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Time for a Summer LinkedIn Makeover

If you are like most people, you have not taken a look at your LinkedIn profile for a while.  There is a reason for this:  we are too busy looking at other people’s profiles.

Think of it as a summer project.  Set aside 20 minutes each week to hit the edit button and take stock of what the world is seeing.

Let’s start from the top:

Does your picture still resemble you?  If it features your grade eight up-do or it’s a badly lit selfie, it’s time for a fresh one.  linkedin cracked button

Do you have a new title or responsibilities?  Let people know – you will be amazed at the messages that roll in after you do a job or title change.

Any new courses or certificates?  Those really add credibility to your experience.  If you put the time and effort in to learning something new, it should be reflected in your profile.

Are you doing any new volunteer activities?  They can be work-based or community-based.  It all counts.

Remember you are doing this so people can find you and learn more about you.  And not just recruiters like me (although it’s good for us to find you) but also peers, neighbours, and anyone else who might benefit from what you know.

In large companies, people don’t use the company directory to find out about their fellow employees, they go to LinkedIn to get the whole story, not just what’s in the directory.

So keep it fresh and real.  You never know who will land in your inbox!

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Gone Fishing

No pithy entry from me this week.  I am on vacation.  Going for the big battery recharge.  In fact, I am so far out of my regular, everyday schedule that I did not even realize it was Thursday.  It must be working (because I certainly am not!)

See y’all next week!

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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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Fiancé? Really?

Gold and Diamond Solitaire Ring

I was poking around in LinkedIn today.  I accepted an invitation to connect (even though it was an un-creative, un-personal invitation) and after I accepted, the lovely LinkedIn algorithm told me about a whole bunch of other people I might know or want to be connected to.

As my eyes drifted down the list, I was shocked and dismayed and I am not being dramatic at all.

First, there was someone in a Controller role whose tagline was that she was an expert in “fiancé and analysis”.  Come on.  There may be only one letter missing but what a difference in credibility, especially when a key characteristic of a successful finance person is attention to detail.  The accounting office is down the hall and to the left.  The marriage license office is in a whole different building.

Then there were three people who referred to themselves without using capital letters or only used capitals on some of the words.

  • Mechanical engineering Specialist
  • Customer Service supervisor

Call it grammar or call it low self-esteem but whatever the reason, fix it.  You are a professional person in a position.  Tell us what it is with respect and authority.

While I was on a roll, I looked up profiles of two people I know.  Their profiles had titles, dates and company names but no descriptions of what they do.  I know, for a fact, that these two women have complicated and demanding jobs but it was not reflected at all in their profiles.  It’s like offering someone a ham and cheese sandwich and then just giving them a plate with two pieces of bread and a pickle.  It may look attractive but it will never fill you up.

Maybe people just don’t care what their profile says.  Maybe it’s just there because someone told them to “get on LinkedIn”.  That’s okay but don’t expect it to turn any heads if there is nothing to see.

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How to Make Eye Contact on a Video Call

Over the last few months, I have gotten used to meetings with no eye contact.  It was a bit disconcerting at first.  I missed the knowing look, the flash of recognition and the other things that eyes do in a conversation.

Eye contact in interviews is especially important.  That’s where a lot of the “connection” happens between a candidate and an interviewer.  It can feel disjointed when that element is missing.

I did some thinking about this last week and tried a few experiments.  The best way to simulate eye contact is to look directly at the camera.  The trouble is that there are a bunch of other things to look at besides the camera and it is impossible to look at the camera and the person speaking at the same time.

What to do?

First, move the Zoom/Teams window as close to the camera lens as possible.  I work with two monitors and if I put the video call window on the upper screen, the person I am speaking with gets a lovely view of my neck.  (heavy sarcasm there – at my age, my neck is not at all lovely).

Nudge the window right under the camera.  Then alternate looking at the camera and the person in the video call window.  When the two are pretty close, it might feel like your eyes are flitting in a maniacal fashion, but it won’t look that way on the other end.

The second thing to do, and this takes practice, is to look into the camera when you are speaking.  You don’t have to do this for everything you say but when you are saying something substantial or telling a great story, look right into the camera.  It feels weird but it really makes a difference.

I tried this with several colleagues and a couple of candidates last week and they said it really made a difference.

Your eyes will get a bit tired at first, but it won’t take long for it to feel more natural.

Try it on a couple of calls.  Don’t tell anyone what you are doing but at the end of the call, ask if they noticed anything different.  I bet they will.

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Supporting Outplaced Colleagues

There is nothing like the pain of a lunchtime bikini wax to really bring things into perspective.

I stopped thinking about why some hairs grow faster than others and started thinking about important things like keeping in touch with people who are leaving my everyday work life.

My company has had some layoffs and it impacted me in some pretty intense ways.  Finding out that your friends and sponsors no longer have a place in the organization is pretty tough.  But it took a blinding flash of pain for me to realize that it is not about me.  I still have a job.  They need my support in a different way than before and I need to figure out how to provide it.

I need to make sure that I reach out regularly.  I know that my tendency is to get wrapped up in my everyday projects.  I guess I should put some notes in my calendar, just to make sure they stay on my radar.

I imagine they will go through alternating waves of happiness that they have some time to enjoy the summer and anger and grief that they lost their job.

It will be important for me to be supportive no matter what they are feeling.

Also, I will need to keep my eyes open for networking and referral opportunities for them.  That’s probably one of the best things I can do.  I can invite them to industry events and professional meetings. After all, we had fun when we worked together.  Why would it be any different now?

I guess I better book at spa appointment for next month.  In case I need another reminder…..

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Anxiety About the Future of Work

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.

