Business Topics

Want a job? Four reasons you must follow-up 0

Recently I presented my “You’re Hired” keynote for the New Jersey Department Of Labor’s Jersey Job Club

Interview, job search requires thank you notesThere were many excellent  questions both before and after my presentation. One stood out in my mind. Tim (not his real name) asked:

“Why should  I spend money to send a thank-you card if I felt the interviewer was not interested in me?”

Several audience members almost jumped out of their seats. Each said the cost of a stamp and five minutes of their time was minimal compared to the potential of a job offer. One person told of getting a call after sending a thank you note. In the note,  she had offered several suggestions to a problem the interviewer had told her the company was facing. She ended up landing the job.

Tim’s question reminded me of a job offer I once received after sending a thank you card and later following up with a phone call. I was immediately asked to come to the office and was hired  when I walked in the door. I was actually told by the interviewer  that my follow-up was the reason I was offered the job. It was the final test.

Back at the Jersey Job Club, I spoke with Tim.  He was missing the point about what a thank you note is about.

  • Tim did not see the chance to add value by sending the note.
  • He did not see the chance to separate himself from other candidates by highlighting an aspect of the interview.
  • He did not see he could share additional information about something the interviewer asked.
  •  Tim did not see that he could include information about a shared hobby, his answer to a company challenge that was discussed or an idea sparked by the interviewers questions.

A few days later, I received an email from Tim. He had re-thought the ideas we had discussed. He saw the value of consistent, specific, follow-up. Tim said he is now investing in his future when he mails a card.

Following up with a snail mail card is more than an obligation. It is a chance to stand out, to show your value to  an employer. Done right, the next thing you sign after the thank you card will be all of the forms during your new hire orientation.

With only 346 days left in 2013, what future are you going to create? 1

Joel Quass asks what are your goals in 2013?

What do you see this year?

I have read dozens of articles about making New Year’s resolutions, both pros and cons. Many state that the very act of writing resolutions down helps solidify them in your sub conscious, and you are more likely to achieve them. Others quote Napoleon Hill and say, loosely paraphrased, “New Year’s Resolutions made without any action towards their achievement, are merely dreams”.

This morning I read – Strategy? Gut or Intuition? on LinkedIn. The author ends stating:

THE BEST WAY TO PREDICT THE FUTURE IS TO CREATE IT.

Without going into the debate about self-determination, I want to encourage finding that scrap of paper where you wrote your New Year’s Resolutions. If they are not on paper yet,  jot them down and tape them to the side of your computer monitor.

Sure there are only 346 days left in the year. But if you use them wisely, you can create a future that more closely mirrors your expectations.

Do you really want a better job in 2013? 0

 

The more I hear from recruiters, the more I believe some people really don’t want a new job. Sure they say they want a better job, they say they are looking, they say they are serious, but… they do not want to do the work required to land a new job.

It reminds me of the verse in Choo Choo Ch’Boogie by Asleep At the Wheel

I need some compensation to get back in the black,

I take the morning paper from the top of the stack,

I read the situation from the front to the back,

the only job that’s open needs a man with a knack,

so I put it right back in the stack.”

In 2013, if you really want a better job, resolve to do the work to get it.

Job Seeker Tip #32 – Never Chew Gum During An Interview 1

Recently I was asked for tips on acing a job interview. After giving the matter some thought, I came up with 101 Job Seeker Tips.

Today I want to tell you about tip #32 – Never chew gum during an interview.

I’m sure you will see why.

“this job” vs. “I’ll take whatever” – Three ways to focus 1

Resume must match Job listing, management position

Is your resume specific enough?

As the days turn into weeks, the weeks into months, it is easy to say “I’ll take whatever job comes along”. This then changes the tone of your cover letter and resume. You start to show yourself as a jack-of-all- trades. The downside to this is you may be perceived as a master-of -none.

The more you tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific job listing, the more likely someone reviewing your information will see a connection. Being one of several hundred generic applicants, you will not stand out. Some recruiters would say that the more generic the résumé, the more desperate the job seeker. So stay the course and focus on the following:

1. Take the time to read the entire job listing

2. Craft your cover letter and resume to specific, measurable requirements for this job

3. Do this for each listing you apply for; never just copy and paste your resume

Doing this you may feel you are limiting your possibilities for employment. But how many generic resumes and cover letters have you sent out? How many have resulted in a call for a first interview?

Focus on the key requirements for the position and highlight them in your cover letter and resume. Then be ready to talk about them because the phone will be ringing soon.

Have You Given Yourself Permission To Succeed? 0

The Atlantic

Are you uncomfortable bringing up salary during an interview? Do you assume that the employer will let you know when to talk about compensation? During the hiring process, did you negotiate your starting salary?  Do men and women approach this differently?

Take a look at today’s article, Negotiate,  in The Atlantic by Eleanor Barkhorn.  In it she documents work done on salary negotiation by men and women . One of the key requirements is permission.

In March I wrote a blog post  about successful job applicants. 1.3 million jobs created – Five reasons why you did not get one In it, I talked about permission.

