Online Programs Webinar with Blaine Hanson – LinkedIn April 16 2020

Thank you to all who joined us for the live session on Thursday.

Click here to access Blaine’s Slides

If you submitted a question here advance you can click here to view Blaine’s response Advance Questions with Responses

Contact Blaine

Connect with Blaine

Job Search/LinkedIn profile tips:

General career/workplace tips:

Here is some additional insight and tips from Blaine

When Making any Career Transition it is Important to Figure out if Making the Change is the Right Decision for Yourself:

–  The first thing you need to ask yourself is the WHY.   WHY do you want to make a career change?   You need to examine your motivations.  Make a change when you have identified something that you truly want to do, and not when you’re experiencing something you want to escape.   You should be running towards something exciting, not running away from something.  Be honest with yourself as you don’t want to make any changes too hastily.   Will making a career change make your life better?    What might the associated risks be?

–   Get clear on the WHAT – What does this new career look like?   What does it take to be successful in this new career?   Who do you know in this field that can help you gain a better understanding of the role?    What expectations do you have of this new career?  Do your expectations align with reality?

–  Figure out WHAT’S IT’S GOING TO TAKE:  Do your research. Understanding the industry and the new job is vitally important.  What does it take to be successful in this new career?  It’s important to understand if it’s right for you.  Can you leverage existing career capital or are you interested in something entirely different?  Do you need more training, education and/or support?   If you need more support, how will you get it?  Do the financial and emotional math.   How ready are you to make the change?

–  Get IN with the RIGHT people – you MUST get to know people that have been working in that field of interest and are successful.   Network with people within this career to understand it and help inform your decision.  What are they doing to be successful and how can you learn from them?

–  Shift your BRAND – the easier you make it for someone else to “get” you, the better the odds that they’ll want to know more.  How will you brand yourself in a way that makes taking a risk on you seem logical versus those who might look good on paper (experience in category)?   You have transferrable skills that will be needed in the new career, make sure you can articulate them.   Be confident in your professional story – own your past experiences and be proud of them.  Take control over your personal branding.  Perfect your Pitch.  Can you clearly articulate why you want to make a change and why someone else should take the risk?

–  Accept CHANGE – Change is daunting. Fear of the unknown can be terrifying.  Fear of failure is awful.  The secret to the other side?  Take one small deliberate and brave step towards it every day. And then the steps get easier.  And faster.  Believing that you have the ability to make a career change is half the battle.  Building your confidence and being willing to step out of your comfort zone are major and necessary factors.

–  It will be tough in the beginning.  But you must believe the BEST IS YET TO COME.  You will have a lot of learning to do.  Know that will not be easy.   Changing careers is a commitment.    Taking on the stress of a major life change is not easy.   You can’t make a significant career change without significant effort, time, commitment, and dollars.  Be proud of yourself for even trying to go through a career transition, no matter the outcome.

Online Programs Webinar with Julie Bartimus – Telling Your Story During A Interview (March 19 2020)

Thank you to all who joined us last night for the conversation with Julie Bartimus about Interviewing.

Webinar Power Point Slides

Julie is a certified career coach and if you have additional questions for her please reach out to her directly.


Online students have access to the Beyond B School platform.  I encourage you to use this further and explore this resource to continue to improve your Interviewing skills.


Online Programs Webinar with Laura Bellis – You Can’t Avoid Career Transition (March 5 2020)

Thank you to all the students who joined us last night for the Career Transition conversation with Laura Bellis

The webinar includes slides and audio.

Click here to access the slides: You Can’t Avoid Career Transition – UofI

Click here for Laura’s Bio: LBellis Bio 2020

If you have questions for Laura or would to talk about career and professional development she can be contacted at

Activate Your Career – Webinar with MBA Career Expert Libby Marshall

Watch the one hour webinar with Libby Marshall from January 30th 2020

Activate Your Career, Take Control and Design Your Future January 2020

STEAM Connect MBA Information

Use the above links to review the slides from the webinar.

