Category Archives: Interview

How to Work with Recruiters during a Pandemic

During the first part of the pandemic, there were two types of people – those who were directly impacted by restrictions and lockdowns and were definitely in need of a new job. Then there were others who were holding on to their jobs for dear life amidst the change to virtual or the physical changes in their workplaces.

Now, a year and half later, the lines are not so clear. There are still people who need a new job right now but there are a bunch of other groups too. People who are fed up with their managers or are not ready to go back to the office. People who are still balancing childcare and work in a messy swirl. People who are rethinking their relationship to work and what it should look like.

Couple this with the number of jobs that are open right now and you have a challenging time for us in the recruitment world. Lots of jobs and lots of candidates but very hard to get a match.

When you are working with a recruiter, there some things to keep in mind.

Be clear on your objectives. What kind of change are you looking for? Location, bigger team, new product, more innovative – any of these are valid. If you are not sure what would be better, you might want to think on it or talk with friends outside work before starting down the interview path. You probably don’t have time to spend going in the wrong direction.

As an example, finding out the the salary is 30% less than your minimum after four interviews is heart breaking and a big waste of time and energy.

Make sure you feel comfortable with the recruiter. They are representing you in the marketplace. Will they tell your story correctly? Will they advocate in the right manner and respect your priorities?

Share what you can about your current situation. What things are you juggling in your life? How much time do you have to commit to the search? What kind of flexibility to do you have?

All of these factors affect how a search will play out whether you are a candidate or a hiring manger (or both!)

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Not Everyone is on Vacation – The Summer Job Search

It is summer and the market is hopping!

It seems that the summer job market slowdown is a total myth. I have been talking with candidates who have multiple opportunities on the go.  And it’s not just in one vertical – engineering, product development, organizational development and the whole gambit.

If you have been putting off looking for something new because you believe everyone is on vacation, you can keep using that as an excuse, but be aware, it’s really just a way to procrastinate

If you really want to find a new position, do not start by looking at LinkedIn jobs.  That’s right.  Do not start there.

Start with your resume.  Get it up to date with your title, responsibilities, achievements, courses and volunteer stuff. Make it interesting and dynamic. Triple check for spelling, grammar and acronyms.

Then reach out to your references and tell them you might need them in the future.

(This gives you instant allies and a super positive network to draw on for support.

Once those things are done, then you can sit down with the LinkedIn Jobs app and see what’s going on.  Don’t use just LinkedIn.  Check out other job sites, your professional association website, local neighbourhood resources and social media. You’d might be surprised at the jobs posted on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Apply directly or network through a friend.  Many companies have referral programs that pay $1000 or more for a referred employee who “sticks”.

Find your resume and get the ball rolling.  You could still have a new job for Labour Day.

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Filed under career change, Interview, Job Search, linkedin, Networking, Resume, social media

The Best Time to Find a Great Job is when you have a Great Job

I had an interesting situation this week.  One of my candidates, who has been on a long and successful interview journey, ended up with several offers in his inbox.

He was really stressed.  He said he could not understand how this happened.  He was not even looking.  He really likes his job and his team. 

How did this happen?

First of all, he is an interesting and curious person.  When I told him about my client and what they needed to do, he thought it made sense to explore the opportunity.  He felt that it would allow him to build up his skills in a new area.

The first two interviews went really well.  He and a couple of senior managers had wide ranging conversations and he felt really good about it.

Guess what?  After that second interview, he was walking around with just a bit more confidence.  He had third party validation that he was doing some really good work in a really good way. 

It’s not as noticeable as a haircut or new glasses but that kind of confidence shows.

Seemingly out of the blue, he got a couple of networking requests and coffee invitations.  Those led to more casual conversations. Casual, because he had moved beyond “interview panic prep” mode and into “this is just a business meeting” mode.

On top of that, his boss started to let him know about some longer term projects that he would be leading. 

To be clear:  he was not a disgruntled employee complaining about things at work.  No one was trying to placate him or keep him in order to get though the busy cycle.

I suggested that he look at multiple offers as a positive thing not a stressful thing.  It’s a positive measure of how he is successfully navigating his path through the industry.

After weighing the teams, the work, the manager and the future possibilities, he made a solid choice.  I think he is going to be very happy. 

So, get off the merry-go-round of your job and take a look around.  Because looking when you are not looking may the best time to look.

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Summer Hiring is Brisk

Now that the worst of the pandemic seems to be behind us and patios are open, the temptations are everywhere.

