Ah Those Mystery Job Ads


Last week one of the people I was supporting in their job search brought to my attention a job posting where the employer had specifically requested no contact. That in itself isn’t anything new, as job ads have been instructing applicants to not place calls for quite some time. This one was different though, because it read, “No follow up phone calls please.”

This puzzles me honestly. I mean, yes, I understand that with the growing number of people competing for jobs, the organization would indeed have to devote a lot of someone’s time to respond to all the calls they’d get. On the other hand, I have always believed that employer’s are looking for people who show initiative, who have personal drive and genuine enthusiasm or passion for the jobs they apply to. So if no one follows up on their applications with a call, it would appear more difficult for an employer to separate those who really want the job from those who apply and then are content to just wait and see what happens.

Another reason that this puzzled me upon seeing it was that I’ve heard from some employers who have told me they value calls from applicants. Some have even told me that they built in a few days following an application deadline to determine who calls and who doesn’t; with the one’s that call getting additional marks for taking such initiative. Times change however, and whether this one ad becomes a trend or not we’ll see.

There are other tactics employer’s use that discourages applicants contacting them too. For a long time now, employers have been using Recruiters and temporary agencies to pre-screen their applicants. In the job postings that produce applications, the identity of the hiring company and their location is carefully omitted. While this makes it easier on the organization in that they don’t get walk-in traffic and phone calls following up on their job applications, it also has problems.

One such problem the omission of a company name and location has is that applicants can’t do their homework when it comes to researching company culture, values and see if their own aligns with this employer. This can waste both the time of an applicant and an employer if a well-qualified applicant applies in good faith for a position but upon learning the identity of the employer, pulls their application from the hiring process based on their own experience or that of others.

Dependability and reliability are two of the key qualities just about every employer desires in their workforce. For a majority of those who rely on public transit to get to and from work, knowing where they’d have to travel before applying would be helpful. Again, when an employer conceals their name and location, just as an applicant conceals their own address, a situation is created whereby wasted time is spent on both ends by both parties. Ironic isn’t it when an employer who refuses to identify their location makes an applicant’s address a mandatory field on an online application; we’re not telling you where we are but you have to tell us where you are!

Some job ads would almost be better thought of as a blind date. Sure there might be a face-to-face meeting or interview eventually, but the first contact will be one party (the employer), gathering as much information as they can about the other party (you) without revealing much about themselves. Yes they make the first step in getting the job posting out there via a temp agency but at the same time there is a vagueness to the actual posts sometimes that means an applicant can’t really get excited about the prospect of getting the job until they know the organization and along with that organization their reputation.

I’m looking at the way many employers are going about their hiring and seeing a disturbing trend developing. While it’s all good to remove potential bias, (heavens knows this is nothing but a good thing and needed for ages), employer’s who keep their identities known until personal interviews are set up unintentionally make things harder on themselves. Seeing applications with names removed, addresses removed, names of educational institutions removed (all by HR departments) contribute to a level playing field but can make selection of great candidates more challenging. If an applicant lives in their opinion too far away, they won’t know until they meet. If they organization has a distinct preference for a long-standing school with a solid reputation, they may feel they wasted their time seeing people from an upstart school struggling to gain credibility.

There are pros and cons to all hiring processes and I can usually see the good and the bad from each. As an Employment Counsellor working with the unemployed however, one of the things I’ve always encouraged people to develop and show is enthusiasm for the jobs they apply to. Hard to advise someone to get excited about an opportunity when two of the first things they ask is the name of the employer and where they’d work.

Oh and these long online applications they make applicants fill out? I’ve seen people with very little drive and sincere motivation sit for ages filling them out, getting help from others on what to say. Little drive and little interest.

Be careful employers…how you attract applicants does indeed determine the quality of applicants from which to hire.

Would You Hire The Last Chocolate In The Box?


Today a question for those Hiring Managers, Recruiters, Headhunters, Interviewers and employers who are responsible for the selection and hiring of applicants.

First,  imagine a box of chocolates; you know, the ones that come with the pictures and descriptions of the contents. It’s a full box, none have been tampered with. Most people tend to look at the descriptions, match up what they read with what they want, reach in and choose one. That’s pretty much how companies hire when you think about it too. You know what you’d like, you do some research into your choices via resumes, social media and interviews, then make your selection based on which candidate which is most likely to fulfill your needs.

Over at the chocolate factories, every chocolate they produce has to appeal to at least some of their customers in order to continue profitable production. If the market shows a trend where consumers are consistently passing over a certain type of chocolate, it’s probable they’ll produce it in fewer quantities; perhaps dropping it entirely.

However, each one of those chocolates is in their own right, a quality produced piece. We might not like the coconut maroon, the fudge caramel or even the one with the maraschino cherry center, but they are in the variety packages because they’ll appeal to someone if not us. As for the last chocolate in the box, there’s nothing wrong with it; as soon as the first one is selected, one will inevitably be the last one remaining.

