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Posts Tagged ‘hiring manager’

Fix It Or Forget It?

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

When an interviewer poses a brain teaser to you, it may seem tedious, but the reasoning behind it is to see how you’d deal with stress on the job. It’s also to assess your personality: are you more optimistic or pessimistic?

Since nobody would come right out and respond, “I tend to be a pessimist,” many interview exercises are designed to reveal such things that you might not intentionally disclose otherwise.  Quite a few candidates are now being asked to take a personality assessment test prior to being considered for employment.  Employers want to see how quickly people think on their feet and out of their comfort zone.

Eleanor* contacted me, frustrated, for help, because her months of job search efforts hadn’t paid off.  What I saw in her results was more promising than she realized, though. She didn’t properly interpret what she received.

Eleanor was looking to return to the job market after having been a stay at home mom for several years.  Although she had been working hard to reestablish contacts and network, it became obvious that she was technologically behind and simply didn’t understand some current protocols in today’s job hunting etiquette.

She showed me an email she had sent to a manager, asking for information about an upcoming recurring seasonal temporary position.  Eleanor mentioned a mutual friend they have in common who recommended her for the position, then attached her resume and asked for the manager to review her resume and a time to meet when they might discuss any suggestions that the manager had to bolster or improve her resume.

In the manager’s response to Eleanor, she told her that the recurring seasonal position probably won’t be renewed for the upcoming season, due to budgetary problems, but that a different job might be available instead (it’s still not confirmed).  She gave Eleanor a name and contact information to follow up with for verification of this later in the month.

Eleanor used this email to demonstrate her disgust with how unhelpful people are, lamenting, “She didn’t even mention my resume!  You’d think she could take some time out of her schedule to have a short meeting with me, wouldn’t you?”

Although Eleanor called to engage my services, it was clear she was ready to Forget It! so I tried to take her step by step through this particular email and show her several positives where she saw negatives.

For one thing, I told her, the fact that she got a response at all is an indicator that someone cared . . . most people wouldn’t bother to write back.  This was clearly a personal response, too – not a form letter.  Another good sign.

Answering Eleanor’s question with “this position isn’t available” was helpful, but the manager didn’t stop there.  She obviously cared enough to offer help about another possible available position (and didn’t have to), along with a name and contact information.  These are all positive indicators.

While it’s true that the manager didn’t respond to Eleanor’s second request about meeting or critiquing her resume, I pointed out that this topic was all lumped into the end of the same paragraph as the first request.  It was obvious by the footer in the manager’s response that the she had replied from her mobile handheld device, which means that scrolling large amounts of text is cumbersome – and downloading a document is virtually impossible.

A better way to have sent this message would have been for Eleanor to break up each idea into its own very short paragraph, and send a link to her online resume, I explained.  Then, the manager could have more easily noticed the second request and connected online to view the resume.

It was as this point that Eleanor confessed that she didn’t have an online portfolio, and we got to work on building her LinkedIn account immediately.  She also upgraded her cell phone to a smartphone and began practicing texting and tweeting, to become more proficient with key words and how to market herself in today’s world.

Eleanor learned two different responses that she used whenever someone posed the “Do you see the glass as half empty or half full?” question to her that helped her seem more thoughtful and unique as well, depending upon her assessment of whether she found the manager to be more creative or analytical:

•     That depends.  If the glass is being filled, then it is half full; if it’s being emptied, then it is half empty.
•     Actually, the glass is entirely full:  half of it with water, the other half with air.

When Eleanor realized more what it’s like from the HR manager’s perspective, we were able to Fix It! and set her up on several interviews, until ultimately, she got a job offer with a company that was a good fit for her.

Changing her tactics – and mindset – helped Eleanor develop better interview skills and portray a more confident, talented candidate to each hiring manager she met with thereafter.  She didn’t just say she had a more positive outlook.  She actually found one, and it showed.

Do you have a Fix It or Forget It? story to share?  Send it to me, and it might help others.  Identifying features will be altered prior to publishing.

___________________________________________________________________________________
Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
—  Rita Mae Brown

Similar Posts:

Shelby* and Tisha* know that every interview can be a learning experience

Yvonne* and Zachary* have to deal with the unexpected during their interviews

Olive* learns about office politics and the importance of networking

Fix It Or Forget It?

