J Patrick + Associates Blog

Yes, You can Rescue an Interview After a Bad First Impression!

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Tue, Apr 04, 2017 @ 11:04 AM

Rescue your interview after a bad first impression.jpgFirst impressions matter. In fact, they're more powerful than facts. Research has shown that we form our most lasting impressions of someone within the first 5 seconds of meeting them, and that we rarely change these initial ideas even in the face of hard evidence.

5 seconds.

That’s hardly enough time to walk in the door of an interview and take your seat, let alone make a strong case why you’re the best candidate for the job. But, it is enough time to blow an interview. Stumbling over a bump in the carpet, offering up a weak handshake, poor eye contact, or misjudging your wardrobe can all cost you dearly.

Prevailing wisdom dictates that it takes at least 8 positive interactions to overcome a bad first impression. And while that may sound insurmountable, the good news is there are some things you can do to hit the reset button and reverse your losses.

TAKE A CUE FROM PERFORMERS

Think back to the last time you were watching a live performance and a dancer slipped, or an actor flubbed their lines. The dancer who seamlessly continues on with the choreography or the actor who allows the gaffe play in their favor often wind up as audience favorites. It’s the ones who pull a face, or get so flustered they can’t find their place that lose the audience’s favor - something no amount of raw talent can make up for.

Handling mistakes with grace goes a long way to mitigate their potential damage. Allow yourself a brief moment to recover, make a small joke or offer a polite apology appropriate. What is important is to dust yourself off and get back to the business at hand. You’re there for a reason - to get the job - now is the time to focus on that.  

REMAIN POSITIVE

Running yourself down or trying to overcompensate with ongoing apologies will only serve to highlight your flaws. Unless you’ve been summarily dismissed from the interview, you still have the opportunity to turn things around. It’s important that you turn your attention from yourself and your embarrassment and toward your interviewer.

Demonstrating that you are flexible and can bounce back from setbacks is attractive to potential employers- use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your resilience.

PIVOT

Now is the time to return the full force of your focus to the interview. Leave the mistakes behind and communicate in an open, expressive manner. Let the interviewer see who you are and your core competencies. Shine a light on what you bring to the company and try to help them see you in a new.

A word of caution: Don’t push. Overcompensating with only serve to further alienate yourself and could do even greater damage than the original slip-up.

FIND COMMON GROUND 

Even a bad first impression can be softened if you and the other person share something in common. It is more difficult to affirm the negative ideas we formed when confronted by similarities. If you and your interviewer share a point of view or interest, they are less likely to hold their initial reaction against you.

CLOSE STRONG

 Just as first impressions are important, the end of an interview can have lasting effects. Arriving prepared, having done your homework and presenting your interviewer with well considered solutions can help stem the tide that was flowing against you. There’s no reason to allow a poor beginning to set the tone for the entire interview- you’ve come to sell yourself, don’t sell yourself short.

LET IT BE

There are also those things that are outside of your control. All that you can do it make certain that you are professional, and have communicated the value you bring to any position clearly. Focus on the things that are in your control and let the blunders and mistakes be your teachers for future interviews. After all, if you chose to wear grey shoes to an interview and the hiring manager absolutely detests grey shoes, there’s nothing you can do about it.

Aside from wearing neutral black next time.

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J. Patrick & Associates, Inc is an Executive Recruiting firm that focuses on Executive Management, Sales, Marketing and Technical roles within Information Technology markets. We have over 20 years of experience recruiting in every aspect of AV/VTC/UC, Application, Storage, Information/Network Security, Mobile Technologies and Telecommunications.

Tags: Job Search, Networking, Job Interviews

5 Reasons Why You Should Never Turn Down An Interview

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Tue, Feb 28, 2017 @ 11:04 AM

5-reasons-why-you-should-never-turn-down-an-interview.jpg

Here you are happy as can be in your current position, when out of the blue you get a call from a recruiter (or a friend drops you a line) saying they've got an amazing opportunity for you.

You weren't thinking about leaving - you like your job, your boss is a peach and life is running like clockwork. So you might be tempted to turn down the opportunity to go on the interview, after all you're busy, why waste anyone's time?

Well, there are some great reasons to take the interview, and not all of them center around finding a new job.

