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How to Handle Recruiters Wanting to Connect

Image by Jayne K. via Flickr. Some rights reserved. https://bit.ly/2I46fhg

Image by Jayne K. via Flickr. Some rights reserved. https://bit.ly/2I46fhg

(A follow up to: 4 Things You Can Do on LinkedIn to Attract Recruiters)

If you follow my advice from the last post, it won’t be long before you see people you don’t know, including recruiters, sending you invitations to connect.

So, should you accept them?

Here is LinkedIn’s recommendation: “We strongly recommend that you only accept invitations to connect from people you know. You can control who can send you invitations from the Communications section of your Settings & Privacy page.”

LinkedIn Open Networkers (LIONs) subscribe to the school of thought that more connections are better.  LinkedIn will cap you at 30,000 first-degree connections.

The choices you have for who can send you invitations include:

  • Everyone on LinkedIn (recommended).
  • Only people who know your email address or appear in your “Imported Contacts” list.
  • Only people who appear in your “Imported Contacts” list.

First, let me explain why LinkedIn recommends that you stay open to receive invitations from anyone, but only accept those from people you know.

The original intention of LinkedIn is to keep track of who you know, and who they know, and who they know.  The idea we are all separated by no more than six degrees of separation began in 1929 by a Hungarian author who wrote a short story about network theory. That later compelled social psychologist Stanley Milgram to conduct experiments in the 1960’s. And Columbia University experiments in 2003 confirmed the theory.  So, anyone you might want to meet in this whole wide world is no more than 6 introductions away.

Furthermore, researchers from Tufts and Stony Brook University concluded that while stronger connections are more likely to offer help, your weaker connections are more likely to actually help you land a job.

So, it’s not just who you know. It’s who they know, and who they know.

Notice the “know” part of that. What does it take to really “know” someone? Ask 10 different people, and you will probably get 10 different answers.

It’s up to you to determine what you would need to know or how long you would need to know a person before you really KNOW them. I recommend thinking of it this way: figure out what you need to know about a new connection in order to feel confident introducing them to VIPs in your own network.  This means asking new connections very meaningful questions.

Yes, that is my recommendation – get strangers on the phone and get to know each other before you connect.

When it comes to recruiters, some are transactional and some are relational.  A transactional recruiter wants you in their talent community either for a job requirement they are currently trying to fill or because they expect they will someday have a job requirement for which you might be a candidate. A relational recruiter may ask you to connect for the same reasons, but they get that you are a person, not just a candidate, and that building rapport and potentially a relationship will serve the highest good of everyone: themselves, you, your network, their clients, and their network. They see networking as an investment that enriches their professional experience and produces opportunities that can positively impact multiple lives.

Do either or both sound like people you might want to have in your network? A transactional recruiter may not produce as much value for you as a relational recruiter, but you still may land a job through one. 

How a recruiter is compensated and how their performance is measured may influence whether a recruiter works as transactional or relational. If job metrics dictate that they have to make 100 calls per day and interview 10 candidates in person per week, a metric I had previously as a recruiter, taking time to get to know candidates, especially those I can’t place NOW, seems like an unwise investment of time, even if that’s what I really want to do. Recruiters may flip from being transactional to being relational, and vice versa, when changing from one firm to another. Some relational recruiters will only work where the model supports investing time in building long-term relationships because they find transactional networking to be empty and unfulfilling.

So, once you decide what your standards are for people from whom you accept their invitation, the next step is to speak offline. LinkedIn removed the feature that allowed you to reply to all invitations, now you can only reply to those who have sent you a customized note (and if you read this at any point in the future, that may or may not be the case.)

Once you have decided you want to know a person inviting you to connect,  click on their name to visit their profile and message them, by clicking the “Message” icon just right of the “Accept” button. Send a message something along these lines:

“Hi. Thank you for the invitation to connect. Are you open to getting better acquainted offline? I’d like to understand what your mission is and what kind of invitations would be most impactful to you right now in fulfilling it.”

I include my number to put the ball in their court, but you may not be comfortable with that. Instead you can offer them 3 days/times you have 20-30 minutes free, ask them for their number and to confirm a time.

Not everyone who calls me is going to become a connection. If someone starts to sell me on something right away, I think twice.  I consider myself fairly intuitive, and I can feel a person out. My most important qualification for someone joining my network is if their values are aligned with mine. Meaning, will they be ethical, considerate and respectful?

Of course, when I receive an invitation that I’m going to consider, I check out their recent activity and see what they have been commenting on, liking, and sharing. I read their recommendations and see if they have given any. If they are generally adding value, I’ll be inclined to accept the invitation after speaking.

Notice, I still want to speak with them, mostly because I want to know they are willing to speak to and invest the time with me.  If they’re not, there’s a high probability this person will not prove valuable to my network.

When I speak with them I rely on my intuition and make the conversation organic, but to give you ideas of my thought process:  

  • I might ask them about something specific in their profile.
  • I’ll get their thoughts on a prevalent challenge in their industry or a current event.
  • I’ll ask them what they want most to happen in the next 12 months.
  • I’ll share something personal about myself and see if they reciprocate.

The questions you ask are best if they help you determine if the person meets the criteria you have established for making connections. I don’t necessarily need someone to think like me, agree with me, or share my worldview, though that’s great when that happens. Again, for me it’s really about feeling out how they would treat someone I care about if I were to make an introduction.

I set the intention for these calls that, if it seems like someone I’m going to add to my network, we determine right off the bat something we can do for each other – either an introduction, sharing an article or resource, or giving advice. Ask recruiters what is hot on their plate right now; what candidates do they need to present right now. Then, take at least one proactive measure to try to source that candidate in your network, if you don’t have a referral off the top of your head.

Creating this value right off the bat turns an acquaintance into a partner in success. When you have many partners in success, you don’t have to work as hard to achieve goals, so while the investment of time may seem heavy on the front end, it’s really a time and productivity hack.

Happy connecting! 

Connection

Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group North America Connection · The Rolling Stones Between The Buttons ℗ ℗ 2002 ABKCO Music & Records Inc. Released on: 2002-01-01 Producer: Andrew Loog Oldham Recording Arranger: The Rolling Stones Author, Composer: Mick Jagger Author, Composer: Keith Richards Music Publisher: Onward Music Ltd.

