R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I was recently speaking to a friend of mine who was helping screen potential employees for her company and she told me about a specific candidate she was interviewing. She was frustrated and started giving me some examples of questions and answers in their conversation.

Q: Have you managed people before and if so how many people?
A: Sure, I’ve done that.

Q: What college did you go to?
A: Don’t you have a copy of my résumé?

Q: Are you open to travel?
A: I live by an airport.

I’ve definitely interviewed people like this, as most recruiters have, and it still amazes me when I hear about this happening.  It actually makes me want to scream. You would think this is common sense, but alas, it’s not.

respect 1

If you are interviewing with anyone, hiring manager, recruiter, director or whoever, it is so important to be respectful because you never know who the true gatekeeper of the hiring process will be. You may be speaking to someone that has no idea how to qualify you as an individual and I know how frustrating that is, but they still deserve the best version of yourself. They can absolutely stop you in the process b

efore you even got a chance to speak to the person that will be making the final decision. Do yourself a favor in the interview process and always keep this in mind.

 

 

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Don’t be the ‘perfect’ interviewee.

Halfway in and this month has been like any other month for me, lots of candidates and lots of interviews.  Something occurred to me though; can you be too perfect of an interviewee? So far this month I have had 36 interviews and out of those interviews, I have had a few topnotch candidates. 2 of these candidates are sticking out to me and I wanted to discuss the difference.

Candidate A: Professional, polished candidate. Arrived at office 10 minutes early.
Knowledgeable on the company, the role and had great conversation, answers and questions.
Candidate B:  Professional, polished candidate. Arrived at office 10 minutes early.
Knowledgeable on the company, the role and had great conversation, answers and questions.

No difference from that perspective. However, candidate A is getting an offer while candidate B is not and here’s why. When candidate B was asked different questions, every answer given was so perfect and cliché that it was hard to determine what was actually real.  There was no way to pin down any real motivations, passions or interests and we didn’t walk out of the interview feeling like we really got to know Candidate B; it all felt very surface.

So then the trick is to figure out how to make sure you are showing the ‘real you’ and not being phony, too perfect or cliché. Make sure the answers you give are honest and make sure the passion you have for ‘x’ comes across. Interviewers want to see that. If you spend the whole interview making sure your answers are what the interviewers want to hear you will never come across as genuine.

New Year’s Resolution

Forbes magazine stated that a little more than 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. I would guess the most common resolution would be weight loss or exercise, but others make personal resolutions to improve or enrich their lives.

As a recruiter there are different types of New Year’s resolutions you can make for yourself to improve your quality of work and I have listed out a few that come to mind.

  1. Commit to your candidates and to yourself that if they are an active candidate they will hear from you no less than once a month. If they are a passive candidate, they will hear from you at least every 3 months. This will start to brand you as an accountable individual and someone they can rely on in their job search now and in the future.
  2. Get organized. There are many ways to improve your organization as a recruiter, but to start, get your candidates organized. Figure out a system that works best for you and stick to it. For me, I have a sheet of information fornew years resolutions each candidate I work with.  I then group my candidates in folders by skill-set and then list different identifying criteria in certain areas of that sheet (i.e. salary, education, certifications, reasons for looking, etc). That way when I have a new opening I can search very quickly to find candidates that fit the open need.
  3. Commit to being more active in your area. Get involved and be an active participant in user groups, LinkedIn groups… anything that will get your name out in the area it needs to be associated with. Specialize and give more time in areas where the candidates you are looking for will be.
  4. Check 3 references a week. We all hate them (hate is a strong word, but no one likes them), but do them. You and I both know that even though you may not be required to do them, references are a great way to find passive candidates and continue to build your network.
  5. Brand yourself. Be the go-to recruiter for people who are looking, have friends/family that are looking or just need career advice. It has always been my hope to be thought of as a ‘good person to know’ when someone is looking for career help. You can start to brand yourself by doing some of the things listed on this page!

So to be cliche, I’ll end this post by saying… Make it a great year!

Getting help from connections.

I’ve thought a lot about referrals and recommendations recently and like me, I’m sure we all have had friends or family contact us for help finding a job. I specialize in IT recruiting, but I probably get 5-7 resumes a month from people outside of the IT field that are asking for my help with connections. I am more than happy to provide individuals with any help I can, but if I’m going to go out of my way, it would help if an individual presented themselves with as much information as possible.  You might be in a field I know only a little information about and although I might have connections to help, I might not know how to properly introduce you.

