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  Wednesday, 12 Nov 2008 | 9:58 AM ET

Employers: Why You Should Be Part Of Online Networking

Posted By: Won Kim

At a recent conference in San Francisco that gathered the who’s who of social online media, blogger extraordinaire Arianna Huffington stated that Barack Obama would not have won the election if it weren’t for the Internet.

Many have stated that it was Obama’s ability to utilize networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube that gave the new President-elect a leg-up on the competition.

If online networking is so important and obviously successful, this question has to be asked—why aren’t you networking online? Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn claim that currently 49 percent of its growing 27 million registered users are decision makers. In other words, online networking is a growing tool for top executives, so to abstain from it is at your peril.

In case you haven’t walked around the cubicles of your company lately, the minimized screen on most of your employees’ computer monitor is most likely Facebook or some other networking site. Yes, it’s hard to keep up with the growing list of networking sites these days. From LinkedIn to Facebook to Myspace to microblogging network sites such as Twitter and Tumblr, there are endless choices out there. And if you don’t know what microblogging is, well, let’s just say you’re the last person to arrive to the Web 2.0 dance.

Maybe that’s why you’re hesitant to join—because your employees are using these social/professional network sites or you feel late to the game. The last thing you want is your teenage daughter wondering why in the world you showed up on her turf.

Sure, there are reasons why you don’t want to join the online networking movement, but the reasons why you need to join are even more persuasive. Here are a few:

1. It’s a viable and growing market. Half of the top 10 visited sites in the world are social networking sites. It is a market you have to be aware of.

2. Your employees live on it. Unless your company has blocked all the popular network sites, someone right now in your company is surfing on one. (Note: even if your company has blocked all the sites, there are various ways to get around that. Just ask your IT guy who just logged onto his Myspace account).

3. Learn from the brightest. Some of the smartest and youngest talent are creating this Web 2.0 phenomenon. What they lack in venerability, they make up for with innovativeness and ingenuity. The dialogue surrounding the technology world is worth delving into.

4. Actual money is being made here. It’s one thing to just speculate about the value of a social network site, but when real money is being put on the table ears perk up. Whether it’s through site members paying for premium service to advertisements sold on these high-trafficked sites to large companies buying these startups, astronomical amounts of cash is being transacted. More than waving off social networking as a trend for Generation Y, you should be asking, “How can my company get in on the action?”

5. Be part of the conversation. No executive should ever step into a meeting or walk by a water cooler conversation and have absolutely no idea what someone is talking about on a relevant subject matter. Not having something to say about NBC’s hit show "The Office" is forgivable, but when you have no clue what a “podcast” is, that only indicates a widening gap between you and the rest of the web world.

    • Career Expert Offers 10 Must-Do Strategies for Today's Professionals

6. Be part of the talent. Even in this economic downturn, professional networking sites such as LinkedIn has seen an increase in activity and sign-ups. As mentioned before, LinkedIn claims that out of its 27 million registered users, 49 percent are decision makers. In addition, the average household income is $110,000 and the average age is 41. It’s a recruiter’s goldmine for top executive talent, and unless you can predict you’re career future, you need to keep your networking lines open.

If you’re still cautious, it may serve you best to do a little homework by visiting the “About Us” sections on these sites or even asking your teenage daughter for some insight. If all you’re looking for is to network online exclusively with other senior executives, do not fret, there’s even one of those (www.meettheboss.com ).

________________________________

Won Kim is an editor at Vault. He graduated from Rutgers University and is an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan.

Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com

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  Tuesday, 11 Nov 2008 | 9:33 AM ET

Workplace Feedback: How To Make It "Work" For You

‘Tis the season for performance feedback discussions.

If you work for a larger company, you may even get 360 degree feedback (feedback from your boss, your peers, and your team) which is a very helpful process and a great way to take those blinders off and clearly see how others identify your strengths and your weaknesses (the more gentle term is “areas for improvement”).

Since perception is reality, you have to be savvy enough to harness this information and create a plan to strengthen your weaknesses, as you will no doubt grow as a manager and leader.

So here are some guidelines to follow when receiving feedback, and how to progress forward:

1. Schedule your performance discussion to ensure you have plenty of time before and after the meeting. This time is valuable and you need to digest all you’ll hear, so keep your calendar free before and especially after as you don’t want to have to rush off to another meeting.