4 Things You Can Do on LinkedIn to Attract Recruiters

Photo by petrOlly via Flickr. Some rights reserved. https://bit.ly/1Q5hzp0

Photo by petrOlly via Flickr. Some rights reserved.

(Upcoming posts: How To Handle Recruiters Wanting To Connect, How To Deal With Trolls Now That You’ve Gone Viral)

In case you weren’t aware already, recruiters use LinkedIn to find, qualify, and engage with talent for open positions. I can’t confirm an actual statistic, but one study reported in 2016 that 84% of recruiters use LinkedIn to recruit while another study from March 2018 reported that 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates. I believe them both.

From the 2017 Jobvite Recruiter Nation Report, below are the top three positive factors that impact a recruiter’s decision to move forward with a candidate.

  1. Examples of written or design work (65%)
  2. Engagement in volunteering, mentoring, or non-profits (63%)
  3. Mutual connections (35%)

So, if you want to be visible and desirable to recruiters as part (not all) of your job search plan, below are four things you can do to increase your chances.

Please be advised that companies report their highest quality candidates come from external recruiters only 7% of the time, and 26% report that their lowest quality candidates come from external recruiters. So, allocate your time investment in recruiters to be about 10% of your efforts. Contact us to learn what to do with the other 90% of your time.

The good news is the efforts below will not only make you attractive to external recruiters, but also internal recruiters and, even better yet, hiring managers.

  1. Follow and engage with recruiters and industry leaders who are active on LinkedIn.

By active, I mean they post regular status updates, like and comment on others’ posts, and have 500+ connections.

When you follow them, their updates will show up on your homepage feed. But, when you follow a lot of people and companies, algorithms will govern your homepage feed so that you only see status updates with strong engagement predominantly. In other words, their posts will only show up in your news feed if others have been engaging with those posts (popular posts).

You will also want to make sure you follow companies on your target company list and internal recruiters, HR leaders, and thought leaders (who are active.) Some that I follow:

  • Lauren McDonald
  • Adam Karpiak
  • Shaun Hervey
  • Ken Lubin
  • Tabith Trent Cavanaugh
  • Brigette Hyacinth
  • Kevin Wheeler
  • Lou Adler

Once you follow, you must engage! You can help them gain more visibility by liking their posts, which then adds their post to your networks’ home feed and lists that activity to your profile under recent activity. However, if you want to gain visibility with them or within their network, comment thoughtfully. Asking additional insightful questions will generate the most visibility.

Spend 15-20 minutes doing this daily and you will see the amount of your profile views go up. The amount of invitations or followers you receive will be more reflective of the quality of your posts, versus the quantity. I recommend you focus on what you say rather than how frequently you say it.

We’ll discuss in a later post what to do when recruiters you don’t know invite you to connect.

  1. Add people to your network weekly.

Start by expanding who you think SHOULD be in your network. The obvious people are former or current co-workers, supervisors, vendors, and customers. Some people focus solely on people in their industry or professional realm, but this is a mistake. People don’t operate in industry vacuums. Think of anyone you are on a first name basis with who, if they asked you, you would not hesitate to make an introduction on their behalf. This could be neighbors, fellow soccer parents, doctors and dentists, event planners, attorneys, accountants, etc.  Every time you leave your house, think about “the people that you meet each day.”

If you fewer than 200 connections, aim to add 20 each week by inviting 50. If you have at least 200 quality connections (meaning you know them at least as an acquaintance, if not better), and you feel that you have added all of the above-mentioned people, start seeking out those who are commenting on posts of interest to you. It’s the easiest way to connect and customize your invitation message: “I saw your comment/post on >>>> and thought it was really insightful. I’d like to know more about what kind of introductions would be the most impactful to you right now. Do you have 20 minutes or so to get better acquainted offline? My number is…..”

Then, of course, wait for them to accept or perhaps respond, and follow up to schedule an introductory phone call, a lunch or happy hour, or invite them to an event you will be attending and ask them to meet a bit earlier.

  1. Start posting quality content.

What is a quality post? One that exhibits your expertise, but also initiates a discussion that others want to engage.

You have two options for posting content on LinkedIn, and I recommend using them both to some capacity.

The first option is your status update:

You enter this right from the top of your homepage. You have 600 characters here, unless you want to cross-post to Twitter, in which case you have 140 characters. A highly engaging status update now has the potential to go viral even more so than publishing posts, as long as people engage. Engagement will extend the “shelf life” of your post, so your goal is to get people to like and share it.

Think about some of the pains your industry experiences, trends impacting it, and challenges of implementing solutions.  Find ways to resonate and empathize with your future employer. Don’t give away all your proprietary expertise, but definitely share the great outcomes to which you have contributed. Tell stories. Express your personality, which will promote you not only as a qualified candidate, but one who would potentially fit in with a company’s culture. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone. Not everyone will give you an offer. You only need one great offer (though we can help you generate momentum that produces multiple offers.)
Read each post out loud twice and have someone else proofread it twice before you put it out there.

We’ll discuss in a later post what to do about trolls. Don’t let them stop you from getting great content out into the world.

The second option is publishing posts:

These are essentially like blogs or articles. They are usually longer (500-800 words) and include keywords. While the “shelf life” of these are longer (they will be associated with your profile either indefinitely, or until LinkedIn decides to change that), they become hard to find unless engagement continues.

They can sometimes be picked up and promoted by LinkedIn. I recommend also sharing through your status update, to individuals who may want to chime in on the comments, and in groups (read and follow all group rules; some don’t want you to self-promote or direct people outside of a discussion thread.)

Think carefully about your titles and try to think about what someone might be experiencing, wanting, or wanting to avoid.

  1. Volunteer and add your experience to your profile.

The better volunteering opportunities are the ones that enable you to interact with people and work on a team. Perhaps you can even be the one that organizes a community event. You might want to start with professional organizations in your industry. See if they have events coming up at which you can volunteer.

I encourage you to choose an organization that has meaning for you. It may or may not lead to you meeting someone who can open a door of opportunity for you, but it is really one of the best ways to remember how valuable you can be for others. And at the same time, helping others less fortunate than you will remind you of your own blessings.

As expressed above, a tertiary benefit is how favorable recruiters look upon this type of activity.

You may also opt to add a post related to that non-profit or volunteer activity and tag others involved to bring them added visibility, as well. Besides professional organizations and non-profits in your community, another place you can go to find volunteering opportunities is volunteermatch.org.

