Category Archives: recruiter

Job Postings and Romance

I have been reading a lot of romance novels.  Don’t hate me.  They are really are lovely.  They are not too long and they always resolve in such a nice, neat package – very appealing.

The problem is that I have now started to day dream about a rich, handsome guy showing up at work or on the train to sweep me off my feet.  Not just any rich, handsome guy. No, this guy has chiseled abs, just the right amount of stubble and a home in Sardinia.

I can wish all I want, but I have already been swept off my feet.  He has the stubble, but alas, no home in a sunny, warm locale.

And wishing is not going to change that.

I tried to explain that to a few candidates this week.  Not the part about getting a new husband, but the part about wishing for a new role that’s a departure from where you are today.

It’s not that a major career move is not possible.  It is just that you need to be rational.

I had someone try to convince me that they would be ideally suited to sell medical devices because their neighbour was a doctor and they had spent a lot of time together building a fence.   He honestly thought that having a beer with a doctor imparted enough knowledge to make him a legitimate candidate for the role.  Come on!

It is fine to daydream about a job when you read a posting on monster, but give your head a shake.  Read the list of requirements.  Can you honestly say yes to at least half of them?  It does not matter whether you agree with them nor does it matter that you think you have a better list of requirements.  The employer has put them there for a reason.  Respect it.

If the posting says “living, breathing human”, then by all means, go ahead and apply but if it says “have a degree in mechanical engineering”, then going on a date with an engineer is not going to cut it.

But if you see a place in Sardinia, could you let me know?

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Filed under career change, Job Search, linkedin, recruiter, Resume

To Refer or Not to Refer

One of the first lessons you learn as a recruiter is to ask for referrals.  If you are talking with someone and they are not interested or qualified, you should ask if there is anyone they would recommend for the role.

I always thought this made sense.  People like to be asked for their opinion and generally, people like to be helpful.  I figured it would feel pretty good to help someone discover a new job that they really like.arrow

But then I listened to a podcast where a software engineer said he felt used when he is asked for referrals.  His feeling was the the recruiter was not going to earn a fee from him/his experience and yet he was being asked to provide information that would lead to the recruiter earning a fee from someone else.  And in the end, he would get nothing.

I was struck by such strong cynicism.  It rolled round in my head for a week and I actually stopped asking people for suggestions.

Now that the dust has settled, here are my observations. He worked as a leader in an industry that is desperately short of talent.  He did not say this but I bet he gets called by recruiters every other day.  I am sure his patience runs thin with our industry.  He is also working in an American company and while I don’t have empirical proof, I bet the attitudes here about helping out are different.  Who in Canada would not buy someone a Tim Horton’s double double if they needed it?

What do you think?  Is it rude and presumptuous to ask someone for referrals if a job is not right for them?





Filed under career change, Job Search, Networking, recruiter

Interview Like You Mean It

As a manager, interviewing is one of the most important things you do. You can’t build a great team that will reach great objectives if you don’t hire great people to be on that team.
Interviewing is the first step to hiring those great people.

When you interview someone, you are trying to figure out if they are the right person to help solve a problem.

Do they have the right skills and attitudes to be the fixer you need?

You establish this through questions and conversation and most importantly, concentration. We expect candidates to be highly engaged in the interview process. It is reasonable, therefore, that the hiring manager should be present in body and mind as well.

Before you step into an interview, take a few minutes to put aside the million things that you are working on. Think about the role (and problem) this person might be able to fix. Take another look at their resume.  

Put down your phone, square your shoulders and head in to shake hands and say hello.

Try to start with an open ended question as an ice breaker. “Tell me about yourself” is a bit tricky. It can lead to a really long answer if the person is nervous. It also could sound like you are covering up the fact that you did not take time to look at the person’s resume.

  • How did you get started in this industy?
  • Why are you interested in our company?
  • What have you heard about our technology?

These are all open ended but with relatively controlled answers that will give you some insight into the the person right from the get-go.

