Why Won’t They Hire Me? What Am I Doing Wrong?….

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ~Confucius

Initially I felt the true tone of the commentary should be framed with a profound statement of hope, virtue, dedication and love. Then I looked around at the current state of the global economy and saw the new face of the workplace and found a better one:

“The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.” – Oscar Wilde

This may have been a sound bite one hundred and ten years ago but the profound relevance today helps put perspective on the framework of the modern workplace.

We live in unprecedented times saturated with evolutionary change and recovery. This is an opportunity to look in the mirror and determine your value and what contribution you can make.

We would like to use this discussion to provide some tips and insight to help put your personal strategy in place and help you see clearly during this recession.

What is the best way to get a recruiter’s attention without being too pushy? What if you are not on LinkedIn?

A recruiter or talent acquisition specialist may be the key initial contact to a potential opportunity but you should not limit that as your only option. The key to getting recognized in a large candidate pool is to get noticed. There are several options at your disposal.

1.) Find one or two strong points of contact in the organization you are seeking employment and present your background. Using tools such as Linkedin, Spoke, Jigsaw, and Facebook, you can get the name of a department or business leader. Develop a strong eye catching resume that will grab the audience immediately. If that resume gets in the hand of a key business leader, it can put you ahead of the class if that business leader presents his/her findings to the Talent Acquisition Team. Many organizations place a high priority on internal associate referrals. This individual may not know you but if impressed it can get in the hands of the key member of the recruitment team. Linkedin is the most powerful web based tool for developing professional connections. There are currently over 180 million global professionals and growing. When asked what Linkedin is by friends who are not familiar with this site, my response is very simple: “It is the Facebook for the professional community”. By eliminating the social piece of the puzzle, Linkedin is a means of developing relationships and growing professional networks. Within the individual profiles lies 177,000 communities and affinity groups that are regionalized, skill based, and talent derived. If you have not had an opportunity to create a Linkedin profile I would strongly recommend developing one (www.linkedin.com)

2.) A basic rule of thumb is that a recruiter/sourcer may spend between 10 and 20 seconds reviewing a career background profile (resume). The key to a successful resume is to impress immediately. If the first half of the page does not grab the attention of the reader, then the rest will not make a difference. Ensure the first half of the resume is detailed with accomplishments, budgets, leadership support, technical skills and focused on career path. These key elements will keep the attention of the recruiter. Some of the key elements that deter a recruiter are A) Lack of focus, B) Job Jumping, C) Gaps in employment, and D) Lack of Detail. If those elements are found, the likelihood of going further in the process is slim.

3.) Many organizations have developed alumni networks and fan sites to help build pipeline for future opportunities. Perhaps if you are actively employed but feel another company may be more in line with your career aspirations, you can join a fan site and develop a small network and build on that so that when you are ready to take that next career move you have a foundation in place. On January 13th 2009, Hewitt Associates launched the Hewitt Alumni Network (www.hewittalumninetwork.com) to provide an open collaborative community for former associates keep in touch with old colleagues, news, and changes to the Hewitt culture and business. In less than one year, almost 4000 former associates have chosen to be part of this community.

Do you have any networking “pet peeves” or mistakes that you notice a lot of job seekers make? What should job seekers always try to do to increase the likelihood of being contacted for an interview?

There are a number of mistakes a candidate can make that can adversely affect their chances of being considered for a potential career opportunity. Enthusiasm and determination are excellent soft skills but they can also be a powerful deterrent to a potential employer. There are a few mistakes an application should try to avoid when applying for career opportunities:

1.) Read the job descriptions very closely. If you do not meet the minimum skill sets you should not apply to that role. Ex: Ruby Programmer – Requires a minimum of two years of development and application in Ruby. If you are a java or C++ programmer then you will not be qualified for this role.

2.) Do not over apply to a particular company. Many companies have online application tools that allow an individual to set up a profile and then apply very easily to multiple roles. Do not apply to as many roles as possible and hope you get noticed. This will show a lack of focus and understanding from the standpoint of the lead recruiter.

3.) If you are going to use a cover letter and/or objective statement, ensure that it is tailored to the specific role and company you are applying.

4.) It is a gamble but I would recommend including your salary requirements in the profile. Many industries have interchangeable job titles, but that does not always translate to comparable pay and responsibility level.
5.) If you are five years or under from your academic studies completion, include your final academic grade average.

6.) If there is a gap(s) in employment, include a short statement on why. Many will understand the recession has played a role in current unemployment status but if there is a pattern of that behavior without explanation that will look poorly on the application.

