Archives for February 2019

Why Recruiters Ask You Questions That Your Résumé Clearly Answers Already

 

Have you, like many other job seekers, noticed that it seems sometimes like recruiters, maybe even hiring managers, ask you questions that have clearly been answered already in your résumé?

Like, “Do you have experience with business intelligence tools?” while your last position was “Business Intelligence Analyst.”

You’re getting all kinds of advice from career coaches like me to do your research and come to interviews prepared to intelligently talk about the company’s specific goals or challenges, but you get to the interview and it feels like you’re just interview number 9 today, not their potential next highly valued employee.

Experiences like this are just one of the hundreds of gripes that I see job seekers making online, and I have been collecting them for over a year now. (I also procure gripes from recruiters about job seekers, recruiters about HR, recruiters about hiring managers, HR about recruiters, HR about hiring managers, and hiring managers about HR – what a mess!)

I have to admit that as a recruiter, I have been guilty of this. Here’s what happened:

  • I had a third party recruiting firm play bate and switch with me, sending candidates to interviews who didn’t match the résumés they presented. As a result, I made a bad hire that I had to replace for the client. From that point on, I always asked clients to validate what was on their résumé. Once you uncover deception, you become skeptical. Once you get burned, you become cynical. I’d rather have a candidate insulted that I was asking them questions that I should have already known from their résumé than hire someone who was misrepresenting their skills and qualifications.
  • Coincidentally, I had some very indignant candidates who were quite put off that I would ask them such questions. The worse they took this experience, the more I worried about their temperament. I had candidates who seemed completely professional in their interviews get to the client, have a bad experience, and completely lose their cool, as well as their chances with that client and me. I also had a candidate I referred to another firm get escorted out by security for becoming threatening. In this day and age of employee sabotage and mass shootings, a person’s temperament is always being evaluated.
  • From time to time as a recruiter on top of still needing to fill hot job requirements, you have to put fires out, such as when my candidate was fired and needed to be replaced. Sometimes I was not as prepared for a candidate interview as I liked to be. I would normally just be upfront about this and apologize. Under stress, however, I might not have been as empathetic. I had some bad days as a recruiter, and I may have come off as aloof, scattered, or insensitive.  I wasn’t my best self, and all I can do is aim to be better. I’m a decade (plus) older and much more emotionally intelligent than I was then. Not all recruiters get how their candidates’ experience affects their long-term success, and even if they do, they can’t always buck the broken system and fix their candidate experience. I’d like to think that eventually, especially if the candidates’ job market continues, more recruiters will have to evaluate and improve how they treat candidates, acknowledging them as people, not commodities.
  • Résumés are rarely written to include “behind the scenes” details that demonstrate and prove a candidate’s qualifications. Often it’s a list of what a candidate was supposed to do, not what they did or how well they did it. So, a phone screen or interview was your opportunity to tell a compelling story that demonstrated your value. The résumé was just a tool to get me to invite you to an interview. If you have qualities and skills I felt would impress the client, the résumé also had to inspire the client to interview you, but I need to take it up a level. You may have stated that you did something on your résumé, but I need to know more to enhance the résumé. AND, I need you to be able to articulate your experience to the hiring manager and other stakeholders. I’m not just making sure you have the experience required; I’m making sure you can effectively communicate this to me, and therefore others.

I’m definitely not condoning recruiters’ negligence to understand a candidate’s experience prior to an interview; it goes against common sense best practices. However, I find the volume and extremity of the gripes I have been procuring online for over a year now to be disturbing and discouraging.  Solutions that truly disrupt and overturn the broken system cannot be devised until all parties involved in hiring and careering can understand the other parties’ perspectives. I don’t want to take sides; I want to bring the sides together.

This may or may not ease your frustration with the recruiter experience, but ultimately you are absolutely capable of landing your next job without them, and you will probably find those activities much more enjoyable. Eliminate or manage as many stressors as possible so that YOU can be your best self more of the time. If you want to know how to execute a career campaign without recruiters, schedule a free consultation.

If you want to learn how to get recruiters to call you back MORE often, download my free report.

