Monday, December 19, 2016

A Good Resume is Not Enough

It is well-known or should be that by itself a good resume isn’t enough to get you a job. The human element is still the most critical deciding factor affecting who gets hired and who does not.
Interpersonal communication skills or Soft Skills as they’ve come to be known are critical to your efforts. Sadly, a growing number of people, especially those under the age of 35, are more likely to be lacking in this area at a time when senior company managers have rightly begun to recognize this deficit with respect to their hiring processes. Those over 35 are losing them with increased reliance on convenient technologies that have generally speaking, become necessities.
With 25 years of experience recruiting and placing many different kinds of people, I don’t care how much money you have spent for your college degree, or how much technical expertise you may possess. If you cannot communicate as to why an interviewer should choose you over someone else or if you cannot articulate how they will benefit by selecting you instead of someone as similarly qualified as you are, you may very well get beat out by someone who can – and this is why Soft Skills matter.
Lately, there is more and more evidence that companies have worryingly recognized the lack of Soft Skills among applicants and current employees and they are beginning to put increased value and focus on them. The reason is simple: without soft skills salespeople can’t effectively sell, managers cannot manage to their full potential, teams can’t optimize their efforts as one nor interact, which affects their bottom line of profitability and competitiveness. In short, it has an inevitable dumbing-down effect across the societal and economic spectrum.
So just what are Soft Skills? Read this from Wikipedia:
“Soft skills is a term often associated with a person's “EQ” (Emotional Intelligence Quotient), the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that characterize relationships with other people. Soft skills complement hard skills which are the occupational requirements of a job and many other activities. They are related to feelings, emotions, insights and (some would say) an 'inner knowing': i.e. they provide an important complement to 'hard skills' and IQ.
Soft skills are personal attributes that enhance an individual's interactions, job performance and career prospects. Unlike hard skills, which are about a person's skill set and ability to perform a certain type of task or activity, soft skills relate to a person's ability to interact effectively with coworkers and customers and are broadly applicable both in and outside the workplace.
So don’t let anyone tell you this is no big deal, and it goes to the heart of all the advice and methods I advise people to consider and work on, because this is the stuff that transcends a nicely-prepared resume. It is what gives your resume horsepower; it’s the second part of the one-two punch that elevates you beyond most others competing in the same contest – it is what makes the difference.
Technology and the convenience it provides us is a good thing, but growing dependence on it has an unintended crippling effect. You may find my perspective extreme and dystopian but, as people become more and more connected virtually and digitally, they are more disconnected in reality. That face-to-face disconnect of the physically interactive world on social levels is being replaced with the digital unreality. In the best case, those who lack soft skills will continue to be frustrated when their job search efforts result in a dead end. At worst, we’re on track to dividing into two distinct social strata, between those who can function and obtain for themselves good employment and the rest; incapable of finding decent work thus reducing their career options to the most menial of tasks; a self-imposed virtual caste system. Of which group will you and your family be a part?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Too Far to Commute, Too Close to Relocate

For whatever reason, perhaps the available jobs in your local vicinity are either not suitable or there may be few available. Let’s say, hypothetically, there is a job you are considering, you like them and they like you. They are willing to pay more money, but there is a two hour or longer one-way commute on a clear weather and good traffic day. However, it is a good job and the kind for which you have been looking, so you think beyond the commute issue, instead considering the good things and benefits for you and your family. 
I’ve witnessed this sort of situation and, most often, accepting these circumstances is rationalized by focusing on the good or because of need, although I do warn candidates of the negatives to which they should give more credence. Everything starts out well, but often it isn’t long before I receive a call from the candidate who accepted the job, telling me they are unhappy, never home and the increased money they are earning is swallowed up by fuel and occasional hotel costs, when there is a snow storm or a late night at the office. 
This distance of the commute could be such that it does not make sense to sell your house and relocate with all that includes, such as uprooting children, etc. A long commute can take its toll in many ways you may not have anticipated; not least of which is the total time you are commuting to and fro, combined with the time at work. This could mean, as an example, a four hours or more total commute time added to your work day, which is likely more than just 8 hours. If you’re lucky, you are still looking at a minimum of 12 hours per day and that doesn’t even account for bad weather, highway construction delays or spontaneous traffic snarls. 
If you find yourself in such a situation, you must give equal consideration to the negative aspects of such a lifestyle change. It’s easy to justify the good things. I also assume most people recognize relocation should be the logical conclusion, once you’ve settled into the job. Indeed, I know some people who do the long distance marriage thing and see each other on weekends, if their company will pay the expense or pay enough to make that an option. We’re all different, but most people cannot live like this long term without it impacting their personal relationships. If you’re single, perhaps it isn’t a big deal, but you should not overlook the financial costs vs. benefits and remember that your time has value that is measurable, both in monetary and quality-of-life terms.