7.) Proofread your resume and/or cover letter before submitting it. First impression has and will continue to be a critical factor in getting noticed and attention to detail is a skill that is often overlooked by applicants.

8.) Tailor the details of the resume to the role you are applying. If you are applying for a Java developer and program manager, then you do not need the barista role you had at the corner coffee house. Certainly it shows the ability to learn new skills and work under pressure but it is not relevant to the role.

9.) Make your contact information clear and noticeable. A recruiter should not have to try and search through the resume for a contact number or email. Also, ensure your contact email is professional. A candidate may have the most remarkable resume but the email jimlovesbeerpong@gmail.com will not impress a recruiter.

10.) If you have contact information from a recruiter, it is appropriate to call or email after one week to check on the status of the application. Unless the company representative tells you to reach out again you should wait to hear back. Each company has a unique review process. Some review and displace immediately while others maintain a database for other possible opportunities. Patience can be hard in a career search but it is a critical need to have. An exception to the rule is if you are in consideration for another opportunity within the company or another company. At that point, it is appropriate to reach out and explain the other opportunity and the timing.

You got the interview, it went well. Is it necessary to send a physical thank you card via snail mail, or will an email thank you sufficed?

The thank you card is a lost art. During simpler times, when the typewriter played the role of the personal computer, engraved letterhead was the preferred choice over E-cards and handwriting with genuine sincerity took the helm over instant messaging, text and email, there was value placed on the time and effort to complete a thank you card/letter. Times have changed and we live in much more fast-paced settings so the difficulty of continuing this tradition is difficult. Another aspect that makes this question harder to address is whom do you send the card to? During a full life cycle recruitment process you may talk to a Sourcer, Recruiter, Administrative Support Specialist, Assessor, Hiring Manager or Business Leader. Do you send the letter to the recruiter who may be your primary point of contact but not the decision maker? Do you send it to the assessors who took the time to evaluate your background or the business leader who may be the person that determines your long term future with the organization?

It is a personal choice to send a thank you. If you would like to address each person in the process, the email route would be the most efficient means of reaching each party but lacks a sense of personal connection. If you chose this route, personalize your email but make it short addressing something that was said or a comfort level you achieved while talking to them. If you can, reinforce the skills you have that they can relate to. If you talked to a technical lead, focus on your technical skills. If you talked to a client manager, focus on your communication skills. Remind them of why you are the best candidate for the role. Ensure the emails are sent within a similar time frame. We want all the individuals involved to know you sent them a personal thank you note.

If you made a personal connection to any of the associates in the process a personal letter may be appropriate with emails to the other members. Many times in a panel, a group may be hung on a decision to extend an offer or decline. A personal connection could be the one thing that puts you over the top.
A simpler option is to send a letter or email to the lead recruiter who is your primary point of contact addressing each person in the process and asking the recruiter to send the message to each member of the interview team. That is very appropriate and there is value in your ability to be efficient and be able to develop core relationships.

Overall, a thank you card or email can be taken in a variety of different ways. Some may see this as an extension of a personality that values connections, relationships and network building. Others may see this as a way to compensate for a lack of skill base. If you are confident in your ability to succeed and grow in the role you are applying to, I strongly recommend sending a thank you as an acknowledgement of the time they have taken to review your background and to reinforce your desire to work for this company.

What is you don’t hear back from the interviewer for more than a week. Is it appropriate to call or should you stick to another follow-up email?

Whether you are on the hiring side or the candidate side, the waiting period is always the very trying. If you have gotten through the entire process then it is more difficult.

If you do not have another offer on the table then it is appropriate to wait one week unless the lead recruiter explains that it may take longer. There are many reasons for the extension of a decision including other candidates, budget approval, work approval, background investigations or internal improvement plans pending. Most recruiters at the conclusion of the interview process will provide an estimate of when a decision would be forthcoming. If that time has passed, it is appropriate to call the lead recruiter and request an update. A delay should not be interpreted in a negative way. If your skills and confidence have gotten you this far in the process, there is a strong possibility of selection. During the follow up call be very direct on where you stand (other interviews, financial situation, etc) and try to get a concrete response on when the final decision will be made. If a delay is extended and other opportunities are available, you should be open with the lead recruiter but reinforce that this is your first choice in your career search.

Please use these guidelines as a means of direction as you begin to take the next step in your career. Good luck.