Ah, if they could only talk though. I’d guess that last piece would have started off feeling pretty good about itself; just as appealing as every other chocolate. As it’s neighbours get selected again and again, that chocolate’s self-worth might get shaky though. I can imagine it wondering aloud, “What’s wrong with me? Will I ever get taken? Give me a chance, you’ll see I’m pretty good; you’ll like me!”

If you think about it, the value of that last piece of chocolate might start off on equal footing compared to each other chocolate in the box, but as fewer and fewer remain, and ultimately it ends up being the last one, it’s value at that moment is higher than ever. For the right person, they’ll be thrilled to find the one they want most is the one remaining. For me, that last piece will always be the one that tastes like coffee. I’ll pass that one over every time. What’s that? That’d be one of the first ones you’d reach for? Point made.

So my question for you is whether or not you’d hire the last chocolate in the box. It’s unspoiled, unhandled. My guess in this scenario is that you wouldn’t. Probably because like me with the coffee tasting chocolate, no amount of time would have me take it. I’d go and get another box of chocolates; one which contains the kind I’m looking for. That coffee tasting chocolate will either go to a guest who drops in or out in the bin; even though there’s nothing inherently wrong with it.

And here my analogy of hiring and a box of chocolates breaks down and gets uncomfortably real. That last chocolate that nobody selects and gets trashed has no feelings; it’s a chocolate. Individually it’s under a dollar, maybe about 27 cents. So big deal. A person however? The one that gets rejected over and over, passed over time and again? The one that puts on their best face, extols their attributes and strengths as best they can and gets considered, evaluated and ultimately tossed aside; well, they’ve got feelings. That person’s value never truly diminishes, but the process – your process – can make them similarly feel undervalued.

The things you find unappealing as far as employment goes get in the way of taking a chance right? A decade of unemployment, lack of a car, poor credit history, lacking local experience, age, as examples. But every so often, you might take a nibble of a chocolate you’d otherwise pass on and in that moment, discover it actually has an appeal. Hmm… you might even take a second, larger piece, then in the end satisfyingly pop the remaining bit in and wonder why you didn’t try it earlier. You suddenly have a new favourite and want more.

Now suppose before you there was a woman with a 10 year gap on her resume. Prior to that gap she worked for 12 years with a single employer in the Financial Industry. The gap? No fault of hers; certainly not by choice. This was a time when her controlling, emotional and psychologically abusive spouse forbade her to work, relocated her away from her friends and family; manipulated her into isolation and full dependency on himself. He crushed and all but extinguished her self identity. Today, she’s left him, is rebuilding her fragile self-worth, still holding onto the belief there is good in the world and she’s deserving of a normal life.

Her resume is before you and she wants an interview to best make her case for hiring her. She’s got the education, past experience you said you wanted. It’s just that unexplained gap… Without a conversation, you’re never going to understand that 10 year gap. You could end up with a genuinely grateful employee; hardworking, trustworthy and trainable. Initially rusty yes, but will shine up nicely.

Come on…might surprise yourself and be glad you took a chance.

 

 

 

Been Out Of Work For Some Time?


One of the challenges for someone who has been unemployed for a growing period is when, at an interview, they are posed a question that asks them to give a recent example of their time management, organization and/or prioritization skills.  Now come to think of it, it’s a challenge to come up with a recent example of any skill if you’ve been out of work for some time.

And here we’ve hit upon one of the key reasons employers most often cite when they say they have a preference for hiring people who are currently working or have a small employment gap versus those with long-term unemployment. Recent experience using the skills you’ll be using in this new job is attractive to employer’s because your skills are likely more polished. When you’re trying to convince an employer you have the skills required but can’t back that claim up with recent history, you’re asking them to take a leap of faith.

Now, for a moment, let’s sit on the other side of the table; we’re the employer. From the many who have applied, our interviews have brought us down to three candidates. Of the three, one is currently working, one recently laid off due to downsizing of the company, and the third hasn’t worked in 4 years. As the interviewer, we know our own Supervisors have high expectations that we’ll select the right candidate; typically one with experience, skills, the right attitude and work ethic.

If we’re being honest here, that third candidate; the one who hasn’t worked in 4 years? That applicant has to have something, or some things,  that set them significantly apart from the others. It’s just too easy to eliminate them from the running as the other two have more recent experience; they have proven examples of recent work history. When making a recommendation to management that the third person be hired over the other two, their own credibility is on the line. If they work out, the interviewer looks great. If the third candidate is hired and is a bust however, fingers will start pointing and whispers about their lack of good judgement are going to start. Playing it safe seems the better way to go.

