Monthly Archives: October 2015
All creativity begins with the moment of conception.
That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.
Hire people to amplify what you do. When it comes to creative work, there’s nothing wrong with being a control freak. The fiercely independent artist deserves sovereignty over their work. But you can’t do everything yourself forever. There comes a point in every creator’s life when you have to defer. You have to hire people to amplify what you do. Otherwise you impose a ceiling on the level of impact you can have. Over the years, I’ve contracted dozens of designers, illustrators, developers, coders, editors, researchers, programmers, virtual assistants, audio engineers and public relations specialists. Each one of these people filled in the skills gap when I surpassed the perimeter of my competence. And with their support, all of my projects grew light years beyond what could have been possible on my own. That’s a form of creativity too. The resourcefulness to find the people who can help you become what you need to be. Because if you pick the right people, all you have to do as the artist is cast a vision, sit back and watch them do their magic. It’s actually quite liberating. Once you let go of trying do everything, it feels like you can do anything. Who was the last person you paid real money to amplify what you do?
The direct relationship between passion and ownership. I love a good recruiting montage. Any movie where the main character has to assemble his dream team for the final showdown at the end of the third act is entertaining and interesting to me. Then again, it’s also a warning. Because it’s hard to be passionate about somebody else’s dream. No matter how much you pay, how exciting the project or how inspiring the vision, other people will always have a limited capacity to come aboard your ship. There’s only a finite amount of fire available. And so, when you’re sitting across the table from somebody you’ve enlisted, wondering why they aren’t as excited as you are, try not to get too frustrated. Because it’s not their dream. And nobody will ever care as much as you will. But don’t let that scare you away from breathing in help. Success never comes unassisted. Besides, asking for helping doesn’t make you bad, incompetent or in the debt of the helper. It makes you a leader. It makes you resourceful. So let it be okay that you need other people. Admit that you need their help, ask them to give it to you, accept it, and then appreciate it when they’re done. And don’t be afraid to give them enough rope to find something better than what you came up with. Are you afraid to bring people into your dream?
The wall of how is crumbling. My mentor once told me, do everything yourself until you don’t have to. That’s good advice. But what’s interesting is, that timeline is longer than it used to be. Fifty, twenty, even ten years ago, artists had no choice but to find people to fill in the gaps of their capabilities. Of course, that before the sum of all human knowledge was free and available to all. Now, thanks to the magic of web, the wall of how is crumbling. Now, not knowing how to do something has zero bearing on whether or not your creative dreams become realities. Because nothing is a closed silo anymore. If you need to learn a new skill, and you’re lucky enough to have the access to information about it and the diligence to work at, nothing is off limits. When I launched my own online television network, I didn’t know the first thing about lighting, keying, cutting, editing or any of the other skills required to produce a show. But I did know that there were thousands of online tutorials for each of those individual tasks. And they were available for free. So I started teaching myself. Every single day. Within a few months, I had learned the bare minimum I needed to get by. And within a few years, I had become proficient. Interestingly enough, I never ended up hiring anybody else to help with the show. The workflow was so simple and so doable, it just made more economic sense for me to do it all myself. Proving, that before asking for help, you might ask yourself if it’s worthwhile to learn how to do it yourself. Are you depleting yourself learning how to do all fifty steps right away?
What did you learn?
Ah, the dreaded cover letter. Every time you sit down to write one, you probably browse cover letter examples online, get overwhelmed, and think something to the effect of: Does anyone really read these? Wouldn’t it be so much easier if I could just let my resume speak for itself?
First off: Yes, we can assure you that cover letters do, in fact, get read. In fact, to some hiring managers, they’re the most important part of your application. And yes, while it would be easier to let your resume speak for itself, if that was the case you’d completely miss the opportunity to tell prospective employers who you are, showcase why they should hire you, and stand out above all the other candidates.
Ready to get started? To make sure your cover letter is in amazing shape (and is as painless as possible to write), we’ve compiled our 31 best cover letter tips of all time into one place.
Read on—then get cover letter writing.
1. Don’t Regurgitate Your ResumeInstead of just repeating yourself (“I was in charge of reviewing invoice disputes”), use your cover letter to describe additional details that you weren’t able to squeeze onto the single page of your resume: “By resolving invoice disputes, I gained a deep analytical knowledge—but more importantly, I learned how to interact calmly and diplomatically with angry customers.” A cover letter gives you the freedom to use full sentences—instead of bullet points—so use them to expand upon your resume points and tell the story of why you’re the perfect fit for the company.
2. Think Not What the Company Can Do for YouA common cover letter mistake? Talking about how great the position would be for you and your resume. Frankly, hiring managers are aware of that—what they really want to know is what you’re going to bring to the position and company. On that note:
3. Clearly Show What You’re Capable OfBeyond explaining what you’ve done in the past, show hiring managers what you can do in the future. “Determine the key requirements and priorities for this job, and make it instantly clear to the reviewer that you can deliver the goods on these key things,” says Jenny Foss, job search expert and founder of JobJenny.com. “Consider crafting a section within the letter that begins with, ‘Here’s what, specifically, I can deliver in this role.’ And then expound upon your strengths in a few of the priority requirements for that role.”
4. Showcase Your SkillsWhen you know you have the potential to do the job—but your past experience doesn’t totally sell you as the perfect one for the position—try focusing on your skills, instead. Here’s a template that helps you do just that.
