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!!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Be a better detective. Get a better job.

Be a better detective. Get a better job.
As is often the case, I’m helping someone near and dear to me find a new job.  We’ve put together a solid resume and are now at the stage where the marketing can really begin.   And then he asks me… “Why wouldn’t I just apply online or send my resume to the recruiter?  Why would I send to the hiring manager?”  I thought to myself… “HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN ME?” But instead I decided to use this moment as an opportunity to train my buddy.
I’m a Recruiting professional but my educational background is in marketing, so perhaps it’s my marketing background that makes networking seem, to me, like the natural way to find a new job.  Or, perhaps it’s because I’m also a good detective. 
When I was about 12 years old (and a huge fan of crime tv shows, Magnum PI in particular), I read a news article about a woman who had gone missing in my hometown.  I got up the nerve to call the local police station, put on my deepest “grown up” voice and I offered my private investigation services to help them find her.  They naturally turned me down, when my parents found out they were mortified, but I really wanted to be a PI!  And now I kind of am one.
My current and previous two jobs are jobs I found (and they have all been wonderful!) on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  I NEVER APPLY TO POSITIONS ONLINE (until I have already spoken with someone at the company). 
TIP #1 Everyone always asks “How?”.  The biggest challenge people have is not knowing where to find the hiring managers’ names and contact info.  Here’s what you do.  First of all, LinkedIn is a great place to see who works at your company.   You can search an employee’s (or hiring manager’s) employment status on LI by “current and past”, “current” or “past”.  I recommend using “current and past” to get more results.
TIP #2 You can also find names of people at companies using other sites such as and  ZoomInfo is not a social networking site, so you can often find info there you won’t see on twitter, LI or FB.  PRNewsWire is a great site for press releases which can give you current, updated news about companies you are interested in.
TIP #3 Also check out sites such as and Facebook.  Or (and here’s a tip I usually reserve for my best clients), find out the email domain of the company that you are looking at and do a Google search with the string.  Meaning if the company domain is, go to your favorite search engine and type in “” using the quotation marks as I have here.  This will often give you additional names and contacts that aren’t listed anywhere else.  Why?  When executives and hiring managers go to conferences or events, they often register using their email addresses.  The people who put on the conferences usually keep a list of attendees and for some reason, they usually publish this on their websites.
Once you find the names:
·         Craft a personal email
·         Write down and prepare a dynamic voicemail message
·         Have a talk track ready (in case they actually answer the phone when you call)

Let me know how well these tips work for you, and as always.. much continued career success to you all!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Interviews are a two way street.

(part 2 of "So you think you're special?")
Interviews are a two way street.  When I’m interviewing someone for a certain position, I always have my predetermined list of questions ready to go.  I also have follow up questions prepared for when the interview takes unexpected turns.  And I always leave the interview knowing what I need to know about the candidate to determine whether or not I will move forward with them.
If you want to stand out in the crowd, you need to BE PREPARED.  I can’t tell you how many candidates I have interviewed who had very few or even no questions prepared to ask me.  It’s honestly a shocking number!  If you’re interviewing for a new job, you need to leave your interview knowing as much about me, my company and the position you are interviewing for as is humanly possible.
How do you prepare for this?  Well, first and foremost you should do your due diligence and research my company.  Find connections on LinkedIn who work here and reach out to them for insight.  Do a Google search or check out to see what our employees are saying about us.  Get to know the company as much as you possibly can before ever accepting an interview invitation.  Do some research on the industry.  Look up which companies are competitors of the company you’re interviewing with and get to know the key players in the industry.
ASK QUESTIONS.  If a candidate doesn’t ask me questions, I don’t consider them a strong candidate…PERIOD.
Here’s a quick list of my favorite questions candidates ask:
1.       How would you (or my new boss) determine my success once I accept this role?
2.       What is the career path for someone coming into this role?
3.       If you were me, what would you do to prepare yourself for success knowing what you know about this position, this team, my new boss, etc..?
4.       How do I rank compared to other candidates you’ve interviewed?
5.       Is there anything about my background that concerns you or that you need more clarification on to make your decision?
These are just a few.  But if you ask smart questions, you’ll get good answers.  So many candidates ask “What’s the next step?” type of questions.  But most never ask the tough questions like “Is there anything about my background that concerns you?” or “How do I compare to the others you’re interviewing?”.
I think it’s human nature.  Perhaps you’re scared to hear the answers, perhaps you’re not confident enough to ask the tough questions.  My advice to you is GET OVER IT!   Make it a point to ask solid questions so you will truly know everything you can know about the job.  You’ll come across sounding smarter than the average guy, and you’ll most likely get invited to the next round of interviews….or perhaps even get yourself the offer!
Until next time, best of luck in your interviews.  Be bold and ask the tough questions.  Remember, YOU’RE INTERVIEWING THEM as much as they’re interviewing you.  Make them sell you on the opportunity!  You’ll be glad you did.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 think YOU'RE special?

