Archives for April 2015

Save Time, Effort and Money by Starting Strong on Your Career Transition

"Time Flies" Photo courtesy of h.koppdelaney of Flickr creative commons. http://bit.ly/16TSfDb Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

“Time Flies” Photo courtesy of h.koppdelaney of Flickr creative commons. http://bit.ly/16TSfDb Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

 

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” John Wooden was one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all time, and was well known for his motivational quotes. In this particular quote, Wooden relayed to his players that time is precious and of the essence, we may not always have a second change to optimize our efforts. The world of job-hunting is filled with missed opportunity, but taking the time to start the search  in a smarter-not-harder way can go a long way in finding success. Recognizing the ways in which opportunity can be missed means you won’t waste your time on job search efforts that yield poor results. The cost of searching for a job can be expensive. Depending on your needs and the services you opt for (resume writing, traveling to events, a career coach, etc.) could cost you at least $2,000. If you are currently employed and make $100K per year, your gross income per day could be around $260. A prolonged job hunt could easily burn through much of your daily income, especially if you spend more than 5% of your time searching and applying for jobs online. Think of the hours you waste per day by filling out impersonal job applications, when you could spend the time creating meaningful connections with people through networking and researching target companies. Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker said it best: “Days are expensive. When you spend a day you have one less day to spend. So make sure you spend each one wisely”.

The conclusion I’ve come to is many job seekers skip out on the activities that get them the best results because they perceive that they require more time and their efforts have a questionable pay off. Networking and personalizing your search also requires facing people, and for some reason we find the thought of facing people to be scary at times. The best jobs and the best opportunities to find those jobs can’t be obtained by the simple press of an “easy” button. Developing relationships with people isn’t the difficult part of a job search. It takes a couple of weeks to generate momentum before you can powerfully articulate your value and the contribution you want to employers with straightforward requests. The TIME is the part that requires some patience, perseverance, and self-assessment to arrive at the clarity necessary to develop those messages. People are the EASY part, as long as we can hurdle our fears; many people have been in the similar position of seeking a foot in the door and are willing to give advice. The work may be time-consuming at first, but the payoff means more job leads, references, interviews, and even landing the job. Furthermore, once these connections are established, it will become much easier to utilize your network to help find your next opportunity.

 

Growing the Network:

Establishing or growing your personal and professional network is the first step in generation the momentum you need to articulate your value to employers. It is a necessary step because very few job seekers land a position without networking. In fact, about 80% of jobs are landed through networking. This is true for most positions where personality is just as important as skills and qualifications. This means connecting with former friends and colleagues you might not have talked to since your previous job, or even since college. Don’t count these people out just because you didn’t keep in touch. That IS the purpose of social media. It is completely acceptable, if not expected, to reconnect with people with whom you lost touch through social media. Friends and family may be able to provide you with valuable leads, or they may connect you to someone who can provide you with these leads. A quote from Sesame Street defines personal connections perfectly: “The people in your neighborhood, the people that you meet each day.” These connections can be anyone with whom you are on a first name basis—dentists, mail carriers, hair dressers, clerks at the bakery or deli are just a few examples. Your professional connections can consist of alumni, co-workers, hiring managers, recruiters, and even former bosses. Through these connections you can discover job openings, and obtain referrals.

If you have yet to tap into your personal and professional networks, or if you have, but have not been able to gain any traction with your network I cover these topics in two vlogs. The first vlog is “How Does Your Garden, uh, Network Grow?”. The second vlog is “Job Help for the Discouraged Job Seeker”. All of your connections are important because they could lead you to your next career opportunity. You can also optimize your network by prioritizing contacts, and by creating lists sorted by relevance. Have meaningful interactions with contacts in your field. The quality of the interaction is important. You won’t get far by reconnecting with someone just to ask them for job leads. Make it about a genuine interest in finding out more about them, how they’ve been doing, and what you can do to help THEM. For some, this will feel like less pressure than making it about asking for favors. Don’t ask for favors. Watch my vlog, “Get Interviews Through Your Network” for a better way of obtaining an interview. For others who have been experiencing an emotional tailspin, facing people means having to show how vulnerable you have become. Facing people when you feel embarrassed or less than is the LAST thing you want to do. I recommend you watch Brene Brown’s TED Talk on the power of vulnerability. Relationships are a give-and-take. If you help someone out in your network, it demonstrates how valuable you are, and they will naturally want to extend help to you.

 

Attending Networking Events:

Networking events are a great way to further expand your network. Professional conferences, job club meetings, community service groups and career fairs provide opportunities for job seekers to meet employers, hiring managers, and recruiters at local events here: U.S. News & World Report Money has compiled a list of common professional networking events. Obtain a list of employers prior to attending the event, so you can research the companies beforehand. Doing this will allow you to narrow down the employers in your field, or the companies you’d really like to work for in the future. You will be able to tailor your conversation and questions to the individual company, which will leave a lasting impression on recruiters. Even if they’re not hiring, they could remember you when positions do open.

Often I have heard from people who have landed exactly the job that they wanted, that it was all due to one event that turned into several meetings, which generated several more meetings. In this way, JoMo (job momentum) can build VERY quickly. The key is making sure that all of your conversations cover a small agenda:

  1. Find out what the other person needs.
  1. Offer to help (and do so within a week).
  1. Let them know what contribution you want to make for your next employer.
  1. What qualifies you to make the contribution.
  1. Who your ideal employer is, either as a profile or name specific companies, then explicitly ask if they know anyone who works in a company like this.
  1. Ask them to make an introduction within a week.
  1. Schedule a follow-up.

