Tag Archives: jobs

Job Search Success – Focus & Discipline

Looking for a new job can be overwhelming and it seems that a lot of people are doing a lot of exploring right now.   I see an article every day about “the great resignation”.  I don’t believe for a minute that everyone is looking for something new. 

Sure, there are people who banked a lot of money over the last 18 months.  No travel, no commuting expenses, no gym membership, no frosted highlights.  If all that cash went into savings, then there is a group of people who have a newly found cushion.  They can afford to use their f*&k you money to do just that – quit without a new job to go to.

Most people are not in that position but they are frustrated enough with their return to work/company/boss/pay situation to want to find something better.

Looking for a job when you have a job is one of the hardest things to do.  It takes focus and discipline.  Those things are not always available in abundance when you are juggling the rest of your life.

Focus – it is easy to go down the rabbit hole when you start reading job postings on LinkedIn.  45 minutes later you have imagined yourself as an aquanaut, a flavor developer for Pringles and dozen other things for which you are not even remotely qualified.

Decide on the three most important things your new job should have.  Write them down.  Use them to set up filters so you see only relevant jobs.  That keeps things a little more efficient.

Discipline – block time in your calendar to work on your job search.  Looking at postings on Sunday night when you are dreading Monday morning is not the best frame of mind. 

Try blocking a couple of lunch time sessions and an evening.  Try for three times a week, just like going to the gym.  Plan your sessions.  You want to apply for posted roles but that should only be 20-30% of your time. You also want to spend time reconnecting with former colleagues and people you know from volunteering.  Also, consider your current colleagues.  Take a few into your confidence that you are starting to think about something new.  You never know who will make the key suggestion or introduction that will get you into the best job of your life.

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Filed under career change, Interview, Job Search, Networking, Uncategorized

How to Work with Recruiters during a Pandemic

During the first part of the pandemic, there were two types of people – those who were directly impacted by restrictions and lockdowns and were definitely in need of a new job. Then there were others who were holding on to their jobs for dear life amidst the change to virtual or the physical changes in their workplaces.

Now, a year and half later, the lines are not so clear. There are still people who need a new job right now but there are a bunch of other groups too. People who are fed up with their managers or are not ready to go back to the office. People who are still balancing childcare and work in a messy swirl. People who are rethinking their relationship to work and what it should look like.

Couple this with the number of jobs that are open right now and you have a challenging time for us in the recruitment world. Lots of jobs and lots of candidates but very hard to get a match.

When you are working with a recruiter, there some things to keep in mind.

Be clear on your objectives. What kind of change are you looking for? Location, bigger team, new product, more innovative – any of these are valid. If you are not sure what would be better, you might want to think on it or talk with friends outside work before starting down the interview path. You probably don’t have time to spend going in the wrong direction.

As an example, finding out the the salary is 30% less than your minimum after four interviews is heart breaking and a big waste of time and energy.

Make sure you feel comfortable with the recruiter. They are representing you in the marketplace. Will they tell your story correctly? Will they advocate in the right manner and respect your priorities?

Share what you can about your current situation. What things are you juggling in your life? How much time do you have to commit to the search? What kind of flexibility to do you have?

All of these factors affect how a search will play out whether you are a candidate or a hiring manger (or both!)

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My Day is Craptastic – and yours?

Things don’t go well all the time.  Even when you work really hard to do the right things the right way, shit happens. People who are angry or unhappy lash out and toss around mistruths or accusations. Sometimes the crap lands on people who have nothing to do with the problem.

When this happens, our tendency is to get bug eyed and then close the door and cry.

And that’s okay.  Crying is good.  It gets the shock and awe (how could they say that?) out of the way so you can move on to dealing with the problem.

We can’t control people who throw crap at us, but we can control how we deal with it.

Yesterday, when I asked a good friend how she was, she replied “Well, I spent yesterday crying but now I’m getting constructive.”  Brilliant.

How you react behind closed doors is one thing.  What you do in public, is quite another.

Sure, take moment to vent, cry, swear, whatever, but then sit down and make a list of damage control items.  Consult a trusted advisor.  Take a deep breath and take action.

While you may have to accept that you did not get that job or that your colleague took credit for your idea, you do not have to let it end there.  You can send a gracious note to the hiring manager letting them know that you respect their decision and that you would be open to considering other roles in the future.  You can find a way to mention your contribution to the project while your boss is listening.

But it takes clear thinking and a desire to rise above it, to let the world know that you really do care about what you do and that a little crap thrown your way is not going to change that.

