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!

If You Want a Recruiter to Delete Your Message, Do This!

How many of you start out writing an email hoping that the content is completely ignored? I imagine that since you have arrived on my site, the answer to that question is that none of you actually want that. Let’s be more specific, how many of you reach out to a recruiter, hoping that he or she will delete your message without reading it? I’m going to wager a guess that once again, none of you have that as the desired outcome of writing a message. At this point I imagine some of you are thinking, “Ben, you are now four sentences into this post, where are you going with this?”

Fair, let’s get to the point. I am writing this post because I see people write messages every day that I know will be deleted. I also receive messages from people at least once a week that are wildly ineffective and that, simply put are not accomplishing what they were created to do. In fact, I am going to say that this method is the least effective way to contact a recruiter if the end goal is a job, an interview or a relationship. I am going to tell you what this method is now so that you can avoid doing this for the rest of your professional career.

Ok so let’s get to the message. Now, this message can come in many forms. Sometimes it’s an email, sometimes it’s a message on LinkedIn and sometimes it’s even a reply to a post. However, the one thing they will all have in common is that they will soon be ignored or deleted. Let’s take a look at what this might actually look like. Usually it reads something like the following:

 

“Hi Ben. My name is Katie. I am a Mechanical Engineer who graduated from Sterling University. I am looking for a new role, if you have anything suitable please advise.”

 

Do you hear that sound? That is the sound of Recruiters everywhere clapping and yelling “Preach”. I cannot begin to tell you how ineffective that message is. Whatever the goal of that message was, it will not be accomplished. Now some of you might be thinking “Ben, what is wrong with that message? I thought you were a recruiter….recruit!” Well the first thing that comes to mind is that this person did absolutely no research. In fact, besides saying nothing at all this is literally the least amount of effort someone could put in to try and achieve their end goal of employment.

The caveat here is that you happen to have a skill that is such a rare commodity and I happen to be looking for someone with that skill, then that might work. However, if you aren’t a welding engineer or a penetration tester or a paint coatings scientist or a Senior Crystal Growth Scientist (I have filled all four of those roles by the way) then you are probably out of luck. The above message will not resonate with good recruiters. It shows lack of effort when it comes to research and it comes off as lazy.

Now for those of you saying “well Ben, I get tons of messages from recruiters and they are lazy as well and they don’t do the necessary research either!” you aren’t wrong. That is true. It would be impossible for me to defend the actions of all recruiters out there. However, the goal of this post is so help you recognize what not to do and spend the extra five minutes to make your outreach attempt 100x more successful.

Now I most frequently get this message on LinkedIn. So that means someone requested to connect with me or already was connected to me. Which means before they sent that message they had the ability to view my profile. Which means they can see where I work and with just a little bit of leg work they themselves are capable of seeing some of the jobs my company is looking to fill. Now if the recruiter happens to be a headhunter, you may not have access to their jobs making this more difficult but if they are a Corporate Recruiter, this really is quite easy. Now let’s look at an example of a really effective message.

 

“Hi Ben. Thanks for accepting my request to connect. I see that you work for ABC Company. I have been hearing a lot about your company in the news recently and have always respected your company’s products. I was on the website and noticed you currently have a posting for a Mechanical Engineer. After reading the description, not only does it sound really interesting but I strongly believe I meet the requirements. The posting says it requires 4 years of experience, a strong knowledge of metal fabrications and a strong proficiency with solidworks. I have 5 years’ experience, I have over 2,000 hours working with solidworks and a strong background in metal fab. This position seems like it could potentially be a fit. I would love to talk with you more about the role, when would you have a few minutes to chat? You can reach me at 123-456-7899 between the hours of 12-1pm or 3-6pm. Thanks again and I look forward to hearing from you!”

