The Recruitment Desk

I Recruit, Therefore I Am

Interview Entitlement

One of the primary complaints that older generations lob at Millennials is that they are entitled brats.

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Sure enough, I have encountered my fair share of young budding professionals who’s response to career development advice or constructive criticism has been the equivalent of:

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Good for them. They’ll either make it on such fierce determination or learn their lessons in due process. Either way, they will grow with time and experience.

But there is another kind of entitlement at the opposite end of the spectrum that exists in our experienced workforce:

Interview Entitlement

That looks more like this:

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Or this:

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This kind of entitlement is just as unproductive and dangerous. Because it shows you think yourself above the process. That you don’t respect the way the organization operates. That you fancy yourself above all else.

And while experience is impressive and a key indicator in judging one’s suitability to walk into a position and succeed, it is not everything.

What about personality? What about drive and ambition? What about fitting into the organization?

You may have the best experience in the world, outlasted all of your peers, worked on the biggest projects on Earth, but if no one wants to work with you, guess what…

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And so here is the truth of the matter:

No One Is Above An Interview!

No one. Not you. Not I. Not anyone.

Okay, maybe Tom Cruise.

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But no one else!

Because an interview is designed to assess suitability for a job. If we haven’t met you, don’t know about your experience, your projects, your career trajectory, how are we supposed to know you are right for the job?

In some instances experience is key. If we need someone to fix an piece of enterprise software that only 8 people in the known universe know how to fix, well then…

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But in other instances experience could indicate a one-track mind. Or an inflexible attitude. Or an unwillingness to do anything any way except theirs. In some cases, experience is the equivalent of banging ones head against a brick wall.

BRICK WALL

The purpose of an interview is to assess a candidate’s qualifications for a specific job. Unless they are an internal applicant, or specifically requested by the Hiring Manager, all candidates are subject to the same Recruitment process, whether they are fresh out of the classroom or fresh off of retirement.

What most experienced and entitled candidates fail to recognize about the process is that their difficult attitude is leaving them wide open for a less experienced candidates to come in and pitch the value of their lack of experience. Their ideas could be fresh and new. Their fire to succeed burns brighter. Their desire to convince the Hiring Manager that, if given the opportunity, they will strive to do whatever it takes to shine is stronger and more compelling.

A less experienced candidate who enters the interview dressed to impress will succeed over a senior candidate thinking they are owed something, almost every time.

Because they want to take risks and try new things. Because they are looking forward instead of back. Because they still have something to prove.

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And so what a candidate may lack in experience they will make up for in ambition and drive. These are the types of people experienced candidates are up against. And the attitude that they are automatically superior due to their many years on the front lines, is what is shooting themselves in the foot during interviews.

And so we must start to change the mentality that experience speaks for itself. It does not. Experienced people must be able to speak to their experience, especially in an interview setting. Otherwise, how will the Hiring Manager be able to assess whether or not they are right for the job?

Instead they should go into the interview, like anyone else. Prepared, energized and ready to tell the Hiring Manager why they are the best candidate for the job. If there wasn’t a need for that, there would be no need to set an interview time in the first place.

So next time you are sitting in an interview, thinking the process or the questions are below you, just remember, there could be any nth number of people up next who have no problem respecting the process and speaking to their experience. Those are the ones who are getting the jobs. Those are the ones the entitled candidates are grumbling about. Those are the ones who are paving the way of the future.

Because just like all things, in times of change, the ones who are fighting against are the ones who are getting left behind.

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The Five Rules Of Earning A Coveted Entry Level Job

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with a large group of budding Human Resources students.

Some of them were very interested in Recruitment.

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Others, not so much.

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But one thing that kept coming up was Entry Level positions.

This is a topic on many a student’s mind come April when classes wind down and young professionals go out in search of co-op opportunities, summer jobs or, even better, their first big person job out of the classroom.

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This can be a daunting task for a young professional. How does one sell themselves to a position they have no experience doing? What do they say during the Interview? How do they differentiate themselves from their hundreds of colleagues who will be on the job market at the same time as they?

Most Recruitment is based on something tangible. This many years experience. That certification. Previous employment with these companies. Experience with these technologies. Something that is easy to qualify.

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Entry Level Recruitment is not based on anything tangible. There are few precedents or expectations to benchmark against. It is like Recruiting thin air.

 

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So here are five rules designed for Entry Level candidates to succeed at setting themselves apart from the rest of their colleagues and making the Recruiter’s decision that they are the best for the position, that much easier.

All Entry Level Positions Are Created Equal

All Entry Level positions are designed for one thing.

It is not to set a candidate up for their entire career. It is not so the candidate can change the world in a weekend. And it is certainly not an open invitation for a candidate to come in and rewrite a company’s entire business model.

Entry Level positions are designed to grant experience.

Experience is what you have done. Experience is what you know how to do. Experience is what you gain by doing.

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It is important to remember, as long as you are doing, you are gaining experience. As long as you are gaining experience, your career is moving forward.

An Entry Level position is where a new grad gains the experience they require to move on to bigger and better things. Bigger and better things are not attained honestly, through anything but experience.

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There is a misconception that coming from a post secondary institution with a Degree or Diploma will guarantee a student the position they have always wanted.