But hold on. Okay, now back on our side of the table. So, we’ve got this shot at a job, and for the moment, we’re still in the running. Walking into an interview in such a situation, it’s a good idea to imagine your up against people with recent experience; using the skills on a daily basis that you know you’ll need everyday. Imagine this because it’s highly likely the case.

We have preparation on our side though. We should be ready for the interviewer to ask about that gap. To stay in the competition, we need to not only convince them our skills aren’t rusty, we need to demonstrate that as a person, we’re the right fit. The things we can control have to shine through; our eagerness, friendliness, likeability, appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity, our ability to get along and be productive with co-workers.

There’s a shift in hiring going on at the moment which is growing in momentum. More companies are coming to understand that hiring the right people is the best option. The best people aren’t necessarily the ones who have more experience, more education, more proven work history. Sometimes the right person has less experience, but their attitude and how they go about things gives the employer the belief that they are highly trainable. Train the right person and you may have a long-term winner. Hire someone with a questionable attitude or work ethic based solely on their year’s of work and you may regret your choice.

Now, if you are currently unemployed and that gap is growing daily, this comes as good news. Still, consider taking some action now to address things. Volunteering, taking an online course, or even some free online training will put things on your resume. A Health and Safety course or First Aid training are two examples of transferable assets you could easily take and add as well.

Anyone who is unemployed for long will tell you it’s a mental struggle more than a physical one to stay competitively at a job search. It’s mentally fatiguing to constantly strive for work with an upbeat, all-in philosophy. Self-doubt, frustration, let-downs, flat-out rejections; all of these come at you and yet still you’re expected to be positive and optimistic. We’re talking stamina, focus, resiliency and tenacity. Say…. stamina, focus, resiliency and tenacity; those are some of the very qualities an employer might be impressed with, and these are the SKILLS you are using over this employment gap.

Now, whatever has happened in your personal situation that has you were you are today, you’ve got this chance to start a new chapter; and there’s no time better than now. It’s up to you of course, but why not get going on things here and now?

If you’ve been stuck and not done much, honestly it will take effort to get going. Do it. Momentum can’t be built on if you don’t start. When you get moving, you can build on the little things you do each day. String together some of those little things and you’ll start creating behaviours that lead to better results.

You can do this.

A Message For Those Who Hire


Hi there! Up front let me state I’m an Employment Counsellor and I acknowledge I’m working with and supporting people who are after job interviews with the goal of getting hired.

You and I want the same thing; good people working on behalf of you and your organization to best serve your customers and clients; increasing your profits and minimizing your expenditures.

I know some of you are still doing your own recruiting and hiring while professional Recruiters and Headhunters are coming onboard to help source talent for other organizations. Time is money and you’re not in the charity business; you want a good pool of qualified people from whom to select the right candidates to join your workforce. So it’s not about what you can do for an applicant but rather what can they do for you. What you find annoying and don’t have time for are the applications from people who clearly don’t meet your stated qualifications, and even more frustrating are those who misrepresent or downright lie about their qualifications and their abilities.

You value enthusiasm, punctuality, integrity and you must have people who genuinely get along with others and who are willing to take direction with a positive attitude.

How am I doing at stating what you’re after? Anything you’d like to add? Feel free to comment when you’ve finished reading so others fully understand what it is you want. I suppose it’s fair to say that if an applicant can prove how they are going to add value to your company, they’ve got a good shot at joining you through the selection process.

To land the best candidates, allow me to share some of the things which will help me and others like me, get you the best people.

  1. Demonstrate the integrity you expect in others. This means, be true to your word and don’t say you’ll get in touch after an interview if you really don’t plan to. If you say you’re making a decision next week, fine; live up to that.
  2. Online applications have limited value. There’s an irony here in that online applications will keep job seekers away from your business. Think about who has the time to sit down and fill out your 86 question online application. You’re not always getting the go-getters; you might be getting someone in their fuzzy slippers and housecoat with hours of free time to sit and do your applications. And don’t you value meeting people to assess them in person anyhow?
  3. Scrap distance to your workplace as a cause for concern. Yes you need people to show up when scheduled. Leave getting to your place when required up to the applicant; that’s their responsibility. Don’t assume people who live 4 blocks away will have better attendance and punctuality than the people who live in the next town or city.
  4. Age biased? You and I know the pros and cons of both the young and the old. With that being said, what’s young? What’s old? Don’t whitewash all the applicants in either group or you’ll miss some real gems. Young people want and need the value of learning on the job, and while you’re not a charity as I stated above, you can train and shape this person. At the other end of the spectrum, not every mature person has health issues and demands to be paid a premium. You’d be surprised at the tremendous value you’ll receive from someone with life and work experience who wants nothing more than to contribute what they’ve got for another 5 or 6 years.
  5. Ditch the “welfare bias”. You might not be aware of this but many in receipt of social assistance are highly motivated, skilled and incredibly educated. Whatever image you have in your mind as portrayed in social media is probably wrong. There are people with Masters, Degrees, Diplomas and Doctorates receiving welfare. Some of the finest people I know; some of the best workers I know, at one time received support from the social assistance system. Continue with your unfounded bias and you’re missing out.
  6. Interview integrity. This is an opportunity for both the applicant and your organization. So how about conversing with applicants respectfully. If you’re going to ask them off-the-wall questions about what animal they’d like to be, how would you feel if they asked you in return an equally odd question such as whether you’d like to wear a toupee or a shave your head completely at 45? In the limited time you have to assess this person, treat them with dignity in the interview. Make the most of your questions and respect their time too.
  7. You get what you deserve. Please don’t be one of the organizations that lets new hires go two days before their probation is up as a way to save paying benefits. Do this with regularity and we’ll send you employees that can in our opinion only hold down jobs over a short-term or perhaps none at all. If you want the best, be the best yourself.

