When did it become OK not to respond?

October 5, 2010

I was on the panel  this morning for the MSP-HR Networking group regarding phone interviews.  (If you are an HR Pro in the Twin Cities, you should be a part of this group check it out on LinkedIn under groups – MSP- HR).   It was an interesting discussion and I learned a lot myself about phone interviews and how different people conduct them.  The thing that stuck out the most was a throw away comment by one of the participants who said

Not that you expect a response from a company anyway

Excuse me?  When did we as recruiting professionals get to the point where candidates don’t expect us to respond.  Have we gotten to the point where an auto response is welcomed, a personalized e-mail is lauded and a phone call is exceptional?  It sure sounds like it.  I know we are all overworked and probably underpaid.  But candidate response is a way to distinguish your company.  Steve Fienberg Corporate recruiter with Buffalo Wild Wings (what a great job he ha) said he follows up with candidates via phone after phone screens.  Now that is service – which is what BWW is known for.  What is your corporate brand?  Do candidates remember you for your service, or lack there of?

Giving feedback to people is hard, giving timely feedback is even harder.  But imagine the rewards.  Maybe it’s time we got back to honest to goodness customer service.  When did it become the norm rather than the exception when we respond to candidates.  It doesn’t take much.  Have your form letter to decline a candidate, but put your name and e-mail address on it and take the time to put their name as well.  It may take an extra couple of seconds, but I can assure you, the effort it worth it.

I cringe every time I send an auto reply to candidates who have submitted resumes.  But I do include my name and e-mail.  I respond to those who respond back with feedback if possible.  It is a small thing, but small things mean a lot.  Take the time.  Respond.  I bet you will be surprised at what happens.


What a Difference a Year Makes

September 22, 2010

Sitting in a job transition meeting yesterday  morning, listening to the Sarah Bridges the speaker talk about change and transition it hit me.  One year ago, my business partners walked into my office and said “This isn’t working.”  With those three words, my world changed and I became a statistic unemployed.

The last year has been quite the journey.  I learned the truth to the old saying “When God closes a door, he opens a window.”  Only in my case, when God closed that door to employment, he opened a whole new world to me.  I  gained new friends and lost old friends.  I found out a lot about myself and what I did and didn’t want to do with my life.  Relationships deepened and changed.  And, I also found another job. Here are some of the things I have learned in the past year

Take time – Being in transition sometimes it seems time is the only thing you have.  Use it wisely.  Take the time to take stock in your life, re-examine who you are and where you have been.  Really think about where you want to go.  Enforced time off isn’t fun but it is a great gift if used wisely.

Build Relationships – Networking is the new buzz word for job seekers.  Everyone tells you to network, but few people know how to do it effectively.  Networking is just another way of making friends.  Talk to people, tell them your story.  You have just as much to offer them as they do you.  But remember, it is all about the give and take.

Ask for help– Easy to say, hard to do.  In our society, asking for help is frowned upon.  It is implied if you need to ask for help, there is something wrong with you.  On the contrary asking for help is a sign of strength.  When you ask for help you give someone else the opportunity to be gracious.  If someone doesn’t want to help you, they will tell you.  If you don’t ask, you won’t receive.  There are so many job transition groups and other resources out there to help.

Give yourself a break – looking for a job is stressful don’t let anyone tell you differently.  I thought I would land a job immediately  and when one month started to stretch to two to three… well you get the picture.  You need to take care of yourself because no one else will.  Get out and take a walk, go to the gym, do something to relieve your stress.  You will feel better about yourself and will be amazed at your change of attitude.

Smile – even when it hurts– Attitude is everything when you are in transition.  Work through your anger and frustrations before you even think of applying for a job.  Keep checking your attitude, a recruiter can sense an angry or desperate candidate a mile away.

Never forget– when you do get that new job (and you will) don’t forget what you have learned during your transition and continue on.  Keep networking, take time for yourself and ask for help.  In today’s economy, no job is secure.  Keep up your contacts and help the unemployed you can understand what they are going through.

I didn’t ask to become unemployed.  But looking back, it was the best thing that could have happened to me.  I was in a toxic job that was taking a toll on my career, my family and my health.  What seemed like the end of the world at the time ended up being one of the best things that has ever happened.  But that happens a lot.  What we initially perceive as a negative, often turns into a positive.


So Shoot me, I’m not perfect – and No You Didn’t Get the Job

August 21, 2010

When I was unemployed, I vowed, that once employed I would respond timely to people with feedback on their applications when possible.  I thought the personal touch was important and part of what set me a part from other recruiters. After this week, I am starting to rethink this policy.  Better to remain anonymous and not have to take the heat is my thought.