2. Listen to your manager with the emphasis on “listen”. Never get defensive, no matter what is said, and allow your manager to complete his/her sentences before you comment.

3. Make sure you participate, as this is a discussion. If the feedback rings true, tell you manager that you’d like to think about a development plan, and welcome any suggestions he/she may have. If you vehemently disagree, it’s ok to say you disagree (in a calm and professional tone), but use specific examples to back up your points, versus purely emotional responses.

4. Relax … if you’ve had a tough feedback session, it is not the end of the world. It’s actually a really good opportunity to evaluate what you’ve heard, and decide on next steps. It’s often helpful to share this information with a trusted friend, or a coach if you are lucky enough to have one, as they can offer more objective advice.

5. Proactively own your development plan. Identify actionable steps to improving your areas of weakness and determine a method for updating your boss on your progress. Perhaps you can speak to someone in Learning and Development, as there are plenty of on-line courses (or live courses if budgets haven’t been slashed as yet). In addition, there are personal growth books on every topic under the sun, so read away. You could also spend time with a mentor and get their opinion for how to strengthen any perceived weaknesses.

________________________________

Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio is a career coach and co-founder of SixFigureStart and has worked for the bluest of blue chips for the past 25 years. Her companies include Citigroup, Pfizer, and most recently as the COO of Campus Recruiting for Merrill Lynch. Connie also co-authors a career blog for Vault.com.

Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com

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  Monday, 10 Nov 2008 | 10:45 AM ET

There is NO Crying In Baseball--Or Downsizing!

Posted By: Erik Sorenson

Tough times are getting tougher. Almost no business is immune. When Google cuts back on free food and Goldman Sachs has to cut its work force and Warren Buffett watches profits drop 77%, it’s a safe bet that we are all in for a world of hurt.

As revenues for most U.S. companies drop and buyers cut back on spending, the vicious cycle is bound to hit your company sooner or later. And, I’m afraid to say, probably more than once over the next couple quarters.

While it’s certainly not pleasant and nobody’s idea of fun, facts are facts and reality must be confronted. While execs have to do the dirty work of cutting costs and reducing headcount, we are not, by any means, immune from scrutiny - and should be concerned about our own job security and income in times such as these. As an exec who’s been through this at least once or twice a decade for the past 30 years, please accept some advice on how to weather (and maybe even survive) the onslaught.

There is no crying in Baseball (and Downsizing)
While it’s certainly valuable to be compassionate and empathetic regarding people in this equation, it’s very important to be part of the solution, not part of the problem right now. Your boss (and boss’s boss, depending on where you are in the pecking order) doesn’t enjoy this kind of business moment any more than you do, so resisting or complaining or arguing about the reality and the options is not helpful. In fact, it’s often a way to get yourself up on the chopping block. The first couple percentage points of cuts are often relatively easy to identify and agree on, but after that it becomes very tough.

It’s one Hobson’s Choice after another. And almost every decision you recommend works to make your job more difficult going forward. The temptation to argue against the cut is acute. Many execs find themselves suggesting that some other division or department in the firm should bear the weight of a requested cut. Another temptation is to offer to make a large percentage of a requested cut, but not quite the whole number.

Since it’s usually a zero-sum game and the boss has already considered a range of options before handing down cost-cut goals, resistance is generally a bad idea. In fact, if there is a way to offer up more reductions in your area of responsibility that will usually be appreciated, since surely one of your colleagues is trying to wiggle out of his or her responsibilities. I’m not suggesting you be irresponsible in terms of not properly husbanding necessary resources to achieve your unit’s goals, but your performance in this kind of period will be judged on how quietly you went about your required duties.

On the flip side, take positive action. If there is something you can make more efficient, do it. If you can create a savings by partnering with another company or another unit within your company, do it. Keep moving forward, even while implementing downsizing requests from HQ.

Let me leave you with three concrete suggestions for succeeding in this environment:

• Maintain a positive, proactive demeanor

• Demonstrate added value by assuming increased levels of responsibility

• Recommend/implement actions that streamline ops & reduce costs

All ideas are welcome, so let’s hear them.

________________________________

Erik Sorenson is chief executive officer of Vault.com, Inc. Mr. Sorenson, 52, oversees the strategic direction of the global, New York-based media company. He is widely regarded as an expert on media strategy and industry trends, with experience spanning radio, local and network broadcast television, cable and syndicated TV, and the Internet. From 1998 through 2004, Mr. Sorenson served as president of the MSNBC cable news channel. He has won more than twenty Emmy awards as a writer, producer, and television executive.

Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com

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  Wednesday, 5 Nov 2008 | 11:42 AM ET

Optimistic Jobseekers "Electing" A Come Back?

Posted By: Anu Rao

"The American, by nature, is optimistic. He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly."

--John F. Kennedy

Does Barack Obama’s convincing win trumpet the resurgence of the "Optimistic American" and by extension, the "Optimistic Jobseeker"?

Regardless of what they may think of our governmental policies, when foreigners describe “average” Americans, they frequently remark upon our determined positivity. In fact, to the outsider, American rosiness can seem rather naïve, a bit forced and not infrequently annoying, like the 1913 children’s book heroine Pollyanna, who greets every setback with a nauseating buoyancy she calls “playing the Glad Game.”

But American optimism is the real backbone of our economy. We are a legion of entrepreneurs, originators, innovators, researchers, discoverers, bettors, experimenters. In our national myth, it’s “Go big or go home,” and there is no shame in failure. As evidenced by our attitudes toward saving and spending, our debt and credit reliance is interlaced with our confidence.

If we can’t quite afford the mortgage on that three-bedroom we just bought, surely we will be able to by next year. Promotions come through. Stock portfolios rise. The heedlessly uninsured do not break their legs, and hurricanes don’t hit the same state, let alone the same house, two years in a row. American society is not comfortable with fear, pessimism or “negativity” as a prolonged state. What our foreign critics deplore—that we avert our eyes from the unpleasant —is in times of crisis, this society’s self-protection.

That said, in the face of war, market meltdowns, foreclosures, job insecurities and a looming recession, one would expect a severe waning of the hopeful self-assurance we hold so close to our national identity. Quite surprisingly, no.

An October 2008 poll by Pew Research Center found that while only 11 percent of Americans are actually satisfied with the current state of the union, the majority are expectant that things will get better. Notes Andrew Kohut, who directed the research: "There is no evidence that fundamental American optimism has eroded in the face of the financial crisis. Even after a week of some of the largest stock market declines since the Great Depression, 64 percent of the public say that 'as Americans, we can always find ways to solve our problems and get what we want.' That is up from 59 percent since December 2004, shortly after the last presidential election.”

The Pew survey further notes, "There is little indication that the nation's financial crisis has triggered public panic or despair." Indeed, 56 percent of the respondents believe the federal government can patch up the economy, while 59 percent expect their finances to improve over the next year.

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  • Count jobseekers among the hopeful masses. When career network Beyond.com polled more than 38,000 professionals earlier this year, 86 percent believed that the outcome of this election will improve both the economy and job market. An October poll found that 53 percent of those looking for a new job planned to vote for Barack Obama. Unlike many national polls, the jobseeker survey wasn’t even close; only 33 percent of participants said that they were voting for Senator John McCain. (This is in marked contrast to the results of a poll gauging the pulse of the nation’s CEOs. When Chief Executive magazine queried 751 CEOs across the U.S., 74 percent preferred McCain's policies over Obama's.)

    Whether jobseeker support for Barack Obama was a generic, flee-in-the-other-direction response to hard times, or a conscious belief in Obama’s ability to effect change in the employment landscape, will be minutely dissected in days to come. But the poll spread indicates that something bigger was going on, that perhaps jobseekers equated voting for a conversion in leadership with personal agency in their own careers; the “At least I did something differently, for good or for bad” school of self-preservation. Being proactive in the face of uncertainty. How very American.

    ________________________________

    Anu Rao is a Senior Writer at Vault.com. She has her BA in English from the University of California at Berkeley, and is a Masters candidate at NYU, studying Communications, Media and Marketing.

    Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com

    »Read more
      Monday, 3 Nov 2008 | 9:29 AM ET

    Have Big Goals? Ask The Big Questions

    If we have a short-term project (e.g., get a job before severance runs out in 12 weeks) execution is relatively clear because the steps are laid out in sequential order and the short duration of the project leaves little time to lose focus.

