Archives for finding a job

You Can’t Afford Not to Investigate Your Next Employer!

"Office" by Julia Manzerova.

“Office” by Julia Manzerova.

What if you approached your next employer in the same way you would check out the health report of your favorite restaurant? When we job hunt, we mostly fixate on the position we’re trying to land.  We consider salary, advancement opportunities, healthcare benefits, and other employee perks when looking at our next employer. However, we can often go much deeper in the research of our potential employer.  The company you want to work for may not be a good fit for you. Imagine the joy of landing that job, starting work, and the horror of discovering you hate your new company. You could have a problem with way the business is run, or the company culture in general. In other words, after getting your foot in the door, you’re already looking for an exit. Taking the time to dig into the publicly available records of your next employer is a great way to avoid this scenario. Sometimes, you make discoveries you didn’t want to know about. Other times, there are things you have to know about.

Extremely savvy consumers who want to know more about their favorite restaurants will often start with a health report. These reports are made available by state and local governments. Many counties have a convenient list of restaurants available with dated reports. The reports will often list if the restaurants are in compliance, out of compliance, and if the issue was resolved during the visit. (For an example of a local report, read Ardmore, PA’s Taste of Olives’ inspection.) Additionally, consumers who want to learn more about a particular restaurant can turn to review sites such as Zagat or Yelp for customer experiences.

When researching a future employer you can tackle your research in a similar manner. The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) is a good place to check out the health and safety compliance records of a company. You certainly don’t want to find yourself working for an employer in constant violation of the OSH Act. OHSA has an enforcement inspections database that is searchable by the name of establishments. You can search for employer violations, cases, and inspection dates across federal and state governments. Information is readily available, but it isn’t as easy to interpret as a restaurant health report. OSHA’s Integrated Management Information System is meant for in-house use, despite being publicly available. You can discover if an employer had any violations, if they were fined, and if there was an informal settlement. The number of violations may be concerning, or the complete lack of violations could put you at ease. Just like a restaurant report, an OSHA report is only a snapshot of a company during a specific time.

Job review sites such as Vault or the more popular Glassdoor are a great place to get an idea of a company’s culture, directly from employees. Glassdoor was founded in 2007 and currently has a database of over 6 million detailed company reviews. The reviews cover everything from interview reviews and questions, salary reports, benefits reviews, CEO approval ratings, and even employee recommendations on how the company can improve. Searching for a particular company is as easy as entering a name. Reviewers range from entry-level employees, all the way to up to senior management. The interview reviews provide some insight on the hiring process. Glassdoor is a great way to gather information about an employer. A company with lots of subpar reviews or a confusing interview process may be noteworthy.

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The major downside to Glassdoor is the inability to sort out review by location and career position. For example, you may want reviews from IT Project Managers for Comcast based in Philadelphia. A search of Comcast with those terms yields general reviews of the company from employees in a variety of positions, in numerous locations across the country. There’s no way to hone in on those specific search terms, forcing you to read reviews from similar positions. There are also a lot of anonymous reviews on Glassdoor that tell you very little about a job position. All and all, Glassdoor is still a good resource for researching companies.

Another great way to check out an employer is by word of mouth. Think about it. You would definitely ask your friends about a restaurant you were curious about. In the same way, your friends, social networks, and even networking events can help you determine if a company would be a good match. Don’t be afraid to ask contacts on LinkedIn about a company’s culture. Be sure to ask about company culture from employees at networking events. Facebook posts and tweets make it very easy to get the “word on the street.” Try it for one of your target companies. Often these social inquiries generate leads and introductions without you having to outright ask.

Doing extra research on the front end provides another bonus in your job hunt. If you discover the company is a good match, you will be able to fine tune your marketing efforts. You’ll know enough about the company to hit their hot buttons and land an interview directly with a hiring manager. That’s a huge advantage over your competition!

Researching an employer in the same way you might scope out your favorite restaurant isn’t easy. Searching for work place reports and employee reviews can be a daunting task.  A little work goes a long way in finding out if a company would be a good a fit for you. When taking your career to the next level you want to know as much as possible about your next employer. A combination of compliance information and employee-driven reviews will help to ensure you don’t regret getting the job. The mental stress, depression, and overall frustration resulting from a bad match with an employer can be detrimental to your wellbeing. On the flipside, fully researching a company and discovering they are a good match can help your chances of being hired. Much of what you find out can help you more effectively market yourself to meet their needs. In short, you can’t afford to not thoroughly research a company.

