Category

Recruitment

5 ways to manage your on-line image…..BEFORE you hit the job market

By | Recruitment

online-profileIn the recruitment industry, it is common knowledge that Consultants will Google you, look at your social media presence – including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. This is not new and most hiring managers will do this at some stage in the process to gain a broader understanding of who you are and to do some fact checking. This begs the question – what does your social media profile say about you?

Are you presenting a positive and professional image consistently? Do you have a Facebook page? If you do, is it an open page? Are you even aware of your privacy settings and what the general public can see or not see? Are you “liking” controversial Facebook pages that could be a questionable culture fit for a new employer? Are you having heated debates on Twitter or posting contentious photos of your weekends out on the town?

If you are about to commence your job search, it’s a good time to consider and potentially clean up your online profile to make sure it is consistent with the image you want to project.

Here are 5 ways to take a proactive approach to manage on your online profile:

1.    Monitor

You can use monitoring sites such as Reppler, which give an overview of how others may perceive your online brand.  See below. In 2 minutes it gave my Social Media Image Score 86 by analysing my posts and posts by others in my network showing my most commonly used words. It presents a fascinating snapshot of communication, commonality and language tone.

Reppler

 

You can also Google yourself regularly to see what is coming up under content and images. Are there any inappropriate comments, images or tags that are linked to you? Is there any content you weren’t aware of through testimonials you may have made, groups you may have signed up for? I remember finding someone claiming I was a client of theirs in the past, when in fact I hadn’t ever engaged their services. It’s best to be on the front foot and know what is available on-line about you.

 2.    Privacy

There are just some things that are best kept private so check your privacy settings, especially on Facebook. Why have an open page? Restricting access and managing settings is important to maintain control over what is being put up on your page.  Test it! You can also be notified of potential risks and issues via monitoring sites – it’s about being aware and maintaining control.

3. Creation

Ask yourself how do you want to be seen? What is the professional image you want to be representing and how do you create this? This means as well as controlling what you don’t want the public to see, you can also control what you do want them to see.  To be consistent with this image, you can like pages that represent your professional interests, you can follow people you admire, join groups and build a LinkedIn profile that reflects your key strengths and expertise.

4. Consistency

It is quite common for us to view resumes and then find that LinkedIn profiles don’t match in terms of dates and even employers eg: they are jobs missing altogether. All your information needs to be consistent across platforms because otherwise the obvious question is which one is correct, why have details been omitted and why is the information different? There may be a logical and fair explanation – but you may also not get the opportunity to present your case. Tell the same story consistently.

5. Care

Ultimately it is your responsibility to take care in what you do and say on social media. Your professional reputation can certainly be at risk if you aren’t paying attention and consideration with what you put into cyberspace.  Also consider that your employment status might be on your Facebook page and this in turn can have a direct impact on your employer’s brand depending on what you are posting and liking. I certainly know of cases where employees have been reprimanded in line with corporate social media policies when their personal content on Facebook has been questionable.

Your professional image extends far beyond the people in your immediate network and the people you met face to face today. Your professional profile exists on-line and grows every day – sometimes without your knowledge.

Take control, manage your online image and ask yourself what would you think of this person? Would you hire them? Would you like them in your team? Is your profile consistent across platforms? These are the questions that I guarantee are being asked when potential employers do some fact checking of their own. Think about it – the image you portray is an important message you send to the external world and impressions can be made instantly. Be ahead of the game and take steps to ensure the impression you are creating is positive one.

How to deal with job-hunting rejection

By | Career, Confidence, Recruitment

Last week my article “3 ways to nail a job interview” was published by Women’s Agenda.

24 hours later I received an email from a frustrated job seeker who after being made redundant is struggling with the rejection of job seeking.  She is finding it increasingly difficult to stay confident and positive.

She writes:

“It’s starting to get pretty tough to persevere. I’m confident in my ability, I know why my skills outweigh my limitations and I bring personality in spades, but the reality is that job hunting is darn hard work and rejection is difficult to endure. Let’s talk about that.”

I have no doubt that “Samantha” isn’t alone. Finding a new job, let alone your perfect job, is hard. It is a full time commitment that requires research, preparation, networking, building relationships, investment, time and fortitude. It also often means rejection, frustration and disappointment.

When you are struggling to stay positive, how do you keep on going?

