Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Resume is Not Enough - by Holly Paul

This is such an excellent blog, that I thought I'd share it. The weblink is http://www.thetowerlight.com/2010/11/a-resume-is-not-enough/

A Resumé is Not Enough
18 November 2010 By Holly Paul, US Recruiting Leader, PwC LLP No Comments

Perhaps you’ve heard about LinkedIn, the professional social network, but you’re not sure exactly what it is. Or you’ve set up a LinkedIn profile, but you don’t really know what to do with it.

For students who are accustomed to Facebook, LinkedIn can feel like a foreign land — a bit uncomfortable and a bit intimidating. It’s true that LinkedIn is a different world from more socially-minded online networks; however, it is a world where students need to be. If you are a student or recent grad who is looking to build your career prospects, setting up a professional profile and becoming active on LinkedIn are absolute musts. Here are the key reasons why.

Important people are Googling you.

First and foremost, LinkedIn is about professional visibility. When a networking contact, grad school admissions officer or prospective employer types your name into a search engine, you want that person to find something more than your Facebook profile or an article from your college newspaper quoting your opinion about what band should play at spring fling.

By having a LinkedIn profile, you’ll guarantee that at least one search result is providing information about your professional accomplishments and goals. LinkedIn profiles rank very highly in search results (almost always on the first page), so having a LinkedIn profile is like a business having a listing in the Yellow Pages: it shows that you are proactively taking part in the professional community. Just as you build your professional visibility by showing up at a company information session, industry association conference or networking event, you need to “show up” online as well. LinkedIn is the place to do that.

A resume is no longer enough.

In today’s ultra-competitive job market, a good resume is not the only tool required to land a position. Online portfolios, blogs, Twitter feeds and other virtual tools are helping people present their credentials in new ways. Smart students know this and manage the online representations of their credentials as carefully as they craft their resumes and cover letters.

LinkedIn profiles can supplement the contents of your traditional one page resume in several ways, even if you don’t have much paid work experience. On your profile you can include volunteer positions, extracurricular experience, Web links to examples of your work and recommendations from people who can vouch for your skills and talents. To make sure that people find of all this supplemental information, be sure to include a link to your LinkedIn profile on your resumes, business cards and in your email signature.

Relationships are crucial to your career success.

We all know that success is not just about what you know, but whom you know. Another important reason for students to have professional online profiles is to use social networks to build and maintain professional relationships. A LinkedIn presence facilitates networking, and the earlier you begin to network, the more robust your professional relationships will be throughout your career.

“I don’t know anyone!” Many students will protest this advice, but this is another important reason to join LinkedIn. By uploading your online address book to LinkedIn, you will discover that you know more professionals than you might think. This includes family, friends, neighbors, former teachers, professionals, work and internship colleagues and many others. And all of these people can potentially lead to connections with hundreds of other people and opportunities. Remember that people are in a different mindset when they are in the professional environment of LinkedIn, so even people you see every day will interact with you in a different, more professionally focused way on the site.

LinkedIn also helps you maintain your relationships over time. It can be difficult to keep in touch with the various people you meet in your career; however, when you have a strong online network, you can have small, frequent interactions — like commenting on someone’s status update or answering a question in a group discussion — that keep your relationships strong.

Building a global profile

Finally, a professional online profile is an essential step toward a global presence and a global network. In nearly every professional field, international relationships are a valuable asset and can lead to exciting opportunities. Almost half of LinkedIn users are outside the United States, representing over 200 countries, so it’s the perfect place to keep in touch with friends you have met while studying abroad, international classmates and alumni and new connections from across the globe.

If you don’t have many global relationships, you can make a few on LinkedIn by joining an internationally focused group or participating in some discussions on international issues. Within LinkedIn, there are countless opportunities to forge new relationships and learn about different perspectives from around the world. Of course, none of that can happen unless you sign up and join the conversation!

In the end, building a professional presence and growing your professional network on LinkedIn are great ways to declare to the world that you are here, you are ready to contribute and you are eager to make your mark on the world — the online world and the real one.

Holly Paul is the US Recruiting Leader for PwC LLP (PwC). PwC employs 30,000 people in the United States and is one of the top recruiters of college students in the country.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Interview Questions NOT to Ask

This is too good not to re-post! Original link is http://bit.ly/avB6el

All-Time Deal-Killing Questions to Ask on Your Interview
10 Questions Guaranteed to Keep You Unemployed

By John Kador, Monster Contributing Writer

Whenever I meet people who routinely interview job candidates, I always ask them to tell me the worst question they were ever asked by an applicant. I’m constantly startled by what some applicants apparently believe is in their interests to ask. Here are 10 of the worst, most self-limiting questions that applicants have actually asked and the (usually unexpressed) comments of the recruiters who fielded them:

1. How many warnings do you get before you’re fired?

The better question is: How many warnings do you get before you’re hired? The answer is one. Thanks for providing it.

