3 Awesome (Free) Tools Every Job Seeker Should Use

June 17, 2015
Note: This post is the fifth in a (#JobSeekerseries that I am publishing to help those who are seeking their dream job. There are several tips that I feel incrementally increase your chance of being hired. These tips require hard work to implement, but the "sweat equity" will pay dividends when you land the job you have been coveting.

3 Awesome (Free) Tools Every Job Seeker Should Use

While there are hundreds of websites that offer tools and advice for job seekers and those looking to advance their careers, everyone has different priorities and needs. That said, I don’t want to spend time telling you about job aggregators on sites likeTheLadders.com, Indeed.com, Monster.com,  CareerBuilder.com, and SimplyHired.com. Those sites are packed with free advice about job search basics. Instead, I want to tell you about the these (free, with paid upgrade options) tools that give you “superpowers” when pursuing leads and networking:

Sidekick by Hubspot (referral link)

When sending an email to someone you don’t know, it’s likely they receive numerous emails per day, including other cold emails like yours. Wouldn’t it be nice to know where and when a prospective employer opened your email and clicked on links, which may indicate if there’s even a slight interest in what you had to say? It’s especially helpful, after you took the time to write a well-crafted message, to know that someone on the other end is reading your note. (Need help writing a compelling email that hits every bullet point? Check out this simple framework.)

Sidekick sends live notifications when someone opens or clicks on your emails. This tracking tool lets you when, how many times, where, and from what device they opened your email. You can also schedule an email to be sent later, so you can make sure it arrives in your recipient’s inbox at a specific time. This allows you to follow up in a productive way if you get no reply. Of course, when you follow up with the prospective employer, it may be best to not indicate that you know that they read your email. Keep that intelligence to yourself, but use it to your advantage when asking for an opportunity to meet in person. 

Crystal 

Cold emailing a prospective employer can help you get a foot in the door, but it can be a challenge to know the recipient's preferred communication style. Should you utilize a short, casual approach or a formal greeting and closing? Crystal knows!

Crystal aggregates online data about your email recipient, and provides you with suggestions for your email exchange. Examples: State your purpose for the email in the first sentence; Don’t use a formal greeting and closing; Use an emoticon :)



Haha - "might seem aloof at times".

Calendly

Everyone hates the back-and-forth emails trying to nail down a time for a quick call or meeting. Calendly is a simple scheduling tool that exposes your Google calendar for the recipient to select an open day and time that works best for their schedule based on your availability. You can put parameters in place to ensure you do not have meetings booked right next to each other, or after hours.

Calendly makes it simple for recruiters or prospective employers to connect or schedule an interview with you. Instead of signing off with “I look forward to hearing from you,” you can share a Calendly link, which puts the ball in their court to initiate a conversation. 

Bonus: Reputation management tools

I wrote about how important it is for a job seeker to build a strong digital footprint. Potential employers are going to Google you to see what they find. Are you best represented by the links on the first few pages of search results?  If not, you'll want to add content that will enable you to push down undesirable search results. In addition to having "YourName.com", you can utilize tools like About.me, Flavors.meBrandYourself.com and Vizibility.com make it easy to develop content about you.

Utilizing these tips will help you get an edge in the job search. What other tools have you found useful?

Best,
Joe
 

Campaigning for your Dream Job

June 4, 2015
Note: This post is the fourth in a series that I am publishing to help those who are seeking their dream job. There are several tips that I feel incrementally increase your chance of being hired. These tips require hard work to implement, but the "sweat equity" will pay dividends when you land the job you have been coveting.

Campaigning for your Dream Job

You’ve tried to contact your dream employer for months; you sent LinkedIn requests and emails, reached out to the C-Suite, sent your portfolio to a few employees in the right department, and maybe even landed a meeting or two, but none of these encounters led to a job offer. By now, you’re ready to move on, because you’ve tried everything, right? But have you actually done EVERYTHING you can? (Be honest, probably not.)

