Category Archives: Job Searching

Smaller Companies Grow Through Organic Hiring

So this article presents an optimistic view of the coming economy that I can’t say I am entirely on board with (though I’m not as negative as some), but I agree 100% with this statement: “Companies that employ several to a few hundred workers make up 99 percent of business in the United States and account for half of private sector employment.” Too many job seekers focus their job search on large companies when the reality is that smaller companies make the most hires.

The President Changed. So Has Small Businesses’ Confidence

Small Business

LinkedIn and Indeed Push Away Some Recruiters

Over the last 6 months both Indeed and LinkedIn have sought to monetize more of their previously free services. This is beginning to push recruiters to seek out alternatives, and that means candidates are going to need to follow. That doesn’t mean recruiters or candidates should abandon LinkedIn, but both must recognize that LinkedIn is not the wellspring of free data that it used to be. Gathering value from LinkedIn is harder now for both candidates and recruiters, particularly those not buying the premium features, but as you can see from this article, even those paying for premium are not getting as much as they used to. From time to time I will be referencing alternative tools, as I always have, but where LinkedIn and Indeed have become the ubiquitous tools of job searchers over the last 8 years, candidates must seek new niche tools focused on their specific needs.

See LinkedIn Has Changed: It’s Not The Place It Used To Be

LinkedIn Phone Screen

Job Search Tactics Prezi Webinar March 30, 2017

In case you missed it, or if you just want to review something, I’ve provided links to the Job Search Tactics Prezi, and the audio recording below.

Click Job Search Tactics Visual Prezi (March 30, 2017) for the visual part of the webinar. You may need to register with Prezi, and you will need to ‘drive’ the Prezi yourself with the forward and backward arrows on the bottom of the screen.

The audio is available here:

I recommend getting the visual up and running and then starting the audio, then matching the audio to what you see on the screen. Pause your audio player when you want to take more time to read what is on the screen.

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Job Search Focus

One Trick Pony

Like many people, I’m not a one-trick pony.  I have many talents, and I try to bring them all to bear on problems that I am asked to tackle on the job.  The ability to house multiple skills in single individuals is an efficiency for every organization.  Many a supervisor, including me, has expressed appreciation to an employee who takes on challenges outside their assigned or expected scope.

However, when employers hire, they seldom look for diversified skills in a single individual.  Hiring is generally a process of pigeon-holing candidates in one discreet role or another.   I have found this over and over in my career. I do a lot of things pretty well, but people want to hire one thing. When you job search you want to be focused on selling that one thing. Once you get the job, you can let yourself be many things again.

This doesn’t mean your entire job search needs to be focused on a single skill.  To the contrary I recommend pursuing multiple job-function prospects simultaneously, just not with the same potential employer.  Make sure the resumes, cover letters, and interviews focus on the job being offered, and not your entire skill set.  At the hiring stage, it’s not about showing off everything you can do (that comes after you’re on the job); it’s about showing them how well you can do the specific things they are seeking now.

Blue on White Opt for Change

Ageism or Agism?

I invite you to read this article: Agism is real, and here’s how to deal with it in a job interview.

from Career Mojo

I have to admit, I was disappointed in this author’s article, even beyond the multiple spellings. The first thing is that she reinforces the basic stereotype assumption that everyone born between certain years is essentially the same. I see too many HR people make this mistake, but it still surprises me. Would you start from the assumption that all people of a certain race are the same, and then you have to convince the interviewer that you’re somehow better than your race? It’s bizarre, but that’s what she recommends you do for your age.

If someone is not going to hire you because of your age, they aren’t worth wasting your time. There are plenty of people out there who will look right past your age, just like there are plenty who will look past your gender, your race, your religion, your sexual orientation, etc. I recommend spending your time trying to find those people rather than convince the ones who are not going to give you a fair chance. Those people are in the minority, not you.

If you use your age, your race, your gender, your religion as an excuse for not finding a job, you are giving those who discriminate more power than they actually command. I’m not saying that it is not out there – it is – but there are substantially more people who will look to find a talented employee at a bargain price.

If you’re not getting jobs, it is more likely that you are viewed as more expensive than other capable candidates, not that you are viewed as too old. If you say something like “I realize you have a wide choice of generations to fulfill this position” you will be viewed as strange, and perhaps someone who sees the world through age stereotypes, and so not a good fit.

What if you say something like: “I’m not one to do a lot of nuanced game playing – I tend to just get to the point. I’m not desperate for a job, but I am motivated to get back to work, and while I’m not willing to work for minimum wage, you can probably hire me for less than you think. That may mean I leave some money on the table initially, but I’m confident, once I’ve proven myself, it will be worth it. Every job order has a salary range; I’m a well-qualified candidate who won’t be offended if you offer me something in the bottom part of the range.”

