Archives for October 2019

Why is an Entrepreneurial Mindset a Hot Quality in Talent Today?

When I tell people that the career management course I teach at Cabrini University incorporates lessons on emotional intelligence and entrepreneurialism, people ask me what that means, though most of them recognize the problems when entrepreneurial mindsets are lacking among their teams. In my experience, advanced learning institutions want to promote entrepreneurial mindsets, but may think that promoting actual entrepreneurship is at odds with a liberal studies education.

Back in 2005, I made plans to earn an MBA in Entrepreneurship. I even had tuition reimbursement approved by my firm at the time. My plan was to earn the degree, make sure it paid off for my firm by helping them successfully launch new services and products, as was the trend there at the time, and then start my own coaching business.

Things didn’t work out as planned, but they worked out… for me. The firm, which was over 20 years old, didn’t survive long enough to have been able to leverage my MBA, and I wound up starting my company much, much sooner than if I had earned my MBA first.

Google is quite a trend-setter, as you probably know. Businesses used to be very risk-averse; investing in new ventures isn’t territory companies will enter without extreme due diligence and substantial data. However, if you’re blazing a trail, there’s no one before you to prove which path will lead you to the promise land, and deep due diligence takes time no one can afford at the pace of change today. It’s also risky to avoid innovation, or to have so much structure that it stifles innovation. Today, you’ll be easily surpassed by more agile organizations that aren’t afraid to try and fail. On the other hand, if you jump on a bandwagon that wasn’t built right or headed in the wrong direction, you also risk failure.

To quote Jim Rohn:

“It’s all risky… If you think trying is risky, wait until they hand you the bill for not trying.”

Google has become an interesting case study for various talent strategies, including the kinds of qualities and skills that they seek. It seems that they, along with other Silicon Valley unicorns, have proven that hiring entrepreneurial talent does not make your workforce one big flight risk. In fact, it helps you innovate at a competitive pace, as long as you have the culture to nurture the inclinations of this population.

When I see a job description stating that the company wants an entrepreneurial candidate, or that they have an entrepreneurial culture, I wonder what that actually means to them.

There is a definition for entrepreneurialism, but there are also varying perceptions about the related qualities and conditions that enable companies to fully leverage it.

By some Glassdoor reviews and first person accounts, it seems that entrepreneurial could be synonymous with self-managed. With other data to add context, sometimes you can tell that a company is growing at such a rapid pace that they have little structured training, supervision, and coaching. This scares me, because even effective, successful entrepreneurs need strong mentors.

The benefits of an entrepreneurial mindset can be:

  • Innovation
  • Resourcefulness
  • Accountability
  • Time management
  • Coachability
  • Tenacity/Grit
  • Troubleshooting
  • Multitasking
  • Combination of people and tech skills
  • Opportunity-seeking
  • Problem-solving
  • Experimental
  • Outcome-driven
  • Project management skills

The transferable value of being entrepreneurial to a corporation is a “do what it takes” attitude.

These people don’t complain that they can’t be effective because they don’t have the resources; they go to Plan B, or C, or D, etc.

They don’t sit around while IT fixes technical problems; they go back to the old ways things were done so that progress can continue.

They don’t ask for extensions or offer apologies – they deliver some functional solution on time and promise an even better one in the future.

They don’t wait to be instructed or told; they see what needs to be done and make sure it gets done, even if they have to delegate it to someone they don’t actually have any authority to direct.

They stay on top of almost everything, keeping the customer (and revenue) at the top of the list always.

They put in extra hours when needed, and proactively invest in extra training to acquire skills that are valuable.

They make it work.

If all of this sounds great to you, let’s get clear about what you have to offer talent like this if you don’t want them to jump ship – and they will if their impact or opportunity is limited.

You need to give the room to fail. They will want to try things that have never been tried before, things that have not yet been proven. Be conscious of how often you say no, and make sure that when you say yes, you give them your full support. Back them up when they fail. Take accountability for giving them the leeway, and partner with them to devise their next victory.

Just because they can institute their own structure and deliver on time doesn’t mean that they don’t want to learn from working closely with those who have achieved more than them. Don’t let them hang too long solo without checking in, recognizing progress, and guiding them in overcoming challenges. Entrepreneurial people still want to cut out errors and get to results sooner. If you have wisdom that can prevent trial and error, offer it generously.

Just because these folks manage to do a lot with a little doesn’t mean they will sustain a job where resources are chronically limited. They’ll want to see you making investments in new technology and training. If they don’t, they’ll see the risk for them in falling behind and will seek out new opportunities.