    Get the resume in order. Draw up your contact list. Answer ads, network. Interview. Follow up. Repeat as needed. But if the project is long-term (e.g., overall career management) then the steps are not necessarily sequential. Change is dynamic, organic, unexpected. Lack of firm deadlines enables us to get distracted and lose sight of the end goal. We might reach a stage in our careers, pause to reflect and realize we are unsure how and why we got there. For big goals then, we need to stay on course by asking big questions:

    Are you better off this year than last year (in your career, but also relationships, health, etc)? If not, what can you do now to get back on track?

    If you found out that you had limited time left, what would you keep doing and what would you stop? How can you get more of that ideal balance now?

    In your list of life goals are there some that are time-sensitive? If you want to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro you need to take into account your health, ability to take time off, etc. Maybe you are in a unique position to do that now. Even if you didn’t intend to do that so soon, can you take advantage of your current circumstance to do it? What other goals lend themselves to your current situation?

    Are you happy? What is working particularly well? Can you apply those lessons to other areas in your life?

    These are not the only questions we should be asking. But they are a good start to move our focus from the daily grind to the broader picture. Being responsible and following through does not just mean we get our job done and fund our 401k. It means that we honor our lifelong aspirations and set time, money and energy aside to make them happen. Ask big questions. What are your lifelong aspirations? How can you support them with the time, money and energy you have right now?

      • Merrill Brokers May Leave After BofA Bonus Dispute

    ________________________________

    Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart a career coaching firm for Gen Y professionals. Formerly in corporate recruiting and retained search, Caroline has recruited for Accenture, Booz Allen, Citibank, Disney ABC, Oliver Wyman, Pfizer, and Time Inc. She currently writes career columns for Portfolio.com and Vault.com and teaches Professional Development at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

    Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com

    »Read more
      Friday, 31 Oct 2008 | 10:09 AM ET

    Layoffs: Which Way Does A Company Cut?

    Posted By: Erik Sorenson

    'Tis the season, again, for cutting costs. GM is doing it, Disney is doing it, Yahoo is doing it, and well, everyone is doing it. Even Goldman Sachs and GE (parent company of CNBC), two of the most admired outfits in America.

    So, if you're an executive, chances are you are in some kind of discussion with your fellow management team leaders about how to reduce spending.

    Since we're hip deep in the Information Age, most of us have a sizeable percentage of costs invested in human capital. That means it's pretty hard to cut significantly without addressing payroll. The interesting part is that most companies - especially the big, public kind – achieve their cuts by layoff (a vertical approach) rather than salary reduction (a horizontal approach.)

    A friend of a friend, who happens to be a senior executive at a New York based media conglom, was lamenting this recently as he braced for another big RIF (reduction in force) at his company. His point was that fewer people inevitably meant fewer products, fewer ideas, and less quality being produced for his company's consumers. And that gets to be a vicious, downward cycle. Another friend of mine calls it, "The going-out-of-business Business."

    Surgeon, Cut Thyself
    His idea, which doesn't go down well for most executives, is that companies should cut more horizontally. Keep the workforce intact, or try as much as possible, by asking everyone to take pay cuts. Oh, specifically he means us executives. And, he's willing to be the first in the pool. Mathematically, it makes sense. Execs make more than everyone else, so if we all forego bonuses and/or take salary cuts, significantly more savings fall to the bottom line than cutting or even eliminating lower paid employees.

    The benefits, according to this theory, center on the aftermath of horizontal cost cutting. Once everybody adjusts personally and psychologically to their individual "new realities" it can be argued the company is stronger because it has more resources (people) to compete. And a side benefit, not to be underestimated, is that perceived fairness in the cuts would likely result in higher morale. More people and higher morale might well lead to better productivity for the company moving forward.

    It's fairly obvious why this approach isn't used more frequently. For one, most companies bear a heavy cost per each employee (benefits) which aren't as easily addressed by this approach. Eliminating positions eliminates not only the benefits cost, but also all kinds of overhead expenses which tend to hang around when large numbers of employees stick around. Secondly, there's the argument that top performers (especially in the middle of the organization) are highly employable even in a downturn so they will typically depart when confronted with a pay cut. So much for "good morale."

    The final reason why the horizontal approach is rarely chosen is perhaps the most cynical (though I believe there is truth in cynicism and humor.) Here goes: the decision-makers (executives) have "the most" to lose. Like everyone, but perhaps more precariously perched, they have their standard of living to uphold. And like everyone, they are not used to making sacrifices in this rapidly-ending generation of high growth (and easy credit.)