Chances are, you’ve used the same tactics as many others, but haven’t tried any new approaches. If this describes your efforts, it might be time to consider campaigning for your dream job.

Though it may sound extreme, job-seeker Nina Mufleh created a stunning website resume that mimicked that of her dream employer, Airbnb:



Her creative website not only highlights Airbnb’s much-needed growth in Middle Eastern countries, but it also illustrates the depth of her travel industry knowledge, and shows how badly she wants the position. Notice that Nina’s web-resume doesn’t focus on her past experiences that anyone could have easily found on LinkedIn, but instead showcases opportunities that she believes the company should pursue, thus, illustrating her future contributions to Airbnb’s success.



Here is another story from a few years back from a young man who used a "full court press" effort to win a position with his dream employer: Hire Me HeadBlade

Try getting creative, if you really want to land your dream job. What other creative job winning efforts have you encountered?

Best,
Joe
 

3 Tips For Building A Strong Online Personal Brand and Footprint

May 29, 2015
Note: This post is the third in a series that I am publishing to help those who are seeking their dream job. There are several tips that I feel incrementally increase your chance of being hired. These tips require hard work to implement, but the "sweat equity" will pay dividends when you land the job you have been coveting.

3 Tips For Building A Strong Online Personal Brand and Footprint

Everyday more and more recruiters are leveraging the web and social media to source new talent. A strong online presence could be a deciding factor for a position you’ve applied for, or a position you don’t even know exists. Building an online personal brand is more important than ever, so it is crucial to not let others define you. Are you taking charge of guiding and cultivating your personal brand perception? Are you emphasizing your subject matter expertise and your glowing personality? When the potential employer Googles you, what will they find? I am not suggesting that you should "be a robot" (in fact authenticity is key), but you also should not be embarrassed about what your new potential boss might find. Be yourself, but with purpose. 



Here are some tips for building your online footprint:

  1. Secure a personal blog or website to show off your career, thoughts, and perhaps even feature your visual resume. Your personal website gives potential employers a way to develop a stronger connection with you, while also building your profile in search engine rankings. This site can be used to illustrate what your current projects, personality, and skills you would offer a potential employer. You no longer need to be able to write code to put together a beautiful website. There are inexpensive templates available on sites like WordPress, Squarespace, Yola, and Wix, that can make you look professional.
  2. Audit your online presence. Google yourself and if you are not thrilled with what you find, you can try to clean up your social media profiles yourself, or employ a service like Reputation.com to help., see what comes up. Don't just delete accounts or change the privacy settings without thinking through the implications. You want to leave enough of a "digital footprint" so that you can be found online and also to help crowd out other search results that may be even worse.
  3. Be purposeful with what you share. People do not realize that content published on the web rarely is there temporarily. Every tweet and status update contributes to your online presence. Once you’ve honed your desired personal brand, you can become more strategic about your posts and online affiliations. Associate yourself with groups and websites that contribute to your desired persona. For example, I have been involved on the board level with many organizations about which I care and also provide me with a positive digital footprint including: AIMA, AMA Atlanta, ChooseATL, the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business and several non-profits. Find and leverage other strong brands to uncover hidden opportunities. Submit a guest op-ed on a company or interest group blog, or respond with thoughtful comments to someone else’s opinions.
What other tips would you share with those looking to build a stronger online footprint for potential employers?

Best,
Joe

 

Honing interviewing skills

May 19, 2015

Note: This post is the second in a series that I am publishing to help those who are seeking their dream job. There are several tips that I feel incrementally increase your chance of being hired. These tips require hard work to implement, but the "sweat equity" will pay dividends when you land the job you have been coveting. Getting a call for your first interview is half the battle in the job hunting process, but that phone call is only the beginning of a new phase of the search. Interviewing for a job entails a lot of work: research, careful consideration, practice, and preparation, because you've put in the hours and effort to reach that first interview, you don't want to blow your chances!