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That is why any entry level position, regardless of title, company size and stature, or industry is one of value.

It may not be your dream job. It may not even be a good job. But no matter what, it will teach the basics of how an office works, about company culture, about how technology is used, about how things are structured, about what people like and about what people don’t like.

Entry Level positions teach the foundations.

As such, no Entry Level position should be considered too small or insignificant. An Entry Level candidate should be willing to do what it takes to learn and gain the experience required to succeed. A willingness to learn and grow is the single most valuable asset of an Entry Level candidate. A picky Entry Level candidate is one more interested in chasing ideals. A picky Entry Level candidate does not learn and grow easily. A picky Entry Level candidate can be left to find their own way.

You Are The Same As Your Peers, Until Proven Otherwise

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Here is a hypothetical Recruitment question. If you have no experience and five other people with no experience are also interviewing for the same position, who is best suited for the job?

It is the candidate’s responsibility to use the interview to differentiate themselves. And those who differentiate themselves are those who can show they don’t just want any position. They want the position the Recruiter is offering.

The most important question in an entry level interview is thus: What made you interested in this position?

The majority of interviewees will provide variations of the same answer: “Because I need one to graduate.”; “Because I applied for a bunch and you are the only one who called back.”; “Because I just graduated and am ready to work.”

If you just graduated and are ready to work, try McDonalds.

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There you will gain valuable customer service experience, learn how to think on your feet, make quick minute decisions and learn how to deal with escalating complaints in a high pressure environment. Skills that can be used anywhere in the future.

However, if your older sister interned with the same organization some years ago and says it was the best experience of her life; If your passion is construction and we are the best construction company in the country; or if our company just invested in a brand new environmental program and you feel yourself born destined to work in a company that takes the environment seriously…

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Because now you have given something specific. Something that none of your colleagues managed too. You’ve set yourself apart. The Recruiter now sees that they can offer something that will make you happy and engaged. They can begin to picture you fitting into organization. They can see the value you potentially bring.

This is what separates the generic candidates from the shining ones. And all it takes to be a shining one is being just a bit better than all the rest.

Ambition, Not Over-Ambition

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We’ve been through this before.

As an entry level candidate, you will be brought into the organization to learn, not rewrite history.

Ambition is good. Ambition shows a desire to learn. Ambition shows a desire to grow.

Over-Ambition is not. Over-Ambition suggests attitude. Over-Ambition suggests hard-to-train. Over-Ambition suggests unwillingness to learn.

Over-Ambition can be an interview killer.

Know Your Skills. Know Their Value

Entry Level candidates can get discouraged so easily.

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Sometimes finding an Entry Level position comes down to perseverance and persistence. If you know the value of your skills, whatever they may be, eventually someone else will as well.

One has to remember, education and skills are not the same. While education is invaluable, skills show that you have the thought process to take your knowledge out of the classroom and put it to work in a real, practical way.

Because of this, many Entry Level candidates fret that they don’t have any skills.

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Look at the fast food example above.

Retail teaches organization and data entry on top of customer service. It requires that you act on your feet.

Volunteering at a Library for a summer teaches how to use inventory systems.

Tutoring English shows leadership, entrepreneurial spirit and an ability to work with others.

Fundraising for a charity shows an ability to interact with the community and dedication to a good cause. Maybe you even used your leadership skills to organize part of the event.

If you go into an Interview worried that you only have volunteer experience or your summer gig as a grocery store Cashier is all you’ve done, that is how they will come across.

Instead, stop and think, what did you learn during that summer as a Cashier? What value did that volunteer experience bring? What did you take away by doing it?

These are the things that will show a Recruiter that, while you may not have specific experience, you understand what you have done and possess the attitude to succeed at doing more.

Be Yourself

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There are three types of Entry Level candidates:

  1. Those who will tell the Recruiter anything they think they want to hear.
  2. Those who will take any job they can get.
  3. Those who are themselves.

Those who are themselves don’t always get the position. But they almost always get the position they are right for.

Because not every person is made for every position. Someone who likes activity and being constantly on the go will not be happy standing at a photocopier for most of the day. Someone who prefers the comfort of daily routine would not enjoy something that requires them to be on the road daily.

So be yourself. You have nothing to lose. Except maybe a position that you wouldn’t have been happy in. That wasn’t right for you. There are no positive long term effects from that. No one wins.

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If you present an accurate and open portrait of yourself in an Interview, the Recruiter will be able to assess how well they picture you fitting within the organization. Maybe you would fit right in. Maybe your personality just wouldn’t be right.

Either way, you can walk away knowing you gave it your best effort. Don’t be distracted by losing opportunities that were not right for you. Because when the right one comes, it will give you all the tools you need to start building a happy and successful career.

Rarely does that happen on the first try. Learn from every Interview. The right opportunity will come. Stay focused. Stay positive. And always be yourself.

At the end of the day, that is all you have to give.