If you are interested in Libby’s Steam Connect Program you can visit this website:

Libby Marshall can be contacted at

Executive Presence with Jan Erkert (October 30 2019)


Grad studio interview:

Session Description: Presence is a state of being in which all parts of self are attending to the moment.  What is the role of the body in communicating your presence?   Whether you are in a job interview, delivering a presentation to a large group of people, or working within an executive board room… listening to the internal cues coming from your body (breathing, stance, energy, feelings) while also attending to the external messages coming from other people, are the primary skills of establishing embodied executive presence.  In this inter-active workshop, participants will learn how to attend to both internal and external cues, focus on their intention, and “tune” into others to create situations in which communication flows.

Presenter: Jan Erkert is a dance-maker, teacher of dance and yoga, author and currently Professor and Head of the Department of Dance at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  As Artistic Director of Jan Erkert & Dancers from 1979 – 2000, she created over 70 works, critically acclaimed for their lush, evocative imagery.  Ms. Erkert’s work has been seen throughout the United States as well as in Europe, Asia, the Middle-East and South America.  Ms. Erkert and the company were honored with numerous awards including a Fulbright Scholar Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council.

As Head of the Department of Dance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she has led a transformation of the department that the New York Times described as a “…hotbed of choreographic innovation.” In ten years, she has quintupled donations, doubled the budget and tripled the diversity of students and faculty.  In 2014, the University honored her with the Larine Y. Cowan Make a Difference Award for Leadership in Diversity.  Ms. Erkert has been a national leader in dance, presently serving as the President of the Council of Dance Administrators (CODA), a coalition of some of the top schools of dance in the USA. Serving as a commissioner for the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD), she has been a frequent consultant and reviewer of dance programs. In 2014-15 she was an Academic Leadership Fellow for the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, and in 2017, she was a guest speaker at the Leadershape Institute.

Ms. Erkert recently completed a manuscript titled, Drink the Wild Air, A Sensorial Journey through Leadership. When she took on a major leadership position, she found that there was no book out there that helped her understand how to bring her human, sentient being, and her artistic, creative practice to the job of leadership. Drink the Wild Air, A Sensorial Journey through Leadership shares her auto-body-ographies and brings the voices of body/mind thinkers and embodied practitioners to the discourse on leadership.  It is Ms. Erkert’s fervent hope that these collective stories and ideas will inspire all who want to create a new form of leadership that integrates life/work/play, and ultimately teaches us how to lead embodied lives.

Re-cap (April 18, 2019) – Successful Interview Strategies

We’ve come to the end of our first-ever Career Development Series. In our last webcast, I spoke to Jenny Rae La Roux of Management Consulted about successful interview strategies. Below are links to the video and audio only recordings:

To access the discounted resources on Management Consulted, please go to and fill out their interest form.

For additional reading on successful interview strategies, check out the following articles:

During the webcast, Ramana asked if recruiters use tools to rank resumes based on keywords. The answer is, “Partly.” Different employers use different Application Tracking Systems (ATS’s) to manage the many applications they receive for each position. Keywords are merely ONE factor ATS’s look at when scoring a candidate. Some ATS’s look at keywords in the context of a sentence. While it is necessary to customize your resume and cover letters to each position that you apply to, relying primarily on online applications is not a productive strategy. In fact, it can be frustrating and demoralizing. As you advance in your careers and seek higher level roles, it is increasingly important for you to establish actual professional connections with individuals who can, down the road, serve as career advocates for you. If you haven’t, I invite you watch our webcast on effective resumes.

And that brings us to the end of our first season.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. Thank you.

Jerome Ng
Gies College of Business Career Services
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Follow-up on LinkedIn and Connecting with Others

Finally! I figured out how to edit this video. Here is a demo of (1) how you should update your Career Interests section within LinkedIn and (2) what recruiters see when using LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions software. Sarah demos how to align what you enter into your Career Interests with how recruiters are coached to use Talent Solutions.

5 strategies to optimize your LinkedIn profile for maximum exposure to recruiters:

  • Include your target location(s) and job title(s) in your Career Interest section. Within your public profile, include the main location that you are looking to move to. If you currently reside in Chicago, but want to move to Austin, TX, list Austin, TX as your location in your public profile.
  • Have a profile summary that speaks to the types of roles you are aiming for. Include keywords relevant to those roles within your profile summary.
  • Include selected keywords within your profile headline that are relevant to your target positions. Your headline is the primary description that recruiters see when they pull a list of candidates. A headline, like “Seeking Full-Time Opportunities”, tells the recruiter nothing about your skills and experience.
  • Ensure that your profile photo is close cropped to frame your head and shoulders only, eyes looking towards the camera.
  • Follow your target companies within LinkedIn and connect with people within your target industry or function.