1) The Best Laid Plans

As they say, the only thing you can count on is change. One day things are running smoothly at work, and the next day you come in to find your company is being acquired. Or maybe your boss gets promoted or leaves and and now your team is learning how to work with a new leader. The new boss may not think as highly of you as the old boss, they may have a style that clashes with yours or they may simply have someone else they want to put in your position. You certainly can't plan for this kind of upheaval.

On the other end of the spectrum, you never know when you might stumble into the job of your dreams. We've all heard the stories of people who reluctantly went on an interview only to find their dream position.

Taking the time to meet for a coffee or lunch time interview may just be the best thing you can do to maintain control of your destiny.

2) Loyalty Can Be A Slippery Slope

Long gone are the days when a career spanned 25 years, and ended with a retirement party and a gold watch. In fact, the new normals for millennials is to spend an average of 2.5 years at any one position.

And even if you do find yourself in a long term position, you might be selling yourself short. Chances are incremental raises and promotions will not carry the same kind of bump in $ a new job will (unless of course you are given a counteroffer). Then too is the reality that there's a limit to how far one can climb at the same firm. While your boss may think highly of you, if you are looking to move into a new area or take on responsibilities that greatly vary from your current position, you might just stand a better chance of being thought of in a new light somewhere new.

And finally, the truth is, when cuts need to be made some companies will look to cut the costliest employees first. If the choice comes down between someone who is working near the top of the pay grade and a newer hire, chances are you very well might be the first on the chopping block.

 3) There's No Such Thing As Wasted Time

Just as going on vacation is a great way to re-energize and open new pathways of thinking, so too is talking to other companys.

Gaining insight into how other companies operate and other teams engage can act as jet fuel for your current position. While you're certainly not taking these meetings to spy, you can use it as a window into industry trends.

Information is power, so even if you're not interested in pursuing the opportunity any further, the worst thing that will come of the interview is insights into market trends. It might also highligh just how good you have it at your present job.

4) Stay On Your Toes

You know you should be keeping your resume up to date and your LinkedIn profile current, but if you're not always looking for the next great opportunity, most of us simply won't do it until we need to. But if you wait until you've either left or lost your present position, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage. No one wants to have to do that under duress.

5) Build A Better You

There's nothing like getting out in the world to see yourself in a new light. Even if you get nothing else from an interview, it's an opportunity to test how you rate in the marketplace. Afford yourself the chance to test which of your skills are in demand and which you are lacking. You'll be able to see how the marketplace views you and get a better understanding of your strengths and where you need to learn. Any chance to brush up your interview chops is one you should jump at.

There are however a few words of caution you must keep in mind:

  • Don't make phone calls on company time
  • Do not use company equipment to make phone calls, send emails, faxes or do research
  • Remain focused on your job while you're at work
  • If you can avoid it, don't schedule an interview during work hours
  • Don't make any mentions on social media
  • Don't use current co-workers or colleagues as references

As long as you remember these few rules, we encourage you to take advantage of every interview that comes your way, you never know where it will lead you!

Looking for a new opportunity? Let's Get To Work!

 

Tags: Job Search, Job Interviews

Do you Have What It Takes To Be An AV Technician? ( Hint: You do! )

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad Sullivan on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

Do You HAve What It Takes To Be An AV Technician-1.pngAccording to a 2015 study conducted by InfoComm, the next three years will be a time of consistent growth for both AV sales and service sales worldwide. This in an industry that has seen consistent growth rate of 3.10% per year since 2004. Accordingly, demand for well-qualified AV techs is expected to continue to rise with an expected 15,000 new jobs by 2018.

With a median salary of $52,573, an AV technician with a few years of experience can expect to earn between $45,000-$62,00.

And the beauty of many of these jobs, unlike many in the IT sector, is you don't need a raft of previous experience, hefty certifications or specialized degrees to enter the field.

Here's what you need, and what you can expect from a career in this field:

What You Need To Get Your First Job

  • A bachelors degree will certainly be helpful, but is not always viewed as necessary
  • A good facility with technology- this could be as simple as a strong working knowledge of consumer goods (TV/DVD Players/Game Systems) as well as a degree of comfort with cable-ing and connection conventions.
  • A working knowledge of electrical safety. Again this can be as simple as understanding the fundamentals of rewiring, grounding and wiring outlets.
  • Experience in either music, theater or other live events can be helpful. Did you volunteer with a local community theater and help setting up audio equipment? Perhaps you played in a band or are your family's go-to-guy for all issues with TV and stereo set up.
  • Any kind of facility with AV equipment will serve you well, but the real key quality you need is the drive to keep learning.

