Hiring/Recruiting

5 Ways to Reclaim Your Power in Your Job Search or Career

Humans have a primal need to be heard, acknowledged, and appreciated.  The job search process, even working, can give people quite the opposite experience. Putting yourself out there, crossing your fingers, and hoping that someone likes you enough to talk to is degrading.

The default mode of job seeking is reactive; you see a job opening posted, then you follow the instructions on the platform or in the job description to apply. You then get funneled in with all the other applications and hope that it is received and that your value is appealing enough to get an invitation to take next steps. The ball is in the other court this whole time.

But statistics show that we are in a very strong job-seekers market. There have been more job openings in the US than unemployed workers for a good year now.

How can that be? Wouldn’t that mean that all applicants would get a fair chance? No. Of course, you need a strong résumé, rich with keywords used in context to demonstrate your qualifications. However, using your résumé purely as a tool for job applications is a disempowered strategy.

There are things that you can do to make things happen in your job search, and you may not believe that it’s true until it happens to you. This means that you should experiment. Give a few, or all of these tactics a try and allow yourself 3 weeks of dedicated effort in job searching. During this time, stop spending your time on reactive activities such as scouring job boards and applying online. If something pays off with an introduction, interview, or offer, keep doing it and abandon what hasn’t been successful.

I’ll bet you’ll like how it feels to know that you can not only generate leads that you would never have found on Indeed, but that you can also get others to generate leads for you and multiply your results without multiplying your time. Generate leads, generate momentum, and then have your choice of position rather than only being able to consider those jobs that you found on job boards when everyone else is vying for the same jobs.

I’ll bet one of the methods below will lead you to have an interview for an opportunity that outside job seekers don’t even know about yet. All of the methods below have worked for my clients, so they have already been proven to succeed.

In order to make this work optimally, you will need*:

  • A branded résumé that not only qualifies you, but makes your unique value evident.
  • A complete, branded LinkedIn profile written in 1st person that supplements and compliments your résumé (not replicates it) and shows that you are a dynamic, interesting person outside of your work as well.
  • A target list of at least 25 companies that have cultures that will enable you to thrive – this activity will lead to positive momentum, and an acceptable job offer if you’re not wasting time making progress with companies where you ultimately would not want to work. THIS LIST IS NOT BASED ON JOB POSTINGS YOU’VE SEEN. This might sound counter-intuitive, but the point of these proactive efforts is to pursue organizations based on their fit to you, not whether they have an opening for you!

* If you don’t have all three of the following, schedule a free consultation with me.

1. Volunteer

It’s not always easy finding opportunities to volunteer, as strange as that sounds. I was new in business when I first started volunteering and I pursued well-known organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the Red Cross, but opportunities seemed to be targeted at organized groups, not individuals. I spoke with a client who was also involved in local government and asked about opportunities in the community. Because of that, I wound up being a race marshal and handing out water to runners at a couple of 5Ks. These were great opportunities, and they got me started, but I didn’t meet anyone, and it wasn’t always clear when I showed up of how I was going to help. Sometimes I took it upon myself to help out in the best way I could, and then found out I was doing it wrong. This was still good experience for me, and you need to remember that some organizations are better at volunteer training than others.

But, it doesn’t matter how you start. Just start. If you’ve been undervalued at your job or you have been transitioning for a while, it is easy to forget why you are so valuable. Being helpful in any way can remind you of your value. It doesn’t always create a direct line to opportunity, but it can potentially. It’s led to many opportunities for me and my clients. Check out opportunities at volunteermatch.org. See what non-profits leaders in your target companies support. Ask avid networkers you know where movers and shakers they know volunteer their time and talents.

In past articles, I encouraged you to volunteer at professional organization events, like volunteering to speak on a topic within your expertise that can help other professionals be more successful, or you can pick a cause for which you have passion. If you spend your free time worrying about a problem, you’ll gain power by doing something about it.

Volunteering is something you’ll want to add to your LinkedIn profile and it something that can look favorable to companies that value and promote community and social impact. Also, it’s much harder to validate that you are passionate about something if you aren’t spending time in it or doing it. You know you are passionate when you would spend your time doing something whether you are paid or not. Everyone says they’re passionate, volunteering proves it.

2. Approach letters

If you have a cover letter template, scrap it. I’m not talking about a cover letter that you attach to your online application, which can be a way to find out if you have strong written communication skills. I’m talking about a letter of interest that you send directly to your would-be direct supervisor in your target company. The qualification for who receives it is NOT based on the recipient having a posted job opening, but if the company has a need, challenge, or initiative that you can bolster by being part of the team. This is not a request for a job, but rather a request to talk further about the company’s future plans and how you can support them. It’s more like you are a consultant who is trying to identify whether you offer a skill or service that this company needs, but you do your homework ahead of time and drop some bread crumbs that entice the recipient to know what the recipe is.

The letter must explicitly lay out what you know about the company, and how that implicates your added value. Connect the dots between the problem and how you have added value to such endeavors in the past. The call to action is to invite the recipient to a 20-minute discovery call, just to see if what you offer is a match for what they need.

Even if you are committed to a full-time permanent opportunity, position yourself as someone flexible about terms. This also communicates that you are confident that you can add value in the short term.  While you are there adding short-term value, you can gain insights that enable you to pitch a long-term value proposition.  Make yourself indispensable, and you will have the leverage to ask for all the perks and benefits of a full-time employee, plus a signing bonus. This will require you to do some market research on an hourly rate that will help you cover costs an employer would normally cover, plus self-employment tax for working as a sole proprietor.

This approach requires being bold. Fortune favors the bold, in case you hadn’t heard. If your confidence isn’t quite there yet, volunteer your skills to a non-profit and add value until you feel confident moving forward. Again, this is an experiment, so try this with about 5 companies.

3. Take on a leadership role in a professional or community organization

60% of recruiters are specifically looking for this kind of engagement through your social media. It takes a village to run successful events and programs.

There are steps that lead to engaging as a leader in an organization. You don’t just jump right into it.

Step 1 – Observe. Check out several organizations to determine which one has the kind of people, programs, and mission statement that resonate with your career mission.

Step 2 – Join. Attend regular meetings where you will naturally become more acquainted with other members and the breadth of what is offered.

Step 3 – Volunteer. Many organizations crave doing more, but they need the manpower to do it. Look for the board names on the organization’s website. Ask them what initiatives they have tabled because of lack of manpower, or what additional help they could use to make their events and programs even better. If that doesn’t fit what you do, make a referral and keep looking for opportunities. Remember to follow up frequently. Many of these organizations are full of people who have other full-time obligations and won’t easily remember who offered what help.

Step 4 – Lead. Once you get to see events and programs from the inside you’ll better understand the undertaking of running them. It’s a natural progression to lead one event or get involved in the organization’s operations and strategy or do both. It comes with visibility, but is not without its conflicts – even the best organizations. It’s how conflicts are handled that will influence how long you remain involved in the organization, I have found.

4. LinkedIn outreach

Just to be clear, outreach is not the same as clicking on “send invite” for all of the people LinkedIn suggests or who appear in a search. That’s as good as spam; your low success rates will deceive you into thinking that people are not looking to connect on LinkedIn when that is exactly why they are on LinkedIn. People only make progress through REAL connections, not superficial ones. This means having shorter, well-vetted lists and custom invitations. You can increase your chances of having your invitation accepted if 1) the person you’re inviting to connect to is actually active on LinkedIn and 2) you engage with that person’s content.  The first step is to follow this person. This will be an option if they are active. (If they aren’t, see the next item on the list.)

