I was a guest on an awesome Podcast!

So for those of you who have read my posts and wondered to myself “I wonder what Ben sounds like”, you are in luck! I have recently started appearing on podcasts and I just wrapped up my second podcast appearance. The podcast is on the career cloud website and the podcasts are typically downloaded about 2,500 times a day. It was a really good experience and I felt like it made sense to share it with all of you. In the podcast we covered a variety of topics from interview advice, resume tips and emerging trends in hiring. It was only my second go at doing the whole podcast guest thing and I plan on doing a lot more of it in the future. So with that being said if you want to go check it out, go check the link below.

Career Cloud Podcast

So with that being said, please feel free to share this with all your social media friends. As always feel free to comment below and I hope that you find some value in this podcast. Show up, work hard and be positive. Have an awesome day!

Are you prepared for a career disaster? 5 things you need to do to be prepared.

Throughout my time in recruitment I have learned that there are many conversations you would prefer not have that you will need to have over and over again. It is just the nature of the work. Telling someone who really wanted a job that the company has decided to pass on them is never a conversation that you look forward to but if you have spent any time in recruitment you understand it is a conversation you are going to have to have many times. Another conversation I have had many times is the conversation with a person who has just been downsized. Someone, who through no fault of their own, now finds themselves without a job. You can hear the gravity of the situation the surprise and uncertainty in their voices.

As unpleasant of a reality as it may be, it is just that, a reality. Everyday companies make decisions that are entirely business motivated that adversely impact their workers. I have spoken with candidates who have worked with one company the last 20 years and now, without much warning at all, find themselves in a situation they wanted no part of. For most of those people it is quite the daunting journey to start on. Many don’t have an updated resume and besides the fact that they hate interviewing, they haven’t don’t any interviewing in years and are out of the practice.

So let me ask you this one question, are you prepared for a career disaster? Think about it, if your boss called you into her office today and let you know that your team was being eliminated from the company for whatever reason, what would you do? Do you have a plan in place? What is the first action you would take? Text a loved one? Reached out to an old colleague on LinkedIn? Find the sturdiest box to pack your things into and jet it to your car? It’s not a pleasant hypothetical. The fact of the matter is most people are not prepared. Really that’s pretty understandable, most people don’t expect it to happen. After all they work for a good company, they do good work and they have a great relationship with their boss. However, I would caution you not to kid yourself, these things can happen and regardless if those things are all true and it makes sense to be prepared just in case they do.

So let’s talk about what you can do. Regardless of the stage in your career there are steps you can take so that if the unthinkable happens you have a head start. That head start can be important too because although nobody wants to mention it, if you are part of an eliminated group, your former colleagues have just become your competition for the jobs available. So with this dreary picture painted let’s talk about the steps you should be taking now so that if push comes to shove you are ready to sprint.

  1. Have an updated resume

I have talked to many people after they get the bad news and a common theme is they don’t have an updated resume. I understand how that happens. You have a job, you aren’t looking, why have your resume updated. This scenario is the why. Periodically open up that word document and make the necessary changes so that your resume reflects your current responsibilities. That’s it. Just make sure it’s ready to go should you need it. If you want professional help getting a resume up and going check out my Resource Page for helpful links to award winning resume writers.

  1. Set up an Indeed Alert

Go to Indeed and do a search for jobs that interest you within a 20-mile radius of your home. Once you do that it will give you the option to save this search and receive emails when a job matches your criteria. You are doing this for a few reasons. The first reason is you should want to know when jobs open up that fit what you are looking for. The second takes us to our next point.

  1. Take an interview every now and then

I want to be clear, I am not advocating you waste anyone’s time but you can’t argue that it wouldn’t benefit you to see what’s out there. If you find a job that interests, you and you apply to it and end up getting an interview the outcomes are almost entirely positive. Let’s examine these outcomes. The first is you interview and end up really liking the job enough that you make a move. You wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t a better role, so that’s a positive. Now let’s say you interview and you decide the role isn’t for you. You politely thank everyone involved and remove yourself from the process as soon as you make that decision. You know what that was? It was a dress rehearsal. Now if you find yourself unemployed your next interview won’t be the first one you have done in fourteen years. Also, if you want to be good at interviewing do yourself a favor and download my FREE Interview Prep Guide. It is 100% free with no email opt-in requirements and has tons of useful knowledge, what are you waiting for? Download it!!!

  1. If a recruiter reaches out to you, have the conversation

I reach out to professionals every day to connect with them and discuss their careers and possible opportunities with them. And every single day people complete blow off my attempt and go about their lives. Don’t worry, no need for a waterproof pillow, it doesn’t hurt my feelings. I am like Kobe Bryant when he misses a shot, I completely forget about that missed shot and I take the next one. However, upon reflection I feel like it’s foolish to completely ignore or decline my attempt. For example, if that person declines my inmail or hangs up on me and a week from our interaction gets let go…wouldn’t they probably wish they had invested 5 minutes and had a courteous conversation with me? Shoot, I know I would. Take the call, you can always say no to the opportunity. Use that call to describe the roles you would have interest in hearing about and network. Build a connection as opposed to burning a bridge.