If you are well-qualified, and they don’t take that, then you saved yourself a lot of heartache, because they were never going to hire you. If you’re not willing to say that, then your issue really is price, not age. I have no problem with trying to get the best price for yourself; just recognize if you are unemployed, that you are not negotiating from a position of strength. As such, you are unlikely to have the leverage to get the price you want. When you are unemployed you are a price-taker, not a price-setter.

People will say it is better to have a job when you are looking for a job. Having a job doesn’t really help you find a job, but it does help you negotiate your price.  To negotiate, you need to convince the other party that you are willing to walk away from the table; the best way to convince them is to have a viable alternative and make sure they are aware of it.  Every employed candidate has that alternative in hand – their current job.  If you’re unemployed, unless you have another job offer in hand, you have no leverage.  You can pretend to yourself and to the employer that you are uniquely qualified and so pretend you are a price-setter, but you are not.  If that’s what is happening to you, that’s not ageism.

3rd Base

The Importance of Your LinkedIn Headline

LinkedIn headlines provide the most powerful 120 characters of language on your LinkedIn profile, and unfortunately, it is often under-utilized.  “By default, LinkedIn populates your headline with your current job title and employer” — and unfortunately most people leave it in there.  What’s really bad is that if you update your experience, say with a new job, LinkedIn doesn’t always update your default headline.  So your headline can be an out of date mismatch with your profile’s experience. Especially if you are actively job-searching, but even if you are using LinkedIn for business leads, or passively keeping yourself apprised of the market, you should review your headline.  And your headline should be aligned with the goal you are seeking to achieve.  Review this article: “The Right Keywords for Your LinkedIn Profile Headline” for tips on how to use different headline types for different goals.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2012/08/14/does-your-linkedin-headline-suck/

“How To Make Your LinkedIn Headline Stand Out” – Forbes.com

 

The first rule is that your headline should not simply repeat your job title and employer in your headline. That’s not only redundant, it sends the subliminal message that your are where you want to be, and aspire to nothing more. You want to convey that you do aspire to be something more – that you’re current role is just one rendition of what you can offer.

If you want your profile to attract attention when it shows up in a search result list, you should consider:

  1. Describing WHAT you are,
  2. Describing WHO it is you can help,
  3. Describing HOW you improve the organization, and
  4. Giving an EXAMPLE or CREDENTIAL.

You can search your connections on LinkedIn, reading what they have in their headlines.  There are also articles that provide particularly catchy examples that you may be able to tailor to your situation.  Be cautious not to be so creative that readers can be confused about what you are offering.

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“The Best Time to Look for a Job is When One has a Job”

While I agree that sometimes the “best time to look for a job is when one has a job,” unemployed people actually have several advantages in the job search arena, and in-house recruiters appreciate these advantages much more than recruiters for hire. If you are working mostly with recruiters for hire, then you have probably heard this “best time to look for a job is when one has a job” adage frequently because one of the selling points that recruiters for hire have traditionally offered their clients is the ability to identify passive (ie employed) candidates. So for decades recruiters for hire have been telling their clients (employers) that currently employed candidates are “better” candidates.  Some recruiters for hire reinforce this concept by telling employers if someone is unemployed, there must be something wrong with them. This has created an unjustified bias against unemployed candidates.

When I recruit, here are the advantages I see for unemployed candidates. First, the unemployed come without a fee. Second, they are available for a phone screen on my schedule and my hiring manager’s schedule – this can save a week or more of scheduling time. Third, they are available on my schedule and the hiring manager’s schedule for initial interviews and follow-up interviews – this can literally save 2-3 weeks in the hiring process. Fourth, they are an easier sell, and they are much less likely to slow down the process with negotiation of salary, vacation, job titles, gym and country club memberships, relo, and car leases, which can save another week in the hiring process. Fifth, they don’t need to give notice, and they aren’t subject to counter-offers, which can save at least 2 weeks, and in some cases, prevents the restart of the whole process when you realize your offer was just leverage to get their current employer to give an additional week of vacation. Sixth, and this can be the most important, people who have been unemployed, appreciate the job, and have a better attitude.

Comfortable Looking? Or Looking Despite Discomfort?

Survey Shows Younger Workers Most Comfortable Job Hunting While Employed

Survey Shows Younger Workers Most Comfortable Job Hunting While Employed

Recent articles in the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Charlotte Business Journal, and Pittsburgh Business Times draw some interesting, albeit suspect, conclusions about an Accountemps study of job search habits of employees over 18.

The Accountemps study press release supports the adage “the best time to look for a job is when you already have one.” And here’s the good news: nearly 3/4’s of office employees feel “very comfortable” or “somewhat comfortable” heeding this advice.  The remaining quarter are “somewhat uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable” looking for new employment before leaving their current firm.  That doesn’t mean they don’t do it; it just means they are anxious about doing it.  The authors, as well as the business journal reporters, seem to have missed this last point.

