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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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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