 

Do you see the difference? For me the difference is I am responding to the second one. They showed initiative, were polite and from the looks of it, are qualified. The message will take a little bit longer to write but if you care at all about the success rate of the emails you write, I would advise you to go with option two. Hopefully this helps and I appreciate you taking the time to read it. If you have a few more minutes go check out this post, The Difference Between Great Interviewers and Good Interviewers, it’s one of my favorite posts I’ve written over the last six months! If you found some value in this post, please share with your social networks. Thanks and have an awesome day!

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

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

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

 

They are hiring an internal

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

 

You applied too late

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

 

Your reputation precedes you…negatively

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

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

Employers, Stop Scaring Away the Best Talent!!!

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

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

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

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

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

The Problem

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

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

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

The Solution

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

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

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

The Difference Between Great Interviewers and Good Interviewers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leave out the meaningless clichés

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

Talk about the impact this person will have

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

 

Talk about what the team has made in the past

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

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

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

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!

Telling the Right Story with Your Resume

Recently I was talking with a candidate who was concerned about how taking his next job might impact the way his resume is perceived by potential future employers. I thought to myself, what a great thought to have. Fortunately for this candidate, I don’t think the move does anything to adversely impact his resume. However it does beg the questions, is taking this job allowing me to tell the right story of my career on my resume? It’s a question I don’t think people ask themselves enough and it’s a question I believe you need to ask yourself before you ever accept a new role.

Whether you like it or not, when you accept a new role it becomes part of what future employers will look at for the rest of your life. It becomes an indelible mark on your life’s work and in virtually every interview moving forward you are going to have to answer questions about it. Why did you leave ABC company to go to XYZ company? I see you used to be a (insert role) but then you took a job as a (insert newer role), why did you do that. Questions like these and more are standard components to early phone screens with the people who decide whether or not you get further in the process and therefor you have to be able to answer these questions.

Whenever I consider a role I think to myself, how can I paint this move in a positive light to future employers? If the answer doesn’t sound right, you really have to consider the ripples it will have moving forward. For example if you are in a senior role or a people manager role  currently and you take a role that is neither senior nor managing people, you better believe every recruiter in the world who sees your resume is going to wonder why you did that. Were you laid off? Could you not handle the responsibility and therefor decided to take a step back? These are all logical questions really, if you think about it. What is unfortunate is that not only can it be hard to explain and answer these questions, but for certain roles it will also keep you from getting that first interview. Recruiters and hiring managers alike will look at your resume and make their own assumptions and perhaps pass on you as a candidate.

The takeaway here is to think about the story you tell with your resume. Too often people consider the company, the salary or the benefits but don’t realize the other impacts their decisions may have. There are indeed times when this makes sense, perhaps it’s a great company or it’s working for a manager you are dying to work with. In those cases maybe you make the move anyway but make sure you consider the consequences. Another thing to consider is that perhaps the company would be willing to offer you the title that makes more sense for you. Maybe you apply for a Mechanical Engineer role but the title you really want is Senior Mechanical Engineer because you already hold the title Mechanical Engineer at your current company. This is something you might be able to negotiate. Perhaps you let them know that while you are very interested and feel like you would be able to make a measurable impact right away, you have decided that in order to move you would need for the role to be in a Senior or Lead capacity.  Have any of you ever been in this position or took a role that you later regretted because it was hard to explain your rational?

5 Steps to Succeeding in Phone Interviews

This post is about the five things you have to do before every phone interview. Now don’t get me wrong, there are more than five things that you should do. But this post is about the five things you absolutely have to do in order to succeed (in my opinion). So lets take a look!

  1. Research the Company

It is vitally important that you know a lot about the company. I have worked with recruiters who start the interview by saying “So, tell me what you know about ABC Company?” Now if you can’t answer that question reasonably well, how do you think the rest of the interview is going to go? If that happens and you can’t speak to what a company does intelligently you might as well hang up the phone and save you both some time. In addition to that it will save you the embarrassment of asking things like “so what does your company do?” You would be surprised how many times I have been asked that question and every single time I am absolutely shocked. So spend some time on the website, browsing products and recent news articles. Maybe go to YouTube, most companies have an account there and they have a lot of neat videos. Sometimes those videos even tour the facilities you might end up interviewing at in the future. At a bare minimum you should be prepared to answer that question. If they ask you what you know about the company and you don’t feel confident saying a few lines about their business then it is back to the drawing board.