Watch for upcoming posts related to this topic:  How To Handle Recruiters Wanting To Connect, and How To Deal With Trolls Now That You’ve Gone Viral.

See Me, Feel Me / Listening To You

Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group North America See Me, Feel Me / Listening To You · Roger Daltrey Tommy ℗ 2000 Polydor Inc. Released on: 2000-01-01 Producer: Pete Townshend Producer: Ken Russell Author, Composer: Pete Townshend Music Publisher: ABKCO Music Inc. Music Publisher: Fabulous Music Music Publisher: Fabulous Music Ltd.

Don’t Stress Out about Stress…Yet

Photo courtesy of Sarah (https://www.flickr.com/photos/dm-set/). Some rights reserved.I have been trying all morning to find a Quartz article that other articles (Apost.com) have been referencing regarding bad bosses, why people don’t leave them, and how a bad boss can be as bad for your health as second-hand smoking. I couldn’t find this source article, so I won’t cite the statistics as truth – YES! I fact check!

So, I did a little bit more legwork to see if I could find the original research sources (The American Psychological Association, Harvard, and Stanford.) What I found was that a “recent” study being cited, isn’t very recent at all – 2015.

Further, people who cited the original Apost.com article said that the Quartz article quoted the American Psychological Association stated 75% of American workers said that their boss was a “major cause of stress.” I have not been able to validate this either.  It also says 59% of these people would not leave their job in spite of their bad bosses – I also found no validation of this statistic, and I was relieved for that!

Here is what I have been able to validate

An aggregation of 228 different studies found:

  • Those who face major stress at work are 35% more likely to be diagnosed with an illness.
  • People who work long hours are 20% more likely to die sooner.
  • The fear of losing your job increases your chance of having poor health by 50%.

I’ve had many clients over the years who had to leave their jobs because they believed it was making them sick – literally. They weren’t imagining it. Science has proven that stress can negatively impact our health. There are too many citations to reference on this. If you would like proof, go to pubmed.org and enter “stress and disease” in the search bar.  If you are in denial of this, it may even benefit your health, too.

Not all stress is bad. Eustress is the good kind, and further studies indicate that our perception of stress is the real determinant as to whether it will impact us negatively in the form of sickness and disease, or whether it will improve our performance, resilience, and sense of achievement.  Some people bring out their best in stressful situations.

You have to assess your beliefs about stress and know your own stress limits before worrying that your string of sicknesses is related to your job.  A report I found cited the theories and methodologies of some major I/O Psychology thought leaders (Kahn, et. al.,) which purported that a person’s fit to their environment determined whether the job would produce eustress or distress.

Now, how well do you fit your environment?

A bigger question is, if you recognize that your environment does not allow you to thrive and operate at your highest levels, are you going to do anything about it?

The Apost.com article was thought provoking, even if it wasn’t properly referenced. The author, who surmised that survival is why people stay, stated, “Given the present market conditions, it is not an easy decision to quit one’s job and start over entirely.”

I have two things to say:

#1 – Regardless of market conditions, changing jobs is not an easy decision.  For many, this decision impacts not just the individual, but also family members and logistics that may be working. This is the #1 reason I have found why people stay at jobs that cause them (dis)stress. They operate under the notion that the chances of finding something better that also works with their lifestyle is a fantasy.

I’m here to tell you – it’s NOT!  It still won’t be an easy decision, but once you make it, engaging a partner like me will help ensure that you land swiftly and safely in a position that aligns with your lifestyle, values, and professional ambitions.

#2 – There’s nothing at all wrong with today’s market conditions (as of this post, April 2018.) With unemployment at a 10-year-low and wage growth relatively steady since 2010, there’s no need to be scared of this market – as of now. That could change, of course. But I assure you, having coached through the great recession, people were still landing jobs, and companies still needed to hire people. It just became much more competitive, and all the more reason to engage a coach to help you distinguish yourself and leverage your time and visibility effectively.

If you suspect your job is out of alignment in some way and is causing stress that could eventually (or already is) impacting your health, don’t wait any longer to get help. The job market is ripe, and just being in action and having a partner and a plan can greatly reduce your stress.

You don’t have to jump ship; just take the first step and book your free consultation!

How to Stay on the Same Side when Negotiating Salary

Everyone’s only out for themselves.  It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Maybe that’s what you have been taught. And if you bought it, you will see evidence reinforcing it everywhere. You believe it, and so it is your reality.

If so, the techniques I share in this blog are not for you. If you struggle to give people the benefit of the doubt, you will use negotiation tactics that are defensive. And, if you feel like you are struggling for power and losing, your approach may even border on adversarial.

If you struggle to trust a company even though it seems to be on the up and up, you will assume they are hiding something, and it will reveal itself in due time. In the meantime, you cover all your bases and feel compelled to constantly cover your … butt. In your professional work, if you feel the need to be competitive with others for attention, credit, prominence, and pay, you will assume others go to great lengths to win and that justifies you doing the same.

You are the last person my clients want work with, work for, or hire.

Why? You will most likely insist on being the last one to reveal your ask, even when pressed. You will try to circumvent the people in the company who are expected to ensure policy is followed for fairness and consistency. You may not even realize your bias against human resources.

You won’t believe what I am about to advise, so you might as well stop reading here.

If you consider yourself to be a moral, ethical person who believes that people are generally good and fair, you have found yourself disgusted by some things you have experienced in cut-throat corporate America. Even if you know there are good people out there, you may not have a lot of faith they can stay good in a system that promotes gaining profit (corporate and personal) over all else.

That being said, you want and deserve to be paid fairly. And there are so many great things you want to do with excess income that would enhance your life, help your family, and perhaps serve many others.

I have a deep compulsion to help you earn as much as possible within your market value range.  The truth is everyone wants a fair deal. I want that for you. You want that for you. And I want that for your employer, too. Why? Because when a company gets ROI on its talent, and it is a conscious corporation, it will reinvest profits in its people. And that is what we are all about.

A lot of companies say their people are their number one asset, but how many of them demonstrate it consistently? Finding out if a company really means it is getting easier (and we are working in making it even easier). And these companies will do the right thing by their people – and that’s when everyone wins.

