Archive for the Interviewing Category

Every Hire Is A Miracle

Posted in Confidence, Hiring Managers, Hiring Trends, Interviewing, Job Search, Motivation, Networking, Recruiter, Rejection, Uncategorized on February 9, 2010 by jcsicareerassist
Your Resume Has To Get Through Here

Your resume is in here

As you can see, it has been a month since our last blog post.  Let this be a sign for those of you on the job market that better days are coming.  We have been working on some hard to fill positions that did not allow me to complete some of the blog posts that I have started.  This post was one of them.  The inspiration for the title came from the fact  that behind the scenes of every job posting, there exists  a complete network that is constantly expanding and contracting, bringing in people and releasing them all in an effort to make the right fit.

Many of you will agree that navigating today’s job market is a mystery. With so many avenues to potentially connect with employers, how can one know which one will bring the results they are looking for? Do you rely on your recruiter, the job boards, and social media or do you stick to your network? And what if you don’t really know how to network? With so much to think about it’s hard to see how anyone gets hired even when the economy is good.

Well the fact is, even if you are the best interviewer in the world and mastered every one of the above mentioned tools and techniques, finding a job is still a miracle when you examine it. Much like the “Butterfly Effect“,  a job opening that ultimately matures into a filled position depends on certain conditions. Most people assume that just because a postion is posted somewhere it means that it will be filled.  This is not always the case.  Unless, the position is open to replace someone who left a mission critical role, many positions are created for other reasons such as anticipated growth, consolidation of functions, or to be solution providers for areas that require some form of process improvement. 

In order to get approval for a requisition, a hiring manager has to make the case that this new role is critical to achieving the goals set forth by the leadership.  Once this is done, they must create a job description to assist them in finding someone that they are not even sure exists. The search ensues using every available resource.  Throughout this time they will receive many resumes.  Some resumes will be close and some will be quite a departure from the criteria.  In the meantime they must interview potential candidates as well as keep the department running.  Each hour that they are interviewing for the right candidate is an hour that they are potentially losing production time or having to work later.

As the process is moving forward there may be several changes made to the requirements, offers can be made and declined, and projections may change based on market fluctuations.  All these behind the scenes situations are directly affecting whether or not a candidate is hired or even interviewed for that matter. Meanwhile many candidates who are unaware that all of this is going on are wondering why they never heard anything back from their online application submission.

Ultimately, most positions are created to keep money and time from being lost or to bring more money in while cutting the time it takes to create the product or service offering.  That means if an organization can figure out a way to get the job done with the resources they have on hand they will hold off on making the hire.  So with that in mind there will always be comparable forces working against a hire as there are working for it.  So do you see why I say every hire is a miracle?

I think this message is important to jobseekers for several reasons, but most importantly, it is for you to have perspective.  One never knows how long a job search will last.  Understanding the process is important to maintaining momentum throughout your search.  There are a lot of moving parts to the recruitment and selection process.  Each of them has to work in concert in order for someone to make it through the entire process.  Multiply this by the number of people applying for the position and you can see that finding the right fit is no easy task for anyone involved.

This is why we encourage candidates to stay the course.  If we thought about all of the people and resources it takes to get eggs to our grocery store, we’d be amazed by every omelette we ever see.  Such is the recruitment process.  The hope is that with this information, you will not let the hiccups of process discourage you in your search, but rather see that when you are called for a phone screen or interview, this dynamic process has come together to give you the opportunity to tip the scales in your favor.  We wish you the best.

January 8th Job Search Resolutions

Posted in Confidence, Interviewing, LinkedIn, New Year's Resolution, Recruiter, Salesmanship, Social Media on January 8, 2010 by jcsicareerassist

Happy January 8th

It cannot be avoided.  It is the new year and talk of resolutions will abound.  However, rather than blog about new year’s resolutions in December when people are speaking of future commitments or January 1st when we are still buzzing with excitement that we survived another calendar year.  I waited a week out when the cloud has been lifted and the high has worn off.  Since it usually only takes about a week for most people to start breaking their resolutions, I felt that those who make it to January 8th are going to take their resolutions seriously enough to get something out of this post.

The following resolutions that I am going to suggest to job seekers are based on what I have heard from candidates on the market, from other recruiters, and from what I’ve witnessed of the way finding a job has changed.

