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!)
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.
I have been reading a lot about job trends and what our work lives will be like in the future. This is, as you would expect, something I have always done but it all has a new tone now. Nothing like a pamdemic to speed up innovation tenfold. It is fascinating to see the broad spectrum of opinion about this. Some people think that robots and AI will eliminate all work as we know it. Others think that robots and technology will enhance what we humans can do on our own and therefore make work better.
When I think back on my career in recruiting, I have the seen many of the benefits of technology. I no longer have to stand beside fax machine watching the pages pass through to make sure they don’t jam. I don’t have to flip through pages and pages of resumes in file folders (that were never in the right order).
Now, I can sit at a computer anywhere and have access to anything. I can send information to a client or a candidate with the mere click of a button.
In the end, the process of what I do remains the same regardless of the state of technology. I listen to what my client needs and then talk with lots of people until I find the right person with the right skills to fit the bill and find happiness.
Technology is great enabler. LinkedIn, Twitter and fancy databases provide easy access to all kinds of information but I still need critical thinking, writing and listening skills to do my job well. Those cannot be replaced by any kind of AI.
When Apple and Microsoft first came out with programs like Word and Draw, we were suddenly able to make our work look totally professional. My words looked like a manuscript. It was so cool. It was a real come-down to realize that just because it looked like it had been published, did not make it publish-able. It was still just words on a page by a budding recruiter.
The lesson here, is for all of us to continue to use our critical thinking skills to question how we use technology and to figure out to implement the new tools in the best way possible.
Did you hear the one about the recruiter who crossed the road?
He wanted to recruit the chicken.
Because he knew the chicken would accept a poultry salary.
This morning I spent some time searching the web for recruiter jokes. This is the best one I could find.
Don’t get me wrong. There were lots of jokes but they were all cynical, rude and mean.
Now, it’s possible that the moon is in the wrong place and I am being too thin-skinned but I don’t think most recruiters are money loving salespeople who would lie to their mother to close a deal.
Real recruiters are advocates for their clients and for their candidates. They know how to listen to the back story. They know how to do research and how to use what they learn to make strong matches.
We take pride in getting thank you cards from candidates who have just gotten promoted. We are happier still when candidates call to ask us to help find people for their own team.
Sure, we have bills to pay and there is a certain pride and confidence that comes from making more money than before but not at the expense of people’s lives.
Real recruiters are happy to cross the road to talk to the chicken but only if the client can afford chicken. If not, we’ll head out to the barn to find a goat.
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.
It’s pretty common practice to send a note after an interview. You want to show respect for the time that the hiring manager invested as well as demonstrate that you are professional and thoughtful.
But what happens when you are moving through the interview process and other people are involved?
Perhaps an internal talent acquisition person set up the meeting with the hiring manager. Perhaps you are working with a head hunter who coordinated everything.
Thanking them is important but what’s really important is to get back to that person after the interview to let them know how it went from your point of view.
First of all, it confirms that the meeting took place. Often, interviews are set up days ahead and the person doing the coordination is not in daily contact with either party. When they get an email or a voice mail saying every worked out and it was a great meeting, that will definitely be a positive thing.
The second important thing is that it provides an opportunity to reinforce why you are a good fit for the role. You can briefly outline what you learned from the hiring manager and how well it aligns with your skills/experience/objectives.
When that debrief conversation with the hiring manager happens, your advocate is fully prepared to share your positive thoughts and armed with specifics about the conversation. They are ideally positioned to reinforce your strengths.
This also helps them be prepared to bring up any concerns that surfaced in the interview. For example, if the hiring manager asked you about a skill or activity that you did not know what required or how you feel about moving to Moscow, you can let the coordinator know.
In the hiring process, the more people aligned around the cause, the better. Keep communicating and keep everyone in the loop. It will pay off in the end.
Answer the damn phone! Just kidding…..you don’t have to pick up the phone if you don’t have time at that moment or your boss is in your office.
But it might be worth listening to their voice mail or checking your inbox (mail or LinkedIn) to see what they have to say.
Frequently, companies partner with third party recruiters to do the initial screening of the applicants for a role. So that recruiter might be calling about something you actually applied for. You would not want to miss that.
They might be calling you out of the blue to tell you about something they are working on. Recruiters are not much for wasting time. We only get paid if we are successful in helping our client solve their problem. There is a reason you have been selected for a call. Your name was not randomly chosen out of a hat.
