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."