Hiring/Recruiting

Networking 201 for the Network-Challenged

Last week we talked about how to find great events to begin and expand your comfort zone with networking. 

This week let’s explore what you can do prior to an event that will help you make the most of it.

Let’s assume you were able to identify 5 or 6 great events in the next two weeks that you can attend, and 3 or 4 of them feasibly work with your schedule. 

You have a decision to make right now for some of them with limited attendance and registration cut-off dates.

If they require tickets and you cannot afford to go, as advised last week, contact the organizer(s) to see if they could use an extra volunteer. Once you commit to being a volunteer, show up 15 minutes earlier than you committed to. Follow through, but remember that emergencies happen. Take care of an emergency, but if you say you’ll volunteer and don’t show up, you’ll be lumped into a category of past volunteers who flaked.  In essence, you’re flaky. That’s the opposite impression you want to make.

Not all events require you to commit to going, and I wouldn’t always advise you to be early. Sometimes, it’s best to talk to people when they’re fresh, and sometimes you’ll find that people need some time to warm up and get in the groove. I’ve even showed up to networking events late, which is better than never, and found that the exact person who I wanted to meet was still there and heading to grab a bite to eat, so we did together and accomplished so much.  If you’re just a guest, know that it may not be of consequence to anyone else when you show up. When you show up can be based on what you hope to achieve.

Set your intention. What is the best thing that could happen from you attending this event? Take a moment to visualize it – statistically, this leads to increased chances of synchronicity, or luck.

Check the attendee, speaker, and sponsor lists ahead of time.  If there is someone you want to meet, don’t wait until you’re at the event to approach him or her. You’ll risk competing with many people. Touch base ahead of time via LinkedIn, e-mail, or twitter.  A sample message would be:

“Hi, Rachel.  I’m looking forward to the XGAMA Conference coming up.  I see you’re speaking and wondered if you could meet up for coffee beforehand so that I can help you get what you hope to out of the event. Please let me know if you can show up 20 minutes early.”

You could also invite them to call ahead, but be sure to make it a point to introduce yourself at the event. By then you probably will have established rapport and deepened it by associating your face with your name. 

With whatever they share with you about what they hope to get out of networking, be proactive in delivering it. If you get motivated my missions or games, make it one.  For example, give yourself 5 points for every lead you send another person’s way. Set a goal of 30 points. If you reach 30 points, treat yourself to a milkshake. 

 Do some homework on people. It can help to give you an idea of something you have in common and can use to build rapport. However, even though some of us keep our profile’s mostly public, there is such a thing as knowing too much. What’s fair game? Not kids! Nothing sets alerts off like people who know too much about my kids. Not neighborhoods, either, which is a bit too specific. Avoid scandals, as well. Politics and religion are usually considered taboo, but there is a context for them.

Big trips, public company initiatives, non-profit activities, industry trends, local developments, hobbies, and pop culture are usually safe enough to generate a good conversation that leads to deepening your understanding of another.  

Let’s remember that that is what this is about. You don’t have to mingle with everyone or hobnob with people you have nothing in common with, especially values. On the contrary, you’re there to find the few people who will become strategic partners with you in creating a better future. You’re looking for resonance. Much like a funnel, you might need to meet with 20 people to find 10 who are willing to talk further and then 4 or 5 with whom you will develop deep rapport and synergy. If you’re lucky, at least one of those will become a lifelong friend. 

Generate some questions and practice them.

Develop a powerful call to action. A 2016 blog shared a great formula and example for this. Since then I have enhanced it and created a builder for my clients and students. The enhanced formula is below:

I  am looking for introductions to [who],  who are experiencing [pain/challenge/initiative 1] and [pain/challenge/initiative 2]  so that I can  [solution/skill #1], [solution/skill #2], and [solution/skill #3] so that they can be/do/have [ultimate business outcome #1], [ultimate client/customer outcome #2], and [ultimate emotional outcome #3].

It’s ideal if instead of memorizing, you can hone one statement and become comfortable delivering it naturally. Then as you get comfortable, expand your database for each component for a different audience or to promote a different skill or outcome. It’s like doing Madlibs on the fly. The key to inspiring people to help you are the associated outcomes. The thing that makes your mission and value crystal clear and memorable is the emotional outcome. As logical as we think we are, most of our decisions are driven by emotions. Also, when someone confides in another about their work pain, the tendency is to share the emotional context of a story. This is what clicks for people the most, leading to a moment where you can say, “I know someone who complains about technology breaking” or “I know someone who would love to triumph in their finances!”  This is where the magic happens. 

Before you walk into an event, take a moment to ground and calm yourself. There is a meditation I teach my students and clients that enables you to slow your heart rate and embody your highest self, which makes you more confident and magnetic. There are a lot of meditations out there, any number of which will be beneficial. It matters less with what kind of meditation you do and matters more that you do it. Take some deep breaths. Remind yourself that no matter what, you are loved and whole. You are deserving of your ideal outcome. Then visualize what you intended yet again. 

In the next couple of weeks, we’ll cover more about how to ace networking in the moment, and how to carry the energy forward to make magic happen. 

Please share with us your stories of applying these tips.

 

Bruce Springsteen – I’m Ready (1974-06-03)

Uploaded by Johnny OnTheTop on 2014-06-01.

