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.




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 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.