Why Taking a Break is a Good Thing

Life

It’s been a little while, I know. After years of consistently blogging, guest blogging, Tweeting, social networking, and so on, I took a step back to assess.

In the beginning, I used blogging as a way to build a personal brand in the pursuit of landing a good job. Once I got that job, I used it to continue thought leadership and develop my career in the direction I wanted it to go. After creating that portfolio, I was able to prove myself and get the promotions I was looking for.

But, now what?

I know that in order to stay relevant and knowledgeable about current trends, it’s important to keep up with your social and blogging persona as much as your IRL one. But being everything to everyone can be a little overwhelming, at least for me. If I wasn’t glued to my laptop, I was glued to my phone. Before I knew it, years passed by and I felt like I had accomplished very little in my personal life. Not good.

Being successful in my career is important. I had a lot to prove to myself and, sure, I still have a lot to prove. However, I don’t want to look back on my life and realized that I missed out on living it. I have goals to move, travel, write books, pick up a hobby, learn a new language, learn how to get better at baking, enjoy the company of my husband and puppy, visit family more, be a better friend, try something extreme, and more. Unfortunately, I’m not the type of person who has an insane amount of energy and can dominate both being professionally “on” 24/7 while still managing progression in my personal affairs. I envy those people and often wonder how they find time to sleep. And if they are running on no sleep, how do they achieve everything so flawlessly?

Every so often, you need to be honest with yourself. Can you truly do everything you want to in a reasonable time frame or do you need to start chipping away at the excess and focus on what matters? For me, it’s time to pull back a little on being proactive in the social and blogging world for my personal brand. Once work’s daily closing bell rings, I decided to turn off the HR/Recruiting/Employment Branding/Whatever-else mentality and focus more on being a well-rounded person… at least for a little while.

I do believe taking a break is a good thing. It helps people recharge and become reengaged in the things they were passionate about. New perspectives are born after taking a step back. This is what I’m hoping for as I pursue this break and focus on personal goals.

So, thank you so much for supporting this blog over the last few years. I truly hope you all learned as much as I’ve learned from many others in the social media and blogging world. This break isn’t forever and I’m looking forward to coming back with renewed passion.

Stay tuned.

Employment Branding: The Social Media Piece

Increase traffic to your website social media icons

I’ve had acquaintances and colleagues reach out to me regarding employment branding over the years, and, in many cases, they simply wanted to brainstorm different ways to build a grassroots brand with little-to-no budget. I had been in similar situations in the past and although it would be nice to have a budget and/or a person completely dedicated to employer branding initiatives, I can see why it’s hard to convince an employer that it’s worth the investment. But fret not, there are still plenty of things you can do if you’re short on bandwidth or money.

Social media is a great option to get the word out about your company culture and jobs, and one many job seekers are now expecting to find if they’re doing research on your organization. If you’re the one trying to initiate the branding piece, consider how much time you have to dedicate it. Also consider your level of marketing skills. Although many people have used social media for personal purposes, it’s important to realize that personal experience and marketing skills are two very different things. Once you identify these things, here are a few suggestions to help you get your branding efforts up and running:

  • Choose your platform: Would it make more sense to separate out your employment brand from your consumer brand, or should you work with your marketing team to incorporate recruitment marketing into their content schedule? If you do decide to create new employment branded-based social media profiles, will you throw a wide net and utilize as many social media platforms as you can or optimize a couple platforms leveraged most by your audience? Figuring out these aspects are the first steps to developing out your social media employment branding strategy. Typically, though, many people put focus on mainstream platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Figure out your content calendar: There are plenty of free tools online to help you develop out a content calendar and schedule. Choose one that will keep you the most on track and stay consistent in your postings. Additionally, determine what you should post and how often. As a general suggestion, start small and assess the results. Do research to find out when the best times to post are and appropriate hashtags to use. For example, Facebook has highest engagement from 1-3pm on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. However, Twitter works best 3-6pm from Thursday through Sunday. Share your postings during that time manually or use tools like Hootsuite to automate postings.
  • Know what to post: Many people make the mistake of using their social media platforms as a way to simply post jobs. Although the point is to reach more candidates and increase your applications, many candidates will lose interest if you only post jobs. To keep people engaged and to continue to expand your network, incorporate content that will add value. For example, make sure you include things that will showcase your culture, like pictures of recent events or the day-to-day at the office. Also make sure you curate content. For instance, if you are a tech company, share content that is industry-focused. Or even share job-seeker tips. You want people to look at your feed and find useful take-aways rather than just a job feed.
  • Take time to communicate: Social media is meant to make it easy for individuals to communicate with each other. So, make sure to create opportunities for two-way communication. Respond to comments/inbox messages in a timely fashion. Comment on posts. Participate in social media chats, such as Twitter chats.
  • Track and adjust: Track results on a weekly basis for a month to three months and identify any patterns. Make adjustments and/or optimize successful results when making a more robust schedule later on. Some things to measure are engagement, hashtag impact, follower/like growth, clicks and hires. Some free tools you can check out are Ritetag and Keyhole. You could also leverage some free reporting via Hootsuite. There are tons of tools out there, so be sure to take the time to find the right one for your needs.

