Burning Bridges, Part III

People continue to amaze me.  And, unfortunately, not always in a good way.  

LinkedIn is, as defined by Google:

… the world’s largest professional network with millions of members and growing rapidly. We can help you: Establish your professional profile and control one of the top search results for your name. Build and maintain a broader network of professionals you can trust.

The key word here is “professional network”.  A professional network, as defined by Wikipedia:

… is a type of social network service that is focused solely on interactions and relationships of a business nature rather than including personal, nonbusiness interactions

Check out this beauty of a LinkedIn message I received on Friday:

BURNING BRIDGES.

Since when has LinkedIn started allowing this?  I guess they don’t and can’t control what people do.  But… What made this person think it was ok for them to solicit an “honest and happy relationship” on LinkedIn?  Let alone, send it to about 10 different people in bulk?  

If being a recruiter has taught me anything, it is to personalize every message you write to target your audience.  This person obviously didn’t heed this lesson.  Oh, the irony.

 

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Interview Question: What was the worst career move you have made?

I have gotten this interview question a few times in my career, and every time I thought to myself, “Well, that’s negative, isn’t it?”  But, as you take a step back and think about why the interviewer is asking it, you begin to realize exactly what they are trying to figure out.

If you ask me what my biggest career move, this is how I’d answer:

Out of college, I entered the world of sales.  I was good at it and made a lot of money.  I made a natural progression into Recruiting.  But, there came a point where I wanted to see what else I could do.  So, I left sales/recruiting and was hired as the Executive Assistant to the CEO of a biotech company.  It was a role completely foreign to me, but one that I wanted to explore.  I wanted to see what else I was capable of.

Within a few months, I knew that I had made a huge mistake.  I was miserable, and immediately started my job search.  It had absolutely nothing to do with the company or the people I worked with.  It was me.

I quickly learned that I was a proactive employee.  I like being responsible for my day.  I like knowing that I will “fail” if I don’t continue to put in work.  I like knowing that the work I put in today, pays off tomorrow.  I learned that some people are reactive employees, and like being given projects to be done on a deadline.  I was not that person.

Being proactive is like a game to me.  I’m competitive by nature and can’t just stand by and watch things happen.  And, that’s how I landed back in Recruiting.  My work is measurable and defines my success.

So, my “mistake”?  Going outside of my comfort zone.

The real question behind the real question?… What lessons have you learned along the way?

As always… head up, chin down!  GOOD LUCK!

Job Hunting is Like Dating!

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Friends, we have all been there.  The wonderful world of dating!  Whether you are still courting your neighbor, flirting with every cute girl that walks into your office space, spending your time with your one-and-only (for now), or fully committed to Prince Charming… we have all “been there”.  The trials and tribulations of dating teaches us so many things in life.

… Like how to job search!

What?!  Seriously, Lianne?  Yes!  Let me explain.

PART 1:  Finding the “one”

  1. Setting standards.  As in dating, we need to know what we want.  If you have no direction, how will you ever find Mr. Right?  Take your standards and apply them to your job search.  What are you looking for?  What excites you?  What is an absolute deal-breaker?  What are you willing to compromise on?  Do you have your heart set on anything?
  2. First impressions matter.  Ask anyone about what they first noticed about their partner?  For fun, I asked my sister’s boyfriend and he responded, “How put together she was compared to everyone else”.  Couldn’t have said it better.  What is going to set you apart from everyone else?  How will the employer remember you, and not the guy who interviewed before you?
  3. Desperation stinks.  Who wants a stage-five clinger?  Don’t be that person.  Employers want to know they are hiring someone with options, not someone who will take the first thing thrown at them.  They want to know they are investing in YOU and what you bring to the table.
  4. Be yourself.  You want your date to like you for who you are… not who you pretend to be.  In the same regard, employers want to hire YOU!  Not who you are pretending to be.  Facades only get you so far.
  5. Two way street.  Dating is a two way street.  Do you like me as much as I like you?  No?  Then it probably will not work out in the long run.  A job hunt is the same way.  While it may work in the short-term, the company has to be just as much a fit for you, as you are for them.
  6. No big egos.  Big egos are a turn-off in almost any situation.  Need I say more?

