Friday, June 10, 2011

10 mistakes you can't afford to make in an interview

Here are 10 mistakes you can't afford to make.  Taken from
  1. Don't be late. That sounds easy enough but you never know what might happen. Plan for traffic or delayed mass transit. There may be security in the building that slows you down. A good rule is to allow an extra 30 minutes just in case. At the same time, don't be too early. If you've made it to your destination early, hang in your car or a coffee shop and arrive 5 minutes before your scheduled time. Spending 20 minutes in their lobby can be perceived as overly desperate and is almost as bad as showing up late.
  2. Never wear white socks to an interview, EVER! Even if the interview is casual attire, wear dark socks.
  3. Always bring copies of your resume. Chances are, every place you interview has a copy of a resume you sent them. Even so, it's best to be able to provide your resume to others who you may meet during the interview. During the interview if anyone asks you for a copy of your resume, politely offer him or her a copy. Never reply with "you should have a copy of the one I sent you." It may seem innocent but you come off as confrontational.
  4. Complete every application the company asks you to fill out. Don't write "see resume" on an application just because that information is on your resume. It may seem like a time saver to you, but to the company you will be tagged as someone who doesn't follow direction.
  5. Never smoke a cigarette before an interview or chew gum during an interview. Also, don't rest your sunglasses on your head or leave a hat on while interviewing.
  6. Treat phone interviews just as seriously as face-to-face interviews. Although it may seem not as formal as a face-to-face interview, phone interviews or "phone screens" are sometimes the most important interview of all. Some hiring managers use these quick phone calls to screen out the definite "NO's." If you don't take it seriously, you may never be invited in for a face to face.
  7. Respect everyone you interact with at the company on your interview. Be polite and professional. You may have impressed the hiring manager but if you were rude to the receptionist or human resources, you most likely won't get the job.
  8. Turn your cell phone off unless your current job requires you to answer every call. If so, inform the person who is interviewing you that this is the case. This actually may impress to the manager how dedicated of an employee you are.
  9. Ask for business cards. You need to remember everyone you met with so you can send them a thank you note. In addition, if you have tough time remembering names in general, leave their business card on the table in front of you during the interview so you can see it just in case you need to address them by name.
  10. Don't guess on questions you don't know. In some instances, interviewers will continue asking questions about your skills to see what you know and what you don't. Typically, if they are asking the question they know the right answer. Guessing makes you look bad. Instead, tell them as much as you know about a subject, and follow up by describing how you would go about finding the rest. Employers are looking for people who are resourceful, not people who guess, or worse, people they might perceived as a liar.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Why You Must Kick the Sourcing Habit

Why You Must Kick the Sourcing Habit

I found this on ERE and was written by Lou Adler (Hire With Your Head - #3 Amazon Best Seller
) I’ve decided to bring recruiting back to recruiting. This is my new old mission. Somehow this has been lost in the past few years when overall candidate supply exceeded demand. Hiring top talent is not the same as finding top talent. While sourcing is a step in this journey, it is only a step, and one getting easier each passing day.
Consider this: at the current rate, by March 11, 2012, everyone will be connected by one degree of separation with everyone else either via LinkedIn or Facebook. (FYI: I define sourcing as the process of name generation only. If you pick up the phone and call a person who did not apply, and convince him or her to consider your position, you’re recruiting. If the person applied for a job and all you’re doing is qualifying the person, that’s screening, not recruiting.)
While sourcing is getting easier, recruiting these now-more-visible folks is getting harder. This will become even more challenging as the demand for top talent accelerates, and everyone makes a wholesale shift to contact the same passive candidates you’re contacting. In this case, good recruiting skills will make all the difference as to who attracts and hires the person.
Here are some interesting stats by way of a LinkedIn survey we conducted in late 2010, to validate this point. First, only 8% of the fully employed professional pool of candidates were actively looking and open to considering a lateral transfer. Another 10% were causally looking, but only interested in a better job than the one currently held. Everyone else needed a significant bump in compensation or a significant career move to even consider engaging in a conversation. Without a big employer brand, recruiters need to make the case that the jobs they’re representing offer something better. This is the first step in real recruiting.
As part of this “bring recruiting back to recruiting” mission, I put together this quick list of things modern-day recruiters need to be able to do to recruit top passive candidates. While they’re all important, which ones would you select as your top three?
  1. Know the job
  2. Know the industry and competition
  3. Partner with the hiring manager
  4. Market the job via voice and email
  5. Network, network, network
  6. Accurately screen and assess talent
  7. Recruit and influence top prospects
  8. Negotiate and close the offer
  9. Don’t take no for an answer
  10. Sell a career move, not a lateral transfer
Your top three might be different, but here’s mine.
Although the ability to partner with the hiring manager is essential, it’s second on my list, since in order to be a partner you need to know the job. That’s why knowing the job is first on my list. Third on my list is not taking “no” for an answer. To some degree these three in combination with all of the rest all represent a chicken-and-egg-type problem. (You can download a flyer with a more complete version of this Recruiter Circle of Excellence you see in the graphic, including a ranking scale, on the Recruiter’s Wall.)
Without knowing the job, there is no way either a hiring manager or a top candidate will respect your judgment or be swayed by whatever eloquence you manage to muster. Without knowing the job, persistence won’t help much, either. It will be like pushing on a rope. While there’s more to it than this, this is the reason I consider real job knowledge as No. 1.
Job knowledge is not simply knowing the list of skills and responsibilities listed on the job description. It’s understanding the actual work the person actually needs to do to be successful. For example, having a CPA, 5-10 years in corporate reporting including SOX, and strong international reporting experience is not knowing the job. Moving the company to the international financial reporting standards in two years, building a team of eight staff and professional accountants to assess and upgrade the current, cumbersome domestic SEC and SOX reporting process, and quickly developing a worldwide set of accounting policies, is knowing the real job.
Without this type of detailed job knowledge, you’ll get little respect from the hiring manager, and top people with other things to do will dismiss you out of hand. Of course, to obtain this critical information you need to get it directly from the hiring manager. One way to better understand the job is to ask these questions during the intake meeting:
  • What are the big things the person will need to accomplish in order to be considered a top performer?
  • Why would a top performer who is not looking, who is fully employed, and has multiple opportunities, want this specific position?
  • What are the biggest challenges the person will face on the job?
  • What are the big areas of leadership and/or strategy the person would need to successfully handle?
After you have these answers, then go through every critical skill on the job description and ask, “What does the person need to do with the skill as part of the actual job?” For example, for strong communications skills, you might get something like “make weekly presentations to the design review committee.”
If the manager asks why you need to have this information, tell him or her that this is the information passive candidates who aren’t looking need to know in order to decide if they just want to enter into a conversation. Then as a real zinger, ask the hiring manager if he or she would agree to see a person who could perform all of the work listed, but didn’t have exactly the same background listed on the job description. If the manager says “of course,” you now know the job. In parallel, you are moving toward partnership status.
If the manager says no, persist and ask the questions again, or read this article before you ask the questions again. The key: do not start looking for a candidate until the hiring manager says the real job as defined is correct, and also agrees to see all candidates who have done comparable work. Otherwise everything you do afterwards will be problematic.
With this “new age” job profile in hand, start contacting passive candidates and ask this question: “would you be open to talking about a possible career move, if it was significantly better than what you’re doing today?” They all will say yes. If not, persist and ask the question word-for-word again. When they say yes, you must then get these candidates to tell you about themselves first. Use this time to determine if the candidate is highly qualified and would see your job as a career move. If so, recruit the person. If the person is not perfect for your spot, network and get three names of some great people who are perfect. This is where persistence and all of the other skills listed in the Recruiter Circle of Excellence above will come into play. But if you don’t know the job, and aren’t a partner with your hiring-manager client, all of the persistence and skills listed won’t help much.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Are Job boards Dead?