Networking events are about creating and maintaining connections. Take some time to talk about your background and find shared experiences. If you have any great work-related stories to tell, share them. It could be about the time you saved a major project or exceeded your company’s goals. Some of these stories may seem like another day at the office to you, but they can illustrate your best qualities as a person and employee. On the flipside, take time to learn about the recruiters you meet at networking events, and ask them what they like best about working for their company. Don’t linger with one recruiter for too long, as they are eager to meet other job seekers. This can be a balancing act. While you don’t want to monopolize someone’s time, it can be awkward to cut a conversation short when there is evident synergy. If you find this is true, offer to meet up with someone after the event. When the event is over, take the time to write a “Thank You” note to the recruiter to demonstrate you’re interested in their company. The stronger the impression you leave on recruiters, the more likely they are to remember you.

 

Make LinkedIn Work for you:

A 2014 Jobvite survey discovered that 73% of recruiters plan to increase their investment in social media recruiting. LinkedIn is the social network of choice to help find and recruit job seekers. In other words, LinkedIn is one of the best places to find and establish a relationship with recruiters, HR managers, co-workers and others in your professional network. If you haven’t used the social network in a while, give your profile a nice cleaning. Differentiate your LinkedIn profile from your résumé, customize your default headline, and carefully craft your keywords. Taking the time to make these adjustments to your LinkedIn profile will ensure that you stand out from the crowd and that you grab the attention of people who you want to create a connection.

Once your profile is spruced up, take the time to join a few industry groups. These groups will allow you to show off your industry knowledge, and you’ll expand your network with new connections. If you find articles or blog entries relevant to your industry, comment on them and engage in meaningful discussions. You can also add to discussions by writing your own articles, or sharing the articles of others within your industry. You’re an authority in your field, and you want to be a go-to person for knowledge. Putting a few hours of work into your LinkedIn presence each week will demonstrate your passion for your industry, and make it easier for you to connect with others. If you need or want help strengthening your LinkedIn profile, we’re here for you.

 

Keep Track of your Goals:

Creating a list of measurable goals can help you maintain your career transition effort by staying focused and disciplined. More importantly, you’ll be able to keep your momentum going. Some examples of goals to set and meet are: making three calls to contacts per week, scheduling two meetings per week, and helping two people in your network per week. Do small things such as spending an hour each day engaging with industry groups on LinkedIn. Do bigger things such as reaching out to two or three contacts a week, and taking a day out to network with at least one of them. Go even bigger by attending two industry events per week. Start with one per month and work your way up! Ease yourself into these events by starting small, and increasing the number of events you attend each month. If you find yourself losing a lot of money every day you spend searching and not landing a job, you may want to go big from the get go. In my article, “Break Out of Your Comfort Zone and Accelerate Your Job Transition,” I wrote about the strategies for trying new things in your career transition. Having goals and sticking to them will help you get out of your comfort zone and out of the house to network with people. Don’t stop networking just because you had a great interview and you expect to be offered your dream job. ANYTHING can happen, and it usually does. Plus, having a great job offer is a great position to be in, but an even better position is having two or three great job offers and having the employers compete for you. This can make a $20K+ difference in your salary.

 

Starting off your job search by networking is the most effective way to begin your career transition. Think about it. Spending your time applying online is time-consuming and expensive. You spend your time searching without a payoff. Networking can land you a job faster by leveraging your personal and professional connections. Making connections through social networking sites liked LinkedIn is a great start, but attending networking events is also important. You can learn about your local employers and meet local professionals in person. You can add them to your network by connecting with them on a personal level. It is through your network that you will learn about job openings before they’re ever posted to job boards (if they are ever posted), and gain important referrals that get you to recruiters, and ultimately interviews with hiring managers. Taking the time to do it right means building your network and creating goals for yourself. Doing these steps will save you time and effort. The money you save is by landing sooner and by making more! The larger and more relevant your network is, the easier it is to utilize it when you start a career transition.

 

 

The Dreaded Recruiter Blacklist: Does it exist and are you on it?

rejected by Sean MacEntee from Flickr

rejected by Sean MacEntee from Flickr

 

Have you been worried throughout your transition that “it” would catch up to you. You’ve been watching over your shoulder and trembling uncontrollably at every interview. You do your best to calm your jittery nerves, but you’re afraid the interviewer picked up on some of your unease. Why are you so nervous during the interview?

Did you exaggerate your experience on your résumé?

Did you tell a small white lie about your qualifications?

Did you change your birth date to make yourself seem younger?

Did you not research a company as well as you wanted to, and tried to wing-it throughout the interview?

These little white lies could cause a recruiter to blacklist you (yes, it exists), if he or she discovers you weren’t being completely truthful. Even a small faux pas during an interview could cause your name to be written down on a blacklist. No one wants to end up on such a list. Being blacklisted means recruiters will not work with you, and will ensure your résumé won’t end up in front of a hiring manager. In short, finding the next job or career opportunity becomes that much more difficult.

Allow me to paint you another scenario:

A woman desperately wants to land a job at her dream company. She enlists the aid of two recruiting firms to place her résumé in front of a hiring manager. Recruiting Firm B gets the credit for submitting her résumé to the company. Recruiting Firm A had no idea she was using another recruiter, and was furious when they didn’t get the credit, or their fee for her hire. The slighted firm swore they would never work with the woman again and blacklisted her. Later, the woman decided to take a counter-offer from her current employer. At the very last minute she turned down the position, leaving that employer in a bind. To further make a mess of the situation, Recruiting Firm B lost the fee they would have collected from the placement, and their relationship with their client was damaged. Firm B also blacklisted the woman.