 

This World Fair “Don’t Make Me Wait” from Disturbia

Get it at iTunes: http://bit.ly/DisturbiaMusic CD: http://bit.ly/DistCD SUBSCRIBE: http://www.youtube.com/LakeshoreRecords This World Fair “Don’t Make Me Wait” music video. From the movie and Soundtrack to DISTURBIA. www.LAKESHORE-RECORDS.com

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Believe It or Not, This Cover Letter Got Me an Interview

 

I have been a student and a teacher of making compelling, persuasive pitches. Nothing big is a solo job. Whether you have to convince someone to take a job, give you a job, offer or invest their hard-earned money, approve of plans, or adopt big change, you ultimately have to make a pitch.

At some point during my second startup journey when I was deep into learning about angel investors and venture capitalists, I heard a story about an unlikely recipient of huge Series A funding. It was unlikely because of the unconventional way the founder convinced investors to fund his idea. I wish I could remember the founder’s name and company. (If you know it, or a story like it, feel free to share!)

It’s popular advice to think of why an investor would not want to invest and nullify those points, but it’s quite another thing to start a pitch with “Why not to invest in me.”  That’s what the hero of the story above did, and what I finally tried and found, too, that it worked!

A word of warning: This won’t work with all audiences. It most likely works best with progressive rebels, disruptors, and other unconventionals/non-traditionals. AND: The reasons to [fill in the blank] have to outweigh the reasons not to.

Some background:

Some of you know from this blog series that I had a rough spring healthwise, and a scary spring and summer financially as a result of not being able to work for 2 months. It took me a while to get back up to full-steam with my energy and my business. It was an awakening and I realized that I ought to look into various other streams of income to avoid being made or broken by an ill-timed illness.

At the same time, a brewery was opening down the street from me – walking distance. I met the owner at a local breakfast event. He was quite busy with the opening, but I kept in touch, and of course, visited multiple times. On opening night I offered to organize an event for a group of fellow beer lovers who were quite attached to a local brewery that closed down (and each other.) I learned by speaking with him that they were hiring a part-time events manager. I let him know that I wanted to apply and he introduced me to his COO who was handling all hiring.

Though there were a lot of things to consider about accepting a role where I would be busy weeknights and weekends, I was very enthusiastic about the company, the owner, future plans, the proximity to my house, and the buzz in the community. I was already organizing an event for them – 2 in fact. I found myself visualizing all of the fun things I would want to make happen and all the people I could bring together. I thought it would be a lot of fun, but it would take something to make it work. I had wanted to see if the “reverse sell” approach that worked for the founder would work in a cover letter, but I wouldn’t dare use my clients as a guinea pig for this experiment. Plus, I have a résumé (if you can imagine) but it’s much more geared toward people and leadership than events. This was a great opportunity to see if a reverse sell cover letter would work, and it served as a way to include a plethora of relevant experience missing from my résumé.

Though I pegged the owner and COO as relatively conservative, I also saw them as trailblazers and risk takers. I was a LOT edgier than I would normally be; I even cursed, which I would not advise!

To my pleasant surprise, I was invited to do a phone interview, which happened just before the events I organized.

Below is the cover letter with recipient information changed.

Ultimately, the job went to someone else. The cover letter didn’t get me the job, but it did get an interview, which is its job. The experiment was successful.

Please use good judgment if you decide to try your own experiment. It’s successful experiments like this that challenge the “always” and “never” advice that is dangerously rampant. If you’re ALWAYS doing what everyone else does, you’ll NEVER stand out. Part of being a leader is knowing when to deviate from the norm and trust your instincts.

“Fortune favors the bold.”

The Fugees – Ready or Not

The Fugees’ official music video for ‘Ready Or Not’. Click to listen to The Fugees on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/TFSpot?IQid=FRON As featured on Fugees: Greatest Hits.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

We Need More Better Bosses

 

The Twitterverse: where I’m never really sure if someone is being complimentary or sarcastic. I err on sarcastic.

When I proposed to an HR consultant on Twitter that leadership coaching and skill/career development would prevent disengaging the employees who tend to get overlooked, the middle 80%, he called it “such a simple solution.”

