The Definitive Guide to Job Hunting

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market in the 21st Century

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Guide to #Job Hunting – The power of “No”

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I find it interesting how difficult it is for some people to say No.

Sometimes, saying No seems to equate with not being nice or courteous, it seems improper to just say “No thank you”. So people sometimes say yes when they shouldn’t because they try to be nice.

Not saying “No” can lead to problems and raise false expectations where honesty might have been the best policy. Being true to oneself, and standing by the decisions you make, is a skill and ability that is invaluable in business. Being decisive and firm about what you do or do not want will establish an impression of being trustworthy and consistent. This is absolutely imperative when you are looking for you next career move.

Example: I have a candidate’s CV on my database. My immediate assumption is that he is looking for another job – Otherwise how would his details get on my database? I am very selective with whose details I keep and I qualify candidates fully every time. After all, circumstances change all the time.

When I call to discuss the job with him, he expresses interest and I submit his details. I make it clear that this must be a two way process: I do this with all my candidates. They don’t have to accept every role I offer them, and I certainly don’t co-erce them into anything just for the sake of it. Experience has taught me that this style of recruitment is a recipe for disaster.

An interview is offered – He accepts but on the day of the interview asks to reschedule. That is no problem, my client is amenable so the date changes. He goes to the interview and does a really good job, so the client wants to see him again. The feedback is very positive and he appears thrilled.

On the day of the second interview, I get an email to say that he can’t get the time off work so he wants to withdraw so that he doesn’t cause any inconvenience. I hear alarm bells and call him talk through the situation. He says he will be happy to reschedule so my client, again, offers a new date, as the candidate will be on holiday. Again, I make sure that he is really up for this and give him a chance to say no. He doesn’t.

Guess what? On the day of the rearranged, second interview, I get another email to say he has been called away to India for 3 weeks so he isn’t going to the interview. My client is terribly disappointed, they wanted to offer him the job at the interview. The candidate does not answer his phone or return calls or emails. However his LinkedIn profile is active as he is shown to link up with other recruitment agents.

My final assumption is that he was just fishing, and was never serious about finding a new role.

So we are back to square 1. But this is what I don’t understand: If he said no, and he had opportunities at every stage of the process to do so, it would have saved my client a lot of money and time. It would have saved me time and aggravation. It would have saved his own reputation.

I think there is a moral in this story – Somewhere!

 

Definitive Guide to #Job Hunting: 7 ways to fail at Interviews

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Interview fail

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mistake #1: Drop your guard in front of “the help.”

Interviewing is stressful. Sometimes you just want to explode. But don’t. At least not in front of anyone who could influence the hiring decision.

Ron Panaggio, regional HR manager for security systems provider SimplexGrinnell recalls one candidate who took himself out of the running when he thought no one was looking. After meeting with Mr. X, a strong contender, Panaggio, who was then working for Emery Worldwide in New York, asked the receptionist who greeted the candidate to share her impressions. Turns out, Mr. X had launched into a profanity-laced tirade about the company’s lack of visitor parking spaces.

Panaggio notes that although the guy may have had a point — the parking situation wasn’t ideal — his delivery, and his questionable decision to attack his would-be employer set off warning signals. “If he was that critical about parking, we could only imagine how he was going to react to substantive policies that he disliked,” says Panaggio.

Employers know that job seekers interact with receptionists and other support staffers — often with their guards down. “They don’t see those people as decision makers, so they tend to be more genuine in their interactions with them,” says Panaggio. But employers routinely ask these employees for feedback. “We like to see whether the interview persona matches the unscripted persona that walks through the door,” says Panaggio. Consider that the next time you’re waiting for a tardy interviewer (who’s probably busy and making do with a reduced staff).

Mistake #2: Over share.

Candidates worried about explaining employment gaps on their resumes have been getting way too personal, says Wanda Cole-Frieman, an executive recruiter. While she enjoys building rapport with the applicants she meets, certain topics are off-limits — or should be. They include descriptions of your medical conditions and information about your sick parents or childcare woes.

It’s not just a matter of propriety. Chatty candidates put interviewers in an awkward position when they raise issues that could identify them as members of a legally protected class. Cole-Frieman recalls that one of her colleagues was forced to contact the legal department for guidance after a candidate announced that he used marijuana for medical purposes. The legal drug use wasn’t a dealbreaker, but raising such issues won’t endear you to interviewers. “We’re trained to say, ‘Thanks for sharing, but we don’t consider those factors in its hiring decisions,’” says Cole-Frieman.