Employment branding can be done on a budget, even if you don’t have someone solely dedicated to the initiative. Little steps like the ones mentioned above can help you incorporate this into a talent acquisition strategy in the most efficient and effective way possible.

 Photo Source

Asking Questions During the Interview Process

Interviewing is never easy no matter how skilled or comfortable you are when it comes to selling yourself.  Preparation prior to the interview can be involved and the amount of interviews within an interview loop can be demanding. The agonizing waiting period between the final interview and offer can be stressful. But, throughout the whole process, many job seekers are more focused on impressing the interviewer and landing that offer, causing them to forget that the interview is mutually beneficial for them, as well. This process is a prime time for a job seeker to investigate the company by asking deep questions to as many interviewers as possible. This can ensure that the company is worth the effort.

When I was in talent acquisition, I’d often ask my candidates if they had any questions at the end of the interview. A good portion of the time, candidates didn’t have any. Or if they did, they were often very basic. The questions typically covered things like pay, expectations, management style and so on. Many of those questions could have been answered by simply reviewing the job description or doing research on the company. In the end, the responses didn’t clearly show a candidate why this is a good employer for them for the long-term. Knowing salary details and day-to-day duties are important, but it doesn’t get to the core regarding what else the candidate would face if they accepted an offer. More importantly, the answers could easily be a canned, elevator-speech that gives no deeper insight. When all is said and done, a candidate may accept a job only to realize that there are a ton of deal breakers that they missed.

Whenever I’m interviewing somewhere, I like to take the time to ask each interviewer unique questions. It’s a fantastic way to learn about their experiences and the variations between them, allowing you to get a fuller picture of the company. It doesn’t necessarily have to be job-specific; the questions can have a range between job details, company culture, values, general experiences/examples and so on. The important thing is not to just listen to the responses, but also to take notice of their reactions when answering. Does their face light up? Do they seem cautious and guarded? Is it a genuine answer or does it seem practiced and calculated? These things can help you see which responses are more honest and which ones seem suspiciously reserved.

Some questions might include:

  • What was a defining moment at the company that made you say, “This is why I’m here”?
  • Do you have an example of a situation internally or with a client that resonated with you?
  • What makes you proud to work here?
  • What is the dynamic of the team you work with? How do they function during good times? More importantly, how do they work together during the bad?
  • What makes your experience with this employer different from previous ones? What makes you stay?
  • What is one project that you could work on at the company, whether you believe it would be implemented or not?

Hearing their stories is a great way for a candidate to envision themselves at the company. Even if all of the responses are positive, some of the answers might shed light on things that a candidate does or does not want to face at their workplace. These things should be considered heavily along with the traditional aspects such as compensation, benefits, perks, culture, employee value proposition, job, department, managers and the like.  When an individual spends a significant time at work, it’s best to identify whether it is a right fit or not.

Why Recruiters Lose Candidates

Being a job seeker again showed me the many ways the recruiting process has changed, for better and for worse. While looking for work, currently and in the past, I’ve worked with some fantastic recruiters who provided a great candidate experience from start to finish, but that is beginning to be far and few between. Unfortunately, bad experiences with recruiters have somehow become commonplace. Yet, these are the same recruiters who are wondering why they’re losing candidates right and left.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to sit on a high horse. During my talent acquisition career, I’ve definitely made some recruiter faux pas. But I learned from it and changed my approach. Some bad experiences with recruiters were obviously a one-off event, while others blatantly show that it’s an ingrained function. Perhaps they’re in an environment that promotes that sort of behavior. Maybe they were trained that way, or not trained at all. Or maybe they just don’t belong in a role that deals with people in this capacity. Regardless, here are some of the top reasons that make candidates not want to work with recruiters:

 

