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!

9 Impactful Actions Entry Level Candidate Can Take to Jumpstart Their Careers

In my time in recruiting I have hired for a ton of different roles in many industries. I have filled roles doing everything from Paint Coatings Scientist to Production Manager at a Pizza Manufacturer to Crystal Growth Scientist. Each role I have recruiting on presents its own challenges.  However, out of all the role that I have filled, some of the most rewarding are actually entry level roles. For me there is just something exciting about finding a good fit for a company and also helping someone find their first full time gig. Most of the candidates who I end up placing in entry level roles have a level of excitement that you really only find when this type of novelty is involved. For many it is a point of validation for all the hard work they have out in over the years succeeding in schoolwork, networking and planning their future. With that being said, not all of these interviews got smoothly. In fact, I would say that they have a lower success rate than some of the more senior, niche engineering roles I have filled. You can mostly attribute this to lack of experience. A lot of these candidates who don’t have the best phone interviews or onsite interviews are really good candidates, it’s just new to them and they make a few mistakes that end up costing them. So today I am going to provide you with a few quick things you can do to make sure you go into that interview and nail it!

 

Get your LinkedIn profile looking awesome!

The first thing I recommend doing is making sure you have an awesome LinkedIn profile. Hopefully you already have a profile set up but if not do it right now! I am serious, open another tab, set it up and come back and ready this. If you aren’t familiar with LinkedIn, its social networking for professionals. You are able to add “connections”, follow companies, join groups, message fellow business professionals and potentially land yourself interviews. The fact of the matter is most corporate recruiters and agency recruiters use LinkedIn as one of their top tools for finding candidates. By having a great LinkedIn profile, you are increasing the likelihood that recruiters will reach out to you with potential opportunities. LinkedIn is nice in the sense that they walk you through the set up. They tell you to upload a picture, add experience, add education and add skills etc. Follow their instructions and make sure you are as detailed as possible and odds are you will have set up a solid LinkedIn profile and take a positive step towards employment. Overall setting up a LinkedIn page is pretty simple and most people have no issue doing it themselves but if you want expert assistance getting a fully optimized profile check out my Resource Page for the link on LinkedIn optimization.

 

Join entry level career groups in LinkedIn

Once you join LinkedIn you will see that you are able to follow companies, read cool articles and join groups. I am a big fan of joining groups if you are looking for opportunities. One of the things that makes LinkedIn work is that everyone can’t just message everyone. Now this is good for the most part but if you are looking for a job odds are you want hiring managers and recruiters to be able to reach out to you. In order to message someone on LinkedIn you have to be connected to them, have a special membership that costs money (for everyone else the site is free) or you have to share a group. If you are an Electrical Engineer and you join Entry Level Engineer groups, then odds are you will be giving access to recruiters who are looking for entry level candidates like you. So search LinkedIn, find some great groups and join. If you really want to maximize the benefit, feel free to be an active participant. Post articles, comment on others posts and be. Feel free to Join my LinkedIn Group!

 

Find recruiters who work in your area and connect with them

The next thing I would do is find local recruiters and connect with them. Now that could mean joining a LinkedIn group created for recruiters in your geographic area and sending them connection requests or perhaps you can google local recruiting companies and call in. That might be direct for some of you but as long as you are polite and not overly push you will find that most recruiters will appreciate the effort. The LinkedIn side of this should be easy, find recruiters who work in your geographic area or field and send them the request, that should take care of itself. As far as finding brick and mortar locations, just google them. Find local agencies, make sure they have a solid website and call in to introduce yourself and ask if they work with entry level candidates. You miss every shot you don’t take. And speaking of connecting with recruiters, feel free to Add me on LinkedIn!!

 

Make sure your resume is solid

This should go without saying but if you don’t have a good resume then you are in trouble. If you are an entry level candidate who just graduated, do you remember your classmates? You know the ones that walked across the stage before or after you? Well if they just graduated and you were in similar programs than odds are you are looking at some of the same jobs. Not to make this overly competitive but that is your competition now. You are pursuing the same companies and applying to the same jobs. Let us not forget about all the other schools with graduates who are now eager to join the workforce. The point I am trying to make here is that given there are a finite supply of openings you can ill afford to have a sub-par resume. They may not be fun but resumes are important. Few quick tips, you can google resume templates and find one you like and copy it. Also, go with traditional colors and fonts, we aren’t impressed with the bright colors. Lastly, personal pet peeve, drop the “objective” section of your resume. Why you ask? Because way more people are hurt by applying to a role that doesn’t exactly match their “objective” than people are ever helped by it. I never look at objectives and say “Oh my, they want to do the job I am hiring for, what stupendous luck!” If you are applying to a role, we already know you want it.

 

Upload your resume to Indeed

Once your resume rocks, upload it to Indeed. Indeed.com is a massive job and resume aggregator and its only getting bigger. Put your resume up there and you are again increasing the likelihood you are found. Simple as that.

 

Ask professors if they have industry contacts you can reach out to

DO you have any professors who you really got along with? Any of them have industry experience? If so, ask them if they know anyone who it make sense for you to reach out to regarding opportunities. Now, ideally you will have done great in this professor’s class and you will have cultivated a relationship with them. If not, they probably won’t have a lot of motivation to help you. But if so they can certainly become a resource for you. In my time in talent acquisition I have placed many a phone call to a professor at a school asking how I can share my jobs with the school’s students and alums. At the end of the day, they may not have any way to help you but again, you don’t know unless you try.

 

Network with classmates who have landed jobs already

Do you have any classmates you have already landed jobs? If so don’t just feel jealous, reach out and congratulate them! The fact of the matter is the last four years of your life wasn’t all about fund and learning but it was also about relationship building. You were networking without even knowing it. If you had classes with someone and you see they have landed a job at a company you respect, reach out to them! (By the way this all can be done on LinkedIn) Start up a dialogue with them. As them how they like the company. As the messaging back and forth wraps up let them know that you are still looking for that perfect fit and since they like the company so much and you are looking for similar things that you would appreciate hearing about any openings in the future. Simple as that. That could be the end of the conversation but they could also say, “well actually, we are hiring two more Jr Test Engineers, send me your resume and I will pass it along to my manager”. Now some of you are thinking, “well Ben, why would they do that?” They will do it for two reasons. The first is that generally speaking, people like helping other people. Sometimes it’s because they hope you could help them in a similar situation down the road and sometimes it’s just because they are genuinely nice people. The second reason is referral bonuses. Most companies have a referral program in which you are compensated when they hire someone you referred for an opening they have. This could be anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand. People like money, if they have an opening and a referral bonus and you weren’t a terrible classmate, they will probably help you.

 

Practice interview questions

One of the things I see often is that entry level candidates just aren’t prepared for the interview questions they get during phone interviews and in person interviews. While I know interviews are hard and you are new to them, you really don’t have an excuse. I don’t mean that to sound harsh but you have all the tools you need to not only have successful interviews, but to be great them. You have Google!!! You can google the term interview questions and hundreds of websites just like mine will pop up and help you. You can get a list of questions you will likely be asked, write out your answers on a piece of paper (trust me that will help you remember these answers) and practice answering them in a mirror. Get to a point where you say these answers confidently and enthusiastically and as it makes sense, passionately. Even if you aren’t as confident as you would like to be, fake it. Don’t worry, it will come with time. And while I have your attention, check out this post I did about that very topic 5 Important Interview Questions You Must Be Prepared to Answer.