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The Golden Rule Of Leaving Voicemail

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First new message:

Hello Michael, this is Brian Burke calling from Burke’s Brother’s Technical Recruitment Solutions. I was hoping to take a moment of your time to discuss–

BEEP

Message erased. Next new message:

Hello Lippert,

Pleasure is mine. I have come to you through the LinkedOn and have just received Canadian residence. I am now pleased to move to Canada upon job offer–

BEEP

Message erased. Next new message:

Hello Michael,

I am calling to follow up on our interview that we had last week. I hadn’t heard anything and as you suggested am giving you a call to see if there has been any update. I am still available and interested in the opportunity. Give me a call when you have a moment. Thanks.

End of new messages. Goodbye.

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Of the three messages left this morning, only the third leaves the desire to return the call. Unfortunately the call cannot be returned, because the carrier of the message has not left the proper details required in order to contact them.

That must have been George,” said a colleague upon asking around. “He left me the same message.”

If you want to succeed in any sort of business, let alone finding a job, learning how to leave a proper voicemail is paramount, especially in Canada, where no one likes to answer their phone.

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And so, all successful voicemails should leave three things for their recipient:

  1. The nature of the call.

  2. The best way to get back in touch with the messenger.

  3. A desire to call the messenger back.

The first two are simple and go without saying. The third requires confidence and practice.

The first message from the fictional example above is a generic sales messages that is one of many a seasoned Recruiter will receive every day. If the salesperson wants a piece of the Recruiter’s time, they will have to work harder than that.

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Not only does the second message fail to leave a desire to return the call (it doesn’t even get the Recruiter’s name right), it provides an immediate reason for the Recruiter to not return the call. Unless the candidate can fill a noted shortage in the Recruiter’s local labour market, the need to engage overseas candidates should be considered a last resort.

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The third message leaves the desire to return the call, but does not provide the means. Had George provided his name, his phone number, the best time to reach him and a reminder of the position he interviewed for, the Recruiter could promptly return the call. Now the Recruiter is left shuffling to recall the best way to contact George and what he was calling about in the first place.

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This is what George should have said:

Hello Michael,

This is George Svenisen calling. We spoke last Tuesday about the Operations Manager position. You indicated that, had I not heard anything by this time, to follow-up with you. Was wondering if you had received any update. When you have a moment to discuss I can be reached at 856-859-8625 any time today. Thank you.

This is a good voice-mail.

It tells the Recruiter, who is calling (George Svenisen), what they are calling about (Operations Manager position), something specific to jog the Recruiter’s memory (interview last Tuesday), the means to follow-up (856-859-8625) and the messenger’s availability for follow-up (any time today).
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In George’s case, the message has reminded the Recruiter to follow-up on the outcome of his interview and provide the appropriate feedback. It is important to note that Recruiters will rarely, if ever, provide feedback unless they have it to provide. If George does not receive an immediate response, he should not give up. Instead, he should attempt to call back in 2 to 3 business days. Anything less than that and, well…

But there is one rule to always remember when leaving a voicemail. It is the Golden Rule of leaving voicemail:

 Include Only Relevant Information

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While it pains the heart to hear that the reason you will not be able to speak this afternoon is because you are taking your constipated dog to the vet for an emergency enema (not making this up), this is not relevant. What is relevant is that you will be able to speak again tomorrow at 10:00 am once Charlie’s bowels have been properly relieved.

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Nothing turns a Recruiter off of listening to an individual’s voicemail than excuses built around irrelevant information. And so many begin with exactly that:

Hello Michael, sorry to have missed you call, I was out back in the garden and couldn’t hear the phone.

Hello Michael, saw I had a missed call from you. I couldn’t pick up because I was in the basement checking the hot water heater. Haven’t had a warm shower in four days and the wife is starting to get upset.

Hello Michael, I wanted to take your call but was driving my boyfriend’s homework to him. He’s taking an Architecture program and today was the deadline for his big final, which he forgot at home so I had to run it to him. Then I got caught in traffic on the way home because there was construction. Apparently they are building a new high rise by the university. It looks nice, but pricey. Anyway, call me back when you can.

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Instead, stick to the basics and get to the point:

Hello Michael, It’s Sandra Smordsdun calling. Sorry to have missed your call. Am looking forward to speaking with you and will try you again this afternoon at 2:30 pm.

This voice-mail is short, sweet and to the point. The Recruiter knows who is calling and knows when they will call again.  If Sandra does not call again at 2:30 pm, The Recruiter can take this as a sign that she is not serious about pursing the job, and move on accordingly.

3c161843a2d29433ed7a68b1b4e69f5a As suggested above, delivering an effective voicemail with confidence is a skill that requires practice and determination.

The best way to practice is to call yourself from an outside line and leave your best voicemail. Now you will have a document to listen to and analyze.

Think to yourself: If I were to receive this voicemail, would I call this person back?

Do you speak clearly when leaving your voicemail? Is the information relevant to your reason for calling? Do you sound sincere and believable? Do you get to the point?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, try again. Do your best to sound positive and upbeat. Like you really are looking forward to speaking with the Recruiter. Like you really anticipate hearing back from them. Like there really is a reason they should call you back.

If you believe it, so will they. And that is when they will start to return your calls.

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The Worst Interview Response

I do a lot of interviews.

Anywhere from twenty five to fifty a week. That’s at least five a day.

