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What to Say When You Follow Up

Research by teresaphillips1965 on Flickr

Analysis paralysis is a phenomenon that happens when you hesitate taking action until you have enough data, which is an enigma.

It’s valuable to do research before reaching out to an employer. There are some things you should know: the leaders, the customers, the products and services, the current and short-term future initiatives, and the culture, etc.

Once you reach out, however, many job seekers fail to follow up, and miss the opportunity to get the application and/or résumé read.

Analysis paralysis is sometimes at fault. It can also be fear or not wanting to be perceived as too aggressive or annoying, which is also fear. Often I hear it’s not knowing what to say, and how to come off as enthusiastic versus desperate.

This post assumes you have sent your individual (versus group copied) thank you notes to all who were involved in getting you to that stage AND that you asked before the conclusion of your interview what the next steps and timeline is.

I don’t assume that you invited everyone to connect with you on LinkedIn with a customized message because very few people do this. That is because most people think of an interview as transactional instead of potentially transformational.

That is true of job search networking in general. Many people have a “What can you do for me now” perspective, which limits success in the short term, but more importantly in the long term. If you invest more time diversifying and deepening your network, making anything happen becomes a matter of making some calls and scheduling some meetings.

So, within 48 hours of your interview, you have sent individual thank yous and customized LinkedIn invitations. Then let’s say you were told that there would be some news about next steps sometime next week. Schedule your follow up for the following Wednesday (generally 2-3 days after you expect to hear, or 7-10 days after the interview.)

During these days, set google alerts for each person, and the company if you hadn’t done that during your target company research prior to the interview.

Look for signs of what they tend to like, share or engage on their LinkedIn profile. Start taking note of what is engaging each person, and watch the company pages and profiles. Compile a mini-library of articles that may be of interest to each person and the company. If you can find things that directly correlate to things you discussed in the interview, that’s even better.

When it comes time to follow up, unless you hear from them sooner, forward or send an article you suspect is of interest either by e-mail or social media. Determine which is most appropriate by what appears to be more heavily utilized throughout the day.

This does not have to be a lengthy communication.

It can be formal or informal. Take your cue from what you perceived the recipient to be. Of course, be professional.

It can be as simple as:

Dear Jill,

This article may be of interest to you, based on our conversation. I truly enjoyed meeting you and look forward to hearing about next steps.

I know this process can take some time. I continue to consider other opportunities, but I have been thinking a lot about all of the great things I know I would be able to do as your Vice President of Client Services and would love to know how the process is coming along. Please update me at your earliest convenience.

Best wishes in finding your ideal candidate.

Sincerely,

Karen Huller

If you legitimately have another opportunity progressing toward an offer, do take the opportunity to be forthright and let them know. You may even want to call and let them know. However, be prepared to field questions about where you are interviewing. You don’t have to answer them, and don’t if an opening is confidential. However, only give an update if it’s legitimate.

That’s it. It’s not more complicated than that.

 

Any chance you can take to add value, take it.

Steve Winwood – While You See A Chance

Best of SteveWinwood: https://goo.gl/8dc7ED Subscribe here: https://goo.gl/mJ3es8 Music video by Steve Winwood performing While You See A Chance. (C) 1986 Universal Island Records Ltd. A Universal Music Company.

Purpose: Why Are We Here? What Are We Doing?

Peeking by Neville Nel of Flickr

 

These are deep questions, ones that in the midst of our hustle and bustle lives we rarely contemplate with any depth. This time of year as we supposedly get a little time off to focus on what matters and approach a new year, the opportunity for a fresh start, allow these questions to simmer in your mind for a bit.

Purpose is not a basic need, like food and shelter. However, people who consider themselves happy point to purpose as their happiness fuel. You can certainly be content to have the things that you need to survive, but I cannot help but feel as though if you have not reached the level of happiness that living your purpose provides, you have not really lived.

Sometimes purpose is underestimated as a resource for survival. I know so many people, too many people, who feel like they are treading water, just barely keeping their heads above. I want to help them all.

A very common key ingredient missing from their lives is the fact that what they do for a living is not at all tied to their purpose. This leads them to underperformance, underemployment, and underpayment, which then leads to a vicious cycle of under living, and that is the source of feeling like your head is barely above the water. The converse of that, however, is a feeling I wish everyone could experience. The best way I can describe it for those who have not yet discovered their purpose, is that it is like when you are at a live concert or show. The combination of the music plus the performance and the crowd crescendo to a point where you feel like your heart is so full that it is bursting, and you have a sense of connection to something bigger than yourself. Perhaps for you this sensation came in a different setting, like a Tony Robbins event, or a really moving religious ceremony. It is exhilarating, or as one client referred to it recently, LIGHTENING.

