Monday, October 31, 2011

When hiring managers need help

There's one philosophy you might consider about job interviews: No matter what approach you use during an interview, you should enter into it knowing that the hiring manager may not be a good interviewer and it is your job to make sure you have a good interview. 

I often sit in on conference calls with managers who try to illuminate the finer points of their open position(s) so we can find better qualified candidates. I'm often struck by a few points during this conference calls and I'll share them with you here. 

1. Some managers value interview skills above all. Most of those managers don'tseem to  realize they are judging candidates based on interview skills, but think they are digging deep into who you are based off the impression you give. Keep this in mind. Interview skills are a large part of interview success. 

2. Managers often can't articulate job needs even when given a chance to speak freely, so when you come across a job description that seems vague, don't be surprised. You need to ask the questions necessary to get answers that give you a solid understanding of what the job entails. 

3. Hiring managers often have unrealistic deadlines and expectations about the hiring process at their company. Many job candidates take things literally: "We'll make a decision by Friday" doesn't always mean they will (or can) make the decision by Friday. Don't express your frustration all over the internet when a company doesn't move as quickly as you expected or they told you they would. Things can also change quickly and hiring can be put on hold and even stopped all together without warning. Be understanding and flexible because they may come back to you with an offer in the months to come. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength ~Eric Hoffer

Any recruiter can spend a few moments on a forum at LinkedIn and get a full dose of how much a segment of the population enjoys hating recruiters. Anyone reading a LinkedIn forum looking for advice can find a ready group of immediate friends who will tell you how horrible all recruiters are and that they know for a fact that they've been ignored and lied to.

But what you won't find on these forums is a lot of recruiters. I've noticed that every now and then one will poke into the fray to point out some facts about the business world, vendor/client relationships or the very real possibility that you shot yourself in your own foot so the recruiter didn't have to do it for you.

Then the recruiters disappear. I think we don't stick around because the effects of the mob are such that our voices aren't heard anyway.

In an effort to point at that civility is a two-way street, I will show you a paragraph from an actual resume. After reading this paragraph, I want you to ask yourself if you would pick up the phone to talk to this person. I'm sure he has had one or two bad experiences that have prompted this behavior, but much like someone who has had a couple bad dates, using this approach is unlikely to garner any more offers for dinner & a movie. Rude is rude no matter which side of the conversation you're sitting on.

"I prefer to be contacted by email first. That means you email me and wait for me to return the email to you and set up a time for you to call me. It does not mean you send me an email and then call me! Please do not call the cell phone ever - unless you have pre-approval and do not call the home phone unless instructed to do so; as I said please email first. I do not look at contracts less than 6 months in length. Also if you cannot tell me what the rate is to begin with there is no need to discuss the position. My rates are as follows: 75-80/hr on a W2 only plus expenses or 110/hr on a W2 all inclusive - I do not work on any other type of contract."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Does that resume come with a translator?

I saw this on a resume today.

Although I think the candidate was being genuine, I'm pretty sure I don't care if he likes rice.

Well like many people now a days and not just in the IT field I do game in my spare time mainly RTS and a bit of MMORPG. I enjoy takeout it's so simple and well rice is always good! I feel that I often take a different approach to resolve things that come up I have also had instructors comment on how I do things being different then most other peoples in our classes. It results in the job getting accomplished sometimes just in a different way then some would consider normal.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Interview bad manners: You're making an impression on me!

You're always making an impression on people, no matter where you are. But in a job interview, your behavior should be at its best. In case you're thinking this is something everyone knows and doesn't need to hear again, let me tell you a story. 

Last week I met an experienced, well-paid job candidate. His appointment was at 3:30pm and at 3:24pm he called to tell me he was still at home. 

I expected him to say that something had come up and he had to reschedule the interview. Instead, he said, "I'm just about to leave, so I'll be a little late."

He didn't offer any reason or make an apology, but that's OK. I said I looked forward to seeing him and I went back to work. About 15 minutes later, I got another phone call from him. He said he was standing outside the buildings, but didn't see a sign for our company. The fact that he said buildings (plural) gave me a hint and although he went on and on, I informed him he was at the wrong address. 

He told me he wasn't at the wrong address because his GPS had brought him to the three white buildings. Apparently, his GPS knew better where I was than I did! I told him how to back track to my location in a lone, brown brick building down the street. He seemed skeptical, but about five minutes later, he arrived. 

I went to the front desk to greet him, but he wasn't there. I looked around to find him in the hall talking on his cell phone. He waves me down and puts up one finger indicating that I should wait for him. I flipped through a magazine twice while I waited. 

Once in my office, he put his phone on the table between us where, for the rest of our time together, it rang six times. Apparently he thought just putting the phone on vibrate was enough, but he answered two of the phone calls during the interview. 

If he can't treat an interview with me seriously, I have to ask myself, "How would he act in front of a client?"