  1. Focus – do you have a clear career plan? Make sure you reflect on what you enjoy doing, what you are good at as well as aspects of previous jobs and cultures you haven’t enjoyed. Getting clear on your desire and creating a vision of where you ultimately want to be in your career will keep you focused and inspired when the going gets tough. Look at all your options realistically, what’s required and what action you can take right now to get one step closer.
  2. Optimism – the proverb ‘this too shall pass’ might sound flippant right now when you are constantly receiving “thanks, but no thanks” letters.  However, this is a moment in time that you can find positives in.  Who have you met on this journey? What extra time has this created in your schedule to do the things you love, that when working a 5 day week you couldn’t seem to fit in? There are always silver linings – you just need to be looking for them.
  3. Get comfortable being uncomfortable – this is one of the biggest discoveries that set successful people apart.  When you are uncomfortable you are learning and doing something different is more likely to generate a different result. If you keep doing what you have always done you will always get what you have always got. Try different things! If you are just applying for jobs on Seek, try something else – update your LinkedIn profile, connect with new people or ask someone who is doing the job you want out for a coffee.
  4. Feedback – gaining real and honest feedback about why you didn’t win a job is extremely helpful.  Most of the time you are simply told, “there was a more experienced candidate” or “we went with someone else” – nothing that is going to help your interview performance next time around that’s for sure. Asking for feedback is tricky. It requires you to be gracious and open to constructive criticism. The golden rule is never get defensive. This will ensure an automatic shut down from the other person and there goes your chances of finding out honest and real information that will help next time around. Be courageous, ask the question and make the other person feel comfortable and safe to give you this information honestly.
  5. Call in an expert – still getting nowhere? Just like professional athletes have coaches to help achieve their ultimate goals, consider paying an expert to help achieve yours. An expert in this area can assess your resume, critique your cover letter or role-play an interview with you. When you are paying someone for a service you can expect to get the honest answers you are seeking.
  6. Persistence – the ability to press on when you feel like quitting will set you apart in a competitive market. You could be just one more application away from winning your next job. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Getting the result you are after means taking action. More action. Consistently. If you don’t – nothing will change. Keep your focus on the overall plan and what you want – this will help keep you on track.

Finding a new job can be “terrifying” and sometimes all the research, preparation plus your new outfit and positive attitude still won’t get you across the line. Try not to take it personally and don’t let rejection get the better of you. Keep going! See the opportunity to practice, learn and improve. The right opportunity is out there for you. Keep focused on your ultimate goal and remember these experiences build character!

3 ways to nail a job interview

By | Recruitment

Nail the job interviewThe holidays are over, the phone is ringing and the LinkedIn requests are coming in thick and fast as many individuals put the wheels in motion to achieve their New Year resolution to find a new job. It happens every year without fail that January and February become a peak period for candidate activity – conversations, resumes and interviews with those determined to find their dream job in 2014.

Actually winning a job interview is hard enough with the volume of applications received, providing significant competition for roles across the majority of sectors.  Even some of the most qualified candidates on paper, still struggle at the interview stage due to lack of preparation, and not providing specific  examples.

Here are 3 things you can take on board right now to help put your best foot forward:

1.    Don’t be a robot, be yourself

I know what you’re thinking – that’s it? I don’t need to prepare for being me. I’ll just rock up and be myself and that will be enough. Wrong! The majority of people attending an interview are nervous (understandably) and have actually over-rehearsed so much that they end up presenting as a cookie cut-out of themselves  – robotic in facial expressions and stiff in their conversational style.  Relax! Beyond ensuring you have the actual competencies to do the role, interviewers often hire people they like the most.  So while being polished and professional is important, you need to demonstrate warmth, build rapport, find that common ground and always be genuine.  If you are going to be hired, remember you need to fit the culture ie: we like you enough to spend a 40-hour week with you! A candidate I interviewed last year, arrived out of breath, covered in sweat and had just split his pants on the way to the interview. It was a great conversation starter and he used the situation to demonstrate his humour and candid nature!

2. Ooze assurance, lose the ego

Confidence is a sure-fire way to leave a lasting impression – when it is delivered with humility, not arrogance.  Over the years, I have lost count of the number of people waltzing into an interview with their nose in the air, believing they don’t need to answer these ‘ridiculous’ questions because of their experience, status or who they might be. We aren’t interested. Really.

Employers want to hire people who can positively influence others, who are confident in their skills and abilities, demonstrate values based behaviour and who are positive to be around. An arrogant, pretentious or superior demeanour have no place in an interview situation.