I have a confession to make to you all.  I took too much of my own advice and landed myself a great new job which has, unfortunately, pulled me away from staying in touch with you as often as I should have.  But I’m back, and I have even more tips for you as you navigate your job search.
So…You think YOU’RE special? is a blog series dedicated to sharing with you easy ways you can stand out in the droves of applicants seeking the job you were destined to have.

So…You think YOU’RE special?  Really!?  I interview about 1,000 people every year.  Year in, year out….whether I like it or not.  If you were one of those 1,000 candidates I interviewed, do you think you would have stood out?  Let me ask you that in another way…..
o   Did you have the best pressed suit?
o   Were you the guy with the most accomplishments?
o   Were you the girl who shared my alma mater?
o   Did you have the best haircut?
o   Did you have the best smile?
o   Did you have the strongest technical knowledge?
If you didn’t have ALL of these things (and more), the chances are you didn’t stand out.  No matter how unique our backgrounds are, how many significant things we’ve accomplished, what our educational credentials are, etc… we’re all very much the same in many ways.  That’s a good thing…and a bad thing.  The reason for the latter is because if we’re all very similar, HOW CAN YOU STAND OUT?  You want your interviewers to remember you!  Heck, you WANT them to HIRE you!  They can’t hire you if they forget you moments after your interview.
This is a multi-set blog I’m bringing to you, but this first tip on how to be remembered is this –
This evening as I was walking the dogs, my phone alerted me of a new message.  I looked quickly while juggling the dog leashes and dodging the cars driven by the slightly tipsy drivers leaving their various happy hour engagements, and I saw a “Thank you” email from a Berkeley student who I recently interviewed.  It reminded me, yet again, how important it is to say thanks after your interviews.  Here’s why…
If your interview was great – and you send a thank you note, it will confirm and validate the hiring managers already good feelings about you. 
If your interview was decent – and you send a thank you note, it might be that one thing that tips the scale in your direction and gets you the offer instead of that joker with the better suit and the whiter teeth who interviewed right after you.
If your interview was awful – and you send a thank you note, it may not get you the job right now.  But it sure as heck will keep you at the top of the list should the top candidate get the offer and decline…or if another position comes open, and your thank you note is sitting on their desk they just may call you.  Who knows, they may have even forgotten how botched your interview was and call you just because your name (and thank you note) are in front of them.
Trust me.  This works time and time again.  “Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.” (Seneca).  Religions and self help programs have stressed GRATITUDE as being one of the QUICKEST ways to attaining peace and serenity.  I’m here to tell you, they’re right!  Being THANKFUL will bring you peace, serenity AND it will quite possibly be the one thing that gives you the leg up so you can kick the other guy’s butt in the job market and GET YOURSELF A JOB OFFER!
Say thanks, and say it often…
We’ll continue this “So…YOU think YOU’RE special?” series next week with another quick and easy way to stand out in the crowd.  Until then, all my best!