Recruiters: Are You Going Beyond the Call of Duty?

Last week, a group of recruiters and I were talking about some of the things we do to help our candidates make it through the interview process. We discussed tips, resume restructuring, and coaching. Some of us had success stories about how their tips helped a candidate land an offer. But I asked them: what about the candidates that didn’t make it through the interview process? What about the candidates that weren’t a fit from the start? Are we doing anything to help those candidates?

Maybe I’m overly empathetic, but I really identify with the job seekers and their daily struggles to find work. I’ve been the underemployed before. I’ve been unemployed. I’ve also been the employee that felt like my abilities were not being recognized or utilized for the benefit of the company. And even though I’ve been involved in Human Resources and talent acquisition, that advantage didn’t always help me when it came to securing my next job. Even with the knowledge of knowing what recruiters and hiring managers looked for, I still struggled. If I struggled, I can only imagine what it is like for people who don’t understand the recruitment processes or tricks of the trade.

As a recruiter or talent acquisition specialist, have you ever spoken to a candidate that you knew wasn’t going to be a fit for your job opening? Or have you talked to a candidate that had potential but needed some extra guidance? In those instances, what did you do? Did you simply send a rejection letter or pass them through the hiring process knowing that they might be rejected due to the areas that needed coaching? Or did you act like a consultant? Did you go above the call of duty and make it your job to help the candidate be employable and attractive to other employers even though you couldn’t offer a job?

I know that not all recruiters have time to do this. We’re overwhelmed and most of the time we don’t even have a second to breathe. But I often try to help out candidates as much as I can. I’ll give them tips on their resume, let them know what recruiters look for, coach them on their interviewing skills, tell them how to be easily found by recruiters, and so on. Most importantly, I let them know that they are always welcome to call me or email me if they need help or have questions. That extra time and effort feels rewarding especially when you hear the appreciation in the job seeker’s voice. I love it when I get emails and calls down the line from these individuals asking me for advice or when they let me know that they landed a job because of the tips I provided.

I remember wishing that someone saw the potential in me when I was a job seeker. I hoped that employers could see my passion and hear the conviction in my voice when I told them that I wanted to do great things for their company. Eventually, a company saw that and took a chance on me. Now, I want to be the person that returns that favor, even if I can’t initially provide a job to these candidates who honestly want a future for themselves. Maybe my assistance will help them get the interview they needed so they can sit in front of that specific manager who will see their intentions and give them a chance.

It shouldn’t just be about YOUR job opening that you need to fill. It should be about helping people get back to work. People have unnecessarily suffered the situations caused by the changes in the workforce. What are we doing to help them adjust?

Photo Source

Changes in the Workforce: Are Employer Relationships Over?

I remember when I was in high school, my parents stressed to me the importance of getting good grades, a good degree in college, so I could land a great job that would be my lifetime employer. After all, my father had been with the same employer since he was 25 and my mother had also been with the same employer for 15 years at that point. A few years after that conversation, the economy took a downturn and “employers of a lifetime” seemed like a distant memory for those entering the workforce. Sadly, it began to be a distant memory for those IN the workforce, as well.

As the years went on, full time employment became rarer and it wasn’t uncommon for people to be in and out of employers within a couple years. Employers started to focus more on utilizing temporary workers, freelancers, and contract workers for their business needs. And with this meant that the normal relationship, fidelity, and loyalty between employer and employee had weakened or completely vanished.

But with this unsteady, ever-changing workforce, do the benefits of “long term” employment have to end? Do employees have to go without benefits, training, and skill building? Do employers have to deal with talent that might not be the best fit yet because of lack of ramp up time? I don’t think so. I think that each party needs to take that extra step to bring back some of the qualities that the “good ol’ days” had and make it work in this situation.