Incredibly, the woman decided she wanted another shot at her dream company. She contacted one of the recruiting firms and was met with a chilly reception. She was never called back for an interview and her calls to other recruiters were ignored. She tried to apply for positions at other companies, but found it incredibly difficult to land a job. By burning both recruitment firms, the woman was branded as difficult to work with, deceptive, and unreliable.

In the recruiting world, this woman’s actions would be considered a huge “no-no.”

Why job seekers are blacklisted:

Potential job seekers can be blacklisted by recruiters for a variety of reasons, ranging from minor to major offenses. Perhaps you told a little white lie, or had a blow up with your old boss, who now serves as a bad reference. Being let go early from a contract you had through a consulting firm is also a reason that recruiters might blacklist you. These are actual scenarios I’ve encountered as a recruiter. The criteria for getting blacklisted generally fall into two categories:

  1. You make a recruiter look bad, or make them fear that you will make them look bad with a client.
  1. You waste a recruiter’s time.

Bullhorn Reach has a fantastic infographic on the major reasons why job seekers are blacklisted.

Lying and/or exaggerating experiences: Roughly 21% of job seekers lie or exaggerate their qualifications on their résumé. Lying about your qualifications, or the experience you have for a position can be detrimental to everyone in the long run. If someone lands a job based on skills they lied about, it would quickly become apparent they aren’t match for the job. The employee is out of a job and now has a black mark on their résumé for lying. The employer has to expend time, energy, and money to fill the position again. Additionally, the recruiter’s reputation takes a blow with their client, the employer. When a recruiter markets a candidate, they are using the information they were provided. If it turns out a candidate lied, then the candidate is perceived to be untrustworthy, and that information is passed along to other recruiters.

Lying can come back to haunt you. Be truthful about your experience and qualifications when applying to a job

Using different recruiters to apply for the same job: Last week I touched upon how recruiters collect fees for the successful hiring of a candidate. However, only one recruiter can collect a fee per candidate. In other words, if a job seeker uses two recruiters to land the same job, only one recruiter can collect a fee. If a recruiter works to market a candidate to a client, only to find out someone else did it first, they’ve just lost their pay. Employers don’t want to fight with recruiters over fees, nor do recruiters want to fight over fees. Think about it this way, if someone at your job caused you to lose a potential chunk of income, would you want to work with him or her ever again?

Too many résumé submissions: A job candidate who applies for too many open positions at one employer can find themselves blacklisted. You may think you’re increasing your chances of landing a job, but the opposite actually occurs. You come off as desperate, and more interested in simply having a job, versus seeking a career and being a good fit for the employer. Too many résumé submissions also make you look unfocused in the eyes of a recruiter. Desperate employees can be hard to motivate, are disinterested in the job, and tend to quickly move on once they find a better position. No recruiter wants to make extra work for themselves by trying to find a suitable position within the company for the candidate. Nor is it a recruiter’s job to do so. Their only job is to fill open positions, not to discover which job a potential employee would be a good match for.

A better strategy is to boil your submissions down to three positions, max. The positions should closely match up with your qualifications, because you want to appear interested and focused.

Being difficult to reach: Making it difficult for a recruiter you’re working with to reach you by phone can be a huge turnoff. A recruiter may call you during working hours, or while you’re at home, but if you’re actively seeking to change employers you have to get back to them within a reasonable time. Recruiters are extremely busy with multiple candidates, and don’t have much patience for playing phone tag. If they make a reasonable effort to contact you, and their calls are never returned, they will move on to the next candidate. A good rule of thumb is to call a recruiter back within an hour (or less) of a missed call. They are more flexible with working candidates, but they’ll need to make sure that if they do the work of arranging an interview for you during work hours, that you’ll be able to make it. Reassure them by finding away to make a call work. Likewise, you may turn down too many jobs. It is your prerogative to pick and choose which opportunities to pursue, but if a recruiter believes that your criteria are unreasonable and you say no to 4 or 5 opportunities in a row that seem to be suitable, they won’t bother with you next time around.

Too many calls per week: You can be proactive, and follow up with a recruiter to show them you’re interested in the position. There is a “good” frequency and a “bad” frequency when it comes to calling recruiters. It is possible to be overly-eager or outright aggressive. The Bullhorn survey reveals that 11% of recruiters have had job seekers follow up with them about a position multiple times each week. According to the same survey, 43% of those recruiters have blacklisted a candidate because of those multiple calls. Getting numerous calls per day or week from a candidate is extremely annoying, especially if a recruiter has already responded to them about their status. It’s not much different from if you were disturbed each day at work by multiple calls from telemarketers. It can be a major turn off, and can make a person never want to work with you again.

Limiting your inquiries to once a week can fulfill the need to know about your status without annoying a recruiter. A little patience goes a long way.

Being unprepared for an interview: Your recruiter has finally gotten you in front of a hiring manager, and you’re completely unprepared for the interview. A failure to ask questions, not bringing more than one copy of a résumé, showing up late, being overly nervous, and not know much about the company are many factors that go into a bad interview. A bad interview is a waste of time for everyone involved. You don’t get the job, the hiring manager has wasted his or her time, and the recruiter potentially adds you to a blacklist if it was more than a fluke.

An interview is your time to shine. Thoroughly researching a company, practicing before an interview, and projecting self-confidence are good ways to conduct a great interview, and to leave a great impression on a hiring manager. Self-confidence may sound like something you manufacture, but it’s more like a byproduct of being prepared. This includes not only understanding the company’s needs, but how to articulate how your qualifications and skills fill their needs. Good impressions mean you’ll be able to obtain a referral from a recruiter or a hiring manager, or you may be considered for another job opening in the future.