If you are in a situation where you are contacting a person for help in making connections, I would recommend providing some (if not all) of the following:

  1. Introduce yourself and remind the person how they know you (if necessary)
  2. Talk about your current situation and why you are searching for a new role. Were you involved in a RIF? Are you unhappy in your current role? Be specific.
  3. What type of role are you looking for? Give as much details as you can and don’t assume a person knows what your specialties are in your line of field.
  4. What are you not open to? Relocation? Management? etc.
  5. Let them know what the best way to contact you or next steps would be.  Are you ready to start interviewing or just interested in networking?

This person is obviously doing you a favor so the more help you can be, the less work it is for the person who is connecting you to the right people.

Someone referred you…

Being referred into a company can be a great way of getting your foot in the door. As a recruiter that works with over 100 technologists, I’m alwaysreferrals getting referrals of past coworkers, friends or people they have met from networking events.; so I immediately have someone that can vouch for this person; as I mentioned, great entry point.

However there is an issue that can occur.  The candidate that gets referred needs to approach the interview process just like they would if they weren’t referred into the company. For some reason, candidates seem to get much more ‘loose’ when speaking to a recruiter they were referred to. In my career, I have had candidates sent to me that do a lot of the things that candidates just shouldn’t do:

  1. Cuss
  2. Speak negative about past companies, coworkers or bosses
  3. Tell me all the things that they won’t do in a new job
  4. Discuss inappropriate out of work activities

I know you are thinking this is common sense to not do those things, but it happens. This hasn’t been just one person, I have had multiple people that have done a variety of things that are shocking during the interview process. The thing to remember is you need to treat each conversation with a recruiter just like you would any interview. Keep things professional and positive and you’ll make a great impression.

Communication

I’ve developed a new pet peeve.  Acknowledgement (or as I learned recently ‘ACK‘ because who doesn’t need another abbreviation).

There seems to be a new trend where individuals receive emails and don’t acknowledge that they have received them. Take for instance a recruiter sends you an email asking you for an updated resume and you don’t have one ready to go. Instead of just ignoring the email until you wait till the weekend to have time to update your resume; email the recruiter and communicate the situation. That recruiter might take your lack of response as not being interested in whatever it is.

I have also witnessed the lack of communication when a candidate is emailed an offer letter and there is no response until the void date. Is this completely acceptable in theory? Yes. Is it a bit annoying to me? Yes.  My thoughts on how to handle this would be: When you receive an offer letter: 1) Read it. 2) Read it all again. 3) Email the person back right then and say something to the effect of, “Thank you for considering me for this role. I have received this and am going over all of the details.  If I have any questions I will be in touch soon. 4) Read it again and formulate any questions.  This way everyone involved is now informed on where things stand in the process and there is no one wondering about what’s going on.

The biggest gripe I hear from candidates is when they don’t hear back from companies or recruiters in a timely manner… so lets implement a bit of the golden rule and do the same in return. Bottom line: There are many candidates out in market, you need to constantly think of ways to separate yourself from the pack/herd/gang.

Post Interview Tip

So I took a small hiatus from the blog; my apologies. I do however have quite a few new topics that have been building up to write about.

This one seems so obvious to me and it just hit me that NO ONE does this; hence, easy way of separating yourself from the pack! During an interview you are asked many different types of questions. I have found that even the individuals that interview the best, still have some silly (sometimes stupid) answers to questions. Most of the time, when you walk out of an interview, you know what questions you ‘messed up’ on.  You can’t get a second chance at them in the interview, but there is a way to still prove your abilities.

Take for instance, an interviewer asks you about a technology that you just don’t have a lot of experience dealing with. You answer the questions to the best of your ability and also admit when you don’t know the answer when they go into more depth than you know.  In the interview, admit you don’t know and then write that question down. After the interview when you send your thank you note, send the answer to that question that you didn’t know!

You can apply this to any type of question. Let’s say you were asked in an interview about a time you made a huge mistake and you overcame it. Then, as always, you brain stops working in an interview and you can’t come up with a great example. After, you go home and start eating dinner… the answer hits you. Write it down and add it to your thank you note that you will send.

