Archive for the Job Search Category

The “Wait” of the World

Posted in Change, Job Search, Recruiter, Uncategorized, Waiting on December 1, 2010 by jcsicareerassist

Right now there are millions of people on a job search that are feeling like they can’t fill out one more application or send in one more resume.  It’s felt like an uphill battle with no end in sight.  They have tapped their network, tightened their resume, and attended workshops all in the hopes that they will find a position that will allow them to get back to their life.  They feel alone and are promising themselves that if they ever get out of this situation, they will never let this happen to them again.

Somewhere in the city, there is a CEO who has been working 80+ hours a week trying to figure out how she can get her company back on track.  Before the economy shifted, they were on target for their best year ever.  Sales were astronomical.  Customers and prospects were getting the message that their products and services were changing the way business is done.  People were willing to take risks because the promises of rewards were so clear.  Now, it seems like they are in a situation where they may have to default on those promises.  She is now wishing that she made more conservative projections about where the company was headed.  She’s determined to turn this thing around and when she does, she will never let this happen again.

Downtown there are elected official who are beginning to lose faith in the system to which they have dedicated so much time.  They were elected on a platform of fiscal change and job creation.  Their plan seemed so easy.  Tighten spending, redistribute funds, eliminate unnecessary programs, and invest in those with the greater potential to yield more income to the state.  In addition, they will hold off on increasing taxes on those most effected by the current economic situation and work on strengthening the state’s infrastructure which will create jobs and equip it to handle the projected growth.

How could they have anticipated a natural disaster?  For several months the resources meant for the new roads were going to relief efforts.  Several companies had to close their doors because they could not sustain this type of hit.  Now there is more competition for fewer jobs which causes delays in hiring which in turn minimizes income from state taxes.  As a result, the legislators must recommend a tax increase on the very ones who put them in office.  The officials know that this will effect their chances at reelection next term and there is so much more they still want to do.  They are going to have to start campaigning early.  Once they are reelected, they will be able to do more of what they hoped to do when they got in office.

Somewhere there is a team of recruiters.  They are working on a position that has been open for 11 months that should have been filled in no more than 6.  This is a critical position that requires very specialized skills.  The person hired will be part of a government project that holds the promise of creating greater access to renewable energy sources. 

However, they are are also flooded with resumes for the many support positions that will report in to this high level official.  There are so many candidates applying for the jobs that it is hard to narrow down to the  ones that could clearly fill these roles.  As a result, the congestion is making it difficult to dedicate time to the lead role. They know it would be better if they filled the lead position first.  If that person can’t work with the team assembled there will be even further delays to getting this project under way.  What can they do? 

Somewhere in between the recruiters and the jobseekers, there is a world that is complicated.  It is an interconnected web with responsibilites, commitments, and intentions that takes countless people behind the scenes to keep it going.  Conflicting needs often appear to battle for precedence and when one wins it seems like the other has to lose.  Yet, at the end of the day, its the wins that make up for all of the apparent losses.

No matter how difficult a situation may appear to be, there is always more to the situation than meets the eye and 9 times out of 10 it isn’t personal.  We’re all working together to keep this world moving.  For those of you on the job search and for those of us who are working to hire people, we need to be mindful that although there is a world between us, we can choose not to bear it on our shoulders.  Keep moving forward.  Keep reaching out.  Make connections and keep your eyes on the prize.  Change takes time, but it will come.  It always does.

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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.

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:

Ending The Confusion About Inclusion – Diversity 2071

Posted in Communication, Diversity, Empowerment, Hiring Trends, Inclusion, Job Search, Small Acts of Recovery, Social Media, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 with tags , , , , on November 20, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

On this blog, we try to offer a thought-provoking take on all subjects related to job seekers and their experience on the job market.  As I’ve mentioned, we believe that empowered job seekers will have a significant impact on the overall turnaround of the market itself.  So when we decided to write about Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), we wanted to offer an outlook that you might not find anywhere else.  Having a clear unfiltered picture of what a totally inclusive culture would mean to the business world will explain why so much effort is being put into creating it.  As job seekers, it’s important to know that D&I isn’t going anywhere and that it’s in everyone’s best interest to understand why it is essential to their success to have an idea of where it is headed.