Once you follow someone, you are notified when they engage on other people’s content as well as when they create and share their own. It matters little which you engage with, but if it is other’s people content, respond directly to their comment on it. If it is their original content, share it, tag them, and take care to write something insightful that will inspire others to give their content some love and attention. Then send them a customized invitation to connect, making mention of how much you appreciated their content.

Just like the approach letter, the goal is to take that initial connection to the next step, and connect offline via phone call, video chat, or in-person meeting.  Initially, just ask for 20 minutes. The point is to determine if there is enough synergy to invest more time. Make sure you have 5 good, specific questions based on their background that can help you understand who they are, where they’ve been and how they got “here.” Also, make sure you ask the #1 most important question – what introductions, resources, or support would help move your most important projects forward faster? Don’t just ask generally, “How can I help you?” This is a burdensome question. How could they know what you can do to help? Find out first what they want most, and then tell them how you can help. Also, deliver your call to action, which will help them self-identify that they are someone you are qualified to help.

This works! First, target people in your focus company, but do it also with other professionals in your field, fellow alumni, thought leaders, authors, and influencers.

5. Try a brand new platform

Recruiters are taught to go where the talent is. So, whenever a platform gains popularity, recruiters are tasked to evaluate how it can be leveraged to get in front of talent where other recruiters are not. It might surprise you to know that because of this, 63% of recruiters in tech companies are using Instagram.  That’s just recruiters, though. If they’re looking for talent here, could your future supervisor be also?

Marketers are always looking at ways that they can catch consumers in the flow of their day and interrupt their attention with messages that resonate. Where is your future supervisor hanging out? This may take a bit of research, and the findings may be very different from target to target.

I have had clients say “Twitter is stupid,” but they suspended their skepticism and tried it because a simple search showed that their targets were active with personal and company handles. If you are involved with an organization that uses Slack, try it out. There’s a learning curve to any new platform, but a good three weeks will get you comfortable enough to leverage it. Just like organizations, observe first, then engage. Try a few different things.

Other platforms are meetup.org, Reddit, Quora, Snapchat, Musical.ly, AngelList, f6s, and I’m sure you’ll find some Listservs and Yahoo groups that are still being used. There are abundantly more platforms and there will continue to be more. You don’t have to learn them all, but if you find out that people you know, respect, and would want to work for are on them, get familiar.

Companies have needs well before they have formally posted job openings. This is the “hidden job market” you may have heard about but weren’t sure existed. It exists, and it’s a gold mine of opportunity for those who can unlock it. The best part is that the hidden job market is where you are the driver of opportunity. Once you know how to access it, there’s no unknowing it, but you might fall back into reactive job searching if you don’t make it a habit.

Once you find one or two methods that work for you and your target employer audience, dedicate most of your job search time to it. Abandon what disempowers you and fails to generate opportunity.

Then the challenge shifts to keeping track of all of that momentum. You’ll spend more time in meetings, interviews, and negotiations, and there will be little time for job boards and online applications, anyway.

Because of that, you’ll want to be very selective from that point forward on what companies and leaders you invest time getting to know better.

Most importantly, you’ll be able to spend more time doing the things you love.

The success will be a natural motivator, so you won’t have to push yourself every day to make efforts.

You may even start to enjoy creating career opportunity so much that you form habits that you maintain during your employment and you’ll never have to be out of work ever again.

That’s power!

Snap – I ve Got The power

“The Power” is an electronic pop hit song by the German music group Snap! from their album World Power. It was released in January 1990 and reached number-one in the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, as well as the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play and Hot Rap charts.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Networking 401 for the Network-Disabled: Following Up 

If you have experienced moments as I described in posts from previous weeks (Networking 101, Networking 201, Networking 301), such as fears of being imposing, too aggressive, not interesting enough, etc., then following up will potentially, if not certainly, trigger more thoughts of the same.

Even if you felt as though there was a strong rapport and that the person seemed genuinely interested in connecting again, analysis paralysis can strike and cause procrastination, which may present in full-blown failure to follow up. This stage is where you determine the return on your investment of time, energy, and occasionally money, in your networking endeavors.

I’ve been prone to overthinking when needing to follow up, even though I’m consciously aware that the best practice is to follow up the next day while people’s memories are still fresh. If someone you met was wildly popular, I’d wait a couple of days for the eager beavers to filter through.

If you find yourself unable to follow up promptly, don’t abandon hope that you’ll be able to generate opportunity because you are late. Like being serendipitously late to an event, sometimes delays can benefit you. 

Firstly, if when you first met you mentioned a resource, introduction, or information that you thought would be immediately helpful, deliver it. Then ask the person to schedule a follow-up call or meeting. If you’re not able to deliver, then at least update them. Perhaps a follow-up conversation would help you deliver better.

The objective, once you have met someone digitally or in real life, is to allocate more time to get better acquainted. This can look like a lot of things, some of which you may even enjoy!  We are all time-starved. Rather than resorting to an email, where most people I know are over-flooded with incoming communications, see if there is a medium that is already a part of the person’s daily, weekly, or monthly flow – someplace they’ll already be, but where their attention isn’t diverted to too many other demands. 

WHERE TO FOLLOW UP:

In real life

If you both mentioned a love of hiking or some other activity, tie that into your next plans. Perhaps there is a group hike you can both attend where you can not only get to know each other better, but can also help each other meet other people.  

When one person I was introduced to told me that she couldn’t talk on a Tuesday because she was attending a flower show that I also had considered attending, I suggested we meet there. And we did. And we wound up spending a whole day together appreciating flowers and flower artisans. We were also able to write that flower show off as work expenses, along with the expenses of getting there. 

If this person works or lives somewhere near you or somewhere you want to go, you can double leverage your time and schedule other activities or errands, let them know and offer to go when they have time to meet. 

On social media

Perhaps personal interests didn’t come up. Do a bit of personal research. See what you can discern from social media. If you met someone and only talked business, invite them to connect on LinkedIn, but not Facebook or Instagram (unless their business is on Instagram.) You may not be on Twitter, but I have found that people who tweet regularly tend to divulge personal opinions you may not see them sharing on other social media.  If you think your audience isn’t using Twitter – think again. It takes but a minute to check. If they are on Twitter and tweet daily, this is the best way to catch them in the flow of their day.  

If you send a LinkedIn invitation to someone, you only have 300 characters. Not everyone is active on LinkedIn. If you see that your contact has only a few connections, little content in their profile, and no recent activity, they may not see your invitation for a while, if at all.  If this is the case, use a backup method. 

Phone/Texting

How many times do you answer your phone when you don’t know the number calling? Rarely, I’d bet, unless you are a busy salesperson. The art of calling people has really become the art of leaving a message. The rules are simple: don’t be a telemarketer. 

Often when I leave a message, I let the other person know that they can respond via text to let me know their availability to speak. I may also let them know that I will follow up with an email or LinkedIn message (if I know they use it daily). This gives them options to respond in a way that is most convenient for them. 

Video Conference

Though I don’t prefer it because when I don’t have meetings scheduled I like to save time by staying in leisure clothes (okay, pajamas), I accommodate requests to video chat because there is something deeper about looking at someone when you talk. It can be a bit awkward, however, with delays, cameras that don’t line up with your eyesight (so you look like you’re looking elsewhere), and technical difficulties.  It’s still the next best thing to meeting in person, and you don’t have to take time to travel anywhere (just to get camera-ready.)

All of the above

Ideally, somehow you are tracking all of your networking outreach efforts. (We have a toolkit for that). I suggest trying a variety of social media outlets. You may find success with one method where others have failed.  

HOW TO FOLLOW UP:

KISS

Write or say a sentence that reminds the person how and where you met, and why you decided to follow up, specifically how you think you can help each other. 