This technique will show that you have follow-through skills, you are willing to learn, know how to find information and maybe most important, that you care about the company/job/your career/your future/etc. Seems so easy, yet no one does it.

One last tip for this: Email this, don’t use snail mail; you want it fresh in the hiring managers mind. Send it back within 24 hours; it’s not as impressive if it comes 7 days later.

Job hopping > Age or Unemployment

I’ve talked about it many times before…. Job hopping damages employment prospects more than age or unemployment. Between August 23-28, 2012, Bullhorn conducted an anonymous survey of 1,500 staffing recruiters, corporate recruiters, and hiring managers and the findings are below.

LinkedIn Endorsements

LinkedIn has launched a new feature recently, called LinkedIn Endorsements. You haven’t seen it? Its looks like this…

LinkedIn Endorsement is bascially a way for people to quickly click a button and endorse someone’s skills and/or expertise in a certain area.  I’ve read quite a few articles (and many opinions) on the endorsements and I myself have mixed opinions on the feature.  I see the benefit to be able to quickly endorse someone’s skills and abilities. We are all really busy and if I can quickly click on someone’s profile and publically say that I think they have ‘X’ skill, thats great! However there is also a negative to being able to do this so quickly; if its so easy to do, someone might be to quick to do it and it will lose it’s value.  It seems to be similar to ‘liking’ something on Facebook.  We’ve all ‘liked’ something on Facebook, but what does that really mean? You like a certain quote, you like the picture of the kitten sleeping with the baby, you like that someone is waiting in the drive-thru line at Taco Bell? Again, you can ‘like’ everything and it will lose it’s value.

Not only that, but people used LinkedIn in different ways. Some people only connect with people that they have physically met. Others will connect with every profile they click on and continue to build their network; and of course everything inbetween. I have already witnessed people endorse others that have little to no knowledge of the skill they are endorsing. If you have never worked with or near a person, how can you endorse someones skills? Endorsements will lose value if they are handed out too freely.

I did read an article stating that there will be an added search function on LinkedIn so that profiles with more endorsements with certain skills could be added to the top of the search. Potentially good news for recruiters.

What do you think about the Endorsements?

Passion? Show it.

One thing that I have written about before is showing passion for what you do and what you want to do. My husband can attest to this, one of my biggest pet peeves is someone not giving 100% to their job. Enjoy what you do, whatever it is.  I started my working days as a fry girl at McDonald’s in 1995 and I learned then that my forehead might be covered in nasty grease after a 4 hour shift, but people cared about their fry’s, so I should too. (that might be a bit dramatic, but you get the point) I made the best of it and learned great working habits at McDonald’s; I also learned that pickles dipped in the sweet and sour sauce was an amazing (free) snack for break-time.

How I’m tying this into something that might have relevance to your life is to make sure you are showing passion for your profession, especially when you are interviewing and job searching. I often hear in interviews that people are, ‘looking to be challenged’ or ‘are bored’ or even ‘not seeing growth in their role’.  There is nothing wrong with saying any of those things as long as you can back that statement up. If you say any of those things you might need to think about how to follow-up those statements.

  1. If you aren’t challenged, how are you improving the situation?  If you want to stay at your current job, are you taking the right steps to find new challenges? If you want to leave your current job are you preparing yourself for a potential next role? Employers don’t typically love it when an interviewee says that they haven’t been challenged and are bored, but then have nothing to show on what they are doing in their personal time to improve themselves. Show passion for what you want to do.
  2. If you aren’t seeing growth in your role, are you asking for growth at your current company? Are you preparing yourself outside of work to take on new challenges (whatever those might be)? If you go into an interview and say, ‘I can’t grow where I am’, a good interviewer should probe at that statement and find out why you can’t grow; so be ready to answer that.  Be ready to show passion for what you want to do.
  3. If you say you are bored in your current role, why? Why are you bored? Ask yourself that before you interview anywhere, because you could make yourself sound ridiculous in an interview. There are legitimate reasons why people can be bored in a role, but make sure you are not the reason you are bored. Have you done all you can to take on new responsibilities? Have you asked for more work and/or duties? Show passion for what you want to do.

Overall, companies want employees that care. They want people who love what they do, because it will breed an exciting culture and bring more talent and growth to the company. Be someone who can point to examples to show your passion for your career and/or industry.