Rejecting a job offer: You aced the interview, and you were offered the position within the company. You have the details of your salary, a contract, and a start date finalized. At the VERY last moment you decide to reject the job offer. Now the company that hired you is in a bind. They were expecting you to work for them, now that have to scramble and find a new candidate for the job. The recruiter who vouched for you is now out of a commission fee. Such a move makes a candidate unreliable, and is generally a major headache for all of the involved parties. A candidate who can’t commit to his or her obligations, or is indecisive at the very end of the hiring process is not the type of person a recruiter (or anyone for that matter) would want to work with in the future.

Being unprofessional and/or disrespectful: This last topic covers a broad range of issues. You could come off as unprofessional in an interview if you show up late. At the interview you may be dressed too casually, or you may be negative about your previous employer. Unprofessionalism could show up before you even get to the interview process. For example, a recruiter could look up your online presence and find less than savory information about you on your social media outlets. Or perhaps you talked to a recruiter at a job networking event, and a joke came off as unprofessional. Joann S. Lublin writes about a number of cases where job seekers have landed in the bad graces of recruiters in her Wall Street Journal article, “How a Black Mark Can Derail a Job Search.

You could have a genuine, but very emotional reaction to a job rejection, such as anger or sadness. That’s uncomfortable and a recruiter will fear you’ll break down in front of their client. They won’t consider submitting your résumé to hiring manager again. Even if you are rejected for a job, you can still build a relationship with a recruiter. This could come in the form of a future opening with the company, or even a good referral. Even if a recruiter is unprofessional to you, it is in your best interest to remain professional and calm. They still have the power to blacklist you, and word of mouth can travel quickly.

 

How recruiters blacklist job candidates:

Recruiters may or may not keep an actual blacklist for job candidates. The list can be in the form of an internal document, or red flag on a candidate’s profile. Other times, recruiters may simply make a mental note of a candidate they wish to never do business with again. Recruiters don’t live and work in a bubble. They connect and network with other recruiters, hiring managers and career coaches on a regular basis. Going back to Lublin’s Wall Street Journal piece, the opening anecdote is about a software developer who was well qualified for a position, but had terrible presentation skills. The recruiter pointed the software developer out to an HR official and a career coach. When the man inquired about relevant openings for a job, the recruiter replied he had been checking, but didn’t find any openings. The recruiter then quietly told the pair that he “would never submit him to any clients.” That day, the software developer landed on two blacklists. The recruiting world is especially small. Recruiters bump into their competition all the time. When recruiters want to advance their own career, they sometimes go to the competition, which means that the competition is rife with former colleagues.

The main point of blacklists is to raise red flags against the liars and misfits. Oof. It’s true, but it hurts, and this is also something that happens. Someone can show up on a blacklist for not presenting well, having a funny smell, wearing loud clothing, or an annoying laugh. Liars can damage the reputation of a recruiter, and can wreak havoc on an employer if they are not qualified for the position. Or a candidate can be unreliable or unprofessional. Sometimes candidates are put on blacklists for good reasons, such as lying about qualifications. Other times, seemingly small infractions can land a candidate on a blacklist, such as joke told in poor taste at an interview or networking event. Or perhaps a former boss doesn’t like you and adds you to a blacklist. Either way, being on a blacklist can negatively impact your career. It can make it more difficult to land a position, but we’ve helped good people through these things.

 

The negative impacts on your job transition:

Again, it can be difficult to navigate a job transition with any strikes against you, but not impossible. Good people can recover from being blacklisted.

Being on a recruiter’s blacklist means that he or she won’t forward your résumé to a hiring manager. You may be highly qualified for a position, passionate about your job, and ready to make a difference at a company. None of that matters, if you’re labeled as unpresentable or unemployable. You won’t get interviews for positions, and you could find your career stalled. If you’re employed, you may be stuck at your current employer for much longer than you want to be. The inability to change jobs means that you won’t be able to improve your salary or compensation. Employees who change jobs can earn 10% to 20% more than someone who stays at their current job for more than two years.

If you’re currently unemployed, the results of being on a blacklist are even worse. It can take you much longer to land a new job. A task that could normally take weeks or a few months, could be delayed by years thanks to a black mark on your file, if you attempt to confront the job search by yourself. The continued loss of income is devastating for your personal and professional life. No one wants to have to burn through unemployment compensation, or savings just to survive.

 

Being on a blacklist doesn’t have to be a permanent predicament. First, you have to find out if you’re on a blacklist. A career coach could help you discover if you’ve been blacklisted, or a recruiter you have a relationship with could also help. Other times, you may immediately know if you’ve fallen into a recruiter’s bad graces.

Recruiters are reasonable people, and reaching out to make amends can go a long way in getting yourself removed from a blacklist. You can refer people in your network to recruiters as a favor to them. You can treat them to lunch, meet them in person, and apologize for the offense. The important part is to get off of a recruiter’s blacklist once you’re on it IF you can. If you can’t, you will have to land a job without recruiters, which people do all the time, especially with our help. Of course, the best way to avoid the blacklist is to be your best self at all times and understand the powerful impact your actions and words can have.