 

Take the interview

The last piece of advice I have for you is take the interview. Think the company is just ok? Take the interview. They are in an industry you consider boring? Take the interview. You had never heard of them until they called you? Take the interview. I counsel people to interview often and there are two reasons to do this. The first is you never know when you are going to find the right opportunity. I have had conversations I thought would go nowhere turn into awesome opportunities. The fact is you never know until you actually go down that road. Secondly, even if you don’t take the job, the experience of interviewing will help you become a better interviewer. It’s all about repetition. In the same way Steph Curry has launched thousands upon thousands of shots over his lifetime to become arguably the best shooter in NBA history, you too are going to need to practice if you want to be great. And yes, that goes for interviews as well. Now, I am not advocating the wasting of people’s time. Go into every interview with an open mind and if it isn’t a fit, then it isn’t a fit. But trust me, getting those reps help.

 

Well there you have it. I hope you found these useful, actionable and easy. Do some or all of these things and you will have an easier transition into working life. Always remember, preparation is key. You will never leave an interview saying “Well, I blew that because I was too well informed” but most people can look back at interview they probably could have done better in, including myself. Lastly, is there anything I missed? Are there any good, easy and quick things entry level candidates can to do position themselves to land a job quicker? If so comment below, I would love to read them. Thanks for reading, I hope this help and have a great day!

Who is ready to fail? Plus my thoughts on Brene Brown

It is Memorial Day and I am currently sitting on an airplane going from Austin to Atlanta. When I land I will have about half an hour or so to get to my next flight that will bring me from Atlanta, home to Milwaukee. I spent the last several days down here after attending the Indeed Interactive event, Transformational Talent. It was a great event with wonderful speakers and a preview of some really cool technology Indeed is going to be rolling out. Some of it may very well change the landscape of recruiting. While there I attended a talk given by one of the keynote speakers Brene Brown. I had never heard of her before going down there but apparently she is a pretty big deal and has some very highly respected TED talks. She is a PhD who focuses on being vulnerable.

Along with giving extremely interesting speeches on vulnerability, she also consults with companies on how they can shape their culture in a way that empowers their employees to be better. Very cool stuff in my opinion. While I was listening to her I decided I wanted my next post to be on failure. Failure is something that is extremely relevant to job seekers. You might fail to answer an interview question as well as you might like. You might fail at securing an offer after interviewing. Hell, you might get lost on the way to your interview and fail to show up.

However, that is not the failure we will be covering today. I was asked in an interview once, what has been my biggest career failure thus far. It is a great question and it’s a question that at the time caught me off guard. You see, when you are conducting an interview, you are looking for a variety of things when you ask a question. Outside of the answer given by the candidate there are so many relevant things you can look for. How long did the candidate take to answer the question? Did they say it with the command in their voice that demonstrates confidence? Did they answer the question directly or are they doing their best impression of a politician and skirting the question.

This specific question is great because most people won’t have an answer to give right away. You see most candidates have answers prepared for a variety of questions. They have example after example of “Tell me about a time when…” questions. Most have a “weakness: prepared that makes them look like a dedicated worker committed to overcoming obstacles. Most can tell you why they left their prior employers and do so with the type of reasoning that has you thinking, “Well yea, that makes sense to me”. However most won’t be prepared to talk about their greatest failure.

So when you ask this question you get to see how fast they think and you get what you simply don’t get with most questions, some authentic. Because interviews won’t have planned for this question you are getting an authentic response. Those are the best. If you practice a list of questions and then get those questions during an interview, they are easy to nail. It’s like knowing what defense your opponent will run and being able to specifically game plan for that defense.

However since you are reading this post right now that should never be you again. You are aware this question exists and that there is at least some probability that you may be asked it. So, take a minute to think about it. What is your greatest career failure so far? In a way this question is a lot like the, “what is your biggest weakness” question. In fact, because in a sense it’s impossible to surprise someone with the “biggest weakness” question this could be considered the new version of it.

When it comes to answering them you essentially want to do very similar things. You want to be authentic and give an actual example. It’s best to give an example that actually happened if possible because it can be easy to tell if something is made up. Secondly you need it to be an actual failure. If your failure is a thinly veiled success your response comes off as disingenuous as well as ridiculous. We know it’s a hard question if we are asking it but the fact of the matter is that doesn’t give you license to just not answer it. Certainly it is your choice but my advice is to give something that is an actual misstep, everybody makes them. Thirdly you the answer you give needs to be a two part answer. Part one is what you did wrong, part two is how that has positively impacted you and impacted you for the better moving forward in your career. The fourth thing is the example you give shouldn’t be something that is far too off-putting to look past. Ideally this mistake is a misstep and not a symptom of a terrifying character flaw that is going to make it difficult for them to justify hiring you. You want to be real but you don’t want them to walk away from the interview saying this person could pose significant risk to our company if we decide to hire them.

Answering this interview question correctly kind of reminds me of what Brene Brown so excellent covered in the speaking engagement I attended. There is a certain power in vulnerability. Again, this shouldn’t be something that gives them pause about what you might add to the organization but if you are able to give them an example that is authentic and impactful then you might come off looking like someone capable of growth. Recruiters are people too and I have made my fair share of mistakes. We don’t expect our candidates to be infallible.

So think of something you have done, own the failure and don’t distribute the blame to others incapable of defending themselves and explain why in the end it turned out to be positive lesson for you. Candidates usually spend the entirety of an interview trying to showcase why they are the perfect addition to a company and quite frankly, that is a winning approach. However, if you are given the opportunity to appear vulnerable and through story demonstrate your ability to learn, it’s certainly something you should be prepared to take advantage of.




5 Important Interview Questions You Must Be Prepared to Answer

Point blank, if you are not ready to answer these five interview question than you are not ready to interview. The five questions I discuss in this post are not groundbreaking nor are they surprise questions that will catch you off guard. In fact, most of these questions you have been asked before or you are probably at least aware of. If you haven’t cheated and looked ahead try this. Write down what you think the five interview questions are. If any of you are able to guess them all right I would love to hear about it. I don’t think any of you will but if you do, please feel free to share. If you are able to guess four of them correctly I will also be impressed. These are standard questions but you would be surprised how many times I am conducting an interview just to see that the person is unprepared to answer a few of them. These questions are so commonplace that it wouldn’t surprise me to be asked all five of these during any given interview. Although these questions may appear both simple and straightforward, if you find yourself unable to give a good answer to any of them, you will most likely have to continue your job search. With that being said lets jump right into it!

 

Why are you looking for a new role?

 

I have never conducted an interview without asking this question. The answer gives the interviewer so much information. It tells you what motivates the candidate, it can tell you how their standing in the company is, what they like or dislike in their current role and more importantly, a ton of information the candidate will offer up without you even asking them. You would be shocked at the things candidates will say when asked this question. I have been told things like “I just hate my boss” or “I am really bored in my current role”. People often tip their hand that it is a pay issue or perhaps their company doesn’t offer advancement opportunities. I mean this is the nicest way possible but this question can be a landmine. In this metaphor being unprepared to answer this interview question is like walking through a mine field without a metal detector. In the moment, who knows what you will say. Never walk into an interview or pick up the phone without knowing exactly how you will answer this question. My suggestion is make it about your growth and development. Make it about your admiration for the company. Take a look at the job description and make it about something you would like to be doing more that you will have the opportunity to do if you are selected for the role. There are many ways to answer this question both correctly and incorrectly, just make sure you are prepared. A few months back I had a series on how to answer it correctly with this 3 Excellent Ways to Answer the Interview Question “Why are you looking for a new role?” and how to answer it incorrectly with this 3 Terrible Ways to Answer the Interview Question “Why Are You Looking For a New Role?”.