To the guy who claimed to be personal friends with Gina Reinhardt while interviewing for a role in the mining sector – it didn’t impress, was of zero relevance and didn’t demonstrate actual competency to perform the role.

If you are good enough to do the role, use real examples and tell specific stories that demonstrate your achievements.  We want to know what was the situation, what did you do and what was the outcome?  Keep your answers succinct based on facts and figures….your referees will back up your claims and will tell us how wonderful you are.

3. Your truth & buzz

Don’t lie and tell me what you think I want to hear.  I want to know about you, your story, your drivers, what makes you leap out of bed in the morning and enables you to thrive?

This process involves easily being able to articulate why you want this role and why you want to work for this organisation, including why I should employ you. Inspire me! Tell me about jobs you have loved, leaders that have brought out the best in you, where you have felt stifled and what factors would make you want to flee.  Motivation is at the core of everything. When your rational and emotional motivators are satisfied, you will perform, feel ultimate job satisfaction and stay!

The interview is a two-way street where you need to be true to yourself and recognise what you need out of the employment relationship.  It’s just as important that you find the right job, culture and leader for you.  Being steadfast on ‘winning’ the interview rather than really listening and conversing to find out if this is the right move, could see you succeeding in the process, but ultimately losing sight of your bigger picture career goals and job satisfaction.

Leave the robotics and exaggerated self at home, breathe, smile and come in feeling positive, let’s get to know each other and discover whether this is a true match for all parties.

Offer rejected? 8 ways to increase your acceptance rate

By | Recruitment, Results

 

offer rejectedRecruiting successfully is not easy.  It can be time consuming, expensive, emotional, distracting from core business activities and ultimately hard work.  So imagine after weeks and weeks of searching, screening, calls, correspondence, interviews, follow-ups and difficult decision making, you finally decide to offer your preferred candidate.  You’re excited and relieved.  A decision has finally been made. You ring, make the offer, send out the paperwork and wait. 24 hours, 48 hours – why haven’t you heard? Where is their signed contract?

It is that moment when your candidate – the one that was meant to be starting in 4 weeks, calls (or worse sends an email or text) to say they are declining your offer. What? Where did it go wrong? It is an extremely frustrating situation as suddenly you’re back at the start of the process after months of hard work.  Now it’s time to back track, re-advertise or maybe try to re-engage the rejected short list.  How can you best avoid this situation altogether and increase your chances of an offer acceptance?

1. Employer value proposition – are you easily able to articulate why your company and this opportunity may appeal to potential candidates? Be clear on what the selling points are; describe the culture, career paths and opportunities.  Explain what top performance looks like and give examples of the values that people abide by. Competition for talent is always going to be there, no matter what the market conditions are, so make sure you can articulate your culture in an honest and compelling way.

2. Counter offer investigation – from the very first interview, check reasons for leaving their current employment. Don’t ask only once, try two or three times throughout the interview to ensure you are getting the REAL reason for leaving.  Are they fishing in the market for a higher salary to take to their boss to get their own pay increase? Also look for patterns of behaviour – you will often find that people consistently leave positions for similar reasons, so make sure your opportunity doesn’t fall into this similar category.

3. Salary & benefits – salary may not rate as the number one reason for taking another job these days.  In fact, the decision is usually more about culture, leadership and growth opportunities.  However, if the financial arrangements are too far below a candidate’s current situation, you are at risk of them declining your offer. Make sure this conversation is not left to the last minute and then realising that there is a problem.

4. Real motivation – one of the most important aspects to gain from an interview is someone’s motivation. This covers both emotional (challenge, job security etc) and rational (money, job title etc) motivators.  If your opportunity can’t satisfy both these aspects for a candidate, you are at high risk of them declining an eventual offer of employment or being successfully counter-offered. Don’t forget leaving or staying is primarily an emotional decision.

5. Job pipeline – how active is this candidate in the market? Do they have lots of interviews, have they just commenced or are they close to an offer of employment with someone else? You don’t need intimate details and of course this could be inappropriate to ask, but from where you stand, you need to know.  Don’t be left in the dark about their other activity in the job market to avoid being pipped at the post.

6. Trial close – don’t wait until the end of the process before making the only formal offer of employment. After a second interview, if you feel you are getting close to making an offer, try using a hypothetical.  “Hypothetically, if I offered you the role today, what would you say?” The beauty of this question is it will bring any hesitation or concerns to fore pretty quickly and addressing these before a formal offer, increases your chances of an acceptance.