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

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

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

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

 

Why Using a Flip Phone Could Be Bad For Your Career

Last week we talked about a few of the top soft skills in demand by employers, a few them related to being able to succeed and thrive in spite of conditions like constant change.

Looking ahead, all companies have to prepare and plan for a future where workforces and cultures are built to be agile, but where does this leave the workforce demographics that find change hard?

Before I go further, are you attributing this quality to a particular demographic – one based on socio-economic status, race, gender or age?

That’s a bias, and one that should be easily refutable. Millennials and Gen Zers are thought to be more technically savvy and adaptable, however, it’s hard to go a week in my world without someone complaining about them, who by the way are NOT entry level anymore; many are already managers themselves. The complaints essentially have to do with their inability to be open to criticism, coaching, and wisdom, which are all reflections of resistance to change. Other complaints have to do with a lack of accountability and self-management, attributed to a “participation trophy” upbringing. This, too, is still a reflection of resistance to change.

Bias is the reason for this article. Humans do it. Companies do it. I’m not saying it’s right, but it is natural.

The truth is that all human beings are hard-wired to find change hard; it’s a defense mechanism built into our primitive brain to help us be wary and hyper-alert to potential danger in new situations. We also have more evolved parts of our brains that help us adapt and assimilate to new environments, but not without being uncomfortable, or even downright stressed.

Not all stress is bad, but our culture and media isn’t reinforcing this, and certainly human beings are not built to stay in stress response for sustained and chronic periods of time. People aren’t dying of old age; they’re dying from disease, many of which are traced back to stress.  This can impact any age, race, creed, etc. However it’s the aged population who are the most at risk for serious health impacts; they’ve been responding to stress for more years, and not all are getting better at managing it. In fact, the pace of change, especially in the workplace, can be understandably overwhelming.

The recruiter’s objective in simple terms is to identify value and assess risks of qualified candidates. This is, by law, NOT supposed to take into consideration health, age, race, or creed. However, they can and need to be able to assess how well an employee will perform, collaborate, and develop in accordance with the company’s business operations and plans. Adaptability, as reported in last week’s blog, is fast becoming one of the top soft qualities in-demand.

The challenge is, as with any soft quality, it’s nearly impossible to narrow down a candidate pool based on soft qualities, and unless the candidate has effectively branded themselves as adaptable and provided hard evidence, a résumé and LinkedIn profile will not make adaptability obvious. Recruiters have to look for “signs” of adaptability. This could look like working in diverse technology environments, getting promoted at a rapid pace, evolving with a fast-growing company, working for companies known for being on the bleeding edge, or assimilating to different cultures.

On the other hand, recruiters in their attempt to assess risk may perceive certain things as signs of a lack of adaptability, which may or may not be an accurate way of assessing adaptability and future-readiness, but it’s just another thing that makes hiring and recruiting ripe for disruption.

I remember hearing last decade that “anyone wearing a watch was definitely 40+.” At the time I wanted to be perceived as more mature, so I bought and started wearing a watch. It seems superficial and trivial to me now, and an even more dangerous indication of harmful bias that leaves room for discrimination.  Now I’m hearing, “If someone still has a flip phone they are stuck in the past.” This is also a sign of bias. Someone might use a flip phone because they won’t be distracted by it, and have other means, like a tablet or iPad, of getting other things done.

Back then I would have given candidates concerned about age discrimination to make themselves appear more youthful by accommodating such statements.  Now, with 13 years of success with my clients and unflappable confidence that you can put yourself in a position where YOU have the power of choice over where you land, my advice is to demonstrate adaptability using authentic means. Don’t buy into the bias. You’ll just end up fighting it regularly on the job, and that will diminish your job and perhaps your effectiveness.

Show off the diversity of technologies you have learned and applied

  • Work in internationally immersive experiences to your branded content
  • Tell stories about changes you have championed (mention the business cases and results)
  • Comment on or write articles or LinkedIn posts about emerging trends and technologies
  • Attend conferences and interface with people on the front end of industry disruption
  • Adopt new habits and learn a new skill; it doesn’t even have to be work-related, but will demonstrate your hunger for growth
  • Get out of your comfort zone at least once a week; you may fail at something new, but you’ll have new stories to tell and insights to share

So, using a flip phone can be detrimental in that you may not be considered by a company who perceives it as a sign of resistance to change and progress. However, that company has some progress to make of their own raising awareness about biases, and that’s not your burden to bear.

Aimee Mann – Stuck In The Past (Live on KEXP)

http://KEXP.ORG presents Aimee Mann performing “Stuck In The Past” live in the KEXP studio. Recorded July 17, 2017. Host: Stevie Zoom Audio Engineer: Chris Bailey & Kevin Suggs Cameras: Scott Holpainen, Jeff Wenzel & Justin Wilmore Editor: Justin Wilmore http://kexp.org http://aimeemann.com

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

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

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

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

Why Recruiters Ask You Questions That Your Résumé Clearly Answers Already

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Some background:

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

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

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

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

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

Below is the cover letter with recipient information changed.

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

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

“Fortune favors the bold.”

The Fugees – Ready or Not

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone Want to Work for the Government? How the Government Shutdown Will Impact the US Employment Brand

 

Some people pick their trade or career based on what they like doing, can easily be trained to do, and that will pay them well. And some people take the safest route, the one they think will likely lead to job security. This leaves them vulnerable to being the victim of external job conditions they can’t control.