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Of those maybe five will be great. The vast majority will be average to good and a small number will be forgettable. But rarely are interviews ever outright bad. Maybe you catch someone in a tall tale. Maybe you catch someone with more excuses than experience. And in some cases, communication barriers may make the interview incomprehensible.

But rarely ever bad.

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There is one brand of interview, however, that can easily be classified as bad. And that is when the candidate gives The Worst Interview Response.

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Of course, every Recruiter will have a different variation of what they will consider The Worst Interview Response. For me, it is always the same:

“Have you actually read my resume?”

Nothing brings an interview to a screeching halt quicker than the sound of that response.

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Most of my interviews take the same format.

They begin with a confirmation that the candidate is still doing what their resume states they are doing. Once that is settled, the floor belongs to the candidate. Tell me a bit about what you are currently responsible for, will be my opening statement to prompt the candidate into dialogue.

Most candidates will hop right in and happily tell you what it is they are responsible for in their current position. Some will go into great detail. Some require a little more coaxing. Some will give more information than is ever really needed.

But every once in a while, someone will say it:

“Have you actually read my resume?”

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Let’s make something clear. Resumes DO NOT get candidates jobs.

Resumes get candidates interviews.

Interviews get candidates jobs.

Interviews are tests to ensure you can speak to the accomplishments you have listed in your resume.

If a Recruiter has made the effort to get you on the phone, it is because they have given the resume enough thought and consideration to determine that you are indeed someone they wish to interview. Maybe that meant glancing over the document. Maybe that meant reading every line. But no interview with a Recruiter, no matter the circumstances, will come in the absence of a resume review.

A Woman looking over a resume with a pen in her hand

This response is the worst because it rings with an air of smugness and automatically implies that the candidate not only thinks very highly of themselves, but consider the person they are speaking with to have not done their job properly. Not a very good way to set the tone with the person who will be responsible for deciding if your resume is getting forwarded to a Hiring Manager or not.

And should you ever feel compelled to utter this response to a Hiring Manager, well…

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I have seen candidates who’s experience was perfect for the job, lose everything by giving this response to a Hiring Manager. It Happens.

So be professional. Be courteous and when speaking with a Recruiter, don’t worry about whether you believe they have done their job or not. Worry instead about telling them how good you are at doing yours.

That is what we are looking for. That is what will get you in front of a Hiring Manager. That is what will get you the job.

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The Do No Use File

Yesterday my world of Recruitment started the same as every other day.

I went through my normal routine, read my resumes, made my phone calls, left my messages, sent my e mails and was ready to call it a day when Bala called.

The red light on the top of the phone blinked. I had left Bala a message earlier and wanted to speak to him about a position he had applied for.

The dial tone passed it’s second ring. Almost the end of the day. Do I grab it before it goes to voicemail? This position needs to get filled.

I answered.

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Today my world of Recruitment will forever be a little bit different.

If you are a Recruiter and reading this, please do yourself, me and everyone else a little favour and STOP whatever else you are doing.

Now go to your Inbox, right click, and make a new folder.

This is your DO NOT USE Folder.

Do Not UseRecruiters have all the tools in the world provided for them to keep track of their candidates. They are given databases to store resumes, notes, documents, reminders, etc. They can manipulate searches to turn up any kind of resume they are looking for. They can create folders to store groups of similar resumes.

And they use these tools. Every day. Because a Recruiter’s job is to always ensure they know about the best talent, what they do, where they are doing it, for how much, who they are, what makes them happy, what would make them even happier, and so on. Recruitment is a game of separating the good from the bad.

And yet, maybe it is because we are all unapologetic optimists or nice Canadians that don’t want to rock the boat in any way shape or form,

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But we only ever seem to focus our efforts on keeping track of the good candidates.

A good candidate is always handled with grace and care. A bad candidate is usually given no more effort than that which it takes to click the Delete button.

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But why?

Ryan Holmes, CEO at Hootsuite weighed in a few years ago with the following “The U.S. Department of Labor currently estimates that the average cost of a bad hiring decision can equal 30% of the individual’s first-year potential earnings. That means a single bad hire with an annual income of $50,000 can equal a potential $15,000 loss for the employer.”

TekSystems estimate that the average cost of bad hiring in the U.S. can average in the range of $300 Billion.

300 Billion Dollars!!!

Dr Evil

This is a simple cost that Recruiters can easily have a huge impact on, just by doing their jobs a little better.

Which is why today, my Inbox has a Do Not Use Folder

And why Bala is the first candidate going in it.

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The Do Not Use Folder is a powerful tool that gives the Recruiter the capacity to make executive decisions. Talked to a candidate that wan’t very good, sounded a bit dogey, admitted something just a little too shifty for your liking?

Put them in the Do No Use Folder.

You work hard for your company. Make an impact by taking a stand against bad prospective employees. The Do Not Use Folder makes a Recruiter far more than a paper pusher. It makes them a gate-keeper.

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To encounter these people and do nothing is to empower them to get away with their actions. If their conduct is not properly recorded and communicated to the applicable party, what is stopping them from getting away with it somewhere else?

So what about Bala?

I answered the phone and went about my standard routine. I confirmed his current position was indeed still his current position and then asked him to tell me more about it.

