Sunday, May 25, 2014

Outplacement Services - and What They Should Be

Outplacement services, generally speaking, are services provided to those who are outward bound, for whatever reason, from a company or organization. These services are meant to soften the transition and help those affected to find new jobs and move ahead with their lives.
Stereotypically, it encompasses some pep talks with the primary component of resume-writing assistance; perhaps a job fair where you can meet and shake hands with company representatives, get some business cards and a few brochures and perhaps even be added to a database and then – you are on your own, good luck! Sorry, but if the goal is to help people to make a transition then I am not shy about suggesting what people are being provided with is a bad joke. I know what it takes to get the job, I know the ritual well. Job fairs? You can find them on your own and mingle with the crowds. Resume assistance – really? So what are people getting that they can really use to help themselves? Truth is, not much. For some managers, executives and bureaucrats, that may be enough to enable them to sleep guilt-free at night, because they’ve convinced themselves and anyone who will listen to their protestations, that they offered to help and after all good intentions count for something, don’t they? In fact, there are a great many decision makers in management who do seek to provide legitimate transition assistance, and they are increasingly dissatisfied with the majority of outplacement services available.
As a headhunter for many years and, considering the manner by which I conduct my work, I am an expert in the hiring / interview process and I possess a unique perspective. Those who know me recognize I don’t hold back and I shoot straight and when I grab hold of something I latch on like a bulldog. When it comes to the substandard services available to most people I am not only complaining, I have an answer, and my own view of what these kinds of services should be providing to people. But to do so requires a skill set and experience that is vanishing in today’s market; you can’t just wing it if you only talk the talk but can’t walk the walk.
For many years I regularly provided advice to people who later said it was insightful and helpful. To make it more available I wrote a handbook the year before last to more widely help job seekers to help themselves. Next, I went further and started this blog in October 2012. 
                                                               (DRUM ROLL)
From today, I am going even further with the aim of demonstrating ways that people can learn, or re-learn, how to affect their own chances in the jobs market – and also – to demonstrate what an outplacement program and content should resemble. I’ve taken the contents of a recent 5 (five) hour lecture (well actually, it was 6 hours but I don't count the breaks), I sliced, diced and condensed it into twenty-five 8 – 10 minute segments which are now posted on YouTube for anyone to watch and from, thereby, to benefit. And I am also taking this occasion to urge anyone who knows someone who is having difficulty finding a good job to view this information. Attached, hereto, is a short intro followed by the (better quality) first of 25 segments; material clearly meant to equip the job seeker to go out and compete against the masses of others who don’t have the info I am sharing with those willing dig a little deeper to give themselves a fighting chance; check it out and pass it around.

And oh yeah, one more thing -- there’s a self-respect component here because when you are less dependent on others it is empowering -- and isn’t this a good thing?  So what are you waiting for, invest a little time and improve your chances in the jobs market - become a more formidable you.
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Monday, May 19, 2014

Why Should Anybody Hire You?

At first glance, that appears to be a cynical question, doesn’t it? And, perhaps, one that makes some people nervous if you don’t have an answer. However, it’s a question for which you should have an answer. The reason is obvious: it is precisely the question in the mind of every hiring manager with whom you interview, every time.
When I meet with people, whom I may or may not represent, I often ask them during the very first meeting, “Why should anyone hire you?” Then I stop talking and listen to what they have to say next. Often I wait a long time and, more often than you may think, they stutter and stammer trying to come up with an answer. Have you considered what your answer might be, within the first few minutes of an interview, because it can very well determine the validity of your candidacy for the job you are seeking?
And even if you have something to say, is it concise, is it something others with whom you’ll meet find to be instructive and beneficial toward your goal of ranking among the top job applicants they’re likely to meet, all seeking the same job? I’ve sat with people who rambled on at great length but never really said anything, and I recall thinking to myself, “god, make this end!” as I look for an opportunity to escape and hasten the meeting’s end.
Now don’t get me wrong, nobody is an expert interviewer and anyone who wants to improve their skills can do so. Even if during the interview you may stumble and it is recoverable, most of us get tripped up at one time or another. By the end of the first interview, and each subsequent step however long you may have with an interviewer -- because the clock is ticking, you need to get your message across as to why they should consider you further and subsequently invite you to the next step.
How you formulate and deliver this message is up to you, but it is the central question; or do you mistakenly assume a piece of paper with your job history is all you need to get a job? If so, from where did you get that silly notion?
When I coach individuals, time and experience has taught me that you must craft an effective introduction, which encapsulates A) your most notable experience, B) what you’ve accomplished, and be able to illustrate to whomever you are meeting how they might benefit from the combination of A & B. And it is this factor that will then give your resume the horsepower you seek. It is a combination of things you will do; use of a good resume and the internet are but a portion of the overall effort – a concert of things you must do otherwise. You are just like everyone else and if you are not differentiating yourself from others you’re just going through the motions; do you have that kind of time to waste?
If you’re not aware, I wrote a handbook on this subject matter and I refer to this same experience and perspective every week, but I’d call your attention to my next blog entry a week from now when I will share with you the Rosetta Stone (of sorts) for those who recognize there has to be a better way and they only need for it to be shown to them in order to take full advantage of it. For those who think they know it all and are satisfied with the results they have, go ahead and get back into line with everyone else; but get comfortable because you might be there waiting for a while.
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Monday, May 12, 2014