  1. Connect with old colleagues who have moved on

If you find yourself laid off its probably unlikely you return to an old employer. Sure, sometimes it happens but most of the time you left for a reason. However, some of the people you used to work with could be of great assistance if you find yourself needing a new role. If someone you used to work with gets a new job, reach out to them. LinkedIn makes it easy to stay in touch. Don’t be lazy and just click the like button though, that is generic and worthless. Send them a message, ask a few questions, strike up a dialogue. Nobody ever expresses regret to me about maintaining past relationships or being too well networked. Meet them out for a lunch or coffee. Trust me, if you ever find yourself needing to find a new role you won’t regret that you maintained good relationships.

Well there you have it. If you do the above things you can definitely say yes to the question, are you prepared for a career disaster. A few parting words, if you find yourself in this situation, stay calm and stay positive. It will be ok If you liked this post please “like” and share it with your social media friends. It’s much appreciated. Show up early, be positive, work hard and have an awesome day!

3 Reasons You Aren’t Getting Interviews – Things in Your Control

Last week I wrote a post about the some of the reasons you might not be getting called to do interviews. After all, you are totally qualified, presentable and generally speaking, pleasant to be around, you should be beating recruiters off with a stick. So when you aren’t, I know that it can be pretty frustrating. Last week’s post was about things that are out of your control. (If you haven’t read it yet, give it a read here, 3 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Interviews – Things that are out of your control) However, this week I want to focus on things that are well within your control. It’s one thing to be adversely impacted by things you can’t change, that’s an unfortunate reality in certain situations. But in those situations where its within your power to alter your circumstances, you owe it to yourself to do it. The below situations are all things you can change now that will immediately impact your job search.  Also, make sure you read the entirety of the 3rd tip, most people don’t know the impact it has on the way they are viewed.

 

Your resume looks terrible

Let’s start with the low hanging fruit. There is no excuse for having a bad looking resume. There are literally hundreds of sites where you can go and find templates. In fact, check out my Resource Page, there are a few links there to resume services. Now, if you want someone to help you there, then there is a charge. However they also have resume templates you can copy….for free. Literally, they are free, there is no reason not to have an awesome looking resume. However, even with the wealth of free resources out there at the fingertips of job seekers everywhere, time and time again I see resumes that just look bad.  Let me explain to you why this is such a big deal by explaining to you at a high level what life is like for a corporate recruiter. Most corporate recruiters I know (and myself when I was one) have like 20 to 40 positions they are responsible for recruiting on. A lot of that is just opening the req, looking at applicants and sending the best ones to the hiring manager for their review. So, knowing that, if you are one of let’s say 45 applicants who all happen to be similarly qualified and your resume is terrible to look at, how likely do you think your chances of being moved forward are? Exactly, next!

 

You have an objective that you don’t change

I have always been of the opinion that the best objective on the resume is one that doesn’t exist. I have pretty much always been an outspoken advocate of dropping the objective from your resume. In fact, I reference it in both my My eBook and my FREE Interview Prep Guide. I think they are a waste of space and occasionally harmful and here’s why. As a recruiter, if you applied to my job, I know you are interested in it. You literally demonstrated that you want the job by going through what is frequently an unpleasant process and applying. You created an account, a fancy password, answered a bunch of questions and finally hit submit. If you didn’t want the job you wouldn’t do that. So when I see “my objective is to get a mechanical engineering role at ABC Company” it is redundant. I don’t ever look at that and say to myself “oh, thank god, she wants the job….I thought she was just applying to kill time”. The bottom line is you do not benefit from having an objective. If google wouldn’t punish me for the redundancy I would type that sentence out again. So we have established that they can’t help you, let’s talk about how they can hurt you. It’s simple, people don’t always change them. I have had people say they were looking for a job that’s different from the one they applied to and at a different company. So if I send your resume to my hiring manager and they see that, what do you think they are going to think? Worst case scenario, they don’t actually want my job, delete! Best case scenario they think you are lazy or have low attention to detail. There is no positive outcome here. So in summary, doesn’t help you can potentially hurt you. I rest my case.

 

You aren’t customizing your resume for the job you want

If you aren’t customizing your resume to mirror some of the responsibilities of the role (in a truthful manner, don’t say you have done something if you can’t) then you don’t realize its benefits or you are just lazy. And since I am about to tell you the benefits, if you don’t do it moving forward then the only option left is that you are being lazy and you are better than that. So modifying your resume helps you in two critical ways, one obvious and one not so obvious. The obvious one is that anyone looking at your resume will see that you have the experience that makes you a fit based on what they have said they are looking for. That is obviously a very good thing. The second way is not so obvious but almost just as important. When you apply to a role, in most cases your resume is store in an applicant tracking system. You are put into a folder with others who apply to the role. Now this is why it’s so important to try and mirror the job description if you happen to have the qualifications they look for. Most applicant tracking systems use some sort of algorithm to match the resumes of the applicants to the job description. Think about that for a minute. Now imagine you are a recruiter with a finite amount of time and a lot of work. You open up a folder looking for a few good candidates to send to your manager. Your fancy ATS shows you that you have forty applicants you haven’t looked at yet. It gives you a percentage of how well each candidates resume matches the job description. Would you rather be the candidate who looks to be an 88% match or the one who is shown as a 43% match?

 

So there you have it. If you change these things you will immediately increase he likelihood of you getting interviews. Thank you for reading, I hope you found it helpful. As always, if you liked his post please share it! I love getting notifications on LinkedIn that my post has been shared (as a recruiter I am literally on there all day). Thanks again and have an awesome day!