The Silicon Valley reporter drew the conclusion that the study “found stark disparities in new job search tactics among workers of different age groups.” Several of the articles were critical of younger workers, aka millennials, because of their higher level of comfort with “looking for a new job while on the clock for their current employer.”   

Unless you get paid overtime for receiving those evening and late night emails on your smart-phone, you are always “on the clock.” So this understanding of the study suffers at its inception from misconstruing the questions answered. However, I think the difference in age groups stems as much from perception by the responders to the questions and the responders stage of their career, as much as any difference in “job hopping” sentiment.

Millennials blur the lines of work and personal time, or rather they don’t try so hard to keep them separate. When you ask a millennial when he/she is at work, they are much more likely to reply “all the time.” They are more likely to see “the place” they work to be irrelevant to any designation of being “at work.” They are “at work” emailing on public transportation; they are “at work” when they answer a call at dinner; they are “at work” when they prepare a presentation from a beach house. Because they work from so many “personal” locations, they naturally conduct more personal business from more traditional “work” locations.

The other bias in this survey is the definition of “job search activities.” For this study job search activities encompass only those activities that can be conducted at a traditional office location, and activities focused on those early in their careers.

The reason people over 50 don’t spend time at work “searching online job applications” is that it’s a waste of their time. By the time you get 30 years into your career, networking is far and away the most productive way to job search – every outplacement consultant will tell you this. But networking with professional colleagues at trade association events, off-site professional continuing education seminars, at coffee shops, or even golfing, aren’t listed – this is the way people with 30 years experience find jobs: networking with colleagues they know to people they don’t.

People who are in an earlier stage of their career can benefit to a much, much higher degree from responding to online job ads or, as they get just a few years of experience, working with professional recruiters.  Obviously any data would show a younger bias toward these activities.  The press release mentioned no efforts to compensate for this inherent bias.

My conclusion is that these articles, like far too many I read on job searching, promote stereotypes which in addition to the inherent problems with any generalization, also inaccurately criticize the behavior of entire groups of employees.

Blue-on-White-Opt-for-Change.png“The job is what you do when you are told what to do. The job is showing up at the factory, following instructions, meeting spec, and being managed. Someone can always do your job a little better or faster or cheaper than you can. The job might be difficult, it might require skill, but it’s a job.

Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo, and changing people.  I call the process of doing your art ‘the work.’  It’s possible to have a job and do the work, too. In fact, that’s how you become a linchpin.  The job is not the work.”   ― Seth GodinLinchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Assess, Plan, Prepare, Implement … Re-Assess

Anytime you find your self in an “un”employed situation – whether completely unemployed, underemployed, unhappily employed, or uncomfortably employed – you should start by taking some time to truly assess your situation.  This assessment should include not only where you are in your career, but how you got there, and where you want to go.  StartUpofYouIf you need help on figuring out where you want to go, I would recommend  picking up a copy of The Start Up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha.  I find this book to be a significant improvement over What Color is Your Parachute.  There are assessment tools and career coaches that can also help you assess your situation.

Once you have a sense of where you are in your career, and where you want to head, I recommend putting together a plan to market yourself.  You want to start by thinking longer term than your next position.  A career coach told me to think about the job you want to have after the next one to get myself in a forward thinking frame of mind.

I recommend you prepare a draft one-page marketing plan and share it with people you meet for informational networking.  Too often people put off networking until they are in a desperate situation.  As Harvey McKay explained in his book, you need to Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty. Because the unemployed often feel pressure to quickly get a job, they can tend to push informational networking into simply asking for a job.  This can make the people you network with defensive.  There is a technique to Face-to-Face Job Search Networking using a one-page marketing plan that can relieve this pressure.

Once you’ve prepared your draft marketing plan, prepared your resume and cover letter templates, developed a tracking sheet system, ordered business cards, and organized a list of contacts with whom to network, you simply need to implement your job search plan.   LinkedIn is a great tool, especially for introverts, to aid in business professional networking, but it’s not the only tool.  In addition to other social media tools (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc) you should access other sources of contacts, such as your Outlook, gmail, or yahoo address books.

To recap:Assess Plan Prepare Implement wo borders

  1. —Assess Yourself and Your Situation
  2. —Plan Your Marketing Strategy
  3. —Prepare Your Documents, Tools, Techniques
  4. —Implement Your Search

 

Periodically in your job search process you should take some time to Re-Assess your progress;  determine what is working for you and what isn’t.  Don’t be afraid to change your plan, your documents, or your techniques.  Just be deliberate about the changes you make, and be objective about how the changes help or don’t help your search.

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“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
― George Bernard Shaw