Few people intend to become executive recruiters, according to John

Lucht, and the majority fall into it in the same way. "Most of the

famous names in recruiting," he says, "had big jobs, but lost them and

were unemployed – as I was – when entering the business."

Some three decades after making his serendipitous career move, he is

the author of a best selling book, "Rites of Passage at $100,000 to $1

Million+ … Guide to Executive Job-Changing and Faster Career

Progress," and the founder of RiteSite.com, a website for executive

job seekers and career builders, that has quickly become one of the

top three sites that charge for executive search services.

Lucht, founder of New York City-based executive search firm John Lucht

Consultancy (www.luchtconsultancy.com), shares his extensive

experience on Wednesday, March 30, at 6:30 p.m. at a Wharton Club of

New Jersey event at the Newark Club when he will speak on "Smashing

Five Hidden Barriers to Executive Job Hunting and Job Changing." His

talk covers networking and interviewing as well as how to avoid

alienating recruiters, how to "blow away" competing finalist

candidates, and how to get the best out of online job boards. Cost:

$60, including dinner. Call 973-242-0658 for more information. For

directions, visit www.newarkclub.com.

"Everybody knows about networking and realizes it is the way that most

people get their jobs," says Lucht. He adds that the most fruitful

path to opportunities is through networking with friends and personal

contacts. Talking to strangers, even when someone you know introduces

you, is less effective because "someone who didn’t know you previously

can’t be as strong in recommending you as the person who made the

introduction." Then if the second person makes an introduction to a

third and so forth, "the power of the recommendation gets diluted as

it goes down the line."

Although Lucht believes that personal contacts, even recent ones, are

the best venue for networking, he advises job seekers not to approach

friends and acquaintances too directly. Do not confront them and ask

for a job. If you do ask, the most likely response is "No, I don’t

have one," followed by a detailing of why, usually because the type of

position you seek is already filled by a qualified person.

Ask for a reference instead. "Everyone can say yes to that," says

Lucht, but what really matters is the ensuing conversation about your

great accomplishments – past and present. "This allows you to give the

message you’d like to be giving," leaving people thinking about what

good things may be said about you, and perhaps about ways they can use

you themselves.

While close friends can provide the best references, Lucht says it’s

not a bad idea to get in touch with old acquaintances as well. Call

people you haven’t spoken to recently, he suggests. Although a

jobseeker may feel embarrassed to initiate a contact, Lucht advises

that "people you haven’t spoken to for a long time are usually

delighted to hear from an old friend."

Once a job seeker gets a nibble, the next step is often a series of

interviews with an executive recruiter, then with a person in human

resources, potential co-workers, and finally decision makers. Lucht

sees each interview as preparation for the next one. "People don’t

realize that in every interview they have, the interviewers telegraph

what they’d love to have you be," says Lucht, and it is critical that

jobseekers receive these messages. To gather the most information,

while still conveying critical details about yourself, Lucht advises:

Keep answers to no more than two minutes. Lucht believes that no

matter how open-ended a question is, a two-minute answer is possible.

"The main thing you have to do is shut up in two minutes and see what

the interviewer wants to know next," he says.

Listen for requirements you may have missed and for reservations about

you. He warns against trying to "steer the interview and unload all

the information that you believe is favorable to you," because you may

then miss the interviewer’s concerns about you and lose the

opportunity to "address them with positive information that indicates

they are not really weaknesses at all."

Put Yourself in Miss America’s shoes. "I urge people to ask themselves

a very open-ended question, but one that has nothing to do with work

and to practice giving two-minute answers," he says. He suggests that

job candidates practice on Miss America-type questions: What is your

favorite food and why? What college instructor or former supervisor in

business has influenced you the most and why? If you could only eat

one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Listen carefully. "You may find out something they didn’t want to tell

you," says Lucht, for example, an attitude you don’t like or negative

vibes about the company. Try to get a sense of how people interact

with each other and what the corporate culture is like. Ask why there

is an opening. Get a sense of why the previous person left the job. If

that person got a promotion and moved up, that’s great. But if he or

she left for a better opportunity, that is understandable, but may

also suggest that there is not as much respect for homegrown talent.