3 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Interviews – Things that are out of your control

Have you ever read a job description and thought to yourself “well they might as well take this posting down now, this job is an exact match for my skills!” only to apply and never hear back? I have. When you are looking for a new role, find one you are qualified for, go through an exhaustive application process only to never hear back, one cannot help but feel frustrated. Especially if it is happening a lot. Imagine filling out hundreds of applications and never receiving a single call or email asking for you to interview.

I have had candidates tell me that exact thing. In fact, I have had many candidates tell me that I was the first person to call them after filling out hundreds of applications. Although you will most likely find little solace in these explanations if you are one of those people, there are in fact reasons why it’s happening. In this two-part series we will examine the reasons why it’s happening. In today’s post we will examine the reasons why it’s happening that are out of your control. Next week we will take a look at the things you can change that will help. However, I wanted to start with the things that you can’t control because they are frustrating but they do exist and perhaps knowing of them can help put some people at ease.

 

They are hiring an internal

People love it when a company promotes from within…when you are a member of that company that is. When you are on the outside looking in, it can be pretty frustrating. As a member of the company obviously it is great and the list of benefits from an employee engagement standpoint are significant. However, as an applicant there really is nothing you can do. Why do the companies even post a role where they intend on hiring an internal you ask? Great question. Well sometimes it has to do with compliance. If a company is a government contractor there are metrics there are held to from a diversity standpoint and simply put, they need to track a bunch of information. Tracking that information means they need to post the role and have to go through their applicant tracking system. Sometimes hiring managers plan on hiring the internal but want to post it “just in case” which doesn’t give outsiders much of a chance unless they happen to be great. Even then it is an uphill battle.

 

You applied too late

So this is one where perhaps you have some control so I hesitated including it here, ultimately I felt it made sense for a few reasons. First let’s examine why this is a thing though. There were times as a corporate recruiter where I would post a role and receive an overwhelming amount of applicants. I mean, I would post it and next thing you know there would be 60 candidates. I would start looking and 10 candidates deep I would realize they were all qualified. As a OFCCP compliant, government contracting company it made sense to not view all applicants. You see the more applicants you view, the higher the likelihood is that you are going to have to explain why certain candidates where interviewed and others weren’t should you ever get audited. So, from a compliance standpoint, it made sense when you had a surplus of qualified candidates to only view the first 10,15 or 20 who applied. So what does that mean? It means if you applied 21st through 60th it didn’t matter how great you were; you weren’t being viewed. The counterpoint to this being included in this post is that you can control applying earlier. While that is true, you aren’t always aware of all openings making this out of your control.

 

Your reputation precedes you…negatively

This is the big one. It’s actually the reason I decided to write this post and the one next week. So this single thought dictated two weeks of content. Simply put, at some point in your career you either will or will not get an interview based on the opinion of someone you used to work with. Most of the time you will not know when it happens, but believe me it does. This is how it works, you apply for a job, the hiring manager see’s you used to work at ABC company, the hiring manager knows someone who worked at that company during your time there and the hiring manager asks them their thoughts on you. It happens all the time. So besides people a total rock star at every job you have ever had, it’s hard to control this. What is in your control is being nice, always doing your best and being careful to not burn bridges. Certainly I would advise those things but just know, sometimes, it just came down to someone you knew at a past company who didn’t rave about what you bring to the table. Even an “eh, Ben was alright I guess” can derail your chances of getting an interview.

So there you have it, those are my 3 reasons why you aren’t getting interviews. It can be tough when it’s out of your control but sometimes that’s the case. That is why when you do get an interview it’s important for you to make the most of it. Speaking of make the most of it, if you haven’t yet, go download my FREE Interview Prep Guide. Its free, what are you waiting for? If you liked this post, please like and share it! I appreciate it and as always have an awesome day!

3 Great Interview Questions That Will Catch the Interviewer Off Guard

When I have interviewed in the past there have been several times where I was caught off guard. There have been questions I was expecting to have to answer and thusly wasn’t prepared to do so. Having done a ton of interviewing myself, someone has to come up with a really off the wall question to catch me by surprise. Basically that means that the person was intentionally trying to catch me off guard. But…why would you want to intentionally catch someone off guard? The reason is simple, when you catch someone off guard, you are increasingly the likelihood that you are going to get a candid response.

When you interview someone, you can pretty much rest assured they have prepared a ton. They have practiced answering questions they think you are going to ask ahead of time so that their answer comes off more polished than it might otherwise. I personally can’t blame anyone for that, I do it myself. There are so many resources available today to help someone prepare for phone interviews as well as in person interviews. For example, this site is a solid resource to learn how to interview. There are eBooks out there to help you prepare like My eBook and my FREE Interview Prep Guide. So to try and get some authentic, not prepackaged answer, sometimes interviews ask unique questions that will catch you off guard. They want to see you think on your feet and get a gauge on how you handle pressure.

However, this goes both ways, as the interviewee you also have the ability to catch the interviewer off guard. Why would you do that you ask? Well you could do it for some of the same reasons. Maybe you want to get an honest answer from them. Personally when I am asked a question, as the interviewer, that really makes me think I appreciate it. It’s not that often that its flipped around and all of a sudden I am the one trying to figure out the best way to response. So in some ways I think it is the sign of a good interviewer. It’s also a good way to perhaps shift the balance of power just a bit. At the very least, you can gather a little more information and it won’t hurt your chances of getting the job. So with that being said let’s take a look at 3 great interview questions that will catch the interviewer off guard.