In order to envision the future of D&I, I began considering what kinds of careers the next generation would reflect upon having grown up in a digital age driven by technologies that allow us to connect and share information with increasing rapidity.  I even chose the year 2071, to illustrate the year that children born today would be eligible for retirement based on the current government recognized age of 62. Living in a time when anyone can contribute their thoughts any time they want via social media platforms, I wondered if they will laugh at our generation for ever needing Diversity training in the first place? 

Considering the way the internet is being used today really put D&I in perspective and the more I thought about it the simpler it became.  When you really break down D&I, it’s driven by the fact that–on an individual level–everyone just wants to fit in somewhere and express their creativity freely.  With virtual worlds, online gaming, social technologies, and search engines, being able to experience this is increasingly becoming a cultural norm.  As more and more people engage across digital platforms, it will become more difficult not to engage in other social arenas as well.  So when you eliminate all of the distractions it becomes clear to see that D&I efforts are suited to facilitate the highest level of engagement. Now for many, this may sound too simple and it definitely doesn’t present a clear business case for why time and money should be invested in programs and training to try to get entire organizations on board. So there must be more to it.

Well while companies know that what’s driving the need for D&I is fundamentally simple, it isn’t easy at all.  Transformation never is.  It is uncomfortable and challenges everything we know.  It demands vulnerability in exchange for growth.  And the rewards that come from our efforts will only meet us halfway.  That means we must extend ourselves.  In essence we must put ourselves out there and learn by doing.  For many of us that is too scary.  We’d rather just close our eyes and wait for change to pass us by.  But, that’s not going to happen.  We’ll be pulled in eventually.  Just ask anyone who reluctantly created a Facebook page or people on the job market who are finally accepting the value of a LinkedIn account.  It’s the same process.  And if you still think social media has nothing to do with Diversity, just wait. 

I deleted an earlier version of this post because in the end it was just one more post telling us what we’ve already heard before.  If Affirmative ActionEqual Employment Opportunity, and the idea that diversity breeds innovation were convincing enough, the discussion would have ended long ago and people would be volunteering to learn how they could help the process move forward.  But because in large part, mankind’s fear of loss still generally exceeds their desire for gain, the D&I dialogue will continue until we reach the tipping point where resistance is obviously costing us more than voluntary compliance.  Understanding this is leverage for those willing to take a front seat on this transformational roller coaster. By the year 2071 when the confusion about inclusion is no longer an issue, the retirees will be able to look back on what it took to get to an inclusive culture and simplify it into a definition like the one below.

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) – A systematic process designed to facilitate information transfer through converting a culture from a driving mindset of “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM)  to one of  “What’s In It For Everyone” (WIIFE) .

Now, you might still be asking what this has to do with your job search.  The answer has everything to do with market relevance.  The market is headed this way and if you are not, your POTENTIAL to contribute will be irrelevant since your resistance will represent an information bottleneck. When it is all said and done I believe the retirees of 2071 will demonstrate that the business case for Diversity and Inclusion never had anything to do with the categories that we break ourselves into and everything to do with increasing the flow of ideas and information. 

Google is growing by leaps and bounds because it feeds our need to know and gives us access to information on demand.  Every time we go to a search engine and look up anything, we increase our expectation to find answers quickly. We are in an age where information is currency and anything that gets in the way of our access to information will be minimized and eventually eliminated.  It is inevitable.  We are fast approaching a point where the only hang ups in communication will be individuals withholding information because they are operating on an obsolete paradigm.  So I submit that in the future of business this will not be tolerated from anyone regardless of a person’s race, color, national origin, sexual identification, age, religion, or disability.  The business case for D&I can’t get any clearer than that.

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.