Monday, November 13, 2017

Nothing Replaces a Handshake


For the sake of convenience, we forego even the most basic activities. I suppose it is human nature; if it saves time then why not, right? However, in exchange for these conveniences there is a negative impact that can and is affecting us. Time and effort-saving shortcuts have an unanticipated side-effect, which have, in just one generation, detrimentally affected the soft skills and interpersonal communication skills of most people engaged on both sides of the interview and hiring process.
These shortcuts delay and prevent us from the core purpose of the interview and decision-making process; informed decisions can only be made with face-to-face interaction between candidate and hiring manager. I witness that time-savers often end up as time-wasters.
There is an old axiom in business and it is: Time Kills All Deals. If a company drags out the interview process, the applicant/candidate loses interest with a situation that fails to move with purpose and sometimes gets distracted by another opportunity. Likewise, when a candidate drags his or her feet for whatever reason, any earlier and previously built up interest and enthusiasm the hiring manager might have had, begins to wane and fades – this is also human nature.
No doubt, people are busy and even with all the shortcuts and tools available, they are multi-tasking more than ever. But I watch both sides with text messages and emails, delaying the in-person interaction about things that could be easily addressed and resolved in-person, which they’ve got to do at some point, anyway. Never mind the fact that text-related communications using a typed word, can be and often are taken out of context with unintended and mistaken perceptions.  
The kind of recruiting work I engage in means that I am as much a project manager (of the process) as I am a recruiter. Increasingly I work to keep both parties focused because many times these processes would fall apart without my active involvement. Sometimes I have to call one side or the other or both and say, “Would you two just arrange to meet and get together already”. During the interview process your goal is to make an informed decision regardless of on which side of the process you find yourself. There is no substitute for engaging in-person, face-to-face, period, and no gimmicks or academic psychobabble rationalizations can change this basic truth. The most important reason for this is simple: the jobs specs matter, true, a person’s experience matters, of course, but if the person does not fit the company or organizational culture – or there is no personal chemistry between hiring manager and employee, the result will be little more than a waste of time for people who don’t have much of it to waste.
If you think this topic has relevance and you would like to be better prepared and improve your chances; to have the information available for quick reference or someone you know will need it - then no question about it, you need my handbook. Think of it as a career survival guide providing useful and effective tips for every step of the job search and interview process, ready when you will need it. It is recently updated and there’s stuff in it you’ll find nowhere else; you can find more information here: Control Your Career

Monday, October 16, 2017

Why Are You There?


The next time you arrive at a job interview, ask yourself why you are there. It sounds insultingly simple, however, may I suggest that you are not there to sit mute and only answer questions asked of you. Nor are you there to offer the bare minimum of information and say as little as possible. In short, you’re not a piece of furniture, so don’t be one, which circles us back to the question of: why are you there?
I am hoping you’re there because you choose to be and you want to leave the impression that you are interested in, or at least to learn more about the opportunity they are offering. Your objective, your goal, is to leave an impression such that you will be invited /elevated to the next step in the hiring process of further evaluation and not the process of elimination. Regardless of whether you will ultimately decide to go forward – you should seek to move forward.
From where I sit and reflect on the last 25 years I have been recruiting, job seekers are not only less prepared than ever, they are also more lifeless and mute than ever and it shows when they interview. Meanwhile, companies are growing more frustrated than ever with management lamenting the shortage of qualified, interested and effective candidates. They don’t say there is a shortage of bodies; there are a lot of people, yes, but far fewer who demonstrate themselves to be worthy of further consideration. This fact can be a big advantage for the person who wants to do well and makes a real effort.
I lecture to groups and consult with individuals and teach them the finer points of interviewing and negotiating in their own best interest. Sadly, however, more and more people lack the basic skills to be effective. So, let’s keep it simple; here’s my challenge to everyone engaging in the activity of looking for a new job:
Don’t blend in with the furniture; instead, actively participate with the hiring manager(s) during the entire interview process, at every stage. If that sounds easy than why do so few people do it. For example: you can start by not predictably reciting your resume, a copy of which they already have.
Here’s a novel idea and something to contemplate: during the interview, using your resume only as a point of reference, talk about and describe all the stuff that is NOT on your resume. After all, isn’t the resume a mere condensed synopsis of your career – surely, there is more to you than what little is described on a piece of paper. Elaborate, elucidate, accentuate and illustrate who you are, why you are there and why they should invite you back. Making a conscious effort to do this and involve yourself more fully, will propel you beyond everyone else, who simply show up to attend an interview.
If you think this topic has relevance and you would like to be better prepared and improve your chances; to have the information available for quick reference or someone you know will need it - then no question about it, you need my handbook. Think of it as a career survival guide providing useful and effective tips for every step of the job search and interview process, ready when you will need it. It is recently updated and there’s stuff in it you’ll find nowhere else; you can find more information here: Control Your Career

