New Post (Finally) Next Wednesday

22 Oct

I finally found some inspiration in 2010. I will tell you all about it in my post next week. In the meantime, had to share the video below that I hope you find inspiring. A great story about a high school football player and the opposing team’s coach in Southern Indiana.

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The ? Of The Unrealistic “JobStar”

16 Aug

“I have a few questions I would like the answers to before we go forward,” says the great candidate for the job.  I recruited the individual for a position down the road.  I interviewed, qualified and re-qualified.  Felt good about the answers.

Person came back with questions -typed an email even – they seemed legit and I liked the effort.  Questions you might have, questions we hadn’t covered yet – “Why is the job open?  What is the bonus structure?”  I knew most of the answers but just needed to clarify a few details with the client.  The candidate was worth getting the specifics for and I like to prove I am different from other recruiters -so…bottom line – I had enough doubt I just wanted to make sure on a few things. I went and got the answers.

I had already failed at this point.

You may know where this is going.  Let’s cut to it.  I get all the answers, we review them and then, ” I AM NOT INTERESTED.” (definitely all caps from my recollection) I pretty much heard a game show buzzer and a large WTF? appeared on the wall in front of me.  I was rather miffed… but not really.  Honestly, this had been an exhaustive search and I was more disappointed in my recruiter optimism than anything.  I was lacking a wise perspective at this point – more pissed than miffed.  Maybe miffed but from the pissed sort of genre.  Ah..emerging clarity.

The real clarity on this conflict came on Saturday morning from my 3 year old.  My wife had taken the 7 year old to the American Girl Store in Chicago that weekend so it was the least I could do to take my 3 year old on a similar outing.  We chose Dunkin’ Donuts.  Seemed like a fair response to the shopping spree in a Dad sort of way.  Between the two outings, we spent $304.99.

You take the 3 year old for donuts – you know you are all about assorted donut holes, varying sprinkles and chocolate milk (see Donut handbook).  What you don’t expect between the donut hole collage and chocolate milk bottle repeatedly teetering on table’s edge is a recruiting mentor to emerge?  The colorful sprinkles needing wiped from her mouth, mouth full of cake donut, chocolate milk drip on her chin and all in a milk throat kind of voice – my Lucy says, “What else you got, Dad?”

I had come full donut circle at the teachings of Lucy Skrentny Leffkowitz.  The candidate’s emailed questions were crystallized into one gigantic question –

“What else you got, Recruiter?”

Big time learning from the smallest recruiter trainer.  Look for her training modules soon but don’t expect candidates wielding this concealed question to resign in the near future.  While the 3 year old in her discovery ASKS the question – the wannabe masks the question with tire kicking, counts a healthy bonus potential that hasn’t paid out in 3 years as income and clings to unreciprocated loyalty with a value system that worked well for his parents.

I failed because I should have re-re-qualified him specifically for his seriousness level – I did not – those darn unvalidated assumptions.  I wish good blog posts came from the victories and not all these learnings.  Now that you know the official question of the unrealistic – You need the song of the unrealistic because I know you wannabe a “JobStar!”

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Painful Discussion

21 Jul

We need to discuss the above first.

A good career conversation is going to include painful discussion. Why would you leave your company?  What would you change about your current role?  What does your boss say about your future?  What does your boss’s boss say about it?

These are going to be questions you hear from me.  You may be asking them to yourself – maybe you should be.  Perhaps you self-medicate with over-the-cubicle remedies like “It’ll work out” self-talk, the ever-present – denial and unreciprocated loyalty.  If you face the pain, you know you have to take action, right?

Is it time for a painful discussion?  I am happy to pull up a chair if you want to talk.

One more thing – as you manage this career of yours – I hope you will SERIOUSLY ponder – Can the powers that be resolve the root cause of your concern?  Is it even possible?

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12 Jul

I am so behind putting together the CGP network policies and procedures manual but I have made a decision on your email address.

This policy is solid – and while I live in the gray most of the time – we are going B and W on this standard. Your email needs to be your first name, initial, whatever plus a really creative dot…or no dot for you old school email artisans – and the email provider of your choice will typically take it from there.

Here is the new policy – if you have one those overly cutesy email addresses (confident I have not written a blog post with “cutesy” in it) – I will ask you to repeat it so much, spell it a couple of times, mix in a huh? or two and soon…you will discern – “Ya know…I really should change that.”