 

What about this role is intriguing to you?

 

 

You cannot afford to not nail this question. This is the recruiter or the hiring manager asking you simply, hey, why do you want this job. If you aren’t prepared to answer this question then you did something drastically wrong during your interview preparation.  Now some of you are probably saying, Ben, that is the easiest question. Of course I know how to answer that question. Nobody is really messing this question up. Wrong, most of you would be shocked how often I get a terrible answer to this interview question. So often I ask this question just to have the candidate unenthusiastically tell me it’s similar to what I have done in the past. Really? Really, that’s it? And yes folks, often that is it. When I get an answer like that to me it feels like the candidate isn’t really interested in the role. This question should be easy to answer. This should be the layup of interview questions but so often candidates end up totally whiffing on this question. The thing that is most frustrating about this is that it is such an easy question to answer that can be correctly answered in so many ways. You could say you really respect the company. You can say you see the role as the next step in your progression. Some of my favorite answers are when people reference the job description and tell me specifically what it is in the job description that spoke to them. Have something prepared and then answer the question with some enthusiasm!

 

What are you making in terms of compensation?/What are you targeting in terms of compensation?

 

Every recruiter worth their salt is going to ask you about compensation during your interview. The really good ones will ask you at every stage of the interview process. Of all the questions in this post I guarantee this is the question people like the least. In fact I bet right now, as you are reading this, many of you are thinking in your head “I hate it when recruiters ask that question”. It’s no secret that candidates don’t all love discussing this question. Guess what, not all recruiters love this part of the conversation either. We know it has the potential to be awkward or even hostile. And trust me, none of us want that.  The fact of the matter is we have to ask it. If a recruiter doesn’t ask your this question during your interview they are doing a disservice to their hiring manager. Let me explain why. Imagine you are a hiring manager and a recruiter sends you the perfect candidate. Reading through the resume and phone screen notes it hits you, “this is it, I must hire this person!” You call the recruiter immediately to give them feedback and to arrange further interviews. You pull up outlook and you figure out a time everyone can do the interview. The candidate requests that day off work. Everyone conducts the meeting and everyone loves the candidate. They are perfect for the role. It is decided that you must put together an offer and extend it. You go through all that work to get this done and you call excited as can be to welcome this person to the team. You call them, extend what you consider to be a strong offer, in fact it’s the strongest offer you can muster during this difficult business climate. However you extend the offer just for the candidate to turn you down as they were expecting an offer 25% higher than you came in. There is nothing you can do, the candidate is gone. Now, don’t you wish your recruiter had let you know up front what their salary expectations were or perhaps not even sent them at all? I know I would. Well this is the kind of thing that happens when you don’t make sure you know this information right away. I won’t tell you how to answer that question here, that topic is a post or more in of itself. However I will say this, know what you will say before the question is asked and when you answer, do your absolute best to not be adversarial.

 

Why do you think you would be a good fit for this role?

 

If you can’t answer this question you might as well stand up, shake the hand of the interviewer and walk out to your car to drive home. It’s the most basic question that you need to be able to answer. However because it’s so simple people often don’t practice it and because they don’t practice it they often end up answering it in a way that doesn’t do their skills and experience justice. Free throws are the easiest shot in basketball but you would be hard pressed to find a pre-basketball player who doesn’t dedicated time to master these shots. You know this question is coming, be prepared to knock it out of the park (that’s enough sports metaphors for one article). My advice on this is be able to talk about how your experience and job duties in prior roles overlap the job description. It’s almost fail proof.

 

What are your long term career goals?

 

Depending on the interviewer you may or may not be asked this question. However if you are asked this question by the interviewer, you better be prepared to answer it. The thing that is tricky about this question is you might end up saying something that undermines your perceived interest in the current role. I recommend saying it like this, “While I am currently really happy doing ABC, I really want the next step in my career to be XYZ”. Saying it this way lets them know you won’t walk into the role as a flight risk but also lets them know where you want to go long term. You also want to make sure you don’t mention something that obviously won’t be a fit for the company. I have done interviews representing an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and I have had candidates tell me that they are interested in getting into green energy. Now, while I think that is not only cool but extremely important, it does give me pause about their interest in the role we are talking about right now. I am not so naive to believe everyone I talk to is interviewing for their dream role or the last role they ever plan to occupy. However if someone says something like that I immediately wonder where else they are interviewing and I try to think about the probability for success if we were to both offer this candidate the role. Make sure you have a well thought out answer ready and be prepared to deliver it enthusiastically.

 

Well there you have it. Those are my 5 important interview questions you must be prepared to answer. However you decide to answer these questions make sure you are sure of your answers and you answer the questions with both conviction and passion. Ok, so how many of you guessed the questions. Feelm free to comment below with how many you got right. Thanks for reading and as always, have an awesome day!

The Hardest Interview Question I Have Ever Been Asked

This is actually a post I have wanted to write for a really long time. In addition to me personally interviewing people pretty much every day for the last six years or so, I have also been on a lot of interviews. As a recruiter, when someone reaches out to me regarding an opportunity I feel almost obligated to hear them out. I mean how could I not? I have personally called thousands of people out of the blue to tell them about a job they knew nothing about. Many of those people have said they aren’t looking and ended up taking a job. That exact scenario has happened to me twice as well. I’ve been contacted and out of professional courtesy I have listened and ultimately ended up making a move even though I had no desire to do so initially. Anyway, the point I am, getting at is that I am not averse to hearing people out when it comes to a potentially good opportunity. Over the last six or so years I have had many interviews. I also consider myself to be an excellent interviewer. Conducting them every day and hearing the bad answers I should avoid as well as being able to pick up some real gems along the way has really given me a competitive advantage in my opinion. However today I want to tell you about one set of interviews in particular that really gave me a run for my money. Also, if you read through this post I would love to get feedback to see what the toughest interview question you have ever been asked is. Many of my posts get shared on LinkedIn and commented on in the groups they are posted do. In the comments below share the toughest interview question you have ever received. If you happen to share a really hard question, I will send you a copy of my My eBook for free. Anyway let’s get to the questions. Below I will share the questions I was asked during this interview and then I will try and dissect what the hiring manager was trying to find out by asking the questions. The first two are difficult, but I saved the hardest question I have ever been asked until last!

 

What is your biggest professional regret?

 

When I was asked this question I was not prepared to answer it at all. If you have read my blog posts in the past then you know that preparation is something I consider to be absolutely paramount to interviewing success. However not only had I never asked this question but I never even heard it before. Typically when I interview every question I am asked is a question I have answered before or I know how I plan on answering it when it comes up. Like two of the three questions on this list, it required me to think on my feet. So let’s dissect the question so we can figure out the best approach to successfully answering the question. This to me is similar to the classic “what is your biggest weakness” question. However everyone knows that question and in all likelihood has a prepared answer that ultimately makes them look good in some way. So while that focuses on a skill or lack thereof, this focuses on something you did in your career that you would do differently knowing what you know now. There are three keys to answering this question. The first thing is you don’t want to voluntarily admit something that makes you look horrible. “Well one time I had a boss who was an idiot so I slashed his tires and I really regret doing that because I got fired.” That would be a terrible way to answer that question. The second is you need it to be something you do that you were able to learn from. If what you reference is something that just happened to you and you moved on with your life, you aren’t taking advantage of the opportunity to showcase growth. The last thing you must do it be positive. If you are able to admit something that isn’t terrible, something you were able to learn from and ultimately appear positive, as if it ended up being a good thing, then you have done a great job answering this. However the caveat here is that it must be significant. If you pick an extremely small example that it’s going to be hard to believe it’s your biggest mistake and likely won’t satisfy the person asking the question.

