Blogs

Top 10 Career Transition Questions: #7 How do I get people to care about my story?

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Blog post by Barton Career Advisors Founder and Managing Partner Chris Barton

This blog is part of a series addressing some of the most compelling questions for those that are beginning a career search. During the last 6 years, we have been asked hundreds of questions related to career transition and best practices. Here we are distilling those queries down to the 10 most critical need to know responses. Here is #7 of 10, discussing your unique selling proposition.

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Job Market Trends: Plentiful vs Hard to Get

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Something unique is happening in the job market and no one is paying a bit of attention. While most of us were squeezing in one more summer vacation or doing back to school shopping, employees left their jobs in what appears to be record numbers! Allow me to explain.

The US economy is into to its sixth year of job recovery. Relative to the labor market there has been a slow but steady environment of job creation with an average of 211,000 jobs created per month in 2015 while the unemployment rate has dropped .4 percentage points during that time. In August, while a little below average, 173,000 jobs were created, prompting unemployment to drop from 5.3% to 5.1%. All of this has happened right in front of us, with very little impact on the mindsets of employees and hiring managers.

A lack of awareness of the recent turnover makes sense on a base level. We have had very little, if any, wage pressures or inflation. There has been no real pain for employers. Sure, we hear the market talking about some skills sets that are in short supply. That STEM jobs never really felt the recession. But, job postings that used to produce a slate of candidates, well, no longer produce quality candidates. In fact, in July the US set an all time record going back to the year 2000 for the number of jobs posted. Yet hiring was about the same, yet consistent number? Why?

What is the shift? Voluntary Turnover. Every Monday morning we are getting calls and messages pointing out the obvious. Employees are leaving for greener pastures. And, more than likely, they were not even looking for work. They either got a call from a friend, someone sent them a job posting, or perhaps they got a call from a recruiter. At 5.1% there are fewer being laid off, fewer who are unemployed. There are simply less active job seekers available now than there have been since 2007 (pre-recession). And the pressures of this environment are now starting to show during planning sessions with talent acquisition professionals. For most, business is good, earnings are up. Revenues hanging in there. Now we have talent gaps, shortages and resignations? What next?

But Burkhard, where is your hard data? This is just conjecture and first-hand marketplace experience. Trust me, we are looking for others that are studying this. And we are working on plans to launch our own survey very soon. But here is my proof.

The Conference Board just updated Jobs Survey Results — a survey they have done for 20+ years. September is the first time since late 2007 that the proportion of respondents “who are finding jobs plentiful equals that for those who are finding jobs hard to get. The last two times the ‘plentifuls’ first exceeded the ‘hard-to-gets’ after an economic slowdown were 1996 and 2005.” In both of those period jobs, unemployment, and frankly a good economy followed. (Source: Bloomberg, Wells Fargo Investment Institute)

So mark my words: what we see is real. If the economy holds up we are entering a new era in employment. Get ready for turnover. Be prepared for job postings to produce less. Get conditioned to recruitment and talent being critical business issues that hold back your business. Employees have had choices. They and their employers simply did not know it. Demand is so strong that the jobs are coming to them!

I am not sure business is prepared for what’s to come. Expect Monday morning surprises “Hey boss, do you have a minute?” Your talent strategy will stop producing they way it did. Your turnover could and should spike, regardless of your focus on talent, culture and employee engagement. Whatever your talent weakness has been, it will be exploited!

Got data? Lets talk! We have many, many relationships that are seeing this ‘plentiful vs. hard to get’ trend.

Looking for a job? Use this one superpower you didn’t know you had.

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by Outside-In® Team Member Kelly Hocutt

Have you ever asked or been asked, “if you could have one superpower, what would it be?” My guess is that you have. But, have you ever applied this question to searching for a job? Perhaps — “If you could have one superpower to land your dream job, what would it be?” This has to be pretty common as well. It’s only natural to daydream about ideal job search scenarios when you’re beginning to feel desperation after weeks or months of searching for a job. So, what superpower would you wish for?

Would you want to read the interviewer’s thoughts so that you could formulate your answers or change your interview behaviors based on his or her negative thoughts about you?

Or would you wish for time travel capabilities so you could go into the future to see what the process looked like and what questions would be asked of you?

There are plenty of fun superpowers that would be pretty neat to have to help land a job. But while tackling every step of the hiring process, from getting noticed to landing the job is hard to accomplish, you don’t need any superhuman powers. Everyone has an inner superpower to help score a job. But not every job seeker whips this one out of their quiver.

