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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Working with a Recruiter – common complaints from job seekers & how to avoid them

I encourage all of my recruiter colleagues to jump in with their comments along with those with experience working with recruiters.

As the job market remains competitive, the rumblings continue from frustrated job seekers, many of whom have earned the right to rumble, but just remember who your audience is. Try to stick to family and friends rather than professional acquaintances or even new professional networking connections when it comes to the frustrations of your job search.

Successful recruiters are so because they enjoy working with and helping people as part of who they naturally are, so if you feel like your recruiter didn’t care or was out for themselves or just using you, I am going to ask that you revisit the situation (especially if this is how you feel about every recruiter you have met). I am not saying that there aren’t awful recruiters out there who are manipulative and will lie, cheat and steal to seal a deal, but like in all things in life do your research and ask for referrals. A good recruiter will form a connection with you, even if it is a small one, they will be direct and honest and have expectations of you the candidate.

Most common complaints we hear and how to help avoid them:

  1. They called me in for an interview and had me do all of these tests but then I never heard from them again.
  2. I waited for 35 minutes & my interview was only 15
  3. I was hoping that they would give me more advice OR they spent an hour with me and then I never really got more advice from them
The solution: be prepared, ask questions about the company or agency, know what kind of jobs they typically place for and the types of positions AND PLEASE TAKE NOTES. If the company does a lot of temp2hire or contract work and you are against it, you may want to rethink your interview. On the other hand, should you really turn down a good job, in your field, with a target company just because it is a contract? If you limit your options or have unrealistic salary expectations, then there might not be a good match for you with that particular recruiter. Have you asked, “Is there anything that you see that would keep you from presenting opportunities to me or presenting me to your clients?”
Dress to impress: do you need to wear a suit? not always, but jeans… not really. A 3rd party recruiter is paid based on finding that perfect candidate for their clients (the companies that engage them) and a corporate recruiter is paid a salary to do the same. What I am getting at here is that a recruiter is only as good as their performance, last placement and reputation/integrity for those they work with in business, first impressions are lasting ones and we all must put our best foot forward. Help them see the best in you and leave no room for hesitation or doubt in your ability to be a great asset to their clients.
Know what your true skills and experience are and apply for positions that match this best, not what you would love to do in the future if given a chance. This type of chance/opportunity doesn’t come from applying to a posting online or from explaining to the recruiter that you are a quick learner. I am sorry if this stings, but the chance you are seeking, someone with experience has already taken. I promise to write very soon about career change tips but for now, just trust me on this one.
If you are looking for career advice, interview training, resume critique, networking tips or other “tricks of the trade” I ask that you keep your question to, “How can I improve” rather than rattle off every issue or concern you have or someone has told you that you might have. Then I suggest you engage in a career counselor of sorts. Ask your recruiter if they have 2 that they can recommend, you will want to do your own research but suggestions and referrals are very important.
The reason: Employers/Managers/Companies have become increasingly particular in their requirements and expectations from their recruiters because they feel that the market is full of great candidates that meet each and every one of their bullets on the job description and have that perfect “fit” to boot. A recruiter must use their gut, experience and research to make the best decision for the company (ies) they work with in order to continue their role as a business partner rather than a commodity. Trust and strong relationships with all parties are key to success.
Remember that each moving piece of the recruitment and selection process is a person that should be vested in the other and their relationship. People are people, as the saying goes and this is what causes the most excitement and stress for any recruiter.

Companies & Job Seekers: Staying Ahead of the Competition (using Google Alerts)

It sounds so simple and it is already 2011 so this may be old news to you, but if you are reading this and don’t know what a Google Alert is or think that it is some alarm that reminds you to surf the web that is ok. I was talking to a local business person the other day and they had not heard of this so I thought I would send out a quick bit of information to help you navigate.

As a business owner I am sure you are aware of the fact that you customers, especially if you are servicing or selling to the general public, can be your toughest critic, biggest support and the thing that keeps you up at night. As a consumer, you have read the reviews of businesses you are looking to engage whether it is a restaurant, plumber, accountant, etc… it continues with the machines we are looking to purchase and the ease and ability to get the parts we may need to service them. It doesn’t stop there, it continues with how we are found on the web and what a potential customer finds when they search for us.