Smoke out hidden concerns. About two-thirds of the way through the

interview, say to the interviewer: "You’ve now had a chance to look at

my resume and to chat with me – what would be the most serious

challenges that someone with my background would face in this

position?"

Take notes – there will be more interviews down the line. "In every

interview, if you are conscious of what you are hearing and take notes

immediately afterward, the interviewers will always tell you what they

are looking for," says Lucht. He advises heading directly to the

nearest coffee shop or parking lot and writing down everything you

found out during the interview. This information will help you to

present yourself effectively in subsequent interviews.

Lucht graduated in 1955 from the University of Wisconsin with a

bachelor’s degree in liberal arts. He received his J.D. from the

school in 1960, although he says that he never intended to practice

law. He has always seen himself as "quite creative" and went to law

school "for the purpose of being able to write my own patents." He

observes wryly that there was only one three-credit course in patent

law, but it hardly mattered as he headed off into a career in consumer

products marketing and general management. He worked for J. Walter

Thompson Company, Tetley Tea, and Bristol-Myers, where he headed new

product marketing, and then moved to his ultimate destination in

executive recruiting.

Getting ahead in the world may be as much a science as an art. So heed

the wisdom of executive recruiters if you want to ace your next job

interview and pull ahead of the competition. Otherwise you may end up

as an executive recruiter yourself – which, come to think of it, might

not be such a bad thing after all.

by Michele Alperin

Top Of PageBioengineering: Backbone of Hope

If a spinal cord is severed, the results are dire. Nothing responds

from the point of injury down. Or so it used to be. But now, with

increased technology, and more important, increased knowledge of how

the human body functions, spine injury is not so final. Case by case,

biomedical engineering is achieving improvements that three short

years ago would have been thought of as nothing short of miraculous.

Not only biotech firms, but researchers as well, have been scrambling

to keep up with progress in spinal repair. To aid both expert and

informed layman in this quest, Stevens Institute is hosting the 31st

annual Bioengineering Conference on Saturday, April 2, at 8:30 a.m. at

the Institute’s Howe Center in Hoboken. Cost: $195. Student price $95.

Call 201-216-5546.

Featured speakers include Naomi Kleitman, program director at the

National Institutes of Health’s Neurological Disorder and Stroke

Center; Herbert M. Geller, head of developmental biology for the

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and P. Hunter Peckham,

executive director of the Cleveland Functional Stimulation Center.

Kleitman, who will be presenting an overview of spinal cord injury,

takes a refreshingly human approach to her research. After almost 30

years in the lab, she enthusiastically reports, "I think the greatest

part of my work has been getting to meet so many patients with

enormous fortitude who have labored and achieved so much."

Spending her first years in New Brunswick, Kleitman moved to

California at age 12 and graduated from the University of California

in l977 with a B.S. in biology and psychology. She then earned a Ph.D.

in neuroscience from the University of Illinois, followed by

postdoctoral work at Washington University in St. Louis.

It was here that she met her mentors, Richard and Mary Bungee, and

followed them, as scientific liaison, into the Miami Project to Cure

Paralysis. "It was an amazing 12 years," she recalls, "We did

everything from molecular to physical therapy with hundreds of very

hard-working patients." For the last three years Kleitman has served

as a program director in repair and plasticity for the National

Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Most of us view the victim of a spinal cord injury as a person who

cannot will his legs to move because the nerves simply do not connect.

Though true as far as it goes, Kleitman points out, it often remains

but one tragic symptom. "Until you have seen several individuals with

spinal cord injuries, you cannot believe the quality of life issues

involved," she says.

Beyond paralysis. The same neural system that controls skeletal

muscles in arms and legs also commands breathing, kidney and bladder

functions, and the entire autonomic system. If, for example, the

digestive muscles cannot rid waste, the body may self-poison. In many

cases, cholesterol levels rise to injurious levels after spinal

injuries, although some of this can be reversed with aided exercise.