Trust these folks to come in, work smart, honor their natural rhythms and work at their own pace, as long as they deliver. If they fail to deliver, help them understand what actually went wrong as a coach, rather than as someone who enforces punitive controls to course correct.

Give them time to recharge. This population is at great risk of burn out, because they are so driven to solve problems quickly and deliver. Even if you offer unlimited vacation, you may need to make sure that this talent is taking adequate time to manage the important aspects of their personal life – their personal finances and relationships. Make sure that they have ample time to enjoy the things that stimulate their curiosity and creativity outside of work. Help them manage their holistic wellness.

Don’t assume that these people want to climb the corporate ladder into management, though they love having an impact. What makes them great could be what they do with their hands and minds, not what they do with their people. Make sure that there are multiple mobility options for these folks to continue being challenged and growing.

Some may say that not everyone is cut out for entrepreneurial life. While I’d certainly say that not everyone is prepared for this life, everyone can adopt an entrepreneurial mindset and though we all may need to shift into maintenance mode from time to time, true entrepreneurs will not be happy staying there for very long.

Is your company seeking “entrepreneurial talent” or promote an “entrepreneurial culture?” What do they mean by that?

Imagine Dragons – Whatever It Takes

Get Imagine Dragons’ new album Evolve, out now: http://smarturl.it/EvolveID Shop Imagine Dragons: http://smarturl.it/ImagineDragonsShop Catch Imagine Dragons on tour: http://imaginedragonsmusic.com/tour Follow Imagine Dragons: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ImagineDragons/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/Imaginedragons Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/imaginedragons Directed by Matt Eastin and Aaron Hymes. Special thanks to the Bellagio Las Vegas and Cirque Du Soleil.

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 13-year-old leadership and career development 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 some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Taking On Fixing the Broken System of Hiring and Careering

Any workable solution has to bridge the agendas of all parties – talent, recruiters, HR, and hiring managers. Everyone is working from different playbooks, even using different dictionaries. So much money has been thrown into HR tech, and none of it has fixed what’s broken.

#realities

There are problems with the human solutions:
  • Bias – It requires a LOT of self-awareness, which requires time for reflection. Time is something of which we all, recruiters included, have less and less. Speaking of…
  • Time – It’s not reasonable to expect recruiters to read résumés for 300-3000 job applicants. Then you also expect that they send a response and gather and provide feedback while spending adequate time on the phone with candidates who appear to fit, and hold on-site interviews, test, reference check, network, maintain professional partnerships, etc.
  • Arbitrary job requirements – Companies are too cryptic or even naive about what skills and experience candidates really need to step successfully into a role.
There are problems with the tech solutions:
  • Keywords – What % of résumés do you think actually have all the right keywords, and in a context that qualifies the candidates’ proficiency or lack thereof? Relying on keywords shrinks a candidate pool significantly.
  • True success indicators – Keywords do not predict performance, so the candidates that rise to the top of search results are not necessarily the ones who will perform the best.
Some other unfitting pieces of the puzzle –

Rolling recruitment:

Companies, especially in this market, need to be pooling talent whether there are positions open or not, but candidates aren’t buying into this whole talent community thing. They change jobs when they’re ready to change jobs, and once they land, it’s not a great career management move to jump ship because a company you vied to work for when you were looking is finally ready to hire.

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Market pay:

If companies invested money in programs that ACTUALLY improved engagement AND accountability (few do!), maybe they would be able to give their current talent the money they expect and would be offered elsewhere instead of losing this talent, suffering losses from vacant positions, and then having to pay a new hire more and invest resources and potentially money in training new talent. Projections on actual losses that may not show up on the balance sheet need to be factored into payroll budgeting.

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Communication:

Companies automated so much of the recruiting cycle that it seems human-to-human communication is perceived as a nuisance instead of a necessity. HR people don’t want candidates calling. Third party recruiters often have zero interface with a hiring manager. How many recruiters wasted weeks trying to find candidates with X experience only to find out that the client hired a candidate without it? In all that time the recruiter could have followed up with candidates with real updates.

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Culture killers:

Hiring managers are spending a large percentage of their time killing drama, trying to get their teams business-ready in the face of resistance to change, and fighting politics and bureaucracy that there is little to no time left to give thoughtful consideration to candidates who don’t check all the boxes and provide productive feedback. Eliminating a candidate because they don’t have industry experience, for example, can be shortsighted.

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Elimination criteria are evolving:

Background checks are still revealing crimes related to marijuana for candidates in states where it is now legal. Blacklisting is a practice facing increasing scrutiny. Companies are (and have been) eliminating references due to fear of litigation. Discriminating against candidates who suffered long-term unemployment or any unemployment is now illegal in certain municipalities and states. Eliminating candidates who have been underpaid, or using previous pay to justify paying lower than market rate are illegal. Pursuing litigation against your former employer isn’t as illegal as facing retaliation from your former company, but it won’t be long until it is, I predict.