I give you permission to re-read this entry and be successful in your salary negotiations.

What’s a good manager worth? 2

As a manager, what are you worth?

Much has been written about the value of CEOs. Companies justify huge bonuses and compensation packages to keep top talent from moving on. But what about middle management, department managers, shift managers? How can their worth be measured?

The National Bureau of Economic Research published a working paper written by Edward P Lazear, Kathryn L. Shaw and Christopher T. Stanton . It is titled The Value of Bosses. What I found exciting is they looked at value from a productivity standpoint.  There were three conclusions:

  1. The choice of boss matters. There is substantial variation in boss quality as measured by the effect on worker productivity. The average boss is about 1.75 times as productive as the average worker
  2. A boss’s primary activity is teaching skills that persist.
  3. Efficient assignment allocates the better bosses to the better workers because good bosses increase the productivity of high quality workers by more than that of low quality workers.

Simply put, you can get more out of your better workers when they are led by a better boss. Better bosses teach. Better bosses inspire.

Better bosses make their employees more efficient. Michael Quinlan as President of McDonald’s Corporation said that “one of the most important aspects of his job-and one at which he spends approximately one-third of his time-was cutting red tape.

Productivity is a wonderful measure of worth. As a manager, you create value for your team (and for yourself) when productivity increases. Every one of us as managers should look at the value we are currently providing and make sure we are doing the things that will continue to show our worth as boss.

The Three C’s of Interviews – Two land the interview, the third lands the job 5

Has this ever happened to you? You hear about a job and review the posting. The job description reads just like your resume. You have done everything that the company is looking for. Your references and your on-line presence confirm you are that person. You apply and get a call for an interview. The job seems destined to be yours! But something goes a little sideways during the actual interview and two weeks later you learn they hired someone else. What happened?

Employers really are only looking for three things.  The first two are what get you into their office for the interview. The third is what actually gets you the job. 

The Three C’s of Interviews are:

  1. Capability
  2. Character
  3. Compatibility

First, they want to know if you can do the job. Some major employers now use keyword software to sift through on-line applications looking for specific skills. Make sure you read the posting completely and include references to the exact skills being advertised.

Second, employers want someone they can trust.  Be sure to coach your references so they know what position you are applying for. Remind them of specific projects that you were involved in so they have a positive story to tell about your abilities. And review your on-line presence. Know what an employer will see when they Google your name.

The third C is the hardest to measure. Before the interview make sure you have done your homework about the company, the industry and the major players in the organization. As you enter the building, the office or the conference room, you must be observant. Look at the posters and pictures on the walls. How are the employees interacting? Are there clues you can pick up about the culture?

Years ago I had an interview for a management position.  The Executive I was to speak with was seated at his desk. Behind him was a huge photo of a sailboat. I was the Commodore of our sailing team in college and had lived on a sailboat for a year between high school and college. It was very easy to find a mutual interest that showed the interviewer I was compatible. Conversely, at another company the poster behind the interviewer said “we are going to have a sales contest, the winner gets to keep their job”. That was a very different kind of interview.

In the end, you can feel pretty confident that you have gotten past the first two C’s when they call you for an interview. Your job during the interview is to make them “C” you fitting in. Do that and you will be sitting in a new hire orientation for your new job.

The 9 Hour, 12 minute and 36 second challenge 1

How do you spend your workday? On average, a full-time American worker spends 9 hours, 12 minutes and 36 seconds working and commuting. Do you enjoy what you do? Can you honestly say “I can’t believe they are paying me to do this?

I spent a summer during college working for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. My job was to collect water samples in the Chesapeake Bay. I would tow an 18 foot Grady-White motor boat with twin Mercury outboards to different rivers that feed into the Bay. I would then follow the incoming tide, stopping to take water samples at designated intervals. One overcast day I saw two water spouts dancing around the mouth of the York River. I saw magnificent sunrises, sunsets and met interesting people at every marina I stopped at. “I couldn’t believe they were paying me to do what I would have done for free”.

Ok, you’ve got me. Having a summer job and “working for a living” is not the same thing. But, the closer you can get to that feeling, the more satisfaction you will get from your 9 hours, 12 minutes and 36 seconds.

Where did everybody go? 5

Labor Day Holiday

The last week of “summer” is usually marked by a lack of productivity. As the Labor Day sales ads hit the airwaves, people who have not taken a vacation jump ship and head for the beach.  Many have already taken this week off, knowing that their plates will be full after Labor Day.

There are many signs that this week is not about work. On a Macro-scale, volume on the NYSE drops significantly. This year is no exception. On a micro-scale, many of my Facebook friends are posting vacation pictures. Re-tweets to my Twitter posts are down this week. On LinkedIn, there are very few new connection updates being posted. Traffic to my blog is down for the first time this year.

I have not joined the ranks of the vacationers yet. But I hear the weekend calling and I will soon yield to its call. If you don’t hear from me until Tuesday, you will know why.

Enjoy the holiday!