August 17, 2018

I attended a lovely celebration recently at a winery where name tags were provided by the hostess. As I was about to pin my name tag to my left lapel, Molly Wendell, of Executives Network, offered me a wonderful tip I thought I would share. Molly suggested placing the name tag on my right lapel, so it would be in the line of sight when I extend my hand to introduce myself. Now that’s a tip I’ll pass along.

For more of Molly’s tips on job search and networking, visit her blog at

This morning, Mira and I had coffee at Starbuck’s near Microsoft’s Mountain View Campus. Mira gave me a really great tip about ordering Splenda in my grande non-fat latte. YUMM. We spoke about how we were talking to lots of people who were looking for work. Mira told me about her new blog about networking. I said – “Here’s a great networking activity* for job seekers”…..I told her my tip and she said I’d better write it down for her blog before she did – here goes…..

Whether or not you are looking for what’s next in your career, take some time to meet with your former colleagues, bosses, and folks who have worked for you and ask these questions:“

“What are the top 5 reasons someone should hire me?””
“What is the one thing you’d suggest I change or learn for my career development?”

Here’s the deal – meet with these people in person or call them by phone to ask the question – no fair doing this networking activity by email. This is about relationship building. It’s an opportunity to network and find out how you can help them. It is also an opportunity to ask them who they know you could be talking to if, just in case, you are looking for what’s next in your career. Write down their answers. Someday, during an interview, you may be asked when asked questions similar to:

“Why should we consider hiring you?”
“What are your key strengths?”
“Why do you think you are the best person for this job?”

You can powerfully respond with, “My boss would say this about me …” Technical skills aside –people hire people who can communicate, add value, and who other people like.

These quotable quotes are also wonderful in a cover letter. I like having them for rainy days when I’m feeling like the world is just a little too dreary. They cheer me up. One of my favorites is what Bill Drake told me years ago: “One of your strengths is you don’t take no for an answer but look for what needs to be changed to get to a yes.”

By the way, the people you asked this question should very likely be your references. Oh – and the one thing they recommended you change or learn – take it on!

*Donna Fedor, a long term friend and industry cohort told me about this inspiring activity years ago. Pay it forward and tell someone else.

Gretchen Sand is one of the cofounders of Skyline Recruiting in Los Altos, CA.