When your vocation is tied to your purpose, this sensation is a regularly-occurring phenomenon.

The best contribution that I can make at this time for all of you who have not yet known or have forgotten what it feels like to thrive and be happy is my new eBook: Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint Your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days.

Please spread the word, as I would like to get it into the hands of as many people who are living under their potential as possible.

Discovering your purpose is not only for your sake, but it is also of great importance to the GREAT employers. In fact, I just read a LinkedIn post about how REI doubled the amount of applicants by integrating purpose into their culture and hiring.

If you have yet to succeed at a great company, consider that the missing ingredient is PASSION. There is no better time to start than NOW… Well, December 28th, actually.  That is when the book is officially launched. In the meantime, however, grab your copy NOW.

“Laser-Sharp Career Focus now goes to the top of the list of helpful tools for job seekers and those endeavoring to manage their careers more successfully. The book is practical, effective and affordable! If you do the work in the book, the book will work for you. You can even revisit the exercises periodically, to reflect on your answers and update your career priorities. In my opinion, Laser-Sharp Career Focus should become your constant companion, helping you over time to build your most ideal career!”                    

 ~ Ford R. Myers, President of Career Potential, LLC and author of Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring 

 

 

Make 2017 the year you level-up your career fulfillment and shoot for EPIC success.

 

 

Look at a Person’s Light, Not their Lampshade

From Quotefancy.com

 

I read this quote from Gerald G. Jampolsky and immediately had to add it to my library of inspiration. I was pondering it for so long.

The most obvious reason that it appealed to me is because of my own company’s motto, “Unveil Your Brilliance.”

This might sound too crazy to be true, but in the ten plus years that I have been providing services to job seekers, I have found each and every one of my clients to be brilliant.

Another quote you may recognize—“Seek and ye shall find.”

Had I discovered and uncovered their brilliance because it was my mission to find and articulate that brilliance? Or have all of the people who have chosen to engage me as their partner in transition been brilliant for doing so?

Then I start to think about the implications of this concept of identifying the brilliance, the light, and everyone in the hiring process.

As a recruiter, I had been a member of a population of justifiably skeptical, if not cynical, people who had been deceived and whose faith in people had been broken time and time again. When people are your product, then you can expect the unexpected, no matter how well you qualify and vet people. There will always be those few people who are either good at fooling themselves, are good at fooling you into thinking that they are confident, conscientious, and competent when they really are not.

I did not like myself as a cynical person. I much prefer to be the person that not only identifies what makes someone uniquely valuable, but also the person to remind others what makes them uniquely valuable. Furthermore, I help them articulate their value powerfully to the world so that they can claim a career and life that makes them proud.

So is it possible to be on the hiring side, mitigating risk for your company and its employees while still being able to appreciate the goodness and value in everyone?

Of course, being turned down by a company does not have to be a diminishment or failure to recognize someone’s unique value. After all, not every company can possibly present each person with their best opportunity to shine brightly.

One of my favorite children’s books is called The Crown on Your Head by Nancy Tillman. It sends the message that you were born special and with an invisible crown. The book beautifully teaches the reader, the child, to appreciate their own crown. It also teaches that everyone else also has a crown.

“No one’s is brighter and no one’s is duller; it’s only a crown of a different color.”

I talked to so many very talented job seekers whose main pain and frustration is the fact that they are certain that they will be tremendously valuable to a company and they get either no response, or they are rejected. As a result, they do not feel as though their individual potential was adequately recognized and acknowledged.

 

On the hiring side, I see great room for improvement on how interviewers go about seeing candidates as each having something uniquely valuable to offer, while still effectively identifying the crown color match that will best enable the individual and the company to shine.

On the job seeker’s side, I wish everyone could have the benefit of working with a personal branding professional like me. Someone who will remove the lampshade so that your color and light will be noticed and appreciated by the company that needs your talent.

 

 

How to Find Out if a Company Has Work-Life Balance without Seeming like a Slacker

Business by Richard Stebbing of Flickr

Business by Richard Stebbing of Flickr

Sometimes the next level of fulfillment that my clients are looking for is comprised of more free time to spend with their family. If Glassdoor doesn’t provide clear answers on how flexible a company is willing to be, the only other way to find out is to ask. If you ask another insider, someone not necessarily involved in hiring you, you might be able to ask more direct questions and people may feel free to be more candid. However, if both of those options are dead ends, the only option left is to find out during the interview process.