Typical AV Technician Job Description

Regardless of the vertical you find yourself working in (Video, Audio) or the sector the company serves (consumer, commercial, industrial) most job descriptions will include the following requirements:

  • Install, set up and adjust audio-visual equipment on site
  • Test equipment for faults then repair
  • Train customers on operation and basic maintenance
  • Perform routine checks and maintenance of equipment
  • Troubleshoot problems out in the field

The Typical AV Technician (Or Not!)

While there might be the typical job description, that doesn't mean there is such a thing as a typical AV technician. AV techs hail from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Some come from the music industry, others from entertainment, while still others are attracted to the field as a way in to the larger IT world. Whatever direction you're approaching the field from you ought to have the following:

  • The desire to travel and to be exposed to a wide variety of environments. One week you might be working in a school and the next week you might be installing a video wall in a retail environment.
  • Flexibility and creativity to troubleshoot on site.
  • Good communication skills for both reporting to managers and supervisors as well as being able to field and manage customer concerns.
  • A passion to create cool stuff.

The beauty of beginning your career in AV/IT if you become an AV technician is that working in the field can prepare you for a variety of roles down the road (for more on the next steps after Tech, read here and here.). And with new integration opportunities blossoming all the time, AV/IT shows no sign of slowing any time in the future - neither will your career.

Are you looking to make the move into AV/IT?

Let's Talk! 

Tags: Job Search, AV/VTC/UC

How To Keep Your Resume Up-To-Date: Pain Free!

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

Update_Your_Resume.pngRemembering to update your resume is just one of those things everyone intends to do, but really, who ever gets around to it? That is until the day when you need it, and you need it fast. So, if you’re like most people, you dust off the old resume, throw your most recent experience in at the top and you get it out the door without a second thought.But while your efforts may have been expedient, they are far from expeditious. You are not showing yourself in the very best light. We know that most recruiters will only spend an average of 6 seconds (6 seconds!!!) looking at your resume. You could be the most qualified person on earth for a position, but if your resume is not up to snuff then you run the very real risk of being overlooked.

Let’s run through some simple, easy ideas to help you avoid the last minute rush, and keep your resume up to date so it’s ready when you need it.

Mark Your Calendar

Think about the things you do on an annual or bi-annual basis. Dental cleaning, spring cleaning, rotating the tires on your car. We have built in reminders for all these chores; the dentist office rarely lets you leave without booking your next appointment in advance, spring has a funny way of making us WANT to clean out the closets, and your mechanic (if they’re worth their salt) will practically insist on rotating the tires at every oil change.

Why not create a built-in reminder to update your resume? My suggestion would be to use something that happens every year, or even better yet, twice a year. Daylight saving time might be the perfect candiate, this way it can become something other than the bane of parents of young children and anyone who dreads losing an hour of sleep every March.

So on Sunday, November 6, set a reminder, check the batteries in the smoke alarm and sit down to clean up your resume.

Clear The Clutter

When you’re an entry-level professional, it’s common practice to pad your resume with references, club affiliations and college accolades. But once you enter the workforce, all that padding needs to be stripped away. For the first few years you should still maintain a focus on your education, relevant internships and other skills you developed along the way but be certain to keep your most recent experience at the top.

Once you’re further along your career path, your resume must focus on only the most recent 10-15 years of experience. Be certain to edit out any skills, affiliations, college awards and outdated certifications that are no longer relevant. You might be attached to that Certified Novell Engineer cert you worked so hard to earn, but all it will tell potential employers and recruiters is that you are way behind the times.

Build The Perfect Ice Cream Cone

So what exactly does ice cream have to do with your resume? Well, just as all the good stuff is at the top of an ice cream cone, that has to be the case with your resume as well. Devote the majority of real estate to your most recent experience detailing projects, presentations and quotas met or surpassed. It’s here at the top that recruiters and hiring managers want to hear about accomplishments, and read stats from your last quarter. Providing the meat of your abilities (pardon the mixed metaphors) at the top, where the eye is naturally going to go, allows the folks looking you over to get the best snapshot of your current skill level.

As you move further away from the present, descriptions and lists of responsibilities become briefer. However, this isn’t the place to generalize. Providing dynamic descriptions of your past positions paints a much richer and fuller picture of you than a rote listing of job titles.