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Humour in the Interview – Tread Lightly

I had a good discussion with one of my friends this week about using humour at work, especially when you are new in a group or organization.  That got me thinking about humour in an interview setting.

An interview is like a first date.  You are listening and answering to see if there is a fit, to see if you get along.  Do you relate to the same things?  Do you share a common language or way of speaking?

There certainly can be some shared laughter in that kind of conversation but be careful it’s not nervous humour.  High pitched giggles and bathroom humour are definitely out.

If you are going to say something that you think is funny, check first – is it respectful and professional?  There is definitely no room for sarcasm in an interview.  Even if the hiring manager seems to be okay with it or throwing out some barbs, don’t do it.  Sarcasm is mean and even if it’s delivered in a funny way, it can still hurt someone’s feelings.

If the interviewer says something that’s funny to you, check their face before you burst out laughing.  If their eyes and mouth are not warm and smiling, perhaps it is not funny to them.  Definitely avoid laughing if they are not laughing.  This can be very awkward.

So tread carefully and pay attention.

And disregard this whole thing if you are interviewing at a Comedy Club.

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Job Journey: Nail the Interview with One Question

Picture this: you are at a job interview and things are going really well. The hiring manager leans back in her chair and asks if you have any questions. Bang! Here is your opportunity to cement everything and nail the job.

So, what do you ask?

Hint: Do not begin by asking about the start date. If they really want you, they will have already asked that question.

There are a couple of ways to go. One is to focus on the hiring manager. When did they start with the company? What do they like about the organization? What is the most meaningful part of their work?

You can also dig deeper into the company and it’s culture. What challenges does it face? What sets them apart from their competitors? What is the style of the senior leadership team?

Or you can ask about the role itself. You can ask about the compensation. Careful though. Sometimes employers don’t want to talk about that until quite late in the process. You could ask about whether there is variable compensation and how it’s tied to your performance. The answer to that could be quite insightful. You could also ask for more detail about other other
perks such as savings plans, company discount programs or tuition reimbursement. This one is nice because you could get a follow up question about your future goals around learning.
(so be ready for that).

There are lots of choices. The important thing is to think about it before you get there so that they are ready at hand. You don’t want to end an interview with a blank look and a shrug.

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Job Journey: What to do Between Interviews

Most hiring decisions take more than one interview. In fact, it’s not uncommon for there to be three or four interviews. Then there are the references, background checks and the offer discussions. All in all, a process that takes weeks and sometimes, months.

It’s a pretty stressful time. You lie in bed at night wondering what’s happening. When you have a bad day at work, you toy with the idea of quitting because you feel like that new job is just around the corner. Or you worry about taking on a new project because you might not be there to see it through.

Ignore all of these temptations. You don’t have the job until you sign an offer and until then, it should be business as usual. Keep doing your thing and making people happy.

Interviewing is stressful and can be distracting but it is important to stay focused on your day job. When you leave, you want it to be on your terms. You don’t want to have problems putting together references because you suddenly became a “performance problem”.

The other thing is to be careful about who you tell. Most of us have one or two friendlies at work. It can be okay to confide in them but only if you can really trust that they won’t share it with anyone else. And if you choose to share what’s happening with them, don’t do it in the office. Go out for coffee, meet after work or go for a walk. It’s too awkward to have that kind of discussion in and amongst your boss and team. People make assumptions and then gossip about those assumptions. Imagine if you hear from someone in another work group that you were not considered for the new project because they heard you were leaving.

Your partner and your outside-work friends are the best people to share your progress and help you decide what to wear. Your mentors are excellent for this too. They can give you more context, help you lay out the strategy for the next steps or just help you de-stress.

Be patient and try having some warm milk before bed.

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Job Journey: Interviewing Ad Infinitum

We always hear about the neighbor who got a job with a handshake. You know the one. He was in the line at Starbucks and got talking with the guy in front of him. One thing leads to another and the next thing you know, he is starting his new gig.

That mostly happens in the movies.

It can happen in real life but it takes a lot longer than the story makes it seem.

Very few companies make hiring decisions after one interview. In fact, very few seem to make them after three interviews.

There are two things at play here. One is making sure that the work group supports the hire. It’s a lot easier to onboard successfully if a bunch of people gave you a thumbs up. On the other hand, if you don’t work out, the finger pointing is not at one person but at the whole group.

The other reason for multiple interviews is to make sure that the best candidate is chosen for the role. The theory here is that the first interview is a series of get-to-know-you session with a larger group of candidates. That group gets narrowed down to a “short list” of candidates. They are presented to the hiring managers for review. Generally, they fit the skills, experience and compensation.