******

There are no band-aids for the problems that plague hiring and careering. The whole system needs to be torn down and replaced.

Yes, I have ideas. I’ve paid close attention as a former job seeker who experienced long-term unemployment, a former IT recruiter, and as someone who has been a close confidant of corporate leaders as a career coach for 13 years as well as an adjunct professor teaching the next generation of talent how to navigate job search, careers, and leadership. I need the right ears. I need to find partners. This is a HUGE undertaking, larger than the sum of all I’ve accomplished to date. Hit me up if this mission speaks to you.

Wounding and Healing of Men

Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Wounding and Healing of Men · Francis Dunnery Hometown 2001 ℗ 2004 Francis Dunnery Released on: 2004-08-03 Auto-generated by YouTube.

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 13-year-old leadership and career development 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 some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Does Your Résumé Pass the Professional Test? [Checklists Within]

The minimal requirement of a résumé is to qualify the professional. I would estimate that 75% of résumés that I have read from students to executives over my 20 years in the employment industry don’t pass this simple requirement.

The standards of résumés have evolved as technology has exponentially increased the number of applicants, and best practices constantly evolve to keep up with changing job markets and human resources technology trends.

So, what does it take to qualify a professional today?

Here’s an easy-to-follow checklist. Does your résumé:

  • Identify the role you are targeting?
  • Include at least 6 key skills commonly found on job postings for your target role, also known as keywords?
  • Communicate your proficiency in these skills or quantify your experience with them?
  • Make clear the recency and relevancy of these skills to your target role?
  • Outline your experience applying these skills to create desired outcomes for previous employers in bullets underneath each work experience?
  • Prove that you have applied these skills to create value?
  • Present your experience in a reader-friendly format that effectively uses white space?
  • Link to relevant work samples and your LinkedIn profile?
  • Get you interviews for jobs that you are qualified to do?
  • Have your accurate contact information within the body of the document (not the header)?

Once you qualify yourself as a candidate, you might expect that, if seen by a human being and not screened out by an applicant tracking system, you will be filtered into a group of candidates who will be pre-screened or invited to interview. The résumé has done its minimal job of moving you to the next stage.

If you invest in a professional résumé writer, you can expect your résumé to check all of the above boxes.

Most job seekers, however, are able to read and apply professional résumé tips to get their résumé to this very basic level, and it’s worthwhile to learn this life skill so that you can respond to opportunity when it presents itself, as it sometimes does.

Are they willing? It appears most are not.

Here is what most résumés do:

  • Provide the name and contact information.
  • List employment and education dates.
  • Identify previous companies and titles.
  • List the primary functions and responsibilities of the role.
  • List skills.

None of the above actually qualify you. They hint that you might have the qualifications, but stating what your job responsibilities were does not communicate that you performed those responsibilities well. Also, having years of experience is not the same as gaining proficiency in skills, let alone expertise. In 1999 when I graduated college, it was not difficult to earn an interview with a résumé like this.

Now, even in a “job seekers’ market,” in which there are more opportunities than talent available, you are vying for the same positions as other qualified candidates. Employers usually move forward the candidates who have provided clear proof of performance.

Unless you are pursuing a position that requires no previous experience or you have a very unique, in-demand experience made clear based on where you worked and your title, employers will not take the time to find out if you are qualified, even if you are. No matter how many jobs you apply for, you can expect very little, if any, response to a résumé written based on the standards of the last millennium.

I estimate that about 2% of the résumés seen by employers are branded. This résumé goes further than qualifying a job seeker. It positions a professional as a top candidate and creates a sense of urgency that you need to be brought into the interview process immediately before another company snatches you up. It speaks directly to their needs, challenges, and initiatives and distinguishes you from other equally, or even more, qualified candidates as uniquely talented.

If you have any particular challenges in landing a new job, such as changing roles or industries, time out of the job market, associations with disreputable companies, multiple short (under 2 years) job stints, or having been fired, then your job search may continue indefinitely without a branded résumé and a branded, proactive campaign.

If you have none of the above challenges, but want to create demand, generate multiple competing offers, and have the luxury of choosing which opportunity best aligns with your short and long-term career and lifestyle goals, branding is essential.

