Job Seekers: Don’t Talk Yourself Out of a Job

There are plenty of articles, books, infographics, and videos which discuss the best interview tips for job seekers. They provide insightful ways to research companies before the interviews. They teach you about the different interviewing steps. They provide interviewing blunders so seekers can learn from them. And they give suggestions on how to make a candidate stand out in the interview process. Mostly, these are all great resources for job seekers to use, but what about teaching them how NOT to talk themselves out of an opportunity during an interview?

Although I’m in a recruiting role now, I have also dealt with the ups and downs of being a job seeker. As I perfect my recruiting skills and collaborate with other recruiters, I’ve learned some of the mistakes I’ve made when I was searching for a job. I realized that sometimes saying too much could actually work against a candidate and extra information could cause a recruiter to think the following things:

  • You’re all over the place: I completely understand when a candidate wants to talk about all of their experiences in detail because it shows some additional skills and initiative that they believe will add value. Sometimes this is true, but if you present it wrong or overelaborate these experiences, you may take away from the core point that you were trying to make. The purpose of the interview is to show the recruiter that you are perfect for that specific position. If you clutter it up with other details, it might cause some confusion.
  • You’re not as skilled as they initially thought: Your resume might say you have five years of experience in a specific position, but if you go off on a tangent about all the other duties you preformed while in that role, the recruiter might believe that your job didn’t focus solely on the function they’re looking for. You may have gained those skills through additional side projects. If this is the case, make sure you present it in a way so recruiters know that it was something extra that you did and that your previous job fully-involved all of the duties that the recruiter is targeting.
  • You don’t know what you want: One of the biggest things I’ve seen when it comes to this is the fact that candidates tend to talk a lot about irrelevant experiences and skills they have. They may think it helps show their diverse skill-set and years of professional experience, but it can make a recruiter wonder where your true passion lies. Are you just taking this job because you have enough experience to meet the requirements or will this job keep you engaged enough?
  • You talked yourself into a corner: make sure you ask the recruiter questions in regard to what they’re looking for in a candidate and what the expectations are. The last thing you want to do is have to backtrack a previous statement you made about why you didn’t like a specific job/duty or what you thought you were the weakest at. It’s extremely hard to recover from that.

I won’t lie, I’ve been this type of candidate before. I was excited to land an interview and wanted to tell the recruiter everything I possibly could about my professional experience so they thought I could be an asset to their company. I thought my broad skill-set would help them see that I was adaptable and flexible. Unfortunately for me, it was quite the opposite. Instead, the recruiter received a jumbled amount of information that didn’t help them easily see how my skills perfectly matched their job opening. Even if I did have a great match of skills, they couldn’t determine that with all the additional chatter about “this” and “that”.

I strongly suggest for candidates to take the time to really re-read details about the job and the company and then consider great examples from their previous experiences that fluidly matches what the recruiter is looking for. Think of these answers beforehand so you can get straight to the point effectively and don’t include any unnecessary details that isn’t relevant. As a candidate, you want to paint the best picture for the recruiter so they can see that your transition into this position will be a smooth one.

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Interns Should be More Than Your Coffee Lackey

Many years ago, interns used to be called “apprentices.” In these roles, the mentor would teach the apprentice how to do the job, provide details about the industry, and give a realistic expectations. The mentor took time to add value to the individual they were teaching and, as a result, allowed the individual to gain skills and knowledge to perform well once they were ready to start their career. In present day, interns are joked to be the “coffee lackey” or the “errand runner” for the company they’re “working” at. Sadly, these terms came about because some companies have delegated these tasks to the individuals who initially came there to learn. But how is getting a coffee order right going to help anyone?

As a support system and mentor for some of my interns, I often have a weekly call with them to discuss some of the things they’re learning from the team/department they’re interning in. I’ll attempt to answer any questions, build a support system, and offer some guidance. Of course, I’m always intrigued to hear about their previous interning experiences compared to their current ones and also to hear about their dislikes and likes from each experience. Needless to say, it shocked me when I heard that there are plenty of times when these interns literally were delegated the bare minimum. They’d tell me that these situations didn’t allow them to learn anything useful and that they felt like they wasted their time. More importantly, their experience at the company made them want to rule it out as a potential employer down the line.