 

What task in your current job do you dislike the least?

 

I hate being asked this question but it’s hard for me to not also love the question. If you really think about it, this is a super hard question to answer. Why is it hard? Well the big reason is that every interview you ever have for the most part will have overlap with your current job. Unless you’re going through a major career change there is a pretty high likelihood that you are going to be doing some of the same things. So, if you point out something you dislike that is a major component of your next role, obviously that is not a good thing. Also, when you talk about something you dislike, it can be pretty easy to get negative quickly. The key here is to make sure it’s something you won’t be responsible for at your next role as well as make sure you are the least negative you can be about the task. For example, what do you think sounds better, “I hate using our current ATS. It is slow, it never works and in most cases I have just given up using it. Our company never replaces anything, they are so cheap. That’s another reason I am looking.” Or “One of the challenges of my current role is the functionality of our ATS. At times it is challenging. In order to make sure this isn’t an obstacle for me I typically print documents out ahead of time so I can be adequately prepared for my meetings.” Do you see what I mean? You can answer this question without being incredibly negative and you can also use it as an opportunity to showcase your problem solving abilities.

 

If we hire you, in six months, what will I dislike about you?

 

There it is. The hardest interview question I have ever been asked. I will start of by saying that this wasn’t the friendliest interview I have ever taken part of. This question was pretty emblematic of the overall tone of the interview. Think about it for a minute. This question is so difficult because it’s basically saying to you, in six months when you have learned all the systems and processes and are finally up to speed, what do you do that will make you a less than optimal work in my eyes. Wow. Sometimes I think that questions like this are asked not only for the answers but also so that hiring managers are able to assess how quickly you think on your feet. That’s a question that I was in no way prepared to answer and I would wager that most applicants don’t have a canned answer for that question. This one is difficult because you can’t say something like “well most people don’t like that I occasionally sing show tunes in my cubicle”. If someone is willing to ask the question they will be willing to push back to get an answer that works for them and satisfies their criteria. What’s difficult is that you really can’t put a positive spin on this question. It’s not what will annoy me but ultimately is something you will fix and will be considered a strength. They are literally asking you for a professional flaw that will grate on them. Some of you are probably thinking “well I would just say something very minor and move on”. Maybe, maybe they would hear that and move to the next question but maybe they wouldn’t, The hiring manager answering me brushed off my first answer and probed for something I did that would really annoy him. I don’t remember what my first answer was but I remember that it wasn’t good enough. Ultimately what I ended up saying is that I am loud. As a recruiter you are on the phone frequently and more than a handful times people have stopped by me to kindly let me know they need be to be less loud. I don’t know if that’s a great answer. If I had to do it again I think I would try and find something that isn’t a favorable characteristic but also something that wouldn’t impact the success I would have on the job. That being said, I am not sure what that is and I don’t really have a great answer for you. Maybe not what you were expecting but that’s why it’s the hardest question I have ever been asked during an interview.

 

 

Well hopefully my answers for the first two were helpful and at least knowing the third question exists, in its own way is helpful. If you can think of an answer to that question I would love to hear it below. Also, like I mentioned up top, if you have a more difficult question please feel free to share it. I will pick a few of the toughest and send them a copy of my My eBook. If you want to check out some good answers to questions check out 5 Excellent Questions You Should Ask in Your Interview, one of my more popular posts I have written this year. Thanks for reading and have an awesome day!

7 Horrible Phrases to Avoid Saying During Your Interview

This post focuses on phrases you absolutely need to drop from your vocabulary when it comes to both phone interviews and onsite interviews. If you have read my blog or My eBook then odds are you know the value I place on preparation. Those of you who go into your interviews prepared to field a variety on behavioral interview questions as well as properly vocalize your skills are giving yourself the best chance to do the one thing this blog is all about, get the job! However, some of us do so much preparation on the things we need to say and the topics that we want to touch on that we sometimes kind of forget that there are those topics we absolutely need to avoid. Now I know I am probably going to get a couple of comments where people are saying “well duh Ben, obviously I wouldn’t say that.” Well if that is your response to every single one of these great job! However I am writing this because I have conducted interviews every single week for the last six years and I can tell you that I actually hear most of these weekly. Some of them seem innocent and perhaps you thought nothing of it but let me be clear in saying that in a competitive market where the attractive jobs are few and far between, sometimes it’s the little things that can be the deciding factor. In the words of Confucius, “A single grain of rice cab tip the scale”. I know this to be true. I have seen it over and over again where we end up with two great candidates, with similar everything and the decision comes down to a single thing said by one of the candidates that didn’t quite sit well with someone on the interview panel. That fact of that matter is, if you can only hire one candidate and the two you have are great, you have to find a way to differentiate them. Don’t be the person on the wrong end of that decision. Let’s get into it!

 

So what does your company do? (or any question available online)

 

I wanted to start with this one because it happens to be a pretty big pet peeve of mine. When people ask me what my company or what my client does it feels as if you thought to yourself “Hey, instead of preparing for this interview…why don’t I just not?” Or “Oh my god!!! Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 2 just came out on Netflix! Instead of preparing for my interview, I think I am going to binge watch that!!!” And while I totally get your enthusiasm for a pretty entertaining show, it’s the wrong choice. You can re-watch an episode, you can’t redo an interview. My rule of thumb is this, if information is available on the internet, then I’d avoid asking it during an interview. The more easily assessable it is or more essential it is to the company, the worse you asking about it will be perceived. Be prepared, don’t shine a spot light on the fact that you aren’t by asking a question you shouldn’t need to ask.

 

Any phrase containing an expletive

 

So let’s chalk this one up as an obvious one. If you are interviewing, don’t use expletives or offensive words. Here is a nice rule of thumb. If you wouldn’t say it in front a classroom of the second graders, avoid saying it in your interview. Now look, some of you might think “Come one Ben, you are being old school. People are more relaxed nowadays”. I would counter by saying, perhaps you are right. In fact, let’s say for the sake of argument that you are right 50% of the time. 50% percent, hypothetically, of the people who will interview you won’t care. Now under the assumption that’s correct, which I think is generous, are you able to tell which are which? Let’s look at it from another angle. Do you ever think it is to your benefit to swear during an interview? I can’t ever imagine a hiring manager saying to me “Ben, she was great. Everything we are looking for in fact….but…there’s just this one thing…she didn’t use any vulgarity during the interview.”  Ridiculous right? I say err on the side of caution and avoid it altogether.

 

Any phrase that expresses political views

 

This one should be another no brainer but it’s not. This one baffles me more than most actually. The thing I think is most puzzling about this is that I think people just make the assumption your views are similar to theirs. Let me be as clear as possible on this avoid, don’t talk politics during an interview. First of all, it’s probably 50/50 that they have the same political beliefs as you, maybe worse. But, even if they agree with you, they might think to themselves “wow, that is some poor judgement bringing that up during an interview”. If someone had an identical political opinion as me and brought it up during the interview I wouldn’t be thinking, “wow, now that’s a candidate with a fantastic grasp regarding the interworking of our government and the political landscape”. Rather I would be thinking “Wow, bringing that up was unnecessary and showcased very poor judgement. I wonder what else they think is appropriate to bring up during an interview”. Bottom line is this, even if you don’t offend them with your opposing views, you might be giving them pause regarding your judgement. It’s better to avoid it.

