letters (they often are not read and can be a negative if poorly written), I wrote a similar post and template. And I freely share my versions of both templates with anyone who asks.
How important are resumes and cover letters?
They are becoming increasingly less important with the growth of social media and networking. But they are still (at least in the US) a required document asked for by everyone in the hiring process. More and more, job seekers are being found on LinkedIn, XING and other social media sites in advance of the job seeker applying for a job. So since you need one, it is crucial that they quickly get your relevant experience, strengths and accomplishments across to the hiring manager.
Should job seekers rely on recruiters or go it alone?
Recruiters should be a part of the job search strategy, yes. But relying too much on recruiters or any other resource is a poor choice. It is said that recruiters represent only 8-12% of the available jobs. The percentage is higher at the executive level. My strategy: get your resume or CV in front of them, follow-up from time to time and then wait. If a new search matches your experience, they will call you. Any more communication and you risk becoming a nuisance.
What are you top 3 interviewing tips?
1. Be yourself. If someone hires the real you, it will likely make for a successful job for years to come. If you try to be someone else to get the job, you may find yourself unhappy in the job or out on the street looking for another role sooner than you’d like.
2. Tell great stories. Everyone likes a great story. Full of rich details, passion and energy. With good stories, you capture the attention of the interview team and give them a good reason to support your candidacy.
3. Be prepared. That way you can walk into the interview room relaxed and ready. Ready to discuss your relevant experience. Prepared to talk with specifics about the challenges your target company is facing in the market. And confident enough to deliver a strong first impression. With a smile.
Where should a job seeker be seen online?
The answer is “everywhere”. And I’m afraid that if you are nervous about your personal information being online, you need to change your way of thinking. You should have a profile on LinkedIn, Monster, Google, Facebook, Twitter and other relevant sites in your part of the world or industry. And include a nice, professional looking picture. It is absolutely essential that you be visible and with a strong, well-written summary, key strengths and work history. People are being found online now more than ever.
Is social media a big waste of time?
Sounds like a trick question… Of course not! But like any other activity in job search, it needs to be managed. Four hours on Twitter or Facebook can go by very quickly. And can be very ineffective if not done as part of a plan. You can use social media to build new relationships with target companies, recruiters, career coaches and even us friendly bloggers. It is a big part of the way networking happens today. And can be a great way to build on a relationship from a networking event.
What is the biggest tip you would give to job seekers today?
Get out of the house and network like crazy. Anywhere from 60-70 percent of the job leads are first found while networking. And many of the people you meet can provide introductions to key employees at a target company. Much better than hoping that your resume will catch the employer’s eye on its own. At least half of the job seekers I meet with each week are not networking enough. Instead they are relying upon old methods (resume blasting and job boards). They are wasting valuable time.
What is one thing people can do for you?
You know I really appreciate a referral. If someone likes what I write or has success with a template, tool or e-book I’ve created, sharing with others is greatly appreciated.
What has Tim got in the pipeline?
I am really excited about what is coming next for Tim’s Strategy. First, I am days away from the launch of a brand new logo and website re-design. Second, I have a number of really fun speaking events coming up here in Southern California. And third, I just launched my third e-book (this one on the benefit of taking action on your ideas). Further down the road I hope to get a book published the old-fashioned way and to move aggressively into digital media to deliver my ideas (podcasts and videos).
Final word of wisdom?
Since you can’t reasonably look for a job 12 hours a day, I’d love to encourage everyone to find time for two things during transition. First, help others. And, in so doing, build a lifelong network. One that cares about you and will be there when you need them. Second, take advantage of this period of your life. Spend quality time with family and friends. Tackle a few big projects in life (run a marathon, learn to play guitar, write that novel). And, if you have one, pursue a dream.
Be sure to check out our follow-up interview with Tim: Looking for a new job? Get out of the house!
Tim Tyrell-Smith is the founder of Tim’s Strategy: Ideas for Job Search Career and Life, a fast growing blog and website. Tim is also the author of: 30 Ideas. The Ideas of Successful Job Search. Download the book and other free tools at @TimsStrategy