 

What will be the most challenging aspect of this job for the person who ultimately ends up filling it?

What a great question. Its good because as recruiters you are so used to selling a role. However, you don’t spend a lot of time talking about why the role will at times be challenging. Quite frankly, I don’t care what your job is, there are aspects of it that are less pleasant than others and this gives you a glimpse at what some of those are.

 

What is your biggest reason for staying at this company?

This is one of my personal favorites to ask someone interviewing me. In fact, the last several interviews I have taken I have asked this question. I ask this question for a few reasons. The first being I want to hear the enthusiasm in their voice. If they are unconvincing with their answer that might tell you everything you need to know about securing employment there. Are they having a hard time coming up with a reason to stay? Well that’s not good. Do they seem like they are describing why they continue with the same dentist? “Well it’s close to my house, I have been here for a long time, it’s close to my gym…” While I find it extremely convenient to have my work situated close to the place I go and throw weights around, that isn’t what I want to hear here. I want enthusiasm, passion, I want solid reasons that motivate me to take an offer if presented with one. From what they say, to the way they say it, every bit of information you get from this question is valuable.

 

Do you have any questions or concerns about my ability to do the job?

Game changer…. Read that question again. In my My eBook I have this question as a must ask in the closing section. I had an awesome boss once who told me to prep all my candidates to ask this question at the end of their interviews. Why? For two simple reasons. If they say something like “No, not at all, you are a total fit for this role” you can respond by saying “Great, in that case I want you to know that I am very interested in this role and I look forward to hearing from you further”. However, if the response isn’t as positive and they say something like “well, everyone really liked you but there are concerns about your job stability” than that’s awesome! I mean, it’s not awesome that they have concerns but it’s awesome you get a chance to address them. You almost walked out and you would have never gotten the chance to address their concerns. If they say that then use the next moment to try and answer their concerns. Don’t be pushy but you can confidently explain why their concern shouldn’t disqualify you from coming and working here.

 

Well there you have it, those are 3 great interview questions that will catch the interviewer off guard. Not only that but there will be value in the answers for you as well. Can you think of any other great questions to ask? If so comment below, I always love seeing the great ones you guys come up with. If you liked this post, as always please share it with your networks! Have an awesome day!

Employers, Stop Scaring Away the Best Talent!!!

The amount of exceptional employees capable of making a significant difference is finite. There are only so many people out there who are capable of coming in and single-handedly moving the needle. Or, to put it how Lou Adler might, there is a talent scarcity. If you have ever been responsible for hiring, we can probably agree on this right? Before we really dive into the issue and the solution I want to share with you real example that will ultimately illustrate my point and frame the solution nicely.

Several years back I was working as a corporate recruiter and one of the groups that I supported needed to hire some people… A lot of people actually. If my memory serves me correctly, they wanted to hire 35 engineers over a 6-month time span. These were not easy fills. These were computer science grads with 4 to 7 years’ experience doing something very specific. The point I am getting here is that it was a significant undertaking. However, with my role I had some very key advantages. The company I worked for was a great company. Fortune 500 with competitive salary, benefits and in the area it was a marquee employer.

So it should have been no problem right? I should have been tripping over the candidates with the bottleneck being having too many interviews that my hiring manager’s calendars were overbooked. If that was for the case this wouldn’t have made for a very relevant story. What actually ended up happening is we had a decent amount of candidates. Not as many as we would have liked but realistically I was pretty happy with the volume. Those were tough roles, the fact that I wasn’t having to source everybody was a pretty positive outcome for me.

However, this story doesn’t end there. We were constantly interviewing and while we were making some successful offers, something else happened. We were experiencing turn downs. Candidates who went through our entire process (which for this role was long), receiving an offer and then saying no thanks. Now the fact of the matter is turn downs happen. Candidates get counter offers (for my thoughts on that check out this post, 3 Powerful Reasons to Never Accept a Counter Offer) or they expected more compensation or they simply get cold feet. If you extend offers, at some point you are going to experience a turn down or two. However, this wasn’t one or two. This was more than that and it started to get a little concerning.

At one point my manager and I had our bi-weekly meeting and these searches came up. She asked me how they were coming along and I told her. I let her know that while we were making progress, the fact of the matter was we weren’t making the kind of progress all parties involved found to be acceptable. So we came up with an idea, we decided I was to call every candidate who turned down our offer and talk with them about it. The goal wasn’t to get them to reconsider but rather to find out why? After all, it was a lot of work to get an offer. We are talking two phone interviews, an onsite interview and a technical assessment. So after all that timer, why turn down a competitive offer with an industry leader that just so happens to be headquartered where you live?

The Problem

So I came up with a series of questions and called every single one. On occasion it was a little bit of work to get them to talk with me but I think I ended up talking to all but one. I tend to be a pretty conversational interviewer and that combined with the relationship I had established with the candidates allowed me to get some pretty candid feedback. Throughout all my conversations there was one consistent theme. Our interviews were not pleasant. Not only was out process long but once candidates made it onsite they were subjected to rigorous testing, tough questions and intimidating panel interviews.

Now don’t get me wrong. I know there is a significant negative impact to making bad hire. It is costly and it can carry far reaching implications. So yes, sometimes, the testing and the intense interviews are necessary. However, if you find yourself in the position of interviewing some of the top talent in your industry, you sure as hell better spend some of that time selling them on why this opportunity is a great one. The conclusion was we had intimidating interviews and we weren’t doing the opportunity justice when it came to selling how great it really was.