Practice Monthly Maintenance

When you are updating your resume there’s nothing worse than trying to remember how a specific project went down, or where on earth you filed those stats. In order to avoid a rush job, or trying to weed wack your way through your memory, I’d suggest you maintain a log of ongoing and completed projects, sales or installations. Not only will the information be at your fingertips when you need it, but you are more likely to remember the details better if you’ve kept a chronicle of  it in writing.  

Just as you make it your business to stay current with certifications, training and the most recent trends in your sector because it makes you a better employee and candidate for when you are ready to move up to your next job, keeping your resume up to date is part of career maintenance.

Are you ready for the next step in your career? If so, contact one of our recruiters and...

Let's Talk!

Tags: Job Search, Resume Optimization

How To Make The Most Of An Employment Gap

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Mon, Nov 28, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

How to Make the Most of An Employment Gap.png
Returning to the workforce after a hiatus (either planned or involuntary) accounting for a gap in employment can be daunting. But whether you’ve been out of the job market for a few months or a number of years, there are a number of things you can do to ensure that prospective employers view your hiatus as time well spent, rather than damaging blank space on your resume.

Embrace the Gap

As much as you may want to try to make an employment gap disappear when getting back into the workforce, you must embrace it. You are much better off accounting for it, than trying to make believe it never happened. If for example, your hiatus was devoted to raising children, include it as such on your resume: 2011-2016 Time off to stay at home with my children/care for parents etc. Be clear and honest, and know that having taken time off doesn’t make you a less valuable employment prospect.

Highlight Volunteer Work

It may be tempting to minimize the impact volunteer work may have on your career, but if you step back, you you'll see that you gained valuable skills and experience by working with a non-for profit institution or school. By highlighting this experience you are showing prospective employers that you are willing to use your skills to be a positive force in your community, that you are passionate about certain causes, and you are engaged in building new skill sets.

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Don’t forget to avail yourself of those connections you made when volunteering when you’re looking for your next position. Even if they are not able to help connect you with prospective employers, they can write recommendations for your LinkedIn profile and provide you with endorsements.

Keep Learning

Employers will be less apt to balk at a gap if you’ve been busy working on your education. And understand this is not a bias that’s limited to University or degree work. Take the time during your hiatus to get current with certifications and trainings and learn new skills. Employers will see you’ve been dedicated to keeping your skill sharp, and are returning up to date with the latest trends in your sector.

Practice Your Story

When it comes to the interview, you need to be able to explain your hiatus in a way that allows you to be seen as an exciting prospect. Don't fall to the temptation to apologize for your hiatus. All that's called for is a concise explanationto help remove any doubts of your readiness and appeal to a potential employer. Know what you have to offer and be ready to voice it in just a few sentences. Understanding how to tell your story may take some time and practice, but it will deliver dividends when you are pitching yourself for a job.

Practice telling your story with both friends and people who don't know you so well - it will help strenghten your pitch and work out any hesitation or weakness.

While there may be a pervasive bias against people who have left the workforce for a hiatus, how you handle it can make all the difference in your job search.

If you’re ready for to end your hiatus, or are looking for a new job, contact one of our recruiters here at J.Patrick & Associates. We are an Executive Recruiting firm that focuses on Executive Management, Sales, Marketing and Technical roles within Information Technology markets. We have over 20 years of experience recruiting in every aspect of AV/VTC/UC, Application, Storage, Information/Network Security, Mobile Technologies and Telecommunications.

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Tags: Recruiter Tips, Job Search, Networking, Job Interviews

Weighing Your Options Between Two Competing Offers

Posted by Dylan Rivera on Fri, Nov 04, 2016 @ 01:00 PM

Weighing Your Options Between Two Competing Offers.pngCongratulations!

You’ve been looking for a new job, and now you’ve got not one, but two competing offers, with each presenting certain benefits that the other doesn't.  

First thing you should do is just take a moment and remind yourself that some people would riot to be in the position you are in.

Now, let’s break down some points to help you evaluate how to best handle the situation.  

Written In Ink

When presented with two offers, it’s natural to start comparing them immediately. However, it’s not wise to do so until you have a physical copy of both offers. You want to be able to weigh several vital factors, such as health benefits, vacation time, maternity leave, commute time against each other. All of these important data points should be measured as concretely as possible.