When he was done he had told me about the position he was hired for, but nothing about the one his resume claimed he held.

“What about this experience?” I asked.

“I do not have experience in this field,” he replied.

I was shocked.

“So what about this?” I asked, reading off a few points from his resume.

“No, I do not have formal experience in this.”

“So hold on a minute,” I paused him in disbelief.” You’re telling me that from [date] to [date] you did not hold the position of [job]?”

“That is correct.” He replied.

“So why does it say otherwise on your resume?”

He gave an excuse about how it is a field he was hoping to get into and crafted the resume based on his understanding of what some of his colleges do [ed. he actually just copied and pasted lines directly from the job description].

Dumbfounded, I informed him that our conversation could no longer continue.

“I’m sorry to have wasted your time,” were his parting words to me.

“You’re wasting the time of anyone you send this resume to,” were mine to he.

And into the Do Not Use Folder he went, along with an e mail to the Recruitment team advising them not to take this fellow’s call, should he try to reach out directly to any of them.

We as Recruiters should take pride in our companies. We know how much the cost of one bad hire can be. We have the power to be the first people in the organization to have an impact on that number. Should we so choose.

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Interview Essentials: Learn To Hear The Crickets

I know someone who is the greatest guy a friend could ask for. He’s likeable, has a big heart and always means well, but whenever the discussion exits the realm of small talk and into that of heavy duty conversation, he’s a mess.

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Poor guy. His heart is in the right place, his content is interesting, but by the end of any conversation, after droning on like a textbook for the better part of ten minutes, he is usually, unbeknownst to him, the only one in the room left caring.

He just can’t hear the crickets.

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I sat in an interview last year with an ambitious young gentleman looking for an IT position. He was asked to tell us about himself, and he did. A LOT. A lot more than we cared to hear or needed to know. Not just about his previous work experience, but his home, his girlfriend, his mother and there may have been something in there about a dog if memory serves correctly.

He gave us so much information that the time it took him to answer one question was the same time it took the Hiring Manager to log into the company’s on-line ticketing system, close three tickets and respond to two e mails while sitting at his desk, not really listening to any more this gentleman had to say.

God bless his soul but he just couldn’t, for the life of him, hear the crickets.

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Crickets, I’m sure many will know, are those insects that, in the dead of night, when the rustle and bustle of everyday living has been put to bed, you will hear chirping.

When silence falls and no one is left to care, the only sound left will be the crickets.

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Learning to hear the crickets is a simple concept and what they have to say is valuable. In fact it’s the most standard thing one can learn in the art of making every day conversation.

And yet so many people are so wrapped up inside their head, world, or own posterior that they can’t hear the crickets when they sound. They are so concious of themselves that they forget to consider their audience and run the risk of losing them altogether.

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So how does one go about Learning to Hear the Crickets?

Simple:

Pay Attention

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Next time you go to a party, out for a drink or to any sort of social gathering, when the setting is right, tell your favourite joke:

Me: Knock, Knock.

You: Who’s there?

Me: World’s most interrupting dog.

You: World’s most interrupting…

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So, what happened? Pay attention to the response. If people laughed, congratulations, you just commanded the attention of a room. Good job. Give yourself a pat on the back and keep the ball rolling with another.

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However, maybe no one laughed. Maybe a few people turned and walked away. Maybe what you said just wasn’t funny enough to capture the imagination of the group.

If all you heard in response were crickets, they are telling you that it is time to start working on new material.

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The principal remains the same in the interview setting. Pay attention. Does the interviewer seem to be relating to what you are saying? Do they nod their head in recognition to your answers? Do they keep the conversation going by continually asking more about yourself and your background?

If so, you’ve captivated/intrigued/engaged your audience. This is your moment in the spotlight. Enjoy it.

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If the interviewer is not engaging in eye contact, if they stop taking notes/typing as you speak, or if they get on their computer, then the crickets should be telling you something.

They are trying to tell you to wrap it up and get on with yourself. Otherwise you are going to lose this job.

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After all, this is the person who is going to need to work with you for a minimum of forty hours a week. If they aren’t interested in you after fifteen, why would they want to be around for more than that?

Luckily the crickets are there to let you know when this is happening. All you need to do is listen.

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The Money Question

How Much Would You Like To Make?

It’s a simple question.

But, interview after interview, it seems to be the one that interviewers struggle with most.

If you are someone who finds themselves getting a bit jittery in an interview when it comes to The Money Question, you are not alone. It’s a question designed to put you on the spot and see how you react. It’s the one question that can turn even the best interviewer into a stuttering wreck.

Some people get a little uncomfortable when it comes to discussing matters of personal finance.

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Some people just don’t do well at standing up for their own worth.

So, how did you answer the question?

Realistically, you’ve probably never given it much thought. Which seems a little strange, given that it comes up in almost every interview.

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Of course, money isn’t everything and one should always be negotiable in an interview. But it is a big thing and if you haven’t stopped to think about how you answer The Money Question, you may be unknowingly hurting yourself in interviews.