Branded résumés:

  • Start with defining your ideal audience’s challenges, initiatives, and goals and identifying what 4-6 themes you want to convey that will position you as the solution.
  • Qualify you.
  • Make obvious the role you are pursuing, as well as the industry, if relevant.
  • Have short (under 5-lines) summaries that demonstrate (vs. state) your qualities, perspective, unique experience, and expertise in the context of how they have created value consistently throughout your career for previous employers.
  • Define the scope of your previous roles in short position summaries under your experience.
  • Tell stories that further validate the unique, relevant value you offer in concisely written bullets that explain not only what you achieved, but how and with what results and impact.
  • Define subjective terms, like “large” and “quickly” in quantified terms.
  • Omit terms like “responsible for,” “participated in,” “collaborated with” in favor of more specific, action-oriented verbs.
  • Are generous in explaining the outcomes produced, often accompanied by explaining the challenges needed to be overcome in achieving those outcomes.
  • Present all of the evidence of your skills proficiency, not just in a skills section, but also in context of what you have achieved using those skills within the bullets.
  • Answer the question, “so what?” with each bullet and summary.
  • Omit irrelevant experience, but may include experience further in the past if it supports that the professional gained unique insight, learned and applied industry-recognized best practices, worked for a name-worthy employer, or worked in an industry with transferrable, but not frequently applied, best practices.
  • Position information where employers expect to find it and in a way that is easy to read.
  • Maximize the “real estate” above the fold of the résumé, stating relevant work experience before the reader has to scroll to the next page.
  • Are intentional about where acronyms and numbers, aka “stop signs”, appear based on eye tests.
  • Use formatting features, such as bold, italics, and underline, sparingly to emphasize relevant data.

Though careful thought and intention is put into every single word choice in a branded résumé, it still has to be written so that the reader can make a decision in 6-8 seconds. Every résumé will make an impression in that amount of time.

Possible impressions you can make from undesirable to ideal include:

  • Unqualified/under-qualified – Pass
  • Lacking attention to detail/uncommitted to excellence – Pass
  • Possibly qualified/potential to be trained – Maybe
  • Probably qualified/potential to fit culture – Maybe
  • Qualified, but probably does not fit culture – Maybe
  • Qualified with potential to fit culture – Follow Up
  • Qualified, probably fits culture – Priority Follow Up
  • Qualified, fits culture, and probably attractive and visible to our competition – Follow Up Immediately!

When you start the interview process with a branded résumé, you are positioned as a front-runner from the get-go and the interview process looks very different. Rather than answering questions that help an employer mitigate their risk, they are selling you the opportunity from the get-go. They still will have to mitigate their risk, but they’ll make sure you are engaged and interested first. At this point, it’s your opportunity to lose.

With a branded résumé and a proactive strategic campaign, a job seeker often rises so far above other candidates that companies consider custom-designing a role that allows you to make the maximum impact. Negotiating then doesn’t happen in the context of tiered, approved salary levels; you name your market price based on the value that you know you will create when you are given all of the conditions that are conducive to your success, and you negotiate those as well. You are positioned so competitively that there is little to no competition.

The branding process isn’t something you invest time, energy or money in if you need a job and any job will do. Learn how to master a qualifying résumé and save your money for a professionally branded résumé when you decide to be more intentional, proactive, and progressive in your career goals.

Should you learn how to write a branded résumé? Well, many branding professionals have engaged Epic Careering to write their résumés and profiles because A) it’s challenging to be subjective about a product/service when that product/service is you, and B) they appreciate the personal branding process that we have honed over the last 13 years and the quality output that it consistently produces.

The general rule of thumb, according to authors like Robert Kiyosaki and Tim Ferriss who teach people how to make their money work for them instead of working for money, is to outsource to a professional anything that someone else could do better and in less time. Especially if you are unemployed, time is money.

If your résumé doesn’t pass the professionally branded test and you have a desire to be in control of your career, schedule a free branding consultation today.

If you have had the experience of being the only candidate considered for a position, please share your story in the comments. It’s hard to believe that it happens until it happens to you! Inspire others to have hope that it can happen for them, too!

The Platters – Only You (And You Alone) (Original Footage HD)

(P)(C) Mercury Records (USA) 1955 Only You (And You Alone), más conocida como Only You es una canción estadounidense compuesta en 1955 por Buck Ram y Ande Rand.

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 13-year-old leadership and career development 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 some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Old School Hiring Practices Facing Scrutiny and Backlash in a Job Seeker’s Market

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! There are more job openings than candidates.

I don’t think all people in hiring positions have gotten the memo – it’s a job seeker’s market. I say this because for three years now, I have been tracking and capturing gripes of job seekers (as well as recruiters, human resources professionals, and hiring managers.)

The power has shifted, and qualified job seekers are in a position to demand that a few irksome practices be abolished in favor of you wooing them into accepting your position. In a few cases, the law is even in their favor, as more legislation is passed at the local level prohibiting employers to play games with job seekers.