Also remember, without a written offer, your negotiating power is limited since you're basing all of your facts off a verbal agreement.

So get it in writing and don't forget to read the fine print!     

Be Honest

When you encounter this kind of situation, it’s common to ask yourself if you should tell one company about the other offer.  In some cases, one offer may require a decision before you've received the specifics from the other proposal. If you have the opportunity to review both offers without spilling the beans, than you should do so. It’s possible for a company to feel as if you're trying to shake them down or force them into a bidding war by revealing the other offer.

If you’re cornered and have no other option but to tell the company about the other offer, then do so carefully. An example would be:

“I am appreciative of your offer, and the thought of joining your company is very exciting, but I will be honest and tell you that there is another offer that is currently pending, and I’d like some time to weigh all my options.”

You will always run the possibility of them saying no or stripping the deal; however, hopefully they’ll respect you for being honest. And in the end you can thank them for making your decision a lot easier.

Break-It-Down

Once you have both written offers in hand, you should start with writing down what specifically you want from the new job.

This shouldn't be a quick process where you immediately run to the offer with the highest salary. You’ll be spending a good deal of your time in this new position, so make sure to consider all factors and not just the obvious ones. To make this process a little easier, consider making a S.W.O.T analysis or another form of a comparison grid.

Before considering the negatives, start mapping out all of the benefits from each proposal. Only after you’ve compared the potential benefits is it time to move on to reviewing the negatives. Factors, such as work environment, travel distance, and your overall happiness should be given the utmost consideration.

The simple act of physically writing them down allows you to grasp a better understanding of the benefits of both offers.

Take A Walk

Take a break. After all, it’s what you do when you need to blow off some steam or if you've hit a rough patch at work. It’s essential that you give some yourself some time to think and clear your mind. When you're stuck in one way of thinking, find some sort of distraction, whether it be watching a movie or reading a book. Just make sure you get out, let loose, and let the two offers be the last thing your mind for a little while.

Though this kind of situation can become stressful, you must ultimately choose what feels right for you. Consider everything that is important, make your decision, and never look back.

We all have that inner wisdom lying in the bottom of our stomach -- Listen to it.

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Tags: Job Search, Career Strategies, Career Path

8 Tips For Acing A Phone Interview

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

8 TIPS FOR ACING A PHONE INTERVIEW.pngWhen J. Patrick & Associates first opened 25 years ago, the vast majority of interviews we set up for our clients were face-to-face meetings, based on a resume and our recommendation. Phone interviews were rare and arranged primarily for remote candidates. Well, times have changed, and today more and more of our clients require a phone interview regardless of the candidates apparent qualifications.

Make no mistake about it, a strong resume is still of prime importance, but hiring managers have taken to the phone interview as the first point of contact. Certainly there are the obvious considerations of time and money saved, but phone interviews  lower the threshold for the hiring manager. Fifteen minutes on the phone with a candidate is a far more expeditious way to answer some basic questions about a candidate’s suitability and appeal than having to sit through a longer meeting.

And while you might think an interview is an interview is an interview, knowing that there are some key differences between an phone interview and one held face- to-face can mean the difference between failing to get to the next step and landing an offer.

The Phone interview is your first and best opportunity to make a good-impression. Follow these 8 pro-tips to ensure it’s not your last.

PREPARATION IS KEY

Just as you do your homework in advance of an in-person interview, you must do your due diligence for a phone call. Be careful of falling into the mindset that a phone interview is somehow less important or just a necessary hurdle you have to get past to get to the real thing.

1) Do Your Homework

Research the company and the interviewer. Understanding what their strengths are and what challenges they might be facing are key to presenting yourself as a necessary addition to their company.

2) Make Notes Ahead of time

One great advantage of a phone interview is that you can use a “cheat-sheet” to refer to. Always have the necessary and vital statistics on the company close at hand so that you are prepared when asked what you know about the company.

Also be certain to print your resume, cover letter and any other supporting material you want to present and keep them close at hand. You don’t want to have to go digging for anything while on the phone, nor hem and haw as you try to remember why you left a previous position. Don’t make  your interviewer feel that your attention is not 100% focused on the conversation.

Write out your questions ahead of time so that you can be sure to get the answers you need. Remember too that interviews are as much an opportunity for you to find out if the company is a good fit for you as it is for the hiring manager.