2. Is job sharing a possibility?

Possibly, but does this mean you can’t give us a commitment for full-time work?

3. Can you tell me whether you’ve considered the incredible benefits of telecommuting for this position?

Why do you want to get out of the office before you’ve even seen it?

4. Is relocation a necessary part of the job?

The very question raises doubts about your willingness to relocate. Even if the person selected for the position is not on a relocation track, the negativity of the question makes me wonder whether you’re resistant in other areas as well.

5. I understand that employee paychecks are electronically deposited. Can I get my paycheck the old-fashioned way?

You’re already asking for exceptions. What’s next? And are you afraid of technology?

6. I won’t have to work for someone with less education than I have, will I?

We’ll spare you that possibility. You clearly have a chip on your shoulder. Why should we take a chance that you don’t have other interpersonal issues?

7. Can I see the break room?

Sure, it’s on your way out.

8. What does this company consider a good absenteeism record?

It starts with guaranteeing your absence.

9. What is the zodiac sign of the company president?

Not sure, but his sign is opposite to yours. There will never be conjunction.

10. Is it easy to get away with stuff around here?

It would be a challenge even for someone with your credentials. Too bad we’ll never find out.

Yes, Virginia, There Really Are Dumb Questions

It’s hard to generalize about such stunningly bad interview questions, but they all are forms of “me” questions -- questions that appear to put your needs before those of the employer. The best interview questions focus on what the applicant can do for the company, not what the company can do for applicant. Remember, interviewers will be asking themselves, “Do I really want this person in the next cubicle?” Be certain that the questions you ask don’t raise barriers or cause interviewers to doubt your professionalism. Remember, your goal in the interview is to get an offer. Once you have the offer, that’s the time to ask what the company can do for you.

Rules for Asking Better Interview Questions

* Ask Open-Ended Questions: Closed-ended questions can be answered “yes” or “no” and begin with words such as “did,” “have,” “do,” “would” and “are.” Open-ended questions usually begin with “how,” “when” and “who” and create opportunities for a conversation and a much richer exchange of information.

* Avoid “Why” Questions: Queries starting with “why” often come off as confrontational and can make the interviewer defensive. Reframe using “how.”

* Avoid Long Questions: One point per question, please.

* Avoid Obvious Questions That Are Easy to Look Up: Otherwise you look lazy.

* Avoid Leading Questions: Leading questions signal the interviewer that you are looking for a specific answer or are being manipulative.

* Ask Questions the Interviewer Can Answer: Want to make interviewers defensive and uncomfortable? Ask them questions they don’t know the answer to or can’t answer because of confidentiality.

* Get to Yes: Your goal is to end the interview on an affirmation. In fact, the more “yeses” and statements of agreement you can generate, the better off you will be.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Does the Pirate Code apply to job hunting?

“... first, your return to shore was not part of our negotiations nor our agreement, so it must do nothing, and secondly you must be a pirate for the Pirate's Code to apply and you're not, and thirdly the code is more of what you call guidelines than actual rules, welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner ...” - Captain Barbosa

Funny, these are the same words that come to mind when I come across job descriptions. How many times as a recruiter have I been given a job description that really is “more of what you call guidelines than actual rules”. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it, but it is powerful knowledge if you are aware of it. Is it a hard and fast rule that job descriptions are just guidelines?...no, but it happens more often than not.

To understand how to use this to your advantage as a job-seeker, you need to understand how most job descriptions come to pass. More importantly, as my last blog discussed, you need to understand how/why a job opening is created in the first place. New job openings are typically created by a couple of reasons:

1. It is an existing position that needs to be re-filled due to attrition or promotion.
2. It is a new opening created by a business need/purpose.
3. It is an opening similar to something else the company is already doing, but created to supplement due to an increase in workload.

Once a position is identified and recognized as needing to be filled, a job description is created. The description is typically written by either a manager or by human resources. I’ve seen that in most cases, managers don’t have a ton of free time to be sitting around writing intricate job descriptions, and many human resources professionals really don’t have a deep understanding of the position and required skills. Not pointing fingers here….just the plain truth!
In order to be efficient, most managers and or human resource personnel will find a previously used description and use it. That is a good way to start, but often the position, project, duties, and personnel around the opening have changed since it was last open. Often the time is just not available to sit down in an exit interview and have the person who is leaving or being promoted put together a “job description” and list of their day-to-day tasks. This usually results in a job description that contains a “laundry list” of skills, duties, and requirements.