Here is an infographic summarizing 10 steps you can take to improve your LinkedIn profile.

I received a few inquiries after our webcast on LinkedIn with Hannah Morgan about reaching out to alumni. Towards the end of this post, I’ve provided links to various Illinois alumni LinkedIn groups. If you are a member of these groups, you can message fellow members without using InMails. HOWEVER, before your reach out to an alum or any contact for that matter, consider your purpose. Why are you contacting these individuals?

Below are 3 videos that go over Steve Dalton’s 2-Hour Job Search strategy for finding jobs. Parts 2 and 3 go over ways to make and reach out connections. I recommend watching all 3 videos.

Part 1: Prioritizing Target Employers

Part 2: Making Connections by Picking Starter Contacts

Part 3: Reaching Out and Tracking

Once you establish contact with a professional, you will then need to conduct an informational interview. Here is a sample approach to informational interviews:

Remember that your first informational meeting is not your time to ask for a referral. If the connection progresses after your meeting and your contact becomes an advocate, you can ask for a referral. Until then, they are a resource to help you prepare for future roles.

Illinois alumni LinkedIn groups:

If you have questions, please feel free to reach out.

Jerome Ng
Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach
Gies College of Business


Recap (February 28, March 14 and 28, 2019) Storytelling, Networking, and LinkedIn

March was a crazy month with being co-chairing a conference in Asia and then going on vacation. I’m very sorry for the delay getting the recordings out to you. Here are the last three webcasts:

On Stories… All stories comprise 3 parts:

  1. The Hook – set the time, place and circumstances; establish the conflict, contrast or contradiction
  2. Challenge and Change – the longest part of the story; describe the main journey and what happened at the end, what changed/was different at the end
  3. A Clear Theme – think of this part as your answer to “So what?”; what’s the purpose of your story, what are you trying to illustrate to your audience

A related element to a clear theme is how you choose to end your story: open-ended or closed. Use an open ending if you wish to engage your audience in a discussion or to solicit their insights. Use a closed ending if you want to drive home a point and avoid any ambiguity regarding the message of your story.

There are 5 basic plots in business communication:

  1. Origin Story – founder’s story, or how a person, business, idea, product, service, platform, movement or opportunity came to be
  2. Rags to Riches (variation: David vs. Goliath) – challenging beginning with circumstances stacked against individual, but surprises everyone with a dramatic turnaround
  3. Rebirth – this is about second chances, redemption
  4. Overcoming the Monster – any overt or covert entity or situation that can threaten survival of some sort or thwart someone from reaching an important goal
  5. The Quest – stories about reaching an inspiring goal; aiming for a seemingly unattainable prize; doesn’t have to begin from a point of challenge; in fact, many are enjoying a good life, but are not content with the status quo and strive for something bigger

In a recent blog post, Esther Choy talks about how to utilize 3 of these plots in presentations.

In the chat room, one of you asked whether it was a good approach to tell multiple nested stories when communication one’s value; in other words, telling a story inside of another story. Esther’s advice is “No.”

Because audiences tend to have fairly short attention spans, it’s best to avoid nested stories. Instead, I encourage people to follow the National Speakers Association’s advice: tell a story, then present the main point. Then another story. Then the main point. Story. Point. Story. Point. The different stories should all illustrate the same main point.

For more on how to Let The Story Do The Work, visit Leadership Story Lab.

In our conversation on networking or, as I prefer to say, “building relationships,” Ngee Key Chan challenged us to evaluate our mindset when we approach networking: do we see it as a transaction to get something from the other person or as an opportunity to give first? Ngee Key advises approaching networking from a mindset of giving first in order to create a strong and authentic relationship with the other person.

To learn more about networking strategies, visit (this subscription is provided through Gies Online Programs).

