Remarkably Easy and Effective Networking Advice

Today is my birthday. I had another topic in mind but the occasion has forced my hand and today I want to talk a little bit about networking. A little over a month ago I wrote this post, Are you prepared for a career disaster?. It dealt with the situation of being laid off and your level of preparedness. Now, a big portion of that is networking. Who you know is often just as valuable as what you know or how well you interview. So what does career disasters and my birthday have in common? LinkedIn. In an attempt to have a robust profile I have filled out every available line. I have a picture, a link to this blog, every job I have had in my professional career, my degree and yes, my birthday. Starting last night around 7pm I started receiving emails from LinkedIn, notifying me that people were sending me messages.

Now this is entirely out of the ordinary, I am a recruiter after all. However, the frequency at which I am receiving these emails and the well wishes make it obvious, it is in fact well wishes for my birthday. Another thing is very obvious to me as well, I am going to receive a lot of these. Being a recruiter as well as a blogger, social media is very important to me. As such, I have built a decently large network. I have just under 9,000 first degree connections on LinkedIn and another 4,200 hundred followers on twitter. While I don’t expect too much in terms of birthday wishes from twitter, my expectation is a steady stream of messages filling my inbox all day through LinkedIn.

Now, I happen to love LinkedIn. It’s a great way to connect, learn about new topics and share information. One of the many great things LinkedIn does is it literally holds your hand through a variety of human interactions. What I mean by that is look at the top right portion of your screen on the LinkedIn homepage. There are 15 reminders up there every single day. They remind you when it is someone’s birthday or when they have an anniversary at an employer or when they switch jobs.

reminder

I once listened to a speaker talk about relationship building. In this talk, the speaker said that every morning he would open the paper and look in a section that chronicled local people’s promotions, new jobs and career moves. He would look for the people he knew and he would write each of them a hand written letter of congratulations regarding the significant career event. Three things came to mind when as I listened to this speech. The first was, wow, what a kind gesture that also happens to seem like a pretty smart idea. The second was, man, that seems like a ton of work. The third was, what is a newspaper? Just kidding, but seriously, in a vacuum, what a wonderful concept.

Now the downside to that plan is that it would be a ton of work. Enter LinkedIn. Because LinkedIn gives you reminders every single day about the happening s in your network and provides you several links that enable various forms of action, almost all of the work has been taken out of it. So if you look at this section in the top right hand corner it shows you a few things. It tells you the person and what has happened with them. It also gives you three options, like, message or skip. Now, technically “liking” there update is better than doing nothing, “skip”. But it isn’t much better. Almost everyone who happens to be on LinkedIn on that given day will hit like.

But what if you did more than that? What if every time you noticed someone received a promotion or a new job or the earth had a rotated around the sun another time, all the while they were employed with their current company, you messaged them? What if you wrote them a quick but personalized message, letting them know you are aware of the events in their life and wish them well? If you click “message”, LinkedIn will provide with a generic message like “congrats” or “happy birthday”, whatever they deem appropriate for the situation. And to be clear, nothing is wrong with that. In fact, it is still a pretty nice gesture. But how much effort would it take for you to write them a small note saying you are happy to see the progress in their career and perhaps recalling something you remember about them?

The fact of the matter is it will take very little work and you will make an impact. Messages like this might lead to conversations and those conversations could lead to meeting up with lunch with an old colleague. LinkedIn isn’t just a place where you can post pictures and opinions that really are more appropriate for Facebook, it’s a catalyst for maintaining and building professional relationships.

So here is my call to action. For a month, log into LinkedIn every day. Once there send a message to every person that LinkedIn brings up in that top right corner. My guess is it will take you less than 5 minutes. Do this and see what happens. The fact of the matter is its employees who are referred to an open position get the job at a much higher percentage than those of us who go through the traditional application process. Today’s workforce can be very volatile. In the time I have spent in Talent Acquisition I have had more talks than I care to remember with people who unexpectedly found themselves out of a job. I have heard those people say a lot of the same things. I didn’t see this coming. What should I do now? I haven’t had to interview is so long. I need to update my resume. However, I have never had someone say to me, I wish I was less well networked.

So try it. Send those messages. Strike up a dialogue with a former colleague. Cultivate relationships. Even if you never find yourself in the position where you find yourself needing to find a new job, there are plenty of benefits to having solid relationships. If nothing else, it’s a nice thing to do and you could make someone’s day. If you liked this post, please “like” and share it with your social media! Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a good opportunity.

What Most Companies Mess Up About The Interview Process

When I receive an email from a candidate following an interview when I wasn’t expecting an email, I don’t even need to open it. I already know what it says. Well I mean, I don’t know every word but I know what the main takeaway is going to be. My candidate it regretfully informing me that they are dropping out of the process or that they have accepted another offer. You see, when things are going great, people usually aren’t calling me. If the interview went amazing, I am going to have to make the calls if I want to get that information. As someone who has been recruiting non-stop for the last seven years I have received a ton of those emails.