Absolutely love to hear from those who interview and hire; business owners and those in Human Resources. There are many poor employers out there with poor hiring practices. Thankfully, there are far more excellent employers out there who recruit, hire and train with integrity and accountability. If people are the most important part of an organization, we collectively need to see them as such at the very first contact.

Will You Admit You’re Biased, Have Preferences And Discriminate?


Discrimination: the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

Discrimination: the ability to discern what is of high quality; good judgment or taste.

Sure you discriminate; so do I for that matter. You and I we have our preferences and they are revealed when we pick up one brand over another in a shopping trip. Why sometimes we’ll pay more for something we see as having higher value. We might stand in a longer line than another if we feel we’ll have a better experience dealing with the ticket taker, the Airport Security or the Cashier at the check out. Why to be a discriminating buyer is a compliment isn’t it; you don’t just, ‘settle’ for things, you have impeccable taste and exercise discriminating judgement. So can we both agree that you and I discriminate? I think so.

Ah but then there’s our first definition of discrimination up there at the top of this piece. This is the definition of discrimination we are likely to want to distance ourselves from; well most of us. We could argue that someone like the current President of the United States is discriminating when he puts forward an, “America first” agenda, or proposes legislation that bans people of certain countries from flying and of course there is his plan to build a wall separating his country from Mexico. Discrimination? Absolutely, yet there he is at the very pinnacle of power and influence. So holding such a polarizing view can get you to the top and apparently allow you to stay there too; at least for a while.

Like you I hope, I’m not in favour of discriminating on the basis of race, age or sex. This being said, there are situations where I do agree one should. Take for example the staff who work in a safe house for women who have been abused. I could be the most empathetic, kind and supportive Crisis Counselling Support Worker out there, but for some woman who has just fled an abusive relationship, all she might see upon entering that safe domain is a male in a position of authority and that could trigger fear, alarm and prevent her from even wanting to be accepted in. No, I agree there are jobs that should still discriminate based on gender.

Now some jobs that in the past were exclusively reserved for one gender or the other have or are in the process of opening up. Nursing used to be a female-only dominated profession. Now of course we see male nurses and I applaud the men who have committed to the profession and aren’t necessarily angling to become Doctor’s; who have reached their goal of working in the medical health field and perform their work with skill and dedication.

Soldiers used to be exclusively male; women were once limited to working in factories to support the war effort, or as I say in the health care field, treating the wounded and dying. Now we’ve reached the point in many countries where women have the option to serve. If that is their wish, and presuming they can match and pass the standards that have been set to keep soldiers trained and ready for battle, than why not?

But it’s this other blatant discrimination that gets most people upset and rebelling against. You know, the employer who denies employment because their skin is of a certain colour, the applicant is too young or old, has no experience at all or is overly qualified. Maybe it’s a person’s sexual preferences, their lifestyle, religious denomination or faith, choice of clothing, height, weight, health etc. There are any number of things we find and hear about where someone is certain they’ve been discriminated against.

We hear hateful discrimination in comments like, “Why don’t you go back where you came from!”, and not only is it hateful, it’s hurtful. Ironically, the victim of such comments isn’t even from a foreign country as the person talking suspects.

Collectively, I believe we have to do better. Isn’t it all about inclusion and not exclusion? Isn’t what we’re striving for really is to be better at choosing to hire people based on their skills and experience? And as for experience, how do people acquire that valuable experience unless somewhere along the line someone gives them that first break; that first opportunity to gain the experience we’ve come to value?

Yet, I know as I suspect you do, that there are employers who favour local experience over experience gained elsewhere. While that can mean a Canadian employer prefers Canadian experience, on a micro level, it can mean an employer prefers to hire someone with work experience in the same city, town or who went the to same school they did. We often hear that people like to hire people who look like them, talk like them, act like them.

