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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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Business is Moving – Don’t Stop Hiring

This is not the time to pause hiring.  I know it’s tempting to put the brakes on bringing on new people but it’s a really short term decision with negative long term consequences.

When this thing started, we did not know what was going to happen.  This is uncharted territory.  But we have proven that we can adapt and though it is not easy, we have figured out how to carry on doing business and staying connected.

We have all the tools to recruit, interview and reference check.  Video interviews are efficient and effective.  You can even do a panel interview and have candidates do presentations using Zoom or Teams.

The interview is meant to be a simulation of how a candidate would fit into a team, a company and the culture.  Seeing as how we will be continuing to do almost all of our activities using voice and video, it seems perfectly appropriate to interview that way too.

It does not take much organization to send an orientation box to a new hire at their home.  A laptop loaded with Outlook, sign up forms, orientation materials and some company swag is all it takes.

Not to brag, but my boss Rob Hosking did a very good webinar on virtual hiring and onboarding. You can see it here.

So, we have the process and the technology.  Who needs to be hired?

Some of the roles that were open in March may not be necessary anymore but it’s likely that those roles have been replaced by others.  Let’s face it. Not all leaders have been shining stars through these last nine weeks.  Some will need to be replaced.  Also, doing business in a different way means that there is probably a need for skills that you did not need before.  Don’t ignore these needs or the decisions that need to be made.

The average recruitment process takes 6-10 weeks.  If you see a gap now, what will it look like in July?  Can you really afford to wait?  Who will be impacted? It may have gone from a gap to a really big hole.

If there are long term concerns about the need for the role, you can always look at a 12 month contract.  In these times, the candidate community would not shy away from that.

We have the technology to interview and onboard without being face to face.  Don’t let that hold you back from making the right hiring decisions for the business.

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Floss More – Practical Tips for Video Calls

Our company has had 30,000 zoom meetings globally over the last eight weeks and we have learned a thing or two about how to be successful in this new virtual world.

Floss more – we are up close and personal all the time.  Where I used to advise people to check their fly before a meeting, now my advice is to check your teeth for errant kale or bagel seeds.

Pants less – we all joke about not wearing pants anymore – but a word of caution.  When you jump up to close your door, we will all know that you are not wearing pants.

Check your mug – I was talking to my straight-laced colleague, Stephen, yesterday and he kept staring at something and moving closer to the camera.  Finally, he asked me what my mug said.  I realized I was using a gift from my sister-in-law with some colourful language that seemed appropriate for women our age but not really for a Zoom call.  We both turned all kinds of red but had a good laugh about it.

Find a phone stand – do not hold your phone in your hand.  Get a phone holder or lean it against something.  A moving phone is nausea inducing for your audience.  Trust me.

Watch the angle – people don’t want to be looking up your nose or at the side of your face.  Pay attention to what your audience with see.

Check your background.  Sure, it’s fun to check out each other’s home office set up, you don’t have to share that if you don’t want to.  Here’s how you can change your Zoom background (link) and blur the background in MS Teams (link)

Video calls on one of the best tools we have to keep ourselves together and connected.  Use them well and often.

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They Yawned in my Interview

Picture this: you are on a video interview with two hiring managers.  One of them is looking at you, making notes and nodding often.   The other is looking at you and has asked a couple of questions. Then it happens.  That second person yawns.

You are a bit taken aback but you keep rolling along.  You spend a bit more time looking at the interviewer who seems more engaged.  Then it happens again.  The yawn.  By the third yawn, you are questioning why you are even there.

On the way home, you are battling in your mind.  Was it a big deal or a small deal?  Tiny red flag or monumental deal killer?

Probably the latter.

According to Carol Blades, Master Facilitator at LHH Knightsbridge, this is a form of micro-aggression and it is definitely  a sign that things will not work out.

Even if one half of the hiring team loves you, the other half is just not that into you.

You can come to the same conclusion if that person cannot seem to remember your name or turns a shoulder to you instead of facing you.

Even if all the stars align and the company makes you an offer, you will have a long and uphill battle to win that yawner over.

The bottom line is that you need to take interviewing seriously.  You need to do your research on what the company is looking for and be clear about what YOU are looking for.  Be able to articulate with confidence on both.