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Smart job seekers know that a long term approach is best these days when scoping out that next new position.  It’s no longer a matter of skimming listings, sending out a few resumes, interviewing, then choosing which offer to accept.

Although there is no “magic number,” most people consider themselves quite fortunate if their job search produces an offer within the first six months to a year in this economy.  This can vary greatly, of course, depending on many factors.

First of all, there is an enormous discrepancy in how much time and effort each person sincerely puts into their search on a weekly basis, not to mention who stays with it consistently, week after week.  It can be difficult to maintain persistence in the face of constant rejection, but those who do will see a payoff sooner.  People who network with others in their field also reap the benefits of being put in touch with hiring managers more frequently.  It’s well established that many positions are hired through word of mouth and recommendations from others in the field, so becoming visible and connected is an endeavor worth pursuing.

Since it’s clear that your job search will most likely take several months to a year, it’s worth approaching with a more strategic stance, rather than waiting for job listings to appear and merely being reactive all the time.  Select a dozen – or two! – companies that you would most like to work for, and start keeping tabs on them.  What can you learn about the culture of these companies over time?  Not only will you be more prepared for an interview later on, but you may learn a better way to rank them by preference, in terms of a hospitable, professional or competent workplace.

Once she had a successful initial phone interview, I advised Eileen* to join the company’s Facebook page and also start following them on Twitter, so she could keep up with their latest news.  She was pleased when she got called in for a face-to-face interview soon after.

Eileen thought that everyone seemed to like her and her skills during the interview, and she was hopeful about getting an offer.  Although some aspects of the interview did seem to be a bit more informal than she was used to, she knew that every company is different, and this one was younger and smaller than the one she’d be coming from.

The HR manager told Eileen that they found her to be very qualified, but that they hired someone else for the position.  He then went on to say that they would be hiring some other positions in the near future, and asked if they could keep her resume on file, because they felt that she might be the right fit for one of those instead.

Eileen was disappointed, of course, but also flattered.  While she wasn’t going to hold her breath, this was a polite rejection.  Many other companies hadn’t even bothered to call and tell her she didn’t get the job. She had also seen other positions listed on the company’s social media channels, so she did feel that it was possible.

Over the next several months, however, Eileen noticed that there were actually many, many positions listed for hire with this company – some of them were the same position listed just a few months apart!

“It’s one thing for the company to be younger and smaller,” Eileen said, “But it’s quite another to see the kind of turnover they were obviously having!”

Several months later, the company did contact Eileen for a similar position to the one she’d previously interviewed for.  She decided to Forget It! “I told them, ‘Thanks, but I’ve already found another job,’ even though I hadn’t yet.  I didn’t want to burn any bridges, but there was no way I was going to work someplace that was so clearly unstable!”

Freida* worked in nonprofit marketing, and in addition to advising her to subscribe to the social media channels of the organizations that she most wanted to work for, I also suggested that she set up a designated email account.  This email account had the sole purpose of subscribing to various emails sent by the same organizations.  (I proposed that she use an email name completely different from hers for this account; she borrowed her deceased uncle’s name.)

Since Freida had experience in email marketing as well, she could gauge over time which organizations sent out poor, average or excellent e-newsletters, petitions, solicitations, etc.  She made three folders in her account and filed all correspondence accordingly.  Sorting each folder by sender also let her see the kind of volume and frequency each nonprofit was sending, which told her even more about the sophistication of a marketing position at each organization.

This type of background research allowed Freida to Fix It! when she was trying to pin down which specific organizations to target and pursue most aggressively.  Although it took her nearly a year to get the interview and job offer she sought, she found a good match with not only the position and salary she wanted, but also the organization, mission, size and culture.  Very little of it came as a surprise to her, due to her combined networking and immersion in their various communication channels prior to being hired.

Do you have a Fix It or Forget It? story to share?  Send it to me, and it might help others.  Identifying features will be altered prior to publishing.

___________________________________________________________________________________
Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
—  Rita Mae Brown

Similar Posts:

Audrey* and Brian* don’t feel recognized for their full potential

Noah* and Odelia* learn the importance of networking

Lucy* and Mildred* find their workplace environments difficult

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