  • One Dilly bar or two
  • Patio or office
  • Golf course or sales calls
  • Comfy shirt or pressed blouse
  • Resume or romance novel

Don’t get sucked into thinking that hiring stops for the summer.  It doesn’t. Sure it might take longer if decision makers are on vacation but the hiring process carries on. Especially in this brisk economy.

In fact, networking can be even more powerful now. When you call someone and invite them for lunch, they are more likely to be free and willing to get out of their home office to meet on a patio or go for a walk.

Meeting folks while at the cottage or on a stay-cation is pretty easy too. The last time I went to a resort in cottage country, I made it my goal to meet one new person each day. I came home with three new connections and a business lead. Awesome.

You can also do some surfing to find industry events and conferences taking place in the fall. Beat the rush and get approval now. You will look pretty motivated and forward thinking in the process.

But most of all, pay attention. Check out postings and take calls from recruiters. At the very least, you will know what’s going on in the marketplace.

You might find that  LinkedIn and  Prosecco make a great pair. But only one….. Drunk job applications are about as effective as drunk dialing – no way to start a relationship.

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How External Recruiters Help with Diversity

One of the best ways to change up your work groups and increase the diversity of your company is to use external recruiters and I am not just saying that because I am an external recruiter.
When you work with someone outside your company, you focused on describing what the new person is going to do and where they fit into the greater scheme of things.
You talk about the activities, responsibilities and leadership style, their technical knowledge and priorities.

The external recruiter does not know that people in your organization all went to Stanford and all play broom ball.

So the recruiter hits the candidate marketplace and starts talking about your company and the great things that are happening and within a few weeks, you have a fresh, new group of candidates who would not have applied to your posting or been a part of your employees’ networks.

There is going to be some new thinking in that group. It can be a pretty interesting experience to interview someone who understands the role but is from a different environment.

Those candidates have credibility but none of the baggage. This can be a tremendous help with innovation based roles or where a group has become a bit complacent.

The key is to keep an open mind when you are interviewing. Review your questions before hand. Be sure to spell out company specific acronyms or processes so the candidates have a fair chance to answer within the right context.

When you find the gem and hire them, make sure you have a very inclusive, comprehensive on-boarding process. Hiring managers and peers alike sometimes need to be reminded that even though someone can’t play broom ball, they can still contribute some great ideas.

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Two Minute Trick for a Better Video Presence

Yesterday at lunch, I watched an excellent TED talk about power posing.  You can watch the whole thing here but the gist of the presentation was this:  two minutes of standing in a powerful position will cause physical changes in your body that will actually make you feel more powerful and in control.

Amy Cuddy, a Professor and Researcher at Harvard tested this with real humans.  She had them spit in a tube, do a power pose for two minutes, do some gambling and then spit in the tube again.  There was an actual change in the subject’s testosterone and cortisol levels. Testosterone is the “dominance” hormone and cortisol is the “dealing with stress” hormone.   In addition to the physical changes, the posers where more likely to gamble – that’s how sure they felt about themselves.pose 1

It’s not that I want to grow chest hair before an interview, but there is a pretty good chance I will feel more on top of my game and that will cause the interviewer to view me as confident and positive.  This is especially important on a video interview because you have to work a little harder to project who you are when you are not in the room together.

So, when you are waiting in the Zoom Waiting Room for your next meeting or interview, give yourself two minutes just out side the camera view and try one of these poses.

I spoke to several of the strong business development people I know and they said that they always use tricks like this and feel more confident when they go into a pitch or a difficult meeting.

Be careful using this at home though. It works on kids but go easy with your spouse.

pose 2

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Career Portfolio – Interview Secret Sauce

I have a friend who is a self-employed consultant.  A few years ago, over coffee, she complained that she would not have a clue as to where to start if she wanted to get a “real job”.

I suggested that she create a portfolio.  She thought portfolios were only for artists or other creative types.  Not so.

A portfolio (fancy binder with plastic sleeves and dividers) is an excellent vehicle for organizing and presenting your experience.  It can have sections that show your work, education and other credentials, volunteer activities, hobbies, thank you notes, awards and really, anything else that is relevant to the way that you do what you do.

Just the act of gathering the information together and putting it all in one place can be a pretty powerful exercise.  It’s something that you can do over a couple of weekends and then add/change revise every year.

My friend took that suggestion to heart and created what she called a career scrapbook. She had it in her car for a while and then it took up its place on a shelf in her office.