Be careful though I say; there is a risk that some excellent people with different backgrounds and different experiences could bring an infusion of energy, better ideas, more innovative methods and practices. If you or I discriminate against these same people, then the opportunities are lost.

So think before we speak, consider before we reject, pause before we act, and make sure we treat others as we’d wish to be treated ourselves.

That’s how I see it anyhow.

 

LinkedIn: How To Get Started


I see a lot of people who started a LinkedIn profile and after spending what looks like 5 minutes on it, apparently gave up. Of those I’ve actually asked about their undeveloped or underdeveloped profiles, the most common response I get is that they joined because somebody said they should, but they didn’t really know why so they never went any further.

Fair enough. To these people; (you perhaps?) I say that if and when you turn up in someone’s search, they will see this poor reflection of you and that then becomes their first impression. If they are an employer, recruiter or potential business partner, they may just believe that if this is you putting in your best effort, maybe you’re actually not worth theirs. After all, if you can’t be bothered to put in the bit of work to present yourself professionally on what is a professional networking platform, you’re hardly likely to put in the effort on the things that are of most importance to them; namely working with them in some capacity.

So here’s a few LinkedIn profile thoughts to get you going. First, add your picture and make it a clear head shot; preferably with a smile on your face and without any distracting background. How do you want to come across to a potential employer? You’re looking to create an image; an emotional connection with whomever looks at it.

Write a summary that tells people who you are, what motivates you, what you’re passionate about or believe. Unlike a résumé, yes go ahead and use the word, “I”, and use first-person language not 3rd person. After all, you want people to believe you wrote this, it wasn’t made by someone else.

When you move into the Employment History or Experience area, don’t just cut and paste your résumé. Whereas your résumé may have bullet points under each job, write in sentences. Consider sharing in each position what you learned, how you improved, what accomplishments you achieved and were proud of. If you’re one of those people who sees this as tooting your own horn, put down what others have said you do exceptionally well.

Start connecting! Begin with those you know such as past or present co-workers, supervisors, friends, customers, associates, peers etc. Now expand your network by searching for others who do similar work to what you do – even if you’ve never actually met. After all, you don’t want to limit yourself to only those you already know. You can learn a lot from reading and thinking about what others in your profession have to say.

As for people who work outside your profession, you may get invites to connect and I’d urge you to do so more often than not. If you limit yourself to only people you know and only people in your profession, you’ll develop a very narrow stream of contacts and by way of those contacts, a limited view of things. Who knows where your future opportunities exist?

Now when you add the endorsements to your profile, consider carefully what you’d like others to endorse you for. The things you choose should be consistent with the skills that are desired in your line of work. You may be good at using Microsoft Word, but is that something that will push your chances of working with others forward? Is that something unique that will impress others? In my case, I’m an Employment Counsellor, so I’ve elected to be endorsed primarily for traits associated with the profession. Helping others with “Job Search” skills is a key thing I do, so that’s what I’ve elected to have on my profile and it syncs with what I do.

Now, think about recommendations. Remember those letters of recommendation from years past that you might have received? They meant something once upon a time, and you’d show up at an interview with them as part of a portfolio; a testament to your abilities. The impact of these is still valuable, so you’d like to get some; I know I value them highly! So it stands to reason others value them too.

Okay, now add your education. Where did you go to school and what courses did you take? Add anything you may have authored or awards and certificates you hold. You’re building up your credentials.

Write a recommendation for a colleague who is on LinkedIn; someone you admire for their skills, support or positive impact on you. How did or do they help you? Taking the time to recommend someone is always appreciated, and they will likely thank you, perhaps even by writing you a recommendation in kind!

Now expand your connections by searching for people who may now work in the organizations you’d like to work at yourself one day. Communicate with them every so often and develop a professional relationship. Don’t connect and 2 minutes later ask for a job. Show some genuine interest in them, ask about what they do, how they got started, trends, insights etc.

This is just a thumbnail sketch of how to get going without delving into the many other features of LinkedIn. Still, if you have a weak profile, using the suggestions here will at the very least get you headed in the right direction. Another tip? Sure. Check out the profiles of others in your line of work and learn from the good ones. You’ll know the difference between the good and the poor ones – believe me.

Dear Employer: On Behalf Of Your Applicants


If you read all the blog posts I’ve penned – yes all 1,197 of them; you’d find that the majority are directed at the people looking to get or keep their employment. The minority of the posts I write are directed at the people who represent the companies that applicants approach for employment. This post is one of them.

So hello there! Whether you’re the owner/operator or an employee yourself tasked with finding the best talent out there to fulfill your needs, I implore you to read the 900 words I’ve put down here and then reflect a little. Please do add your comments from your perspective as that would be very helpful to others.