Sadly, the fact that the nerves are cut does not preclude pain.

Frequently a spinal injury sufferer experiences continuous stabbing

pain, itching, or a burning sensitivity to even light clothing in the

very areas over which he has lost control. He may not feel the

external touch of your finger, but the pain within burns

unremittingly. And because these pains are not neurally induced, drugs

offer no alleviation.

The severed links. Most paralysis takes place for one of two reasons.

First, nerves directly connected to certain muscles become injured and

the brain’s signal fails to connect at that point. When this happens,

muscles begin to atrophy. Simple resistive exercises can help in some

cases, explains Kleitman, but the results are limited.

Second, and more commonly, the signal becomes cut due to injury

somewhere between the brain and the spinal cord itself. In both types

of injury, a combination of therapies can prove successful.

Redirected function. "The reason we can walk and chew gum at the same

time," says Kleitman, "is that we walk with our spines and we chew gum

with our brain." That is, we intellectually opt to chew. Walking,

however, involves an original impetus signal from the brain, but the

continual flow of signals to the various muscle groups is handled by

the spine below.

When parts of the cord are cut, the original walking circuitry is

lost. But with a little stimulation, the brain can be taught to go

around the old network and send the walking signal via a new route.

Through both electronic stimulation and physical therapy, the brain

can be encouraged to create new walking patterns.

Nerve seduction. "When a nerve is cut, it’s like the string on a

yo-yo," says Kleitman. "All the necessary nutrients and myelin sheath

(neural insulation) instantly separate and cannot be manually

re-connected." However, the frayed nerve ends can be enticed to

reconnect through several regenerative techniques.

By use of stem cells or other biomaterial, scientists can form a

milieu for what they term "come hither molecules." Just like a flower

leaning toward the sun, this neurotrophic mix lures the frayed ends to

grow towards each other. The nerve endings say to themselves, as

Kleitman puts it with a smile, "Oh, I sniff a beneficial chemical over

there. I think I’ll grow toward those nutrients."

Plasticity. It is a myth that the brain and its nerves are strongly

unionized. Yes, there is one primary center for many functions,

interpreting touch, for example, or speaking. But if one part becomes

injured or overloaded, the neighboring gray cells have proven

themselves more than willing to share the load. The same has proved

true with nerve endings. When the index finger and thumb become

paralyzed, often the two neighboring fingers can be trained to

interpret sensitivity not only for themselves, but also for the

injured digits as well.

The human body is capable of amazing repair. For bioengineers like

Kleitman, healing has become a process of learning how this astounding

human machine works and giving it a delicately encouraging nudge in

the right direction.

by Bart Jackson

Top Of PageVictims of Dumbsizing

‘There’s just too much dumbsizing going on in American business," says

Donna Coulson. "All of our intellectual capital is being dumped out in

favor of personnel that are cheaper, fresher, and more stupid – well,

inexperienced, at least." Coulson, who heads her own Red Bank-based

executive training firm, complains that business is slitting its own

throat by waging a continual price war against high priced baby

boomers, and by dismissing entire unprofitable sectors, without a look

towards the talent therein.

For those who have been downsized, outsourced, sidesourced, or just

plain fired, Coulson proffers a job seeking strategy that depends more

on leg and brain work, and less on excursions into cyberspace. Instead

of just lunging at the first job that turns up, Coulson suggests a

broader campaign in her talk, "How to Use Your Transitioning Time to

Upgrade Your Skills," on Saturday, April 2, at 8:30 a.m. at St. Paul’s

Catholic Church on Nassau Street. The talk, sponsored by the church’s

Career Networking Group, is free. Call 609-924-1743.

Coulson’s own career has had its share of transitional shifts.