If we apply the trickle-down theory (not the economic theory) of adoption to hiring best practices, there are going to be early adopters, those who are watching and following the early adopters to see if new practices succeed, those who will only jump on the bandwagon after most others, and those who insist on bucking anything new.

Traditionally, this theory purports that cost is a factor for products, which does apply somewhat to practices, since new employees require training when a company updates standard procedures to adopt new best practices. More recent revisions of this theory take a closer look at motive to adopt anything new. Herein lies a mystery. All companies need talent of some kind or another.

Look at how long it took employers, even early adopters, to jump on the candidate experience initiative. User experience (UX) has been a web interface design focus and official term for nearly 25 years. Customer experience and guest experience have been evaluated and improved in retail and entertainment since the dawn of the industries, but didn’t adopt the Xx acronym until the mid 2010s, and the x can connote a purely digital experience. Patient experience has been measured since the 1980s.

In 2005, talent management thought leader, Kevin Wheeler, introduced the Candidate Bill of Rights initiative. Five years later, the term “candidate experience” was coined and within a couple years, several entities started recognizing companies who provided exemplary candidate experience.

What took employers so long to focus on the experience of candidates? The motive wasn’t there as long as they were in the position of power.

Though candidates have the power, not all employers got the memo, so if you are a candidate and you stand your ground on any of these practices, just know that you could risk an offer with employers who are on a slower adoption curve.

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The following are hiring’s most hideous, harmful practices of which job seekers and their advocates are becoming more vocal and less intolerant about:

  1. Not being transparent about budgeted salary

Job seekers have traditionally been advised to not be the first to bring up salary to avoid being categorized as money-motivated, which could also contribute to the candidate being a flight risk, apt to leave their job at the drop of a better offer. Now we know – employees who stay loyal tend to be paid less than professionals who change employers. This is backwards, yes. Companies, in essence, are losing money by having to replace people they lose with people who will expect more compensation when they could have just offered better pay raises and growth opportunities. Retaining employees costs less than vacancies, re-allocating resources to backfill positions, and paying to onboard and train new employees, and that’s not even taking into account lost productivity while new employees ramp up.

Not being upfront about budgeted salary also doesn’t make sense from a time standpoint. If you have 5 qualified candidates, but only 2 would accept your offer, why invest time in interviewing all 5?

Now that the power is in the job seeker’s hands, it’s the companies who choose to withhold budgeted salary who risk being perceived as wanting to get as much as they can for as little as possible, while C-suite employees enjoy 7-figure compensation and bonuses.

Also, don’t undervalue talents’ time. If they are currently employed, it requires them to take time off of work to interview. If they aren’t employed, their time is their money. They don’t actually have time (or energy or emotions) to invest in opportunities that are not going to help them meet their lifestyle needs.

Don’t jerk job seekers around. When a requisition for a position is approved, it is approved with a budget. Negotiating, at its best for long-term mutual benefit, is supposed to achieve a win-win. We’ve seen how win-lose negotiating eventually backfires.

  1. Asking about perceived weaknesses

I personally like this question, but I have seen/heard certain thought leaders encourage candidates to avoid it because it’s a trick to get candidates to disqualify themselves. As a recruiter, I asked it, but not for that reason. In fact, to preach that the only reason this question exists is to get candidates to shoot themselves in the foot is plain old inaccurate. It has a more noble intention, though I also recognize that the means can be achieved through more conscious questioning.

The intention when I asked this question was to gauge self-awareness, accountability, and coachability. All of these are requirements of being employable.

However, I am in Marcus Buckingham’s camp of focusing more on identifying and applying strengths vs. developing weaknesses as a sound career management strategy. All strengths can be liabilities, however, if unchecked. It can take real world experience to test how to balance strengths, and in doing so, there is trial and error. It’s the error – the acknowledgement of the cause/effect relationship between something done too extremely or too deficiently, and the future correction, that leads to growth and development. Also, as we become we wiser and realize that there are a multitude of things we don’t know that we don’t know, we start to better recognize knowledge and skill gaps.

Questions to identify such moments don’t have to be so entrapping. You can achieve the same result by asking two behavioral questions – one that deals with soft skills and one that addresses hard skills.

A. “Tell me about a time when you identified a knowledge or skill gap. How did you become aware, how did you fill it, and what impact did that have?”

B. “Tell me about a time when you identified an area of growth. How did you become aware, what did you do to develop in that area, and what impact did that have?”

