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Career Makeover

Networking and creativity pay off big in job hunt

After her Career Makeover, Marguerite Gallinaro prepared a PowerPoint presentation for an interview that landed her a job. After her Career Makeover, Marguerite Gallinaro prepared a PowerPoint presentation for an interview that landed her a job. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)
By Cindy Atoji Keene
Globe Correspondent / October 24, 2010

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After a two-year job search, Marguerite Gallinaro recently sat in her Quincy home at a computer, carefully creating a PowerPoint presentation for an upcoming job interview for a marketing position at a small medical device company in South Boston. Then she waited.

Finally, the phone call came: She was offered a position as vice president of marketing at a medical equipment company, which she declined to name.

“I have landed,’’ said Gallinaro, adding that the job ended “24 months of hard work, tons of networking, and seemingly unending online resume submittals.’’

Gallinaro, who came up with the idea of the PowerPoint presentation after getting advice during a Globe Career Makeover in August, later found out that no other job candidate had submitted a PowerPoint like she had, which impressed executives. And besides the offer she accepted, Gallinaro said, three other companies expressed interest in her, including a large nonprofit organization that wanted to hire her as a marketing project manager.

A job offer was a welcome change for Gallinaro. Since she was laid off as a marketing manager from an online retailer of classroom equipment in September of 2008, Gallinaro had participated in a government retraining program, attended endless networking meetings, reworked her resume numerous times, consulted four career coaches, and answered hundreds of job postings. When she met with Boston career specialist Leenie Glickman as part of the Globe Career Makeover, she was frustrated.

“I miss working,’’ she said at the time. “I get energized by my career, and I know I’m a remarkable asset for the right company.’’

Now that Gallinaro has secured a position, she’s able to retrace her steps to see what worked. She believes a key to her successful job search was old-fashioned networking, as recommended by Glickman. Indeed, the networking paid off: When she arrived for the in-person interview at her new employer, she discovered she knew the chief operating officer from a mutual connection in the marketing world.

“We were familiar with each other’s reputations,’’ Gallinaro said.

And the meeting was a very congenial, affable session, Gallinaro said, probably because she kept her people skills sharp, deliberately keeping busy and cultivating close relationships. “I knew not to just sit behind a computer and apply for jobs, because people are the ones making the hiring decisions, not computers.’’

Career coach Glickman applauded Gallinaro for networking and keeping busy while unemployed, which included get-togethers with Rotary and women’s clubs and career and industry groups. Gallinaro’s new job requires developing and managing national, regional, and local connections, and because she’s been so active with volunteer work and organizational meetings, she’ll only continue to build the networks she’s already begun to establish.

“Job hunters need to get out of the house and in front of people,’’ Glickman said.

With almost 500 connections on the social networking website LinkedIn, Gallinaro was ahead of the game, using connections as job search agents. She regularly followed companies on LinkedIn and created Google news searches for any companies she was scheduled to interview with, and as alerts popped up in her box, she had timely material to share.

“It shows that you’re really interested and keep on top of things,’’ Gallinaro said.

Glickman agreed that LinkedIn is helpful as a social media outlet, providing the help to get to a resume in front of a real pair of eyes for consideration.

Thanks to Glickman’s coaching, Gallinaro said, she went into her interviews fully prepared. “Listen to the questions being asked and answer them in enough detail to be convincing and credible,’’ said Glickman during the Career Makeover.

For her new position at the medical device firm, Gallinaro reviewed the company’s website prior to a phone screen, and then took her time to answer the questions appropriately. A week later, when she received an e-mail to come in for the interview, she found herself at ease and comfortable, rather than feeling grilled. She said that she remembered Glickman’s advice: “Lead with your strengths, be clear on expectations, and choose your stories wisely — they should highlight your success in solving similar types of problems.’’

As for that winning PowerPoint presentation that ultimately landed Gallinaro the job? “Whether it’s an Excel spreadsheet, multimedia proposal, portfolio of work, or other supplementary material, this sort of extra effort can separate you from the competition,’’ Glickman said.

Gallinaro, she said it proved she could think outside the box: “I created a road map for the job I wanted that showed I could hit the ground running and get right to work.’’

To be considered for a Career Makeover, send an e-mail to careermakeover@globe.com.

Marguerite Gallinaro
Goal: Successfully parlay Internet marketing experience into an e-marketer management position.

Recommendations from career adviser Leenie Glickman: ■ Balance job search between computer research and in-person meetings to maximize networking.
■ Join groups related to your industry, schedule informational interviews, and seek out career coaches and services.
■ Focus during interviews on skills and qualifications that a company is looking for, based on the job posting or website research.
■ Sequencing is important — lead with your strengths and put the important items first, whether during an interview or in a follow-up e-mail.
■ Use LinkedIn and other online social networking tools to build connections.
■ Take initiative and present supplementary materials, whether portfolio, multimedia presentations, spreadsheets, or proposals.