Monday, September 11, 2017

For Your Own Sake…


Have you recently or do you plan to apply for a new job? Well when you do, don’t just fire off a resume and then sit around waiting for the call – follow-up. Whenever and however you are able, you should seek out someone who would be responsible for hiring and interviewing for the position you seek. I recognize you likely sent your resume into that black hole that is replying to online job posts, but there should be a source and anytime the company is listed, that’s where you’ll start. If you use a recruiter or an agency ask of the representative when they will follow up with you and/or when you can follow up with them. Now, recognize in the current climate they may react with a bit of surprise, because most people accept sitting around like a dog waiting to be thrown a bone. I am not criticizing, not at all. But the job seeker has been relegated to the shadows and is only supposed to answer when called upon – like it or not that is where most of us find ourselves.
 
But know this: there is nothing wrong with what I am suggesting. You have every right to follow up in your own self-interest, not least of which because if you feel you are suitable and have an elevated interest in whatever job you’ve applied for, pursue it. 

·        If you applied online for a generically-listed position there isn’t much you can do

·        Best if you can determine the name of the hiring manager;  that is your target

·        If you are being represented by someone, that is with whom you should follow-up 

Granted, some people might react with surprise because most people just don’t do it. If you’re a fraidy-cat (children’s slang for someone who is afraid or phobic) about doing what I suggest, no problem, you don’t have to do anything, I am simply sharing what works for some people and what I do, as a rule. But key to this strategy is that if and when you speak with someone you need to have something substantive to say. Two weeks is when I suggest to follow-up. If you are represented by someone, shorten it to a week. This can also help you to determine the level of urgency to fill the position, an important consideration that I can discuss in another article. 

·        State briefly but concisely why you are following up

·        With a simple opening sentence, introduce yourself or identify yourself to someone to whom you’ve previously spoken, and state the reason for your call (which is to follow up regarding the position title of the posting number).

·        Request the next step or when you might be able to proceed to the next step

·        Ask if they require additional information

·        Thank them for their time 

As with all strategies I suggest, they all have value and they all can work but they do not work every time. Be adaptable and be prepared and adjust as necessary. The worst that can happen is to be told “no”, eh?  But sometimes getting a “no” is better than (hearing) nothing. And then, move on.
 
If you think this topic has relevance and you would like to be better prepared and improve your chances; to have the information available for quick reference or someone you know will need it - then no question about it, you need my handbook. Think of it as a career survival guide providing useful and effective tips for every step of the job search and interview process, ready when you will need it. It is recently updated and there’s stuff in it you’ll find nowhere else; you can find more information here: Control Your Career

Monday, August 28, 2017

Asking for More


Lately I’ve encountered a few people who’ve shared with me that they want to ask their bosses for either a pay raise or a promotion. Perhaps, being the end of summer, peoples’ minds revert back to work and career. Whether you are seeking more responsibility, more training and qualifications, a pay raise or a promotion – there is a right way to go about it and then, there is what everyone else does. Whenever this topic comes up I ask them, “What will you do and say when you’ll speak with your boss?” It’s a rhetorical question of course, because most people might have formulated in their mind why they think they deserve a pay or responsibility increase but few articulate it when it comes time to talk to the boss.
You need to lay the ground-work, or set the stage before you make your move. Just asking for something isn’t going to get you what you want, no matter how entitled you may or may not be.
I want to share with you the right way to go about it because it is never just about asking for something on a whim with no plan or pre-meditation, which is what most people do. If you act no different than everyone else, you’ll be treated like everyone else. At least that’s what your boss thinks unless you provide evidence to the contrary.
There is a simple formula you should follow that will vastly improve your chances of success in gaining what you seek. I love the Feature-Accomplishment-Benefit formula presentation method. I consider it the cornerstone to any goal-oriented work effort by which you wish to sway people toward your thinking. It’s not a ploy or a game; it is a reasonable and professional way to bring you closer to what you, yourself, feel you’ve earned.
I could go on and on about this method because it is so useful in many aspects of business. But to simplify it for the sake of a short article, think of it this way: “Feature” just means what you’ve been doing, assuming you’ve been doing a good job for your employer. “Accomplishment” translates to just that; what have you accomplished in addition to your normal job functions. I am assuming that you have and are performing well, which is why you want to ask for more money or responsibility. And the “Benefit” part is what your accomplishment has done to affect the team or company in a positive way.
So think about it -- before you ask for something more or new from your boss, you’re setting it up so that you can remind and/or justify why you have earned what you are seeking. Consider that if you follow the formula that I describe, you are giving your boss less wiggle room to wave you off because you are reminding them of your value as a good employee – you’re already half-way to getting what you seek because you’ve shared why you probably do deserve consideration at the very least. Win or lose you have demonstrated that you are serious. Does it work every time, nope. But it beats the hell out of, “um, I want more money, can I get a raise?”
If you think this topic has relevance and you would like to be better prepared and improve your chances; to have the information available for quick reference or someone you know will need it - then no question about it, you need my handbook. Think of it as a career survival guide providing useful and effective tips for every step of the job search and interview process, ready when you will need it. It is recently updated and there’s stuff in it you’ll find nowhere else; you can find more information here: Control Your Career