Sometimes, governments shut down. Sometimes unions strike. Sometimes companies decide to sell and/or reorganize and reduce their workforce.

Anyone who once thought of pursuing a job with the US government for job security is thinking again right now.

The people I have known who wanted to pursue employment with the US government had one, a combination or all of the following motivations: Steady employment, early retirement, and/or patriotic duty.

A comment I read accused people of sensationalizing the personal financial crisis of government workers during the shutdown. “Come on. It’s just one paycheck. Don’t make it sound like people are starving.” Except, a resolution doesn’t appear to be close and this individual must not be one of the many Americans living paycheck to paycheck. Good for him, but he can’t empathize.

40% of Americans have less than $400 in their savings, and 67% have less than $1000. One missed paycheck means some people have to choose between eating and paying utilities. God forbid they need medical attention and have to cover a copay or deductible or have their water heater break down, or need a car repaired.

Are federal employees in the same boat as these Americans? Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz believes that the percentage of government workers living paycheck to paycheck may be smaller, but there are still a large number of government jobs that don’t pay a living wage, according to the reality of living wages today.

Where I live, living expenses are supposedly $68K per year for a family my size (2 adults, 2 children.) This is based on an estimated $6,271 for medical expenses. How many people do you know that pay that little for a family insurance plan plus copays and deductibles annually? Have kids that play sports? I know parents who claim to visit an emergency room or urgent care center monthly.

I also know many families with 2 small kids who pay a lot more than $1,096.25 monthly for childcare. So, even this calculation seems to not cover actual living expenses.

Guess what’s not considered a necessary living expense: cell phones and internet access. Yet how many people would be disadvantaged in pursuing steady employment or better employment without that? Sure, there are ways, but the disadvantages are still there.

Think vacations are important? I do! Actually, if families can’t afford to travel or pay for entertainment, there are many detrimental economic impacts. In fact, it would spur a recession, if not a depression.

How patriotic can you remain if you work for a government who doesn’t pay you a REAL living wage?

So, they may be able to recruit based on patriotic inclinations, but we’re already seeing reports of government employees quitting in record numbers as a result of this shutdown.

Even before the government shut down 64% of government leaders reported difficulties attracting and retaining talent.

And how about disengagement? Even if they can attract bodies to fill the vacancies based on patriotism and retirement benefits, how can they keep their workforce engaged and productive? Right now disengagement in federal jobs mimics disengagement for private sector jobs at 66%. Globally, companies lose $700T per year on disengagement and its resulting productivity drag. While in the US, Gallup estimates the losses are somewhere in the $350B – $550B range.

So, employers lose 34% of each disengaged employee’s salary. Out of 9.1M government employees, 6M or so are disengaged. At an average $51,340 per year, the US government is right now losing $105 TRILLION on disengagement annually.

So, just to break down the math, based on the data, each disengaged worker (6M) is costing $17,455.60 each.

Is your jaw on the floor?

Considering what could be done for the American people with that money, this is a problem that impacts and deserves that attention of ALL Americans!

That is based on 2018/2019 current data! What happens when these numbers skew? What happens when the government finds it harder to recruit and engage talent after this shutdown? What happens when they aren’t able to sell job stability to millennials and Gen Z? Gen Z, by the way, is the generation that witnessed their parents, who worked hard and did everything they were supposed to do, still face financial ruin by the 2008 economic crash. They crave security. Now they are looking at job prospects. Is the government even going to cross their minds as a possible career path? Doubtful!

Let’s do more than just hope that this shutdown ends soon.

So what can we do? Use our voice! Use the communication channels that exist (the media, calling your Congressman/Congresswoman, social media) to raise awareness of the full breadth of detrimental impacts of this shutdown!  Don’t let anyone minimize the problem! For too many, it’s very real and happening now.  SHARE THIS ARTICLE!

We can also champion our federal workers, the majority of whom felt that getting a steady paycheck was more important than serving the public, and engage them from the outside by showing them that they are appreciated by the public they serve, that we know that they are critical to running our country, no matter what role they have. Thank a federal employee today!

 

Europe-Mr. Government Man

No Description

 

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

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

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

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

Will HR AI Help or Hurt Your Career?

Considering that I have no time machine, time travel abilities or accurate predictive talents, I can’t be sure what future tech will offer hiring and careering. I am discouraged by the solutions being funded, sold, and used at the present moment.

Like, how are job boards still thriving in terms of revenue when most job seekers and recruiters admit not having great results with them? Well, some of them have reinvented themselves as multi-resource sites that offer valuable data. As the data increases, supposedly everyone can make more educated decisions.

Many technologies are now focused on scouring the web for passive talent with non-traditional professional footprints rather than producing better searches in databases full of applicants. Other recognize that you don’t fill jobs by recruiting people who don’t want to leave, and you don’t keep positions filled by recruiting job hoppers, so they score a candidate’s likelihood of entertaining a new opportunity. Some are becoming better at recognizing alternative skills, titles, qualities, and backgrounds.

There is still a large gap, however, that proliferates the challenges of employers to find, attract, recruit and retain not only good candidates, but good hires, which, according to Lou Adler, are distinct.