Pay attention. Call out something interesting. Ask follow up questions. This is your chance to figure out how they think and how they might fit with you and your team.  

If you are, at this point, rolling your eyes because interviewing is a drag and you never meet interesting candidates, then get with your recruiting folks and get that fixed. 

The world is full of interesting people. Find them, talk to them and hire them.

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Filed under Interview, recruiter

Recruiting to Broaden the Applicant Pool

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 are focused on describing what the new person is going to do and where they fit into the greater scheme of things.
Your talk about the activities 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 they hit the candidate marketplace and start talking about your company and the great things that are happening and within a few weeks, you have a new group of candidates who would not have applied to your posting or been a part of your employees’ networks.

There is gong to be some fresh 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.

They 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 stagnant.

The key is to keep an open mind when you are interviewing. Review your questions before hand. Be sure to remove things that contain company specific acronyms or personalities.  

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

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Take a minute. Take my call.

This week I have spent most of my time talking with candidates who are not looking for new jobs. They have jobs and they like them.

But something compelled them to make some time to hear about the role I am helping my client to fill.

Maybe they found the message compelling. Maybe they were having a bad day. Maybe they were just plain curious. It doesn’t matter why. What matters is that they took a few minutes to explore an opportunity.

It’s all well and good to be happy with your job but how do you know its the best place for you? You only know that by comparing it to other roles in other places.

When recruiters call, its a great chance for you to kick the tires on something new with no obligation. You can assess the role, gauge the compensation package and get a better understanding of the market for your skills.

What if you have a rare, in demand skill set and it feels like you get calls all the time? Then be judicious about which recruiters you engage with but be conscious of the fact that sometimes companies go straight to recruiters. Some roles never get posted on corporate job sites.

I worked with a highly recognizable name brand company in the food and beverage sector and they used our firm for all their marketing positions. They found that when they posted these jobs on their own, they were inundated with hundreds and hundreds of applicants. Sifting through them was just too much.

Recruiters add value in two ways. By posting roles on behalf of clients and by digging into the market to find candidates who might be interested and qualified.

When we reach out to you, it is because we think you have good skills and experience. Only a conversation reveals the rest of the story. So talk to us. You have nothing to lose and solid market intel to gain.

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Filed under career change, Interview, Job Search, Networking, recruiter

How to Ace a Job Interview

Imagine you have just gotten off the phone with your recruiter. You got the interview! But instead of being excited, you feel like you are going to throw up.

How do you harness all that nervous energy and all those great ideas swirling around in your head so that you appear focussed and confident?

Think of the interview as an audition or a tryout. Think about how you used to prepare for those when you were in high school. How did you get ready for the community theatre audition or tryouts for your rec hockey team?

You probably talked to someone who knew the coach or someone who has worked with the director before. It’s good to find out about their style or particular hot buttons before you are face to face with them.

Consider the role you are trying out for. What kinds of skills and experience are listed in the job posting? Obviously you have some of those things or you would not have gotten this far.
Develop examples of the top three or four skills required. Where did you perform this skill? For whom? What did the team look like? Were you successful? What did you learn?

Success at an interview is just like success in any sport or performance.  It comes from practice. Do not underestimate this. Winging it based on your charm and relaxed attitude will not work. You can really only pull off the relaxed look if you are super comfortable with your material and that only happen if you practice. Tell your stories to your friends and your spouse and when they are sick of hearing you talk, use the recording app on your phone.

Last bit of advice: check your teeth and your fly on the way in to the interview. Discovering a poppyseed in your teeth when you are back in the car, is a cruel way to finish a great conversation.

Good luck!


Filed under career change, Interview, Job Search, recruiter

They want you. Now what?

Salary negotiations at the end of the interview process can be tricky.  They shouldn’t be, but they usually are.

The problem, I think, lies in when they happen.  Usually, it’s the very last step.  The candidate has met the whole team and is in love with everyone.  The hiring manager is already filling that person’s name in on the Holiday Party seating chart and then bam!  Everything grinds to a halt when some mentions base salary.

