The “Athlete”

What makes someone an “athlete”?

This question randomly came up in a recent conversation with a friend. When she responded, her answers were purely physical, “Someone strong, someone [muscularly] built”. Her definition of an “athlete” centered around physical capabilities.

Google the word “athlete” and you get a slew of dictionary-term definitions — a person who is trained or skilled in exercise, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility or stamina. By this definition, I grew up — and am — an “athlete”. I played competitive water polo, ranked nationally as a swimmer, and continue to push my physical limits.

However, when my friend flipped the question back to me, I found I have completely different take on being an “athlete”. To me, being an athlete is about one’s mindset, not physical capabilities.

Being an athlete is:

  • Striving for constant improvement. Kaizen.
  • Knowing that there will be days/weeks/months that suck but pushing through it anyway
  • Knowing that setbacks are just that
  • Taking one step backwards to take two forward
  • Showing consistency and perseverance.

If you have ever done any hiring or recruiting, I’d be willing to bet you have been told to “hire the best athlete”. But, what does this mean?

“Hiring the best athlete” does not mean that you should go look for D1 football players, Boston Marathon runners, or the next Serena Williams. The underlying common trait that these world-class athletes possess, after the super-human genetics that bless them, is that they all have that mindset that sets their drive… their driving motivators.

When you’re told to “hire the best athlete”, hire the ones with the intangibles listed above.

… Then tell them to flex so hard that their sleeves fall off. 😉

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How to lose a candidate in 10 days

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, our thoughts are circling around the hopes of our “interests” liking us as much as we like them!

In Recruiting’s case, we want to make sure our candidates love us as much as we love them.  But, let’s be realistic.  Sometimes, we (recruiting) don’t always do the right things to win them over.  Rather, the question should be… what are we NOT doing?  Hint: The answer isn’t “sending them flowers on their birthday”

Below are 10 ways to lose a candidate:

  1. Job description doesn’t match the actual job duties.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times a Hiring Manager (HM) has given me a job description to post, only for me to find out later down the interview process that s/he is looking for something completely different.  If this is irritating for the recruiter, imagine how the candidate feels.  Make sure what you are asking for is what you actually want.
  2. Failing to update them on their candidacy.  This one is self explanatory, I feel.  If you’re interviewing, wouldn’t YOU want to know where you stand?  Even if it’s a “thanks, but no thanks”
  3. Being non-responsive.  I know a lot of recruiters who let candidates’ emails, phone calls, and text messages just simmer in their inboxes.  I don’t know about you, but doesn’t this scream “I [the recruiter] don’t care enough about your candidacy to respond to you”
  4. Not answering questions directly.  Why don’t you know the answers to their questions?  If you don’t know the answer, did you go find out and then relay the answer back to them?  Not knowing answers is a big red flag.
  5. Related to #3, dancing around questions.  Don’t dance around questions.  Answer them directly.  Show them you are a no-BS type of recruiter/company.
  6. Saying one thing, but meaning another.  “You’re one of our finalists!”… yet they never hear from you again.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
  7. Having a tedious interview process.  Long, drawn-out interview processes are a candidate killer.  There is a limit on what seems appropriate.  Depending on the level of the hire, I’d say anywhere between 4-5 interviews should be plenty to know whether you will hire this candidate or not.  Do not — I repeat, do not — make them go through 8-10-15 rounds of interviews.  It makes it look like you can’t make up your mind, or that the company is unorganized.
  8. Too much shuffling, too little communication.  “Wait, I have a new recruiter?  Who’s this new person the recruiter copied on this email? Why is she emailing me now? Who’s my main point of contact???”  Keep your candidate informed along the way… all steps of the process.
  9. Being arrogant.  This is simple.  Don’t be arrogant.  Candidates know you are the recruiter and that they have to, first, win YOU over before you pass them forward.  That doesn’t give you (the recruiter) the right to completely disrespect your candidate(s).  You were a job searcher at one point in your life, too… and you will likely be one again.
  10. Undervaluing the candidate.  This one is a personal pet peeve.  The candidate comes and says “Today, I make 150k base salary, with a 10% bonus”.  Once the company gets to offer stage, they offer the candidate 120k base, 5% bonus.  That’s a punch in the gut to the candidate.  The sell of “If they want to work here, they will take the offer” doesn’t always fly.

Let’s keep our phenomenal candidates and treat them with the respect they deserve!

Head down, chin up!

Final Round Interviews

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As this quarter starts coming to a close, I have a handful of candidates entering final stage interviews.  They will meet the CEO, and we will either pull the trigger and make them an offer… or they will be left by the wayside.  With that in mind, I thought I’d take the time to shed some light on these nerve-wracking final interviews and give you some insight from the “inside” (generally speaking).

So, you applied for Position ABC at Company XYZ.  You’ve been through a phone screen, a 1st round interview, a 2nd round interview, perhaps a 3rd round interview, and you’ve been invited back for a final round!  Congratulations!

If we take a look at this logically, you would not have made it as far as you have if a) they didn’t like your resume b) you weren’t able to showcase your expertise, or c) they didn’t like you.  I bet that’s some weight off your shoulders, huh?

“But my final interview is with the {enter fancy title here}!!!”  How is this any different from the former interviews you have encountered?  This {enter fancy title here} is just another human being, just like you are.  And, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know my favorite saying… it’s just a conversation!