Having the interviewer acquire knowledge about your marital or familial status can put them in a precarious position. These types of questions are illegal for them to ask because they are not allowed to discriminate based on the interviewee’s status. Even for an interviewer to find out by you telling them directly opens them up to potential discrimination liability.

Another risk of acquiring about a company’s work-life balance policies is that you might be perceived as though you are someone who wants to play or rest more than work. Some generations are very susceptible to this perception. So, this week I offer you questions that you can ask a company to determine how flexible they are without seeming like a slacker.

What do you do to keep your employees happy and engaged?

What does the average workday look like for three different people on your team?

How has working here made your life better?

I pride myself on being a dynamic person; the experiences I’ve had outside of work enable me to bring even more value to my work. Do you feel like you have a dynamic workforce? And what do you do to nurture that?

What is the best way for an employee to ensure that they are making the most of their 9-5, if those are in fact the expected hours?

 

Your interviewer may perceive you to be very smart at asking questions, or, if they are really perceptive, they may see what you are getting at. Ultimately, a company would want to promote that they value work-life balance, if, in fact, they do. All employers may not understand the importance, so if it is important to you, take accountability to find out. If you feel that a potential employer resents this line of questioning, consider that resentment good to know and move on to the next company. You do not need to settle. Work-life balance, career fulfillment, and a good income are all attainable.

 

How to Tell if You’re About to be Laid Off

CIMG6096 by Daniel of Flickr

CIMG6096 by Daniel of Flickr

 

It is always worse when a layoff comes out of left field, isn’t it? There is definitely something to be said about being mentally prepared to find a new job. Of course there is even more to be said when you are fully prepared with an updated résumé and a branded LinkedIn profile that will position you for what’s next.

I can relate to being in denial; I certainly should have seen the signs coming before my first layoff after 9-11. Even though I had been yearning for greater responsibility and wanting to either move up or move on, I took my layoff very hard. When it took ten months to find something new, and that something new was a step back, I regretted not being more prepared.

That was the first of three times, so I feel like I have learned a little something about how to tell when bad news is coming. The more warning you have, the higher the chances that you can turn the bad news into a positive next step.

 

1. News of future plans grows quiet

Any company doing well is going to want to generate excitement about the future. If projects are suddenly put on hold, or high-priority projects that your manager had previously told you were coming down the pike suddenly don’t seem as important, something is about to change.

This treatment could even seem like being given the cold shoulder. You may be starting to consider whether you should just confront your boss directly. If you do, be prepared to hear no news or to receive bad news. Ultimately and unfortunately, when bad news is impending there is a pecking order for who is told first.

 

2. Your employer no longer spends money on certain things

This could refer to perks, travel, technology, training, or even bonuses. Even if there are no immediate plans for the company’s leadership to sell or close, and you can see that the focus is more on cutting costs than growing, it is only a matter of time before they lose market share or become obsolete. If you want to be noble and go down with a sinking ship, that is your prerogative, but simultaneously prepare a life boat. Read over any non-competes, decide what company you want to target, update your LinkedIn profile and start reconnecting with people in your network, update your résumé, and decide how you are going to tell people about why you are looking for something new. (Do so in that order.)

 

3. Other people are being let go

This sounds pretty obvious, but I have seen some professionals insist that those who were let go were logical choices, whereas they were top performers. This is who gets hit by the news the hardest. You might have done everything right, you might have established that you are irreplaceable, and still be the victim of a workforce reduction. Does it have to do with your salary? Maybe. You will spend days and weeks trying to figure out what you could have done differently and the answer could be nothing. Instead, act immediately to position yourself as a rock star and a thought leader in high demand. Promote everything that you have done to add value to your employer and promote your résumé through social media. Consider publishing posts and responding to calls for speakers at industry conferences. Set up lunch meetings. Organize happy hours.

 

Being uncertain of the future and being in flux are very uncomfortable for most people. The best way to ease your worry is to make something happen. Start to build momentum. Even if you are wrong and your job is completely secure, you might open new doors to unexpected opportunities.

 

Does Your Company Play Offense or Defense with their LinkedIn Policies?

The-best-defense-is-a

Last night during Super Bowl 50, there was a two-point conversion which put the Broncos two touchdowns ahead of the Panthers. My father at first did not understand why they would risk not getting the extra point, but it paid off. The Broncos got the two-point conversion and kept their two touchdown lead. They did not need that lead in the end to win, but knowing what a fierce team the Panthers have been all season, going for the extra point was their best shot at insuring the win.