7.Verbal offer – if possible, don’t send out a full contract or letter of employment until you have verbal acceptance.  Keep control of the process and don’t give the opportunity to played off with a current employer and enter a bidding war.

8. Resignation management – resigning can be a difficult process, especially if the candidate has a good relationship with their direct supervisor.  Talk to the candidate about when they think they might resign. Have they considered how they will approach it? Sharing a war story or giving some friendly advice at this stage can take some pressure off the candidate and give them confidence to deliver the news.  Always make sure the candidate rings you once they have resigned so you can be sure they are on board.

I will never forget the professional services firm who sent out a bottle of champagne with an offer of employment, only for it not to be signed and the candidate joined a competitor organisation!  Never ever celebrate a new hire until the ink is dry on the contract and they have resigned.

Be confident, in control and clear throughout the hiring process.  This will ensure all parties are on the same page before any contracts are drafted and welcome emails sent.  Engaging the right talent from the very start will save embarrassment, frustration and ultimately re-work.

 

Are you struggling to find and hire the right people? At nicoleunderwood we specialise in executive search, recruitment and retention strategies. Contact us here to discuss how we can assist in finding and keeping the right talent for your organisation. 

 

STOP! Why you shouldn’t make a counter offer

By | Recruitment, Results, Retention

downloadIn the current economic climate – just about every candidate we make an offer of employment to is being counter-offered by their current employer.  This enticement to stay takes many forms including more money, job title change, better projects, company cars, larger offices, bonus offers and extended leave.  The list goes on and on. But stop right there. Don’t do it. Let me tell you why.

They don’t work. They never have. They never will.

An employee who hands you their resignation has already emotionally left the building. They made a decision some time ago that the role, position, company, culture or leadership was not for them. Whatever those reasons may be. Let them go.

Your reasons for making a counter-offer probably feel valid including:

(a)  It is easier to get them to stay than to even think about the time, cost and effort in trying to recruit and replace them.

(b)  You don’t want to deal with the unpleasantness of telling the rest of the team. It will hurt the morale.

(c)  They are a top performer and you can’t possibly continue without them. (Rubbish! Everyone is replaceable).

(d)  It’s a quick fix – you need time to plan how you are going to deal with this

(e)  It’s cheaper to pay them $10K more vs. time lost in productivity, clients, training and replacement costs

All valid. I get it. I’ve been there.  The first time one of my staff resigned, I was in my early 20’s and invincible….ha! I had to go to the coffee shop to pull myself together and work out my ‘strategy’ on how I was going to keep her.  I tried more money, I tried a change of duties, a change of title…anything, please don’t go.  My attempts were clearly unsuccessful.  It wasn’t about me. It was about her – her career ambition and her desire that we were unable to fulfill at the time.

It is that immediate, but, band-aid attempt to keep someone. We’ve all done it.

Once someone has resigned, there are genuine reasons and needs that are going to be met elsewhere. You are prolonging the inevitable pain that will be felt by both of you over the next 6 months if you do go down the counter-offer path and they accept.

To the company last month that tried offering more money; to the company the month before who offered a bonus plan on the largest account and to the company who said they would finally come through with the company car they had promised a year ago.  It’s too late. Let them go. Counter-offers don’t work.

Next time someone hands you his or her resignation, accept it with grace. This is business – don’t use guilt or persuasion. Stay professional and listen to their feedback – is there anything you could have done differently? Yes? Great – learn it for next time.  Instead, implemented “stay strategies” that will retain your remaining performers.

Salli Tanner who works with me now is a great example of this strategy working effectively.  Early in 2010, Salli worked for me in another organisation, when she resigned. I was sad to be losing her as a valuable member of my team, but I accepted the move being the right one for her and her career at the time. As much as I didn’t want her to leave, I genuinely wished her well and joked, “You never know where we might work together again in the future!” The strategy does work.

Sure, you can be disappointed that someone is leaving, but acknowledging their contribution and wishing them well will go a long way in a market where people talk and employer brand awareness is critical for future hiring. See the opportunity to improve your retention plans, gain some constructive feedback and always leave the employment relationship on a positive note.

 

Have you been conned? 5 ways to avoid a bad hire!

By | Recruitment

How many times have you hired a dud? How many times have you kicked yourself for not following your gut and made a poor recruitment decision? Was it that they were 5 minutes late for their interview, did they have a sweaty handshake, were they reluctant to provide relevant referees or was it that unexplained gap in their CV when they were taking a ‘career break’?

