Monthly Archives

November 2013

Career Tools

Networking For Life

NetworkingNetworking is something that some people enjoy and others hate.  Some people can glide through the art of networking with little or no effort and others break out in a cold sweat  and have nightmares.

It really is a necessary ‘evil’ in today’s world.  From building friendships, to building businesses, it’s all about networking.  People network within their companies to gain trust and respect with their teammates as well as outside places of work to spread their brand and learn about other people and activities in the marketplace.

When focused on the job search aspect of networking, networking is where the action is.  Over 85% of jobs are found through conversations at parties, professional organizational meetings or over a cup of coffee.  An informational interview takes the pressure out of these settings as well as large conferences and provides an atmosphere where questions and conversations are welcome.

Looking for a job is about building relationships and building trust and networking is a means to do that.  Telling your career story with a clear and confident focus on where you’ve been and what you want to do in the future is the key to successful networking.   ‘Informational interviews’, are another great opportunity to network in a less intense manner.  Informational interviews are similar to employment interviews, but reversed.  A job seeker is allowed the opportunity to meet with a professional who shares the career path or occupation sought by the job seeker. This informational meeting brings the two together and provides an opportunity for the job seeker to learn more about a typical day, company culture and career path of the fellow professional.  To ensure a successful informational interview, preparation is key.  Thought provoking questions  a general understanding for the occupation and company knowledge are key components to a beneficial meeting.  People want to help people with their careers and are often very open to helping if they know what you want, providing a concise professional history as well as career goals will aid in this.  Job seekers who can present their story with clarity and confidence will enable the meeting to be one where both parties will learn and grow.

Lastly, remember to keep your networking meetings to a half  hour at the most.  No one wants to hear a rambling story without focus and sucking up their valuable time.  People will help you with information about their company or career field knowledge but they don’t want to meet with a ‘talking head’ that doesn’t know when to listen too!

If you remember to keep focused and listen to what they say, you will learn and actually enjoy networking!

Career Tools

Targeting Your Resume


Imagine the role of a corporate recruiter…

She has more than 70 resumes to review.  And, she’d be grateful if a few of them would jump out at her and scream “I’m exactly what you want!”.

What would she be looking for?

What are the “must haves” and “nice to haves” on her list?

That’s what you need to figure out.  When you have identified a job that you’re interested in, you want to become an “expert” on what the recruiter is looking for.  As an “expert”, you would know it well enough to be able to teach someone else about it.

How to start? 

Review similar job descriptions and talk to others who are doing, have done, or are managing people doing the job.  Use your own experiences and look online for information about the job.

What to research? 

  • Beyond the basics such as responsibilities and job requirements, know the following:
  • The exact deliverables/services will you be tasked with delivering
  • Areas measured for future performance reviews
  • Challenges to being successful on the job
  • Understand the  job requirement intangibles, such as relationship building, customer service ability, influencing, or problem-solving abilities.

All this information and insight will help you determine which successes and what activities and metrics will be most important to include and emphasize.

With this information, you will know the “language” of the job.  You will “sound like”, on paper, someone who is doing the job already.  The recruiter knows what she wants.  Your job is to give her what she’s looking for so you get called for the phone screen.  And then, knowing the “language” of the job you’ll make a great impression in the interview process.  The research you do up front will benefit you through the whole interview process (and even onboarding when you get the job).  Time to get started.


Career Tools

Career Link: The Culture Match


At Thanksgiving dinner last year, someone casually asked one of my relatives when he planned to retire. He pulled out his iPad and had down to the hour, minute, and second how long it would be until that moment. It made me realize that my career philosophy was very different than his. I realized that I never wanted to be in a position of being so ready to be done with my career that I counted down the minutes. Rather, I’d prefer to be so driven by my work that the days fly by. Now don’t get me wrong, I love heading home on a Friday, but I also love the feeling of having a purpose I’m excited about when I go into work on a Monday!

If you want to enjoy your career, and all the steps along the way, it’s important to have similar values as the company you work for. If the majority of my leadership team and employees had the same mindset as my relative, I likely wouldn’t feel the same satisfaction in my job as I currently do.

Ask yourself: Does my leadership team look at this company, my role, and ultimately my work dramatically different than I do?  

Do they have the same vision and goals as you do? At times, the product or service you’re selling is less important than the cultural similarities (or differences) you have with your peers, your manager, and your company’s leadership team. Do they want you to succeed? Hopefully so. Do you have the same definition of success? If they award promotions based on tenure, and you expect promotions based on performance, it may not be the best fit…

Culture Shapes Everything

Fostering competition makes for an entertaining and productive workplace, which ultimately leads to performance and success. In other words, the importance of culture in our workplace is the key to organizational performance. Culture ultimately determines how problems are solved, and how businesses drive innovation. As an example, at Versique, we have embraced collaboration as one of our core values. With collaboration in mind, we are able to offer so much more to our clients. When all four core values (culture, collaboration, competition, and community) are supported and encouraged by our employees, we are able to create a crossover in services by working together, which ultimately brings added value to our clients.

Working for a Company That Establishes Core Values

Instilling core values helps to solidify a rewarding experience for employees, and ultimately, clients. It’s important to identify if the company you work for, or are considering working for, has values that align with yours. If everyone is on the same page, opportunities are endless. In our industry, whether it’s meeting a candidate for the first time, introducing the right candidate to a client, or coordinating volunteer opportunities, it’s vital we embrace our core values to the utmost potential.