Okay, so you need a person or people to join your workforce. That’s great news for you and great news for those who are looking to make a contribution and start working with your organization. Understandably time is money and you’d like to get a hold of the best people to choose from in the least amount of time. You and I both know you’ll get applications ranging from highly qualified and professional to hardly qualified at all and desperate.

Sure it would be nice if you only received applications from the cream of the crop out there but there’s a lot of people looking for fewer jobs than exist in our tight economy. Still, behind every application, resume and cover letter, there’s a real person offering up their skills, experience and education to work with your firm. Let’s remember that; those people are…well…people. They’ve got hopes, dreams, and feelings just like you and me.

On behalf of those applying, thanks first of all for including what you’re really looking for in your postings. That saves you and the job seekers time trying to figure out which jobs need what skills and experience. You’ve done your part if you’re clear about these; oh and including a bit about the environment and what the person would actually do is much appreciated. Now it’s up to those applicants to target their applications to your needs.

When you do get applications, I imagine like so many other employers I hear from, you’re a little overwhelmed. It’s flattering actually isn’t it to think so many people were attracted by your advertisement that they applied? On the other hand that’s a lot of applications to go through, especially when you assume you’ll have everything from near perfect candidates to very poor ones. Still, it’s a nicer problem than having too small a number apply and wondering what you have to do to attract the best talent.

I can’t tell you how much just acknowledging you’ve received someone’s application means to those who took the time to apply. The discouragement and disappointment people feel when they pin their hopes on getting an interview and not even getting contacted is extremely distressing. You see it’s not just you they applied to but many jobs with many organizations. It’s pretty hard to consistently be that happy, positive person putting their best foot forward over a prolonged job search.

Just promise to acknowledge all those who apply and you’ll get a reputation for being a compassionate and respectful employer. That would be a good thing wouldn’t it? You know, the kind of employer that really gets it; that empathizes with the applicants they attract. That line in the posting that says, “We appreciate all the applications but only those qualified will be contacted for an interview” wears a little thin when very qualified people apply and don’t even get verification you got the application in the first place.

That takes time of course and someone’s time to respond. That one could argue is the cost of doing business though. You both have needs; you an employee to do work and they a job where they can contribute and produce income.

Everyone knows you can’t hire all the applicants. They get that. What every applicant hopes for though is to be recognized for the effort of the application. Sure you get applications from some that are too general and don’t address your needs. Maybe however those people are doing what they think is right. How will they ever learn what they need to know if they get zero feedback though?

Oh, and could you please stay open to hearing people in interviews and resist the urge to measure them up against your personal prejudices. By prejudices, I mean assuming young people have no maturity or older workers can’t learn anything new and will drain your health care plans. I tell you this; give these two groups of people your open view and you’ll find some real gems.

You wouldn’t believe how appreciative some people with gaps in their resumes will be if you give them a chance. Maybe they cared for a dying parent, raised a family or coped with a broken marriage but now have taken the steps to ensure these factors are no longer a barrier. That would be precisely why they are applying now…they are ready.

Look, you want good people; the best in fact. We all get that. All I’m saying is while you’re not a charity, you can be respectful. Don’t become jaded and just another faceless, uncaring organization. You don’t want that reputation or you’ll attract more of the wrong people.

So, how about your side of things? Comments?

 

Dear Recruiters, Interviewers And Those That Hire


If you are one of the people who advertise for help, decides who makes the short-list to interview and ultimately hires people based on their interview performance, this post is primarily for you.

Let me first share my Employment Counsellor title; so you know the perspective from which I write. I’m not a job seeker, but would really like to have your take and feedback after reading this blog for the benefit of those readers who are searching for employment.

It must be challenging for you as you go about your job these days; what with all the professionals providing job seekers with resume assistance and interview coaching. I can imagine that as you receive so many applications whenever there is a job posting, you must be quite overwhelmed trying to narrow things down, looking in the end to hire that one best candidate. I suppose in the end you hope to decide amongst several excellent candidates; for this way no matter who you choose, you’re getting a strong employee.

What would you like people who are applying for jobs to know about the application process to make your job easier and their chances of being selected better? Do you have any advice from your side of the table during an interview that in your position either enhances or detracts from a person’s chances of getting hired?

As the writer of a blog focusing on providing helpful advice for those looking for work – or looking to keep the work they have – most of my writing is addressed to and focuses on the employee and the applicant. You can see however that here I am opening up a discussion (and I do hope you take the time to express some of your own thoughts however brief or lengthy) to get your perspective first-hand. Even if you don’t identify the company you are employed with, it would be most helpful to job seekers and you of course, to chip in with your thoughts.