 

I am looking for a new role because I want more money

 

You can find this mentioned in one of my most popular posts about how not to answer why you are looking for a new to here 3 Terrible Ways to Answer the Interview Question “Why Are You Looking For a New Role?”. That link will give you more complete answers but I’ll give you the quick reasoning here. One of the things recruiters look for is your motivation. What is the reason you are looking? The answer we come away with makes a significant impact on how you are both viewed as well as pursued as a candidate. Finding out that your principle motivator is financial is never a good thing. And you know what, money is important and maybe it is your biggest motivator, we still hate hearing that, Here are some things to say instead of that 3 Excellent Ways to Answer the Interview Question “Why are you looking for a new role?”.

 

I am not really looking for a new job, I just thought I would do the call to see what’s up

 

This one another one I get now and then that I find kind of funny. The thing is, I get what most of the people who say this are trying to do. They are trying to gain leverage by positioning themselves as a passive candidate. By appearing as if they aren’t in the market they are hoping to gain leverage for negotiations down the road. However saying it like this is just kind of poor execution. Let me draw a real life example. Imagine you are on a date and you say “I am really glad you let me take you out to dinner tonight, I am having a great time” and in response they say “Well I wasn’t really interested in going but I had nothing in my fridge and had never been to this restaurant.” How incredibly deflating would that be? And while no, you sating this won’t hurt my feelings, it will make me feel like I may be wasting my time. If you want to position yourself as a passive candidate you might want to say something along the lines of “While I am very happy in my current role and wasn’t actually looking, I have always admired your company and the role seemed to be such a great fit for my skills etc.”  This accomplishes the goal of positioning you with leverage but also showcases your interest in the role.

 

I didn’t get along with my boss at that job

 

I have mentioned this in the past but it’s worth mentioning again. You have nothing to gain by saying you didn’t get along with an ex-employer. While to some this is obvious I hear this frequently. Again, you have nothing to gain by saying this and in addition to that certain interviewers will hear this and think, this candidate must be difficult. You never want that to be the takeaway. We have all had bosses we didn’t get along with or bosses we thought weren’t good at their job. I know I have however I have never once said it in an interview. You know why? Because it can never help you but it can certainly paint you in a light that won’t work in your favor. Regardless of how terrible your boss is/was, shy away from mentioning.

 

Any mis-truths…especially involving your past employment

 

I have a pretty strong stance on lying during the interview process. Companies invest a lot in making a hire, so if there is a stone they are able to turn, you better believe they are going to turn it over. Not only that but if you have spent any amount of time in the same geographic area, odds are someone you are interviewing with knows someone you have cross paths with. It can be as simple as a text. “Hey Bill, did Jim leave on his own or was he fired from ABC Company.” Stories don’t match? Well then you are still looking for a job. You are much better off telling the truth, even if it’s a truth that doesn’t make you look so great. You know the question will come, prepare and present it in the best possible light. The fact is that a lot of people actually lie about things that wouldn’t keep them from getting the job in the first place. Then when the employer finds out, they decide they can’t hire you, not because of what you lied about but rather because you lied. Employers are much more likely to look the past that you were let go from a role then they are to look past the fact that you lied about it. Skills can be taught, integrity cant.

 

Well there you have it. Those are the 7 Horrible Phrases to Avoid Saying During Your Interview. If you can avoid saying these seven things you will be putting yourself in a much better position to nail the interview and get the job. Recently I have gotten a lot of great comments, especially in the LinkedIn groups regarding additional points. Can any of you think of things I missed that people say? I would love to hear any of the others. As always, thanks for reading and I hope this helped!

7 Crucial Factors That Are More Important Than Salary When Considering a New Role

When most consider whether or not they should accept a new role the first thing that they look at is compensation. What is the salary? While I understand that, we all work for a paycheck, it isn’t the only thing you need to consider. In fact, in the long run, the other factors listed below will probably have a much greater impact on your day to day happiness and your career. So while yes, please make sure every move you make is a move that makes sense from a compensation standpoint, don’t make that move without considering the other factors listed in this post.  Some of these will be pieces of information available to anyone with a computer and other factors will be things you can only know if you have had the chance to interview. Either way they are all crucial in your attempt to make sure you are making the right move.

 

Is this a resume builder?

 

So the first thing consider before applying for a job is how this job will impact the story I am able to tell with my resume. Imagine you are in your next big interview and you really want the job. The hiring manager is looking at your resume, looks up at you and asks “Why did you leave ABC Company to go to XYZ Company?”.  Will you be able to articulate an answer that makes sense and positions you as the type of person this manager wants on their team? If no, then you might have a problem. Many of the other things I put on this list might be no brainers to many of you however this is often overlooked. If you go from a people manager to an individual contributor role, you had better be able to give a great reason as to why that made sense for you. Jumps like that can often be considered red flags and if someone considers it a red flag you can rest assured that they are going to ask you about it. If they ask you about it and you want to continue in the interview process then you better have a pretty good reason as to why you made the decision you made.

 

What are the duties of the job?

 

How many of you have looked at a posting with the title of the job you are interested in and applied without reading the entire description? I know I have. You figure, I know this is the type of role that I am interested in, I know what this type of person does in their role, what is the point of reading the description  right? Wrong. What a Manufacturing Engineer does for one company can greatly differ from what they might do for another. What if a company you are interested in applying at has you responsible for a task you don’t do in your current role and absolutely hate? It might impact your interest in that new role right? You can get a lot of this information from the job description but a ton of this information can  be obtained during the interviews as well. For example, when you are meeting with your potential new boss and it’s time for you to ask questions, you can say something like this “I have read over the job description and it sounds like something I would be a great fit for. However I wanted to ask you, what are the most important tasks that will be performed by the person who takes this role?” That right there will give you a great idea of your day to day but also the inflection, enthusiasm and order of the tasks can give you information on what will monopolize your time and in what arenas your performance will shape your boss’s view of you as an employee. Another great question to ask is “For the first six months, what projects or tasks are a priority for the person who ultimately takes this role?” This question will let you see what you are walking into more clearly than most job descriptions out there. Don’t like the answer to this question? Maybe you should consider pulling out of the process.

 

What kind of financial state is the company in?

 

If you do any kind of research I have to imagine you will come across this information. That being said, I simply could not leave it off this list. It is simply to important not to mention. A simple google search should give you everything you need in terms of information here. Look for headlines, perhaps check out their stock if they are public. What has their last 52 weeks looked like? If you are doing research and you see that the company is having a really tough time financially it is certainly something that needs to factor into your decision. I have spoken with many candidates who made a change just to find themselves looking for a job again when the company they recently joined had a layoff. What makes this even more important is that if you get hired by a company and they decide to do a layoff, who do you think they let go first, the new hire or someone who has been there for five years. While a lot of factors go into that, personally I don’t like my odds much in that situation. That being said, there are times when it makes sense to go to a company who doesn’t have the rosiest outlook financially. Maybe it is a huge promotion for you. Perhaps they have seen the worst of it and should soon be on the way up. Perhaps you are being hired into a role so niche and critical that by its very nature it affords you stability. So while yes, sometimes it is worth the gamble, it is something you should be very aware of either way before you decide to make a move.

 

What kind of expectations are you walking into?

