Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Hard Worker - With Pre-Conditions

I am in contact on a regular basis with many very well-qualified and dedicated people who want to pursue good jobs and, lately, the job market is improving and some sectors are doing rather well and experiencing growth. I have client companies with needs for everything from receptionists to senior management with a lot in-between. So you’d think people are snapping up jobs left and right. Yet I talk to many, who are frustrated they can’t get beyond the 1st or 2nd interview. Meanwhile I have hiring managers who lament they can’t find the right people to hire. So what’s wrong; where’s the disconnect? 
Well, the problem often stems from the candidate / applicant side in too many situations. Here’s what is happening: an applicant goes to the interview, they like what they hear about the job and they begin to demonstrate they are good and worthy candidates. For their part, the hiring managers like what they hear and see but then they start listening to the pre-conditions, often during the very first meeting. 
I am not new to this business; I recognize many people want a work-life balance, but it verges on the ridiculous, especially when young people, who have little or no experience, start asking how long they’ll have to work each day. Or, someone declares when they must pick up their children, at odds with the standard job description of potential work responsibilities. Many times they disqualify themselves from further consideration with demands so beyond the pale it is as if each potential employee wants a customized schedule and work conditions tailored just for them. I know hiring managers who are very frustrated and tell me they can’t find anyone willing to work. 
Sometimes the demands are reasonable and the issue may not be what you are asking for but, rather, how you’re asking or more likely you’re asking prematurely because, frankly, a growing number of people possess underdeveloped communication skills. But here it is in a nutshell; before and until you demonstrate your value to them, until such time as they identify you as someone they have more interest in than others, seeking the same job making any demands is pointless and only diminishes your chances. Get through the first interview with a goal of securing the 2nd interview as best as you can. Show them why you’re their best choice thereby increasing your stock value. Then, you can discuss your needs and possibly get some of your wants.


Monday, September 5, 2016

The Art of Asking Questions

When you are engaged in an interview process, far too many people sit mute and do little on their own behalf. Reciprocal dialogue is part of the process but, to do so effectively, requires the ability to effectively communicate. It is an interactive event and there is an aspect of self-interest in that it is incumbent upon you to make a thoughtful effort to gain the most information possible, in order to make an informed decision by the end of the process. 
To do this you’re supposed to also be asking some questions and, if you do well enough, your interview becomes a negotiation that can lead to a job offer, with a mutually beneficial outcome for both sides. It may sound complex but it isn’t. 
We live in a period when individuals don’t really communicate, regardless of all the means available to us. Dialogue between people has been reduced to a hashtag and 140 characters or an Emoji to express our feelings, because actually communicating has become too cumbersome, requiring too much effort for many.   
Furthermore, you need more than a single clever question and far more than a clever rehearsed answer or two, if you are going to shine. Being memorable is not the goal; however, being remembered well, is. Doing just enough to get by is not sufficient and will not win the day for you. Yet, that is what most people are doing.
If you’re not a good communicator, become one. Better communication skills can help you sweep aside others seeking the same job – even some of those who might be better qualified. It is a worthy effort. 
Think of the questions you will ask, instead of saying something painfully obvious, such as, “…how late will I have to work?” Use a set-up that is general but requires more than a yes or no answer, like, “…Can you describe for me a typical day in this role?” That will get you some helpful info, but that’s just the set-up. Depending on how they respond, then follow-up to extract more pertinent info. I can imagine another 4 or 5 questions so that by the time you’re done you will learn that which you need. Most interviewers are also simply going through the motions – they have a list of routine questions, especially during the first interview and they are not going to give you details unless you ask. This is where most interviewees, in my opinion, falter – not just for their own purposes but also in the eyes of a hiring manager.
Asking good questions is how you learn about a job opportunity, the company, as well as the person to whom you may both work and report. Failure to probe for this information is a dereliction of your duty as an applicant / interviewee. 
If you don’t think ahead and take charge of your own fate in order to empower yourself, do you think anyone is going to do that for you, much less care? It falls to you to act in your own best interest. This, and being able to communicate effectively, is the only way it’s going to happen.