If you want to stay on the same side with your employer during compensation negotiations, the first thing to do is due diligence: qualify that employer as a conscious company. Glassdoor, Top Places To Work lists, and the tenure and growth of its people historically (information you may be able to assess on LinkedIn) are resources you can use to do this. Then, of course, reach out directly to people on the inside to see if what you gather is substantiated.

The second thing you must do is understand what the market pays for your skills, experiences and talents. You can do this through online research on bls.gov, the salary estimates on Indeed (in the left column), reports on salary.com, and Glassdoor data. I recommend that you always ask a local recruiter who niches in your field to validate what you find. Make sure your data is based on local positions, or you adjust them based on your local cost of living.

Next, determine how you uniquely add value to this. In the nearly 12 years I have been a career coach, I have always been able to identify unique qualifiers for my clients, which is the essence of branding. Often there are monetary values attributed to those unique qualifiers, which can be qualities or hard skills. These can either push you into the upper ranges of market value, or move you above market value. Either way, you must be prepared to justify these clearly in a business case for your employer.

Whether you want to make a fair ask that enables the company to get ROI on you, or you are a top performer and the company knows how to leverage and develop you, they will aim to make 1.75x your salary. You may have a role traditionally considered to be in a “cost center” for a company, such as customer or technical support, but make no mistake – each and every role in a company was designed to contribute to the balance sheet in some way. If you’re not directly generating revenue directly, you are making it more possible, or you are helping to reduce costs or avoid shut-down/fines.  When you understand how your role contributes in this way, you can ensure that your ask is fair and that your reasons for believing this can be clearly articulated.

If your research indicates that the market value for your current position won’t meet your quality of life standards, it’s time to re-evaluate your career. And if you are unsure if the market value will support your needed standard quality of life and also provide a retirement you desire with the future quality of life you want, it’s time to get with a financial advisor. I am happy to make a referral. Just private message me.

Notice I haven’t said anything about your prior compensation. In spite of some companies’ and recruiting firms’ practices of determining your future value by your current value, your past or current compensation is not an accurate determination of your future value at all. It may be a reflection, however, of your self-worth. The branding journey we take our clients on helps them feel in alignment with their true market value and overcome the mental mindset that can develop from being underpaid and undervalued.

Lastly, what do you ask for and how do you come to an agreement with your employer while still keeping things friendly? After all, this is the first big decision you will make together. How you come to an agreement sets the tone for the commencement of the partnership, and it will influence your impression of each other from that point forward. Don’t you want to feel like you’re on the same team?  You each have an agenda, but the negotiation is really about finding the overlap and understanding the other party.

I am not one to advise people to refuse to answer questions about desired or expected salary.  Some of my peers, and even mentors, would.  If you feel like you might be taken advantage of by divulging your ask too soon, then you don’t trust this company. Maybe you wouldn’t trust any company? Or perhaps you didn’t qualify them as a company worthy of your trust? If you are the former, you probably should have stopped reading very early on. If you are the latter, do NOT enter into negotiations until you learn that the company is trustworthy, conscious, and invests in its people.

Instead of “holding your cards close to your chest,” I recommend boldly coming out with a reasonable range, data to back it up, and a business case to explain if you are asking for more than what the position usually pays. Keep in mind, ethical or not, when a person hears a range, they focus on what they are inclined to focus on in order to achieve their agenda. An unconscious company will want to get talent for as little money as possible. And a conscious company will not want to overpay for talent, because it hurts the company and inhibits their ability to re-invest in their talent.

Both examples will hear the low end of your range. So right after giving the range, discuss what conditions would have to be met in order for you to accept the low end, then swiftly explain how the company will benefit from investing in you on the high end.  Your low end must still support your current standard of living. Don’t give a low end that will leave you feeling slighted if offered, even though a conscious corporation would offer you good reasons for doing so.

Collegial negotiations are not just dependent what you say, though. It’s really more about how you are being – are you expecting the company will find your ask reasonable and do what they can to bring about the best possible outcome for both parties? If not, you probably should have stopped reading much earlier. This method will not work if you are suspicious. Authenticity is key here.

Lastly, leave the door open for them to ask questions and counter-offer. If a counter-offer seems way off your ask, ask them to help you understand, while giving them the benefit of the doubt that they have their reasons.

True story: I was trained in negotiating with candidates and employers as a recruiter. In my annual review shortly after that I was expecting a raise since I had been promoted in title. As trained, I did my research. In this annual review situation, it’s not customary to make an ask, as you’ve probably experienced. I anticipated my raise to be 50% above what I was making and instead it was a 10% raise. I had been underpaid my whole career prior to that, and armed with this new training, I was ready to earn fair compensation.  My boss, the VP of Sales – a master negotiator, had trained us to engage clients and candidates in further discussion when agendas didn’t align with the request, “Help me understand.” It became an inside joke, but in all fairness, it works, and it worked on him, too. I don’t have a poker face and I’m sure my disappointment in the offer was all over my face, so I took a deep breath and earnestly said, “Help me understand. I did research and based on the data, my compensation should be X.” I pointed to recent successes and things I had done outside of the scope of my role. He wanted to take a closer look at the data himself, and discuss it with the finance department and CEO.  They came back with a raise that was in my range, and a bit above the median. I, thankfully, had a conscious boss and CEO who wanted to pay talent fairly. 

The training I had was not the same as what I see other negotiation coaches promoting. It was designed to help three parties get on the same page, the employer, the candidate and the recruiting firm.  Our agenda was to keep strong relations with the employer to supply future talent needs, and to help our candidates earn as much as possible so that they stick and so that our share increased.  I used this training to increase my own salary by 50% and finally earn market value, and now I’m sharing it with you so that you can earn your fair share too.

 

If you would like to have guidance and support in qualifying conscious employers, understanding your unique market value, formulating and making your ask at the right time, reverse-engineering your career to align with your desired quality of life, and/or crafting counter-offers, e-mail Karen@epiccareering.com with the subject line: Make My Career Epic.

 

The Searchers – Take Me For What I’m Worth 1965

The Searchers – Take Me For What I’m Worth 1965

How to Be Honest About Interviewing for a New Job with Your Current Boss


A client of mine is under extreme scrutiny at work. His company is bleeding talent and they are on high alert for critical people that they could lose.

He, like me, has no poker face. He was confronted directly by his boss after we updated his LinkedIn profile. He found out with his answer whether or not he was looking for another opportunity. He wondered what he was justified in telling them, but he still wanted to be honest because that is his nature.  He knows the topic will come up again, especially because he will be interviewing soon.

