J Patrick + Associates Blog

Traditional Recruiting Methods vs. A Recruiting Firm

Posted by Daniel Sullivan on Fri, Feb 21, 2020 @ 12:51 PM

Traditional Recruiting vs hiring a recruiting firm

Whenever a business has to hire that new employee, they have to decide whether they should search for candidates on their own, or elicit the help of an outside agency.  Traditional recruiting methods versus a recruiting firm is the typical conundrum, so why is using a firm the better option? 

Finding an employee has always consisted of the traditional methods.  Examples of these methods include online recruitment job boards, online ads, classifieds, and career resource sites.  Online recruitment has become a HUGE influencer in the job market, websites such as monster.com, jobs.com, careerbuilder.com, and other sites have dominated the online job scene.  Another traditional method is an employee referral program.  This entails finding job candidates from referrals that may come from other employees, family members, friends, or anyone that can get in touch with you and influence your decision.  So the question still remains, what benefit does a recruiter have over the traditional methods, and do I want to pay someone to find an employee for me?

When you decide to work with a recruiting firm to help fill your job posts you enter into a relationship with a recruiter who has a wealth of knowledge in a specific field that you are trying to hire for.  Placement after placement, these recruiters have learned the industry from front to back, side to side; they know their stuff to say the least.  When you choose a recruiting firm, cost effectiveness goes hand in hand.  When you mention cost effective around the “head honcho” of a business their eyes light up, and visions of improved margins can quickly become a reality.  Nothing triggers the “let’s do it” side of the brain like saving money.  Recruiters can save you money, in fact LOTS OF MONEY because they provide the right person to fit your employment needs.  In other words, you don’t go out and hire some person who you thought was great, who turns out to be unskilled or unstable, etc.  Imagine wasting an entire first years’ salary on the wrong person?…ouch.  Saving time is also a benefit of choosing a recruiting firm over the traditional methods.  Recruiters look through hundreds of resumes every month, this saves companies plenty of time in searching for that needle in a haystack.  Once these recruiters have searched through these resumes they present only the most qualified candidates to potential employers.

Going with the traditional methods could work, but if you want that perfect fit for your position and organization, it’s worth the time, effort and energy to work with a specialized recruiting firm Guaranteed it will save you time, money and unnecessary headaches.


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Tags: Recruiter Tips, Job Search, Job Interviews, Career Strategies

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

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Thu, Feb 20, 2020 @ 02:50 PM

Update your resume so it's ready when you need it

Remembering to update your resume is just one of those things everyone intends to do, but really, whoever 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.

How to Keep Your Resume Up-to-Date

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 candidate, 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 3, 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.

 


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Tags: Job Search, Resume Optimization

Tell Your Story To Get the Job

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Mon, Feb 10, 2020 @ 03:27 PM

The key to getting the job

When it comes to a job interview, what’s the one thing that differentiates you from all the other applicants with the same skill set, certifications and level of experience? The answer is simple: You, of course.

You know what you have to offer a prospective employer, and so do the people who know you. However, the hiring manager at your next interview only knows where you’ve been. In order to stand out from the crowd of other candidates, you need to be prepared to tell your story in a compelling and eloquent manner.

Knowing how to tell your story is what can turn an interview into an offer.

How to Tell Your Story to Get the Job

Connections Move People

Think back for a moment to the last five movies you saw, or books you read. Which stories stuck with you the most? Science fiction, true crime, romance, and fairy tales - no matter where your tastes lie, all good stories have one thing in common; the main characters feel like fully realized people with whom we come to care about them. We don’t even have to have anything in common with them, but their basic struggles feel familiar. Stories succeed when we can see something of ourselves on the screen or on the pages.

And while an interview is hopefully nothing like your favorite novel, it is your best and perhaps only opportunity to make a meaningful connection with a potential employer.

How Do You Use Storytelling In An Interview?

Prospective employers want to see how you think, how your experiences have made you smarter, sharper, and more efficient. Your resume only tells them where you’ve been, it’s up to you to fill in the heart of the story.  

Get Comfortable With Yourself

Come up with 5 words to describe yourself. Be honest and take your time with this exercise, do not just write down the first things that come to mind. Think back on the challenges you’ve faced and what attributes got you through.

Then ask two trusted friends or coworkers to come up with 5 words to describe you.

Do their words match yours? Or, are they wildly different? If so, drill-down and try to see what you might be missing, how your picture of yourself differs from the one others have of you.

Note: You may not necessarily use this in an interview, but knowing your strengths and how they’ve served you in the past is an important first step in defining your story.

