Go Ahead and Take that Call……

In and amongst the town hall invitations and Zoom meetings yesterday, was an email announcing that one of our senior IT leaders was leaving “to pursue an opportunity outside the organization”.  That is almost always code for going to another gig at another company.

This had to be something that was in the works for quite a while.  At his level, you don’t make a move in a just a few weeks.  It takes time to interview, negotiate, reference check and give notice.

The announcement confirmed what I had been thinking.  People outgrow companies and companies outgrow people and a pandemic does not change this fact.

I have had several candidates tell me that they could not possible explore a new role right now.  It would not feel right.  I respect that. Really, I do.

But, in the end, we are the masters of our careers. No one else will do it for us or better than us.

Other people have been very open to conversations.  They had been disappointed at how their leaders were showing up.  They were not feeling cared for before all this started, and it has not gotten any better.

There are also candidates who are looking down the road at what will have to change in their industry/company and whether they still see a fit for themselves and their ambition.

My crystal ball is in the shop so I cannot predict what the world of work will look like in six months.  I do know that lots will change and it is only by staying in touch and reviewing opportunities as they present, can you make sure that the best things don’t pass you by.

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Pro Tips – Video Meetings

Here’s how to look like a #wfh pro.  These tips work for meetings with colleagues, clients or job interviews (yes, there are still job interviews happening)

Phone holder – This is essential.  It is nauseating for your viewers to see your image moving back and forth when you hold it in your hand.  It also limits your ability to make notes.  There is no need to buy one.  You can find lots of DIY templates on Pinterest. Here is a link to get you started – https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/227009637437845277/

Light – Sit facing the window.  When the light is behind you, your face looks dark and spooky.  If you are using Zoom, you can change the background so people cannot see the real background.  This is fun and useful.  Learn how here — https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/210707503-Virtual-Background

Prep the day before – Just like any other meeting, you want to put in a few minutes of thought before the meeting.  Think about what you need/want to get out of the conversation. Leave a few minutes before it starts to get friendly with a comb.  Over the ear headphones don’t do our hair any favours.

Sticky notes on the side of your computer – if there are a few specific things you want to bring up, put little sticky notes on the side of your monitor or device.

Tidy the area around you – Check what’s around and behind you.  Clear away papers and lunch leftovers. Deploy the virtual background (above) if you need to.

Set appointments for early or late in the day when more band width is available.  Also people in your household might be engaged in activities that don’t require you – like sleeping and Netflix.

Turn off the video if the audio gets strangled – if the audio starts to sound garbled, suggest to your parties that everyone turn off the video.  That usually clears it up right away.  You can  get adept pretty quickly at turning on and off the video – it’s nice to have it on when you are speaking.

Practice these things your friends and family first – then you will have total confidence running your business day and we could all use a little of that.

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Keep Talking…..and Helping….and Talking

“It’s about the give.”  That’s what @Christoph Niebel said yesterday on our all-hands call.  We as an organization and individuals have so much to offer. We just have to figure out how to get it out into the universe.

Christoph is our Chief Sales Officer and he must be feeling an awful lot of pressure. But it did not show. He had pulled together strong and positive examples of how our teams around the world were extending help to our clients. 

A Canadian bank is providing virtual, on demand coaching for their mid level managers who are now managing virtual teams.  You have to do more than learn Zoom to be an effective virtual leader.

A large German automaker is going to give resiliency workshops to its front line supervisors.  They have a whole new host of things to deal with but they need to keep propelling the business forward.

Our offices in China are back up and running and my colleagues there are rising to the challenge for our leadership and recruitment services.

Regardless of the business or sector we are in, we must continue to reach out to clients and communities to offer our experts, our advice or just an ear.  This is a time of intense uncertainty, but we will come out of it stronger and better than we were before.  We just have to help each other along the way.

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Social Distancing? Pick up the Phone

Yesterday morning at 9:30, I felt like curling up under the covers and not coming out until May.  There was so much change and so much information. I felt like I was being bombarded.