There are various ways to approach answering The Money Question. Here are a few:

The Direct Answer

Get To The POINT

I have automatic respect for anyone who can get to the point when answering The Money Question. It kind of looks like this:

I’m not interested in moving for anything less than X. Is that something you can accommodate?

Short, sweet and to the point.

Why some fear The Direct Answer is because every time you leave negotiation up to Yes or No, sometimes the response will be No. To give an exact number, one risks taking themselves out of the running if it cannot be met. Like Showcase Showdown, if you bid too high, you risk losing everything.

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However, most Recruiters appreciate a straight shooter. It takes confidence to give a straight answer. Even if what you are looking for is too high for the position being interviewed for, we remember good candidates and will stay in touch.

The Range

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Giving a range is the most common way to answer The Money Question. Unlike The Direct Answer, The Range allows you to give yourself a fair evaluation while staying negotiable and competitive.

Ranges should generally stay between incitements of $5,000. You are looking to make $65,000-$70,000. That’s a safe range to stay within. Some people will give ranges of $10,000. Broader and less confident, but not unheard of.

Just remember, whenever giving a range, you see the high end, but the employer sees the low end and you’ll likely settle somewhere in the middle. The bigger the gap, the greater the room for disappointment when the offer comes.

The What I’m Making Now

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I love What-I’m-Making-Nowers. They are the people who answer by telling you what they are making now (or were making at their last job).

There’s an unwritten rule that says every jump in position should result in anywhere from a $1,000 – $5,000 bump in pay. No one wants to leave their job for the same salary after all. If you answer with what you are making now, you are making it easy for a Recruiter to discern what you will be happy with to move.

This approach makes you seem open, honest and fair. No one ever complains about that.

The Reverse Psychologist

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I shouldn’t tell you this, but in a large number of cases, if you flip The Money Question back on your Recruiter, they will tell you their range. They shouldn’t, but not all of them know that.

I, however, am wary of Reverse Psychologists. It makes an interviewer seem uncertain, like they haven’t given any thought to what they are worth. Like they would be willing to take any salary. Or like maybe they aren’t as trustworthy as they first appeared.

Some use Reverse Psychology to have themselves put forward at a salary range far beyond what their capabilities are worth. Unfortunately, Hiring Managers see through this quickly and isn’t beneficial in the long run.

The Negotiator

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I am not a fan of Negotiators.

Negotiators are the shiftiest of all interviewers. They are dishonest and generally waste the time of everyone involved in the interview process. Any time I hear a Negotiator answer to The Money Question, the application is an automatic rejection.

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What is a Negotiator? A Negotiator is someone who doesn’t want to answer The Money Question. Instead what they want is to come in for an interview, meet with the Hiring Manager and be so impressive that they will be in a position to negotiate whatever salary they want.

I am going to tell you something.

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Unless you are counted amongst the most in-demand professionals of your chosen field, This Never Happens. Period. End of story. There is no point going through the entire interview process, to come to the end and find out your expectations are far beyond what we can offer. Everyone’s time has been wasted. Don’t be that person.

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Instead be the person who has put some thought into how they are going to respond next time they are asked The Money Question.

Those are the people that get their resumes pushed through to the next round.

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The Gentle Art of Career Networking

No matter who you are, what you do, or where you went to school, you have probably been told that Networking is the key to career success.

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Networking, so they say, is how you meet people of power and influence. It’s how you make them aware of yourself, your skills and what you have to offer as a human being. It’s your fast track to securing meaningful employment.

“It’s not who you are,” the gurus say, “It’s who you know.”

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And although it is perfectly normal to still get a job by applying to a posting, for the most part, they are right.

The more contacts you have, the more likely people are going to trust you, respect you and want to work with you.  Networking allows you to be more than just a resume or an e mail. It allows you to be a voice, a face and a handshake. It allows you to be a person who means business.

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But with all the constant hammering home of the importance of Networking in the classroom, in the office or on social media, it always boggles my mind to discover, day after day, how bad a lot of people are at it.

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In order to be successful at Networking, you are required to convince someone, probably of a higher status, to “buy into you.”

What does “Buy into you” mean?

It means that you have left your Networkee with some sort of impression. They want to know more about you, who you are, what you know and what you do. It means I like this guy and want to help him. Or that girl is someone I’d be happy doing business with. It means that the person has walked away a little bit more on Team You then they were before.

If you can do that, congrats, you’re a successful networker.

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What the gurus don’t tell you is that bad networking can do just as much, if not more, damage than a bad Resume or Cover Letter. A bad resume can be corrected. A bad first impression can last a lifetime.

So here are the five most common points to consider before trying to Network yourself into a better position.

 

Networking is Reciprocal

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It is always surprising to discover how many people in our modern society have no problem asking for a hand out or a bone be thrown, but are not willing to put in any effort for it. I am constantly inundated with e mails from people wanting jobs and asking if I know anyone within certain companies. I do know people within certain companies. Quite a few.

But I don’t know you, and that is a problem.

Before you reach out and ask someone to throw you a bone, try to connect with them. Spark a conversation. Build some trust and rapport. No one likes feeling used because of the people they know. If it’s hard Intel you want, you’re going to need to convince someone that there is value in being connected with you.

