By Lisa Rangel, Chameleon Resumes
Few years ago, a good friend of mine gave me this piece of advice after she had been released from a position unexpectedly. I find senior managers can be released from a position if they do not share in the management philosophy leadership promotes or believe in the plans the company is implementing to grow. Being fired is not only related to poor performance, which is something I have learned from working with candidates over the years. It can take one by surprise.
So back to the advice. She told me, “The best thing you can do, Lisa, is pretend you were fired today. You would start to make a list of all the activities you would do to land your next job. Take that list while you are working and do one item a week to ensure you bases are always covered.”
She formulated this golden nugget of advice in hindsight. She thought she was secure with her firm since she was growing revenue. So she never went to lunch with people in her network. She did not have a resume ready or even loosely constructed. She did not make calls to former colleagues or school mates in business to stay abreast of their progress. I mean she was too busy working hard in her job.
She did not see that the direction of management was changing and, essentially, she did not share in this philosophy of this new direction. And one day, she was let go. She was blind-sided. She shared this piece of advice with me to ensure that it did not happen to me. And I have shared it with countless people over the years to pay it forward.
So let’s pretend you’re let go today. What would you do? Here are some things I would do to get myself back in the saddle again (this list is by no means exhaustive or in any particular order):
(1) Pull out the resume and ensure it is updated and reflective of my achievements (not just a list of tasks. Be sure I have a cover letter that can support my resume
(2) Make sure everyone I worked with at any level is connected to me on LinkedIn
(3) Get recommendations on LinkedIn where it makes sense.
(4) Put my vendors, clients, prospects and other external corporate connections into LinkedIn to connect with me.
(5) Devise a target list of companies where I would like to work based on industry, geography, discipline, or benefits needed
(6) Shore up on certifications and necessary professional development requirements in my field
(7) Look up when conferences related to my profession are taking place and make plans to attend
(8) Join profession/industry related association to network with like minded individuals
(9) Brush up on interviewing skills through a course and/or with friends that I trust to help me
(10)Make coffee / lunch appointments with friends, former colleagues and other professional connections to stay current on what is going on in their lives, at their companies and in a global sense.
(11) Help someone with their professional goals: maybe introduce two people that can help each other; get your former colleague into a company he has been looking to gain as a client; mentor a student that is looking to obtain their first job
(12) Get a massage—in other words, do something to take care of yourself physically and mentally
Now take the list---and start doing it now while you are working. Don’t get overwhelmed. Just put in your schedule one item per week to start. Call a former colleague and meet them for breakfast. Arrange to meet someone from another department you have not seen in months for your 3pm Starbucks run. Contact a local college for an interviewing tactic class. Is there a college grad in your extended family or neighborhood that needs help finding a job? Call them and ask what you can do to help. Helping people makes you feel good, allows the person you are helping get what they need and they will remember you when/if you need help in the future. We must give to get.
But Lisa, I am already not working…what do I do? Let’s audit the list. How many of the items above are you doing? When was the last time you invested in yourself – professional conference attendance, skill certification or personal care (you feel tired and spent, yes?—so take care of yourself to have all your energies to focus on the search). Have you created a target list? Are you marketing yourself using LinkedIn connections you know and those you do not know? Or are you just responding to job postings…you need to network and market yourself to land your next job. Passive searching will not work in this economy.
Bottom line is this. You do not need to practice this concept perfectly. And you certainly do not want to be so on top of networking for your next job (unless you are not working) that you lose your current job. But the key is to build your network in a genuine manner by helping and giving at a time when you do not need it, so if this happens to you, it will already be in place – or at least started – to help you when you do need it.
Lisa Rangel is the owner of Chameleon ResumesTM (www.chameleonresumes.com) and a Certified Professional Resume Writer, Certified Employment Interview Consultant and Certified Job Search Strategist. Lisa has 13 years experience as an Executive Recruiter, and is the author of Do-It-Yourself Branded Resume Kit and Interview Confidently, Get Hired & Don’t Sell Out! – How to Land Your Next Job on Your Terms
Another example of what makes recruiters crazy.
Recently a veteran sales candidate, an individual who clearly had a long record of success selling complex Information Security solutions to global enterprises, was cruising in an interview, connecting with the hiring manager, making his case and generally "firing on all cylinders", when the interviewer asked him if he knew anything about their main product set, their competitors and what an ideal customers would look like. The candidate did not know anything about these products, and had no direct experience selling them. That was not a major requirement of the position, but here was a time to demonstrate all the characteristics of a high-performance, low-maintenance employee, and more importantly, professional sales person.
When I started in recruiting, the expectations of what candidates would know in preparation for interviews was laughably low compared to the present day. Quite often the first 10 to 15 minutes of the interview consisted of the interviewer (HR or the direct hiring manager) describing in detail what the firm or business unit was involved in, market conditions, a rough org chart and then the actual job function and requirements. Then the screening/recruiting part of the interview would commence.