5. …Not Necessarily Your EducationMany new grads make the mistake of over-focusing on their educational backgrounds. At the end of the day, what hiring managers care about most is your work experience (and yes, that can be volunteer or internship experience, too)—and what you can walk through the door and deliver on Day 1.
6. Don’t Apologize for Skills You Don’t HaveWhen you don’t meet all of the job requirements, it’s common for job seekers to use lines like, “Despite my limited experience with marketing…” or “While I only have work experience doing administrative tasks…” But why apologize? Instead of drawing attention to your weaknesses, try to focus on the skills you do have, says career expert Lily Zhang. “Stay positive, focus on your strengths, and immediately launch into your transferable skills and infectious enthusiasm for the position.”
7. Highlight the Right ExperiencesNot sure what skills and experiences you should be featuring? Drop the text of the job description into a word cloud tool like Wordle, and see what stands out. That’s what the hiring manager is looking for most.
8. Tell a StoryWhat brings you to this company? Did you used to sing along to all of its commercials as a kid? Did the product make some incredible difference in your life? Do you sometimes pull into the parking lot and daydream about what it would feel like to work there? Stories bring your background and experiences to life, so feel free to tell them. (Just, you know, keep them short and to the point.)
9. Use a Few NumbersWhen it comes to the job search, numbers often speak louder than words. “Offer stats to illustrate your impact on companies or associations you’ve worked for in the past,” suggests career expert and founder of ProfessionGal Megan Broussard. “Employers love to see numbers—it shows them that you speak their language and that you understand what they’re looking for in an employee: results.”
10. Consider TestimonialsIf you have great feedback from old co-workers, bosses, or clients, don’t be afraid to use it! A seamless way to integrate a positive quote from a previous manager or client is to use it as evidence of your passion for your area of expertise. For example, “I have developed a keen interest in data science during my years working various political campaigns (as my past supervisor once said, I love Excel more than anyone she knows).”
11. Cut the Formality“Don’t be overly formal (‘I wish to convey my interest in filling the open position at your fine establishment’),” writes career expert Mark Slack. “It makes you seem insincere and even robotic, not anything like the friendly, approachable, and awesome-to-work-with person you are.
12. Think Custom, Not CannedMost companies want to see that you’re truly excited about the position and company, which means creating a custom letter for each position you apply for. “When a recruiter reads, ‘Dear Hiring Manager, I am so excited to apply for the open position at your company, where I hope to utilize my skills to progress in my career,’ he or she immediately recognizes it for what it is—a stock cover letter that you’ve mass-distributed to every place in town,” says Muse career expert Katie Douthwaite. And then probably throws it in the trash.
13. Start With a TemplateThat said, there’s nothing that says you can’t get a little help. Our easy, downloadable cover letter guide will walk you through, step-by-step, how to create a cover letter that rocks.
14. …Or Some InspirationHaving trouble getting started? Check out 31 examples of how to start your cover letter in an engaging, attention-grabbing way or these eight examples of awesome cover letters that actually worked.
15. Be Open to Other FormatsIf you’re applying to a more traditional company, then the tried-and-true three-to-five-paragraph format probably makes sense. However, if you’re gunning for a more creative or startup job—or need to explain to the hiring manager, say, how your career has taken you from teaching to business development, a different approach could be appropriate. Here at The Muse, we’ve seen cover letters use bullet points, tell stories, or showcase videos to (successfully) get their point across. This professional even turned hers into a BuzzFeed-style list!
16. But Don’t Go Too FarLike this guy did. Just—don’t.
17. Consider Adding a HeadlineOne formatting idea from The Undercover Recruiter? Add an eye-catching headline to your letter, like “3 Reasons I’m an Excellent Fit for the Marketing Manager Position.” Again, no one says you have to follow the tried-and-true format, and this can be an easy way to catch the hiring manager’s eye quickly.
18. Be Real“Honest, genuine writing always goes much, much further than sticking to every dumb rule you’ve ever read in stale, outdated career guides and college textbooks,” explains Foss.
19. …And NormalWe can’t tell you how many cover letters we’ve seen from people who are “absolutely thrilled for the opportunity” or “very excitedly applying!” Downplay the adverbs a bit, and just write like a normal person.
20. Cut the FluffAvoid, at all costs, describing yourself as a “team player” or a “people person,” says Broussard. “Instead, show off your skills with descriptive statements like ‘I’m an expert communicator with experience bringing together diverse departments to develop a cohesive program.’ It’s longer—but it’s also stronger.”
21. Write in the Company’s “Voice”Cover letters are a great way to show that you understand the environment and culture of the company and industry and prove that you’ve got what they are looking for. So, always keep in mind who will be reading your cover letter, and tailor it to what you know will get them excited. Spending five or 10 minutes reading over the company website before you get started can be a great way to get in the right mindset—you’ll get a sense for the company’s tone, language, and culture, which are all things you’ll want to mirror as you’re writing.
22. Boost Your Confidence Before WritingWriting guru Alexandra Franzen offers a simple mind trick that will dramatically change the way you write cover letters: Pretend. “Pretend that the person you’re writing to already loves and respects you. Pretend that the person you’re writing to already believes that you’re worthy and valuable. Pretend that the person you’re writing to doesn’t need a big sales pitch,” she explains. Then, write. Your words will come out so much easier. (Here’s more on how to do it.)
23. Have Some Fun With ItNews flash: Cover letter writing doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, there are plenty of ways to spice it up! Hoping for a job at a startup? Making your cover letter more creative—whether you use a spunkier tone, play with the format, or make it more visual—will likely improve your chances of getting a call back. Applying for a corporate position? Stick with the traditional format, but make it more conversational, or include a story about how you first came in contact with the company or how much you love it. Much more fun, right? (Here are a few other ways to make cover letter writing suck less.)