As an employer, you need to take the time to make sure your “temporary” workers feel welcomed, appreciated, and have a place within your organization. Nothing is worse than working for a company temporarily and feeling like the outcast or feeling like your presence really makes no difference. Take the time to train them a bit and learn what skills the worker already has to offer, and try to utilize them. This can not only benefit your company but it can help you get more accomplished and can make the temporary employee feel like they have a purpose rather than just be involved in mind-numbing process.

As an employee, take the time to build relationships with those in your organization. Learn about the industry, network, try to understand processes better. Take any chance you can to build knowledge and skills and put them into practice.  Don’t be shy and wait for someone else to show you- take initiative! If you’re working for a staffing agency, find out what kind of benefits and training they offer. Many organizations now offer medical benefits and workshops to help their contractors feel taken care of and keep their skills up to date so they’re a stronger candidate in the future.

Maybe things have changed, but it doesn’t have to feel like a revolving door with nothing to show. We all can take our part to make the best of this new world of work. It’s time to start thinking it as a way to build opportunity.

If you enjoy topics like this, be sure to join #Tchat on Twitter- Wednesdays at 7pm EST. Also, please feel free to join the “Talent Culture” group on Linkedin

More links:

Is the Employment Romance Really Over?

TChat Recap

PhotoSource

Veteran Job Seeking Advice from a Veteran

Simultaneously scared and excited is how I imagine most veterans approach their separation from military service. I remember how I felt; primed to take my experience and knowledge into a new direction.  The excitement of something new and fresh with new opportunities yet infused with the fear of not knowing what to expect.  I knew I needed a plan but how should I prepare?

 As I look back, my expectations regarding the transition to civilian life was neither realistic nor accurate.  I had been blinded by the circulating rumors about people who had landed lucrative positions before they had finished their final out-processing appointment.  That rosy rumor gave me a false sense of confidence which definitely affected my attitude toward preparations.

 I had no idea how competitive and unpredictable the civilian job market was!  When my date arrived the economy was heading toward a recession, and that was creating a much different environment than the one I imagined was out there.  Today the market seems to favor the employer.  With more applicants than available positions, companies are able to make candidate decisions much more carefully. The once lenient job-skill requirements are now mandatory before an applicant will even be considered for a position.  Organizations are searching for candidates with a wider range of skills which can improve their opportunities for cross-utilization.

 To compete, it is important for veterans to quantify their expertise before firing resumes at potential employers.  This can be accomplished through a realistic and comprehensive skills assessment.  It is critical to decipher the military qualifications into a civilian-friendly terminology.  The next step should be to prioritize those attributes according to the requirements of the desired position.  Information about job skills is available through the Department of Labor’s O*Net website.  This is a wonderful resource, and it is free.

Assessing your skills and translating them to the civilian work-world is one of the major undertakings most veterans will face. An ideal opportunity to accomplish this is during the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) briefing. This seminar usually occurs within the final months of service and it can help the transitioning military member develop their plan to make the employment search much more efficient.  TAP counselors are specially trained to provide a conduit to help veterans prepare for each step in their relocation.  The TAP is an important initial step and only lasts for a short time, it is important that the time is used wisely.

 After a member separates there are numerous employment assistant services available; some of these we would never realize are open to veterans.  The VA is the most obvious benefit but others include state employment agencies, veterans groups and networks, veteran friendly employers and even staffing agencies.  Personally, I had never considered the unemployment office as an option, but it is.  Many state employment offices have representatives who specifically assist military vets.

 Transitioning to a brand-new career can be fraught with challenges for anyone.  Transitioning from a military background presents its own set of difficulties.  Thoughtful preparations can help identify milestones, plan for challenges and help mitigate anxieties along the way.

 Having completed that evolution and survived, I offer the following suggestions to help develop your own roadmap.  A caveat to this list is that it need not only apply to transitioning veterans.  These same methods can help your possibilities if you are changing careers; which usually means starting over in something in which we have more desire and passion than experience.