Usually they are pretty much the same. They are polite, they are thoughtful and there is a visible effort to try and let me down easy. Do you want to know a secret? I’m rarely ever upset at the candidate. The only way I am ever upset at the candidate is if they misrepresented something along the way or the timing is painfully bad. But, if they realized the opportunity wasn’t a great fit for them or they had a bad experience interviewing, what reasonable person could be mad about that. Not me.

In fact, I am more likely to be irritated with the people who had been doing the interviewing. When a candidate tells me that they had a bad experience interviewing or that perhaps that didn’t quite get the “vibe” they were hoping for, I am disappointed for all involved. Because usually that means the hiring company didn’t make the interview enough about the candidate. It usually means they were so laser focused on figuring out if this was the right person or not that they didn’t take the time to show the candidate why the company was right for them.

People who are involved in hiring typically operate under the belief that there are two types of candidate markets. They think that when there aren’t a lot of jobs and perhaps the economy isn’t doing so hot, it’s a company driven market. Meaning that there are many people looking for jobs and few jobs available. Or the other end of that, when the economy is doing great and there are a lot of available jobs, it is a candidate driven market. Now for many years I also believed that but I was wrong. The fact of the matter is, a scarcity will always exist when it comes to the talent that is capable of making an impact that is extraordinary. No matter what is going on in the market, the top 25% of the talent in the workforce will be gainfully employed as long as it is their desire to do so.

So what does that mean for those of us who are trying to find and hire these transformative individuals? It means if you ever stop selling the opportunity, you are failing to put yourself in the best possible position to succeed as an organization. So, to answer the question I posed in the title, most companies misdiagnose the dynamic created when you are trying to make a hire. They are under the impression that the only party that needs to be sold is them. That couldn’t be further from the truth. If you really want to be able to hire the type of people who will transform your fortunes as an organization, you need to interview with the mindset that selling what you have to offer is absolutely as critical as making sure they are the right person.

Now, I will get into that in a minute, I am going to take you on a small diversion to give you a little bit of information on my personal recruitment. If you haven’t been to the About Me section of my page, I work for a company called Titus Talent. I could go on and on about how we are not your typical recruitment firm. For our clients, what really matters is we are much more so partners than you typical staffing firm and that we save them 70% on traditional recruiting firms. In fact, recently I filled a Project Leader role for a client and when it was all said and done it cost them less than five thousand dollars. If they had worked with me while I was at Manpower it would have cost them just under twenty-eight thousand dollars. So besides the fact that we provide comprehensive activity reports, massive amount of savings and a database of all the candidates we reached out to that they can pull from in the future, every single candidate we submit is a passive candidate (by the way, if you have ever worked with a third party recruiter before, the past couple of sentences should be earth shattering. If you want to learn more about our process and how we might help your company find the best talent at a fraction of the cost, email me at ben.white@titustalent.com and I will be happy to tell you all about it and answer your questions).

So, when I say that every candidate is passive, this is what I mean. Every single candidate we submit is someone we reached out to, virtually none of our candidates every apply to a posting of ours. That is of course because these postings don’t exist. My company never posts a job. When I was at Manpower, a client would give us a role and I would then post it online to a plethora of job boards and sometimes, one of those candidates would be the ones who got the job. So my client would pay us 20% of the candidates first year salary for a candidate who applied to a posting. Not here, every candidate we present is someone who we went out and found. Truly passive, transformational talent.

Now let’s circle back. Imagine you did all the work to engage top 15% in the market talent and even though they were happy with their current role and not looking to interview, you got them interested and they decided to interview for an opportunity. Now imagine the client is super interested as well, they decide to have this person onsite for an interview. Now finally imagine the candidate says she found the interview process to be intimidating and isn’t interested and wants to stay where she is because after all, she wasn’t looking and is happy where she is at. Now also imagine the client calls you and says, “Ben, that candidate is Great! She has all the technical skills and would fit in great here!” It is now your job to tell them the candidate has removed herself from the process and has no interest in moving forward.

Guess what, that can happen if companies fail to do their part in selling the opportunity. Last week I wrote a post on panel interviews, The Truth About Panel Interviews – And how you can beat them! Intimidating panel interviews are a component of why a candidate might get pushed away but they are by no means the only reason. My advice to companies is make sure you remember that selling the opportunity is just as important as figuring out if the candidate is the right one. The fact of the matter is you will be able to determine if the candidate is the right one or not when you interview them whether or not you sell the opportunity or not. If you believe that, then why wouldn’t you sell what you have to offer. Tell them why people like working here, show them around and remember that they are people too who like to be treated kindly. If you can find a way to turn your interview experience into an experience where you are truly able to sell this opportunity you will be putting yourself at a significant competitive advantage. Remember, there will always be a shortage of the best people, regardless of the market.