What bothers me about this situation is the fact that we’re not doing anything or anyone justice if we aren’t utilizing our interns the best that we can. These interns come to companies in hopes to get a realistic view of what the world of work really is like. They came to put their school studies to practice and build their skills in ways that textbooks and classrooms can’t provide. They’re making a conscious effort to build their resumes so they are an attractive candidate once they’re ready for full-time work. They came to your company because they potentially wanted to build a relationship so you could consider them once you had a relevantjob opening. And how are they repaid for their effort? By having companies waste their time and make them feel expendable.

Here comes the irony: I often hear recruiters and hiring managers complain that there isn’t enough good talent for their entry-level positions. The reason for this is because some companies have turned internships into an opportunity to have someone do the unfavorable tasks that they don’t want to do rather than actually mentoring them. This could be an opportunity to allow them to reach their potential. As a company that has internship programs, it’s your responsibility to help build the talent for the future workforce. If you want great employees coming out of college, then it’s imperative for you to help them build their skills at a time where they are eager and inspired to learn.

Interns come to companies with natural motivation, desire to learn, drive, and ambition. They’re hopeful for their future and are looking up to their mentors to guide them in the right direction. Essentially, mentors of the internship programs are the ones who are helping shape our upcoming workforce. What are you doing to help contribute?

If this topic interests you, be sure to join in or listen to the #InternPro radio show.

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Do You Have an Internal Employer Brand?

 

Last week, I took a trip out to Seattle to spend some time working, exploring, and learning about the city. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to visit Amazon.com, one of the many corporate campuses that are located in the area. I had never explored a “campus” in the past but I’ve always been extremely eager to get a first-hand experience after reading the many articles that are out about it. Needless to say- I was impressed. But I wasn’t just impressed by the immensity of the campus, I was blown away by the branding located around the campus which had me thinking about the whole “employer branding” thing. I know HR is struggling to implement a strong brand to attract external candidates, but what about their internal brand?

One of HR’s main functions is to recruit and attract quality talent to their organization but it’s also about retaining the talent that is currently there. What are we doing to keep our employees engaged and loyal to our organizations? Competitive compensation isn’t going to be the only option to keep an employee from walking. Maybe you aren’t an enormous organization like Amazon.com, Google, or Linkedin who are notorious for having awesome internal brands, campuses, and culture, but there are ways to adopt some of these things to fit with your organization:

  • What vibe does your workspace give off?: One of the most notable things I think of when it comes to campuses like these are the different workspace options that are available. Yes- I said OPTIONS. Their offices are not set up with jail-like cubical rows with the occasional office or conference room here or there. They have open spaces, co-working options, lounge areas, and unique personalities. Perhaps you don’t have the space or budget to create these areas but there are plenty of ways to create an open environment that seems welcoming and non-restrictive.
  • What internal recruitment marketing do you have in place?: As I was riding an elevator in one of the Amazon buildings, I noticed a vibrant poster marketing one of their departments that currently was recruiting for Software Engineers. One side of the poster showed a man sitting at a computer with the saying, “This is what it looks like to work on my team.” The other side showed an imaginative, creative, and fun scene surrounding the man at the computer with the saying, “This is what it FEELS like to work on my team.” Below both posters had the team manager’s contact information that you could rip off and take with you. I absolutely loved it. Amazon is huge so having marketing options like that could really make it easy to recruit for internal candidates that didn’t know about your team. Makes sense for a company that’s as large as that, right? Here’s the kicker- even employees in small organizations admit that they aren’t aware that specific jobs exist or they don’t know about internal job openings within the organization. This can be a huge issue, especially since many employees leave their company because they feel like they have no internal mobility options. That situation might not be true and their perception of this might just be due to lack of information.
  • Are you too scared to adapt?: I understand the phrase, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” And that phrase is a perfectly reasonable one. If your company is functioning fine, there is no reason to fix it but what about offering more options? Compensation isn’t the only thing that can retain your employees, sometimes other options can be the deciding factor: telecommuting; flex work; tuition reimbursement; on-going training; co-working; employee engagement initiatives; and so on. Your competitors are coming out with really cool options to provide to their employees. Don’t let them beat you out because you were too scared to adapt to the changing world of work.
  • Is it a place of hierarchy or community?: There most definitely needs to be order within an organization but top down communication doesn’t really work as well as it did in the past. Your employees want their voice to be heard, they want to make suggestions, they want to contribute, and they want to build relationships. I’ve worked in an organization where the President and Directors are extremely open to two-way communication. They make it very easy to hold conversations, even to the point where interns aren’t scared to make suggestions or hold a casual conversation with someone higher up. It has created a great sense of community within the organization which has helped it be more progressive than other companies who haven’t adopted this.