Why Recruiters Won’t Get You a Job

The Deal by Stavos from Flickr

The Deal by Stavos from Flickr

 

“I hate when I’m working with a recruiter on an opening and, after I go in for a round of interviews, I don’t get any feedback. E-mails and calls go unanswered. The recruiter falls off the face of the Earth until he gets another job in that could work for me.” This quote from iMedia Connection is one of many complaints that job seekers have about recruiters.  Many job seekers believe that recruiters are really failing at their job, and while we agree that there is a level of responsiveness and common courtesy sometimes lacking, most of job seekers’ frustrations stem from the fact that there are misconceptions between who recruiters actually work for and what recruiters should be doing for job seekers. An article written by Molly Triffin on LearnVest perfectly highlights these misconceptions:

Amethyst Polk was a NASA project analyst. Despite her outstanding performance reviews, she found herself laid off during furloughs. She acted quickly to find a new job. After exhausting job boards and job fairs, she turned to her LinkedIn account. She cleaned up her profile, and highlighted the ways she contributed to her industry. It wasn’t long before Polk started getting calls from recruiters. She admitted she had no idea how to work with them, and was under the impression they worked to help her find a job. Her misunderstanding meant that it took her longer to land a job because she was missing out on very fruitful alternate resources. Eventually, Polk did figure out how to work with the recruiters and found employment as a result.

Like Amethyst Polk, many job seekers search their networks, and polish up their LinkedIn profiles in the hopes of attracting a recruiter. In some cases recruiters contacts them, and they still don’t get the job. Why? Because in reality recruiters work for their clients, the employers, not the job seeker. Unfortunately, many job hunters are under the impression that a recruiter’s job is to find out what you want to do and then go out and find a job for you. This prolongs the job searching process because job hunters may end up wasting time pitching to recruiters for jobs they can’t help them land.

 

This brings up another common gripe – recruiters simply blast out job offers, regardless of if a job hunter is qualified or not. For example, if you’re an IT Manager, you certainly don’t want to hear about entry-level jobs. You are in a database and a keyword in your résumé popped up in a keyword search. You then became part of a mass mailing list. They didn’t even read your résumé. Should you waste your time letting the recruiter know that you don’t fit? No. Just ignore it if it’s nothing you would pursue. Whenever you can, though, pass it on! That’s what they’re hoping – that you’ll see the job posting and because you touched this technology or worked with this methodology that you know someone who would be interested in pass it on if you don’t want to pursue it. Misguided and inconvenient? It can certainly be perceived this way, but it is an opportunity. Referral bonuses are very common these days and nurturing your network is a great way to harvest more job leads from your contacts. If you want to avoid this altogether, don’t work with that recruiter. Find another one. Not all of them blast out inappropriate job postings. You also have the option of not using recruiters at all. There are certainly client who I advise not to work with recruiters because they are not what a recruiter would consider “presentable,” employable though they may be. However, if you are a presentable candidate, you would put potential limits on your future opportunity to shun recruiters. They can be the agent that moves the hiring process along on your behalf, if they feel you are their best chance at getting the placement.

You can form relationships with recruiters, while keeping in mind they work for the employer. After all, you both have a mutual interest. They are motivated by money earned from placements and they want to keep their job by filling open positions for their client. You want to be the one who lands that open position. A deeper understanding on how recruiters work can give you an edge during your job transition. More importantly, a better understanding of recruiters can reduce frustration, which causes friction. You will know better to make recruiters a supplemental part of your job search rather than depending on them. Also, if you depend too heavily on recruiters, you are limiting possible opportunity to those jobs that are filled by recruiters, which are NOT all jobs. According to a 2014 Jobvite survey, 40% of job seekers have found their best job through personal connections while about 10% found a job through recruiters.

 

The different types of recruiters

 

First of all, recruiters are NOT hiring managers with ultimate authority to hire you. They are responsible for locating suitable talent for a client, and getting qualified candidates in front of hiring managers. There are several types of recruiters, and they all have the same goal of helping a client fill open positions.  Knowing what type of recruiter you are working with is half the battle.

 

Internal recruiters are employees of the hiring company, and their sole job is to fill open positions. They work at their employer’s location, and also conduct interviews there. Success for an internal recruiter depends on how quickly they can fill an open position, how long those hires “stick” and how well they perform. Internal recruiters are usually in a hurry to fill a position for their employer, and don’t have a vested interest in helping you get a job. Their number one goal is to position their employer for optimal success by procuring the best candidates for the job. They often have a goal of narrowing the field of candidates down to one to three per open position, and only one candidate will get the job.

Working with internal recruiters can be advantageous for job seekers, as they have an inside perspective. They know how their organization works, and they know lots of important people in the hiring process, namely the hiring managers. If they feel you are best person for the open position, they may act as an advocate, and may even give you a heads up in terms of the employee culture. That said, internal recruiters are not your personal job advocates. Their loyalty is always with their employer.

 

External recruiters are third-party firms engaged by employers. Some work on contingency, meaning they only get paid if their candidate gets hired, and some are retained, or used exclusively by a company to deliver top-tier, usually passive, candidates. Retained recruiters are usually hired because they have demonstrated the ability to find the best candidates who get hired and produce. Also, there are external recruiters on-site at their clients managing the whole recruiting process (RPO – Recruiting Process Outsourcing.) This may or not be transparent to you, the candidate. They usually have a corporate e-mail address and are every bit as integrated into the hiring function as an internal recruiter would be. The fee they charge employers is usually a percentage of the first year’s annual salary for the job being filled, which is usually 20% to 30%, or more.