 

Just as important as everything else we have already covered is the expectations you will be expected to meet. This is especially true in roles that are performance based like sales. That being said, almost every role in existence has measurables. It behooves you to know what these expectations are. It is important that you set yourself up for success. It is almost an ironclad rule in recruiting that it is far easier to find a job when you have one then when you don’t. So if you accept that as fact, which you should, it really helps illustrate why this point is so crucial. The last thing you want to do is leave a role you are comfortable in, only to find yourself in a situation where you are unable to meet the goals set forth or doing so makes you miserable. A good way to find this out is use the interview to ask your future boss “What are the expectations or goals this person is responsible for meeting?” This answer should give you a pretty clear understanding of what you need to do and the emphasis placed on meeting these goals. Changing your place of employment is stressful enough without walking into a situation you feel you aren’t capable in succeeding in.

 

What is the culture like?

 

It is has been said that culture eats strategy for breakfast. In my opinion that’s true, the best culture is going to attract the best talent and at the end of the day talent is king. The best talent gives you the best chance of winning at whatever it is that you are doing. In my opinion you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t so everything in your possibility to find out as much about the culture as you can before you accept a role. When you are onsite, how do the people look? Do they look happy? Ask the receptionist what their favorite part about working there is. You also want to ask the hiring manager about the culture on their team. They may not tell you 100% of the truth but their answer should shed some light on it. You also want to go to sites like Glassdoor. They have reviews from employees and former employees. If you do that make sure you look at several. You don’t want one disgruntled review to incorrectly shift your perspective of the company. Rather look at a bunch, are you noticing a trend? Is it a trend you are comfortable with? Lastly, check out LinkedIn. Are you connected with anyone who works there or has work there? You can do a search on LinkedIn using the Advanced tab. See the images below, click the advanced tab in pic one and it will take you to search screen in pic 2. Simply put in the company name and click 1st connections and search. You will be able to see every connection who works there or has in the past. Shoot them a message. Ask them how they like working there. That should help you get a clear picture of the culture.

Advanced

Advanced 2

 

What kind of career development is offered?

 

While all of these are important pieces of information for you to have, for me this is one I absolute must have a clear answer on. I am the type of person who has a need to constantly develop, get better and expand. Some companies will enable you to do and that some wont. Some companies will have the resources to help you develop, some wont. So companies are going to have the programs in place to facilitate this development and some wont. You need to know what kind of company you are joining when it comes to employee development if this is in any way valuable to you. For me its huge so I need to know. This is another one where you can research it in multiple ways. While you are on glassdoor researching culture, look for employees talking about the development being part of the company afforded them. Reach out to people via LinkedIn and see what if anything they took advantage of as employees. Lastly and most importantly, ask in your interview. Not only does it look good to most employers that you are interested in continuing to develop as a professional (if it doesn’t look good to them do you really want to work there anyway) it’s also a great way to get the answer you need. If the manager can tell you what is available to you and perhaps even gives you examples of the programs their staff has taken advantage of that is gold. If they struggle to give you examples it means one of three things. The first possibility is they don’t really have anything in terms of development. The second is that the boss isn’t aware because there staff hasn’t taken advantage of it, which probably means it isn’t that important to them. The third possibility is they have severe short term memory loss. All joking aside its either example one or example two and quite frankly neither would sit great with me.

 

What is your new boss like?

 

Of all the factors this is the one that carries the most weight. I have had bad bosses and have a couple bosses that were great. In my experience nothing impacts your day to day more than the quality of and your relationship with your boss. If you meet with the boss and it doesn’t go really well or you don’t particularly care for the boss, you need to very strongly consider your options. For me if I don’t like the boss, have some kind of chemistry and feel like they will invest in me, none of the rest of this matters. Google or Apple could call me tomorrow and if I don’t mesh with the person who will be my new boss they are going to get a thanks but no thanks.  A boss who believes in you will invest in you. Think about career development. Do you think a boss you don’t get along with is likely to encourage you to take development opportunities? Speak highly regarding your potential to others in the organization? Get the best out of you? Push you forward when it comes time to potentially interviewing for advancement opportunities? I’ve heard the saying “Don’t choose a position or a company, choose a boss” and while I believe in pragmatically looking at every component and then making a decision, if you are looking for a criteria to assign a higher value, pick this one. A good boss can not only make your next job great but it can make your career. It can lead you to be promoted to the next role or perhaps you could even get taken to your next company if your boss leaves and is able to take staff with them. It can lead to you being given opportunity that diversifies your skillset to make you invaluable.

 

So there you have it, those are my 7 Crucial Factors That Are More Important Than Salary When Considering a New Role. Again, I don’t mean to downplay finances in the decision making process. That has always been important to me. However if you don’t take a look an examine these other factors as well you might end up regretting the move. So what did you think? Did I miss any factors that are just as important? Please feel free to comment on my blog or in the groups you find this in, whether it be Google+ or LinkedIn. If you like this post please feel free to use the icons to share with your social networks. If you have time, head on over to my most recent articles on automating your job search, 3 Essential Tactics to Automating Your Job Search. Thanks and have a great day!

3 Essential Tactics to Automating Your Job Search

We have all been there.  The day has come that you have decided you are no longer satisfied where you currently are and it’s time to pursue other employment options. Maybe you have another rough day in a string of too many rough days or perhaps you have just come to the realization that your current employer can’t offer you what it is you are looking for. So what do you do? You go home, flip open the laptop and you update your resume.  Since you probably haven’t touched it since you got your most recent position you have to add this role, mention any updates to educations or certifications and make sure address and phone number are correct. Once you have done, that, then it’s time to get yourself out there. You pull up your internet browser of choice and you start looking for jobs that might interest. You find them and you apply one by one. It’s a painstaking process but there is no other way, right? Wrong! There is a better way and this post is all about the 3 essential job search automation tactics that are going to make your life so much easier when it comes to finding a job. Also, stay reading to the very end, I have a question I want to ask and get your feedback on after I show you these steps that are going to simplify your search.

 

  1. Have a great, optimized LinkedIn profile

Now to some of you this is going to be an obvious suggestion, “well of course Ben” you are thinking. I would counter with two points. The first being if you feel this way then you have no idea how many people tell me they don’t have one or they have one but they set it up forever ago and never use it. The second point I would make it that there is a significant difference between having a LinkedIn profile and having a full optimized LinkedIn profile. So why is it important to have a LinkedIn profile or better yet, an optimized LinkedIn profile? The answer is that because there are over 600,000 recruiters on LinkedIn and if you add in HR Professionals you are looking at over 1.5 million. Like me, many of them creating a LinkedIn profile for the sole reason of finding candidates like you! As a recruiter, there are many tools we can use to find candidates but from my experience, the most commonly used tool is LinkedIn Recruiter. LinkedIn Recruiter is basically a membership level that adds functionality to help HR Professionals or Recruiters search for and contact candidates. From my experience, it is an absolute favorite among those in search. So with that being said, the point of having a great LinkedIn profile is that it becomes a tool to help people find you. Having a great LinkedIn profile does the leg work for you. Once you have a great LinkedIn profile recruiters will find you and pitch jobs to you. How great is that? You set it up, they come and find you and pitch you on opportunities. That way you can do your research on a company and decide which ones you want to pursue. So how do you make sure that you get found?  Well let me show you what we see and what we do to find you. Below is a screenshot of my screen when performing a search.