Mistake #3: Assume your resume speaks for itself.

Your resume may have helped you get the interview, but it won’t get you hired. Susan Strayer, a career coach who also works in corporate HR for a Fortune 500 company, urges job seekers to go out of their way to connect the dots for interviewers, highlighting their work experiences with stories that clearly describe what they accomplished in each role and how it relates to the position they are seeking. Don’t assume that your interviewer is familiar with obscure acronyms and non-intuitive job titles that have no significance outside the organizations that use them.

Strayer recalls meeting with an unsuccessful candidate who breezed through his resume, touting his “A-76 experience,” a term that meant nothing to her at the time, and never pausing to explain it. Strayer says he would have been better-served by taking a moment to add, “If you’re not familiar with A-76, it’s a government mandate to ensure tasks are performed in the most cost-efficient way. My role on the A-76 project was to…”

Mistake #4: Show the interviewer how important you are.

You’ve got places to go and people to see — we get it, you’re a big deal. But when an employer has taken the time to meet with you, your undivided attention is a must. “You’d think it was a joke, but employers tell us about candidates who check voicemail and e-mail, text, and even take phone calls during the interview,” says Corinne Gregory, president of Social Smarts, a program that teaches social skills, primarily to young people.

Note to Gen-Yers (and iPhone addicts of all ages): Acing the interview is your primary mission. If you lack the impulse control to keep your hands off your phone, leave it behind.

Mistake #5: Talk the employer out of hiring you.

Especially in this tight job market, you may find yourself interviewing for positions you would ordinarily consider beneath you. That’s what happened to Russ Merbeth, now an attorney with Integra Telecom when he applied for an in-house counsel position with another company. During two days of interviews, Merbeth says he expressed his doubts about the position, which he viewed as poorly conceived and not perfectly suited to his talents. “I basically rewrote the job description for them,” he says. Not surprisingly, they hired someone else.

While Merbeth’s story ended happily — eventually — he would have been wiser to keep his options open. “Always close strong, and get the job,” he says. “You can reject it later.” It’s advice you likely won’t hear from recruiters, but then they’ve already got a job.

Mistake #6: Stalk your recruiter.

There’s a fine line between enthusiastic and desperate, and you don’t want to cross it. Human resources consultant Jessica Miller-Merrell was impressed following her interview of a VP-level candidate for a position with OfficeMax, where she worked at the time. The guy was one of two finalists for the job — until the phone calls.

Two days after the interview, Miller-Merrell was out of the office, attending an all-day training. She had forwarded her office calls to her cell phone and noticed 15 hang-ups, all from the once promising candidate. Though he finally left a message (about a matter so trivial that Miller-Merrell can’t remember its substance) the obsessive hang-ups left a negative impression on her. “Someone at this level should be able to maintain composure and professionalism at all times,” she says.

Mistake #7: Treat social media communications casually.

These days, many employment relationships begin — or end — with social media. To ensure that yours falls into the former category, heed this tale.

Mark Sullivan, director of talent acquisition for Time Warner Cable in Austin, Texas, posted a link to a Senior VP-level job description that he needed to fill on LinkedIn. Among the candidates who responded, was a woman who wrote, “Dear Mark, That link don’t[sic] work.” Her next sentence began with a lowercase letter and was missing a crucial “the.”

“Whether you’re using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or instant or text messaging, you still have to be professional in every communication related to your job search,” says Sullivan. So, keep yourself in the running by proofreading before you hit “send.”

Courtesy of www.bnet.com

Guide to #Job hunting: 5 Mistakes hiring companies make

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hiring-mistakes-300x225Over the past 24 years in recruitment, I have probably seen the best and worst of hiring strategies and recruitment errors. In the past, companies got away with making crucial errors in their recruitment processes or hiring decisions because the market was soft and it was easy to rectify the mistake (usually a miss-hire) by finding a replacement. But as the jobs market becomes more and more competitive this is no longer possible, and the cost in time and pain of miss-hiring is no longer that easy to overcome.

If you are a candidate seeking another job, then being aware of these pitfalls will assist you in judging whether you are in a process that will succeed or fail. There is a far better chance of getting a stable, long-term new job if you can identify selection processes that are not going to be prone to hiring errors.

