Redefining a Jumpy Career

I had two clients this week who decided they did not want to interview candidates because they looked “too jumpy”.  I pressed for more details. Their perception was that the candidates might not stick around for long.

Meanwhile, the candidates were asking me about the company and whether it was stable.  They wanted to know if it had a good history, if it was Canadian or if it has headquarters elsewhere and what the future looked like.

Does that sound like they were looking to jump ship after six months?  Of course not.

It is ironic, that hiring managers hang so much on whether a candidate demonstrates long tenure at each position. Meanwhile, they cannot offer any guarantee that in two years the company or even the role will be the same in two years.

Mergers and acquisitions, retirements, market downturns and technology upturns all affect the way companies conduct business and the humans they need to be successful.  Employees do their best to stay relevant and keep up, but at the end of the day, leaders choose to swap out those employees for others with different skills.

Just because someone gets restructured does not mean that they do not work hard or offer great skills.  It means they were not the right person at that moment in the organization.

A well-structured interview will bring out the skills, experience and attitudes offered by a candidate. A constructive reference check will verify those characteristics based on past performance.  An independent assessment can be used to predict how the person will react in a new environment.

Those are three solid ways to validate that what you see in an interview is what you will get when the person is in the seat.

Sure, it’s an investment in time and possibly money but it does allow a hiring manager to de-risk a hiring decision.  It also allows them to tap into all the good talent not just the small slice of the candidate community that offers a particular career pattern.

As Forest Gump said, “life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get…. so try them all.

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Late Night: A Tale of Two Careers

I saw the new movie, Late Night, written by Mindy Kaling last night.  It stars Mindy, herself, with a stellar performance by Emma Thompson.  I am not a move critic, but I know a good career movie when I see one.

If you are having any doubts about whether you have chosen the right career, go see this movie.  If your company is changing and you are not sure you like the new org, go see this movie.

Without giving away the plot, the young, aspiring comedy writer finagles her way into an interview for a late night talk show hosted by a venerable host with waning popularity.

Just the bit about how she got the interview is a true lesson in how to get to do what you really, really want.  It is not everyday someone goes from working in Quality Control in a chemical plant to a 13 week paid comedy internship.

Watching Emma Thompson’s character realize that she has become complacent and has been taking a lot of things for granted is a great illustration.  It shows us of what happens to people who have been very successful but suddenly find themselves unhappy and are not sure why.

It is entertaining to see how the millennial and the aging talk show queen (who could be anyone’s boss) try to see the value in each other.  Both characters spend a lot of time squinting at each other.  They really do come from different planets and I don’t just mean England and Brooklyn.

I’ll leave it to you to go to the movie and see how it all works out.  Consider going with your mentor circle or a work friend.  There will be lots to talk and laugh about over coffee/wine afterwards.

PS If you don’t hear from me next week, it’s because I have figured out how to become a comedy writer and moved to New York.

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Anxiety and the Future of Work

I have been reading a lot about job trends and what our work lives will be like in the future.  It is fascinating to see the broad spectrum of opinion about this.  Some people think that robots 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 or flip through pages and pages of resumes in file folders.

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 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 where we use technology and creative thinking skills to figure out to implement the best new tools in the best way possible.

 

 

 

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Time for a 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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Six Degrees of Separation? I think not.

I used to believe in the idea of six degrees of separation but now I think it’s more like three. I keep tripping over people who are connected to people I know.

I guess in my field it’s more common to find connections. Let’s face it.  I phone strangers for a living. I rarely work with the same people twice and if I do my job well, more people get pulled into the spinning wheel of connections.

There are some pretty big lessons here.

You really should try to be nice to everyone because you never want to find out that you just bad mouthed your neighbour to his best friend.

It would also be bad if you were very critical about a former boss only to find out that she just got hired where you just interviewed.

And here’s a good one:  sarcasm does not work on a screen. You can use it in a phone call, video,  podcast or anything else where the recipient can see your face. If they can’t see your eyes, they won’t get the joke. Trust me. This one can be messy.

So remember, that as we get older, the world gets smaller.  You never know when you will find yourself talking to a future boss/reference/in-law.  Be nice to everyone.  If you can’t be nice, then at least be respectful and polite.  It will pay off in the end and if it hasn’t paid off, then it’s not the end.

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You are not Wolverine. These things take time.

Wolverine is a comic book hero-mutant who has, among his superhero attributes, a special healing factor that causes him to recover from anything that hurts him. This is really handy when he is fighting bad guys with the X-men or the Avengers.

We would do well to remember that we are not superheroes. Transitions, whether of our own choice or chosen by someone or something else, always take longer than we think they should.

It takes time to recover from the sadness of being dumped in a corporate layoff. 

It takes time to feel good after finding out that you did not get the job that was a perfect fit.

It takes time to regain momentum on a job search when you are really busy satisfying a boss you can’t stand.

Can you spare 15 minutes today?  Try.  It will be worth it.

  • Sit down with a beverage, a pen and a piece of paper.
  • Write down three things you are proud to tell people about from your career.
  • Next add three things that you have achieved in your non-work life.
  • Finally, if I asked three of your friends or colleagues about your best attributes, what would they say?  Add those words to your list.

Sit back and take a look.  Good, eh?  You have a lot going for you.  Take a deep breath and enjoy it for a moment.

Now, get back out there and slay those career villains!

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Stop Apologizing for Your Salary

This week’s recurring theme was the “salary apology”. Time after time, I asked candidates about their salary objective and their responses went like this : “Um…well…I am paid pretty well and I just want you to know that I am pretty flexible. Money is not that important to me.”

Ack!!!

That is not the way to answer that question – especially when a recruiter asks. You know what we come away with? You are flexible and will take any old, low-ball salary.

You are paid what you are paid. You have done the work and now you earn that much money. The only reason to deviate from this is if you are looking to move to part time work or get into another occupation. That’s really the only time to drop your expectations.

You can certainly offer to be flexible but don’t lead with that. If you really love the sound of the role or if the commute is going to save you a ton of time or money or the company is offering a bunch of non-salary perks (like a car or a house) you can offer a salary range that gives some potential wiggle room.

If there is a big difference in what you are making and what the job is offering, chances are there are other things that will be misaligned as well. The company may be much larger or much smaller or the role might be much broader or much more narrow.

Then there is the perception a weak answer give to the hiring manager. If they hear you say you would take less money for their role and that is something they would never do, they will wonder what is wrong with a) you or b) your present situation.

Maybe the most important reason to be clear on your salary objectives is this: it is absolutely heart breaking to get through the interview process, learn that you are one that has been selected for the role and then get presented with an offer that is 20% lower that what you make now.

So be clear and honest about your compensation objectives. It’s for your own good.

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