The logistics of making time to network are challenging for most people. You can make this easy and minimize the time needed to exchange communications just to schedule by sharing a scheduling link. Calend.ly offers free accounts where you can sync with your other calendars and provide people with a link that lets them book right on your schedule. Networking meetings by phone require 20 minutes. You may upgrade your account to also offer happy hour or coffee/lunch meetings that would be longer. You may also give them a choice between the two, but that’s not quite as simple. 

Yes, everyone has to eat. You can make that point. We all know, however, that eating takes much longer when you combine it with talking, so you turn a 30-minute lunch easily into a 90-minute lunch.

Add value

Send an article, information, event registration link, RFP link, LinkedIn profile link, or something else you suspect will be of value based on your brief meeting. 

HOW OFTEN/LONG TO FOLLOW UP:

12-call rule

I have had sales training that taught me that, statistically, it can take a salesperson 12 calls before securing a sale. Thinking about it, I believe I have worked with vendors who were patiently persistent, special emphasis on the “patiently.” If you have someone who has explicitly expressed an interest in what you offer, give them every chance you can to follow through. 

5-touch rule

Even for general networking, I would say that five attempts to contact someone are sufficient and that often four falls short. As explained by all of the above methods, don’t make touch-base using the same media every time. Maximize your chances of interrupting someone’s attention by using first what you think they use most often, but where you aren’t competing with many others for their attention. At least one of these methods should be a call. 

On the last attempt, just as a courtesy to them and out of consideration of their time, let them know it’s the last attempt. You probably wouldn’t believe how often I have seen this work. In fact, to quote contacts that I have reached out to on the 5th contact, as well as many other clients who I recommended follow through with one last (5th) attempt, the contacts said that they “appreciated the persistence.” Truly – people want to help. Everyone’s time and energy is being pulled by different priorities. Making that 5th attempt is a way to acknowledge that someone genuinely wants to connect/help/be helped, but has other priorities which you can empathize with. 

MISCELLANEOUS TIPS:

Target Company Sponsors and Informants

When one of your contacts has inside knowledge or influence to increase your chances of getting an interview (based on need, not necessarily a formal job posting,) do your homework before you take their time. Come up with five to seven questions, each of which your contact can answer in a minute or less. I suggest comparing what you learn about a company, opportunity, and boss with a set list of 25-50 criterions, including some must-haves and some ideal (jackpot) criteria.  Whatever you can’t determine through online research is potentially something you can learn from your contact. 

Someone willing to help you by giving you insight may or may not be willing to help you by getting your résumé to the hiring manager. Be direct in your request – “Would you be willing to make an introduction to the Director of Technology?” OR “I’ve tried applying already. Would you be willing to send my résumé directly to the hiring manager?” OR “Do you know who the hiring manager is on this?” I recommend you also ask if their company has a referral bonus program and if you can use their name as the person who referred you. 

Some may say “no” based their perceived influence, or lack thereof, their lack of relationship, or lack of access to the hiring manager. Some companies have policies that prevent this. It’s not always about their willingness to help. Again, be empathetic here. If they can’t help you by sponsoring you (being the source of your referral into the company or introducing you to the hiring manager), ask them how most of the people who are hired make their way in, NOT the best way to apply. Applying always implies a website these days; that’s the answer you’ll get. 

Respect people’s time/schedule

If you say you are only asking for XX minutes, make sure that you only take XX minutes. Keep your eye on the time and let them know when you only have a couple of minutes left. If by the end of that time you feel that you have only scratched the surface, suggest that you pick a new time right then and there to continue the conversation, and suggest that you allocate more time next time, and perhaps combine it with a meal or activity. 

Tickler

The same way I hope you are tracking your outreach activities and contacts, I hope that you have a way to remind yourself to follow up with people every so often. Within the month of your follow up meeting, then every three months is a good best practice, but not always possible. Some people you may not follow up with for another 6 months. Make a note of when their busy season is and try to avoid following up then.  

This is the last article in the Networking for the Networking-Disabled series. If you have not read those, click on the following links: Networking 101, Networking 201, Networking 301.

I hope that you are inspired and feel better prepared to start expanding your sphere of influence and fulfillment.  It does get more comfortable the more you do it, and you’ll definitely feel more motivated once you have some great outcomes resulting from your efforts. Imagine those outcomes now. What kind of magic do you want networking to make possible in your life?

Blondie – Call Me (Official Video)

Official video of Blondie performing Call Me from the soundtrack of the movie American Gigolo. #Blondie #CallMe #Vevo

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Networking 201 for the Network-Challenged

Last week we talked about how to find great events to begin and expand your comfort zone with networking. 

This week let’s explore what you can do prior to an event that will help you make the most of it.

Let’s assume you were able to identify 5 or 6 great events in the next two weeks that you can attend, and 3 or 4 of them feasibly work with your schedule. 

You have a decision to make right now for some of them with limited attendance and registration cut-off dates.

If they require tickets and you cannot afford to go, as advised last week, contact the organizer(s) to see if they could use an extra volunteer. Once you commit to being a volunteer, show up 15 minutes earlier than you committed to. Follow through, but remember that emergencies happen. Take care of an emergency, but if you say you’ll volunteer and don’t show up, you’ll be lumped into a category of past volunteers who flaked.  In essence, you’re flaky. That’s the opposite impression you want to make.

Not all events require you to commit to going, and I wouldn’t always advise you to be early. Sometimes, it’s best to talk to people when they’re fresh, and sometimes you’ll find that people need some time to warm up and get in the groove. I’ve even showed up to networking events late, which is better than never, and found that the exact person who I wanted to meet was still there and heading to grab a bite to eat, so we did together and accomplished so much.  If you’re just a guest, know that it may not be of consequence to anyone else when you show up. When you show up can be based on what you hope to achieve.

Set your intention. What is the best thing that could happen from you attending this event? Take a moment to visualize it – statistically, this leads to increased chances of synchronicity, or luck.

Check the attendee, speaker, and sponsor lists ahead of time.  If there is someone you want to meet, don’t wait until you’re at the event to approach him or her. You’ll risk competing with many people. Touch base ahead of time via LinkedIn, e-mail, or twitter.  A sample message would be:

“Hi, Rachel.  I’m looking forward to the XGAMA Conference coming up.  I see you’re speaking and wondered if you could meet up for coffee beforehand so that I can help you get what you hope to out of the event. Please let me know if you can show up 20 minutes early.”

You could also invite them to call ahead, but be sure to make it a point to introduce yourself at the event. By then you probably will have established rapport and deepened it by associating your face with your name. 

With whatever they share with you about what they hope to get out of networking, be proactive in delivering it. If you get motivated my missions or games, make it one.  For example, give yourself 5 points for every lead you send another person’s way. Set a goal of 30 points. If you reach 30 points, treat yourself to a milkshake. 

 Do some homework on people. It can help to give you an idea of something you have in common and can use to build rapport. However, even though some of us keep our profile’s mostly public, there is such a thing as knowing too much. What’s fair game? Not kids! Nothing sets alerts off like people who know too much about my kids. Not neighborhoods, either, which is a bit too specific. Avoid scandals, as well. Politics and religion are usually considered taboo, but there is a context for them.

Big trips, public company initiatives, non-profit activities, industry trends, local developments, hobbies, and pop culture are usually safe enough to generate a good conversation that leads to deepening your understanding of another.  

Let’s remember that that is what this is about. You don’t have to mingle with everyone or hobnob with people you have nothing in common with, especially values. On the contrary, you’re there to find the few people who will become strategic partners with you in creating a better future. You’re looking for resonance. Much like a funnel, you might need to meet with 20 people to find 10 who are willing to talk further and then 4 or 5 with whom you will develop deep rapport and synergy. If you’re lucky, at least one of those will become a lifelong friend. 

Generate some questions and practice them.