One great tidbit I had learned at a social media seminar a few years back that I was recently reminded of was to set yourself up with Google Alerts. What this is, is a way for you to receive an email notification every time something new is posted with your company’s name in it (or any other name/key phrases you would like to know about). With so many different pages and sites to manage I recommend setting this up with your name, your company name, any key competitors you like to keep tabs on and sometimes even key buzz words specific to your industry. If someone posts something about you and your company, respond both personally first and publicly second and then address it with your team. Your employees should be an extension of your eyes and ears both in the office and online.

This also is a helpful tidbit if you are a job seeker. As any savvy job seeker you have a list of key companies you are targeting, right? Well, set up alerts for the companies. This isn’t just to find out if they posted a job you may not have seen on some of the bigger job boards, but were they in the news? Congratulate them with a note and include a copy of your resume. Everyone likes to be recognized.

Free Advice: One way to manage all of the data is to create a separate email address, just don’t forget to check it!

There is a great deal of information on getting to be at the top of a search and the criteria involved but that is for another day.

The Squirrels & Teamwork: Part II (Tips for Employees & Managers)

It was brought to my attention by someone whom I love and respect dearly that I may have gotten off on a tangent with the squirrels and failed to give any meaningful tips or guidance on teamwork, which is not my style.

Guidelines for Successful Teams and How to Be a Good Teammate:

  1. Roles need to be clearly defined or at least have some structure, especially in flat organizations. This is difficult especially when you are trying to have a culture of equality where everyone is given opportunity. The fact is everyone is not equal and has their own strengths which they bring so highlight those to the entire team. Just because you aren’t handing out titles and raises does not mean that each person does not have their place – celebrate that.
  2. Stop making excuses! If your manager is not defining your role in the team it does not mean that you don’t have one, you have a “reason” to complain, that another team member is better than you or it is not your responsibility, or that they are not a good manager. You work there for a reason and you know what you enjoy doing and what you don’t at work, find the balance between the two and continue to strive to be the best.
  3. Push Yourself! If you are only doing the things that you enjoy you aren’t pushing yourself and your abilities. It is common sense that you grab on and want to be great at what you are comfortable with, but then you aren’t adding any dimension to yourself or your group. Look for areas that need help, even it you think it is beneath you, you might be surprised and gain something by helping and teaching another person.
  4. Be a coach, even if it is the assistant coach. We all like to hear that we are doing a good job or some sort of positive reinforcement, so be the person to congratulate another team member by saying good job or wow, how did you do that? If that is uncomfortable, why not write them an email or send the manager an email about something great you noticed and work up to saying something nice. Positivity breeds positivity just the same way negativity breeds, which side will you be on?
  5.  Move around! Stop allowing the same people to work together all the time. Even if it is on a special project or something that doesn’t involve business, like the company charity; split people up. How will you grow as a group if the same minds are working together all the time? Switch it up. Engage someone that you don’t typically work with at least every other month on something you are working on. The true key to success here is to take their advice or opinion and try it and not just once or twice, but I firmly believe you have to try everything 3 times to get the full experience.
I hope that helps round out the first half of the conversation on squirrels and if I can snap a picture in the next day or 2 I will be sure and post it.

Squirrels & Teamwork: Why We All Can’t Be on Top

I was sitting at my kitchen window writing the other morning and I looked at the bird feeder and there was a squirrel on it, which is really frustrating because they keep the birds away. This has been going on for a while but I had not taken the time to notice what was really going on. The squirrel on the feeder was shaking the feeder and dropping food down on the ground to 3 other squirrels patiently waiting at the base of the tree. Rather than get even more frustrated, or better yet tell the man and he grabs a gun, I started thinking about the squirrels in a different way.