What can you expect in a final interview?  Great question.  If you’ve made it this far, the team is confident in your ability to deliver what is needed in the role.  They know what they want, and you have it!  Below are some general things final interviews are looking to cover (not an exclusive list):

  • How much do you want to work here?  Very important information.  There are the people who are running away from their current jobs, and then there are the people who are running towards this new opportunity in front of them.  Most companies want the people who are running towards them versus the other option.  Running away is never a good sign.  Why are you running?  What will happen here if you find yourself hating your job?  Will you run?  Tell them – better yet, show them! – how much you want to work there.  Show your excitement for the role, the company, and express your genuine interest in the industry.
  • Career path.  What’s the end goal for you?  We have to make sure our expectations align.  If you are coming in today as an Account Executive, and want to be CEO in the next 2 years… I’m not sure this is the place for you.  If you are coming in today as a Financial Analyst, and 3 years down the line you want to be a Finance Manager… let’s keep talking!  Make sure you know where you are, and where you are going.  Make sure the company lines up with what you want for yourself.
  • Culture fit.  What does this even mean?!  A company’s culture defines them.  It is the characteristics, values, and beliefs that make them who they are.  It is the “personality” of the company, if you will.  Do you fit into that personality?  Does it fit you?

As with any interview, come prepared with questions.  Show your interest in the company, and show you’ve done your research.  Interviews are two-way conversations.  As much as we are interviewing you, you are also interviewing us.  Take your time to get your questions answered, and we will do the same.

As always… head up, chin down!  Good luck!

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!

Working with Recruiters (Hiring Manager version)

Hiring Managers, this post is for you.

As your recruiter, my job is to help you hire your perfect candidate.  My job is to understand your group’s weaknesses, faults, and areas that you need to improve upon.  My job is to help you fill the gaps and inconsistencies.  My job is to help you.  I have said it a couple of times in previous posts, “help me, help you”.  We work as a partnership.  We need to be friends and each others’ most critical colleague.  

In my career as a Corporate Recruiter, I have come across different Hiring Manager types:

  1. The “Helper”.  In my opinion, this is the best type of Hiring Manager to work with.  This is the one who wants to help the Recruiter do their job.  Responding to emails, answering calls, providing feedback, being readily available for interviews… all in a timely manner.
  2. The “Do It For Me”.  This is the Hiring Manager who thinks that the perfect hire comes without work.  That they will just appear.  Typical behavior of this Hiring Manager is a “do what you want with the candidate” attitude.  Everything is done … albeit, slowly, and at their availability. 
  3. The “Ghost”.  This Hiring Manager is the hardest to work with.  They are the ones who never respond to emails, calls, text messages.  They don’t provide feedback on candidate resumes, interviews, or questions about their open positions.  They are the ones who get angry at you for not filling their position three weeks ago, when you otherwise hadn’t heard a peep from them.  

Each profile has their pros/cons, as with everything in life.  But as YOUR Recruiter, here are some suggestions on how to work with the ones who are trying to hire for you:

  1. Be responsive.  All the time, on time.  We work hard for you.  We cold call, research (some call it “career stalk”!) candidates, extensively screen candidates for tough information (ie: salary and compensation structure, reasons for leaving, what they hate about their current position).  We spend a LOT of time trying to find the best candidate for you.  Please respond timely to emails/phone calls.  Your company’s Candidate Experience relies on it also.  
  2. Provide feedback.  Did I send you a candidate profile that wasn’t a good fit?  Tell me why.  Was it his personality?  Was he missing a programming language?  Did he not show up to the interview?  Wrong background?  Too tenured, too junior?  The more feedback we get from you, the more refined our search becomes for your perfect hire.
  3. Accept interviews.  We understand you are busy doing your “real” job… the one your title suggests.  But, to build out your team, you will need to accept interviews at odd hours (sometimes after 5pm).  If you don’t make time to interview these candidates, how can we get to the point of extending an offer?  Bottlenecks are not good.
  4. Be open minded.  No candidate (and I repeat … no candidate) that is 100% what you are looking for.  Be open, and willing, to think outside the box.  You never know who may surprise you, and with what. 

As always… chin up, head down!  Work hard, stay humble.

 

Hiring Process [infographic]

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Let’s take a look at this infographic.  What this is saying is that: for every 1000 people that see a job posting, only about 100 actually complete the application.  If the company you applied to uses a resume scanning software, only 25% of those applicants make it through to a live human being.  Of those 25% that made it to a live screening, only 4-6 get selected to interview.  Only about half of those interviewers get selected for final round interviews.  And, only ONE gets offered the position.

The numbers are shocking, aren’t they?  

So, now you ask… why isn’t my resume making it through?  Simple answer: you don’t have the right keywords in your resume.  This is how a resume scanning software works.   A recruiter puts certain keywords from the job description (example: enterprise sales, solution selling, consultative, SaaS, Cloud).  Any resume that comes through the system that does NOT have those keywords, automatically get thrown into the “reject” pile.  The resumes that DO have those keywords, move forward in the process.

“But, wait!  I’m qualified!”

While not all companies use this scanning tool, the ones who do are looking to narrow down their candidate pool to ones that have the highest probability of being a match for what they are looking for.  

“What does that mean for me?”

Take the time an customize each and every resume you’re sending in.  It sounds like a hassle, but as statistics show, you’ll have a much better chance of making the “cut” if you can identify keywords from the posting and insert them into your resume.  It takes a mere 5 minutes, and can save you the heartbreak of another rejection email.

 

As always, keep your head up!  The search for your dream job isn’t easy, but it WILL be worth it!