Finally, when it comes to using LinkedIn to advance your career, Hannah Morgan suggests 4 different tactics:

  1. Create an engaging profile, especially your headline and summary. In your headline, do not rely on the default job title from your current job. Say more than “MBA Candidate” in your headline. Instead, state what you can do, what skills you bring or what industry/functions you are targeting. In your summary, elaborate on your skills and accomplishment. Target your summary to the function and industries are are aiming to get into.
  2. Turn on your Career Interests to be visible to recruiter. Let recruiters know that you are actively seeking. Use the given text box to share a note with recruiters.
  3. Include a personalized note when inviting others to connect with you. Make this a habit, even when you know the individual.
  4. Make one post (not merely “Like” someone else’s post) each day to increase your visibility in LinkedIn. Increasing the frequency of your posts increases your ranking in LinkedIn. However, do not get carried away with multiple posts in a day as that will annoy your followers. Keep your posts relevant to your brand or target industry/function.

In the chat room, someone asked about whether international students should write a note to recruiters about their status, informing recruiters that they are open for offers. Hannah offers the following advice:

…adding something about H1-B Visa or even STEM in their “Note to Recruiter” within the Open To New Opportunities section (under Career Interests) sounds like the best place for this.

I know a student who didn’t even mention needing sponsorship until the end of the interviewing process, when the hiring manager asked her. It wasn’t a deal breaker at all. The company typically doesn’t sponsor, but they made an exception for her. So, I lean towards not stating anything on LinkedIn and bring it up during the interview when asked. Once they love the student’s skills, they are more likely to want to jump through hoops for sponsorship….(fingers crossed).

Visit for video tutorials on maximizing LinkedIn for your career. You may also want to enroll in the MBA LinkedIn Intensive found on the left hand menu bar under Focus Programs. (If you have difficulty accessing the videos from the URL provided above, please go to then click on Beyond B-School Career Mgmt Videos.)

Additional resources:

I am trying to edit a recording we did with MBA 2013 alum Sarah Zigman who now works with LinkedIn. In the video, she demos how recruiters use LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions platform when sourcing for candidates. The demo provides good insights into how you should update your Career Interest section within LinkedIn so that it is aligned with how recruiters search for candidates. I will upload that video to this site once it is ready to be shared.

Please join me on Thursday, April 18 for our final career development webcast when I speak with Jenny Rae of Management Consulted about Interviewing for Fit.

Thank you.

Jerome Ng,

Recap (February 14, 2019) — Making Employers Fall in Love with Your Resume with Ross Macpherson

Thank you for the excellent questions during Thursday’s webcast with Ross Macpherson on resumes. If you missed the interview, you can view/listen to the recording below:

I appreciated Ross’ perspective on branding and resumes. One takeaway for me is that your resume is about “who you help and how you help them.”

An important clarification he raised is that you should not list “MBA” next to your name if you have not graduated. Doing so is falsifying information. You can list “MBA” in your Education with your expected graduation date.

Ross had an in-depth answer for the question about the amount of technical vs. MBA skills to list in a resume. For me, it is about relevant skills. At the end of the day, you need to ask what are the most relevant skills to the job to which you are applying.

Ross offered 3 ways to quantify your accomplishments:

  • Actual result or who benefited (usually the company) and how
  • Context or scope
  • What was it like when you started and what was it like when your task/project ended

IMPORTANT: Be truthful about your accomplishment. You need to be able to stand behind your claim and be able to explain how your achieved your results.

If you have not watched Ross’ videos on Beyond B-School, I strongly encourage you to do so. Ross offers lots of thorough in-depth advice. (If you have difficulty accessing the last four resources, you will first need to set up an account or log into your account at Please use your e-mail address to set up your account. Once you’ve logged in, you can use the links below to access the resources.)

If you have more questions for Ross, you can find him at

Before we ended our webcast, we had a question about whether having a “bare bones LinkedIn profile” was affecting their job search. We will address the question on March 28 when we interview Hannah Morgan about LinkedIn. Please join us.

In the meantime, if you are interested in subscribing to our monthly newsletter, please go to and click on the SUBSCRIBE button that you’ll see on the left hand side of the page.

For upcoming events, please bookmark and follow our blog. See you at our next event on February 28 when I speak with Esther Choy and Reena Kansal about communicating your value through effective storytelling.


Recap (January 31, 2019) – Personal Branding: Why You Need One and How to Go About Building One (Part 2)

Here are Michael’s responses to questions from the chatroom that we did not get to during our interview. Please let me know if you have follow up questions.

How is personal branding role specific?