The Value of Your Resume – in Real Terms, Pt. 2

In reality, as a headhunter with over 20 years of experience on two continents, working with those who populate every level of employment and position, from the ground floor to the board room, let me tell you, your resume represents two things. It is a calling card with your contact info and your marketing brochure (representing you, the product) and that’s all! All it is meant to do is to help you get a foot in the door by providing information about you; it’s just a door opener as well as to provide a preview of your experience to a potential employer, but once that has been accomplished, then what?
Completely lost in the minds of too many people are the critical interview skills that most people have lost or, if you’re under 40 – you have never learned. As a result people are walking around thinking their resume will bring them success in getting a job!
Of course you need a decent resume, but it is in reality a small component in the overall process; it is no wonder people are so frustrated. If you think I am off-base, if I’m not being sensitive enough you’d better grab a tissue because I’m telling it like it is. If you read this blog regularly, you are not among the clueless zombies out there bumping into walls and wondering why they get nowhere. Or, you’re at least striving to do more for yourself, which means you are already setting yourself apart and ahead of many others. If you know someone who’s frustrated and doesn’t know what to do, give them a gentle nudge – or if necessary a tough-love slap on the back of the head and refer them to this blog because finding work in this difficult economy, during this recovery is tough and getting tougher and you’d better evolve and adapt to meet the challenges.
For the record, I am not suggesting you don’t need a resume, yeah you do, but it’s just a piece of paper. Maybe you still think I am exaggerating so, okay, let’s say you have a great resume or CV, written by a real certified professional and it helped you to get an interview. After you are seated before an HR screener or a hiring manager and the introductions and pleasantries are out of the way and they say to you, “So tell me about yourself?” So now what? Please, don’t say you’ll just recite and repeat what’s on that wonderful piece of paper, no, no, no, that simply won’t fly. But it did get you five minutes into the interview process and served its purpose; now it is relegated to that of a mere reference sheet with contact info and it is at that moment the resume you spent so much time perfecting is no longer of much use; now, it’s your turn. So what are you going to say, or do? How much is that resume into which you’ve invested so much time and relied so heavily upon now worth, from that moment forward?
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Monday, May 5, 2014

The Value of Your Resume – in Real Terms, Pt. 1

Look around and what do you find as the pinnacle of advice for job seekers? It’s the resume that’s held up as the key and primary tool. It’s your passport to success, your Golden Ticket of sorts and, without a good resume, you have no hope. You must have a good resume! Perhaps you can already sense a little sarcasm. Well, isn’t this the perception and, as is often the case, that unless or until questioned and shot down, perception becomes reality? So what then happens; we spend hours and hours, days in some cases, to create a resume that is just right. I meet people who cling to it like a security blanket, or they’re so proud to show and present to you their resume, as if trumpets will begin to sound from the heavens and confetti will fall from the skies.
What if, after all that fanfare you don’t find success; what then and what of that piece of paper you’ve worked so hard to craft? Well, the people who are supposedly in-the-know will tell you it’s your fault, yep, that’s right and your resume or CV probably isn’t good enough! They will advise you to go back and keep on making adjustments until you find success. We’re given to believe that the resume is of the utmost importance, such that a cottage industry has popped up in recent years by those who’ve made a business of writing resumes. They even have certifications to show you, plastered on their websites to prove they can write a really, really good one for you -- guaranteed to bring you success -- or at least, better results. Hello, but with so much info available on the internet and software programs, so easy a monkey could do it, why would anybody pay someone else to write (keystroke) their resume. If you want to pay for advice that is one thing, but paying someone else to compose a resume or CV reflects just how lazy and clueless we’ve become. A resume-writing biz model, in my opinion, makes about as much sense as opening a video store in the age of Netflix. Nonetheless, with so many people desperate to find work I suppose they have customers who are prepared to try anything, after all, there is one born every day. Is this, ladies and gentlemen, to what we have been reduced?
Incorrectly, conventional wisdom suggests that you have two primary means or tools to use when looking for and pursuing a job -- your resume and the internet; the latter is a whole other subject that is equally overrated, but today we’ll focus on the all-powerful resume. Let me ask you a rhetorical question: how many people do you know who got a good job because of a resume? Who do you know who told you, “…my resume got me that job.”, anybody? Maybe there is one in a thousand and even then, I’ll bet timing and luck were the biggest contributor, but I wouldn’t rely on those circumstances, would you -- are you? I’ve seen good resumes, but they were only as good as the compilation of the owner’s experience and the primary reason, and here’s a little secret, the rest was up to them and not the result of a piece of paper. The primary goal of this blog entry today is an attempt to open peoples’ eyes to recognize it takes more, much more, if you want a good job, than the resume you hold in such high regard. Frankly speaking, if you’re making the resume the focus of your efforts, then you are worryin’ about the wrong thing.
Part 2 will be posted next Monday
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