    So, we'll weigh the pros and cons, mull the alternatives, consider our options, and typically preside over yet another RIF. But perhaps we should weigh, mull, consider and preside differently in the weeks ahead? Maybe we should go "horizontal." Or maybe we should do both? Maybe, just maybe, that frustrated senior media exec is right?

    What do you think? Let the shrieking begin.

    ________________________________

    Erik Sorenson is chief executive officer of Vault.com, Inc. Mr. Sorenson, 52, oversees the strategic direction of the global, New York-based media company. He is widely regarded as an expert on media strategy and industry trends, with experience spanning radio, local and network broadcast television, cable and syndicated TV, and the Internet. From 1998 through 2004, Mr. Sorenson served as president of the MSNBC cable news channel. He has won more than twenty Emmy awards as a writer, producer, and television executive.

    Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com

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      Thursday, 30 Oct 2008 | 9:08 AM ET

    Finance Jobs: Finding A Needle In The Haystack

    Posted By: Matthew Rothman

    These are unsettling times in the financial services industry. But times of transition can bring opportunity for job seekers who can adapt to the needs of the market.

    In the current economic downturn, it’s important to be realistic and to understand that most Wall Street firms are shrinking their workforces in the near-term to adjust to the slower business environment and their projections that 2009 will be no better.

    Yet, in the meantime, among all of the dislocations on Wall Street, the good news is that some firms are still hiring. Even some of the same banks dominating the headlines by laying off people across their firms (euphemistically known as “Reduction in Force”) are adding to their ranks in select divisions or recruiting talent from the likes of Lehman Brothers, now known as Barclays.

    How can you navigate a job market where the numbers of jobs are shrinking on a net basis? As the chief executive of a search firm operating within the financial services industry, with a focus on top hedge funds, private equity firms, and investment banks, I can assure you that some firms are still hiring.

    Who Is Still Hiring?
    I suggest identifying the firms that are doing well amidst (or perhaps because of) the turmoil. For example, some mid-sized banks and large commercial banks will benefit from the disappearance of Bear Stearns, the weakening of Lehman [Barclays], and the combinations of Merrill Lynch with Bank of America and of Wachovia with Wells Fargo. There are now fewer players in the industry and the remaining firms will grow in certain respects as they vie to fill the voids left by the now departed and combined.

    Firms like JP Morganand Citi are already reaping the rewards: their prime brokerage businesses (the groups that service hedge funds) are growing as hedge funds transfer assets to them; and their private wealth management businesses (the groups that manage assets on behalf of high net worth individuals) are growing rapidly as people seek the security of their franchises.

    How Do I Identify the Firms Hiring?
    Read business web sites and papers such as the Wall Street Journal, the FT, or the New York Times to determine which firms might be benefiting from the structural changes underway. Visit career web sites such as Vault.com and read articles about the new finance career playing field. Also, reconnect with your college or graduate school alumni relations departments in case they can be helpful. Many schools maintain active online job boards where specific, actionable opportunities are posted.

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    Just as Warren E. Buffett likes to say that it’s essential to “pick your spots” in choosing companies in which to invest, it’s as important to do the same with respect to the conduct of your job search.

    ________________________________

    Matthew Rothman is the founder and CEO of Balboa Search, a recruiting firm that works on behalf of top hedge funds, private equity firms and other financial services firms. Prior to founding Balboa, Matthew worked in the Investment Banking Division of Morgan Stanley. He also held stints as a principal at a venture capital firm and as a financial analyst at Broadview [Jefferies]. Matthew holds a BA from Yale University and a MBA from Columbia University. He currently writes a blog for Vault.com.

    Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com

    »Read more
      Wednesday, 29 Oct 2008 | 10:12 AM ET

    Landing The "Big" Job: Lessons From The Campaign Trail

    Posted By: Phil Stott

    Where did the time go? The first Tuesday in November arrives next week, bringing to a close a Presidential election filled with twists and (down)turns, gaffes, hyperbole and, uh, wardrobe analysis.

    Amidst it all, it can be quite easy to miss a simple fact: since the start of the primaries, Barack Obama and John McCain have been interviewing for a job. Granted, the job carries the title "Most Powerful Man in the World," and the "interviews" happen in the media, in front of a "panel" of hundreds of millions, but the principle remains the same.