Real Life Excerpts from Resumes…Believe it or Not

Thank you again Electronixwarehouse.com. You are a true measure of sanity and inspiration

RESUME QUOTES
Taken from real resumes and cover letters

1. “I demand a salary commiserate with my extensive experience.”

2. “I have lurnt Word Perfect 6.0 computor and spreasheet progroms.”

3. “Received a plague for Salesperson of the Year.”

4. “Wholly responsible for two (2) failed financial institutions.”

5. “Reason for leaving last job: maturity leave.”

6. “Failed bar exam with relatively high grades.”

7. “It’s best for employers that I not work with people.”

8. “Let’s meet, so you can ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over my experience.”

9. “You will want me to be Head Honcho in no time.”

10. “Am a perfectionist and rarely if ever forget details.”

11. “I was working for my mom until she decided to move.”

12. “Marital status: single. Unmarried. Unengaged. Uninvolved. No commitments.”

13. “I have an excellent track record, although I am not a horse.”

14 “I am loyal to my employer at all costs…. Please feel free to respond to my resume on my office voice mail.”

15. “I have become completely paranoid, trusting completely no one and absolutely nothing.”

16. “My goal is to be a meterologist. But since I possess no training in meteorology, I suppose I should try stock brokerage.”

17. “I procrastinate, especially when the task is unpleasant.”

18. “Personal interests: donating blood. Fourteen gallons so far.”

19. “As indicted, I have over five years of analyzing investments.”

20. “Instrumental in ruining entire operation for a Midwest chain store.”

21. “Note: Please don’t misconstrue my 14 jobs as ‘job-hopping’. I have never quit a job.”

22. “Marital status: often. Children: various.”

23. “Reason for leaving last job: They insisted that all employees get to work by 8:45 am every morning. I couldn’t work under those conditions.”

24. “The company made me a scapegoat, just like my three previous employers.”

25. “Finished eighth in my class of ten.”

26. “References: none. I’ve left a path of destruction behind me.”

Signs That You Work in the ’00’s

I would like to thank the wonderful people at Electronixwarehouse.com for providing this wonderful commentary on the modern workplace. I wish I could take personal credit but I feel this is worth sharing with others. Enjoy!

SIGNS THAT YOU WORK IN THE ’00S

Cleaning up the dining area means getting the fast food bags out of the back seat of your car.

Your reason for not staying in touch with family is that they do not have e-mail addresses.

Keeping up with sports entails adding ESPN’s homepage to your bookmarks.

You have actually faxed your Christmas list to your parents.

Pick up lines now include a reference to liquid assets and capital gains.

You consider 2nd day Air Delivery and Inter-office Mail painfully slow.

You assume any question about whether to valet park or not is rhetorical.

You refer to your dining room table as the flat filing cabinet.

Your idea of being organized is multiple colored post-it notes.

Your grocery list has been on your refrigerator so long some of the products don’t even exist anymore

You lecture the neighborhood kids selling lemonade on ways to improve their process.

You get all excited when it’s Saturday so you can wear sweats to work.

You refer to the tomatoes grown in your garden as “deliverables.”

You find you really need PowerPoint to explain what you do for a living.

You normally eat out of vending machines and at the most expensive restaurant in town within the same week.

You think that “progressing an action plan” and “calendarizing a project” are acceptable English phrases.

You know the people at the airport hotels better than your next-door neighbors.

You ask your friends to “think out of the box” when making Friday night plans.

You think Einstein would have been more effective had he put his ideas into a matrix.

You think a “half-day” means leaving at 5 o’clock.

You study “Dilbert” as a survival manual.

You question the viability of the English language when you find out that Administrative Assistant” means everything from taking shorthand to making sure the deli cuts the fat off your boss’s pastrami sandwich.

You watch stupid idiotic sitcoms at night because you’re too tired to do anything else.

The only fun you have any more is composing your fantasy resignation speech.

You sat at the same desk for 4 years and worked for three different companies.

Your company welcome sign is attached with Velcro.

Your resume is on a diskette in your pocket.

Your company logo on your badge is applied with stick-um.

You order business cards in “half orders” instead of whole boxes.

When someone asks about what you do for a living, you lie.

You get really excited about a 2% pay raise.

You learn about your layoff on CNN.

Your biggest loss from a system crash is your best jokes file.

You sit in a cubicle smaller than your bedroom closet.

Salaries of the members on the Executive Board are higher than all the Third World countries’ annual budgets combined.

You think lunch is just a meeting to which you drive.