Well there you have it! What most companies mess up about the interview process is they remember to find out if you are right for them but they forget to demonstrate why they are right for you. If you liked this post, share it! I love seeing when people share my posts in their LinkedIn groups or on Facebook. Also, please feel free to share your thoughts below, I always try and comment back. What I would love to hear is examples of when companies did an awesome job of selling you on their opportunity. You can also share horror stories of interviews you have been on; those could be really fun to share as well. Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about an amazing opportunity!

The Truth About Panel Interviews – And how you can beat them!

I am going to start this post by saying I do not like panel interviews and I am in no way shape or form in favor of them. In fact, if you were to ask most people what their least favorite part of interviewing was, I am willing to bet at least half the people you ask would say panel interviewing. So, why do people hate them so much? What is it about panel interviews that makes people single them out as such a negative experience? Well, a few years back I ended up calling a bunch of candidates who had turned down attractive offers over the last 6 months. I called to ask them about their experiences in order to get some candid feedback from people who had been involved in our process.

The feedback I got was that the interviews where cold, it felt as if they were being grilled, they didn’t do a good enough job of selling the opportunity and that they absolutely hated the panel interviews. People hate them because they are the most nerve-wracking component of an already stressful event. Interviewing is already something a lot of people don’t like doing, but this is the worst part in many people’s eyes.

So you might be asking, well Ben, if this is the case why do people do panel interviews. Preach! I agree, we should do away with them. However, as uncomfortable as they may be, the fact of the matter is that there is value there for the company doing the interviewing. For one, they can get the candidate in front of a lot of people in a limited amount of time. In addition to that they get to see how the person might react to a stressful situation and they get a sense of how this person is able to handle themselves in a complicated group setting. There is no denying, getting an idea of how a candidate handles a stressful situation and being able to see how they communicate in that situation has value.

So far we have established two things. The first is that generally speaking people dislike panel interviews and that they aren’t going anywhere. So, if they aren’t going anywhere, you should probably get better at doing them right? Right! I recently had a panel interview and it went pretty well I think. It didn’t go terribly at least because I got the job and here I am now. So let’s talk about what I did to do well enough that I wasn’t derailed by that panel interview.

How to beat Panel Interviews

So I am going to give you three tips that will help you with panel interviews. I can’t help that they will always work, to some degree it will always depend on the interviewers but these should help. If you can employ these three techniques, most of the panel interviews you will do for the rest of your life will go well. Oh, and for extra help, check out this 5 Things Smart Interviewers Do in the Lobby.

Be confident

The first thing you need to do is not let nerves get to you. I know that is easier said than done. However, if you seem stressed they will notice and you aren’t doing yourself any favors. To be confident, you need to be prepared. So, do your research and go into the interviewer knowing that there is nothing more you could have done to position yourself for success. Once there, sit up straight, smile, look them in the eye and know that they also put their pants on one leg at a time just like you. A lot of it comes down to mindset. Push the fear out of your mind, be confident in what you bring to the table (if it wasn’t a lot, you wouldn’t be there) and let the passion for what you do show!

Don’t worry, be happy! And Passionate!

This one is another attitude adjustment. Your attitude can be infectious. If you smile, are happy and it’s obvious that you love what you do you can completely change the feeling in the room. Don’t think of it as an interview, think of it as a conversation with people who do what you do. However, some of the most frequent feedback I hear from panel interviews is the person lacked energy or passion. Don’t let that be you! I always advocate preparation, passion and positivity in interviewing. This is no different, it might even be more important in this setting.

Allocate your attention evenly

This is the single biggest pitfall people fall victim to while doing panel interviews. I have heard so many times that the interviewer completely ignored a person or directed all their attention to the person with the highest role. That is disrespectful and stupid. People notice when you do that and the person you ignored won’t be the only person who considers it in ill taste. When someone asks you a question, look at them but also make note to look at everyone a little bit. Look them in the eye, answer confidently and make sure you spend an equal amount of time engaging everyone there. I have seen this derail many candidates and it can be the kiss of death for an interview and your potential candidacy. Everyone took time to be there and prepare. Make sure you show them the respect they deserve and connect with them.

Well there you have it! If you can do those three things you will be ok. So much of success is showing up early, respecting people and being positive. The same holds true for interviews. For more prep advice, get my FREE Interview Prep Guide. If you liked this post and I hope you did, please share it and like it on your social networks. Go after what you want today, it’s the best way to live. Have an awesome day and thanks for reading!