The big advantage of working with an contingent recruiter is that if they don’t find the winning candidate, they have no fee to collect. However, retained recruiters DO get a retainer fee and then a placement bonus;  they are expected to fill the job no matter what. The higher your starting salary is, the greater the fee they collect, so they have a vested interest in help you garner the best offer. The downside is that their fee raises the cost of an employer to hire you, and an employer may be tempted to pick an applicant willing to accept a lower salary, or a candidate who isn’t working with a recruiter. Referrals are the number one source for hire volume and the quality of hires, versus third party recruiting firms.

 

What recruiters actually do

 

No matter what type of recruiter you work for, they all have the goal of finding the best person for the position. The more effectively a recruiter matches top talent to job requirements, better they are at their job. They are not career coaches, and it is not their job to determine how you would fit into their or their clients’ organization. Don’t expect them to guide you during your job search, though some offer,  and you cannot hire them to work for you as a job seeker’s agent. They can get your résumé in front of a hiring manager, but they may not have any control of the hiring process. They can be relied upon as the experts to consult on hiring matters, however. It is expected that they know more about the market in terms of availability of talent and rates or salaries.

Also, recruiters will advise you to make changes to your résumé and consider jobs for which you are qualified that you might not want. They want you to be as marketable as possible. The better you present yourself, the more this will be true. They are sales people in this way. They may have to sell you on the opportunity, and then they have to sell you either to an account manager or the hiring manager directly. They also have little expertise or interest in teaching you how to look for a job outside of them. They wouldn’t want that because it makes you less of a source of their income AND the feedback that they get from hiring managers gives them a certain tunnel vision. Often, I was told that the candidate MUST have a certain experience, and they wound up hiring someone without it based on a recommendation. They expect recruiters to deliver a candidate that meets the requirements exactly, but that doesn’t mean they hire the most candidates who match the requirements best. Asking career advice of a recruiter will help you understand your best chance at landing generally, but not the optimal place you should look for a job when they can’t present or place you, especially if you are changing industries or roles, nor can they qualify what the best possible role would be for your skills, talents and professional goals. They must also be a career coach to offer this type of advice, and I know some are (like me.)

 

Communicating with a recruiter

 

Finding suitable talent for an employer is more time consuming than ever. Hundreds to thousands of candidates may apply to a single job opening. Recruiters have to prioritize their time, and the bulk of their time goes to strong candidates. If they feel you’re a good match for a job requirement or a role that has needs ongoingly, they will spend more time speaking to you. On the flipside, recruiters will spend very little to no time working with candidates they feel are a poor match for their clients. This includes not responding to e-mails or sending out rejection notices. Recruiters spend most of their day screening out candidates. This doesn’t mean they are routing against you. They want to believe that you are the candidate that their client will hire, but they are skeptical, and for good reason. Doug Horn writes about the various ways candidates have told lies to recruiters in his article “Résumé Fraud: How Recruiters and Businesses Can Know if Candidates are Lying.” It’s not even just deception, but the unpredictable nature of candidates. It can be very tricky, sometimes funny, often mind-boggling when people are your product. Taking the time to follow up with a recruiter, researching a company, and practicing for an interview can help ensure that you move on to the next stage of the hiring process. This takes persistence. Call them versus e-mailing them up to four times before giving up. The squeaky wheel, as they say. Check out my vlog “Do recruiters want you to call.” Own staying in communication with your recruiter, have regular check-ins and updates on interviewing activities. These early impressions matter, because how you do anything is how you do everything.

 

Why you should work with a recruiter

 

Job seeking and making career transitions are all about relationships. Getting a job without the right connections, i.e. your network connections, is extremely difficult. You can think of recruiters as another connection in your net”work” to work. As I said earlier, your interests are aligned. They want to find the best possible candidate for an employer, and you want to present yourself as the best possible candidate for an employer. If recruiters find you to be a good match for their client, they can introduce you to a hiring manager. They sometimes know about job openings before anyone else does, and they also know about job openings that aren’t advertised. These unadvertised positions are typically a firm’s highest paying and most senior positions. Recruiters can give you insight into the employer’s organization, and who the real hiring decision makers are. External recruiters are paid a contingency fee that is based on your starting salary, and they can help you obtain a higher salary.

 

Ways to optimize your success

 

How do you get a recruiter to successfully notice you? Have a strong online presence. That sends recruiters running toward you. Keyword optimization is important, but it has to be in context. A little ago I wrote about how to effectively use keywords. LinkedIn is the number one choice for recruiters to find talent. Make sure your other social networks are geared toward helping your job prospects, instead of hindering them. Your online presence is a great way to show how you’re an industry leader, and how you keep abreast of events. Use LinkedIn to connect with recruiters, both internal and external. This is mutually beneficial because recruiters can easily research you. Join industry-specific groups, college alumni, and corporate alumni groups within LinkedIn. Not only will you stand out among other users, but these are also places recruiters frequent on the service when they are searching for talent.

Once you have the attention of a recruiter there is more work to do to make sure you are placed in front of a hiring manager. A recruiter’s goal is to narrow job applicants down to one from three per job description in their quest to present the best candidate to their client. To avoid being cut during the screening process, demonstrate you did the research for an employer by presenting a recruiter with a T-table with the requirements against your qualifications, and a one to two-sentence blurb about something unique and valuable you offer above and beyond the requirements. Your résumé needs to be free of spelling and grammatical errors. Don’t include your references on your résumé, and this brings us to our next critical piece of advice on working with recruiters:

When it comes to qualifying recruiters, you need know that some will keep your references information in their sales database and try to reach out to offer recruiting services to them. Would your references appreciate that? Wouldn’t it be better if you offered to recommend the recruiter if they did a great job placing you? Give references to recruiters after you get their reassurance that they will use the information for references only. If they violate this, blacklist them. They’d do the same to you (stay tuned for a blog on how and why recruiters blacklist you.) In fact, there is a lot more you need to understand about a recruiter before you let them represent you.