We brainstormed some ways to deal with inquiries about his job seeking activities honestly, but without putting his job at risk.

Realistically, even if they knew that he was looking, they can’t afford to just fire him. But he also can’t afford a ding on his record, nor could he sustain his current standard of living for his family if he had to spend any time unemployed.

Below are things that you could say to minimize concerns while still being able to deliver a genuine answer.

Reasons why you need time off of work:

  • “I have an appointment.” This may or may not be sufficient for some employers. Technically, they are not allowed to inquire about anything medical. Keeping it vague may not alleviate concerns completely, but you may at least escape further inquiry for the moment. If pressed further, or to be preemptive, choose the next option.
  • “I have to resolve a matter.” This me, again, be too vague to alleviate concerns, but it may change the perception from you interviewing, to perhaps a legal matter.
  • “There is an event that I’m hoping will make me a better performer.”  This doesn’t immediately sound like an interview, but it is the truth in cases of when you are feeling inhibited in your performance by the conditions of your current employment. If you are asked more about this event, tell your boss that you are uncertain how valuable it will be, so you will let him or her know afterward. Then, if asked afterward, you may be able to share some insight or intelligence you learned in your interview.
  • “I have to tend to a personal matter.” This could be a stretch for us types. You would have to genuinely change your perception of a career from something professional to something that’s truly personal to you. Considering how much our career impacts other realms of our lives, this isn’t too far of a stretch. Most bosses back off from inquiring further about personal matters, unless they feel it is something that is impacting your performance.

When asked flat out if you are seeking another job, here are some answers that allow you to be honest while still securing your current position:

  • “Let me ask you – can you assure me that my job is 100% secure and that you can accommodate the growth that I seek in responsibility and income?”  This is potentially adversarial, and only works in situations where your reasons for seeking other employment is an uncertainty around the security of your future at your company. Everyone has the right to protect their source of income. This can open up good conversation between you and your boss around improvements and conditions that would make staying at your current employer better.
  • “Well, you know. Everybody wants me. I am a top commodity.” When I envision delivering this answer, I envision it to be delivered in a humorous manner, but you have to keep your audience in mind, and it has to feel natural to you. You may expect further inquiry. The facts are, that if you are valuable talent, your bosses should always expect that you are being recruited and do everything possible to retain you.
  • “I have met with other companies to discuss opportunities, but I intend to stay.” What you are not saying, is how long you intend to stay. Again, this could feel like a stretch of the truth, and you may ultimately feel worse when you do have to give your notice and it comes as a shock.

If you have not yet tried to address with your boss the conditions that inspire you to want to seek another opportunity, I recommend that you try that first. I don’t necessarily recommend that you tell your boss that you have thought about looking elsewhere, but instead to approach your boss from a place of wanting to make things better for the whole team. As in, “these are things that I have noticed.” And you will also want to come to the conversation with a list of possible solutions. If your concerns and solutions are not heard, considered, or implemented, any good boss would expect you to be looking elsewhere. Then again, any good boss would hear, considerate, and implement some of your solutions, given that they are reasonable. Also, most good bosses will be proactive about making sure that they know where you stand and what they can do to make you the leader you want to be.

 

Chances are good that you have had to take off of work for an interview. What have you said to your boss about where you were going?

John Lennon – Gimme Some Truth (Lyrics)

Read the title 🙂

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

“What Is Your Greatest Weakness?” – A Trick Question?

Job Interviews by World Relief Spokane of Flickr

Job Interviews by World Relief Spokane of Flickr

 

“What is your greatest weakness?” You could answer everything else right, but if you do not understand the purpose of this question and answer it powerfully, it can sink an otherwise fantastic interview. The real point of this question is to see how you have previously reacted in the face of difficulty as a consistent pattern. Recruiters believe past behavior is the best indication of future behavior. That is why there is an interview methodology coined “behavioral interviewing.” Think of this question as a probe to see how coachable you are—how willing you are to develop and grow. Are you honest with your interview? Are you honest with yourself? This question serves a lot of purposes for the employer, but their main agenda is to find the best candidate to fill the position, which costs the company money every day it remains unfilled.

Answering “what is your greatest weakness?” with a lie is unethical and could cost you the job, but answering too honestly could give a potential employer the impression that you don’t believe in yourself; and if you do not believe in yourself, the employer won’t either. An arrogant answer such as “I have no weaknesses,” or “I’m too perfect,” could also cost you the job. If you don’t volunteer a weakness, a potential employer won’t believe you. They will assume your weakness IS arrogance or that you are not coachable. In order to be coachable, you have to be able to acknowledge areas of development. Employers want to know if you will be an asset or a liability, in addition to making sure you will be a good fit and they MUST be able to believe you.

 

Determine your weaknesses

First, take stock of your weaknesses. We all have them and they are most likely areas of your professional life that you would like to improve. What currently challenges you? Is it a soft or a hard skill that you are lacking? Are you unfamiliar with technology? Do you shy away from public speaking? We are bound to have blind spots if we rely on our own perceptions of ourselves to identify our weaknesses. Part of our full-service branding includes a survey that is sent your trusted confidants, the people who know you best. It takes BRAVERY and HUMILITY to endure this process. It also demonstrates a dedication to growth. Imagine how impressed an employer will be, though, if you voluntarily participated in a 360 degree feedback. A 360 degree feedback is a process where employees receive confidential feedback from their managers and peers. This process allows employees to come to a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.

 

Be honest with a potential employer

Be honest with your interviewer, but not too honest. Self-depreciation elicits sympathy, but not job offers. Once you find your weaknesses, neutralize any emotion (shame, guilt, etc.) from mentions of your weaknesses. The Sedona Method of releasing is one way to separate yourself from your weaknesses. There are also other methods, such as Christian Mickelsen’s Instant Miracle, and EFT, also known as tapping. The purpose of release is to free yourself from the emotional weight of your weaknesses. After you find and release your weaknesses, ask yourself a few questions. How has this challenge affected your work and what steps have you been taking to overcome the weakness? Are you taking classes? Are you reading books? Are you doing actively doing the task you dreaded? Have you engaged a coach? According to a 2009 ICF Global Coaching Client study, of the 2200 participants, over 99% of the professionals who used a career coach emerged either “somewhat satisfied” or “very satisfied” from the experience.