Credit: Lou Adler from LinkedIn post 11.26.18

Adler’s article points out a painfully obvious break in the system that has yet to be addressed by technology because it is a people problem, so far. The great hires don’t always make themselves obvious to unknown employers.

Enter Epic Careering… and other branding services.

We are the bridge between great talent and the companies that need them and vice versa.

In an ideal future, we will all adopt a common professional language and keyword dictionary so that technology will easily identify matches between employers and employees. Ideally, these technologies will also better understand human nature and human performance optimization. Until then, so much is left unarticulated, unpromoted, and unidentified. Great opportunities go undiscovered by talent while the talent that could fast-forward a company’s vision and mission drift toward lower hanging fruit, which may or may not be ripe, or even good.

AI is not solving this problem so far.

It falls on you.

If you are talent:

At a minimum, certainly, populate your skills list. You can add up to 50. Put them in order of our strengths and for what you’d like to be endorsed most. This will increase the chances that you will be found in a search and sent a cold invitation to connect by a recruiter.

At best, tell stories that demonstrate your unique value, which could be tied to an unconventional background, a worldly upbringing (or an underprivileged one), a different perspective, an innate talent, or a way with people. Give people content that not only qualifies you, but starts to garner a connection that transcends job descriptions/requirements. Position yourself as a candidate of choice. Be forthright about the culture and conditions under which you thrive, and then tell people what transpired because you were able to perform at your best.

Include your awards, even if they seemed shallow or token. Don’t hide your promotions by only listing your most recent title. Take credit for facilitating the accomplishments of those you managed, mentored, and supported.

Acquire skills in tasteful, professional self-promotion and stretch yourself to gain comfort with them. The best person for the job doesn’t always get the job. That’s a shame, but one you can prevent by doing this.

If you are an employer:

At a minimum, go beyond the checkboxes. Abandon acronyms in favor of the real success-determining factors. Ask yourself if your requirements are really just a way to whittle down a large list of candidates or if they really will determine someone’s chances at being successful. Warning: This will require thought – deep thought. I know you think you don’t have time for that. But if candidates who make great hires aren’t wearing an obvious label, you will have to consider if the labels you can see are showing you what’s really inside – what people are really made of.

Be honest about having biases. You can’t refute them if you don’t acknowledge them and if you don’t refute them you can’t stop them from influencing hiring decisions.

At best, nurture leadership that is not only ethical but conscious of the impact of their decisions on people and planet and how that will trickle down and circle back. As you implement technology and streamline operations, don’t lose the human touch. Make sure your leaders are accessible and emotionally intelligent. Give people transparency and trust. Relationships will always trump technology at connecting your company with talent in a meaningful way, aka engagement.

Daft Punk – Computerized Ft Jay Z

Leaked Daft Punk track with Jay-z.

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

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

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

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, will be an Associate Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department in 2019,  and is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

What Is Experiential Recruiting and Why Are We Not Seeing More of It?

 

Trust Fall

Trust Fall

Believe it or not, experiential recruiting isn’t new; it’s just a term that hasn’t caught on…yet.

Experiential recruiting refers to interactions between recruiters and/or hiring managers and candidates in which there is an element of performance, either professional or social. Some may say it’s just about storytelling and video, but that is one-sided. You may have heard the term “working interview,” but experiential recruiting can go far beyond a working interview (which, by law, do pay.) Hackathons are experiential recruiting. Any event a company has to which candidates would be invited can be considered experiential recruiting.

I held experiential events in 2008-2009. They were called Helping Hands Job Fairs. I paired recruiters up with candidates to do a half-day of community service and then break bread together. At one event, attendees sorted donations at a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store on a Saturday. At another, we had two teams winterizing homes in the community. At yet another, we had a few teams assigned to various projects through United Way’s Day of Caring, including mucking horse stalls, planting flowers, weeding, painting, etc.

For whatever reason, it was challenging at the time getting the employers committed, even though I was offering to recruit, identify, and pre-qualify the candidates. I stopped because I was pregnant; I had one baby, and then another. Organizing events is time-consuming and complex.

And here I am now with two kids in school all day. I’m ready to advise, strategize, plan and organize more events like this, as well as events that are less service-oriented and even more about fun, culture, and adventure – all depending on what you want your company to be to your current and future employees.

There’s a key to success – the events have to attract the talent with the hard skills, soft skills, and values that you want. The great thing about them is that, while events like hackathons can help you determine technical skills, these events help companies better assess someone’s soft skills and values. Also, hackathons sometimes attract top talent, but that talent doesn’t necessarily want to be employed by you or at all.

At the HireOne Task Force meeting I attended last month, the employers in the room all echoed the same complaint – not enough of the candidates with the hard skills they need have the soft skills that they want. So, they have to narrow their pool down in a pool that for some skills is already too small.

Part of the problem is that not everyone can put their best foot forward out of the gate; some people, like many introverts, need time to warm up. An interview, which can seem like a barrage of questions, doesn’t allow these people the time they need to let their true personalities show. They may come off as competent, but not likeable.