  •  Complete an assessment of your skills and training (include any leadership or service academy training).  Utilize TAP and O*Net.
  •  Start building your network before your final separation date:  LinkedIn, professional groups, civic organizations and clubs, seminars and workshops.
  • Take advantage of base agencies to assist with resume writing and interview preparation.
  •  Become familiar with civilian employment services in your relocation area.
  •  Learn about any federally hosted programs which offer tax incentives to employers hiring veterans. –not all of the employers I spoke with knew about the incentives approved through the government (VOW, WOTC).
  •  Have copies of all of your military documents (hard copies and digital copies).
  •  Become familiar with federally recognized veteran’s status classifications, and which classification you fall under. These can aid in your consideration when applying to federal jobs.

 Transitioning into a new career doesn’t have to cause insomnia.  Excitement, yes. Scary…perhaps.  If you prepare and have a plan you should sleep better at night.  Incorporating flexibility into that plan allows you to pursue your goal without having to accept something just to provide for the family. That dream career, for which you have longed, can be within your grasp.

 As a veteran I feel we have more resources than the average job seeker or new college graduate.  Become informed about those resources and use them to their full advantage.  Network, ask questions, and search for local veterans resources.  You have served your country honorably.  Your country wants to thank you and has established many avenues to help with your success.

This post was written by JD Schwind, MHR. He is a veteran of the US Air Force and currently works as a Recruiter for Veteran Programs at Training Concepts. For more information about veteran recruitment and veteran programs, feel free to connect with JD on Linkedin

Photo Source

Build your Network Before You Need It

During typical Twitter banter this week, a message from Susan Avello really stuck with me: build your network before you need it. It was simple but an effective statement that inspired today’s blog. Whether you are a job seeker, employed, generating leads, or building partnerships- it’s important to proactively build your network. Life and business change fast, you need to always be one step ahead.

Why should you spend time and effort building your network? Simple:

  • It puts you on the map: it allows people to get to know you and consider you for job openings or as an option to do business with you. Warm leads made easy.
  • It’s a quick resource: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able to pick up the phone and get some insight quickly because of the fact that I networked with people beforehand. And this resource was even more useful than simply researching online, because I was able to get answers to specific questions I had.
  • You’ll be prepared for instability in your career: lay-offs, downsizing, termination, or glass ceilings are all situations that we’ll potentially run into in our lives. Networking can help you keep a pulse on what companies are hiring, who to contact about specific jobs, and allow recruiters to locate you for their pipeline.
  • Build relationships and credibility: building relationships with people can allow them to see that your experience and skills are credible. Impressing them in this way and staying in the front of their mind can allow them to recommend and refer you with confidence rather than someone else.

There are so many great uses to networking. Yes, it takes time and effort and at times it can be a little overwhelming. But the truth of the matter is, the benefits will help you and help save time in the long run. It’s best to build this up ASAP rather than scrambling later when you need it.

Photo Source

Switching Up to a Career Seeking State of Mind

Alright, the economy really did a number on us as employees. Many of us have lost jobs or were in fear of losing it. We took pay cuts, benefit cuts, and worked extra hard to compensate for being under-staffed. Some of us had to take crummy jobs after crummy jobs just to make sure our mortgages were paid and there was food on the table. Some of us even wondered if we’d ever find a stable job again. I say- enough! I’ve been there before and I know it’s rough. But 2013 is a new year and with last month adding over 100,000 new jobs into the mix, we’re hoping things are looking up. With that being said, it’s time to switch gears and start getting career-minded rather than “job to get by”-minded.

Building yourself up to get ready for your career and achieving your career goals does not happen overnight. It is an ongoing process. So, what should you be focusing on to help you get where you need to be? Here are a few ideas:

  • Personal Branding: resumes are becoming redundant and often highlight what you done rather than your career path intentions. It’s time to stand out of the candidate-crowd and get people to know you for what you WANT to be known for. Get involved in activities, groups, or conferences that can help you gain skills and network. Get exposure on social media. Start TALKING about it.
  • Be about it: maybe your personal brand won’t land you the dream job right off the bat, and that’s to be expected. Your relevant skills might be a bit rusty or maybe you need to develop new ones to keep up with the way the industry had changed. Internships, projects, and volunteer work are never below you- remember that. Some people’s pride and ego get in the way from taking on these seemingly innocent projects/roles. But the truth of the matter is; these situations help you build the skills you need to be an attractive candidate.
  • Learning is continuous: so be sure to add to your talking and doing by learning. Think of it as being extremely well-rounded. Your mind needs to be sharp and up to date. Be sure to find learning opportunities, whether it is to take classes, read business books/blogs, or simply join in a discussion relevant to the career/industry you’re targeting. This can keep you fresh and be ready to contribute useful ideas/insight when you have the opportunity to shine.
  • Build your network: doing all of these steps will be pretty useless if no one knows who you are, where you’re located, or what you’re striving for. It will also be useless if you have no idea what feasible options for you are. Build your network of contacts, get to know them and let them get to know you. Simply building and maintaining these contacts can help them reach out to you if opportunity arises or they can even help guide you so you can ensure you’re taking the right steps towards your goal. Your network will be your support, your mentors, your key to opportunity, or just a good conversation.

Your career isn’t a fleeting thing. It is your future, and a long-term future at that. Take care and pride in these steps to help you reach your goal in the most ideal way possible. 2013 will be the year that you will focus in on your potential and strive to be the best version of yourself. Take action!

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

More Links:

#Tchat Recap

Storify : Lose job, keep career

5 Powerful Career Drivers for the Future of Work – Forbes article by Meghan M Biro

Photo Source

Humanizing Your Resume on Social Media

In the battle to find a decent job, I’ve heard many candidates say that they wish there was a way for them to stand out against other applicants. These candidates are working to grab recruiters’ attentions, communicate, and build relationships. They’re hoping to show that there is so much more that they can offer an employer beyond what their resume presents. And many of these candidates still have trouble finding the opportunities to do this. As I have learned, a great way for candidates to do this would be through social media.

Many recruiters are utilizing social media as a way to market their current needs, to search for prospective candidates, and to make it easier for candidates to find them. Social media can help candidates discover what companies are hiring and which recruiters are handling specific openings. Most importantly, social media makes it very easy to start two-way communication between recruiters and candidates.

Do you want to show that you’re up to date and knowledgeable about industry trends? Post something, start a discussion, participate, and be responsive. Try to find ways to connect with recruiters on this level and you can really add something extra to your resume.

Another popular trend that is occurring is scheduled virtual discussion groups. Recruiters and candidates can come together, discuss relevant topics, and network. Sometimes these groups will have previews of the topic. If so, make sure you prepare so you can add value to the discussion and really leave an impression.

Social media really adds transparency that can help candidates ensure that a company or position would be a right fit for what they’re looking for and vice-versa. I’ve personally had some great experiences using this, ranging from: landing a job; networking with amazing people that have helped me progress professionally; and also as a way to locate a great candidate pool for job openings that I’m working on. It’s made my life easier both as a candidate and as a recruiter. So, don’t rule it out.

If you have any questions on how you should utilize social media to your benefit, please feel free to contact me on Linkedin or Twitter.

Linkedin

Twitter: @AshLaurenPerez

Photo Source

Taking Initiative for Your Professional Future

Being involved with Gen Y, and seeing how the economy has affected career growth and mobility for recent grads and early careerists; I can’t help but notice some of the pain points they regularly voice. One of the biggest gripes they express is the lack of room for internal mobility. Along with this, many of these individuals also feel as if though there are no opportunities for them to learn, train, shadow, or develop in a way to prove to management that they are worthy for more responsibility in their current role or that they are worthy of promotion. But for those who feel this way, it’s important to realize that just because management hasn’t presented these opportunities doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Sometimes, you need to take initiative to develop your own professional skills and opportunities.

When I’ve mentioned this to individuals, I’ve had many people respond, “Why would I put in all this time and effort if I’m not getting compensated for it? Most of the time it goes unnoticed so what’s the point?” Regardless if those things seem to initially be true, you must remember to take a step back and see the big picture. Taking initiative doesn’t just help you potentially get a raise or promotion, it helps you grow.