Develop a powerful call to action. A 2016 blog shared a great formula and example for this. Since then I have enhanced it and created a builder for my clients and students. The enhanced formula is below:

I  am looking for introductions to [who],  who are experiencing [pain/challenge/initiative 1] and [pain/challenge/initiative 2]  so that I can  [solution/skill #1], [solution/skill #2], and [solution/skill #3] so that they can be/do/have [ultimate business outcome #1], [ultimate client/customer outcome #2], and [ultimate emotional outcome #3].

It’s ideal if instead of memorizing, you can hone one statement and become comfortable delivering it naturally. Then as you get comfortable, expand your database for each component for a different audience or to promote a different skill or outcome. It’s like doing Madlibs on the fly. The key to inspiring people to help you are the associated outcomes. The thing that makes your mission and value crystal clear and memorable is the emotional outcome. As logical as we think we are, most of our decisions are driven by emotions. Also, when someone confides in another about their work pain, the tendency is to share the emotional context of a story. This is what clicks for people the most, leading to a moment where you can say, “I know someone who complains about technology breaking” or “I know someone who would love to triumph in their finances!”  This is where the magic happens. 

Before you walk into an event, take a moment to ground and calm yourself. There is a meditation I teach my students and clients that enables you to slow your heart rate and embody your highest self, which makes you more confident and magnetic. There are a lot of meditations out there, any number of which will be beneficial. It matters less with what kind of meditation you do and matters more that you do it. Take some deep breaths. Remind yourself that no matter what, you are loved and whole. You are deserving of your ideal outcome. Then visualize what you intended yet again. 

In the next couple of weeks, we’ll cover more about how to ace networking in the moment, and how to carry the energy forward to make magic happen. 

Please share with us your stories of applying these tips.

 

Bruce Springsteen – I’m Ready (1974-06-03)

Uploaded by Johnny OnTheTop on 2014-06-01.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

 

Why Using a Flip Phone Could Be Bad For Your Career

Last week we talked about a few of the top soft skills in demand by employers, a few them related to being able to succeed and thrive in spite of conditions like constant change.

Looking ahead, all companies have to prepare and plan for a future where workforces and cultures are built to be agile, but where does this leave the workforce demographics that find change hard?

Before I go further, are you attributing this quality to a particular demographic – one based on socio-economic status, race, gender or age?

That’s a bias, and one that should be easily refutable. Millennials and Gen Zers are thought to be more technically savvy and adaptable, however, it’s hard to go a week in my world without someone complaining about them, who by the way are NOT entry level anymore; many are already managers themselves. The complaints essentially have to do with their inability to be open to criticism, coaching, and wisdom, which are all reflections of resistance to change. Other complaints have to do with a lack of accountability and self-management, attributed to a “participation trophy” upbringing. This, too, is still a reflection of resistance to change.

Bias is the reason for this article. Humans do it. Companies do it. I’m not saying it’s right, but it is natural.

The truth is that all human beings are hard-wired to find change hard; it’s a defense mechanism built into our primitive brain to help us be wary and hyper-alert to potential danger in new situations. We also have more evolved parts of our brains that help us adapt and assimilate to new environments, but not without being uncomfortable, or even downright stressed.

Not all stress is bad, but our culture and media isn’t reinforcing this, and certainly human beings are not built to stay in stress response for sustained and chronic periods of time. People aren’t dying of old age; they’re dying from disease, many of which are traced back to stress.  This can impact any age, race, creed, etc. However it’s the aged population who are the most at risk for serious health impacts; they’ve been responding to stress for more years, and not all are getting better at managing it. In fact, the pace of change, especially in the workplace, can be understandably overwhelming.

The recruiter’s objective in simple terms is to identify value and assess risks of qualified candidates. This is, by law, NOT supposed to take into consideration health, age, race, or creed. However, they can and need to be able to assess how well an employee will perform, collaborate, and develop in accordance with the company’s business operations and plans. Adaptability, as reported in last week’s blog, is fast becoming one of the top soft qualities in-demand.

The challenge is, as with any soft quality, it’s nearly impossible to narrow down a candidate pool based on soft qualities, and unless the candidate has effectively branded themselves as adaptable and provided hard evidence, a résumé and LinkedIn profile will not make adaptability obvious. Recruiters have to look for “signs” of adaptability. This could look like working in diverse technology environments, getting promoted at a rapid pace, evolving with a fast-growing company, working for companies known for being on the bleeding edge, or assimilating to different cultures.

On the other hand, recruiters in their attempt to assess risk may perceive certain things as signs of a lack of adaptability, which may or may not be an accurate way of assessing adaptability and future-readiness, but it’s just another thing that makes hiring and recruiting ripe for disruption.

I remember hearing last decade that “anyone wearing a watch was definitely 40+.” At the time I wanted to be perceived as more mature, so I bought and started wearing a watch. It seems superficial and trivial to me now, and an even more dangerous indication of harmful bias that leaves room for discrimination.  Now I’m hearing, “If someone still has a flip phone they are stuck in the past.” This is also a sign of bias. Someone might use a flip phone because they won’t be distracted by it, and have other means, like a tablet or iPad, of getting other things done.

Back then I would have given candidates concerned about age discrimination to make themselves appear more youthful by accommodating such statements.  Now, with 13 years of success with my clients and unflappable confidence that you can put yourself in a position where YOU have the power of choice over where you land, my advice is to demonstrate adaptability using authentic means. Don’t buy into the bias. You’ll just end up fighting it regularly on the job, and that will diminish your job and perhaps your effectiveness.

Show off the diversity of technologies you have learned and applied

  • Work in internationally immersive experiences to your branded content
  • Tell stories about changes you have championed (mention the business cases and results)
  • Comment on or write articles or LinkedIn posts about emerging trends and technologies
  • Attend conferences and interface with people on the front end of industry disruption
  • Adopt new habits and learn a new skill; it doesn’t even have to be work-related, but will demonstrate your hunger for growth
  • Get out of your comfort zone at least once a week; you may fail at something new, but you’ll have new stories to tell and insights to share

So, using a flip phone can be detrimental in that you may not be considered by a company who perceives it as a sign of resistance to change and progress. However, that company has some progress to make of their own raising awareness about biases, and that’s not your burden to bear.

Aimee Mann – Stuck In The Past (Live on KEXP)

http://KEXP.ORG presents Aimee Mann performing “Stuck In The Past” live in the KEXP studio. Recorded July 17, 2017. Host: Stevie Zoom Audio Engineer: Chris Bailey & Kevin Suggs Cameras: Scott Holpainen, Jeff Wenzel & Justin Wilmore Editor: Justin Wilmore http://kexp.org http://aimeemann.com

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Why Recruiters Ask You Questions That Your Résumé Clearly Answers Already

 

Have you, like many other job seekers, noticed that it seems sometimes like recruiters, maybe even hiring managers, ask you questions that have clearly been answered already in your résumé?

Like, “Do you have experience with business intelligence tools?” while your last position was “Business Intelligence Analyst.”

You’re getting all kinds of advice from career coaches like me to do your research and come to interviews prepared to intelligently talk about the company’s specific goals or challenges, but you get to the interview and it feels like you’re just interview number 9 today, not their potential next highly valued employee.

Experiences like this are just one of the hundreds of gripes that I see job seekers making online, and I have been collecting them for over a year now. (I also procure gripes from recruiters about job seekers, recruiters about HR, recruiters about hiring managers, HR about recruiters, HR about hiring managers, and hiring managers about HR – what a mess!)