Sample Search

So in the above picture I am doing a search for a Software Engineer. In the search bar I put together a search strong using LinkedIn’s Boolean logic (which differs slightly from google). Basically it’s just the way you conduct a search within LinkedIn. So the first thing you do is you add in the potential titles. Now normally I might add in more titles based on my knowledge of the role or the conversation with the manager but I kept this search simple because I wanted you to be able to see the entire search bar. By typing it in like (“software engineer” OR “programmer”) LinkedIn will bring up everyone within 25 miles of the zip code I put in who has one of those two terms in the profile. In addition to that I added in (“C#” OR “C++”) to my search. Finally, I clicked the choice below stating that I was looking for someone with 3 to 5 years’ experience. With those criteria entered it narrowed my search down to 790 potential candidates. Now, most of these people won’t be candidates. Some of these candidates would have been a fit in the past but now are in managerial roles and wouldn’t be interested in an individual contributor role. Now, as I start to look at these potential candidates LinkedIn will push forward the candidates who most closely match the search strong I have put together. As a potential job seeker, you want to be on that first page, or as close to it as possible. How do you guarantee that happens as often as possible? The answer to that question is optimizing your LinkedIn profile. Many people make the mistakes of having some of their roles on their page, but excluding some of the other positions they have held. People also don’t take advantage of the opportunity to load up the descriptions of previous roles with the keywords that will get them found. The sad part is there are probably plenty of software engineers who live within 25 miles of the zip code 60061 who have experience with C# but they didn’t include C# in their profile. It’s important to write a summary of every role you have held in your career and it is equally important to use those summaries as a medium to load up your LinkedIn profile with keywords that will get the job opportunities to come to you. (If you are looking for help optimizing your LinkedIn, my Resource Page has links to several great services that specialize in doing that.

 

  1. Make sure your resume is uploaded to Indeed.com

 

So first and foremost, what is indeed? So most people know that Indeed.com is a job search engine, which aggregates job postings from thousands of sources and posts them on one site. So in terms of looking for a role, Indeed is a great place to start. However, in this post we aren’t talking about where you should go to find a job, we want the jobs to come to you. Now there are a ton of places you can choose to upload your resume. You could go to local job boards or perhaps one of the other big names in the game like CareerBuilder or Monster. Now while these aren’t bad ideas, the best bang for your buck for uploading your resume would be Indeed. Why is that? Well for me, Indeed is where I recommend putting your resume if you want to be found because of how friendly the site is in terms of functionality to recruiters. I like using Indeed because the searching is easy, the outreach functionality is great and the daily resume update feature is seamless. So let’s talk about that last part. When I do a search on Indeed for a type of candidate, Indeed actually prompts me to receive daily emails of candidate who meet my criteria. So if you upload your resume and you meet the criteria of a recruiters saved search, that recruiter will actually be notified that day of your uploaded resume. For us recruiters it means we have a system basically doing some of our job for us but for you it means recruiters looking for people just like you will be notified you just uploaded your resume and in all likelihood are looking for a new role. So if you have interest in automating your job search I strongly recommend making sure you have your resume fully updated and optimized (similarly to how I suggested with your LinkedIn profile in terms of keywords) and upload it to Indeed’s resume database.

 

  1. Building Recruiter Relationships

 

So out of my three recommendations this one is probably my favorite to talk about. While unfortunately this is the one that will take you the most time it is also the one that could have the biggest impact on your search. I am willing to bet that every single person reading this has at some point been called or emailed by a recruiter (or been the one emailing or calling). Now some of those of those calls/emails might have been from corporate recruiters asking about your interest on a specific opening and some of those roles might have been from an agency recruiter who might have been asking about a single role or perhaps a variety of roles (I have made too many to count of both). I am also willing to bet that many of you responded by saying “I am not interested, thanks anyway”. I can’t fault you for that, I have done that myself. However let me tell you why you and I were both wrong to have done that. Let’s just say you have a great job that you love and you would never consider leaving. You receive the call and you think to yourself “there is nothing this person could tell me that would make me consider leaving my wonderful job”. First, if that is you congrats, not everyone is to have a job they love that much. Secondly, unfortunately, many times we are not the one who makes the decision of when our employment will come to an end. Downsizing happens all the time, entire teams and locations even are eliminated due to market conditions or a change in company strategy. Just because you would never willingly leave your role doesn’t mean you won’t one day, very abruptly, be put into the position of finding another role. So, as I always advise people, take the call. Now let’s circle back, how does building relationships with recruiters help you automate your job search? It’s quite simple really. The first step is every time a recruiter calls you, take the call. Every time you get an email from a recruiter, reply and ask for a time to talk (I understand every time is a lot, so if it makes sense for you do it less frequently but do make an effort to have several of these calls). Now, good recruiters won’t just pitch a job to you. The good ones will make it about you first, ask you what you are interested in and see what they might be able to offer you in terms of a fit. But for the sake of argument let’s just say they call you, you take the call and they pitch you a job that absolutely isn’t a fit. Does that mean the call was a waste? Well yes, if nothing else happens, then that was most likely a waste of your time. But it won’t end there, you are going to maximize the benefit of this call. You will listen to the pitch and then you will say something this effect “I appreciate you letting me know about this opportunity, I don’t think that it’s a fit for me at this time. However…” At this point you can tell them the type of role that would pique your interest. You can tell them why you are an excellent for for the role and then you will encourage them to reach out to you should they happen to get a role like that. If the recruiter is impressed with you as a candidate, guess what, when they get a role that meets your requirements they are going to call you. Now a few tips, the first thing is that this has to be a phone call. If you just respond via email, the likelihood of them remembering you and contacting you with the opportunities that fit your specific requests is very low. You need to have a good conversation and you want them ending the call thinking “well this candidate doesn’t want this role, but I could definitely place them somewhere”. The other thing I want to mention is you want to get their email and send them a copy of your resume (which should hopefully look great) perhaps a paragraph selling your skillset, a reminder of the type of roles you would be interested in hearing about and finally a reminder that they can feel free to contact you should they get something that fits your interests. Bonus points if you happen to give them a referral for the role they initially contacted you about. If you can do this effectively then you have done a big part of automating your job search. Good recruiters will come back to you with opportunities and perhaps even present you your next role (I know because I have done it). If you can do this several times then you have done a great deal towards automating your job search.

 

If you read to the end this great job! I know that was a long post but if you can implement these 3 essential tactics to automating your job search you are well on your way. Now I mentioned earlier I would have a question to ask you all at the end of this post. My question is, if you were able to ask a recruiter any one question, what would it be? Please feel free to comment on my site or if you find this in a LinkedIn or Google+ group, feel free to comment there and I will try and answer. If you liked this post please feel free to share it with your network or give it a “like”. I appreciate it a ton. If these posts help you get an interview, head on over to 7 Critical Phone Interview Mistakes Candidates Make to get yourself prepped. Thanks again and have a great day!

 

7 Critical Phone Interview Mistakes Candidates Make

Phone interviews are viewed as the easiest, most painless way to interview for a new position. Think about it, you can do them from anywhere, nobody can see you and it ends up being a pretty small investment as far as your time is concerned. They also tend to be the quickest and easiest. If you are interviewing for a technical role, you might not even approach technical competencies because usually these interviews aren’t with a hiring manager. However, just because these first round phone interviews are easier than their longer, in person counterparts don’t mean they aren’t crucial to the process. In fact, in most cases if that first call doesn’t go well it will be your only contact with that company. Now I know that isn’t exactly groundbreaking however you would be surprised as to how many people end up messing something up in that first round. The thing that I consider to be most curious is that often it’s the little, easily avoidable mistakes that end up torpedoing an otherwise excellent interview. In my time in recruitment I have had thousands of first round phone interviews for hundreds of types of positions. Throughout all of these conversations I have noticed a pattern of the same easily avoidable mistakes that just keep popping up. This post will chronicle these mistakes, detail how they adversely impact you and explain how you can avoid these mistakes to make sure they never happen to you again.