    Each candidate is doing his best to convince us that they are right for the job, and each is using different techniques to do so. Any interviewee could learn from those techniques but, given the focus on leadership skills, perhaps aspiring CEO's have most to gain from parsing the two campaigns—especially as the courtship period for a top job can often drag on for months, just like a presidential campaign.

    Explaining the resume
    One striking feature has been the different experience levels of the candidates, and the ways in which each has attempted to turn this to their advantage. As the elder statesman in the race, Senator McCain's approach has been much the same as any industry veteran's would be—playing up the notion that he represents a safe pair of hands, knows the industry and is capable of working within it, and making it work for him.

    Senator Obama, however, provides something of a case study for those with less experience on their resume seeking to advance quickly. Rather than conceding the experience issue, Obama has attempted to reframe a perceived weakness as a strength—a classic interview technique. Decades of experience aren't as necessary, he argues, as a new way of doing business. A bold approach, it is perhaps more suited to an interview at an up-and-coming tech or new media concern—or a big firm that's hit the skids—than, say, a stable blue chip company.

    Proving leadership
    Regardless of employment history, no experience can prepare anyone for the full demands of the Presidency, and it falls to the candidates to prove their ability to lead. Both, therefore, have done what any good interview candidate should—dug out past examples that demonstrate some of the necessary leadership qualities to convince the panel they're up to the job.

    And, just like the well-prepared interviewee, they didn't wait until the question was asked to think of an answer. The nuggets these candidates dug out—be they about time spent as a community organizer or on voting records—were crafted into well-polished gems long before they rolled off the tongue on the stump.

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    Playing to their strengths
    Each candidate has also displayed another key interview technique—turning the "interview" to his strengths. While Obama is the master of the grand oration to deliver his pitch, McCain has been more at home with a "town hall" approach. Both techniques demonstrate that finding a way to be comfortable in advancing your case is important for convincing your panel that you're worth their time and attention. For some interviewees, that may involve using charts and spreadsheets to explain past performance and ideas for the future, while others may feel comfortable with little more than a pen and paper to sketch an idea, or choose to rely on the power of their words alone.

    Get a good reference
    Neither have the candidates forgotten one of the most important rules of the job market—getting a good reference. While there has certainly been no shortage of people willing to endorse or disparage either candidate, it's the vice-presidential picks that are the most telling. Perhaps the closest a candidate gets to providing a reference, the choices of Joe Biden and Sarah Palin have amply demonstrated some of the benefits and pitfalls in choosing one.

    Leaving individual performances and politics aside, the VP choices have shown that a referee who backs up what a candidate says (as both to an extent have done) can be invaluable. However, a referee who makes an inappropriate or unsupportive comment (as both have also done) can cause serious harm to a candidate's prospects.

    While neither Obama or McCain is likely to give up on landing the job until it's well and truly over, the time for displaying credentials, past achievements and future visions is all but gone, leaving each interviewee's fate with the panel. Unlike most interviews, though, we at least have a definite date for finding out who got the job.

    Finally, there is one last lesson from the campaign for those seeking positions of power: disparaging your rival in the press may be an accepted practice in politics, but it's probably best to steer away from that particular technique in the corporate world!

    ________________________________

    Phil Stott is a staff writer at Vault.com. Originally from Scotland, he now lives in New York, and has also lived and worked in Japan, South Korea and Eastern Europe.

    Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com

    »Read more
      Tuesday, 28 Oct 2008 | 9:23 AM ET

    Job Hunting? Don't Panic—Prepare Instead

    One of the best money managers in the business, Robert Doll of Blackrock, said something once that changed how I view almost everything in life: If you control what you can control, and do it well, you will always come out ahead.

    As a career coach, this is absolutely true for all of my clients. If you think about it, you can control about 80% of what happens in the job search process:

    1. Research enough so that you are well versed not only about the company you are interviewing with, but about their industry and about their top competitors. It shows three things: 1) you know what you truly want, 2) you can speak intelligently during and interview and 3) you are an expert in your field.

    2. Ensure your marketing materials are top notch. Not only must your resume be well written and 100% error free, it must quantify your contribution to your past employer and how you affected their bottom line: Did you reduce inefficiency by 50%? Did you increase sales by 25%? Did you decrease time spent in a particular process by 15%. This will catch the eye of a recruiter far faster than fancy formatting.