Tell the interviewer how you have overcome or are overcoming the weakness and how you came to realize its impact on your performance. Demonstrate to your employer how you added value by confronting your weakness. The Sedona methods and the other methods mentioned are ways to help resolve these kinds of emotional challenges. Perhaps you were terrified of interacting with customers, but recognized your weakness and strove to work with them. Soon you had fewer issues interacting with customers and improved sales at your company. Think about your own experiences and stick to the facts.

 

Is your weakness a strength?

Perhaps your weakness is actually a strength. (Conversely, some strengths can be weaknesses, so be careful with this line of reasoning. As I mentioned earlier, statements such as “I’m too organized” or “I’m a perfectionist” could come off as arrogant to an interviewer.) For example, you may not have the experience for the position for which you are interviewing, but you sell your experience in other industries as something that will offer new insights as to how to accomplish tasks. In other words, you offer a potential employer a fresh perspective. If you try to spin your weakness as a strength without a real solution, you may strike your interviewer as disingenuous. Like everything else, state the problem, your solution, how you have practically applied that solution to your work, and what the outcomes and impacts have been.

 

The “What is your greatest weakness?” question is designed to discover your response to challenges. The point is not to show a potential employer that you are flawless—no one believes you are without flaws. Rather, employers want to hire people who know they are not perfect (because no one is), but are willing to acknowledge areas that can be developed as needed in a position and proactively seek out ways to grow.

Think about some of your greatest achievements. Were you successful because you already knew the solution, or did that great achievement come from finding a solution in the midst of the problem?

 

5 Common Job Search Myths Debunked

Emma reading the newspaper by Diego Sevilla Ruiz of Flickr

Emma reading the newspaper by Diego Sevilla Ruiz of Flickr

 

Is it really possible to switch industries? Can anyone land at their dream job? As a career coach, I have seen many job seekers limit what is truly possible in their careers simply because they believed common misconceptions. Not only do common misperceptions or myths hold job seekers back, but they can be detrimental in the long run. Think of the prolonged job searches, feeling trapped at a job you are disengaged from, and how your health can suffer because of stress. By uncovering and debunking some of the most common job search myths, your job search can soar to heights you never imagined.

 

Myth #1: You do not need a cover letter

Are cover letters a requirement? Many employers require a cover letter, but think of them as the key to getting directly in front of a hiring manager. A cover letter demonstrates an interest in the company, explains your skills, and covers what is not included in your résumé. It is an introduction to a hiring manager that highlights your accomplishments, accompanies your résumé, and it is your chance to make your case for an interview. In fact, a cover letter is read before your résumé and often determines if a hiring manager will take the time to read your résumé. A well-written cover letter is tailored to a specific company, grabs the attention of a hiring manager, and beckons him or her to take immediate action.

 

Myth #2: Changing careers is impossible

Jennifer Ghazzouli was a bench chemist for the Philadelphia Police Department. She wanted more from her job and switched careers. She is now in recruiting and leads global hiring strategy for QVC. Jennifer was approached early in her career about becoming a recruiter and was told by others that recruiting is sales. She initially balked at the idea. However, Jennifer knew that she was not happy as a bench chemist. When she talked to her friends, they shared insights and ultimately the job lead.

Changing careers was one of the top frustrations of the many job seekers we asked. They find it is challenging to enter a new industry without the industry experience the job appears to require. A career change requires more work than changing employers, but it is not an impossible task. Like Jennifer, many of the people who successfully broke into a new industry do so through their network. In fact, I saw this happening as a recruiter. A position that called for a specific industry experience would go to someone who was able to promote transferable skills and experience as value-adds. Branding in these cases was just as responsible as networking. In terms of transitioning, research the new industry by looking at employers, asking questions of those already in the industry, and volunteering. Hard skills can be transferred from one career to another. Additionally, soft skills  also play a huge role in your career. Unlike hard skills, a good grasp of soft skills is required in any industry. Like changing an employer, consider what makes you happy in your career and why you want to transition to a new industry.

 

Myth #3: The job of your dreams is not viable

Jack Morrison of SAP America never doubted his chances of success. Unfortunately, most people somewhere along the way are told and believe that success is not possible for them; that they are not worthy to receive what they really want, and/or that it is better to be accepted, and to not rock the boat. So many people settle for a job that pays the bills. Settling for a job you are not passionate about is a recipe for disengagement. Employee disengagement is an epidemic at 70%, costing US companies $450 billion each year, and costing individuals the chance to thrive, be fulfilled and well-paid. Just like with changing careers, research is king when it comes to landing your dream job. Make a list of companies that fit 80% of your criteria and begin finding and reaching out to contacts within those companies. Brian Quinn dreamed of being a rock star from a very young age and never gave up on his dream career. The path was not easy, but he worked hard to fulfill his calling and found success.

 

Myth #4: Do not leave your job without having another one waiting

It is always better to have a new job waiting before you quit. Having a job makes it easier to negotiate for a higher salary and you avoid unemployment bias. However, you may not always have the luxury of searching for a job while employed. Also, consider your happiness if you are employed at a job you dislike. If the job is stressful enough that you want to leave immediately, take your financial situation into account. If you have savings to get by for a little while, plan your job search out, and even consider the help of a career coach. Evaluate the costs to your life and potentially to your wallet by staying stuck versus the investment you make in being able to take control of your life. Think about being able to land at a company where you can thrive and be paid well. That is what we help job seekers obtain!

 

Myth #5: Employment is a one-way street

The job seekers who feel that they are at an employer’s mercy may be stuck in a cycle of disappointment in their job search. Their confidence is gone and they start to believe something is wrong with them, and they must take whatever they can get. In these instances, it is their tools and tactics that need adjustment, not who they are or what they want. The end result of putting yourself at the mercy of an employer is landing an awful job. It does not have to be this way. Just as an employer is making sure you are a good fit at an interview, you are doing the same. You owe it to yourself and your happiness to accept a job at an employer who will keep you engaged and fulfilled. Ask questions at your interview, discover their mission, and research them beforehand. Additionally, your number one weapon against being at an employer’s mercy is momentum, which we help job seekers generate. Momentum is having several offers in play, while employers bid over you- much like an auction. Instead hoping that you are hired by an employer, the employer hopes that they can persuade you to work for them. That is the power of job momentum!