Each new project, task, or innovative idea you allow yourself to be a part of will give you so much and will only help you get better and better. You will gain new skills, learn how to overcome challenges more effectively, and really get an idea of what you are passionate about and good at.

Most importantly, the things you do can be a tangible part of your experience. Maybe you’ve done something relatable outside of work on a side project or hobby, but it was hard to prove to your employers that you had the experience. Taking this initiative can give you the experience in a work setting so you can put it on your resume, help build up your portfolio, and have a witness (your employer) be able to prove what you’ve done and refer you.

So, before you claim that doing something a little extra isn’t worth it, think about what you gain in the long run. You are giving yourself the ability to be attractive talent for your current or future employer. That’s the best kind of investment.

Photo Source

Job Shadowing as Part of the Interview Process

Recently, some business contacts and I were discussing some of the issues that HR and companies face in terms of turn-over. Of course, we dissected the many reasons why employees decided to voluntarily leave: pay; lack of advancement; culture issues; and so on. One of the other issues that I had mentioned was the fact that employees feel like they weren’t given a realistic preview of the job before accepting the role. This had us all thinking about our interview processes. Many interview processes have extended from a simple face to face into a longer interview cycle. These cycles can include phone screen, face to face meetings with several members of the team/organization, and presentations. Even after all of those different scenarios, employees still feel that this is the case. So what could we do better?

I thought about all of the interviews I’ve been a participant of over the years and considered the details. Many of the interviews were informative, both over the phone and face to face. The recruiters and hiring managers took the time to interview my skill-set and was also open to answering questions I had about the company, the day-to-day, and the expectations. And although that might seem sufficient, I realized it really wasn’t.

It wasn’t until I experience an interview that involved a 2 hour to half day job shadowing session that I really felt like I got a good sense of the job. In this session, I took time to sit down with multiple people in the organization: people I’d work directly with on a team; people that I would support; and department managers. In each of these instances, the person I was shadowing would take time to show me what their role entailed in a hands-on way. I was visually able to see their to-do lists, the systems they used, their processes, and so on. Additionally, I was able to take notes, ask them questions, and get a better understanding of how it all worked. This also allowed the person who was “interviewing me” to see how much I truly understood about the job and really actually see if the experience I claimed to have was legitimate.

In addition to getting a realistic view of the role, the company, and the people I would potentially be working with; this also gave the company an opportunity to get a deeper understanding of how I would fit in. They tested my knowledge, they saw how I was responding, and they saw how I interacted with different members of the organization. This was a fantastic way to not only see if the role/candidate was a match but if the candidate/company also had a cultural and value match. It helped me feel extremely confident when it came to deciding whether or not it I would be happy in this role and company. It ensured that surprises were limited and I knew what I was getting myself into. And vice versa.

Although recruiting and interview processes are extensive as it is, I would love it if more companies took the time to include this in their interview loop. I would be curious to know if this could help limit the turnover of employees, whether voluntarily or not. I know it made a huge impact and difference in my candidate experience.

Photo Source

You’re so Vague- You Probably Think This Post is About You

Let’s face it, interviewing is tough. And it’s not just tough on the candidate’s end, it can also be tough on the interviewer. It can be long, tedious, and exhausting. Even after you put in all this time and effort, something ends up shifting, causing you have to go through the steps all over again. Unfortunately, some of these situations are out of our control. We can’t change policies or laws overnight nor can we change economic and financial shifts that can influence the outcome or length of these hiring practices. However, interviewers could definitely make the interviewing process less painful simply by being open and honest. This can help candidates get a better understanding and hopefully limit some frustrations they experience.

