“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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.