After a recent conversation with an employer, they told me about a senior executive they had to let go after they failed to deliver the agreed outcomes and how their dictatorial leadership style nearly destroyed the organisation’s culture.  I was curious – how did you hire this candidate in the first place? Where did the recruitment process go wrong? It seems it was just one mistake after another.

Here are my 5 key tips to avoid making a decision you may regret:

1.     First impressions

There’s a lot to be said about first impressions.  Tell me, was the cover letter a generic template? Did they address your name and title correctly? Did you receive their application within 5 minutes of you posting the vacancy online? What about their LinkedIn profile? Don’t ignore first impressions – no matter how great their experience and skills appear on paper.  Sure, sometimes the right candidate might be late for your interview for a genuine reason and they may apply immediately on-line due to being in the right place at the right time. However and this is a big however, when things don’t start adding up or you have a ‘feeling’ – stop, take a look back and you may see a pattern of question marks or incidents that might make you reconsider the consistency and quality of the applicant.

2.     Interview attire

I’ve written previously is the business suit dead? In my experience, candidates who are making the effort and really going all out to impress – which often include wearing a suit, do tend to be the ones who make it to a shortlist. Recently, I was recruiting a Business Development Manager and every male applicant I interviewed wore a full matching suit and tie. In the past, when I have had candidates come to interview for executive roles in more informal attire and I have ignored this or given them a ‘pass’, it seems that they then slip up later in the process. Don’t ignore first impressions – they count.

3.     Gut feeling

You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach that is screaming something is not quite right here? Don’t ignore it. Don’t bury it, flush it out.  If you can’t identify exactly what it is, my advice is having another meeting in a more casual environment when someone is more likely to relax and be themselves. You can take someone else with you from the organisation for a second opinion or you may wish to ask them some scenario questions such as what would you do in the first 30 days if you win this job? Finally, you can conduct reference checking.  End of the day, if you can’t qualify what you feel in your gut, my advice is don’t hire because when something eventually doesn’t go to plan or pan out, you will kick yourself for not listening to your intuition.

4.     Referees

This is where a lot of recruitment processes fail.  You only have to look at serial applicants or non-performers who are continually re-hired – how did that happen? They weren’t reference checked at all or they were referenced with the wrong people.  Speaking to the right referee is a skill and then asking the right questions to get the answers you are after can be the difference between hiring a star vs. hiring a dud.  Are you accepting mobile phone numbers? Are you qualifying the person is who they say they are? Or are you just asking closed questions and fact checking? Don’t delegate this task as an administrative process as even the best con man, who can blitz an interview, can be “found out” at this stage.

5.     Theory vs. examples

Throughout the interview, make sure you are listening for real examples.  These are situations and examples the candidate has been in where they can easily describe the situation, what they did and what the outcome was.  If they are regurgitating theory or telling you what they would do vs what they have actually done – you should immediately visualise a neon warning sign flashing above their head.  When someone is out of their depth and hasn’t performed the tasks or been in the situations before, they won’t be able to be specific. If you can’t visualise the example – keep probing and get very specific.

Hiring a dud is an expensive, painful and emotional mistake. Getting the recruitment decision wrong can impact culture, destroy morale and consume your time, thoughts and energy.  The devils in the detail! Don’t short-cut processes just because you know someone who would be perfect or they have worked for some high profile brands, so they must be good. Rubbish. Running a thorough, consistent and vigorous process where you listen to facts, intuition and behaviours could save you a lot of time, heartache and pain.  Don’t ignore the warning signs…..there are red flags, there always are, you just need to know where to look.

7 Tips to Write a Cracker Cover Letter

By | Recruitment, Results

There is lots of competition for jobs right now. On average, we receive 150 applications per vacancy. There are fewer opportunities available and people are still looking to progress their careers. There is great talent in the market; it’s a good time to hire.

With such a high volume of applications and less than 5% being chosen for interview, it is absolutely critical that your cover letter stands out from the crowd.

It is surprisingly rare to read a cover letter that gets straight to the point, engages me or gives me a wow.  Why is that? I believe that the majority of applicants are over-thinking it, making it too formal and are talking more about themselves rather than about the company, role and opportunity.