Brooklyn born, Coulson got a somewhat delayed collegiate start due to

her strong will and a strange pact made by her parents. "My father was

a self-professed Virginia hill billy who before World War II was the

sheriff of Prince George County," she says. "He came north to marry a

young, pretty, ambitious Brooklyn striver." Coulson’s mother insisted

that they would pay for any level of their daughter’s education,

provided that it led to either teaching or nursing. Coulson, however,

with equal vehemence aimed her career toward human resources. It

became a stalemate: no funding, no college.

In the end, fate stepped in, and when Donna was 25 her mother died,

leaving her an inheritance, which she used to attend Douglass, where

she earned a bachelor’s degree in communications (Class of 1977) and

then an MBA in labor relations and organizational behavior.

From there she has had a wild, generally upward, career trajectory,

including a host of well used transitional times. Starting out in

human resources, she worked for AT&T’s Bell Labs, then Johnson &

Johnson. Later, as human resource trainer for Prudential Insurance,

she edited the company’s field service magazine. At PSE&G she became

the sole woman on a labor negotiating team. Since 2000 she has run

Donna Coulson & Associates in Red Bank, a company that trains

executives and aids white collar job searchers.

"The first thing not to do," says Coulson, "is to tell people that you

are unemployed. It will not inspire friends to network for you.

Rather, they will treat you like the plague and potential employers

will treat you like a failure." The attitude should be: Your working

life has not ended forever, but is in transition to another new job.

Coulson’s advice is to employ this in-between time well, rather than

seek merely to make it short.

Bid Monster bye. "Get away from the computer!" commands Coulson. "The

odds of your finding the job you really want online are between slim

and none." The latest surveys show that at most only 4 percent of

American job searchers find their new career on the Internet.

Additionally, online searching sets you in the mental framework of

slot-filling. The attitude of "Here’s a job I can perform" tends to

take precedence over seeking the career you actually want. It also

takes you out of the human and business loops. It is good to scan the

print and online classifieds briefly, if only to discern new trends,

but only after spending a full day out of the house. But spending all

day in your bunny slippers staring into the screen will only drag you

further down.

Don’t rush back to work. Instead, take some time to think, even dream

and scribble. Outline the work environments you want – there may be

several scenarios. What kind of people do you feel most comfortable

among? Do you thrive in more cutthroat atmosphere? Or are you happiest

in a collegial office?

Play detective. Of course you will study the business journals to

discern new opportunities and trends. But don’t take to heart

everything you read. Developing typewriter ribbons may be a career for

which you were born too late. But just because two major investment

firms have cut their investment counseling staff by two-thirds, does

not necessarily shatter that career as a viable possibility.

Coulson recommends that you make your job searches company-specific

and somewhat furtive. "Before you set out wrangling a meeting with the

firm’s president," she suggests, "find a receptionist, line worker –

anybody in the plant. They can tell you what you’ll never hear from

the upper levels." By chatting with the security guard, you can

discern the general attitude toward employees.

How much access do workers have to management and supervisors? To

upper management? What is the overall environment? What are the

company’s ethics? If you know anyone in the clerical or managerial

staff, you may even find out why folks come to work here, who leaves

and why, and even what type of individual your potential supervisor

is.

For the perceptive job seeker, these chats are invaluable. "It’s a

real time-saver," says Coulson, "because you do not want to make a

mismatch. Working for the wrong corporate culture, or under the wrong

boss, is an absolute guarantee against success." Do not be enticed by

the work alone. You do not labor in a vacuum.

Volunteer. Not all fulfilling work is done for profit. Nothing is so

effective in breaking the unemployment funk as devoting your arms and

brain to an altruistic task. And, showing up on time, shaved, in a

clean shirt has benefits beyond the emotional. It provides an ideal

job-search network.

Think about it: who volunteers at libraries, political campaigns,

local theaters, and arts groups, hospital fetes, and various health

and foreign aid charities? Executives and spouses ranging from lawyers

and CPAs to purchasing agents to pharmacological researchers. If you,

as say a potential subcontractor, need to cast your net a bit wider,

try the rescue squad, volunteer fire department, and the scouts. And

of course, do not forget your municipal government. Lawyers have used

this technique for decades to garner clients; why not use it to

uncover potential employers or leads?