 

Someone’s Reputation Could Be On The Line

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I am a Recruiter. In order for me to do business, the managers, VPs and executives that I know need to trust my instincts. My reputation is built on the quality of talent I can provide. I therefore can’t give out my contacts’ personal information to anyone who asks and hope for the best. That would put my reputation on the line. It would put anyone’s reputation on the line.

It is therefore important to show that you understand and respect that. Should someone be willing to offer their help, you will do your best to not only represent yourself, but the person helping you as well. This is why trust is important. If I go out of my way to get you an interview and you tell the female AVP of Marketing that you’d love the job but could never work with a woman, guess what, you have effectively killed both of our reputations and I may as well start looking for a new job as well.

 

Always Say Thank You

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I believe in honour and respect. A sure fire gauge of honour is a person’s ability to show appreciation for the help they are given.

I can’t count on both hands the number of people who have reached out looking for help over the years and disappear never to be heard from again the moment they get what they are looking for. No Thank You. No Hope Our Paths Cross Again. Not even the simple courtesy of a follow-up Screw You.

Remember, Networking is reciprocal. If someone offers to put their reputation on the line and help you, regardless of the outcome, be courteous and let them know you appreciate their time and effort. A little goes a long way on this point. And, should the outcome be positive, make sure you will be there to repay the favour on the day your Networkee may need you.

 

Make It As Easy For Your Networkee As Possible

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I received an e mail several weeks ago from a fellow I did not know asking for help finding a job and a list of companies he’d like to work for. He asked if I knew anyone at those companies. I did. But in accordance with point 2, wasn’t prepared to shell out contact information.

Instead I offered my time on the phone to discuss his Resume, get a sense of what he was looking for and at the end, see if there was anything I could do to help.  The fellow told me we couldn’t discuss via Skype because he didn’t have it and wouldn’t download it. I agreed to a call. He provided his number and told me to call him.

Let’s stop for an important piece of career advice.

If someone agrees to help you and is willing to get on the phone with you, never, ever, ever, under any circumstances, forever and ever amen, do you ask them to call you. If you can’t make the effort to call someone who is willing to help, why should they be willing to make the effort to help?

What I got out of the discussion with a 45 minute long distance bill. Not a good first impression. Not someone I’ll rush to go out on the line for again.

 

Know What You Want To Gain

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During Post Production for Purple Squirrels, it became evident that help was needed in the sound department. Luckily I connected with an experienced sound professional with a few weeks between projects and enough kindness in his heart to hear what I needed help with.

I got on the phone and told him what the series was, what had been done, what was going to be done, etc. It was a great pitch. His response was even better:“Okay, so what do you need from me?”

In my naivety I expected that pitching the project would prompt in him the insight into exactly what needed to be done to prep for a theatrical release. Instead, what I ended up showing was my lack of formal experience. I had no idea what I needed from this man. All I knew was that whatever it was, I wanted it.

So many people make this mistake. They speak with no idea what kind of help they want or even what it is they are looking for. They assume that, if only they could explain themselves to someone more senior, they would understand. They don’t. If you don’t understand what kind of help you are looking for, no one else will.

If you tell me you applied for a Senior Marketing Manager position at my company a couple of weeks ago but didn’t hear anything back, we can work with that. I happen to know Frank who is hiring for that position and have lunch scheduled with him tomorrow. I’ll follow up and ask where he’s at with the recruit. Maybe I’ll even put in a good word if I like you.

If however, you say you don’t know how I can help, maybe you should go home, do some research and think about it. Once you know, let me know. If it’s something I can help with, I gladly will.

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CTFO – The Four Most Important Letters in Your Job Search

CTFO is one of, if not the most, important acronyms to remember when engaged in a job search.

  • The C stands for Chill.
  • The T stands for The.
  • The O stands for Out.
  • And we’ll leave F to the imagination.

CTFO

Remember it.

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  • This is for the person who is told to follow up with their Recruiter in a week’s time and has left four voice mails in less than twenty four hours. Seriously? CTFO.
  • This is for the person who meets the Hiring Manager and decides to drop by the office to say hello the day after the interview. Don’t you have anything else to do? CTFO.
  • And who could forget the person who sends the same generic e mail every week asking to be considered for any new opportunities that they may be fit for. There aren’t any right now, but we’ll let you know when we have something. Why not CTFO in the meantime?

There’s really nothing more to it than that.

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I get it. You’re sitting at home; you’ve sent 30 resumes to 30 different jobs this week and haven’t gotten any calls back yet, the numbers on your bank account keep going down, and everything around you seems hopeless. You’re not alone. We’ve all been there. Really. But instead of getting upset, anxious, or overbearing, step back, take a breather and CTFO. We’ll all feel better.

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We live in a competitive economy and the risk of another recession seems to loom closer every day. It can be a worrisome, alarming and scary place to live, especially if you are in the unemployment line. But just like you were taught during fire drill at school, remain calm, collected, follow the standard procedure and everything will work out fine.

Truth told, the candidates who don’t know how to take a step back and CTFO during the Recruitment process are the first ones to raise red flags and get cut from the running.

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If I call you about a job on Tuesday and come in Wednesday morning to five separate e-mails asking for updates, you don’t look ambitious. You don’t look eager. You don’t even look keen. You look Desperate. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve never encountered a job description that listed Desperate as one of the key requirements for a job.