First off, let’s stop being vague: No one likes playing guessing games, especially when it involves their career and financial security. Before going through the recruiting and interview process- get the facts. Simplified and generalized job descriptions aren’t good enough. Sure, it’s opening up your candidate pool because a large number of candidates could say, “Oh, sure, I could do that/I’ve done that.” But we’re trying to focus on the specifics. Recruiters complain about being overwhelmed with unqualified resumes, but part of the issue is because their job descriptions are too ambiguous that these candidates might actually believe they are qualified. Let’s present the position properly straight off the bat.

If you’re going to ask tough questions, be ready to answer them, too: Candidates are interviewing your company just as much as you’re interviewing them. Before interviewing candidates, make sure you have all the details and know what questions are safe to answer and which information you are allowed to provide. Choosing an employer is tough and candidates are weary of getting themselves in a bad situation. If you plan on asking candidates detailed or hard questions, do not shut them out when it’s their turn to ask you things about the job and company. It wouldn’t be fair to ask them to make a decision of whether or not to take a position with you if they don’t have a realistic idea of what they’re getting themselves into.

Make sure you’re on the same page for timelines: Nothing is more frustrating than going into a job interview (especially when you are hurting for work) and finding out that either the interview process is extremely extensive, the position isn’t open, or that there isn’t a huge rush for the job to be filled. Explain to the candidate from the beginning all these details. Let them know how long the interview loop is, the typical timeline, what each interview entails, and a timeframe they should expect to hear from you at the end. This is even truer for positions that aren’t officially open. I’ve been in those shoes before- I’ve interviewed for a company who said the position isn’t open yet but it will be fairly soon. I had my heart set on it so I rejected other offers to ensure I was ready to start ASAP… 6 months later, the position still wasn’t open, I still had no idea when it would be even after asking several times, and my savings account was almost depleted.

The candidate experience is important and it isn’t fair to hook and hold candidates without their knowledge. Be open- tell them all the details you can about the position so the candidate knows if it’s something they want to continue interviewing for. Be honest about interview timelines or hiring timeline expectations.  I understand that we are trying so hard not to let quality talent turn away from us, but you should let your candidates make informed decisions. I’m sure they will appreciate the fact that you aren’t wasting their time or giving them the run around. It could even help build a better relationship and retain potential talent even if the job isn’t available right then.

More Links:

Your Hiring Process Repels Candidates.

Photo Source

Say Yes to Continuing Education

In grammar school and high school, we’re taught to get good grades and participate in extra-curricular activities so we can get into our dream colleges. In college, we are once again told to get good grades, encouraged to take on internships, and asked to join clubs- all to help our chances of landing a great job upon graduation. And once we land those jobs, gain experience, and slowly but surely move along in our career paths- then what? Does education and learning just end there because we achieved the “ultimate goal” of getting a job that offers financial security and benefits? Does it just end there?

It shouldn’t. People should be driven and encouraged to do whatever they can to continue to learn. So many people believe that once they receive that diploma or certificate that they’re done. They paid their dues and finally got their careers in check… and that’s that. When I’ve asked people why they aren’t continuing their education and learning, I often got answers such as this:

  • I’m too old to go back to school
  • I’m too busy with work and home-life to take on anything more
  • I don’t have the money
  • I don’t need it
  • I wouldn’t even know where to start
  • I’m too scared to start something new

All are valid reasons and concerns but the reality of it is, skills are becoming outdated, people are being automated out of jobs, and technology is upgrading/advancing so quickly that most of us can’t keep up. The world of work is evolving in some major ways. So, the “ultimate goal” isn’t about landing a job anymore, but more about keeping up.

Like I said earlier, all those reasons are valid but there are ways to work around it. For example:

  • Online school
  • Certificate classes
  • Work training
  • Informal social groups
  • Reading new industry books/blogs in your free time
  • Networking
  • Stretch projects
  • Work shadowing

Education shouldn’t just be a stepping stone or a distant memory- it should be ongoing. The world has so much to offer and we live in an amazing time where we can easily access this. So take advantage of the things that generations before us could not. Become the ultimate asset and more importantly, do it for yourself.

Photo Source