Now were I in your role, I’m sure I’d wish people who were best qualified to answer my job postings. It takes time and money after all to go through the process of hiring someone in an organization. There’s the job posting itself – which before it even goes up has to be reviewed to be up-to-date. There are conversations with the actual Supervisor of the potential person to determine their needs. Then the gap of time between the posting and the closing where applications come in and from those that do you must rank them in order to end up with your list of potential interview candidates. How many applications would you receive by the way?

Once that short list is made of people to approach, you have to contact these people and set up interviews; all the time knowing there is still a vacancy and your organization isn’t as productive as it should be without someone doing the work you are looking to have done. How many of the people you do connect with and offer an interview to actually take you up on it? I mean, do you have people who decline an interview because they’ve accepted jobs elsewhere, changed their mind or just don’t respond to messages you’ve left? I wonder too how many times you find yourself impressed with someone and want to interview them based on what you found on paper, but then when you call them, you either can’t leave a message because there is no space to do so, or you find the number not in service.

It must be frustrating at that point, wondering if you have the time to call back a second or third time to offer someone an interview that came across on their resume as an excellent possibility. Do you? I mean do you call back two or three times or do you just move on for the sake of time to another person?

I bet you’ve seen all kinds of behaviour when it comes to interviews too. What for you are the keys to a successful interview that would lead you to extend a job offer? Oh and conversely, what are the behaviours or comments that in your view cause a person to remove themselves from the hiring process? Remember please that you’re the expert my readers would love to benefit from hearing from first-hand. I know that your time and job requirements would be best spent interviewing strong candidates. I’d like to think that reading the thoughts of Recruiters, Interviewers, Human Resources personnel and Hiring Managers would be mutually beneficial for you and for them.

In our times, do you feel overwhelmed with job applications and therefore appreciate and use applicant tracking software or do you have a preference for scanning all those resumes personally? What kind of layout do you prefer? What makes a terrific resume or cover letter – and speaking of cover letters, do you read them? What if you do, are you looking for in a good cover letter?

Beyond these questions, feel free to pass on your thoughts, advice, suggestions and ideas as they pertain to the job application process. Job applicants would love to hear how to improve their chances of getting hired, and you of course would love, I’m sure, to get better quality applications from which to choose.

Thanks for your anticipated input and comments. The floor is yours.

 

Anticipating A New Team Member


At the present moment, the team I’m working on is down a person since last week. There was an unexpected departure when someone resigned their position and so as of now those remaining on the team are stretching ourselves a little bit more than usual until a replacement is hired.

I find myself kind of thinking of this process like an expectant father actually; wondering what kind of person will become part of the family. Some parents hope for a boy or a girl, some start imagining what it will be like to help them grow, anticipating the person they’ll grow into and eventually become.

Likewise, I find myself wondering about this future addition. In all likelihood in this case, the individual will be hired internally as the posting will go this way first and being a unionized environment, I would be shocked if one of my peers doesn’t make the decision to slide from another team to this team. Failing this, there is the strong possibility of another internal employee from another location who will interview and possibly take the job. This is the way things work in unionized organizations, and with every single move, another opening occurs, and someone else takes on a different job until eventually all the internal movement is over and some position goes external.

I find like I said that I’m imagining the kind of person who will join us. Do you do the same when an opening comes up in your workplace? You know, picturing perhaps not the actual person but rather, the desired qualities you’d like to see in your new co-worker?

In my musings, I’d like to see someone who is mature, flexible, creative, genuinely invested in serving those who use our services, and of course dependable. The single most important thing I suppose is someone who is enthusiastic in their work; a genuine team player who understands the inter-dependency of being on a team.

Our team for example, provides front-line employment workshops as well as staffs a drop-in Employment Resource Centre. If you’re not running a workshop, you’re either planning one in the future, meeting with people who have just completed one, or you’re taking your turn helping those in the Centre who drop-in for any number of reasons.

At any time when someone is not available, the rest of the team is required to stretch and determine how best to cover off on whatever role the missing person had for the day. It’s not like we just let that person’s work pile up and it awaits them upon their return.

It’s for this reason that being here is essential. Being ‘here’ by the way has a double meaning; you need to be both physically present and mentally invested; in my opinion anyhow. For me personally, I enjoy working with others who are genuinely focused on – dare I say it – the same things I find important; namely those we serve. How we do that can be different of course but, I do think it’s natural to want to work with people who are all pulling in the same direction.

One thing I also look forward to in a new teammate is someone who brings ideas. Those ideas may stir things up, may initially seem unworkable or too ambitious, but I do enjoy the mental stimulation of entertaining some thought I hadn’t previously considered and hearing it defended or at least explored. This is one way I grow.

The team I’m part of has some pretty strong personalities; I being one of them. That we have at least a few of these types shouldn’t come as a surprise; we’ve got talented people who have had to develop strategies for dealing with a huge range of people that we work with daily. Striving to establish and nurture a working relationship with those we serve is challenging but oh so stimulating!