What I’m looking for:

  1. Brief & Succinct – one page is sufficient.  You should be able to address the main points in a concise manner that gets straight to the point. When competition is strong, you had better get to the good stuff and quick!
  2. Skills & Experience – this makes it easy for the reader to make an immediate link and match as to why you are suitable for the role and they will keep reading. For example, I have a management degree and 10 years work experience in this particular industry. I’m looking for quick facts.
  3. Motivation – be clear on why you are applying for this job and not every other job advertised.  This motivation for applying can be the make or break reason for getting into the yes or no pile! It is the most essential piece of information I am looking for in a cover letter or when I ring someone to discuss their application – why were you motivated to apply for this job?
  4. Wow – state something upfront that will give the reader a WOW feeling about why you have applied. If there is a common interest, link or value match, it can be an instant rapport winner to get you in front. A letter I received last week, stated that they had applied for the role because this organisation had inspired them 10 years earlier to kick start their career in the health sector and major in health management with their MBA. It gave me an instant wow.
  5. Get Creative – don’t send me a tea bag and tell me to grab a cup of tea while I read your CV (a very old and cheesy gimmick in my opinion), but think about how your letter can stand out. Colour, a relevant graphic, a quote you live by, mention something about the organisation or industry that inspires you.
  6. Why them – the story you should tell is why you’re interested in this company and this particular role (it’s all about them).  Phrase your letter in terms of how you can help them and what you can bring to the role rather than just what’s in it for you and your career.
  7. Why you – in a letter you can reveal more about your personality, values and motivation (not so easy to do in a resume, which is more factual). Be clear on how you can contribute and potentially solve the organisation’s problems or challenges.

Remember 95% of applicants are being rejected due to poor cover letters and resumes including incorrect spelling, generic “to whom it may concern”, long winded, lengthy and irrelevant information that doesn’t demonstrate any motivation for the role. Never use a standard cover letter that lacks specific detail related to this company and this role – we can spot them a mile away and it is an automatic indication of laziness and a genuine lack of interest.

If you really want to get to the front of the line – simple, honest and genuine communication that represents motivation, careful thought and a unique proposition. A cracker cover letters involves being real, telling a story and demonstrating desire. Come on …. give me a WOW!

 

 

 

Is the business suit dead?……what to wear to a job interview

By | Recruitment

Since when is it okay to wear blue jeans to a job interview?

This was the question posed by a client this week as he shook his head in disbelief that a candidate could think that this was in some way acceptable attire for a first job interview. Especially for a senior role paying in the vicinity of $150K….I had to agree.

I’ve come a long way from working at Recruitment Solutions in the late 90’s when women were “not allowed” to wear pants, only skirts and my Nazi dress code of years gone by, where my female staff had to wear pantyhose with skirts…BUT blue jeans? Really? At what point, when you are standing in front of your wardrobe did you think, “wow these are my going out jeans and they are sure to win the client over”?

Now – don’t be fooled into thinking that clients aren’t assessing your dress choices.  Don’t think that it’s only your skills and experience that will speak for themselves and win you the job.  It’s the whole package – were you on time, did you have a firm handshake, was your body language confident and did you smile? Trust me when I say these are all things that are discussed with a client after you leave your interview and sometimes in great detail!

Nearly 15 years ago when I started in the recruitment industry, it was part of our standard spiel that all candidates were asked to wear a matching suit to a client interview – both females and males. Regardless of what type of role, level or industry it was just standard procedure to tell candidates this was our expectation.  It was remarkable the lengths some candidates went to, in order to meet this brief and create a great first impression.

Other standard protocols include not putting your wallet, keys, mobile phone etc on the table in front of the interviewer, always shake the interviewers hand, sit up straight in your chair, turn your phone off, maintain eye contact etc …..it’s all just common sense isn’t it?

Well, sadly, no it isn’t.

It seems that today is no different than 15 years ago …… dress to impress people! When I said this to a candidate last month after she came to my interview more casually dressed in a flowing top and tight pants – I thought she would understand.  My assumption that she earns close to $200K and works in a corporate environment, she would interpret “dress to impress” the way I would. It turns out a new Sass & Bide trendy top and blue jeans were her interpretation of impressive. So, it begs the question, is wearing a matching business suit to a job interview dead?

I took a quick survey of the last 20 candidates I have interviewed and only 1 male wore a full matching suit and tie and no females at all wore a matching suit.

So it seems, wearing a full matching business suit is a dying trend. It’s not a pre-requisite for a job interview regardless of industry, position or level.  BUT – and this is a big BUT, you still need to be presentable, neat, tidy, professional and take care in your presentation choices.  The evidence suggests that men are choosing suit pants and open neck shirts and women are wearing tailored dresses or corporate outfits with a modern edge rather than a conservative black matching suit.

