Connecting digitally on Brazen Careerist’s Network Roulette

Whether you’re settled into a comfortable, fitting career or whether you’re hunting wildly (as I am) for your dream job, you can learn a lot from Brazen Careerist, a social networking site that provides professionals an opportunity to connect with each other in a casual, fun environment. The site recognizes the importance of and establishes the bridge between personal and professional life.

I joined Brazen about a year ago, and while I don’t use it as much as Twitter or Facebook, I do enjoy using it to engage like-minded professionals in stimulating, timely conversation.

One of the most useful features I’ve used on the site is the Network Roulette. Basically, this is a professional version of Chat Roulette, without video. You register for the event, which takes place on your computer at a designated date and time.

Source: http://www.brazencareerist.com

Before logging in, you should make sure your profile and resume are updated. Also, you have the option to answer these questions: What are you seeking? What are you providing? For example, during the blogging Network Roulette I participated in earlier this week, I said I am seeking opportunities to guest blog about social media, marketing and journalism, and I’m providing advice on these topics. Having this information immediately available makes it easier to find out if you should continue talking to this person. Plus, it lets you get to the meat of the conversation right away.

After logging in to the chat and filling out the brief introductory information, you’re matched with another participant in something reminisicent of a private chat room. You’ll have three to five minutes to talk to the person, and then you can “follow” them or ask for further contact information to continue the conversation afterward. The idea is to meet as many people as possible and then to get deeper into conversation with them at a later time.

If you’re a little confused about Brazen Careerist and Network Roulette at this point, no worries. Here’s a list of ways certain groups of people can use the site and that particular tool.

  • Students & Job Seekers: Whether you’re seeking an internship, a post-graduation job or just want to prepare yourself early (a great idea, by the way), you can use this time in your life to build your network as much as possible. But it’s more than just talking to people initially — make sure you follow-up with people you meet via Network Roulette to establish long-lasting relationships that benefit both parties in the long run.
  • College professors and career center staff: With job-seeking students, you likely stress the importance of networking (especially with alumni) frequently. While arranging in-person networking events between students and alumni are ideal, they can be challenge in today’s hectic world. However, Brazen works with colleges to establish Network Roulette events for colleges, which provides an easy way for alumni and students to connect with each other digitally.
  • Employers: Career fairs are great for meeting potential employees, but they can be costly and challenging to organize, and results aren’t guaranteed. While Brazen doesn’t guarantee results, either, the event is at least less costly and less time-consuming, making it a more effective way to find potential job candidates.
  • Life-long Learners: Life is a journey, and people help you enjoy it. On Network Roulette, you can find and connect with people who have similar interests. Rather than resorting to articles or other resources, you can use the people you meet on Brazen to learn more about certain topics.

What other groups might find Network Roulette useful? What do you think of Brazen’s Network Roulette concept?

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Tips for a successful Skype job interview

Job interviews have always been especially challenging and nerve-racking, but video conferencing programs like Skype have added new obstacles to the mix.

When you are asked to do a Skype interview, remember it won’t be too much different from an in-person interview. You still need to communicate your top skills and experiences by answering the questions truthfully like you would in person.  However, after being on both the hiring and hiree side of a Skype job interview, I’ve learned a few things I’d like to pass along.

  1. Before the interview, ask who should call who. If you need to reach out and make the initial call, be sure you have the correct phone number.
  2. Find a properly lighted area. This can be more challenging than it sounds, and even if you get it right from what you can see, it might not be perfect based on the other person’s screen. Do the best you can, and have an adjustable light in the room. When the interview begins, ask the other if he/she can see you clearly and adjust the light if needed.
  3. Alternate eye contact between your webcam and your screen. When talking to someone through video chat, it’s easy to look only at your screen, where you can see the other person. However, on most webcams, this will make it seem like you’re always looking down. While the interviewer will probably understand why you’re always looking down, if you look mostly at the web cam rather than the screen, it will come off that you are making eye contact. It’s hard to get used to, but it shows you are more comfortable with newer technologies and how they work.
  4. Make sure you have a working microphone and headphones in if necessary. Just as you should test out your video connection before beginning, you should test out your incoming and outgoing audio. In this context, picture without sound wouldn’t be very helpful.
  5. Tell others you live or work with that you’ll be doing the Skype job interview. When I did a couple Skype job interviews from home and my mom was also at home during that time. Not only would she know to steer clear of my space at this time, but she could also help to keep the dog from barking, an interruption that, no matter how uncontrollable, could cost a job.
  6. Sit somewhere comfortable that will force you to stay sitting upright and looking professional. Just like in an in-person interview, avoid fidgeting or slouching. No matter how harmless, these actions will take away from the professional nature of the conversation.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephenhackett/3334742968/

Finally, to reiterate, treat a Skype job interview like you would treat an in-person interview. Come prepared to answer and ask questions about the company and the position. Always keep in mind an interview, whether in person or on your laptop, is to see if you might fit the company and vice-versa . Also, in the end, it’s about practicing. The more you use Skype and practice job interviews via webcam, the better you’ll get.

Whether acting as the interviewer or interviewee, what Skype job interview blunders have you encountered?

Is being certified really worth it?

When filling out professional profiles, like my oDesk profile, I always have trouble when it comes to the certifications part. I don’t have any “official” certifications and know little about getting them. Then today I came across a press release from the Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association that said they are offering an online certificate program.

The part that caught my eye: Students have the option to take the program at a significantly reduced price.

The release says the program costs WOMMA members $395 and non-members $550. But students can participate for only $125.

That’s such a price difference, and I’m wondering what others think about the value of certificate programs like WOMMA’s. If it’s really something employers and others like to see, I might consider doing this or something similar within the next couple of months (before I graduate) so I can get the student discount.

So, what do you think? Is being certified in something worth the cost, especially for students?