Whether you are the candidate or the hiring manager, salary should be among the first things to discuss.  Once you think there is some skill crossover and a bit of chemistry, get money on the table.

There is no point in going through an extensive interview process only to discover that there is a $40K gap in what you want and what they have.  It is crushing for both sides.

If you are in a first interview with a hiring manager or a recruiter and the subject of compensation has not come up, ask the question.  Don’t just wait for it to come up later.  This is especially true if you are near the top of the market or are pretty senior.  Take the bull by the horns and bring it forward.

“This sounds like a very interesting role.  What kind of salary range do you have?”

“I work in a large company now with a lot of perks.  What kind of package does this job come with?”

If the answer is hedgy or not clear, be wary.  You don’t have to run for the hills, just make sure to keep it on the list for the next conversation.

I know that money is not everything but let’s face it:  If there is a big gap in base salary expectations, it can be problematic.  Psychologically, we know what we are used to and what we have nurtured and developed over our careers.  Taking a big haircut is not always in the cards and if it is possible, better to know if up front so we can start rationalizing the offsets.

It’s like looking at the dessert menu before you order your main course.  It just makes sense.

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Filed under career change, Interview, Job Search, Networking, recruiter, Resume

Move the Carrot just a little Closer

I have been working on our family budget this week.  Ugh.  It is way more daunting than a resume.

Yesterday, I got so fed up with the process that I took a completely lateral move and figured that I could just make more money.  Then I would not need a budget at all.  It would totally free up the long weekend.

Now, any economist (or fan of Till Debt Do Us Part) will tell you that how much money you make has nothing to do with the act of budgeting.  But as a recruiter, I will tell you that thinking about how to make more money is definitely a positive action.

So how do you make more money?

Just working harder in your current role is not enough.  Unless you are working on commission and slacking off every day.  If that’s the case, then get off the couch and go to work.

For most of us, it’s a little more complicated.

Does your current role have room to make more?  Is there a bonus based on some personal achievements?  Could you focus specifically on those for a while to get some payoff?

If there is no opportunity for a greater financial reward, is there a career move within the organization that pays more?  Could you leverage what you know and do in your current situation for some gains?

Sometimes, you have to leave to be able increase your value.  It’s sad but sometimes it takes a new group of people to look at your skills and experience to really appreciate what you bring to the table.  This is especially true if you have been with a company for a long time.  They see you as you were when you joined, not necessarily as you are today.

So open your eyes and take a look around to see what you can do to improve your lot.  And when you figure it out, make sure you stick to the budget so you can really make it mean something.


Filed under career change, recruiter, Resume

Oh….the possibilities…..

I just finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey.  I had to.  When a book is shooting up the Amazon charts that fast, you have to see what it’s all about.

I have to say that I did not really see what all the fuss what about.  It’s just like any other romance but longer….

What did impress me was thinking about its widespread popularity and what effects it will have on the future.

I am thinking about all the new occupations this could spawn and how much fun it will be to recruit people for these new roles.

For example, I see an emerging market for sex shops with drive through windows.  That way people won’t have to risk being seen walking in to the shop.  Can’t you just picture it?  Driving up to the speaker and asking for two packs of extra -large ribbed and a bottle of strawberry lotion.

Or consider this:  who is going to install and do the maintenance on the home gyms that will be re-purposed for different kinds of “activities”.  I look forward to finding the mechanical engineer who can listen with a straight face when the homeowner asks to have the chin-up bar attached to the ceiling with a pair of handcuffs on each end.

I also think there could be a good market for equestrian supply stores in the off season.  Imagine the brisk bridle and riding crop sales a Christmas…..

So don’t despair.  If you are looking for a career in an emerging and sexy field, it could be just around the corner/boudoir.

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Beware: Lame Chicken Joke Ahead

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 for some goat.


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