 

 

 

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DIY Executive Search – is it a good idea?

Executive search is the same as any other professional service.  It’s about the value, not the cost – after all, isn’t that how you make other business decisions?

Do you do your own legal work?

Of course not.  There is too much risk and too much you don’t know.

It’s not that you couldn’t do the research and figure it out. It’s that there are experts who are easily available and can draw on the experience they have gained from working through hundreds of similar situations.  Not only will they will be faster and more thorough but you can yell at them.clock

Do not underestimate this.  When you do your own research and come up with a solution that does not work out, you can only be mad at yourself.  Not very satisfying at all.  If you use a paid professional, you have an expert to call to bail you out.  Yelling at yourself is a bitter pill to swallow.  Scotch might make this a little more palatable but not by much.

Do you do your company’s taxes?

Nope, this gets sent off to experts as well.  Changes in both legislation and your business make it pretty tough to keep up with what’s current, acceptable and advantageous.

When it’s audit time, you want to have a firm that you trust with a strong leader and good support staff.  You know it will cost money but you will feel confident about the results and the advice you get along the way.

So what about executive searches?  Many leaders feel that these should be handled in house.  But why?  Can you really get on LinkedIn to find who you need?  There are 450 million members.  Talk about finding a needle in a haystack.

How much time will it take to find five candidates you want your senior team to interview in order to find the right person?

  • Research – 50 hours
  • Set up and conduct phone interviews – 30 hours
  • Set up and conduct in person interviews – 30 hours
  • References and offer negotiation – 10 hours

That’s about three weeks if all you did was work on this task.  Can you put aside all of your other responsibilities for three weeks to work on this role?  Can anyone else in your organization afford this kind of time?

Say you can focus on this task, do you know the best way to interrupt a candidate’s life to tell them your story? Phone, text, email, skywriting?  You will only get one shot.  You have to make the most of it.

Is there really value to keeping senior talent acquisition in house?  Especially when you know you could hire a firm that would provide a shortlist of qualified, interested, assessed candidates in a set time frame.  Really?

Base your decision on value, risk and time – just like when you decide to use your lawyer and your accountant.

 

 

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How to Elevate your Presence on a Video Interview

By now, we have all gotten used to using video calls to meet with colleagues and friends. Things are a little less formal with those folks and you can get away with poor lighting or a cat traipsing through the background.

But what about in a job interview?  There is a lot riding on those calls and you want to make sure you do everything you can to appear as confident and comfortable as you would in person.

Check you set up – do a test run the day before with a friend.  Wear what you are going to wear, brush your teeth and hair and answer a few questions.  Take the feedback seriously.  Adjust your light, sound volume and background if necessary.

Set up a note pad and a glass of water – not a mug with a logo or a giant Slurpee sized bottle.  That looks super awkward on video.  No one wants to see your wattle when you take a drink.

Put sticky notes on the side of your monitor with the important points and questions you want to ask. That way you won’t have to look down and to the side when you are referring to them.

Open the app and start getting ready ten minutes before your appointment.  Most of the video apps have waiting rooms now. You can hang out just like you would in a reception area in the old days.  Breathe, check your notes, open the chat window and try to relax.

When you start the conversation, smile broadly with teeth.  Not a grimace but a smile that goes up to your eyes.  This will help to make the connection even though you are not in the room with your interviewers.

When you are talking, look at the camera.  That’s how we make eye contact in the virtual world. On my laptop, a green light goes on and I try to focus on at it while I answer questions.  My Zoom window is set so that I can still see the faces on my call when I am looking at the light.

Use as strong a voice as you can.  You don’t necessarily have to be louder than usual but try to project a little more.  Sit up straight and pull in your abs.  That will make you feel stronger and it will impact how your voice comes across.

In these times, when we are meeting from the waist up, it’s your face and voice that have to carry the day.  Amp it up a little to get the best results.

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Lose the Bias – Grow the Business

It may seem trite to keep writing about finding better work with all the shit that’s going on but I am going to do it anyway.  Work is the key to economic freedom, no matter what you look like.  It also can provide social connection and, let’s face it,  a lot of satisfaction.

In a Town Hall last week, our President, Ranjt de Sousa, said that “there is a new emphasis for leaders to practice conscious empathy as opposed to awareness informed by physical proximity.”  This is a big change for many leaders and not one that was planned.  There was no time to ease into managing teams who are working from home.   No time for workshops or coaching.  It has been a trial by fire experience.

It means that leaders cannot see you in their office door frame, look you up and down, decide you are fine and launch into business.  Now, they need to ask how you are and not just wait for a response but actually listen to the words, tone and inflection.

This does not apply just to leaders.  As colleagues, we need to practice this as well.  Checking in with teammates and other people in your work Venn diagram is really important to your relationships and, ultimately, your career.

I think it has been this sudden shift that has caused organizations to put hiring on hold.  Sure, there are financial reasons and other uncertainties, but really it is that people don’t have confidence in their ability to conduct interviews without physical proximity.

This has to change.  Hiring cannot stand still with so much changing in the world.  We need to keep up with what the business is doing and that requires hiring and sometimes, firing people.  No one wants to let people go virtually, but that has happened too.

Just like an in-person interview, the right questions will bring informative responses.  You can evaluate what the candidate knows, hear about past decisions, listen for their enthusiasm for the company and entertain their questions.

A virtual interview also helps to eliminate some of our bias points.  We cannot pass judgement on their height, weight, physical mobility or shoes.  (don’t laugh….this has come up in the past)

Let’s start to let go of the past traditions and move forward in a more progressive way.  It will be better for all of us.

 

 

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