    3. In real estate it’s “location, location, location”. In the job search process it’s “networking, networking, networking”. It’s truly all about your network. Here is how you can have a bigger network: join related associations. If you are a woman in finance, belong to the FWA and/or 85 Broads. If you are an accountant, join accountant organizations. Attend monthly conferences if they hold them (which many do). Get out there and meet people. It will pay you back ten fold! And once you meet all these interesting people, ensure you follow up with them afterwards and continue that relationship past your first meeting.

    4. Practice your interview skills. People are not born to be great interview candidates. And we all know there are interviewers out there that don’t know what to ask in an interview. But there are absolute skills you must and should learn to ensure you interview well. You have to have a very clear idea of what your strengths and weaknesses are. And it’s ok to have weaknesses, but they must be authentic and they shouldn’t be the top skills required for your desired job. You can practice by researching top interview questions and answering them to a friend or in front of the mirror if that works for you. Practice, practice and then practice some more!

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    5. Check your attitude and make sure it’s positive. This is 100% under your control. Read positive and empowering books. Don’t watch the news—skim it on line. Don’t read local papers because they are depressing. Exercise and let those endorphins kick in. Bring the energy up in a room and smile when you greet someone for an interview. Act like you are confident and it will absolutely help you!

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    Believe it or not, this accounts for about 80% of the job search. Do all of these well and you don’t have to be overly concerned with the things you can’t control: the financial meltdown, the downturn in the economy, and the uncertainty that most employed people feel about their jobs. Be prepared and you will succeed! Good luck to you!

    ________________________________

    Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio is a career coach and co-founder of SixFigureStart and has worked for the bluest of blue chips for the past 25 years. Her companies include Citigroup, Pfizer, and most recently as the COO of Campus Recruiting for Merrill Lynch. Connie also co-authors a career blog for Vault.com.

    Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com

    »Read more
      Monday, 27 Oct 2008 | 10:45 AM ET

    Swim Fast, Young Man--It's Open Season On Execs

    Posted By: Erik Sorenson

    I know, you don’t feel young, even though you love to say 50 is the new 35. Or maybe it’s “60 is the new 50.” Pick your poison, friend.

    It’s open season on executives with just about every company in America announcing layoffs. (When Goldman Sachssneezes, we all catch cold?)

    Whether your career has landed you in the finance industry (poor you) or manufacturing or retail, you are in for a cold, dark winter. We all are. Our corporate leaders cannot cut 10% or 20%, much less 25% without chopping into some executive bone. That means you, partner. You, under the desk!

    There’s no hiding from this. It’s big. And it’s ugly. And it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. “Been through this before,” you say? We all had layoffs in 2002. And before that, you’re proud to say, you survived the ugliness of the early 90’s. But remember, you were 15 years younger then. And less well compensated.

    This time is different
    Listen, we are staring down the barrel of fundamental change this time. When all the dust settles, the U.S. government will be part owner of every major American bank. And it appears very likely Uncle Sam will also own parts of the Insurance Industry, the Auto Industry and the Airline Industry. It might not be socialism but it’s something very different than we grew up with. And Media is different too. Traditional media are dying, getting eaten up by the internet and mobile technology. Iconic brand names, which have dominated our professional lives, are here one minute and gone the next. Who knows, we might even get a new, bolder word for “change.”

    The Future
    Bob Dylan once wrote: “You better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone. The times, they are a-changin’.” It was true then, and it’s true now. A couple of executive friends of mine were saying recently that they were tired and at this stage in their professional life, they couldn’t imagine making themselves over to keep ahead of the times. They laughed at me when I suggested major alterations in their modus operandi and claimed, “We can ride this out.”

    If your 401k accounts are anything like mine however, we could be looking at a long ride. I don’t want to play defense for the next umpteen years and I’ll bet you don’t either. Unless you’re 60+ and you want to retire soon, strap on the Speedo and get moving. And if you’ve been back-stroking the past few years, you might want to consider the butterfly. Pronto

    ________________________________

    Erik Sorenson is chief executive officer of Vault.com, Inc. Mr. Sorenson, 52, oversees the strategic direction of the global, New York-based media company. He is widely regarded as an expert on media strategy and industry trends, with experience spanning radio, local and network broadcast television, cable and syndicated TV, and the Internet. From 1998 through 2004, Mr. Sorenson served as president of the MSNBC cable news channel. He has won more than twenty Emmy awards as a writer, producer, and television executive.

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