3) Clear Your Calendar

Assuming you have a scheduled interview be certain to allow yourself 10-15 minutes in advance of the call to prepare and clear your head of other business.

If you don’t have the advantage of a scheduled time and the call comes in when you are not prepared to focus on it, you can always allow the call to go to voice mail - it’s unlikely it would be held against you. The better option, however, would be to say something like, “I’m not at my desk at the moment, when would be a good time for me to call you back?”

4) Dress the Part

It might sound counter-intuitive, but doing a phone interview from home in your sweats does not give you the best advantage. While no one might be able to see you except your cat, dog or pet fish, how you dress has a direct influence on how you feel. 

While you want to be comfortable and not on edge, watch your posture and body language. Your interviewer may not be able to see you but they will be able to pick up on subtle hints when you’re not fully engaged or energized.

5) Clear the Distractions

Thirty minutes or more before your call check that your cell signal is strong and even and/or that your Skype connection is stable. You might also want to disable call waiting and other features that might break up the flow of your conversation.

Put the dog somewhere else, send the kids out of the house and close the windows. There’s nothing more frustrating that loud, extraneous noises on the other end of the phone. It’s best to find as quiet and contained an environment as possible for the phone call. If your home is not a viable option, see if you can’t borrow some office space from a friend or perhaps book time a short session in a co-working space.

6) Listen First/Talk Second

 Once the call comes in, answer with your name - it’s a small thing but can go a long way to showing the interviewer you are professional.

Be certain to listen attentively - even though they can’t see you, we’ve all experienced that sensation that the person on the other end of the phone is not quite with us. Let them know you are actively engaged in listening- a few well placed “I see’s,”’ go a long way to create a bond during a phone conversation.

Unlike a face-to-face interview where you have the benefit of body language and other non-verbal communication, it’s wise to wait a beat (a count of 2 or 3) before answering a question just in case your interviewer has not finished with their question. There’s nothing worse than interrupting or speaking on top of someone, especially in an interview.

The one advantage of not having physical cues during a phone interview is that it keeps the distractions down, you can make your pitch free from the very human instinct to constantly interpret visual clues.

7) Speak with Distinction: Speaking on the phone requires slightly different inflections and an alteration in tempo. Slow down and articulate.

If you have a very low voice, you may want to try speaking at a slightly higher pitch - it will help with relay a better sense of engagement and avoid miscommunication.

Pro-Tip Not all HR and hiring managers do well on the phone. Some might ramble or be distracted themselves. If this is the case, use the opportunity to show them that you’ve done your homework and can keep the conversation focused on what you can offer the company.

8) End On A Positive Note

Thank your interviewer for their time and the information they’ve provided. If you’re interested in the position make certain to let them know that. Saying something like, “I’m very interested by all that I’ve heard and am confident I could add value to your company,” is a clear, professional message of your intent.

Send a thank you note via email within the same business day to once again thank them for their time, reiterating your interest in the position and reaffirming the value you bring to the position.

As in any interview once it is over the next thing you have to do is let it go. As long as you were prepared, thorough, professional and personable, then you’ve done everything you can within your control. The rest is out of your hands, so change out of those work clothes, put your sweats on and let the dog back into the house.

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Tags: Job Search, Job Interviews

The Pros & Cons of Contract Work

Posted by Glenda Gregorio on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

PROS__CONS.pngThe word on the street in Silicon Valley is that we are currently in a “gig economy.” What that means is that more and more people are opting to work as independent contractors, as opposed to traditional full-time employment. According to new research, conducted by labor economists Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger, between 2005 and 2015 the number of Americans seeking alternative work arrangements swelled by 9.4 million. The swing towardcontract employment can be explained by several factors, such as the need for flexible work hours, to the desire for increased autonomy.

But, if you find yourself thinking about joining the growing ranks of contract workers, you need to first understand the pro and cons of this kind of work.

PRO: Potential for Higher Earnings

Companies look to hire contract staffing because it provides the flexibility they need, it saves time, money and resources. However, they are looking to hire experts, not neophytes. They do not want to invest in training or other onboarding expenses. A contractor who knows what to do and how to get it done in a timely manner, is worth top dollar. They come in, do the job and don't put any further drain on company resources.

CON: Increased Uncertainty

The potential for higher earnings is a great benefit of work-for-hire, but there’s no guarantee you will keep working once a contract expires. And since the nature of the work you’ve been hired to do is finite, you have no guarantee that you’ll make the money you thought you would. Another other thing to consider is that the project you were hired to work on can be unexpectedly cancelled. All of these factors can add up to increased financial instability --if you’re not working, you’re not getting paid.