Another problem is that soft skills development isn’t taught in school (few do – it was something I taught as part of the Career Management and Professional Development course I taught at Drexel University to business students.) The county that sponsors HireOne offered an 8-week course for struggling job seekers that did also teach people how to shake hands, make eye contact, be courteous, follow etiquette, etc. They reported that still some participants could not put what they learned into practice

Remember when you learned how to drive, though? How much there was to pay attention to – the mirrors, the signals, pedestrians, pedals, steering, etc. It took time for those skills to become automatic, especially when you’re nervous.

Experiential recruiting events offers candidates who have the potential to become strong team members the opportunity to spend a little more quality time with recruiters and more time to come out of their shells and show who they really are.

Soft skills, which at their best can be considered high emotional intelligence, ARE teachable, and I have tricks to accelerate the application and adoption (mindfulness training and hypnosis.) Otherwise, people just need a lot more time and practice.

Time – ah. We have hit upon the major objection of doing these events.

If you have them during work hours, you are excluding those candidates who are working and find it challenging already to sneak away for an hour-long face-to-face interview. Some companies, like Vanguard, are combining community service initiatives with graduate recruitment, which eliminates the problem of time of day. While attracting and recruiting the best new graduates for your company can definitely be aided by events like this, many more companies are in need of better methods of attracting experienced talent. This is where most of a company’s ROI on talent gets generated.

If you have them at night, you are asking your staff to sacrifice their personal time.

This is all the more reason why these events really need to be designed to be time well spent – something you, your staff, and your candidates would want to do anyway.

Back in 2012 when I last spoke at the Greater Valley Forge Human Resources Association HR Summit (I speak there again next month on executive branding), I deconstructed why talent communities haven’t effectively helped companies build talent pipelines. Talent communities were a trend back then proposed as a way for companies to line up people with skill sets that they’ll need on a recurring basis or in the future. Some job boards were trying to transform themselves and take advantage of this. They never took off because job seekers don’t want to be in a community of competitors for jobs they want.

Companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, etc. build talent communities simply because they are who they are. Everyone else would like to think that they’re employment brand game is so strong, but let’s be clear what candidates really want – a fair shot, quality time, and to be recognized as special. They don’t want to wait in line or mingle with people who might get the job over them – that’s like The Bachelor/Bachelorette of recruiting, without the mansion, cocktails, and breathtakingly romantic trips.

Another time constraint is built into recruiting models that don’t allow for recruiters to even have that extra time. When my firm experimented with different reporting models and metrics, we had a certain number of calls and in-person interview we needed to complete each week. This meant the work-hard/play-hard culture I loved became a work-hard/work-long environment. I became disengaged pretty quickly. My wedding was a great distraction. The last thing I wanted to do was spend MORE time at work. In fact, I needed a long break; thank goodness for my honeymoon.

Job fairs do not count as experiential, even though they are face-to-face, and for the reasons stated above about the limited time and nature of an interview. Job fairs barely allow someone to get an impression past the initial first impression, which are NOT always accurate. In fact, recruiters have been evolving in their awareness of biases and ability to dismiss them. They occur automatically – it’s how our brain works. Our conscious mind matches experiences with experiences from the past. So we don’t expect that people can rid themselves of biases, just become more adept at recognizing and dismissing them. However, at a job fair, there is very little time to do this before the next person steps up. Again, like driving a car, you can become faster at this until it becomes more automatic. In the meantime, job fairs offer only a few stand out candidates with charisma to make a lasting impression.

A couple of things along my professional path inspired my interest in these events.

My former boss invited the team to spend a day at his Jersey shore house where he fed us and took us to the beach to play games. We knew he was a 3x Ironman and that he worked out. We could see how the other runner in the office gained his favor. I didn’t realize that beating him at horseshoes would impress him, but it did. He shared that with me. (I’m glad I didn’t know that beforehand or I might have choked.) He appreciated competitiveness as a quality. Then I remembered how me playing on a softball team was one of the things the company shared about me when I was hired. Apparently, that meant that I fit the culture.

However, so many times these things don’t come up in the interview process. They did a good job of uncovering that. Then I thought, what can companies do to identify these types of cultural qualities better? How about a game night?

When my youngest child finally started pre-school and I had mornings all to myself, I started Job Seeker Hikes. I invited job seekers to hike a moderately challenging trail with me while I asked them questions and gave them advice, not dissimilar to my free consultations, only I got to hike, one my favorite things in the world to do. I could coach multiple job seekers simultaneously, allowing them to learn from each other, build trust and rapport, and increase my chances of converting one of those job seekers into a paying client.

I called this experiential business development. And I loved it, and I’ll probably do it again now that both of my kids are in school, pending I can see that fitting into everything else I am excited to do with a full workday.

As I pondered my clients’ and contacts’ recruiting and hiring pains, I often came back to this model as a great replacement for job fairs, which, by everyone’s account, suck. I thought I coined the term “experiential recruiting,” but I looked it up and it was a thing already.

In fact, I identified a company in Milwaukee that was using events like this not only to help employers brand themselves and better assess the soft skills and values of their candidates, but they were also using the events to promote the cultural richness that the city has to offer. It’s called Newaukee. Why isn’t this in every city??? Talk about triple bottom line!

Another potential objection is cost, but the truth is, depending on what you do it may not cost you much more than a job fair. However, you can get more in-depth with a smaller, more targeted candidate pool.