Bottom line – first impressions count and what you wear is an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

I’m curious….what would you wear to a job interview? Or what are some of the worst outfit choices you have seen?

5 ways to crack the job market when “you don’t have industry experience”

By | Recruitment

One of the biggest bugbears by job seekers is not winning an interview because they don’t have the industry experience for the role they have applied for.  It seems that every job ad wants ‘industry experience’ – you must have worked in the wine industry or have banking or financial services experience.  This criteria and restriction make it pretty hard for you to join new industries or escape the one you may have a long-standing career in.

Last week during a career coaching session, I was asked what advice I had to break through this. How can I get the attention of the hiring manager when I don’t have the industry or specific job-title experience?

I’ll admit this is hard – especially when the person doing the recruitment is following a strict process, looking for specific criteria and they are purely assessing applications and resumes based on this.  However, any effective business leader knows that the best hires are the ones that match the culture and value of organisation – this is the talent that performs and stays long term.  Conversely, someone with years of experience in a particular industry does not guarantee job performance or success.

My tips to break through this frustrating cycle:

  1. Phone call – ring before you apply! Especially if you feel that your resume is not going to immediately show a match between your experience and the role.  This is an opportunity to sell yourself and make a good impression over the phone, before they see your resume and make an immediate “no” assessment.  I have often interviewed candidates who seem a bit ‘left field’ for a role, purely based on the impression they gave over the phone. Remember confidence, passion and effective communication goes along way to opening a door.
  2. Talk to the direct report – often the person running the recruitment is not the technical expert for the position and is purely following a process.  If there is an opportunity to connect with the direct report and speak to them about the role, it may give you an advantage.  You are potentially able to engage the attention of the person who has the vested interest in getting the right person. This way they will be on the look out for your details or at least may ask the recruitment team about your application.
  3. Write a killer cover letter – the best way to get into the “maybe” pile or even better yet the “yes” pile, is to get your cover letter noticed. Most cover letters suck. Really – they are bad to awful.  Applicants tend to say I am excited to apply for this role and then rehash their resume details. Boring! The best cover letters will be SPECIFIC as to why you have applied for THIS role and what interests you about the company.  It is also the only opportunity you have to demonstrate transferable skills and competencies if you don’t have industry experience – don’t waste this opportunity! Finally – be clear in your motivation.  Don’t say what’s in it for you eg: career progression, new challenge, different industry.  Say what’s in for them to have you on their team?
  4. Resume – see 10 ways to get your CV noticed.  The best resumes have a clean font, 3-5 pages, facts and figures minus personal opinions and have great detail about companies worked for and achievements.  If you don’t have industry experience – you need to demonstrate similarities such as size of companies, clients you have worked with, deals you have negotiated or projects you have managed.  Keep linking your standout competencies to show transferable skills.
  5. Persistence – you have to keep trying to make progress.  It is unlikely someone is going to tap you on the shoulder and say hey you’re fabulous for this role, even though you have never worked in this industry! I remember assisting a candidate who was determined to work in the not-for-profit sector, even though she had no experience in the field. Her career spanned many years across banking and financial services, but she had a burning desire to make the leap into this new industry.  After several applications, she won a role when she was able to demonstrate her transferable competencies – the clincher though was her motivation, values and passion that won her the role, not the years of experience in the same industry.

What can often be a frustrating experience in the journey towards a new opportunity or new career path, needs to be seen as a challenge to become more creative! Seize the chance to review your skills and competencies and then communicate your motivation succinctly to give yourself the best possible chance.

 

 

Do your interviews stink? 10 ways to turn pro

By | Attraction, Recruitment

This week I met with a promising new client. They have a handful of vacancies, one position that has been vacant for 3 months and another that they have interviewed 30 candidates for (yes, face to face) and still haven’t found the right candidate. Hmmmm…. Houston we have a problem!

The managers are pulling their hair out as it is taking too long to find and appoint talent and the HR team is frustrated that the leaders aren’t taking more ownership of the process.  Clearly what they are currently doing is not working. They need to change and fast! It got me thinking about the basics of interviewing.

1. Prepare – have you read their resume prior to the candidate walking in the door? I remember years ago a client asked one of my consultants after an interview why the candidate was walking with a limp.  On the resume it detailed his involvement in the Paralympics after having his leg amputated in an accident years earlier. It could have been an awkward moment if the client had asked the candidate directly or worse still…..made a joke about it! Reading all details on a resume allows you to be on the front foot (pardon the pun) and demonstrates to the candidate that you are interested in their background and are taking the process seriously.