Find a quiet place to have a brief call to explore what they have to say. You are not saying “yes” to a job and you are not leaving your current job. You are just taking a few minutes to learn more.
I realize that I am quite biased, but there is a lot to gain from this investment. You could get some valuable market intelligence on your worth, your marketability, your competition. You might come away thinking the recruiter is a dolt and has no idea what you really do. But you might also be able to think of someone who is looking for exactly that sort of role. You would be a hero then right?
Take a few minutes; you never know what you might learn.
If you are lucky enough to know what you want to next, you don’t have to wait for it to be posted.
You can express your interest in ways other than the traditional application. This requires some research and perseverance but is likely to be worth it in the end.
Think about the role you want. What department is it in? Who leads the group? Who else interacts with the group or has overlapping activities? You can do most of this research on LinkedIn. Just search for people by company. Company is one of the boxes you can fill in on the Advanced Search page.
You can also check out the company web page to see who is listed there.
The next step is to figure out where you have connections. Perhaps some of the names were former colleagues? Maybe you belong to the same professional association? Any connection point will do.
A friend of mine got his last job from an introduction by one the parents he met at the arena during a hockey tournament.
The next bit is Networking 101. Reach out to say hello. See if they would be open to a conversation with you. Here is an opening line you can try: “You are obviously having great success with your organization. Would you be open to taking a few minutes to chatting about the culture?”
This will give you a chance to hear first hand about the organization and confirm that it is, in fact, the kind of place/department/group you want to join.
At some point in the conversation, the person will want to know why you are curious. That’s your cue to talk about yourself and your interest in a possible role. If the conversation has gone well, it is quite likely that they might offer to make an introductions for you. If they don’t offer, then put it out there yourself.
We can talk about how to follow up later but for now, do your research and get ready for the handshakes..
Halloween is over and the rush to the end of the year has begun. Things are going to get busy….really soon. If you have career goals that are still hanging out there, this is the time to sit down and make a plan to move forward.
Whether you are looking for a promotion, transfer or something new altogether, now is the time to take action.
But where to start?
Make time – carve out 20 minutes every day to work on your objective – either block it in your calendar or make it the same time every day.
Make a list – who do you need to meet and how can you connect with them. Email, voice mail, and LinkedIn are all options – decide what is most likely to get a response.
Reach out – start connecting with your targets and following up
Expand your network – send LinkedIn invitations to colleagues, neighbours and the guy you met at that thing last week.
Promote yourself – find articles that are relevant to what you do and post them on LinkedIn. Your connections will see your content and be reminded of your expertise.
Send thank you notes – everyone appreciates being recognized and the good will that is generated will translate into all kinds of neat things.
Take calls from Headhunters – these calls can provide good market intel on your skills and what they are worth – don’t ignore us.
Apply to job postings – notice this is way down the list? The best opportunities come from connections and good connections come from doing the work in the first place. Don’t just rely on the application process. It will rarely show you any love.
This week has been interesting. I met a lot of people – about half in person and the other half virtually.
I like the skype interview. I don’t feel guilty about making people come all the way to my office (and mortgage their car to pay for downtown parking). It’s also easier to fit in to busy people’s schedules.
Here is what I noticed. The people who met me in person had obviously taken care with their appearance and their timing. There was a general sense of preparedness about them when I met them in our reception area.
The skype chats were different. It seemed to be a much more casual thing. Not too much care with the surroundings and not to concerned about attire.
Now, I know that different industries have different “uniforms”. If you meeting someone from a financial institution, you need to look well dressed and successful. Cuff links and monogrammed cuffs are optional but the suit is mandatory.
But even if you are interviewing in a software company with Red Bull on tap, you are probably going to put on a clean t shirt.
Don’t let a video interview be your downfall. It is just as important as an in-person one.
- Be ready – test your wifi connection with a friend before the call
- Look neat – you can take the TV news anchor approach – shirt and tie on top, shorts on the bottom
- Have your resume and place to make notes beside you
- Turn off your phone – you know it’s going with that obnoxious ring tone you assigned to your brother-in-law in the middle of the thorny salary question
- Remove distractions – let everyone (including your dog) know that you are in an important meeting
These things won’t necessarily get you the job but they will help you make a better impression.