I have to admit that as a recruiter, I have been guilty of this. Here’s what happened:

  • I had a third party recruiting firm play bate and switch with me, sending candidates to interviews who didn’t match the résumés they presented. As a result, I made a bad hire that I had to replace for the client. From that point on, I always asked clients to validate what was on their résumé. Once you uncover deception, you become skeptical. Once you get burned, you become cynical. I’d rather have a candidate insulted that I was asking them questions that I should have already known from their résumé than hire someone who was misrepresenting their skills and qualifications.
  • Coincidentally, I had some very indignant candidates who were quite put off that I would ask them such questions. The worse they took this experience, the more I worried about their temperament. I had candidates who seemed completely professional in their interviews get to the client, have a bad experience, and completely lose their cool, as well as their chances with that client and me. I also had a candidate I referred to another firm get escorted out by security for becoming threatening. In this day and age of employee sabotage and mass shootings, a person’s temperament is always being evaluated.
  • From time to time as a recruiter on top of still needing to fill hot job requirements, you have to put fires out, such as when my candidate was fired and needed to be replaced. Sometimes I was not as prepared for a candidate interview as I liked to be. I would normally just be upfront about this and apologize. Under stress, however, I might not have been as empathetic. I had some bad days as a recruiter, and I may have come off as aloof, scattered, or insensitive.  I wasn’t my best self, and all I can do is aim to be better. I’m a decade (plus) older and much more emotionally intelligent than I was then. Not all recruiters get how their candidates’ experience affects their long-term success, and even if they do, they can’t always buck the broken system and fix their candidate experience. I’d like to think that eventually, especially if the candidates’ job market continues, more recruiters will have to evaluate and improve how they treat candidates, acknowledging them as people, not commodities.
  • Résumés are rarely written to include “behind the scenes” details that demonstrate and prove a candidate’s qualifications. Often it’s a list of what a candidate was supposed to do, not what they did or how well they did it. So, a phone screen or interview was your opportunity to tell a compelling story that demonstrated your value. The résumé was just a tool to get me to invite you to an interview. If you have qualities and skills I felt would impress the client, the résumé also had to inspire the client to interview you, but I need to take it up a level. You may have stated that you did something on your résumé, but I need to know more to enhance the résumé. AND, I need you to be able to articulate your experience to the hiring manager and other stakeholders. I’m not just making sure you have the experience required; I’m making sure you can effectively communicate this to me, and therefore others.

I’m definitely not condoning recruiters’ negligence to understand a candidate’s experience prior to an interview; it goes against common sense best practices. However, I find the volume and extremity of the gripes I have been procuring online for over a year now to be disturbing and discouraging.  Solutions that truly disrupt and overturn the broken system cannot be devised until all parties involved in hiring and careering can understand the other parties’ perspectives. I don’t want to take sides; I want to bring the sides together.

This may or may not ease your frustration with the recruiter experience, but ultimately you are absolutely capable of landing your next job without them, and you will probably find those activities much more enjoyable. Eliminate or manage as many stressors as possible so that YOU can be your best self more of the time. If you want to know how to execute a career campaign without recruiters, schedule a free consultation.

If you want to learn how to get recruiters to call you back MORE often, download my free report.

 

This World Fair “Don’t Make Me Wait” from Disturbia

Get it at iTunes: http://bit.ly/DisturbiaMusic CD: http://bit.ly/DistCD SUBSCRIBE: http://www.youtube.com/LakeshoreRecords This World Fair “Don’t Make Me Wait” music video. From the movie and Soundtrack to DISTURBIA. www.LAKESHORE-RECORDS.com

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Believe It or Not, This Cover Letter Got Me an Interview

 

I have been a student and a teacher of making compelling, persuasive pitches. Nothing big is a solo job. Whether you have to convince someone to take a job, give you a job, offer or invest their hard-earned money, approve of plans, or adopt big change, you ultimately have to make a pitch.

At some point during my second startup journey when I was deep into learning about angel investors and venture capitalists, I heard a story about an unlikely recipient of huge Series A funding. It was unlikely because of the unconventional way the founder convinced investors to fund his idea. I wish I could remember the founder’s name and company. (If you know it, or a story like it, feel free to share!)

It’s popular advice to think of why an investor would not want to invest and nullify those points, but it’s quite another thing to start a pitch with “Why not to invest in me.”  That’s what the hero of the story above did, and what I finally tried and found, too, that it worked!

A word of warning: This won’t work with all audiences. It most likely works best with progressive rebels, disruptors, and other unconventionals/non-traditionals. AND: The reasons to [fill in the blank] have to outweigh the reasons not to.

Some background:

Some of you know from this blog series that I had a rough spring healthwise, and a scary spring and summer financially as a result of not being able to work for 2 months. It took me a while to get back up to full-steam with my energy and my business. It was an awakening and I realized that I ought to look into various other streams of income to avoid being made or broken by an ill-timed illness.

At the same time, a brewery was opening down the street from me – walking distance. I met the owner at a local breakfast event. He was quite busy with the opening, but I kept in touch, and of course, visited multiple times. On opening night I offered to organize an event for a group of fellow beer lovers who were quite attached to a local brewery that closed down (and each other.) I learned by speaking with him that they were hiring a part-time events manager. I let him know that I wanted to apply and he introduced me to his COO who was handling all hiring.

Though there were a lot of things to consider about accepting a role where I would be busy weeknights and weekends, I was very enthusiastic about the company, the owner, future plans, the proximity to my house, and the buzz in the community. I was already organizing an event for them – 2 in fact. I found myself visualizing all of the fun things I would want to make happen and all the people I could bring together. I thought it would be a lot of fun, but it would take something to make it work. I had wanted to see if the “reverse sell” approach that worked for the founder would work in a cover letter, but I wouldn’t dare use my clients as a guinea pig for this experiment. Plus, I have a résumé (if you can imagine) but it’s much more geared toward people and leadership than events. This was a great opportunity to see if a reverse sell cover letter would work, and it served as a way to include a plethora of relevant experience missing from my résumé.

Though I pegged the owner and COO as relatively conservative, I also saw them as trailblazers and risk takers. I was a LOT edgier than I would normally be; I even cursed, which I would not advise!

To my pleasant surprise, I was invited to do a phone interview, which happened just before the events I organized.

Below is the cover letter with recipient information changed.

Ultimately, the job went to someone else. The cover letter didn’t get me the job, but it did get an interview, which is its job. The experiment was successful.

Please use good judgment if you decide to try your own experiment. It’s successful experiments like this that challenge the “always” and “never” advice that is dangerously rampant. If you’re ALWAYS doing what everyone else does, you’ll NEVER stand out. Part of being a leader is knowing when to deviate from the norm and trust your instincts.

“Fortune favors the bold.”

The Fugees – Ready or Not

The Fugees’ official music video for ‘Ready Or Not’. Click to listen to The Fugees on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/TFSpot?IQid=FRON As featured on Fugees: Greatest Hits.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Anyone Want to Work for the Government? How the Government Shutdown Will Impact the US Employment Brand

 

Some people pick their trade or career based on what they like doing, can easily be trained to do, and that will pay them well. And some people take the safest route, the one they think will likely lead to job security. This leaves them vulnerable to being the victim of external job conditions they can’t control.

Sometimes, governments shut down. Sometimes unions strike. Sometimes companies decide to sell and/or reorganize and reduce their workforce.

Anyone who once thought of pursuing a job with the US government for job security is thinking again right now.

The people I have known who wanted to pursue employment with the US government had one, a combination or all of the following motivations: Steady employment, early retirement, and/or patriotic duty.

A comment I read accused people of sensationalizing the personal financial crisis of government workers during the shutdown. “Come on. It’s just one paycheck. Don’t make it sound like people are starving.” Except, a resolution doesn’t appear to be close and this individual must not be one of the many Americans living paycheck to paycheck. Good for him, but he can’t empathize.

