Wednesday, April 30, 2014

If you don’t land the interview, you’ll never get the job.

Never have I landed a job where I applied to a position online.  Not even once. But I enjoy a great job, a comfortable paycheck and a career that I absolutely love.  Maybe I’m just lucky like that.  But I like to think there’s more to it than luck.  In fact, I know there’s more to it than that. 

What’s my secret?  I get myself to the interview.  Without that first interview, you will never land your dream job.  It’s that simple.   So, if you’re stuck in that hellish nightmare that a job search can be, how do you get selected for an interview?  Here are a few things I’ve done (and some things I’ve noticed others do in my decade as a recruiting professional) to ensure my seat at the interview table.

1. Know what you want.
You telling me “I want to work in finance.” is a YAWN-AND-A-HALF.  Meanwhile, “My goal is to work as an Investment Banking Analyst, specifically in M&A, in the Oil & Energy sector.” puts a smile on my face and shows me you have actually put some thought into your career search.  
(Takeaway: If you don’t know what you want, nobody else will either.)

2. Know what you have to offer. 
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked by random strangers on LinkedIn or elsewhere whether I have time to spare for an informational interview with them.  Although I’d love to spend the 15-30 minutes that these eager career hopefuls yearn for, I simply don’t have the time...unless, of course, it is glaringly obvious that the person is a dream match for a job opening I’m currently working to fill.  

Some hiring managers may have the time.  But more often than not, you need to open that introductory conversation with a bang.  Knowing what you have to offer and being able to articulate that in your job search is critical.  Prepare yourself a mission statement.  Know it inside and out.  Deliver it appropriately. 
(Takeaway: If you can’t convince someone what you’re worth, you need to learn how to do so.)

3. Be creative.
One of my favorite personal hires in the last couple of years is a young guy who decided to be a little creative.  “I won’t waste your time inflating my credentials...the truth is I have no unbelievably special skills or genius eccentricities, but I do have a near perfect GPA and will work hard for you.”, he wrote in a humble but fresh email sent to an investment banker.  Now, that stands out!

Don’t be afraid to do things differently.   Hiring managers get hundreds (if not thousands) of resumes, cover letters and requests for informational interviews.  Those individuals who aren’t afraid to insert creativity into their approach are the ones we notice.
(Takeaway: Put yourself in the hiring managers’ shoes, and don’t give them a reason to yawn.)

4. Be bold. 
Don’t be afraid to contact the hiring manager directly to introduce yourself and let them know what you have to offer.  A quick search on Google or LinkedIn can render you the names of those individuals who have the power to sign your offer letter.  Yes, that’s right.  Somewhere here on the Internet is the name of the person who will determine whether you get your next job.  Why wait for them to find you?  Why not boldly find them and reach out directly?  Life is too short to be anything less than bold – personally and professionally.  What have you got to lose?
(Takeaway: Being bold beats being bored.)

5. Stay positive.
As you navigate the waters between previous and future jobs, it can be easy to become overwhelmed.  Make sure you keep your energy levels up and your attitude elevated.  Little things like daily exercise or regularly checking in with friends and colleagues during this time can work wonders for your spirit.  

Staying upbeat and positive, while not always easy, is probably the most important thing you can do to land yourself “THE” interview.  As Matthew McConaughey stated recently, it is a scientific fact that Gratitude reciprocates.  I firmly believe that.  If you’re living and breathing in a positive space, positive things will happen for you.  I’ve seen it too many times to doubt that.
(Takeaway: Stay positive, even when the chips are down.)

If you haven’t landed your dream job yet, don’t worry.  Take a few minutes to reflect on how you might incorporate a few of these action items into your game plan, and then go out there and get that interview! 

Until next time, continued career success your way...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Don't be a Chandler Bing.

What’s the #1 way to get hired?

What’s the #1 way to get hired?  Let’s see.  You can scour the web and apply to postings online.  You can hit the pavement and start knocking on doors.  You can cold call your way into your target companies.  All of these are decent tactics.  But, the NUMBER ONE way to get your foot in the door is to be referred by someone that the hiring manager knows and trusts.  At some firms, the percentage of hires that come from employee referrals is a staggering 50% or more! 
Being referred for a position is, hands down, the BEST WAY EVER to get hired.  Not only does it get you on the fast track for open and posted positions.  It also, more often than you would think, can open the door for positions that aren’t even advertised.  Yes, many of the best jobs out there are not even advertised!  Hiring managers simply keep their ears to the ground, and when they learn of a great candidate, they find a way to get the job opened.  Of course, once you’re referred, you will still need to navigate the interview and follow up stages of the process.  But you will be leaps and bounds ahead of those candidates who don’t have the golden ticket that is an employee referral.