If you think you’ve experienced deja vu about the death of job boards, welcome to the club.
In a piece in The Wall Street Journal, it says that recruiters are changing strategies and avoiding job boards:
As recruiters wade cautiously back into hiring mode, they’re throwing out their old playbooks. Rather than sift through mounds of online applications, they are going out to hunt for candidates themselves.
Many plan to scale back their use of online job boards, which they say generate mostly unqualified leads, and hunt for candidates with a particular expertise on places like LinkedIn Corp.’s professional networking site before they post an opening. As the market gets more competitive again, they are hiring recruiters with expertise in headhunting and networking, rather than those with experience processing paperwork.
We’ve heard this before but count me a skeptic, at least right now.

Complicated relationship with job boards

Let’s throw caution to the wind: not many employers will admit they like job boards. The reality is that many employers don’t like spending money on advertising on job boards. Of course, those same employers hated spending money on advertising in newspapers, too. Their complaints about job boards came down to lack of control, costs, and traffic envy.
Of course, that’s not a great reason to discontinue using job boards by itself. Their targeted traffic alone makes it worth considering for some positions. Their supporting networks, tools, and technologies have also improved considerably over the years. And most certainly, using a job board doesn’t stop you from using other resources as well.
When I was first sold on using a job board, they stoked my hate for newspapers. While I didn’t like simply shifting my marketing budget, I was happy to not have to deal with constrictive word limits and the slew of paper resumes I still received. It was an easy sell. Now many (including, rather ironically, newspapers and other media) are attempting to use the same logic to predict the end of job boards: new technologies are emerging that will cut dependence on job boards once and for all.

The fake issue: dependency

Of course, many employers are no longer tied to newspapers anymore and are using technology that is much improved. You’d think they’d be ecstatic but in many cases though, they aren’t. Shifting dependencies wasn’t on the agenda and now many are just as (if not more) reliant on job boards than they were on newspapers.
And if a new technology comes around that changes the face of recruiting (for real, not just hype), they are still dependent on that technology. After a while, they would be tired of paying the bill for that and they would be searching for something new.
It’s a vicious cycle and one that isn’t fixed by simply jumping on the next technological bandwagon. Being dependent on a job board for a major portion of your hires isn’t the end of the world.
What employers have to be convinced of is that they are not only using resources wisely, but that they are getting the targeted hires they need. Switching from one technology to another technology isn’t going to solve that issue.

It’s a people solution

The reason the job board crisis is so tired for many of us is because it has been repeated over and over again. I wrote about this issue over four years ago and not much has changed. It was called Web 2.0 back then, but simply replace that term with “social recruiting” and I could republish it. What I said then is still relevant today:
[Great companies] market their jobs like they do their products, recruit as much as they need, they on-board and train for ongoing success, they retain the people they need and they network constantly (and have been for years before social networking). That means missing one web 2.0 trend doesn’t kill them and if something big came up technology wise, they would have both the wisdom and experience to make the changes that align them. GE and Exxon didn’t die off when mailing or faxing resumes became a thing of the past.
Especially in this day and age, I believe discerning and intelligent recruitment is the answer. I still believe that. And I believe that job boards still can play a critical role in recruiting candidates and should be a part of your comprehensive recruiting plan. While I don’t believe you should put all of your eggs into one basket, I also believe that you need to leave your recruiting doors open to use whatever combination of resources you need to get the job done.