40% of Americans have less than $400 in their savings, and 67% have less than $1000. One missed paycheck means some people have to choose between eating and paying utilities. God forbid they need medical attention and have to cover a copay or deductible or have their water heater break down, or need a car repaired.

Are federal employees in the same boat as these Americans? Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz believes that the percentage of government workers living paycheck to paycheck may be smaller, but there are still a large number of government jobs that don’t pay a living wage, according to the reality of living wages today.

Where I live, living expenses are supposedly $68K per year for a family my size (2 adults, 2 children.) This is based on an estimated $6,271 for medical expenses. How many people do you know that pay that little for a family insurance plan plus copays and deductibles annually? Have kids that play sports? I know parents who claim to visit an emergency room or urgent care center monthly.

I also know many families with 2 small kids who pay a lot more than $1,096.25 monthly for childcare. So, even this calculation seems to not cover actual living expenses.

Guess what’s not considered a necessary living expense: cell phones and internet access. Yet how many people would be disadvantaged in pursuing steady employment or better employment without that? Sure, there are ways, but the disadvantages are still there.

Think vacations are important? I do! Actually, if families can’t afford to travel or pay for entertainment, there are many detrimental economic impacts. In fact, it would spur a recession, if not a depression.

How patriotic can you remain if you work for a government who doesn’t pay you a REAL living wage?

So, they may be able to recruit based on patriotic inclinations, but we’re already seeing reports of government employees quitting in record numbers as a result of this shutdown.

Even before the government shut down 64% of government leaders reported difficulties attracting and retaining talent.

And how about disengagement? Even if they can attract bodies to fill the vacancies based on patriotism and retirement benefits, how can they keep their workforce engaged and productive? Right now disengagement in federal jobs mimics disengagement for private sector jobs at 66%. Globally, companies lose $700T per year on disengagement and its resulting productivity drag. While in the US, Gallup estimates the losses are somewhere in the $350B – $550B range.

So, employers lose 34% of each disengaged employee’s salary. Out of 9.1M government employees, 6M or so are disengaged. At an average $51,340 per year, the US government is right now losing $105 TRILLION on disengagement annually.

So, just to break down the math, based on the data, each disengaged worker (6M) is costing $17,455.60 each.

Is your jaw on the floor?

Considering what could be done for the American people with that money, this is a problem that impacts and deserves that attention of ALL Americans!

That is based on 2018/2019 current data! What happens when these numbers skew? What happens when the government finds it harder to recruit and engage talent after this shutdown? What happens when they aren’t able to sell job stability to millennials and Gen Z? Gen Z, by the way, is the generation that witnessed their parents, who worked hard and did everything they were supposed to do, still face financial ruin by the 2008 economic crash. They crave security. Now they are looking at job prospects. Is the government even going to cross their minds as a possible career path? Doubtful!

Let’s do more than just hope that this shutdown ends soon.

So what can we do? Use our voice! Use the communication channels that exist (the media, calling your Congressman/Congresswoman, social media) to raise awareness of the full breadth of detrimental impacts of this shutdown!  Don’t let anyone minimize the problem! For too many, it’s very real and happening now.  SHARE THIS ARTICLE!

We can also champion our federal workers, the majority of whom felt that getting a steady paycheck was more important than serving the public, and engage them from the outside by showing them that they are appreciated by the public they serve, that we know that they are critical to running our country, no matter what role they have. Thank a federal employee today!

 

Europe-Mr. Government Man

No Description

 

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Will HR AI Help or Hurt Your Career?

Considering that I have no time machine, time travel abilities or accurate predictive talents, I can’t be sure what future tech will offer hiring and careering. I am discouraged by the solutions being funded, sold, and used at the present moment.

Like, how are job boards still thriving in terms of revenue when most job seekers and recruiters admit not having great results with them? Well, some of them have reinvented themselves as multi-resource sites that offer valuable data. As the data increases, supposedly everyone can make more educated decisions.

Many technologies are now focused on scouring the web for passive talent with non-traditional professional footprints rather than producing better searches in databases full of applicants. Other recognize that you don’t fill jobs by recruiting people who don’t want to leave, and you don’t keep positions filled by recruiting job hoppers, so they score a candidate’s likelihood of entertaining a new opportunity. Some are becoming better at recognizing alternative skills, titles, qualities, and backgrounds.

There is still a large gap, however, that proliferates the challenges of employers to find, attract, recruit and retain not only good candidates, but good hires, which, according to Lou Adler, are distinct.

Credit: Lou Adler from LinkedIn post 11.26.18

Adler’s article points out a painfully obvious break in the system that has yet to be addressed by technology because it is a people problem, so far. The great hires don’t always make themselves obvious to unknown employers.

Enter Epic Careering… and other branding services.

We are the bridge between great talent and the companies that need them and vice versa.

In an ideal future, we will all adopt a common professional language and keyword dictionary so that technology will easily identify matches between employers and employees. Ideally, these technologies will also better understand human nature and human performance optimization. Until then, so much is left unarticulated, unpromoted, and unidentified. Great opportunities go undiscovered by talent while the talent that could fast-forward a company’s vision and mission drift toward lower hanging fruit, which may or may not be ripe, or even good.

AI is not solving this problem so far.

It falls on you.

If you are talent:

At a minimum, certainly, populate your skills list. You can add up to 50. Put them in order of our strengths and for what you’d like to be endorsed most. This will increase the chances that you will be found in a search and sent a cold invitation to connect by a recruiter.

At best, tell stories that demonstrate your unique value, which could be tied to an unconventional background, a worldly upbringing (or an underprivileged one), a different perspective, an innate talent, or a way with people. Give people content that not only qualifies you, but starts to garner a connection that transcends job descriptions/requirements. Position yourself as a candidate of choice. Be forthright about the culture and conditions under which you thrive, and then tell people what transpired because you were able to perform at your best.

Include your awards, even if they seemed shallow or token. Don’t hide your promotions by only listing your most recent title. Take credit for facilitating the accomplishments of those you managed, mentored, and supported.

Acquire skills in tasteful, professional self-promotion and stretch yourself to gain comfort with them. The best person for the job doesn’t always get the job. That’s a shame, but one you can prevent by doing this.

If you are an employer:

At a minimum, go beyond the checkboxes. Abandon acronyms in favor of the real success-determining factors. Ask yourself if your requirements are really just a way to whittle down a large list of candidates or if they really will determine someone’s chances at being successful. Warning: This will require thought – deep thought. I know you think you don’t have time for that. But if candidates who make great hires aren’t wearing an obvious label, you will have to consider if the labels you can see are showing you what’s really inside – what people are really made of.

Be honest about having biases. You can’t refute them if you don’t acknowledge them and if you don’t refute them you can’t stop them from influencing hiring decisions.

At best, nurture leadership that is not only ethical but conscious of the impact of their decisions on people and planet and how that will trickle down and circle back. As you implement technology and streamline operations, don’t lose the human touch. Make sure your leaders are accessible and emotionally intelligent. Give people transparency and trust. Relationships will always trump technology at connecting your company with talent in a meaningful way, aka engagement.

Daft Punk – Computerized Ft Jay Z

Leaked Daft Punk track with Jay-z.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, will be an Associate Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department in 2019,  and is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

What Is Experiential Recruiting and Why Are We Not Seeing More of It?

 

Trust Fall

Trust Fall

Believe it or not, experiential recruiting isn’t new; it’s just a term that hasn’t caught on…yet.

Experiential recruiting refers to interactions between recruiters and/or hiring managers and candidates in which there is an element of performance, either professional or social. Some may say it’s just about storytelling and video, but that is one-sided. You may have heard the term “working interview,” but experiential recruiting can go far beyond a working interview (which, by law, do pay.) Hackathons are experiential recruiting. Any event a company has to which candidates would be invited can be considered experiential recruiting.