 

Job seeker misconceptions or myths can prolong a job search and frustrate employees who want to make major career changes. Worse, these mistaken beliefs can cause job seekers to doubt themselves, to give up on their job searches, and to reach a place of disappointment and desperation. Often job search methods and tools are the problem, not the job seeker. By clearing away these misconceptions we hope that job seekers will reject these self-limiting beliefs and realize what is possible in their job search.

What common job search myths would you add to this list?

 

 

7 Ways to Leave Your Current Job without Burning Bridges

Rusty Bridge by ThreePinner of Flickr

Rusty Bridge by ThreePinner of Flickr

Steven Slater, a JetBlue Airways flight attendant, was frustrated with his job. He had enough one day and quit on the spot. He cursed at the passenger he had been arguing with, grabbed a beer, and slid down the plane’s emergency chute. Slater was hailed as a hero by many, but quickly landed in trouble. His method of quitting burned a lot of bridges, to say the least. Workers who are unhappy deserve to find a better job, but how you quit affects your job search. If you leave your employer in a bind, you may jeopardize your professional future as a reputation for quitting suddenly may follow you. Exercising patience and leaving on good terms will make it easier to land future jobs.

 

  1. Keep your job search confidential

Revealing you are looking for work can cause you to be terminated immediately. Many employers fear that job seekers will depart and take confidential information with them, or they may not give the job their best effort. Ask former employers, co-workers, and clients for recommendations to avoid being discovered during your job search. Be aware that updating your LinkedIn profile may alert employers, but do not let that fear keep you from optimizing your profile. It is a small world and word of your search could travel. Explain to your trusted contacts and potential employers that your job search is confidential. When it comes to references, use previous supervisors. They may ask if your current employer will be a reference. The response to this question depends on how confident you feel that, in spite of your leaving, your employer will sing your praises. Let your prospective employer know that upon receipt of an offer, you will ask your current employer to be a reference. You can be honest if you are uncertain. All too often previous employers are spiteful, though there are laws in most states to protect employees from references that prevent them from landing viable new work.

 

  1. Do not make a dramatic exit

If you have a toxic work culture, or boss, it may be tempting to heed the siren call of gleeful abandonment once your next position is secured. There may be an urge to slap a letter of resignation on your boss’s desk, or to tell your co-workers what you really think of them as you make your exit. Keep your exit civil and classy regardless of your working conditions. You do not know when you may need someone at your company as a future reference. They may hesitate to help you depending on how you departed.

 

  1. Give ample notice

Turn in your notice at least two weeks before your departure. Two weeks is standard, but give a longer notice when possible to be considerate toward your employer. A sudden exit greatly inconveniences your boss, colleagues, and customers, and ensures you leave on bad terms as they scramble to find a replacement. Again, it is a small world and the reputation that you left your employer in a bind may follow you. While being considerate, you also want to protect yourself. Some employers may send you home that day when you give your notice, and you may even find yourself escorted by security. This is a policy sometimes borne out of concern that departing employers may take proprietary information, especially if you accept a job offer with a competitor. Still, give them the consideration of two weeks’ notice.

  1. Train your replacement

Training new employees is time-consuming for many employers. Make the transition easier for your boss by offering to work with your replacement, or to create a training manual. These actions create a win-win-win scenario for everyone involved. Your boss does not have to spend time training a new employee, your replacement is empowered to move into your position with minimal effort, and you leave a reputation of reliability.

  1. Finish your existing projects

Finish your existing projects and tie up loose ends. No one wants to be saddled with the burden of trying to complete someone else’s project. If it is not possible to complete a project, create and keep ample documentation. A finished project or detailed instructions makes it easier for your replacement to move into your role.

 

  1. Connect with co-workers

Let your co-workers know of your departure and offer to keep in touch. Informing your co-workers in advance gives them time to prepare for the transition, though you want to use discretion about who you can trust. Send a farewell message via mass e-mail and give co-workers your contact information, such as a personal e-mail address and a LinkedIn profile. Prepare it before you leave, as you may only have 30 minutes to pack up your belongings and leave the premises. Make sure your colleagues are in your LinkedIn network and stay in contact. You never know where a co-worker may end up, if he or she may be your next boss, or in a prime position to hire you at a future job.

 

counteroffer

  1. Do not accept a counteroffer

Your boss may make a counteroffer once they discover your intent to leave. There are good reasons to deny this offer. It is designed to stop you from leaving, but you may be fired within a few months as they devise a plan to replace you. Additionally, the dissatisfaction that caused you to seek a new job will remain, even with a pay raise. Remind yourself of the reasons you are leaving and stick to your decision.

 

If you work at a less-than-ideal employer, it may be tempting to burn bridges as you exit. We hope you are leaving your employer because you have big plans to become happy professionally. We encourage you to take control and plan your exit. If you really have days that are SO bad that you fantasize about going out in a blaze of glory, what you are really seeking is the ultimate feeling of empowerment. This does not come from that blaze of glory moment- that moment can burn you forever. It comes from intentionally and strategically planning your next move and exiting with class. Chances are there are others at your job having the same fantasy who will be inspired by and perhaps envious of your moving on to bigger and better. This is really the best revenge against employers who have proven undeserving of your talents, effort, and time.

 

Are You Too Picky in Your Job Search?

Job search by Aaron Gaines of Flickr

Job search by Aaron Gaines of Flickr

Is there such a thing as being too picky in your job search? Is it possible to have standards, expectations, or criteria so high that it becomes difficult to land?

When I was a recruiter, I had a consultant with a unique set of challenges, and very valuable niche clinical trial skills. She lived within five miles of a major pharmaceutical company for which she completed an 18-month contract, and then she was not allowed to return or extend her contract due to the company’s strict policy. The policy was designed to eliminate the risk of having any consultants misconstrue their employment relationship with the company and any claim to employee benefits. We wanted to place her again, because she was a very presentable candidate and her skill set was high in demand. However, her job criteria was to work for another pharmaceutical company within a five-mile radius of her house. This did not exist. In spite of her criteria, any time a position opened up in another company, we called her to try and convince her that she would not find what she was seeking.

She was also collecting unemployment compensation from my firm. As you can see, this became an issue that did not just impact the consultant’s ability to land something new, but it became costly to us. It was a lose-lose-lose situation. Our clients lost a good prospect. She lost her ability to make a great rate and to gain additional experience that could help further develop her skills; and we lost money on unemployment compensation and the margin we would make for placing her.