Think about how to present yourself. When you find that smiling fate

has set you stuffing envelopes beside a corporate vice-president in

charge of recruitment, the tendency is to pounce. First tell your

fellow volunteer that you are unemployed. Follow this up with a few

excuses and criticisms of your former employers and why they were

idiots to fire so talented a person as you. Then beginning with your

earliest days, assault him with your entire history, including each

and every skill you own, real and imagined. Sound stupid? "Well,"

laughs Coulson, "that’s what 90 percent of people do."

Instead of such a frontal attack, Ms. Coulson advises that you

initially form a relationship based on the current work. If it’s at a

library, ask him what he reads. Then gently, but with honest

curiosity, ask about his work and if he enjoys it. Then, only after

you have allowed him to reveal enough so that you can decide whether

his is a company for which you would like to work, mention that you

would like to come visit his workplace sometime.

The search for a job invariably carries with it the burden of your

last termination. It is easy to write that this hiatus is an

opportunity to examine options and explore new tangents. Such advice

is invariably given by people who already have jobs. Yet, if you can

stay calm and poke in some new corners, you may just find that sweet

match that will make both your employer and you anxious to avoid any

further transitions.

by Bart Jackson

Top Of PageJob Hunters Need Marketing Tools

Haskell Rhett, retired president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, now

spends a good portion of his time in placing candidates on the boards

of non-profits. He is also increasingly involved in Jobseekers, the

venerable networking and education group for people looking for new

jobs, which was founded by Niels Nielsen, of Princeton Management

Consultants, in 1982.

"We try to work in what kind of week everyone has had – that’s where

the support group comes in," says Rhett, who has volunteered with

JobSeekers for the past two years.

The next presentation, "Creating a Marketing Plan for Your Job

Search," takes place on Tuesday, April 5, at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity

Church in Princeton. The speaker is Judy Dowd, vice president of

professional services for the Princeton office of Lee, Hecht

Harrison, an international career management firm, which provides

outplacement services to corporations undergoing downsizing or

restructuring. There is no cost. For more information, call

609-924-2277, or go online to groups.yahoo.com/groups/njJobSeekers to

register and share information.

"I’m a big fan of a marketing plan for job searches," says Dowd. "In

order to conduct an effective job search you need to know precisely

who you’re trying to reach. That’s just as true for someone trying to

get a job as it is for a company trying to sell a product.

"Anyone who feels their search has been unproductive and unfocused

would benefit from this," says Dowd. "Attendees will learn how to

develop the backbone of a plan, or road map. Obviously we won’t be

able to complete it in just one evening, but job seekers will come

away with an understanding of what a marketing plan can do for them,

what are a plan’s components, how to begin to identify where they can

get the information they’re going to need."

Typically, four factors define a job search target: the type of

industry, the size of the company, where it is located, and the

culture of an organization. Once targets are identified, the marketing

begins:

Write it down. "Having a written marketing plan saves time and helps

establish criteria for the companies or organizations that you feel

are most likely to be a good fit," says Dowd. "All of your activity

needs to be focused on getting into those companies. If your plan is

just in your head, it’s difficult to use as a tool. Once you have it

on paper, you have a road map for how you’re going to spend your

time."

Also, when you network, you need to be clear about who you are and

what you’re trying to find. It’s really hard for people to help you if

they’re not clear about what you’re looking for – and a marketing plan

will help you articulate that.

Define yourself. To get started, Dowd advises a first step of

identifying what it is you actually do, and including that in a

summary positioning statement. Next, take a look at your competencies

and skills. Which ones are you most interested in using and in what

kind of functions? Then get ready to do more in-depth work on the four

factors.

"People need to identify what fits those four criteria for them

personally, then they actually begin identifying companies that match.

By identifying those companies that are most likely to be most

interested in a individual like you, it changes your search to one

that’s proactive."

