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.
As this year’s class starts looking towards graduation, I have seen a disturbing trend. There seems to be this idea that university students should focus on finding their passion in their first job.
Find their passion? Most teenagers cannot find their pants. How can we think that they will find their passion somewhere between the pub, the classroom and the dorm?
I think expecting to find your passion before you can legally drink is pretty unrealistic. As parents, we are setting up a pretty big failure platform if we set those expectations before they even leave high school.
There are exceptions: gifted athletes, artists and musicians have their talents identified early on so they are pretty advanced on the passion scale. People following in the family footsteps of law or accounting, have a prescribed path too. (Sometimes in spite of their passion)
University and first jobs are more about finding what you don’t like. Learning about the kind of professors/bosses that you don’t get along with. Working with group members who don’t pull their weight. Figuring how to identify the room mate who parties too much; that sort of thing.
The world is really, really big. You have to get out there and explore it beyond just university. Don’t be surprised if your passion does not start to reveal itself until you are well into your 30s or even later.
In the end, it’s not about when you find it, it’s about recognizing when you are in the right place at the right time and really enjoying yourself. That‘s what we are all shooting for.
Every hiring manager has to read a stack of resumes at some point. But it’s so easy to put off making time to read through them. You put out a few fires, go to lunch and some meetings and boom, the day is done.
When the stack is still staring at you three days later, you finally relent and take it home. After dinner, you settle in, find something good on Netflix and read resumes.
This is how important things get missed. It’s not just that you are distracted. At the end of a long day you are also tired. It’s likely that you feeling pretty uninspired. The sense that you could successfully onboard a new team member is not very high. Your ability to see candidates with potential or out of box skills is greatly diminished.
You go to bed feeling like there will never be any good candidates, have a crappy sleep and then bark at your colleagues the next day.
See how that works?
The best time to read resumes is at the beginning of the day. You are fresh and open to possibilities. When you see patterns or themes that work (or don’t work), you can take action. Perhaps the job posting needs to be changed or the pre-screening questions need to be more comprehensive.
You have a much better chance of improving the process if you tackle the stack in the morning. Block time in your calendar, grab a hot cup of coffee and get reading. It won’t take a long as you think and you might be surprised with the results.
It does not matter what side of the table you sit on for your next interview, there are certain things you need to bring to look credible and interesting.
Hiring teams and candidates alike need to be prepared and ready to have a great conversation. We know that candidates put a lot of energy into doing their research and preparing their stories. It is important for hiring managers to do some pre-work as well.
Bring the job description and the candidate’s resume. You may not need to refer to either during the conversation but you will have them handy. Also, it means that you can give both at least a passing glance on your way to the interview room.
Bring your coffee cup or water bottle only if you are prepared to offer the same to the candidate. It will be awkward for your candidate to watch you chug away on your hazelnut flavoured latte with extra whip when they have nothing.
Bring some tissues in your pocket. Nothing is worse than sniffing through an interview. Also, if you have a tissue to hand to the other person, you look like a hero.
Bring a pen and something to write on. Even if you don’t end up writing down, it is a sign of respect that you are prepared to jot down notes or questions.
Bring your phone to the meeting but only if it is on silent. No fooling around on this one. Having your phone chirp away during a conversation is distracting even if you manage to avoid looking at it (and that’s pretty hard to avoid).
One last thing: leave your gum in your office. Gum has a way of moving around while you are talking and frankly, it’s gross.
These things may seem small, but they go a long way to setting the stage for a great conversation and that’s the goal right?
There are lots of places to find jobs posted: LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed are just a few. You can even look at company websites if you are specific companies in your sites.
Regardless of where you find the posting, the number one thing to do is to follow the instructions.
- If you are asked to send your resume with a cover letter including your salary expectations, do that.
- If you are asked to apply into their company site that is full of mandatory fields, do that.
- If you are asked to use a particular reference number, do that too.
The posting is providing the gateway to the recruitment person or people. They are not all robots even though sometimes it feels like they must be. I know it seems like you are putting your information into a big, black hole but that is the most direct way of getting your resume into the pile for consideration.
You can help it get to the top part of the pile by making sure you have at least half of the requirements in the posting on your resume, preferably on the first page.
Feel free to be creative (but truthful). When a posting asks for a designation, you can say P.Eng (in process) or CHRL (will be complete in April). That allows you to rank high in the results even though you don’t exactly meet the requirement.
Similarly if you are asked for salary information in your cover letter, you can provide a wide range with some commentary. For example, you could say “I am looking for 70-120k depending on the base, bonus, benefits and opportunities for growth”. You have answered the question without hemming yourself in.
People do actually get jobs by applying to a posting. It is an important part of the job seeking process.
There are many alternate ways to show your interest in a company/role/opportunity and those will be covered in the coming weeks.
Now that your resume is refreshed and polished and you have it stored in a safe and accessible spot, you have a few more decisions to make.
You can choose to make your information available to hiring managers and recruiters or you can hold on to it until someone asks.
This really depends on how you are feeling about the next step in your career. Are you actively seeking a change, open to considering a change or not wanting to change at all?
If you are completely blissed out in your role, then hold on to your resume. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date so people (former colleagues, fellow alumni) can find you but other than that, keep on keeping on.
If you are open to hearing about new possibilities, you should definitely update your LinkedIn profile but you might also want to look at registering with Glassdoor, Indeed, Monster or other niche resume holding sites.
This allows people in the recruiting community to find your information and get in touch with you. It’s up to you to decide which inquiries you want to act on and where you want to invest your time.
Make sure your personal (not work) email and phone number are clearly visible on your information. There is no point in having it out there if there is no way to contact you.
If you are actively seeking a new gig, decide which sites make the most sense for your career and objectives. Monster and LinkedIn have become the universal, everyone-is-there spots but many professional associations host their own career sites and there are also sites for people who are just starting their career (Talentegg) or well established executives (Higherbracket).
Be sensible about where you put your material. You don’t want to wallpaper the world. You want to be in the place that will generate the most opportunities.