As a recruiter, I have the benefit of being able to talk to the hiring manager and ask the questions like:

• What does the typical day look like for this person/position?
• Which of the skills on the job description are “nice to have” and which are “absolute necessity”?
• What were the strengths of the last person in this position? Weaknesses?
• Do you want a new employee with the same skill-set as the former employee?
• If I can’t find a person that is a 100% fit, will 90% work? 80%? 70%?
• What type of personality is going to function best in this position?

As a job seeker, you should be thinking about the same types of questions. Take some time to see if you know of anyone in the company that might be able to help you understand the need better. Most importantly, approach the job description and your resume/cover letter with a few things in mind including:

• What skills on this description match my expertise? Write your resume/cover letter highlighting those skills.
• What requirements are not as good a fit? Write your resume/cover letter to show your exposure to these technologies/skills or technologies/skills similar to those required and how you’ve used them.
• Identify the skills you do not possess. Why don’t you have these skills? Is there a way you can obtain them?...ie books, training, mentoring, etc?
• Always remember, your resume MUST be customized to each position/description. It is a way for you to get an interview, not to talk about everything you’ve ever done! Talk about your other skills and what you can bring to the company in the interview…use your resume to show them that you are either an exact or at least a very close match!

Use these tips. They will definitely help you obtain more interviews and make more valuable connections during your job search. Don’t forget, getting the right job is work….hard work. Approach your search with the same tenacity that you will approach the job once you land it.

For more tips, stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Don't Be Afraid of Change

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like hard work.” - Thomas Edison

The key to being successful as a job seeker often times comes down to our ability to recognize change. Plain and simple…CHANGE…embrace it, anticipate it, and most importantly – benefit from it. Understanding change, requires a better understanding of the “hidden job market”.

What is the “Hidden Job Market”? Quite simply, the hidden job market is the market of jobs that are open, yet generally unadvertised. To understand this hidden job market, it’s easiest to understand the process of job creation…in other words…how jobs are created.

Job creation is the result of either a problem or an opportunity arising in an organization. In the most basic terms, the job creation process is set in motion because something has changed. Change can occur either inside or outside of the organization. Sometimes changes are positive (market growth, increased sales, new product line, etc.), sometimes they are negative (unsatisfactory performance, turnover, etc.). Either way, change is good for you as a potential job seeker.

The next step in job creation occurs when the organization recognizes the problem or opportunity. Sometimes this happens immediately, sometimes it is even anticipated…often times though, it takes weeks or even months to be recognized. As a job seeker, this can be a very good spot to take a proactive approach to the job search. Once the organization recognizes the problem or opportunity, it creates a job to solve the problem or capitalize on the opportunity.

Here is where the “fun” begins. Once a job is created, the obvious next step is for the employer to fill the vacancy. At this point, what does the employer do to fill the position?

The first place that most employers turn to fill a vacancy is within their professional network. The professional network for a business consists of:
1. Hiring Manager’s trusted friends and colleagues.
2. Internal employees’ trusted friends and colleagues.
3. Hiring Manager’s and employees’ professional network.

The next place that most employers will turn is asking for referrals from the professional network. At this point in the job creation process, the opening is not advertised…therefore “hidden”. As we discussed last month, some professionals estimate that 80% of the jobs are filled at this point.

Here is a list of questions that should guide the job seeker:
• What companies are going through changes?
• What is the change they are going through?
• What opportunity does this change create for me?
• Am I a part of this company’s professional network?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Is Your Job Search Like Bill Buckner?

Are you Bill Buckner?

Ok…I admit it. I am a huge baseball guy. You may even call me a baseball geek. It’s early February and I’m already wondering how close we are to having pitchers and catchers report to MLB training camp. (Seven days or so in case you are wondering).

This time of year, my mind always wanders in two distinct directions. First, what is my team going to do this year to shore up their pitching and power hitting deficiency? Second, I can’t help but go back to the best Fall Classic of my life – the 1986 World Series and famous/infamous (depending on your side of the ledger) “Buckner Ball”.

Let me just relive the moment for my own amusement. Late October, Game 6 of the World Series, Boston leads the best-of-seven series 3 games to 2, and has a two-run lead with two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning. New York has 3 straight singles to tie the game and then Mookie Wilson, of the Mets, steps up to the plate. After fouling off hundreds of pitches (or several anyway), Mookie hits a slow ground ball down the first base line towards Buckner (an All-Star first baseman). “Billy Buck” had quite literally fielded thousands of these ground balls through his career (though originally an outfielder). This was just another routine ground ball….field it, step on the bag, game over….Boston Red Sox break the “curse of the Bambino” and are World Champions.

Then it happened. The routine ground ball somehow goes right under the glove of Buckner and dribbles into right field – allowing Ray Knight to score the game winning run. Mets win!...then come back to win the Series in Game 7. Yes…I’m a huge Mets fan.