In your post-interview assessment, pay attention to the little red flags and the big ones.  Decide carefully on if and how you want to proceed with the process.

Don’t ignore your gut on this – it’s too important.

 

 

 

 

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It’s okay to be sad – it’s not all sunshine and lemon drops

Each week, we grieve a little bit for the things we are missing. It shows up as feeling sad or angry or just plain old grumpy (I’ve been told).  It takes some time and sometimes a trusted person to help sort it out.

Try looking at what you were doing last year or even last month at this time.

It might be playing tennis or golf with your friends or an annual vacation.  Maybe you were set to start on a new adventure that’s been postponed. Maybe you just miss your colleagues, even the annoying ones.

It’s okay to feel not good about this.  Take some time to be sad and to acknowledge the current state of affairs.

Then take some time to find two or three good things.  Are you still healthy?  Do you have enough to eat?  Can you look outside and see things growing and turning green?

On Monday morning, I was quite despondent.  I was not looking forward to another week of social distancing and interminable zoom calls.  I sat on kitchen floor sipping coffee thinking about it all.

Then I got up and looked out the window to discover that a robin was building her nest in the tree right outside my window. She was so industrious, going back and forth with twigs and bits of stuff to construct a little bucket on a branch for her coming family.

I decided that I could do that this week too.  I could gather bits of information and snippets of knowledge to share with hiring managers and candidates to help to bring everyone together.

It’s been a pretty good week so far -thanks to Mother Nature and my friends.

 

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April 30, 2020 · 9:43 am

Resume Refresh – It’s Time.

As my good friend Bob Dylan said “Times, they are a changing.”  I am not sure he imagined this, even when he was at his most high. But he was right.  We are living in constant change and we find ourselves just as busy as ever.

We don’t know what our work lives will look like in three months or six months.  There will be new patterns of work and ways of getting things done.  There will be more work from home and different ways to collaborate.  There will be changes in corporate leadership as new types of leaders step up or take over or shine differently.

So how do you prepare for this?  Two things:  pay attention and be ready to look at new opportunities.

Paying attention means listening in to the seemingly endless Town Halls and meetings. Watch who is talking, who is leading and listen for any subtle, between-the-lines type information.  Also, make sure to stay connected to people outside your work group.  Rekindle your relationships with customer service of finance.  Check in with HR or Communications.

Getting ready for new opportunities does not mean you need to look for a job.  It means being open to conversations about your future and different ways to use your skills and passions. And it means having a resume ready to follow up on those conversations.

Refreshing your resume is something you can do over the next couple of weeks.  It’s not as daunting as you think.  Break it into six steps.  If this time has taught me anything, it’s that is it actually okay to do one thing at a time.

How to update your resume in six easy steps.

  1. Find it.
  2. Read it and make a few notes.
  3. Refresh it.
  4. Edit it.
  5. Share it with two trusted advisors.
  6. Save it somewhere that’s easy to access anywhere.

 

There you have it.  Your toolkit for the future. This and $10 will get you a cup of coffee on Skip the Dishes. Keep you chin up and find humour where you can.  We will get through this together.

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Tips to Help the Newly Jobless

A lot of people are suddenly unemployed.  Good people.  Smart people.  High performing people.  People who are not used to this sort of thing. They may be putting on a brave face but you know that inside, they are worried as hell.

Here are some ways you can help without leaving your house.

  1. Reach out – send a note or better yet, call them.  Sometimes, we don’t make that call because we are not sure what to say.  Just start with “hello” and the rest will look after itself.
  2. Accept LinkedIn connection requests from people you may not know.
  3. Offer to connect/refer/introduce people to each other.
  4. Start a weekly coffee zoom chat and invite people to join in. It can be neighbours, former colleagues or a mix of everyone.
  5. When someone asks if you will look at their resume, say yes. And make it a priority.
  6. Send flowers or chocolate or wine or dinner. Lots of options here.  What ever you think might boost their spirits.
  7. Make sure they have a library card. This may sound trivial but libraries have providing a ton of free digital resources for years and they amped up even more now. You can apply on line and take advantage of helpful stuff or just get books to help you escape for a few hours.

You’d want this kind of support if it were you, right?  Put on your shoes of empathy and make that call.  You will feel better for it.

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