  1. Demanding salary history; asking for W2s

Unfortunately, I worked for a firm that had a policy to require salary history and request W2s to validate a candidate’s most recent salary. It went against my values. As someone who had been chronically underpaid (until I learned and applied negotiating skills with my own boss), I did not feel that a person’s past salary should have any influence whatsoever on their future salary (and the training that my company sponsored in 2004/2005 confirmed this.) Still, it was our policy. This, among other policy and cultural changes, were the impetus for my own disengagement.

Perpetuating low pay keeps marginalized groups marginalized. This policy is anti-equality and sustains gender and race wage gaps. This is why many municipalities and states have passed laws prohibiting employers from requesting salary history.

  1. Ghosting/Blacklisting

The majority of job seeker gripes revolve around spending time pursuing open positions, filling out online applications, doing due diligence as advised, and then getting nothing – zero response – from a company. Even an automated confirmation of receipt would be reassuring to some level, according to job seekers. However, once a candidate is in the system, they expect an update of some kind. Newer applicant tracking systems build in candidate updates and make it quite simple to blast out when no more applications are being accepted, when first round candidate interviews are being scheduled, and when the position is formally closed with an accepted offer. Not all employers have such sophisticated ATSs, however the early adopters and those that have followed them do. The companies lagging behind are sending a message that they are not focused on candidate experience.

One of my most viral LinkedIn posts to date is about recruiter blacklisting. Some have mistaken this post as an endorsement for this policy, but it was really intended to make job seekers aware of things that they do to burn bridges with recruiter, and how the small world of recruiting can mean a mistake with one recruiter may restrict your ability to work with other recruiters as well.

It happens, and to be clear, I am not condoning it. It, too, is illegal in certain states and municipalities.

However, when a bad reference comes back or a candidate abuses a client or no-shows, their file gets marked accordingly. Many readers who commented rightly pointed out that some recruiters are on a power trip, and can be vengeful in limiting someone’s future opportunity because of a bad experience that perhaps that recruiter even precipitated.

Yes. There are recruiters who have become a bit too accustomed to judging candidates as worthy or not worthy of working with them. These are the recruiters who need a wake up call. Just as ATSs allow recruiters to keep notes on which candidates have misbehaved, there are several recruiter rating sites out there now, and their brand is sure to be tarnished by acting from ego. Karma is a b*tch.

  1. Automated rejections to candidates who have interviewed

This is a bit like breaking up over text. When two or more people have invested time getting acquainted face-to-face, an automated response just seems shallow and dismissive. Some of these candidates could be your second choice, and you might want to tap their shoulder in the future should your #1 reject the offer, not work out, or move up quickly. Any of the candidates you’ve personally met are potentially in a position to promote or tarnish your employment brand. Have you read Glassdoor lately?

I get that you can’t give a personal response to hundreds of candidates who apply, but if you’ve had under 20 people interview, (and, really, if you’ve had over 10 without an offer, there’s a flaw in sourcing and/or qualifying) it is reasonable to expect that you can let them know they are no longer being considered, even if you use a template – at a minimum.

  1. Not giving accurate feedback and updates

If someone takes the time to come out to meet you and your team, take a moment to give them real, individualized feedback and updates. A phone call is preferred, but I have had the experience, as I’m sure any recruiter who tried to make it a policy to provide feedback, of someone swearing that they would take feedback professionally, take it personally, and dismiss the feedback as wrong, or even discriminatory. There are liabilities in providing feedback, even when the reason for rejecting a candidate is on the up and up.

However, if your hiring practices have been thoroughly audited (have they?), and you are sure that bias is not influencing hiring, I’m certain that you can provide a legitimate reason for a candidate not being considered, or even being forthright about something that puts them at a competitive disadvantage or advantage.

Do you think there are legitimate reasons to NOT let a candidate know that they are one of three finalists? What this information does is help the candidate understand that, even if they feel that they are a shoo-in, their efforts to find their next opportunity need to continue.

Don’t let a candidate believe that a job is theirs to lose so that they cease other opportunity development while you continue to vet other candidates.

  1. 4-month long hiring cycles

At the executive level, especially in this day and age, leaders need to be scrutinized to a certain degree. The stakes are high, and there are potentially many stakeholders. It is understandable that the hiring process can be delayed for due diligence and because getting busy executive leaders and/or directors to arrive at a consensus can be a time-consuming process.

However, we all know that the pace of change is accelerating and even at the executive level, decision-making needs to be expedited.

At an even lower level, four months is just excessive. Top talent who make things happen and innovate will perceive a long hiring cycle as a systemic sign of slow progress. If you have justifications for such a long hiring process (such as clearances or thorough background checks), it would be best if you clarified this from the beginning.