And here is why the policy is now in force. Because believe it or not – people say to me – “Hey, what is up with that email address?” Look, I promise you that if they don’t say it – they THINK it.

Hypothetical example to follow. Suppose, you are a dog lover and it is natural that you would wanna email address reflective of that, right? I mean, you got the hand painted dog biscuit jar and the furniture scars to prove it. Is that your feisty little Chihuahua barking as I interview you – oh, you have 3….ok…really? And 3 rescues on the way to your wannabe kennel? Wow. Ok.

Bottom line – people may want to email you. They want to drop you a line and your phonetic spelling of Chihuahua – spelled
“C-h-i-w-a-w-a-w” in your email – as in – since was taken – basically, your email…well…you screwed the pooch here. (Sorry… but you did.)

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Better Letter. Better Hire Her.

28 Jun

I have asked this question in many different ways over the years but my new favorite question and I am thinking this will be on my MUST ASK list for the duration of my recruiting days is –

“What sets you apart from your professional peers?”

Simply, Jobseeker – You must know and you need to show.  This is the foundation of your unique brand.  Please – not the personal branding stuff again.  I KNOW – you hate that talk but….

Hiring managers are begging for something different.  Begging I say! – for better resumes, thoughtful thank you notes, a firm handshake with a look in the eye, really good, brief answers, prepared candidates that give employers reason to hire them.

As many of you know, I facilitate a job seeker meeting every Thursday in the Indianapolis area.  These job seekers have clearly stated they want the truth…and that they can handle it.  My goal is to help them any way I can and for them to help each other.  I am biased – but in this marketplace you need a group like this to stay in the game, to talk with your fellow persons, to engage.  Perhaps you should even start one.

I usually give first time attenders a pass before I unleash my opinion but I didn’t in this case.  A very nice lady shows up one day – an administrative assistant.  I tempered my comments at first but finally said, “Administrative assistants are a dime a dozen.”  (I did kind of cringe when I said it but I said it.)  At this time, I was hoping she knew I was talking about the “role” her and not the “real” her.  She didn’t flinch.  Whew.

Her resume was plain.  Plain plain.  Not even vanilla.  She was not.  She struggled to answer what set her apart though.  Here is why – the answer takes work. takes thought.  Takes examining where you have been, what you have contributed to your workplace, what you do differently – takes some focus.  We set up a time to talk – she called when she said she would.  She put a plan together and showed up at the the next meeting.

I almost didn’t recognize her – her first words, “I just wrote a killer cover letter.”  I am not sure those three words have ever been used together.  Killer. cover. letter.

Here is how she did it.  She writes a thoughtful opening paragraph building the case that she knows all the resumes they are reviewing pretty much look the same (check).  She then articulates the 3 traits that she feels set her apart (check) – then the best line of the letter smacks the reader in the face.  Here is the line.  Wait – are you ready for this?  OK.  Verbatim.  “My former supervisors agree.” Powerful line, Folks.

Now, how do we know that?  Let me share that with you.  She then incorporates 2 quotes from recent supervisors right there in the cover letter.  Ni-ice (pronounced Nuh-ice) work!

And now…The REST of the story.  She is now employed.  Hired by a company that she never sent this letter to when responding to their ad.  What?  She hadn’t written it yet.  What a waste, right?  Oh, not so fast.  She interviewed with them a few days after writing the cover letter.  The story is – the letter didn’t help her get in the door BUT the exercise of writing the letter and reviewing it with competent peers helped her interview better and be able to call their door her own.  She brought a new-found confidence and a secure grasp of what set her apart because she did the work and ACTUALLY asked her former supervisors what they thought of her contribution, her skills, her.

Do you refer to your cover letter as killer?  Do you know what sets you apart from your professional peers?  Can you articulate it?  Have you asked your former supervisors that question?   She went in knowing her brand.  Do you know yours …or are you just going in all Brandom (my word)?

Now…go rewrite your mediocre cover letter.

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Killing or Kissing

27 Apr

I am at your local Starbucks last week – meeting with a guy I have developed a lot of respect for over the years.  He has about 10 years on me in the recruiting biz and has built a relatively successful recruiting firm along with a couple of partners.  Besides being a good recruiter – he is a good guy.

