Sunday, May 29, 2016

Ask One More Question

Interview styles differ and then tend to inject the personality of the person conducting the interview, not to mention additional people involved with whom you may also meet and speak and it can be difficult to be prepared for everything. While that may be, there are some predictable patterns in each process, and one that is pretty common is the indication you are nearing the end of the interview. 
When they ask, “do you have any other questions?” it’s pretty clear you’re near the end and it’s almost over. You have a final chance to ask any remaining and outstanding questions on your mind – so take advantage of it. But there’s one final question I want you to add to your repertoire at almost every single interview you find yourself a part of and for the rest of your career.
Ask them, “what’s the next step?” That’s all I want you to do, if you are not already doing it. Simple isn’t it, but you’d be surprised at how many people who otherwise perform well during the meeting, only to choke and fail at the end.  You’re simply closing the interview; it’s a sales technique meant to elicit a decision. 
Don’t worry, nobody’s going to be mad at you for having interest and asking, although some may display a bit of surprise. That’s because so few people actually do it and, instead, their tepid final parting phrase is a wimpy indecisive, “well … uh um, I hope I hear from you.” That’s a snooze of an exit statement, “yawn, Zzzz….” Sadly, this is what most people say when they part ways; not very memorable, is it? If you’d hoped to set yourself apart and provide a reason for them to choose you instead of the others who utter the same thing – you didn’t succeed.
If you are interested in a job, or at least progressing to the next interview, make your intention and interest clear. Be memorable and be different because hiring managers not only look for those with the right skills and experience but they are also looking for the right can-do attitude.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Was There Laughter

As a standard practice, when I represent both hiring managers and candidates during an interview process, I always debrief both sides. Among the questions I ask of both sides, but predominantly the candidate, is one that seems to catch people off-guard and one they are not used to hearing and rarely consider. 
I ask them, “Was there laughter?” Often this seems an odd question but rather one I have learned, during my long career, to be a key question. And okay, perhaps you were not giggling your way through the meeting but hopefully, there was some smiling and cordiality – the more the better. You see, there is more going on than just whether or not you, as a potential employee, are qualified for a job you seek. Are you qualified and suitable – and it goes both ways? Qualifications are a key factor in order to be considered but never discount the importance or how well you may or may not fit into their company culture and, even more important, the personal chemistry between you and your potential hiring manager. This is the aspect that will determine if you will have a satisfactory transition or if you will find yourself frustrated and looking for another job in a mere three to six months.  
So if there wasn’t laughter, is that a deal killer or a bad omen? No, not necessarily. If then there wasn’t, what was it, how did you perceive the atmosphere? Because you know it’s not only about their impression of you that counts in this process – you’re also evaluating them -- or at least you should be. Perhaps you didn’t meet your potential boss in the first interview and you were screened by an HR staffer; but the question still has validity as a gauge. 
No doubt you have to meet the minimum qualifications to be considered for any job you seek. But personal chemistry can count for a lot and is part of what helps to make a decision, a more informed decision, while you progress through the interview process and toward a potential offer. It’s what, at a minimum, can make a job bearable or perhaps even great, depending on the circumstances. Add this simple question, with all that it implies, to your post-interview self-evaluation checklist.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