I held experiential events in 2008-2009. They were called Helping Hands Job Fairs. I paired recruiters up with candidates to do a half-day of community service and then break bread together. At one event, attendees sorted donations at a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store on a Saturday. At another, we had two teams winterizing homes in the community. At yet another, we had a few teams assigned to various projects through United Way’s Day of Caring, including mucking horse stalls, planting flowers, weeding, painting, etc.

For whatever reason, it was challenging at the time getting the employers committed, even though I was offering to recruit, identify, and pre-qualify the candidates. I stopped because I was pregnant; I had one baby, and then another. Organizing events is time-consuming and complex.

And here I am now with two kids in school all day. I’m ready to advise, strategize, plan and organize more events like this, as well as events that are less service-oriented and even more about fun, culture, and adventure – all depending on what you want your company to be to your current and future employees.

There’s a key to success – the events have to attract the talent with the hard skills, soft skills, and values that you want. The great thing about them is that, while events like hackathons can help you determine technical skills, these events help companies better assess someone’s soft skills and values. Also, hackathons sometimes attract top talent, but that talent doesn’t necessarily want to be employed by you or at all.

At the HireOne Task Force meeting I attended last month, the employers in the room all echoed the same complaint – not enough of the candidates with the hard skills they need have the soft skills that they want. So, they have to narrow their pool down in a pool that for some skills is already too small.

Part of the problem is that not everyone can put their best foot forward out of the gate; some people, like many introverts, need time to warm up. An interview, which can seem like a barrage of questions, doesn’t allow these people the time they need to let their true personalities show. They may come off as competent, but not likeable.

Another problem is that soft skills development isn’t taught in school (few do – it was something I taught as part of the Career Management and Professional Development course I taught at Drexel University to business students.) The county that sponsors HireOne offered an 8-week course for struggling job seekers that did also teach people how to shake hands, make eye contact, be courteous, follow etiquette, etc. They reported that still some participants could not put what they learned into practice

Remember when you learned how to drive, though? How much there was to pay attention to – the mirrors, the signals, pedestrians, pedals, steering, etc. It took time for those skills to become automatic, especially when you’re nervous.

Experiential recruiting events offers candidates who have the potential to become strong team members the opportunity to spend a little more quality time with recruiters and more time to come out of their shells and show who they really are.

Soft skills, which at their best can be considered high emotional intelligence, ARE teachable, and I have tricks to accelerate the application and adoption (mindfulness training and hypnosis.) Otherwise, people just need a lot more time and practice.

Time – ah. We have hit upon the major objection of doing these events.

If you have them during work hours, you are excluding those candidates who are working and find it challenging already to sneak away for an hour-long face-to-face interview. Some companies, like Vanguard, are combining community service initiatives with graduate recruitment, which eliminates the problem of time of day. While attracting and recruiting the best new graduates for your company can definitely be aided by events like this, many more companies are in need of better methods of attracting experienced talent. This is where most of a company’s ROI on talent gets generated.

If you have them at night, you are asking your staff to sacrifice their personal time.

This is all the more reason why these events really need to be designed to be time well spent – something you, your staff, and your candidates would want to do anyway.

Back in 2012 when I last spoke at the Greater Valley Forge Human Resources Association HR Summit (I speak there again next month on executive branding), I deconstructed why talent communities haven’t effectively helped companies build talent pipelines. Talent communities were a trend back then proposed as a way for companies to line up people with skill sets that they’ll need on a recurring basis or in the future. Some job boards were trying to transform themselves and take advantage of this. They never took off because job seekers don’t want to be in a community of competitors for jobs they want.

Companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, etc. build talent communities simply because they are who they are. Everyone else would like to think that they’re employment brand game is so strong, but let’s be clear what candidates really want – a fair shot, quality time, and to be recognized as special. They don’t want to wait in line or mingle with people who might get the job over them – that’s like The Bachelor/Bachelorette of recruiting, without the mansion, cocktails, and breathtakingly romantic trips.

Another time constraint is built into recruiting models that don’t allow for recruiters to even have that extra time. When my firm experimented with different reporting models and metrics, we had a certain number of calls and in-person interview we needed to complete each week. This meant the work-hard/play-hard culture I loved became a work-hard/work-long environment. I became disengaged pretty quickly. My wedding was a great distraction. The last thing I wanted to do was spend MORE time at work. In fact, I needed a long break; thank goodness for my honeymoon.

Job fairs do not count as experiential, even though they are face-to-face, and for the reasons stated above about the limited time and nature of an interview. Job fairs barely allow someone to get an impression past the initial first impression, which are NOT always accurate. In fact, recruiters have been evolving in their awareness of biases and ability to dismiss them. They occur automatically – it’s how our brain works. Our conscious mind matches experiences with experiences from the past. So we don’t expect that people can rid themselves of biases, just become more adept at recognizing and dismissing them. However, at a job fair, there is very little time to do this before the next person steps up. Again, like driving a car, you can become faster at this until it becomes more automatic. In the meantime, job fairs offer only a few stand out candidates with charisma to make a lasting impression.

A couple of things along my professional path inspired my interest in these events.

My former boss invited the team to spend a day at his Jersey shore house where he fed us and took us to the beach to play games. We knew he was a 3x Ironman and that he worked out. We could see how the other runner in the office gained his favor. I didn’t realize that beating him at horseshoes would impress him, but it did. He shared that with me. (I’m glad I didn’t know that beforehand or I might have choked.) He appreciated competitiveness as a quality. Then I remembered how me playing on a softball team was one of the things the company shared about me when I was hired. Apparently, that meant that I fit the culture.

However, so many times these things don’t come up in the interview process. They did a good job of uncovering that. Then I thought, what can companies do to identify these types of cultural qualities better? How about a game night?

When my youngest child finally started pre-school and I had mornings all to myself, I started Job Seeker Hikes. I invited job seekers to hike a moderately challenging trail with me while I asked them questions and gave them advice, not dissimilar to my free consultations, only I got to hike, one my favorite things in the world to do. I could coach multiple job seekers simultaneously, allowing them to learn from each other, build trust and rapport, and increase my chances of converting one of those job seekers into a paying client.

I called this experiential business development. And I loved it, and I’ll probably do it again now that both of my kids are in school, pending I can see that fitting into everything else I am excited to do with a full workday.

As I pondered my clients’ and contacts’ recruiting and hiring pains, I often came back to this model as a great replacement for job fairs, which, by everyone’s account, suck. I thought I coined the term “experiential recruiting,” but I looked it up and it was a thing already.

In fact, I identified a company in Milwaukee that was using events like this not only to help employers brand themselves and better assess the soft skills and values of their candidates, but they were also using the events to promote the cultural richness that the city has to offer. It’s called Newaukee. Why isn’t this in every city??? Talk about triple bottom line!

Another potential objection is cost, but the truth is, depending on what you do it may not cost you much more than a job fair. However, you can get more in-depth with a smaller, more targeted candidate pool.

To get ROI you first want to make sure you understand the kinds of candidates that YOU want who ALSO want to work for you. You (or we) build a candidate profile, much like a buyer profile. Find out what segments exist and what they like to do.

You might need two or three different kinds of events. For instance, you might want to have a game night or block party, a community service event, and an art gallery trip.

Need people who can be creative problem solvers? How about an escape room?

What do you think about having family-friendly recruiting events? Does that blow your mind?

Then you also need to get those people there AND use the events to tell a compelling story about your company and its people straight from its people, which may take a bit of training. The other key is LISTENING. Use the events to learn about your prospective candidates, improve candidate experience,  and create even better events.