Gin Blossoms – Found Out About You

Music video by Gin Blossoms performing Found Out About You. (C) 2004 A&M Records

5 of the Craziest Ways People Found Jobs

Crazy Fools by Ian Wilson from Flickr

Crazy Fools by Ian Wilson from Flickr

 

Creativity and passion are important in distinguishing yourself while searching for your career or making a transition, but some job seekers take theirs to epic levels. While many insist on stating in their résumés and profiles that they are creative, innovative, think out of the box, etc., there are some job search heroes out there proving it. I scoured the internet for the craziest ways professionals sought their dream jobs. Here are five of my favorite stories.

1. Using an employer’s platform to showcase yourself.

 

Mike Freeman wanted a job as a Business Analyst at Shopify. Instead of sending the usual résumé that hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants use, he bucked the system and made himself a spectacle, a very creative and attractive spectacle. Freeman set up a store using Shopify’s own platform and used it to showcase himself. A bold and dazzling display on the storefront read “So I’ve noticed that Mike Freeman doesn’t work for you guys yet. Let’s fix that.” The clever job seeker went even further. Going beyond just listing his résumé, Freeman even gave employers the chance to book a meeting with him in-person. Fortunately, his boldness bred success and Freeman landed a marketing position at Shopify.

 

2. Launch a spectacular online campaign promoting yourself.

 

In 2011 Kimberly Ashdown was determined to work for Ashton Kutcher’s media company, Katalyst, as an intern. There was only one problem – she wasn’t currently a college student. The Creative Production Coordinator didn’t let a few minor details stop her. Ashdown launched several websites including iwannaworkatkatalyst.com, internuptopia.com and kimberlyashdown.wix.com in order to land her dream job as a Katalyst intern. Her efforts were rewarded, and she worked briefly for Kutcher before returning to her career as a Production Coordinator.

 

3. Infographics can be spectacular résumés.

 

Chris Spurlock was a senior journalist student at the University of Missouri in 2011. He showcased his ability to create infographics by creating a résumé with visual flair. The result was a spectacular infographic. Spurlock took his work a step further by posting his résumé to Huffington Post. It wasn’t long before the article went viral and garnered hundreds of tweets, thousands of likes on Facebook, and tens of thousands of views at Huffington Post. The popularity of the infographic résumé persuaded Traffic and Trends editor Craig Kanalley to hire Spurlock as the news organization’s Infographic Design Editor. Spurlock isn’t the first person to obtain his dream job by taking a visual route with his résumé. In 2010 a few other creative job seekers saw success by using infographic résumés, and I’m somewhat surprised the practice isn’t used more often. At Epic Careering we promote infographic one-page profiles as a very effective way to generate high-quality employment leads. Images are so much more memorable than text.

 

4. Stalk your potential employer using social media.

 

Max Crowley was a Systems Integration Consultant for Accenture when he wanted a change of pace in his professional life. Namely, he had his heart set on working for Uber, a relatively new startup company introduced in 2009. His previous role and company weren’t an obvious match for Uber, but he devised a strategy to overcome that challenge. When Crowley learned Uber would be launching in Chicago, he positioned himself to be hired. His endeavors included following Ryan Graves, Head of Operations, on Twitter, sending him e-mails, and showing up at recruiting events Graves attended. Crowley’s passionate determination paid off and he got the job as Uber’s Senior Community Manager. While this approach can produce favorable results, you must take care not to blur the line between pursuing a potential employer and being creepy. In my 2013 article, “Can this strange campaign advice land you work?,” I highlight the risks of digging too deeply into a decision-maker’s background.

 

5. Advertising yourself on Google’s AdWords.

 

Alec Brownstein was a Copywriter. His professional life at a large ad firm was not what he wanted. He wanted to work for genuinely innovative Creative Directors. Brownstein was also a fan of Googling the very Creative Directors for whom he dreamed of working. One day, the copywriter was hit by a stroke of genius. He noticed his favorite Creative Directors didn’t have sponsored links attached to their names. Using Google AdWords, Brownstein purchased the top advertising spots for the directors’ names and used the space to advertise himself. He figured the directors, like everyone else, Googled themselves and they would eventually see the sponsored ad. The effort literally cost him $6 and paid off a few months later when he was contacted by almost all of the Creative Directors he targeted. It wasn’t long before Brownstein was hired as a Senior Copywriter at Young & Rubicam (Y&R) New York.

 

When you look at how most people look for a job, it isn’t hard to stand out from the rest of the crowd. Focus on doing a few things well instead rather than reaching for a particular volume of activity. Volume does not equal desirable results; it’s not necessarily a numbers game! Work smart rather than hard. Creativity and passion can go a very long way in your career. We live in a world where all things are possible. Be bold. If these professionals can think outside of the box to land their dream jobs, so can you.