Create A Narrative

Build a timeline of both your accomplishments and challenges, successes and failures. Then stand back and try to understand how one event led to the next. How did you wind up as a sales engineer when you started your career as a support guy? What happy accidents or perceived losses led to you where you are today?

You may be hesitant to share the pitfalls that befell you, but understanding how they all fit together frees you up to present your story in a cohesive and engaging manner. Remember, you want to make certain that you are seen as a resilient and thoughtful employee, one who is resourceful and always thinking.

Know Your Audience

Do your research on the company and your interviewer. Understanding who you are talking to, their management style, their values and interests helps you tailor your story. Read their LinkedIn profiles and/or blog posts, or turn to the recruiter or mutual contact to understand more about who you’re meeting with.  

Highlight An Achievement

Without making yourself sound like a superhero, relay how you were able to meet a situation head-on and work through to a successful conclusion. Draw on examples both large and small - how you handle daily problems can be as telling as major issues.

Listen To The Stories Others Are Telling

Listen to your interviewer and try to figure out where you fit into the story of the company, where your strengths can help, where past experiences can shed light on a particular problem they are facing. Being open and perceptive to the story of the company and then dovetailing the solutions you can provide makes you a candidate worth remembering.

Bonus Tip: Always Remain Perceptive

Do not iterate lists or stick too close to your idea of how the conversation should go. Be prepared to dial back or change your narrative to fit the reaction of the person sitting across from you.

When you take the time to understand how to present yourself so that others can see who you are, how you work and what value, you are far more likely to make a lasting impression. Leaving an interviewer with the sense that they got to know YOU is key to getting either to the next level of the interview process or better yet, landing an offer.

 


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Tags: Job Search

8 Tips For Acing A Phone Interview

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Fri, Feb 07, 2020 @ 02:06 PM

8 Tips for Acing a Phone Interview

When 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 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, knowing that there are some key differences between a 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.


8 Tips for Acing a Phone Interview

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 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 than 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 in 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

Numbers Talk: Why You Must Use Social Media in Your Job Search

Posted by Daniel Sullivan on Thu, Feb 06, 2020 @ 03:13 PM

Numbers Talk_

You have read so many articles like “14 Ways to Use Twitter to Land a Job” or “8 Ways to Get Recruiters to Find You on LinkedIn.” You may have read many of ours giving this type of premier advice…but here is the million-dollar question…

Are you doing it? Any of It? Even a little bit of it?

Only You know the answer to that…

I have to believe you do not need any more convincing as to why you must use social media in your job search…but in case you do here are some numbers to consider.

Social recruiting is on the rise.

The use of social media to find candidates in recent years has only increased as recruiters learn how to maneuver it. And guess what…it’s not going anywhere.

According to a recent Jobvite study, 73 percent of recruiters have already hired someone using social media. Furthermore, 93 percent of recruiters will look at a candidate’s social media profiles before making a decision.

In fact, recruiters are now taking social media profiles more seriously. According to the study, 55 percent of recruiters changed their minds about a candidate based on something they had on their social media profile. (This is why it’s imperative that you be careful about what you post on social media.)

If that’s not enough to convince you, consider this: 73% of recruiters plan to invest even more in social recruiting. It’s working for them, and as such, you should consider getting in on the game.

Social Networking Sites by the numbers.

LinkedIn is a recruiter’s top choice for finding candidates with 94% of them utilizing it. Facebook is in second place with 66 percent of them using it to find candidates.

Below you’ll find a breakdown of which social media platforms recruiters have already used to hire candidates:

  • 79% of recruiters have hired someone using LinkedIn
  • 26% of recruiters have hired someone using Facebook
  • 14% of recruiters hired someone using Twitter

This means that social media isn’t a fad. Social hiring is happening right now as we speak.

What recruiters do on Social Media Sites.

On Facebook, recruiters tend to focus on the employer brand (59%), post jobs (48%) and generate employee referrals (51%). While Twitter isn’t as widely used, recruiters are still using it for much of the same. In other words, if you’re not active on either of these networks you’re missing out on about half of the job opportunities available to you.

Of course, LinkedIn is the recruiter goldmine with 95 percent of them using it to search for and contact candidates. They also use it to keep tabs on potential candidates for future openings.

Social media as a means of getting referrals.

Another Jobvite study found that 55 percent of referrals get hired faster than candidates from company career sites. The rise of social media has made it easier than ever to create contacts and build relationships with referrals.

Numbers don’t lie. If you’re not on social media then you’re missing out on major job opportunities. You can download our free eBook to help set yourself up for social media success.