It’s dark when you drive to and from work.

Fun is when issues are assigned to someone else.

Communication is something your group is having problems with.

You see a good-looking person and know it is a visitor.

Free food left over from meetings is your main staple.

Weekends are those days your significant other makes you stay home.

Being sick is defined as can’t walk or you’re in the hospital.

Art involves a white board.

You’re already late on the assignment you just got.

You work 200 hours for the $100 bonus check and jubilantly say, “Oh wow, thanks!”

Dilbert cartoons hang outside every cube and are read by your co-workers only.

Your boss’ favorite lines are “when you get a free minute” or “when you’re freed up”

Your boss’ second favorite lines are “this isn’t exactly what we need. It may be what we asked for, but things have changed.”

Vacation is something you rollover to next year, or you try to use up three weeks between Christmas and New Years week.

Your relatives and family describe your job as “works with computers”.

Change is the norm.

Nepotism is encouraged.

The only reason you recognize your kids and friends is because their pictures are hanging in your cube.

You only have makeup for fluorescent lighting

I Am Thankful….

Due to the timing of this segment, it may appear to be a personal spin on Thanksgiving, but the timing is the only similarity from my vantage point.  My personal feelings and my strong family foundation have taught me some very valuable lessons in life and ones I still question such as the success of the Ernest movies.

I digress…

This week I flew to New Jersey and unlike my typical introverted self, I was able to engage in a very nice conversation with a new member of the graduating class of life.  A fresh young lass with wide open eyes and a world in front of him.  It was nice to see ambition, ethics and a bit of shyness.  We all need some of those attributes in our lives.   Wow, I really used the word “lass”

Again I digress….

My father recently had a procedure that will require some therapy so I am playing in-house nurse for a few weeks.  Don’t get me wrong, I am in it for the free meals and the company but it is hard work.  He is making me clean the house, throw out my old books, drive him everywhere and worst of all, sit through episode after episode of Law and Order.

I value my time in my hometown, the house I grew up in and the bedroom I experienced my first life adventures.   The walls are the same tacky blue and the lampshade is covered with NFL team logos including “wait for it” the Houston Oilers…Now you can point out how old it is.   Fortunately the thick red, white and blue carpet has been replaced with wood panel tiles.   As I sit in a room I once thought was filled with spiders, built a lego wall to the ceiling, played nerf basketball with my brother, sorted baseball cards and studied long division, I reflect on the many things I am truly thankful for.   I have an amazing family, quirky but amazing, a strong foundation of friends, my health and a very positive attitude; even if my father is being a pain in the butt.  Then again we can all remember our parents telling us to be good because some day we will be taking care of them.  Karma has a funny way of showing itself.

Did I mention my inate ability to digress….

I try very hard not to watch the news or indulge in very much television or radio, but media is a powerful tool we cannot escape. We are surrounded by conflict, rage, war, death, greed, depression and poverty.   It is a time when there are so many unanswered questions yet we are void of answers.   A time where surrender is an option many have toyed with.  I see this as a time of re-birth; a fresh morning dew on a cool open field. We are all blessed with something more powerful than any known material item; life. The ability to breathe, love, laugh, cry, hug and feel has no value.   It is a priceless work of art that we have created and continue to create with each passing day.

I am thankful for the lives I have touched.
I am thankful for the voices that give me a sense of community and companionship.
I am thankful for the ability to be creative.
I am thankful for each day of life.

What about you???

Survivor: Recruiterville

This season of Survivor promises the most dangerous, unpredictable, cut throat competition you have ever witnessed. The challenges will be more complex, the contestants will stop at nothing for ultimate victory and the reward; more lucrative than any past season. This year’s Survivor will walk away with unconditional job security.

Is the sanctity of life the value we place upon ourselves of those whose lives we affect? We are the bearers of the future lifestyle of each and every candidate we touch. Whether that is through a simple interaction or months of developing relationships. We are a gateway to the ends defining the means.

What is the reward? When is victory found? Some Human Resource philosophers will argue never. As Talent Acquisition Specialists, we are on an endless pursuit. One without a beginning nor an end. Is this continuous circle an invitation to insanity or a calming effect on the track of professional excellence?

As we look around at the ambitious contestants we see signs of anticipation, anxiety, confidence, fear, apprehension and adrenaline. This season, the island will be filled with hunters who will be hunted by their own self-conscious. Prepare for a season of thrills and chills that you will never forget.