  1. Get active on LinkedIn.  I have asked so many candidates if they are using LinkedIn and so many of them answer, “I’ve been meaning to do that” or  “I don’t see the point.”  I then ask if they know that there are jobs posted on Linkedin.  Very often they don’t.  Here you have a recruiter asking you if you use LinkedIn and you don’t see the point.  Besides finding candidates on LinkedIn, I have been further educated by the benefit of engaging with others with broad perspectives on topics of interest.  If you are on the job market, I suggest taking 2 hours a week to get familiar with this platform.  Even if you don’t see the point, recruiters do and that’s who you are trying to connect with.
  2. Know your value.  Even if you are not a dollars and “sense” kind of person, you need to know that you have something to offer an organization.  Many candidates that I speak to allow their worth to be determined by their W-2.  If you are such a person, without the confidence of having a job already, you are going to give a terrible sales pitch when you interview.  If you need to gauge your worth in money, use your last salary or desired salary to determine how much your time is worth.  Then when you go in for an interview, go in there like you expect to be paid for your time and service because ultimately you do.
  3. Dare to be different.  There’s a quote that says something to the effect of, “If you want results you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.”  I talk to people all the time that won’t even try to extend themselves beyond their comfort zones.  I once had a candidate who would call me every week and just say, “Got anything?” One day I asked him had he tried doing anything different in his job search.  He said he hadn’t.  I gave him the homework assignment of doing just one thing different that weekend, even if it was trying a food that he’d never had.  I wanted him to tell me about it the next week.  He agreed.  A week later the phone rang.  “Got anything”, he asked. I asked him what he had to eat that was different in the last week.  He said he wasn’t able to do it.  I haven’t heard from him since.  In order to manage in this world you are going to have to embrace change.  If you can’t, resolutions aren’t for you anyway.

Rather than beat anyone over the head with other resolution ideas, I will leave you with this.  When we think of resolutions, we commonly think of this far reaching goal that can make us feel inadequte regarding our current position.  This is completely contradictory to the true spirit of what it means to make a resolution.  If you look up the etymology of the word you find that the word originally meant the “process of reducing things into simpler forms”.  In other words, resolutions are meant to make life easier, not harder.  It is a matter of perspective.  The reward is not at the end of the journey.  It is the journey itself.  Decide where you want to be and have fun learning how to get there.

Happy January 8th, 2010!

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.

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:

Be The Turducken When You Interview

Posted in Communication, Empowerment, Hiring Managers, Interview Secret, Interviewing, Motivation, Networking, Personal Brand with tags on November 25, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

With Thanksgiving here, I decided to get festive in my interview analogies by introducing the Turducken as a model for job seekers to consider the next time they sit down for an interview.  For those of you who have never heard of the Turducken, it is a partially deboned Turkey that is stuffed with a deboned duck that has also been stuffed with deboned chicken.  But that’s not it.  There’s more stuff inside.  The minds who invented this culinary delight go further by filling all of the gaps and cavities with other stuffings.  Just thinking about eating it is intimidating to me.  Talk about more than “meats” the eye.

When I heard about the Turducken just recently, my mind went straight to the thought that like this meal, there’s always more to people than what is on the surface.  So keeping with the whole Thanksgiving theme, I thought that it would be a good idea for people on the job market to think about what they are grateful for–the gifts, skills, and talents that they have honed over the years.  Think about what kind of services you can provide to an organization–all of the things that you possess on the inside that are not made visible by a resume or online profile.  The next time you present yourself, be the Turducken.

This may sound like a strange analogy at first, but just imagine that someone asks you to cut the Thanksgiving “bird” and to your surprise you find a duck, and then in that duck, you find a chicken.  If that’s the first time you’ve seen such a thing, you won’t soon forget it.  And, more than that you are going to tell others about it.  That’s what candidates need to go for when they interview.  You want to pleasantly surprise the first interviewer so that they will tell the next person in line and on and on until the whole company gets to know you.  We’ll be talking more about this approach to the interview process in our upcoming webinar, The Anatomy of the Interview Process on December 9, 2009 at 12PM.  In the meantime, I suggest candidates take time  this holiday season to focus on what cannot be seen and working with others on how to share that with others.  If you can get one person talking on your behalf, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Cashing In On Psychic Income

Posted in Closure, Emotional Investments, Empowerment, Interview Secret, Interviewing, Job Search, Motivation, Psychic Income, Rejection, Salesmanship, Uncategorized on November 10, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

Not that kind of psychic.

In our September 14 posting, Managing Your Emotional Investments In A Job Search, we talked about the gambler’s fallacy as it relates to job hunting and offered some tips on how to navigate the waves of emotion that arise as you look toward securing your next job.  In this companion piece, we discuss psychic income, why it can sometimes be more valuable than any other currency, and how to know when to cash it in for opportunities.