24. Don’t Let Your Fear of Bragging Get in the WayIf you tend to have a hard time writing about yourself, here’s a quick trick: Imagine you’re someone else writing a letter about yourself. Think from the perspective of a friend, mentor, or previous employer—someone who would only sing your praises—and then write the letter from her point of view. If it helps, you can even write the letter in third person (i.e. “Erin would be a great fit for this position because…”). Just make sure you’re very careful about going back through and changing it to first person when you’re done!
25. Have Someone Gut Check ItHave a friend take a look at your cover letter, and ask him or her two questions: Does this sell me as the best person for the job? and Does it get you excited? If the answer to either is “no,” or even slight hesitation, go back for another pass.
26. Keep it Short and SweetThere are always exceptions to the rule, but in general, for resumes and cover letters alike, don’t go over a page. “According to the Orange County Resume Survey, almost 70% of employers either want a half page cover letter (250 words) or ‘the shorter the better,’ approach,” writes Slack.
27. Don’t Start With Your NameBecause, well, the hiring manager can see it already on your resume. Get right to the point with what you can bring to the job.
28. But Do Include the Hiring Manager’s NameUse the person’s first and last name, including a “Mr.” or “Ms.” (e.g., Mr. Jack Smith). Never use “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear or Sir or Madam”—nothing could be more generic (not to mention archaic).
29. Unless You Don’t Know ItOK, sometimes, even after hours of online searching (try these tips), you still might not be able to definitively figure out who exactly the hiring manager for the position you’re applying for is. If you can only find a list of executives and you’re not completely confident who the hiring manager is, use the head of the department for the position you’re applying for. If you really don’t have a name to use, try to still be as specific as possible in your greeting. Consider using “Senior Analyst Hiring Manager” or “Research Manager Search Committee”—something that shows that you’ve written this letter with a particular audience in mind.
30. EditWe shouldn’t have to tell you to run your cover letter through spell-check, but here’s an even better step: Check out how the wording sounds to others using Hemingway. Drop your text onto the page, and the color-coded app will give your writing a once-over. Is a sentence too wordy, overly complex, or totally unreadable? It’ll be highlighted in red until you revise it. Tend to overuse the passive voice? Every instance of it will show up in green. The site will even recommend when you can use shorter or simpler words (Why take up precious resume space with “utilize” when you can say “use?”).
31. But Care Most About Standing OutPerhaps the best piece of cover letter wisdom we can offer you comes from Foss: The most memorable cover letters are written by people who care less about the rules and more about standing out to the hiring manager. “Next time you sit down to write a cover letter, vow to not get uptight about all the tiny little ‘rules’ you’ve picked up along the way,” she writes. “Instead, buck convention. Be memorable. Nail the stuff that will make you a true standout.”
With the hefty price tag attached to a bachelor’s degree these days—over $57,000 at a public university and much more at private colleges—you might well expect recent college graduates to emerge from their expensive educations skilled up and job-ready. Unfortunately, even the loftiest peaks of the ivory tower do not necessasarily guarantee that college grads have what it takes to become your next great hire.
The truth is that despite the perceived value of a college degree, many business owners and recruiters are struggling to find recent graduates who have the practical and soft skills to succeed in the workplace. Even more troubling, there is a surprising gap between graduates’ perception of their own job-readiness and what employers are seeing in interviews. According to a survey of 2,000 graduates and 1,000 hiring managers, about half of recent grads believe they are adequately prepared to take on a job in their field of study. From the hiring managers’ perspective, it’s a very different story: fewer than two in five managers found recent graduates they’d interviewed to be job-ready.
In a recent Wall Street Journal interview, sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa discussed their latest book, Aspiring Adults Adrift, which tackles the very question of whether today’s college students are getting value for their money. The answer, according to Arum and Roksa, is a resounding “no”. Too many colleges, it seems, graduate students who are lacking in both practical skills and soft skills such as organization, financial planning and critical thinking.
Although a college degree does pay off for some in the long run, it’s clear that it does not necessarily equal job-readiness. So where else can managers and employers look for their next great hire?
1. A two-year college or vocational program. With the cost of a four-year degree at a record high, many ambitious and motivated young people are rapidly discovering that a two-year vocational degree is the smarter option. Vocational programs are not only more likely to turn out candidates trained in the practical skills you need, but there is evidence that vocational training boosts confidence, work ethic, and high performance in other areas as well.
This is one reason why many astute business leaders are forming partnerships with community colleges. These partnerships ensure that curriculum reflects the needs of local employers and companies so that students graduate with exactly the skills they need to succeed in the workplace.
2. Your own company. The talent you’re looking for may already be working within your business. Increasingly, companies are finding their best people from the ranks of those ambitious existing employees, ready and eager to acquire a new set of skills. And in fact, Incorporating skills training into your business model, as many forward-thinking companies are doing right now, is far less expensive, time consuming, and risky than recruiting externally. In-house training opportunities build loyalty, encourage a learning environment across the board, and give motivated employees the chance to show you what they can do. Cultivating the talent you already have is a big step toward securing the future of your business.
3. Apprenticeship programs. In April 2014, President Obama announced the launch of a $100 million competition for American Apprenticeship Grants, to be awarded to partnerships and organizations focused on expanding apprenticeship opportunities. Apprenticeships are making a comeback in the United States, and with good reason. Because their education is hands-on, apprentices learn the whole range of practical and soft skills they need to transition directly into jobs. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly 9 out of 10 apprentices are employed upon finishing their training.