So what does any of this rambling have to do with Job Searching? Everything in fact. “What are you doing to find a job?” This is a question I ask people at least 5 to 10 times each day. The answers are surprising. Typically, the answer is, “Well, I check Monster.com and I’ve talked to a few recruiters.”

So how important is your job search? Is it really only important enough to check a few job boards and send an email to a recruiter or two? Well, most of the candidates I speak with are really just doing what they’ve done in the past. It’s not that they don’t care…it’s more that they are creatures of habit, and have done it this way…many times. So many times, in fact that the job search for many has just become a matter of routine. A routine that is so in-grained in many job seekers, that they just take their eyes off the ball and it trickles in to right field and costs them the game, the World Championship, and immortality (the good kind, not the “Buckner” kind).

Yes, times have changed and there is definitely more to finding the right career spot than checking a few job boards, talking to a few recruiters, or gasp……looking at the classified ads in the paper.

Do you know about the “Hidden Job Market”? Some professionals say that nearly 80% of openings are filled before they ever become public. If that is the case, then a true job search needs to be able to both identify and penetrate the “hidden job market”. If you are unable to access the hidden market, you risk competing for the 20% of advertised positions with all of the other job seekers.

If you are looking for a new opportunity, do you know:
• How jobs are created…and what sets the process in motion?
• What is the first step an employer generally takes to look for candidates?
• If the first step doesn’t work, what is the next step?
• Finally, when the job becomes public/posted, how do you get noticed?

More information to come. Stay tuned, and Go Mets! I hope we get some pitching this year.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Benefits of Contract Workers

Would your business benefit from contract/temporary help?

Patricia Schaefer wrote a great article for Business Know-How (www.businessknowhow.com) that I thought I’d summarize and add some thoughts to. You can find her article in it’s entirety at http://www.businessknowhow.com/manage/hire-temp.htm

Since the birth of the Temporary Staffing industry in the 1940’s, the industry has evolved from “seat-warmer” type of fill-in employees to the highly skilled (and highly courted) valuable contractors. The use of these highly skilled employees has become the norm across most industries, from health care to construction to information technology. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the temporary work industry has grown 5 times more than national employment.

In evaluating your business needs, keep in mind some of the benefits of utilizing contract employees including:

1. Flexibility your business needs to adjust quickly to workload fluctuations. Some of the reasons the companies hire temps include:
• Employee absences due to illness, vacation, disability or maternity leave, or sudden departure.
• Peak periods, special projects, product contracts, etc.

2. The ability to maintain staffing flexibility. Right now, the employment pool increasingly consists of a mix of temporary and full time employees. This creates a more efficient workplace and provides greater opportunities for both employees and employers.
• Contract work appeals to many types of workers including workers with: specialized skills, flexible hours, family commitments, education upgrades, industry expertise garnered from working with various clients.

3. Ability to evaluate talent. Many companies utilize temps in different ways to assist in the hiring process.
• Contractors are a great way to continue to produce at high levels while searching for a full time employee.
• Many companies also use agencies as a resource to hire the same worker for different projects at different times – which can lead to a hiring commitment.
• Companies can use contractors and evaluate them for full time openings with little commitment – if it’s not the right fit, the contractor can easily be replaced.
• A temporary or project assignment can also server as a “working interview”.

4. Savings of time and money. In the short term, it is generally more cost-efficient to hire contract employees versus full time employees. The responsibility that an agency covers (financial burden) with a contractor can include:
• Hours and money spent recruiting/sourcing candidates.
• Screening, interviewing, testing, hiring candidates.
• Payroll expenses, payroll and withholding taxes, paperwork.
• Training.
• Unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance.
• Employee benefits – medical, dental, vision insurance, retirement/401k, holiday pay, vacation time/pay, etc.

5. Contract employees provide specialized skills and industry experience. Contract employees today are highly skilled professionals that can tackle one-time projects with time and scope limits. They bring with them a wealth of experience in specific technologies and skills, along with different perspectives from other industry leaders.

6. Long-term relationships with a staffing agency. When you find a company that continually provides the contract employees that work successfully with your company, you can establish a long lasting relationship that positively affects both parties. A good (even exclusive) relationship with a good agency can help you more easily achieve your company goals.

How about concerns? One of the biggest concerns that companies deal with in evaluating their need for temporary or contract workers is the question of reliability. Some surveys conducted in the industry find an assumption that contract workers are generally less reliable than their permanent employee counterparts.

Joe Broschak, Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, shared some of his findings about a study of temp workers: “On average, these temporary workers displayed better performance relative to goals compared to their full-time counterparts.” For those temps later hired as full-time employees, Broschak reported that “they continued to become better workers after becoming permanent.”

The time is here. If you aren’t using contract employees, it’s the first of the year and a great time to evaluate your business needs and goals. Ask yourself the question: “Would your business benefit from contract/temporary help?”