Your employer brand isn’t just about convincing external candidates that your company is a great place to work, but it’s also about making sure your current employees also love working there to the point where no other company or job offer seems more attractive.

Is the Candidate Experience Affecting your Company’s Reputation

I know quite a few months back, I wrote about the importance of the candidate experience. At that time, I was going through some hardcore job seeking and came across many different ways that companies handled their interviewing processes. Some were amazing experiences, some were a little weird, and some were awful. After a while, I took some time to research as much as I could about companies in order to better prepare myself whenever I did land an interview. Surprisingly, I learned that I was not the only one trying to learn about the interview processes at companies and many other candidates have even posted information about their interview experiences.

As a candidate, it’s amazing to come across this information. It can help you be prepared for the types of questions the interviewer might ask, how long the interview process will be, and so on. As a company, having that sort of information exposed can be terrifying. Not because candidates have a “cheat sheet” to your interviewing process, but because candidates can rate their experience with you. These candid responses can either help or hurt your employer brand and can affect the way you are able to successfully attract and engage quality talent.

As a talent acquisition specialist, I often tell my candidates to go to the website www.glassdoor.com to read up about the company I’m recruiting them for. I say to them, “I can tell you that a company is great but that will only weigh so much because you know that I’m trying to sell you on this position. Do yourself a favor and read about it from the people who have actually worked there.” After they did so, I’ve had plenty of candidates come back to me telling me how excited they were to move through the interview process. I’ve also had candidates come back to me with concerns about some of the things they learned about the company. I often try to bring this to the company’s attention when I can so they can clarify anything and ease a candidate’s mind (or do some damage control.)

Technology makes it extremely easy to research anything. Every candidate experience you provide can be scrutinized publicly. It’s important to remember these sorts of things and handle every situation with respect and care. I would also suggest that employers regularly take time to research themselves and see what their talent community is saying about them. This can help them find out which areas they can improve on in hopes to attract the best talent and keep them engaged throughout the whole process.

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Job Preparedness: What Employers Want

More often than not, I have job seekers approach me for some career advice. They ask me all sorts of questions, such as: how should I format my resume; how should I prepare for an interview; how can I display my skills to be attractive to employers; what skills do I need to build to be qualified; and so on. Of course, depending on the role, company, and situation, my responses tend to be different per each case. However, I do remind my candidates that certain skills can be taught but passion and business ethic cannot. So, I ask them what they’re truly passionate about and how they’re going about displaying these qualities to potential employers.

After speaking to employers and researching the topic, I’ve noticed that the skills that are most valued are actually pretty surprising. For example, employers value candidates who have strong business ethic and are accountable vs. candidates that have technical skills and can work well with others. Why? Because technical skills can be taught but accountability is an internal motivation factor that an employer can’t teach an employee.

To get a better idea of this, check out this infographic on The Undercover Recruiter Blog provided by Youtern.

This is a great visual resource for candidates to not only learn what employers are looking for, but to also see how their current experience level (entry-level, managerial, etc) can tie into this. Additionally, many hiring managers evaluate these skills through the interview process, so it’s important for candidates to be on top of their game. Review the top skills that employers are looking for and take the time to think of examples from your experience to display your competency in these skills. Thinking of these examples before an interview can not only help you be prepared with strong information, but it can also help you clearly show the employer that you have what it takes to meet their value expectations.

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Branding Yourself: Paving Your Way in the World of Work

We’ve been getting really involved in different forms of branding during #Tchat for the last few weeks. Last week’s #Tchat focused more on personal branding and what it can mean for those in the “world of work.” I really identify with this topic and feel like my efforts to brand myself eventually became a success story, and a continuing success story at that.  I recall a time when I was a job seeker and struggled to be known for my work experience in human resources and my intentions to continue to work hard to move forward in this career path. For months, I applied to job after job and attempted to land interviews. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. At that time, I realized that I clearly was not standing out in the candidate pool and I needed to do things differently.