We talk our usual shop as well as what is going on in your world stuff.  It was a one hour meeting and good to reconnect.  In the midst of the conversation, the light bulb goes off for me that I have a blog entry brewing with a phrase he drops on me.  I had never heard the phrase, still don’t know if it is common and if I had missed it or not somewhere, but it completely resonated and I think offers clear perspective in your job search.

His term for reviewing potential candidate resumes – Kiss It or Kill It.  I know you would expect the pile or file folder to have a better name – maybe A candidates or B candidates – NO, NO – Kiss it or Kill it.  Seriously – a smooch for being qualified and a snuff for not.  I love the word picture that paints for the job seeker and the question you should ask before you press submit.  Is my resume going to be in the kissed or shredded – I mean – filed under future consideration in their Applicant Tracking System – allegedly.

The idea of kiss it or kill it says decisions will be made and made quickly.  How long is the resume perusal?  At the most – 15 seconds.  Pucker up or say Buh-bye.  Have you spent the extra time proofreading it?  Read it out loud.  Not every HR manager and hiring manager offers grace to the typo.  Just assume they do not.  I don’t think it is that much of a penalty – it is more a basic easy reason to ding ya to the kill pile.  DOA.

The whole resume review process is all about having a glanceable resume that gives me a reason to actually read it.  In deference to the hiring manager, it has to be.  You have competition and there is no time.  More people applying for the same job.  I know this is basic stuff but I continue to see terrible resumes and plain cover letters.

Are you offering a solution to their problem?  Are you surveying the job description for key words?  Again, basic.  Be clear, be honest, be compelling.  Make them want to actually read on.  Tell your story.   Give the employer reasons to bring YOU in now.

My favorite quote of the week was from a VP of HR that said, “I just want to see that these people have done a little extra work.”  Is your resume begging for a big wet kiss or simply asking for it?

They Know

14 Apr

Without question, my job has gotten much more difficult when it comes to getting people on the phone.  Answer your (expletive) phone!  (I often whisper this before you pick up the receiver)  I promise this works as well as pushing the elevator button repeatedly. 

It is tough to get people on the horn – they are busy, time is precious, prepping for a meeting, in a meeting, they don’t recognize your number via caller ID, all that.  It is a challenge.  You need to be ready to compete.

I am completely averse to making these posts about 7 tricks for getting past gatekeepers or 5 words you must use when marketing yourself – just don’t like it.  I will say though – the key is understanding that these calls are a mindset.  I have the tricks but I choose not to post them here because, in all transparency, they are not very glamorous and I choose not to.  If you want some tips and tricks in this arena, you will have to call me.

Recruiting calls, marketing calls are a grind if done with a sauntering spirit.  You better be on a mission.  Recruiters understand this, most jobseekers do not. 

You may be surprised that I still write scripts about my candidates and the positions I am working to fill for my clients.  I have been in this business for 13 years but I need to make stories compelling and even more so -concisely compelling.  Concisely compelling involves wordsmithed thought.  You need to be concisely compelling because the goal is a brief, meaningful conversation that opens a door.

Do you even have a positioning statement?  an elevator pitch?  What do you want to do?  How do you articulate your skill set?  Do you have depth of conviction in these calls or is this a stroll down potential hiring manager lane?  If you sense an interest, do you have a few key questions for the “what next” or are you going to wing it?

Back to the mindset.  You are going to get rejection, you are going to get voicemail, you may get hung up on, and you are going to get frustrated.  It is hard work making these calls but in my professional opinion, it is imperative you reach the hiring manager/decision maker.  A person is going to find you your next position.  It takes people.  It takes connecting with people.  It takes work. 

This post has rambled on all so I could say this – you must be persistent and know that it will take more than a few calls.  Out of my own frustration came the latest epiphany – you gotta earn the right to talk to them.  Your persistence will pay off – it will.  Here is what these decision makers know –

They don’t have to answer.  They don’t have to call you back.  Because THEY KNOW I will go away.  THEY KNOW you will go awayTHEY KNOW.

So DON’T GO AWAY.  Sounds so simple but it can be so difficult.  I am amazed about how many jobseekers go away.  They call me once, leave a half a…you know… a weak voicemail and expect a callback.  I never hear from them again. 

Don’t go away.  Don’t show frustration.  If you aren’t feeling it today, don’t make the calls.  But when you are ready to be “on” – Be on a mission armed with clear, concise, compelling words, conviction in your voice and key questions for the what next.   Just like my mentor always said, “Get on the phone!  I don’t want to see the phone in the cradle today.”

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