Personal branding is YOU specific. When you’re fulfilling a certain role, you only release the pieces of your personal brand that are required for that role. Your brand shouldn’t change often. It will evolve over time as your skills, talents, and experiences allow you to express deeper parts of yourself in new ways, but most of what makes you authentic will remain the same.

Is personal branding similar to writing what you would write in your resume where you try to sell yourself to a potential employer?  Is there any room in personal branding to discuss your weaknesses or is it all about selling your strengths?  I always feel like there’s never enough emphasis placed on where we fall short as professionals – it’s all about knowing strengths and weaknesses.

Yes, your personal brand statement could be utilized at the top of a resume, in LinkedIn’s summary, and in your bio. In my definition of a personal brand, there is room for the areas you’re purposely developing. But, you wouldn’t write your weaknesses down and use them to sell yourself. I would suggest only sharing the areas you’re working to develop when you’re asked to (in interviews, with a hiring manager, etc.), with accountability partners, and your personal board of directors. It takes a truly humble, knowledgeable, and emotionally intelligent person to openly share what he or she is working to be better at. I encourage you to display your vulnerabilities, but do so in a way that adds credibility to your brand.

How do you maintain a personal brand when you don’t have a lot of “brand assets”? — when your career hits a dead end, when your company is unheard of, etc. How do you embody a positive, intriguing brand when you’re a bit stuck?

Your personal brand is an aggregation of your (1) communication profile, (2) motivators, (3) values, (4) strengths, and (5) life’s experiences. When you find the themes in these five “assets”, you can write a personal mission, 3-year goals, and a 3-5 sentence brand statement that will sell you without recent career wins. You may also consider creating wins through volunteering with your favorite nonprofit, joining a professional association and helping them with projects, offering your skills complimentary to a small business in exchange for a recommendation, reaching out to your networking and collecting as many LinkedIn recommendations as possible, or launching your own website explaining more about you. More importantly, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Even if they appear to be successful, I promise you they’re going through challenging things they’re unwilling to share. This temporary slow time in your life is preparing you for something bigger than you can currently comprehend.

We recently had a survey asking group members to rate other person on 1. how easy to work with this person? 2. Does this person respond quickly to requests? 3. Is this person easy to get engaged to solve issues? 4. Dose this person always deliver on commitments?  Wondering do those questions connect to personal branding?

I see this as being linked to one component of a person’s brand. I believe it’s most closely connected to someone’s thinking, behavioral, and communication preferences (#1 in my answer to the previous question), but not strongly correlated to their personal mission or goals.

What is the role of color in a personal brand?

I dive into this topic on the third episode of my podcast, listen to it here. Consider reading this website for another look at how color affects human decision making. After you’ve uncovered your personal values and written your mission, it’d be fun to look at the meaning of different colors and choose two that most closely correlate with how you want people to know you. Can you find ways to infuse those colors into your wardrobe, resume, LinkedIn, website, business cards, social media posts, etc. The more you use the color, the more people around you associate you with the meaning of that color.

How do you (can you) tie your brand to your company/team brand?

Do your core values align with the company’s values? Is your personal mission somehow connected to the organization’s mission? Is your personal brand similar to the organization’s value proposition? If yes, find ways to openly talk about the connection. Draw the connection via posts on social media. Write blogs that talk about why you love working for the employer. Wear clothing with the organization’s logo. Join a board of directors and tell others why your mission aligns with the nonprofit’s mission. Host a dinner series and invite like-minded people to the dinner. As much as possible, talk about it in person and online. The connection between your and the organization’s brand will grow quickly.

I always struggle with polarities and the need to categorize us. This is one of the things that I find most difficult in branding. Everyone wants to put you in a box and identify you with… when our real talent is about synthesizing—and in multiple contexts.

I feel the same. Differences should be celebrated, not hidden or categorized. Thankfully, the voices of the people who loved to place other people in boxes are rapidly shrinking. They’re being replaced by the emotionally-developed people who see how diversity creates balanced, stronger, engaged, and more productive teams. If you follow the process in my answer to question #3 above, it’ll be awfully difficult for anyone to place you in a box. I think it’s impossible for any other person to have your communication profile, motivators, values, strengths, and life’s experiences. The more you share this uniqueness, the less they can place you in a box.