Archive for December, 2009

The Light At the End of Your Job Search

Posted in Communication, Confidence, Empowerment, Interviewing, Job Search, Motivation, Recruiter on December 14, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

Have you ever noticed that as soon as you land a position other opportunities start presenting themselves? Do you find that strange?  What about the phenomenon that occurs when several companies ask you to interview in quick succession?  How does that happen and why is it so unpredictable?  Well, there are several factors that play into these occurrences.  Some things that influence it are the market, the number of positions you applied for, and the depth of your network.  However, I am going to suggest that the number one contributor to this type of opportunity flow is the waxing and waning of confidence.

There’s no statistical evidence that I am aware of,  but if you just look at other key indicators, I believe a significant argument can be made for this case.  I’ve spoken with thousands of job seekers and heard their stories and a clear pattern has emerged.  If you imagine yourself in the scenario below, I’m sure you will get a sense of familiarity if you’ve ever spent any significant time seeking opportunities.

The First Wave – You have just entered the job market.  You’re riding high off the fact that you “have time” thanks to your severance package.  Furthermore, you know your skills are in demand.  You believe you’ll have a job in no time.  You talk to friends and let them know what’s going on.  Some  people are even jealous of your little break from the rat race.  What’s more, you already have a few prospects from people you know from the industry.  You have two or three interviews scheduled.  “This is going to be easy”, you think to yourself.  You go to the first interview full of confidence.  It ends with a lot of smiles and handshakes.  They tell you that you will hear back from them soon.  The waiting begins.  You think back on your interview.  It’s been two weeks since you heard anything and your calls weren’t returned.  You begin doubting yourself.  The other interviews follow suit. The future stops looking so bright.

The Second Wave – After some time you start to reevaluate your search.  Everyone you’ve spoken with confirms that the market is tough and what you are experiencing is normal.  It may not get you a job, but somehow it makes you feel a little better.  You start to reminisce on the earlier days in your career when things were easier.  Sure you made less money, but you had more fun.  You were in the trenches with your comrades or you had the chance to do the “real work” where the action happens.  Right now, you’d welcome the return of those days.  In fact maybe that’s what you should’ve done all along.  You get excited.  Now you have more jobs to choose from and a greater chance at landing something.  You start getting calls again, a few more interviews are scheduled, and you’re back in the saddle. 

The Third Wave – Looking at broader search criteria has helped you get more interviews, but the employers are concerned about you taking a “step back”. As a result, no one has pulled the trigger despite the fact that you’re offering them a bargain.  You’re getting a little frustrated with the whole situation.  You’re almost thinking of starting your own business.  You start looking into your options.  You realize that all these years you could’ve been your own boss.  You’re beginning to gain a strength that isn’t dependent upon whether or not you’re hired by one of the companies you’ve applied to.  You know you have value and if no one is going to take you up on your offer to impact their company, you’ll make an impact of your own.  You start thinking that all these companies have been doing you a favor.  They helped you to realize that you are not defined by your job.  You feel so good that you’re not certain if you ever want another job again.  That’s when your phone rings.  It’s a recruiter.

The Fourth Wave – You decide to go in for the interview.  Because you’re not concerned about the outcome, you are very confident.  Who knows, this company may turn into a sales prospect for your new business. You engage the interviewer(s).  You tell them your story and you even secretly give them your new sales pitch on how to improve certain facets of your industry.  You leave the interview and get back to work on your ideas for your business.  You don’t give the interview another thought except to send thank you notes. A few days later the phone rings.  The recruiter wants to know if you can do another interview.  You say yes.  A couple weeks later you’re signing an offer letter.  You say to yourself, “this is nice, but if it doesn’t work out I have my back up plan.”  For the next few months, with a twinge of pride,  you have to tell recruiters that you found a position.

While this may not be your exact story, I’m sure the message is not lost.  Confidence is key.  Not only have I personally experienced this phenomenon, I have spoken to numerous job seekers that can testify to a similar experience.  I have also spoken to people who had new jobs before their first severance check cleared.  I can tell you that these individuals made decisions quickly and did not lack in the confidence department.  Of course, just being confident won’t land you a job, but without it, you may never be able to convince employers to give you a chance.  So be mindful of your confidence level throughout your search and be sure to participate in activities that will keep it high as you seek opportunities.

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Companies Have Feelings Too

Posted in Communication, Interviewing, Job Search, Rules of Engagement on December 11, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

On December 9, 2009 we hosted a webinar entitled, “The Anatomy of the Interview Process“.  During the presentation we discussed how a company’s interview process is their formalized relationship building practice.  Our goal was to convey to job seekers the fact that like all relationships, the interview process is designed to evolve in stages.  Therefore, a key contributor to interviewing success is respect for the process.

To illustrate these stages we loosely compared the interview process to the stages of forming a long term romantic relationship.  These stages were labeled as:

  • The Screening  –  “The Interest Building Stage”
  • The Telephone Interview  –  “The Curiosity Stage”
  • First Round Interview  –  “The Present Compatibility Stage”
  • Second Round Interview  –  “The Future Compatibility Stage”
  • Final Interview  –  “The Proposal”
  • The Offer  –  “The Confirmation”
  • The Trial Period  –  “The Honeymoon”

We understand that when people are on the job market, interviewing can feel like a “David and Goliath” situation, but when it comes down to David won.  When you interview, keep in mind that it is a meeting between equals.  The company has a problem and they are hoping that you are the solution.  If you feel that you are, help them to see it.  You can’t do that if you are hiding behind a fear that they will reject you, nor can you be clear if you don’t realize that their process is meant to protect them from making a hiring mistake.

It’s all about relationships and we all know what it is like to learn lessons from previous relationships.  Well companies do too and often times their interview process reflects that.  To go a little deeper, let’s explore some hypothetical situations that can hurt a companies feelings.

Long Commute – Long distance relationships are hard.  We’ve tried them before and had an unpleasant experience. One of our best employees left us for a company closer to home.  It was hard to see them go.  Since then we are only interested in people within a certain mile radius.

Too Much Pay – “More attractive” offers are hard to pass up.  We once hired someone who was “willing to take a considerable pay cut for the opportunity to be a part of our company”.  Three months in she was offered a deal that was an increase on her previous salary.  That put us behind on a critical project.  Now we only look at people that have salaries within our range or are extremely close.

Career Level – We once hired a Sr. VP who “longed to return to his individual contributor days”.  From the first day there were challenges.  He had no patience for his coworkers with less experience and tried to assume the lead on every project he was a part of.  Despite his talent, we had to let him go for morale reasons.  From now on we pay attention to the previous roles our candidates have held.

Former Employees –  We once hired a former employee who left the company for a better deal. Three years later she applied and was hired for a position similar to the one she held previously. By six months it was obvious that she wasn’t happy.  She cited that the company was not as she remembered it.  Now we treat hiring former employees very delicately. 

We hope that stories told in this context will help job seekers see the human element of the interview process.  Understanding that a lot of the decisions made in the hiring process are not personal cannot only help you to stay motivated throughout your job search, it can also empower you to address the circumstances from the company’s point of view.  That’s engagement–something you should always be mindful of when building relationships.

If you’d like to hear more insight on subtleties of the interview process visit the links below from our webinar: