Careers

New Questions for Workplaces in 2020

We saw some tough headlines in the last 10 years force companies to do some deep evaluation of their culture and policies. A few companies emerged as trailblazers, applying breakthroughs in research, technology, and science. They spotted trends before the rest, and started their own trends for the rest to follow (or not).

All the things that we can measure have exploded. We are now drowning in so much data that the next big feat looks to be figuring out what is actually meaningful and consequential to sustainable growth.

As much shade and slack that millennials are thrown from the other workforce generations, they certainly drove many changes. We’ve seen a transition to mobile-focused marketing and an intuitive user experience, along with greater focus on employee rewards.

Now that we’re wrapping up this decade and a new generation is entering the workforce, what do we see on the horizon that will prove influential in the evolution of careering, hiring, and leadership?

Without knowing who will become president, it’s hard to predict what will happen with healthcare, student debt, and consumer debt. Certainly, if healthcare becomes universal, many companies will be forced to completely reinvent how they plan on attracting and retaining employees who were working mostly for benefits. In my 20 years working with job seekers and job changers, I have known many who, if it weren’t for the need for medical benefits, would have opted for self-employment.

Employee benefits

Here are some statistics that can help show just how influential benefits have been in recruitment and retention strategies:

  • 49% of the US workforce currently receives healthcare benefits from their employer.
  • 78% of workers would likely remain with their employer because of the benefits it offers, up from 72% in 2016. (WTW)
  • More than 50% of employees said they have left jobs after hearing the siren calls of better benefits elsewhere. (Randstad)
  • 55% of employees would be somewhat likely to accept a job with lower compensation but a more robust benefits package. (Aflac)
  • 56% of U.S. adults with employer-sponsored health benefits said that whether or not they like their health coverage is a key factor in deciding to stay at their current job. (SHRM)
  • 46% said health insurance was either the deciding factor or a positive influence in choosing their current job. (SHRM)

Keep in mind there are many companies with employees dedicated to helping employers manage health care plan enrollment and administration. Will companies let these employees go or retrain them for other roles within the company?

Employee wellness

A Limeade study found that when employees feel their employer cares about their well-being, there is a significant boost in engagement, retention, workplace reviews, and “extra mile” efforts while hostility is reduced by ten times. Larger companies offer more benefits than any other size companies, and yet they have the lowest engagement. So, we can surmise that offering good healthcare benefits is not enough to make employees feel cared for and/or that offering employer-sponsored healthcare does not correlate to engagement at all, though it does correlate to candidate attraction and retention.

Wellness programs have become wildly popular as well. However, as more companies implemented costly wellness programs, most struggled with adoption and recouping the investment. (We’ve covered why in a 2-part article this year.)

We saw some influential leaders emerge as authors, as well, shedding light on issues like gender gaps in pay and opportunity, sexual harassment, workplace bullying, cyber security, engagement, and physical security.

  • Shawn Achor taught us that being happy at work DOES indeed lead to better engagement.
  • Studies on meditation at work increased exponentially, with new benefits emerging all the time. Companies like Google, Aetna and higher learning institutions like Brown, NYU and Harvard are weaving mindfulness and meditation into core cultural and education initiatives.
  • Ariana Huffington highlighted the need for creative minds to rest.
  • Travis Bradberry has been educating Fortune 500 companies on the implications of Emotional Intelligence.
  • Cy Wakeman has smartly asserted and demonstrated that engagement efforts without accountability breed entitlement.
  • Sheryl Sandberg encouraged women to lean in, own their seat at the table and find a sponsor, not another mentor.

With the rise of school and workplace shootings, we remain to see whether gun control becomes a major area of change or not. Mental health is another key issue. While people are shining a light on how mental illness has become an epidemic, sufferers are crying out to end the stigma.

Just a couple weeks ago Philadelphia Eagles offensive linemen Brandon Brooks left the field in the first quarter due to a debilitating anxiety attack that caused extreme nausea. He stated he was not ashamed nor embarrassed about the event. In the last decade, more and more celebrities came clean about their struggles with anxiety and depression. Others lost their battles before we even knew they were suffering. It’s clear no one is impervious to mental illness. The conversation about how to best treat and support those suffering is just starting, let alone how to address it in the workplace.

Being “woke” is going out of vogue as spiritual elitists fail to be influential in inspiring change. Authenticity, accessibility, and being vulnerable are proving to be much more effective.

Keeping all of this in mind, there are new questions we should be asking in the workplace.

In 2020 and beyond, companies should be able to answer these questions:

How do you address mental health in your workplace?

Are clear protocols in place for employees experiencing hardships?

Are there HR policies in place to protect employees who wish to get help for mental illness?

What is the company policy for determining if an employee needs urgent or professional care for mental illness?

What does the company do to support mental wellness?

How aware are employees of these outlets?

What might stop employees from taking advantage of mental health resources?

What misconceptions do they have?

Here is what I hope to see happening in 2020:

Mindfulness everywhere! It’s not only important for sustainable corporate and individual success, it’s imperative to people and the planet, that we develop self-awareness, emotional intelligence and consciousness at a faster pace than technology evolves.

My Epic Careering Personal Branding tools get funded, built, and adopted on a worldwide scale to put the power of career management back in the hands of the workers. This enables more people to have résumé and LinkedIn content that helps them be identified by employer’s AI as having the potential to succeed in their open and upcoming roles. It also easily communicates the cultural viability of a candidate.

Though I’d prefer people be self-aware and empowered to pursue professional opportunities that align with their innate strengths, joy, and best chance at thriving, employers have to play their part, too. Employers need to be more proactive in helping talent grow up, or even out, from a skills standpoint, a maturity standpoint, and a consciousness standpoint. Leaders must be better coaches. Give people more of a chance to be forthright about their aspirations. Don’t try to retain employees that are better off somewhere else, or who have demonstrated an unwillingness to be coachable and accountable. A person’s best chance at making a meaningful contribution and being fulfilled by it is being in the right job at the right company, as Jim Collins shares in Good to Great.

While technology will surely continue to be tried and applied, and the automated branding journey and content builders will certainly bridge the gap between high-quality talent and the companies who need them, job seekers everywhere are crying out for more HUMAN involvement. Certain applications for technology are not allowing exceptions to rules to get the attention of people who can interpret unconventional strengths as major potential. Let’s let humans do what humans do best – connect with each other and perceive potential.

Personally, I’d like to see one-sided video interviews die. I don’t trust facial recognition AI, nor people, to be free from bias. We’re just not there yet. Two-way (or more) video conferences are a great way to have both candidate and employer feel each other out without the cost and time of travel.

I hope that industries in need of disruption are not sustained just because they employ a lot of people and make a lot of money. Someone needs to step in and make sure that when a faster, better way of healing people, feeding people, housing people, shopping, etc. comes along, there are affordable and accessible programs available to retrain people to get even better jobs.

I hope internet connectivity reaches all corners of the planet and new, profitable opportunities are available to poor and oppressed countries, or even parts of our country.

I hope as more heroes emerge with human limits and behavior, we stop vilifying each other for our weaknesses and mistakes. Certainly, serious offenders will need consequences, but we can’t set the bar so high for leaders that they need to be perfect. This only leads to cover-ups and corruption. I hope we value accountability, honesty, and forgiveness more than we value perfection so more worthy leaders can emerge.

If healthcare was universal, it would no longer be a major driving decision of where a person works. This would absolutely force companies who want to compete for talent to pay closer attention to offering what actually engages people: opportunities for learning, growth and expansion. Plus, a salary that not only pays the bills, but funds a desirable lifestyle now and as we age.

What are your hopes for 2020?

https://youtu.be/THnabGK7mPs

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. 

What If Corporate Talent Worked the Same as Athletic or Performance Talent… Is It Time to Consider It?

“I’ll have my people call your people.”

From time to time people tell me that their job search is taken care of because they have recruiters working on it.

Oh, if only.

I’d estimate that the odds of your recruiters actually being out there searching for opportunities for you is 1,000:1.

One out of every 1,000 recruiters will take time away from the 3-6 “hot” job requirements assigned to them at any given moment (positions for which clients are impatiently awaiting a small handful of perfect candidates), to proactively search for job requirements they are NOT working on so that they can find an opportunity for which to present you.

You might be thinking, “but if they place me, that’s money in their pocket, so…” So, you think that they are dividing their time between efforts on your behalf, and phone screening, interviewing, referencing, testing and packaging candidates for the jobs they have a chance at closing right in front of them?

You think that they are searching the jobs other recruiters are working on in hopes maybe that recruiter will offer a split fee to share you?

Or maybe they are looking to gain some new clients by dangling a superstar in front of them?

Or maybe out of the goodness of their heart, or even in consideration of their personal brand, they will take time away from income-producing activities while they are on the job to let other people know just how great you are and how much you deserve consideration?

I’m not saying this doesn’t happen, it just happens a lot less than you’d hope – 1/1000 of the time.

If you are relying on recruiters to make sure you know about opportunities as they arise, you are making a very common mistake of assuming recruiters have time to spare. Recruiters are notorious for failing to follow up. Again, this isn’t a truth for all recruiters, but most models restrict recruiters from spending time outside of producing and presenting qualified, competitively-priced candidates.

They can’t meet their metrics and their income goals if they do this. It’s why I started to resent being a recruiter and considered becoming a coach, and it’s why you see many other recruiters also coaching.

But what if corporate talent management operated more like professional sports and entertainment management?

What if whenever you were ready for your next big blockbuster hit, you had people working on it and trying to find you that next big gig (plus the paycheck to match it)?

Let’s rewind a bit, because in entertainment you’d still need an impressive portfolio and headshot. Much like in the corporate arena, you’d need a distinctive résumé and LinkedIn profile. In sports, it’s your buzz, your stats, and a killer highlight reel that get you the attention of recruiters. An agent will make sure you have all of the above, and they may offer that service in house or refer you to a trusted expert. Either way, that’s a charge that you, the talent, incur. They would spin your story as one of a star-in-the-making, and hype up your value for you. They would consult to you on managing your image and the narrative.

Then, an industry talent agent taps their network of industry players to find out who needs what you offer, what challenges there are, who is making the decision and when, how long you’d be needed, and what it pays. They mediate between the producers and casting agents to coordinate auditions or readings, and sell, sell, sell them on hiring you while you work your magic and do what you do best to earn the part. Then, if your performance matches the hype, your agent does all of the compensation, conditions and terms negotiating to make you as happy as possible.

The agent gets paid, takes 10-20% of your contract, and pays you the rest.

Think about 10% of your current income. Have you invested 10% of your income on things that will increase your career success and income, as most financial stability/freedom gurus recommend?

Now think about how much you’d spare of your income if someone actually helped you increase your income. Let’s say you make $100K annually. That would be a $10K per year investment, but what if investing $10K got you a $25K raise that year to take an opportunity that also elevated your career, impact, and influence.

Why isn’t this model used in corporate talent management?

Let me first say that there are firms who operate as agencies. Some will even postpone payment until you land while others will help you hone all of your marketing tools, like your résumé and LinkedIn profile, and then promote you to their “elite” network full of VIPs and corporate executives.  They may or may not require that you sign with them “exclusively,” meaning even if you land an opportunity not developed by them, they still get their fee. It’s the only way it could make sense for agents.

I would think that would decentivize job seekers to own their own campaign, and leaving your fate solely in someone else’s hands still seems dis-empowering. How can you be sure that the best possible opportunities were identified?

Have you used this kind of service? Please share if this worked for you, because I have my doubts.

It’s hard to believe that an executive in need of talent would entertain the solicitation of an agent representing a talent they don’t know. I know some recruiters and account managers do try to get a shot at filling a prominent placement by presenting a “dummy” profile filled with impressive stats. In those cases, the recruiter is expecting to get paid by the company should they hire someone, but an agent gets paid by… well, they still get paid by the company. This is because their fees would be negotiated into the salary just as a recruiter’s fee would be.

It can work, but I have to believe that this works a lot less often than if the talent were to personally approach that same executive, even digitally, and conveyed stories instead of stats that demonstrate how he or she can help the company achieve what they aim to achieve.

Times are changing, however. This is the first “job seekers” market I’ve ever witnessed. Maybe now, while the people have the power, is the right time for this model to become more prevalent.

It’s true that usually someone else’s endorsement can be more powerful and influential than your own. Does it reduce credibility if that someone is incentivized to endorse you?

Hiring managers and executives – What would it take for you to entertain interviewing a candidate that was represented by an agent?

Will this just turn hiring into a process where the best sales pitch gets the job? Wait a second. How different is that from our current reality? The difference is that the hiring manager would be dealing with a professional pitch master. Would professional pitch masters be trusted? Would it matter if the talent is truly great?

If this started working on a more consistent basis, more often than having someone in your network recommend you and more often than an effectively written cover letter targeting that person/job, how long would this model work for? Would it still be a valid practice if the economy shifted the other way?

Please share your thoughts and concerns as an ambitious talent or as a hiring manager/executive.

What are some other pros and cons to this approach and what the obstacles you perceive to it being adopted?

Does this solve other problems?

How could it be structured for the optimal benefit of all parties?

Fats Domino – I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Someday

Deluxe edition of Fats Domino’s greatest hits including “My Girl Josephine”, “I’m Ready” and more.. ♫ Listen to the full best of on YouTube → http://bit.ly/2BSub7B ⇓ Stream on Spotify / Deezer → http://spoti.fi/2H8nZI5 / http://www.deezer.com/album/5966978

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. 

10 Reasons NOT to Apply for Jobs Online

Applying online is a dangerous job search habit, and one that can really restrict your opportunity and chances of landing something that is truly a great career move. Even though job seekers are taught and told over and over again by career experts like myself that applying online is a last resort, it remains a go-to resource for job seekers.

I believe there are three primary reasons for this:

  1. In this world of instant gratification, it seems to easy to resist the low hanging fruit. It seems logical to assume that you have to “strike while the iron is hot!” It’s really a case of FOMO (fear of missing out.) The thing is, fear is not a good emotion to make truly logical decisions. I will lay down some logic here that I hope will strike a chord and make obvious that applying to positions you find online is really the last activity you should invest time in.
  2. Habits run on autopilot in your subconscious mind. You may just go on applying without giving it much conscious thought. When I work with clients on their campaign, coaching and habit tracking tools are necessary to install a new workflow that will eventually run on autopilot – one that actually produces great results, reinforces your value, builds confidence and hope, and generates momentum with even less time and effort. These positive results further reinforce the more effective workflow until they become automatic. This turns career management into a pull rather than a push. However, if people are unaware of their automatic programming, it will continue to run undisrupted.
  3. The investment of time in more proactive, targeted efforts to pursue a role seems to feel and look like a delay to being in action. People get antsy knowing there’s a desirable position open and they’re not on record as being in the candidate pool. It’s true – the alternatives to applying online can take more time than simply clicking a button to apply. However, sometimes online job applications are time consuming and they still don’t get you any closer to being considered, let alone being in demand.

Still, here are the top 10 reasons why fighting the impulse to apply online will help your chances of positioning yourself as a real contender for the ultimate offer.

#1 – The Chances Your Application is Seen by Human Eyes

The quality of online applicants compared to the quality of employee referrals, in addition to other metrics that are more frequently tracked like time to onboard, have taught astute hiring professionals that their time is best invested proactively pursuing referrals from trusted talent and contacts while applications roll in as a last resort. Candidates who apply online will often only get looked at after internal candidates, referrals from employees, referrals from friends, and submitted candidates from approved recruiting vendors.

If you are a “cold” candidate, you have to rely on luck and keyword optimization to push you toward the top of the results in the case that referrals don’t pan out. This makes your résumé a tool that can either help you or hurt you, depending on how well it is written to match keywords. This doesn’t give you a whole lot of power to make something happen.

#2 – The Chances of You Getting Hired

Then, if your application is seen by human eyes, those keywords better show up in a context to validate the strength of your qualifications, at a minimum, and your unique value and culture fit, at best. If there are any anomalies in your experience, such as gaps or shorter stints, you have to cross your fingers that there aren’t applicants who appear equally or more qualified, and less risky. You can be moved from a “maybe” pile to a “no” pile quickly.

#3 – Inadequate Competitive Positioning

Even if you do get into the “yes” pile, you have no idea what the human’s perspective is on what position you are in to get an interview. I hope your LinkedIn profile is branded to help you make a strong case for why you’re a great hire and that other candidates don’t come from more trusted sources. It’s not always beneficial to interview first, but if the interviewer doesn’t have any insight as to who you are beyond your résumé, the interview will be conducted somewhat generically compared to how they would conduct the interview if someone had given you a strong endorsement or even if you had been able to effectively endorse yourself in a cover letter. From this position, the interviewer is then more interested in selling you the opportunity than in validating your résumé and mitigating the risk of the unknown that cold candidates present.

#4 – Nullifying Employee Referral Bonuses

While so many top companies have employee referral bonus programs and cite employee referrals as their top source of great talent, they are often under-leveraged, poorly promoted, and disorganized efforts. That means that when there is an opening in a company on your target list, even if you’ve given someone there a heads up that you’re interested, they won’t be made aware of the job opening, and they won’t be proactively seeking out opportunities to refer people for internal roles. I have certainly informed several people who were unaware that their company even offered an employee referral bonus, even though it was on their company’s employee or career page.

We’re all time starved, so it often takes incentives to get people to act on your behalf. Some of these employee referral bonuses can be over $1,000. I don’t know many people who wouldn’t want an extra $1,000 for spending a couple minutes referring someone. Of course, you will have had to reassure them that you will be a strong candidate and a good hire for them to stake their social capital on you.

If you are already an applicant, some employee referral bonus programs will not give credit to an internal referral source.

#5 – Disqualifying Recruiters from Presenting You

It’s certainly more beneficial for you to be recommended by an employee with social capital and clout, but some recruiters have done a fantastic job of building rapport and credibility with hiring managers. That’s why being presented for opportunities by a trusted recruiter may give you a bit of an edge over all the other cold candidates. A recruiter’s job, after all, is to weed out unqualified or unfitting candidates and whittle a candidate pool down to 4 or so top contenders.

When a great recruiter has a strong relationship and understanding of his or her client, the candidates submitted by him or her get top consideration. Of course, you’ll want to qualify your recruiters, and be forthright about where you have already applied. The clients will not involve themselves in any candidate ownership battles. Most of them are clear that only new candidates can be presented by their recruiting vendors; the company already “owns” candidates that come in directly through their career site or other job boards.

#6 – HR Arbitrary Check Boxes

As Liz Ryan pointed out on Twitter last week:

Liz Ryan on Twitter

A hiring manager – that is, your possible future boss – has a completely different perspective and set of of needs from whatever HR is looking for in their tick-a-box exercises. That’s why you have to reach your hiring manager directly, and skip the online job application

 

Why is that? Well, a number of reasons. Just like recruiters can have a solid reputation with hiring managers, they can also lose credibility with hiring managers. Still, they are required to comply with HR procedures, so they will pass along the minimal required details to get HR started on pre-qualifying candidates just in case their network or own individual efforts fail to produce quality candidates, who may or may not get a fair shake.

Another reason is that hiring managers are just more intimately familiar with the nuances of the job and what kinds of people, personalities, and talents lend themselves to success, but the internal HR system doesn’t allow for those nuances to be articulated. It can be too time consuming to communicate those nuances, or the hiring manager isn’t able to articulate them for one reason or another.

Still another possible reason is that passing along check lists is the only way companies have thought of to eliminate having to review unqualified people. They choose things they believe will help improve the chances of hiring someone able to ramp up quickly. At the same time, they systematically rule out people with unconventional careers who can add truly unique value.

A hiring manager has more latitude and perspective to see how out-of-the-box candidates might be able to add something to their team that conventional candidates can’t – IF they have vision, that is.

#7 – Time Suck

You might consider job activities a numbers game, but this is one of the huge myths that lead job seekers to become frustrated and discouraged. When it comes to ROI (return-on-investment) of time in your job search, online applications return the fewest results. Even the results they do produce can be a crap shoot in terms of opportunities that represent your best chances at thriving and succeeding in your new role.

If you invest time based on the probability of that resource producing quality results, you would spend 80% of your time networking (the right way) and 5% of your time on online job boards and filling out applications. After three weeks doing this, you will see your momentum shift at least 3 points on a 1-10 scale.

Limbo sucks. Change is hard. It might seem like applying online will be your best bet at a quick transition, especially if you have reached a senior level in your position. However, you will find that building momentum toward really GOOD opportunities takes more effort, more time and more energy when you’re spending most of your time online.

#8 – The Emotional Abyss

This is the real heartbreaking thing about online-driven job campaigns.  People start to question their worth, their viability, and their chances at improving their financial status. When online campaigns fail, people will blame themselves. This heightens the emotional stress of interviews, impeding your performance. Each interview feels like it “has” to work out. You may find yourself overselling yourself for opportunities that you wouldn’t even consider if you had a competing offer. You may even think you have to make yourself look less qualified. All of the visions of growing and developing in your career seem unlikely, like pipe dreams you have to abandon. You might feel like you’re letting your family down. Worse, you’ll feel like you’re letting yourself down.

In this emotional state, it’s much easier for unethical, inhuman employers to take advantage of your desperation. You may find yourself in a much worse situation, feeling stuck, feeling victimized – unaware that you can actually take control and make something happen.

It’s the whole negative tailspin of career confidence that is the worst part of relying on online efforts to produce results. You’ll never even know how great you could have had it, and you’re unlikely to believe you can have it any better.

Watching my mom go through this emotional abyss is why I do this work in the first place. It seriously breaks my heart.

#9 – The Flood of Irrelevant, Illegitimate Inquiries

I do recommend that my clients set up agents on job boards, and that they set aside 15-30 minutes twice a week to go through them all at once. This helps them better identify redundant postings, and decreases the chances they are persuaded by opportunities that don’t fit what they said they wanted.

Job boards are very misleading representations of how much opportunity is available. You might be tempted to pursue something that is not something you’d otherwise consider, as stated above, and that includes the flood of inquiries that you get to your profile on these job boards that are huge wastes of time disguised as “great opportunities for growth and income.”

Consider this – if technology has not progressed far enough to automatically send you relevant, legitimate opportunities that fit the criteria you entered, how well do you think it’s performing for recruiters in search of candidates? Even AI hasn’t yet made a dent in the quality of results.

#10 – It Is Passive and Inactive

Online resources keep you sedentary and tied to your computer, which isn’t great for your health or mood. Surrendering your power to some unknown force on the other end of an application also isn’t beneficial to you. The best job searches turn fun into results. Spend less time grinding away, and more time on self-care and enriching your life with new contacts.

If you don’t find networking fun, you’re probably not networking with your people. You also probably don’t know what to say that will inspire them to take action, and you were likely disappointed by people who weren’t able or willing to help you in the past.

Networking is not supposed to look like superficial schmoozing with people you don’t like. It’s more like a scavenger hunt that’s more fun with friends – a way to find the people who need you through people who like you and vice versa.


The bottom line when it comes to online campaigns is that there are just better, smarter, and more empowering ways to get yourself closer to the opportunities that are really right for you.

If you’re unsure what they are, I’ve embedded links to helpful articles throughout this post, but you can always reach out to me for some custom insights by scheduling a free consultation.

Mariah Carey – Make It Happen (Official Video)

Music video by Mariah Carey performing Make It Happen. YouTube view counts pre-VEVO: 21,232 (C) 1991 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT #MariahCarey #MakeItHappen #Vevo

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. 

Prepare Your Phone Screen Playbook to Get to the Next Level

Phone screens are like open book tests. You have to have the right playbook for it to help you. Otherwise it’s like copying off the person who never scores higher than a D. You could have gotten a D all on your own without even trying. What’s the point of that?

Firstly, understand that there’s probably more research to do than you think. Don’t try cramming all in one night. You’ll want to have all of your notes together and organized prior to the night before.

Even if you can refer to your notes, you still want to know them well enough to know which parts to reference based on the questions. You won’t have a lot of control over what questions are asked and in what order. So if you’re fumbling while trying to find the right response to a question, your heart will start ticking like a clock with each second that passes. That’s not the state of mind that performs best. You’ll have to manage the interview a bit like a dance you’re not leading, so stay agile.

As soon as you know you’ll have an interview, start researching. Cross reference what you find out about a company with what you want in your next opportunity. Anywhere there is a gap between what you want and what you can find out online, make a note of that item. This will be your agenda for pre-interview calls with your interviewer. Start a company report, and then copy and paste information on key people, values, initiatives, industry challenges, etc. Go way deeper than just looking at the company’s website. I recommend creating a Google alert on the company and key people, especially the person who would be your direct supervisor and/or your interviewer.

Try to find these key people on social media, especially Twitter where it seems people reveal more about their opinions and values. Note if they are married/single, have kids, love to travel certain places, have an obvious political inclination, have hobbies, enjoy certain artists or shows, etc. Even though you won’t necessarily use this information to build a personal report, it will certainly help you to keep this personal information in the back of your mind. If they’ve shared any of this information on LinkedIn or in their Twitter handle, then it’s pretty public and could be free game. The data points you find when digging deeper should be kept to yourself otherwise it could come off as too private and creepy.

Even if you don’t discuss your findings directly, having an idea of a person’s interests and personality can still help you build trust. Are they private, conservative, do they have a sense of adventure, what are their values? What qualities do they admire? What companies and influencers do they follow (consider quoting one)? All of this considered, just remember – don’t try to be something that you’re not! That never works out well in the end. However, if you genuinely have something in common with the interviewer, you may see an opportunity to take advantage of that. It may sound dirty, but people prefer to work with people they like and trust, and having things in common can be a trust signal.

Next, have at least one achievement story for each top quality, experience, method, or talent that distinguishes you from the competition. Connect the dots between your distinctive value, the problems, challenges and initiatives of the target company/hiring manager, and what you have been able to achieve in your employment history. If you’re asked to walk through your experience, make sure you highlight the themes of what makes you the best candidate. For instance, if you’ve always been great at identifying market trends, walk your interviewer through a highlight reel describing the specific times you succeeded at doing just that. These themes should be related to what will make a candidate successful in the role. If you can validate your aptitude early on in the phone screen, do that.

Have answers and stories prepared, but don’t write them out like an article. Make an outline, cutting out as many extra words as possible. This should look more like bulleted talking points, like a politician uses before a debate or media appearance. Boldface key phrases and points that you definitely want to relay.

Another tip is to determine which questions make you most nervous and figure out why! Are you scared of revealing something? Chances are that fear will be picked up by your interviewer, even over the phone. If they sense there’s a potential risk in your fear, they’ll either dig deeper, or let it go but this uncertainty won’t really be gone. It will be lingering in their mind as an unknown variable that leaves a gaping hole for another candidate to surpass you in the process.

Practice the KISS principal when it comes to these questions (keep it simple, stupid.) Don’t go into an elaborate story – there is a time and a place for elaborating, but this isn’t the time to risk the interviewer getting caught up in details. Understand what the risk is from the employer’s perspective. If discussing a time you made a mistake, the most reassuring way to approach the situation is to own your mistake and the impact that it had. Then, move on to demonstrating how you’ve worked on never making that mistake again. It may seem risk to admit an error, but you’ll come across as genuine, which is much easier to trust than someone who never admits to making mistakes.

Finally, if the interview question has to do with conflicts between yourself and coworkers, vendors, clients or your boss, stick to facts that all objective parties would agree upon. Don’t chronicle all events, but rather share only the relevant ones that help you make a case for your character, skills, and/or problem solving abilities. If you have to recount a specific conversation, be sure to recall the exact words that were said. Again, if you misread the situation, point out your revelation and how you would handle it now that you have more wisdom. If the situation repeated itself but with your new awareness you handled it better, take the opportunity to briefly share that story.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you ace your phone screening as well as your subsequent interviews. Remember there are steps you can take to prepare yourself for questions that will likely be asked of you. Additionally, take the time to research and get a feel for the work culture of the company you’re applying to and get familiar with the personality style of your interviewer. If you employ these tips on your next phone screening, please feel free to share how they helped you in the comments section.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (2012) – Music Video: Alabama Shakes “Always Alright”

Pre-listen: Soundtrack Snippets of Danny Elfman’s “Silver Linings Playbook” @ http://www.chongweikk.com/2012/11/soundtrack-snippets-of-danny-elfmans.html ******* Lyrics: Well you come up stairs in the night to talk Stay a little while then you do a little walk on home I hear you downstairs smoking cigerettes, I hear your talking shit Cuz you aint got

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. 

How Does a Professionally Branded Résumé Give You More Bang for Your Buck?

When hiring a professional résumé writer, it can be tempting to price shop. However, it’s important, even critical for the unemployed, to know what kind of return you can expect on that investment because you don’t know how long you’ll need that money to last.

That’s why I’ve created a specific process to build professionally branded résumés that ensure top-quality results.

What does the process look like?

Stages of my Epic Branding Life Cycle:

  1. Consultation/Interview
  2. Delivery of Branding Points
  3. Mini360°
  4. Finalization/Prioritization of Branding Points
  5. Mega Document Audit
  6. Request for Additional Information – Gap Fill Using Story Formula
  7. First Draft Delivery (5-10 business days from receipt of additional information from client)
  8. 60-minute draft review
  9. Semi-final draft delivery
  10. Client 10/10 rating and 100% satisfaction
  11. Continue with next document or campaign strategy and coaching

Let’s not get too far ahead, though. If you want to try this on for size, start with a free consultation.

Free Branding Breakthrough Consultation

Admittedly, I won’t be successful working with all candidates in all situations. It is a top priority that when you invest in my services, you get return on investment. While there aren’t many instances where I can’t provide ROI, I will be forthright and give you whatever guidance or referrals I can to point you to a solution for your situation.

That being said, if you have experienced long-term unemployment, are changing industries or roles, have reputation issues, or have been underemployed or underpaid, I’m highly adept at helping you get over the hump of these challenges to reach your goals and have many testimonials to prove it.

If you are not yet at least 80% certain of your target role, you are not ready to move forward with the branding process and I will help you determine if my career discovery services can help you achieve that clarity.

Sometimes personalities clash and visions don’t align. Sometimes your target role can be outside of what I consider myself an expert in, and I may recommend another provider. Sometimes my approach doesn’t work with your timeline and expectations.

The consultation is a great way to try before you buy. If we partner in this process, we’ll be working very closely together. I may need to be able to confront you if you are not working in your best interests. It’s not tough love, but it is compassionate coaching without judgment. It’s best to know ahead of time if you can handle this and if my way of working with you works for you.

Regardless of whether we fit or not, I will deliver value and immediate practical advice that you can apply right away to see a difference in your momentum. If you have not been satisfied with the results you have been getting with your tools and efforts so far, I will help you understand probable reasons why and viable solutions that will help you make the necessary shift to see better results.

The Proposal

Often you will receive a proposal prior to the free branding breakthrough consultation if it’s clear from information you provide what journey(s) will enable you to reach your goals. Otherwise, I’ll at least explain that branding services that include résumé and LinkedIn profile writing range from $1,000 – $2,500, and campaign support services are between $2,000 and $15,000. I’ll do my best to estimate on the call where in that range you’re expected to fall, and then follow up with an exact proposal that outlines your specific investment for the journey(s) being recommended.

You will see that while I require payment upfront for most journeys, I also offer guarantees (very few résumé writing services and career coaches offer these) and use PayPal, which allows you to pay over a 6-month time period at 0% financing (pending you are approved). I have taken as much risk out of this decision as possible!

You Choose

Once you confirm your desire to partner and specify which journey(s) you will take with me, you will be invoiced using PayPal, be sent a link to schedule your branding consultation, and receive a request for supporting documentation that may include, but is not limited to:

  • Job descriptions/postings for target roles (copied and pasted vs. URLs, which expire)
  • Internal job descriptions
  • Personality and/or strength assessments (I may recommend some prior, depending)
  • Performance evaluations
  • Informal kudos or testimonials you’ve received (I’ll import your LinkedIn recommendations)
  • Letters of recommendation

The more documentation you send, the more time prior to the consultation I’ll need to review it. I ask for at least 24 hours.

If you don’t have any of the above supporting documents, my process will ensure that we will still get where we need to go.

NOTE: Should you need to reschedule, please text 610-888-6939.

Your Branding Consultation

At the scheduled time, I will call you promptly at the number you include on the scheduling form.

I will have already developed questions cued from your materials so that I have a rough “bread crumb” trail to follow. All of the content you send to me prior to our consultation is copied and pasted into one master document, which I call a mega document.

We will talk more about your target role, criteria, and the conditions you will need to thrive in your new role. I will share with you my insight based on 20 years of experience working closely with employers and my expertise on employment trends what your audience will need to know about you in order to qualify you.

From there, the process is somewhat organic. One answer may lead to additional questions. I will stop you if I feel that we are straying from relevant stories and information. It is critical to me that we use our time efficiently and effectively.

Otherwise you can assume, even if you are going on a tangent, that you are providing excellent, relevant information.

At some point, you may be compelled to say, “Good question!” That is because my keen intuition enables me to understand where we need to delve deeper.

We will both come to an agreement about what qualities, experience, talents and skills distinguish you for your target role and employer.

At the end of your branding consultation, you will feel understood, proud, confident, and hopeful. You may have a new appreciation for yourself and all you have done, especially if it went unnoticed or unrecognized by your previous employer(s). You will feel more certain that all that you have to offer is needed, not by everyone, but by a particular segment of the market that your new content will now be able to recognize easily, allowing you to attract the RIGHT opportunities that represent your maximum opportunity to succeed, grow, and earn.

The First Deliverable – Branding Points

In the hours following your branding consultation, I will analyze and synthesize the totality of the notes compiled to date in the mega document, which will be well over 10 pages at this point, sometimes as many as 25 pages. I will identify 4-6 primary themes and compose branding points that encapsulate these themes, which are a combination of your qualities, experiences, talents, and outcomes that you produce as a result of having these.

I have found that fewer than 4 branding points does not provide a strong enough foundation to substantiate that you are a uniquely qualified candidate. More than 6 branding points adds unnecessary complexity to substantiating your unique value. Also, emphasizing too much value can inspire skepticism.

Because my goal is to be comprehensive and connect soft and hard skills and outcomes, some of them can be complex, even wordy. This is not representative of your final, outward-facing content.

I’ll deliver your branding points to you within one business day along with a template. It is at this early stage that I have learned it is best to procure feedback from people who know you best.

  • People find it much easier to spare 15 minutes to read and weigh in on 4-6 bullets vs. a several-page résumé or LinkedIn profile content.
  • We want to ensure (before content is created) that all of the unique dynamics that make you a valuable employee are captured from the start, so that the content created can substantiate them.
  • We also want to have a comprehensive, accurate foundation from which all of your branded content can be built so that we can tell a consistent story across various media, even while accommodating language that is germane to each media.*
    • The résumé is written to be concise. Pronouns and excess small words are eliminated for brevity, but it doesn’t sound like you would speak.
    • The LinkedIn profile, though it has character limits and still has a business audience that appreciates brevity, is best written to humanize you. That means it will be written in a more natural voice, in the 1st person.
    • A biography is written as though someone else is introducing you, in the 3rd person. It hits the highlights of your journey. At it’s best, it still expresses a theme to your journey so that it tells a compelling story, rather than chronicling your work history.
    • Other platforms and social media have “voices” as well, e.g. Twitter appreciates sarcasm, and infographics are stories in images, icons, and symbols.

* You may not opt to engage Epic Careering for multiple media, but it is still recommended that all of your content tells a consistent, compelling story by basing it on the branding points provided. 

Mini360°

Along with the branding points, I’ll send you a template that you can use to invite 4 people who know you really well, preferably in various contexts, to provide feedback within 2 business days.

As feedback comes in via e-mail, you’ll forward the feedback right to me. It’s best if I read it raw, exactly as it was written, rather than interpreted or summarized.

I will take none of the feedback personally! My primary focus is making sure that the branding points fully encompass and unveil your brilliance in all its glory.

People will tend to want to wordsmith, and you will probably have someone comment on how long or wordy they may be.

This is OK.

Some of this feedback may not be applied at this stage, which is more about my internal processes, but it can be valuable later in the content creation stage.

Upon receipt of all feedback from you and your contacts, I will hone the branding points. I’ll highlight the changes and make notes to address all of the feedback so that you understand exactly what was applied, what was not, and why. Additional questions that I will need you to answer in order to make sure that the branding points align with your vision of how you want to be promoted will also be included.

Along with the semi-final branding points, I will request that you prioritize them in order of what you want most to be recognized and appreciated for.

The process continues until you communicate that the branding points are 10/10, at which point they are considered final and the next stage begins.

Mega Document Audit/Request for Additional Information

During the branding consultation, you probably will have found it helpful to refer to specific points in time when you overcame a particular challenge, or used your unique qualities to finesse a solution. However, all of the impressive context of that story may not have been captured at the time due to a need to be efficient and effective at uncovering all of your unique value.

It’s also probable that there are additional stories about previous experience that would further support and validate your branding points, perhaps even in a way that your more recent experience would not.

I cross reference your branding points with the mega document, color coding where stories support your branding points. This enables me to see clearly which branding points are substantiated the most by recent and/or previous experiences.

The strategy is to make sure that the higher priority branding points are proven with a majority of the space, or “real estate” on your résumé, and where human eyes can see it more evidently. It also helps me understand where there are gaps in substantiating your branding points and what details of stories are missing, but needed, in order to paint a compelling picture of the value you offer and how you delivered such value in the past in relation to your branding points. This enables us to use a sound strategy for what to include or omit when needing to accommodate constraints on space.

You will be sent one or several requests for additional information that include a formula that enables you to provide only the information that is missing. In all fairness, this can seem like a daunting task for busy executive clients. Because chunks of time are easier to find/make than long periods of time, I recommend that you use your phone’s dictation features to open a reply e-mail, go to the formula, and dictate your answers as you are able. Then save the reply e-mail as a draft. Return to it, continuing to dictate your answers as you are able until it is complete, and then deliver it to me.

If you should get stuck during this process, I encourage you to schedule a call using a link that is shared with all clients so that I can help you work through whatever challenges you face in providing me with this information.