So, how do you do you get referred for a job?  Here are the easiest ways to get yourself referred.
      1. What is it that you do?

Remember Chandler Bing from Friends? He had the same job for a decade, and yet none of his friends could ever remember what it was that he did.  During a trivia game once, when asked to identify Chandler’s job, Rachel even called him a "transponster".  If he ever needed to rely on one of those friends to refer him to a job, he may as well consider himself indefinitely unemployed.  They would have been of no use to him in this capacity.     
If you’re looking for a new job, the first and most important thing you can do is to have a narrative about what it is that you do.  Then, make sure everyone in your network knows what that is.  It sounds elementary, but if your friends don’t know what kind of career you’re suited for, how are they possibly going to help you find a job? You never know when you’ll come across someone in your circle that can help you land your next job.  So, get some CLARITY around what you want, and put together your personal elevator pitch.  Memorize it.  Use it whenever and as often as needed.  It works.

2. Network, network, network.  
It occurs to me that our survival may depend upon our talking to one another.” ― Dan Simmons, Hyperion
Regardless of the industry in which you’ve carved out a career for yourself, there are networking groups and events where professionals akin to yourself congregate from time to time.  If you don’t know of any, look them up online.  Every industry has them.  If you can’t find one specific to your industry, consider local city or county networking events.  Become a regular at their meet ups.  Mingle, get business cards and use the “Here’s what I do” pitch from step 1.  Get to know them, and make sure they get to know you.

      3. Use LinkedIn.  As a recruiting professional, I live and die by LinkedIn.  As a candidate, I’ve used LinkedIn when changing jobs in the past.  LinkedIn is a gold mine for anyone looking to further themselves professionally.  Here are a few tips that should increase your effectiveness on LinkedIn.
a.    Update your profile.  In your professional headline section, update it to reflect something such as “seeking new opportunity”.  But also make sure you keep your desired title or industry in this section as well, as shown below.  This makes it easier for recruiters to find you when they are looking for someone with your skillset.
b.    Get active in groups. Get involved in LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industry or your geographic area.  Join the conversation.  LinkedIn groups are a great place to find jobs, industry articles and other professionals who may be open to networking with you.  Groups are, in my opinion, the most effective way to use LinkedIn.  They are easy to join, fun to participate in and they could very likely be your key to landing your next job.
c.    Search for hiring managers. As you grow your personal network of connections on LinkedIn, you will exponentially increase the number of people in your network.  Using the Advanced search tab, you can easily find managers in your field who may know of one of those “hidden” jobs I mentioned earlier.  Get connected.

      4. Give a little to get a lot.  Many people recommend volunteer work during career transitions.  I tend to agree.  But, I also like to suggest that there are endless ways to give back to the world around you.  In doing so, you will not only make someone else’s day better.  You may also improve your own outlook on your current situation.  
Volunteering at local charities is a great way to spend some of your “in between jobs” time.  It’s also a wonderful way to expand your network.  Another great option is to give back to your professional community.  Have you seen an interesting article that your peers may find useful?  Do you have an idea around how to improve something in your industry?  Don’t hesitate to share this via social media or wherever you can.  Contributing to others in this way not only serves to benefit the recipients.  It also helps to keep you and your personal brand relevant during your search.  
If you consistently make an effort to incorporate these 4 easy tasks into your daily routine, it will be that much quicker for you to find that one connection that is able to refer you to your next opportunity.  Like I said, referrals are the most effective and quickest way for you to get hired.  So, get yourself referred!  Why make your job search harder than it has to be?  

Until next time, continued professional success and personal happiness your way.

-Talent Scout

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I just hired 0.26% of the candidates who applied to my job!


I recently needed to fill 4 entry level finance positions.  So I put together the job description and posted it online where prospective candidates could find it.  Within a matter of days, I had 1488 applicants.  There were 84 interviews scheduled, and a month or so later I had my 4 new hires.  Talk about some tough odds!

My point is this... 1484 of the applicants didn’t get the job.  If you’re searching for a new job, you probably already know that there are many more applicants than there are jobs available -even in this so-called recovering economy.   So, the chances are at some point in your career search you will get the dreaded “thanks for interviewing, but we’ve hired someone else” email.  Worse yet, sometimes you won’t even get a response from the company, and your rejection will come in the form of dreaded silence.

So, how do you overcome these stumbling blocks on your journey to happily employed bliss? 