You Should be Doing It Anyway

If you want help from a third party to increase your chances of finding a good job, through a recruiter or an agency, know this, it is rare that you will contact them and, voila, they just so happen to have the perfect job for you and your timing was impeccable and fortuitous. More likely, you will end up in their database and it is the info you provide to them that can accentuate your odds of success, now or later. But like many suggestions I provide, you have to apply a bit of effort in order to separate yourself from the crowd because, as I so-often say, if you look, sound and act like everyone else, why should they choose you over anyone else. It’s your choice -- be boring and un-remarkable and as a result go un-noticed -- or stand-out and stand-apart. 
When I consider representing a person, or I speak with someone who would like to be kept in mind in the future, I suggest to them, “Okay then, help me to help you. If there was a list of companies - I don’t care if it is 1, 3 or 30 – that, if you heard they were looking for someone like you, you’d want to know about? I want that list. Think about it and get back to me” If they reply vaguely without any forethought or effort, “well, I’m open … any company that is looking” I don’t waste another moment of my time. And why should I? If I want to spend my time, which has value, playing the lottery I’ll buy a ticket, but why squander it on someone unwilling to invest their time on an effort that directly benefits them. However, if they’ll put a little effort into it and provide me with the information, I’ll get a little more proactive and, at the very least, add it to their file; now, I have something to work with. Perhaps it is one of my own foibles, but I don’t work for anyone but rather I work with people, collaboratively. Other recruiters and agency types are thinking similarly although they may not state it as loud as I do. 
You should do the same for yourself, prior and without being asked, to save time; wouldn’t you agree you’d stand out amongst the many who simply send their resumes hither and yon under the illusion they’re actually doing something constructive on their own behalf? 
Besides, if you’re contemplating a new job surely you’ve thought about what kind of role and company or companies with which you’d like to work. So you should be doing this anyway. The only difference is that you are providing something to compare, and so if or when they call, it is not so much a guessing game. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Getting your Mojo Working

Call it what you like, your attitude, energy, aura or something else, you can have a great resume and be perfectly qualified, but if your mojo isn’t working you’re going to come up short in your efforts. 
The economy is picking up a bit lately but that often isn’t the issue as much as it is the systems in place that companies and HR departments utilize -- application and resume submission processes that are faceless and leave you wondering if they’ve even received your resume, or if it will be seen by a real person. It is the processes companies use to screen and evaluate potential employees, stupid psychobabble psychometric testing or inane interview questions having nothing to do with one’s ability to do a job, that make people feel powerless during the course of the process. Combined with other issues of the modern workplace and job market it can engender anger, frustration and even bitterness. 
If you are one of many who are frustrated and may even wince at my suggestion, yeah, I recognize it may sound overly simplistic to proselytize about attitude being everything - it isn’t. But without it your chances for success are diminished. 
Sorry, but if you’re in need of an attitude adjustment, get one and here’s why. I have never in almost 25 years of recruiting and placing individuals, seen a person who visibly lacked confidence get a job offer. I have likewise almost never seen anyone, who was outwardly angry or bitter, chosen over someone with similar qualifications, who wasn’t. 
Hiring managers have told me they would only consider those who, depending on the job in question, met a checklist of qualifications and experience. Occasionally they hired someone who didn’t precisely match the criteria. When I probed as to why they chose them in light of the deficit, these same managers have replied saying, “We liked him/her”.
No doubt, it takes more than a glowing personality and indeed you must be qualified. But sometimes, a good attitude can bridge the gap in a close contest.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

What Do They Know, That You Don’t

Do professionals always apply to themselves what they dictate to others? Does a doctor provide his own family with the same guidance as for a patient?  I’ve heard of instances in which they don’t, such as chemo-therapy, for example, although I’m just posing a hypothetical question. 
During a recent conversation with an HR Director I know, I spoke about my advice to job seekers; that they should, instead of applying for a job through typical and accepted channels of applying online or establishing contact through HR, I instead suggest an alternate and more direct route. I advise people to do a bit of homework and try to learn who, by name, might be the person they’d work for and/or report to, in a particular company to which they would like to apply and work.  
Although she also admitted that it irritated her whenever managers engage with applicants directly, making her job a little more challenging, yet, she agreed with me! In fact, she shared that recently her own husband was looking for a job and although she is a senior HR professional who feels strongly about protocols and processes, she nonetheless advised him to establish contact directly with the hiring manager to reduce bureaucracy and the unnecessary scrutiny of those having nothing to do with the direct reporting chain for the position for which he was interested in being considered. To make a long story short -- he got the job. 
Need I say more -- the point I am trying to make is clear; you can stand in a virtual line like everyone else, or blaze your own trail. It doesn’t require anything more audacious than confidence in yourself and some extra effort.