I have noticed a trend, especially over the summer where candidates have been not only rude, but down right hostile.  At first, I put it off to people being frustrated and upset about being unemployed.  Trust me. I understand.  Been there done that.  But what I don’t understand is letting that frustration spill out onto the very people who can help you get a job.

I did a phone screen with a guy who wasn’t experienced enough for the position I had opened. I told him that and explained that I would like to consider him for other position that become available.  He challenged me on why I didn’t think he was a fit, I explained again, and yet he still kept badgering me.  By the end of the conversation I had eliminated the idea of hiring him for any position.

If you are  candidate, check your anger and frustration at the door.  Recruiters for the most part, stay in the business because the like helping people.  Like Denny Crane says  in Boston Legal- “help me, help you. ”  Here’s how you can do that

Be nice– Like I said in a previous post, the people who are hired are the ones who the hiring manager likes.  Yep, you can try to connect directly with the hiring manager but in most companies, you are going to be directed to work with me  – the dreaded HR Recruiter.  Responding to my rejection e-mail by saying “Did you even read my resume?” probably isn’t a good way to start the dialogue. Because not, I didn’t read your resume because the questionnaire you answered showed you didn’t have the software we want.  I know, it’s listed as preferred, but with over 150 applicants in one day, I can be picky.

That’s it.  Just be nice. Understand that I make mistakes.  You are right, I should have called you about the interview you had two weeks ago, but I didn’t.  Calling me to followup was a good move, but after I apologize for not following up with you I don’t need you to recite to me some poem about someone, everyone and no one.  You still didn’t get the job for a Customer Service Manager and now I know why.

Am I sounding bitter?  Well I am.  I am one person who is trying to give candidates the best hiring experience I can.  Trouble is, I am overworked, underpaid and trying to do too much at one time. Things get missed I am not able to call everyone I want and give you the feedback you want and need.

Don’t snap at me and don’t bite me and we will all get along just fine.


It’s all about the connections in an interview

August 18, 2010

She hung up on me.  At first, I thought it was an accident, I hadn’t finished my spiel about thanks for interviewing with us and good luck with your job search.  But no, the e-mail I received an hour later confirmed it.  She didn’t get the job and she was mad, and hurt and desperate.    Her e-mail was short and to the point

I have the dubious task of telling Minnesota’s Unemployment people why again I was rejected for a job.  Please share with me what my failings were.

My first thought was “well if hanging up on me and the tone of your e-mail aren’t enough to show why you didn’t get the customer service job, I don’t know what to tell you.”   A little snarky but true.  My response to her went something like this

We had many qualified candidates that applied and interviewed for this position.  We decided to go with someone who was a better fit for this role and the team.

 Have a great day,

I know totally useless as far as feedback but also true.  No matter what the position, it all comes down to building rapport with the interviewer(s).   If the person interviewing you doesn’t connect with you, you probably won’t get the job.  This has always been true, but especially in today’s market when there are so many incredible people vying for so few jobs. 

Make the effort before the interview to get to know the person you will be meeting with.  When the interview is set up, ask for the name and title of the person you will be meeting with and then and then Google their LinkedIn profile. 

All you have to do is put

First Name Last Name LinkedIn  Company Name 

in the google search box and their profile should show up  in the search. 

Check out their profile, look at the groups they belong, find similar interests.  (chances are, they are doing the same for you).  It is amazing what you can find out about someone.

When you arrive for the interview, look them in the eye and shake their hand firmly.   If you are in their office, comment about something in their office – an award, picture, anything that will help you to build that connection quicker. 

Think of the interview as a conversation, not an interrogation.  Relax, sit back and have a genuine interest in the person you are interviewing.   There will always be people more qualified they you interviewing, but if you can build the relationship, you have a better chance of getting the job.


The Closet full of candidates

August 6, 2010

I sometimes feel my hiring managers think I have a  bunch of candidates that I am hiding in my closet at home or under my desk.  These aren’t just any candidates.  Nope, these are the super stars, the ones my hiring manager has been looking for months. 

Typically I am asked about my closet candidates when the search for the perfect candidate has gone on for over a month.  The conversation starts like this.  

Hiring manger:  “So, there isn’t anyone else?” 

Me “No. Just the 150 people I phone screened and sent to you.   I have done a search on google, contacted all the associations, tapped my LinkedIn network and am at a loss of where to look next.  Maybe we should look at whittleing down the requirement list to 40 “must have” instead of the current 150.

Hiring Manger: “Are you sure?” as he takes a peek under my desk.

Me:  ” Sigh.  Let me look again.”

We also have this conversation when I find 2 or 3 great candidates.  Like the chicken crossing the road, the hiring manager figures if I found these awesome people, there must be more. 

Me: “So you really liked Jane, Dick and Harry, which one would you like to make an offer to?”

Hiring Manger: “I don’t know.  Are you sure there isn’t someone else who is better?”