These are the main pitfalls:

1. Lack of a clear objective

Often, hiring companies aren’t specific enough about the duties, skills, and competencies they need.  Concocting “wish lists” of super-human attributes, combined with unrealistically low pay scales relative to expectations of the experience needed, will create havoc in a talent search. Hazy, ambiguous descriptions along with generalities like “good written and oral communication skills” don’t help either. It is much easier to hit a clearly defined target. This does of course mean going back to the basics of developing a job and person specification, but the longer term benefits are real and calculable.

2. Having an unrealistic idea of what kind of candidates might be available and the money it may take to hire them.

There is no such thing as the perfect candidate, and waiting for one is as unrealistic as searching for one. The only way to become realistic about what the market might bear is to research it, especially in this economic climate as it changes so rapidly. Know what and who is available and the commensurate earnings expected and then plan accordingly. The number of quality candidates active in the market is drastically lower than it was even last year. My clients are often shocked that the salaries locked in by inflexible pay structures won’t allow them to hire the quality or experience they wish for. The rules of supply and demand are in play here: Good skills and experience have become a commodity and this is driving up salaries, whilst also limiting the candidate pool. I’m not saying throw all caution to the wind. I am saying be prepared to negotiate to attract the best talent, or be satisfied with the second choice.

3. The confused objectives of too many or inappropriate decision makers 

Studies have shown that once the number of people in the interviewing and hiring process exceeds three, the probability of a bad hire is greater. The reason so many people are usually involved in the interviewing and hiring process is that organisations, naturally, want to spread the risk of decision-making. But better hiring decisions would probably be made if only a small number of people (In my view, 2 is optimum) manage the process objectively.

But having the wrong people in the decision making process is equally risky. Most managers will claim that hiring good people is the second or third most important function they have, right behind making a profit. So why delegate screening or interviewing of candidates to subordinates who have no real understanding of the organisation’s needs, or subordinates with hidden agendas? If hiring is one of a manager’s most important functions, he or she should take the time and make the effort to do the whole job from start to finish. How can they afford not to?

4. Processes that take too long.

It used to take about 30 days to fill a vacant position. Now it takes between 90 and 120!  And even longer for more senior or complex roles. When the hiring process takes too long, good candidates are lost to more decisive companies, it refelcts badly on the hiring company’s brand, and it gets harder and harder to fill the vacancy. The “shelf life” of quality candidates is increasingly short – This has now become a competition! Maintaining the momentum with candidates (Especially after the first interview, when only the one or two “choice” candidates remain) is crucial to keep them motivated about the process. If things take too long to progress, they simply lose interest and wander off to find other employers who respond more rapidly. Slick, quick process impress candidates and make them feel worthy of a job in the organisation. Slow processes that crawl at a snail’s pace, laden with red tape, puts calibre candidates off and might be a crucial element should they have to decide between two job offers.
5. Poor interviewing techniques.

Preparing a list of questions to ask every candidate, recording the answers, and comparing the responses (Quickly) equate to efficient and objective recruitment. Sadly, this rarely happens.

It is often down to a lack of experience on the itnerviewer’s behalf. After all, its not something they do every day. “Tell me about yourself” is the first question down the wrong road. Most interviewers start with random questions to “get to know the candidate” and never recover. They make copious notes, and then three weeks later try to compare the candidates about whom they remember very little.

A structured, disciplined interview technique that is applied to every candidate in exactly the same manner is the only real way to compare candidates. It is so simple and yet so seldom practiced.  Tight, controlled interview processes with rigid structures applied fairly across all candidates, in a short space of time, deliver the best results. It might be worth bringing an experienced interviewer into the process and to rather observe than conducting the interview personally – This is a real and practised technique that delivers results when a decision maker lacks confidence or experience to interview.

Help for ex-#Unipart #Automotive staff. Definitive Guide to #Job Hunting: Understanding social media

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I'm onlineJust about everyone is using Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to network – both for personal and professional reasons. Are you ready for companies and recruiters to find you on all these social media sites? If not, you should be.

Companies and recruitment agencies are increasingly using social recruiting to source candidates for employment, as well as to investigate applicants they are considering hiring. It’s important to be aware of how companies are using social media to recruit, so you can use employers’ recruiting tactics to your advantage and position yourself to be discovered by companies seeking candidates.