Good recruiters limit their submittals, or candidates send, to one to three. The bad recruiters send too many and hiring managers stop giving their candidates attention. Ask the recruiter how many candidates they have presented already and how many are still in play.

Know your external recruiter’s vendor relationship and how it connects to the employer your interested in. Companies can ask external recruiting firms to go through a vendor approval and tiering process. Tier A vendors get priority. Tier B vendors are still approved, but their candidates are only consider if their Tier A didn’t send the match. The tier that your vendor is in can also impact whether the recruiter interfaces with hiring managers directly or not, although some vendor management systems forbid third-party interfacing with hiring managers regardless of tier, which makes it hard for them to influence the hiring decision. These are questions you can ask to better understand your best way in. – Another BIG warning – do not be submitted by multiple recruiters or try to go above your recruiter’s head or you may be eliminated from consideration! It can be perceived as deceptive AND companies avoid candidate ownership disputes at all costs. They probably will not see you as a good enough reason to go through that.

Disclose your criteria and salary requirements up front. Many people trained or coached to negotiate their salary will have been taught to keep their salary requirements private (we don’t coach that way!), but with a recruiter, you have to tell them up front or they won’t bother with you. They don’t always have the leverage to negotiate above the budgets they are given, which is also why some career coaches recommend you avoid them completely. I know this appeals to some job seekers, and if you can effectively leverage alternate job seeking resources, such as your network, then the limits on your future possibility diminish. However, if you cannot generate good JoMo (Job Momentum) without them, give them a try, but make sure you read the next section first.

A recruiter doesn’t always have all opening on their radar. If you see another job position open, ask them about other positions you see posted (but be careful not to apply to too much.) They may have already qualified you, and may be able to present you to a hiring manager faster. If you have already qualified them as a reputable professional, you may have a competitive advantage in working with them. Don’t apply for a position directly through a website; let your recruiter represent you. If they don’t get credit for a successful hire, they don’t get paid, especially if they are an external recruiter.

If you land a job because of a recruiter, thank them for their work by giving them great referrals for other candidates, use them when you hire people, and recommend them when your company is in need of talent.

For a full presentation on how to get interviews using recruiters, view my slide deck, “Get More Interviews: Partner with Recruiters.” (Now included on my LinkedIn profile.)

 

 

Recruiters are a vital part of the hiring process. They can make or break your job hunting prospects. Keep in mind they can help you get a job, but they work for their clients. There are many types of recruiters. There are internal recruiters and external recruiters who either work on contingency or are retained. They may work onsite or offsite. You may also have Tier A and Tier B external recruiters who are approved, or may have unapproved vendors. Knowing which type you’re working with will help you determine who you go to first when you see an open position and who your best shot is at getting the interview and the job offer.

Having a good relationship with a recruiter ensures that you know about high-level jobs that aren’t being advertised. Additionally, forming a connection with a recruiter can mean they consider you first when their client is hiring. Going through recruiters isn’t the only way to land a job, but working with them can make it easier land a position for the job you’re interested in. Better yet, a great relationship with a recruiter may mean they bring offers to you, while you’re passively looking for work. A recruiter works for the employer, and leveraging their position with a potential employer is great way to make moves in your career.

 

Catch Your Next Job with the Right Tools

Photo courtesy of Casey Bisson of flickr creative commons. http://bit.ly/fishjob Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Photo courtesy of Casey Bisson of flickr creative commons. http://bit.ly/fishjob Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Trout season is approaching in Pennsylvania! Would you try to catch those fish by throwing stones at them? Throwing stones could possibly work, but using a fishing rod is a much better idea. We’ve all heard the saying: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Learning how to fish is great, but you’ll still need the right pole. A rod used for fishing in a serene lake is very different from a rod used to fish in a choppy river. You also can’t ignore the importance of a good lure, bait and a hook. Not being able to catch fish means starvation, especially if you’re dependent on that catch for your meal. At the very least, you’ve wasted your time and energy with efforts that don’t pay off for the day. How many days can you do this before you give up? Likewise, when it comes to job opportunity, skills are crucial, but you still need the right set of tools and a good location to reel in an employer. Like a fish, a good employer can provide substance in the form of financial security, a sense of purpose, and putting your passions to use.

Find a place to start by creating a plan:

If you were going fishing, you wouldn’t start by running to the closest creek and casting your line. First you would decide on what type of fish you’d like to catch. Then you would research an ideal fishing location, and ask a few fishermen to tell you about it. Next, you would get your gear in order and you would be certain to make sure you have the right pole for the situation. You can think about job hunting in the same way. You locate your ideal employers, research the company, work your networks, manage your brand, revise your résumé and review it.

In my article, “Become an Effective Job Hunter: Work Smarter, Not Harder!”, I wrote that you can see tremendous results in fewer hours than you think, if you put your time into the right resources. A lot of job seekers may be tempted to apply online through job boards and internet searches, because they think they’ll be missing out on opportunities AND because it’s a habit. Or they perhaps they work during the day and feel that the job boards are the only resource they can turn to after work hours. However, the percentage of people hired via internet searching is shockingly low. Less than 10% of people are hired by employers through this method. In fact, only 5% of your time should be spent looking for work on job boards, after you’ve set up your agents and have validated suitable results. Choose two days per week to check your agent results and add those companies to your target company list, research them, network and market yourself appropriately. Relying solely on job boards is like going to the ocean to catch fish. The fish are plentiful and so is the competition. The chances of getting the fish you actually want are slim. This concept can be summed up succinctly by Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, “The fishing is best where the fewest go.”