 

Was he being sarcastic?

Conceptually, it certainly is, and data proves that it is effective. Logic also says that if 50% of employees have left jobs because of bad bosses, then the way to retain talent is to have better bosses. Retention does not equal engagement, however.

Now that engagement is on everyone’s radar and it’s all the rage at human resources and human capital conferences galore, why haven’t we gotten past the fact that this works and getting on to executing?

Ah, executing. That’s what has proven to be NOT simple. Or is it?

I recently saw the advice on LinkedIn to choose your boss, not your job. It was advice that was highly lauded by other career professionals and corporate professionals alike. Choose your boss – that’s good advice, but NOT choosing your job is like determining that you can’t have both. You can! The problem is that good bosses don’t seem to be plentiful enough for people to believe they can have both, so they better grab a good boss when they find one, regardless of what they will be doing for them. We need more better bosses, and there’s ALWAYS room for improvement.

I noticed that many articles refer to this kind of leadership development as “executive” coaching. There certainly are particular challenges that executives face for which coaching would help them. And, when executives are conscious leaders who make conscious decisions, it does tend to influence a positive work culture and benefit everyone, but executives are not the only leaders who would benefit from skill, professional, and personal development. Frankly, too many companies exclude personal development as a focus of coaching, when in reality, this is where development makes the most difference in employee/boss dynamics. Personal development is how individuals expand their self-awareness and sense of accountability for results and effective communication. This type of coaching benefits front-line employees, support teams and leaders alike.

If a company is leveraging the creativity of all of its workforce, its leaders need to create an environment and provide coaching that helps all employees handle creativity-killing stress. It also needs a fair system and conscious leaders to vet ideas.

Aspiring leaders need this kind of coaching to understand how to transition from being a doer to a delegator and all that comes with handling people problems, holding others accountable, keeping others motivated, and reconciling orders from above with their own wisdom.  They need to build confidence in this area in order to continue growing.

Mid-level and experienced managers need this kind of coaching to help them handle increasing pressure and responsibility of making decisions, dealing with the consequences of bad decisions or unpopular decisions, as well as managing other managers. Also, even a great leader can be vulnerable to situational greed, and once you have had the taste of promotion, you might be easily influenced to do unethical things as directed with the promise of future promotion.

Executive leaders need this kind of coaching because the stakes are high, they can easily forget the real challenges that their employees face to be able to effectively support them, and the prestige, power, and prosperity can become a drug, making decisions for them. If their wits don’t stay intact, they can be seduced by what looks like easy money and fail to do their due diligence. They can make decisions purely devoid of consideration of human factors – what actual humans do when subjected to adverse situations, and the costs thereof.

So far disengagement is not exclusive to any one demographic of corporate employees. Any employee can become disengaged, though leaders, I’ve found, tend to be engaged for the sake of their team over the sake of the organization. Each group can also learn to support the other, exponentially fortifying an organization’s ability to perform and profit.

Of course, not all development coaching is created equally.  The Epic Careering development programs leverage current and proven neuroscience and human performance optimization breakthroughs that accelerate and reinforce the process from self-awareness to transformation.  Conventional coaching isn’t ineffective, but it is inefficient considering the increasing pace of technology and the necessary pace of corporate evolution.

Epic Careering is currently offering retained programs to 4 growing organizations for 2019. If you want all the benefits of professional development without the wait, book a consultation to learn more now.

 

Bruce Springsteen – Human Touch

Bruce Springsteen’s official music video for ‘Human Touch’. Click to listen to Bruce Springsteen on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/BSpringSpot?IQid=BSpringHT As featured on The Essential Bruce Springsteen.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

If Your Company is Doing Career Development To Increase Engagement This Way, It Will Fail

 

Career Development as a tactic to increase engagement theoretically works because:

  • We know that the #1 reason people quit is lack of growth opportunity
  • And we know the main reason they leave a job for a new job is better growth opportunity
  • It is an expression of caring on behalf of executive leadership that enhances employment brand and loyalty
  • It increases the value that an employee can offer the organization, and thereby would theoretically increase their compensation

So, it seems logical that by offering your employees career development you would improve retention and engagement by offering them a chance to develop new skills.

