This week I interviewed Susie Hall, the President of VitaminT – a very large recruiting agency that deals primarily with “creative types”. We spoke about how recruiters go about finding great candidates, what they look for, how they network, and how job seekers can get on their radar. I’ve shared the highlights of that discussion, along with several tips about things that a job hunter can utilize to create an effective personal brand and get hired faster. Note: her advice is valid for people with all kinds of backgrounds, interests and aspirations. You can see what she says by following this link to my USNews & World Report article for this week: http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2012/12/26/how-to-be-found-and-prized-by-headhunters#comments.
Happy reading… happy hunting, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
“My job search is stuck in the mud. I know I need to fix it, but I’m feeling overwhelmed and I’ve got no energy left. I’ve tried everything, and nothing seems to work.” Does this ring true for you?
The simple truth is: hunting for a job can be tiring, demoralizing, and frustrating. I often encounter people who have internalized their inability to find work as a sign of personal failure. Confidence and self-image suffer. As that happens, it becomes increasingly difficult to present the optimistic, energetic “can do” persona that employers seek.
We all hear that the longer you are out of work, the harder it is to get work. One of the reasons for this is that employers are looking for you, Mr. / Ms. Jobhunter not to be jaded, tired, and “down.” And, they fear that the longer you are out of work, the more likely it is you won’t have the vim and vigor they seek.
There are things that you can do to [R]energize your job hunt. This list is hardly exhaustive, but it is a good start:
- Remember that getting a job– is a job. Treat it with the same sense of professionalism that you would bring to any employment. Show up on time every day. And, at the end of the day don’t feel guilty about packing the work up, and transitioning to “personal” or “family” mode. As with any job, it is important to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
- Clarify your goals and envision success. Imagine yourself in the surroundings of your next job, and then embrace the job hunt as the necessary process to get you there. Make the effort to understand where you are most likely to add value to a potential employer. What are your strongest achievements, areas of expertise, and personal qualities? Think about not just what you would like to do, but about the kinds of jobs and corporate/work culture that are most akin to your background. These are all elements of defining your target. Once your goals are clearly defined, you can begin to move ahead in a purposeful and meaningful fashion.
- Recognize and confront your self-imposed roadblocks. Are you frozen in place by a fear of possible future failure? Many people have experienced so much rejection that they are afraid to have any more piled on. Such feelings are real, and they need to be acknowledged. Sometimes inaction can be a psychological defense mechanism. It is important, however, to understand that inaction is a certain road to the status quo. Try to move forward every day – even if you only do one or two small “baby step” things that can help to build up your self-confidence.
- Break out of your isolation, maintain “people contact”, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Figure out who are the members of your support system– your family, friends, other jobhunters you meet at networking groups, members of your church or synagogue and so on. Talk to them on a regular basis. Tell them what you’ve been up to, what seems to be working, and what seems to be frustrating you. Make them part of your team. Ask for their feedback and advice. Help them to help you by creating a context of “us” instead of “me”. And of course: seek a good job hunting coach who can understand and relate to you, and provide both guidance and the occasional “kick in the pants” when it is called for.
- Balance your job hunting activities. You can’t be everywhere, all the time. Strive to create a balance over the course of a week or two in a cycle. If you think of your search for work as a job hunt, then imagine each tool or tactic as one arrow in your quiver. You need a variety of arrows including: informational interviewing; attending professional meetings and seminars; social networking utilizing LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter; writing your blog, etc., etc. However important online activity has become, remember that social networks are but the means to the end of building personal relationships. Nurture your relationships both in the real and virtual worlds.
- Stay focused and use your time wisely. People who work out of their homes often say that one of the biggest challenges they face is managing their time. It’s easy to be distracted by kids, pets, housework, TV, internet, computer games, and so much else! Organize your day and week in advance. Create an hourly schedule and stick to it by setting alarms on your computer calendar or wherever they will best be seen and heard.
- Practice, practice, and practice some more! Rehearse out loud your elevator speech and prepare answers to interview questions which you can anticipate. For example, don’t allow yourself to be flummoxed by opening queries like, “Tell me about yourself.” Did you know that Larry Bird, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, shot 1,000 baskets EVERY DAY! He was great because he understood the need for constant repetition and skill building.