A few years ago at a TED conference, Amy Cuddy clued people in on this skill in her talk, “Your body language shapes who you are.” She introduced the idea of “power posing,” and how our body language can change how we see ourselves. She shared that when people stand in a posture of confidence, even when they don’t feel confident, the posture can affect the chemicals in the brain, which then makes you feel more confident.

Amy recommends you use this to your advantage in social situations where you are being evaluated. And what could be better time than an interview or hiring process to use the power pose? (Time: 12:50) The published research recommends finding 2 minutes before your interview to stand in a power pose. The high power posers were recorded as being more confident, passionate, enthusiastic, authentic, comfortable and captivating when compared to the low power posers. These are all things that are found more appealing to hiring managers and interviewers.

Will you give a power pose a try?

When do company values go wrong?

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We are in an era where workers are looking for reasons to why a business exists beyond making money. A time when it’s commonplace to discuss the greater purpose of a business and the values that are important to both the leaders and employees of a company. The values of a company are the personality of the place. The behaviors that the founder(s) and leaders want from all employees in their absence. These behaviors act as an ongoing compass that provides employees direction when they are on their own or faced with an opportunity or crisis in the business. When the business purpose is not clear, it is almost assumed that the purpose is to make money. But today there are so many other reasons for the business to exist; to do good for social causes, to be active in the community and to exist for greater good!

So, in the modern business world we celebrate values. Google is famous for the value or corporate motto “Don’t be evil”, which really encourages all employees to think morally about the impact of their decisions on the people who use their service. And as the legends suggest, software engineers often pound the table when a suggested change will do evil.

Despite businesses as large as Google or Zappos having values and a greater purpose than just making money, I am asked frequently about the implications of having corporate values. What happens when the company values are misinterpreted by employees, or even customers for their personal gain? “Don’t be evil” is regularly misquoted as “Don’t do evil.” Big deal? Not so sure.

One of our values that is often misquoted at Outside-In® Companies is being Front Door. Picture a house with three doors; a front door, side door and back door. Now imagine how communication flows in any good size group. Inevitably issues and opportunities arise. Conversations need to happen. Not everyone likes, knows how or knows when they need to have the hard conversations that represent being Front Door. So being direct is front door, being indirect is side door, and water cooler chatter or gossip is back door.

front-door

Now imagine that an employee misinterprets the Front Door value as their right to say anything they want directly, regardless of tone or its impact. For instance, screaming expletives and justifying the behavior by saying, “I am just being Front Door” is an abuse of the value’s intent. And undermines the goal, which is to get in front of small problems before they fester into larger ones. Front Door is not a right to be mean or to lack other professional attributes when you go about your business. When this happens, it can mean one of two things. The employee has a misunderstanding of the meaning of the value OR that employee is misusing the value with intent of personal gain, and therefore is not a culture fit.

To elevate this another level, what happens when a leader appears to behave in a way that defies the values? When leaders run a company in defiance of its values, only bad things happen and a decline is inevitable. For example, when a leader continues to promote an employee that habitually defies the company values, a ripple effect of decline is inevitable. The key word for leaders to note is “appears.” A leader may be acting within the definition of the value(s)’s intent, but the appearance of defiance can have a ripple effect as well. In this case, the onus is on the employee to be Front Door with the leader to say “you are not living X value.” This gives the leader a chance to explain the missing perspective and prevent a decline. Having company values feels good, but living values and holding teammates accountable is the mark of a true values-based organization.

I am collecting stories where values have gone bad or have been misinterpreted or misquoted for the purpose of personal gain. Please send them to me at Icanhelpyou (at) thecbigroup (dot) com or share them in a comment below.

6 Things to Know about Hiring Managers in 2015

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While not all hiring managers are alike, there are some common hiring trends in 2015 that can give job seekers clues for preparing for their job search and interviews. Here are 6 things about hiring managers in 2015 that will help you get inside their head.

