Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Blog Address

I have officially moved my blog to www.RecruiterUncensored.com. Please join me there. Blogspot was fun while it lasted. The new blog still needs some tweaks. You'll notice the new features as they are added. Thanks in advance for following me to my new site.

Friday, February 19, 2010


What could airplanes possibly have to do with a job search? I'll get to that in a moment. First, a little background.

I hate to fly. HATE IT! Even though I look composed while securely strapped in my seat, I'm a mess of nerves. When I fly there is always a Reader's Digest in my hands. The humor pages help distract me from my anxiety during take-offs and landings.

Because I hate to fly, I am only boarding a plane when my destination is so far away I'd rather risk death by airplane crash than endure days of highways and road trip food. That means my flights are long. Long flights are to blame for the second problem I have with flying, who I get stuck sitting next to.

Surely I'm not alone in dreading who my flight buddy might turn out to be. Even though we're only talking a few hours, it doesn't seem that way when pressed for space and trying to tend to ones sanity. My tolerance goes way down. Will I be stuck next to a talkative wiggler? Will the person get up and down constantly for bathroom breaks and carry-on bag search expeditions? Will the person be drowning in some Calvin Klein scent designed to gag those who haven't built up an immunity?

The person who sits down in the seat next to me is a big deal. We're going to spend crucial time together. Their proximity to me will play a role in my ability to hit my goal of getting off the plane without enduring an embarrassing panic attack. Never mind this person may be the person I share my last precious moments of life with should the plane run out of gas or all of the screws suddenly rot away. Do you see the significance?

Now, for how this relates to the world of job searches. If you are a candidate being interviewed for a job, it's not impossible the interviewer is wondering what it would be like to sit next to you on an airplane. Okay, not exactly, but kind of. Your skills may be top notch, but how would it feel to be stuck in a confined space through stressful moments with you? Keep in mind people often spend more waking time interacting with co-workers than their own families. That's a lot. No one is going to want to saddle themselves with someone who drives them bonkers. That's not meant to be a dig. It's part of the human condition to drive people bonkers at times. We all have the potential to annoy someone if we are out of sync with how that person operates.

This isn't about discrimination or not appreciating diversity. I'm not condoning individuals who don't give people a chance because they are different from them in some way. We all do need to learn how to reach out to others and compromise. What I'm pointing out is the reality that personalities and habits play a role. Skills alone aren't enough to proclaim someone a fit. On the bright side, the door swings both ways. Job seekers are equally capable of recognizing a potential supervisor may not be in sync with them enough for the job to be a good option. Chemistry matters to both sides and that's okay.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

You Don't Know What You're Missing

This is going to sound like a no-brainer, but when you make a networking connection it is important to provide that person with a way to get in touch with you. Job seekers who are out mingling with the business crowd have the ear of a number of people in a position to learn of opportunities soon to hit the market. It's fantastic to give those you meet an idea of what leads would benefit you. What's tragic is when you do that and leave them wanting to help you, but fail to provide a means for them to find you in the future. I'm in that boat right now. I met a wonderful woman a few days ago with a solid background in her field. Today I learned of a position through my Twitter feed I'd love to tell her about. I can't though. As luck would have it, I only know her first name. She has my card and left me with a promise to email me her contact information. I'm sure I'm on her list and will here from her in the near future. Unfortunately, the near future may be too late for her to capitalize on the lead that crossed my desk today.

Don't miss out on opportunities because people have no means of finding you. Create a business card you use for your job search efforts. Update your profile on LinkedIn. Send an email to those you meet reminding them of your contact information. Job seekers who aren't conducting confidential searches should be the most findable people on the planet.

If you are reading this post and wondering if the lead I have might be for you, dig out my card and drop me a line. I'd love to pass this job information on.

A Thank You A Day Keeps Your Job Search In Play!

Do you want to add more energy to your job search? Commit to sending out at least one thank you letter a day. Truly motivated individuals will shoot for more. Why assign a goal to the process of sending out thank you letters? It's simple. When you have a goal like that you are more likely to stay focused on having the type of contact with people that would warrant sending a thank you. This contact dramatically increases the odds of you finding employment sooner.

As much as I appreciate job seekers realizing the importance of sending thank you letters in general, it is stunning to me how many only have the occasional need to send one out. If you are only cranking out one or two a month, you've got trouble! Either you're neglecting to say thanks or you simply aren't doing enough to justify more. As much as the first possibility disappoints me, the second is worse. Insufficient activity can be your worst enemy during a search. Imagine the momentum you could be experiencing if you had thirty people to thank each month versus two. Tell yourself each day I'm going to connect with at least one person in a way that warrants follow-up with a thank you note. Every week that goes by with you adding 7 people to your job search efforts will bring you closer to the prize.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Are You Fixing What's Truly Broken?