The Draft Design and Content Creation

Upon receipt of the completed information request, the drafting process begins. I have a proven, professional template (available for purchase, along with summary and bullet-building tools) and go to work strategizing and composing content that demonstrates your branding points using hard business terms as concisely as possible without losing the impact of details that build the business case for interviewing you immediately.

Most drafts take 5-7 business days, but sometimes based on the initial consultation and scope assessment it may take 7-10 business days, in which case you will have been informed with the proposal.

Along with your draft, you’ll receive a link to schedule a 60-minute phone review and some guidelines to help me arrive at a final draft that 100% satisfies you sooner than if you were to make comments and send them via e-mail.

60-minute Phone Review

We don’t always need 60 minutes to go over the changes, but some clients want to understand why some things were worded or placed in a particular way, need to provide additional clarity on certain aspects of their achievements, company or role, and just have preferences that I want to understand fully. Not only do I want to accommodate client concerns and answer your questions, but I also have best practices to maintain reader-friendliness and flow.

We won’t take time on this call to wordsmith; that’s best done on MY time after the call. I aim instead to understand the source of any concerns or the nature of your preferences. At times, I may advise you if something stands in contradiction to best practices and trends. As my customer, I will go with your decision, but will also make sure it is a well-educated decision and that the potential impact or consequences of your decision are clear.

Semi-final Draft Delivery

Within 1 business day from the phone review (with few exceptions), a semi-final draft will be delivered. If this draft falls short of the 10/10 rating needed to finalize it, I’ll trust you to use your best judgment in determining if another call is required. You’ll decide if clarity is needed from either party, or if you can communicate desired changes (and reasons) in an e-mail.

Though I aim to finalize the project as quickly as possible so that you can be in action in your job search efforts, I also do not rush you or limit the number of drafts that are created, as long as the target of the résumé remains consistent with what you identified from the beginning of the branding process.

The Final Product

Not only will every story told in your résumé prove your branding points in some way, but they will compound to create a sense of resonance and urgency that you are a HOT candidate that better be scheduled for an interview IMMEDIATELY before the competition swoops you up.

This also positions you as a premier candidate throughout the interview process. A résumé written in this way transforms how an interview is conducted. Rather than answering standard qualification and risk mitigation questions, your interviewer will be compelled to sell you the opportunity, telling you more about the daily, weekly, quarterly and annual goals and promoting the company’s benefits, perks, and growth opportunities. You will have more opportunity to paint a picture of how you will be successful in this role and to ask questions that help you determine if this opportunity is truly a fit for your criteria.

Often clients share that if a position winds up not being a fit, the company is so interested in hiring them that they custom design an opportunity that fits them! There is zero competition for these jobs, and it happens a lot more often than you think!

How This Differs From Other Résumé Writing Services

The investment is on the high end of what you’ll find across the market. This is a reflection of the experience that goes into the process and the quality of the output.

  • Many of the good services you will see out there can turn bland, functional bullets into achievement statements. That doesn’t make them branded. When the bullets align to build a business case for what makes you in-demand talent that your target needs, it’s branded.
    • If you see services offered under $100, the contents of your current résumé will be rearranged and formatted into a reader-friendly, error-free (hopefully), ATS-friendly (hopefully) document. Résumé building services fall into this range. Some of them have content databases where you select your target role/industry and you are offered choices to drag and drop into your résumé that you are then expected to customize to fit your situation.
    • If you are on a budget, have more time than money, and you still want branded content, just use my builder; it’s the only builder available that helps you create branded content and it’s fun to use.
  • My process is front end-heavy to ensure consistent quality backend output. I equate this to sharpening your ax when you want to quickly and precisely chop down a tree.
  • I do require your commitment to a partnership in the process (you have mine)!
  • I apply psychology, hypnotic copywriting, personal hiring experience, data, such as eye-tracing tests, and cutting edge industry best practices to strategically craft and locate content in a reader-friendly way where your audience will expect it. This produces more compelling, distinguishing content that resonates instantly and deeply.
  • Not only have I been a certified professional résumé writer for nearly 10 years, but I also served on the certification committee. I have seen what’s out there, and I have seen the best. I know I am providing a premium quality service! My advice was recognized by Feedspot as some of the best in the world. You are not hiring an admin to word process your résumé when you engage me. You are hiring a top-notch professional with executive-level experience in the employment industry and unprecedented credibility as an adjunct professor.

Not everything that’s fast is better, though I understand if you have an urgent need to supply a potential employer with a résumé so that you can strike while an opportunity is hot. I do not bypass my best practices, however. I have learned that the result is content that fails to produce a return on your investment and falls short of my own high standards. If you are not able to invest time being partners in this project, we just are not a fit to work together, and I wish you success and happiness in your career journey. I hope there will be a better time in the future to work together so that I can support you in optimized career growth, impact, recognition, and income.

As you can see, a lot of experience has gone into designing the branding process so that I’m able to deliver consistent quality that creates results.

Even a professionally branded résumé, however, won’t generate opportunity unless it is seen by someone in a position of power to hire you. The whole reason I do this is to help you get to the finish line. If you aren’t sure how to invest less time in your job search while getting more results, you want to acquire a life skill that will ensure true job security, and you want to form habits that make career growth a pull rather than a push. I invite you to partner with me on your campaign strategy, tools, and execution along with magnetic performance coaching.

Carly Simon – Nobody Does It Better (Live On The Queen Mary 2)

Music video by Carly Simon performing Nobody Does It Better (Live On The Queen Mary 2). (C) 2005 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment http://vevo.ly/f5G1o0

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. 

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.

******

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.

******

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.

*******

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.

******

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.