According to Fortune  Magazine’s 2011 list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, many of those superlative companies have a presence right here in Boston and many of them are  hiring.  So, you jobseekers listen up!   

Boston Consulting Group, headquartered in Boston ranked #2 on the list  (up from #8 last year), is known for its generous compensation package and commitment to social work. BCG currently has 2,000 global job openings in all job categories and practice areas, particularly in the consulting positions. According to Mel Wolfgang, partner of BCG, “a strong candidate will communicate what makes them unique, how they will contribute to our culture and how they will drive impact for our clients.”

Other local companies on the list were #28 Bingham, McCutchen, a law firm prides itself on its diversity and dedication to community service. It also ranked #2 in Big Pay with an annual average salary of  $219,888. Very nice, but is it fun to work there?  Bingham, McCutchen encourages a “playful culture with regular ping pong matches, poker tournaments and it even pays merit
bonuses for demonstrating “office citizenship” or “positive thinking and teamwork”. 
Another strong team culture is at Whole Foods #24 which has openings in all positions, particularly for associate team leaders in stores. Karen Vaglica, associate team member services coordinator, Whole Foods Market global headquarters, serves up some
great job search advice,Our motto is hire for attitude, train for skill. It's important that team members are passionate about our core values and our mission. Know something about WFM and have a genuine interest in the  position you are applying for. Do some research and visit a store if you have not already done so. Show that you have a passion for the job. Be able to give
real-life examples, not just hypothetical answers. Review our website and talk to team members in our stores and find out from them what it is like to work for  the company." 

Also on the list were #84 (up from last year’s #89 spot) Bright Horizons (Watertown) which encourages collaboration among employees, #76 Gilbane construction company headquartered in Providence, RI which awards its employees on-the-job, safety prizes, #59 Hasbro of Mr. Potato Head fame in Pawtucket, RI gives all employees half-day Fridays and four hours of paid time each month to work with children)and #96 MITRE (Bedford) a non-profit research center with a very generous retirement plan that gives their employees up to 80% to 100% of their final salary annually in retirement. The company matches up to 12% of employees’ retirement savings with immediate vesting. MITRE also ranked #17 in Big Pay with an average annual salary of $127,734 and has generous training programs. Then there is #73 PriceWaterhouseCoopers (Boston), praised by its employees for their flexibility “you can work from just about anywhere”, training and ethics. PWC is looking to fill positions in advisory, tax, accounting and other professional services. One hint from Holly Paul, US Recruiting Leader, when interviewing at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, “don’t be afraid to demonstrate your passions and your personal brand”.

Ms. Paul, that’s great advice in any career search.

(photo courtesy of NBC)

Theresa Harrigan, the director of the Boston College Career Center, has a lot to boast about. According to a survey of a recent graduating Boston College class, only 5% were still seeking employment. Approximately 95% of those who responded are involved in other activities such as working full-time, attending graduate school full-time, volunteering full-time or engaged in a fellowship or post-graduate internship. That’s a pretty impressive number given our sluggish economy. Some of the top employers were PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Teach for America, Deloitte Consulting, Ernst & Young, Bank of America, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, JP Morgan Chase, KPMG, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Mass General Hospital, Hanover Insurance and Fidelity. About 35% of the respondents said they found their position through the programs offered by the BC Career Center. 77% of the respondents noted their employment in the Boston area and the Northeast.

Theresa has been counseling college students on their careers in the Boston area going  on 26 years. She has worked at Northeastern University, Simmons College and has been at Boston College shaping the vision for their career center since 2001.
Her BC center offers to BC undergrads and grads out five years a plethora of free services including career counseling, resume critiques, mock interviews and job and internship databases. She recommends to any recent grad out there job  hunting to first access the Career Center at his or her university. Ms. Harrigan notes that indeed there are outside companies that can perform similar services, but emphasizes that college career center services are free to their community and you can't buy better career expertise. The old adage "you get what you pay  for" doesn't work here. In fact, many outside fee-based placement companies
often direct their clients to access their own alma mater’s career center to  obtain vital networking contacts. 

Boston College’s Career Center and most other university career centers have alumni career networks with select alumni who are willing to offer career advice and even find jobs and internships for undergrads and recent grads.  Harrigan says these alumni have a vested interest in helping a fellow grad and can be “internal advocates” within a company, making sure that a certain resume gets in front of the right hiring manager. Clearly, networking is the most effective way to get a job. Lots of statistics are out there, but most report that at least 60% of all jobs are found by networking. Networking with alumni should be one of the first points of attack in a job search says Harrigan. So, check out the resources at your alma mater’s career center. You won’t believe what’s available!

If  you are looking to jumpstart, relaunch or change your career, there is an  excellent self-starter book written by Laurence Shatkin, PhD, called "2011 Career Plan, The  Best Moves Now for a Solid Future." It's a very accessible and motivational book  whose tone Mr. Shatkin says he "deliberately modeled after Suze Orman's". In a  step by step format, Mr. Shatkin exhorts his readers to take action or "take aim" with a simple self-assessment to develop your own career-personality. He then gives detailed career information on large career fields and specific occupations. Finally he presents a "gap analysis" of the gap between you and  your goal with excellent and concrete advice and resources on how to fill that  gap. This book enables you to take personal and immediate charge of your career  in a positive and realistic approach. 