1.       First understand you’re not alone.  Like I said, 99.74% of the applicants for this one particular job did not get hired. 
2.       Take some time to figure out what the reasons for the rejection may be
a.       Having hired approximately 100 people per year for the last decade, I’ve noticed that many times rejections are quite frankly because the candidate applied to a position that was not a fit for their particular experience and skills.  To overcome this, make sure you take the time to really understand what the position entails even before applying. 
b.      If you did get an interview and then got rejected, make sure to ask for feedback.  If you get it, it could help you better prepare for future interviews.  ONE THING TO NOTE: If you don’t get feedback, don’t harass the hiring managers or recruiting team.  Nobody likes a stalker!  Just accept that it didn’t work out, and move on. 
3.       Don’t give up!  I can’t tell you how many times resilient candidates eventually get hired for the exact same position where they had originally been rejected.  Setbacks happen.  How you handle these setbacks is what is important. 
4.       Get active!  Exercise is a great way to improve your outlook on your current situation.  Studies have shown this over and again.  Earlier in my career whenever I had to deal with a tough client or handle a challenging situation, I used to take a 10 minute walk in advance just to calm my nerves and clear my head.  I still do this occasionally.  It works!
5.       Network, network, network.  “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” isn’t just a saying.  People who are better connected within their industry will consistently get better jobs.  Period.  If you’re looking for work and not networking within your industry, you are fighting a losing battle.
6.       Stay positive.  No one likes being rejected.  It can affect our self-confidence and cause us to start thinking negatively.  I’m telling you to ignore those negative thoughts and stay positive.  You owe it to yourself!  There’s nothing worse than seeing a candidate come in for an interview who bears the scars of previous rejections.  Shake it off, and keep going!
Everyone has been rejected at some point in their career search. It’s how you handle it that matters.  If I can leave you with one thought on how to handle rejection while looking for your next job, I’d borrow the words of Anne Lamott. 

"I took a long, deep breath and wondered as usual, where to start. You start where you are, is the secret of life. You do the next right thing you can see. Then the next."

Friday, November 30, 2012

Pardon me ma'am, your ingratitude is showing.

Having just wrapped up another season of campus recruiting, with all my college Seniors hired and ready to start their careers upon graduation next summer, I thought I’d take a minute to discuss something that has become an increasingly underwhelming trend. 

Everyone knows that after your interview, you’re supposed to send a thank you note.  If you aren’t aware of that (or worse, if you are aware of that and still don’t do it), you may as well stop reading this right here and go back to some of my more remedial articles about the basics.  Following up with a thank you note and a phone call are often a deciding factor in who gets hired.  Period.
I’ve seen and heard many people debating whether the thank you note should be emailed or hand-written.  Quite frankly, that’s not even a debate (Sorry if that offends any of you who are old school, but it’s the truth!).  EMAIL IS THE WAY TO GO. Once you get an OFFER, then you can send a handwritten thank you note.  Heck, then you can send them a fruit basket for all I care.  But UNTIL you receive an offer, time is of the essence, and snail mail is good for nothing other than holiday cards and things like the Penny Saver (that place you may be looking for your next job if you’re not learning the Art of the Interview).
BUT that’s not what troubles me.  What I’ve noticed more and more lately is the complete lack of follow up from candidates once they find out that they WEREN’T hired.  The truth is, right now the job market is tough.  So, companies can only hire a certain number of the candidates that get interviewed.  That’s not the hiring manager’s fault, the recruiter’s fault or the candidate’s fault (that is, if the candidate did his or her best in the interview process).  It’s a BUDGET and TIMING issue. 
I’ve been in the talent acquisition space for quite some time now, and I can tell you that many companies don’t even bother with (or forget) to send a formal rejection email or make that tough call to tell someone they didn’t get the job.  Those emails and calls are tough to make!  So when you get that email or call, make sure you’re thankful…and be sure to let them know you appreciate the opportunity.
I’ll give you an example.  I recently had to share the news with dozens of candidates that after multiple interviews, the hiring manager opted to go with another candidate.  <<CRICKETS>>  No response from any of them - that is, except for one guy who we’ll call Jordan.  Upon receiving the “Thanks for interviewing, but we unfortunately decided to hire someone else." email, Jordan immediately took the time to thank me for  my time, reiterate both his desire to get into the industry and his admiration for the company.
BINGO!  I get these emails from time to time, and these candidates are always at the top of my list should anything else come up.
In corporate America, things change all the time: there could be a need to increase headcount, the person who accepted the offer you were hoping for could change their mind, someone could get promoted or resign.  Any one of these things could happen TOMORROW….and they often do. 
I’m not a gambling man.  In fact, I think I’ve only bought about $10 worth of lottery tickets in my entire life.  But you can bet the farm, when one of these events does occur (and they almost always do), Jordan and others like him who take the time to do this will be the first ones I call!
I know that I preach “attitude of gratitude” a lot.  Consider this just an extension of that.  Even when you don’t get the job or promotion you really want, taking the time to show some thanks will ALWAYS make an impression on whoever is on the receiving end of that.
Until next time, best of luck in your career endeavors!