 


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Tags: Recruiter Tips, Social Media, Job Search, Career Strategies

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

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Tue, Feb 04, 2020 @ 03:48 PM

Update_Your_Resume.png

Remembering 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 candidate, 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 whack 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

7 Clues the Interview Didn’t Go as Planned

Posted by Daniel Sullivan on Fri, Jan 24, 2020 @ 04:43 PM
7 CluesThe most difficult part of the job search for many is the dreaded interview. Interviews are designed to test applicants to see if they will be a good fit for the company. After an interview, it is normal to spend time waiting for a phone call as you hope to land that next job. However, if you pay attention to a few details, you can probably already tell if you have shot at the job or not. Knowing when an interview didn’t go as planned is just as important as feeling good when you know it went great. This allows you to stop the waiting game and keep going with your search so you can land a job that will be a great fit for you much more quickly.
 

7 Clues the Interview Didn't Go As Planned

1. The interview is cut short.

Many companies will give you at least an estimate of how long to expect your interview to last. Based on how it goes during the interview, it could go longer or much shorter. If it seems to run much shorter than you expected, chances are they decided at the beginning that you are not a right fit for the position and chose to end it early to not waste both their time and yours.

2. The interviewer seems distracted.

If during the course of the interview the conversation doesn’t seem to go well or if the interviewer appears distracted or uninterested in what you have to say, this could mean that you haven’t made a good impression or at least they have quickly decided that you do not fit well with their company or position.

3. You only get asked the easy questions.

So many people dread interviews because of those tough questions that require you really to think and think quickly. If over the course of the interview you only get asked about your work history or easy questions about yourself, this could actually be a bad sign. If an interviewer is truly interested in you they will pitch the hard questions to try to learn even more about you and how you would handle some of the most difficult situations on the job.

4. They don’t try to sell you on the company or position.

If a company likes what you have to offer and is truly interested in adding you to their roster, they will spend time during the interview trying to sell the company to you. As much as you might want a job offer, they want to be sure you will say yes to the offer. If during your interview there is very little mentioned about all the great things going on in the business, chances are they aren’t considering you for a position so they feel no need to sell the company to you.

5. You aren’t asked when you are available to start.

If a company really wants to add you to their roster, they will want to know when you can start. When hiring a new employee there are many things that need to happen in order for the company to prepare for your arrival. If they don’t care when you can begin working for them there is a good chance they don’t intend on hiring you at all.

6. Salary isn’t brought up during the interview process.

If a company is truly interested in you and they believe you will be a good fit for their business, one of the first things they will want to find out is if they can afford you. If salary is not brought up or if the interviewer seems to have an issue with salary expectations, it could be a sign that ultimately it doesn’t matter to them because you are not being considered for the position.

7. The interview ends without talking about the next steps in the process.

Most companies require much more than just one single interview before you are hired. After that initial interview, most companies will want to schedule a follow-up interview or at the very least check your references. If after your first interview there is no mention of what the next steps are, there is a good chance you aren’t getting the job.

All of the signs we have discussed can help you determine how well you did in your interview. If all signs point to a bad interview, do not despair. Bad interviews do not mean you are a bad candidate, just a bad fit for that company. Remember, interviews are designed to help both the company and you determine if the job is a good fit for both parties. If it’s not and you believe the interview did not go well, brush yourself off and be thankful for the opportunity and keep searching until you find that perfect job.

Written by Lisa Rangel, Executive Resume Writer

 


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Tags: Job Search, Job Interviews

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

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Mon, Jan 06, 2020 @ 08:45 AM

How_To_Know_If_A_Company_Is_the_Right_Place_For_You_3.png

The 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 a right fit for you

 

How to know if the company is the right fit

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 do they 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 perceive 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.

 

Separate 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 with 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

Is A Cover Letter Important?

Posted by Daniel Sullivan on Fri, Dec 06, 2019 @ 03:00 PM


Is a Cover Letter Important

When talking about job applications, I always used to say that a cover letter was useless. 

It’s just more stuff to write.  I wasn’t a fan of the cover letter, to say the least.  While they were the norm until about ten years ago, thanks to online applications cover letters have become arguably outdated and certainly less-used.  

Today, the rule of thumb seems to be to not include a cover letter unless an employer specifically asks for one.  In fact, many employers disregard the cover letter when they see it. They just skim through the resume and throw the cover letter out like last week’s leftovers. 

Unfortunately, these employers miss the importance of the cover letter.  

 

The Importance of a Cover Letter

A cover letter actually gives the employer a great opportunity to really see who a candidate is prior to the interview.  