Me:  “No.”  I say in my most authoritative voice – the one that causes the dog to rethink his plan of snatching the hamburger off the counter.  “You really have seen the best there is.” I respond more gently

Hiring Manager:  “Can I just take a peek in your closet and see?”

It’s not a conscious thought, but I truly think some of my managers think I am holding out on them.  Guys, my closet is so full I can’t even fit my shoes in it much less candidates.  I am giving you the best I can find.  I may hide my chocolate, but I promise, I’m not hiding candidates from you.


Unemployment benefits – where is the benefit?

July 21, 2010

I have mixed thoughts of the unemployment extension bill that is on hold in the senate.  There is plenty of debate who is at fault.  Democrats say Republicans who don’t care about people.  Republicans say Democrats want to continue an out of control spending spree and want to have cuts elsewhere instead of  adding to an already unsustainable debt load.  

I am not sure that extending benefits are the way to help the unemployed.  Ok, for those of you who are bothering to read past this statement, let  me explain.  Unemployment Insurance is just a band-aid (an inadequate one at that) for the real issue –  jobs and personal responsibility.  We are becoming a society where everyone has their hand out and no one wants to take responsibility for their own actions.

No, I’m not saying being unemployed is your fault, I am saying being unemployed for an extended amount of time is your fault.  There.  I said it.  For some people “an extended amount of time” could be 2 years.  For others, it is 2 months.  It all depends on your situation.   But the fact remains that there are jobs out there and people are getting hired.  One of my favorite quotes is

Change happens when the pain of holding on becomes greater than the fear of letting go.”
Spencer Johnson     

If you have been unemployed for a long time, you need to change what you are doing.  If there are no or limited jobs in your field, you need to find a way to learn a new job.  If you are not getting interviews, you need to change your resume or your approach to applying for jobs.  Getting interviews but not getting the job?  You need to get help with your interviewing skills.  Are you starting to see a trend here?  You need to take action.  Stop waiting for the prince on a white horse to come rescue you.  Here are some positive steps you can take to get a job

  • Cut expenses– no really.  If can’t increase your income you have to cut expenses.  Get rid of the cable TV, stop going to Starbucks, sell your car, get rid of your Blackberry and get a cheap plan, sell your house and move into an apartment do what you need to do to survive. 
  • Get information – here is a listing 100 career blogs filled with ideas and suggestions. 
  • Go to your local unemployment office– that is what they are there for – to help you
  • Attend a  job transition group meeting here is a list of groups in the Minneapolis area
  • Talk to your creditors – ignoring your bills isn’t going to help.  Letting your mortgage company know what is going on can help
  • Ask for help- People are willing to help, sometimes you just need to ask.  This is a great website  that has resources for the unemployed

And once you get that job? Be prepared.  Chances are, you will be unemployed again.  Take steps to make it more bearable:

  • Live within your means
  • Start a savings account and put money away so that if you lose your job again, you won’t end up in the same boat
  • Keep networking – Keep in touch with people you have met during your job search.  Go to industry events and programs.  Don’t wait until you need it to develop a network.
  • Get insurance – there is mortgage insurance that will defer your mortgage payments if you lose your job, get sick or have other life changing events
  • Seek out those who are unemployed and help – review their resume, introduce them to someone, buy them lunch or just give them a shoulder to cry on.

The good news, you are not alone, the bad news is that you are the only one who can get the job.   Being employed is a choice.  

Paul DeBettignies,  the MN Headhunter has this on his e-mail as a tagline.  “Blame no one.  Expect nothing.  Dog something.”   Truly words to live by.


What not to say

July 14, 2010

I received this from a candidate who interviewed for a senior level IT position.  

I do not know what kind of company XXX is – Private, Public or Quasi. Knowing few people (three in all including the Front Desk Person), I repent that why I took time to go and talk to people like these. I do not remember the name of the guy I met – May be because of  professionalism the guy showed during and after the interview. When he first walked in he did not care to provide with his company business card.  During the interview – guy went on defensive – Keep folding his hands in a defensive posture. After the interview, he came out and talked to you and you went in a defensive posture as well.

 I am very discreet where I apply for a job. I usually do not like to apply unless it is a fit for my skills and experience. But during the whole interview this guy was trying to judge me.  Question is why? Do I know him? He made me puke. I wanted to give benefit of doubt but now that is all evaporated as to how this client of yours have communicated and behaved during and after the interview. Feeling is, you got to belong to certain pack to work with a guy like him.  

 To put the icing on the cake, what kind of company puts Fox Cable channel on its reception (except may be restaurants). Go ahead  secure your job for long term by spreading the word.

I don’t know what prompted this rant.  Job search frustrations, bad day who knows.   I do know because of the e-mail, the candidate is no longer being considered.   I’m just saying.