Romany Thresher is the MD of Direct Assist, a company that provides Social Media assistance for business owners and busy consultants who need help increasing their online visibility. She says:
“I believe social media is creating an equal opportunities and business without borders market.  We are no longer limited to the confines of our cities and countries.  If you are struggling to find work because of your location, background, or lack of job opportunities you can find work online using social media.  The top 10 demand jobs in 2014 did not exist in 2004.  Early adopters of the new communications medium will stand out from the crowd of people who are still looking for jobs using old methods.

Living in a virtual world almost 24/7 I see a trend taking place where the best positions, business and career opportunities are being taken by those who are connected and building their network. Invariably, someone will know someone who needs what you have to offer.”

But remember, even if you’re only using these sites for personal networking, it doesn’t prevent your employer or prospective employers from checking out what you post.

An inappropriate post on a networking site could knock you out of contention for a new job, or even cost you the job you already have. Every single tweet you post can be found on Google and they can come back to haunt you.

What Not to Do When Using Social Media

  • Don’t embarrass yourself.
  • Be aware that people are reading everything you post.
  • Don’t say anything about your boss online that you wouldn’t say to him or her in person.
  • Don’t take a chance of hurting your career.
  • Don’t do it on your bosses time if you are lucky enough to be in employment

Positioning Yourself for Social Media Success

So what can you do to use social media to boost your career and enhance your prospects of finding a job? How can job seekers capitalize on what companies are doing?

Social recruiting is a new endeavor for many companies and they are still experimenting with what works from a recruiting perspective, and what doesn’t. That means there are no hard and fast rules on how to connect and position yourself to be found, but there are tactics you can use to make the right connections with people in your industry and career field.

It’s important to communicate with connections in your industry, even when you don’t need them. Starting when you already need a job is really too late. Take some time, every day, to connect with who you know and who you don’t know – yet. However, don’t just connect with random people. Identify those with whom you have something in common: education,  industry, experience, professional associations, etc.

Networking Before You Need To

Build your network well in advance of when you need it. Talk to your connections on Twitter or the other networking sites. Join Groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, post and join discussions. Be engaged and proactive in your communications. By building a network in advance, you won’t have to scramble if you unexpectedly lose your job or decide it’s time to move on.

The contacts you make online will help you transition from technology to person-to-person communications. For example, a relevant tweet can lead to an @reply (a reply in response to your post) or a DM (direct message) from a hiring manager.

Use your online connections to connect with ‘real people’ online. These human connections will serve you well in the long run and help you get a foot in the door at companies of interest.

Growing Your Network

Are you active on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook? How broad is the base of contacts you’ve made?  All those contacts ) are there if I need them, and you can help them, as well.

Take it one step at a time – and one contact at a time – and you’ll be able to build your own career network. It won’t happen overnight, but it doesn’t have to. Work on your network when time permits, remembering that your network might be key to getting your next job.

Then be sure to use your network wisely and carefully, thinking carefully about what you post, so you’re using it to help, not hinder, your job search.

My Easter message

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EasterEaster has always been a time of reflection for me.

Where I grew up in South Africa, Easter falls in the early autumn. It starts getting cooler, the nights draw in and mothers start cooking vegetable soup. It’s a time for slowing down, for taking respite and for re-calibrating.

Here in the UK, Easter is a time of re-awakening. It’s early spring, the daffodils and crocuses bloom and everything is springing back to life after the winter. We all rejoice in British Summer Time!

Of course, we all know that Easter is not really about hopping bunnies and chocolate, Easter bonnets and chocolate, and more chocolate on top of the chocolate we already ate.

Easter has it’s own meaning for everyone. For me, it’s about being grateful and taking time to contemplate how generous life is with it’s gifts. I seem to be getting a lot more philosophic as I get older. And I like it that way! It has improved my quality of life immensely.

So my Easter wish for you and yours is that you may have the luxury of making space for a bit of gratitude. (And of course, chocolate!)

I am grateful for so many good things – Physical, professional, emotional, spiritual, both business-wise and personal. The list will go on forever! So instead of boring you witless, I would simply like to wish everyone a truly blessed Easter.

 

Guide to Job Hunting – New Year, New You, New Job?!

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New Year

At the start of every new year, we all make resolutions of those things we would like to do or change during the next year. It’s a bit like spring cleaning: Sweeping out the tired old year to allow the new year to bring in a fresh outlook, new challenges, and renewed energies.