To get ROI you first want to make sure you understand the kinds of candidates that YOU want who ALSO want to work for you. You (or we) build a candidate profile, much like a buyer profile. Find out what segments exist and what they like to do.

You might need two or three different kinds of events. For instance, you might want to have a game night or block party, a community service event, and an art gallery trip.

Need people who can be creative problem solvers? How about an escape room?

What do you think about having family-friendly recruiting events? Does that blow your mind?

Then you also need to get those people there AND use the events to tell a compelling story about your company and its people straight from its people, which may take a bit of training. The other key is LISTENING. Use the events to learn about your prospective candidates, improve candidate experience,  and create even better events.

Word of mouth spreads fast about these events. People will get very interested in attending, even if they aren’t very interested in working for you, so you (or we) have to vet them. However, even candidates who may not have thought they wanted a change may find themselves swayed and a bit more invested and enthusiastic about a company after a great event. If they really aren’t going to budge now, they may some day, and they can refer some talent in the meantime. So, the vetting is more about skills, value, and culture fit. A lot of the times the nature of the event and who is interested in it helps assess value and culture right off the bat.

So, in my Epic Careering version of these events we combine employer branding, target candidate identification and buzz-worthy experiences to keep a pipeline of high-quality potential hires pumping in, while the recruiting teams and hiring managers also have worthwhile experiences. I am all about productive play!

Contact me today to learn how your recruitment teams can use events like these to better compete for top talent.

Phish- Waste

great version great song

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

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

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and 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 was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business and recently instructed for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at Cabrini College, where her students won the national competition and were named America’s Top Young Entrepreneurs.

 

Facing Age Discrimination? You Might Not Like This Advice

Old-0141 by Ronny Olsson on Flickr

If you’re finding it harder to land a job as you age, you may be wondering if age discrimination is rampant. You may worry about how are you ever going to compete with younger professionals.

The usual advice is to try to disguise your age by cutting off previous experience past X years and omitting graduation dates.

I disagree.

I personally think it’s a futile effort and one that won’t get you much further than you are.

I may advise you to cut off experience past X years for other reasons, like irrelevance or space considerations, but not out of fear your age will be discovered.

Here’s why –

#1 – Hiding your age actually draws attention to your age. With LinkedIn now being a primary platform for recruiting and job searching, it becomes harder to disguise your age. When a graduation date is missing or your summary touts 20+ years of experience that’s not on the résumé, that’s the moment I start wondering. But I’m not wondering if you’re old – I’m assuming you are. I’m wondering how sensitive YOU are about your age. What if you’re not the right fit? Will you think I’m discriminating against you? Sounds like a hassle. NEXT!

#2 – Let’s say hiring manager Jane (don’t blame the recruiters – they deliver what the hiring manager asks for) is convinced that age will become a performance issue and she’d rather not interview experienced candidates. This is why in the job description she asked for 8 years of experience vs. 15. Let’s say also she didn’t get a clue of your age from your résumé or social media so as to avoid wasting her time. She is unlikely to change her mind. In fact, she may even feel a bit like you were trying to swindle her. You are already off on the wrong foot. Maybe you like that challenge – we’ll address that in a bit.

#3 – Your age is an advantage. That is why the majority of leadership roles require more years of experience. The more you experience, the more you learn, the less trial and error you will use, AND the more time and money you will save. To put it simply, as long as you are still sharp, you will avoid making mistakes. This is valuable to any company, and if you’re trying to minimize your age, you’ll inhibit your ability to promote this tremendous value.

#4 – It’s in your best interest to avoid the employers whose culture allows age bias. An allowance such as this is most likely indicative of many other systemic issues. If you solve these problems, then the interview will look a lot more like you consulting to them, but you would have to be an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) master to have built the kind of rapport necessary in the interview process to show them the error of their ways and gain their buy-in to change it. If you don’t solve these problems, don’t you think it’s best to just avoid them?

Some people feel very confident that if they could get past the first screen, which would otherwise exclude them because of their age, they could convince the interviewer to give them the offer. You do you, I say. If you’re really that awesome and convincing, go for it. And, if you find over time it’s not working, try it the other way – being transparent from the get-go.

If you don’t feel as confident, decide now if you want to spend your time trying to change people’s mind about age or if you want to target companies that already value what age brings the table. Pending you have a strong brand and campaign, you will land faster and experience less frustration if you are outright about your age because you will only be spending time with employers who don’t care about age.

However, if you feel it’s important to shift the paradigm, expect that it will take extra time to educate people and be prepared for frustration when some minds don’t change. Because you will be facing a less receptive, perhaps even hostile audience, you also need to put in 4x as much effort and time to generate double the interview activity, as your “closing rate” goes down.

I don’t have any actual numbers, because people don’t openly admit to discriminating based on age, but from my experience as a recruiter, hiring managers choose one candidate over another based on a myriad of other reasons. Rarely would I suspect that there was age discrimination. Sometimes I was given feedback that I was prohibited to relay to the candidate, and just had to tell them that the client chose someone else. Often the reasons were a mystery. I recall many times a candidate was chosen because of an internal relationship, or a common interest, or just really hit it off with someone. Age discrimination and bias happen, but not as frequently as you would think.