And finally, there’s no way of knowing the amount of time you’ll spend between contracts.  

PRO: Lifestyle Flexibility

According to Randstad’s Workforce360 Study, about 86% of independent contractors reported their level of job satisfaction to be good/excellent. With this kind of work arrangement comes more freedom, you’re able to control your career path without having to wade through office politics for a promotion, pay raise, or time off. You negotiate to get the employment packages that suit you best, and you take as much or as little time off in between contracts. If this type of flexibility is appealing to you, then contracting out may be the best of all worlds.  

CON: Outside Looking In

All that flexibility may be nice, but the price you pay is that you’ll always be the outsider.  Contract work makes it difficult to create connections that might help advance your career further down the road. There’s also the fluid and evr- changing nature of social engagement at work. As we all know, you spend more time at work than at home, so your social life tends to stem from your work life. Relationships are fleeting and lasting bonds are rearely formed. 

PRO: Increased Technical & Professional Knowledge

You’re an expert in your field, and have a certain skill set that companies in your industry want. But, contract work also provides the opportunity to sharpen your expertise and work in different sectors. It allows you to broaden your experience in your field and perhaps gain new skills in other industries. You’re at liberty to choose the skills that you would like to further develop in other industries, allowing you to enhance your CV and marketability for future jobs. It can also be part of your story when explaining an employment gap to a potential employer.

CON: Career Development

The freedom provided by contract work to broaden your technical and professional skills means that you are in charge of your own development. Great, right? Maybe not. Although it feels empowering to be in charge of your own career development, it is a heavy burden to bear. You no longer have the human resources department or a talent management team to ensure that you’re properly trained and qualified for the job. It is now up to you to make sure that your skill set is up to par with the current trends of the industry.

Like everything in life, contract employment has its benefits and drawbacks. Although it might not be a career long plan, if you’re returning back to the work force or need a flexible work arrangement, contract work very well might be a great option.

 

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Tags: Job Search, Job Interviews, Career Strategies

Update Your Resume So It's Ready When You Need It

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Mon, Oct 03, 2016 @ 11:30 AM

Update_Your_Resume.pngRemembering to update your resume is just one of those things everyone intends to do, but really, who ever gets around to it? That is until the day when you need it, and you need it fast. So, if you’re like most people, you dust off the old resume, throw your most recent experience in at the top and you get it out the door without a second thought.But while your efforts may have been expedient, they are far from expeditious. You are not showing yourself in the very best light. We know that most recruiters will spend an average of 6 seconds (6 seconds!!!) looking at your resume. You could be the most qualified person on earth for a position, but if your resume is not up to snuff then you run the very real risk of being overlooked.

Let’s run through some simple, easy ideas to help you avoid the last minute rush, and keep your resume up to date so it’s ready when you need it.

Mark Your Calendar

Think about the things you do on an annual or bi-annual basis. Dental cleaning, spring cleaning, rotating the tires on your car. We have built in reminders for all these chores; the dentist office rarely lets you leave without booking your next appointment in advance, spring has a funny way of making us WANT to clean out the closets, and your mechanic (if they’re worth their salt) will practically insist on rotating the tires at every oil change.

Why not create a built-in reminder to update your resume? My suggestion would be to use something that happens every year, or even better yet, twice a year. Daylight saving time might be the perfect candiate, this way it can become something other than the bane of parents of young children and anyone who dreads losing an hour of sleep every March.

So on Sunday, November 6, set a reminder, check the batteries in the smoke alarm and sit down to clean up your resume.

Clear The Clutter

When you’re an entry-level professional, it’s common practice to pad your resume with references, club affiliations and college accolades. But once you enter the workforce, all that padding needs to be stripped away. For the first few years you should still maintain a focus on your education, relevant internships and other skills you developed along the way but be certain to keep your most recent experience at the top.

Once you’re further along your career path, your resume must focus on only the most recent 10-15 years of experience. Be certain to edit out any skills, affiliations, college awards and outdated certifications that are no longer relevant. You might be attached to that Certified Novell Engineer cert you worked so hard to earn, but all it will tell potential employers and recruiters is that you are way behind the times.