  1. Chronicle your accomplishments

I trick I like to employ is I like to look at each of my last three jobs and write down one or two examples of things I did there that went above and beyond. What you will find is that when you do this you will easily be able to answer the questions where they ask for different examples and scenarios because these examples will be applicable. During most interviews they will ask you to walk them through your experience and it’s great to be able to give an example or two of how you made an impact.

  1. Prepare questions

At some point most recruiters will ask you if you have any questions.  This might be at the beginning or it might be at the end of the interview. Either way, you want to make sure that you have a few to ask. This should be easy because frankly, you should have questions. Accepting a job is a big decision, you would be crazy not to wonder about why the job is open or what you will be doing. But let’s say, for the arguments sake you didn’t have any questions. You still need to prepare questions to ask because it’s not all about you. Having questions prepared shows the person interviewing you that not only did you prepare but you are a thoughtful person who is calculated in their approach to big decisions. A few examples are; Why is the role open? What characteristics or traits have made people in this role successful in the past? What is the biggest challenge you foresee the person who comes into this role will have? Etc.

  1. Research Interviewer

If nothing else it is important to do this just so you don’t say something stupid. For example let’s say this person worked at a ABC Company. Knowing that will keep you from saying something like I wanted to interview at ABC Company but I heard that the people who work there aren’t very motivated (really you should avoid saying anything negative in your interview). Or perhaps they graduated from a university and you say you opted to attend the university you attended because the other local universities programs weren’t strong enough. In addition maybe they have something in common with you that you can bring up in the interview, perhaps you both have a similar background. The fact of the matter is the more information you have the better. So do a little bit of research here.

  1. Review your resume

This is kind of a small point but I do think its overlooked. You want to be able to speak to what you have done in your career. You also want to be prepared to walk them through your resume, in most interviews you will have to do something like that. You don’t want to have a whole bunch of ums and pauses as you do this. So take a few minutes and read through your resume aloud and reflect on these roles. You also should be prepared to discuss any gaps in employment and why you left certain roles. It helps to print out your resume and write notes. That way when they ask for that information you have it available to you.

So that’s it. There is my list of the five things you have to do. Did I leave any out? Perhaps you disagree with a point. I welcome any discussion. Thanks!

Interview with Epic CV

Recently I did a Q&A session with Epiccv.com , a website that focuses on resumes. The questions were asked by Epic CV and the answers were my responses. Please feel free to review and let me know your thoughts on my answers. If you have any questions or follow ups please feel free to let me know as well!

Q: What are the three most common mistakes applicants make in their resumes? 

A: For me some of the things I see frequently are poor formatting, having an objective (often different from the job they applied to) and spelling errors. For me all three of these can potentially be deal breakers. Poorly formatted resumes and resumes that contain grammatical errors show a lack of attention to detail, which is never a good thing when you are looking to make a hire. The objective to me is a big error I see frequently and I always advise people to get rid of it. The reason I say get rid of it is that you stand to gain nothing from having it but it can derail your chances to land the job. If I have a posting for a Mechanical Engineer for example and your objective says mechanical engineer as well, it really does nothing for your chances of getting an interview. However if it says design engineer and isn’t a match I might be inclined to pass.

Q:  How much time do you spend on one resume at first glance after you receive it? 

A: The first glance is about ten seconds. In that time I determine if they are someone I am passing on or if they are worth further consideration. If in that ten seconds I see things that lead me to believe they could be a potential fit then I invest more time looking at their resume.

Q: What is the first thing you look for in a resume?

A: The first thing I usually look for is that if it is well put together. Is this resume aesthetically pleasing and does it demonstrates a professional put time into making this look presentable.  The next thing I look at is their most recent job title, that is usually a good indicator of whether or not I should be reader further.