A dear friend of mine is on the umpteenth version of her resume. She's constantly tweaking the content. She's been looking for a job for several months now and keeps feeling the need to make changes. Everyone is weighing in on what could be different or better.

What's interesting to me is she hasn't really had trouble landing interviews and connecting with people. Since the resume serves as part of the foot in the door process, my bet is that she is fixing something that isn't broken. The best indicator your resume needs work is the absence of interviews. Since she's doing fine in that area, something further down the line is likely causing her problems. It could be any number of things. The key is identifying where the problem is in the process and focusing on correcting likely causes. Investing time, energy and resources repairing what is already working well for you in a job search won't change the outcome.

Another friend has been working very hard on interviewing techniques. He's read many books and attended a number of workshops on the subject. Great idea, but he has the opposite problem of the friend I described previously. He rarely gets called for interviews. Though it's valuable to refine interview skills, for him he probably needs to devote more time to improving his flow of job leads, his resume and his introduction to companies. His ability to interview well won't amount to much if he doesn't repair whatever is preventing him from having a chance to show that skill off.

So, how do you know what to fix? Break the process of landing a job down into categories and figure out where you are coming up short. If you aren't getting interviews, perhaps your resume and means of identifying job leads are failing you. If you are getting plenty of first interviews, but aren't being invited back as a finalist, something may be wrong with how you engage the decision maker, show your relevance for the job and address the questions asked of you. If you get to the final stage and aren't getting acceptable offers, you likely are fine in the resume and question answering department. Your attention probably needs to be directed towards your efforts to close the deal. Perhaps you are lacking in negotiation skills or in the way you highlight how your strengths translate to bottom line value for the company. Another unfortunate possibility is that your references are causing a snag. Something to think about.

In a nutshell, there are things job seekers need to fix along the way. Keeping an open mind to how you or your strategy should change is important. Make sure you are fixing the part of your search that is actually broken, however. Focusing on the wrong things just adds to the frustration one feels when putting forth a lot of effort with minimal return.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Don't Be A Momentum Killer

When I encounter a job seeker determined to dwell on the negative, it feels a lot like when a slow moving vehicle pulls out in front of me and forces me to take my foot off the gas pedal. One moment I'm cruising along, accomplishing things on my mission. In the next moment, I'm stuck waiting for a person to speed up or pull over so I can continue on my way.

I understand there are many things that stink about looking for a job. Times are tough and the list of potential things to complain about is long. Perhaps your own mission lacks momentum at the moment, but others may have what it takes to lead the way out of this mess. If you meet people traveling at a fast pace and aren't prepared to stay ahead of or beside them, pull to the side and let the leaders roll by. No one benefits if everyone gets to the finish line late. Ride in the draft. It will make the journey easier for all. When you aren't at the top of your game, the best contribution you can make to a team effort is to avoid getting in the way. Who knows? After drafting you may find the power to move to the front when others run out of energy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Palm-to-Forehead Moments

Have you ever had a palm-to-forehead moment after an interview when you realized you failed to mention key details about your qualifications and accomplishments? You're not alone. I'm going to skip the lecture on how proper preparation prior to an interview helps prevent this outcome and jump right to what to do when it happens.

Keep in mind what employers hope to accomplish from an interview. The goal is to process as much relevant information as possible to determine if the person can do the job well, enhance the team, be retained for a reasonable amount of time and help meet corporate objectives. If there is something about your background that is important to figuring out if you are the right person for the job, decision makers usually want to know. Your "I wish I would have said that" could easily result in "I wish I would have known that" for employers if you leave information off the table.

So, what's a good plan for fixing the problem? The decision to reject you for a job usually comes quickly after an interview. Whatever you failed to share with an interviewer needs to be addressed immediately. That means an email or phone call is in order. I recommend an email because it can be shared readily with other decision makers and included in your file.

Here's an example of what I would say...

Dear Tom,

Thank you for the time you took to meet with me today. My interest in the Sales Manager role is high. After reflecting on our conversation, I realized I have additional information that may help you determine if I am the best fit for your opportunity and wanted to share it with you immediately.

First, I am an active member of 'XYZ Association' and have access to a number of corporate and community leaders. These contacts would enhance my efforts to grow your business. Second, I am fluent in French. Your company has operations in Quebec. In the event having a bilingual individual on staff would benefit you, I wanted to be sure you were aware of my language abilities.

Thank you again for your consideration. I hope the additional information I provided was helpful. If you would appreciate further details, I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.


That gives you an idea. The key is to make it clear the information is being shared to benefit the decision maker. There is no need to dig into why you forgot to mention this or that. Keep it simple and get to the point quickly. Feel free to beef this up with an additional paragraph reiterating what you revealed in your interview that makes you a fit, just don't turn the email into a novel. The point of this message is damage control. If you supply this information and are still rejected for a job, at least you'll know you were ruled out with all critical information on the table. You won't have to wonder if the outcome would have been different had the decision maker known what you failed to share.