Candidates had better bring their "A game" now when it comes to preparation, because employers expectations are much higher now, the competition is hotter for the most worthwhile positions, and there is no question of acccess to information.
In fact, candidates, particular in the types of revenue-producing roles our search practice focusses on - Sales, Sales Engineering, Channel Sales - should see this phase of the job search as an opportunity to show potential employers the kind of attention to detail, drive, and intitiative-taking that hiring managers gobble up. With proper preparation, sales candidates can give the hiring manager a clear idea of the approach they would take to encounters with prospects and customers.
We generally give the candidates that we are scheduling phone screens, videocall and in-person interviews a short list of items for them to assimilate beforehand.
Job Description - - This may include our posted ("sanitized") version, as well as the original JD supplied by the hiring firm.
Compensation - - Salary range, and On Target Earnings (OTE) Sales plan (quota, average deal size, commission payment schedule, acceleratos, SPIFs, etc. Depending on what the firm wants us to disclose, this can also include a benefits summary sheet, stock options, PTO, and any other "moving parts" germane to the compensation discussion.
Hiring Manager Profile - - We'll pass on our impression of the HM based on our experience with him (this can be zero experience or 20+ years, and we disclose that.) We will also forward a link to the HM's public LinkedIN profile.
Link to Company website - - Most of our clients are technology vendors or resellers, so it is vital to know the firm's product or service offerings, who their partner are, their customer base and who they compete with.
Candidates can't prepare for every contingency but there is baseline level of knowledge that is assumed when you show up to the interview. Asking informed questions based on strong preparation is a great way to demonstrate how you would perform as an employee.
I'd love to hear about your preparation for interviews.
Once upon a time, we didn't have smart phones or cel phones. Phone calls were precious. If you were waiting for that special call, you probably ran home and scoured your answering machine a few times a day. Avoiding calls was almost as easy, just pick up and walk out the door. Who's going to track you down. Well times have changed, and with the evolution of smart phones people's interpretation of phone etiquette has gone by the wayside.
Here at J. Patrick + Associates, executive placement officers like Daniel Sullivan are on the phone all day long. It is our intention and privilege to help clients find the ideal candidates. What is going to make you stand out? May I suggest some good old fashioned communications etiquette. Let's break it down, the best way to stay in touch with your executive recruiter:
First thing's first, go to our web site and look over our current job listings. There is no point in wasting anyone's time if we don't have the right job for you. That being said, we do have over 150+ job listings, so if you're a high end marketing guy or gal in the high tech space, you're in the right place. Identify jobs that suit you and your resume. A little reach is always acceptable but before you determine you can promote yourself, be really honest and apply for the jobs your'e best qualified for. Once you find the right job, click the apply button to submit your resume online.
Now you'll actually have something to talk about with your recruiter.
We get so many resumes a day, don't panic if we don't call you, we probably don't have the right fit. Of course, you want to stand out. I suggest you follow up your resume with a follow-up email a day or two after you sent it. This email should be succinct and you can request confirmation that it was received. It is acceptable at this point to address why you feel you're the right candidate for the job. Keep it short and brief. We're busy over here, and if it's too long, we might not read it at all.
If you don't hear back, then it's not a fit, so let it go. We know what our clients' needs are, so don't take it personally. There are plenty of other jobs to apply for. Keep looking for jobs on our current listings page and see if something that is a better fit rolls through the feed. Of course, if you do hear back, don't hesitate to respond, you are going to help your recruiter close the deal by being accessible. The worst thing you can do is be unavailable at any point during the process. I recently had a candidate tell me he's too busy to come in for an interview and decided he was only available by phone. Guess where his application is?
Let's say things are clicking, you get a response that the client is interested. Here's what comes next. Let us contact you. Once we've reached you, we can give you our undivided attention and answer questions you may have. Return calls as they are made to you. We know you want the job, no need to push us. Believe it or not, we want to place you! So, if you dont' hear from us, we don't have additional news about the job you are applying for. When we have news, we'll call you right away, always.
So the client wants you for an interview. Awesome. Be amenable and let us do our job and set it all up. If you don't hear from us, we're still waiting on her girl to call our girl to make the appointment. Relax, that was a joke, we're hands on and would never send someone else in to make all the placement contact. Now this is important... so important.. after the interview, call us right away!!! Every detail you can share with us can prepare us to get in touch with the client quickly and close the deal on your behalf. This feedback is crucial.
And from there, we do the negotiating and calling and placement work. We want to place you, we want your experience and our client to have a home run by hiring you. If you are nice, patient and use just the right amount of peppered reminding, we'll get along great.
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By guest blogger Colleen Moran
These days it can be difficult to get a call back from a job and even harder to be asked in for an interview. Once you get your foot in the door, being fully prepared for your interview day is essential. This is your opportunity to share with the company all your great attributes and what you uniquely can bring to the job. If you are well prepared for the interview, you will stand out from other candidates and have the best chance to land the job. Even the most qualified candidate on paper who fails to properly prepare for an interview can be left questioning “What did I do wrong?” Don’t be left questioning - Here are some great tips to ensure you are ready for your interview!