Q : What are the three main eliminating factors of a resumes you review?

A: Spelling errors, long gaps in employment without explanation and lack of detail from previous jobs.

Q: What are the three main attributes in a resume of a candidate that will be called for an interview?

A: I look for experience that matches the role I am currently recruiting for, solid work history  and the technical expertise that match requirements.

Q: What do you think of graphic and video resumes?

A: I think while it could be a way to stand out, most of the time you are better suited to have a well put together standard resume that highlights you as a professional and is submittal to the average ATS.

Q: What do you think of a functional resume format?

A: I prefer candidates to have a functional section as opposed to doing the formatting as entirely functional. When that is the case I find myself looking for employment history and not giving full attention the functional portion.

Q:  Can you share up to five quick tips for applicants in order to pass ATS screening?

A: Make sure you match keywords from the job description in your resume, use standard colors and fonts, make sure you spell check, explain gaps in employment and if you are going to have an objective on your resume make sure it matches the job you are applying for.

Q:  What is your position on photos on resumes?

A: perhaps I am boring but I am against it. I have seen many resumes with pictures on them and never once have I thought to myself, “oh good, this person put their picture on their resume”. Frankly if it doesn’t help  you get an interview then it doesn’t belong on your resume.

Q:  Why is professional resume writing service worth a couple of hundreds of dollars? 

A: To answer that question I think all you have to do is ask yourself a question back, “what is the value you place on getting the job you want?” For me that is certainly worth an investment of a few hundred dollars. The market is so competitive these days that if you don’t put yourself in the best possible situation to be successful, you won’t be.

Q:  What is your opinion regarding resume length?

A: 1 to 2 pages. I wouldn’t advocate it be any longer than that. I have been recruiting for 6 years and my resume is one page in length.

Q: What are the three main points, undergraduates or fresh graduates, need to present in their resume?

A: They need to do a really good job of highlighting the skills they have built up from school and perhaps from internships. Coming into the workforce you wont have years and years to draw upon but you can most likely find value in the courses you took. For example if you are trying to get a job as a software engineer and you got a computer engineering degree, you want to make sure you find a way to incorporate the projects you worked on during your schooling as well as the languages you have built up experience with.

Q:  What do you advice to your clients regarding references?

A: Your career is just as much about building relationships as it is about accumulating skills, make sure you don’t burn bridges so that you have contacts down the road. As far as your resume is concern, leave any mention of references. I think outing references available upon request is pointless. If the company requires references they are going to ask for them regardless of what you put on your resume.

Q:  And what about cover letters?

A: I may be in the minority here but unless a job specifically asks for a cover letter I skip it. As a recruiter I hardly ever look at them. Besides if the employer asks for them the one other exception I would say is that if you have a long period of unemployment, or something else that merits explanation it might be a good idea to include a cover letter. You can use the cover letter to explain the gap, why it happened, why it isn’t a concern for your future employer and why you are a good fit for the role etc.

Q: What is your advice on making employment gaps less prominent on a resume?

A: The one thing I look for is an explanation as to what you did with your time. I always tell people if they are laid off, take courses or volunteer, do something with that time along with looking for a new role. Then when it’s time to explain that gap you have something that adds value.

Q:  What would you like to see in resumes more often?

A: I would say I would like to see more keywords. I work on a lot of technical roles and I love it when a programmer lists all of the languages they have used. It really makes my job easier on the front end.

Q: What are the most irrelevant parts of a resume for you?

A: This would be a tie between the objective portion and any resume that has “references available upon request” on it.

 

Q: Do you check online presence of a candidate exclusively through links provided on a resume or you dig deeper?

A: I always go to LinkedIn but that is as far as I go.

Q:  In the end, please add a couple of sentences about resumes for our readers.

A: One of the things that can get you noticed is quantifiable results. A bullet that says “saved my company 100k by reducing downtime 15% over a 1 year period by implementing a new lean procedure during a Kiazan event” lets the prospective employer see that you have accomplished things and it gives them an idea about what you can do for them.