  1. Passing over people for employment gaps

When I finally landed after a 10-month unemployment period induced by 9/11, I found myself expected to disqualify technical candidates who had been unemployed for 6 months or longer. This client request was based on the implication that tech talent who had not been actively working for 6+ months somehow lost their touch, grew stale, or had skills that are now obsolete.

This was 18 years ago, and things weren’t changing that fast! This was a huge conflict for me, and one that made me rethink my own career choice.

Fast forward to the great recession, and layoffs touched more people than ever. Hard-working, talented, valuable, qualified employees were out on the streets, not just those you could assume were dead weight – which is a bias, if you hadn’t recognized this.

There are some who never financially recovered from that, 10 years later! Add to being laid off any kind of personal or health challenges and you have people who are now perpetually in debt.

Anyone can be the casualty of poor leadership in any economy.

  1. Requiring 3 references from past supervisors

Even 14 years ago when I was recruiting, many of the companies we recruited for and from instituted “no reference” policies. Apparently, many employers had been sued for defamation, among other things. The best some of them can do is verify work history and maybe be coerced into affirming or denying that they would hire them again in the future.

Here in the pharma-rich Greater Philadelphia area, pharma professionals, among others, are unable to provide references because their company adopted this policy. Does that make them unemployable? No.

Reference checking is and has been a hiring best practice based on the theory that past behavior is the best predictor for future behavior, as is the behavioral interviewing methodology.

Has this theory been proven, though? Is it infallible? Are references the only or best way to validate performance?

There are two sides to every story, and then there’s the truth. Hearing someone else’s version of a story does not help you arrive at truth, necessarily. In fact, it can raise caution flags where there needn’t be any.

My previous firm’s policy required three reference checks. Every time I butted up against a challenge, I had to validate the challenge in order to circumvent the policy and move forward with a candidate, or I was told to find new candidates. This was an unnecessary hurdle to finding the right candidate.

I’ve also learned that, not only can references be biased, but they can also can be faked or pressured.

I admit, I check references for people I hire for my company, even subcontractors, but it’s not a witch hunt. It’s a way for me to learn how to inspire their best work and what projects I might want to outsource to someone else. I don’t require a certain amount and most of the time, if they have impressive, specific LinkedIn recommendations, that is good enough validation.

As a recruiter, sometimes the validation a reference provided was used verbatim in my candidate presentation to a client, so they do have value, but should not be required to consider a candidate. Special circumstances and changing corporate policies have to be considered.

  1. Using the term “overqualified”

I admit, I have defended this term as a justifiable reason to reject candidates. It’s true that from experience, some employers have learned that hiring an experienced person to do a job below their abilities has resulted in that person disengaging, growing frustrated by not being able to apply their knowledge, jumping ship at better offers more in alignment with level and pay, and resentment toward younger managers who feel threatened.

A hiring manager will not trust a candidate’s word over their own experience, but this can still signal a bias.

The problem is that the term “overqualified” has become synonymous with age discrimination. You can’t detach that meaning once it’s there.

The pressures of decision-making authority and staff supervision can lead to burn out, family issues, and even health complications. For many legitimate reasons, some people choose to sacrifice income for better quality of life. Get a candidate’s why – always.

If there are ethical, logistical, or cultural reasons why you won’t offer an experienced candidate a position, explain them explicitly.

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These are just 10 of many trends that are shifting as companies become more aware of the need to be attractive to top talent in order to survive the next few years.

Epic Careering wants to make sure that more of the opportunities that are available for today’s and tomorrow’s talent are with conscious companies with conscious leaders who are nurturing a conscious culture.

If you know or work for a company that has a future at risk, that is losing top talent to competitors, or that is behind the curve in adopting consistent conscious hiring and leadership practices, nominate them anonymously. Provide their name, your reason, and any contact information that will help us get through to a decision-maker.

Bob Dylan The Times They Are A Changin’ 1964

TV Movie, The Times They are a Changing’ (1964) Directed by: Daryl Duke Starring: Bob Dylan

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 13-year-old leadership and career development 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 some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

When A New Guy Gets Your Promotion

I have not counted how many times over the past 13 years someone has come to me to help them move up or out after their company hired a new guy for the position that they felt was their next move upward. If I had to guess, I’d say about 100.

Of them, some have only wished that their supervisor would have thought about them and recommended them for the job, but never actually verbalized their desire or made attempts to understand if there were knowledge gaps they needed to fill.

Then there are a portion of them who had made their ambitions quite clear, but felt it was a natural progression, not as if there were gaps in knowledge or experience that they needed to fill in order to be qualified for the next level up.

In both of these scenarios, a short and long-term solution is to coach the individuals to be appropriately assertive and proactive in seeking understanding about what is really needed in order to be ready for the next step up.