Below are some practice tips and activities that will help you sharpen your own skills and nail that pre-screening telephone call with a recruiter, or (if you're going for the whole enchilada,) the one-on-one, suit-and-tie, in-person interview.


"The only purpose of your resume and of interviewing is to be memorable, so go in and tell your story, and connect yourself to the job and their company." - Bernice Kao


Preparing Before The Interview

  1. Do your homework and research the organization to better understand their wants and needs and their industry. Investigate and identify the most commonly sought-after industry traits (analytical skills, communication skills, business knowledge and problem solving.) Don't just stop at surface information - also use resources like trade publications and Glass Door to get the inside scoop.


  1. Prepare a list of likely questions that most recruiters are likely to ask. To practice competency-based interview questions, use the STAR method. Other common questions about your background are not  an invitation to recite your entire life story or your resume; instead, use the Present-Past-Future Formula.


  1. Try a mock interview, or an informational interview. Videotape a 30-minute interview with someone you know or trust to give you a constructive review of your performance. Lots of recruiters enjoy informational interviews with young professionals who are interested in learning more about working in a specific industry or at a specific company. Both of these types of interviews aren't an excuse to slack because "it's practice." Make sure you're just as prepared as you would be for the real thing.


  1. Stay confident - try one of these strategies to help you feel calm, cool, and collected, or at least make you appear that way.


The Interview


  1. Dress in appropriate attire. When in doubt, overdress, never dress down!

  2. Greet the interviewer with an enthusiastic handshake and smile.

  3. Listen to the questions asked. Make sure you know what the interviewer wants you to know, and ask for clarification if the question does not make sense to you.

  4. Keep your answers concise and to the point, preferably 2-3 minutes long, each.


You are there to ask questions, too. Use this as an opportunity to determine the organization is a good fit for you. Here are some examples of the right questions to ask an employer during your interview. Good luck and happy interviewing!

 Best,
Joe
 

Inspiring Resume Designs That Will Get You An Interview

May 9, 2015

Note: This post is the first in a series that I am publishing to help those who are seeking their dream job. There are several tips that I feel incrementally increase your chance of being hired. These tips require hard work to implement, but the "sweat equity" will pay dividends when you land the job you have been coveting.


Inspiring Resume Designs That Will Get You An Interview

Recruiters spend an average of just six seconds reviewing an individual resume before deciding if the candidate is worth calling for an interview. With such a limited time, you have to make your first impression count. Traditional resumes are typically a laundry list of past jobs, but they rarely tell the story about what the candidate COULD do for the potential employer. In the highly competitive job market, a visual representation of competency and experience told in a creatively stimulating format can make all the difference in getting noticed. Also the format lends itself well to telling a clear story about the potential benefits of the candidate. Several friends looking for new employment have taken my advice to create a visual (infographic) version of their resume with great success. In just the last few months, two of my friends have landed their dream jobs, and I have to think their infographic resume contributed. Here is a great example from a friend of mine:

(By the way, Jonathan landed a fantastic job as Vice President, Marketing Integration at Boys & Girls Clubs of America. This resume could not have hurt his chances!) Ditch the tired resume cliches and qualitative descriptions that have unsupported claims of greatness. A better route to take is giving specific (preferably quantifiable) accounts of what you’ve done that makes you a [insert generic hyperbole here].


The best way to describe your accomplishments is by creating a visually-appealing layout that makes it easy for hiring managers and recruiters to easily scan for the information that matters most. Your "resugraphic" will certainly set you apart from other candidates. Here are some tools that can help:

Creative Resume Examples:

30 Creative Resume Designs for Inspiration

30 Great Examples of Creative CV/Resume Design

50 Awesome Resumes: Why Good Design Will Get You Hired


Creative Resume Builders:

Piktochart

Easel.ly

Canva


It also may be worth the few hundred bucks it will cost to hire a graphic designer to help you.