Monday, June 25, 2012

There's more to life than Social Media Networking!

So I just got back from a Recruiting Conference in Las Vegas.  As is often the case, most of the sessions’ topics were on social media.  I’ve been playing in the social media and recruitment sandbox for a few years now, so much of the material was a review for me.  But there were some good takeaways, and getting to spend 5 days in Vegas was fun (although in the future, I’m setting a maximum limit of 3 days for any trips to the Sin City…if only because, as a non-gambler, I get bored after a while).
But all that talk about social media got me thinking.  Have we really shifted that much in our interpersonal relationships and our means of interacting with each other?  Is that really a good thing?  Well, I can’t debunk what I’ve already said a million times about how great Social Media is for your career and your job search.  BUT I will say this…. SOCIAL MEDIA IS ONLY ONE MEANS OF NETWORKING…and quite frankly, if you’re not networking and interacting the old fashioned way (you know with handshakes, phone calls, hand written thank you notes, etc..), you are missing the boat.
Have we come so far that we’ve forgotten the basics?  Here’s the deal.  Whether you’re a baby boomer, Gen X, Y or a Millennial, networking is an absolute must!  Here are just a few ideas to help you become a better networker.
1.       Face-to-face encounters.  In today’s increasingly “online” world, in-person meetings are becoming a thing of the past.  We Skype, text, tweet, but we often skip out on the face-to-face meetings.  Making the time to meet with a colleague, friend or client will make you stand out from the competition.  If you’re looking for a job, trying to build your client base, or just trying to build a lasting relationship, don’t underestimate the power of the in person meeting.

2.       Handwritten thank you notes.  NO, I’m not talking about an email!  When you get business from a client, or when you have an interview with a prospective employer, a $2 card with a nice thank you note goes a long way!  Like I’ve said before, I get a dozen calls a day from people wanting my business and from candidates wanting to work for me.  The ones who take the time to send a hand written thank you note ALWAYS STAND OUT ABOVE THE REST (This is true of any other personal gestures as well….I had a candidate send me a USMC Christmas ornament once, which was awesome!  I hadn’t even mentioned the fact that I’m a veteran, but he must have done his research and found this out about me.  Talk about him winning me over!)

3.       Celebrate others!  Remember their birthdays, their anniversaries, their kids’ names and make sure you let them know you care enough to remember. Often, you don’t need to do anything more than a quick phone call to congratulate them.  Believe me, it goes a long way! People like to be remembered.  If you’re the candidate who remembers my birthday and leaves me a voicemail wishing me well, I promise I will remember you.

4.       Facilitate introductions.  This is the most overlooked, but the most important of all networking tips.  Taking the time to send an introduction or a job tip, etc.. to those in your network helps not only solidify your relationship with these people.  It also brands you as a powerful networker.  The Biblical adage “do unto others” is alive and well.   If you want to get the inside scoop from your network on jobs and other professional news, you’ve got to be a giver yourself.  Share what you know!  People will appreciate and reciprocate. 

Now, these are just a few examples of ways you can take your networking offline.  I’d love to hear from you on other means you use.  Until next time, STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER and go network in real time!  Remember, a handshake and a hug (if appropriate) will make you stand out above the competition…whether you’re looking for a job, trying to get promoted or just build yourself a powerful network!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Art of a Thankful Heart

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!”
– Henry Ward Beecher, American Congregationalist clergyman
The process of finding a new job can be grueling.  You network, you scour the web, you apply for jobs, you may even cold call (if you are actually serious about finding a job, that is).  Then, there are the phone screens, the in-person interviews, the 2nd round of interviews, the waiting.  It can be tough, I understand that!  I see it all the time.  But what do you do when it’s all said and done and you get the call or standard email saying

“Thank you for interviewing, but we’ve decided to pursue other applicants at this time.”?

In the last 24 hours, I’ve had to notify two individuals that they were not getting hired for two different, but highly sought after positions.  Their responses, each so different from the other, gave me pause to…
The first gal got the call telling her we had opted to hire another candidate.  Her response was just downright rude!  After the call, she sent an email to several people on the team using ALL CAPS on certain words to prove her point about how UPSET she was with us, how our PROCESS was SO AWFUL, etc...even though just minutes prior I had told her we would absolutely consider her should something else open up.  Well, obviously once I got that response, she’s in my “DO NOT CONSIDER” pile from now until eternity…or until I get distracted from thinking about thanks and start thinking about a softer heart or forgiveness perhaps.