  • They don’t listen: In many cases, candidates will tell a recruiter what they do and do not want out of an opportunity. Some things would be salary, job function, company culture, benefits, type of employment (i.e. temp, contract, perm) and distance. Some things may be negotiable but there is at least one that is firm. Despite recruiters knowing this, some still aggressively pitch jobs that clearly do not meet the requirements set by the candidate. After a couple of times, a candidate could become frustrated by the fact that the recruiter clearly didn’t listen or didn’t care about the expectations set forth.
  • They’re too pushy: This one kills me. Recruitment is not supposed to make people feel like they’re being pressured by a creepy car sales person or an obsessive ex. There is no need to call someone, leave a voicemail, send an email and send a LinkedIn invite and THEN call again within the hour if someone doesn’t answer. Even if we were free, that many touches in that short amount of time is overwhelming. The same could be said about pressuring a candidate to do an interview with a company/job they aren’t 100% sure about. If a candidate says they need a day to think about it, give them the day to think about it. Hounding them to make a decision and trying so hard to sell a position during their thinking period can be a huge turn off for many candidates.
  • They aren’t respectful of people’s time and/or situations: I completely understand that there’s a level of urgency in recruiting. Hiring managers are demanding candidates for positions that may have been needed to be filled weeks ago. That pressure can trickle down to the recruiters and some may not be able to mask that high level of stress when they’re talking to candidates. For one example (and this has happened on more than one occasion), I’ve had a recruiter call me about an opportunity and ask me to go in for an on-site interview within a couple hours. They barely explained the job or the company. A couple hours wouldn’t be enough time to even do extensive research on the company/opportunity. But besides that, the recruiter knew I was still working somewhere else at the time.Even if I wasn’t working, why do some recruiters think people can just drop everything and run to an interview? I’ve heard recruiters claim candidates aren’t serious about finding a job, otherwise going to a same-day interview wouldn’t be an issue.  But working candidate or not, there are some other situations that may not make it feasible, such as: the fact that a candidate needs time to research a company to even see if it is what they’re looking for; coordinating logistics around kids; transportation issues (especially if people commute via public transit); other responsibilities in life, such as caring for someone/something other a child; continuing their education; and so on.Once again, I understand a level of urgency and candidate control. Recruiters can’t let candidates lollygag, but there is also a line that shouldn’t be crossed. The aforementioned are understandable and recruiters shouldn’t be rude or blackball someone if a candidate reasonably asks them to respect their time and situations.
  •  It’s all take and no give: Some recruiters will bombard a candidate nonstop every day with phone calls and emails, trying to get the candidate interested in a role or trying to prevent the candidate from falling out of the interview loop. But if something doesn’t work out, some recruiters may fall off the face of the earth. For example, if a candidate who didn’t get hired or pulled out of the interview process decides to connect with the recruiter about other opportunities, they may be met with silence. After days, weeks or even months of a recruiter staying tight with them, suddenly they disappear. This only shows a candidate that the recruiter wasn’t trying to forge a professional relationship and that the candidate was quickly discarded once the recruiter had no need for them. Even if the recruiter had nothing available, a simple email or phone call saying as much could keep that relationship intact.

Taking a new job or changing a job is not as simple as buying a pack of gum. This is someone’s livelihood and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Even if a candidate is in a very bad situation, such as being underemployed, unemployed or in a hostile work environment, that still doesn’t mean they are willing to jump at any opportunity. A candidate is looking for something better, whether that is better promotion opportunities, culture, salary, benefits, or what have you. The point is, they are taking special care to make sure they’re trading up, even if it’s a slight change. Therefore, let them have a moment to breathe and assess their options before making a decision. It can save a lot of time and headaches for all parties involved. If recruiters continue to give a negative candidate experience, they may not only lose a candidate for the current position they are recruiting for, but indefinitely.

* Note: I am not generalizing all recruiters, because there are plenty who are great at their jobs. This is merely a post to showcase why some candidates aren’t willing to work with ones who have these traits.

2014 at a Glance

SAMSUNG CSC

Wow. We’ve made it through another whole year and it seems like they’re flying by faster and faster. As I take a moment to reflect on my personal and professional highlights of 2014, I’m reminded of how much can change in a year. It’s a nice reminder of what can be accomplished, but also that there is still so much more to do.

From a personal standpoint, I moved from Charleston, SC, to Boston, MA. After over a decade of dreaming about travel, I finally took my first European trip to Paris and Rome. I took the leap and became a puppy parent. And I made plans to finally tie the knot with my long-term fiancé in 2015.

From a professional perspective, I continued to build my strategic skills for the talent acquisition space, specifically in recruitment planning and employment branding. I finally had an opportunity to attend a human capital conference, which I absolutely loved. I was even able to meet professional contacts I connected with via social media over the years. Currently, I’m in the process of switching my employer/career, but that will come in due time.

As for blogging, here are the most viewed blogs posted in 2014:

 

Overall, I was both surprised and happy to see that my top post of all time was one of the first ones I wrote on this blog back in 2012: Basic requirements: A candidate’s search for a qualified employer. Since writing this post, my professional career has changed so much. I’ve learned more than I could imagine, gained so many new skills and really saw my potential. I was challenged often and always found a way to rise to the occasion, no matter how impossible it may have seemed.

As I restart my job search in 2015 and finally have a moment to reflect, I reviewed this specific blog post from 2012 and realized that even years later, the things I want from an employer still ring true today. I’ve had a great opportunity to work for a company that hit most of these points for the last 2+ years, letting me know that these companies really do exist. I’m hopeful and looking forward to seeing what 2015 has in store for me.

Happy New Year!