 

  1. Not answering the call

 

I started with this one because it is the first opportunity you have to either do something correctly or incorrectly during your phone interview. Believe it or not this little mistake happens all the time. As a recruiter, when I call someone for an interview at a time we agreed upon and they don’t answer I can’t help but think, now why in the world would you miss this call? In fact, I think I say in my head “well that’s not a great start”. Some of you are probably thinking, “well yea, obviously that is not a great way to begin an interview, I would never do that”. To those of you with that approach, great job, your head is in the right place. However I bet a second group of you are reading this and saying to yourself, “Ben, what’s the big deal? They probably had a meeting run long or are walking to their car”. In fact, those are the two reasons why people miss the call most frequently. However I look at it like this, in terms of an interview, that’s your first impression and you will not get to make it twice. If I call someone and they don’t answer it is simply unavoidable that I don’t come away with some kind of judgment of their preparedness or perhaps the value they place on my time. The fact of the matter is, if you miss a recruiters call for a phone interview, whether or not you call them back 45 seconds or 5 minutes later, they will reach some kind of conclusion and it won’t be one that positively impacts your candidacy. So, if you feel like you might not be able to answer their call at a certain time, pick another time. It is much better to select a time the recruiter didn’t suggest then simply agree with their recommendation and miss the call.

 

  1. Walking to your car after you answer the phone to do the interview

 

So this one is kind of similar to the first mistake you can make. I can’t tell you how many times I call someone and I hear something like this, “Hi Ben, hold on (silence) one second (silence)…I am just walking ..out…to…my…car…”. When this happen I know exactly what is going on, they need to get to a place where they are free to talk. That is understandable, you can’t do an interview next to your colleagues. That just won’t work. Now it’s not the worst thing in the world but I will tell you what, it’s annoying. There have been times where I literally call someone and I am waiting four or five minutes as they walk to their car. So obviously this happens when someone is unprepared. Being unprepared never reflects well on you. You never want to have someone associate you with unpreparedness. Especially when you consider that your qualifications are being closely compared to other people who want a role. But let’s just say for the sake of argument that the recruiter doesn’t consider this a knock on your ability to adequately budget your time. Recruiters are very busy people and often if they schedule 30 minutes for you they are going to need every minute of that 30 minutes. Not only that but they may have someone they need to attend to right before your call and directly after your call. So even if it doesn’t reflect poorly on you in their eyes you might be robbing yourself of the necessary time to have a full phone interview. That three minutes you lost, will it be a question that allows you to sell yourself fully or will it perhaps be your chance to ask questions you were hoping to get answered? Either way, the fact of the matter is having less time to talk isn’t a good thing and if you can avoid it, you should. Make sure you budget extra time to get to that empty conference room or to your car.

 

  1. Interrupting

 

This one is pretty simple and straight forward. No one likes to be interrupted. Being interrupted by someone frequently makes it really hard to enjoy having a conversation with someone and it’s important that the recruiter like the conversation with you. Now some of you might be thinking, “Ben, I disagree, it’s really not that important that you like me, just that I can do the job”. And yea, there is certainly merit to that point. We don’t need to have matching friendship bracelets in order for you to be able to code in C# or for you to be able to run an effective Kiazan event. However, if there are four qualified candidates and the hiring manager has asked to see my top three, it certainly behooves you for our conversation to be a pleasant one. Nobody who gets interrupted thinks “Oh man, thank goodness this candidate interrupted me, clearly what I am saying isn’t as relevant as their thoughts”. Luckily this one is a simple fix, just be cognizant to not interrupt and if you do, say sorry.

 

  1. Not answering questions

 

One of my personal pet peeves is when I ask a direct question requiring a direct answer and I get something other than a direct answer. When I ask a question during a phone interview, it is usually something that is important to know when deciding if you are a fit for a position or perhaps even a direct question the hiring manager wants to know. So with that in mind, when I ask something like “How many years of project management experience do you have?” and I candidate says something like “well at ABC Company initially they have me in the mailroom and after that….” It drives me crazy. There are times when a question gives you the opportunity to expand and sell yourself however if none of that answer includes the answer to my initial question than you haven’t really done yourself any favors. If you have 8 years’ experience of project management then I am sitting there with my hands on my keyboard waiting to hear your number and if instead you go off on a tangent (regardless of how relevant you feel it to be) it can be pretty frustrating. If you do this one or two times than it won’t be that big of a deal.  However there are people who do this with every other question you ask them and I have to say, these might be the most frustrating people to interview. If you are asked a direct question, respond with a direct answer and if you plan on expanding, at least make sure you answer the question directly on the front end.

 

  1. Talking too quietly or too quickly

 

As someone who has spent the lion’s share of their experience recruiting engineers I have to say, this is another one that drives me crazy. Not that engineers talk more quickly or more quietly, just that they have so many acronyms and technical terms. The funny thing is that I totally understand this one, when you talk about what you do for a living you should be excited. And when people get excited or passionate they have a tendency to speak quickly. Totally understandable, however if you are trying to type down every word they are saying so the hiring manager can get an accurate picture of the conversation, this can be hard. I am always an advocate of being passionate. People buy your passion, just be cognizant of the speed at which you are answering these questions. As far as volume, sometimes this can be as simple as a weak connection. Towards the beginning of the conversation simply ask, “are you able to hear me ok?” and let the recruiter know if they have any trouble hearing you to let them know. This is simple, courteous and effective.

 

  1. Not having questions to ask

 

If you have been to my blog before (if you have, thank you and if this is your first visit, welcome) then you know how I feel about having questions to ask every person you talk to at every stage of the interview process. Its super important. It shows you prepared, are thoughtful and have interest in the role. All three of those points are important. If you don’t ask questions, how interested can you really be? Plus you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn more about the company. Do yourself a favor and  always have at least five questions to ask everyone you speak with during the interview process. If you need help with the questions check out my post 5 Excellent Questions You Should Ask in Your Interview. You would be surprised how many people say to me “I don’t really have any questions to ask at this time”. It’s quite a few. I have never thought to myself “Jeez, it was annoying answering that candidates questions” however I have thought to myself many times “Really? Not a single question to ask me….ok?”

 

  1. Not writing a thank you letter

 

Writing a thank you letter is easy. However even if it is something you consider hard you should totally do it. If someone holds a door open for you, social norms dictate a gesture of gratitude right? Imagine standing a few extra seconds to hold the door open for someone and instead of saying thanks they avoid eye contact with you and walk by you. What would your reaction be? You would probably think to yourself “Well I never?” and then be reluctant to the door open for that person as long as you are able to remember their face. While that is perhaps a tad on the dramatic side, the fact is when an interview has concluded you have two options, you can either write a quick thank you note or you opt to not write a quick note. While perhaps it won’t be the straw that broke the camel’s back in your quest for employment, wouldn’t you rather err on the side of caution? If it comes down to you and one other person with almost identical education, experience and salary requirements, would you not rather be the one of the two that wrote a nice thank you note? When a recruiter gets a note thanking them for their time, on some level they appreciate it, trust me. Even if they don’t respond (shame on them), they appreciate it.  If you want an easy guide to writing a great thank you note check out my post How do you write a thank you letter after an interview? A four step plan for success.

 

Well there you have it folks. There are the 7 Critical Phone Interviews Mistakes Candidates Make. If you can avoid making these mistakes I guarantee that you will be better off and have a better chance of advancing to the second round. What did you think of the mistakes I included? If I missed anything you consider to be a common mistake I would love to see them below in the comment section, either on my blog or on LinkedIn in the group chat. As always, thanks again for reading. Feel free to follow my blog, add me on twitter or LinkedIn and if you have any questions you would like me to answer, let me know!