The second guy who had received the news via a voicemail, called me back and said “Thanks so much for the call.  I really appreciate all your efforts throughout the process.  If anything ever changes, please let me know.  Thanks again!”.  I was floored!  And you can believe me, the very next chance I get, I’m going to hire this guy!  Most candidates don’t even respond to emails or voicemails telling them they didn’t get the job.  And I suppose that’s ok.  But if you really want to stand out in the job market, you should.  Just pick up the phone, call the people you interviewed with, and tell them thank you.  It goes a long way.

I’ve heard it said that there is an art to saying thank you, and I have to agree.  However the “art” of it is “doing” it.  Whatever the situation (if you got the offer or didn’t, whether you got the raise or the promotion or if you didn’t), a thankful heart AND MORE IMPORTANTLY a thankful attitude that others can see, will work wonders.

Until next time, keep your chin up and be thankful for something today. It’ll get you where you want to be a whole lot faster than if you’re not.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cold Calling is a MUST for today's job seeker!

There are few things most people, job seekers included, dread more than cold calling.  But if you are serious about landing yourself a new job, COLD CALLING IS A REQUIREMENT.  Believe me, my first recruiting job was 100% commission based and picking up that phone (which suddenly seemed to weigh 50 pounds) made me sick to my stomach at first.  But it is something I had to overcome.  So do you if you want to be successful in your job search.
The biggest reason most of us don’t cold call is we’re afraid.  None of us wants to be rejected.  But if you don’t take the shot, you’ll never make the shot as they say.  As an employer, I expect candidates to take the time to find me and call me about jobs they are interested in. 
If you want the job, you’ll find a way to reach me.

But HOW?  You may be asking yourself.  Here are a few tips to help you get over your fears and stand out in the crowd of job seekers.
1.     Write a script with your pitch· Draft an outline of what you want to get across.  Then, rehearse it (in front of the mirror, on the phone with a friend, leaving yourself voicemails and replaying them to hear how you sound, etc..)  Make sure you’re concise.  There’s no need for this to be longer than 30 seconds initially, one minute at the very longest.  Be sure to sound energetic and upbeat.  Often this can be accomplished by simply standing up while on the phone.  I personally used to do 50 pushups before starting my day of cold calling.  It got the blood flowing, and it made my fears of rejection seem to disappear.
2.     Get past the secretaries and other gatekeepers. Most higher level hiring managers don’t answer their own phones.  So, how do you get past their administrative staff?  Be bold but friendly.  (example “Hello, my name is Jason Phoebus.  Could you please tell me the name of the manager involved in the hiring for xyz position?”  Or you could ask “Hi, could you please provide me with the correct spelling of the name of the manager hiring for xyz position?”)  Both are effective.  Don’t hang up the phone until you at least have the name of the person you need to connect with.  One of the best ways to avoid these gatekeepers all together is call very early or late in the day (before the secretary comes into the office, or after he or she leaves).
3.     Leave compelling voicemails. I get 10 or more voicemails a day from strangers pitching their services or candidates trying to get an interview.  I delete 9 of them usually.  Why?  They bore me to death and don’t have anything compelling in them.   BE BOLD “I understand you’re hiring for a Staff Accountant. I’d like to share with you how I might be able to join your team and have an immediate impact on your bottom line.”  Or “I understand you’re hiring for a Software Developer.  I recently just led a project of this (insert really cool project you have worked on).  I’d love to meet with you to share how I believe my skills might be able to increase your firm’s standing in the tech space.”  Whatever it is, you should practice your voicemail over and over.  Leave your friends your voicemail, and ask for feedback.  Leave yourself a voicemail.  You’ll be surprised how awful they sound at first.  But with a little practice you’ll be a pro in no time!
A couple other pointers:
o    Always speak clearly and slowly. 
o    Repeat your name (even spell it if it’s like my last name where people have a hard time understanding it) twice.
o    Repeat your phone number twice.
o    Thank them in advance for their call back.
o    Let them know you’ll be happy to call back in a day or so if that works better for their schedule (and if they haven’t called you back in a day or so, KEEP YOUR PROMISE and call them back)   
Until next time, go make yourself some cold calls and HAVE FUN DOING IT!!  You’ll be surprised how easy it is to find a new job when you’re A BOLD JOB SEEKER!!