Being  realistic is critical in any career move. Mr. Shatkin believes that  realistically and proactively choosing where you live is very important to your  career success. He sees Boston as a hotbed for career development, mainly because of its creativity and economic activity. This bodes well for its ability  to create and sustain employment in our area. He cites computer systems design  and related services, scientific research and development and software  publishers as particularly strong careers in the Boston area.

Unlike Thomas  Friedman who told us that globalization is flattening the world and that  location doesn't really matter, Mr. Shatkin cites Richard Florida, who wrote the book, Who's Your City?  How the Creative Economy is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of  Your Life. In his book, Mr. Florida believes that rather than flat, the world is  spiky and that location is even more important than ever before. Where we chose  to live determines our access to certain jobs and career paths, our friends and  our lifestyles. Mr. Florida rates Boston as one of the top 5 best large cities  for young singles (ages 20 - 29), families with children, empty-nesters (ages 45 - 64) and retirees (over 65 years of age).   Mr.  Shatkin also notes that most creation of jobs and actual hiring are done in  small, new companies. Boston is a breeding ground for startups with its  entrepreneurial culture, major educational institutions and lively venture  capital community. Mr. Shatkin says that another indicator of Boston's  creativity and entrepreneurship is its consistently large number of patent  filings. 

So, getting going! There's lots of creativity and energy in Boston to  jumpstart your career!

I’ll always remember my childhood neighbor Red O’Brien.  Every kid in the  neighborhood was in awe of him.  He was much older than I, say 15 years or so,  and we had nothing in common except that our backyards were abutting.  The thing  about Red that was so captivating was that Red could tell the best dang stories  to us neighborhood kids.  Those “booky dories” as my little brother Brendan  called them, kept us up for nights on end. We would sit there mesmerized, mouths  open, probably drooling, as he passionately spun his tales of abandoned houses,  secret rooms, runaway convicts, and what happened to kids who stayed out beyond  their parents’ curfew.  Phew… still gives me chills thinking about them.

Good storytelling is powerful.   Of course, the better  the story the more memorable it is. 

So, the lesson learned here is that if you want to be remembered, it doesn’t  hurt to have a good story and to tell it well.  All of us already have personal  stories that reveal who we really are.   In marketing language it’s called our  personal brand.  The key is to craft those  stories so that other people want to hear them and, even better, share them.  What are yours?  How do you make them memorable so that you won’t be forgotten  by that influential recruiter, employer, boss? 

Hint:  It starts with the word P-A-S-S-I-O-N.

 I am on the startup team of an online marketplace called the Daily Grommet.  At Daily Grommet, we produce each day a new story about a person and his or her passion.  Our job is to search, search, search  until we reach that Holy Grail, their passion (maybe we should call ourselves  Daily Passion?) By digging deeper and deeper into why that person started that  business and getting to that energy, we are able to craft stories that we know  our community will connect with and want to support.

 In the same way, telling authentic stories about yourself and your  experiences is the best way to connect with that influential person.  An  employer has a tough job sifting through candidates looking for that one with  whom they can relate.  By sharing stories you give the listener a memorable  EXPERIENCE.  You can bring them in to connect on a personal level as they see
themselves in your story.  You want the listener to EXPERIENCE the story, not  just listen to it.  When you show your passion with transparency and  authenticity, you also reveal traits like competency and confidence and specific  interpersonal and learning skills.  Now those are traits and skills an employer  can relate to!

 A really compelling story changes a person; it broadens his horizon and is  very persuasive.  There’s lots of science behind storytelling that describes how  a person’s state of consciousness changes with a good story.  Some stories are  familiar and evoke memories in the listener, “Yes, I have been there too.”    Others can be an engaging novelty to the listener that makes them wonder, “Wow,  could I do that?” 

As Scott Simon of NPR says, every good story should have a point (not a  lesson or a moral) with vivid details that a person can take away to retell the story.

So, what kind of personal branding stories do you have and how do you  construct them? 

First, I would suggest that you have your overall story of who you are and  how you came to be sitting in front of this person telling your story.  For me,  I’m the youngest of a big Irish Catholic family of 13.  My family shaped me in  so many ways. (We could have written the script to Survivor with a generous  portion of Catholic guilt.)  Keep it interesting but make sure you are succinct.  For your vignettes around that particular job conversation, it’s critical that you understand your listener and what would really ring her bell!  That means  you have to do some work in the form of RESEARCH.  Scrutinize the company  website, review the job description, Linkin with the person, follow them and the  company on Twitter and get a sense of who they are and what they need and what  they would think is relevant.  Then do an inventory of your own experiences and  accomplishments both professional and personal and start thinking about stories  relevant to your listener. 

Next, you should focus on unique situations or challenges that you have faced  and vividly and succinctly describe:

  • The circumstances with some colorful details,
  • What you did to address the situation and why you chose that route – this is  where you really show your passion… use action verbs
  • How you solved the problem or accomplished the task with tangible results.   Make sure you leave the listener with a “doggie bag” they can take away to tell
    others about you.

Have fun telling your stories.  Speak conversationally. Be friendly.   Don’t  sound professorial or condescending or worse yet, BORING!  You are trying to  relate to your listener who you are (your personal brand) by sharing an  experience with them.  Draw them in, be real, and show your passion.  Your  unique personal brand will shine through and you will be remembered.  Just like  Red O’Brien.