Is your company playing offense or defense when it comes to their LinkedIn policy?

Do you think your company is spending too much time and resources trolling the LinkedIn profiles of employees? Does your boss check his or her alerts whenever an employee is active on the service?

Do you know anyone who was fired from their job for using LinkedIn? If an employer were to be suspicious, either justifiably or not, what do you think of someone being fired as a result?

There are risks and rewards for the employees who use LinkedIn to job hunt while they are still employed. For example, someone actively looking while still employed may pose a data risk to their employer. However, we cannot assume just because someone is looking for a new job that they would be immoral or unethical. (Of course, job searching while on the job is a big no-no.) What if more employers adopted a comprehensive and offensive approach to LinkedIn to engage and ultimately retain employees?

 

Defensive LinkedIn policies inhibit employee growth

Many employees may imagine their employers are regularly checking their LinkedIn profiles to make sure they are not getting ready to leave. There are two reasons why a company might routinely check the LinkedIn profiles of employees. This is to either fire them first (if job search activity is found), or to convince them to stay. Restrictive LinkedIn policies are defensive. If LinkedIn policies are too restrictive and intrusive, the company demonstrates a lack of trust and respect for the employee, which may cause an employee to seek a new job. Restrictive policies may inhibit an employee’s ability to generate leads, partners, vendors, and to recruit.

Defensive LinkedIn policies also damage employment brands and recruitment efforts

Restrictive LinkedIn policies also have an effect on potential employees. Let us examine a scenario. A job seeker sees a job opening and wants to know more about the company because they care about where they work. They know they have options and are a highly valuable employee. They research the company’s LinkedIn page and evaluate the employee profiles. The savvy job seeker and wants to know how they are connected, but the employee profiles leave everything to be desired. Many employee profiles have minimal content. The employees strike the job seeker as dull and uninterested. They did not even take a moment to write a few words about themselves, or perhaps they are hiding something. It is as if the profiles are under lock down. The job seeker is unimpressed and says “No thanks! Next!” If companies are not strategically using LinkedIn to promote their employment brand, they are failing to attract savvy employees, and perhaps even potential customers.

 

Playing offense on LinkedIn engages employees

By playing offense and being proactive, a company keeps their employees engaged professionally through LinkedIn instead of having to fear if the next update could land them in trouble.  Kevin Wheeler, a consultant and public speaker, has listed the ways a company can play offense to engage and retain their employees. Some key aspects are to excite employees, and to give them a sense of freedom and opportunity.

One of the biggest reasons employees seek opportunities elsewhere is because they cannot easily grow or find promotion within their own companies. Career development or opportunities to move up within a company are appealing.  Advancement is not always tied to a higher salary, and employees (especially younger employees), seek to grow and develop their skills. If they feel stagnant they may seek growth elsewhere.

Companies that reward their employees with recognition create good will and loyalty. This is especially true for millennial workers who crave frequent feedback on their contributions.

Employers who care about employees by offering growth opportunity and ample recognition can extend that good will to their LinkedIn policies. These policies encourage employees to use LinkedIn to the fullest to promote themselves, share their knowledge and to promote the company.

These LinkedIn policies include encouraging employees to optimize and brand their profiles. We have been hired by companies to write powerfully-branded profiles for their customer facing front line and executive teams with great results. Powerful employee profiles mention work accomplishments in status updates, publish industry-related articles and company content, connect to a company page and group, endorse and network with co-workers, and expand their network to include customers, prospects, and partners. A proactive approach also engages employees by forming policies around using work hours to connect with others, and even having a marketing team or third-party like us create promotional content that can be disseminated on employees’ status updates. A company can better utilize the complete workforce to share news and job openings. Companies like Seer Interactive and Accolade consider every employee as a part of their recruiting effort.

 

A comprehensive and offensive LinkedIn policy can play a huge role in employee engagement. Remember the scenario I talked about earlier? Now imagine a job seeker comes across a company’s LinkedIn page. Instead of lackluster profiles with minimal content, that job seeker sees powerfully-branded profiles, frequent status updates about their job and industry, and well-connected employees. These employees are happy to talk about their employer and the company seems like a great place to work. They are interested and reach out to make a connection. Now this employee can have a conversation with a candidate that can easily serve as a first interview. This is what LinkedIn can offer the companies who are willing to play offense to engage and retain their employees, rather than play defense to troll them, fearful that they may jump ship. Which LinkedIn policy appeals to you?