Each contestant will begin with a Recruiters Survival Kit which will include the following items:

1) CRM Tool
2) Legal Toolkit
3) Measurement/Metric system
4) Industry News Links
5) Social Networking Tools
6) Cultural and Translation Tools – Global Acquisition
7) A Compass

Challenge #1

Acquire the highest quality talent while reduce operating costs.

Now that should eliminate half the pool of contestants

Challenge #2

Develop a pipeline of talent and build a community of relationships that will enhance future acquisition needs for the next several quarters and years

Challenge #3

Transition from a traditional process orientated office role to a virtual social media global environment

Challenge #4

Develop a series of unique and creative sourcing techniques that take you out of your bubble and provide you with an edge on the competition

Final Challenge

Revolutionize the world of Talent Acquisition. Dare to change the evolutionary scale and set a new standard.

The field is in place and the island of Recruiterville with all its inhabitants are eager to witness the beginning of the elimination process. Can you feel the energy on the island?

Now for the M Night twist: Look in the mirror and look around you…You are a contestant. Welcome to Survivor: Recruiterville.

Strap on your best bandana and cargo pants. This is going to be a bumping ride but what a fun one it will be.

A Time of Discovery

This is a rare moment where I have a title but no subject matter. My words this evening are a compilation of my surroundings, my very optimistic perception of my world and the music that is coming from the very gitty childlike performer on stage right now.

A close friend of mine told me last night about his date insisting I would like this one. I naturally inquired and he said that she was very positive and optimistic like me. I believe in the positive energy that surrounds us but I cannot say definitively I am happy twenty four hours a day. Needless to say I was very fortunate to get such a nice compliment and for my close friends to view me that way.

It is a testimony to my personal evolution and the value I have placed on all the good that has come into my life. It is not enough to see laughter and fulfillment but to feel it in others. It is the true gift that a song, a look, a feel or the feeling you have the first time you meet someone special. It brings us all back to our childhood; a time of discovery.

It is amazing how so much of our emotion is based on the direct exposure of our surroundings. Evenings remind us of loneliness and aging as mornings a reflection of rebirth. Each day is a new cycle of life and with each sunrise a new beginning.

We are blessed with each and every tomorrow that is handed to our spirits.

We thrive on the over-exaggeration of our own lives. Creating a world where we are busier than we really are. What is wrong with doing nothing. Sitting on the beach and watching a sunset, staring into someone’s eyes, watching a candle burn or listening to soft jazz. Is there anything wrong with taking brief moments and letting them pass slowly without any need for reward or recognition.

The reward in the soothing sensation that somehow when you least expect it brings a smile to your face and that smile just lingers on…..

A Decade of Mediocrity

Has the peak of internet innovation reached a halting plateau?

For Al Gore’s sake, we hope not; and for the true inventors of the internet who bestowed the earliest form of this porn sharing, obesity building, obsession magnet almost 55 years ago, we thank you and bow.

http://www.momb.com – The Museum of Modern Betas is a fun directory of new internet junk…I mean sites that will help reinvent modern technology and take us to new and exciting heights. As you funnel through the multitude of sites bottle necking the information superhighway you will notice a developing trend. That trend is a lack of invention.

Photo sharing, Twitter application tools, graphic design, 4D IM applications, event planning, music sharing and friend sharing…oh my.

What I have failed to see is a true innovator. Clearly the war is over. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Google are the Generals in Victory and Apple is the high commanding officer.

With the gaming specialists, internet software developers, modulation application gurus and other twelve year old prodigies out there I am having trouble grasping the last of ingenuity on the internet front. We are a generation flowered in confusion and genius. We welcome challenge with open arms and have the technology to find a single human being among 6.3 billion. The industrial age was a time of invention. The internet age is the rise of the second invention but my fear is that it is over.

We developed it all. The only thing left is to let greed and competition take over and make tweaks and modifications to the current existing tools until we are so over-saturated that we will have an internet depression.

The question now is when. When will the internet be so saturated with junk that it will metaphorically explode into a pool of green slime that will cover us all.

I may be the first to say this, but I have been slimmed.

In the immortal mission of Blastoffnetwork.com: We will be the next Amway.

I hope the next generation of internet leaders take a long look at what has become of the greatest invention in modern mankind and stop the insanity now. It needs to breath and grow.

The internet is becoming less Arnold and more Cartman.

Help stop the bleeding…Don’t be afraid to invent greatness. Be a leader and set the standard.
Don’t look for immediate results but become the future of this most powerful communications tool.