Along the way another thing happened. We looked at some of the government data we had access to and we found out that we had some stiff competition. For every one of these engineers in our market there were over 6 job openings. When you don’t sell your opportunity, have intimidating interviews and are located in an area where a candidate is able to compare a multitude of opportunities, you are going to run into some heartache, regardless of how great a company you are.

The Solution

So what did we do? Well a few things. We worked to shorten up our process to get from starting line to finish line faster. We also diversified our interview panel. Not just ethnicity and gender but also with tenure. We wanted to give perspective diversity in story told by the people they were meeting. Lastly we highly encouraged the people interviewing candidates to talk about why this opportunity was awesome. After all, it really was. I mean you were working with the newest technology, surrounded by other really smart people and you were making an impact in products that were global industry leaders. While you might be thinking “Well Ben, that should sell itself”. Maybe. But I am of the opinion that you should never stop selling how great your opportunity it is. When you are talking about the type of talent that can make the type of impact your business needs, maybe should not be good enough, not even close.

Selling the candidate becomes even more important when they aren’t someone who applied but rather, someone your recruited pursued and engaged for this one specific role or a “passive candidate”. With passive candidates you have less margin for error when it comes to have an unwelcoming process. Because they aren’t really looking to make a move they are going to be more willing to walk away when they run into something they don’t like. I am acutely aware of this because I work for a company that only works with passive candidates. A few roles ago I was a headhunter for a fortune 500 company and guess what, if you engaged us to work on one of your jobs we posted it. We posted it to a lot of places and sometimes the candidates who got the role applied and then we sent them over. That’s just how most 3rd party agencies work. However, in my current role, even if I wanted to post a role I wouldn’t have the ability. Every single candidate is passive. They wouldn’t apply to your job if you posted it you wouldn’t find their resume online. If that seemed like a small commercial, it was! If you are a company and want help finding the best passive talent at a fraction of the cost of a typical head hunting agency find my email on this page Work with Ben, email me and let’s chat so I can tell you about my organizations unique process.

If you made it this far thank you so much for reading. Remember, your job isn’t done when you find the candidate. Interviews aren’t just figuring out if they are right for you. Candidates are doing the exact same thing, so make sure you help nudge them in the right direction. If you liked this post, please feel free to share with your social networks. Thanks and have an awesome day!

The Difference Between Great Interviewers and Good Interviewers

There is a huge gap between bad interviewers and good interviewers. As a recruiter, you know pretty much right away if a candidate is a bad interviewer. There is the awkward and unenthusiastic “hello” when they pick up the phone. There is the lack of preparedness that becomes more and more obvious as the conversation goes on. There is the constant noise in the background that indicates “I didn’t plan far enough in advance to get to a quiet spot” and a variety of other cues that are painfully obvious to anyone who has spent a significant amount of time interviewing people. However, there isn’t that big of a gap between good and great interviewers.

In fact, it could take a whole conversation or perhaps more time to be able to distinguish whether you are talking to a great interviewer or just a good one. There are many things that you can do that will put you on one side or the other. Some of them are small things but sometime they can make the difference. I am willing to bet that some of you reading this are good interviewers while others of you are great! (there might even me a correlation between those of you who frequent my blog and are great interviewers perhaps….jk) I am also willing to bet that none of you pick up the phone when you interviewing thinking “I hope that I am good, not great for this phone interview”. While there are many things you can do to become good, I am going to give you one solid thing you can immediately implement to become a great interviewer.

Before we go into that let’s talk about the process of putting together a phone interview. Initially I have a meeting with my hiring manager where I am told what it is they are looking for. I ask a set of questions that will help me determine in greater detail what I need to go out into the market and find. At some point in the conversation certain questions the hiring manager would like asked are discussed. Frequently those questions are something like this “Give me an example of a time you had to deal with competing deadlines? What was the decision you had to make? What did you decide to do? And “What was the outcome?” So your recruiter might ask you those series of questions and often it’s because the hiring manager is looking for something specific in your response.

So back to being good or great. When I as a question like that most candidates will start by saying, “well in my role that happens every day.” In my book, that is a fair start. In many roles they will ask you a question that turns out to be something that you need to deal with frequently. So here is where good and great gets defined when it comes to this questions. Good candidates will say something like “In those case you need to assess the situation, take a look at the manpower you can get to assist or make a judgement call based on priorities etc.” Depending on the recruiter, that is a good answer. But, a great answer is different in a very specific way. A great answer gives you a specific example. It tells of an actual time you, as the candidate, did that exact thing. In great detail it describes your thought process, the action you took, the outcome of that action and how this specific example has contributed to the professional you are today.

You see, saying that happens all the time may be true. And following it with a hypothetical situation may give your interviewer a glimpse into your decision making process in said situation. However, in the truest sense, it isn’t actually answering the question. Your interviewer asked for a specific example. You weren’t asked what you might do, they want to know what you have done. If you answer in hypotheticals, then you are missing the boat on what your interviewer was actually trying to accomplish and you are falling short of great. Give a specific example, tell the interviewer your specific actions, not what the team did, reach a coherent conclusion and do this without the story going on too long. That can be the difference between good and great.