However, I have been seeing some “experts” advise companies to go about it in a way that will backfire, sending retention numbers, morale, and employee/leader relations downward while costs increase – at worst, and produce little to no ROI – at best.

Don’t decide what skills you want to develop in your workforce by evaluating which would help them do their job better. Decide by helping employees understand how they can make increasing contributions that are meaningful to them. If an employee is really going to feel as though they are growing, these contributions have to be acknowledged and rewarded by leadership, and their influence has to expand in correlation with their expanded expertise. The means that the organization has to recognize that job satisfaction and engagement are two different things. Also, make sure your organization is keeping abreast of future trends, devising and implementing plans to leverage up and coming skills, and offering employees who want it, a chance to gain exposure and training in these skills. Yes, this will make them more marketable for other jobs and more attractive to your competition. As Richard Branson said…

“Train people well enough so that they can leave, treat them well enough that they don’t want to.”

Don’t decide which employees you will train now or later based on management’s assessment of an employee’s aptitude to perform.  It is a flaw of management theory that if you invest in developing and tending to the top 10% and the lowest 10% of your talent that you are covering your bases. However, theories like that are what contribute to such a prolonged, high rate of disengagement. How can you expect 80% of your workforce to be engaged if leadership is not engaged with them? ALL employees need this type of offer. Some may not take advantage of it, but you can’t have an inclusive workforce if you exclude anyone from growth opportunity.

Don’t decide whether you will use internal or external resources for skill development based on what is most cost-effective. Focus on the option that represents the best chance of the desired outcome, otherwise, you will not get a return on your investment. You have to be able to objectively assess if an internal resource will be credible and trusted.  Maybe using an internal resources is cheaper, but there’s already been evidence that people have suffered for being honest, you will need an external resource who can build rapport and trust. However, if employees expect that their manager is supposed to look out for them, hiring someone from the outside may seem lazy.   Another option is to train managers to be better career developers (we help with that, too.)

The most desired outcome for an employee of true career management is control. Some people may suffice to take their company’s direction and grow in the ways that benefit the organization most. These are the employees who usually wake up sometime in their midlife wondering how they got here, and if they’re where they want to be, where they could be, and if it’s not too late to decide and arrive where they would be happiest. I know because these people are my clients. In fact, career coaches everywhere who niche in senior corporate professionals or executives will likely echo the same thing.  If your company experiences a strange exodus of mid-level to senior-level tenured talent, this is why. You have exerted too much control over their career. Some companies will at this point rely on retirement benefits or accrued vacation to retain this talent, and that might be effective in retaining them, but it won’t engage them.

Don’t only frame career development in terms of what benefits the company most. You will get biased assessment results that fail to address the real aspirations of people, which may not backfire right away, but it will backfire eventually. Let people grow in the way that serves them best, and if the organization can benefit from it, make it work. If not, let them go, and I don’t mean abruptly or without an exit plan that supports them transitioning out while you transition someone else who would be more engaged in.

I can understand why it might seem counterproductive to implement career development plans “my” way; it seems as though you will inadvertently encourage employees to follow career paths that place them outside of your organization. That will happen, and it will present the costs of replacing that talent, but you will also be ridding your organization of people who represent high risks of disengagement.

If your company doesn’t have:

  • Trust and rapport between employees and an internal career development coach, manager or not
  • Confidentiality assurance
  • A culture that honors honesty without executing punitive consequences for it
  • The competency to help employees determine their most ideal career path
  • The resources and budget to train employees into growth roles once a growth role is identified
  • A culture that will give employees a two-way communication channel to assert their influence
  • A way to leverage skills that are increasing in demand
  • The means to compensate employees more overtime for the organizational advancements to which they contribute

… then career development is not going to work as a way to increase engagement. In fact, you can expect that low engagement will persist and that it will continue to cost your organization 35% of your compensation expenses and render your human capital investments, if any, void of ROI.

 

Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime (Official Video)

Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime,” from the 1980 album Remain in Light

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.