As apprenticeships gain momentum, employers are beginning to see that they can find skilled apprentices in a wide range of fields, even some high-tech areas that might surprise you. For example, the U.S. Office for Apprenticeships has recently registered apprenticeships in fields like computer programming, biotechnology and geospatial technology.
Thanks to the hands-on, real-world experience they learn under the direction of a skilled expert, apprentices build the communication, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities you may not see in the candidate fresh out of the ivory tower. The same is often true of students in vocational programs, as well as company staff who are eager for the chance to move up the ladder. Being able to see a direct pathway to success motivates these career-minded individuals to put their best effort forward, continuing to build on and improve their skills. And isn’t that just the kind of person you’d like to see as your next hire?
Career decisions are never easy. Not only do they have the potential to define your professional path for years to come, they also can affect your quality of life, where you live, your bank balance, and more.
When making such an important decision it is critical to carefully consider your options, and think about whether an opportunity is right for you, your career goals, and your personal priorities.
After more than 30 years at Lockheed Martin, I’ve had dozens of career opportunities. I’ve had to evaluate potential jobs — both inside and outside offers — and decide what the best opportunity was for me and my family.
Over the years, I’ve asked myself some key questions that helped me make smart decisions about my career path. When I faced an important decision about my next job opportunity, here are three questions that helped me make the right choice:
1. Does the opportunity align with your values?
You will never truly do your best work if your personal values are challenged by a job.
That’s one of the reasons I take every opportunity to reiterate Lockheed Martin’s values and what they mean to us. Our employees know that everyone here is committed to doing what’s right, respecting others, and performing with excellence — and potential employees can decide if these core values align with their own.
Do you believe in the organization’s mission and values? Do you feel passionate about making a difference for their customers and other stakeholders? Are you inspired by the organization’s leadership? Do you respect the people that work there?
Taking time to think through these questions will help ensure an organization is the right fit for you.
2. Will you have a chance to grow, learn and stretch professionally?
Are you considering the position because your skills and experience are perfectly aligned? Maybe you should think again.
The best way to grow professionally — and set yourself up for a successful career — is to expand your skills and experience. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone and look for jobs that will help fill gaps in expertise that will help you get to the next level.
Don’t limit yourself by doubting your ability to step up to a challenge. You will never be perfectly prepared for a new position. So, take advantage of the growth opportunities that come your way — even if they might seem like a reach.
As long as you keep in mind this third question:
3. Are you equipped to make a difference?
Any business leader will tell you that results matter. When looking at a new opportunity, you should think about how your unique set of skills, talents and experiences can have an impact and deliver for the organization.
What are the opportunities you see? What would you do differently? How can you help the organization achieve their goals?
If you have what it takes to make a difference, you’ll bring real value to the organization as you expand your own skills and experience.
By asking these three questions, you’ll be able to make more informed career decisions and you’ll also get a better sense of your own goals, skills and values. That insight will help you thrive regardless of the career path you take.
What else do you consider when making career decisions? Share your thoughts and your examples in the comments section below.
I am among thousands that I personally know of that are not working, knee deep in interviews and assessments or trying to better themselves career wise. It is still a tough economic climate, there are millions of unemployed/underemployed vying for career positions. Many of these people are friends or connections of mine, have higher degrees, some more experience, others a combination of the two. The questions are fast and furious as recruiters have to sift through what I have been told and perceive to be unseen before volumes and methods of resumes, assessments, personality tests and the like. But when the questions come, how do you handle them? When the phone rings are you ready for the call? Often times, myself included, there comes a new wrinkle or something not ready for, and always wish for a do-over button. All that being said we know the most common questions or the ones that will trip us up. Many times there are hurdles and barriers cannot overcome, but in the “know” part of this phase there are certain questions you KNOW are coming. In my case there are some for sure I KNOW are coming, such as the one most often asked because of my varied past around why so many jobs? (which is a nice way to say “How do we know you won’t sign with us, we invest in you and then you leave after a year or two?”)
Based on your own resume and your own scenario, you likely have at least one or two questions that you KNOW are coming. This is a tough one for me personally, and understandably one to expect every call I am on. If I were a hiring manager, which I was for the better part of 25 years, I see a glaring weakness that sticks out like a sore thumb when see what on paper is a perennial “job hopper.” Who am I to think every hiring manager isn’t thinking the same when they call me or see my resume? I am willing to bet I never even get a call from 90% of my applications simply because not even getting past screeners or initial screening processes in play. Systems are set up to weed candidates out, technologies are employed, scanners set to scan for buzzwords, age old recruiting schools teach of the 5 second scan. But for the times I do get through I am working and honing in on this – my personal target with a bullseye on it. We all have at least one or two.
To my mind, as an empowered candidate, is this even really a “weakness” or does it show increased value? Is this a quitter or someone who sees the bigger picture and makes moves sometimes “for the right reasons?” But the questions are coming: If truly career driven then why did he leave his last job so soon? If so successful why did he leave his previous employer? Why so many different areas? Why is he applying to my area when he doesn’t even live here? There are several questions that arise from a simple 5 second scan that cannot possibly be covered in a few paragraphs in an article but the main question of why so many jobs to me also can be to my advantage. Take this an apply it to your own candidacy.