The first stage is always qualifying that it is, in fact, the right next step. Too many people become managers because that seems like, or is presented as, the only way to move up. This leads to a large number of managers who have neither the desire nor the training to know how to motivate and inspire engagement and performance. They then usually resort to being taskmasters, micromanagers and even tyrants. They are responsible for a team of people to meet numbers and use fear as a tool because their tool kit is limited. This becomes a vicious cycle, as one manager trains the next and on up they go, unconsciously creating a toxic culture.

Please, if you aspire to be a corporate leader, learn how to use inspiration, trust, recognition, self-awareness, accountability and mobility as tools. Then practice them under the guidance of a coach to influence from wherever you are now, and brand yourself internally and externally as a leader.

In yet a third scenario, the professional has been as proactive and assertive as possible to procure performance feedback and identify and fill knowledge gaps. However due to any number of reasons – politics, nepotism, vendettas, a complete failure on a leader’s part to thoroughly prepare team members for promotion, or failure on the professional’s part to make accomplishments visible – promotions still go to someone else.

In all three scenarios, branding would be a smart next step. However, only in the third scenario would I suggest an all-out strategic campaign to change companies.

In the meantime, operate under the assumption that this new person might be better at something than you, and find out what it is. You will most certainly know better than them the inner workings of your company. Befriend the new guy, ask for opportunities to show him or her the ropes, and show everyone that you do have what it takes to take on more.

Think back to when you were a new person and think about the things that you learned in your first 90 days that made a difference in your results, and I’m not talking about what you learned about the other people you work with.

Don’t be that guy that warns the new guy about office gossip, or the hardhead, or the ego maniac. These are opinions, even if multiple people share them. All the new guy will think is that you are judgmental and they will be wary to trust you. Stick with the facts and note when something you pass on is a subjective observation, like “The boss prefers that all KPIs are blue in the weekly report.”

I don’t think I have to tell people to not be a saboteur to the new guy, but it does happen. It can be tempting to want the boss to see they made a mistake by not giving you the promotion, but that’s not the outcome that is usually produced by being a saboteur. In fact, more often than not, it just confirms that you were not the right person for the promotion.

Start becoming more aware of when your ego is kicking in and make it a habit to start switching into your higher self – your higher self is the one that gets promotions, not your ego.

Sometimes it happens that a promotion was not granted due to timing. In an ideal world, open communication and accurate foresight would enable an employee and supervisor to have a frank, two-way conversation about the real expectations of a promotion – the hours, the responsibility, the travel, and the pressures. The employee would be able to discuss the changes with any personal stakeholders, like family members, who would be impacted by any changes in lifestyle and make the decision that is best for everyone, even if that means giving up a significant raise.

This is not an ideal world. With about half of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, extreme increases in the cost of living (when you include the technology needed to get by today, not to mention keeping up with the Jones’), increasing healthcare costs, higher education debt, and the perception of shortages of opportunity even though it is a job seeker’s market, whether it’s the right next step or not, few people would turn down a promotion. If an employee has personal things going on that a manager feels may interfere with being able to meet the expectations, that frank conversation may never happen. I do not condone this – this is just a far too common reality.

External candidates are sometimes chosen over internal candidates because managers know too much about the internal candidate’s life.

Have you endured or are you about to face a big life change? Have you missed days to deal with something personal? Has it become a trend?

It can feel unfair. It can feel like neglect, abandonment, or misfortune. It can also sometimes be a blessing. In a few of the cases I have mentioned above with prospective clients, the professional wound up needing that time to adequately deal with a major life change. While, of course, I am all about supporting people in moving up, over, or out, sometimes staying put is what works best at the time. Not aspiring to achieve more in your career in order to manage life is totally okay and it doesn’t have to be permanent. However, you will need to make it known if and when your aspirations change and you want to get back on a growth trajectory.

In most cases, getting passed up for a promotion was the impetus of change that led my clients to far greater happiness and fulfillment – the kick in the pants they needed to start taking control of their career direction.

If you want to know more about how to:

• Assess what the best next step in your career is
• Develop greater self-awareness to become more promotable
• Gain additional tools that will expand your influence and leadership
• Communicate assertively and confidently with your supervisor
• Be the person that gets thought of first for a promotion, even if you previously needed to stay still for a while
• Brand or rebrand yourself for what’s next in your career and what’s after that

Scheduling a free consultation is your next step.

Survivor – The Search Is Over (Official Music Video)

Survivor’s official music video for ‘The Search Is Over’. Click to listen to Survivor on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/SurvSpot?IQid=SurvTSIO As featured on Ultimate Survivor.

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 13-year-old leadership and career development 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 some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award.