Build The Perfect Ice Cream Cone

So what exactly does ice cream have to do with your resume? Well, just as all the good stuff is at the top of an ice cream cone, that has to be the case with your resume as well. Devote the majority of real estate to your most recent experience detailing projects, presentations and quotas met or surpassed. It’s here at the top that recruiters and hiring managers want to hear about accomplishments, and read stats from your last quarter. Providing the meat of your abilities (pardon the mixed metaphors) at the top, where the eye is naturally going to go, allows the folks looking you over to get the best snapshot of your current skill level.

As you move further away from the present, descriptions and lists of responsibilities become briefer. However, this isn’t the place to generalize. Providing dynamic descriptions of your past positions paints a much richer and fuller picture of you than a rote listing of job titles.

Practice Monthly Maintenance

When you are updating your resume there’s nothing worse than trying to remember how a specific project went down, or where on earth you filed those stats. In order to avoid a rush job, or trying to weed wack your way through your memory, I’d suggest you maintain a log of ongoing and completed projects, sales or installations. Not only will the information be at your fingertips when you need it, but you are more likely to remember the details better if you’ve kept a chronicle of  it in writing.  

Just as you make it your business to stay current with certifications, training and the most recent trends in your sector because it makes you a better employee and candidate for when you are ready to move up to your next job, keeping your resume up to date is part of career maintenance.

November will be here before you know it. Time to get ready for daylight saving time, now known as resume brush up day!


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Tags: Job Search, Resume Optimization

How To Know If A Company Is The Right Fit For You

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Mon, Sep 26, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

How_To_Know_If_A_Company_Is_the_Right_Place_For_You_3.pngThe savvy candidate knows that the interview is an opportunity to not only be vetted by a hiring manager, but also to vet the company. Think of the interview as a fact finding mission not only about the position, but also about the company culture. The job you're interviewing for may be everything you want, but is the company? 

Here are some important clues to look for when interviewing, and can help you decide if a company is the right fit for you. 

Lobby Life

Arriving early for an interview is always good advice - it prevents rushing into a meeting flushed or frazzled - but it also allows you some time to watch the company at work. Consider the lobby as a window into a company’s soul - take this moment to look around and listen.

Are employees friendly toward strangers and each other, or are they rushing about with sour expressions? Is the receptionist rude and dismissive or does he greet you with a smile? You’re not looking for a Stepford Wives experience here, but you will get an idea of what daily life is like just by sitting in the lobby and watching the flow of people in and out.

Your Network Knows

Just as you might research a potential employer on Crunchbase to better understand their growth, funding and growth trajectory, you need to mine your social connections to find out what it’s really like on the ground. Contact 1st or 2nd degree LinkedIn connections who have worked for, or do work at the company. Write them a polite note explaining that you have an interview set up and would love to ask them a few questions.

Keep your inquiry specific to their experience. You’re looking to hear what kind of person thrives there, what the feel in the office is like, how do they percieve the work culture, and do they find it a good place to work.

A word of caution: this is not an expedition to weed out office dirt -  what you’re looking for is a peek into the culture.

Seperate The Wheat From The Chaff

Company policy is one thing, how it’s actually implemented a whole other. It’s all fine and well for an employer to state that they support employees working from home, or that they always try to promote from within. But whether or not they actually operate in accordance to these policies is what you need to be looking for. Ask for specific examples of people who have moved up the ranks, as well as attrition rates.

Who leaves and after how long can tell you a whole lot about the tenor of the company.

Be watchful also for aspirational policies - perhaps they are programs a young start-up might hope to one day implement but are not in the position to follow through on at this time. If this is the case you’ll have to weigh the company they are against the company they hope to be, and decide if it’s worthwhile .

What It's Like Interviewing For A Company Is What It's Going To Be Like To Work For Them

The interview process can take a very long time from start to finish, in fact according to a recent article in Fast Company, a software engineer may have to endure 35 days or more during the interview process. So judging a company by how long they take to make a hiring decision may not be the best metric.

What you do need to look at is how they operate during the interview. A company's vetting and hiring processes are highly valuable data sets to consider. Everyone knows first impressions matter, but when considering a new employer, it’s the 2nd, 3rd and 4th impressions that reveal how the company operates on a day to day basis.

Keep your eyes open throughout the hiring process to make certain that the company is a good fit for you. For more on company culture, read here.

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Tags: Job Search, Job Interviews