What I have found through all of this, and being honest and transparent as always, is my greatest weakness if you will is also my greatest strength. The fact that I had varying roles but successful in each regardless of different times, locations, responsibilities and demographics also shows proven adaptability, willingness to put in the extra time and effort, a penchant for success, a hunger for results and the passion to overcome obstacles. It demonstrates the learning and ability to identify what matters, what triggers the results needed, and how to move the proverbial needle. For ex. By outperforming locals when look back at some of my larger successes after relocations it helps alleviate the perceived need for a local candidate even though conventional wisdom suggests otherwise. But ultimately it comes down to the most fundamental questions: what does a company gain by hiring me? Why would they “take a chance” on me?
There are truly solid intangible gains besides the obvious:
1) Experience. There simply is no better teacher. I consider myself fairly well read and studied. I graduated Top 5 in Business magna cum laude from SUNY, all the while school meant non-traditional nights and weekends as maintained full time supervisory / managerial roles at the time. All that being said there is no replacement for the life experience and work experience that comes over time and tribulation. HR and personnel movement. Knowing what levers to press and when. Identifying opportunities and seizing them in ways my predecessors did not. A fresh set of eyes and a new perspective but all drawn off a lifetime of experience, or in my case 25 years of sales, management and business/people development at many varying levels and degrees. There is nothing better than to document being battle tested over time and location. Results don’t make themselves, the top tier results produced are a truly indicative measure that experience is a prime indicator of what brought to the table every time, and what any employer will benefit from once I land in their system. Can see some of the recognitions and awards in part on my LinkedIn profile. None of it happened by luck. None of it happened by chance.
2) Resiliency. Call it thick skin, call it whatever you like, but to be able to come in, shake a few feathers, rattle a few cages, internally and externally (more difficult externally most times) and yet come through it all unscathed, landing with success in every measured way is proof positive of consistency: time and time and time again of overcoming obstacles. Some people that dodged me or wanted no part of me when I first moved here have since become best referral sources. Many that had negative things to say about me or simply donned me as the outsider have become friends and even a higher percentage networking partners because after the initial dust settled, I was deemed “great for business.” In a few cases, it was taking over inherently last place centers and turning them into top performers. I received multiple promotions within these same said companies, especially in a shorter amount of time normally needed to do so, showing a true resiliency to hone in on opportunities, concentrate the effort, put in the time and overcome things deemed “in the way” or in removal of obstacles once identify. As an outsider it takes more work, more time, more effort to win people over. Referrals are definitely not flowing or handed out, they are earned. As an outsider nothing was given to me, nothing was freely passed out and there was no call I could make or email I could send to bring people in on day one. It takes at least 6 months of increased time, extra effort, targeted approaches, better marketing, a resolute will and proven resiliency. I didn’t feel I was truly in my stride here until after 1 full year, but looking back my promotion to Bank Area Manager in Metro Detroit happened in about 7 months. The results came well before that said year, starting around month 4, and they never slowed. If anything they continually increased over time. Reputation and marketing grew stronger. Word of mouth is paramount in a service business – that is when we really started to see the merits pay off. None of it would have happened if not for the resolve and resiliency required to net those results.
3) Permanency. This is the big one. Many times it is not worded as such, but the key question employers need to hear answered from someone coming off of a shorter term tenure is how do I know you won’t leave? Anyone that has called me knows the reasons, and feel free at any point to call and get more in depth, but the simple matter is there are no guarantees, there are no contracts in my line so in order to assure will not leave, here’s is some of what I am working and thinking through:
- Investing in myself. Before I even get to my new role it is likely not only going to cost time in interviews, assessments, and drive time it will also cost me thousands. Unless I suddenly find something local that hits all cylinders or unless I get a very fortunate turn of events, I am the one typically fronting the bill to interview (gas, mileage/wear and tear on car, hotel stays) and will most likely be paying for lease terminations, moving expenses, transfer of licenses, changeover fees and the like. In coming from MI to Charlottesville that was a vast investment and one would do again for the right opportunity. As I am doing in my time off, I have renewed my licenses, taken on new courses and new projects, created and still administrate projects and groups, and as of this typing currently enrolled in the SBA Webinar Learning series. All continual investments of time and money in myself before any company pays me a dime. Not doing all of this just to get a job, it’s all about staying true to my main focus of a tenured long-term career.
- Right fit. I will likely have already researched the company, the area, and the demographics putting in an exhaustive effort to make sure it’s the right fit before accepting any new role. Just like hiring managers and recruiters look for right fit, so am I. I have taken countless assessments for that very reason. After all the hiring company is not really the one putting everything on the line, I am. I am not a spring chicken anymore (sadly) and I have had some offers come through. Yet surprisingly to some folks I turned them down. Why? Not the right fit. Didn’t feel the chemistry, cost of living didn’t add up. Saw no future. Spent time in the area and didn’t feel could make it my new home. Now more than ever, in more that just word but in deed, I cannot afford to make a mistake on this one. I refuse to take a role that I do not foresee lasting at least 5 years, and that is not speak, that is action. Call it damage control, call it protecting the resume, but I have intentionally not taken short term work, I have intentionally avoided straight commission as a stop gap, and turned down opportunities for “band aids.” I have very meticulously and intently decided to live off my reserve before making a move that isn’t the right fit or could possibly damage the resume. There are no panic buttons here, and again maybe against conventional wisdom, I am purposefully avoiding anything to fill in the gaps or serve as a filler. It’s either the right fit or nothing. Leads right to my main point, Point C.
- Cannot afford another short tenure on the resume. This is vital. Anyone that has the fortune of signing me, here is the simple truth. I will not be able to go anywhere for 3-5 years minimum. Even if I wanted to. Of course can move up within your ranks, but not leave your company, simply will not be an option. Think about this logically. My resume is already “damaged” for lack of a better word. I already get shot down more than I ever get called. My batting percentage of application received to call received is likely smaller than most anyone as have to also add in the relocation factors, not having a book, salary factors etc. to what is already weighed against me. Going to have to start over again, equaling more time, more money, and everything else already detailed. The odds I would want to leave, and even more comforting to my next employer, the odds that I realistically even can leave for a better option or a stronger opportunity…what do you think those chances are realistically? I hate admitting this about myself, but once I sign, my options to leave even if chose to in anything less than 3-5 years become even more limited at best. I MUST succeed, and that is stronger even than a contract these days! I am not only committed in word, but I am committed in time, money and action as anything less than likely a 5 year minimum, and I will end up further “damaged.”
I had written an article or two before such as “Why would I hire someone from the outside?” or “Entering a New Market: Relocation Specialist” but obviously still crafting best practices. What I gain most is through the feedback I receive from readers such as yourself that PM after reading. Please feel free to PM me or send me your thoughts. Or in the comments tell us your main questions and maybe other readers can offer suggestions as well. We are all in this together. You wouldn’t have just utilized your time reading this unless you are looking either as a candidate, someone with a vested or personal interest, or as a future prospective employer.
The mere fact that you have reached this article means that you are probably considering looking for a new position. Perhaps it is something that is on the horizon or maybe you are actively searching – either way you have a new career on your mind.
You may have already noticed that there are plenty of agency adverts that sound much like one another. So, how do you make the right choice when there is nothing to differentiate the options?
It is worth bearing in mind that you are searching for representation – not just a role. Even if the job seems perfect and you get to interview stage, you could still; find that the agency you have chosen has misled you – deliberately or otherwise. The role that looked so good in the advert was actually misrepresented and doesn’t have the perks you expected, the salary is lower than you thought and the prospects are not as attractive as described. This is understandably frustrating and can lead even the most patient to contemplate giving up on their job search.
“It is vital to learn everything about your client and make sure you understand the role, personalities, and prospects on offer. “ Says Victoria Knowles of Creative Tax Recruitment. ” “I make the effort to get to know my candidate intimately and then work hard to find them the right role. You have to take a proactive approach in this market. This is the only way to ensure you are presenting the maximum ( and most relevant) possible opportunities to the people you represent.”
Taking a proactive role to job hunting involves so much more than simply looking at job adverts – it means actively ensuring the agent you have chosen is right for your needs. Knowing the right way to research the recruitment agency is vital when it comes to being successful in your job hunt.
“Research” says Medet Ali of Creative Tax Recruitment. “An agency website is not a bad place to start. However, most agencies look good on the internet or in print. Ultimately nothing beats a personal approach. Contact the agency and see how they deal with you. It’s the people that count, not just the brand behind them. If you don’t feel confident about the person you are dealing with, then there is absolutely nothing stopping you from moving on”
That makes sense. But what specifically will help you to choose the right recruitment consultant when it comes to getting that next step on your career? What are processes that should be taken to ensure you can climb that ladder without falling off at the first hurdle?
“Matching the right person to the right role is a skill, and not one that simply relies on sending out CVs and keeping your fingers crossed” says Sharon Gordon of Creative Tax Recruitment. “You need to ensure that the consultant you are dealing with can provide you with a personalised service. A recruiter who skips this process and starts talking about his/her roles, before they have made the effort to understand you, is more likely to be interested in filling an existing role then acting for you”
It may seem that agencies work in this way – they have the roles and then find the right people to fill them. Well, not always…
“A lot depends on the agency. A lot of executive search firms can certainly have a remit they are looking to fill. However, this should not stop the agency from taking an active interest in you as a professional. “Says Medet Ali. “Judge the agent by what they say, and then what they do on your behalf. If they can’t get the first part right, then move on. “
So in summary….
The right recruitment agency for you is the one that wants to develop a relationship with you and understand your needs from the outset. They will then act on those requirements by searching out the very best jobs for you. This is a two way process and needs your input too – you can help your own job search by being proactive and finding out more about your recruitment agency. Are they really the right one for you and your needs?
No news is good news. That is what people who despise conflict say. That saying is not welcomed on a team that is striving to achieve greatness. Saying no news is good news is just like saying Bloody Mary 3 times in the mirror at night when you are home alone.
No news is good news is scary because of what your employees aren’t saying. These are the 10 things you need to encourage your employees to tell you:
1. I’m looking for a new job
Why it’s important: Primarily succession planning but also if their skill-set or organizational knowledge is hard to replace. They are involved in or leading too many critical initiatives. Knowing ahead of time will allow you to address the things that are causing dissatisfaction as well as to offer more in terms of compensation, work-life balance or a role change.
What to do about it: This one is tricky. It takes an incredible amount of trust for someone to tell you they are looking for another job. Work hard to gain your employees trust. Provide frequent reminders of how hard you would fight to keep them should they decide to leave. Help them feel valued and give them work that fulfills their needs.
2. My plate is empty and I need more to do
Why it’s important: Preventing boredom, keeping them challenged, productive and engaged. Despite what you may think people do want to be busy at work, learn new things and find success in challenging situations.