You are most likely finding it harder to leave a job because the more experienced you get, there are statistically fewer positions toward the top. Also, if you were using a way to look for a job that worked many years ago and wondering why it’s not working now, it’s not your age. What used to work years ago doesn’t work as well now and as you gain more experience, certain activities are just less effective. You have to be more strategic and less tactical.

And, even though if you look at an organization chart as a triangle, you can see that there are fewer positions at the top. That doesn’t mean you have fewer chances to land that job. Your chances of landing a job actually have little to do with the amount of opportunity available and much more to do with your ability to be competitive for those roles.

Brand yourself as someone wise but in touch, someone who can elevate standards of the workforce around them, and someone who will set the company up for success by helping them avoid costly mistakes.

Some companies have learned the hard way that hiring less expensive talent can lead to MASSIVE costs downstream. If they have learned, they are now seeking and willing to pay for experienced talent. If they haven’t learned, they’re dying, and you don’t want to go down with them.

With technology evolving at breakneck speed, you’ll have to demonstrate that you can keep up, that you are agile enough to pivot on a dime, literally, but also maybe physically.

This actually touches on a different kind of illegal discrimination – health. Sick workers cost companies money. Recruiters and hiring managers are not really supposed to be privy to any medical information throughout the interview process. However, if you show signs of illness or, let’s just say not wellness, then there could be bias against you.

As wrong as that is, fighting against this bias can become a full-time job, and one that has no guarantee of income. It can be a futile waste of energy that is probably better spent on your well-being and peace of mind.

By keeping yourself in as good a shape as possible, you’re not only projecting health, but you project that you value yourself. Why would anybody else value you, if you don’t?

There are some things that we are genetically predisposed to have and accidents happen that can leave us disabled, but there are things within our control that we can do.

We can get enough sleep. We can quit bad habits like smoking or eating junk food, and we can eat more vegetables and exercise regularly. (Hypnosis is highly effective for this! Book here!)

Now we also know that our brain has plasticity, meaning it can still develop and re-develop, so we can also keep our brains sharp with the right nutrients and activities. Dr. Daniel Amen has some great education on this. You may have also heard of the mobile game Lumosity, which is designed to help keep cognitively fit. Even just playing chess, dancing, and doing crosswords have been proven to do this.

Sensitivity to and anticipation of age discrimination is often a greater detriment than age itself. It keeps you in a victim mode versus an empowered mode. You will project less confidence in your interviews. You may even be a bit more defensive or over-compensate by being overly energized.

Yes, age discrimination does happen, but it’s most likely not the reason you are finding it more difficult to land AND you can overcome it in less time (weekly and overall) with effective branding and campaigning. There are 3 spots left in April if you want one-on-one help in this area. You can book a free consultation here. If you prefer the support of a group setting or you have a small budget for this type of assistance, a live 6-week group coaching session will start in late April. The first module is FREE and you can watch it here.

 

Don’t let anyone keep you from contributing to your brilliance. I will help you take control, shine your brightest, and continue realizing your potential.

Fleetwood Mac – Landslide

i do not own this song, no copyright infringement intended Lyrics: I took my love, I took it down Climbed a mountain and I turned around And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills ‘Til the landslide brought it down Oh, mirror in the sky What is love?

Back in the Hiring Saddle

First, let me take a moment to acknowledge the amazing support I have enjoyed from my former assistant, Angela Moseley. I know there were times I took for granted how much less I had to burden myself so that I could better support Epic Careering clients and move forward initiatives, like publishing my book. In fact, until I had to replace her, I hadn’t realized frequently enough how lucky I was to have talent like her – A self-starting Journalism graduate from Temple, with a sense of pride in her work, and as much of an appreciation of what we do as a company as you could expect from someone who hadn’t built the company herself.

Angela, best wishes to you in your new full-time endeavor. I hope you find the shift from freelancer to employee to favor your hopes and dreams for the future.

Today my daily devotional distinguished knowledge from wisdom as wisdom being derived from experience that teaches you, and knowledge as being information you acquire. I always thought that being truly wise meant learning from other people’s experiences – not having to endure the same trial and error to reach the same conclusions.

Having now endured my own search for a new assistant, there is some wisdom I would like to impart. I continue to read disgruntled posts from job seekers and hiring managers alike on why recruiting is even a profession – why do businesses need to allocate such a critical function to an outside party?

I attempted to straddle in between the job seeker’s perspective and the hiring manager’s perspective, constantly re-visiting my process and standards as I saw what was coming in. I can’t say I am certain I didn’t stray too far in one direction or another at times, but I can tell you that if my budget allowed for extra margin, I would have totally outsourced this very important job, and I have experience as a recruiter.

Let me report happily that, while it was not easy and required a tremendous investment of effort, energy and time, I have found someone I believe has great potential to help me push Epic Careering toward even greater client and customer service as well as greater product quality and usage so that we can help more people empower themselves to harness our resources and the power within them to pursue and land career opportunities that offer them the life that they want.

Help me in welcoming Syndie.

This will be the first blog Syndie will help me post. (Complaints can be directed to… just kidding 😉

Here are some observations that were somewhat forgotten and reinforced by my experience back in the hiring saddle.

1. Many candidates don’t follow directions

I’m not sure if some people feel that they are exceptions that you will just have to notice how great they are in the way that they do things, rather than how you want them to do things. I am hiring a subcontractor to work ¼ time, and yet I want to hire someone who considers themselves a part of the fabric of what I have built and continue to build, so from the get-go, I want to see a candidate not just willing to, but interested in learning about the career services industry, where the résumé is considered a major product and tool.