Monday, August 14, 2017

That “Entitlement” Thing


It’s one thing to possess confidence built on merit, accomplishment and perseverance. But quite another, according to mere baseless expectations … just, because.

Perhaps, I can’t say for sure, it is a result of things attained too easily, rewards presented frivolously to make someone feel good about themselves. But I do know that the phenomenon of self-entitlement is an obstacle to companies and even more so to job seekers with an over-inflated view of their own abilities. Ironically, it seems the younger the person the more entitlement they feel – which to my experienced eye, seems a little backward. 

A growing problem, and one I hear about almost every time I speak with senior-level managers, is the unrealistic demands of young job applicants, who’ve done little more than complete their university studies. True, some business sectors have shortages and as a result job seekers can ask more than others – hey, go for it if that is the case. And I am not diminishing the attainment of a college degree, oh no, far from it. But the power of possessing an undergraduate degree was greater when fewer people had them, say, until the mid-1970s. Today, if we are honest about it, if you can pay for a degree you’ll get a degree and having a degree doesn’t make the person but, rather, what they do with that degree. As a fresh or recent graduate, most haven’t yet done much in their profession of choice to boast about. But now I am straying off topic.  

 If you feel you are deserving of something more than others with your same length of experience, you’d better be prepared to back it up with proof, or in the parlance of experienced recruiters and hiring managers, have a documented and provable track record of success to back up your claims. Otherwise, what you feel you are entitled to is simply a personal wish list. I meet many people who expect a lot but I don’t see these same people getting the job offers they are sure they deserve. 

Hiring managers have a duty to manage the expectations of applicants as well as employees seeking elevation and advancement. So that when the process reaches the job offer stage, the hiring manager and potential employee have the same understanding and not two people with very different ideas, resulting in time wasted for both sides.  

If you have earned the right to ask for something better, because you have outperformed your peers, then before you interview or talk to your boss, you need to formulate your position in such a manner as to demonstrate why you are worthy. If you are young and perhaps you don’t yet have any/many accomplishments about which you can boast, then I have a suggestion. Get an attitude adjustment and instead of making unfounded and ridiculous demands, suggest that if given the opportunity you’ll work hard to gain experience and in doing so, gain some relevant experience and build some accomplishments. You might find this approach will get you closer to what you want as well as what you need.     

If you think this topic has relevance and you would like to be better prepared and improve your chances; to have the information available for quick reference or someone you know will need it - then no question about it, you need my handbook. Think of it as a career survival guide providing useful and effective tips for every step of the job search and interview process, ready when you will need it. It is recently updated and there’s stuff in it you’ll find nowhere else; you can find more information here: Control Your Career