Often, finding a new job is at the top of our list.

But is it wise to simply just cast yourself into the job market, without being aware of what exactly it is you want to change?

Without actually understanding and being clear on why you are looking to leave your current job, you may not recognise what it is what you are looking for in a new employer.

Does money matter?

Better compensation is very rarely the true reason for people to leave jobs.  In most cases, it is only a symptom of a more complex issue. We need to work in a place that is fair, trustworthy, and deserving of an individual’s best efforts in order to feel valued, respected and secure.  Through the recession, your employer may not have been able to provide the pay increases you were able to achieve in the past.But often, people will stay employed in jobs that are underpaid because the other elements are provided for sufficiently for money not to be an overwhelming issue.

Where is the crunch?

Before you decide to leave, consider the following statements about your job and employer:

  • I am able to grow and develop my skills on the job and through training.
  • I have opportunities for advancement or career progress leading to higher earnings.
  • My job makes good use of my talents and is challenging.
  • I receive the necessary training to do my job capably.
  • I can see the end results of my work.
  • I receive regular feedback on my performance.
  • Competition is constructive, and colleagues are not pitted against each other to perform.
  • The communication channels are clear and open. I know how to address problems, and I’m confident that they will be addressed fairly and objectively.
  • I’m confident that if I work hard, do my best, demonstrate commitment, and make meaningful contributions, I will be recognized and rewarded accordingly.

Yes or no?

The above details the most common reasons, through research by Forbes magazine, of why people leave their jobs. They should give you a pretty good idea of where your niggles lie. If you can’t argue with any of them, make sure you have a clear reason for moving. Possibly, your issue might be sorted out without taking that serious final step.

However, if you do find areas that you are not comfortable with, then make sure you research any potential new employer to make sure you don’t walk into exactly the same situation again.

Happy new year!

Once you have cleared this with yourself, and you understand your own expectations, good luck! The jobs market is dynamic at the moment, and hiring in 2014 is set to be competitive, especially for candidates in scarce skill areas. Find a good Recruitment Consultant who can give you industry and career advice, and who will support your endeavour.

Everyone deserves to be fulfilled in their working life. Go for it!

Guide to job hunting: Get your Elevator Pitch sorted out!

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Image“Tell me about yourself ….” How often is this question asked in job interviews?!

It appears in most of the “Worst interview questions” lists. But simplistic, general and non-specific as it is, its is also a clever question used by the astute interviewer to assess a myriad of selection criteria. Especially when attention to detail, getting to the point quickly and focussing on what is important, appear high on the selection agenda.

This question is usually asked at the start of the interview. With this in mind, there are ways to prepare for it properly, so that you can get into the more detailed parts of the interview. Answering it well will make a good impression early on, but waffling and getting it wrong might shoot you in the foot totally, or set you back apace.

Getting an Elevator Pitch is a good way to approach this. Wikipedia defines an elevator pitch as a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its value proposition. The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes. So you have now become your own product, with features and benefits relevant to the job specification!

There is also a strong likelihood that the follow-on questions will be based on the way you answer this question. So delivering a strong answer through your Elevator Pitch will certainly assist you in directing part of  the interview, or at least give you a chance to introduce yourself fully and mention some working strengths early on in the interview.

Where to go with this:

1. DO start with you:

Obviously! But keep it short. Don’t start way back when, just give very broad brush strokes about the personal stuff because this is a job interview, so you should focus on your working background. But it is good to give a warm introduction to yourself, to personalise the meeting and to display your well-rounded background.

2. Do talk about your education:

Where you studied, what, and why you chose those subjects in particular. Especially if you are an Engineer or if you are being interviewed for a technical job, this is highly relevant. Again, broad strokes are better than finite detail, just give them a flavour so that they can probe it later on.

3. Do mention your experience:

This is where you can direct the interview, to a point. This is really the detail that the interviewer is after and they might interject with questions. Invite questions by talking about your relevant skills or experience. Allow the first question to develop into the rest of the interview as it follow a natural conversational course.

What not to do:

1. Don’t talk about salary at this point. Wait for the question to be asked.

2. Don’t go into unnecessary detail. Value your interviewer’s time.

3. Don’t  waffle on. Use your elevator pitch and allow the interviewer to drive the conversation

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