PART 2:  Stages

  1. Courting.  Flirting with disaster?  Luring the forbidden?  Whatever you call it, you need to find a way to make them notice you!  How will you do that?  Wearing a big sparkly hat at the restaurant?  Maybe.  In a job search situation, being an industry expert certainly sets you apart.
  2. Dating.  This is essential.  It is where people learn about each other, where they learn whether or not they like what is under the makeup, where they determine if you fit their “standards” (see Part 1, #1).  Dating is like interviewing.  It’s a time for both parties to ask questions, to probe and to prodder about things that they want to know about, to find out what they love and hate about you.
  3. The Close.  After a few weeks, you know you’re 100% into her.  You want to spend all your time with her, and no one else.  You know you’ve found the match!  Now what?  Close to deal.  Make her your “better half”.  Just as in dating, when you find that company that is a mutual fit, find a way to seal the deal.  Sell them on your ability to transform their organization.

What do you think now?  Dating and job searching are pretty similar, huh?  That’s what I thought.

I wish you all a life full of happiness together 🙂

 

As always… chin up, head down!

 

Burning Bridges, Part II

I am an optimist.  I always try to find the best in people… Until I encounter something ridiculous.  I am always surprised by what I encounter on a weekly basis as a recruiter.

When interviewing with a company, the rule of thumb “don’t burn bridges” applies greatly.  I had a candidate who was interviewing for one of my open positions.  Seemingly great background, good personality match, and he and I had a great conversation.  But, we aren’t moving forward with him…  And here is why:

  1. Hung up on his interviewer.  He was mid-conversation with the Hiring Manager (HM) when the HM asked a tough question about management, who he works under, etc.  Understandable question since HM used to work for this candidate’s current company.  The candidate must have been terrified because he quite literally hung up on the HM, and was not reachable after that.
  2. Was misleading about their employment.  As mentioned above, the HM had previously worked at the candidate’s “current” company.  I put current in quotes because the candidate was no longer an active employee.  Naturally, we (recruiters) will find out as much as we can about a candidate through means of our own.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts… We know people, who know people.
  3. Hit on the recruiter.  Check out the final email I received (below).  This is not ok.  Ever.

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My advice?  There is a way to bow out of an interview (or anything, really) gracefully.  Don’t burn bridges; you never know when you will need that network.

“Help me, help you”

As Jerry Maguire so famously said, “Help me, help you.”

I receive emails from former colleagues on a weekly basis, without fail.  “Can you help me with my resume?  Can you help me with my job search?  How do I go about this interview?”  I would LOVE to help you.  Honestly, I would.  The whole reason I got into recruiting was because I love helping people.

But, unfortunately, I can’t do it FOR you.  If you need help with your resume, have a barebones/skeletal one that we can work off of.  I can help you make improvements, can offer suggestions, and offer insight from a recruiter’s point of view.  If you want me to help you with your job search, tell me what you’re looking for… show me you’ve done some work researching the company, position, and qualifications.  Want help with the interview?  Great!  What exactly do you want to work on?

Too many times, I feel people want me to DO their work FOR them.  I can’t do that for you, friends.  I don’t know your deepest, darkest desires.  I don’t know what makes you excited, nor what makes you tick.  I don’t know where you want to be 10 years from now, let alone where you want to be tomorrow.

So, before you go out and ask your recruiter friends for help, do yourself (and them) a favor and do your homework first.

 

Chin down, head up! 🙂

What I Would Tell My 20-Year-Old Self…

I often think back to my college days and whether my choices may, or may not, have directed me to where I am today.  And the answer is a resounding YES.