- Maintain your mental & physical health. Eat healthy. Exercise at least 3 times each week. If it’s been a while since you exercised with any regularity, start slow and gradually build yourself back up. Get those endorphins flowing and you will look better, have more energy, and feel better about yourself.
I’m always interested to hear from readers. Tell me what stymies you, what energizes you, what works, and what doesn’t. I’d love to hear some success stories!
Every job hunter has the same question: What do employers look for, and how can I best show that I’ve got “it”?
A few days ago, I attended a panel discussion for career coaches led by three of the leading recruiters in Greater Boston. Each recruiter had the assignment of explaining their view of today’s hiring environment, what employers are looking for, and then to give a few tips for candidates. The recruiters deal with different specialties, including: Human Resources, Medical Devices, Information Technologies (IT), and Marketing. Nonetheless they agreed on one thing: Five years ago, if an employer listed a job with 8-10 bullet points of “requirements”, a candidate might have been hired if he/she only had 3-4 of them. But today, virtually every client of theirs wants “12 out of 10 requirements to be evidenced— just to get the initial phone interview.”
It comes as no surprise that they all report that both recruiters and companies are being inundated by resumes, as more people are chasing fewer and fewer jobs. In this environment, they report that employers have come to view job boards like Monster as counter-effective. When they advertise a position, they get SO MANY responses it becomes an overwhelming task just to sort through all the extraneous resumes to find the quality people who would be of interest. Result? They are utilizing alternative methods of identifying and recruiting top talent. It is more time efficient and effective for both corporate (in-house) and contingency (3rd party) recruiters to scour LinkedIn and other social media sites to find candidates worth pursuing. More and more, self-submitted resumes are not responded to because they aren’t even read!
Employers are looking for the following:
- Candidates are expected to clearly articulate their accomplishments as part of their personal brand. LinkedIn profiles must highlight an individual successes and results! Skills are important – but only insofar as candidates use them to attain results. Never lead with: “XX years of experience doing….”! Each resume bullet point should tell a story: “Accomplished X by doing Y, resulting in Z”.
- Clear branding: know who you are, what you offer, and what you are after. Be comfortable with your own story, and have that story down pat. Convey it consistently in your resume, LinkedIn profile, on Facebook, and increasingly on Twitter. Tip: get all those references to partying, and anything that wouldn’t well represent an employer’s brand off your own Facebook page – NOW! LinkedIn is seen as a way screen people in, and Facebook is viewed as a means to screen people out – even before an individual knows that he or she might be considered.
- Fit, Fit, & Fit! It’s the buzzword of the decade, but it means different things to different companies. Fit goes beyond the job requirements and speaks to an individual’s experience working in a similar type organization in size, product/service, marketplace or geography. Questions of “fit” go to the concerns: would a given candidate be happy working as part of this company/team… and would the people here be happy to work side by side with this individual? If hired, would the person last? Commonly, employers are utilizing behavioral interviewing to determine if a candidate is a “fit”.
- One recruiter put it this way: The length of time [companies are taking] to fill openings is increasing. Companies are increasingly picky about who they hire. But they are hiring people who have “bull’s eye” skill sets, have industry experience, and are a fit for their particular corporate culture. More and more, you have to have all three to be hired, and candidates should adjust their job search accordingly.
Recruiters are looking for the following:
- People who can show that they volunteer to do more than is required of them in the workplace
- People who “know what they don’t know”, make no bones about it, and constantly strive to learn to fill in the gaps of their knowledge and experience.
- People who can explain what they did in a past job that makes them valuable to a future employer.
- People who can understand that recruiters are professional service providers who deserve respect. (If you are dealing with a recruiter who doesn’t deserve your respect, move on to another one!). Understand that recruiters work with candidates, but ultimately for companies.
- People who make an effort to establish a mutually beneficial relationship, by addressing them personally, offering to help find other candidates for positions if they aren’t the right fit themselves.
- People who recognize that it is counterproductive for both themselves and the recruiter to do the “end run” around the recruiter and deal directly with the company that they represent.
All of this goes to show the importance of seeing the search for a new position as a “hunt” which requires a coherent strategy and a consistent message. Getting a job is a job! For more information about what recruiters are advising job hunters, don’t hesitate to be in touch with me directly. I offer an initial free consultation to any job hunter. Happy hunting!
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