Setting Goals to Achieve Success

Aside from making sure you are in alignment with your company’s values, it’s important to set goals for yourself, as they will result in a rewarding career. When sharp, clearly defined goals are set in place, you can continuously motivate yourself to achieve, because you’ll have a way to monitor success. By raising the bar and taking action, you will raise self-assurance and poise that will ultimately guide you down the road of a very rewarding career! You will notice positive trajectory, which would otherwise feel like a pointless and never-ending grind towards retirement.

Do your values line up with your current employer? Do you have goals that will help drive you to be successful?

Tony Sorensen is the CEO of Versique Executive Search and Consulting, and McKinley Consulting. He brings over 16 years of experience to the recruiting industry, and can be reached at

Career Tools

Are LinkedIn Recommendations and Endorsements Worthwhile?

I have been asked many times throughout the years about the value of LinkedIn recommendations, and more recently about the value of the endorsement feature. While there are many different angles to this discussion (and I could argue both sides of the value proposition with enthusiasm), one piece of the discussion puts me firmly on the side of “yes, they add value.” This piece surrounds the strengthening of your personal brand.

LinkedIn provides you with a very visible and free way to grow your personal brand. Both the endorsement and recommendation features allow you to take your brand to a higher level. While I understand these features are somewhat different, here are three quick tips that apply to both that will help maximize your results.

Don’t overdo it. While this applies more to recommendations than endorsements, having 100 recommendations is overkill and might cause a brain-freeze to anyone who happens to be looking at your profile. Think quality vs. quantity.

Get specific. Try to streamline the kind of endorsements your connections can offer you. You’re able to edit your skills at the bottom of your profile (edit “Skills & Expertise”). This will at least help to steer the types of endorsements you receive. When asking for recommendations, help your connection out with a few bullet points that remind them of specific skills you are good at or projects you have worked with them on. Naturally, they’ll be more likely to highlight these items within the recommendation.

Seek out thought leaders. You can control who shows up on your recommendations, so make sure you have the most impactful person sending the message you want to send. Seek out individuals who can speak highly (and intellectually) about your past successes and character/work ethic.

Finally, keep this in mind: It’s important to be constantly aware of your personal brand and how your actions online impact it both positively and negatively. Your personal brand online can be even more important than your first impression in an interview (because your online brand can help you land you the interview in the first place).

Chris_OhlendorfAbout the Author:

Chris Ohlendorf brings over 17 years of experience to the consulting and recruiting industries. As the Chief Talent Officer and one of the founders of Versique and McKinley Consulting, Chris is responsible for guiding the overall internal recruitment and training strategies, including expansion into new divisions, and managing the overall administration functions at both companies. He is also involved in business development for the companies, and is actively involved in Versique’s volunteer committee, which focuses on giving back to the community. Chris is a member of Allied Executives, a peer-to-peer membership organization for CEO’s and business owners. He is a graduate of Bethel College with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, and has an MBA in Marketing Management from University of Minnesota-Carlson School of Management. To learn more about Versique Search & Consulting, visit, and to learn more about McKinley Consulting, visit

Career Tools

Beyond the Classroom: an MBA Career Checklist


Your GMAT test scores are in, class registration is complete, and school supplies are bought, any new graduate business student should feel rather relieved.  That is until classes start, group projects commence and midterms roll around.

The goal for many MBA students is not only to advance their education, but to propel their career. During the full-time MBA student launch week, professors remind each student that this two-year journey should be seen as a two-year job search. Whether you’re simply seeking a wider knowledge base, or to transfer into a new occupation, here are three steps that serve as an essential addition to your rigorous UST business course work.

Graduate Business Check Listchecklist

1. Compile a career history database.

This database serves as a skill inventory and position responsibility of every position you’ve held in the past.  Think of it as your own personal job description library for every occupation you’ve held in the past. Compiling this extensive document allows for quick and easy skill recognition and transference to any possible future occupation. With this index, customized resumes can easily be created and skills that may not have previously related to a current occupation will quickly benefit you a future sought after position.

2. Network with staff, faculty and especially classmates.

Importance is typically placed on connecting with working professionals, but classmates are an easy target for networking. You share class with them in an environment of learning and commonalities.  Each of the these groups has a work history, previous bosses and colleagues outside of UST that can quickly serve to build your network and industry knowledge.

3. Get involved, stay for the free food.

UST has numerous clubs for any type of student, each serves a particular function and industry of interest.  This does not mean that because you are a marketing student you should only attend the marketing events, it does mean Finance Club would be a great resource to learn about other possible companies you may know nothing about that have a stellar marketing department.

Lastly, St. Thomas loves to feed its students. People are happy when they are fed and engage in conversation (much more freely with alcohol, which UST also tends to serve).  I would highly recommend taking part in UST’s regular Master’s Pub, Open for Business and Intersections events.  They provide a wealth of trending industry insight—and a free meal doesn’t hurt.

Focusing on one or all three of these items could greatly benefit any student. There are many other great ways to become a fully engaged student, we welcome any ideas shared below. How do you stay involved at UST?  Are there other items that should be included on this checklist? Let us know in the comments.