I am not expecting applicants to be résumé experts, but I expect an actual résumé – not a sales page. In my business your résumé is not just a critical introduction to your work history, but a work sample. If providing a résumé or making improvements to your résumé based on my instruction is too much outside your comfort zone, I don’t see why I should see that you are going to be a valuable contributor to my business.

In trying to see things from the freelancer’s perspective, I could only assume that these freelance virtual assistants had such a thriving reputation and pipeline of opportunity that my opportunity didn’t stand out as particularly interesting. I concluded that Epic Careering is better off without someone who was not interested enough in this industry to want to develop/furbish a best-in-class résumé.

2. Many candidates do not research thoroughly (enough)

While I do recognized that I am the expert on such things, I find it hard to accept that people take the time to write a cover letter without specifics that demonstrate that you have attempted to understand what we do, what initiatives we’re invested in, and what there is to have genuine excitement about when I post a blog each week that puts it right out there.

Why would I want to waste any time reading a letter that was not targeted to me, or did not give me an indication that you really want this opportunity?

Here is where I attempted to get back over the line into the job seekers’ perspective – the conventional job application process can be a confidence, even a soul, killer. Once your hope in a good outcome is dead, efforts seem futile. Making an extra investment of time, allowing yourself to get excited about an opportunity, attempting to make a meaningful connection with a stranger you hope to be your boss, can seem like a great recipe for (further) disappointment. This is why we coach our clients to reset their expectations and execute a proactive campaign method. Otherwise, you are going to get stuck in your own self-fulfilling prophecy loop.

Statistically, you are more apt to have positive results (introductions/interviews/offers) if you invest more time getting closer to opportunities for which you have genuine excitement than to half-heartedly pursue opportunities you are hoping for only because they represent an earning potential you need or want.

3. Many candidates do not have a sense of urgency

I clearly outlined the steps to apply, as well as the qualification process. Many precluded themselves from consideration by not supplying requested documents at all, even upon specific request or instruction; they took a long time to deliver. If I need you to be available 10 hours per week, I would anticipate you would have at least an hour to invest in helping yourself through the qualification process.

Again, I understand that if you had spent time on searching for a job or freelance opportunity-seeking using conventional methods, you are probably reaching a point of resignation. If only those who failed to deliver understood clearly the restoration of faith you will gain in your own ability to make great opportunities happen by landing this opportunity, you might have been able to create the time you needed to pursue this further.

 

Your loss is Syndie’s gain, and the drop-off and disqualifications of all other candidates during the process will prove to be my gain.

Back in the Saddle Again, Aerosmith

i got bored again

Bias is Human, Yet Harmful

Interview by Alan Cleaver of Flickr

 

In my recruiting days I had a Vice President who advised repeatedly, “Refute your bias.”

Obviously there are biases that could get us in legal trouble, but she was more so referring to the more subtle biases that can make us dismiss or favor certain candidates. This advice was not in contradiction to using your intuition, but it was just a way to check ourselves before we make decisions that impact our candidates or clients.

Bias is not always bad or wrong; it is a built-in safety mechanism in which we make associations to decide if we are in any harm. It is automatic and it is human. However, now that our brain has evolved higher intelligence beyond our reptilian, instinctual brain, we can take into consideration much different input and make decisions that are more based on logic. The tricky part is recognizing which part of your brain has made the determination.

How much does bias really interfere, though? Why can it be detrimental?

Last week we talked about how critical EQ and empathy have become to corporate success. Bias, on the other hand, when not accurately and promptly assessed will impose unnecessary limits to what you can achieve with other people. This is because you are, by nature, actually limiting the population with whom you can successfully create or limiting the success that you can have with people for whom you have a bias.

It is easy to see that from a recruiting and hiring perspective, a bias will slant what the right candidate looks like, causing you to overlook someone who does not fit that image, but is the better candidate for the job.

As a job seeker, you may think that your intuition is telling you that a potential boss or co-worker is not someone with whom you could work successfully, and you may either decide to not pursue that opportunity or not to give that opportunity 100% of your effort in expectation that it will not work. This, then becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Biases against the wealthy keep poor people poor. Biases against the poor have the same effect. You may have biases against generations, religions, races, genders, status, roles, opposing teams’ fans, people from a certain area, where people shop, etc.

If I continue to list these, I will eventually hit upon a bias you possess. The question is, will you recognize it? The ability to recognize and evaluate your own bias is absolutely essential to your EQ.

Here are three questions to ask yourself to determine if bias is impacting your perceptions, beliefs and actions, and potentially limiting your success and happiness:

  1. What HARD, TRUE evidence do I have to support my opinion?
  2. What do I still need to know and understand in order to know if I am accurately assessing this person?
  3. Could I be wrong?

Only someone with a high EQ would be willing to accurately answer #3, but just asking these questions in the first place are a great way to raise your EQ.

I would like to disclaim that I believe strongly in developing and using your intuition. I distinguish my bias from my intuition by asking these questions. However, once I acknowledge and remove bias, I lean on my intuition, which is a completely different exercise – one that I’ll save for another time.

 

How has bias impacted you?