  1. They care about your relevant work experience, skills and the reputation of your previous employer more than your volunteer experience, GPA and the schools you attended, according to a Hiring Manager Survey published by Staffing Industry Analysts. Hiring managers ranked work experience and skills as the most important aspects of a resume when considering moving a candidate to the interview phase. Be sure to highlight these two sections on your resume, as hiring managers across generations find them important.
  2. Hiring managers may prioritize different things, depending on their generation. The same Hiring Manager Survey examined the preferences of Baby Boomer, Generation X and Millennial hiring managers, and learned that different generations have varying perspectives. Boomers weigh the interview more heavily, Millennials the candidate’s education level, schools attended and GPA, and Generation X the resume. Proven results and references were more important to Boomers (61% and 30%, respectively) than Millennials (44% and 21%, respectively). And the source of finding candidates were the most polarizing results — 2X as many millennials trust Facebook (45%) and Twitter (28%) to identify candidates versus the other generations (Gen Xers: 27% and 14%; Boomers: 15% and 9%). Pay attention to your hiring manager to understand what their preferences may be – it may give you a leg up in the interview process.
  3. They notice when you use a generic resume for all job postings. 90% of hiring managers admit they always or sometimes notice when a resume isn’t tailored to the role in question. We generally recommend that you customize your resume and cover letter for each job that you apply to, and especially now so after hearing this statistic.
  4. They are less likely to hire you if they can’t find you on line. According to the Social Media Recruitment National survey, which was conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder by Harris Poll this year, 35% of employers are less likely to interview applicants that they can’t find online. The key here is that presence itself is important. If they can’t find you, they may not invite you in for an interview. In addition, 56% want to see that you have a professional online persona.
  5. More than half of hiring managers use social networking and search engine sites to research you. CareerBuilder’s survey showed that a majority of employers now use social networks to screen candidates. 52% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, up significantly from 43% last year and 39% in 2013. Additionally, 51% of hiring managers use search engines to research candidates. While being found online is important (see on #4), so is having a good online reputation. But don’t be too fearful about hiring managers looking you up online. They aren’t hoping to find something negative – 6 in 10 are “looking for information that supports their qualifications for the job.” It’s valuable to search yourself online and know what hiring managers will learn about you on the Internet. Put yourself in their shoes, and if you find something online that you aren’t proud of — remove it, or begin to make changes to your online reputation.
  6. Hiring managers are less likely to hire you if you don’t send a thank you note. 22% of employers are less likely to hire a candidate if they don’t send a thank-you note after the interview, according to the CareerBuilder Survey of Hiring Managers. Don’t let a thank you note keep you from getting the job! And while you’re at it, be sure to personalize it like you do with your resume and cover letter!

In the course of your job search process you come across different types of people along the way, and each of them are making decisions about you. Gaining an understanding about them and what makes them tick will give you a different perspective on how things work. Working these 6 generalities about hiring managers into to your career transition path, may be the difference between a hiring manager saying “yes” or “no” to moving you into the next steps of the hiring process.

Top 10 Career Transition Questions: #6 What are your career accomplishments?

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Blog post by Career Transition Coach, Mary Schaefer

This blog is part of a series addressing some of the most compelling questions for those that are beginning a career search. During the last 6 years, we have been asked hundreds of questions related to career transition and best practices. Here we are distilling those queries down to the 10 most critical need to know responses. Here is #6 of 10, discussing your career accomplishments.

Do I have access to records regarding my professional history and accomplishments like performance appraisals and other reports?

I see it all the time. Far too often I am sitting with a professional when he or she discovers that they really needed to be more focused over the years in keeping track of their professional history. We are not just talking about simple career chronology here. Accomplishments are the backbone of your professional story and so many of us do not take the time to reflect on our contributions. The people we speak to in our coaching practice always share how busy they had become simply doing their respective jobs. The key is, you can make career transition much easier by having some helpful documents at your fingertips.

After I went through my first downsizing experience, I realized how hard it can be to update my resume without good records of my career accomplishments. Frankly, the experience of going back through a 16-year career to analyze my accomplishments was extremely painful. The benefit however, was great reflection time on the value that I bring to the marketplace. When I started my next role, I adopted the habit of keeping a running log of my work assignments, accomplishments and training. I found this practice highly beneficial. It helped in the preparation for my performance appraisals with my manager, made developing a LinkedIn profile a little easier, and worked wonders in keeping my resume up-to-date.

Depending on the situation you’re in, whether it is career transition or career management, be sure you acquire or copy critical documentation like your training records, project presentations, records of certifications, and any other professional history that your employer keeps on file. And be sure to keep your own running log as a backup plan. It will serve you in so many ways down the line, making difficult situations just a little bit easier.