2. Welcome – make sure the receptionist knows who will be arriving and at what time so the candidate can be greeted in a professional manner.  I had a meeting the other week and within 3 seconds of walking in, the receptionist got up from her desk walked around to greet me by name and took me straight into a meeting room where I was offered tea, coffee or water. Wow! What a welcome. Simple, but so effective. I was immediately impressed.  Also consider where you will be interviewing and make sure the environment is creating a great first impression, not like the other week when I observed dirty coffee cups from the last interview still on the desk!

3. Timing – a structured behavioural based interview should take 45 minutes to an hour. However, depending on the role and how many people are on an interview panel, interviews can blow out past this allocated time. Make sure you either stick to the schedule or have a fudge factor between candidates. Don’t make the mistake one large company made with one of my friends when his interview went over and on his way out he met the other candidate short listed for the role. He just happened to be an old colleague he had only spoken to days earlier for advice on the role! Awkward!

4. Icebreakers – I have observed many client interviews and it seems one of the hardest parts for people who don’t interview that often are the first 30 seconds to a minute. I have seen full silence where no one knows what to say through to immediate drilling of candidates with a barrage of questions.  We need a warm up folks! No matter how experienced a candidate is, there is always going to be nerves, so having some small talk from reception to the meeting room is essential before settling into more of the formalities of the process.

5. 1st question – I know most inexperienced interviewers tend to run a less structured interview and that can be okay, but one word of advice, have your first question ready.  Go for something open and general to get things moving for the candidate. I recommend so tell me about your current work situation or how is that you are in front of us today?

6. Technique – we all have our own styles and way of asking and extracting information, so when you get to the end of the hour to ensure you have got all the information you were after, have three areas to investigate – skills and experience (years, industry, qualifications, tasks), competencies (learned behaviors eg: communication, analytical skills) and finally motivation (rational and emotional) around why this job? Otherwise you risk an hour of chatting and getting off track, the result being that you can’t accurately assess the candidate’s suitability.

7. Close – winding up the discussion is just as important as the welcome. Thanking the candidate for their time, asking if they have any further questions and then telling them what the next steps will be in the process. I also like walking them to the door / lift, shaking their hand and encouraging them to call within the agreed timeframe.  This leaves a lasting impression.

8. Summary/rating /concerns – once the candidate leaves, don’t answer the phone, check your emails or race off to your next meeting, take 10 minutes to write down your thoughts. Do a pros and cons list. What could this candidate bring to your business, what answers did they rate highly on? On the flip side, where are there still question marks that need to be flushed out. Give them an overall rating to compare with other candidates.

9. Response & speed – you know the biggest gripe from job seekers is that companies don’t get back to them.  If you are going to the effort of interviewing someone face to face, then you should give them the courtesy of ringing them and telling them verbally why they didn’t get the job. Honesty and respect go a long way in building your reputation as an employer of choice. Speed is also another crucial ingredient to a successful interview process.  Don’t wait 4 weeks to get back to people – trust me they will have forgotten you by then and probably taken a more attractive offer.  Ask yourself what your expectations would be? 7 days at a maximum.

10. Feedback – don’t take the wimps way out and say “Sorry; there was a more suitable candidate.” No kidding!! That’s why you’re not offering them the job. But specifically what did that candidate demonstrate more effectively or what was missing? It is extremely rare for someone to get defensive if the feedback is delivered in an honest, genuine and specific manner. After all, anything that you can offer them to improve their chances next time will be appreciated.

Some of you may ask, “Why do all this if we don’t like the candidate and we know we aren’t going to hire them. Why go to all this effort?” One answer – market reputation.   As much as you might find it easy to hire one person today, there is still a skills shortage and depending on roles, availability, timing or competition you might just find yourself in a situation of trying to attract talent to your organisation and role.  It is still very much a two-way street in the employment market, so do your best to ensure the candidate leaves wanting the job, wanting to join the team and with an overall positive impression of their dealings and interaction with you and your company.

Interviewing is a skill.  It takes time, practice and preparation to ensure it is an effective exercise that achieves the end result of assessing a candidate’s suitability for your vacancy.

Want your team to get the edge on interviewing techniques? Speak to Nicole about workshops and coaching programs here.