Well there you have it, that is the difference between good interviewers and great interviewers. If you haven’t done so, go get your free copy of my new FREE Interview Prep Guide, it’s absolutely free, get yours now! I hope you find this helpful and actionable. Please feel free to share and as always, have a great day!

1 Question You Need to Ask Every Candidate: My Take On a Lou Adler Tip

Do you guys see that above pic? Yes, that is a real picture and that is a recruiting legend….and Lou Adler. Just kidding that is a picture of me and recruiting legend Lou Adler. I had a full day of training with Lou and then saw him speak at a Titus Talent event thrown in downtown Milwaukee. Over the next few weeks or so I plan on sharing some of the information I learned from Lou with all of you. The following post is for anyone who will at some point in the future need to sell a candidate to a hiring manager. If you don’t feel you ever need to do that, feel free to read on anyway because it’s a good skill to have and you never know when you might benefit from having acquired this skill.

Part 1

Now while this question is directed to the candidate, to properly execute it, it actually starts way before the interview. It starts with your conversation with the hiring manager. In order to do this correctly you need to find the pain point. What is this hiring manager hoping this person will come in to do. There are several ways to get this information. Sometimes it will be blatantly obvious. The hiring manager will state over and over again that they are staying late, working long hours to accomplish a task this person is typically responsible for. If that’s the case, part one has been made easy for you. If not there are questions you can ask to find it out but for this to work, you absolutely must find it out. One of the things you can ask your hiring manager (or client if you are an agency recruiter) is “What project or deliverable will this person have right out of the gate, the first 90 days on the job?”

Typically, if you ask this question the hiring manager will reveal the pain point they are dealing with. So you ask the question and in return they say “well yes, this person is going to involved in an inter-plant relocation. That is going to be a big, high impact project that they will be expected to co tribute to right away.” If they say that well guess what, they have just made your job a lot easier. Ok, so you have that crucial piece of information, let’s move onto part two.

Quick break! Last week I finally published my FREE Interview Prep Guide, go check it out now… or after you are done with the post!

Part 2

Part two is you take that deliverable and you turn that into a question you will ask the candidate. In this specific case you would ask the candidate “Have you ever been a part of inter-plant relocation?” Now an inter-plant relocation is when you move the insides of a facility around in order to create efficiencies. For example, in a manufacturing facility, if there is an area of manufacturing and an area of assembly that are in different areas and you could eliminate waste by moving them closer together, then you might want to move them closer together. Thank you for bearing with me during that explanation, I have a business degree, not an industrial engineering degree. So you ask that question and that candidate says yes. You then follow that up with a bunch of follow yup questions. “What was your contribution to that project?” “You said you managed people on this project, how many people were under your direct management?” “What was the budget for this move?” “Who’s idea was this move?” “What efficiencies were created by implementing this change?”

Basically, you ask as many questions as you need to until you have as full of an understanding as you are capable of having. Now that you have this information, what can you use it for? The answer is simple, you use it to sell the candidate to the hiring manager. I had a boss who once told me that recruiting is all about just creating a conversation between two people. You make those conversations happen and good things will happen. Many times I have submitted a candidate I felt great about just to have the hiring manager look at their resume and say something like “Yea, I am not sure about this candidate, I don’t see enough ABC”. If you are able to arm yourself with the information you can get from asking these questions than you have positioned yourself to be able to sell your candidate on a level you haven’t been able to do before. Not only that but you have positioned yourself to be more consultative. You have unearthed the core reason for the need and then provided candidates who have previous examples of filling these gaps in talent and presented them to your hiring manager. If the manager waffles about having that initial phone screen, as long as the example they provide is impactful and similar to what they will need to do in this new role, then you have armed yourself with the ammunition that in most cases should be more than enough.

So what did you think? Was that helpful? Do you think you will be able to use it? Do you have any other tips that you have used in the past to sell candidates? If so, I would love to hear it below. Also if you liked this post, please share it with your social media networks. Thanks again for reading and have a great day!

3 Things You Can Immediately Change About Your Job Description to Find Transformational Talent

A few weeks back I was at the Indeed Interactive – Transformational Talent conference. It was two full days of information, networking and sneak peeks of things to come. The entire time I was there it was jam packed with content. One of the biggest themes to the event was transformational talent. So what is that? At the event they defined it as the type of talent that can come into your organization and make significant impact. Essentially it’s what every HR Business Partner, Hiring Manager and Recruiter are trying to find. It’s the type of person, who with their presence alone, is able to make contributions so significant that they are able to single-handedly move the needle on an entire departments productivity.

That sounds great right? Of course it does. These A Players are the type of employees who make contributions that will keep companies relevant and allow them to continue to adapt to a world where disruption seems to be the norm. During the conference indeed shared how some of the top companies in the world value these transformational individuals in terms of contribution relative to an average employee. Google, Apple, IBM and Netflix among others weighed in and gave their thoughts. The rated the impact of these individuals compared to an average employees impact and the lowest of the estimations was 4 to 1. Basically saying that one transformation employee was able to make the impact of four standard employees. One of the estimates had them at 300 to 1.

While that is quite the range you have to figure that it really comes down to how you measure average and exceptional. But for the sake of argument lets be cautious and say that the value of one of these A Players can be 10 to 1 (which again, is extremely conservative given the input of these top companies). At 10 to 1, these workers are absolute game changers and every organization should be clamoring to get as many of them as possible. As someone in recruitment, I know just how hard it is to find these candidates. And once you find them it’s not over, its then just as competitive to get them into your process, keep them engaged and then on top of it be the offer they end up selecting. I think it’s safe to assume that candidates like these will have competition offers.