- Getting to the Interview.
- Never arrive late to an interview. You only have one opportunity to make a first impression and lateness instantly taints the prospective employer’s opinion of you. Lateness is unprofessional and tells the interviewer that you do not respect his/her time. If you are interviewing in an unfamiliar place, drive to the interview location a few days before the interview. You will feel more confident in the time you need to get there, directions, and where to park, giving you less things to worry about on the day of the interview.
- Arrive early.
- Plan on arriving 10-15 minutes before the interview is scheduled to begin, giving you time to check in, fill out paperwork and use the facilities. If you arrive too early, you will have to figure out what to do with yourself while you wait; a choice that is observed and could reflect negatively on you. Also, interviews can be schedule specifically so that the candidates do not run into each other, so you want to ensure you are not crowding the waiting space or creating an awkward situation.
- Know what to bring.
- Bring a professional looking briefcase or bag filled with a few “just-in-case” items such as breath mints, a comb, and tissues. Always arrive to your interview with a few copies of your up to date resume printed on heavy paper. You may even want to store these in a portfolio. Pack a clean pad of paper and two pens with you so you are ready to take notes if needed. Having what you need demonstrates organization and readiness for the job.
- Present yourself professionally.
- Show respect to everyone you come into contact with! The interviewer is not the only one watching and may not have total control over hiring candidates. Greet people with a friendly smile and firm handshake. Be polite to the receptionists as they frequently report back to their bosses on candidates’ behaviors. Professionalism is a trait you want to convey when you go for an interview. Be sure to dress in a professional, modest manner, covering up any piercings or tattoos. The interview is a formal affair, dress the part! Men: wear a suit and tie or a shirt and tie with slacks. Woman: Wear a business suit, skirt, or blouse. Keep your shoes professional and remember to use the iron! Dressing professionally is also a great way to boost your confidence and poise. No matter how hip or casual the company seems, this is your only opportunity to make a first impression and they will be expecting you to be dressed for success.
- Before going into an interview, you should know about the company you may work for. Search for your company at Hoovers.com, a database of comprehensive information on companies, industries, and executives. Visit the company’s website, Google the company and read their blog or twitter page so you can see their most up to date happenings. Talk to your recruiter. They are a great resource to get information about the company culture and details about different aspects of the company. Daniel Sullivan, a recruiter, says, "Unprepared candidates do not have a legitimate shot at the position. Preparation for an interview is your first work assignment for that employer. Demonstrating a command of the firm's market, product or service offerings and competitive position shows the hiring manager that you have initiative, thoroughness and attention to detail. These are characteristics all employers desire, regardless of position." Taking time to do your research allows you to tailor your answers to fit the company and highlight positive attributes you see there. But do not feel you have to showcase your research. Avoid criticizing or questioning the company as this research could work against you.
Colleen Moran is the latest addition to the J. Patrick + Associates Executive Search Firm Marketing Team.
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Feeling a little uncomfortable in interviews? Don't feel like you're getting the respect you deserve? Might be time for a little training in interview etiquette. Don't worry, it isn't hopeless, here are a few ideas to get you back on your toes and earn the attention of your interviewer positively. Tell employers to pick you, after fine tuning your interview skills. 1. Time to have dinner with fussy Auntie Judy.
Let her make comments on your table manners. These days, table etiquette seems to take a back seat. You want a stickler for rules to spot the bad manners that could trip you up in an interview. You might have developed some bad habbits, sitting with your feet tucked under the chair, elbows on the table or slumped over. Aunt Edna would never stand for this would she? Earn the respect of interviewer and improve your image by sitting up straight with your hands nicely folded in your lap. 2. Tape a formal practice conversation.
A lot of us have developed the habit of saying "like" too much. "I, like, can't believe, like, the job market is so, like, bad" or my personal pet peeve, "yah know what I'm saying?" Studies prove that interviewers were more likely to perceive a job candidate as less professional if the person said "like" too much, as compared to "uh." This is a habit that needs to be broken. Like, NOW. Ya know what I'm sayin'?3. Practice wearing your nice clothes.
Many of us work in more casual environments, where nice clothes are optional. If you've been out of work, then you probably haven't put on a nice pair of slacks in a while. I don't know about you, but after a long period of time, that pencil skirt and black pumps kind of make me feel uncomfortable if I haven't worn them in a while. Time to go out to a nice restaurant, the opera or anywhere else where people dress up. Guys should know how to handle a tie when they eat (no, you don't flip it over your shoulder), and girls should know how to sit properly and not flash half the town when they get out of a car. No one wants an interviewer distracted because you can't walk in those shoes and find that suit jacket too tight. Take your suit out and break it in before your next interview. It's nice being comfortable in your own second skin.
In conclusion, sit up straight, speak clearly and dress to impress. Remember you want your employer to be to meet a comfortable, confident, professional You so they pick YOU for the job.
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