When well written, they can be a powerful communication tool.  Now, crafting this tool can take some serious word-smithing. So don’t just breeze through the writing process. Your cover letter should be a work of art and it can make you or break you in the eyes of a possible employer.  Consider this: your cover letter creates your first impression in the mind of the reader; definitely do not take it lightly.  

That said, a cover letter gives you a great opportunity to showcase your strengths in a longer format.  You can use a cover letter to really focus and elaborate on the specific qualities that make you the right fit for a position. They are the first step to getting that interview and eventually getting that job.

 

Cover Letters Can Help You Stand Out

These days, in the eyes of some, the cover letter is a dying document. Maybe it’s true that employers just don’t have the time to read through both the resume AND the cover letter.  And, yes, even recruiters don’t need a cover letter to place somebody, either. I can’t complain. Like I said before, I despise writing cover letters. But in reality, cover letters count. Without one, you miss the early chance to put yourself above the competition and really showcase what makes you unique.

 


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Tags: Recruiter Tips, Job Search, Job Interviews, Career Strategies

How To Get The Best LinkedIn Recommendations

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Fri, Dec 06, 2019 @ 08:45 AM

Get the best linkedIn Recommendations

We often think our first opportunity to make a good impression is during the pre-screen phone call, or when we walk into the office for an interview. But the truth is, employers, recruiters, even customers are checking us out online long before the point of the first contact. Your LinkedIn profile very well may be optimized and vibrant, but people are looking for social proof that what you say about yourself is true. 

Just like the restaurant in Duluth that claims to make the best pizza needs reviews on Yelp to validate and support their claims, you need recommendations to bolster and shine your reputation.

Methods for Acquiring the Best LinkedIn Recommendations

 Follow these steps to request LinkedIn recommendations:

  1. From your LinkedIn profile, hover over View Profile As
  2. Choose Get Recommendations
  3. Choose What Do You Want To Be Recommended For from the drop-down
  4. Choose Who Do You Want To Ask from your contacts.

You can choose up to 3 contacts at a time, but I'd caution you against it. Personalize your request and avoid the automated asks.

Choose Wisely

Endorsements on LinkedIn are the equivalent of a thumbs up on your profile. They’re a friendly way of saying, ‘yes this person does what they say they do.’ But they don’t carry much weight. So while you might collect endorsements from anyone who clicks an automated prompt, recommendations are a different animal and need to be well considered.

Ask people who know you well, who’ve been in the trenches with you and have seen you shine. Someone who has seen you step up in a crisis, sat on a committee you led or co-managed a project with you, is best equipped to speak to your strengths.

Bonus Points: Recommendations also show up on the profile of the recommender as searchable text, thereby further increasing your social currency.

Be Specific In Your Ask

Once you’ve identified who to ask, now you need to get specific. While you can use the LinkedIn tool to make contact, we’d recommend that you write a separate email. There’s a better chance of your request being seen via direct mail, than through LinkedIn, and you want to avoid generating several asks.

When composing your note, know that a generalized “will you write me a recommendation” will, at best, garner you a generalized note, leaving you with an enthusiastic, yet horribly generalized recommendation. While well-intentioned, these kinds of recommendations leave you sounding the Manchurian Candidate: “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.” A faceless, non-specific "great" guy.

Remind your recommender of a specific problem you solved for them, or the time you took the lead on a particularly difficult project. Giving them guidance on what skills or traits you are looking to be recommended for will help them craft a more meaningful letter.

Pro-Tip: Recommenders must be a 1st degree LinkedIn connection for their words to carry the weight you need them to.

Variety Is The Spice of LinkedIn

You want the recommendations to reflect the breadth of your career, so ask an equally wide variety of people in different capacities. Think about former managers, colleagues, customers, project teammates, and yes C-level executives. While C-level executives are valuable recommenders, though leaders can be just as powerful. Be certain to also consider contacts outside of work, perhaps people who have done service with you in the community or other volunteer work. You want to present the well-rounded person you are, so make sure to cover your work life from all angles.

Give Thanks

While your contacts may be more than happy to take the time to write about you, it is time out of their day. Once you’ve received the recommendation, and seen it go live, take the time to write to your contacts to thank them. An email is lovely, but a handwritten note is even better. And always offer to return the favor. Not everyone is comfortable asking for other people’s time, so make it easy for them to get a piece of yours. And always be certain to act in a timely manner -- don’t wait for 3 weeks to pass before extending your gratitude.

When you get the right kinds of recommendations from the right kinds of people, you're well on your way to providing that all-important social proof and enhancing your online brand.


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Tags: Job Search, Networking