As a bonus tip, here are some words you should avoid and use on your resume.
 
Please share your story about how a visual or infographic resume helped you land your dream job.

Best,
Joe

 

Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association - Personal Branding event

May 8, 2015


Wednesday morning I had the pleasure of serving on a panel discussion moderated by the infinitely talented UGA Digital Marketing professor and fellow AIMA board member - Jennifer Osbon. Joining us were long time friends Teresa Caro, Brian Rudolph
, and Adam Naide. It was a lively discussion about the power of personal brand as it applies to both the physical and digital worlds.

Here is a picture of the entire panel:


Here is the Storify that I put together to capture many of the Tweets that happened live at the event:


For those of you who attended, I hope you really enjoyed the lively discussion!

Best,
Joe

 

Featured on the Leaders in the Trenches blog

April 21, 2015
My friend Gene Hammett runs the fantastic site: LeadersInTheTrenches.com.



When he asked me to talk to him about how to hire a great sales person, I was excited to talk about the years of marketing and sales experience that lead me to founding AgencySparks. I have insight into what works and what does not, with regards to sales talent.

Please check out the podcast to learn more about what I shared with Gene:

http://leadersinthetrenches.com/148-hiring-and-managing-sales-rep-series-2-of-3-with-joe-koufman/

Best,
Joe

 

Judging the American Marketing Association - Atlanta - AMY Awards

March 16, 2015
(Fantastic logo designed by AgencySparks partner agency - Brand Fever)

I was so honored to be asked to serve as a judge for this year's AMY Awards, which was the 58th annual gala hosted by the American Marketing Association's Atlanta Chapter. The other judges that joined me included:
Here was the "behind the scenes" video of the judging day:


The actual event was a fabulous affair hosted by AMA Atlanta president Liz Ward, event organizer Dawn Hill, and master-of-ceremonies - Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO - William Pate. The guest of honor was Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and retiring CMO of Chick-fil-A - Steve Robinson, who gave a passionate speech thanking all of those who helped facilitate his 34 successful years leading marketing there.

Thanks to all who helped me celebrate the best and brightest marketing talent in the southeast!

Best,
Joe

This blog post originally appeared on JoeKoufman.com
 

AgencySparks' First Anniversary TODAY!

February 2, 2015
Today is the official first anniversary of the incorporation of AgencySparks!

To celebrate, we have launched a shiny new website:



Please check it out at AgencySparks.com and we would love to get your feedback!

Here is the blog post I wrote last week celebrating some of the highs and lows from the first year.

Special thanks go Lindsay and Ben at Bright Fox Agency for helping us with our new brand, logo, business cards, infographics, collateral materials, and website!

Thank you again for your support in making AgencySparks a special company.

Best,
Joe


 

One Year with AgencySparks!

January 27, 2015
It is so hard to believe that it has been a year since I founded AgencySparks! Here is the blog post that I wrote in February 2, 2014 announcing the company launch.



I have learned so much in the last year!

Here are a few insights:


1. Being an entrepreneur is hard work. Someone asked me early on what is was like not having a boss anymore. My response was quick: now I have many bosses (the agencies with which we work) vs. just one. Also being counted on by others for their paychecks is a great responsibility.

2. Building a team and culture is highly rewarding. I am lucky to have assembled a fantastic team in Stephanie, Katia, and Anastasia.

3. In November of 2014 I highlighted some of the exciting things that happened for AgencySparks in the first year, but we also had to deal with collections problems, lackluster results, challenging personalities, and other issues. Running a business is full of highs and lows.

Here are some of the statistics from the past year:
This year I am putting together an advisory board and pursuing membership in the Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) Accelerator program to help propel AgencySparks to the next level.

I so appreciate all of your kind words and support. This has been an amazing journey so far, and I am looking forward to an exciting year two for AgencySparks!

Best,
Joe
 

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