Word of mouth spreads fast about these events. People will get very interested in attending, even if they aren’t very interested in working for you, so you (or we) have to vet them. However, even candidates who may not have thought they wanted a change may find themselves swayed and a bit more invested and enthusiastic about a company after a great event. If they really aren’t going to budge now, they may some day, and they can refer some talent in the meantime. So, the vetting is more about skills, value, and culture fit. A lot of the times the nature of the event and who is interested in it helps assess value and culture right off the bat.

So, in my Epic Careering version of these events we combine employer branding, target candidate identification and buzz-worthy experiences to keep a pipeline of high-quality potential hires pumping in, while the recruiting teams and hiring managers also have worthwhile experiences. I am all about productive play!

Contact me today to learn how your recruitment teams can use events like these to better compete for top talent.

Phish- Waste

great version great song

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Consultant and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business and recently instructed for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at Cabrini College, where her students won the national competition and were named America’s Top Young Entrepreneurs.

 

Facing Age Discrimination? You Might Not Like This Advice

Old-0141 by Ronny Olsson on Flickr

If you’re finding it harder to land a job as you age, you may be wondering if age discrimination is rampant. You may worry about how are you ever going to compete with younger professionals.

The usual advice is to try to disguise your age by cutting off previous experience past X years and omitting graduation dates.

I disagree.

I personally think it’s a futile effort and one that won’t get you much further than you are.

I may advise you to cut off experience past X years for other reasons, like irrelevance or space considerations, but not out of fear your age will be discovered.

Here’s why –

#1 – Hiding your age actually draws attention to your age. With LinkedIn now being a primary platform for recruiting and job searching, it becomes harder to disguise your age. When a graduation date is missing or your summary touts 20+ years of experience that’s not on the résumé, that’s the moment I start wondering. But I’m not wondering if you’re old – I’m assuming you are. I’m wondering how sensitive YOU are about your age. What if you’re not the right fit? Will you think I’m discriminating against you? Sounds like a hassle. NEXT!

#2 – Let’s say hiring manager Jane (don’t blame the recruiters – they deliver what the hiring manager asks for) is convinced that age will become a performance issue and she’d rather not interview experienced candidates. This is why in the job description she asked for 8 years of experience vs. 15. Let’s say also she didn’t get a clue of your age from your résumé or social media so as to avoid wasting her time. She is unlikely to change her mind. In fact, she may even feel a bit like you were trying to swindle her. You are already off on the wrong foot. Maybe you like that challenge – we’ll address that in a bit.

#3 – Your age is an advantage. That is why the majority of leadership roles require more years of experience. The more you experience, the more you learn, the less trial and error you will use, AND the more time and money you will save. To put it simply, as long as you are still sharp, you will avoid making mistakes. This is valuable to any company, and if you’re trying to minimize your age, you’ll inhibit your ability to promote this tremendous value.

#4 – It’s in your best interest to avoid the employers whose culture allows age bias. An allowance such as this is most likely indicative of many other systemic issues. If you solve these problems, then the interview will look a lot more like you consulting to them, but you would have to be an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) master to have built the kind of rapport necessary in the interview process to show them the error of their ways and gain their buy-in to change it. If you don’t solve these problems, don’t you think it’s best to just avoid them?

Some people feel very confident that if they could get past the first screen, which would otherwise exclude them because of their age, they could convince the interviewer to give them the offer. You do you, I say. If you’re really that awesome and convincing, go for it. And, if you find over time it’s not working, try it the other way – being transparent from the get-go.

If you don’t feel as confident, decide now if you want to spend your time trying to change people’s mind about age or if you want to target companies that already value what age brings the table. Pending you have a strong brand and campaign, you will land faster and experience less frustration if you are outright about your age because you will only be spending time with employers who don’t care about age.

However, if you feel it’s important to shift the paradigm, expect that it will take extra time to educate people and be prepared for frustration when some minds don’t change. Because you will be facing a less receptive, perhaps even hostile audience, you also need to put in 4x as much effort and time to generate double the interview activity, as your “closing rate” goes down.

I don’t have any actual numbers, because people don’t openly admit to discriminating based on age, but from my experience as a recruiter, hiring managers choose one candidate over another based on a myriad of other reasons. Rarely would I suspect that there was age discrimination. Sometimes I was given feedback that I was prohibited to relay to the candidate, and just had to tell them that the client chose someone else. Often the reasons were a mystery. I recall many times a candidate was chosen because of an internal relationship, or a common interest, or just really hit it off with someone. Age discrimination and bias happen, but not as frequently as you would think.

You are most likely finding it harder to leave a job because the more experienced you get, there are statistically fewer positions toward the top. Also, if you were using a way to look for a job that worked many years ago and wondering why it’s not working now, it’s not your age. What used to work years ago doesn’t work as well now and as you gain more experience, certain activities are just less effective. You have to be more strategic and less tactical.

And, even though if you look at an organization chart as a triangle, you can see that there are fewer positions at the top. That doesn’t mean you have fewer chances to land that job. Your chances of landing a job actually have little to do with the amount of opportunity available and much more to do with your ability to be competitive for those roles.

Brand yourself as someone wise but in touch, someone who can elevate standards of the workforce around them, and someone who will set the company up for success by helping them avoid costly mistakes.

Some companies have learned the hard way that hiring less expensive talent can lead to MASSIVE costs downstream. If they have learned, they are now seeking and willing to pay for experienced talent. If they haven’t learned, they’re dying, and you don’t want to go down with them.

With technology evolving at breakneck speed, you’ll have to demonstrate that you can keep up, that you are agile enough to pivot on a dime, literally, but also maybe physically.

This actually touches on a different kind of illegal discrimination – health. Sick workers cost companies money. Recruiters and hiring managers are not really supposed to be privy to any medical information throughout the interview process. However, if you show signs of illness or, let’s just say not wellness, then there could be bias against you.

As wrong as that is, fighting against this bias can become a full-time job, and one that has no guarantee of income. It can be a futile waste of energy that is probably better spent on your well-being and peace of mind.

By keeping yourself in as good a shape as possible, you’re not only projecting health, but you project that you value yourself. Why would anybody else value you, if you don’t?

There are some things that we are genetically predisposed to have and accidents happen that can leave us disabled, but there are things within our control that we can do.

We can get enough sleep. We can quit bad habits like smoking or eating junk food, and we can eat more vegetables and exercise regularly. (Hypnosis is highly effective for this! Book here!)

Now we also know that our brain has plasticity, meaning it can still develop and re-develop, so we can also keep our brains sharp with the right nutrients and activities. Dr. Daniel Amen has some great education on this. You may have also heard of the mobile game Lumosity, which is designed to help keep cognitively fit. Even just playing chess, dancing, and doing crosswords have been proven to do this.

Sensitivity to and anticipation of age discrimination is often a greater detriment than age itself. It keeps you in a victim mode versus an empowered mode. You will project less confidence in your interviews. You may even be a bit more defensive or over-compensate by being overly energized.

Yes, age discrimination does happen, but it’s most likely not the reason you are finding it more difficult to land AND you can overcome it in less time (weekly and overall) with effective branding and campaigning. There are 3 spots left in April if you want one-on-one help in this area. You can book a free consultation here. If you prefer the support of a group setting or you have a small budget for this type of assistance, a live 6-week group coaching session will start in late April. The first module is FREE and you can watch it here.

 

Don’t let anyone keep you from contributing to your brilliance. I will help you take control, shine your brightest, and continue realizing your potential.

Fleetwood Mac – Landslide

i do not own this song, no copyright infringement intended Lyrics: I took my love, I took it down Climbed a mountain and I turned around And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills ‘Til the landslide brought it down Oh, mirror in the sky What is love?