Picking your employer and role:

Do you want to work for a large employer, or a small company? There are positives and negatives associated with employer size. A smaller company will most likely have you wearing multiple hats. In other words, all of your skills will be put to use. If you’re the type of person who likes doing multiple jobs that take advantage of your dynamic skill set, a small company could be a great fit. If you prefer to do a specific job, and you don’t mind being slotted into one position, a larger company may be a better fit. It really depends on your needs, and your ability to identify those needs. These are typical characteristics of jobs at smaller and larger companies, but there are also exceptions. Your target list goal, if your criteria defy those typical characteristics, would be to identify those exceptions and research, network and market to them appropriately.

Once you have a company size in mind, and a possible employer, it is time to research that company. Job review sites like Vault or Glassdoor are great places to get a feel for employers, including salary rates. There may be companies worth flocking to. Other companies may raise too many red flags, or may not be a good cultural fit. I wrote extensively about this process in my article, “You Can’t Afford Not to Investigate Your Next Employer!” In addition to salary and healthcare benefits, vacation time can be considered as part of your compensation package. At this stage you’re still at the pre-qualification level, not unsimilar to when an employer determines if you meet the minimal qualifications for a job. At this point, you’d really want to do as thorough a job searching them as they would do to qualify you. There are some great research tips within the Daily Job Search Tips on the Accelerfate Facebook page.

Work your networks:

Networking is the number one tool in your job seeking endeavors. The word of mouth has serious power; according to a 2012 ABC report, 80% of job seekers land their position through networking. It is similar to the way a fishing buddy can help steer you to the right fishing spot. Start with your professional connections, friends, family and even alumni for job leads. Reaching out to employees and hiring managers at companies you’d like to work for could result in a job. It is through these professional and personal networks that possible job openings can be discovered. When companies have exhausted their internal candidates, they will often rely on referrals from employees and job seekers they’ve met at informational meetings. In short, networking is the lifeblood of a job seeker. Many people don’t think that they have a network. Other people assume that their network doesn’t know anyone. There are also people who’ve tapped their network, but got few to no results. Without connections, finding a job becomes significantly more difficult. I discuss how to tap into these networks in my vlogs, “How Does Your Garden, uh, Network Grow?” and “Get Interviews in Your Network.”

Your personal brand:

Networking is an outlet for your personal brand, and your brand messaging should be consistent with networking as with your content. A well-crafted online presence can be thought of as a lure for job recruiters. For working professionals, LinkedIn is absolutely the best place to be. Over 97% of recruiters looked for talent on LinkedIn in 2012. It also serves as a great tool to engage with recruiters, and further research an employer. You can receive job postings along with company news through the service. The postings are a great way to become aware of opportunities and to find out who you know that could recommend you for the job. If you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile recently, make sure you’re not using a default headline and that your profile doesn’t mirror your résumé. Make connections to your corporate and school alumni, if you haven’t already. You can also take your experience on LinkedIn to the next level by joining groups within your industry.

Facebook and Twitter are other platforms for your personal brand. You can cultivate your presence on these networks in order to capture the attention of employers. These are great tools for sounding off about your industry, keeping abreast of news, posting news, and following influential people within your industry. Professional blogs are also a great way to demonstrate your knowledge about your industry. Workers with a passion for their field, and those who take the initiative shine brilliantly, and stand out from the competition. Again, if your personal brand can be likened to a fishing lure for employers, bold and bright lures tend to capture attention. It’s like being the most attractive, juicy bait for your ideal catch.

Hook employers with your résumé and cover letter:

A fishing pole, lures, and other types of bait aren’t very useful without a good hook. No one wants to work hard with networking and personal branding, only to let the job get away. A well-polished résumé and cover letter can get an employer to bite. A personalized cover letter is the result of your research on a company. It stands out and makes it impossible for a hiring manager to ignore, even if the company isn’t hiring at the moment. A generic cover letter makes it much easier for a recruiter to ignore and weed out potential candidates. My vlog, “Our Cover Letter Secret Sauce” discusses how to write a customized letter. A well-tuned, well-customized letter can garner same-day responses from top executives at highly attractive employers. After all, taking the time to write a great cover letter shows an employer how passionate you are about the position, and how you could bring that same passion to the workplace.

A résumé is the deciding factor in getting that all important interview and most hiring managers only spend a few minutes looking at them. Taking the time to invest in a professionally written résumé can help you stand out from other job seekers. You are competing with hundreds of other potential candidates for the same position, and hiring managers are inundated with résumés and cover letters on a daily basis. The key is not just having a powerful, branded résumé, but getting it in front of decision makers.

You have your job skills, and you’re very good at your job. Think of landing a position at a new employer, like catching a great fish. Locating a spot where few reels are cast by others, wrestling with the fish, the excitement of pulling it into your boat and ultimately tasting the success of your hard work is a thrilling reward. Not only are you great at sustaining yourself with the job hunt, you can easily do it again the next time you’re ready to move on. New employment opportunities can bring greater financial gain, and renewed passion in your professional life, especially if you feel stagnant at your current employer. To get to the next level of your professional life, you’ll have to reel in a great employer, and you’ll need a good set of tools and the right techniques to stand out from the crowd. These techniques consist of brand management, going to where the recruiters are, and reaching out to hiring managers to ensure that they see your cover letter and résumé.

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