Remember that everyone you meet, whether a receptionist or a third-party recruiter, is interviewing you. If you're looking for a job, you need to act as though anyone could be asked by your next boss, "What was your impression of the candidate?" 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tiny Resume Tips: Bullets & Spaces

I review a lot of resumes in my job and as a third-party recruiter, I format, un-format and reformat resumes all day long. There's nothing that makes me growl with irritation more than a highly formatted resume where I have to untangle all the MS Word geegaws and shimshams added to a resume in order to get it to slide through a client database without becoming scrambled.

I'm not saying scrambling happens 100% of the time, but I don't want to take a chance.

There are two things I do to every resume and I want to share them with you today.

First, I delete the summary bullet point that says you have good/great/excellent verbal and written skills. If you are looking for a job that requires these skills in abundance, it will show in your resume.

  • Do you facilitate meetings? Please say so. 
  • Do you speak to groups or make presentations? Please say so.
  • Do you create content and instruct others in training sessions of any kind? Please say so. 

If you don't mind my saying this, most of you fall in the category called, "Everyone thinks they have good verbal and written skills, but not everyone does." Hiring managers and HR folks already know this. The best way to show that you have these skills is by listing them as work-related bullet points and in the interview itself.

Second, on my PC keyboard, I hit Ctrl-H and type in two spaces for 'find' and one space for 'replace.' Double spaces, the sort you used back in the typewriter days, are unnecessary on today's computers. Whether the double spaces are intentional or accidental, I often find hundreds of them in a 2-page+ resume.

If you want to separate information across an entire line such as the employer name and dates of employment, use the tab key. It's much more stable and predictable when someone else opens up your resume.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Job seekers, do you like recognition on the job?

When you interview for a job, it is your responsibility to have a great interview. One of my favorite parts of coaching job candidates is helping them fashion questions that can get the specific information needed to make a good decision about going to work for a prospective company.

We all like to be liked and be recognized for our work. But for some people, recognition is a vital part of their life's career work in order to feel validated and appreciated. If you fall into this category, you should do your best to uncover the facts about recognition from the manager and the company you're interviewing.

Here are suggestions for interview questions you may ask during your time together:

  1. Tell me about a time when your team has done a great job.
  2. Tell me about a time when your team had to work under unusual pressure.
  3. What was a time when your work was recognized in a way that was significant to you?
  4. How have you been recognized for your efforts here at XY Corporation. 

These are open-ended questions requiring more than a yes or no answer. However, some managers may be taken by surprise and give only the briefest reply. Help them out and ensure that you have a good fact-finding interview by digging deeper.

  1. What happened as a result of the hard work?
  2. In what way did they recognize that effort? 
  3. How often does something like that happen? 

Synonyms for recognition:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's a business relationship: Let your recruiter do his job

I read a message posted in a group on LinkedIn in which the writer was angry with the placement service she was using because they stopped working with her. In her angry missive, she wrote many things that made me, as a recruiter, sympathize with the person who had tried to help her get a job.

The most damaging thing she did was contact the client directly. As if that weren’t bad enough, she called the client to discuss money and benefits.

Most recruiters would have dropped her right then and there.  But there she was ranting and raving online under her real name, clearly unaware of her business world mistake.  

The client company hires a placement firm for a reason. No matter what the job, the circumstances, the situation, the weather that day, how much you want the job, how confused or frustrated you are or how difficult your month has been, you never get in the middle of someone else's business relationship.

If you do, you lose. So does everyone else. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Difficult interview question: What are your weaknesses?

Even when you aren't asked outright about your weaknesses in an interview, the interviewer often still wants to know what they are. You may be asked the question in a roundabout way. You might also give the answer away without realizing you've done it!

But since the question looms out there as an interview possibility and many job candidates have told me that this is one of the most difficult questions to answer, you want to be prepared.

Some job candidates have trouble interviewing for new jobs because they have trouble talking about themselves. They say they don't like to brag or show off or simply that it makes them uncomfortable to highlight their top skills. You might think it is easier for them to talk about their shortcomings, but no!

Even these candidates have trouble talking about their weaknesses. Today, I can give you one tip to help you answer this question for yourself. Here's the question to ask yourself before you begin your job search:

If you could have training for any skill set you currently use or need to use in the job market, what would you want to learn?

  • Do you need to learn public speaking? 
  • Do you need to learn a new software language for programming? 
  • Do you need to be more comfortable with social media? 
  • Do you have trouble writing reports? 

Write down the skills you need to learn or improve and carefully craft your list of weaknesses from the list. You may use this in an interview or it may open up opportunities for you to see better what your next job should look like.

Do you have any tips for other job candidates? Share them with us!

That is probably the best interview advice I have have ever received!!! ~Neal C.

I wanted to talk to you again before this interview because you really geek interview tips. ~Chad T.

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