What to do about it: Delegate more down. Start training potential future leaders different aspects of your job. Sign them up for special projects or committees. You can also have them look for outside training’s, workshops or seminars that will give them new ideas to bring back and implement.
3. You are a great leader but you need to stop doing X
Why it’s important: We all have weaknesses and blind spots that cripple us from finding success. Who better to point these out then those who are most directly impacted by your deficiencies? Your employees have firsthand observations of your weaknesses and know what could be improved if you recognized them.
What to do about it: Ask for feedback but keep defensiveness out of your responses. This will encourage your employees to help you become more aware of your areas of opportunity. Find as many opportunities throughout the day to ask for feedback as you can.
4. That’s because I am not one of your favorites
Why it’s important: Perception is your enemy. If you are friends with some employees and not others it will spill over and that perception will damage your relationships with the rest of the team.
What to do about it: Treat everyone fairly and with the utmost respect. The word fair is used over equal because people aren’t equal. They are all at different stages of their professional career and journey.
5. We look forward to the days you aren’t in the office
Why it’s important: If your presence in the office is rigid and stern you aren’t creating an environment of fun. There should be a healthy balance of fun and focus and the removal of tension. It doesn’t have to be a party full of slackers but that is what you will get when you are gone if you don’t make your workplace fun when you are there.
What to do about it: Engage your staff in idle chit chat. Say good morning to everyone when you arrive and always arrive with a smile. If you can’t smile when you walk in, stay in your car and play a happy song before you walk in. Break out in a song and tell more people thank you (not thanks) more often.
6. You don’t know what I do here and you seem to not care
Why it’s important: People need to know that you see what they do and that you value their output. They want to feel appreciated and to know that you fully understand and empathize with the challenges that have been rolled down by you in doing their work well.
What to do about it: Sit with them as they work or have a tag-a-long day. You would be surprised at what you learn. I recently was talking to a peer whose management team was slim so she was filling in. She started venting about a few things that they deal with daily. My response to her was well now you know what they go through. She admittedly forgot how rough it was. On occasion I will do some of the mundane but essential tasks for my team. This helps me stay informed on the processes as well as to empathize with the difficulty of completing them.
7. So and so is getting away with a lot and you don’t even see it
Why it’s important: Employees don’t like to snitch on their peers and you should never put them in that position. When the rewards and consequences are the same no matter what your employees do they have no motivation to do well.
What to do about it: Be astute enough to know who is pulling their weight and who isn’t. Address those individuals immediately.
8. You are not listening to what I am saying
Why it’s important: Your employees deserve your undivided attention. They deserve your respect.
What to do about it: When an employee comes to you give them your undivided attention. Make eye contact, stop what you are doing and fully engage in the interaction. If you are unable to do so let them know how important it is that you give them your full attention and schedule a meeting for later that same day.
9. You really aren’t funny
Why it’s important: Most employees will always laugh at your jokes I think we are born with a gene that forces us to laugh even when it isn’t funny. There are also times when a joke goes too far or past it’s life cycle.
What to do about it: Get over yourself. If you were meant to be a comedian you wouldn’t be leading a team of business professionals. Don’t start taking yourself too seriously though.
10. I can’t stand you
Why it’s important: I’ve not met a manager who didn’t want to be liked. Being liked shouldn’t be your goal, if it is you are doing it wrong. When your leadership becomes a popularity contest everyone under you loses.
What to do about it: Strive to be respected over being liked. Be respected for the work you do, the way you treat your staff, the coaching and mentoring you provide and the results you deliver.
Gaining your employees trust and respect enough for them to tell you any of these 10 things will be a huge advantage for your growth. There is nothing wrong with point blank asking them these questions as long as it is done in a non-threatening manner and you remain non-defensive. Start with the ones that are less likely to intimidate your employees and over time branch out from there.
This article originally appeared on my blog at http://jasoncortel.com
A recent report by specialist recruiter Robert Half, detailed that the best candidates are now receiving multiple offers and counteroffers, which is a result of a shrinking talent pool.
The study found two-thirds (65%) of UK finance leaders seeing an increase in counteroffers in the past 12 months, with 20% saying they have increased significantly.
The study was carried out with 200 finance leaders and highlighted that counteroffers aren’t the only thing to have increased. Nearly two thirds (64%) of senior finance professionals are more likely to offer a sign-on bonus to attract top candidates than they were last year. This finding echoes the desperation for talent and that 2015 is shaping up to be a job candidate’s market.
UK Managing Director of Robert Half, Phil Sheridan, highlighted that “with counteroffers increasing and a shrinking talent pool, it is now more important than ever for firms to act quickly.” This is where Opus Recruitment Solutions has already been one step ahead of the mark.
At Opus, we pride ourselves in the ability to secure placements, with a 93% offer to placement ratio. We believe we achieve this through our client focused approach and understanding the businesses we work with; carefully managing candidates through the process.
Opus Recruitment Solutions’ CEO, Darren Ryemill said, “We make it our priority to supply steadfast services to all our clients. Our attention to detail and adaptable approach is what drives our successes and we will continue to improve our processes throughout 2015 to keep providing competitive standards.”
As the recruitment industry grows, with many positive predictions for 2015, it is extremely important to apply the right processes to achieve successful results.
It is a competitive market so implementing ideas ahead of their time is vital; knowing what is the next move to make is key to growing your company.
Originally posted on linked in By: Astrid Hall
One of the greatest complaints we hear not just from the Accounting Profession but from Business Owners & Entrepreneurs in all industries is that Business Owners struggle to get the best out of their people or you feel like your people are not necessarily the best. Now it may be one or the other. It could even be a combination of the two. So let’s talk about what you can do about it. So the first thing you need to think about is consider your own leadership style.