Work the search, but not too hard. Job seekers should devote as much

effort to their search as they did to their job. "We recommend 25 to

30 hours a week, because it’s easy to burn out. Let’s face it, job

seekers face a lot of rejection, more than they would ever face in the

workplace. They also have less control over what happens than in their

regular work. Because professionals are used to making things happen,

it can be quite frustrating to have to wait for someone to get back to

you, or wait for decisions."

Lean on structure. For some people who have lost or left their jobs,

the hardest part is knowing where to start. Because they’ve lost a

structure that’s very familiar, until they replace that structure,

they are in a kind of limbo. Once they have a marketing plan on paper

(or computer screen), each day when they sit down, the plan gives them

structure back.

That marketing plan helps organize your networking, your resume, and

what websites you’ll visit. By asking yourself what you need to do

next to get into a particular firm, your plan can be broken down into

required tasks for each day, week and month. At the end of the month,

you’ll be able to gauge how close you came to your goals, and if you

didn’t meet them, it’s time to tweak or modify your plan. That way,

you don’t continue spinning your wheels on something that’s not

working.

Because you may have different talents, skills and experiences, it’s

pretty common for people to have a Plan A and Plan B. "Then the

challenge is to determine how to divide your time between plans," says

Dowd. You might spend 70 percent of your time working Plan A. This

allows you to divide your day and your week appropriately. But make

sure to work both plans them simultaneously, just in case Plan A

fails." You don’t want to have to start all over from scratch. You

want to be well along with Plan B.

Be careful not to burn out. In addition to job hunting, job searchers

should be getting plenty of rest. "Use this time to recharge your

batteries, conduct life-planning, reconnect with family and friends

for their support, and do fun things. You need balance even more when

things are not under your control," says Dowd.

She also suggests taking advantage of JobSeekers and of similar

groups. "It’s great to be around other people who understand what

you’re going through," says Dowd.

Adds Rhett, "People in the JobSeekers group are real experts and I’ve

learned an awful lot just by being with them. I am amazed at their

resilience and positive outlook – which some of them attribute to this

group. They are just really good people with outstanding character who

say, `This too will pass, and I’m going to get a job.’

And when it does pass, each JobSeekers member has to make good on a

promise he agreed to at his first meeting. A tray of home-baked

cookies, deliverable when a good job is reeled in, is a requirement of

membership.

by Fran Ianacone

Top Of PageState Awards Rider $500,000

Rider University has been awarded $500,000 in state funding to support

three projects – two for its Lawrenceville campus and one for its

Westminster Choir College campus – through a New Jersey State

Legislature initiative from the 2004 fiscal budget.

For the Lawrenceville campus, Rider has been awarded $100,000 to

create a searchable database of 2,500 digital images from Flip

Schulke’s historic photojournalistic collection.

Schulke is one of the country’s premier photojournalists who

chronicled the lives of national and international figures and major

historical events. He photographed Fidel Castro, John F. Kennedy, U.S.

space flight history, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Muhammad Ali,

Jacques Costeau, and Aquasphere, but is best known for his

documentation of the Civil Rights Movement. He covered nearly every

major civil rights story in the South from the 1950s until Dr. Martin

Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968.

Also included in the grant is $100,000 for programming in the Rider

Science Education and Literacy Center, which was established in 1999

to improve the preparation and continuing education of K-12 science

and mathematics teachers in the region.

For the Princeton campus, $300,000 will fund the installation of a

full-fire suppression system, including sprinklers, at Talbott

Library.

Top Of PageApply, Please

Jumpstart New Jersey Angel Network has announced the opening of the

2005 Jumpstart 250 Competition. Early-stage companies in New Jersey,

Pennsylvania, New York, and Delaware are eligible to compete for an

investment of $250,000.

The competition targets technology companies. Professional venture

capital and angel investors review all applications. Through this

visibility, all applicants have an opportunity to obtain funding from

a large network of active investors. This year Jumpstart partners with

the NJTC Venture Fund to sponsor this competition.

Interested entrepreneurs must apply online at www.jumpstartnj.com. The

deadline is Friday, April 15.

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