The beginning of my college career was interesting.  I started off as pre-med / pre-pharmacy, and I KNEW I didn’t want to pursue a career in healthcare.  Why I did it, you ask?  Because my parents wanted me to.  Not that they wouldn’t have been happy with me having a career in business, but because in their generation, a career in healthcare meant stability and job security.  I struggled for nearly two years to tell them I didn’t want to pursue their dream.  All the while, I was still taking courses I had absolutely no interest in.

Once I broke the news to my parents, I realized I was on my own now.  They knew nothing about any industry outside of healthcare.  I was left to navigate the rest of my adult life… by myself.  Scary!  

Over the second half of my college years, I found a major that was broad and useful in many aspects of “business”.  I had two minors where I explored interests I had – like real estate, property management, and language skills.  In that time, I took internships in the hours I wasn’t working or in school.  Some of those internships were absolute disasters; I’d go home hating my life and dreading the next 2 hour day I had to work.  Some of those internships really piqued my interest, and I continued searching for positions in the same category.

In the end, my decisions absolutely led me to where I am today.  What I didn’t realize when I was 20, I realize now.  They say “hindsight is 20/20”, and that couldn’t be closer to the truth.

  • Things are going to be hard.  Sometimes, very very hard… and both physically and emotionally draining.  And when you think you’re going to give up.  Don’t.  You have the capability to push through any tough phase because that’s all it is – a phase.
  • Don’t study/pursue something just because someone else “wants” you to, or tells you to.  Your interests are your own.  You are a unique individual, and no one can tell you what you’d be good at.  Figure that out on your own.
  • Take a personal finance course.  Once you realize you don’t have the financial support of anyone else but yourself, you have to know how to best utilize your assets.
  • Take a social etiquette course, where ever you can find one.  You may think it’s ridiculous to learn how to fold your napkin when you walk away from a table, but you will likely have many business dinners in your future where this will come in handy.  
  • Take a course in interviewing / resume writing.  Believe it or not, interviewing is a skill that can be taught.  And just as you learned how to write essays in middle-school, it’s time you learn how to draw up a great resume.
  • Start networking.  And never stop networking.  You never know when the person you are talking to in your 20s, will be the next-big-thing’s CEO.  
  • If there is only one thing you take away, make it this.  This is a marathon, and not a sprint.  You are not going to accomplish what you want without a few bumps along the way.  But each speed bump is just a reminder to keep yourself motivated, and to keep pushing forward.

What Happens When You Assume…

I oftentimes get asked by friends to make edits to their resumes.  I actually really enjoy doing this.  It allows me to do a few things:

  • Sharpen my own skills
  • See where “the norm” is for resume writing
  • Realize where a lot of people go wrong
By example, I recently was helping a friend edit their resume.  The resume went back and forth with some edits, both on formatting and content.  My friend’s final draft came back with a note saying, “I took your edits and am using them as a guideline for interview questions, and I have answers prepared for them.”  The suggested edits were not in the resume. 
I cannot emphasize this enough – DO NOT ASSUME.  Do not assume anything.  Do not assume you will GET that interview to tell the interviewer your answers to the questions he wants to hear.  Do not assume that the recruiter knows what you are talking about when you say “Displayed great communication skills” (what does that even mean??).  
Leave nothing to chance.  If you want someone to know, tell them.  You may feel it will sound redundant if/when you get that interview, but at least you have covered your bases.
So, as you are preparing your resume, ask yourself:
  • What do I want the reader to know?
  • What do I know about my skills/qualifications that the reader does not?
  • How can I explain this to a reader who doesn’t have a background in what I do?
  • How can I show the reader that I am good at what I do?
  • How can I make myself stand apart from everyone else?
  • What kinds of questions would the reader have for me? How can I best answer them?
  • How can I make my resume easy for the reader to pinpoint me as the best candidate?
Good luck!  And, as always… I’m all ears!