The hiring manager whittles that group down to a small group of two or three. At this point, any of the candidates could do the role. The conversation is to determine who would bring the best of the other necessary qualities: fit, energy, relationship building and so on. That conversation is usually with a Director or Vice President, someone who is one or two levels above the hiring manager. This is where things get pretty serious. The company will make a choice and there is no second place award.

Each of these stages require similar preparation. Review the interviewer’s profile. Where do they fit in the company? How do they relate to the role you are considering?

They will surely ask you many of the same questions as others before. Make sure you sound just as fresh and energetic at each stage. The people at the second and third stage are meeting you for the first time and as you go up the food chain, those first impressions really count.

Bring plenty of your own questions as well. Senior level managers want to know that you have done your homework and have a genuine interest and curiosity about the business.

Finally, book your haircut appointments for the next six months. That way you will always be fresh and ready on the outside as well as the inside.

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Job Journey: Interview No-Nos

Interviews are stressful and sometimes we blurt out things without knowing how they will be interpreted by the hiring manager.

Here’s what interviewers don’t want to hear:

I want this to be the last job of my career.

Even though your intention is to totally commit to this role, that’s not what the interviewer hears. They hear that you are looking for place to park for the next couple of years until you retire.

I will take this job until the right job comes along.

This is fine to think but not to say. No one wants to hear that a place on their team is not the most appealing thing since sliced bread.

My objective is to have your job.

Telling the hiring manager you want kick them out of their office is not the best way to display your ambition. Talking about wanting to lead a team or run a project is a better way to do this.

I’d like to work from home.

What the interviewer hears is that you don’t feel like this job is worth getting dressed and commuting for every morning. If the position is not advertised as “remote”, then its not and the expectation is that you will be in the office with everyone else. You can ask if work from home programs are available but that’s about as far as you can go.

Hiring is about finding the right person for the role. Part of this is assessing skills and experience and part of is assessing the risks the person presents. Make sure your answers do not lead them to consider risks that are not there. Practice your interview responses with this in mind.

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Back Door References – Just another form of gossip

In most searches, the final step is reference checking.  The candidate provides three or four people they have worked with or reported to.  Those people are asked a series of questions about the candidate’s work style and reliability and if the references are done right, they are also asked about areas of improvement and for an explanation of why they left the company.

This exercise is not meant to confirm that the person can do the job.  It provides verification of the good things you saw in the candidate.  And when you see common themes in what people have said, it’s a pretty sure thing.

Sure, this can seem like a bit of a rubber stamp.  But that’s okay.  If every reference check gave you crappy feedback, then you would soon realize have a major problem with your vetting and interview process.

Sometimes impatient or unsure hiring managers take this into their own hands and call people who have worked with or know of the candidate.  Many industries are small enough that this is possible.  This is called back door reference checking.

From a privacy standpoint, this is totally wrong and really crosses the line.  There is a reason we ask a candidate for people to call.

If you hear something bad, what will you do?  Call the candidate and tell them that their former manager said they were unreliable?  What if that manager was on leave for harassment?  You don’t know.  You have no context.

What if you call a former colleague and they happen to mention it to someone else in the organization?  What happens to that candidate who was quietly exploring a new role and all of the sudden everyone knows?  Bad news.

Do don’t play fast and loose with people’s careers.  If there is a particular point of view you want included in the reference, just ask.  That’s the best way.

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Want to Advance your Career? Stop Eating at your Desk

It is easy to get in to the habit of eating at your desk.  It seems like you are squishing in some extra work and looking super productive.  In fact, you look anti social and usually end up with heartburn.

Lunch was invented for a reason.  We need to stop and refuel.  It is a chance to change our surroundings and interact with different people.  It does not mean you have to spread out the white tablecloth and silverware.  Even if you just grab a quick salad or sandwich and sit with a few people, you will head back to your desk feeling refreshed.

The eating area is a common gathering place so you can learn a lot.  Not just gossip either.  You can hear what other groups are working on, get in on the good jokes and get exposed to a lot of different kinds of food.  You never know when you might have to opportunity to share your knowledge of where to get great Korean barbecue with the CFO.

Three other things to consider when deciding what to do about lunch:

Walking through a cube farm with your lunch smells wafting by is not always going to make you popular.

Crumbs in your keyboard is definitely frowned on by IT.

If you are not into eating (diet, Ramadan, cleansing), a walk outside is a great alternative.  Especially if you do it with someone else.  This can be extremely refreshing.  We refer to this as “walk n’ rant”.

So take the time and change your space.  It will be worth it.

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