This brings up a good point about the other stakeholders in your career. Who else has an investment in whether you land and what you earn? Are you borrowing or living off of someone else while you search for something better? They will want to tell you to take anything, to be fair to them. However, taking anything could put you back on “their couch” within six months.  Many people perceive their challenges as being too great, and as a result, settle for less. Adjusting your criteria and your strategy will help you overcome a difficult job search.

It may take a little longer to find the right position that will return you to a good standard of living long-term, and then again, it may not take as much time as trying to market yourself for anything available. Those stakeholders want to make sure you are making an effort. If you need to educate them on why you are being more selective, you can show them this article, but make sure you are seeking something achievable. (If you have doubts, contact us for a consultation.)

It is possible to have standards and expectations that are so high that it may take longer to land at your next employer. The challenges may not be as specific as the consultant we tried to place, but a few common challenges do exist.

 

Challenge: Age

Age is one major example with its own unique set of challenges. Hiring managers may assume senior professionals are out-of-date when it comes to technology, or that they may command a higher salary than a younger worker. It is true that especially during the poor economy, some companies replaced experienced workforces with fresher, cheaper talent, but they also suffered from their staff not getting the benefit of experienced professionals’ wisdom, trial and error, and their ability to navigate VIP relationships. The value of experience can be sold!

Another perceived risk of hiring an older worker is more related to health and vitality. How many more years do they have in them? Are they half out the door into retirement? Do they have the stamina to keep up with younger staff? Are they “with it” enough to relate to the millennial workforce? These challenges and perceptions can be overcome by being the picture of health and energy. Take care of yourself- exercise and eat well. Promote activities outside of work on your LinkedIn profile that prove you are dynamic and have the stamina to maintain a full plate and thrive. Most importantly, keep up with technological trends by reading tech blogs, following tech authorities, and experimenting with new technologies and social media platforms.

 

Challenge: Lack of qualifications

You may not have all the qualifications needed for a position. Many great companies would RATHER hire someone who has the aptitude to learn the skills rather than someone who has the skills mastered. This is especially true if they already have a master of skills on their staff, and if that master is looking to move upward, and they want to create growth and development opportunities. One way to overcome being underqualified is to build rapport and establish a relationship with hiring managers, or employees at your companies of choice. It is not just about the relationship here, but more about the unique value you can bring to the table. Yes, a hiring manager wants to hire someone they like and feel comfortable with, but hiring is a business decision, and the hire is going to make the manager look good; so an applicant better bring something unique to the table.

An interesting statistic I learned at the PA Conference for Women is that women will apply if they have 7-out-of-10 qualifications, while men will apply if they have 3-out-of-10 qualifications. If it were true that the most qualified candidate obtains the job, women would be landing at these jobs, but only if they threw their hat into the ring. Does this make you rethink your applications?

 

Challenge: Being overqualified

Hiring managers may assume if your education and experience are more than what the position requires, you will command a higher salary as well. Or they may fear you will quickly become disengaged and will leave as soon as the next job opportunity arrives. However, some people legitimately want to take a step back. I have had many clients that for heath reasons no longer want the stress and responsibility of their executive jobs. They want to assemble widgets. They want to do something monotonous and cathartic. Yes, they can bring a certain something with them from their executive experience that could be very valuable in developing the team as a whole- this is where you have to be careful, though. If you want to assemble widgets now, sell your ability to make widgets, not your previous executive experience.

You cannot refute the personal experiences other people have had. Hiring managers and recruiters have already experienced more senior workers underestimating the challenge of NOT being the manager, not having input into how things are done, and not being able to mesh with a younger staff. You cannot easily overcome this perception by promoting your executive experience as a value-add, and you cannot just convince someone that it will not be a problem and that you will be satisfied with a lower position. Recruiters and hiring managers have heard these reassurances before and have lived to regret them. Before jumping into a major career shift, take a few moments to consider what you really want from that shift and your overall goals.

Too many others have sought lower opportunity because they had challenges looking for work at their level that they could not overcome because of their limited knowledge of job search strategy. Being more flexible is advice many people get, and it seems logical – if you cannot land something suitable, settle for something less. Seeking work at a lower level can be a good opportunity, but only if a company is willing to offer growth opportunities. It is similar to taking a position for which you are underqualified. That said, beware of not so great companies that only want to take advantage of desperate workers willing to accept lesser pay.

Do not underestimate the cost of working for a not so great company. You will have found employment, but consider the detrimental costs to your health, quality of life, and your self-esteem. These companies are often bullies who create a toxic work culture and make you feel and believe over time that you are somehow lucky to have work, fostering a fear of leaving. This is essentially mental abuse. No one has to ever settle for this!  Searching when overqualified often takes LONGER as you get invited for interviews, think you have better experience than other candidates, only to find out that you did not get the job. This cycle can affect your faith in yourself and in your chances of finding work, but there is nothing wrong with you- just your strategy and system. We can help!

 

Our take

Having high standards (within reason) may make it slightly more difficult to land, but it is possible. Know what you want, map a plan out to achieve it, and pursue your goals. If it is not viable as the next step, fill in the steps in between. What steps do you need to take to achieve what you want? More training? Acquiring new skills? Discovering how you can apply your existing skills, if you are not completely qualified? There are ways to overcome these challenges* and we have already helped our clients through many of them.

*There are challenges we are not adept at handling (see the FAQs on this page), but we do have resources and partners who do specialize in helping you overcome unique challenges.

Overcoming challenges sometimes requires shifting tracks or retraining. Grit, or your perseverance and passion for long-term goals, is a key ingredient in your job search, but you could also run the risk of spinning your wheels and burning out with the wrong strategy and job search system. We have devised the perfect system that will help you do this in 90 days or less, guaranteed, if you find that you are wasting valuable time (and potential income) figuring this out for yourself. We are here to be your partner.

 

Is your search filled with unique challenges that make it more difficult to land? Are you being too picky in your job search? It may be tempting to lower your standards and settle for less.  However, a shift in your criteria or a change in your mindset will help you overcome these challenges. If it is possible for someone else to land their desired job, you can certainly do the same. If you are having a difficult time creating a road map, we can help! Do not settle for less because your criteria and standards are higher than most. If you are hesitant with a difficult job search, here is some advice to consider from comedian Jim Carrey: “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance with what you do what.”