In their book, Groundswell: Winning In a World Transformed By Social Technologies, Charlene Li* and Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research discuss the phenomenon of psychic income–the intangible revenue or satisfaction that comes from participating in certain activities.  An example could be the feeling you gain from making a certain purchase or working on a project that calls upon your creative ability.   Because of my genuine interest in people, I derive psychic income from reading, writing, listening, and conversing on almost any topic.  So if it were not for bills, I’d do almost any job for free if it allowed for authentic engagement of some kind.  But because most of us do have bills, we’ll talk about the financial implications of psychic income.

In Groundswell, Jeff Stenski is attributed to have potentially saved Dell over $1 million simply by answering questions on Dell’s Community Forum.  Why has Jeff spent the equivalent of over 123 workdays a year on this forum answering questions about optical drives for free?  The answer of course is psychic income.  Jeff loves to contribute and this forum gives him an opportunity to do so.  As we mentioned in The Ultimate Interview Secret, there are rewards that come from seeking to contribute to your industry or area of expertise and these rewards can be cashed in.

For starters, as long as you are contributing, your skills will keep current.  This has tremendous value.  Added to this, in a depressed market, there is a definite value in engaging with people who have the ability to skillfully transfer their enthusiasm.  This is known as salesmanship and believe it or not, the purchases that we usually feel the best about are usually laden with the psychic income we earned from engaging with the salesperson.  In a world where we have global access to products and services, it is actually the psychic income embedded in those products and services that is the differentiator.  What do you think this information can do for your interviewing skills?

So knowing this, doesn’t it make sense to keep track of your psychic income just as well as you do of your financial income?  We think so.  That’s exactly why this blog exists.  As recruiters we know how taxing the job search can be for everyone involved.  With so many things to consider when making a hire, disproportionate amounts of psychic income can be strewn about with many feeling like they didn’t get the ROI they were hoping for.  Our goal with CareerAssist is to give back to the candidate pool for the time and energy they share with us when they talk to us about the opportunities with our clients.  It may not be the job they were hoping for, but we hope that it contributes in some way.

So if you take anything from this post–whether you are on the job market or engaging with someone who is–let it be this.  Psychic income is part and parcel of every relationship no matter how much time is involved.  So be wise in your deposits and withdrawals.

*Charlene Li has since become an independent thought leader and Founder of Altimeter Group.

The Ultimate Interview Secret

Posted in Communication, Empowerment, Interview Secret, Interviewing, Job Search, Motivation, Uncategorized, Volunteering on November 2, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

The job is already yours.

How many interviews would you say it takes to secure a job? 1, 2, 5000?  The truth is that when it comes to securing a job, the interview doesn’t end until your last day at the company.  Everyday that you engage with an employer is an interview day.  And given this logic, your first “interview” is also your first workday.  This is a secret that  successful interviewees know and apply daily.

The reason companies hire is because they have a problem and they are looking for a solution.  Interviewees who understand this start working for the company as soon as they find out about the opportunity.  The first thing they do is ensure that they understand the challenges of the organization.  Next, they determine if they have the skills or access to the skills required to bring about a solution.  If they do, they will work to communicate to the decision makers that they have a means to ease the pains that the organization is feeling.

Once they are brought in for the interview/first day they begin to consult with the interviewer.  They use this opportunity to demonstrate their ability to listen, engage, and problem solve.  But more than this, they make sure this first hour or so of work shows that they are already adding value to the company.  If they do this successfully, they will be asked to return and it will continue on until a point in time when either the employee or the employer determines that they’ve gone as far as the relationship will presently take them.

You see, the idea that you need a company’s permission to work for them is a fallacy.  By working for any particular industry, you are automatically working for every organization operating in that industry.  When you move on to a different company, it is ideally because it provides an opportunity to make a greater contribution to your industry of choice.  The more value you add to your industry, the more in demand you will be and the greater the reward will be over time.

The mistake that many candidates make is to think that they cannot contribute unless someone hires them.  But the people who find opportunities the fastest are those who are always looking for ways to contribute to their industry.  They volunteer.  They create blogs.  They participate in online discussion groups.  They start online communities.  They even start their own companies. 

Candidates with this mindset have the goal to contribute to their field to the maximum of their ability.  And because they’re passionate they will do this regardless of the number of doors they have to walk through before they start getting paid for their services.  This is the Secret of empowered interviewees and now it’s yours.

To learn more interview success tips, join us for our upcoming webinar on December 9th at noon.  In The Anatomy of the Interview Process, we will discuss:

  • Phone ettiquette
  • Interview Preparation
  • The Recruiter Relationship
  • Managing Company Expectations
  • Navigating the Interview Process and more…

Our presenters will be Sr. Recruiter and Author of “366 Tips for a Successful Job Search”, Cynthia Wright and JCSI Candidate Relationship Manager, Pedro S. Silva II.  We look forward to your participation and welcome your feedback.