So, with the talent be this rare and the market being this competitive, what are you doing to position yourself to attract, engage and retain this talent? Maybe a better question is what are you currently doing that is moving you further away from your goal of reaching these talented individuals? Well there are probably a myriad of things we could cover here but let’s start with your job description. According to the data Indeed has gathered, not only are these transformational individuals interested in hearing what’s out there, but about 70% of them are checking the job boards at least monthly. So basically, a monthly basis, if you have a poor job description you are squandering the chance to attract this talent. Essentially, a job description might be your one and only chance to engage the type of talent that propels your company into the future. Now that you understand the gravity, lets jump into the three things you can change right now to move yourself from a job description they look at, to a job description they apply to.

Leave out the meaningless clichés

Does your job description say things like “With competitive salary and benefits” or “ABC Company is an Industry Leader in”? My guess it probably does. Now while all of these things may indeed be true of your company, guess what, every job description says that. Go online right now and search for a position that you are currently trying to hire for. Find a competitor and look at their job description. Does it say a lot of the same stuff? How do you differentiate yourself from them? Do you? The fact of the natter is that you have very limited time to really interest a candidate when they are looking at your job description. If its two pages of the same old same of filled with meaningless cliches that mirror every other job description out there do you really feel as if you are best positioning yourself to get them to say “Yes, this role sounds perfect for me”? Look, if you have something special about your culture or mission, put that in here instead. I have looked through hundreds of job descriptions and if they say the same stuff your simply won’t stand out, find a way to be different.

Talk about the impact this person will have

Transformational talent craves the ability to make an impact. The talent you want doesn’t dream of coming in at 8:30 and counting the hours until 5. They don’t want one day to be indistinguishable from the next. If you really want your job description to be engaging, then write it for the people you want to attract. What will their contribution be? How will they be able to make an impact? Now by this I don’t mean cliché statements like “High visibility” and “cutting edge technologies”. That isn’t specific. How are they high visibility? What is your definition of cutting edge? If you have a tech role and the technology really is game changing, for all the love of all that is holy in this world, put it in there! I cannot state this point enough; atypical talent is not satisfied with typical impact. The people capable of changing the course of a company’s future want to know they will be empowered to do so. Let them know how and will what they will be able to do it and you will immediately make your opening significantly more attractive.

 

Talk about what the team has made in the past

Not enough companies do this but think about it from a candidate’s perspective. Here you are surfing the job boards looking for a truly exciting opportunity that motivates you to make a move. Job description after job description is the same. You are having a hard time distinguishing one from the next. Then you happen to find one that tells you about something significant or exciting in your industry. As it turns out the team that accomplished this has an opening. You can join the team that are doing the types of things you crave to be a part of. Well guess what, you can do that with your job description. If your team just built a new, exciting, cutting edge product that has impact the entire company, why in the hell would you not talk about that in a job description? I have done hiring for some really cool companies. Companies that have built things that are scientific marvels and companies that have built giant machines that sheer size is astounding. Things that engineers grow up dreaming about building. No matter what your company does, I bet that you can find things your team has done that job seekers would find exciting. If you aren’t including accomplishments of the team you are hiring for in your job description, then you are missing the boat big time. The type of talent you want to add to your team wants to know how they will be able to make an impact. What better way than to specifically talk about the past accomplishments of the team they would be joining?

There are a ton of things you can do to make a job description better and for that matter, your entire hiring process. We will get into a bunch of those in future blog posts but the take away today should be that there are easy ways to immediately make your job descriptions more competitive. If you are hiring a Mechanical Engineer and instead of creating a job description you simply pull out the one you used the last time your hired one you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Talk to your hiring manager. What has your team accomplished over the last few years? What cool technologies are you using now and what cool technologies are you looking into for the future? Why would someone who is already happily employed leave their job to come do the same thing for us? What is exciting? Ask these questions and find a way to get them into the description. Replace the same old same old with enticing glimpses into the progress and impact a person can make and you will find yourself with a much better chance of attracting the talent that success demands. I hope this post will help you inject some energy into your job descriptions. What did I miss? If you are a hiring manager, HRBP or a Recruiter, what else can you do to make a job description better? If you are an applicant, what is the coolest thing you have seen in a job description? Have a great day, thanks for reading and I look forward to your questions!

PS. If you liked this post, I will always appreciate people sharing it!

5 Dead Giveaways That a Recruiter Isn’t Worth Your Time

Last week I wrote a piece called 5 Strong Reasons to Answer the Phone When a Recruiter Calls You in which I made a case for talking to recruiters when they call you, regardless of whether or not you are looking for a new role. In the week since it’s been out it’s safe to say that it has been one of my most polarizing posts to date! Now if some of you were expecting the push back I received after the post to be a surprise, well, then I have some bad news for you. As a recruiter, I certainly expected some people to have a strong reaction. Guess what, to all of you who bashed recruiters after you read that article, you weren’t all wrong. Some of the criticisms were very fair and as a representative of the industry, I accept them. However you were only partially right. While there are a lot of bad recruiters out there who unfortunately give us all a bad name, there are also some great recruiters out there as well. Like any professional you will find that the vast majority of people who do this for any length of time will fall somewhere in the middle. However you will also find some people who perform above average consistently. The opposite is true as well, there is certainly a group of recruiters that don’t so the profession justice. However this isn’t an apology post, far from it. As one of the recruiters in the industry who considers himself to be one of the good guys, let me tell you exactly what you need to know to avoid talking with those recruiters who will ultimately leave a bad taste in your mouth. Below are three dead giveaways you can use to determine if this is a recruiter worth engaging. For your convenience I placed them in the order they would happen.