Now if you were making out your lineup for your own, ‘dream team’, who would you want to work alongside? This is actually a really good exercise to undertake and I highly recommend you do it for real. Taking some time to really think about it, who would you include and why? Who would you remove from your team that you currently count as a team member and why would you remove them?

When you think about people that you work with at present that you’d like to replace with someone else, commit yourself to saying why. Is it just a chemistry thing (“we don’t see eye to eye”) or are there specific actions they take or don’t take that either go against what you’d do personally or what your organization expects. These are important things to think about. Sometimes this can lead to a discussion with that person or have you re-assess your own view of how you see them.

Remember that in sports when some athlete is asked to put together his or her dream team, they pick players from different teams and yet they are still happy to play alongside those on their team they didn’t select. The relationships trump the ‘dream team’ exercise. Likewise you should be able to pick your ‘dream team’ and not insult or feel bad about not including current team members.

I’m looking forward to some future announcement identifying the new arrival. Their arrival will be welcome news for our team, and I’m excited!

Job Interview Anxiety


Many people experience unwanted anxiety when they are told they have successfully applied to a job and have been granted an interview. What they feel often becomes crippling; the mounting pressure building until it is almost paralyzing making the person incapable of making a genuinely good first impression.

For those of us who actually look forward to job interviews and don’t feel this same apprehension, try equating the fear and anxiety experienced by others as the same dread you might feel yourself in some other part of your life. Suppose you opt to renovate your bathroom, need your fan belt and brakes replaced or even having end-of-life discussions with your own parent. There are undoubtedly areas in your own life where you feel anxious, stressful and some kind of mounting pressure.

The key difference between all those other examples I listed above and a job interview, is that while you could get someone else to fix your car, renovate the bathroom or address end-of-life issues, you have to enter the interview room by yourself and succeed in it by yourself. So is it this feeling of performance some fear and in that performance the dread of failing that is at play? Perhaps, but not entirely.

Some other issues that cause anxiety have to do with being judged. You are judged to have performed well enough to get the job, or perhaps to get a second interview – ironically in this situation as having performed well but now having additional anxiety over a second interview and feeling increased pressure to perform a notch higher. And while some people think the level of anxiety rises when the importance of the job itself is higher, there are a great number of people who feel immense anxiety when going for what are generally considered to be entry-level jobs. To them, their anxiety is just as real as the high rollers going for corporate executive jobs.

I hear many people say they wish they could by-pass the job interview entirely and just apply for a job and be told when they start. Wishing and hoping for this to happen however is more fantasy than reality. Employers look at the interview as their chance to meet a potential employee, hear them speak, visualize them in the workplace working alongside other employees, checking for the chemistry that will exist if they are hired etc.

One piece of good advice to consider is to be genuine in the interview. Sometimes you might hear this expressed as, “just be yourself”. If you can be genuine in the interview but at the same time ratchet up your professionalism, you stand an excellent chance of finding the right fit. By ratcheting up your professionalism, I simply mean that there are times when you are on your best behaviour in life but true to who you are, and the job interview is one of those times. If the employer likes you for who you are then you’ve found a good fit. If you are genuine but the employer passes you over for someone else, it may be that the job wouldn’t have been a good fit for them, for you or both.

Now back for a moment to fixing your car, renovating your basement or having that end-of-life discussion etc. mentioned at the outset of this piece. Were you in any of those situations, good advice would be to do a little reading, (possibly a lot of reading!) on the subject you were about to tackle. You might want to experiment on cutting a piece of pipe and soldering it back together before you shut off the water and cut your bathroom sink lines for the first time. That experimental run through builds one’s confidence to repeat that success on the important job. In your mind, you can easily recall the success you had earlier, and so you go at it with confidence.

Job interviews are much the same. Reading up on the company, knowing the job you are applying to, and having a few mock interviews to build your confidence has the same impact; your confidence rises and your anxiety decreases. The mechanic who has installed thousands of brakes is confident and feels very little apprehension and anxiety when compared to the rookie apprentice doing it for the first time when the customer is in the waiting area.

Does it make much sense then to put off practicing and going through a few dry runs before going to the interview you place so much importance in? Probably not if we are being honest. The people who tend to, ‘wing it’ usually do poorly. Charm and good manners might get you past the, “Tell me about yourself”, question but that’s it. Without practice and confidence, we’d see that same person grow increasingly anxious under scrutiny; and that anxiety tends to manifest itself in sweating, fidgeting, finger-tapping and losing good eye contact.

So, read up on the company, go over the skills and qualification in the job posting, practice your interview with someone who will give you honest feedback. Breathe! View this interview as a conversation you are having about an opportunity. You have needs and so do they. You need a job, they need a qualified employee.

Build your confidence on small successes. Smile. And the more interviews you get, the better you’ll perform.

All the best to you today!