My friend, Ed Chan, he had a great saying. It’s always stuck with me after we spent 33 days on the road together across Australia in the Best Practice Program in 2012. He said that “the fish stinks from the head down”. What Ed’s really talking about is that business owners sometimes don’t often take responsibility for their own impact on employee morale and the culture of the business. These are things that you can’t take lightly.
I want to explain that. You see, the biggest mistake I ever made when I was a young manager running a large team 24 years ago. I had an expectation that because I’ve “made it,” I’ve become the boss. I thought because I was the boss, that should be enough and my team should be motivated to work for me. If they don’t like you, number one, they’re not going to work that hard for you.
They’re going to do the bare minimum. So I’ve learned over the years that sometimes I’ve got to sit the Business Owner down and say, “You know what, buddy? You’re my friend. I’m coaching you. There’s a problem. People don’t like you. It’s an issue. They don’t like you as much as they should.”
Now if that makes you feel a bit uncomfortable, don’t get upset about that.
We just need to think about what is our approach. What is the attitude that we’re taking into the environment? We’re the leader. “The fish stinks from the head down,”as Edward says. So understand that.
If you’re not thinking about the people that you deal with, then you’re not demonstrating an element of interactivity and care and general concern for their well-being. Then maybe you’re acting like you have a sense of entitlement. If your position title is the real reason that people should work for you, you’re not going to get very far.
So let’s try and move from what John Maxwell describes as Stage One Leadership:Position Title, very ineffective by the way, to Stage Two, which is Permission.Permission means you have my permission to tell me what to do because I like you.
I’m motivated by you. I’m inspired by where you want to take the business. In fact, you don’t even have to be that inspiring. If you can just recognize that a level two leader in the John Maxwell model actually says, “Hey, How are you doing?
What’s going on? Show me the work you’re doing,” and being willing to get down there in the trenches and physically help your people solve their own problems. Never solve the problem for them. Never take the work off them. That’s giving them the wrong message.
That’s saying to them they don’t have to be accountable. They don’t have to be productive. Any time you take the file back and say, “I’ll work on it,” and walk away and curse under your breath, you’re actually perpetuating your own frustration. So let’s spend more time getting the instructions clear at a micro level, micro steps, micro direction and a little bit more appreciation for what needs to be done. If you can get to that next level, that Permission level, you are serving your own employees.
By serving them, they experience a commitment from you. It’s visible. You’re there. You’re in front of them. You don’t’ have to be Richard Branson. You don’t have to be Mark Bouros.
You don’t have to be that inspiring. Just be there. Be visible where and when they need the work done when they’re struggling through it. If you can just give your employees that micro direction, what you’ll find is you can then walk away for four or five hours and then come back in the afternoon and follow up with a little bit of accountability. “Did you get that done?”
All right, that’s the tip for today. Have a great week and I’ll see you again soon.
BTW, if you would like to attend our National Conference designed to improve your Leadership and Overall Performance in all facets of your life check outhttp://www.personalandbusinessmastery.com/
In my nearly 40-year career in leadership roles, I’ve interviewed or supervised the interviews of thousands of candidates for various positions. I’ve made some stellar decisions and some stupid ones.
Looking back—with little fear of censure at this stage of my life—I confess that if I had only one question to ask a candidate for a senior management job it might be this:
What was your favorite article in last Sunday’s New York Times Week in Review section—and why?
If I were a CEO again, I would surround myself with bright, capable, thinking and curious people with exceptionally high Emotional Intelligence. Reading the NY Times Week in Review regularly (or something comparable) is not a bad indicator of a number of those qualities.
I realize many of you might bristle at the mention of the New York Times. The ultra-conservative folks reading this, including some in my family with whom I never discuss politics, might scoff at the publication or even ridicule my question. Others might accuse me of having a liberal bias or a liberal agenda (or whatever).
I’m not conscious of having any agendas other than seeking quality, excellence, respect and decency for those I work with every day. Also, I am passionately committed to finding the truth by using solid evidence to make decisions, and to working with people who embrace learning and who make it a habit to think.
So if the New York Times makes you feel uncomfortable or, in some cases, angry, just replace it with the quality publications you read regularly with a “Week in Review” type section and let’s get to why I ask this questions…
Fabulous answers to my question might include:
- “‘The Article Name,’ by Jane Smith. I love the unique way she describes…”
- “The one about zoos in Portugal. I thought it was fascinating that…”
- “I can’t pick. I liked almost all of them—except that one about…”
Satisfactory responses (and possibly fabulous) might look like this:
- “I ran out of time and only read half of it but I enjoyed…”
- “You know, we were traveling last Sunday and it’s on the top of my pile to read.”
- “I rarely read the NY Times. Instead, I prefer The X Report, and my favorite writer is John Smith because….”
- “I don’t have time to read.
- “I don’t like reading…”
I realize not everyone reads an actual paper these days. I know several fantastic employees that prefer podcasts to reading. I also realize that just because someone doesn’t have time to read as much as they’d like doesn’t mean they aren’t a good employee. The point of my question is to discover whether they like to learn new things or discover what others have to say. It is far more about why they read and how they learn than what it is they are reading.
So the next time you interview, consider asking them my Ultimate question or your version of it. You might be surprised what you discover in your interview that helps you make a stellar decision, instead of what you might later call a stupid one!