Then my phone rang.  It was a former colleague. She wanted to introduce me to someone who she thought could use my advice.  We spent a few minutes catching up and sharing ideas on the best yoga apps and hung up.

Suddenly, I was back in the world.  I phoned a colleague.  And then a friend.  And then my mom.

My tank was full, and the rest of the day was very productive and positive.

Now that our evening activities have been curtailed and our commutes eliminated, we have time.  This is the thing we have been wishing for more of since we were assigned our first essay in school.

We are out of practice managing our time when we have more of it– our usual MO is squeezing everything into less time.

Use this time wisely.  Check in with people every day – not the same people but different people.  Reach out to former managers, neighbours, colleagues, friends from high school.  Keep a rolling list of people to call.  Get reconnected, get new insights, new energy and hopefully a few jokes along the way.

Social media still has it’s place in this “hunker down and stay home” era but it will not take long for us to realize that actually talking to someone on the phone or a video chat is entirely more satisfying.

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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.

Why?

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 to find a goat.

 

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Will your resume make the cut?

I had coffee last week with a candidate who was really frustrated because he had applied for lots of positions and not been contacted.

I asked him to tell me about one of them.  “Well, it was a mechanical engineering position in a manufacturing company.”

“What were they looking for?” I asked.

“An engineering degree and 5 years of design experience in a plastics manufacturing environment.  It was perfect for me.  It’s exactly the kind of company I want to work for.  I can’t understand why they have not called me yet for an interview.”

As we continued the conversation, I learned that while he did have experience in plastics, it was in equipment design not product design and that he did not have an engineering degree.

So at the risk of sounding harsh, I told him why he had not been called.  There were three criteria listed in the posting and he met only one.  In a resume sorting system, whether it’s human or digital, he won’t make the cut.

“But that’s not fair!” he wailed.  “I would be perfect for the role!”

That may be true but if you are replying to a posting where there are clear specifications, you better have most of them if you want to be considered.  Companies have reasons for their criteria and it really does not matter whether you think you are perfect or whether the criteria is justified.

If you are an “out of the box” candidate, then you need to apply in an “out of the box” method.  If your resume does not make the kind of impression you want to make, then you need to make your first impression in a different way.

Find someone who can introduce you to a hiring influencer.  Speak at a conference or workshop.    Post a comment on a Linkedin discussion or write an article for your specific audience. These avenues allow your expertise, handshake, eye contact, stature and general aura to make the first impression.

Bottom line: At the application stage, it does not matter if you think you are perfect for the role.  What matters is that there is a clear fit between your experience/credentials and the company’s criteria.

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Explore the Unexplored – Find the Best Careers

I am at a conference in Ottawa this week.  Not just any conference but the annual meeting of the Canadian Nuclear Association.

When I tell that to people, I get a blank look in return.  Completely blank.

This is a not small meeting.  There are 900 delegates from across Canada and likely more post graduate degrees per square inch than anywhere outside a university campus.

These people are not just involved in generating power but also mining, food processing, nuclear medicine and more.  And it’s not just engineers.  The nuclear industry directly employs 80,000 people in Canada.  They are responsible for powering many of your laptops and proving the isotopes for your MRIs.

Yesterday was student day and we presented a resume workshop to more than 100 students from across Canada.  Many of them had to compete for a spot on the team that came from their university.  They came to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers in the industry. They have a very bright future.

So, here is an industry that is responsible for putting five billion dollars (yes, billion) into our economy and yet people don’t consider it as a career possibility.

How many other industries are out there under people’s radar?

If you are looking for something new to do, you have to stretch your horizon.  It may be lovely to work for a Fortune 500 company but there are so many other interesting, stable, well-paying options.

How do you find these out about these industries?  Stop where you are right now.  Identify six things that are in your immediate area.  Where do they come from?  Who made them?  Where did they get developed?  That’s a good way to start.

For example, there is a banana beside my computer.  It took a bunch of people involved in farming, logistics, transportation, export, inspection and distribution to get it to me.

Could I work in one of those industries?  I don’t know but I think it’s time to find out.

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