 

They send you a terrible, generic message with a lame subject for a title

 

How many of you have received a message that was you were immediately able to tell was a template that was sent out to 100 other professionals just like you? How many of you have received an email with the subject likes saying “Great Opportunity” or “Job Opening”? Let me save you some time, if you receive an email that says job opening, you can probably delete it and not worry about you missing out on you dream job. Good recruiters don’t use subject lines like this and really good recruiters are going to write you a message indicating they have taken the time to look at your profile. If you want to maximize your time and talk to good recruiters, then this can serve as an easy way to determine if they are worth that time. Now, plenty of good recruiters will utilize templates however a generic subject line or messages that  simply sell a role instead of asking if you have time to talk should give you an idea if that conversation is worth having.

 

They mention a role that is obviously not a fit

 

Another dead giveaway is when you receive an email about a role that would have made sense for you 5-10 years ago but at this point in your career is totally not a fit. What most likely happened is you were one of many people who received that same message and the sender wasn’t particularly choosy on who they messaged. If you get a message like this then having that conversation likely won’t be worth your time. I am sure this one is no surprise to many of you reading, in fact it was one of the comments I received the most of after my last post so I felt I had to include it on the list.

 

They have a very basic, underwhelming LinkedIn Profile*

 

Another tell is the recruiters LinkedIn profile. While not everyone value’s LinkedIn equally, for the most part recruiters understand what a valuable tool it is. I personally have worked very hard to build it out over the years and amass a large LinkedIn network (if we aren’t already connected add me here My LinkedIn Profile). So if you get a message from a recruiter, go check them out on LinkedIn. Once you arrive at their page you will very easily be able to gather a lot of helpful information. How long have they been in their current role? How long have they been recruiting? How many connections do they have (once you reach 500 connections it says 500+, if they have less than 500 they might be an indicator that they aren’t very well networked)? How many recommendations do they have? Do they have several roles on their page? Are those descriptions robust and well written? Do they have endorsements? If so how many? These are all things you can look at that will let you know if the recruiter who contacted you has good experience, attention to detail and is well networked. If they aren’t these things, do you really want this to be the person setting up your phone interviews and prepping you for your onsite interviews? One last thing, I added the asterisks because some of the best recruiters I have ever met had very basic LinkedIn profiles. Now most of them had been recruiter for 30 years and had reached a point where it wasn’t necessary for them to have LinkedIn in order to be successful. They are the exception, but I felt it was necessary to add this in.

 

They aren’t flexible with when they can speak with you

 

The best recruiters know that the best candidates are busy. If you get back in touch with them and they will only talk to you between the hours of 8-12 and 1-4:30 odds are they are not good recruiters. I have fielded many a call during lunch or after work or very early in the morning. If you are a recruiter who wants to succeed it’s the price of poker. A lot of your candidates are working and they don’t want to try and find a conference room at 10am on a Tuesday. They don’t want coworkers and managers wondering why they were gone for 30 minutes. I personally start my day at 6:30am so I am able to talk several calls before the traditional work day and I am always available to talk during the lunch hour. If you talk with a recruiter and they say you are going to have to make the call happen during the typical work hours you probably aren’t talk to an A player. My advice is to move on, you don’t want to work with someone who won’t be flexible for you anyway. If you want more advice on managing the recruiter relationship I have a few chapters on it in My eBook.

 

The conversation is absolutely about them

 

When you talk to a recruiter for the first time, pay close attention to the first couple minutes of the conversation. Who is it about? Is it about you? Are they saying “I” and “me” a lot? The fact of the matter is if the relationship starts being totally about them and a role they have then that’s the way the relationship will remain. A truly good recruiter will always make the conversation about you. What are your goals? What do you see yourself doing? Are you open to discussing new opportunities? What aren’t you being offered in your current role that you would like to find in your next position? What factors about an opportunity are important to you? Does that sound a lot better than, I have a role? My client needs. I am looking for. You get where I am going with this. It’s your career. If you take a new role, that recruiter doesn’t have to hand in his or her two week notice. They won’t have to box up their belongings. They won’t have to memorize a new route to work and traffic patterns. They won’t have a new boss, a new set of places to eat and a new team to assimilate into. This is about you and if the recruiter doesn’t get that, move on and find someone who will make it about you.

 

Well there you have it! Those are my 5 Dead Giveaways That a Recruiter Isn’t Worth Your Time. There are of course more than this but these are five really good indicators early on that will let you know that you can do better. So if you have read this far I have a challenge for you. What is the worst subject line you have ever received on a message you have gotten from a recruiter. These are always fun and since so many of you probably get messages like this all the time, I would love to see some examples below of terrible attempts to grasp your attention. It doesn’t have to be the subject line, any part of the message that was terrible will work too. For those of you who are feeling positive today please feel free to share the best subject lines you have received from a recruiter. Alright everyone, thanks again for reading and have an awesome day!