Here is this squirrel who climbed up to the top of the tree, has maneuvered himself and is hanging upside down trying to get the food out while the others just seem to be lazily waiting at the bottom. At first I feel that the squirrel in the tree is the only one putting any real energy or risk into the situation until I think about the fact that I could let my dogs out at any moment and the ones at the bottom would be much easier targets. So the squirrel at the top gets to eat first but he does let some fall to the ground for the others, whether this is on accident or by design depends on the squirrel I am sure. All of the squirrels couldn’t be on the top at the feeder it just wouldn’t work and that is where my mind really started to go.

The person who takes the bigger risks and is willing to make the climb typically ends up on top but that doesn’t mean that those on the bottom can’t try too or that they aren’t pulling their weight in their current position. Do the people “on the bottom” feel that they aren’t always getting their fair share? Yes, of course. But what has to be realized is that sometimes there isn’t as much at the top to go around as their may have been in the past. Does the person at the top feel that they are putting in all the risk? Yes, but step back and really look at the big picture, we are all taking risks, some are smaller than others in our eyes but we never truly know all that is involved in the emotion and situation of another persons risk.

The other piece I was contemplating was that you have to be willing to get to the top without any reward (I sometimes forget to fill the feeder just as companies experience tough economic times). That is why when you talk to owners of companies and those who have experienced great success in their careers and you discuss motivators you will find that it isn’t the money or the power and title but the personal satisfaction of realizing what you have accomplished. Most people want to get to the top of something at some point but not everyone is willing to take the risk of falling down because the fall can be long and hard.

By working together, creating and understanding the balance of a relationship you can better appreciate the roles of each person in the organization and where your opportunity to stand out is so that you can show your strengths. What motivates, drives and provides you with that sense of accomplishment?

Wow, Tips from a Dream I had re: the Truth & Your Job Search

So I woke up with a strong feeling that what I had just dreamt was reality. Even though I knew I was dreaming I had to right about it. In my dream, I am running a resume review class with some colleagues and I am training a new person. The line is out the door and around the corner so the pressure is on to meet the needs of all of these people, train the new person and not short change anyone by going to quickly but still being mindful of time if I want to finish by the end of the day. These feelings have been a reality before.

We are going over work history and breezing over techinical tips and moving to things like reasons for leaving, large gaps, moving from mangment to a general staff position, etc… The first thing I recall tell the woman who is training with me is that no one is taking notes. They are sitting there and participating in what is a mock interview session, but not one person has picked up a pen and written anything done.

Bring a notebook, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy but when it is appropriate take notes. Even if it is typically the pad you write your errands in, we won’t know.

Bring a pen, this should go unsaid but people forget, put an extra in your car right now.

Then we get to this one individual, Sara Stevens, who has large gaps, has moved a lot because of a spouses job and hasn’t worked since 2005. This is a tough one so with my fingers crossed I ask about their job search over the past 6 years and it has been pretty light, but with manufacturing down, there haven’t been many positions to apply to. I ask about volunteering, another no. Classes or courses even the ones offered by the Department of Labor, no.

Take advantage of your time off to help yourself grow personally and professionally. You cannot keep yourself held up in your home this can really hurt you and before you know it 6 months can turn into a year and a year can turn into 3, etc…

We want to see you and your mind active and that you were out doing something to better yourself and your community.

Lastly, so when you are looking at hundreds of resumes, you sometimes can skip over the name/address portion because you want to get in to the meat of it. I look at the top because even in my dream I remember being frustrated that the person in front of me was being so closed off to the experience and it says, “Resume of Steve Smith” left justified and right justified in bigger print says “Prepared by Sara Stevens.” So, as I start to get red in the face, I ask Sara why she led me to believe this was her work history and I asked if she had ever worked and she said she had but that she wasn’t getting calls on her resume and she wanted to try this out. I was blown away and my dream ended with me telling her that the reason she still wasn’t getting any calls was because the one she had was most likely just as bad. That I could not believe she would waste my time and the time of others who were serious about her search.

Wow, was I mad when I got up. If you lie or stretch the truth on your resume and think that the person on the other side of the table isn’t going to find out eventually you are truly fooling yourself. Ask for advice, pay for advice, work a contract job or volunteer. Bottom line put your creative energy to use for something other than fabricating your work history or experience.

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