Last week she applied for an actual job and found herself staring down the barrel of an interview.  Not just any interview but a panel interview in a formal, government type organization.  She dusted off her portfolio, added a couple of items, reviewed the rest of the material and then focused on her outfit.  She felt confident and ready.  (I should point out that she was eminently qualified for the job.)

At the end of the interview, she was asked if she had any questions.  All of hers had been covered in the discussion but she told the panel members that she had brought her portfolio and asked if there was anything they would like to see.  The senior person raised her eyebrows and came over to have a look.

She looked at the table of contents, saw the “Thank You” section and flipped right to that part.   She nodded and smiled as she read the cards, notes and emails.  It turns out that the adjudicator actually knew two of the people who had sent notes and that lead to a much less formal conversation where my friend got one more opportunity to show what she knows and why she has been so successful.

She left the interview, with her portfolio tucked under her arm, feeling very good about herself and her experience.  No offer yet……..but I’ll keep you posted.

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How to Talk Compensation with a Recruiter

No one likes to talk about salary. It has this mystical kind of voodoo quality. No one wants to give the wrong answer. It can become a game of who goes first and the real objective can get lost.

It is really not that complicated. Money is just one of the things that have to align for you to be considered a “fit”. If you are already making $100,000 more than the position pays, then the fit is not there. If you are way below the salary range, that does not fit either.

But this is not entirely about the money. It’s also about the risk and the culture.

Say you absolutely love a role so much that you would take a serious pay cut to have it on your resume. Sometimes this can work (and might be necessary) when you are taking a sharp turn on your career path. If you are a corporate lawyer and you want to leave that world to do more human focused work with a better life balance then this would be credible and might be considered.

But here’s the risk: six months in, when the honeymoon is over and you have are driving home after a bad day, you are really going to feel that haircut and suddenly, your job will not seem as great as it did before. You will start to question your decision and that could have a negative impact on your work and life.

Here’s the other thing to consider: not all managers can handle knowing that one of their team members made a lot more money in their last role. It can create all kinds of negative vibes and really mess up a team.

So when money is the topic, be candid and clear about what you are used to and what you are looking for. Don’t try to get away with “Oh, it doesn’t matter” or “We can discuss it at an alternate time”. There is nothing worse than falling in love with an opportunity only to have the whole thing fall apart at the end because the salary is not appropriate for you.

So spill the beans. It is the only way they can be counted.

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Your Personal Highlight Reel

How was your summer?  Seriously.  How was it?  What did you do?  What did you learn?

When asked this question at a cocktail party or an interview, many people go blank and it is a big missed opportunity.

Don’t even think about saying “same old, same old”.  Not only is it probably not true, it just shows that you are too lazy to think of something interesting.

If you did something big like change jobs, then it’s easy.  You can ride the “new job” train for about nine months and then it’s not new anymore.  For everyone else, you need to actually spend some time looking at back at your calendar from May, June and those other months you can’t remember.

All the memories will come flooding back: that awful conference, that great presentation, the month your boss was away and you got to take over.  Those are the things you need to be able to talk about.

You might even want to work them into your resume.  At the very least, practice telling the story about the things that you did.  I am not suggesting that you bore your neighbours to death by telling them the minute details of how you implemented a new quality assurance standard.  Just distill it into a couple of sound bites.

So flip through Outlook and make a list.  You might be surprised.  Maybe it was a pretty good summer after all.

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Humour in the Interview – Tread Lightly

I had a good discussion with one of my friends this week about using humour at work, especially when you are new in a group or organization.  That got me thinking about humour in an interview setting.

An interview is like a first date.  You are listening and answering to see if there is a fit, to see if you get along.  Do you relate to the same things?  Do you share a common language or way of speaking?

There certainly can be some shared laughter in that kind of conversation but be careful it’s not nervous humour.  High pitched giggles and bathroom humour are definitely out.

If you are going to say something that you think is funny, check first – is it respectful and professional?  There is definitely no room for sarcasm in an interview.  Even if the hiring manager seems to be okay with it or throwing out some barbs, don’t do it.  Sarcasm is mean and even if it’s delivered in a funny way, it can still hurt someone’s feelings.

If the interviewer says something that’s funny to you, check their face before you burst out laughing.  If their eyes and mouth are not warm and smiling, perhaps it is not funny to them.  Definitely avoid laughing if they are not laughing.  This can be very awkward.

So tread carefully and pay attention.

And disregard this whole thing if you are interviewing at a Comedy Club.

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