A resume wasn’t going to cut it anymore. I realized that I had to work harder to get my name out there. I realized I needed people to connect my name with HR. I needed to be transparent: I wanted people to be able to Google “Ashley Lauren Perez” and see that I was progressively moving forward in my career, even if I didn’t currently have an employer. In no time, I was branding myself and I didn’t even realize it. It happened organically.

Some of the things I learned while going through this process were:

  • Go big or go home: if you are going to be branding yourself, you need to not only be transparent about who you are and what you do, but you also need to be consistent about it. Don’t hold back- be bold.
  • Make time to network and collaborate: I think one of the greatest things I gained from branding myself was the networking opportunities that came from it. I made sure I connected with people and would open up my schedule to speak to them very casually about different topics in regard to HR. Before I knew it, I was learning more than I probably did in relevant college classes. Some of these individuals even helped increase opportunities for collaboration, job opportunities, guest blogging, and work partnerships.
  • Be a human: if you’re branding yourself on social media, you need to remember that the point of this technology is to be SOCIAL. Yes, feel free to post links/blogs/etc. and repost, but make sure you actually engage in conversation with people. Comment on their posts or join in chats/discussion groups. Don’t be a “news feed.” You need to humanize it; otherwise, no one’s going to get to really know you.
  • It’s not all about you: don’t be selfish about your brand. The best brands are the one that add value, which means you need to give back in some form. Be open to help others and you will be sure to receive.

Whether you are a job seeker, a college student, a consultant, or a CEO of a major company- you need to brand yourself. We live in a world where collaboration is essential in order to have a competitive edge in whatever you do. Don’t limit your opportunities.

If you enjoy topics like this, be sure to join #TChat on Twitter: Wednesdays at 7pm EST.

More Links:

Empower the Brand “You”

Mindfully Managing Your Personal Brand

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The Difference Between a Contingent Staffing Agency and an RPO

Is your company considering the option to outsource some of their recruiting needs? Are you a job seeker that has been contacted by a third party recruiter and don’t know who you’d actually be an employee of? Are you confused about the difference between contingency staffing and retained recruiters/recruitment process outsourcing (RPO)? If so, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve worked in recruitment roles for both contingency staffing and RPO throughout my talent acquisition career. One of the common issues I’ve seen in regard to this is the fact that companies or candidates are not educated about the difference between the two. So, let me try to shed some light today.

Contingency agencies, also known as staffing agencies or temporary placement agencies, are typically used when a company has a job opening that needs to be filled quickly. In some instances, it is used for a one-off situation or for a position that has a low volume of needs but are hard to fill. In other instances, they are used because the client has a huge number of positions to fill and their needs needed to be filled, like, yesterday. Contingency agencies are usually very fast paced because they’re not only in competition with the internal HR/recruitment department at the client’s organization, but they’re also in competition with other recruiting firms that are trying to get their candidates to the client first. The reason for this rapidness and pressure?: these agencies only can charge a fee if the client decides to bring their candidate on-board.

Retained recruiters or RPOs usually have an exclusive contract with their client and the client typically pays an upfront fee (whether a candidate is hired or not). The retained/RPO recruiters and clients formulate a plan about what type of candidates they need, how to go about finding the candidates, and determine what candidates fit the profile. It can be considered a strategic partnership. Very often, the retained recruiters present several qualified candidates to the client on a continuous basis to help build a pipeline and also increase their interview flow. These types of companies are typically utilized by larger companies with many positions to fill or by companies that have a specific need that is hard to find.

Personally, I love working for an RPO. Although we still have goals to meet on a weekly basis, there isn’t as much pressure as there was at a contingency firm. Additionally, I feel like I’m able to provide better service to both my clients and my candidates because of the relationship I build with the recruiting department at the client. I understand the company better and I know what their needs are. I’m able to relay information to the candidates to help them get a better understanding of whether or not this is a job or company that fits with what they’re looking for. Additionally, I can take the time to find better candidates for my clients because I don’t have to worry about beating out other agencies. But, of course, that’s just my personal preference. Both are extremely good options depending on what your company needs are.

For more information, feel free to read this article on UnderCover Recruiter.

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