Monday, July 31, 2017

Cutting Through the Fakery


The term “Fake” seems to be in vogue lately. We see it applied in a lot of ways, most notably with regards to news and current events – it’s everywhere you look. Applied in this manner, it used to be otherwise called propaganda and disinformation, but perhaps I see it on both sides, from job seeking candidates as well as from the companies and hiring managers. To varying degrees, it’s always been happening but I recognize it more than ever the last few years. It is one thing to put your best face forward, but quite another to mislead, obfuscate, hide or conceal information.
For example: it is now well-known that gaps in employment on a resume can be unhelpful and viewed negatively by HR and hiring managers. I personally think most gaps can be adequately explained away due to the fluctuations in the markets for almost the last decade. Regardless, I see people using fake jobs as gap fillers – I’ve even seen examples of some, whom I know are not working, who have something on their resume stating otherwise. It seems to me they are working harder at avoidance than simply addressing the issue. Yeah, I recognize this is a minority of job seekers; instead many people just exaggerate their feats and daring do.
On the employer side, job descriptions as they are presented provide virtually no real info about the job and during an interview, the rosiest picture is painted of what the job entails.
However, cutting through the fog can be as simple as a little extra application of critical thinking skills. Job seeker or hiring manager - your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to ask more questions; well formulated, investigative questions. Let me simplify it as much as I can:
·        Interviewees: (don’t say this, but your mindset should be) “Tell me more - and what aren’t you telling me that I should and need to know about this job”
·        Interviewers: (don’t say this, but your mindset should be) “Your resume describes what you are supposed to be doing – but explain to me what you are doing and have done; prove it and tell me why I should consider hiring you”
It is really this simple to get to the bottom of what is real and what isn’t, but I often see interviewees sitting mute, nodding their heads as if on cue. Or hiring managers relying on a silly personality profile to do their job for them. And then, when decision time arrives I hear people lament, “I’m not sure I can make a decision, I need more information”. If you reach the offer stage of the interview process and you still don’t have the info you need, whose fault is that?
Sometimes in our personal and profession lives, it only takes a little extra (real) effort, to go from mediocre, to exceptional. Look, it is your career we’re talking about here, regardless of on which side of the table you’re seated during the hiring process. If you want to just get by so be it – it is a choice.
If you think this topic has relevance and you would like to be better prepared and improve your chances; to have the information available for quick reference or someone you know will need it - then no question about it, you need my handbook. Think of it as a career survival guide providing useful and effective tips for every step of the job search and interview process, ready when you will need it. It is recently updated and there’s stuff in it you’ll find nowhere else; you can find more information here: Control Your Career

Monday, July 17, 2017

Intelligent but Not Very Smart

I encounter it increasingly too often; highly intelligent and educated people who demonstrate a seriously deficient ability to navigate common tasks. I am referring to the chore of interviewing for a new job. To be clear, few people like to interview, it is something we do as part of a process of evaluation while being compared and judged against others who are seeking the same job. Unfortunately, many people have only themselves to blame for failing to make it beyond the first interview, unintentionally sabotaging their own efforts.
We need to look no further than the virtual collapse of soft skills in many people. For 25 years I have recruited and placed professionals of all types, but a large percentage of my work during the last few years has been in the legal market -- lawyers. As you can imagine, lawyers are smart folks but let me point to an example that applies to many people, regardless of their profession. Some people want to maintain a reasonable work / life balance and, no doubt, young lawyers put in a lot of hours and they know this, when they pursue their career choice. Before interviews I generally brief those I represent. I don’t tell anyone what to say but I know how this ritual works and often they don’t, so I share with them some of the things they should expect and should be prepared to answer.
On the minds of most people are things such as what the job demands in terms of their time invested, on a daily and weekly basis. This is reasonable but have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s not about what we say, but rather how we say it”?   
I suppose words like “finesse” aren’t familiar to many of these people because contrary to my advice, during the very first interview they ask, “How late do I have to work each day?” And yeah, they really say it like that. Then they can’t figure out why they don’t get a 2nd interview. Whether intended or not they have telegraphed to the interviewer they are a clock watcher and cannot be relied upon for more than basic daily tasks nor exceeding the bare minimum effort expected from them – sorry but perception is reality in the minds of many. Note: there is nothing wrong with their question but this is clearly a soft skills screw-up and here’s where the intelligence and smarts thing comes into the equation. If you want to ask that question, use your head and ask instead, “Can you please give me an example of a typical workday and workweek at your company?” It is the same question, delivered and perceived differently. 
Some people get offended when I inform them of their mistake and retort, “well, I wanted to know?” Which just goes to show there are some people you just can’t help, sadly they don’t even know what it is they don’t know. I don’t care how well educated you may be, or how bright and shiny is your resume. If you cannot effectively communicate you are selling yourself short. Because, after all, the resume and what’s listed on it is only meant to get you in the door – and then what are you going to do?
  
If you think this topic has relevance and you would like to be better prepared and improve your chances; to have the information available for quick reference or someone you know will need it - then no question about it, you need my handbook. Think of it as a career survival guide providing useful and effective tips for every step of the job search and interview process, ready when you will need it. It is recently updated and there’s stuff in it you’ll find nowhere else; you can find more information here: Control Your Career