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Don’t take this the wrong way. I am not suggesting you shouldn’t follow-up with Recruiters. You most definitely should.

A regular follow-up shows that you are interested in the opportunity and want to keep the dialogue on it open and flowing. It also shows the Recruiter that you have a degree of interest in the position and are not afraid to follow-up on outstanding items. At the very least, it shows that you have other priorities in life than sitting by the phone praying for my call.

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My general rule of thumb for follow-up is once a week. If you haven’t heard from your Recruiter in a week, give them a call or drop them a line. Ask what’s up. We get busy. Sometimes things slip through the cracks. Maybe your e mail will be the reminder we need to call that Hiring Manager and get an update.

Anything beyond a week gets excessive. Recruiters need to coordinate with Managers who need to coordinate with Directors who need to coordinate with VPs to get approval to get approval to get approval to hire you. Trust me; they want to fill the job as badly as you want it. But this stuff doesn’t happen immediately. You have to be willing to CTFO and accept that.

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Instead of sitting at home and calling your Recruiter for the sixth update in two days, why don’t you go outside? Take in the summer sun. Take the dog for a walk. Enjoy the children playing in the park, being happy and free. Anything it takes to let whatever will be to be.

Recruiters hope that you have what it takes to do the job. All we need is for you to CTFO and give us the space required to do ours.

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The Curse Of Over Ambition

One of the things I look for in an interview is Ambition. Someone who knows where they are and where they want to be. Someone who has a clear goal in mind. Someone who is going to be happy doing more than the bare minimum required.

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That is, after all, the stuff companies want to pay good money for.

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I recently had the opportunity to spend a day interviewing students for a former company’s HR co-op position.

It’s interesting interviewing students. You become so hardened over the years with trying to catch people in their tall tales that you forget what it once was to be young and nervous and hoping beyond all measure that you are the one lucky one, out of who knows how many, chosen to be offered a real job.

And when you interview a student, you get to the bare essentials of what separates a successful interview from an unsuccessful one.

Most of the students handled themselves with impressive tact, professionalism, and an arsenal of tips their teachers suggested they try to get the job.

But there was one young lady who stood out.

UK; South Georgia Island; Right Whale Bay; King Penguin chicks

She’d interned at an office during the summer doing Administration and Payroll. She’d also been involved with imputing data into the company’s ATS (Applicant Tracking System), screening resumes, performing phone screens, managing the Healthy & Safety, updating employee files, organizing the office lunch program, and oh, does our company have a recycling program, because if not it’s something she highly recommends and would implement and manage should she be offered the job. She also offered to teach me how to better manage my Inbox to make it more efficient.

It was an easy no.

But wait…huh?

Clarification

One of the things I also look for in interviews is Over Ambition. This girl had it. And then some.

Where Ambition shows that you are driven by something to succeed, Over Ambition shows that you are either overshooting your mark or have more talk than walk. There is nothing that kills an interview quicker than someone who wants to rebuild the Coliseum before the offer is printed.

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The girl I interviewed was an extreme case of Over Ambition. Instead of trying to understand what the company would expect from her and relating that to her own background, she simply started spouting off. She offered everything and the kitchen sink. The conclusion was obvious: instead of focusing on mastering her job and taking ownership of it, she would instead be busy trying to do mine and maybe even my bosses and that is just no good.

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Ambitious people are masters of their domain. They understand the tasks before them and how to best complete them. Over Ambitious people are too busy looking ahead. They are only in their current job so they can get to their next one and usually look at their current tasks as below them. They don’t value learning because they feel they already have it all figured out and because of this, are usually hard to manage. No one, after all, wants to be told that they don’t know how to do their job by the new person. I am perfectly comfortable with the state of my Inbox, thank you very much.

 

Over Ambition can also be a mask for desperation.

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If you were most recently a Technology Manager who was hired to spearhead a major network upgrade that consisted of over 500 servers, then I’m interested. If, in the process, you also discovered a way to reduce network downtime by 60% by implementing a new set of procedures, then you sound like an ambitious person.

However, if you are a Network Manager who single-handedly performed a 500 server Network upgrade, managed all 300 incoming incident tickets per day, implemented brand new software that saved the company a million dollars, was the CEO’s personal point of contact for all technology matters, had your own reserved company parking space, and helped take down the Deathstar, resulting in another 100 million in savings because the Empire was threatening to take over…

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You’re probably a little too Over Ambitious for this gig.

Before you start packing your resume with dollar and percentage signs or talking about how you were the MVP of your last company, take a step back and ask yourself: is this point relevant or self-serving? Is it believable? And if someone were to do some digging and inquire about these figures, would your references be able to back them up? If not, get rid of it. These are the things that separate Ambition from Over Ambition.

Next time a Recruiter asks why they should hire you, don’t try to be all things to all people. Don’t position yourself as the all-encompassing centre of knowledge on everything you come into contact with. And don’t promise the sun, the moon, the stars and all the known matter in the universe. Be yourself, be proud of your achievements and know where you want to go next.

That is something Ambitious people know how to do.

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